Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


Leave a comment

My 2014 Word of the Year-Transform

Most years I choose a word to guide me through the year. Sometimes the word is a good choice. Sometimes not so much.  The process for choosing a word isn’t terribly scientific.  I’ve used Christine Kane’s approach to chose a word. I chosen from random words that pop in my head.

This year I was guided by a more spiritual-intuitive process from Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts. This was a 12-day mini-retreat which included daily emails that provided a daily practice to help you contemplate potential words. What was different with this process, for me, is that it wasn’t about ME CHOOSING a word. Rather, it was about a word CHOOSING ME.

There is a difference.

When we choose a word, we’re looking and striving for THE word. We want it to be perfect. We obsess. Our little noggins say “this is the word that I want.”

When we allow time for a word to choose us, we, hopefully, let go of ego and let our intuition guide the process. We must let go of expectations (the perfect word) and listen to what stirs internally. Words that excite. Words that make us uncomfortable. Words that call us to grow.

So, for 12 days, I paid attention to words & phrases that appeared frequently in readings. I wrote down words that resonated with me. Words that made me uncomfortable. I made note of synchronicities.

At first, I thought my word would be “possibilities” or “possible” as in “With you all things are possible.” After surviving several losses over the past 18 months, I was feeling that in 2014 anything is possible, both good and not so good.

Then I paid more attention to other words that appeared and resonated with me. And the one word that appeared over and over was transform.

Transform means to change markedly the form or appearance of; to change the nature, function or condition of. It comes from the Old French “transformer” and Latin “transformare.” The prefix trans means “across.” So trans-form would be taking the normal mode of behavior “across” into a whole new form.

The word is quite fitting. During that 18 month period with one loss after the other, I started to question many things, from the meaning of life to the meaning of my work. I turned inward and gradually began working on my spiritual development. I thought more about what really makes me happy in life.

Now that we have started a new year, it truly is a time of new beginnings. It may sound cliche but I think of the caterpillar who cocoons and turns into a butterfly. Much work is being done internally in that cocoon. And when the butterfly emerges a wonderful transformation has occurred.

I feel I am gradually emerging from my cocoon. I have made changes in my business plan for 2014, such as not doing any art shows and closing my ArtFire Online Studio account. I’m looking forward to spending more time on personal & spiritual development. And I’m gradually starting to paint again.

So here is to 2014. A year to transform. A year of transformation.

Hanging Around in Sedona

Hanging Around in Sedona


2 Comments

Swamped By Sentimental Email Clutter

My name is Amy and I have a problem.

I am a collector of sentimental emails and I am swamped by sentimental email clutter.

And you?

This realization hit me yesterday when I looked at the number of emails in my inboxes (yes, I have multiple inboxes.) As I started to whack away at some of the email clutter and moved some things to one of many folders, I asked myself, “Self, are you REALLY EVER going to go back and look for that email?”

For a moment all I heard were crickets. The silence of guilt.

Then I snapped back, “No, probably not, but I MIGHT listen to that audio recording again.”

Yeah, right.

It seems in our digital age, we moved our clutter from the desk top to the, um, desktop, if you know what I mean. Where we used to collect newspaper articles and shove them into scrapbooks or binders, now we’re right or left clicking and moving electronic stuff into folders.

I’ve set up “rules” for certain emails to direct them into specific folders. Then I rarely go back and check that folder and stuff simply accumulates.

I’ve unsubscribed from some newsletters, only to join others in their place.

Buy something, get put on their mailing list, unless you un-check that request. (Tricky aren’t they. You’re automatically signed up unless YOU tell us otherwise.)

Mark an email as “unread” so you can go back and read it later. Only later turns out to be weeks or months, instead of hours or days, because that email has slipped down the queue.

Go on vacation and the email insanity multiplies exponentially it seems.

Where does the madness end?

Seriously. How do you manage your email clutter?


2 Comments

A Year of Mindfulness: Awareness of Anxiety

As the year draws to a close, our final mindfulness practice for 2012 focuses on anxiety.  Curious timing.

Anxiety is defined as a state of uneasiness and distress about future uncertainties; apprehension; worry. Though we move into the new year with hope and a fresh start, it may also be a cause of anxiety. With each new year comes potential change-something we cannot predict or control.

Anxiety is a constant companion for many of us.

How does anxiety show up for you? Does your heart race or your breathing become shallow? Maybe your stomach tightens or your hands tingle.

What patterns or events trigger anxiety for you? Do you become anxious when watching the news? Does it happen when you get to work or school? Perhaps it arrives even earlier, as soon as your alarm clock goes off.

As with our previous mindfulness practice on impatience, the seeds of anxiety are often planted during childhood. Was there any particular event that happened when you were a child that contributes to your anxiety as an adult?

