Tag Archives: art

Retirement

I retired officially, in December 2015. In the past  year I have learned a few things about myself.

1. My Social Security check ain’t enough.

Well, duh. I knew that going in. I knew I would have to find something part-time to bridge the gap. My SS check covers the bills. The bills that come every month no matter what, the bills that must be paid if I want to avoid living under a bridge. But, as we all know, there are ALWAYS other things that must be paid for. Tires. Car repairs. Art supplies. Books.

2: I love being at home. All the time.

I have a quiet, peaceful little life. The more time I spend on my own, with just my cats for company, the better I like it. I dread going to the grocery store, but look forward to time spent at the library. Eventually, I realized a part-time job might be a good idea if I didn’t want to end up a caricature of the anti-social “old cat lady.”

  1. I love winter…now that I don’t have to drive in it.

My new part-time job is going to be tricky this year, because I am still adamant about not going out in icy weather. The chance of wrecking the car and injuring myself is NOT worth any job. I had to do it before; I don’t now. Last year, I stayed home in January and February. I watched it snow, heard sleet on the roof, listened to the winter birds call. I drank a lot of hot tea, read a lot of books, did some drawing, hand sewing, watched Netflix (my new guilty pleasure) and petted my cats. They spent hours in my lap, purring while I nursed my tea and watched The Walking Dead. I still got out and walked every day, but I waited for the temperature to rise to 40.

  1. Relaxation training.

I don’t actually know how to relax, apparently. I find myself getting anxious for no reason. I flit from one project to another, frantically trying to find the one that will SELL. If I wake up and there is light coming through the windows I panic, thinking I’m late. If I’m sitting on the deck, watching the birds on the trees, I’m good for about 5 minutes. Then I start fretting, thinking I should be doing some mending, or drawing, or reading…something productive. Something I can SELL. I get up and make myself sit back down, force myself to continue to watch the birds and BREATHE. Relaxation depends a lot on breathing, I’ve learned. I finally figured out that a lifetime of poverty has trained me to worry about money. Not relax. And I think constantly about what’s going to happen to take away my new freedom.  I hold my breath every time I get in the car, hoping it will start. Actually, I find myself holding my breath while I’m driving anywhere, fearful that someone will run into me, wreck the car and a new financial apocalypse will be upon me. This is not a joke.

  1. I love playing.

I’ve wanted to experiment with so many art forms, all my life, but there never seemed to be enough time, or money. Since I retired, I have spent embarrassing amounts of money on art supplies and books. (Which has added to my anxiety about money. See above.) Instead of working on things that I’m pretty sure will sell, I’ve been playing. I spent time with Papier Mache. It’s a great medium, but it gets so humid here in the late summer that drying things, and KEEPING them dry, is a challenge. I played with shrink plastic-another fun medium and I made some interesting, lovely jewelry. I may keep working with that, but I just wanted to experiment with other stuff, so I have a lot of jewelry and bits and piece of projects sitting in my little plastic bins until I’m ready to get back to them. Now I’m knee deep in polymer clay. I’ve messed around with this off and on forever, but now I’m doing more than ever before. Still nothing to sell… My brain is turning over ideas and designs when I should be falling off to sleep at night so that’s a good sign.

  1. I am not drawing like I should be. Or writing.

These two activities have sustained me all my life. What is with the sudden lack of activity in the two things that I love most? I think (hope) it’s because I have time I never had before. Poverty is still with me, and I doubt seriously that will ever change, but time…time has become something entirely new to me. I’m still not used to it. Suddenly I’m not on deadline. I don’t have to get this or that done in the next hour. My hours are my own. I’m off the leash. I’m wildly running through tall grass, leaping at butterflies. Every time I set myself a schedule a little part of me says..I don’t want to!

Maybe all this freedom has scared me. All these years I’ve been convinced if I had the time I could make something, or write something, that would provide me with a living. Well, here it is! And still I run through the tall grass and leap at butterflies. I know me, and success was never in the cards. I never believed I would succeed at anything and I’ve been right. Yeah, probably more than a little self-sabotage going on there, and now is the time to rectify that. But I‘m still running and leaping. So instead of doing the 2 things I know I can do I’m playing with everything else. Is that a good thing or a self-sabotage thing? I honestly don’t know. I could make arguments for either opinion.

I struggle with anxiety every day. I have trouble with my entire digestive process. This is what goes first with me when I’m upset, anxious. There are days I can’t swallow. Some days, EVERYTHING gives me heartburn or sits in my stomach like a brick. I have trouble swallowing WATER. It has eased off some since I took this part-time job. I’m starting a fund for another car. Until then, I still hold my breath and hope the car will start, or that it won’t suddenly STOP while I’m driving. I hope it will get me to work and back home. I guess that’s the last big problem. For someone who is poor, a decent car is a huge problem, so don’t sniff and say, “is that all you have to worry about?”  I’ve got plenty of other stuff to worry about…swallowing, for one.

