Sunday

Reverb10: Wherein I only tangentially reference prompt #19 (Healing)

This should have been posted days ago. I wrote this in my journal the same day the prompt was delivered, and it took me a week to get it typed up. Because things really have been like that lately. This month has all been a blur to me.

And when I say that, I don't actually mean December, I mean the last 6 weeks or so that melded into an endless rush. Even downtime does not slow the feeling of accelerated time. The busiest weeks of the year for me at my dayjob - the second half of November through most of December - what are supposed to be happy, jolly, focused on communities, relationships, the people you love, and giving. And I didn't have enough space to focus on any of that.

All that I could do was swim through the torrent of work. 8 hours a day of extreme multi-tasking. No mind-breaks. Instant transitioning from one problem-solving to the next. My brain on overload, maybe even getting whiplash.

Oh yes, there was giving. Of work delegated to me, on top of the already-insane year-end deadlines. Racing to get everything done. Too much multitasking, too much data, my brain is mush. Just trying to gain a sense of rest, trying to rebalance, during my time off work. Forget about Christmas shopping or sending out holiday cards, everything left to the last minute or crossed off the list entirely. Skip this year - maybe the next. Perhaps at this time next year, I'll be in a different job.... Please, oh please let me not be in the same dysfunctional workspace next holiday season, so that I can actually enjoy it.

So yes. Healing. All my downtime for weeks, just trying to heal from the crazy-busy-ness.

And what I'd like to heal in 2011: Disorganized panic.

Mind-calming techniques. Perhaps meditation, in my own way. Not numbing myself so that I don't have to think about stuff, but working it out.

I can't always work stuff out with words, maybe my mind just doesn't work that way. That's one of the reasons behind my lack of posting during #Reverb10 (other reasons were mentioned before). Writing about stuff not being the way I can heal while I'm under the pressure, that is. Sometimes I just need to work things out in other ways, maybe that is why I'm so drawn to art. Color, form, combining and shifting - all get my mind into another state where answers can work themselves out in my subconscious. At this crazy time of year, with work deadlines, holidays, and my brain in some prolonged panic-attack state, what I've chose to do the last couple of weeks instead of write has been to quilt.

Yeah, you read right. I started making a quilt three weeks ago. Choosing the fabrics, pure delight for my mind. Getting lost in the colors & patterns - meditation.

Cutting the shapes. Arranging them together. Seeing the way colors & patterns & shapes vibrate next to each other - meditation.

Sewing the pieces together. Ironing them back flat. Placing the new larger squares side by side, seeing how the building of shape upon shape creates a whole new piece. The creating, the building, a metaphor. Sometimes, I want to build a whole new everything.

Photo credit: Christmas Lights by WH-B on flickr

Wednesday

Reverb10: Where's The Bounce?


Bounce, get it? When a sound bounces around in echoes (a reverberation)? Because it's been rather quiet around here even though I'm supposed to be writing daily.

I mentioned in my last post, and it's still going on - I'm just not connecting with the prompts for this year's #Reverb10. Maybe it's because the past couple of weeks have been brutally busy at my day job. By the time I get home, I just don't wanna think too much. Maybe it's because last year's introspective prompts were broken up by ones that were lighter & fun, and this year seems to be all instrospection. Not just regular instrospection, but the I could work on this answer for hours kind of introspection.

Not fun.

Which I know is what this challenge should be! Opening up, sharing and reading posts by other Reverbers. But that's not what I'm doing. And my Plan B of posting several responses together is just not working - I've already accumulated too many un-responded-to prompts in my inbox, just sitting there glaring at me (or so it feels). So, what to do?

I don't want to completely give up this challenge. I don't want to respond to prompts that I'm not feeling connection with, or that I don't have the right mindframe to write a decent & thoughtful response to. I don't want to push myself when it's not in me right now. And I don't need to make myself feel guilty about my limits - everyone has limits and they can change daily, these just happen to be the limits I'm currently operating under.

What I can do is post when I can, using a prompt if I feel inclined, or making up my own prompt if that's what I'd rather do. And I can squirrel away the prompts I haven't responded to, hopefully to spur me on for later posts. So I may be Reverbing well into the next year still. And that's ok.

Also, not sure if Reverbers and Reverbing are real words. I may have just made them up. That's ok too!


Photo credit: Jump! by Enid Yu on Flickr

Sunday

Weekend Reverb Rush to Catch Up

Yikes there are 3 days of #reverb10 prompts to catch up on, four if you count tomorrow's (which just landed in my inbox), and I'm not really feeling any of them. Maybe because I'm just feeling rather blah in general this weekend? Anyhow, below is a mad dash to catch up. I feel I might get snarky with these responses.



Day 3 - Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe in vivid detail.

See, now this prompt just makes me feel sad. Because either my memory really sucks that I can't remember a whole lot of moments like that in this past year, or there really haven't been that many. I'm thinking it's the latter. Sure there have been some good times. But that feeling the prompt is referring to? I've felt that truly alive feeling, the one that's different than the normal happy feeling, and it doesn't show up in recent memory.

I think we can all use more moments in our lives where we feel truly alive.

Day 4 - How did you cultivate a sense of wonder this year?

Well, I didn't. Thanks for reminding me.

Isn't this the kind of thing tat you have to intentionally set yourself to achieving? Like, you know, in advance? I'm not gonna lie and apply some bs in retrospect to make it sound like that was something I did. Nope, that's not something I intended to do. Perhaps I may have thought of it, if I wasn't so preoccupied with trying to not let my dreams slip by me for another year.

What I did set my mind to doing this year, was to start sharing and selling my artwork with the world. Which I did. Months later than I'd intended, but I finally did. And honestly it's pretty difficult for me to be proud of myself for actually achieving this rather than berating myself for taking so long.

My take: Everyone is in different place in their lives. Not everyone goes through the same stages in their progression through life. We all have our own paths and struggles.

Day 5: What, or whom, did you let go of this year? Why?

I've tried to let go of my fear of visibility, of letting others see the real me - my hopes and dreams, my artwork, stuff that really means something to me. This is still a work in progress. It's like whittling away the layers of a really thick barrier I've put up. I've thinned the barrier in a couple of places, but I've got a long way to go still.

There are other things I'd love to let go of. My day job, for one! (anyone with me on this one?) My morning dependence on coffee. The extra inches around my middle. The way that I'll push someone away when I feel vulnerable. Some other fears. Again, I'm still a work in progress.

