Dame Carla's assignment, for the next two weeks:
From Vision to Reality
We have all heard the adage, "seeing is believing." Although it often refers to the idea that people want proof of some incredible phenomenon, I like to think of it as an important principle of visualization and manifestation. What we see and believe we can be and do, we will work toward being and doing. Starting with creative thought about values and goals, we generate energy. When we actually turn that energy into something visual, we create even stronger energy that pulls us in that direction.
This week's challenge is about synergy and manifestation. Over the past several weeks, you have had the opportunity to explore yourself - past, present, and future -in a very deep and meaningful way, using both written and visual tools to focus your personal journey and goals. Now, I would like you to take some time to review what you've discovered and bring it all together by creating a Vision Map (also known as a Vision Board or Dream Board). Simply put, a Vision Map is a collage of pictures and words that very clearly depict your true self - who you are and who you are becoming.
Mapping your Vision
There are many ways to put a Vision Map together, but a strong Vision Map includes a variety of images and words that are completely synchronous with your core values and goals. ... it should fulfill the following criteria:
Create a time framework for your Vision Map.
Your Vision Map should be strongly visual.
Be true to your emotions.
Below is my visual map, somewhat blurry as the last coat of clear gesso is still drying ... however, I'm booked up the rest of the week and wanted to get this posted tonight. Dame Carla said to select a time frame -- I have the months of a year going across the top, starting with May, and using a flower for August (I'd already used that rub-on) ... but honestly? The time frame, although an important element in the framework, is less a variable for me than the strength of the visuals, the individual goals, and the important interior strengthening. The snow geese in the background are part of a photo taken by Roxanne's [at River Garden Studio] son, and used with her kind permission. [For her entry, and more stunning photographs of the snow geese, go here.] That image could have been the entire visual map for me - I look at it and everything is present. The photo of me is an outtake from my Self Portrait adventure -- not an outtake, actually, but one I loved and set aside, knowing it needed something special but not knowing, then, about Dame Carla's visual map exercise. "Eat, drink, and be mermaid" is a droll nudge to let the humor overflow, also! Below that is one of my favorite quotes, by Eleanor Roosevelt: 'You must do the thing you think you cannot do." Ain't THAT the truth! Center and upper left: key words: learn, try, listen, love, play, imagine, with a much-needed (& appreciated) reminder: 'You are never alone.' The painting of the woman smelling the flower symbolizes SO many things to me: taking time to relax, to 'smell the roses', to plant, to water, to see what grows. But also to let myself be soft, be a woman, be fragile, vulnerable, to need and to say so. The woman walking up the hill with the basket of milk in hand, the white house, the blue water -- my symbol of health, full health internal and external, and also of living simply. I also wanted a WHITE background on the main canvas, to remind myself to stay simple, keep it simple, to remove clutter and allow a cleaner mind, more focused actions. Center and upper right -- the bicycle, because I want to work out, and my favorite way is to ride my bike. (Not to mention I couldn't BEAR to put a picture of TENNIS SHOES on this!) The phrase, 'I love you with all my heart' -- from me to me, who I am, who I am becoming, my future self. Be Who You Are (strong reminder). The bird is my favorite bird image of all time -- flight!! Wings!! Written journal and words with a visual overstamped - priority = written AND visual journal. Lower left: The key word: Imagine ... imagine 'you are' -- a painter/artist, healthy, living simply. An ace with a full heart! Exercising my options because I've defined them, and I'm open to hearing/discovering more. Lower right corner. Be thankful. A mermaid and a 'sea' emblem, critical for me. 'dream big'. 'Enjoy'. The little 'admit one' ticket is because I have to do this for and by myself, albeit with help, support.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Dame Carla's assignment, for the next two weeks:
I'm sharing this layout because this is a foundation I support. Waris Dirie survived female mutilation/circumcision at the age of 5, in Somalia. She later escaped, and was eventually 'discovered' in London by a modeling scout. She created the Waris Dirie Foundation as a means to globally educate regarding, and to loudly protest, female circumcision and mutiliation.
