Community is Difficult

Sometimes I think I’m too fickle for church or community or whatever. But I know that’s not really true. I think the struggle I have with community involves the need to form deep, personal relationships with those I commune with. I want to be best friends…okay, not really. But I do like talking regularly. And by talking, I mean texting, because phones are for people who don’t mind awkward pauses and anxiety-ridden, unedited comments. I want more than a once a week “hi, how are you?” Because seriously, who actually asks that with genuine interest anymore? No one really wants the answer. They would rather check Facebook on their phones and avoid eye contact. (#Guilty)

I recently started participating in a new “church” community. I say “church” because it’s more a group of people who sit around, sometimes sing, talk about God or Jesus or life, and drink beer. And talk about all the beer and how wondrous it is. Unless, of course, it’s Michelob or Bud Light. That’s not beer. It’s an insult to beer. And your liver. I digress. This church has been really beautiful and helpful as I recover from previous-church trauma. But in the last few weeks, my interest in it has waned. (And I’m about to dish out a whole lot of selfishness…so just bear with me and understand that in writing this, I’m also processing how I feel…word by word.)

A few weeks ago, one of the “leaders” approached me that a new girl was going to attend “church” and the leader thought I would get along with this girl because of similar interests observed online. No big deal, right? Sunday rolled around and New Girl showed up as promised. As it turns out, this girl is so hot it makes my soul hurt. And my jealousy rage. And even more ironically, she and my husband have a mutual connection. Dagger meet heart. On that fateful Sunday, I sat around and watched as everyone was enthralled by her. Only a few months prior, I was sort of the new toy and everyone wanted to talk to me and get to know me…I felt like I was finally forming relationships I’d longed for for years. And then it just dropped off…almost entirely. And now, everywhere I look online, they are doting on Hot Girl. She’s the new toy. (And seriously, this girl is great, she’s par for the course. She has good taste in music and people.) I think her entire presence sort of reinforced the fact that I’ve been wanting to (and trying to) make deeper connections with this group and it just hasn’t happened. The four leaders of the church have been friends for years and they possess a bond that I share with other close friends. These bonds are almost impenetrable, I get it. And I’m not asking to be their new best friend or even be #3 on their speed dial (do we even do speed dial anymore?), I just want more of a connection…otherwise, it’s going to be really easy for me to stay at home. Sleeping in on Sundays is like a morphine addiction. Fucking amazing.

I feel wretched for even having these thoughts. It’s not the church’s fault…because I haven’t openly said (until now), “I need more.” Because everyone has busy schedules, lives, and obligations and I don’t want to be another item on their to-do list…especially if they don’t feel the desire to reciprocate a friendship. In all of my previous communities, I was able to make a steady connection…build a friendship with someone where I felt like I could invest. And it’s astounding that I’m even considering seeking MORE from these people…cause church is fucking difficult (see previous posts). Community is difficult. Perhaps the church members sense my distrust and that’s why they hold back…they don’t want to overwhelm me. I’m not sure. And I don’t want them to read this and feel bad, like they’ve let me down or something.

I didn’t realize how much I needed that connection to stay invested. Before, the relationships just happened and they occurred organically and sometimes hastily after I got involved. I’ve been so damn lonely…for a very long time, lacking that intimacy of a good friendship. I have best friends and they live hundreds of miles away. I don’t have people to visit during the week or converse with after a long day (other than my husband). I don’t have anyone present, tangible, that I can access weekly that will hang out with or talk to me. I see online that some church people are hanging out together because that’s what they do and have done for years. Because they’re friends. How does one flat out ask…”Hey, can I come?” without looking like the dorky afterthought? I don’t want to push myself on people. And I’m shit at asking people to do things…but maybe I should try. I can’t expect that they will always seek me out.

It’s the worst possible feeling to need community and be absolutely terrified of it. Because I know the more I invest, the more I risk. But I’m tired of denying the fact that I need people in my life. I don’t need them constantly, I just need to know they’ll be there if I ask. And in turn, I’ll be there for them. That’s what friends are supposed to do.

I’m Never Going to be Like You

I tend to march to the beat of my own drummer. Most of the time. As a child, I was a rule follower…almost to a fault. Terrified of punishment, always seeking approval, wanting to obey for the sake of maintaining order. Teachers loved me because I was a great kiss ass. My parents always knew they could count on me to fall in line and be respectful and responsible. But rule following turned out to be more of a phase of life than a standard to live by.

