My New Hang-out

Pahoa, where I’m staying in Hawaii, is a very small town. Does not get much smaller than this. Does not get much more beautiful than this, either.

The Tin Shack is a local cafe, with delicious food, and the best coffee. For instance, their poached eggs, with pesto, purple potatoes, and gluten free toast is to die for. These particular purple potatoes are, I believe, what Poi is made out of. It(Poi) really isn’t as bad as you might expect, given all the rumors! I actually quite like it.

The Tin Shack is literally a tin shack, with bright blue and orange painted on the inside walls, and surfboards hanging strategically over customers heads. It sits just off the main road in Pahoa central, and is very open and breezy. I’m sitting at a table outside, covered by an overhang, as rain is no stranger to this place. In front of me are a row of parked cars. Slightly past those cars is a field made up of very long, nearly lime green grasses. It’s surrounded on one side by palm trees.

Watch out for the falling coconuts! Seriously, it can be an issue here in Hawaii. I was told by what I believe was a reliable resource, that more people on the islands are killed by falling coconuts, than by sharks. Comforting. Especially given that I grew during the ‘Jaws’ years. I was totally scarred by that movie. At least now, I’ll go into swimming a swimming pool…

They have the best coffee here, as well as homemade Kombucha-Basil flavored today. Surprisingly it is tasty, and it’s shaping up my intestinal flora, with each gulp I take.

I will later attempt to add pics. I’ve been having technical issues, and I’m certainly no Techie.

Aloha!

Somehow I’ve Survived

My birthdays have often been hard for me to take. They have this way of reminding me of what I’ve done over the past year, and of what I haven’t done.

Yesterday was not only my birthday, but I hit the half-century mark. Close to impossible for me to believe.

As a child, I remember thinking of anyone older than 17 as ancient. I didn’t know then that most of the adults around me, probably were in shock at how quickly their lives were passing.

I think of my mom and dad, when I was 8 years old, and Matthew was 4. My mom was 30, and my dad was 34. My mom was a baby when she had me! I think of myself at the age of 22, and I cannot imagine having had a child at that time. Not that I’ve been able to imagine having a child at any time…

I had a fantastic birthday. I went snorkeling from 9 am to 12 pm, off the coast of Kona. I hadn’t known in advance that I’d be traveling in a small speedboat, at high speeds, over choppy waters. Thankfully, I remembered to pop some Dramamine tabs.

The captain took us out quite far, stopping when he noticed some dolphins coming our way. He had us don our snorkeling gear, sit on the edge of the boat-which was inflated rubber, and drop into the deeps at the count of 3.

I could see the bottom of the ocean where we were, but not very well. I can’t even guess at how deep it actually was. A little bit of fear rose up in me, as I wondered if there were any hungry sharks around.

About 10 dolphins swam by us, on that first hop into the ocean. They were obviously on a journey together, but there were a few stragglers. The waters weren’t real clear, but they were at times close enough for me to see well. One swam on her back, with a calf atop her tummy. It was enchanting.

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We also went to a marine sanctuary where coral lined the the rock walls of the cove we were in. Fish were everywhere. The trumpet fish is one of my favorites. I saw only one of them. They are long, slender, and a silvery yellow color. They swim very close to the surface, so the light bounces off of them and sets them aglow.

I heard that this bay has some reef sharks. I kind of wanted to see one. They stay there until they grow into bigger animals, hiding in caves in the rocks down low. Apparently, they tend to be quite shy.

I was going to stay in Kona that night, but decided to splurge and stay in a resort in Waimea, which is further along the coast, and has beautiful white sand beaches. I’d never been there before.

I booked myself into a place, called the Hapuna Prince Beach Hotel. I paid enough for the room, but didn’t initially realize that I was only able to afford it, because major construction work was going on. My room was gorgeous and large.

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It had a deck with a table and chairs, and a lounge chair on it. The view was incredible.img_3956

Somehow, being alone for the entire day-or at least without a close friend or family member to share my experiences with, didn’t bother me as much as I’d expected. I believe I’ve finally learned to enjoy my own company. Quite an accomplishment for me.

I thought a lot about what I want for the year. Rosh Hoshanah, or the Jewish New Year, also fell on my birthday this year. We eat apples and honey on this day, to ensure a sweet year to come.

