creativity · singing · wholeness

Dominoes.

8.12.18.jpgMore moons ago than I can count, I wrote down this quote a friend had posted as her Facebook status update.  I wrote it down with the desperation of flailing for a life preserver, not believing it ever to be or come true for me, but with the understanding that someone, somewhere in the world found this preserver and found it to be stable and life-giving:

“That feeling when things fall perfectly into place, and any anxiety you had suddenly vanishes.”

What horseshit.  What hope.

So, I wrote it down on a post-it and affixed it to the inside of my medicine cabinet.  It’s been likely 8 years since it was written, and I read it still with that desperation and that hope that anything like that could ever feel true within me.

Spoiler:  It’s kind of how I’m feeling today.

Bananas as it may seem to me, I’m having a feeling of serendipitous coalescing.  Yesterday, I attended a school event that was entirely optional but I wanted to go.  I wanted to see my people, my friends, my coworkers.  I wanted to walk out onto the ballfield/gathering place and hug the tech director.  I wanted to sit with my boss/fellow English teacher and—even though I tried not to(!)—immediately fall into the loveliest, liveliest shop-talk, about a new book I’m excited teach, Sherman Alexie’s troublesome revelations, and executive functioning training!  I wanted to hug my head of school and admissions director and facilities manager.  I wanted to be there.  (“There’s no place like home.”)

And I wanted to leave.  To head into the city to meet up with likeminded folks for an evening of play and discovery and excitement.  And wouldn’t you know, today’s Oprah/Deepak meditation is about Divine Playfulness.

Yes.  Yes, and more yes.

I received an excited phone call yesterday morning from my girlfriend who came by on Friday to “look at” my art studio with me and consider the possibilities.  On the phone (just the next day) she breathes, “It’s set.  It’s done.”  The art show that had its conception seeds planted as we tacked up 12 years of my collages is now happening.

When?  “Sunday, October 7.”  Oh, you mean my 37th birthday?  Well, I’ll be damned.

We’re having a salon, all types of artists.  The space is set, would you believe, in the home of a friend whose birthday also happens to be October 7th.  What the hell?!  … or Heaven.

They’d constructed a theme—Birth—and I wasn’t feeling entirely stoked on the idea.  My visual work wasn’t really heading in that direction (unless you want a show the first, ahem, seeds of birth!), so I questioned perhaps some poetry, spoken word, or painted broadsides, but my oral/written work isn’t really doing that either right now.

And in meditation this morning it came:  I will sing.

(I’m embarrassed to write that here you know, staking my claim… owning my voice, as it were!)

But, one of my visions for quite some time has been to “be a lounge singer.”  To be that woman in a sleek, sequined dress behind a stand-microphone who allows her voice and words to float over others as they half-pay attention and half-not.  I don’t need or want a concert, I want to be a part of the ambiance.  I want to be the art.

A pianist friend/former band-mate and I had a brief-lived duet a bit ago.  So, today, I’ll reach out to him and see if it’s in for it.  And if he’s not, there are more options.

But the idea of being an artist, in a salon, doing something I’ve only dreamt of, with friends, on my birthday?

Well, I suppose that is the feeling of everything falling perfectly into place and any anxiety I had…suddenly vanishing.

Advertisements
art · creativity · level up

Gallery of Indeterminate Art.

still life feb 2011In an effort to “not go back in the cave,” I’ve been (egregiously slowly) asking for and (less slowly) accepting help.  I’ve been tending to the idea of getting an “accountability buddy” for many months now, someone with whom to mutually check in about progress on our goals, but I haven’t gotten far in that realm.  There’s something so daunting about accountability—even when it’s in service of my own health!

So I’ve been skirting up to the line by asking for help around smaller, task-specific items, which seems like a nice middle-ground and huge progress nonetheless.  Yesterday, I texted an artist friend of mine to come by and help me “look at” my art studio space.  To help me talk out what it is I want to do with it or in there.  Because most of what is up there is of the “Someone could use this for something” variety, but that someone hasn’t been me.

Magazines for collages; baskets of fabric samples; all sizes of canvases, plywood, and thick paper.  I have finger paint, oil paint, acrylic paint, watercolor.  I have charcoal pencils, colored pencils, water-color pencils, and pencil pencils.  In my art studio, there are scissors, brushes, glitter, embossing tools, stamps, ink, turpentine, and gesso.  Rulers, compasses, sharpeners, and cleaners.

