Sometimes the Most Awesome Thing Is to Push Through, Sometimes It's Not

A lot of people love to call life a journey but I like to call it an adventure. Because adventure sounds more exciting than a journey which could be exciting if you were going the "center of the earth" but otherwise, "journey" is in a language I don't speak really. If it's an adventure then it's ok to be scared and feel all the feelings. It gets more Indiana Jones and if that's the case, I get to be a beautiful Egyptologist. Anyway, whatever you call the passage of time that makes up the continuum of the thing we call our lives, I don't like the idea that the adventure-journey is a short one, no matter how much time stands still sometimes.

This summer, my adventure toward working on art again allowed me to explore corners of my brain I had forgotten existed, parts I hadn't ventured to when I was calling myself a "designer". The process made days seem long and exciting and opened up constant doors to new ideas, new ways of working, new people and conversations, old friends and conversations. I let myself do that. I allowed myself this turn in my life-adventure.

But then I got sick in the middle of that. Sick, like going to a string of doctors sick, oncologist-visit sick, talk of major surgery sick. 

When life was standing still like that, when I thought about, "WTF? Now it's me facing this cliff," when I was thinking of all the ideas I hadn't thought yet, and the work I hadn't yet made, the friends, the family, the me I was too hard on, when I was navigating through fatigue and pain and frustration at doctors, at insurance companies, at myself, I questioned everything, and I fixated the most on what I might do if it turned out I wasn't going to die or have to live the next few months in radiology and chemotherapy and all the difficult things of a life-adventure with cancer. I thought, if this isn't death coming at me, if I can get through this and be well, I will live my fucking life every day and not hold back. I will be there for other people. I will do whatever's funner.  I wasn't feeling strong (like when you hear about how strong someone is when they're fighting for their lives) but strength is sometimes an after-image.

Then, a second opinion in September and SA-NAP- I (probably) didn't have cancer(!) and the surgery was simple(!) and maybe I might have to come back to the doctor a little more often (ok that kind of sucks) but suddenly that moment unfolded like a red carpet, the sky brightening after a rain, the clock was no longer stuck, the crowd (in my mind) went wild! I felt the universe, I felt everyone who had been sick before, everyone who had worried for themselves, "what is death like?", and the saddened people they might leave behind. It felt like I had been taken and held hostage in a hostile country, there just long enough to glimpse how hard it was about to get but luckily got to go home. That feeling came with a mix of relief and guilt. And the loudest part of me yelled something like: AFTER WE TAKE CARE OF THE REST OF THIS THING, THE NEXT PART OF THIS ADVENTURE IS GOING TO GET REALLY GOOD!

One of the things that bothered me was not coming to this space, One Awesome Thing, the project I was most excited by and enamored with. I wanted to write, but I had just about enough energy for making paintings and thinking about my family and, uhhhh, that's it. I kept asking myself, "What's the one Awesome thing you can do right now Deb?" and the answer was usually, "Just take care of what's most important now" and "feel the feelings you feel like waves washing over you", and "Just lie down if you need to" and "by any means necessary,  do everything you need to do to kick this part of the adventure in it's nuts."

My substitute for writing to you here was to search for the most awesome things to post on our One Awesome Thing Facebook page. To create artworks and curate on the One Awesome Thing Instagram page and record my favorite images on my Bonbon Oiseau Instagram page. That has been a constant and has helped me to discover and think about so many new things, many of which I wrote down, painted, visited. All the same adventure, different pages, same me. I am now vowing to return here regularly in the New Year with all kinds of fun stuff, good stuff, stuff in my language, hopefully yours. If you find this somehow in the vast and wild unknown that is the www,  sign up for the newsletter and get alerts when new posts happen. Write to me with ideas of what you'd like to see, but for now how are you?

New Thing on One Awesome Thing!

Friday is One Awesome Thing Thing Day.

The Royal We here at One Awesome thing has anointed Friday the new One Awesome Thing Thing Day, sort of like a simple little project within this project for you for your weekend meant for you to have fun with, think about, play around or tamper with.  (JUMP STRAIGHT TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON'T WANT TO READ ALL THIS SEGUE STUFF IN BETWEEN...BUT IT'S PRETTY GOOD SO...) 

