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Monday, December 24, 2012

Self, Self, Self

I have self-esteem issues. Let me just throw it out there, get it out of the way, prior to any further conversation. From the time I was very young, I've always had the distinct knowledge that I wasn't 'enough' -- not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, clever enough, talented enough. Just not 'enough.' I don't know why that is. I cannot point to a specific event that provided me with that knowledge. On the contrary, I often excelled at things, as a child. I found formal education to be particularly easy and somewhat dull. I could perform virtually any task I put my mind to at an average level, or above. Those things are still mostly true, today. I'm an insatiable learner, who is never tired of gaining new information, most of which I retain without difficulty. And, I love to do new things, to learn new things. I'm always teaching myself obscure tasks -- reading tarot, writing in Runic, making corsets or shoes or homemade soap. I never tire of those pursuits.

But, despite all of my many interests, the ugly demon Inferiority comes to call, occasionally. Normally, I'm able to manage her attacks by looking at things from an intellectual and objective perspective. But, not always. Sometimes, she sneaks up on me, gathering her energies, and sits on my shoulder, very quietly, while she whispers sick horrors in my ear, "you're not good enough...why even try that when you know you're going to fail...stop trying to pretend you're a good person when you know you're not...it's easier to let it all go and just do your worst...if you do nothing, you cannot fail...they will only laugh at you behind your back...no one really likes you."

When she takes this insidious approach, it is more difficult to fend her off. It seems to happen more frequently, for me, at this particular time of the year...when the world seems quite busy, and darkness rules with long nights and so much time spent indoors. When we're all surrounded by the chaos of the holiday season, with their lights and glitter and unrealistic expectations. When, for whatever reason, our entire society has been socialized into the belief that everything can and should be perfect, outstanding, and and downright miraculous. Everyone should be blissfully happy. Every house should be filled with beloveds and good cheer. Miracles fly free around the world and settle on each of our lives by virtue of the season. We will have money from who knows where that will suddenly fill our wallets so that we don't have to worry about the possibility of rejection by others, because we're going to buy their companionship and love.

Can you hear my disbelief? Its there, quite raw and front. I don't believe in commercial holiday chaos. I don't participate in it. I give gifts only to my immediate family, most of them are handmade. I ask that no gifts be given to me, less they are handmade. Although, I gladly accept photos of my beloveds, if they wish to share them. Does this keep me from doubting myself and my convictions when I read the busy Facebook statuses of my friends..."wrapping, wrapping, wrapping...lots of shopping today...I know what you got..."? Nope. That ugly demon Inferiority comes to call, spitting into my ear, "You should be doing that..spending every last dime..you must not love your people at all..you don't make enough money..you're never good enough, you should be ashamed."

I have no need of gifts. I have the material things I need. And, when it comes right down to it, what I DO need is fellowship, love, companionship, togetherness. Because, it is very easy for me to spend most of my time alone, where there's no chance of criticism or complaint, other than the ones that stir in my own head. I can indulge myself in my many pursuits and feel well. I have the benefits of a soul-mate who understands me, friends who accept me, and a structure for living that suits me.

We all must walk our path, side-stepping its refuse and pollutants. I have named mine. Its in my nature to give words to things. So, for today, I banish the demon Inferiority. She will not sit my shoulder, today. Instead, I'll spend my day in the light (even when its cold), with my beloveds.

I wish you good cheer, no matter your holiday. Not the kind that comes from packages and bottles, but the kind that comes from hearts and laughter.







Saturday, December 15, 2012

When Tragedy Strikes


My attitude around loss sometimes gets me in trouble with other people, who mistake my admission of lack of control to a cavalier dismissal. It is not. Here are my thoughts: While it is a true tragedy what happened in CT, yesterday, it was beyond all of my control. I cannot control an errant, ill person who commits such a crime; nor the deaths of innocents; nor the deaths of those attempting to protect them. I cannot deem whose time it is to move on to the next realm and whose time it is to stay. I have no ability to heal those who've suffered the tragedy. I have no say, at all.

This, in no way, diminishes the sad and horrific events. It is merely an admission of true powerlessness. I have also taken notice that, when events such as these occur, people want to DO something. They want to regulate something. They want to pass laws. They want to make a difference to try to prevent it in the future. Delaware was a wonderful case in point on this fouled attempt. Earl Bradley, who is perhaps the most prolific child sex offender ever prosecuted in the USA was a Delaware pediatrician who amassed more than 100 known victims, most under the age of 12 months. He video taped many of the assaults. He was successfully stripped of his medical license, tried, convicted, and incarcerated for the rest of his life. But, then Delaware did the predictable things -- they wanted to DO something. So, they passed 26 pieces of legislation in response to the tragic evil of one man. The legislation is redundant and contradictory in some cases. It also does nothing to prevent the act from occurring. There were already systems in place to address these issues. The problem was that the entities and agencies in charge of doing so didn't follow their own protocols, not that they were powerless or unable to act. But, Delaware, like most people, wanted to point the finger and assign blame. Was that really necessary? How does it help the victims to further convolute our legal system with more laws? Its will never prevent tragedy.

I hear, again, the cry for gun law restriction. There are no ongoing psychological evaluations required to own a weapon. Unless we are willing to create those laws, there is no reason to further regulate weaponry. And, lets face it: the only persons impacted by gun laws are law-abiding citizens. Criminals do not buy their guns in legal ways. They buy them on the street, unregistered, from other criminals. They will ALWAYS have access to weapons. Making gun laws stricter does nothing but keep weapons out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. It makes no sense. (Yes, I am a gun owner. Yes, I have the RIGHT to defend myself against those who would do me harm in this world.)

