Today has been busy as I've tried to navigate techie stuff, avoid getting swindled and other things outside my comfort zone.
Day 14 of 30 Paintings In 30 Days leads me right back here to Captivated. Sigh!
Today has been busy as I've tried to navigate techie stuff, avoid getting swindled and other things outside my comfort zone.
Day 14 of 30 Paintings In 30 Days leads me right back here to Captivated. Sigh!
"She work up every mooring with the option of being anyone she wished. How beautiful it was that she always chose herself. "
I love this quote by Tyler Kent White,
This may sound easy, but when we've learned adaptive behavior that's caused personas, we might not even be aware our what is true on the inside. Another wards, we may think we feel one way only to discover below the surface another reality.
Through the process of truly, deeply listening and owning what is being conveyed on the inside, though it may have been previously denied and pushed down, we begin to come into congruence.
We aren't a bunch of pieces walking around. We are whole beings, but until we welcome the parts of ourselves we've orphaned, we will feel fragmented.
Practice giving yourself permission to listen and respond to the depths of what you hear. Be sure to stand in your own corner. Be sure to choose yourself!
Day 13 of 30 Painting In 30 Days, She Chose Herself
Imagine if when we looked at each other and heard a sound, or saw a scene, or beautiful image?
I passed this street art above over the weekend and loved the message.
Imagine hearing a melody or seeing a sunset when we look into another's eyes. For it is when we learn to suspend judgment and see the unique poetry in each other that we truly see.
We are spirit beings, but so often we think of ourselves in compartments that don't truly exist. Awakening to the powerful reality of spirit over natural sight immediately alters and broadens our vision.
Our spirits are eternal so they aren't cloaked in persona or ego. Practicing abiding in the present and Presence means seeing beyond the natural seen realm. This is certainly foreign to many folks, but this is true reality, which enables us to carry peace and joy despite circumstances and outer measurements society forms of success.
Spirit is the only lasting reality, all else withers and fades. All of the false beliefs we hold crumble as we continually awaken to the reality of Eternal Love.
Some folks in my faith persuasion believe you have to jump through all sorts of hoops to arrive at this, but the truth is that all hoop jumping was accomplished on our behalf. This is not about willpower, in fact willpower hinders us from practicing the Presence and abiding in peace through one's spirit. Its through acceptance and openness that we enter in.
If you aren't seeing beauty in others, maybe you aren't truly seeing.
Day 13 of 30 Paintings In 30 Days, Sunset High
Worry is the biggest time waster if ever there was one and what one of us hasn't been a little too familiar with it? If you're like me, you don't want a close association with worry. In fact, I have de-selected my friendships status with worry!
Worry is the worst date in town! Like a plate full of carbs, it's a nutritionally empty snack that leaves us feeling bloated and unsatiated. I have discovered that the more I take my attention away from the problem and fix my vision on the present eternal Love surrounding and embodying me, I instantly return to peace.
Day 11, 30 Paintings In 30 Days, features, Worry Less.
Sometimes it's hard to sit out, while the other kids look like they're having a blast on the playground. Sometimes it's hard to give ourselves the rest or reconfiguring that we need, but truly we are the only ones who can.
I've spent some long seasons of rest where there simply was no grace to push and strive and make things happen. I had dents in my forehead to prove the futility of pushing against the wall. After a while I learned to flow with the river and to let things happen organically. This really drove the strong willed, 'take action' types crazy!
I could hear the voices saying, "Just get up and do it!" But my heart knew the utter betrayal it would have produced, because there was another kind of work that needed to be done. It was stilling myself to listen. The work was below the surface, hidden from sight, but I knew it none the less.
This is the work that most of us avoid for as long as possible. We might not know that we are avoiding it, until you get called up to sit! Although I kicked and screamed and threw tantrums, because I couldn't get out on the playground of seeming "importance" this gift that I didn't understand for a long time was truly one of the best gifts I've ever received.
It brought me to discoveries I would not have uncovered otherwise. It brought me to a kind of ease and rest and grace and peace that I had not encountered to this degree, previously. It realigned so many things and brought me to a rumble with identity. Masks, gold metals and even gold stars that we like to wave around and plaster on ourselves began to fall off. It brought me to the reckoning of the beauty I possess without adding one outside voice of praise or commendation to validate me.
When all of the folks that didn't know how to stay, couldn't handle the vulnerability of looking themselves in the mirror faded away, I found within myself an undeniable fully adored identity, apart from anything I will ever do.
So if you get called up to sit awhile, remember you must crawl before you can walk and you must surely walk before you can run. Give yourself the gift of being loved-on-complete, in your solitude, because when the time is right, you will not only run, you will fly. You will have a clear voice and it will be seasoned with love.
