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My Art Therapy Journey

Posts tagged growing

Sometimes I get tired and seeking solace isn’t very solacing.  To expect is to work.  But still, I find myself doing it, even, or especially, in the hours of greatest exhaustion. Tiredness leads to forgetfulness.  And I don’t know what forgetfulness leads to…because I forget.

 

Growing is also work, but it is usually supposedly good for you.  Growing pains.  Is there anyone that doesn’t know about those?

 

I rise and fall.  I grow and seek solace.

 

My heart has a full ache and I try to fill it with more.

 

 

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For my Ceramics 2 class this semester I intentionally signed up for the section taught by an instructor who focuses a lot on figurative sculpture.  I want to explore and express the immediacy of what is going on in my life, but I am scared of it.  Our first assignment has a completely open ending.  I guess just writing that and seeing “open ending” gives me a place to start from.   Yesterday, in class, I was feeling blocked.  After many days of feeling full of inspiration class finally started and I couldn’t move.

Terror.

The assignment is meant as a warm-up exercise and I was dead cold.

 

 

 

Instead of starting on my real assignment I spent some time learning to use the clay extruder.  I think it’s going to make my ceramics life a lot better.  It will help in saving my hands and wrists and might be a significant addition to my toolbox.

Discovering there was this extruder in the school studio the entire last semester of Ceramics 1, but never being informed of it or taught how to use it is a little perplexing, if not a bit irritating.  But…at the same time I’m glad I didn’t know about it.  I learned things the “hard” way.   I learned how to do everything through hard work and determination and it got me more intimate with my clay.

It feels like life is that way sometimes.  Doing things the hard way through blood, sweat and tears and then someone tells you about something that gives you the same result with, essentially, the flip of a switch.

I mean, seeing this extruder machine in the studio is an extremely concrete “in reality” sort of thing.  I can see that it’s a lot easier to make coils or forms using this machine than it is to roll out coils tediously by hand.  But what if someone tells me an easier way to do something I can’t see or touch?

I have to admit, I even looked at that extruder with skepticism.  I didn’t want to deal with the anxiety of learning how to use it and, at first, I viewed it as a sort of “cheat.”  After all, shouldn’t everything be extremely difficult in life?

This seems to be one of my switched wires in my brain.  Why do I go around thinking nothing is worthwhile unless it is painful and difficult?

What if I can go about putting my creative ideas into reality through simpler means and enjoy the entire process?  Is it then, somehow, not as good???

It’s a little crazy, really.

 

I need to get over this idea that enjoyment has to be counter-weighted by misery.

It’s just a LIE.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The counter-weight of misery does NOT make joy any more safe.

 

And this brings me to the topic of Joy.

Joy is extremely risky, dangerous and downright chill-invoking without faith.

I might even believe that without faith there can be no joy at all.

 

This isn’t something I’ve thought about before writing this, but it just sort of dawned on me.

 

It’s all a part of letting-go and getting somewhere.

For me, it’s a part of getting unstuck.  That’s what if feels like.

 

There’s enough aggression and violence in the world without me needing to add to it through the creative process of my life.  Is it really needed?

 

What if I let the clay be soft and didn’t fight working with a clay that’s not workable yet?  What if I took the steps to help the clay work for me and not power through by sheer force that is only going to break me and not lead to the greatest creative outcome anyway?

 

It’s back to breathing.  Letting go, letting things be ok.

Accepting help.

Making a beautiful life willing to be made.

 

I have come to this acceptance the hard way and I wonder what miracles are ahead.

What other amazing machine I didn’t know about before hangs right in front of me on the walls of the studio awaiting discovery?

 

 

+ 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!

This evening I came to a crossroads.  I was at Old Navy trying to use up a coupon set to expire today.  The intersection between me and me was in the changing room.

I will try to explain:

The summer stuff is on clearance, so I decided to try on some $5 shorts to preemptively save some money and beat the rush for next summer.  (Or maybe I decided to try them on as a plea to the weather for it to stay warm a lot longer than September usually allows around here. )

Anyway, I was standing there.  Having tried on the shorts and seeing that they fit me, the debate began.  The “What now!?” debate. Should I buy them?

