The Journey Continues! (after a few glitches & pitstops)

14 06 2015

Weather:  Weirdly wet and cool June so far. Steady in the low 70s & overcast or rain alternating.

On the personal front, had my throat surgery this week. Polyp on my vocal cord is gone, but apparently replaced with a mild case of Bronchitis. Because let’s face it: Nothing can go smoothly in recovery for me apparently. Alas. So while I sit here, on seven days of restricted voice usage, I’m hacking and coughing like a 2 pack-a-day smoker. The irony is not missed on me by the way….

But there’s an upside, as there always is. By this time next week, gods willing and the river don’t rise, I should FINALLY have a clean bill of health.

Which means it’s time to kick off all the sad “ashes and sackcloth of Woe is Me” and get back to work. I’m finding the one thing that has been lacking lately has been creative drive. I’ve been to the studio, but cranking out work has been a little joyless lately. Functional but not passionate. And that kinda sucks. Hard to be motivated to work on things when it’s starting to feel paint by numbers. I’m taking the tact of stepping back and getting some smaller things worked on first. Easily accomplished goals. I need to make room in the brain meat for bigger things.

I’m beginning to understand that I still haven’t quite found my voice as an artist yet. My path, if you will. Maybe my interests are too eclectic to have a”style” and maybe that’s just the way I work.  Still…the health related disruptions have been problematic less in the “taking away time” realm and more in the “distracting my brain from art” way. The fraud police have shown up with their threatened “You’re a Hack” sign and I’m hard pressed to argue with them about it.

Not having been trained in art — I was a science & communications major in college– trained my brain differently.  I tend to see the world in patterns and logic. Which can work on artistic level to a certain extent, but being married to someone who has design in his background and a fantastic grip on color theory, makes me think I’m going about things the wrong way.  I think I’m trying to emulate artists who see the world much more differently than I do.  Abstract only works in the geometric for me, not in the impressionistic sense. I like my intersecting circles and squares and sharp colors. I’m not particularly blessed with talent to do realism or portraiture, though I have no doubt with more training I might be able to make a credible go at it.

Maybe that’s the hitch, right there. I want to make things. Now.
Create things.
Leak my weirdly acrobatic brain-fevered visions onto some sort of substrate and present it to the world.
Yet, I keep getting tangled in my own shoelaces.

Reading a lot of motivational artistic philosophies and inspirational pieces can sometimes amount to feeling like you’re in the middle of a circle of well intentioned people shouting cross-purpose advice at you through megaphones. Individually it’s good, but it can be contradictory in places, leading to the “two steps forward, one step back” feeling of “Is this what you meant? No? How about this?”

As a mosaic artist, I know there are a LOT of incredibly talented artists out there, all making some incredibly pieces, in various sizes, in all sorts of media. There’s a rather elastic definition of art versus craft in this field. Depending on who you talk to, everyone has their own criteria for what counts as respectable art and merely amusing craft. As per expectations, you can get two different definitions from two different people on the same day. So, do you try to create your work with a eye towards how it will be defined and therefore, pigeonholed? Or do you just get on with making the best work you can and flesh out the ideas in your head with the media and tools you have on hand? I think the answer is kind of self-evident there.

Sometimes, my biggest stumbling block comes in the weirdest aspects of creating– I question whether I’m using the “right” supplies or the “right” technique. I’m still learning -a lot, to be sure- but even things I know I have gotten worked out… still they get a second guess, then a rather severe judgment on my part. Mosaic supplies aren’t cheap and to get the look that a lot of other artists have managed, I would have to finance a lot more options. So, do we make art with what we’ve got and compromise on the vision, or do we sacrifice for the supplies and possibly curtail other projects that can’t be made now either? Silly how economics can kneecap you, isn’t it?  (Of course the flip side to that problem is the “Oh wow, they’re having a sale! Let me stock up!– which is how you end up with piles of colored tiles or similarly colored marble you will not use and your studio becomes a “full-up closet with nothing to wear” situation)

Anyway. First world artist problems here.

My husbeast Brian is often fond of saying that our biggest problem (on so many fronts!) is that we can’t seem to get out of our own way. My creative problems seem to be falling very much under this heading.

I have some ideas. I’m going to do my damndest to get them made. So I think I’m going to take my inner art critic and garrote her in her sleep tonight.
Art isn’t hard.
Really, it isn’t.
Make what you love, make it to the best of your ability, and let it loose on the world. Sure it will be judged and compared, but that’s going to happen because: PEOPLE. You can either get hung up on the comparisons and judgments and get locked into stagnancy (which seems to happen to me too much) or you can just shrug and get on with the next piece. Like any creation, sometimes it finds it’s audience, sometimes it doesn’t.