Above is Waris Dirie's Manifesto. To better read, and possibly sign the Manifesto, visit here.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I'm on an adrenalin high right now. I signed up for my on-line group's altered book round robin. Haven't done one of these before. Spent ALL LAST WEEK tussling with the first book I received. Toe-to-toe's, every evening. Just could not get a rhythm at all. Couldn't get outside the sense of my own eyeballs, looking over my shoulder. Know that feeling? Yesterday, my resistance started oozing down off the side of my studio table, and TODAY!! Today I woke up at 5, sent a few emails, then just started playing. Total relaxation, free-associating, experimenting. By 1, when I stopped to have a bite to eat, I had gotten into a very cool rhythm of prepping one background and propping it in front of the fan while I went to work on the pieces that would go on it. It's now 8:00, and I have all the background spreads done, and everything prepped to go on them, and I've made my list of what items I need to print off at work (mostly words, quotes and such) ...
there you have it. I have two more books in the round robin coming to me (we mail out on the 15th each month), but I feel total anticipation, now, instead of nerves and internal rambunctiousness!
Now I'm off to read the new Wings 4 You challenge -- I haven't looked at a single blog since Friday morning!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tonight after work, I said HECK WID IT, and took the MuthaCam out on the patio with me to take pictures of myself. I haven't written in my new journal cuz I've been waiting on this, and wasn't getting ANY takers to shoot my picture -- not writing in my journal for one or two days is bad enough -- it's going on 8!!! I just couldn't have that anymore!! Of course, as soon as I was 25 shots in, here came Double BB -- ostensibly offering his photographer's services, but really just to watch, crack up, and otherwise meddle!! There IS something to be said for a digital camera and shooting self-portraits -- NOBODY GETS TO SEE THE ATROCIOUS PICTURES WHERE YOU LOOK LIKE SNAGGLEPUSS ON CRACK, CUZ YOU CAN DELETE THEM IMMEDIATELY!!! (The bad news is that there were, uh, quite a FEW shots like that!!) This is classic Toni, all the way -- this is either my trademark smirk, or the face I make when I'm about to start some sh**. This is also the face brought on by Double BB's teasing, which of course is taking place behind the scenes of this shot. [Note: Albeit you might have reason to wonder from this shot, I actually do have both front teeth intact!] Eesh! Blimey!! WOWZA!!! Will ya look at those peepers? My eyes are seriously blue -- I had NO idea. (& if your gaze is drifting, trying to see what's down that gap in my shirt, trust me, the answer is NOTHING!) Ok, in this one I think I look really -- um -- GOOD. Here's the catch: for journal purposes, if I'm not going to look "Julie-Christie-in- Dr.-Zhivago" good, then I'd rather look INTERESTING. GOOD isn't reflection enough of the contents of this package, ya know? Second Runner Up: slight smile, nice angle, relaxed. Nice one! First Runner Up ... but just a little too casual, and not enough of my eyes. THE WINNER!!! This is the one going in my new written journal. Something about my eyes -- whatever is brewing inside me is in these eyes -- or I should say that everything I FEEL going on inside, I can sense in my eyes in this photo.
First time using fabric on a journal page (thanks, Mercedes!!!) Also not a doggone transfer technique I've tried yet that works WELL, or works CONSISTENTLY. Very frustrating, but it turned out all right here (the woman). My Dad and I are an ever-ongoing work in progress. Sometimes ... well, sometimes it gets fierce.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
My goodness, so many emails asking about my ritual ... thanks for the interest! Actually, it's really nothing too complex -- I just always find a quote -- no, no! A quote always finds me, along with a word (not always, but usually), and an inspirational photo which now I would like to be a photo of me instead ... and finally a song ... all of these things represent, capture, contain, evoke where I am internally as the journal begins. I feel really awkward, uncomfortable, if I start a new journal without these kick-off elements.
I found the word accidentally - was used in the name of an article in some magazine I was skimming, Vogue, I think. ARABESQUE Not only the dance/gymnastics position, but the whole middle-east sensation of the word for me, which invites exploration -- like the Weekly Wings exercises. And a sense of grace, balance.
I was blogsurfing in the wee hours this a.m. and bumbled onto a blog that had this quote: "Every day which is born into this world comes like a burst of music, and sings itself all day through. And thou shalt make of it a dance, a dirge, or a life march, as thou wilt." -T. Carlyle -- instantly knew it was the one.
The song is an old one but cherished by me: Gary Wright's 'My Love is Alive' --
'My heart is on fire
my soul's like a wheel that's turning
my love is alive -- my love is alive'.
Now I just need to coerce one of my menfolk to stand behind the lens of the MuthaCam and point it at ME ...
Monday, April 21, 2008
Go here, be amazed. FantasticMachine.wmv I can't get the video to load here.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Through New Eyes
How would you describe yourself at this moment in time if you could look back from twenty years in future? What would you understand about who and where you are that aren't sure about now? Just as we can look back at experiences from the past and see them through the lens of time and growth, perhaps with an understanding of how they've brought us to the present, so can we project into the future to see our present selves from a more experienced perspective.
