Saturday, September 4, 2010

Weekly Reflection (week 34): Uncertainty

I am continuing the intuitive painting process begun in BIG through monthly topics/exercises with Connie of Dirty Foot Prints Studio in Tribe. This month's theme is Balance which I suppose has been the theme of my life! I vividly recall a summer afternoon 25 years ago (gulp!) sitting on my porch reading a book on the painter Raphael as I prepared for a class in Grad school. I was eating an omelet made of fresh veggies, cheese and eggs purchased that morning at the nearby farmer's market, with my book on my lap. It was a moment of sensory delight: the blue skies of summer, the freshness of the food on my plate and the sumptuous color plates of Raphael's paintings. I remember that moment as one where I knew perfect balance. All aspects of my being felt sated.

Over the years, I've tried to duplicate that feeling in my life. Having tasted it once, I continue to seek it out. I also know from practicing balance poses in yoga, that falling out of balance teaches me how to find balance. It is like drawing a form by looking at the negative space around it. I don't know if it is possible or even desirable to live in balance all of the time; but I do feel I am strengthening my skill at recovering myself, finding my center and returning to that place where all aspects of my being feel fulfilled.

So how does this tie in with uncertainty? I'm not sure. But what I've been facing in my intuitive painting is allowing myself to live in uncertainty; letting go of my need to control or understand or predict everything. Painting right now means grabbing my paper, paints and brushes and diving right in. No thought, just instinct, impulse, intuition. What color does my hand reach for? What movement does my hand/wrist/arm ache to do as I hold my brush above the paper? And once I've made a mark, allowing myself to respond to that action without knowing where it is taking me.

Talk about lack of balance! Rather than relying upon my rational mind to guide each stroke towards a preconceived goal - a painting that exists in my mind - I must let go and allow intuition, inklings, reactions to guide me. I must make my peace with uncertainty because I cannot know what may arise after I paint in a particular color, shape or line. I am in dialogue with the painting itself and I cannot predict what it will say next.

It is a wonderful, unnerving, surprising and exhilarating dance with uncertainty. And it pushes me to repeatedly find balance within myself by stepping outside of myself. Or rather, stepping outside my big brain. And I am seeing how unbalanced living with a need for total control can be. What has been emerging as I drift in not knowing is a wonderful zen like experience of knowing. Truths emerge when I allow them the space to be.

So I while I have no idea what I will do next in my painting (she is far from being finished with me), I have been receiving fortune cookie like affirmations in my other artistic endeavors. First there was this page:

Then I was inspired by Lisa of LifeUnity to create an affirmation page:

And finally there is this collage card I made yesterday:

I swear I grabbed the magazine clipping because of the flower in the O complimented the other flowers in the papers. And then I read the text.

Yeah, like I said, a fortune cookie truth.

So uncertainty is leading me into a more graceful, balanced dance with my life. A dance where I do not try to lead and so far, no toes have been stepped on. And I am seeing how this new partner of uncertainty can dance many in forms: creativity, teaching, parenting and spiritual growth.

Embracing uncertainty, I am understanding the value in its practice. It is like the high wire act of being a mother: living every day in a state of awe, vulnerability, intense love, fear and hope and joy.

What is your relationship with Uncertainty?


  1. Hi Lis,
    Uncertainty.... it's there and if given the moment to get lost in it, it scares me. I think you are right on when you say about living a conscious life- enjoying the now vs trying to plot out the "then". I am so guilty of the researching and organizing and planning and then miss the now. Love reading your thoughts, as they really help in my own journey. xoxo

  2. Lis - once again, so beautiful, so poignant. I am feeling that unrest inside that has been stirred up by this painting and you seemed to capture it beautifully.

    I have an uncertain relationship with uncertainty - on again, off again. Some days I'm open to what may come - others, it feels like obstacles are getting in the way of me dealing with obstacles.

    Today is one of those days so I'll stop typing before this stops making sense. :)

    FYI, thank you so much for sharing the affirmation! I've posted it on my blog....

