Awwww… I know – bummer. No picture to tempt you to click on the link. I hope you’ll follow it anyway.
I have begun the onerous undertaking of revising all of the categories that I’ve used on my blog and consolidating them into less random groups. Now down to 14 pages (there were initially 18), and 270 categories (seriously?! who needs that many flippin’ categories?!), I still have a long, long way to go. This is a tiny part of the very slow process of streamlining and updating my blog, which I have thought of doing many a time but dismissed as too unwieldy a project – until now.
With a little more time at my disposal, I can at least clean it up so that when I have a little more money at my disposal I will be able to give it the facelift that I intended to give it for some time now. I am still uncertain what parts will be nipped and tucked though. I’m not sure where I’ll be going with the blog, if any deviation to its current trajectory will happen.
When I first started posting stuff to the interwebz, it was a vast expanse of open land, kind of like the Wild Wild West. Lots of scrub brush and sage, some tumbleweed and only a few shanty towns along the road. Only a few people were generating enough income (through syndication) via their blogging to make a decent living doing it, and the publishing industry was still predominantly a tactile one. Not so much anymore. Publishing has embraced digital technology with open arms (though I imagine it was a difficult transition for many operations) but this new forum is enabling smaller publications (which is a VERY good thing) the sort of voice that was no longer possible within the print world (at least not without a whole lot of financial backing, which let’s face it most small prints didn’t and still don’t have at their disposal).
Initially, blogging was an extension of personal journaling, either to a closed group (i.e., family and friends who would be given access to the online material via a link) or publicly, but it was mostly accessible in an aggregate sort of way by visiting the sites themselves. They looked far less pretty than they do now, and even when they started becoming more customizable and wysiwyg, they required at least a little bit of coding knowledge if you wanted them to do what you wanted them to do. Or, if you wanted to pull away from the flock, you had to integrate them into your personal website, but doing that also made it difficult to generate the traffic necessary for it to actually be a monetized enterprise unless you already had a decent readership in place.
When I first started posting this stuff, it was really as a way to connect with people that I knew from various art boards or local art community, or those who were specifically interested in my art process and its results; those who enjoyed reading my writing, who embarked willingly upon the wild ride that my mental gymnastics would more often than not take them on. My great idea of “monetizing” was to jump on the affiliate bandwagon, or to adopt banner ads, neither of which generated anything remotely adequate as a living income. I thought that signing on as an Amazon associate was brilliant because a) I read a lot of books, and b) I purchased a lot of books, and I would often share with my blog viewers info on my purchases. This was relatable information because we had common interests. I still share my book links, and hope that it will in some small part drop a few coins into my revenue jar, at least enough to supplement my book addiction costs (which have been severely curtailed over the last half decade, but especially now that I have become unemployed).
Now because I have so many diverse interests, I suppose my posts can draw a very diverse crowd, not necessarily interested in each other or even in every possible tangent that I may write about.
But really, this whole blogging thing that I do continues to be what it started off as – a live (and very personal) accounting of my journey through life and my attempt to make sense of it as I go along. I can’t be alone in having these (admittedly at times bizarre) thoughts, but I appreciate the fact that I can share it with people even if I really don’t get a sense of it being heard so much as disseminated, because nobody comments much anymore. I get notified of a post being “liked” but that is the extent of it.
I’ve always expected this to be a sort of dialog, though, so in some respects I would like to scoop into my inner well and pull out the stuff that might be useful – relatable – relevant – to someone other than merely myself – things that resonate with those of you who have chosen to add my blog to your reading list; the sort things that keep you clicking on the links when the alert goes out that a new blog post is up.
I don’t have any how-to’s about much of anything – clearly (as you know, if you read), I am stumbling through this journey like most of the rest of the world. I haven’t achieved any celebrity, notoriety (except, perhaps, in tiny circles and in ways which wouldn’t be useful, per se), higher wisdom, great skill, wealth (or the arcane knowledge as to how to generate it), physical perfection, spiritual enlightenment or any associated message relating thereto, academic accolades, professional success, and any other variant of the things that people are looking for on blogs (or in general) these days.
I don’t have the answers. I just have more questions, and those mostly lead to the next ones rather than the answers.
With that said, I’d like to know which ones you would like me to ask more of, because it would be nice to know that you are asking the same ones, or yours might spur me into asking others that I might not have thought of. Perhaps we might come up with some answers, and if not, maybe we’ll just have a helluva good time on the journey.
