Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A New Earth - Chapter 8 - The Discovery of Inner Space



When I sit on my front porch steps and look out, this is what I see. I love this spot. It feels so open and free when I sit on my steps and just let my eyes drift across this field. It is a very calming place to be.

I really enjoyed Monday nights class. A few points of clarification made this one of my favorite chapters so far. I understood how clinging to my woes created a limited space for me to live. I didn't completely understand how clinging to joy and happiness did the same thing. In fact, when I first read this chapter, it bothered me. Why would I want to let the good things just float away from me and not hold on to them? I had visions of being an emotionless blob. Then when I reread it, I had visions of being sad about being happy, because I knew that it would pass. As I listened, the true meaning began to unfold in my minds eye.

For Example: My son is currently home on leave. I can choose to accept that this happy time is going to pass, or I can sit in dread of his leave date. I can let his days home unfold as they naturally need to, or I can plan his every moment, constantly concerned with fitting in every necessary event that needs to happen to produce "happiness". He is eventually going to leave, either way.

By choosing to be an observer in the moment, instead of spacing off and planning tomorrow, or staring at him remembering his birth, I notice that corny smile he gives me when he wants to borrow my car. I notice that it is no less precious today as it was when he first perfected it at age 16. Hes added a click of his tongue when I give him the look. I notice that he now winks when he knows he's endured the stare long enough for approval. The next thing I know I am smiling at him smiling at me and the magic of the moment shows itself. This is what I get for not letting myself live for the past or future. This is the inner space.

This chapter also deals with Television and all of those activities that take you below thinking. We cut our satellite a few months ago. We go in phases with television. We will have it for a few months, remember why we decided to cut it off and then get rid of it a few months later. My kids have had more periods without TV than with it. I grew up without TV. There was no reception up in the Blue Mountains of Oregon. My children are fine without TV. They don't fight it when we decide its time for it to go.

Our family turns most video games into family activities. We run our own Ultima Online server where everyone gets a house and works together. We have four computers because my husband is a computer geek and builds most of them out of spare parts. All of them are in a common room we call the "Computer room". Playstation activity is usually things like Guitar Hero and the Singstar series. The whole family sings and plays together.

Our latest gaming phase has been playing D&D Pencil and Paper style. All of us sit around a table and collectively picture a problem we need to solve. (We like doing adventures that take solving riddles and puzzles) This is a way to get the kids reading, writing, solving math and logic problems or simply working together as a team. I have made a huge blackboard in our dining room that serves as a great brainstorming place. As geeks, my husband and I are very proud to hand down the traditional geek activities to our children.

The most important thing is to BE with the kids. I stopped doing some of these activities with the kids because I was concerned that I wasn't being a good soccer mom and keeping strict structure and schedules. All that worry and concern caused me to stop being in the moment and start living by a calendar for tomorrow. I am an artsy fartsy type. Living by the calendar and a clock didn't go so well for me. Not only was I not living in the moment, but I was not utilizing my spontaneous abilities (a strong suit for me) and my ego let me know daily what a failure I was.

There has been a wonderful shift in the last few weeks. When I hear my ego screaming at me to pay attention to what is important, I have found the ability to make a choice. I hear the space inside my mind gently tell my ego "Shhh... shh.... be still. It is all going to be okay. Be patient and have faith." It isn't always successful. My ego can be quite loud and obnoxious. When I am successful, I feel like God is touching my soul. A veil gets lifted and the sun on my face is a few degrees warmer. The air around me feels fresh and easier to breath. I catch myself giggling like a child. It is a strange sound to my own ears. I smile when I am alone. I didn't even realize I had forgotten to do that until I started doing it again.