The piece above is: First You Crawl for Day 9 of 30 Paintings In 30 Days. www.30paintingsin30days.weebly.com
You have to crawl before you can walk.
Like jumping rope, some new ventures, seasons and years begin by taking a few awkward and seemingly spasmodic jumps to get into the rhythm of things. That is why I've challenged myself the last few years to do 3o days of creative expression. Although as an artist I will continue creating long after the 30 day mark, I still like to give myself a jumpstart.
Research has proven that creativity is a powerful means to process what's in our head and to move it to our heart, through our hands. It also jumpstarts and inspires greater creativity. That is why I incorporate art into much of the workshops and retreats I do with women.
Some people flit around like a bee in the charcoal drawing above (not a painting at all) for Day 8 of 30 Paintings In 30 Days. They jump from one thing to the next without focus. Been there done that, which isn't always a bad thing. It is actually a great way to learn what things you actually want to continue and develop and what things you want to discard.
However, adding intention, direction and planning takes flitting into focus. Although I am a creative, one of my top strengths defined by the Strength Finders Assessment, which by the way I have all new clients take, is focus. If focus were not in my profile, I would want to team up with someone who had that strength. Instead, I have other areas where I lack particular strengths and try to add others with those strengths or skill sets to my team.
What ways are you being intentional about your New Year? Are you giving yourself permission to awkwardly jump into something that you might feel uncertain about, so you can explore the territory?
To follow along this month come back to the blog everyday for a new painting and post and see the art that others are posting from around the world at: www.30paintingsin30days.weebly.com
There are big surprises wrapped up in joy, because carrying a joyful heart means you've chosen to see things differently. You've chosen to see beyond the obvious into another realm. In fact, in my assessment, realms of glory couldn't be incased in anything other that the Father's joy.
Joy then is a kind of portal that awakens the hallowed within, allowing us to laugh when the world's dark prognosis is pronounced, because of a supernatural interpretation of God's unending goodness. Some might think this is foolishness, but I rather think of it as other worldly.
It takes no special skill to be fearful, but being at peace and carrying joy takes a sight and perspective adjustment. It takes a faith that is divine rather than human. Our greatest defense is joy! But this is quite different that the insincere, inauthentic saccharin off-loading behavior Brenè Brown calls, The Umbridge. This nice southern, church going behavior, also exhibited in cultures other than the south, is often deflecting a greater truth. Brown writes about this behavior in, Rising Strong.
"It's present when light and dark are not integrated at all. There's almost something foreboding about overly sweet and accommodating ways. All that niceness feels inauthentic and a little like a ticking bomb." Brown named The Umbridge after the J.K. Rowling character Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix who wears sweet pink suits, cutesy pillbox hats and tortures children. Brown tells us that those that claim to never feel angry or upset, and are always positive, are often masking true pain and hurt. These are red flags.
It's taken me a darn long time to recognize that their is always more beyond the words that might appear lovely, but whose behavior defies it. There is always more beyond the obvious. Getting curious about our real emotion is where we reckon with it, rather than off-loading it. This is where we give ourselves permission to feel, get curious about what we are feeling and be uncomfortable with it until we see what it wants us to know.
A few years ago I awoke to the New Year hearing the word, Incongruent in my spirit. The next two years that followed introduced wave after wave of discovery, unearthing "good girl" behavior that greatly conflicted with what I knew to be true for myself. As if I was a bystander watching my behavior for the first time, I was astounded at the things I found myself doing and participating in that my heart was protesting against, but the disconnect and off-loading of emotion had allowed me to continually betray myself.
After the initial heartbreak of realizing how much I had dishonored my own wellbeing in rote, approval seeking behavior (definite joy robber) I began to experience absolute joy and bliss at the awakening and freedom of choosing how I would best care for myself.
Last night as I launched a new Rising StrongTM Group, as a certified facilitator of Brenè Brown's work, amazing women shared about present hardships and rough realities in their lives. I was struck by the fact that they had courageously chosen to show up, be seen and learn new ways of speaking about their emotions and pain, so that instead of coping they could learn to truly care for themselves. We each wrote permission slips that helped us begin the journey of defining for ourselves what we needed to feel safe and successful in the group and practicing wholeheartedness to move beyond the swampy ground known as the Delta to rise strong.
It's only when we get curious about our inner world, own our pain and darkness that we can truly and authentically experience joy. Joy is not something we put on, but a deep living reality available when we choose to be courageous. The more we honestly acknowledge the truth about where we are and get curious in the discovery, we can return to joy.
