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.
Sometime ago a friend asked me to join her and other women in creating a book of wisdom for a niece who was turning 13. Ultimately, after writing my list of “10 Things I would tell my 13 Year-Old Self if I could change her life”, I discovered that what I would have told myself then is really, what my 60+ self still needs to hear and know and breathe into everyday.
This post originally appeared on my blog in May 2014 and then Sept. 2017. As I was contemplating what went with No 47 in my #ShePersisted Series, these 10 things came to mind. The 11th would be, “You are responbile for your own happiness. Do not abdicate your responsibility to someone else. Take charge of your life.”
Ten Things I would tell my 13-year-old self if I could change her life.
There is no such place as forever. Nothing is forever. This too shall pass. Whatever you are experiencing, the trauma, the angst, the joy, they are all illusory. Transitory. Ride whatever is happening hands free, barefooted, body wide open to the experiences of life. Now is not forever.
You’re okay. More than okay, you are amazing. Just the way you are. There is no fashion too out there, no style too wild if it is what you want to wear. You are not too fat, too skinny, to short, too tall, too under-developed, over-developed. You are who you are, how you are. And that’s amazing.
You are worthy. This is a tricky one. Your mind wants to steal this one away and hide it because to know your worth, you must risk — the unknown. the perceived impossible. You must risk the ups and downs, ins and outs, overs and unders of life. To know your worth, you must know there is nothing, noone, no way anyone can steal it from you. It is your birthright.
Believe in you. Really, really believe in you. Don’t question your right to be. Don’t question you’re right to go anywhere, do anything, anyway you choose. Be you. Everyone else is taken. Wear your hair up, down, wild, straight. Colour it pink, gold, orange or green. It’s your body. Your hair. Your skin. Your life. Your right to believe in you and be you just the way you are.
Be kind. People will say mean things. Do cruel things. Be kind. Like you, they struggle to know their worth, find their place, feel their feelings. Like you, they are taking this journey of life without a manual, unable to control and predict everything life will throw at them. Like you, they are sometimes scared, sometimes silly, sometimes confused, sometimes wise. And like you, they too are looking to fit in, to belong, to be part of something bigger than themselves. Be kind, no matter how they act. Be kind.
You don’t have to find your meaning. You are your meaning. Live it with your whole heart wide open to life. Your meaning is not in wearing the latest fashion or having the coolest stuff. Your meaning is found in how you approach every moment, engage every person from that place where you know, no matter what you think they think about you, you think and know you are amazing, just the way you are.
Seek magnificence. Don’t go looking for mediocrity. Seek to be known through your magnificence and seek always to know others through theirs. Don’t look for fault, seek the lessons, seek the knowing, seek the value in all things.
Risk often. Life isn’t a predictable series of events over which you have ultimate control. The only person you have control over is yourself – and even then you’ll sometimes doubt just how in control of yourself you are. Risk anyway because, if you’re involved with others, there will be lots of messy, sticky, unexpected and sometimes painful things happening on your journey. They’re just things. It’s all just stuff. You are amazing – I know, I said it already – it’s true. Believe it. Risk living from the place of knowing you are okay, you are amazing, you are magnificent. Risk living as if it’s true — because it is.
Smile often. Laugh lots. Dance always. And when you cry, cry out loud. When you laugh, laugh out loud. And when you see injustice, ask what can I do to change it, and do that thing with your whole heart and know, that is enough. You are enough. You don’t have to have all the answers, you only need to learn the one’s that will allow you to make the difference in the world you want to see and be. And that’s enough.
Get creative. Don’t go looking inside boxes for the recipe for life. Live it not knowing what’s next. Live it expecting the unexpected. Live it free of holding onto hurts and pains, sorrows and regrets. Live it up. Fill it with joy. and always, always SHINE! Because you are amazing. You are worthy. You are magnificent. And that’s the only truth you need to know to live your life fearlessly in Love with all of you.
Years ago, when I was a newly minted manager of a communications department in a start-up tech company, I struggled with keeping my emotions in check when discussing difficult topics. During meetings with my boss, an A-Type personality, I would sit and try to explain what I was dealing with while he paced his office, continuously pitching a small rubber nerf ball into a basketball hoop he had set up on a sideboard.
I knew it was not okay to cry, but the more difficult the problem I was trying to sort out, the faster he would pace and the more unnerved I would become. Unnerved, my tears inevitably followed while I tried desperately to stuff them back down my throat. He’d get upset by my display of emotion. I’d get upset with his rapidly escalating pacing and my inability to stop my emotions from stealing my voice and self-esteem.
It was not pretty.
