Friday, July 31, 2009

Again, we begin anew?

We have such frozen images of ourselves from a time when we were younger, sassier, and had a better memory. Lately, when I see a picture of myself with the gray hairs that twirl up because they are wool-textured; in clothes that look a little mom-esque; and with a little bit of weariness around the eyes, I do a double take because the image before me doesn't match the internal vision. In my mind, I have on red cowboy boots with a mini-skirt and I'm dancing so feverishly, not one cowboy can keep up.

So, I begin anew with a new level of energy, new clothes, and some hard-earned wisdom. But sometimes I this morning during my pilates class. Pilates teachers have some universal characteristics: hip workout clothes, a can-do attitude, and a chipper voice when they are asking you to do something physically abnormal. Today's instructions:

"Listen, if you have a neck injury keep your head on the mat as we circle our legs, cross them mid-air, and gently keep them an inch off the ground."

I think to myself, "Wow, those poor elderly clients who have neck injuries are going to miss the full impact of this." Three seconds later, as I am dutifully following the instructions, I feel a stabbing pain in my neck and wonder if I'm going to throw up on the burnished hard wood floor. That seems like it would ruin the flow for everyone, so I try not to. I continue the ab exercises without the modification. At the end of the class, I feel thrashed and not rejuvenated. As I am walking out with my buddy, it hits me: Wait a minute, my two herniated discs COUNT as a neck injury.

We have to see ourselves as we are, not as how we used to be, or want to be. I am no good at this, really and I can give no assurances that I will keep my head on the mat next time...but I will recognize that she is talking to me and I will smile a smile of defiance, not ignorance.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Leave 'em Alone

I have found that the best way to encourage my children's creativity is to have the supplies on hand but no hard and fast rules about what they should be doing with said supplies. My son attended a Harry Potter camp this week and came home on Monday with great excitement: "Mom, I have to have a broom for Quidditch." I remember the scene from one of the first movies where Harry gets knocked off his broom in a storm and I feel grateful that the camp version will probably be played on the ground. Field trip to Target to pick up the appropriate broom as the one we own is, apparently, much too modern.
My son looks at the broom discerningly and states: "Quidditch brooms are not yellow. I need to paint this." Now, when I impose an art project on him, he finishes it in 3 minutes and has no connection to finished product. This time, it really looked like he was performing an operation of some sort. After the second coat, he asked me to paint "Nimbus 2001" in yellow and he pronounced it workable for the upcoming tournament.
Every evening he worked on some project for camp because his house was assigned points for each homemade item team members made. He made a hat, a wand, a crest, and a beautiful sign out of an old ski box. The amazing part of this story was that he found all the supplies and asked for no help. I was a bit stunned to not be consulted as the resident artist.
So the finished projects, although a bit rough, were all him. His pride of ownership was evident and his house won the Cup. I take my wizard hat off to his teachers who set up such a beautiful arena for those campers to shine...all on their own!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

So, a few small things are happening on the health front. I have been diagnosed with a PFO, which is a small hole in the septum separating a couple of the heart chambers. No big deal, except that it allows unfiltered blood to shunt back before it is cleaned by the lungs. It is a beautiful system, the body and it is a shame that we become aware of the luminosity of it all only when things go amiss. Anyway, this whole shunting business leads to an increase in the risk of strokes. So, I have become a patient this summer. I think this whole situation is the universe/God/Buddha giving me a real look at where I am on the Zen Wagon:

Universe: You feeling pretty good about yourself, spiritually? Let's see, meditation, found a spiritual home with a Buddhist minister, couple of retreats... Not bad, not bad. How about your compassion for others? Oh, you're a social worker? That must feel like you are contributing something. How about recycling, how is that going?

Me: Listen, I'm in pretty good spiritual shape but I am pissed off at being a patient, thrust into the medical world...I'm not sick. I take care of other people...I listen to other people talk about hurting. This isn't the best fit for me. I tried to leave the emergency room at 4:00am but they wouldn't call me a cab, no doctor has a sense of humor worth half a damn, and the johnnies, well, they make you look sick.

Universe: Hmmm, so you are at peace when things are going well but are struggling against the reality of being human?

Me: No offense, but being at peace isn't going to get this done. I think it is full warrior time.

Universe: Who is the warrior charging up against?

Me: Again, no offense, but if I were in the mood for Zen koans, I would plunge back into "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". The warrior has to go up against the system...the insurance company, the bureaucracy, the doctor who is more interested in his upcoming vacation than meeting with the patient.

Universe: How is the meditation going?

Me: I haven't meditated since this started. This takes a lot of time, it is like a part-time job, sitting on a cushion and emptying my mind of all this, it doesn't make sense, it is all there waiting for me, anyway.

Universe (with great compassion): You have fallen off the Zen Wagon.

Me: (with sadness) It didn't take much.

