Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is that all there is?

“If that’s all there is, my friend, then we’ll keep dancing. “   I wish.  I am sitting here and my big repeating echo is “and so, that’s it?”. 

 

I’ve been starting to do some research about places to explore in the US.  I’d like to see lots many of the National Parks, especially in the western part of the US.  The Grand Canyon.  Crater Lake.  Yosemite.  Yellowstone.  All of them have appeal and are something I’d like to see.  I’ve been to Yellowstone, but I was maybe a year or so old so that doesn’t really count.  OK, so let’s say I do this.  Let’s say I plan and we start checking them off the list of places I’ve visited.  Let’s say I really set a high goal and see every National Park  in the Western US.  Cool.  What’s the purpose?  What problem is it solving?  And so, that’s it?

 

My job is fine, not fulfilling, but sustainable.    It pays well (my husband and I can live on just the one salary just fine).  But I’ve hit the age where moving up isn’t likely, mostly because I don’t want to do it.  I don’t want to spend the energy and the time going “up”.  Going up to where?  And for what purpose?  Because I don’t have enough stress?  It’s not going to earn me a whopping salary increase, but it would probably increase my hours at work.  Doesn’t call, so why do it?  So I’m needing to work a few more years, but it will probably be more of a “tread water” than a “swim upstream”.  OK, I have a job that I need to keep.    It’s not a job that changes the world or even makes much of an impact at the corporation I work at.  And so, that’s it?

 

I don’t know if I’ve hit “mid-life crisis” or what’s going on, but I am sitting here without purpose or direction.  If it was mid-life crisis, where’s all the cliché’s?  The red sports car, the world travel, the plastic surgery, whatever.  I don’t even have the trivial and shallow purpose or goals.  I’ve lost weight, which is a good thing.  My health is better, my joints hurt less, and I’ve reduced my risks of stroke and diabetes, at least the portions I have some control over (whatever genes I’ve inherited, I’m kind of stuck with, you know?).  OK.  Now what?  I’m going to plan for a 5K walk.  It’s only 3 miles and I do that on the treadmill often.  It’s a Weight Watchers goal.  OK.  So let’s say I do that.  And so, that’s it?  Now what?

 

I see people with huge goals and significant impacts on the world.  I just don’t have the desire or burning passion to do something that turns the world on its ear.  Now and then, I go pack food at the food bank.  Or work in a local park.  Or donate money to some good cause.  I check out Tom’s Shoes (http://cdn2.tomsshoes.com/default28.htm) and see the impact he has.  Or Gates Foundation (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Pages/home.aspx).  Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/).  ONE (http://www.one.org/us/splash/index1.html).   National Wildlife Federation (http://www.nwf.org/).    Nature.  Wildlife.  Clean water.  Poverty.  Not lacking in world needs.  Just lacking in passion and focus.  And so, now what?

 

I have lots of creative vibes and avenues.  Glass art.  Drawing.  Painting.  Paper crafts.  Sewing.  Writing.  Beading.  Lots of things call.  Lots of things sound like fun.  Most things, I have the supplies to create something.  OK, so what?  At the end of my days, is the goal to look back and say “see, I made that ornament” or “painted that painting”?   Or filled this journal with writing?  Maybe spending time on creativity is a good thing.  Maybe it’s the journey, not the end result.   Part of my brain believes that, but is that all there is?   I keep reading and not doing, which is another issue.  But is that it?

 

School?  See previous paragraph on work.  I don’t need school to move up the corporate ladder.  After 30+ years, I finally completed my BA.  Art History seems interesting.  But do I just want to spend my time and energy taking classes?  Is that enough?

 

Home.  Yard work.  I actually enjoy puttering around the yard.  I have a huge collection of containers on the patio, filled with vegetable and flower seeds and small tomato and pepper plants.  We have a nice pond with goldfish, and flowing water.  The backyard is filled with green and life, including butterflies and frogs.  I always wanted to study “one square foot”.  That’s my way of saying “focusing on the here and now”, rather than flying all over the world and do something huge and complex.  Is that enough?  Is that it?  Is that OK?  Who’s to say “it’s OK”?  Is that the question to be answered?

