Changing Course, of Course!

Hi! I have a new mindset, a great direction with my art, and I will be moving my creative energy to another blog that more closely matches that vision. I am VERY excited about what’s to duckscome. For now, it’s about getting my ducks in a row…I’ll let you know where my blog-to-be is, soon!

Hang on, we’re headed to abundance!

A Perfectionist’s Problem

perfectionismI came home from my day job last night, tended to the dogs’ needs and sat down on the couch. I tried to watch the news on TV and couldn’t focus. I opened up a book I bought about 16 years ago that I am rereading right now, Callings by Gregg Michael Levoy. My dogs cuddled up on my lap, one on each leg, and like that we stayed for several minutes.

As much as I tried to focus, my mind wouldn’t quiet down. The yard of my current rental house is overgrowing because of mother nature’s recent gift of rain. I recently bought a new lawnmower through a special environmental program Salt Lake City offered and it has to be assembled. We had rain last weekend, so I didn’t get it put together.

I noticed the dust balls in the corners of the room. (My corgi sheds.) I should get up and vacuum, I thought to myself. It seemed too much work.

When I couldn’t concentrate because of the guilt I was feeling for sitting down when there was stuff that needed to be done, I got up to go assess the backyard and thought I’d try to cut it with the push mower (the people-powered kind). I mowed for 1/2 hour but didn’t really make a dent in the backyard; I decided I just couldn’t deal with it anymore and went back in the house.

Once again I found myself in the same spot on the couch, feeling really bad about myself for not being more productive. Then it hit me:

Cut yourself some slack, I thought. You just worked a full day and you deserve to veg out if you want to. You are not a loser simply because you don’t do it all, every day of your life. You are worthy.

Why is it so difficult for me to realize the truth in these words?

Who else out there is dealing with the perfectionism curse? How do you deal? I would love to hear about it. Comments appreciated!

Making the Most of the Past

A few days ago I mentioned that I have saved practically EVERYTHING in the memento, memorabilia, overly sentimental me category. Case in point: Though my ex-beau has blocked me on Facebook and not spoken to me in eight months, I still have the first flower he ever gave me four years ago this month, a single yellow rose, now dried and faded in one of the recyclable Whole Foods grocery bags currently piled in my would-be living room. When I was packing for my most recent move, I took it off the shelving I had built especially for that space, a wall unit in the hallway next to my bedroom door, and considered throwing it away. But something said “no,” don’t do it. So again it moved with me.

As I’ve been contemplating lately what I’m really doing in this world at this point in my life with all this stuff, I know my creativity is my GIFT. That I need to be sharing it with more than my friends and followers on social media. That gift shows up in my world every time I create a piece of art, or design and decorate a new home environment.

Somehow, today, I happened on what may have been a divinely sent targeted ad on the bottom of one of the blogs I follow, 100 Days of Real Food.

targeted ad

Was this targeted ad a divine intervention?

I clicked through and ended up at a post about making home accessories from your own designs on this website WitandDelight.com and learned that Shutterfly may be the answer to my question, “What should I do with all this stuff I have saved?”

Of course, all that work takes energy, of which I am lacking these days, but there may actually be synchronicity at work here. My brother had responded to my previous blog post link on Facebook that If I am in a creative slump perhaps I could make something of the art I have already created, a-la giclee prints, etc. I have done a bit of that, with pillows and phone covers and a watch, but not really branched out much or tried to promote myself that way.

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Is it time to make my mark on the home accessories world? (Zazzle watch of “Sunflower #2” by Madison Briggs)

I love the home accessories idea. Love. It. It would bring all the elements of art and design I adore together in one deliciously blended smoothie of creative fulfillment.

Is this my destiny? Stay tuned.

 

Time for a Creative Reboot

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’ve gotten in a creative slump. Not sure what to attribute it to. I’ve moved recently for the second time in a year. I am now fully single, being about a year out of my last long-term relationship’s home and life and not crying over it anymore. I’m going full bore on my new eating habits for the past month and a half, and I’ve been happy to lose over 7 pounds so far. I even recently started a new prescription that is promising to make my post-menopausal vajayjay worthy when and if I actually start dating again. I’ve been growing out my natural silver hair for going on eight months, on purpose (!) My latest YouTube hair transition video. So that looks like fairly decent progress on many areas of my life, right?

Creatively, however,  I’ve gotten lost in the quagmire of my still unopened, unorganized boxes and bags (though I have tackled some of it) and can’t. Get. Out. Marie Kondo would not be very pleased with me right now. I have far too much stuff.

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Mad-i-son, you need to hold each thing and ask, “does it spark joy?” If not, GET RID OF IT!

