Leaves

It’s no use to eviscerate myself.
No one leaves till the job is done.
Metal rails, wet stone, leaves in the air.
The morning dew glistens gold in the sunrise.

Exhale me in soft shoes like warm brown leather.
Warm the stones with your cheek.
Let me see you through the birds’ eyes
And sing you to sleep with their songs.

The dance of the leaf on the wind echoes through the cosmos.

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Naked in Public.

So… I’ve been journaling for a while in the mornings… I made a rule for myself that I’m not allowed to write about events of the day or “real life feelings”… just word blobs.

And then a friend made me interested in poetry again.

And then another friend made me interested in doing things that feel scary…

So… in the interest of all of that, here’s a couple days’ worth of journal entries, unedited, from my private book:

You raise the dead.
I lick the tears from your eyes.
Splitting hairs as the world falls down… Our stolen moments like papercuts, exquisitely agonizing.
I can’t take my eyes from the scars on your back.
This leaking house, this bleeding heart, cracks in a blanket, lighting up my little room.

Your hands are shaking
Stomach trembles
Muscles release, strung with gold.
Rasputin sings the Fool’s eternal song
Golden puppets dance.
Dance for me.

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Who Do You Think You Are?

Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Friend, Teacher, Child, Parent, Seeker, Preacher, Singer, Poet, Creator, Destroyer, Dreamer…

One of the most interesting quandaries of human life, for me, is the idea of identity. Who the hell do you think you are? And why do we expect identity to be constant, stable?

“Because people need to be able to trust you!”

Well sure. I will continue to be a mother until I die. I will continue to be a wife. When I say I will continue to be a child, though, an interesting twinge appears.

A part of me will always be my parents’ child. I strive daily to maintain a childlike joy in life and in creativity, but my body ages. My mind ages. My ideas change. So am I a child or not? Ask my mom. Ha!

People get nervous when someone changes fast. It hits us right in the amygdala. Our brains are hard-wired to resist change. I remember the look on my then boyfriend’s face when I cut my thigh-length hair off to a chin length bob while he was out one night… I think he thought it was me cutting off our relationship… Fortunately, he’s become accustomed to my behavior…

You can count on a person’s core most of the time, but expecting them to hold the lines of expected identity is a horse of a different color. Even giving them the freedom for change, whether they take it or not, makes humans happier, healthier creatures. Change is inevitable, after all.

Do you trust me?

Onward and upward
As always, with love
*

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Things We Held.

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Tonight’s the Night

One of my favorite ways to spend an evening is painting to live music. Every once in a while, I get to work with some fabulous musician. Wendel Werner, local workaholic, has been gracious enough to share his stage with me a couple of times before. Tonight, we’ll give it one more shot.

People frequently ask me how I can be sure that I’ll finish a painting in two hours.

“Don’t you plan what you’re going to paint?”
No. Not at all. My “safety net” is in bringing more than one board to paint on… I just paint and see what “works out” as I go, enjoying the music and the energy in the room.

“How can you charge so much when it only took you two hours to paint two paintings?”       Well… Before I bring the boards on stage, there is a lot of work to do.

First, I prime the boards on front and back.  Then I add texturing materials. Once those are on, the board requires between two and four more coats of paint just to ensure good adhesion and no “white spots” that I might not notice in the relatively low lighting on stage.  Many hours of work go into preparing the boards so they’ll be ready to accept whatever comes to me on stage.

“Will you sell them to the audience at the end?”

I will, but before I let the piece go home with anyone, I do need to bring it back to the studio, make sure the edges are all still nice and black, attach hanging wire (if desired), and title/sign the back.

So now, my boards are primed. My easel is ready. My family is waiting, and I’m going out to lunch.  See you tonight!

Here’s a clip from our first performance in January of 2016.

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Hope

Don’t tell me it will be alright.

Don’t tell me this doesn’t affect my life.

Don’t tell me not to be mad.

Don’t tell me not to find peace.

When I see a problem, I’m compelled, like water flowing downstream, to try to fix it. I see dirty dishes, I want to clean them. I hear a crying child, I want to hug it.  I see a massive problem in society, I want to put it back to rights…

So now is just like every other day in my life in some way… I’ve always been agonized by the screaming of oppressed humanity.  The fact that it’s a little closer to home right now doesn’t change the fact that humans are really horrible to each other a lot of the time. (See:The Inquisition, WWI, WWII, etc, etc, etc).

