Archives for posts with tag: home is where the art is

So this is home, is it? Here, now? Interesting that it feels so much so, so soon, so easily, so completely… Is it that way in each new place? Do I make myself at home, everywhere? It’s possible… I don’t take the bait when my restless monkey mind suggests I could dig into old journals and past blog posts looking for “truth”. The relevant truth is here, now, and it is enough. I feel at home here.

I woke well before day break. Dawn is still some time from now. The morning is dark in these wee hours, and the busy street I live on is utterly silent and without traffic so early on a Saturday morning. I woke early, rested, unable to sleep any longer. Easily handled; I got up and made coffee. ๐Ÿ™‚

The move is over. I live here. There’s more unpacking to do. I still can’t reliably find my way around in the dark. I’m still constantly misplacing things I’ve set down “for a moment” in some convenient spot “where I can’t lose track of it”, then wandering off and forgetting where I’ve set down… my phone… my keys… that list I just made… It’ll be some time before I really know this space and where everything is “put away” in it. I have regular reminders that I am not yet entirely unpacked, and moments of anxiety about things that may be lost, or overlooked, and actually it’s just that there’s quite a lot still in boxes. An example is that I don’t unpack books until I am certain I have the shelves where I really want them – but some of the boxes of books have some little odd other thing in the top of the box, if there was a bit of space there, but I don’t easily remember that item X is in that box of books over there – for now it just “feels missing”. Getting fully moved in is a process – but it’s lovely that I already feel “at home”, nonetheless. ๐Ÿ™‚

I notice that the pre-dawn darkness has lightened up enough to become dawn. Daybreak is here, and the sunrise will soon follow. I decide to set aside my writing, and take my coffee to the deck…

The day begins.

There is no handy view of the sunrise here, but the scent and sound of the forest so near at hand calls to mind so many mornings out in the trees, camping. The traffic hasn’t yet commenced, and all I hear are the sounds of forest life, and a breeze stirring the leaves of trees so close they seem almost within reach. I love the view from the deck. There is no grand vista here, no horizon on the horizon, no broad expanse of meadow…but there is also no busy pedestrian trail, no playground equipment, no basketball court, and no neighbors smoking cigarettes on the patio next to mine. This feels safe, and private, and comfortable. The deck gets some sun, it gets some shade – the roses are doing well here, and making a good recovery from the exposed heat of summer at the other address. I enjoy the convenience of having a water source at hand, making caring for my garden much easier. I check the yard from my deck vantage point, looking for forest creatures who may have chosen to visit, but this morning there are none. There will be other mornings. ๐Ÿ™‚

The move is over. The rest is just housekeeping. ๐Ÿ˜€ I live here. This is home. I sip my coffee as the sky lightens, and smile. Joy feels good. Contentment feels good. Feeling welcome in my own space, and in my own life, feels very good indeed. I take time to really savor these feelings – and to welcome myself home.

I woke around 3 am, and made a point of not getting up. I eventually fell asleep again, and slept in until almost 6 am! I woke slowly in the stillness and quiet of a pre-dawn Thursday. Another day of moving in, but planning to make a final visit to the old place, sweep up, vacuum, and hand over the keys.

I live here now. This new place. My aches and pains are here. My joyful moments will be here too. My peace and contentment are already here… I unpacked those yesterday, I suppose. ๐Ÿ™‚ My coffee is definitely here. My restless rather disorganized approach to housekeeping is here, too. My baggage and limitations are here… pretty sure I just saw those a minute ago…but in the calm of a lovely morning, I’ve misplaced them.

Yesterday I finished moving into the kitchen, which really needed to happen quickly; frequent meals out, delivered, or taken home from elsewhere are not sustainable indefinitely. This morning I woke to a minimum balance reminder I’d previously set to protect myself from over-spending during the move. Well, shit. That snuck up on me. My inner dialogue this morning is all to do with money, and budgets, and being attentive to details… less chastising than reinforcing.

4 years ago, I’d have probably been in hysterics for hours, freaked completely out both by seeing that reminder, and also simply because I was having to think about money. Particularly first thing in the morning (or right before bed, or at any time that wasn’t planned in advance, or … ) This time? I rolled over, and before I was even quite awake, calmly moved some money into that account in quite a routine way, and moved on with my morning with a firm thought in mind that I’ve exhausted my moving budget, and life moves on with the regular day-to-day budgeting in mind. Things will be tight this week. I’m not particularly concerned, because I specifically prepared for this. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a nice feeling.

