Art is my child. It’s a girl!

You don’t have any children… you couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like.  You have no idea what tired is.  You have no idea what stress is.  You have no idea what responsibility is.  You have no idea what pain is.  You just have no idea…

These statements, have been shot my way now and again… and while in my 20’s and 30’s, it didn’t sting too bad.  I still had time.  It’s what I wanted most in life but I still had plenty of time. But now as I approach my mid 40’s, health issues have claimed my fertility, and there is little to no chance of adoption.  And that hurts. Bad.  I often have thoughts that I deserve it for breaking off my engagement at age 24, to a guy who couldn’t wait to knock me up, several times over.  He was a really amazing guy who wanted lots of kids.  And I wasn’t sure if I was “in love” with him.  So I left to see if I could find my true love.   Being the “awkward” girl who couldn’t just bat my eyes to get any guy she wanted, it took me a while to find another one who could compare.  And when i finally realized I had found him… i wasn’t letting go.  Eight years younger, he wasn’t exactly ready for fatherhood, and I never wanted him to feel pressured… by a certain someone’s biological clock.  I knew in the back of my head, every day I stayed with him my window was getting smaller.  I knew I might be choosing him over possible motherhood.  And before I knew it, the window was closed.  Not locked, but seriously closed.  And I chose this, with zero regret.  I would not trade my beautiful husband.  But, it still hurts.  Especially knowing the man you love might never have the chance to be a father.

As a childless woman, do I know what tired is? Yes.  For reasons other than parenthood, I absolutely know what tired is.  But lucky for me, it might not last eighteen+ years.  Do I know what stress is?  Yup.  Been there, done that.  Again for no reasons related to hearing the word “mommy” 3000 times per day, or keeping a teenager out of trouble.  Responsibility?  Sure.  I am responsible by choice… it just didn’t take parenthood in my case.  Pain?  Yup.  I’ve lived in the world of “excruciating”, or more than I thought I could possibly bear.  I obviously haven’t done the whole childbirth thing, so I’ll give anyone that whole-heartedly!  That business, preceded by the 9 months of pregnancy business, and proceeded by 2+ years of painful breastfeeding? I can’t say I ever really longed for those experiences specifically.  But the chance to be someone’s mother?  I knew I would absolutely, and gratefully suck it up for that opportunity. And when cancer takes your breasts, you become acutely aware you will never know the joy, or pain, of feeding your child.

Sad Girl in the Rain with Daisies

Sad Girl in the Rain with Daisies

My whole life has been void of any confidence, except when it came to the thought of being a mom.  Would i be clueless about things like diaper rash and breast feeding?  Of course.  I wasn’t going for any mother-of-year awards.  But I always felt confident that I could be a good mom.  I just knew I wanted to be there for someone, like my mom was there for me.  I wanted to give someone life, or a home, and show them how to be kind and make art. I wanted to tell someone they could be anything they wanted to be, and they could do anything they set their mind to.  I wanted to know the agony and elation of watching them grow up, and setting them free to start their own family.  I know I was hoping for a lot, but nearly everyone I knew was or was about to be a parent, so I naturally thought it would just happen in my life too when it was time.

I am sure it’s very difficult being a mother.  And I certainly can’t imagine how challenging it is to be especially to be a single, and/or working mother.  But what I’m trying to say is that it is also really difficult not being one, and being surrounded every day by people who are, who constantly remind you of what you are not, and what you now know you likely will never be.  You know that inside, you are a mother too, but you have no child. There is nothing.  No one.

Of course none of this is intentional, but people who have kids, mostly talk about their kids.  And understandably…I would too!  Kids are awesome!  And I LOVE all the kids I have been blessed to know.  When you are in these shoes, you’re genuinely happy for all of the parents and their beautiful parenthood stories, and you genuinely feel for them when they are faced with the challenges of parenthood…(i really can’t imagine what some parents have gone through!),  but simultaneously you feel a stabbing pain every time kids comes up in conversation, and everywhere you go surrounded by parents, children and families.  You feel a thousand times more pain when you see a child that is mistreated, neglected, or considered a nuisance by their own parents… and you would have do anything to have been a good mom to that same or any child.  The pain never goes away.  Or at least it hasn’t yet for me.  And I expect it only gets harder as you age… to get old and never know the joy of meeting your first grandchild either.  What are you supposed to do with all this love you were dying to give?

