Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weekly Reflection (Week 18): Why do I bother?

What keeps me returning to this practice?

So I am blaming my disjointed mood upon the weather that feels more like Scotland in the Spring complete with constant drizzle and chilly temperatures. I swear, if I squint, the gray clouds really do have puffy cheeks as they blow their strong winds directly into me. It is also the end of the semester at work and even though my schedule remains the same, there is this quiet lull which is unsettling after the frantic pace of finals week. There is this sense of Now What? in the air which seeps into my consciousness.

So yesterday I was pondering this weekly reflection post when this rebel thought crept into my mind: why not just skip it? The door was then open for me to consider "Why am I doing this in the first place?" and "If I stopped it, would it really matter?"

It is funny how this process has shifted and changed for me. Originally, I had intended the reflections to act as a prompt for an art journal page. Nothing too serious, but tapping into my daily life and hopefully acting as a visual record of my thoughts throughout the year. Then the writing took over from the art journaling although there have been times when the two have danced in synch together. But now I wonder if this is all too much navel gazing?

The BeItLiveItDoIt (BILIDI/April In Paris) course this past week was all about the obstacles that manifest whenever we are working towards a change, a dream, a goal. What struck me immediately was the fact that the stumbling blocks that manifest are exactly what Patanjali writes about in the Yoga Sutras in regards to practice. Fear, doubt, inertia, loss of faith, loss of ground gained, sickness, apathy are all hindrances that we can expect to face on any journey. Even though I know these hindrances are part of the process, I am always knocked off balance when they arise. Instead of showing doubt the door, I offered it a cup of tea and entertained its defeating ideas.

Okay, so I didn't even intend to go down this path today! Surrendering to the flow of things sounds so simple but requires skill to practice. The skill needed is bringing myself back to my center and back to my intention for myself and for my life. This is where my Vision Banner has already proved invaluable. Reading through other peoples comments and experiences in BILIDI I hit upon this shift in my thinking. I actually thought someone else wrote this but now re-reading the comments, I see I twisted things around to suit my situation. The issue was the quest for one's creativity to support them financially. Doing what one loves and making a living off of one's art sounds great, right? Well, I know a little bit about the grass over on that side of things and I'll just say, I know this is not the solution for me. At least, not now. But what I realized was instead of thinking about my creativity supporting me, the issue at really is: how am I supporting my creativity?

Things that make me go "Hmmmm..."

or ribbit, ribbit

I recognize I am in a wonderful phase of exploration with so many tools - writing, art, photography - available to aid me on this journey. If I want creativity to inform my life, I must first pay homage to it. I must show up for her every day with sleeves rolled up, ready to dig in and get to work. I have to walk the talk and acknowledge there will be messes, there will be mistakes, there will be moments when the forest and the trees are all muddled up and I am completely lost. So lost, that navel gazing may be the only fruitful thing I can do in that moment. But if I want creativity to thrive in me, I must provide fertile ground for her to grow.

What type of soil does creativity require? I am thinking Openness, Willingness, Fearlessness, Passion, and Commitment. The antidote to the hindrances I will encounter is very simple: Practice. And more practice. And more practice. Practice and then surrender to what arises. Surrendering to the flow does not mean I stop paddling; it is knowing when I can move through a current and when have to yield to its force.

So I am paddling away here (don't you love my mixed metaphors? rivers, gardens, navels and frogs) and I now see Doubt sitting back on the side of the river waiting for someone else to float by. And while I continue to believe the ground I am making will be rich and fertile enough to allow creativity to spill out into all aspects of my life, I am also embracing this revolutionary notion raised by Marisa on Creative Thursday : I am a thriving artist. Here is my spin:

So now I am pondering (perhaps my next reflection?) how exactly is this artist choosing to thrive? How can I/how do I embrace and express this notion? I do know this - for any garden to grow sun, storms, wind, heat and cold are all necessary. The oyster needs the irritation of the sand to make its pearl and a little adversity in my life (okay, in my thinking) can only strengthen my effort and resolve.

