Rewriting My Personal Script

I have had this unfolding conclusion that I do not have to accept my own mythology, my notions of limitations and inabilities, as written by others or by myself.

My first inkling of this concept was in my junior year of college.  One of the most popular electives on campus was “ballroom dancing”.  As a child, I was told indirectly that I was clumsy and uncoordinated by family nicknames that were not so endearing. I bought into it telling myself I could not do a cartwheel or any of the other physical badges of honor that young girls collect.  Still, I needed an elective and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Lo and behold I proved myself wrong.  I was doing the jitterbug, swing, rumba, waltz, and the like.  Not only was I good, but I also loved it!

A more difficult life script to rewrite was the notion of “I’m not good enough” which I dragged around since childhood like a large overstuffed suitcase (without wheels).  This one is rather toxic for the soul, especially if one is an artist or writer, like me.  It’s the one that tells me “I can’t, I’m too old, I’m too flawed, I don’t have the right training, I’m too this, too that.”

Three years ago at age 63, I decided that, no, I wasn’t too old to pick up the guitar again, traded in my old one for a lovely tenor guitar I love, and started to take lessons.  I don’t learn as quickly as in my younger years but I am so grateful I got over myself and started again.  What a joy music brings! A year before that I started to write even though, no, I was not an English major- but so what. I’ve gotten better. I have two blogs, I’ve gotten published but beyond all that I love the process. All from recrafting my story.

I found that I can rewrite that, ?YES, I am good enough and I will commit to honing my craft no matter where I am at be it as a visual artist, writer, musician or ____________.

An advantage of meditation is being able to recognize that old script playing in my head.  I can disagree with that voice in my head, “Sorry, you are so WRONG!”, show that voice the door and change the station with a positive script that reads…

Yes I can

I shall

I will

(and sometimes it is after I take a nap.)

Your story can always be edited.

If given the chance

Choose to dance

Courtesy “The Crossroads of Should & Must “by Elle Luna

The Art of Being Outdated

I find it interesting how our culture puts so much value on vintage things but not vintage people.  Elders are often dismissed. Youth is revered.  On a construction job recently a contractor told my 71-year-old husband that he was “outdated” -never mind that he finished his work smoothly and on time.

Seriously.

Us older folks? Beneath our innocuous, wrinkled, gray, balding exteriors is a wealth of experience and wisdom.  The boomers of today were the changemakers and protestors of yesteryear.  My body is more fragile now but in return is insight and wisdom.  Contentment has replaced the incessant searching of youth. With a wealth of experience comes stories to be told.  Want to be entertained?  Drum up some conversation with an older person you would otherwise ignore

I let my hair go gray during covid ready to embrace my age. Why hide it?  There is nothing to be ashamed about.  This is me, I’ve survived and I have thrived.

Then, there’s something to be said of the people that can still navigate the world when the power goes out.

Antique

Of another era

high quality

lasting value

imbued with nostalgia

more durable than

its contemporaries

rich of character

often

an exterior well worn

hinting of

hidden stories

making it precious

an artifact even

sometimes

the most valuable

obscured with

the thickest layer of dust

images by Pixabay

Stop by my other blog on sustainable living, onesweetearth.blog

Sawmill Woman- My Story for Women’s History Month

I came of age in the late 1960s/ early 1970s in the Bay Area of California.  It was the age when women started to wake up from their subjugation in the so-called mans’ world. So began a rebellion of women demanding equal rights and opportunities that continues to this day. 

In 1976 I headed up to Alaska for a summer job that morphed into a 10-year stay.  Alaska was a perfect place for an independent, outdoorsy kind of woman to break down barriers.  Nobody blinked an eye if you built a cabin, commercial fished, mushed dogs, hunted, and the like.  Then in 1978, I met with my biggest obstacle- working in a sawmill as the only woman.  This is my story…

Sawmill Woman

The 6 1/2 mile mill, Wrangell, Alaska

On the first day of my new job, I drove the 6 ½ miles out the road with a lump in my stomach. My ’63 VW bug purred around the last bend and the sawmill came into view, a hulking, half- rusted sheet metal structure belching a billowing plume of steam from a tall stack. Shrieks and clanks of machinery inside clashed with the placid water of the canal and the misty islands beyond. This was not exactly in my life plan to work at a sawmill but there were no other options to be had in the small Southeastern Alaskan island town of Wrangell. It so happened when I needed a job, the 6 ½ mile mill needed an employee and a woman at that.

