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Posts Tagged ‘balancing work and art’

There is not a cloud in the sky, only a penetrating late summer haze. Who would have known the temperatures would be in the nineties this week, humid and sultry for our day at the Minnesota State Fair. I am not geared to spend time around throngs of people. It’s something I have to get myself prepared for. Once in the right mind set, an introvert can navigate dense crowds with the best of them. But at a high price.

I like learning about clouds. There are scientific details that I will never understand. Still, I like learning the science behind their magic. My vision feels clouded the last few weeks. Leading up to Art-A-Whirl in June, there is a busyness about summer that does not let go until after the Fair. It’s a steady pattern. This year I chose to work on the yard after the arborist came and trimmed the trees. It is work that is yet unfinished. We may take the rest of the mulch and level it out for a shed base where we will store the motorcycles this winter.

Winter. Fall, then Winter. I hesitate to wonder if we will even get any snow clouds this year. Last year, I only shoveled twice. It was the strangest Winter on record. There was no Spring to speak of. The weather immediately turned so hot and humid, we had to spend most of Spring inside. The air is not good to breathe in urban areas when it gets too humid. It’s like a cloud of wet towel around your head and nostrils that follows a long narrow path into your lungs.

I am not making any sense in this practice. That is the nature of practice. I am using it to ground myself this morning, a practice about a cloud to ground a day leading into the Holiday weekend. Labor Day. What is the nature of work? What is the nature of your work. I have had so many different jobs, all leading to a single goal—a creative life of writing, photography, art. There are jobs. And then there is work, a life’s work. Creative work.

I sit in the silence of morning, air conditioner humming in the background. Silence wakes me up. Thoughts penetrate and spur emotions. When I just sit, I feel at home. Thoughts are not always comfortable. Emotions rile. Silence can be lonely. But it is what it is, and on its own terms. It took me a long time to realize that I could not live life on my own terms. I had to live it on life’s terms. That means taking the good with the bad, the difficult with the joyful, and learning to sit with both.

I found an old notebook this morning, a small 4 1/2 by 3 1/2 black book sitting on the piano. Curious, I strolled through the pages of words I had jotted down in 2009. On one leaf was a note from Harpers. In small block print, it read: psychologist revealed that the secret to a happy marriage is accepting that life without suffering is impossible.

Maybe the secret to happiness is being able to hold the struggle and the joy in the same breath. Or maybe it’s realizing that we don’t need to be happy all the time. Why would anyone want that to be their goal.


NOTE: WRITING TOPIC — CLOUD is the latest Writing Topic on red Ravine. QuoinMonkey joined Marylin Schultz and Bob Chrisman in doing a Writing Practice on the topic.

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el ojo en la mano

el ojo en la mano, icon of the eye in the hand (called “Hamsa” in Judaism) believed to ward off Evil Eye, doodle © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





It’s that time again. ybonesy and I are heading out for our annual 2 week blogcation. She’s got the Corrales Art Studio Tour coming up this weekend. And I’m gearing up for Art-A-Whirl 2010 at the Casket Arts Building, May 14th-16th. So, for the next couple of weeks, we’re allowing ourselves to be free from the pressure of posting on the blog. red Ravine turned three a few weeks ago, and in blog years, that’s a long time. We find it’s good for us to take a break from the work of blogging, to relax, and enjoy the hiatus from electronics.

We may check in once in a while. Or do a spontaneous post or two, but we’ll still technically be on vacation. Taking time to refill the well gives us a chance to revisit our goals for red Ravine and fine tune our vision. We hope to come back fresh and revitalized. In the meantime, Writing Practice goes on. ybonesy and I write together weekly in an online group. And I just returned from a retreat with my Midwest Writing Group down by Lake Pepin, where I nearly filled an entire spiral notebook.

I thought it would be fun to leave you with a few of the Writing Topics we wrote about last week in southern Minnesota (or you can choose from the Topics we’ve posted on red Ravine over the years). Thanks for reading and visiting red Ravine. Keep the pen moving, and we’ll see you in a few weeks. Ten minutes, Go!



