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My Art Therapy Journey

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I wrote about this sad egg last night.  Otherwise known as the bad egg (more images in my last post.)

I’m back to look at it again.  I slept on it.

It needed some incubation.

 

I dreamt about ceramics class.

I dreamt that I was in class with my current teacher’s wife, which while it sounds strange (yet, perhaps fitting for me if you’re familiar with my life) it’s not really too weird because my teacher’s wife is also a ceramics teacher at the school I attend.  In fact, I had attempted taking her class the semester I got pregnant with my  (now) toddler and quit (without officially withdrawing) because of pregnancy issues and I got an “F.”

An F.

That was an “F” to replace my “C” I had earned the semester 5 years earlier with her husband because I up and quit before final critique and the final written test in class after I was affected by one of my classmates committing suicide in the same class.

He was there one day, a nice, quiet guy…and then gone.  And I only knew he was gone because his dad came to class to pick up his stuff one day and then my teacher made a vague announcement about him not returning.  Ever.

You can take a class 3 times before the school cuts you off and won’t allow any more re-do’s.

So this is it.

My last chance at Ceramics 1.

 

I don’t remember all of my dream last night.

I basically remember being in trouble for something I did.  I think I might have missed a class and my teacher was irritated at me.  And I am really sensitive about irritating people.  I don’t like to do it, which is ironic since I probably do it a lot.  I’m probably irritating you now!

I remember a charcoal drawing of a pot, and I remember asking questions about it.  There were things I didn’t understand.  Stuff about orthogonal lines that confused me.  And I love basically everything about art, but when it comes to orthogonals I definitely tune out.

 

So I woke up thinking about what I labeled my bad egg.

I never give up on things.  It’s both what has kept me going and kept me from going, at times.

It’s my love/hate relationship with tenacity.

It’s my war.

It’s my life.

In some way, it’s me.

 

At one time I used the word as an online moniker.

 

I want this egg to succeed.  When it started out I didn’t really care that much about it.  I just wanted to complete this assignment and move on to one I was interested in.  But then, it evolved.

And I had feelings.

And people saw.

And I had questions.

It developed a purpose.

 

If you really want the truth, it’s not really my project at all.  It’s a kid inside me’s project.  I didn’t care much about this one, so I handed it over, I guess.

And so…

And so what?

 

And so, I don’t know.

 

So I’m going to ask more questions for this one, inside.

I’m not going to give up on helping things along.  It needs a little help.

She needs a little help.

Maybe a lot.

 

The long, hard night is over.

Today is another day.

I’ll sit on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a project I’ve been working on almost all semester.  I think it’s been through the kiln 5 times for different processes.  It’s experienced some experiments and some hardship.  The lid  has been cracked (and fixed) once (fell off my project shelf)  and it’s had a bit too heavy an application of copper oxide for my liking.  The egg no longer looks like it goes with it’s “nest” and the thing is starting to look overdone.  I’m not happy with it now, so I’m thinking of just throwing as many things as possible at it to see if I can miraculously bring it back to life.  I don’t know what else to do with it at this point.  It’s one of those projects that starts out with a lot of promise, but in the end is a big disappointment.   I kind of want to throw it at a wall.  It’s a “learning” piece, but I didn’t want it to be a learning piece.   I wanted it to do what I wanted it to do, and it’s not doing what I want it to.  I’m frustrated with it and starting to be embarrassed by it.  But I will keep throwing things at it until I just can’t take it anymore and throw it, itself.

There are only a handful of weeks left for this semester until all of our “wet work” has to be completed and the kiln is going at full tilt to get everyone’s projects fired for grades.  I have other projects I’m working on currently, and at least one project I’m pretty happy with that is complete with another cool one in the wings.  Then there’s the wheel thrown stuff that is somehow miraculously working out.   But this is the one I’m showcasing because it’s the one that’s been the most emotional, so far.  The most “unsuccessful.”   The most troubling.

This is the one that feels so totally out of control, and the one that at some points I have tried to control the most.  Because I’m looking for an outcome.  Because I had a finished picture in mind somewhere along the way.  And I am not happy because this is not it.  I have quit feeling enjoyment while I am working on it.  Will I be able to reclaim my joy with it?  Can it be redeemed?  Can it  survive?  Can it become good again?

I don’t know how darkness can be so invisible.

But sometimes it is precisely because of its invisibility that darkness becomes itself.

 

When I was a teenager I had a conversation with the darkness once.  I suppose I was a little headstrong, a little unruly.  The invisible darkness was the only real force I could rebel against.  I definitely wasn’t going to try to rebel against my mother or father.  In hindsight, that might have been the better path.  (Not that I hope my teenager ever sees that sentence!) But for me, it might have been quicker path into light.

