aware

The above quote has been on my fridge for years.  It’s one of my favorites and I like to think I personify it in my life, at least part of the time.  Lately I have been thinking a lot about the act of drawing and how it applies to being aware and awake and alive.  A former student of mine and I have been researching creativity, its application in the work place and how the simple act of drawing can enhance, channel and release innovative thinking.  It has been an exciting and overwhelming project which we hope will enable us to bring our ideas into the corporate sphere, teaching people to collect their thoughts and ideas visually, by drawing in a sketchbook.

I have been diligently working in my own sketchbook in recent weeks to practice what I preach in some sense.  As school winds down into summer for the kids, my ideas are brewing for both my new project out in the “Real World”, as well as for studio plans.  My family and I have spent a great deal of time outdoors recently and that has given me fuel for the sketchbook as well as for my more academic research pursuits.  I am not sure how it works, (though I am currently doing a ton of reading about it) but the simple act of drawing, combined with walking and being outdoors is a magic tool for productivity and creative thinking.  It is my hope that I can successfully convey this notion to folks who have never tried drawing.  Drawing is one small way to be joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.  So is hiking and simply being outside.  At least for me.

Here are some Daily Dog Drawings from recent weeks….

We took Iris to the Red River Gorge for a long hike on the Wildcat Trail to Dog Fork Creek.  It was a great time, especially with only one dog.  Caskie is a little old for such a rough hike on difficult terrain, and River is still prone to running off and making a general nuisance of himself.  So we took just Iris and it was wonderful to spend the day just with her.  It turns out she likes fishing.  She would stare into the creek at the small minnows and then pounce on them.  I think given some time, she might have caught herself one.

The day after our day trip to the Gorge, Tony and I went on a rainy kayak trip with some friends, partly so I could test drive a boat that’s my size and for sale.  Paddling in the rain was surreal and sensual and I hope to do it again.  The temperature was warm enough that it was not uncomfortable and we all had a great time.  I am hoping to sell a couple of paintings at an upcoming show at the Art Academy so I can buy this boat…

void

These past few days have been filled with thoughts of Esme.  Last weekend my son Jack and I went up to Detroit with a group of fellow musicians to compete in the North American Midwest Regional Fleadh Cheoil. (and Irish Music Competition)  Unlike Jack, I was only there to compete in one small thing, and yet I was terrified.  I am not one who enjoys being on stage, let alone being judged.  But I go and participate because I like what leads up to it; the rehearsals and figuring out as a group what exactly we will play.  That part of it is fun.  The going on stage part is not.  Most of Jack’s schoolmates seem to take being on stage in stride and show no signs of stage fright or pre-show nerves.  This was not true for Esme.  Cut of the same stage-going cloth as I, she was always a bundle of nerves before a show, and a puddle of relief afterwards.  And yet she always performed just fine.  She’d get up there and do what needed to be done.  I thought of her a lot in the hours leading up to our little band competition and once up on stage, I took a deep breath, and did what I had to do.  It went fine.  We did our best, and I was happy I had made the effort.  We got 3rd out of 3, alas, but we got rave reviews from the crowd!  As a side note, my Jack won the mandolin and banjo competitions, but his best showing was in Fiddle.  A third place out of a huge field of talented kids.  He was thrilled!

Upon returning home from the Fleadh, we hit the ground running this week with concerts and graduation.  Esme was ever present at all of these events.  Many of them were her events where she should have been playing.  She was missed sorely by those of us in the audience, her classmates, and of course, her family.  In the midst of it all I have been embroidering a small quilt square that will go to my favorite local fabric store, St. Theresa’s Textile Trove, where it will join many others like it in a quilt for Esme’s family.  It is a huge labor of love and I can’t wait to see the finished product!  I am proud to be just a small part of it. My square is called Esme Early Bird.  She was always the first one up at our house when she visited.

At SCPA’s graduation performance, Esme’s spirit was with us all as we held a beautiful moment of silence before the ceremony, and quotes from her blog graced the speeches of some of the Seniors.  Tears have been close to the surface for me and even though I just got back from Detroit, I am hitting the road again tomorrow for Rochester to see Kristin before her baby arrives.  It will be wonderful to see her and spend some pre-baby time with her, but it will also be great to get a few hours of solitude in the car to gather my thoughts about things, maybe have a good cry, and simply be alone.  I am happy to know the need for balance and to seek it, without too much drama.

Kim’s song Days Like This was on a popular television show last night and so has been rolling around in my head.  The lyrics have a bit that goes “days like this, yeah, you think about the ones that went before you.”  I do think about them.  Knowing the people I have lost in recent years, only makes loving the ones still with me that much more poignant.  I am really missing lost loved ones, especially most recently Esme and my dear friend Mia.  But I am grateful for the gifts they continue to give in spirit.