If you really want to DO something, pray. Pray for all involved, including the perpetrator and his family. If we truly want human kindness to be a part of the reality of the fabric of our universe, than we need to begin to practice it ourselves. Otherwise, its all just lip service. Hug your own loved ones. Tell them what they mean to you. Be a good friend, parent, partner, lover, child, etc. Work to be a loving influence in the lives of others, every day, not just when something terrible happens. We shouldn't need reminders to be kind to our beloveds.

Finally, I've heard, repeatedly, by well-meaning and kind people in their comments on this particular tragedy how the world is a "big...lonely...scary...terrifying...awful" place. IT IS NOT! I so sincerely hope that none of those people believe that. Because, therein lay our biggest problem. Our world is NOT a scary or cruel place. Our world is amazing, joyful, filled with light and love and phenomenal people and things. I can only imagine that these people have fallen victim to our sensationalistic and interloping media, who focus so intently on every awful thing, with no mention of the positive, that people begin to believe their lies and misrepresentations. Let me help you put things into perspective: How many bad things have happened to you, this year? Now, how many good things? I would venture to bet that the list is pretty even. And, if you really think about it, there are probably far more blessings than challenges. There are lots of psychological reasons why we focus heavily on those situations which are tragic...there is actually good brain science that explains how we feel more impact and are more likely to remember traumatic events than good ones. Therefore, our thinking mind requires us to put things in appropriate perspective.

I do not watch the news media's representations of human cruelty. They are invasive. They repeatedly and uncaringly re-victimize the victims, the families, and the communities. They care not who they get their sound-bytes from or whether that source is responsible or, even, involved and informed. Its offensive to me. I will not encourage their misrepresentation of the world in their vain attempts to garner readers, viewers, or participation.

I will not ruminate on the details of this or any other tragedy. I will not talk about it with others. I will say my prayers and move forward. There is quite enough negative energy in our world. I will not contribute to that layer of negativity any further. I will be positive, and contribute love and light. I have always believed that we reap what we sow. If we put nothing but negativity in the world, we are letting those who would spread darkness win. Does that sound dramatic? Maybe. But, its truth, isn't it? The constant struggle between light and dark, good and evil, love and sorrow is really the definition of our lives, in sum total. I choose light, love, and good. I will focus myself there. I hope that others will join me.



Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Little Things


Sometimes, its not the "big" pieces that matter...not the ones you plan to "say something" with.



Sometimes, its the little, simple things you do...things meant as a gift, holding love in your heart for the person intended.
 
 
Sometimes, those are the ones that mean the very most...the ones you craft with adoration and care.
 
 
I noticed, again, that it took several layers to get the effect I wanted, and this is only step 1. I want to add glimmer (step 2); and lettering for my granddaughter's room (step 3).
 
Because, after all, isn't life all about building the layers? Layers of relationships, deepening or shallowing, as we move toward and away from each other. Layers of understanding, tentative steps forward and racing back, as we come to acceptance.
 
I'll keep working. On layers.
 
 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Elemental


And, finally, she's done.

I realized, once I was able to trust myself with the last few strokes of the brush, what she was missing -- cool blues and greens.

It was when I looked at her, knowing she was complete that her name drifted into my head....while she stood in front of the water and the sky, she contains all of the elements -- brown and green for earth, blue for water, yellow for air, red for fire. Proud, arms lifted in joy, grounded and whole, she moves about the world, in absolute completion.....ELEMENTAL.

Blessed be.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Still

I worked on her some more. She's a beauty, but she just doesn't seem to be speaking to me. So, back on the standing easel she went to rest until she decided to be more communicative.
 
Yesterday, was one of those days, for me. You know those days. The ones where everything you attempt takes an unintended turn and you're not sure where you were going, to begin with. Pretty much all my attempts went sideways, like that. I started a new project, just to get the first layer down, and to begin building the texture and the time. It took less time than I expected and didn't look like I envisioned. Honestly, I'm used to that. Rarely do they ever look like I imagine them, pre-process. Why do you think that is?
 
My opinion? Because I really don't know the big picture. I don't know where my life, or life as a whole, is headed. I don't know what is in store for me, or you, or even the planet. I have my opinions, and my guesses. But, they are not set in stone. In my mind, the glory of life is that it is revealed in bits...one sunrise at a time, one touch at a time, one smile at a time, one tear at a time, one ticking second at a time...until each experience builds, one upon another, like the texture of skin against silk, or fur against soil, or layers of paint.
 
Because, in the end, its not the years that we live that matters, its the feel of the moments in between.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Have a Place

Something amazing came to me, this morning, while meditating. That's not unusual. I often find truths while I'm using mindfulness techniques to focus my attention. I've had so many new realizations, recently, that I would argue that our time is not ending (as many doomsayers predict with the ending of the Mayan calender). Instead, I believe our time is evolving -- awakening, if you will. More and more of my friends are openly discussing things that have been previously ignored, repressed, and relegated to the realm of the insane. We are coming into our own, as a people, as a species. Yes, there are those who are resistant. Fear is powerful. Many will choose to stay unseeing in light of change. We need all voices to have a balanced perspective. So, I hold no ill will toward those who will disagree with me. We make our own reality, I believe, from our own values, perspectives, beliefs, and truths. They don't need to be the same, at any given time. I can still learn from everyone.


 
At any rate, let me share what I learned. It may not be anything awe-inspiring for anyone else, but it was paramount, for me. Here it is: I have a place. Sounds simple, right? It isn't. I've always felt apart, inadequate, undesirable, unwanted, and ill-prepared. I've always felt 'less than.' I don't know why. But, it has been my truth since my earliest memories. I've always known, deep in my very soul, that I was not 'good enough.' Today, I realized that its no longer true in that, I don't believe that, anymore. Today, I woke up and recognized that I have a place in the world -- people who I love and who love me back; several circles of fellows of similar mind; explanations for my idiosyncrasies.

