Thursday, January 27, 2011

Got any spare change brother?

I am currently reading a small book entitled, PEACE about the life journey of Mahatma Gandhi. The book briefly describes his enormous sacrifice he gave of himself, his whole life, but then the book is made mostly up of quotes from Gandhi. There is one that moves me most.....

"Be the change you want to see in the world..."

Its amazing how quotes can strike such profound cords in us. Its like reading something so simple that sums up an entire lifespan. Whether it is things we already do or things we aspire to. Its almost as if we are trying to touch our own humanity and connect with our world at the same time. In my silence a lot of time is devoted to observation. Watching the movement of people as well as my own movement when I am around others.

I am sitting in a Starbucks right now typing away. Watching. Everyone is in their own space. Not much talking. Folks ordering their potions while others listen to iPods or read newspapers. Some are studying out of books while others tap away on keyboards. People are generally cordial and polite to one another but that is the extent of it.

It reminds me of the universe. So many heavenly bodies swirling and orbiting around each other, never colliding. Each full of their own properties, gravitational pull, and density! If you get too close to some you will inevitably be drawn into their black hole. While other's have a radiance that makes our sun inferior. Right now I am like the moon....reflecting the light of others. My existence is dependent upon someone else's pull. Nice to gaze upon from afar but ordinary on the surface. However, my own pull does create a sway this way or that way in others. I change with each day. Some days you can see all of me and other days you can only get a sliver of who I am. And I am fine with that. I want to affect my world, even in the most subtle of ways. I am sure someday I will have my hand at being a nebula.

So what change could I be that I want to see in the world? Well, for starters I'd like to see the world be more patient with one another. Yeah....I could use a double dose of patience when faced with challenges. I am guilty of being quick tempered and irritated when things do not go "my way". That is something I definitely will meditate on and put into practice. I am sure I could create a laundry list of changes I'd like to see in the world, but for now I will spare myself too much change...... smile.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Daily Diary

One is the loneliest number.......
Now, I knew my journey would bring about major change......but "knowing" something and going through it can be very different. It was clear to me that my social interactions would change drastically. Being alone with my thoughts is actually a comforting place to be. I am able to examine my behavior and really focus on the changes I need to make to become a better person. Coupled with the fact that I have been more creative and productive than I have been in years with my art. I need to be alone to make that happen. However, I am also a social creature. So this week I felt the tug of loneliness at my shirt tails. Its a double edged sword.

I definitely do NOT want to be like Jack Nicholson in the movie, "The Shining". Left alone with his thoughts for too long produced the crazies in him. Instead of writing his novel he spent hour after hour typing "All work and not play makes Jack a dull boy". Hmmmmmmmmm. And by most accounts the people that know me already think I'm where do you go from crazy?

There's this ebb and flow going on.
My biggest disappointment this week is that Stacy has made no effort what so ever to learn sign language so we can communicate easier at home. There were two years of opportunities to learn even the basics before this point.....and NOTHING. The irony of that got a chuckle out of my best friend. Not signing is not sooooooo bad, but its the lack of communication all together. He is the one person I had hoped would join in. He is the one person I see most in the world. While texting keeps me connected with people outside my head. I crave human contact. Now in his defense, this is my journey and not his so why should he be "forced" to do something that is a challenge for him, when he is only "in this" by default? I agree, he shouldn't. The challenge is mine and by the very nature of a challenge, it is not supposed to be easy and there will be unexpected twists and turns. It will ultimately be about how to find a solution for the challenges I face. I have logic and emotion battling this one out! That's the EBB.

Now for the FLOW. My children! Maybe its because they are children that they are so open to things that are different. They have just embraced what is going on at home. I can have all sorts of conversations with them. They have picked up a great deal of sign language but what they don't know in sign we gesture. Its like a never ending game of charades. They have fun with it, which in turn makes it fun for me. They also know how to sign the alphabet so if I am really stuck on a word with them I can spell it out. That's cool.
AHHHHHHHHH then there is the affection! (my favorite part) To make up for what is not said there are constant kisses and hugs from them. They will stop what they are doing just to give me a hug and say "I love you". We do A LOT of snuggling! smile......that's the BEST language!

Some adult love would be nice.....

