I usually experience an opening or awakening in the springtime when my soul seems to wake up after a long troubled sleep. I see things clearly again. That didn’t happen this year. It started to. I felt a few moments of wide open clarity early on when I first saw the daffodils come up or on the first warm day, but I feel like I never really woke up. I’ve never had an awakening at this time of year, in the late fall or winter. This is usually when I feel my spirit darkening like tinted glass, when I close off and hunker down inside for a long period of deliberate unconsciousness where I try my best to ignore what’s going on around me.
Instead, I feel bright. Sure, I get tired and a little gloomy in the dark, early evenings sometimes, but most of the time I feel amazing. Something about these cold, clear days; the changing color palette; and watching the trees strip down to their essence is incredibly cleansing, as if the old ideas are becoming brittle and breaking away, leaving me sharp, clear, and wide open for the cold winds to whistle though. It’s like splash of cold water to the face to wake up in the morning.
I may feel differently in a few weeks, but right now I’m going to enjoy this. Maybe winter and I can be friends. Anything is possible.
If I were a flower, I think I’d be a sunflower. They’re my favorite because they look so happy and they’re a symbol of joy and summer to me.
I saw a bunch of sunflowers down by the road near the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah when I went there for the annual Llama fest this weekend. Yes, Llama fest. Lots of fun. It’s like a big fancy dog show, but for llamas, and there are lots of crafts and good food, and the Krishna Temple is just a wonderful place to be because it smells like beautiful incense, everyone is happy, and it’s up on a hill with an incredible view of Utah Valley.
Anyways, Sam picked me a sunflower and I had a mini photoshoot.
I’m planning on using these in a mixed-media painting very soon!
Ok, I know. You guys want to see some llama pictures. Here you go:
And some more pictures, just for fun.
Thank you all for being such wonderful friends and readers. Have a fabulous day!
Something amazing happened on Memorial Day.
I woke up in the worst mood ever. I felt depressed and confused about pretty much everything and I almost cried through my morning walk. I got home and sat on the couch staring at the wall for a half hour or so because I couldn’t seem to bring myself to do anything else. I didn’t feel like writing, making art, reading a book, eating breakfast, or even taking a shower. The sunshine and birdsong outside didn’t even cheer me like it usually does.
It was a scary feeling because I was questioning pretty much everything. I had a good cry on the couch and then somehow fell asleep even though I’d just gotten up from a full night’s sleep less than two hours earlier.
When I woke up 45 minutes later, I felt amazing.
I didn’t notice at first, the but bad feeling was completely gone. All the confusion was gone even though nothing had gotten much clearer; it just didn’t seem as scary any more. I knew things would work out.
I made myself some breakfast, got dressed, wrote for awhile, spent some time with Sam, then walked down to the park to lay on the grass and read a book until it was time to leave for our hike.
We hiked up a canyon trail with our friends Kyle and Destinee, I don’t remember what it was called, but it was beautiful. I love hiking so much. It’s exhilarating without hammering my knees like running does, and nothing makes me feel alive like being out in nature. I climbed up to a little cliff to sit and look down the canyon at Utah Lake. Destinee didn’t climb up with us and the boys climbed a little higher, so I got to sit by myself for a few minutes before climbing up with them.
As I sat with my toes dangling over the drop-off, I wondered how I had felt to awful just a few hours ago when I felt so happy then on the cliff. Nothing else in my life had changed but me. I’ll never underestimate the power of a nap again. It’s just a shift in perspective.
I had a great memorial day. We had a great time on the hike and then we went to a cemetery to put flowers on the graves that didn’t have any.
The moral of the story: Indulgent nap+fun hike with friends+putting flowers on graves=cure for a crappy mood.
Was it just me, or did that weekend go by way too fast?
I posted a new painting this morning, and I really like this one. This is an example of a painting that was supposed to be one thing, but spontaneously turned out to be something else. The water was a surprise. I just liked how it looked when I divided off the part of the painting that was going to be the ground.
This painting features a tree growing out of crystal clear water, along with a flock of birds and a stamped, textured sun. This piece is available here for $55.
Sorry for the short post today, but I have to run. Have a great day!
The part of California that I struggle with is the driving, but luckily I got to ride in the back of the van the whole way and take pictures of trees out the window.
I went on a lot of car trips growing up, and I think a lot of my work stems in watching the trees and landscape as we drove back and forth to California and southern Utah. I pay a lot more attention to trees than that stuff than I used to, but I noticed that the trees and sky in California look so much different than they do in Utah. Utah is full of trees standing out in the middle of nowhere by themselves, or huge dead trees. They’re very gnarly looking. Everything in northern Utah is very jagged and sharp. We’ve got the Rocky Mountains and the trees are…sharp-looking I guess. The trees in California are much more serpentine. The San Gabriel Mountains are hilly and round rather than rocky. All the trees had their leaves, and as far as I know, most of them don’t lose them.
