Friday, April 21, 2017

What I do when my heart feels heavy

hello Munchkins.
The world feels so angry right now, doesn't it?
At least it does to me.
It seems there's a shooting or a bombing
or a hate crime happening 
somewhere in the world every minute.
It saddens me that we haven't yet learned
to live with each other
without killing one another.
I try not to let all the heaviness get to me,
but man, it's hard sometimes.
I haven't painted much lately
but the little bit I've done seems to have
set my heart in its place again.
It's a strange thing (and hard to describe to a NON artist)
but whenever I feel the weight of the world
on my shoulders,
it lingers as an uneasy, unsettled feeling
until I sit myself down and make art.
Or write something.
Especially poetry.
Only then do I begin to feel grounded again,
as though I am part of something grand,
even if it feels like chaos sometimes.
Years ago, when I was a young teenager,
I was sitting in a park one day,
looking at the trees,
and thinking about how we came to call them TREES.
They had no name, really.
They were part of the landscape around me
and until we categorized them as TREE,
they basically just existed.
I tried to look at the tree
with fresh eyes -
to think about how we shared the air
and the space and the same existence,
at this particular point in time.
Without knowing it,
I was living in the moment.

For a few seconds,
I was ONE with the universe.

(...and, I've lost 10 readers.)

Hear me out.

Once in a while during the day,
something happens to remind me
that THIS moment
is the only one that really counts.
We focus so much on tomorrows
and on yesterdays
and on what ifs
and on should haves
that we lose sight of what we have,
right here, right now.
Of course I know it's difficult
to be with the 'here and now'.
Life happens.
We need groceries, so we need 
to plan meals.

We need to work to pay the bills,
we need to prepare certain things in advance,
otherwise, they won't get done on time.
We're taking care of kids
and taking care of aging parents
and paying the mortgage or rent
and feeding the dog
and dealing with our own demons.

Being in the moment works
if you're a guru
or a yoga master
or a monk in a monastery. 

Not so easy if you're a single mom
or if you have terminal cancer
or if you're holding down 2 jobs
to pay the bills.
But the funny thing is,
being in the moment
only requires a MOMENT.
I go through my day like everyone else.
Sometimes rushed,
sometimes angry,
sometimes calm,
sometimes curious,
sometimes happy,
sometimes sad.
But those magic moments can happen

In line at the grocery store.

Hanging clothes out on the line (yes, i do this and love it).

Driving the car to pick up my son.

Hearing a beautiful song on the radio.

So many moments in the day
have the potential
to be magic.

We just need to learn to tune in.

Sometimes, when I skip yoga,
I at least find the time
to sit myself down on the couch and breathe deeply.

3 deep breaths, in and out,
and I think
about the magic of lungs,
and the heart,
and the brain,
and good intentions,
and the energy of ALL living things
(including trees)
and of the power of love.
Poetry, music, art.
The stabilizing forces 
when all else seems to fall apart.

Before I did this piece (below),
I had a knot in my chest.

Sometimes, we just need to get it out, don't we?

This works for me.
And just after this, I felt more grounded again.
Until the next frustrating feeling comes along.
Which I'll just paint again. ;)

I'm convinced that if more people learned
to write and paint their frustrations,
there would be far less hate in this world.

Or at least it would all be on paper
and not as bullets to the chest.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

art challenge, winter blues and sharp shooting

hello everyone!

Well, I've discovered over the past little while
that my habit of blogging on a regular basis is changing. 
Social media has always been "love/hate" for me,
but I must admit that I've been using Instagram
more than anything lately.
It's quick, it's convenient, 
and I don't need to have the computer on
to post a little something. ;)
Still, it's always good to come back here,
even if it happens a little less often now.

March is often a depressing month here.
Wet snow, dirty snow, freezing rain,
with the occasional sunny day,
so it can get a little heavy on the psyche. ;)

My dad was a carpenter,
and I remember how the weather always had
such an effect on him as I was growing up.
Bad weather meant a hard day at work,
or no work at all.
So I consciously make an effort
not to let weather bother me too much.

Still - snowstorms in March suck. ;) 

With dad's recent move to an assisted living home,
and me sorting through all his stuff bit by bit,
I feel like art really took a back seat
over the past few months.
That, plus I'm working on an e-course
and a few other things at the same time
that seem to be zapping my energy
more than I like to admit.

Whenever that happens to me,
I often need just a little push
to get me going again.


This "21Embody" art challenge (by Connie at Dirty Footprints)
was exactly what I needed to get me going again.
If I did nothing else, at least I'd make art for 21 days.
And sometimes, you don't want to think
about "what to paint".
The daily prompts were all I needed
to get me back to painting.
You can see all 21 days at #paulineleger
if you want to see all the body parts. ;)
This is how I felt at the end of the challenge. :)
So I've been trying to practice daily yoga again,
and sometimes skip it.
And writing 5 things I am grateful for each day,
and sometimes skip it.
Life is an ebb and flow, isn't it?
Sometimes I do well with commitment,
but more often than not,
i get comfortable with the imperfections.
That's gotta be the best part
about growing older (and wiser).

Getting comfortable with our flaws.

I avoid perfectionist like the plague. ;)
March is also the month that my dear friend Liz died,
already 6 years ago now. (ovarian cancer)

As the years pass, it's easier to remember the good times 
and to understand the lessons she taught us
with her own imperfections
and her "ok-ness" about it all.
The only time she ever strived for perfection
was in her photography.

"Perfection is possible with photography",
she would say "because we're able to manipulate reality".
I will forever remember how much we laughed so much
about so many things.

We both took our training to become
Correctional Officers at the same time,
and that in itself was a joke. ;)

We both hated guns.
(ironically, we both got marksmanship awards for excellent shooting!)

We were both about 5' in height.

We were both artists at heart.

So why in the hell would we apply 
to become correctional officers in maximum security prisons?

Because we needed to work.
We needed jobs.

And there were openings at the time.
And we both knew we wouldn't hesitate
to quit if it became unbearable.

About 2 years into the job,
it became unbearable for both of us.

The money wasn't worth it.

So Liz went to study in Ontario
and became a photographer
and I studied locally
and became a graphic designer.
And the rest is history.

Well, not really, because neither one of us
became famous - but still - it sounds good, doesn't it? ;)


Part of my little painting corner in the blue room...

See that gorgeous little blue weave on the wall?
I bought this from my lovely friend Tara Leaver, on Etsy.

I love how it makes me feel when I see it.

That's what art should be, shouldn't it?
Something that makes you feel good when you see it,
or brings a smile to your face.
It doesn't matter how "valuable" it is to someone else,
as long as it holds value to YOU.
As long as you love it when you see it,
that's all that matters.

So surround yourself with whatever brings you joy.
Hang art on your walls that makes you smile.
Even better if it's YOUR art. :)
Don't let anyone else determine 
the value of something.
YOU get to decide what has value for you,
not someone else.

Wishing everyone a
wonderful week ahead!
Thanks for hanging out with me.