Creating a New Story

OpenStudioFlowersWatercolor_small

Above is my watercolor sketch of a beautiful bouquet of flowers given to me by friends to celebrate my Open Studio day on April 1, 2017.

Inspired by my year long online class Magic of Myth II, I have been contemplating the word “story”.  Stories help us to make sense of our world.  The ancient Greek myths, Buddhist Sutras, Bible, Koran, and Hindu texts such as the Upanishads, among other ancient stories, help to create explanations for the eternal question: Why am I here?  These stories give significance to our existence as well as codes of behavior to create orderly societies. They can also be used to separate ourselves from others by placing value on one text over another.  Some people believe that their chosen text is the “true” story, that all other narratives, and the beliefs those words symbolize are false.

Truth is often veiled in layers of illusion.

Even in our own individual lives, it may be difficult to see what is true and what is false.  We tell a story of our life, colored by our thoughts, experiences, perceptions, hurts, joys, and sorrows.  Each of us may tell a different account of the same event as has been shown time and again in news reports of accidents and disasters.  Our perceptions greatly affect the way in which we tell our life stories.

Therefore, maybe my story isn’t what was, or is, but rather, what I choose for it to be.  I can make a choice each time I talk or write about my life, my dreams, my desires.  I can choose to tell my story as I want it to be, creating my story and my life as I go, rather than relying on a past trajectory that may no longer be true.

Fifteen years ago my story was of divorce and infidelity.  One of hurt and broken promises.  Each time I told this story, it reinforced my feelings of betrayal and victimization.  At one point, I consciously stopped recounting this story, because it had kept me locked in a place of anger and pain.  I choose to focus on forgiveness, for those involved and for myself.  This lifted my burden and opened new opportunities in my life, not based on my old story, but a new one.

A few years ago, my story became consumed by the depression and drug abuse of my son – a sweet and sensitive soul, lost in a very dark landscape.  As I lived each day in fear and panic, talking about virtually nothing else with close friends, life became dark and bleak.  I did not see much meaning or purpose, but slowly moved through each day in a fog, hoping to find him help.  Desperately trying to fix someone else never works.  As the situation came to a head, I had to let go of all control and realize that this was not my story, but his story.

Today, a year and a half later, I am building a new story for myself.  This stage of my life is unreservedly all about me.  I fill my days with curiosity, wonder, and occasionally, magic.  I choose to create a story infused with exploration – of the world, and of myself.  How strong is my body?  What is it capable of doing?  Where will the exploration of my art take me?  How do I want to express myself in my art?  If, through meditation and yoga, I delve deeper into an understanding of my soul, of that part of me connected to everything else in the universe, what might I discover?

As part of my developing story, I chose a new name.  One that, to me, symbolizes wisdom, strength, and a little mystery.   Through this mystery, I am accepting that I don’t know how to accomplish everything I want to do right now, but that I will figure things out as I go along.  I am learning to embrace uncertainty and be open to the revelations that my explorations uncover.  I am working, in partnership with the Universe, to create the next chapter of my story – one based in awareness, intention, and compassion, and filled with joy, inquisitiveness, and lightness of heart.  Realistically, I acknowledge that I will have moments of frustration and confusion, but, with persistence these will pass.  So far, joy and hope are winning out over my old friends fear and pessimism!

My new story involves many adventures, new places, new people, a little comedy, not much drama, maybe a little romance.  Stay tuned……

 

PS – Forcing my son to take control of his own story turned out to be a good decision.  He made a courageous choice, worked very hard, and is now living a sober and happy life on his own.  I am beyond grateful for all the people who helped him, including my friends who not too gently nudged me to make the hardest decision of my life.

 

Self-Portrait

I painted a self-portrait that actually looks like me!  I have done many sketches, but none that quite captured my features.  For this exercise, I started with a photo that I blended with a Cezanne painting in an app called Dreamscope.

Self Portrait Dreamscope

Then I painted the acrylic self-portrait using the above image as a reference.

Self Portrait web

I didn’t quite capture my hint of a smile, but, at least the features are in the right place!  I really love how the scarf came out – it captures the knit quality.  I also like the background, and the way the colors are repeated in the face.

Since January, I have been playing more with abstracts.  I am taking an online class with Jane Davies called “100 Drawings on Cheap Paper”.  We are actually painting rather than drawing, and I am doing anywhere from 6-10 pieces a week, for 10 weeks.  So not quite 100, but I am pleased with the progress.  Here are three from this week:

These are each 9×12 inches.  The goal this week was to have small active/busy areas with a greater proportion of calm/quiet areas.  I love the colors and the contrast in each of these.  I am papering a wall in my studio with some of the paintings.  Most are studies rather than finished pieces.  That is why I enjoyed this week’s exercises – we were able to actually create completed works.

I am busy getting ready for a Passageways Studio Open House on April 1 (2-5pm), so I have been cleaning up and re-organizing the studio.  I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful space in which to spend time creating!  I will post pictures once it is presentable.

A New Name

Artemis-Diana | Greco-Roman marble statue C1st A.D. | Musée du Louvre, Paris

Marble Statue of Artemis, circa 1st century AD, in the Louvre

I have been contemplating the concept of identity lately.  My new name became legal this week.  I have changed my first name from Anne to Artemis.  What part of my identity is caught up in my name?  If I change my name, does my image of myself change?

