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Category Archives: artist

Finding beauty in every day… a 365 day challenge. #beautyineveryday

omlotus

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to cope with all the happenings taking place in the world today. And not just on the global or national scale (which, of course, are heavy enough) but, all the things that are happening day to day, month to month, to each of us. Life, by nature, challenges us – pushes us to overcome on a daily basis. Teaches us how to cope (or not cope) and forces us to keep moving forward because we have no choice. Time goes on, days go by, you wake up, you go to work, you go to sleep and then wake up to do it all over again. It’s an unavoidable cycle that, if you’re not careful, can slip by you in infinite time and the next thing you know you wake up at 37 and wonder how the hell you got here so quickly.

Finding purpose is something that I have admittedly struggled with. But I think that’s OK. I think that part of the journey of life is discovering and re-discovering purpose. Re-discovering self. Growing up I had a purpose – horses. In college I had a purpose. At least, the kind of purpose a 20 y/o woman surrounded by powerful, ambitious and brilliant women has. A purpose that I still tap into. With my ex, I had a purpose – a life, a love, a family and a future. In the years since then it’s been much less clear.

I used to use this blog as an opportunity to process. To share. To put what I am feeling on the inside out into the world, with the hope that someone would hear it – or that I would be heard. I used to sit in front of my computer late at night bursting with thoughts and feelings that I felt compelled to get out. And then I would go through phases where I’d grow silent. Repression, maybe? Avoidance – more likely. At times I thought perhaps I had healed what needed healing and had nothing left to say. Other times, I thought to myself that perhaps I just had nothing left to feel.

Today I feel compelled to write again. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and have known for quite some time that the day was imminent that I would feel this unyielding need to sit in front of my computer and write again – and not because it was my job or someone was telling me to do it. But, because I feel this insatiable need to do it, to get it out there and to share it with others. Perhaps it’s because I’ve reached an emotional place where I know I’m not alone and want to feel the support of my community around me. Perhaps it’s because I think I have something to offer to those who are in a similar space. Or, perhaps it’s because I’ve come to accept some things about myself and my life, my career and my situation, that have forced me to opened up again and to share.

I experienced something quite remarkable last night (something that I will go into detail on in a future post) but the essence of what it taught me is that in order for my life and my energy to flow, I need to find my voice and to express it. To find my joy and to share it with others. I could sit here and go into an over-analysis of my astrology charts, numerology, colorstrology, birthday charts, aura, energies, etc., but that might seem boring and a little new age for most of you. The important thing that I know and have learned about myself through this is that I have a deep, deep empathy for others – one that has, at times, led me to have premonitions or a telepathic connection (yeah, I know. sounds crazy! – and for yet another post) – and a desire to influence happiness and positivity in others. I give more of myself than is healthy at times, but that is a choice that I make conciously and willingly. I also harbor emotions too strongly and too deeply, and that has often closed a door around my heart that is hard to reopen. But that’s OK. That’s life. That’s learning and that is progress. I also know that I can comfort people just by being in their presence. That I am often a rock in an otherwise chaotic life. And that fills me with joy and a sense of purpose.

So… this leads me to the purpose of this post. The last couple of years have been very tumultuous in my life – relationships, cancer, work. And the last six months  have been particularly challenging at work. We have been in the midst of many changes, much of which have a direct impact on me, my team and the work that we do. It’s unsettling, and frustrating and infuriating, at times. After months of resistence to it I was able to realize that the negativity was not going to change or solve anything. Only make it harder to cope – harder to move on. So I have been working the last few months to create positive energy at work. To give some of my (sometimes exasperating) sense of optimism back to my team. It may sound silly but, I have created a white board where I’ve asked that we write, draw or attach the joy that we want to find in our work that day. The comments range from silly to serious, inside jokes to personal experiences. My intention is to help everyone find a reason to laugh, a reason to smile, a reason to think to themselves that things aren’t as bad as they feel right now.

This doesn’t mean things aren’t bad. And it certainly doesn’t mean that the feelings we are feeling and the experiences we are having – with work, with life, with politics, with humanity – aren’t valid. It just means that there is also much to appreicate in the world. There is much to love and much to find joy in. And in order to be our best selves, to find the courage and the strength to change the wrongs, to find our purpose – we must fuel it with joy… with appreciation. With love.  With compassion.

And so I am challenging myself (and any of those who wish to join) to take a journey with me – to post something every day  for 365 days that is beautiful… that you find joy, happiness or laughter in. Something you appreciate and/or love. Something that inspires you. Repeat posts are OK, because this journey is for you, not me or anyone else. We are just here to support you. And if you miss a day, that’s OK too, because there is no judgement here. No competition. No failure. This is for you. This is for me. This is what I feel compelled to do to keep my focus and to keep moving forward. Perhaps, to move beyond.

Use the hashtag #beautyineveryday and let’s begin…

My Day 1 selection is for the women in my life: past, present and future. When I had the idea I decided to go through all my facebook photos and pull pics of me with the women I love, who have touched me and inspired me. In doing so I found myself feeling overwhelmed with pride and joy – and the recognition that I have been fortunate to have been touched by so many remarkable women who have grounded and shaped me, and served as role models for the woman that I hope to be. There is so much joy and laughter in these photos. As well as happiness free of the gravity of sadness, uncertainty, unknowns. They remind me just how much love, kindness and passion there is in the world. All of which I hope to tap into on this journey. They remind me of the hope that I have.

So my beauty in the world today is all of you. You wonderful, gentle, inspirational, powerful women.