And that's why I'm participating in this writing project, even with the prompts I dislike, because I want that progress. It was tempting not to answer a couple of them. But I've been down that road of not engaging with the things I'd rather not deal with, and I know that doesn't lead to anywhere I want to go.

So, I keep trying.

Photo credit: Rush Hour by Susan Sermoneta (Susan NYC on Flickr)

Thursday

Reverb10: Why lack of time is not the real problem. It's brain fog.

At first I didn't really think today's Reverb prompt was meant for me. "What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing - and can you eliminate it?"  I don't really consider myself to be a writer despite this blog. My reaction was, I'm an artist. What gets in the way of my painting is much more important than the writing. But then I realized that this prompt was from the Zen Habits guy, and since Leo's pretty smart, maybe I should see where this answer would lead me.

Which was here: Brain fog. All the clutter in my brain that makes it hard to think sometimes. Maybe more often than sometimes. That makes me want to not think.

And even though I sometimes feel the brain fog clear when I write, this clarity doesn't happen always, or even half the time. So even though it would be cool to say "the problem and the solution are one and the same!" - no. I don't get off that easily. This is not a closed circuit.

The largest factor in my resistance to writing is my perceived lack of time. Whenever I've tried writing-every-day challenges, it's great at first, and I can feel my load being lightened, however slightly. But, it never lasts. And that is because during the challenge I've put off other things in order to make time for writing. And the putting-things-off is not a long-term solution. And I eventually freak out over the stuff on the back burner. About not getting a million and one things accomplished. About not having unlimited hours in a day.

I know what you're thinking: But you said "brain fog" was the problem, and here you're talking about time.

True, I did say that. And here's why.

What happens when I think there's not enough time, is my brain starts to fog up. Too much of my memory gets taken up by trying to hold in my head little bits & pieces of info about the things I want to get done. Remember! You have to do this! And that! Hurry, so you don't forget! And I can see that clearly not all of this is going to happen in one day. Heck, it might not even happen in one month. And then my brain kind of...freezes. I get stuck. I can't decide what to do first. I can't figure out what actions will have the best immediate effects, or longer lasting effects, or set up the next actions to be more efficient, and which of these things are more important. And so what fills my head is omg, what am I gonna do, this isn't working. And, fog. No clarity. This is not the kind of mental state best suited to creating anything, be it writing, painting, or even cooking dinner. Oh no! Because I can't afford that kind of time when there are all these things to do!

So no, it's not the limited nature of time that is my problem, but in how I react to that limitedness.

Which is by freezing into a big foggy block of stuck.


And this is not limited to writing, it applies to pretty much everything. Which suddenly make so much sense. So, a big thank you to Leo Babauta, the author of today's #reverb10 prompt, for posing a question about one thing that sneakily allows me to find the answer to so many things I've been struggling with.
 
And you know what I think will help to eliminate this? Awareness of what's going on inside my head when I'm like this. It's not going to get me all the way there, but you can't fix a problem until you know it exists. This is something I will need to mull over more. Perhaps with a mug of cocoa.
 
Photo credit: AM Fog by Peter Roome (lakewentworth on Flickr)

Wednesday

Reverb10: One Word

My oh my, what have I gotten myself into? Committed to a daily writing project that already has me stumped, that's what! Narrowing things down has never been my strong suit. Ask my what's my favorite, I'll tell you two or three. Ask me for a top ten list, I'll throw in a few extra for good measure.

Reflecting back on this past year, what one word encompasses my experience? It's certainly been different than I had planned. This was the year I was going to force myself to march toward my dreams, which I rebelled against (naturally) and went back to taking very...slow...baby steps.

But you know what? Those baby steps were progress. Maybe not the rapid progress I wanted, but perhaps I was not yet ready for such large changes. However, I do have the feeling, that the changes I want are closer than they've ever been before. And that they're easier to come to grips with when approached slowly the way I've been doing, so as to not frighten me away. So perhaps this was a good thing. Yes, a very good thing.

So, if I have to narrow it down to just one word, 2010 was incubation. And my hope is that 2011 will be an unfolding.


And with an eye even further down the line, my sincere hope is that 2012 will be fruition. And yes, I just had to throw in something extra!

Photo credit: This lovely photo of a butterfly just emerged from its cocoon, wings still unfurling, is The Future Unfolding by valkrye131 on Flickr

Monday

How to lose a month of time?

Apparently, it's by getting deeply involved in something. Spending massive amounts of free time obsessively reading all you can about how to set up and market an online store (ok, so this is my example, but I'm sure you have all experienced something like this too? Or am I all alone here?)

So, the end of the year is creeping closer & closer and I for one cannot wait for the new year. If only because it means that all the year-end madness at my day job will be over at that point. And also thinking about the plans I made at the beginning of this year, which have taken me so long to get working on, and I'm really wanting to make the next year better.



While writing up this post, I snuck over to Gwen Bell's blog to see if she's doing another year-in-review meme like last year (you can see all my #best09 posts here), and YES of course she is doing it again, but in a much bigger way this year! This time it's called Reverb10, it starts this Wednesday (Dec 1), and looks to be awesome. I just signed up & will try my hardest to participate every day this time around, even if all I can manage is a little one-liner on some days. We'll see, this is a hard time of year since I'm always exhausted from the j-o-b. But I am very much looking forward to reflecting, reminding myself of the good that came out of the past year, and planting some seeds for next year. Maybe finding some more doorways to walk through in 2011.

So, tell me: Are you looking forward to the rest of the holiday season & the new year to come? Who out there is already planning what their next new year's resolutions will be? And if you're also joining #reverb10, let me know so I can read your posts!

Thursday

I'm on Etsy. And building a newsletter. And facing my fears.

If you’ve read the comments on this post this week, you’ll know that I opened up a store on Etsy recently. Yes, that’s right! I finally did it! To be honest, it’s something I’ve thought of doing ever since I heard of Etsy – oh, for about three or four years now. So this feels like something that I’ve been extremely slow in achieving. I’ve had a lot of excuses for procrastinating. And I think what finally got me over some of the fear surrounding this was realizing that this is not about getting validation or trying to craft my artwork or store in such a way that everyone will find something to like - it's really about finding those few people who will love it.