From an artistic perspective, I hold on to it all because I feel that someday I’m going to use it for my art. Either for collage, or writing a book and needing to know dates and people in my past. My memory for names or past events is not as sharp as it used to be. I still have in my possession my yearbook from FIRST GRADE. For those that are counting, that is almost 52 years ago.

I’ve moved so many times since I was six years old, that still having that yearbook in my possession is a MAJOR achievement. I’ve lived in two cities in Oklahoma, North Carolina, two cities in Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, three cities in Utah, Texas, two cities in California, Oregon, Colorado, and briefly in New Mexico. Hell, I’ve moved 18 times within Salt Lake City since I came here in 1995!

So what about that reboot thing, you may be thinking to yourself. I’m getting there.

For a year or so I’ve been dreaming of going to Kauai, Hawaii for a retreat. I listen to the sounds of the ocean on a CD when I’m drifting off to sleep. I even contacted a company I found, Touch Kauai, last year to see what kind of a package I could put together.

touch kauai email
Notice the dates on these…many months since I (sort of) gave up on my dream.

Being cash poor, and owing friends money as well, has made this reboot dream seem impractical. But somehow, some way, I’m going to make it a priority. For someone who loves to paint sunsets, this place would be my heaven. And the perfect creative reboot, don’t you think? Aloha!

Kauai sunset
Kauai Sunset (thanks, Pinterest)

 

 

Death by Real Food: What a Way to Go

I’ve been on a real food eating program for 11 days. The first couple of days really sucked. Let’s face it, a self-improvement program sucks until you get the hang of it. It still sucks after that, but the withdrawals from whatever you were feeling addicted to tend to be the really sucky part. I had some heavy duty withdrawals from two things that were a staple in my recent diet: ice cream and Diet Coke.

I knew I had to make a change in my diet when I realized I had gotten so far off track from real meals that I was eating Häagen-Daz Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream for dinner about 2 days per week. I was stressed about work, stressed about my second move in a year, and ice cream was easy (no prep necessary) and so deliciously sooooothing. But then the food coma came, and I didn’t feel like doing anything except vegging on the couch.

Diet Coke and I go way back, but for many years I kicked the habit. Until a few months ago, when that sneaky little bugger became my go to drink of choice and water took a back seat on the bus. I was up to at least two cans per day. Cheap to buy at Costco but terrible for my health.

After I made the decision to change my habits, I made myself a little cheat sheet for my refrigerator listing my goals. My Nutrition Goals for 2016(Please excuse the lame graphic design, I was in a hurry. Good nutrition can’t wait!)

March 14, 2016 was day one of my return to health. I went to the grocery store and shopped for healthy food. I was excited! After two or three days I got through ice cream and Diet Coke withdrawal, I’ve been doing well eating lots of fruits and veggies–organic when I can get them–actually eating them and not throwing them out because they go bad! Also, whole grains, a few eggs, and almost no meat or dairy. No fast food or junk. I actually have to cook or assemble when I come home from work. I made a crockpot of pinto beans last week which ended up in huevos rancheros, beans and brown rice, bean tacos, and I think there is still some left in my fridge. Night before last I made vegetable fried brown rice. Yummo!

“So, where is this going?” you may have asked several paragraphs before now. I’m getting to it.

Last night I ate some chocolate, because I wanted a little treat. So I picked up some of this:

Millcreek Cacao Himalayan Salt

This chocolate was the most amazing thing I have ever tasted. It could be because I haven’t had any treats in some time, or maybe because it costs $7.50 for 1.75 ounces at Harmon’s and the price makes it delicious. I don’t think so. I think this is just some badass amazing chocolate. This company is local to me, and artisan, and they are chocolate making gods. It’s even gluten free and vegan. How cool is that?

Eleven days ago I thought I was killing myself slowly by my crappy eating habits. So I made a change. Last night I felt like I’d died and gone to whatever heaven is, with delicious dark chocolate as my heavenly reward. I had no bad reaction to that chocolate treat. No food coma, no regrets.

I am learning to eat what makes me feel good. Not only while I eat it, but afterwards, too. Eating real food just feels better.

 

Springtime for Artchick

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Sorry it’s been awhile. In the past three months I have, once again, had my life moved to a new location. I left Artchick Manor in the Avenues and moved about 7 miles down the hill to Artchick Cottage at Millcreek.  I’m very, very pleased to be in this home, although events leading up to the move did not come frolicking happily into my life. I sort of went kicking and screaming, after my then-landlord made a decision to sell the home I spent over four months fixing up. It was painful to receive this news at the end of 2015.

