Dare boldly

Inspiring acts of grace in everyday living


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Surrender does not mean giving up.

From Abbey of the Arts Lenten Course, 2013 Mandala

I saw a question posted on someone’s FB page the other day (I can’t remember whose) that asked, “What does surrender mean to you?”

A good question.

For me, surrender is the art of letting go of holding on. It means falling into Love without fearing love will end, or not be there to catch me, or wrap me in its embrace.

It means, knowing I am safe in the embrace of the Divine simply because I am. Me.

A search of Google provides this definition from Merriam Webster online.

Definition of surrender
surrendered; surrendering
transitive verb
1
a : to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand surrendered the fort
b : to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another
2
a : to give (oneself) up into the power of another especially as a prisoner
b : to give (oneself) over to something (as an influence)
intransitive verb
: to give oneself up into the power of another : yield

Noun
1
a : the action of yielding one’s person or giving up the possession of something especially into the power of another
b : the relinquishment by a patentee of rights or claims under a patent
c : the delivery of a principal into lawful custody by bail —called also surrender by bail
d : the voluntary cancellation of the legal liability of an insurance company by the insured and beneficiary for a consideration
e : the delivery of a fugitive from justice by one government to another
2
: an instance of surrendering

Holding onto nothing, I become that which I hold onto. In that ‘nothing’ I am everything.

Sometimes, I resist surrender (okay, maybe I should type, often I resist surrender… because surrender does not come naturally to me). I resist. I push back. I flee from surrender into that place where I convince myself to surrender is to give up, in, over to something, someone else. Like Merriam Webster’s definition, I am trapped in believing surrender means to give myself up to the power of another.

I don’t like giving myself up to the power of another.

I like to tell myself I am independent. A woman of my own making. Not dependent upon another, or a power other than my own.

Fact is, I am constantly dependent upon and interdependent with others.

In simple terms, this means that to get from A to B, if not walking, I prefer to drive. To drive, I need a car someone manufactured. To drive my car I need a road and some sort of energy to fuel my car. I need street signs and road signs to help me get where I want to go, and to help traffic flow safely. All of which I am dependent upon others to create, build and maintain.

Perhaps surrender is not about surrendering to another power, but rather, surrendering the notion that I am not dependent upon others. Perhaps it means surrendering to the truth — we are all interdependent beings. Even a hermit living in a cave in a desert needs people to stay away, making him/her dependent upon others respecting his/her desire to be cut apart from society.

What does surrender mean to you?

I ask because I’m working on No 31 of my She Persisted series, and surrender keeps popping into the frame. I don’t know yet what the quote is, but I do know that for it to appear, I must surrender my desire to believe I know what is going to appear. Because, that is the essence of creativity for me. To surrender all belief that I am in charge of the process.

Namaste.


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I surrender

I have an early morning meeting today.

Had two events last night.

Busy. Busy.

Yet, no matter how busy, the invitation is always there to co-create with the muse, the universe, life.

My dear friend Sheila K. sent me the MEME above. It’s inspiration, and her creative spark, will lead to another piece in the #ShePersisted series. “They said calm down. She created winds of change.”

Yesterday, at an International Women’s Day Luncheon sponsored by BDP, I listened to Elisabeth Manley speak about her journey through mental health issues to the Olympic medal podium. Her words inspired another piece for the series. “They said there’s nothing you can do to change it. She did what they said couldn’t be done.”

The universe is filled with invitations to co-create. To fall into the flow and let yourself be carried away by life’s juicy creativeness.

As I am leaning into co-creating the #ShePersisted series with the muse, giving into the flow means surrendering to life’s urgings to express my creative essence, fearlessly, honestly and freely.

I surrender.

 


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When failure is not an option.

badge-1-copyIt is a commonly used phrase. “Failure is not an option.”

Challenge is, when failure is not an option, we risk not learning from our mistakes, because in failure is not an option thinking, mistakes are not possible. In that space, we limit our capacity to think outside the box — or to even see, there is no box.

