Falling Down, Getting Up, Part 2

tigger.totoro.crop
Totoro and Tigger–Go Play!

So, what happened after my tantrum last Thursday?

The tantrum continued. Friday. Saturday. Sunday. Monday. Then, Monday afternoon, for no apparent reason, it faded away.

I can feel echoes of it today. A ghost in the background. My desire to write and create is stronger. I sit down at my studio table and begin. The ghost vanishes. Gone.

As I write these words, I have not figured out what pushed me into this cranky, unwilling mood last week, or why it hung on through Monday. My mind longs to have this figured out so it can prevent it from happening again. My mind has judged this full-on-tantrum mode as something bad. Especially since I felt really uncomfortable when I was in the middle of it.

My mind is doing its job, trying to understand so it can protect me from what hurts.

Except, I need to feel everything, even when it feels bad. My heart knows that feelings are information. They might be painful, but they are not bad. The feelings tell me something if I pay attention, open my heart, and listen.

I need to do this right now. Ask about last week, listen with my heart. What do I hear?

I am trying to push the river.

That might sound odd, but I know exactly what it means.

I’ve been stepping outside of my natural flow. I’ve been pushing myself too hard, and not playing enough.

Ah. I get it.

I played on Saturday. I read. Did crossword puzzles. Coloured with all fifty of my Crayola felt pens. Watched a 1940’s pirate movie with my husband.

I played on Sunday too. In between three laundry loads and making dinner, I watched the movie Mary Poppins. How many times have I seen this movie? A dozen, at least. It makes me laugh. I love the songs. I love the idea that I can jump into a drawing and wander around the landscape, meet whoever lives there. I love the idea that if I laugh hard enough, I’ll float up to the ceiling, turn somersaults in the air if I wish.

Play. Imagination. Laughter.

Magic, all.

I pushed myself, pushed the river so hard, that I left play and imagination and laughter behind. Left my magic behind.

Bad idea.

Which resulted in the five day tantrum. Resistant. Unwilling. Grouchy.

I played on Saturday and Sunday, despite the tantrum.  Good idea.  Which resulted in the tantrum fading away on Monday.

Thank you, my heart, for feeling and talking with me. Thank you, tantrum, for yelling at me to stop and notice what is happening. Thank you, my mind, for trying to understand and protect me from what felt painful.

I have my magic back. It never really left me. It just felt like it, because I had forgotten to play.

_______________________

In this post:

Mary Poppins, movie, Walt Disney Productions, 1964, based on the book of the same name by P. L. Travers   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Poppins_(film)

Falling Down, Getting Up

I dreamed for my children.detail

I’m in resistance mode today. Unwilling. Grouchy. I am a two-year-old in tantrum. Don’t wanna.

What don’t I want to do? Anything that my mind decides feels like work, like writing this blog post, paying the bills due today, doing up the grocery list for tomorrow’s shopping. Don’t wanna, my mind keeps saying.

What do I want to do? Lay on the couch and read all afternoon. I am on page 221 of The Peripheral by William Gibson. Bought it during Christmas holidays and started reading it this week. Yes, it’s GOOD, and that’s why I want to read all afternoon. Find out what happens next—the hallmark of a well-written book. Thank you for sharing this, William.

So what am I going to do about all this ‘don’t wanna’?

I am bribing myself. I have a big mug of cocoa at my side, one of my last candy canes melted into it. I have music on, a combination of melody and the sound of ocean waves running against a rocky beach. I have my Minions standing guard atop the unruly pile of papers on my work table. Kevin with his banana and black English bowler hat. Stuart in his blue vampire cape, showing off his spikey teeth. They make me laugh. And they are cheering me on.

Bribery and a cheering section. This works.

So I sit myself at my studio work table. Pick up my purple BIC pen. Lay in front of me a stack of loose leaf paper. I have a blog post to create. What do I write?

I start here, where I am. Unwilling. Crabby. Bad mood. Resisting everything. And I write exactly this. How I feel. Struggling to not struggle.

I learned this from both Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron. Begin where I am. Become present to my life just as it is in this moment, bad mood and all, says Natalie.

Accept it, and write anyways. Place my tantrum on the page, put the drama where it belongs, says Julia.

The page accepts everything. Holds it for me so I don’t have to. Tells me it is alright and I am alright. The mood I am in will shift and change and fade to something else. Let it. I know it fades quicker when I let myself create.

Am I feeling better? Yes. Is the ‘don’t wanna’ still hanging around? Yes, but not as loud. I’ll get through and past this tantrum.

Sitting here writing, I suddenly know why I am grouchy. Yesterday I wrote for four-plus hours, material for a creativity course I am teaching in the Fall. Felt awesome while I was deep in creation. Excited, inspired, energized. Ideas and words flowing. Unstoppable.

And now today, the water level in my creative well is low. Almost drained. I need to refill it. Julia taught me to understand this, too.

I know what to do. Play. Lay on the couch and read William’s book. Do a crossword puzzle or two with my pink BIC pen. Colour in my new colouring book with my set of fifty Crayola felt pens scattered across the table top. Watch one of the animated movies I have collected, and laugh. Marvel at the collective imagination of those who created the movie characters and the story. Laugh more.

And then love myself. Love and celebrate what I created yesterday. Love and celebrate what I create today. Just love myself, resistance and bad mood and writer and artist and all.