 

Is that all there is?  Maybe so.  Yep, maybe that’s all there is”:   A job that pays the bills, a bit of volunteering, and some creative art moments.  But I’m finding it hard to get jazzed about that answer.  Where’s the roller coaster?  Where’s the thrill and heart rush?  Where’s the lasting impact on the world around me?  This is it?   “If that’s all there is, my friend, then we’ll keep dancing”.  I’m not even motivated to do that.  What a whiner.  I have health.  I have enough money.  I have a home. I have a wonderful husband.  Is that enough?  Now what?  Is that it? 

 

Peace.

 

P.S.  For those who now have this song stuck in their heads (like I do), you can pay 99 cents and listen to it to your heart’s content.  (http://www.amazon.com/That-There-2002-Digital-Remaster/dp/B000ULCUV6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dmusic&qid=1242229621&sr=8-1 ). 

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Art of Patience (or lack there-of)

OK, I'm an odd duck, clearly.

My work assignment is going through a lot of transition. I've spent the
past year and a half working very hard on a program that's going through
major fundamental shifts. I've gone from being the center of knowing
what's happening and key to making things happening to waiting. I've
spent a lot of time traveling, being highly stressed trying to get
foundation pieces in place, and building bridges between team members.
All of that has taken a lot of energy and focus.

Suddenly everything has stopped.

It's like I've been working and plowing and tending this plot of land
with all my energy. Now it's stop doing that. Go stand over there,
there will be new land to tend soon, but we don't know what we're
planting so we don't know what you need to do. Or if we'll even need
you to do anything, soon, later, ever.

I've been in "wait mode" for probably a whole day and a half... that's a
sign of something, or lack of something.

I have one assignment that will probably take about 2 days to complete
and that's only if I engineer it to death. And I'm not sure it's even
needed anymore, but it's probably a good career move to complete it. I
have completed the mandatory training I needed to do for the year. I
have a bunch of "fill-in" type work: how to transition this, what needs
to happen to wrap that up and put it on a shelf for later, that kind of
thing. I have some research I would like to do, learning about concepts
and content for some of the major functionality I've heard bandied about
but don't have a firm grasp on (or maybe I do, but I don't realize
that). So I could fill up my days and keep busy, at least for a while.

But I'm really bad at the "keep busy" thing. And keep in mind this is
working on Day #2... hmmmm. "Sign of something" repeats.

So today I've researched graduate schools. Do I want to do to something
for my work resume that would help me there? Leadership. Project
Management. Why? For the 5 years left I have before I hopefully
retire? To work towards a promotion I don't want? If I wanted this
graduate degree to be "all about me", I'd have a different focus. Art
history. Systems thinking. Do I want to spend the next couple of years
filling up my hours and use my energy on this? Maybe. I don't know.
Maybe.

Or are there other classes I could take? Exercise maybe. Yoga. Belly
dancing. Tai Chi. Maybe art classes. Painting. Glass art. Something
to re-spark my creativity juices. Master gardener . Why? Do I need
something to make me "recognized expert"? Maybe. Recognized expert for
whom? Or are there some short-time-commitment (like a couple of hours)
type classes for making cards (although I don't know what I'd do with
these. It's not like I send a bunch of cards very often.). But I
always have a great time when I create them. I'm back to the old
mind-set that says "I can't write because what will I do with all the
journals I fill up" instead of just enjoying the creative process and
stop worrying about the results.

It's not like I lack things to do that are creative that I could do on
my own. I just bought an embroidery sewing machine and I haven't even
powered it up. I'm afraid this will be too hard or I won't be any good
at it. Hmmmm . Patient with learning? And with myself? Doesn't sound
like it much, does it? I guarantee having it stay in the box does not
improve my skill. But then again, it doesn't prove me to be totally
incompetent either. Right now, the box is winning. I have stained
glass cabinet windows to build. Scrapbook pages to make. Writing to
do. Watercolors to paint. Oils to paint. Pictures to take. I have
other creativity adventures, like planting my container gardening and
working in the yard, which I actually enjoy.