In the meantime, I’m reading. And reading. And reading. I’m reading Val McDermid and Elizabeth George crime thrillers…and slowly making my way through The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich. I am! I’m reading for hours sometimes. Oh, that’s truly liberating.

I’m watching all the movies I ever wanted to watch. Yes, I have a list of books and movies and I’m slowly checking them off. I’m watching Netflix. I’m relieved to know the term “binge watching” wasn’t invented just for me. Hey, I’m retired. I can binge watch without guilt…it’s part of my relaxation training.

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And I am making art. I know, I know, not as much as I should.. I found these chairs ages ago and recently came across a small table that fit perfectly between them. SO, after weeks and weeks of cleaning and sanding and cleaning and more sanding I started to draw. I call it my “bistro set.” There should be better pictures of this, and as soon as I can afford them, I’ll replace these. But look, I’m making art!

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Gallery

New photos of previously published art. Eli Warren, photographer and graphic artist, has been photographing my work for years. When I took my own pictures because of time constraints or money issues, I always regretted it. Good photography is so important. Now we’re back on track and I have these new shots to illustrate my work. Thank you, Eli! Go to his website for more beautiful art.
eliwarren.com
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mermaid
desk,back

desk.detail

desk.drawer.open

mermaid.desk

Process

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I listened to a song “The Climb” recently and it started me thinking. (After I stopped laughing about the singer, someone so young and privileged I doubt they have a clue about a real climb. Anyway.

I thought longer and harder about “the climb.” What does it really mean? Is life a climb? A process? Is that why so many people are so miserable when they don’t get what they want immediately (including me?)

“Maybe it depends on what it is you’re seeking,” says Tonya, one therapist I spoke with. “When you have unrealistic expectations, you set yourself up for disappointment.”

“So what are realistic expectations?” I asked, searching for definitive answers.

“If you don’t have a degree in Business Administration, and no actual working management experience, it isn’t realistic to apply for a CEO position in a Fortune 500 corporation,” Tonya explained, “But if you’ve made an effort to educate yourself beyond just acquiring a degree, pursued a specific career goal, then you can use that to show your unique initiative when you apply for a management position. You have to make decisions about what you ultimately want-not just more money, and all right now.”

“OK, I see how that applies to job seekers, but what about happiness?”

“Happiness isn’t a destination, its part of the journey, like sadness, frustration, hunger, joy, anxiety…the journey of life is a process.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means that you can’t have everything you want right this minute, and that’s not a bad thing.” Tonya smiled as she explained.

Savor the process, another person told me. He’s an artist and is working on something all the time.
“I don’t worry about how long it takes me to finish a painting,” he says, “I like the feel of the brush on the canvas. I like mixing paints. I like stretching canvas. I love the process. If you don’t love process, you’re going to be frustrated with most things in life, I think.”

“Think about process in everything,” a new mother told me, “I get up in the middle of the night to a crying baby, a terrible odor. I never get a ‘thanks for my bottle, Mom,’ when I stumble into my baby’s bedroom at 2am. I listen to his wails and I’ve learned to identify the difference between ‘I’m hungry, I’m wet, I’m lonesome and what’s going on out there?’ And I love it all because I accept the process. My other child, my 5 year old daughter, helps me prepare dinner, change the baby, plant vegetables, feed the cats… and no, it isn’t as fast as I could do it myself, but she’s learning to be a person, not just a creature that needs entertainment! She drops things in the kitchen. and we clean it up together. I don’t have to have everything perfectly aligned, or just so. My children depend on me to teach them how to be independent, responsible human beings. Nothing significant happens in an instant. I make myself stop occasionally, even when I’m changing a diaper, and consciously acknowledge what I’m doing. That’s how I figured out what process means.”

So now, I am actively catching myself “in process.” I don’t try to hurry up and get dinner on the table. I cut the vegetables and boil water for tea and think about what foods taste good with what other foods. I experiment. That also means I miss a lot of TV. On purpose. Life is not TV. I’m watching and listening, I’m paying attention. Process means paying attention. It’s interesting, this idea of process. It makes almost every activity more interesting, more meaningful. It also reduces stress because I’m not panicking.

I even manage work better- I’m paying attention to what I’m doing, not thinking about what I have to do next. At first, I’m slower because it’s a new behavior, but I eventually become faster because I’m focused. And I enjoy everything a lot more. At the end of the day, I feel a sense of accomplishment rather than feeling that I hadn’t done enough. Process means there will always be more to do.

This week, make a conscious effort to stop what you’re doing-whatever you’re doing-at least once a day and really pay attention. Listen to your wife, husband, children. Really listen, don’t try to formulate answers while they’re talking. Look at the color of their hair, the way their mouth shapes the words. At least once this week stop and experience the process of life, of living. It’s over much too quickly.

Happy Cat!

common%20ground%20jan%20copyThis is the newest ad in The Laurel of Asheville. My Kitty looks so happy-he’s famous now. Check him out at Common Ground.