Lately though, I have decided to pull my shit together and move on.  I will still, no doubt, have my moments sobbing in my cubicle or the supermarket… it really SUCKS not being able to have a child.  But it’s time to change my focus entirely and let go of that dream.  I don’t have to spend money on diapers, school supplies and college tuitions.  So I can spend it on books and art supplies… and that’s a lot of art supplies!!  Art is definitely my other passion in life, and it somehow got lost along the way.  I think I had the twisted belief that once I became a mom, then I would go back to my art.  Silly.  So now I intend to pursue it like the dickens!  And so far it’s working.  I’m doing it.   And I feel better!  I haven’t sold more than a handful of things…  I may never be able to leave my day job to spend my days working on it, but I do it whenever I can.  My chest feels less constricted.  I’m learning more than ever.  And I’m putting myself out there for the first time, knowing that it’s OK that I didn’t go to art school, and that I can still be an artist. It’s ART for heaven’s sake!  I don’t agree with some of the formal definitions of art… I believe it’s whatever comes out, in whatever medium, with any level of skill, applied with varying amounts of emotion, thought, instinct and effort.

That is the beauty in my story.  Maybe if I became a mother, I would have forgotten about art entirely.  And that would have been superb… because hey, there would be an amazing little person in my life whom I would be happy to sacrifice everything for.  But I must believe there is still much good that can come of my life, and I am learning to find “meaningful” fulfillment in other ways.

Art is my child.  I’ll create it.  I’ll nurture it.  By art, I mean painting, drawing, sculpting, dancing, writing… Sometimes I will keep it tucked under my wing.  But then I’ll send it out into the world and hope that it lives on and will make others smile.

And if somehow that window opens again to let a child in, I hope I can be half the mom that my own mother is, and I know that we will do lots of art, together. Lord knows I have the supplies!

I hope that this writing will not offend any of the beautiful moms out there who have given everything selflessly for their children.  I do hope it will touch someone else in shoes similar to mine, and help give them the strength to move past the pain and toward a truly fulfilling future.  Love can be given in many ways.

me and my mum.

me and my mum.

… i wrote this post in October 2013, when i was having an especially hard time with this whole subject, but was feeling afraid to put myself out there in this way.  My husband sent me this article today, that had me thinking about it again. The article made me feel less alone.  I thought maybe i should just put this post out there, in case it, or Melanie Young’s article, can make just one more woman feel less alone.

xo skyblue

Brave Girl with Pink Handbag – Where are you?

I’d love to know where she ended up.  If she ended up anywhere.   I’m sure I’ll find out Monday.  Maybe no one would want her.  But I believed that at least one person would.  I had to believe it, or I would never succeed.  She was such a joy to create.  I was literally in another world when i made her.  Especially her hair.  I started drawing her two weeks ago today.  It was Sunday.  A sunny, cozy, Sunday.  Her top and bottom half were drawn on two pieces of scrap paper, and attached at the hips.

Just to clarify… when I say draw, I mean draw, erase, draw, erase, erase, erase it all, draw erase some more, erase the whole thing, start over, almost finish, erase the entire face 14 more times, look at the clock, realize its 3:30am, draw it once more, and…. done.  Well… as done as a person who makes art can feel.  Basically, I knew I had a deadline and the pressure was on.  In fact, she started as an entirely different painting, an entirely different girl, which I worked on all day Saturday, only to toss aside.  That canvas now stands with the other misfits and orphans that lean against the studio wall, wondering if they will ever be loved again.  They will.

But for now, I am focused on Brave Girl.  She was still just a flimsy drawing, detailed with colored pencils, carefully cut out, sprayed with fixative and set to the side, while I began to create her ground… her world.  Paint, glue, tissue, little scraps in my studio… Three canvases later, one milky blue, one awful pea green, and finally it started to emerge.  The whole time I was trying to stay away from a Pink background for a few different reasons, but I eventually I gave in.  Red, White, a little Titanium Buff, and off I went into her world.  Layer after layer, more red, some orange, lots of yellow… a little purple.  Cutting, gluing, drawing, gluing, painting… until the world was ready for her.  She settled in perfectly, with some minor gluing drama…OK… it was a disaster.  I am a mess with the glue.  How do I get it in my hair?!! Luckily I was able to overcome the glue monster… I took a deep breath, followed the gluing protocol, and laid her in place.  I knew she was home.  Still bald, but home.  I loved her. I didn’t “love my drawing”.  My drawing skills are mediocre at best.  A little shadowing and perspective I learned from Miss Mailette, but still drawing with the skill level of a first grader.  No, I didn’t love the drawing. I just loved her. And it didn’t matter to me if anyone else did.  It didn’t matter if she wasn’t perfect.  She was loved.

