Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Before I Walk Through the Open Door Into The New Year

"In the case of the creative mind, it seems to me, the intellect has withdrawn its watchers from the gates, and the ideas rush in pell-mell, and only then does it review and inspect the multitude. You worthy critics, or whatever you may call yourselves, are ashamed or afraid of the momentary and passing madness which is found in all real creators, the longer or shorter duration of which distinguishes the thinking artist from the dreamer. Hence your complaints of unfruitfulness, for you reject too soon and discriminate too severely." Friedrich von Schiller

Because I have been willing to trust my creative mind more than ever before, trust its murmuring, trust its quiet little voice, its tap tap tapping patiently on my shoulder and especially when it slaps like a thunderbolt, I have learned a lot about myself and what I'm capable of doing. As I continue to be willing to be active in the process of letting go, I've been able to keep my inner "worthy critic" at bay longer than before. When I saw this quote last week it resonated with a big wow. "I reject too soon and discriminate too severely." I compare my work in process with an accomplished artist's final product, and you know all about that don't you!

Because I paid attention to my mind's murmuring, I signed up again for Bloom True, an acrylic painting class with Flora Bowley. I've got a long way to go before I'm at home with acrylics and canvas. I've taken classes from her before and love her style, her use of color and her willingness to take chances. This year Flora stretched herself a lot and she showed her students the personal risks she is taking even though she was way beyond uncomfortable taking them. I enjoyed painting for longer and longer periods of time and though one painting is still in a chaotic state, two others are hanging in my home, reminders of how far I've come in this process.

I'm much more comfortable drawing my little ladies as well as mixed breed animals all of whom defy gravity and normal body shapes. After years of being shy about sharing this with others, I went public on my blog and in real life by putting cards together and selling them. Our local museum shop took a chance on me as did a half dozen other venues. I'm learning what I don't want to do again, and last night I wrote down steps I could take next year, tomorrow, to continue to grow and take chances in this area. My inner critic is quite willing to withhold comments when it comes to drawing. What a relief.

It was quite a surprise to realize what a creative lightning strike can accomplish. There were three I can think of. One clap pushed me down the road to others. Flora suggested I look into the August Joy Up, a vision book class. I loved doing that and made some discoveries about myself. One is that I love horses. Through the joy of creating vision pages and trusting the process, I discovered equine therapy. I was moved to make all arrangements to take a class only a couple of weeks away within hours of discovering that it existed.

The rewards from making the cards have gone way beyond the steps of creating, making and selling. I've met a wonderful new friend that way and put together two books, one combining prayers and drawings. I've learned to ask for what I want and take chances. A goal for the new year is to create a different line of cards, keep track of the expenses, and make the process of putting the cards together much simpler and keep the cost of the card down. If you have experience along this line and are willing to share, please contact me.

I'm closing the door on 2013 with no regrets and a feeling of accomplishment and joy. Yeah!

Baruch ata adonai...may I trust my creative mind and let it grow without the need to check its madness with fear and shame. Hallelujah! Amen

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Friendship and Gratitude

"When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and in the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled and pleased to give back. Most humbling of all is to comprehend the lifesaving gift that your pit crew of people has been for you." Anne Lamott

Yesterday and the day before captured everything good about 2013.

One day was totally and unexpectedly dominated by the celebration of friendship, and I began to rejoice in the way serendipity brings us together and then glues us through all the calamities and joys of life. Two friends who arrived by pure chance have stayed for decades. Another opened the door just a few months ago. The amazing thing is that we each recognize something undefinable and alluring in each other which is worth sticking around for. Many friends come through shared interests, and I wonder when so many others are involved in the same way, what it is about certain people that keeps us checking into each others lives. My friends have rallied over and over this year. Thank you all. You are better than magic, and I know I am so lucky.

Yesterday we drove to the mountains to have lunch with our grandchildren and watch them confidently and eagerly start their skiing lessons. It was the Monday before Christmas and not many people or other creatures were were stirring on the road or at the resort. We drove over to the mountain and hiked into our cabin. A couple was ice skating way out on the lake. It seemed like a daring and joyful thing to chance so early in the season. We crunched our way over the snow filled road, checked out our cabin which looked snug and brave, and then continued down to the lake.  Could a day be more life affirming, more soul drenched, more beautiful and pristine? It was truly a winter wonderland.

As the year ends, I am filled with gratitude, optimism, and good health. At least for a few days, maybe if only for today, may I remember to stop and enjoy each moment. May I look into the eyes of others and see them. May I go forward and into the future minutes and hours with soft sweetness. May we all.

Baruch ata adonai...More and more for more and more time I feel I am the person I want to be. It is good to feel comfortable within myself. May I be the friend others are for me. May I continue to be willing to learn and change and challenge and accept what comes to me day by day. Thank you for the blessings of this year. Amen


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Who You Gonna Call?

"Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile...initially scared me to death."  Betty Bender

I have friends whose first thoughts are assisted living or a memory unit. In the middle of the night when the distant drums pound and thoughts escalate from stubbed toe to amputation, I go right to my funeral. Since last night was my first pain free night in the past three months (high fives and applause please), I've had a lot of opportunities to consider disaster and healing, letting go and gratitude.

