Archives for category: art and the artist

The work day winds down. I switch over my workstation from my work laptop to my desktop pc. An afternoon sunbeam streams into the room, filling the space with light. It’s so lovely to see blue sky again, after the dark and smoky days of recent wildfires. I breathe, exhale, relax, and let go of the small shit nagging at my consciousness. I hear my Traveling Partner and his visiting son in playful conversation, but I can’t hear what they are saying. The tone is light and joyful and satisfied. Small things in life can fill me with such immense satisfaction and delight.

… Then there’s the chaos… I mean, seriously? I’ve still got this hollowed out closet lacking in drywall or flooring that needs repaired – including the hole straight through the wall to the room on the other side. The recent failure – and replacement – of my aquarium is so recent that it still sits in my “not quite still now” buffer, needing to be processed, but omg there is so much else to do, “right now”… Yeah, so… some of the chaos? I’m clearly doing that to myself.

Another breath. Another exhalation. Another moment to relax and let that shit go. Another moment to enjoy this bit of sunshine pouring into my window. My mind wanders pleasantly… didn’t I have some errand to run this afternoon? I shrug that off, too. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t.

I take this minute, here, now, for me – between the end of the workday, and the return to family life. Me, in my studio, with the sunshine filling the space around me. It’s enough.

I woke abruptly from an unpleasant dream, this morning. It was much earlier than I needed to be awake, but I couldn’t go back to sleep. After a few minutes, ruminating over my dream, I got up. My Traveling Partner and I shared coffee. The day began.

Now I’m sitting contentedly in my studio once again (no, the repairs have not yet been done, and the wall and closet are still “torn out”, waiting on those repairs). I was inspired to get moved back in by my unpleasant dream. The details are not critical here, the fundamentals were what got my attention, and I woke motivated to act on what was “suddenly so clear”; I needed to have my studio back, like, immediately. Having my workstation (and conducting my day-to-day work) in the dining room was an acceptable short-term solution while the water damage in my studio was being addressed. (The big air movers that were shoved in to the smallish space were reason enough; it was way too loud for work.) That’s all over with, though. Right now, it’s just a room waiting for some dry wall to be replaced, and some finish work. I’d cluttered up the opposite side of the room, making haste to move paintings to safety, and bookcases out of harm’s way, and the big deal at this point was that I couldn’t get to my desk! I woke from my troubling dream with a clear plan how best to regain the lost space and move forward.

…And it’s not as if I have any expectation of the repair crew coming this week…

It feels particularly good to be seated at my desk. I smile, and gaze out the window, content with the small view of pear-laden trees on the other side the fence, and a wedge of sky beyond my neighbor’s house. My desk is clean, tidy, and looking around the room with some satisfaction, I note that things are as well-managed and neat as before we noticed the leak that caused me to be temporarily kicked out of my studio. In some ways, it is tidier, simply because most of the canvases were moved into another space in the house (permanent solution still tbd).

My Traveling Partner was also inspired to begin “putting things right once again”, and between coffees tidied up his workshop, and rehung the sun shade “sails” that make the deck so pleasant on sunny summer days. They had been taken down during a wind storm, and we didn’t bother putting them back up while the air outside was indexed at “hazardous” – we weren’t spending time outside!

We each (both) remarked how much difference it made to our general feeling of emotional wellness to have the dining room restored to it’s ideal function (as a dining room), and my workstation back on my desk where it belongs. Reclaiming that living space was a big deal for both of us. Reclaiming this space (my studio) was critical for me, and probably pretty fucking helpful for my partner, too. It was getting beyond annoying to have business calls going on all day, in the shared living space where one might expect to be able to just relax and watch a damned video, or read the news. I know it was messing with my partner’s morning routine. It was challenging for me to deal graciously with life and love being so intimately present in the midst of work – my attention was unavoidably divided, and however much I might prefer to turn my full attention to matters of home life and love and my lover every minute, every time, I also felt the tug of the paycheck; my time is not my own during those working hours. It was hard on us both. I had started to feel pretty trapped. My partner made it explicitly clear he was having some feelings about it, himself. It was not a sustainable arrangement.

…I’m almost eager to face Monday’s calendar, from this seat, in this room, looking across my monitors to this window, and those trees beyond. Once again, I feel “at home” – which is much nicer than feeling chronically uneasy and displaced, for sure.