 

Instead, I stepped, unknowingly, deeper into the pits of emptiness in my effort to be good enough for them…and for me.  Really, to be good at all, but mostly to be good-enough for anyone I though might love me if I performed well.  Perfectly.

 

My hand was asked in marriage at 16.   And I said yes to the man who was 15 years older than me.  And so did my parents.

I bought my own wedding dress with money I earned myself.  $300 at David’s Bridal.

I was a childcare worker.  I made $8 an hour (I later realized taxes weren’t taken out so when I reported my wages I was taxed more than I ever earned, but that’s another story,) which was a huge salary (hourly) increase from my $7.25 I made at the dry cleaners and I loved children.

Except for later I learned I didn’t really love myself…and neither did anyone else.  But not because they didn’t want to.  Because they just couldn’t.  I can’t entirely blame them.  So I can’t entirely blame myself for everything that happened either.

 

But about that conversation with darkness.  I remember it still.  I remember laying on my bed in my bedroom in the apartment I was living in with my mother.  It was after a fight.  I’m not sure if it was abuse.  I thought abuse only happened to children at the time, and I didn’t consider myself a child.  It was just a fight, and probably my fault.  I don’t remember the source of the fight that day.  I only remember the conversation I had after it while I laid in my room where I could never bring myself to sleep.  (I slept in the living room on the 2 cushion sofa every night with my neck propped curiously forward on the armrest.)   I remember my mom telling me I should sleep in my bed because I was breaking down the couch.  But I slept there for almost a year (the amount of time I lived there) anyway.  So maybe I did rebel some.

 

I keep getting away from the darkness.    Or do I?   (Sometimes the question has to be asked.)

The darkness and my conversation.  It was a little one-sided with me doing a lot of the talking, but the darkness doesn’t always talk in words.  The darkness isn’t always nearly as direct.  It likes to be more like a covering over everything so it becomes a mass so encompassing it can be hard to determine where it ends and begins, or to see it at all.

 

In this conversation, in my contempt, in my teenage righteousness and belief that I could surmount anything if given the time, I told the darkness, “You will never win.  You will never get me.  No matter what you do to me, I will never give you my soul.  You can beat me down, but you can’t have ME.  Never.  Never.  NEVER.  Over my dead body will you win.”

 

And so….I hadn’t learned yet….about the light…and about Life With Light.

I didn’t know what it was going to be about.

I didn’t know what was ahead of me.

I didn’t know all the…all the….things.

I didn’t know.

 

But as I look back on that “conversation” today, I sometimes feel like it was the first conversation where I was ever listened to and believed.  And I figured if  I believed the Light could see my heart that maybe the darkness could too, and it would be so clear that I was invincible.   I already could feel so little.

 

But I didn’t know.  I didn’t know.  I didn’t know.  I didn’t know.

 

And so this head-strong, heart-strong girl spent a lot of time learning a lot of different things about what can be seen and what can’t.

And about how remarkably presumptuous I was.

 

I worked to make the right decisions.  I always wanted to do the right things.

But what do you do when doing all the “right” things turns out to be wrong?

 

What do you do?

 

Sometimes you lose faith.  But that comes much later, after you realize maybe you made the wrong decisions about which (or whose) faith to follow.

 

Oh so many things.  So many, many, many many many horrendous things.

 

But the horror tonight should be about Halloween parties.  Because that is where horror belongs.

And I am starting to put all the horror and darkness that has existed, that has practically been my life up to this point, where it belongs.

 

Off of me.

 

So tonight there is no covering over who I really am.  This is me.

Sometimes it’s scary.  Especially for me when I look into that magic ball and see where I have been.

I look toward  and forward to the future, but I don’t look to know about it all ahead of time.  After all, time does not like to be raced.

I didn’t know before, and even with all that I didn’t know about and the perilous journey I was on (but didn’t know I was on, at the time) I still work on just being present where I am in this day, in this moment.  It is the only place I can be me.  Right here with myself is the only place I can be good enough.

 

I was thinking about this tonight after me and my husband’s first couples session (for the 2nd time)  (and this is my second marriage) with a new couple’s therapist.  I was, more specifically, thinking about this after we returned home from our session and after the “fight”  we had later.

 

I’m calling this phase of the journey, Operation Light.  I googled it and it doesn’t exist yet 😉  Of course, now it does.  So you can join this Operation of Light with me! 🙂

Life With Light: “Operation Light” ….I can see it in….lights, now. 😉

That proposes that it will work.

