Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cat Blogging, Oodles of Doodles, and Living in the Moment

I don’t know what it says about me that I’m blogging about my cat’s antics, but here goes: The cold I picked up last week has been worsened by sleep deprivation due to the Crazies. The Crazies is a chronic condition that afflicts my feline Yoshi at precisely 5:00 a.m. every morning, after I’ve let him in and he’s chowed down his breakfast. He commences the Crazies by throwing his head back and howling like a wolf. (I have no idea where he learned that behavior from—the Nature Channel?) Then he slams himself against the wall repeatedly, tears around knocking everything off of the counters and tables, baps my foot, gnaws on the computer cables, tries to eat my Beta fish, and generally acts like a goblin on crack for twenty minutes straight. Then suddenly it stops, and he crawls into his cat tree for a twelve-hour nap. In the throes of the Crazies, his eyes are glazed over and there’s no reasoning with him. He’s possessed. On weekdays, I’m up and about around that time so it’s not as disruptive, but on the weekends, this lady typist needs her sleep-in time desperately, especially when trying to shake a virus. This morning, right on schedule, the Crazies struck. I’ve been awake since five, and I’m dragging mentally, so no guarantees any of my babbling will be lucid.

I can tell my life is getting too full of drudgery by how excited I was to find a Doodling Kit at Barnes and Noble yesterday. I’ve always been a prolific doodler, and the fact that there is actually an entire art kit centered around it makes me feel legitimized. All of those years spent obsessively doodling during meetings were actually leading to something! According to the book that came with the kit, you can harness the power of your doodles by transforming them into big art pieces that you can frame and hang on the wall. Ka-ching! I smell a second income from my framed daisies and spirals and triangle mandalas. According to psychology websites, if you doodle flowers and spirals, you’re “flexible, imaginative, and emotional.” My doodles are mostly floral, but sometimes they get very weird and complex and angular, leading me to worry a little about what’s going on in my subconscious.

Painting and drawing has always been good for my writing, as is writing in long hand. It’s that mysterious hand-brain connection thing. I haven’t written in long hand in a while because I’ve been pushing to get the novel done (54,000 words so far!) and for that I need to type, type, type, but for poetry and short stories and general musings/imaginings, writing in long hand opens up my subconscious in a way that typing doesn’t. I’ve always been a terrible draw-er, but at one time I took an online drawing course, and by then end of it, I could actually draw things that looked like the thing I was drawing! It was exciting to realize drawing is actually a learned skill, as I’d always thought it was a talent you either were born with, or not.

And something happened to my brain during that time as well. I was practicing drawing almost every day, and the way I saw the world started to change. I stopped making so many judgments about aesthetics; what things or people were attractive or not attractive. When the judgment stopped, I started to see things as they were. I became drawn to the imperfect, the asymmetrical, blighted landscapes and faces. When I started to look at all things as a potential subjects, I saw something compelling in everything. It was very freeing—I didn’t have to decide what was and wasn’t “beautiful”, because all things simply were what they were.

Right now, I am trying to bring that approach to my life—to drop the judgments about where I think I “should” be, and what I think I should have, and accept things as they are. It’s not easy, but nor is constant comparing, judgment and fear. I find myself standing more and more in the now, letting go of the both the past, which is gone, and the future, which doesn’t exist. It’s a much more peaceful place to live in my head.

--Kristen McHenry

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