My intent with the #ShePersisted series has been to complete 52 in the series. I just reached my goal.
And the muse is not yet finished with me. She keeps delivering new ideas for the series. And I keep creating.
It is a process I love. A creative endeavour that challenges and fulfills me.
As I continue to explore all the muse has in store for me, as I move deeper into rejuvenation mode, I shall have more time to mediate on the messages and thus, be able to continue to write ‘The Teachings” for the each painting/message in the series.
It is an exciting journey. One that also invites me to go back to some of the original art pieces and possibly re-work the art, not necessarily ‘the message’. The earlier pieces have a different style that became more recognizable as I continued to create in the series.
And that’s the beauty of this journey. There is no formula to follow. No rule saying I must do it one way or the other. I get to create my own path. My own way. My own creative expression.
The #ShePersisted Series
Follow Your Heart
Many years ago, Robert Frost penned one of his best known poems which ended with,
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
This card is calling you to examine where you are walking. To look closely
at your choices and see if you are choosing them for yourself
or are you following someone else’s plan, marching to someone else’s drum?
Life is full of opportunities to find your own beat, to carve your own path.
Yet, too often, we let fear of the unknown, fear of leaving the pack hold us back
from hearing the calling of our heart to follow no one person or thing, but our own beat.
Let go of fearing what others may say and listen to the voice of your heart.
Your heart knows. Listen to your heart.
When I am in the studio, splashing paint and throwing colour onto a blank canvas or journal page, I feel free. Alive. Like a child dancing in a mud puddle. I don’t think about ‘the outcome’. I don’t focus on ‘the process’ or how paint smeared my fingers are or how splattered and unkept my apron looks. I simply do. And in my doing, I trust in the process and trust whatever the outcome, it will be a reflection of my creative expression.
And I am never disappointed.
When I am ‘in’the world out there’, that grown-up space beyond my child-infused wonder of creating, that place where obligations and duty and responsibilities seem at times to be weighing me down, it is all too easy to forget about the abandon of the child. It takes but a blink of my eyes, a slip of my attention to let go of the willingness of the little girl to simply be present in whatever I am doing without fearing outcomes and measurements, balancing acts and bank balances.
My dream is to be ‘in the world out there’ as I am in the studio. Free. Uninhibited. Honest and present, part of the flow of whatever appears before me. Fearless in my pursuit of my dream of giving voice to what is calling itself into creation from within my heart.
And so, I come back to the studio, again and again, to connect with the wonder and awe of my creative expression so that I am reminded, again and again, that I can create ‘in the world out there’, as I am in the studio.
That is my dream. To nurture and nourish my creative expressions into becoming a reflection of my life lived in a garden of life filled beauty and love.
What dreams are calling you? What are you doing to fill the garden of your life with the beauty and wonder and awe of your dreams?
If I had met them walking down the street, I might have been inclined to judge them by their look. To think the two young men walking towards me were out to find trouble, or at least, aimlessly wandering without direction.
In every human, judgements reside.
Not knowing their artistry, not knowing their story, I might have wondered about how we could be of the same world and inhabit the same space when we are such world’s apart in how we appear to the world. I might have passed them with a fleeting thought about what caused them to look so fierce. To dress so grunge. To think being hipsterish was cool.
On their part, I might think that if we passed each other walking down the street, they would not even notice me. I would imagine they were so caught up in the stage of their lives, they would not notice an older woman walking down the street, or even wonder if we had anything in common.
And then I watched the video of two young ‘hipster’ men dancing.
What struck me most, what superseded any judgements I might, or might not have had about their ‘look’, was the passion of their dance and the incredible discipline, training and commitment to their art it must have taken for them to be able to dance together like that. What talent and creativity. I was in awe.
When I posted the video on my FB page, a friend commented on the power of their dance. When I replied with my commentary of how judgements of ‘the look’ could have interfered with my seeing the beauty of their art, she replied, “Great artistry abides in every human costume.”
Within each of us great artistry abides. No matter how we look, what we wear, how deep our pockets, how tight our pants or how long our pasts. Great artistry abides within each of us.
It is what struck me every day when I worked at a homeless shelter and started an art program. The individuals who came to the studio didn’t have deep pockets, they didn’t have a wealth of clothing options or choices on how to share their creative gifts, or how to express themselves through every medium. We only had so many supplies in the studio, so many canvases, so much paint for people to explore and use.
It didn’t matter.
Because when they walked into the studio, they came with the fierce desire to create. They came with their deep passion for expressing themselves through their art.
