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My Art Therapy Journey

Posts from the Challenge Category

 

 

There are times that I wish I could let myself fall apart more.  Somehow,  those are never the times when I actually am falling apart. I will stop myself from falling apart even if it means a permanent ending to everything.  The times I fall apart are like the short breaks between bricks.  The places where the grout lays.

Clearly, there is more brick than grout, but without the grout the bricks most likely  would topple over and never stand or do the job they are typically created to do….and I’m not getting into physics and the possibility of that.  I know there must be exceptions to needing grout out there somewhere.  But I’m talking about what I know.

I don’t actually know that much about construction and building materials either, but that also doesn’t really matter right now.

My point is that I need to fall apart, but I also need to stay together.  I have to be both the brick and the mortar.  (Oh yeah, I think mortar is what it’s called?  Grout is for stuff like ceramic tiles, right???  I don’t know.  But this is also not the point.)

 

I’m trying to understand myself.

 

I just know that sometime I lose it.  I fall apart and I fall apart Big.  But not often enough.  But falling apart just once is too much!

I feel so stuck.

 

Maybe I just need to take down the wall.  Maybe I don’t need more (or less) falling apart.

Maybe I just need no more walls.

 

Fear is the glue.  (Glue now, not grout or mortar.)

 

Fear is static and unmoving.  Fear causes crumbling.  Fear leads to crashing.

 

I know I’m speaking in weird metaphors that probably don’t even go together.  It”s hard to face where I am in this–because I don’t really know where I am.  And this is part of the whole issue.

 

Am I strong?  Am I weak?  Am I needy?  Am I too much?  Am I not enough?

 

I need help.  I can’t do this alone.  I can’t be the wall and decide about what to do with the wall at the same time.  There are too many directions at once.  Repair it?  Take it down?  Keep some, change some?

I don’t know what to do with me right now.

I’m vulnerable.

I’m used to being it all.  The brick, the mortar, the builder and the one who climbs on, around or over the wall when it’s all done.

The problem is…it’s never done.

It’s a lot of upkeep now and it complicates life rather than making it necessarily better.

But the prospect of subbing (sub-contracting) this out is end-of-the-world frightening.

It means trusting, at least a little bit, and not being entirely in control of where things go, at least for a little bit.  I can still sort of have a say about things, but, in a way…I have to step back.

I write this like I have a choice about doing this.

It’s really already happening without me.

The memories are breaking through my wall(s).  People morph in and out of the reality of who they really are.  It’s hard to keep track of past and present.

I’m rattled all the time.  I tremor.  My fine motor skills are already gone and I worry about it progressing to more major movements like even walking or standing.

So I write this like I have a choice about letting-go.

The death-grip I’ve had on my life isn’t working anymore.

 

 

 

 

I don’t need to read the Bible.

My whole life has led me God.

The Bible interests me for reasons other than knowing God or the idea of God.   Except for the fact that I see God in people…and people are what I find in the Bible.

I am drawn to the Bible for the purpose of study.  Nothing in the Bible has really led me to faith.  So far.

This is not to say that it can’t or won’t strengthen my faith in the future, and not to dismiss the Bible and its importance or significance in people’s lives.  But, given that, in all fairness I’ve barely read it, how can I not make these statements?

What does this have to do with my art therapy journey?  I don’t know.  It might have to do more with my journey, just in general.  But my language, inside, is art…even when what comes out is words in a blog that don’t look or sound the least bit artistic.   At this very moment, there is art forming inside of me.  These are my thoughts…and thoughts lead to actions.   At least, that’s what I’ve been told.  For me, at least some of that action in my life is creating art.

I guess I can’t tell you why I believe in a higher power, especially when an overwhelming majority of events in my life wouldn’t point to the God I believe in, existing.

I say all of this as I begin down a path of embarking on Bible Studies.   Along with my Art Studies.

Maybe I am putting this here as a plot point.  A dot on the map so when I start talking about something I’ve come upon 5 miles down the road it all connects better and makes more sense.

I’m fascinated by people and culture and history.  The only history class I’ve ever taken is Art History and it left me wanting for more.

Less, actually.  Actually, less.

It left me asking more questions and yearning for context.  It left me asking questions about how I came to be and how any of us came to be.

It left me with a plague of questions.  Most people don’t want the plague.

My intro. class answered nothing.

So I don’t know where I’m going with this.  I just know I’m going somewhere because this spot I’m in isn’t very homey.