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During the week, I worked on her here and there.  The circles of text and music were originally cut out to be hair.  Crazy, quirky, pretty, bubble hair.  I thought about leaving her bald… she was pretty that way.  I do sometimes leave my girls bald, but she was going to have hair.  I arranged the shapes in dozens of ways.  The bubble hair wasn’t working for her though… I was trying too hard.  And I hadn’t even thought about the flowers yet.  There’s always flowers.  I was running out of time.  So I moved the bubbles of paper down to the bottom and i just said, heck, I’ll just make these into flowers.

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The flowers emerged, different sizes and colors…nothing too crazy.  I tend to get overly involved in detail, and I don’t really have time for that now.  But in no way did that mean the flowers didn’t have to be right.  I just had to work differently than I usually do.  I had to just go with it.  I groomed her flower garden for a few hours during the week.  And then Saturday… my favorite day of the week since I was four (in my day you could only watch cartoons on Saturday).. this day I would now go back to her hair.  No thinking, just grab your sh*t, fill the water and today we are going outside. 

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There’s nothing like working in a colorful, sunny studio surrounded by art supplies, furry friends and books.  But working outside with the sunshine tops that by far.  The morning light shows you colors you never saw before.  I set up my easel and all my supplies, and got straight to work.  The voice of my nerves tried to creep out of my brush.  Your running out of time.  Tick Tock.  You only have two days.  What if you ruin it?  You don’t know what you’re doing. What if you can’t finish it. You should start over.  This is cr*p. 

“Shut up”, I told the voice.  So I just sat there and got to work.  I played with the flowers, mushed colors around in the background.  I was still procrastinating a bit, not sure what her hair was to look like… the hair is important.  I started to sketch around her face in yellow chalk.  A little curly, a little stringy, down pasted her waist.

I sat, I listened, I looked, tilted my head.  Nope, that’s not it.  Listened some more.  And then the wind came out of nowhere.  It was probably there all morning, and I just hadn’t noticed it, but when the wind blows in my yard the trees make some serious noise. I am certain it would register on my husbands trusty decibel meter.  I stared at the painting, I looked up at the trees for a while, closed my eyes, then I saw her hair blow. This would be her hair. The hair that evolved over the course of the day was trying to capture that moment.  That obnoxiously (but beautifully) loud gust of wind that almost knocked her over but she stood firm with her handbag.  Everything she needed was in that handbag.  Her strength, hope, family, friends, love, creativity, courage, cats…a little money for food, coffee and health insurance…  they were all right in there.  The wind was powerful.  She was definitely more so.

My parents came over and hung out while I worked, and then I finally packed it in for dinner.  One more day.  She was getting there.

The next day I woke up and I was pumped.  I couldn’t wait to spend the day with her.  First things first, coffee and couch time.  Then I put the music on, I got my yoga on, and we did our thing.  Brave girl and me.  Girl time!  We hung out all day and well into the night, until there was nothing left to talk about.  Later girlfriend. She was complete.

I don’t usually write play by plays detailing my paintings in progress.  This is possibly the first.  Photos are easier to share since you can always say “I know it sucks, it’s not done yet”.  It’s definitely strange putting this side of my art out there though. I guess some people will think I am utterly weird creating the way I do, but this is pretty much how it goes every time.  Except for the “finishing” part.  Signed, sealed, varnished, ready to hang.  Very. Rarely. Happens.

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There are two jewels that were added at the end, which had their own separate gluing challenges.  Apparently gravity is still stronger than mostly dry glue (meaning, you must lay the painting flat until glue COMPLETELY dries, or her ruby necklace might end up as a belly button jewel).  But it all worked out in the end, and I was ready to let her go.  Let’s do this. 

I boxed her up and sent her out into the world.

xo skyblue

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Brave Girl was created for a fundraiser which would raise money for breast health initiatives including the Beekley Center for Breast Health and Wellness, and a free mammogram program, in Bristol CT.  I couldn’t make it to the fundraiser this year, but my heart was definitely there.  Literally. She hopefully went home with someone last night.  🙂

Update ~ Brave Girl ended up going to a wonderful home and resides with a private art collection in Bristol, CT.

