discernment

drishti

A moth chooses when to fly by the pheromones of other moths drifting through the air, the direction of the wind, the innate sense that its wings are ripe and ready. A moth always aims for light. A moth knows that its sole (soul) purpose is to create before its time is up.  

What if we all approached discernment in this way? 

an intention chose me

It’s that time of year…  when we’re ready to let go of what’s trailing behind us from time gone by and launch ourselves into new intentions, goals, and resolutions. It’s a time for savoring our beloveds, envisioning how we want to show up in the world, awakening dreams that may have been dormant for a while. 

I’m not a believer of resolutions. For me, they have this habit of eventually leading me to abandon ship at the first sign of failure to be perfect. I like the gentle persuasion of a good intention instead. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have fierce goals. For example, my biggest one for the coming year is to finish my book. But intention is about the journey, not the destination. It’s about practicing rather than becoming an expert. It’s about how I want to be or feel while completing my manuscript, but also in general. It’s about the tools I need to gather along the way in order to make it happen, and the courage it takes to forgive and love myself if for whatever reason I don’t make it happen. Because let’s face it. Life is particularly full these days for most of us, and has a way of nudging us off course when we least expect it with things we have no control over. Beating ourselves up about that seems counterproductive to me. 

I was having a difficult time choosing my intention this time around. I have found my last two were perhaps too specific for covid times. Emergence in 2000 was a major stretch as we all went into lockdown, and belonging in 2021 wasn’t easily fulfilled either, as we all struggled to strike a balance between re-connecting and staying careful. Because intention isn’t about a destination, they still worked, mind you, at making space for those things in my inner world. But I’ve been longing for an intention that can ground me more both on the inside and the outside. 

I usually choose an intention in November, but it just wasn’t coming to me. I tried to get quiet and tried to feel it in my body. I sat at my altar and emptied my mind. But nothing felt right. Nothing felt capable of transcending all of the chaos happening around me and the overwhelm I felt from the mess the world is in. Nothing felt both spacious and solid enough. 

But one thing I know for sure is that when I can’t decide on an intention, an intention will choose me. Sometimes it’s while I’m cutting pictures out of magazines to make a dreamwheel, and sometimes it’s even more random and mysterious than that. 

Several weeks ago, I rearranged my studio. In so doing, I had a bowl of writing prompts on little pieces of paper leftover from a writing class that I decided to toss into the recycling bin. Like the mischievous feather that floats around in Forest Gump, one of those slips of paper escaped and landed under our kitchen table, and sat there for over two weeks, undiscovered by Juniper, the puppy who I’m sure would have eaten it had she known it was there, and somehow not swept up by Deena in one of her cleaning binges. One morning in December, I dropped one of my vitamins and when I leaned down to pick it up, there it was! Trust.

It didn’t roll across my tongue the way I usually like my intentions to, but immediately, I knew I had been chosen. It landed in my gut with an aha and fit me like a snug pair of flannel pajamas. I knew it would guide me, teach me, and open me up in ways I hadn’t imagined for myself. I still have yet to discover all of the ways it will show up significantly in the coming year, but I do know that I’m needing to re-learn how to trust myself, for somehow or other, that ability has gotten a bit piddly as of late. I’ve gotten into the terrible habit of over-thinking, over-explaining, and over-apologizing. Gotta let that shit go. And I need to trust more in the flow of everything and not worry so much. So yea, there’s that. 

There’s more there, I know it, yet to be seen and understood. But it’s a beginning.  

the great shuffling up

It’s December… and I can already feel myself inhabiting my studio in a different way, one that speaks of hibernation, stewing, rediscovering my heart. I had the urge to rearrange the furniture, make a sunny spot for working, catty-corner my desk so that I can feel the warmth from my sweet little space heater/woodstove-wannabe while I write, create a cozy spot for journaling and dreaming and a wide open space for dancing, yoga and qi gong, and spreading out on the floor with the pups while ruminating on our future dream farm. 

And now the rearranging bug has hit the rest of the household. I’m close to certain that if my honey has her way, she is going to instigate some sort of drastic swapping of rooms over this coming weekend, which might entail moving our little home-gym and a new paint-color in our sleeping space. 

We’ve always been somewhat smitten with change, she and I. When we were younger, we would move to a different house every couple of years, savoring the process of unpacking boxes and setting up our home with fresh eyes. We’re getting older now, and moving is a pain in the ass. Rearranging the furniture and getting rid of stuff we no longer need is the next best thing. This urge surely comes from wanting and needing to stretch ourselves beyond what we consider normal, get out of our tired and boring routines and to gracefully meet the requirement of letting go of things that are familiar and snug to make room for whatever our hearts might be yearning for next.

