Monthly Archives: August 2012

Crazy Always Goes Undefeated

Anyone who knows my husband, likely knows he has a beautiful voice.  I think it may have been while he was singing a Billy Joel song accompanied by his best friend, Bill Kelly that I knew that I was in love with him.  He has sung in divers places from professionally in clubs, to the jail band as well as the choir there.  He can sing an Elvis song like nobody’s business and I feel like my voice is prettier when we sing hymns together in church. As accomplished as he is, he once told me that he can have a crowd full of admirers and still have just one person mention a perceived missed note to ruin an entire performance.

Today I had news of a personal detractor spreading what I can only believe were untruths about me.  I say it in this way because I don’t know exactly what was said, only that “That woman” meaning me, “is not welcome in my home.” This is surprisingly disturbing to me, since I’ve never actually been invited to her home to begin with.  But still.

In my perfect land, I would call both the spreader of ugliness as well as the receiver and we would talk, there would be a few tense moments, I would see where I could have done some things better, and explain what I felt the misunderstanding was.  Perhaps we would tear up.  If it were all in person, at the end of the discussion, we would all hug and leave the situation richer people, if not friends.

This can never be. It has been my sad experience that in situations with certain people at certain times, attempts for greater understanding easily slip into name calling and arrow shooting. As my astute brother-in-law says “Crazy is never defeated.”

I have many people in my life who are loving and supportive. I feel blessed, and humbled to be surrounded by mentors and nurturing people.  My life is rich and full.  My family is a great support to me and every morning I wake up feeling like the luckiest woman in the world. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get under my skin when someone goes about telling people my notes are flat.

Image

If only there had been a sign.

Fly Your Freak Flag

I like to blog because thoughts flow out of my fingers that I didn’t realize I was having. I make admissions to myself even as I’m admitting them to you. As long as I read over my post a couple times before I publish it, I think we’re all safe. In that same vein, and on the subject of flying one’s freak flag, I submit to you for your reading pleasure:

Odd Things That I Do:

  1. I brush my teeth with my non-dominant  hand so that I can build new paths in my brain. I’m already smart, but I want to get, like, even smarter…
  2. I do weird, interpretive dances in my studio when I am absolutely certain no one will see but the goats, and they already find me odd. I think. Unless that’s anthropomorphism, and then not.
  3. I anthropomorphize almost everything. Or maybe it’s that I speak Spanish and I give everything a gender, thereby anthropomorphizing things.
  4. I like big words, but not for public consumption, only because I love a more precise way of saying something.
  5. I like to read things wrong. For instance, to this day, I sometimes smile about the fact that I consistently read a road sign wrong every time I passed it as saying “Good changes ahead” instead of the more likely “Road changes ahead.” I think seeing things in our own way can be more fun, so I practice it regularly.
  6. After a good deal of stress, since I’m not much of a crier, I will find something so incredibly funny that I will laugh until tears roll down my face and only after a good deal of self-control will I be able to stop. This serves as some sort of release for weird people. If you’re not a crier or you’re weird, you should do this too. I think it’s more fun than crying.
  7. I exercise for many reasons, but one of them is that I’d like to be in shape in case there were an apocalypse, zombie or otherwise (and if you’re not convinced there will be one, please read The Road by Cormac McCarthy).
  8. Every single thing that I put in my mouth to eat has a “Good for you”, “Bad for you” or a “Too much for you” rating in my mind. It can be exhausting.
  9. I still consider my career options as being completely open, brain surgeon, war photographer, French chef. None of these seem out of the running.
  10. One of my favorite forms of apology is called The Dance of Contrition, wherein, the offender, if they are truly contrite, will be called upon and willingly give an interpretive dance displaying the deep emotions of regret they feel.  This has been one of my favorite parenting tools with my children, and especially enjoyable with my teens.  It leavens the mood and is a good form of entertainment as well as exercise.

So, my friends, that’s that. Go out and proudly fly your freak flag today. I know mine is waving!Image

We Are Stardust And Silly String

Yesterday was one of those miraculously beautiful days on the Oregon Coast.  I went running, and about 3/4 of the way through it ran into Aaron on his morning walk.  It was a nice way to end the run and we walked the remainder of the way home.

While Aaron went into town for lunch with a friend, Zoë and I walked to sushi and went shopping, and later we all went to the 60’s Cafe for dinner.  Perfect day.

While Zoë and I were shopping, a song came on in the store.  She said, “This song reminds me of ________” and the sales girl smiled, saying that everyone comments about that song reminding them of someone. Zoë assured her that while it reminded her of _______, she was definitely over him. And the surprising response from our new friend was “Yeah, it takes a while after we say something to really mean it.”