I did some journal writing. I guess what I want most is to be happy, and healthy, and wise. Not that those three always go together… I’d like to be a better person. I understand that each of us is flawed in our own ways, and struggling to find meaning in life. I’d like to continue painting, and being prolific. I want to write more.

Mostly, I want to remember how special my birthday was. How fortunate I am to have spent so much time here on the big island of Hawaii. I want to be able to access these memories,  as much as possible when I am feeling low, or even depressed.

My youth was not a happy one. It seems that as I get older, I get closer to that elusive state of being called joyousness. I hope that I will continue in this direction. That I will continue to focus on my strengths, the good people in my life, and all that I have to be grateful for. This has not always been easy for me to do. This year, I’m going to give it my best try.

Emotions Are So Taxing!

So today something very exciting and encouraging happened to me. I got an email from the manager at the Ashland Art Center, telling me that my work had been accepted to show at the gallery there. I was thrilled! This is huge for me.

I posted this on Facebook soon after I read the email. I even texted several friends about it. Mostly, I got enthusiastic responses, and congratulations.

Why is it then, that the one person who did not respond at all to my good news, ended up making me feel rotten?

For some reason, though I expected as much, I was set off by not receiving a ‘great!’, or ‘Happy for you!’, or some other acknowledgment of my accomplishment, from this man.

I’ve known him for a very long time. I am aware that he isn’t particularly supportive, and that he often ignores my texts.

It bothers me that I put myself out on the limb for him, waiting for his approval. That when I don’t get it, it affects me hugely.

It’s like I’m expecting a miracle will occur, and he’ll transform into a different person.

I don’t want to give my power away anymore. Because I want some kudos from him so badly, when I don’t get them, I feel crushed.

I’m not going to harp at myself, or criticize myself for these yearnings. But it’s important for me to be aware, that about 9 times out of 10, I’m let down emotionally by this guy.

I’d like to accept that he is NEVER going to be the person I’d like him to be, and that I can’t depend on him to lift my spirits, or to be a good friend. This will be the focus of some of my work for my 50th year.

How can I expect him to be for me, something that he’s never been able to be for himself?

Woefully Deficient

So, I am half joking with this title. I understand that because I deal with physical and, sometimes emotional problems, life can be a bit of a challenge for me.

I will start by commending myself for making my first healthy, Vegan meal, since I got here one week ago. Hoorah for me!

Now to get into some of the more self critical, judgmental thoughts that I carry inside me.

Why is it so fucking hard for me to be organized? I feel like the part of the brain that is used for multi-tasking and organizational skills, is absent, in my case.

I’m fine, if all I have to do is paint. Or, if all I have to do is write. But I get really confused when I need to combine everything all together. Planning, you say? How?

Sorry. My blood sugar is very low, because my meal isn’t yet ready. My shorts are beginning to sag around my waist and fall off-which isn’t an entirely a bad things.

I think of my mother, who took care of Matthew and myself, two desperately sick children, while caring for my father, the house, meals, and more. I’m somewhat in awe of her abilities, to be frank. Not that I thought so much about it when I was a kid.

I get stuck in these ruts of behavior, that I find it very hard to extricate myself from. Like sitting on my phone and computer for several hours when I wake up in the morning. It’s shocking! And it doesn’t leave me feeling too terrific about life, or about myself.

I know that going off on myself doesn’t solve things, either. How can we be aware, and patient with ourselves, when it comes to making even what seems like the slightest of changes?

I suppose, at some level, I never have had to completely care for myself. Being so sick for so many years, I always had my mom there for me. Though I haven’t lived at home for ages, there is something in me that rebels at the thought of having order in my life. Some part of me fancies doing whatever I want, whenever I want.

It doesn’t feel good, and it doesn’t work.

One of my goals for my 50th year, is to take better care of my body. I’m not speaking of going to the gym, or anything drastic like that. I just want to eat healthier, and more regularly, and not zoom around in a hypoglycemic haze so much of the time.

Maybe I need to start with just one thing to change in my life. Adding anything more just weighs me down, and makes it hard for me to accomplish anything.

If we all focused on one thing in our lives, within our control(to some degree), that we feel we could do better, to serve ourselves better, we’d probably all get somewhere with that. At least some of us.

Despite my negative leanings, I am going to try this. I’ll get back to you about it, before I turn 51, next September.

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Escaping the Darkness

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I was sitting facing the night outside, and noticed my reflection on the window. The light above me is fairly bright, but it’s not illuminating my countenance enough to see me clearly.

