Remembering Light

 

winter light
winter light

It’s late December. Mid-afternoon and the sky already dark. Snow still coming down. It started before dawn.

I’ve been thinking about emotion and memory.

What is memory anyways? It’s nothing solid. Like all in life, it changes. I can tell that my memories move like a story told over and over. The essential points stay the same, but the details shift. Am I remembering more clearly when this happens, or am I filling in gaps, making things whole, putting clothes on the bones of what I recall?

I am remembering the Christmas Eve I was in Grade Five. My sister and I were given night lights in the shape of genie lamps. All other gifts were abandoned as we carried our lamps around the house, Aladdins in nightgowns and slippers. I remember the two of us, whispering and giggling in the dark cave of the hallway outside our bedrooms. We had turned off the hallway light, and all was now mysterious and spooky as we moved around, genie lamps in hand, their blue plastic light covers casting shadows we couldn’t recognize.

This I remember clearly. What I don’t recall with any certainty is whether my lamp was the pink and black one and Carrie’s the aqua blue and grey one, or the other way around. When I picture us in the December dark, I can see either lamp in my hand. I remember them both.

I don’t know what happened to my genie lamp. I do know I loved it, played with it, kept it on the floor by my bed. I suppose I eventually outgrew it, and it was lost deep in the big cardboard toy box Carrie and I shared. Or perhaps, when I tired of it, it was given away to a younger cousin or to a daughter of one of my parents’ friends.

What does not shift in this memory of light in the dark, is the feeling of fun and play, laughter and enjoyment, friendship and love with my sister. I feel all of this now as I write. You can’t see me, but I am all smile like a Cheshire cat.

Here in this memory is joy and light and love.

When I am afraid and in the dark, all I need do is remember Carrie and me in that dark hallway, playing with the light of our genie lamps, giggling and whispering. If I trust myself enough to allow this memory to fill me, body, mind, heart, and spirit, I can see my way here, now, and walk myself out of fear and the dark, back into light.

My mom-in-law, who does not know this story, found a genie lamp in a garage sale. She bought it and gave it to me. It sits here on my work table, a treasure among treasures. It is exactly like the one in my memory. Aqua blue and grey, like my sister’s lamp, or mine—that part does not matter. To my eyes, it is the colour of light and play and laughter and love.

_______________________

I first posted ‘Remembering Light’ last February.  As we move through the world’s celebrations of light and towards the Winter Solstice, I wish us all light and play and laughter and love.

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

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

 

Lions and tigers and writer’s block

The Wizard Of Oz - original movie poster 1939
The Wizard Of Oz – original movie poster 1939

Think The Wizard of Oz. The 1939 movie with Judy Garland as Dorothy.

Dorothy and Scarecrow and Tin Man are walking through a forest. It is creepy.  The light is dim. They start talking about what might be hiding. Lions. Tigers. Bears. Oh no! They manage to scare themselves silly by the end of the scene, even though there are no lions or tigers or bears. The Cowardly Lion, who they eventually meet, is nowhere near scary.

This is what I have been doing the last two months. Scaring myself silly. Imagining lions and tigers and bears. Blocking the writing on my book.

I’ve been doing other things instead of my book. Useful good things, I tell myself. Yes, true, they are. But it is odd how I do those useful good things first, plan to get to my book writing second, and somehow never get there.

I’m watching this happen. Two months of watching and not doing. I can’t seem to break the pattern. I’m not choosing to. What is stopping me?

Over my years of creating, I have run myself into blocks and scared myself a lot. I see what’s happening and I find my way through. Every time. Except now.

I could blame it on the fact that this is my first experience writing the second draft of a book. I don’t know what to expect, don’t yet know my process for this kind of creating, or how long it might take me. I do know this long at not-writing is too long.

Continue reading “Lions and tigers and writer’s block”

Invaded by Minions

Kevin and Friends
Kevin and Friends

My studio work table has been invaded by Minions. Well, one Minion, to be precise. His name is Kevin. He is eating a banana and smiling, his yellow cheeks bulged out on one side. Evidently it’s a good banana.

Kevin is only two inches tall, but his effect on me is in the exponential multiples. You know, ten to the millionth power plus.