There is much discovery hidden beyond the obvious. While many coaches focus on goal setting, every goal winds its way back to a deeper inner reality. Every disappointment, expectation, relationship difficulty, and career launch, though often seeming to be outer issues, interesting leads its way back to how we handle life and the illusive stuff beyond the obvious.
Day 7 of 30 Paintings In 30 Days is entitled: Beyond the Obvious. To follow daily posts by artist around the world visit
www.3opaintingsin30days.weebly.com . And come back for this months daily posts right here!
“To remember who you are you need to forget who they told you to be.”
That sentence is always popular when I post it on Facebook. Like myself, I think most people live a great deal of their life learning who they truly are and how to let go of who they’ve been told to be.
I've spent a good deal of my life squeezing myself into ill-fitting boxes, wearing hats, roles and identities that were in total incongruence in discovery of who I truly am. I am certain that this road of discovery will continue my entire life, because to imagine that it wouldn't would be to limit an immeasurable God who made us.
I've spent years determining the value of what I did and who I was based on the bleachers approval of me. I devalued my voice, because so many then and now could not comprehend the inside out, rather spiritual vantage point in which I see the world.
Then not so long ago, I realized that even if no one valued what I had to offer, or the person I intrinsically am, I would be okay with that too, because I was created as a one-of-a-kind, in the image of my Maker. And I recognized that I needed to lean into my uniqueness, because maybe I had been listening to the wrong pack. That's when I gave myself permission to look differently than the cookie cutter version that some circles expected me to be.
There is nothing quite like taking back your power instead of letting other's define you, and being perfectly fine with your own good opinion. That is why I am so passionate as a life coach about helping other women recognize and reclaim the power within themselves, their God given uniqueness and beauty.
So here’s to your beauty! Here's to you, kid!
The above painting is entitled: Here's Looking At You Kid for day 6th of 30 Paintings In 30 Days. Follow along here www.30paintingsin30days.weebly.com
Everyday, I come alive a little more to things I didn’t even know I already possessed. Its sad to think of mankind living below the level of what is intended and available to us. Some won’t wake up until they’re breathing their last breath and then so blinded by the light of eternal love, they’ll begin to see as if for the first time. My Day 5 painting in the 30 Paintings In 30 Days series reflects the joy of seeing things as if for the first time. It is entitled: Robust Joy. You can follow all of the amazing artwork here www.30paintingsin30days.weebly.com
Walter Lanyon, one of my favorite authors, writes in the Laughter of God,
“I was a child with a small measure at the seaside, trying to carry off a little water when the whole sea was at my disposal, and I understood for the first time the exhaustless sea of substance about me, and that the idea of hoarding was but a childish feat grown into a Goliath by false teaching and beliefs. I suddenly became aware that the substance was everywhere, in everything, out of everything, and the only place of lack was in the hypnotic state of belief—and I alone created and moved in this vacuum.
And the glorious laughter rolled on, searching the very joints and marrow of me—dislodging every belief in fear, sickness, or age. And as it swept over me and through me and round about me, I was amazed with the wonder of it—the fierce, terrible thing which was at the same time so beautiful and free. The wonder of it kept singing through my soul as veil of belief was rent asunder and new kingdoms stood revealed. And the whole thing was as if one just saw a little deeper, as one looks through the surface reflection on a river and sees the pebbles and shells below, that was all; only the Laughter made this possible, for it cleared away all the effort and straining which in its attempt to see God had been halted at the reflection on the surface, instead of gasping into the limpid, glorious depth of Infinity…The glorious Divine ease with which it was expressed made dis-ease impossible.”
What joy and freedom to live in this continual union with Love and Joy. There is no substitute or distraction that is worthy of dislodging this ease. And so it is with this effortless grace that one enters by mere recognition, not labor. What a gift, being so wrapped up in love before we even recognized it.
This little bit of early morning inspiration had me talking to myself about joy during my drive time, in none other than a lovely British Prime Minister-esque accent. The way I used to talk to my dolls about life, all lined up on my bed. We are the perfect captive audience all by ourselves. We should be sure to speak words of life and that encourage and certainly make us laugh!
Today I was thinking about the joy overflowing in my heart that has come on the heals of a particularly hard year with the loss of my mom and other things. As I was skipping along in my thoughts I actually saw myself rise up as if I had wings. There has been a ton of gold composted out of some pretty shitty rough patches this year.
This morning when a young woman texted me asking me how she could overcome her heartbreak, I thought to myself, about the hard leaning in I'd done this past year and other years too. How I gave myself utter permission to feel my pain and not stow it, but also intentional processed my emotions to deliberately focus on joy daily.
