A little dog can be a muse amongst the madness
My muse is a willful little sprite sometimes. It comes when it feels like it and goes away for a time, where, I do not know. Or perhaps I do. I think my muse is gone when I am not inspired to write or create images with my camera or go to the museum. But the muse is a tricky little spirit and does have a mind of its own.
Of late I have been wrapped up in a campaign to rebuild my nest. And what a nest it had become. I began by sorting and cleaning out drawers earlier this year. Then I ruminated on all the "stuff" I have accumulated after 30 years in this house of mine. I think truly my muse was feeling cramped. Finally it said "Enough! I hereby inspire you to get on the stick! Yes, writing and blogging and capturing images and having fun is very, very important to the soul and the spirit, especially to a creative type as you aspire to be. But I need room to breathe. I need a place to relax and reflect and do all the things a muse must do to inspire you."
So I heard the voice of the muse. Loud. Clear. And without hesitation I dove into the project my muse wanted me to do. And so it goes. I have sold, given away and thrown out stuff I had been hanging onto for years and years and years. Things that obviously did not serve me and were of no use to anyone else stored in the garage, in a closet or even sitting out in plain site gathering dust.
And it is feeling good.
And I am cleaning, painting, renovating and more. I can hardly recognize my home sweet home and it is just getting better and better.
And so, if you have been wondering why there has not been a blog (this time) for a couple three weeks, this is why. The Muse has a mind of its own. And I must listen and make it feel welcome or it might surely fly away....maybe for good.
It's all in how you look at it
Sometimes I forget to be myself. At those times, I try to be whoever the person I am with expects me to be. Or, even worse, I try to be who I think I should be based on some old input I received at some distant point in my past. Nuts. I have to shake myself and ask myself, "What's up with that?"
The answer to that question sometimes surprises me, often baffles me but always sheds some light on who I think I am and who I want to be.
Here are five things I have found that make relationships and life in general so much easier to live. I'm not saying I always remember to do these things, but I try. And when I do, I feel oh so much better about myself and about life in general.
1. Be authentic. My grandmother always said it was so much easier to tell the truth because then you don't have to remember everything you said. Lies are much harder to track. If I come from my heart I find I don't have to keep embroidering and backtracking. Be real. It really is the best policy. The truth will indeed set you free. (I don't usually quote Bible verse, but this comes from John 8:32)
2. Don’t Equivocate. I know I have done this in the past and tend to do it even now when I fear the truth will hurt someone's feelings or something just plain makes me uncomfortable. Ambiguity is not good if you want to have good, clear communication. I am finding more and more that being direct is much better. But before I speak, I try to remember to ask myself, "Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?" (Siddhartha) I even try to ask it about the things I think about myself, not always easy to remember to do.
3. Get It Out of Your System. Mornings to do something called Morning Pages. This is a spiritual practice advocated by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way and several other books on how to know yourself and what you want out of life. It is three pages of a sort of mind dump that you most optimally should do up waking. I try to do it before I even get out of bed. It is a place to dump all the negativity and ruminations that you might wake up with. It is letting your anger and frustrations out, your whiney rants, your blames and resentments flow out onto the pages that only you will ever see. If is important not to share these pages with anyone. In fact, you should not even read them yourself until time has past and then only to see what may have changed over time. When I consistently practice this, I find my day goes better and remarkably the inner critical voice fades far into the background.
4. Know Yourself. I like to take myself out now and then. I like to go to the movies, to the beach, on a drive in the mountains all alone. It gives me time to think. And as I think, I think about what I am thinking and take notes (at least mentally). I like to sit alone sometimes and just watch the world go by. As I do, I observe myself and how I comfortable I am. Do I blend in or do I feel like a stick out? Usually I find no one pays any attention to me if I don't want them to. I can go for a walk, to the park, to a museum, the gym by myself. While I am doing any of these things, it is as if I am on a date with myself. I find I have opinions and feelings about the experiences and the things I encounter I probably would not have been aware of had I been with someone else. I get to know myself.
You can also get to know yourself be observing yourself. I do this when I am with other people or in a group by taking even just a second to step outside myself and observing how I am in the situation. How do I feel? How am I positioned? Am I comfortable or ill at ease? Do I like what I am doing or do I resent it? Do I want to be with the people I am with or be somewhere else? If I answer these questions honestly for myself, I definitely find I get to know myself...like it or not. And if I don't like it, I can then do something to change myself or the situation...or both.
5. Relax. Your are who you are and if you practice at being yourself, you will be yourself...if you just relax. Life is not a contest. I remind myself I am the best me I can me and I can improve that as I go. I have been working on being myself for many years and suddenly it has hit me. I am myself already. Whom else would I be? So I relax and practice the first four items on this list, do number five and realize that everything's going to be okay if I just remember breathe deep, hold my own hand, and relax.
Final Note: I am not perfect at any of this. I am writing this for myself as much as anyone else. But I think it helps to create lists. Lists help me organize my thoughts. My thoughts then become things and those things are what becomes me. I am someone working on being the best me I can be.
I think I am getting old. I remember things when they were something more than mindless entertainment. Not that there is anything wrong with mindless entertainment. I watch some pretty mindless television and partake in some fairly mindless reveries here on this blog. They have their place. And I am sure the National Orange Show (Now the National Orange Show Festival has it's place.
But let's not call it the National Orange Show at all.
I went with a friend this afternoon on the last day of the festival. We could count the homages to orange and the Inland Empire's citrus heritage on one hand. There was an art exhibit hall tucked away in a building far from the fun-seeking crowd. You really had to look for it. Really hard. It was very nice, high-tone almost. It even had a display celebrating the history of the Orange Show complete with a video showing the Orange Show's history of the decades since it began in 1911. This must have been very sad for anyone who remembers the shows of years past. Because this NOS had no resemblance to anything in years past.
It was carnival pure and simple. Maybe if you stretch the meaning of the word, it might be called a festival...but not in my humble opinion. There were rides galore, game aplenty, carny food booths with deep friend Oreos, Snickers and Bananas (no oranges), and few (very few) vendors displaying their wares and about six animals on display.
The crowd was made up of families and young people mostly, having fun and being very orderly. They had better be. We had to go through a security checkpoint where we were patted down and any of our bags searched and we had to empty our pockets. I guess such is life in the age of wars on terror...especially in San Bernardino. And I do appreciate their due diligence in trying to make the event safe and sane for all us. I do. I really truly do.
Sadly, though, I remember the Orange Shows of years ago. There were rides and such, but they were a supplement to the citrus exhibit, vendor halls, entertainment meant for a cross-section of audiences and the like. I can see why they cut it to four days. Budget or whatever, it not worth more than one visit...at least for this jaded old curmudgeon.
Yet I did get some fun shots of kids and adults having a blast and I guess that is the point. That is what a festival or carnival should provide. But don't call it the National Orange Show...with nary an orange in sight (except in that art hall exhibit I mentioned earlier). I guess I am stuck in tradition. I fear I am obsolete. I know I will not be going back to this event any time soon. It's just not my cup of tea. I wonder if the kids today would not what that expression means? Gee, I am getting old.
Like a rose in full bloom, June is the burgeoning fulfillment of spring moving into summer. It is the month of weddings and fathers. It is when gardens are in riot with color and scent, the fruits and vegetables begin to ripen and the air is warm with anticipation for the full-hearted celebration of every living thing at its sensuous best.
June is the month when dreams can come true. Rainbows follow storms and unicorns just might be seen at the shore communing with mermaids. It is the month when all things seem possible.
Summer is at hand. Welcome June.