Universe: It doesn't take much to climb back on.

So, back to my cushion. As always, the warrier is going up against herself and my opponent has been known to fight dirty. She is from Texas:)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Heaven in a field

Those of us who live in the northeast have access to one of the best antique shows in the country, the Brimfield Antique Fair. This show takes over the small town of Brimfield and features hundreds of dealers. I have been faithfully attending with my "Not this Time" crew for over 15 years. Our name stems from this little treasure, an old doll that was missing an arm and a leg. My friends were incredulous that I was interested in a piece that was so ...broken. I had a vision for her, a collage that was going to represent the gulf between the realities of most women and the idealized version that we see everywhere; in movies, magazines, and playing in our heads. It is those unrealistic images that break us, in the end. With passion, and most likely a bit of heat stroke as the summer show is brutally hot I whirled around to my friends and stated vehemently, "I have talked myself out of beautiful tables, folk art, and my grandmother's china patterned plates. Not this time, not this time. I am taking her with me." They were bemused and concerned, as good friends will often be. Sadly, she was no match for my then 5 year old daughter, who promptly broke her head off. Now things were dire, indeed. Still, she represented something. I took her image and had tshirts made for us that state "Not this time". She has become a talisman for me. Brimfield is like that. You go to pick up a fragile, delicate antique and end up with something that transcends itself. I will make the collage somebody with my daughter who, after all, established which piece was the most important.

Monday, July 27, 2009

55 Dollar Sock

I think all crafters have one item that they overstock, hoard, or just generally can't get enough would think this would be an item that is integral to one's main artistic endeavor. In my case, the two things do not go hand in hand. As I am writing this, I am making a mental note of the things I create the most: cards, altered albums, clothes for my children, and jewelry. What do I have the most of? Yarn. Everywhere. Now, I consider myself a big knitter but really I just have many projects that are on the needles in various stages of completion. So, you can add yarn bags and baskets with half-finished projects to my list of items that keep my craft room looking well-loved but chaotic. My favorite item is one sock. It is so beautiful and the yarn was 20.00 and I believe the class to learn to knit socks was 45.00 so this is a 55.00 sock. Now, the problem is the class only lasted for one sock and the wonderful teacher periodically went off the reservation when it came to following the written pattern. She usually said something like this, "this is an OK way to do it but we are going to do it this way...more complicated but much nicer in the end." I tried to write down her instructions, but I was madly knitting to try and stay up with her innovations. That all adds up to one sock. A sock I love dearly.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Symbol for Everything

So this is how it goes...every single time. Two weeks before an event, you feel lucky, perhaps even smug that you have reams of paper to choose from, approximately 75 stamp sets, and new pigment colored ink that should glow in a luminous way on the paper. Yes, you are going to make a card for that special someone and are they not so very lucky? One week before the event you are in no hurry, it is better not to rush the creative process and there are so very many options to convey the depth of your feelings and to match the symbols on your card to the core of their personality. The day before the big event, it is probably time to start narrowing down some of the possibilites.
The morning of the event, when you have to drive about an hour to the event, and the kids have decided to go outside and play in the rain and this means a change of clothes for all and your husband is asking if you have masking tape which has nothing to do with anything, you realize....I DIDN"T MAKE THE CARD. Still, you have M's voice in your head which will not allow you to buy a card ever again so what options do you have?
The card design that symbolizes everything that you can make in two minutes. Birthday? Dove represents our hopes and dreams for you for the upcoming year. Thank you? Dove represents how much lighter I feel with your gifts and your help. Our thoughts are with you? You bet they are.
So, some reading this will have received this card this very intentions for you were much grander but you really did get the best I had in the moment...and we had a great time in the big city.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Begin Anew

I think you can overthink your first "real" blog post so that is why I have been posting on my fake blog for a couple of months. However, that is a bit cowardly, so here come my reasons to take the plunge:

1. Blogging has some karma to it...if you enjoy the blogging world, you should probably dive in and contribute yourself.

2. My friends are so very creative and such good writers that I want to shout their praises from my very own blog.

3. This is yet another opportunity to join all the amazing artists and contemplatives who are looking for some spiritual fortitude in a world gone slightly digital and slightly mad.

4. Parents need to chat with other parents in every venue at their disposal. Just this week I have been given the tip of having a checklist for school mornings to break up the monotony of my pleas to hurry up. Also, why not ask my book-loving son to turn in his book to me at bedtime so he doesn't read until 1:00am? Simple but not in my cognitive set at the time.

5. There is new stuff to, for instance, the above picture needs to be moved to my profile and not stuck randomly in my first post.

6. Writing allows one the opportunity to think about what is important and what will be remembered. In the chaos of it all, I want to stop and pause more often.

7. One of my spiritual teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh, writes and talks about the importance of "Beginning Anew" in each moment and honoring each moment. I think bloggers get that!