Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Matters of the Body

Today I bit the bullet and scheduled all the doctor exams I needed to. Apparently, from moving, all my appointments are condensed into one area of time. I used to have things spread out... eyes in May, girlie doctor in March, etc. Now? It's all at once! It's like a giant influx in my mailbox screaming "You're getting OLD! It's time to feel bad about yourself! Come on down, schedule an appointment!"


On the other hand, I'm kind of looking forward to my eye appointment. I used to have amazing eyesight. I mean, fighter pilot AMAZING type eyesight. Now? I have no idea where it went, but it's totally not fair. I'm having to hold books farther and farther away. The magnifying glasses I got for close-up work have become my go-to, even though they're stronger than what I need, because I need something.

I had an appointment last February, but they did a poor job of helping me. As my eyes have gotten worse over the last six months I've just been counting the days until I could get someone to help me (my eyes aren't equal, so those store reading glasses give me a headache.) I have a new office picked out and scheduled. YAY! There's nothing quite like being in a poor situation to make you look forward to a doctor's visit you would otherwise dread.

I hate to think what would have to happen to make me look forward to the gynecologist. Maybe I'll just embrace my dread of that and be grateful. This is, of course, hard to do. It's bad enough in a doctor's office when they weigh you, but getting to be naked too? Yeah. Joy.

Speaking of body, it seems like any complaint you could possibly have (minus maybe eye sight) it always goes back to "Well, lose weight." I have this list of things that I'm going to push on once I get the rest of the weight off and say "See, I did. Now this is still a mess, what can we do?" I mean, how many things are supposed to hurt, what's normal for being in your 40's anyway?

I need a manual. They should have a manual like they do for kids. The pediatrician used to hand you a sheet that said "Your child: 18-24 months" and it had all sorts of data, what's normal, what's not, etc. Why did they stop that? I need one.

In other news, I finished my first piece for 2017. I have a lot in progress, but this sucker is actually done:

"In The Pink" 8x10, oil on stretched canvas (available)
I had to do a piece "inspired by a song" for a group auction. I had a whole other piece in the works, but I was forcing it. Then, the son "Dear Jessie" by Madonna just popped into my head ( I knew I had to switch tracks, because I felt a lot more inspired about pink elephants than I did about my other piece.

So, I worked furiously on this one, and got it turned around quickly. Lots of work, for what seems like a simply piece. But, you know... pink elephants. Totally worth it.

Hope you are all having a good week! Is it Wednesday? Wow, already?!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Blurry Vision

You wouldn't think that art and eating would be connected, unless you're a chef, but for someone who uses food the wrong way it's absolutely linked. I found myself struggling with food today. Which is stupid, because today is the first day I got to be on a sorta-normal schedule.

I woke up at 5:45AM (just typing that makes me want to throw something) and made sure the dogs were taken care of, that my teenage son was up (this is like a game show, wondering each time if I've won or caught myself a whammy) and then managed to run a two mile HIIT before I saw out my son stumbling to the door moaning about the unfairness of it all as he headed off to school. By 7:15AM I was showered and dressed and making an on-plan breakfast. All was right with the world.

Well, maybe not all. The morning news is enough to send anyone to the doctor to beg for an antidepressant (or a sedative. I joke, but every time I turn on the TV the world outside my door seems to be getting worse and worse. I really honestly do struggle with being informed and being sucked down into a black hole of oblivion and wanting to crawl back into bed because of it.) Still, I pushed forward and eventually made it to my studio. I even had a healthy snack (as I was supposed to) before digging in.

Where I then accomplished next to nothing. I feel like I'm forcing it, but I managed to finish the underpainting on a polar bear (that I decided to paint because I'm not interested in any of the actual projects I am supposed to be working on.) It'll look better when I switch over to color and add depth and... well, color.

8x10, underpainting in acrylic, switching to oils for the good stuff!

And then. Then I had lunch and ate leftovers I shouldn't have, totally bypassing my plans. It kinda went downhill from there, and I honestly just didn't understand WHY.

