Sunday, May 16, 2021

Things Are Working Out!

It is amazing that despite various obstacles and challenges, things are working out! I am making accommodations to improve my situation, for example ditching the shoulder bag and buying a purse with arm handles. I have been researching sewing ergonomics and bought a lap desk with an attached pillow underneath to elevate handwork. I stopped all rotary cutting,  machine sewing, machine quilting and knitting activities and that has really helped. I am staying off the android phone, iPad, and PC as much as possible and eliminating any other activity that aggravates the problem. I also bought a new mattress and box spring to replace the old set - what an incredible difference!

I am paying attention to posture and how I am living in my body. I am doing my physical therapy exercises on the days I don't have PT. I am getting outside in the fresh air and getting some exercise, instead of laying on the couch worrying. I made it to the white fence for a 1 mile round trip and eventually I will make it to the wooden bridge for a 2 mile round trip.

I am way behind in my online art classes for Wanderlust 2021 and Life Documented 2021, over 2 months behind. That was getting me really discouraged. So I decided to try making some experimental pieces without caring about the outcome. I created a couple of pieces on 9 inch squares using pastels for background, pencil for initial drawing, Uniball Signo black pen, and Tombow markers. The second piece I tried stitching around the circle with DMC embroidery thread. I found my paper piercer from scrapbooking days and made evenly spaced holes all around the circle before sewing. This was so much fun and I intend to do more sewing on paper.

I have been flinging paint around in the studio, and I made a time lapse art journal page with simple marks using Posca paint pens and punchinella (sequin waste). I also created some quick backgrounds with W&N Galeria acrylic paint colors and a sponge. I am thinking about what to do with these painted sheets and I might turn them into some sort of inspiration cards with quotes or positive sayings. I am getting all sorts of ideas for new creative things to try. Initially I was obsessing about not being able to make quilts and stuck on that. Now I am focusing on learning new creative techniques and getting out of a self imposed rut. This is a good time to shake things up!

And I am having so much fun in the kitchen! I have to admit I don't ever remember having this much fun cooking. I am working through a new cookbook obtained recently, The Bottom of the Pot, Persian Recipes and Stories, by Naz Deravian. The foods are so incredibly delicious and the immigration stories are heartwarming. I needed to buy a few specialty items and a lot of new spices, but it was worth it. The new foods and flavors are so exciting, filling my condo with wonderful aromas that linger and delight the senses. This cooking adventure is bringing me out of a cooking rut that I have been in for years. I am so grateful!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Comfort from Mary by the Sea

I have been so overwhelmed lately and decided to seek comfort from St. Mary by the Sea this morning. I took back roads to get there, as my driving is not very good right now, and it was a long but lovely drive. When I got there the sun had come out, and there was nobody walking the grounds, so I had the whole place to myself.

Seeing Mary opened up a portal for me. I have so many things wrong with me right now and new things keep coming up, so I am getting scared. How can one person have so many different health problems at the same time? Being on consecrated ground at Mercy by the Sea (here) and talking with Mary made me feel better. She told me that everything is going to work out with my health problems and I should try to have faith and trust. These are not easy things for me. But after spending some time in contemplation and prayer, I went away feeling a renewed sense of peace and hope. Here are some photos from this morning in remembrance of my time with Mary by the Sea at this special place.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Mindfulness Then and Now

I have been thinking about what mindfulness means to  me then and now. Yesterday I attended a morning Zoom mindfulness workshop with Jerry Silbert, M.D. at Mercy by the Sea, located here. Jerry has been facilitating workshops and retreats for more than 25 years and this has been an ongoing monthly offering at Mercy by the Sea. I always come away from these events feeling peaceful, calm, and with renewed energy.

Three years ago, in September 2018, I attended a weekend mindfulness retreat with Jerry Silbert, M.D. at Mercy by the Sea. I came to this not knowing what mindfulness was but realizing something needed to change in my life. A group of people from many different walks of life came together that weekend and we became a community for that short time. It was an incredible experience.

We carry every experience with us, both good and bad, as we make our way through life. It is not where we have been or what we have done or what has happened to us that matters, it is what we choose to do with those experiences to shape our life going forward. We can follow the light or we can follow the darkness and it is up to us to decide where to go in life.