 

***

Connecticut Folk Artist Skyblue is Erica Lubee (formerly Erica Moreland).  She writes this blog from her studio in CT to share her love of art, creativity, photography, nature and all creatures big and small, real and imagined.  Her passion is for mixed media, whimsical folkart, illustration and the feminine portrait.  Visit Skyblue’s gallery for more of her paintings and artworks.  Some prints available at Redbubble.  Original drawings, paintings, and more will become available soon!  Follow or subscribe here or on Facebook for updates and more artsy fun. 🙂

 

 

Yoga Gypsy – Art and Inner Peace Part II – Link Included!

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Sorry to my lovely friends and followers… I had trouble adding a link to my last post – I am not very good at posting from my I-Phone.

Anyway, here is the link back to the original post: Yoga Gypsy

And here is the link the the store if you’d like to go straight there!  Yoga Gypsies for sale!

Thanks Again!

xo skyblue

Yoga Gypsy – Art and Inner Peace

When I drew Yoga Gypsy, I was coming off of a year of some serious health challenges… I knew I needed to be creating art again, but i just couldn’t find the energy to do much at all.  I pressed on the best I could, doing daily(ish) yoga and gentle exercise in my studio… I was not ready to let my body fall apart. It was absolutely amazing how much better I was feeling, just using the most delicate movements from yoga and belly dance.

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Soon I became stronger, and sketches started to emerge from my journals as I started to find energy in the art.  I used that energy to get more energy and I remember feeling some of that energy in my yoga.  It was at that time that i realized that both of these parts of my life were not separate… they existed within each other… because of each other. I knew movement and art would heal me.

Yoga Gypsy was one of the first drawings I knew I wanted to share… in hopes she could help someone else find strength and inner peace.  And she is now available at my RedBubble store, in several colors and designs!  Kind of a big deal!!  🙂

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Greeting Cards, Prints, Framed Art, Canvases… Enjoy! and Thank you!

http://www.redbubble.com/people/skyblue32

xo skyblue

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

The Top Ten Reasons Skyblue loves ~ SHE HAS TROUBLE WITH NUMBERS ~ by Joann Loftus

I’ve seen dozens, if not hundreds of online contests on blogs, facebook, instagram… but never considered entering one.  I guess if it’s not a million dollars, or a date with Mark Wahlberg, i’m not really interested.  I just really don’t want any more stuff.

A few weeks back though, I did enter one of those online contests.  I just happened across it, cruising through my feed, and for the first time I was like… “hell yah! sign me up!!” The very talented, inspiring artist, Joann Loftus was giving away a print…any print!  A hand embelleshed print of one of her original mixed media paintings, which i absolutely drool over.  Yup. I occasionally drool over art.  And, Mark Wahlberg.  Enough about him though… I won the art!! And I just wanted to tell the world!!!

It came in the mail wrapped up in this delicious paper with a special note on one of her sweet cards. (her painting Create)

IMG_4646I couldn’t WAIT to open it.

Rewind about a year… my husband and I did a lot of work remodeling our bedroom.  It was my first little attempt at being a “designer”.  I had this vision that just wouldn’t go away.

I had become passionate about the project… Together we made it happen, and it became a huge part of a healing process we were going through after some health issues.   The room was transformed from mostly-dreadful to semi-delightful, but with a severe lack of funds, the project came to a screeching halt before my favorite part of the design… the ART!!!  I knew there had to be art, that wasn’t my own, that I hadn’t seen yet.  When I saw it, I would know.

IMG_4660I brought up this back story because it is important for you to understand how excited I am having added the first piece of art (besides a few of my own which don’t count) to our Bohemian Zen bedroom.  When I saw the contest Joann had posted, I knew I wanted one of her pieces in our bedroom.

Most artists would agree, nothing says appreciation for someone’s art like forking over some well-earned dough.  Since I wouldn’t be paying for this piece, I wanted to somehow express how much I really did appreciate it.  Sending a heartfelt email just didn’t seem enough.  So I broke out a top ten list… written especially for Joann, and pasted it into the email.  I was pretty sure this whole thing was a scam, since it seemed much to good to be true, but I sent the email with my painting of choice.

It was not an easy or instant decision…I can relate deeply to so many of her pieces (Create was actually the first runner-up!)… but without a doubt it was meant to be, She Has Trouble with Numbers.

