Saturday, September 29, 2012

Playing Inside

 It's a beautiful Saturday, cool and bright. Everyone is outside except me. I'm "playing" inside today. My studio is littered and layered with several projects going on all at once in different phases of completeness. There are the teeny tiny little porcelain animals that are patiently awaiting their new perches. The old wooden thread spools given to me by my Grandmother are painted and sanded in fun colors but still tacky with paint. There's the embellishments too!  Ahhhhhhhh... the embellishments! Tiny buttons and paper flowers, pearls and thee smallest rickrack I've ever laid eyes on are waiting for me to tinker and explore. The wooden cigar box will need another layer of happy red paint before I can sand it and stain it and line it with the vintage children's encyclopedia pages. I'm excited to FINALLY put it all together with the antique toys I bought at the auction almost a year ago. It's a delicious whirlwind of fun, contentment and whimsy. It's like a magical little realm in here today, in my studio. This is when my soul sings, my imagination does cartwheels and my body feels comfortable and at ease.  Life is Good!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Writer's Block?

I am sitting here and then I am pacing and then I am outside and then I am looking at the mess surrounding me and then I am back again sitting here. I am limitless in my day (or at least until 3:00 when the boy gets home from school) and yet I am stuck. The piles of laundry and the piles of dishes and the piles of bills are sucking up the energy and greatness inside of me. I want to paint. I have ideas spilling out of my head. I want to tear the papers and layer them and paint over them and swirl colors around them. I want to feel that desire with the brush in my hand, the need to spill forth with the smoothness and the textures and the brush strokes. My body aches for it. But I am in stagnant staleness. I am morphing or at least trying to and yet I can't seem to oompf it out of me. I'm not sure what it is holding on to me, holding me back and away from what I WANT to do. I feel jittery and anxious and irritable and so instead of balance between house and home and art and freedom, I am chained to my environment and self. I MUST get out of my head. I must break out of it. The mess... I can't find my space. I can't breath. I am trapped here. I want to swoosh it all away and look at a blank canvas around me and under my hands. The balance is off. My head is off. Every little thing I touch is a challenge. My head and body are not in sync. Does it start with a simple unloading of the dishes? What if I pick up the clothes strewn across the floors? What would happen if I clean off my work space? Will that be enough? Will one action result in more? What is the worst case scenario? What am I afraid of? What is wrong with me? Why can I not push through this? Am I terrified of the greatness that I know that I have? Do I secretly know that I can have it all? Am I holding myself back? Am I sabotaging myself? The excuses that I lay out in front of me are not so huge, are they? Could it be as simple as the itchy shirt I'm wearing nagging me into submission? If I take it off will my outlook change? Why do I just sit here? I am overwhelmed. There is an elephant in my head... a HUGE mental block. I can't even identify it or describe it. It just sits in there like an iceberg. Cold and lifeless as big as a hell freezing me into submission and stillness. What in the hell is IT??? All this deepness and vastness and blankness and yearning lying within arms reach and I just can't get there. Why can't I break free, expunge myself, rise above it? What is IT? I don't think it is a simple as a "to do" list. I think it's uglier and smellier. I think it's rotten and ugly. I don't want to touch on it or be around it, but it is RIGHT THERE. Identify. Identify. Identify. Zone in on. Destroy. Obliterate. Explosive annihilation. Self doubt? It feels more sinister, buried deeper. WTF Are these my whispers? They just don't feel right. What to do? What to do? Pray? Bless the house? Therapy? Clean? Nothing seems to fit into the pigeon hole. I MUST PUSH PAST. I MUST PUSH PAST.

"Quiet down Sweet Child. All will be okay. Don't take this on. I am here with you."

I need to comfort her, that lost baby girl inside. She is capable and strong but she is so God damn fragile and she won't trust me. Why won't she come to me? Why can't I hold her?

Randomness. Clarity? Insanity? Thoughts expelled like vomit from a monster. It makes too much sense when I read it back. Writer's block?

Baby Me

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's Premiere Night Kids!

