Van Gogh recently. This quote made me smile: "If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes. To be good — many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm— and that’s a lie… That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity. Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility."
A blank canvas staring at me with a sort of imbecility...which is completely eliminated when I am painting over something else. A mistake. So clearly there is nothing to lose by painting over an already ghastly painting, and the fear is gone.
But there are more reasons than conquering the imbecilic canvas to launch your paint at things with abandon. The book review began with this quote from Amanda Palmer: "Everyone in this room is going to be gone pretty quickly — and we will have either made something or not made something. The artists that inspire me are the ones that I look at and go, ‘Oh my god — you didn’t have to go there. It would’ve been safer not to — but, for whatever reason, you did.’ And every time death happens, I’m reminded that it’s stupid to be safe…"
In the wake of the passing of John McCain, a man who wasn't afraid of danger and who didn't mince words, Palmer's words should inspire us all to get out there and make something today. Something awfully bold and brazen. You don't have to go there, but you'll be glad you did.
Mind you, this is a new approach for me, this waiting. I've always been racing toward the next thing, good and bad. It was uncomfortable at first. Slowing down, sitting with it, letting things be. Action makes me feel in control. Waiting feels like surrender.
And it is. But SO WHAT? Surrender is the right response when we aren't in control (which we rarely are, it appears). Surrender gives us time to build our strength for the next thing. Which will will surrender to. But it is a cycle we are called to participate in over and over again. A maypole of dancing in circles.
"Like musicians who wait in silence for music to come out of the forest of their hearts..." - Mark Nepo.
I am waiting in the woods for the music. If I am very, very quiet, I might catch the first opening notes.
opened to a chapter called The Story Behind the Story. Oh synchronicity! And this - "We live in an era where our attention is so scattered that we just skim events...But storytelling has always been a deeper, more connective art, preserving the story of life that's at the heart of all news. The most important stories show how we're connected." Here I am, after a month of being housebound and feeling more connected than ever to many of the people in my life. Why? Because there is time in every day to share our stories. Is that a luxury? I used to think it was. But maybe it is a necessity instead.
Sharing our stories is necessary to really see each other and to be seen. Nepo writes: "We all long to be accepted. And we all struggle with being invisible..." I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the people who have taken the time to know my story and make me feel seen.
The Storyteller's Apprentice
(an illuminated novel by Dana Kumerow. Illustrations by Brittany Tate and Jen Walls)
Except from an early review by author Karon Luddy:
"Sitting alongside Samira in the wagon, Arella’s dented sense of self makes her long to find her own kind, her own wild tribe. And luckily, Kumerow takes the reader along on an adventure of vast growth and transformation that delves deeply into Arella’s psyche to reclaim her birthright as a genius in listening to stories and eventually into telling stories herself. And perhaps against all odds, Arella becomes herself."
Pre-order your copy of The Storyteller's Apprentice at www.thestorytellersapprentice.com/shop
There is wisdom tucked inside each of our inner children. Spending the week with mini-me in the studio revealed a few interesting and unexpected pearls...I wonder what other treasures she holds within?
The pod is more than just an odd sighting...it is a symbol of the near end of summer and the looming beginning of school. Vacations draw to a close, backpacks appear in stores and school buses begin practice routes before the first day of class. It does not matter how old I get or how grown our children are - I still get a little sad at the end of summer, as if all of our playtime will be on hold for ages.
And that is reason enough to head into the studio and to throw some paint around. Want to join me?
"Big Brother" - mixed media on 300 lb watercolor paper. Deckled edges. 15" x 22". Ready to frame. Available here and at Artfinder.
"Be wary of surveillance."
This advice was given to me repeatedly over the last two years. Ever since the day I was hit by a car while bicycling in my own neighborhood, big brother has been watching me. Yep, you read that right. I was hit by a car, yet I was being surveilled. Because apparently in the great state of Florida, you are guilty of insurance fraud until proven innocent. That's how epidemic fraud is in the sunshine state.
It is a very unsettling feeling as a victim. There you are, busy going to doctors and adjusting your lifestyle to accommodate injuries, struggling to cross busy streets without fear and watching your bicycle gather cobwebs in the garage, all while trying to think positive, healing thoughts as you prepare for the inevitable start of spinal surgeries. And, apparently you are supposed to watch out for mysterious surveillance people who are trying to prove you are faking it. I even received this cautionary advice again in the first days after surgery....as if I could do anything but drink from a straw and use my arms like a T-rex to avoid straining my cervical spine.
I come from the midwest, where people pretty much are who you think they are and mostly try to do the right thing. My family had a pretty tough ethical standard (my dad was a notoriously bad exaggerator because it was just too close to lying) and the thought of committing fraud would be untenable. But insurance companies don't know me or my family.
This painting began with a lot of frustration and sadness wanting to be expressed...but I followed the paint from a watery watercolor abstract to these brothers I never had. Instead of feeling surveilled, I felt watched over. A completely positive spin, thanks to the miracle of paint and process.
If you are drawn to the lion as your spirit animal (even if you are not a Leo sun sign), you face challenges head-on and often assume a leadership role. Opportunities don't pass you by, as you jump on them immediately. You find and use your voice in challenging situations.
The Chinese Buddhists believe lions safeguard humans from ghosts and spirits, so your big cat spirit animal may be protecting you from unseen negative influences.
If you are trying to reclaim your space in the world or in your social circle, the lion is the right power animal for you to call upon. Both lion and lioness are fierce protectors of space and of freedom. Those with a lion spirit animal are often devoted protectors of religious freedoms and the right to make personal choices.
The message of the lion is one of prudence...not to overdo things, to balance and weigh activities. (oh boy oh boy! is this message for ME?) They are the protectors of hearth and home, which includes de-stressing and relaxing.
Let's spend a few minutes with the lions...the only social cat group (the others are solitary), as one researcher asks "are lions lazy? Or just really patient?"
This painting and the photo that inspired it have me contemplating the symbolism of dark towers and castles - fortresses which can keep out or keep in. I am guilty of building "walls" around myself at times, and also of not erecting any walls at all when really I should have for my own protection. And then there is the last name my husband gifted me...Walls. Hmmmm.
Walls keep us safe and dry, sheltered and warm (or cool here in the land of incessant sun). But they also keep out fresh air and sunshine, adventure, opportunity and friendship. As long as we have a bounty of windows and doors in our metaphorical walls, we can have the best of both worlds. Keep this in mind if your fortress is formidable! Not everyone is a fearless Seababy who will storm your castle to be sure you let love in.
Jen Walls and her imaJENation