One day, when I had to discuss a very challenging problem and needed his guidance, I knew the past would repeat itself if I did not do something different.
I took my own box of kleenex into the meeting.
In essence, I told him that my tears were simply part of my expression just as his pacing and throwing the ball into the hoop was part of his. At least this time he wouldn’t have to go searching for the kleenex box he kept in a drawer. I had my own.
The meeting went much better. He still paced but, having given myself permission to cry, my frustration eased and I was able to get through the meeting with my composure intact.
It was a great lesson, though many years later, I have still not perfected the art of giving myself permission to be okay with my emotions and how I express them. I still attempt in times of stress or discord, to control my emotions by stifling my truth.
The art is in giving myself permission to breathe and consciously invite myself to ‘open up to expansion’ so that I can express myself without censuring my truth, and thus my emotions. When I speak from my truth, without being attached to the outcome, I am free to express my thoughts without igniting emotional outbursts that undermine my power and presence.
Card No 35 #ShePersisted All My Emotions
We are conditioned to think of some emotions as ‘bad’ while others we deem ‘good’. As we ‘grow-up’ and become more mature, we are counselled to not display too much of even those emotions deemed as good. All things in moderation, my dear. Don’t make a scene. Don’t be too emotional. You’ll make others feel uncomfortable.
There is no ‘good and/or bad’ in our emotions. There are just our emotions. How we express them is up to us.
We can’t control our emotions, but they can control us, when we do not heal the broken places within so that our emotions are expressed in safe and loving ways.
Anger, like laughter is simply an expression of how we are responding to the situation we face, in this moment right now. When our expression becomes radically greater than the moment in which we stand, our anger, and our laughter, are signs of something deeper within calling us to explore unhealed places. Pushing them down, ignoring their call, makes our angry or hysterical responses fight harder to be heard. In their fight for expression, we become a target of their need to act out, undermining our capacity to be fully present in the now.
This card is inviting you to explore your anger and laughter. Ask yourself, “Is my anger present based, or does it constantly simmer, just below the surface of my thoughts, waiting for opportunities to erupt?” “Is my laughter genuine or am I hiding behind my ‘shadow laugh’, that nervous, automatic response I give when I am uncomfrotable, don’t know what to say or am telling myself I don’t belong. I am unworthy. Nobody likes me?”
Ultimately, expressing our emotions in loving and kind ways creates a world of loving kindness. When we allow our emotions to have unconditional reign over our lives, we are not present to ourselves or the moment. We are acting out from past hurts and pains, and letting ourselves off the hook of being accountable in the present.
To be accountable, we must face the darkness we fear within, and turn up in the light of today, expressing ourselves with loving kindness. Fully present, acting in all things with integrity including how we express our emotions, we create a world of peace and joy all around us.
Staying unactivated by the opinions of others can be challenging. As women, we are conditioned to give ground to what others say. We have been raised to listen to the internal voice that says, “I should do [this] or [that].” Or, the one that says, “Authority/men know best.” We have been trained to not trust ourselves.
Learning to trust ourselves calls us to listen to our hearts. It is a life-long journey into empowered self-love, that place where we listen to our wise inner voice that intuitively recognizes and honours our natural states of being present, shoulds and all, without leting ourselves be pounded into submissoin by the ‘shoulds of habit’.
The shoulds of habit are deadly.
They zap you of energy. Drive you into silence. Keep you playing small.
The shoulds of habit make other’s voices more important. Other’s opinions your truth.
Learning to give way to empowered self-love means listening for the ‘shoulds’ that tell you how to be, what to do, and say, and not letting yourself fall into the fray of conforming, just for the sake of not making waves. Not standing out. Not speaking your truth.
Learning to breathe into empowered self-love creates space for all your truth, no matter what you label it, good, bad, ugly, indifferent, beautiful. Empowered self-love heals the broken spaces within where you have lost touch with the Divine Feminine,
This card is an invitation to listen deeply to ‘the shoulds of habit’ and ask yourself, “If I am being truly authentic, if I am walking my true path and not falling into habitual ways of giving in or letting others tell me what to do or is best for me, what is my heart calling out for me to claim as my birthright? What is my heart yearning to express?”
Listen to your heart. Let the opinions of others remain their property. Claim the sacred ground of your Divine Feminine essence as you dance in the light of your heart beating to the drum of your deep feminine wisdom calling you to rise up, shine, and soar free of the ‘shoulds of habit’.
Yesterday, as I was cleaning out some files in preparation for my transition from the office to rejuvenation spaces, I found my Performance Review from February 2018.