Move towards the dwelling of your future self. You know the way; you’ve been here before and everything around looks familiar and comfortable. Your future self is waiting for you, looking forward to talking with you again. As your future self greets you, notice what it is like being with this person again. Look around you. Drink up the environment. Notice the colors here.
Joining my future self again is like the feeling I have with certain friends I may not see for long periods, but when I do, we begin straightaway wherever we left off, with the same ease, spontaneity, fun, and honesty we've always shared. I found my future self sitting in her red recliner in the livingroom I depicted in my visual, but I suddenly realized this 'place' was underwater. No. In water. And also in air. And also in light. Filled with fluidity, sparkle, depth, brightness, glimmer.
Now is the opportunity to ask your future self whatever questions you might might have. Take as long as you need to hear your future self's response. You might want to know your next step, and who you need to be right now in order to move forward. Ask your future self anything that feels right to you. Take a moment to listen to your future self’s response.
My only question was/is this: "What weight am I carrying, now, that I don't need? Consciously, subconsciously, what is the extra load that complicates my progress?"
Take a deep breath and allow yourself to step into the being of your future self. Allow yourself to merge into this person’s body and experience what it feels like to be this future self. Be aware of how right and good it feels in your future self’s body.What does the world look like through your future self’s eyes? Walk around, feeling yourself move as your future self.
Here is where my mental visualization exercise exploded. Stepping into my future self's body meant that suddenly I contained -- everything. If I walked through a shadow, I became the shadow. If I held a leaf, the colors, the veins, the smell, the shape of the leaf ENTERED ME. When I smelled the flowers on her bookshelf, the smell inhabited me. My future self is SO MUCH IN THE PRESENT, IN THE NOW, that each moment joins her, becomes her. She's not remembering the past, she's not projecting into the future, she just IS, however, wherever, whatever that means. I could hardly grasp it. I started crying. Such stillness in her, such ... the only real word that works here is like her personal mantra: ACCEPTANCE. Accept. No need to hurry through one moment to the next. No creating itineraries, no agendas, no emotional hiccups if one thing didn't parlay itself into the next as she might have planned or hoped for. The peace! The serenity! Her way of moving also was the light, weightless manner I move when I'm in a swimming pool -- lifted, buoyant, fluid, balanced, easily graceful, unselfconscious.
Notice if there’s one particular place in your body where you can feel your future self’s power most strongly. Allow that feeling to expand, filling your whole body, into your very cells. Touch that place on your body now in order to anchor that feeling, and know that whenever you wish to connect with your future self, you can touch that place on your body and bring forth these positive, powerful feelings, easily and effortlessly.
My future self resides wholly in the wings of my rib cage, as if she's got her hands on either side of me and is holding me, supporting me, hugging me, drawing me forward. A ring of all that serenity and peace and in-the-now encircling me just at heart level. To expand into that, to pull it through the rest of my body, I imagined the flow of my blood through my veins; I imagined my skeletal structure, the attendant muscles and tissue, the deep interwoven synapses in my brain. There is no visual or response-to-visual I have of my future self that the word 'fluidity' isn't directly a part of. Almost as if she's not a physical form, but an energy, a vibrancy, an idea - actualized, effected.
Now look at your present self through your future self's eyes. What do you notice about your present-day self? Through your future self's perspective, what do you want to tell your present-day self?
She has the gentlest, most all-encompassing gaze. Wisdom tempered by humor, experience, and liveliness. Sass. Fire. Energy. Wherever I looked, through her eyes, I saw potential, I saw possibility, I saw realization, I saw light. So much light. Not just external brightness of the air and environment, but internal light, a certitude of confidence, a real groundedness to her own core. To feel that so absolutely is such a lesson to me, I'll never forget it. It's NOT something I experience for long stretches NOW. I didn't sense any doubt in my future self - self-doubt I mean, second-guessing, posturing. My god, if I can learn 52% of that between now and 20 years from now, the level of my quality of interior life is going to be like a parallel universe to now.
What she said to me is this: "Your extra weight is your drive to bring others into your journey. No one else can take your journey, because it is yours and only yours. No one else can be coerced into starting his own journey, no matter how shining, how illuminated you might be, how excited you are by what you are discovering. Without his own desire to find that, no journey can begin. You must let others find their own way. Traveling along on your own path is also leaving a trail, should anyone decide to follow, but his path will always deviate from yours. Your enthusiasm is for you -- you can't continually try to give journey injections to others, forcing change, forcing forcing forcing, then judging because they don't respond.