That hasn't always been as easy as it might seem particularly when my hormones crashed and my adrenals hit bottom. Every afternoon like clockwork I would experience a huge dip as the bottom fell out and I wondered how in the heck I had been so cheery earlier in the day. I soon started a natural protocol to begin the work of rebuilding my adrenals and routing out my depression, but I also positively counteracted my melancholy with militant gratefulness and proactive joy.
Some people might think I am merely a Pollyanna. Truth be told I am, but I have been in the trenches long enough to know that I can choose to nurse despair or whatever reality I'd rather have.
I have found that when you are determined to look on the bright side of things you are pretty sure to bump into them. No, that doesn't mean that everything always turns out rosy, but it does mean that joy and happiness are not circumstantial, but an inside job. I know that reality to be true. When I choose to find joy amidst difficulty it always amazes me how quickly I get a platter full served up.
For instance, before Christmas I had a sinus infection that kept me down for over two weeks. My sweet husband put on one sappy Hallmark Christmas special after another to help me feel better. One silly selection in particular had me crying in my medicinal tea! As if a search light had been turned on suddenly I recognized some resentment I had been toting and due to the plot of the movie my heart immediately became softened and I was supremely grateful for the individual I had previously resented.
The tears quickly turned into laughter when I realized how ridiculous the who scenario was. Now if thats not funny, I don't know what is? God can use anything and any circumstance to rearrange our perspective, emotions and joy level. We just have to participate with the opportunity when it comes along and better yet create it through a willing, grateful heart. Who wouldn't choose joy over resentment, criticism and anxiety any day? The ticket it to be intentional about practicing it. It is a muscle that needs regular exercise and thankfully there is always something to be grateful for and joyful about.
You may be wondering what in the heck this has to do with today's painting? Art has to do with seeing and perspective. My life is a creative canvas that can't be compartmentalized. The reality of who I am all comes out in my work and in my play. I am a spiritual, intuitive human being and that is the only way I know how to roll, being. :)
Check out day 4 of the all the artist participating in 30 Paintings In 30 Days www.30paintingsin30days.weebly.com
is entitled, Excitement Stirring. This is done in acrylic on Bristol paper and is all about the excitement bubbling up on the insides as the New Year commences. You can join the fun, or check out all of the great work being posted at www.30paintingsin30days.weebly.com
This week I begin a Rising StrongTM group with wonderful women excited to dive into Brenè Brown's wonderful material that I am certified to facilitate. I have also been diving deep into planning the first retreat by The Delta Sisters this April, entitled, Untamed Creative.
This is along awaited dream for my sister and I to hold retreats at our family farm in rural Arkansas, 40 miles outside of Memphis. This first retreat will be a wonderful mix of art, great food, ambiance and powerful life coaching inspiration. I have been getting so excited just reading through the material and format. I hope some of you will be joining us for a great investment in wellbeing, body, soul and spirit.
Tomorrow begins the first full week of the New Year and I am rearing to go, booked solid and finally recovering from my holiday jet lag. I hope you all are as excited about the New Year and if not, you need to schedule a coaching session with me and lets get your hope and vision renewed!
Once again, for the third year in a row I am starting the New Year off with 30 Days of Creative Expression. However, this year I am joining hundreds of others from a round the world doing the same thing, 30 Paintings In 30 Days over at http://30paintingsin30days.weebly.com/blog
Join me for the fun of creating or enjoying all of the great art work from around the world.
Here was my first piece of the year, Happy Sailing done with oil on a 6x6 canvas. The top piece is day two, Contemplating Goodness done on Bristol paper with pencil, watercolor pencil and acrylic paint.
Happy New Year and happy creating!
Years ago I intuitively began to understand that for my extraverted personality type it was necessary to proactively plan and schedule fun in my calendar. Being the type of person that can easily focus on work, spending a great deal of time alone, (focus is one of my top five strengths) and finally looking up for from my easel, computer, or a client coaching session, to realize I’d gone long periods of time without social interaction and was feeling blue.
Instead of merely revering hard work, I recognized that in truly caring for my wellbeing, I was in fact responsible for planning fun and connection with others instead of hoping it would just roll in. I was responsible for fostering joy in my life.
I began to value this necessary nutrient, as if it were my vitamins. I began to understand that because of a need and value for connection, the way I conducted business needed to be relational too, or I was betraying my core values. It was then that I actually began to make changes in the way I thought about and conducted business. Thus, a long history of the groups I’ve started, facilitated, hosted or participated in!
