Thursday, July 29, 2010

One Stitch at a Time

And work at your pattern;
It will come out a rose by and by.
Life is like that –
One stitch at a time taken patiently
And the pattern will come out all right
Like the embroidery.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Art Kits

There is nothing more inspirational to an artist than seeing beautiful materials spread out on her work table in front of her.

I've grouped some beautiful materials from my own collections into "kits" and listed them here.

Belle File

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Real Me

First, watch this:

Now watch it again, but imagine sitting on a bench with the wounded, aching, afraid-to be-herself YOU. She's sitting there with a veil over her face, hunched over, alone no matter how many people are around her. The real HER is never o.k. to show to others; the real HER has been rejected far too many times; the real HER has fucked up too many times to count.

But you see HER.

And now listen to the song again, but change the lyrics to this, and imagine addressing that veiled YOU there on the bench:

Foolish heart looks like we're here again (fond smile, stroking her head)
Same old game of plastic smile
Don't let anybody in (tip her chin up to look at you)
Hiding your heartache
Will this glass house break?
How much will they take
Before you're empty?
YOu're scared to let it show?
Does anybody know?

But I see the real YOU
Hiding in your skin
Broken from within
I unveil you completely (lift her veil and look deep into her eyes)
Now you can loosen your grasp
There's no need to mask your frailty
Oh, Cause I see the real you

Painted on
Your life lived behind a mask
Self-inflicted circus clown
You're tired of the song and dance
Living a charade
Always on parade (lift the burden on her back off of her and pull her toward you)
What a mess you feel you've made of your existence
But I love you even now
And still I see somehow

I see the real YOU
Hiding in your skin,
Broken from within
I unveil you completely
You're loosening your grasp
There's no need to mask your frailty
Oh, Cause I see the real YOU

Wonderful, beautiful
Is what I see
When I look at YOU
You're turning the tattered fabric of your life into
A perfect tapestry

Oh, I know you just wanna be you
You wanna be YOU

And I see the real YOU
Hiding in your skin
Broken from within
I unveil you completely
You're loosening your grasp
There's no need to mask your frailty
Oh, Cause I see the real YOU
And I love you
Just as you are
Wonderful, beautiful
Is what I see
When I look at YOU.

That's powerful, isn't it? Why?

But let's take it one step further. Can I put someone else that I love on that bench in front of me and sing that to THEM? Give them permission to be THEM, messes and all? Can I just love them, without trying to change them? Can I choose to trust that there's a real THEM inside that is longing to be loved with a love that never leaves, no matter what, and respond to it with simple, abandoned love?

We all know that our projection of ourselves being loved is NOT the same thing as the REAL US being loved. I want to have the courage to show my real self AND accept the real self of the person in front of me. And what will happen there is love...real love...that we are all longing for.

If you drawn to the spirit behind this post, I invite you to read this post from earlier this year. Same spirit.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More on "Understanding"

Thinking more about this topic and just have a simple question:

What do you most wish that someone in your life understood?

Let me elaborate just a bit. In my experience a lot of pain comes from feeling misunderstood. Broken relationships can often be traced back to someone grossly misunderstanding something about the other person.

Yesterday I felt some serious discomfort upon finding out that I have been misunderstood by someone in my life, perhaps for years. Immediately, I felt defensive, hurt and even angry. The questions swirling in my mind were along the lines of: don't you know me better than that? does that sound like something I would do? what kind of a person do you think I am?

So I had to take a look at that. Why did that bother me so much? On the surface I felt mostly offended. But what's underneath that?

It's the pain of feeling misunderstood. I don't need a therapist to tell me why it's painful to feel misunderstood. We interact with others and we develop relationships in which we feel safe and part of that safety comes from knowing we are seen for who we are and loved. When I feel most loved (i.e. safe) I feel that someone sees to the center of who I am...the REAL ME...and loves that Cheryl. I am then...well, SAFE.

The opposite of course is feeling unloved...unsafe. That's why it's so painful to find out that someone with whom I've shared myself, who has experienced me, who I trusted to see me as I am, misunderstands me. There is an immediate flash of fear...WHO have they been experiencing all this time? It wasn't ME. They've been experiencing another version of me, not seeing who I really am. I trusted them with myself, believing that they truly saw/loved me; to find out they didn't when I thought they did is just plain painful.

So back to my question. But think about it in a slightly different way. What makes you feel teary or emotional when you imagine that person in your life really "getting" you, seeing you, understanding you? I can think of a few people/situations that make me want to sob.

If that person could somehow understand what I was feeling when I did what I did....
If this other person wanted (really, truly wanted) to understand the pain I was feeling when....
If that person met me with a desire to understand ME, not approve of everything about me...

Of course I can't make that happen. If I've learned anything, it's that we don't understand one another unless we WANT TO. I can't force someone (or even ASK them to, really) to want to understand me.