Tonight is that special night! It rolls around every Fall when the nights grow cooler and darker earlier, the night that I look forward to all summer when our lives have grown unstructured and chaotic. Premiere night on TV!!! I love the evenings when The Big Guy and I can snuggle on the couch or curl up in our bed together. Yeah, sure, we should probably be reading a book, reviewing  work or maybe even making love. But we are too stressed and exhausted to think... numb from the motions and emotions of the day. During the Fall/Winter months, when the shows are back in full swing, we can escape... easily and cheaply, just the two of us. We can giggle and laugh and have something to talk about that doesn't involve a schedule conflict, a Mobile Therapist, homework, or the latest outburst. Our family plays by different rules. The natural ebb and flow of  daily biorhythms don't pertain to us. We live life on the edge, a constant state of awareness and heightened alert. We try to predict moments several minutes before they come or we and them will suffer. And tonight... the night I was so looking forward to will not happen. The Big Guy and I will not get under our big comforter and I will not lay in the crook of his arm with my head on his chest and feel his leg against mine. We won't laugh together tonight. We slacked and didn't stay on top of things and the evening got away and so the tantrums are full swing. Homework was hidden to avoid it. Discovered too late in the evening for a pleasant experience. It's not dyslexia. It's Aspergers. 7th grade math might as well be written in Chinese. He can't plow through 25 problems without a fit. It's too much. Mental note... IEP Review... see if we/they/he can shorten assignments. Hopefully I will remember...

No rest for the weary...

Heavy sigh...

Maybe tomorrow. Thank God for the DVR.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I like JUNK!

I like love junk! I love buttons, old toys, dolls, rusty nuts & bolts, rocks, tarnished silverware, china, old cooking utensils, suitcases, fabrics, homemade wooden boxes, sea shells, jewelry, etc. I hope you get where I'm coming from. I LOVE IT ALL!

When I pick up something that's caught my eye, I try to imagine who owned it first. What did they look like? I can almost feel the young woman who choosing her silverware pattern to match her china or the beloved grandmother who used the sifter to make a favorite chocolate cake batter. I'm not sure if it's a weird E.S.P. kinda thing or simply my extraordinary imagination but here's a link to an article that I found VERY interesting regarding previously owned items

For the most part, I find it soothing and comforting to bring second-hand items into my home. It teaches my kids that something does not have to be fresh-out-of the-box or pristine to be loved and valuable and purposeful. It also gives character and history to our otherwise lacking new home.

The old saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure" has saved my butt many times when rescuing garbage from the side of the road. It's how I maintain dignity and respect when The Big Guy and my boys give me eye rolls and heavy sighs when I INSIST on turning the car around to inspect a roadside item with the simple letters F-R-E-E taped onto it. But what makes something trash vs. treasure? Is it as easy as "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"?

A very dear friend of mine was tickled when she inherited something very similar to this monkey (see pic) from her grandfather. A monkey playing golf??? It's brazenly displayed in her dining room in her beautiful Victorian home. REALLY? Really? Anyone else would think she lost her mind, but I know what this monkey means to her and I get it.

This is one of my favorite pieces of junk junque. My grandparents had this in their home while I was a little girl. I remember admiring it and thinking that it would be PERFECT for my Barbie dolls! My grandmother gave it to me when I moved into my first apartment. I sobbed when it accidently fell and broke. Many years later I found an identical one on ebay. I scarfed it up and proudly display it on my desk as a gently reminder of my childhood with my grandparents whom I miss terribly.

So tell me... what's your favorite piece of junk and why? Send me a picture. I don't care if it's crappy quality or from your phone. Be brave and put it out there for all of us to see!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

So, um, yeah... I got my NOSE PIERCED!

Let's draw you a picture... I was a brown-noser of life. You could eat off of my kitchen floor. I was a people-pleaser. I was a rule-follower. I didn't take risks and I certainly didn't leave the house without my make-up on. 

Then this really shitty wonderful thing happened! After waking up from a nap with half of my body numb and tingly, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

It took a long, LONG time but I slowly found meaning and purpose again. Things looked very different though. The vacuuming was overlooked, the kids clothes didn't always match and you couldn't walk across the kitchen floor in socks anymore (because you'd stick to it LOL). I went out of the house un-showered and homework didn't always get done but it was all okay. It was okay because we made it through. We believed that we would endure and then we did!

And then I did something so OFF THE WALL crazy! I broke all those damn rules and I excused myself from playing it safe and I got my nose pierced.  It was ridiculous and absurd and it was freeing and it was self-defining and it was crazy and it was fun. And YES, it hurt like a bitch. And YES, your boogers stick to it.

