Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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A Year of Mindfulness-Notice Dislike

How did you do last week with becoming aware of the ground beneath you? Did you practice grounding yourself to the earth?

In the past two years my awareness of the ground beneath me has become greater because it is part of my walking practice. When my sciatic nerve problem flared up a while ago, I worked with a physical therapist who assessed my walking as part of a comprehensive evaluation. One area that I had to work on was walking. Walking with my weight on the big toe side of my foot. Not the baby toe side of my foot which had been my “normal” for, well, my whole life.

This simple act of grounding my feet, literally feeling the ground beneath me as I walked, improved my awareness of the ground and also the strength in my quads. It caused me to be more balanced when I walked. I guess you could say grounding myself to the earth, literally and figuratively, improved my back pain.

This Week’s Practice: Notice Dislike

This week’s practice asks us to become aware of dislike. Not just the big emotions, like anger or hatred, but the minor emotions as well, such as irritation. Another timely practice given our current election cycle and world situation.

When we do this practice, it is common to realize that aversion or dislike is much more frequent in our emotional landscape than we may have originally thought. You may find that you start your day with dislike when the alarm goes off in the morning. You get out of bed and your back is stiff. You have to wait in line at Dunkin Donuts. You harrumph at the morning news (my favorite.)

It is important that we become aware of dislike or aversion because this is the hidden source of anger and aggression. It arises from the thought that if we could manage to get rid of something or someone, then we’d be happy.

Think about it. If you could arrange things just as you want them, so that you’d be happy, this perfection would only last a few seconds because our “perfect” is not “perfect” to anyone else. Forcing perfection on the world is bound to fail because of impermanence. Nothing lasts forever.

This week, become aware of dislike and aversion. Learn to counteract it with appreciation of things as they are. Find the positive in the negative.

Reflection: Anger does not cease through anger, but through love alone. -Buddha


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A Year of Mindfulness-Awareness of Smells

Well, here we are at the end of July. Time is moving quicker it seems. I’m already seeing sweaters and boots in stores and school supplies as well. One benefit of practicing mindfulness is cherishing time as it is now. Not rushing headlong into an unknown future. Not pining for time long past. Just focusing on what is happening in the present moment.

Last week we were asked to become aware of those times when we define and defend our selves. I mentioned the relevance of this practice because I’ve been working on branding in my business. It also brought to mind the question we’re often asked at gatherings: “What do you do?”

How do you typically answer that question?

The best response I heard to that question was “Do about what?”

This Week’s Practice:

This week we’re asked to become aware of the smells around us. Sounds interesting doesn’t it? If you work or live in the city, you might be quite aware of certain smells like diesel fuel or trash. But what about more subtle smells?

In rural areas it is quite common, especially in the spring, to catch a whiff of manure being laid on fields. But do you notice the scent of wet grass?

And how about emotions that are triggered by certain smells? Does a particular perfume remind you of your aunt and the big hug she’d give you? Or perhaps the smell of oatmeal cookies brings back fond memories of your grandmother.

Odors can have a powerful effect on our mental-emotional state and our behavior. Smells can effect how we react to someone or some thing. In an instant, an odor reaches our nose, a perception is formed, and a reaction is triggered.

This week become aware of smells. The good and the not so pleasant. Breathe deep the odors around you, from the freshly fallen rain to the clean laundry.

Reflection: As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round. -Ben Hogan

Bonus: I was thrilled last week to hear from Wendy, one of my readers and a mindfulness practitioner. Wendy shared a project she started to help remind her of each week’s mindfulness practice. For each practice, Wendy makes a small polymer clay tile. Each tile has an image on it that reminds Wendy of each weekly practice. When Wendy finishes Dr. Bays book (on which each weekly practice here is based), she intends to gather all the tiles together and create a mosaic wall piece. How cool is that? You can see Wendy’s tiles on her Flickr page

And be sure to check out her website & blog, After the Monsoon


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A Wednesday Full of Woody

My deepest heartfelt thanks to everyone who left a comment on my post Preparing to say Goodbye. I appreciate your kinds words and compassion. My friend passed away peacefully on Friday. It was an honor to know her and to have been a participant in her life.

