The Counterchangers

Counter change is a word that all artists don’t know that they know. It means how an object in a drawing will change from light to dark in contrast to what it is set against. This contrast is the basis of space perception and focus and really everything in art. I think it’s the way us bodies set ourselves against external reality as well.
A faint memory cuts in and out. Of someone who loved me warning me that many people take and use everything that happens to them as a way to glorify themselves. They said I wasn’t really about that and I needed to be careful with this mode that many people operate in. Many people glorify themselves in the same way the Pharisee did, by contrasting themselves in whatever category is celebrated in society against what society sees as wretched. Following the rules to a t and being ultra religious was held in high esteem so that’s what the prideful man was obsessed with proving about himself. The sinner provided just the deep charcoal shade blending into the shadows at the back of the temple he was looking for in order to make himself a shinier example of eliteness.
Sometimes people pride themselves in their ability to not see the meanest and injustice of a bad person. They do this in order to make you feel like “maybe if I were nicer or treated this person with the proper touch they would like me too”. Putting up with a little maltreatment is a small price to pay considering the exulted high they get from acting the sainted victim. The prideful also get to feel like they have a special gift in dealing with others.
This happens in jobs where difficult costumers get their way thereby casting all other customers as second class citizens. All because a particular service person wanted the other service people to feel like dumb brutes by treating the tough costumer like a king or queen. These wonder workers will always say “well IIIII never had a problem with Mr or Mrs so in so!” Or “They really aren’t bad if you know how to approach them”.
The need to feel better hurts others terribly. When it is an accepted cliche that “if you don’t know any jerks in your life, that’s because you yourself are the jerk” then that means you need to condemn in order to be an okay human being. Seize the situation and moment, cast yourself white against black but make sure other decent people are gray otherwise there will be multiple focal points and you won’t be special anymore.
The truth for us rational beings is that we congregate with others like ourselves. Birds of a feather flock together because they can move and decide to some extent. Poison ivy on the other hand grows near jewel flowers because jewel flowers are a remedy to poison ivy rashes. We humans aight to be more advanced than the vegetative plants. We aught to be attracted to goodness, get as close to true excellence and intelligence and kindness and try to copy it. If we aren’t poison, why do we need an opposite nearby? If we aren’t there to actually salve the badness then why are we hanging with the toxic? Toasting your own health below a taxic yew doesn’t make it the fountain of youth. Who knows, if you flock to toxins you might become like the growth around a black walnut tree…extinct.
Humans can make art and for non artists that need is fulfilled by painting themselves white against you. It is fulfilled by acting the hero while you are an unimportant human prop or better yet, the villain. Or having you harmonize in a lower octave to their high notes. This artistic interpersonal strategy defeats itself since, wonder of wonders, other people want to look good too in contrast to their surroundings OR they want to associate with the sincere best. Nobody wants to give themselves up to being the evil opponent of a fake saint. So sadly there is an endless competitive witch-hunt of people flinging mud at one another in an effort to always be a tad cleaner than everyone else.
Excellence, sincere excellence in yourself and the willingness to acknowledge and to emulate it in others is the answer to this horrible dynamic. At least that’s what my heart says. Hopefully I can be a part of the good attitude.

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if you know me then you were a little surprised to see “surrender” as the title. It’s because I think surrender and things like it our used to kind of shame others for getting into the fight, engaging with reality and striving for excellence. What I realized recently is that you can have both. You yourself strive with everything you have and leave the success of what you do up to God. I made peace with this as far as my art is concerned last week. A day or two later I discovered something on the internet that ratified that realization and more.
it was the story and art of this unknown Irish nun who had decorated a tiny unassuming chapel in honor of some brave boys who died in ww1. The French/Belgians had sent a Sacred Heart statue to say thank you to the school and town from whence the soldiers had come. This nobody nun asked her mother superior to decorate the walls. When her superior said yes she went on to spend about 4 hours everyday for the next 16 years making that tiny dark chapel into a slice of Heaven. Very few people know about it to this day, even people who live in that town.

  1. Was it terribly selfish to make such time consuming art in a time of upheaval?
  2. Was she concerned with it’s success and exposure?
  3. Did it fix the whole world?
  4. Was the fact that the leftover house paint brought in by students was lead and that she died of lead poisoning actually a good thing? She died just in time to finish it and just before ww2 really took off. I personally suspect that was the kindness of Divine Providence .
  5. Why are we here on Earth?
  6. What the world thinks is most important and what really is worth our time are totally inverted.
  7. Many great saints bothered with building shrines and making art. They didn’t just pray. Yes I said just. As in only. St. Louis built calvaries. St. Francis fixes up a dilapidated church. You are allowed to strive in the outer world. But the effects and impact of what you do is up to God.

Perpetual Journal Innauguration

So I started a perpetual nature journal. My daughter is doing one too! WE are both using Crayola colored pencils for now because they are nontoxic and easy to set up and clean up. Feel free to use my handy dandy dates breakdown so that your nature journal will reflect the same time of year every time you draw in it.

