Monday, April 23, 2007

Week Ten - Safety

Week Ten. Unbelievable! At this point in the process, I'm always amazed at how quickly time does fly.

When I think of the word safety, I wonder, is that even possible? For one, there's today's world and all the dangers that lurk. And then there's just life in general, accidents happen, life is fragile, where is the sense of safety? And then as a creative person, we dont want to simply be "safe." We want to risk, and stretch, and move beyond safety into the exhilirating unknown! Right?

This past week I've been struggling with the idea of a benevolent Universe. As much as I feed on synchronicities in my own life and the life of others, as much as I can feel one day that the Universe is winking at me, on other days or even other moments, I feel like it's all a bunch of crapola. I think I'm only fooling myself into believing such nonsense. And then the following day, I'll hear such a beautiful story of synchronicity that my heart opens for the millionth time to the possibility. So, I suppose that once again, this chapter is well-timed. For, I could use a sense of this kind of safety. Not necessarily a safety from harm or from things going "wrong", but a sense of safety in the fact that I am surrounded by a net of from family, friends, and yes, the Universe too. Throughout this chapter, Cameron shares stories of other artists experiencing their own version of this struggle. I feel slightly relieved in this. I feel so utterly grateful for all the good in my life right now Perhaps this is how I feel "safe", this waiting for the other shoe to drop, this too good to be true feeling. Perhaps what I desire, is to let that old belief go because it is no longer useful and open myself up to a new belief.

I do experience art as a mystery most of the time. I do feel, when I allow myself to get connected, led by my intuition in wild and unexpected ways. When I'm outside I constantly feel a sense of the sublime. I understand why Cameron suggests the walks, which in getting us outside, gives us the opportunity to connect with that feeling of being so small, that feeling of awe and wonderment. On Friday, I took a long walk and was thrilled to see my favorite trees, Magnolia trees, about to burst into flower. There was one on my street growing up and I was madly in love with it. Despite the timing for allergies, I am still so happy with the days in which the Magnolia trees bloom.

It's usually at this point in the process that I feel a sort of breaking point or a wall that I slam into. Heh, I just remembered that on my walk on Friday I nearly walked into a pole because I was walking and looking backwards at an old building that caught my eye. If you have hit that wall (or pole) in your own journey, don't give up. Even if you've had a "bad" week, brush it off and get back to it, write your pages, get out in the glorious sunshine, try those divining rods and be open to possibility. Me, I plan on opening myself up, as much as my heart can stand, letting the light in, and playing with the idea that as Rob Brezsny says, the whole world is conspiring to shower me with blessings.

How do you feel about synchronicity? What do you do when you doubt it all?

Some luscious linkage:

Article: Sharon Salzberg on Faith
Images: Stunning pictures of the Universe.
Poem: Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
Symbol: Lighthouses are known to be symbols of safety, comfort and hope.
Books: Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron, Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings by Rob Brezsny, The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark by Sera Beak.

Lots of love and creative juiciness,
Leah, Creative Everyday

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Truth and Perspective--Moving into Week 9

Lately, I've been reading a lot of Annie Dillard. It started with receiving an Advanced Copy of her forthcoming book, The Maytrees--and then progressed to a return to one of my old favorites, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Why am I writing about Annie Dillard, you ask? Frankly, I'm not sure except that her writing has been on my mind a lot. I read a chapter of her book titled "Seeing" the same night that I read Cameron's chapter "Uncovering a Sense of Truth"--and, together, they seemed to have planted similar seeds of thought.

My favorite sentence of all time is found in that particular chapter of Dillard's book and it goes: "Night was knitting over my face an eyeless mask, and I still sat transfixed." It might not seem like the most earth-shattering of sentences, but I remember the moment that I first read it. I was sitting on the porch reading by the light of the setting sun and stopped to read it again...and again...and again. The idea of night knitting over my face an eyeless mask describes the perception of dusk so perfectly--I couldn't get over it. Even now, just at the thought of it, I can almost see the darkening threads weave themselves over my eyes. In the same chapter, she writes, "there is another way of seeing that involves a letting go." And isn't that when we are able to see the most clearly--when, finally, we are able to loosen the hold and let go?

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about truth in terms of a way (or ways) of seeing. I've also been thinking that what we perceive as TRUTH is based largely upon the PERSPECTIVE from which we view our lives and ourselves. Last week Julia talked about reaching out and creating new connections. She inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and extend myself a little further. In the process, I've met a whole handful of new people in my neighborhood including Anne, the potter; Julie, the barista; Mary, the woman with two big dogs; and Kaji, the clothes designer. Of course, working at the neighborhood garden shop has offered me an incredible opportunity for new connections, but I've still had to extend the effort. And I'm glad I did--because it has resulted in a new and profound sense of belonging.

