Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 35 Searching

Ever lose your keys or your phone and you begin a mad search to find the lost objects? You experience a sense of panic and hysteria as you feel like a fool for misplacing these everyday items. When you do find the objects you laugh because you try and figure out how they got there in the first place, at times it’s obvious and others it’s like doing accident recreation like the insurance companies.

There’s another type of search, that’s one of an internal process. The one where you have a gnawing question that has plagued you for a while and you keep returning to the question. I found this to be the case while I was in therapy (I guess that’s why I stayed so long) and has continued throughout my meditation process.

I’ve been fortunate to go to grad school twice. The first was to get my degree in clinical counseling. This set me in motion to become a psychotherapist where I would help clients search for answers or at least revise the questions. It was an experience we co-created. The other degree is in Visual Anthropology. I’m hooked on narrative, and I explore how we create stories based on our life experiences.

I was fortunate to study with the Jean Houston. The course revolved around the story of The Odyssey. It was her interpretation of the work first brought to consciousness by Joseph Campbell. Her class focused on the inward journey, the quest and what we’re willing to do to find answers, and the perils we experience on that quest.

This year’s meditation has brought up a lot of questions for me. As we approach the end I’ve been thinking about the next steps of the journey. Unlike past years, this year’s meditation has been more provocative. It has challenged me to stay on track. It has encouraged me to use my creative voice to seek, to play, to grow. I like the idea of searching because it’s the equivalent of the Universe holding a carrot out in front of me as a lure.

The Universe is luring me toward deepening my commitment to my inner life. It is luring me toward a pilgrimage of self-expression, providing me with clarity. It is luring me toward creating a community of compassion.

I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but the search process is in full swing! Stay tuned!

Advertisements

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 34 Adaptation

Change is inevitable. It’s an unfortunate fact of life because I like hanging out in my comfort zone. I’ve gotten better with change as I’ve developed my ability to adapt. It took a long time, but I consider myself a member of the “go with the flow” club.

One of my most embarrassing moments was many (many) years ago when I was working in a restaurant. I had been at the restaurant since it had opened and we were about to install a new manager of the restaurant. I didn’t say more than a handful of words to this woman for about three months. Trust me, I’m not proud of this story. In fact, it was one of the key events that propelled me to go into therapy (shouldn’t be a surprise that there were a slew of other issues as well).

At one point in my meditation posts I spoke about evolution. I look at evolution and adaptation as partners in crime. The world will bring forth many new events, political, social, religious, just to name a few. Our response has a baseline based on past experiences, the values supplied by our families, the laws of the land, and the mores of our religious institutions. The only problem is times change, leaders change, we’re exposed to new values based on geography, or we find a faith and change our behaviors in accordance with the tenets of the faith.

Sitting in the studio I began thinking about how I must adapt in a world that is full of anger, prejudice, and fear. The easiest way for me to adapt is to speak my truth. I was watching a documentary today titled Rock Fresh. It is the story of graffiti artists who become commercial artists over time.

Their stories were inspiring because they stayed true to their vision. They had stories to tell and although in some cases they were considered vandals, they learned to adapt to their surroundings. They spoke about the importance of shifting from tagging to creating art with a message. These artists adapted to a world where these served a purpose in the communities where they created their art.

The protests covered on the news are the means people are using to adapt to the current social/political system. Non-profits like HRC, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU are receiving donations/memberships in huge numbers as the community adapts to the tyranny of a government that uses their bank accounts as justification for their hate filled actions.

I’ll explore this more down the road. I’ll adapt to my circumstances the best way I know how like being educated on the facts, supporting causes I believe in, and building community.

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 33 Focus

It’s said that focus is important for achieving your goals. Thinking about focus was a result of working in the studio. I’ve been working on a few pieces. Two are based on motifs I’ve been working on since the beginning of the Winter Feast for the Soul, and the other is an experimental piece.

Focus refers to attention. When I think of focus it brings images of a camera. I want things in focus because it gives definition to the subject. It gives parameters to what I’m viewing. When I focus I feel dedicated to my process. The interesting thing is focus makes things clear, but often my work is messy.

I remember attending an artist talk years ago at Plus Gallery. The artwork was abstract in a sense. There were some aspects that looked like it had some realistic roots, but it was as if Vaseline had been smeared on the lens.

The artist began talking about her inspiration and her process. A member of the audience asked about this particular show and her response cleared up the mystery. She explained that many days during the week she rides the bus. She would spend hours riding the bus with sketchbook in hand she sketched. The paintings were her vision of the road as she’s passing the sites while riding the bus.

I liked her explanation because it played with the concept of blurry focus. What I was thinking about today in the studio was that focus can be whatever I want it to be because it’s centered on what I’m open and present to at that time. The meditation allowed me to view focus about the experience than an exact definition.

