The Starving Artist: Chapter 53: Student Teach Thyself

Humans are designed to consume information. There are books and magazines. There are blogs and websites and conventions and lectures. The world around us is bursting with delectable knowledge to munch on. Everyday is full of appetizing opportunities to fill our minds. As children we learn from our parents. In school, we learn from our teachers. And as grown ups we learn from each other. Now, what we learn depends on where we learn it and how we’re taught. And since no two students learn alike, how can we quantify what knowledge is truly and deliciously powerful?

With the ever increasing availability of information, it is difficult to sift through and find the knowledge we need to survive, thrive and pass along. In this world of high tech, low connection interactions; FB status updates and Instagram poses have become our main source of human contact. Which is great on so many universal levels, let’s all agree on that, but can be the cause of so many other issues that didn’t exist even 10 years ago. As an internet savvy society, we are able to be active observers in the lives of those around us without actually participating. This is where knowing and doing meet and split. I find this passivity has made me lazy. Just because I know what someone wants to show me is going on in their lives, doesn’t mean I’ve actually learned anything about them. I miss long winded phone calls and brief catch-ups and brunches with long lost friends. I miss late night gab sessions filled with tears and toils over boys and truly learning who all these people are, not just who they want the world to think they could be. I want to learn about the real, damaged and delightful them.

Now, as a person with multiple personas, I can see my opinion being negated by they fact that my public identity and my private one are often at odds with each other, but I am learning to live in the spaces where my realities cross-over. Those lovely green and purple areas of life. My identities include: Gracie the kindest, sweetest and most humble version of myself. She is the person I would be if the rest of the world wasn’t such a jerk. I’ve learned it’s easy to be an optimistic sweetie pie on stage and online. Now, Melicious is a bit more vile. She gets mad with those jerks for being Jerks, and then there’s Melissa, who knows that she’s a jerk most of the time. The happy green mix of yellow and blue is learning that even if all of my identities merged into one, there would still be a world full of jerks both online and off and dealing with it daily. In the end, I guess the most powerful knowledge is learning who you are, what you want and what you’re willing to do to get it. I am willing to go for it and now I am trying to learn how to do so. Hello, my name is Gracie, Melicious and Melissa and I am an information over-eater and highly sought after trivia teammate. And I just needed to share that knowledge with you.

The Starving Artist: Chapter 53: Student Teach Thyself

The Starving Artist: Chapter 52: Learning To Say No

As an artist I have found myself being asked to provide my craft for free. To perform for exposure. Without thought to effort, time or cost. And in the past I have taken all those gigs; anything just to share my talent with an audience. Gaga says it best: ‘I live for the applause.’ Now, as an artist I know it’s difficult to quantify what my craft is worth. But I know for dang sure it’s not free. And I cannot live on the applause.

So, lately I’ve found myself expanding my vocabulary. And I’ve found comfort in one tiny word: NO. So small but so mighty. Oh yeah. It feels good. Like taking back the power position in my art. And making a choice to make art instead of flinging as much as possible at the wall; hoping for something to stick. If I choose what I do, when, for what and why, I can hold myself to a higher standard. I become a creator with passion instead of pressure. Cuz if all I’m doing creatively is taking on more so I can take on more, then all those important and paying gigs are devalued. And if I devalue my art, how could I expect anyone else to see it’s worth?

Since I’ve started using no, I’ve noticed the yeses increasing. Now, I know that the universe is about balance. So, turning something off, turns something else on. When you start rewarding yourself the universe congratulates you and gives you a, wait for it, reward. By saying no, you can decide who you want to be as an artist- and better focus on that. You can start creating better art for a better world. But seriously now, don’t get me wrong, I love freebies. I can’t say no to a promo gift bag;)

The Starving Artist: Chapter 52: Learning To Say No

The Starving Artist: Chapter 50: Kick, Stretch & Kick, I’m 50

Wowsa, can you believe I’ve written over 50 chapters of the Starving Artist? I mean, I can barely recall a Monday without serious cyber reflection. Now, not all of these entries have been deep or even meaningful, but they’ve all been a slice of me. And a benefit of sharing myself I have been about to shed unwanted weight, both physically and emotionally. This blog has become somewhat of a dumping ground for my overactive and cluttered brain. A healthy and hyperspace form of nearly free therapy. But the part I’m most surprised by is how much I’ve learned about myself and how much happier I’ve become.

In the past, I’ve found it hard to celebrate the little wins. I glean over them onto the next without pausing to think about how things have changed. Speaking of celebration, I am 20 days away from another milestone, my birthday. For some people getting older is tough. It’s as though they see life as a hallway with doors closing as they walk past. A journey with fewer and fewer detours. They treat life like the tedious daily grind it can be. As though each day is just another brick in the wall. The shuffle of tired feet and the shuffling of papers. A sad and sorry state of affairs if you ask me. I’ve always considered myself an optimism expert with a dark side. But in these last few months I’ve been feeling evermore that life is a tisket, a tasket, a little yellow basket. And this basket can hold as much life as I can carry; and with all the exercise I’ve been doing lately, I’m pretty strong.