Often, I feel like I cannot see myself as I really am. This dark fog inhabits my brain, and blurs my reality. The hardest thing for me during these depressive episodes is to remember that they will pass.

A big part of being depressed is this sense that my feelings will never change. That I will never feel any joy, or contentment, ever again.

It’s not rational, but hey, since when is emotional pain something you can reason with?

The house I’m staying in gets very hot inside. With my health issues, like fatigue that will not relent, I do not function well in intense heat. Lethargy overtakes me, and I head for the bed.

Getting myself out of bed, is a real challenge. I lie there, knowing that I will feel better, if I can push myself into standing position, and do something other than ruminating.

The sense of momentum that I believe most people experience normally, isn’t there at all, when I’m feeling down. Moving myself takes all of my focus, all of my energy. It’s as if bricks are setting on my shoulders, that go all the way up, up, up into the heavens.

I found an ad for a lovely home, on 8 acres of property, with a killer view of the ocean, today. I contacted the owners, and discovered that they live in Grants Pass, which is less than an hour from Ashland. Quite strange.

As usual, I’m questioning myself and my motives for considering moving yet again. I have one acquaintance here in Hawaii, and that’s it. I feel like something dark and heavy is chasing me. I can never quite see it. It hides when I turn to look at it.

I don’t mean to sound all doom and gloom. That’s just how I’m feeling at the moment. It’s amazing how my mood can bottom out when I’m exhausted.

I remind myself that I am in Hawaii. I tell myself that I have many gifts to be thankful for. I talk to myself incessantly, gently, trying to lift myself up.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Something about writing about my feelings has always been helpful to me. It’s like all of these thoughts banging around in my head have a place to go, and I don’t feel so burdened by them.

I need to figure out a theme for my blog, that doesn’t necessarily focus on my deepest feelings. Perhaps I am sharing more than I’d like to, with the 6 people who read my writing!

In the coming weeks, I’d like to reinvent this blog, and stay a little more focused on actions rather than ideas. I’ve always been a good thinker-I can think endlessly about problems, and come up with no solutions. Getting myself to act is much harder.

 

Vegan Cheese?

So, I’m here in Pahoa, eating gluten free, Vegan pizza, and sort of enjoying it. The pizza itself is somewhat questionable. The loud whistles and chirps of the Coqui frogs outside is wonderful. They are really loud, and inhabit the island by the millions. I’ve never before seen one, but I’ve heard them every night that I’ve spent on the Hilo side of Hawaii.

Unfortunately they are an invasive species, and being so, have totally invaded Hawaii. I just discovered that their chirping is to attract nice female frogs for mating.

I’ve been struggling more with depression recently than I have for a long time. A friend of mine who is an astrologer, told me that there is a lot of dark energies swirling through the universe and into the planet right now. She said that people that are highly sensitive pick up on this stuff. I thought this was an interesting explanation for my current mood, whether it’s true for me, or not.

Certainly, whatever the cause, it’s a difficult time for the people on this planet. I wouldn’t be surprised if the volcano here started spewing magma down the island in unprecedented volumes! At least it moves slow enough so that people can get out of it’s way…

Struggling with writing, too. Haven’t been able to get to it daily.

I have been painting though. I spent all day yesterday on a small canvas. It’s a gecko, but several friends saw a snake.

Am I shedding my old ways and habits?
gecko or snake?

I’d like to find a way to combine my art and writing together into a cohesive blog that has a sense of continuity to it. Don’t know if it will happen, but will try.

Adam’s Apple

I’m not sure which animal totem I’m most drawn to. I feel like there are merits and special qualities that typify each one.  I relate to different spirit animals at different times in my life.

Right now, I’m focused on the gecko, because of the Progressive car insurance ads. Just kidding.

I am doing sketches of geckos. One because I have only one canvas, which is kind of small. Two, because there are tons of them on this island. Three because I’ve seen quite a few of them, crawling up and down the walls of the house I’m presently staying in.

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I’ve been reading something about each animal that I draw and paint, before I get started. I believe that most of the subject matter that I’m using as reference material is loosely based on Native American spirituality. Or at least one aspect of it.

Being that I am a white, Jewish woman, I sort of wonder if I have a right to access this rich heritage. It kind of appears that the New-Age movement has taken information borne of many different cultures, and watered it down enormously. I would like to think that I’m better than this, but I’m not sure that I am.

