Cleaning Up Our Messes

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Cleaning Up Our Messes

It has been an another long stretch since I last wrote anything for this blog. Two years really. I never meant to drop it, life just happened. Mostly I’ve been doing dishes, and holding a baby, and well some laundry, sweeping, oh and lots and lots of picking things up from one place and putting them down somewhere else. Not too unusual I’m pretty sure that lots of readers can identify with this. Our little girl Elora came into the world nearly 26 months ago already. She is the sweetest smelling whirlwind and has grown into a master mess maker. As it is with so many of us parents, upon her arrival Rachel Cruse the artist went to sit on a dusty shelf so that Rachel the mother could do what needed to be done.

Now at long last the winds have been lessening in intensity and showing hints of change. It seems more and more likely that in the coming weeks and months my paintbrushes will once again know the sensation of being dipped in those creamy paint colours. I have been itching to get back to the canvas, back to painting, writing, crafting, just all of it. It’ll probably be slow, 30 minutes here and there eventually adding up to something. This blog is a part of that new start.

Recently (and before that) l have been sitting in a stunned kind of disbelief at the seemingly endless onslaught of bad news in the world these days. I question my daily activities wondering how best to proceed, hoping to be part of the solution, feeling bad that I have yet to make a significant contribution towards world peace and climate stabilization. Fretting about what I a busy mother of limited resources could possibly do to make it better, to heal such big gaping wounds in our collective conscious. Wondering if all my attempts at optimism, my efforts to meditate on life’s infinite beauty are after all just futile symptoms of a deep denial. 

But then this past week I saw something that brought me back home, rather unpleasantly, to a truth I already knew. Honestly I was shaken up pretty badly --what I saw was what should have been an empty house (without sharing details I was asked to go rescue a small pet). Instead this house was filled with denial, pain, anger, and self pity. And it was the messiest house I have ever seen in my life. To be fair I’m sure there are far worse out there, but I hope to never see one.

Now this house is recently vacated, in a hurry, and clearly done with no love or concern for whoever was going to have to clean it all up. There was at least a full moving van full of trashed and abandoned belongings strewn about in heaps, mixed in with garbage, broken stuff etc… It was in every room, every closet, every corner, across the floors, against the walls, everywhere. There were layers of sticky grunge on counters and furniture, the fridge was full of rotten food, and oozing black mould. Every room displayed ill conceived half finished reno projects, some walls were smashed the crumbled drywall and dust all over the floor. Here and there you could see glimpses of good intentions, and the signs of a family that loved one another despite difficult circumstances. But in the end what they left behind was a frightening, filthy mess. A flea infested, frightening, filthy mess.

 I was only there for 5 minutes. As I left, frantically scratching my ankles and attempting to brush away an army of ravenous fleas from my shoes and pant legs, I was struck by a thought. I saw that what I had seen inside that house had a whole lot in common with what I am seeing happen on a more global scale. People are not cleaning up after themselves, on so many levels. People are blaming others for their difficult circumstances, they are not looking after their belongings, and they are using and wasting far more stuff then they really need to. 

What happens in our homes reflects out into the world. How can anybody possibly hope to fix the worlds co-created problems if they have not first attended to their own homes, circumstances, & families. The homes we live in are our own personal manifestations of health, happiness, and wellbeing for ourselves and our families. What we individually manifest at home, is what we are capable of co-creating with others on a greater scale in our communities. 

This truth that I already knew but needed to be reminded of, was that my tedious daily acts of washing dishes, sweeping and picking up the same things of the floor over and over (and teaching my children to do the same); these things rightly are my first order of business. Despite those alluring social media posts touting so temptingly things like “Art before dishes” and making a virtue out of the idea of a messy house, I have learned this week that the best thing I can do for the world right now is to keep on cleaning up the messes in my immediate surroundings. I'm making the world a (slightly) better place by creating a happy, healthy, simple home. One that is not necessarily Pinterest worthy, but that nurtures the lives and souls of the family living within it. This is the first (and possibly hardest) thing I must do if I hope to help heal the world. For now my life as an artist will be one that is pieced together one brush stroke at a time, in-between chores.