Anxiety is often accompanied by thoughts-negative thoughts, worrisome thoughts, fearful thoughts. These thoughts can give rise to our anxiety as well as escalate our anxiety.

When you become aware of anxiety, counteract it with deep breathing. Become aware the thoughts that trigger your anxiety and flip the thoughts for the positive.

If watching the news causes you anxiety, turn it off. Dial down your exposure to the negative.

This week, become aware of anxiety, what triggers it for you, and how your thoughts influence the anxiety. Take a deep breath when anxiety creeps in. Be truly present and let your worries drop away.

Reflection: This we can all bear witness to, living as we do plagued by unremitting anxiety . It becomes more and more imperative that the life of the spirit be avowed as the only firm basis upon which to establish happiness and peace. -H.H. the Dalai Lama


3 Comments

A Year of Mindfulness: Impatience

This week’s mindfulness practice is indeed timely now that we are in the throes of the holiday season. This week, we are asked to be mindful of impatience.

Impatience is a common experience in our lives. When we sit in traffic, we wait impatiently for it to start moving. When we wait in line at the store, we tell ourselves that we got into the wrong line.

Impatience takes different forms. For some it appears as finger tapping on the table. Or maybe it appears as loud, heavy sighs. For others it may be verbal as a slew of words or phrases are stated under their breath. In myself, I notice I get a little agitated. I may look at my watch or the clock. My stomach sometimes feels knotted.

How does impatience appear for you?

We learn to be impatient. It can come from our parents who may have shown their impatience with us or others. It can come as we sit in class with a teacher that we find boring. People who are impatient may interrupt another person as they speak, finishing that person’s statement because they can’t wait for that person to finish.

Impatience is our mind’s way of moving things into the future. Of trying to make things go faster.

In Buddhism, impatience is one of the three “poisons.” (The other two are clinging and delusion.) Together, the three “poisons” contribute to suffering, making us mentally & physically ill.

Impatience is a form of aversion. It represents our desire to get rid of something. Impatience is also a form of anger. And hidden under anger is fear.

When you feel the pull of impatience, ask yourself “Why am I in a rush to get X over with?” If your answer is to “get onto the next thing,” ask yourself then what? Are you simply rushing through tasks and, perhaps, rushing through life?

Ask if there is fear underlying the impatience. If so, what is that fear? Fear of not having enough time?

This week, become mindful of impatience. Notice the feelings that arise during moments of impatience. When those feelings arise, take a deep breath and bring your awareness to the present moment.

Reflection: Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success. -Brian Adams


2 Comments

A Year of Mindfulness: Be On Time

Good Monday dear readers. Here in the states we are preparing for the Thanksgiving Holiday this week. A time for gathering with family or friends, giving thanks for all that is abundant in our lives, sharing good food, and enjoying some football games.

It is rather ironic that this week’s mindfulness practice focuses on time-being on time. Thanksgiving Day can be a day of rushing around, driving to our destinations and scarfing down too much food. Heck, just the run up to the big feast day can be fraught with anxiety as we gather ingredients for recipes, wine or beer for the celebration, and coordinating all the activities.

But what if we practiced being on time this week? What if we were mindful of not only our time but others time as well?

Here are some things to consider with this practice:

  • What does “being on time” mean to you?
  • What arises in your mind when you are late?
  • What arises in your mind when other people are late?

We all know people who are always on time for events or arrive before an event starts. And we all know people who are “perpetually late” for everything. Some people prefer being on time and grow irritated with those who arrive late. Some people arrive late because they don’t like to wait for an event to begin or they feel awkward if they are the first person to arrive for a meeting or party.

Though this week’s practice relates to time, it is also about mind-states and habitual patterns. What Dr. Bays’ refers to as the “constructed self.” If we think highly of ourselves, we may begin to think that our time is worth more than other people’s time. So we’re the last to arrive because “we have so many important things to do” and don’t want to waste our time sitting around and chatting.

Or maybe we’re terribly shy. We arrive late so we don’t have to look people in the eye, find a place to sit, and initiate conversation.

And then there is the favorite response “there is never enough time” or “I need more time.” Well, how much time would be enough? How much time would be too much?

When it comes to time, we divide our life into chunks-chunks called time. Time of the future, time of the past.

What about-you know what I’m going to say-the present moment?

When we are not thinking and are simply aware, the present moment is all that there is. Time becomes irrelevant. When we live in more awareness than in thinking, time seems to adjust so that there is exactly enough time for each thing to be accomplished.

This week, practice being on time. Practice being in the present moment-for the present moment is all that there is.