And secondly, there is weight on you due to your frustration at this resistance on the part of others. Relinquish them. You aren't and can never be responsible for anyone else's enlightenment."
My face got SO HOT! You know how it feels when someone tells you an absolute truth? You feel it, you know it, you reek of it? I felt it, I knew it, I STANK of it. I was/am so ashamed -- but it's true!! I DO judge others who (in my eyes) seem to choose stagnancy, the safe, the known, over making any kind of change whatsoever! I judge them to the point of feeling disgust, disdain, and even a sense of my own superiority. Oh my god. Who died and made me queen all of a sudden? For a very very long shame-induced moment, I was PISSED OFF at my future self. Then I actually had to say to myself, out loud: "Listen, you asked. You invited this answer. Moreover, she is 100% correct. DEAL WITH IT!"
Take another deep breath and shift your awareness back into your present-day self, anchoring your consciousness fully in your present body. You are getting ready to leave, to return to the present day. Look back at your future self and notice that this person has a special gift to remind you of who you are becoming and what you are moving towards. As your future self offers you this gift, ask if there's a special meaning to it and if there is anything you need to know about it.
This part also made me break into tears. My future self handed me a beautifully carved mother-of-pearl inlaid wooden box. Inside was a complete palette of paint colors. When I looked more closely, I saw it was actually the alphabet, each letter assigned a color. When I lifted the paint color/letter block out of it's palette square, it transformed into ... everything I associate with that letter and color. The "A" became my name, Antonia, which became the book I'm named after, My Antonia, which became the cornfields of my Grandpa Andy's farm, which became my friend Amy and me irrigating on hot July days, which became the song by Pure Prairie League, which I love, Aimee, which became myself slow dancing at a harvest festival to that song, which became 'amour' and my trip to Paris with My Lovely Mother, which became the song 'April in Paris', which became ... you see? This paint/alphabet palette contained my life's memories, experiences, all accessible to me, all there, all usable for art, for words, for creation! Myself, MY LIFE, as the complete source. Can you believe that? I am crying now, writing this, hot fast tears all like barbed wire in my face and the backs of my eyes. Startling, this gift!
Thank your future self for the wisdom and say goodbye for now, knowing that you will remember everything you need to from this visit.
When I tried to thank my future self, she said to me, "Do you realize that I'm just giving you back the gift you will bring to me? These memories! You've taken such care all your life to notice, to feel, to sense, to divine, to appreciate, to record, to keep alive, to sustain, to capture, to go high, low, in, out, above, below, in order to FIND LIFE. I'm giving you this to show you there IS value in what you've been doing all this time, in the quiet solitude of your mind, your journal. This is what you are assembling to bring to me; I wanted you to have it."
While your visit to your future self is still fresh in your mind, create a visual representation of the gift you received from your future self. You might also want to include an image of your present-day self as seen through the eyes of your future self. Use this visual as a way to connect with the power of the gift and the resources your future self has to offer you.
How will I ever do a visual representation of this? How?
Wrapping it Up
We shall not cease from exploration...
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started...
and know the place for the first time.
- T.S. Eliot
This passage from T.S Eliot's poem "Little Gidding" speaks to the individual's need to explore and grow, suggesting that at the end of every exploration, even if we come full circle, we will return to a fresh, new place. As we journey and gain experience and insight, our perspective shifts, allowing us to see things differently. The perspective of your future self is an inner resource you can use whenever you need to know what your next step should be along the way. You have the tools to contact this powerful ally who is always there to guide your exploration.
Honestly, this exercise has exhausted me emotionally -- in the best of all possible ways. I don't go into any of this with expectations of any sort, it's not that. But to walk in the shining NOW with that kind of acceptance and delight, to have my question so directly, honestly answered [ouch!], then to receive such a gift, to know my future self has her hands firmly and lovingly on my rib cage, close to my heart, and that she feels I will give as much to her as I feel she's presently giving to me? Joy.
Say hello to my liddle fren' -- this is my new written journal, which I found at Bookstar for $6.99!!! The pages are lined, something I must have for my writing, which is atrocious enough without me trying to put thoughts down on a blank space. ACK! I haven't begun this journal yet -- I have kind of a 'ritual' for starting a new journal and just haven't had time to indulge myself.
