The joy in the Journey

This week has been a pleasantly surprising week.  You know those weeks when things work out easier then expected, when support is there and you notice it, when you are given heartfelt compliments out of the blue.  Even my Illustration Friday challenge ended up flowing smoothly.  The topic this week was “Journey” and a quote came with it,

“Focus on the Journey, not on the destination.  Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” Greg Anderson

I was familiar with the beginning of that quote, it’s a concept that sometimes I have to remind myself of, how vital and important it is to enjoy this moment, this one right here, that we have been given.  Treasure those “stopping to smell the flowers” moments.  They are the things memories are made of, and sometimes they are the things that get you through the ‘really-truly-this-sucks-and-we-just-have-to-ride-it-out” times in life.

The second part of the quote really resonated with me too.  It is how I feel about my art, my writing and yes, even my parenting.  The joy of actually doing it far out weights the satisfaction of completing it.  Though there is some satisfaction to be had in completing something, but I find it is mainly the satisfaction of having ‘proof’ that I had done it.  That I had stopped talking about doing something, and was in fact just doing it.  Young children and babies are masters at demanding you live in the moment.  Before you know it, you have spent a whole afternoon rolling around the lounge room floor with a baby just starting to explore its world.  Or your 2 year old daughter has slowed your walk home in the Autumn sun, to a crawl because she wants to pick all the beautiful daisies for you along the way.

After brainstorming the topic for a few days this week, I started sketching from a photo I had taken of my daughter in amongst the flowers of our garden.  It was around the time I had first started my blog and she had helped me take photos of all the pretty flowers we could find in the garden, so then of course I had to take photos of her.  So she posed for me.  Looking a little like a flower garden fairy.  Sketching the photo and working on it a bit further reminded how my ‘journey’ has changed and detoured a fair bit from the ‘destination’ I was working towards at 20 after finishing my Bachelor degree.  I have recently started to seriously think about going back to University for a postgrad degree and that has made me really recognize how much I have gained from this journey with these beautiful children.  That the joy of being in this life with them has brought me so much perceptive.  And unexpected strength.  It hasn’t been easy at times, sometimes for a long time, but looking back now its those lovely little moments were I was just enjoying that journey and being with them, that I remember most.  The time my son could and would say Mum again, the giggle of joy and mischievousness as we played tickle games for hours.  It surprises me even now that they are the things that leap to mind when I think of my journey so far with my kids, even though we are still mired in the quest for answers healthwise for my son, its the fact that he wants to play chasey for hours that I choose to focus on.  Because at the end of the day, that is what is important to me.  

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Bottled for Illustration Friday

This weeks Illustration friday picture had a rocky road and for once it wasn’t because of me.  My 2yr old daughter “helped” me, by drawing all over the nearly completed painting in pen.  She is really excited by her art at the moment.  And so very proud of her pictures.  It’s very hard to be grumpy with her, even though we rent and she drew all over the lounge room wall last week.  There was a tree, a sun and lots of circles.  She covered the whole wall in less then 10 minutes.  Well the parts she could reach obliviously.  I had that moment where I needed to make a choice, do I get grumpy or not.  She was so proud to show me her “painting” and since I have paintings on the wall (on canvas but to a 2 yr old not much different) I could see how that made so much sense to her.  I am currently constantly reinforcing the idea that she draws on paper or uses her chalk on concrete, not the walls, floors or her own body.  Not that I have much against painting on her body morally, the complication arises when it doesn’t wash off in the shower and that upsets her.  Sometimes you just have to minimize the drama and tantrums.  Especially when you have a 2 yr old you are starting to refer to as a “diva”.

The topic for this weeks challenge is “Bottled” and the quote that accompanied it was

” Our names are labels, plainly printed on the bottled essence of our past behavior.”  Logan P. Smith

The quote really resonated with me and got me thinking along all kinds of lines.  The idea that our past is always with us, always present and informing our present lives, choices and feelings. 

