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.

What do I want to do today?

Coyote Calls to the Protectors-detailIt’s the end of July, the middle of summer. This is how I feel when I write this. Momentarily sad.

It is how I felt as a kid every year in the middle of summer holidays. Then I would plunge into August, and forget. I’d go back to waking every morning, hear the crow family having breakfast, hear the songbird I had never seen. Feel the warm air fall through my open window and across my face. And then my first thought, always–what do I want to do today?

Anticipation. Excitement. Pure pleasure.  What I was really asking?  What do I love today.

There is luxury in waking like this, in love, knowing I have the whole day to play. No demands. No have-to’s.

I am doing this today. A gift to myself, to be in love and play, all day.

I want to write. That’s a given. Haven’t done any writing for the better part of a week and my mind is itching to go.

What else? Sit on the back deck in the shade under the grapevines. Let Edgar the Cat drape himself across my legs. He can nap. I’ll daydream and not do anything else at all. Just be here. Just be.

Maybe, after that, I’ll get one of my puzzle books from my studio and my blue-purple-green-pink pen. Return to my lounge chair in the shade, do crosswords and logic puzzles. More word play. I love it.

I’ll wander inside to make lunch. Sesame bagel and cream cheese and Tuscany ham. Green olives fished from the jar. Cool water from the tap. Oreo cookies, the originals. Each one carefully pulled apart and eaten in layer order. Summer lunch. Satisfying to the stomach and the soul.

What else do I want to do today?

Read. All afternoon. The book recommended by a friend and borrowed from the library. Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work. Small book. A gem. Read the obituaries, he says. They’re about life and risk and creating a heart’s desire.

Then, begin rereading Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird. This is my fourth reading. My fifth? I’ve forgotten. Parts of Anne’s book live inside me now. There is a reason people talk of devouring a book, of being a voracious reader. That’s me. My body is words from the books I love.

Dinner now. Easy. Rice and sweet-and-sour pork leftover from last night. A two-night dinner, I call it.

Finally, a game with my husband and son. Klondike, or a few rounds of Sorry, or Scrabble (more words). We played Scrabble last night. A close game all the way, the best kind of game. Long and short words, all over the board. Corner to corner. We make up our own rules, and they change each time we play.

This is my day, in the middle of summer, the end of July. A day to play, to please myself. A gift. No demands. No have-to’s.

I wish you such days in your life, such gifts. What do you want to do today?

Enjoy.

______________________

Mentioned in this post:

Austin Kleon, book Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered, Workman Publishing Co., 2014   http://austinkleon.com

Anne Lamott, book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 1995   www.salon.com/writer/anne_lamott

 

One hundred and four magic crayons

banfftable.1.blogI’m writing outside today, sitting on the beach.  Wednesday. Sun and wind. The ocean waves have whitecaps on them, and the seagulls are flying cartwheels. Everything right now is shades of blue, white, grey. Ocean. Sky. Birds. The mountains across the strait.

I love colour. It is what I notice first in anything I see. Maybe this is why my favourite birthday or Christmas or anytime gift is a new box of crayons and a colouring book. This has been my favourite gift since I was old enough to grasp and move a crayon across the page.

Right now I have a Hello Kitty colouring book with a red cover, and a pack of 24 Crayola crayons. The points on the crayons are all rubbed down, except for black and white. I have used each of those exactly three times. The rest of the colours are well-loved. When I use them I have to peel off some of their paper covering, a thin strip round and round until enough of the crayon is exposed. I don’t like having the wrapper rub and shred on the page of my colouring book. It feels gritty and rough. It interrupts my crayon-colouring-book reverie.

The purple-pink-cerise and the blue-cerulean crayons, my favourites this week, are broken. Sad accidents, each time. Pressing too hard against the page, trying to make the colour completely solid.

I am always sad when I break a crayon. The funny thing about this–I am exactly the opposite with my pastels. When I pick up a new pastel, the first thing I do is break it in half and pull off its wrapper. I remember someone gasping out loud as I did this during an art show demo.banfftable.4detail

I have never done this with my crayons. I like them whole.

I love my crayons and I love the possibilities in my colouring book. Black lines on white paper waiting for me to give them life. Rainbow on the page with at least a hundred more than six colours by the time I have finished blending and mixing and layering.

I remember in August each year, in my brand new school supplies, there was a cardboard box of twelve Sargent hexagon crayons. I loved my Sargent crayons. It was the smell of them as I opened the box, and the shape of them in my hand. I remember one of my girlfriends did not like her Sargent crayons. The edges felt sharp against her hand and left lines pressed into the skin of her fingers.

That never bothered me. I loved my Sargent crayons because they were faithful. I never worried about them. I could put them down anywhere on my desk, and they never rolled off and broke on the linoleum floor. They stayed where I left them as I went from one colour to another. Each would be waiting when I put my hand out to pick it up again.

This was necessary, this faithfulness. By the time my colouring was done, I had all twelve crayons out of their box and scattered over my desk top. I used all my colours on every drawing I made.

