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.
Walking into the studio to simply be present in its space has been a challenge for me this past week.
Fall has settled in and I have been building a nest to hibernate within, letting go of the possibilities of what comes next.
I resist that walk. I hesitate, tell myself I have other things to do, I’m too tired, too edgy, too anything other than present.
I lose myself into a novel. Turn on the television. Convince myself it’s okay to resist and tumble into that rebellious state where doing what is good for me, what is nurturing and supportive falls short of my conscious decision to not do what I know feeds my spirit.
I have been here before, in this space of rebellious resistance to the things that bring me pleasure, joy, peace, contentment. This place where I resist what opens my heart wide, sets it to beating fearlessly as I move into the flow of creativity coursing through my veins.
I am in my head. Walled up in rebellious denial of my power to walk through the barriers I have placed to keep me out of the heart-space of creativity where I am free to flow in all directions without needing a map, a guidebook, a plan.
In this space I ask myself questions that don’t have answers. They just have rabbit holes down which I slide into perpetual cycling in and out of rationalizing my state of being.
There is only one way to stop spiralling into resistance. Breathe and allow.
Breathe and allow.
Allow what is present without judging it or believing it will be forever.
Now is not forever.
And in the now that is not forever, I find the grace to allow myself to shift from inaction into action.
To turn away from the voice of resistance I must breathe and allow myself the sacred connectedness of sitting in front of a blank page, a white canvas and being present to my fear that what I create is not good enough or not right or that the timing is wrong, that I am not meant to create, or that I am too small to change, or too weak to deal with this state I am in.
There is no right or wrong or enough in creativity and I am never too small, to weak, to nothing. I am all that I am and there is only the act of creating exactly where I am at. There is only the act of casting words upon a page or throwing paint at a surface upon which I have already begun to tell its story if only to change the story that was present when I walked away from the space of believing in all things are possible.
It is sacred ground this creative space. And I have been holding onto the fear I will fall if I believe in it.
I breathe and allow.
Now is not forever and in this not forever place I let go of my fear of being stuck, of falling and of flying.
I breathe and lovingly acknowledge I have moved away, changed, shifted and am holding onto the fear that nothing is possible. In the nothingness of standing in fear with my eyes closed, I cannot see the light shining.
It is in the fearlessness of those moments, those tender, fragile moments where I fear what might be revealing itself upon the canvas or the page that I must let go of my fear and simply stand confidently and unafraid and do that which I fear the most — trust.
Trust in myself. Trust in being present. Trust in the muse, in creativity, the Universe.
When I trust in what is, in where I am, no matter where I am standing, Love is with me, creativity abounds and possibilities open up in endless gratitude for my being present to each moment unfolding.
I have been amusing myself in the land of darkness. It is time to open my eyes and breathe into my fear. It is time to allow possibility, creativity, hope and joy to surface. It is time to let go and trust, no matter what appears, I am safe in this moment of possibility.
Like writing, art-making takes a willingness to move through ‘the bad’ to allow the good to appear.
It is not about finding perfection. It’s about finding the perfect moment to breathe into what appears, exactly the way it is and delight in its presence.
I have been exploring art journalling.
Ah, you may ask, what is an art journal?
Like a diary, it incorporates words and enhances/intensifies them with images to tell your story. An art journal can be used to capture creative ideas, document your thoughts, feelings and happenings along life’s journey, experiment with new ideas and techniques (one of my favourites), and/or to be present in the act of creating for the sake of creating.
I have always been hesitant to call myself an ‘artist’. The label triggers long buried memories of being a teen-ager and wanting to paint and draw but feeling inadequate in the presence of schoolmates who were amazingly talented. My desire to ‘look perfect’ right from the get-go stymied my willingness to risk sharing my creations. I judged myself ‘not as good as’ and let my desire to express myself through visual media go.
