Lunar Reflections | catacosmosis

I often stare at the moon, reflecting on the things that are in progress in my life. I’ve always done this, even as a child. It’s as though she understands.

“The moon is a loyal companion.

It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human.

Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”

—Tahereh Mafi

Hey y’all. What’s going on in the world of WP?

I’m just gonna put it all out there like it is. I have not been very good at keeping up with this site. I’ve been struggling to keep up with ANYTHING. But clearly, with the new year, it’s societally correct to “start over.” I’m not doing that – I’m just gonna work on the “continuing” of things.

My idea is to simply post.  I have NO plan as to scheduling, post content, or anything else (although I would like to share more of my music here, thanks to the inspiration and advice of my incredibly talented and successful friends Vincent Corver and Andrew Huang).

The best I can do is try to give myself the time and the space I deserve to express myself – that’s been a huge part of what’s been holding me back in the past year. I got back on Facebook for a minute but I just can’t deal with Facebook. There’s no point in trying to share artistically there, and everything else (personal page related) is a great big political downer. I finally just deactivated because I’m so sick of Trump just the mention of his name makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit and almost go into a panic attack.

So. I’ve been focusing on sharing creative links (my own and those of others) via Twitter and Instagram the past couple of days, with a lot more interaction and a lot more friendliness. And now, here I am. Just ready to dump some music and photos and words on ya. Kind of like the old me used to do. I like the old me pretty much the way she was. 😉

With that, I’m gonna shout out my friend Andrew Huang here by sharing one of his recent releases with you and ask you to check it out, and stay tuned for more of my own creative outbursts, as they come.

Thanks for sticking around. Happy new year, y’all. Wishing the best of everything to and for everyone.

Much love,

C.

My friend Dawn shared a video that touches on something that I have been considering and trying to figure out how to express for a long time. Thank you so much for sharing this, Dawn. I have had SUCH turmoil in my spirit for SO long about the things shared in this video – and now, that’s just gone.

Before 2015, and even for a short time after my father died – while I was still in denial – I was who and what Dawn expresses throughout this video. I believed. I didn’t believe in religion – I had already fought my battles with that and overcome and undone the hold religion had had on me as a child and teenager, because of the way it was so misused and so abusive and manipulative. I had not (and still have not) completely overcome the trauma of that abuse, but I am much farther down the road of recovery. I didn’t believe in “that” God – but in the Source. A higher power. An energy. And I believed in signs.

I believed in our ability as humans to connect with higher spiritual energies and forces and to receive guidance and to guide others. I knew that I had a gift and that I always had – I was able to understand that part of the reason I was so strongly opposed to religion was that I had always been more connected to that source than to buildings and books and that the source was found in the natural world that I had adored and revered throughout my life. I believed in the power of nature to heal, to guide, to teach, and to comfort. I believed in life, and not death.

I had faith – so much faith. I was positive and more happy and at peace with life and with myself than I had ever been, and all just felt right. Real. And yes, peaceful, even in times of pain and struggle. Even though I was at this place and knew I had been awakened and was living with my eyes and my heart open, I struggled with the physical complication of depression and anxiety – not because I didn’t believe in good or higher power or whatever you want to label it but because my body didn’t manage its chemicals very well.

When my best friend was diagnosed with cancer, and I was going through a loss of a different kind along with that terrifying and excruciating experience with my best friend, I held fast to my faith despite the creeping depression. My father died unexpectedly one week after the one year anniversary of her diagnosis with terminal cancer, and I continued to hold fast, knowing that he had been prepared and ready for his own death for some time. He had struggled and suffered for many years, and though his death was unexpected (diabetic coma leading to stroke and then to the sepsis which eventually shut down his body one organ at a time over the course of five days), he was at rest. At peace.

For another 8 months my best friend fought and struggled and suffered, and I was there. I was there until she pushed me away and asked me not to be. She did this with many, to be fair – she was afraid, she lost her ability to cope, and instead of realizing t was a brain tumor and fear speaking for her I believed it was what she really wanted and thought I was respecting her wishes. Weeks went by and during this time my faith began to waiver and my grip began to loosen on that rope that had always held me through those difficult times. She passed away 8 months to the day that we buried my father, and in that moment, part of my soul quite literally died along with her.

Since then I have struggled. I slipped so far down that taking my own life was an option and something I planned out and would have followed through with and completed had something inside me not spoken up and cried out to my husband for help. I don’t know why that happened, aside from my fear of leaving my son without a mother and destroying him, but it did happen and because of his help, and my willingness to fight a really fucked up system, I was able to finally get the help and the medication that I desperately needed. I still struggle. I still rarely leave my home. But in so many ways, I AM better.