Operation Light is about infusing Light where ever darkness is even remotely suspected.  There’s no danger is suspecting darkness to be everywhere.  It is not possible to overdose on Light.

It will work….I’m talking to the Light about it right now.

 

I have had a little shift in my approach toward life.  I am learning to address the Light.  The darkness is not worth my time, and definitely not worth me.  And it’s not worth you either.  I just love people, and I can’t help it.  I was well-meaning when I tried to fight against the darkness rather than focus on fighting FOR the Light….I was young and perhaps a bit ostentatious.

 

But the Light has helped me see that…ever so gently, of course.  That’s the way of the Light.  Because the Light actually did know what was inside me and behind my efforts.

 

So when it seems dark and insurmountable, don’t give up.

Don’t ever, ever give up.  ” Operation Light” Lovers never give up unless they are giving it up to the Light. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Selflessness of Dreams

(the unedited and unproofread version…proceed with caution and coffee if you’re the slightest bit tired and still interested)

It’s not that nothing has been going on.  In fact, most people could probably attest that when they are most quiet is when quite a lot is actually “going in.”

…But how to define “going on?”

 

What is it I have been so busy with?

I could probably come up with a physical list only a few items deep:  Being a family woman, a mother, a student….but then there’s something missing.

Something actually just a bit bigger than all of those labels, actually.

I have to admit I have mostly been busy being me.  That’s right.  Just me.

I know I fill those roles and they matter a ton to me, though I couldn’t individually weigh them.

But really, I feel like the biggest, most expansive, consuming thing that’s been going on lately is just me…living.  Me living includes being married and those responsibilities, as well as being a mother and all those personal investments, but there’s been even more.

Life right now is filled with being created.  I create along the way, I step back, I let things happen to me.  I let this other force I feel in my life actually touch me.  What I feel touching me is somewhat undefined, but there is no question of its presence.  I’m being made into something/someone new…at least different.  At the same time I feel myself returning to who I always was…who I was before my time ever even began.

This sounds mystical.  A little off?

It sounds, even to me, like I could be having some kind of psychosis or delusions…..

But I’m pretty sure that if that is what I am experiencing then life exists squarely in the mix of it and that I am not alone in it either.  The fact that you, too, are here verifies that you are in this with me also, does it not?  Sorry, no exemptions.  You’re here or you’re not.  Are you here?  That can be a challenging question at time…I know for myself.

But then, life is not always so clear-cut.  Sometimes it is possible to be two places at once.  I know this, also as fact, for myself.

 

Everything has been in a wild sort of shift.  Motherhood, my student body, and wifedom.  My three most prominent schedulers right now.

But then, there’s that other player…Me.  And while “Me” is made up of those other things,  ”Me” is defined as one with spirit….

And so I have grappled with my spirituality.

Spirituality, which for me, is so closely tied to every cell within me.  And every cell, which is so closely tied to memory.  And memory to history…and history to, well….everything that has ever existed, seen or unseen.

 

Wow, I’m not proofreading and editing as I go so this could be a long, wandering ramble.

Probably the more people get to know me, the more strange I seem.  Or maybe I’m just flattering myself with that thought.  Suppressed egotism.  It’s got to be in there somewhere.

Besides, I’m just talking about all of this nonsense because I’m deathly afraid of sharing my real feelings.

 

Like the pains and the loneliness.  The everyday defeats and how even triumphs sometimes pang me.

This is part of “Me” and all the busyness, I know…but I’d rather come off as completely crazy than talk about these potentially understandable feelings.

 

Lately, I’ve been more present in my life, though it wouldn’t seem like it probably in this “letter.”

Some days I handle it better than others.

Today is kind of a rough one.

But I’m here, so this could, perhaps, be counted as a panged triumph, for an example of that pang I just spoke of.

 

Last night, which I suspect was actually very early this morning, I had a most odd of oddly dreams.  (But then, everything has been a bit odd seeming lately.)

It’s definitely one of those dreams to write to your therapist about (which I may well do, for good measure.)

I was in this house, and it was supposedly a house I knew somehow, but I’m not actually sure of the details.  But anyway, I was in this house of sorts and it was like at some point I was in this house with other people and we were all being led on a house tour.  And we got to this part of the tour and there was this passageway and it was so very, very, extremely narrow and all that could be seen was dark inside of it.  There was no way of telling what was in this passageway.  But to get through the tour and to eventually exit the house you had to go through this tunnel.   I saw someone else go up the tunnel.  They just walked up the steps and continued up through the covered passage (step were going up like a ladder) and disappeared.  No sounds or noise.  No commotion or cries for help.  They simply disappeared as if they had never been there.  And the guide for this tour was leading me to this spot and I neared it and felt my hands around the opening and I stopped there, not going further.  People were behind me talking amongst themselves, seemingly unconcerned about this passage.  (It had a very Johnny Depp, Alice in Wonderland /Charlie and the Chocolate Factory feel to the atmosphere…dark, strange, otherworldly) And the leader finally addressed me and said for me to go through this passage and I voiced my concern that the passageway was too small and tight for me and that I would get stuck (um….yeah, I am an artist, but NOT a fiction writer…I swear I am not making this up!)   He said it would be fine and to just go.