 
In fact, my 'place' is right where I am. Maybe that's why I've been holding onto the nude I've been working on, above. I've been playing with a technique where I lay in the color, blending on the canvas instead of on the palate, slowly, deliberately, with great thought, layer after layer, over and over, building texture and depth. Isn't that what I've been doing with myself? The nude isn't done, yet; neither am I. But, we are both well on our path.
 
I'm so blessed.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Right Time

Isn't it funny how you tend to hear the right thing, at just the right time? How the right time is usually the time when you are on the verge of a realization, but you need that last little push of recognition to jump over the barrier? I don't know about anyone else, but I feel as though I'm living in the time of awakening. All of a sudden, my life has brought me to so many thoughts that are truths in my heart.
 
 
One has been perking for quite a long time. I'm trained as a counselor. My theoretical perspective has always been one of the here-and-now. It is my belief that we needn't (and, really, shouldn't) delve deeply into the events of our pasts unless those events are impacting us in the present day. And, even then, to do so lightly and gently, because darkness is seductive. Many times, I've struggled with my own shadow. (For a perspective on this, read up on Carl Jung's body of work regarding the 'shadow self.') There is something sexy and lustful about allowing the darker images and tendencies of your personality to be free. The feeling is of absolute freedom. It is an illusion, of course. To reek havoc, with no consideration to others, is the trap of the shadow. It draws us in and fills us with overwhelming sensation so that we forget that we are connected to all things; that to harm others is to harm ourselves; that to have no consideration for the environment, is to discount us.
 
In keeping with this concept, I watched this vlog, this morning, from LilyWheel Slide Studio. And, my thoughts were echoed by another.
 
 
The other big truth that's recently come to mind is this: I need other people. For those of you that know me, you know this is not my normal state of affairs. I prefer my own company. I'm quite content to follow solitary pursuits, in education, in activity, and in faith. However, my Goddess has other plans for me, clearly. She doesn't talk to me, directly. Instead, she talks to me through other folks. So, if I want to grow, it is necessary that I seek out others like me to spend time with. This was a hard realization that was a long time coming through. I resisted it. Hard. And, I became stagnant.
 
Once I really embraced this truth, I found joy in spending time with others. That is not to say that I ignore my need for solitary activity, I do not. But, I have discovered that I'm spending an increasing amount of time with other people; and, that I enjoy it. There are few people I meet who I do not find something positive and admirable in. I know it sounds slightly unusual, and I am certainly not a lunatic with inappropriate boundaries who cannot see myself as separate from others, but its important I explain: It is not just that I feel and am connected to others. I require them. It is through others that I learn the lessons in life that cause me to evolve. It is through the influence of others that new concepts enter my mind, develop, process, and become fully realized truth. Of course, I believe that this process is reciprocal, so my influence on others is needed as well. What a concept! Basically, I've finally understood that EVERY voice is needed. In fact, those voices that I have an initial distaste for, are often needed the most. Yes, I gravitate toward like-minded folks, but even among us there is great diversity. Difference is a blessing, not a disappointment.
 
Other thoughts are perking, as well, recently...too many to share here or anywhere else. In the meantime, I pursue expression. I've been quite focused lately on texture and applying it to work.
 
 
After all, texture is, in fact, what I've been speaking about, above, I think. Funny how things are so synchronized, huh?

 
What textures are you adding to YOUR life?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ho Hum


I've had this issue, lately. This total lack of interest. Perhaps, its the time of year. I've got several projects in process, but none actually moving toward completion. So, today, I'm going to gesso some used canvas and try to bring myself back into focus.






Because, sometimes, its not about the painting.
Sometimes, its about being quiet and still and waiting.
Sometimes, its time to gather and return to my own.
Because, sometimes, its taking stock of seeds sown.

What matters, while I sit at home?
Sometimes, its figuring the things of the Crone
Who tells me to rest and gather, alone.
Sometimes, it cuts me to the bone...

My fear and desire, the dark...
So unwieldy and furrowed, and stark.
I crawl into focus, single.
Senses and emotions commingle.

And, at the end of the night,
The moon shines so bright.
I know that I followed my soul
When, once again, I become whole. -- MLW


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Something different...

I had an idea, for something different...something more a display of who and what I am, as a person. In many ways, I want to express not just my love for color and pattern and what my eyes and hand create, but also my love of words, symbols, and the accompanying pictures they hold.
So, I began this particular project. I started with big, bold strokes, blended and brushed to mix them one amongst the other. Bright, sharp colors of the spectrum. Then, I added a center -- something to draw and hold all of it together.
 
 
And, finally, I added the symbols. And, it turned out to be something entirely different than what I'd initially intended. In the end, it became not about me, at all, but a gift.
 
 
 
The symbols on the painting are all Runes:
1. In the center, Yr offers defense against any and all negative forces (gold)
2. To the left, Peorth offers insight and divination (pink)
3. Slightly above and to the left, an invocation for the Goddess and her energy and protection (silver)
4. Directly below the Goddess, Cweorp offers the ability to overcome (green)
5. Left again and up, is Stan, representing protection as the sheild of Odin (yellow)
6. Directly above, Wynn is the symbol of joy (clear)
 
 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Total Alignment: 4 Total Self Expression

As you know, I've been working my way through the FREE Online class, Total Alignment, from Dirty Footprints Studio. Today, I worked on Invitation 4: Total Self Expression. I've often wondered if the concept is even possible. We spend so much time censoring ourselves for so many reasons:
-to protect ourselves from rejection by others
-to present the face that we believe others want/need to see
-to hide our sense of unworthiness
-for fear of repercussions
-to be "PC" in our own circles
-fear of our own power
-diminishing our self to allow someone else to take the spotlight
Why do we do these things? In the case of women, I think we were socialized into the belief that we SHOULD do them; that its not okay to be powerful or strong or outspoken; that we should always put others first.

