Tiny little steps are better than no steps

Hi Everyone,

I am going to make this short and sweet today because the Spring allergies have set in and I can barely see the computer screen.

By the time I write my next post next week, I will be on The 100 Day Project.  To be honest, it’s a little scary staring at the 100 days ahead.  I am not prepared yet.  Well, about half prepared.  I have 30 canvases and 5 x 7 sheets of paper prepped.  I have about that many items on my theme list.  Oh, I forgot to mention what I decided on for a theme.

I knew I wanted to work on my drawing and painting skills in the hope of coming closer to my personal voice in my work, but I felt like I needed a theme to have some boundaries and not go off on some crazy tangent as I am likely to do.  I wanted the theme to be something positive that I looked forward to as well.  Finally, I decided to focus on thankfulness/gratitude.  It’s positive and sometimes I get caught up in a life problem and slide into only seeing the problem, not all the good that surrounds me.  Hopefully this will sustain me on those days when I just don’t want to touch a paint brush.

I also challenged myself to not do conventional images, but to try and express my gratitude in unique ways.  Spending extended time with something I am thankful for should also imbed my appreciation for it more deeply I hope.

So, join me starting on April 4th, through July 12th on either my Bloomtown Studio Facebook page or on my Bloomtown Studio Instagram page to keep up with how I am doing. Links are on this site somewhere. Please feel free to cheer me on.  There are going to be days I will very much need it!

Oh, and did you notice I made some changes to my website here?  Check out my updated portfolio page.  Tiny little steps are better than no steps!

Have an awesome week and take a tiny step toward your goal.

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Hands

hands photo-1439920120577-eb3a83c16dd7

Most of us come into this world with two hands and ten fingers. Once the early infant discovery of our hands and their abilities is over we give little thought to the miraculous appendages that serves us so well in our lifetime. Now, at the age of 53, I am deeply appreciating what my hands have allowed me to do.

I do not know how far back the genetic disposition to arthritic thumbs and fingers go in my family, but I have seen my Dad struggle with it for many years. Since my late 40’s my thumbs have given me increasing pain and this year every finger has expressed its displeasure in the tasks I put upon it.  It is a rare day that there is no pain now.

All these 50+ years I have been blessed with the finest motor skills in my hands.  In one of my many retail jobs the jewelry department would bring me all their tangled, knotted necklaces for me to carefully unbind after they discovered I had the patience and motor skills to work the tiny chains apart. My hands have allowed me to make almost anything I wanted to make from pottery, clothing, embroidery, Halloween costumes to jewelry.  I have used them to repair my home and car as well as dig in the earth for my garden and train delicate tendrils of vegetables and flowers onto a trellis.

I have braided my daughter’s silky hair, buttoned tiny baby buttons and trimmed tiny baby fingernails.  I have doctored many scrapes and bruises on young knees and elbows, stroked the soft fur of many loved pets and chopped thousands of vegetables to feed my people.

All of this I took for granted.

No longer will my hands go unappreciated.  As a “Do-er” not a “Be-er”, I am struggling to learn how to sit with my hands at rest. No more can I mindlessly keep my hands busy while a movie or TV show is on.  No more can I ask my hands to move heavy tile for hours and expect them to be able to still knit scarfs that night.

There are long standing activities that I am questioning now. My signature is no longer as pretty as it was, closer to a doctor’s scrawl, so writing is limited.  The crochet hooks may be retired soon.  Knitting is less painful, though even that will be pared down to what I truly enjoy making. My jewelry making supplies are likely to be given away after I squeeze out a few more pairs of earrings and my long time plan to learn the craft of stained glass work probably is not going to happen.

Is there a positive side to the aging process?  I am finding that though there is a mourning process as the children leave the nest, the face in the mirror looks strangely different and the body parts become more vocal about their distress there is good in the transition.

Like the cleaning of a cluttered, heaped up closet it is cathartic to pick and choose the most important elements of your life.  What do you truly love to do?  What sooths the soul? What brings a smile? What brings the most good to you and others?