***This ends my account of my dream***

Except, I think I went into the passageway and I don’t really remember the rest.

Cliffhanger?

I’m not sure, but I’m a bit uneasy about sleep tonight, as if I am ever really easy about it!

 

I want comfort.  I want something or someone to come hold me and assure me that it really isok and that it really IS going to be alright, and I really am not too fat.  Because I’ve been dealing with extreme body feelings along with everything else too.

But right now it seems there is no comfort.  There’s just this narrow passageway I have to go into alone.  It seems like a place to experience every fear I have ever had.  Alone.

And maybe that is the biggest fear of all…Abandonment? Death?

For sure the feeling of Loneliness has been consciously tantamount.  So why would I need a dream about it??!

Maybe this is about something else entirely different, after-all.

I just wish I could figure it out so I could move on to a different dream….

Better dreams….

And on the subject of dreams….Being a dreamer can be lonely…and now maybe I understand that just a little bit better/deeper/differently.

 

One of the first papers I ever wrote in college for Composition I nearly 12 years ago (I was something like 21 years old) was titled “Dream’s Reality” covering Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams.  What can I say, Ambition is not just a fad for me.

 

All these years later and I’m still not a professional therapist.  I went the professional client route, I’m selfless.

This evening me and my husband had a luscious conversation about our spirituality and beliefs about life, religion and the journey of it all.  I am using the term “our spirituality,” but actually we each are quite different on our individual paths.  It’s a bit crazy that we actually even ended up married because we see things so differently, but then there are times when we meet in the middle.  We met in the middle enough to have a baby together and start a family anyway.

A lot of spiritual stuff has been on my mind, but that’s because my whole life has kind of been a strongly spiritual kind of journey, even though I didn’t necessarily pick it to be.  It kind of just happened…like being born.

I don’t know what to say about it because there’s so much to say about it.  And I’m a little scared to say some of the things I think because I don’t want my thoughts to be misconstrued as propaganda.  As if the world needs more propaganda these days.  (I think that and I don’t even practice watching the news.)

But if I remember right, I think our conversation got started because I was talking to my husband about motherhood.  Specifically, motherhood and the expectations on mothers in our society (we’re in Midwest USA), and even more specifically (or possibly more broadly) the “Christian ideal picture” of motherhood.

I’m not sure I belong in the midwest, and at this time I don’t identify with any organized religion.  Just saying, because I do have a lot of thoughts about both of these things.    I also don’t not (and I do mean that, this is not just bad grammar)  identify as a Christian.  It could be a confusing thing to try to categorize where I am.  It is for myself, sometimes.  And I guess I should also preemptively say I’m not looking for me and my family to be “saved”  and that doesn’t mean I want us to go to any literal or figurative hell.  It just means that I have faith in the journey so please let me be on it.  If I’m meant to find your cabin in the woods, I will.

I’m just sharing.  Pretend you have found my journal at the base of a tree, perhaps, with clear signs I will be returning.  For example, chocolate and coffee are nearby.  And pretend there is a little message beside my journal that says…”Read this if you want…at your own risk.”  But the risk part is not a threat.  It’s just the understanding between us that I actually have no idea where I’m going with all of this talk at the moment.

A little insider info about me…because I’m being just so private here, I know:

I wear a (small, and not clearly recognizable from a distance) cross around my neck.  Right next to (or on opposites sides of it, depending on how the charms lay on any particular day) are the words “grace” and “patience.”  This is where I am.  This is the most definitive place for myself I have come to on my spiritual journey, recently.

I would tell you what pieces on my necklace symbolize or refer to exactly, but I’m not sure exactly.  It’s just part of me right now, and I accept that.  I’m generally an open and accepting sort of person.

But anyway, back to the motherhood thing.  The motherhood thing.  It’s such a “thing” isn’t it?  It’s like one of the things you’re warned to not talk about with anyone else, lest you need to defend your life.  Everyone knows not to raise the subject of Politics, Religion and above all…Motherhood in uncertain company.

But I’ll just say it.