Either way, it’s not your job to cater. It’s to create.

Time to get back to that. Can’t find an audience if you don’t provide something for them.

SO…..Back into the studio with me. Let’s hope once this stupid mucus stops trying to kill me, it can take the self-doubt with it when it goes.

Promised a more coherent post last time…yeah….well maybe next time. Hope is ever buoyant.


Recovery slogs on, with a few bumps in the road….

21 05 2015

Weather: Spring has arrived,  but by the Midwest Definition: If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it’ll change. We’ve been from the 40s to the 80s and back again, sometimes in the same day. Hoping June will be more stable.

So the title of this post is a little on the nose. Since I had my brain hemorrhage in December of last year, little repercussions have been rearing their ugly heads.

Two months out, I had my final angiogram….and had a massive allergic reaction to the dye.
Three months out, my hair started falling out in clumps. It’s started growing back in, thank goodness.

Now, I’ve developed a chronic hoarseness in my voice, which has been diagnosed by my ENT doctor (Ear, Nose & Throat) as a polyp on my vocal cord, which I am having surgically removed in June. After which I won’t be allowed to speak for a week. At ALL. (I’m going to have to tape my mouth shut. )

Other than the above things, I haven’t had any brain related hiccups. Maybe some mood swings, but not much else. All in all, I’m taking the ripples in the pool in stride. I just hope by Summer, I’ll have shaken off any more of these little quakes. Tired of having my activities curtailed, even slightly, by health foo.

Husbeast and I walked to Lion’s Beach the other night. WALKED. TO THE BEACH. (Happiest words I’ve ever spoken) Had our first beach therapy evening, watching the sun lowering over the lake. Sat on a bench, his arm around me. Was the most peaceful I’ve felt in a while. We stopped for ice cream  on the way home. I’m hoping for a lot more evenings like that.

I finished my huge sun mosaic piece that I’ve been working on since I returned to the studio after the brain foo. It’s not perfect, but it’s close to what I saw in my head, so I’m happy with it. I have three other pieces I need to start working on. Starting to see a trend towards geometrics and I’m playing with changing up my tessera cuts for different effects. Also will be working on my first 3D piece. Scary but exciting.

In general I’m in a good headspace about most things, though I’d be lying if I said I’m not going to be relieved once my surgery is done. Just want to get back to focusing on the art and the house and the garden again.

For a short trip into derailment, my thinky thoughts recently have been coming to the realization that I’m really too exhausted to be outraged anymore. It’s all I seem to see everywhere. Not that the topics being raised aren’t eyebrow raising or worthy of a good old fashioned shade throwing, but I just see some people spending all their energy and time trying to find things to be upset about. I know there’s bad in the world, and awful people. I also know that the media and politicians are out of a job if they can’t keep people scared or angry. I guess I’m just flummoxed as to why everyone keeps dancing to their music?

If you see something that bothers you, either do something to make it better, or step away from it. Yelling online and bashing people with the guilt trowel because they don’t get as upset as you DOESN’T FIX ANYTHING. Yes, yes…..You’re raising awareness. Just like the other 50 angry people posting the same clickbait link with no suggestions  or solutions attached.  Sigh. Tired, as I said.

I’m starting to see no difference in people yelling from the left or the right. Each have their boogeymen. Each have valid points. Neither seem all that interested in compromising or working together to fix it. (I’m mostly talking about the frothy extreme edges, not the mostly moderates that seem only bemused by the noise and are actually trying to do things.)

And I’m not just talking politics — NerdRage is at an all time high and fandoms seem to only be civil for one season before turning into toxic wastelands of death threats and shipper wars. I used to be amused by it, now I’m just annoyed. Everyone seems to have forgotten how to enjoy things. Valid criticism is one thing. Crazy entitlement issues are another. And don’t get me started on Tumblr. No seriously…There be monsters. Scary Scary ANGRY monsters. I’ll end this here, because otherwise I’ll accidentally mention something that will draw the nutjobs and I’d rather not have to dust off my ban hammer.

::gets the train back on track::

I’m trying to be patient, waiting for all the health detritus to shake out. But I don’t want that waiting to turn to “laying on the couch, binge-watching Netflix and letting the rest of my health go to hell”. It’s easy to do, and so is making excuses for not doing things that require a little effort and a little sacrifice. Money situations are not fixed by sitting around navel-gazing. Art doesn’t get made if it stays in your head or only on paper. Novels don’t get written just by talking about them.

