I need to make a choice

The first part of the raranga/weaving course I’m doing is complete and I have acquired some basic skills so now I need to decide what my major focus will be.  Having completed my whatu tauri I could make a korowai/cloak, an enormous project requiring a great deal of patience.

My first whatu tauri. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

My first whatu tauri.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

I could focus on kete/baskets and look at textures, patterns and ornamentation but something in me says I should bring everything together, develop the basic skills and take the traditional skills and come up with 3 dimensional sculptures.  Off loom weaving has always been an interest however one where I haven’t experimented greatly so this will be new and require some daring.

So what do I choose?  Play it safe?  Explore new territory?  It’s no contest really.  I shall start with kete because there is still a lot to learn and then . . . sculptural pieces incorporating some beach finds! And maybe I’ll make another whatu tauri with ‘beach treasure’ in it as well!

When a choice is made I am not only choosing to do something, I am also excluding other choices . . . and that is the difficult part for me.

in search of a hero

Warning, the inner critic causes the use of mild expletives.  You see I have a copy of Quinn McDonald‘s new book The Inner Hero Creative Journal: Mixed Media Messages to Silence Your Inner Critic and I’m working my way through it.  As a first step I let the IC out so we could get acquainted.  If you take a look at the very generous preview on Amazon you’ll see what I mean.  Not that I purchased the book from them . . . Book Depository is a far cheaper option for me, or even Fishpond.

But I digress.  What I wanted to tell you is that, while I knew the IC is really negative and does not hesitate to criticise me, undermine my confidence and reinforce any little hesitation on my part so that it overwhelms me to the point of inertia, I did not realise what an utter bitch it is when challenged!  So if or when you delve into this wonderful publication, be prepared!  Even my digression about book suppliers started a minor skirmish.  “You can’t stick at anything for long can you!”   These criticisms are always said as a statement of fact, they are not posed as questions.

So yes, an utter bitch and there’ll be more on the gendering of insults and compliments at a later date . . . I have made a note.  If I start in on that particular rant now I’ll get it in the ear again.  I will let you know up front however, I bought my copy of the book, I am not being paid to review it in fact I haven’t read it all yet, oh, and I do follow Quinn’s blog . . . I start my day with a coffee and Quinn in bed . . . just the coffee, not Quinn.  It’s not just her posts that are great, the community of people who comment is marvellous.

This fiendish IC seems to not only carry all the negativity and criticism that I grew up with but has some very tricky and slightly more benign company.  Yes!  There are two of the little buggers!  Do I need to point out that ‘bugger’ is not considered swearing here in New Zealand or in Australia?  Check out this ad, there were several of them over the years and although there were complaints to the NZ Broadcasting Authority but they weren’t upheld.   In fact to call someone a bit of a silly bugger is almost affectionate (mental note, write a post about NZ colloquial language) but I have no affection at all for these two.

IC #1.  You would be amazed at what this guy says to me . . . I’m not sure of its gender but I think of it as male, a great ugly, sticky, black cloud of a fellow who is now out on his own trying to fend off my attack.  What does he say you ask?  Well, as the mouthpiece of all the historical criticism,  both real and perceived (my reality Pete if your reading this) he seems to spurt an almost constant stream of verbal diarrhea aimed squarely at my self-esteem.  I’m thinking that I must have a healthy self-esteem or he wouldn’t shout so bloody much!

The tone of his barbed comments is rather predictable.  They’re barbed like fish hooks that stick in to you and can only be removed with some pain but oh the relief when you get them out!  The comments, similar to the one above, are all about how I’m unlovable, undeserving, unworthy, inconsistent and ill-disciplined, just a jack of all trades and have no originality.  What utter garbage!  But of course now that I’m on to him and challenging at every turn he thinks it time to step up the volume.

Want to know what I do?  I laugh!  And say “Yeah, right!” in a very Kiwi way.  No, not the fruit, they’re actually kiwifruit, I’m a Kiwi and a kiwi is the bird.  See IC, my digressions are f-u-n-n-y!  How do you write a word so the reader says in s-l-o-w-l-y? As if to someone having trouble understanding but in this case, loaded with sarcasm.  I can give as good as I get!

I’ve also reframed some of the comments over the years: jack of all trades is now versatile and flexible in my thinking.