My daughter still hasn't gone back to college yet, so my routine is not totally normal. But... while I have mixed emotions about that, I realize that's not it. The house isn't clean, the laundry isn't done, the weather is warm and all the snow is gone (and that's depressing to me - I'll even have the windows open tomorrow because it's going to be 70.) Those aren't the reason, either. I'm not thrilled about the world, or certain aspects of my life... everything feels wrong, just slightly off of right, and that's infuriating. But, still NOT it.

Plus, I was on plan until I went into my studio. Heck, I did an ab workout yesterday with my lower body weights that has left my stomach aching like it hasn't in a very long time. I have BEEN ON PLAN even feeling like things aren't right. So what happened?

My studio. I know my art career is bugging me. I know I have ideas of what might make me feel better. But, I realize now that I lack vision. I feel like I want someone to hand me a project, a big all-consuming project that will focus me entirely on it for the whole year. As a self-employed business owner, the only person who can do that is, well, me. And as a responsible employer, I have to say that the employee in question just isn't ready for a big project like that. I don't think she could pull it off right now, she simply isn't there with her skill level.

Just look at this:

These are in-progress paintings that absolutely need to be finished. I have learned that as artists, we sometimes start paintings that will never be finished and they need to be thrown out or reused. These are the survivors of that process that need to be finished, rather than tossed. And I just keep adding to the damn pile! 

Some are old. The planets? Yep, that sucker is from way back in Vermont, a few years I think, but I know exactly how it's going to be finished (and I haven't done a thing about it yet.) There is a big commission piece in the center. There are other pieces I dearly want to finish and just haven't. And the polar bears are NEW additions that I have added to the pile.

I lack vision. I'm creating and starting work, but not actually finishing anything because I lack vision. No amount of cleaning my house, or organizing my studio, or stuffing my face will change that. (Although, to be fair, I didn't try cleaning. Because, cleaning.)

So, I ate today. Did I go crazy and knock back a take-out pizza? No (also, calling a stranger and having them show up with food kind of freaks me out.) I did hit the left over Christmas candy, but probably not to the tune of major damage. Just enough damage. Damage to cause a halt in progress, maybe a backslide ever so slightly. And that doesn't feel good either. Not irreparable, but hurtful to me.

I realize that I ate because I am uncomfortable feeling lost. Like a hiker in the wilderness with her trusty backpack packed with a compass, flashlight, food, water, tent and more - I have all the tools. I just didn't bring the magic wand. I have to work this problem myself, put the tools to work, suck it up and figure it out on my own.

I ate because I am uncomfortable with me. My art is me, and I'm lost and have been for a very long while now. My original plan was to just paint. That's it. Just paint new things, try new things, and voila! New me!

As much as structure makes me itch... oh for the love of sugared squirrels, I NEED structure. Dagnabbit. Worse, I have to give it to myself!

So, I'm taking myself on as a client/artist to mentor. I have mentored several artists over the years, and now I need that myself... even if it's just from me to me. I'm putting together a plan with a schedule, and working out the details. I need to be working toward a goal, and while I don't have a specific goal yet, I can at least put the starting pieces into place.

My hope is that with more clarity and focus (and STRUCTURE) on this aspect of my life, I'll stop trying to eat my way through my kitchen like an 1980's escaped pac-man.

I can do this. I can make things better for myself.

I can do this.

Monday, January 9, 2017

They're Heeeeeeereeeee!

It's Monday... and they're here. ALL of them. ALL. Of. Them. It snowed a little bit in North Carolina on Saturday (stopped snowing by noon), and the whole state lost its mind. They have called off school for Monday and Tuesday, and the roads are a disaster because no one seems to know how to deal with it. Coming from Vermont, this is kind of shocking, but I suppose if you only get snow once a year, maybe it makes sense. I miss snow. Anyway, the family is here and no one is getting out.

I love my family. Adore them. Yet, for some reason when they are here and I decide to go work in my studio, I feel as though I am being selfish or letting someone down.

I know this feeling is irrational, and maybe it's just a mom-thing. (Do guys have this problem? They don't seem like they do.) I remember having trouble even taking a moment for myself when my children were really young. In those days, even a closed bathroom door seemed to cause upset if you didn't sneak off successfully beforehand.

