The Power of Doing Nothing

I’ll admit that this last Presidential election irritated me.  On Election night, I panicked and all of my fears during the primary were confirmed: Donald Trump had “won”.

I’ll also admit that all of my hopes and dreams about this country had been dashed long before then.  I didn’t like the mud-slinging that was going on because this type got ugly…really ugly.  It wasn’t about policy or plans but about threats and unprecedented hate-mongering.

My response seemed common.  I trolled the internet, Facebook posts and Twitter feeds.  Like many Americans, I began to fear and challenge the results thinking of the protests of the 60’s, hearing the rallying cry of so many of my friends who would be directly affected by this outcome.  I envisioned the madness of our world’s history: emboldened fascists and neo-Nazis marching on Washington brandishing high-powered assault rifles.  I read the articles about the alt-right movement breeding a new batch of Muslim-hating racists. I felt sick; I had bouts of interrupted sleep; I got angry; I wondered what to do. Surely, I had to do something…

Should I Take This Lying Down?

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to my imagination.  I couldn’t escape the imagery that raced through my mind.  Trump represents everything that I am against: unethical behavior, racism, sexual-assault, lying, cheating, criminality, capitalism, self-absorption, reality TV, xenophobia, narcissism.  So, being the visual being that I am, I couldn’t help but picture this:received_10210611339256932

**My Darth Vader digital drawing on Trump Mail Art Event image by MOAN LISA

But even as my mind spiraled deeper and deeper into the dark, I remembered this iconic image of John Lennon and Yoko Ono staging their “Bed In” protest:

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That’s when I realized something.  Trump may become this nation’s next President, but there is one thing that he couldn’t do: get my permission.  He could be the worst leader in the free world, but he doesn’t hold my beliefs, thoughts, way of life, art, ideology hostage because these do not belong to anyone but me.  I belong in the world and my existence proves that.  I am here. I can choose to live my life and not be burdened by the things in this world (that I have no control of anyway).  I can choose to be happy and reject anyone who tries to be cruel, mean, and negative towards me.  I can try to challenge my beliefs to see if I can find common ground with others who, like me, don’t want to miss the important parts to a good life.  Let’s face it: my time on this earth is limited, but I myself am infinite.  Beliefs are only made manifest if the person consciously chooses to make them so.

Standing Still:

Truth time.  I began to observe what was making me feel upset about this election.  It seemed to stem from my trust in public information and how it’s transmitted.  I wanted to believe that I was a cog on the wheel of justice, the principles of freedom, the American Way that has been ingrained into my brain since childhood.  Further, social media and media’s pervasive nature made me feel a bit of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) if I wasn’t kept up-to-the-second informed on the election, the results, the transition of power or given crucial information that I really believed could threaten my safety and livelihood. But by reading every blessed post, I kept introducing negativity and reinforcing my helplessness, taking ownership of concepts that didn’t originate from me nor defined my true nature in the little, tiny circle of life that I exist in.  I was blindly accepting plates overflowing with distraction and side-orders of disdain.

Why would I want to live out my time worried and frustrated and angry and bitter?  Well, quite frankly, I am addicted to it.  Living in a major city can take its toll on a person’s psyche.  So much stimulus can not only overwhelm the senses, but create false truths in the mind.  I’ve found it so tempting to fall into old, bad habits because I’ve spent a lot of my life working to establish a sense of routine.  And a lot of that routine was already out-of-balance not just due to my lifestyle, but the many poor, dysfunctional choices I’ve made.  I  created chaos because it seemed “normal” to me. Worse, I have grown impatient and long for instant gratification which only makes me nervous and upset when things don’t pan out or follow a predetermined pattern.

Trumping Trump:

Sometimes the best choice is not to choose.  I don’t have to play any politics.  I don’t have to engage.  I don’t have to watch the news.

