Saturday, March 18, 2017

Confessions

I've had a few instances lately where I've wondered to myself (and may have found myself discussing the situation with others) how people can see themselves as being a certain way when clearly they are not that way. How do we get deluded ideas of who we are or what we are in our heads? How can we be so clueless about our blind spots (well they wouldn't be blind spots if we were aware of them)?

I decided a while back that I was going to work hard on not asking why he/she can't see the distortion in how they see themselves. I know I have a few big distortions of my own. But I'm not confused about the look of my reality.


I know what it looks like and I am often taken aback by the vision. I have this view of myself that does not reflect this reality. And I don't know how to explain the disparity. There is this inner core in me that remains serene (most of the time), in spite of the messes that often surround me.

One of my tennis friends once said something to me about how people see me, and don't expect me to play as well as I do. I never quite figured out what it was about my appearance that might make people think I couldn't play (my age?), but that's beside the point of my remarks.

Here's the thing, on paper, if you had a black and white list, I'd look a lot like a failure. I cannot not feel that. The fortunate thing is, I have friends who see me in a different light. They are not checking off a list of achievements and accomplishments (which is what I do, and how I see myself as having failed). They are seeing that inner core, the part of me that is not apparent to anyone who doesn't do anymore than skim the surface and move on. They are the ones who remind me: when I judge myself as a failure, I am looking at a list that is not mine to complete. Today, I am grateful for those friends.

I forgot, remembering the Johari window concept helps bring acceptance.We all have these parts to our selves. And our windows are not always the perfectly square window we see in this diagram! Some are more self aware than others. Some are more open than others. Some are both closed down and unaware. I think remembering the Johari window will help me to be a bit more patient myself and others.


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Hello, March!

Here we are, already pushing into the third month of the year, and the Lenten season. As usual, I'm surprised that the time has passed so quickly. And I think about how to better manage my time so it won't feel like it's slipping through my fingers.

Doing arty things is, for me, a way of stopping time. I get into my zone (flow, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology). It's a very good feeling. And it doesn't matter whether I judge the art I'm doing as good or bad, the relaxed feeling is still there (the fact is, I am not judging the art at all, that's how I know I'm in a flow state, I am totally immersed in the pure joy of the process). It isn't always that way. There are times when I'm doing things and I'm so frustrated that I can't make the drawing look like what I'm trying to draw. That's when making art is painful! 

My sister gave me a set of pastel pencils and I had to try them out. I'm pleased with how my apple turned out (though some think it looks more peachy than apple-y, which is just peachy with me!). I did it in my journal so you can see the shadow of my writing on the page underneath.
I sketched out this woman using my Stabilo All pencil. It's a pencil that can write on almost anything and it's water soluble so you can use the brush to soften the lines and make shading. I bought a couple of water brushes (http://www.dickblick.com/items/05133-1000/) several years ago and I haven't used them much. Since I have this pencil, and have been playing more with my watercolors, I'm finding that I really love this brush.

If I am nothing else, I am solid proof that you do not have to be particularly skilled at making art to gain benefits from your attempts at making art! 


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Root, Hog, or Die

I forgot to say that since plants are pushed on by "coded cells," (they're gonna do what they're gonna do) and I'm ready for spring to be here (while still grateful for all the things already blooming), I threw some wild flower seeds out in a bare part of our woods, hoping one or two or four will push through and bloom. Otherwise, my bad self says, "Let 'em root, hog, or die." I know, that doesn't exactly sound like a loving or hopeful sendoff but it's the best I had at the time. I'll let ya know how they do.




Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ah, February

I've had my checkup at MD Anderson and all was well. I don't go back until June. I've had another birthday, celebrated by having a mammogram on the left side after doing the right side the day before. The doctor was annoyed that they didn't do both at the same time. I'd asked, but they told me I only needed the one done. Next time, I'll know, and insist that they do both or check with the doctor if need be. If I haven't learned anything else from "The Cancer(s)", I'm learning to speak up for myself.

I've been reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek again, and thinking of my blogging friend Jim. He encouraged me to read it. I've started and stopped the book a couple of times but I'm hanging with it this time around. My sadness is that I won't be able to discuss what I've read with Jim. He was right, now that I've finally settled down and stuck with my reading, I am enjoying the book. Annie Dillard is a fantastic writer. The book is awe inspiring and disconcerting all at the same time.

I've still been struggling a bit with feeling down. I'm doing what I can to take care of myself. One of the ways I do that is by getting out with my camera, which I did this weekend. I do think part of my being down is a normal (for me) seasonal thing. I'm ready for the next season to begin. And Spring feels like such a hopeful season. At our place in the country, the azaleas are blooming, and the wild jasmine, and the little daffodils that came from my grandmother's house. Green leaves are shooting out on bare limbs. Hope is everywhere.