And here I sit, trying to figure out how to use up my energy in
"constructive" ways. Geez. I've been here and I'm here again. What
happens if work is an 8-hour a day job that doesn't leave me feeling
wiped out? What happens if I'm actually bored? Can I survive that?
Can my ego deal with not being in the center? Can I wait more than a
day and a half before trying to change that?

I'm back to watering the plants again. To stop thinking so much and
just doing. It's OK to not work on the projects on my "should list" and
do what calls. I know that. The logic piece of my brain knows that.
But the link between knowing and actually taking the leap of faith is
lacking. I stand here firm in the conviction that I know action of
doing for me is what's needed and the terror of actually moving in that
direction.

What if I'm no good at "x" (whatever "x" is)? So what? So here I
stand. Frozen in fear and guilt. What if I've wasted years waiting for
"the perfect time" to create? And what if I now have that perfect time
and I waste it? You wouldn't think this would be that hard. But here I
stand, afraid to move unless movement means working toward some goal
that is totally focused and all consuming and leaves me exhausted but
sounds important. And leaves the rest of my artistic soul with the now
repeating "hold button" blinking away again. In the spirit of the Nike
slogan: "just do it". If it were only that easy. Maybe it is. And
I'll feel like an idiot for waiting and wasting.

But, none the less, here I stand, waiting.

Peace.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On hold? Maybe, but, then again, maybe not....

I wrote this on the airplane between SEA and DFW on 03/23/09, starting
at 11:20am CDT and kept on writing straight thru for about an hour. I
wrote in the only thing available in the air, in my spiral notebook, so
I've transcribed this as I wrote it there, without edits or
word-smithing....

-------


So I feel like my life is on hold. Is it true? Is my life-light
blinking, waiting to be picked up and answered? Or am I just in a space
that makes me feel that way. Does sitting at an airport, heading away
from home and my heart put a filter on that just doesn't let in a lot of
color or light? Maybe the question really isn't "which is true?".
Maybe that doesn't matter. Maybe the cause isn't more important than
the feeling that's sitting here, regardless of the underlying truth.
Maybe the question to be asked is far more fundamental. The question I
have in my pen is "So?". It's not "so, who cares?". It's "so, now
what?". What am I going to do now? Sometimes, activity, a plan or
action, is just a way to avoid feeling. Sometimes the feelings just
need to be lived. And sometimes the feelings are a catalyst to change.
It's the "thinking about watering the plants" shift to actually getting
out of my head and out of my chair and watering the plants. Thinking
about it sometimes just results in dry sticks and dry life. Actually
watering results in green and growth and life.


Where was I going with this? Sometimes bunny trails also leads to
avoiding.... I feel like my life is on hold, "now what?". This is
probably a "two truth" moment - both space in my life and head lead to
the same answer. So.... Stop dwelling in the debate. Action. So what
will I do?


Multiple answers bubble up, also seemingly in conflict. But maybe
there's just more than one facet of where I am that needs to be
addressed. First off, visualizing the places where I'm not on hold. We
spent the weekend, my husband and I, making a ton of decisions on our
room. Due to nature and rain water where it wasn't planned for, we're
re-modeling our room. It will be a wonderful sanctuary. The floor will
be gray, natural and grounding. The walls in the bathroom will be part
tile, clean, with whites and grays. We found the coolest small glass
titles that will be accent colors. The vanity will "float", giving us a
feel of space in a bathroom that's fairly small. We decided on a
bathtub that's deeper than average and already soaking and relaxing away
the world is calling. I already bought candles to light and scent the
air for my bath. That the room is down to studs and cement didn't stop
me from being jazzed about this new feature.


We just had a shower before, with the door opening into the hall. Now
the door will open into our room, so soaking then slowly making my way
to bed will just be so fabulous! We chose the coolest sink and faucet -
big, heavy glass art that looks like clouds - dark foundations with
blues and greens and whites. One of a kind. And the faucet is like a
miniature water fall, very peaceful and one of a kind there too.
Nothing that gives the feel of "industry" or "practical". It's soothing
and calming, as it should be. Rich also found a heating system so the
floor tiles will be warm. I can't imagine such a luxury. It will be
such a wonderful space.