But there is something I can do. Something you can do. It isn't easy. It's not comfy. It stings a little because it means putting ourselves out there with no guarantee we will be "met" in a reciprocal way.

We can approach people in our lives with an honest desire to understand them.

We can say things like:
"What do you wish I understood?"
"I want to understand how you felt. I won't say anything in response. I just want to hear how you felt and what you experienced."
"I have no desire to change you. I want to "get" you - the REAL YOU."

Typing those sentences makes me cry. Why? Because if someone approached me with that sort of desire to understand would utterly change the inside of me, help to heal wounds in a way nothing else can and make me feel loved in a way nothing else would.

So I want to give that to others. Not wait for them to reciprocate. Not expect them to do that for me in return. But freely give that to them.

I know, I know...that's hard as hell. But isn't that love, after all? Seeing the one who hurt you curled up in a ball of pain and rushing toward them with comfort you have the power to give, even if they don't comfort you in return? I don't mean lying down and taking more abuse from them. I don't mean sitting there while they tell you how rotten they think you are. That's not what I mean. It is offering an ear, an open mind, an open heart and a desire to understand the other person....with no conditions.

If we all did this, I can't help but think our world would be an utterly different place. I can't know that for sure, but I do know it would most certainly change ME. And YOU.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The End of Suffering...

A Buddhist friend told me that, "Right understanding is the end of suffering." Not pain, of course. Suffering. Jesus said, "The truth will set you free."

I've been thinking about this a lot. I see over and over the way this is true. If I have the courage to say what I really feel, think and want, and then live out of that, I am experiencing relationships with others in ways I never have before. Old wounds are healed I thought were impossible to heal.

When I want to understand others, my view of them falls away and I see them as they are, usually more like me than different. When we want to understand one another and we walk into a conversation or interaction with acceptance and love for one another, no matter what, something amazing happens. There is a connection. Something clicks. Something falls into place. New things happen. A sort of richness of relationship that is different than anything I've encountered before.

I have realized as I've left behind religion the way I experienced it that I truly never learned to trust myself. Or others, really. The Bible says, "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" I believed that literally. So I grew up believing that if I am honest, if I really listen to what I feel, if I go after what I want, etc. I will end up in the very pit of hell and probably drag a few dozen others along with me in the process! I simply didn't (don't still in many ways) trust myself. It's been and continues to be a process of learning to listen to the real me inside, and then, gradually, learn to trust that.

It was as though I had these muscles inside of me that had never developed or even atrophied from lack of use; Christianity told me I wasn't allowed to use them or that I didn't even HAVE them. I was deeply and totally BAD inside, I read and heard. The only goodness I was capable was when I tapped into/surrendered to God, who, if my heart was right, would infuse his own goodness into me. But I'm finding that that's just not true. I am finding "God" (goodness, truth, compassion, love) inside of ME. Not "out there." Not infused by a sky god who is separate from me and must be appealed to.

It's not changing who I am; it's uncovering who I am.
It's not ignoring the inside of me; it's falling back into it.
It's not a big "clean-up"; it's a peeling off of layers or a birth of something inside of me.

Now I am going through some "physical therapy," I guess! Learning what those muscles, that were there all along, are and do. Strengthening them. Letting blood flow into them. The book/film, "The Secret Garden" is a beautiful allegory of all of this growth and change for me.

Watch for:
-Letting light flood into dark places.
-Truth being revealed and lies being dispelled.
-The miracles that happen as we say the way things really are, challenge what we've been told is true and walk boldly into places we thought we couldn't.
-The way other people in our lives can BE the courage we don't have sometimes.
-Old, desolate places being uncovered, opened and cut back until a beauty that was there all along is revealed.
-Suffering ending.
-Muscles being found and what happens when they begin to strengthen.

As you watch the clips from "The Secret Garden" below, what else do you see/feel/hear/notice? What causes a warmth in your tummy as you see or hear it? What brings tears to your eyes? What do you find yourself wanting to have, to do, to see? What causes something that feels like what someone striking the lowest chords on a piano sounds like?

and then...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

An experiment

I know, I know...3 posts in one's like feast or famine around here.

O.k. so my sister, Jeanette, is getting married on Saturday! We're super excited for her. She is a wonderful, creative, beautiful, kind and very GOOD person. I love her.

So anyway, the rehearsal dinner is tomorrow night in L.A. where she and her fiance, James, live with James' darling daughter, Hannah. I found this beautiful, vintage-inspired dress at Forever 21, which incidentally is just plain PACKED with beautiful, feminine, vintagey clothing right now. I literally have like 8 pretty tees that involve chiffon flowers. But anyway. I digress.

So I tried this dress on for my husband but we agreed it's slightly weird for me to wear a white, lacey dress to the wedding rehearsal. Sort of like...tacky. I don't know. You get it, I'm sure.