I see all these images of hate speech in public all of a sudden… and I feel more tension in public a lot of the time… but I have to fight my instinctive reaction to curl up in a ball and hide at home. I can’t do that. I can’t quiver with fear that someone in my family will be attacked for being black or brown or female or otherwise different.  I can’t. I have to do something about it.

But what can I do? Well I have to cling to hope. I have to hold tight to the love in my life and the belief I’ve always held, that we are ALL family. The only way I know to change the world is by being better in my own self. So I am selfish, selfishly clinging to the possible positives that may come. That keeps me painting and singing and smiling at strangers… I’m no expert at being a human, but that’s some small thing I can do.

My smile doesn’t mean I’m blind or stupid or unhurt. It means I’m keeping the faith and trying to live the example I’d like to see reflected in all the eyes I meet.

Onward and upward, dear friends

*

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A Matter of Security.

If you’ve spent any time around me, you’ve heard me say “Attachment is the trap”. I’ve seen you roll your eyes at me and I’ve fielded the questions…
“Aren’t you attached to your husband/daughter?”
“Aren’t you attached to your body?”

This gets into some tedious wordplay and I kind of feel the need all of a sudden to try to put myself to the task of clarifying my position and the way I deal with attachment.

Firstly, of course I love my family. Of course I want to keep my body alive. My brain is hardwired to make sure those things happen. I have very little choice in the matter – and that’s as it should be. Where I do have choice is in how much weight I put on those loves. Will my clinging to my daughter as her child years melt away make anything any better? Clinging to those moments with tears in my eyes only puts bittersweet all over them when they could be full of more pure joy! I want the memory of pure joy to be clear in my mind when I’m 70 and haven’t held a 4 year old foot in my hand for 35 years. That’s why I work so hard to let go of the bittersweet – the fear of losing what is ABSOLUTELY going away right now like sand through my fingers.

I cannot make her tiny and precious forever. The whole point of raising a child is to help them GO AWAY! If you do it right, maybe you get a continued good relationship… but maybe you don’t. Maybe it’s not even your fault. Life is like that. Accepting that possibility of loss at every turn is really hard. No joke, but if you can let go and just enjoy the hell out of your moment RIGHT NOW, I promise you, it feels like all of eternity has just unfolded before your eyes and in your heart.

Every time I feel the fear that I’ll lose a moment, a person, a possession, my health, it feels like time shrinks in on me and chills my soul. I don’t like that feeling. That is as simple as I can possibly make my philosophy I think…

What about godstuff? Well… On my path, I have found it useful to accept that all the godstuff is beyond my feeble brain’s ability to completely suss out. The more I study and learn, the more I realize that the Great Mystery is easier for me if I just kind of try to listen to it without defining it. That doesn’t mean I think that’s the best way of thinking for everybody, but that’s what I do.

So there’s that.
I feel better now.
Onward and upward!
*

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Blushing

When I wake up in the morning and am greeted by a pink sky, I get this funny feeling, like the Universe is blushing with happiness.
As the seasons turn this year, I’m comforted and amazed once again at the predictability of cycles… summer and winter, joy and grief, birth and death. I mourn with my friends who are in a cycle of loss and rejoice with those who are having the fun parts…
Me? I spend a lot of time with both sides of the coin. My family is happy and healthy. We have a place to live that we enjoy. My muse has not yet abandoned me 🙂

But just now, my darling daughter is running to the fridge to get yet another snack… so I’ll leave you with this:

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Onward and upward!
As always, with love
*

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Ferocious Equanimity

I had the most wonderful evening last night. I usually put my work up in cafes and bars and similar places (so that people can enjoy them in their REAL lives) and seldom go for real “gallery” type hangings. I love it when people can eat a meal or something while looking at the work as opposed to just a reception evening.

On the other side of things, though, it’s really nice to see people walk by and talk about pieces. I love to see what they’re drawn to. This piece was one of the more popular ones last night.  As I talked to people about it, I realized that a little explanation of where I was coming from with it would do some good maybe.

Equanimity… I saw several people look up the definition on their phones last night…

Equanimity is about calm; peace of mind.