Meanwhile, I've got my gooey, stiff, icky paintbrushes soaking in turpentine; I've spiffied up my studio, cleaned the litterbox, played for an hour with Zoe (including a 30-minute spa turn for her with her brush), folded all the laundry, and then, finally, perused [with great delight and total awe] the altered book I received in the mail from one of the women in my round-robin. We're talking art on her pages that exceeds any you have seen in Stampington publications. Eesh! Blimey!! GENIUS!! I'm frankly quite frozen -- how to follow perfection? I don't wanna ruin her AB! No, but actually, I have some ideas and three pages of sketches already, so once I get moving I know I'll get over my jitters.
My Lovely Mother also bought a book for me yesterday, which I saw on-line and slobbered for: [Book Description taken off Amazon] "Rescued from a Dumpster on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a discarded diary brings to life the glamorous, forgotten world of an extraordinary young woman.
For more than half a century, the red leather diary lay silent, languishing inside a steamer trunk, its worn cover crumbling into little flakes. When a cleaning sweep of a New York City apartment building brings this lost treasure to light, both the diary and its owner are given a second life.
Recovered by Lily Koppel, a young writer working at the New York Times, the journal paints a vivid picture of 1930s New York--horseback riding in Central Park, summer excursions to the Catskills, and an obsession with a famous avant-garde actress. From 1929 to 1934, not a single day's entry is skipped.
Opening the tarnished brass lock, Koppel embarks on a journey into the past, traveling to a New York in which women of privilege meet for tea at Schrafft's, dance at the Hotel Pennsylvania, and toast the night at El Morocco. As she turns the diary's brittle pages, Koppel is captivated by the headstrong young woman whose intimate thoughts and emotions fill the pale blue lines. Who was this lovely ingénue who adored the works of Baudelaire and Jane Austen, who was sexually curious beyond her years, who traveled to Rome, Paris, and London? Compelled by the hopes and heartaches captured in the pages, Koppel sets out to find the diary's owner, her only clue the inscription on the frontispiece--"This book belongs to . . . Florence Wolfson." A chance phone call from a private investigator leads Koppel to Florence, a ninety-year-old woman living with her husband of sixty-seven years. Reunited with her diary, Florence ventures back to the girl she once was, rediscovering a lost self that burned with artistic fervor.
Joining intimate interviews with original diary entries, Koppel reveals the world of a New York teenager obsessed with the state of her soul and her appearance, and muses on the serendipitous chain of events that returned the lost journal to its owner. Evocative and entrancing, The Red Leather Diary re-creates the romance and glitter, sophistication and promise, of 1930s New York, bringing to life the true story of a precocious young woman who dared to follow her dreams."
My new visual journal has begun, and I've also reached a decision that any words in this one will be collaged in, rather than my trying to also maintain my written journal herein. VERY LIBERATING!!! I also found a blank sketch book that is 8-1/2 x 11, so my pages will fit on my scanner. I like that!! Below are two of Basic Grey's new journaling spots clear stamp sets, which I ordered from Patty at The Tuscan Rose (go to the NEAT STUFF page and scroll down). Patty has a line of collage sheets to make a girl slobber (& deliver up the entire contents of her purse!) And I always receive my order in no more than 3 days, which is mind-blowing because, well, you know how it is: when you order something, you're suddenly frantic for it & can't think of anything else!!!
Friday, April 18, 2008
My visual progresses. Much yet to be done, but much already in place, too. Call this Draft #4, actually, because it incorporates 2 sketches of the layout, and then the pencil drawing of the mermaid in the chair (which I copied from a Google picture I printed off at work). I still want to paint her body, and add to the background (violet accents!) and to the area in front of the recliner. That, by the way, is the actual recliner I covet, printed straight off the Pottery Barn website! So is the bookshelf background.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
It's ok if you want to laugh and point. I thought I wouldn't post this, but then I thought again. I've listened to/read a lot of artists and writers in my day who have said that what we ALL need in the art community is to see much MUCH more of the PROCESS of art, not only finished pieces all the time. Even the artists we love best and admire most started somewhere, and sucked at some point, and probably still do really BAD work that remains valid in how instructive it is, in the way it moves them from point A to point B, in what it reveals to them about their concept/vision for a piece.
So: here is my first take at a visual piece for this week's Wings 4 You exercise. This is how I approach any piece that's going to end up living OUTSIDE of my journal: a sketch, a list of some kind to remind me of the 'must have' elements, and the date. When you look at it, you may think, 'Holy crap, that woman cannot draw!' ... but if you read my Weekly Wings post, I'll bet you see a little more deeply than my drawing skills, right? Anyway, what YOU see when you look at a draft of mine is irrelevant to me except to share this whole idea that our work DOES NOT START OUT ALREADY PERFECT!!! When I look at this, everything is there, rushing forward from inside me. When I look at this, I know exactly what needs to stay, what needs to go, and what needs to change when I move on to Draft #2. There's the beauty of it -- no, I can't draw, but I can draw enough to express my idea, then move ahead with it.
