My collage from 2007? with my Cali friends. (note: It was 2008 - I just figured it out).
Deep thoughts with glue sticks.
So, one of the people from work wanted to go to the Pumpkin Patch again this year. We had gone last year and everyone had a good time. Things have been so crazy lately that I didn't think of it until the second week of October. When the person asked me, I told them to plan it and make a flier and I would get approval. Only I never got approval.
After this week of challenges, one person asked me about the Pumpkin Patch and I decided I was going to go ahead with it and if I didn't have "after-the-fact" approval, I would just pay for it as people needed to have something fun to end the week.
Unfortunately, we didn't get the word out enough and also, the flu is sweeping through my office, so I knew the group would be small. I couldn't NOT go - what if someone showed up with their family and no one was there? So I drove down to the Pumpkin Patch and I quickly realized that no one was coming. I shopped in the Pumpkin Patch market and took pictures of some of their lovely fruit and veggies (practicing photography and also loving the colors). The mud was an inch deep and I was afraid I was going to take a header, face down in the mud. I made it out unscathed, but my fear of standing in the middle of the field alone was almost realized - I wasn't in a field, exactly, but I was probably the oldest person there without a small child in tow. I stayed an hour, took my goodies and tromped through the mud back to my car and drove home.
I am exhausted. Going to bed. Boo. Happy Mischief day.
Today was one of those days. Up at 5 a.m. to finish some grading, off to a meeting, found out I had to drive to Salem. Drove down, did my thing, drove back. Work til 7:30pm or so...then home.
October seems to be a hard month in my industry, in my work place. This is year 5 of October-Kicks-Jean's-Ass. I knew it was coming. Just didn't know when. I thought maybe I had escaped its clutches, but I didn't. I got home from vacation just in time.
Well, I'm back. I have missed my little land of self-expression but I am not savvy enough to figure out wifi, so I had to so some by-hand posts that I will be putting up tonight when I get home.
Shall I say (if I have not said so before) that returning from vacation is disincentive to taking vacations? I'm drowning and I fear it is going to continue for awhile. I decided upon waking this morning at 5:00am that this blog is still one of the few things I give myself, so I will continue to be here, continue this journey, because I have to. All this stuff can't stay in your head - it has to come out. I'm not sure what I would do at this point without this outlet - I'm sure I would find some way, but it wouldn't be the same. :)
I had a telecourse call yesterday which was great, but I had a strong fear reaction that the journey of it is almost over and that scared me a little. I hope our little group will continue to share via email. I will share more about that later, but for now, I'm off to be in the world. Wish me luck!
One of my friends I was on vacation with got very sick, so we left DW Hot Springs in separate cars. I was supposed to stay an additional day, but due to illness, I just came home today. Got a chance to visit with my other friend who arrived on Saturday at the hot springs. We drove back to Sacramento together - beautiful fall drive.
Stopped by work in Sac and saw some folks I hadn't seen in awhile. I was amazed at how much simple kindness makes an impact. I met an admin and a lady from payroll and they were so sweet to me - I hadn't even realized that what I do is different that other people. It seems basic - if you need something, ask. If there is a problem, let people know. Thank them for helping. Thank them for fixing. Ask nicely. Apparently, these common sense approaches are not so common. Their wonderful greetings made my day. I saw one of my FAVORITE people from work and she gave me the biggest hug and I was just so warmed by her sincere greeting - it is so nice when your warm regard is returned.
Flew home, taxi to work, grabbed my car and came home. I'm pooped.
When I first started reading the chapter about Desire, I immediately thought about my childhood...
When I was a little girl, I was very free - free to be emotional, to be creative, to want things, to say things, to draw, to dance, to sing. As most children do, I experienced lots of little things that I interpreted as disapproval or disdain. Sometimes, the reactions I got WERE disapproval and disdain. My father HATED it when we would sing in the car, so over time, singing became a solitary activity.
