Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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A New Body of Work: The Glimmer Series

When I was confronted with my health issues late last year, I made a conscious decision to slow down. I also decided to use my artwork as a form of healing. More specifically, I am using my health situation as a muse for my artwork.

I introduced this challenge last week in this video.

Recent events have caused me to relocate my studio and my creative muse has laid quietly while I deal with more doctor’s visits and tests. However, before all this happened, I started documenting my process in the creation of the Glimmer Series.

The Glimmer Series is inspired by this particular picture:

This image is a self portrait that I created in early December in response to receiving the first bit of news that potentially explained what was happening to my body. It was ” A Glimmer of Hope.”

I began this series by sketching some ideas for Spirit Messengers, including faces and bodies. I envisioned different shapes. Some Spirit Messengers are free standing; others want to hang on the wall. Then I sculpted three heads:

Glimmer Heads Pre-Oven

I prefer to use Super Sculpey over aluminum foil. I’ve learned that this keeps the heads from cracking which is especially important when you work on a larger scale. I knew at least one Glimmer Spirit Messenger would have a solemn face. Instead of searching for faces online for inspiration, I decided to take pictures of myself with different facial expressions. Afterall, this series comes from my emotions, so why not use myself, my expressions, as a model?

I was pleasantly surprised how my very first solemn face sculpture turned out.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to recreate another face like this again. But that is also why these are one of a kind pieces.

Another face has puckered lips. A face of concentration or frustration or relief. I’m not quite sure which one.

The last face has a wry smile (and a bit of a bulbous head; oh dear.)

Along with the Spirit Messengers, I plan to create mixed media wall art as part of this series. I’d also like to use fabric and perhaps boxes or other forms for the bodies. My goal is to create 6-8 pieces. I’ve completed two Spirit Messengers so far and will introduce them to you in the next few days.


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The Itinerant Artist

Life is up to her old tricks these days, throwing some curve balls into our rather steady day to day activities. I’ve posted several pictures of all the snow we’ve had recently (here and here.)  Last week after back to back storms, the snow and ice took its toll on our house and the ice dams went into overdrive.

As we scurried to stop leaks in two rooms, it was decided that I had to drop the temperature in the studio to 55 degrees in order to keep the top of the house as cool as possible. (Guess that means my studio on its own just wasn’t “cool” enough.) It also meant setting up fans in my studio and a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the ice dams that had seeped into the carpet.

After a couple of days of clearing snow and ice and putting ice melt socks on the roof (which fell off anyways), I decided that I was going to have to relocate my studio for the near future. The process of returning the studio to its normal state is going to take some time and I, sadly, cannot work there in its current condition.

My first reaction to this was similar to this picture I made in Photoshop:

Caught

A friend told me it looked like a cover for a “screamo” band. Well, if I can’t make my art in my studio, perhaps I have an alternate career as a screamo band face model.

Moving out of my studio has not been easy. The studio is my sanctuary. It has an energy all its own and in there I can lose myself. Now I was faced with deciding what to bring to my new location. Not an easy task when you’re used to having all your art supplies right at your fingertips.

After a bit of avoidance, I relocated to our dining room. Eric helped me set up a small table and my work chair. I decided not to bring down all my polymer clay. Instead, I’ll bring down what I need as I work on each project. That alone will be an interesting challenge. I also brought down my sketchbooks, paintbrush carousel, my sculpting tools, some pastels, and a few other tools. My laptop and a few business items round out my new temporary space.

And here it is:

New Workspace

The "Office"

Pippin my Supervisor

The cats are enjoying my new set up. They like to jump on the dining room table and peer at me over the edge of my laptop. Woody has also enjoyed playing on the rug under the work table. I admit there are advantages to this new location. It is closer to the bathroom and the kitchen!

As I write this, the leaks have stopped and the carpet in the studio is almost dry. Of course another project remains and that is repair and repainting. I’m not sure when I will move back into my studio.

Health Update

The stress of the ice dams, leaks, and moving my studio has been compounded by my continuing health issues. Plan A, which included a trial on a pill to reset my hormones, has not worked as hoped. Today I had a pelvic MRI, with and without contrast. A pelvic MRI will give an even better look at the fibroids and their location, how many I may really have, and the blood source. Based on the results of the MRI, I am looking at two options, one more favorable than the other. Both of which would bring resolution to the problem.

The MRI itself wasn’t too bad. My first MRI was in 2009 for my back. That was in an older machine and I had to go in head first. For this test, I went to a different location and went into the tube feet first. They placed a foam like grid over my belly/pelvic area. Because I was also having this test done with contrast, an IV was placed in my left arm. When the first procedure was complete, they rolled me out of the MRI tube, hooked up the contrast, I raised my arms over my head, and back in I went. That was the shorter of the two procedures.

I should get the results on Monday and things could move rather quickly after that. I’m making peace with this situation, with my options, and what may lie ahead. It is not easy to give up control over your body and harder still to lay the burden at the hands or feet of something larger than us. I know I am on the road to a solution. Soon a plan will be in place.


