Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #48 Forgiveness and other acts of love


My inner critic has been working overtime this past week. Like, gone completely crazy. Though to be honest, I hadn't quite clocked it.

I mean, I was feeling so flat last week. Lots of small things seemed to be snowballing until they just ran me over completely. I started to panic that I was slipping into "old territory". I feared that all the things I had achieved, that I felt good about, were just an illusion. A mirage. I became so exhausted from analysing and over-analysing everything that I missed the whole point: that I wasn't giving myself a break.

I had been assuming, without question, that everything was my fault.

And then once I realised that, I felt so extremely stupid... which then started the shame cycle all over again.

So today, I just want to stop. Stop the cycle. Stop the work. Stop looking in all the wrong places. Stop looking full stop.

Today, I just want to be where I am. Including all the things that are "hiding in plain sight", as my husband might say. Including feeling guilty about all the things that really aren't my fault at all.

Today, I want to feel compassion for the girl who learnt to take on responsibility for everything that wasn't right in her world.

I forgive myself for relentless heat, for the rain that followed, for everything that challenged our plans over the past week or so and gave us so much discomfort.


I forgive myself for ruining four of my husband's favourite business shirts that he bought in New York: firstly when the colour ran in the washing machine, and then when I tried to fix the colour run.


I forgive myself for unacceptably slow broadband speeds, erroneous billing, and time "wasted" on the phone to get these things fixed.


I forgive myself for snapping at my little 'un when she was being unhelpful in the midst of me feeling like I was losing my grip on life.


I forgive myself for missing out on Radiohead tickets because the website kept crashing due to the volume of people trying to purchase at the same time.


I forgive myself for feeling vulnerable and stuffing way too many chocolate buttons in my mouth and feeling unsurprisingly queasy for the next few hours.


I forgive myself for wearing my new wellies so my little 'un and I could walk in puddles in yesterday's rain, despite the red hot protest of my sore ankle.


I forgive myself for that strange fishy smell that is coming from under our kitchen sink that I haven't been able to identify, let alone deal with.


I forgive myself for the debilitating fears and secret joys that arise during the process of painting... and for allowing these to get "out of perspective".


I forgive myself for avoiding social interactions but also for feeling guilty for scheduling two evening outings in a row.


I forgive myself that our floors look perennially grotty, but also for being too exhausted to crank out the vacuum cleaner while my littlie is at kinder.


I forgive myself for running out of money: again. And for succumbing to pressure to invest in a whole lot of extra creams and serums for my skin, despite having no money. And for my skin breaking out and looking rotten, regardless.


This week, I invite you to see all the things that you have been blaming yourself for. This could take the form of a list, like the one I have started above. Or maybe you already have a fully-formed mental catalogue. Really, is all of this your fault?

One thing I can tell you for sure: you deserve love and compassion and forgiveness for feeling like it is.

With thanks to Dr Stephanie Dowrick for the inspiration for title of this post!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The irony of diamonds




Spend my last one hundred dollars
on a whim
on two diamond rings

Walking home I noticed
the exact same colours were available in nature
for free

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Think again and keep thinking


Venus Squares Mars

You will first start to notice the effects of this transit around 23rd February 2012. You will continue to experience this influence until 25th February 2012 after which time it will rapidly diminish.

Maybe it is possible to fit a square peg into a round hole. Perhaps, if the peg is made of some malleable plastic -- or the hole is reshaped slightly, the act can be accomplished. But surely, once you start going to such extreme lengths, you are no longer dealing with a truly square peg or a genuinely round hole. 


If you can’t already see why I’m raising this issue, you will understand soon. The right angle between Venus and Mars describes a problem you sorely want to resolve yet which you simply cannot manage to settle. It’s unnerving but ultimately the secret of involves accepting that which seems so impossible. 


Not only are you worried about a financial matter, you’re keen to pursue a creative policy. There’s something you want to make, to design, to explore or to indulge.  Yet at the same time, you’re in a precarious situation. Common sense says "don’t make any kind of risky move". 


Happily, the world is not a sensible place. It rewards the brave and the sincere far more than it takes care of the cautious and the unimaginative. Don’t be too silly but do take a courageous step towards the fulfillment of a dream. As you do so, just keep asking yourself: Are you special? Are you wonderful? Is your life full of tremendous possibility? 


The answer to each preceding question needs to be an emphatic "yes". If you’re tempted to come forth with any other answer, think again and keep thinking till you begin to feel more positive. 


Don’t worry about getting a big head. In the fullness of time, various natural processes will help to restore your humility. 


Right now though, it is important and right to be strong, proud, daring, ambitious and above all else, confident. At times, under the influence of this astrological alignment, all this will be easy to feel. The keen attention of an ardent admirer will feed your ego and stoke your inner-fire. 


Yet all will not prove plain sailing in the department of the heart and at times, within a key relationship, you will feel very much like a square peg in a round hole. But ultimately, this will turn out to be more enjoyable than it sounds.