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Operation Buttondownshirt

I’m reading the Gulag Archipelago finally. Of course I should have years ago and never did. I had heard little excerpts from it though. One was about some old aristocrat who had been in camp after camp for many years. He had still never died. What was his secret to a long life? Great table manners! At every meal he took out a little kit of utensils and a napkin. He laid it all out like he was at a formal banquet. He put whatever pigswill the camp kitchen was cooking that day and ate it as though it was the finest fillet minion.

It’s just like in the story of Gideon where only 100 guys had good enough table manners to be allowed to fight. They won the fight against a much larger army too.
There is no way I’m doing all that etiquette stuff. I’m such a slob and still dribble good on myself. I also speed eat in order to talk or help kids cut up food. But there is one thing I’ve always admired. People who wear formal, old fashioned clothes in their day to day lives. My sister did that and now she’s a principal of a boarding school. She believed in respecting her body as the home of her soul’s dignity. It also looks better. It also disguises fat rolls. Knit fabrics on the other hand make us look like fat slobs despite us being programmed to perceive the contrary.
My big breakthrough had two parts:

  1. It’s just as easy to put on nice clothes as it is to put on stretchy, comfy ones.
  2. Many uniforms include a cotton shirt. At these jobs people work very hard physical labor and yet aren’t dying of heat or discomfort. If anything they get cold and then can put on a cardigan. Also remember how hard people used to work in the old days even though their everyday clothes were nicer than our formal clothes.

So I bought a bunch of collared, button down, woven shirts. They aren’t even that uncomfortable. I like how the sleeves stay rolled up. And that’s how I’m fighting back. Who knew that personal hygiene was the highest leverage way to win a war?

Poison Ivy Garden

I’ve been in a lot of environments where a military grade preparedness and neatness and discipline were needed and celebrated. I’m terrible at having a perfect record in behavior, in attendance, in politeness. I’ve always tried to compete and pass myself off as this person who’s so perfect! What a lie. I’m creative. Why didn’t I stop competing and rather, start playing and exploring. I need art, stories, imagination for my sanity. Let it be!
Someone who doesn’t know diddly tells me I’m selfish. So I take a job meant for a bleeding heart person. It doesn’t feel right and no matter how hard I try I cannot do it as well as someone else might. I’m proud of how unhappy I am with it and continue hoping to prove to whom I don’t even know that I’m a good person. Of course it will never be enough for me to believe I’m not selfish. Dumb people became teachers so they can give horrible advice and feedback. Sometimes weak people become police and are bullies. People struggling with gross tendencies become priests. Maybe they thought that by taking that job they would stamp out the bad. We try to prove what we are not and that’s how we hurt ourselves and others.
where does a person find weeds? In the middle of a wood or field? In an abandoned lot? We find them where some person tried to control everything. Maybe they didn’t like the dandelion and plantains. So they bulldozed everything. A year later there are thistles and poison ivy growing. Ideally we would curate and contain what we naturally have rather than utterly destroy and try to start over. Apply Some gentle pest control, add some borders around the mint that would take over the whole yard, lattice the best parts so they Don’t get too top heavy and flop onto the ground. Prune the out of control growth but don’t yank the roses out by the roots! A sprits of prudence and a shovelful of self control is all that’s needed. Display but don’t destroy. Contain but don’t crater.
When we try too hard to remake ourselves the perfect way we would want, we end up destroying all that was good with very few benefits. Or even when there is a poison plant that needs to be destroyed we think that by covering it with sand and putting a wooden border around it that the perceptions of a sandbox will be the cure. This self improvement garbage hurts what is good and legitimate in us. It is suicide of the good parts of our personalities that God planted. We think we know better and we make ourselves miserable, ugly and unlovable.
Only weed what is truly poison. Don’t disguise the poison and destroy the harmless weeds. Think!

Taboo Tallying

It’s disappointing when a person stands up in front of a crowd or on the internet somewhere and announces that they are about to say something super unpopular. After warning all assembled that they will soon hate the speaker, the speaker will say something that should be darn clear is going to receive great praise while simultaneously creating the impression that the speaker is this brave hero. The audience also gets to to feel so special for understanding such a marginalized point of view.
One thing I’ve hardly ever heard condoned is actually very practical. It should not be be shocking in any way. I want to confess to starting a daily weight habit! I’ve been weighing myself first thing in the morning for about five months now! To make matters worse, I’m pregnant!

I realized while brainstorming on a pad of paper that the main reason I am overweight is  because I will throw care and caution to the wind for months at a time in these free for all eating sessions. I will eat whatever with wanton abondon, never weigh myself and wake up months later 20 pounds heavier. Then I will tap into my innate love of vegetable to take the weight off. Before I was a mom, that was basically okay. Now I cannot predict when I will get pregnant, I cannot know how much hunger I will tolarate as a breastfeeding mom. I do not know that if by doing some sudden increase in exercise or a fasting program that these programs will do as they promise and release a huge amount of toxic accumulous from my fat cells. What if it goes into the breastmilk. It seems that in this life of uncertainty, that the best thing is to control and prevent weight gain in the first place.

