I recently divorced Instagram. This last year or so was the big social media Instagram experiment. Almost everyday I posted the off-the-cuff doodles I draw on the right side of my day planner under my tag @almostdailydoodle (still there!) The upside is that it makes a tidy little record of my innocuous art online. The downside is how much time Instagram was sucking from my life with all the posting, checking, liking. I thought I was above all that- I guess not.
Doodling is my morning creativity workout. It has become my main art form as of late, downshifting from ceramics and printmaking. It is fun to show my art now and again so I thought I would post them here occaisionally and see how it goes in a blog format.
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.
From my journal. After a few years I’ve realized that the “new abnormal” is the new normal. As if the old normal wasn’t challenging enough! Here are my strategies to navigate this ever changing world, subject to change of course.
Two years ago I started a daily doodle practice after challenging myself to do something artful every day. I’ve written about this before on this blog but I thought it worthy to bring around again being the New Year .
I decided about the only thing I could successfully commit to doodle in the 2” square of my day planner since it wasn’t being utilized for anything else. The ground rules I made- use pen, no erasing, no self-criticism, go back over it later and add to it if you want. Be spontaneous and just see what comes up. Often I only see the merits of an entry until I let it sit for a day or weeks later. Sometimes I take the previous day’s idea and make a different version of it.
(Another take on my knee injury a couple posts back…)
The doctor reviews my MRI and informs me it’s a wear injury- a polite way of saying you’re getting old. The cartilage in my knee has worn thin from age and a simple turned ankle on a hike tore the meniscus which led to a stress fracture to the head of my femur. “Stay off your knee for 4 months, non-weight bearing- crutches. Watch that left hip. It shows low bone density. Don’t gain weight. We’ll go from there. No surgery, no easy fixes. See you after the first of the year.” Appointment concludes. Crabby surgeon departs. I remain in a state of shock.
What the doctor didn’t tell me is how to cope with this loss, this massive change in my life- no walking and no clear path to recovery, no dangling hope. All he sees is the injury and not the humanity surrounding it. The quick fix laparoscopic surgery I expected disintegrated into months of recovery with no clear resolution. My world shrinks from a universe to the size of an orange. Will I get to walk or hike with my friends again? Will I ever again see the tips of my cross-country skis cut through sparking snow?
Every day humans are faced with diagnoses, injuries, and other nasty things that upend their lives instantly. It can be a lonely path to navigate. Every day you’ve got to stave off the demons and keep on going, reframe your life, lower your expectations. For me being a highly creative person and very goal-oriented, this is a challenge. My big native plant garden project? – canceled until further notice. Travel? I don’t think so. Grocery shopping, housework? NO. Cook?- barely. This is my first major injury in six decades of living. I am such a beginner
After weeks of flapping my wings against my cage, I’ve had to revise my life.
Focus on what I can do…
Get a new doctor (check)
Ride my bike
Clean out some drawers
I have to remember to ask for help (hard).
I have to permit myself to pamper myself- hire a housekeeper, get a massage, buy audiobooks, get a therapist. (hard)
Be humble- I just ordered a wheelchair as my back aches from weeks of crutches.
I have to allow myself some days of just being pathetic even though I know things could be worse. (easy)
I emerged from the doctor’s office that day feeling my mortality diminished
Behind the fabulous raft trip in my previous post was my knee injury I had sustained last spring on a hike by twisting my ankle on a rock. The “no big deal” turned into months of pain.
My orthopedic surgeon told me not to go.”I’m going “ I told him. He looked at me sternly and said “be sure you have someone help you in and out of the raft.” No worries. In my mind, my knee was already shot. Why stay home and be depressed while missing a trip of a lifetime. Plus, it’s hard to injure yourself by watching the scenery go by in a raft. Yes, there was that white water kayaking but I am experienced and the guides took care of all the camp chores. No regrets. ( I did purchase that Life Flight insurance beforehand, though.)
