As I adjust to being home, I have been talking to friends and family about my trip. Choosing what I say – how much do I want to say (as in how much talking do I feel like doing), analyzing the effect it has had and will have on me and my work.
I think the single most important thing has been the way I was received by 12 other people, most of whom had no idea who I was. I had met 2 people before, and knew of 3 others via Facebook, but really I didn’t know any of them very well at all.
First, I was invited. Invited on the merit of an afternoon in NYC where I brought my work to be critiqued by Jane Bruce at Bullseye’s Resource Center in Mamaroneck, NY. That in itself should have told me something, but I didn’t really let it sink in. Second, we had a discussion session about the work we were creating, and I expressed my ideas about what I had done in the past and what I was considering doing in the session and future. Everyone listened and commented, contributed, and I felt like I had merit for the first time. Third through one hundred and twentieth, were all the side discussions that were had between individuals, like Cathryn and I talking about symbols, runes, and ancient languages. And finally, the late night winding down at the Pine Lodge between Natali, Purnima, and I talking about art and creating, ideas, and life.
Everyone accepted everyone at face value and as equals. This attitude was vital to making the Symposium work and so special. As I was trying to tell my husband, Donald, this morning, it wasn’t that his opinion that I am a good artist worthy of attention by the world was not valid, but it was more akin to submitting a paper to peer review. 12 strangers (essentially) had given me positive feedback on the work I was submitting for comment. It began to give me a foundation. I felt there was no “but…” to “you’re good.” Heck, I didn’t realize until this morning that that’s the message I had been hearing for a LONG time now. There was only just “you’re good!”
There was only “you’re good!”
After all the work was presented and we had been working a couple of days, I had a bad morning/afternoon. I kept to myself and stayed outside and out of sight. I wanted to work it out and not let anyone know I was in a funk. I finally got to talk to Donald and get grounded again, enough to get back to it and get working.
A couple of days later, I had another, bigger internal meltdown on the way to Lani McGregor’s house in Latheron. Again, I didn’t want anyone to see me, so I stepped outside. Or tried to. I ended up twisting my ankle (no, the other one. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t walk on it, at least). I kind of lost it when Jane came out to check on me. She gave me a good talking to, encouraging me and also holding me accountable. I agreed I needed to get it out, and then get on with it.
But my being upset wasn’t really about my work, at that point. I was actually feeling a bit jealous of being out of the conversation. I know, a lot had to do with my not inserting myself, but I was feeling the culmination of a year and half of being adrift, with only 2 or three local friends, being separated from my previous network of friends and my family, still trying to recover from a deep wound, and completely doubting my personal and artistic worth. I was afraid to put my trust into these new people only to have it yanked out from under me. And the ankle just made it all the worse.
I got back on the bus to go to dinner, but I couldn’t pull it together enough to go inside. I lingered on the bus, hoping that I could spend some time alone to get over it, but Natali spied me and I just lost it. Ellen came back out to check on me and made it a group hug. I hadn’t felt that kind of love in a good while from friends. As I stood there sobbing, I could hear Natali’s heartbeat. Something about that sound made me feel better.
They declared me part of their tribe and invited me to come to their get-together next year in Houston at Ellen’s. I can’t wait to go.
On the last official night, dinner was an hour away and we waited for George to come and show us how to make a fishing net. Natali and I slipped outside after his initial demo and got a breath of fresh air. We talked more about our work and the ideas behind it. Just as I started to say I also really love Mayan glyphs, she broke out an app on her phone that was about Mayan glyphs. That was kind of awesome. That whole conversation, though, was enough to restore my trust that these friends I had just made over the past 10 days weren’t going away. It solidified the foundation that had been laid down.
I have a place to stand, a base to move forward from.
I am excited about the work I am going to produce. I want to integrate my art into my jewelry and jewelry into my art. I may not be making any commercial work, except maybe the dangle drop earrings I love so much, but I’m not worried about that. I have a confidence in myself I haven’t had in way too long. I’ve let so many things along strip me of my self-esteem. I have work to do and a story to find and tell. The data mining has begun.
(Thanks, Ellen, for inspiring me to do a more detailed blog session. <3)