The Truth About Our Living Room #5

I sat in the wicker rocker ice wrapped around my left foot which was propped on a pillow on the ottoman. I set my timer for 20 minutes and started to draw the room around me.

I could get used to this, I thought, sitting around the house at 11am drawing.  I was trying to be conscientious about elevating and icing my swollen foot and felt this was a good start.

When Kitty called it was like a little tea party.  After I finished the drawing and we got off the phone, I sent her a picture of it.

“Cozy! she texted back, “I like that you can see the tea kettle in the kitchen.”

After reading that I knew the drawing worked.

See all the other four drawings in this series here.

The Truth About Our Living Room

My second Truth about our living room drawing.

The candle on the mantle lit up the painting of Lenore that hangs over the fireplace. On the chair next to the couch I was sitting on, Jon was reading using his booklight.  A flashlight stood on the table between up, giving off just enough light so I could draw.

A few weeks ago I got the idea to do drawings of our living room.

The words, “The truth about our living room” came to my mind and they felt significant enough to pay attention to.  It speaks to the idea of the truth being something that is hard to hold onto.  I know that I can draw the same scene in our living room over and over again, and it will always be different.  Not only because small things may actually change in the scene, but because I will represent it according to what I am seeing or feeling when I draw it.

My drawings are not accurate in their detail, but they are truthful in their essence.

Last night, when we lost power, instead of blogging I made my second drawing of the living room.  I chose this scene because it was lit up by the candle and flashlight so I could see it more clearly than any other part of the room.

My first “Truth about our Living room” drawing I did a couple of weeks ago.

Living With A Writer

Jon in his study
Jon writing

I woke up to the glow of Jon’ ipad.  It was about 4am a sliver of a moon out the bedroom window.  I mumbled something still half asleep.  Jon’s response was,  “Last week in New York City a woman was killed by the driver of an SUV, a homeless man was killed by a car in Queens, a 63 year old woman was run over by a cement truck and lost her leg and a 9 year old boy is in a coma after being hit by a hit and run driver.”

Now I was wide awake, what the hell kind of “Good Morning” was that?  “Can you believe it”, he went on, “all those accidents and not one picture or story about them, but a horse falls down then gets up and is fine and it’s  everywhere.”  Now I understood what was happening.  Yesterday when Jon told me about the Carriage horse accident in New York he said he wasn’t going to write about it.  This is something I’ve been hearing for months, that Jon is done writing about the Carriage Horses.  I don’t even bother to respond anymore.

He closed his ipad as if to go back to sleep. But it was like laying next to a whirligig in a hurricane.  “Your brain is keeping me awake” I said, “just go write your piece.”   I didn’t have to say it twice.   When I got up at 6:30 he was still at the computer in his nightshirt.  “Have a look at this” he said.  His latest piece on the Carriage Horse.  The jewel of a sleepless night.

Jon often writes about what it’s like to live with an artist.  Well, this is just a little taste of what it’s like living with a writer.  And I have to say, it’s never boring.  Conversation and new idea do not lag in our house.  And I never know what I’m going to wake up to.

I Am

The first I Am Potholder I designed

I had just come in from feeding the animals.  Jon was in the shower so I had some time before breakfast. I could think of a bunch of things that needed to be done, but instead of finding something to keep me busy, I sat on the chair in the living room and set the timer on my iPhone for 20 minutes.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been keeping to pretty regular meditation practice.  I found that if I meditate for a half-hour a day, in one sitting or two,  I can handle my anxiety better.

Today when I sat down, I asked the question “What is the truth about me”.

I’ve asked this question before and because of it have come to question some beliefs I’ve held about myself, both good and bad. And I’ve been thinking about it that way.  As a question of morality.

But this morning as I sat, I began to feel as if I were an empty vessel.  The bottom of my belly was the rounded bottom of the vessel, the top of it opening just below my shoulders, level with my heart chakra. And the bottom, like a cupped hand, was weighted,  grounded.

And then the words, No judgment. I am. popped into my mind.

The physical sensation of emptiness and being grounded with the simple fact of my being was a safe and reassuring place.

