I do not understand time right now. How is it already April 11th? WHAT IS HAPPENING? I feel like a kid on a merry-go-round – hanging on for dear life while the thing spins me into a state of panic and vertigo, and I know I’m not alone.
I keep opening this little portal of light with my fingers hovering over the keyboard, but everything I want to tell you isn’t quite ripe enough to share yet. Everything that’s alive in me is a little too raw for anything but vaguebooking and cryptograms and that is just not my jam. It used to be, trust me, but these days I am incredibly sensitive to how easy it is to read a thing and wonder “are they talking about me?”.
Unless you’ve been intimately involved with me in meatspace, no, it’s not about you, but still. It’s so uncomfortable to read someone’s “no context and no fucks given” update, isn’t it?
Unless it’s poetry, and then, somehow that covers a multitude of sins, but I have writer’s block at the moment, so that’s not happening either.
Butandalso I am art journaling like my hair is on fire, so I am letting it all out – just not necessarily in a way that is comprehensible to anyone but me, so this space has been neglected. I’d apologize for that, but truly, I’m not sorry. The space I’m holding for myself right now feels sacred.
Let me share the things I can, though.
I’m doing #the100dayproject, which I tweaked so that there is no “behind”. Last time I attempted this, getting behind totally ruined it for me because I had no idea how to be gentle with myself and break the rules that were standing in the way of my continuing. This time, I’ve given myself so much grace. I’m on day #45. Everyone else is on day #49. I do not care. I truly don’t. I have done FORTY-FIVE process videos. FORTY-FIVE.
If you’re a regular reader, you know that I just had an intense few days hanging out with my son, known affectionately in my community as GG, and getting him ready to move to the far North (Rankin Inlet for those who are curious about how far North). I made sure he had an adequate coat, some gloves, and enough mama hugs to last him for a while and then this morning at 6 a.m., he got on a plane.
I don’t know when I’ll see him or his brother, with whom he is going to live, again because that trip up there is one helluva trip and none of us are in the financial position to make that happen any time soon.
I’ve known this was the plan for a couple of weeks and I had to move from terror to optimism, but I did it. I did it and as I type to you today I am in love with the way my brainmeats can wrangle a thing as heavy as this – my seriously mentally ill son moving way beyond my mama’s reach to start a new life in a hostile climate – so that I feel upbeat about it.
He’ll be surrounded by cousins and aunts and uncles and I am just gonna keep that faith that if he falls, there will be someone to catch him.
Please cross your fingers with me for both of us.
All the good luck, GG!
Of course, I found out that GG was moving up North about a week after I started my #the100dayproject and there was no way I could keep up with it while he was here, but instead of telling myself I’ve failed, I’m telling myself I’ve paused. I’m going to resume on Monday with Day #21 as though I never stopped, and that works for me. Pausing is allowed, especially when life throws you a curveball.
Here are a few of the 20 spreads I’ve done so far.
And HELLLLLLOOOOOOO! This starts TONIGHT at 7 p.m. EDT
I am calm and centered and totally ready for it, too! Get more details here.
There’s already a lesson on using templates and coloring pages in your work, and another one on how to create templates in Procreate if you’re into that. On Friday, we’re going to do a little journey to the Realm of Air to gather information about how we might engage with it as a way to express ourselves in our mixed media art. We’ll talk symbols, colors, and other associations and correspondences in preparation for the weekend. On Saturday, we’re going to work with a template, which we’ll fill with the colors and symbols that best represent what we want to call in from the Realm of Air, and then on Sunday, we’ll work intuitively on a mixed media painting!
You’ll have forever access to the replays which will go up shortly after each day’s gathering ends so if you’re planning on doing the St. Paddy’s thing today, you can do the Friday Replay before diving in with me live at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Are you in? Please use coupon code WILDERLOVE to get 20% off.
This is the first in a series of four that we’ll be doing together at the solstices and equinoxes throughout 2023! Next up will be fire at summer solstice. WOO HOO!
And that’s all I’ve got for today. Here’s a picture of Salem for tax because I know this is short, but I’ve got some running around to do before I meet you at 7!
If you read my last post, you may have noticed a sneak peek of a painting in progress. It was just a drawing in black paint with black hair at that point. Here it is again in case you missed it.
I had a couple of classes to attend the day after (thankfully with camera & mic off) so I splashed around the entire time and ended up with this.
Back when I was still in school I had a teacher who told us that if you doodle or draw when you’re listening to lectures, you’ll retain more information, and I gotta tell you! It works! So when I have a class that involves a lot of listening, I’ll paint along. Two birds, one stone. Ta da!
I don’t know who said the thing about “unaliving* your darlings” – but I do know it’s been advice given to new writers for an eon about how ruthless a writer must be when they edit, and while I agree with that (I’m also a writer), it doesn’t transfer well to mixed media art.
