Category Archives: making the impossible possible

Dancing with the muse

The finished front cover – “Grow only love in the garden of your heart.”

You know when you do something and think, “Well that turned out better than I expected!”?

That was my day yesterday.

The original notebook.

In preparation for the workshop I’m leading on Art Journalling at  Kensington Art Supply, November 19th, I am testing different ways of creating an art journal. Yesterday, I took an inexpensive scribbler and transformed it into the beginnings of an art journal.

The process includes gluing and taping together with masking tape every 3 pages so that they are stronger, masking taping the spines and creating a more sturdy cover. I’ll also gesso (a medium designed to strengthen the page’s ability to accept paint without soaking it up) all the 3-page layouts I’ve taped together as well as the cover so that we can begin to create and journal without spending time waiting for the paint to dry!

My process yesterday was all about painting the cover as I’d spent the evening before taping the pages together and affixing the heavier paper to make the cover.

Let’s just say, I’m pleased with the outcome – which is quite different than what my original ‘vision’ for the cover had been – and that’s the joy of art journaling. There’s really no destination other than where the muse, and your willingness to be open and present to the process, takes you.

Now my goal is to have several pages of the journal completed by the workshop so that I can use them as examples, and to have journals ready for the participants to begin painting. Each participant will be provided with a journal that is ready to paint — that means the cover and the first 3 page layouts.

For the workshop I will also have a journal example where rather than painting the cover, I’ll have glued paper to create the design. I’ll use papers I’ve already printed/painted and affix them to the cover – at least that’s my ‘vision’. We’ll see what happens when the muse and the creative process meet up on the cover page!

Art journalling is about the freedom to flow and be present to the moment. It’s about living the questions, not the answers or things you tell yourself you know.

Questions like, ‘I wonder what is calling within me to be expressed?’

What is the most brave thing I can do right now?

What am I not saying?

What if I give up thinking I know and allow myself the freedom to be present? 

Or, ‘I wonder what will happen if…?’

If I spread some teal over this pink paint and then use a stencil and babywipes to rub out some of the paint?

If I cover this area in gesso and let the images beneath peek out?

If I stop trying to make the page ‘look like something’ and just let it become what it is yearning to express?

Art journaling is all about expression, not perfection.

It’s about experience the freedom to create all over the page, not creating in a box.

And it’s about being present in the moment, letting what is appear without fearing what will happen if you just let go.

The muse and I danced together yesterday. I am grateful for every step of the dance we created together.

Namaste.

Spin Your Own Dreams

When my daughters were little I wrote them a story about an unhappy caterpillar who cried and cried all the time. One day, his tears fell on a leaf fairy sleeping on a leaf. Surprised by the sudden rain pouring on her head, she awoke and demanded to know why the caterpillar was crying.

“I hate being a caterpillar,” the unhappy fellow wailed. “I hate it. Hate it,” and he shook his tiny body ferociously and cried some more.

“If you weren’t a caterpillar what would you rather be?” asked the leaf fairy.

“What a stupid question,” said the caterpillar. “How can I be anything else? I’m stuck in this body.”

“Well, I’m a fairy and I’ve got magic and I can turn you into anything you want,” the leaf fairy told him. She wasn’t used to being questioned so she had a bit of attitude around her response.

The Caterpillar thought about this for a moment. Magic. Hmmm… Anything he wanted…. Well in that case. “A rose,” the caterpillar promptly replied.

“Okay,” said the Leaf fairy. “Close your eyes. Here comes the magic.”

And the caterpillar scrunched up his eyes tightly and held his breath. And the leaf fairy whispered a few magic words and poof, she changed him into a beautiful red rose.

Alas, the rose was prickly and thorny. No one could get close to him. He wanted to be more… likeable. He cried again and asked to be turned into an iris.

“Okay,” said the leaf fairy. And once again, she cast her magic and he became an Iris.

The iris, however, was too blue. He was tired of being blue all the time and wanted something happier. Like being a bright, sunny faced daisy he pleaded with the leaf fairy.

The leaf fairy was getting a little put out with the caterpillar’s demands but agreed to give him a little more magic.

And once again, the caterpillar was dissatisfied. Being a daisy was sunny and bright and he had lots of arms to reach out and touch people with, but it was rooted to the ground. Everyone had to come to him!

Just then a brilliantly coloured butterfly flitted by. The caterpillar watched her in awe and then he knew what he really wanted to be. He wanted to be a beautiful butterfly with gossamer wings that shimmered in the sun, free to fly wherever he wanted.