The morning was fairly merry. I find myself ready to begin again. 🙂

I’m drinking cold fizzy water. My work day is over. My Traveling Partner is in his shop, making something specific of nothing-much components – tools and knowledge make a lot of things possible. I reflect on small irritants, and things for which I am grateful, too. Sometimes the irritating things in life feel damn near inescapable. I often find that taking time to savor the things in life I cherish, and to reflect gratefully on the many many things in life that don’t irritate me, is time well-spent and a helpful anodyne to the plentiful aggravations life may throw my way.

Perspective matters.

Yesterday began well. A lovely day.

One very cool thing about perspective is that it can change. It can be willfully, deliberately, altered – by choice, if you’ve a will to choose to do so.

A strange haze began to develop, later in the morning… or was it just a trick of the light?

It’s tempting to see perspective as a single point, just one way of looking at something, or one position from which to consider things. Is it, though?

There’s definitely a haze, later in the day, and a high wind storm warning to go with it.

There’s often more than one “right answer”, more than one solution to a problem challenge, more than one way that “things go together”. On and off I keep contemplating perspective, and how best to make use of it to understand the country I live in, my own circumstances, or the strange times I find myself in. We’ve only got this one planet, and these all-too-brief mortal lives…

The otherworldly result of smoke from distant fires.

…somewhere, communities and forests and fields are burning. Fire season. Cities, too, for other reasons. It’s a very good time to contemplate perspective – and to broaden it. There’s more to understand than I can even grasp. I have another drink of water. I’m grateful for cold clean drinking water. I’m grateful for this place I call “home”. Even that sick strange orange sky – I’m grateful to be able to see the sky, and to breath the air. I read some of the news. It’s bad in some places. I put it down – it’s not new news, just words about things I’ve read before.

What are you “for”? What are you “against”? Why do you feel that way? What have you done to test your assumptions? (I’m betting you’ve made more than a few assumptions, without testing them; it’s very human.) Would you refuse to test drive a change of perspective if you knew doing so might change your thinking? What does your answer tell you about the person in the mirror?

Too many questions, and my water bottle is empty. The sky is still a crazy sort of orange that fascinates and alarms me. One way or another, we’ve got to begin again.

I’m drinking water. It’s a healthy smart idea on a hot summer afternoon. The weekend, thus far, has been quite lovely. I’ve run a couple needful errands. Managed to relax and enjoy my Traveling Partner’s good company. My sleep has been… poor. Noises wake me. Variations in household temperature wake me. Turning over in my sleep then becoming disoriented (still pretty new in this space), which causes me to wake feeling as if I am “in a strange place”. Small stuff.

I’ve been racing around running errands and handling household needs most of this long weekend. That’s the subjective experience, anyway. I’m not even bitching about it – just making note of the feeling, and reminding myself to also take care of me, too. I remind myself to do some small thing that is for and about me, and, if not “only me”, then at least very much something that matters greatly to me, specifically, that meets needs of my own. I know me; it might seem fine in this moment to just take care of other needs (even my Traveling Partner, who I adore), but when the weekend is behind me, if I haven’t also done some things for the woman in the mirror, there’s a better than average chance that resentment will develop later on. That’s not really fair to anyone who ends up on the receiving end of whatever tantrum might tend to follow; it’s about the self-care. I’m the only person who can handle the important business of self-care for me. You, too, right? You’ve got to take care of you – because literally no one else can meet your self-care needs. 😉

…So… What do I need? That’s an important question. I keep sipping on this refreshing bottle of fizzy water, into which I added a tablespoon or so of dill pickle juice. I know, I know, that doesn’t sound super tasty to most folks, but it’s actually not unpleasant, doesn’t require sweetening to “taste good”, and definitely tends to ensure I’m getting some minerals along with my fizzy water. Sometimes I also add some lemon or lime, and a bit of sea salt. If I’m dehydrated on a hot summer afternoon, this concoction may as well be a delicious fruity Italian soda, because it tastes so good I just want to chug it. lol If I’m well-hydrated on a pleasantly cool day, it’s a bit like trying to drink Pedialyte (meaning to say, not that tasty at all). Today? I’m definitely needing to drink more water. Nice bit of self-care, here, and easily done.

