What is Your Path?

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I met a new person over coffee today. He is a writer and lives in town. We talked about how our paths have crossed and the concept of paths crossing. Paths cross in many ways, at many times, and in many places. Ours crossed because we are both writers, because we are both drawn magnetically to our town, and because we are open to the universe.

Both of us have lived in many places, have had different careers and gone through higher education; we are family people and rooted in our community. We have come to Calistoga, our town, because this is our path, to be here, at this time. Being here comes naturally and why that is, is intriguing.

We are conscious about how everything we have done and experienced is woven into a pattern that informs our path but eludes us momentarily as we cannot see nor imagine the finished pattern of our lives. The many detours and ups and downs we both have been through are an integral part of the overall pattern that leads us on our path.

This is hard for us to understand. Because we are taught to follow a linear path, a path that takes the direction of A to Z. So, when are we at M? Do we know? How can a linear direction be achieved? Nothing in nature is linear. But staying with a thread, as for example, living in Calistoga; or writing; or doing meditation; or painting; or meeting new people will – when woven together – reveal our path organically.

Perhaps, some people are merely inclined to doing many things, living many places, and wearing many hats, and for them (myself included) the idea of a path that is informed of our many meandering threads, is comforting and nourishing.

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Writing is so hard!

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I’ve been painting lately. And I love it. For me, it is not as hard as writing. But I like writing. And I want to write. But it seems like such an endless process. With a painting I’m done at some point. With a story, I can go back and revise and revise. I like to write blogs, because they are done when they are done. But right now, I’m writing on a novel and that is HARD!

I believe there is more thinking involved with writing or perhaps, your critic sits closer to your ear; for me, I always hear the critic. I do think about what to paint before I get started, but to lean in and let form, shape, color, take over is cool! How do I lean in to my writing? I would like to know.

To paint is solitary. To write is solitary. But I have found that I need writing partners more than I need painting partners. I know many artists and we get together socially and we meet at Art Fairs, at exhibits, at art fundraisers and so on, but I don’t meet socially with writers – with them I meet professionally. To help each other out. To critique each other. To read each other’s work.

As a writer you DO NEED a reader. Unmistakably. But as a painter you can manage without the viewer until you’re done. You follow what you like and paint it. Then it is up to the viewer whether (s)he likes it. In writing you are faced with more rules: word choice, grammar, syntax, show instead of tell, and so on…it is difficult but very worth while.

By the way, my painting above is called “Let it Rain” and the paint brushes are raining down through the mouth of ? a being ! symbolizing just to let art flow through you. The silhouette on the right is the director, the critic, the one that thinks she knows…and the figure to the left is the human swallowed by faith, by belief, that there is only one way…

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What is Your Normal?

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Ever wondered what it means to be normal? Me, too! I just finished a couple of paintings showing an arc of balls and boxes. As we try to fit in, we choose a box to represent us.

For example, I am a lawyer, a republican, married, and crazy about baseball – that is my box and I behave accordingly. Or, I am a teacher, a democrat, single, and crazy about shoes. Or, I am a business owner, libertarian, gay, and crazy about theater.

Our face to the world is boxed in, so we can make sense to each other. Personally, I claim to be a writer, a painter, and crazy about art – I’m also a wife, mother and grandmother.

So, what’s up with the balls? To me, the balls represent play and the intuitive YOU. The person you are when you listen to yourself and you make decisions, based on guts instead of intention. From guts grow experience, while from intention, expectation follows.

What kills me is expectation. Every day. I expect myself to do this, to achieve this, to be lauded for this, and for checking off this. It is hard work. While, if I listen to my guts, my instinct, my intuition, I open the door for an experience, I otherwise would not have. Even though my decision based on guts may fail, I have won another valuable experience.

That is my normal and therefore, I don’t seem normal.

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Where Do You Belong?

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My husband became U.S. Citizen yesterday. Yes, that’s him in my glasses. Now, he has all the rights of an American and at the same time, the responsibilities that come along. He can vote, he can travel with an American passport, and he has pledged to uphold the law of the land and to defend it, if necessary.

He has lived in this country for 33 years and in Denmark, where he was born, for 29 years. Yes, that makes him 62. All these years, he has travelled with a Danish and later an EU passport.  Did not want to give up his European connection. Until I insisted and until Denmark accepted dual citizenship.