And what is a girl to do?

I have no idea.  I’m no painter (“yet,” she adds hopefully).  I took an oil class in grad school that produced all the paintings that are up there, 6 years ago.  I loved it—more specifically, I loved the accountability and deadlines.  I loved having to work toward a goal, with an assignment (interior, live painting, still life [seen above]), an end date, feedback, and completion.  I also loved being around other people creating, too.  Yet, in the absence of an end date and the presence of self-judgment, all my ideas spool out to the egg yolk on the horizon.

(Speaking of spools, I also have a sewing machine, bobbins, embroidery thread, and knitting!)

So, I’m hoping that my friend standing next to me today, looking into this candyland of undiscovered art, will help me discover:  What is next for my art studio?  What is clamoring in there to come to life but I can’t hear over the shaming voice that tells me I’m wasting it?

Perhaps it’s something I make, perhaps it’s a group I host with access to it all, or perhaps I tell her about the few pieces I’ve done that I know would make a series, but that I’m unsure I feel enthusiastic about anymore.

In order to create anything, I need people.  And in order to have people, I have to ask.

 

balance · boundaries · career · creativity · meditation · self-care

You Spin Me Right Roun’…

Normal
0
0
1
531
3032
25
6
3723
11.1287

0

0
0

I’ve been looking up meditation retreats. There’s this one
I’ve heard about for years that’s a 10-day silent meditation retreat – I
remember a guy I knew once shared that his therapist advised him against going on a silent retreat! (He went anyway, and
reported great tidings.)
But, one thing I always seem to forget until after I’ve gone
on such a retreat or weekend away is that I can effect the same kind of stillness without going so far, and without paying so much.
I remember last year, I went north to Marin to participate
in a half-day meditation retreat. The meditation itself was lovely; the grounds
are nestled into the hillside near the ocean, and there’s an organic farm and
garden you can walk through during the walking meditation part. But… the zen
talk… eek.
This day’s particular teacher stuck in my craw the whole time, so before the second “dharma talk,” I left. I felt good about having gone, being
among the greenery and the eucalyptus. I even saw a chipmunk on my way back to
the parking lot. But, I didn’t need to stay and “practice listening” to someone
whose personality shone way larger than his teachings. It was way more about
him, than his teachings.
As I left, I noted that I could have found the same or a
similar degree of stillness, just by driving up into the nearby national park
in Berkeley. I didn’t have to sit in a “zen-do” or listen to teachings –
really, I just wanted to listen to the silence, and although I can do that in
my own home, I prefer to go somewhere nature-y when I really want to recharge. 
I’m reminded of this as I look up retreats this morning: a
day-long one at the same retreat center, the 10-day silent retreat place, even
a hot-spring zen-center-meets-spa related to a nearby center.
But really, what do I want to achieve or gain or experience?
Stillness.
I feel very harried at the moment, with a lot of irons in
the fire around creative endeavors, work endeavors, and even friend endeavors.
I’ve been wanting to strengthen my relationships with
friends, form new or stronger connections, and this weekend has been the
perfect exercise in that – it’s been chock
full of friend-related activities that have been truly wonderful. But, I’m
tired.
Yesterday morning, spur-of-the-moment birthday plans were texted to
me: “Join me in Marin for dinner and a hike under the full moon.”
Um, Yes, please!
None of the 6 dinner attendees knew anyone except the
birthday boy, and we had a great time. The hike was fantastic. Epic, really.
The view over the Bay, the fog rolling in, the lights below, the reflection of
the “super moon” in the water. – That, my friends, was meditative.
But, it also wasn’t. Different personalities require
different levels of reverence, and for some people, silence isn’t really an
option. – I’d love to go back and experience it in the quiet. It was
awe-inspiring.
And, I wasn’t home til after midnight … which if you didn’t
know, is way past my bedtime. But, so
worth it!
However, I begin to feel a draw inward. I’m an “X” in the
“introvert/extrovert” Meyers-Briggs scale. Meaning, I am neither an “I:
Introvert” nor an “E: Extrovert” – I fall so perfectly between the two, needing
both in such equal amounts, that I am an “X: Right in the middle.”
So, with all of this external push (creative stuff, job
stuff, friend stuff), Anty needs a recharge. (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids reference, fyi.)
But, it is important for me to remember that I don’t need to
retreat from the whole world, put huge parameters around my life in order to do
this. It’s as simple as committing 2 hours, getting in my car, driving 20
minutes, and crunching through the soft-fallen eucalyptus leaves until I get to a spot
where I can sit – no incense required. 

