The Skjald

I found this quote I had pulled from a book I read and written out way back in 2010, and I wanted to share it.

“The skjald is,” he says, “the chosen lookout of life who must reveal from his mountain what he sees at life’s deep fountain. When gripped by his vision,” he says further, the skjald is “neither quiescent nor lifeless but, on the contrary, lifted up into an exceptional state of sensitiveness in which he sees and feels things with peculiar vividness and power. I know of nothing in this material world to which the skjald may more fittingly be likened than a tuned harp with the wind playing upon it.”  The hymnist Gruntvig quoted in Hymns and Hymnwriters of Denmark by JA Aaberg.

The skjald in Danish is a poet but moreso, one who speaks truth of the surrounding world even when others don’t want to hear it, or in ways that others can’t always understand.  It is a definition difficult to translate into English, but I love this metaphor of a tuned harp being played by the wind.  I feel very connected with this entire description.

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A Dip Into My Past

This past week, while waiting for people and on mini breaks at work, I read through my blog from the very beginning, way back in 2012. It was an interesting trip back for me. Eye opening, and very helpful in finally honing in on the next direction of my life.

The first few years of doing this blog focused a lot on writing as that was what I was prepping for release into the world. I also kept talking about music and art projects that I wanted to tackle. And I really miss having projects that I am passionate about. I miss all parts of that process.

I also posted my dream schedule of balancing parenting with being a freelance creator, and I am so far from that dream at the moment, it is laughable. Working full time (plus) in theater left me with barely any other creative time, let alone quality parenting time, and while the job was fulfilling in different ways before the leadership shift and it gave me the stability to get a mortgage and health insurance to have my 2nd child, I was so much happier when I was only working part time for them. Then going back into a different full time position doing bridal alterations has been draining in a very different way, and because of the hours the shop is open, even though I am physically working less hours, I still feel like I never get to see my kids or create anything extra. Especially since I’m still self-healing from last year. I feel all this pent up creative force longing to burst forth though.

So, the goal for the past couple of months now has been to be freelancing by the end of the year and becoming the at-home parent. Once that happens, I will still do some alterations. I will do some costuming work too as it comes up and as I can find time to do it. But I want to focus the bulk of my energies on my kids and on creating my own work again. I need to feel that passion for creating that I get sucked out of me by scraping myself dry through overwork.

Secret Arts and Crafts

There was a time, long ago, where I made gifts for everyone. Then I started getting more involved with career and trying to earn money via my creativity, and I pushed myself to let my work shine and promote my stuff every chance I got. This was really important to making myself feel like a “real” artist. But it also put a lot of pressure on me to have the end goal in mind and my work suffered.

Now, with my creative time coming just in little chunks, I’ve dipped back into the past. I have started doing sketches or making little things and sending them to friends as a token of appreciation or just to say I care. I don’t take pictures, I don’t show anyone outside my house, I just create and let it go. It’s been freeing, to say the very least.

Going forward, I want to strike this balance between play and work more and more, until hopefully they will be one and the same. We  shall see how it goes.

Life and Love and Creativity

I have been absent again from posting here lately. The baby has been teething and starting her one year growth spurt, and I have also snuck away on a few short trips with the family, visiting the 1000 Islands and Buffalo/Niagara Falls. It is so much work to travel with kids, but the time with friends and getting close to nature was well worth the effort. I feel more grounded, more accepting of the current state of affairs in my life, and ready to allow myself to expand again after feeling retracted for so long.

My time to create has been so short, and this was one of the biggest things I had to come to terms with. Almost all my efforts right now are going into creating my sister’s wedding dress and jewelry. The only writing I’ve been doing lately is an occasional email or letter, and I haven’t had any time for music or painting. Because my energies are being poured into my family and into the work that allows us to survive, and that is where they need to be right now. Because the love I have for my family and the joy I experience witnessing my children grow makes the sacrifices worthwhile.

All this to say that my creativity is not gone; the fire has merely been stoked, waiting the right opportunity to blaze once again. In the meantime, I will guard my embers and feed them as I may.

 

Taking Responsibility for My Life Path

I’ve still been feeling rather stuck on where I want to grow next creatively and career-wise in life. There are excuses, some more valid than others (lack of sleep due to baby – very valid excuse), but I realized lately that I’ve partially been sitting around waiting for some signs from the universe. Aside from allowing myself to be trapped in an office job for about a year and a half longer than I should have let myself be back in the early 2010s, my life path has always progressed organically. I’ve mentioned before that I decide I really want to try something out, and it happens. Opportunities come up and I take them, and they may not be specifically what I had planned, but things progress. I work my butt off, gain experience, and that’s what life is for me. Taking opportunities as they come. But before I decide I want to do something, I spend an insane amount of time hemming and hawing and waiting for a nudge or hint that I’m doing the right thing. Sometimes I get involved with very serious doubts on whether it’ll be good in the long run but just trust that I’m meant to be at certain places at certain times. A healthy way to live life, I think, but I’m pretty sure I don’t get to have it that way this time.