Brown tells us, “The absence of love, belonging, and connection always leads to suffering.” The absence of these basic needs are prevalent in our society, manifesting through a kind of scarcity mentality that keeps one isolated, disengaged, shut down due to shame, and comparison. All of which lead to sadness and suffering. Awareness is the first step in making necessary changes for ones wellbeing.
Sometimes I’ve been more intentional than others about my need for fun and connection, but two years ago when I began training in Brenè Brown’s work I was delighted to discover Brown’s definition of Wholehearted Living, “Whole hearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.”
The interesting thing is that worthiness doesn’t just happen. Brown tells us that it must be cultivated. Hence, based on her research the ten Guidepost for Wholehearted Living defines what she calls a practice. Putting in place practice helps us, remember and reawaken to the innate worth and value already bestowed on every human life. Most of us could use that sort of awakening, which can't help but release joy into our being and joy is said to be the signature of a grounded life.
The two Guideposts that are very meaningful to me as an extravert and an artist and where I see many clients needing self-permission are: Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting go of exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth and Cultivating Creativity: Letting go of Comparison.
Our society esteems productivity as a banner of worth, yet worth is intrinsic and can’t be won by performance or production. Creativity is also intrinsic and yet as soon as one compares oneself to another the creative flow is thwarted.
In her latest bestseller, Rising Strong, Brown tells us that those who are able to rise strong amidst their struggles are the ones who have “developed practices that enable them to hold onto the belief that they are worthy of love, belonging, and even joy.” Practicing wholehearted living means, honoring ones needs, establishing boundaries to maintain them, and caring for ones wellbeing.
If you think that your productivity is a sign of your worth, your ability to push yourself to the limit, ignore your deep need for connection and belonging, you might be living from a place of scarcity, rather than wholehearted living. Take a moment to consider the ten Guideposts below.
What practices (not perfection) might you need to put in place for wholehearted living?
When I heard the question being posed in my spirit, “What does the 2016 model look like?” Those that know me well know that I have a love for banged up old vintage pickup trucks. Some girls dream of new vehicles, yet for years I’ve dreamt of old pickup trucks that show the wear of time to match my eclectic high heel and blue jeans, city streets and country dirt roads life. Needless to say, I was intrigued having never been the type to keep up with the annual trend in vehicles.
I love to eclectically blend the old with the new. I always have. Maybe it began in high school with my preference of vintage coats or my family’s creative bent and love for beautiful décor and design, but suddenly this bent seemed to be highlighting volumes to me.
The New Model
I knew hearing a question like that was for my benefit more than God seeking an answer to a question He already fully understood. I also knew it wasn’t an invitation to move into striving mode, to draw up a five year action plan for my “make it happen” personality type. If I’ve learned anything through this long season of transition, it's been sitting with the question and responding with, “YOU tell me, what does the 2016 model of Kimber look like?” and then inquiring together around the truest version of this year’s vehicle, usually a blend of some of the old original material and new design. That also means taking notice when my heart is resonating at its highest points.
As I've inquired and we’ve chatted, bit-by-bit, a spark of understanding has begun to light. As I’ve been willing to listen and learn to flow with the river, rather than force it, I’ve learned to let go of ill-fitting forms of transportation. I’ve become better equipped with a way of transportation initiated by spirit and inside out living, rather than self-will and ego. And even though my vehicle has been parked in storage for a time, I’ve sensed the engines being fired again and the gas to fuel the vehicle growing in power that is not self-made.
World Wide Delivery
This conversation began even prior to this question when my attention had been directed to the messages on passing trucks. As if there was a flashing light leading me, I was astounded to read, “God transportation,” “Fire Protection, safe guarding lives and property,” “United Parcel Service, world wide delivery, pickups, synthesizing the world..." As the conversation continued, I noticed a theme around parceling out packages.
And then the funniest thing began to happen, every time I ventured out in the morning, often at varying hours, I would see a parade of UPS trucks. The first morning there were four and the next time five and the most recent parade included twelve trucks!
I became giddy with anticipation around awareness of the abundance of gifts that have been parceled out and are ready for worldwide distribution. And like every child awaiting Christmas the excitement has been growing around the resurgence of seemingly dead dreams, dreams that have been set aside, buried and forgotten. There are an abundance of gifts and packages in route for delivery and those that thought they'd missed it, but have given themselves to a season of rest, listening and receiving, instead of striving, are about to receive new directives that might just include a little bit of the old dream, too!
The wait has felt long, but it has been a needful time of preparation. Now it’s time to allow the dust of disappointment to be blown away and to embrace the hope of what is to come as delivery has been set in motion. Even when the world seems hopeless and overshadowed with darkness there have been good gifts stored up within you! Vehicles (you and me) are being prepped and fueled for the road with a promise of delivery parceled out for the benefit of others.
