Dave with the Diamond, The Language of Love

As the baking heat of summer abates, I walk along the waterfront. The experience is so much like the last sip of mango juice, the last kiss of a loved one, the fragrance of the remaining rose standing singular on the stretching branch. Knowing that it is drawing to a close makes me open up my senses all the more.

I think to myself, “Soon you will not see the loose, relaxed bodies of family tribes strolling with a shared rhythm. Soon the skin, arms and legs will be hidden away for winter like putting away seasonal clothing, these exposed limbs. Soon the evening air will not be perfumed by the release of fragrant flowers like a retelling of the narrative of the heat soaked day.”

Sunset City Park

Sunset City Park

It is in the denouement or in the anticipation that we most awaken to our own lives. Studies have show the point of greatest happiness is when an individual is working toward a goal. Olympic athletes report a loss of joy at the end of an event, even if they have garnered a prize.

Quo Vadis losing the way

Quo Vadis losing the way

The ability to be awake to my own life is and has been my focus for several years. How do I stay in a place of contentment even as the seasons change, through the trajectory of plans, effort and achievement? How do I allow emotions, deep grieving memories like forest monsters be recognized and acknowledged? Can I remain aware of what I hold in my body and of what I hold in the grinding fine mill of my brain?

Feel, release. Listen, release.

When I wake up the dreams are tangled around me like dark sheets. For decades I would have nightmares about being killed. The residual fear of my father coming in my room would be presented to me in dreams. My subconscious would be saying, ” Deal with this. Feel this.”

For decades I would awaken sobbing with my heart already shattered.

Through my vision quests; through my sitting at the feet of Shamans, teachers; through my listening to broadcasts from life coaches; through my reading DIY reconstruct your life books I have come to a place where there is an opening.

My eyes unclench at the start of day. I am encased in sadness like a gray, smudging cloud and then I move to gratitude. I put my hand on my heart and thank it for being so committed to staying alive. My heart has kept me here. I thank my heart for being so open and child like. The spirit I am wants to be in love, to share love, to be innocent and expectant. “Thank you, heart,” I say.

Seeing the love

Seeing the love

I lay my warm hand on the place where I held cancer. The place where I have growths removed every five years and I say, “You are healthy. You are fully alive. You live in freedom. You are beautiful. Thank you body.”

As I swing my feet over the edge of the bed, I envision jumping off of the edge of a ledge into the day.

“What kind of a day will you have?” I ask myself.

“Any kind of day you create,” I answer.

“Oh great. Then, it will be wonderful and full of love.”

How do I know my focused study is working? Because there are times when I do not hear a dozen crows and fifteen monkies all chattering in my mind at once.

How do I know my dedication to feeling and healing is effective?

As I walked along the boardwalk a little boy under the age of two was being pushed in his stroller by his parents. He was wearing a wonderful, expensive fedora. I did not smile at him. I did not stop and make faces at him.

I only thought, “Dude. I see your spirit. You are one rocking dude.” He broke into a smile and put his hand up to high five me. His parents stopped, looked at him. They looked at me and were puzzled. And then we all laughed.

I went to the bank and behind the counter was an attractive, thin, very stylish new bank clerk. His name tag said: Dave.

“Dave,” I said, “are you new here?”

“No,” he responded, ” I usually work in another bank.”

I thought how much I liked him daring to be so trim so stylish so unmundane. And then I saw the gigantic engagement ring on his left hand.

“Oh,” I said, “aren’t you the lucky one.”

“I know,” he said, ” and it isn’t because of the ring.”

We smiled together about his love, his claiming who he is in the world, my recognizing how wonderful he was. We just stood smiling together.

As I walked down the street, I saw a car enwrapped in love. On the windshield were two generous bouquets of gladiiolas. An aluminum heart balloon saying, “I love you,” was on the windshield. And balloons, balloons so pink and plasticy were floating from all of the wiper blades.

t I love you ballon

I am so grateful when I see the bravery of love. I am so lifted up when I see two people kiss on a street corner, exchanging tenderness. My heart sings when a baby waves at me.

t power feet

The nightmare world of helplessness, having my bones broken and my spirit invaded are giving way. These days I step out into a world of surprising, magical moments of love. Thank you Dave for wearing your diamond and sparkling bright.

