Tuesday, July 10, 2018

So.... You Want to be an Artist.

For the last several weeks, I have been working through The Artist's Way. This book has been out since the 1990's and I've been aware of it for over a decade, although this is the first time I've picked it up.
I need all the pens. I wish I had more pens. In all the colors.

Each chapter is a new week, with new ideas and new exercises to help you unlock the artist within, and to remove blocks that have been placed there; either by yourself, other people, or circumstances of life.

The ultimate goal is to give yourself permission to Create. Because after all, you were given these talents; you may as well use them!

While my focus is currently on The Artist's Way, I am using it in conjunction with Creating on Purpose. I'd already started that book prior to picking up the second, but they complement each other well.

I'm currently on Week Five of The Artist's Way. Each week focuses on something a little different, and depending on your set of circumstances things will resonate differently depending on the focus. Personally, this week is really hitting home for me.

This week is all about what happens when a blocked Artist doesn't use their gifts. It's also about confronting all the reasons why we "can't" create; all the reasons holding us back, big and small. It's about all the things we're not "allowed" to do, and how we lull ourselves into a false sense of virtuosity by putting ourselves on the back burner while going out of our way to fulfill everyone else's needs.

It's about all the things we wish we could do. Seriously, one of the exercises was to finish the phrase "I wish" eighteen times. On the nineteenth, you completed the phrase "I most especially wish." My answer:

I most especially wish I had Jedi powers and could wield a lightsaber.

Ironically enough this is the one wish I'm truly working on fulfilling (hello Green belt in Kempo with an eye on a weapons class starting in September that will include Bo Staff work).

But I digress. This week's exercises have really pulled to the foreground just how much I subvert my needs and desires under the umbrella of "serving others" and "being a good person."

There will always be more grocery runs, more laundry loads, more meals to cook. There will always be more walkies, more lawn mowings, more driving all over town doing errands. They aren't going anywhere. And yet, where they've been going is ahead of my writing, my creativity, my me time that would give me enough space and quiet to have some frickin' creative ideas once in a while.

Seriously, the hardest thing for me has not been the Morning Pages (three pages of journaling every morning), but the weekly Artist's Dates, where you do something all for you that you will find fulfilling and - most importantly - fun.

You guys, I suck at Artist's Dates. Here's how the last four have gone:

  1. Week one: never happened
  2. Week two: Successfully completed exactly what I wanted to do, and had a great time.
  3. Week three: wanted to go berry picking, then make strawberry shortcake. Got called on account of rain and a very hurtful comment that ended up with me in tears and depressed the rest of the day. Ended up calling an early morning walk I did prior to the comment as the Artist's Date, although that's not what it was meant to be.
  4. Week four: had plans to take a trip to a local museum. I was really looking forward to it, but last minute family needs necessitated me postponing the date. I ended up doing a less planned Artist's Date the next day, wherein a bought a cute hat and took myself on a picnic.
I know what you may be thinking: Kate, you did three out of four! That's great! Sure, they didn't go as planned but you still got something good out of them. You should be happy and grateful that you were able to do anything at all. 

Here's my response to that: but I didn't get what I wanted.

Yes, I know you don't always get what you want. But when you're in the habit of putting your needs behind everyone else's, wanting something as simple as going berry picking and then having to do something else because life got in the way is not fulfilling. It's settling. When you spend your life settling, trying to climb out of that hole by having to settle some more is not helpful or effective.

Also, I realize that I am doing this to myself to a certain extent. I'm not completely in the dark here. It's a boundary issue as much as anything else. It's not putting my needs first. Another term for Artist's Date could very well be Self-Care. And we all know how good I am at that.

I have this week's Artist's Date planned for tomorrow. The current plan is to do an extended date (one of last week's exercises, and the one that got pre-empted). I'm getting an acupuncture/facial treatment in the morning, then I'll take myself out to lunch and then to the Museum I didn't get to last week.

That's the plan. I'm almost scared to say that out loud.