He pleaded his case one more time with the leaf fairy. “Okay,” she said, “but this is the last magic I can do for you today.”

The caterpillar closed his eyes and waited. The leaf fairy whispered the magic words, sprinkled leaf dust all over him and when he opened his eyes anticipating wings to fly free, the caterpillar wailed in dismay. He was a caterpillar once again.

“I told you I wanted to be a butterfly,” he cried. “I hate being a caterpillar.”

“You are a butterfly,” the leaf fairy told him. “Inside you there is a beautiful pair of wings yearning to be free. But first, you must learn to spin your own dreams.”

_________________

Sometimes, I have not believed I could fly. Sometimes, I have clung to my disbelief in the possibility of change as I held steadfast to my resistance to dream. Sometimes, I have embraced the lie that I am not powerful enough to make my dreams come true, and sometimes, I have grounded myself so deeply in my fear of flying, I haven’t even bothered to try to stretch my wings for fear I will fall.

Regardless of the reasons why I haven’t catapulted my dreams into reality, when my dreams don’t come true the way I want them to, I have a choice. To find value in what is, or…. to hold still, take a deep breath, and keep on spinning my dreams into reality.

When dreams don’t come true, it’s because the dreamer spun in a different direction, changed their course, or simply gave up spinning in any direction at all or perhaps it’s because they were spinning cotton, not silk.

Today, I commit to spinning my dreams in the direction of my goals. Today, I choose to affirm, my dreams are mine to spin in every colour of the rainbow.

Today, I commit to spreading my wings. I don’t know their full extent until I reach beyond the edges of my imagination, out into the universe where dreams come true because I’m willing to spin my own dreams.

What about you? Are you willing to spin your own dreams?

__________________

For Renee.

She is Coming Home.

She is coming home today.

Since she came into creation four years ago, she has hung in my office, a reminder to always give voice — to truth, kindness, compassion, justice, integrity.

Today she comes home.

There are fewer than a handful of paintings I’ve created that I am not willing to part with. She is one of them.

I call her my Spirit Voice.

She sings to my heart, my body, my soul, my spirit to always speak up. To not give into the voices of doubt, criticism, fear.

To sing, loud and clear (or as clear as my voice will sing — but there’s no judgement with Spirit Voice so clearly I sing!) To call out to my dreams, to the Universe, to all who will listen to come, join me on this field of possibility where we can dance together in a world of love, harmony and joy.

Today I begin to dismantle my office. In its coming apart I come together with my dreams of next steps, future visions. Rejuvenation.

Today, I dismantle one space to begin the creation of a new space where my world becomes a daily leap into the world of possibiity, setting off landmines of opportunity with every step.

I have loved my work. Loved the opportunity to give back to community and to those for whom poverty and homelessness have stolen so much.

I too once felt the despair of losing everything. I too was lost.

It took a community to bring me back to life. I am grateful to have been part of that community for others.

And, while my retirement from the formal work force doesn’t mean an end of that work, it does mean a change. A change I cannot at this point see, nor wish to discern.

I am entering my last four days of ‘formal work’. I stand in this liminal space and draw in a deep breath of gratitude.

Over 13 years ago, I stepped into an office at a homeless shelter and began this part of my working journey. Being a voice for those whose voices have been drowned out by the harshness and challenges of homelessness has been one of the greatest and most humbling opportunities I have ever had in my working career.

During that time I have been gifted with hearing and carrying countless stories of those who were swept away by the raging waters of homelessness only to find themselves safely on shore because of the countless many who line the banks and wade into the waters to help them reach the safety of solid ground.

And, during that time, I have been changed by ‘the work’.

Changed and moved. Humbled. Broken. Healed.  Forever made better as a human being.

Working  in the homeless-serving sector has taught me about true compassion. It has taught me that we are not our differences. We are all connected through this condition we call being human.  It has taught me about judgement. Privilege. Scarcity. Humility. Courage. Strength. Hope. Love.

And, it has taught me about our human will to live.

When I first started working in this sector people always asked me, “Isn’t it depressing?”

“No,” I’d reply. “Every morning hundreds of people whose lives I may not understand awaken and get up and take another step and another. I may not always agree with the steps they take, but every one of those steps is a testament to their fight for their life and their will to live. That is inspiring.”

She is coming home today. My Spirit Voice.