So to sum things up: practice, thriving, irritants and I'll add trust. This is something Cowgirl taught me the other day. She has brought home 6 little starter pots with different seeds from school. She explained to me that now we could save money by growing some of the food we need: corn, green beans, watermelons and pumpkins being our future diet. A couple of days later we were at the store and as I reached for a bag of green beans she reminded me: "Mom, you don't need to buy beans - I am growing them, remember?"

Yes, she is already a master gardener, artist and dreamer.

For more inspiration on gardening and thriving creatively, check this post out by Andrea at ABC Creativity. No mixing of metaphors there! And if you are looking for others to help you weed, fertilize and harvest your creative flower beds, check out Art Journal Love Letters and become a part of an amazing group sharing the love and joy of artful play.


  1. ohmygosh.
    a thriving artist live here.
    love it!
    and thanks for linking to me :)
    this time of year, i can't get enough gardening metaphors.

  2. I always find so much to think about in your posts - especially this weekly reflections one! Don't stop!
    I can so relate to many things you said. And I know I need to practice - a lot! And I always find reasons to avoid it.
    Thanks for all the interesting links as well.

  3. Wow! What a thought-provoking post. So much of it resonates with me. "How am I supporting my creativity?" Wonderful question to ponder. I also posted something on this theme today. May your garden be fertile and yield many creative fruits!

  4. I can relate so much. I love your inspirational and lovely blog.....

  5. Dear Lis-thank you SO much for your inspirational words, your kindness, your encouragement-it is SO very appreciated. Truly...you have no idea. I hope you, you too, had a great Mothers Day-it looks like you did-what a cutie your little girl is-so SWEET (I can tell in her eyes)...but then...you are her mom:) I am so glad that you signed up for Kelly's class-it is so exciting...I can't wait-seriously! we are all going to learn so much. I would love to grab a piece of your virtual cake (I am honored ) but I must tell you...I am a little technology impaired! REALLY! I am still trying to figure out how to post Kelly's' badge on my blog. So if you tell me how to garb the award-I would love to:) I think your Thriving Artist pic is brilliant by the way-LOVE IT!

  6. Lis-it's interesting that you are in the midst of exploring your creativity (and writing about it)-i want to write a post on women and creativity (within the next month) and would love to use one of your images-of course I will add a link to your blog and give full credit. Let me know-I would be so honored....thrilled.

  7. Lis-I did it-I did it!!!With your help-thanks so much! I posted the Happy 101 award!!And you were right-so easy!!Now I will try the Kelly Rae badge!
    Thanks so much for your clear instructions and your kindness! That is so interesting-that you just completed Women Who Run...I was blessed enough to read it when it first came out (I was about 22-23) and i have read it ever since. Every few years, I do a complete cover to cover reading-it is my guide, my SOUL FOOD. It's also interesting that the post on women and creativity that I want to write about is going to include a quote from WWRWW!! Thanks for letting me use your image-I will let you know more...
    I also want to really thank you Lis-from the bottom of my heart-for being so encouraging, supportive, kind, nourishing to me. I established my blog about 2 years ago-but did not write a single post until the start of this year!! I had a lot going on -marriage, moving, pregnancy, baby...but underlying it all-I did not have a belief in myself-what would i have to say, to contribute, who would listen to me...(you see where this is going!!). But turning 40 and having a baby (at the same time) gave me enormous courage to just jump in. So I want you to know how very much all your encouragement has meant to me:) I give you an award too-from my heart:)xxx

  8. thank you WONDERFUL Lis-like magic it worked:) It was so simple-but I never could of done it without your help:)And your AWESOME instructions...
    p.s. I had an amazing time on the cruise-but I am glad to be back home, painting, blogging etc...

  9. Nice to meet you Lis! Wonderful place you have here. You and I are yogis together. I have a practice of my own twice a week. I don't know where I would be without it!

  10. Dear Lis-I just read this whole post (TWICE) and I am so proud of you! Yes, creativity is so tricky isn't it-we have to support "it" constantly, feed it with all sorts of things and thoughts and hopes and even fears. Thank you so much for sharing this very personal inner journey with us all. You are a natural teacher Lis-in so many ways.

  11. I LOVE the THRIVING ARTIST lives here!
    Love it!