New Year, New Art

Some new art-paper mache cats! I’m working on other paper mache projects, as well as other art, but I thought these were so cute you’d all enjoy seeing them.IMG_6246

Who doesn’t love a purple cat?

I have more cats, and more coming. I even have a nice big kitty with a tiny mouse pal.

This big kitty wears an allover design that is as pretty front as back. Like all cats, he doesn’t want to be set aside, he wants to be front and center!

IMG_6245IMG_6242IMG_6241The group at bottom is my first Mache family, but they have cousins arriving soon!

End of the world

Today is December 21, the official Mayan end of the world…and it’s snowing in Mars Hill, NC. Well, it’s snowing a little. We might get an inch. I’m glad I decided to stay home and work on writing and art rather than risk getting out on these wendy-windy, hilly, icy roads. An inch doesn’t sound like much but it’s enough if you’re going downhill on a curve nd you hit a patch of ice…and there’s no shoulder, just a  sheer drop. I won’t tempt the end of the world theory by getting out on dangerous mountain back roads.

I’ve been hearing “It’s the end times!!” all my freakin’ life. Really. I’m 59. How can people continue to be scared of something that never happens? Are our memories (as a species) that short? I guess so. Every year-EVERY YEAR-I hear people saying, in surprise, “It was so cold a couple of weeks ago and I got out my coats and gloves and now this week is so warm! Now I’ve got to get out my short-sleeved shirts again! What is with this weather?” Jesus Christ, it’s called Indian Summer and it happens EVERY YEAR. Every year it gets cold, then warms up, then settles down to being cold for the winter.  During the winter, here in the South, we’ll have several cold days, then a couple of warm days. In my hometown, 70 on Christmas day is not unheard of. Here in the mountains, it’s cold. Cold and icy and snowy. And peppered among the really cold days are relatively warm days. So, why are people continually surprised about the weather? Maybe people simply don’t go outside enough. Anyway, I figure those are the same people who will give you big lectures about the “endtimes”-even though those are the same dire warnings I’ve been hearing my entire life.

My own personal end times will get here eventually, and those are the only end times I spend my energy on, and I suggest you all do the same. Live your life. Yes, go Zen on yourself and everyone else and appreciate the moment you’re in. Make sure you stop, several times every day, and just experience whatever is going on. Even if it’s painful. Sometimes feeling the pain is better than resisting it or denying it. Experience your work. Stop and look at what you’re doing, even if it seems mindless and boring. Remind yourself that this moment, honestly, this particular moment is IT. None of us are guaranteed anything-not tomorrow, not 20 years from now, not this afternoon. So stop and make sure you aren’t missing the moments of your life. We don’t know how many there are going to be.

I had a boyfriend once who was constantly letting me down. Once, we were supposed to drive to the mountains for the day-I lived somewhere else then-and he changed his mind when I called to remind him. He didn’t feel like it, he said, he wanted to stay home and watch TV. When I pointed out that he’d done this each time we were supposed to take a day trip he laughed  and said “Oh, there’ll be other Saturdays, get over it.” I lost it then. I told him I was going to the mountains for the day, I was leaving at 8am and if he wanted to go, he was welcome, but I wasn’t staying home. When I got home the next night (yes, I went alone and had a great time!) he was astounded and upset that I had been gone all day. He was worried, he said, what if something had happened? I said the only thing that had happened was I realized I had no idea how many Saturdays I had and I wasn’t going to waste them watching TV with him. You may have figured out by now that I also decided I wasn’t going to waste any more of them on him. I didn’t and now when I really want to do something, I figure out a way to do it.

Here’s a quote I ran across the other day that made all kinds of lights go off in my head. I hope it helps you:

“Walker, there is no path; the path is made by walking.” Antonio Machado.

So walk already.

Gallery

My current gallery, check back often. I’m always workingcommon%20ground%20oct%20copy common%20ground%20oct%20night.windowred toddler.chair.4 toddler.chair.3 teapot_3 teapot_4

Mermaid

Mermaid

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Mermaid Desk front view

Mermaid Desk front view

teapot.4 teapot.3 teapot.2 stool.top.2 dragon.con2 dragon.can petal.bowl.2 duck.2 duck.1 These range in size from 3" long, .5" wide to 4" wide and 2.5" long. They all use knotted cord. I don't use any special clasps. I think this jewelry looks better with the plain cord. screen treasurebox2.LR oillamp.LR orangeinside.LR jeweledpot.LR

copper pot

copper pot

Blue cannonball pot

Blue cannonball pot

Joy in every language frames the images that are special to Susan. The circel includes a dolphin, a butterfly, a black cat, a crane, hearts and flowers

Joy in every language frames the images that are special to Susan. The circel includes a dolphin, a butterfly, a black cat, a crane, hearts and flowers

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Pieces of gourd that are always left over I draw on. I use them for Jewlery, decorations for pots, etc.

Pieces of gourd that are always left over I draw on. I use them for Jewlery, decorations for pots, etc.

Dargonfly potpourri and decorated pot

Dargonfly potpourri and decorated pot

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