The Valley is hot. The corn was harvested, now dust devils play in the fields across from the house like spoiled children. Life is an inside job for awhile.
Putting it all together…
Ah. There I am. Pieces of me, anyway. Some pieces from another incarnation are missing. I don’t see them. Poof!, like magic. The Disappeared. Self exile. There, I’ve confessed.
Other pieces, seedlings really - succulent, filled with longing, desire and……always seemed shy, never ready for debut. Some things don’t seem to change. I always told them, “When? Share with me. Include me. Inspire me.” But they only spoke when they were damn good and ready. I have always been aware of time. Not them. My needs and desires never ruled them. I was their muse.
Unpacking. Or is it Unveiling? I suppose that has to do with expectation. I won’t tell you which it is for me. I have three lots of storage. This one includes old drawings stuffed in boxes. One large portfolio. Poems, mostly unfinished. 1976 was an incoherent year. I will tell you that. Others…..
Pieces of ink and color
Road warriors and prophets
Proof of Life banished
Everywhere I went they screamed like banchees
An ache like a monument rooted in me
Living without them was akin to
Trying to cut off my leg while dancing
Balance was impossible
My right arm has trails of my cat’s life on it. Skin pricks. Scratches. Subtle, barely noticeable lines. I feel them when I’m drifting off in thought. I find my left hand wandering there, tracing them, like walking down a historical path and reading the markers. Some are old and difficult to feel. Others are fresh. They occur when I hold her, when I talk to her and reassure her that everything will be fine regardless of her illness. She holds onto me – once, she actually fell asleep in my arms like an infant. Her head slowly rolled forward as her eyes closed. Her weight shifted, her muscles relaxed and she slept while I stood in front of the mirror watching her in an attempt to memorize the moment. She woke a few minutes later and left another light mark on my arm as she catapulted herself to the floor. These are not microscopic ephemera. These are height marks on the corner molding, stories of silly antics, staring contests and food wars. Twelve years of caring, that’s what these lines are. I don’t want them all to heal. When she’s gone, I want to reach over and feel where she’s been. There is a mark for every place we’ve lived, every major life event. When my husband died, she clung to me. Every place I went, she followed. She is a vocal cat but she went into mourning and was silent for a very long time. When I had heart surgery she slept on my lap all the time never scratching me, just purring and digging in with her nose and ears, rubbing and watching. I don’t know how she knew not to scratch me. When I healed, she returned to sleeping on the bed.
I am not moving. I am breathing. I am fully alive. I am pain. I am love. I am Resurrection. I know because I feel pain of wings sprouting…..with gemstones and stitching made from tales of Truth and Guidance. I am an Artist. A Writer. I am a Maker. I am a teller of stories and Love. I am the only true God. I am me.
Knowing who you are in spite of what they tell you. Feeling it without words or visuals. Smelling it in the air, under the current of the wind, on top of the mountain. Kneeling to Yourself and no other.
Raising dragons and the moon at the same time. Standing in the shadow of both and seeing the same thing.
© jacqualine-marie baxman 2014
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Jung
So, what’s a Blog Hop? Basically, a Blog Hop introduces you to a world of different bloggers that you will probably be very interested in getting to know but would otherwise possibly not have known about. A blogger suggests a format/premise, asks you to participate, you follow the guidelines they pass to you and ask you to post your results, and you select others to do the same thing the following week on their blogs. Voila! Adventure is born. I was introduced to this Blog Hop by Tammy Vitale. Read her info below and explore her blog along with the blogs of the others mentioned. Delve into their worlds and see what I mean. We all pretty much rock.
This is a name to remember if you aren’t familiar with it. Gifted artist, writer, inspirational coach, environmental supporter (the list goes on) and friend via Facebook whom I have now been following and e-chatting with for a long time and consider to be the one and only HELL YES!!! Guru (although I think she and I both dislike the label and concept of Guru) – that’s her – all these things, and then some. She is amazing.