As an adult, I’ve become a bit more rebellious. I don’t always adhere to authority. And I’m deviating more and more from the “norm.” I admit, there’s a lot of comfort in going with the flow of the majority. Typically, you know where you stand, what you believe, and where you’re going…because you’re likely following the crowd. You have friends to talk about life with…because you can all relate to each other. You’re sharing the experiences. In many ways, when you choose to live differently from the accepted norm, you abandon or lose some of the friendships and relationships you’ve cultivated.

Being atypical is lonely. I spend a lot of time frustrated about the loneliness. I miss being part of the collective.

I’m currently at the end of graduate school. At the conclusion of this adventure in debt acquisition, I’ll have a MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Makes me sound all official, doesn’t it? But truthfully, I could give a shit less. Because I’m not a “clinical mental health counselor.” I don’t fit into their mold or ideology of what a therapist should be. I didn’t fit in the mold before I enrolled. It’s a little humorous when I tell fellow classmates that I really don’t care to be state licensed, endure the national exam, or sit for hours and hours in a tiny room listening to people bitch about their problems. I didn’t start grad school and sacrifice years of employment, socialization, and reading GOOD books to learn how fucked up Freud really was. I wanted to learn how to relate to people better, how to manage ethical dilemmas, and generally how to understand behaviors of people experiencing distress. I’ve spent almost three years being taught how to be a compassionate human. I really could have saved myself the $90,000 loan. But the investment isn’t entirely in vain. If anything, I’ve learned more about who I am and who I want to be. I’ve also learned who I’m NOT.

I’m not society’s version of a therapist. I’m a conversationalist. I dialogue with people. I listen to their stories. And sometimes, I give them strategies for how to journey through life with a little dignity. And when dignity can’t be found, I give them a bat and tell them to break shit until they feel better (as long as they break objects and not people or animals…I’m not THAT delusional).

Ultimately, I think we all want to tell our stories…and more than that, we want to be heard and feel validated. It doesn’t take years and years of reading psychosocial theories to learn how to love people where they are. Or at least it shouldn’t.

I’m never going to be who they think I should be. I’m going to be myself. H…who talks to people in the language they relate to.

Truth is Damaging

We should never meet our heroes.

Yes, I realize it’s a pessimistic way to start a blog post, but who am I trying to impress? I mean, let’s be real. I have trust issues. Deep ones. Heroes, notwithstanding, people can be shitty. Selfish liars, manipulative tools. Douche canoes.

And I don’t know that there’s anyone who I trust implicitly. Not even my husband. And that’s a frightening thing to admit because I love him more than anyone else on this planet. And it’s a terrible thing to admit because I’m sure he would be hurt by my confession…particularly because he’s done so much to prove his trustworthiness over the last four years of our relationship. But it’s just the way I feel…

I wish people were who they should be (honest, compassionate, loving, selfless). I wish they were honest or at least had the decency to not be assholes. And perhaps my greatest fear is that the people I cherish the most are going to hurt me. Truthfully, the only person who has the power to destroy me is my husband because I’ve given him the power to do so. And when I think about that, I want to pull away to protect myself. But I won’t. Because he’s a miracle for my broken heart.

All of this is sort of a preamble to a point that’s honestly still frustrating the hell out of me. I recently found out that some ministerial leaders/emergent authors (people I admired for years) are being abusive, heinous trolls and I don’t understand how the individuals who are aware of this deceit continue to perpetuate a fraud. The depths of the betrayal seem to know no end. I wish I didn’t know…I wish I could erase the knowledge of what these men and women have done because I liked believing the lie. The lie was safe.

The truth is often damaging…before it’s healing.

Perhaps that’s why so few people ever tell the truth. But I really wish they would.

 

“A heart is a fragile thing, that’s why we protect them so vigorously, give them away so rarely, and why it means so much when we do.” –The Little Prince

Beer Church

I highly recommend reinventing yourself. I’ve done it probably a hundred times. It somehow manages to strip away the bullshit of the past. At least for a little while. Each time I went through a break up with a boyfriend, I cut my hair in some chaotic way. The hairstyle was usually an effort to communicate that I wanted to be left alone. Don’t talk to me, don’t flirt with me. Just walk away. See the ‘fuck off’ on my forehead? That’s for you. In reality, I was heartbrokenĀ and just wanted someone to really, authentically love me.

I’ve started over so frequently that I’m starting to wonder if I’m actually evolving or if I’m the same or a mixture of both.