And you know what? For all the worry, indecisiveness, and doubt, in the end it wasn’t difficult to do at all. And though I’m taking my time with it, and haven’t even really delved into the great community there yet, it feels right. And fun!

So, if I were to offer any advice to someone sitting on the fence rather than taking just one step closer to their dreams, I would say this – Do it! Even if it feels like there's a huge barrier in the way. There's a quote that I wish I could find again, it says something along the lines of  "Those aren't barriers you're seeing - they're gates." It’s like walking through a doorway into a larger room, one filled with more possibilities. Opening my etsy store leaves me standing in a sea of others reaching for similar dreams as mine. I’m still standing way back at the edges of the crowd, and not many people have noticed me there yet, but at least I’m in the room. And that's a lot closer than I was before.
So if you wanna see what I've worked so hard on the last month, you can check out my Etsy store here. If you liked this post at all, it would be an enormous favor to me if you could share it with others (virtual hugs to anyone who does this. Let me know if you do!)  And, if you’d consider signing up for my newsletter, I’m planning to send out my first one by November 15. It will include some pics of my artwork, snapshots from my studio, and a holiday discount on items in my shop! You can sign up on the web form or the little box over to the right.

Friday

San Jose Bike Party

Tonight there is a party of bicycling proportions going on in my town. It's the Ride of the Living Dead, people! I had no idea there was a community group of bicyclers getting together for rides around the city until I heard and saw a parade's-worth of bikes going past my place. So good to see that there are some people actually coming together and doing something as a group around here for a change.


San Jose Bike Party's mission is to "build community through bicycling" - community being something that we seriously lack in this large city. Sure, we have a ton of art & wine festivals in the Bay Area, but most people go for the alcohol, not the art or the cameraderie. As for these bike rides, I'm glad to see we're doin' it better than the other big city around here. Yes, San Francisco, I am talking about you & your Critical Mass rides with a history of violence.

It sounds like all the riders are having fun out there. Maybe the next time they have a Bike Party, I can gather a few of my friends to join in!

Sunday

Changes and a Clarification

You may have noticed that the design of this blog is a little different today! Yep that's right I finally got around to giving it a little makeover today. What do you think? The new header is from one of my paintings, and I'm actually working on something with my art right now that I'm a little scared/excited about. No, it's not quite ready for you yet - but if you sign up for my new email newsletter (over to the right below my little profile), you'll be one of the first to find out when it is! You do want to be one of the first, don't you??

Speaking of scary/exciting things, I read this post on Ittybiz a few days ago and thought I'd give her challenge a whirl. She asked her readers to answer, in her words, "a very scary question: What do you do?" Well guess what Naomi, that is a scary question, even for those who aren't making a living doing with their own business. Maybe particularly for those who'd like to be, but aren't yet. I know I sure as hell would like to be making a living from doing My Work, and I've been stumbling all over myself all year trying to make that happen in a very slow, painful way. Painful, because if there's ever a day when that is my reality, I'd like that day to hurry up please.

Just to clarify, when I say My Work, I'm talking about creativity, artwork, listening to the muse, all that stuff, does that make sense? I am not talking about a job or the work I do while "at work" - what I have been calling my "day job" in my mind for awhile now. And I'm not entirely sure what all it would entail to make a living with my creativity, maybe hopefully something fabulous that I haven't even considered yet. All I can see at this moment is the next logical step, and that is all I can work on right now.

So, yes. What I want to do is to make a living through making art. And my art is not something I've shared all that much with people, and I'm not sure if anyone would even like my art. Which is a very, very scary thing to doubt. Just writing this makes me feel vulnerable, and that's a very uncomfortable feeling. So, I'm trying to write about it here when I can, to get more comfortable with the vulnerability. And perhaps I will write my answers to the rest of Naomi's questions in my next post, as a way to practice that getting-comfortable which I need


Friday

Fall is around the corner and how did time fly by so fast?

Hey there - yes, I'm still around! I've been working on a new series of paintings lately, that I'm excited to show you. Between doing that, making some changes around the house - and going to work and doing some other not-so-happy things - I haven't had time to sit down and write. I have been meaning to though, and have lots to share soon.

For the time being though, I wanted to give you a sneak peak into what's been going on in my little art studio, can you guess what I'm up to? Some of those new paintings I hinted at are here, can you guess which ones they are?



That's all for now, but I'll be back soon. Tell me, what have you been up to lately, during this time of transition into a new season, new school year, etc.?

Saturday

dear ada

Last month I found out that one of my favoritest blogs ever, dear ada, was, sadly, posting it's last post. Sadly for me, that is, since this gem of a blog has been such an inspiration to me over the last few years. It really was my introduction to the world of art-on-the-internet, to this fabulous community that has spread out and has been changing the way artists make their names, reputations and careers, and share their work with others, and also in the way that the average person is now able to be an art lover and follower and instantaneously see works they'd ordinarily not have access to. This was the first time that I realized that the game is changing for artists, and gave me hope with my burgeoning desire to return to art myself, the idea that maybe I didn't have to go back to school to get a degree and toil for years as a starving artist hoping to someday gain gallery reputation, so as to be a "real artist".

The thing that kept me coming back to dear ada, time and again, was the way that Birdie accompanied each post with the sweetest, most genuine and encouraging words for each artist she featured on her blog. For example when she says things like, Hello reason for heart to sing. Hello wonderful art... How can you not love someone who says this!?  She shared wonderful work that really expanded my perception of art. I would often follow links to the artist's gallery pages and marvel at their work for hours. Birdie is moving on to pursue her own art again, the inspiration she shared with the world these past 5 years having inspired herself! I wish Birdie all the luck in the world, and, I will truly miss her. Her goodbye post is sprinkled with pictures of some beautiful artwork that I believe is her own, and not to be missed because it is really lovely.

I just found out that she's decided to keep things going over on tumblr, I'm so glad that she'll still be sharing her discoveries! And the dear ada blog appears to be left up as an archive for the time being, so you can visit if you've missed out on all her goodies through the years.

Here is a roundup of some of my favorite dear ada posts, just a quick roundup because there are so, so many artworks she featured that I absolutely adored!

Ian O'Phelan, whose photo below I cannot stop thinking about, what I wouldn't give to design a textile like this one!


Raymond Saunders, whose portfolio I drooled over for for at least an hour after seeing him on dear ada!


