The Art of Becoming What You Hold On To

In the Soul of a Pilgrim course I studied during Lent one year, course moderator and Abbess of Abbey of the Arts, Christine Valters Paintner, asked in one of the lessons, “What if I truly believed the path before me was blessed?

And the muse answered — There would be no misstep. Only beauty. Only the perfection of each step, in darkness and light.

It was a scary thought. To hold true within me the thought that each step before me was blessed. For, if I truly believed each step before me was blessed, I would stop striving to ‘become me’ and fall with grace into being me. I would dance on my path. I would sing loud. I would laugh and spin about and not fear the path beneath my feet. I would embrace fearlessness in each step. I would not fear falling away from being me. I would fall into being all of me.

The Path is the Way, I wrote in my journal. Trusting in the Universe I find The Way to trust in me on the Path where each step unfolds as a blessing before me.

When I let go of my need to be…. seen, heard, known. When I release my desire to be…. somebody. A writer. An artist. An advocate. An executive…  my need to seek approval, acknowledgement, recognition is released. Free of my desire to be more, better, other than who I am, I become that which I do not need to seek, because that which I seek is always present, always within, around and about me  — Love.

In Love, being Love, I sink back into that place where I know, deep within me, that all my seeking for understanding is just a way to keep myself busy seeking ‘The More’ I tell myself I need to become to feel fulfilled, worthwhile, present, valued, valuable.

When I let go of seeking, ‘The More’, my heart has room to breathe freely, my mind has space to open wide and I become my light shining fiercely in love.

And in that space where I breathe freely into letting go of becoming the ‘being’ I think I need to be, I become, all that I am.

May your day be filled with being all that you are when you stop trying to become all that you can be. May you be Love shining brightly in all your being you.


Taking time for inner-balance is not a waste of time

The Love Bird Mixed media on canvas 12 x 24"

The Love Bird
Mixed media on canvas
12 x 24″

Ian Munro, at Leading Essentially, writes a provocative post this week about restructuring his “Inner Board of Directors” and how that has helped him to focus on his strengths. One of the exercises Ian gives is to assess your response to a given situation by determining if it drained your energies or pumped you up.  And then, he gives practical advice on how to measure the outcome.

Yesterday, I spent several hours working on finishing a presentation I am giving on Tuesday morning. For me, the quiet and comfort of my office at home provides a more creative space to think in and to imagine. After six hours, I felt I had the framework for a strong presentation (it’s on Community Engagement) with the powerpoint slides created, but not ‘prettied up’. I like the task of creating the presentation. I’m not strong on making it look all pretty. But, I do have a team member who is really, really good at it so I sent it off to them to have the final product polished up when she’s in the office today.

A win/win. I used my creative strengths to build the presentation and today, she’ll use hers to create the actual powerpoint. I did what I love and she gets to do what she loves.

In the past, my IBOD might have been more tyrannical in its insistence that I can do the prettying up of the powerpoint. In the past, I might have listened. I might have believed I needed to do it all. That my worth was based on my ability to not only create the presentation but to do all the work of making it look good.

In a cost/benefit analysis of the presentation, it probably would have taken me an additional six hours, or more, to create the final powerpoint. a) I am rusty on powerpoint creation and all its intricacies and b) I like the ‘telling the story’ part of presentation preparation, not the creating the materials part. In recognizing my strengths and my limitations, I was able to minimize the time I spent doing something that might have drained my energy and left me feeling tired today.

Instead, I feel energized.

Not only did I finish working on a presentation I think will get my message across clearly and inspire others in their community engagement work, I also rewarded myself with several hours in the studio when I was done.

And in that time, I recharged and centered myself in that place where I can once again see, who I am is not measured by the work I do, or even how much I do. Who I am is measured by the passion, love and commitment I bring to whatever I’m doing. When I give my best in the moment of doing, I create my best and that is good enough for me.

It is something I’m becoming very conscious of as I immerse myself once again in the Way of the Monk. Path of the Artist course I’ve been taking with Abbey of the Arts.

When I do not balance, ‘out there’ time with inner work and creative-making space, I am prone to feeling more tired, anxious, despairing even. My thinking runs the gamut of  ‘why bother?” with lots of chatter about my own self-importance rubbing up against thoughts of how unappreciated I feel and other inner nonsense running havoc. Get the gist? I become defeatist in my thinking and narrow-minded in my outlook.  When I am detached from my creative core, my IBOD becomes more anxious and volatile. And then, who knows what kind of all hell breaking loose scenarios I can create?

Yesterday, when I was finished the work I needed to get done to know that I was prepared for my presentation Tuesday morning, (and not feeling anxious about it), I went down to the studio and set myself free to create without any agenda. And The Love Bird appeared.

What a gift. Of time. Of renewal. Of re-charging and inner-balancing.

What are you doing to keep yourself in balance? Where do you need to let the outer doing go to create some inner peace?


The Way of the Monk. The Path of the Artist

The path through the trees

The path through the trees

I walked at the river yesterday. It is only the second time I have walked there since Ellie, the Wonder Pooch, passed away. I walked along the escarpment, sat at the spot where we used to sit on the edge of the cliff overlooking the river. I travelled down into the river valley, a trip made much easier without Ellie urging me to go faster, faster. I walked along the path that skirts the edge of the river, deep into the forest, back along the river. And then, I sat in the warm autumn sun at the edge of the water and breathed in. Deeply.

I have started a twelve week online course The Way of the Monk. The Path of the Artist at Abbey of the Arts. The course offers an invitation to explore the two powerful archetypes of the monk and artist. As the course outline explains, “Our “inner monk” is the part of ourselves that seeks the ground of all being and a mystical connection to the divine source, longing for what is most essential in life and cultivates this through a commitment to spiritual practice. The “inner artist” is the part of ourselves that engages the world through our senses, and is passionate about beauty, seeking to give it outward form and expression through a variety of media (including visual art, poetry, movement, song, gardening, cooking, relationships, etc.). Both the monk and artist are edge-dwellers, ones who commit to living in fertile border-spaces and who call the wider community beyond the status quo to alternative ways of being.”

I am standing in the liminal space where the path of the monk meets the artist. It is unknown territory for me, hallowed ground where I honour what is present and release what is not needed at this time.

I don’t know what walking into the mystery of this course will offer. I do know it will serve me well.

The invitation in yesterday’s course email was to slip into the meditation, open to the invitation of a word or phrase shimmering at the edge of my awareness.

The word that came to me was ‘roots’.  The phrase that rose up to embrace me was,  “her roots are as deep as the mountains grow high”. I live along the plains at the foot of the Rockies, north of the 49th parallel.  I have always wondered what it means to have roots — believing that roots are physical, that we must be of one place to know them.This past weekend, celebrating my mother’s 92nd birthday, it struck me that while my roots are not deep in Canadian soil, relatively speaking, they are deep in the spiritual essence of family.

As I sat in the silence, the thought arose that roots are metaphorical. They are not what grounds me. It is family. Life. Love that holds me steady.

In the meditation, I found myself breathing into my heart space — the invitation to release all that was not needed at this time gave me space to be present with all that is needed at this time — and that was Love and the knowing that my presence here on earth is not, as I recently read in an article by Peter Rengel, to transcend my humanness, but to revere myself exactly as I am right now.

And in that space, my heart embrace the truth at the root of all I am — Love.

It is all I need in this moment right now to know, I am safe. I am free. I am One with the essence of life flowing all around me.

I have roots and my roots are grounded deeply in the nourishing soils of Love.