Many people accept as true the notion that being obsessed with the number on a scale is ‘unhealthy’. They seem to think that what might trigger some mental turmoil in them is what would bother others as well. Yet many prescribe writing down what one eats everyday. There is good reason to recommend this since keeping a food diary is actually the best strategy for weight loss that there is according to a study done years ago.  Wait! I just contradicted myself! Basically what I suspect is helpful, is keeping alert and watchful. In my case I prefer weighing myself every morning as opposed to sitting down after every meal, guesstimating amounts, cramming my writing into that meal’s line, and basically making weight control into a nightmare. I don’t enjoy evaluating, sorting and tallying what I have or haven’t done or what I will do. I will live my fantasy of outsourcing my thinking to a just judge outside myself.  My problem is not with seeing the truth of wha is dissecting what I have eaten and putting it onto a spreadsheet. I don’t hate the scale for being objective. I love and respect it for being hard but fair. Thank you Germans for making such an acurate peice of machinery!

Anyways, I don’t feel obsessive. It is not a burden to wake up and hop on the scale each day. I can totally live this no matter what is going on in my life. I have enough common sense to know that the days following Thanksgiving are just going to register as weight gain on the scale and that those few pounds are temperary! I have gained 10-15 lbs which I know is inevitable with pregnancy. I don’t spend all day dreading it since it happens first thing in the morning, then it’s done. If a certain food causes a spike of a couple pounds the next morning every time I eat it then now I have the knowledge that it might be something to eat rarely. I Don’t hate the scale for letting me know! Knowledge is half the battle. It’s good to know where you stand. How does it help a person to walk around with their eyes shut feeling and guessing their er, weigh? I love this modern advantage of a highly accurate and inexpensive bathroom scale!

I better type the  words, “This isn’t prefessinal, medical advice, just sharing what works for me.”  That’s the whole point. Everyone probably has a few traits that are not in the majority and this is one for me where I’ve finally understood and applied to my advantage. Nobody who reads this blog  thinks that I’m a doctor but just in case … “I’m not a doctor.”


Capsulessss Wardrobe

I just curated my “Cool Weather Fat” wardrobe and I’m pretty proud of my organization. I better talk about it while I’m still on top of it.
• Several years ago I weeded out all the absolutely horrible clothing choices for me. I got rid of colors that make me feel ugly. I also pitched things that were made for a totally different body type, that were given to me etc. that was the first wave where a bunch of stuff may even have been trashed it was in such bad shape.
• In Springtime and early summer I did a more careful sorting of iffy versus good clothing choices. Some were obvious give away items that I had accumulated since the great purges of the past years, others were colors I didn’t want to accept looked bad in me. I went over my choices with my husband and even so regretted a thing or two that I gave away. It was about 95% all good choices though.
• Now I simply asked “Will I be able to wear this in the next six months? Is it big enough? Is it warm enough?” Then everything else went into a box. Very few things were left in my drawers but now I can see and reach them easily.
What was interesting was that several palettes emerged without any money spent! Green, black and red for my few formal options, lots of blues and black for my casual clothes. There were a bunch of others throughout but I am off to a good start without barely trying!
• Next, I want to carefully organize everything into basically 4-6 boxes.
Winter Fat(third trimester when it occurs during mostly cold months)

Winter Medium( second trimester and post partem when it’s cold out)

Winter Smedium ( for that never yet seen occasion when I lose my baby weight. I have some really nice clothes in this group that are a)Neatly organized and doing no harm. b) I would probably be rather angry at myself for giving up and giving away so quickly.)

Summer Fat(third trimester)

Summer Medium(second trimester and post partem)

Summer Smedium( first trimester and actually lost most of baby weight for once)

Why commit to an extreme form of capsule wardrobe? Capsules wardrobe is better and is in more conformity with who most of us are as a society. Let me see how I do with this before launching into monastic austerity. If you are doing the mom cycle of life then you already need to own a variety of clothes in various sizes, why not organize it? Unless you live in a Parisian apartment I don’t think a few boxes are going to harm a single body. What will harm is if you misguidedly attempt an overly limited wardrobe on a whim and then end up buying even more six months later what you’re sick of it, it’s gets worn out through repetitive wear, or whatever. The most responsible thing is to just use, mend,  and curate what you already have.


We see these pretty flowers on our walk through a sunny meadow. I snapped a photo of one but I was scared of the overlapping complexity of this to the point of not wanting to draw it. I decided to just let things overlap and also convert some of the details into repetative patterns. I’m glad I did what was needed both to start the drawing and enjoy the whole process instead of rigidly adhereing to reality.

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