Category: mindfulness

What shall I call it?

Lately, my heart has been feeling heavy. There’s too much uncertainty and chaos in the world. Most of the worries are out of my control. I know I just have to be patient and watch it all play out.

So I step away from the news to find some peace. That’s what I’m trying to do anyway. My ever present comfort is the bird feeder in my backyard. I can see if from every window on the backside of my house.

I’ve been observing the summer birds arriving and hanging out again. They’ve been away for awhile. The red-headed woodpecker is back. And this morning, I saw a male and female pair of summer tanagers. The indigo bunting was here this week too. And, oh yes, the sweetness…this season’s first bluebird nestlings are almost fledged (ready to fly).

This is where to focus when you’re heart gets heavy. Stop, listen, and watch  the birds. Maybe even be inspired to make a new quilt. What shall I call it?

Fulfilling rewards

This morning I was listening to Macy Gray on a podcast. She said she caught her ideas for her songs when God and angels threw them at her. This isn’t as novel or “out there” as it may seem.  In “Big Magic,” Elizabeth Gilbert says basically the same thing, as does Phil Cousineau in his book “Stoking the Creative Fires.” (note: both books are good reads)

I find the concept fascinating. They’re all basically saying that there are moments when a creative idea comes to you. You can grab it and run with it…or let it pass. Gilbert goes as far to say if you let it pass, the idea might get tossed to someone else. I’ve had moments of “Oh wow! What if I do this?” I find it fascinating.

Creativity isn’t just about making a work of art. Creative expression could be starting a new business or non-profit, deciding to take a trip, inviting friends to start a support group or book club, coming up with an idea to teach a class, or… well you get the idea. The challenge is acting on the inspiration.

I come up with a lot of ideas, but grabbing them and acting on them is a different story. Reading these 2 books and, today, listening to Ms. Gray, I realized you can’t act on everything. You can easily forget an idea if you’re busy with something else or don’t write it down. Maybe you need time to percolate the reality of this creative spark. Maybe it was just an idea that passed by you, but was meant for someone else. If the idea is meant for you, hopefully it will return when you’re ready and bless you with many fulfilling rewards.

 

Back at you

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a “beach person,” but I do love the beach. I don’t like the beaches that are crowded with people. I like walking the beach early in the morning or in cold months when no one else wants to be there. I had some time this past week to stroll barefoot in the sand and I kept running into great blue herons. This one stood still along the coast and pretended not to notice me. I was acting like a Frozen Charlotte and I knew he was watching me. Whenever I made the slightest move, his gaze would change or his body would move to reposition. It was a stand-off of mutual respect.

Had I been with other people, I know this encounter wouldn’t have happened. They likely wouldn’t have been so patient or quiet in waiting. Watching. It was magic. I watched how they interacted with people and tried to survive with the 2-legged trespassers. I watched how they adapted their feeding, as they attempted to steal the fish reeled in by the people fishing the surf. No longer the independent hunter, just a well-adapted opportunistic thief. I walked away emotionally changed.

I knew in just a few hours of my walk, things would be different for them. Instead of an occasional morning walker, they would deal with a steady stream of people passing up and down the coastal sand. They did what they could to survive. One stolen fish at a time.

This is were creative inspiration comes from; Stopping. Observing. Witnessing life around you. Take the time to slow down. The inspiration will probably be there looking right back at you.

 

 

Allow space for things to happen

The past few months, I’ve been working in front of my computer. At times, it felt like slow movements; a nagging … “get it done, get it done.” At the same time, I was reading books and paying attention to how I felt. My feelings were: why the hurry? Give it time. Don’t rush it.

“Don’t rush anything. When the time is right, it’ll happen.” – Anonymous

I’ve been trying to give myself space. I didn’t make my mental deadlines public, because I wanted to work in a comfortable way (yes, those deadlines kept changing). I didn’t want the added burden of external expectations. I’ve done that before and failed. Creativity isn’t a place to rush. However, it is a place to attend to.

I could have literally spent 8-10 hours a day working on producing my next online class. Instead I gave it time to process. Since the time I started working on this (yes, its been awhile), I’ve run into technical and software issues. And, the online hosting platform I was using announced they were shutting down. (Stop. Re-group. Time to go down a rabbit hole of research.) Disappointment and hurdles can slow you down.