But you know what? Overall, the course is working. I bought a sketch book. I haven't sketched since high school. 
My very first sketch in over 25 years. Framed for posterity.

Last week, I wrote fiction. For the first time in almost twenty years, I wrote fiction. It was just a couple pages, never meant for human consumption. I just wanted to see if it could be done after all this time.

It could.

I don't think that will be the last. Not anymore. I'm pretty rusty; my imagination has been off limits to everyone but me for a very, very long time. But I'm interested in seeing how far I can take that.

My steps are small, and I've still got a lot of personal crap to work out. But I'm moving, god damn it. It doesn't matter if it's forward or backward; I'm moving. I'm shaking off the stagnation and trying.

And that's half the battle right there.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

In Case You Missed It....

It occurs to me...

...just now, after much caffeine...

...that some of my Dear Readers may have come here originally for my posts pertaining to Yoga, Wellness, and General Making-One's-Self-Betterness.

I am still doing these kinds of posts, although these days I'm saving them for my professional blog.

I update that blog weekly (for the most part), and I try to keep it insightful and relevant. This blog is more about personal goings-on and life adventures these days, although it's not exclusively so.

Anyhoo, if you're of a mind to read some of those other blog posts, you can find them on my website at www.triskelevt.com.

Feel free to scroll through the archives, as you see fit, and leave a comment!

Thanks for reading. 💕

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

How Do I Make this Work?

This past weekend, I took a day-long workshop on becoming a freelance book editor. It turns out, copy editing, line editing, and proofreading are all different things.

Did you know that? I didn't. They all sort of lumped together in my brainium.

It is exciting to think that maybe I could make a living with words. I would very much like to do that in my next career. I am hoping to transition to an increasingly part-time massage practice. I'm keeping hours four days a week now, and that seems fine. But the reality is, my body hurts. Keeping that pace is not going to be realistic for another eight years.

If I can spend the next two years transitioning to working with words full time (and by full time, I mean about 25 hours a week, so part time), I'll be in a good place. I'll be able to work from home - or anywhere, really - and do what I love to do.

I can make this life my own.

Now.... if I can just figure out how to become a writer/editor with ease and grace, and oh yeah, convince myself that I don't suck at either of them then I should be good to go.



Monday, June 4, 2018

Project 251: Better than Sitting Around the House

This past weekend, we went back up to the Northeast Kingdom to knock a bunch more off the list. We've still got maybe one more slog up that way to finish it off, but we're close.

Also, new milestone: we have officially completed the entire top border of Vermont!

Our blurry, coffee-stained, wrinkled map.

As you can see by our "It's Seen Better Days" tracking map, we've got a good portion of the state done. And we also have a very definitive line we seem to not cross in the south. That's going to change shortly!

Anyhoo... here are the thirteen (!) towns we hit this past weekend:

156: Berkshire, VT. I'll pinch your head!

157: Richford, VT. My dad was a railroad engineer (as in, drove the trains).
He used to come out here a lot for that.

158: Jay, VT. The winter after I graduated from college, I worked up at
Jay Peak Ski Resort in the day care. I hate snow, and I don't ski. It was
a very long winter.

159: Kirby, VT

160: Concord, VT

161: Victory, VT. Population: 62. One third of which holds town office.
All of whom are regularly Hattfield and McCoy'ing each other.

162: Granby, VT. There is also a Granby, Quebec. They have a zoo there.
When I was a kid we went up. The only thing I remember is the polar bear
exhibit, because while we were standing there one of the bear let out
a gigantic fart. It's been over 30 years, and that's what I remember.

163: Maidstone, VT. This building is pretty much it. Aside from spectacular views.

164: Guildhall, VT. Pronounced Gillhall. We stopped for lunch here on the town green.
A lovely picnic under the bright blue skies.

165: Lunenburg, VT. Somewhere along the line, they dropped the H at the end.

166: Waterford, VT

167: Barnet, VT

168: Ryegate, VT. We stopped at a cemetery so I could continue my
futile search for an ancestor. Still SOL on that. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

This is Two.