This was the first piece of art I created almost a year after I was diagnosed. The ink faded so it's difficult to make out the "RENEW" that is hand-stamped across the top. FYI... very important to use archival quality ink pads in art projects. LOL

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

She Appeared

I woke up this morning with enthusiasm that I shouldn't have had so early in the day. After yesterday, I was surprised I could get out of bed. Yesterday's material in "Flying Lessons" was hardcore. It brought out a very hurtful and negative experience that I had to push through. I arrived on the other side of the pain worn out and limp. I had to go to bed. My Big Guy had to pick up the slack with the boys last night while I was in and out of a deep sleep. I am certain that my brain was working overtime rewiring the negative event and making it okay. My brain is a forgiving thing. It has lesions on it and it still works beautifully. The Dirty Bitch (Multiple Sclerosis) has taught me what a vast, intense and loving and forgiving brain that I have. I am grateful.

After the monotony of the daily lunch making, I settled into my computer afraid to see what the assignments would be for today. Please not another day yesterday! I can't do it. Maybe Kelly Rae knew that she had to go easy on us after such an intense first lesson because by the grace of God... It was a positive and happy video. Gnawing in my mind was the voice leftover from yesterday playing over and over in my head.... Paint. Paint. Paint.

You see, I don't paint really. I don't put a brush to canvas and PAINT. I paint objects. I paint furniture and thread spools and old boards. I decoupage and stencil. I don't paint on canvas. So this crazy voice in my head was blasphemy, hog-wash. But I have always had this longing to just pick up the brush and DO IT. So... what do I do with this voice? The voice that is telling me to ignore the laundry and the dishes. The voice that is telling me that Candy Crunch Saga (my online game addiction/HUGE time waster) is out of the question today. I can't tell you why, what or how. But I yanked out one of the cheap canvases I had on hand. I bought them thinking I was going to "try it out" one day. I pulled out my box of 1/2 dried up acrylics. I was compelled to JUST FUCKING DO IT. (Don't mean to offend anyone with the Eff Bombs.) I was almost in a trance. Before I could think, I had the canvas covered in paint. I kinda remembered a tutorial that Kelly Rae had shared in a book. I was following what I remembered. My damn Gesso was all dried up. I never even opened it up. Never used it once. I had to improvise. I just had to DO IT.

I pulled out bits of scrap paper and just kept going, whispering to myself along the way to just trust in the process. I had to do this. It was almost like an out of body experience. I've never, EVER felt quite like this before.

Hour after hour. Layer after layer. Sanding. Painting. Ripping. Rubbing.

The words came easily, but have since changed.

Throughout the day I realized that every scrapbook class, each rubber stamped card I've made, all the sanding of furniture, it had all lead me to this moment. I had some skills that were making me brave enough to do this.

 I was terrified to touch the face. Maybe I will leave it white and empty and open? I can't do a face. I've never done a face before. I ignored the face all day. But then I couldn't anymore.

I learned today that a painting speaks to you before it's even finished. It guides you. It's layered. It's a process. It unfolds. 

She appeared from the end of my paint brush. She stared back at me, happy and content. I did this. My hands started shaking and I was so emotional. I had to quit. I had to gather myself and settle. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The "not your best" Box

Ouch! It STILL hurts but I'm going to share this story to put it out there, to release it. To let it go. I'm crafty. I'm an artist. (There I said it!) Many moons ago, before our "Oooops Baby" I started selling my art pieces (OMG Art pieces??? Who do I think I am using words like ART PIECES?!?!) at local stores and craft shows.

Personal plug here... I AM AN ARTIST because all of my pieces are "one of a kind". I never make items after items in an assembly line style. Each piece that I create has different feelings put into them. Different moods, dreams and beliefs set each piece apart from the other.

Anyway, I was elated and up in the clouds when I started to sell items here and there. I was tickled that people wanted my things! At that time, I was on a kick of repurposing old cigar boxes into special boxes for people to store "secret" or favorite things. One lady shared with me how she used her box for storing her jewelry and eyeglasses beside her bed. It made me giggle to think that she touched something that I created every night before sleeping and first thing each morning. Wow!

This is my table display from a very early show. Oh how I've evolved... a little! LOL

Well, my family and I were visiting my parents in Florida. I decided to give my mom one of my cigar boxes. I chose a pretty pastel one with roses that I thought would really go with the feel of her bedroom.

