Posted by: mew | November 30, 2009

not quite a silk gown

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”

– Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

“Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.”

– Barbara Johnson

“With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.”

– Chinese Proverb

When my internet connection acted up for such a long period of time, it threw off my work schedule (since I work from home and receive files from hundreds of miles away, that DSL is essential), and I got into a bit of a funk toward the end when it was supposed to be fixed and then, well, wasn’t.  I continued to make art every day for about the first five days, and then I thought, “What’s the point?  Even if I post twice a day for the first two days I have access, I’ll still be behind — and then I’ll never catch up on my other work.”

(Please note:  the other work is the kind I get paid in currency to do.)

This thought process, along with repeatedly checking to see if the connection had magically returned, anguishing over it when it had not, and then pining for my daily dose of inspiration on other blogs, plus the negative effects of not making art, was really spinning me down into a dark, dank well.  I was grumpy and even once gave in to tears, mostly over having broken my near-perfect posting-every-day record at my other blog.

I struggle with perfectionism, big time.  (I sometimes think of myself as a recovering perfectionist, because it really is one of the most damaging addictive thought patterns I’ve experienced.)  And on the day I broke down in tears, I kept getting messages from the Universe about patience.

A book fell open to a favorite quote about taking one’s time.  A Chinese fortune about waiting patiently popped to the top of my found-papers stash while preparing to collage.  The identification needs of the moment required a long, meditative wait at the DMV.  A friend (and mirror) bemoaned how, if she had only been more patient, things would have gone quite differently — and perhaps more in line with her desires.

And the telephone company’s technician decided there was nothing whatsoever wrong with our connection inside of two minutes.  After his hasty departure, we spent the better part of three more days with no DSL.  If that wasn’t a clear message about rush jobs being a bad idea, I’m not sure what would have gotten my attention.

Eventually, I did receive the message.  It took another day for me to act upon it — or rather, not act.  BE.

I decided to just let go.  I dropped AEDM like a hot potato (although I did continue to crochet for serenity), stopped carrying the camera with me on walks into the garden for a few days because it made me think of how many days I’d missed my garden blog’s posting schedule, and picked up a book I’d been wanting to read.  It’s one of those guilty-pleasures books, a truly cheesy Regency romance, which I even allowed myself to put down in order to nap.  (Naps aren’t usually part of my routine.  When you work at home, naps can be the first step on a steep, dangerous, and slippery slope.)

But it was only then that I realized how tired I was.  And I’m glad things worked out to give me a rest before the holiday travel season was upon us.  I’ve been known to push until I made myself sick.  Maybe I should be writing the befuddled phone company technician a thank-you note.  That morning, he may have been acting as a wise messenger, without knowing it.

[A further note for those following my AEDM progress:  I still got a lot more art done in November than I usually manage in a month, and some of the partly-finished projects, idea notes, and sketches will end up fueling further art down the road.  Probably fueling some blog posts, too.  The whole idea of AEDM, in and of itself, was a motivating factor that I normally do not feel around this meditative time of year, when the earth is drawing in upon itself to refuel and restore its reserves.  Thus, I can heartily recommend Art Every Day Month 2010 to any artists that might be considering it.  I’ll probably be joining you!  And I can urge you all to visit Leah Piken Kolidas’ website for links to all of the participating artists and their wonderful projects.]

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Responses

  1. I am sorry to hear about your technical difficulties. That is so frustrating! I can sympathize with the obsession not to get behind in posting. My husband can’t understand why I would voluntarily give myself more deadlines to meet. Enjoy those project ideas and I look forward to seeing some of them on AED.

    • Yes, F. has trouble understanding why it’s so important to me to keep the posting record going. It’s something about writing every day, just a little bit, and getting comfortable with the output of words, and proving to myself I can do it, I think. Thanks for the sympathy 🙂

  2. It has been a pleasure visiting your blog and seeing your work this month, Meredith.
    I, too, look forward to AEDM in 2010!!