I don’t vote (usually.)   I’d probably be considered Agnostic (if forced into a box,) and I’m on the fence about my place in the world (particularly what my role as a mother should look like.)

I’m not sure how I turned out to be such an opinionated person, but I might see myself as opinionated just because I have many thoughts about a lot of different, and sometimes potentially volatile, subjects.

I’m just not imposingly opinionated.

***

After looking into it, since I am writing about this here, after-all….I’m actually probably a Gnostic Christian,not really A-gnostic.  Which just opened up some trail for me, as I speak.   (I have a sneaking feeling I knew this about myself once before, but got lost in trying to fit into a cabin that didn’t have space for me, or something, because the term “gnostic” is suspiciously familiar to me.)

***

Have you ever known or seen a chain smoker?  Perhaps you are one yourself, even.  Well, then you would understand me right now.  I am a chain gum-chewer and I’m at the end of my pack so I’m really trying to get somewhere with this post quick, because even the a-b-c gum is soon to be out of date for usefulness  if I don’t somehow get to it.

Oh that’s right!  I was getting to something!

I don’t remember it now.

I think I’m scared to let it out now, and I actually want to research gnostic Christianity for the rest of the night instead! Ha.

***

So I was saying about this luscious conversation with my husband-no fighting, no yelling, crying or hurt feelings, nobody being left stranded on the side of the road or running out the door before remembering to to get fully dressed to save themselves from the other.  A true gem of a discourse is what we had.

But I’m procrastinating here, now.

Maybe I’m not ready to speak about this publicly.  But I want to.  Because it’s a big deal, but that’s also why maybe I’m not ready yet.

Ah, I’ll get there.  But it might be 3am. before I do….and it’s only 9:20pm here.

Ugh, I guess I better save my energy for what I feel coming on…..

Sorry about tricking you into reading the preface…(I really didn’t mean to!)

+ high-res version

Well, it happened.  Today I dropped my first class of the season.  And what do you think it was?  None other than Photoshop.  My first and last class for Photoshop was last Thursday morning.  Sad.  Very sad.  But more than sad, I’m happy because it means that I’m not going down a short and fast path of ruin.  I stepped on it, felt the ground shake and quickly, but not too quickly, but fast enough to not get a permanent “W” (for Withdraw…(or how I fear it’s looked at by administration in big colleges, “Took the W because the F was coming?”).  So…still breathing, I got out of there.  I only went to the first class and the instructor is the same teacher who taught my Adobe Illustrator class and I actually signed up for his classes on purpose because I’d heard such good things about him.

It turns out he is very good, but good is so vague and relative.  I don’t have a high aptitude toward graphic design and am only really taking Illustrator and Photoshop because they are prerequisites for a couple of other design classes I am required to take for my art degree.  This teacher is first-rate if you’re into Graphic Design and that’s your major…but for the girl (woman, uhem) who likes to get her hands-up-to-her-armpits-dirty in clay, taking his class was about enough to make my head spin off my neck.  It’s purely miracle and kind-heartedness on my teachers part that I was blessed out of Adobe Illustrator alive and with an “A” for effort.

So anyway, his class wasn’t the “Photoshop for Artists” I was looking for. Today I saved myself by  clicking on a sweet, sweet drop button that, praise the Lord, still read “0% with no W on transcript.” when pressed.  My husband asked if we’ll get a refund.  I said “No, I only get to not self-destruct.  Want me to reinstate my class?”  Smiley face.  (He asked me through a text message.)

I’m still living.

In fact, I’m so alive after I officially dropped Photoshop I stepped outside and realized an abundance of wildly growing flowers in a little corral next to our garage (which unfortunately has no animals in it because we actually live in the suburbs and only can pretend we are farmers.)

But still, when we bought this house I wouldn’t let the guys tear it down.  I love my corral, and talking about it reminds me I need to get my bull’s head tied up out there again for lasso practice!  It had to be taken down when the enclosure was painted.   I’m digressing.   (At least I’m not regressing.  Digressing doesn’t seem so bad next to that possibility!)

All of this is to say…I was inspired to take some photos! 🙂

I’m pretty sure my neighbors were curious what I was doing bouncing around the corral for no clearly apparent reason today, but you know what they say about keeping  good neighbors.  Well, some say the best neighbors are fences, but we don’t really have fencing, so the next best thing is to feign insanity within their line-of-sight.    (No doubt, you’re convinced, right!? )

So here are my photos of the day.  Enjoy…I did!

 

Me today

 

hanging out together

Budding Heart

Out on a…vine

Protection (love, connection, hope, support, friendship, relationship, life)

This is your family tree…Oh, so THIS is who I am!