I ask you this: if we are always putting other people's needs in front of our own, won't we lose touch with what our own needs are? Won't we diminish until nothing is left? Isn't OUR voice important?
My answer to all those questions: a resounding YES!


Is this a one-time process for me? Nope. I will need to continue to seek my authentic self, forever; to determine what and why I'm hiding; and to free my voice-- quite literally.

What do you hide? Who are you, really?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Art is...

I had the wonderful opportunity to respond to this concept when an old friend posted on FB about being untalented in the arena of art. From my belief, that's just not possible.
 
I'm a huge art buff, everyone who knows me or has read me knows that. I am easily and quickly immersed in a wide variety of potential artistic endeavors, both mine and other people's. I adore art of all types. While I enjoy classic, or fine, arts, I'm even more amazed at some of the artisans who are typically referred to as 'craftsmen.' My belief: its no less amazing to create something with brush and stain than it is to work a piece of fallen wood into whatever is in its character that calls to you. And, I've got to tell you, I'm just enamored by work with the elements of the earth -- wood, metal, glass, water, soil. There is no less artistry in a beautiful garden than in a Renoir. In my eyes, the brush strokes are just as obvious and startling and lovely.
 
My point is this: we are ALL artists...creators of our own aesthetics. Yes, being a Libra, I'm easily distracted by beauty; and, lets just say it: I find beauty EVERYWHERE. I find that to be a gift in my life.
 
Its nice when someone can recreate, or copy, life into art, but that's not normally what I'm looking for when I shop for art. When I'm looking, what I truly love is the artist's expression of THEIR perspective of the world, or reality, or life. I love reproductions of the human form, specifically the female form. But, few of them look as you may think. They aren't photographs. If I'd wanted beautiful photographs, I would've purchased them. What I wanted was the artist's soul on paper or canvas. That's what I bought.
 
Some of the pieces of my humble collection include big, bold strokes and textures with no real form; some are closer to traditional art; some are fanciful and ethereal; some are stark and gruesome. I love them all for one reason -- the artist's expression, their soul, touched something corresponding inside of me, my soul. I explain if often as feeling a punch in the gut -- a deep feeling of connection to another through a work of art.
 
You all also know that I make my own art, in a way. I do so without explanation or excuse. I create in wood, on canvas, on paper, in fabric, in dirt and petals, in clay. I don't judge it as 'worthy' or not, only as whether (and what) it represents for me.
 
Do not wait! Make your own art! Find your own medium. Are you a talented seamstress, needle worker, wood chipper or burner, gardener, painter, etc? Share you art. The world needs your voice, even when its dark. But, especially when its true.
 
Please feel very free to share it here, if you like. But, share it.
 
Here are some links to some of my favorite artists sites to get you started:
WoodnGlass Deb Becker
Art of Fire Blown Glass
RE Piland Jeweler 
 
These are just a very few. I have so many more favorites. But, wanted to just give you some ideas for inspiration!
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fear and Possibility

Prior to the invitation in a FB group, Art of Prayer, to which I belong, to sit with these two concepts, I don't think I'd ever discerned how powerfully connected they are...all possibility contains fear and vice versa. Any well person has some trepidation before embarking on a new journey. Perhaps, this was so very insightful for me, because I strive to live fearlessly. In my mind, I had built up the concept of fear as the root of all evil....the cause of bias and prejudice, the core of missed opportunities, the crippling of possibility. But, in doing this exercise, I realized two very hard truths:
1. NONE of those things are true.
2. Fear is a positive and motivating force in maintaining safety in my life.

OUCH!
 
That really hurt to admit. For many years, I've been attempting to live fearlessly. In fact, "Fearless" is tattooed on my left forearm on the inside, facing me, where I can be reminded. But, I foolishly forgot an important construct:
 
 
Courage isn't the absence of fear. It is the strength to move forward, with careful planning to minimize danger, despite our fear.
 
FEAR is NOT the enemy.
 
Fear is that small voice that speaks to us, to warn us of potential hazard. Now, I'm not talking about phobia or irrational fear. I'm talking about the very real, physiological experience that we have when our bodies recognize the possibility of harm....that 'fight or flight' reaction is a miracle of evolutionary process. The hairs going up on the nape of your neck when you feel someone else's presence unexpectedly. The tingling that you get in the pit of your stomach when you're scheduled to do something and you just 'don't feel right.'
 
It is my new awareness that fear is a part of intuition. I will not be ignoring it. In truth, on those occasions when I was frightened, it was to my benefit, in retrospect. It gave me pause to consider. I may have chosen to continue with a pursuit. Those results have been mixed. But, in either circumstance, I gave it thought. I am human. I will sometimes make mistakes. I believe that I'm supposed to. However, when connected to my higher power, to the energy of life, I tend to intuit answers to all qualms. I know that you may be starting to shake your head and give me THAT look --- the 'you are a total flake' look. Let me word it differently.....have you ever felt something in your belly? A GUT INSTINCT telling you to take one course or the other? It is the exact same thing. We just express it with our own lingo.
 
I believe in possibility. More so than any other concept. There is ALWAYS possibility. From this day forward, I will allow fear its rightful place in my life. And, I will strive to be courageous.
 
Blessed Be!
 


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Total Alignment 3: Energize


There is something so very decadent about painting on canvas -- the spring and flex is joyful, sensual. I've been working my way through the free Total Alignment class from Dirty Footprints Studio.
 