This is the box I chose to give to her. I loved the chip at the top of the box. It meant history to me, that this box was USED. I am attracted to items that show wear and tear and usage. Perfect pieces say "boring" to me. Anyway, I really liked it. I put the "T" in THINGS slightly askew to silently illustrate that things should never be perfect. The crystal knob that you see to the left is similar to the one that used to sit on top of it. I know that this box isn't phenomenal and it's really quite elementary, but at the time, I thought it was special.

So I presented her with the box and could tell right away that she didn't think much of it. If she did, she would've spent hours finding the right spot to proudly display it. I let it roll off of my shoulders. My mother's VERY particular and she is even more particular when it comes to her home and what she displays in it. I decided that I wasn't going to take this personally and left it alone.

A year or two later, while visiting my parents again, my mom and I were in her closet looking over her quilt collection. My mom has as many quilts as most people have underwear and each and every one of them is GORGEOUS. Soft and cozy, all luscious prints with peachy roses and sage ivy or tiny blue flowers. I am talking heavenly! With matching sheet sets for each quilt to boot! I spied, hidden under a quilt on the very top shelf my box. The box that I had given to her!!! So I took it down and jokingly said to her "Wow Mom! I feel like a kid again, brokenhearted that you wouldn't hang my artwork on the fridge because it didn't match the wallpaper." I was blown away when my mother said "I am not going to use this just because YOU MADE IT! It is NOT your best work and I am just telling you this because it's NOT and I know that you could do better." with which I rebutted that "Perfect strangers PAY ME for these boxes." My mom then went on a tirade about the small town that I live in and how none of the people that live there have any sense of taste or class and why would I WANT to live there... So, I shut down my normal way, the way I do when I know that I can not please her and then in my head I'm ushered back into my pre-teen years when I'm being told how much prettier I'd be if I only lost 10lbs. UGH! Let it go.............

The back of the box after I attempted to tear off all my work and start again...
 FYI... I'm eating my prunes again while blogging this. It seems to be an effective way to chew, chew, chew, swallow, swallow, swallow to get them down! I seem to overlook the revolting texture and consistency in my mouth when I am focusing on something deep!

The box flies back home with me to my tiny little podunk town that I lovingly refer to as "my home town". I tried to tear off all of the pretty little images that I carefully chose to decoupage onto the box. To my surprise, my decoupaging skills were quite good and I couldn't remove the images without just sanding the shit out of the whole damn box. The box ends up in a Rubbermaid tote labeled "Cigar Boxes".

Years later and just last week, I unearthed that box while organizing my new "temporary studio" in our new home. (My "real studio" will involve some demolishon work by My Big Guy and his right side man, my Bro in Law. It will be a timely and costly project so my hubs, the love of my life and the wind beneath my wings, INSISTED that I set up a temporary space so that I can get back to my art and sanity. God I love him. He knows what's good for me before I can even identify it and put it into words. How lucky am I? "Thank you Baby Jesus!" (quote from Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights... I am perversely attracted to Will Ferrell BTW.)

Look how I lovingly trimmed that rose to be decoupaged around the original label on the box! LOL And THIS was NOT my BEST WORK?!?!?!?!? WTF
Well, I pulled the box out of the Rubbermaid tote and it made it's way into my studio. I use it to hold all the crap that I come across that I can't seem to find a good place for. The box is labeled "Things" and that's exactly what goes in it now... Things that don't have a place! What's really cool is I now have the guts and balls to look at it and be reminded that it "wasn't my best work". But see, there's real beauty in this. I know the box is probably not my best, but it's still pretty. It still has value. It's still useful. Guess what else I put in that box? Mom's words. I don't know what to do with them just yet... or ever. They have no place in my life or heart or head so they can just sit there with the other junque. until I know where to put them. And the funny thing is... as I type this... I'm realizing that those words and that box are EXACTLY where they need to be... being put to use in a quiet way, visible, but tucked away, as a gentle reminder that things won't always be perfect and perfect isn't always what I'm after.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Flying Lessons

I am sitting here with my fingers firmly in place on Bubbles (My AWESOME Bubble Gum Pink hued Laptop) and staring at this blank screen that will soon become my very first blog post and I am intimidated as shit! Funny because I'm eating Sunsweet prunes... but that's another story altogether!!! I worry about my grammar. I worry about my spelling. I worry about my intelligence. I am trying to quiet my inner voice, the one that reminds me of my fears and is ultimately responsible for holding me back from giving myself the best life I could ever imagine. So this is where I will start. With how I got here, to this empty blog screen.

