Personal Her-story

The World is My Oyster

Our sojourn in New Orleans is over for now. We are back in Boise, and as usually happens to me when I travel and have a literal change of perspective, I’m in an entirely different “place” than I was when we left.

If you’ve been following my blog you have undoubtedly gathered how much New Orleans means to me and to Mike. How vital it is to our sense of being who we truly are as artists, as a family and as citizens of the world. It is our true “heart home,” the place we feel WE belong.

Don’t get me wrong, we love Boise too! It’s like Boise is our BFF, and New Orleans is our Soul Mate, and we believe we can have both. It’s just going to get a little complicated around here while we make that happen!

I know you have heard me muse on ways we are better using our house in Boise as our artists’ home — repurposing rooms as studio space,

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turning our former living room into a “gallery”

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and Logan’s former apartment into our new living room

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and studio space.

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That’s been done, and it absolutely works for us as it reflects the way we live now that we are empty nesters who also happen to be artists.

BUT…we want to have another home in New Orleans too, and we can’t do that and keep this house. So, our plan is to sell this house and buy two condos — one in Boise, and one in New Orleans.

We have bought and sold houses before, but there has never been a house I’ve loved as much — or have poured as much of myself into — as this house. It hurts physically to think about selling it, but no pain, no gain, right? My wish is that someone will fall in love with it the way I did and I can hand it over to them with a light heart.

Wish us luck as we embark on this next phase of our lives which I have dubbed “Bon Temps Le Boi.”

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Who says you can’t have your oysters raw, and chargrilled too?!

Who Am I Kidding?

I guess you all know me well enough by now to not be the least bit surprised by the fact that having gotten my life in such supremely good order… cleared my calendar, waved buh-bye to commitments which were leaning more toward the possibility of “killing me outright” than “making me stronger,” shifted a crapton of things from the Bucket List to the Fuck-it List, hell, even finished making, buying, wrapping and mailing the Christmas packages so they will actually arrive before Christmas this year…I would just stop posting anything at all on my blog.

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Well. I’m sorry. God knows it pisses me off when other bloggers do it. So if you’re pissed I don’t blame you. I’m pissed at me too.

I just find it so odd that an empty schedule creates the exact opposite effect than what you would expect. Wouldn’t you think if you had a completely free day to make art (or update your blog) in your newly organized studio with a big cup of hot Market Spice tea wafting inspirational steam up your nose that you would just go crazy creating? Well, think again.

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That saying about “if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it” is right. If you want something done, don’t ask the person with the free time to do it. It’ll get put off until tomorrow. Which means never. It’ll get put off until never, and then you will end up doing it yourself anyway when you are already busy and the person you asked to do it will resent you because you went ahead and did it. Trust me, I know this. I have served on Committees.

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So I guess I just need to accept the fact that if I’m going to do a blog I need to have too much on my plate. Be really stressed. Probably being spiteful about it wouldn’t hurt either. Well it’s almost Christmas, and a whole New Year is right around the corner — one which I have lots of plans for, so there is definite hope that soon I will be majorly swamped.

May it be so. And Merry Christmas.

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Just Doing It

There does seem to be a certain amount of disconnect between living a creative life and writing a blog about it. I’m not managing to do both — you may have noticed — but that’s because I’m choosing the “living” part, and the “blogging” has had to wait.

Lately I’m obsessed with the idea of “just doing it.”

You know what I think about feeling pressured to do things just so we can say we did, but I feel equally strongly about actually DOING the ideas that keep nagging at us — especially the ones we push away because they seem too difficult or outrageous or contrary or even a little embarrassing.

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you go flying off on every crazy idea that pops into your head like some sniggly baboon drunk on fermented Marula fruit. You need to have a plan, be willing to work your ass off, and see it through. Unfortunately it’s not like those movie montages where they show 6 hours or 6 days or even 6 months worth of work completed in 6 minutes — it’ll really take you those hours, days or months to complete. I just believe it will be worth it.