IC #2.  Now this character was harder to isolate because it had a purpose but then went rogue on me.  This one is probably feminine but very, very sneaky now because she doesn’t want to be uprooted.  Mind you if she could join up with an Inner Hero (they get the courtesy of full title), she might just go back to her role of cautionary protector and get something of a reprieve.  You see I think this one tried to stop me exposing myself to criticism but very quickly became the perfect squelch to creativity and originality, to taking risks.  Yeah, Squelch is a good name . . . slimy little character.

Ah!  I feel stronger already!  Expose the enemy and highlight their flaws for a change!  IC #1 has absolutely no sense of humour which it why laughing works for now . . . no doubt he’ll disguise his bitchy self but for now, I have the nasty little bugger cornered!  And IC #2 is just a timorous wee beastie.

I have a Warrior Inner Hero who stands up for the misunderstood, the marginalised, the frail and the less fortunate, and now she has armour on and is standing up for me!  Happy hunting Warrior Woman!

Want a pretty picture?   Here you are. I found this piece of driftwood, shaped like a pregnant belly on the beach a while back and it really needed the stud in its navel.IMG_2366

breakfast in the sun

My house talks to me.  When it starts making a good solid clunking sound as the sun heats the roof past a certain temperature, I know that summer is on the way.  It’s been months since this happened but now, each morning when I hear it, I know the day will be warm.  IMG_2085Yesterday was the first Saturday morning for some time that I sat outside in the sun among the shells, stones and bleached driftwood and bones collected from the beach, listening to the sound of birds and the surf.  Bliss! IMG_2087Before I knew it I was dead-heading the arctotis.  No commitments, no demands on my time, I’m just relaxed and being spontaneous.   I have a real sense that I am exactly where I should be, doing what it best for my spiritual, physical, emotional and mental health, so like I said . . . Bliss!

 

un-shelving and 3 insights before lunch

Un-shelving is a word, because I just used it.  My blog had been deliberately laid aside, shelved, for a further two months for no reason other than I chose to do so . . . and that should be good enough.  It’s not that I’ve been busier than usual, unwell or not creating anything, it’s just that I make choices to (pretty much) suit myself and being able to do that is one of my most basic needs.

What I need in my life are very simple things: people I love and respect; peace and tranquility within; play, the activity when I get lost in the moment, is essential to my wellbeing; being productive whether at work or play is immensely satisfying to me; and power, the power to make choices.  These are my 5 Ps and I have been thinking a great deal about them over the past couple of months . . . well, years longer if truth be told.  Maybe I will blog some more about each . . . are you interested?

I could have blogged about the pohutukawa tree in my garden that burst forth in blossom in time for Christmas . . . IMG_1345DSC09963the art I have created . . . IMG_1207work inspired by Diana Trout on 21 Secrets, call it emulating or copying if you will, I really admire her style – it was wonderful so I signed up to 21 Secrets 2013 (check out all the amazing tutors) over at Dirty Footprints Studio.Meg's fish carcase and crab Emulating Diana Troutthe beach treasure that has been found and the creativity it inspired . . . Meg's fish carcase and crabJeanne's garden sculpturethe forgotten potatoes, desperate to grow . . . Potatoesthe 20,000 bees that thought the bench seat at my front door would make a great hive . . .Visiting bees my holiday visitors . . . Jeanne with flowersMeg and Elmoor even my new flagpole – you simple cannot live at the beach and not have one.  The flag represents the five elements and I brought it back from one of my visits to Hanoi . . .Flag - 5 elements. . . however I didn’t.  I chose to take a break and today, with the sun shining, cicada’s chirping and sound of the surf in the background, I have chosen to resume blogging partly as a response to thought-provoking blogs such as Quinn McDonald’s. 

I keep a journal, mostly writing, very personal and occasionally a blog or the journal itself will throw up a quote I want to use as a leaping off point for creativity or just to ponder and write another page.   Today I was reading the comments on Quinn’s blog entitled Speaking Up For Your Own Sake, the comments are always worthwhile. There was a quote from Meg Hess, “you can tell the helped by the hunted look in their eyes” and it made me think of how I hope to respond, both personally and professionally.  My success is variable.

And Violette Clark’s blog today had me thinking about balance and the struggle, that perhaps most of us have, in retaining our equilibrium.   Personally I think there is a lot to be said for shaking it up occasionally.

