Tag Archives: artists

Virtual Blog Tour — My Turn!

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Hi friends! We’re taking a minor add-on here to the blog today to participate in the Virtual Blog Tour. I was invited by my artist friend Lillian Connelly over at her It’s a Dome Life (not “it’s a do me life”) blog. Lillian is a dabbler in all sorts of media and she’s also a great friend.

Lilly put it right when she described this tour as akin to being on a train. As you walk through each train car, a new and exciting adventure awaits!

Enough babbling. You didn’t come here to listen to my babbling. You came here to read my babbling.

Let’s do this…

1. What am I working on?

That’s a loaded question. Writing. That’s my quick answer.

Constantly, I’m working on my self-awareness (which is totally different from self-absorption).

I am a yoga student of 16 years and a yoga teacher of four months. I earned my RYT-200 certification at the end of last winter.

Writing-wise, I’m in the midst of a self-imposed 30-day challenge devoted to A Year of Living Your Yoga by a yoga teacher and trainer, Judith Hansen-Lasater, PhD. Lasater has a unique way of blending life with yoga in very simplistic terms. The posts are about 600 words each.

I’ve done other 30-day challenges: one on Brené Brown and another on Carl Jung. I started one on “wisdom” last fall, but I was still too close to the untimely death of my mother, with whom I had a complicated relationship.

I’ve written a sporadic as-felt series about my grief related to my mother called “Grief:” and another one which populates itself when the mood strikes about yoga called “Missives from the Mat.”

I wrote a great (if I do say so myself) account about our newest dog, Charlie, and his rescue. Sometimes he and our golden retriever, Murphy, take over my blog.

I also have determined that I’m an essayist and writer, not a “blogger.” I don’t know why the term “blogger” bugs me so much, but it does. I feel an implicit requirement that blogger means I must DO SOMETHING or know something, like a gadget, more than my reader might.

I just write.

I think I am a “blogger” because I write my stuff online, and that implies blogging, but I have nothing to sell here. Maybe soon, a link to my book, once I get off my arse.

I’ve been at this for almost four years and it’s true what they say, the first post is the hardest.

I also have a memoir in the works and I’ve written an unpublished book, a fictionalized memoir. I also have had a great time with fiction and sporadic poetry. I’ve never published a book because as hard as I work to be self-aware and cut myself some slack, I’m terrified of the book sucking. But I really need to get out of my own way.

I love to cook, take photos and doodle too.

Check out my link above, My Writing, if you’re incredibly bored. . .

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is a tough question to answer without my sounding like a jerk, so pay attention because I tend to use a lot of conditional tense in what I write to give those of us who need it a chance to take a breath and experience what’s happening:

The only way I can say how what I might do might differ from what others might do in this blogging world is that I really try not to stand on the shoulders of others, especially children, or ridicule my husband, to get my points across. All the bloggers I like are good about this.

Screw it: I am me. They are them. The world is big. It’s that simple. I just deleted four paragraphs devoted to this comparing nonsense that I just spared you from… If I spend one more moment comparing myself to someone else my head will come off and you’ll have to clean up the mess.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

Because three two people read it!

I also have a very strong Mercury line in each of my hands. Mercury is the messenger and while at times I feel as though I just can’t help it, that I must write, I will absolutely say this: THERE IS A LOT I WILL NEVER SHARE.

A girl’s gotta have her secrets…  

Also because it helps me process what’s going on in my head. I’ve experienced very dry, confidence-less periods in my writing life when I’ve not been sure if I would keep this up.

Just when I felt as though I’d done enough damage to the internet, with my writing, someone chimes in with a comment or compliment that makes me stay at it. In fact someone the other day wrote to me that she’d Google’d the term “chaos addiction” and she found my post about my own disclosure and it was so dead-on that she recognized herself and could begin seeking therapy. She’s doing well now.

That’s awesome.

I’ve made some impressive disclosures on my blog, and that’s also because I’ve been bolstered by the disclosures of my fellow writers. We have all agreed that when we share ourselves, we enable others to share themselves. It’s not arrogant to suggest it, because I’m proof of the evolution.

I have developed a keen sense of bullshit. I’m eclipsing my 46th year and continue to be amazed by persons who are willfully mindless. As far as I’m concerned, mindlessness is the complete opposite of mindfulness, which I feel is my charge.

