December 22, 2017

life challenges and changes...

As winter begins here in the hemisphere where I live, my little household has been dealing with health challenges that have forced us to slow down... but these challenges have also brought reminders of blessings, and support (seen and unseen), and priorities, and creative solutions.

As I recover from an illness at the same time my husband recovers from surgery, we're taking this time to rest, to be together, to be grateful for what we have, and to think about our next steps.

Before I got sick in November, I had been working regularly on fiction - and I'll be back to that very soon.

Fiction writing has been a through-line in my life for as long as I've been able to form letters into words. There have been some bumps in the road resulting in times not writing, but over and over I continue to get reminders that it's one of my purposes in this life... And I'm looking forward to getting back to work on my current project.

And although I haven't felt up to writing during this time of my own sickness and my husband's health issues and surgery, I did make it to canvas a few times. Only for short spurts now and then, but even that much helps me stay connected to creativity and the painting flow.

This has been a time of taking it easy. Resting. Replenishing. Nourishing body and soul and spirit.

It has been a time of finding creative solutions to deal with limitations of sickness and surgery... but we're doing it.

It has been a time of connecting even more strongly to my spiritual faith, trust, and knowing all will be well (no matter what).

It has been a time of love - love between me and my husband, love given and received to family and friends, reconnecting with people, and our cute Chloe bringing her usual joy and loving presence into our household.

And it has been a time of becoming more clear about how I'm being guided to live and spend my time, what I'm being guided to do, and what I'm being guided to let go of.

This feels like the right time for these shifts... I became another year older last weekend, the wheel of the year has just made another turn with the Solstice and we're about to shift into days lengthening but in winter's grip for a few months, and one year is about to end and another begin.

One thing I'm letting go of is doing work as Subtle Harmony.

Since 2010, my Subtle Harmony shop has been on Etsy with my crafts, creations, and offerings, and then a couple of years later it expanded to be my own Subtle Harmony website in addition to my Etsy shop.

But it's time to let go of doing my work under that name, and it's time to let go of doing certain work completely. Whether some of what I once did with Subtle Harmony will return one day... I honestly don't know the answer to that right now. Even if it does, it won't be with that name.

What I do know right now is that I'm being guided to focus on writing, especially fiction.

I'm being guided to continue to create - and at some point I may offer those creations again, just not with the Subtle Harmony name.

And I'm being guided to continue to focus on self care, soul nourishment, connection to joy, and living true.

What I do might look a bit different now...

But it feels very right.

September 27, 2017

a pace that feels right...

Sometimes it seems like I'm not productive. That I move like molasses. Or that I need to do nothing but rest (because spoonie).

Then there are times like this week, when I'm working on creative projects and house tending, and the novel-writing is happening and I'm painting and I'm getting things done - BUT - I have this feeling inside like I need to hurry, go faster, get things done more quickly.

Feeling like I'm in some sort of race.

Only I'm not. My time on earth can end any day, as is the case for anyone and everyone, and so if I'm in a race, it's a race against time in that way.

But otherwise, I'm not in a race with anyone or anything.

And usually, when I feel this way I know it's my anxiety at work.

Also... even though there are times when I truly am in a race against time, that's not the way I want to live my day-to-day life. It does amp up my anxiety too much. It does feel uncomfortable for me.

My natural pace is not (usually) a quick-and-fast pace.

And that's okay.

Except when the comparison-itis kicks in, which it sometimes does, especially if I look around too much online at what others are doing and posting and producing and being-successful-at.

So then I once again remind myself: going at my own pace, at the speed and time that suits me best, really is okay.

It is okay for me to go at my own pace. It is okay for me to go slow, to not rush. 

Last night I sat with the three wisdom cards I made, an exercise in an artist-and-monk class I'm taking.

When I made the cards, I asked the questions, I painted watercolor backgrounds, I chose and glued some collage elements... And then, when all were finished, I turned the cards over to see the questions - and see how each front spoke to the question on the back.

I finished the cards several days ago and I keep returning to them, sitting with the questions, sitting with the answers.