Over the past 50 Mondays my life has changed and rearranged and continues to shape shift. As though my journey is aimed in the general direction of happiness, but the ocean of life keeps tossing me to and fro. Though if you know me, you know even stormy weather has a silver lining. The biggest secret I am busting to share though is: Even in a sea of trouble you can sail on a boat named Happiness. It’s all about how you read the maps. And today’s maps read like Thank you cards. There are so many things to be thankful for, and I am thankful for most of them. I am thankful that I’ve stuck to my guns. I am thankful that I am creating art again. I am thankful to be back in the work saddle again. I am thankful for dreary Sundays I can fill up with knick-knack nuggets that needed my attention. I am thankful for a Hubby who wears my gloves. I am thankful for my inspiring BFF. I am happy to feel at home. And I am happy to be 50, without looking a day over 32…for at least 20 more days.

The Starving Artist: Chapter 50: Kick, Stretch & Kick, I’m 50

The Starving Artist: Chapter 49: The Ruined Soup

There are women who whip together culinary delights with the simple flick of the whisk. There are women whose homes are inviting; as though banana bread grows in their oven. Domestic Goddesses draped in gingham aprons, spooning out comfort by the bowl. I am not that woman.

This past Wednesday I was struck with the impulse to utilize the veggies from the fridge that were pushing their expiration date. There was cauliflower and broccoli, garlic, cobs of corn and collard greens. And I thought to incorporate the most veggies, a soup was my best bet. Now, there is something special about soup. Something that reminds me of community and togetherness. It’s warm and soothing. And as you may remember, I’ve been sick. So, obviously soup is the best choice! Right? Wrong. It was a culinary disaster. A bubbling crock pot of what’s now being called- Poop soup. Yes, Poop soup and for 2 good reasons. One: the green goopey sludge was high in fiber, actually it was only fiber and water. And two: it stunk up the whole house for days. And I mean STUNK. Like broccoli left in a dirty pot while you’re in Jamaica at an all inclusive resort. It’s just sitting there, stinking up the place and reminding me of my failure.

Now, you may be saying to yourself: Why on earth is she writing about failed soup? Because, like most things it’s not about the soup. Lately, I have been feeling happier and more pathetic than I can ever remember being. I know, I know, those are two very distant emotional relatives to be in such close quarters. But that’s where I’m at: Finally starting to fulfill my creative needs. I am performing on a semi- regular basis. I’m happy, satisfied, challenged and loving it. Here’s the pathetic part; like so many others, I gauge my success by how busy I am. By the hours worked in a day. And by how good my soup is. By these standards, I fall somewhere between wretch and a warning sign. I mean, it’s not exactly Soup-nazi status just yet, but the threat of no-soup is very real. So, while stirring tears into the bubbling green glop, I knew that even the best soup in the whole world, made with all the serenity and love of a talented Kitchen Wizardess, wouldn’t have helped me feel any better. But at least that would’ve been edible.

The Starving Artist: Chapter 49: The Ruined Soup

The Starving Artist: Chapter 48: Stressed For Success

The saying goes, the moment you get what you want, you don’t want it. Well, ladies and gentlemen, for me what I want is to perform. I freaking love it. I love the rush, I love the sound of an audience- even a disinterested one, I love the sound of my own voice. I love writing, I love getting up in a soapbox and I love listening to the sound of my own voice as I read what I just wrote. And I feel that by doing what I’ve always wanted to I am a success. So, when’s this whole ‘I don’t want it’ part gonna kick in?

The hopeful answer I’m looking for is: Never! But choosing to follow your bliss can be a double edged sword. The part of you that longs for personal and creative fulfillment, often conflicts with the social expectations of ‘success’ or ‘normality’. Society, in general, looks at a 4 bedroom house with 3 kids, 2 cars in the driveway and a miniature schnauzer as a reflection of life decisions well made. While the broke artist, living off KD in a tiny shoebox with a Beta remains unrecognized for it’s value. Therein lies the debate: Is success a thing or a feeling? Obviously, if you’re going to be pedantic, a feeling is a thing. But it’s not really. You can’t hold sadness or throw empathy or put your dirty laundry into joy. So, let me answer one question with another, what is your normal and do you feel like a success?