This week's invitation was about energizing. I've got to say, I do frequently paint to music. I love the sound and feel of swaying around, listening to whatever strikes my fancy, while I create. That's not just true of painting, but perhaps especially true of it. There something about the movement that's just opening.
 
 
And, I guess my brain is running rampant, today. Today is my birthday. What is it about birthdays that always give us pause to consider, to reflect, to weigh our lives? Despite my best attempts, I caught myself judging where I am in my life, where I believe I should be, who and what I should be as opposed to my actual self. Whenever my head went there, I would gently return it to whatever task I was focused on.
 
But, now that I have a minute, maybe it deserves some consideration. Who am I? I don't know. What am I? How is that definable? I find my immediate response to respond to questions with questions. Hmmm. I must drive other people nuts with that particular character attribute.
 
On this day of my birth, I am exactly where I'm supposed to be, doing exactly what I'm supposed to be, surrounded by exactly who and what I'm supposed to be.
 
Blessings!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Total Alignment 2: Balance


In working through the free online painting class, Total Alignment, I have come to Invitation 2: Balance. And, UGH! The miserable feelings I have around this one! I ache for balance in my life, I pursue it with the single-minded determination of a freight train, moving on its tracks at high speed, with one destination allowed. WOAH! STOP! I can already see a few problems, here.

1. Who said I have to go to some destination that was pre-determined for me?
2. Fast sometimes is TOO fast.
3. Where's the BIG picture?

What was the giant thing I learned while working through today's invitation? Simple. (Why is it that all the important things seem so simple in retrospect?) I will never have balance in the external world. I will never be able to manage my work and home and goals and hobbies and loves and keep them in perfect balance. I am powerless over everything external.

For me, balance is about finding peace within, and not panicking when I'm topsy-turvy inside. Emotions are sometimes strong and rough and are no less necessary than the more pleasant ones. Excuse the clicheed metaphor, but some feelings are similar to a stormy sea -- powerful, dark, and turulent. Some are closer to a glass-smooth pond -- serene, devoid. And, my most favorite are like gentle waves lapping the sand -- sweet, languid, and loving. But, all are important. I do not learn while I'm at peace. I learn from turmoil. My most potent lessons come from difficulty. They are linked to my scars -- a remembrance of learning. In those cases, I will try to open my heart to the pain, and recognize the beauty, there.




Thursday, September 27, 2012

Total Alignment

I finished up my online painting class with AROUSE. And, honestly, I'm sad to let it go. I will definitely be a part of other classes offered by LilyWheel Slide Studio, because I had such a fabulous experience! In the meantime, I've begun a FREE on-line class offered by Dirty Footprints Studio, called Total Alignment. I'm just beginning by doing the first exercise/invitation, today. I'm very excited about it!
 
 
 
Somehow, somewhere along the lines of my life, I lost the understanding of my own need for creativity and creative expression. With AROUSE, I found it again. I actually found AROUSE, through a Facebook group called Art of Prayer, where I met the facilitator for AROUSE. There, I found a wonderful group of women who were on their own paths to discovery. Some were already professional artists, others were just finding their way (like me). I love my job as adjunct faculty at the local community college and have absolutely no desire to give it up; however, I find my artistic endeavors to be freeing and therapeutic in a deep, self-aware, self-discovery fashion.
 
I finally have an outlet for all of those horrible feelings of fear and anger and depression that have dogged me for decades. I have a way to get them out of my body and onto paper, to share them with others who are compassionate and understanding, and to be free of them. During the process of initial experimentation with the exercises in AROUSE, I noticed that I felt real physical discomfort in certain areas of my body when I attempted to tap into my creativity. It was almost as if my body had become so closed off that I had to power my way through the process. That hasn't gone away for me....I sometimes continue to feel stiffness in my head and neck and shoulders, or a fullness in my throat. The true benefit of this line of self-education is that I'm AWARE of them, now. I KNOW what it means when my body reacts that way. And, more important, I know how to RELIEVE it.
 
For me, that relief comes through painting and blogging about it. That's what works for me. The painting alleviates the pressure and the blogging allows me to explore it. It doesn't matter if anyone actually reads the blogs (although, I certainly enjoy comments when they do). Its more about getting it OUT of me. Since I'm trained as a traditional, talk therapist, I recognize the need to purge harsh feelings and thoughts and the benefits that come from doing so. Interesting that, while I spent decades taking on the miseries and secrets of others, I didn't bother to care for my own.
 
I wish I could articulate the improvement in my day-to-day feeling of serenity, but I'm not that skilled in explanation. Suffice it to say: I am at peace in my own skin and with those around me. Its not constant, but its enduring. I know what to do to bring myself back to balance when I allow situations and circumstances to take me out.
 
 
Today's exercise gave me some difficulty. Not the actual breathing exercise, but the painting itself. I became frustrated with the process, several times. I found myself desperately wanting to make the heart at the center of the painting larger, but knowing that I shouldn't.
 
 
At the same time I became frustrated, the colors began getting darker and darker, until I had several sections of black. When I realized what was happening, I put my brushes down. At first, I tried to fight through it. That didn't help.
 
My lesson for today: Sometimes, you have to put it down and walk away. Its not always the right time.
 
I paint on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because I've carved out time in my schedule to do so. That's when my schedule allows. I spend other time, as I'm able, creating throughout the week and weekend, but its those days that are reserved for stretching myself, so to speak, through paint and brushes. Today, I painted, but found that it was time to stop. Normally, I can spend all day working on a piece.

 

CLICK!!!!!!!

 
I wasn't "working on a piece." I was working on me. The process is about fearlessness in creation, about total self-expression, about joy in the journey. Sometimes, my travels are dark. I desperately want to be more loving. I don't know if the painting is "done" or not, but it definitely taught me what I needed to learn, today.
 
Creative muse -- thanks!