Related to desire - when I was a kid, my parents would ask us for a Christmas list. It was usually pretty early on as my parents did all their shopping on Columbus Day (my dad was off from work, kids still in school). As soon as the Sears Wishbook came out, I would pour over it, writing down nearly everything I saw. I asked for cars and Barbies and pogo sticks and hula hoops and those giant size dolls. It wasn't so much that I wanted all of it, but that it all seemed so magical to me, I loved to write things down, and I was always happy with what I got.
I'm pretty sure that my sister (and maybe others) thought I was just a greedy little kid, writing down the entire kids section of the catalog. But a curious thing happened - every year, I was thrilled with the gifts I received, the toys I had, but my sister would never get "THE THING" that she wanted. One time I asked her if she had written a list and she scoffed at me, "I'm not going to write a list of things that I want someone to give me." My young self wondered, "Well, if they don't know what you want, how can they get it for you?" This question was not met with a happy face.
One year, my sister opened the edge of all of her presents and so she KNEW that she hadn't gotten the thing that she wanted and she couldn't say anything about it because then, not only would she be upset that she didn't get what she wanted, but she would be in trouble for snooping. I never snooped. I'm not sure I knew that the gifts were there to snoop for until that year. Ironically, that year, my sister got an art project with a bullring and you colored it with these colored rocks (I can't really explain it here) and I was JEALOUS. I thought that was the coolest gift ever. She was just upset because she didn't get THE THING.
I spent a lot of years feeling guilty/greedy for writing those lists - feeling like maybe there was something wrong with me. Then, I just let it go. I was just a little kid and someone ASKED me what I wanted, and I told them. I certainly didn't expect to get the entire Sears catalog, but I was happy with the gifts I did get. I can't remember a year when I didn't get something special. (This was before the retailers and media created the "ONE TOY YOU MUST HAVE" phenomenon, so maybe things would have been different if I had fallen prey to the "Cabbage Patch Doll" craze or something.)
I'm not even sure what my point is in this post...maybe just reflecting on the fact that we are a certain way as children and that uniqueness, that freedom is slowly squashed or restrained by experiences and other people's perceptions and behavior and we spend the rest of our lives reading books like "The Joy Diet" trying to figure out what our REAL desires are, what really brings us joy. Kids just are - they have desires and express them, they feel joy and they enjoy it. We have a lot to learn from the kiddos.
I'm not sure if I have written about my "burned forever in my memory horrific art experience" story here or not, but it is relevant for a couple of reasons - it is the reason that I am writing this THANK YOU post to BlissChick (Christine) and because you may notice a change in the blog here because of all of this.
When I was a young child, I was in LOVE with fluorescent crayons and bright colors. For me, the brighter, the better. I wonder about that sometimes. I think the colors soothe me, but for other people, colors have an opposite affect. Anyway, I colored EVERYTHING with those crayons. I wanted everything to be as bright and colorful as what I had in my imagination. Even my nightmares were "multicolored" which is what my parents called my penchant for colorful items, pictures, clothes, etc.
When I went to kindergarten or first grade(1970-71), I colored everything in strips. It was important to ensure that all the colors were included in an orderly fashion. Around Christmas time one of those years (I think first grade), we were given Santas to colore. They were those FANCY ones where the arms and legs were attached with brads so that the arms and legs moved. I colored my Santa meticulously, including all the colors (you see where this is going, don't you?) up the legs of Santa to the top. Obviously, his hair was still white and his skin tone was similar to my own (pretty typical). I proudly submitted my fine piece of art to my teacher who responded, "Santa wears a red and white suit, not one with all these colors. I'm afraid we won't be able to display your Santa for Parent's night. Your Santa isn't colored correctly" or words to that affect. I was devastated. Not that I didn't do it right but that my Santa, whom I had worked so HARD on, would not be displayed. I was proud of the work I had done on him. I brought my Santa home and told my mother what had happened. Luckily, my mother is a smart woman. She loved my multi-colored Santa and told me so. Throughout all of our moves, she always made sure to keep that Santa.
There you have it - my first soul-crushing art experience. I still have that Santa somewhere. I should find him and scan him in. This experience affected my interest and ability to produce art of any kind. I focused on writing instead.