Tammy was invited to the Blog Hop by Margie Goodchild (tangerinemeg). I was, of course, invited by Tammy and now Su Swanne (info below) is invited by me. You might also be interested in Beth DeSombre and Mo Davies (links found below) who were also invited by Tammy. It’s like a treasure hunt. So here I am, walking on the ever-changing landscape of my blog, asking you to take a few moments and read these brilliant women and feel their presence on the internet and in life in general. I love Tammy’s art and her dedication to the inspiration and guidance of women who embark on a new path toward their best possible life. We live in a changing world and Tammy knows how to weather the storms of change and will help each of us do the same. She encourages us to step off the curb wearing our best dress and make no excuses. She is genuine and strong and I am grateful to say that she is friend – lucky for me and a lot of other people for being able to utter that statement.
So you know, I am a writer who doesn’t write enough, an artist who still sits on the floor now and then with scissors and glue, and a technology whore who believes that doctors will be in your living room as full size holograms in the next ten years. I just want to make sure my hair is done when they show up, hence my Green Not Hazel twitter bio. I’m not kidding.
Here is the format/premise of this Blog Hop I mentioned above. They differ. This Blog Hop asks that I answer four questions. The questions focus on writing. I’ll repeat what Tammy Vitale said because it’s also true for me: … is interesting, because I haven’t done as much lately as once, so I am as curious myself as any others might be as to the answer. Here we go!
1) What am I working on/writing?
I am working on several things, all connected to my voice, evidenced in the blog itself and the copious notes, clippings, and photographs I have stacked in a few Xerox boxes and on my computer. Not my spoken voice. But my, you know, VOICE. That big, truthful, expose’ of a voice – the story that connects the dots. One would think that by now I had it down; I’ve been writing for a trillion years. But I don’t. I am a late bloomer and easily distracted by shiny objects. That’s fine with me because I love shiny objects. They are a perfect balance of respite and flow. Each art form has shiny objects, the gems, the nuggets that cajole and entice. For me, some of these gems also translate into the making of art jewelry. I love stones and metal, marrying them and creating wearable art. There is a vocality in an art object that when worn, acts as a conduit of the soul. And there is a release of energy that only the trio of torch, hammer, and metal can produce, at least for me. I should add here that making anything at all is a passion of mine. Altered photographs, distorted images, lists, poems, and bits of recycled paper end up drenched in resin or wax and added like fodder to mixed media pieces. When I was recuperating from heart surgery I had to refrain from banging on metal so I wrote and made black polymer mini frames covered in hand carved rose buds. I still don’t know why I made the frames, but one can imagine. I always know why I write, maybe not the subject matter but I do know the reason. As I will say again below – I have no choice. It is who I am. It is what I hear – the breathing of the muse and those of us who understand the breathing of the muse know that if we do not listen, if we do not let it in, it will go elsewhere. Hence, I am always working on some aspect of something, even if the work is to think and ponder. Pondering is its own creative act. Just to be aware is a gift and bowing to the awareness is creating more awareness. The trick for me at this point in time (I’ve recently relocated and am enjoying a bit of a hiatus from anything at all, organizing the debris and welcoming the presence of new things – like the cows next door) is to ponder less and act more, to finish a piece, a page, a necklace, a list, or finish editing the 500 or so photographs I have of garages, tools, and used parts that will become an e-project or, most importantly, to compile those pages and pages of notes, poems and confessions and finally give it all the title it craves, a home. Now that I think of it, I might write to find a home. I am closer to getting most of this done than anyone realizes, including me. I am very, very close and immensely inspired.