 
 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pain




I lost someone, today.
He wasn't family.
He wasn't even kin.
Yet, tears fall, anyway.

He handed me some silly, aluminum coins.
But, those moments are etched deep in my mind.

They are shared celebration.
I hugged him without fear. I felt his concern.
I couldn't do that, before then.

Today, we lost an ally.
And, gained an angel.
I didn't believe in angels before now.

I feel pain.
Unashamed.
Relieved.
Beyond.

May the swiftest of winds carry your soul to the glory of the Summerland, where you can dance and sing, restored and animated. Blessed Be your journey Mr. W.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Part Two: Activation: Finding Your Passion

 
 
In many ways, I've always known the truth about freedom -- how to gain it, where to pursue it, who I need to be to chase it, where the answers are. I learned many lessons about my self over the course of working the exercises in AROUSE and painting and writing through the process. Perhaps, the most important lesson I learned -- I knew the answers all along. Those answers about who I am, what I need, how I crave to express myself, how I yearn for true, wild freedom. I could've found those answers, at any time, just by listening to the whispers in my mind -- the ones who are so faint that you miss them when otherwise occupied. The ones that dance through my unconscious in dreams and symbols. The ones that sing their wisdom to me in one voice.
 
 
But, despite all this inner knowledge, there was a lack of trust, until the prompts and exercises of AROUSE asked me to look within, to reconnect, to act as if I were the person I wanted to be. And, most important of all, encouraged me to listen to my inner voice. To find my muse. To find my passion. And, I had a surprise -- I have PASSION in spades!
 
 
I find that I'm in a place of evolution, or metamorphosis, or whatever term you wish to use. I've learned both who I'm not, and who I don't want to be. Now, I move toward becoming who I am, and who I DO want to be. Today, I know what that woman looks like -- she is genuine and natural. She is beautiful and feminine. She is flawed and damaged. She is bright and energetic. She is strong and she is vulnerable. She is passionate. She is wild. And, she is FREE.
 
 
I'm always a little sad at endings. In my mind, its best to take the time to grieve any loss -- to reflect on lessons learned, experiences gathered. But, also to remember that a door closing brings your attention to the one that opens. What doors are opening for you?
 
Blessed be!
 
 






Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Part Two: Activation: Learning to Ground


 
How do I feel connected to the earth? This is the lesson I learned in completing my painting for today. How am I grounded? What keeps my feet rooted and planted?
 
And, even deeper questions: What is my core? Who am I, really?
 
 
This music really called to me. I spent more than a few times, dancing through the video, above -- eyes closed, feeling the weight of my feet, the power of the connection to the earth, the ancient mystery of her existence. I have always felt a powerful affiliation with the soil beneath me. Cliche as it may sound, I really do feel the earth bleed. Cruel actions which tear up her crust, demolish her meadows, and rape her resources are painful to witness.
 
 
She calls to me and grounds me. Whenever my head gets too far out of whack, I focus on what I can see NOW. That is almost always a facet of Mother Earth. It reminds me of my place. It reminds me of the need for humility -- I am no more important than the dragonfly I was watching this morning. I am no less valuable to the system of creatures upon our planet.
 
 
What is inside my core? Slime and sensuality. Greed and compassion. Strength and suffering. Solitude and friend. Light and dark. Angel and demon. Yin and yang. Life and death. Cruelty and kindness. The dichotomy of duality. I am all things and nothing. Just as you are.
 
 
Who am I, really? I am a work in progress. I am alive. I am blessed. I am flawed. Who are you?
 
 
 


 


 


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Part Two: Activation: Learning to Feel

 
 
Starting today for my twice weekly time spent doing my online painting class, AROUSE, I met with the same stiffness and soreness as previous in this second part of the class. The soreness is particularly around my head, neck, and shoulders. It came as no surprise to me, today, as I worked with the concept of emotion.
 
 
 
I call this section of the painting Water. Emotion has never been my most comfortable element. I spent years of addictive behavior trying to remove all emotion from my being, mostly because of my inability to effectively deal with them. I earned the reputation of being "not a touchy person," "cold...icy..." I could take the list on and on. In truth, I revelled in that lack of feeling. I was safe and isolated, there. If I never exposed myself to anyone, they did not have the ability to hurt me. Unfortunately, I spent decades of my life, that way. It is one of the most profound ways that I've held myself back.

 
What I'd forgotten, was that emotions can be pleasurable as well as painful. Today, I'm willing to take the trade. In fact, there's amazing beauty in pain...something poignant and raw and elemental that is freeing. And, that is true whether its personal or shared. I would not ever be willing to part with the moments of pain in the last few years. Not the ones I talked about, nor the ones I've kept in my heart. And, certainly not those ones where I had the true gift of sitting with someone else through their pain. There is just no comparison to those experiences. They are mystical.  

 
And, in essence, what is life, if not experience? It is, in the end, all that we have. I work to stay in the moment, so that I improve my awareness and notice those things that I might otherwise miss. I can feel my emotions, acknowledge them, experience them. I don't need to interpret them. I needn't rip them up, exposing the root, forever damaging the energy by analyzing them to their death. I prefer to think of emotions as a warm, summer breeze....floating by. Sometimes, swiftly. Sometimes, slowly. Sometimes, pungent. Sometimes, sweet. All precious.
 
 
What do you feel? Recognition doesn't require action. Sometimes, just noticing is all that matters. What do you notice?
 
Blessed be!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Abundance


 


As I continued to reflect on the ways in which I hold myself back, I realized that one of the main ways is in the pursuit of abundance. People who know me will frequently hear me say that I'm "getting by" or have enough. I don't really cultivate more than I need at any given time. Its true that my garden sometimes produces an abundance of something (currently, its rosemary!), but in other parts of my life its almost as if I'm careful to NOT create more than needed.