I remember one day clearly where my husband said "Go take a bath! Enjoy yourself!" So, I did! My husband was going to watch the kids and I was going to sit in a tub of hot water with a book and enjoy just sitting there. It was going to be awesome! Me. A Bath. A book! Maybe I'd even light a candle! JUST ME! I was going to make sure I pruned up before I even considered getting out.

Not five minutes later, while the water was running, the door started rattling. One of the kids had figured out where I had gone off to. Then the meowing started, because the cat figured it out too. Had camera phones existed back then, I would have taken a picture or a video. Instead, all I can do is say that I distinctly remember looking at the door and watching little fingers and paws come under the door and swipe at the air on my side, while my daughter loudly cooed "mooooooooooom?" under the door, and my toddler son slapped his hand on it and called out "MOM!" repeatedly.

I resisted for a few minutes, but finally I grabbed my towel and opened the door. Both kids, the cat, and the dog were all at the door waiting for me (and my husband was nowhere to be seen.) When I went downstairs, like a parade with everyone following me, I found my husband watching soccer in the family room. He looked up and said "Did you have a nice bath?"

You know those moments that leave you speechless, and yet you have so much to say at the same time? This was one of those. It was probably good that I momentarily lost my capability to speak, because most of what I would have said would have been... less than appropriate.

I did get my bath, eventually, but I realized that in order to get any "me" time, I was going to have to fight for it and guard it. As the children got older, things like privacy became something I didn't have to fight for because it became more natural and they needed me less. But when I started painting again... well, that was different.

My painting started back up, not as a business, but something I had always done. A hobby, maybe, except it never felt like a hobby to me. If you aren't connected on a visceral level to something, I don't know if I can explain it. I have hobbies, but it's the difference between having something to do, and doing something because you HAVE to and it's just who you are (and without it, you're a half-self, never really all the way "here"). Unfortunately, painting was always the very last thing I could do in a day. Everything else had to be done first, and it was the lowest priority to everyone else.

I realize, looking back, that I allowed my art to come last. I could have fought harder. I also realize that when you have young children, there are only so many minutes of the day and so many battles you can fight. I brought the art more and more into my life as I could, and I went professional with it when my son (youngest) was two years old. I would say it was part-time professional though, because raising children is a full time job and there were always so many things to do just being mom. Never mind when I went back to school and got my business degree, or went to work full time.

Fast forward to now, and I still feel like I'm not allowed to "go work" when the rest of the family is here, especially during the day. I feel like I am disappointing them. (It doesn't mean I don't work, necessarily, but I feel bad when I do.) One of my daughter's first posts on Facebook was that she felt like I was always painting when she had a question. That makes me both feel awful, like I have let her down somehow, and also good because she sees me working and she should see me working. She did get to ask her question though. I wonder what she thought I should have been doing instead when she wanted to ask a question? I may ask her that...

I want both my kids to see that a strong work ethic and that being true to yourself is important. But it still makes me feel bad to not achieve the super-mom status they way you want to when you have to choose and sometimes choose yourself instead.

Anyway, what this all means is that when the family is home, I feel like I can't work. Or, shouldn't work. I feel like now that they're all older, that if they're all home with nothing to really do (a rarity, usually), it means that I'm being selfish if I run off to my studio to work as I had planned. Because they all have their own lives now and I'm at the tail-end of our family being just us, I feel the need to grab these moments like the last fragments of the family I used to have before they glitter and dim into nothingness.

That's not exactly true, though, is it? Yes, this time is fleeting. But it all has been, since they were so little they couldn't exist without me, to now when I just want a moment of their time to tell them I'll always love them, even though they're practically adults. My painting time is fleeting too, though. My time to create something is dwindling every day, too. It matters, too. I matter too, and I shouldn't be the one doing all the accommodation.

Ahh, balance. Still searching for you, aren't I?

Well, on the positive, I compromised and did tax stuff for my business today. So, it was a necessary evil, I felt like I was being punished while accomplishing something (because, taxes), and I could pause what I was doing to accommodate my family as needed.

If I did taxes, is that a win? I think it's a win. Maybe. Stupid business taxes... but I'll take it as a win anyway!

They'll still be here tomorrow, but my plans are to accomplish more in the studio than I did today. I have polar bears that I need to paint! I hope to do that while I still see snow outside!