I was amazed at this young woman’s insight. I started thinking about all the things I’ve had to “get over” through the years. And then I started thinking about how in the beginning I just said the words and it still took time for me to mean them. “I’m doing fine now,” is often a code we’re giving ourselves and others that we’re ready to move on, not that we necessarily have.  But the words come first. Always the words.

I think that’s true for everything.  They say everything is created spiritually before it can come to pass. Thoughts and words are the genesis. I think I will pay more attention to them.

Image

Risky Business

So apparently I was feeling the stress of my first show a lot more than I thought.  Then we had our little adventure at the emergency room early Sunday morning (I lied, I’m not going to talk more about that. Everything’s just fine and that’s all I have to say about that.)

Now it is Monday morning, my husband is healthy, and the show was a success and I FEEL BETTER! I mean I feel so so much better.

Rhonda Britten is a well known life coach and she teaches us about life situations that are stretches, risks or dies. That is, that we live in our comfort zones and each of us have individual limits in each of these areas. Some things feel doable – stretch, some things feel uncomfortable and a little scary – risk, and some things make us feel completely freaked out and vulnerable and totally worried – die.

I think the art show was a risk that lived on the border of Die Land. But I like to repress things and I actually like to live in Risk Land anyway, so it’s not uncommon for me to find myself, after an experience going, “Hey, I think I was more worried about that than I realized!”

What I love about stretching and risking is that afterward we always feel so much more powerful than we did before.  I have a young friend (shout out to Katie Kelly) who just spent six weeks in London on a University trip.  She is only 16 years old and traveled on her own for the first time and took college courses with older students.  It was so fun to talk to her when she got back.  Katie has a sparkly personality anyway, and she absolutely lit up when I asked her what her favorite lesson was.  “I found out I can do anything,” was her animated response!

Today I find myself at the beach, with the sun shining and the glow of knowing that I took a risk and it paid off.  But even on those days after a risk where I’ve fallen flat on my face, I still get a rush of excitement knowing that I survived.

I think when we take a risk we put a mirror up to our face and we get a better view of who we really are.  What we’re really made of.  And no matter what the outcome, the act of just lifting that mirror makes us a little bit stronger.

Image

The Show!

I’ve wondered how to communicate how the show went.  Last night/morning (while we were at the emergency room, more on that later), I tried to write this blog.  Perhaps it was that it was 4 a.m. or perhaps it is that it was an entire evening of a broad range of experiences and emotions.  I will summarize and then itemize.

 

The weather was lovely and the event was inviting and exciting. I felt appreciated and supported as an artist.  

Here is my list of why I had a fantastic evening:

1. Aaron and Zoë were total worker bees and superstars.

2. I felt like my art was on par with the event.

3. I remembered all evening to really hear the appreciative comments, and it felt like there were many.

4. I sold a painting at the very beginning of the evening and two more larger pieces as well as two prints as the evening wore on.Image.

5. One woman came around and told me that my work was her favorite of the evening.

6. The music was relaxing.

7. I felt pretty.

8. Two of my favorite paintings sold, and that encouraged me to trust my own taste.

9. Having Zoë there made me feel less awkward. She’s like the besty you bring to take the edge off an uncomfortable situation.

Image

10. I was invited back next year.

11. I have the most supportive, kind and encouraging husband on planet earth. (But no picture of him from the evening).

12. I want to work sooooo very hard and become a spectacular artist.

13. I totally feel like I have the support, encouragement and time to do it.

14.  Thanks for reading my blog.  I really appreciate it.

Image

Perfect Moments

Image

Today’s painting class was a far cry from the one I described to you from the beginning of the season. My friend, Barbara lives on the Alameda ridge in Portland in a charming home built during the 1920’s.  She recently renovated the home and graciously invited us to paint the view from the deck. It was a beautiful scene.  The day was warm with a gentle breeze and we were all invited to participate in a pot luck lunch.  Her home is charming and she is a gracious hostess.  The food was absolutely delicious and colorful and nutritious.  We took an extra long time to have lunch together, the conversation was easy and it was a little piece of perfection.

After class, I picked Chase up from the Kelly’s, got home and made dinner. Zoë got home in time have dinner as a family and then the two of us went down to my studio to look at the framed art, discuss the pieces and what the pricing should be and just talk after a too long separation.

One of the stories Zoë shared with me was about a perfect moment. Zoë is the head wrangler on a guest ranch in Montana. She spends her summers under the big sky of Montana, caring for the animals and taking would-be cowboys out on the open range.  She loves the work and the people she associates with on a day to day basis.