2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
I’m not sure which genre my work fits into. I know it isn’t unusual. I’m sure it differs in some manner since we are all different as people, but I do not know in what way. I recently decided to be brutally honest in any work I did. I thought I had been, but realized that I’d held back, reserved the meat of the sandwich and only wrote the bread part which is, of course, predictable and ordinary. I have vowed to never be either again. This causes problems because not everyone understands us when we make this shift. There are consequences and rewards to everything. I no longer want to experience the consequences of holding back. The only possible reward would be safety, but sometimes safety is hell and hell is never a good place to live. These are hard lessons but that’s what I write about. The same is true of making jewelry and other art. Why make what others make? You become a competitor when you do this. Make who you are and you are happy. I make bold, honest and earthy pieces – so far. I can’t seem to make dainty work. It just doesn’t seem to happen. Life has been glorious but some of us are unwittingly thrown into the role of warrior and warriors have never worn dainty things.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I write to heal. It’s not very complicated. I write to heal myself and to heal others. We all need to be healed from something at some time. Ultimately, healing is what I do. Healing is what we should all do with our art, but I don’t believe we can actually heal other people directly, or even at all. I think we heal ourselves, then build a door. Maybe we heal and build at the same time. Maybe it’s a window we build. Someone passes by. They choose to look inside or they walk on. The curious ones might jiggle the door knob. The brave ones will pay attention and want to come inside. That’s the job of art – to seduce people to come inside for their own reasons, not …ours
I have been to the field of the Saints, she said
In the midst of the grey dawn
Sprouting like Grace at the ocean
Impaled by her joy as she spoke
I was freed by the Knowing that
She’d seen what I had only dreamed of
As I’ve said, I write because I have no choice. Cliché, perhaps, but true. As a child, I secretly carved designs on furniture – until the carvings were discovered and my father’s frown became a more regular expression. I still carve and sculpt when the mood strikes. I thought later in childhood that I really wanted to be a painter and have now painted for years but have never been very good at expressing myself through that medium. I just love to do it. I love it all, actually. I love art making. I’ve been making jewelry for nearly 12 years and can get lost in it but not like I can with writing. It has always been the writing, the words that like the pearls my mother wore with her red chiffon dress actually won the war. Our war was a real war because we – our family – did not value or support creativity. I’ve always found this odd because the one family member who chose not to express themselves creatively was the most talented of all of us. I think this was common for my generation, that some of our families exercised frustration in the act of terrorism and chains. My writing survived that damned war. Everything else is Lagniappe. Other things might end up bigger and better, but the writing will always be what matters most. It is the record keeper.
4) How does my writing process work?
My process is probably nothing more than paying attention. I am a master observer, a voyeur of sorts, and I know how this tendency was born. At the age of 9 or so, I was quarantined in my bedroom for 30 days. Scarlet Fever. Raging hallucinations. (In those days the treatment was daily injections of penicillin, a darkened room and “sponge” baths in a diluted solution of CN Plus Germicidal (no longer manufactured). Think Lysol mixed with Pine Sol. My room was blue with a rocking chair that had a striped fabric seat. My youngest brother was just a baby at the time and the summer was long and scattered with tanned construction workers rebuilding a sidewalk in our part of the neighborhood, each of them sweating and shouting as they laid down the new cement. One of them had blonde hair, blue eyes, perfectly straight white teeth and wore a white handkerchief around his neck to catch the beads of sweat. He was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
Horned dogs and colicky babies
All screaming at the same time
Lavender crickets kissing my feet
And the sun bleeding diamonds
Into a sieve made of grey glass
The Chigger Man knows my name
The flames of Hell are blue
With stripes that creak when the wind blows
Remind me tomorrow why you’ve come
How could I not pay attention? All I had to do was breathe and everything showed up. It still shows up. Once I stopped judging it, stopped expecting it to be what it did not want to be, it came faster, arriving when I needed it to and always with fresh news. Writing is the big VOICE dancing. Read Shakespeare. He must have danced with the gods. But my process really just involves knowing who I am, paying attention and leaving the light on for the muse. You will see. There are surprises coming.
The final part of the blog hop is to nominate three more people to follow this process. Since most of my friends are not bloggers, I found just one but she is worth three, in my opinion. Su Swanne is a good friend and fellow writer/blogger. She is a strong woman who could entertain you with her stories for more than a few stormy weekends. She is wise and funny, that respite and flow I mentioned. Su lives in Tucson, Arizona and writes The Traveling Alchemist and Swanne Song – Views From The Edge. She is a Facebook friend I first met through another social media site almost ten years ago. We’ve spent hours and hours on the phone discussing everything since them. Su has kindly accepted my invitation to this Blog Hop and will be posting her answers to these interesting questions next week. I thank her for this. I am looking forward to reading what she posts as I am always fascinated by her insight and understanding. Read her now and look for her Blog Hop contribution next weekend. Let me now introduce you to Su Swanne:
I have no agenda, preferring to take one day at a time, doing whatever I feel motivated to do. I am a student of Human Design and try to live my life as my true self, using the knowledge and understanding I have from my study.