This shift is having some wonderful effects on the outside as well. I am genuinely patient more often. It is not that bite your lips so you won't say anything kind of patient. It is a peaceful patience. It is a -waiting for all the facts- patience. Sometimes a fact is that the person you are dealing with will find their own solution. If you do not wait for it, you do not get to see it. After the fact, my ego wants to strangle me, sometimes. "You should have said this and that or offered to do this or that! You could have been a hero!" After I did this a few times, there was enough physical evidence to convince even my over zealous ego to chill out a little more readily. Those I have done this with feel closer to me. They perceive this as me having faith in them. I do, of course, have faith in them. I always have. I just didn't have the ability to let that faith shine past the ego. This type of connection is so much more powerful than an egoic bond. I am learning that I cannot make these kinds of connections. I allow these kinds of connections by removing the obstacles that would destroy them. It makes me want to take up sculpting.

I still don't know who I am. I don't know what my life's purpose is. I don't have many answers and the answers I do have seem to be slipping away more and more. It is kind of cool.


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Now playing: Train - Drops of Jupiter
via FoxyTunes

Monday, April 21, 2008

A True Masterpiece



Of anything I have done with my creative nature, this is one of my favorites. He just got home from Basic Training. I am a very proud mamma.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A New Earth - Chapter 7 - Finding Who You Truly Are

I think this is what I was looking for when I picked up this book. I was at the stage in my life where I was seeing who I thought I was coming to an end. I didn't like who I saw myself becoming. I was pretty sure this book was going to tell me to dream a new dream and then work towards that. I had no idea what that dream would be. I guess I hoped that unlike any book before it, I would find the dream I wanted to dream between the lines or the pages. What I got was something completely unexpected.

I didn't write about last weeks class because quite honestly, I did not know how to put into words what I was feeling and thinking. I spent a lot of years dealing with and getting rid of my "baggage". I let got of a lot of misplaced identity before I read this book. I reinvented myself many times in my 42 years. I lovingly refer to them as lives. In one life I was a soldier. In another life I was a seamstress, etc. Each life has a set of identities and a story that begins and ends. Each life brought me to the right time and place to start anew. Without knowing what to call it, I managed to do a lot of the work described in the first few chapters. So why did I feel so very lost?

The fact is: Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding from the world. You are withholding it because deep down you think you are small and that you have nothing to give. - Page 190

This answers so many questions. I almost feel silly for not finding this conclusion myself. What I am experiencing seems a lot like those with an eating disorder. I changed my behaviors. I changed my thinking. I changed my outlook, but when I looked in the mirror, I could not see that I had grown and had become a much larger person because of it. I was always hopeful. In fact, I was so hopeful, that it became my identity. I became "not there yet".

I am not sure if this makes any sense at all in words, but it is making a lot of sense in my life. The need for validation is slipping away. Things like: needing people to hear my story so they can see how far I have come or needing people to notice the nice things I do, so they can tell me I am a nice person. The best one of all is needing people from my past to finally come and tell me they were wrong about me. That was my favorite fantasy.

Way back in the beginning of the book it says:

You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you and allowing the goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness. -Page 13


That meant something when I read it. It is highlighted in pink, which means that I found it useful before I started tuning into the classes. It means something absolutely huge to me now that I have had an opportunity to absorb it and really give it a life test.

I recently told myself that I do not need to know why people love me. It is really none of my business. That was very hard for me to do. I wanted my children to love me because I was a good mother. I wanted my husband to love me because I was a good wife. I wanted my cousin to love me because we are spiritually connected. I worked very hard to be lovable. I wanted proof that all that work meant something. I didn't realize that proof was all around me and had manifested itself because it didn't take the form I assumed it would take. Letting myself be loved in ways I could not predict has been an amazing experience.

To awaken within the dream is our purpose now. When we are awake within the dream, the ego-created earth-drama comes to an end and a more benign and wondrous dream arises. This is the new earth. -Page 210


My tank is not only getting filled, it is overflowing. My family views this as me loving them more. Maybe they are right. I'm not sure. I am not going to give my ego the opportunity to hack this into describable pieces. Lucky for me, everything is as it should be and not my tiny little idea of what it would become. I am learning to cherish those moments when my mind goes blank and I cannot think of the words to describe what I am feeling.