Allow me the distinction: it’s not my job to fix anyone or make them more mindful, it’s my job to mind my own stuff, reflect on any similar habits I might have, stay present, and let them be. If it resonates with you, YAY!

I must be fair: it took me a long time to seek therapy. I had a hunch I needed it, but I never made the jump until after my third son was born.

I also believe that there’s a writerly band of brothers and sisters and that we need to support one another; it’s not so much that we must unfailingly comment and read one another, it’s that we should do our best to be kindly aware and advocate for one another. It’s a big internet. In my estimation, it’s hard to make enemies in this arena; but I’ve also been blessed.

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

If I’m in a dry spell, I make myself do a 30-day challenge. Wanna hear something funny? About five days into the challenge, I wish I’d never started it. I’m a mess.

Sometimes I have a funny dream and it inspires. Or I have an observation about life or a little story to share about parenting. I believe strongly that children need to be protected; that largely stems from my own loosey-goosey and unpredictable childhood and parents. I’ve detailed my life on Twitter as

@MollyFieldTweet — hails from Eugene O’Neill plays & Augusten Burroughs novel. RYT-200. writer of blog & unpublished books. advocate of the Self. memoir in works.

Regarding actual process: I will write something and hope it makes sense. If I can’t stay on target, then I scrap it. There are plenty I’ve abandoned in my drafts folder. I can’t even remember a majority of what I’ve written… I should go through them and pick the 10 worst ever. I’m sure people would love to see those…

Me: Hey, readers, let’s go down memory lane and read some of my worst stuff ever…

You: .

I try to not complain grow from each experience. Sometimes, as in the unprecedented bullying incident my family endured this past spring, I will let it rip. I never mention actual names because minors are involved, but the pen is mightier than the sword. I shared that story to retrace it and cleanse myself. I lost a friend and two families were shredded apart. But it helped me understand my own shortcomings in enforcing my boundaries.

Anne Lammott says it best,

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

― Anne LamottBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Everytime I read that quote of hers, I feel ten feet tall. And blonde. And leggy. And tan. And really really smart. And fast. And politically connected.

What I need to do better is spend more time on my memoir. Less writing on the blog, more memoir.

This is the end of my blog tour. I hope you enjoyed it! Next stops…. two fantastic friends:

Mary Swan-Bell, a soul-seeking, God-loving cheerleader sage. Her blog is “Adventures in Overthinking” is where she shares her journey of faith, life, relationships, failures and triumphs. Her posts always make me nod, think and smile. Get to know her, she’s awesome. Her most recent post, where she waxes about a common dilemma, why she lets things get to her, was one of my favorites.

Peggie Arvidson is my flesh-and-blood friend. I met her years ago at a Hallowe’en event — it was one of those one-of-a-kind events that even she wasn’t sure she was going to “work,” but she decided to and I decided to attend. She and I clicked like a really noisy peanut butter and jelly sandwich (that was a shitty metaphor). She’s a woo-woo -free, non-predictive palmist who also works with clients to help them find their life purpose (money, love, job, passions) through the messages in their hands. She’s the one who told me about my Mercury lines. She’s the one who’s been telling me to get out of my own way. She’s amazingly talented and beautifully compassionate.

Thank you.

Grief: Living. Wreaths. Painting with Mimi. Consequences.

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Amid the cacophony of my first-world suburban existence: prop planes buzzing above, sirens on their way, lawn mowers manicuring, birds singing sweetly and my hot tub shocking, I lit a couple sticks of incense and decided to do something I’ve been putting off for months: refreshing the springtime egg wreath on our front door.

I bought it about six years ago from Red Envelope. I don’t think they sell it anymore. It spoke to me because its muted springtime tones of subtle rosy pinks, soft powder greens, robin’s egg blue and dusty tans were more reminiscent of actual spring and actual eggs than the hot pink, electric blue and royal purples we see in easter baskets.

The wreath had been hanging every year: from the first day of spring to the first day of fall, for six years. In the fall it is replaced by an autumnal wreath, covered with (I hope artificially) speckled feathers in tones of rust, espresso and black. On Hallowe’en, for one day, the previous speckled wreath is replaced by a black feather wreath which is summarily re-replaced by the previous one. After Thanksgiving, I replace that wreath with a Christmas-time wreath until after the Epiphany wherein I replace that wreath with a faux cranberry on grapevine wreath: very wintry.

When I got married, I had grapevine and faux lily, rose, peony and hydrangea wreaths hang from every other pew at the church and window at the reception.