So what can I do in the meantime (or, at least for four years)?  I can meditate.  I can write and create.  I can watch gentle ASMR videos on YouTube and Netflix’s Sarah & Duck episodes.  I can read, learn new stuff.  I can pet my dog.  I can eat better and exercise.  I can learn to listen and not to judge other people so much because, hey, they’re just like me with maybe a different set of circumstances and experiences.

Now, if I feel my strength waning or my resolve fading, I prefer to picture Trump like this:

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Or, this…

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And so long as I live, I have the freedom to exist in this world just as I am.  And I live in a country that affords that right to all of its people regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or creed.  But I’m aware that each citizen has a right to choose and I can only be responsible for my own actions…or inactions.

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Leaving My Mark:

While searching for inspiration, my sister brought to my attention a Buddhist monk named, Hua Chi.  He has reportedly left his footprint indentations in the wood of a monastery having prayed in the same spot for twenty years!

Dedication to being the best person that I can be amidst disbelievers and the unconscious masses is all that I can do.  If other people are inspired by that, and feel compelled to follow in my footsteps (pun intended), then what an indelible mark that would leave behind!

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Life on a Boat

When the rudder is damaged and it feels as though you’re lost at sea, consider this: You still have the oars.

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Earth Madre White Prints

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People still don’t know that I was born an artist. I repressed the admission for so long worrying about being judged for this unworthy career path, that I think it surprises people to know that I haven’t stopped creating.

My current work is playing with white ink which evolved into these reverse-images of my original Earth Madre prints.

Now, I find myself committing to what I do best through illustration and cartoon, carvings and art prints.  The process is very intriguing and continues to surprise me. Often, the prints display nuances I’d never anticipated which are so refreshing! It naturally removes that urge to control outcome.

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The latter prints came out a bit globby but I think it’s because of the varying degrees of liquidity in the ink. I mixed black liquid ink with the solid white and added a little vinegar to the mixture. It made this silvery-grey colour that was interesting.  I also noticed that the white brought out more of the carved details which was nice.

Whatdya think?

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The End is The Beginning is The End is The Beginning…

So…2016 is here.  And, I am here. And, you are here.

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This is a big step, realizing just how magical and miraculous it is to be in the world. How did that sperm decide to fertilize that egg?  How many years did it take to create an idea in my parent’s minds that I was important enough of a soul to try and keep trying until they were successful?  Then, once born, how did I manage to survive? 

My mother always mentioned just how hard it was for her to get pregnant with me. I always felt flippant about it, it seemed like a fable, a story that she told so that she could feel valued and I could feel guilty. But no–I know that now. She wanted to express just how valid I was…a conscious decision that she was making to bring life into the world.  It is a feeling that I’d come to know only vaguely as I consciously rejected that role, opting for the life that I lead.

But what is this life that I lead? Well, it’s a lot of things that are not taught to you.  And that’s where I wanted to start.

Born Again:

When people say, ‘Things have a way of sorting themselves out’ they don’t realize that other people are just sorting it out for them so they can believe that.

No one sits you down and tells you that you are grown-up. You don’t have your mommy and daddy sign a Permission Slip for your life. When it just happens, as with a host of other life experiences,  you kind of just freak out…ah, Awareness.  Suddenly,  your life which you attributed to your parents is yours to do with as you wish. But, no one tells you how messy this is going to be nor how complex.

Then, two significant deaths happen.  Confusion. Relief. Fear. What does this mean? Now, three years after, I know.  I’ve lived it.

On this bright Sunday afternoon, I can say with certainty that there are a great many things that I’ve learned about myself.  There are some shades of life-goals but none are too pressing at the moment.

Is That All There Is?

Yes and No. And, maybe? Uh, I dunno. I think so. Definitely. Um…I guess.

There are always improvements that can be made, so long as they are relevant and you are willing.  But it’s always unfinished…until it’s not. 

