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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SAFETY

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Safety is a big buzz word today. Anywhere you turn you hear about being safe. Whether in school, on a plane, in a mall, on the road, at work, or on a tour, much emphasis is put on your safety. Often it is a matter of speech, as for example, when the flight attendant ensures you about your safety aboard the plane…in case of a crash it doesn’t really matter how safe you are in your seat…however, you feel safer from the flight attendant’s words.

Can you be in control of your own safety? To a degree, of course. You can choose not to drive fast and reckless on the road; you can choose not to visit areas of the city that you don’t know; you can choose not to do extreme sports; and you can choose not to go with strangers. However, you do not choose to be a victim of a criminal act, such as spousal abuse or to be a victim of a random crime, such as a drive-by-shooting.

With that said you can choose to feel safe on a daily basis. Otherwise, you may become a victim of too much worry leading to anxiety. I know. I experience anxiety attacks when dealing with situations that are out of my control, such as witnessing my mother’s severe dementia or anticipating the financial loss of a business or a home.

I try to create a safety space for myself. It starts with my home and my studio. From there, it extends into the community and the small town, in which I live. I feel at home and I feel safe. I have chosen to do so. And with that feeling in place, I bring it with me when I travel and when I meet new people. It is my practice.

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All Over The Place

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We’re always looking for the range of what we see in life. That creates a tension between us and our audience because they don’t know what to expect. It makes people excited, but it can also make for frustrated consumers.

Quote by Andy and Lana Wachowski who created the Matrix Trilogy and who are launching their latest movie, Jupiter Ascending this Friday. I relate relentlessly to their statement, as I’ve always had a hard time sticking to not only one art form but also, to stay with one tone or thread in my work. I like to try out different expressions with my art.

For instance, I’ve been thinking whether I should stick to photos of my grandchildren on Instagram and thus become known for that – which in a way would be cool as I would catch their development through the years – or whether I should write a book about parenting which I know much about and which I have been successful at but then, would I have to stay with non-fiction writing?

I’d much rather catch the images that speak to me in the moment and I’d much rather write fiction which takes me to unknown places. I like to explore and I like to take risks with my art.

What about you?

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How Honest Can You Be?

IMG_0876In search of knowing myself truthfully, so I can pursue the stuff I really want (and reach it), I have tried to answer the following questions from both heart and mind:

1. How do you want to be remembered?

As a creative person who is passionate about art and literature and who is determined to pursue her creative goals. A person who does not give up on her dreams. Also, a person who believes in the greater good. A community member. A caring family member. A good friend.

(I realize that this person I describe above is the person I am now. But why don’t I say Author? Artist? Is that not what I want? Do I not write every day, so I see myself as a writer? Is my goal not to be published, so I can call myself a published author? And what about all the art I have created? Don’t I want to be remembered for that? Basically, I do not allow myself to go all the way!! This is a problem. Because I don’t believe I will get there and be remembered for my published work and for my exhibited work.)

2. How do you want people to describe you?

As a person with a strong sense of self and with a desire for passionate and productive relationships. As a dedicated community member. As a caring family member. As a good friend.

(Again, why don’t I say: as a successful artist and writer? I have to know that people find me strong, so I can keep pursuing my goals, and I have to believe that the relationships in my life are both passionate and productive. But are they? Good question.)

3. Who do you want to be?

Someone who is creative and expressive, someone who stands by her convictions of aesthetics and morality but also, someone who is open to new thinking and to new ideas.

(Why don’t I just say: A famous author and/or artist? Isn’t that who I want to be? Really? So, why don’t I say it?)

4. Who or what matters most to you?

I matter to myself. If I’m not happy I cannot be of help to anyone else. Continuity of life matters to me, therefore, my children and grandchildren. Room for expression, therefore, my artistic projects.

(Again, why is my answer not this: That I become a published author and a well known artist. And why do I not mention my husband, who supports me in all I do? I am afraid to say it like it is, and I keep seeing myself as this person that needs to stay strong to be there for others and for her art. Weird.)

5. What are your deepest values?

Life. Health. Environment. That life continues on a healthy planet.

(Okay, so is this what I write about? Is this what I paint? I am a storyteller. I tell stories about people and their lives. I paint fairy tales and other narrative work. I hope my values are part of my storytelling.)