One particular day, as Zoë was bringing the horses in, she had a Dire Straits song playing as the sound track in her head. “Romeo and Juliet” played perfectly to the events of the wrangle as she ripped a branch to use as a mic, smacked a horse on the tail with it and eventually the music died down in her head as the horses headed in to pasture. It was, as she recalled, a perfect moment.

Laying on the floor and listening to my lyrical daughter share the joys of her day to day summer and feeling so in sync with who she is, was a perfect moment, as was my painting class with truly lovely people, my dinner with the abbreviated version of my family, and, and, and…

As we lay on the floor of my studio laughing and talking, we both agreed that the more we recognize those perfect moments, the more we seem to have them.  Lucky, lucky girls.

What Are You Looking For?

My family and friends have been delightfully supportive of my upcoming show and my artistic career in general. This has been very gratifying, as we all know life doesn’t necessarily play out that way every time. In this case I have a rock solid support system.  Maybe I’m lucky, or maybe I extricated the haters from my world.  Either way, I’m feeling very loved and encouraged and it feels nice.

Today I talked with my “Other Mother”. Life is funny and takes things we think we should have had, but also adds in bonuses we never could have expected.  My “Other Mother” is my mother’s best friend from early childhood on. Kim never had children of her own, and so she took my sister and I in as her own, along with all our children and everything that comes along with it. Kim has been with us through the glorious, triumphant moments of our lives, and she has mourned with us through our tragedies.

Today’s call was just a catch up call. How are all the kids? Who is up to what and how are they doing at it?  It wasn’t until the end of the call that we started talking about the art show this weekend, and it was then that she gave me some fantastic advice. Kim said, “I want you to listen all evening for the voices of encouragement. They will be there, and you need to hear them. Maybe you’ll take them and share them with other people, or maybe you’ll keep them to yourself to think about another day, but listen for them. They’ll be there, and you need to believe them.”

I was gob-smacked. What perfect advice.  I think the reason it hit me so hard is that if it weren’t for that very specific advice, I probably would have taken the kind words, balanced them with some sort of ego-stopping food for thought, decided they were just being nice, added in a dose of, “Yeah, but it could have gone so much better than it did,” or “Look how well the other artists did.” WRONG WRONG WRONG!

Why do we/I do that stuff?  I don’t know, but I don’t want to do it anymore. That said, I don’t want to do it anymore in my WHOLE life. Part of the reason I’m writing about this is that I want to remember to do it. I want to take all the voices of encouragement in my life and ride them like a wave. I want to do it every day.

Think about it. Those voices are there for you too. And even though there may be voices of dissent also, I think maybe it’s just a matter of which voices do we want to hear?  Which voices do we want to believe?

Come on, we all know the answer to this one!

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

― Shel Silverstein

Ready, Set… I’m Terrified!

Those are prints on the left hand side, all rolled up.  There are 15 matted and framed paintings, as well as a simple one that’s simply matted.  I have a few, that I will offer at a low price that are loose.

I’ve decided to set a low standard of success for the show.  Something like, if I don’t leave crying, then the whole night was a success.

The good news is that all I really need to do is get my set up together and I’m ready to go. Oh, and figure out what I’m going to wear.  Between now and then I should try to stop being nauseous and start being excited?

No Cheese With My Whine, Thanks

I really like life coaching. Even though I only finished my certification this year, I feel like circumstances set me up in such a way that I’ve been doing it for many. One of my favorite things about coaching is it makes me think about ways I can improve my own life. With every session I sit with my client and admire their commitments and aspire to be a little more like them.  Everyone wins.

So as I prepare for my upcoming art show this weekend, I find myself in the position of needing some coaching. It’s okay, I’m holding up fine, it’s just that… THIS IS HARD!

My family is all out of town and this is a blessing as well as a difficulty. The blessing is that I don’t have any distractions and have time to focus on the work I need to complete.  I don’t even need to clean up after anyone. Here’s the rub. While I get my paintings framed and try to find places to make prints and cards, I have no one to collaborate with, no one to ask “Does this look okay?”, and no one to get ideas from. This sucks!

So I’m getting all of my best tools out. I’m using all my best cheer-leading chants, “You can do this!” “It’s a-w-e-s-o-m-e that you are doing this by yourself!” “What a growing experience!”

Okay, maybe that’s not my best stuff, but it’s all I have right now.

Sometimes things are just hard and scary, even when it seems like they should be easy and fun. I think I’ll  just power through my work, and wait for the fun to arrive.  Let’s see, Chase get’s home on Thursday, so does Aaron, ZoZo gets home on Friday… Yeah, I can hold my own hand until then.Image