Saturday, July 23, 2011

First thing in the morning

I've been trying some self-portraits the past couple of days, but I've winced at how I look and deleted every one. Too serious, too goofy, too fat, too old - the ego yammers away in my brain, trying to convince me that my body is always undeserving of my love. I guess that makes me just like a lot of women in the world. I could always find plenty of flaws, even as a teen, but now that I'm firmly middle-aged, the image in the mirror seems even more like an enemy.

So I've been practicing a little self-kindness here and there. Looking at myself naked in the mirror and saying things like: thank you, body, for taking me where I need to go and doing what I need to do, every day of my life. It sounds totally corny, but it makes me realize how very grateful I am for my health and my strength. I have my share of aches and complaints, but every breath is a gift, and I aim to use it well.

For many years, I often awakened with my brain grumbling about the day ahead. Now I try to be in the moment, noticing what the morning feels like, and then stretching and saying "thank you" to the Universe for another day. On a whim, I placed my camera by the bed so that I could take a photo upon awakening. I purposefully smiled some love into the lens, and I finally got a self-portrait that I liked, bedhead and all.

First thing in the morning

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Journaling with Teesha

I had the privilege of taking a visual journaling workshop with Teesha Moore this weekend - right here in Spokane! Teesha and her husband Tracy are perhaps best known for their wonderful art retreat, Artfest, held in Port Townsend, Washington each year. Tracy doesn't teach at her retreats because she is too busy making sure that everything goes smoothly, but she is quite the artist in her own right. I leapt at the chance to take a class with her. She is generous, warm, funny and encouraging - a real pleasure to be around. (You can see some of Teesha's journal pages here.)

We made simple journals from large sheets of watercolor paper and started collaging, drawing, doodling, and writing. Teesha makes her pages very full and lively, and she challenges her students to do the same. I've gotten the furthest on this page. It has a long way to go, but I'm happy with my progress so far. . . .

Journal page begun in Teesha's class

Monday, July 11, 2011

On the trail of wildflowers, early morning, July

(All of these shots are "straight out of the camera" - no cropping, no light or color adjustment, nothing but what the camera saw when I pushed the shutter button.)

Bachelor buttons and grass

Sunny bachelor buttons 7-9-11

Backlit yellow flowers

Yellow flowers with bug

Orange red flowers

Flower seed head

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Testing the waters

Today I kept seeing an image in my mind: eyebrows cut from magazine photos. Sometimes it goes like that. Random stuff floats to the top of my consciousness, and it comes back again and again.

Instead of opening my journal and working with the image, I kept avoiding it. Chores to do, people to talk to, Facebook postings to read - mostly inconsequential stuff. I kept seeing the eyebrows, but also noticed that I was very reluctant to get down to business. Maybe I've been avoiding my own artwork so much that I don't know how to get back to it. Maybe I'm avoiding the messiness of life; maybe I'm scared to find out what I really think about everything.

It takes courage to look at your thoughts and feelings and admit where you are in the midst of them. Avoidance comes in many flavors: alcohol, drugs, overeating, sex, work, shopping, TV, Facebook, etc. I think there are very few people who can sit with their uncomfortable selves and see all the imperfections and love themselves anyway. But if we don't learn to give our selves a break and relax, how can we spread love or compassion to anyone else?

Tonight I wrestled myself to the dining room table and cut out some eyebrows, then the rest of a face. I wrote on the page, testing the icy waters of my dissatisfactions. I only dipped my toes in - and that felt like a good start.

"Testing the waters" journal page