Life is mysterious. Life is full of miracles. I know this and believe this with all my being. So, I try to listen to the universe and watch for signs. Cute little story to illustrate my point. Bad day... sitting on my porch, feeling like an orphan with no one on my side, bouncy little butterfly flickers around my front garden. I tempt fate and God and her (my beloved Gram who God took out of my life before I was ready) and I said to the Universe, "Gram, if that's you... LAND ON ME!" Well, would you believe that that adorable little butterfly bounced over to me and landed on MY HEAD?!?!?!? It landed on my head! So, there you go... proof that God and Gram want me to happy and love me and all that warm gushy stuff that makes me tick!

Okay, before I get in too far, you should know that I am totally ADD. Seriously. I am medicated for ADD. Not sure if the Cognitive Function part of brain is on the fritz because of the nasty bitch named Multiple Sclerosis that I share my body with or if it's just downright dirty Attention Deficit Disorder, but... anyhoo... I've got it. So my mind is a beautiful mix of ideas, emotions, stories, truths and beliefs all whirled up and jumbled. I may bounce, but bouncing's good, right? Think Tigger from Pooh!!! I'm cuddly, so you have to love me!!! 

Soooooooo... thanks to my awesomely wonderful hubs, who I affectionately refer to as The Big Guy, I received a Kindle for Christmas. I downloaded this awesome (Yes! I'm an 80's girl. I use the word AWESOME a lot, probably too much.) book called Art Saves, by Jenny Doh. If I was a spectacular blogging Queen I feel as though I would put a link in here to quickly and efficiently skip you over to Amazon, but hey, I'm not there yet. Major emphasis on YET!!! Okay! Focus Michelle! I read a chapter in this book about a cool-ass (and I mean that with utmost respect and admiration) chick named Kelly Rae who talked about leaving "simple affirmations in public places for a passerby to discover..." and it stopped me dead in my reading! See, I'm really, REALLY into random acts of kindness so my soul raised it's eyebrow in curiosity. Well, let me tell you, after I saw Kelly's art in the following pages... I WAS BLOWN AWAY. This woman SPEAKS TO ME! 

So I gotta back up a bit. You must understand that I've only recently been able to utter the word "ARTIST" with ANY regards or innuendo towards myself. I can comfortably say that I am a "crafter", but an ARTIST? Yeah, um, NO! Hell NO! ARTISTS use fancy-schmancy materials and expensive brushes and they've gone to COLLEGE for that shit. An ARTIST is NOT some hilly-billy momma that enjoys the feel of cheap acrylic paints on her finger tips. An ARTIST doesn't use A.C. Moore's Bag-O-Brushes at 50 for $2.00. Okay, slight exaggeration. Anyway... I'm S L O W L Y getting used to the idea of being a self-taught artist. Major emphasis on SLOWLY. So...... for me to download a book called "Art Saves" was a pretty huge leap for me, putting myself in a higher league than accustomed. Okay, point being... I was stepping waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay outside of my comfort zone.

Well, this Kelly Rae person... she started popping up EVERYWHERE in my life. One day while I was wasting endless hours on Pinterest (O M G PEOPLE! What in the hell did we do before Pinterest?) and I saw this super-cool neato dresser decoupaged in vintage wallpapers. Hello??? Um... UBER GORGEOUSNESS. Well... guess who's blog that Pinterest post lead me to? KELLY RAE's! LOL So, after perusing her blog and falling in love and thinking that her and I could really be soul mates or at least BFF's I saw "IT". The cute little ad for "Flying Lessons". Flying lessons?   Huh? Weeks pass... I peruse Amazon. (I have a tiny addiction to crafty art books.) Notice if you use "crafty" in front of the word "art"... it saves your ass from failure!  Well, guess who showed up AGAIN in my tiny little red-neck world? KELLY RAE and her book "Taking Flight". 

 Kelly Rae kept showing up in world. Everywhere I went, she was there. So, I did something VERY rare. I ended up enrolling in this crazy class. I am taking FLYING LESSONS. So, this blog, the one that I created over a year ago and haven't touched since, where you are right now... yeah, well this is my first post. I'm learning to fly and I am headed straight towards my dreams!!!