I sometimes create beaded art, usually in the form of jewelry, and sometimes in other forms, such as window hangings and fan pulls, etc. Since leaving the road full time I spend time in my garden, experimenting with plants and designs to bring positive change to my environment.
Follow me on Twitter as Green Not Hazel. There are fun discoveries to be made wherever you look. Share our voices. Support the arts. Support women. Support women making art. Be happy. Change the world for the better. Be the best of the real you and pass it on.
I wasn’t born to stay in one spot, to nest in the same city as my youth – or even to remember much of my youth. I remember only parts of it. Early days seem doable and soft, although they weren’t.
Snippets and Themes.
Who knows why? We all have different natures,. Different back stories. Different angels and demons that visit. Some stay for tea. Some burn down the house.
I believe in understanding what has come before but I have more to do in life now than be mired in the goo that sticks me to the past.
Details are the meat of memory
We choose what we hook into
But only after the introspection of a lifetime
Dancing and costumed Saints
Vapor trails of fairy dust
Lightning strikes from leather belts
A priest who smelled of alcohol
Mother love and salvation
Bubbles that snap like glass
Making Making Making
My father threw out my dolls
Hugs so deep I lost my breath
So many goodbyes I lost my innocence
My baby brother healed me
James Dean – signed – black and white under a pillow.
Carving initials in dressers in a blue room
One month of quarantine
Scarlet fever so red I burned
It isn’t me in the mirror
3 a.m. desert driving
Dead family in a smoldering truck
Rabbits scattering like city bugs when the lights go on
My best friend is still my best friend
Musicians and their hearts
He loved me without question but not I
I could not stay
More on foot
Roads of brick
Sunsets so orange I froze
Feet in dirt in cool weather
All of it in my skin
Every pore saturated
Every bit of the hard drive full
Auto reboot and software updates
Defragging in process…
I was born right-brained. I can not change this. I no longer try. I no longer choose to pay the price of being born a curious gypsy in a family of solid choice, logical, left brained people who have all ended up broken. I might root myself for a bit, settle into a home base, but all of the memories are seeds for writing, for patching together a rich life and reclaiming everything that is mine. It is all mine. Every single moment. And this is the gift.
There has been so much. San Francisco. New York. New Orleans. There is a list. Back and Forth. And lately – Florida was a respite, a surprise and gift that saved my life, truly. Cared for in a difficult time by people who shocked me with their generosity and kindness. And there is more here. More everywhere. I have been blessed with the abundance of friendship over the years. This is my strength. I have learned to see angels and they have learned to see me.
Michigan was a visit to set some things right. To let go. To love – without judgment – my brother who is ill and a recent widower. I could not have lived with myself if I hadn’t gone. There is a history of unfinished business. Perhaps, in another life there will be a resolution. For now, we are at a stalemate. But, at least I can breathe.
We look in the mirror and see a face, lines like a map of progress and decline. We move left, the reflection moves right. We exhale and what comes out is a cloud of colors. The colors collide and distort. The dark ones dissipate. The light ones glow. We choose. We speak to the shadow in the mirror and we say hello or goodbye.
Back in California, Los Angeles for now. The weather. That small bit of familiarity , the restaurants and film. I am my mother‘s daughter. Los Angeles is the place I found on my own. The seeds I left for a late life garden that I want to tend to. The core of everything possible.
I am a writer and an artist. I am passionate and free-spirited. I will never want to be anything else other than simply happy. I am a bundle of stories. I am a soulful traveler. I am the girl in the mirror in the snow in the past saying goodbye. I am alive. I am filled with possibility…
“Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.” – ― Rumi
Michigan. January. 2014. Grey. Minus 6 this morning.
Visiting my brother. My sister-in-law died – unexpectedly.
