It happens to all of us. The nature of life is beginnings and endings, love and loss, beautiful miracles and garbage dump moments. My keys to survival, to thriving, is:
a. strengthening my boundaries
(knowing what I want and how I want to feel)
b. shifting focus onto the beauty
(nature, self-care, practices I love, moments in my memory)
c. practicing daily gratitude and prayer
Here’s Three Activities That will (Probably) Lift you Up
1.Go for a walk in nature with the intent of seeing everything. This is not a speed walk. It is not for physical fitness. It is a sensory walk. Fill yourself up with the smells, the touch of the air on your skin, the whispers in the trees. Look for what you haven’t seen before and look longer at what you have to notice what you previously missed. Take mental notes as you walk. Take a picture or two of what you notice. Say to yourself, I am soul grateful for ….. (what you’ve noticed – try to do it for five different things on your walk) See like an artist. Gratefulness like a lover.
2. Put on the new Coldplay song, Arabesque, on repeat. Turn it up loud. Dance it out until you become a sweaty puddle or your knees just can’t do it again. Dance with your whole body. I’ve heard this called ‘swamping’ but I call it shifting to soul. Good music (whatever is good to you) is soul food. When you move into soul and out of your head its easier to change your thoughts. So when you’re finally a sweaty mess, and you cant hear that song another time, stop and say to yourself, I am soul grateful for…. (the musical artist) (the ability to move wildly) (those lyrics)… Go for five statements. Move like an artist. Gratefulness like a lover.
3. This one is for those you are fearless with maker stuff. Tape a big piece of paper to your wall or table. Tape down all four sides. I like watercolour paper or poster paper. Turn your upbeat tunes up loud. Grab a pencil or charcoal or pencil and write down the garbage. Sometimes I just use the words, sometimes I can’t so I just make marks as I speak or think it out. Done? Make sure you have nothing else to say. Done now? great. Now circle up to five of the words or marks you think are beautiful when they stand alone. Scribble loosely over the rest. Notice what you love about those words or marks. Say, I am soul grateful for….. because… Do each word or mark. Now grab your gesso or white paint and a big fat paintbrush. White out the garbage that isn’t beautiful. Grab your current favourite colour. Work it loosly into the white, following the music…..keep going. No agenda….just let those beautiful words and that fat brush take you away. Stop when you are ready. What you created is not important. Go shower to be completely renewed. Process like an artist. Gratefulness like a lover.
Hope this helps.
Sherri Jean McCulloch
If you’d like to add a piece of my art to your collection, developed or developing, email me, Sherri Jean McCulloch, at firstname.lastname@example.org
I dabble in art journaling. I was reminded by a well meaning soul once that art journaling was supposed to be a two page spread. I had heard that before, and I didn’t buy into it then either.
I remember being at a well attended art workshop. The artist turned around to chat, I didn’t like that, but was kind and listened. The artist then saw a bit of something in the paint, not intentionally there, not a brush bristle but a thin strand of lint now well coated in paint. It belonged to to piece I was working through. She went into my art and pulled it out with her tweezer like nails and told me I didn’t want that there. When she looked up mid intrusion she turned back to her space and stayed that way for the next three days. I’ve been told I have an expressive face.
I’ve never been one to need or necessarily appreciate other people’s restrictions. I grew up steeped in them. They smothered me, moulded me, mastered me. Rules clouded my real dreams and my creativity for a long long time.
I snuck out from under the edges of that heavy blanket some time ago. Sure, I still abide a rule if it makes sense to me, but I have a bright inner pilot light that I trust completely.
So, when it comes to my art….no rules. If I break a rule while discovering a new way to get ‘there’, by playing outside of the lines, by expanding my experience, while expressing something that is beautiful or ugly to me, in me, then I succeed.
After a full on morning of painting, I need to take a little break. When I’m away, it’s either a walk, a movie, or an adventure. It rests me up for my next painting session.
Today I ventured off to Abbaye de Flaran. It dates back to 1151 and was purchased in 1970 by the Department du Ger for restoration.
I needed more time, but here’s a taste of what I saw.
Now that’s ‘just’ the main floor of the cloister and church. You won’t believe what I saw in the gallery upstairs!
There was also a gorgeous Monet! Where the phot went I don’t know but it was of the sea!
There are so many wonderful surprises to discover in this part of France!
Hello! It’s been a while again, I know. I’ve been writing just not here. I’ll work on that. I’ve been reading and painting and …. nothing consistently right now. I’m a creative tornado at the moment, interrupted from completing anything by my next big idea. Which I start, because I love starting something new…I just usually finish more starts than I have been this year.