From my personal horoscope for 2011/12 written by the inimitable Jonathan Cainer. A thoroughly worthwhile investment and, at times such as this, bordering on the spooky.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Savouring my Saturday



1. Discovering this clever way to make fabric tape. I was recently gifted a whole bag of designer off-cuts so you can be sure I'll be trying out this way to make my own version of washi tape.

2. Beng invited to contribute something to a beautiful little zine. Being invited to contribute would have to be one of my favourite things in this life! I'll be sure to share when the time comes.

3. Noticing resilience. Bouncing back. Putting things in perspective.

4. Getting to thirty laps of the swimming pool. Thirty laps! That's triple our output in five weeks! Driven? Moi?

5. Christine Mason Miller's generosity of wisdom and spirit. I had emailed her asking if she would share the specifics of her creative process for a specific project. Her reply was warm, encouraging and so very helpful. I already had considerable respect for this woman but now my esteem has increased to the power of a zillion. Be sure to check out her wonderful new book: Desire to Inspire: Using Creative Passion to Transform the World. I'd describe it as "the thinking person's art book": its offerings are pretty unique in an increasingly crowded genre. I know I'll be diving in and out of it for many years to come.

5. This stunning free printable from Jessica Swift. Synchronicities, most definitely.

6. Receiving an email reply from a lovely girl I went to university with twenty years ago. I'd been thinking of her and decided to send her an email (neither of us are on facebook!). She was just as kind and gracious as I recall, even though both of our lives have changed so much.

7. The deliciousness that is receiving something in the mail from The Postale Society. Makes me feel like I'm living in a Nick Bantock book.

8. Writing a letter to my life up until now. Thanking everything that has happened up until now, for all that it has taught me. Then letting it all go.

9. Buying my little 'un a very sweet and rather funky little purple digital camera for her third birthday next week... and ordering her the cutest little handmade camera case to match!

10. Giving myself permission to take it easy after a gruelling week. There were so many blessings but a number of things left me totally wrung out. And I have a big week or so ahead...

For more marvellous moments, be sure to visit my dear friend, the newly-liberated Maxabella.


Friday, February 24, 2012

The scariest moment


The scariest moment is always just before you start.
After that, things can only get easier.
Stephen King
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The truth in the colour


I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here, but I am doing Ali Edwards' One Little Word program again this year. However, I am not formally enrolled in the e-course. The prompts she is offering each month during 2012 are the same as the ones she offered in 2011, albeit with a different word. So I decided just to follow along of my own accord, looking back on last year's prompts and replicating them on my own.

I know that I have mentioned many times that my word for 2012 is savour. So my task throughout February was to capture with my camera images that represented savouring to me, literally or metaphorically.

As I pasted some of my photos into my One Little Word journal on Tuesday night, I was struck by the tones that dominated the pages. A lot of greys and beiges. A bit unusual for me.

It's true to say that, on first glance, the colours did represent how I was feeling on Tuesday. Drab. Muted. Uninspired.

But something called me to revisit these pages today. Today I am feeling more myself. And today, I saw something new in these photos and the sum of their parts.

Today I saw glimpses of Autumn. I saw the colours of nature. I saw beauty that was only evident after a second glance, a complexity that required patience and commitment. I saw a quiet optimism.

I saw myself.


For more courageous colours, be sure to visit Our Creative Spaces.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #47 Nix the hospital fantasy



Many moons ago, the wonderful Andrea Scher wrote a post about her hospital fantasy. You know: those times when everything gets a bit much and we just wish that we could be whisked away to a safe, quiet, clean place and be forced to rest. I recall reading her post for the first time and nodding in a way of understanding. How nice would it be, I thought, to have space and a legitimate reason to just switch off... and let everyone look after themselves?


On Saturday, my hospital fantasy sort of came to fruition. My husband and little 'un and I were walking home from the supermarket and I tripped on the uneven concrete in the sidewalk and fell hard on the ground. Apart from the shock, and a grazed knee and elbow, I was OK. Except I couldn't put any weight on my right foot.

Thankfully we were very close to home and I hopped back with my husband's help. Then I sat on the couch, put my foot up, put an icepack on it, and popped some anti-inflammatories.

In theory: heaven. I was excused from bedtime duty. I had dinner brought to me. I had a stack of books and nothing else to do but read them.

In reality: a silly sort of hell. What if my ankle was sprained? Who would do the huge stack of dishes on the kitchen bench? How I was going to get my little 'un to kinder during the week? After all, if I needed crutches, how was I going to hold her hand to cross the road? How would we find a physiotherapist on a Sunday? And, if we did, how would we actually get there, seeing as we had two cars with two flat tyres each (thanks to some thoughtless bored prankster)?

Safe to say, it was not a time of relaxation, relief or decadence.

The reality of my hospital fantasy is that I will worry about silly things like the cleanliness of my home. I'll fret about the practicalities of situations that may never arise. I'll feel bored and restless and frustrated. And helpless.