In the spiritual areas, though? I have continued to struggle the hardest there. To founder. To nearly drown only to be held afloat by the tiniest life preserver with the thinnest thread attaching it to me. That life preserver has been comprised of my son, of music, of art and photography, and my unwillingness to just pretend like I’ve been ok. I found more strength in vulnerability and allowing myself to share my reality than in “faking it.” Only through doing that was I able to cross paths with some of the most healing people I’ve had touch my life in the past year. People who have encouraged me to continue to share and to have faith and hope, if not in healing, and the possibility of mending and growing and learning to live with the ache of grief, loss, and the “not understanding” or not having the answers or the closure I thought I needed.

Dawn has always been one of those people, and I am so grateful. Even though Dawn and I may be on slightly different paths in career and life in general in many ways, we also share things in common that connect us in very special ways – cancer, loss, grief, “the struggle,” seeking the way (whatever that may be for each of us) – and, what she expresses here about “giving it all away” is so accurate and in tune with where I am…

And that is the other issue that’s been weighing on me: the issue of why I give away (or dump out, as someone once said to me, and I can’t help but laugh at that because it’s so close to true so much of the time) so much stuff – just give it away with no real concern about marketing it or branding it or selling it. “Why do you just give all this creativity and energy away for free? You don’t even try to gain followers or build your brand.”

Because…I don’t want to. I create for the same reason that I breathe. I don’t WANT to make money from it. Making money from it takes away the spiritual connection and soul that I want to express. I LIKE giving myself away, as it were. I LIKE sharing myself and my creative stuff.

I used to like working on computers and tinkering and writing weird programs and so on, and then when I let people convince me to turn it into a career the heart got lost. It became stress. The same thing happened with my photography. I let people convince me to “work harder” and to get into shows and to build a site to sell it and so on, and it became stress instead of joy.

I don’t need to sell these things and I don’t want to sell them. I don’t feel like they can be valued by a price tag and that if they are then it somehow takes away from the true value of what is there. You can’t put a price tag on peace – your own or anyone else’s. It is PRICELESS. And if anything I have to offer can bring that to me or to anyone who shares in my creative endeavors, it’s absolutely worth the “freedom” – at many levels.

Ultimately, as Dawn shares, it’s healing for me to “give it away” because it’s healing for me to create – it’s my PURPOSE to create. I’m going to create regardless and if I feel that giving it away and even just possibly being of help to someone else, even if inadvertently, can be a part of that process…well, why shouldn’t that be free? A lack of monetary value doesn’t make that worth nothing. At least, not in my soul…

Sharing is priceless. It helps me to believe – and it helps me to believe even more when other people cross paths with me via my creative sharing and say, “hey, I believe, too!” or better yet, “hey, I know the struggle so well but I’m hanging on, too. Let’s hang on together. Let’s learn together. Let’s share. Let’s grow together.” Those people exist. Many of you who are regular readers of my blogs, or listeners of my music, or followers of my photography, have shared with me that you are those people.

While I love that others find success in selling their creativity and I even often purchase it from them, it’s just not something I want to do with the things I share creatively online. I need that connection – at least right now, that connection is worth far more to me than money ever will be. I want to be better. I am, at this time, extremely blessed to be able to survive and work on becoming better and not worry whether there will be food in our mouths or clothes on our backs or a roof over our heads without me having to sell my soul to cover it. I am so thankful for that – for my family.

I’m SO grateful that Dawn’s shared this and that it’s available for me to share with you. This has been on my heart for so long and I’ve not been able to figure it out until now. Thank you again, Dawn. So much!!

I encourage you to watch Dawn’s video and listen to her story, which you can do by clicking here. In many ways – especially the spiritual things she speaks about – it mirrors who I was and who I am re-becoming. It inspires me to continue to seek my own heart and hear it, as well as that of whatever this higher power has to offer me.

I hope that you will find some inspiration or encouragement in it, as well…

All the love,

C.

Oh dear. The things you come across thanks to digital technology and usb drives.

Disclaimer #1: I HOPE that this is the worst sound quality I will EVER upload. There is no way I could ever recreate the horrific-ness that is this recording.

Disclaimer #2: My guitar playing does not sound this bad in real life.

Believe

Guitar recorded into GarageBand, percussion and synth added in GarageBand

Image courtesy of Google

The Backstory

This is the first song I ever (tried) to record. I had no idea what I was doing with GarageBand. I no longer have access to the original GarageBand file for this. I deleted it and have never shared this because it was SUCH CRAP quality. I have a reason for sharing it now, though.

