Tag Archives: Meditation

Timeout for Art: Not Much

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sketch

Another week gone by with no time in the studio.

Another week with not much to show for it, in the way of art practice.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Though my participation in most rituals of the Catholic Church have fallen by the wayside, I like Lent. Just like the start of a new year, or the milestone of a birthday, the beginning of Lent offers another chance for improvement, renewal or a fresh start. It comes right about the time I have disappointed myself with mostĀ  of my New Year’s resolutions, so it gives me an opportunity to redeem myself in some small way.

I thought of giving up all sweets (oh, NO!), or just chocolate (but I just opened the second package of wonderful chocolate truffles that I received at Christmas), or bread (but I just bought that nice loaf of sourdough). I thought of giving up swearing or drinking, but I don’t really do enough of either to make it a true sacrifice. I thought of adding something that would do me good, like exercise or meditation. I thought of committing to doing something for others, like writing a thoughtful letter each day to people who would appreciate it, or some other form of good deed. Nothing really struck me as a winning commitment.

This morning, at my messy desk with a cup of coffee and a glass of water, as I rushed to sketch the scene in front of me so that I’d have something to publish here, I decided. I am going to make a sketch every day. I won’t say “drawing” because that implies a finished work, and a level of time and energy that I may not have. A sketch every day – for Lent – is a reasonable thing.

Around and Around

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I’m big on fresh starts.

I like “do-over”s.

Beginning again was my tactic when, asĀ  a child, any game was getting out of control. “Start over” was my battle cry. If, when playing “school”…or “house”…or “church”…the little kids pushed their limits or if I, in my role of teacher or sister (my older sister, Brenda, was – of course – “Mama”) or priest did something out of character, I’d call, “start over!” and we’d go back to try to do better. As if we were putting on a play, not just playing make-believe! If I made a stupid move in checkers, or stumbled in a foot race, “start over” was my cry. It didn’t always work, but it was always worth a try.

Self-Improvement is the sub-title of my life.

I am drawn to self-help books in library or bookstore. Exercise, diet, organization, meditation, procrastination, money-management…the list goes on and on. They are so full of hope! Each one, when I open to the first page, seems like it has the possibility to change my life forever.

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I like having a plan.

I love a good list.

This is my time of year!

The new year offers a time for fresh beginnings. Time to look at what needs to be changed, and make a plan. Time to make a list of improvements to be made. New Year’s resolutions!

I usually have a long list.

I once made a list of one hundred items that I felt needed to be worked on in my life. They ranged from patience and temper-control to neatness and organization to diet and exercise. From their sheer number, it took a little time for them to all fall by the wayside…but eventually they did.

I’m great at making resolutions. Follow through, not so much.

Looking back over the last forty years, I can say I have learned a few skills and gathered a world of varied (and sometimes contradictory) information from self-help books, but the road to life-changing self improvement has been a long and very gentle incline.

My best-laid plans and charts for a better new year take the same trajectory.

The trouble, as I see it, is this: Life is not linear.

Life is circular.

I can see it when I hear my daughters say things to their children (that they swore they’d never say) that I said to them (though I said I never would) that my mother said to me. “Because I said so,” is an example that comes to mind.

I can see it when I look at photos taken twenty years ago when I knew I needed to lose ten pounds…and now, thirty pounds heavier, I still feel like I really need to lose ten pounds.

It is obvious every time that I think, “let me go back to the beginning and start over.”

Lists are linear. Life is not.

This year, my goal is to just keep going around.

Happy New Year!

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