6. How would you define success in your life?

Being a valuable family member. Being a successful immigrant. Being ready to explore. Being in love with people and with art.

(I could also have mentioned my Master degree, which in fact has prepped me for the writing process. Again, I stay on the fringe of things and I keep mentioning my family as my biggest success. Perhaps, I should write a book about that?)

7. What makes your life really worth living?

I’m a puzzle piece within my family, within my community, and I like to contribute to these puzzles, to make them whole and healthy. Also, my personal expression through my art projects is invaluable and motivating.

(How about this answer: That I am able to write hours at a time, morning or afternoon. That I have the opportunity to publish a book. That I have the opportunity to exhibit my art.)

My answers were written a week ago and today I added what’s in parenthesis, because I see how I prioritize. This is a constant challenge for me. Perhaps, because I grew up as the oldest of five siblings and had three children in my twenties and lived close to my parents most of my life. Not until I went back to school in my forties did I ‘leave’ my parents! And then after that I launched my art career and later my writing career. Here I am with space, time, and motivation to write! And still, I’m scared. Holding back. It’s a new feeling.

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37 years of marriage

Wedding_ringsToday, January 15, I have been married 37 years to the same man. Is it long? Is it short? All is relative. Long because that is 61% of the time I have lived – short because human life is short. However, how did it happen?

How is it that while you’re not looking, life happens? From falling madly in love as young teenagers, to being parents to three children, to moving west across the Atlantic ocean, to working the middle-class life, to changing homes a dozen times, to letting go of children, and to welcoming grandchildren? I call it a life flowing along, while caring for each other and kin.

What fills it up are the priorities, the choices, and the experiences along the way. The element of action, taken or not taken. Sometimes in unity, sometimes not. The element of acceptance, with or without explanation. Prompting anger and misunderstanding. The element of expectancy, hoped and wished for. Colliding with unexpected reality.

Doing your best. Every day. And life happens and passes. With and without love. But always in partnership.

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Fairy Tale Inspiration

Growing up in Denmark I heard, read, performed Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales and in college I studied them. Since, I have painted some as shown here. His stories are often dark, sad, and scary. As often ancient folk tales told are.

The Little Mermaid becomes sea foam and rises as a spirit to the sky at the end. In the Snow Queen, young Gerda seeks young Kai who was taken by the Snow Queen and has to conquer bad spirits with good spirits to bring him back.  The girl with the red shoes dances herself to death and rises as a spirit at the end. The Little Match Girl freezes to death but joins her beloved grandmother in heaven. Redemption found in spirit.

How much will this fairy tale spirit inspire and influence my storytelling? Who knows? All I know is that I’m drawn to it; that I seek out movies with fairy tale themes; that I’m attracted to the magical realism genre; and that I like the simplicity of written fairy tales.

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Facing my demons

IMG_0381With a new year just around the corner, I fall in the trap of wanting to start on a clean slate with promises of reachable goals. My very first goal is to not drink alcohol in the month of January. I have never made it through the whole month; my best record is two and a half weeks. My second goal is to run three times a week for 30 minutes in the morning (this is besides the Nia Dance I do 1-2 times a week). That never lasts, either. Third goal is to lay off the carbs and eat less bread, which I love; I can leave pasta and pizza alone.  The hard part is I crave carbs in the winter.

So, I have decided to change my goals. This year I will face my demons. I will face the fact that I like a martini and that I like red wine. I will face the fact that I don’t like to run. I will face the fact that I like good bread, especially with butter and cheese. And then I will drink less; I will vacuum the house more often and appreciate that I ride my bike everywhere; and I will enjoy my love of bread.

Next, I will set other goals. To write 8,000 – 10,000 words per month on my novel. To accept that this is my job. To appreciate that page after page is being created. To relish on the fact that I can write. To respect my own storytelling abilities.

At some point I will have a finished draft that will need revision and editing and that excites me. A finished product! Unlike the elusive idea of not drinking alcohol or eating bread while running instead? Where is the product in that? A leaner body, yet a happy one? I will never know, because I’m pursuing an unreachable goal. It is time to reach a reachable goal.

Let the demons play and show their faces and I will catch them and put them in my writing:)

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