So, this week, I have decided to let go of that hospital fantasy (along with a whole heap of other things).

I am interested, however, in the reasons behind the fantasy. What is it that I am yearning for? Some space? Permission to rest? Some quiet time in a sterile stimulation-free environment? The people around me to shoulder some of the burden of day-to-day activities?

I am beginning to see how the fantasy is no longer serving me. It bears little resemblance to my reality. And it has not brought me any of the things I want. If I need these things -- as I clearly do -- then it is time to stand firmly, with my head held high and start asking for them.

Will you join me? This week, I invite you to consider the things you have been yearning for in fantasy form. These can be quite raw and confronting, so there is no compunction to share them. But viewing them through a compassionate and curious lens may yield something quite beautiful and inviting: the thing your heart really yearns for.

How could you find a way to ask for these things?

Because you are worthy of the things your heart truly needs. You deserve every thing you yearn for.

And that's the truth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Phoenix


A surreal evening in a sea of strangers; a series of bad shoe choices; someone glimpsing me and making unfavourable assumptions; not turning up and letting people down; crashing unexpectedly onto the sidewalk and twisting my ankle; seeing a ghost in the supermarket; a serial pest letting two tyres on each of our cars down; resenting and fearing not being able to walk on my own; yet another person asking me whether I'm pregnant (I'm not); the tedium of spreadsheets; running out of milk and missing out on my morning coffee; losing my patience in public; the confrontational nature of painting layers; two rather uncomfortable and expensive trips to the dentist; missing bus after bus; using up all my broadband credits and being punished with 256kbps until the next billing period; digging down deep and sighting that thing I've been burying for so so long; grieving, grieving, grieving.

The waves of overwhelm don't always come crashing in... sometimes they gently erode, erode, erode... constantly, naturally, unnoticed... until we stop and glance and realise that we've been carrying around a gaping wound that has never seen the light and had no chance to heal.

I was fascinated to learn that these days are unfolding under the shadow of a dark moon. I feel it: the grief for the old, the opening to the new. Growing pains. Uncertainty.

Hope.

One of the final tasks for Body Restoration is to write a letter to our old life and burn it. Or bury it and cover it with new life (i.e. plant a tree). I doubt anyone who saw Melody Ross undertake this task will ever forget the image of her grief and renewal.

It's time, it really is. Tomorrow's new moon. Paper. Ink. Flames. Tears.

I'll be there.

Monday, February 20, 2012

This poem has me shouting YES!




The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,


and say, sit here.  Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine.  Give bread.  Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you


all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,


the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit.  Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott
Love after Love
(With thanks to Liz Lamoreux)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Savouring my Sunday


1. My husband’s return after three days away.


2. Discovering that this cafe has opened, walking distance from where I live! Can't wait to go, get fed and get messy.

3.  One crazy Friday night of decadence with my bff (evidence above!). Felt distinctly seedy the next morning, I can tell you...

4. My friend Phil’s beautiful brave blog post about stepping in to the beautiful brave life she was always meant to live.

5. Finally getting around to watching Invictus on DVD: my parents lent it to me ages ago! Inspiring stuff.

6. Wading through fourteen penetrating questions about "soul hunger", courtesy of Body Restoration.  I can’t say I was all that delighted to be presented with the task but, as always, it was illuminating and worthwhile.

7. Andrea Scher’s wonderful interview about creativity, vulnerability and motherhood at the newly-launched MAPP [Motherhood, Ambition, Passion and Purpose] Gathering.

8. Persisting with painting, despite not loving what my canvas looks like. Learning that this is a critical part of the process. Aiming for fluidity of movement, focus on colour and texture, allowing intuition to guide me.

9. This incredible letter forwarded to me by a friend. I think I am going to have to read it a few times over… and I suspect I will be using that “sister ship” technique for many of life’s conundrums.

10. My little ‘un toilet training herself in the space of three days. She is one incredible little human bean.

Be sure to check it with magnificent Maxabella for more samples of sumptuous savouring!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Time: wasted?




It’s a curious thing, this “time to oneself”. As the mother of a little person who works part time and also has a busy creative (and inner!) life, I actually get a surprising amount of it.

I work two days a week and, although that is technically not “down time” I do have uninterrupted time to sit down, research complex work-related issues and write papers/proposals. All of which I enjoy. My little ‘un goes to kindergarten two mornings a week and she also naps for around two hours most days. Once she goes to bed of an evening, husband and I tend to alternate hanging out together and pottering around doing our own thing.

Longtime readers of this blog know that I do not tend to devote much of “my” time to things I “should” be doing i.e. housework or cooking. I tend to race into my study/studio and put a layer of paint or glue on something, or tap away at the keyboard or typewriter. If my soul is feeling damp or flaccid, I’ll tend to numb myself with hours of blog hopping and impulse Etsy purchases (which, generally, makes me feel worse but that’s a post for another time...).