Reflection: In the present moment, there is always plenty of time. -Unknown

And, of course-I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye. I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. -The White Rabbit


1 Comment

A Year of Mindfulness: Entering New Spaces

First deep breath.

Second deep breath.

Third deep breath.

Ah.

Now how did you do with last week’s mindfulness practice to take three breaths? This is one of my favorite mindfulness practices. We all need to breathe and taking three breaths is a wonderful way to put a little space between you and any stress you may encounter. I find it particularly useful when sitting in traffic or dealing with drivers in parking lots. Taking a breath brings you back to your center. It helps you to re-focus. It keeps you in the present moment.

This Week’s Practice: Entering New Spaces

Now here is a good challenge for you. This week’s mindfulness practice is about entering new spaces. This practice is all about bringing an awareness to any transition between spaces. Dr. Bays refers to this practice as “mindfulness of doors.”

What does that mean?

It means that as you enter a new space, pause, take one breath, and then proceed. Remember, the theme with mindfulness is to become aware of our surroundings. In this case, think of what you normally do when you leave one room and enter another room. Most likely you just walk across the threshold without any consideration for the space you just left or for the space you are entering. When a door separates the two spaces, we usually just let the door slam behind us or perhaps we don’t close the door at all.

This week, do your best to pause between those transitions when traveling from room to room. If you tend to slam doors, work on gently closing the door. If you tend to leave the door open, become more mindful about closing the door. If you stumble through the doorway, become more mindful of your steps.

Reflection: The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live. -Flora Whittemore

For the wise man looks into space and he knows there is no limited dimensions. -Lao Tzu


3 Comments

2011 Word of the Year Review: Thoughts on Being Big

Last year I chose the word “Big” to guide me through 2011. You can read how I chose that particular word here.

I had to re-read the post as a reminder of what lead me to choose the word. Ironically, I didn’t mention the one thing that I thought was the driving force behind this word choice. That would’ve been developing my business plan in 2010 and diving into teaching polymer clay mixed media workshops. I remember having grand thoughts of teaching several workshops in 2011.

The Year Begins

January 2011 was a BIG month in terms of events that marketed my art. I get where my head was at back then. I was also embarking on a new series of artwork that was manifested by my health issues. I did have BIG ideas.

So did Mother Nature. Winter in Massachusetts was BIG in 2011. So big that it took a toll on our roof which led to ice dams, leaking, and water damage. That meant moving in and out of my studio several times throughout the year because of damage and then repairs. These were BIG challenges I had not envisioned. I had to cancel my spring workshop given the state of the studio.

I progressed on my new series of artwork, Glimmer of Hope for a little while (here, here, and here.) Then I think I got too close to the work. Using a health issue to create art is nothing new. However, it can also bring up lots of dirt and emotions. The deeper I went, the less I wanted to see. So I stopped creating these sculptural pieces.

At the end of March I had surgery. Another BIG event that corrected the BIG problem. I left behind the sculptural pieces and started experimenting with encaustic medium and creating abstract pieces like this. Two BIG changes here for me to work with a new medium and play with shapes.

The next couple of months I flopped around. Not a lot of blogging. Still experimenting with art.

A Mid-Year Wake Up

With June fast approaching and a trip to La Cascade in France on the horizon, I decided, with some encouragement, to commit to a new series of artwork that would be inspired by our trip.

Before we even left the country I notified my customers and collectors of my plans to create this new series. I had no idea how many pieces would be made or what exactly the pieces would look like. I only knew I was going to make a new series using ATC encaustic boards as my substrate.

Now this was being BIG. When we returned I chose the date for my open studio where I would debut the new series. Then I worked backwards determining how many pieces I would make and how many pieces I could create per week, when I had to send out postcards and e-newsletters with updates on my progress. This was an entirely new experience for me.

On September 25, I debuted Snapshots & Memories from Languedoc-Roussillon. The series had 15 pieces in it; 3 of which have since sold. You can see the entire series in this video on my YouTube Channel.

I finally felt like I was having the BIG year I originally envisioned.

More Big-ness

Coming off the success of the Languedoc-Roussillon series, I decided to return to sculpting and created my next series of artwork called Ornimals: Animal sculpted ornaments that capture the humor & joy of life expressed by our pets.

With this series I made an active decision to focus only on animals. This was a BIG challenge for me because my artwork has been a bit scattershot over the past couple of years. However the focus on one topic, animals, has paid off. The Ornimals made their debut at a holiday art/craft show in October. By the end of the holiday show season, I had sold 23 Ornimals.

When I decided to create the Ornimals, I also decided to donate a portion of my total sales to Baypath Humane Society of Hopkinton. At the end of December I made that donation in the amount of $65.00. It was a great feeling.