This is a time to be on the look out for the true-new vehicle that you are in this season, the one that has been made road worthy and laden with gifts for delivery! This is a time for the hope carries to arise with their packages of joy!
It's been some time since I've posted. This year my words have been few, allowing my paintbrush to express what words could not say. Instead of a barrage of chatter, I've only wanted to speak words of life.
I imagine because of yesterday's routine medical procedure and today being 9/11, I've felt the strong pulse of The Muse inspiring new empathy and compassion. I am feeling the deeper invitation of the role we are all invited to partake in, the role of a tender technician and nurse protectors in a world of flaming towers.
Years ago I had encounters with Red Cross Vehicles regularly appearing in my neighborhood and surrounding areas. I received Red Cross brochures in the mail and even had a woman attend one of my home group meetings who ironically worked for the Red Cross. I went so far as to research the Red Cross's origin and discovered that it was originally established to bring aid and relief to victims of war. Even though I am not a professional nurse, nor plan to be, the significance of that fact has spoken volumes to me through the years concerning the wars we all face in our individual lives, not to mention corporately, as human beings, thus the poem that follows.
Hooked up to wires,
Warm blanket failing to insulate me from the flood of raw vulnerability,
A tender technician reads the uneasiness on my face.
Hospital lighting taking me back, unearthing tears I thought were all cried out.
Those last goodbyes and scars embedded like arrows in a families heart.
A routine IV prick and the thin veneer of a hospital gown have the ability to wobble ones demeanor.
Surrendering to the hands of strangers, skilled or otherwise takes courage. All I needed was a little tenderness.
Anesthetist erasing my awareness of my gown open wide, probing and disarming any knowledge of drool on my face.
If only the pain tape could be wiped as clean, the flames in those towers squelched, the diagnoses recalled, the wondering refugees planted in real homes.
Yet where would humanities' empathy and compassion find it's lexicon?
I applaud those nurse protectors, those soldiers with hoses dousing our flames. Those words spoken aptly in our time of need, cradling our wobble and soothing an ounce more of humanities pain.
If not for the courage and bravery to enter another's burning building, to stop in ones tracks and enter the barrage of another's flames, we will only increase in casualties on the battlefield of life. Vulnerability would never be spoken and true connection never made.
“What’s in the cave?” asks Luke. Yoda responded, “Only what you take with you.”
What one of us doesn’t enter the vulnerable dark cave of isolation, disappointment, anger, hurt and fear, alone? While standing face to face with the screeching shrill of our imaginings and italicized stories, we only truly face ourselves.
Many of us have spent a life time trying to out run the vulnerable darkness, redirect through pointed fingers, or flailing our way out of a deep resting look within, through busyness, perfection, attempting to control everything around us, acting out, or the sugary sweet niceness of denial.
As a child it was modeled and I was taught not to give voice, attention, or credence to feelings. Ever been told not to cry? It demonstrates weakness, or ineptness. Children don't understand that the admonition is purely sourced in the adult's discomfort of vulnerability.
Even as an adult I found environments that supported this kind of inner disconnection, therefore, I spent must of my life being a packer, tucking and stowing feelings and emotions, as if they were the enemy in hiding, best to ignore than stir up.
It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that society at large is uncomfortable with emotions and uses every means to avoid them. Take a quick look at addiction and you witness an emotionally stunted culture.
While most folks are working hard to avoid their inner world, there is nothing so freeing as to sit down with our stories, loosening the load of heavy-laden feelings that accompany them like a workhorse’s pack. When we say, “yes” to feeling what is without judgment, the grit and dust of emotion clouding our eyes falls away. In the end, emotions only have the power over us that we give them.
It’s only when we refuse to take the easiest and must comfortable route of packing and stowing feelings like the indomitable tick beneath the skin, that we can be at peace with what is right in front of us. As we bravely choose to sit with our emotions, recognizing and unpacking what we are experiencing, we will begin the empowering work of owning our stories and ourselves.
However, when our emotions have been shut down, we may be surprised to uncover the depth of incongruences that exist within us. It can be utterly alarming to discover the ways we’ve betrayed our inner world by complying with egocentric outer demands. To shut off our emotion is to attempt to compartmentalize our lives, yet as whole human beings we cannot cut off one part of ourselves without another part being severely affected and thrown off center. Sadly, many have never allowed the exposure of raw vulnerability to uncover their deepest, truest feelings.
