Turning A Frown into a Smile

I’m back on track…this is actually the post for day seven of Feast for the Soul.  If you’re traveling with me on this journey, you’ll know I painted on my meditation piece yesterday altering my usual routine.  What I didn’t mention in the post was my derailment went beyond the routine.  The derailment happened in the design of what I was creating.

I had an idea, an actual design plan for this piece.  I went to the basement to begin painting and after I applied the first layer, I got stopped in my tracks.  The outcome, somewhat unpredictable, didn’t match the idea in my head.  I finished painting, let it dry, and brought it back to my studio.  A big sigh…I didn’t like it.  The printing seemed a bit off.  I didn’t get the definition in the stamping I had planned.  Alas, I can’t control everything.  Talk about bursting my own bubble!!

graphing paper
Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Once again, I came to the fork in the road.  Should I discard the piece and start from scratch, or forge ahead and make the best of an unplanned situation?  I decided to continue working on the piece because it’s about the process, not the product.

I began my ritual, lighting my candle, starting the music and threading the needle.  I began mark making with the thread and all of a suddenly I felt lighter.  I was in the midst of a happy accident.  What I thought was a mistake and a hindrance had become a unique design element I couldn’t have planned if I tried.

I felt my spirits lift, and my momentum increase as I progressed through my meditation.  The deeper I entered my meditative state, the lighter I felt, and the piece has begun taking on a life of its own.  It is guiding me in the design process teaching me as I stitch along.

I left my studio this morning feeling lighter.  I felt a renewed sense of openness.  I experienced a letting go allowing me to loosen my grip on my own life.  Not bad for a day’s meditation!!

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POV

There are many influences in our lives. If you look at how you get your news, what inspires you, what angers you, and what challenges you, you’ll have a clue about what creates your point-of-view. One of the things I’ve been pondering given the state-of-the-world is how permeable is my being. What in the world gets through to my emotional and spiritual self?

There are a number of things that stay ever present for me. I read the posts of people I grew up with and see their Facebook posts and wonder how people who grew up with similar economic backgrounds, cultural and education backgrounds, and geographic influences can grow up to be so diverse. Life experiences once we left our protected hometown influences us and I’m amazed at the diversity that has emerged over the years.

If you watch any talent related, in particular singing, reality shows, you’ll know how important point-of-view is to becoming a success. The agents and producers are looking for what makes each potential “star” unique. The real world is a bit different because inherently we’re all unique. Nature and nurture have permeated our being and paved the road for who we become.

I was watching a broadcast the other day and the moderator encouraged, maybe even challenged each viewer to find someone with an opposing world view and have a conversation. He specifically focused on the word conversation because too often it’s a debate. The goal is to allow differing points-of-view to enter the circle. Given the current political and social climate in the United States that’s a difficult task.

It’s not uncommon for me to go from zero to sixty in my emotional life as I respond (notice I said respond) to a news report or interview. The good thing is that energy moves me to action. The bad thing is that it becomes a reflex and perhaps I should be looking for more constructive ways to resolve issues. I’m not saying opponents to my point-of-view would be willing, evidenced by my congressman’s tweets last night, but when does dialogue enter the picture?

I believe this is why supporting the arts is imperative to the health of our civilization. I don’t have to be antagonistic when I’m representing myself creatively. In the studio, I’m able to release the energy, state my message, and not be invisible. As artists we can give voice to those who feel invisible.

We’re in trying times and having a point-of-view should be cherished. When you scrape away all the crap, the least common denominator is the desire for us to be safe, healthy, and happy. The question is how do we keep returning to the least common denominator and move forward? What will you’re point-of-view add to the conversation?

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 38 Perspective

I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective over the past week; mainly as it pertains to a quilt I’ve been designing. I’ve been looking at color and proportion, seeing if it all works. On the other hand, I’ve also been thinking about gaining perspective as it relates to world/national events.

Is it possible to have perspective if you are entrenched in a particular point-of-view? How do we uproot ourselves enough to allow perspective to be a player in our worldview? Have you thought about why perspective is important?

I was watching a terrific documentary Get the Picture about photo editor John G Morris. He quotes Robert Capa, an amazing photojournalist who said, “If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” I thought this was an interesting quote because he’s talking about perspective. In his case, he is commenting on the impact and newsworthiness of a photo.

Have you ever had someone recommend that you step back and gain some perspective? I have, and I can tell you that statement usually angers me because I feel as if my point-of-view is being negated. I’d much rather someone offers a counter theory/account/knowledge so I can derive my own conclusions.

It’s clear that in the world of politics and religion, perspective is always on the frontlines. It is often the battlefield because we begin to argue dogma instead of personal beliefs, towing the “party” line. Whatever happened to independent thought? Why are we so willing to fall into a trench without critical thinking being part of the equation?

Perspective is something that goes beyond art. It’s something that impacts how we related to one another. Perspective can be our best friend if we allow it to play a part in the equation of our lives!

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 37 Learning

I like school! My mother always promised me that if she won the lottery, I could go to school for the rest of my life. She hasn’t won the lottery, but I’ve done my fair share of school. I enjoy being challenged. I thrive on building a community of like-minded people. I’m hooked on expanding my treasure chest of knowledge.

The interesting thing about learning is it doesn’t have to be done in a formal setting. I was talking to Jeanne, the owner of the local quilt shop where I’ve taught. The last class I was going to teach didn’t have enough enrollments so the class was cancelled. I asked her why she thought the number of people taking classes had declined. She said that with the huge explosion of YouTube, fewer people were leaving their homes when they can find the information online.

I hadn’t thought about the use of YouTube for learning techniques, or hearing interviews, but sure enough, there’s so much information out there it would make your head spin.