It is not a new season. It will not slip away like summer. It is where I plant my feet. Now.

My thoughts still attach to the narrative trajectory… anticipation, tension, release but I am thankful that I can be aware of what is appearing on my “reality screen.” And sometimes, I can even switch the channel.

The illusion of Stillness

Mundane, repetitive, stuck, cycling gray
bare cutting into the sky
branches dividing the flat planes.

Over two yards a tree
is busy with dead small leaves
standing texturing the view somewhat.
I seek continuity of
over and over the same
gestures, habits of delusion.
Mind full of thought crows
brassing sounds
comparisons, directions
attempts to keep me scared
and small.

One day looks like the next
a river’s flat silver surface
all turbulence underneath
where water meets the rocks.

To be still, quiet and accepting of one state or another is a monumental practice. My urge to weave a story keeps presenting itself. Today after a month of taking my laundry to the laundromat because some mysterious parts are no longer functioning in my second hand washing machine I see my mind is at work. Up there, in the tree head I weave narratives.

We create turbulence

The higher place is where I try to stand. I call it the balcony view. I picture myself standing on a balcony looking down at my thoughts as if I were a cultural anthropologist and the primitive society was ME.
As I bagged up the laundry, I checked in. So far so good. No story. Just putting the bags in the car. Then I remembered the times when I was in Europe doing laundry and as a grad student. So here was the version I was constructing: I was on an adventure. I was going to a new place.

At the laundromat, I realized I had no soap. That made me laugh. It had been so long I guess I imagined the soap just trickled down like pixie dust from the soap fairy.

When I went next door to the deli/grocery store, a sample pushing woman approached me in her pseudo maid’s outfit lofting a silver tray. After exchanging information about my gluten intolerance, she ran off to check on the two miniature hamburger shaped chocolate eclairs. They were “safe”. She gave me both.

On the way back to the laundromat, I breathed deeply, looked at the sky and thought about how wonderful my day was. Two amazingly delicious, sugar saturated chocolate eclairs melted in my mouth one after the other. The machines were gigantic and tipped on their sides could be a power smart car. Fast. They were done in 20 minutes. I put the wet clothes in the car and drove home singing to the Glee CD I am determined to wear out.

So I did create a story. It was a story of finding the adventure in the flat places of winter. It was a story of seeing my being alone as being free. It was a story of unexpected pleasure when I dropped the turbid drama weavings, the cat’s cradle of catastrophe.

The washer still isn’t working. The repair men went away but after looking at the back of my dryer they explained that the luke warm hours of turning are a result of bad venting. Because they came today, I will have both the washer problem and the dryer problem resolved.

As I sit here with the tepid light coming in my window, I know that there are more things that will appear to be unrepaired, too slow, stultified which are in fact only incubating. Under the shell, under the soil there is growth going on. And that is a story that I allow to dance in my head.

When are you “in” and when are you an “outsider?”

Much of my life I have felt I was an outsider. While others might have had safe homes, mine was a war zone. I was kept home for three months out of a year I see from my grade four report card most likely from being bruised so badly I couldn’t be in public. When I did attend school the possibility of frustration leading me to tears was a haunting presence. The report cards exclaim to my parents, as if they are the school’s ally, that “Cherie will frequently burst into tears for no reason.”

The dyslexia which I only discovered after it appeared in both of my children, caused me to have difficulty learning to read. I would sit quietly and listen with interest when my father read G.H. Well’s Outline of History out loud to me for hours at a time. So the failure to read was obviously not a sign of lack of intellectual curiosity or a lack of depth of mind.

leaving the fire and darkness

My teacher in Grade three kept me in at noon hour to work with me until I made a break through. Bless her persistence. It is when I first knew that one caring person could change your life. It is probably when I knew I wanted to be that teacher, that person for others’ lives.

However, the social outfall of being abused, emotionally weak (with a hyper sensitivity to others’ energies) and having learning disabilities lead to a deep sense of shame. I retreated into myself. Others would bully me, isolate me and my response was not to defend myself, to step into my power but rather to shrink even further.

What effect has this had on the landscape of my life? Having a quick, perceptive mind locked in a shame-filled personality is a formula for failure.