In less than 6 months he went from the dutiful husband, applying for his new citizenship, to the proud member of his adopted society. I sensed his excitement on becoming part of this land.

Here, I need to add that I was born in this country and therefore, an American, however, I grew up in Denmark and my first language is Danish. When we speak our mother tongue, we sound Danish, and when we speak our adopted tongue, we have an accent.

During our many years together, since we came to this both glorious and challenged country, the question has been: ‘Where do we belong?’ And the answer is: ‘We are familiar with two cultures and their history, language, and traditions, however, we live only in the one culture, and our day-to-day experiences are lived here.’

We are comfortable in this land of many cultures and ethnicities, and when we visit Denmark (not very often), we are the ‘strangers’, familiar, yet lost. We have moved from place to place many times, although within California (besides a couple of years in Seattle), but not until we came to the small town of Calistoga in Napa Valley, did we really belong.

After the children grew up and started their own lives, we empty-nested here and found immediate kinship with the land, the town, and the people. Why? Lots of things! Husband is in the hospitality industry; we value the slower life-style here; we like the small town atmosphere, where you run into people you know all the time; and we appreciate the arts communities throughout the valley.

Citizenship is practical and beneficial, but belonging is emotional and personal and a feeling that is organic, contingent of place, people, and culture.

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ABUNDANCE

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Dwarfed by abundance. I have an abundant amount of writing: essays, poems, fragments, dialogues, situations, plays, children’s stories, shorts, beginning of a novel, and I feel small. I wonder who is in charge. I have work to work on for the rest of my life.

I wish to finish some and present a finished novel, a book of poetry, a short story collection, a completed play. I need help but I can’t put my finger on what kind of help. Help to be done. Why is it harder to finish writing than painting? I have completed dozens of art work: oils, prints, pastels, collages, drawings. An oil painting may take me months but I do finish.

Blogging is like painting. I complete a piece of writing and put it out there. Granted, it is a small piece of writing but hopefully coherent and finished. Like painting I make it happen. So, why the difficulty with my other writings? When do I consider a piece done and ready to be left? Not until publication? Perhaps not.

I will start publishing my short writing pieces on my other blog: http://www.MysticStringsBooks.com

That way I can consider some writings done. And get on with my longer pieces! This may work. Today I will put a writing piece called POISON on my other blog.

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Wonder about Curiosity

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I wonder about curiosity. Whether it kills me or sustains me. I am definitely curious by nature, because I want to know! The more I know, the better. I inhale knowledge every day. And it comes in all shapes and sizes: words, tax deductions, people, moods, feelings, foods, Facebook use, art, town hall meetings, film, books, and internet. In fact, I’m bombarded with knowledge and I need to sift through it and retain what I want. That is knowledge in itself.

So, I would say curiosity sustains me. It expands my world, it enhances my world, it fills me up, and I constantly have to shift my views and my ideas. Never a dull moment when driven by curiosity. It’s like I will never have any final answers to anything, and I live in constant movement. Perhaps, the only thing I can feel certain about is movement.

Right now, my life is moving in all kinds of directions: marketing, curating art, writing stories, painting, blogging, gallery sitting, and every day I’m doing something different. Still, everything I do, is connected. It all requires curiosity. Constant curiosity. Because things change, constantly. I deal with change and the many choices that follow.

All my endeavors have one thing in common: the town of Calistoga. I live, breathe, and wonder about Calistoga every day. Calistoga is my employer. I work for Calistoga. Calistoga keeps me grounded. My curiosity starts here and may end here.

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I get drunk and eat chocolate

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I get drunk and eat chocolate when my husband loses his job, which he has, consistently, for the past fifteen years. And we have turned 60. I love him – been with him for the past 43 years – but damn, it’s getting harder. Easier when the kids were around. Had a purpose. But now? What’s his gig? What does he want? Am I his forever support system?

I know what I want. I totally know what I want. Have looked forward to doing what I want since the kids left. The time is now. I want art. I want to work with art. I want to be art. I want to think and dream art. No way around it.

So, I’m charging. I’m out there. I’m screaming. I’m being heard. And it feels wild. It feels insane. And it feels right. There’s no turning back. I’m on a roll. And I’m looking out for me. Who knew?

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