So, how does BlissChick come into this? Well, one day, I was looking at blogs and found the "Free Wild Woman" poster I have posted here. When I followed the link to it, I landed on BlissChick's site. The poster attracted me because of the visual elements - many different images, many different colors and it was free WILD WOMEN. I love that. When I got to Christine's site, I noticed that her blog was very colorful. At first, I thought that all those colors were links to something out. More recently, I decided to explore and I realized that she uses color for all kinds of reasons AND that I could do the SAME THING on my blog.
I have been looking for SOMETHING that would add the final visual touch to the blog. The custom photo header made me happy for a while, but what I had been looking for had something to do with COLOR. So, in my post on Creativity Continued last week, I started the process...it was a small step, but I knew it was what I had been looking for. A way to emphasize, a way to change it up, add interest. Make my points without all caps or underlines...something different, that I don't see all blogs doing.
So, officially, thanks to Christine at BlissChick for using color and for inspiring me to do the same.
Letter to my seventeen year old self:
Hi. This is your 42 year old self writing to you from a freaky as-yet-uninvented-in-your-time technology called "The Internet". You will not discover it until 1996 and it will CHANGE EVERYTHING. Remember when people used to actually write their diaries/journals and lock them and hide them? Now people (including me) write and publish our thoughts, feelings, reactions, photos on the INTERNET for EVERYONE (and I do mean EVERYONE) to see. Anyone in the world can stumble upon our humble writings and read about our lives. Don't even get me started on Google Earth. (By the way, the more freaky the company name, the more successful it will probably be - Yahoo!! Google!! are just two examples).
Anyway, I really wanted to write to you and tell you that many of things you are doing, that you believe, that you know, are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. Your friends and family are going to stick with you as long as you stick with them. Cherish the time you have. Don't waste time on silly arguments and trying to make people into something they aren't. You are all beautiful in your uniqueness.
Keep writing every day. Don't stop. Keep all your notebooks. Write down all the things that happen and the conversations that you have. Explore your art - you do it in your notes to Jeffa every day - little drawings, little sayings, adding images. Don't forget you have a strong visual memory. Use it to record all your experiences. And take more pictures. Find someone to help you learn about photography and go crazy.
Don't be afraid to risk and don't be afraid to fail. Failure has not been an option in your life so far and unless you decide you want to change it, you won't. There are so many things in life that require PRACTICE and practice means that sometimes you will fail. The problem is that if you don't want to fail, you will stop trying. I know this because there are a few things I didn't try because I was afraid to fail. Don't DO IT! Try! Try! Go! Do it! Risk! Create! Just remember that the process is just as important as the outcome - like math - you get points for showing your work.
Don't be afraid to love. I know that you have often felt silly or judged by the intensity of your emotions. There is nothing to be ashamed of. This is who you are and it doesn't go away. Ever. But you can be kinder to yourself about this. Own it. Let it define your relationships the way it does now. Don't let jaded people influence you. People love to get little cards and gifties and you are so good at doing that. Later in your life, some folks got to you and you became unsure of yourself - you started thinking that it was the THING that mattered more than the thought "I was thinking of you so I decided to get you this card/gift to let you know". The thought is more important.
Keep telling stories. Stories are the way we remember and honor ourselves, our lives and our relationships. You are going to experience a lot of death. Don't be afraid. It is hard, but keep your heart open to the lessons you will learn. Keep your heart open to the people who will teach you those lessons. You are stronger than anyone ever thought.
One last thing - you can't make everyone happy. Stop trying now. Just try to be kind, have integrity, have fun and keep your sense of humor. Please yourself more. Listen to great music. Read great books. Make great friends. But know that you are enough. You have it in you to be amazing - you just have to step out of your own way.
Have a good time and take care of yourself. Make sure you keep your body and mind strong. Take your vitamins. Drink more water.
I wish this were more sophisticated, more practical. I may have to write you another letter tomorrow. I'm still evolving, so sometimes things don't quite come out the way I mean them to...
