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Wild Woman Inside Me

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015
My "Intuition Goddess Quilt" in progress

My “Intuition Goddess Quilt” in progress

I knew I needed to do something different, but I wasn’t sure where to begin.   I felt like I was doing the same thing over and over, like I was drying up.  Then the I’m Alive Goddess came out of me and there was no going back.  When I started reading Women Who Run With the Wolves, suddenly I saw the story of my life in the fairy tales Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes about.

Estes writes about how  many women have lost their instincts and intuition because so often,  it’s no longer passed down from mother to daughter.  Sometimes we can learn it from someone else, another elder, but if not, there’s still hope.

I’ve never had that person in my life, the mentor, the elder,  the one to go with troubles, someone I could trust.  But like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, that person was inside of me all along.  She’s there in the form of the Wild Woman, just waiting to be awakened.  She’s not wild in a destructive way.  She’s the undomesticated part of us that still knows how to feel and trust her intuition and instincts.  She’s the wolf mother who looks out for her pups and teaches them how to survive and  about the real dangers in life.  She doesn’t even know what boundless fear and anxiety are.  She sees clearly the traps and opportunities and can tell the difference between the two.

I can see now, that through my art, I’ve been tapping into my Wild Woman.  She emerged as my I’m Alive Goddess.  And when she first came out, it was exhilarating, but also scary.   She was different than the art I had been making for years and she was pulling me in a new direction.  Suddenly creating without her being a part of my work in some way was draining.  It made me lethargic and depressed, uninspired.   Just the thought of her toothy grin and supple body energized me.  It’s like I’m being replenished, once again, drinking the life-giving fluids.

And I have my guide, my inner voice.  Not my brain trying to talk me in and out of things, and not my heart, which  can be confused by my emotions.  But Wild Woman, who lives in my gut, ancient and untamed.  Sometimes she still scares me, going against so much of what I thought was true, but more than being afraid, I trust her.  And I like the direction she’s taking  me in.

Riding Chloe Bareback, A Matter of Trust

Friday, July 31st, 2015
I stole this picture of me riding Chloe bareback from Jon' s blog.

I stole this picture of me riding Chloe bareback from Jon’ s blog.

Since she came to live with us I’ve had the urge to climb on Chloe and ride bareback.  Or even just sit on her and not go anywhere.  But I was also scared.  Afraid she might just take off and me with nothing to hold on to.

A few nights ago I had a dream that I was riding a skinny white and salmon dappled horse, bareback in a hospital where we were visiting someone.   The horse started to run and I laid my body low and hung onto her mane.  And it was exhilarating.   When we got to the room we were going to (there was no one in it)  I realized we could talk to each other.

I don’t know what made me do it today, maybe it was the dream.   I asked Jon to hold the lead rope attached to Chloe’s halter and, with a hand from Jon, got up on Chloe’s back.   Maybe I shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised she just stood there and let me, as ungraceful as I was.  Then I gave the tiniest tap with my heels and she walked…..right into the barn.  Another tap and she walked back to the gate and into the barn again.  We did this a few time, then I slid off her and climbed back up on her without any help.  Round we went from the gate to the barn.

I had little if any control over where we went, and I was a bit concerned that she might start running, but I was able to make her stop.  And there was an ease about it.  I kept thinking it was more comfortable for both of us than using a saddle.   Must feel like wearing a bra  on a hot day, I thought.  All that leather and those straps and buckles.

But  more than anything I felt it was a matter of trust.  I was as happy as Chloe was to just walk in a circle, from the gate to the barn and back again.  Maybe she knew that, maybe we were talking to each other.

The Evolved Man

Thursday, July 30th, 2015
Jon and Fate

Jon and Fate

As you might imagine the topic of Cecil the Lion and the dentist from Minnesota has come up more than once in our house.   Today at lunch I was telling Jon how much I was moved by his latest blog post about the mob mentality around the issue.  As upset  as I was when I first heard about how Walter Palmer killed  Cecil,  it’s unfathomable to me that people are threatening his life, family and livelihood to the degree that they are.

And why not, as Jon writes, do something constructive, try to have something positive come from it instead of  propagating the anger.

The other thing I can’t understand is why someone would want to kill a lion, or any animal, for sport and hang its head on the wall as a trophy.  Not in today’s world.  So Jon explained it this way.  You have to be a man to grasp it, he said.  It’s a macho thing, the ultimate manly act to travel to Africa hunt a lion and bring it home.  But you don’t want to do that, I said to him.  No, he said, my equivalent of that is wanting to win the blue ribbon for my photography at the County Fair.

I got up and kissed him.  That’s the evolved man.  There is hope.

Intuition Goddess Quilt, Continued….

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

goddess quilt detail  horse head

I see the quilt as my canvas.     The texture of all the hand quilting is someone else’s ground work.  I’m not starting with a blank canvas.   It has a history devoid of me, yet connected to me  through the tradition of quilt making. I’m drawing lines with my stitches.  Some are dashes, some continuous, some tiny, almost invisible dots.