Part of the reason for the reboot….public humiliation. Almost five years ago, my (ex) husband and I went to a tiny church and met some really cool people. They were all tattoos, piercings, and cuss words and I felt absolutely at home. Pass the bourbon, take communion, and recite the Celtic prayers. I loved it. About a month in, my ex started having an affair with one of the church members. Our church consisted of about 12 people. So I’d met the woman. We’d had conversations. I’d been to her house. Five years later, I still don’t fully understand what makes people behave in such a cruel way.

I left the church almost immediately. I couldn’t sit in the same room, share the same space they did…all the while smirking at each other in their adulterous triumph. Everyone knew what was happening. The wife is almost always the last to know…especially if the husband is a gifted liar. I parted with one congregation and entered another. I went by my maiden name and it was perfect. No one knew my business. No one knew the shame I felt as a result of my ex’s infidelity. My business wasn’t plastered in their frontal lobes. I was just H…this young, single adult female who wanted to help out. My identity stayed hidden for about 3-4 months and then gradually I let people know who I was and where I’d come from. The beautiful part was that they accepted me. I wasn’t ostracized for getting divorced at 26. I was welcomed for who I was in that moment. Who I’d become in the aftermath.

Fast forward a year of bliss. I’d developed some of the closest relationships of my life. The church members became my extended family. I was particularly fond of the pastor and his wife and children. He was my mentor, my second father. We talked about beer, golf, and god. He taught me many things and helped me recover from the devastating loss of my dignity. I took care of his children, stayed at his house when they went out of town. It was humbling to be so loved by people I respected.

And then it fell apart. Again.

A man and woman whom the pastor trusted, came in and tried to destroy this sanctuary with lies and dissension. They started rumors…fostered bitterness between church members, and everything began to dissolve. I was falsely accused of having an affair with the pastor, my friend…who I cherished. But even before that rumor, there were others. Gun shy, I stepped away from my responsibilities at the church to get some space and clarity. I tried to determine who my friends were…and understand my enemies. And then my pastor died unexpectedly. No goodbyes. No absolution. No closure. He was just gone. My friend. My mentor. Gone. The air was thick with grief and despair and I couldn’t breathe. For months.

So I left. Because it was the only way I knew to survive. And I stayed away for 3 years.

And then I went to beer church. It’s fucking terrifying how much I want to love this small group of people. I do love them…I don’t want to. Bad things tend to happen when I love people. They leave…or they betray me. They shred me. I enteredĀ the group with a fortress built around me. Don’t come close. Stay away. I’m intrigued but I’m frightened. But in their genuine love and compassion, they disassembled my wall brick by brick. And now they know a bit more about who I am. I’m no longer anonymous. I’m vulnerable…standing in the open and petrified that the 3rd attempt at community is going to be my undoing. I don’t know how many more times I can reinvent myself before I run out of ideas. And I hate that I want to risk it again. Jesus Christ. I mean, I look at these people and I want to say, “in our next life…please find me so I can spend as much of my time with you as possible.”

That’s beer church. It’s people, sitting around drinking good booze and talking about life. It’s love. It’s the talking, the loving, the caring….that creeps into the shattered fragments of my heart and heals it.

Merry F-ing Christmas

I’m absolutely NOT in the mood for Christmas this year. Typically, I’m the one begging my husband to decorate in late October. I love the lights, the tree, the millions of random ornaments, all that holiday cheer and shit. This year? Fuck it. I put up my tree in early November in an effort to psych myself into wanting to celebrate. We were supposed to have the little blonde lunatic for the latter part of the holiday break…but custodial wars have eradicated any hope of seeing her before her birthday next September. Additionally, we acquired a kitten that made it his sole mission to de-ornament the fucking tree. Every morning for several weeks, I walked into the living room to discover Christmas carnage. He considers himself a champion for scaling to the very top and knocking off my prized Disney ornament AND chewing through the strand of lights so the damn tree looks like it belongs in Charlie Brown’s Christmas special. The cat should consider itself fortunate that it has nine lives.

As soon as we knew for sure that the kid wasn’t coming to visit for Christmas, I took down every single decoration and put them back in the boxes. Now the kitten has nowhere to hide. Take that, you little shit. There’s so much more to this I-Hate-Christmas diatribe that I can’t say here…because legal system. I admit, I’ve let this entire situation rob me of my holiday joy…but it’s difficult to be excited about a holiday that centers on family when part of my family isn’t here. If I didn’t have obligatory events for the next two days, I’d seriously consider being a hermit and binge watching episodes of the West Wing.