Success by nature can be measured in many ways. And it’s the belief of this (not so humble) writer that by doing a little bit of something you love each day; you work to build your own success story. Okay, so it’s not the national tour in a pimped out mega bus with your face plastered on the side kinda success. And so what, it’s not the first Pulitzer prize for World’s Bestest Blog success. Or even what I love doing pays the rent success. But maybe striving for deep-down-inner-personal success is the most valuable of all successes, cuz you have to live with yourself everyday. *Sigh. I could listen to myself talk about this all day, but instead I’ll wrap it up with something else you’ve heard ‘people’ say: If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. And that’s a success no matter how you measure it:)

The Starving Artist: Chapter 48: Stressed For Success

The Starving Artist: Chapter 47: When Size Matters

In a recent conversation my GFF reminded me ever so emphatically that I hadn’t weighted in, in months. Consider me rectifying that situation with this post. Now, I know that you’re all just dying to know where I fall on the spectrum. Well, let me give you a little more info, that may or may not interest you.

Truths
1.I completed the 30 day squat challenge, to amazing results.

2. I have fallen off the gym wagon in my effort to climb aboard the Burlesque wagon. Slipping from 4 times a week to 1- And my body is telling me that I need to get back on the pole.

3. People seeing me in my all-togethers is an excellent motivator to be more comfortable in my birthday suit. And if I could afford a custom made birthday suit I would pay through the nose.

Wins
1. I now fit into all my jeans. Even the dreaded skinny jeans that just a few months ago cutoff circulation to anything below my waistband.

2. My summer shorts are way too big for me, but all my fall clothes seem to be perfect. So far.

3. I am happy. Tired and overwhelmed and nervous and broke but happy.

So, since I started this endeavour (almost a year ago) I have made a big difference in my own life. I have become the change I want to see in the world. Or at least in myself. By measuring my progress I’ve been able to quantifying my advancement. And not to be sappy, but I am happy. I mean I am starting to get happy again. It’s amazing that I didn’t realize I had such a capacity to love myself. Especially since I didn’t notice how much I liked myself, which, to be totally honest, wasn’t a whole heck of a lot. It’s weird how much my life has changed and the things I miss…but as my Momma says: It all comes out in the wash. And now, I can wash and wear those skinny jeans.

Height 5’8 1/2″ I gained a half-inch and Hubby thinks it’s all neck
Weight 166.4 (+2.2 lbs)
Bust 37.25 (-.75″) whoo hoo! Yowza!
Natural waist 31.25 (-/+)
Hips 41.75(-.75″)
Arm flex r:13(-.5″) l:13(-.5″)
Arm rest r: 13 (-/+) l:13 (-/+)
Thigh standing r: 24.25 (-.5o”) l:24.25 (-.25″)

The Starving Artist: Chapter 47: When Size Matters

The Starving Artist: Chapter 46: Home, Home Once Again

I was in dire need of a break. A few days I could spend thinking of nothing. Oh, sweet nothing. So, I spent this week at my mother in law’s boyfriend’s cottage. Not exactly my home turf. And I suffered from a disadvantage. I didn’t know the rules. The schedules. The plan. And it was hard to guesstimate the lay of the land. I spent most of this time tripping, slipping and snapping in every sense of the word. I learned about the humming bird’s grumblings. I witnessed bees bumbling. I slid and slipped down muddy slopes. And was munched upon by many an eager mosquito. I am a small town girl living in the big city, transplanted to the deep north. And being that alone can encourage your mind to play tricks on you.

While away, I was busy convincing myself that I had forgotten how to do what I do. That I’d been beaten and p’ownd by my big mouth. I began freakin’ at the thought of forgetting how to pontificate. Expel and explain. What if I’d forgotten how to blog? What if I was suffering from a shell-shock writer’s block? Who am I? Do I matter? You know, all those big questions. I second guessed myself, I was ill-at-ease and I dragged my heels. I hfrumfphed through the boat rides and hikes. I couldn’t stop starring at the uneven path before me, struggling to master it, or at least figure it out. But there were moment when I finally looked up. Or stopped to listen to the grumble of the hummingbirds; and would realize, I loved every second of it. For the record though: I hate being beaten at my own game, which happens to be UNO. UNO! (Autocorrect has me capitalizing the whole word and who am I to disagree?) and I have to follow the rules after I get caught cheating.

So, Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I announce, I am on an upswing. I had to be a few screws short before screwing my head back on straight. I had to grumble and battle and sigh before I felt better. And after spending a solid month working the Burly circuit; networking and chin wagging, I was tired. My body was worn out. The sound in my left ear muffled. Then there was the stretched and sore jaw muscle I had relied on for oh-so-much whooing. I was a broken showgirl, and for some reason, I needed a break and to be reminded that Sudbury is freezing. And that there are places north of Sudbury, that are even colder. But it was when I began breathing in the city air again, that I found comfort in a deserted city park with a clear view of the CN Tower and the hummingbird whiz of the Gardiner expressway. I was home. I needed to hula hoop in the sun running on just Glory Doughnuts and hope. Hope that’d we’d found a new place to live, with our stinky dog. And when I sat down at the computer screen again…my mind was calm and my path clear, and the blog was written and we began again.

The Starving Artist: Chapter 46: Home, Home Once Again