I tend to be easily overwhelmed by too much. And, to be quite honest, I have quite a prejudice against wealthy people. Growing up blue-collar, and living most of my life as working-class, there was always a distrust and genuine dislike of those who were perceived as "well-off." I've never lived in a new home of my own. I have had new vehicles, but they were not what would be considered "luxury models." I have nice things, but materialistic belongings have a way of becoming separated from me, in a fairly short time, not due to my own actions. Expensive jewelry is often lost or stolen. Pricey furniture is ruined by a beloved pet. It just happens. Over and over and over again.

I know there are those among you who would argue that I manifest those types of occurrences, because I don't believe in my own right to own such things. Maybe you're right. But, to be perfectly honest, I don't really WANT those things. While it would be lovely to have a little savings and to not worry about retirement, I don't really stress over those things, anyway. Truthfully, I do trust that my life will unfurl the way it should; and that I will have what I need.

For those things non-monetary, there are many things that I would love to have in abundance -- love, friendships, compassion. I could take that list on and on. But, again, I have what I need in those places, too. I have the absolute immeasurable pleasure of being with my soul mate for more than 20 years. And, without a doubt, I can say that I love him more, now, than I ever have. I have 2 grown children. I have a beautiful granddaughter. I have work that I like. There are people with whom I have reciprocal friendships. I have a wide array of acquaintances that I find interesting and challenging and fun. What more could I need?
 
 
A grateful heart is always full, someone once told me. I can't fathom anything truer. My heart is full. Count your blessings today. And, every day.

Blessed Be!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Part Two: Activation: Learning to Let Go



As I embark upon the second part of my online painting class, AROUSE, I reflect upon all the ways that I hold myself back -- to comply with the 'rules' of bosses and employers; to obey the laws of the jurisdictions in which I live. Most concerning, however, is really the ways in which I hold myself back from being my genuine, creative self in order to fit in with acceptability to society. What is acceptable, anyway?



How many messages did we receive as children: "Sit like a young lady...Remember your place...Mind your own business...Girls don't play rough..." Not to mention, the ones we continue to get as adults: "Pretty people are better liked...Keep yourself up...Its better not to stand out in a crowd...A good woman is always BEHIND her man...Put your own needs aside, because others' are more important...You must learn to multi-task...Be sure to consider every viewpoint..." It goes on and on. The messages' intents are clear:
1. Women are less important than men.
2. Women must be strong enough to take on the larger bulk of responsibility in the family.
3. Women are expected to not worry about themselves, except in matters of appearance, where they should always put their 'best foot forward.'
4. Women are expected to take a back seat.
5. Women are not good enough.



Like most women, I learned to live within the confines of those messages. I learned to stunt myself and who I was in order to fit in. Of course, I also feared myself and the strength of my personality. I dealt with that via a variety of activities that blunted and hid those emotions and characteristics. Neither approach was positive or enduring. One day, I woke up. And, I continue to become more aware, day by day, moment by moment. Potential is limitless. I need only open up to it.



I don't need to do things perfectly. What is perfect, anyway? Perfection is the majority's perspective of how something should be done. Sometimes, I'm in the majority. Sometimes, I'm not. Today, I will worry about my own perspective, my own JOY, and move forward accordingly.

Don't get me wrong, I know that my penchant for nudity is illegal in the outside world. And, to be honest, I'm not sure that I'd want to share that with anyone outside my own home. Its a raw, intimate way of interacting with the world. While I enjoy it in a natural setting, with loved and trusted ones (although, mostly, its a pure pleasure when I'm just all alone), I won't be wandering around town naked. I recognize, abide, and honor the laws in my town. To those that I disagree, I will address through my representatives, in the appropriate fashion. But, within the confines of my house, I will behave accordingly. It has long been my fantasy to have enough property that I can be unencumbered among nature.



Probably, the most important thing I discovered doing the exercises for today: when I initially attempted to release those self-imposed limitations, it HURT. My body was stiff and sore and physically in pain. I had to work through it, push past it, and keep going. That is my lesson for today:
Sometimes, learning hurts.

What painful lessons have you learned? How are you becoming free?

Bright Blessings!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Writing the witchy way Give-away!

I'm like a small child with give-aways! For whatever reason, they are very exciting to me, despite the fact that I rarely win (really). But, even so, I'm always going to enter! (Yes, I am that person who faithfully fills out the complicated and annoying PCH entry each time!)

Here's the link:
Writing the Witchy Way over at Deborah Blake's blog

Share it, then leave her a comment saying you did!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Paint Sé

I have completed Part One of AROUSE, the online process painting class that I've been working on, in my attempt to become more aware and familiar with my own sensory processes. What have I learned, you ask? Well, several things; but, perhaps, the most important is this:

I am intuitive. I believe that I have a destiny, complete with a path to follow, determined by my higher power, who I choose to call Goddess. Please do not confuse this with delusions of grandeur. I don't know what my particular future is, nor what (if any) recognition will arise for me. It matters not. As has always been, people will enter and exit my life in order to teach and learn from me. I will always be thankful for the lesson, although not necessarily thankful for the interaction with the person. Lessons sometimes hurt. That doesn't negate their necessity, nor their power. For me, often, the most painful learning is the most permanent. Some experiences leave us with a glow, some with a scar. They all have great import.


 

I have trust issues galore. That lack of trust prevents me from following my path due to fear. In order to become who I am meant to be, I must release my fear. As this seems to be such a core struggle for me, I've often thought that it is the largest lesson that I must learn in this lifetime. I hope I get it. Worry creeps in, because I'm likely midway through my life, this time. I want to grow in understanding and conquer this fear. When my desire to WIN surfaces, I have to remind myself that I do not vanquish any part of myself. Instead, I must acknowledge it and release those things that do not serve me, with no ill will. So difficult. But, perfection is not possible, only progress.