So I took a few photos...

 These are the daffodils (I think that's what they are, you should know I am not great with details!) that came from my grandmother's house, that came from someone else's house.
 This photo was taken in the evening, during what is known as the "golden hour." I looked out and the light was so gorgeous, I had to try and capture the scene. I was actually almost too late.
These are the wild jasmines growing up in the trees. They have a pretty scent but the blooms were to high for me to smell.

Here is something I read in the Pilgrim at Tinker Creek book:

"The way plants persevere in the bitterest of circumstances is utterly heartening. I can barely keep from unconsciously ascribing a will to these plants, a do-or-die courage, and I have to remind myself that coded cells and mute water pressure have no idea how grandly they are flying in the teeth of it all."

See what she did there? You're all warmhearted and fuzzy about the plants persevering and you see your own self persevering and it's wonderful in your head. And then she hits you with the facts of coded cells and mute water pressure! And I can't help wondering how much my own coding is interfering with my current state of feeling glum, and how does that affect my attempts to get through this vague darkness?

More to come...

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Not Gonna Lie To You

My dad tells the story of a guy in his past who was often guilty of stretching the truth. The guy was telling a story one day that began with these ways, "I'm not gonna lie to ya now..." and before he could continue on, someone interrupted to say something like, "Gosh, son, don't make any exceptions, you lie to everybody else..."

So, I'll tell ya, I'm not gonna lie to you. Some of the things that have been happening after the election have disturbed and worried me. I've never been one to speak out about things. It's outside my comfort zone to do so. But there are things going on now in this country that just aren't right. I've been observing and reading the things my more outspoken friends have been posting on Facebook. I've been thinking about what it is I can do, or need to do. I don't yet totally know. I've been reminded that the best way for me to respond to any of it is in my own way.

They say art is healing. In some ways, I suppose it is. At the very least, for me, it's good self care. And I think a lot of us need plenty of self care in these days. I'm just not sure how that helps our country, which I feel is in great peril. These are tough times we are living in.




Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Thresholds (and Horizons)

I go back to MD Anderson every 3-4 months for checkups. During the between times, I really don't think much at all about my history of cancer. But each time, as the time for the appointments gets closer, I do start to think and fret, just a little bit, over what they might find. I wonder whether or not the cancer has come back. I'm a realist, the return is always a possibility. I don't want to have a fatalistic attitude about the possibility, but I also never want to breeze in to my checkups with the mindset that this is a problem that has been completely and totally obliterated.

Sometimes I get aggravated about having to go back so often, about having to take so many days off work to go get checked out. It's just part of the process. And the times between appointments will eventually get longer, if I keep having clear scans. But right now, the 3-4 months seem to pass so quickly and I feel like I'm going again when I just returned from being checked! I'd like to put it all out of my mind and my sight and just move on with my life. Like it was before the cancer. Every time I go back, I am reminded of the vulnerable state of my health.

I've been thinking about thresholds this month. This past week, while I was in Houston, showing up for various tests and appointments, I realized, that's all this is--another threshold that I happen to be standing on. There is no need for me to fret or worry or resent having to stand here on this particular threshold. Every single time I stand on this or any other threshold, there is a horizon beckoning. I might not know what's waiting out there in the distance but it's always something and all I have to do is keep walking my path toward the beckoning horizon. 

We all have thresholds where we stand and look toward the horizon. I'm not the only one who has unpleasant and uncomfortable thresholds to cross (and cross again). I've decided I'm going to release the view of myself as vulnerable to my health. I am vulnerable to my health, to my own mortality, but so is everyone else so why should I whine about the vulnerability always being "in my face"? Lord knows I'm not near as vulnerable as some. I am more aware than some. But there is no need for me to whine and complain about it. The dang checkups are a part of my new normal now. I'll live with them and accept them as best I can. I decided early on that things like this can surely shape me, but they will not define me.

(All was clear this time around. I still have to go back in February for the breast cancer checkup, and return again in a few months for the colon checkup. I don't go back for a liver check until next January!)

"One never reaches a horizon...To move toward a horizon is simply to have a new horizon." James P. Carse

"Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold. W. Eugene Smith






Thursday, January 05, 2017

Project Thoughtful Thursday, Week 17

After two weeks off, I'm getting back on track. I never really intended to post these things online. They are playing cards and so many times the writing has been hard to read in the photo.

"The world is a miracle and you forget time and time again your whole life. But if you remember more than you forget, you'll be fine." Brian Andreas

And would you look a' there, as big as Dallas, I've written "you're" when I intended to write "your." I hope that does not distract us from thinking about how often we do forget that the world is a miracle. I know many of us are having to work very hard at remembering more than we forget.