While homelessness may have ripped away all of their possessions, undermined their self-confidence and sense of place, they all shared a fierce commitment to holding onto ‘the thing’ that no one and nothing could take from them. Their creative essence.
Life can be tough. It can tear us down. Pummel our dreams and shake up our sense of purpose. It can hold us in arms of sadness, grip us in the death maws of addiction, weigh us down with the heaviness of sorrow, loss, regret, and trauma.
But it cannot take away the greatness of our individual artistry.
That abides within us.
No matter how deeply it gets buried beneath the clothes we wear, the heaviness of our backpacks, the depths of our traumas, our greatness cannot be diminished.
And when we set ourselves free to express ourselves from that place where all that matters is being true to ourselves and our self-expression, we create a world where differences diminish, judgements disperse. In that place all we are left with is the raw, beautiful and shining gift of our greatness.
I am so grateful these two young men had the fierce confidence, passion, discipline to not leave their artistry buried within them. I am so grateful they chose instead to dance with abandon for all the world to celebrate.
Let us all dance with abandon today so that in our dance, the world can celebrate the great artistry that abides within each of us.
“The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.” Frank Herbert, Dune
Where do ideas, vision, openings to creativity begin? Is there an end? Where does the creative impulse come from?
Not really a mystery but definitely a source of wonder and awe, the impulse to create drives me every day to write here, to journal, to draw and paint. It calls me to express myself in artful ways that often surprise me with their capacity to reflect the mystery of my dreams, the yearnings of my heart, the wonderings of my thoughts.
And then, there are those periods of time when I stop. Stop painting. Stop art journalling. Stop going down into my studio in the evening to give expression to my creative urges.
I have been in such a space since May. At first, I thought it was just that I was tired out from all the wedding prep and the hours upon hours I spent creating for it. I’d enter the studio in the evening or on weekends only to return upstairs to do some meaningless thing like watch a show on Netflix or the TV.
The avoidance of creating created the habit of not spending time in my studio and while it’s not particularly fear based, I know, avoidance strengthens fear.
My avoidance created a fear of creating. Of seeing the possibility in a blank canvas and letting the muse guide me in expressing my dreams upon its surface.
Yesterday, my team at work and I entered into what we have agreed will be a bi-weekly session on goal setting and visioning. Guided by a team member who worked for several years for a company that made regular conversations about goal-setting and vision a part of their culture, we started with a guided visioning session of what our work day will look like and how we will feel when we enter the workspace in six months, a year.
We shared what brings joy to our day. What creates satisfaction. We explored what we want more of in our work-life balance. What we need less of.
We talked about the things we’re doing we want to keep doing, the things we want to start doing to create greater value in our lives and the things we need to stop doing that undermine our sense of joy and satisfaction.
What things do you do every day that bring you joy?
For me, art-making every day creates joy in my life. It lifts me up. It fills me with a sense of peace, wonder and awe.
And I have been avoiding it.
Getting lost in the why of my avoidance will only keep me stuck in questioning the why of why I’m not doing it.
Not creating is not a mystery that needs to be solved.
The answer is simple.
I must make a decision to do it, to engage in it, to create the more in my every day that brings me more joy. I know creating in my studio lifts me up. I must decide to take action and then, make a commitment to do it and follow through on my commitment.
I commit to spending an hour in the studio every night. I don’t need to know the ‘why’ of my not creating. I need to take action now that I’ve identified the impact of my avoidance. It’s a pretty simple equation:
No studio time every day = an absence of joy every day.
Just as habits can be broken, habits can be built. Habits can be kept.
Up until our wedding in April, I had a daily habit of spending time in the studio every day.
It was good for my soul. Good for my being present in my life.
I’ve broken the habit. I can fix it. I have that power. I choose to step into my power and create the more of what I want in my life every day.
Joy. Harmony. Love. Peace and the mystery of creativity expressing itself in every way I am in the world.
I created on the weekend. Spent time in the studio splashing paint and ideas and feelings onto a canvas that had hung around as something else waiting to emerge as what it was always meant to be.
It is the thing about creating.
Within every creation there is that moment where what is apparent is not what appears. Where what was becomes simply the path to what is.
The Bird of Contentment started out a couple of years ago as a landscape. Dissatisfied with where it was at, I applied a layer of cheesecloth and painted over and into the surface. A forest standing silent under a moonlit sky appeared. It hung around for while until this fall when the dark forest asked to become an autumn woods replete with riotous splashes of gold and red and ochre shimmering on the edges of a stream burbling merrily along its way.
I let it happen.