As I reflect on my experiences and that information gleamed so far, I'm sometimes overwhelmed by feelings that are wound together so tight as to eliminate the process of untangling.



I float upon a sea of life,
Glory, glory, glorious life.

I sail upon a sea of strength,
Glory, glory, glorious strength.

I fly upon a strand of air,
Glory, glory, glorious air.

I am the everlasting heir,
Glory, glory, glorious heir.

A Goddess rising, rising.


Blessed Be!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paint Cinque

As I round the bend toward the end of Part I of my online process painting class, AROUSE, I continue to be struck by how much I've learned about me. Today, while I considered my personal boundary issues, I struggled to try to find the origin for them.

Its no secret...I don't like to be touched. I'm far better than I was a few years ago. I'd gotten to the point where I felt as if I'd fall out on the ground if someone touched me for any reason. Today, if I see it coming, I can steel myself and make ready. Yes, I am talking about other people touching me. Yes, it actually requires preparation on my part. This is, of course, not true of everyone. I frequently hug my husband and feel fine about that. But, he will tell you that I'm not a 'touchy' person.

The scary thing is when someone comes up behind me and I don't feel their presence before they touch me. I'm less able to control my startled and sometimes angry reaction to that type of invasion. There are many possible reasons that I'm over-sensitive to touch. Historically, I've been in violent situations going back to very early life. I've lived in great chaos in certain portions of my life, some of which was my own making. I have been aggressive, myself, projecting that aura out into the world. But, in the end, I (again) return to issues of trust and boundaries.


Its a great struggle for me to allow people close enough to physically touch me. I don't welcome it. And, most often, I don't feel comforted by it. Clinically, the term for me is "tactile defensive." I am extremely tactile sensitive -- I don't like clothes made from unnatural fibers, because I find the way they feel against my skin to be so distracting and offensive that I can't clearly focus on other tasks. I can't stand for my skin to become upset or inflamed (which is a real treat since I have auto-immune issues that sometimes cause this), because any lack of symmetry makes me a little crazy, hence the reason I take great pains to care for my skin. I won't eat certain foods if the texture is unappealing on my tongue.

The accepted medical treatment: medication and systematic desensitization (SD). I abhor the idea of medication, or anything that blunts my senses. Lets face it, I spent way too many years trying to shirk any emotion or sensation at all. The last thing I'm willing to do is to minimize them, now, even if they're unpleasant. As for the SD, I'm doing that, but not in the way that its typically used. I don't continually expose myself to physical touch in order to allow myself to be less sensitive to it. Instead, I explore the ideas of touch and my resistance to it. I experiment with touch in a variety of settings to allow me to better facilitate successful interactions with others. I journal and blog and talk about my issues. I have environments where that is okay. I have friends who are receptive, or who have similar issues who help provide support.


I don't want to overstate the obvious. Being a person of tight control, most people don't notice how uncomfortable I am with touching others. Its not a germ phobia, although that has been a piece of it, in the past. Its really not a phobia of any kind. Its an issue of trust. Will you hurt me if I let you in too close? Physically and emotionally. Can I trust you? How frustrating that I'm just resolving these issues in my 40s! I wish that I'd managed it, long ago, like most folks. But, if wishes were horses, even beggars would ride. And, I just have to travel my path, no matter where it leads or what obstacles are upon it.

I'm in no way sorry for the lessons I've learned. Some are wonderful. Some, are harder. All are important. What have you learned about yourself, today? What are you doing about it? Blessed be.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Paint Cuatro

While I was preparing myself for my process painting lesson for AROUSE, I was reminded of the most wonderful experience I'd recently had at a Sound Healing workshop I'd attended with Angela Blueskies at KarmaFest. Angela and her companion, Adam, used many different instruments in the process of the hour-long experience...flute, guitar, drum, etc.

But, perhaps, the most powerful was Angela's voice and the voice of the participants. In the construct of using sound to find a place of healing, a place to bring about (or manifest) what is needed in your life, it was a powerful example of the utter radiance of the human essence. I remember being struck by how amazing it was to feel the Om vibration in and about my body, the way it sounded when listening from the inside and the out, the length of time I could continue to push the sound from my body, the tonal quality of the sound as it came into absolute perfect match to the other participants' Oms.


I should probably mention that my cats, Sunny (seen here) in particular, are always drawn whenever I work on my process painting. No matter what my activity, they can't seem to stay away.

Today, as I was experimenting in my painting, I decided to do an Om meditation to see what would happen. It was no less powerful than the previous workshop. As I practiced breathing deeply and allowing my breath to flow freely, or be forced, or to sing out of my body, the Om continued to vibrate in a way that attuned my being. No matter what I did, I couldn't help but be amazed by the power of the sound to engage my soul and heart and body in a way that nothing short of making love is capable of creating.


 
As my brush whispered across the board, all I could feel was tune -- the same tonal quality as my own breath. In fact, all things became connected in sound in the way that I have always known they were. It was a glorious representation of what it is to be interconnected...attached, but not dependent. And, for a few brief moments, I had the deepest sense of true form...true energy. I realize that this may sound flaky to some folks, but it brought tears to my eyes.
 
 

Because, it was then that I remembered....creation is a spiritual process. I am a spiritual being. My life is guided and protected. I am on a path that I was meant to follow. I am learning those things that I was intended to know. For this time, I feel awake....more aware than I'd ever felt before.

The ambiguity fell away for a few blissful minutes and I was sure, as sure as I breathe, that I'm as intended. There are no words to describe the feeling of acceptance and assurance that washed over. No words.

Blessed be.