It hasn’t escaped me that this propensity for switching things up might also be a way of trying to keep up with the shifts and adjustments and modifications that life throws at us on a daily basis. There’s SO. MUCH. There’s a son, living on his own, learning to drive a car and applying to colleges in Florida, and a daughter who I so rarely see these days because she is busy making a masterpiece of her own life. There are the aging parents, and the desire to be held and taken care of by them as if we were still children, alongside a sense of urgency to travel to Virginia and Indiana to take care of them by driving them to all of their doctor’s appointments and making them home-cooked meals. There’s that overwhelming midlife theme of not wanting to let go of the sweetness of the past, and yet, feeling like there’s not enough time left to do everything we want to do. There’s covid and all of its straggler variants that make life feel so very fragile, and the shit in the news, like school shootings and idiots trying to end the right to abortion, that make life feel so very broken. There’s just so friggin’ much to worry about these days, isn’t there? 

However, worry is not sustainable. Focusing on how fragile it all feels is not sustainable. And so we shake things up. Make a stink. Challenge the status quo. Rearrange the furniture and paint the walls a different color. Not necessarily in avoidance of the worry, but to invite in the question of what might bring us a whisper (or a cacphony) of joy in this moment? What feels loving in this moment?What inspires hope?

 I suppose I rearranged my studio because I wanted to rearrange everything, inside and out, from the state of the world to my own inner workings. I wanted to watch the garbage man drag away everything that is stagnant or harmful, and tuck the things I love into their rightful places, so that life itself is a sanctuary of meaning, of light and warmth pouring through the shadows and onto my feet, of space to dance and play with the dogs and celebrate all of our good fortune, despite how delicate things might appear on the surface. 

balance

There’s nothing like a day in the studio…. music turned up full blast, paints spread out all over the table, my sweet puppy Juniper growing more and more annoyed with me that I’m not playing with her. It’s been a while since I’ve put a whole lof of energy toward my art. I’ve been obsessed with words instead. But my recent announcement that I’d once again be offering drishtis this year changed all that. I’ve had a handful of orders so far, with others possibly on the horizon, and I really needed to create some balance within my creative endeavors. That being said, I have to remind myself that it’s not about perfect balance. Some days, a particular chapter I’m working on grabs ahold of me and won’t let go. Other days, burning or painting is highly addictive. And some days, I’ll completely fall on my face and find myself trying to ease the overwhelm by vegging and watching Netflix. But if I keep myself moving forward in one way or another, I can usually stay grounded in my work. Imperfectly.

So I paint a little here, write a little there, hoping that by the end of the day, I’ll feel somehow complete with what I’m accomplished. Which is not always the case, but it’s something to strive for…

these times

These are strange times, aren’t they?

It seems only fitting that as the days get shorter and the leaves cascade into rivers of oranges and reds and browns that I would begin another blog, as it’s that time of year when I feel sentimental, inspired, and a little bit regretful, all at once. Especially after the last couple of years of covid.

I seem to have formed this mindset my friend Jennifer Louden calls “why bother” in her newest book. Mid-pandemic, on a whim, I decided to do away with my website altogether, leaving me no way to share my creative process at all, and this piece in the photograph sat on my easel for months untouched. There was a strange incompleteness to just about everything as we all stood by, waiting for life to become normal again.

Menopause and being in mid-life might have contributed to that as well, I suppose. It seems that I’m neither here nor there… but rather stuck somewhere in the middle of everything.

The blessing in all of that is that it has given me the mental space to write, and write in a focused yet gentle, non-pressure-y way. I can actually see the end of my book in sight, but it’s a bit scary to say that outloud. I just can’t put a timeline on it for fear I might disrupt the flow. There are days when I write multiple pages, and others I’m lucky to write a paragraph. To that end, the temptation is to surrender to the call of winter approaching, wishing for snowdays so I have yet another excuse to not have to engage with the world beyond my studio door. I love to hibernate. But something is nudging me forward, telling me it’s time to emerge from my veritable cave– perhaps on tiptoes (shhhhhhh)– as quietly and softly as possible. And with the recent facebook debacles, I can’t see that being a sustainable way to stay connected over the long haul, so I thought I’d re-imagine my internet home and see what happens. Not from the ground up, and nothing fancy. Just some check-ins, some sharing of works-in-progress, and perhaps some art offerings (check out my gallery! I’m opening up my heart and my time to working on a few drishtis for 2022 if you’re interested!). If you want to stay connected if and when I decide to do away with my facebook account like I did with my website, you might want to sign up to receive updates from my blog. Easy peasy. Just add your email address below.

So welcome. I hope to share something atleast once a week, but my book is my priority right now, so please forgive me if I skip a week here or there. And admittedly, I have no earthly idea what I’m doing, and I’m an emotional mess. But then again, my memoir is all about seeing my sensitive side as a strength, not a weakness, so to hell with it. There is so much uncertainty out there right now that we’re a bit more tender than usual, right?

“The very idea that you’re too kind, too sensitive, too emotional, too enthusiastic, too loving is bat-shit preposterous.”

~Meredith Marple

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