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Finding my rhythm...........again

While at the salon yesterday sharing some good laughs, my stylist Pam was remembering when I did my "Year of Esther"! This is when in 2008, I devoted the whole year to the book of Esther in the Bible. Where King Xerxes wanted a new wife and he had maidens "prepared" so he could make his choice. These particular scriptures were incredibly inspiring.... Esther 2:9 "The girl (Esther) pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food....." Esther 2:12 "Before a girl's turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics." Esther 2:17 "Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins, so he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen."
The scriptures really got me thinking about what went into those 12 months! To go through that many beauty treatments and care to the body had to produce a visible transformation. It worked for Esther...she became queen! So I set out to do my own version. But beauty is not just external so I stated thinking about a whole person transformation. I came up with seven area I would concentrate on to make my own transformation.
1.) SOCIAL This is where I concentrated on intensifying my relationships. Being more honest in my interactions and telling people I loved, "I love you." My family is closer to this day as a result!
2.)PHYSICAL This is where I made a commitment to my body. I started getting my hair done at the salon on a regular, I started my pedicures and manicures. Bubble baths were a regular! I changed my diet to make healthier everyday choices. I worked out like a maniac too....I was in the BEST shape of my life at the end of that year!
3.)INTELLECTUAL This is where I began my art library and made a commitment to read and read often. I love reading spiritual books and art related themes. I also included active participation to plays and museum visits and keep music playing throughout my day. That has not changed to this day!
4.)EMOTIONAL This is where I really paid attention to my hormone levels and learned how my body handles stress so I could best counter it. I made a commitment to my twins to have honest interaction with them and treat them as individuals and not just "kids" we PLAY HARD!!! So of the most creative ideas came out of my house that year, however we still are pretty out there in our home. smile
5.)ENVIRONMENTAL This is where I considered the world around me. Madi and Wave were the best help here. We started recycling on a regular and built bird houses for the birds. We even started a garden in the backyard. We talked a lot about nature and how beautiful God's creation is.
6.)OCCUPATIONAL Here I wrote out specific goals for my military career.....ALL WERE REALIZED! This is were I started taking serious my art as a business and made specific plans for my art studio which was finished in 2010!!! smile
7.)SPIRITUAL Prayer and meditation was critical in my transformation! (something I think I sort of lost sight of) I made a specific list of area I really wanted to grow in....Forgiveness, Grace, Self-Control, Server attitude. Sharing my gifts was a big part too. (I gave a lot of art
2008....Now THAT was a GREAT year!!! So much of what I learned about myself and my world has stayed with me from that experience. It was such a refreshing reminder as I embark on a new challenge for 2011. Time with Pam made me realize how important it is not to forget our successes and to DREAM BIG! ...oh and by the way, Pam has taken to my Year of Silence quite naturally! We were texting each other while she did my hair! She had me crackin' up!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Daily Diary

How cool is this?
This week is my first week back to work at my kids school teaching art during my silence. The class consists of 3 to 6 year old precious and energetic children. They did the typical buzz around me as I set up my art supplies asking, "Are you an artist?" My responses were mostly gestural with some sign sprinkled in. Then the cutest thing happened....
A tiny little girl comes in close to me and starts signing, "Nice to meet you." I was so excited I signed back, "Thank you." and we began a mini conversation in sign while I set my supplies up. What was even sweeter was her classmates thought that was the coolest thing and began asking her how did she know sign and she became the translator for the rest of the class. That had to be empowering for this little girl no more than 5. smile
Needless to say, I had a blast and can't wait to go in today! switch gears....I have been noticing a slight physiological change. It feels as though I have constant phlegm in my throat. Clearing my throat has become a normal occurrence now. It's this lump in my throat that will not go away no matter how hard I swallow or clear my throat. Lozenges provide some comfort.
Another observation is that because I am not opening and closing my mouth frequently, as does happen during talking, my mouth is soooooo dry. You know how your mouth feels when you wake up in the morning?....Dry, and your teeth are in need of brushing? Cotton-mouth even. Well that is how my mouth feels ALL day. I am constantly using mouthwash and brushing my teeth throughout the day. I'm flossing a lot with the floss sticks too. I'm sure I'll have a STELLAR dentist visit!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The doctor is in....

