Stand back! Take a good luck at what’s in front of you, what do you see? I don’t mean just what do you see visually, but what do you observe. When we observe we use multiple senses to develop the story of our experience. We weave cues from each of our senses to create a story that is truthful and authentic to our experience.
In turn, following our observations, we often use avenues of self-expression to share our experience. If you look back at various blog posts I’ve written over the years I always refer to artists as cultural anthropologists and the truth keepers. When we express our opinions, share our experiences, and thus contribute to humanity our lives become richer and the quilt of our culture becomes more defined.
I was watching the Grammy Awards last night and Jennifer Lopez started with the following quote from Toni Morrison, “There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” I’ve been thinking a lot about healing civilization because so much of our current experiences are rooted in anger and fear.
The power of observation gives power to our voices. It makes our existence necessary. I feel aligned when I’m observing. I catch subtle nuances of behavior, action, and intention. To some, it may seem that observing is passive, when in fact it’s quite active. It’s active because there is a cause and effect relationship. We observe and then we need to do something with those observations. I tend to bring my observations to my meditation and allow them to bloom.
I use my observations as inspiration for my art. Observation is a catalyst for my voice. It allows me to get clear because I’m rooted in my observations. I take my observations and give them the space they need to speak their own language. My observations have a life of their own and they take me on a journey. I convert the journey initiated by my observations and give them voice in my art.
What have you observed most recently? Where does it sit in your body, your mind, and your soul? Do you think it’s a powerful tool?
I love when a word can be different parts of speech. I started to think about wonder while watching a documentary called See: An Art Road Trip. The film documents the travels of a couple that are both artists as they traverse the United States. The scenery was mesmerizing.
They were discussing the wonder of nature as they were exploring the highways and byways of the country. If I were to free-associate this would lead me to the Seven Wonders of the World. The next association is the holiday song, “I wonder as I wander”. I could probably continue doing these associations but let’s leave it and move on.
So wonder can be both a noun and verb. The artists were discussing wonder as noun, but as a verb it leads me to exploration. The act of wondering is special because it takes me to amazing places in my imagination. Wondering is magical. It leads me to new and exciting places. It incites possibility.
The wonder of wondering is miraculous. It feeds our soul. It nourishes motivation, creativity, and perseverance. Having the capacity to wonder is a gift. There is a trick to the gift; you have to use it. Wonder is not something you can put on a shelf and expect great things to happen. It is a catalyst for questions large and small.
Watching the documentary took me on a journey both literally and figuratively. The documentary took a turn when Bo Bartlett had a medical issue that shadowed the wonder of the scenery. It made him wonder about what would be next for him as a person, a husband, and as an artist.
Wonder transports me to places beyond my earthly station. It projects me into the past and the future. It allows me to create new worlds, or explore more deeply my inner most being. When I wonder I’m actively participating in my life.
Last but not least is the wonder of meditation. Having this dedicated time to explore is the real gift!
Yesterday I wrote about auditioning components for the quilt I’m making as my forty-day meditation. I set the piece up and took pictures so that before I affix the pieces to the background I can make any necessary adjustments and have a reference guide for the design.
As I was looking at the pieces that remain I thought about my initial design (that was in my head) for the meditation quilt. It got me thinking about, what if that’s the next phase? What if the story has more to tell? What was possibly a single piece became a series or at least a diptych. Of course the next question is do I use the same components or utilize the same design concept and create a piece that stands on its own. This can only mean one thing, a trip to the quilt shop.
Off I went to the quilt shop in search of either confirmation or inspiration. As I wandered around the store my vision became clearer; it was to be similar in color but individual in its design. While meditating I wondered about other areas of my life where the next phase was emerging.
Over the course of the last week I decided to put my work out on social media. I snapped a photo of the back of one of my quilts and posted it with the caption, “Sometimes the back can be just as beautiful as the front”. I received feedback from over 160 people. This cemented in my mind the next phase is sharing more of my work both in progress and completed.
Thinking about the “next phase” idea, it got me thinking about work. I started collecting morsels of information that I can use as I prepare to rework my website. It has allowed me to solidify goals and my message. It is leading me down a path that will give me the motivation to share my ideas with the Universe.
I’m always excited to begin work on a new piece of art, but keeping the “next phase” concept as a beacon serves as encouragement for what can be. It helps me articulate more clearly what I want to share, how I want to share it, and the steps I need to get there.
What’s your next phase?
If you know me you know that I can be a bit impulsive. If you combine that with my tendency toward being stubborn you’d begin to get a clearer picture of who I am. There are times that I’m overly sure of myself and that puts me in a funny position because it forces me to hold my ground even if in private I may have doubts.
I’ve been working on my meditation quilt for the past sixteen days as I’ve discussed in previous posts. Since I began I had an idea about how the quilt would look and what I needed to do to get there. Tonight I felt I had enough pieces to begin transitioning from cutting to planning the layout. I looked at the blank canvas before me, a piece of red on red print, and picked up the a couple of pieces when I stopped and took a step back. I stopped because what I had before me didn’t look or feel like my vision.
Changing course for me is not always easy, but I decided this was the moment to take the leap. I picked up other pieces and began to lay out the quilt top. Once I started it seemed to flow. The placement of one set of pieces flowed to the next phase of the design. I found that auditioning pieces was working with bot the design of the piece and being in alignment body, mind, and soul.
It got me thinking about other times in my life when I should be auditioning components of my experiences. How many times throughout the day would auditioning options give me freedom or make decision making more in line with my beliefs and values? Expanding options would provide me with an ease I haven’t been able to experience often.
