November 29, 2015

you will have created something...


Creativity matters. Making art matters.

It doesn't matter if you think it's any good or not. It doesn't matter if you make money at it or not. It doesn't matter if it's something big or something small.

It's part of soul-nourishment and self-care.

It's part of living a fulfilling life and connecting to your inner self.


"The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem.
 Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward.
 You will have created something."   ~Kurt Vonnegut

Create something. Anything.

Do it for your soul.




November 27, 2015

nourish nurture love...


Nourish your heart, your self, your life, your relationships, your body, your creativity, your spirit, your soul, your world.

Nourish love.

Nurture your heart, your self, your life, your relationships, your body, your creativity, your spirit, your soul, your world.

Nurture love.

Love.

Just love.

It all comes back to love.




November 16, 2015

the power of music and memory...


Late Saturday night, feeling distracted and unsettled, I picked up the remote and started clicking through tv channels.

I was stopped by Austin City Limits on PBS, James Taylor singing and jamming with his band.

My heart immediately lightened as I listened to the music.

~~~~~

You've got a friend.

It's the early 70s and I'm riding in the backseat on the long drive across the state to drop my brother and his friends at a church retreat before my parents and I spend a few days exploring Jekyll Island. I'm too young to join the teens at camp - our five-year age difference puts my brother in high school while I'm only in elementary school.

I want my brother and his friends to think I'm cool and interesting, but I'm shy and tongue-tied. As usual, I'm the invisible little sister. The quiet one. The weird one.

I listen to the radio as the road unfolds in front of us for hours.

Music is one of my best friends.

~~~~~

It's our song, she tells us as we sit around the table at Pizza Hut. One of our songs, I mean. He said it reminds him of me, and I said it reminds me of him. And it does, It really describes how we feel. We make each other smile, you know?

She's talking about James Taylor's Your Smiling Face. We're in high school, a group of girlfriends out for pizza and a movie. The rest of us nod knowingly. We've seen our friend and her new guy, the two of them smiling and laughing together, their blond heads close.

I love the time spent with friends but the high school years are difficult for me, for many reasons, and I'm not-so-secretly looking forward to the next phase.

~~~~~

As I watch James Taylor on Austin City Limits, Carly Simon comes to my mind...

It's 1987 and I'm in grad school, immersed in writing a paper that's due the next day. I study and work best with music blasting and my thick hair piled on top of my head, which means the radio is blaring in the 1-bedroom off-campus apartment I share with my black cat. I move back and forth between the typewriter on the old wooden desk I refinished several years earlier when I was a freshman in college, and the papers and index cards spread all over the floor.

Coming around again.

Carly Simon's latest song is playing and my body sways to the music as I sort through notes for the paper I'm writing. I moved out on my own when I was 20, living in a tiny apartment in my hometown, finishing college and working various jobs. But grad school is my first time living in another state, away from family, moving there alone with my sweet kitty.

I have a blond-haired guy of my own now, we've been together for a few years, and things are rocky with us at the moment. But although my romantic life is shaky, my social life in general is full and fabulous to an extent like never before.

Do I realize that I'll always think of my grad school time - even decades later - as one of the best times of my life?

~~~~~

I love this movie, I say to my husband as we snuggle on our couch watching Sleepless in Seattle on video.  It's the mid-90s, we've been married for several years by now, and we recently left apartment living to purchase a house. I didn't marry my blond-haired guy from earlier years; my husband's hair is dark-almost-black, one of the few physical indications of his Creek ancestry.

Carly Simon sings In the Wee Small Hours while Meg Ryan, as Annie, gets out of bed during the night and goes downstairs, her thoughts on Tom Hanks' character, Sam.

I nestle into the cushions even more, cozy and content in my own home, with my own love, watching the movie.

~~~~~

Listening to James Taylor also makes me think of Carole King...

The songs on the Tapestry album are embedded in my life's personal soundtrack. They are interwoven with my years, part of the literal tapestry of my life.  I played my LP so much it was scratchy; I played the cassette so often it was worn.

I think of those songs, memories of decades flashing through my mind, while I watch James Taylor sing on the screen.

I feel his music lift my spirits even more. And not only that, the music grounds me. It brings me more fully to center, more completely into my body.

Even as the memories pass through, I can feel myself in the present and enjoying the moment.

Enjoying the music.

~~~~~

By the end of the show, my mood was in a much different place than when I first picked up the tv remote.

Music can do that.

Music is powerful.

And so are memories.


direct link to video: https://youtu.be/ZLo1Camqa9s


November 12, 2015

replenish...

For the past few years, I've chosen a word of the year. Or - to be more accurate - a word has chosen me each year.

