The Summoner

Years ago I read a book by…I think it was by Marianne Williamson, and she made the point that we should look at our lives sort of like the hero journey(she’s not the first to have this idea but the way she wrote it stuck with me).  At the time, I was on a fairytale kick in my art.  So I set about translating her idea into the whole fairytale theme, you know, as one does lol.  In any case, that whole idea stuck with me over the years.  I began to intuitively translate subconcious stuff into stories.  About me.  And my world. And what it meant to me. Thoughts and ideas became creatures in my artistic shorthand and emotions became characters. Now…I rarely have thoughts or feelings without sort of seeing a creature or character in my mind.  This either makes me very imaginative or mentally ill.  Could be either one.  I’m not saying which.

So I was thinking the other day about how we sort of pull into our lives what we need to know to learn or grow or heal.  As I was journaling, I started to get the idea of that part of myself being “The Summoner”.  Rather than life happening to us, it’s working for us. This made me feel a lot better. ( I mean I knew that, but I haven’t been internalizing it lately.)  Because no one wants random chaos and crap in their lives.  And there seems to be a lot of it around these days.  So then I thought…”what am I summoning into my life”…”am I even aware of that process” yada yada.  The answer is no. I’m not aware. But I see the results.  Oh yes I do. I know that I am summoning experiences to make me flow right outside of my comfort zone.  I know that I am stretching and morphing from one day to the next.  I know that I am working on many levels.  Because that’s what artists do….they transform the world around them with their vision.  And that right there…is the biggest summoning of all!

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It’s already the end of the world!

Those of you who know me…know that I live with anxiety.  And yeah…I can’t really even pass it off as one of those cool artist kind of things.  Because it’s not cool. Oddly,  I don’t usually think of myself as a person with an anxiety disorder,  which is funny, since a pretty solid chunk of my day is governed by the fact that I am a person with anxiety disorder. Anxiety can turn something as simple as my morning chores into a psychological game show, where I’m constantly trying to figure out the correct answer before the timer runs out. Do I get dressed now in case I need to go to the hospital for a terminal disease/heart attack/catastrophic health event, or wait because if I move it might just set off the cascading effects of said disease/heart attack/catastrophe?  Oops, you chose wrong, and now you’re having a panic attack! Not only that but you’re not even dressed properly…lol.  But thank you for playing “Generalized Anxiety Disorder”!

Over the years I’ve used lots of therapies…some that worked and some that were laughable but hey…I tried them just in case.  But here’s the point.  The one that has been most valuable…the one that is a life saver….is my journaling practice.  My right arm is my secret weapon.  When I feel overwhelmed, chaotic, in over my head, when it feels like the end of the world…I sit down to practice my art in a journal.  I sit down to tour my imagination, and get those subconscious thoughts out on paper.  You can’t heal if you don’t deal…lol.  To get all hippiewoo on you.   And here’s what I know.  Anxiety, for me, is coming from suppressed emotions/thoughts.  I make it a practice to share those thoughts and emotions everyday.  In my journal.   I let my subconscious out to take a walk.  To send light to those dark crazy spaces.  Because anxiety is not the boss of me. It’s not even a good survival technique for me.  And It’s most definitely not a good fashion look for me.  True Story!

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You can blame others or save yourself!

Either or.  Not both I’ve decided.  IT’s a funny thing about lessons.  They come when you need them right?  But in my case, I often notice a lesson playing out for others, before I realize that the dang lesson is for me.  So I’m going along watching others struggle with something and feeling like I got it HA!  and then I realize…dang the lesson is for me…not for them. Or maybe it’s for them…but it’s for me too.

This particular lesson has come up about ten times in the last four or five days.  Because, you know, I couldn’t get it the first time.  So, I’ve found myself , hypocritically, trying to point this lesson out to those around me. While not really practicing this little piece of spiritual advice myself.   I hate when I’m a hypocrite.  Ugh.

So, today, I sat with this thought while going about my other responsibilities.  Hey universe…I get it.  Blaming others leads to a whole lot of victim hood, depression, fear blah blah. Then I thought for awhile about how you can avoid blaming others.  At first, I was kind of like…“hey, other people do wrong you sometimes.  Other people can be wrong.  Murderers for instance…child abusers, people who interfere with your joy and happiness, liars (and there’s alot of that on the American scene right now) That is all true I said to myself.  Dang right it’s true I answered myself back”!  Still…what’s the answer to not blaming? Because blaming someone ….even if you think they deserve it… is still not going to get you down the path of healing and enlightenment right?