The week before last when my husband mentioned that he’d be travelling for a few days for work, my first thoughts were for all the creative projects I had on the go. My first thoughts were for my art and writing, as if I had suddenly been gifted with a whole heap of extra time for my self.

It’s funny: I almost feel embarrassed writing this now.

I don’t really get it. What was it that I was anticipating? A stretch of three long evenings when I could create... what? Without guilt? Without interruption? Without limitation?

I already have these things. Every day.

[And there’s a tiny voice that nags me as to why my first thought wasn’t for my daughter, but let’s park that one for now.]

And here’s the even stranger bit: when he went away and the evenings rolled around, I didn’t actually feel compelled to do any of the things on the list I’d been so eagerly compiling.

Instead, I sat and watched DVDs with a bucket of ice-cream and pulled a well-thumbed book off my shelf. Instead of feeling energised and motivated and inspired, I felt glum and unsettled and a bit directionless.

Curious, huh?

Let me go back and qualify that. I watched two DVDs, mainly because I’d borrowed them from my Mum ages ago and needed to return them. And my husband wasn’t all that interested in watching them with me, so his absence did create an opportunity.

I also only ate a quarter of the tub of ice-cream... evidence that Body Restoration and copious therapy are working!

The book was something I am researching, something to do with the origins of my deep-seated notions of romantic love. I am beginning to realise the impact that Jane Eyre had on a certain ten year old girl! [Again, a post for another time...!]

The second night I watched another DVD, then picked up my paints and added a new layer to my “Flora” canvases.

The third night, I waded through the Body Restoration tasks for the week.

So, actually, once I found my stride, it was quite a productive few days. But: no more than usual.

So my initial reluctance and subsequent disinterest make me curious. I wonder what all this is about. Guilt? Unworthiness? Need for perceived time limitation? Hankering for a structured day? Habitual longings that don’t have much bearing to reality?

Does this happen to anyone else? What comes up for you when it does? What, do you suppose, could it be about?

Friday, February 17, 2012

The story of the Long-Legged Fly


Art has been very much on my mind these past couple of weeks, can't you tell?

I'd like to share the four canvases that made up my first piece of comissioned artwork. Now that my friend has received them, I can share without fear of spoiling the surprise!

It's fair to say this piece of art kicked my butt! These canvases had the longest "ugly phase" of anything I've ever made (at least three months!) and one burst of ill-advised activity saw me hacking layers of paper and glue and embellishments off the canvas with a knife... and almost throwing them in the trash in despair.

So, in the end, I feel that these pieces tell a story. They tell of a woman who persisted, despite her flaws and her fears. They tell of a woman who was prepared to put her heart out there.

They tell of a woman who worked so incredibly hard to understand her self, wear her scars bravely. They also tell of a woman who was intensely private, and often misunderstood.

They celebrate the stillness she has cultivated in her sacred inner world. They witness her heart's strength and determination.

This woman is Helen of Troy, Friday Kahlo, Vali Myers, Patti Smith.

She is the friend for whom I made this art. She is me.

And, I suspect, she is also you.



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #46 Call yourself an artist


This journalling prompt of Flora's has put me in a flat spin all week: How do you feel about doing what you love as a way to make a living?

On the one hand, I don't think it is too much of a stretch to imagine that I will have a novel published in my lifetime. Whether or not I'd be able to "make a living" from that is questionable, but I digress...

But on the other hand, making a living by making art? My impulse is to say that this is so far out of the realm of possibility that it almost doesn't bear entertaining. Actually, it's almost a bit painful.

Even though my art is evolving in leaps and bounds. Even though I have witnessed other artists make a living  by producing art not dissimilar from mine. Even though I am committed to the journey. Even though it makes my heart sing.

I just don't feel I can call myself an artist.

This makes me curious. I mean, how hard can it be?

Recently, I met a woman who is a friend of a friend of mine. Our mutual friend is an artist. The woman I'd just met asked, "Are you an artist too?". I ummed and ahhed and mumbled and fumbled before finally answering vaguely in the negative.

What am I waiting for? To have amassed a body of work? An exhibition? A publication? Does someone else need to call me an artist before I can claim the mantle for myself?

This week, I invite you to wonder: would you call yourself an artist? I am especially interested in your answer if you do not feel drawn to draw or paint or sculpt. What is it that you do in your daily life that could be considered art?

What is it, really, to be an artist? To this, I will let Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes reply:

An artist is an artist before they have ever produced a single thing. […] An artist is an artist, no matter what.
The production of something is not what makes a body an artist. It's the soul […], the centre of the psyche that fills the creative person, the creative fire inside a person that makes them an artist.
And if a person has the soul of an artist, that is, they have the fire, the burning as each individual does, then they are an artist. They are entitled to the title of artist.
We're all entitled to the title of artist 
before we've produced
one
single
thing.