The good news is it’s a better living situation all around. A great neighborhood, very quiet street and nice neighbors. Over twice as large as my previous home, recently updated so it was move in ready, and best of all I’ve got a room on the back of the house to dedicate as an art studio. Four large windows are on the north end of this room. With hardwood flooring, a huge alcove/closet area, and a back door leading out to the enormous, fully fenced, private backyard.

I spent yesterday putting together a Mulig Shelving Unit: Artchick Art Studio Storage from Ikea and it is the perfect size for a particular empty wall in my studio. I am actually looking forward to unpacking my paints now. Thanks, Ikea. I appreciate that all the parts were included this time!

I look forward to posting again with pictures of my new space. Happy second day of spring!

You Gotta Start Somewhere

Several weeks ago I decided to upgrade both my iPhone and my iMac. I qualified for a monthly payment on my Verizon plan, which I was able to afford after recently receiving a $30 reduction on my wireless plan and a $100 reduction in the price of my new phone. I’ve had my iPhone 5 for three years now. It’s been a hard worker and I’ve taken very good care of it, but it was time.

Same with my computer. My 2009 iMac has been getting increasingly bogged down by all the new software that is designed for a much leaner, faster machine. In spite of having a new hard drive in the last two years, it’s slow going. I was able to get a new one on a payroll deduction plan at the University where I work with an 8% discount and tax free on a special sale day.

So why have these new instruments been sitting unopened in my home for a month? Overwhelm.

Upgrading is like moving, or doing taxes. It all sucks and you only do it when you have to.

Today is the day, I told myself, when I finally at least upgrade my phone. So of course unanticipated issues came up as soon as I followed the instructions. I learned that you can’t restore your iPhone from the iCloud if the phone you backed up from (old phone) has a newer version of IOS than the new phone. Which in my case, was true. My new iPhone, the one that was in the box for the past month, needed updating. After a thorough googling bit, I found a solution.

So now my new phone is working. The coolest thing is that I ordered a case from Society 6 with my Sunflower #2 painting on it. It, too, has been sitting in my house for a month, unused. Until Today! And lucky you, you can order one, too, if you so desire…. In the meantime I’ll be looking at my iMac box and hoping my next computer six years or so from now will intuitively know how to do its own set up.

myartiPhonecase

 

Never Enough Time

 

So many topics move in and out of my thoughts, never quite simagesticking with my attention but the one I can’t let go of right now is how time is a resource we can’t get back.

A friend who slipped out of my life a few years ago, as happens with a shift of focus, and who I remember as vibrant and youthful, passed away last Saturday. She went downhill fast after a rare cancer diagnosis and the six months everyone hoped for her to live instead became a matter of days. I didn’t find out until the day she passed and didn’t get a chance to see her or say goodbye. She donated her body to the cancer center that treated her. She was
always very generous that way.

In a work meeting today I learned another woman in her 60s died suddenly this week and the faculty group I work with who knew her was in total shock. You just never know how much time is left.

Rectify

Lately my own health has been a challenge and I feel I should be more time conscious. Instead, I’ve often been a couch potato when I get home from my day job. I binge watched Season 1 and 2 of Rectify on Netflix during Thanksgiving weekend. Then I had to see Season 3, so I ended up buying it off Amazon. This series is about a man who spent 20 years on death row and is exonerated by DNA evidence, and has to make a life that he didn’t think would ever be possible: a life outside of prison. He never expected to have time, so he never made plans for it.

I am not generally a person who fiddles my thumbs and wonders what to do with my time. I am a person who has more interests than time in which to do them. Every day that I don’t have enough energy to do the things I want is a day I feel imprisoned.

For a while I was not enjoying coming to my day job/desk job every day. My body gets stiff, my eyes become tired, and the last three hours from 2 to 5 pm feel like years. It’s like my mental and physical energy seemed to soak through my mesh office chair seat time fliesand slip away. With that attitude when I get home from the office it’s hard to feel motivated to do anything. I felt resentful, like I was robbing myself of valuable time doing what I really love (i.e., ART).

A change of attitude was needed, and since Thanksgiving brought up the topic of gratitude I’ve been focusing on the good that my day job provides: Enough income to pay my bills and take care of small emergencies; great benefits including health insurance, paid vacation, personal and sick leave and a retirement account. And a place to feel needed. Where I can sit in a meeting and share news about someone who died and have others respond empathetically.

We are really all in this together. I know we forget that, especially with terrorists and lunatics with guns and presidential candidates that want to ban an entire ethnicity from the good ole USA which was founded by immigrants. Caring about time with the world in chaos may seem frivolous to some. The truth is, none of us will ever have enough time to change another person. All we can change is how we use the time we have.

