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Happy New Year. I love the idea of a new start. I haven't figured out what my word of the year will be. It might be shedding, as in snake skin. I met with the business consult early this week. I lost less money than I did last year! Big fucking deal. I need a new plan. My plan is to get a job that pays, and I can relieve myself of this burden of having to make money at the store. My new plan is shared space membership. If it works, fine. If it doesn't, I'll be leasing it.
Today at the studio, I made a stick type doll out of rolled burlap and twine. It's long and skinny--it's me. My next step is to write some words on good, flexible paper and drape it over the doll and create an image of her shedding her worldly identity, being left exposed and vulnerable and yet straight and erect. This is me. I am shedding anew, again, round 25? Each time I feel safer in my skin, a little more attuned to myself and especially, I feel integrated with the world around me. Life still interests and challenges me.
Friend Sally gave me a new magazine for Christmas. It's chocked full of beautiful images, articles, collages. It made my Sunday a gloriously, lavish day of relaxation. I coined a new word: relaxainment. Even the pages are silky and thick. Anyway, I thought about sharing it with Sister. I thought I could send her a subscription with a note: I think you'll enjoy this. It's an option that is balancing now on the threshold of "why". It would be a positive communication, but, to her, it would signal a want of connection or communication, which would be wrong. I don't.
I return to 100 words. Where have I been since August? I don't remember why I couldn't fit writing into my days 6 months ago, or was it just a break I needed from confinement, routine, obligation; I needed to break my own rules. So I did. Today, in art therapy, I realized I'm going to take over my own art therapy. Why? Because my therapist is bored with me. And, I've got nothing pressing that I'm working on. No emotional upheavals that need processing, no need for hand holding. It's just nice to have a witness-but come on..
These are the things Iím doing right: Iím learning to plan ahead, days in advance so that the day of the event Iím relaxed and all I have to do is put a few remaining pieces together. Gone is the paralyzing anxiety that makes me run in circles, unfocused, almost resigned to defeat. Hereís what Iíve been able to do in the past months: get lights installed at a reasonable price in advance of showings, find a new teacher, supporter, find resource for legal facts on co-op. Get Google words express. Stop the fretting.
Neighbor, LS, newly retired, is making her home a haven; spends days...now years collecting and correcting the aura. My former husband is caught in a trap of caring for his ever swelling number of cats, swallowing his life. My sister is obsessed with maintaining her ornament status-goes shopping everyday to gather her next "look". My son lives alone and works unilaterally on computers. He never leaves his house, his town, like he's chained to it. My point is that we fall into routines that are confining. Without reexamining and adjusting our energies, our lives become small and stuck.
My son is 35 years old. Still rebelling against any strings to him. He has not turned around to look and understand that the strings are made of love, care, help being offered and concern. In this regard he is a child-- and won't be coddled. When his life is off track, he shuts out all of us, isolates (and here is the pattern he hasn't figured out yet) he waits for us--his parents, relatives to reach out as of course, we must, and then throws his anger at life at us--as if we are the bad guys.
This stupid computer doesnít work anymore. I love it, but for example, I want a word count for my 100 words and it wonít show meóthus I canít write in advance. Other things related to technology have fucked me up too. My mind goes into minor crisis mode when my gadgets fail because I think my mind is failing. It's hard to know the difference. Remember real maps? Yesterday, I was trying to navigate as the passenger of my friend but my google map is telling me directions from another location not the current location. Screwed!
What if? This is a door opener phrase. What if I just accepted that I was old? That my time to build a better world through my talents was over? Could I live with that? What if I didnít measure my value primarily with money? Or my success with status? Or what if I just stopped judging myself, and started living? face everyday as a free time adventure? What would I do? Join a spa? Redecorate? Host gatherings? Stop struggling to make things happen? Smile? I could just be a landlord. I could start to dream again, have fun.
I am old. I scare children. I donít know how to teach in a way that makes people feel comfortable. Or I donít respond appropriately while theyíre outside their comfort zone. My voice is not shrill, but forced; like Iím shouting. Lesson one 1. even if they donít like me, so what? 2. they're not enjoying themselves doesnít mean Iím not a good person. 3. Wait until you get their attention before you start talking. 4. Whatever. Life goes on. Just because Iím not an entrepreneur, doesnít mean Iím valueless.
