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Archive for March, 2013

Photo of lion sleeping on top of a 4x4

The Symbol of My Vacation (Photo from the San Diego Safari Park, March 2013)

The days after a great vacation can be pretty confusing for me. There’s the jet lag and the changes in temperature and terrain. Most of all, though, I find it difficult to prioritize and to get up to speed. For an entire week, I totally embraced LAZY, coming and going as I pleased, doing whatever interested me in the moment. Laid back. Relaxed. Non-productive. Ahhhhh … California!

I’ve been kicking up my heels in a sunny pasture for several days, and now there’s talk of a harness and plow. Really? Uh, I don’t think so! And so my rebellious nature begins to plot and plan for full RETIREMENT! Endless green pastures! No more plow! Oh, it would be heavenly!

Wouldn’t it?

I’m glad I know the answer. For me, there is no such thing as endless play. In order to really enjoy my time off, it needs to be exactly that: “time off.” It is actually the intensity of my life, of my work, that makes my play so very sweet!

So, today, as I stare down the mountains of mail, methodically work my way through pages of to-do’s, and once again juggle a demanding schedule, I do so with a smile on my face.

Why?

  1. Because I love my life and the work I do (after all, I have followed my soul’s passion for nearly three decades!)
  2. Because I have loads of great memories from this past week (more on that in my next blog), and
  3. Because I have another trip planned for July!

Life is oh, so good and FULL . . . pasture, harness, and all!

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A couple of weeks ago I received an email requesting artwork for a silent auction fundraiser for a local non-profit agency. The subject line began “Call to Artists ….”

My first reaction: “I am NOT an artist!” I deleted the email.

Within a few minutes, I searched my trash and undeleted the email so I could send it to some local artist friends. Afterward, I deleted it.

The next day, I was back rummaging through my trash. Clearly I was disturbed by this email! I began thinking, “Maybe … just MAYBE … I’ll contribute something.”

And then: “Oh, no! I can’t.” I decidedly punched DELETE.

At my art lesson, I told my teacher about the email, emphatic about my decision not to participate.

“Why not?” she asked. “You could do something. You’re ready.”

“Oh, no!” I blurted. “I’m not an artist! I can’t paint on command. I’m just playing around. I’m just learning. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing!”

I was so adamant, so sure. My heels were dug in, and I wasn’t moving!

My art teacher (who is also a talented art therapist) gently encouraged me to look a little deeper at what was going on. Before my lesson-turned-session was over, I began recognizing the extent of my resistance.

For the next 24 hours I was deep in process, but I couldn’t quite figure out the emotions of it all.

Then I watched Session 1 of an online webinar: “The Power of Vulnerability,” by Brené Brown.

As Brené talked about people trying their hardest to fit in, to be accepted, to be liked, I began to understand. She said that when we try our hardest and then fail to be accepted, the result is shame. We think, “I did everything I knew how to do! There must be something wrong with me!”

I realized there was some part of me that needed to try her hardest to create a painting that people would like. Deep inside I knew that if no one bought it, I would probably never allow myself to paint again. I had tapped into something that shamed me when I was six years old (and I didn’t paint again for 50 years!)

When I saw it, I was free to make an enlightened, self-honoring choice.

Over the next several days, I created a painting that I liked. I matted it. I framed it. I’m going to donate it. If no one bids on it, it doesn’t matter because the painting is authentically ME. I created it to please ME. I had fun doing it, and I like it. That’s all that matters.

And the idea of calling myself an artist is actually growing on me. I think I’m ready to try on “Beginner Artist.” After all, I obviously have the “temperamental” part down pat!

My painting will be on display April 18, 2013 during Charleston’s ArtWalk from 5-8 PM at Romano & Associates, 230 Capitol Street, Suite 200, Charleston, WV.

My painting will be on display April 18, 2013 during Charleston’s ArtWalk from 5-8 PM at Romano & Associates, 230 Capitol Street, Suite 200, Charleston, WV.

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Acrylic painting

I painted this picture to remind myself of the beauty that lies just beyond the darkness

Lately I’ve been feeling off, down, exhausted, sad. Usually, I’m not much of a crier, but this morning at the cottage, I wept. It’s a safe, nurturing place. No one asks me what’s wrong. No one tells me how to feel better. It’s quiet. It’s warm. There’s coffee. And sometimes I cry.

If a coaching client came to me feeling like this, what would I say? I would say, “Tell me about the sadness, tell me about the tears.”

There’s so much going on right now! Dannie’s cancer, Debbie’s death, Britain’s escalating interviews with the Army recruiters (for Special Forces, no less!) My sister-cousin is struggling with SAD. My close friends are talking about moving to Florida. My laptop won’t connect to the network, and my car is leaking antifreeze.

But the work of life goes on. Payrolls need to be processed, bills must to be paid, groceries bought, food prepared, dishes washed, rugs vacuumed. I have a full life that right now feels full of “have-to’s” instead of “want-to’s.” I paste a lame smile on my face, and when people say, “How are you doing?” I say, “Okay,” which is a bit of a stretch, but accurate enough not to be a lie. “Fine” would be a lie. “Okay” makes the cut.

The exhaustion comes from holding back the tears, I think. And from holding back the scary thoughts, from keeping my mouth shut when I want to scream, from summoning that damn smile.

At the cottage, I stop holding things back, and the tears erupt in a cloudburst, accompanied by thunder and lightning. It feels like it will rain forever. Buckets of rain. Waterfalls off the hillsides. Puddles in the streets.

But then it lets up and it feels good. It feels “sleep-after-insomnia” good … “shower-after-grubby” good … “spring-after-long-winter” good.

Gradually my ordinary life, challenges and all, feels satisfying once again, and the warming rays of gratitude begin to brighten the corners of my life.

Sometimes it just takes a good downpour to lighten the weight of the clouds, clear the air, and prepare the ground for new growth.

Oh, and that smile on my face … it’s the real thing now.

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