Because, look, this is where I left the painting you see above as we wrapped up the latest PTTM:
It’s just okay, right? I mean. It’s cute, sure, and it’s what I had time for, but it wasn’t quite right and it didn’t make me *ridiculously* happy. That copper in the center doesn’t do anything for me all alone like that. The bee’s legs aren’t dark enough for my liking. The lettering is “meh”. The background is too samey samey.
It needed more, so after I finished my work for the day, I snatched it up and took a few deep breaths and asked it what it wanted, and that led me to image you see at the top of this post.
Turns out all it needed was a little love and attention, some lime green and more stenciling, and a word sticker to love it up so that I reached the nirvana that is best described as “OH YES, ARTGASM”.
So, I don’t kill my darlings. I keep going until I’m happy.
Sometimes that requires me to step away for a while, which lets me see things more clearly. Sometimes I’ll put the painting on the painty table and just let it sit there until the next step suggests itself. In this case, I fiddled with the tiny details first – adding a bolder outline around the leaves, and darkening the legs on the fuzz butt. I scrubbed out the lettering because it just wasn’t working for me, and walked away for a while to make myself a steak dinner.
When I came back to the table, I caught sight of a bottle of bright lime green Nova paint out of the corner of my eye and my whole body said YES. Then I realized I’d lost most of the honeycomb stenciling I’d put in the background so I brought it back with layers of copper and gold. I added little bits of furry black in the body of the bee and slapped on a sticker. A border in black finished it up and voila.
Back when I first started dabbling in mixed media art, I had zero patience with myself at all. I had no skills. I didn’t know how the mediums I was using worked together. I failed and failed and failed and failed and so many paintings ended up in the trash UNTIL one day I realized that I wasn’t giving myself enough time or space to fail *well*. I needed to become more critical (in the good way) of what was happening on the page. I needed to start asking myself questions about what I didn’t like and what I could do so that I liked it. I began experimenting with the push-pull of adding and subtracting. Do a little of this, push some of it back, pull some of THAT BIT forward. Add a little more of this.
It’s a bit like a dance, and I’ve really grown to love it.
Does doing this dance mean I’m ridiculously happy and in love with every single thing I do? No. It doesn’t mean that. It does mean I fail better, though. It means that instead of tossing a thing in the garbage, I examine it. I look closely. I learn about what went wrong for me and how I might change it so it works better. At the end of every session, I want to feel as though I delighted myself OR as though I learned something really valuable that I can take into my next session.
One of our first activities in Moonshine 2023 this year was to engage in some preliminary work in preparation for the little spells that my Wing Witch, Sarah Trumpp will be providing us with all year long. She instructed us in finding our “soul number” and our “year number” using a combo deal of tarot and numerology.
Of course, I’d long since done this way back in the early aughts (like, the late 1980’s) when I first immersed myself in all things witchy including tarot, so I knew that my soul number is 9 which correlates to The Hermit in the tarot.
Here’s what that looks like in my favourite deck – the one I cut my teeth on and the one I still reach for all these years later.
Here’s what it looks like in the deck I recommend to beginners with tarot – The Colman Smith (or Rider Waite if you prefer – I just like to honour the artist, Patricia Colman, because she’s a part of my spiritual lineage).
I’m sharing this with you because as I started filling out my little worksheet in prep for the coming year of tarot magic, it got me to thinking about how this shows up in my life. It reminded me that the number one question I get from people – students and casual observers alike, is something like this:
“How do you manage to be so “authentic” and “honest”?” The answer is complicated, but I’m going to give it a whack.
First, it’s probably the ’tism. Yes, I’m coming to accept that I am, as friends and family have suggested, most likely actually autistic. No, I am not pursuing a formal diagnosis because I don’t “need treatment” for it. I need accommodation, and I’m already providing that. It’s also incredibly difficult to get a diagnosis if you are a woman because studies on autism were done on young white boys. It shows up in a million different flavours that weren’t covered in those studies or in the current diagnostics, but when I’ve done the quizzes – even the long-form ones – I get “You are probably autistic”.
Fine. If it helps me understand myself, if it helps me be gentler with myself about how I work and what my needs are, I’ll take it.
I’ve also got neurodivergence as a result of complex trauma so I am extra spicy. This extra spiciness means I *can* play along with social norms, but I find it so exhausting, so costly to my sense of well-being, that I mostly *don’t*. And that means saying what is true for me, even when it’s uncomfortable. That means I’ve got no bandwidth for pretending I’m okay when I’m not. That means if my boundaries are violated, I’m likely to say so. It means that I’m too fucking tired to pretend I’m perfect, and I’m way too invested in being accepted *as I am* to try to twist myself into configurations that are socially acceptable but impossible for me to sustain.
It also means that I can drop you like you’re hot if you harm me. This usually takes a few strikes because I trauma bond easily and I have a powerful fawn trauma response, but once I get that you’re not good for me, I’m done like dinner.
