Entries from: February 2007

Waiting for Spring

February 27th, 2007, Comments (17)

Here's the art I made last night. It's also my "abandoned art" piece for Inspire me Thursday. I started drawing the tree after I did the crow piece last week, but it was late and I abandoned it and then lost interest. It was just a doodle anyways. I picked it up last night because I wanted to just play with no plan and I figured I could paint over the tree if I so chose. Well, this is what came out. It reminds me of the way there's all this potential in the earth, just ready to burst forth with life which seems so implausible when the sky is so gray and the trees so bare. I've got the bird ornaments tied onto the tree, an attempt to bring color to a gray landscape in the meantime, a reminder that color and life will return. It's a good metaphor for my winter blues in general and something I tell myself when I get depressed (doesn't always help, but it's good to remember) which is that "this too shall pass." And although I have trouble trusting this the way I can trust the seasons will change, I've seen that everything moves in cycles, so beneath even the darkest days there is growth and color just waiting patiently to burst forth.

It's ink, acrylic and bits of letter stencils collaged in on watercolor paper.

From today's Daily Om horoscope for Cancer, (it really spoke to me and how all the synchronicities pop up even more when I'm doing my mp's):

The universe speaks to us through many different channels. If we do not pay attention to one method, it will find another and another until we notice. Sometimes we may find that a particular theme seems to appear throughout every area of our lives; other times the faintest thought could take us onto untraveled paths. When we regularly take the time to connect to our center, where the source of our inspiration resides, we can more easily hear the whisperings of the universe. When we can follow our intuition, the universe may not need to employ so many ways to get our attention. Then we can move smoothly with the flow of life, following what seems like confusion to clarity. Confusion doesn’t need to leave you feeling lost. Instead you can let it guide you today to find the messages that can enable you to move more confidently through life.


February 27th, 2007, Comments (2)

I'm feeling all abuzz. I think I can hear/sense/feel the whispers of spring. They're not even whispers, they're rumblings, like a hungry stomach. Despite the winter that finally decided to settle on us with it's thick layer of white, gentle flurries and gray, gray skies, I know it's there anyways. This is what came out in the art I made last night, all this bursting color beneath the ground of a landscape that is dark and gray. I love my subconscious sometimes. I'm at work, so I'll post the art tonight. It felt *so* good to get creative last night. I was feeling pretty crappy through the weekend and then Sunday, the fiansor came down with the same bug and was violently ill, so I was taking care of him. Man oh man, it was a rough week for the two of us! Despite all of the negative, I feel so much closer to him somehow. All the stuff that came up just reaffirmed how much we love eachother. Love that. ok, before I get mushy...

I've been experiencing so much synchronicity lately it's making my head spin. The morning pages help to wake me up to this. I was intuitively drawing in a sketchbook before bed last week, something that was suggested to me by some book (I read a lot, so who the heck knows where that idea came from), just doodling some ideas, whatever comes to mind. And I started drawing a figure who turned into a trapeze artist, one trapeze artist with their legs curled over a bar reaching out to another trapeze artist who was flying in mid-air. And I thought to myself, yep, this is sort of how I'm feeling now, like that one in mid-air. And the next morning I followed a link to Patti's blog with a post called "Let go of the monkey bar" that was just filled with trapeze artist images. I got the shivers seeing it and I saved the post for later because I wasn't quite ready to read it. So, I read it this morning and it's a beautiful post with lots of words that support the process I'm going through. I'm trying to live in this mid-air space with as much joy as I can muster because god, it also scares the ever-living-crap out of me. I'm definitely one of those hold on to the bar as long as possible and then maybe just drop to the ground type of people. It's not that I fear change exactly. I think I often push myself off the edge of it to force myself out of my hesitations, but if given the opportunity to wait, I'll often wait too long and then go running back to what's safe. But I feel ready to be in this space, my body is fighting it or perhaps it's my mind that's fighting it and my body is paying the price, but I'm all nerves lately.

