Taking Down My Fence (Believing Mirror Part 2)

Cat Fink--'Old Coyote Trick (sticks and stones)'
Old Coyote Trick (sticks and stones) — Cat Fink

I’ve been reading about vulnerability in Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly.  Her words have me feeling and remembering.

Growing up, no one told me that strength included vulnerability.  If they did, I didn’t hear them.  Maybe the people around me did not know this either.

Growing up, I was taught that being strong meant holding back my feelings from public view.  Show a calm, controlled front.  Always pretend everything is okay.  I became so good at this, even I didn’t know what I was feeling sometimes.

I kept pushing my feelings away.  I thought I was getting rid of them.  Truth is I was storing them behind a fence of ‘okay’.

This is not the way to live.  I knew it, but did not know how to be different.

Things changed when I was twenty-one.  I began the relationship with my future husband.  He saw my heart behind the fence, and he loved it, and he wouldn’t let go.

Something in me knew it was time to build a gate.  A skinny gate at first, but enough to let me say out loud for the first time in my life, to someone, I love you.

I was terrified saying it.  This was laying myself open, a direct path to hurt me and reject what I offered.  Despite all of the loving actions and words Lyle had given me, I did not trust I was truly worthy of love.  I didn’t much love myself, so how could someone else love me?

I could not say ‘I love you’ to Lyle as a statement.  I said it like a question needing the right answer.

He said it.  He said I love you.  He answered.  To me.

Love made the gate in my fence.  Love and the courage to love.  I don’t know where the courage came from, and the ability to hear the voice that whispered inside me, ‘do this’.

I knew this was a choice, to stay with fear or to step forward to love.  I knew Lyle saw me differently than I saw myself.  He saw a world that did not require fear, and he saw me in this world braver than I saw myself.  Maybe this is how my courage appeared.  His vision sparked my belief, and my belief sparked courage to arise, be seen, and claim out loud my ability to love.

Lyle showed up for me when I needed someone to help open a way through the fence I had built around myself.

Lyle told me how he felt and what he saw in me.  But louder than the words were his actions.  He treated me as a person of great value, who had gifts to be seen and shared.

He believed in me.

This is what we do for each other.  We see the best in the person standing before us, even and especially when they can’t see it themselves.  We believe in them.  We say ‘let’s do this together’.

We all have the gift and possibility of being a Believing Mirror for the person standing before us.  We just have to choose to see that in ourselves, and be vulnerable enough to offer it to someone else.

‘I believe in you.’  Words as precious and important and life-changing as ‘I love you’.

Lyle and I have been together thirty-seven years.  We have a son to be proud of.  My fence?  It shows up sometimes as a ghost of itself.  Old habits, old patterns of thinking and reacting, reminding me where I was, and showing me where I am now.  I pat it kindly, and thank it for keeping me safe at a time when I thought I needed protection.  Then I walk around it.

Lyle, I love you.  Happy Father’s Day.

_______________________

In this post:

Brene Brown, book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Avery, 2012.  http://brenebrown.com/

https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en

‘Believing Mirror’, page 47 in It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, Julia Cameron, TarcherPerigree, 2016.  http://juliacameronlive.com/

 

Being Here and Wanting There

1.'Containers for the Soul'--Cat Fink
Containers For The Soul

It is Thursday and I am here in my studio, writing.  Through my windows I see pine and fir and aspen forest, all around me.  From my front door, I see rows of round hills moving into the distance.  Greens and smoky blues.  The wood thrush has returned for the summer’s nesting.  I heard him calling yesterday, a song that sings like water over stone.

Beauty is here.  Yet today, it is not enough.  My heart is longing for the ocean.

What is it in me that can move away from peace so easily?

I love my studio here in the trees at the top of the round hill.  I open my window and the air breathes me.  The songbirds and the ravens companion me.  Their calls inspire me to imagine and write and play.  Peace and creation live here with me.  Fall, winter, spring.

When summer comes, I move my studio to Victoria on Vancouver Island.  There, I have ocean close to me.  On three sides of me, when I look on the city map.  I can leave my summer studio, drive four minutes in my car, and I am there with my beloved ocean.

I love my studio there, where the ocean lives close by.  I open my window and the beach rushes in.  I hear the seagulls yelling from their heights in the sky, hear the baby crows demanding their place in the world.  When I sit at the beach and write, the waves move in time with my words.  Peace and creation live there with me.