It’s kind of like at a dinner party that’s going really really well and everyone has already served themselves seconds and the food is almost gone…but there is that one piece of pie left and those that are full keep going on and on about how they couldn’t even eat that last bite…of course they couldn’t, shouldn’t!…but they keep eyeing it. Are you honest enough with yourself? Will you take the last piece of pie but worry about it going to your hips or thinking about how many miles you’re going to jog to work it off?  Or, will you quickly snatch it before someone else and then quietly revel at the other’s misfortune, missing their opportunity to seize the last bite instead of you? Or, will you simply savor it knowing that you grabbed it because you wanted it and you are now enjoying it and that moment will happen for someone else…or not. You are eating it and it tastes good!  Or, even though you want it choose not to grab it, so that someone else can enjoy it? Or, will you, without a second-thought not even notice the last piece at all?

I’ll admit that I still will complain about how fattening it is, but will seize the opportunity and grab it, loving the taste and my good fortune at getting the last piece. That’s where I am right now. But this may change and improve over time. I don’t know. I’m undone. I’m a work-in-perpetual-progress.

Life has gotten blessedly slower. I’m happier now. I relish my days at home with my dog, Cher. I pay attention.  I like looking out my apartment windows to see nature. I pay particular attention to the squirrels and birds.

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Misery on Broadway:

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My sister, my mom and I wanted to see this play with Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalfe. I am so glad we went! Had a blast and got to take some really cool pics…

Star Wars Month:

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After a philosophical conversation with Yoda, I went back to the future to attend the renewal of Padme’s wedding vows to Anakin from the distant galactic future. It was awesome. 

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My sister won at a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors which resulted in a perfectly timed birthday celebration (a day before my 42nd birthday)! To up the ante, my sis bought us matching t-shirts. It was a great day!

Myzel’s Chocolate:

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I was privileged to meet the kind owner of Myzel’s Chocolate in NYC.  Her small place on W 55th Street is where I tried sugar plums for the first time and where I bought arguably THE GREATEST CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES IN THE WORLD!!!!! I am so going back there…

Blessings and Joy and Peace to you this New Year and Beyond!!! ♡

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A Walk in the Park

What happiness looks like.

What happiness looks like.

These days, I am perfecting the plateau stage of my life. At least, that’s what it appears to be but I have no way of confirming this or of carefully analyzing such notions as there really is no method that I know that would or could measure this personal truth, but whatever…that’s not the real point anyways so stop asking so many questions, Brain.  Turns out that the Art of Being Happy is not as easy as it sounds.  It involves a lot of routine, establishing a system of rules that work for your lifestyle and then, *gasp* actually sticking to them.

There’s an immense level of commitment that goes into a Daily Grind and it almost always (for me) involves the imbibing of some caffeinated morning brew (aka Cup O’ Joe, Café Ole, or Jersey Cawfee) to act as the catalyst to the rest of the day.  Routine is all about maintaining and adhering to a continuous established order. It isn’t intended to be like a Groundhog’s Day where a person relive the prior day’s events over and over and over again…but what it does do is allow a person the opportunity to immerse themselves in the activity of being present in the moments.  Woah.  Sounds far out there right?  Um, I thought so too until I realized that living is only valuable and completely engaging when I let the natural order of things happen.   It doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally yawn on the bus or ‘zone out’ when someone is talking over my head about something that a) I have no interest in. b) don’t want to do. c) is so new that it needs to sync in. d) I really really have no interest in doing.  But it does mean that I now have the responsibility of telling the truth.  That means that if I don’t want to do something, I actually admit to myself: hey, Lisa, you really don’t wanna do this.  Then, I have to admit this to others: Folks, I really really don’t wanna do this. Sorry.

ImpressionU 1ImpressionU 2So what else am I up to?  Well, my art is expanding and I’m experimenting with rubber stamps now.  So far, I’ve created a few but am still trying to get the hang of it trying different types: linotype, rubber, wood…whatever.  The goal is to see what ultimately works for me.  But I encourage anyone who’s interested in memorializing personal symbols, inside jokes, people, places and things to give it a try. I promise that it isn’t as hard as it looks.