Relatives, friends, and random ass people tell me to stay positive and focus on the end goal, but I need to be allowed to wallow occasionally. I’m not laying in bed every damn day eating bon-bon’s (WTF is a bon-bon anyway?), refusing to shower or go to work. I’m still living and moving forward. But holidays feel like the clock has stopped ticking and I’m trapped in yuletide hell. I’m watching the world be festive and content, meanwhile I’m too pissed to paint or drink or do any measure of self-soothing activities. I’m angry and sad all the goddamn time.

Ironically, the only time I feel some semblance of peace is when I’m having a beer with friends…because most of them don’t know about the custodial nightmare my husband and I are enduring. And when people don’t know, they don’t ask questions and they don’t offer bullshit advice. They simply conjure up happier topics of conversation over good music and beverages and allow me to escape reality for a little while. I’d like to hope that next Christmas will be better but for now, I’ll just be satisfied to survive this Christmas with an ounce of grace. And maybe a pint of really great beer.

The Struggle is Real

Pain makes me have A.D.D. Particularly emotional pain. Perhaps I should clarify, pain makes me unable to focus on anything but the source of my frustration. Eating, thinking, painting, conversing…everything suffers because of this ONE issue I can’t seem to resolve. So far this afternoon, I’ve had a few conversations, sketched several paintings, and written a page or two of my thesis. Productivity occurs when I’m just distracted enough to forget that my heart is broken. But the moment I’m reminded, I may as well turn my computer off and grab a beer. Emotional struggles are like a one-way ticket to the couch. I can’t even listen to music. It’s like everything becomes irritating as hell. None of my coping skills are working. I’m just fucking angry and sad…almost all the time. I want to bite things or break things or do something besides feel helpless.

There is a perpetual ache in my chest and tears threaten to fall. Today is one of those days when stillness makes me want to rage. Everywhere I look there are reminders. Seriously, everywhere. I’m sitting in a room full of reminders and I want to pitch a tantrum and destroy everything. I don’t know how to escape. I’m either trapped in the space or trapped within myself, unable to turn off my brain. God, I wish I didn’t give a shit. This would be so much easier. Out of sight, out of mind. I could toss the physical reminders into a barrel and light a match. Poof, gone. But I can’t do it because…reasons. Tangible reminders make it more difficult to let go of the emotional attachment. And I’m getting tired of holding on…

I don’t know if I’ve ever been this chronically troubled in my life. The struggle is real.

Starting Over

Yesterday I visited a church. Of my own volition. I haven’t done that in four years. I haven’t wanted to. I’ve been at peace with enjoying my Sundays at home since I stopped attending church in 2011. I’ve experienced enough trauma in church over the last 30 years, I should have PTSD…but I don’t. If anything, I’m just bitter and skeptical.

But yesterday, I decided to try again. The decision to cross that threshold is much more difficult than I wish it was. I wanted to talk but I also wanted to be invisible. I hid in the corner by myself like Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club. I thought maybe if I didn’t make eye contact, I’d go unnoticed…but I didn’t. This particular community remembered me from a visit last month, when I met the lovely/kick ass artist, Frank Schaeffer. Granted, when I went to hear Frank speak, I didn’t know I was joining a small group of people holding church at the World of Beer. As I waited for my turn to talk to Frank, I conversed with a few of the church members. I met one of the “pastors” who was intrigued by my Fuck Cancer shirt and flip flops. He said he can always tell a lot about people by the shirts and shoes they wear. He said that by the way I was dressed, I wanted to be casual and not give a shit but was still a bit too afraid. Astute assessment, but this guy is also a top attorney in the area. He probably knows how to read people. In any event, I saw some potential in his little flock and decided to put my fear in the Fuck It Bucket and scope out the scene again when I was ready.

Sometimes I feel bad for declining an invitation to join a group. Yesterday, several church members asked me to move out of my corner and into the open to join the circus of conversation. Each time, I said no…preferring to stay out of sight. The collective dialogue was about the metamorphosis of church and how it’s become a cumbersome entity that hates gays and persecutes anyone who looks or behaves contrary to some arbitrary set of rules. And yet the religious assholes wonder why the church is dying.

In church, I’ve seen pastors cheat on their wives, verbally abuse members with racist/misogynist ideologies; witnessed people being accosted for having an abortion or for being gay; watched marriages dissolve from infidelity between church members (including my own); seen people falsely accused of heinous acts (including myself); and wondered what the fuck is wrong with people. So why in the hell would I ever choose to pursue this endeavor again?

