There was a time I was troubled by my inability to feel gratitude towards some people who were supporting me in huge ways, and perceived it as a dysfunction on my part. When I eventually accepted it as a reasonable result of those people also being the biggest source of my pain, any gratitude I tried to muster towards other things and people still felt superficial.
Then someone introduced me to the idea and importance of saying thank you to ourselves. I thanked myself for resilience, courage, patience, and for trying. It felt nice.
Lately I read about how trauma affects the body and the brain. I was brought to my knees realizing just how much our body and brain are infinitely more intelligent and complex than all my conscious thoughts and analyzing and problem-solving skills put together.
Over and over our body and brain go to work automatically, without conscious mental instruction on our part, to protect us, help us survive, and keep us alive. I think about every time the knife slips when I chop carrots and it hits the nail of a finger. I don’t tell my hands to move out of the way. They save themselves during 99.9% of my chopping accidents before I know it. Or when oil splatters from a hot pan and hits a quarter-inch away from my eye but never actually in my eye. Or like the other day I stumbled over a rock. By the time I registered that I was falling, my body had caught me. I was back in one piece and steadied by the time my thought was over. Instinct.
Too often we resent and punish our bodies for their shape, sensations, feelings, moods and emotions, and we forget the immense intelligence and power of our instincts and intuition. Neuroses, sudden flood of tears and even illnesses are often part of the body’s way of trying to regulate or remedy itself.
So, deepest thanks to you, my body. I’m so lucky to have possession and experience of this healthy, exquisite biological machine.
When life feels empty and I feel lost or stuck, I turn to…
It grounds me with a sense of existence and tells me that everything is still ok. It reconnects me with a sense of agency over my life. Art and life share these same questions: Where did it come from? What does it mean? Where is it going? How else can I do it? What else can I do with it?
Being able to create something out of nothing reminds that I’m alive and being alive is a miraculous mystery, like the birth of a piece of art itself.
I’ve not always been aware of the impact art has on me. But some of my friends have taken up art lately. They have articulated what art means to them, which enabled and inspired me to recognize mine.
I love winter. xoxo
Trying light and airy in this one…
I’m currently reading A Swiftly Tilting Planet, the third book of Madeleine L’engle’s A Wrinkle In Time series. The rune that Mrs. O’Keefe recites is ringing with me…
“At Tara in this fateful hour
I place all heaven with its power,
and the sun with its brightness,
and the snow with its whiteness,
and fire with all the strength it hath,
and lightning with its rapid wrath,
and the winds with their swiftness along their path,
and the sea with its deepness,
and the rocks with their steepness
and the earth with its starkness:
all these I place,
by God’s almighty help and grace,
between myself and the powers of darkness.”
Here’s a new painting I finished the other week. Another small one, 6×6 inches. Does it make you feel or think of anything? If anyone would like to offer title suggestions I’d love to hear it!
Meticulous as these mandala paintings can look, I never plan them out from beginning to end. I can’t. It’s like trying to draw a map of a place you don’t yet know; it’s impossible.
Each design is a combination of inspiration, choice and chance. You take a step (or a few), then you look. The painting shows you the next. It seems that when a painting seems stifled, like nothing is happening or working out, either I’m trying to control it too much and overlooking the opportunities, or I haven’t dared to commit to anything.
I love this painting because it’s a surprise. Looking at it now I don’t quite remember how I got there!
This is a painting I finished recently. This one seems to me to be about unknown possibilities. A beginning, waiting for something to happen.