In my twenties, I dated a man who was a hobby artist. He gave me some oil paints and encouraged me to ‘have fun’. Being seriously confined by my desire to ‘look perfect’, my attempts at painting were far from fun, they were painful.
I gave up that idea along with the boyfriend and focused on my writing.
My discourse on ‘who am I’ became restricted to ‘a writer’. An artist I was not.
And then, my eldest daughter was born and from a very early age she displayed an incredible artistic ability. Her stickmen were not just lines and wobbly circles. They were identifiable human and animal creations in lifelike relief.
One of her favourite summer activities involved my lining the deck railings with drawing paper, filling pots with tempera and setting her free to paint the world in all its colours — She was Frida Kahlo in diapers!
And still, I did not pick up a brush until one day, when she was around 15, she asked if we could go to the art store. She wanted to paint and needed supplies. On a whim, I said, “I think I’ll paint with you,” and my love affair began.
There I was, mid-forties discovering a lie I’d told myself as truth wasn’t true. I was an artist.
And the question became, what other things do I tell myself about myself that limit my experiences simply because I tell myself they’re true? What truths do I not challenge in my quest to stay safe in my limiting beliefs?
After over 7 years of continuous blogging (I started my original blog, Recover Your Joy, on March 10, 2007) with a post called, Scooping Up The Shadows), I have learned a great deal, met some amazing people and… allowed myself to write bad again and again and again.
Along the way, I’ve created a body of work that is a reflection of who I am, how I am and where I am in the world.
I am not perfect. I am me.
I learnt that from blogging everyday about what it is that makes my world shiny and bright, even when clouds are blocking the sun, even when I’m feeling fuzzy and blue or sunny and free.
It doesn’t matter how I’m feeling, my commitment is to turn up on the page and find the gift in everything. To write through the bad to find the truth and beauty in every aspect of my life.
It is not about finding the perfection. It’s about experiencing creation. All of it. And the act of creation is not a defined art. It is limitless.
I have been exploring art journalling. Some of my pages please me. Some of them give me pause to ponder the gifts of creation. They give me space to ask myself, how willing am I to let go of my need to ‘look perfect’ to simply be present to the perfection of this moment, right now.
I am learning and I am grateful for the gifts I find in every moment.
I am a writer, an artist, a creative spirit finding her expression through shadow and light.
To see my latest journal page and read the poem (created with it, In The Quiet Hours) click HERE.
There was once a little girl who was afraid of colour. To see the golden yellow of the sun, or the deep green velvet of the forest, or the vibrant hues of the garden filled her heart with fear.
Terrified of all the colour in the world, she walked through each day with her eyes squinted against the onslaught of beauty that she could not witness. Fearful of the world of colour that bombarded her senses with every glance, she covered her ears to the songs of enchantment all around and cowered beneath the belief that she was right to cling to her fears.
“Give me black and white,” she pleaded in the darkness of her mind.
And the world closed in around her until all she saw were the shadows between the colours of the world.
The story above appeared in my meditation as tendrils of thoughts whispering their away into substance.
I opened my eyes and let the words flow. Let them form themselves upon the page.
It is what I find most enlivening and mystical about the creative process. When I stop squinting my eyes, when I stop fearing what might be, or not be, magic and wonder happens.
When I fear. When I force or try to push the muse into a container, to direct her into this way or that, the wonder disappears and I am left feeling left out, apart, and let down, telling myself, there is no magic. There is no mystery. there is no possibility of beauty rescuing the light from the darkness.
In fear, I fall into that place where all I see is what I fear. Where all I know is what I expect to be the mundane, the same as, the predictable of life lived in the comfort of the darkness I crave when I let go of seeing the light in every thing and everyone.
At River Rock Studio, immersed in the creative process, without access to Internet or TV, the world fell away into that place where all I knew was its beauty. There was no war, no famine, no hurricane or jet planes being shot down. There was no enemy, no terrorist, no terror.
