Only a little crash at the finish line…

When I said I would help with scenery for the local theater’s next play I did not fully comprehend what I was getting into.  Set painting, picking out vases and chairs are some of the tasks that came to mind.  What entailed was 4 weeks and 4 days of hard physical work, strategic thinking, and chaotic family schedule…and painting.  Lots and lots of painting.  What began as 8 X 10 backdrop panels ended up being 12 X 12.  And there were four of them.

Set design for the Opera Judith by Alexander Serov. 1907

Naima did not paint this!    Set design for the Opera Judith by Alexander Serov

I painted deciduous trees and pines in two seasons. Now, I am not a landscape painter.  Abstract realism is closer to my style.  So,  they came out more amateurish than I had hoped.  I use the excuse that I was painting on cheap drop cloths, using housepaint from Home Depot, with shitty brushes, while backstage folk regaled me with tales of yesteryear, all while working against a seemingly impossible deadline…but that isn’t much of an excuse. Did I mention that I have a chronic pain and fatigue condition?  Fibromyalgia is no joke.  It may not be well understood, but it is real and often daunting. I told no one at the theater about how I dealt with the pain of working so hard for a month.  So. Throw that in the mix.

One week before opening night the Technical Director called in a young college student to help out. I’m grateful for her help because it meant that I finished all four paintings in time

Set design for the opera Moïse et Pharaon, Par...

Naima did not paint this!  Set design for the opera Moïse et Pharaon, Paris, 1827. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

for opening night.  She asked to paint some details.  I went through many emotional responses and finally I said yes, feeling generous and grateful.  I may not have done it the way that she did, but again, I was grateful for the help.

Jump to opening night.  I went out with a friend for dinner then we went to see the play.  It was the first time I had seen it all the way through. The musicians did a great job, cramped like they were in the hot cave that is the jump on stage right. The singers/actors belted out their songs with gusto.  It was a right nice play.

The cast made short announcements at the reception afterwards.  They gave small gifts to the Director, some of the technical folks and then…they gave a gift to “the girl that helped with the backdrops, painted trim and lots of other things backstage”.  That’s right, the girl that had been around for a week, and added grass-looking slashes to my paintings with her fingers was getting acknowledged for her work on the backdrops.  The ones that I labored over for almost 80 hours.

Boy did my ego have a hard time with that.

Did I not work hard enough? Long enough? Was it like my friend said and it was just that the cast didn’t know me (I worked during the days so that I wasn’t interrupting their rehearsals at night).  Was I lured into thinking I did something special because I was told numerous times that in 40 years, no one had painted a backdrop for that theater before, much less four of them?

Did I crash at the finish line?  No, not really. The paintings were finished before opening night.  My ego was bruised at the finish line but I need to remember that it wasn’t my ego that was painting, so the bruising was ultimately self inflicted. I had an attachment to the outcome, rather than realizing the moments spent painting were all the joy I needed.

Photo credit George Breed

Panel #3, Day 1  –  Photo credit George Breed

Mamma’s gotta’ get her mojo back – 2

How did I offend my muse?

Well, my hunch is that I didn’t offend so much as neglect.

When a cook isn’t given bountiful or beautiful or adequate ingredients,

dinner suffers. Thin gruel, night after night after night

Same thing with any creative endeavor.

I have starved my muse.

From what I’ve heard, I now have to take baby steps to re-nourish her/him/it.

to increase the nutrition of the nightly/daily gruel I’ll add some sunshine

on skin

sans 50 SPF, for as long as I can take it.

Maybe next week I’ll add more music.


Hesiod and the Muse

Mamma’s gotta’ get her mojo back – 1

what is mojo?

where can I find some?

would I know it if I saw it?

Or, might it be best to find mojo by smelling for it.

feeling around a little might not be so bad either

I am terrified of mojo

it’s chaotic – yet, there is…an order, of sorts. or…

a familiarity a remembering a smoking trail

of exhuberance

and deep groundedness

and tears that welled up from a place supremely primal

and so I keep looking

hiding from myself

seeking myself

my suffering is born of my  desire to find

I keep forgetting I’m already found…

but where is my mojo

my muse?

did I


offend thee?


The following painting made me weep upon seeing it, in person at the Met, in NY about 10 years ago.  Only a couple of things since then, artistically, have stirred such emotion.

Create our own reality…or unnecessary pressure?

“A survivor is someone who hasn’t committed suicide yet” – author unknown

Mother's Day

This, or three hours alone? I choose the three hours!!!

When I hear people say we create our own reality, I feel like what they’re really saying is that I had better live up to my own expectations, otherwise, I’m falling short.  I fell like I’m always falling short.  I apparently have very little capacity to create my reality in the way that makes a huge fabulous balanced life. I think of leaving this earthly plane because I can’t get it right, over and over and over….

But maybe I’m looking at it wrong. If I reframe it through a householder yogi’s eyes, through a spiritual warriors heart, I can see that it’s not the reality but the creating, in each moment, my “take”, my perception, of said reality that is the clincher.

Today I read two great Mother’s Day wrap up posts – From Patience Delgado: “We hate it because somewhere along the way, we told mamas that life must be the show: amazing, astounding, and we are responsible for it all.”  We tell ourselves we must be the only one who can’t quite hack it, can’t find the balance. We try so very hard at keeping it all together. The secret truth is, there is a place for every woman — a place where there is no balance, no right way, no thoughtful response, no barrier, no fear, no perfection, no layer left. It is this place where the real beauty resides, where truth reigns, where courage begins, where our children can really see life, where we find love, where we can rest.”

Does this mean that falling down is our moment of creation? Our moment of finding our strength and resilience? Yes, I’m beginning to see it that way.

I can’t possibly begin to be responsible for it all, and I certainly can’t make it amazing or astounding for anyone else, especially if I can’t do it for myself very often. As Valarie indicated we have to be specific about what we ask for. Even from ourselves, I find, because I’m so overwhelmed so much of the time that I can’t form a pure intention to save my life. Thank you for this reminder that, as I hear it, we must be realistic and sweet to ourselves, that we must keep going, that each moment is new, and a chance for new creation.

What I’ve been working on…

I’ve been absent from here for a while.   Life busy.

But here’s a glimpse of a couple of things…

FINISHED finally!:

A few weeks ago, I put out to the universe – I want my mojo back!!! and I was rewarded with the impetus to create this collage/box – “Disco”

The inside of the box:

And here’s where I work, when I get the chance:

And, I’ve been practicing enjoying my kids more….

I’ll have some more thoughts to share soon….the ever elusive “soon”…..

Open Hear post #2

Opening Hear – inspirations that come from anywhere that cause us to listen with our hearts, unlocking them in the process.

Here is a quote that upon first glance may not scream “open your heart!”
but, for me, I need my feet on the ground so my heart can soar!

“Be regular and orderly in your life,
so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
– Gustave Flaubert

I found this quote on this blog.

If I were going to show my art on a large scale

…what would that look like?

  • it would include mystery
  • it would be sensual
  • It would not be precise, but detailed, yes
  • it would use color thoughtfully
  • it would have a corresponding soundtrack to listen to when gazing upon
  • it would suggest a food item to ingest during said gazing

I have dreamed of an art show, that I create, where all the senses converge in mini-rooms.  You step into one and you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel an experience.

If you read this post, what kinds of rooms would you want to walk into?