I sat with it, basking in it, knowing when I opened my eyes and reentered the world, that I would remember it intellectually, but that the feeling would dissipate.

And that’s just what happened.  I can relay this story and still see myself as the empty vessel, but the feeling of just being is only a distant memory.

Still, it felt important enough to make me not want to forget it so soon.  And to want to share it. So I did what I do and came up with an idea for a potholder.

I knew the general shape of the vessel.  It was the rounded bottom and open top that were most important.  I found a piece of fabric that had an unused embroidery design on it.  I like the pale lines from the design and how they fell on the vessel.  I chose a different ground fabric for each one.  All with the feeling of the vessel floating in space.

Then I stitched the words I Am on the vessel and sewed it onto the backing.  I used marker to fill in the letters.

I’ll finish making these into potholders next week and will be selling them in my Etsy Shop for $25 each.


This Is Who I Am Now

“Blinded By Her Beliefs She Followed Her Heart And Saw the Truth”  is for sale in my Etsy Shop. 

“I know you like gardening” Jon said, “but this is different, you’re working so hard and you’re not happy, you’re not yourself.”

It was the morning after Memorial Day and Jon and I were lying in bed talking.  It took me while to admit it, even to myself,  but he was right, something was wrong.  I did enjoy the gardening I did everyday that weekend, but it also felt like I was hiding in the physical work,  keeping myself busy, trying to avoid something.

Lately Jon and I have been each going through our own version of feeling worthy.  I feel like I don’t make enough money and he feels like he can’t do as much around the farm.  It’s something we’d been talking about.

When I was growing up, hard physical work was valued over everything else.

The idea that women didn’t and could never work as hard as men was seen as a truth.  So, for a good part of my life,  I tried to prove my worth by doing hard physical labor.  Nothing made me feel better about myself than when someone, especially if it was a man, or best of, all my father, said “She works like a man”.

I went into my studio thinking about my self-worth that morning.

But instead of getting to work on my art, I kept the lights off, lit a candle and sat on the floor in front of it.  Then I emptied my mind and concentrated on the idea of me proving my value  through hard physical work.

This is something I’ve learned to do, to ask for help and surrender to the process.

My mind already knew what was going on, but the problem I having wasn’t something I could think through.  So I asked myself where  my sense of self denigration lay in my body.

It was like a bolt of energy shot from my brain down the front of my body directly to my vagina.  Of course I thought, it’s in my sex.  Literally in my being a woman.

But what to do about it. Intellectually, I knew this belief that women weren’t as good a men came from my upbringing as well as society.  I knew it wasn’t true, yet, still it lived inside of me.

Still with my eyes closed and the intention of understanding why I was feeling this sense of being unworthy, I allowed whatever would happen next to unfold.

It was a story that came up.

One I knew well from my childhood.  I don’t know how old I was, under ten years, for sure.  The whole family was helping to mow the lawn.  I was raking but the rake was so big and I couldn’t really use it.  My father got mad, because I was so slow and yelled at me taking the rake and showing me how it was supposed to be done.  I went, crying, to my room.

But as the story unfolded in from of me, in my mind, this time, I came into the scene as an adult, as the person I am now.  I stood in front of myself as a child, protecting her/me from our father and told him  that it wasn’t Maria’s fault, that she was too small, too young to do what he wanted.  I got angry and yelled at him.  I took the little Maria’s hand and told her to come with me. 

The next moment, we were both naked and unashamed, as if it were the most natural thing in the world,   and flying above the house.  

We flew thought the branches of the giant oak tree in my back yard, the one I use to lie under and look up into, wishing I could float in the spaces between the branches.  Then we flew over the ocean, where we used to go sometimes in the summer,  and dove into it like dolphins coming up for air again and again. 

But then I saw that there was another “Maria” still back at the house, in her bedroom.  

She was sitting on the bed crying.   So we went to get her landing in the bedroom telling her to come with us.  Be she was too scared to leave.  So I cupped my hands and she jumped into them, turning into a small ball of fabric.  

Still naked, the other “Little Maria”  and I, flew to Plaza Blanca in New Mexico, the magical place that Jon and I visited on our trip there a few years ago.  We made a fire and dropped the ball of fabric in.  