Continue reading “Sawmill Woman- My Story for Women’s History Month”

This Book Changed Me

In honor of Black History Month in February, I listened to The Warmth of Other Suns, the Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. This 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning epic by Isabel Wilkerson covers the previously poorly examined great migration of African-Americans to the northern and western cities to escape the racist Jim Crow policies of the southern states from 1914 to approx 1970.

The author follows three true characters during different times and from different areas of the south as they move north and west seeking better opportunities as well as a safer environment.  She also includes a multitude of interviews from the thousands she conducted in the making of this book.

What this book did for me was to illuminate the racism of Black Americans in a way I never understood before.  Growing up in the liberal Bay Area in the 1960s and 1970s and remaining in liberal areas (predominantly white at the time) I never understood what all the fuss was about.  The Civil War was over a hundred years back.  Hadn’t people moved on?  Jim Crow?  What was that?- Maybe a paragraph in my high school history book?  Fast forward to Donald Trump and the murder of George Floyd.  Talk about a wake-up call.

After reading this book I realized that enslaved African Americans never were truly freed in the south.  Jim Crow laws enacted after the civil war ensured that they still had few rights. They could not vote or often could not earn enough money to buy land.  Black citizens were intimidated, harassed, and often lynched.  Even a move north could be life-threatening. It was difficult for me to read about the horrors inflicted by whites on black citizens.

The irony is even though the ones that escaped the South had more opportunities they dealt with their share of racism in their new homes that left many in a state of poverty to this day.  The hate and frustration still bubble- on both sides affecting policy current policy- especially in conservative states and the Republican party.

The Warmth of Other Suns is a must-read no matter what race or color you are.  It’s forced me to look at the USA in an entirely different context.  It’s very readable and well worth your time.

Sunflowers for Ukraine

Sometimes when there is a tragedy in a far-off place, the only thing one can do is perform symbolic gestures.  My family had ties to Ukraine until they fled violence 200 years ago.  Today people continue flee.  Since the invasion of Ukraine, I find solace in drawing, writing, and mending forgotten tears with a needle and thread.

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The Art of the Start

“The Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with a single step”- Lao Tsu

This is one of my favorite quotes.  It’s been a mantra for my life.  I would add to that “keep going.”

Sitting down to a blank canvas or piece of paper can be daunting. Procrastination takes over. but it’s action that inspires creative energy not necessarily the other way around. Risk is inherent for a full life and with that risk comes failure.  Any type of artist will tell you that you have to be willing to fail to learn.  Just check out their recycle bins.  Only their best work goes on display.

I just finished planting my native plant garden.  It looks very sparse right now as the plants are still sleeping awaiting the arrival of spring.  I’ve been rather awed by how this project manifested in relatively a short amount of time considering my lack of knowledge.  Like the rest of my pursuits, it started with an idea followed by one action after another.  I’m sure I have made some mistakes. So be it. Completion is my preference over perfection.

Commitment is a powerful force. The hardest part is starting and getting past the fear. I wrote this poem about it.

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The Art of Creating Refuge- Planting a Native Plant Garden

Refuge- it’s personal where one feels a sense of peace and security.  In the last few years, numerous of my natural refuges have been destroyed by wildfires, development, and clearing for agriculture. There is no stopping it. Climate change marches on despite my best efforts.  I live lightly, donate money, and write letters without the satisfaction of seeing much change.  Thus I’ve taken to the one thing I do have control over which is my own backyard. I mean that in a literal sense.

I’m starting to take one section of my yard at a time and rewilding it by putting it into a native plant garden.  I really don’t know what I am doing but thus far determination and a boatload of good advice have been enough despite my fears.  It was a big deal to have a dump truck arrive and deposit 5 yards of soil in the middle of my driveway then the following week spend over a thousand dollars on native plants. Vison is a strong force when you act on it.