And Heidi doesn’t get better by sitting around, hoping that her body will magically become well.

Everything in life takes effort. Everything. And as Kevin Smith has pointed out today, happiness is being productive. It’s not a destination, it’s a journey.  If you’re not careful, you’ll end up wistful and chasing the ephemeral idea of happiness, and miss when it actually comes your way.

Sort of disjointed writing today, but I’m having a kind of disjointed week. More coherent thoughts next time.

We pause in our house related chaos to maken zee update. A very very random update.

17 04 2015

Weather: Spring has sprung! We’ve finally stabilized out in the upper 50s, low 60s with spatterings of flirting with 70s. Love it! 

So the past couple of weeks have been almost entirely consumed with getting unpacked and decorating and purging stuff and breaking down boxes…..BREATHES. And going to the studio when I can.

But I’m happy. So very very happy!

The house is perfect for us. We are just finishing up the lingering unpacking, but we’re about 85% done.  It’s been amusing to keep finding things we “bought for the new house” that we’d forgotten about. Made parting with other things so much easier!

Getting back to the studio has been both a relief and a daunting prospect. I really get a therapeutic surge being there. Being able to focus on making things is calming and assuages my self-deprecation. It’s a bit daunting though when I realize how close we’re getting to tourist season and I’m so far behind on making things. I work on two levels: the art side and the craft side. The art side is usually bigger pieces, mostly abstract, meant for galleries or individual purchase. The craft side is smaller pieces, made in multiples and sold with the intent to keep producing more, similar pieces with some consistency. Getting back in the rhythm of producing both kinds of work at the same time is jarring after the past few months of inactivity. The good news is I have two pieces larger artwork on deck after I finish my current piece. I also have two other pieces that just need finishing touches before I can offer them up for sale.

I’m full of ideas, just need to line them up and get them done.

Looking forward to summer on the lake. Husbeast and I went to Lion’s Park Beach last night for the first real beach therapy of the season. Still a bit chilly to do more than stand at the water’s edge and shiver, but SOOOOOON. :D

Switching gears here: I’m going to actively be avoiding politics and the usual hand wringing over-analysis that’s going to start happening now that “candidates” are starting to announce their runs. Let’s be honest– There’s not a single person who the media props up as a potential candidate that is worth our time. As voters, we are never going to get the candidates we hope for, because honestly? Most of them have been in politics too long. Any newcomer will probably get buried under expensive ads from the other candidates who have carefully garnished their chests in the past few cycles. It’s always gonna come down to the lesser evil. Obama was an exception because he was a historic candidate, a first in many ways. But there’s no Obama this go around (by which I mean an unexpected candidate with charisma and oratorical panache.)  Politics is no longer an admirable path for anyone and the kind of people we need to run to fix things, with fresh ideas and strong will, won’t run, because they don’t want to put themselves through the meat grinder of the press and negative ads. They don’t want to put their families through that. I’m tired of the lack of good choices. (Full disclosure: I tend to lean liberal, because most of the things I believe in fall under their umbrella. Show me a  conservative who is pro-marriage equality, pro-environment, pro-choice and pro-income equality and I’d probably consider voting for them. It’s not brand loyalty, but issue loyalty.)  Anyway, that’s about as much time and words as I wish to waste on Politics. Done.

In general, I think I may be scaling back on  social media. I find my timeline on FB to be awash with cynicism and bitterness. Twitter is basically just a news stream for me these days. I need to be out DOING things in order to have anything remotely interesting to share or post. Otherwise I’m just regurgitating other people’s info, words, and ideas. Nothing wrong with sharing other’s ideas if they’re good ones, but I’d like to share my own as well. I want to get out and take photos with my camera (not just my phone). I want to immerse myself in my art and writing again. There’s a lot of world out there that is getting missed while I sit in my living room on my laptop going “tippity tap” on the keyboard. In winter, there was less motivation to get outside, but now that the sun is shining and the temps are going up? I want to be OUT THERE. Nice thing is, social media will be there when I come home.

