Sunday, July 17, 2011

Change Gears


I have had a quiet week because both children were at camp. With hours of precious solitude on my hands, I tried my hand at something new. For about a month, I've been thinking about making dreamy pieces using wire. Armed with wire cutters, pliers, and many spools of 20 gauge wire, I've been bending and snipping all week. When I work with something so detailed, I've got to have a diversion for my eyes. I need to look up and refocus every few minutes in order to let them rest.

My diversion this week was watching Art 21 episodes. Listening to artists talk about their lives, their work, and their ideas was incredibly inspirational. I realized that I need to slow down a bit and enjoy the process of making art, to ask more questions, to create more worlds with what I do. I don't need to trade in the car, just change gears.

In his now famous commencement speech to Stanford University, Steve Jobs talks about the importance of doing what you love. Setting all the carpe diem aside, I heard a specific message when I read this speech. The importance of change.

If what you are doing each day is not in line with what you love to do, make a change. Jobs doesn't say to throw it all out the door. He simply says, "change something." I think of driving a car. If you have run off the road, it is best to make a slight adjustment to your steering. Over-correcting can cause you to lose control of your car. (Unfortunately, I know this from experience.)


I'm not ready to make my wire sculptures public, but I am happy with what is happening. I will still get up day after day and empty the dishwasher and go to work and sweep up dog hair. But I will also change gears, turn around, and correct my steering every once in a while.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Where Did I Leave My Glasses?

Since turning 40 a year ago, I have noticed a sharp decline in my visual abilities. After a life of perfect vision, I am continually surprised that I cannot see the eye of a needle, the details of my husband's face when we kiss, and my armpits when I try to shave them in the shower. It is a humbling feeling to so vividly understand that something is shutting down in this machine of mine. Recently, I was even more humbled when I shopped for cheap reading glasses at the local junk store and stood near giggly teenagers wearing their short shorts and flip flops. It was like looking at my sister and me over twenty years ago. Peachy skin, tanned legs, carefree silliness. I felt quite moldy.

So now I find myself saying things like, "Now, where did I leave my glasses?" and "Let me get my glasses!" I have added a pause to my life. I can't just pick up a book and start reading 
or remove a splinter on the fly. I have to stop and get my glasses first. 
This is frustrating.

Somehow I know there is a message in all this. What am I supposed to learn from this experience? 

Enter Yoda. My children both have Yoda moments. These are moments when they speak nothing but truth that I need to hear. My 9 year old said something the other day that stuck with me. We were having breakfast and she said, "Mom, I don't understand that phrase about nothing being perfect. To me, life is perfect. We have a nice house and a good family and nice friends. Seems pretty perfect to me." 
She wasn't dreamy-eyed about it. She was quite matter-of-fact. 
I realized she was responding to a woman she knows 
who gripes and complains about what she doesn't have. 
I heard her message.

I think the new pause in my life is one that I need. 
It's time to question how I perceive what is in front of me. 
Do I really see it?

So now I have turned into one of those ladies who can never find her glasses. 
So far, they have never been on my head all along. 
But I know that day is coming.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Still a Happy Trash Picker

As a little girl, I regularly sat on the floor while my mom sewed. 
The floor was a magical spot, as it was covered with fabric and trim scraps. 
My sister and I crafted many purses, belts, and doll clothes in our younger years. 

Nowadays, I don't sit on the floor anymore, but I use the scraps from the floor in all my work. 
Tiny pieces of paper, fabric, trim, and even balls of discarded thread 
find their way into my collages and quilts. 

While I am scavenging the floors, my mind takes me back to being with my mom and my sister. 
I experience vivid memories of my mom's sewing machine humming away, 
an old western or Godzilla moving playing on the tiny black and white TV, 
and sweaty glasses of iced tea. 
Those little nuggets of memory make me happy. 
They connect me with my family and bring a sense of calm and confidence that I am in the right place.

Perhaps this is not the grand lesson my mom hoped to impart, but somehow 
I know that picking trash off the floor is what I am supposed to be doing.
Lesson from mom: Never underestimate the power of regular old life.