I suspect that the answer is different for different people.  But here’s what I came up with if it helps…

1.  Identify the problem.  Take a real,  realistic honest look at what is really bothering you.  Look at it from different perspectives.  What makes it better?  What would make your feelings about it change? Can you understand where the other person was coming from?  If not, can you at least get out of the blaming space?

2. Face your fears…take responsibility for resolving it.  No one is going to fix it for you. Most times the person you are blaming is not going to fix it because who even knows what their experience of the whole situation is?  They may be blaming you right back or have some other agenda that you’re not even aware of. Hey…they have their own journey and you have yours.  Save yourself is what I’m saying.

3. Don’t waste your time feeling bad and doing nothing.  Do something.  And if you can’t do something now…then let it go until you can. Really let it go.  Don’t do that martyr thing because… nobody looks good doing all that.

And last but not least…something I learned from Marianne Williamson….Pray hard for the person who you feel has wronged you. For days.  Either it will change them or it will change how you feel about what they did. Or you will get tired and move on to some other problem…lol.  You think I’m kidding but I seriously don’t have the behavioural  energy for long term blame, anger, and grudge holding.  For the most part, you have to really do me wrong in order for me to remember to be mad. And even then I mostly forget.

Now, if I can just put all that into practice…laughter…I’ll let you know.  Guru-in- practice Fonda…signing out.

Taking a Mother’s day Inventory….

 

Do you take your own inventory periodically?  Ok, well I do.  This is where I think about the things I’ve accomplished (or not) in my life.  Here’s what stands out for me today in thinking about Mother’s day coming up.   Could be something different tomorrow. Depends on the mood.  But this is it for today..

I most definitely have helped some children find their way.  Evan and I have six children between us.  I love them.  But.. it was a big adjustment.  You know that part in the Grinch where his heart was six sizes too small?  Each child that comes into your life causes your heart to grow. Mine is six sizes larger than it was previously.  It had already grown significantly with the birth of my two children.  So it knew how to stretch. Then it stretched some more.  Hey your heart is a muscle, it can stretch and stretch is my theory.  Being a step mom is not the easy path.  Not gonna lie.  But it is ultimately so rewarding.  Have I been perfect?  That would be a big “heck no”!. But the point is in the trying I think, and the doing, day after day.  The building up of your patience muscle (yeah, it has to match your heart muscle) is an exercise that you get to practice regularly.    It’s not often that a day goes by without someone needing me.  To listen, to witness, to advise, to mother…to pay…lol.  My family was really small and really sort of loners in some respects. In this family I’ve created and grown into…  I’m not often alone with my thoughts, especially during the summer.  You get to find an awful lot out about yourself and your abilities when surrounded constantly by younger people.  I wouldn’t change that for anything.  They’ve taught me so much about myself and mostly how NOT to be selfish ( And how far behind I am in the world of technology lol). . Ultimately it’s not about what we want….it’s about what we can do and give to someone else that makes our lives meaningful.  And they’ve taught me to question my beliefs that I somehow know what’s right for them.  Yep, they’ve taught me to challenge that belief a lot!

On top of our six children, I teach art to high risk children.  I have for about five years.  Oh the lessons that I’ve learned from this.  See…I thought I was teaching them.  Turns out I was the one who had so much to learn. Mostly I had to learn more patience, and about showing up consistently, and about works being so much more important than words.  I had to learn the hard way that not every child is open to expressing themselves.  In fact, most children who are in the middle of a struggle are not.  And isn’t that true of all of us? I had to learn to work on a subtle, below the surface kind of wavelength.  Gently gently pushing them to go a little deeper. Mostly hoping that there was a connection in the absence of all evidence to the contrary.  Yep…lots of lessons here for me.

I’m on a kick, recently,  to listen to the negative stuff in my mind and find out what the positive message is in that.  So in taking my inventory…although I may not make tons of money, drive the newest car, be the skinniest person(mainly because my heart is so dang big..lol) be as positive in some situations as I should be, have the best trained dogs, the cleanest house, make the best art,  or even make all the right decisions every day, I know that it’s ok to be who I need to be.  I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  Finding my way, helping young people find theirs, or at least supporting them in their journey to find their way…just one positive turn around in the negative chatter.  Yay!