I remember a time when I had convinced myself that it would be a good idea to attend an event, meet new people and build relationships. And so I spent the good part of the day rehearsing these points in my mind. Then all of a sudden a question arose from within, “Do you really want to attend this event?”
Suddenly I became aware of the fact that I actually did not want to attend the event though I had tried to convince my unsuspecting mind otherwise. When I gave myself permission to feel what I didn’t even know I felt, I instantaneously became elated with joy and the prospect of freely doing what was in my heart. I coached myself through the process!
Although this is a small matter, should I have denied this fact, or more likely been oblivious to the truth of my feelings, I would have acted from complete incongruence. Imagine the number of people that have entered into marriage, job positions, or a host of other situations without ever determining the truth of their feelings.
Feelings are not the enemy. We have them because they are powerful tools if we will recognize and listen to the information they are giving us. Instead of running from the cave of our emotions, what if we learned to befriend them and ourselves?
Through life coaching and the various upcoming creative retreats we will be offering, you can find the space to befriend yourself, your emotions and your story and walk in the beauty of personal ownership.
The Desert Fathers and Saint Benedict in particular held the idea that everyone should be honored and welcomed, not merely as an honored guest, but as a revelation of the Sacred. This means the poor, the traveler, those of different religions, social class, or education, offer an opportunity and a place to encounter God.
Imagine then if we held that kind of respect and hospitality for others, because we had learned to hold the same kind of hospitality for ourselves. Yet, most of us struggle with emotion. We live in a world that has taught us to suppress them and offers multiple of options for doing so when they pop up.
As I struggled and processed through a rough week of what have inwardly and outwardly often been categorized as unwelcomed emotions, I practiced the posture of welcoming all parts of myself, especially those places that have previously been rejected, labeled or ignored by others or myself.
The thing about emotion is that it causes the worst kind of vulnerability, emotional risk and exposure. Suddenly all the bobbers that had been tied down start popping up to the surface and most of us scramble to dessert until “normal” returns, yet popping emotion is actually normal!
Personally, I have never liked the randomness of excessive emotionalism, because I’ve been told my whole life by southern and religious culture to contain it! But when we stow and reject what we are feeling we cut off parts of ourselves and become people who don’t know what we are feeling. I’m learning to welcome these parts of myself instead of orphaning and resisting them.
You see acceptance gives me a choice of how I want to experience my emotion instead of reacting to it, which means I am being controlled by it. Instead of maintaining the stance of I’ll wait until the noise passes by, I am unfolding my hands from my lap of suppression, opening the door and dancing with my surprise guests, listening for the wisdom of what they have to tell me, instead of dubbing normal emotions as dirty little secrets.
What would happen if we were the friend that could sit with us in our despair or confusion, that didn’t try to quickly move us toward happiness, or oblivion do to our own discomfort? What if we were that person with sweet hospitality that could hold the line for ourselves and for others when the bobbers were popping?
By making space for those who might feel invisible and forgotten in their pain, we are saying that emotions like grief, anger, fear, are normal and not dirty little secrets that we have to stow away to make others or ourselves comfortable.
In this version of the poem, THE GUEST HOUSE, poet Rumi writes beautifully about this kind of inner hospitality.
Darling, the body is like a guesthouse. Every morning someone new arrives. Don’t say “oh, another weight around my neck”, or your guest will fly back to nothingness.
Whatever enters your heart is a guest from the invisible world. Entertain it well. Everyday and every moment a thought comes like an honored guest into your heart.
My soul, regard each thought as a person. For every person’s true value is in the quality of the thought they hold.
If a sorrowful thought stands in the way, it is also preparing the way for joy. It furiously sweeps your house clean in order that some new joy may appear from the Source. It scatters the withered leaves from the bow of the heart in order that fresh green leaves might grow. It uproots the old joy so that a new joy may enter from beyond.
Sorrow pulls up the rotten root that was hidden from sight.
Cashing in one of a series of birthday massages I laid happily under the hands of a skilled massage therapist, evident by the fine tweaking of stress carrying muscles and the release of tears that rolled down my cheeks. I often have spiritual experiences during massages and this one was no different, as butterflies appeared to flutter joyfully around the room. I felt free and alive and then suddenly an almost twenty year-old memory came flittering in.
It was another vacationers day of paradise except in our world. My cousin Jeffrey flew in with out stretched wings to rescue my children from the little beach bungalow in Santa Bell we inhabited until we discovered Bill’s excruciating headaches and garbled speech were a result of a brain tumor.