Monday the 21st was our 2-year wedding anniversary.
We build the Matrimonial Pizza, with my brother officiating and
my Chick of Honor watching. My brother heads off to the PNW this week,
and this beautiful patch of Vermont is for sale. 

What. The. Serious. Fuck.

I have been married for two years now. Best Guy and I will be celebrating four years together this September (ironically, on the same day my Chick of Honor is getting married herself).

Married two, together four. Four fucking years.

Again I say: WTsF.

The 4-course meal I made for our anniversary: Pesto Chickpea Salad Buschetta,
Field Greens Salad with Strawberries and Balsamic Vinaigrette; Cilantro Mashed Potatoes,
"Facon" Crusted Tofu, and Double Chocolate Baby Bundts.

To be honest, I still have to remind myself to call BG "husband." It's just so... foreign. But also, I just don't often think about the fact we're married. We're a bonded pair. No one with a heart would ever try to separate us into different homes. And if someone did try? Well, people would look at them aghast and with horror and disgust.

Because you don't separate bonded pairs. Ever.

It feels like everything that happened to me before BG happened to someone else. I am my best self now that I am with him. Everything else is...gone.

It all needed to happen so I could be the person I was when I first met him, and so I am grateful. But it's all very much in the past now, and no longer needed or necessary. I am here, now. With the person I am meant to be with. And it is good.

So good.

So very, very good. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Roller Coaster Weekend

It is now Monday the 14th. This past weekend was filled with my Birthday (Friday the 11th), my brother's moving sale (Saturday) and Mother's Day (yesterday). What a roller coaster of emotions!

Friday was wonderful. I woke up to some lovely gifts:
I've already managed to crack the mug. Still usable though!
The Resist sticker currently resides on the car, and I lurves it. The tree
is an essential oil diffuser for the car. OMG is smells so good in there now.

That afternoon I took myself shopping and bought a couple new items of clothing, a new purse, and a foam roller, which I am already in love with and using every night. I also bought some locally-made, female-owned business body butter and epsom salt bath stuff. Sooooo goood. I actually use some of their body butter for one of my treatment menu items; this time it is all mine.

Then I got a massage (which was - ha ha - sorely needed), and Best Guy took me out for dinner at a lovely vegetarian restaurant in town. It was a wonderful, sunny if chilly day and one of the better birthdays I've had in a while.

Saturday, we headed up to my brother's in Sheldon. After five years in their home and hosting our wedding, they are moving. He got a job out in Oregon, so not only are they moving they are freaking moving. The time frame is relatively short, so they'll be on the road next week. It is very bittersweet. I am happy that they are moving somewhere with more opportunity (Vermont was ruining them financially), but I've been pretty spoiled with having all of my immediate family members within easy reach. I guess on the plus side, I now have a reason to visit Oregon. I've always wanted to go.
My brother has a little piano from the 1930's he was trying to sell.
Of course, BG can't resist a keyboard, so he played a few tunes.

To make matters worse, Toby forgot that he likes his Grammy on Saturday and charged her, making her fall on her bum as she tried to get out of reach. Thank goodness we had him leashed, but I didn't realize what was happening until almost too late. Mom is thankfully okay (just mostly embarrassed she fell with a whole bunch of people milling around). We ended up leaving not long after that, as it was obvious Toby had been pushed to his limits. Which brought even more of a pall over the day for me. So not only am I losing my brother and sister-in-law, my dog is a douche and can't ever be trusted with anything ever.

Womp womp.

Sunday was Mother's Day. I had a full-to-bursting work shift so I was go go go all day long. It was nice to come home at the end of my long day and have dinner and some wine in our back yard, with my own "son", the aforementioned douche:

My boy, who loves cheese and rolling in the grass and walkies and naps. Not unlike his father, ironically enough.