New Year's resolutions never really were my jam. But when I heard about the word-of-the-year as a way of choosing a word or theme to focus on and incorporate through the year, it resonated with me.

The words always seem to choose me, coming to me and fitting inside my bones with a knowing of this is my word. It usually happens when I'm not consciously thinking about a new word-of-the-year. And the words have always shown up for me sometime during the period of mid-August through mid-November... along with a strong nudge not to wait until the calendar year begins before I put the word into action.

(Not that these words aren't in action at other times anyway. But the word-of-the-year gives that theme more emphasis in my life - and my experience has been that the word, the theme, shows its light side and its shadow side as it teaches me, gives me its medicine, roots into my being.)

I carry all my previous year-words with me, as they continue to work magic and healing, as they continue to offer me lessons and guidance, as they continue to be important reminders and touchstones for me.

Nourish.

Clarity.

Integration.

Sovereignty. (The word with me this year, 2015.)

Several weeks ago, in the middle of watching a tv show and not consciously thinking about a word-of-the-year, all of a sudden I knew what my 2016 word would be. And just as surely, I knew I wasn't meant to wait until 2016 to embrace this word, this theme.


Replenish is the word that has chosen me this time.

When I google the word, these meanings come up:

fill (something) up again

recharge

freshen

restore

I'm already incorporating the word - replenish - into my life, on all levels. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. In my work, in my play, in my self-care, in my health, in my time.

My commitment is to replenish myself and my life. To fill the well. To recharge and restore.

In every area of my life.

And as I do, I'll continue to embrace previous words of previous years, because they're important too. Nourish. Clarity. Integration. Sovereignty. (And so many other words that are important to incorporate but haven't appeared as my word-of-the-year.)

Replenish.

Is there some area of your life that needs to be restored or recharged? Do you need to fill the well? Do you need nourishment and replenishment?

If so... what can you do today that would help replenish you?

Do that - whatever it is - if you can.





October 20, 2015

the hours of your days...

[Below is a slightly revised version of a post I wrote in the spring on a former site. This topic has come up in several personal conversations lately, and I decided to re-visit this post - for myself, and also in case it resonates with you too...]


Many months ago (almost a year now) on a late autumn Sunday afternoon, I got very quiet - inside and out - and asked myself about my life and how I wanted it to look.

I'd done exercises before, prompts from books or workshops, asking what I would do if I didn't have to think about money.

But that Sunday I asked myself a slightly different version of the question.

If we somehow had sooooooo much money that I didn't need to take money into consideration... how would I spend the hours of my days?

What would a typical day look like for me?

How would I spend my time on a "normal" day?

How would I spend the hours of my days?

Phrasing the question like this turned out to be more illuminating for me than other prompts of this kind I've done before.

My answers weren't all unexpected - but there were some surprising pieces.

I immediately started making some changes in my life, things to bring me closer to the vision (and the feeling) I discovered that day.

When I make decisions now, when I try to figure out the next steps to take, I go back to that day and remember.

And I also look (and feel) for changes in how I respond. Because what we wanted a year ago might be different in some - or many - ways from what we realize we want now.

Knowing how I would want to spend my hours during a typical day, without needing to take money into consideration, helps me stay connected to my core desires and what I truly want to do.

The key thing was being honest with myself. Really plugging into that imaginary-alternate-reality space of my question... and then getting very honest with myself about what I really truly would want to do, how I really truly would want to spend my hours.

Not what others tell me to want.

Not what I think I "should" want.

Not what I hear or read other people saying what they want.

(I've been consciously trying hard to get away from subtle forms of peer pressure, or group-think, or going-along-with-the-crowd (even the crowd that believes it's not "the crowd" but in reality - yeah, still "the crowd") ... and, instead, getting clear and honest about what is true for me.)

What I want. For my life. The hours of my days.

What would those hours of my days look like? And do the decisions I make - and the ways I spend my time - resonate with that? And if not, what can I do to be more in alignment?

So...

If you get very quiet inside and connect to the question and connect to your inner self.. how would you spend the hours of your days?

Knowing the honest answer to that question can be an amazing thing.





October 8, 2015

with just a smile...

Sometimes something small - even just a smile - can have more impact on someone else than we might think.

I hear and read a lot about people looking for their life purpose, their mission, what they're meant to do... (and I've thought about these things too)... and I don't think it always has to be some big or grand "thing." As we live our life, we live our purpose - and sometimes our purpose on a given day can be something as simple as just a smile.

Yesterday I had a stress-filled medical appointment. Health-related stuff (including doctor visits) is a huge anxiety trigger for me in general, so I went into that physician's office feeling anxious (and putting my calming tools to work - the breathing techniques, the prayers, the crystals I had with me). I felt self-conscious being out and about with my cane. I've been anxious about my symptoms, I was anxious about the possibility of bad news from the doctor, and I was anxious in general because it was a doc appointment so hello, anxiety trigger.