My current truth is that I am exactly where I should be at this time in my life. I have been so busy looking at the "big picture" that I forgot how important the little details in life are--and how much both of these elements effect the another. These days it is important for me to be outside, to write, to make new connections, to be physical, and to spend my time and energy on creative endeavors. By shifting my gaze I have started to see my life (and where I am at in terms of my life's path) in a whole new way. Sure, I still have my fair share of anxieties and struggles...but lately I've been feeling a shift towards the positive. It is a welcome relief that I attribute, largely, to a change of perspective. How fitting that Week 9 should be "Uncovering a Sense of Perspective."

This week Julia Cameron reminds us that "the Grand Canyon was carved a drop at a time" and that we must have faith in both ourselves and our art. A little at a time--we need to keep on keeping on--because it adds up. This week I'm going to pretend I'm an infant Grand Canyon. I'm going to try and let go of the tight grip I've had on my future and see what happens. I have a feeling that if I just allow the weather to work its magic, beauty is a distinct possibility. Anyway, as Henry David Thoreau once said:

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."

What do you see?

with love,

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Week 8 - Uncovering a Sense of Truth

What are heavy?
sea-sand and sorrow:
What are brief?
to-day and to-morrow:
What are frail?
Spring blossoms and youth:
What are deep?
the ocean and truth.
- Christina Rossetti, Sing-Song

This week we focus on tuning up our inner compass with more gentle grounding exercises to keep us on the steady path through all those things that threaten to knock us off the balance beam. Life seems to be constantly shifting between moments of my feet steady on the bar, to nearly losing my balance and catching myself with one leg and both arms flailing in the air, to gaining my balance again, to falling off all together, to getting back up again, to walking with ease and flow, to following one shaky step with another, all in constant flux. I like grounding exercises, I need them. I need to remember to do those bits of self-care, to fall back on the sensual delights of a hot bath, a foot rub with peppermint lotion, Aveda shampoo, fresh flowers in the windowsill.

I was grateful this week to read that Cameron's mental state was a bit brighter. I found myself getting frustrated with her darker chapters as I find myself susceptible to the energies of others. I'm usually able to take in what's helpful and leave the rest, but last week, I found myself annoyed. After venting about it a bit on my own blog, I realized that my annoyance might have less to do with Cameron and more to do with myself. When I get annoyed with someone, I've found that it usually relates to something going on within me. And a little reflection on this made me realize that, at least in part, my frustrations are centered around the annoyance I feel towards myself when I get depressed. There's that harsh voice in me that says to "just snap out of it!" That part of me just wants to shake myself and believes that if only I were smarter, better, something else, I would not feel so low, so sad, so useless. I think it's a combination of things, so I continue to be aware of that harsh voice and return to those self-nurturing activities and return to my art. Art is very grounding for me.

How do you ground yourself? What do you do to take care of yourself when that harsh voice makes an appearance?

"Art is a lie which makes us realize the truth."
- Pable Picasso

This week I painted a figure. It was somewhat planned in that it was inspired by a doodle in my sketchbook, but I always allow room for change in the final product. It never comes out exactly as I expect, and I like surprises. I hadn't pictured the figure as being blue when I started, I was going to make something more monochromatic in bright sunshiney colors. I painted in some blue shadows on her and added some highlights, but she remained very blue. Every time I adjusted the colors a bit, I came back to her being blue. I had imagined her being lit up by the spring's sunshine, so I was a bit confused about why she was so icey. But then I realized that she was still blue because she hadn't thawed yet. And it helped me realize that I was in a similar state, still slightly in winter-mode, still kinda blue, trying my best to soak in the sun and thaw myself out. This is one of the things I love about art, my subconscious comes to light there, it brings out of the shadows what I might have been hiding from my conscious mind (which doesn't like to admit depression factors into things). And I felt a sense of recognition and peace there, a feeling of acceptance for where I'm at in this moment. It's ok.

I keep thinking of that movie line, "You can't handle the truth!" when I read the title of this chapter. But I believe we all can handle the truth. Sometimes, it needs to come out in a more gentle format, such as in your writing, your poems, your morning pages, your collages, your paintings, your dreams and it's ok to open up and let it in.

Wishing you a week of feeling grounded and connected! I'd love to hear the ways in which you ground yourself.

-Leah, Creative Everyday