There is some truth about social media being based in narcissism. It is all about  sharing me, posting about me, my feelings, my opinions. Blogging really is just the long form of that. It’s not a bad thing in small doses, but it can lead to “missing out” syndrome. I’ve finally managed to rein in my need to comment on all the things. It’s funny how there are people who treat comments like validation. If you post and no one comments, are you in some way lacking? It’s a silly premise. If you’re basing your worth on whether other people happen to be online and read your post and have something of value to add to the conversation? You’re gonna be sadly disappointed a lot of the time.  I fling my posts out there like messages in bottles. It’s nice for a response, but for me they’re just a small flag in the sand about where I was and what was happening at the time. I plant it and walk away. I try not to comment unless I can add to the conversation. Birthday greetings I try to keep up with. It’s a small gesture, granted, but I like doing it. Maybe my age is starting to show.
I’m less interested in over analyzing  things, and just enjoy them. Maybe I just don’t have anything to prove. I know I’m not the most knowledgeable of nerds, but I’m okay with that. I don’t like all things in fandom, so I don’t watch, or listen, or read the things that don’t hold my interest. I also don’t waste energy commenting on things I don’t like or indulge in. Why would you? People who like a thing don’t need to hear my 20 cents on why I don’t like it. It’s not going to change their opinion, and will probably only serve to make them defensive, or angry. Friendships get broken over stupid things like that.
I don’t pretend to have a firm grip on all issues or legislation in the political arena, but I have opinions, which I can modify if new info arrives. Maybe this is what going with the flow is all about. Life is getting more complicated by the day, over full of information and demands for my attention. I think the answer, for me, is to just not indulge in the over saturation. I may not know everything, but I can stay focused on the things I am interested in, that I can change, that I can help. I’m not awash in money, so I help the people and causes I can, and try to spread the word about the ones I can’t. Stress is skyrocketing in this country, and our attention is so paper thin anymore that our outrage wears off before any situation is resolved. So, I’m going to slow down. Think before I post. Breathe before I jump to conclusions. Research before I assume. I may not be the first one to the megaphone, but at least I’ll have a calm and reasoned response, possibly with a little more info.

My 2 favorite quotes from the past year have been “You don’t have to attend every argument to which you’re invited” and ” Not my circus, not my monkeys”. Both speak to online interaction very pointedly. If I responded to every single outrage post I saw online, it’d be ALL I DID, ALL DAY. Yes, the world is awful. Yes, bad things happen, including bad legislation, bad behavior and irredeemable acts by morally bankrupt people. Reading about it all day would make you either want to punch someone or feel so helpless you could curl into a ball and never come out. Guess what? You can only do what you can to make the world a better place. But it’s not all on you. Sometimes you need to just turn off the stream of awful. It doesn’t mean you don’t care. It doesn’t mean you’re heartless or apathetic. It’ll keep you sane.

Sorry that this post is a bit of a grab bag of things. Lots of thinky thoughts stored up over time needed some air. :)

So, in sum up– I’m going to go do the IRL thing and only come online sporadically. I do have people I care about far away so  I want to keep that connection. But I need to cut the cord a bit more frequently. Hopefully when I come back to my keyboard, I’ll have better stories, less navel gazing. Also. PHOTOS OF CATS!! (Because it is an internet law, isn’t it?)

Be kind to yourselves, my friends. You might be missing out on things online, but you won’t be missing out on life out there. Find your balance. Be happy.

Life Reboot, number….I’ve lost count now.

10 03 2015

Weather: Michigan Winter on the Wane. After weeks of sub-zero wind chills and cold air temps and snow snow snow….We’re finally stabilizing back up into the low 40s & 50s.

So I haven’t post anything since my post- brain trauma write up. Time to catch up with all the craziness.

I am pretty much fully recovered. Had a third angiogram and a 4th CT Scan. Which basically told me that 1) all the blood has cleared out of my skull, and 2) I still have no answer as to what caused my brain bleed. The doctors all told me there is close to zero chance of this happening again, which is weird, considering they don’t know what caused it. C’est la vie.

I’m off almost all of my meds, which I am infinitely thankful for, because the getting up in the middle of the night to take horsepills was getting a little tiresome.

There have been bumps in the road. I had an allergic reaction to the dye from the angiogram which resulted in a week of severe skin irritation and a lot of Benadryl being taken to stave it off.  Once that finally vanished, I succumbed to that week’s version of plague. (Luckily the head cold version, which sucked nonetheless) Still have lingering nasal yuck, but hoping for it to be all gone soon.

The down side of perpetual sickness, even if it changes up the version, is that everything in your life kinda gets put on hold. Have only been to the studio twice since getting home from the hospital. I’ve missed several weeks of TaiChi. My weight is getting ridiculous again, but that happens when you’re stuck on a couch feeling miserable.

Then there’s the non-illness related bumps in the road. My dad’s only brother, who was my favorite uncle, passed away this week. He’d been ill with heart problems related to previous health issues. Still, it hurt to see him go. It was kind of like losing another connection to my dad. We’re going to the wake this weekend.