P.S. Don't let Roby date Grant.
So, I thought I would be able to get home before I flew off into the world, but I had to work - waiting for something important that never arrived while I was at work.
I went straight to the airport. And I tried to use wifi on the loaner netbook I had from work. Foiled. :(
Good flight to Sacramento. Good dinner with friends. Saw "Fame" with my friends. Got back to their house only to find that they had hung up my collage from 2 years ago in the guest room, right along side theirs. I was so happy to see it. I took pictures. I will post them, although you don't necessarily get the whole of it from a tiny picture.
Now, it is time for bed. I am anxious to get away, but nervous because there is so much happening at my work place. More later, when we get to GENOA!! Can't wait!
Would it be rude of me to mention AGAIN that I am going to Dave Walley's Hot Springs Resort and Span in Genoa, NV tomorrow? Seven mineral pools of varying temperatures. Cooling pools. Facials. Massages. Quiet. Movies. Friends. Games. SLEEP. Pajamas. Laughter.
I can't wait.
I will be doing either remote posting or I will write in my journal and post when I get back. I am bringing a computer but I have to figure out all the wifi stuff before I can actually post anything. I'm not very techie about this stuff, so it may take me a couple of days.
I must pack. I'm so ready to go.
As I have been doing all these introspective activities, all these "let your inner artist out" activities, I have been realizing that one of my finer qualities as a human being (in my humble opinion) is that I never forgot how to play. There have been times in my life when I have been less likely to play or less interested in play, but I have never lost the ability to enjoy a rainstorm or coloring or feeling the ocean on my feet. Sometimes, people have looked at me during a fit of laughter as if to say, "Stop being so silly."
So, I am here to tell you that imagination still lives in me, goofy first grade smile and all.
P.S. While I was at Powell's yesterday, I saw one of my other ALL TIME FAVORITE children's books, "Ferdinand the Bull". I will tell you about that book some other day. :)
Kevin invited me to go with him to see "Where the Wild Things Are" yesterday. I thought it was fitting to see the movie with him as he was the first person to find my blog a little over a year ago. I said YES and we went to an afternoon showing, complete with children.
I am unsure what I think at this point...it was enjoyable and the animatronics were pretty cool. The actors were good, especially Max Records who plays Max. There were moments full of heart and tenderness...but there was something about it that didn't resonate.
I couldn't love Max and I really wanted to...I did love Carol and the other Wild Things, but then they did some really awful things. I know that the point is that Max is learning from them, but I just couldn't really abide some of it. The culmination of this was the arm-ripping incident. I won't go into details, but I just couldn't go there. Then when Max came home, I wanted Mom to at least say, "Don't ever do that again!" or "I was worried!"
I'm not certain this is a children's movie - some of the lessons were too subtle. Some of the behavior too dangerous. The two kids behind us were not able to keep their attention on the movie and ended up playing with the leftover popcorn in the bag they had bought as their mother whispered harshly to them, "Shh! Stop talking! Stop that! Sit down!"
In the aftermath of the so-called "Balloon Boy", this movie just made me realize how much we don't teach our kids. How much our society needs to love and hold and teach kids and how to treat them. I admire the parents I know who are parents to their kids. It isn't easy to lead little people to good and right decisions, but it is our job. All of our jobs. And little Max, in the movie version, needed to be sent to his room without supper, like little Max in the book. He could have had some supper later. The book got it right. I'm not sure the movie did.
I hope I can read Maurice Sendak's perspective on the movie...maybe that will help me digest it more easily.
One of the activities I did was to take the Desires I listed here and turn them in to questions and come up with some possible ways to bring my intention into alignment with my desires and actions. I really liked this activity - it helped a lot. I always read in books "Write it down. It will clarify your thoughts and commit you to these intentions." Normally, I don't do it, but I'm really glad I did this.
How can I achieve more balance in my life?
How can I spend more time being creative/artistic?
How can I have a positive impact on the people I am in contact with regularly?
How can I live a more connected life?
How can I honor my wish to write?