There was only the muse and me. Connected. Committed. Creative. And in that connection, I was part of the flow of the essential essence of the Universe. I was one with life. One creative expression flowing with the expressions of everyone all around me.
It is rarefied air. Elementary. Essential.
I tell myself, it is impossible to maintain such a connection to the essential nature of the world around me when I live connected to the world through everyday happenings.
“It is much too hard work to continuously live with your senses open to being alive,” the critter hisses. “Don’t tire yourself out. It’s not worth it. The world doesn’t care if you create. The world doesn’t need more creation. It needs more safety. More same old. More conformance to staying the course so it can keep ticking along without interference from the likes of you.”
And I sigh.
I know that critter’s voice. It is the voice of self-denial. Of refusal to see, we are all essential to the evolution of life. We are all creative expressions of amazing grace.
Anything is possible as long as I do not shut my eyes to the colours of the world. As long as I stay open and available to the song’s of enchantment flowing all around, all the magic and wonder and mystery of the world is mine to explore, to see, to know.
It is the beauty of the creative process. The wonder of this space where I let go of fear and fall, fearlessly, into awe knowing, to do my best in the world and for the world, I must allow my best to flow free.
I have also shared another poem I wrote at River Rock Studio during my art retreat — this one was written when I returned home and carried the memory of the joy of creativity into my weekend. Breathing Under Water.
Day 3: River Rock Studio — On the way to finding the path, I found my way.
We painted until midnight. Four adults revelling in the joy of discovery, initiation, anticipation of what happens when we let go of judgement to fall into that place where all we know is what is right before us in the presence of the present of now.
We laughed. Teased. Shared stories. Of art. Art-making. Art-treasuring. We shared ideas. Scraps of paper, “here try this piece there.” “Does anyone have any Green Gold?”
We shared ideas, thoughts, experiments that worked and one’s that didn’t.
We painted medium over magazine pages and set them to dry. We ironed on and peeled back. We worked alone and together. Separately and as one.
And through it all, the muse entwined us in her seductive call to let go, become, allow.
“It’s not only having the information that counts,” Jonathan had told us earlier in the day. “It’s knowing how to share it.”
With yourself. The canvas. One another. The world.
“Art is a visual language,” Jonathan said. “the more we play with it, the more comfortable we become with the elements.”
I am stuck. My piece is not working.
I am attached to the elements, the composition, the path I’ve chosen.
Jonathan sits on the other side of my work table. “Take the elements off the substrate,” he says. “All of them.”
I take them off.
“You have 3 minutes to rearrange them,” he says. “Make a new composition.” And looks at his watch, timing me.
I rearrange the pieces of my collage.
“Do you like it?” he asks.
“It’s okay,” I tell him.
“Do it again,” he says.
And I do. Again and again, each time working to place the elements without thought, without attachment.
“None of it is permanent. None of it,” he says when I have arranged the elements into a final pose.
And in the reconstruction of the composition, I discover harmony in other ways.
There is no one right way to discover the path. There is only the path I take and always, there are many paths to find myself.
I had arisen early to sit outside in the morning light. In silence, I sat and heard the birdsong, the leaves rustling. Somewhere in the distance, I heard a coyote yip, an owl hoot. Somewhere in the distance, there were many things I could not hear. Voices talking. Laughing. Calling to one another, rising to greet the day. Cars passing over asphalt, a bird landing on the still surface of a pond, rippling it for a moment as it touched down.
I knew all these things were happening, somewhere in the distance, and still I sat. Alone. Quiet. At peace in the early morning light.
Another day of wonder and awe awaits. Another day unfolds in the joy of creating without any intention other than to learn and express and experience the gifts the muse has to share.
Living an ART filled life...“Creativity is a God-given ability to take something ordinary and make it into something special. It is an openness to doing old things new ways…The creative spirit is part of our heritage as children of the One who created all things. And nurturing our creativity is part of our responsibility as stewards of God’s good gifts.” - Emilie Barnes, The Spirit of Loveline