Category: The Journey

Back at you

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a “beach person,” but I do love the beach. I don’t like the beaches that are crowded with people. I like walking the beach early in the morning or in cold months when no one else wants to be there. I had some time this past week to stroll barefoot in the sand and I kept running into great blue herons. This one stood still along the coast and pretended not to notice me. I was acting like a Frozen Charlotte and I knew he was watching me. Whenever I made the slightest move, his gaze would change or his body would move to reposition. It was a stand-off of mutual respect.

Had I been with other people, I know this encounter wouldn’t have happened. They likely wouldn’t have been so patient or quiet in waiting. Watching. It was magic. I watched how they interacted with people and tried to survive with the 2-legged trespassers. I watched how they adapted their feeding, as they attempted to steal the fish reeled in by the people fishing the surf. No longer the independent hunter, just a well-adapted opportunistic thief. I walked away emotionally changed.

I knew in just a few hours of my walk, things would be different for them. Instead of an occasional morning walker, they would deal with a steady stream of people passing up and down the coastal sand. They did what they could to survive. One stolen fish at a time.

This is were creative inspiration comes from; Stopping. Observing. Witnessing life around you. Take the time to slow down. The inspiration will probably be there looking right back at you.

 

 

Allow space for things to happen

The past few months, I’ve been working in front of my computer. At times, it felt like slow movements; a nagging … “get it done, get it done.” At the same time, I was reading books and paying attention to how I felt. My feelings were: why the hurry? Give it time. Don’t rush it.

“Don’t rush anything. When the time is right, it’ll happen.” – Anonymous

I’ve been trying to give myself space. I didn’t make my mental deadlines public, because I wanted to work in a comfortable way (yes, those deadlines kept changing). I didn’t want the added burden of external expectations. I’ve done that before and failed. Creativity isn’t a place to rush. However, it is a place to attend to.

I could have literally spent 8-10 hours a day working on producing my next online class. Instead I gave it time to process. Since the time I started working on this (yes, its been awhile), I’ve run into technical and software issues. And, the online hosting platform I was using announced they were shutting down. (Stop. Re-group. Time to go down a rabbit hole of research.) Disappointment and hurdles can slow you down.

I didn’t give up though. I just gave myself patience and space. If it is meant to be, it will be. Breathe.

There have been times that I pushed myself to perform and found my health was affected by it. I’m older and don’t want to live like that. I think many people are feeling this way. Covid gave us all a time to really slow down. Now as things are returning to normal, many of us don’t want to go back to our old ways. It’s Ok. Its actually healthy to step off the treadmill and meditate.

Above all, it is important to be aware of how you feel toward what you are doing. Step back, check in, and reflect. Is it important to you? If yes, take time for it. If no, then let it go. Along the way, remember to be kind to yourself. It’s ok to allow space for things to happen.

Find our way

So tell me, what’s with that project in your closet? You know, the one that you started ages ago? The one that you want to finish but lost your mojo? Or is it the one that you forgot about and later discovered while you were looking for something else? You know the one I mean…YES! That one! Can you tell me why you haven’t finished it?

I think all creatives have them. And, I must confess, I have my own “healthy” stash of UFOs (UnFinished Objects). Knitting projects, pieced quilts, art quilts and countless fabric tidbits that were suppose to become something.

When I “find” mine in the closet, I think to myself, “I should really finish that.” Then, I proceed to move on to whatever I was initially doing. I occasionally grab them and say…”Now its your turn!” and happily get them completed.

I sometimes envy those that don’t have abandonment issues with their art. However, not so much lately, because I’ve discovered a different attitude to take … it isn’t time. I compare it to making bread, the idea or creative energy needs to rest before it can rise.

Our society is so full of productive hurry. Do more, be more, create more … Don’t stop, because you will fall behind!

Maybe art isn’t meant to be created like that. Sure, there are those who crank out new work like they have little mice helping them at night [e.g., Cinderella]. But, it’s tiring to keep up. What if the work needs rest too? If we’re stuck, the pause can bring new insight and inspiration. Giving the work a timeout might be all we need to get the courage and confidence to complete it. Or maybe, the intermission gives us time to learn new things and find our way.

That magical place of being; reverie

I love learning new things. I never want my thoughts to be without engagement. What is? What if? What next? How? Constantly wondering and awarded with discovering something new.