I can still paint and draw.  That makes me extremely happy and I am finding that the limitations of my hands are making my artwork better.  Now instead of getting sucked into the vortex of detail that has been my nemesis, I am forced to be looser and more expressive in my work.  I now question what is most important to be done before I tax the strength left in my hands.

I can still hold a baby and the hand of a toddler.  These are becoming increasing joys as D’s kids have kids and I look forward to the possibility of my own grandbabies in the future.  I can still hug and hold the hands of those I love.  As each year brings the loss of more special humans and animals in my life, a simple touch is precious and golden.

I can still play in the dirt and tend to the plants.  As long as the spot is large enough, sunny enough and nourishing enough the plants do not complain about how unwieldy my fingers are.  They respond to my energy and my commitment more than my finesse.

My hands have given and given and given over the decades.  They are asking for more gentle treatment and appreciation now.  They will no longer let me take them for granted and I concede they deserve better.  There are still many things I want to do and would like their cooperation for another 50 years.  From here on I will thank them for their service on a regular basis, listen when they ask for a rest and appreciate what they are willing to do with me as we head into our next half century!

Photo credit

Learning to ride and other failures

There are times when I think my life would make a good sitcom.  Have you noticed that what makes us watch TV sitcoms are the things that go wrong in spite of a character’s best attempt at something? Yeah, I have had a few of those moments recently.

If you read my “drilling down” post you know that I am trying to improve my skills in several areas.  So for an update and your amusement, here is how it is going.

Sewing: I thought I was on a roll and got cocky.  My recent attempt at making some stuffed monsters has met with some issues. Minky fabric is NOT my friend and the combination of knit fabric and fabric glue with a sewing machine will make you say bad words.  Check out these eyeballs.  Sad. Just sad.

Monster eyes 2

Painting: I’m not even going to show you my attempts at this yet.  There was a time (about 30 years ago to be exact) when I was fairly proficient with acrylic paint. Colors blended together effortlessly. Light landed where it was supposed to go. Currently I have two paintings that are about to be, to put it kindly, wiped off the face of the earth and recreated again.

Knitting: I’m halfway into ONE sock.  How am I ever going to work up to a sweater if it takes me a month to do half a sock?!

Horseback riding: The upside to the fact that DH never actually carries his phone is that there is no video of the following event.

Bob

We have had some beautiful Fall weather in my part of NC and I was itching to practice my horseback riding skills.  Our resident pasture ornaments include Christy (eldest, most experienced with all skill level riders and most ill natured), KC (former endurance competition horse, laid back personality), and Bob (the teenager, untrained, mischievous, escape artist).

Since Bob isn’t trained yet he was exempt from this excursion and continued to make the pasture look good with his pretty boy self.  DH decided that since KC was “bomb proof” from all his years as an endurance horse that I would be safest on him.  Christy has expressed some “attitude” at times so DH rode her.

The trip started out well enough.  Up the dirt road to the main road.  No one seemed to be having any problems with the cars going by.  Let me stop here and explain that the horses have not been ridden regularly for several years.  They were out of practice as much as I am. As we were cutting through the neighbor’s field I noticed that KC was more interested in eating than hauling my butt around.  It took some effort on my part to keep him moving.

As we continued on KC seemed to be remembering that he enjoyed getting out and picked up his step…to the point that it took some effort on my part to slow him down.  Are you noticing a pattern here?  I have only had the most rudimentary of riding lessons.  Rein right to go right, left to go left, back to stop. That’s it.  On average I ride once every ten years.  No one has ever explained leg pressure or body weight shifts have meaning to a horse. My horseback riding skill is STAYING ON THE HORSE. Period.

KC and DH competed for years in endurance races of 50 to 100 miles.  DH doesn’t even have to use reins for KC to know what he is supposed to do.  And then I come along.  As we rode through the field we passed a small pond surrounded by beautiful Fall color adorned trees and approached a small hill. DH stopped and explained that we were going to work on my riding skill a little by going up the hill and that KC would go uphill a LITTLE faster than a walk so be prepared.  Right. Got it.