I guess I keep trying because as much as I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve also managed to have it healed in the company of people who actually believe in love and act on it. The last two churches I participated in, I was nearly destroyed…but there were specific individuals who picked me up out of the ashes and spoke compassion into my bruised soul. And I’m kind of hoping that I’ll find some measure of what church is supposed to be while participating in this new community. I know there will never be a perfectly safe place because we’re imperfect people. But I’m starting over with a new awareness of who I am and what I know to be true about others. I hope this is the beginning of something great but I know I’ll be okay if it’s not.

Sound and Fury

Yesterday, I met Frank Schaeffer.

Frank. Schaeffer.

Friends, you probably don’t know the significance of this moment (give me time, I’ll elaborate). Many of you may not even recognize his name and that’s okay. In the art world, he’s…magnificent. If you like texture and color, reminiscent of VanGogh (a personal favorite), check out Frank’s work (www.frankschaefferart.com). Truly extraordinary. He’s the most famous person I’ve ever met. But more than that, he’s human. He’s just like the rest of us. Knowing of the tormented emotional and mental backgrounds of many of history’s famous artists, I wonder what motivates Frank’s brush to move across the canvas in the manner it does. Why does he choose those colors or the specific designs? What’s the meaning? What thoughts are coursing through his brain, down his arm, and out the tip of his paintbrush?

What you also may not know about Frank Schaeffer is that he’s a New York Times best-selling author for both fiction and non-fiction publications. Another element I believe many artists share…the constant need to move the thoughts from the confines of our craniums out into the universe. Whether that’s through a painting, a blog post, or a novel, etc. The words have to come out. The feelings must evacuate us, lest we become consumed by them. Perhaps my ruminations are simply projections of my own need to create, but that’s a deeper discussion for another time.

Yesterday, Frank spoke at a church I attended at The World of Beer (the only worthy church location). Church scares the shit out of me. I went because a friend of mine told me I should meet Frank because Frank was “my kind of people.” By “my kind of people,” my friend means that Frank doesn’t bullshit, likes beer, participates in deep conversations, and gives a damn about the people in his life. My friend’s assessment was accurate. The moment Frank started to speak, I was captivated. I felt like he stepped inside my brain and walked around for a while. It was the most soothing, most invigorating speech I’d heard in years.

After he concluded, the group of us migrated outdoors for beer and more conversation. I kept feeling the need to talk to Frank directly but like a good introvert, I found an excuse to avoid it. He’s talking to someone else, he’s eating, he’s busy. I’ll just sit here and read his latest book and pine for the moment when I can sit in his proximity. If you’ve never met Frank, you’re missing out. This man looks you in the eyes, holds your hand, hugs you, and talks to you like you matter. He exudes such compassionate energy.

A moment presented itself (thanks to an opening provided by my friend) and I began discussing art with Frank. I’m a painter…and for me, “art is not a thing, it is a way.” Frank and I sat together for over half an hour discussing art. He poured buckets and buckets of encouragement into my mind and soul and rendered me quite speechless. In fact, the entire drive home from the event, I could hardly concentrate on anything else.

I’ve been reading his book (“Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God“) off and on since yesterday and in it, he quotes Macbeth:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing
.”

Frank has his own reasons for including the text and it carries a specific meaning relevant to the book’s content. But when I read those lines of Shakespeare, I reflected on part of Frank’s talk (in front of 15 people at a random bar church in Arlington, Texas) yesterday. We’re sucking the creativity out of life. We’re stressing out about all the bullshit…the career, the bills, the mediocrity, and we’re losing touch with ourselves, with who we’re supposed to be. We neglect our souls, we discard our families…and for what? The sound a fury of a society who expects us to think and behave like a bunch of fucking robots.

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Life is so much more than sound and fury… Life is “giving love, creating beauty, and finding peace.”

The Vacation I Never Took

God, I’m tired. Like monumentally exhausted. I’d say my non-fatigued to fatigued daily ratio is 1:6. I’ve been distracted and stressed enough to forget important meetings, confuse my regular schedule (because it changes daily), and have panic attacks while taking out the trash. Yesterday I almost took the wrong highway to my destination. My appetite is all over the place. I don’t really want to eat anything but ice cream and even then, I’m a rather uninterested in it. Oh, cereal! Cereal has now become a central focus in my life. Thanks, Rory Gilmore.