Writing Topics


On The Lake
Blue Hippo
A Childhood Dream
I Am At Peace When
All My Life, I’ve Tried To
Mississippi
What Holds Me Back
Driving My Car On A Lonely Stretch
My First Good Kiss
I Want
I’m Afraid Of (or About, or When)
In The Still Of The Night
In The Darkest Part Of My Heart
In The Garden
My Favorite Sandwich
Sitting Still By A Lake
The Tears Of A Clown
Why Write?
One Room Cabin In Tennessee
No Topic
Plaid Wool Blanket

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Queen Detail, painting © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedQueen Detail, painting © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedToday is the 12th of July, one of those days smack in the middle of summer where all I can think about is how much I’d rather be doing anything other than working in an office for a living. I’m supposed to be writing about an object from Frederic Remington’s studio, but the place is so packed with stuff it’s hard for me to focus. There are saddles and chaps and spurs, seven paintings of a single horse standing on a Kentucky blue grass lawn, mounted antlers, a mounted rifle, a hat, masks, a bed with Mexican blanket bedcover, chair, easel, desk. I am overwhelmed, and it’s not so much Remington’s space as it is my own filled-up brain. 

Miriam Detail 2, painting © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedMiriam Detail, painting © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedThere’s an analogy that’s been bobbing around with the other flotsam in my head all day. It has to do with physical space and buildings. I want to say that if my brain were real estate, it would be a multi-use complex. Or an outdated apartment building with rooms that are too small; some empty, most filled to the brim, none orderly.  

Miriam Detail 3, painting © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedI have an urge to evict my biggest tenant, Work. Remember, this is my brain I’m talking about, and so what I’m really trying to say is, Work, you take up too many floors. You are at times an over-bearing tenant. You demand all my attention, value efficiency over creativity, and you use way too much white paint. What’s your problem? Can’t you try just once using eggshell or antique white or a velvety cream? 

Queen Detail 2, painting © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedSarai Detail, photo © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedAh, she longs to work with People of Color, you might be thinking, and while it’s true I wouldn’t mind working side-by-side with a blue woman or a green man — I’m not afraid of aliens — I’m really using white paint as metaphor for lack of curiosity. My main tenant — with its miles and miles of gray cubicles (gray is the new white where I work), its Outlook calendars and inboxes, Blackberry pagers, and snazzy teleconference calls — is boring. Even my United and Southwest frequent flier miles have lost their draw.

Rebecca Detail, painting © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedMy heart’s desire is to turn over the whole kit and caboodle to Art and its roommate Writing. Let them spill into the entire building. Give them free rein to paint the walls whatever colors they want. I trust Art and Writing’s aesthetics so much, I’d even let them gut and renovate the place. Make it into a single-story loft with lots of light and natural woods.

But then I ask myself, what am I thinking? I don’t have money to renovate. That’s my Catch-22. The job I’m hating this very minute is the whole reason we have shelter to begin with. Which means my brain’s going to resemble an overcrowded shopping mall for some time to come. Work and Art and Writing, and I haven’t even touched on Mothering or Being Daughter To My Aging Parents or Friendship or Gardening. I won’t mention the three pieces of furniture I want to refinish.

Sarai Detail 3, painting © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedJust now it dawns on me, it’s not work I mind. In fact, when I’m producing art and writing, that’s all I can think about. I’m consumed by it in a way no other job has ever held my attention. I always tell people that if we gave the same amount of energy to our passions as we give to our day jobs (which, for most of us generally are not our passions) then we’d be wildly successful financially speaking. I honestly believe that.

So what’s holding me back? How do I get from here to there without the aid of an art patron? (Art patron, if you’re out there reading this, I will have no compunctions about accepting your generosity.) And here I have to admit, I’m stuck. People keep asking me, when are you going to do art full-time, or when are you going to write full-time? My only answer is, I don’t know when. All I know is to keep producing, one piece at a time. Just keep putting it out there.


-Related to Topic post, Remington’s Studio.

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