Okay… so I ended up sketching something this afternoon and I’m sharing it… a little “small art”. Enjoy.
I’m sitting here at a quarter to noon with a black skin clarification mask smeared on my chin (an attempt to rid it of a spot that is and one that isn’t quite yet) post-yet-another-freebie-coaching call (this one with Stacy Nelson – who was awesome, by the way), freshly showered and dressed in what I fondly refer to as my gene string footless tights and a faded and hole-y lounging tunic.
I’ve been a blog whore lately, abundantly engaging in All That Is Free in the blogosphere (because, seriously, I’ve got less than thirty bucks to rub together until my very first EI check arrives some time during the first week of February, and I’m also wondering whether I should spend any of it on a card for my son’s birthday, which is the day after tomorrow, or just focus on what’s important and buy ingredients to make him a birthday cake instead). Decisions.
And really, that is all I have been focusing on… decisions.
Decisions I’ve made.
Decisions I have to make.
How my decisions will affect my life and the ones of those in my intimate circle.
The question that keeps coming up in all of these is:
What Feeds Me?
That’s a big question.
So much feeds me. And much also doesn’t.
Coming back to center and figuring out what truly feeds me rather than what I turn to when I seek to be fed is where I struggle. It has been a struggle that I’ve had for a very long time, and clearly I have not yet found a way to operate which truly allows for that balance to manifest.
And… I’ve been avoiding this sitting with myself bit. Over and over again. When I have (in the past), I’ve come upon the uncomfortable realization that nothing that I was or am doing, professionally (and I’m using that as a loose term because “legal administrative assistant” may sound like a profession, but really? let’s get serious…) is getting me closer to how I want to be and feel in the world. So I stuff it all down and hunker down for another bout of sucking it up and trying to be myself as best as I can in an environment that stifles and rejects uniqueness and most of the values that I, well, value most.
I make a choice. Then another. And another.
Like a pendulum, I swing wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other.
I make a choice that ends up taking me further away from center… it swings to the farthest reaches of discomfort and then, at the end of its course it has no choice but to start swinging backwards.
Then I make a polar opposite choice (or one is made for me) and I swing in the other direction… still an unbalanced way to work things, right?
One extreme; another extreme.
So despite my myriad yearnings for many other things or feelings… what I need to find first is balance. But what does that look like? How can I find middle ground without feeling like I’ve sold my soul?
Stacy asked me what it is that truly lights me up… what feelings are the ones that make me feel most seated in myself? They were:
The act of creating
Connection / Communion
Those two things are the feelings that resonate the most with me, and they drive everything that I do in my life, including that pendulum that swings back and forth, back and forth. I reach for those two feelings and sometimes get them sustainably, and sometimes get them at great expense. The process I am trying to wade through now is what expense is necessary in order to sustainably reach both of those feelings most of the time.
I mean… we all need a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs. And I’d like to up the ante a bit and say that I want to maintain a nice, beautiful and comfortable home and good food, not just sumptuous and delicious but good, vital, food. I want to not have to worry about getting to the check out counter and have to remove things from the basket in order to have enough money to pay for the groceries. I want to not have to choose between a birthday card for my son and a delicious meal to serve him on his birthday and a birthday cake.
These are all things I didn’t think too much about until a few months ago. I had enough to have and do these things, in moderation, but not more. Everything was always carefully calculated and stretched out just so. I lived pretty much within my means (give or take about a $500 gap) but couldn’t account for any contingency plan should my income disappear or greatly diminish for any length of time. I tried to plan my escape route and line up another job, but it didn’t happen in time.
Since then I’ve worked with a legal placement agency (because that is where two decades of my experience lies) and I’ve been presented as a candidate for several positions.
The radio silence is numbing. In many ways it also shadows the very feelings I have when I am in the sort of environment that I’ve worked in for the last several decades. Numb. It definitely doesn’t evoke either of those two core feelings that I wish to feel that I listed above, and while I feel connection with the people I work side-by-side with, seldom do I feel deep connection to the companies I’ve worked for, or to the driving ideology that underlies them.
For one, many of them support the kinds of things that I am diametrically opposed to (like supporting natural resource exploitation spin doctored to sound like they are being done in a “corporately responsible” way but… yeah, right… and the corporate shortsighted focus on the bottom line at the expense of sustained socio-economic stability).
