Busy Being Still

I’m packing the last of my northern studio, readying to move south for the last time.  I am about to have a single creation space, something I have not experienced for fifteen years.

The joy is bubbling in me.  I want this.  But I have a question for myself.  Will I be able to sit still in one place?

I was a child who exploded with energy, curiosity, mess, and noise.  I have a million memories of being told to sit still, stop wiggling, stop making so much noise, be quiet, clean up the mess, put that away, don’t touch that.  And on and on.  I am not surprised my Mom, like me, napped every afternoon.  I wore both of us out.

Eventually, I learned to become someone who appears quiet and peaceful.  The word ‘appears’ is a clue.

I’m not actually sitting still.

Under the surface, my mind and heart are constantly, busily, happily engrossed creating the next drawing and the next piece of writing. Inspiring myself with other artists’ work, and how exactly did they create that colour and that effect. Being curious about the book I’m reading, and how did the writer get me to assume this and feel that. Can I do these things, too?  Wondering, experimenting, learning.  I love this activity.  I am alive here.  This is my me-ist me.

Here’s the paradox.

Under the energy, mess, and noise, my heart and mind are in stillness.

My creativity is rooted in stillness, the deepest internal pool of quiet.  Infinity is here.  Forever is here.  All possibility lives here.  My ideas rise from this place, rise from peace to become energy and activity.

It fascinates me that my creativity requires these seeming opposites.

One of my art professors regularly talked of getting to know and use paradox and the awkward in the work.  I know he didn’t mean the kind of paradox I experience every day, but his words stick in my memory, a reminder to be comfortable with all that surfaces when I draw and write.

Embrace it all, the mess and noise, the stillness and quiet.  Opposites creating wholeness.

Being told to be still wasn’t wrong after all.

And maybe a single welcoming, perfect, light-filled studio is exactly what I need. 

When Nothing Makes Me Feel Better

The last few weeks have been a slow roller coaster.  My moods have traveled up and down, and longer in the downs.  This week I’ve settled, a blessed relief.

I could list the reasons, but it’s easier to simply list ‘life’.

I am exactly like my son when he was five years old.

It was a tough day at school (kindergarten is not always easy), and he came home angry.  He didn’t want to talk, and he bashed his way around the house until I became angry too.  Better we separate when we’re both angry.  I told him to go to his room. I stayed in the kitchen.

I listened as he stomped away, as his door slammed, as the noise and activity level in his bedroom peaked, then quieted.

After a few minutes, concern and curiosity led me down the hallway.  I knocked on his door, then opened it.

He looked at me, mourning written all over him.  “Mom, I’ve tried everything and nothing makes me feel better.”

The evidence of his effort lay all around him, on the floor and the bed.  Toys, Lego pieces, stuffed animals, his favourite blanket.  He had tried so hard.  My upset dissolved in an instant.

Love is what I gave my precious son that day, and received love back.  We sat on his bed and hugged, held hands, talked about nothing important.  We had all the time in the world.

I’ve tried and nothing makes me feel better–I know that place.

Luckily, I am now old enough I’ve learned what to do.

I don’t push the feelings away.  I don’t try to make myself better.  I’m upset for a reason and my feelings are broadcasting what and why.  I need to feel and listen, so I do.  I put on music, or let the house be silent , wrap myself in my favourite blanket, cocoon myself on the couch, become still.  An hour or a day, I feel and listen.  I treat myself gently, a precious being broken and hurting and needing love.

Love is what I give myself when I am hurting and needing.  Love and all the time in the world.  Love fills the cracks and mends the breaks.  Love tells me I am something precious, and makes me whole again.

My son doesn’t remember that day, but I do always.  He gave me the most perfect gift of feeling and understanding what keeps us whole.  Love.  Love.  Love.  Love.

________________

In this post:

I didn’t always know how to love myself.  I still forget sometimes, but each time the gap is smaller.  Dee Wallace’s Red Dot Exercise is one of the things that helped me learn what unconditional self-love feels like. 

My experience doing the Red Dot Exercise is here on my blog, postings from December 23 and 24, 2014:

Dee’s website is at https://iamdeewallace.com/

Lost For Words

My imagination, like my breath, is an autonomic function.  It runs without any obvious help from the rest of me.

My imagination is a welcome partner through my day.  It keeps me interested, alert, curious, playful, connected.  Like my breathing, it keeps me alive.

Right now, though, it is working on hibernating.  Slow and lost for words.  Not the ideal situation when I am into my write-a-blog-post day.

In a way, the lost-for-words makes sense.  Today is Valentine’s Day, and isn’t this day more about heart and feeling than words?  You can argue that the words evoke the feeling, but for a writer the feeling comes first, then the words to express.

I am still lost for what to express in my post.

I do know what I am feeling. It’s love.

Well then, let these be my words, coloured true by my heart.

I love that you are reading this.  I love, and am honoured, that you have given me a few minutes of your day and your life.  Your connection here is a gift, and my heart feels it.  I am made larger through your connection, and I thank you.

May your day be blessed.  May someone you love, love you back freely, unconditionally, and abundantly.  May joy surprise you many times today.  May hugs surprise you.  

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Let your heart light shine.

Surrounded By Family

How Far Can I See?

I had a favourite climbing tree when I was growing up.  It was a West Coast hemlock, three times the height of our house and brilliant with branches perfectly spaced for my reach.  I stretched for the first branch at the base, but from there up it was a ladder, easy and welcoming.

How high can I climb?  How far can I see?

I didn’t ask myself these questions, but I could feel them in my body.  The feeling pushed me, made reaching for each next branch as natural as walking.

There was a natural stopping point, too, about three-quarters up, a set of branches grown for sitting.  Here, this exact spot, I’d have nested if I’d been a bird.  Lived my life in the sky.

Here I always sat and hugged my tree with one arm. I rubbed the flat needles between my fingers and smelled their green perfume. I felt the wind push us gently back and forth, and I watched the clouds.

My climbing tree was a different world, and here I was a different person.  The worries and anxieties (there were many) that nailed me to the earth vanished.  I looked out and saw all the world.  I saw possibilities.  From my nest in the tree I saw myself in forever, and I knew who I was.

No one except my tree and the wind knew I was there.  No one saw me when I left the earth.  I made sure of it.  And no one saw me return.

Freedom was my secret.

My climbing tree has come back to me as I work on my book.  The feeling of the questions that loosed me and pushed me into a forever world has returned.

I look at what I have created so far, and I feel the push. I feel the reach, as natural as walking, for the next branch.

How high can I climb?  How far can I see?

Possibilities.

This feeling is joy.  The memory of my climbing tree pulls up the nails that hold me to the ground.  Nails etched with ‘too hard’, ‘be afraid’, and ‘wrong’ are no more than thin smoke as my feet leave the earth.

I see the whole of my book from up here.  I know this view and I know myself, here, in my climbing tree.

I’ve made a note, to post above my studio table where I write.

All the note says is ‘my climbing tree’.  Enough to remind me.  Close my eyes, become still, feel my hands and feet on the branches, smell the green needles, feel the wind rock me, know who I am and the world I see.  Now open my eyes and write from here.