Where She was Standing When She Lost The Flow

Ok, don’t judge me.  I think of my creative “flow” as a bright quirky goldfish.  She zips here and there and is generally all over the place.

Yesterday, I was in the “flow” big time.  Journaling away.  Then the kids started calling.  Our daughter (names withheld to protect me..lol) that is getting her Masters was overwhelmed and anxious.  She needed to be reminded that she could do it, and has done it and will continue to do it!  One of our other daughters texted me to check on party times for Sunday.  Our youngest daughter called to see if I would help her set up her classroom at the nonprofit where she works.  My son texted me to make sure I had picked up bread and snacks.  All within about an hour.  My flow just flew.

Once I got home from helping with the classroom….I sat down and tried to recapture where I was in my journal.  The above is all I could come up with in the thirty minutes before bed.  I can’t even remember my original idea.

I’m not complaining…I’m just stating the facts.  Sometimes/Most times when you have children, especially if you have as many as we do, your time is not your own.  And that’s ok.  I know without a doubt that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing when I’m dealing with these children.  Even though some of them are technically adults…they are still my kids.  Always will be. Evidently, I came into this world with a lot of Mom energy.

It’s a funny thing…there are lots of people out there who don’t really see raising kids as a life path, career, or even as work.  That’s ok.  But, for me, I don’t see any other way.  I kind of imagine it as being a steward of potentiality.  One of the kids we touch, teach, help along their way….may save this old world.  And I will be behind them clapping, cheering and wiping away a tear (with a paint rag most likely).

It’s more obvious for some than for others.

What do you do when you just don’t know the answer?  I have spent a lot of my life not knowing the answers to a lot of questions that well meaning people have asked me over the years.  I am a bona fide expert in this field.  For instance, I was always in awe of my friends and family who knew definitively what they wanted to do.  To be honest, I often wondered if they were lying.  lol.  I mean how did they know at 18 that they wanted to be a doctor or teacher or whatever? I say, good for all of you people who knew and know what you wanted to do or be.  Even better if you knew the how, and why, and wherefores.  Those of you who knew/know all that don’t need to read further.  As a matter of fact, you should probably share with the rest of us how you did that.  But for those of you who are not always sure like me….read on.

I often will look to the past to try and help me navigate the future.  But in truth, the past is just the past.  It’s not the future.  It’s not even always a good predictor of the future.  Mainly because we are not the “self” from our past.  We’ve changed and hopefully grown into a whole new person. So…strike that technique to find answers off the list.

I know people who will look to other successful people for answers.  That might be a good technique for some… but for me…. not so much.  Because,  I am not that other person.  And if I am doing what someone else says they did, well it might be okay for a minute, but ultimately I’m not going to react the same way they did forever. And it’s not who I am.  It’s not authentic for me.   So I had to strike that idea too.

So what does work?  What is the “answer” (literally and figuratively)? It took me awhile to realize that the answers are not as important as the questions.  That’s right, you heard it here.  Our society seems to be answer driven.  But what about the lessons we learn as we journey to the answer?  What about that huh?   What about the unfolding in time so that we have a chance to internalize the lesson? It seems to me that the “good” answers are the ones that show up in our lives from a lesson we learned.  Not because we skipped the lesson and went right to the answer.  I know it’s what we all want, instant gratification.  Hey, I’m right there with you.  I’m all about instant gratification.  Unfortunately, the glow from instant gratification sure doesn’t last very long.  And then, you’re right back where you started.  Lost.

What it comes down to is this, for me……I don’t know how to find the answers other than to just live the journey.  That means living with the unknown and sometimes unknowable. So, mostly my prayer is to ask the right questions, to have the strength to live with them, and to recognize the answers when they show up in my life.  TA DA!!   Pretty dang wise you say?  I have to agree.

And yet…she persisted!

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I recently had someone tell me on Facebook that they were tired of all the political stuff.  I get it.  I do.  But how can you be tired of fighting for whats right?  There are bad people out there that count on us to get tired.  In fact, they count on it so much that you hear it on the news and from elected officials.  Constantly. They’ve even begun to spread rumors that the outrage of the American people is being paid for by “liberal activists”.  I haven’t received a dime nor would I expect to.  This is the American way. Not my job!!