I don’t have answers to the socio-economic issues that plague the modern day world and expect that there are other far more skilled and able people out there working on viable solutions, but I do know that I don’t want to further contribute to its failings by being an active participant, even peripherally.
Which greatly limits my options at the moment.
So I find myself having to make some decisions.
I’m having to search out what my core values are, and realign with them once again.
I’m having to seek opportunities for earning a livelihood that will create the sort of feelings I want to embody, in which all of my needs are met. By needs, I don’t mean surface needs – I mean the ones that underlie those surface needs and anchor us to who we are in the world.
I’m having to not feel ashamed that I have needs in the first place, and that having needs doesn’t mean that I am needy.
I’m having to view my limitations, and really look at them to figure out whether they are actual or perceived, and figure out what to do about them.
I’m having to swim through an overwhelming sea of information and figure out what is pertinent, and pick out what will be useful to me to get me back to feeling those two key core feelings that I am most happy in.
I’m having to counterbalance my wish for right-work and right-livelihood with my skills and experience, and the marketplace, and see if there is any wiggle room in there that will allow me to contribute in meaningful ways without the credentials and the experience and, frankly, perhaps even a demand for what I have to offer.
I don’t suffer fools easily, and this paradox applies to myself, equally. I can very much be the fool at times, and being the fool puts me on a journey towards self-discovery. It always leads back to self… to spirit, and that connection that I yearn for with others as well as with myself.
This is a walk of the highest vibration, which I must struggle to maintain because if I don’t, I’ll make another counter-intuitive choice. I must constantly be aware of where my thoughts are, and how everything feels in my body.
And my body is telling me this:
It’s taken almost TWO MONTHS to recover from the dis-ease created by TWO YEARS (compounded upon TWO DECADES) of walking around in someone else’s life.
Find yours. Find your life. Find your place.
And really? I’m just trying to stop from become the screaming dude in Edvard Munch’s painting…
Peace. (or peach… as I incorrectly typed and then changed, but oddly, it’s fitting, because *juicy*!) xo
I was out and about, walking the neighbourhood on this semi-sunny winter’s day. I’ll take a break from the rain where/whenever I can get it.
Home now – early afternoon and it feels like late afternoon, what with the “golden hour” glow. The days may be lengthening but it still feels like awfully short days.
There was a huge bear of a husky type dog parked out in front of Starbucks, and I couldn’t help myself – we visited. It’s ears and head were soft and smooth, while the rest was wiry and downright huggable. I’m glad it allowed me to spend some companionable time with it.
I’m getting ready to journal. I lit some white sage and waved it around the place, brewed myself a cup of coffee and I’m ready to start on some pages – or at least the first.
I’ve started with a quote from Thoreau (“There is no beginning too small.”), provided by Lisa Sonora Beam as the first of her free 30 Day Journaling Project. I have also sketched the three runes that I pulled the other day (kenaz, dagaz, nauthiz), as I contemplated this new year from its crest.
I’m feeling contemplative and feel the need to – well – contemplate. I’ve been out of touch with myself for a while. I need to reconnect.
I paid my rent. I picked up a bit of food.
It strikes me that I seem to appreciate things more when I have to consider (very carefully) where my money goes and what it is spent on. Like buying a mango-orange (because I’ve never had one before) and then cutting it up and savouring it, slice-by-slice, because I had to pull from the little I have to purchase it. I had to choose it in favour of something else. It’s sad that I must always be at the end of financial fluidity to grasp this… preciousness. Somehow, when abundance flows, the magnitude of my appreciation diminishes. I know that is my issue (perhaps not just mine but the world’s in general).
When I have, I seem to become desensitized and less grateful, or want else and more. When I yearn, I feel like I am missing out. But here, in this place of barely having but HAVING, there is the sense of fleeting and immense gratitude. Things taste better; feel stronger.
Again… if only I could hold this space when I am not so desperate, when abundance flows and I am still fully aware of the gifts, every single one.
Perhaps my chosen word for the year : FOCUS : will help me with this. Because focus connotes so much more than it’s meaning at face value and is applicable to much, from choosing projects, then working on them in a concentrated manner, to figuring out what I can contribute to the world and make a living from it, to… the delicate taste of a mango-orange rolling on my tongue.
I suppose happiness is not a constant – things ebb and flow and it is the way, but I think recognizing it when it’s there and holding space and appreciation for it when it happens, that is the key to it.