The living of those answers is guiding my days.

And the living of those answers reminds me that it's okay to go at my own pace.

Last night I painted, playing with watercolors on a journal page. And earlier in the day I wrote - because I'm finally (finally) focusing on one novel instead of the back-and-forth starts-and-stops I've had all year with so much indecision of which book to write next.

I had to choose, because I was getting no more books written otherwise.

But now that I've chosen, and now that I'm writing this story, I don't have to rush or hurry. I'm doing my best to ignore the go-faster feeling I'm starting to feel when I sit down to work on the novel.

I can go at my own pace. With writing. With painting. With the house-tending.

With everything.

Time here on earth is not limitless, but it's better for me to go at my personal pace than to try to rush.

It's okay to go at the pace that's best for us.

It's okay to just breathe and create and wash dishes and laugh with a friend - and not rush.

(I've been blogging along with Effy this month! (although I haven't been blogging nearly everyday - but that's okay!) Want to check it out? Just click here.)

September 19, 2017

the tug of doing or resting...

As I (slowly and gradually) combine my blogs again and move posts from my Subtle Harmony site to here, I'm at the point of this post - which I'm moving here and re-posting below, because although it was written in mid-September 2015 there are so many things that apply to right-now-time too.

Like the new moon energy (we have a new moon this week too).

And how I was doing some decluttering because the donation truck was coming through the neighborhood and we wanted to have some boxes of donations ready to be picked up (and yep, that happened this week too).

And how I was wanting to work on work/site/shop/moving-posts stuff (I'm doing the same thing again, now and over the next few months, making changes yet again - different changes, but still changes, and in the same areas as I wrote about in the post I'm re-posting below).

And - the tug of doing or resting. Yes, definitely I'm feeling that right now!

Coming across this post again, this post from almost exactly two years ago, has been like deja vu for me (except for the weather)... as well as being a reminder that sometimes self-care means not doing. 

Here's that blog post I wrote, originally published on September 15, 2015...

Do you ever feel a tug between doing and resting?

I think we all have times of experiencing this.

It can happen when we've got a ton of stuff to take care of, and we feel like we need to get it done...and yet we also long for a nap or relaxing with a good movie.

It can happen when our mind is flowing with new ideas for projects or plans or redecorating a room...but our body is telling us to slow down, take a break, rest.

Sunday evening was like this for me.

The new moon - and its energy of setting intentions and looking at beginnings. The air cooler than it's been here in months with the hint of the first taste of autumn on the way - and the freshness of the fall-like soft breeze stirring my own energy to do.

A part of me wanted to get to work on the beginning steps of shifting my blog to a new online home, craft more items for my Etsy shop, and declutter closets to gather things for the donation truck coming through the neighborhood this week.

And another part of me wanted to simply sit and breathe in the cool air. Relax.

Not do.

I knew my body needed rest. Rest, for me at that time, was more important than site work, crafting, or decluttering.

So, with windows and patio door open to let in the almost-autumn breeze, I diffused bergamot and frankincense in the oil warmer, lit candles, turned on fairy lights. And let myself relax.

In that moment, this was self-care for me.

Self-care is different things at different times. It's not always resting and candle-glow and essential oils. Sometimes it's being active, doing a certain something, eating a specific food.

The important thing is to check in with yourself, be aware of what your spirit is telling you and what your body is telling you - what do you need in that moment? What is self-care for you at that time?

That's true self-care.

It's not the same for everyone. It's not even the same for you all the time.

And sometimes it's doing - and sometimes it's not.

(I've been blogging along with Effy this month! (although I haven't been blogging nearly everyday - but that's okay!) Want to check it out? Just click here.)

September 15, 2017

something I know for sure...

Sometimes it feels like my life is lived out in this quote:

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.” ~Michel Legrand

So today's prompt/nudge from Effy's blog-along - What’s something you know for sure? - got me thinking about this quote, because while the above quote is true for me, there are also some things I know for sure.

To keep it short and simple, I'm going to mention just one thing, something I made into what was one of the first art journaling spreads I ever did, several years ago.

