22 July 2010

On Kindness

I was quite sensitive as a child. I remember crying once while watching Tom and Jerry. Not only did I sympathize with Jerry the Mouse's constant struggle to foil the diabolical plans of Tom the Cat, but I also felt very compassionate towards Tom's suffering when he was unable to achieve his goal. I left the television to play outside because the show just seemed too cruel. Perhaps I was a bizarre child, but then I tend to believe that children generally are. It's what makes them fantastic.

Today I felt a little like that child again. I read several things on the internet that hurt my heart. They weren't especially cruel--no more than the typical joke at someone else's expense or a quick judgment offered out of frustration--but they struck me as decidedly unkind. Even though I didn't know the people involved, the comments made me feel sad. As I contemplated my sadness, I realized that I had been holding an unkind thought in my own mind. I opened my heart to compassion and let it go.

I searched online for some reading on kindness and found a new-to-me kindness quote that resonated deep within:

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.
~Og Mandino

It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes:

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.
And I decided that I just needed to share them.

New Blog: Kim at SYAO

I've started a new Stitch Your Art Out blog called Kim at SYAO (catchy title, huh?), which is where you can find the latest news on what we're doing at the shop. So subscribe there to learn about new classes, samples, and fabrics, projects I'm working on for the shop, and even Block of the Month design secrets.

I'll reserve this blog for my musings on art, creativity, and mindfulness. Now that I've found my bliss, which sits a little outside what I am doing at the shop (although in my mind they are perfectly related and inseparable), I feel a need to draw a distinction. Even though I see the lines between what I do at the shop and what I create at home as blurred, I realize that not everyone will share that view.

So I'm happy to write two blogs to minimize the confusion and you can read one or the other or (hopefully) both!

21 July 2010

It's as Simple as Bliss

Blog hiatuses always seem to require an explanation, but as I've been thinking about why I haven't blogged in 6+ months, I realized that my story is really of interest only to me, possibly my mother, and my future biographer (HA!). Suffice it to say that having stopped blogging, it was really hard to start up again. That darn inertia. (Being married to a physicist has its perks. I can blame my laziness on immutable laws of the universe.)

Unsurprisingly, my blogging hiatus coincided with an art hiatus, and it's only been the past couple weeks really where I have found myself slipping back into high gear, rather than trudging through the doldrums (and mixing my metaphors).

And now if you would indulge a seemingly tangential story, I promise you that it leads right back to the present.

A year ago (or more or less, my sense of time for this is distorted), I followed a link in an email to Christine Reed's blog, BlissChick, where she writes about discovering and truly living an artful life of bliss. The first post I read was on mindfulness, which is something that speaks to me deeply. I added her to my bloglines subscriptions, even though I thought the concept of living your bliss to be a little "hooey." But something niggled to me to subscribe and I did.

At the time, I was living a good, creative life. And it was a very good life. Co-owning Stitch Your Art Out with Cynthia surrounds me with creativity and community every day. It is a blessing to be able to share the joys of fiber art and craft with so many. At home, my husband encouraged me to work on my own fiber art and find my voice as an artist. And for a while I did, leading to the Bellefonte Exhibit and the Centre Pieces Quilt Show. But then I fell into a artistic slump and created nothing for months.

All the while, I kept reading Christine's blog, kept learning about how she found her bliss , and realized that something was missing. I was happy and comfortable, but where was my bliss? The question kept niggling at me. I knew I was ready to expand my life and move forward as an artist.

But what was my bliss?

I had an inkling it was in mixed-media. I liked the idea of blending paper and paint and stitch and cloth. For months I collected paints, books, and ideas. I surrounded myself with intentions and wielded my supplies like a totem, as though wishing and wanting are enough in themselves.

It took more courage than I realized to head into my studio and begin to create in this new media. I prepared some journal pages and some paper-cloth substrates. It took a couple days in this humidity before they were cured enough to work with. I started painting and inking and within minutes was enthralled in creative ecstasy. I learned to break the rules and find that I can create something beautiful from cloth and paper and glue and ink and paint and stitch.

Every day since then has been a revelation. I see the world in a completely different way. Everything seems possible now. I know that I'm still learning about this new method of expression. And I'm open to it for however long it takes.

I discovered who I am in a truly meaningful and life-altering way: I am an artist and I need to create. I had found my bliss.

I think back to that little niggling voice that compelled me to subscribe to Christine's blog even though I thought it was "hooey." It's like part of me knew that I needed to find my bliss. I kept reading because I was so compelled by her story. And by following her story, I came to understand the concept of bliss. That understanding changed my life: because in order to find something, you must first believe that it is real.

It really is as simple as bliss.