awareness · band · creativity · fun · help · life · music · presence

10 minute blog:

Normal
0
0
1
241
1375
11
2
1688
11.1539

0

0
0

(I know they say, Only speak if you can improve on the silence, but I felt I wanted to give you something this morning. Time is short due to doing my due diligence. And making up tongue twisters, apparently.)
Yesterday evening, I went to pluck one of the remaining
lemons from the tree in the backyard of our building. In it, I found a robin’s
nest with three sightless, flat and feathered chicks in it. Maws up and open.
I’ve been watching robins on the roof next door to me with
worms in their mouths for a few days now, as I sit here at this kitchen table, writing, typing, breathing. But I never imagined there was life happening right there! The ingenuity of the nest-making was astounding, leaves harvested
long ago, now time-reduced to a lattice outline.
It’s the noticing. The small moments when the chocolate
vegan mousse cake you doubted, actually tastes like gilded decadence. When you decide to send a “hugs”
text to your immediate family, just because it felt like a good idea this
morning. When you go back through old pocket calendars, and read all the quotes
and notes you’ve collected, including this rancorous gem from a rancorous man:
“I’ve gotten to the point where patience is a waste of time.” – or this one, “I
have a hard time taking my sanity temperature.”
For reasons hilarious and unknown to me, I seem to find
myself in my second band with folks who are at least 10 years older than me. I
love this. There’s little of the peacock chest puffing, and more of the genuine
delight in participating in something fun, something that maybe we all wish we
did when we were in high school, but didn’t. At least, I feel that way. And
grateful that I get to do it now, when I’m less likely to vomit vodka tonics on
myself.
Instead, I get to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon holding a
bass in a basement with friends, and come home and feel inspired to take out my
own guitar, and find out what I have to say anyway. 

creativity · fantasy · love · painting · reality · relationships

“If I were a painter…” ~ Norah Jones

The earliest I can remember is drawing with sidewalk chalk
on the dresser in my childhood bedroom. I was probably 14 or 15, beginning
to assert a level of artistry and self-expression, and I decided to draw a
chalk moon on one of the hutch doors above the dresser, and a sun on the other.
Senior year of college, much to my housemates’ chagrin, I
began drawing on the walls. In my rented room, there was a walled up doorframe,
which we’d left white when me, The Cousin, my best friend and her guy, A.,
painted two walls lavender and the opposite two a mint
green.
This white moulding begged to become a frame, and when I
was envisioning getting my first tattoo, I thought it reasonable to draw the
image on my wall, so that I could live with it for a few months on my wall
before permanently living with it on my body.
It was a sun again. Four feet of elaborate, vaporous rays that twisted,
and in the center of the sun, I drew the infinity symbol, but shaded it to be
three-dimensional, like a Mobius strip, looping infinitely. Eventually, I
decided that the black & white kohl drawing was not enough, and spent a
good deal of inebriated time coloring in the drawing with various nail
polishes.
Unfortunately, the place I decided to get this tattooed was
the inside of my left wrist, which is not a large canvas, and thus it lives, much
simplified, on my skin. I was otherwise engaged at the time of “move-out” from
that house, and so my father and brother had to clear out my room, and paint it
all back to white, and over this artwork. My father asked incredulously what I
must have drawn it with, since it took three coats to cover.
Living, later, in South Korea, in a rented studio apartment,
I got the itch again. In those studios (which we would call junior studios),
the refrigerator lives in the same room as your very small dining table and
your bed, and so from the vantage point of my bed, I stared at this beige-ing
plastic door, and decided it needed embellishment.
I used my acrylic paints to create huge designs, one in
color on the top freezer half, one in black on the bottom. It was just abstract
design, but it was playful, and certainly more interesting.
Eventually, my lover the painter came over one night, and
together, naked, we painted the stainless steel panel that housed the water
heater in my bathroom, which we could also see from the bed. Naked, inebriated,
painted.
To complete the effect of living in a colored, effusive,
manic wonderland, I painted the cabinets over my sink and small range stove.
Purple and green again, like in college.
I’m sure to their dismay, shock, and irritation, my landlord
discovered all this “improvement” to their apartment after I’d left the country
when my contract ended.
And finally, when I was living in San Francisco in Cole
Valley, the enormous expanse of my white kitchen cabinets called to my paint
brush again, and I embellished them with a few outsized spheres and swirls, using the same colors that adorned that refrigerator in Seoul.
When A., my college room painter, was passing through San Francisco and came to visit, he noted upon seeing the cabinets, “Now, this looks
like you.”
And yes, I owed a penny or two from my security deposit when
I left that apartment, having every intention of painting the cabinets back to
white, but just never getting around to it.
This morning, as I heated up my coffee and glanced around my
kitchen, my vase of paint brushes caught my eye. Specifically a set that I keep in its original plastic case: these are good
brushes, those. They were a gift from my Korean-years’ roommates during my
first contract year there. I wondered to myself this morning when I’d last used
them. Remarked that it’s been too long, much too long. Each of them, like pens,
or a piano, or a piece you want to choreograph to, is potential. Each of them
vibrates with the eventuality of what you can do with them, create with them,
manipulate from them into being. They are possibility incarnate.
There was a time when I was still in conversation with The
Cousin (not my cousin, fyi) when I remarked
to him that it would be so easy for me to fall into the painting of our life together.
Just fall into the frame, like something out of
Mary Poppins, just tip over the
gilding and onto the lawn with the white picket fence, the blue, cloud-flecked
sky, and the ivy growing up the side of the house we live in together.
How easy it is to imagine that things are and were as easy
as just stepping into an alternate reality, the one we’ve created for ourselves
in our minds and mutual enchantment. A “reality” without mortgage payments or
property tax on that ivy-laced house; without paychecks to support it; without
the stymieing banality of pulling the garbage can to and from that picket fence.
Painting something doesn’t make it true. Imagining doesn’t
make it easy. And desire doesn’t make it destiny.
It’s been a while since I’ve painted on my walls, but
right now, the ones in my mind are devoutly Technicolor. 

