Christmas Happens

I am a hot-HOT mess during the holiday season.  Every year this is so.  I do not adorn my house in lights.  I do not put up any trees or tinsel.  i do not even send out cards anymore. I am just not good at what has become “Christmas”.  Trying to find the energy to go to work every day, when every moment of your free time becomes – shopping, baking, wrapping, frosting, traveling, coordinating, buying, cleaning, planning, rushing, organizing, mailing, cooking, standing in obnoxious lines… I long to simplify this madness.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with the madness.  I am just simply not good at it, I can’t seem to find the energy for it, and I have not figured out how to not go into debt more and more every single year because of it.  I know it is not healthy when I start worrying about it in August, only to become paralyzed from about November 15th straight through until January 1st, just before the New England winter really starts to suck and I start to stress out about tax season. (-:

Regardless of my obvious aversion to this red-green-and-glitter covered-money-making-machine mania we call Christmas, I am blessed beyond words.  Much of my trouble keeping up during this season, is self-induced drama, stemming from procrastination, poor planning, laziness, and forgetfulness. Looking through my photos today, i realized i am easily distracted… by the most ridiculous things.  It is a wonder I get anything done.  I tend to fall in love with the most random moments… i want to draw them, i want to write a poem about them, I want to take photos of them.

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In between my hot flashes in the mall…are the fantastic surprises, delicious food, family gatherings, and sweet moments.  This is the only way i know how to even slightly express my gratitude to the universe…

e.j.l. xo

Supakitch & Koralie on littlecommas.wordpress.com

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Mine was fantastic, thanks!

Since I’m having trouble uploading pics this week, I will just share a post found on this great blog littlecommas@wordpress in case you missed it on Freshly Pressed.  (Besides, I wanted to try the Press This function.  What great fun!)  I love all the content on this site and I am now a follower… but this post I found to be particularly inspiring.  One more thing for me to be grateful for…getting to see this video.  This is a lovely dance if I’ve ever seen one. Thank you, thank you!!

Enjoy!

e.j.l. xo

Supakitch & Koralie.

p.s. Congrats littlecommas getting Freshly Pressed!

the music sounds sweeter these days…

The calm has set in.  I feel like I can breathe.  The past month or so has been a little jarring to my spirit, but it has not been without many of the sweetest moments.  Besides dealing with the Great Power Outage of 2011, which most of us in Connecticut are finally recovering from… I was sent in for a wee bit of surgery… again… just to make sure I am still paying attention I suppose.

Since October 2009, when my life was so rudely interrupted with the Breast Cancer diagnosis, there have been what seems to be an endless number of surgeries and medical challenges.   I had never had surgery before this time.  The thought of it made me shudder.  But I have been poked, sliced, stitched, injected and infused more in the past two years than I would like to admit.  Most of my treatments and surgeries had wrapped up earlier this year and I was moving on.

Life was getting better, but it was an adjustment.  I was feeling like one of Picasso’s lovely nudes…  my body felt so disjointed and awkward, but I knew I was of a new strength.  I knew I was somehow more beautiful, even with all my jagged scars, and without my long hair. It was a sad beauty… a beautiful sadness…  Yet I was a stronger, more powerful, more beautiful woman.  I became one of the women for whom all the pink fuss was about.

As things were returning to normal, I had no intention of dwelling on this pothole in the road.  Life was going good for us in 2011.  The economy still sucking… The weather still usually sucking… but I was all patched up, i had some peach fuzz on my head, i was alive, and life was going very good.

Then we get another shot of “Oh Jesus!” juice.  Early last month I found out I had a cyst on my ovary… which is typically not that alarming and very common apparently… but because of “my history” they immediately sent me back into the OR to get the whole ovary removed.   It is likely nothing… but if it is something… we will just remove your other ovary and your uterus… and if it is still something you will have some more chemo… and then you should be fine…  You are over 40 so you must have had your children already… (no, thanks for assuming though).

It was hard to keep the thoughts at bay… to not revisit my dark thoughts of pain and mortality…further departure from my femininity… but I managed to stay positive for the most part.

Today my new set of scars are starting to heal, I can sit up on my own again, and test results all came back good.  Now that storm Alfred, and my own personal little power outage, are over… I am back in the swing and all “lights” are back on!  Fist bumps all around.

I have made some interesting observations recently.  Each time I come out of this ever more familiar post-surgery storm… I seem to know myself a little better.  There seems to be a noticeable light shining upon my surroundings… a tangible sharpening of my senses.  The colors of the trees and the horizons are so much more vibrant.  The flavors of a home cooked meal are so much more delightful. The voice of a friend is so much more relished.  My dance music makes me feel so much more emotional.  Songs on the radio are so much more fun… I can’t stop car dancing!  I’ve seriously got moves like Jagger lately.

