Starry Starry Night

VanGogh   Whoever created this wonderfully inspiring display of  Van Gogh’s work set to the haunting voice of Don Mclean should know that it has uplifted my spirit countless times!  Enjoy!!

Pieces in the Puzzle of Life

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Some years ago my husband and I led a youth art project at a local arts festival called MOJA.  We called it We Are All Pieces in the Puzzle of Life and it was a very engaging and interactive community arts project.  I have been thinking about the many ways the arts have the power to inspire creativity in children and to build self-confidence. I am in the midst of summer arts camps at work and as the kids painted their sets for a play I remembered the puzzle art project.  I am enjoying the kids, even if I am tired from all the messy fun of making art!  While I don’t think I could teach children all day long, it sure helps me appreciate those who do!  The joy of watching children learn and the adventures that result from their boundless energy is the reward.  It’s not just a trite saying that children are the future, they truly are!

Children Before the Ravaging

Children Before the Ravaging.  This is a powerful article that I hope you’ll read, a reblog from Image Journal by Tony Woodlief.

Organizing is Good for the Soul?

 My question:  Is organizing good for the soul?

In my full-time day job as an arts coordinator I am always organizing art materials, artists, and details ad nauseum to help provide arts programs, mostly for kids.  While I love this work my patience does wear thin at certain times of the year that are overwhelmingly busy and I realize it is because I have little energy left over to take care of my artist self and my creative space.  I am always striving for balance, good Libra that I am, but I believe it is very possible to obsessively over-organize and thereby squelch creativity by constricting the free spirit with an imbalanced need to control.   I am happy to say that I am making progress in my studio after having combined two rooms of my art and writing stuff into one!  This side of the room is the art corner.   The other side is for writing but it isn’t done yet.

Yesterday, tired as I was, cleaning up after week one of visual arts camp for kids, I thought how much I am in my element being around kids and art supplies.  I loved doing art with my own kids on the kitchen table and working as an art therapist.   However, the struggle to balance giving to others with taking care of the Self is something I have to work at every day.  I have lost sight of that balance so many times in my life.  Nevertheless, organizing the art supplies at work inspired me to go home to my room of my own and finish making it an irresistible place for me to be and to create!  If I can organize at work, surely I can organize at home!  You’d think so, but for a few months I’ve just been overwhelmed by the piles I didn’t know what to do with and just didn’t have the energy to face.  It has done my soul good to tackle one pile at a time, a little bit at a time, and though I am not finished yet, I am getting there.  I hope the unclogging of my creative space will open up the unclogging of my artistic soul!  I hope it is the beginning of a rebirth of a long suppressed desire to honor the artist and writer within; to give her space and time to work!

Finally, I just might be ready to read Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.  When I picked it up years ago it was smothered under the demands of working and  mothering and ended up on the bookshelf.  Virginia Woolf’s book title is a metaphor on what it would take for women writers of that era to achieve their potential in the male-dominated literary world of 1929.  Even now in 2012, it is still a struggle to find the time and space in the midst of working and mothering to devote full-time hours to writing or art.  She said, “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”  And that is really just the tip of the iceberg for her thesis written at a time when women had just been granted the right to vote nine years earlier.  We’ve come so far in some ways and yet I have so much to learn!

Queen Callie’s Court

It has been quite awhile since Queen Callie has made her presence known in my blog. I live with her every day and see her as part of the house like the same green couches we’ve had so long we barely notice them. But the Queen will not be ignored! She darts in front of me when I first wake up and walk bleary-eyed down the hall to put her food bowl within reach before I go to the kitchen. If I don’t listen right then she meets me at the glass paned door between the dining room and kitchen and meowhines while I’m making the coffee until I obey her and give her the food bowl. By the time I’m ready to land carefully on the green couch with my coffee in my  big black souvenir mug from New Orleans, she has taken her place on her royal throne above my shoulders on the back of the couch to look down on me and glare over my shoulder at my computer screen or my journal pages, watching my fingers type or my pen scrawl across the page. If I don’t pet her soon enough she lowers a paw to my shoulder and flexes her claws INTO my skin, snagging my white robe, and hurting me like shot needles demanding attention.

Of course, the world revolves around HER and I am her servant here to grant her every wish. If I just give in and put my hand up to stroke her head and scratch behind her ears the world is a beautiful place and she purrs her contentment loudly. But when I stop petting she starts jabbing and poking until I pet her some more. I don’t mind loving her, really, but sometimes she irritates me or hurts me too much and I have to scream at her to get out of the room just to get some peace or finish a sentence. I know some people like this, too, so demanding and self-absorbed that even the sound of their voice sets me off (remember the Seinfeld episode where Kramer hears Mary Hart’s voice on the tv and goes bonkers?).  Like a cat under threat of attack I arch my back in anger, the hairs on my spine stand on end, and I either pounce first or scram out of the room to hide. I think it’s called the fight or flight response and since I don’t like to fight I’d rather run away.

Anger is a signal of an impending threat, perceived or real, and though I don’t like to be angry sometimes you just have to respect yourself and stand up to the demanding queens of the world throwing their piercing jabs at whoever will stand there and take their poison. When I regain my composure I remind myself that hurting people hurt people and that I’m not perfect either. That doesn’t excuse their behavior, offensive as it may be, but it helps me forgive and have compassion. Queen Callie may THINK she rules me but I will play her game only if I decide to and no matter how deep her claws dig into me she can’t draw blood unless I stay there long enough to let her.