Friday, December 31, 2010

december 31 - lessons learned

I have been a tad out of the loop these past two weeks ... or maybe it has been the last couple of months? I am finding it surreal to realize Christmas has come and gone (indeed, even the holiday decorations have been put away already) and I have little sense of it. Maybe things were a little too smooth? I did not find myself frantically shopping at the last minute and perhaps that level of holiday madness is what brings the season into high relief for me?

Or maybe it is just the usual end of year popping my head out of my hole and wondering a la the Talking Heads song: How did I get here?

Indeed, it has been a long, strange trip ... in a good sense. For this past year was my year of living with the intention of Fearlessness and Connection guiding me. Now is the place where I would recount all that evolved from that intention, but you already know, don't you? Instead, I am thinking about what I've learned about being fearless: that it is not about abolishing fears or doubts, but rather not letting fear freeze or disable me. When fear takes over, there is the natural tendency to make like a rabbit and be absolutely still. It is not a stillness where one is completely present; it is being frozen or stuck in a moment, in a emotion.

The antidote to this is to move, to take action. I've discovered I can experience fear but I can override the tendency to shut down. Some days it is just putting one sentence down in my journal. Or getting up from the chair and moving to my art table, sewing machine or yoga room. It is using action to distract my mind from its tendency to spin wild tales of humiliation and woe. And it is recognizing that to act and possibly fail is still far better than to do nothing and wonder "what if?"

I am reminded of a story told by Marisa Haedike's husband, Sean Hogan during their course April In Paris. Sean shared an experience he had as a kid when the coach for his sports team (was it baseball? Or basketball? I cannot remember) kept him on the bench, never letting him play in the game. His team lost and the other players were complaining about the game when Sean said "yeah, but at least you got to play!"

This year was my year to get myself off the bench and into the game. This year was the year of playing, of practicing, of doing, of taking action and reaching out to others to share that experience.

I wrote the following for a Wishstudio guest piece and it is my big A-Ha for the year (so forgive me the arrogance of quoting myself):

We all need to feel connected; to know who we are matters to another, and that what we do or say has value and meaning. I realize that all I do as a mother, as an artist, as a yogi and a teacher revolves around that essential need. In my life, I am coming to know this truth: that my story counts. By sharing my experience, I help to shine light upon your journey. And by encouraging others to share their truth, we come to understand our essential unity. That is, we come to know ourselves as lovable and loving. And in that space, we are unstoppable, anything is possible and we are fearless in our quest to better our world.

Cheetah babies

A perfect seque into repeating my word for 2011 is Shine. Years ago, my spiritual sister told me "you are totally unaware of the Light that you are." She has said this to me on more than one occasion. After a year of fearlessness, I am better aware of that light. I used to think it was easier for me to appreciate the light - the gifts - of others rather than my own; but I recognize now that if I cannot see my own light, I cannot fully see that of another. When I live with my heart wide open, loving, forgiving and accepting myself, the glow of Love shines forth from me. With that light, I am able to see the beauty and the light of others undistorted and unaffected by my needs or wounds.

I am excited for this New Year. I am ready to let myself Shine. And I am taking the lessons of the previous year - to continue to create, act, move everyday - and utilizing them to help me keep that light bright and glowing. One brushstroke, one photograph, one row of knitting serving to keep the fires alive and burning.

Lord Shiva, help us let go of the old; Lord Ganesha, help us move into the New.

Goodbye 2010 - you were a great year. Hello 2011. I am looking forward to spending time in you.

And for no apparent reason other than this is my mood - I feel the need to end the year with a little ukuele, George Harrison and a man in a gnome hat. Enjoy!


  1. Dear sweet Lis-thank you so much for (always) sharing your journey with all of us...with heart so wide open...spirit shining. I have seen you grow so much during this time I have known you...I feel as if you are starting to step into your power. All the amazing work you did to raise money for Half the Sky...I an so happy and proud of you! I think SHINE is a great word for 2011-but you already are Lis...YOU ALREADY ARE!
    I wish you all the very very best in the coming year-health, happiness, creative fires burning, new paths forged, heart full. Sending you so much love and hugs across the many miles...but no space between our hearts and spirits. xxx
    Also...thank you so much for all your love, support and kindness during this (very difficult) year. You have been a gift and a blessing to me. i am grateful...and blessed. Om Shanti.

  2. oh, this is beautiful. (just like you)

    i feel so incredibly happy to have *met* you this (last) year....and look forward to what is to come..

    many blessings for 2011...


  3. Lis, the first photo of Cowgirl is priceless :) I see your light shining so brightly and I really do appreciate how this glow reaches out to me and enriches my life. Reading your reflection on connection I think that this word could quite possibly be my word for 2011, it has certainly made me think a great deal already.

  4. Oh, Lis, this is a wonderful post! I'm so glad you quoted yourself...that is an inspiring piece of writing. It's wonderful to feel connected to you and see how you've growth in confidence and creative expression. I know you will SHINE in 2011!

  5. I loved this post too and it seems I am not alone in this.
    I love your word shine and yes you do.
    I also really enjoyed your post at Dirty Foot Prints studio about your BIG experience
    Thank you Lis
    May you shine brightly in 2011
    Lynna G

  6. Dearest Lis,
    Thank you for sharing such wonderful insight...and for being part of my reconnection to the world.
    Wishing you and your family all the best in 2011