So, my three insights or BFOs (Blinding Flashes of the Obvious) before lunch?

  1. Helping is something I try not to do, even when asked, as I believe the most valuable thing I can do is to make a space where they can help themselves.
  2. I respect my body: we’ve been through a lot together.
  3. Just like a tightrope walker . . . getting the wobbles is fine as long as you know where your centre is.

So there you are . . . I’m back, how often I have no way of knowing.  Sometimes daily, but I doubt it.   Maybe weekly?  It will be irregular and although I’d like to say I’ll provide X posts a week and have a particular focus, that isn’t me.   Yes, there’ll be links to interesting blogs and inspriational TED talks, yes, I’ll posts about my delightful granddaughters, yes, creative endeavours and insights and, goodness knows what else . . . I just don’t like being boxed in.   My need for freedom of choice is way too high!  Ah, the power to choose!

I am content with myself at this point in time.

beach sculpture – who can help themselves?

There are times after heavy rain in the mountains or a storm at sea when there is a lot of drift wood on the beach.  Last weekend was one of those times – the mouth of the stream, with its patient whitebaiters in attendance, had changed yet again, and the beach had rich pickings of beach treasure. Never go to the beach without a bag for collecting treasure – or a camera.  If my son hadn’t had his iPhone . . . .Adam started to poke sticks into a receptive piece of wood and before we knew it . . . there was a line of wonderfully weird, balancing sculptures installed along the high tide mark creating interesting shadows.We built a boat to journey to faraway lands just as we had done in childhood . . . surrounded ourselves with a palisade of sticks . . . and ended the afternoon completely tuckered out but still not wanting to go home.All of this was free . . . all of this was priceless.

blessings counted = bliss

The birthday weekend was wonderful – the food fabulous.  Unfortunately no-one took photos!  The cook is a photographer so it’s hardly surprising that she didn’t and I was busy catching up with the girls.

The weather was so brilliant that a lot of time was spent on the beach – the girls were worn out by the end of each day, as well as their Nanna, and they didn’t want to go home – in fact the youngest almost got quite stroppy about it but she was too tired to put up much of a fight and besides, she know when to cut her losses and that returning to Nanna’s house in a given.

A 360 view from the top of a sand dune close to my house (behind the next sand dune) taken on my iPhone using the DMD Panorama app.  Sorry about the wonky horizon, I nearly fell off my perch!

We crossed over the stream and headed north where Jeanne set about picking up horse mussel shells, they’re about 20 centimetres or 8 inches long.  The first thing she did on getting home was to create a maṇḍala on the deck.Horse MusselsMeg practice writing her name on the beach . . .. . . and lunch was al fresco.

On Sunday afternoon we all worked on a line of sculptures on the beach and a sandy boat at the high tide mark – photos to come . . . I didn’t even have my phone on me but fortunately my son did.

As I packed up for the working week and left yesterday morning, I was really happy that it was going to be the last time I did it – it’s hardly surprising that I don’t want to leave here during the week is it?   And it’s the school holidays next week, we have 4 10-week terms here with a fortnight off in between, so I’ll have a fine time making, playing, sewing and painting too perhaps.

Yes, blessings counted = bliss.

 

taking lessons from the wise – 1

I’ve had grand-daughters here for 4 days – so what did I learn?the boucey logExpensive play equipment is not needed when the river and the tides leave it for free.

Dust is something else to draw in and so are salty windows.

If you need to see outside and the windows are opaque with salt spray, go outside.  Easy!  And don’t waste time washing them before a storm!

Walking on the beach, running up and down sand dunes is more fun than hanging washing, although it has to be done.

The day has begun so don’t waste it wondering what to do – just go and do it.

4-year-olds wake up happy unless they are unwell.

Apparently I have more lines from smiling than frowning.  4-year-old logic says that means I’m happy a lot.

Occupied shells smell bad – don’t take them home.

Always take a bag to the beach for the treasures you’ll find . . . pockets are not big enough although it does make you edit what you’ll keep.

Winter weather doesn’t matter if you can keep warm. bare feet again!

Cold feet are okay and to be expected if you paddle in the winter, and of course you should!

It makes no difference to a child if no housework is done . . . as long as it doesn’t lead to food poisoning.