Jennifer Bain and her beautiful monotype collages.

Fiona Watson, who makes the coolest, most interesting, now-why-didn't-I-think-of-that assemblages that she then photographs and posts on flickr.


And finally, because I really just can't help myself, several collage artist whos work I'm all jealous of and wish their work was in my own portfolio: fred free, anna wolf, tods2tods here and here, peter kupas, elad lassry, waterhalo here and here, katy murphy, and silvia cordero vega.

Monday

So many things to do. Not knowing what to do.

Do you know that feeling? Having so many ideas, so many things in progress, so many things nagging at the back of your minds that you need to find time to do someday, a total abundance of things to do. And not being able to pick one? Which one is the best thing to work on now, in this moment? How to choose??? This scenario stops me every time. Makes it hard to step away from the computer to get to work. Makes me want to clean my apartment, which I hate doing, to avoid the choosing. Sometimes even makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning.

Even with an extra day in which to get stuff done. Today, thanks to my back (bad back!), I'm at home and therefore have another day away from the job in which to get my personal stuff done. Do you think I've done anything yet? It's a little after noon and so far all I've done is sleep in really late and catch up on one of my favorite blogs. Oh, and run my little brain around in circles trying to decide what to do with this extra free time. Sometimes it makes me wonder: the workaholic syndrome we seem to have here in the U.S., could it be because people know what to do at their jobs, and by continually rerouting their focus to work they can avoid the things in their personal lives they don't know how to deal with?

Wonderings aside, since that's not really what I came here to say - Yes, there are lots of things I want to work on today. I just can't seem to get to them, and this has been going on for a couple of weekends now. (I'm not counting the weekday evenings, because I'm often so exhausted after the job that I'm completely ineffective in my personal life.) So much I want to do: the new artworks I have ideas for, the works already in progress that I need to finish, the organizational things I want to do to get my act together, the plans for opening an etsy store that I need to work on, the half-drafted blog posts that I haven't finished, all these things that are just vague ideas flitting around in my head that I need to grab onto and get to work on. Like all these things are on one side of the river, and I'm on the other, thinking that it's too difficult to get to the other side (even though I have this suspicion that the way across is quick and so obvious that I can't even see it. It is obvious, isn't it?)

Tuesday

moving forward with each tiny step

Did you happen to read my last post? Yes, the one that I was in such a rush to write that I didn't even give it a title? If not, please read it now... I really did hit that publish button and close the browser window as quickly as I could, my heart racing just a little bit... Learning to take definitive action and not overthink things to death all the time! But in baby steps.


That action-taking is definitely something that I struggle with, that I need to work on actually doing more often. This is, I know, one of the major stumbling blocks I have to getting myself where I want to be.

I tend to work better under a deadline. Not that I like being under a deadline, mind you - I'd rather not have all that stress, my anxiety meter goes off the charts way too quickly to be comfortable working under the gun, so to speak, but I can't deny it's power as a motivator. Nothing like lighting a fire under my ass to actually get me off my procrastinating behind. I should probably look for a better way to motivate myself that's kinder to my nervous system, maybe by using one of Havi's techniques?


In lieu of any self-imposed deadlines, I haven't been painting much lately. Or collaging, at all. Until last week that is, when I was scrambling for a birthday present to give my mom, and I decided 3 days before the day to paint her something! An impossible task? Nearly so, I managed to finish a seascape for her (not in time for the day we celebrated her birthday, but it was in her hands before the actual day). And these pictures are it! Here's the finished piece, a 6 inch x 12 inch acrylic on panel:


I got so into this painting that I didn't want it to be done - so I carried the theme over to a mini-panel, this one is a tiny 3 inch x 3 inch piece. And I have lots of ideas floating around in my head for a series of paintings based on the lines in this one. Time permitting... and a fire to keep me going!

I'm gonna just say it here, I know bloggers are not really supposed to apologize for their lack of posts (because it's boring and nobody cares, etc.), but I am sorry that I've been so sporadic here with my posts, and even with thanking people for their comments, because that is not why I came to start a blog, after all! I wanted to get better at expressing myself, to find other people out here that I could "click" with, share some of my art and my journey trying to become a more creative person, and it's myself that I am really disappointing here.

Is it ok for me to mention how shy I am in real life? Somehow I thought that online would be easier (protection, right? being semi-invisible and all that). Thought for some reason, that I could talk about my issues without showing any vulnerabilities, like "oh here I had this problem, and I solved it, la-dee-da everything is perfect now". And I really didn't want to be pessimistic here as I am way too pessimistic in real life, and would like to change that - partially by being more positive in my writing here. Except, trying to be this way is actually inhibiting me from wanting to write anything at all.

And you know what? I'm really not doing myself or anybody else any good by trying to hide my imperfections and struggles, am I? Hell, I am shy and quirky and have a strange sense of humor sometimes and I should really own that, shouldn't I? Hey, I also get hurt really easily, have plenty of down days and think that the world could be doing a much better job of being the place where we all spend our days. Not sure where my thoughts are going with that, but it's all a part of what's in me. I am a multi-faceted person, just as I know that everybody out there are multi-faceted people, whether they realize it or not, and show it or not.

So tell me something, because I have this idea that despite all the self-help culture out there, it is still really hard for us to be and to show who we really are to everyone we meet. Tell me, do you find this to be true? Do you know anyone who unapologetically owns who they are, all the facets of their selves? Do you own your me-ness? Do you share the best of your best self only with those people you know really well and trust? Or are you, like me, still just learning who you really are and how to be authentic?

This has all been pretty stream-of-conscious for me, maybe all the journaling I've been doing lately is helping me with that. And so I am just going to post this, without really editing it (ok, other than correcting spelling because I hate to misspell), without giving myself the time to reflect or chicken out of saying anything I've typed out here, I'm gonna just hit Publish and be ok with it, imprefections and all....

Saturday

I am a work in progress...

And lately I've been trying a little more to figure myself out. Have you heard of the 21.5.800 project started by Bindu Wiles? I'm not sure but I think it's just ended, in fact I heard of it a few days after it started and I've been doing the yoga and daily writing on my own - not online, not following along with anyone else who's participating. I hear people have been twittering it up, but I've been interested in the heart of it, the personal and internal practice of journaling and being aware of one's own movement.