What is it that moves me so easily into longing?  Time.  I have been away from my ocean for nine months.  The forest and hills have filled me, and now I come close to the time for change, to become washed by my ocean.

Oh, my heart, love here where I am now.  Love here where I am creating these words to the sound of the wind in the trees and the wood thrush song.  Know that I am blessed to move from peace to peace.  From forest and hill to ocean and beach.  From beauty to beauty.

Love what is here before me today, and love what I know will come soon enough.  Love the longing I feel today, that created the words on this page.  Cradle my longing.  Whisper ‘Thank you.’  And whisper ‘Soon, I promise, soon.’

 

A Gift of Attention

me.carrie.nanas.july65

This is what I remember.

I am three years old. I am standing in the living room. My mom is sitting in the chair in front of me, holding blankets. My dad is crouched beside me, at my level, telling me this is my new baby sister. Her name is Carrie.

See? Say hello. You can touch her. My mom leans forward so I can see inside the blankets. There is a small face. Red. The eyes are closed. There are black eyelashes.

I don’t recall if I said anything or if I touched her. I do know how I felt. I can feel it now as I remember. I feel confused. I don’t know what this means. Why is she here? Is she staying with me and my parents? My parents are doing a lot of holding her. They’re not holding me. Do they love her now? Does this mean they don’t love me anymore? Now I feel sad and somehow smaller. I am starting to feel angry at this baby sister, whatever she is, who is taking my place.

This is what I remember.

I am four years old. I am in my bedroom, standing in the middle of the room. I can see the back yard through my window. It is sunny outside. I feel my feet warm in my pink socks, feel the wood floor solid under me. I am happy, peaceful, connected to everything around me. I feel secure in myself—who I am, what I can do, my place in the world. I know I have a voice and ideas worthy of listening to.

What happens in the year between these two memories?

I remember.

My dad comes home from work. He changes from his work clothes to his home clothes. He comes into the kitchen, talks with my mom, talks to my baby sister in her play pen. Then he and I go into the living room.

We lay on the thick rug, my dad on his stomach and I beside him.

And we talk. Just the two of us. He asks me what did I do today? And then he listens.

I tell him what I did, what I found in the back yard (ants, a slug, and two rocks), the songs I sing as I swing on my yellow and blue swing set (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Somewhere Over the Rainbow). I sing them to him as loud as I can. I know all the words.

This is the immense gift my dad gives me. His focused attention. It may be only fifteen or twenty minutes each day. It feels like always and forever. In this gift, he tells me he loves me, that I am important to him and worthy of his time, that I have ideas and thoughts worth listening to.

My dad’s gift moves me from a confused, sad, angry three-year-old who wonders if she is losing her parents’ love, into a four-year-old secure and sure in herself and her world, happy, loved, and loving.

This gift of a few minutes each day. So small, yet it is everything.

Undivided, loving, interested attention. I learn what this is and how it feels. I take it into me.

I know now the infinite value of this gift. I practise it and pass it to whoever I can. This gift says I love you, and you are worth attention and time. You are important to me. You are interesting.

Thank you, Dad, for the gift of attention. I love you.  And Carrie, I love you too.

A Non-Crisis of Confidence (Internal Critic Part 2)

 

2.'Meat For The Cheshire'--Cat Fink
Meat for the Cheshire

Guess what? My internal critic is back. Yes, she’s back, rather like the Terminator but not half so interesting.

I should say, she is trying to come back. I am not letting her. There is choice involved here, and I am using it. The word to my internal critic is NO.

The thing about my internal critic is she tries to make me feel I have no power and no choice. She tells me how badly I am doing, how I don’t possess the skills or experience I need. How what I am creating is all wrong. It is ugly, or stupid, or been done before or better by others. It’s not worth anyone’s time and I’m not worth anyone’s time. I’ll embarrass myself, family, friends.

Putting it plainly, my internal critic is a bitch.  No sugar-coating it.  A bitch who is attempting to keep me safe by stopping me from creating and from creating publicly. She is all fear. There is no love in anything she says. Safety is not the same as love.

What I have recently discovered is that my internal critic actually serves a purpose for me. When she shows up, I know I am not standing in my authentic self as artist, writer, creativity coach, blogger. She tells me when I am not claiming and using my power as the creator I am.