In conceiving this bright idea (say it like "any more bright ideas Ferris?"), I thought about how much I loved doing projects as a kid. Or the IDEA of being part of a project. Par example, I couldn't wait for the "Reading is Fundamental" Summer Reading Club at our town's library.  All I wanted was to get to the top of that illustrated tree poster with stickers of all the Judy Blume books I read. The poster was behind the librarians chair, all fluorescent lit and glowy and all I wanted was the glory of seeing my name up there proud and literate (and obsessed with reading Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry twice in a row). Then there was the Dynomite Arts & Crafts Club, in which the only two members were me and Lisa Castronovo. The goal to do every craft in every adult arts & crafts book we could find proved difficult for an 8 year old and her 10 year old neighbor who wasn't really interested in arts & crafts, yet we always threw googly eyes, glitter or pompons at the problem when we weren't making watercolor Rorschach butterflies and interpreting each other's dreams. It was the summer I never saw the last letter "a" in the word "material" and pronounced it "matteral" for roughly two years.

Later, in faux-grad school I realized I could propose my own projects and talked some granters into granting me a grant and so I went to India and sat around with toymakers and painters for about a year and documented them with a camera and the ways they were passing on their traditional art techniques and knowledge--including business skill and acumen or lack thereof-- from parent to child. I used a lot of sign language, held a lot of kohl-eyed babies, visited crooked sellers in the bazaar, sat on the floor in 100F heat for hours as they monotonously painted the same eyes on the same wooden Krishna dolls, I made paint with real laquer, I watched as they plucked the tail hair of a pet squirrel, tied it onto a piece of straw from a broom and used it as one of the finest paintbrushes I've ever used. Mostly, I learned a lot about myself and how I could live on virtually nothing if I needed too.  I came back to the states and dropped out of Grad School and tried to just make art. These PROJECT-HEAVY experiences were so transformative that I held them up as models when later into adulthood, my artist's block-block got too dark-dark so I decided I should create my own personal research project/arsenal of knowledge again and so created "My Month of Italian Futurism" in which I furthered my thesis that fascists loved Block Letters. There was also my "Spring of Cannibalism" in the early aughts, where-in I read every book I could find about Michael D. Rockefeller and went often to the Oceanic Wing at the Met which revealed only that cannibals were great at art and making canoes and also art-canoes.  And now this One Awesome Thing Project after many years of projects in between, some of which failed such as the Almost Drive My Husband Away Project and The Baby-Project and the Making Everyone Else Happy Project and the Who I am and Why Are Things the Way They Are(?) Project...some of which were successful--the Bonbon Oiseau Project and the Live in The Moment Project and the Being Married to the Best Man on Earth Project. From Pain and Projects comes Wisdom I think, but it's never-ending. And that's the good part. So before I get to the meat here, which is the new project within this project itself, I'd need to proclaim here that I am PROJECT oriented, PROJECT driven, PROJECT POSITIVE. I enjoy a challenge, I want to learn, I want to question, I want to try any little thing to wake me up out of today's normalcy. If it helps me to see things in such a new way that the me I was yesterday becomes a sort of new, fresh revived version of me, a makeover of the very best kind, then sign me up no  matter how rough. It's the Life Project I've been waiting for. It may seem exhausting but trust me on this, it's like being shot out of a velvet cannon into a  pool of warm jello (not original--credit goes to husband who says crap like this ALL THE TIME). Very in the moment. Join me Awesome friends? (Jump to below the photo-proof that I held a lot of babies in India and got peed on more than a few times...there's a metaphor in that statement somewhere, prizes for those who find it---->)

SO HERE'S TODAY'S ONE AWESOME THING FIRST FRIDAY THING-(work on it over the weekend!): Write TWO quick notes to TWO people, anyone to whom you are thankful. Remember something they did for you or something you learned from them and let them know how much you appreciate what they did or gave or are. Go deep if you want. Remember one thing in particular or a whole way they were with you that changed something in you, eventually or right away and for the better.  (TWO Hints: your thank you's could be to someone you really don't like, anyone dead or alive, someone you really don't know or someone you know very well...it could be to someone you really do like, to someone you love or to an enemy you've never forgiven. Could be to someone you just met who may have recommended a really good movie that changed your life, even just a little... Write a little or a lot. Spend the weekend with it or don't overthink it--write it or don't write it, talk about it with someone else, let it roll around in that noggin or just let it flow baby. Share with us next week if you want on Our One Awesome Thing Facebook Page, or our Instagram or the Tweeterz

Have an awesome weekend, Deb oxo