Sunday, July 28, 2013

What the Mirror Sees (not my Y but close to what mine looks like)
I've written about Nia  my favorite type of exercise these days — and since Nia is all about "experiencing joy and connecting with one's self," I wanted to share what I noticed about me this past week.  

I always head for the corner of the room farthest from the entry, and while that places me directly in front of the mirrored wall, I plant myself so far into the corner that I am below a wall-mounted trapezoid speaker.  Though I am smack dab in front of the mirror, I never look myself in the eye. I look at my feet, I look over my head, if stuck looking straight ahead, I divert my eyes to stare at my midriff.  I actually do everything I can to avoid looking at my face.

Our teacher Patti repeatedly tells us that Nia is about finding the movement that works for you and Nia is not about everyone looking the same or doing things the same way.  This is part of the ritual of starting every class.  Still — whenever I can't do or don't do what Patti is doing, I find I spend a lot of the time grimacing.  Even though she's made it clear that there is no messing up and no one is judging me, that Nia is all about "doing it your way," still — I feel my face grimacing.  I don't see it, but I feel my facial muscles contorting to express my own judgment and disapproval.

Nia is not just about movement it's about making sounds...about "sounding." Patti has a newsletter she sends out and this issue* was all about the sounds. She writes:

"Nia class is a safe container for playing with sounds - yes, no, trills, whoops, kias, hisses, belly laughs. Pretend to be a warrior, a lover, a little girl, a little boy, a dragon, a kitten - and see what sounds emerge."

Making sounds?  I have the hardest time doing this!  You would think a person would welcome a choice to sound-off — to make sounds and release what's inside — but it is SO hard to get anything to come out of me!  In class I hear Patti (and the others) yipping and grunting and gutturally proclaiming "HUNH!" with each side-thrown fist punch and I want to join her, I want to show solidarity with the class, I want to let go of what's built-up inside, but it's trapped — by me and my inability to just let'er rip.

Sometimes we end class by laughing — just laughing — my friend Nancy is very good at this and seems to really connect with her laughter, but for me, laughing is tough.  I sit there and try and eventually force a laugh or two outta me.  But it's not joyful as it's meant to be and sadly, I don't feel connected to any joy within me.

But maybe there's hope.  I went to Nia three times this week, at three different Y's, each time, hiding in my same spot, hidden in my little corner.  Finally, on Friday — I managed a sneak peak.
*If you want to read more, here's a link to Patti's August Nia News.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Driven by Nothing


That's how I feel inside.  Floaty.  It's not a word I've ever used before and I can't say I know what it means (literally or to anyone else) but that's how I'd describe what's going on inside me.

When asked by my therapist, "Tell me, how do you feel?" that's the word that comes to mind.

When pressed I'd say that I feel the shell of me, the structure of my exterior — but inside? Inside it's as if the core of me has dissolved into an inner atmosphere.  My feeling self feels disintegrated — and I feel nothing. Not good, not bad — and not anything I can hang my hat on.

I can't say I've ever felt this way before.  

Without any feeling, I don't know where I am. And if I don't know where I am, I certainly don't know where I should be going.

Part of me wishes I had the drive I had before, but more of me is relieved to be at rest.  

This time of my life may be the first time in my life I can honestly say I feel calm.  The word "calm" does not come to mind when I think back on my life — certainly not my childhood or adolescence; not when I started jobs throughout my career; when I dated, had relationships, or got married; not whenever I've moved or tried something new; and certainly not when I gave birth and became a parent.  Calm was not part of the last decade, when I dealt with the illnesses and passing of my father, cousin, sister, mother, and six months ago, my sister-in-law.

Floaty.  Empty.  Hollow.  

But at night when my head hits the pillow, the lights are out, the computer and TV off, my brain suddenly leaps into overdrive, churning about all the conversations I haven't had, wish I'd had, shouldn't have had.  Over and over and over the words, the sentences, the feelings, the emotions play out inside the dark room, the silent night, my jumbled mind.  No longer distracted by the day, or the things I have to do — the shopping, meals, editing, emails, phone calls — my mind is just frantic.  Worrying, worrying, worrying about all I didn't do that day.  It's hard turning that racing, racing, racing brain off.  