Our thinking becomes so focussed on doing the things that will guarantee success, we can’t allow space for ‘mistakes’ to lead the way to greatness.

In front of the easel I meet myself.

It is one of the many things I learn standing in front of the easel, leaning into the unknown.

Again and again, as I dig into the creative process, I see myself staring back at me with every brushstroke, with every layering of colour and texture and moment of wanting to wash it all over with white paint to begin again.

The creative process has expanded my understanding of the phrase, “Failure is not an option.”

I used to believe it meant, there is only one choice, come hell or high water, you will not fall down, you will not give in, you will persevere and rise above — at all costs.

It was the unspoken, at all costs, that had me in its grip.

At all costs meant, no matter how tired, how broken, how lost I was, I could never give into letting go of the need to appear ‘successful’. I could never let go of my pride.

“Failure” is just another cloud floating by

In front of the easel, I am constantly reminded that as long as I allow the urge to create to lead me into the unknown, as long as I give into the flow and trust in the process, without buying into my ego’s insistence it knows best, failure is just a thought that flows through and out, like clouds floating by on a summer’s day.

Ultimately, the fleeting thought of failure becomes part of the outcome. And, as long as my thinking stays expansive enough to allow for curiosity and experimentation, for happenstance and unexpected developments to appear, success isn’t measured in the beauty of the final piece (because believe me, I can always find flaws in the final piece if I really want to). Success is measured in the whole-heartedness of my experience of creation and the entirety of the final product – not the individual brushstrokes, but the entirety.

Moving through the fear of the well drying up

As I have been delving into the #ShePersisted series, I keep coming up against my fear of ‘the well’ drying up — which is just another term for fear of failure. Thus far, I have created 18 different images and quotes for the series. My original intent was to create 12.

Some I really like. Some, I’m curious about because they don’t resonate quite the same way as others. All are an expression of my creative essence.

Is that success or failure? Is 12, 18, 32 the number I will measure my success by? Or, is it simply a trusting in the process knowing that when I stay open to the muse, creativity flows freely and expresses itself through me without any expectation of success or failure?

Staying open and free of self-judgement/criticism requires a letting go of my need to ‘achieve’ and produce. It requires my breathing into my desire to be in harmony with the world around me through allowing the expression of my creative essence to flow freely.

The mystery of creativity is exposed in the unknown

I am fascinated by how the #ShePersisted series is appearing in my life. Several people have asked, how do you do it? How do the ideas keep coming?

It’s a mystery to me.

And I love that part of the creative process.

I trust in the process of letting go of my fear of creating into the unknown, so that the unknown can appear through my creative process.

Every time I stand in front of the easel, I don’t know what will appear. I don’t know how it will manifest itself. I do know that something magic happens when I let go of ‘directing’ the process and let it be the process of delving into the mystery.

Often, most times in fact, I start with the quote — and let the painting appear in concert with the words I want to use.

Often, most times in fact, the words I begin with give way to the words that appear through the mystery of being part of, into and of, the creative process.

As I mentioned, it’s a mystery — and part of the teachings of the creative process. Give into the mystery and let go of the need to direct the outcome by controlling the process every step of the way.

In that space, failure isn’t an option because, failure and success are simply part of the joy of being willing to take the journey.

 

 

 

 


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Where do you meet yourself?

 

Show up copyThe art of creating is to give into your true self.

It requires letting go of conscious thought to give into the creative impulse and desire to express itself, however it appears.

It requires letting go of self-criticism to breathe into stillness, acceptance, feeling, discernment.

In the studio, in the process of allowing creativity to flow, I discover the beauty of being present, of being conscious and aware.

In the studio, I am not an artist. I am the creative expression of my true self. I am the muse’s conduit, her vehicle to bring into expression the gifts within me. The gifts of me.

****

I have been creating in the studio almost every day for the past two weeks.

As the #ShePersisted series continues to express itself, I find my voice coming through her expression.

It is a fascinating juxtaposition.