(close up of a new hand bound journal cover I am in the process of making)
Another year begins. It never ceases to amaze me how life moves along and the unexpected always happens (and somehow surprises me, because I expect things to remain constant despite knowing full well that they never are).
I begin the year with the knowledge that how things flow is largely dependent upon my own actions.
- I become disconnected from myself when I neglect my urge to create.
- Working with colour gives me joy and feeds me in a way that only it can.
- Meditation is not an option but a requisite.
- Discipline is the only path to accomplishment.
- Bliss is to be found everywhere, all the time.
- Shiva Paintstiks will rub off on your keyboard if you don’t wash your hands before typing.
- Ideas are like popcorn kernels; store them in a jar until you are ready to make them pop.
- Community, whether real or virtual, feeds the soul just as well as solitude; both are necessary to thrive.
Giving thanks to Effy Wild who went live on Ustream today and inspired me to create a new journal.
To a joyous, blissful, productive and enlightened new year.
So it has occurred to me that blogging is very much like journal and letter writing, only it is done in a public forum and one seldom expects a response of any kind. Not that one expects to get a response to a journal entry (unless you are Harry Potter and the journal in your possession is Tom Riddle’s).
During my second year of college I had signed up for a couple of English classes, part of the core program requirements of the two-year fine art programme that I had unceremoniously dropped out of the previous January. Our school was a small one and did not offer any art classes outside of sequence, so while I waited to resume the second half of the first year of the fine art programme, I had a bunch of time to fill up with non-art classes.
Fortunately, because my English language skills were advanced, I was able to skip past the precursory composition classes and pick some meatier options, one of which was to read through the works of two Canadian Margarets (Lawrence and Atwood), and the other a course called Letters and Journals, which was a study of those two styles of writing in both fiction and non-fiction. We read Marie-Claire Blais’ Tête Blanche and the journals of Anaïs Nin, and were asked to incorporate these same techniques into our own storytelling in whichever way we chose.
I had been keeping a journal, on and off, since about fifth grade, so journaling came easily to me. (Side note: A few years after I walked away from school, struggling through my young adulthood, I came upon my early writings and was so embarrassed by what I had written that I dumped them all, only to continue along a similar vein and write more of the same sort of drivel, but felt that because it was timely and more mature it was more valid. Years later still, I felt despondent at having chucked decades’ worth of my personal history.)
Upon reading Anaïs Nin’s tomes during that year (I went on to read most of her published journals), I felt sadly inadequate with the contents of mine in comparison. I felt green and embarrassed at my lack of knowledge of the world, my unworldliness. I thought that only through life experience could I amass the skills and knowledge to become sophisticated (something that my upbringing instilled in me as being an important value or trait), and that only through hardship could I become someone of substance (another illusive quality that I knew I didn’t possess but longed to).
I wish someone would have sat me down then and explained a few things to me. I wish that they would have said that experience doesn’t guarantee sophistication or a lack of naïveté, that the road of hard knocks alone won’t make us worthy of others’ respect, and that feeling worthy is something that must be cultivated from within, not measured by others’ opinions (including those of our parents, friends or peers). I wish someone would have taught me to be still with myself for long enough to hear my own voice amidst the tumult and clamour of everyone’s opinion, and find my way, not as a reaction to -or to elicit reaction from- someone outside of myself. I wish someone would have listened without judging or wishing to mould me into what they perceived to be the best way.
Stillness is hard to achieve, even on a good day, and hearing that small, still voice residing at our center even harder still. It has taken me decades to finally be able to occasionally tune in without too much interference, the chattering continuing on even without their initial owners’ voices. They mean well. Everyone means well. They just have no idea what it’s like to be in your skin, and many don’t know how to listen when you attempt to explain or lack the skills to explain it coherently themselves, if they were asked to do the same. We are a mystery, even to ourselves. We may lack the curiosity or courage to delve in.
It occurs to me that my idea of sophistication has evolved over time, and that at times in the process of becoming worldly, one loses one’s sense of wonder and perhaps even joy. And that wisdom is something hard-earned, difficult to quantify, and must be tempered with compassion and empathy in order to be effective or useful.
Ah yes… the journaling. So even now, more decades later than I am willing to admit, my written journals tend to focus on matters of the heart (read: boys). And while I am still embarrassed by what I write in retrospect, I no longer wish to destroy proof of my idiocy. We all have a little fool in us.