The Message

When planning a trip, there’s always various modes of transportation to choose from, multiple routes one can take, highways and byways one can use. While traveling, there may be unforeseen mishaps,  unexpected detours you’ll have to navigate, and changes in plans.

It is the same on the journey of life.  So…I’ve been opening myself up to new opportunities that terrify me.  It is a new feeling connecting to my feelings and heart.

What it took was akin to a breakdown on the side of a road with no GPS. I felt deserted and utterly lost…still do.  But there are some indications–a sky full of stars, some internal compasses that I’ve been ignoring, a little healthy intuition.  Civilization does exist somewhere. I’m still safe even though it feels disorienting and my thinking mind is hijacking my rational mind with so many potential scenarios that range from bad to worse.  I breathe.  I look around.  I make like a tree and stand.

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What is revealed to me (in silence) is how much space surrounds me.  It’s something I’m initially not comfortable with because I’m so used to being crammed.  I’m used to bustling city streets, nosy neighbors and a sense that every move I make is being monitored on some camera that is just out of my line of sight.  This is paranoia but I don’t yet have the words to reflect on that agitated, irritable feeling I am feeling.  I can’t yet feel anything because I’m so used to numbing anything that comes naturally to me.

I can smell trees.  Lots and lots of trees.  They invite me to look up, their branches reaching high into the sky without even getting close to touching them at all.  I’m not even vaguely concerned about how little I’m registering.  I haven’t yet felt just how much colder it is here…at least ten degrees lower than where I came from.  The wind actually picks up just then and I can see some snow drift off the rafters of residential homes that surround me.  Yet, everything blends in here; nothing is out-of-place or oddly shaped.  Every roof is pitched and purposeful.  Some homes are sprawling, expansive mansions which house no more than four people.  Each person has their own room and a set of rooms in which to be.  Rooms the size of amphitheaters with an unlimited supply of choices: libraries, kitchens (with islands in them), game rooms, offices and rooms to spare.

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In what people call “the real world”, there are a lot of rules to follow.  Since childhood, every moment was regimented, great care taken with secure guidelines to follow for an overall sense of well-being.  But life doesn’t follow the instruction manual.  When it fails or something goes awry, no one tells you what to do.

I have been on this road for almost one and a half years.  The journey has been wrought with false assumptions, confusing twists and turns and continual doubts.  Yet, it goes on and I go on with it.

So there I was–in the middle of the proverbial woods, trying to feel my feelings and slowly realizing that I was very small.  Among the towering trees, I am a minuscule and finite being–the rocks that gather at their base will survive long after I am gone.  But we are all made of the same cosmic dust and I take comfort in knowing that the trees and stars probably don’t ponder the nature of their existence.  And even if they did, what could they do to change their location or their course?

I wandered to the backyard and found myself waiting for the moon to arrive; it did not disappoint.  When it came, it illuminated the entirety of the clearing where I stood with a bottle of blessed water that I was asking the Moon Goddess to bless yet again.  The contents of the bottle had already been infused by the light of such rare moon events that could not have been better if I had planned it myself.  I was alone in the woods welcoming the moonlight’s beam and reciting aloud from a small handwritten piece to bless the women who I wished to celebrate on that specific evening: the night of the Super Blue Moon. It was all an impromptu ritual that I had patched together from things I’d read, a patchwork quilt of ideas with fill-in-the-blank inventions I had fashioned out of the ether. The trees continued to rustle in the wind and I began to feel the wintry chill so I pulled the robe that I wore close around me and finished. There was no need to repeat the women’s names aloud…I merely wished to recite the makeshift prayer and then plant it into the ground to let it grow.

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I knew that God was all around me then.  Once I had said what I had to say in Its presence, I retreated back inside to start a crackling fire.  I felt so warm as the moon made its way through the inky black sky, stopping by so that I could be graced by its visit a second time.  It felt as though it were an extension of my heart just then. I held the moon and the moon held me inside of it on a crater or into the very heart of the sphere where no eyes have looked for millions of years.

I took a final photo to mark the occasion as the fire emitted a beautiful luminous purple color, the chemical treatment of the wood reacting to the flames. I felt the spirits of the dearly departed hover within them, without them silently and kindly.  I smiled, poured a glass of wine and raised a toast: I love them all to the Moon and back!

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Lisa Pérez is a Published Author on StoryJumper

https://www.storyjumper.com/program/publishedAuthors/BellaForStar

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ArtSpace

There is a realm that exists beyond the confines of my understanding.  It creates patterns and draws comparisons in my life when I am filled with worry and doubt.

