Monday, October 21, 2013

Help Me To Have Faith In Myself

"Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough." George Washington Carver

My takeaway from everything coming in my front door (vision books, equine therapy, painting ) teaches me to listen to my heart, to listen to my intuition, to pay exquisite attention to connections, to messiness, to loss, to the unknown. This week's online art class has to do with being brave, with the ability to reach outside of my comfort zone and stretch boldly beyond what I know of my life and my abilities.  In my life, the unknown, my husband's dementia, will continue on, and I will can either define myself as being at a personal growing edge or falling into the abyss. I'm guessing it will be a lot of each, and yet, if I use painting as a metaphor, something totally unexpected can arise if I allow it to enter, if I don't rigidify with old thoughts and old feelings about not being able to do art or life.

As a piece of art therapy, considering what I've just written, I think this painting might say that's exactly where I am. Believe me, it looks a lot better as a small copy than as a 30x30 canvas. I spent the morning working on a second canvas with a similar amount of energy and created something that intrigues my growing edge. When I came to this one, I decided I needed to be a lot calmer. I needed to create a new starting place and so I did. I felt better instantly.

Tomorrow when I paint again, I will be guided by the past which shows through and the present, a softer more open and friendly place to begin again. It takes courage to paint either way. Perhaps the first painting would resolve itself into something I would love, and yet at the pivot point, I thought it took a lot of courage to say, "No, that's not a path I want to continue on, and I can make another choice." Actually it is all part of a single painting. I could have totally painted it over using opaque paints rather than transparent ones.  Perhaps what comes of this will look a lot like the shadows seen in the background or that might look like the starting place of something entirely new. For me it is a conscious choice to be warmer, softer, more accepting and loving toward myself and my work.

"I've come to believe that standing back is far scarier than falling in. Standing back and being aware of it makes us feel stuck, makes us feel afraid, makes us feel less than. When we let ourselves fall in, we fall into our courage. We fall into our strength. We fall into our power and our worth. We fall into ourselves and our joy and meaning." Maria Shriver

Thanks this week and often to Terry Hershey whose blog, Sabbath Moment ( is full of all kinds of inspiration and to Sister Barbara who pointed me in his direction.

Baruch ata adonai....I am full of gratitude for the opportunities in my life which lead me to growth and richness. In the days ahead may I be willing to reach in and out in equal amounts. If I only reach in, I will drain my well. If I only reach out, I will lose my balance. Help me to have faith in myself. Amen

Monday, October 14, 2013

On Your Mark, Get Set, Let Go

"There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn't good and it wasn't bad. It was what it was, and it is just that. In the space of letting go, she let it all be." Rev. Safier Rose

I awoke from a long dream and knew it was an important one. There were the usual suspects: people I haven't seen for years, in places I'm not quite sure exist, vaguely connected to things I've recently encountered. Toward the end I'm sitting on the ground Indian style (which I can't do anymore), writing important sayings on a block of plastic wrapped Monterey Jack cheese which is supported by a stack of my green childhood encyclopedias, which in real life I just gave away and haven't looked at in years. The dream occurred at the end of a week when all the steps I wrote about a couple of  weeks ago were finished, and I felt there was nothing more I could do to help myself prepare for the future.

As soon as I woke up and wrote the dream down, I realized it had a important piece of information for me. Cheese melts. Reference books are not only out of date, but also unread, and no matter how much I prepare for the changes ahead, life is going to happen in unpredictable ways. Relax. There is nothing I can control. At that moment, I let go.

And remember my experience at Equine Therapy less than a month ago? Until I let go of my self talk, my self defeating self talk, until I emptied myself of all thought and just stood quietly and at peace with no expectations, only then would the horse know I was safe and it was safe with me. Only then could we join together and play together.

Today is the beginning of the third week of an online art class that involves, guess what, letting go. What you see is the third step. The first two layers are applications of warm colors and cool colors. The class is about painting intuitively. I see some good stuff here, and I know my head and my heart are loving this journey. Great music is on and am having fun. Nothing in mind. No expectations. Then we're on to adding black and white.

Oh dear. Getting a bit chaotic and yet there are elements here I hope I can come back to. I know they're going to disappear with the next layers, but there are parts I love, and before it becomes too precious, too hard to let go, I add more elements so I can move on. Then we add three translucent colors.

This is what letting go looks like. I know it is just where it's suppose to be, and yet, where are the parts I loved so much? We've been told not to worry about pretty or making it look like anything in particular. I've taken this class three times, and I've never gotten this far, never been able to look at it and not see chaos and be scared and intimidated. I can hardly wait to see what we're going to be asked to do next.

In order to let go, I've got to go against my nature. I've got to let go of being in control, of needing to have a plan, of knowing where things are going. In paintings and dreams and in life, things change quickly. What I'm changing is only paint on canvas, and I do know it's much more than that. The other side of being in control is everything else that is possible.

"There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn't good and it wasn't bad. It was what it was, and it is just that. In the space of letting go, she let it all be." Rev. Safire Rose

Baruch ata adonai...what a journey. I'm loving all these lessons one after the other. Thank you. Thank you. Amen

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What Wings Do

"When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she had always been. But she had wings!"  Dean Jackson

I'm in familiar territory. Painting and sweet talking myself. Telling myself to be calm, it's only paint. Telling myself to be brave and bold. I witness my thoughts: happy and confident and then judgmental.  It is totally ridiculous. I'm flying and then I'm crawling, then I'm flying again. It isn't a coincidence that Transform is the title of my vision book.

My goal is to change the way I approach painting, and of course, this is a metaphor for the way I sometimes approach my life, isn't it. Isn't that true for you too? Isn't whatever way you're approaching whatever you're doing a metaphor for the way you approach everything? I'm going for gentle. I'm going for stopping before I get frustrated. I'm looking to be calm and kind and nice to myself. I'm trusting my intuition to keep me safe from my inner caterpillar. There is nothing wrong with a caterpillar. In fact I am probably in the caterpillar stage of painting right now, except for when I'm a butterfly. I do love all that flying around looking beautiful. I've created an altar and also some cute little affirmation cards and each day I paint, I remember to honor my inner caterpillar and honor my inner butterfly who is learning how to spread her artist wings.

When my kids were little, we had empty acreage behind our home where milkweed mixed in with  grasses and walnut trees, squirrels, field mice, and in season, butterflies. One year we put a stick, a caterpillar and milkweed into a jar, covered it and forgot about it. When we looked much later, we found a butterfly whose wings were glued together because it wasn't allowed to fly.

Baruch ata adonai.... Help me spread my wings. Help me show up for myself. Be with me as I support the part of me doing something she isn't quite sure she will ever be able to do. Isn't that silly? I am doing it. Help me let go of expectations. Please whisper in my ear, "Have fun my dearest." Amen