My mom tells me that when I was younger (and this actually happened all the way through college), the week before school and through the first week, I would get so nervous that I would have awful diarrhea every morning. I didn't show my nervousness outwardly, but my body made it clear how I really felt. No matter what I told myself or did to try and relax, every year it was the same. And that's sort of what this illness felt like for me, my body making it clear how I really feel about the changes ahead. The good news is, that once I got going, I relaxed into the new rhythm and things eased for me. So, ok, I know this about myself, I understand, I'm trying to have compassion for my poopy self. But how can I approach this differently? How can I see the unknown as more fun and less nerve-wracking? How can I release the pressure-valve in my head and let off some more steam?

The only thing I can think of is being gentle with myself, but also acting, meaning I need to get to work, create, do, play. We'll see how that goes this week. I'm bursting with ideas anyways, I ought to let them out.

It's funny, I'm usually able to let go and leap into the unknown in my art. I was just commenting to Caroline this morning about the fact that the spark of where I start in a piece of art is often far from where I end up and I actually like that. I always want to allow that freedom and flexibility, it's part of the fun of creating. So, perhaps with my art I can help myself do this in the other parts of my life?

Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties
-Gail Sheehy

Ahhh…Deep breath

February 23rd, 2007, Comments (15)

My stomach has finally started to settle down. Much better. So, let's do something fun shall we? This is from the Getting To Know You Day on Cac. I wanted to wait til I had wittier answers or at least a favorite word to share, but oh well. Thanks to Swampgrrl for the fun questions!

1. What is your favorite word? I don't have a favorite word. I like the word inspiration.

2. What is your least favorite word? Again, can't think of anything. I guess there are  a lot of words I don't like when used in certain contexts, like the c word.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Creatively: I'm inspired by color, paintings by Rothko, art of Rauchenberg, Frida Kahlo, reading memoirs, blogs. Spiritually: Stained glass, the ocean, being in nature, the stars. Emotionally: feeling heard, beautiful music, poetry, soft blankets, gentleness.

4. What turns you off? Aggresive behavior, angry tone of voice, arrogance.

5. What is your favorite curse word? Uh, I don't know...I use shit-burger a lot. I also like ass-hat, but I don't use that one often.

6. What sound or noise do you love? Purring, rain on the roof at night.

7. What sound or noise do you hate? Loud eating, chewing, or slurping...big pet peeve.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Children's book author/illustrator

9. What profession would you not like to do? financial analyst

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? "Welcome Home, babe! I've got a cup of cocoa waiting for you!"

Also, the beautiful Vedrana sent me a book for the book swap and I received it today all the way from Croatia! How cool!! I'll definitely use the stamps in a collage! Vedrana sent me a beautiful letter on purple paper explaining her choice which was Spirits of the Dead: Tales and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe. It has been so long since I read Poe that this was a wonderful surprise. It was funny, when I picked up the book, I had a quick flash of memorizing the poem, "Annabel Lee," for a poetry reading contest in elementary school. I'd completely forgotten that and holding the book brought the memory rushing back. Even then I was drawn to his dark, dreamy, romantic poetry.

Tonight, I spent a good chunk of time reading poems from the book while the fiansor watched the Knicks play. Poe has a beautiful way with words. Vedrana also included a beautiful handmade bookmark and pictures of a dress she made to go along with a project she did about Poe, connecting literature with fashion. I was so impressed! Vedrana, I loved your choice, I feel so grateful to have a book of poetry that has touched your heart so deeply! Thanks again!

Emptying Out

February 23rd, 2007, Comments (8)