The other day, I spoke with an Uber driver who was feeling down and expressed much the same of what I experience every day of my life.  The world is full of lack-of-confidence, naysayers and people that don’t believe in you.  But that isn’t the focus of this post.

The faith that others lack is often a lack of imagination and insight on their part, or some unresolved issue that they have which has nothing to do with you.  The only way that it matters is when your own beliefs and thoughts begin to align with those self-same people.  Given the opportunity to make someone else better at what they normally do and becoming a mentor to someone else is a rare, selfless act.  It can only exist in people who truly love themselves and understand that the universe does not revolve around them.  These people exist and can be your strongest support and cheer-leading section, but they must be weeded out from all of the idiots, malcontents, abusers, angry narcissists that sit at the heads of many, many, many institutions.

But their time is up.

Not only are these people dying off, but there is already a paradigm shift occurring in our world.  We just have to demand it, seek it, encourage it.  That’s where art comes in.

Art touches the spaces inside that lack definition, the murky parts, the shadowy areas…and brings them to light.  It also serves to validate the parts of ourselves that require examination and maybe need to change.  Art also brings order to chaos, provides answers or a response to the complex and puts life’s confusing experiences into a different perspective.  It can change how we view the world and how rigid and committed we are to our limited beliefs.

The greatest gift I was ever given was not expensive and was nothing until I touched it.  Lumps of clay are like that; they lack definition so that the creator can literally give it life.  But, my thinking mind right away resisted.  It said, You’ve never worked with clay.  Who do you think you are trying to mold and shape something?  You have no talent with this… On and on and on my own mind prevented me from looking or even addressing the personal gift.  I was annoyed. I looked at it skeptically–even cynically.  I placed it on a shelf out of sight so I wouldn’t have to even address it…much like any traditional denial.

When I finally let go of the notions rattling around in my head, I had created something I never could have anticipated.  The true miracle is that it hasn’t stopped since then. It just keeps on growing, expanding and shocking the heck out of me.

Here’s hoping that in your travels you discover aspects of yourself through your art that illuminate the darkest regions and provide opportunities to expand your vocabulary beyond your wildest dreams!

Happy Creating!

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My Book of Illustrations is Out!

Book titled 'Art Work: Illustrations and Paintings:'Read this free book made on StoryJumper!function(){function d(){“undefined”==typeof SJMakeBookOpenLightBox?–c>0&&setTimeout(d,100):SJMakeBookOpenLightBox()}function e(){/in/.test(document.readyState)?setTimeout(e,9):d()}var a=”https:”==document.location.protocol?”https:”:”http:”;if(“undefined”==typeof SJScriptLoaded){window.SJScriptLoaded=!0;var b=document.createElement(“script”),c=10;b.src=a+”//www.storyjumper.com/script/storyjumper-embed.js”,document.getElementsByTagName(“head”)[0].appendChild(b),e()}}();
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Candy Crush (Laurence Jenkell’s exhibition)

NYC is a natural resource filled with infinite surprises and skilled artists all over the place.  Everywhere you look, you are exposed to the best-of-the-best creative minds that work toward discovery while battling couch critics and experts at every turn.  

So today while in NYC,  I was blessed to see one such amazing exhibition by the French artist, Laurence Jenkell at the 42nd Street Port Authority Bus Terminal. 

These works immediately catch your eye as giant fiberglass multi-colored candy beacons resting in various focal points inside and outside the terminal as well as in a dedicated open storefront with the artist’s featured pieces.  

Reminscent of sculptures by Jeff Koons, Jenkell’s fiberglass works not only reflect on the surface of her creations, but also welcome internal reflection.  Her large candy structures remind you of the DNA double-helix as well as a wordplay of “candy” and “figure.” Pinched and squeezed,  wrapped and wrapt, the observer cannot help but wander along the artist’s 3 dimensional message.  The choice of a seemingly harmless image: candy both beckons and lures as it explores and defines vague concepts that often escape our understanding.  Familiar terms like “international” are newly defined and represented by Jenkell with appealing, shiny, pre-packaged, individually-wrapped national flags.

Further, Laurence Jenkell engages her audience with interactive pieces like her coffee percolator whose lid you can open and close. Her largest piece, a giant reflective “elephant” in the room reflects you as you reflect on it, walking around its circumference pondering its nipped midriff.  

