I Am A Contrary

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 23 2016 (connection)

Tomorrow is the US Presidential Inauguration.  I am having a hard time believing that Donald Trump is becoming the US President, that he was voted in.  And yet, it is so.  What concerns me most?  The divisive way he sees and talks gives others permission to do the same, to pit group against group, to use anger and hatred as the path to what they desire.

I say to this–I Am A Contrary!

I am a contrary.  Much of the society and material world I live in tries to tell me all is divided, labelled, specified, separate.  It tries to say I am separate from you, from the water I drink, from Raven chuckling in the fir outside my window, from the ground I walk on, from the smooth grey stone I hold in my hand.

Not so.  I see, I know, I feel all life, this world, everything as one whole being, one energy, constantly connected, breathing one breath, all flow.

I am a contrary.  The material world tries to teach me to see only polarities, black and white, either-or.

But I see pattern, illumination, both-and.  I see richness and range.  As a child growing up and as an adult living in an either-or world, I remain knowing I am the stars, the sky, the earth water wind, the grey stone, Raven, the fir tree.  I am you.  I am and we are, both-and.

I am glad I am a contrary.  Because of this, I know all is one.  I get to see the one whole beauty underneath all of the pieces of this divided material world.  I get to see the beauty and the heart living within each person I meet.

I get to see the hearts each of us carries.  I don’t just mean the unique shining heart each of us is.  I mean every one of us is covered with hearts, all sizes and every colour, one pinned onto us by each person who loves us.  We move through life covered, carried, loved, connected by all these hearts.

Continue reading “I Am A Contrary”

The View From the Cheap Seats

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Cat’s Instructions for a Creative Life

I am reading Neil Gaiman’s book The View From the Cheap Seats, a collection of his nonfiction writing.  Magazine pieces, book introductions, speeches, musings, more.  I am being inspired, delighted, learning, and made curious.

The making-me-curious bit is fun.  I have a Curiosity List going as I read this book.  Writers, books, comics, artists, articles, web stuff.  All new to me, and I have to check them out, now that Neil has made me curious.  I am nearly two-thirds of the way through his book, and my list is getting long.  This is a good thing.

One of the things I love about those of us working in the arts is how so many of us share what we are discovering, what is delighting us, what we are learning and doing.  Neil’s book is delighting me, not only because of his writing, but because of his sharing who and what inspires him.  Sharing one of the paths through his universe.

Thank you, Neil.

________________________

In this post, and other thoughts:

Neil Gaiman, book The View From the Cheap Seats, 2016, WM Morrow.  http://www.neilgaiman.com/

The image at the top of this post is what I have been creating the last two days.  It is going onto a postcard I’ll be handing out at my interactive art show ‘The Joy Diary’ in November.  (I was going to add the link here for the Station House Gallery in Williams Lake, BC, but according to Google just now, their site may be hacked.  Yes, the weird and wonderful world of the internet.)

Creating Stuff With Friends

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Making Stuff With Friends

The past two weeks I’ve been experiencing one of the things on my list for living a creative life—Find friends who love to create too, and inspire each other.

Drawing and writing give me great joy.  I mostly create alone, and this works for me.  I hear my heart, mind, and Source clearly.  There is peace in this, and an awareness that holds both energy and ease.

Lately I have been visiting with my artist and writer friends.  Meeting for lunch.  Going for walks.  Sharing what we are each creating.  Asking for and giving advice and points of view.  Laughing a lot.  Appreciating.  Being inspired.  Making notes of books to read and websites to view.  New resources to play with.

We talk about creativity and life.  For us, these are threads that wind round each other.  Impossible to separate.  I know I wouldn’t want to.

Thursday I sat across from a friend, at her round wooden table.  The table was high, and I am short.  I put an extra pillow on the seat of my chair.  We had pens and paper.  We wrote.

There was peace in this space, and the quiet act of creating in the presence of another.  My friend and I know intimately the feel of writing alone.  This day we chose to write together.  There was joy in this.  I feel it again as I tell you.

