helpless, watching the bombs fall from a shattered sky as they hit the ground trembling and burn into memories of laying in the prairie towards gazing meteor showers and shooting stars that give life to flowers crushed in the palm of their hands
mourning tragic moments has a way of showing us the truth exposing all the cracks and flaws in this ceramic castle that we built
The following are excerpts from the art journal I kept while visiting New York for a week.
The mediums I brought with were watercolors, oil pastels, and water-soluble wax pastels, as well as various pens and pencils. I also had a blank moleskin journal where my overall goal was to just fill up as many of the pages as possible and let myself experiment with different approaches. // I started with some background washes on a handful of pages, in case while wandering around the city I was struck with inspiration and wanted to add a drawing. // My process evolved into continually adding layers, sometimes going back to different pages to add something new. // Overall, it was a fun experiment and there were some concepts that emerged I would like to explore further, I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my process. ~L
“Lavender lattes” poured over a soft fabric reminding me of a warmer day when not uncovered in vulnerability, sometimes an unwelcome visitor, who stays for too long on your couch leaving your cupboards bare upon their exit
“Sparkling stars and the cityscape” give me a journey unlike the guilty rays of sunshine soaked up by my skin on a rooftop beach my brick-and-mortar bones raw and unfolding
I am currently on my journey back to the Midwest on the Lakeshore Limited Amtrak train, and have found myself blessed with a much better view this time around. The sun set over the Hudson River as the world whisked by, I held Charlie’s tag while finally shedding my first tears of the day, having somehow held them inside until I had made it to my sleeper car. This trip was heavy. I wasn’t sure how I would feel at the ending, if I would want to stay longer or if I would be ready to return to Milwaukee, and it has turned out to be a mixture of the two.
The veterinarian (or the angel of death as I’ve been referring to him), let me know his ashes would be ready the day I return coincidentally, synchronistically, like how the morning of his death I opened the cupboard to find it bare; after watching a monarch butterfly land on a freshly planted tree. Though I’m eager to have his remains back where they belong, I am not necessarily looking forward to being alone in that place again, the place that once felt like home but no longer truly does. I hope over time my heart will recognize it as a place of comfort.
During the past week, there were difficult moments, mostly when the quiet stillness seeped in, causing my mind to replay his final moments like a film I couldn’t stop in my mind, which is when I would turn on videos or music to fill my brain instead. I have been finding podcasts about grief helpful, and especially the ones where they acknowledge losing an animal companion can be just as painful as losing a close friend or family member. Our relationship was pure, no arguments, ultimately forgiving, and unconditionally loving. My darkest thoughts have included that I will never be unconditionally loved again and I try to brush those aside.
However, what was great about New York is that it’s the perfect place to stay busy and distracted, and unlike back home, I would get out every day to explore, walking mindlessly around Brooklyn admiring the graffiti art and shops. This trip was good for me, empowering, and it showed me there is a future and fulfilling life beyond what I have lost. I want to bring my sense of adventure back with me, and not only explore my own neighborhood more frequently, but also my inner universe, where the rivers run deep in my veins and stars appear beneath my eyelids, questioning why the films that play in my head repeat the way they do and what makes my heart sing. What makes me feel whole. I used to tell Charlie “it’s just you and me buddy” like it was us against the world, but now it’s just me. Though he has taught me so much about who I am and who I want to be, where I want to go.
While exploring the city today I stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant for a bite to eat and to add a quick sketch to my travel journal. I wasn’t overly impressed with the results, but the process is what matters the most to me. There was a young boy who couldn’t have been older than 7 years old hanging out at the patio as well while his mom was working. He was drawing at the table across from me and I was endeared by the shared interest.
After a while, the boy suddenly shot up and crumpled his paper, grumbling to himself. He ripped it up aggressively and threw the remnants on the ground, stomping on them and his marker in a dramatic matter that made me wonder if I should tell him not to give up. After his initial drawing was thoroughly destroyed, he got up and for a moment I thought he was done with art indefinitely.
Until he returned with more paper. This kid drew and destroyed several more sketches, each time ripping them up to stomp on in the same exasperated fashion. Wow, I felt that. What struck me about this action wasn’t that he was destroying his art, it’s that he kept getting up for more paper to keep trying. It was a beautiful reminder, you can hate your art, destroy it if you want, but keep turning more pages to try again.
Learn From Your Mistakes
It’s normal to make mistakes, it can even been seen as a good thing if you are able to learn from your personal mistakes and make changes based on the lessons you’ve learned. Hopefully you are aware enough to admit when you are wrong or when a business idea or plan isn’t working out. Often times those who are so scared of making a mistake are actually holding themselves back from doing what they really want to, because they are too scared to even start or try.
Writing Prompt: make a list of some of the mistakes you’ve made that might be bringing you down, and then how you’ve learned from them in order to not do similar things in the future. How have these things made you the person you are today? How have they helped you progress and grow? Are you able to re-frame these things to see them in a more positive light?
Learn From Others
Save yourself some time and learn from other people’s errors. Do your research and you will probably find numerous articles and information on the web about people trying to do similar things as yourself and find out what didn’t work for them. You can also look around your own life and observe those close to you, not to say to judge people, but just be aware of the mistakes your friends and family are making that have seemed to cause them strife, and try to avoid doing those things yourself.
Fail & Start Again as Quickly as Possible
Once you have failed, you are in the best place to try again. Get the bad ideas out and over with, cut your losses, and figure out a new plan. Don’t stay dredging it out in one specific idea just because you committed yourself to it when it obviously isn’t working. Eventually you will be able to see each “mistake” as an opportunity, rather than some terrible thing that happened, to grow and start fresh again with some new ideas!
“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work” (Thomas Edison)