Although I scored in the 98% on the standardized National Education Exams for all grade 11’s and all grade 12’s in the United States, I had few close friends. I could not speak out freely in class unless I was suddenly overcome by my inner power. When people talked about oppression of national minorities, about denying power to others, with a mindless philosophy that would lead to pain for others my mouth would open. I would blurt out something that I didn’t even hear or register. It was like channeling. My teachers told me I was brilliant. Classmates would come to me to ask what was going to be on the test or just before an exam ask me for answers to something they could not decipher. But that was one of the few times they spoke to me.

I know now that most of the failure to be seen was mine. Having taught acting classes for 25 years I have seen how those who carry pain and low self esteem make it almost impossible for others to show affection and to include them.

Where am I now? Today when I saw that artists had created banners for a street in our town, it came back. The full hit in the gut pain of being outside, excluded, not validated, being invisible. After working as an artist almost daily for 18 years, my work is not on display.

Is it that my work isn’t considered important? I am not selling. The work continues to be shown in secondary venues. Even though I garnered awards in the European shows in Florence and Vienna, I lose money when I have booths at local fairs.

Because of my spiritual beliefs and because of the interior plastic surgery I have done on myself in the last two years I am able to sit with the deep grief I feel coming up. Again, my body tells me I am less than others. I am not included. I am somehow damaged and a lesser being.

These stories are old stories. They are the stories of a little girl who is dressed beautifully and sent off into the world. But under her starched puffed sleeve dress are bruises on her arms, finger prints in blue and green.

Under her bow on the back of her dress are marks and fractured bones.

So my job, my practice is to step back and watch the reaction in my body. My lesson at this time in my life is to be honest with myself.

I am neither an insider nor an outsider. I am an artist who is called to create by some higher urge. My visual art, my poetry, my plays, my voice rising in choir, my dancing and spreading my arms out to take the space are my soul’s work.

These people whose banners are flying have spent time building a network. They validate one another in this tribe of artists. Social equity results in more exposure of their creations.

It is the hours over coffee, the showing up at events, the building a following that pays off. Literally pays off. So this is another in the lessons that I am learning.

I also realize that I can never quite trust my interpretation of events. As within so without, my spiritual teacher reminds me. How much of my reality am I creating and how much of my reality am I misinterpreting? As Buddhist teachings say, “If you see Buddha, kill him.” So being able to drop the story and just know feeling excluded hurts. Feeling invalid and invisible hurts.

The work is to feel that in my body, sit with it as if it were a baby as Thich Nhat Hahn says. Let it cry. Then move on to make my life more satisfying. Grieve it, feel it then heal it.

The questions always comes back, “Who are you when you are authentic?”

I am still struggling. Perhaps, because of my family history my social development is not very far along. But today, this day I am working on the problem that life has given me. My heart is open to those around me who offer me friendship.

I am learning that if a friend needs me, to stop everything I am doing and just go be with that friend. I am learning that I no longer need to isolate myself. I will never show up at an event or in life simply to push my agenda or to garner financial gain for my art. It is against my nature.

But perhaps, I can begin to see that by being genuinely caring there are connections I can make to others. That I don’t need to hide any more.

And as for bullies. Yes. They exist in the cultural community as well. But now I am strong enough to either turn around and leave ( if the energy feels negative) or to speak out against the attempts at manipulation. I am no longer afraid to speak up. And I don’t need to zone out, to disconnect and allow the channeling voice to speak. I can speak from my heart in my work, in my friendships and in my life.

Living with Intention and Love

I might be growing up. Gratitude for my lessons.

One day, my banner will be waving for all to see. I know this.

Art Business Blogs: Do they Help?

Planes of Gold 40 x 40 $1040 mixed media on canvas

Planes of Gold 40 x 40 $1040 mixed media on canvas

I have frequently visited and learned a great deal from Art Blogs.

Other artists teach me much about defining what it is I am doing

in terms of the business of art. However,I still feel like it is an

up hill battle. Most of the Art Biz is about being brass balls as far

as I can see.

There are those I know who have a depth of talent

that makes me gasp in wonder. The technical ability is stunning.

They have a committment to a vision. The work ethic is in place.