I'm really just trying to say we have a choice to hide our "suckage", our drafts, our really early efforts, and only let people see us at our best -- or we can let people IN, show them the process, show them how unformed & fledgling it really started out as, how it evolved, how it became the finished 'something'.
Art is NOT about the finished something -- not my art, anyway. It's all about the process. It may be that I just end up not having enough time to take that comical first draft drawing up there and move it all the way through to where my brain and heart say, 'Ok, stop! Done!' But I still have it ALL because I have this funky scratch-paper draft!
So words like 'bad' and 'suck' and 'best' and 'perfect' -- what do they mean? I had to decide, me for me ... what do YOU think?
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Charles wearing a new hat and holding his cards and coffee money. From Mary Lynn: "Thank you for all of the cards, gifts, money and prayers that you are sending to Charles. We saw him this weekend and he is definitely more tired and weaker than he was at Easter. The cards are bringing him so much joy. He asked his house mom if she would hang them on the wall, and she said she would get some bulletin boards for him, and we will add more as needed. He is still not complaining about anything, and I even got a big smile out of him. His doctor is amazed that he is still mobile and doing as well as he is, but I did not come away with any optimism this weekend. He doesn't really want to go out any more, not eating much, but thank God, he is still in no pain! I love all that this group has done for me and for Charles and I thank you from the bottom of my heart." Charles and Mary Lynn
Posted by Toni at 6:02 AM
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Oh my God, Shreve has done it to me again! Go look HERE right this second!!!! She's even invented a new phrase, "Happier than a coyote in a corn pile." That's it, that is absolutely IT! If I'm not a mermaid in the ocean, or walking on my legs in the desert, and I'm not a sunflower reaching toward the light on my tall, gawky but sturdy stem, then dig it: I AM A COYOTE ROMPING IN THE CORN!!! Shreve, I love you, Woman! These Charlie in the Corn pictures send me to the moon on a trail of shooting giggles!
Posted by Toni at 7:00 PM
Dame Carla asks:
What would it be like to meet with yourself twenty years in the future and find out how you navigated the journey from here to there? What benefit could you derive from asking your future self the questions you might ask your present self, but this time with some answers?
Meet Your Future Self
In order to do the following exercise, I suggest you choose a time and place when and where there will be no outside distractions. You might want to set a mood with lower lighting and meditative music, anything that will put you at peace and allow you to be fully in the experience.
I lay outside on the lounge chair, on the patio, a favorite relaxation location under ALL circumstances, particularly at sundown, amid myriad sultry, skin-kissing breezes!!
Start by closing your eyes and simply focusing on your breathing, surrendering yourself to its rhythm, and allowing yourself to leave the stresses of the world behind as your travel to a tranquil inner space. As you become more and more relaxed, bring your attention to the spot between your eyes; your third eye. Imagine a glowing light there, and then imagine that it becomes a beam that draws you directly to where you are twenty years in the future, where you will soon meet your future self. When you have a fixed image in your mind, open your eyes to continue the exercise.
Read through the following questions and write down whatever comes to mind. Be spontaneous; this is not about being right or wrong, but about being honest with yourself. Feel free to close your eyes and visualize after each question before responding.
Where do you live? What does your future self's home look like? What kind of landscape surrounds it? Are there flowers, trees? Is it urban, country, populated, isolated? Go to the door and have your future self open it. What do you see as the door opens? How does your future self greet you? What does this person look like? Notice this person's stance and clothing. Try to get a sense of this person's essence. Now look around your future self's home. What kind of decor does it have? What are the colors? What kind of person lives here?
The biggest surprise to me came here. Instead of being ocean side, somewhere, I was still in my Phoenix home, except all the deeds on our massive, endless TO-DO list had been completed. Paint, decor, art work, dishes -- all of it represented the photos we've clipped and saved, which I compile in a big idea book (mostly in manila folders, by room or space, I'll be honest, to eventually be placed in an idea book). White dishes, an industrial-feeling kind of neutral kitchen, our living room with one burgundy leather recliner showcased against deep brown leather furniture and lilac accents, my art on the walls and rotated in and out as our tastes change. Bookshelves on one wall, so my books can come out of nooks, crannies, and boxes and breathe fresh air! A shaded patio in the back, complete with fire pit, a painted mural on the block wall, comfortable cushions on the presently-concrete bench that wraps 3/4's of the space. The exterior of the house painted, the roof finished and minus all leaks. I was truly shocked by this. It's clear from this exercise that I DON'T consider Phoenix a long-term temporary place of residence, but HOME. My entire family is here: mom, dad, brothers, nieces, nephews, brother-in-law and his family, sons. My extended friends/family are also here. I do NOT want to leave that. Missing (in a big way): Veronica. Except the longer I probed this stunning revelatory future existence, the more I realized I was affluent enough to permit visits, vacations, trips to the ocean, camping, all the things I imagine (now) needing to have "all the time" in my future. I did not see a very changed self, either, by way of clothing. Just this brilliant dimension of confidence and satisfaction encompassing a deep, love-filled welcome.