And still, it wasn’t fully expressed. It didn’t feel like my voice appearing on the canvas but rather, more like what I felt my voice should be if I was painting what I thought was easy, expected, common.
On Friday afternoon, I stepped into the studio and let my voice call me out into expression upon the canvas.
A thought had been forming for awhile about what wanted to be expressed on this canvas. I had heard it some weeks ago and let it simmer, let it percolate and coalesce into a calling forth from within me yearning to be released. Rather than just ‘painting over’, I allowed what was waiting to become apparent to give itself expression using what was already there as the foundation of what was looking to appear.
The expression of the Bird of Contentment evolved from the inspiration of a comment my eldest daughter wrote in her birthday card to me.
“Thank you for being so unapologetic about who you are, and what you stand for,” she wrote.
Birds are so delicate looking, so tiny and innocent and fragile and yet, so strong. They hang around the birdfeeder, sit on wires, soar above or float on the calm surface of a pond and are simply present to what is in the world around them. They squawk and tweet and sing and whistle and make themselves heard because that’s what they do. Birds are unapologetically who they are.
Birds naturally do what I have always dreamt was possible — fly.
I have always dreamt of flying yet, for many, many years, I kept my wings tucked into my body. I was fearful that if I let them out, I would not fit into the world. I truly would be the deep, dark secret the critter within whispered to me in moments of unease. “You are a misfit. You don’t belong. You don’t fit in.”
And, because I so desperately wanted to be liked, to be like others, to be part of the whole of the world I saw outside me, I tried to be who others thought I should be, the someone I believed I needed to be to get along in the world without letting my wings show.
And in my unease, I created a lot of ripples.
I like making ripples.
I like creating waves. Of love. Harmony. Peace. Joy.
But, because I was struggling to keep my wings tucked in, I often, unintentionally, created discord. Sometimes, I hurt those I love. Sometimes, I did things that didn’t make sense, that created bumps in the road and upended smooth sailings into tumultuous rides.
It is still possible to do these acts of discord – but in becoming free to express my voice, unapologetically, I am more adept at seeing when my actions create that which I do not want to create in the world. Discord and unease. Tension and pain.
It is the gift of time. When I see that I have created is not creating better in the world, I must breathe deeply into my unease, acknowledge the discord I’ve created and commit again to the path of creating more of what I want in my world. Love. Harmony. Peace and Joy.
It has been the evolution of my voice. The letting go and surrendering to my heart calling me to live from and through my own unique voice. To be unapologetically me.
And it has been the evolution of this painting.
From silent dark forest to tumultuous autumn woods to the Bird of Contentment.
I have splashed and sprayed and covered up and over. I have dug into and scratched the surface, I have wiped it clean and coloured it up.
And through it all, I have reached moments of discord. Those spaces where what is happening feels too raw, too real, too revealing, too vulnerable that I just want to stop. Step away. Forget it. Let it go and move on.
And still, I have persevered and persisted. I have kept digging into it. Keep moving through the discord to find the harmony and joy of being real and revealed.
There was a moment on Friday where it was very apparent to me that this painting was going nowhere. Where everything looked discordant and so jumbled up and ‘blah’ that I thought the only answer was to just throw the whole thing out.
I wanted to quit.
But the voice of my wings calling me to fly free persisted.
Don’t give up. You can do this. Be present. Be patient. Be open to letting it happen. Trust.
And so, I trusted in the process and let my wings appear through the messy globs of paint yearning for expression on my canvas.
And in their appearance, the Bird of Contentment arose.
And that’s the thing.
I couldn’t see how the final painting would appear until I got over my resistance to letting go and gave voice to my fear of flying.
In the freedom to be unapologetically present as who I am in front of the easel, what was always there waiting to be revealed appeared and in its appearance, my voice sang out loud and clear.
I am free to be me!
I am content.
Announcing my first ever art Calendar!
I also created a calendar over the weekend of some of my art and words. It was a fun and joyful way to express myself. I’ve decided to take a step ‘out there’ and offer it for sale. There’s still time to order a copy before Christmas! 🙂
In meditation yesterday, a thought scampered through my mind. (I know. Meditation is about no thoughts but there it was!) It wasn’t so much a thought as an image with the idea of my soul dance and what it knows.
On a comment to Di yesterday, I wrote what I thought the words were and then, last night, I let them find their true expression through painting them.
My soul knows the dance of life is a return to Love.
It is what I love most about the creative process. It is holistic. Organic. Self-fulfilling. It arises out of the quiet to find its expression in ideas and words and images. It is the complete expression of me, myself and I.