This week I learned a new word, “reverie.” Merriem-Webster describes it as “the condition of being lost in thought; day dream.” Phil Cousineau in his book “Stoking the Creative Fires” describes it as the first fire that must be stoked to ignite the creative work that keeps you from going crazy.

Much like “flow,”  which was conceptualized and introduced into psychology by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as a creative cognitive space where we step out of the routines of everyday life into a different reality. A place were we get lost in time, find effortless attention, and a balance between skill and challenge.

Both reverie and flow describe the place were creatives are lost in their task. I have held this space, have you?  Right now I’m in-between projects and craving this super absorbed space in time. I’ve been thinking what inspires my reverie. What sparks yours?

For me listening to my playlists and getting lost in music is my magical place. The lyrics fill my brain and the rhythm pulses my heartbeat. I love going to live performances and watch how the musicians transform on stage. Scott Terry (pictured) of Red Wanting Blue is one of those performers. His facial expressions show his departure from time and place. He is singing with his muse and the audience is flowing with him. In my personal journey, I’m discovering how to spark that magical place of being; reverie.

Because you can

My heart has felt heavy. There’s not much you can do when things are out of your control. So you watch, hold your breath and keep your emotions close to your heart. The weight of the world. History. That’s why it feels heavy.

My grandmother arrived at Ellis Island in November 1920, fleeing her homeland in the midst of the Polish-Soviet War. The boundaries between Poland, Russian and Ukraine where in flux. You see, the Baltic Region is deeply rooted in my ancestry.

I think of Busia and the people of this region. They are my blood.
Is this why it feels so heavy? I don’t know.

I’m an artist here in the US, because of my grandmother. Her struggles are my history and afford me my life.

Its OK to feel all of this in our hearts and minds. To care and have empathy is a beautiful thing. But, be aware of how you’re feeling. Stand tall. When you worry, find outlets that comfort you. Seek opportunities to help those who are hurting. Make art, simply because you can.

Always continue to try

I’m one who likes to keep quiet until something is definite. So many things can go wrong. (Yes, I’m also a recovering pessimist.) I believe if I share something too early and it doesn’t happen, I’d have to publicly explain why it didn’t. My reasoning is even more pronounced after these covid years. I watched so many things get cancelled; weddings, exhibits, concerts, vacations, home remodeling projects, etc. So until I know for sure, I plan to stay neutral about possibilities in my future. And that’s what I did…

Early in December 2021, I had an idea for an article for Quilting Arts magazine. This wasn’t the first time I submitted to a magazine;  sometimes the ideas get accepted and sometimes not. You have to pull together the courage to say, “no matter what the answer, it will be OK.” And yes, over the years, I’ve dealt with my share of rejections and acceptances. (Does anyone really enjoy announcing the things that didn’t work out?) You move forward by mustering the courage to try, and possibly fail, then hit send and wait.

My pitch wasn’t accepted in the way I anticipated. Instead of my idea, I was asked to do a “Show Us Your Studio” feature for Spring edition 2022. Definitely not what I expected, but, how cool was that? I had a couple weeks to pull my room together, get the photos taken, answer Vivika’s questions, and submit before Christmas. And…I made the deadline!!

As I write this, I think about my Godmother and the conversations we had before she died. She told me that one day she expected to be reading about me in quilting magazines. I couldn’t see it back then, but she did. So this one is for you, Zen. Another reminder, that we should always continue to try. 


If you don’t subscribe to Quilting Arts Magazine, you can purchase a copy here: https://www.quiltingdaily.com/product-category/magazines-ebooks/quilting-arts/

To the top

I’m currently reading “The Reluctant Artist” by Karen Kinney. Its a fast read and offers a lot of insight into the creative journey. I highly recommend it. I’m lucky enough to be reading along with a small circle of creative women who work in a variety of mediums. This book seems to speak to all of us at some level.