So, despite feeling quite low yesterday, I went about my business, getting things done and doing my best to be upbeat and productive. I wasn't forcing, but gently pushing. I went out to get a mat for a piece of art that needs to be framed and picked up a canvas for a commissioned piece. And while I was out, I was struck suddenly by this profound nausea. I had to get in my car and go home. I thought maybe I was just really hungry, which sometimes will bring on nausea and a headache, so on the way home, I stopped and got some fixings for a salad, some fruit and cereal, milk and yogurt, and a beautiful spray of fushia roses that caught my eye. I've really trying to let the beauty back in, noticing all that's beautiful around me, I've been trying. I got home and the fiansor was home shortly after me, he'd had a tough day at work and he was also worried about me and the funk I've sunk into lately. We put dinner together and sat to eat, I was still feeling a little ill, but I ate and we talked about when this funk first came on, what internal stuff could be going on that may have triggered it and what might help. I was able to get some good stuff out, sometimes what's going on takes a long time to surface and I don't like to complain. As much as I may complain here, I don't do it much out in the world. I don't want anyone to worry and sometimes, it's just too hard to lift the fog enough to sit and try and disect something until I'm ready. Anyways, the fiansor was a great help last night, but at a certain point I told him I couldn't talk anymore because I felt really sick. I was curled up into the fetal position, my entire body achey and ready to barf. I kept hoping it would pass, but eventually, I had to get up and barf my brains out. I hate throwing up. Yucko! Chunky salad barf is not pleasant, then there was the diarrhea, and the shakes, and oy, it was a long night. This morning I felt sore all over and my stomach was still all knotted up, but the nausea was better and I felt brighter despite all that. The sun came out and the fiansor and I had a nice morning full of snuggling, laughing and playing with kitties. I felt so much better that I was all ready to get out in the world. I went out to pick up the mat I ordered to be cut and stopped to get a soda and my stomach got really upset all of the sudden and I had to go home real quick. So, ok, I decided that I needed to rest. You'd think this would be obvious, but I was just so excited to feel brighter that I jumped a little too quickly. I'm trying to take it easy this afternoon although there is much to do. The fiansor suggested (and I'd thought to myself) that perhaps the sudden illness was my body's way of releasing the depression I'd sunk into. Perhaps.

At any rate, I took some pics finally of the art I did earlier in the week, a simple piece with caran d'ache crayons on watercolor paper, playing with birds and color, two orange crows.

And here's my morning pages journal. I've used a lot of different types of journals, but lately I've been loving the Mead sketchbook diaries which have a nice pocket inside for collecting scraps of things I want to save. I usually do something to the cover of each book to differentiate them and make them special, usually, I do a free-form collage, pulling random images that I'm drawn to and then quickly collaging them down on the cover. I need to put the journal under some heavy books as the cover is curling up a little bit. After I collage it down, I'll look back at what I've done and see what catches my eye. I like the circles that are in the shell and the sun and all the blues are certainly appropriate for this Finding Water journey. The little ad on the left bottom was a coupon I found out on my artist's date a couple days ago. I grabbed a few of them from a little whole in the wall convenience store, the bit about "ride the elephants" in capitol letters is what caught my eye, the rest is totally bizarre such as the "Unicow" which is shown in the picture, a cow with a horn. Oy. I mentioned to Caroline that elephants have continued popping up everywhere. Yesterday I stopped into a gallery on a total whim to look at their show of nature photographs and what did I see? A photo of four great elephants. So, I thought it was appropriate to include a little bit about elephants on the cover of this journal.

Here's some of my FW exercises:

10 things I could try: quilting, silk screening clothing, skydiving, yoga (again), walking every day, clearing out the studio space that I have now and making the best of it, contacting JT again, making a stew, putting the website together myself, making the invites.

5 home grounding actions: Throw out the dead flowers (done and replaced with fresh ones), put away clean laundry (done), sort mail, put away clean dishes, throw out old food (done.)

All in all, it's been a roller coaster of a week. Perhaps all this turbulence is happening for a positive reason. I'm hopeful (and optimistic) that it's all growing pains and shifting and beautiful, colorful change afoot.


February 22nd, 2007, Comments (12)

Hello, all. I've been waiting to feel a bit better before I post, but the fog isn't lifting and I'm in a serious funk. It's been a busy week too; the fiansor slipped and fell on the ice which led to emergency room visits, orhthopedic doctors and mri's, but he seems to be recovering well, which I'm very grateful for. I've been doing my morning pages everyday and I took my walk yesterday, which was certainly good for the soul. Yet, I'm all teary and feel like mud. Seriously blargy. I've made a bit of art this week and I'll post that sometime soon. So, yeah, just checking in. Toodaloo for now.

Quickie Tutorial for posting a Button

February 18th, 2007, Comments (9)

I just wanted to write a quick post about how to use the Finding Water button as a link in your sidebar. Unfortunately, I only really know how to explain this step by step for typepad, but still the info may help blogger folks too!