IMG_4669So here is the top ten list…

The Top Ten Reasons I love She Has Trouble With Numbers, by Joann Loftus

1. This was the first Loftus I ever saw.
2. I didn’t much love my short curly hair that wouldn’t grow out after chemo.  I liked her short “curly-ish” hair when i first saw her.  It made me like mine more.
3. She reminds me of me.  I’m terrible at math.  I mean really terrible.  It gives me hives.
4. She has daisies on her cheeks.  Heaven knows, I love daisies.
5. She will look so pretty in my bedroom.
6. The painting reminds me of my husband, who is fantastic at math.  He helped me “double” a recipe today.
7. The colors are amazing.  They remind me of our quilt, a gift from my mom. She, like my husband, is excellent at math and does our taxes like a CPA Ninja.
8. The painting reminds me of my dad, who, like me, is also terrible at math.
9. Did I say, I love the colors?
10. I can’t stop looking at her.  I feel like she was painted especially for me.IMG_4671
… when Trouble arrived in the mail last week, she was even more lovely than on my computer screen.  I knew she belonged in this room. She has found her home right next to my bed… and next to my alarm clock.  The numbers 5:13(am) could not be more troublesome.
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Anyway, more than that, I love that I see her everyday first thing when i wake up, and just before i turn the lights out.  She’s home.
Thank you Joann.  I can’t wait to save up for my next Loftus!
xo,
skyblue
***
Please find a piece for your own home, or for someone you love at Joann’s Etsy store and see what she’s up to on her Facebook page.
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Coffee and Daydreams

IMG_9306Some afternoons, when I just sit with my thoughts, and breath…IMG_9190I find myself in little orange studio, sipping a perfect cup of coffee from my favorite mug… sunbeams raining on my two sweet purring cats.   My road rage is replaced by thoughts of those i love.  I realize i am pretty. And all at once, i remember a thousand of my happiest childhood moments.  I get a glimpse of what i ache for most in life.

I suddenly realize how much of it I already have.

thank you to everyone who believes in me.

xo skyblue

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Come Dance with Me. The Story of Little Orange Studio

Exhilaration is…what happens when i come home from work, go straight to little orange studio, crank up my Pandora, forget about work and responsibility, and just go wherever the music takes me.  Literally!  This is how i exercise.

Will I do some belly dancing? or lift some weights? or do some step aerobics?  How about some Yoga?  Ballet?  Maybe some Pilates?  Maybe I feel like just putting on a pretty skirt and dancing like I was on stage again (is that wierd? oh well.)

And my husband?  What does he think of his wife in the other room practicing torso undulations and snake arms… busting out in hour long dance routines? It used to freak him out when I first started doing it no doubt… but it doesn’t seem to phase him anymore.  he usually can’t help sneaking into the studio to come stand beside me in the mirror and do his special guy-version of a hip shimmy… or he likes to tip toe up behind me and make inappropriate gestures when i’m doing yoga (hello? Downward Dog? we all know some of those poses clearly invite innocent spousal butt grabs).

My dance habits although a bit strange to others, are my most regular and effective form of exercise, and an endless source and outlet for creativity.  I go through constant ups and downs with regards to my commitment of keeping up a regular schedule.  I’ll start to feel really flexible and strong, and toned, and then i lose my steam.  I get lazy.  I procrastinate.  But ultimately, besides fair weather walking,  this is my main source of exercise. To understand this slightly odd hobby – dancing for hours in a special room of my house- and to understand why i do it and what it means to me, one must know some of my background.

image: First Lesson at Truempy Ballet School by Alfred Eisenstaedt

A brief (although wordy) history of my significant, but very humble, experiences in dance, movement, and fitness…