They do not cycle in and out of creating but are caught up in

the passion. What stands in the way of taking that talent

out and showing it off is frequently just shyness, an

interest in not taking the focus off of others and a feeling

that if they promote themselves too loudly,

they are being unduly unkind or competitive.

So when does being an artist shade into being an

aggressive, self-promoting salesperson? When does

selling start to become the focus ahead of working on

oneself and one’s skills? When does being a salesperson

start to erode being an artist? It is an interesting question

and finally, one has to ask oneself what the goal is.

When the exploration of self, technique and expression

become secondary to standing in the market place ringing

a bell and yelling,” Art for sale. Come and get your art for sale.”

is actually taking the time and energy away from inspiration

it is a creativity killer.

I was listening to Lips and his bass player from ANVIL the

Canadian heavy metal due who were the first and best in

the metal scene. They inspired all of the major “successful”

metal bands. But they missed out on success.

They have mundane jobs and have garnered little

notice until the documentary ANVIL: the documentary

on ANVIL was produced. In the interview Lips said

something that really resonated with me.

He said that if you are depending on your art to

make you money, you have to give up being an artist.

If you make your money in another form, the art

can have a life of its own.

It reminded me of the advice that I had read when

I was taking a M.F.A in creative writing poetry at

Western Washington. If you want to write, don’t

get a job teaching writing. It just sucks the soul

out of your own writing.

How do those with amazing talent such

as the musiciansin ANVIL get overlooked

and others with repetitive,bubble gum

music make it big? The question is about

walking the thin line. Staying in the “light” and

operating from a deep, soul driven place. Yet

somehow being able to capture moments when

a profit can be made from the beauty

that you have been given the blessing to produce.

Stepping back and looking over the landscape

of marketing and being an artist, the final words

is about staying focused on the act of creativity.

Staying active and being willing to constantly

learn from life and from others while at the

same time believing in that which you are called

to create.

Make sure that you know

what success means for you and that you are not using

your art to fill a hole in your self-esteem. That is

like making love to a ghost. Very little fulfillment

in the romance can ever be achieved.

50 x 38 $1235 mixed media, brilliant experience on canvas

50 x 38 $1235 mixed media, brilliant experience on canvas

For me, the main work is always internal.

Knowing what I want to say and why is the

main focus. Feeling the security of being

alright in myself as I work my way

through a competitive world is the major difficulty.

How big is yours? Ego, sales, voice, bell ringing.

The struggle is internal as I recognize that my sense of self

cannot rely on what others reflect back to me.

It is not a competition as my husband

so often reminds me, “Life is an exposition.”

As we live, we expose more and more

of who we are. To ourselves and to others.

Now I have to go do a mail out publizing my

writing workshops for UBC-O Continuing Studies.

After all, the bills have to be paid.

Energy Gallery juried show

I just received the information that all five of my submitted images made it onto the juried Energy Gallery site. The members of the gallery have strong, amazing work so I am very pleased. Hopefully the pay pal will be installed on site tomorrow and I can begin to load images into the other on line galleries that I am supposedly…. running. But seem to be running away from.

Tonight is the opening Kelowna Art Gallery Members Exhibition entitled Interplay between Self and Form. I am bone tired but have been reading my art marketing books and need to get out and expand my contacts.

Marketing, oh gossamer fairy of wealth and power, alight on my shoulder, whisper your magic to me, lift me beyond the pedestrian Monte Python Middle Ages stuck in the mud to my eyebrows mentality. I fly in the air. Everything is light…. see the light.



Wednesday with good intentions

Sore, tired only three hours sleep. So many shows to get ready for and just no energy. I will open the windows and begin to move around. Getting web sites cleaned up and updated is so time consuming. Making mistakes and having to unsnaggle them is frustrating.

How to be patient with learning? Mistakes just feel like failure. How much more soothing to just stay with what one knows. But that way lies shrinkage with age. Lighter mind, muscles not sore but like a dandelion flower, it means one is going to seed. The white hair, like sun drenched halo on a stem. Waiting for one gust of wind to scatter the self. I choose to be uncomfortable and more substantial. My body questions the choice.

My mind, like a tree full of birds, has a thousand things to say about how I live. Shhh!

Learning and aging