I’m always much more relieved when things actually don’t fit so I don’t have to go through the list of scenarios that might arise if I do buy something vs. if I don’t buy something.  I walk tall out of the changing room because I’ve escaped (or won?) the battle once again.  But not tonight.

Tonight started up the “Will I regret this later?” thing.  The “What’s the return policy?” thing and the “Can I  justify this purchase to my husband?” thing. ( There are these questions among others….I’m the person occupying a changing room concerningly motionless for at least 30 minutes, lost in debate, before facing the world again.)

So, shortly before closing tonight at an Old Navy store in Midwest USA it dawned on me…the acceptance between me and me.  The understanding is this: I have no idea what size I will be by next summer, and more importantly than even that… I have no idea who I will BE by next summer.

I stood there looking at these shorts…shorts that I would wear today.  I looked at my hair…the color, style, length so suburbanish.  I looked at my body…a body that’s begged to be covered in far more tattoos.  I looked inside me…changing.  But changing into what…into WHO?!

I was standing there in the changing room actually changing before my eyes!

I realized my need to live and be present in the moment, and maybe it’s something that I’m acquiring now that won’t change about me later.  Maybe it’s the beginning of becoming who I am…who I am meant to be!

My size has changed in the last quarter of a year so that a lot of my clothes don’t fit me anymore.  I’ve always been a jeans and t-shirt sort of girl, but now that I’m faced with needing to pick a few things up I’m finding myself drawn to wanting a more definitive style.  A style that says…”This is ME.”  Recognizable.   One with personality.

And I’ve thought, “Wow, this would be a lot easier if I knew who I was.”  I could go into a store and know what to look for.  I would know my style and go right to it.  I could streamline things and do a way less psychotic seeming mix and match.    Then I think about being 32 and still figuring out this stage most teenagers are in.  I think about being the mother of a teenager myself, now, and I get really freaked out about the state I’m in.

I’m 32 going on 13!

(My teenage daughter is 14.  She’s already ahead of me.)

 

So…I didn’t buy the shorts tonight.  It’s only the beginning of Fall.  Winter is still to come and next summer is a long way off.  (Anyway, didn’t I write a post a while back about my irritation about the 2013 calendars being for sale already?)  I said, “Nice knowing ya,” and gave them back to the woman putting away  clothing people had tried on that didn’t fit…

Sometimes things fit and you’re not sure if you want them to fit…in a life way.

Sometimes you get to choose what you’re going to wear like you get to chose who to be.

I’m in a state of evaluating and making decisions.

The cool thing about this  life is that, at least to some degree, it can be changed. It’s an evolving creation.  A malleable gift.

It feels like this process of finding myself is a gift that got inadvertently pushed under the Christmas tree skirt only to be discovered once the festivities have passed. I feel like I am unwrapping (and being unwrapped) and shaping (and being shaped) all at the same time.  And some kid (me), after thinking she was forgotten and left-out, is finding the experience of life redeemed.

I know this song is about other things, but now it keeps popping in my head now…

 

 

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)

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the weekend my Baby became a Toddler.  She’s still not quite “toddling,” but we’ve made the one-year mark.  It’s exciting and humbling.  It makes me nostalgic for my older daughter who will turn 14 this fall.  Though, it is hard to not be washed in fear.  I look at other families, especially younger ones just starting out with their baby or young children and sometimes my heart wants to stop.  I don’t really know why.  I don’t know if it takes me to the hindsight wisdom I have now about a time when I was so young (a teenager)  and unknowing–when I had no idea what was to come for me as a mother– or if I am feeling vulnerable for them…because they look so innocent.  Parents.  Hearts just right out there in front.

I don’t think I look innocent.

But I’m not really sure what I look like anymore.

I have no idea what life will throw my way. I am  doing my best to be the parent my toddler (with her own unique personality and set of traits, much different from her sister’s)  needs me to be.  I don’t think I look-or feel-innocent, but I so often am scared of not knowing enough.