  • 1977 (I was 7, sure go ahead do the math).  I had known for “years” that i wanted to be a ballerina.  I had not learned yet that i was destined to suck at all sports and athletics.  I started going to ballet classes at a little school in Manchester. I Loved it, but I hated it.  I was addicted to the beauty of it and to the feeling of moving my body to music, but so incredibly challenged by the intensity of it all… so much pain…so competitive.  I couldn’t live without it, but I dreaded every muscle throbbing-toe bleeding class and rehearsal.  [How I loved you, Ms. Priscilla, even when you made me cry and made me do it 37 times, until it was perfect . I truly loved you despite the oozing blisters.]
  • My bedroom at the time becomes, part little girl’s room, part Grand Stage where my early “choreographies” are rehearsed, and performed for unsuspecting aunts and uncles.  I think I charged them each like one dollar.
  •  I did primarily ballet at my dance school, but i also did lot’s of jazz, and tap until I was about 22.  Tap and jazz were where i had the most fun (Who’s not having fun slinking around to Smooth Criminal, and tap dancing your heart out to 42nd Street!)… but ballet was still my first love.  The satin toe-shoes, the delicate tutu’s, the perfect pirouettes , the graceful arms and hands.  I was never the best in my class, and i only ever got a few solo parts, but i kept up with it…always knowing it was my foundation for being able to do any of the other stuff.  I spent many years performing in recitals and small town productions with my beloved first dance school.  My mom and dad were there for every performance, every class, every accomplishment, every smile, every tear.  My mom sewed my costumes.  My dad helped backstage… assembling Santa’s sleigh…he even helped tie up the unraveled ballet shoes of tiny sugarplums in the wings.
  • I went to college and joined the dance company there, which is the first time i was exposed to any other types of dance.  During this time I learned a little modern, and contemporary.  Performed a few times, tried some choreography.  Got a surprise marriage proposal from my dance partner, on stage, during a show, in front of our families and my entire college campus. (that wedding never did happen, but a very memorable “dance” moment!  and great man that i hope is living a happy, healthy life with a beautiful family somewhere. i didn’t deserve him.)
  • My mid-twenties…started dabbling in some step aerobics and learning to do light weight lifting, etc.
  • After college ended, I danced here and there until i was about 26 and then stopped.  I was too old for dance recitals, and didn’t know of any options other than traditional ballet and tap schools where i could continue dancing.
  • Started going to gyms more, learning how to use fitness equipment and taking group classes… aerobics, kickboxing, and the occasional yoga class [a little too new age and misunderstood by me at that time, but i was slightly and subconsciously intrigued].  My body looked and felt great, but I never loved going to the gym.  “What? No pretty costumes?  No beautiful music?  No fun choreographies? “Waahh… grown up exercise… yuck!”
  • Stopped moving altogether for a few years, besides some pretty steady nightclub dancing and the occasionally date on roller blades.
  • Mid-late 90’s, found a tiny little classified posting in the Advocate, for a belly dance class held in a used book store.  “Belly Dance? A Book Store? Interesting…”
  • 5 minutes into my first class…Hooked…I was going to be a dancer again.

  • Gradually found some more classes to take.  One of my early classes was a fusion of belly dance and yoga.  Hmmm… i was liking this yoga thing more and more… especially if i can do it while i’m belly dancing!
  • Started taking lots of belly dance classes and traveling for workshops… and performing a bit.  Hip Scarves! Silk Veils! Sparkly Costumes!  Fake Eyelashes! Exciting Music!  Classes with famous experts!  Dance camp with professionals and famous musicians! THIS WAS LIVING!
  • created a special exercise/belly dance area in my apartment at the time, doing more independent practice and study of belly dance, yoga, pilates, and fitness in general as I slowly and modestly transformed the space into my “dance room”.
  • I spent a few years doing local belly dance performances with other students for fun, for fundraisers, in restaurants… I met so many lovely, creative women.
  • Learned a bit more Yoga and Pilates with books, classes and workshops. Both feel very complimentary to my belly dancing.
  • Got a little stagnant with belly dance after a while.  Tried my hips at some Polynesian and Hula, knowing the music and movements would be equally as thrilling and beautiful.  The costumes were interesting too… I performed at a handful of gigs and parties … got to wear a few grass skirts, and yes… i had my own pair of coconuts.  I had a great time, met more lovely, creative women.
  • Decided to focus my efforts solely on belly dance once again… some classes, a workshop or two, another few performances… did a little teaching for beginners. Only stayed involved with the belly dance community for another year or so.  Life got in the way, as they say.  A few dear friends remain.

  • 2006, I moved.  I started creating a new space, a new room in my new house, where i could practice, play music, be comfortable, and feel inspired – and where I could paint the walls any color of the rainbow without losing a security deposit.
  • Today, I’m dancing again.  I get in an occasional funk with the seasons, my moods, or a temporary obstacle.  But I am dancing.

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Little Orange Studio is where,

even though I am no longer formally involved in dance…

I am still a dancer. 

There are magical forces at work here.