The writing has been whatever was on my mind when I sat down at the page, so it's helped me work through some stuff and also shown me how much I normally avoid the stuff I need to work through. I wonder how many other people have discovered the same thing about themselves? About a week in, this freewriting was bringing up so much of my stuff that I cried every evening for three days straight - tears that have been held back for awhile because my normal modus operandi when upset is to distract myself so I don't have to think about it. Did you know writing it out when you're upset helps you get through the moment? I didn't, but I'm glad to say I know that now.

Maybe at some point some of the things I've written will be brought here to share with you all. Or perhaps new things I write, since I don't intend to stop. The yoga and writing have been cleansing for body and mind - and there is more work for me to do! But for now I'll leave you with a quote from one of Bindu's best posts from her writing for the project:

Let go. Believe in who you really are. Open up. Expand. Start the new chapter–both at the desk and inside your own mind.

Sunday

Almost-Half-Dozen Paintings

As promised, here are the best of the paintings from my Dozen Artworks Challenge... 


Strangely enough, I thought I'd end up relying on more collage than I did in these pieces. Of course there are plenty of collaged elements represented here in these multi-media works. They each have something glued in them, some are just hidden a lot better than others...


These, my 5 favorites, to me seem to have so much energy - be so lively. Maybe you agree, maybe not? Tell me, what do you think of these pieces? Do they come across as strong or as trying-too-hard? Energetic or overworked? Do you prefer images that have a lot going on, or ones that are calmer and more focused?


Wednesday

What a month and a holiday weekend can do...

The long holiday weekend here in the US is really over, regular life is settling back in along with the rush-hour traffic. Did you have a good weekend? - I hope you did! Mine was a mixture of some good and some bad (but hey, that is life as always, right?)

The Good: Extra time off from work. The day job had a company event on Thursday, so no real working that day, then Friday we only had to work for half the day. Off on Monday for Memorial Day. Always good to have some time off from the j-o-b... Made for what seemed a nice chunk of time away from the work stress :)

The Bad: Allergy season from Hell is still in effect, we're having a bad one here in the Bay Area this year. Eyes are so itchy and sometimes feel like I'm breathing through mud. Like maybe walking through mud too, because it's damn tiring, battling these allergens!

The Good: 5 new paintings now completed that I'm really happy with. Yay! These were part of my Dozen Painting Self-Challenge, and I think that 5 strong pieces out of 12 is a really good ratio (especially considering that 3 are still unfinished, and just might stay that way).

So. I committed to a making a dozen small paintings in a month. How did that turn out?

Well, I spent a little more than a month working on them actually, and as I mentioned before I didn't exaclty finish. But, I did learn a lot, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

The interesting thing about this little challenge / experiment is that it somehow allowed me to try lots of things that I ordinarily wouldn't have, for fear that it wouldn't work out and I'd ruin what I was working on. Counterintuitive perhaps, because you would think - wouldn't you? - that needing a certain number of painting completed would make you try even harder not to mess any up? But, I found that having multiple (and I do mean multiple) pieces in progress at the same time somehow freed me to be more experimental than normal. Because hey, if this one doesn't work out, there are still 4 or 7 others that I'm working on too, so it'll all be ok.

Another thing I discovered is the style that my work is evolving into. For example, I like to have a lot going on in a piece, throughout the canvas, and not have everything in the background fade away to highlight one solitary focal point. I like to give the viewer something to see wherever their eyes may wander across the canvas. I mean, I knew I really wasn't a minimalist at heart, much as I can appreciate that aesthetic, but I was surprised at just how busy I like my compositions to be.

I wanted to share some pictures with you, but the ones I took the other day were blurry. Photography skills definitely need some improvement here! But you can see two of my favorites in my last post. I'll be back in a couple of days with more lessons learned during this last month of painting, and more pictures of these colorful creations!

Monday

A Dozen Artworks Mini-Challenge

I’ve been a little quiet lately – steadying, shoring up my reserves – getting ready to launch myself into the next stage of my artistic endeavors. A couple of weeks ago I issued myself a challenge: to create a dozen paintings in a month. Yes, I fully admit this is not a new concept, several artists have done it and better than I. And this was not about updating the world daily with my progress, this was an internal process of something I needed to do for myself. It was about propelling myself forward, dedicating my time to the practice of painting, creating a body of work and refining my aesthetic.



So this is what I’ve been doing with my time. I started the third week of April - why wait until May 1st, when I can start now?, I thought - so I've got just a short time left to finish. I'm not entirely sure I'll make my own self-imposed deadline, but it's been exciting to try. And I wanted to share with you a few of these small works in progress! These represent my baby-steps to becoming a real, practicing, sometime-in-the-future-selling, artist. Please view them kindly, I’d be honored to know what you think – constructive criticism is welcomed.

Tuesday

3 Views Through a Window: April Showers

Yes it's time for some more views through windows, it's hard to believe another month has gone by already isn't it? This time I've decided to go with a theme ~ you know what they say about April showers bringing May flowers, right? Well just between you and me, I'd be happy if the rain stopped and we just got right to summer. But I'm glad for the mild weather here in the Bay Area, I don't know how people in harsher climates can deal with the cold!

Rain (Early Evening) :

photo by me

~

So since it doesn't really rain that often here, at least not compared to other places, I don't have much to show in the way of rainy-day pictures. But I saw a couple on Flickr that I thought fit the theme quite well. Isn't the view below quite dramatic?

Raining Out by Americanvirus:


photo by Americanvirus

~

And I'm happy to include this beauty, I don't know what it is about photos that capture car mirrors, but they always capture my attention. Especially when they look as good as this. Quick - do you think we can out-drive the rain?

Window to the Rain 

photo by Leonrw

~

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, let's hope that we'll see the last of the rain soon - onward to sunnier days ahead! And lots of flowers to make that rain worth it :-)

Saturday

Computer-Free Weekend Follow-up

It's probably far too late for a follow up on what was supposed to be a weekend experiment two weeks ago, but I'll do so now, finally.... As far as that weekend went, I was quite successful at keeping my wasted time on the internet to a minimum (that's what I was really trying to cut out - not being on the computer itself, but the unfocused, not knowing what to do with myself next, being sidetracked from what I really want to do, kind of time-wasting.) So as to rediscover some kind of balance. Which I think I did, as evidenced by how long it took me to come back to my own little corner of the internet. Not that I want to quit blogging in any way, just that I needed to work out the best ways to spend my time, at this particular time in my life. Which of course, is a continuous work in progress for all of us, right?