I am constantly searching myself out, asking, “Have I learned what I need to know from my mistakes?”

It’s scarier to be pretty sure I probably don’t even know all the mistakes I have made yet.

Time is a teller.

Is there any parent out there who can’t look back and see even just one mistake they might have made in raising a child?  If there is, I’m sure that person will come find me here to tell me, lol.  Never fails, huh.  (Falls under the class of “Don’t ask questions you don’t want answers to.”)

Anyway, we survived the first birthday party.  A party my older daughter never received.  (I was a Jehovah’s Witness then.)

I feel like I am always living in alternate universes.  Especially as a married woman and parent now in this new place.  Memories free-flow around and through me.  I live in an ocean of memories and most of them are not very pleasant.  I work hard to make new ones.  Sometimes I think I actually work too hard at that and stress myself out even more.  And then is the memory I worked so hard to make good any good?

But as I was saying, we’ve made it this far.

This year we celebrated with friends…a pretty rockin’ way to get the ball rollin’.  Right?

But my older daughter was with her dad.  So even this birthday is tinged with sadness.  It’s a long story only a mini-series could tell.

I’m going to trust that if I keep living life with light will take care of this for all of us.

I would rather my journey be all smiles.  Smiles are prettier.  Most people are attracted to a smiling face.  I know this is true, but the deeper-me wonders if there’s a chance some people could also possibly be drawn to truth…the whole truth.   And the truth is that I definitely am not always all-smiles.

Who is?

Sometimes it seems like people blogging about their supposed journey are all-smiles.  And maybe some of them actually are?  But I’m guessing sometimes they really aren’t smiling…even when you see them smiling in a pic-of-the-day on their blog.

Or maybe I’m just cranky today.

 

Well, anyway, this isn’t about anyone else’s journey and I’m not trying to criticize how anyone else copes with life.  I’m having a hard time surrendering my smile today because that’s what I want to be there…but what if it’s just not?   I’m just saying that I’ve gotten to a point where I can’t wear the smile all the time, the fake ones in-particular.  (And do the people who only ever shine a smiling face realize how depressed that makes the real people out there feel…because they aren’t always “smiling” like them?  Yes, a smile is always appreciated when genuine and I have no intention of being a Debbie-Downer (my name’s not Debbie, and I have no idea where that term came from so if your name is Debbie it’s nothing directed toward you, super-promise…but gah!  365 Days of Smiles? Well…maybe!  Maybe next year’s blog!!  (Seriously) Anyway, I’m getting off track and cheering myself up on accident, lol.)  Some days are really hard and I feel them as hard.  Ironically, I often feel better when I just acknowledge when maybe a day didn’t go as I had planned or hoped for it to go, which is always good.   I  do generally want to smile.

It’s a hard thing to contend with.  Desires and reality.  Hopes and disappointments.  Growing and acknowledging ample room to grow into maturity.

And maturity, wow…I always wanted to be mature when I was a little girl.  I just always wanted to be done with feeling so small…as in stupid…as in what I thought being emotional was.  I wanted to know things!  I wanted to know them and be them…’them’ meaning…wise.  Foresight.

Here I am…32, often feeling (and being) like such a little girl still, and learning by hindsight.  Maybe I’m old now and maybe I’m not old.  Age is so relative because whoever knows when the end of  life is?  Well, at least I think  it’s unknown when not at their own hand, and even in that scenario there can never be certainties…which on some days is the only thing that has kept me around this strange uncertain, yet certain, sphere of living.

I wasn’t really planning on writing any of this, so I have no idea what my unconscious might have blurted out here that I’m not ready to answer to…or that any of it follows a coherent line.   I was just going to post a couple of  self-portrait Instagram’s I took today of how I was feeling.

I wasn’t really in a “talking mood” when I started out.

I’m still not sure if I really am…?

 

Feelings From Today: The Truth

But I do feel better now! (Smile) 

For real.