He's also designing "shoji screens" for our room. They'll have lights
behind then, giving us the feel of windows and lightness. He's also
designing our bed - platform, very simple and minimal. Another addition
of space. I am so excited about this. Talk of turning lemons into
lemonade. Wow. It will be a tremendous place for revitalizing heart
and soul.


OK. Clearly things aren't on hold. I need to pay attention more. Most
of this was chosen just this past weekend. Clearly not on hold.

OK. So it's definitely not home that's making me feel "on hold".
That's clear. So two other factors are travel and my creativity.
Travel is just a part of the job currently. It's been suggested that I
just find a different position. But times being what they are, "new
kid" in the group is a fairly risky position. It's time to just "tread
water" on that front. Both Dallas and my home org think I'm doing well
and contributing. And my customer is very happy. That could change
soon, new person is coming in to take his job, but for now, moving is
just an answer that needs more time. Maybe another "feeling on hold" is
due to work. It's been about 2 months that we've heard the rumors of
organizational "shake up" and I've been told to wait to see what
happens. Maybe 2 months is too long. I finally cracked Friday and
talked to my customer about all the rumors floating around and some
clarity about truth of what's coming. So maybe that's another bit of
action that will help me feel less "on hold".


Travel. I have no idea what to do with business travel. I've made a
rule about not wanting to rent a car - not wanting to drive while I'm on
business. The times I've driven have worked out pretty well. I even
took an afternoon and went to explore. So maybe it's time to revisit
that rule. I still don't w ant to drive in the winter - too quick to
change to ice or snow. But the rest of the year, I could drive. And
maybe actually plan out places to explore. Right now travel is very
much "life on hold". Airport to hotel to office to hotel to office to
airport. No creativity. No sight seeing, except once. Maybe there's
something between end of day at office and going to hotel for rest.
Rich keeps encouraging me to have fun, but I haven't exactly set myself
up to do that. Apparently I have some rule in my head that says
business travel must be torture. And I must suffer. I have no desire
to go out to dinner every night with work people, but there may be
something else to do than to escape to my room and hide.


I was also thinking about dusting off my writing. I took a class called
"Writing from Life", that was all about giving voice to what I see and
hear, and then letting my imagination go to where it wanted. Pen and
paper is cheap, portable and satisfying. I could write in the hotel
lobby, at the mall, at the airport, wherever. Pictures on my phone
could prompt other stories. And I have a lifetime of things I've lived.
It always seemed egotistical to write about what is of interest to me,
but I guess it's personal web pages and globs. It's about what I see
and feel. What I want to see at the end and mostly the journey, the
process to create the art. I guess all creativity is "all about me".
There's a realization I hadn't put on paper before. Anyway, I could
probably be less miserable on travel and not have lightening strike me
dead or whatever else I think will happen if I actually enjoy myself.


Then there's creativity at home. I have a ton of supplies and a really
cool space (although at the moment, it's a bit over-flowing with bins
and stuff from our room - temporary storage). I have a thousand books
to prompt and inspire and teach. This is my biggest "just water the
plants, will you?!" area. I actually enjoy glass and painting and
crafts. And so... just do it. I keep coming back to this. Just so
for 30 minutes. Rich and I have a ritual when there's something to do
and it's hard to get rolling. Sometimes leaving the house, even for fun
things we planned, like theater or baseball, is hard to "just do it". I
watch Rich, who has written a book and a month of blogs on "want". He's
a really good writer. I'm envious that he can just set a goal and then
do it. He just does it, regardless of mood or other things going on.
He makes time for it. And therefore it happens. It's a priority.
Hmmm... Maybe something there, huh? Hhhmmmm

Ok, it's an hour later and my frustration is spent. I feel less stuck,
less on hold. I feel some release of stress and pent-up unspoken
thoughts. Remember "morning pages" and "artist date" from "The Artist's
Way"? Maybe simple techniques that are all about watering the plants
actually have some credence. Maybe so.


Peace.

Arlene

Sunday, January 04, 2009

This is Seattle Weather?