This week, will you stand next to me and boldly introduce yourself as an artist to the next person you meet? And when they ask you (as they doubtless will) about your drawing or painting or sculpting, will you gently explain how you are an artist because you chose the colours and textures you are wearing today with hope in your heart? Because you arranged the most delicately succulent salad leaves you could find in a handblown glass bowl for your lunch? Because you chose to walk home a different way, and noticed the unusual patterns the powerlines made against the clouded sky? Because you wrote a tender and gorgeous blog post, sharing your vulnerability about your children growing up or your fears for growing old?

Because you just are?

Your life is art, my friend. And you are worthy of the title: artist. You are an artist.

And so am I.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In love? I'm curious


My friends, I have a question for you. I hope you don't mind me asking, today of all days...

But, if you are in a long term relationship at the moment, are you in love?

I mean, if we take it as read that you love your partner deeply and profoundly in a way that transcends your day-to-day interactions, how do you know then you are in love?

Does it happen often? Do you have a way of checking in with yourself, with each other?

What are the signs that you are in love, or not? And, if the latter is the case, what do you tend to do with that information?

Just some questions I'm pondering: a little research, if you like.

You are warmly invited to share your thoughts in this safe space. Or, if you prefer, you are welcome to email me at katsawyoudancing [at] gmail [dot] com.

Or you could just mull it over.

It's worth pondering, no?


PS I don't have the answers to any of these questions. But I sure am curious. Could it actually be that most couples are not usually in love? That being in love takes practice? And that that's actually OK?

PPS Mugs by Rob Ryan. Swoon!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Some more savouring! (A Sunday supplementary edition)


1. Playing with paint and tools (brushes, foam brushes, stampers, etchers, fingers). Loving how play gives permission to push each tool and medium to the limit, just to see what happens, regardless of what it looks like. Also loving Flora's reminders that each new layer becomes, in effect, a blank canvas. And her permission to work with what's working: noticing the colours and textures and compositions that I am drawn to again and again.

2. "The birds are the keepers of our secret..." The opening line from Elbow's gorgeous album.
3. Mati Rose's exquisite and brave blog post.

4. My little 'un's fascination with my canvases. You gotta love being told that everything you make is "byoooodiful!".

5. Booking tickets to take my little 'un to see Sesame Street live.

6. A sumptuous anniversary feast.

7. Impromptu family discos to Eagle and the Worm.

8. Deciding to allow myself to be seen in a moment of sadness. The gift of this was a volume of tears that surprised me. I hadn't realised the depth of my feelings but, in that moment of allowing them, they started to heal.
9. My little 'un's current obsession with Wind in the Willows. My sister and I used to watch the very same BBC claymation film with our Dad when we were young. In fact, he taped it onto cassette (this was 1983!) and we used to listen to it by the fire, singing along to all the songs. My husband would beg to differ, but I never get sick of hearing "The Open Road" or "When the Toad came Home"!

10. Feeling awake and fully present in my life, for the first time possibly ever.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Savouring my Saturday



Things I have savoured over the past week include:

1. Going vintage shopping with my bff and discovering not one, not two, but three vintage aprons! I have since been wearing them with skirts and dresses and boots and am loving them silly.

2. Diving in to Brave Intuitive You, and loving every marvellous messy moment. I even set up a flickr account -- finally -- so I could really make the most of all this gorgeous community has to offer.

3. My daughter announcing on Wednesday that she wanted to wear underpants rather than nappies, and her amazing efforts at anticipating when she needed to go to the toilet. So very proud of her, despite me feeling grossly underprepared for this eventuality!

4. A successful shopping expedition to stock up on a zillion pairs of underpants (and spare pairs of leggings). Oh, and a few extra paints and paintbrushes for a certain someone else!

5. The "jet setter" aromatic mist from Perfect Potion. Heavenly!

6. Going swimming on Friday, despite my sister being away on leave. I was sooo tempted to go shopping instead! And those last ten laps somehow felt harder without her there. So I was extra proud of myself for showing up.

7. Two seasoned conflict avoiders sitting and asking tentative questions. And being brave enough to sit and hear the answers.

8. The first signs of Autumn in our neighbourhood.

9. Family pizza at our favourite local.

10. Finally sending out my first commissioned piece of artwork to its destination. And having it loving received (more on this next week!). Noticing a distinct feeling of pride in among the relief at having finished, and hesitation to let it go. Funny how that happens...

Be sure to check out more delicious moments of gratitude (the best food for the soul), graciously hosted by Maxabella.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Feet on the ground, peering into that pocket




Longtime readers of this blog may have noticed a certain energy in my writing over the past month or so. Certainly a few friends who know me through this space have commented on it. You seem to be in a good space. I was.

I am.

There’s this thing that I do in response to strong and uncomfortable emotions. I keep busy. Extremely busy. Maniacally busy. Tidying. Artmaking. Organising.

In this case, it was the fallout from Christmas, and a long stretch of rather hot weather that had me a bothered and restless.