In writing these words, I see the year was, indeed, a BIG year on many fronts. Perhaps it wasn’t the BIG I intended, however, it still turned out fine. I survived challenges that were out of my control. And I survived the challenges that I gave myself. I’ve also realized that although I choose a word to guide me each year, I don’t always stop to think about the word throughout the year. After the way 2011 started, I’d pretty much given up on having a BIG year. What I didn’t really consider is that the intention of the word can change. So I didn’t have a trumpets blaring and confetti falling BIG kind of year. But I did have a glittery, hand clapping BIG kind of year.

And I’m fine with that.


6 Comments

Dr. Funk Meet Mr. Wall

Green Puffer Fish Ornimal, Amy A Crawley, 2011, Sold

Ever since the Artspace show wrapped up, I’ve been in a bit of a funk. The show was a huge success; best show I’ve done in a couple of years. Attendance appeared to be up. The Ornimals sold well. The functional art sold well. I added new people to my customer contact list. I came home tired from a job well done.

Riding the High

I was excited when I came home. The doom and gloom of the past year, in terms of the economy, seemed to be a distant memory. I even received a few last minute orders for more Ornimals. And then I sat.

I know from past experience that it can take me a couple of days to get back into the swing of things. It’s that time when you’re coming down from one event and preparing for the next event. Dr. Anne Paris, author of Standing at Water’s Edge refers to this period as “moving out of immersion.” Moving in and out of immersive states is a normal part of creation.

Yet that didn’t help me from feeling overwhelmed with filling the last few orders before the holidays. And then there were the other things on my to-do list that also needed to be addressed. Those things that I’d put off while getting ready for the ArtSpace show. And there were appointments that I’d made too.

I’d look at my to-do list, look at the clock, try to get myself out of my chair, and succumb to the computer instead. Funk had met the wall.

Resolution

Now this time wasn’t completely unproductive. Because of the success of the Ornimals, I started investigating new display options. I made notes about target markets & how to better market the Ornimals in 2012. And I did catch up on a couple things that I put on the back-burner in the run-up to the show.

But in my head, especially at night, I’d berate myself for not putting my hands back into the clay. The negative voice loomed large in my head. I questioned everything I was doing whether it was related to art, business or not. I felt like I’d run smack into a wall. Everything on my list seemed “too big” to accomplish and I was only destined to fail.

On Monday I decided to take a walk. It wasn’t exceptionally long (that is becoming a little less desirable as the temperature gets colder.) But it was enough to clear my head and improve my attitude.

It only took me a week to get there.

I spent this entire week working on the special orders. Two were shipped out today. I hope to have the last piece in a final order completed next week. I need to keep riding this wave of momentum and do the work. Resistance is futile.

Then it will be Christmas and New Years. Time for a welcome break…before it all starts up again.


Leave a comment

Monday Reflection: Listen to the Words

Learning itself is an art.

When we listen with a still and concentrated mind,
it’s possible to actually be responsive to what the words are saying.
Sometimes deep insights come in a flash, unexpectedly.

-Joseph Goldstein


2 Comments

Art Studio Makeover: Part Two

In my last studio makeover post, I gave you a peek at the studio before and after the new paint was put on the walls. Since then I’ve been moving more items back into the studio. I’m very visual and though I sketched out a very rough layout, I really needed to get my hands on the tables, chairs, and other items in order to rearrange them.

Here is the new layout for my work area. I’m going with a large horseshoe layout. All of my clay and the tools that I use most often are closest to my primary work table. The other tables will hold encaustic supplies and mixed media painting supplies. My small sewing machine might also make an appearance.

Back Wall Work Area

Side Table for Clay Supplies

We spun my desk around so it faces one of the studio windows. That one small change makes the room feel even more open. The other day, as I sat at my computer, I was delighted to see a heron fly over head.

Center of Studio

The blue curtains are temporary. I’m thinking of switching to white curtains and tiebacks. I love how the studio looks in the sunshine. However, I need to close the curtains for an hour or two because the afternoon sun is very intense.

The large bookcase has been moved back to its usual spot on the front facing wall.

Front Facing Wall

I’m going to try out my armchair in this front corner. It feels kind of cozy near the window.

Reading Lounge

This is the sink room, also known as the “slop room.” This room is for baking and finishing clay, and photographing finished artwork.

Oven, sink, cabinets

Finishing Countertop

The completion of this post was delayed by a few days due to my schedule. Since I started writing this Part 2 entry, I’ve returned the storage shelves to the rear window seat, added a couple more items to the sink room, and expanded the “reading lounge.” I’ll share those updates in Part Three of this series.

I’ve also been enjoying reading about Monica Moses’ studio makeover adventures. She won a studio makeover contest. How cool is that? You can follow along here: Part 1 and Part 2

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 333 other followers