Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekly Reflection (week 12): Past and Present

What would the me of one year ago think about the me of today?

I am fascinated by memory - what pieces and scraps the mind chooses to hold onto and what is tossed away. Recently, my mother and I were recalling a trip we took after I had received my master's degree. Actually, I could not immediately remember why she joined me in Ann Arbor for a drive across the Midwest to Colorado. She knew it was after my uncle had died, which was 23 years ago. We were going to visit my aunt and I stayed on for a month to keep her company. What I vividly recall from that road trip is a picnic lunch in Iowa and how taken I was by the lush, green, rolling hills of that state. We were going to stop over at my fiancé's (now the Husband's) mother's house for a visit and as we made better time than expected, we lingered at a truck stop for coffee and a piece of extra syrupy pie. That truck stop is 5 minutes from where I live now and every day when I pass it on my commute to work, I marvel at the fact that back then, I never would have believed my life would be what it is right now, never mind that I would be calling this corner of the world my home!

Just last week Cowgirl informed me she wanted us to go "back to the place with the snow and where they gave me Scooby snacks." For the life of me, I could not fathom what she was talking about. Snow and biscuits? I thought it was some preschooler's dream version of a play park. Then she said we drove in the snow and I realized she was talking about a trip we took over her Spring break last year. We were wanting to adopt a springer spaniel through a rescue group and we had to drive 4 hours to the home of the family that fosters the majority of springers here in Nebraska. My vision of a road trip, complete with a picnic lunch I had packed, was snowed over in one of the worst driving scenarios I never hope to repeat in my life. We were in the middle of the state on deserted snow covered roads totally unprepared for the inclement weather. The dog we went to see turned out to be too overly enthusiastic for our family (I was reminded of my encounter with a Greek in Athens when I was much much younger, showing more skin and single) but there was one new foster dog, Moose who seemed like a possibility. I was too addled to contemplate much and that drive home in a storm that had truckers pulled over is very fresh in my memory and my nervous system. But the journey led to Moose becoming part of our family and our one year anniversary is quickly approaching.

All that to say, I've been thinking recently about where I was one year ago and how shocked the me of then would be to see the me of today. Shocked and pleasantly surprised. Certainly disbelieving of the turns my life has taken and most likely the 2009 me would have been a tad skeptical that so much change and growth could have occurred. For the me of today is a more integrated, balanced, and full color version of the me previously known. For much of my adult life, I have felt like a fractured being; that there were all these different facets of me but that all the parts did not come together into a whole. There was work me with work friends; the academic/intellectual me with acquaintances from that realm; yoga me and my yoga circle; and then there was my family. I felt the strain of the separation but could not seem to manage pulling all the strands together and I always felt like I was repressing one part of my persona to fit into another.

I cannot even recall how I first stumbled upon all the creative blogs that seem to fill my days now. What I have is the first images from my flickr photo pool. First, there was Mermaid Warrior Camp, joined in the whim of the moment:

We started making art together and a door was opened.
One month later, I began to Unravel, the journey of a thousand miles beginning under these feet:

I was just learning how to use our point and shoot digital camera and knew nothing about Photoshop or even how to crop or adjust an image. I could rotate and that was about it! What I discovered that Spring was a way of being engaged with my life, looking intently at all the details and celebrating the moments of play, creativity and insight that seemed to be frothing up all around me. I also delved into my past and began to heal from wounds buried underneath layers of scar tissue.

If I had to sum up the past year I would have to say I discovered myself and I found my muse.
Taking on the self portrait a day challenge has forced me to step into the space of being a Subject and it has given me the energy and the courage to recognize I am the protagonist in my life. I returned to my first love, the camera and I have discovered some new passions in art journaling and writing along the way. Every course I took - yes, I have taken many! - has helped me to have stretched myself in ways I would not have believed myself capable of. But I also found each piece completed this larger picture of myself. All of a sudden, I realized the statement "my life is my practice" is my reality. My yoga practice, my writing practice, my art making, my relationship with my daughter and my husband and my mother, all feed and inform and support each other. I can no longer distinguish where one begins and another ends.

Yes, this has been a rich and wild year! I have Unraveled, swum and made art with Mermaids,

danced as a Creative and a Radiant Goddess,

written myself Art Journal Love Letters and blossomed into the teacher, student and woman I was not capable of envisioning a year ago. Reflecting upon where I have been reminds me my future is wider and more amazing than anything I could have actively searched for. That's not to say I do not dream big, but I know to leave the details up to the Universe.

(i doubt anyone realizes this, but i try to do a journal page for each reflection. today's page is a work in progress ... still searching for just the right text to add and waiting for the paint to dry! but in honesty to my project, i wanted to include it.)

I mean, how could I have ever envisioned this crazy tribe?

The past year is still vibrantly alive in my memory ... and even when memory fades, I'll have lots of images to remind me of all the adventures I have had.

What new you is being birthed this Spring?


  1. What a beautiful reflection... and bravo to your progress!

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey. I know that it must feel wonderful to see how the pieces of your life are fitting together.

  3. What a gorgeous tribe. There seems to be so many connections in this past year that have brought people together in ways none of ever planned, maybe the universe is getting us all in touch. I enjoy reading your posts every time and you always give me
    things to ponder and digest. Life does seem now to me to be a roller coaster, never know what is around that next bend, but hey, what a ride.

  4. Beautiful reflections on the past year. Sometimes similar reflections make me almost breathless with wonder.

  5. Ohhhh... wow. I LOVE THIS! Each word, treasured.

    I am borrowing these words for writing prompts today:

    >> What would the me of one year ago think about the me of today?

    >> What new you is being birthed this Spring?

    And in a PS - I got my Artistic Mother book over the weekend. I need to borrow more gesso to work on my pages and am going to Massachusetts next week, but I am starting anyway - primarily working on my goals and vision right now. Thank you for introducing me to the book....

    So grateful we rediscovered one another... which I am guessing was a result of joining your many groups and challenges... something I do relentlessly as well. Refinding you was, I am thinking, the best result of all of those groups and challenges....

  6. Hi Lis, I'm catching up on some of your old posts. I love reading them - you express yourself and what's going on for you so well. And I identify with much of what you say too. Our specific circumstances are different but we both seem to be at an important turning point, reflecting on and trying to overcome past hurts, owning and building on talents and what makes us happy, and transforming into the person we want to be, whilst remaining alongside those we love. I'm so full of admiration for the way you're pulling it off!
    Janice. x