Giving myself the gift of auditioning will make my artwork grow. It will keep me thinking that big question, “What if?” I like the idea of living in the “What if” world. I believe it will increase flow in all areas of my life.
What would you like to audition in your life?
I’m committed. Fortunately I’m committed but I haven’t been committed (in the locked up sense). I’m committed to staying on a path. I’m committed to looking at myself on a regular basis, taking an inventory of my character and my actions. I’m committed to serving my community.
As usual I didn’t know what I was going to ponder during my meditation, but what came flowing through me today was my quilting practice. I’ve been a quilter since 1992. It actually started in college when a friend said she was sewing nine path pillows and did I want to learn. I started and made a few pillows. At that point there was something about sewing (by hand) that made me want to explore quilting. It was dormant for a time and then I saw a ten-week program on PBS and my desire to quilt was reignited.
I took a class, and bought a sewing machine. Today I have closets of fabric, a cabinet of thread, and five sewing machines. I watch videos, scour books on textile art, belong to an art quilt guild, and have studied with a teacher for many years. Quilting/art is my pilgrimage.
I’ve found that my commitment to quilting gives me peace of mind. The act of sewing, stitching, and embellishing textiles provides a creative space that allows me to express myself at the most authentic level possible. Using my creative energy is better as mood altering and consciousness expanding as therapy (for the most part).
What surprises me the most is the length of time I’ve been engaged in creating quilts. The idea of taking small pieces of textiles and putting them together to make something that is unified amazes me. Engaging in a practice where there will always be room to grow and improve challenges me. Being a part of a creative community allows me to feel connected. Having a practice that serves to share my voice with the world is invigorating.
I’m blessed to have found something that gives me joy, makes me feel alive, and I can share with the world. Being committed to this path gives me something to lean on during the good times and bad. It provides me with a place to retreat and regroup or to put forth in the world as my act of participation in humanity.
If you find something that draws you in and won’t let go don’t ignore it, commit to it!
I’m not a handy person in any way, shape, or form. I’m even cautioned when cooking after sharpening the knives because I’m a bit clumsy; so I keep a box of band-aids close to my cutting board. Tools, at least in the conventional sense of the word are related to things you build with and that’s important to keep in mind because whatever your building it doesn’t just appear, there’s a process.
The process you engage in to create isn’t always methodical or planned, but foundations are important upon which you will build your structure. In my world, having a foundation in traditional quilting was the beginning of my evolution to art quilts. I needed to learn the basics in order to grow and become more daring because in the end I had something I could always return to, like a base camp for those climbing huge mountains like Kilimanjaro.
I began thinking about tools today because the pair of scissors I’m using for the first phase of my mediation art is a pair of cheap craft scissors. If I were cutting a piece of paper in half of a couple of shapes it would be sufficient, but I’m cutting forty minutes a day around some small curves. I’m ill equipped for the process and that creates a bit of struggle, self-imposed of course. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the first thing I’m doing tomorrow is buying a good pair of scissors.
This idea of having the correct tools can be your greatest friend or your greatest enemy. I’m in the midst of recreating one of my websites and I’m storyboarding the various aspects of the community I hope to build. My toolbox consists (over the past few weeks) of listening to Jane Pauley’s audio book, “Your Life Calling”. It discusses ideas for the next phase of life for those in transition. I’ve also been listening to various podcasts because I always learn the most when I hear people’s stories. It humanizes the process and allows me to see how those stories parallel the stories and lessons I need to learn, or can share.
I’m collecting bits and pieces for my toolbox so I have choices. I believe that having options allows my creative process to bloom. It allows me to try new things and those that work I can expand and those that don’t I can discard. Who knows as my toolbox begins to fill, it may come to the point that I graduate to a tool shed. I guess I can put that on my aspiration list. I’ll keep you in the loop and let you know how things progress.
There are times when a tedious activity can be relaxing. I’m in the preparation phase of the meditation piece and it’s all about cutting out shapes. It’s not super creative, but it’s a necessary step in the process and I’m all about process. Taking the time to get all my ducks in a row will make the next phase easier and move me forward on my journey. The other good thing about work that is repetitive is that there’s no problem solving or decisions that need to be made; I just have to do the legwork.
Another benefit of repetitive actions is the space it creates in my heart and mind. I’m free to allow thoughts and ideas to enter and leave at will and that makes the daily meditation truly a go with the flow endeavor. I’m free to wander or as I like to say it allows me to “follow the energy”.
Today’s meditation focused on people both past and present. I learned that the mother of a friend of mine from college had died right before Christmas so I made a call to connect and offer my condolences. Last night was a meeting of Front Range Contemporary Quilters, an art quilt guild I’ve belonged to for twelve years. At the meeting I had the opportunity to connect with those I haven’t seen in a while. It’s definitely an ebb and flow of people and energy as those I haven’t been in touch with are entering my sphere like a wave crashing on my shores.
Like the repetitive actions of cutting the fabric, today’s legwork, it’s time to do the legwork with maintaining and further developing my connections. There’s a place of comfort and support from those who are and have been a part of my life.
I have two favorite movies, “Same Time Next Year” and “The Color Purple”. At the end of “Same Time Next Year” Alan Alda’s character asks Ellen Burstyn’s character to marry him, but she’s already married. He encourages her to leave him and her response is, with her husband she shares all the same memories from a twenty plus year marriage. It’s those memories shared with others that serve as the palette of our lives. They are the times and experiences that have colored and shaped our lives. These are the connections that provided the building blocks for our identity.
So today I have started doing the legwork on the connection portion of this program. Who knows what I’ll encounter but every day that I do the legwork is work the energy whether or not it reaps any rewards. The reward is the legwork and keeping me moving forward no matter the destination.