it’s a jungle in here
Or it was, anyway.
The photo is of my Eastern European heirloom lettuce seedlings (‘Cracoviensis’), which grew much faster than I’d intended and now are clearly intent on taking over their flat. I plan to move them to a small, dish-garden style, terracotta planter tonight, as it’s still a bit chilly outside for their liking. But they must have room — and soon.
(Okay, garden folks. You may stop reading here if you wish. The rest of the post will not deal with plants in any way. Shocking, I know.)
I, too, realized recently that I needed more room to breathe.
When F. and I moved in here, we had too much stuff. Merging the households of two people in their mid-30s was a lot different than merging the households of 20-somethings, and I don’t think we’d realized just how complicated it would be. The overload of stuff was particularly difficult for me as I work from home and so spend many, many hours surrounded and sometimes demoralized by it all.
Plus, as you all know, I prefer a more Zen setting. And I don’t like dusting little nicknacks. No, thank you.
Week five of my year of focus saw me completely rearranging the office and living room, getting rid of so much stuff I did not need, and clearing enough extra space for a new bookshelf (how I needed it! I am a book magnet) and a little reading nook with a comfortable chair and ottoman beneath a window that faces the forest and through which the calls of our owl are particularly well heard after dark.
My office is now mine alone, and F.’s desk was moved to the living room, where he prefers to study anyway. Besides opening up a lot of space in both rooms, I am no longer confronted with clutter every time I turn my head while sitting at my desk.
Also included in this reorganization was a downsizing of my projects and supplies. I gave away most of my art supplies, because the reality is that I rarely make time for collage or painting. Perhaps twice a year, I get everything out, make a royal mess, and spend a few weeks perfecting the tiny details of a collage that may end up with 20 to 30 layers on it, all sealed and sanded between to give such richness and depth to a scene that would fit in the palm of your hand (examples here and here).
But I had to ask myself a few questions: Is this something that holds my passion enough to clutter and complicate my life for the other 10 months a year that the materials just sit on the shelf? What is the payoff for me when I complete these mini works of art? And is there any other, less cumbersome artistic activity that could provide a similar return?
Answers: No, the joy of time spent so completely absorbed in creating that time itself seems suspended, and yes, drawing.
I preserved all of the artistic tools for sketching and drawing, which I do love (see example here) and which still give me as much joy as any other artistic medium I’ve ever explored.
I also kept all of my yarn stash and needles for knit and crochet projects as there was no replacement for those activities, and I do enjoy creating something with these materials multiple times per year. Sometimes making knots with my crochet hook helps me to unravel the knots in my life and psyche.
It was a little bit sad to give away some of the paints and pastels, papers and canvas*, but I knew I was doing the right thing. Afterward I felt lighter, freer, and with much more energy to put toward writing, photography, gardening, and exercise, which are my four main areas of focus right now.
Just to bring everybody up to speed, here’s a quick recap of the Focus 2010 project.
Rather than making New Year’s resolutions, which I have avoided like the plague for quite a while, I decided to choose a word of the year. (You can read about why in a post called “the anti-resolution resolution” on my other blog.) My word for 2010 is, appropriately enough, focus, a word that seemed determined to choose me, rather than the other way around.
Then Elizabeth over at retinal perspectives suggested that those of us choosing a word of the year should take a weekly photograph representing our word or some aspect of our journey with it. I have been enjoying documenting my word thus far. It adds a bit of an artistic flair to the saga.
*If you are a collage artist in need of some wonderful free ephemera and would not mind paying shipping, please shoot me an e-mail at gardenforvictory <at> live.com. I hate the thought of these lovely materials ending up in the trash can, and so am holding on to them while I ask around to see if anybody can use them. You will appreciate that this is not the sort of thing you can give to Goodwill or The Salvation Army.