Monthly Archives: May 2010

Patience

Some things I’m learning through getting back into painting:

1.  SLOW DOWN.  There is no hurrying a painting and there is no moving life forward through wishful thinking or frenzied activity.  I may as well be still and be present in the moment.

2.  Open Eyes and See.  The more I look at my subject and the less I look at my canvas, the better the painting turns out.  The more I fix my eyes on the Author and the less conscious I am of me, the more my life is characterized by hope and peace.

3.  It’s About the Process.  I rarely end up with a painting I am totally satisfied with, but I am learning.  I am growing.  The work I did today is not the same as what I did six months ago.  I am not the same person I was one year ago.

I feel this could all be summed up in the word PATIENCE.

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Self-Help

I have a special connection with one of my aunts– it’s spiritual and artistic.  We both care deeply about our faith and we are both artists (though we’d never introduce ourselves that way).  I was eating dinner at her house and proudly telling her how productive I’d been that week.  I’d finished THREE art projects, including the painting in the previous post.  I felt alive and jubilant and a little triumphant.  I always have unfinished projects, and I am always behind where I want to be.

Then Aunt Diane began telling me about a book she’d just bought from the self-help section.  She’s been struggling with artist’s block and was willing to risk being seen in that section of the bookstore if something might clear the blockage.  She came across The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity.  I read a few pages and liked what I found.  The author says that creative acts are all steps of faith.  More on that another day.

One thing she suggests is to write three pages every day.  This is just a free-write.  You’re not allowed to show these pages to anyone and you’re not encouraged to re-read them.

Normally, I start my day with prayer-journaling, but I’ll often feel distracted or stop writing before I’m finished because I get stuck.  I’ve tried the three page thing the past few days, and it does seem to do something cathartic.  It purges emotions and the headlines of a particular day.  Then I’m able to get to the heart of things.

It is usually in a place beyond the noise of my day that I am able to hear most clearly.

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Art, At Last

“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” -Julia Cameron

my version

original

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A Thursday’s Thoughts

I am a big fan of musicals.  I love the joyousness of musicals and I love the cleverness that has to be employed to write songs that forward the plot and have integrity as musical compositions.  One of the musicals I like is Legally Blonde.  Emmett is the lawyer who helps Elle begin to take herself seriously as a smart, capable law student.  Elle returns the favor by taking Emmett shopping for a suit that will force the world to take him seriously.  The shopping scene is the beginning of their romance.  In it, Emmett wonders (in song, of course) What does she want?  Not really sure.  Why can I never say no to her? What’s that smell? And the store clerk waves a perfume sample in the air with a smirk, Subtext, she says, by Calvin Klein.

Brilliant.

My friend Gigi and I took some great classes on women’s studies in college.  Mostly in classes like that you learn to discern subtext.  You become aware of the assumptions and messages behind the words and actions seen in the media and in daily life.  Then you begin to see how an advertisement for Venus razors is not just trying to sell you replacement blades, they’re selling a particular construct of femininity (in this case: thin, exotic, hairless and exuding sexuality… the song says it all I’m your Venus, I’m your fire, your desire!).  It’s a very good thing to know about this kind of thing.

But what Gigi and I have discovered is that there is no turning off the subtext radar.  We both like a good chick flick; we’ve even been known to attend the midnight showing of certain teenybopper sensation movies.  But it is hard to enjoy the candy of entertainment when you know what it is made out of.

I’m in the middle of Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”.  It’s a book about living good stories.  One of the things he says is that when you become aware that better stories are out there, and that you want to be living a better story, you stop having a choice.  Because, “Not living a better story would be like deciding to die, deciding to walk around numb until you die, and its not natural to want to die” (66).  It is a gained understanding from which you can’t turn back.  It is like subtext… once you know about it, you see it everywhere.  You could only cease to see it by stubbornly closing your eyes, putting your hands over your ears and singing, “La la la, I can’t hear you!”  And that is no way to live.

All of this to say:  I am becoming much more aware of the stories being told around me and in me.  Unable to ignore them, I must change, you know?

P.S.  I never write what I think I’ll write…  The writing always takes me somewhere else.

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The Lump, Part Two: Bloopers

This journey was not without laughter.

Apparently general anesthesia makes me very chatty.  When I woke up post-op–blind without my glasses–I remember asking in one breath, “Did it go okay?How long did it take?Can I have a drink of water?Can I go to the bathroom?”

Someone handed me a cup of ice chips (and completely ignored my other questions!).  I ate a few, then set the cup on the table next to me.  Except that there wasn’t a table next to me.  I heard my nurse say, “I think my patient just dropped her ice chips.”

The next thing I know, I’m waking up in another room.  As my eyes are opening, I’m thinking, “I hope lots of people are here.  I’m awake and I feel like talking! I hope lots of people are here.”

I talked the ears off of all my visitors for the next few hours until it was time to go to sleep.  I’m pretty sure I told every single person the “dropping my ice chips” anecdote and laughed at myself each time.  I remember talking animatedly to someone on the phone.  I remember discussing philosophy with my aunt.

Keep in mind that the right side of my face is paralyzed (just temporarily, it wore off after a week or so), but half my face is not moving and one eye is not blinking.  So all this talking and laughing is happening out of one side of my mouth.

You might want to be around the next time I go under. 😉

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