When I had first joined the organization it was with the intent of staying for one year to help establish their communications and government relations strategy. One year would have been May 2018. When I did my Performance Review, the one year mark was approaching and the ED at the time had asked me to consider staying a bit longer in order to support him in achieving a couple of critical strategic directions. I was enjoying the work, the people and the challenges and agreed. In my Performance Review under “Goals”, I wrote that my goal was to create a succession plan that would allow me to transition from workplace to retirement by…. (wait for it)…. end of May 2019.
I was prescient without even realizing it. I’m fulfilling on a goal I’d given a specific date to, and forgotten!
Don’t you love serendipity?
On May 31 I shall be transitioning out of my daytime job to step into the as of yet undefined spaces of retirement/rejuvenation. In March, when the Board announced the selection of the new Executive Director who is taking on the role on April 15, I met with her to discuss my transition. We agreed that six weeks would be ample time for me to transfer any needed knowledge and to assist her with a couple of specific tasks. At the time, I truly hadn’t remembered the goal from my Performance Review. At the time, we set the date as May 31.
I felt light-headed when I saw my note in my Performance Review. I felt calm and filled with a sense of satisfaction and peace.
Yesterday, after I’d spent an hour and a half meeting with the incoming ED, I left feeling uplifted, inspired, free. The agency will be in great hands.
As I move towards April 15 and then May 31, I am beginning the process of releasing my sense of ‘belonging’ to the organization. With each day, as I clear out old files and create a folder for the new ED of issues/ideas/projects in process that need her attention, I am also working on my release of needing/wanting to be engaged in everything.
It is an expansive place this releasing of my sense of belonging. And while I shall always feel a deep admiration and respect for the amazing people who work there and the incredible work they do and the vitalness of that work to our communities and the families served, I shall be pulling away from ‘the work’ itself to create space for my own work to evolve.
Last night, as I sat down at the work table in my studio and began to create, the #ShePersisted Series muse awoke and invited me to explore my creative essence through her voice.
As I splashed paint and moved through that grungy space of ‘Ugh. Nothing is looking right,” which is an inevitable part of my creative process, I was reminded of how when I first started at the agency almost two years ago, I knew little about its inner workings and needs and the imperatives of ending child and family homelessness. There have been moments over the past two years when I wondered if I was ‘doing it right’, getting it?’.
Those wonderings are integral parts of every creative endeavour, of everything I do. They keep me open to change. Keep me listening for inner truth, other’s truths and connected to possibility in every truth. As I move beyond ‘the workforce’ to being a force of my creative change, I carry with me all I’ve learned, experienced, heard and seen. I carry with me the incredible passion of so many people to create better in the world for those whose voices have been stifled and those whose dreams have been lost beneath the struggles of poverty and homelessness.
I carry with me my own inate desire to create better in the world so that everyone, no matter their status, colour of skin, faith or riches can experience the wonder and awe of being who they are, exactly as they are right now.
No 49 in the #ShePersisted Series came into being last night. I’m excited to explore the more of what can happen when I let go of ‘9 to 5’and step into the uncharted spaces of rejuventation where I am wild and free. I am woman. I am me. . .
When I began the #ShePersisted series in the spring of 2017 I had no idea what this process would awaken within me. I didn’t know the possibilities.
I created 1, then 2 and a 3rd and then the muse reminded me that I am not in control. She kept flowing and I kept creating, until I’d painted and created quotes for 47 paintings.
And then I stopped. We bought a new home, my studio was put into boxes, we lived in a rented apartment while we renovated. After four months, we moved into our home along the river but my studio space was not complete. I let it go. I was busy. Work was taxing and engrossing. I didn’t need a ‘space’. Or so I told myself.
Last fall I reconnected with my creative expressions when I took an Alcohol Ink course with the amazingly talented Allyson Thain.
…And I was reminded — creative expression is vital to my well-being.
I’ve reactivated my studio space and now, I once again feel myself shifting, changing, emerging like each painting in the series emerged from the mists of creative expression.
This series is a journey in self-discovery and expression.
One of my desires with this series is to create a set of divination cards that women and men can use to inspire courage and grace in their daily living.
Over the next weeks, I shall be diving deeper into what is at the essence of each paintings message. These ‘messages’ will be the foundation of the card deck I’ll be creating and selling.
I hope you journey along with me. I hope these messages open space for you to find your true self calling out to your heart, your voice and your entire being to rise up and shine!
Painting No 5. Rock the Boat
If you’ve never swam in the ocean or don’t know how to swim, it can be scary to rock the boat.
It’s okay, as long as you wear a life jacket, you’ll find yourself swimming in the open waters of limitless possibilities.