In the last week a few people have asked, "Do you have any medical worries about not using your voice for a year?". "Have you talked to a doctor about damage to your vocal cords?". "What if there is non-reversible damage to your vocal cords from not using them, similar to muscle damage during stroke?".
All the people who asked these questions were either family members or very close friends and their concern comes from a place of love and support. I appreciate the honest and enthusiastic way people have responded to my journey. Thank you!!!!
So now the answer....Yes, I talked to my doctor before starting this adventure. He explained the physiological effects on the vocal cords from not using them. Nothing earth shattering. Basically when I resume talking normally I will have a very sore throat. He suggested I keep throat lozenges with me to keep my throat lubricated. Not talking tends to make the throat dry.
The other aspect of this is that I will still be producing sound. I laugh, cough, hum and respond to yes and no questioning with sound. I do not have a medical condition that is causing me to fall silent. I am merely choosing to not use spoken words as a form of expression. So my vocal cords are not laying dormant for a year, but will be used in other ways.
I am not afraid of change. In the event there is permanent damage in any way, I will take it as part of my journey and it will be handled accordingly. Getting caught up on the "what ifs" was never my style. I don't use fear to inhibit my movement. Analyzing, planing and critically thinking about things stimulates my actions.
Also when I think about the goals I have set before me, not speaking is the easy part and not the focus. Transformation is the true challenge - to purposefully put myself in a challenging situation to force a desired change. Now THAT is what shoots my concern-o-meter off the charts! Again to quote my best friend, " If you go to these lengths and not that would be the tragedy." (no pressure) So although not talking is not the going craze, will it help me get closer to my goals? Am I doing the physical things necessary to change my art? To change my perspective? To change my spirit? To change my life? Like in the movie the Truman Show, "How will it end?".

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Inspiration comes in unexpected places...

In a conversation about inspiration and focus, a friend of mine suggested I watch the movie, Billy Elliot. I did, and I cried many times throughout watching it. It was a beautiful movie with an unusual storyline.

Basically the main character is an 11 year old boy who takes to ballet instead of boxing in his small town of Durham, England. The movie was packed with the challenges of making such a choice. Perceptions from adults, friends and family. Then the movie touched on the individual. Do we know what drives us? Why we do what we do? Or even why we choose or NOT choose a particular path? What about when something is so much a part of us....can it be stopped?....should it be stopped?

All great thoughts produced by the movie. I was inspired!!
Daily Diary

It has been a week.....let's see if I can recap. Memory is NOT my best trait!
The best word to describe my mental status is STEADY. New Years was spent with my children all day with no interaction with the outside world. They jumped right in with signing with me and they were able to figure out anything I needed to tell them. That felt good. Sunday I went to church by myself...Stacy stayed home with the kids; they had colds. Church was good. I was able to have several conversations without writing anything down. As usual I sat in the Deaf Ministry section to see the signing. I was comfortable and confident.
Monday I went to see my mom....She had a notepad for me to write on. Vi sting with her was the BEST. She encourages me. I was most taken by her gesture of support by buying a new phone with a text keyboard. Texting is something she said she would never do. So for her to buy a phone just so she can text to me during this year touches my heart!!! I love my mom!! She's cool. smile
Tuesday I had my back therapy. That was fun. They were anticipating me and tried to get me to talk. They were excited for me on this unusual journey. Wednesday I went to visit with my mommy. We sat and watched movies. She fed me ALOT of food!
Thursday was a typical day. I got up at 3am (like most mornings) to work in the studio until 7am. After bringing the kids to school I went to the gym. Some folks at the gym think I am deaf and mouth words instead of talking to me. Oh yeah...another observation. People want to touch me when they talk to me or talk real close. I just go with it. Communication is happening.
I've been making the 9:15 spin class. Intense! Now is the tricky part...everyday has been different after the gym. Its like I don't know what to do with myself. I can do ANYTHING, but I lack the focus to make it happen. I do lunch and then it is any ones guess. I think I will use that as more time in the studio once I have a major project up and running. Right now I just feel LOST mid day! I'm sure I'll work it out.
One of my biggest frustrations so far is trying to communicate with Stacy. He doesn't know sign and barely remembers the signing alphabet. So most of the time I have to write things down and that can be tiring. He is very good at picking up gestures though. We just have to come up with some sort of compromise.
In a conversation with my best friend, he made an excellent point to get my focus back. He said, "This year is about producing art and NOT about not talking. Not talking is the easy part. It would be a tragedy if you spent the year not talking and had NO art to show for it! That would be the disappointment, NOT you slipping up with a word here or there." With a pep talk from Marz I was ready for what was next.
Friday probably was the most stimulating of days. I did the usual 3am studio visit. This time however, I set up six stations for six different art projects. Two oil paintings (one large, one small), watercolor butterfly piece, pen & ink piece, sketching station and a drawing station to work out ideas for future paintings. It was invigorating! I video recorded my work and sketched a self-portrait. Stacy brought the kids to school so I went right to the gym.
The kids had a half day so I picked them up.....that's when things got exciting. I wanted to see the classroom I will be teaching in next week. So I went in to get Madi and Wave. I had to interact with parents, teachers and children. All using sign, gesture and writing stuff down. Everyone was so receptive.
When asked, "Why is your mother talking in sign language?" The twins were proud to say, "It's her year of silence". Just that simple. Madi was having Steph over for a play date so I invite two other classmates for Wave to play with at our house. So with five active kids at my house we had and extreme play date until 5pm!!! The kids had a blast! I ordered their favorite - PIZZA! Fun was had by all.... the evening came to a tranquil end. The twins watched movies until bedtime.
...and here I am doing my early morning studio thang. It is peaceful up here. Outside is beautiful. A snow storm hit and everything is white.
Peace happens.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Daily Diary