Now there has been some GOOD news, albeit stress inducing, but in a GOOD way. We purchased a house! Here in St. Joseph and in our price range and in town proper. Never thought we’d get all three. Closer to the studio. Closer to town. Putting down some roots finally. Brian hated living in the apartment, but made do. We lucked into a four square style, 2-story house with almost all the features we wanted, including fairly brand new appliances. (Which is a god send, because we’re gonna be tight as ticks until I can get some work/artwork sold.) Will be so happy to get all our stuff out of storage and start paring down the non-essentials.

All in all, things have been slowed down, and both Bri and I feel like we’re rebooting. We will be putting a lot of energy into getting the house organized, getting back into the studio to make up the time we’ve lost over the past few months, and getting ourselves back in shape. It’s time. We’re in a very good place now, and I don’t want the opportunity to slip from our fingers. Having had a pretty serious scare on the health front has, without being totally cliche, put things in perspective.

The long cold winter is finally over.

Hoping for a productive, creative and new start this spring.

More regular blogging will happen once we get settled in.

I’m happy.  I’m alive and with the person I love, and we’re about to embark on a whole new adventure.

I really really can’t wait. :D


So THAT happened…..(A clinical look at life and nearly losing it.)

26 12 2014

So. I’m sitting here on the couch on Boxing Day, having not really celebrated Christmas.

Not because of any particular hard feelings, but because I’d just gotten out of the hospital after a 13 day stay.

Because I’d nearly died.

I’m not one for melodramatic over analysis or handwringing, so when I say I nearly died, understand that it’s because I beat 50% odds that could have easily gone the other way.

On December 11th, I was getting ready for a possible job interview. I was nervous but no more than usual. Suddenly a clamp tightened on the base of my skull. A tension headache, I thought. No big deal. I’m stressing the interview. Took some ibuprofen. But the clamp tightened. Then the back of my head ballooned into something huge and painful. To the point that I was starting to cry from  the pain. And sweat. OMG I was sweating so much. Tried to get up off the couch and my skull decided that was the time to try sliding off my neck. I let out a little yelp of pain, but managed to get to the dining room table where my phone was. I texted my husband Brian with the words “Head hurts. Very bad. Getting scared.” He texted back “Call 911” I was tempted, by years of “grit your teeth through it” stubbornness to just sit and let it wind down. But it wasn’t winding down. It was getting worse. So I called 911. And got a lady who immediately sensed the distress in my even robotic tone.  An Ambulance was sent immediately. It arrived in under 5 minutes. Brian showed up just as I finished emptying the contents in my stomach into a mixing bowl grabbed by one of the EMTs. Then I was bundled into a gurney, wrapped in blankets, wheeled out of the apartment and put in an ambulance. My last clearly remembered thought was the EMTs putting monitor patches on my chest and sticking an oxygen tube up my nose.

The next thing I remembered was waking up December 18. I was being extubated. I managed to ask through a very raspy voice how long I had been out. 7 Days. My sister Kirsten and my Mom were there waiting. Telling me that Brian was at work but had been there almost every day since I’d been hospitalized. Apparently I’d been helicoptered to Kalamazoo, to a hospital that was better suited to dealing with my  particular brain injury.

Brain Injury. I figured I’d broken something in my head, considering the pain. Apparently, I’d suffered a subarachnoid Hemorrhage. Basically, I’d bled out into my brain. No, the doctors didn’t have an answer HOW it happened, but apparently I had two arteries in a place most people only have one. Plus I have a little pocket at the base of my skull. None of which anyone would have known about without the 2 angiograms that were done on me. There was still blood in my skull, so they were waiting on it clearing out before doing a third angiogram to see if any answers were forthcoming. Lucky for me,  my fast call to 911 and the quick transport to the hospital may have saved my life. I spent a week on a ventilator, eating through a tube, getting my lungs suctioned daily because of pneumonia, worrying the crap out of my husband and family, and possibly not waking up. Ever.

Then I woke up, shook the pneumonia, got off the breathing tube, started taking a metric ton of drugs and injections to keep my head from exploding again. I spent 3 more days in ICU, weak as hell, dealing with humiliating lack of independence on levels I can’t relate here. Then 2 days in a private room. More independence. Solid food. Shower. OMG SHOWER! and many visits from nurses and doctors to test my blood, my oxygen levels and give me thrice daily shots in the stomach to stave off any clots creeping up to snuff me out. (Mind you the staff at all points of my care were FANTASTIC. Never had better care before)

I’m home now.  With 6 prescriptions of everything from blood thinners, to vaso-suppressors, to anti-seizure meds. I have a walking cane because I am still too wobbly to walk down the hallway. I still get chronic headaches. I have to set alarms to take medications in the middle of the night.

