contrails and foxtails
a wispy wave
to the morning

~

It’s the last day of February, 2019, and the ending to my practice of writing at least one haiku per day for National Haiku Writers Month–always February. I missed only a couple of days including yesterday. The practice of writing a daily haiku is more of an exercise in taking a closer look at moments that often get ignored or diluted in busy-ness. It’s also a great practice in articulating and editing just enough to give these moments breath and respect. For all of this and more–I am grateful.

~

beginnings and endings
false starts and fine finishes
always in the editing

 

 

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Face/About Face

January is coming to a close and with it my mindful writing posts for 2019. I have not focused too much writing about my visual art mainly because I feel (the operative word here) that I’m in a slump sorts. It is the black vortex that all artists face, sometimes after a particularly productive period and sometimes not. It is the most difficult aspect (for me) to deal with: an uninspired, I don’t know what I want to paint, unchallenging and utterly bored/boring  bump in the road. During these drought-like periods, painting often feels like a chore and production does not stop altogether, however the output or finished piece is not exciting to the artist. Pablo Picasso famously stated:

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

And so we do work and plow through these lulls which can last for weeks/months and sometimes for years. Every artist in every genre who is truly a creator, explorer and seeking to grow her/his artistry must work their way through the dull-as-a-dishwasher cycles to breakthroughs. For a fledgling artist this can feel like a first crushing heartbreak and that feeling of “oh no–not again” for the veteran creator. It’s not something you ever imagine could happen when you first fall in love with your vision/passion, and you never want, expect or prepare to end. But end it does bringing with the angst–necessary change for greater creative growth and a deeper more nuanced love. Inspiration is another archetype that walks along side us often at her own quirky pace. She must also find you hungry and willing to surrender to her fire.

The painting below seems to have evolved on its own. I don’t know where it came from, but I’m guessing my fiery muse had something to do with it.

~

until my brush sneaks past me
lost in the paint

 

Walking With Depression

I woke up this morning in a full-mode depression after weeks/months of a low-grade turn. I felt so low that I could not think of a single thing to write about today, and far worse, I cared less. The loss of hope, caring and spirit is the gut-sucker here while inspiration or lack ideas, words or images is secondary and merely a symptom. I had thought that the remedy needed was a get-away artist retreat or residency for a few weeks or even a short day-trip, otherwise tagged as an artist’s date (by the wise Julia Cameron), or simple break in routine. All of which are luxuries that do indeed help, but in the long run–luxuries do not fully replace daily nourishment or modest natural joy.

So I sat at the edge of my bed and uncorked the valve of tears and let them flow, and in doing so, I also decided that I cannot ignore or cleanly push Depression off to the side. I need to address and walk with her, Depression, and just let her be for what she is, despite the fact that I don’t even know what she is or why she visits. She simply takes up some of my time, space and energy. With that surrender and the tears came enough release and the recognition that we have to walk side-by-side sometimes, I was able to reset and begin a functioning and even noteworthy day. I noticed the underside of the half moon and its very real roundness, and began to note other small graces. I emerged from this darker side, and while driving, started to thank my team of Angels and Guides. I asked for a sign–calling it a gift for the first time to show me a bit of the magic in my life. Just as I was finishing the thought, a car turned quickly into my lane in front of me, and its license plate held My INITIALS ALL IN CAPS (yes as license plates are want to do). I smiled broadly and took this trivial delight as the sign/gift I asked for. I have not seen my initials on a car plate in decades, and since it’s all about timing–I felt blessed and gifted. I also began to tap into Inspiration, another of many walking archetype partners that I engage with. I had lost sight of her, Inspiration, this morning and now she is back. And though Inspiration is far more companionable than Depression or Grief, we all walk together taking turns to share and navigate the trail that is life and the artist’s way.

~

mubblefubble–walking depression into poetry

All In A Day

Yesterday was challenging and interesting:

The snow from the day before changed to rain/sleet coating the trees with a thousand points of sparkling light creating a fairy wonderland.

3-4″ of slush had to be plowed.

A branch fell on the live power line on poles across the farmhouse front lawn sparking and causing a huge explosion/bang/smoke so much so that a driver passing by called 911 (emergency). I ran out to see a huge smoke bomb, however while the blowup on the line dissipated, neighbors gathered, police and a fire truck arrived to check it all out. The power went out for about three hours as temperatures plummeted and the wind roared. Thankfully the dog and I escaped to a friend’s house until the power/water/heat went back on.

Fractured ice, the size and shape of finger splints, were propelled via strong winds against the sides of the house and ricochetted off windows all evening into morning. The sound was eerie, disturbing the dog more than me.

I watched a  rerun of The Big Chill (sic). The furnace was working overtime as the windchill plummeted to the single digits and down to -2 degrees.

I watched the two overtime endings of two of the most action packed playoff football games that a non-football fan like me can remember and actually enjoy. I had absolutely no doubt that Tom Brady would do his Brady downfield rumble in the last two minutes and was happy that his opponent had the chance to do the same in an amazing display of skill, tactic and brouhaha. Kudos to all the teams that played hard–win or lose.

It was a full Wolf Moon/ full moon eclipse.