The hanging or display of wreaths is an apparently ancient custom. My wiki search included citations of wreaths from ancient Greece for seasonal or mythological celebrations such as the end of a harvest, or a birth of a god, death. To me, they mean “welcome” and “we know what time of year it is.”

I guess I have a wreath “thing.” We didn’t hang wreaths when I was a kid. I guess that’s why I want them in my adulthood. My wreath “thing” reminds me of my band-aid “thing”: I have band-aids in the kitchen, every bathroom of the house, some in my purse, cars and linen closet. We didn’t have band-aids when I was a kid; for some reason my parents never bought them. We needed them, but in my mind, I project that to my father and mother that they were frivolous. Band-aids and juices, things to drink. My aunts had band-aids and lemonade. I felt safe when I had a cut or scrape at their homes; I knew I would be attended to.

I digress. I write in the moment; I try to make it make sense at the end.

I have been avoiding the work on the wreath because I wanted to restore the “glaze” effect of the eggs, but without the glaze look. For some reason, I was stymied.  But today, I decided: it’s gorgeous outside, I have been yearning to do this and so screw it, let’s go.

The wreath looked like this when I first started:

this is really a picture of Thing 3's solicitors deterrent sign, which just happened to include a fair amount of the wreath.

this is really a picture of Thing 3’s solicitors deterrent sign, which just happened to include a fair amount of the wreath, which is quite faded. The sign has been very effective.

I decided to test my super-thin acrylic paint application on a test egg, one that had fallen off the wreath. The color was still too strong. I rubbed it off with my finger and thought, “better, but I’m not going to paint and rub-out each egg, plus, they’re only two eggs that have fallen off… so I’m definitely not going to either take them off and put them back on or … ” you don’t care what I was thinking. I don’t either.

Moving on…

So then I thinned the paint some more. Better, but still…

the first two pinked eggs. meh.

the first two pinked eggs. meh, directly above.

 

Then I took a broader brush, dipped it in the water and wet an egg that was still on the wreath…. “you’re taking a big chance here… if it drips, then that’ll affect the other egg…”

The fear in my head was really just … “STOP IT.” I said to myself. “Just do it. Screw it. It’s only paint and you can dilute it….”

I put my color brush in the thinned pink paint and dabbed it onto the wet / primed egg.

It washed. It was glorious.

I heard her, Mom…. from when I was wee and we were painting on watercolor paper, a huge treat for me:

“When you wet the paper first, like thiiiissss … ” she would take a broad brush and wet just the top of her sheet. I didn’t understand, there was no color… I was impatient, but I watched.

“And then you take a pinpoint of paint, juuuust like thiiiiissss… and you dab or stroke that colored brush tip onto the wet paper … it does …. THIS….” and the color bled onto the sheet of thick, dimpled parchment. I watched with wonder and squealed at her magic.

It was those unfiltered and infrequent moments with Mom, those now- deeply poignant moments, riddled with ephemera, when she showed me who she was: a magician, a painter and an artist, who cared deeply about her creations.

It was also in those moments, that I felt envious of her interest in that paper.

In that brush.

In that paint.

In that creation.

She was in her zone then.

There was no getting her back.

“My turn! My turn!” and I would try to do it the way she showed me. Soft and gentle strokes of just water onto my sheet.

I was a spectator. She let me in for a few moments, but they were fleeting.

“That’s too much!” she would blurt, unconscious of her tone, yet (to me) very concerned about wasting the paper, of making a mistake.

She wanted it to be really good as much as I wanted it to be really good. I wanted her to be pleased and proud of me. I chose red. She wanted me to choose burgundy, but I wanted the red. She wanted to show me how to paint a sunset. I just wanted red.

So we went on… I put my reddish pink tones on my paper and watched it bleed into the water.

The color stopped where the water did. I thought that was neato.

She showed me how to make a sun burn in all that red and periwinkle.

“Make a circle with your brush, big enough for a sun. Ok! Yeah, you can add some little streaks outward and then get another color, say orange or yellow… just a little… watch what it does…”

I did as she instructed. I dabbed into the burnt orange.

“Bittersweet. That’s my favorite color,” she would say.

I’m back.

So I heard her today, when I was washing each egg first and then gently dabbed my color onto its soft, slightly porous and smooth, mounded oval surface.

The color stopped where the wash stopped. Just like on the paper.