Continue reading “One hundred and four magic crayons”

Buried Treasure

laidtoresteast.skullI’m in the library.  It’s cooler here than outside.  We had a heat wave last week.  It is done and gone, but cooler is still feeling better to me.

I am sitting by the windows, writing, a table for four all to myself.  Sketch book and loose leaf papers and BIC 4-colour pen and ipod spread out before me.  It is quiet at this end, away from the entrance and check-out desk and dvd section.  I’m deep in the 900’s stacks.  Biographies.  Katharine Hepburn looks out at me from a cover.  A namesake and one of my heroes, she is.

In the library I am no hero.  I am a pirate.  I’m here for treasure.

There is treasure everywhere in the library, so I’m always a very successful pirate on my voyages through this word and idea space.

Today I am searching for no particular treasure.  No.  Today I am on the lookout for buried treasure, unearthed by hands other than mine.

The book sticking out one inch beyond its neighbours on the shelf.  Someone thumbs through it.  No, not for me, they say, replace it carelessly, walk away.  I come by later and there it is, mine.  Just what I was looking for, although I did not know it until now.  I drop it into my sack.

And here is another.  Left lying on top of other books.  Like my first find, looked at, discarded.  Left for me to come along the shelves and recognize its possibility in my life at this moment.  A second piece of treasure into my sack.

I am a rich pirate today.  Double treasure to take home and play with.  Try out the words and ideas and story for their fit.  Ooo, I do like this first one.  It’s all me and beyond.  Hmmm.  This second one, not so much.  Doesn’t fit me and my life as comfortably, but there is an interesting idea and turn of phrase, the way the writer links her words that I write into my sketch book for thinking on later.

There is learning in both my treasures today.  The one that fits me well and sparkles brightly.  The other that does not, yet offers me a pebble for polishing and playing with, turning it in the light and finding its brightest face.

I love being a pirate in the library.  Gathering treasure unearthed by others gives me a different point of view.  I would never have gone looking for these books on my own.  They weren’t in my usual pattern of interests and thinking.  Yet here they are crossing my path and, because of that, worth a look.

I have long practice at this joyful plundering.  Sailing the library stacks and then turning for home, my sack full of treasure, my heart full of pleasure and anticipation, delight and surprise at what I have found today.

The Universal Font

I Build My Castles in the Sky
I Build My Castles in the Sky

I asked Source what we are writing today.  ‘The Universal Font’, they tell me.  ‘What?’ I say.  Then, oh, I get it.  Font.  Typeface.  The form and feel of the letters.  The shape of the writing on the page.

Seems like a very odd topic for my blog.  Where’s the connection to healing, I am wondering.

I go with this.  I have learned that Source is a master at connecting ideas in interesting, expanding ways.  Source does not think like me, even if I am a small physical version of Source energy.  Source thinks WIDE.  Says to me, ‘Love, joy, connection, play, fun, happiness, laughter.  The Universal Font.’

Remember, I am a Joy Tigger.  These amazing abundant energies, these beauties are here to play with.  Tap into, feel into, create from, write with.  I choose a font to create my life and my world.  I choose the form and feel and shape.  I write my world, and everything I choose becomes my ink.

So, easy choice.  Now that I know what it is, I choose the Universal Font to write my life.  I want my life full of love, joy, connection, play, fun, happiness, laughter.  Abundantly full.

How do I do this?

I pay attention to my thinking.  I choose my thoughts to match the Universal Font.  When they don’t, I notice by how I am feeling, and I change them back.  It means paying a lot of attention, because my busy, bouncy Tigger brain sends out thoughts like a river in spring flood.

I know that my thoughts write what I focus my attention on.  My focused attention writes what I see and believe to be true.  All of this writes my reactions, emotions, and experience.  And then I think about the experience I just had—more thoughts—and start the process again.

I would much rather focus on what feels good than what feels bad.  Another easy choice.  What is trickier, is learning to consistently turn myself towards what feels good.  Around me is a non-tigger world that likes to focus on what feels bad, and tries to teach me to think from that.  Think about and express what I don’t want, rather than what I do want.

It’s a pattern I was trained into.  I am changing it.  I hear myself think, ‘I don’t like cloudy days’.  That’s the old pattern, and I notice because the feeling I have is sad and disappointed.   I change my words, rewrite them in the Universal Font and think, ‘I love sunny days.’  And now the feeling I have is warm, happy, excited.  I do this, and I rewrite my life and my world.  I turn things around.  The day outside my window may still be cloudy, but I am not.

I’m a Joy Tigger.  You could also call me Pollyanna.  I am, and I am happy to be.  Pollyanna, in the 1960 movie, sees the good in people and the possibilities in life.  What she sees, she acts on.  People and things change, and turn to the good.  I think she knew about the Universal Font and how to rewrite life.

I choose this.  I choose I write my life and my world with the Universal Font.  Love, joy, connection, play, fun, happiness, laughter.  An abundance.  I choose I am a bouncy Joy Tigger with a pen, a Pollyanna with a laptop, and I am turning my world.  Join me.  Let’s play.

