The latest issue of the Gorge Guide Magazine is on newsstands now! You can also read it online. Three of my articles are published there. My friend Anna is the Art Director for the magazine, and it just keeps getting better every year. Commentary by Kristin: "It looks like Sunset Magazine!"; it kind of does!
This year, I wrote about farmers' markets, beer, and wine. I was kind of in my element. I particularly enjoyed all of the sampling that was required in the name of research.
The ocean is so pacifying, it has a way of lulling the soul into contentment. Water in general, yes, but there is something about the waves, the tides, the connection to the ebb and flow and life. It's primordial. It speaks to something way deep in the ancient, intuitive, instinctive part of our brain. We know deep down where we came from; we have a homing device, maybe.
Growing up land-locked, I'm not that comfortable in the waves, I'll be honest. It takes me a good long while to paddle out past even the cleanest, easiest break. I'm not master of the duck dive, clearly. Deep water mortifies me. I love the idea of surfing, but I really stink at it. My fears get the best of me out there; I don't really even like my feet to dangle for very long, so I end up stretching out on my board and watching the pelicans or the frigate birds or whatever is flying around overhead--which is why I stink at surfing. I also like to practice yoga poses out there. Crow -- yeah, that's hard on a surf board.
Someday, though, I'll master this mind, and be able to catch waves. I don't think there's any sport so pure, so beautiful in it's simplicity.
This past weekend, I took a little road trip out to Pacific City. I camped in a tent for the first time in a couple of years; van and camper living sure do spoil a girl. My trusty 15-year old MSR stove leaked fuel like a sieve, so I was doubly thankful that the Stimulus Cafe was a stone's throw from where I camped.
I walked at least 10 miles on the sand with Turbo. I climbed the giant sand dune right near Haystack Rock, on a sunny day that was perfectly warm and not windy--a gift in April in the NW. I laid down on a fresh patch of ripply, velvety sand and just watched the clouds pass overhead.
I watched a bunch of surfers put on very thick wetsuits in the morning. I watched them peel them off, beer in one hand late in the evening, satisfied look on their faces. I admired their dedication to the sport in such harsh conditions. Did I mention I'm also a total wuss when it comes to cold water? Yup. I ate a lot of bread and cheese and salami because that stuff makes a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I drank some--ok, maybe more--wine alone by a campfire. Cathedral Ridge's '09 Pinot Gris, now that's a pretty good beach wine.
I wrote and I wrote. I even wrote some fiction (!); man, that Artist's Way is something else. It's working miracles already.
I had cocktails--perhaps the stiffest G&T ever--at the Pelican Brewery. It's right on the beach, so that's just an excellent idea on a sunny afternoon.
It was a lovely weekend. I came away with clarity, pacified and content.
Sometimes out of tragedy and despair comes new growth that wouldn't have otherwise sprouted, simply because the seedbed was never prepared to nurture such new life. This is a thought that is really keeping me going lately, you know, the whole 'silver lining' angle. But it's more than that, I think. Besides just instilling hope and faith, it's helping real change take root, and that, my friends, has been a long time coming.
Before an evening drive and walk, my friend Kristin presented me with a book I've been eyeing for a couple of years now, but likely didn't have the courage to approach, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's a course on how to discover and recover your creative self, heal that creative child inside of you and follow the path to higher creativity. It's not meant only for those who want to 'be' artists; it's for anyone who has ever dreamt of learning to play the guitar, knit, or cook. Anyone at all who wants to sprout their creative seed, in whatever medium it might be.
It's twelve weeks long, and takes about an hour a day to read the required chapter for each week, and to do the corresponding exercises. I'm on Day Two, and I have an embarrassing confession: my right arm and hand are sore. From writing with a pen. Each morning you fill three 8.5 x 11 pages with whatever words creep on there. It's a brain dump, really. But really, when was the last time any of us wrote that much by hand?
Mechanics of the exercises aside, my Morning Pages, as they're called, have so far been therapeutic. Emotional, sad, frustrated. Lots of stuff comes up, stuff you really don't expect, or that you thought you had dealt with. A lot lives in the far reaches of our cavernous brains, I'm finding out. Childhood memories, happy or sad. Past mistakes, skeletons in the closet. Things we can't so easily forget. That's the nature of the beast, but to nurture and heal, to steal a quote, "...you gotta get rid of the shit that weighs you down." I couldn't agree more, and writing it down helps us do this.
Besides the Morning Pages, you also get to take yourself out on an Artist's Date. Nothing fancy or pretentious, just a time for you to spend with yourself to be creative an do something you enjoy. The point is to make time for you, with we seldom do. It can be going to a thrift store, a museum, even a walk in the woods. Anything you enjoy doing that is FUN.
Each week, there are other exercises that are designed to draw out the creativity-blocking demons once and for all, including affirmations and digging deep inside the memory bank for clues to why you doubt yourself in creativity, and in life really.
I'll try to update my progress here, it's a way for keeping myself accountable and to stick with it. I'm also doing it with Kristen, who did it several years ago and wants to revisit the process. That will help, having a partner to keep me motivated.
It's a big commitment, but one I'm willing to make.
I'm not really sure where to start, so I won't. With self-preservation in mind, all I can divulge is that I, for the first time in awhile, am striking out on my own, flying sola. It's my own undoing, I'm not proud of parts of it, but I can say that the cracks in the fuselage finally burst into a gazillion pieces, not over the sea, but over the small towns of the Gorge, wreaking havoc on more than one family.
I refuse to dwell, and the only way to forward is take the steps toward change. Through this process, I look to past to identify patterns, to the present to relate to feelings, and to the future for a glimmer of hope. I do not know what lies ahead, but at the end of the day, I'm looking for improvement of any kind big or small, on any level or layer of my being. That's all we can do as humans and I refuse to stay trapped in my mistakes and history only to repeat them. I refuse to be the victim of my own abuse any longer, and what does that leave? Truthfully, that's the part that remains unseen, the part I need to really extract and accept for what it is. I'm getting closer. I am.
I'm not running, in fact, I refuse escapism as self-defense. It hasn't worked before, and it's not going to work now either. Perhaps part of growing older is realizing and calling ourselves out on our own bullshit and accepting it, then moving on and trying to fix it. A quote I love from a Kathleen Edwards song:
"You spend half your life trying to turn the other half around." That's my world, that's my reality, and I'll shout it from the rooftops, write it in the sky. I'm ok with it. There is so much I want to accomplish in this world, so much I haven't seen, a small part of me wants to reach in and strangle that girl of the second half of my life. But on the other hand, I love that girl too, because she taught me so much. We did have some good times together, she and I, but I have to let her go.
Here's the video for Kathleen Edwards' "Six O'Clock News". Love her.
The other album that comes to mind that is both haunting and just so real is none other than Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, particularly "You're a Big Girl Now". Maybe now, maybe for real this time, I am finally becoming a Big Girl now. Incidentally, Blood on the Tracks came out the year I was born, 1975 to date myself. This cover is awesome:
So many songs, so little time. A little wine, a lot of music, love and laughter with friends, that's what's getting me through. For everything, I am grateful.