I just noticed that today is 9 months from when Mom died. “June the TWO!” she used to shout sometimes on June 2nd; I don’t know why. “October the ONE!” on … October 1st.

Eggs. Nine months. Pregnancy. Motherhood. Death. Wreaths.

more color, more life.

more color, more life.

So then I got confident and was off to the races. I painted about seven twelve a dozen eggs that pinkish “bright magenta” tone. I wasn’t in love with it, but it was getting better, my technique was improving and the eggs were being restored. Mom would’ve been pretty psyched.

Green. I did the same with the “lime tree” green. Dilute it to smithereens and then wash and dab. Those came out a butter yellow hue, which was ideal.

I decided to leave the blue eggs as they were. Their colors didn’t fade too much because they likely didn’t have any red tones in them.

The door faces north to the brutal Virginia sun, or else that wreath would be an omelet by now.

Then I took a step back.

The pinks were too pink. The green was OK, closer to what I wanted. I wanted to tone down the pinks.

So I mixed green with pink. A preppy fantasy. Green and pink make grink. When I put grink on all the pink eggs, it toned them down.

I was pleased.

“Wash the color… wash the color. You can always make it stronger, but making things softer… that’s a challenge,” Mom would say.

Oh how right she was, about all of that — it applied to so much more than paints and colors. It’s always easier to strong something up, to push through, to bully or force your way out, through, around or under something… but to yield…

To yield… that’s something else entirely. To step back and yield and let things roll out and just … become … without influence!

How difficult that is! We have to influence. Sometimes we have no choice. We have to step in. Change the direction of things; redirect. Can’t sit with the waiting. Can’t sit with our pain. Can’t sit with our consequences.

Consequences. Thing 2 didn’t turn in a field trip permission form nor the funds to cover the trip. It was all due last week. He was even given an extension by one day. Still didn’t do it; didn’t remind me, didn’t ask me for the funds, didn’t do any of it.

This morning he called me in a lather… “Mom. I need the funds. I need the permission form. I need it all today.” I heard noises in the background, lots of kids, adults talking over them. I thought the trip was today.

“I’ll send an email authorizing your attendance for the trip…. I don’t know about the funds… how much?” I said.

“Just send the email. We can talk about the check when I get home. Thanks… Bye, Mom.”

>click.<

I sent the email. An hour later, the teacher replies: “The trip is Thursday but the funds were due last week. I gave him an extension… finance office needed the funds by Friday. I’m sorry.

He can attend class with Mr. Gitchygoomie. He will be staying behind at school… he can attend his specials and PE. … ”

It’s been a tough “academic” year for all of us. Mom died the day before school started fer cripessakes. Thing 2 has some fantastical notion of wait-and-see after weeks of do-nothing-and-fake-it.

Thing 2 is barely surviving middle school. Middle school is … ugh, hard enough on its own, but then that little asshole on the bus couldn’t help himself. I said “asshole.” I think by the time you’re 15, if you’re still picking on unrelated people who are smaller than you, you’re an asshole. You’ve set your course. Then the parents of the asshole coming after my kids…? Lots of head shaking going on over here.

I have determined that I’m going to stop thinking about that bullying problem. In fact, I’ve determined it lots of times. Then a thought or a memory or a juxtaposition or a freakin’ voice wafts over my backyard’s fenceline crux and I’m sucked back into that ridiculous evening and subsequent days of their utter desperation. I got sucked in back now because of T2’s having to sit with the consequences of his inaction (which is also an action, by the way) and his less-than-stellar middle school accomplishments. I get it: middle school stinks.

So yeah — nine months. It feels about right. The weather here is as it should be now. The sun is shining in a bright blue cloudless sky and a breeze is rustling the oak leaves above me and blowing my stray hairs into my face. It’s cooler than expected, here at almost 11 am and it’s 67˚ outside. I’ll take it. The wind in the leaves sound like “ssssssssssSSSSSSsssssssssSsssssssssssSSssssSSSSSSSsss” but not threatening, like how a snake would hiss. It reminds me of wind blowing high grasses or wheat stalks. Very peaceful.

Murphy is laying by my feet and Charlie just hopped across the yard to say hello to the doggie who lives directly behind us.

