Sheltered wonder

Art Journal Cover created from a Wheat Thins box

As children, I remember my sister and I spending hours playing “Make Believe”. We reenacted our favourite movie, The Parent Trap, again and again. We made up stories which we then acted out, complete with costumes and props.

What we created felt so real to us.

And then, somewhere on that journey from childhood to adulthood, make believe was no longer appropriate. We were told to grow up.

I used to wonder why does ‘growing up’ have to include letting go of our capacity to play and create and imagine a world of magic and wonder?

It’s one of the things I loved about having children and now a grandson. I can play make-believe and no one tells me I need to grow up. When my grandson and I visit on FaceTime, he inevitably will ask me to show him the glittery butterfly I didn’t put away with the Christmas decorations. I fly the butterfly around the room and sing made-up songs as he watches, eyes wide.

In those moments, my heart knows complete, absolute, precious joy.

Yesterday, I began working on an art project I’ve been ‘creating in my mind’ for the past several days. The mind part isn’t so much about what it will look like, but rather, the meaning/purpose of the project.

The cover, pictured above’ is made from an empty Wheat Thins box just like the one pictured. Who knew that an empty cardboard box could be transformed into an art journal cover? My child’s mind did. My creative core did. As did my heart.

All it took was paint, time and a willingness to let go of my need to make something ‘perfect’. To choose instead to delve into the mystical nature of the creative process, allowing its urges to guide me.

In “Man’s Search for Meaning” Viktor Frankl’s brilliant opus on what he learned from his time in a concentration camp he writes:

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

This experience of sheltering in place, of watching death counts mount, of fearing for my beloved’s well-being, of limiting our social interactions is my stimulus. What I write here, how I choose to fill my time, how I choose to feed my mind and imagination, are my responses.

Sheltered Wonders, as I’m calling this art journal, is how I am choosing to capture my reflections of these days and weeks of self-isolation.

I could choose to call it, The Covid Disaster, or something like that, but that would mean the journal would be about the virus. It’s not. It’s about the amazing gifts I’ve found during this time of sheltering in place. As my beloved and I have narrowed our world to quiet times at home, walks with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and time spent together, our pace has slowed and our relationship deepened. Sure, my waist may be a little thicker and my hair somewhat scraggly but the gifts of time to breathe easily, to wonder and create in the kitchen, the studio and on the page have been immensely rewarding.

Covid is a global stimulus none of us can escape.

How we respond now and in the days to come, as stay-at-home edicts are relaxed and the world begins to ‘awaken’, will determine our growth and our freedoms.

We can choose to keep the gifts of family connection, of time to slow down and find a healthier more liveable pace, of time spent baking, creating, sharing with those we love, the gifts that we’ve remembered, like childhood playtime, in this time sheltering in space.

Or we can choose to scramble back onto the hardtack reality of filling our time with the busyness of the past – a busyness that for many felt constricting and overwhelming.

How will you respond?

______________________________________

A note about Sheltered Wonder – It is based on themes for each page — things I feel are germane to my experiences during this time of self-isolation. Belonging. Companionship. Community. Peace. Pace. Purpose. Creativity.

I’d love to hear what you think are important themes. Please do share – like Nance whose comment on my blog yesterday inspired this post today, you may inspire a page or two in my Sheltered Wonder journal!

Much gratitude.

24 thoughts on “Sheltered wonder”

  1. Fellow Frankl lover,

    I just came back from a walk with my imaginary dog – she’s been gone nearly a year, but some days I know the only reason I go for that walk is that my dog needs it. I do too.

    I never had any siblings – just friends who became more important to me than I ever became to them; they had siblings already.

    So my mental construct now is this – if I can walk my imaginary dog, could I not take an imaginary friend with me?

    And who should that friend be?

    It’s a work in progress …

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Darn it. I lost my first comment by clicking the wrong button!