DISCLAIMER:
-I am a feminist.
-I am not a clean freak, I’m not even particularly organized. I don’t much like cleaning up after other people.
-I am not advocating casting aside life's creative passions in favour of obsessive dusting. I don’t think a showroom house is healthy either.
-As a mother of 3 (toddler & teenagers) a larger allocation of my time is necessary just to keep things from going all to hell. If you are not in that situation by all means create first, you probably only have a few dishes to wash anyway. Just as long as you actually do them eventually.
-I still think it is okay to go to that big political/climate rally if your chores are not done. 
-Hugging a tree first will leave you energized and make housework go much quicker :)

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Contrasting Parallels / Different Vessels

So there is this beautiful woman I know who has been in my thoughts recently, and today happens to be her birthday. I’m writing this for her.

To be honest I don’t really know her as well as I feel like I do. You see like me she is a painter, we are close in age, we both have children, and we used to live just down the street from one another until I moved a few weeks ago. We both tend to ponder about life’s deeper meanings and have a similar penchant for finding spiritual paths to help us through the tougher times. So in these ways we are quite alike. However unlike me she wears her heart on her sleeve, she writes, paints and communicates very openly about her emotions, experiences and inner processes. Also, she seems to know what she wants to do and how to go about making it happen. I on the other hand hide things quietly, share shyly, and have taken a much longer time to follow my heart to my art.

Many who know us both might already guess that I am speaking about Coco Jones. Like I said today is her birthday. Lately I have been thinking pretty deeply about birthdays as well. In roughly 5 weeks I will be turning 40 –that idea alone seems almost inconceivable to me. But then very shortly after that, any day really, I can expect to go into labor and deliver my new little daughter into the world. She is officially due for the Solstice, my intuition tells me she will be a little bit earlier, perhaps.

So, back to Coco. Coco has been going through some pretty difficult times with her health and she has just had surgery to remove her uterus. She is healing now and from what I hear and see she is painting whenever and however her strength allows it. I keep seeing all these contrasting parallels, if there is such a thing, because I’m not getting much painting done at all. I’m feeling so overwhelmingly full physically, that eating, drinking and breathing freely are all challenging. But I’m healthy. Meanwhile I imagine Coco might be feeling more of an emptiness. We are both creative vessels experiencing different manifestations of our purpose.

So why did I start writing this today anyhow? Oh yeah, it was a basement experience. I was down in the basement on an unrelated errand to find something, and there in the corner looking at me was a painting I did about four years ago. At the time I was going through an altogether different ‘birthing phase’ in my life and in my heart. The painting –of a fetus growing inside a human heart – was an expression of the painful yet absolutely terrifyingly welcome experience of personal transformation. A new life, a new beginning, a new being growing inside my chest, inside my heart.

So there I am in the basement thinking about Coco again. I don’t pretend to know where it is all going but I did want somehow to find some words to share with her. To mention just in case she’d like to hear it today on her birthday. That I am pretty sure that there must be at least one absolutely incredible new being growing in her big beautiful heart these days. I’m looking forward to meeting her. Much Love, Rachel.

RachelCruse-Theheartistwithin.jpg

 

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Creating A Life

Well it's January and I am finally very close to completing my first painting since the end of September. This particular one was started in early October but has progressed rather slowly. A far cry from the 5 paintings a month goal that I had set for myself in the fall. I’ve not exactly been on vacation over the past few months, rather I found myself working on a very different sort of productivity, and it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride.  In late October I found out that I am pregnant!  I’m writing this today to share a little about how that news affected me.

