Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekly Reflection (week 7): Learning curve

What is something I've recently learned about myself?

One of the greatest gifts my mother gave to me was the desire to always learn. She did not work outside the home until I was in high school and the most enduring image I have of her from my childhood is her sitting in the dark blue wing back chair reading books. She went through a Greek mythology phase, then an anthropology and archeology phase and finally, a long lived Victorian England period. Books would be piled up by her chair and she would be deep into one, eating bright orange Cheez It crackers, when I would come home from school. Her love of books and her desire to learn left its mark upon me - and reinforces the notion that our children learn more from what we do and our relationship with ourselves than by what we heap upon their tiny shoulders.

As a child of the Aquarian age, my interests have centered upon Self discovery. When I was in therapy, I would joke it was like taking a course in the most fascinating of subjects - me! I have to admit, I do weary at times of finding lessons I thought I had learned reappearing in my life for an updated revision/rewrite. But rather than discovering new truths about myself, more often I find myself coming to a deeper understanding of something I already knew, but at a very basic level. Thankfully, the life of a seeker while full of long sloughs through swampy terrain, has its wonderful A Ha! moments.

One such recent moment occurred during a guidance session with goddess Leonie. Maybe it has come to your attention that I am - er, um, well ... a tad all over the place. I feel like I am in a new Renaissance age and am dizzy by the array of activities that entice and absorb me. Art journaling, photography, writing, run-of-the-mill mommy crafting, and knitting are some of the ways I have fun these days (and make myself crazy!) I am also teaching a wider range of subjects: yoga, creativity courses, and girls art camp and I am thinking up new workshops I want to run every day. One of my concerns was this scatteredness, a quality foreign to my usual discipline and focus. Unclear about what I ought to be focusing upon, I asked Leonie for her advice (I think I whined "But what I am supposed to be doing?!") She wisely said "Just ask yourself each day: what would feed my spirit right now?"

I was somewhat taken aback by the simplicity and clarity of this notion. Do what feeds my soul? Prioritize me? I've already written a bit about struggling with the notion of engaging in creative work simply for my own pleasure. Call it a hangover from the Puritan work ethic, I feel the need to justify my activities as serving some greater financial end. In the past, I've signed up for workshops always planning to use the material in future classes and have felt guilty about programs I have taken that seemingly led nowhere (but I learned a lot and had fun!)

What is finally sinking into my mind and my bones is this notion that to do something simply for the pleasure it gives me is reason enough. What is also dawning on me is a glorious awareness that I am truly embracing myself as a Creative being. I've always been fascinated by the letters, diaries and writing of artists and the pull they feel to create. Underneath any discussion of an audience or a market for their work, there seems to be this sense of creating as an act as necessary as eating or breathing.

And now I understand what it is that drives so many to make art even when the process can be so painful. I have found creative expression is my way of engaging with my world; it is the way I interact with my life, absorbing its lessons, its magic, its gifts. By creating I complete a cycle of taking in and giving back. My work is my way of declaring I inhabit this space, I am here and this is who I am. If I dare to hope for anything, it is that my actions may inspire others to bravely embrace themselves and their lives, allowing whatever form that expression may need the freedom to sprout and grow.

In my tumultuous twenties and thirties I was tormented by my inability to figure out my niche in terms of the career me. "What do I want to be when I grow up?" I would wail. Now I realize what I want to be is Me. Just me living a good life. Me embracing the notion to simply be is more than enough. And to be authentically me, means engaging creatively and wholeheartedly with my life. I will always seek out ways to learn more about my world and myself. What I understand now is how central creative play is as part of my learning/living process.

Oh, and by the way, I am not taking any chances; Cowgirl has her own pile of books and art supplies handy for when inspiration strikes ...


  1. Yay for the embrace, beloved Lis.

    Yay for the embrace.

    Sometimes I feel at constant battle about why I do theater "for free" and spend my own money in building sets, etc - other people spend extravagant money on skiing or my brothers, on race driving, and no one "pooh poohs" them.

    Anyway - brava to you for the continually sprouting awarenesses....

    (I still need to write this week's update. Last week with the show opening I was swamped BEYOND words. BEYOND WORDS!)

  2. Hello Lis,
    Thank you so much for your lovely comment on my blog. (I know it was mostly meant for the dog but she can't read!) I've enjoyed so much looking through yours. I could have written pretty much exactly this particular post myself and we seem to be very much alike in many ways. Like you I woke up in my 40s and realised I'm not going to get much more 'grown up' than this and I'd better stop deferring and start 'being'. Having a blog is very much linked to that - as I think it is for you too - somewhere to ponder and delve and express who we are. I look forward to getting to know you better and am so pleased you came over to introduce yourself. I am, however, a little worried that you think you'll find inspiration on my blog - I must have had a couple of unusually creative posts recently and hope I haven't set the bar unrealistically high!
    Bye for now,