Two of my dear friends — from very different parts of my life, living in very different places (neither near me), and very different from each other in every way — BOTH gave me similarly supportive (and surprising) feedback: right now a lot is going on for me emotionally; most of my adult life I have been driving on all cylinders  and often in serial crisis mode — I have a right to be in this place of nothingness; I need to be patient with myself and not expect to race forth into the next phase of my life.  For now, it's okay to just BE.
Thank you Aaron and Barbara, and thanks to all of you who are supporting me directly through your friendship and indirectly through your readership.  I am grateful for all.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

New Orleans - Part 3

I know that when people think of New Orleans, they think of food, jazz, and Mardi Gras but for me it's all about the art. I've indulged my enthusiasm for the Ogden Museum of Southern Art the last two posts, I'm going to move on to The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA, the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Despite the intense heat and humidity I could only marvel at the 60+ fabulous are some for you to enjoy.

You could sit alongside these folks.

This was a three-sided, tri-colored dog.

I YURNED for these...

There is NOTHING like a Claes Oldenburg to make me happy.

Leandro Ehrlich
Window and Ladder - Too Late for Help  2008

Well, after pondering all this great art and trying to discern the intention of all these great sculptors, one works up an appetite.  And since food does matter, I'll just say I was partial to The Milk Bar on S. Carrollton Ave and Slice Pizzeria on St Charles Ave.

If you'd like to find out about these sculptures and more, visit this link, or better yet, plan to make New Orleans a stop when YOU next travel.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

New Orleans - Part 2

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is a gem of a museum and one where you are sure to find something of interest.  My visit was a bonanza with a look at Self-Taught, Outsider and Visionary Art from the Permanent Collection on the top floor (hurry this exhibit is gone after July 21!) and then one floor down my eyes were opened to the works of William R. Hollingsworth, Jr — an illustrator and painter.  Hollingsworth was a Mississippi artist who was born in 1910 and began drawing and painting in high school and continued on very successfully, even winning national awards and recognition.  Despite being a successful artist, husband and father, sadly, Hollingsworth ended his life at the age of 34. [To learn more, read here.] Though the exhibit is now gone, here are some of the works that I was drawn to...this first one perhaps the most poignant for me — Hollingsworth's son, Billy and his fox terrier, Boy.

An illustration---sort of Rockwell-esque, isn't it?

His self-portrait

The Music Box 1942
Hollingsworth did this watercolor in exchange for new records from the music store!
Landscape # 35  March 1944
Painted toward the end of his short life.
Uncharacteristically of his time, Hollingsworth painted and drew "the daily life of local black people" in his native Mississippi.  He was the subject of a book authored by Eudora Welty and coincidentally (or not), the Ogden had an exhibit of Eudora Welty's photographs.  Who knew this famous writer was a photographer?  Not me.

The multi-talented Eudora Welty

Carrying Home the Ice  1936

Mardi Gras, New Orleans  c 1930s
In my neck of the woods, it's become popular to have a "bottle tree" in your yard.  They really are quite beautiful, bare branches capped with blue, green, brown or amber bottles that glisten in the sun.  It wasn't until I saw this photo of Welty's that I learned these decorative trees came from the past.

A House with Bottle Trees  1941

And finally, in this glorious museum in Nawh'lins, there was a delightful tribute to the commitment the Ogden has to educational outreach and the work introducing kindergarteners to artistically "translating" the books they've read.  From the exhibit, I wanted you to see their interpretation of The Room of Wonders — particularly inspiring to someone like me...

Though you may not see these specific exhibits at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, you are sure to experience something spectacular, just as I did.

Now that I'm back home, here's my own little Shelf of Wonders...

Miniatures anyone?

Next post: Art outdoors in NOLA

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Orleans - Part 1

On a recent visit to New Orleans I was fortunate to visit THE OGDEN MUSEUM OF SOUTHERN ART university of new orleans and see their magnificent collection of Self-Taught, Outsider and Visionary Art from the Permanent Collection.  Though I'm still at a loss for words, I thought I'd let the images speak for themselves.  Hope you enjoy.

This was a two-sided canvas...isn't it amazing?

Jake McCord (1948 - 2009)
Redhead with Blue Bow  1990
Big Al Taplet   (1934 -  )
Boots: Shine with a Smile  1993

Reginald Mitchell (1960 -  )
House of Blues  1992

This was about 7 ft tall and wonderful!

Archie Byron  (1928 - 2005)
The Slave: Like Father, Like Son  1992
This was larger than life and very powerful.
I have not included so many of the fabulous works, including all those of the Reverend Howard Finster.  
And now in honor of our recent Fourth of July, a glorious work of art by Ab the Flagman:


My next NOLA post will share the art of William R. Hollingsworth, Jr
 and the photos of Eudora Welty...