Like an angel of mercy, Jeffrey arrived in the middle of the night with tickets in hand to herd my four young children on a plane back to Memphis to my aunt’s house. Meanwhile, I struggled to manhandle our luggage and position my frail husband and myself on an airplane to Boston. We would then go on to Massachusetts General Hospital and begin to navigate the last five-weeks of our lives together, ending on that Good Friday when I said goodbye.
It was not sadness that accompanied this memory, but a breathtaking sense of awe around my cousin’s and aunt’s generosity that streaked my cheeks. Somewhere in the hours before Jeffery’s arrival, while struggling to stay in tact, family was orchestrating magic behind the scenes. My difficulty with asking for help had been superseded without even a request during my greatest weakness and need. This kindness was profoundly breathtaking even as I walked back down the corridor of jagged memories.
The butterflies continued to release newness with every wing brush, inciting questions and the ability to view my life from above. Who would I be if I had been able to receive these gifts of grace and not caved under my early conditioning and later church culture?
What if I hadn’t been afraid to receive that brand new car my granddaddy wanted to buy me when I was sixteen instead of insisting on the used one? What if I had been courageously unapologetic, settled into being completely loved so that I could have received every gift with wild excitement and open hands?
What if the girl that wrote edgy poetry and listened to Patti Smith, who wore wigs in comedic plays and sang in rock bands and musical comedy improve troops had not been dumbed down or, pushed in? What if I had always known that the giver wanted to give much more than I could contain and so I swallowed hard to gulp down every drop, instead of politely folding my hands to the appropriate?
Who would that girl be if her Good Friday world recognized the collision of every resurrection permission? I somehow doubt so well behaved and tentative in gulping.
These questions circled about me before landing deep within. And with every winged swoop I felt the waters rushing in and the waves rushing out with the grandest baptism of hope and release to soar along with those butterflies.
The joyful acknowledgment of complete acceptance frees us to never cower in the face of those happily grounded in their cocoons. Untamed hearts are free to gulp and fly.
Wow, here we are at Day 30! As a artist-life coach, I recognize the vivid correlation and creative tension between seasons that demonstrate life’s constant cycle of transition. Seasons allow for metamorphosis, design and recreating of our world. Understanding seasons is to understand a way of seeing, or sight into new realms. Seasons illustrate consistent change.
Continual transitions in life can take place from an inner spiritual reality before the move into an outer expression, but more often intermingles between both the spiritual and practical. Yet how often we try to divide life up into outer verses inner, sacred verses secular, practical verses ethereal when there seem to always be two paths intertwining and coursing through our lives. These are the paths of the sensual world of image, color, texture, movement and sound and the mystical path that lead us beyond words into a world we grasp to understand.
During times of change and transition it often feels to be counter-cultural as we mystically recognize the need to incubate, allowing our roots to sink down into the soil as our seeds winter over. The problem comes when we are pushed by driving counterfeit rhythms to keep up and so we resist the natural cycle life takes by forcing productivity and definition of that which is not ready to be defined.
A seed won’t bear fruit before its time and isn’t even distinguishable from another seed while under ground, yet it is still in the greatest process of growth amidst hiddenness. It is from the place of reconciling with our season that we align ourselves with the creation process.
J. Phillip Newell wrote in The Book of Creation, “Creativity without rest, and productivity without renewal, leads to an exhaustion of our inner resources.”
We are all artist invited to dance and create with the natural rhythms of life as in the hours of growth hidden in the womb before birth. How well do we nourish our creative and mystical selves through the spaciousness of unforced rhythms? How well do we allow for “being” rather than “doing”, for sitting in the darkness of the womb seasons so that we may learn a new way of seeing necessary to thrive?
It is from this cycle we learn to delight in discovery, rest in unknowing, and are released to be recreated in the shadows that ultimately give way to the light of possibility. This is where we learn to live and breathe in every breath allowed us, fully embracing the moment.
Art has always been a way of seeing, a place of rest and exhilarating action, while discovering answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. Art is the process of acceptance and allowance of any given season. While marinating on the full reality of love in the present, I am nurtured and guided into the wild of who I truly am.
Again, the wonderful 30 Days of Creative Expression this year have brought about new discovery and awareness, inviting me to dive in further into the joy of being me.
This time has left me unencumbered from “working to better something” and again free to dive into the question of what does it look like to live from the overflow of being, rather doing?
This theme began in 2012 when with a strong sense that I was to spend the year creating art and art only.
The word I got for that year of transition was "Hopeliciousness." Now I move forward on the wings of that hope into 2015 with the word, "Believe." I move forward creating with more joy and a deeper reality of a love overflow. The natural expression of this for me is releasing art from "being." Art is like a song that can't help but declare and can't help but be released. I'd love for you to follow along for the journey and share your take aways too!