I also finished hosting my first ever Halloween Mail Art notecard swap and found that to be a lot of fun (despite my initial anxiety).  Also, my Art Journal project has finally gotten off the ground and I have now successfully distributed three 4″x6″ mini notebooks (with 11 works each) to other Mail Art folks in a closed network.  I am going to try to expand it to the world-at-large, but that will be part of a bigger project that I don’t want to start until my obligatory Art Journals are all completed and out the door!

I just finished Art Journal #4 and have to get it out by today so…

What are you guys working on?  How are you doing with your own personal struggles and rebirth and reinventions?

Can’t wait to hear about them…

~MeMa

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Chapter 41: Cher and Share Alike

In November, as I sat in my very empty apartment, having no idea what direction my life was taking, worried that I’d mucked it all up with a series of debacles that were anything but minor to me, I came to the realization: I wasn’t really living. Living, as it turns out, is messy without all of the controls I’d put in place to pretend that I was satisfied. I had set these goals for myself  (all of which I’d managed to accomplish). Then, the floor fell and I’d spent three years picking up the pieces.

Mother’s Day is tomorrow and as I was trying to maintain a more positive attitude about it, I was instead feeling ambiguous. Many, many years ago I stepped into ready-made families and situations that brought children into my life. The first experience was when I was very young and I helped raise 3 young boys. It was a disguised lesson in tolerance, understanding, and I got to give so much love that I thought I’d burst. Those bonds changed as the circumstances of my relationship with their father did, but I learned a lot. I once called them “mine”.
I’d face a girl next and I’d try my best to teach, engage, and inspire her despite some of my major flaws in parenting. It wasn’t until years later that I’d get to see some results of working with her in preparation for tests and school assignments. She’d never agreed with me which was also a lesson on maintaining patience and being humble despite strong, opposite opinions. I once called her “mine”.
The truth is that I was only temporary, a stand-in for the real parents. They will never call me “mom” and those experiences lasted as long as they needed to…in order to learn the lessons.
But it still stings because only I will recognize and know how important each and every one of them were to me. Each connection felt special and they felt as though they belonged to me even if it was only for a time. I know that I have had to let that go but every Mother’s Day, I remember them and it hurts that I won’t get a card or flowers or a day with my kids…because they never truly belonged to me.
Now, I have Cher…and I understand that she also doesn’t belong to me either. Nothing: animal, vegetable, mineral, four- or two-legged belongs to me. All are borrowed beings with their own thoughts, feelings, lives…they are not obligated to love, care, or respect me. There is only one person that can be that for me…
And that’s…M-E.
So this Mother’s Day, I am choosing to not wallow in a concept of “what could have been” or a fantasy of what a parent should have. I’m grateful to have had these life experiences at all!
So if Mother’s Day doesn’t live up to your expectations, I hope that you can appreciate whatever you were given. Good moms are hard to come by and if you’ve been graced with a positive experience, congratulations! You are one of the lucky ones. If you’ve had a negative experience, congratulations! I hope that the bad experience can shape your view in such a way as to love others better than what you personally experienced. Either way, I hope you have learned something (anything) so that you can make your peace with it.
I know that I have.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of my readers and, as always, Enjoy! ♡

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Turning the Ordinary into Art Form

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While grabbing today’s lunch, I decided to grab it “to go” from my favorite food truck. Creature of habit that I am, I always get the same meal: Dal over Rice. In the hundreds of times that I’ve grabbed this meal that has now become one of my go-to lunch staples, I realized why I order this meal so much. It isn’t just the speed of the service nor the servers (which are dutiful and exceptional). It is the great care that they take when placing the often messy dishes into the containers they use. None of the components touch each other or are carelessly thrown in. It is done with the skill and precision of modern artists; their light conversations are seamless and belie the masterful preparation and effort that it takes to make it all look easy. Moreover, the lunch truck is ever-present: Monday through Friday, rain or shine.
I am grateful for my meal and am inspired to make my 9-5 days reach this level. One day at a time…

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