Any entry with the title Daily Diary will be used to document observations about myself, emotional states, physiological effects, and detailed journaling throughout my Year of Silence. The hope is to have a written reccord of my journey to accompany the visual art produced at the same time.

I will also continue posting my typical entries with pictures. These entries are thought provoking insights used to stimulate dialogue.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Speak it into existence....

About a week ago I was having an inspirational conversation with my baby birth mother and we were talking about how God manifested our existence with a word. The word became flesh. Think about just speak creation into existence. We spend most of our days toiling, trying to create anything. We want all kinds of, clothes, computers, cell phones, stuff upon stuff, a better marriage, better children, or a better life. What if we could just speak these into existence?
A couple things instantly come to mind......then what would we fill "time" with? Would it make us realize finally that time is truly relative? Would it makes us more spiritual and see that material stuff is meaningless but appreciating the connection with each other is paramount.
...then there's the belief that we can create from a word. With the awesome power of God inside us we can do some pretty incredible things.....anything even. Couple that with free will and we can choose what to create.
Haven't we all created "stuff" from a word? Let's say that during that argument we chose to fall silent and NOT use hurtful words? Would domestic violence be as prevalent? What about the friend that we knew was hurting and we chose to speak an encouraging word? Would that thought of suicide in them dissipate?
Now let's dream BIG.....what about all our lives? Imagine manifesting the best possible life for our relationships, our children and the world with a word? What would you say to make that happen?
I choose the word LOVE.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Life is a bowl of cherries....

Happy New Year!!!

Woke up quiet. Lots of hugs and kisses showered my children who were sleeping like angels. We had THE BEST new year's eve ever! Hanging out with my best friend, his wife and kids was awesome! They stayed the night and the kids played and played until they passed out. The kids watched movies on the ceiling, built Legos, ROCKED OUT, played Wii, ran around the house playing hide and go seek, let their imaginations soar and just had good ol fashioned FUN!!! The four adults joined in all the reindeer games! When Wave got up in the morning he said, "I didn't know we were having a slumber party!" smile

We had a blast! With plenty to feast on and drink, no one had a care in the world and the time flew by. It was four in the afternoon New Year's eve when things started to wind down. Marz and his family had to get back on the road and make the exodus back to New York to get ready to bring in the New Year. The back roads got them home in record time. smile

THAT IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT....FAMILY! Instead of going to a party this year Stacy, the kids and I went to my Mommy's house to spend quality time together. We then went home and brought in the new year snuggled up saying "I love you" until the clock struck 12. So as I bring in the new year ready for my new journey of "the Year of Silence" the last words spoken in 2010 were "I love you" into the ears of my husband and children. Life truly is a bowl of cherries! smile