I yearn for people and connection as long as they don’t get too close and let me come to them a bit on my own terms.  Any sudden moves scare me away.  And it’s like that with God, too.  And that could be why I’m so interested in all of this.  Figuring out what is psychological, sociological, anthropological and theological.

That is a lot of logic, if you ask me.

I never asked for this to be my brain.

And that’s why I have so many questions.

If I could change my passions I most definitely would.

Who in the world would choose this?

I think I would rather suffer in superficiality.  I want to be addicted to “Omg!” (the  yahoo “news” page) instead.

But that’s not the life I was granted.

The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

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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?

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!)

I need to not wait so long between posts.  I need continuity.  I sway in and out between darkness and light and I need to record the wave somewhere.

Today I’m feeling a bit defeated because I came home from school to hear my toddler’s babysitter tell me  “I just keep hearing the universe telling me to change and I  think one of those changes is that I’m going to bail on you and your daughter.”   She didn’t use the word “bail,” of course.  But that’s what it is.  I can’t blame her for being a 23-year-old clown, really.

I’m not being derogatory.  She is a clown and actually quite proud of it. She’s recently back from clown school. It was one of the things about her that caused me to want to hire her in the first place.  But it turns out I don’t think she actually likes being with kids all day.

I don’t feel defeated because the universe is apparently against me. (ha!) I’m feeling more defeated because during the course of our conversation she made sure to get into all of my tender spots about STILL not being graduated from college.  I felt like telling her she was awfully young to go for the part of playing Cruella Deville.   But I can’t blame her for being ignorant either.  If I acknowledge her perspective on my life as ignorance and not arrogant cruelty then I might have a little more patience for her to pack it up.

Well, maybe I’m still jaded after-all.

I thought I was going to be able to come here and announce that had passed.

Maybe not.

I’ve discovered feelings.

Rather, I’ve discovered rawness.

I feel stripped and searched.  Lately it feels like the world (the universe?) is pinching and grabbing at me, probing me.  Gross.

It seems like there’s not many places in the world for rawness.  Am I hurting anyone by being raw?

I think it bothers people a lot.

Ok, it bothers me.

I know who I want to be, but I’m not there yet.  And Lord help me the day I ever say I’ve arrived.  This life, for me, is not supposed to be about arriving.

Most certainly it’s about the journey.  That’s why I’m here.

School is in full-swing now.  The Line-Up: Ceramics, Art History-Renaissance to Modern,  Adobe Illustrator,  Photoshop.

I’m only in a little over my head.  I might have several weeks before I’m completely under.

I’m enjoying it, but probably only in the way rawness and joy really go together.

It’s a challenge.  It’s hard.  My brain and heart both feel like they are at capacity, but that might only mean they will soon grow bigger with space to be even more full?

Growing isn’t easy.   Anyone who has really ever grown or is growing would probably get that.

Breaking open is not all-the-way comfortable. But staying stalled, while it has its advantages, doesn’t really get you too far.

The thing about life being a journey  is that the end is never really reached, but it requires constant movement toward that place to be the journey it’s meant to be.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign (Found at the local zoo)

Somewhere along the way I became jaded, even though it’s just a dark synonym for hurt.

I have images to share, but…I’m jaded.  (So my world is blank.)

What is up with that?  I used to not even know what jaded meant.  I remember asking and having to look it up in the dictionary…back before Google.

I looked it up again, though, since it seems so definitive of where I am right now.  I wanted to be sure about it.

It turns out that “hurt” is not actually mentioned within the definition I found.

So maybe I shouldn’t  mention about the hurt aspect of my jadedness.

 

I know this is a phase.

Phases pass.

 

Things will change.  I’m looking forward to when I’m back to being some other color.  Pink maybe.  Not Pepto-pink.  Instead, more like something most people like.  Ice cream or cotton candy…baby blankets.  Strawberry milk?  (Maybe most people don’t like strawberry milk…)

 

I am so tempted to gloss over the green.

It would be so easy to just not put it here.  Nobody really needs to know about it.  I wouldn’t even have to acknowledge it.  It could be like it never happened.

 

Sometimes the light kills gross green stuff…like mold.

 

I will move through this.  I will.

Or I will be moved through it.

 

 

 

 

 

This morning I looked in the mirror while blow-drying my hair.

I thought about some of the things I would have to say if I told my story and choked back tears and feeling.

Then I realized it is so close to being time.