___________________

Mentioned in this post:

Tigger from the books Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne (1882 – 1956)

Pollyanna from the movie Pollyanna, 1960, Walt Disney Productions

What Tiggers do best

Tigger and Friends
Tigger and Friend

Tigger, from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, is one of my heroes.  This is why.  He knows who he is and what he does best.

Tigger bounces.  Bouncing’s what tiggers do best.  Fun.  Play.  Creating happiness (and some chaos) with friends and family.  Life is to be enjoyed.  These are also what Tigger does best.

In one of the stories, Rabbit tries to unbounce Tigger.  Not a good idea.  When he stops bouncing, everyone else gets sad too.  Bouncy Tigger is a necessary part of the family in these stories.  He is the joy.

I want to be a tigger.  If I could be a character from A. A. Milne’s Pooh stories, I would be Tigger.  Not even a pause to think it over.

I want to be a joy tigger.  I want to light up the joy in myself and those around me.  When I am happiness and joy, I can hold in balance the life things that are not so easy.

A joy tigger.  Me.  I want to know who I am and what I do best.  And then do it the rest of my life.  I have a good start at it, here on this page and in this blog.

Continue reading “What Tiggers do best”

Edgar and the Extreme Happiness Part 2

Edgar
Edgar

Edgar, my cat, is teaching me Extreme Happiness.  He’s been on the job for three years, and I am finally getting it.  Yes, I’ve been a slow learner, but that doesn’t bother Edgar.  He keeps showing me the same thing, every day.  Love.  Trust.  Play.  Practice Extreme Happiness.

Our previous cat, Einstein, was a fuzzy grey Buddhist master who channelled Yoda.  He and Edgar spent two summers together.  Einstein passed all his secrets, and the job of caring for our family, to Edgar.  Then he let go of life.  Edgar is doing an excellent job.  I am sure Einstein is proud.

Einstein the Cat was all about being and acting in the present moment.  Einstein knew how to choose his moment.  Edgar is showing me that Extreme Happiness happens in the moment, and it is a choice.

Extreme Happiness has always been part of me.  It is love, trust, joy, play, and it lives in my heart all the time.  Until now, I never knew it existed and didn’t understand I could have it.  I could choose it.  I could give myself permission.

I didn’t know.  So what changed for me?

I learned what Einstein the Cat knew, and what Edgar shows.  I can choose how I react to my life.  More than this, I can create my life.  Find what I love and choose that.  Here.  Now.

Einstein
Einstein

Choosing changes everything.

Edgar chooses to love.  He chooses love first.  He shows love and gives love.  Right here.  Right now.  He doesn’t hesitate.  He doesn’t stop and think, should I, shouldn’t I, maybe it won’t work, maybe it’s too scary.  No.  Edgar doesn’t try to figure it out by thinking.  He figures it out by acting.  He walks right up, and loves.  This is what I am learning to do.

Edgar is a good teacher.  He shows everyone he meets Extreme Happiness, whether he knows them or not.  This is trust in himself and them.  This is playing joyfully in the Universe.  This is knowing love is always the action and the answer.

Love.  Trust.  Play.  Practice Extreme Happiness.  I choose this.  Edgar approves.  Prrrrrrrrr.

Edgar and the Extreme Happiness

Edgar and Friends
Edgar and Friends

‘Edgar is extremely happy.’  This is what my son tells me in our phone conversation yesterday.

Edgar is our family cat.  He is living with our son Bryan right now.  Edgar thinks he belongs not only with our family, but with everyone.  We call him the Love Kitty.

This is why.

Edgar loves everyone he meets, and he is sure that everyone loves him.  He is so certain of this that it becomes true.  He walks up to people he does not know, stares at them, unblinking, and purrs.  It works.  They stop, bend down, pet him.  The Love Kitty in action.  This is his job in the world.  Spread Love and Extreme Happiness.

I have had seven cats in my life, beginning when I was a teenager.  We have shared love back and forth.  Each love has been unique, and each of my cats has taught me something about life.

This big, white-and-black fuzz muffin teaches Love and Extreme Happiness.  He radiates it, all the time.

I have never had a cat quite like Edgar.  Each time I pick him up, he goes boneless.  Limp.  A floppy feather pillow that purrs, loud.  He looks up at me.  Round, pale, jade green eyes.  He is telling me in this moment I am the love of his life, and there is nothing better than my arms holding him against my heart.

This is Edgar’s Extreme Happiness:  know my arms always support him; know I always love him; know that home and care and kindness are always my gifts to him.

His trust is complete.  Edgar knows the Universe is a friendly place.  His open heart calls to mine.  Come and play with me and the Universe.  Play.  Trust in Extreme Happiness.  Relax into Love.

Relax into Love.  Edgar is a master at this.  He gifts his Extreme Happiness to all who hold him.  It is true that emotions are contagious.  Edgar’s Extreme Happiness always rubs off on me.  My body relaxes.  My heart opens.  I am happy, extremely.  I know the Universe always supports and loves me.  I know home and care and kindness are always mine.

Thank you Edgar, for teaching me Extreme Happiness.  You are a treasure.