Truth be told I have always always wanted to have a daughter (I guess we’ll see). I’m the proud Mum of two rough and tumble boys boys, currently 15 and 11. But I’m 39 now and over the past two years I thought things had become really clear in my head, I had decided to allow my childbearing years to slip gracefully behind me. It was a decision I believed was made in agreement with my heart and after years of parenting and hardly any painting, I was very ready to finally focus on my dreams of having a real career as a working artist.

Over the past twelve months the plans were hatched. I left my reliable and stable job, I cashed in all of my savings, and I took off running down this newly cleared path in the direction of my dreams. I knew it was risky, I knew my window of opportunity could be short, I knew I may not make it, and that certainly money would be tight for a little while (which was nothing new). I also knew that I had to do it, I felt compelled by an inner force that threatened to drag me into an abyss if I did not. 

So that’s when it happened, just as I was gaining momentum. I was painting every day, I was nearly finished building my own website, and planning to launch this very blog that I am now writing. Suddenly I was pregnant. It was as if I’d taken a flying leap and my parachute had failed to open. I tried really hard not to be scared – but I was without a doubt shaken to the core. Only a supreme being could actually get any painting done while caring for a new baby!!! It felt like a huge, vast boulder had fallen onto the landscape in front of me, obscuring my view completely. It was the kind of obstacle that would take a few years to climb over. And because I had left my job of 7 years I did not even have the possibility of Employment Insurance or maternity leave. I was feeling pretty hooped, and I’ve never been a crier but I definitely cried a few times.

My love (Frank) and I decided to just relax, wait it out, not that there was much choice in the matter but first trimesters are filled with uncertainty and it seemed wise to take a wait and see attitude for the time being. We let the weeks pass and tried to think of other things. We are both easy-going to a fault, we love one another very deeply – a child together would be a precious gift. It might not be easy but we believe we will be alright -eventually. The money will come from somewhere.

Grey-sky-Stork.jpg

It has been a few months of physical, emotional, and artistic nausea, but now we are entering a new phase. I’m starting to feel a little better and with each little movement I feel in my belly, my faith and my love for this little one grow stronger. We have told our friends and family, and are preparing for a rather different looking future. The baby is due in June, I have decided that I’m going to be a working artist anyway. I will have to make adjustments to the trajectory, maybe develop a few more super powers. We have some big decisions to make and we are going to scale back our already frugal lifestyle in every conceivable way so that the bills will be paid and the mouths all fed.

Meanwhile I’m going to paint like a woman possessed over the next 5 months until the baby arrives. My heart is becoming curious to know what new doors of creativity might be opened by all these changes. After all dreams can only be realized if you refuse to stop believing in them.

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A shiny new blog!

This is exciting, not only have I managed to build my own webpage but it has a shiny new blog! My blogger blog has gone very silent for awhile (my fault completely - but I fell out of love with it) and I've been biding my time (we all know that that really means way too busy right?) .

But here we are, my first entry in my new blog, as I put one foot in front of the other in my new life as a full time artist.

I've decided to call this blog Theartistwithin. This title speaks to me on several levels as it eludes to a number of possible interpretations, all of which I think are correct.

1) The artist within - Someone I think we all have on the inside. The inner creative artist can be our greatest ally or a forbidding enemy, but rarely does it not have a voice.

2)The art is within - Not unlike above, I see art as an inner expression of soul. The art we create is our own divine expression of our inner likeness, or our love, our pain, our triumphs and our failures. Art lives in the soul. It's mission is to transform the individual into a different being.

3) The heartist within - I'm a heartist. To me this is a person who uses their heart and their love, to guide them through life. Life is after all a work of art in itself. I'm probably not the first person to coin the name 'heartist' and I  know I've head the similar term 'heartrepreneur' before. In my experience it can a lot of faith/courage/hope/pain to start listening to that heart guide. But when you do, you never second guess your choices. 

Okay thats all I got for the moment, this website building is mentally draining. I hope to blog somewhat regularly, maybe once a week, starting now.

TreeHeart.jpg

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