After that, it’s all a blur.  I remember shifting in the saddle at the bottom of the hill to brace myself and suddenly KC took off at a full gallop with me hanging on for dear life, screaming as we flew through high grass and trees and headed for the woods.  As we reached the top of the hill I was able to level out enough to pull back on the reins and scream a series of WHOA, WHOA WHOOOOOAAAA’s before we went into the woods and I got taken out by a tree branch (ask me how I know about that)! Finally he stopped.

Without going into all the remaining details I will tell you this much.  I rode Christy back and she tested me in oncoming traffic. Yes, cars, coming by at a high rate of speed.  KC maybe wasn’t trying to abuse me as much as he just hadn’t gotten to stretch his legs in a while and was enjoying some fun.  DH had to do some work to keep KC from letting loose with him, though by unknowingly shifting my weight and loosening the reins, I probably told KC to fly up that hill.

We all made it safely home and my one skill of STAYING ON THE HORSE is still intact! It has been decided that I will be in the riding ring on Christy learning the other skills of horseback riding until I am safe to leave the pasture.  I think there will be a riding helmet involved also, just in case my one current skill leaves me.

I hope my stories of utter failure help you along in any endeavor you may be attempting. Learning and improving is not for the faint of heart!

 

Drilling down…

I am running late this week.  The past two weeks have been busy, busy, busy.  The work load has picked up as it usually does in the Fall, we have been trying to finish several outside projects at the farm before the weather gets cold (and hunting season kicks into high gear) and we are having our second annual chicken stew on Saturday which takes some prep work as well.  So while I have a few minutes left…

The new fire pit is one of our recent projects in prep for the annual chicken stew.
The new fire pit is one of our recent projects in prep for the annual chicken stew.

I have decided that it is time I got serious about a few things.  If you have read any of this blog you should be getting the idea that I’m serious maybe 20% of the time.  It is not that I don’t take things seriously. I do. But something happens in my brain and often what went in seriously comes out with a warped and amused twist when it exits my brain and oozes down to my fingers or springs from my mouth. Serious stuff has happened over the years and that tends to make me selective about what really is serious.  Did that make ANY sense at all??

Back to where I was going with this.  I can do lots of things.  That is not tooting my own horn, it is just my reality.  I have had to learn how to do lots of things.  Artsy stuff you know about, but I can also do minor car repairs, use power tools and do some basic carpentry, grow my own food, run a business, raise kids safely to adulthood (any parent will tell you that is HUGE), and a ton of other things.  I bet you can as well.

The problem is that I am a jack-of-all-trades but the master of none. Most of what I know I had to learn quickly and “git ‘er done” on the fly.  Even the subjects I wanted to explore and learn more about I have not had time to.  Then there is that Creative Attention Deficit Disorder.  Surely I am not alone in this.  You are starting a new creative venture and loving it.  About half way in you are doing some research and come across some new cool thing and BAM, you drop the first or thirtieth project and dive into the new one. This is actually how studios and storage units are acquired.

So now that life no longer includes sitting beside a soccer field for days on end or attending numerous networking meetings per week, I THINK I have time to begin drilling down on some skill set improvement.  Number One – I need to do some concentrated drawing and painting again.  You use it or lose it.  Number Two – Improve my sewing.  Actually I have been doing pretty good on this one.  I have made myself several pieces of clothing lately.  I will do a post on those soon.  Number Three – I can’t just sit and watch TV or a movie. I have to do something. That something is usually knitting or crochet, but I have never challenged myself with much more than simple scarves, prayer shawls and the occasional fingerless gloves.  Now I want to tackle socks.  Why socks you ask?  Because I need them and because sock yarn comes in luscious colors so I will have a reason to buy it.  Number Four – I will soon become mama to three horses. I don’t know squat about horses.  Guess it is time to get some horse sense.

So those of you who patiently read this rambling of mine each week, please keep me accountable.  Heck, join me and let me know what you are working on and we can help each other.  I’m going to need help badly.  In the Spring I am getting married (yeah!) and that means ANOTHER move, plus we are remodeling his house extensively starting NOW (that should give me plenty of blog posts and new DIY skills).

Wishing you a wonderful week!