The MRI results came in after the trip- worse than I thought. I had a stress fracture in the head of my femur and a fully torn medial meniscus in my left knee. My doctor said he didn’t think he could do anything for me. WHAT? “Stay off of it for four months and see me after the first of the year.” Now I had already been severely impacted for months and this news was devastating. I thought I’d have laparoscopic surgery and then presto!-be good as new.
Having a serious injury or illness is a humbling experience. One day you’re fine and the next your life is turned upside down and full of pain. Walks are a thing of the past. Daily chores seem monumental. Currently, I’m hobbling around on crutches hoping that the new doctor I will see soon is more creative and compassionate than my former one.
I’ve had numerous traumas in my life – “black holes” I call them, fraught with frightening unknowns. This qualifies as one. Will I get my life back anytime soon? To get out of black holes it helps me to use a whitewater kayaking analogy. It’s the same skillset I use in a big rapid but it also works to keep me from psychologically tipping over.
Gather my confidence.
Have on all my safety gear but rather than a helmet, floatation vest, first-aid kit, and a rope bring along friends and family, a journal, meditation, and spirituality.
Research the river ahead of time – research the condition. Don’t rely on the medical profession to explain everything..
Keep up my momentum – my boat is more stable than I think.
Go with the flow.
If I tip over, hang onto my boat and paddle, find an eddy, and rest before getting back in. It’s hard to be up all the time.
Last year I was looking for a daily creative practice that I could stick to. I was not much of a sketcher or morning pager. I needed something kind of short and sweet. Then I noticed the 2’ blank square in my 2020 day planner. Not much going on there but a few spillovers from my to-do list. I committed to filling up those square every day with a doodle or something creative. The ground rules are to use pen and have no judgement on what I come up with. Spontaneity is key.
Fast forward over a year later- my day planner practice is my creative kick start to the day. Not only does it get my pen to the paper in a nonthreatening way, I have created an artifact of my life to look back on though this crazy time of Covid and political craziness. Mostly I create a daily doodle, a weather report, a cartoon, quote, poem or something about my life with words and/or pictures. It’s been an evolving practice. Some have become finished pieces, most I don’t appreciate until I look back at them.
This year, 2021 I couldn’t find the same day planner so I made my own. I purchased a simple blank spiral sketchbook and glued some decorative paper. I customized it for words of the year and monthly goals and then grid out each week as they come along. At first I measured but now I just eyeball it letting the lines be as wonky as they want to be for interest.
My planner is now less about what I need to do but how I need to be…creative and fully alive, paying attention to the inspiration each day has to offer. I highly recommend trying out this daily practice.
Some sort of publication, usually mass-produced by photocopying(in some cases, scanned, put on the ‘net, or copied via fax)on any range of topics, but usually filled with passion. A means of telling one’s story, sharing thoughts, and/or artwork/comics/doodles.
The instructor for the Zine lesson of my year-long Words & Pictures class made a 16 page zine of his favorite mustards. Now there’s a quirky idea. How could I top my favorite mustards?
I took a look back in my sketchbook and came across some silly doodles of triangles. The triangle doodles eventually morphed into silly triangle birds. Then I noticed that all the triangles happened to be isosceles triangles (two sides of equal length). Hmm. How about if I made a zine just about silly things made up from isosceles triangles. Thus I went about writing and publishing my first zine, The Isosceles Triangle Illuminated.
This was a perfect pandemic project. I had a hilarious time brainstorming and drawing my triangle ideas. The hardest part was correctly photocopying the back to back so the pages would be in the correct order. Instead of Holiday cards, I sent them out to friends for a good laugh.
Want one of my isosceles triangle zines? Use my contact page and for only $5.51 I will send you one!
This little ditty was inspired by another blogger who had taken the time to read my post on Escaping Perfectionism and liked it. So I returned the visit (he has a very nice blog by the way). In his ABOUT page he said hecould not draw a straight line. This got me to thinking about this commonly said phrase implying one has no artistic talent. Exactly, what is so great about drawing a straight line? What a boring thing to aspire to. This one is for you Cristian!