In her book, Kinney writes about feeding our creativity by consistently showing up which, in turn, creates forward momentum in our creativity. One feeds the other. We always want to be moving forward in our journey, the consistency is what feeds our soul. The problem with this is staying the course. It isn’t easy. Kinney references Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art (another good, quick, read). In it Pressfield writes “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

So, if you’re a creative person, there’s this battle going on. You may realize your creativity is very important to you, but you also find that you’re facing resistance too. Maybe you’re finding excuses and making other things more important (e.g. laundry, cleaning the cupboards, etc.). Maybe you’re critical of yourself, your art or your motivation. Granted some  “excuses” are valid activities that need to be done, but do they have to be the priority all the time? Is there room in your life to make adjustments? Can you hush the inner self-criticism?  Are you willing to change some things to free up extra time and show up for your art practice? The more you show up, the more you’ll accomplish and the more you’ll want to want to show up.

I admit its challenging and I’m always seriously confronting my own resistance. But, I am also showing up. Does it matter if we show up for full day sessions of creative activity? No, small increments of time and attention are equally valuable to conjure momentum.

Think of it as climbing a hill; its steep and you’re tired. If we stop moving our feet, our movement stops. The longer the pause, the more time it will take to get to the top. BUT! we will still be traveling, just not as quickly if we forced our way up. It is the consistency of stepping one foot, then the other, that will get us to the top.

Process of learning

Part of what I have to do to create my artwork is to take photos of birds. I have some drawing skills but not enough to feel confident about drawing freehand. My college education is in wildlife biology. So, I personally like what I do to be as accurate as possible in representing the species I’m featuring. This is why I rely on a camera so much.

The screech owl piece I finished last week was generated using this photo as a starting point. I took the photo during a public event for an animal rehabilitation facility. These events are great ways to raise awareness and money for the organizations. But, they are also great opportunities to get photographs of animals you may never see in the wild. You don’t even have to be that great of photographer or need a fancy camera. This photo was taken using my cell phone.

Judges/jurors of art shows don’t take to kindly to artists submitting work where a photo by someone else was used to inspire the art (yes, even if the photographer gave permission). It falls within the messy business of copyright law. Copyrights are a tricky thing. This is why I’ve decided to source my own reference photos.

Its just another layer to the art I create. I have to practice/improve my photo skills and seek out opportunities to capture the images. It is all part of the process of learning.

Tenacity to Embrace Fear

Between the holidays and trying to complete several projects, this has been a full month for me. I mentioned a few weeks ago that the company which hosted my online classes is closing down in April. I’ve been thinking about what to do next. I’ve been researching different platforms to work with and I’m pretty sure I know which one I will choose.

February is going to be a month of catching up and creating things I can share with all of you. I was asked to join 3 other women for an art exhibit next year. So I’ll be in my studio creating art. I was honored to be asked to join these women. We all work in very different mediums, so it should be interesting to see the results of our combined efforts.

Over the past couple months, I have had several ideas for working in a series. This exhibit opportunity will give me a reason to work on what has been flying in my head. I received grant money last year to purchase a new camera. I am using the camera to photograph birds to create a bird textile art. The screech owl here is my first piece in the series…(note: you’ll be seeing more of him this year).

You probably can see that I don’t like monotony. I always want to try new things and grow. However, the older I get the more I realize that its difficult to stay on one path too long. Life is always throwing zingers. It is hard to look back to a year ago and realize all that I was doing then is very different today. You have to be ready, flexible and willing to face the uncertainty. That’s why I titled this new owl piece “Tenacity to Embrace Fear.”

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See “The Messenger” at
5th Annual Birds of a Fiber Exhibit
January 27-February 28, 2022

Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum
703 South Second Street
La Conner  WA 98257

Continue moving forward

This month (year) has started with a mix of emotions; excitement about moving forward and apathy toward the constant obstacles with doing the same. In a way, I feel like I’m picking up where I left off 2 years ago. This is a good thing. But with ice storms, power outages, threats of illness and cancellations, … and an MIA art quilt … I’m a bit over it all already.

Just breathe.

As a deadline looms, I will keep going. However, in the back of my mind I have a suspicion my email program isn’t mailing out these blog posts to my subscribers and I have to start working on creating new online courses. The technology issues will have to wait until I can find the time and mental capacity to work on them.

I have made some decisions about some fun things I want to start doing. I’ve also cleared my plate of other things that have taken energy from my path. There’s such a mix of things going on. Yet, isn’t this what a fulfilling life is all about? Even if my heart sometimes wants to argue about it, I will always try to look for the bright side. I will maintain my tenacity to embrace fear and continue moving forward.