I have always tried to follow the light. That is not necessarily the easiest path in a world where we are encouraged to fit in and follow the crowd. People will try to influence you to do things their way and ignore the inner longings in your heart. But if you don't follow the dreams that are inside of you and follow others instead, you are leading an empty life. Mindfulness is a practice that brings you back to your center, giving you clarity and self awareness, and a path of your own to follow.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Art Journaling Wheel

Wheel is an art journaling page I created a few years ago. I don't remember if it was inspired by a class or a prompt or if it was spontaneous art journaling. It was done with watercolors and Tombow dual brush pen markers and I used a compass and protractor to draw the two large circular shapes, and a circles template to draw the smaller circles.

The spokes on the wheel list the qualities that are important to me and are guiding words that I live by.

















Tuesday, April 6, 2021

April Blog Along with Effy: Day 6 Flowers

My theme for today is flowers. We don't have many spring flowers blooming yet, but they are slowly coming out and brightening up the landscape. I am taking the year long mixed media class Wanderlust 2021 this year, located here. As often happens, I am way behind in the class but I am really enjoying the artwork I have created so far. There is not really any getting behind as everyone goes at their own pace. Most classes have lifetime access these days or they might allow you to download the videos before the year ends. I have several year's of Book of Days classes with Effy Wild located here that I need to work on, and all my courses are saved in a wonderful platform that is easy to access with my dashboard. 

This flower collage from week 2 with Laly Mille was so much fun to make. I am working in a Strathmore 140 lb. watercolor art journal. It is a bound journal  with 24 sheets/ 48 pages and I like it very much. Usually I hand bind a journal with 140 lb. watercolor paper for Book of Days and Effy has excellent instructions for this in the classroom, but I decided to try something different for this class.

It is warming up today and I am going to bring my ideas sketchbook outside, find a  comfy place to sit, and see what design ideas I can come up with for quilts that can be sewn by hand and don't need the use of a sewing machine and rotary cutting tools. It is nice to hear the birds singing and see the buds on the trees getting ready to leaf out in May.

Monday, April 5, 2021

April Blog Along with Effy: Day 5 Circle

 I signed up for a number of online art classes in 2020, a few paid classes and many free ones. I did not feel any great need to finish any of these classes and dipped in and out of the offerings with no particular plan. I tried to follow the directions in the classes, but I am not really that type of person. This piece was started while I was working on the lessons in Flora Bowley's Fresh Paint course, available here. It really has nothing to do with the class content, except we were encouraged to try a lot of different things.

What I found was that I love to draw, something I used to do that has laid dormant in me for many years. And I have always loved circles and mandalas. Since this groundbreaking piece came out from inside of me last year, I have been embedding artwork inside of circles. A circle is geometry, which represents my early roots as a theoretical mathematician. A circle is a complete shape with no beginning and no end. A circle represents many things including completion, unity, balance.

In 2021 one of the themes I am exploring is trees. This piece was made using a helix angle and circle maker from Blick Art Materials and a tree stencil from Stencil Girl Products. Both pieces were drawn and redrawn in pencil until I was happy with the design, then I went over the pencil lines with a black pen (Signo Uniball, Pitt, or other permanent pen) and after that I colored the drawing with Tombow dual brush pen markers. I love these markers! They are water-based and not permanent so they need to be the last step. I am allergic to alcohol based markers and can't use those... my health comes first.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

April Blog Along with Effy: Day 4 Timeless

Nature and particularly the oceans are timeless, with the ebb and flow of the seas resonating with me. God and spirituality are timeless. There are many religions in the world and everyone should have the right to practice the religion of their choice, or no religion, whatever aligns with their personal beliefs. Today is Easter Sunday and I attended the live stream Easter Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, America's parish, located here.

I have attended both day and weekend retreats at Mercy by the Sea located here over the past 3 years, something I was gradually drawn to as a way to find discernment in my life. I have made several decisions about my path and the direction I was going while on retreat here. In February 2020, just a few weeks before the pandemic took over our lives and everything was shut down, I was at a private weekend retreat at the Mercy Retreat Center. I went downstairs to get my morning coffee and noticed the sun was about to rise, so I ran back upstairs and retrieved my camera. I remember the feeling of awe at the beauty of our natural world and all the things that we tend to take for granted. Looking at this photo now, I realize how timeless the ocean and the sunrise are and will be, long after the human race is gone.

The surf was pounding that day. The sea was close to high tide and flowing in between the rocks to meet the sand.  There is always something for me about the wind and salt air in my hair and the feeling that I have come home. I grew up near the ocean and it always calls to me. I live about an hour inland now but I need to return to the ocean to find my center and feel connection with the world and all of creation. For my father it was the mountains that called him, and I am called by the trees and the birds too. But it is the ocean that makes me feel alive.