But I’m alive. And my husband is relieved and takes amazing care of me.

I still don’t know what actually happened.

I do know something though. My health issues may have exacerbated the situation. And the balance of the problem? Might have happened anyway.

So now I’m stuck with a series of thoughts that are difficult to deal with.

1) I very nearly died. I could very nearly die again. There is literally no guarantee at either end of that spectrum.

2) I have an epic circle of friends and family that all rallied in ways I’d never expected for my support. I am nearly on my knees from being humbled. It’s one thing to know people online and from afar. It’s entirely different to have people starting prayer circles for you and helping support your husband and family.

3) I don’t know the long term effects of this. I won’t know for a while. So far, my focus and short term memory seem to be a little off. Hopefully that will improve.

4) I’m covered in wounds. From tubes and injections and bruising. It’s disconcerting not to know where half of them came from.

5) My eating habits have radically changed.  My voice has changed, possibly permanently. I’m not sure who I’m turning into, but I’m trepiditious.

6) I have another angiogram coming up.  I have a 50% chance of coming out of it with no new answers. I’m weirdly okay with this.

7) I need to figure out what I want out of life. Now. I want to do a lot of things. I want to BE a lot of things. I’m caught in the crossfire of taking the slow road of recovery and the wide open field of endless possibilities.

The weirdest thing out of all of this is how epically calm I’ve become. My emotions are very still. It could be the meds. It could be brain damage. It might just be the natural reaction to almost dying. I’m not obsessing on what might have happened, which seems like a waste of  energy.

The only thing I do know is that I want to be healthy enough to be with Brian for a good number of years going forward. And maybe that’s goal enough for now.

So THAT’s done……NOW what do I do?

9 07 2014

Weather– Can I just say how lovely it’s been up here in Michigan? We’re on average 10-15 º cooler than where we came from in Indiana, plus lake breezes. AHHHHH!

So….. As of today’s writing, we’re 100% done with our old house. Papers signed, all our stuff in storage, new owners are already re-painting the living room- DONE.

And with the year long process of getting the house ready for sale and the usual several month process of selling & closing behind us, I’m suddenly missing a large block of distraction and worry. The hole it’s left is…both a relief and a source of discomfiture. I have a ton of things I can focus on now, but something has me spinning in place.

Maybe it’s just a matter of taking a few days to let it sink in. We are never going back. The house no longer belongs to us in any capacity. A place that I lived for over 11 years (16 years for the husbeast), where I laughed, cried, fought depression and found joy….is not mine anymore. Mind you the regret is very small, the relief- HUGE. The neighborhood was starting to slide a bit. The location wasn’t really doing much for helping us get our burgeoning art careers off the ground. Too close to family drama, too far from the city to use its resources.

It was definitely time to find an elsewhere to be.

This weekend is the Krasl Art Fair in Saint Joseph. It’s huge. We’re definitely going, if for no other reason, to get a feel for the art community first hand. Of course, with not having worked on anything in months…I’m feeling a bit like a pretender, a hack if you will. Studio space is our priority. I want to find some part time employment, just to help out. Ultimately, I’d like to get to the point where my art IS my part time job, with writing being the other half of that equation.

Now I have the time and resources to do it. We ended up having to get a second storage unit because of the amount of studio equipment and supplies we have.

Also, as a side note–we have a LOT of stuff. We both agreed that it’s time to start scaling back on things. When we get around to purchasing a house next year, we’re gonna try to dispose, or donate, or sell, at least 1/3 of our things. If you own too many things, they end up owning you, as the saying goes. Time to part with things that we haven’t touched, read, looked at in several years.

My health is slowly getting better. I’ve lost a few pounds and I’d like to continue the trend. I’m well above what I should be. (Not looking to be skinny, just healthy. Knees and ankles will definitely thank me for it. )

Again… there are no obligations or distractions on the near horizon anymore. We’ve been putting things on hold or pushing them further ahead of us….waiting for the RIGHT TIME. Some were just because we had the house crap going on. Some were….well, those were just excuses. We could have been doing a lot of them now, already. So now comes the litmus test.

Are they still things we want to do? OR have we been paying lip service to goals, dreams and plans that maybe aren’t really what we want anymore? We have nothing keeping us from doing them now. Literally. Finances are always a concern, but that is the least problematic obstacle there is.  Will to do something? That’s another animal altogether. We have no excuses, none of worth. So why the hesitation? When the universe suddenly parts the stormy seas for you, giving you a clear path and a light at the end of the tunnel, why do you pause?