I have to take action myself. I preach taking personal responsibility and I know that there are inherent human freedoms, and I have to now step fully into the weight of that and take charge of my life. Which means deciding what I really want. Which is something I’ve always had a difficult time doing. And I find it doubly so now, because beyond a vague desire to “be creative”, what I really want is more time with my family. Which we’re working toward, but I miss that ambitious drive to push me through on projects.

I think I also have always wanted outside validation, a stamp of approval that my work is good. All of us creatives have that to a certain extent, don’t we? I want to march to the beat of my own drum, but I want other people to be tapping their hands along to the rhythm. It’s almost like my whole life I’ve been looking for permission to create the way I want to. And if I didn’t get that outside validation, I kind of just stopped pushing forward with that side of my creativity. Which is a tough thing to admit, but it’s true.

So I have a lot still to process in these realizations that hit me a couple of weeks ago. But processing through this is A Big Deal, and this will lay the groundwork for the next part of my life. A life path I will choose wholeheartedly. It will still be eclectic, and I’ll probably still be all over the place in my creative instincts, but it will be mine.

Internal Progress

I video recorded myself playing piano and singing two songs the other night and then watched it. And I was able to not be too overly critical of myself. Which is huge progress. My perfectionist streak which I’ve battled for years to channel into productive paths has gotten in my way a lot, as has stage fright that rose up sometime between undergrad and grad school, so the fact that I didn’t cringe or shy away from myself is a very big deal.

The songs were two I worked on with my voice teacher last year – a Joan Baez song and one from the musical The Scarlet Pimpernel, so I knew I had certain nuances down before I even started playing. The next step will be to record myself playing my own music, and at that point, I can let the perfectionist out a little for tweaking purposes.

Music is so important for healing. I’ve said it often that it is the one area I’ve felt a lack in my life since leaving undergrad. So I’m glad I can introduce it into my life again.

A Couple Visualizations

The world has seemed especially bleak lately, hasn’t it? Disturbing videos, articles and op-ed pieces pointing fingers and hurling blame for every societal ill we face, people becoming inundated with guilt and fear and hatred, our so-called leaders and the elite growing more open in their hatred of the general population by the minute it seems. It’s a lot to process, perhaps even too much to process all at once. Which is how it’s designed to be, right? Keep us spinning until we’re dizzy and then we’re just grateful for the slight pauses to catch our breath.

To ground myself and not get sucked in by the chaos, I keep two visualizations in mind. First, each individual person is a drop in the ocean of humanity. So that image of myself as a drop of water in the sea keeps me humble and allows me to go a little easier on myself because a drop of water is sometimes swept along with the collective chaos of the sea. It’s okay to let myself go with the current at times. But a drop of water is also strong. It can continuously purify itself if it gets contaminated through the process of evaporation, always returning back to it’s original molecules. It can shape stone over time, especially when working with other drops. It is the source of life on this planet.

The other visualization is remembering that humans are made of the same stuff of stars, as Carl Sagan famously said. The star I visualize being from originally is a big blue one. This helps me keep my higher self in mind and not give into the pettiness and despair as often as I sometimes feel pulled to. Also, I’ve been working on this visualization to give myself permission to shine. We all should shine as brightly as we are able and not let fear dim our lights.

Do you have any visualizations that you have been working with lately to further your creativity/productivity and keep yourself from sinking too deep into the current muck and mire of modern life?

Letting Go and Moving On

Last week I found out something that made me finally cry about losing my job. Outright sobbing for a solid 15 minutes, like I’ve done in the past when someone has died. I felt so wounded and betrayed, and thankfully my children were asleep and I was able to give full venting of my emotions. But I wanted to censor myself at first, because I recognized that what was wounded most was my pride, and really, of all the Seven Deadly Sins, Pride may very well be the least fun one. Also, in my efforts to evolve as a human, I try really hard to not let my ego drive the ship and to focus on deeper issues and discard the parts of my being that don’t serve me well, but I obviously have a long way to go still, and I really hated to have that reminder. That I still have attachments to certain identifiers about myself and my position in society. Objectively I know that it’s all meaningless, but subjectively I still occasionally care what other people think of me. It’s so contradictory that it is funny.

However, I am a creative soul, even as I seek to always be growing and learning, and I must admit that I will always have to give my inner artist-child expression or I will suffer serious consequences. And so I allowed myself to grieve and didn’t self-censor, and then I realized that I was indeed grieving a death – the loss of that version of myself and that path through life that I had set myself on. Those particular circumstances will never exist for me again, even if I do choose to return to the theater world someday. And that version of myself deserved a proper mourning and burial.

So if I was less wise than I am now, if I was less evolved, I could let myself linger in the betrayed role. I could play the victim and even relish the anger and bitterness for a while, fueling angsty poems and art pieces. But being where I am, I am ready to move on and figure out my new identity. Staying angry isn’t healthy for me, and my body already is showing me the benefits of letting it all go. The week I got sick leading up to losing my job, I had a fairly severe psoriasis-rash outbreak on my hands and then a patch open up on my back, and all the areas are healing now. I find myself laughing and being goofy with my family more, which is part of my self-improvement goal for the year of allowing myself to have more fun. And while I may get an occasional twinge of missing the part of me I no longer have, I can weigh it against what I do have and recognize the benefits of letting go. Life is too short to give other people the power to hold you down.