And there are people out there who don’t understand why the “liberals” are upset.  They want us to give this new administration a chance.  I’m not one to use a broad brush in painting people who are different from me, people who believe differently, as evil.  I don’t believe that.  But I do believe that there are people who are ok with evil things happening as long as it doesn’t affect them or their loved ones.  This will not play out well for anyone.  We have to get involved.  We have to have a dialogue about the direction of our nation.  Democracy is a spectator sport.  It just is.   So today….I only ask that people get involved.  In whatever you believe in.  I will not try to argue you around to my admittedly liberal point of view.  But I will ask you to reflect how you would feel if some of the things that are happening today…happened to you, or your family.  OM.

The Truth

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Recently, Julia  called me from the Boys and Girls Club because she was writing an art grant.  She was curious about my methodology for teaching art to the teens.  My behind the scenes thought processes.  I’ve thought about that conversation for several days.  I thought to myself that the teens will probably never know how much time and thought I put into their lessons.  Just the generation of ideas, for projects day in and day out, can be exhausting. I know, for myself, that just the putting together of supplies for specific projects and the working thru of methods for students in different stages of skill development is enough to wear me out….I can’t imagine art teachers in public schools doing all of that.

But the main thing that stayed on my mind was this…I don’t want the facts to get in the way of the students’ truth.  So the facts are these…these students of mine will not grow up to be artists, for the most part.  Even though they are incredibly talented, I know that their lives are so difficult, on so many levels, that an art career is out of the question.  Just the sheer amount of practice necessary to become proficient is something most of them will not be able to do.  Several years ago I had the realization that I could not teach them art.  That’s right.  NOT.  So I had to back up and wonder what I could teach them.  What would be the most valuable way to spend my time?  You know, my husband and I have six children.  I’m 52.  My time is limited in the extreme. So how could I “give back” and serve these kids that I made a commitment to?

Here’s what I decided, in case you’re interested or thinking of teaching at a nonprofit.  I cannot teach them art, but I can teach them the benefits of art.  And, for me, the benefit of art is being able to tell my truth.  I want them to tell their truth, whatever it may be.  A lot of their art is raw, uncomfortable and ugly.  That’s perfect.  Every day, every month, every year that I can spend teaching them to art their truth out …is another day I’m successful.  And ultimately that they are successful.  I believe that it’s not enough to just get through your day, I believe that it’s not enough to just exist.  I want them to believe that too.  I want them to think, deeply, about who they are and why they are here.  To understand themselves and the context of their lives.  I want them to not only point at the moon, but to see it.  I want them to become comfortable telling their truth, despite the facts.

Sometimes the facts are grim…sometimes their truth is too.  That’s ok. I can’t change the facts but , It’s enough I think, for them to be heard, understood, and to pour their emotions out onto the page.  If I can facilitate that…their truth…then I’ve taught them something.   I’m listening and the people who see their art are listening too.  That’s a lot more people listening to these children than were listening previously. We all just want to be heard.  This art that we do together is the vehicle for that process.  I’m working at teaching them to drive it without worrying what it looks like.  It’s enough for me that the engine works.11986541_1133544983325861_2640067883030745446_n 11988721_1133544839992542_5513433865370976583_n 11990487_1133544826659210_8683497545799811215_n 11990631_1133545479992478_169850887869452727_n  12003293_1133545186659174_2656421595472490188_n 12004088_1133545423325817_7635991914060503939_n  12009606_1133545023325857_4687006686900331704_n 12011244_1133544923325867_2365988629101261136_n Magic final

 

In my Spare time (new listings)

So in my spare time…I create.  Little moments stolen from the demands of life in a big family.  I haven’t made the time lately to make sure that my listings were updated on Etsy.  But I did today.  Woot! And it is very cool sometimes to see all of this artwork together and realize that you can create a body of work in those small moments.  You can.

 

Alien Thoughts bear channel Choose thoughts that bring relief claim your strength you are not that fragile Culturally transmitted madness Driving the Prejudice Vehicle is a dead end job hush hush I Am You I know you by your opposites listen as hard as you can mostly just a dream mother maiden crone Not bone tired but heart tired objects of scrutiny Once there existed a golden time One day at a time Playing the part despite her ancient knowledge Rabbit Requiem of doubt secure in the strength she was born with Some angel that wanted you to choose to breathe Tell The Truth The magic never left you The Unique Ones tired of watching every step waiting on the next step to be revealed what goes on in the pauses What if you're just too damn tired whispering fairy tales to my inner child