Part of my problem, and it IS a problem, is that during the whole “get the house sold” time, I got way too immersed in social media and online timesinks. It’s time to pull back on those, but the lazy brain keeps slipping into the old rut. That’s just lack of discipline.

Another part of the problem is parallel to suddenly not having a longterm debt hanging over your head and finding yourself with money in the bank. The smart way to view the money in the bank is money to save towards things we have been wanting to do- travel, invest in new house, etc. But the lazy brain starts harping–YOU HAVE MONEY–GET ALL THE SHINY THINGS YOU’VE BEEN WANTING! Again–Discipline.

Recovering time is like that extra money in the bank. You can either use it productively, putting it into things that matter (with a little fun on the side) or you can squander it on meaningless things that only satisfy an immediate interest that will fade quickly. So…need to spend the next few days building that discipline back up. I know what I WANT to be doing. I WANT to be working on art, working on my book, spending some time tooling around the town taking photos. Eventually, I know both me and the husbeast want to start traveling again. We haven’t taken a proper trip in about 6 years. Haven’t taken an international trip together….ever. And after 9 years married, that’s a shame. We’re both second generation Americans, with parents from Europe (Except my dad, but he’s only two levels shy of Europe himself). Our passports haven’t been updated in YEARS.

Depression and fatalism leads to a sort of woolen complacency  where everything you build up as an ideal gets put up on a shelf as a shiny idol- something you admire, but never really try to reach for and touch. It makes for a weary existence where you stop trying to make the goals happen, keeping them on the horizon as a happy thought, but not a reality. There’s a twisted security in not pursuing your dreams– if you’re not taking up the challenge to make them happen, you’ll never be disappointed or frustrated. It’s just a happy thought of “When _________ is done, we can do that”, with something new always replacing the blank space in that sentence.  Somewhere a while back I heard a quote that said something along the lines of “Every time you say next week, next month, next year….you are wasting time waiting for that imaginary time where there are no obstacles, distractions or challenges. It never comes.”  And in the meantime, a lifetime has slipped away, sunk in the dreary minutiae of other people’s obligations, demands and the low level fear of trying to achieve a goal and not making it.

Well, there’s the rub. The husbeast and I are literally in that magical place of no distractions, no obligations and very few obstacles. Yet we sit, looking at each other as though shell shocked. What do we do now?

Perhaps our better question would be, where do we START now? At least that gives us something to work with. Actually…Just saying that has made things look a little better. A new START. Perhaps it’s time to not look at the jumbled pile of put off goals, and unmet ideals, and slightly tarnished dreams. Perhaps it’s time to sort them into boxes, set them aside and put up a clean canvas. Perhaps, if we get let the Universe unfold as it should, with us remolding our goals and pulling out only the necessary components as we need them from the dream box….perhaps the pressure to do ALL THE THINGS will dissipate and we’ll find ourselves where we’re meant to be.

I’m willing to try that.

For now, I will make a start by heading off to make some phone calls that I’ve been putting off.

Then I will work on some edits.

Because discipline doesn’t just arrive because it’s needed. It needs to be built piece by piece, less like armor, more like chain mail, link by link.

Time for our new life has arrived and I’ll be damned if I’ll squander the gift of time and resources that has been literally dropped in our laps.

For now, the social media and the interwebs can do without me for a while.

Hey—-did anyone notice this fantastic world that exists outside? I need to go investigate it. Look at it. Experience it.

Till next time……Gonna go spend time here with this guy. :)


So THIS is what happy feels like….

3 06 2014

Weather: low 70s. Sunny. Lake is calm.


So I was doing my usual surfing around zee net and was reading some of Wil Wheaton’s blog when I came across this entry,
Being a Grown-up” and found myself smiling a lot. Now I have nowhere near Wil’s readership, fame or general charm, but I really commiserated with the ideas there.

We’ve settled into our apartment in Michigan fairly easily.  I’m still looking for a job, but it’s not breaking my back. Husbeast’s job is covering us fine for now. House back in Indiana….News on that soon. Good news. We bought a second car for me, so I’m not clawing the walls with cabin fever (it’s a bright orange 2007 Chevy, enough to get me around locally, and to work, once we get to that point.)

I was just puttering around the other day– done some laundry, surfed the web, cleaned the apartment– and I was listening to a song as I waded around the usual websites. The song is immaterial but a line caught my ear and suddenly I was crying. Not from sadness. I didn’t recognize the emotion at first. Realized I was happy. Really and truly happy.

