Home is Where the Art Is

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
-Thomas Merton

Tonight my new house feels like home. My Dad, an engineer that happens to be very talented at placing art and furniture, came over last night to hang my pictures and rearrange furniture in exchange for Sunday dinner (remember – I love to cook for people who help me. My short to-do list includes minor toilet repair, storm door installation, or digging up/moving a crepe myrtle. If you have any of these skills, contact me! Good wine, good food, and good company in exchange for your labor!).

Tonight as I sit in my sun room, I feel connected to my space in a new, very good way. From my comfy couch, I can see a lot of my art in my purview. Having these pieces in place in my new home grounds me in a way that I didn’t realize until tonight. Just like my taste in music, movies and books – my taste in art is eclectic. I like variety – oil, watercolor, glass, acrylic, mixed media, pottery, photography, jewelry…you name it. The only thing in common in all of my art is that I have emotionally connected with each piece in some way, and that ties them together – and to me of course.

Prior to buying my house last month, I had been in a state of transition – moving three times in three years. Somewhere along that part of my journey, I made a conscious decision to acquire “real” art, and to purge my prints or pictures purchased at places like Home Goods or Bed Bath and Beyond.  Maybe I started in an attempt to connect to the space I was living in – to make that space feel like home, even though it was temporary. Maybe I did so in an attempt to feel grown up and independent. Maybe I did so in an attempt to express myself artistically as I starting living on my own for the first time. Maybe it was retail therapy – just to have a little fun splurging on somethng special. Likely a combination of all of these things were at play!

Here are some of the highlights in my “collection.”

This painting of my dog Derby is in the place of honor over my fireplace.

Derby as painted by Greg Hart

I consider it to be one of my first pieces of “real” art – painted by my friend and artist Greg Hart. Greg is a super talented portrait artist (see his website: http://greg-hart.com/home.html), and has been featured in a shows at the City Gallery in downtown Charleston, and online at “Buy Some Damn Art.” Greg found my dog Derby two years ago when Derby was a stray – emaciated, sick, and abandoned on the side of the road. This portrait of Derby is doubly special since it is painted by his rescuer. Very cool.

My next “real” painting is by another friend – Karen Myers (http://karenannmyers.com/). Karen was a coaching client of mine last year while she was the Executive Director at Redux Contemporary Art Center. Karen is known for her patterns and exact detail in her painting – and while she normally paints women in bedroom scenes, she painted this lovely piece of a penguin for a Antarctica-themed exhibit at her former studio, Scoop.

Penguin painted by Karen Ann Myers

I don’t know why – but penguins are one of my absolute favorite things in the world. I think it’s a combination of how silly they look, how unique they are as birds who can’t fly, how they mate for life, how the dad takes care of the egg while the mom goes for food – clearly there are many things to adore about penguins. My girlfriends who know me well surprised me with this painting as a gift for my 40th birthday last year. I treasure this painting as a reminder of Karen, and of my incredibly fun and crazy birthday celebration with my friends at the Grove Park Inn last year.

These next two pieces I bought together at the foot of the Duomo in Florence, Italy, last fall. Reeling from my claustrophia fit after climbing the bell tower, I tried to relax by walking in the courtyard, browsing through the street artists’ watercolors.

Street Artist in Florence, Italy

These watercolors of the Tuscan landscape will forever remind me of the most beautiful place on Earth that I have ever seen.

These are my poppy paintings. I bought them from a gallery around the corner. I don’t know the artist, and I didn’t buy them on a trip anywhere special. They make me smile. Sometimes it is just that simple.

Poppies

I like to say that I am a jewerly artist – that is a medium where I may have some talent. That said, I am not an art expert by any means. I never took Art History in college – and I can’t paint, draw, or sculpt. Though I know very little about art, I now know what I like, and I have enjoyed starting my “collection.”

I like collecting…memories, art, people… Each of my pieces are part of who I am, and as I sit and relax in my new space, I feel joy and contentment. I have a lot of walls to fill up – and I can’t wait to find more artists and art to collect – to have more adventures and to make lasting memories along the way.

Advertisements

Help!

Help! I can’t seem to get out of my death spiral. If you have been reading a while, you may remember that what I call the death spiral is when I lose it. Like what happened on the 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th phone calls of the day to AT&T yesterday about my cable/internet outage. It was like I was living in the movie Ground Hog Day – caught in an endless cycle of insanity as the same thing kept happening over and over again. My service had been down for days.  It all started during the massive lightning storm last Saturday night.  It was the most wicked lightning storm in my recent memory. Click this hyperlink to see an amazing photo my friends Clay and Susan took of the lightning over Shem Creek.

My sister Jacquie, and my niece and nephew were visiting last weekend. When the storm hit, we quickly moved away from the windows, grabbed the wine, iPads and iPhones and gathered in my bedroom to wait out the storm. You can imagine our alarm when we heard fire trucks arrive, and saw the fireman hooking up their hose to the hydrant in my front yard. Pretty exciting for Day 5 in the new house!

After the storm, we met the firemen (see below), and learned that lightning had struck my neighbor’s house, and they put out a small fire.

Me and the Firemen

Thankfully no one was hurt, and amazingly we still had power, but, alas, no cable or internet.  So we spent the rest of the weekend playing board games and watching movies – no big deal. AT&T restored my service Monday, but everything went out again the next day for some reason. Now things were getting frustrating.

The “inside” technician (Len) who arrived the next day explained that the outage was happening somewhere “outside”, which meant an “outside” technician had to be scheduled.  So the next day, AT&T called to confirm my appointment for an “inside” technician – and had my old address. What?? So after calling several times to be CERTAIN they had the right information…guess what happened. Not only did they still send me an inside tech by mistake – it was Len again! So despite every effort I made to avoid it – the exact same thing happened.

So today, I know I am in the death spiral – at least I can say I am a little self aware. I love my new house, but Week 1 has been full of challenges. The HVAC is only cooling to 79 degrees, and after a battle with my home warranty company – that should be fixed in “3-5 business days”…and a fire across the street…seriously? I know my cable/wireless outage is not the end of the world. Through in a service call on the fridge, and you would start to question your decision too!

I know it could be so much worse. I am TRYING to regain perspective. But I am struggling to stop the spiral. I just COULDN’T resist calling AT&T one more time this morning thinking that I may be able to make a difference – and not surprisingly – I ended up more upset in the process.

Haven’t you been there too? When you think that you can change something – but you can’t, and you just end up banging your head against the wall?

I know I am in a classic example of Stephen Covey’s paradigm of the Circle of Concern/Influence, and I can’t seem to stop the insanity. Also I am forgetting Covey’s 90/10 Principle – and I seem to have completely forgotten that while I can’t control what AT&T is doing (or not doing) – I can control my reaction. With the pressure of so many things (or triggers), I have been blind to the choices in front of me – and I am back to being a pinball in something like the Plinko machine I had as a kid. And it’s not that simple to “chillax” as my nephew would say.

Here is my attempt to re-create the paradigm:

Laurie’s Circle of Concern/Influence

Can’t you feel the negative energy pushing the circle of influence smaller?

What I always loved about Covey was his ability to make his concepts visual. Creating this is a great reminder that I am colossally wasting my energy, and the more I keep at it – the worse it is getting.  

As usual, writing is helping me to clear out the cobwebs in my head. That and Donald, the “outside technician” knocked on my door as I was writing. I almost hugged him upon his arrival. He promised to get things fixed in an hour – and guess what, I am now back online! He was just a little sweaty – so it wasn’t too hard to resist hugging him goodbye.

Tonight I am finally going to chillax and watch the Olympics.