Monday, May 24, 2021

Ponderings and Musings

Here's the first pondering. It's always tricky knowing when it is safe to sow seeds and set out plants around here. Theoretically one can do this as early as May although June is safer. Case in point, we've suddenly had several nights where it got down around freezing. For the most part, my deck is covered enough to not present a problem but I still tend to put off setting out the new plants for the season. But last week one of my plants that winters over surprised me with a single bloom (you can see it in the back of the photo), so I figured I may as well pick out my replacement geraniums for the copper tub and other varieties for the smaller pots. So here's this year's selection - all new varieties for me save the geraniums.

A totally different kind of ponder would be this: Do you struggle to know how to describe yourself and your creative endeavors, especially if you dabble in art quilts? I've tried several labels over the years, none particularly satisfying nor giving the desired result when said to an actual person. Tell someone you are a watercolor artist, or an oil painter (or just painter), a sculptor, even a mixed media artist, and your audience will know what you are talking about. Say textile artist, fiber artist, or especially art quilter and the audience will mostly be confused. (More confusing to the public are those who try to skirt the whole quilt thing by calling their work textile paintings, a term I find quite disingenuous.) Nina-Marie of Creations . . Quilts, Art . . . Whatever knows exactly what I'm talking about as she related a recent conversation with an old friend who in a minor revelation blurted "Oh, I know you quilt, Nina, but I didn't realize that you did art too!" And for my money, she has hit upon the perfect description of what we do: " art which I then create with fabric." How simple and clear is that? Her entire post on who is an artist and what is art is worth the read.

Here's something worth pondering: Overall, how have you been doing lately? I've had my struggles which frankly have had nothing to do with the pandemic lockdowns and isolations; they started long before then. I knew it wasn't depression, although if I described some of my feelings, I know people would be quick to slap on a diagnosis of depression. But I also knew I'd periodically lost the drive and passion that I used to have for a lot of things. This wasn't helped by my new medical issues but even after getting them stabilized, I've felt a lot of drifting going on. Can't . . . quite . . . put . . .my . . . finger . . . on . . . it . . . And then last month I ran across an article in the New York Times that perfectly described what I've been going through. Due to the pandemic, new studies are recognizing the psychological "middle child" that's been ignored: Languishing. Not burnout and not depression and certainly not flourishing, but a void in between, "...a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you're muddling through your days... the absence of well being ... You're not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus and triples the odds you'll cut back on work." Yes, me too many days.

Now I don't tell you this to worry you or illicit well-meaning comments about it being ok or suggestions for how to break out of it. It's enough to have it identified and defined so that I'm not sitting around wondering what's wrong with me. It's such helpful knowledge, and I can do something about it now that I understand the issue. But I did think it might be helpful information if there are others out there going through the same thing and not understanding what it is. Or, you might prefer to side with Austin Kleon who doesn't agree with this article at all and instead says it's just being dormant. He's listed definitions of both languishing and dormancy to make his case, but this is one of the few times I don't agree with him. He may have been experiencing dormancy but I am definitely not nor have I been as he describes it, but instead it's languishing. Read his response to the article and decide for yourself what you may have been going through. And if you are flourishing, I am SO happy for you - you are the best of survivors!

There's been lots of musing lately. I took a 3 session zoom webinar with David Whyte on The Poetry of Self Compassion: Revealing What Is Hidden As A Gift To Others. I've long admired his poetry and have been working on self compassion with my yoga teacher for many years. I was intrigued with this idea of self compassion being a gift to others, particularly as I have always struggled with what I call hands on compassion, looking the person in need in the eye as I extend help rather than doing it from a distance by say, writing a check to a charity or donating a quilt to an organization that distributes them to the needy. Lots of food for thought in those 3 one-hour sessions. And lots of poetry too. Aware of the difficult year we have been through that we are not yet quite shed of, he offered this poem by Derek Mahon which I found quite comforting. Perhaps you will too.

Everything Is Going To Be All Right

How should I not be glad to contemplate

the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window

and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?

There will be dying, there will be dying,

But there is no need to go into that.

The poems flow from the hand unbidden

and the hidden source is the watchful heart.

The sun rises in spite of everything

and the far cities are beautiful and bright.

I lie here in a riot of sunlight

watching the day break and the clouds flying,

Everything is going to be all right.


Sherrie Spangler said...

Lots to think about after reading this post. I hope you stop languishing and start thriving soon. Maybe summer sunshine will help -- the sun always helps me. And I hear you on the dilemma over how to describe ourselves as quilt artists. I usually say I make quilts that are art to be hung on the wall, but since most people aren't exposed to art quilts in museums or galleries, I don't know if they understand.

Anonymous said...

Your flowers are lovely. We have ours' but it's been too cold to risk putting them in barrels outside yet. Our fiber arts group is called 'Textile Artists of the Greater Yellowstone' but I still find myself explaining what we do WITH those textiles! I read the links you suggested & found them interesting. For some reason I've been doing ok by telling myself I worked long hours for most of my life & the 'down time' COVID 'gave' us was my reward. I definitely used my days to create fiber arts, both quilts & smaller pieces to display! Everything IS going to be all right! Stay well! Jan in WY

The Inside Stori said...

Honestly, before I even saw Sherrie’s comment……I nearly repeated what she said…….and why not? It was just right… I defer to Sherrie’s well thought out comment!