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.
Being a creative soul, my brain is constantly mulling over new ideas and possibilities for my visual art and writing. Being absent-minded really means not being mindful of the reality is in front of me in exchange for the reality I’m experiencing in my brain. My head is often somewhere in the clouds growing flowers. A really annoying side effect of that part of the creative mindset is losing things- constantly. I’m working on it.
A few years ago I welded a piece from junk objects I call ” The Goddess of Lost Things.”On her arms, I hang earrings and I have lost in hopes they will return to me (there have been mixed results). Her headdress is made from a rusted pair of garden clippers, some kind of plumbing fitting for her head and various bits of this and that I came across for her body.
This month”s prompt for “The Nuthatch Society,” My petite writing group was “loss,” a topic that can be explored so many ways. Rather than the serious side of loss, I chose this everyday part of my life.
Where the Lost Things Are
Tucked in burrows, sheltered from the obligations of daily use
I imagine they are gathered
Possessions I once held in my grasp that broke free and claimed their independence
The khaki hat I wore on the Camino de Santiago, left at a resting stop under a tree
How I missed its wide brim as my eyes squinted and my brow perspired under the Spanish sun- such a lucky find for another pilgrim
My prescription sunglasses in a case of mustard yellow, guaranteed to catch my eye, my name address & phone number in black sharpie on the back
No strategy foolproof
The red leather wallet lost years ago that fit so easily in my pants pocket. Where are you little one?
Earrings – always my most cherished
The mates, now single, put into service as zipper pulls, charms, and bling for art projects in memory of when they made such a darling couple
Hats, headbands & gloves fallen from pockets on ski trails through snowy woods- usually the ones hand-knitted by dear friends
Sets of car keys
The scarf that dropped from my neck as I walked through the bonny highlands of Scotland
Then the myriad of expensive striped wool socks that enter the wash as pairs and then exit a party of one
At times the lost return by chance or effort
Like my favorite watch of silver and turquoise from Santa Fe
But not before I bought a replacement on Ebay
Now I have a spare
In the end, it’s the curiosity that haunts me, the perplexing questions of how, when and where the lost were lost
Questions I would like to be answered complete with videos and maps before I die
Have the socks and earrings joined in more diverse pairings?
What new adventures did my khaki hat have?
Unsolved mysteries that will most likely remain as such
But for now blessings to all my lost possessions
Thank you for your service and blessings to the finder if there was a lucky soul
It’s the growing season and my garden is being planted in stages. I marvel at the magic of seeds- how something so small can germinate to become a huge sunflower or a plant that offers juicy red tomatoes.
With the exceptions of weeds, seeds cannot manage successfully on their own in a garden. The soil must be tilled and enriched. Then once the seeds have been planted they must be nurtured with proper watering and attention lest they be eaten by some pest or choked by weeds. It’s work to bring seeds to their full potential of flower or food.
Ideas are so much like seeds. The soil of the mind must be fallow and fertile. To have a fallow mind, one must be open and ready to receive the seeds of ideas. Fertile means paying attention and being open. Ideas often come when the mind is relaxed like when you’re taking a shower, on a walk or doing something innocuous like washing the dishes. Having a head full of earbuds and social media is not conducive to collecting seeds the muse has to offer.
When they come, catch them by writing or sketching them in a notebook less they blow away into someone else’s “garden”. Then give them the attention they need to germinate.
Like seeds, not all ideas will manifest. Some are not viable. Then others are past their shelf life. Don’t be afraid to throw them out and get new ones.
I’ve had ideas like these artichoke plants that surprised me and grew into something much more than I expected. I started these plants last year from tiny seeds and now they are 6-foot record-setting monsters!
You don’t have to plant a garden. Just get a pot with healthy soil, some seeds, water them, and enjoy the magic of germination.
I’m always staying tuned for ideas (see my post “Where my Ideas Come From” ) but sometimes they pursue me- relentlessly. Think about wild birds flapping in your head endlessly or like someone tugging on your apron strings constantly. Yes, the ruckus will go away eventually, but not entirely. The inspiration will just go to someone else to be manifested and then pretty soon your muse will give up on you all together and you will be very lonely.
There is a magic in the creative process. When I am totally in the “zone,“ it seems as though some divine force plants a seed of inspiration into my psyche & leads me on a journey to bring from the ethos something new & different into the world. Generally I need to be in a space where I am fully present- at least with my own thoughts. I don’t necessarily have to be in my studio. Often inspiration comes on a walk or doing something as innocuous as washing dishes or weeding the garden. At this point it is important for me to get the idea either in process immediately or at least written down, for inspiration can be as ephemeral as fairy dust in a breeze.
Sometimes I must plant a seed myself if nothing has been offered from above. I keep a list of concepts that fascinate me. For example, a few of my favorites are migration, germination, metamorphosis & salmon. I will make a list of every sub-concept I can think of that has to do with that topic, pick a few & then tie them together into a piece. The Illustrations that are shown in this post are from a triptych titled “The Spirit of Ghost Ranch.” In these mixed media pieces, my goal was to embody different aspects of Ghost Ranch Retreat Center in Northern New Mexico where I visit to take art classes & spiritually recharge most summers.
Then there are times I must “prime the pump” for ideas. One of my favorite hunting grounds is “Pinterest.” I can get inspiration from other artists & pin them to my own “board” for reference https://www.pinterest.com/wildntotions/. One of the beauties of the Pinterest algorithm is that it will suggests similar pins that may be of interest to you, leading you down a rabbit hole of endless possibilities. I can also prowl about blogs, and storefront galleries as well. My go to guide when I am in a rut is the book, “Steal Like an Artist,” By Austin Kleon. It’s maybe an hour read and so very encouraging
and inspirational. If you need a tow truck, this is your go to guide. I refer to it over and over again.
For the most part I work intuitively. I just start putting down a scrap of paper, a stencil, a swish of paint, sentence , or start to work a lump of clay as bait for my muse. Once I start down the creative path, I follow the breadcrumbs that she has left to tell me where to go next. I know that if I am tired or stressed it not the right time for creative work- just like you don’t plant tender seedlings in bad weather. Now it’s time to do something mindless & let my subconscious work in the background.
It’s all a mesmerizing journey of faith but it works- if you give yourself permission to let go & play.