This is where i get the movement and exercise my body craves.

This is where i am still able to be creative with choreography and improvisation. 

This is where I am the artist I have always wanted to be.

This is where I am the writer I never thought I could be.

This is where I heal, ease pain, and get stronger after the cancer.

This is where I am still a dancer.

This is where I will forever be…

ballerina, belly dance goddess…

dancer.

***

My life of dance and movement gave me the vision to create these spaces where i live.  The space I have now is where i dance, exercise, and make artwork in harmony.  One inspires the other… inspires the other….they are not separate. Since having little orange studio, I have experienced the power it has over my creativity, inspiration, and motivation.  At any moment… early in the morning, or by the flicker of candle light and a full moon… you might find me in there making a necklace, doing sun salutations,  painting a canvas, dancing to middle eastern, acoustic or club music.  sometimes I’m wearing yoga pants and a hip scarf… other times i am decked head to toe in belly dance attire with swirling skirts, jingling coins, lipstick, and flowers in my hair.  No matter what you find me doing in there, there will be music playing, candles glowing, and incense burning.  No matter what you find me doing in there, i am being the most “me” I could ever be.

What inspires me about the sunny studio by the woods?  The warm colors… the delicate sunlight… the magical lamps… the shaggy rugs… the shelves of lovely books and treasures from my past… the whimsical paintings… the meticulously organized art supplies… my gorgeous [hand-made-by-hubby] table and flea market furniture… my cat sleeping in a basket of pretty scarves…the late-morning light that beams onto the colors and my skin.

One might agree, It’s not always easy to find motivation for exercise, or the recipe for creativity, or the wisdom to stop and listen to birds from a yoga mat.  “Real life” always seems to trump.  But putting petty excuses aside, there are no valid reasons for me not to want to go into this room and be creative, exercise, write, dance.  This is where i feel whole and strong. This is where my soul longs to spend its days.

Little OS is my story.  Here I can dance until i am 80 and create until earth’s journey ends.  I never have to retire my sparkly hip scarves or jingly coin belts!  I realize i may want to think twice about the sequin bra’s and coconut shells in a few years, although perky is no longer an issue for me, so who knows! (this can be further clarified for you by Dancing Rapunzel if curiosity now has the best of you)

ALLLLL this being said, I have secretly wished i could help other people create spaces like this for themselves, for whatever it is they want do do.  I don’t think i will have my little orange studio interior design company any time soon, but maybe someone will read this and try it for themselves.  and then poof.  it happens for them…  the magic.

My space happens to be a spare room in the back of my house tucked near the woods.  A cozy corner, a large closet, a patch of grass under a tree can work too.  Your space might be waiting, right before your eyes.  Give it some love.  Give it some You.

Let’s say you had an extra room or spare corner in your home…what would yours look like?  What would you do there?

Maybe you already have a space, that is your story, and you’ve just never told it.

My hope is that at least one kindred blogger or reader will find this post, and be inspired to create their own space to dance (or meditate, do situps, sew dresses, do yoga, make art…  ).

Exhilaration, Bliss, Spiritual Perfection, might be waiting for you there.

love, skyblue. xo.


My heart in full color

I often wonder what it must be like to not love art… to not love creating.  I can’t even imagine it.  People seem to think i am part yoga hippie,part crazy cat lady, and part health nut.  I have no idea why people think I’m a health nut. I had a raspberry danish, two cups of coffee, a glass of root beer, and a large handful of m&ms today.  The other descriptions are pretty accurate i would say.  A day of fun for me would be a few hours at the flea market, another few hours painting in my studio, and another hour or two doing yoga and belly dance.

I was thrilled to spend a few hours in my studio this weekend.  As I worked on a couple of paintings, I found myself asking,  “Why do I love art so much?  Why do i long to spend all the hours of daylight in my studio, sketching, gluing, painting…

I haven’t figured out exactly how to answer that question.  But i decided (for once) I would not judge every stroke, and second guess every color choice, and worry if my paintings would be good enough, or if they would have anything worthwhile to say… I would instead simply enjoy each stroke, and notice the juxtaposition of colors and shapes.  I would just get lost in my paint and let my brushes speak what is in my heart.

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These are some close-ups of the series i’m working on for my living room.  I love the way paint and canvas unite to make the most interesting patterns and textures from the close-up perspective.  More to come i hope.  Happy Monday!

e.j.l. xo

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