It had me enthusiastically finishing art projects that had been languishing for months. Signing up for new ones. Declaring intentions to develop new skills. Visualising and manifesting. Tidying, clearing, acquiring. Setting deadlines, feasible and artificial. Rarely taking a moment to sit down.

A bit on the exhausting side, for sure. But nothing inherently bad. And certainly a deliciously rewarding productive time.

Not exactly sustainable.

And also, if I am going to be honest: avoiding.

It's a curious thing: avoidance through doing things that make me feel good, rather than the traditional formula of avoidance through doing things that make me feel bad (e.g. numbing out with food or alcohol).

I also found there was a lot of validation for what I was doing, on one level at least. I mean, one doesn't have to look very far to find exhortations and encouragements for women to carve out time for their creative pursuits... though, that said, they rarely advocate avoiding things that are important!

Yet here I was, avoiding. Avoiding sitting down. Sitting with my family. Sitting with my feelings. Sitting and peering into that little pocket of sadness I’d been assiduously ignoring.

And, of course, when I visited my therapist on Monday after a break for a few weeks, that’s exactly what she invited me to do.

It’s fair to say that the sheen has rubbed off my lively little life since then.

And those closest to me noticed and were a little put out (apt to blame the therapist: you were doing really well until you went to see her). And I have to confess, I was a little annoyed: it felt so good, while it lasted! Like a sugar rush. A crazy sweet life.

But this space where I am now, it’s actually not so bad.

I still feel good. Grounded. This energy feels more natural, more real, more sustainable. I’ve been making a real effort to sit, every day for even just a few moments, with courage and openness and curiosity with that thing I’d been avoiding. Some days it’s easy. Others it feels I’m trying to tango with a cheese grater. Mostly, it feels rewarding. It feels right.

But that’s life, isn’t it?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Just begin: a lesson in blooming


I think Brave Intuitive You is a fantastic concept for an e-course, especially one to do with painting. I usually use paint on my collages but have to confess that is the stage that always intimidates me. Once I have composed a layer of paper and ephemera that I am happy with, I'll often leave the canvas for weeks (sometimes months) while working up the bravery to incorporate a layer or paint or two.

I suspect it has something to do with not being really sure what I'm doing i.e. succumbing to the voices that tell me that I don't know how to paint "properly", that I don't even know how to use paints "properly", that the way I'm working with them is "wrong". I suspect it is no coincidence that this is where the ugly phase of the artwork kicks in and this can often see me leave the canvas for another week (or month) until I work up the courage to push through.

I can see how bravery and intuition are key to pushing past this fear.

But that still didn't stop me dragging my feet when it came to diving in to the curriculum of this course, which started on Monday.

I didn't have the "right" paints. I didn't have time. It was going to be messy. I was tired.

All of these excuses had some kernel of truth. I didn't own any fluid acrylics, which were required for the first exercise. I hadn't managed to carve out time to go to the art shop and buy some. It had been a busy and somewhat emotional week.

But.

I did have some heavy-bodied acrylics and also some clear painting medium. Perhaps I could have a go at diluting the paints to make them a little runnier? And it suddenly occurred to me that those plastic champagne glasses left over from a party (three million new years eves ago) would make pretty nifty paint mixing and sploshing receptacles. And I had purchased a tarpaulin especially for this course, so I could protect the floor of my study/studio. And I suddenly had a quiet hour or so.

I drew a card from a bowl of invitations cut from Keri Smith's Live Out Loud: my go-to resource when I'm feeling stuck, uninspired or afraid. I closed my eyes and whispered, "I give myself permission to..."

And the card I drew was: BEGIN.

So I did.

It wasn't perfect. Unexpected things did happen. It was rather messy. It was surprisingly sensuous.

And it was a helluva lot of fun.

Begin. I get it.






Be sure to check out more glorious beginnings at Our Creative Spaces!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #45 The gift of receiving


As part of the visioning workshop I attended a couple of weeks ago, we were asked to bring a gift to exchange. The instructions were as follows:

Please bring along a small item that has meaning for you (it could be a mix CD, a special stone or other natural object, a poem written down, a charm, etc). You do not need to buy something especially for this, nor does it need to be an expensive item. Look around your home and find something that you love, but that you are also able to part with. During our closing ceremony each participant will have the opportunity to participate in giving and receiving a gift to take away.

I found a journal that I wanted to give, one of a set of three that I had ordered. I loved the quality of the paper, the imagery on the front, and the nifty purse size, and figured it would be a great way for someone to chart the course of their journey with their vision board.

But somehow that didn’t seem heartfelt enough. So, the morning of the workshop, my little ‘un and I sat down and cut a little heart out of cardstock and coloured it in. We covered it with washi tape and sparkling butterfly stickers and incorporated a wise quote from Goethe. Then we taped a set of feather wings to each side and covered the whole thing with glittery gem medium to seal it. With that talisman, we hoped that the journal recipient would be reminded that their dreams had wings... and also to share their creative dreams with a little person in their lives.