…I manage to be mildly irked with myself, and realize I’d been betting I could “bring this project to a close on time and under budget”… and I missed. On time, sure, easily… if I only count the moving out bit. lol Under budget? Nope. My skills at anticipating costs and making a budget have grown over time, it wasn’t likely I was going to spend less on this move – I was accurate about what it would cost me. I’ve been pretty accurate about how much time it would all take me, too. lol I sip my coffee thoughtfully and decide to celebrate that I budgeted and planned so accurately, instead of celebrating how much less I was able to spend that I expected I might. ๐Ÿ˜€ Win!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I take time to care for the stressed out roses, and also to appreciate “Fireworks”, which arrived and immediately burst into bloom. What needs my attention no longer prevents me from appreciating what can be enjoyed.

On a more serious note, when I allow myself to become attached to an outcome, I may as well also plan to be quite frustrated, disappointed, and chronically unhappy, because those will likely be common experiences. Over time I have continued to practice letting go of being attached to outcomes, simply because my “crystal ball” tends to be sort of smudgy and vague, and I am often incorrect about the direction life may go, or the outcome of one choice or set of circumstances or another. Being willing to embrace change, and able to enjoy what is, even when it isn’t what I wanted, or what I was going for, results in a fairly frequent opportunity to simply enjoy myself, enjoy my life, enjoy my circumstances. It’s nice. Non-attachment is a pretty big deal for me. Effective.

I live here, now.

I guess I call this move done, at this point. I live here, rather than there. There’s more to do to move in, but it’s all right here. The “moving budget” is exhausted. Life moves on from moving to… whatever is next, I guess. Laundry probably. lol ย Housekeeping. The moving in, itself, becomes part of… life. Hell, friends have already begun making plans to come around. I definitely live here, now. I slept in. I sleep deeply and wake gently, even in the night. I can find my way around the place, in the dark, mostly. I’ve done dishes here, and cooked a proper meal. The pantry is stocked. My clothes hang in the closet. The miscellaneous crap currently strewn on the bathroom counter is mine. This is home. My new “drama-free zone”.

There’s more to do. More time to do it. There will be verbs involved. My results may vary. I live here, though, and this is my place. I am content. This is enough. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m up earlier than I need to be; it’s Saturday and I could sleep in. Only… I’m awake, so… that isn’t happening. ๐Ÿ™‚ Being attached to that outcome (sleeping in) has messed up so many beautiful mornings on which I earnestly wanted to sleep longer and couldn’t. I think, generally, I’ve let that go. It feels pretty good to be awake, okay with being awake, and simply enjoying the additional minutes or hours of the day.

The treeline obscured by fog; I assume the world exists beyond although I can't see it.

The treeline obscured by fog; I assume the world exists beyond although I can’t see it.

Last night was strange. I was not in the mood for company at all, and by the time I got home all I wanted was the peace and stillness of solitude. I started a fire in the fireplace, and sat down with a rare treat – a glass of sherry.

Just as my nerves started to unwind, and I began to relax into a state of lasting contentment, the smoke alarm went off. Okay, startling, but I silence it and settle down. It goes off again. The room does not appear to be smokey at all. I silence the alarm. I sit down, pick up a book. Smoke alarm. Okay, damn it, this is bullshit and I begin to feel agitated. It was an effort to pause the fast-building rage that is my purely animal reaction to frustration. I open windows, doors, and turn on fans. Clearly the smoke detector thinks there is smoke… why don’t I?

I step outside into the cool rainy night air, and breathe deeply; it is by far fresher than the air in the apartment. Okay… maybe there’s something to this? I look out into the night, it doesn’t seem any clearer… I turn and look back into the apartment, still not seeing “smoke” at all. I go inside and head for the little cloth I use to clean my glasses. Ah. Yep. That’s it; my glasses are so smudgy I couldn’t see that the air in the apartment wasn’t entirely clear – it was, in fact, a bit “smoggy”. Well shit. I keep airing out the apartment, feeling a bit aggravated – why tonight? I take time to sit down directly in front of the fireplace to watch it crackle away merrily – it cares not one bit about smoke alarms. I listen to the wind and wonder if it might be preventing the smoke from going up the chimney? Then I notice that the flue lever is much farther “open” than I generally open it, and also that reliable small curls of actual smoke are indeed rolling past the opening of the fireplace and into the room. So, while not billowing out in a definite noticeable way, there has definitely been smoke making it into the room since the fire got started. (Hey – smoke alarm, I’m sorry I was mad at you; you were right.)

