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.

Making Stuff With Friends, or, One Plus One Plus One Equals Cookie

banners.DancingTheGhosts.small300ppiYesterday I was with friends, beginning a new group art project.  We are each filling a sketchbook for the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project 2019.

The time spent was perfect fun, relaxing, inspiring, and energizing.

Mostly I work and play alone in my studio, and I choose this.  I need and love my quiet alone time, in order to see and hear the ideas coming through, in order to draw and write.  I also need and love time with friends and fellow creators.

Here is what I love about creating with my friends.

The conversation and ideas and actions that flow are always unexpected.  We don’t create in a straight line.  Instead, our ideas are starbursts.  One of us offers a comment or question, and off we go in every direction.

We are not one plus one plus one equals three, although we can be, and have been, if needed.  No, we are one plus one plus one equals cookie.

Laughter is frequent, as is opening our hearts and learning the shape of our souls.

What always fascinates me is this.  We begin at the exact same point, but the flow from each of us is unique in theme and look and final destination.  It does not matter that we all hear the same conversation, begin with similar art materials, play together in the same room.

It is our individual histories and life experiences, our separate needs and wants and focus that shape the vision each of us sees.  This is what sparks the curiosity that arises to follow a specific path in creating.  This is also what creates such fertile ground when we are together.

Together we are a garden, wild and joyful with growth, weeds fully included.  Watered with tea (double chai yesterday) and lattes, nourished by sandwiches and soup and goodies.  Held close in the sunny heat of friendship and shared creativity.

Nothing better than one plus one plus one equals cookie.

__________________________________

In this post:

The Brooklyn Art Library.   https://www.brooklynartlibrary.com/

A Change Of Season

5crowssilver.600ppi
Five Crows Silver, Six Crows Gold

Yesterday my husband and I drove to our northern home.  Today I sit at my other studio work table, in front of a view that includes aspens and pines.  There are thunderclouds low over the hills.  I am north again, and will be until next March.

I am the opposite of the migrating birds I see in the sky.  They are leaving for the warm hug of weather in the south.  I want the cold, snowy Winter.  I want the clear, crisp air and the crackle of frost and ice under my boots.

I want to smell snow coming, and witness the first snowflakes fall from a heavy, grey sky.  I want to feel them melt on my cheek, so gentle a touch, present and gone in the same instant.  The first snow is always fleeting, Winter hesitant, touching the farthest edge of Fall.

I love the change of seasons.  I love feeling with all of my body the movement of time.  I love how each season stands forward in its fullness, then moves back a step at a time as the next season comes forward.  A dance, step and step, forward and back, each season partnering the ones before and after.

I know I am a Summer Girl.  It’s true.  I love Summer best.  Warm sun and cool shade, iced tea with lemon, long slow evenings and a bright moon.  Something in me saddens at leaving Summer behind.

Yet that same something is anticipating with joy the touch of those first ephemeral snowflakes.

All seasons are sweet to me because of the change, each season precious because of its particular joys.

The seasons dance around me, dance within me.  I would have it no other way.

 

The Learning By Doing Writing School

joydiary05.page4and5.2018I am a person who learns best by doing. I can be told something, but I don’t fully understand until I get my hands right into it.

I am in the long process of learning to be a writer.  These days I alternate between writing, rewriting, and reading.

Reading other people’s words inspires me, whether it’s a how-to post or article, a nonfiction book, or a novel. Something in their work connects with and triggers the writer in me.

It seems I can no longer be only a reader when I read. There’s the writer-me in the background constantly taking notes. I have to read with a pencil and sketchbook close at hand to catch the flashes of insight into my project.

I know this happens to other writers. I thought it would interfere with my enjoyment of reading a novel by a favourite writer, would prevent me from relaxing into the story.

Surprise. It adds to my pleasure. As always, I move deep into the story I’m reading, but now I also move into the background process of the words and how they are building the flow of the story. I am not only learning by writing, I am learning by reading. Every book is a teacher for me.

In art school, I learned that the artwork I didn’t like taught me as much as the artwork I enjoyed. Both what I loved and didn’t love showed me who I was as an artist.

It’s exactly the same now, as I learn to be a writer. What I love and don’t love in other people’s words and stories helps me define what I wish to write and how I wish to write it.

I have as many teachers as there are books on shelves. How amazing to be a do-it-yourself student in the biggest learning-by-doing university in the world.

Thank you, all of you who write and share your words, and teach me by doing so.

Pleasures Of The Day

Coyote Calls to the Protectors-detailIt’s the Summer Solstice.  My husband calls this the lightest day.  (The Winter Solstice is, of course, the darkest day.)

We have sun and the bluest sky.  There’s a breeze running through the house, in and out the open windows, playing tag with itself.  It’s carrying the scents of cedars and maples, warm from the sun.  There is the dusty, sweet smell of arbutus leaves, and the perfect scent of wild roses blooming next to the studio window.

The house is quiet at the moment, only George Winston’s Forest album playing on my Ipod.

I am at my studio work table, writing.  Iced coffee at my side, in a decades-old McDonald’s “Good Morning” mug.  Another mug next to it, half full of cold water from our well.

This is Heaven.

My days are made of Heaven moments, when I remember to become present to my life and notice what is here.

These moments remind me of my Dad.  We began going for walks together when I was three and he was thirty-three.

Our walks were slow, not only because of my toddler legs.  We were slow because we were busy noticing beauty, pleasure, and joy, noticing the day we had around us.