Illustration Friday – Duet, hmmm…

This week finishing the artistic challenge of Illustration Friday was difficult.  The topic was “Duet” and nothing was really working for me.  I kept sketching and working up ideas but nothing really clicked.  I am happy with the painting that I finished, although it is not completely finished.  The background still needs a bit of work, but I am happy with the direction that the painting is going in, sometimes that just has to be enough.

This week my Uncle passed away in New Zealand, from Cancer.  He is only a few years older then my Mum, as all her siblings are very close in age.  It has been very difficult for everyone, and it is just…sad.  I can’t think of another way to explain it.  He was truly well loved and that is the positive side, I guess.

I have the weird position of being overseas and so removed from the whole thing a lot, but part of me (no matter how much I know that I just couldn’t have gone) wishes that I could have been there this week.  Supporting my Mum and Aunties, Uncles and Cousins who may not know how often I think of them or how much I miss them.  It is a strange thing to have spent half of my life overseas from my family.  Sometimes those childhood memories are so strong and precious and yet the majority of my extended family have very little to do with my daily life.  And I have very little to do with their daily life.  But we are family and it is at times like this I am reminded how special that can be.  All my love to my beautiful family.

The Toys in this house keep multiplying!

Well this week, as have the last couple weeks, has been a bit crazy, a bit busy, and a lot tiring.  So my blogging has been a lot less then I had planned.  On the plus side, I have still managed to finish the “Illustration Friday” challenges, so that has made me feel like I’ve achieved something.  Not as much writing done as I would like, but with all the health dramas and kid dramas, probably not a bad effort.  Still room for improvement in my daily artist practice, but the important thing is that it is a daily practice.  Even if a lot of those days I do wonder, what is it exactly I’m doing it for?

Tomorrow is World Autism Awareness day and they are having a big walk along St Kilda beach here in Melbourne and I really hope we can make it this year, but my son got off his school bus this afternoon not looking so crash hot.  Maybe he’s just tired, the bronchitis really took it out of him last weekend.  He did his own, frighteningly real impression of a fish out of water,  for most of last weekend.  Then of course the infection traveled from his lungs to his throat.  Asthma doesn’t help the whole thing either.  Maybe instead of raising awareness for Autism, a condition that effects so many kids (my son included) and families, we will be back at the Doctor, for the second time in a week, wait we were there last Saturday and that would make it the third time, hmmm.  Just another average week really.

Anyway, basically even though we are much closer to getting some answers about his health after seeing the Immunology clinic at the Children’s Hospital, we are going to have to wait months for those answers and even then, it’s possible that there is nothing much they can do to help keep him healthy, much more then we are already doing I guess.  Somedays, 3 months can feel like a lifetime, even though I know in the future I will look back at this time, with the kids being so young and dependant on me, as being such a fleeting and short moment in time.

This weeks Illustration Friday topic was “Toy” and since we have so many toys in our house I thought I would just search the house for inspiration.  I had a lot to choose from, but in the end the “toy” that resonated the most with me was this green soft dinosaur that we had gotten in Singapore for my son, on our way to India for our first ever trip there as a family.  To meet the rest of our family.  In so many ways that feels like it was a lifetime ago, my son was 1 and this was one of the last toys he actively “played” with appropriately.  He loved it when we saw it in the shopping centre.  It was so cute.  Now whilst working on this drawing I realized how much “things” can be laden with meaning and emotions.  It was the last time he loved a toy and could tell us easily, before he lost that ability, before his play became overwhelming repetitive and sensory-based.  I remember how happy and excited we were, how cohesive as a family unit.  We were young (yeah I know we still are in years, experiences people!) and optimistic and thought we could take on anything.  We have, but I don’t think we have come out the other end unscathed.