With her home-coming I carry with me all my hopes and dreams, aspirations and ideas for what my future will look like.

No matter what I do, what happens, what dreams may come, I will carry with me always the lessons I’ve learned, the stories I’ve heard and the people I’ve met who have made my life so incredibly rich, vibrant and fulfilling.

I am grateful.

Namaste.

___________

The reference to ‘Little One” is an ode to my father whose nickname for me as a young girl was, “Little One.”

Ruminations of a misty morning

Silently, it rolled in from the west, snaking up the river valley, a soft gauzy blanket of white obscuring all that it enveloped.

I watched its approach. My eyes straining to see through its ethereal nature.

This is the way of falling asleep. The way of losing sight of clarity, of all that is real and true in life.

I watched the fog roll in and remembered a time when I lived within its depths. When my world felt like I was breathing shallowly in the marshmallow stickiness of lies and deceit that encompassed my entire being.

Those were the days when I was lost in dreams of shortcuts to happiness. When I believed in happily-ever-after.

And then I awoke to the dark and unforgiving truth that I was lost on the road to hell.

Frightened and trapped in my fear, I could not breathe deeply. I could not see my hands in front of my face, or feel my feet on the earth.

Terrified I would never find myself again, I became lost in a world of hopelessness.

And then, the fog lifted and I could see the world around me. I could feel my hands touching my face, my feet touching the earth.

Found again, I breathe deeply as the mist rolls in.

There is beauty in the mist gently undulating along the river valley.

The beauty is not in losing sight of the world but in knowing, no matter what the weather outside, I am safe, here, in this place where I stand in the eye of my truth. In this place, what happened then is nothing compared to what I am creating in my life today, day by day, standing true in me, myself and I.

We all get lost on the road of life. We all lose our way. Whether for a day, a month, a year or years, it does not have to be forever.

We can awaken.

We can step out of the mist. We can claim our place in the centre of our world.

For me, it took a miracle and a deep desire to seek forgiveness, to be forgiven and to forgive. It took believing that I was worthy or more than abuse and lies and deceit. It took believing that I am worthy of Love. Of self. Of others. It took believing I am worthy of life.

This morning, I watched the mist roll in and remembered the wonder and awe of being alive.

This morning, I watched the mist snaking up the river valley and saw the beauty of its gentle nature caressing the trees that line the water’s edge. In its memory I saw the beauty of my world today and gave thanks.

I am so blessed.

 

Change Management: It begins with what I don’t know

This is the view from my hotel window for the next three days.

I am awestruck.

I am in Banff for a Change Management course and, when I stop to really think about it, what better way is there to change my point of view, my ‘normal’ than to immerse myself in the beauty and awe of such a place.

Originally, when I signed up for the Prosci Change Management Program course, I wondered why on earth the organizers would hold it in such a beautiful setting if the agenda is so chocker block full there’s no time to enjoy the surroundings.

Yesterday, after I’d checked into my room at the beautiful Rimrock Hotel and sat in the comfortable leather chair in my room looking out at the view, I realized how smart the organizers are. To hold a Change Management course in a downtown business setting would not have afforded the attendees a chance to get out of our everyday worlds. And keeping ourselves in our everyday worlds would have inhibited our capacity to ‘see different’.

And that’s what change management requires. A willingness to see change through the eyes of possibility so that engagement of everyone involved becomes more dynamic, energized and creative. Because ultimately, change management isn’t about creating stellar processes to manage ‘the change’. It’s about engaging people in the change so that they buy-into the value of why change is necessary and how they can benefit from being part of making it possible.

From that point of view, change becomes less threatening, less scary. It becomes more of an exciting journey in which we all engage, together, to make change happen so that together, we can create better in the world around us.

The view outside my window

And this world definitely needs us all to be engaged in creating better.

I am in beautiful Banff for the next three days to deepen my knowledge of change management. From this beautiful setting I can see how deep transformative change is only possible when I expand my limited thinking to become more inclusive of a broader point of view. A POV that isn’t just about what I see as possible, but what we all see as possible when we let go of holding onto ‘the way things are’ and dive into what is possible when we allow change to transform our lives for the better of all.

And the only way to let that happen, is to stop holding onto what I think I know, and dive into all I don’t know about change management. For me right now, that begins with breathing into the beauty of my surroundings and giving gratitude for the organizers for having the wisdom to hold this course in such a beautiful, awe-inspiring setting.