We often learn about ourselves through other people’s lives. Compassion. Anger. Grief is an unexpected guest that stays as long as it wants. There is no bargaining with it, no way to get it to leave your house until it is ready.
I have been here before, to this place of mourning. A husband, a mother, on and on as it is for all of us as we age and at this moment it does not matter because this is theirs. This is their winter and all I can do is be here for now until I am the guest who leaves. Unlike grief, I will know when to go, when to shake off my boots and let my feet breathe again and possibly even run them through sand. I can do this. I can re-invent the days, see the buds on things that grow and smile when I think about the egrets in Florida and the street people in Los Angeles and know – in my mended heart – that nothing ever dies.
I have been here myself in other ways. As a patient. As a person who questions God. As a woman who closed her eyes and did not expect to wake up whole. You go into an abyss. Your bravery taunts you. Will you cry in front of everyone. Will they know your fear.
I loved her. She was a sister I would have chosen. We say of some people “She was a saint”. She was. A sweet woman who opened herself day after day. But nothing changes fact. Nothing. It could have been me and it wasn’t – not yet but it will be one day. It will be all of us. My emotions are like the trees. Uneven. Often contained and harsh. Mostly focused – on a mission. I want no waste, no useless action. I want to rid myself of everything and accumulate more. I want to live in fast forward and slow motion at the same time. I want. I want. I want.
Love must be without judgment. It can be a component of all things. But not judgment. Otherwise it is not love. Yet, my feet itch and my hair wants to be free again, knotting in the wind in the middle of a warm day. It will happen. There really is no permanence…
We are all things at the same time, ripples of energy, connected by a core so thick that it will never crack open. We are anchored in our souls. Spring will arrive. Snow will melt. The edge I have is that I have learned that this will happen. It has, time and again. I believe in it. I rely on it. It is all there is.
Stop the words now. Open the window in the center of your chest, and let the spirits fly in and out. ~Rumi
A few new items in the Etsy shop. More to come. In the meantime, it has been quiet in Florida, or at least on Stone Island. Palm trees and rain. The weather moves in and out like a thief sometimes. This has been a fascinating summer.
I’ve been playing with a few new phone apps and will be posting some photos soon. For now, working on some designs and taking photographs of Stone Island and planning the big move. By end of year, I’ll have a wonderful announcement!! Stay tuned.
If you read my blog, you know I’ve been living in Central Florida, but also that this was never to be a permanent place for me. I was given a gift of a type of sabbatical, a gift for which I am utterly and profoundly grateful. The gift givers know this but I will say it again – I am utterly and profoundly grateful. Sabbaticals usually last up to one year. By my calculations, it’s time to begin planning my return to California.
You also know that this year has involved my recovery from open heart surgery – a surprise and shock both to me and the gift givers. This has come with numerous adjustments to lifestyle and the necessity to re-think “it all“. (not so serious, so follow the link….) So, I will be returning to California somewhere around the end of this year, give or take a month or two on either side of the 2013/2014 bridge. “Give or take”. I find this an interesting phrase. Let’s face it, we never know what’s coming up. We only know what’s behind us – and then, we only know our version of that and it might not even be true – and then we think we know where we are at any given moment. It’s all fairly up in the air, isn’t it….
The only point to all of this: Years ago, as I was traveling around the country having a fine time and living in wonderful places (New Orleans, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Los Angeles….I even lived in Bend, OR for a while for goodness sake), I joked and said there were two places I’d never go – ever – no matter what. Ever. One was Minnesota (no reason other than it seemed dreary and dank) and the other was Florida. People raised in New York (like me), tended to retire here and everyone just aged, turning into orange leathery things and wearing socks with shorts. Yes, I said socks with shorts. People do that. Ugh. But here, in this crazy, humid, Republican, gun oriented, lack-of-any-real-good-organic-food-ingredients, redneck mecca, I have found some truly incredible friends, continue to develop my iconography skills :), have once again fallen totally in love with trees, and will continue to take notes and one day write something about why never saying never is really a good idea. I am truly blessed.
……was so beautiful, that I am reminded of this quote…………….
“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous” ….Aristotle
Today, the rain is hovering and blowing about……we will see what comes after the storm.