As I snapped pictures of trees by the freeway, I wondered how my art would change if I still lived in California, or if I go back. I was actually born in Pasedena and we lived there until I was almost five, but I remember it very vividly. Every time I go back, some part of me feels at home. There’s a California girl in me somewhere. Not the part of me that has to drive, but some part. My husband is an animator, so we may very well live in California at some point. He certainly wants to. What would that do to my art? Would my trees get more snakey-looking? Would my skies get flatter, because the sky in California mostly seems to vary between blue and brownish-gray? There’s the beach though. I could get into that. There are palm trees, and all kinds of flowers.
It’s an interesting thought. Though my work really isn’t realistic or representational, the Utah landscape is a huge source of inspiration for me. I think my art will always have some Utah in it, but it will probably change to reflect wherever I’m living at the time. I may try to incorporate a little of my California girl into some art this summer. I’ve been playing with some ideas all winter while I was pining for the sun.
I’ll probably live in California again someday, as well as other places. My art will change right along with my surroundings, because my surroundings are part of me. I project myself into the landscape.
Read Part 1 here.
One of my favorite places in the world is the beach. No beach in particular, just a beach. Whenever I do guided meditations that instruct me to find a special places to watch my thoughts go by, I always think of a beach at sunset, and I sit on a rock and watch my thoughts pass over the horizon.
The Santa Monica Pier wasn’t exactly peaceful, but I had a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun taking random pictures of shapes and colors that interested me and I got some fun ideas for a series I’m hoping to paint this summer.
I had a good time watching the musicians, breakdancers, and portrait artists on the pier. There was even a girl with a few burmese pythons who was apparently raising money to buy roosters. I assume they were to feed the snakes. Anyway, I love snakes, so I definitely got in on this.
Here name was cleopatra. The last time I got to hold one of these, he tried to slither into my pocket, but Cleopatra was a little more polite.
I was hoping to see some dolphins or sea lions in the ocean, and I noticed a smooth shape surfacing now and then under the end of the pier. Once I got down there, the sea lion had swum closer to the beach on the side of the pier, and I almost fell down the stairs trying to get closer for a better look. She even poked her head out of the water and barked. I watched her for a long time. Yes, I randomly decided it was a she. I love sea lions. They seem like such happy animals.
I rode the roller coast with my little brother Chandler, that behemoth behind me with the stud glasses, because he’d never ridden a roller coaster on the beach before. The beach really does make it more fun, which is good, because this was actually a pretty lame roller coaster. I’ll have to take him to Magic Mountain someday and show him a real roller coaster.
We had our shitzu, Maya with us, and dogs weren’t allowed on the actual beach, so Mom and I walked on the beach for a few minutes while everyone took Maya back to the car. I wasn’t leaving until I actually got to touch the ocean. Californians are funny. They bundle up if the temperature drops below 70, but they’ll throw on their bikinis and jump into the freezing ocean in April, no problem. It was definitely cold. I rolled up my jeans and let the water run over my feet, but that was it. It felt good to feel the ocean though, and to walk on a beach. Every time I visit the ocean, it’s like something inside me that’s been holding its breath finally lets go. Maybe I’ll live by the ocean someday.
Sigh. I love the beach.
Nature never fails to inspire and encourage me. While out on a run/walk/stop and pet cats the other day, I noticed tiny little flowers growing through the cracks on the sidewalk.
The wisdom and perfection of nature astounds me. Even when faced with a seemingly huge obstacle (like a slab of concrete) these flowers still found a way to grow and blossom into what they were always meant to become.
I think we can take a lesson from that.
I visited my family this past weekend and while I was out gathering eggs from my dad’s chickens, I noticed that something in the air felt different. I recognized it.
Even though there was still snow on the ground and my ears were numb from the cold, I swear I could smell spring. Winter isn’t just about the cold or darkness, I always feel like something in the air is missing. Everything feels dead to me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the air is definitely different in the spring and summer. I’ve felt it a few times over the last two weeks, and each time it fills me up with tingly, bubbly joy. I feel like laughing and crying at once. I feel like I’m getting something that I’ve been deprived of for a long time, something I didn’t realize I was starving for. I never notice when that magic in the air fades away, but I notice when it comes back.
I saw green things for the first time in months.
This is exactly how I feel in the spring.
If you’ve been reading Handprint Soul for more than a day or two, you know that I’m not the biggest fan of winter. In fact, this is the time of year when I usually begin my annual “daffodil mope,” where I feel dead and gray inside until the first daffodils pop up and fill me with hope.
I have to admit though, winter can be pretty sometimes. Though I much prefer sunshine, flowers, and green grass, it’s hard not to appreciate the silver and blue palette of winter.
I woke up to the first decent snowfall we’ve had all year, and I decided to get outside for a tromp through our famous Utah powder before it melted off the tree branches.
I love the way snow looks when it clings to the branches. It makes my neighborhood look like Narnia.
It just goes to show that there’s beauty in everything, even and especially the uncomfortable things.