Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Dear Diary

Cats committed to napping

It has been so long since I’ve written anything on this blog, posted anything besides some strange practice paintings, that now I must extract myself from feeling tongue-tied.  The stakes had, in my neurotic way, gotten too high. I felt I should say something Important and Polished™…or at least make some comment to mark major life events, e.g., a summary on the year I spent in graduate school in Canada, the goods and bads of my new life as a PhD dropout. Or perhaps, with my strong opinions and lack of Official Qualifications or Vast Power that might inspire those actually in power to listen, I should add to the reams of commentary on the latest U.S. horrors and how they relate to feminism.  But I find I don’t have the concentration or hope for a great ordering of personal or political history, and that taking on something enormous is keeping me from doing anything at all.  So instead, today, now, in a brief, un-polished post, I am just going to talk about one small change I’ve made recently: I am once again keeping a journal.

Most of Artful Mistakes has ended up being a way for me to talk about the connection between creative expression, coping, exploration, and healing.  Journaling falls neatly into that role. I started keeping a journal in high school, a fraught time for most and certainly for me.  In a rigid boarding school environment that put all emphasis on intellectual and analytical pursuits, my journal was the place where I could talk about my otherwise devalued emotional world.  And crushes – oh my, long, long, cringeworthyily earnest and dramatic ruminations on crushes: the hell of being a teenager.  Even without teen angst and romantic yearnings, I was reminded during my Canadian sojourn that the overemphasis and separation of the analytical over the emotional is something that persists in traditional Western higher education institutions. Clearly, I should have started journaling again there, but I was under the delusion that I needed to horde all my finest words for fabulous literary art or lengthy critical analyses -- a poor decision on my part.  What journaling has reminded me is that words beget more words, and the energy of expression leads to more, not less.  Like love, creativity flourishes in abundance, not scarcity.  And it’s fucking messy.

Let me tell you, my journal writing is so very not polished or important – and therein lies its magic.  I ramble about whatever is on my mind from the day, weird run-ins with quirky Floridians, the ebbs and flows of relationships with friends and family, occasional blurbs on possible story or essay ideas and, more often, grumblings on creative blocks, petty annoyances, existential angst, political anger, and the random details that I collect, magpie-like, for unclear reasons.  Whatever I spew out, I end my typing feeling purged – not always (although often) better, but always less bottled up, with more clarity on situations and myself.  Messy journaling provides a bridge between my logical and emotional, a way for the sides to talk to each other and access the best of each other.

There are so many things I can’t change single-handedly.  I won’t, for instance, be leaping out the door and bringing down the patriarchy next week (alas).  I cannot make anyone in power pass sane gun laws or Trump any less horrifying.  But I can vote and protest, and I have, do, will.  And I can understand and harness my fears and angers in my untidy, tangential, petty, abstracted, long-winded, illogical journal.  That spinning and thinking and feeling and writing is one avenue toward finding and remembering my authentic voice.  The permission to speak starts first with oneself, as does the motivation to heal.

And look, here I am with a (wildly imperfect) blog post, born from kernels in that chaos of a journal.

Your turn: go write something for your eyes only, garbled fun that no one else will ever see.  Write it down and burn it if you need all evidence of your true self safe from prying eyes.  Or save your favorite sentences and use them as you choose. In the writing, you will learn something more, you will know more about what you think and what you feel, your values and contradictions.  And that is one more step toward clarity of purpose and action.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

First Flamingo & New Abstract

If you live in Florida, eventually you are required to paint a flamingo.  So I did & presented it as a gift to a flamingo-loving relative.

Meanwhile, I also amused myself with some abstract fun.