Mr. Woody is recovering and is progressing in the right direction. A change in antibiotics for an underlying infection seems to be working, along with sub-q fluids to keep him hydrated. He must be feeling a bit better because he has carried his toy mouse from one floor to the other and back again.

And I’m back working in the studio making art and working on the business side of my art. A return to some form of normalcy.

I hope to get back to some regular schedule of blogging in the near future as well. Until then, enjoy these pictures of Woody taken over the past few weeks. (Click on a picture to enlarge and to scroll through each image.)

What can I say. The cats are my kids. Spoiled and they know it :-)


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Preparing to Say Goodbye

The spirit of death weighs heavy on me this week. A friend who has been battling cancer for nearly 3 years has entered hospice in preparation for her final days. At home our dear, sweet oldest cat also appears to be preparing us for his last days. I am heartbroken. We knew these times would come. Someday. Yet all the mental preparation in the world really doesn’t prepare you.

Run

I want to run. I want to run hard, fast, and away from the pain that grips my heart. I feel it ache and tears well-up in my eyes. I want to scream and push the pain aside. I want to tell death to F.O.¬† And then I find a moment of calm. My heart relaxes and relief washes over me. I don’t like this roller coaster. I want to busy myself with something else. I cannot. I must embrace my fear.

Time is Precious

I look back on the days when I would visit my friend. A group was formed after she returned home from surgery. We would take turns visiting, providing food, conversation, helping around the house. Whatever we could do to be of service. It was a bit hard at first. What will I say? What will we talk about? There were good days and not so good days. Months of good health in spite of the situation. Laughter, jokes, walks, and ice cream. Sharing of art. Sharing of spirituality. On the days when I really didn’t feel like going, I was glad I did.

At home, I find myself missing Woody cat, even though he is just one floor below me curled up on our bed. He has fought kidney and thyroid disease for more than a year, but less than two. So many blood tests & pills to give. Through it all he has been our Zen kitty. So tolerant. So accepting. I wonder how I would’ve put up with all he’s gone through. Changes in his health were mostly gradual. And then one day you notice something isn’t right. This latest change happened over last weekend. It is the one I’ve dreaded.

Preparing

How does one prepare to say goodbye? I honestly do not know. This isn’t like “goodbye, I’ll see you later.” This is the final goodbye. I know you won’t be coming back. You tell yourself you’ll be alright. That this is the circle of life. Then you tell yourself that is a bunch of BS. The pain grows stronger inside. The grief. It swells and then I burst.

I’ve spent most days this week in silence. No music. Some TV. Meals are quiet with some conversation. A pall hangs over us. This has been a pretty sucky week. Sometimes it hurts to be a heart-centered person. I know my heart center is large and it absorbs much of the pain and sorrow around me. That is why my heart breaks so easily. I feel it down into my hands and all around my chest.

I wake each morning and thank the Universe for another day. I thank the Universe for bringing my friend and my pet through the night. I spend time thinking of good memories and the joy these two beings brought into my life.

I don’t know if I’m truly prepared for what comes next. I only hope that when it comes, I can let it wash over me. Welcome it. Then let it go.

Woody


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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.


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Monday Reflection: The Paradox of Our Age

We have bigger houses but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time;
We have more degrees, but less sense;
more knowledge, but less judgement;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicines, but less healthiness;

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble crossing the street to meet
our new neighbor.

We built more computers to hold more information
to produce more copies than ever,
but have less communication;
We have become long on quantity,
but short on quality.

These are times of fast foods
but slow digestion;
Tall man but short character;
Steep profits but shallow relationships.

It’s a time when there is much in the window,
but nothing in the room.

-H.H. The XIV Dalai Lama

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