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The Orchard by my House is Gone

Image by Pixabay

An excavator appears at the hazelnut orchard down at the corner.  It begins to push the orderly rows of nut trees down effortlessly shoving their abused bodies into great piles- a mass grave of sort.  After some acreage of trees is leveled, the towering piles are lit on fire.  The fires burn on into the night, great tepees of combustion throwing sparks and smoke into the sky visible from my kitchen windows.  It takes about 10 days to burn the five acres of trees to ash. 

It was a scene of mass destruction like a battlefield – wisps of smoke dotting the landscape when the fighting was finally completed, the troops in retreat, the dead removed.  All that remains now are tractor tracks crisscrossed in a field of ashen mud.

In the leafy months, the five acres of hazelnut trees offered a dark, cool refuge.  Beneath their crowns, the soil was swept clean like a pioneer cabin dirt floor. Thus the orchard was an ideal place to play in the heat of mid-day.  My young son would ride his bike among the trees while I walked the dogs off-leash. I would play hide-and-go-seek with them. The dogs would experience a moment of panic when they noticed me missing and then gallop back to proudly sniff out my still form hiding behind the trunk of a tree. On moonlit nights the orchard was especially good for spooky walks, the deep shadows creating mysterious passages to explore.

We were trespassing of course.  The property belonged to a farmer who later I was told had the trees removed as they were diseased and well beyond their prime production years. They were his to take whether the neighbors grieved or not.

I sigh.  The trees in that orchard had been steadfast neighbors for going on 30 years of my residence in this house. I miss them just as I miss the once quiet roads and the woodlands that have been cut down for the vineyards that now cover the rolling hills in their place.

Change follows me like a shadow that blocks the sun.  It comes and goes at will through a door with no lock.  The fires of the orchard’s demise still burn in my memory. Sky now meets ground unfettered where the orchard once stood.  The hills in the distance are oddly naked. I light a candle at my table to keep myself steady.

Authors note:  It’s been a time of great change these last few years for all of us.  Covid, climate change, social and political divides have all taken a toll. Then there are the changes we face in our everyday life How do we cope?  I write, meditate, make art, listen to music, and light a candle every evening.

Of Doodles, Designs, and Valentines

Every now again, one of my doodles becomes the star of a greeting card- or even a zine. I’ve been making my own cards for years now and have found an amazing amount of material by mining my sketchbooks or my doodle journal.  Animals, especially cats, are prime subjects but then I’ve also focused on teapots and Isosceles triangles.  Anything can be copy in the right context.  

Lately, a series of valentines morphed from my sketchbook.  I decided to sell them to help fund the native plant garden that I just started in my yard.  I took a design from my sketchbook, copied, cleaned it up, photographed it, put it into my graphics program, and then printed them four per sheet of paper.  From there I cut them out and glued them onto good quality kraft paper card stock. 

See them or even buy them on my Etsy site.  You might be too late for next year (even though I can put a note from you inside and send them on) or be uber prepared for next year!

all artwork by the author

Visit my blog on sustainabiliity at oneswetearth.blog

The Art of Capturing Memories and Inspirations

sketch from my journal

My only big regret in life is that I didn’t take the time to document my experiences more.  I’ve kept a journal on and off since I was 16, which is admiral, but I wish I had expanded my entries to snippets of sensory experience and fascinations other than just emotional spew.  But, in my defense, I was a teenager and  I avoided language arts classes finding them tedious.

Looking back even recording one thing that made my day would have been such a precious collection to look back on.  No one told me then that those little vignettes from my life in Alaska, raising my son, and those hilarious “kids say the darndest things” moments teaching 6th-grade science would be so longed for. Of course, I have hundreds of photos but without some words as accompaniment, they are incomplete memories. I was always too busy, thinking I would remember everything.  Then “poof” those clear memories vanish like steam.  The same goes with some solution to a nagging problem or those creative inspirations I get as I drift off to sleep.

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