I miss the idea of Mom. I miss the projections I wished upon her more than the reality of our relationship. I find myself romanticizing at times how things were; I find myself doing what she did a lot of the time: lying to myself about how things really were. It’s hard to admit that your relationship with the Most Important Person in your life was rife with conflict, pain, fear, complexes and mistrust. I need to remember the reality though: that things were challenged and challengING because it’s where I get my strength now.

No one is perfect. I am not a perfect mother. I am reactive and abrupt and cold at times. I am also tender and compassionate. I am defiantly sober and consciously honest and a fierce advocate for my children and their rights — even against one another. That’s my legacy, or part of it.

The other part of my legacy, as Mom intoned, is in “making things softer.”

I may not be perfect, but I have band-aids, and I have wreaths. And lemonade. I have lemonade too.

The finished product:

browns, greens, butter yellows and softer pinks. good to go for another six years, i'd say.

browns, greens, butter yellows and softer pinks. good to go for another six years, i’d say.

Thank you.

The Amazing Lillian Connelly

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I have a fantastic friend I’ve never met and I recently learned that she has a relative who lives near me, so sometime in the not-too-distant future, I will be able to meet and hug and jump up and down like a schoolgirl with the Amazing Lillian Connelly at her blog, It’s a Dome Life (which she often says gets found in searches for “it’s a do me life”; I tell ya… some people…)

Lilly is an artist. I would like to say that she paints in oils, or that she’s mainly all about acrylics on canvas, or that she’s committed to watercolors, or pen and ink on parchment, but the fact is that she’s all of that. And more. She has won me over as an artist and as a friend; and her pieces that are collages, are truly, some of the most fantastic and whimsical stuff I’ve ever seen. Her colors are life-affirming; Lillian is what I would describe as an actively optimistic artist. She is fiercely happy and amazingly resilient.

The best part of what Lilly does is that she lets her darling now three-year-old daughter, Tiny-Small, get in on the action. My own mother was an illustrator and a water color artist and I’m sure she dabbled in oils because I’ve seen her art, but I was forbidden from touching her things or her pens and so I never got a chance to do what Tiny-Small is doing: growing with her mom as an artist herself.

We, these perusers of the internet, blog readers and writers, talk about relationships a lot; we have our “IRL” (in real life) friends and we have our online friends and then we have this special class: the friends we’ve made online who have patiently graced us with their trust, their humor and their wisdom in a way that no IRL person ever could.

Could it be the relative safety and distance of the internet that allows us to foster these trusts and relationships without fear? I don’t know, but I doubt it. I think for me anyway, it is a sincere and authentic meeting of the minds and true comity and friendship that engenders these relationships. Lil and I have spoken on the phone, she’s posted a video of herself and her Tiny-Small for me when the FeatherFish arrived and it melted my heart. We’ve chatted online or on our phones at least once or twice a week about ideas, art, writing, problems and it’s always a blessing. But I know this friendship is true because when I don’t talk to LC or my other online friends for a few days, I earnestly miss them. They are as important to me as the friends I have over my fence line, on the walk to school, or at the PTA meetings.

A few posts back, I wrote about the FeatherFish. Lil fell in love with them. The day prior to that, I wrote my poem about the microwave, the likes of which I have a soft spot for because my mom would write poems about food. My favorite poem of hers about food was one about linguine with clam sauce. My poem about the microwave is an homage written on the fly about the crisis we all go through at the dreaded dinner hour: what to make and how to feed the masses.

The long and short of it is that I offered to trade Lillian a set of FeatherFish for a collage made of my poem and we were off to the races. Three days later, I went to buy her FeatherFish and I wrote about it in this post; and she started her collage. About a week later I went for a row and I returned home to a package with my name on it and I was so excited when I opened it that before I could chance into something more presentable, I insisted my husband take a picture of me beside our set of FeatherFish holding the collage:

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My hair is gross under that cap. There was no way I was taking it off.

But that photo doesn’t do the collage justice. Here is a better one:

she put my name first. that was totally cool of her. but she did way more work than i did.

she put my name first. that was totally cool of her. but she did way more work than i did.

The post that Lillian wrote about her perspective of how this whole thing went down can be found here. It’s all about how she lifted the images of me and my family from my Facebook page and then grabbed the appliances from somewhere else. This little blog post isn’t as lovely as hers, but I couldn’t let another day go by without my sharing how talented she is and how lovely she is and how grateful I am that she and I found each other on Twitter one night last fall. It’s been one of the nicest things to have ever happened to me.

Thank you, Lilly.