What I Need

What I need… to keep going? To hang on? To have hope? To be enthused? To be happy? To have my eyes pop open in the morning without dread? Something like that…  written only in the order that one leads to another, Not in order of priority. My children are my priority, and I am very clear about that.

(I wrote this first in 2008, and edited it for 2011. So much the same, so much has changed. In some ways very personal, but in other ways, universal. So that’s why I’m sharing it here.)

Uninterrupted time & physical space to MAKE ART: which, for me, gives me time to: feel freedom, meditate, attempt something transcendent, process my feelings, feel new feelings, dream, follow a train of thought where ever it goes, explore colors, connect my hands- eyes and mind, do something I am good at, invent, record and explore, think about my relationships with people, listen to music, and much more.

Recognition for my artwork: either by sales, shows, reviews, quality conversations with other art lovers about my work, or ?  Maybe to justify the resources I devote to the act of creating that I SO need.  But it is really satisfying to see all the artwork together, arranged correctly, with good lighting, in a big beautiful space, to see and hear people’s reactions. To meet someone who really connects with the work and wants to take it home. That’s like watching your child get married.

Family: to have healthy relationships with my sons, Wallace and Roland, and enjoy their company. To stay present with them on a daily basis so I can be kind and affectionate and not reactive. Adventure time, down time, one-on-one time, snuggle time, amidst the routines, the training and the hustle.  To create family through pets and the daily care of animals. To be the best mother I can be, I need everything else on this list so that I am whole.

Safety: to have reasonable expectations and boundaries with family so that I feel safe in the world. This means an absolute boundary with my family of origin, which means a self-imposed orphan state, which challenges the resources that my children need, but fortunately they have their wonderful father’s lovely family for that experience, sad they live so far away. That means I create family from my community of friends, and let them know that I really need their support, more than just as friends sometimes. I need to know that in an emergency, there are people who I can call and just say “help!” who immediately understand and respond.

Travel: to experience the wonder of our world. My immediate world is so lovely I forget to leave it.  Travel gives me things to look forward to in the year, and touchstones to look back upon when remembering a place or an adventure.

Health: to maintain good health. To have food I enjoy procuring, cooking and eating, and feel good about the source and safety of it. To feel comfortable in my skin. To balance atlantic drugs online different kinds of exercise to stay engaged and invigorated.  This means buying food from reliable sources, trips to farmers markets, having time to prepare food I’m inspired to cook, dancing, gym workouts, biking, yoga, walking. To get enough sleep to be sane and not cranky, which means improving my insomnia.

Connection: to interact with people I care about. To spend enough time with them to feel that I know them. To help them with life’s ups and downs, and feel connected to a set of people in the world. To share my excitements with my terrors with friends, and to feel comfortable doing so. To have relationships that I trust, so that if things get bumpy, the relationships will endure and hopefully we will grow closer from working through things. To have a sense of who my true friends are, to adore difficult people while not allowing them to abuse my generosity and tolerance, and to really enjoy my easy friends.  To keep contact with friends far away, even though I’m sad they are not here. To notice new people I meet who might be future friends.

Adventure: to experience new and amazing things in the world, from unexpected conversations to beauty in nature. I need to PLAY, to feel surprise and wonder at the natural and social world.  To feel the surprise of another person’s energy and the unique connection shared by only the two of us, through words, ideas, dance or touch. To see great art in museums, to notice a beautiful insect. To try new food.

Books: to read good books and have good books to look forward to reading. It is amazing how excited I get about a good novel, challenging myself with non-fiction, and having a stack of books to anticipate. Reading and studio time are my best ways to get the next thing on my list:


Security: the security that I have is hard-earned. I built an empire with my ex-husband, and now I am rebuilding. I am so grateful for my awesome house, life experience, and persistence. But I need some base level income to build from, either adjunct teaching, or new business income, so that art sales are a bonus. Working hard on that right now.

Clean and organized environment. Easy. I’m good at that.

Intimacy: Touch, love, affection, playfulness, and full sensual body experience. There’s only one thing I know of where I am fully in all my senses at once, sex.  Partner dancing is the next best thing.

Gratefulness: I’m sure there are lots of things I could add that I have, but because I have them and they are in no threat of drying up, I’m not noticing them right now. Part of how I spend time being thankful is to write.

I have a little tiny post-it on my desk that reads: Enjoy family, Enjoy friends, Make art, See wonderful things, Read books, Health, Security, Touch


This weekend I had time at the ranch when I got to be deliciously alone. I am only there as a guest of gracious people who share their place in the Texas hill country with me. They are not there. I am alone. I am unselfconscious, which is the wrong set of syllables strung together. I was only self: no ego, no gender, no age, no class, no status, no relationship, no responsibility, no need. Not the object of eyes, judgment or witness. I was entirely self, entirely conscious. I was outside of shame. I was alone, unobserved, and as safe as I could possibly be on private land in nature.

