Permission To Shine

I Walked Land Where Sky Became My Shelter (Hermann)
I Walked Land Where Sky Became My Shelter (Hermann)

I’m in a store last Friday, standing in the cashier’s line. The place is busy and people are chatting as they wait. I’m not paying much attention to the hum. Then I hear someone close by me say something.

The nail that sticks out gets hammered.

Ouch. I’ve heard this saying before. It’s a warning. Don’t be different, don’t stand out, the words say. Stay small and quiet, in the crowd of everyone else who is staying small and quiet.

Fear. Be afraid. Hide, or you will get hurt.

Someone else’s saying. Not mine. Not any more.

I say, Be Love. Let Myself Shine.

I want to know all of the unique, loving being that is me. I want to surprise myself with the beauty I can create. If I hide I will never know these things.

Every day I give myself permission to be love, to let myself shine. Some days I’m not so shiny. I wake up afraid that who I am and what I create is not good enough to share, not good enough to exist in any visible way. I want to hide, fearful that I will be that nail that gets hammered down.

I don’t hide. Instead, I get out of bed and go into my studio. I sit down at my work table, and look around at all I have created. I let myself see and feel what I have brought into my life and then shared with the world. I touch all the things I’m in the midst of creating. I feel how much I love this process. How love becomes joy in the linking of marks to become shape, in the forming of words and sentences to become thought visible on the page.

The fear I feel vanishes in the face of all this love.

I am learning to do this, bit by bit, day by day. I am learning to give myself permission to feel love rather than fear, even when the world is telling me be afraid, don’t stick out.

I give myself permission. I choose.

Be Love. Let Myself Shine.

_____________________________

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the US!  Your friendship is such a gift!  xo

Love Love Love

Coyote Sings to a Broken World
Coyote Sings to a Broken World

Two days ago a friend on Facebook asked a question.

How do I stay in love when my open heart knows another’s anguish, and I can’t help but feel it with them?

I know my friend three years now, through her words and photos. Her heart is big. Her love goes deep. Other people’s wounds feel like her own. She is working on healing the whole world.

I understand her. I feel the same. I want to choose love over fear, care and compassion over hate.

I do the one thing I can do. The biggest thing I can do. What His Holiness the Dalai Lama talks of—internal disarmament.

I keep opening my heart. I keep choosing love, again and again and again. I let my love free. Smile. Say hello. Be open. Be kind. To those I meet, whether I know them or not. Whether their outer appearance and manner scares some part of me or not. See them. They have a heart that wants to feel love too.

Do I sound like a Pollyanna? A simpleton?

Things are much more complicated than that, people say to me. You can’t expect to change the world, they say.

I hear you. But I have to start somewhere.

I am being the hummingbird in Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’ story. Drop by drop I lay water on the fire. I do what I can.

Let us all do what we can.

 

*    *   *   *   *

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.

_____________________________________

In this post:

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, with Wangari Maathai and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, book Flight of the Hummingbird, Greystone Books, 2008. Michael’s website – http://mny.ca – has an animated video of this story. Look under ‘Press’, then ‘Video’.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama – www.dalailama.com

Wangari Maathai – http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/wangari-maathai

Natalie says, Go!

 

Upsidedown Heart (sketchbook June 2013)
Upsidedown Heart (sketchbook June 2013)

I have read all of Natalie Goldberg’s books, several times over. Underlined and highlighted and written in the margins and inside the covers. Sometimes I listen to her audio books while I work in my studio at my easel. Do writing practice, just for fun, to see what appears. Do writing practice, with purpose, my way of getting first drafts down onto the page with my wild words intact.

I love Natalie. She is all about writing and creating, attitude and determination. I’ve read and listened so often, I now have a Natalie voice inside me. She urges me on as I create words and images. Keep your hand moving, I hear, ten minutes, go! And I do.

My Natalie voice is busy today, and here is the result:

Natalie says, six lines, go!

November, 2:03pm, snow, and wind through my window.

My toes are cold.

Hammering next door

and a saw humming two doors farther.

My solar power Japanese lucky cat waves her paw at me.

What to do with the rest of my life.

 

Natalie says, six lines, go!

Thursday afternoon. Snow and cloud.

This summer’s crows calling, feed me mama.

I understand that.

My pen is fat in my fingers, awkward.

I love it anyhow for its four colours of ink.

No place to go where I am not me.

 

Natalie says, ten lines, go!

There’s a space in me where joy moves in and out like the tide.

It tastes of salt and honey

sounds like wind and voice

touches hot and cold like water

looks like deep winter stars

smells of warm slow cedars.

It puddles round my feet.

My heels sink into its softness.

This is who I am.

Nothing left of me to call me.

_____________________________________

In this post:

Natalie Goldberg   http://nataliegoldberg.com

My favourite Natalie books—Writing Down the Bones, Living Color, and Thunder and Lightning

Beautiful Lady

Old Coyote Trick (standing out) - detail
Old Coyote Trick (standing out) – detail

We share a home with another couple. Upstairs downstairs. We’re the downstairs pair.

The upstairs pair headed out yesterday. Holidays. We’re caring for their place while they’re gone and, more important, caring for Lady.

Lady is a rescue dog. A beauty, both inside and outside. All black but for a medallion of white at her heart, and white at her chin and nose. Age marking her. Her head reaches above my hip when she leans against me, hoping for treats.

We are part of Lady’s pack. She loves nothing better than when all her pack is together, talking, laughing. She goes from one of us to the next, collecting maximum head and back and belly rubs. She, a lady of venerable age, becomes all puppy when this happens. Dancing on our toes, thumping against our legs. Tongue hanging out in sloppy dog laughter. Love and perfect joy.

Our upstairs friends are the alphas of Lady’s pack. Her true loves. Her rescuers. Lady pines for them when they are away.

She lets us distract her with our love, attention, treats, walks, and rubs. And then she goes back to the front deck, or the upstairs door, or the end of the grass by the road. Watching. Waiting.

I watch her from our front window. Lady at her vigil. My heart is heavy for her. I know that vigil and that aloneness. I would take away her pain, if I could.

I can’t.

They’ll be back soon, I tell her.

I rub her head, her soft chest, her back and belly. Give her two treats. Give her my heart. Watch her walk back to the end of the grass and sit down.

Beautiful Lady, they’ll be back soon. I promise.