There is power, too, in creating with a friend.  Familiarity, love, and acceptance of the creative process.  Friendship, love, and acceptance of the person across the table.  This power is ease, and it let my words flow.  I looked up and saw my friend moving her pen across the paper, her words taking the shape of a new story.

Grace was given both of us in this time and place.  Grace, joy, friendship, and writing.  A perfect afternoon.

_______________________

In this post:

July 10th post, List For Living My Creative Life, https://catfinkknowtrustchoosecreate.com/2016/07/10/list-for-living-my-creative-life/

Second Draft, First Draft

Blackbird Dance (desire)'detail
Blackbird Dance (desire) – detail

I am thinking about the second draft of my book.  The one I put aside last September.

I am coming back to it.  I’ve made a pact with my friend who is also writing.  She’s close to the end of her first draft.  We both need someone to write with, partner, give us each that extra push to reach the finishing line by the end of the summer.  Tell us in a sure voice, yes, you are doing it, almost there.

Chocolate and iced mochas, cafes and beaches will help as well.  Bribery works.

I wonder, as I look at my half-done second draft, why I wrote the first draft.  What sent me to the page?  Who was I writing for when I sat all those days at my studio work table, moving words and pen across the paper?

I can give the usual answers.  I was writing for me.  Writing to understand what I experienced.  Writing to make sense of the path I walked.

These are all true.  Not specific enough, for me, right now.

What was it that sent me to the page with enough words to fill a whole book?

Here I have to pause.  Feel back to where I was when I began the writing.  Not think.  Feel.

Like all I create, it was the push of an idea.  You might say ideas are thoughts, and thoughts are not physical.  This may be true for you.  Not for me.

My ideas and thoughts carry weight.  I feel them in my body.  No two feel exactly the same.  This idea to put words to my experience was heavy and insistent.  It sat in my belly, all of my belly.  It was very sure of itself and its importance.  It would not leave.  The only choice was to birth it.  Sit at my work table and write.  Day and day and day.  Let the idea flow as words from belly through heart to hand to ink and paper.

The insistence and sureness and sheer weight of idea into words is what carried me through to the end of the first draft.  This, and joy.  Joy runs as a thread through all my creating.

These things sent me to the page.

I tell you what I know for sure.  Without that weight in my body where the idea sat, the writing would not have happened.  That weight was the connection between the idea and me.  That weight told me the idea was real, here and whole already, even though I had yet to write a word.

Now that the first draft is done, and the second draft half-done, paused and returned to, is the idea and its weight still here in my body?

It is.  I feel it now, sure and insistent and whole, waiting for me.  I am not going anywhere, it tells me, until we are done.

This feeling is a gift of knowing.  It has carried me, and continues to carry me, as I write.  This knowing is all I need to know.  This book will be.

Insistent.  Sure.  Whole.  And the thread of joy.

Morning Pages–to write or not to write

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I have a secret agent who helps me create.  ‘’Call me Pages, Morning Pages,’’ she says, and smiles.  She holds sharpened pencils in one hand, sheets of paper in the other.

Yes, I am talking about Julia Cameron’s invention, morning pages.  Three handwritten pages, whatever comes to mind, each day before I move to the writing or drawing, coaching or blogging.  Letting my mind wander.  Letting thoughts surface and have their say.  Letting emotions move through me, easily or not.  Letting beliefs and memories show up to say ‘notice me’.  Planning to do this, then this, and this.

I’ve been writing morning pages for years, since October 1994 to be precise.  Not constantly, but mostly, daily.  They show me who I am in this moment, where I have been, where I am going, where I’d like to go and what I’d like to do.

These daily pages are my place to gripe loudly and to discover inspiration.  Yes, both, sometimes the first leading to the second.  Funny that, and true.  Reassuring that I can be off balance, feel it, then move on and into my creative self, the clouds having cleared.

This, for me, is why morning pages are my secret agent.  They clear my way to walk into my creative self, whatever I am doing this day.  Pages open me to a clear mind and a clear heart, pair my mind and heart so they partner each other in whatever I am creating.