I have since learned many things, not the least of which is to invest in a midi controller or a quality recording mic if you want to record your guitar playing and not to use the built in mic on your computer. You work with what you’ve got, though, and that’s what I had (and still have if I want to record my own guitar).

I also learned that using the pedal I used with this was a no-no for raw recording. It sounds like a dying cat in this file. Baha! 😂

So, anyway, back to the story. I was trying to learn to use GarageBand and so I tried to mimic some of the sounds I was hearing in some of the GarageBand instrument loops and managed to (sort of) play by ear this guitar track and record it into the app. I then added percussion and synth loops with the guitar bits to create a full song.

Let’s be honest: it’s not all that good. It kinda…well…sucks. But THAT’S OK! That’s the whole point of sharing this.

I came across this video I made of the song and laughed so hard at myself. I decided that I wanted to share this as an example of how you never stop learning, and how practice will never make perfect because we are human but it DOES make you better.

I thought I’d deleted every single attempt I had made to make this recording work – I even tried a noise reduction software and it was so noisy that there was hardly any sound left when it was finished converting.

Listening to it now? The song itself was not bad. It was just that I had no idea what I was doing with the tools I had to work with and I gave up trying with this song because I didn’t believe in myself, and now I don’t even remember how the song goes.

I tend to create stuff on the fly with guitar. I never write down chords or score anything, I just fool around and play what sounds nice and try to create something out of it.

Lesson number three from this for me was to always make notes of what you’re doing because two years down the road you will NOT remember how you did it or what you did unless you write it down. Dorie always used to say, when we were working on servers or computers, “WRITE IT DOWN. You’re gonna regret it if you don’t write it down, I guarantee you.”

Well. That applies to lots of things in life, and making music is one of them.

Ultimately, the point is this: if you wanna make music, make music. Just start. Don’t be afraid of it sounding bad – you will only learn from what you do wrong and the more you screw up the better you will be (and the more comfortable you will be with it).

That, too, is true regarding lots of things in life – if not life itself. Don’t be afraid. Just do it. Believe in yourself.

I know. “You hardly leave the house, what are you talking about – don’t be afraid and just do it?” That’s what you’re saying to yourself if you know me or follow my blog. Truth is, yes, I’m still working on that in general. It’s still not progressing very far; nonetheless, I’m working on it.

But, I believe it’s worth using your own flaws to try to help someone else while you’re trying to help yourself. I do that with my kid all the time. I have an 8 year old who thinks he is 17. The internet no longer scares or intimidates me. Heh… 😉

Now then, I’m gonna eat my 10PM yogurt and take my night pills and leave you with this: it will not hurt my feelings if you’re sitting there laughing, or cringing as (if) you listen to/read this. I know you are. I see you cringing. Cringe on. We all gotta start somewhere. 😂✌️👌

**it really will sound less cringe-y if you use headphones.

Today I received the most unexpected “thank you” note. It’s said, “thank you for sharing your story with me,” and had a nice note alongside that spoke about art and creativity and the healing of trauma, grief and broken spirits.

I want to thank YOU, for much the same thing.

I think we often forget that a person’s art IS their story – regardless of the type of art they create – and that’s where I’ve focused my mind this afternoon. When we create any kind of art, even when it’s not a piece of writing that “explains” what’s in our minds, we are actively releasing SOMETHING. Whether it is good or bad, whether it is joy or pain, beauty or darkness, we are actively expressing our hearts in any creative endeavor that we are a part of.

I truly appreciate the kind feedback here, at Instagram, and all the other places. I appreciate YOUR art and stories so much. It’s a wonderful way to remember that we are really all the same, just living our own stories…even when we aren’t sharing our own out loud.

Thank you for the kind response to my sharing of my music. I was really very unsure whether it was “worth” sharing, since I only create it as a hobby. Turns out it’s much like my experience with sharing photography and writing – people enjoy other people’s art, they enjoy SEEING another human being, and you get to know other people who create the same kinds of art, whether it’s photography or writing or music…

I’ve enjoyed “meeting” so many different people since I started putting that stuff out there. It’s a blessing to get to know and learn from you.

It’s always been one of my greatest joys to share my creative pursuits and my spirit with the world. Thank you for encouraging and reminding me how important it is for a creative person and artist of any kind to do that.

I’m thankful for, and blessed by, you. Keep expressing yourselves in your ways, too. And stay awesome.

All the love,

C. 💜

Hi there. Hope you’re doing well…

I have been hoarding Mextures formulas again, as I’ve spent most of winter messing around with the app but I’ve not shared much in the way of the creations or the formulas for a while. Hope you’ll forgive my selfishness as I’ve dealt with “winter stuffs.” It’s been quite a winter – warm on the outside, bitter cold and frightening on the inside. I digress…

Alas, here we are moving into spring and here are some of those formulas. Hope you’ll enjoy them.

