How Do You Want The World To See You?

Two months ago, someone asked me a question which has stuck with me.

How do you want the world to see you?

Now, I know from my experience as an artist and writer, I have zip for control over how someone perceives and responds to me and my creations, and I would not want such control.

Still, the question keeps popping into my thoughts.

How do I want to be seen?

I want to be seen as my truest self.  I want to be seen fully open-hearted, where love comes first in everything—what I feel and think, what I say and do, how I treat myself and how I treat the world.  Love as my first consideration.  Beginning there.  Choosing love in my connections, communications, actions, and reactions.

I don’t always manage to begin from love.  I get angry, tired, frustrated, impatient, sad, numb.  My open heart feels it all.  It needs to feel it all, that is its reason to be.  But then, reminding myself to choose love brings me back to a place where I can change how I feel.  It opens a space for me to shift the story I am telling myself, and make it different in this moment.

When I say to myself ‘choose love’, I am reminded I always have choice.  I can react, or I can pause and come back to my heart, recall who I am, and choose to create from love.

I’d much rather create from love.  Love allows me to be true to myself and what I want my life to be.

The question I began with, the question I was asked, isn’t the right question.

How do I want to see myself?  How do I want to see the world?  These are the questions.

I want to see myself, my life, and the world as a place that chooses love first.  Chooses compassion, kindness, and care.  Chooses connection, communication, gentleness, and patience.

A world that chooses to hold each other gently.

A me that chooses to hold myself gently.

This is how I want to see myself.  This is how I want to see the world.  This is how I want the world to see me.

All of us, choosing love first.

_________________

Image, Word, Emotion

‘Note to myself at 4 a.m.: I miss you’

For Christmas, my sister gave me a gift I’d hoped for, the book Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart.

I cocooned myself on the living room couch, and read the book slowly over two December afternoons.  I could have read it slowly in one, but I had to stop halfway.  I had to stop and let my feelings wash through me.  Wash through me and make enough room to experience the second half of Tom’s story.

Rosalie Lightning is a graphic memoir.  Tom and Leela’s young daughter Rosalie died suddenly and unexpectedly. Tom found a way through, drawing and writing.

You’d think this memoir is about grief.  You’d be wrong.

Tom, Leela, and Rosalie’s story is about love.  Immense, devastating, life-filled love.

Grief is always about love.  I have learned this over the past year, grieving and loving first my Dad and then my cousin.  Feeling both empty and far too full at the exact same time.  Frozen in place, and yet needing to run as desperately fast as I could, as if I could outrun pain.

You can’t outrun your heart.

My heart—love—is the only thing that can carry me through when nothing feels right.

Tom knows about heart and nothing feeling right.  His book tells something unimaginable, chaotic, stark, crushing.  And yet, at the same time, his images and words show a way of continuing to love when you don’t know how.

Emotion.  I try, but words cannot hold the whole of it, and images only suggest it.  Then I see them together, and there is magic.  Together they walk me into layers of feeling another person’s world, knowing beyond any doubt my world feels the same.  Word and image together reach into my heart and heal me.

Tom Hart, your name fits you perfectly.  Say it aloud.  Hart.  Heart.

Thank you for Rosalie’s story.

_________________

In this post:

Rosalie Lightning:  a graphic memoir by Tom Hart.  St. Martin’s Press, New York.  2015.  http://www.tomhart.net/  I also have his book The Art Of The Graphic Memoir which I am beginning to work through.  This book came out in November 2018, also published by St. Martin’s Press.

Wide and still

feb3.2014 006


Wide and still

I hold my heart.

Let spirit write her path in me.

Let love breathe her breath in me.

Let need call forth to serve in me.

Let grace be every step for me.

Let joy become the song in me.

Let connection open space for me.

Let creation be all play in me.

Let action be the choice for me.

Still and wide

I hold my heart.

Let all life find its home in me.


A joyous and blessed New Year to everyone.  Let love breathe her breath through all the world.

Creating Light

Go ahead. Risk it. Love yourself exactly as you are right now. I already see the beauty in you, and others do too.

Go ahead. Risk it. Create loads of joy in your life. When you think you’ve created things bright enough, don’t stop. Be the light for someone else, too.

This world needs all the light and love, joy, compassion, kindness, play, and peace we can be. Now there is a gift worth sharing.

Wishing you a light-filled Winter Solstice, and a loving and joyful Holiday Season.

Voice And Heart

‘Practice’   https://www.walkingowlstudio.ca/image/garudas_cheshire_cats_and_other_/practice

Find your voice.

I’ve heard these words a thousand times as an artist, beginning the moment I entered art school, and I’m hearing it a thousand thousand times more as a writer.

The artists and writers whose work inspires and teaches me have distinctive voices.  Show me a painting or read me a story by one of these people, and I will tell you who created it.  It’s their voice moving through the work, the unique combination of all the choices they made while painting or writing, that shows me.

But voice is more.

There is a part of voice not easy to define.  For me, it distills down to the feel of the work as a whole.  No, that’s not quite right.  It’s not the feel of the work.  It’s how I feel when I experience the work.

Voice isn’t voice.  It’s heart.

My voice is the heart of me, my truest self.  My voice is my heart expressed, visible, and shared.  Voice in my art and writing connects me to you, heart to heart.

Finding your voice is finding your heart.  It’s finding what you love and beginning there.  It’s finding what gives you joy when you create.

If a beginning artist or writer asked me for advice on finding their unique voice, I would tell them it already exists within them.  It is their heart, their truest self.

Create true to your heart and you have found your voice.