For a moment today the wind seemed to lull and I had the opportunity to talk about Walk Through Walls, Marina Abramovic’s Memoir which I have been in the process of reading for a long time. She’s fierce. I can imagine myself fierce, but I would describe myself as something other than that. Dedicated, maybe. Passionate, at times. Dreamer, always. I find Marina’s ferociousness beguiling. She did not allow it to be beaten out of her. At least that’s how she tells her story.
Perhaps I’ll rewrite mine.
Abramovic is a performance artist. She’s worked with Lady Gaga and James DeFranco, and she’s been emulated by Jay-Z. She’s written books, made films, performed in the most famous big city galleries. She’s done important work and developed important contacts. She’s an intellectual, cultured, exotic, opinionated, heard. She experienced Ulay as her Diego. Marina doesn’t just make art, she is art.
It was interesting to think and explain all of this about a woman artist. Have you noticed that the past is filled with famous male artists? If you ever browse Invaluable, take note of how many female artists reside among the men. Take note also that the bulk of those female artists …Carr, Kahlo, Abramovic, O’Keeffe, Cassatt … did not have children.
What do you think about that?
I know what I think. Time for a fierce discussion about stereotyping.
When I was little, my parents had Alvin Toffler’s, Future Shock in their extensive library. Mr. Toffler was right on the mark in preparing me for change; it’s been the touchstone of my life. Every time I feel like I’ve landed, every time I feel that I’ve arrived, every time I’ve experienced contentment, there’s change to deal with.
I was listening to a podcast the other day about choice. About consciously choosing to limit the decisions we make in a day by eating the same breakfast, by wearing the same outfit, by structuring waking hours the same way.
I’ve always found routine dulling to my senses. In the podcast, the speaker specifically referred to Jobs and Zukerberg. (Black turtleneck and hoodie). Can they actually remain creative in the midst of mind numbing routines? Life as art, right? Wrong? I guess I usually find comfort in Blundstones, jeans and a soft, loose shirt. I guess a good cup of expresso and foamy milk is my usual breakfast.
I have always believed I was comfortable with change, welcoming it, jumping into it, what iffing it into being.
Most recently, because my husband works in a town 41/2 hours from our home, we bought a second one. It has stellar ocean views and it’s smaller than our first home which we bought intentionally to house the six children between us.
We are not mortgage free on either, till the death and all that, right? So, to get the second house paying for itself, we suited and put in a carefully curated AirBnB. So far, so good.
As of late October 2018, AirBnB’s in our area are required to pay occupancy taxes. In Port McNeill, it needs to be registered as a business. We then needed to update our home insurance.
Change! Change! Change!
Now, I need to learn to use some simple accounting software. Now, I need to learn how to carefully track spending.
Seriously? All I really want to do is travel and paint, paint and travel…and hang out with my tribe.
I should okay the sale of our southern house. My freedom to travel and paint and hang lies in that act.
It’s just that, it contains. So. Much.
You know, life’s detritus is in that place. And my studio is there. And stories of the past are in the walls and garden. And proximity to my blood tribe, is there.
Have you noticed that because our present and future are so all consuming the past barely exists anymore? Traditions that used to matter so much seem to have dissolved. I can’t even answer the question of why they were important other than to imagine them as the threads that bound the tribe together. Now we have cell phones. We’re in constant contact anyhow. My kids wonder why it’s so important for me to ‘be live’ with them and I wonder where these changes will lead to next.
Life with tribal gatherings is rich in pleasure, memories, history, herstory, mystory, yourstory, and drama. This is where we share and polish our beliefs and values en mass. I think that’s important to the future.
So change. Letting go. Grabbing on….
Where did I leave my Blundstones? I need to go for a walk.
The full moon; it’s always that great ball of reflected light that signals the way forward. I breathed it in and let it out, I was holding so much more than I knew.
The next morning I found a beautiful heart shape rock on my doormat. True story.
And then the rain started. In earnest. It was due. Maybe even overdue. I may have even hoped for it. I don’t mind the rain at all and it doesn’t keep me inside. I kind of like the saltless feel of it on my cheeks and lips and I like the heft of my boots almost as much as I love my feet bare.
I have been known to walk barefoot in the rain. Swimming in it is far better!
My art has taken a backseat to so much these past months. I still make some time for it every day but unpredictable things have happened forcing me to attend and participate in ways I haven’t before. I have acquired new skills that I didn’t necessarily look to have.
Look for joy, be kind and loving, and stay engaged because it’s all connected. We’re all connected.