**Please remember that blend modes of layers (and the layers themselves) may require tweaking depending on the light/style/tone of your image and they will not necessarily look exactly the same on your images as they do in the provided versions.**

If you have any questions about Mextures or using formulas, feel free to ask them in comments or via e-mail or social media/messaging.

Have a lovely day out there.

Art on, friends.

**The four following images were used with permission, via Unsplash’s free use image gallery**


Mextures Formula:  NAXJIHC

Snapseed

Mextures Formula:  BNWWATN

Snapseed

Mextures Formula:  XRVSQLB

Snapseed

Mextures Formula:  TCYTFKH

And here is one more, for good measure as we head into spring (from my own gallery)…

Snapseed

Mextures Formula:  YUXPHNJ

It’s been a weird several days. Aside from life being life, I am basically at a loss for what I want to share as far as subject matter of images, or how I want to share them – especially on my photography blog and on my social media platform of choice (Instagram). I mean, I don’t like the random. It feels too chaotic. I like things to sort of “match” and to blend and flow. I’m into themes (you can probably decipher that if you look at my Instagram profile as a whole for the past several weeks of posts). It’s got something to do with symbolically maintaining a bit of control of myself and my life.

I feel a lot of panic lately. I feel a lot of panic in general but my death panic is the worst part of it. My death panic is BAD lately. Not just my death panic for myself (I’m not afraid of death, but of leaving my son without a mother), but also my death panic about my mom (who, even though we are…not the best of friends, is my only living relative left), death panic about friends, death panic about my son’s family and him facing grief. It’s like all the loss has caught up with my mind and the CPTSD stuff is not helping.

I’m oversharing again, as I do. This is why I have a blog. Sigh.

I’m trying to think and exist in a positive space. I’m focused a lot on my illness and restoring my physical health (new probiotics in the mail!!). I’m also spending a lot of time planning the food I’ll grow this season and preparing my raised beds and backyard for all those grand ideas. That helps. It’s good to hang out in the outdoors in shorts and tshirt and get dirty and sweat already. I like that a lot. I didn’t think I was ready for winter to end this year. I WAS WRONG. Nope, still not a winter person.

I digress (as usual). Here’s where I was going to begin with:  Sometimes my thoughts feel like they are (almost) literally flying around in my head. It’s like this very demanding, exhausting experience of what feels like mental gymnastics to try to flip and bend, leap and stretch, desperately trying to both understand what all these thoughts mean and how they entertwine, and to somehow make something graceful out of it because otherwise it’s just going to be an extremely tangled and not very asthetically pleasing mess. Nobody likes a tangled, un-asthetically pleasing mess, especially if it is one inside their mind that they have to carry around all day, every day.

Sometimes there are so many thoughts, encompassing such a vast expanse of ideas and issues, that they seem to crash into each other and meld into a fleeting fusion of momentary wonder and I really have no full idea what they have actually become before they disintegrate into the mental exhaustion that envelopes me from trying to sort and understand them. It’s a bit depressing, really. When that happens I feel so…unintelligent, incapable, and silently swallowed. If I can’t express my thoughts – my words – then I am silent, and when I am silent I feel like I can’t breathe.

It’s not a need to express myself and be read or heard, necessarily. It’s just expressing in general, whether it is in a private journal I keep or the notepad on my phone that nobody ever sees, or a blip of an Instablog on Instagram or a full blog post here. It doesn’t matter if anyone sees it (much less understands it). It’s just getting it out. What matters is that I am understanding myself. That’s what this entire blogging/instablogging/online conversation is about for me – that, which is where my writing comes from: the depths of my being; and, it is about hoping someone else finds inspiration or support of some kind as I make my way through my now.

So, when I find myself left in silence, it’s because I am not understanding myself and I can not find or even create the words necessary to do so. In a general sense, that has never bothered me; recently, it has become unacceptable for me. In the last few years this experience has come to create a choas and a discomfort within me. I hate it. But what I have found in the last few years is that in those times the words are not what are important. It’s the feelings – and sometimes there just aren’t any words that are appropriate. Feelings are a language all their own, and I am reconnecting with that, within myself.

It’s especially complicated on the days after nights when I haven’t been able to sleep. It’s a consistent – perhaps chronic – theme for me lately, this not being able to sleep. Not being able to sleep means that a) I have this plethora of constantly running ideas and thoughts and feelings overwhelming me and b) I’m forever exhausted and being exhausted does NOT help me to cope with the mind noise that is always there. I always try to write it away, and for years and years (most of my life) that has worked. It works better than music, better than meditation, better than escaping into a book…writing is what works best for me. So why can’t I write now, when I so desperately need my writing and to break my silence? I don’t know.