action · change · creativity · direction · faith · healing · inspiration · spirituality · trust · work

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

Normal
0
0
1
470
2684
22
5
3296
11.1287

0

0
0

Call it Spring. Call it some planetary phase. Call it the
fact that I’ve been back at my job for one year in April. But the past few
days, I’ve begun to feel like things are about to shift. Change is afoot.
Could be wrong. Could be indigestion. Could report the same
old, same old here for the next sixty years. But, I don’t think so. I don’t
feel so.
It’s kind of a stupid thing to report, that you feel change is afoot, in a blog that is supposed to be
about updates and reflections and actions. To simply take a moment to let you
know that I feel like things are about to be different seems antithetical and
anticlimactic. But, nonetheless, I tell it as it happens.
There’s some sort of coagulation that has happened, that I’ve begun to recognize. Maybe it was sitting with that woman on Sunday and
reflecting on the change that’s occurred within me and my spending habits.
Maybe it’s noticing that it’s been a year at this job, which has provided a
foundation of stability and structure, and enabled me to heal. It’s also realizing that things are going to change soon at my work, the nature of things are going to be reorganized, and perhaps it’s just a time
to reassess what’s happening and going on.
It feels like a time to pull my head out of the sand a
little more. To reassert what it is that I want out of life, and address those
things that hinder me from heading there, or even dreaming them up. It’s what I
wrote yesterday in my morning pages: It’s time to dream again.
When you’re in a storm, all you have attention for and time to
do is to batten down hatches and lower the mainsail and hope to Jesus and Allah
and George that you get through the rough patch safely.
When the clouds do clear, you spend the time assessing
damage, swabbing the decks of all the debris you took on board during the
crisis, and getting a new roll-call of who’s still with you, who’s got a
broken arm.
Eventually, the water has evened out, the crew is back to
its old galley routines, and it’s time to point the ship toward the horizon
again.
I’ve been very clear this time, as I ask for direction and
guidance, to be open to what’s
said/heard/intimated. How do you want me to earn? How do you want me to live?
How do you want me to share the gifts I have?
I feel I’ve made an awful mess of hampering myself, like an
anchored ship attempting to get anywhere new. And I know that some of the
internal and external work I’m doing is to untether that stagnation,
resistance, and fear.
A friend once told me, years ago, that things wouldn’t work
out for me with theater until I addressed my trauma shit. Another friend told
me while I was battling chemo that I wouldn’t get out of this pattern of
self-immolation until I moved through my father shit.
Despite all the rowing, all the sails pointed in the right
direction, no movement can be made if you’re still anchored to pain. No
sustainable movement, at least.
So, I suppose this feeling, this sense that things are about
to change, is an indication that I’m hoisting anchor.
Where I go from here? I’ve got to take a deep breath of promise and divine creative unrest — and trust my compass.
(Thank you for indulging my ship metaphor! I hope you
enjoyed it as much as I did) 😉

change · creativity · dating · growth · self-love · self-support · truth

Look! SHINY!!

