Wood Between the Worlds

If you’ve ever read C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew, you would be familiar with the part of the book near the beginning where Polly and Digory make it to the wood between the worlds. In this peaceful inter-dimensional forest there are countless pools of water. Each pool leads to a unique world full of different kinds of creatures, lands, and magic. The odd thing about the wood between the worlds is that when you are there, a feeling of sleepiness comes upon you, bringing with it the potential to become stuck there forever. I feel that I’m currently in such a place.

I seem to be caught in a lull of inbetweeness. I’m not afraid to jump into any given pool, instead I have the overwhelming feeling of not knowing which to jump into first and that I may never be able to delve into all of them. Staying here in this wood wouldn’t be so bad. It’s warm, quiet, uneventful, easy. But the spark of potential within each pool catches my eye as soon as I start to doze. What is it about potential and hope with us humans? It’s irresistible.

The pools in this place of mine seem to represent opportunities for my personal growth. They are vast and varied. Each I feel contains a piece of treasure inside that I need to construct one massive treasure greater than any part alone or that may make up a glorious armored suit of sorts.

There is no path in this wood. Only pools and trees. No markers. No signs. No instructions. Although, I do have a general sense of what each pool contains. When I peer in, a dim reflection of the world below comes through.

Childhood Nostalgia

nos·tal·gia | a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

late 18th century (in the sense ‘acute homesickness’): modern Latin (translating German Heimweh ‘homesickness’), from Greek nostos ‘return home’ + algos ‘pain’

That feeling when I remember something that I cherished as a kid. My stomach sinks down in a sad yet sweet longing kind of way, my eyes turn warm and fill. The origin of this word above captures this feeling so well!

To me it’s a gratitude for those things I found to help me through hard times when I was young. When I couldn’t make sense of what was going wrong in my little life and I found that book or show or painting or song or food that dulled the ache and helped me to feel like everything was okay again. Here are a few of the things that feel like home to me:

Maurice Sendak. CS Lewis. Singing a lullaby. Peter and the Wolf. Riding my bike around town. Shel Silverstein. Happy Meals. High school football games. Franz Schubert. The smell of a church sanctuary. Princess Bride. Listening to someone read a book. The Nutcracker. Baking cookies. Little Bear. Bing Crosby. Watching a ballet. Riverdance.

To be reminded of what I loved, what brought me joy and comfort, and the things I held close seems to reassure me of who I am and who I want to be. Thinking about “who I am” is very bizarre for me. Exploring consciousness and self-awareness freaks me out. I have a hard time understanding it and thinking about how I can “know” myself. What makes me, me? My experiences? My genetics? My likes and dislikes? All of the above? I tend to get sucked down these black holes of existential thinking and it’s exhausting, but I digress.

I’ve come to realize that I’ve had this notion that I’ll become more of who I am every year as I get older, like I’m working toward an apex of “me-ness.” But, when I stop and think, it seems like the older I get I actually (personally) feel I have been moving further away from who I am. My gut tells me I was the most “me” when I was a child. Maybe because of the circumstances surrounding that time in my life and maybe because I was still mostly naive to the world. On further contemplating, when I started to make decisions based on what other people would think of me, that is when I started to chip away at “who I am,” and it has led me to places I never wanted to go. I began to shave off all the weird looking edges and “blemishes” (figuratively and literally–but that’s a story for another time) to make myself more acceptable to other people or to make myself the “me” others thought I was or should be. A lot of settling, compromising, and submitting my will to others. I guess that’s where the bitter part of nostalgia comes in for me.

For whatever reason, this journey of pursuing art again has turned me in my tracks back to the little girl that I was. It’s been strange but lovely.

I keep picturing myself walking toward her on the street of my childhood home. Her image is fuzzy and the light around her is warm, familiar, and inviting like a summer afternoon with it’s dry heat radiating up off the asphalt. The hot breeze makes her sun-kissed hair tickle her cheeks and she smiles a shy sweet grin. She’s glad to see me. She has a lot to show me. I missed her and she can tell. She’s felt left out but, when we look at each other, it feels like home.

Cross Hatching

Now that I have been experimenting and trying new art techniques, I remember that a lot of my most favorite drawings were ones that had been done in pen. I really enjoyed doing one-line drawings of people (where you don’t pick the pen up off the page until you’re done). There was a tiny portrait I had done of my husband on a napkin with a ballpoint pen one time when I was watching him cook in the kitchen. It seemed to capture his image so well. I was pleased and I loved that feeling. A lot of my favorite drawings are ones that took me by surprise because I wasn’t thinking too hard about it. I recognize this so much because I tend to overthink most things–including art.

I recently began a Patreon subscription with Bryan Schiavone (IG: @bryanthegirl) She is really inspirational to me not only because of how much I love her work, but because I feel I can relate to her in a way. I just like her a lot! So she has provided some lessons on cross hatching through her Patreon page and I am LOVING it. I just completed the first lesson on cross hatching with ceramics. Next is hands! EEK. Hands can be a bit intimidating but they are great practice.

I feel so happy being back in the pursuit of creating art, although it still tastes bittersweet because I find myself wishing I would have stuck with it or returned back to it sooner. I’m working on not dwelling on that and focusing on doing something every day no matter how small.

I hope you, whoever you are, are in pursuit of something that brings you joy. Whatever it may be. If you aren’t, I think it would be something worth considering. If it feels too overwhelming, starting small has really helped me along with not judging myself or caring about other people’s opinions. It’s hard.  But I’m finding that when I’m feeling scared or intimated or even slightly hopeless, if I just take that first step out (the hardest step), that creates enough momentum for me to continue.

Inktober 2018

I’m participating in Inktober 2018 and I’m stoked! I have always watched from the sidelines and admired the spooky and cute illustrations people have posted on IG. This year I’m DOIN’ IT!

It’s a big step to be posting my art on my personal account. When I decided to go all in with this, I stopped posting to my art account that I started from nothing. I was too embarrassed to post to my personal account because of what the people I know, love and admire might think.

Things change when you stop factoring other people’s opinion into the actions that you take. Part of this is trusting myself which I have never felt confident doing.  I’m fully believing that if I pursue what I love and know I have the capability of excelling at it, everything will come together. I just have to keep the focus.

When you step out and do things that make you uncomfortable, amazing things WILL happen.