But it only got denser and darker, condensing in on itself.  So I pulled it from the fire and flying again, peeled the layers of burnt fabric apart and dropped them on to the desert floor where they turned to sparkles and dust.  

I’ve used visualizations before to understand and expel old beliefs about myself.  I go back to a familiar and often scary memory and change it by interacting in it,  as the person I am now.

It’s always healing even if it doesn’t completely change me.

I still have to be aware that I might fall back into those old behaviors and beliefs.  But the visualization is powerful and stays with me, continuing to work on me.    Going back to that place and time and changing  it becomes a part of me. Living inside my body and mind, it becomes the new story.

When I opened my eyes I had the distinct feeling that I no longer was the same person I had been. Not that I had changed that much because of the one experience, but because I was seeing myself, who I really am, clearly.

And the person I am believes in me and my self-worth, without having to try to prove it in any way to anyone else.  That person, loves her life and understands that to be in a relationship where each person can provide what the other can’t, is something to be grateful for.

So now it’s about being who I really am and acting on what I believe at the person I am now.

This is who I am now, I keep saying to myself.   And I see myself standing tall and alone, yellow light glowing around me.  And in those moments, all the old stuff falls away.



Deciding Not To Be Afraid

Shadow self-portrait with seed pod

I was walking into the living room, with a plate of cheese and crackers, where our friends were sitting having a glass of wine before dinner.   On the way I had this realization that I’ve always been afraid to offer people cheese and crackers like I was about to do.  So afraid and embarrassed, I never told anyone about it, not even Jon.

Immediately after acknowledging this, I decided that this time I would do something different, this time I wouldn’t be afraid.

Later that same evening, I got into a political discussion about something I feel strongly about.

Usually when politics come up in a conversation, I go quiet.

Politics always seem a dangerous subject to me.  I experienced too many angry arguments growing up in my family to feel comfortable expressing my point of view.   I learned from my mother when to stop talking,  how to become invisible and how to stay out of trouble.

It’s hard to write this, embarrassing to admit that I felt fear and anxiety about passing around cheese and crackers to friends.  It’s not something I thought about, just something that always was.

I don’t know where the idea to do something different came from last night.  I don’t know where the courage came from for me to let go of my fear.  I imagine it was a much desired change, shifting slowly inside of me.

I know that when I walked into the living room and offered our friends the cheese and crackers and didn’t worry, as I always have, that I was pushing food on them,  offering them something they might not want but felt obliged to eat, I felt different.

I wasn’t hesitant, apologetic or anticipating rejection.   I wasn’t offering my own issues and fears (I still don’t really understand them all) along with the cheese and crackers as I had done in the past.

It was an honest and direct exchange.  I made an offer and the person could either accept or reject it.  That simple.

And later when I was thoughtfully and passionately expressing my opinion in the conversation we were having, I wasn’t afraid either.    I spoke my mind and even though there was disagreement, no one yelled at me, no one got up and walked out angry, no one tried to make me feel stupid about what I was saying.

And even if they had, I decided I wasn’t going to be afraid of those things that kept me quiet for so long.

I know that admitting to myself my fear of serving cheese and crackers (as weird as it still sounds to me) and making the choice not to feel it, was what freed me to be able to voice my opinion later in the evening.  Because it was a truth I was embarrassed and ashamed to admit.

And the more I kept it hidden, the more I repressed it, the stronger it grew.

But bringing it into the light and acting on it, behaving differently, released its power over me.

I feel like I’ve been discovering my fears and learning to let go of them for years.  Some of them  are so ingrained in me (like the cheese and crackers), they are  such a part of who I am, I didn’t even see them as something I have a choice about.

But being honest about my fears, having  someone I can trust to tell them too, without having to worry that I’ll be ridiculed, makes confronting and dealing with them so much easier.

I had a hard time writing this piece.  In some ways it felt trite to me considering the fears that so many people have to deal with.

But it’s really about the fear, not the cheese and crackers.   It’s about understanding and being able to change myself for the better.

It’s about finding my strength and my voice, again and again.

Full Moon Fiber Art