Rocky Creek Farm

Walking and running at will on a path in a field, alongside a stream, startling small animals. Observing a feral tom hunt a field mouse or bird. A turtle saw me first and submerged. Shame comes where can i buy tramadol online from outside of self. It is a hook into a raw and tender place that makes us contort around it. It is like a thorn embedded in skin, unnoticeable until poked or even gently brushed, unbearable to stand upon, if it is in your foot, then the sharpest stabbing pain from a tiny object barely visible, which can infect and fester.

My therapist once said people’s motivations were usually traced to the avoidance of shame. I can understand why.

I need a regular experience of solitude, of safety in nature, of self, alone and conscious. Shameless and perfect, simply as a creature under the sky, with my feet on the ground, using my senses to experience the world, to simply be alive, breathe, and inhabit my body. Rooted, mobile, breathing, listening, looking. Active: not the silence of meditation, but the noise of the world flowing through my experience of it.

Life Without Love

“West Wind, #2” poem by Mary Oliver

You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But, listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me. Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine atlantic drugs online coupon days unburied. When you hear, a mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the water as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the sharp rocks–when you hear that unmistakable pounding–when you feel the mist on your mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plunging and steaming–then row, row for your life toward it.

Adios, Fiesta

Fiesta in the dunes

Today, I bought running shoes. When I wake up in the morning and she’s not there, at least I can go out the door and run. For the last five years, walking out the door, without her, with my running shoes on, meant betraying my girlfriend who had become too old to run. She was a track star, a gorgeous athlete, in her prime. You should have buy ativan online pharmacy seen that girl run. She soared like a gazelle. She would lap the other fast dogs and laugh at them. She used to hurdle over headstones at Oakwood Cemetery chasing squirrels. Quick as a whippet, royal as a borzoi.

Yes, all dogs have a job. For a great while, her job was running, but that job became too hard on her body. Her real job was teaching me grace. Thank you, Nutty.

Side view of Green Romanesco Chair

Collaborative Functional Art

Jen in Studio, 2008, by Rodolfo Gonzalez

In the Studio

Studio fisheye
Studio fisheye by Corey Ryan

Painting. Wood. Metal. Concrete. Plaster.

There is never a lack of materials or mediums in my studio. It is full of systems that facilitate my work and store tools and supplies. I keep media charts, color charts, a stocked cart of oil paint, brushes, papers, panels, a scrapbook of working images, a journal, flat files, drying rack, hand tools, hardware and supplies.

There is never a lack of color. I use Williamsburg Paints, a very atlantic drugstore high quality real pigment oil paint, usually on gesso layered Ampersand Art panels. I hand mix all kinds of paint and media to enjoy the variety of qualities of translucence, density, texture and viscosity that each of these pigments express.

Process of casting Romanesco broccoli in rubber molds
Process of making Pumpkin Sink in concrete and steel

King Kahn

“So learning is a kind of inspiration. The inspiration to express is all of art. It has to do with the seekings of nature to express that which is fundamentally inexpressible. It is impossible to express love, hate, nobility, and integrity. Those qualities which are really, you might way, the raison d’etre of man’s living. The reason for man’s living is to express. And art is his medium. All of science is a servant of art. Science deals with what is; art deals with what is not. But rich in every way, science wants to be expressed, and inspired by the feelings, of nobility, feelings of integrity, and love. ”  Louis Kahn

How to Decide How Much to Tell About Yourself…

–How to Decide How Much to Tell About Yourself On Your Blog—  is a blog entry by –Penelope Trunk, on her blog, Brazen Careerist–. I respect her writing and her honesty.

Exerpt from that post:

“So today, when I have a natural instinct to keep something a secret, I think to myself, ‘Why? Why don’t I want people to know?’ Because if I am living an honest life, and my eyes are open, and I’m trying my hardest to be good and kind, buy cialis 10mg online then anything I’m doing is fine to tell people.

That’s why I can write about what I write about on this blog.

And when you think you cannot tell someone something about yourself, ask yourself, ‘Really, why not?’”

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Phoebus

“Do you believe there is any truth in this story?”

“There is no truth at all in the story, Your Honor.”

“So the English name their warships after falsehoods?”

“The truth of a myth, Your Honor, is not its words but its patterns.”


Today is the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year. It is the beginning of the holiday season where most everyone disappears into family time. They look within, and to their loved ones, and show up to participate in the crazy intimacy of family dynamics.

For me, it is the anniversary of my father’s death. Today I think about grief and its affect on my life. My father’s father, the Colonel, was hospitalized for some time and died when my father was eight. My dad’s entire life was marked by that grief which crippled him emotionally. He was not really available for me to attach to, though I loved him very much.

In honor of my dad this buy tramadol without a prescription morning, I was riding on the back of a horse on a trail ride near Austin. My father was a cowboy. He loved western swing music and animals and being outside. He could yodel to “Long Gone Lonesome Blues.” The longest physical contact I ever had with him as a kid was on horseback, sharing a saddle with him, and trail riding so long I fell asleep against him.

Today I am in conversation about grief, about endings, and hope that as the days grow lighter, I am present for my children and able to ground them through daily intimacy.