I am not taking these observations lightly.  It should not take being injected with toxic chemicals or winning a one-sided, unarmed fight with a scalpel-wielding professional to make me notice a sunset or make time for a friend.  I always notice sunsets, and i always love my friends,  but maybe this is why we must go through rough times.  Just to make sure we are still paying attention – really paying attention.

Are you there God?  It’s me, erica.  Please no more surgeries this year… I’m listening!!!  (-:

ejl x.o.

PabloPicasso-Girl-with-Mandolin-Fanny-Tellier-1910

Images: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon – Pablo Picasso, e.j.l.’s sketch book, Girl With a Mandolin – Pablo Picasso

Big lights will inspire you

Nothing energizes me and exhausts me, so acutely and simultaneously, as a busy weekend in New York City…especially a gorgeous sunny October weekend.  I can barely walk afterwards, i always gain about five pounds, but I can’t stop thinking about it’s beauty for days and weeks afterwards.  Beautiful streets, beautiful people…my senses max out as i try to take in every building, every face, every color, every word in lights.  I’d add, every smell… but there a few of those I could do without.  Many are delicious and lovely of course!  I feel like i am being yanked in fifty directions by sticky peanuts, greasy hotdogs, giant cookies, and tiny cupcakes.  Did I mention the pizza and ice-cream?  Ample Hills, Brooklyn, Shout-Out!!!

I often long to live in the city, to be able to experience it’s rich brilliance day in and day out, to be able to walk outside for miles and miles.  But visiting is pretty great too.  I tend to take a LOT of photos while i am there.  Someday I’ll get my “real” camera, and a clue how to use it, but for now I must express myself with my husband’s point and shoot.   This past weekend in NYC was especially breathtaking.  Thanks for coming with me, Amanda! Thanks again for having us Mel, Sean and Teru!

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absolutely inspired, sore as f*ck, and always hungry,

e.j.l. xOO

p.s. i think the only thing i forgot to take a picture of was the Ample Hills ice-cream shop in Brooklyn… i was very distracted.

p.s.s.  Brooklyn Flea… I did not forget about you!  I will save a separate blog post just for you!  (-:

Thank You, Isabella

I first came across the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum while roaming about Boston back in the early 90’s with some [of my favorite] friends.  I don’t remember how we ended up there, or who’s idea it was to go in… but from the moment I caught a glimpse of the magical botanical courtyard, I knew I must tell others about it… and I knew I must someday return here.  Specifically (and secretly), I hoped I would return with someone I love.  You know…maybe with a husband or something.

Fast forward 20 years to last weekend…just having met what they call middle age… and I was finally making it back for a visit.  I was bringing someone I love too, which was cool.  (-:  My husband doesn’t much think about art and such things, but he made the two hour trip to Boston with me for my recent birthday.  Once in the city, we found free rock-star parking only one block away (and not in a tow zone!).  After taking a quick photo or two (or three…) out front, we found ourselves walking past the giant iron gates, through the “whimsical meets Gothic” doors and into a dimly lit corridor.  We were greeted by a friendly guard, and the grand four story courtyard… and showered by the most delicate light.   It was just as breathtaking as the first time i saw it.  It was better than i even remembered it to be.  I knew I was having a moment…I was pretty sure that we were having a moment.

[Although my husband would say his moment came later when we were having beer and bacon burgers]

We made our way through shadowy corridors and up marble staircases (butt workout…bonus!), around each corner greeted by a different viewing room, all with walls of vibrant colors, vintage leathers and fabrics, and all with brilliantly framed views of the courtyard.  Each room was filled to the brim with art and treasures from all around the world.  There were brief, but foot-stomping-temper-tantrum-make-me-so-stinking-mad reminders of the mysteriously stolen Rembrandts and Degas drawings (amongst works by other masters that some loser walked off with).  Every nook and cranny, every tile in the wall, every window, every piece of furniture – it all had a story to tell.  This was Isabella’s collection.  Her collection that she decided she wanted to share with all of us.  How lucky i felt to be standing there, again, on my birthday, with Isabella, and my husband.

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For twenty years, whenever someone asks me to close my eyes and envision myself in one of the most beautiful places i have ever been, I am immediately transported to this place.   Photography is not permitted inside (bummer), but you can see some sneak peaks if you do a Google search, or go to the official website.   Even so, I hope I have inspired someone to travel there someday, or to stop in if just passing through.