If it has to be done, vacuuming, or anything else, is more fun if you have some music playing while you do it.

Disappearing into a good book is learned young and its to be recommended at any time of the day . . . or night.

If you’re 7 and find a piece of wood shaped like a pterodactyl’s head, you don’t think twice about bringing it back from the beach and making it into one.decorating the wings

A little sister can help, especially if you let her know what to do.  “Draw anything you like between the blue line and the green line, okay?”

Flying PteradactylMy house seemed very quiet and empty this morning.

And no, I am not going to do the dusting, wash windows or vacuum . . . I’m going for a walk along the beach while the sun is shining.

I think I am finally learning how to prioritise.

 

the simple things

One of my favourite songs is Joe Cocker singing The Simple Things and that’s the kind of weekend I’ve had.  A wonderful 3 day weekend that began with my son dropping off his delightful daughters for 3 nights.  We did all those things that make childhood happy and they were all simple things.

A pair of socks, transformed into a dinosaur and a banana to eat in the winter sunshine.

Doodling on paper . . .

Doodling is like letting the pen feel free in your hand – Jeanne, age 7

. . . and in the sand.

You can doodle anywhere – Jeanne, age 7

The discovery of a jellyfish washed up by the tide.Being alone with your thoughts ankle deep in mud .Heart-shaped puffballs to poke.There was a DVD of Curious George by candle light, in pyjamas with crisps, a cuddle any time of day and a dance recital for the toys.

Shadow puppets and a light show using a red tower torch – made with a lunch-wrap roll, toilet roll tube, cellophane and Nanna’s torch.And then there’s the surprise installation of a 4 year old.

We’re always wanting more than what we have
What I’ve learned, is what I really need are. . .

The simple things
That come without a price
The simple things
Like happiness joy and love in my life
I’ve seen it all from so many sides
And I hope you would agree
That the best things in life
Are the simple things

Writers: Rick Neigher, Philip Roy, John Shanks

Ah . . . such are the joys of little girls and grandmothers.

I got snail mail!

Yesterday afternoon, as I walked on the beach I found a piece of driftwood as black as pitch that looked for all the world like a crow’s head.  Now one of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Violette’s Creative Juice – and Violette has a special place in her heart for crows.  Crow

So there I was, wandering back from the beach with my crow, thinking about Violette and her love for crows, I checked the mail and YAY!  Violette had sent me her Teen Dream Journal DVD – lucky, lucky me!  I am probably the only person in New Zealand to have one!! Mail

In my job I work with students at risk of failure due to learning and/or behaviour difficulties and self-esteem is a big issue – I mean, if you don’t believe in yourself you’re not going to make optimum progress (at any age).  This DVD is so jam-packed full of material designed with increasing self-esteem in mind and I can’t wait to use it!  It’s school holidays now so I have to be patient – and that’s not a strength I have when enthusiasm strikes.

I’ve watched from the point of view of a teacher who perhaps doesn’t have much experience in art but knows that kids love to experiment and express themselves.  There are enough wonderfully clear demonstrations, explanations, PDF materials and templates for even the most cautious student and teacher to create something unique that reflects their thoughts and feelings.

I can’t wait to use the DVD with teachers and students and I’m certainly recommending it very highly to a friend who works in an alternative school.    Actually, if you’re new to art journaling at any age, it’s a terrific resource.  Get Violette’s book Journal Bliss as well and you’re on your way!

pumice pieces and the work/play dilemma

Beach treasure – pick up the pumice, bring it home, play with a pocket knife!

Last week I was off to interviews and ended up with a temporary job for 5 months.  5 months income is better than none however I now have a small problem which I may have found a solution to.    It’s been a good news, bad news kind of week.

The good news was I found some work in a field I love with wonderful colleagues, many of who I know.

The bad news was that it was in a city some distance away across, sometimes, icy roads and I would need to find a place to stay.

More bad news, I recently re-homed a very neglected little dog and won’t be able to keep her.

The good news is that my across-the-road neighbour has adopted Kizi so I get visiting and walking access and yesterday, I think I found somewhere to stay.

The bad news is I have a full-time job for 5 months just when I’m really getting into the swing of just mucking around and re-learning how to play with abandon in The Late Start Studio.

How will I find the time?  That is my work/play dilemma.