The gift-giving ceremony was held at the end of the workshop and was guided beautifully by Cathy. She asked us each to explain the significance of the gift we were giving, then place it in the centre of the circle in which we were sitting. She then invited us to take turns in choosing a gift and share why we had selected it.

My gift was the first to be selected and found its way to a beautiful home! My heart filled with joy, also because I had felt a special connection to the lass who chose it.

When it came to my own turn, I have to confess that I had my eye on something that symbolised something very specific. I felt it was imbued with a certain energy that really matching how I was feeling and what I was hoping to invite into my life.

Then someone else selected it, for very different reasons.

When my own time came, I saw that there was something else on the table that was really speaking to me... and was, in fact, the best choice for me.

The exquisite handmade green brooch pictured above.

The lass who made it took one very courageous step in putting this delightful creation out into the world. She had not yet had the confidence to share her creative work with others and harboured a secret wish to open her own shop.

I knew that this beautiful green lady was imbued with powerful whispers: You can do it! The world is waiting for you. Your work is lovely, unique, precious. Take the leap. You will be rewarded.

I thanked the creator of this powerful talisman for her bravery, and was so touched to see how much this moved her. I asked her to let me know when her shop was open, as I knew that when I wore the brooch, that people would ask me where I got it, where they could find one. I told her that there was a thirst for such beautiful objects that had been handmade with love.

I'm pretty sure all of you dear kindred spirits reading this now would not be unhappy if someone gifted you a beautiful piece like this, or know of someone who would prize it dearly. For me, whenever I wear the brooch it reminds me to be brave, take the leap, share my gifts with the world, and be open to receiving the love that this creates.

This week, I invite you to open your heart to the notion that you are worthy of receiving. If, like me, you are someone who is quick to give (and eager to ensure that you are never indebted to someone) you may find this invitation more confronting than it first appears! What is it that you most need today? Could it be that you truly deserve to receive it, without debt or obligation?

It's true: giving is a beautiful thing. But it's also true that receiving can bring more joy, inspiration and encouragement than the obvious pleasure derived from receiving a material object. And, as Cathy showed it, there is a sweet tender magic in stepping forward and openly claiming the things we need to receive.

I hadn’t been quite sure how the gift-giving ceremony would go. What if no-one liked my gift? What if there wasn’t anything I wanted by the time my turn came around?

In the end, I saw that trust is always the answer. What I gave was graciously received. What I received was exactly the gift I needed. And in giving the need a voice, it was met a thousandfold.

This, my friends, you can trust: you worthy of what you receive.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The sure-fire cure for overwhelm




GEMINI (May 21-June 20): "If Mark Twain had had Twitter," says humorist Andy Borowitz, "he would have been amazing at it. But he probably wouldn't have gotten around to writing Huckleberry Finn." I think you're facing a comparable choice, Gemini. You can either get a lot of little things done that will serve your short-term aims, or else you can at least partially withdraw from the day-to-day give-and-take so as to devote yourself with more focus to a long-range goal. I'm not here to tell you which way to go; I just want to make sure you know the nature of the decision before you.


The truth is, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed these past few days. 

I think it’s a combination of things. Feeling a tiny bit under the weather. Trying to get back in synch with our routine, as my little ‘un resumes her creative play sessions. Brave conversations about whether I do enough around the house. Trying to filter out the artificial deadlines. [Just because I make declarations of worthiness, doesn’t mean I have all this sorted!] The number of creative projects underway... in addition to the number that I wish I could do. The exhaustion that comes with the sheer joy of squeezing in as much creative goodness into/out of a day as possible. Trying to make good decisions, consciously, about food and exercise and sleep. The exhilarating and slightly confronting energy emanating from my vision board. The questions, constant questions.

In among all of this, I wonder if this is really my path. This slightly manic energy, I know it won’t last forever. But when it has ebbed out of my bones, what then?

I know I have done with work: psychologically, artistically. I know I have a story, a style all of my own. 

But I see myself searching for structure, seeking instruction (enrolling in e-course after e-course!). I see how this also enables me to defer striking out on my own, going out on a limb with my art, seeing what I'm really made of.

I see myself doubt whether I have got the soul of my story, my style, straight. I know who I am and what I love to do, but if I were to try and make something and sell it, what would it be? If I were to write something, what would it be? If I were to teach something, what would it be?

As I write this, I feel a tremendous amount of tenderness for the girl who is so eager for the answers. Those pithy one-liners that can serve as static guideposts until the end of time. Other people seem to have them, right?

The work. At the end of the day, it is all about the work.

My work.

Just do it, a sweet voice beckons. Start. Don’t question. You are so good at trusting your intuition in so many aspects of your life. Stretch this muscle. Trust it. 

Trust the process. The destination will become clear when the time is right. The product, the story, the curriculum will emerge, in time.

It doesn't have to emerge from a vacuum. In fact, it rarely does. You have a muse. You are inspired. You will be invited to produce, to participate. You do not need to conjure anything. You do not need to dig any deeper.