Today I'm working from home. Well, supposedly but I've just spend a good long while avoiding work by typing this so there you go. It's another gorgeous sunny Spring day outside, so I'm thinking some of my working from home will be rolling in the grass and walkies and naps outside in the sun. Because apparently the fur baby apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Sometimes Letting Go of Your Stories Means You Miss a Few Key Details

Several years back when I was going through my yoga teacher training, I really grasped on to the idea of letting go of old stories that no longer serve you.

We all have these stories; histories that we tell ourselves must be so because this happened, or so and so said so, or it happened once to one person so it must always happen the exact same way. You get the idea.

The thing is, a lot times the old stories we tell ourselves simply become invalid after a certain point. Can you really not do the thing, or have you just told yourself you can't for so long anything else is unthinkable?

While letting go of stories that don't serve a purpose lets you move forward in life, it's also good to realize that some of your stories - your history - can't be discarded, because they are still very much influencing your present, and always will.

I'm not personally one for living in the past. Things happened, things stopped happening, people were there, now they're not. Life moves on. Interactions with people back then influence the way I relate to people now. I don't dwell too much on the people or those interactions themselves; I'm more concerned with breaking my own bad habits that were developed as a result. I don't concern myself with other people's behaviors in the past. I can't do anything about that. I can only work with myself, now.

All that being said, sometimes there is no getting around the fact that other people's behaviors in the past had a lasting, deep effect on how I live my life now.

I have been sick for going on two weeks now. It snuck up on me and I wasn't able to get ahead of it, so it did what all colds do for me...went into my lungs. I have been suffering from acute bronchitis literally all of my life. Every single year growing up, I would get it. I would suffer from monumental coughing fits that would last from five minutes to twenty minutes. And there was nothing I could do about it. Because it was/is viral, antibiotics are useless against it. All you can do is let it run its course.

The cough can linger for up to a month, which makes getting back to your life difficult. After a certain point, people stop having much sympathy for you. You complain that you don't feel well, but you don't look/sound sick. You keep insisting there's nothing to be done but that cough sounds bad and you should do something. People keep insisting that you come out and have fun because surely you can't still be sick, and when you finally do try to do something fun you have a 10-minute coughing fit with tears and snot rolling down your face and your friends look at you in horror.

All this is to say, it fucking sucks. But after 43 3/4 years I've pretty much gotten used to it. It is simply how my body works. I hate it and it's frustrating as all get out, but there it is.

The thing is, there is a reason for this. There is a story as to why I get bronchitis every year. But I forget that fact, simply because it is such a part of who I am at this point that it just never occurs to me that there is someone outside of me to blame for this unfortunate turn of events.

My father smoked. He smoked a lot.

I'm not entirely sure where he picked up the habit, but I think it was when he went into the army shortly after graduating high school. He smoked throughout my childhood; cigarettes for many years before shifting over to a pipe later on. After I left for college, he finally quit.

But for me, the damage had been done many, many, many years beforehand.

I get bronchitis every fucking year because my wonderful, loving Dad - who was about the kindest, gentlest man I've ever known, who'd never do a thing to hurt any of us in any way - picked up a nasty habit when he was in his early 20's.

It doesn't feel good to say it. My Dad died in 2001 of a heart attack. I miss him so much. The pain with which that grief can flood me even now can bring me to my knees. He loved us all so very very much, and would never have wished this upon me, and would feel horrible now knowing that his actions continue to cause me pain. Keep in mind, this was the 1970's and 1980's.... the effects of secondhand smoke were only just beginning to come to light.

Sometimes the stories we don't like to tell are the ones that are the most telling. Was I protecting him in some way? Possibly. Was I doing my best not to dwell on a past I could do nothing to change? Possibly.

But it also serves as a vivid reminder that the things we say and do to one another (no matter how seemingly inconsequential, innocuous or innocent) can have far reaching effects.

So, let go of the stories that need to be gone. But if they're still an active part of your life, don't ignore or dismiss them. Honor them, accept them as part of the history that makes you you, and move forward. It's not baggage if it is literally a part of you.

So.... You Want to be an Artist.

For the last several weeks, I have been working through The Artist's Way . This book has been out since the 1990's and I've been...