Day 1

 

 

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Amazing friendships, both human and animal…

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The death of my dog was the most traumatic thing I think I’ve ever been through… ever. And that’s saying a lot because I’ve been through some pretty traumatic shit (https://underalilactree.com/2012/09/19/history-as-gravity/. See also: Ex-hole.).  The idea of life without Buckley was something I couldn’t even imagine. And to have him taken so suddenly, where there wasn’t even a moment for me to “imagine it”, let alone say goodbye, was devastating. I didn’t even believe it was real.

en routeI suppose that’s what inspired that in-the-moment decision to have him cremated. I remember the vet asking me if I wanted to have him cremated and I instantly said yes. He was laying there, right in front of me, still warm… I don’t think there was any other possible answer. Then she asked if I wanted a group or private cremation. Um… private. Obviously. I wanted to take him home with me. I wasn’t ready to let him go.

The next week, I was talking with a good friend about it…  a friend who I consider a soul mate, someone I love deeper than almost any other person on this planet. I was telling him pretty emotionally how I was dreading the day that I was to go “pick him up” from my parent’s. That I couldn’t imagine that my dog, who was so full of life and love and joy, would come home with me in a stale, wooden box.

My friend, an artist and a magician with wood, said to me almost instantly, “I will make something for Buckley to live in.” Of course, it was the perfect thing to do. My friend, who’s artistic talent I’ve admired for years, was the perfect person to create something meaningful. My friend, who was with me for some of the greatest moments of my and Buckley’s time together, was the perfect person to know how to make me feel like Buckley would live on forever. My friend, who knows me deeper than almost anyone else in my life, knows exactly what I need to feel peace with all of this.

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A few weeks ago I was in NYC for a business trip and was able to pick up the piece that he did. It was breathtaking and emotional and perfect. My Buckley has a new forever home, and it’s exactly what I imagined it would be. No, it’s even better. It’s the second best thing to him actually still being alive.

Instead of tell you myself what the significance of it is, I thought I would let the artist himself explain it in his own words. Below is an email he sent to a friend and colleague of his, who was interested in writing a blog article about the piece as soon as she saw the images:

Greetings Amy,

I hope you have been well and staying warm this chilly season. I would be happy to inform you about the meaning behind the urn and how it came to be. Let’s start with the pup who now lives in it.

Buckley was a 3 year old, 75lb Boxer mix who a dear friend of mine rescued as a puppy. He spent his life with my friend, Em, in New England. They often visited the ocean beaches to let out all of his enormous amounts of energy. During the summer of 2013, Em, Buckley, myself and my two dogs, Harriet and Myrtle, took a week long trip to a house located on the mid coast of Maine.

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Being a woodworker and natural wood gatherer, I began collecting beautiful pieces of driftwood. I had the intention of creating some drift wood inspired pieces.  Buckley and Harriet kept me company while I searched the beach each day and night. Buckley was certain that the wood was soon to be used to demonstrate his superior fetching skills. Much to my dismay, he took some of the best ones for laps around the beach. Overall, the week long journey was an unforgettable experience in amazing friendships, both human and animal. IMG_2919

On Thanksgiving day 2013, Buckley was playing with his best dog buddy, as he did quite often. In mid stride, Buckley suddenly collapsed. It is presumed it was due to heart failure, as Boxers often suffer the same fate as Buckley. When I spoke with Em, she mentioned how carrying her 75lb dog home in a tiny box was the worst thing ever. Her daily companion deserved to be memorialized in a positive way, one that brought a smile to her face. I asked Em if I could make Buckley a proper urn, she gladly accepted my offering. 

I began by examining all the drift wood I had gathered and trying to see which ones spoke to me as “special”. I also began sketching different designs. As I often do with my woodwork, I decided to just start working on the urn. After finishing my normal work day in the cabinet shop, I began bringing my thoughts from the past month to life. I calculated the volume based on Em’s measurements of the current container, increased it by a little, and worked out a scale for the urn that worked well with the delicate driftwood. I chose walnut for the main structure, as it is dark, yet warm and comforting. The darkness of the walnut would contrast nicely with the driftwood base. I spent most of my time trying to make the drift wood actually hug and embrace Buckley’s new home. Taking that into account, I also wanted it to represent a tree house, as Em and I often discuss the joys of tree houses and wanting to live in one as adults. 

After several hours of working everything together just right, it was complete. It was delicate, yet secure. It didn’t look like a depressing box that held a dead dog. It now represented some of the most precious memories of Em and Buckley’s time together. 

Death is never easy. With this piece, I aimed to create a truly positive resting place. The memory of Buckley will live forever in a tangible memorial to his playful nature and the joy he brought into our lives. My dogs would much rather plop their head on my pillow, while thrashing around my sheets to create a comfy little nest. I hope this piece acts as Buckley’s comfy nest, where he can rest peacefully and have little barky doggy dreams of scouring the beach for drift wood. RIP Buckley. 

Thanks Amy, I am glad we met.

Chris

hug (1)I can’t even describe how perfectly the piece came out. In talking with Chris, I had told him that I wanted something the made me feel like Buckley was eternally being “hugged”… as I often did because he was the perfect size for hugging. And that’s exactly what he did. And beyond that, he incorporated a feeling, a memory, a moment, into the piece that will forever capture the heart of who Buckley was and the joy he brought to my life. The mischievous, adventurous, ‘I want to take your stick’ Buckley…will now be surrounded by his favorite driftwood, from one of his happiest moments, forever.

I will be eternally grateful to Chris.

To see more of his phenomenal work, check him out here:

http://www.treesandnails.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TreesAndNails