What’s changed? What’s happening? Most of my followers/people I actually have gotten to know and have followed ANYWHERE online have long since wandered away from the different sites and forums. So have I. I’m no longer on Facebook, post on deviantART about once every six years, blog about once a month (except for this blog, which I started this year for the precise reason of thinking that a fresh, new slate would open new possibilities for my inspirations and my creative drive), and I am even getting really sparse with my posts on Instagram, which is a complete shock to even me.

I don’t know what changed, really. It’s been a very slow decline for YEARS – after having my son in 2009 I just kind of…fell away from the world in general. I was too busy for anything else. Then, I got myself involved in a whole bunch of exquisitely beautiful crazy that brought me back to my creativity and desire to be expressive (gotta be grateful for having a muse cross your path), but then my dad died in July 2015. At that point, I was foundering… When my best friend Dorie died of cancer in March of last year (March 22, 2016), I just kind of died along with her in a lot of ways.

There’s been SO MUCH DEATH and loss and destruction of me over the years – especially throughout Dorie’s cancer, because of the cancer and because of the things that were going on my life during that time. I am STILL trying to comprehend that period of my life. My creative side has always remained, and always continued to be my sanity, but lately I find myself in a desperate struggle to express it. It’s not even that I fail because I try to force it. I don’t even have the oompf  to do that.

I tried to start over on dA and created a new account and everything, but I never use it. No one really connected to it – no one was really left there that I knew anyway… I have taken up with the Instagram community, and that’s mostly where I share my photos at this point, and has been my hub for about two years now. It’s really easy to share my photos with my mobile devices there, and I rarely touch my computer anymore except to blog. Instagram is convenient. There are also a lot of friends there who help me through the ups and downs of grief, cptsd, anxiety, panic, and my celiac diagnosis… I appreciate them, but I haven’t even been active there for the last week and my activity for the last few months there has been sparse, to say the least. I don’t know what’s going on, really.

I’m not in a creative slump. I just feel like there’s too much whirling around in my head. I can’t sort it. I can’t see any of it clearly enough to do anything useful with it. Dorie used to say,  “You’ve got to step outside the tornado.” It was kind of our little process, together. Step outside of the tornado, and start identifying and picking up the pieces, even as they still fell. That always worked amazingly, because we would help each other through that process. We both understood the process and how it worked so we didn’t even really have to talk to do it. It just happened. Now, she’s not here and I can’t seem to do it on my own. Not effectively or efficiently, anyway. My last post, where I shared about deleting my past, was the most effective way that I could step outside the tornado. I managed that part. But even though the mind noise has become quieter, I don’t know what to do with what I’m observing about myself.

I feel like I’m stuck in this weird, empty limbo. I don’t even know why I’m choosing to share this because I know that the likelihood is that it makes little to no sense. I suppose the point is that I’m grasping for straws and just hoping for something useful and solid to grab onto. I think it’s safe to say that in a very general sense the year 2016 sucked for EVERYONE. I feel like that’s carried over into 2017 with my newest life situation – my mother has begun the fall into dementia and that’s very hard to deal with. Caring for her is the hardest thing I’ve ever done because we don’t even like each other. That cptsd thing I mentioned before is rooted in my childhood with my mother.

It’s all very stressful and emotional and I think the truth is that I’m just exhausted. I’m exhausted from figuring out and dealing with life without my Dad or Dorie here to be my guides. But, we all eventually face that time where “we’re it.” You know what I mean? It’s hard. It’s doable though – we’ve been doing this for thousands and thousands of years, right? The cycles, the whole “life” thing. Life on life’s terms – I cringe to say that phrase but it’s the truth…

Alas, I hope YOU are all doing much better than I feel like I am doing with my life in 2017. I hope 2017 is treating you kindly. I hope you are still feeling inspired and driven and still making art, whether with words or paints or cameras or your hands…whatever medium you’re into. I’m not feeling very present today, so I admittedly have no idea who is doing what, where, or how – especially not those I have lost touch with online or in real life… But I do think of everyone I “know” every so often, and I find myself thinking, “I miss the ‘old days…'”

I will end my “catchup post” here, as my cat’s snoring is taunting me to rest (and my tired muscles, after having worked in the gardens all morning and early afternoon – I’m so unfit since winter, but working on it!). Hope you’re all doing well and having a lovely start to your week! Much love and happy arting…

C.