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I am NOT now going to list all the work that I have been “just doing” which has prevented me from keeping up with this blog, though I will say that things look very different around here — literally — and though deadlines and pressure in general may actually have increased, at least I’m the one in charge.

I’ll be more specific about what’s going on soon, but for now I’m just doing it!

Don’t/Stop Looking At Me

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I pinned this on my “Wise Words” Pinterest board this week and realized as I did so that I whole heartedly agree with the sentiment. As someone who is keeping a blog — the point of which is to make myself MORE VISIBLE — I also realized that it puts me in constant conflict with myself. Look at Me! Don’t look at me! Stop looking at me! Don’t stop looking at me! Jeez.

It also helps me understand why I don’t post as regularly as I intend to. Even though I have a daily practice of writing, and 60 notebooks worth of my thoughts which could fill a blog every day for several years to come — I could call it “TMI” — I hesitate to be that visible and instead of just posting a little something and calling it good, I disappear.

Now you see me. Now you don’t.

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And I feel bad about that. So, with the knowledge that there are only about seven of you who read this blog anyway, I’m going to do something I do in my daily writing to declutter my brain, and just list in no particular order the things which are on my mind right now — some of which have been taking up time I might have spent writing posts for this blog.

+ I am applying for the Nampa Public Libray Feature Art Wall project and would dearly love* to be one of the 3 artists selected to create a proposal.

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*serious understatement

+ I’ve been working on two pieces for the upcoming “Monsters!” exhibition TVAA is having. Here’s a preview of one of them:

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+ TVAA Exhibitions have been my primary focus and volunteer commitment for the past 4 years since we founded TVAA, and after 13 exhibitions I am ready to pass the oversight on to another individual, or group. Come out, come out whoever you are?!! I will continue to participate in the shows by creating art for them, and I’d love to curate now and then, I just need to pass the baton. Especially if we are not even going to be in Boise part of the year….

+ We were thiiiis close to booking a way cool artists’ compound Airbnb in what is admittedly a pretty rough (but getting better since Katrina) neighborhood in New Orleans for our Winter 2015 adventure, when our friend (and guard dog) Joy forwarded us a very dispiriting news report about an artist being beaten within an inch of his life by a gang of boys with bats and pipes just a couple of blocks from “our” place. Boo.

We’re definitely going to New Orleans, but we’re debating whether or not to take a risk on this particular (and particularly awesome in every way except location) housing possibility.

+ We’re thinking about trading in our 2001 Forester for a 2014/15 Forester with the 250 hp upgrade. Anyone?

+ After 6 years of pouring my heART and soul into this house it has “suddenly” dawned on us that most of the reasons we moved here in the first place — to create a home within a home for Logan (he now lives in Supported Living), and to evolve into a sort of family compound for Idaho raised grandkids (Lina seems to be heading further East these days and has no inclination to return to Boise) — no longer exist. Couple that with the fact we need more open work space for the larger pieces I am interested in creating, and it’s looking like move #36 is on the horizon.

Interested in a 3600 sq.ft. house with 2 kitchens, 2.25 baths and 6 bedrooms (2 bedrooms, 1 workroom, 3 studios the way we’ve used them), with a huge back yard? Then stay tuned.

+ My hair is giving me fits.

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Ok. You can stop looking now.

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Turns Out I Married Superman!

My apologies for my absence this week. I have a really good excuse though…turns out I married Superman!

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Yep. That’s Mike in his Cookie Monster pjs in the St. Al’s ICU. Looks pretty good for a guy who had A STROKE just 42 hours before I took this picture doesn’t he? I told you…Superman!