I was thinking back the other day to that first 2 or 3 years immediately following my high school graduation. About the way so many things seemed to happen in such a relatively short period of time. And the way it seems to take forever for anything to happen anymore. Or rather, not that things are slow, but time is flying by so fast that not as much has time to happen - does that make sense? I hope you understand what I mean. Sometimes I just want to put time on pause (ok, if I'm truly honest, I want to do that every morning from around, say, the time my alarm clock goes off until I get to work or wherever I'm going that day). What I want is for the time to catch up to what I want to do my life. Which takes considerable prioritizing but also  understanding my own natural rhythms, motivations, how long I can stay focused on a given task, etc. So I've been paying more attention to myself and my patterns lately.

For example I notice that I'm much happier doing a little bit here & a little bit there of one thing, with lots of breaks peppered in to work on other things too, than if I just stick my nose to the grind to bust something out as quickly as possible. Like when it took me an entire weekend instead of just 3 or 4 hours to spring-clean my apartment, but at the same time I started 2 new paintings, got a bunch more practice using photoshop, reorganized my kitchen cupboards, and finally backed up a year's worth of photos to my external drive. Before I would have kept pushing myself to keep going on only one task, past my natural stopping point of ok this is tiring, maybe I should take a quick break, push myself so that by time I was done I had nothing left in me to do anything else that day. And so all those other things I got done? Wouldn't have happened....

Another thing I realized is that I paint more quickly, and get more paint on the canvas in general, when I throw on a dvd while I'm working. But when I don't turn on the tv or radio or any other external stimuli "so that I can really focus", I actually slow down and become overly cautious. Which totally gets in the way of getting any creative work done. Something about the visuals, sounds, and stories being relayed fills up my "creative well" and keeps me going.

So, I'm working on: Not fighting my natural rhythms. Being ok with taking lots of breaks if that means I come back to my original task with more energy. Getting a good stretch of work in before I allow the distractions, but understanding the importance of the "distractions" in terms of re-energizing myself.

And, now that I've gotten a couple hours of computer time in this morning, I'm off to take a break with a workout. Because a break doesn't necessarily mean rest, as I've discovered, it means a change of pace from what you were just doing. And I'm starting to think that's a much healthier way than how I was handling time before.

Friday

The "I'm Too Busy" Syndrome & the Computer-Free Weekend

I read somewhere recently about this syndrome of being "too busy", of how people get themselves caught up in the motions of going through all the things they think they need to do, mindlessly (yes I do mean in the Buddhist sense), and automatically telling people "I'm so busy". That it becomes a sort of cult-like mental pattern wherein the "too busy" person actually believes they are just that, and loses the ability to prioritize. I'm completely going beyond paraphrasing here, because I can't remember exactly what I read or where I read it and, you know, I was too busy to save the link. Ha.ha.ha...

That whole prioritizing thing? Yeah, I'm not so great at it. If everything needs to be done, then how to decide what needs to be done first? When my imaginary deadlines are looming over it all? (Notice I said everything. I think that's a little telling, don't you?) Today I'm excited by the fact my office is letting us leave at noon today to get an early start on the holiday weekend. As I sit here reviewing my completely unrealistic mental to-do list for this weekend, and my excitement over all the tasks I can get a head-start on is starting to wane with the acknowledgement that I won't actually be able to accomplish it all. And not sure what to do about it other than declaring a computer-free weekend. No, make that an interwebs-free weekend. As in, no wasting hours on the internet even though all I have all those blogs to catch up on. And TV to watch online (my experiment of not-getting-cable is doing nothing to cut down my tv consumption, i swear).

But. I am going to try. Try to focus, try to get as much done as I can. Without distraction. I will try. As of right now, the computer-free weekend is begun.

Wednesday

3 Views Through a Window

Well hello there, I hope you've had a nice week so far!

I posted a few pictures several weeks ago, with the idea to make a recurring series with similar photos. Images framed by the windows through which they are viewed. I've taken a few photos last week that I'll share with you here - nothing too spectacular, I hope that as time goes on and I get better with handling my humble point-and-shoot camera I'll have more interesting ones to share later :-)

These are all taken from within my apartment, looking out of course, so here you can see the views I have from my bedroom in the evening, see the traffic going by below? (oops, you can also sort-of see my closet reflected too, see those hanging ghosts of clothes on the left side of image? haha!)


...and looking out to the weirdly-shaped balcony off my living room. The neighboring apartment buildings are not the prettiest backdrop, but at least there are trees. (See the treetop covered in white blossoms just over the railing? Those blossoms are all blowing off this week in the wind.)



...and a peek out from my kitchen/dining area - I kind of really like the grids and lines from this perspective!



{Just one thing I wanted to add... blogging insecurity moment... it feels very strange to be sharing these online, even though I'm not showing anything too terribly personal for gosh sakes! But I'm feeling a little exposed here, which is probably a good feeling to confront, right? No way of getting over those fear-based emotions if I'm hiding from them.}

Saturday

Weekend Plans

Happy Weekend everyone! It's a beautiful, sunny day here in northern California and I'm taking it easy, enjoying the spring air. Later on I'll be getting back to my paints, which are set up in a corner of my living room:



Contrary to the title of this blog, I don't have a studio so much as creative zones throughout my one-bedroom apartment. One of which is a large glass-and-metal computer desk which I've repurposed as a painting table (it is so much easier to clean spilled paint off glass than other surfaces).



I've been experimenting with these geometric shapes, using a watercolor-like style but in acrylic.



How about you? What are your plans for the weekend?

Sunday

5 Blogs I've Been Cozying Up to Lately

It may be no surprise after my last post that I love reading, well, as much as I possibly can. I would enjoy several hours to be added onto every day, just so I could read more. I'm like an addict really. I can get lost on these interwebs, and I don't think I'm the only one with this problem. So let me add some more fuel to that fire with these great blogs that you all should read, and get lost in, like I've been doing lately!

M-Dashing

A uniquely styled blog about one girl's enthusiasm for all things New York - beyond the flash and glitz, a perspective of what it's like to be a resident! Wander all around the 5 boroughs with Amy. Though not limited to posting about her locale, her love for her hometown is infectious - and her One-Bouquet-A-Week Challenge is not to be missed.

artnlight

I don't have to wonder what it would be like to travel to India someday, because I can do so anytime I wish by visiting this lively corner of the www! Vineeta's photos are so full of texture and color - oh my, how I love the colorfulness! My favorite posts are the photo tours of her homeland - check out her Indiaaah! posts to be transported to another world.