I don’t know what I’m going to do from one  moment to the next.  This morning I looked at my Intuition Goddess Quilt hanging on my wall and I knew I wanted to patch together pieces of fabric to fill out the horses head.  I knew the fabric I wanted to use.   And now that it’s done, it looks exactly as I pictured it.  That rarely happens when I make something.

I think making this piece is strengthening my creative intuition.

Just started working on the donkey tree.

Just beginning to work on the donkey tree.

 

Intuition Goddess Quilt

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Goddess Quilt

Goddess Quilt

I began working on this Intuition Goddess Quilt a few weeks ago.   My friend Jackie gave me the old quilt and a few others.  This one was the most faded and worn (there are many places where the fabric is completely gone and the batting is melting away too) and one day I had to urge to start drawing on it in marker, so I did.

It’s been hanging on the wall in my studio since then.  in-between other work, I’ll go to it and add some color or fabric.  But today I jumped into it again.

I feel like I have so much stirring inside me from reading Women Who Run With the Wolves, so many ideas and images.  But I’m also reading a book by Marija Gimbutas called The Language of the Goddess.  Actually it’s more pictures than words, it all about the sculptures and symbols of the ancient goddess.

So all of that going through and coming out of me is what’s in this quilt.  I’m trying not to think about it too much, letting my  intuition guide me.

This is so different from anything I’ve done before, yet it’s easy to see how it came out of everything else.  I imagine when it’s all done, I’ll understand it all more.  Here’s some details of what I have so far….

goddess quilt detail glory dog

goddess quilt detail goddess o fflowers

goddess quilt detail  ballerina

goddess quilt detailshoe

goddess quilt detail goddess surrounded by flowrs

Being Still with Chloe

Monday, July 27th, 2015
Jon with Fanny(behind Lulu) Lulu and Chloe

Jon with Fanny (behind Lulu) Lulu and Chloe

Let’s just stop I thought, lets just be still.   Chloe and I got to that point in riding when she just wanted to go back to the barn.  I could feel the struggle beginning,  my mind went through a pattern of thoughts that’s become familiar.

First I get discouraged and just want to give up, then I think I need help, then I get angry.  This time when I felt myself starting to get angry,  I did something different.   We just stopped.  Chloe stood still with me on her back and we stayed that way until I felt calm again.  It didn’t take long, maybe a minute or so.   I felt myself sink into my seat then looked in the direction I wanted to go, turned my body and gave Chloe the slightest tap with my heels.  And off we went, with no trouble at all.

But how do I stay in that place of calm and clear direction, when I always feel like there’s so much to think about,  so much to remember.  I guess the answer is, I don’t stay there.  I just try to remember to keep coming back to it.  Like when meditating and the thoughts come in, and I let them go and bring myself back to my breath.   And maybe over time and a lot of practice,  I’ll be able to stay there longer and longer.

The Red Shoes, Living a “Handmade Life”

Sunday, July 26th, 2015
new

A new drawing

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting on our front porch reading Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ interpretation of the fairy tale The Red Shoes,  in her book Women Who Run With The Wolves, and I stared to get this uncomfortable creepy feeling.  My first instinct was to put the book down and do some gardening.  Basically run away.   But I decided to sit it out.  To try and understand why I was feeling what I was.

Do you know the story?  Again, like with Bluebeard, there are many different versions and interpretations, but this is the one that made me shudder because it touched something deep inside me.   And not something solely from the past, something that I’ve been carrying around with me  since I can remember, something I thought I knew.

The story of The Red Shoes goes like this…

There’s a poor, motherless girl who spends her days scouring the woods from morning till night for food to eat.  She had no shoes, but over time saved scraps of leather and eventually made herself a pair of red shoes.  One day an old lady in a gilded carriage comes and asks the girl to live with her.  She gives the girl food and clothes, but the girl now has to live by the old lady’s rules.  She has to dress a certain way and behave a certain way and no longer has her freedom.  Then the old lady burns the girl’s hand made shoes and takes her to the shoemaker to get  a new pair of shoes. The girl is upset because she loved the shoes she made but at the shoemakers sees a pair of shiny red shoes and buys them.   When she wears the shoes to church, people are horrified, and a man puts a spell on them. The girl finds that while she’s wearing the shoes, she can’t stop dancing.  Then she discovers that she can’t take the shoes off.  The Old lady dies and the girl dances her way across the countryside and back home again where she see’s a man with an ax and begs him to cut her feet off so she can stop dancing.  The shoes and her feet dance away and she spends the rest of her life crippled,  trying to make a living in the service of other people and never again wishes for red shoes.

The Red Shoes, like the Bluebeard story, is one of those that has always intrigued and horrified me.  But I could never really grasp it’s meaning.  Even when I first read Estes version of it 20 years ago, I didn’t get it.  But yesterday, I understood it in a very personal way.  Because it’s my story.  I lived it.

