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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What is Art, Anyway

One of the things I've been doing to get my life back after years of caregiving is to try to get my creativity back. There have always been creative outlets. There have always been bits and pieces of stuff that I did. I was an amazing needlewoman. I tried almost every kind I'd ever heard of. And mostly I made very nice looking stuff. But you would never have known it from my house. There wasn't a quilt showing and only one, rather small, cross stitch picture. There weren't even sweaters in the house. They had all be given away. And everything else was hidden in drawers.

One of the creative outlets I spent a lot of time on in the past was digital scrapbooking. I did print out my pages, but they went into books, so they weren't ever out where I could see them.

The problem with caregiving is that in the end everything stops. You lose all of your interests. There is no time, but mostly no energy, to do anything but take care of the person who is sick. That is one thing when the caregiving is short term. You can put your life on hold for 6 months or a year, but not for a decade. If you try to do that, you stop having a life. It is one of the reasons caregivers die, frequently before the patient does.

So I really did need to get my life back. I needed to be interested in something again. I did a lot of self help books, and all of them helped a little, but then I found The Artist's Way, and everything changed. 

I'm not sure how long I've been working through the Complete Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Months. There are three books that were bound together in a single, rather heavy, hard cover book. I'm into the third one. You are supposed to take a week for each "chapter" and there are 12 to a book. I haven't done that. Some chapters took more than a week, others less. No question that the system in that set of books has unblocked me.

But one of the first things that happened was that I started finishing things. Quilts got quilted and bound. Pillow tops that had been sitting in drawers became pillows. And I started new projects as well, and finished some of them too. If you look at my house now, there are things I made in several rooms. And more to come.

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about Art, with a capital A. And thinking of me and Art. And I'm not sure what it really is, but I am having a pretty good time experimenting with stuff.

This blog is part of the experiment. It came to me while I was writing my Morning Pages that I wanted to write something more permanent than emails and forum posts. I didn't want to write a book. I'm not ready to write books. But I could write things that were shorter. Things like blog posts.

Morning Pages are three (or more) hand written pages of stream of conscious journaling done first thing in the morning. She asks a lot of questions in the book, and I do dip into the book most days towards the end of the journaling period. She didn't intend the book to be a grief therapy book, but it ended up being that too, because those are frequently pretty hard questions. They are the easy part of The Artist's Way system. I have a lot more trouble with Artist's Dates, but I understand everyone does.

Right now, my creative outlet is working on the slide show for Joe's Memorial Service. I want it ready so it doesn't have to be thought about when the time comes. I'm enjoying working with the photos, but it is also very hard to see those happier times. I'm taking regular breaks.

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