I downloaded the book yesterday, It’s Just a F***ing Date, by the same people who wrote He’s Just
Not That Into You
and It’s Called
A Break-up Cuz It’s Broken
.
One of the first things the introduction says is, you’re
obviously stuck in something you don’t like doing, or you wouldn’t have picked
up this book.
I love their books. I first picked up Not that into you when I was living in South Korea. It was a lark,
there weren’t that many books in the English-speaking section of the bookstore,
and I thought it would be more funny than anything to see the stupidity of
these women who didn’t get that these guys just weren’t into them; that these
women needed a book to spell it out for them in order to stop knocking on the
closed, booty-calling door.
And yet. Of course, I got to see that I was one of those
huddled women justifying all kinds of behavior (theirs and mine) in the hopes
of romance. 3 a.m. text = he’s just not that into you. Not able to hang out
sober = he’s just not that into you. Has a girlfriend? Sweetie, come on, where has your self-respect gone?
When I broke up with my last serious boyfriend in 2011, I
was wrecked. Walk into the house and stand inside the front door empty for several minutes wrecked. It felt like every day I was hit by a Mac
truck. And yes, I was the one who ended
it. But that didn’t mean that there wasn’t love there, that I didn’t care about
him, about us, it’s just, we weren’t meant to be an us.
My brilliant friend Katie once told me the following: The
thing about grief is that something is broken, but you’re not, and you’ve got
to keep going.
I had no idea how. So I picked up Cuz It’s Broken. It gave some practical advice, funny anecdotes, and
a great dose of compassion. And in time, it healed.
I love their books. So, having read an excerpt from their new It’s Just a F***ing Date book
a few weeks ago, prior to this new dating thing, I thought to look at it again yesterday, considering that my manic phone checking was probably not what the
gods of serenity have in mind.
And here’s some interesting intel I’ve gathered. One of
their questions is, When was the best period in your life, and What was going on
that made it great? My answer was surprising and heartening: the best period of
my life is happening now, the last few months of my life. What’s happening in
it? Playing in a band, signing up for acting classes, going on auditions,
planning a trip to the sea shore with my cousins, buying a new (to me) car,
upgrading my wardrobe, going on a meditation retreat, eating well, seeing live
entertainment, working the steps.
Also, I was using the Gratitude Journal app on my phone that
dinged twice daily to remind me to pause & write something in.
When did this change, it asks? When I was asked on a date by someone
I’m interested in. That’s when.
Suddenly, my center of focus has veered sharply toward
someone else, what they think of me, if I’m approved, if my life activities are
good enough, if my success is enough, if I’m prudent but sexy enough.
In short, what changed is that all the things that attracted
someone to me in the first place, all the things that were bringing me joy, and
self-esteem, and hope, have been tossed in favor of what you think of me.
This is a terrible
recipe for self-love!!
This is not the first time that my eyes have wandered off my
own music chart onto someone else’s in the orchestra of life and dating. I’d
explained to someone once that if life were an orchestra, the most important
thing is that we stay on our own page, with our own notes, listening to
what’s happening around us, but focusing actively on what’s in front of and important
to us. It would be a disaster if the oboe began to play the notes of the viola.
But, that’s what has happened for me before; I get worried, I get crazed.
Not attractive to me. Or to you.

So, what can I actively do to get back to that place, the
book asks next? Well, for starters, I can type some things into my daily
gratitude app. I can choose two photos from my portfolio to send to this
modeling agency that may be a dead-end, but I was stopped on the street for. I
can go back on Theater Bay Area and find another casting call, and I can find
another monologue and start on that.
There are PLENTY of things that I can do to get back to that
place, because in that place I was simply doing what fed me, was important
to me, was fun, and enlivening.
And one of the changes can be to remember, it’s just a
f*cking date
and was never meant as the end
goal – the whole “meet you on the way to meeting me” DOESN’T WORK if I stop
trying to actively meet myself, you know.
It’s time for me to allow the mass rush of thinking about
this, the boy, etc., recede into just one part of the array of my life. I have so
much else I was doing that created now as the greatest period in my life—and, really, it is.