***

I’ve hired a nanny to babysit my daughter one day a week, which will turn into two half-days a week when school starts the next week.  We talk a bit when she arrives.  Just chit-chat and catching up for communication’s sake.  She asked me about my oldest daughter starting 8th grade and how she’s liking it.  In reality, I didn’t see my daughter off this year on her first day back.  I only saw her two cumulative weeks out of the whole summer.  But we texted on her first day back about how her first day went…the weigh in on teachers and the year ahead.  The usual first-day-back stuff, as if she were living every day with me.

Of course, all the Facebook pictures popped up all day of excited and anticipatory kids…the younger ones. Or the reluctant, begrudgingly photographed, but inwardly still happy their parents cared to mark the day in history, older ones.

I “liked” several of them and tried to not notice my empty spot.

And I hoped everyone else was too caught up in their own day to see that I had nothing of my own to share.

Here I sit, sharing my picture now.

 

There are a lot of questions and probably assumptions that can probably be brought on by this picture.

Just recognize it’s not fully developed yet.

 

So I told my toddler’s nanny about everything I’d gleaned from texts with my teenage daughter about the start of 8th grade without telling her I haven’t actually seen her for over a month.  Mostly, the teachers she doesn’t like (the ones who remind her of strict relative, lol) and the required “elective” class she wishes she had waited to sign up for (Robotics, by the way…I’m still not sure about the new need for this in our school system, but maybe that’s because I’m out of the loop.) She’s only 1 of 3 girls out of a class of 27 and not too thrilled about all the boys…which I found relieving, but kept to myself! 🙂

 

Then our nanny, who is only 23, talked a bit about high school…we talked.  When the topic of high school comes up I always try to play along.  But I actually only completed 9th grade and 2 months of that school year was completed in a psych hospital, as it was.  So I’m learning through anecdotes from other people about high school in America as I go along in life.  In the next 4 to 5 years I’m sure I will learn more and if I’m most lucky I will get a good, rounded-out first-hand fill from my daughter.

All of this brings up memories, of course, of who I really am and where I have really been in my life.  My lifeline.  It gets sort of shitty in spots and so I gloss over those parts, which actually means sometimes I gloss over a lot and people sometimes feel like they know me, but something is missing they can’t quite put their finger on.  It’s that slick, maybe.

 

So today I just said it, without the gloss.  Plain.  No sheen.

“I only went to 9th grade, so I don’t really know about all that.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah, I have a kind of interesting timeline with things.  I had a kind of crazy life.  Well, I wasn’t crazy, but my life was a bit crazy.”

 

I still left out the psych hospital part.

I was crazy…I guess.  Right?  I mean, look at where I’ve been.

 

But I’m getting close to the truth.

Closer.

 

Everything is so close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I get a little scared by acceptance.  It is, of course, something I always want.  I want it like the challenge that it is.  I love challenge.  But…a challenge is still a challenge! : )   At least I have been feeling ready for it!

So, where does this leave me now that I am beginning to accept myself as I am?  Me… this person who sometimes (even still!)  is too scared to let out a whole sentence without dodging my eyes  when face-to-face.  (Coincidentally, I think the “eye-dodge” happens a lot less when I’m talking with anyone about anything related to art?  Art creates an open door where inhibitions and shame can find a way out of the room…like a nasty fly maybe that has found there is no longer anything good to feed on?  But who knows, I came to this during proof-reading so I’ll have to think on this some more.)

I guess it leaves me working (and a person with a job these days is considered pretty well off)  and aware of some of the most minute aspects of interaction and living.  Maybe this sensitivity is part of what draws me to nature and the “little things” that fill up  so much of the working world.

So why am I writing about this here?

Because it’s part of my journey (a pretty big part, I guess,) and because sharing with, in and through this blog has become a big-enough part of my life that I think of it often…daily.  Many times a day.   I’m a person that hasn’t had access to my true voice for the majority of my life.    I cry at every choir performance my teenage daughter participates in because I cannot imagine a more beautiful thing than to create through the exchange of real breath.  And to hear and see my daughter’s voice leaves me with nothing but hopeful, happy tears for her and the next generation.

This reminds me of how, from the time my daughter was a preschooler, we would bolt out songs together when we were driving together in the car.  It was our happy place.

Ah, happy places.

How do our happy places slip away?

There are new “happy places.” Life changes, people transition and/or transform.  Things happen.  But sometimes, and I’ll only say this quietly, a sad place fills the void where once a happy place lived….and sang.

***

I started out writing this today not having any idea what I was talking about here…or why.  But I’ve been away from my blog for a while.  Not in my heart or life, of course,  but in showing  my words.