    There is no law that says we need to stop playing as we enter adulthood. We somehow get busy taking care of business we put it aside and then, once we have children and grandchildren remember that part of us. My husband was a big kid and took so much joy in everything. His enthusiasm was contagious and we could not help but laugh with him. He wasn’t afraid to let that part of him shine.

    After all this blah blah of mine, I say wow! I love the cover of your beautifully titled Sheltered Wonder Journal… You may have inspired ME to do something of the sort. I have found so many wonderful things to this forced break at “regular” life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL — I know what you mean about the laws that don’t exist and yet, seem to infiltrate my life without any consideration for my need to be filled with childlike wonder at the world.

      your husband sounds amazing! Love that he took joy in everything. What a beautiful gift.

      And, I’m excited to see where inspiration leads you! Woo Hoo! Great to have a companion on this journey of creating wonderful in the every day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Honestly. Why we allow ourselves to fall into the “supposed to” and “not supposed to” is beyond me.

        He was. He is greatly missed by pretty much every single person who knew him.

        Am I to assume you glued your cover onto a blank journal? That’s pretty much what I’d end up doing!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL — nope. I took the Wheat Things box, glued down the flaps, plastered the whole thing – both sides, with Gesso and then painted right onto it. The inside is covered with the paper that flowers my daughter gave me last weekend came wrapped in.

    I have to create the inside pages which I will do with watercolour paper and then I’ll bind them into the cover. 🙂

    Like

  4. Louise,
    I relate to so much you have shared here. Those Viktor E. Frankl, quotes have inspired me over the years and reading them today, my reaction is one of appreciation. There is always something for me to learn and I am grateful for that. How dull life would be if I had it all figured out.

    I too love to create and think it is a shame that some adults don’t embrace play. My husband and I met at a swing dance and we have been dancing together for 25 years. For me social dancing is pure play with a community of friends. I am missing that but luckily I still have poetry.

    A theme I would like to carry forward is listening. In my writing circles the focus on listening has been so authentic and generated connection I never thought possible in an online group. We can choose to rush or we can choose to listen deeply. When we are heard. We are seen. I believe that changes the world.

    Love to you my friend,
    Ali

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that you and your husband dance together Ali! I am a dancer — on my FB page, people often share different versions of Proud Mary — it is the signature song for my daughters and me — we danced to it at my wedding and also at my daughters the following year. When people ask how do I just throw myself into dance I always tell them it’s because when I dance, I don’t think, I just am — at one with my body, the music, the moment.

      And yes, the resistance to expressing our creative urges ‘outside the basket’ bemuses me. My life is so much richer when I allow myself the grace of creative play — any kind of play for that matter! 🙂 But then, play, but its very nature is creative.

      And YES to listening. Deep listening. My heart feels so expansive when I know I am heard. Thank you for sharing Listening — it’s a beautiful theme to explore.

      Hugs my friend. Thank you for all the poetry you create in the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am on my second copy of Victor E. Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Your post brings to mind that it would be a good time to re-read his thoughts. It is in the same category as Elie Wiesel’s Night, the first of a trilogy. I have never made it past Night, maybe it is time to delved into Day and Dawn. Most interesting how you seamlessly segue from Frankl to sheltering in place, then into really what is the unknown which is inspiring you to create as you embrace the quiet, solitude and peace offered by the pandemic pandemonium.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that you write that Iwona – I too have never made it past ‘Night’. Hmmm… want to start a book club?

      And thank you – Two books that changed my life: Harriet Lerner’s, Dance of Anger and Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning. Yes, there are others too but those two, their messages continue to resonate even though I read them years and years and years ago. I just listened to a podcast with Brene Brown and Harriet Lerner on Brene’s channel – Unlocking Us – it’s based on Lerner’s book — Why won’t you apologize. And once again, she inspires me to create better in my life.

      So much joy in this world to share and breathe into and create! Hugs my friend. Hope it’s not really snowing there!

      Like

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