Itís a committee that I initiated. I asked two other professionals to join me in presenting an art therapy curriculum to the community. I introduced them in my home. Later, we planned and set deadlines at the store. Today, one of them made mention of their get together. And there is was. There went my trust and feelings of comfort. It meant that they have had conversations outside of our meetings; talks that did not include me. Did they talk about me? Are they aligned to deal with me? They donít like me. This is what I think.
This has happen to me before. Itís happen to everyone. But Iím now in the position to shield myself from the prolonged hurt. Now, I can be done with the problem of being excluded. I can just close the door on the chapter and start again. I donít have to dwell on the rejection or figure out how to handle it. Just ignore, feel above the squabble and continue on. I wonít see them again. No drama. Not taking it in. Screw them. No really, I feel sad. But, I'm strong enough to be resilient. Onward.
Disillusioned. This is the one word that rings clear about my relationship with my sister. It connotes a feeling of being let down and yet liberated from the idealism I held for her. Lots of this status of hurt is self generated. If Sis had always been nasty to me, then I would have disliked her from our start together. But she used me. and she played me. She pretended to be a friend so she could rule me. I found out so late in life that I was a chump, a pawn. It still makes me angry; maybe forever.
I see light at the end of the tunnel. Like I can breathe again. As though something has been decided in the cosmic world and that a shift of good fortune might come my way. This is because I've decided to get a job. It seems a simple resolution to the problem of not having money. But I had wrapped up this solution in a ball of failure. An entrepreneur must... be at her store regularly, else customers will see she is not reliable, not dedicated and unworthy of their confidence. But they don't come anyway! Abandon ship! Screw them!
I'm baffled that I can get so hung up, head so far into the sand that I can't discern a clear move, or even define clearly what the problem is. I miss the answer that's right in front on my nose. Need money? Go get a job. The store was supposed to get me money. I tried it. I did my best. I didn't work. Stop doing the same thing. Change. Well, I did try so many things. Young kids, birthday parties, mental / learning deficit groups, scouts, ugh! Exhausting. I just want to put in my hours and get paid.
I really have to keep in mind what my idea of success is. I have friends, I have a house, I'm happy alone, I'm excited to be learning new things, making new friends. What else should I have to accomplish to be a success? Well, that dream of a vibrant store, becoming a well known, frequented community studio would have been nice. But so what. It's still a place that has room to grow. And now it won't be a drain on me. I completed the furnishing of it into a fully functional art space to be used by all.
At one moment I feel so fortunate that the unfolding of events have lead me to a brilliant new course of action. The opportunity to do art therapy and get paid handsomely slipping away, the next opportunity offered to me, but a two hour drive away! And now I'm either digging myself into a new hole or making the best lemonade ever. I don't know. I'm a master at fooling myself into an unsteady comfort zone; generating my own endless stream of hope. Didn't I want to get a real job? Not struggle to pave the path? I am lost.
I rode my bike today. I rode it as fast as I could. I could feel the burn in my thighs, my heart beating fast, my lungs a bit stiff, the crisp on my face. My body was warm with the effort. It was only a mile ride, but a nice way to incorporate exercise into my day as I rolled into the friends meeting. This was my third meeting. It's growing. There are kind people there. I love the silence. And the still bodies at rest. I like not struggling to wonder if I'm in the right place. Home?
I miss Bob. Bob, where are you? Now I realize this might be a unbalanced relationship. We only saw one another in my shop. It was easy for me, just to welcome him and serve him tea; swap a few stories. I never had to reciprocate. Never had to demonstrate an interest in him. The reason it's unbalanced is that he's married. Technically. He tells me tales of his feats at remodeling his "man cave". He corrects me and says, "I think of it more like a kingdom." He's physically separating himself from his marital partner. The struggle for independence.
Many married folks envy my independence. They tell me this with a bit of shame. Even my best friend, a well married friend revealed this. It's the road not taken. Then joy not available to them. Stan said the same. I was quick to point out this commonality. The problem with marriage is that you can't have it all. You have to chose the security and the predictability and the almost false loyalty over the adventures of singlehood. Singlehood looks so easy and in many ways it is. But there is a huge hole in the fabric of unwavering stability.
Isn't this the question every procrastinator asks: Why do I keep putting it off? This is the rainy weekend I've been wanting, so I could tackle all the computer work, the newsletter, the blog, the budget, the correspondence. Geez. No wonder. None of that is fun. It makes me want to retire and do nothing all day AND NOT FEEL GUILTY. But then what kind of a life would I be living without working? Today, I made an effort to be mindful of my thoughts. Most of them are work related. My mind will be a blank when I quit.