When I used to hear wise people say that happiness, joy, love or any of those good feelings came from inside you, rather than outside you, I always understood that to mean that I needed to look at the bright side or change my opinion to a glass being half full. It isn't really a matter of changing how I think about these things. It is changing the need to think about these things that made a huge difference.

The joy of Being, which is the only true happiness, cannot come to you through any form, possession, achievement, person, or event--through anything that happens. That joy cannot come to you--ever. It emanates from the formless dimension within you, from consciousness itself and thus is one with who you are. -Page 214


Yeah... that!



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Now playing: Alanis Morissette - Head over Feet
via FoxyTunes


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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ADD, ADHD, Right Brained or What?



I found this talk on TED that truly sums up what I have been experiencing with my own child.


My youngest son has been struggling in school all year long and it seems that there is "no choice" but to test him for ADD/ADHD. I must have given them "that" look when they suggested this because his speech teacher raised her hands and said "I know, I know, I don't like the idea of putting kids on medication any more than you do". He is also getting tested for dyslexia and any other learning disabilities that may exist. I think they left autism out. Are they trying to say my son is "unteachable"? What exactly does it mean when the teacher wants your son tested for the full gamut of learning disabilities?

I have been reading "A New Earth" and showing up at all of the Monday night classes. This is a great opportunity to work on acting outside the ego. I agreed to do the preliminary worksheet of observed behavior. I agreed to have him tested at the beginning of next year. I won't let my own ego get in the way of my decision concerning my son's education.

Once I got it and began filling it out, I wished I hadn't. That worksheet is incredibly one sided and very inclusive. "How many times a week does your child get distracted from his tasks? Does your child lose focus more than once a day, once a week, once a month, once every three months?" He is 10. He gets distracted. He isn't the only one. If I filled that worksheet out for everyone of my kids, I might have to have them all tested. If I filled that worksheet out for some of my kids' friends, they might have to be tested. In fact, that worksheet described nearly every 10 year old kid I know. Heck, maybe I am ADD/ADHD. When I have to do laundry I let all kinds of things distract me. I hate folding socks.

What that worksheet did not have on it was questions regarding how many times he stayed on task. "Did your son spend two hours laboring over details on paper that include doing math, writing and paying attention to details about his character?" Yes! Oh my goodness yes! He does that! "Can your child remain focused on 4 hours of Dungeons and Dragons and make decisions for his character that seem to fit the characters personality?" Why yes.. yes he can!

The other thing that seems very unfair to me is that we all agreed at his first conference that spelling was a major issue. He can study his little butt off, but getting letters in order to form a word just escapes him. Knowing this, the complaint is that he is still having big issues with spelling. If he could not spell the words given to him in August, why would anyone believe that he should be capable of spelling words given to him in April that are harder? At this point I ask, which of us is learning deficient?

Should I take into consideration his relationship with his teacher? It has not been a good year. She really doesn't seem to like much about him. He stutters, he talks too much, he wiggles and he daydreams. He really doesn't like to be around her. He likes having substitutes. Do they take any of this into consideration?

According to what I have read, if he is diagnosed with ADD, the most common treatment is stimulants. The side effects of these stimulants include inability to sleep, anxiety, etc. So to get rid of the side effects, they often prescribe anti-depressants. So we need to give him an upper to calm him down and then a downer to calm him down even more. My head is swimming with visions of pills and reactions. There is no medical test to measure the chemical imbalance in his brain. There is no test to see how the medication they give him is treating the chemical production. At best it is an educated crap shoot.

Since this is a brain disorder, I have been reading up on the brain. I found some very interesting information on Learning Link Technologies about brain functions and some of the various things that might be helpful to boost some of those deficiencies. The more I read about brain dominance, the more I am convinced that my son is right brain dominated. When he is talking, his eyes get that non focused look like he is referencing the image in his head and searching for the right words to communicate what he is thinking.