She tells me when I am working and creating from my head and not my heart. My best, strongest, most expansive creations come from my heart and love. Passion. My head is brilliant at organizing, planning, structure, logic, and detail. I need and treasure what it does, but what it does must be partnered by my heart and love.

I know why my internal critic has been especially active the last two weeks. I am moving into a big creation right now, taking a major dream and making it real and public. Something this important and integral to me feels both amazing and scary. My internal critic has noticed and turned up her volume in order to protect me from getting hurt.

She is trying to stop me.

Stopping? Not going to happen.

Not creating this dream would hurt me most.

So, my internal critic, I thank you for voicing your noisy, negative concern. Believe it or not, I love you for helping me see.

Here is how it will go. The creator in me feels and knows where I am going and what dream I am making real. The creator in me feels and knows the possibilities that are here shining before me. The creator in me knows my power and how to use it.

This is what I choose. My power is love. I make my dream real.

________________________

 

You will know from my posts that Julia Cameron, Natalie Goldberg, and Lynda Barry are my creativity heroes. In their books, they talk about the internal critic, how it affects them, struggling with it and what they do about it, how they move past her or him (or it) to get to their creating. Their stories have taught me how to work with my internal critic, and how to get past to where the creating is. If you are curious, my ‘Resources I Use’ page, https://catfinkknowtrustchoosecreate.com/resources-i-use/ ,  has more information about these awesome creators and their books.

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.

Choose Love, Choose Love

Everything I Know About The Human Heart Part 2
Everything I Know About The Human Heart Part 2

 

(In honour of Valentine’s Day on February 14th, I’m reposting a lesson I learned about love.)

Choose love.  It should be something that comes naturally.  For me, not always,  although I am getting better at this.  Somewhere in my growing up, I unlearned choosing love.  The words that follow tell how I am moving back to choosing through love and for love.  Let me tell you a story from 2013……

 Red Dots

I have been working online and by phone with Dee Wallace and Jarrad Hewett for the last five months.  I am part of a large group, more than one hundred of us, international.  We are doing ‘Let the Shift Hit the Fan II’, a ten month program of inner work, energy and intuition.  We are learning to hear our own voices above the clamour of those around us.  Learning to trust what we feel and know for ourselves.  Learning to make choices and act on those choices.  Learning to create our lives consciously.  We are returning, each of us, to our true selves.  This is what has sparked my constant mantra of ‘know, trust, choose, create’.

Dee’s channel is telling us we need to learn to develop our focus on feeling love.  They give us what we call ‘the Red Dot Exercise’.  This exercise seems a bit silly at first, has us laughing about it, that we are loving a red dot on a piece of paper.  Then we realize it is working.

This is the Red Dot Exercise we have been given:

‘Make a red dot on a piece of paper.

Drop into your heart center, open your heart, and find a strong experience of love.  Feel the joy and unconditional love of that moment.  Allow that feeling to expand.

Now for thirty seconds, five times a day, for two weeks, practice sending that love to your red dot.  Become one with it.  Practice detachment from sending and being this experience of love.  Just feel love for your red dot.  Leave the thinking and judging aside.  Just feel.

For the next two weeks, do the same, knowing that the red dot is simply self-love.  EXPECT NOTHING.  It is just the practice of sending and BEING the love.

For the final two weeks, you can choose that the dot represents something: money/health, etc., and send love.  All feeling, no thinking.  SEE IF YOU CAN STILL DO THE EXERCISE WITH NO ATTACHMENT.  You are simply BEING Love around whatever subject you choose.  You are realizing that the state of love IS that which you have chosen.

It is suggested that this become a way of life.  This is not a temporary exercise.

Feel this shift in your heart and your gut.  YOU ARE the energy that is the Love.’

I am midpoint in this Shift work and I am seeing and feeling the changes I am creating for myself.  Dee, Jarrad, and their channels have my trust.

I find a pad of yellow sticky notes and a red pencil.  I make my bright red dot and stick it eye height on the wall above my studio desk.  I cannot miss it.  I will remember to do this five times a day, no problem, since I am in and out of my studio frequently.

Actually.  Yes.  Problem.  I go into my studio for something.  I see the red dot.  I say to Continue reading “Choose Love, Choose Love”

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/