Monday, May 23, 2011

New Monster Drawing

This is small, 8x10. I thought I'd color the monster dark, purples, blues and browns, and have the background yellow.

I sat with myself quietly today and yesterday before I did anything meaningful with my morning. I said the Lord's prayer, and tried to have a little conversation with God. It's about as close to meditation as I get. A while ago I had the practice good, time for prayer everyday, but then we got Cherry Blossom and my peace of mind was shattered. Now Cherry is 6 months old, we've had her for 4 months, and it is time to return to my former habit of centering myself emotionally in the morning.

Called my father yesterday to get his email address. He says his favorite paintings of mine are the monster paintings. So I wanted to send him an image of the finished Croc monster. We talked and he told me about a portrait convention he went to in some big city. He heard lectures and saw demonstrations. I sigh, because I live with so much isolation and I can't travel, can't summon the concentration to learn in a studio situation. I have no choice but to be self taught. My schizophrenia is so disabling, I have to live a closely scripted routine with brief jaunts away from the house. It is very much a "walk forth into the world" and then "scurry home and hide and recoup".

Part of my prayers are to accept me the way I am and not compare myself to others. I'm asking God for help in this. It simply hurts too much when I compare myself to persons without a mental illness. My Dad says he paints about 5 hours every day and that he heard this was an average for an artist. On an extraordinary day I'll paint three, but usually 2 hours is my limit.

Wondering how I would depict myself in a self portrait. Would take a photograph first, make a sketch, and then revise it by looking in a mirror. Rather funny, looking at yourself and then painting yourself. Tried it once in a drawing activity run by a painter at a clubhouse for the mentally ill. One eye turned out a bit larger and higher than the other, and as truth would have it, my eyes aren't level. But I don't just want to paint a likeness of my face, I want the portrait to have some inner psychological value. It is hard to say how me feels about me when I'm praying to God to accept myself as is.

I read a statistic that 60% of those with schizophrenia can't recognize their own illness, vs. only 25% of those with a schizoaffective disorder. My problem is that I'm too hyper aware of my illness. It doesn't work to simply orientate myself by calling myself an artist, because I'm hyper aware of being a mentally ill artist and I think I do crap work. It used to work when I was in my twenties, I called myself a student when I went to college and this helped me with coping with having a mental illness. It is death to the self to call yourself mentally ill and let that definition be the strongest thing about you - when I was in the hospital for two years the staff really tried to get me to accept that I was mentally ill. They thought that they were doing me a service by getting me compliant with taking medication for the illness. I knew that there was something terribly wrong with me, I couldn't read for instance, but I felt like I was a human being with the right to survive and exist.

I don't know why, at 43, I'm having such a difficult time owning my right to survive and exist. So I pray for guidance for a power that is greater than me, a power that my religion says is a source of love and acceptance and forgiveness. Am I having a mid-life crisis? Its about the right age for one.

This morning I woke early. I opened the bedroom door early. And Cherry Blossom kept trying to leap upon me, she was so excited that I was awake and out of bed. Her joy was infectious, and all the fuss she made was for the sake of loving me. What a way to start the day. With an animal that's crazy about you.

I think my life narrows down to my husband, my dog, and my art. A really simple life. I don't know how to engineer self-acceptance, but I think I can arrange for simple activities with times of rest inbetween.

I think that if you are aware that you have a simple life, living very much in the here and now, then you are likely to say to yourself, "what a blessing it is that I have a simple life." Thinking about the future, thinking about how other people live their life, thinking about what ifs and I wants is not living in the here and now.

The more fragile the person, the more important it is that they live in the here and now. Living in the present is a very rich place to live. Since I know that, in my gut, I've got something healthy in my outlook.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Karen,

    I'm so glad that you're making time in the morning to pray. It's a very good practice. Some time when you venture out into town, look at the passersby and wish them well. I've been doing that for several years now even with the people in the cars that pass by my house. There's something magical about sending out prayers. It's as if a weight begins to lift from your spirit to just send out peace and kindness. The challenge is to do that with the people you have problems with, but before that I think a steady diet of sending out prayers to those you care about or who are strangers is the right kind of preparation.

    It means a lot to me that you are asking for God's help with letting go of comparing yourself to others, especially those who seem healthier than you. It's just got to be done in order to start to love yourself in the right way. That sounds corny, but I don't mean it that way. I'm very serious. If you can inch your way up to some self-acceptance, I think you will find that you compare yourself to others much less and thereby don't suffer any where near as much. Of course, I think you're wonderful but the goal is that you should think that too. Again, a little at a time over years and your self-esteem will get a strong foundation for you to work from.

    Living in the present is a key practice. There's a lot that's right in the present moment. We take so much for granted, but the point is not to feel guilty, but to be aware and just be grateful for having all of our senses, for being able to walk, to feel the sun, to drink our tea or coffee, or any small commonplace (but wonderful) thing. That's called waking up. It's not easy to stay in the present, though as an artist I know you know some of the excellence of that. Apply that sense of close observation to the world around you and you will be enjoying your life more. I'm working on that too and probably will be till the day I die and I believe it's a good way to spend my time.

    I'm proud of you Karen for hanging in there and working with what you've got to work with. I am very happy that we are friends.

    All my love, always

    Kate : )


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