If spelling and being able to do miles of math worksheets where not the measurement for a child's intelligence, would he be having this trouble? He is eternally curious about how things work. He is constantly solving problems in his non-school life. He loves tools. He is pulls things out of the trash to make new things with. If they gave him a screw driver instead of a pencil and told him to do something with it, would he be learning deficient? How is it he is learning deficient if he cannot put letters in order, but the child that cannot put together a bow and arrow out of a stick, duct tape, string and a wooden skewer is not?

We have learned that if anything is missing in our home, he usually knows where it is. At first we used to accuse him of being the one that put those things there, but as time progressed, we realized that he has an incredible memory for these things. When we ask him where something is, we can almost watch him producing slides behind his eyes searching in his mind where he remembers seeing it. From everything I have read, this is right brain dominance at work. Will medication cause him to lose these pictures in his mind? I cannot find the answer to this question.

If I have to choose between making him scholastically acceptable or keeping this incredible gift of vision that he has, I choose the gift.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pugnacious


The word of the day at dictionary.com was Pugnacious. I was just playing around with what pugnacious might look like. I didn't have an eraser handy, so I just left my search lines. I noticed that what I thought might indicate pugnacious didn't always work once I got it on paper. It occurred to me that part of the reason some of these seem more sad than argumentative is because when I think of pugnacious, I think of a grumpy old person that is all alone. I think its very interesting how both lonely/sad and angry showed up on the page.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tuesday Sketches




Just some sketches. The last one is doodling for the sake of doodling. I didn't try to make anything in particular. I was just listening to an audio book and paying more attention to that than I was to the doodles.

I started this sketchbook in June of 2003. One of the first things I do in a sketchbook is write the date on the backside of the cover. I have many other sketchbooks. I have themes and lessons and progressive sketchbooks. The covers are clean and neat. They are not messy or smudged. There isn't nearly as much in those as there are in this one.

This particular sketchbook is chaotic. When I open it, I just come to a page and start drawing. It is not linear. Some sketches are upside down. Some sketches are things I have put on top of other sketches. Some pages are full. Some pages have a line of intention with no follow up. There is no way of knowing (I know, but no one else knows) if what they are seeing is years old or if it is very recent. Despite or because of the chaos, this is the most comfortable sketchbook I have. This is my freedom spot. This is not "art" it is just a place I come to make marks.

I notice that if someone picks this up, I tend to feel very defensive. I try to get it out of the hands of others as fast as I can. I feel embarrassed and ashamed. I visualize the art I think should be in a sketchbook I want others to see and this is not it. I feel like I have been caught not doing my best. That is really kind of silly of me. It is, after all, only a sketchbook.

I really need to stop worrying so much about judgment from others. A critique is one thing. That is meant to help and improve upon what is already there. Judgment and sketchbooks are just not meant to be put in the same sentence. Ooops.. I just did that didn't I? I am really considering turning some of my other sketchbooks upside down and sideways and just making random marks on any page so they will become as comfortable as this one.

In reality, there are so many sketches of my husband and kids in here it is hard not to notice how incredibly important they are to me. I spend hours looking at them and trying to memorize and document the angle of their chin, the size of their eyes, the very different slouches and mannerisms. I paint still life after still life and show everyone the good, the bad and the ugly. I am not sure why or how I made the distinction that it is okay to show those and not this. That too, is kind of silly.


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Monday, April 07, 2008

The Creative Mind and Image Streaming

I was browsing through Jafabrits blog on Friday and came across this post. That lead me to 32 Traits of Creative People.

After reading through it, I was going to give my reply, but I got completely caught up in clicking link after link. I am a sucker for creative challenges and creativity boosting. No matter how many of those traits I can identify with, I want to be more creative. No. I need to be more creative. I crave creativity.

Many relentless clicks later I came across an article on visualization techniques called "The Last True Magic". This is the act of closing your eyes and visualizing something to the point that you can draw without a model. While I have done something similar to this before, I have not tried this exactly this way. This is something I have to play with. There are some really great ideas for tapping into visual memory.


Just when I thought I was done browsing the web and ready to start playing with this theory, I gave one more click and landed on Image Streaming. Image streaming is quite simply recording in as much detail as possible those images you get when you close your eyes. I am already a big fan of daydreaming, so this is taking it to another level. Apparently, this is not just a huge depository of images for the creative mind, but this also helps improve your intelligence. Einstein used a similar method in his work.