It all started with a fall eleven months ago. During this period I first saw an MD who referred me for a set of xrays and a cortisone shot that didn't do squat. Then I marched through acupuncture, eleven sessions of physical therapy and therapy from assorted body workers until I finally found the right healer who accomplished the job in two sessions. Would he have brought relief three months ago? I don't know. I do know my most fervent gratitude often comes from my greatest turmoil, and I am too busy being grateful to think about that just now. Then there is the nagging question, who should I have gone to first? "Ghostbusters!"

Our medical situation stinks in so many ways. Our insurance will pay for drugs but not for talented healers who look deeper for mind/body connections or who can feel with only the equipment of their hands what is going on below what can be seen with xrays, healers whose path didn't take them to medical school. During this time, my husband went through his own health trauma. His help ultimately came after we experienced the worst and the best medical care in our area and only because I kept pushing through the mire. A year and a half after a shunt was put in his brain to reduce hydro cephalic pressure, he has passed through a plethora of dementia symptoms to mostly, but not entirely, age related forgetfulness. It is truly a miracle.

Cataract surgery is another medical miracle. Last week, my right eye went from not seeing well at all even with glasses to 20-20 for distance, and even reading without glasses is much better. Tuesday my left eye will be dealt with, and then my sight will be incredibly good.

I am grateful for my dogged determination and unwillingness to have anyone tell me due to aging  health problems are to be expected, especially when it's someone in her forties who seems to have that wisdom to pass on. Doctors have slipped that into their conversation for thirty years! I am getting older, but that doesn't dementia or constant intense body pain is to be accepted as inevitable. I went into last week's cataract surgery thinking I looked more and more like my mother and came out realizing I look like my grandmother! I can understand the desire for facial surgery now, but where would I start and where would I stop? And how would I feel now if I accepted the conventional wisdom that with age comes decrepitude. Every age has challenges and giving up isn't the answer to any of them.

All along this journey, I have been caring for my inner child and finding others to do that job when I'm feeling too little to help myself. Equine therapy, art classes, gathering in the strength of my friends, asking for help and guidance, and laughing with my film club friends have inspired me and held me up. In my best moments, I feel as though I'm often in touch with the wisdom of age. If not now, when?

Baruch ata adonai...in the past year I've had ample opportunity to learn patience. I'm not sure I have. I know you will test me again. I've had ample opportunity to get out of my own way and out of the way of others, and often I do. I know you will test me again. May my learning never stop. May my courage continue. I'd like a little more grace. Perhaps I can learn that without too much prompting. Amen

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Whole Lot of Learning

This little girl with iron will  rose up from letting go of a lovely underwater scene that wasn't going anywhere, and she's taught me a lot about survival, transformation, determination, being grounded, and going along bravely, lovingly, and not quite so surely. That's a whole lot of learning to come from a canvas and a bunch of paints.

As she began to evolve, her very body position said, "Don't you dare paint me over. Fear not." Yesterday I watched a video with Peleg Top who said, "Fear is a terrible consultant." I have painted in fear in the past. I know you can fill in the blanks about that one, the way fear has stopped you dead in your tracks. This time I continued on and realized she isn't an angel but a butterfly, and it was way past time for me to step out of need and into transformation. And it came to pass she was standing on a turtle, the very symbol of moving slowly, being grounded, peaceful.

 Now I'm letting her go. I'm signing the painting and thanking her for all she's taught me.

Peleg Top is new to me. You can watch his short video on abundance and how to live an abundant life here. He's not talking about an abundance of monetary wealth but rather inner abundance: the ability to love yourself, to live without destructive stress and anxiety, to live in gratitude and creativity. It's all about what I experienced.

Baruch ata adonai...last week when I sat down to write, I intended to write about gratitude, but I was totally blocked. This week  the lessons just kept on coming. Blogs arrived and videos appeared with the same message. Love yourself and be thankful. What you think you will become. Thank you for sending them. Thank you for opening my ears and my heart. Thank you. Amen


Monday, December 2, 2013

The Little Book of Little Ladies

Today I gave my Little Ladies' their very own book. They're so very happy, and they wonder what the heck is going on with me. They don't know that after taking care of them, I spent gnarly time paying bills. What would they know about bills?  And they don't care that I'm finding that tremendously anxiety producing. Or that I really want this blog to be about exploring gratitude which I'm apparently not feeling too much of right now. They say today it's all about them.

The sweet thing about the Little Ladies is that they are always smiling, probably because they never have to pay bills, or feel guilty, or parse the meaning of gratitude.

Here are their aunts who are twenty years old now and off on their own very dramatic adventures. I want to be going where the one on the right is going, but I'll probably go walk my dog.

Inside their sunny exteriors, they're not quite sure what they should wear, but they know they would probably feel braver and happier in their tutus and boas or on rare occasions their hula skirts.

They have the most amazing ability to spin off into ecstasy with the least provocation,

and have delightful encounters, like when they get to go fishing or skating.

There's more, but they're feeling shy and mumbling about nap time.

I do have some thoughts about gratitude and hope they'll organize themselves for a proper prayer blog tomorrow. Meanwhile the Little Ladies are giggling about their first venture on the wordless pages.