OK, this is just amazing!  The snow had just about vanished from the last storm and here we go again.  It’s 6pm and the snow is coming down and sticking to roads and sidewalks for the past hour or so.  We have an inch of snow so far.  This is Seattle, we do not do snow.  We do rain and grey clouds.  Long stretches of rain and grey clouds.  Grey boring (but makes everything green and fresh).  We usually have a couple weeks in mid-January were it gets pretty cold.  We’ve already had very cold weather, before the official start of winter, and now it’s snowing again.  The weather man says it will melt by midnight.  Yea, right.  The time to worry the most is when the weather man says “no snow”.   The temperature now is 32.5, dropped about 4 degrees in the last couple of hours.  If it really warms up in the middle of the night, I’ll be surprised, but it could happen. 

We have a slight hill in front of our house, and it’s funny to watch drivers try to judge their speed to get up the hill when it’s icy.  Already that’s started.  Time for getting hot chocolate and wrap up in a fleece blanket.  Then sit on the coach and laugh.  Until tomorrow, when I have to be one of the ones venturing out, trying to get to work. 

Think “warming trend”.

Peace.

Tech & Creativity Combined

OK, I’m not sure if it’s full “creativity” or not (I have no doubt every tech person on the planet has an opinion), but I’ve spent today figuring out how to share my “big, fun scary” goals.  And, ta da, it’s via a website.  OK, not a big surprise there.  I used “Google Sites” (http://sites.google.com/) which was great for us “non HTML literate” people, especially, like me, where I don’t really want to learn to code any more.  Learned enough to be dangerous and now have a new website that helps me keep an eye on what’s important to me through-out this coming year easily and all in one place.  And the best part is:  I can actually maintain it and keep it current without elaborate tech knowledge or having to have my husband support changes…  Very cool.  So here’s my new website: ajartist.net and I’ve added it as a link to my blog too, under links.  Ohhh, how much more connected can I get?  I’ve started to add some Picasa albums to share my creativity via photos.  I did a lot of creative things this past year and I wish I had photographed everything I made, just as a reminder of things I’ve done.  There’s a lesson learned for me.  Ah well.  Anyway…  And I’ll just keep adding content as my mood allows…  My tech guy husband created a calendar for sharing events with friends so we can plan things to do.  So I’m well on my way to having reminders of my goals and share the adventure!

 

Tomorrow is “back to work” day.  I’ve been off work for the past couple of weeks and I’ve enjoyed it tremendously.  But back for a day, then traveling to Dallas for business.  Dallas in January can be risky, so we’ll hope the weather holds up.

 

Take care.

 

Peace

Thursday, January 01, 2009

And so it begins

Here's to the first day of 2009. And may the year go a bit smoother and calmer than 2008!

The start of the year for us was totally uneventful. I couldn't even keep my eyes open to midnight, so we toddled off to bed with bowls of popcorn and watched TV (sort of, in between times of "resting my eyes") until midnight. Then we watched the fire works, all cuddled up, shot off from the Seattle Space Needle. So I kind of made it to watch the New Year roll in. kind of. But it's definitely my style and I'm OK with being an "early to bed, early to rise / farmer girl" type.

It's said that what you do on the first day of the new year is what you'll do for the rest of the year. So I've started off the day blogging, so that's a good start. I plan on going to Michael's Craft store for their New Year's Day sale, always a welcome event! It's time to dismantle the Christmas decorations (even though I just love the lights) and put our home back to regular dis-order, so that's another plan for today. And, last but not least, we have a new chicken recipe that we're going to try for dinner. All in all, if this is what I do for the rest of the year, I'll be a happy girl!

Hopefully, as I said, 2009 is a bit smoother than 2008. Big things, like war and economy and weather. Little things, like the refrigerator. There has always been the fundamental question: how do you know the refrigerator light goes off? Now we know, it doesn't. My husband wanted one of the chocolate / Fiber One / Mini-marshmallow candies (may sound weird, but it's two WW points and anything covered in chocolate at 2 points is GREAT!), which were stored on the top shelf of the refrigerator. The chocolate was all melted. Turns out the refrigerator light switch went funky and the light stayed on. This kept the refrigerator running and it was warming up (not a good thing!). Fortunately we discovered that yesterday and not today, so it's repaired and it's back to being cold where it's supposed to be cold....

Enjoy your day, hopefully spent with those who are important to you. Take care. Do today what you want to do with the rest of the year.

Peace.