I think people forget that Happy doesn’t mean everything is alright, perfect, and settled. This was the Happy that comes with realizing that a long slog through an untenable situation is finally ending. That, although there are still challenges and possible obstacles ahead, they’re not the same, soul crushing things I’ve been dealing with the previous 10 years and they are going to be off my plate. FINALLY.

I looked out the window at Lake Michigan. Some storm clouds had rolled in and the lake was a little turbulent. It felt cleansing, rather than ominous.

I felt content. I know it’s not going to last forever, but I’d forgotten what that felt like. Like a song that you haven’t heard in years, and suddenly it comes on the radio, and you suddenly remember the lyrics and a smile pulls your lips up.

It came back this morning when I wrote a lengthy post on Facebook about trying to step away from polarization in thinking, about trying to start working with people instead of always being in opposition to things. After writing it, I realized that’s where I’m happiest. When I can step back from the snarling warfare that has become every discussion/debate online, and really look at both sides. And see that everything in this world is not either/or. That there are always more options than just A vs B. That this world is so much more complicated than a soundbite, or 140 character vent or Facebook post. (Including mine). And I’m okay with not knowing what the right answer is. That I can see that parts of arguments FOR and AGAINST something might have equal value. I’m wary of anyone saying they have all the answers or, more off-putting, the ONLY answer.

In deference to Wil’s post that I linked to up there, I felt something click into place reading it. I’ve felt like a fraud of an adult for a long time. Not because I’m irresponsible, or that I act immature, but that I don’t feel like I have all my shit together. I’m 47. Shouldn’t I have a better grasp on….well, everything? After reading Wil’s post, I finally was able to shed that last bit of insecurity. I think the reason I feel content for the first time in a while is that I’ve come to terms with MY definition of being an adult. And I’m completely secure with it.

For me, being an adult means taking care of your obligations, taking care of those in your care, and understanding, with acceptance, that some things in your life are meant to happen, and some are not. That you can do ANYTHING you want (within legal boundaries of course), but there may not be time to do EVERYTHING. Letting some lesser dreams go to focus more energy on the ones you REALLY want to pursue. There’s peace in not letting other people’s negativity infiltrate your soul. You can empathize without absorbing. You can sympathize without making it about you. You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. And it’s okay not to weigh in on everything that crosses your path online. Having passionate ideas is good for your brain. Do what you can to help others, do what you can to lift up others in need, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually. But the key factor is, keep YOURSELF out of the equation. By this I mean, do things without need for recompense, praise or reciprocation. Do things because they’re the right thing to do.

A few things I’ve learned recently, and I try to practice are:

1: Accept apologies without suspicion or judgment. Even if you doubt the person’s sincerity, let it go.

2: Question any possible inflammatory statements before posting or saying them. Will the outcome be helpful or merely inciting others to fight?

3: Know when to walk away from a discussion that has lost its purpose, become needlessly mired in personal insults or has reached a stalemate. (Also know when to walk away from people who are constantly engaging in these kinds of arguments)

4: You owe nobody an explanation when you say NO to a demand for your time or services that you deem excessive or unfair.

5: Be nice. To everyone. Be polite. To everyone. Be compassionate. TO EVERYONE.  However, this does not mean you have to agree with them, support their actions or let them walk all over you.

6: Creativity starts when you stop worrying about what others think or what the market wants. Make what you want to make. Stop taking the advice about creativity from people who don’t create.

7: If the internet becomes overwhelming, or you find you’re getting angry at people you don’t know, or if you find yourself getting bored scrolling, turn off the computer and go do something else. In fact, start doing it more even if you aren’t any of the above.

8: Lastly, you are under no obligations to talk about or reveal anything about yourself, ever. It has to be a choice. Anyone who tells you otherwise has an agenda.

These are the things I’ve learned and am trying to apply daily. And in practicing what I preach, you, gentle reader, are fully entitled to ignore, object to or embrace these things. Do what’s best for you.

I guess this whole happiness things does pivot on choices in the end. You can choose to be happy– remove the things from your life that are unnecessary or causing undue stress or fostering unhealthy attitudes– or you can choose not to be. There’s no penalty or judgment in either direction.

I suggest, humbly, that we all try to find our own guidebook to being an adult and stop beating ourselves up for not meeting some arbitrary criteria. Be the best adult you can be. Don’t condemn others for not adult-ing the way you do.

But let’s all try to grow up a little. It’s not hard. It’s not scary. And you’ll shed a lot of baggage in the long run.


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