I am who I am in each moment. Love this, and allow, and accept. Create from exactly where I am, especially if it requires some bribery to get to the studio and pick up my pen.

Love my unwillingness. It gives me a place to begin today. It gives me a blog post to write and share. It reminds me to love myself, whatever is happening.

Just love myself.

________________________________

In this post:

The Peripheral by William Gibson, Berkley Books, NY, 2015, www.williamgibsonbooks.com/

Natalie Goldberg, http://nataliegoldberg.com/

Julia Cameron, http://juliacameronlive.com/

Voice

Coyote Calls to the Protectors (war dress)
Coyote Calls to the Protectors (war dress)

This is my voice–imagination, experience, emotion, and action becoming colour and mark and word. Energy into tangible object. Magic.

I am here before you, offering my heart, spirit, mind, and body as one, shaped into the marks on this page, paper, screen. Touch my drawing, touch my writing, and you touch me.

Here is the process of my seeing, the tracing of my thoughts. A conversation begun and passed to you. Here is my voice reaching to hear yours. Will you answer?

This is who I am. The translation of love into creativity.

This is who I am. Artist. Writer. Creator. Magician.

Let me hear your voice. Let the world hear your voice, the unique creative force that you are. A silent voice is no voice at all. A silent voice is a loss to all the world. Speak, draw, act, dance, write, compose, play, sing. Imagine. Create.

Show me who you are. Show the world who you are.

Talk with me.

________________________________

The Cheshire Cat talks to me.

Crowgirl, it names me.

Artist, it says.

Ghosts and magic drip from your fingers,

pulled from the pages of your heart.

Crowgirl words, the only language.

Use them if you dare.

Incantations

speaking to that which is not there,

rubbing away all

except the smile.

________________________

Happy Birthday, Lyle!  I Love You. xo

 

 

Believing is seeing

Velveteen_RabbitThere is a story I read uncounted times before I was ten years old. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

I loved not only the words. I loved the drawings by William Nicholson as well. I would trace my finger along the lines of the words and images. I wasn’t consciously imagining I was writing or drawing. No. But there was something compelling, some feeling that filled me as my finger touched the shapes on the pages. Two dimensions becoming three dimensions in my imagination.

In Margery’s story, love and belief change the velveteen rabbit from stuffed toy to Real.

Isn’t this what I am doing, every time I write and draw? Love and belief becoming the words on the page and the lines in the drawing. Words becoming story. Lines becoming image. Real.

I hear people say believing is seeing. They are right.

Belief changes everything.

So does love.

When I write and draw, I can’t see the end of what I am creating. I don’t know how the story will close. I can’t see the image that will be there after I place the last mark on the paper.

Continue reading “Believing is seeing”

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

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.

Hello, You’re Fabulous!

sandysbookMy cousin has written a book and published it. Hello, You’re Fabulous! by Sandy Slovack, M.A.

I’m jealous. Writer’s jealousy. And I’m laughing at myself as I write that, because I wouldn’t be jealous if the book was terrible. It’s not. It Is Good (capital G!).  I know this because I’ve been playing with Sandy’s book the last few weeks.

Sandy and I have known each other a long time. (No, I’m not telling you how long.) We talk about life, and laugh non-stop when we’re together, allowing brief pauses for wine, coffee, and food. We can be ourselves in our conversation, making mistakes, being goofy, and being wise all at the same time.

This is what I know about Sandy. She believes in people. She sees the pain and the brilliance and the possibilities. Beauty. Love. She learned to do this for herself, and then shared it. And this is exactly what her book is about.

The pain and brilliance and possibility in each of us. Learning to see this in ourselves. Learning to accept this bright shining being is really us, mistakes and wisdom and all. Learning to be this in our lives. Loving ourselves.

The book is a conversation. Not just reading. Doing. Asking questions. Listening to our heads and hearts, and answering. Discovering what we’ve been telling ourselves, and changing the stories that need to be changed. Choosing to believe in ourselves.

Choose love. This is what Sandy is saying, and offering us a path to get there. Thank you, Sandy.

_________________________

In this post:

Hello, You’re Fabulous!, by Sandy Slovack, M.A., Balboa Press, 2015 http://bookstore.balboapress.com/Products/SKU-000931970/Hello-Youre-Fabulous.aspx

Sandy’s website – www.SelfEsteemSolutions.com

 

Tell me I’m an artist

misc.pics 128When I was eighteen, I tried to become an artist.

I loved school and I believed in school, so I got myself accepted to university and started my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. I thought courses and a diploma and those letters, BFA, after my name would make me an artist.

I thought being an artist came from outside. Like being knighted. I dub thee ‘Artist’. One of my art teachers would surely tell me, ‘’Cat, you are an artist.’’

All through that year, I hoped someone would see me, the artist me. I didn’t say it out loud, or whisper it. I never wrote it down on paper or the covers of my sketch books or a bathroom wall. Tell me I’m an artist.

I was so desperate for this, it must surely have been printed across my face. It must have leapt out of every piece of art I created (both the amazing and the dreadful) and every essay I wrote.

It didn’t happen. No one said these magic words.

I left the Fine Arts Department after that first year. I got my diploma in Business Administration instead, and went to work for the government.

Yes, go ahead and laugh.

Continue reading “Tell me I’m an artist”