I didn’t give up though. I just gave myself patience and space. If it is meant to be, it will be. Breathe.

There have been times that I pushed myself to perform and found my health was affected by it. I’m older and don’t want to live like that. I think many people are feeling this way. Covid gave us all a time to really slow down. Now as things are returning to normal, many of us don’t want to go back to our old ways. It’s Ok. Its actually healthy to step off the treadmill and meditate.

Above all, it is important to be aware of how you feel toward what you are doing. Step back, check in, and reflect. Is it important to you? If yes, take time for it. If no, then let it go. Along the way, remember to be kind to yourself. It’s ok to allow space for things to happen.

Find our way

So tell me, what’s with that project in your closet? You know, the one that you started ages ago? The one that you want to finish but lost your mojo? Or is it the one that you forgot about and later discovered while you were looking for something else? You know the one I mean…YES! That one! Can you tell me why you haven’t finished it?

I think all creatives have them. And, I must confess, I have my own “healthy” stash of UFOs (UnFinished Objects). Knitting projects, pieced quilts, art quilts and countless fabric tidbits that were suppose to become something.

When I “find” mine in the closet, I think to myself, “I should really finish that.” Then, I proceed to move on to whatever I was initially doing. I occasionally grab them and say…”Now its your turn!” and happily get them completed.

I sometimes envy those that don’t have abandonment issues with their art. However, not so much lately, because I’ve discovered a different attitude to take … it isn’t time. I compare it to making bread, the idea or creative energy needs to rest before it can rise.

Our society is so full of productive hurry. Do more, be more, create more … Don’t stop, because you will fall behind!

Maybe art isn’t meant to be created like that. Sure, there are those who crank out new work like they have little mice helping them at night [e.g., Cinderella]. But, it’s tiring to keep up. What if the work needs rest too? If we’re stuck, the pause can bring new insight and inspiration. Giving the work a timeout might be all we need to get the courage and confidence to complete it. Or maybe, the intermission gives us time to learn new things and find our way.

That magical place of being; reverie

I love learning new things. I never want my thoughts to be without engagement. What is? What if? What next? How? Constantly wondering and awarded with discovering something new.

This week I learned a new word, “reverie.” Merriem-Webster describes it as “the condition of being lost in thought; day dream.” Phil Cousineau in his book “Stoking the Creative Fires” describes it as the first fire that must be stoked to ignite the creative work that keeps you from going crazy.

Much like “flow,”  which was conceptualized and introduced into psychology by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as a creative cognitive space where we step out of the routines of everyday life into a different reality. A place were we get lost in time, find effortless attention, and a balance between skill and challenge.

Both reverie and flow describe the place were creatives are lost in their task. I have held this space, have you?  Right now I’m in-between projects and craving this super absorbed space in time. I’ve been thinking what inspires my reverie. What sparks yours?

For me listening to my playlists and getting lost in music is my magical place. The lyrics fill my brain and the rhythm pulses my heartbeat. I love going to live performances and watch how the musicians transform on stage. Scott Terry (pictured) of Red Wanting Blue is one of those performers. His facial expressions show his departure from time and place. He is singing with his muse and the audience is flowing with him. In my personal journey, I’m discovering how to spark that magical place of being; reverie.

Because you can

My heart has felt heavy. There’s not much you can do when things are out of your control. So you watch, hold your breath and keep your emotions close to your heart. The weight of the world. History. That’s why it feels heavy.

My grandmother arrived at Ellis Island in November 1920, fleeing her homeland in the midst of the Polish-Soviet War. The boundaries between Poland, Russian and Ukraine where in flux. You see, the Baltic Region is deeply rooted in my ancestry.

I think of Busia and the people of this region. They are my blood.
Is this why it feels so heavy? I don’t know.

I’m an artist here in the US, because of my grandmother. Her struggles are my history and afford me my life.

Its OK to feel all of this in our hearts and minds. To care and have empathy is a beautiful thing. But, be aware of how you’re feeling. Stand tall. When you worry, find outlets that comfort you. Seek opportunities to help those who are hurting. Make art, simply because you can.