1. First you need to save the image. Right click on the image above and save it on your computer. For a mac user, you press ctrl and click on the image and select save. And remember where you save it!

2. Once you've got the image saved to your computer, you'll need to upload it to your blog. You do this by going to the control panel when signed into typepad then to the "files" tab. On the right you'll see a place to "upload files." Browse and find the image you saved to your computer, then upload that image.

3. You'll see now in the list on the left, a link to the image you uploaded. Click on that link and a page will pop up with just the image on it. You should then save the web address for this page. It will be something like: http://www.yourblog.com/image.jpg

4. Now close that window and open up the "Typelists" tab on your typepad account. You can add this link to an existing list or make a new one for it. I used the "link" type of list.

5. Open up your list or create a new one. There will be three spots to fill in: Link title, link url and notes. In the link title section you need to put the following code using the web address you saved in item #3 above: <img src="http://www.yourblog.com/image.jpg">

6. In the link title section, you should put the website of the finding water blog: http://artfulwater.blogspot.com

7. You can leave the notes section blank.

8. Save the new link and you're done!

p.s. If you don't use typepad and want to add a link to your blog using just html, you would save the uploaded image to your blog as written about in steps 1-3 and then use the following html:
<a href="http://artfulwater.blogspot.com"><img src="http://www.yourblog.com/image.jpg"></a> I think that's how it goes. Anyways, I'm no techno genius, but hopefully that'll be helpful to some of you that are unsure how to do this. Good luck!

New Moon Rising

February 17th, 2007, Comments (10)

It seems I've gone a bit post-crazy today. I guess my itch to make art is coming out in this way, so bear with me, I'm super tired, but want to get this out before I hit the hay (what'd the hay ever do to me? see, i'm just over-tired-silly, now.)

I'm excited with small and large synchronicities. I keep mentioning the number 17, well it turns out this particular 17th is also the day of the new moon, as I found out from the very cool post at LunarMusings which was pointed out by the Literary Bohemian. This particular new moon is in Aquarius, which Elena writes has to do with, "...creative endeavors in the world, and networking connections that advance those endeavors.  There is also a bit of an audacious daring that comes with this Moon.  A radical openness to any and all possibilities." How wonderful and well timed for the start of Finding Water and everything else that is shifting in my life. How exciting.

Today in Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach writes about going on safari (which in Swahili means journey), which she relates leaving the safety of civilation (what's familiar) to venture into the wilderness of your authentic self. This also seemed so very appropriate for this moment, that it made me laugh.

Along with the laughter, I find I'm also butting up against some old "stuff." I suppose this is to be expected as I try to dig deeper towards my authentic self, but it doesn't mean it's pleasant. I wrote tonight to Jessie that I wondered if I was too pushy or too harsh in my post on the Finding Water blog, I hoped that I had been clear that we were all on different paths, coming from different places and we would all be doing this work in our own perfectly imperfect way. And then I took a breath and realized that my post was my own perfectly imperfect expression and I need to worry less (much less) about what others might be thinking. It's not about not caring, but simply in being ok with having an opinion, being ok with the fact that others might have an opinion that's different than mine. I really struggle with this, I'm a total people pleaser, a habit I learned in a difficult household growing up. It has served me well, this people pleasing and it's hard to give it up. I think due to lack of practice, I feel so unsteady when trying to express my opinions in a setting beyond one-on-one (and even then it's very difficult), I feel I'll be simply crushed by the weight of someone's anger. Clearly, this won't happen, but in my mind, it does feel that way, that I could be simply crushed. I had my will broken too many times and my fear of being wrong runs so deep, but I'm an adult, an adult with opinions and beliefs of my own. The fiansor knows this (and he encourages me, bless his heart) and I want to be less fearful of expressing who I am without apology.

So, it does feel a bit like a safari, complete with lions and tigers (and bears, oh my!)  But I already feel a bit more tuned in, my radio is set to the synchronicity station, the reception is clear, the night sky is twinkling away, and I'm setting off in the dark of the new moon ready for an adventure.