This is why.

Kevin makes me smile. Makes my insides laugh. He gives me joy, every time I look at him, standing there on my projects pile.

His smile is pure smile. There’s nothing behind it and nothing attached to it. No agenda. Very simply, he’s happy and he’s letting me know that.

I love it when I meet someone who is pure smile. Not only their mouth smiles. It’s all over their face and all over their body. They are unabashedly happy and they are radiating that happiness like an August morning sun. Brilliant. Blazing. You can’t not feel it.

Smiles like this, full body smiles, are contagious. I meet someone who is smiling full-on, and next thing I know, I am beaming back at them. No matter how I feel before I meet them, they change me by the time we part.

We don’t even need to stop and talk. I can pass them on the sidewalk, share smiles, and be changed in seconds.

That’s how powerful we are, when we are in full-on, pure smile. We can change the world. Just by smiling.

Go for it, Kevin. Show me your smile. Invade my world.

Happy

Blackbird Dance (family stories)
Blackbird Dance (family stories)

I wake up happy this morning. Love it when this happens. I am warm under my comforter. (Perfect name, that—comforter.) Along with happy I feel deliciously lazy, rested. There is sunlight against my bedroom blinds, and shadows of trees getting pushed and shaken by the wind.

Happy.

It isn’t even a choice this morning. I didn’t have to stop and deliberately, consciously, meaningfully choose happy. Happy just is.

I could be this forever. Right now always.

Peaceful. Settled. Nothing niggling at me. Body and head all comfortable. Heart and spirit peaceful.

I fell into happy this morning, even before I woke up.

Such a gift.

It feels like waking on the first morning of summer vacation. Though my calendar tells me today summer is passed. It is the Fall Equinox, and Yom Kippur, and Mabon. A blessing day today. Balance. Full. Perfect.

I am sitting at my work table now, in my studio. Vince Guaraldi and David Benoit and George Winston playing piano for me, Charlie Brown music. Watching the wind pull and push at the aspens and the firs. The aspens have become gold this past week, brilliant against the blue sky and the dark of the firs. When their leaves fall, we will have Dorothy’s yellow brick roads everywhere through the woods around the house.

Happy. I accept this gift of happy.  Thank you.

This is not a test

 rainbow.alexiscreek

Start here. This is not a test.

I discovered a few days ago that I live my life as if it’s a test I have to pass. Something in me decided this, a long time ago.

The test never ends. I never know if I have aced it or failed it. I don’t know who the tester is, or if there are more than one. I don’t know what the questions are and whether I’ve been asked one, and if I answered correctly or not.

Wow.

This explains a lot. Why I am keyed up and have to consciously work at relaxing my body and mind. Why I sometimes look at others and feel I can’t stand equal with them. Why I always feel I am being judged. Why I don’t play enough and feel vaguely guilty when I do. Why everything I do has to have a purpose. Why I am frequently not satisfied. Why I pass by my successes, barely giving them and me any acknowledgment. Why I do things, love what I’ve created, then it’s bang—onto the next thing right away because I have no time to waste.

How sad.

I can say, and mean it and know it, that I am happy most of the time in my life. This is true. My heart is open and present and connected and creating. Loving. Joyful. True. I can feel it. Most of the time.

Yet there is this low-level background tension running the other stuff that I listed three paragraphs back. Stuff I have been ignoring, that creeps in between the love and joy and happiness.

Time to let this go.

I choose. There is no test. No Test. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

There is just my life and what I want to create in it. And no test.

I am letting this sink in. This feels GOOD.

My shoulders just dropped two inches. I can breathe. I can enjoy what I am doing. I can play.

Tigger and Totoro--Go Play!
Tigger and Totoro–Go Play!

Yes. I can play. I can wander out of that stuffy Life Classroom I caged myself in, give the door a slam on the way out, and watch the whole place collapse in a heap. Better yet, invite Wile E. Coyote to blow it sky high with one of his Acme missiles. Right on target. Ka-boom! Wile E. takes a bow. The Road Runner and I applaud. Then we all go play. Dibs on the slide!

Yes. Life is not a test. Go play.