Merissa Cherie

For another insider's view into living at place where many dream to visit, walk don't run to Merissa's pastel version of Hawaii. Her light-drenched photos are simply gorgeous, reminiscent of the sensation of sunlight streaming on your face while at the beach. I find myself wishing I could walk through the computer screen and right into her inspiration board :)

Pancakes and French Fries

This is the life of a wife, mother, and attorney. Jules has a great backstory to the name of the blog - check it out here so you can be in on the joke of her "Phenomenally Indecisive Since 1972" tagline too! And read her for the wide-ranging topics, her real-ness, her forays into home-made deodorant (yes, really!) and other off-the-wall items, and her compelling visual tutorials (like the one here, which I have yet to try out but I have a tarnished teapot that reallllly needs this).

74 Lime Lane

This well-crafted blog about creativity is one I can totally get lost in! I've spent hours perusing the archives of Kellie's inspiring site. Unfortunately she's having some trouble with her ISP right now and I've only been able to access her site from work, not at home, I'm not sure why and it's really bumming me out, but there's also her Flickr and Etsy to look through! So if you follow the link you may need to try at different times of the day, but please keep trying  - and check out her 74 Ways to Be Inspired series for tips, musings, and interviews with creative people.

I hope you find yourself spending some time with one of these lovely blogs, as I have! What about you? Are there any new-to-you blogs that you've been cozying up to lately?

A Little Light Reading on a Sunday


This week I caught a nasty cold, the last few days have been a blur of fever and dvd's. Really not much interest in doing anything more taxing than staring at my tv screen, I couldn't even get into the magazine I tried to read. But, today I am feeling much better, although I still need to take it easy. So I'm catching up on some reading, with these three books I recently purchased.


I'm no stranger to the self-help section of the bookstore (shhh, let's keep that just between us, ok?) And I mentioned in this post that I was looking forward to Inner Productivity to help me get a handle on my lack of motivation/commitment to my goals. I haven't cracked it open yet, but I'm two-thirds of the way through The War of Art - which turned out to be so much better than I expected, and which I will read a second time as soon as I'm finished. And will probably re-read for years to come. Until it's tattooed into my brain. I don't usually underline my books, it has to be a real knock-out book to get me to take a pen or highlighter to it, and it's crazy how much of this book I have underlined already. It's a great book for anyone interested in understanding and overcoming their inner resistance - not just for art or other creative pursuits, but for anyone trying to live (in the words of Oprah) their Best Life.

Thursday

Can anyone tell me where the last two weeks went?

I mean, seriously.... time, like youth, seems to be wasted on the young. And I haven't been finding much time left at the end of all the many things I need to do every day, with posting here going by the wayside.

But my last two weeks have not been a complete waste! It's been pretty intense lately in the blogging class I'm taking, which is sadly nearing its end. And my little blog will be all the better for it. I've got some changes planned, one of which is I'll be adding a gallery page! So you can see at a glance some of my artwork to date once that's up. I'm hoping to have that completed within the next few days.

I know I haven't posted any of my art in a while, so here is a glimpse for you. This photo was taken during a mini-sabbatical I took at the beginning of last year, which was a treat to myself - one week that I dedicated to creative pursuits. I had a whole factory line-up going at this point, several collages that I'd done that week were about to get a final coating of acrylic varnish.




I promise to post my art more often, that is why I'm here after all, and I love sharing these little glimpses into my world. Soon...  By the way, I have not been sleeping well lately. Too, too many things on my mind! This class has given me so much to think about, beyond the basics of blogging and spilling over into everything. All the things I have planned - I just want to do them. You know what I mean?


Tuesday

On Seeking Commitment - Part 2

Last week I posted about my procrastination habit and some of my frustrations over it.  I asked myself some questions: So why is it that I continually fail to commit fully to my dream? Is it because I don't like the circumstances under which I must carry forth determination? Why am I still seeking that which I should already have? I am still trying to answer these. I think I have been avoiding them for a very long time in my life, and it is entirely possible that I will be struggling with the for a long time to come. I mean, I really hope not, but hopefully acknowledging this struggle is the first step to overcoming it.

Well, darn it. I was hoping that with a few days of thought, it would all solve itself, I could come back here and tell you that I have the answer figured out & all wrapped up in a pretty bow. Well, not really, I'm not silly enough to think problems solve themselves. I sure tend to hope they will though, every time. I guess life just keeps telling me "No, think again." But I can share with you one mini-realization that I had last week:
I noticed that the larger a task is, the larger my resistance. However if I break it down into small steps - and I mean miniscule, 5-minute "micro-actions" - it helps me to get over the block. Sometimes this very no-pressure way of starting the task, is so easy that I continue and get much farther through the work. Like getting the ball rolling, I suppose. It helped on this post, it helped when I was working on that inspiration board. Heck it even helps for doing my taxes (filling in the forms just a few questions at a time, going back to finish on another day). Yes, I'm talking tiny, tiny steps here.

In a comment to one of my earlier posts, the lovely Vineeta shared the following quote, "And the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."-Anais Nin. It seems that this is more & more true as time goes by! It hurts more with each passing milestone date. Like my birthday which was this past Saturday (I don't like my new age so let's just move on ok?) Where New Year's always fills me with hope for what I can accomplish, my birthday always reminds me of what I haven't accomplished yet. I am guessing this also has something to do with why I get stuck?

Ok, I think I've rambled quite enough here for now. I'm sure I'll be bringing this up again, I just ordered a book called Inner Productivity that I'm hoping will help me get over my issue. Thanks for sticking around to read this, if you've gotten this far!

Saturday

3 Views through a Window

Portals have power...

One of the reasons I have the word "door" in the title of this blog is because of it's metaphorical power as a portal. Doors, and windows, imply a journey, imply something waiting on the other side, a kind of pathway to another plane of existence. What lies beyond the space you occupy, and how much of it can you sense through whatever portals stand nearby? Do you shut it out, this something that lies outside your comfort zone, or do you swing the door wide open? Fling the window open and peer out at the world beyond?