My goal today was to finish sorting through shit for my thesis so I can start piecing it together and hopefully meet the January 1 deadline. So far, I’ve only accomplished about 1/4 of my intended goal while drinking coffee, having a conversation with a professor, nibbling on a cheeseburger, checking Facebook, listening to Pandora, and watching the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries. Did I mention I play episodes of Parenthood in the background while I type? No? I’m also supposed to Skype with a friend later. And I have to tutor other people’s kids for a few hours. And I’m waiting on important e-mails to arrive, as well as notification of when I can take my car in to have a recalled part replaced.

When did this become my life?

Bills, deadlines, bullshit, stress, worry, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, frustration, anxiety, and traffic. FUCKING TRAFFIC.

When did the joy disappear?

September 25, 2014. That’s when joy vanished. I’m pretty sure. Something really fucking awful happened on September 25th and I can’t seem to crawl out of the chasm that appeared under my feet. I’m somewhere down there, just above the scorching flames of hell, and just below that mysterious land of acid trips where unicorns and leprechauns run freely. I like to call that mysterious land, “The Vacation I Never Took.”

I have good days and bad days and today feels like the latter. I woke up with this burden hovering over my eyes like a damn rain cloud full of liquid lead. Just before I awoke, I had a nightmare related to the events of September 25th. The thing you, dear readers, should know about my nightmares is that they are chronic and very realistic. I feel pain when I dream and wake feeling sore and weary. F you, REM cycle, my nemesis. In this particular nightmare, I felt like I teleported into the mind of another person…like our dreams were being linked so we could converse and say all the things we haven’t been able to. Then I woke up and wished so much that the dream was real. Instead of feeling joy, I was overcome with sadness and disappointment; like god (or the universe or whoever) had toyed with my subconscious and gave me this nightmare to fuck with me. I’m not thankful for the dream because I know it’s not reality. My reality is still hell.

There isn’t an amount of meditation or prayer to bring me peace (or so it seems right now). There’s only staying busy and occasionally frantic, just so I remain distracted long enough to get a reprieve. I’m able to forget for a few hours a day at best; then I feel hopeful that at some point, this turmoil will abate. And then the night rolls around again, filling my mind (and body) with the truth of the chaos that’s become my life.

It wasn’t so amazeballs before September 25th, so maybe the events of that day just magnified the discrepancies in my daily conduct.

That place, The Vacation I Never Took, I should go there…maybe they have cereal.

Tis the Season

I’ve been an artist for over half of my life. One could argue I was born this way but it didn’t fully manifest until early adolescence. My modality of preference is oil painting but I’ve also explored painting with acrylics and watercolors, making mosaics, and warping clay sculptures. I’ve painted for fun, to relieve stress, for money, and for the sake of making something. At first, I could go years without dabbling in the arts but gradually it became a monthly, then weekly, then occasionally a daily endeavor. There’s something exhilarating about purchasing blank canvases and new paints or brushes. I even love the peculiar smell of fresh oil paint. Many items in my apartment are permanently stained with various hues, a product of my inability to juggle multiple paintbrushes at a time. Unfortunately over the last year, I developed a random allergy to my hobby and am now forced to wear latex gloves and a mask that filters toxins and any chance of looking sexy while painting.

Last year, I started to feel burned out and took a break from the art of creating. It’s weird to go into my office/studio/child’s bedroom and see my drafting table/easel, the bag of paints, and my rolled up brushes and not feel the urge to make something. It’s as if the desire totally evaporated. Perhaps part of it is because the space feels crowded and not fully functional, and in that way, it’s a reflection of my life at the moment.

I love studios. I love the superfluous natural light that’s often permeating the space, the smudges on the walls, the worn easels, and scattered paintbrushes. Creative spaces that look lived in. I even have catalogs and magazines meant for designing studios. The other day, I was watching a movie called, “The Face of Love” (one of Robin Williams’s last films) and Ed Harris plays an artist. Harris’s character hadn’t painted in years, but in one moment he was inspired to create again. He dug out all his paints, brushes, and materials and set up this eccentric studio. It was messy and chaotic and much like where he was in his life. As artists, our creative spaces tend to reflect our internal processes. Some are more organized and structured, others are a whirlwind of spontaneity. Some are active, others are dormant. It’s a seasonal exhibit of our life journey.

Watching this film, I felt a resurgence and desire to create again. But I’m not sure what to make or when and I know it will reveal itself in time. Until then, I’m taking this season moment by moment and experimenting with color when I feel the inclination to do so.