To the top

I’m currently reading “The Reluctant Artist” by Karen Kinney. Its a fast read and offers a lot of insight into the creative journey. I highly recommend it. I’m lucky enough to be reading along with a small circle of creative women who work in a variety of mediums. This book seems to speak to all of us at some level.

In her book, Kinney writes about feeding our creativity by consistently showing up which, in turn, creates forward momentum in our creativity. One feeds the other. We always want to be moving forward in our journey, the consistency is what feeds our soul. The problem with this is staying the course. It isn’t easy. Kinney references Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art (another good, quick, read). In it Pressfield writes “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

So, if you’re a creative person, there’s this battle going on. You may realize your creativity is very important to you, but you also find that you’re facing resistance too. Maybe you’re finding excuses and making other things more important (e.g. laundry, cleaning the cupboards, etc.). Maybe you’re critical of yourself, your art or your motivation. Granted some  “excuses” are valid activities that need to be done, but do they have to be the priority all the time? Is there room in your life to make adjustments? Can you hush the inner self-criticism?  Are you willing to change some things to free up extra time and show up for your art practice? The more you show up, the more you’ll accomplish and the more you’ll want to want to show up.

I admit its challenging and I’m always seriously confronting my own resistance. But, I am also showing up. Does it matter if we show up for full day sessions of creative activity? No, small increments of time and attention are equally valuable to conjure momentum.

Think of it as climbing a hill; its steep and you’re tired. If we stop moving our feet, our movement stops. The longer the pause, the more time it will take to get to the top. BUT! we will still be traveling, just not as quickly if we forced our way up. It is the consistency of stepping one foot, then the other, that will get us to the top.

What you see in your future

Life moves too fast sometimes. I know the change in years is a human-made event. Year-to year there isn’t a hard-line to cross. Instead, we all just flow from one minute to the next. I like having the timeline reminders. But, I don’t always like counting the numbers and seeing them add up.

To me changing the calendar allows me to reflect on what I’ve accomplished and visualize what’s to be. Last year at this time, I was excited about a few things that I had planned for the year. I knew I wanted to accomplish some things, but I had no idea how covid or anything else would impact those plans.

There definitely were some disappointments for me in 2021. But, in reviewing the year I reflect on the impact these disappointments had on me. In the end, am I OK? Am I safe? Are my family and friends OK? Are they safe? — My resounding answer is YES! We are all OK. Life is good!

Sitting here on the cusp of a new year, I’m looking forward. There are things I know will happen in 2022. Exciting things. Milestone things. Yet, there is also a lot of unknown. I’m ready to say goodbye to 2021. I’m open for some change, but I’m also cautiously optimistic for the future.

The next time I write here it will be 2022. A new calendar year splayed open before us. Full of opportunities. I’m ending this year wishing you find only happiness and good health on your journey. May you also be grateful for the past, find joy in the present, and be excited to see the future. Tell me what you see in your future?

What is in front

It’s a busy time of year, so many expectations. At the end of the year, you never want to be given “one more thing” to add to your list. But, I got one anyway…

Last week I received an email from the company I host my online classes. They have decided after 10 years in business it was time to close shop. It’s a disappointment for sure, but now what? I just started building online course this year. Because of Covid, it was a necessity for me to help keep income coming in during these trying times. Lots of people converted to virtual methods of working and staying connected. This past year, you probably participated in online learning, social meet-ups, or even participated in one my classes/lectures. I think the technology is a wonderful tool.

Since the announcement, I’ve been spending hours researching and trying to decide what next. I have other things on my agenda for the next 7weeks and don’t have time to learn/set up a new system. I decided, instead, to postpone any decision until I have time to act on it. It’s a disappointment (one of many from this past 20 months), but its OK!

What is the bright side? That’s where I want to go with this. Life is always handing us stuff we don’t expect or want. Have you ever faced a change where you expected the worst, then in hindsight realized it was an amazing opportunity that made you a better person? I know I have. Maybe these challenges are the universe offering an opportunity to change for the better? Are we ready? Yes! this is how I’m looking it.

This is an opportunity for me to check-in with what is behind me to see more clearly what is in front.