My meditation is about focus. It allows me to focus on my breathing. It allows me to focus on my devotion to my art. It allows me to focus on creativity and storytelling. I’m thinking I’d like to meditate on being out-of-focus and see what surfaces. If I spend a meditation session on that experience I’ll let you in on my insights.

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 32 Awake

What gets you up in the morning? Is it the sunrise? Perhaps it’s the smell of coffee brewing. It may be the kids, a dog/cat, or even a simple alarm clock. Each day something gets us up and going to begin a day with some events planned and some unplanned.

Getting up just the start of becoming awake. I know I can get up in the morning in a stupor and it takes a while to come to my senses. I’m talking about my physical body, because my emotional self and my spiritual self are still in a state of limbo. I know I am awakened differently depending on the day and my life experiences.

When I walk Siba (my eight month old Bernedoodle) I am awakened by the sounds of the geese that hang out by the reservoir. I am in step with her as I hear her nails cross the pavement. I’m awakened by the wind as it rushes around me. I feel a sense of calm and peace while on my adventure. I believe it’s the same for Siba because while walking about the reservoir she’s calmer and more in tune with my steps.

My conscience has been awakened since the inauguration of 45. I’ve found my sense of indignation is alive. My disgust has risen to new heights. It’s not just me, all you have to do is read the headlines, including those about how 45’s party are starting to stand up for what they know is right (like requesting Puzder’s nomination be withdrawn).

I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries over the past two weeks. Documentaries are important because they shine a light on aspects of life I wouldn’t have a chance to see. It spotlights the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s like a Dickens’ novel, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

I know that we’re all individuals and each of us has that catalyst that awakens our soul. Meditating allows me to become aware of what awakens me. It provides me with an internal alarm clock that requires that I get up and do something. We’re in some troubling times, but knowing what gets you awake is a start.

If we all become more awake I believe we’ll achieve great things together.

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.

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 30 Power of Observation

Stand back! Take a good luck at what’s in front of you, what do you see? I don’t mean just what do you see visually, but what do you observe. When we observe we use multiple senses to develop the story of our experience. We weave cues from each of our senses to create a story that is truthful and authentic to our experience.

In turn, following our observations, we often use avenues of self-expression to share our experience. If you look back at various blog posts I’ve written over the years I always refer to artists as cultural anthropologists and the truth keepers. When we express our opinions, share our experiences, and thus contribute to humanity our lives become richer and the quilt of our culture becomes more defined.

I was watching the Grammy Awards last night and Jennifer Lopez started with the following quote from Toni Morrison, “There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” I’ve been thinking a lot about healing civilization because so much of our current experiences are rooted in anger and fear.

The power of observation gives power to our voices. It makes our existence necessary. I feel aligned when I’m observing. I catch subtle nuances of behavior, action, and intention. To some, it may seem that observing is passive, when in fact it’s quite active. It’s active because there is a cause and effect relationship. We observe and then we need to do something with those observations. I tend to bring my observations to my meditation and allow them to bloom.

I use my observations as inspiration for my art. Observation is a catalyst for my voice. It allows me to get clear because I’m rooted in my observations. I take my observations and give them the space they need to speak their own language. My observations have a life of their own and they take me on a journey. I convert the journey initiated by my observations and give them voice in my art.

What have you observed most recently? Where does it sit in your body, your mind, and your soul? Do you think it’s a powerful tool?

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 29 Experimentation

There are times in our lives when we try things that are supposed to be good for us. We try fad diets, adult coloring books, drink green tea, and learn to slam poetry as a way to express us. I believe that when we experiment we step outside the lines. We expand our horizons. Moving out of our comfort zone has it’s perks and obviously is not without its fears.

Today I started playing with stitches on my new sewing machine. The machine has 350 built-in stitches so I have a lot of options. What I find interesting while trying these new stitches is they evoke different feelings. They create moods. They accentuate and punctuate aspects of my art.

img_2829

I don’t like change. If you know me, or come to know me, you’ll see that I dig my heels in when change makes its presence known. I’m using the sewing machine and my art as way to ease into the realm of experimentation. I figure, if I can do it in my art, I can transfer that action to the real world.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m a risk taker. When I moved to California from New Jersey, I got on a plane one hot August evening with two boxes and a suitcase. I relocated 3000 miles to go to school. I didn’t know anyone in California, didn’t have a job, and didn’t have a place to live. This is an example of ultimate experimentation. Of course, I was thirty years younger than I am currently. You’d think experimentation gets easier with life experience, but I haven’t found that to be the case.

I’ve allowed my meditation to be a place of experimentation. I can experiment in thought and feeling allowing me to explore what frightens me, excites me, and challenges me. During these quiet and thoughtful times I’m able to go beyond my self-imposed limits. I’m able to experiment with the “what if” questions. I can live in the space of “as if” and I have permission and freedom to be and do anything I choose.

Meditation is like being a “life” mad scientist. I can be as sane or weird as I choose. I can explore the most conservative and insane ideas. I can dream and then land in my body. Experimentation in my meditation world is life affirming!