Now that you know this story has a happy ending (and you know how I feel about happy endings!) you probably want to know what happened. And, because Mike’s really NOT into reliving the experience, but he is fine with you knowing all about it, I’m going to tell you as much as I’m able from my perspective — with apologies to our nearest and dearest who have already read what I’m going to share with you now:

We had been working in the yard, putting up some reed fencing along the last portion of chain link fence beside the garage — it was hot and he kept greying out but he didn’t want to stop (of course). After that was done he mowed the lawn including portions of our “meadow” which had gotten too long and started to yellow. When he finished he was bending over to pick up a clump of grass and felt (and heard inside his head) a “pop” like when you pop your knuckle. That pop was his carotid artery dissecting spontaneously (you can google “carotid artery dissection”). He put the lawn mower away and came inside to take a shower, but he was seeing a weird visual affect over his right eye like a dandelion puff or sometimes a mesh-like waffle pattern. He was acting sort of strangely so I kept asking him what he needed and he was getting less and less coherent. He took his shower and had a sandwich and got out his computer and then things happened really fast. First he couldn’t get his left hand to type his password. Then he couldn’t feel his left foot. By now I’m saying “do you need to go to the hospital? Are you having a heart attack? Can you walk?….We ARE going to the hospital!” and somehow I got him into the car — his whole left side was going numb but he was mentally slowing down and sort of observing himself (he told me later) while I was going into hyperdrive. I got him to St. Al’s in 7 minutes.

Once we were at St. Al’s and two men got him out of the car and into the emergency room the ER doc told me he was having a stroke. About 10 people were working on him at once, and after they shaved his chest and wired him up and shot him full of something and whisked him off for a CT scan and I’d been advised of all the probable next steps — major clot busting drugs, possible surgery, etc. — they wheeled him back in — and he was back to his old self. The paralysis in his left side was gone, the slurred speech was gone. It was like nothing had happened.

At this point everybody started shaking their heads and saying things like “fluke” and “lucky” and “never seen this before” and “you’ll be very interesting to the doctors on their rounds” and nobody actually said “miracle,” but that’s what I’m thinking.

Mike spent 48 hours in ICU, then they moved him to the medical ward on the third day and he was released because he’s willing to administer his own blood thinner injections until he can rely on the Coumadin alone to keep his blood at the proper thickness that will not form clots. Besides taking the meds he is not allowed to lift anything heavier than 5 lbs. for the next 3 months. Everything, except for Lula, weighs more than 5 lbs.

He’s going to rest through the weekend and then play it by ear next week, but probably not ride his bike in until the week after. He’s mostly tired now, and a little paranoid — when your body does something spontaneously like split an artery and the doctors can find no reason why it happened you wonder when the next bizarre thing is going to happen.

As I write this it is “the weekend” and Mike is feeling better and better. His energy is coming back and with it the desire to lift heavy things and leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Not going to happen.

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Lucky for him, his choice of mates was equally…super!

Inertia, My Stone to Roll

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We’re all Sisyphus. Some of us just choose to whistle while we work. I choose to whistle while I work (between whining sessions). It’s when I stop working and the inertia surrounding my lack of work sets in that the whistling stops and I find myself back at the bottom of that metaphorical hill facing my stone to roll. Again.

That’s where I’ve been for the past 9 days — the longest I’ve ever gone without posting to my blog since I began it 104 posts ago. I’ve been in that zone. Rolling that dang stone.

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And now I’m done. Did you see that? I just rolled past the line between “inert” and “in motion” and now I’m back to work.

Every time I find myself starting again I have that forehead slapping moment when I remember that the secret to avoiding inertia — “the tendency to resist a change in motion” — is simply to NOT stop working. Seriously.

I don’t mean it’s necessary to maintain the sweatiest, adrenaline drenched, looming deadline angst-laden version of work. I mean maintain the “bean by bean” version. The steady, one foot in front of the other version.

And always try to have an unfinished piece to get back to the next day so you’re not starting from zero. That’s key. Once you’re “finished” then you WILL wake up, sooner or later, and find yourself in the silence, “resisting a change in motion” one more time. The change from NOT working, to working. Again.

So, try this instead. You know how to whistle, don’t you Sisyphus?

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You just put your lips together and blow.

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Lula!