Almost caught up with 100 words; actually a thousand words today. I read a good article today by Gilbert: a clarification of hobby, job, career and vocation. I've never had a career until now. She says it's the choice to interact with the world and make the interactions matter. A job on the other hand, is a way to get money and also has honor. A vocation is a personal, sacred mission or oath you assign to yourself-or maybe it's God given. A special talent to be encouraging I think is mine. Helping where I can through introducing art.
Can I do the newsletter after I finish this? Can I string together 6 little paragraphs with pictures and helpful tidbits and push the button and broadcast it? Could I just do maybe one little article for the night and do the easy stuff tomorrow? I'll just type the stuff I've handwritten into the computer, change some wording and DONE. I'll include a picture of my new 2016 art journal as an illustration. I'll find one link to include about??? something. It will be shorter. Maybe all will like that. Just do it. No one knows the original format.
It's Sunday evening. It's TV night. I always relax into the evening; sitting pretty on my couch waiting to be entertained. It has become my day off ritual. A happy pleasure. Why not? Most nights there is nothing on that I want to see. I spend my time willing my body to do some housework--to keep up with necessities. All is good. I'm reaping the rewards of a week well spent. Lazy is good sometimes. Where's the popcorn? I've got to pop it myself I guess. And I will! Now, on with the many shows. No interruptions. I'm busy.
Did I write already about my chair? The new linen color recliner chair that now graces my living room next to the fireplace? It has sturdy woven canvas like fabric that withstands cat claws. I've covered it with an afghan so that the cat's muddy feet won't make prints on it. It's a fantastic addition to my comfort here. I'm pleased to have purchased it. The customers at Ikea and my neighbors here on the street helped my transition it from storeroom to living room and from a hope to a reality. I feels like an oasis away from doldrums
I have a lot of people helping me. There's J. my mentor/consultant. Kent, also a business consultant, a pro bono lawyer ready to write a contract, an art therapist willing to hang her paintings and help guide me with professional matters. I have a lot of friends that give quiet support, an old friend S. who guides me too. Also T. who gets to hear all my ideas, even when I don't want to hear his. The good thing is I'm not doing this alone. I am very fortunate to have so many helpers. I am blessed with friends.
I just sent my cousin an email birthday card. She's 61 and very republican. Her husband died about 5 years ago. I think she's lonely. Her sons will be moving out of the house soon and she'll have an empty nest. Most of us get to live with someone, then without. They are two kinds of life. Compromised freedom with interior rewards, and unlimited freedom with no one to share it. Balance is always the key to contentment. And variety. And gratefulness for whatever situation one finds oneself. And purpose, which can be the simple work of kindness toward others.
At art therapy last time, I realized that I spend a lot of mental energy wondering if I'm living life correctly. Seriously. Even at my advanced age, I'm still questioning my permissions, my work ethic. It's like I've swallowed a parent and I'm still struggling for approval. To combat this I'm making an effort to be a supportive friend to myself. When I start to doubt my accomplishments of the day, I challenge it: Wait! I did this and that and I review my steps of the day with a positive spin. This balances out the negativity. I'm doing OK!
I've added something new to my store. It's gallery shows. It's a chance for community artists to show their work, have a party, introduce art to the neighborhood. It brings excitement, variety, a chance to mingle with people. It invites new customers into the store. Also, I'm going to take art to the masses. I hope to interview some nursing homes to find out if they want a mobile art class. They'd be so easy for me! I already have the materials, I have the experience, the credibility, the signage, it's a piece of cake. This might be the thing!
Why are social workers so prevalent? It seems like 60 percent of the women my age are social workers. What did we have in common when it was time to choose a profession. The bleeding hearts club. We wanted to help. We were the listeners, the ones that wanted to figure out how, what steps to take to help. But I don't think social workers have a good reputation of being able to sway policy, which is what is needed for real change. Why is that so hard? Politics and social workers are different entities. They often are at odds.
It's the Iowa caucus that has the nation's hopes in the forefront. The polarization of the nation is startling. A fiction writer could imagine that people might geographically relocate into their own camps. Would a civil war ensue? Or maybe no war but a division. Which of the new countries' people would prosper? I think it would be a division of wealth more than anything. The rich would get richer, the poor poorer. The culture of the people would be more distinct. Just my guess, the poor would be resilient and content, the rich would be miserly, uncompassionate and mean.
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