The artist even challenges the viewer to look with childlike curiosity at terms and events with new eyes.  For example, her representation of the national tragedy 9/11 is at once memorialized, the familiar Twin Towers as national symbol re-created by arranging red, white and blue candies into two U.S. flags standing side by side. While there was nothing “sweet” about that event, the artist continues this explicitly New York theme with her candy version of the “Big Apple” moniker that has been bitten to its core.  Once again, the artist is modifying the familiar to diminish and “candy” mold New York’s namesake into a new object: chewed and incomplete.  

Finally,  this artist is a gracious host. Not only is she offering her work to be viewed FREE of charge,  but she also allows other artists some room to show their own. Namely, a fellow French artist,  Georges Moqay and Jean-Francois.  That is a class act. 

In return, I’ve attached some helpful links to the artist’s website as well as  some hashtags which the Laurence Jenkell is promoting on her Facebook page: #jenkell #exhibition #candies #artworks #soloshow #NYC #PABT #laurencejenkell #contemporaryart #usa #manhattan #timessquare 

If you find yourself in New York this year, I encourage you to view this worthwhile artist exhibit! 

Follow Laurence Jenkell on Facebook [@LaurenceJenkellArtisteSculpteur], Twitter [@LJenkelk] and Instagram [jenkell_official].

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From Wilt to Well

Yesterday,  while making breakfast,  I looked up at one of my favorite houseplants and noticed that it was terribly wilted. I panicked.

I have a long history with plant life. Ever since I was a child,  I took to tending and caring to them even as my mom complained about her lack of a “green-thumb” because I always felt that it was my responsibility.  I would talk to them, water them and care for them so that they would thrive.  

This was a personal mission because I knew all plant-life to be living things and respected nature to the point of speaking kindly to trees in the park and around my neighborhood.  I would run my fingers along the bark, feeling their textures and thanking them for yielding oxygen so that I could breathe. 

I loved what these majestic beings represented to me. I didn’t see them as inanimate at all, but actual living lessons of what human beings could aspire to.  Grounded, rooted, stoic and strong, bending and giving and reaching to the sky…

When scientific research determined that plants sleep, respond to music and environment, and even scream, I knew what a huge responsibility it was to have plants in a human’s care.  So when my poor plant was wilting (suffering in this case to lack of water), I had to act immediately!

The location was the issue. This particular plant is kept in an elevated planter in my kitchen which means that during the winter months, while the heat in my home rises, the plant will dry out quicker than the others.  Luckily, the leaves were still green and weren’t yellowing.  This meant that in theory, the plant could spring back to life when watered. So, I acted quickly and dug some holes in the soil to help the water seep in.  

And today, I’m happy to report that the plant has perked up! Ta da!!!


So I considered the lesson that this adorable little houseplant was trying to teach me…wordlessly.  I drew a parallel about self-care. Like houseplants, we all need to be paid attention to, cared for,  and nourished. If we do not carefully care for ourselves,  it is so easy to wilt, grow yellow, fall apart,  and eventually die.  But if we take the time to do the things necessary to care for ourselves, our bodies, and our minds, then we can perk up and join all of the natural world in celebrating life!  Now that’s what I call, “abundance”!

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Still Terrified But Doing It Anyway

Today, I posted a video to my Facebook page going live with my monthly sticker updates (something I have done since I became administrator for a worthwhile Mail Art & Planner Facebook group).

This is something that I get very anxious about. What if no one watches?  What if what I say doesn’t matter?  What if I look like a fool?  I’m afraid, I’m afraid, I’M AFRAID…!!

But I did it anyway.

Sticker Me

Creativity cannot exist in a vacuum.  It requires an exchange of ideas and sharing skill sets, knowledge, and encouragement.  These are crucial to be able to grow and shape who you are as an artist.

But on a personal level, it is allowing myself to be visible and to live my true nature.  It involves embracing my vulnerability, my *gasp* introversion (something that was programmed out of me at a very young age to my detriment), and who I want to show to the world-at-large even at the risk of being ostracized, misunderstood, and criticized.

Trust me, I’ve lived a life where I competed with others to be noticed.  I did it all through high school and college in order to satisfy my parents, teachers, authority figures.  I also did it as a survival strategy in order to be liked, to gain a false sense of self, and to hide behind an image so that I could protect the scared children that lived inside of me.

But this way of life no longer serves me.  It just makes me feel like I’m forcing a square peg in a round hole.

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So here I am world…! I am embracing something new and stepping into the terrifying role of being who I am.

It’s a pleasure virtually meeting you…Hi.

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