My daughter, who is “Neurotypical” (NT as the Autism community like to describe “non-autistic people” or “normal”) now really likes this dinosaur.  Until I sat down to draw it, I hadn’t really thought about what a symbolic toy it was.  Now it is just another cute soft toy in our slightly overfull toy box.  (The toys multiply at night I’m sure, especially the dolls, how many dolls do we need?)  This is slightly more information then I usually like to give out with a picture, but I sat down to blog and it all was there.

“Cultivating” ends up being harder then I had hoped…

This weeks Illustration Friday challenge the theme was “Cultivate” and the quote was about how art wasn’t for cultivated tastes, but to cultivate taste.  I was really excited at first, but the ideas that I started working on just never seemed to develop past the initial work up.  I ended up sketching pages and pages of different things throughout the week, but nothing was “clicking”.  So that combined with the fact that my computer is still on the blink and there’s been alot of other things going on this week, I had started to believe that I just wasn’t going to get something done for this week.

Then today I was sitting down having a coffee while the kids were at school/daycare and I just starting sketching while I was people-watching.  So these little rough flowers and plants started developing and decided to go with the idea of “Cultivating” my creative inner garden.  I plan to put this weeks picture up on the wall near where I paint to remind myself that it’s important to “cultivate” all those things we take for granted. 

Allowing myself the space to cultivate a place for creative thoughts amongst all of the other life things that have taken up space lately in my head.  So this is to remind me of the importance of that…my little sketch of my garden.

Stirs turns into my “Muse”…

The Illustration Friday topic for this week was “Stir” and it came with the quote

“Big dreams create the magic that stir men’s souls to greatness.”  Bill McCartney

I love that quote and its a new one for me, so I sat with it for awhile, then I started sketching and swirls came up, then a face kept reappearing.  In each sketch there was this face and then I realised it’s my muse.  Well something like that, so I thought that I would run with that idea.  I started with paint, but that didn’t really work, so I switched to pencil, it was all quite new because I haven’t drawn such a detailed face for years and years, and not in pencil.  But it was fun and not as overwhelming as some of the other weeks to get completed.  I’m happy with it, I did a bit more work on it after this photo, but basically it’s finished here.  My Muse that helps me “stir” myself into creating…something.

This week I have been having major computer issues, my desktop has temporarily (please not permanently) died.  So I am writing this post on my husband’s laptop before he goes off to work.  Hopefully I can get my computer up and running soon.  That’s why I haven’t written another post this week.  This week has been a very introspective week, sometimes its good to have a time to think about your life in general.  I have missed my son this week, more then last week, it’s getting used to that extra space in the day where he used to fill up, but now he is at school.  It’s nice, but takes a bit to get used to I guess.  Changes, changes, life always is changing…

Nearly, oh so close…

I have not totally finished my Sunset/Sunrise painting, but I am going to post a close up of the bit that is nearly done…I’m getting happier with it but this painting thing has been hard this week.  When I can’t get that clear and calm state happening in my head, where everything just fades away but the artwork, sometimes as with my writing, it doesn’t flow, it plods.  Slowly along towards the point where whatever I’m working on starts to resemble something interesting, or in a perfect world, slightly polished.

Also i haven’t done much painting at all in the last 10 years and so I am having to re-educate myself abit with the basic techniques and that slows me down.  This week “life” has been taking up a big part of my brain and I think sometimes the space that could have been used to create something tangible, is instead used to over-think things I can’t change.

My son had a big meltdown on Monday night, it was long, and dramatic and so hard to watch as it reminded me how he used to be everyday.  I am so thankful that he is happy in himself now (most of the time) and this tantrum was so shocking because it had been so long since he had been so angry, sad and out-of-control.  When he first got Diagnosed he would tantrum for at least 3 hours a day and would bite his own fingers so hard they would bleed.  Sometimes when I’m feeling down I need to remind myself how far we have come, not just look to the future and how far we have left to go.  This week he made it through his first full week at school, without any major dramas, health issues,etc.  He is loving the Autistic School and especially the bus ride there.  Those small achievements count for so much.  You just have to notice them.