The front desk staff was courteous but curt, and gave me totally different information than I'd received in my phone call to the office the day before - which resulted in having to fill out forms I'd already completed and submitted online. No big deal but it meant I'd been given the wrong time to arrive (or the wrong info on either the phone call or at the desk) and it caught me off-guard. I started to feel rushed and flustered.

The other staff - once I was in the "back" - treated me professionally but it all felt so automatic and rote and non-personal. It's a big specialty practice with several doctors, most patients aren't there on a regular basis, and I can understand how it might be challenging to deal with so many patients, so many people, all-day-every-day.

And the time with the doctor was ... not good. He kept interrupting me, he got frustrated with me, and I got increasingly flustered and anxious as I tried to answer his questions. He sent me to another part of the building for a couple of tests, then saw me again in the exam room - and in the time between those exam room visits, as I did those tests and sat in a small waiting room before being taken to the exam room again - I had to fight back the tears... and it's rare (and I do mean rare) for me to cry in public.

Does your doctor ever make you feel stupid? That's how I felt yesterday. (I know, I shouldn't say anyone made me feel a certain way because I'm responsible for my feelings, and there's the whole No one can make you feel inferior without your consent (as Eleanor Roosevelt said) and all that) - but I ended up feeling stupid and flustered, and my emotions were a reaction to the way he handled the appointment.)

This wasn't my first visit to this office but it was my first appointment with this doctor - my former doc went into an even more specialized area of care and no longer sees patients with my symptoms. I'd heard this guy wasn't only a good doctor but also a good, kind person... so when my experience didn't match that, the self-blaming, self-kicking started up - maybe it was just me, maybe it was something about my personality, or maybe I was talking too much, or maybe I was being too sensitive, or maybe it was a case of a physician seeing a woman my age who is overweight and unemployed and honest about being anxious and he was thinking "unintelligent neurotic housewife here."

Or maybe he was just having a bad day.

I sat in the exam room the second time, nodding at what he said, trying not to let him see how upset I was feeling, and just wanting to get the hell away from there.

And then he left the room and a woman came to guide me to another part of the building to schedule some tests. When she came to get me, she smiled really big and then she said something and we laughed... And I felt better. For a little while, I felt better. We stopped at her work station and she gave me a sheet of instructions for the tests (what to expect, things to avoid) and then she walked me the rest of the way to turn me over to the person who would do the actual scheduling of said tests.

As she left me, she gave me a final big friendly smile and a soft touch on the shoulder.

My thank you to her as she walked away was full of huge gratitude.

Gratitude for her kindness. Gratitude for her moment of connection. Gratitude for her smile helping me feel less stupid and scared.

It reminded me of what I've said before, and truly believe.

We never know how much we might touch someone - or what a difference we might make - with just a smile.





August 27, 2015

calming the anxiety...


For a variety of reasons - some I can identify and probably some beneath my conscious awareness - my anxiety has been amped up this summer.

Some of my usual tools haven't been helping as much as they typically do. And sometimes I forget to use some of the tools I've learned and gathered over the years. (I don't know why, but there can be times in the midst of 'stuff' that I can forget that I know what I know.)

Around a month or so ago, I realized the thing this summer that's been absolutely calming my anxiety, every time, no matter what, is painting.

Playing with paint on the canvas.




Or in the big spiral-bound pad.



Moving the paint on the canvas or the paper as I stand at the table-top easel in my kitchen.



I'm still using the other tools in my "toolkit" of anxiety-reduction techniques that help me.

I'm being more conscious about returning to some of the tools that I'd been forgetting (or had let slide).

I'm focusing a lot on my self-care.

But the sure-fire way to still my inner trembling, to completely quiet my anxious thoughts and underlying feelings of anxiety - for me, this summer - it's turned out to be painting. More than anything else.

When I realized this was happening, I was sort of surprised. But I welcome the times of total freedom from the anxious feelings.

I've known for quite a while that letting myself paint was soul-care for me. Painting whatever colors seem to be calling to me at the time, moving my hand or my brush in whatever way feels good at the time, not worrying about how it looks, not wondering whether I'll show it to anyone, not being concerned what anyone will think if I do show what I've painted.

Just being with the paint and the painting. In the moment. In the flow. In the now.

Losing myself and my anxiety in the calming of painting.

Whatever does this for you - whatever stills the anxiety, whatever calms you, whatever connects you to the flow that helps you find your inner quiet when you need it - I hope you make time for that.  ♥