Soooooo....I whipped out my fiber reactive fabric dyes that I haven't used in about a year and did a quick presto-chango altered dress job. It's in the washer right now, as I type, and it remains to be seen what happens....
I used the seafoam dye. Kinda blueish greenish.
Here's the super-easy directions for color-fast, just-like-in-the-factory dyeing method that you do right in your washer.
The tricky part here is the dress is 100% nylon except for the embroidery, or so says the tag. This dye is the best for cotton, so I know the cotton embroidered bits will turn seafoam. I do NOT know if the nylon will hold the dye. It might wash back out and be white, in spite of the "fixer" I use.
So...I'll report back with the results. I may not get to get a good photo until after I get back from the wedding. And that's if the handwash-only dress holds up o.k. in the warm water necessary for dyeing....yikes. We'll see!

The Simple Things

Something else in the shoppe I wanted to share. You can find it HERE. I so enjoyed making this. If you know me, you know altered art using fabric is my favorite type of art. I get to use lots of delicious vintage fabrics, laces, trims, ribbons, buttons, millinery flowers and the like to make something new and beautiful.

"I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple
things of life which are the real ones after all."
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

The quote above was the inspiration for this piece. I started with an 8x10" wrapped canvas and painted it in ivory and tans. I built a fabric collage on top using taffeta, a vintage collar, an antique cabinet card reprinted on fabric, the Wilder quote printed on fabric, a posey of vintage millinery forget-me-nots, an ivory ribbon bow and a vintage cream button. I added lace and ribbons to the top for hanging. Vintage satin ruffles and lace adorn the bottom edge of the piece.

For me, this piece is about the simplicity and beauty of connections with those I love. Whether it's with my husband, my children, my family, my friends or even those "blogger buddies" I only know through the internet, it's those relational connections that are the richest and most valuable things in my life. I can sometimes get bogged down with the differences and divisions between us, the pain and regret over things that have occured between us in the past, or even the judgement and shame we might unintentionally feel coming or going within our relationship.
But deep down inside, we are all the same. We want the same things. We are all living just one life each. We all want, more than anything, to be loved. When I take the "overhead" view of things in this way, I see in my mind's eye a kind of gold thread that goes in me, comes out the other side, goes into you, comes out the other side, and so on, until we are all connected. And it suddenly becomes so simple and so sweet, just as Laura says in the quote above. You. Me. Love.

Jolie Fleur

There isn't enough room for all the pics on etsy, so I'm posting more here! If you would like to purchase this set, you can find it HERE.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

"Bright Star"

Today I have the house to myself. I exercised, showered and then headed to my newly-cleaned and organized studio, coffee in hand.

I picked up some handwork and then scanned Netflix for something that looked good to watch while stitching and my eyes fell on "Bright Star."

From moment one I was mesmerized. The opening credits roll past while a needle moves in and out of rough linen, pulling thread behind it.

But that was just the beginning. The movie is about poet, John Keats, and the love of his life, Fanny, who would be the muse behind his masterful romantic poetry.

It's about how they met, tried not to fall in love but did anyway. Fanny is an artist in her own right, creating breathtakingly beautiful gowns with only her needle, thread and her deft fingers. John is an artist, too, of course, a poet who teaches Fanny to love not just his words but life, as well.

This movie was a sensory treat, seemingly engaging every sense, a work of art in itself. Wind blowing linen curtains while late afternoon sunshine pours in,

luxe caramel-colored fabric fashioned into sumptous ruffles,

melon-hued taffeta skirts,

fields of vivid flowers,

stunning orchards of blossoming trees, white cotton frocks and stiff bonnets, a room full of butterflies....just a few of the exquisitely-lovely experiences the viewer is treated to.

Here's the trailer:

And one of my favorite scenes:

What a treat this movie was. I don't know if a movie has ever inspired me to sew until now, but this one has. Simply beautiful.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Garden Party


"Yes, it's me, Cheryl! I was wondering if you would like to come sit in my garden with me?"

"You would? Oh, good! O.k. I'll be standing at the road looking for you..."

"This way...."

"...and through this gate..."

"Sit here!"

"Or here..."

"I found this vintage dress and was so excited to wear it today!"

You can find this dress HERE....

"I prepared a little lunch just for the two of us...come sit down!"
"Would you like some tea?"

"You're ready to go? Well, thank you so much for coming today. It was wonderful spending the afternoon with you. Would you take these flowers with you? Come again soon!"

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ode 314

Those who don't feel this Love

pulling them like a river,

those who don't drink dawn

like a cup of spring water

or take in sunset like supper,

those who don't want to change,

let them sleep.

This Love is beyond the study of theology,

that old trickery and hypocrisy.

If you want to improve your mind that way,
sleep on.

I've given up on my brain.

I've torn the cloth to shreds

and thrown it away.

If you're not completely naked,

wrap your beautiful robe of words

around you,

and sleep.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Denim & Lace

Two more new pieces you can find in my etsy shoppe.