FW Squared

February 17th, 2007, Comments (5)

Here's a, um, what do you call it, icon? I forget the word. Anyways, here's something you can use to link to the Finding Water Blog if you'd like. Just save it to your own computer and then use it as a link. Only if you want!

Finding Water: Week One Begins

February 17th, 2007, Comments (0)

Jessie posted the Creativity Contract for Finding Water over at the Finding Water blog today, which reminded me that I wanted to post mine here as I did with the Artist's Way. I encourage anyone playing along to do the same!

I, Leah, commit myself to the regular use of the three basic tools. For the duration of this course, I will write Morning Pages daily and will take an Artist's Date and a Weekly Walk once a week. Additionally, I commit myself to excellent self-care, adequate sleep, good food, and gentle companionship.

Signed, Leah on 2/17/07.

My theme for the year is commitment, so this seems wonderfully appropriate. :-)

What is Not Expressed

February 16th, 2007, Comments (4)

Once again, The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo (linked to the left), has timely messages for me. This week there was a page (Feb 13th) that was already dog-eared, as I read this piece last year also. The author writes,

What is not ex-pressed is de-pressed...It seems the more we express, that is, bring out what is in, the more alive we are. The more we give voice to our pain in living, the less build-up we have between our soul and our way in the world. However, the more we depress, the more we push down and keep in, the smaller we become. The more we stuff between our heart and our daily experience, the more we have to work through to feel life directly.

I need to remember this. Part of me wants to beat myself up for not taking this to heart in the last week or so when everything from brushing my teeth to focusing on a book felt difficult. Sure there was a lot going on, my depression seemed to be weighing me down, and pms wasn't helping either. And I just let it all get me so down. I stopped taking care of myself, never a good thing. I didn't shower as much as I should, I didn't sleep regular hours or exercise, some days I didn't eat until the evening, all I wanted to do was sleep. Yes, I need to have compassion for the head-space I was in, but I wish I could have felt that compassion and then done a little more for myself. It wasn't a very long time of feeling this way, but still it was long enough.

I started doing my morning pages again after a long hiatus, in preparation for Finding Water, which starts up tomorrow. Already I feel more connected to myself. It feels like I dropped a bucket down into the well of my heart. Having not made any art since last week, I haven't been expressing what was in me and it was only depressing me further. Lesson is: just because I don't feel like talking doesn't mean I should shut off completely. I did do some blogging, which actually was helpful, but there's something about paper journaling that is essential. I'm so glad to be getting back into it. I'm at work 24/7 this week and away from my art supplies, so my art making has consisted of doodling and sketching in a sketchbook. In the meantime, the many layers that might come out in a collage are coming out in my morning pages, the layers of what has been getting me down, the pressures that are overwhelming me and the bigger picture that helps me to feel calmer.

In today's entry, Nepo writes:

If peace comes from seeing the whole, then misery stems from a loss of perspective.

And thankfully, I've finally been able to take a step back and gain some perspective. What shifted? Well, I know the reading and journaling certainly helped, the distinct mental shift that occurs when I get my period helped (bizarre but true),  and surprisingly spending time with my youngest brother who is at the wonderfully awkward age of 14 was helpful. I watch him play with the dogs, struggle to focus on his reading, play ping pong, tell me about a movie he liked, and it opens my heart just a bit more and pulls me out of the hyper focus on the negative.

So, I'll do my best not to be mad at myself for eating like crap, not taking care of myself this week and the sluggish way I feel as a result. I need to take a deep breath, let that go and move forward.

On a positive note, I've had some funny experiences with my number that loves to pop up, 17. Tomorrow is the 17th and it's my mom's 17th wedding anniversary (the reason why I'm watching my brother), today the number 17 kept popping up in the movie we were watching and the first time it was mentioned I looked up and it was 8:17. And there were other ones that I can't remember now. And another positive note, I just remembered that week one of Finding Water is called "Recovering a Sense of Optimism." Hehe. I guess I'll be working on that this week. More about the chapter as the week rolls along. In the meantime, here's a quote from the basics section of FW that I just love:

Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.
- Ruth Ann Schabacker