I usually like to be inspired by an image before I sit down to write a post…but today things (so far) have been different.  I have so many images that I have made and collected over the last couple of weeks.  So many things could have started me off.  But today I decided to just accept that I needed and wanted to write.  And I didn’t have to have a plan or a goal.  I came just wanting to say what was going to be said.  Do you ever feel like something is just -there- and you’re not in control of it?  Like, truly, all that it needs is acceptance for it to show itself to the rest of the world (or you)?

I guess I maybe feel this is the heart of art.   Acceptance.  (But also trust and faith with a fair dose of willingness. )

I realized as I was writing about my daughter and our happy place that I do actually have an image to share and put with this post.

It’s my latest painting…the one I alluded to the last time I wrote.  It’s still not finished….but I’m not finished either and I’m still here!  So I figure it’s ok to share…this is about the journey.

And a bit about the intuitive painting process: In the last month I finished up my first ever painting e-course with Flora Bowley (called “Bloom True,” no less ) who is not only an amazing artist but a very real, beautiful and inspiring woman.  I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to take her course as she shines an extremely bright light.  It was so effortless (but still personally emotionally challenging at times…re: self-acceptance) to learn about her process and begin to carry with me some of the priceless tools she shared.  (And she’s offering her e-course again, so if you’re interested in growing yourself (blooming?) I cannot recommend her class enough.)

Base layers, playing with color and mark making

Building up more layers...I was having a blast doing "graffiti" without the pressure of breaking any enforceable laws

Having a blast doing “graffiti” without the pressure of breaking any enforceable laws

up close "graffiti"

Graffiti face

Inspired by my deer encounter a couple of posts ago!

close-up

very contorted hind legs

staying with it

hm, is that a flower? lol

A gentle and rather kind art critic in the studio

adding and subtracting, the only math I can do!

Another shot for Sammy…he always accepts me and my paintings 😉

change

new addition

darkness comes

more darkness

This is the last photo I have of this particular painting in process…I have worked some more on it and it is still transforming.  I am not sure where it will end up, but I am working on accepting it regardless of whatever happens.  I feel like I have learned so much through this one painting and have experienced several ups and downs with it.  But it has been a different process from the process with my “flower painting” I shared a few weeks ago!

I’m hesitant to say too much about the content and emotional aspects of this painting since it’s not completed yet.  Maybe when it is done.  For now I’m on this journey facing the challenges as they come!  And really, quite loving it when I stand back and look around me!

….And speaking of looking around me (which always leads me to looking within) is what I will be doing over the next week while I am on a long over-due (and somewhat impromptu)  nature vacation!  I anticipate a lot of iPhoneography going on, which reminds me!  I need to run and find a car charger for my phone and it’s nearly 5pm!  I’ll be watching the sun rise as I near the sky tomorrow morning bright and early so I better get a jump on it if I don’t want my anticipation to fall fast and hard!

I have to scoot, but I will return…so much more to share!

Thanks for listening (and watching!)  (and accepting! yikes!) 🙂

Edit:

I know it’s late, and I know it’s silly of me to think I will actually be in bed sleeping before it’s time to wake up again for a day of travel with my husband and 13 month old daughter….

BUT…

I did go get that car charger for my iPhone and the funniest thing happened when I returned.  There in my yard laid (and she really was laying down!) a doe…along with at least two of her babies.  She got up quickly, but I’m a pretty quick draw when it comes to snapping a photo so I grabbed my phone and went for it…I couldn’t wait to share this.

Even with Instagram crashing on me (twice!) I got these shots to share….

Funny how life is…how acceptance is…and how things (and in this case, some deer) sometimes appear at just the right time.

For what it’s worth this is the first time I’ve seen this doe with her babies here.  And these are the first fawns I have seen for myself all year…

 

doe and her fawns in our yard tonight 🙂

 

mom and babies in our yard tonight after coming home from errands (after writing this post)

 

 

So, I’m off for now! Vacation will be here before I know it!  (As relaxing as travelling with a 13-month old can be anyway!)

I’d like to bring you along.   I’m going to be on the lookout for a lot of light…and I’m open to what the “open road” will have to share with me.  I’m hoping for sunshine, but I never know what this journey has in store for me.  At the very least it’s always an adventure.

So maybe I’ll make this like a mini documentary within the living documentary of this blog as it is.  Maybe I’ll be a photo journalist on the sly…or maybe not so sly!  Who knows, maybe I’ll meet a new friend…or a wild bear…I’ll ask to pose with for a photo.  I’m deathly terrified of bears and the place where I’ll be is known for having them!  I’m going to let it be a surprise for now where I report from next….

But until then…sweet dreams!

 

Off for the Main Trail…