Really, I thought I needed to do the exercise over.
Move with your future self to a place where you can have a comfortable conversation. Your future self knows why you are here and is waiting to answer your questions. Imagine a conversation with your future self in which you ask the following questions:
What is it that you remember most about the last twenty years?
What have you accomplished in this time?
What do I need to know to get me from where I am now to where you are? What would be most helpful?
Who have been the most important people in your life over the past twenty years?
My memories consisted entirely of accumulated moments: highs, lows, MY REAL LIFE, not big fantasies of Hollywood sunsets or Trump-sized bank accounts. Just simple life. My essential needs had stayed consistent, as did my focus. My accomplishments (where they didn't emphasize my relationships) primarily had to do with financial steps gained, and art -- growth in art and writing. The same people who are critical to me now, remained critical over the passage of imagined time, and these are the same individuals who helped me along with support. My future self told me that I already know everything, now, that I need to navigate the next decades -- the difficulty is not to lose my focus, to be drawn away from my core values or those individuals I've already mentioned, not to be tempted by ego-feeding ventures, not to become 'afraid' and subsequently 'shrink'. She used the word, 'simple' about 8 million times -- keep my eye simple (a scripture I love); people before things, honest art. I didn't think I'd turn into someone greatly different from who I am now; matter of fact, I fervently hoped NOT. I saw a 'me' who had just become more enriched in the areas I strive to better on a daily basis in my present life. And she had had two extra decades of experience upon which to base the GLOW I saw in her. I liked that glow. I liked it a lot.
After you and your future self have discussed your questions, ask one final question:
What name, other than your first name, are you called by? This is a special name, a symbol or a metaphor of your essence. What is your name?
This was easy. My 'other name' came to me when I was fourteen and struggling my way through my first read-through of The Diaries of Anais Nin (much of it WAY over my head, then, in analytical, philosophical, psychological, & life-experience ways). I chose two names then, one for my positive inner self, that VOICE which was fledgling but heard, via my journal: Sirena. I did NOT know, then, that Sirena meant mermaid, which was also the symbol I chose for myself shortly thereafter -- sunflower was a very close runner-up, and still feels peculiarly personal to my SELF! And I chose 'Melissa' for my negative, self-defeating self -- because it was a name then that sounded prissy and high-maintenance to me, spoiled and superficial. Those names have stayed with me ever since, for the last 32 years. I almost strictly refer to myself as SIRENA in my own head, or in my journals -- the initial "S", anyway. I don't so much use any reference to 'Melissa' because in the last 3 decades, I've met 3 women named Melissa who have done away with my 14-year-old notions about that name. Now I refer to that side of myself as my inner critic, or simply "THAT WENCH". But now there is some love there, for That Wench, because I have an expanded comprehension of her issues and underlying value.
While your visit to your future self is still fresh in your mind, create a visual representation of the experience. Include an image of your future self that embodies your future self's essence, and surround it with whatever external images are most outstanding from your visit. Use this visual as a way to connect your self now with your future self.
This portion is under way, nowhere near finished. Not sure it CAN be finished. My logo (previously posted) is a nearly perfect symbolic picture of my present meeting my future, though. I find I keep returning to it and nodding with this profound sense of certainty.
Susan T., one of the members of my on-line art group, sent me this RAK. I love the colors, and all the different fibers! On the back is a great message:
fresh growth and
How is it that a dragonfly can invoke an entire season?
Monday, April 14, 2008
My work buddy, Greg [the man responsible for my collection of B&W vintage pics, my box of luscious glass pieces, & my upcoming soldering lessons (assisted by Gwen, his lovely wife and fellow artist)], is a first-time Grandpa!!!
Here we have Courtney, Greg, Jr., and introducing Madeleine Ainsleigh (in her University of Arizona stocking cap!). I love her name -- it's melodical, lyrical, and unique!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
It is such a glorious, breezy, sultry, sunny day today that the winged women and their tiny Asian partner begged me for an outdoor outing. Since I'm heavily into avoidance of doing anything that resembles art or chores, I thought it sounded like a great idea!