You have done the work.

You have the time. Savour it.

My work. That’s where it’s at.

Time to get back to it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

S is for savouring


snuffbox smell of rain
seventy five soul cards
Steven King's On Writing
six hundredth post

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Savouring my Saturday




1. Delicious swathes of jasmine outside my office, making journeys into the midday heat dreamy and exotic.

2. The prospect of experiencing this extraordinary chappie in performance in April.

3. Dreaming up a gorgeous itinerary based on the world’s most beautiful bookstores (link courtesy of my sweetheart, Jen).

4. My sister emailing me to tell me that she loves hanging out with me.

5. Vivienne McMaster’s beautiful 14 days of self-love series, blowing me away.

6. Emails and the possibility of a catch-up date with the lovely people who participated in Your Awesome Year. Loving the prospect of brave, open, creative new friends.

7. Deciding to follow up in a phone call all the things that were left unsaid, and the brave conversation that blossomed from that moment.

8. Steadily working my way through Soul Restoration and Body Restoration and loving every minute. Getting messy with paint and glue.

9. Booking our wedding anniversary dinner date.

10. My little ‘un’s expression when I told her how beautiful her art was, how happy it made me, and how proud of her I was. Those little cheeks got all taut and wide, as if they were savouring the most exquisite piece of chocolate and they never wanted it to end. My sweet sweet girl.

What did you savour this week? Be sure to savour Maxabella's lovely celebration of gratitude here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fuchsias


I once heard a story
about a little boy who called these
beautiful pinky purply flowers
futures.

I'm not sure if he used to love
squeezing the unopened bulbs
gently
in his hands

just to feel that exquisite
pop!


(like I used to)

or
whether he just
loved
the explosion of colour

that
somehow
signified
hope.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Worthiness Wednesday #44 The gifts and perils of an artificial deadline



Thursday last week was a public holiday here in Australia. I’d made plans to pop over to my bff’s gorgeous flat for some homemade lemonade on the balcony. I was really looking forward to relaxing in her space and having a good old natter, as always. But all week, in the lead-up, something kept nagging at me.

Her blanket. The one that I am crocheting for her housewarming present.

I have completed a third of the granny squares but all last week a little voice nagged me: “Crochet them together! You need to put them together so that she can see how a third of her blanket is finished. Quick! Quick! You don’t have much time! You’re running out of time!”

I started to panic, wondered how I was going to “get everything done” while this urgent task needed attention.

I didn’t manage any crochet last week. I went to my bff’s and we easily filled the time talking about all manner of things, as we usually do. The blanket didn’t even come up in conversation.

On Saturday, I attended a workshop that included the opportunity to make a vision board. One of the things I was really looking forward to was meeting kindred spirits and getting to know a bit about their creative endeavours.

“Artist Trading Cards!” That little voice cried. “You have never made them before, but you really need to have them now! Everyone else will have them and you’ll be the only one out. How else are people going to keep in touch with you, follow your blog? Quick! Get online and learn the protocols. You need to make twenty by Saturday! Quick! Quick! You don’t have much time! You’re running out of time!” 

I didn’t manage to make, to even start making, Artist Trading Cards. I attended the workshop and no-one had ATCs. Some of the attendees would not have even described themselves as artists (although that’s a story for another post). I found myself offering to compile a list of everyone’s blogs and email it around.

The tyranny of these artificial deadlines makes me curious. In some ways I love that little voice. She’s so creative! She has great ideas. She encourages me to make the most of every moment. Sometimes I feel driven to attempt what she suggests and, it’s true, I do feel a tremendous sense of achievement. Like, wow! I really can “do it all”. (Then I usually flake out with exhaustion.)

Other times, I feel she is an unreasonable task master. She makes me feel like a failure and a slob for not going that extra mile, not being a goodie-two-shoes, not earning extra credits. Sometimes her voice reminds me of my Mum’s and I find myself comparing my energy (or lack thereof) to my Mum’s. She always manages to do her best and go that extra mile. (Then she usually flakes out with exhaustion.)

And you know what? I had a really lovely week, even though I didn’t manage any crochet or ATCs. I did lots of other things that really made me happy.

This week, I invite you to step back and look at all the To Do lists and deadlines on your agenda. Then listen to the voices that are pushing you to go that extra mile. How many of those deadlines and requirements are ones that you have placed on yourself? Which of these made you feel excited, motivated, courageous? Which make you feel daunted, time-pressured, inadequate?

Get curious: whose voice is it that you hear, when you receive those latter requests?

Get compassionate: how could you gently thank that voice for trying to inspire and motivate you, but explain that it’s not really what you need right now? Then tenderly let it go?

After all, you know deep down what it is you love to do. You’ll know when the time is right to tackle the other things, if you really need to.

Your time is worth honouring with things that you love. And you deserve to let yourself off the hook when it comes it anything that doesn’t fit the bill.