Pictures taken of the view through doorways and windows, ones in which you can still see the framework, intrigue me. There's so much more hinted at when you can see that the picture was taken in one space looking out at another. Whether the picture taken is of the view outside of a car window, or standing in a doorway taking in the scene beyond, there is always an implied journey that colors your interpretation.

Here are three of my favorite "views through a window" that I photographed during my trip to Arizona last summer.

1. Approaching Sedona
Driving from Phoenix to our destination, we'd been warned about the flash rains that happened in the hills outside of Sedona, so we were on the lookout. The rain would fall rapidly for just a few minutes, and in concentrated areas, then stop as suddenly as it began. Can you see the dark smudge of rain falling on only half the hill above?

2. Built Upon a Rock
The Chapel of the Holy Cross was built in the 1950's, and the design was the idea of a sculpture student of Frank Lloyd Wright. The structure was built into the actual rock mesa in Sedona, looking almost as if it were part of the landscape itself. Viewed from below, there's a 250-feet high cross framed by tall panes of the only window in the building. Since it's right on the edge, the view from the massive window has a great view of the surrounding area.

3. Somewhere in Arizona
I can no longer recall where this picture was taken. All I remember is that dusk was approaching and I was taking as many pictures as I could while there was still a little light. The dome could have been part of a really expensive-looking mansion we saw in Sedona (which was totally out of character for the type of architecture of most homes out there), or it could have been yet another church. This photo is more important that the scenery in that it represents me, drinking everything in, fully open to what was beyond those portals.

I'm curious if anyone else shares my enthusiasm for this idea of these views through portals? I'd like to make this a semi-regular series: snapshots of life seen from another room. Maybe on a monthly basis, or as often as my limited spare time permits. I'd love to read your comments on whether or not this is something you'd be interested to see!

Thursday

Thanks & Welcome

Happy Thursday, everyone! The weekend's almost here, and this evening the sky was just a little lighter as I left work. The days will be getting longer soon, which makes me happy.

I want to take a moment to welcome all the new readers who've been popping by my little space here in the last couple of weeks. And for every commenter, a big thanks for giving me the blogging equivalent of a hug! It's much appreciated :-) You guys rock!

I hope that everyone who stops by here has seen something interesting or worthwhile. I'm pretty much admitting to my vulnerabilities here, which isn't easy for me to do! I so want to make this space a welcoming one for people to visit. I have plans for this space, and I've been learning a lot in the Blogging Your Way course. This blog is a work in progress, much like my self. Improvement is the name of the game for me this year, both here and in my life.

Coming up soon I'll be posting Part 2 of the On Seeking Commitment post - although to let you in on a secret, I just started drafting it today, so I'm a little behind my one-week self-imposed deadline. (Procrastination is one one of those things I need to work on this year). I also have a post coming up for the BYW class, another homework assignment, meant to stretch my abilities as a blogger. And boy do I need to stretch!

So stay tuned for both those posts sometime over the next few days. Have a lovely rest of the week, and wherever in the world you are - I hope you have pleasant days ahead!

Sunday

Inspiration Board

Also called a visualization board or mood board, whatever name it's all basically the same. A pretty way to convey an idea in images, that at times can be quite powerful. I'm not sure how powerful the two below are, but it sure was fun making them. And I pulled this together from a lot of materials I had gathered over a few years, I edited down a lot, and made sure that I had a reason for every element in the board and not just because it went well with everything else.

So here's my homework for the BYW class! Enjoy :-)

I'm pretty sure we were instructed specifically to make only one board, but I cheated. They are an extension of the same idea, in any case. And I edited down so much, I just whittle it down any further. So here are the two boards and some detail shots, of Board 1:



And of Board 2:


I think the two go pretty well together, don't you? But I do like Board 2 better.


What do you think? If you're curious about any of the images in either of these boards, or why I included them, ask away in the comments :-)

Blogging confession

I've been going behind your back - doing something without telling you... I'm taking a blogging class, so that I can learn how to make this little space on the internet better for... well, for me and you and anybody else who stumbles upon it. It's a class being run by a big blogging star, that's the link over there in that gray box titled BYW...Blogging Your Way.

You may have noticed I changed the blog template last week? Gone is that background dot pattern that was making me dotty every time I looked at it. I'm planning to make up my own header sometime soon and do a site re-design, so stay tuned for that. Also planning to feature my artwork more, glimpses into my process, and some other stuff in the works.

The class has been great so far, a lot of focus in these early classes have been on self-knowledge, and so the homework has been a sort of therapy in a way. Yes, I said homework! And the only person grading me is me, so I can't fake it. This next post, coming up soon, is what I did for the latest homework assignment - the first fun one! I'm excited to show it off.

And if anyone thinks the class sounds interesting, I'm pretty sure that Holly will be having another session, please check out the class description here.

Wednesday

On Seeking Commitment

I was just reading an article on tinybuddha about the things that hold us back from our dreams. This part really stood out for me:
But if you don’t know what you’re committed to, you can’t possibly progress. A great start is to ask yourself, “What is the one thing that would upset me if, at the end of my life, I do not attempt, do, or complete?”....If there’s an immediate answer, you must commit to that.
The reason why this gave me pause, is because I asked myself this question a year and a half ago, and I got my answer. There is one thing that if I were on my deathbed I would not be able to forgive myself for never attempting, and that is making art. Not the kind of dabblings that I've been doing in my free time - I want the opportunity to immerse myself in art making, expand my abilities and develop my style. I want a lengthy chunk of time to dedicate myself to the process and to have a converation with the work.


And so I know what I want, and yet I am still blocked. It is incredibly frustrating that I still have to deal with the realities of the world, making a living and all the mundane aspects of life, when all I want to do is lock myself and my supplies into a studio for the next 6 months. Just to see what I'd be able to do. Whether or not I fail, or can create anything meaningful. I just want the chance!


So why is it that I continually fail to commit fully to my dream? Is it because I don't like the circumstances under which I must carry forth determination? Why am I still seeking that which I should already have? These are the questions I'm asking myself.... And I need to stop avoiding them.


This is part one of a two-part posting - I intend to come back (with my answers to the above questions!) next week, so stay tuned. In the meantime, please feel free to share your feelings about commitment or progress here in the comments... I'm fascinated by people how people overcome their stumbling blocks... maybe we can encourage each other!


Photo above from Studio Antwan on flickr