I’m one of those “things happen for a reason” believers. Apologies to my less woo-woo friends — maybe it will sit easier with you if I say I believe things happen to ME for a reason, I have no idea why they happen to you. I also have no idea what those reasons may be for those things happening to me, but when they do it’s way easier to welcome them with open arms and an open heart.

Meet Lula!

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Lula is our new puppy. I met Lula for the first time last week at the Idaho Humane Society when I went out to discuss the artwork for this year’s See Spot Walk event in October. She was passing through with her foster mom Hannah, and Will Spearman, who will take my artwork and turn it into all the graphics used all year to advertise the event, introduced us. I was smitten instantly.

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Lula is a long haired Chihuahua, she’s not yet a year old and she doesn’t even weigh 5lbs. She had been in foster care with Hannah since the Fall when she had been rescued just as she was ready to step out into traffic on Broadway. At the time she was almost completely bald and weighed 2lbs. I know! Heartbreaking.

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But wait. There’s more! Lula has Cerebellar Hypoplasia which means she had a really rough start in life, probably malnourished, likely caused by an infection in utero. And what does that mean for Lula? Luckily, less than you might think.

She is a total spaz. The girl can dance, but she walks like a Pushmepullyou. Remember it from Dr. Dolittle?

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Her front feet go one way and her back feet go another, and all four feet are moving faaaaassssst! What she needs is a tiny helmet for when she bonks into the coffee table, or the rose bushes, and maybe some elbow pads too. Or maybe Snug can just run interference for her.

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So all of this stuff I’m telling you has happened to Lula, not to me, and as I said, I have no idea the reasons things happen to anyone including Lula. But now Lula has “happened” to me, (and to Mike, Snug and Sirius!) and I have no doubt that just now when I need a distraction like I need a hole in the head — and trust me this joyful jumping bean is a major distraction — there is a very good reason she has come into our lives.

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Jump, Logan, You Can Do It!

Today’s the day we’ve been working up to. Moving all those piles of things in and out and over and around and up and down. Shifting rooms and room functions, turning one home into two. All in preparation for next steps, and new phases, and oh you know, the first day of the rest of our lives.

It’s an especially big day for Logan, though for now he’s pretty much just taking it in stride. I’m sure in time we’ll all know exactly how he feels about this transition but since he’s always had a different view of the world from the rest of us I suspect there will be some surprises in his perspective — whenever he chooses to share it with us.

So, in the spirit of sharing one’s personal perspective, I offer for your viewing pleasure today a wee retrospective of Logan as I saw him growing up:

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Taking the plunge is pretty exciting, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. This summer Logan went to McCall with Mike and me and we stayed in a wonderful cabin on Payette Lake. And everyday there was a good reason not to jump in the lake. That lake is cold! You’ve got to be fully committed before you make the leap. But on the last day Logan and Mike went down for one last attempt…and I caught the action on my iPhone. (It’s a bit like watching ants while up on a mountain but just listen to my voice and you’ll know what’s going on.)

Jump, Logan, you can do it!

Linked

One of the things that happens when you decide to start a blog is you suddenly discover you have taken on a new full-time job on top of your current full-time job, which if you are an artist and your studio is your home means you are already working two jobs (making art and making home), so now you have three. That’s kind of a downside.

The upside is that this process is a bit like conducting an archeological dig on your own life. It’s way cool sifting through the layers and rediscovering old work, old memories, and seeing how all those parts are linked and have formed who you are now and why your art is like it is today.

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Maybe not every blog is like that, but I want to present a whole picture of who I am, my art, my home, the whole catastrophe. If you imagine that concept within the boundaries of time, then you’ll need to look back in time with me, AND see where I am right now. And the future? We’ll see.

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Today I want to share part of my past, my present, and God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, my future — the most important and consistent “link” in my life: Mike.

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Mike is a true Renaissance man,
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a serious artist,
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a complete goofball,
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and my one and only.

Spend some time with his blog, Michael Chambers Paintings, and get to know him a little bit. That will help me with that “whole picture” I’m working on presenting to you…and free me up today so I can go get some work done on my two other full time jobs!