This is when my writing, drawing, coaching, and blogging are their best.  This is when my mind and heart speak as one voice.  Try this, they say, and I do.

What comes of this mind-heart partnership are choices, actions, and creations that connect me to other people, heart and mind to heart and mind.  Connection, communication, understanding.  Realizations that are clear, heart-felt, accepting, inspired, wise.

I have my days of resisting my morning pages, even now after twenty-two years.  I don’t feel like it.  I’m too tired.  I’m too lazy.  I want to go direct to my creating and not waste any time.  I need to get other things done.

I have lots of excuses.

None are valid.

I know better, yet I will use the excuse of the day and not write my pages.  I move straight to my creating, bringing with me a mind hazy with complaints and cluttered with random thoughts, a heart holding unexpressed emotions that should have been felt and acknowledged.

For me, this is not the way in which to create.  What I do this day will likely need to be undone tomorrow.  I know this from long experience.  Yet still, once in a while, I have to test it again and choose to ignore writing my morning pages.

What is this resistance, this obstinate choice I occasionally make?

I think I do this to remind myself of why I write my pages.  I re-experience how I feel and think and the not-quality creating that results from a hazy, cluttered, random mind and heart that are not working together.

Today, before I wrote this post, I wrote my morning pages.  True, they were more like noon pages.  That is alright.  The pages got written.  The blog post got created.  And all is right in my world because my secret agent was on the job today.

‘‘Call me Pages, Morning Pages.’’

Thanks, Pages.

__________________________

Mentioned in this post:

Julie Cameron’s morning pages, from The Artist’s Way, Tarcher-Putman, 1992, pages 9 -18.  http://juliacameronlive.com/

Morning pages also move me past my internal critic.  https://catfinkknowtrustchoosecreate.com/2016/03/31/writing-past-the-internal-critic

 

Loving My Neighbour

Everything I Kow About the Human Heart3 detail

This is all I want to say today.  Love your neighbour.

We have one planet to live on.  Everything we do affects all of us.  Our emotions are contagious.  I get angry and afraid, and the person next to me begins to feel angry and afraid too.   And then we make decisions that hurt everyone.

I would rather feel love than anger or fear.  Wouldn’t you?

We all have a choice.

I choose love today.

Random Thoughts About Good Things

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Drawing For Anna (detail)

 

Thursday, early afternoon. Warm sun and blue sky and a cool wind. Outside the window, the neighbour’s fir tree shifts, shakes, bends as each gust of wind hits it then moves on.

I am in my studio in Victoria, on the couch, sketchbook on my legs, writing. Jazz music playing. KPLU Seattle. I love this radio station. Coffee at my side. Decaf latte, to be precise.

So many good things in this life. I’ve easily named twelve in the previous two paragraphs.

I count the blessings in my life. Noticing keeps me present and grounded in my senses, my body, my heart. The best place for a writer and artist to be. Noticing is my direct connection to the world.

My drawing and writing come from noticing. Come from love and joy, from curiosity and questions. Some say that art comes from pain, the heart needing to express things that have no words. I know for sure my work comes from joy and love.

It was love that led me through the door of the art school every day for three years. It is love that leads me to the page and my blog each week. There may be pain expressed in what I create, but it is love and connection and the joy of creating that sparks me into action. All good things. All blessings.

So what blessings have I counted here today?

A day to be alive on this Earth. Warm sun. Blue sky. Cool wind.

The fir tree bending, shaking, shifting.

My studio and it’s old, comfortable, blue-and-white striped couch (an Ikea special).

Sketch book, the latest in a 20-year series.

Writing.

Jazz on KPLU (that’s 2 things).

Coffee (mmmmmm).

My body and senses and heart.

Connecting with this world.

Pain, joy, love (use everything).

Curiosity and questions.

Drawing.

Art school.

Words and my blog.

Creating, connection (again), action.

Sparks.

Yes, let me count my blessings. Gifts from the world. Thank you, World. I love you too.

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