RSS Feed

Tag Archives: creative

Am I Really an Artist? (or) Why I Need to Paint

Posted on
Am I Really an Artist? (or) Why I Need to Paint

Seeing as I am a writer, I am much more confident in communicating through written works. When it comes to face-to-face interactions, I do my best. I try to listen, have a sense of humor, and display compassion. And that works pretty well… until it comes to talking about myself.

All those questions! The most difficult of which, “What do you do?”

I can usually get through that one with a confident, “I’m an independent grant writer.” But sometimes…. sometimes someone gets me good, “Are you an artist!?” They ask it with such enthusiasm and genuine interest and somehow my answer is rarely confident. “Well….” “Uummm…” at best I squeeze out “I’d like to think so!”

But then comes the question I fear, “What kind of art do you do?”

“Ummm…. I’ve made some jewelry.


and did some photography this winter…”  winter woods

“And well… I used to draw.

The Axis. Graphite. RP 2003-2004.

The Axis. Graphite. RP 2003-2004.

And in high school I painted…”


(I don’t even have photos of any paintings!)

All the while in my head I am waiting for the person to say, “Yeah but, what are you working on NOW?”


“But why?”

“Because… ” (and continue with a list of excuses)

I’m tired of the excuses.

I manage a gallery, but have the least amount of work displayed there.

I coordinate creative art classes, but don’t share much of my own creative talent.

Sure, I’m scared and hesitant and busy and reluctant.

But I need to start making it a priority.

Because I am a artist! (I’m sure of it!)

I dream of a point in my life where I say, “Oh I can’t do that today, I’ve got something planned for this afternoon…” And then cut to me working in my studio, on a piece of art.

I could do it.

It could be a priority.

I could pick up a paint brush and get started.

I could let go and play.

I could work on something everyday, if I wanted.

I just need to make the choice!


Letting Go and Clearing Out

Posted on

There are so many parallels and polar extremes in our daily lives. Sometimes they are so obvious that we cease to recognize them. But even so, strange things happen in patterns to me, to you, to friends, and neighbors. Some call it coincidence, serendipity, or synchronicity. These are the things that are too strange to explain. This is the stochasticity of the universe at play in our lives. It makes life completely unpredictable, and in a way that it is worth starting each day new.

Each day has been unpredictable for me for the past week or so. I just finished up a challenging grant project, and am doing a fair amount of coordinating, management, and physical labor for two (or three?) additional projects. This is freelance I suppose. It’s up to me to get these projects done, but in a way that I see fit. There is something exciting about doing the things I need to do in a way that works for me, but there is something unsettling about it as well. It would be a joke to think that having a flexible work schedule leaves room for more chaos. If anything, it allows room for order to emerge.

This is a good thing, because order has always been a challenge for me. I was raised with little understanding of organization. And as I strive to understand my perfectionist tendencies, I realize the polarity that I have created within myself. I seek perfection in the final product. This is true, especially when its related to writing, art, and aesthetics. I realize that it is up to the creator to say when. Any of these could go on forever. Perfection is not attainable if the objective is to share the final product.

While I seek perfection in the final product, I am rather chaotic in the process. Doing tends not to be about getting done, it tends to be about exploring. I want to see what unfolds before me. I rearrange many times, see what works, and play with possibility. It drives my husband completely crazy. “What are you going to do today?” he’ll ask. “Um, probably whatever I do.”

A strange pattern arises in the parallel I experience with what seems to be a new chapter in my process of healing and recovery. I am beginning to see the impact of my choices on my physical well being in very clear ways. Drinking a Pepsi with dinner leads to leg cramps in the morning. Wearing my favorite wedge heals while carrying and moving things around their space leads do ill aligned posture and positioning on my pelvis, resulting in pain from my back to my feet. Staying up late, trying to get a project done does not help me feel my best in the morning. For the longest time, I would have taken these discomforts as a part of life. But now I am seeing the connections. I don’t want to feel bad. I want to feel healthy, and I have the ability in my own choices to do that.

It is a small step in bringing order to my life. I’m through with waking each morning feeling bad in some way. I’m through with abusing or neglecting myself. It’s up to me to know when to say when.

The parallel to this experience in physical being aligns with physical space. We create our own environment that we live in. And for some, this is easier to create a space they are comfortable in than others. As I tend to do things with spontaneity and chaos hand in hand, my environment is not as tidy as I would like. When I get busy, I lose my keys, my glasses, my purse, my phone, and on and on. I feel a bit of hope in that this doesn’t happen everyday. I feel a bit of hope that I can discern patterns that impact my physical well-being. It seems possible too that I can identify why/what/how/when I do things that result in an uncomfortable living space.

I can feel order emerging, slowly. As my grandfather told me once when I asked him why he had very little hair on his head, “Grass doesn’t grow on a busy sidewalk.” I think that might be applicable here too. This month marks the third year that we have been in our home. That is the longest I have called one place “home” in over twenty-years. Even amidst juggling projects, life has settled enough to maybe, just find a pattern that works well.

Wish me luck today as I finish cleaning my home office- which will probably result in returning displaced items to their rightful spaces, thus cleaning and organizing bathrooms, kitchen, and bedrooms as well. More than anything, I hope to be able to let go of items that no longer have a use in my life. Like texts from graduate school, receipts and lists from last summer, notes and notebooks from previous projects and jobs. Only by letting go of this clutter in my environment and my mind, can I truly hope to see what the future has in store.

