Category: Spirituality

Not to give up

The day the world changed.

My creative inspiration has been a little lacking lately. I can’t tell you the last time I powered up my sewing machine. Luckily, I always have meditative hand-stitching and knitting to work on.

The world seems heavy some days, but I’ve been collecting ideas. I’m starting to create again.

As a creative, I think it’s ok to expect times like this. Some days you need to collect ideas and process what you’re feeling. We need to ask ourselves, do I interpret what I’m thinking into art or go for a walk?

As a young person, I was never very athletic. No one encouraged that in me. I was always the last to be picked when teams were selected in gym class. However, I always had my art and my creativity was my asset.

Last month I took this photo on top of Hogback Mountain, MI. We hiked to the summit, a steep 1.5 mile walk up with a 564 foot elevation gain. As we neared the summit, I almost gave up because I didn’t realize how close we were to the top. Just a few more steps and we were above the trees. I had to conquer my age old fear of falling, but I made it. There in the horizon stretched “gichi-gami” (Gitche-Gummee), aka Lake Superior. I made it. However, later that day I heard news that rocked my core beliefs. Now, it has me questioning everything.

I’m home now and sifting through my photos, trying to decide what I’ll create next. I can look at this image and see many things. This day hike reminds me so much of my lifelong journey.  I see the luck I’ve had with my health and my determination to stay strong. I see beauty in nature which inspires my creativity and peace that comes from walking among the trees. There’s also a determination to fight for what I believe in and my stubbornness not to give up.

Spiritual journey

Last night, I was notified that my quilt, “Goldfinch in My Garden” has sold. Great!! news! Since then, I’ve been overtaken by a flood of memories and want to share them with you.

I made this quilt in 2019 and haven’t seen it since early 2020 when I shipped it to Virginia to be part of the Sacred Threads Backyard Escapes traveling exhibit. It is always an honor to have your art selected for an exhibit. I knew it would end it’s journey this year and I knew it was for sale. However, sometimes with special pieces you send them off and hope they come home.

I took the inspiration photo during a trip in 2019. I traveled a lot in 2019, which was something I didn’t do much of in years prior. I was full of energy and hope, enjoying life. Once in Virginia, it was selected to travel to a quilt festival in California. I was super stoked about that opportunity! I felt like I was on a roll. Then, something happened … uhm, … covid. Need I say more? The tour dates for this exhibit were put on serious hold while the world scrambled to deal with a pandemic.

Later in the year, I and several other Backyard Escapes artists were commissioned to re-create our quilts for a permanent installation at Inova Schar Cancer Center in Virginia. Super exciting news and such an honor! So, I made the quilt again, this time square and titled it “Contemplation.”

Now, as the Backyard Escapes tour ends, it will hang one last time during the Sacred Threads exhibit in Herndon, Virginia. All remaining unsold quilts are currently on sale through their website (view the sale page here). 25% of the sale going to Schar Cancer Center fund for Arts and Healing. As part of the Sacred Threads exhibit, my red shouldered hawk quilt “The Messenger” will be hanging nearby. If you’re in the area and want to treat yourself to some art therapy, please visit this dual exhibit. It holds such meaning for me and all the other’s artists participating. I hope you find similar meaning in your own artistic practice:

Sacred Threads is an exhibition of quilts exploring themes of joy, inspiration, spirituality, healing, grief and peace/brotherhood. This biennial exhibition was established to provide a safe venue for quilters who see their work as a connection to the sacred and/or as an expression of their spiritual journey.


Sacred Theads  14-24, 2022.
Floris United Methodist Church: 13600 Frying Pan Road, Herndon, VA 20171
Hours for the exhibit:
Mondays – Saturdays: 10am – 5pm
Sundays: 1pm – 4pm

 

Magic to enjoy

I’m currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic.” I love reading these creative self-help books because it reminds me to let go. As you may know, I’m a long time, self-proclaimed, recovering perfectionist. There was a time when my perfectionistic behavior stopped me from doing. I even gave up quilting once, because “she” sat on my shoulder too long, nagging me. She’s still there sometimes, swinging her feet enjoying the view. I try not to let her get to me, but I sometimes I still hear her.

So I found it interesting to read Gilbert’s chapter called “Fear in High Heels.” Ouch, this struck close to the nerve. She writes that perfectionism is just fear. So very spot on. I have had these nagging dialogs in my head:

“what will they think?”
“what if I do it wrong?”
“what if I make a typo?”
“what if they don’t like it?”
“what if my stitches are crooked?”…what if, what if…
Rinse and repeat. Yah, stop, … so what!

I know, some days, easier said than done. Why didn’t I realize this was fear talking? When these thoughts start swirling around the drain or I edit my written words for the 500th time (note: I’ve been doing a lot of this the last couple weeks), there’s really just a little kid inside who fears going to the principle’s office. What she really should be doing is sitting there swinging her feet with a big grin, enjoying the magic that’s happening around her. There really is so much magic to enjoy.

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.

 

 

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.

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?

Just follow your heart

“I wish I were creative like you!”

Have you ever said that? I wonder what makes someone think they’re not creative?  What is creativity anyway? I know, I’m full of questions today, aren’t I? But if you ever said that, I just want you to know I’ve been thinking about you.

There’s a who lot of self-doubt piled into that statement. I know, because I’ve been there. This statement often hangs out with it’s good friend, “I could never be that good.” So, what does it mean to be good enough? When we say these statements, it generally means we crave to have those desired talents. Or maybe, we’re disappointed we don’t.

We are all so very unique. We have different skills and different life experiences. I think about these statements and wonder when a person decides that these are truths. Somewhere in their life, someone shut them down. The aftermath was an internal belief that they should give up trying.

“Why bother? I’ll never be as talented as you.”

Stop for a minute. Is this really true? Offer a little kid a creative project and they’ll usually dive in. Well, sometimes they might rather play their video game, but they never say, “nah…it’s OK I’m not good enough!” Hmmm? Once upon a time, we were that free-spirited child. When did we lose that spirit and willingness to try? No one is born with self-doubt.

Sure, maybe we might be better at some tasks than others. But, as the saying goes, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” If it doesn’t feel right, try something different. There are so many creative things in this world; music, literature, performing arts, visual arts, culinary arts, etc. I say, if you wish to be creative, then be it. How? It’s simply, just follow your heart.