I believe that we are spiritual beings having a human experience.  I meditate for a variety of reasons, but I particularly wish to transcend the small s “self” to experience the “Self” – that which is connected to all things, to the universe, to all energy/Spirit.  The human mind convinces us that we are separate, that we are alone.  We identify with our culture, our race, our position in society.  We express that identity in our clothing, homes, jobs, words, and actions.  We limit ourselves because of our identity.  We limit others because of our identity.  Sometimes, the small s “self” the “ego” justifies rejecting others because they are different from us.  This world view creates competition for resources, struggles for power, greed, racism, and xenophobia.  I believe that to glimpse the larger Self, to feel that connection with another human beings and animals, the plants, the earth, the universe, is to view a new way of being  in this world – one of connection, generosity, immortality of the spirit, and great love.

So, if I believe that the purpose in life is to transcend the self and the ego, and become aware of the Self and the connection to all in the universe, to the spirit, why change my name?  Before I submitted the name change papers to my county courthouse, I thought about why I wanted to change my name.  Was it ego driven?  Was it because it was different, and more fun that my name?

In 2007, I attended a training to be a Life Coach.  In our first guided meditation, we met our “future self”, our higher self.  She told me her name was Artemis.  In the years that followed, I would “visit”her to ask questions when I was having difficulties making decisions in my life.  This method works well to access our inner intuition, bypassing the mind which may over think a situation.  Artemis was a source of innate wisdom for me.  As I overcome challenges in my own life, I felt that I was becoming her, that I was growing into my “wise woman” stage of my life.  While I don’t consider myself truly wise, I do know that I have gained so much more understanding of myself and my life over the last few years.  Life lessons learned have helped me to grow as a spiritual being and as a human.  I felt it was time to take on her name.

Many other factors contributed to my decision.  Three people: my niece, a friend, and an artist I admire, all changed their names, and I saw how they have changed because of this.  I also believe that we are in a transition of the collective consciousness of humanity, one in which we are moving from a patriarchal dichotomy of opposites, to one of harmony – a rise of the feminine principles of cooperation, compassion, and intuition.  (Keep in mind that feminine and masculine qualities are found in both sexes.)  The rise of the feminine as sacred, as necessary to sustaining life on earth, is helping to change the creative collective consciousness of humans.

Why did my “future self” give her name as Artemis?  This I cannot completely answer.  Artemis, the Greek goddess is protectress of women and children, and of the environment.  She is affiliated with the moon and with deer and the forest.  These are all ring true for me.  Jean Shinoda Bolen has authored an interesting book “Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman”.  The Artemis archetype has an indomitable spirit: incapable of being tamed or subdued.  Bolen has other books on the goddess archetypes, which I have also read.  Earlier in my life, Persephone, Hera, and Demeter (daughter, wife, and mother) were more dominant.  I gave in to others wishes because I was afraid to upset people, afraid to create trouble.  Now, like many women around the world, I am fed up with the patriarchal status quo.  Woman in many places still have no rights over their work, their bodies, their words.  Women in the U.S. face a potential reversal of some of our rights.  The rise in the activism, for women’s rights and for the health of our planet, reflects a rise in the Artemis archetype.

I also feel a special connection to these words by Bolen “Artemis is a goddess of the moon, which is an affinity for mystical and meditative experiences, a sensing of subtle energies, a capacity for inner reflection.”    I believe so much change happens at this level.  Yes, activism and resistance on a large scale is important to changing our society, but it must come from our own individual inner change.  This change is brought about by going inward, becoming more aware of our thoughts, our words, our actions.  This leads to intentional action, rather than reaction.

I care about the well-being of all humans.  I care about the health of the water, the air, the plants and animals of our planet.  I care about creating a society in which cooperation replaces competition, compassion replaces greed, and love replaces hate.  I care about creating a world where the land and water and air are sacred and we are filled with joy simply to exist.

I am Artemis.

Magic

magic

My word for this year is MAGIC.  Not slight of hand, or fantastical magic, but the kind of magic found each day in simple activities and in contemplation.  I know when I am able to still the jumbled thoughts in my mind, and reach into that still point at my heart center, there I find magic.  This magic holds the potential to change my life, change the lives of those around me, change the world.

I, like many of my friends and colleagues, have been dealing with increased fear and anxiety over the last few months.  The greed and selfishness, anger and hostility, and lack of judgment and integrity that has risen into view makes us afraid for the future of ourselves, our families, our planet.  The patriarchal world view encompassing competition for resources, fear of others who are different than oneself, separateness and exclusion is becoming old and outdated.  Yet, many hold on desperately to this view, fearing what they do not understand.

I believe a new paradigm is rising – one based on unconditional love, celebrating diversity while at the same time establishing connection, sharing resources, and treating the earth as our home, not something to be used for profit.  As more people glimpse the universe beyond their own ego they touch the interconnection of all energy, all life.  Ego, in this context, refers to the illusion that we are separate – separate from each other, from other living creatures, from the earth, from the universe.  If we believe we are separate we are able to justify greed and hatred.  If we believe that we are connected, as one entity, how can we harm another, since what we are doing is really harming ourselves?

I have had other blogs in the past, mostly about my art.  My intention for this blog is to continue to post the journey of my creative life in my art, but also to speak from my heart about my life, and about being human in a time of changing consciousness.  Basically, I will talk about my art, philosophical and spiritual musings, and share some poetry.  I want to be one voice among many who are dreaming, hoping, striving, and working towards a better world.  One where everyone has food, clean water, warm clean homes, dignity, friendship, love and joy.  If you want to see my old blog, check it out here: annevoconnor.com.  I am in the process of changing my first name from Anne to Artemis.  That is the main reason for the new blog, but it also has helped me to re-think my intention for a new blog.

By the way, the cards and “magic” words above are by my friend Colleen Attara, an artist who uses her intuition to create lovely cards, prints, and “salvaged words”.  These positive messages flow out into the world promoting hope and courage.