Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ella Enchants Me: Interview with a Craftsman

This is the first in what I hope to be a series of conversations with fellow artists of every genre.  I'm always fascinated by the person behind the craft: how they live, how they've worked with their lots in life.  My performance background has influenced my writing soo much, and I'm encouraging my fellow writers to cross-dabble and dive. 

Interview: Ella from Live This Art Life

Hi, I'm Ella. I used to have one of those "happy" blogs where everything was positive and funny. And I read a lot of blogs that were positive and funny. Problem was, my life wasn't THAT happy. And I really craved hearing other women's struggles. But I never found those blogs and I stopped blogging for a while. Then, in the middle of a huge personal crisis, I returned to my blog and started to (kinda) lay it out there and work through some heavy stuff. THAT has been the most satisfying part in the journey.
I'm an artistic sort of person and I drift from project to project as it suits my needs. I have the ultimate luxury of being unemployed so as to pursue these adventures, but it makes paying bills difficult. So I take a job now and then.  
I'm a mom with teenagers. I'm kinda dorky and, at 45, I like who I am. Finally!

Sophia: You mention in your profile that you always have an art project going.  What's your current one?

Ella: I DO always have a project going. I feel unanchored without something in the works. Many, many times I have TOO MANY projects going and all will suffer, but I'm happiest with something to return to. I am currently working on my first (and perhaps last ) quilt. I am not one who likes to follow directions or measure things, so quilting and I aren't a good fit. Plus it takes so friggin long...
I am also working on a musical @ my kid's school as the assistant to the director and that's keeping me up at night with geeky enthusiasm.
S: What's a typical day in your life like?  I'm curious to see where you fit crafting/creative time in.

For the first time in a long while, I do not have a day job teaching art. So I get up, take my littlest kid to school and then I'm off the hook till 2:30 when said kid needs to be fetched and rehearsals start an hour later. I try to exercise first thing (I'm running at about a 40% success rate with that), drink lots of coffee, play on the computer till I feel guilty and then I'm usually out the door by 10 to make rounds of the thrift stores (costume hunting), or go grocery shopping or run errands. I drift to the projects when I have down time OR when a project is consuming me that I can't leave it alone. I worked on a mosaic table top this summer that so took over my life, I stopped being a part of the family. When I do something I'm really enthused about, it will take over and I will have little time for anything else. 
On days I stay home, I bake. I like to bake in great big quantities, so it can be an all morning project. One day my husband surprised me by coming home in the middle of the day. There I was, show tunes blasting and a monster pile (think 13 gallon trash bag size) of spicy caramel corn on the kitchen island...he just walked in and said "I KNEW it!"
S: You've had some great life advice for me on my old blog, particularly doozies like "forgive your parents" and "stop caring what other people think."  Both easier said than done.  What's the actual process of doing this soul work?
E: I was a sensitive kid. And being as such, I picked up early on that growing old sucked. So I was terribly fearful of it. However, now that I'm's not so bad. AND being young was much, much worse! I suppose I just got tired of, or grew out of, or plain old lost interest in what other people thought of me. I can't pinpoint some magic day that this happened, but having a bit of arrested development, it was probably some time in the last 5 years. It's a gift---like a glass of cool water when you're parched on a hot day---it takes so much energy to care what others think and when you don't it becomes the most liberating and sweet present you can give yourself.
Your parents still are irritating but as they age, it is hard to still be mad at them. Becoming a parent yourself will certainly bring out the empathy for your folks in can finally understand how horribly hard it is to raise children and remain a rational person. It's almost impossible to be a good start to cut yours some slack.
As they age, you can see them starting to fall apart. And they become very childlike. And it's hard to get mad at a baby. Plus, why on earth would you want some gut-wrenching discussion of former family woes with a 86 year old man? They are never going to say what you want them to say. So you just let it go.  And you can forgive them for being human and not very good parents.
For me there hasn't been any sort of process for this, it's all just observation of how my parents have changed and how I've changed.
S: What are three things you would tell the You from 10 years ago?
E: a. Get over yourself.
    b. Wear sunscreen every friggin' day.
    c. All that stuff you wish you knew how to do but feel you are too old to start learning? (playing the guitar, speaking Spanish, swing dancing), You're still going to wish you knew how to do those things 10 years down the road, and you'll still think you're too old to learn. But you'll wish you'd done it ten years ago, cause you'd kick ass at it by now


  1. hey, you forgot the second thing I'd tell myself!!
    b. wear sunscreen every single day. No messing around.

  2. oh shoot you're right! It's been corrected - thanks for pointing that out!

  3. Ella enchants me too!

    Great interview...


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