Like a good wife of the ultimate skeptic, I did a google search to get a second opinion of this. It is on Wickipedia, so it has to be true! I found the scientific information I needed to explain it to my husband on The Enchanted Mind.

The theory here is that if you are speaking aloud an experience that you are witnessing in your mind, with your eyes closed, you are actually causing the brain to make neural connections cross-hemispherically that were previously not there


They also had an article on doodling that almost sidetracked me from my investigation. While this can lead you to some very interesting spiritual theory and creative uses for image streaming, I am primarily concerned with creative problem solving and creative thinking.

My husband and I gave this a try. We are working on a creative project together and thought "what the heck". I think it is very important to warn you that if you do this before you go to bed, you may end up having some very interesting dreams. We did not experience anything harmful or scary, but both of us reported dreaming vividly. I could not recall any of my dreams. My husband solved a very important problem in his dream. What the problem or solution was, is unknown. However, we did both wake up feeling very clear. This could be due to the very meditative nature of image streaming. One of the side benefits of doing this as a couple is that it was fun. If you are broke and bored, this is a great money free activity!

Here are some additional links:
Image Streaming and the other fifty percent
Boost your brain power in under 10 minutes!

This is a link to a portal that uses image streaming in an ongoing project:
Project Sanctuary

I am not sure if this makes me:

20. self-actualizing The psychologist Abraham Maslow created this term in the 1960s representing the ultimate motivator of people the need or desire to be all you can be, to be what you were meant to be.

or

25. curious
Like the Cheshire Cat of Alice in Wonderland, creative people are continuously curious, often child-like.

but it definitely falls under:

11. able to fantasize
Stop looking out the window Billy. Susie pay attention. Teachers, parents, and even friends often tell creative people this. Highly creative people love to wander through their own imaginary worlds. This is one of the major themes of the very popular cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes. Both Calvin and Hobbes (Calvin's alter ego?) are perpetual CRAYON BREAKERS.

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Lots and Lots of Sketches

Sketch
Sketch
Sketch
Sketch
Sketch
Sketch
Sketch
Sketch
Sketch
Sketch
Sketch
Sketch
Sketch
SketchSome sketches out of my sketchbook. Most of these are just some random doodles I have toyed with. Some are from my living room, some from my head. I enjoy just sketching. It is very relaxing and helps me plant seeds for later. Most of these doodles will never become a finished product.

Sketching is a way of forcing observation. Many times I will catch myself overlooking the obvious when I paint. My observation skills get lazy while I am thinking of color, value and palette choices. I become so involved in how to get the paint on the surface that I forget what the form is doing.


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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Artist Blog Search

There is a new Artist Blog Search! Go check it out!

That Smile


That smile has brought me more joy
than a lifetime supply of dark chocolate.

That smile has brought me more warmth
than fresh socks out of the dryer on a cold morning.

That smile has come to give me a hard time
relentlessly picking at my nerves.

That smile has come to me when I needed it
without my asking, without warning.

That smile reminds me that there is laughter
and the world is amazing and kind.

That smile reminds me that success is abundant
without any fortune or fame.

That smile knows where to find me
when even I don't know where I am.

That smile smiles at me, the inside me
not just a title, a role or a name.


Got the under layer mostly blocked in. I will probably fiddle with it a little more and then add some color layers.

Two Websites I Love to Read

I am not usually too far out of the visual artist circles when it comes to browsing blogs. Quite by accident, I have recently been getting hooked on two blogs that have nothing to do with pencils and paintbrushes and the smell of turpentine.

The first one is Rock Paper Scissors. She has an adorable etsy shop and you can buy her books on her website. Theresa has been journaling her thoughts and experiences with "A New Earth". I like how she gives a small window into how she is working things out. I find myself thinking "Me too!' as I read her posts.