In this time of political schizophrenia, media insanity, global conflicts, and fear mongering, I am tempted to delve into the deepest reaches of my anger. Oh I have a powerful anger! But what I’ve learned over the years is that I just can’t get mad enough to change anything (except my blood pressure).  The choice that I make with my own mind is to seek the greatest peace that I can and to let even the most horrible things… exist without bothering me.

Balance is important. Of course I’m heartbroken when I see the broken bodies of children and mothers and young men… regardless of whose family they belong to, but my hurt doesn’t heal them. When I try to radiate peace and love and calm, things around me change for the better. Maybe the changes are small, but I can see them. They’re real. My anger doesn’t make positive changes in the world…

So this piece is about the tension between my immense desire to fix all that’s broken and the temptation to be just plain mad about it all. I will be calm with a vengeance! I will be peaceful and loving with as much enthusiasm and dedication as I can muster. That might be all I can really do, but it’s something… and it makes it easier to deal with all I see on the infuriating news channels while I work out at the gym…

So onward and upward, dear friends.

As always

with love

*

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Ferocious Equanimity

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Beware the English Major

One of the most common things people say to me is “at least you get to do what you love”.  I’ve mentioned this before. It sticks in my head… especially when I’m doing something tedious like updating my spreadsheets or putting addresses on packages or carrying paintings to and from the car…

I do love my life, but I think it’s not because I have the right occupation. I made a decision many years ago that I was going to find a way to love my life no matter what it was.

There’s this book, The Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, that I read many years ago. I found a hardback copy in an antique mall of all places, when I was about 16 and read the thing from cover to cover. Being 16, I was filled with all the usual ambition and angst and superfluous passions, and reading such abject miseries made an incredible and indelible impression on me.

One of the ideas I took away from the book was that sometimes life is just patently unfair. Some wonderful people get the most unbelievably difficult paths to walk. It happens over and over and over, assaulting the spirits of the sufferer and the bystander.

So, I think to myself, if all this unfairness is going to happen, what am I going to do about it? I have seen mixed results in the “justice system” and don’t feel like I can really help there. I’ve seen the same mixed results in the “education system” and did my time trying to help there… but even when I work as hard as I possibly can, it’s still like pouring water into a bucket with a giant hole in the bottom. The need is so exceedingly cavernous that my efforts disappear almost instantly into the void.

What is left for me to do? If I can’t save “them”, I guess I’ll have to save myself. For all the deprivation I see, I will try to appreciate what I have all the more. When I see the images of famine and genocide, I will love more. I will make my life worth it… because whether it gets better or worse for me or anyone else, if I live with joy, I’m adding more joy to the universe. If I mourn for those who suffer, I only add more suffering. That’s the best I can come up with…

Ah… the peril that befalls the English Major… A simple conversational utility like “At least you do what you love” becomes some extended, existential meditation. How silly and frivolous!

Here! Have a painting. I hope it gives you a good feeling.

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Come Along

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Things That Feel Like Home

Things are delightfully busy here! In addition to my normal painting regimen, I’m trying to really focus on collaborations this season. For a long time, I’ve painted from others’ photos or writing, but I’ve had the chance to expand that pretty wildly in recent months.  

Of course, the collaboration that’s closest to heart and home is with my dear daughter. She bought the little easel to the left with proceeds from her own print sales. I have to borrow it from her when I go out to paint in public. Fortunately, she’s quite gracious with her loaning policy. I know the shot below is fuzzy, but it’s the best my cameras can do inside this house.  She and I have been painting side by side a little every morning recently and it’s just lovely! “Mommy, can I have some David Bowie?”

“Yes, dear. Yes you can”.ClineandDaughter

Another wonderful, exciting collaboration I’m into these days is with Wendel Werner, a wonderful, gracious, and incredibly talented local musician.  We just finished up our second engagement at The Red Piano on Friday night. It was a blast and we’re definitely going to schedule another evening together!

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Short video clip from the performance (YouTube)

This is the completed piece from that evening.

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Things Happen All At Once

I’ve also been most graciously invited to hang my work on the walls again at The Red Piano for the month of March. These people are really too kind to me!

This is getting long so I’ll leave it here. I have more collaborations and .news to share, but I’ll save some of that for later.

If you missed it yesterday, here’s a link to the spot on me in the Knoxville News Sentinel that ran 2/28/16

Interview in Knoxville News Sentinel

Onward and upward, Dear friends!

As always, with love

*

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