The Cone of Shame

Two weeks ago, my senior mini-poodle, Sadie, had surgery to remove a growth on her cheek. For two weeks she’s been moping around, banging into doors and scooping up fallen leaves on walks. Basically helpless to do much of anything but sit and stare, Sadie’s been subjected to the Cone of Shame. For the benefit of those who may not have animals, a cone of shame is a hard plastic “Elizabethan collar” or “E-collar” designed to protect animals from hurting themselves by preventing access to scratching, licking, or otherwise paying too much attention to something different happening on their body. It is meant to give them a cocoon-like feeling of safety, to help them stay calm, so an injury or surgical incision can heal. (More info here, here and some funny stuff here).

FullSizeRender

The donut of ill repute

Although I tried to use an inflatable donut instead, to give her a greater range of motion, it was an epic fail, because after only a day half her face was swollen (visualize an allergic reaction to a bee sting) and she’d almost scratched her stitches out. Another full day at the vet and hot packs to her face (very warm washcloths with most of the water squeezed out, held to her cheek for 5-10 minutes at a time, several times per day) and she was brought home with the Cone of Shame. It’s been a very long, tedious two weeks at Artchick Manor.

Yesterday she had her stitches removed and her cone of shame days look behind her. She was literally leaping from excitement for being free of that confinement for the first time in two weeks. Due to over exuberance she fell out of the car three times when we left the vet because she wouldn’t allow me to lift her in and was pulling on her leash. Once she was finally secure, It was heartwarming to see her so happy.

How often do we artists confine ourselves to wearing our own self-imposed “Cone of Shame”? In general, creative thinkers are less risk averse. We may also be more prone to failure because of that very risk-taking nature. That propensity to fail may translate into carrying around a heavy burden of shame.

A gifted, particularly ballsy photographer I know has been on a campaign online to “free the nipple.” She creates conceptual art that is meant to challenge the status quo. That art sometimes includes nudes. But her nudes are Nudes with a Purpose. Designed to convey a story, prosecute an offender, or open dialogue for change. When she posts these images online, she often gets called to the mat by Facebook followers who become offended with her posts. Instead of hiding or giving in, these challenges spur her to continue to make more art. She welcomes dissenters from her movement to unfriend her and leave an opening for a new devotee. Some would think she has no shame. But they would be wrong, Cat Palmer has worked hard to free herself from her shame.

Let Cat (and my Sadie) set an example for what’s possible if you are healed. Your own personal “cone of shame” may give you a false sense of security. You may feel safe, cocoon-like, but its confinement is prison for a creative soul. Don’t spend too much time there. Free yourself.

What’s on Your Creative Agenda?

When it comes to your creative life, what’s happening during your meetings with your materials? Are you a planner or a by-the-seat-of-your-pants artist? Do you sketch and thumbnail and do studies before you tackle that one perfect piece, or do you just get out the supplies, or turn on the computer, or grab your camera or whatever is your medium and just go for it?

Though there are times that I do have a seed of an idea and have to flesh it out for a bit, do some preliminary sketches and figure out how to make my vision a reality, more often than not I just start painting and, usually, an idea will spring out of the process. I guess you could call me an intuitive painter. That goes against most of what I learned from art professors, by the way. I do understand why that is. It’s difficult to grade intuition or creative bursts of insight. If a professor has 30 students in a class, how can he or she set a standard to grade by unless there is a process that can be seen? Many creatives who attend classes or professional workshops can’t wait to finish the classes to go do their own thing, albeit with that added knowledge they obtained having some sort of effect on their work, even if it is to ignore what they just learned.

Did you see Prince wearing his “Third Eye” sunglasses on Sunday, November 22, as a presenter at the 2015 American Music Awards? Intuition is big business these days. He plans on marketing these shades: Prince’s Third Eye Shades

prince-kevin copyright Getty Images 2015

Copyright Getty Images

I recently finished the easy to read book, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love fame. It was enjoyable (and I LOVE the cover), though I don’t agree with everything she says. Her opinion is that creative ideas are out there and one may touch you, but if you don’t or can’t act upon it in a timely manner it will move along to another “host” (my term).01-big-magic-book-review

I see the need for planning and practice to get better at our craft; however, perhaps intuition is the opening for one of these creative ideas to touch us and take hold of the host, so to speak. If we are too much in the planning and execution frame of mind, the idea may not have a chance to connect, because the thing about these intuitive ideas is, it’s hard to explain them in concrete terms. We can see the result, but not the process. We need an open mind, not one filled with action items.

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