In my first marriage,  I gave up my creative life, my “handmade life” as Estes calls it, for what I thought was security.  I gave my life away, because I was too afraid to live it.  I was afraid to take responsibility for myself, to try, to fail, to succeed. I fell into the trap of the promise of an easy life.  The idea that someone else would take care of me.  But at the time I thought I was self-sufficient and independent.  I never would have admitted that this is what I was really looking for.  I rejected the idea when  I saw it in the relationship between my parents.  When they taught me it was how to live – that I needed someone to take care of me, to make my life easy, if only I gave up what I wanted for myself.

Instead of looking inside myself, discovering my own  way to live,  I looked outside, for the easy way.  And of course it isn’t really easy, because that life requires that you give your freedom, your soul away.

But the thing that made me feel creepy, as I read the story yesterday, was not in the past.   I knew I had changed when I got divorced 7 years ago.  I took my life back, found my creativity again, found real love, and started taking responsibility for and living my own life for the first time.   And even though I am now living the life I want to, I realized there’s still a part of me that desires  the easy life.

Because the creative life isn’t easy.   I work a lot and make very little money.  It’s unpredictable and not secure.  There’s always the balance of making what I want and making what I know I can sell.  There are no regular paychecks or paid vacations or sick days.

Reading The Red Shoes made me see that the desire for the easy life  still lives inside of me and that’s why I got that creepy feeling.  I  didn’t want to admit that it’s still a part of me.  Sometimes, on bad days, I still want someone to take care of me. I also know that that I’ll never let that happen. Sometimes, that frightens me, like right now, as I write this.

But  acknowledging it, being honest with myself about it, made me really understand for the first time, that the creative life I’ve chosen to live doesn’t have the kind of security that my mother wanted for me and I thought I wanted for myself.

And there’s something liberating in that.   In not having to worry that I should have more, or what many other people have.  That this is my choice and I’ll figure life out.  Not in the way I was taught, or my parents did, but in my own way. I can take care of myself.  I’ll live my own “handmade” life.

That’s why the story is so disturbing to me.

I don’t want it to be true

Fate and Her Toy Bear

Friday, July 24th, 2015
Fate with the stuffed bear that Karen made for her

Fate with the stuffed bear that Karen made for her.

Fate has a lot of toys, in the house and in my studio.  One of her favorites is the green bear that Karen Heenan made for her.  And it’s held up really well considering how much Fate like to chew on it.

When Karen sent her girl’s dresses made from tablecloths to me to show and sell at the Bedlam Farm Open House in June,  she included  the green bear for Fate.   Now Karen is selling the dog toys on  ETSY  and Fate is her model.  When Fate first got the toy I sent pictures of her enjoying the bear to Karen.  She asked if she could use them on ETSY  since she doesn’t have a dog (although plenty of cats) and I thought it was a great idea.

Fate’s the perfect model, there’s a sweet picture of  her sleeping and using the bear as a pillow  and another of her chewing on it.   The bears are only $6 and come in a whole bunch of different colors.

Karen’s going to have some of her work at the Bedlam Farm Open House in October.   I’m going to ask her to bring some of her bears.  But if you can’t make it to the Open House or just can’t wait till then, you can get one here, and see Fate in her first modeling job too.

The Last Tree Potholder

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

last tree potholder

It was like just finishing a delicious meal, so good I ate too much, then the dessert comes.  Something rich and gooey, with whipped cream on top.  I take two bites and just can’t eat any more.  I want more, it looks so good, but my stomach can’t do it.

That’s what I felt like when I sat at my sewing machine, stitching the last Tree Potholder.  Like I just couldn’t make one more. My mind said yes, but my body said no.  And I thought, I’m done.  Done making Tree Potholders.

It happens with all my potholders, but usually it’s not so definitive.  Usually I just move on without really thinking about it.  Or the idea that I’ve been working on, (like the everyday goddesses)  naturally evolves into something new.

But today, it was visceral.  I actually saw a creamy dessert in my mind when it hit me that I couldn’t  stitch another tree.

It’s possible the Trees will come back, but if they do, I think it will be in another form, or with another purpose.   But I feel like I’ve already moved on.  I don’t know to what yet, but making space for the next thing is a good way to begin.

 

Finally Fate

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

finally

I always miss Jon when he’s away, but today I really missed him.  He’s in New York at a Yankees game with his daughter Emma and her husband Jay.  I’ve seen enough baseball games to last me the rest of my life, so I stayed home with the animals.  And today it seemed  like we have twice as many animals as we did yesterday.

I can’t say I didn’t realize how much Jon takes care of Fate.  Because I’m aware of those times when I’d actually rather wash the dishes or do the laundry and let Jon deal with her.   But with Jon away, some extra little devil erupted in her.

She dug up the begonia in the flower pot outside my studio door, knocked over a candle spilling wax, but luckily not setting anything on fire, threw up  on my studio floor, and chased a chipmunk during our walk in the woods disappearing for a scary five minutes or so (probably eating what she would later puke up in my studio).

By the afternoon, I was longing for Lenore and blessing Red.

But finally, finally, around 9pm she  curled up in her bed with her new squeaky, stuffed, eggplant and fell asleep.  And in all her quiet stillness, all is forgiven and forgotten…..until tomorrow.