May Flowering Reflections

May is a hopeful month. The days are green and filled with the promise of Summer ahead, and the Winter with its long dark nights is gone. I like these rich and heavily scented days, the blooming part of the year. I bloom inwardly. Outwardly? Different story. Looking at myself in the mirror I find my challenge is to welcome the signs of having lived, the signs of aging. I think of Wabi Sabi, the beauty of rustic things–of things rusted over, wrinkled and worn. No comfort to me at all. My instinct is to run to a plastic surgeon and say “erase all of it: the tired eye bags, the crows’ feet, the sagging neck.” Feeling more empowered than ever, I want to look the part; I want strength and loveliness, not tired worry lines, evidence of many past tears and stress.

I turn to art and work out my struggles on canvas, with collage and images, words and brush strokes. Here I can “put on my best face,” which, interestingly, isn’t ever China Shop Pretty. My art, like my outward appearance,shows definite signs of life. My calligraphy is not typographically perfect–not even close. And I don’t much care. I seek a line of writing–a script which is visually powerful and evocative, feminine and mysterious–which best expresses ME. My words, my life, my experience. Perhaps, then, my approach to calligraphy will help me reconcile myself with what I perceive to be my outward physical imperfections. I can rename them as interesting punctuation marks, as living lines, as LIFE that is being lived inside and out.

In The Beginnning…

Spring is in Full Bloom in Austin, Texas. The Cactus flowers are so magnificent and outrageous this year–I even saw a cholla “rose” in a yard in Barton Hills the other day. I am grateful for these clear, cool days, a prelude to the coming heat. Everything is green and filled with possibilities. My mind is waking up from a long and restless sleep. It has been awhile since I have FELT inspired or thought new thoughts. I have dragged through my days and now, I am breathing again. Art saves the world and it certainly saves me. A daily journal–whether filled with deep thoughts or doodles–is a WAY back into my energy and inspiration. Funny that I teach what I want to learn myself.

I read a book recently which reminded me of so much I have neglected in myself. Sue Monk Kidd’s autobiographical book, “Dance of A Dissident Daughter” was like finding an old friend or discovering something that has long been shoved in a corner and piled over with junk. I have read all of her sources for the book, and experienced so much of the discontent she describes. The missing part for me has been a commitment to a WAY, a practice. That said, I quote Walt Whitman, who wrote, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I am large, I contain multitudes.” I believe I do have a practice: it includes calligraphy and art, running and being a wife and mother. I certainly believe that spirituality does not need to be so narrowly defined, and I am realizing that maybe I have been following a WAY all along, just didn’t recognize it as such. Thanks to Kidd’s book–and the author herself–which articulates so beautifully my own experience of relationship to divinity I am able to move forward in my life with renewed zest and inspiration.

The wonderful challenge which I am taking on this year is to create a “Book of my own,” the working title of which is the “Feminine Face of Calligraphy”. I envision the book to be non-linear, with excerpts from my many journals, as well as essays on my approach to making art. I will also include personal reflections, poetry and other musings.
My hope is to inspire others who like myself want to find their own voice and their own place in the world of calligraphy, the Western tradition of which has largely been developed and influenced by men.
More on that topic to follow….