Adjustments made, rooms aired out, windows returned to their closed position, fans turned off, alarm silenced… I can sit down, breathe, and relax. Well. I can choose to. I can make the effort. I can begin again. I can also quietly sit until the evening feels quite late, before being overcome by fatigue and calling it a night. Aside from dealing with the smoke alarm, I really didn’t do anything last night. It was exactly what I wanted out of my evening. No television. No music. No people. No fuss. No media news. No conversation. No. Just no. None. Not any. Only the quiet, my glass of sherry, and the stillness.

It was quite lovely, once I finally got to really settle down. I make a point of remembering that I did get to settle down and relax, quiet, content, without stress or fussing – and it’s important that I do that, because as I wrote about all the rest, all the rest became more prominent in my memory, reinforced in the telling. Amusing anecdotes about stressful things can work like that, too; we tell the tale, and it becomes the larger part of our recollection. It is one of the terrible truths of PTSD; the more our trauma haunts us, the more prominent the recollection of it becomes, the more significant in our implicit memory, the more “real” – even compared to other factually real events and experiences that may be going on now. Yikes. So, this morning I make a point, once the tale is told, to also savor the portion of the evening that followed, because the stillness and contentment can be a bigger portion of my experience, if I choose it to be so. Verbs. Choices. Practice. I enjoy the stillness more than the stress.

I’ve no idea what today holds. It is the weekend, and my traveling partner is far away. There is no chance we’ll see each other today. I’m okay with that; although I miss him, I’ve been needing some reliable consistent quiet, and have been struggling to create that within myself in his company. There has been so much busy-ness in my calendar (and my life) since I returned to work: a visit from my step-son, a couple of parties, my traveling partner coming and going a bit more than usual, OPD, a new work routine, a new commute… Every detail of my everyday life was completely overturned when I returned to work. Life has been so busy – and so social – I’ve been left with no time to sort it all out. The timing of my partner’s trip in this instance could not be better. ๐Ÿ™‚

I still miss him, greatly, and it is one source of my background stress. I’d very much like to have a living arrangement in which he could come and go utterly freely without concern. Another source of my increasing background stress is my commute; it consumes 10 hours a week of my precious limited lifetime. The transit portion of that commute is rarely pleasant, and puts me constantly at risk of illness. I make a point of living close to work for a reason, and that reason is that I dislike wasting my life commuting. I want that time back! By itself, this is not a big contributor to my stress, it’s a small thing; it drives thinking about moving, though, which causes me major stress.

Mist obscures the autumn skyline of the trees on the far side of the park. I assume they are still there.

Perspective matters. Letting go of attachment helps. 

I remind myself “this too shall pass”. I breathe. Relax. Sip my coffee, and look out across the meadow, into the misty morning; I will have to give up this view in favor of another. More upheaval. My anxiety kicks in, and I breathe through it. This will be something to face, to deal with, and to process for months to come… and that’s okay too. I feel things, and I have tools to process my feelings. ๐Ÿ™‚

Today is a good day to consider what I have, what I need, and what I’d choose to change. Today is a good day to embrace that change and make wise choices. Today is a good day to begin again.

This morning the minutes slip away as I consider my next move. I dislike moving, but the lease here is up just a bit more than 90 days from now. It’s time to give the matter some thought.

I woke on time, and as was the case yesterday, feeling a bit groggy. This morning’s okay though, as was yesterday, and I’ll get through the day just fine on the rest I got. I’m still feeling some stress, but I am also more aware that some of that is simply circumstances forcing my attention onto the need to move, again. I dislike moving. I sometimes find it difficult to enjoy traveling. I like to feel “at home”, safe, secure, and content. I can’t recall if this is something that has “always” been characteristic of my sense of self, or a newer thing, or the “why” of it.