Whatever the future is, I trust that it will bring me what I need to continue growing and loving and creating. I may not agree with the Universe, I still may need to be dragged kicking and screaming to the next path I need to tread, but I do trust.

Gallery is Up and Some More Creative Progress

My gallery is up on my Art page here. Nothing fancy, just the freebie slideshow that comes with the page. But it’s cool to see all my work on one page! And I really like seeing my two abstracts together. It makes me want to do more. Now to start submitting to some local shows.

In other creative news, I’m working on another pencil sketch as a gift that I will post once it is received. I had wanted to finish it last week and it sits still barely started. But I hope to finish it all tonight, if I finish my work for the shop in time. Writing-wise, I’m still tinkering with a poem. Four more lines to go! I’m doing it in strict rhyming 8 syllable lines, and it is tackling some very serious societal issues, so it’s difficult. It is going to wind up feeling heavy and preachy, rather like an 19th century poem read out at a lecture series, but that was kind of what I am going for. I find it fascinating to consider that sometimes poems just pour out of me, like Little Boy Blue – I felt this huge weight on me after watching some atrocity online and the poem just popped out. And then there’s this one I’ve been working on for a very long time because I don’t want to force it. And musically, I’ve been playing and singing a little bit multiple times a week. Still haven’t gotten into a good practice with my flute yet but at least I’ve gotten it out a few times.

Since I’m easing into my new full-time position, I’m transitioning into an all new schedule again, which means being flexible about my time. My kids’ needs for me come first while we’re all adapting.

Getting Involved

I have a lot of transition going on in my life yet again, but it is important to me to start taking more action in the world. So, I am going to tell you what I’m doing in hopes that it may inspire you to do something as well, and if you have any suggestions for improvements on my end, please feel free to suggest!

  1. Inspired by my friend Shing Khor, I will be hosting a political write-in get-together early in March. Date still undecided because I am waiting for postcards from her (she made this Lady Liberty movement),  I am going to create this weekend and print a small run of postcards from my America Lost illustration below, and I’ve contacted a friend of mine to potentially use a piece of her art to create a science or educationally-minded postcard.
    America Lost

    Copyright 2013, Kat Micari

    It will be open house style with snacks and beverages, and I’ll have a list of government officials with addresses and suggestions of different topics for people to write about. My hope is to include stamps for people too, and I may put out a tip jar to help cover postage but we’ll see.

  2. I’ll be making the postcard file available for free download for everyone, so look for that here early next week! And use it how you will.
  3. I contacted a local organization that works with victims of domestic abuse to potentially do a hand sewing workshop monthly or so. If they’re interested, I’ll start with them, and if not, I’ll contact other organizations of at-risk populations. Hand sewing is an important life skill for people to have and something I can easily teach and make not scary. If the first organization goes well, I’ll add more as I feel I can handle it. Even if they don’t have money to reimburse me, contributing a handful of dollar store sewing kits and using my own muslin supply for the samplers won’t cost me more than $20 a workshop, and I can definitely afford that once a month or so.
  4. I am going to start a monthly “sketch/art” meet up at my house of mine and my husband’s creative and creatively-blocked friends. People will bring sketchbooks or whatever they’re working on, and we’ll sit and hang out and play. And hopefully brainstorm ideas to creatively get things going in the wider community. As an added benefit, it will force us to keep the house clean enough for people to come over every month.
  5. I have started to ask really difficult questions or make suggestions to get people thinking. And then I let them respond to me and I’ve gotten some really well-thought responses. I don’t argue with them, though I could, because I’m really trying to get their gears going mentally. My plan is to step up the questions slowly.
  6. My husband and I are trying to become more sustainable and self-sufficient, and I will be talking more openly about that rather than hiding it because I don’t want people to feel bad. We’ve started composting this week, and my husband has started taking notes for the first veggies and herbs we’re going to attempt to grow. My reverse osmosis water filter has been installed finally by my husband and the water is delicious (no chlorine! no fluoride! and if something like Flint MI happens here, we’ll be set!). And I am going to be making reusable facial wipes instead of using cotton balls/wipes thanks to a post suggesting it from a friend of mine. We already cloth diaper and use cloth wipes, and I switched to handkerchiefs years ago (though apparently used tissues are good to go in the compost heap). Not a perfect system yet, but baby steps are better than no steps at all. Why talk about this more? Because sometimes the most revolutionary thing you can do is be healthy in body and mind so you have the strength and stamina to fight the good fight, and not enough people connect those dots yet.

So that’s where I’m at. Since I’m starting the new job and still taking care of baby, this feels like what I can handle at the moment. As I get a rhythm going in my work/parenting/creative schedule, I’ll try to add some more community-based actions. But this feels like a good starting point for me.