The second website is Nardeeisms. This is one of the most unique blog concepts I have come across. She writes about her daily life and gives each day a song that corresponds. Her writing is fresh and her ability to tell a story is delightful. A small dose of Nard in the morning with a cup of coffee and I find myself singing the day through. I am completely addicted.

Now that I have added these to my blog lineup, let me go sing a song and draw something.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Tri and Tri again.


The Power of Three
6x6 Oil on panel

I have real issues with ellipses. I can't think of a thing they have ever done to me that makes me treat them so badly. I feel terrible when I am done and I realize that I have mistreated them, but in the moment, when I am standing there with paintbrush in hand, I am just.. well.. abusive.

To make up for it, I was really really nice to my website guys that can't figure out why some IP's are blocked to my website, including mine. I know, an abusive relationship is still an abusive relationship no matter how nice you try to make the public feel about you.

Maybe I will be nicer to the ellipses tomorrow. Perhaps I will see them for who they are and not my perception (Which seems a bit wonky) of who I think they are. Perhaps they will feel loved and lovable and stop giving me such a hard time in return.

If at first you don't succeed Tri and Tri and Tri again.



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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A New Earth - Chapter 5 - The Pain Body

The greater part of most people's thinking is involuntary, automatic and repetitive. It is no more than a kind of mental static and fulfills no real purpose. Strictly speaking, you don't think: Thinking happens to you. - Page 129


My mind is like a television of reruns of my life with lots of commercials. Even when I am thinking about options for the future, its only a rewritten rerun of a show that doesn't exist. What I find most fascinating about this concept is that I have choices. I can choose to turn the television off for a moment and just breath or I can choose to stop assuming these thoughts are real. When I watch "Bones" or "House" on television, I don't assume anything is real. An even better idea is to perhaps change the channel to something much more useful to my life.

Wow!

If I were watching the news, my story would go something like:

She was born in Hermiston, Oregon. At the age of 3 her mother died. She was raised by her grandparents until the age of 7. Etc. etc. etc.

If I chose to watch the news, the story is pretty brief and mostly painless. So what is my pain body? It is my inability to let go of the story I told myself about myself. This story is my soap opera, my nightmare, my television series. By adding drama and emotion to this story, I have made it much more interesting and much more memorable. As a very creative person by nature, let me tell you, these stories are awesome, but they are useless. Why? Because I don't need the stories of the past or the potential future. I need what is happening now. What is happening right now is that I waste a lot of thought on the past and the future.

I am going to be alone. I am stupid, ugly, fat, a failure and I have nothing important to say. I am not worthy, creative , intelligent or classy enough. I am unforgivable, unlovable, unbelievable and untrustworthy. If you want me to prove it, you simply have to get the remote to turn on my television in my mind. That is the other part of the pain body. The part that hands all of these negative thoughts and emotions to the power of a one button ignition to another human being. Then when they push that button, we blame them. We attack them. We grab their remote and turn their minds television on. We know exactly what channel plays what. Let the reruns begin!

Probably the most amazing discovery of all is how very creative I have been in the past. It takes great creativity and a huge amount of energy to maintain a pain body. Pain bodies are hungry and take constant feeding to stay alive. When I exhausted my supplies of a painful childhood, I created painful additions in my young adult life. When it was no longer practical to feed it alone, I added husbands and children and tragedies that would haunt me until my life had ended. That is, until my identity with my pain body ends.

We only know what we believe to be true. If we cannot change the truth, then the only other option is to change what we believe.



I invite you to watch this video.

You can see a few more that I have put into a playlist HERE.
Byron Katie has a website with downloadable worksheets HERE.
Oprah and Eckharts class can be found in various forms HERE

When you peel off the layers of deception and mistaken identity; when you reach inside to what is under all the pain there is a powerful, yet fragile beauty that exists. This beauty can exist in everyone you see, if you are willing to accept it in yourself. As I look in the mirror that I set up to do another self portrait, the woman looking back at me is just a little prettier today than she was yesterday. She looks happier somehow. Wiser. Stronger. Innocent.

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