I am challenged by something that happened thousands of miles away. By a phrase uttered by a man at a podium that I feel shaking my feminine essence, my human experience.

Through my reaction, I am compelled to take action to find what it is I know to be true for me. In the act of creating, I meet myself.

In the studio, my manifesto becomes:

I am the artist. I am the conduit for the artist to reveal herself.

I am the creator of art. I am the vehicle for the art to reveal itself so that I can see myself.

I am the one present. I am the one through whom the gift of artistic expression flows, bringing me present to myself.

I am at the heart of me standing in front of the easel. I am the one with the easel bringing me ever closer to my heart.

It is what the creative process keeps teaching me again and again. There is nothing to fear in front of the easel. Because in front of the easel is where I meet myself, again and again.

 


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Nevertheless, #ShePersisted

Ever since the moment I read the account of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s shunning in Congress, and the utterance of the words, “Nevertheless, she persisted,” I have felt a voice within me rising up. It’s urgency is compelling me to create art that speaks to Senator Warren’s courage, and the courage that exists within all of us to resist bully’s, push back against discrimination and stand up for one another, our feminine essence, our humanity.

This series is my rebellion.

I am not a placard bearing, slogan chanting protester. I am strong and forthright. Willing to step in and be heard. In my way.

And that is the feminine way. We do not insist we all fit into the same box. Or that we protest in the same voice. We accept the many different ways, the many different voices, the many different stances.

This series, #ShePersisted, is my way.

It is created in collaboration with Academy of Rising Women and its midwife, Kerry Parsons.  In Kerry’s vision, there is a stirring in our souls … a deeply feminine longing to live in a compassionate, wise-hearted world that works for all life. For years, thousands of years, we have been simmering, potent but not powerful. And now in answer to the call of a world in need of compassion and courage and collaboration, we rise!

The Academy of Rising Women is a potent, powerful wisdom community for the new emerging woman. Together we are creating a passionately powerful learning community of strong and courageous women to love deeply and live fully … to experience, express and create our future and, shape the future of our world.

I am honoured to be part of this academy of rising women. Of women who march, and who gather, around the well, in playgrounds and parks and living rooms and coffee shops and around the kitchen table.

We are the voices of compassion. Possibility. Hope. We are the flow. The ebb. The sisterhood. The stewards of all life. The birthing of our humanity.

In our voices, in our wombs, in our hands reaching out, inward and towards one another. In our standing alone and together in the clear and visible awesome beauty of our femininity. Our truth.

We are rising.

This series is for me. It is for you. It is for each of us. All of us.

To see the complete series of quotes and paintings and to follow along as I create the series, click HERE. 

They said don't make waves. She rocked the boat. #ShePersisted

They said don’t make waves.
She rocked the boat.
#ShePersisted


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What is home?

I have started a series of art journal entries on the theme of “Home”.

It was inspired by my work in the homeless-serving sector where ‘What is Home?’ is a question that is asked everyday. It also stems from my passion to stand at the intersection of art and writing to explore my creative essence and how/where they intersect with the things I am passionate and curious about in life.

Creativity connects me to my essence; that divine space within each of us that speaks to who we are when fear, worry, habit, our pasts and our experiences do not interfere with our natural expression of who we are.  I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert talking with guest Brene Brown in one of her Magic Lessons podcasts and Brene Brown said that before she started her shame research, and before she wrote The Gift of Imperfection, she would have said she was not creative. “I have a job.” Since researching shame, and how to live whole-heartedly, she has uncovered startling research that speaks to how many of us (in the research 56% of those she interviewed) were shamed as children about our creativity.

These are the first two paintings in the series. I have no idea how long the series will be, or where it will take me. The joy is in the exploration, the uncovering, the allowing what is calling out to be heard, and what is chasing me to appear, to be brought into the light of creative expression.

No matter where your story begins, it's never too late to begin again to create a new story.

No matter where your story begins, it’s never too late to begin again to create a new story.

 

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Home is that place where no matter how bad your day, you always know you have somewhere to lay your head to dream of better days ahead.