Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 31 Risk

Yesterday I spoke a bit about risk when I shared my experience moving cross-country without knowing anyone, having a job, or a place to live. What I didn’t share was that I moved cross-country to attend graduate school. I took a lifestyle risk for a dream. I risked the comfort of my friends and family on the east coast so I could pursue my goal.

It’s interesting that risk is often meant that the stakes are high. I think of “risky” behavior, risk assessment, managed risk (which to me is an oxymoron). I went back to working on a piece that is very different than cutting out small motifs; it entails painting on the fabric before a stitch was ever entered into the equation. Its bright colors are in my wheelhouse, but the techniques I’m using were a “risk”.

Discussing risk refers to doing something out of the ordinary.   Fortunately, I don’t have to finish the piece if I don’t like it, I can simply call it an experiment. The risk is about stretching my consciousness. It’s about doing something that is unexpected, for me. It’s an opportunity to say something different. In some ways, what I think I’m saying is, the risk is being more vulnerable. The risk is showing my “true colors” and in many instances for all of us that’s a huge risk/gamble.

When I’m in the studio meditating, it’s safe and secure. The most dangerous thing in the studio is my rotary cutter (an accident waiting to happen, that’s a story for another time) and my own thoughts. Do I put myself at risk being alone with my own thoughts?

I’ve had my share with depressive moments. Over the years my art has allowed me to risk above the darkness. The risk of being alone with my thoughts can be scary at times and often filled with darkness. I believe that’s why meditating on these questions in my studio is imperative because it’s filled with light, both figuratively and literally.

Don’t underestimate risk! Risk along the journey is a catalyst for expanding my consciousness. It’s the kick-in-the-pants that lead me to the next question. You won’t see me jumping out of an airplane anytime soon, but delving down the rabbit hole seeking answers is a risk that I’m willing to explore.

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Winter Feast for the Soul: Day 8

On every journey there is a starting point and a destination or end point.  Our modern technology allows us to enter two locations and we’ll be given a map leading us from Point A to Point B.  In addition to the directions we’ll be told the miles and about how long it will take us to make the journey.  Wouldn’t it be nice if everything in life were that way?

As I entered the studio, my sanctuary, I discarded anything and everything that would keep me from being present and sat down to begin the day’s journey.  As I work on the piece I realize that this isn’t a rush to the finish line, but more of a meandering down the fabric.  The piece will be stitched in the time it is supposed to be stitched. 

I like to have music without words playing during my practice period.  I’ve always loved music and the two art forms seem to blend well together.  While stitching I’ll re-thread my needle as necessary and begin at a new point each time as I work to cover the fabric with stitching.  Without being conscious I realized that each day I’ve selected an arbitrary point to stop my daily practice. 

Today I happened to look at the iTunes counter and noticed that I had just completed 40 minutes.  I didn’t have a timer.  There wasn’t any external means of determining time.  My natural rhythm and internal clock are able to tell time just by being present.  I’m not getting caught up in clock watching, but my body knows naturally when the practice period is done and it selects the stopping point for the day.

The magic of being in alignment.

Blessings to you…

The Studio as Sanctuary

If you grew up or are currently practicing a particular religion you know the power of the sanctuary.  There is something quieting and comforting about crossing the threshold.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a parallel universe, but it’s close.  When in the sanctuary the surroundings, the people, and the ritual makes the experience important on many levels.  The sanctuary is the place of calm, contemplation, and consideration.

If you’re an artist and you look at your work as part of your spiritual practice, and you don’t go to a synagogue, church, mosque, or other religious house of worship, how do you achieve that same experience?  I know for me something happens when I cross the threshold of my studio.  The opportunity to walk into a sacred space that speaks the language of thoughtfulness, creativity, and openness makes it an ideal space to be consecrated as a sanctuary.

When working with artists who are having difficulty getting themselves to the studio the question is what questions are you contemplating that need answers?  Can you think of any place more appropriate than the studio as sanctuary to give you the peace you need to hear the tiny whispers from your soul?  Making the studio a sanctuary takes intention.  It’s not something that simply happens; it’s something that evolves.  What would you put on an altar in your studio?  What purpose does this altar have in your studio space?  How do you initiate yourself when you walk into the studio? 

A few years ago I had a client who was struggling with making the transition from tech person to artist.  He understood the importance of giving meaning to crossing the threshold but was unsure how to accomplish the action.  In the end he decided to change his shoes before walking in the studio (which was in his home).  He bought a pair of fun and funky hi-top sneakers.  Crossing the threshold now had meaning.  The music he played while creating his work was emotionally and spiritually evocative adding to his creative mindset.

Give yourself the gift of a sacred space when creating art.  Having your own personal sanctuary is a blessing!