Self-care is about way more than drinking water, though. It’s also about emotional wellness. Fulfillment. Life satisfaction. There are lots of kinds of needs to meet in life. I think about my partner, happily setting about doing a project. That’s a way of meeting needs, too. I sat down here, to write. Another need being met. I’m looking forward to having a soak in the hot tub, once the water temperate drops another degree or two (hot day – a cool soak will feel refreshing). More needs being met. The house is quiet while I write, and I let the quiet be what it is, instead of putting on music or a video in the background; it’s a choice that meets my need to reduce the amount (and “density”) of cognitive stimulus reaching me, which meets still another need. I think about the garden I am planning for out front (next year’s big home project, for me) – putting time into that planning meets needs, too. Everything I do to care for hearth and home meets needs – but other needs are not so easily met through mindful service of that sort. I think about art, and writing. I think about thinking, and meditation. I think about the books I want to read, and the trails I’d like to hike. I think about “giving myself a break” – and what I think I mean when I think that thought.

…Even this solitary moment spent doing nothing more than considering what I need from myself this weekend meets some needs. 🙂 It is time I am spending on myself, and my needs. 🙂

I take a sip of my water. I take a deep breath. I relax, and feel the quiet smile on my face as it reaches the ends of my fingertips and the tips of my toes. I need this moment, here, now.

Later I’ll begin again. 🙂

I slept poorly last night. I’m not taking that personally this morning. It’s a lovely morning. I sort of slept in. The coffee, shared with my Traveling Partner, was quite good. We sat out on the deck, listening to the birds, watching clouds drift by, and enjoying gentle conversation. I can’t imagine needing more than this. I sit quietly alone for a few minutes, here at my keyboard. I give myself time to savor these precious moments.

There is a day, and long weekend, still ahead.

My partner points out that the deck is spacious, suitably so for painting. He expresses some surprise that I’ve not yet had my easel out on the deck, painting. I find myself surprised, too. It’s been a busy time since we started down the path of moving into our home… little time, it has seemed, for painting, or really any sort of creative endeavors…only… I hear him in the garage, this morning (which has fairly quickly become a very organized woodworking shop through his efforts)… I find it inspiring to hear him working creatively. My eye wanders to the deck. I think about the tasks ahead if I were to undertake to paint out on the deck, this weekend… my studio is still in a sort-of-orderly state of disarray, awaiting repair work. My easel? It’s in the farthest least accessible corner of the room, tucked in behind the long expanse of my desk. Paint brushes? Put away in the drawers where I keep them… which happen to be those on the far side of the desk, over there near the easel. Paint and canvas are much more easily within reach, requiring only some general care and common sense to get at them. That easel though… I’ll need to move two bookcases… and move them back… and a stack of paintings that are placed “just so”, safely out of reach of contractor work space… with some care and patience, it’s not that big a challenge. It’s just some physical effort.

…Do I have the will…?

I smile and sip the dregs of my coffee. The day had originally been forecast to be very hot. It’s not looking like that will be a concern today, really, and the forecast has since changed. Cooler temperatures are now in the forecast. Suitable for painting outside? Yes, and for walking. 🙂 I think that’s my “next thing”, today – a walk. The nearby farmer’s market at the grange will open shortly, and it is pleasantly on the way for most walks I might take near home. They practice good social distancing, and folks are comfortable staying masked, which I appreciate. We finally found a good value in a set of pots and pans for the new house (many of those I had been getting by with before had lived out their useful lifespan and needed replacing). We’ve been doing a lot of summer cooking, out on the grill, and pots and pans were a low priority, but occasionally cooler weather reminded me they’d be needed for soups and casseroles, and things cooked in pots, generally, and my high level of background inspiration also finds me wanting to cook, to bake, and to make things at home. I remind myself to bring a re-usable bag along with me when I go walking.

Home. Feels like we’re really “there”… here. 🙂

Contentment can be cultivated. 

I did not notice until I sat down this morning that the busy week had so occupied my consciousness that I haven’t written in days. Funny that I failed to notice it altogether. (If you have been missing me, I recommend an assortment of older posts – so many words!) Strange to be this content, moment to moment. Even my “to do” list is taking on new characteristics, as tasks associated with moving and with getting settled are slowly replaced with routine housekeeping tasks, and items like “water the lawn” and “write a letter to ____” begin to show up.

…Yesterday, I sat so quietly on the deck, as evening began to take over from afternoon, a hummingbird landed on a taut bit of line that anchors one of the shades over the deck, very near me. We sat regarding each other for some time. I made no move to take her picture. It was simply a moment shared between creatures. There are more of those such moments as I get acclimated to the new environment, and slowly build new routines. I’m less patient with myself – and the process of getting settled in – that I would like to be. In spite of that, change is, and things are slowly finding new norms.

I look at the time. I feel the quiet of a Saturday morning. Seems a lovely morning for a walk… and I think it’s already time to begin again. 🙂