Don’t Let Anyone Call You Stupid

‘I Rode A River Of Words And Heard Wisdom (Bryan)’   https://www.walkingowlstudio.ca/gallery/dancing_the_ghosts/

Last night I watched one of my favourite Christmas shows, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

This morning I woke thinking how, as kids in school, we labelled each other.  Those labels did a lot of damage.  Unlike Rudolph, some of us were never able to rise above the words we were called.

I love words.  I love playing with words, putting them together and taking them apart.  I love crossword puzzles, word games, and Scrabble.  I love reading other people’s words and writing my own.

When I was thirteen years’ old and entering high school, my parents gave me a thesaurus.  I never dreamed such a treasure existed.  I read it cover to cover, like a novel.

My husband didn’t have a love affair with words.  For him, it was much the opposite.

He struggled with words. He couldn’t make the connections between sounding out a word and spelling it.  Spelling was a disaster for him.  He had to consciously, repeatedly memorize the sequence of letters for each word. Otherwise ‘celery’ came out ‘clegery’, and ‘chimney’ was ‘chibmny’.

He was told he was stupid, and he felt stupid.

I know the English language has weird and wonderful word spellings, but his struggle was beyond that.

By the time my husband reached high school, he’d struck a deal with a friend who was an ace speller. His friend struggled to come up with ideas for writing assignments.  My husband always had loads of ideas.  So he provided his friends with ideas, and his friend spell checked my husband’s essays. Win win.

My husband is not stupid.

His brain came equipped with a different pathway to understanding words, sounds, and spelling. He had to find his own way, and did, into learning how to spell.

It’s so easy to stick a label on someone, easier than taking the time to consider the whole of the person standing in front of you and finding an understanding.

No one is stupid.

I have twenty years of experience as an artist, but ask me to sculpt something and the result would have you seriously doubting I have any artistic ability at all.  I am a disaster at sculpture.

My brain doesn’t see and understand the way a sculptor needs to.  What my brain naturally sees and understands is drawing.  Give me paper and drawing materials, and I am a wizard.

I’ll say it once more.

No one is stupid.

This life is rich because of the uncountable paths we have for seeing and understanding.

I have a very old dictionary from Great Britain, a school discard dated 1954.  It contains a definition for ‘stupid’ I find interesting. The dictionary defines it as ‘wanting in understanding’.

This definition surely describes me trying to sculpt and my husband trying to spell.  We want to understand and are unable to.

There are other layers in this definition.  We all want and deserve help and understanding from others when we are struggling.  And for those who label others then walk away, describing the label-ers as having a ‘wanting of understanding’ works for me.

_________________

In this post:

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, animated stop-motion Christmas cartoon, first aired in December 1964, produced by Videocraft International Ltd. (later known as Rankin/Bass Productions).  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolph_the_Red-Nosed_Reindeer_(TV_special)

Creating Love In A Year Of Grief

‘Everything I Know About The Human Heart Part 2’     https://www.walkingowlstudio.ca/

I am searching for comfort today. Sitting in my sun-filled studio. Cuddled in my softest, warmest socks and shirt. Favourite Christmas music playing. Milky chai tea at my side. Mickey Mouse pencils and loose leaf paper on my studio work table.

Do something I love. Do something that helps me find my way. Write.

Three deaths in my family this past year, and now a fourth coming sometime in the next few days. An uncle, my Dad, and two cousins I grew up with. And then there are the continuous small deaths of my mother deep in Alzheimer’s.

I feel like someone has taken a knife and cut away my childhood.

These people were a loving presence all through my life. There are cherished experiences I shared with them. Now I am the only one who remembers.

Where do memories go when there is no one left to feel the story run through them?

I know I am far from the first or last to feel such grief, I know my entire family is suffering, but this knowing does little to ease how I hurt.

The only way out is through.

Today I will sit in the sun and drink tea, listen to music, and let the memories run through me. A way of loving my cousin and myself and the stories we created together in this life.

Giving, Receiving, Thanking

joydiary17.page28and29.2018It’s Thanksgiving today in the United States.  Family and friends, plus food.  My favourite kind of holiday.  My cup is filled and overflowing, and so is my heart.

The holiday has me thinking about my relationship with giving, receiving, and thanking.  These actions should be simple and easy.  Give.  Receive.  Thank.  Happy.  Done.

Yes, it’s simple and easy when I do it with my open heart.  And no, it’s not easy or simple when I do it from my head instead.

My head is amazing at logic and details, learning and organizing, but for me, too much thinking complicates things.  In thinking are beliefs and patterns of reaction, many running under my radar, creating expectations and judgments around myself, others, and the situation.  My head likes to be in control, ensuring I get what I want and don’t get what I don’t want.

This thinking is all about my personal comfort and little about the comfort of the person standing here in front of me.  My head worries only for me.  It doesn’t understand other people’s emotions, and truly it can’t understand.  It’s not made for that.  Emotions, mine and others’, are the job of my heart.

My heart has a different kind of wisdom.  It knows love, and it is only and wholly made of love.

My heart knows intimately how I feel, and when it reaches out, it feels how others feel as well.  Although the knowing-feeling is sometimes painful, I know this ability to connect is a miraculous gift.

Our hearts know love is a diamond.  Each facet holds emotions whose roots are love.  Kindness, care, compassion.  Generosity, forgiveness, understanding.  Appreciation, gratitude.  Sharing, giving, receiving, thanking.  Peace.  In every language, every word we have created which falls into love for self and other shines bright on this diamond.

Here today we celebrate three faces of love.  Let me give my heart to you, let me receive your heart, and let me say thank you with heart full and brimming over.

Happy Thanksgiving!  May your day be loving, joyful, and fulfilling.

____________________

I dreamed.

I was water

Cupped in your hands

Running down your arms

Pooled in your heart

Flooded

Overwhelmed

Tears washing your feet

Returned to the earth

Fulfilled.