One thing I know, although it took me a long time to figure it out; “home” is something I build for myself, and I can do that almost anywhere, given an opportunity to settle in and do so. I’ll probably grieve this lovely safe space 100 times before I ever actually move, but it’s not the building I’m attached to, nor is it the address, or the location, or the community – it’s the home I’ve made for myself here. I can do that again, someplace new. I even know that I enjoy and find deep satisfaction in that process of home making. I just dislike the process of moving. ๐Ÿ™‚


“Home” moves with me, even my garden waits in pots for a different arrangement, in another place.

This year the holidays will be lean and carefully managed in order to prepare logistically for a comfortable move. If I am ready to buy, and find the right little place, that’ll be the thing – if not, I’ll find a suitable rental nearer to work, and get back some of the time in my day while I look for a more permanent residence, something that suits my needs, and those of my traveling partner. I feel some of the anxiety and stress recede with a few moments of internal planning dialogue.

Today is a good day to remember that I am my own cartographer, and this journey really doesn’t have a map – or a destination. Today is a good day to plan, and to let go of attachment to places – and planning, too. Change is. Impermanence is, too. I’m okay right now. ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, I suppose the aphorismย is slightly different, for most. “Home is where the heart is”, is more likely to ring true. For me, it hasn’t been enough… Do I lack ‘heart’? That seems unlikely from the vantage point of being generally well-regarded, mostly valued, and living life embraced by love. But… living in a particular building, or at a specific address, has not been sufficient to define ‘home’ for me – even though I live with loved ones, in a generally comfortable, pretty contented day-to-day sort of way. It has seemed very odd for some time.

I’m not always sure what being an artist means, precisely. I’m not sure how being an artist defines me differently than being someone who paints an occasional painting, or creates something of great beauty once in a while; it’s the beauty created that matters more. I am uncomfortably aware in recent months that my own art speaks to me, myself, with an earnestness and import that has resulted in feeling pretty displaced and homeless not seeing it displayed all around me in my daily life; it hadn’t been hung. There’s a lot of it. One or two paintings made it to the walls over the past couple years… I have… dozens. Hundreds? I paint like a madwoman, I am notย shy about admitting that. The bare expanses of wall started working on my mind, over time; the stacks and stacks of paintings at the ready, the cabinets of smaller ones, the carefully boxed (between layers of protective acid-free tissue) unframed watercolors… all waiting…all part of who I am…all disregarded in favor of day-to-day minutiae and drama, and seeming unimportant to anyone but me.

The pain of it diminished considerably when I realized in an honest and aware moment that the bare walls left me feeling quite ‘homeless’ – more ‘deployed’ than ‘moved in’; it wasn’t about anyone else’s choices or actions, and I hadn’t expressed how important seeing my working hanging really is for my day-to-day comfort and contentment. I could communicate the experience once I found words for it, and phrasing that didn’t sound like an attack on life and love. Communication is a pretty big deal, and best done in an explicit and clear way on practical matters, such as the hanging of art… or the care and feeding of artists. ๐Ÿ™‚

Use your words. Seriously. (Also, use them gently!)

"Emotion and Reason" 2012 detail

“Emotion and Reason” 2012 detail

I arrived home last night to find that quite a number of paintings had been carefully hung… really, more ‘installed’ than hung; the care in hanging them, the considerate and meaningful placements done so skillfully that ‘hanging paintings’ hardly describes it. I sat, in the evening, feeling very much more ‘at home’ than I previously had for 2+ years. Does it make ‘everything right with the world’? Hardly. Even the delight of the artist herself, surrounded by her work, isn’t ‘everything’, is it? I do feel loved, and greatly cared for to see so many of my very best pieces hanging all around.

There are more to come, more space for art, walls as yet untouched by color or vision…and I certainly have enough work to take care of that! I expect there may be some movement, some changes, swapping this one for that one… My traveling partner has a keen eye for color, contrast, form – and a lovely aesthetic. If I have the choice between hanging my own work, and having him do my installations for me, I definitely prefer to step aside and give him room to work. I frankly just ‘hang paintings’, and not very well – they’re level, sure, and generally at an appropriate height for viewing… but I’m prone to just shoving as many pieces into a given area of blank wall as what I think will fit… resulting in a dizzying mosaic of color and glow that suits only me, and overwhelms anyone else.

I have no idea what today will hold…but I am already looking forward to returning at the end of the work day, to be surrounded by what matters so much…love, and art.