The Rock the Boat card is an invitation to speak up in those places where you feel silenced. Where you feel like your voice doesn’t matter
or where you are worrying about what others might think of you if you carve your own path.
We are each responsible to turn up in our lives, to pay attention and to speak our truth
without being attached to the outcome. If you fear speaking up because you’re worried about what others might think of you
or doing what you believe is best for you, even if it’s different than what others say, ask yourself,
“What is worse? To carry the anger of silence and inaction within me or to let go of my fear of speaking my truth and living my life my way?”
Dare to be bold. Dare to be brave. Rock the Boat. Just carry a life jacket if you don’t know how to swim because
sometimes, when we rock the boat we fall into the deep end of life. Happy swimming!
Yesterday, I painted and breathed into the truth of art as Pablo Picasso once described it, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
After four days of grandson time, my heart-felt light and breezy. My senses alive.
I’d given myself a day of relaxation before returning to my office. A day to breathe into the open spaces of time unplanned. When the muse called and invited me to explore my creative essence, I stepped into my studio, picked up a paintbrush and began to express myself freely.
In March 2017, I began a series of paintings titled, “The #ShePersisted” Series. Inspired by the events in the US congress that lead to Senator Mitch McConnell stating, “She was warned… Nevertheless, she persisted,” about fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren, I heard the call of the wild woman within me; the one who stands tall when told to sit down, who speaks up when told to be quiet. I began to paint the series, got to No. 47 and then… we moved, my studio was packed up and the series went into hibernation with the wild woman’s silence.
Yesterday, the wild woman within returned. This painting is No. 48 in the series. “I am worthy.”
In everyone’s life there is a place where we fear or believe someone else determines our worth.
As a teenager, I remember desperately wanting to fit in while fearing the price of doing so. I bought the latest styles. Danced the latest steps and gushed over the latest Hollywood heart-throb, juggling school and extracurricular activities and a parttime job while struggling to figure out what to do with my future. University. Job. What next?
In my twenties, I railed against conforming as I donned the wardrobe of a working woman. I wore suits and carried a briefcase and told myself my worth was made up in the things I carried and the height of the ladder I climbed.
In my thirties I became a mother. I was struggling in the ‘wife’ role, but I could do the mother thing to perfection. Or so I thought. The pressure to do it all, have it all, be it all became a daily treadmill of workdays spent rushing from meeting to meeting and weekends chasing my husband up rocky screeslopes and glacial expanses or hurrying my daughters from birthday party to dance class to sleepovers and playdates. And did I mention I was always training for half and full marathons, throwing elegant dinner parties and learning to cook in the latest craze?
My forties brought an abrupt end to much of my life as I knew it. I failed completely (or at least that’s what I called it) as a wife and became a single mother of two pre-teen girls. Briefcase in one hand, dance outfits and bobbypins in the other, the treadmill picked up speed until I ran full tilt into a man who professed he would love me until death do us part, and wound up taking the death part way too seriously.
It was that painful encounter that opened the doors to my freedom from believing my worth was determined somewhere ‘out there’. Healing from the devestation of that relationship meant taking a deep dive into my psyche, rotor-rooting into the bedrock of my being to find who I truly am. It was there, in the broken pieces of my feminine soul that I found myself waiting where I’d always been. Grounded in the brilliance and magnificence of my inherent human condition, I discovered, I am worthy. Period. No explanation needed. No caveats. No designer clothes or big titled job to prove it. I am worthy.
We are all worthy. Period. No explanation needed.
As I journey through my sixties towards this place called ‘retirement’, I hold steadfast in my belief of my human worth. It is irrevocable. It is priceless. It is undefeatable.
I may struggle with letting go of my working identity, or rail against falling into the ease of unstructured days, the truth is, nothing and no one can change my worth, my worthiness.
I am worthy.
You are worthy.
We are worthy.
Grounded in that truth, the open fields of possibility planted within the seeds of my creative passions, are calling me to explore what it means to express myself in freedom.
I am excited. It promises to be a fascinating journey. Hail the Wild Woman Within!
upon the sunset
of happily ever-after
never to rise
a new day
breaks in darkness
never to be
the moon’s farewell
deep into the envelope
a kiss sealed
on the lips
of secret’s laid bare
upon love’s pillow
into the night
threadbare and worn
never to be
of a new day
of secrets sealed
into the inky black depths
of memories caprice
a new day
free and awakened
a giant cosmic egg
freeing the night
to the dark
I felt challenged today. Challenged to pick up my ‘pen’ and write of awakening in images bursting from my mind. Long ago, I thought in poetry. Long ago, I wrote, never in rhyme, rhyme is too predictable, too constructed for me. I wrote in poetic prose. Images skittering onto the page, in a hurry to reach their destination, tripping over each other to form an idea, an image, a poignant light shimmering upon the page.