The Creative Balance of Work and Play

Posted on
The Creative Balance of Work and Play

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.  ~ Albert Einstein

16mar07 058

For several months now, I’ve been working through a wonderful book, The Artist’s Way. It was written more than 10 years ago with the intention to help aspiring creatives work through their blocks. I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if I had gotten my hands on this book when I was 20 years old. I suppose I wouldn’t have been really ready for it. I suppose the universe works out as it should. Because here I am now, continually engaged with this read and so honored to be able to share some of it with my readers.

The book is broken up into weeks, with varying themes, tasks, and reflections each week. Some weeks I start out strong and move right through with ease. Others, I find myself working through bit by bit. This week’s topic is “Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection” and I have been chewing on it for quite some time.

In this chapter, Julia Cameron helps us explore the toxic habits we have that disrupt the flow of creative energy.  My toxic habit? It’s workaholism. And Cameron exposes every little bit about my habit (the one I am trying to break) in this chapter.

In a way, it was a breath of fresh air. A year ago, when I began trying to restore balance to my life, I sought out books to help me realize that I had an unhealthy relationship with work. I was addicted. But the resources I found tended to be written for men in business suits who should take more time for their golf swing rather than their office. No thank you. I needed something that could fit for women, who felt the need to prove themselves, who didn’t want to fail in the face of patriarchal society. Women who were struggling to balance, who had a list of should-do-for-others that was must longer than the list of needs-to-for-myself. I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. I knew there must be many others, men or women, who wanted to redefine their relationship with work to better their lives.

In time, those ideas lead to the beginning of this blog. I’m so glad to have made the connections with others and gained a supportive readership. Thank YOU!

The challenge with redefining one’s relationship with work is that a work addiction is not the same as a drug addiction. It’s not socially acceptable to avoid work. Even when I took a few months off, I was surrounded by work at home. I certainly didn’t feel like I was getting sober. I wasn’t really having fun. I wasn’t sure I knew how.  Cameron highlights the paradox of workaholism so well,

Only recently recognized as an addiction, workaholism still receives a great deal of support in our society. The phrase I’m working has a certain unassailable air of goodness and duty to it. The truth is, we are very often working to avoid ourselves, our spouses, our real feelings. In creative recovery, it is far easier to get people to do the extra work of the morning pages than it is to get them to do the assigned play of an artist date. Play can make a workaholic very nervous. Fun is scary. “If I had more time, I’d have more fun,” we like to tell ourselves, but this is seldom the truth. To test the validity of this assertion, ask yourself how much time you allot each week to fun: pure, unadulterated, nonproductive fun?

Fun? What am I supposed to do with that? How? With who?

rachel, in her natural habitat

I am getting better with this. Seriously, I am. Sharing experiences with others has been the key to learning how to have fun. Building friendships. Exploring opportunities. Laughing. And to the displeasure of my children, singing. In fact, just yesterday, I galloped down the road with my 3 year old. I don’t know if anyone was watching. I don’t really care. Because we had fun. He laughed and so did I. And the best part– I didn’t even get hurt.

For a long time, I had a deep fear of fun. I was terrified that if I let go, just a little too much, that something bad would happen. As if I had that much power in the universe! Ha! But, still the feeling was real. A feeling that if I let responsibility slip just a little bit, that bad, terrible things would happen as a result. The feeling is still there, I realize as I write this. But it is negotiable now. Not all-encompassing or consuming.

 winter woods

The mind is capable of so many things. Our perspective can lead to our ruin or our triumph. It all depends on what we believe. For so long, my work determined my worth and my schedule. It was a viscous cycle. I didn’t do the things that I needed to do for myself when I needed to. I would say, “Just let me finish this up.” or “When I get through this deadline.” or “I just don’t have time.” I believed those statements. I saw my work as a building block to get to the next point in which I could be happier.

Cameron is very clear about this, she says, “Workaholism is a block, not a building block.”

It is amazing for me to share all these bits, to see just how far I have come. Because truly, each step has been a challenge. The path doesn’t always feel easy. In fact, most often I feel like I am not doing anything at all. That’s where this book has been really great. Cameron encourages us to take time each morning to take time to clear our mind and write in what she calls morning pages. Even if it feels useless and silly, those morning pages are the way in which we draw a map for ourselves that includes both where we have been and where we want to go. I love her reminder,

“To write is to right things. Sooner or later— always later than we like— our pages will bring things right. A path will the waterfall

Somehow, I find that a path has emerged.

The pieces are starting to come together.

I admit though, it is still scary. It feels unknown. I have several projects lined up in the next couple months. This is a good thing financially. But its a scary thing psychologically.

It will be up to me to find that balance.

To do my work, without overworking.

To make my needs a priority,

Like eating nourishing meals.

Taking time to meditate, write, read, and create.

Spending time outside, with my family, animals, and plants.

Being spontaneous enough to have fun. Pure, unadulterated, nonproductive fun.

Being content with who I am, where I am, at that moment.

Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things. ~Edgar Degas


Shared Inspiration

Posted on
Shared Inspiration

After nearly a full week of writing, I’m aching for some discussion. Or perhaps some good old fashion show and tell!

I truly believe we are all creative beings. It is how we express this creativity that makes the world a delightfully variable collection of human endeavors.  This post is an opportunity for my readers to engage and share. I’m looking forward to knowing what makes your world go around. What inspires you? When to you feel that fire of life? How do you express yourself? Do you draw, write, act, play music, make old things new, work with clay, or sing? Do you enjoy cooking, caring for plants, or finding a quite place in nature? Do you gain a sense of inspiration for reading others work or visiting museums and then developing your own ideas? What is it that you do that helps you feel at ease in the world? cropped-dscn7677.jpg