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When Life Tells You To Slow Down

Note: This post has been through several iterations since I started writing it last month. I alluded to my health issues in an earlier post reflecting on my 2010 word of the year. This post goes a little more in depth on how those weeks of uncertainty called me to slow down and think about the direction I want to take in life. Be forewarned that this post may contain too much information.

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It all started in November and got crazier the weekend of Thanksgiving.

Let me preface that by saying I’m a 47 year old female. I know changes lurk around the corner. You know, that time our mother’s referred to as “the change” or “the change of life.” Growing up, that phrase was sometimes followed by stories of women growing facial hair, going “nuts” and essentially turning into something that resembled Fiona Ogre in the “Shrek” movies.

I certainly hope time and attitudes have changed.

As I said, I’m 47 and moving toward menopause. I believe I’ve been experiencing subtle symptoms of perimenopause for the past few years. Some sources report that a woman can begin experiencing these changes up to 10 years before the actual onset of menopause. No wonder many women hate their 40′s. Personally, I’ve loved being in my 40′s. It has felt like the right age for me. Unfortunately, on the health front, it is in our 40′s when our bodies pay us back for the abuse we may have given it in our 20′s and 30′s, whether you’re a woman or a man.

I have herniated discs, bouts with GERD, creaking knees, and tinnitus. All manageable issues that do their best, at times, to make me feel, ahem “middle aged.”

And then there is the perimenopause.

Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with a fibroid. Fibroids are very common in women in our western culture. There is no definitive cause for fibroids. It could be estrogen overload, it could be hereditary. One statistic I read stated that up to 75% of women have fibroids. For many women, the fibroid(s) never act up or pose any problem.

And then there are the rest of us. We must be the special chosen-ones.

Everything has been manageable these last few years. My doctor and I have taken a conservative “watch and wait” approach. Then in November things got a little out of control.

There was the biopsy to rule out uterine cancer, the ultrasound to see what was going on inside, and the two sets of blood work. (Make that four blood tests throughout the month of December.)

One blood test indicated I was hypothyroid, a common diagnosis for women in perimenopause. The next blood test said my thyroid was normal but that I was anemic. By the end of the week I’d learned that the biopsy was negative (Yea!) and the ultrasound showed more fibroids.

Now the picture was getting clearer. My hormones had apparently kicked my butt, dragged me down, and shook me up.

Lucky me.

So, why would I share with you something that is rather personal? Because I believe when our bodies put us through the wringer, it is a signal that we need to slow down and regroup. You may not agree with me and I respect that. But for me, I know my body and it was definitely screaming at me.

I also share this because women often suffer in silence during this phase of life. Sure we joke with our girlfriends and cry on our sister’s shoulders. But inside many women are afraid, unsure of what is happening to their bodies. Society, and perhaps core beliefs learned when we were kids, has told us that women are to be svelte, in control, forever youthful with porcelain skin and nary a gray hair in sight. Just look at some of the “Women’s Health” magazines. We take care of others until we drop.

Menopause means we’re getting old. Things start sagging and bagging. The kids leave home. We find ourselves facing a change of roles in our life. Who are we? What do we want to do with our new self?

During these last few weeks, I found myself slowing down, not only because I felt like crap, but also because my body was telling me to do so. I returned to daily meditation and daily reading of personally uplifting passages. My dreams became more vivid and I started to analyze their personal meaning. I had my first Reiki treatment. I released myself from all structure in my schedule.

Instead of blocking out time to get this or that task done, I wrote a one page to-do list. Whatever got done, got done. If I was tired, I took a nap. If I wanted to read, I read. If I wanted to watch TV, I watched it. I wrote in my journal almost every day, sometimes three times a day. I started exercising again, even if for only 15 minutes.

And I spent a fair amount of time thinking about my business. What is important and what isn’t. What I can let go of in order to create that which is most meaningful for me.

All of this has left me feeling empowered. My health is improving, a solution has been found, and a new plan put in place for moving me forward. I feel a burden lifting and a new door opening.

This time has not been easy. I’ve had more anxiety and stress than normal. Sometimes it feels like two steps forward and 10 steps back. I keep reminding myself that I am well, that I will be well, and that all will be well.

Writing this is cathartic. I admit to having prided myself on my health; that I wasn’t experiencing this or that problem. The risk in that attitude is the shock and fear that comes when life deals you a bum card. Granted my situation is not as bad as what some other women go through. However, when you think all is “normal” and then trip on the rug, it does make you stop and re-evaluate. Writing this is also part of my process of acceptance. Acceptance of this situation. Acceptance of the challenge. Acceptance of a new road ahead.

I jokingly refer to these last few weeks as my “power surge.” You know, there seems to be a double meaning in that phrase now that I think about it. As a result of this situation, I have started to release myself from certain commitments. In turn, new opportunities are already presenting themselves to me. I am moving forward into the power that this change in life is bringing me. I slowed down and I listened.

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During this time, I found the following resources to be of great value:

A GYN’s Second Opinion

Brigham & Women’s Hospital: Obstetrics & Gynecology

BWH: Center for Uterine Fibroids

Advanced Gynecological Solutions

As always, talk to your doctor. Write down your questions and write down what the doctor tells you. Don’t be afraid to get a second or third opinion. This is your body. You need to be at peace with any decision you make.

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