My blogging friend, Beth, occasionally posts a blog entry which is a list. I really liked the idea of this one, her most recent theme, so here is my response.
You Can Count on Me To ...
* Be early
* Take a nap on Sunday afternoons
* Get lost even with a map, but eventually get there
* Have a journal and 40 pens with me, no matter where I am
* Give you a hug hello & goodbye
* Roll down my car windows
* Lift my chin into ANY breeze & not care what it does to my hair
* Melt when Double BB kisses me on the back of my neck
* Take my bra off as soon as I get through the front door
* Remember my dream(s)
* Remember a movie via its soundtrack more than the story
* Make killer salsa to make you sweat & cry
* Do/help with the dishes
* Write a poetry line about it
* Notice if you're wearing perfume or cologne
* Give you an honest answer if you're brave enough to ask
* Take a walk in the rain
* Pet any dog that crosses my path
* Fondle the eggplant & asparagus in the vegetable aisle
* Order seafood over beef
* Notice something unique & beautiful about you OUT LOUD
* Prefer music over TV on every occasion
* Listen both to what you're saying and NOT saying
* Cry whenever I get to visit the ocean
* Take 12 hours when shopping in book, CD, craft, or antique/flea market stores
* Beg off of loud gatherings featuring intent to booze it up
* Dance in my studio even if it frightens my cat
This is the Get Well card I finished for an acquaintance who has really seen a run of misfortune, breaking her elbow TWICE in a fall, and some other things which have landed her in the hospital. She loves to garden, so I chose a garden theme to give her something GOOD for mental distraction (I hope). [I'm noticing that my home scanner doesn't get the good crisp detail of the one I use at work, and I am NOT liking that!]
Saturday, April 12, 2008
This is my response to my online group's April inspiration photo, a lovely ceramic bowl with these colors in it. But I 'lifted' the parasol background directly from an ad in my latest Dwell magazine, by Case Study Furniture for their Modernica line -- I really wanted to use my Lyra watercolor crayons to paint a watercolor, and this background seemed the place to start. The bird is a result of several doodle pages I did a while back -- I highlighted this bird and created a template out of it. The orange patterns are stenciled on. The name of this piece is 'April Showers'.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
The amazing Roxanne, at River Garden Studio, just let me know she bestowed upon me the Arte y Pico award. Normally, the rules require that I nominate 5 other blogs as recipients of this award, but to me this feels like such a convergence of my heart-held wishes and the Universe's blessings that I'm giving all 5 nominations right smack back to Roxanne. In early January, I discovered her blog for the first time, and read it completely through, all the way back as far as her archives go, with my tongue hanging down to my ankles and a soul-response I couldn't assimilate. Then (eesh, blimey, & endless SHITES!), I exited out of the blog without saving it, and could NOT find it again when next I went to go back and re-visit her. Hence began a fervent and ongoing prayer sent up: Please oh PLEASE let me find that blog again, please oh pretty pretty please!! Lo and behold, not 3 weeks ago, Roxanne left a comment on my blog, which she found via Dame Carla's Anonyrrie blog. And because I didn't recognize Roxanne's name, I followed the link AND THERE WAS RIVER GARDEN STUDIO!!!! It was One Of Those Moments When You Just Know. Of course I instantly emailed her and hailed her and told her all of this, and of course I also SAVED HER BLOG ADDRESS and added her to my sidebar of Soul Food listings and OF COURSE I visit her blog every day and die and go to heaven all over again. Roxanne, your comment said my blog is inspirational -- BACK ATCHA FULL FORCE AND WITH OODLES OF AWE & GA-GA's!!!!
Posted by Toni at 7:22 PM
After 241 attempts to draw this, I said f'get it. All these images (including the plumed pen) came from Google searches, and I just cut & paste them into the logo you see above. Mermaids are my personal symbol and have been since I was 14. Just as the Statue of Liberty has her beacon, the plumed pen represents my way of shining light (& catching it, when I'm on the receiving end of illumination). I'm a hat-wearing wench, and a Fedora is my favorite -- sassy, playful, unique, can be elegant or punk, just a versatile personal touch!
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
My oldest male child flopped down onto a patio chair by me as I was sitting outside sifting through my postage stamp heads. "Whatcha doin'?" Of course he cracked up when I told him. He just looked so awesome, handsome, alive, sitting there, I had to go grab the MuthaCam.