Obviously the muse and I are still entranced with the dance of creativity. My senses merging with her creative exhortations to let go, awaken, dance.
It’s not difficult to play it safe. To take the same old path, to stay the course of how it’s always been done.
It’s not difficult. But it can be numbing, tiring, maybe even heart-breaking.
Just for today, imagine there is no path. That every step you take you are creating as you go. That even though you ‘know the answer’, there are answers you don’t know.
Ask yourself, “Am I doing it this way because it’s the way I’ve always done it? I wonder what would happen if I changed it up?”
And when the critter, that negative little voice in your head who thinks he’s keeping you safe by holding you to the tried and true, pipes up with, “Why change it if it’s working?”, lovingly embrace his fears and tell him you aren’t changing what’s working, you’re exploring a new way to see what else works.
Changing things up isn’t about ‘throwing out the baby with the bath water’.
It’s about checking the temperature of the water to see if it’s gotten too cold because the baby’s been in it too long.
Pick one thing you do every day that doesn’t need to change (technically), but has the possibility of change.
Like how you drive to work. Choose a different route.
Or, if you always match your handbag to your shoes, or never mix silver and gold jewellry, change it up. Do it. Wear mis-matched socks or earrings. Wear brown shoes with black pants. And if you’ve never cared about mis-matching, go for matching.
Do something unusual, not to create the discomfort of change, but instead, to explore your responses to change. Be curious about what it is that makes you feel uncomfortable in the change.
Be curious about yourself.
Give yourself permission to ‘do it my way’ and see what happens when you let go of your mindset that says, ‘why change it if it’s working?’
Be curious about what happens inside you when you step outside your comfort zone. Explore those feelings. Be an observer of yourself doing things differently.
For the past year, since starting to paint The #ShePersisted Series in late February 2017, I have told myself that when I get to 52 paintings in the Series, I will write a corresponding descriptor of what the piece means.
I’ve completed 47 paintings in the series but won’t have my studio completed until the fall.
So… rather than do it the way I planned, I’m going to start writing the descriptors for the one’s I’ve already painted – in random order. This is No. 19 of the Series.
It also means, 52 paintings may, or may not appear.
I’m curious to see how I’ll respond to the freedom of not having to reach the number 52. Maybe I’ll stop here. Maybe I’ll go higher!
I wonder what will happen when I start writing out the descriptors in no specific order….
I’m doin’ it my way.
To read more about the #ShePersisted Series and to view the completed paintings, click HERE.
When I began the #ShePersisted series I thought that I would create 12 images and quotes for the series, and that would be that.
Ideas continue to flow. The muse persists.
I am grateful.
The muse and I have a love/hate relationship. She loves me 100% of the time, I am not so loyal. In fact, I like to tell myself, I don’t need her. Or, in my willful disregard of her presence, I like to believe she has deserted me.
It is my victim’s voice. That monkey mind chattering place where I tell myself all sorts of things to justify why/how/what isn’t happening in my life, isn’t my fault/responsibility/accountability.
I cannot control 100% of what appears on my path. I can choose to be 100% accountable for what I choose to do with what appears.
This morning, the muse awakened me with her insistence I pay heed.
I decided to get 100% accountable and take her lead.
The thoughts that awoke me were about my youngest daughter’s ballet point shoes that still hang from the corner of the armoire in my art storage room downstairs.
They are pink. Scuffed. Well worn.
I remember the first time she danced ‘en pointe’. She was so excited, in spite of the pain.
She continued to persist, to push herself to dance ‘en pointe’ because it was so beautiful, so seemingly effortless when done well.
It was never effortless. And it always hurt.
In her teens, her feet were a mess.
I am grateful today for her wisdom to stop doing it.
I didn’t want to interfere. I didn’t want to take a stand against doing something she obviously loved, even though it caused her pain.
Life’s like that. We do things, in spite of the pain, telling ourselves we have no choice. To be a ballerina, you must dance ‘en pointe’.
To be a woman, you must wear clothes, shoes, outfits that squeeze, reveal, bunch, crunch and push up places that don’t need pushing up and scrunching in. Not to please ourselves, but rather, because we believe it is important to please others.
I like my daughters point shoes hanging in my art storage room.
They are a good reminder to stop doing things to please others, even though it hurts me.
May your day be filled with ease of heart, mind, and body. May you have the wisdom to stop doing things to please others if doing them hurts you.