Thank You, Isabella!

e.j.l. xo

photo of courtyard : source www.gardnermuseum.org

Angel

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” 

Michelangelo

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I had this piece of wood.  I knew i wanted to paint a picture on it. it took me about two years to figure out just what i wanted to paint on it…

It was the best part of the morning, when the sun starts beaming warmth into my studio.  It was a Saturday, my favorite day.  I grabbed the piece of wood, sanded it for a while, and made a decision.  There i was, with all my best shades of purple, red, orange, and blue, ready to paint some random abstract sketch i found in one of my art journals…

And then i saw her out of the corner of my eye, right in the swirls of wood.  she was twirling around and around, her hair flowing, wearing the prettiest skirt.  i honestly couldn’t believe what i was seeing.  i looked away for a minute, but when i looked again she was still there.  i left the room to get some water, came back, and there she still was, kind of sad, twirling and twirling.  at that moment, i knew the abstract “whatever” could wait.  I quickly traced her silhouette with my graphite, before she could vanish.  then i just started painting.   When she emerged, I was her.  She was me… the dancer inside me.  She was so lovely and happy to be dancing, and a much better dancer than i ever was.  But there was some sadness in her eyes.   i named her Daisy.

i have danced on and off my whole life.  Ballet, tap, jazz, modern… In my late twenties i thought i was done for good.  I stopped altogether, and it went on that way for a few years, but i always felt the void.  In my 30’s i discovered belly dance, and thought i would be doing it until i was 80.  For many reasons in 2009, i stopped belly dancing and life went on with all its usual ups and downs…  just no dancing.  I was surely never going to dance again.  i was tired, my bones were creaky, i couldn’t even do a grand plie without groaning.

It seems Daisy came into my life just in time.  She reminded me how good it feels to dance…and that i was not yet finished dancing.  I realized that i don’t need to go to classes, or perform with a troupe, in order to continue to be a dancer.  i could dance right there at home, in my little orange studio, and i could do it my way.  Each plie, at my own pace.  Every hip shimmy, as gentle or as intense as i chose.   I could do ballet, belly dance, even yoga and aerobics, whatever the music made me feel like doing.  it would heal my body.  it would heal my spirit.  and i might even wear a bikini again!

Well, I didn’t wear any bikinis this summer, almost two years later, but to this day I dance and do yoga with Daisy.  My body is finally starting to feel stronger and the movement finally feels good again.  I intend to be dancing with her until i am 80, or more.   Daisy has been hanging on the wall there now since the first day i found her, another unfinished painting, another project procrastinated.  Someday I will take her down off the wall, and give her the attention she needs and deserves.  But it doesn’t really matter when, or if, i finish her.  What matters is that she was there, just when i needed her.  And now she is free.  Still a little sad sometimes, but free.

e.j.l. xo

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p.s. before the comment is posted… i am of course aware that my Daisy is not even in the same universe as Michelangelo’s angels.  I just liked the quote. (-:

Have you ever seen an “angel in the marble”?  Did it effect your life in some way?

This way to the castle…

Here we are, in last days of the Connecticut summer… trying to soak up the last warm rays of sun before the dreaded frost arrives.  I first thought i would stay home today to do laundry, bills, etc…  But I could not let this day be spent on chores.  I mean, did you see it outside today?

If you live around here, you know these types of perfect, sunny, not too humid, not to cold days are pretty rare.  I just had to grab my camera and my husband, and go out for some exercise and vitamin D.  Maybe we can go find that castle…

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The day’s not over yet.  Please get out there today!

e.j.l. xo

Secret Stone Garden – A Connecticut Treasure

i have always known i was an artsy city girl, yet I grew up in the suburbs, and I’ve somehow ended up in the suburbs.  While I wait for my exciting new life in Charlotte or Denver, I do not want to miss, or dismiss, the beauty, fun and excitement occurring right in my own back yard.

Just before the school year starts, we are home to the Wolcott Country Fair – just a quick walk and we can feed the cutest little goats and enjoy all the sticky fried greasy doughy treats we could ask for.  There is a freeky flock of grackles that lands in our yard once a year for about 5 or 10 minutes, and then swoosh.. they’re off.  In the lower yard there is a vernal pool (aka very special swampy wetland) that has been destination spot to hundreds of (probably very horny) orange spotted salamanders that come there on the first warm rainy night of the spring to perpetuate their species.  Once on a snowy morning before sunrise, I caught a mamma dear and her baby nibbling on the pine trees outside my studio.  The families of northern cardinals and woodpeckers that visit our garden can entertain me (and Stewie and Olive) for hours. I’ve seen rainbows from my porch, pink and purple sunsets through the trees. We share our home with bunnies, owls, butterflies, tiny frogs.  What could be more magical?

One day my husband brought me out on his atv for a bumpy, muddy ride into the woods behind our house.  We rode for about 15 minutes then we stopped, ignition off.  Shhh, so quiet, just the us, the woods,sunbeams… and stones.  Piles and stacks of stones.  Not in random, messy piles, but in lovely mystical gravity defying piles. Who put these here?  How old are they?  What do they mean?  Well, we’re still not entirely sure, and we may never know.  But for now, lets just look at them together, and enjoy this beautiful secret treasure in our own back yard.

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e.j.l. xo