So how’m I doing in my quest to re-invent my life, follow my evolving Blisses and create the life I really, really want?
Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m approaching a year since starting this blog – a year in which other people seem to have achieved the kind of success that still eludes me (damn you, Comparison Trap!) – that led to Friday-and-Saturday’s surprising feeling of sunkness.
Perhaps it was the migraine, that hooked its claws into me Friday afternoon and was still clinging when I woke up.
Perhaps it’s missing my sweetie, who’s out of town this weekend.
Perhaps it’s the frustration that my right leg is still deformed and frustratingly atrophied, 3 months post-knee-surgery.
Perhaps it was all of those things, combined with general overwork and under-rest.
Whatever it was, it caught me off guard. I’ve never been a flatliner, but so many lovely things have happened this week! How could I be anything but happy and cheerful?
Sweetness this week:
- The nicest fan letter ever arrived in my inbox on Monday (I challenge anyone to write a nicer one!):
Melissa Dinwiddie, I love you. Not in a sappy, soppy, sloppy kind of way, but in a girl crush kind of way; in an “I-so-want-to-be-like-her” way. Your voice, when you write, is so authentic, that I hear your lyrical voice…as a matter of fact, you’re across the table from me taking about life and love and your success and impatience over coffee and and some amazing cookies that I just baked with milk chocolate chips, toffee bits and cashews with a sprinkle of ground french roast coffee (and a touch of cayenne just to brighten the taste).
You don’t know it, but we have conversations together at times like these. I share my empathy, my stories and give you my encouragement.
By the way, my cats believe that I’m talking to them, but they are narcissistic beasts. They have no idea that I’m talking with you.
Just thought you should know on this Valentine’s day that you have a girl crush.
(Thanks Sandi! Still buzzing on that one. :))
- My Uke Diva gig at the JCC senior lunch on Tuesday brought raves and accolades. 87-year-old Joyce insisted that what I need is an agent, who would surely get me the fame and fortune I deserve in Hollywood. While 84-year-old Sam declared:
I have one word for you… no, [counting fingers] three words for you: You. Are. Good. And I’m a litmus test. I’ve been around 84 years, I’ve seen more performances than you can imagine. I can tell good when I see it, and you’re it!
- Thursday I got further confirmation of my appeal as a performer when the music booker for Hog Island Oyster Bar in Napa emailed to see if I’d be interested in playing a couple of (paid) gigs on their outdoor patio this summer. (Mark your calendars for July 31 and September 11!) She said:
I came across your video “Uke” and I LOVE your style.
All very sweet, and made me feel very good, indeed. Nonetheless, despite all this validation, Friday and Saturday saw me feeling blue. Proof that the “happiness” that external validation offers is fleeting.
The Antidote to Blue
So what does a girl do, when the blues descend? Well, first of all, a smart girl reminds herself of this undisputed reality:
All feelings are transitory.
Next, she reminds herself of another undisputed reality:
Nothing good ever comes from comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides.
Yes, my path might seem overly long and winding, but it is what it is. I know getting caught in the Comparison Trap is just that – a trap.
And then she does the one thing guaranteed to lift the spirit:
She takes action.
For a Creative, that means getting into the Creative Sandbox.
Which is exactly what I did. Deadlines be damned – the blues call for taking critical measures. Now.
So I played
And since I’m still waiting for the delivery of my 200+ mini canvases, I turned to my more comfortable substrate, watercolor paper, and my old friend, walnut ink.
Here’s what came out of my playtime (shown here close to actual size):
2 3/4″ x 5″ walnut ink with ruling pen & brush, Pigma micron, water with steel nib, watercolor pencil
2 3/4″ x 7 1/4″ walnut ink, sumi ink with ruling pen and modified crowquill
3″ x 4″ walnut ink with ruling pen, watercolor, modified crowquill nib
And although I didn’t actually mat these, I matted them digitally, in Photoshop. See the image at the top of this post, and these two:
Which I painted on a few canvases on Friday night, to allow the required 24 hours of curing.
And then didn’t let the full 24 hours to go by before pulling out my watercolors. (Patience? Feh!)
At a loss for what else to do, I reverted to the calligrapher’s standby, the alphabet. In my signature hand, Neuland.
Watch for these to evolve in the coming days…
Well, I’m still wishing my debt were down to zero and my internet empire fully grown and thriving. But I must admit I’m feeling a helluva lot better.
When in doubt, create.
Saturday Night Epilogue: Serendipity & Progress
While doing my prescribed knee rehab exercises and stretching late last night, a row of old journals on the bottom shelf of the glass doored bookcase in the living room (being at eye level as I stretched) caught my eye. Hmmm (thought I), I wonder what I was thinking and writing about back then?
From among the mostly identical, 8 1/2 x 11 hard cover sketchbooks, I pulled out the Morning Pages Journal (affiliate link). My thoughts traveled backwards to that year, in the middle of my marriage, the house I lived in, the small bedroom crammed with my drafting table and supplies.
December 1996. Six months after my first calligraphy conference. Just two years into this new Bliss of letter love. The amazing response to my work by respected authorities at the conference that summer. The sudden expectations I felt to be amazing, to fulfill my potential.
And the resulting block that descended.
Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way (affiliate link) had a profound effect on me, helped me bust through some of that block.
No wonder I splurged on the matching journal. It honored the importance of that book in my life.
Back in present time
(Or shall we say, much more recent past time.) As I stretched out my atrophied quads on the living room carpet, I skimmed over the first couple of journal entries. The repeating theme: my wish to be prolific.
To make work for me, not just for clients (already, just two years in and in a marriage that paid all my bills for me, I was allowing client work to intrude on my relationship to my Bliss.)
How I wish I could go back and tell that younger self that the secret is just to do it. Every day. In 15 minute chunks.
It only took me 14 years to figure this out. (Yes, that’s a note of sarcasm you detect.)
Ah, well. Could’ve been worse.