Does this make me risky to love?
Sure, if you’re planning on fucking me over. But if you’re willing to do rupture and repair with me, I’m easy to love and not just easy, I’m a delight. I’m full of grace and empathy. I’m loyal. I’m *devoted*.
But fuck me over? I’m out. I may still love you. I’ll probably love you forever, but I will deny you access to me so fast your head will spin and it will take *a lot* to get me back.
So, all of that. The autism. The trauma. I’m also INFJ, and I’m The Hermit.
Identifying as The Hermit means that I have befriended my solitude. I don’t need to be in constant contact with humans. I don’t need a romantic partnership to feel complete. I do yearn for a friend group I can feel at home in my own skin with, but I don’t feel like my life has less value because I haven’t sorted that out yet. Some people find me a lot to take. I get it. I will look you in the face and say “I love you” and mean it and some people find that uncomfortable. I will also look you in the face and say “You are hurting me. I need you to do better.” and boy, do people find THAT uncomfortable. I don’t smile when I’m angry like so many of us have been conditioned to do.
I’m a lot for the neurotypical to handle, and so the longer I live, the less I try to fit in with the neurotypical. The less I mask. The more I shrug off being misunderstood, because look…
I am tired. ;) This is the size and shape of neuro I come in. There are billions of other people for you to choose from. Let me be this rusty bucket of bog water, okay? Go find your perfect cup of tea and leave me be.
Thankfully, blessedly, the people that get me tend to be neuro-spicy, too, so they appreciate knowing that they’re always going to know exactly where they stand with me. There’s no subtext. There’s no risk of me saying anything about you to anyone that I wouldn’t say to your face. I will not lie to you about how I feel about you. I will not pretend to like you if I don’t. I won’t be uncivil about it – I can not like you and still be perfectly civil, but you’re not going to catch me faking something I don’t feel.
Truthfully, I like most people but I am also terrified of most people, so the whole “not liking” people isn’t really an issue. It’s more that if you give me a reason to be afraid of you (eg. you don’t say what you mean or your words don’t align with your actions or you do a lot of projecting of your own stuff onto me), you might find me aloof. Not unkind, but not accessible, either.
If you want me to be warm with you, you have to know this:
I am not here for you. I am not about the business of collecting friends. I’m not a social butterfly. I’m not “tribal”. Social connections cost me a lot of life force, so I’m not going to be easy to lure out of my hermitage. I’m most comfortable when I am alone.
I used to think that this meant there was something wrong with me, but I don’t think that anymore. I have learned how to meet my needs for connection in ways that don’t burn me out or overstimulate me. I know how to dip when I need to dip, and I flake without shame when I need to flake. I take my life force very seriously, and if I find that my interactions with someone are too draining and I have no contractual or familial obligation to interact with them, I won’t interact. I prefer one on one to large group gatherings. Hell, I prefer ZOOM to in-person interactions because I have *total control* over how long that encounter may last.
And on the subject of “honesty” or “authenticity”, aside from all the neuro reasons, there’s this one:
I’d rather be loved as a complicated and sometimes ugly truth than mistakenly loved as a pretty lie.
Mercury FINALLY went direct and I appreciated the glut of emails that flooded my inbox telling me so because this year has been such a crock pot so far – everything simmering low and slow. My energy for most things has been pretty meh except for the stuff I’ve been doing art-wise. I don’t know that I’ve had a January as prolific as this one in a very long time.
Something I promised myself as I eased into this year was that I’d give myself the gift of *time* this year. Time to putter. Time to play. Time to actually take the courses I’ve signed up for. Time to settle into a piece I’m painting and really let it lead me.
It’s been gorgeous. Here’s a speed painting of my experience with that feathered bird above. All those layers! All that decision making! Hours and hours, and exactly what I needed in the moment.
Someone asked “why so many layers?” and my answer to that question is pretty simple. I love layers, and it takes that long for me to really get where a painting wants to go. If I don’t let it cook like this, things feel unfinished. Also, depth. Also, texture. Also, this is a practice that is way less about the finished product than it is about the time I spend meeting myself on the page.
Also, layering is fun. Mastering mediums – how to layer them, what works with what – has been the most fun part of my mixed media art journey.
We’re gathering again on January 29th for a Sweet Trash Play Party if you want to come. :) We’re going to spend a Sunday afternoon in Zoom together getting our journals ready for the new month ahead. These are priced to be way accessible ($18) and include forever access to the replay + a copy of the printable planner I’m using this year. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been showing off my STJ every Monday during the live so I can keep myself on track with it. It’s a process that really serves me in staying in touch with myself, and that’s something I really need right now as I navigate my new normal.
And that’s me for today. I just wanted to pop in and say hi and show you what I’ve been up to. I’d love to see what you’re up to as well, so link me up in the comments below.