The library is another treasure trove for knowledge. In the town where I live they built a new library. It’s an amazing building and has lots of features beyond just books. I asked the librarian if people were using the library. She informed me that since the new library has opened, they’ve seen a 60% increase in library card registrations.

My most recent method of learning has been documentaries. I’ve watched more than fifteen documentaries on art, artists, and fashion over the last couple of weeks. I find watching a documentary with a creative bent inspires me to get to the studio and create my own work. These stories blaze trails and open my eyes to what’s possible in telling my own story.

I guess what I’m saying is there’s more than one-way to learn. The world is full of opportunities beyond the classroom to learn and explore. Lifelong learning is important because it keeps us current. It makes us more interesting and research has shown the lifelong learning can decrease the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Go take a class. Learn an instrument or a foreign language. Explore the many avenues available to expand your mind.

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 35 Searching

Ever lose your keys or your phone and you begin a mad search to find the lost objects? You experience a sense of panic and hysteria as you feel like a fool for misplacing these everyday items. When you do find the objects you laugh because you try and figure out how they got there in the first place, at times it’s obvious and others it’s like doing accident recreation like the insurance companies.

There’s another type of search, that’s one of an internal process. The one where you have a gnawing question that has plagued you for a while and you keep returning to the question. I found this to be the case while I was in therapy (I guess that’s why I stayed so long) and has continued throughout my meditation process.

I’ve been fortunate to go to grad school twice. The first was to get my degree in clinical counseling. This set me in motion to become a psychotherapist where I would help clients search for answers or at least revise the questions. It was an experience we co-created. The other degree is in Visual Anthropology. I’m hooked on narrative, and I explore how we create stories based on our life experiences.

I was fortunate to study with the Jean Houston. The course revolved around the story of The Odyssey. It was her interpretation of the work first brought to consciousness by Joseph Campbell. Her class focused on the inward journey, the quest and what we’re willing to do to find answers, and the perils we experience on that quest.

This year’s meditation has brought up a lot of questions for me. As we approach the end I’ve been thinking about the next steps of the journey. Unlike past years, this year’s meditation has been more provocative. It has challenged me to stay on track. It has encouraged me to use my creative voice to seek, to play, to grow. I like the idea of searching because it’s the equivalent of the Universe holding a carrot out in front of me as a lure.

The Universe is luring me toward deepening my commitment to my inner life. It is luring me toward a pilgrimage of self-expression, providing me with clarity. It is luring me toward creating a community of compassion.

I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but the search process is in full swing! Stay tuned!

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 33 Focus

It’s said that focus is important for achieving your goals. Thinking about focus was a result of working in the studio. I’ve been working on a few pieces. Two are based on motifs I’ve been working on since the beginning of the Winter Feast for the Soul, and the other is an experimental piece.

Focus refers to attention. When I think of focus it brings images of a camera. I want things in focus because it gives definition to the subject. It gives parameters to what I’m viewing. When I focus I feel dedicated to my process. The interesting thing is focus makes things clear, but often my work is messy.

I remember attending an artist talk years ago at Plus Gallery. The artwork was abstract in a sense. There were some aspects that looked like it had some realistic roots, but it was as if Vaseline had been smeared on the lens.

The artist began talking about her inspiration and her process. A member of the audience asked about this particular show and her response cleared up the mystery. She explained that many days during the week she rides the bus. She would spend hours riding the bus with sketchbook in hand she sketched. The paintings were her vision of the road as she’s passing the sites while riding the bus.

I liked her explanation because it played with the concept of blurry focus. What I was thinking about today in the studio was that focus can be whatever I want it to be because it’s centered on what I’m open and present to at that time. The meditation allowed me to view focus about the experience than an exact definition.

My meditation is about focus. It allows me to focus on my breathing. It allows me to focus on my devotion to my art. It allows me to focus on creativity and storytelling. I’m thinking I’d like to meditate on being out-of-focus and see what surfaces. If I spend a meditation session on that experience I’ll let you in on my insights.

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 31 Risk

Yesterday I spoke a bit about risk when I shared my experience moving cross-country without knowing anyone, having a job, or a place to live. What I didn’t share was that I moved cross-country to attend graduate school. I took a lifestyle risk for a dream. I risked the comfort of my friends and family on the east coast so I could pursue my goal.

It’s interesting that risk is often meant that the stakes are high. I think of “risky” behavior, risk assessment, managed risk (which to me is an oxymoron). I went back to working on a piece that is very different than cutting out small motifs; it entails painting on the fabric before a stitch was ever entered into the equation. Its bright colors are in my wheelhouse, but the techniques I’m using were a “risk”.

Discussing risk refers to doing something out of the ordinary.   Fortunately, I don’t have to finish the piece if I don’t like it, I can simply call it an experiment. The risk is about stretching my consciousness. It’s about doing something that is unexpected, for me. It’s an opportunity to say something different. In some ways, what I think I’m saying is, the risk is being more vulnerable. The risk is showing my “true colors” and in many instances for all of us that’s a huge risk/gamble.

When I’m in the studio meditating, it’s safe and secure. The most dangerous thing in the studio is my rotary cutter (an accident waiting to happen, that’s a story for another time) and my own thoughts. Do I put myself at risk being alone with my own thoughts?

I’ve had my share with depressive moments. Over the years my art has allowed me to risk above the darkness. The risk of being alone with my thoughts can be scary at times and often filled with darkness. I believe that’s why meditating on these questions in my studio is imperative because it’s filled with light, both figuratively and literally.

Don’t underestimate risk! Risk along the journey is a catalyst for expanding my consciousness. It’s the kick-in-the-pants that lead me to the next question. You won’t see me jumping out of an airplane anytime soon, but delving down the rabbit hole seeking answers is a risk that I’m willing to explore.