    • Thanks, Judy! Same goes for visiting your blog 🙂

  3. Sometimes the universe gives you exactly what you need, even when you don’t think you want it. Good for your for recognizing that.

    • Thanks, Sandy! (Sometimes I think I’m walking around pretty blind to the messages the universe is giving…)

  4. Meredith, you were not alone in getting waylaid by life’s, uhh.. snags. Did you ever find out what was wrong with the DSL? I find that very frustrating, and I’m in tech support so I am curious how it all turned out! Obviously, you are connected. 🙂 May you take the art you made in November and the lessons learned with you into December and the New Year! Blessings..

    • It was wiring and some device on the outside of the house. The problem is that, if a technician shows up when it decides to flicker on, apparently the problem becomes more or less invisible. He’d have needed to stay for longer and fiddle with the right wires to discover the issue — or at least that’s what I was told by another technician. The problem may have arisen when we had buckets of rain down here in our little valley. (Obviously, this makes sense to me now — but at the time, I didn’t care what the actual issue was, I just wanted it fixed, pronto! 😉

      Such kind words, Sara. Thank you!

  5. Lovely color, it’s my favorite.

  6. I’ll be joining you for AEDM in 2010. It has been a fun month.

    • Robin: glad you liked it. 🙂

      Rachel: I’ll see you then!

  7. i wish i were closer, to have wiped your tears… and yell at everyone that got in your way. lol
    i love that picture up top… love you too, dear friend.
    xo

    • Christina, my friend, you are so kind 🙂 I wish you had been closer!

  8. what a yummy red!!

    i’m so sorry about the technical issues. but i’m glad to hear you took good care of yourself and that you’re acknowledging all that you did accomplish this month (sounds like a lot to me!!)

    ((big hugs!))

    • Thank you so much, Leah — and not just for the comment. Special thanks for running Art Every Day Month so successfully, year after year shepherding all of the various artists through. It’s an amazing bunch, and I’m so glad I got to meet so many of them via your brainchild. 🙂

      As for what I don’t acknowledge, I think I tend to undervalue my work and beat myself up for not being productive enough — but I *know* that I beat all my previous November records for art this month. Hurray!

  9. funny how the universe works isn’t it? what you thought you needed the most, is what you needed the least at that moment. i’m glad you were able to get the rest that your body, mind, and soul needed.

    • It is funny. After the fact, it always seems so obvious, too. But during is another matter entirely.

      Thanks 🙂

  10. I too struggle with perfectionism. I seem to often feel like I don’t do enough. I also get excited about so many different things and wonder why I can’t do it all. I think it is wonderful that you had more creativity this month – this is truly what AEDM is all about. Have a lovely holiday.

    • Thank you, Kathryn. I suspect perfectionism and the desire to do it all are not uncommon among the tribe of artists 🙂

  11. meredith, i can completely relate to all of this- and everything you said is just one more message i am getting this week from the universe!
    first of all we live out in the middle of nowhere- i have the same exact internet connection problem. it is unreal. we started out with skydsl which is just another glamouros word for dial up- and now it is a bit better with a radiowave connection but has its days.

    on patience: i had no choice but to let go of perfection when i became a mom- i do though struggle with it almost everyday. it creeps up on me when i least expect it- so i hear you meredith! and i love how it in the end came together for you- especially the napping part! 🙂

    more importantly, (don’t want to write a novel here) i have been experiencing an enjoyable relationship with the universe lately. i have had to a few things come up that i did not know how to solve that beautiful, magically took care of themselves- i love it when things like that happen!

    • So wonderful to hear from you, elsa, and thanks for the sympathy on the internet connection and the commiseration from a fellow recovering perfectionist. Having been a nanny to three children under four a few years ago, I can totally see how becoming a mom would dump your perfectionism to the floor — and gleefully scatter it all over the room and under the bed, probably.

      I am so glad to hear about the enjoyable relationship to the universe, myself. That’s what I hope for me and for all of us to be able to develop 🙂 I’ve been working on Trust — which some call Faith — for a little while now, and discovered, looking back on my life that things do just seem to work out if given time.


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