I listened to a podcast on working with prayer in order to egg your team of Angels/Guides “off the couch” and into action and to seek “process guidance” instead of “revelation-guidance” in order to co-create miracles and growth.

All in all–quite an extraordinary ordinary day of smallstone moments to connect and be present with–some very alarming and anxious and others quite soothing and healing.

~

fractured fairy tales in a thousand points of light the alchemy of prayer

 

A New Pair of Boots

There’s always an upside to what is perceived to be a major downer. We are waiting the arrival of a storm that potentially may turn into a nasty snow/rain/sleet/ice event–all in all– a disruption from our regular routines and sometimes special events. “Harper” may very well pass us by or turn mostly into a rain storm just a few miles south of here. In any case, I am at the ready with a new pair of boots called “Ice Grippers.” They have retractable cleats built into the soles that can be flipped into action with a special red key made for this purpose only. It is a creative and brilliant alternative to having to stretch tight rubber cleats onto a another pair of shoes or boots or whatever and save one from swearing while attempting to keep fingers intact and wiggle into the cleated shoes that are now a half-size smaller. Ice Grippers are warm boots and cleats all in one package. No more carrying an extra pair of rubbers or shoes to change into on non-icy indoor surfaces. These boots are Canadian designed and manufactured in Europe, and I am happy to put them into action. The only problem may be in not losing or forgetting the key to open and close them.

~

one fix gives way to another pickle yet to be determined

 

The Poetry of Snow

The forecast calls for just a dusting in the northern region of our state, and roughly about six inches through the southern counties especially along the coast. WHEW! Another one bites the dust–snowstorms that is. So far through mid January 2019, enough rain has inundated our area as to cause some severe flooding, however no weather of consequence to cause “let’s clear out the bread, milk and chips in the supermarket aisles” type of forecast. Potential for snow measuring in the double digits has metered into dull winter rain. And for the first time in over six decades–I am relieved. Normally, I look forward to the swirling snow, its softening of the landscape’s edges and the quiet beauty and stillness a snow affords. Also, the adult in me enjoys the change of pace/let’s not go to work today/let’s bake cookies or make soup instead, knowing that for the duration of the storm–there’s no going out anyway. It has always been okay that shoveling snow (my car is not garaged) follows the day off. Recently however, the reality of lifting/pushing/scraping heavy wet snow off and around the car, porch and driveway is in fact very tiring. I am lucky to have machinery at the helm for the big push and cleaning, but there is still much hand-shoveling the tighter areas.

Which brings me to the point here–the wondrous child in me misses the excitement and forecasts of nature blowing and bending the atmosphere and the mind’s eye. I miss the big-kid who always enjoyed the day-after white-outs and slow return of “normal” traffic and daily schedules including bird life. I love the look of snow-covered evergreens and winter tree branches holding and shedding snow and hearing it softly fall. And I know that snow is important to the ecosystem and water supplies–a fact that is too often lost in the current meteorologists lingo until conditions reach critical proportions.

Perhaps it’s about the extreme precipitation and other weather lately that diminishes my desire for a storm or two. My memory still holds the view of one recent winter of shoveling a long path for my large dog to get to get to her relief area over and over. When you have pets that are used to the outdoors–there’s very little wiggle room or time for changing the routine. Still in all, falling snow is magical, represents a change of pace and creates lovely scenery. I never feel cold when shoveling or moving around. Frankly, the cold bothers me more on damp and windy snowless days. Who knows what the rest of the winter will bring here. In my mind though, a few inches of swirling snow now and again in January and February is a welcome friend.

~

a new pair of boots with cleats in the closet my younger self waits for snow

 

 

 

Non-Acceptance vs Rejection

When entering a juried competition–there is a fine line between non-acceptance and rejection. As artists we all feel somewhat rejected when our submissions do not make the cut. I’ve always tried to take it less personally and frame it as an editorial decision that simply precludes or does not have enough room for my work. I have even used work that is turned down as an opportunity to re-evaluate and improve. Even so–there is a letdown period. Until the notice is finalized, there is always hope and vision for approval and welcome. Thankfully for moi, the letdown lasts only a few hours, and I’m on to something else.

I tried to look up other words for non-acceptance and they mirrored rejection: rebuff; exclusion; elimination; veto; pass (on); eschew; and my personal favorite: nix. I cannot imagine getting a letter passing on my work beginning with the statement:

“Dear So-and-So, thank you for submitting your work, however we are nixing your piece(s) at this time.” This would make me smile.

As a visual artist, (or in any field), there comes a time or opportunity along the journey to show your work. Not all artists choose to do so. I have been delighted to participate a few times in juried shows and hopefully will successfully participate in a few more. I am selective as to which shows to enter, always trying to aim higher, and as a consequence, my exclusion rate is also higher. As a poet, I have sent numerous poems to journals and experienced the same feedback and slight setbacks. In hindsight, my best work came from rewriting and sharpening the poetry that was “eschewed.” I was lucky in those pre-computer-era days to actually get comments that helped me grow my work enormously.

So today, I got nixed! The sad part though is that there was no letter of regret, however sugar-coated it might be, thus insinuating even for a short time, that there was actual regret of not choosing my work and that there just may be an acceptance next time.

until the final nay visions of grandeur or at least a crumb of regret