Stop and notice the perfect, round, grey stone at our feet.  Notice the feel of the wind pushing against our bodies, and the sound it makes as it moves through the branches of the fir trees.  See the clouds scraping the tops of the hills, leaving tatters of white behind.  Notice the hot, earth smell of the dust clouds raised as we step, and the sound of crows we cannot see, squabbling over something they both desire.

This is beauty, pleasure, joy, receiving the gifts the day offers me.

Yesterday I didn’t do so well at noticing.  Now I am making up for it, deliberately moving slowly, feeling one by one the pleasures of today.

When I allow it to be, this is Heaven.

_______________________

In this post,

George Winston, music Forest.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Winston

Writing Like Breathing

rainbow.flowers 017There are times when I write, and it feels like breathing.  This is one of them.

Like breath.  Essential, easy, effortless.  A flow that is so simple and natural I have no conscious awareness of activity and my involvement in it.  No awareness of time or place passing.

In these moments, I am.  It is that simple.  Two words, I am.  I feel no boundary between me and all around me.  I am.  We are.

This is pure pleasure, when writing is like breathing.  Writing for the pleasure of hearing thoughts pass through, for the pleasure of feeling my hand roll and loop and form words on a page.  Writing because here in this moment all is perfect.

When writing is like breathing, all is whole.  Nowhere is anything broken or chipped away.  I feel settled, at peace in mind and body, content in heart and spirit.

When writing is like breathing, I am blessed.  Writing this way, when it happens, is pure gift.  I am my truest self.  A feeling through every cell in my body, I am.  I am love, I am joy, I am breath.

When writing is like breathing, I am my river voice, flow and music.  I am life writing life.

I am.

The Question Is The Answer

blogpost.mar1.2018

“She would not struggle to answer the questions but would let them do their work.

Truth walks toward us on the paths of our questions.”

Yesterday I began reading a book recommended by a friend who is artist and writer.  Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear, is the first novel of a detective series.  The quote is from the closing lines of Chapter Four.

There are no coincidences in life.  Each morning for the past three weeks I ask myself, “What gives me joy?”, and then let the question do its work.  I sit down at my studio work table.  I open my sketchbook to a blank page, and choose a pencil from the collection in the cup beside me.  I let my heart and mind become still.  And then I wait.

The reply is never long in coming.  Yesterday, joy is the piece of lapis lazuli that sits among other beloved stones on the table before me.  Today, joy is the bits of rainbow scattered around the studio walls, a gift of sunlight through the large raindrop-shaped crystal hanging in the window.

Joy is noticing joy, and learning over again how moments of joy are always scattered through my days like this morning’s rainbows, if only I stop and let myself notice.

Let myself see beauty.  Let myself feel joy.

There is a choice here of stopping, noticing, and allowing this to be in my life.  Noticing joy and beauty are vital to my writing and drawing.  I would be neither writer nor artist if I did not choose this every day.

Passion is my guide to creation.  Joy and beauty inspire me to see and feel, and then to ask, “What can I create from this?  How can I mirror this feeling in word and image?”

The questions are the answer.  They push me to seek, to feel my way into creating.  As I create, does this feel like joy?  Does this feel like beauty to me?  The answer is not in words.  The answer is in my feelings.

“Truth walks toward us on the paths of our questions.”

The truth of what I ask and feel shows up in what I create.  The questions are simple.

What gives me joy?

What do I love?

What is beautiful to my eyes?

What is inspiring me today?

The writing or drawing, while I follow the path of my question, may not be simple but it is always my truth.

What gives me joy today?  The rainbows on my studio walls.  What is inspiring me today?  Jacqueline Winspear’s words that sparked this understanding and this post in reply.

Thank you, Jacqueline.  And thanks, Kate, for the recommendation.

_______________________

In this post:

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear, Penguin Books, 2004.  A detective novel with heart.  The quote is from page 32.  http://jacquelinewinspear.com/

In the photo, above, is yesterday’s drawing for The Sketchbook Project 2018, Brooklyn Art Library.  https://www.sketchbookproject.com/libraries

Threads of Joy (Upsy-Daisy Part Two)

letmemendheart
Let Me Mend Your Broken Heart

I learned to sew in High School, Grade Eight.

The first thing I learned was the basting stitch, an easy up and down of needle and thread through two layers of sky blue gingham cloth that would eventually become an apron.

The basting stitch was simple.  All it required was attention to keeping the stitches balanced in length so the layers of cloth held firmly to each other.  The thread I used was a vivid red, deliberate contrast to the colour of the gingham.  It was easy to see what had already been stitched, and what now needed my needle, thread, and attentive eyes.

I am thinking of my Dad, and how he taught me to find threads of joy and use them to stitch my days together.

It was my heart and all my senses he taught me to use, rather than needle and thread.

Every day, as I grew up, I stitched firm the colours of morning clouds and wild sunsets.

Every summer I stitched the feel of my bare feet on wet sand as the tide went out.  I stitched the smell of thick earth under the trees when August afternoons were hottest and I found the deepest shade.

I stitched into my life the smooth, cold taste of chocolate ice cream for dessert after supper.  Two round scoops each for me and my sister, one scoop for our brother who was much younger than us and still sat in the high chair next to Mom.

Every night I stitched the quiet sounds of my Mom and Dad talking in the kitchen after we three were in bed, stories read, blankets and teddy bears tucked around us, kisses on our cheeks.

Here in my life now, I stitch each day together against the grey grief that threatens to pull me apart.  I stitch, with careful attention, the threads of joy my Dad taught me to find and choose.  Vivid colours, lengths of joy and love sewn to balance sadness, to hold me firm.