  3. Lis...oh balance,! I know that we are SOUL sisters and boy...would I love to have a coffee/tea with you one day so we can chat about all these things! Balance...something I think so many of strive for. But in that striving..we become...unbalanced!! And uncertainty...all of life is uncertain and oh! when we think otherwise ...are we ever in for a rude awakening!! I think sometimes we try so hard to hold onto certainty...but in life, there is no such thing! Change comes with growth and evolving into our higher selves. When I was about 20 or so...I used to (foolishly) think that one day I was just going to reach a point where I would know who I was and that that was that. As if it was a finite, static place. What I know now is that uncertainty and change IS who I am. Every experience matters and brings a new you, and with that...uncertainty. I think because of my life experiences...I am okay (most times) with uncertainty. That is the nature of life and when I try too hard to grasp (this moment, permanence etc) slips away. It was never there to begin with. I also think that motherhood has taught me so much baout all of these things.
    I really love where you are in your painting process. It is intuitive and comes from a place deep within you.
    Thanks for participating in my tagged questions. I got tagged last week and had to respond! I can't wait to read your answers! Also...I am hoping that sometime in the next month things will settle down here and I can get back to my yoga practice (speaking of balance!)...If I can get to bed at a reasonable hour, I can wake up before Tara and get in an hour of time on the mat.

  4. this is fabulous. what a great post. you must psychically tapping into our BIG session? :o) uncertainty. a dance indeed! thanks so much!

  5. I'm trying to imagine you recreating that first scene you described with Cowgirl in the mix. If it were at my house there would be whining about all the veggies in the omelet (with no appreciation that they were fresh from local farms); Ava would be trying to switch the art book for Stuart Little; and it would be 96 degrees outside, 90 degrees inside since we don't have air conditioning. I'm glad to hear you're willing to give up on that controlled balance. And a good reminder to me that most days it's not going to happen :)

  6. Well, I've been chasing the elusive sense of balance in my life and feel like I'm not getting much closer. And, you're right, control is part of this struggle--knowing when to let go, and just trust that it's going to be okay. More and more, I'm accepting that change is inevitable and I can't cling to ideas or things or even people. So much I can't control and yet I want to be an active participant in the world, shaping it as well as being shaped by it. So I come back to balance.....maybe we only have fleeting moment of it.

  7. :-) Midway through I was having a conversation with you in my mind, it kind of cracked me up. I was saying "My love, control doesn't equal balance, you know that..." and then we continued meandering along and then... ahhhh, yes.

    I am wandering around uncertainty right now, as I do much of the time... that combination of uncertainty and trust - balancing there. Practicing there. Thinking of the many ways to practice daily. I have practiced discomfort in ambiguity. That, I can do and I can do that fairly well (as I said, practice.)

    I loved your opening description. Made me very grateful for my life since so many mornings are spent, on my porch, tuning into this aliveness before I start my day. I realize now I am actually doing a daily invocation, I simply hadn't realized it.


    (My weekly Creative Everyday Check in may be found here.

  8. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for emailing me. I've tried to email you back, but the address is not working. So I'm posting here and also tried to tweak the email address to see if it would work.

    WOW! I am blown away that we are both going to Squam AND that we are BOTH of the same sessions Thurs and Fri. AND that we live 50 miles apart from one another. Incredible. I cannot wait to meet you. Seems like we have lots in common. I do teach at UNL. I've been here in NE for 3 years and still looking for kindred spirits. I'm thrilled that perhaps I've found one in you.

    I wonder if we're taking the same flight. I leave on the 15th at 6am (eek--that's early). You?

    Looking forward to meeting in person,

  9. 'dance with uncertainty', yes. balance that is always rebalancing. and being out of balance only reminds us that balance is soemthing to seek!

    "in this moment i am who i am meant to be" beautiful.

  10. Beautiful post! I *love* the artwork and collage work that you've been doing!!!! And I love that you picked the words because of the flower and then read the text :)