Maybe I should think of some Yiddish term for the animals that I’m painting? Or, tie the Kabbalah into the titles? I don’t know if they’d sell as well, but perhaps that’s not the point. For whatever reasons, the Torah doesn’t get into Power Animals. They refer a great deal to cows, and other animals that were slaughtered as offerings to God, but that’s about it.

Of course there is also the story of Adam, Eve, and the serpent. In the New Testament, Jesus rides a donkey into Jerusalem(I think.) I don’t know a lot about Jesus, beyond the fact that he was a nice Jewish man who preached love and acceptance. There is also a lion somewhere in the bible. Somehow, I don’t find the bible to be inspiration for painting. I am not as inventive or gifted as Da Vinci, or Michelangelo.

Animals are so varied and interesting to paint. I am most inspired to attempt to capture the essence of each one. I think this is why the whole Power Animal theme appeals to me.

Geckos, for instance, are very quick, can fit into tight spaces, can survive all types of weather, and lose their tails when a predator catches hold of it. One of the things that I remember about Gecko’s as totems, is that if they cross your path, you are being urged to let go of something that is no longer useful to you. I don’t think this means a body part. I don’t think this means an old car, either.

I believe it’s about releasing old fears and behaviors that hold us back, and weigh us down in life. Easier said than done, right? Reading about these animals, and of their significance reminds me of deeper issues within myself. Maybe by painting them, and understanding them somewhat from a spiritual perspective, I am connecting with the eternal aspect of myself.

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Crushed Like A Cigarette Butt

When I was at U.C. Santa Cruz, in the art department, in the early nineties, I thought I was in heaven. I spent hours each day painting with oils, in the studio on campus. I worked very hard. I took my painting, sculpture, and mixed media classes very seriously. I wasn’t there just to play, as had been the case when I attended U.C. Santa Barbara right out of high school.

So, when I went to my evaluation, by a teacher I didn’t know, who decided whether or not students could move on to the upper division art classes, I felt confident. My small circle of friends who had been through the same process, had all gotten the okay to move forward into the more advanced art classes.

I don’t even remember her name. But the teacher who judged my work was in her 40’s, with long dark hair. She had the opportunity to take in several of my recent pieces. I was very excited about becoming an advanced student.

But, that didn’t happen. She declared that my work wasn’t developed enough. She seemed to feel joy when she shared this knowledge with me. My face fell to the earth. I was in shock.

She told me that I needed to take more beginning art classes, and that I wouldn’t be able to move on with my friends who had all received the okay with their own work.

This event absolutely crushed me. All of the teachers that I had taken classes with impressed upon this road block, that I was a serious student, who did very good work. They were incensed by her decision. She would not budge.

So, I proceeded to have a nervous breakdown, and left college, feeling ashamed and having the sense that I wasn’t the artist that I had imagined myself to be. I never finished college.

This woman appeared to revel in her position of power. I almost felt she was laughing at me internally, when she voiced her opinion of my work. I feel anger towards her still, and have thought of finding out who she was, and sending her a letter.

Though I’ve done drawing and painting since a young age, and that fed me more than anything else I’ve ever done, I stopped painting. I continued to work in other mediums, but have had intense insecurity over my level of talent.

Recently, a friend asked me to paint a turtle totem on his drum. I did so, and had a great time. I did a few sketches, then transferred one onto the drum. I painted it with acrylic paints.

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I had so much fun with this, that I decided to venture into another totem animal painting. My friend feels connected to the cheetah. This is more of a tiger, as I wanted to avoid all of the spots! She is purchasing it from me.

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This third piece I did, is a rat totem. A man who I have a terrible crush on, who is in a relationship, was born under this sign, on the Chinese Zodiac. I truly had fun with it. I was kind of surprised with how well it came out. Especially for someone who supposedly has little talent. It’s not completely finished, but it’s close.

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I am going to continue painting in this vein. I’ve decided that the best revenge is to keep painting, and perhaps even sell my work. That evil teacher came close to crushing me completely. I went through intense depression, in part resulting from her determination that I wasn’t adequate enough to be a serious painter. I even made several suicide attempts. I can’t blame this all on her, but she certainly didn’t help my self-esteem.

I am rising out of the rubble, and redefining myself. I’m very close to being half a century old. It’s taken a great deal of perseverance and soul-searching to get where I am today. My deepest joy and fulfillment will be to paint, and paint, and paint some more. Because this is my passion.