Even though I have times when I doubt this, even if I sometimes think this can't be true after all, deep down this is something I know for sure:

I know it for sure about me.

And I know it for sure about you.

(I wrote more about this here. And - I'm blogging along with Effy this month! Want to join in? Just click here.)

September 9, 2017

autobiography and creating...

I've had a few days away from blogging during this month's September blogging challenge as my energy has been taken up with weather and family and personal happenings.

As soon as it became obvious Hurricane Irma would mean evacuations for some of my family members - including my 88-year-old mother who lives in an assisted living facility on an island off the Atlantic coast - weather once again became a focus for me.

These days I give myself a lot of room, a lot of space, a lot of permission, a lot of grace, to release things, or back away from things, when that's what I need to do for my self-care, my joy, my well-being, and/or my life-stuff-happenings.

Before deciding to do the blogging challenge, I gave myself lots of gentle permission to skip days if needed, or stop altogether... just taking it day-by-day for myself. And that's what I'm doing.

Today I'm still texting and talking with family and friends who are in the path of, or being impacted by, the storm. I'm still keeping an eye on the weather news. I'm still wondering how our weather here will be effected. We don't get hurricanes where I live, but our weather can be impacted by them (with rain, high winds, tornadoes) and sometimes we'll end up with a tropical storm or tropical depression from a once-hurricane... and that's looking increasingly possible for us with Irma.

What's going on with the weather is very much on my mind and in my heart.

But I'm back to the blog (at least for today), and I'm posting something about today's nudge/prompt:

Share something you’ve created that feels like it’s a part of your autobiography.

There are several different things that fall into this category for me - things I've written, things I've painted, things I've made - but the first two things that immediately jumped to my mind are two particular paintings. I couldn't quickly find a photo of the full canvas for the first one (part of it can be seen as the header/graphic on the home page of my Subtle Harmony site), so I'm going to share a bit about the other one.

This one...

The photo was taken at the beginning of February 2015. Some of the painting was done in the weeks of January and first few days of February that year, but most of the many layers and components of the painting were painted in 2014 over a period that spanned much of that year.

That year was a year of dealing with the grief of my father's death in 2013, and the change and grief of my mother's move several hundred miles away and her entry into the world of an assisted living facility, and the grief of the changes in some family relationships.

That year was a year of a long physical recovery after a fall in January 2014 injured my right hand (and I'm right-handed) and my leg.

That year was a year of facing more losses-to-come as my beloved brother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer. (He passed away 14 months ago.)

Painting, and especially painting on canvas as I stood in front of my table-top easel, was (as it continues to be) solace for me and joy for me... even though sometimes there were so many emotions and tears spilling from me that didn't exactly feel joyful. Still, though, painting was where I turned. Painting was one of the main things helping me keep myself together.

There was a period of time that year when I couldn't do much painting because of my hand injury. During that time, I tried to paint with my left hand, or tried to find some way to hold my brush for at least a little while, or sometimes just painted with my fingers.

It was a few months before I could actually wrap my fingers around a brush (or pen or pencil) again, but still I found a way to paint. And once my hand was recovered enough to hold objects like paintbrushes again, I painted more and more.

This painting is autobiographical for me because it encompasses all of that for me: the memories, the grief, the injury, the tears, the trying to heal (emotionally and physically), the processing of all the feelings, the trying to be okay in the midst of everything, the giving myself permission to paint just because I love it and no matter how it looks, and the wanting to believe that all will be well.

The paintings I do on the canvases at my table-top easel are intuitive paintings, and I just let myself do whatever comes. Whatever color seems to want to be painted. However and whichever way the brush (or my fingers or whatever) seem to want to move.

I don't paint at the canvas for the painting to look a certain way.

I paint at the canvas for the process of it, for the doing of it, and for joy of it (even if I'm releasing some tough emotions at the time).

This painting holds the energy of that time, that year, in my life. It holds my energy. It holds my tears and my hopes.

And that's why it feels like it's part of my autobiography.

(I'm blogging along with Effy this month! Want to join in? Just click here.)