Thursday, April 19, 2012

An Invitation to Paint...

I’m an Endurer
I stuff it down
stifle those emotions
push them down
into the Shadow
deep down
into the Shadow of my Soul

I’ve endured 
by ignoring
closing off
the wound that formed
deep down
in the
Shadows of my Soul.


one day
by invitation....
I innocently
picked up a brush
dipped it into paint
touched it to paper.

Little did I know
that each brush stroke
each layer of paint
would begin
to open 
that wound
by little
by little...

Little did I know
that each brush stroke
each layer of paint
would probe
deep down
into the Shadows of my Soul
seeking that locked
where my Authentic Holy Self laid
                                                         overpowered by my own enduring.
Little did I know that
each brush stroke
each layer of paint
would begin to 
my Authentic 
Holy Self

begin to bubble up
up through the Shadow
up through the pain
up through the grief
up through the wound
the tearing of my Soul
caused by enduring

 begin to bubble up
bubble up 
those dreams
those visions
those hopes
those longings
that had for so
so long
been locked in that box as well.

Little did I know that
each brush stroke
each layer of paint
was an invitation
to re-awake
from this sleep of enduring
into the 
vibrant color and Energy
of life
and behold

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Balancing Long Weeks...

I am a firm believer in working at living a balanced life.  I don’t always succeed, but I work at it.  The more I am able to balance work with creative expression and Sabbath, the more my energy grows, the more creative I feel.  It’s like this wonderful birthing cycle:  if I can keep balanced, then I seek to engage my life more and more fully; I have a greater amount of energy I can put into manifesting my visions and dreams in the world.
Holy Week for pastors is a hellish week, really.  Pastors, if lucky have as few as two services that week; if unlucky could have as many as seven to nine services (Easter included in that count).  I was semi-lucky.  I fell in the middle.  Working in a small part-time congregation I had only one of each of the major services:  Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.  Still, I ended up doubling my normal half-time hours.
Since this was my first Holy Week in a long time, I set out to live it balanced.  By balanced I mean playing as much as I worked.  Engaging and feeding my creative artist self as much as I engaged my professional pastor self so that there was some kind of energy for my pastor self to engage Holy Week.  I have to say, I mostly succeeded.  Exhaustion hit, but not until Saturday; collapse happened after Easter Sunday service.  I call that a win!
Anyway, I wanted to engage and feed my creative side.  I have been reading Julia Cameron’s book The Artist Way.  She suggests an exercise of listing things that I like to do and things that I want to do.  Then pick three and do them.  I decided that was the way I was going to keep balanced throughout the week.  I picked three:  cooking/baking, walks/hikes with pup, and painting.  I did them, sort-of.
I cooked and baked every night.  My house became that hearth I love so much and have missed.  Smells of creativity, love, passion filling my small apartment.  Curry.  Chocolate.  Citrus.  Fabulous luscious tastes.  Pleasure.  Eating.  Beauty.  Awe.  Holy.
I hiked everyday.  I will admit I planned ahead.  I planned where to go for my the daily hiking adventures.   I searched the internet for preservations nearby and was blessed by finding more than half a dozen within 20 minutes of my house.  The pup and I explored two new ones and revisited an old regular haunt/hike from last year. We enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation, our feet (paws) on the paths walking over rolling hills, looking at some gorgeous vistas, breathing in the scent of spring, soaking up the Energy of the Holy, resting in Mother Nature’s Goddess arms.
Now, painting.....  I admit that it felt at first like a chore.  To paint in my tiny apartment means I have to rip apart my kitchen.  Set up my kitchen tables as a painting station thereby giving up use of the kitchen for cooking and baking.  My table is my only "counter".  Trying to cook and paint in that same space creates more stress than relaxation. 
I was about to give up the idea of painting when I went and revisited The Secret Play Date (  a blog about a woman who makes a Secret Play Date with herself each week.  Really cool actually.  Well, the link I hit took me to a play date with a sketch app on her iPad.  Hmmm...  I have an iPad.  I could “paint” on it instead of tearing apart my kitchen daily.  Well, that is what I did.  I spent that $1.99 and bought the app.  I played and had fun and found pleasure and laughter and joy in 10+ minutes of playing on the iPad.
I started out by playing with the different brush strokes, getting to know how they worked, what they looked like.  It was fun.  I began to let go and let happen.  I allowed my painting self to engage the “paint” of the iPad with joy and laughter and spontaneity. 
Each night, I spent time playing on my iPad until I felt a completion with each drawing.  Sometimes it took only 10 minutes.  Other nights I was working at that painting, engaging it, struggling with it for up to an hour.  

Sometimes it was light, fun, playful...  

Other times it was hard, difficult; like walking through that murkiness of power again.  

All rewarding.  All energizing.  All worth my time and effort.
This past Holy Week I reinforced the experience that feeding my creative inner child artist self is ultra important in my journey to manifest these new visions, dreams, hopes into reality.  The more I engage my creative self, the more energy I have to use in manifesting my dreams out in the world around me.  The more I work at manifesting my dreams, visions in the world around me, the stronger the invitation I receive from the Universe (the Holy) to continue to feed and engage my artist self.  It cycles back upon itself, spiraling, liberating, manifesting, energizing.

Try it yourself and see what happens.  Balance your life.  Play as much as you work.  It could liberate you in some unforeseeable and exciting ways.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Struggling with my Third Chakra: Murkiness of Power

A few weeks ago I went to paint my third chakra: power, will, ego.  I thought I was set.  I did quite a bit of work prior to going: reading and listening to Anodea Judith’s stuff on the third chakra, writing in my journal exploring myself in relation to my power.  As it turns out, this stirred stuff up and I ended up battling my painting until I came to a moment, a glimpse, a breathe of closure for the night -- a long late night.
My painting began as an expression of the third chakra -- what I wanted it to look like, what, if it was whole and open and flowing, it would look like.  It was gorgeous.  I loved it.  A large yellow circle began in the middle of the paper.  Then I began to pull down the upper chakras, green, blue, purple; and spiraled them into the yellow center.  I pulled up the lower two, red and orange and spiraled them into the yellow center.  I worked at adding different shades, blending them together, allowing them to mesh, mix, intertwine, and be distinct.  It was enjoyable and I was having a blast!
(I’m sorry that I didn’t take a picture of the painting before I ‘ruined it’.  However, I was playing on my iPad Sketching Ap and created the gist of it.  This image is not as cool as the painted one, but it will give you an idea of the flow, the spiral, the center of yellow bringing together all the chakras in order to ignite and manifest my power in the world.)
When I was done bringing together, blending, spiraling the energies into my 3rd chakra, I wanted to explode that center out across my painting.  I struggled with how to do that.  I landed, after attempting a few different things, on ripping up paper, covering it with yellow, and placing it over the painting shining out from the center like the rays of the sun.  I had a great time.  I love ripping and tearing paper; the sound it makes; the feel and release that come with the tearing movement.  I totally got into it.  I used all the different shades of yellow.  Dumped glitter on them.  Smiling.  Emanating the rays out.
Then all hell broke loose.  Really.  I stepped back (my first mistake) to take in the painting.  Tears rose.  The wound that I thought I had painted out appeared, there in the rays.  Some were solid rays stretching the entire length of the paper. Others were shorter with breaks between them as they reached for the edge of the paper.  When I looked I saw what my chakra looked like, what had happened to my power as I have moved through adulthood, how wounded it has become.  It brought me to my metaphorical knees.
That wound, the one that came forth in my goddess painting, right across my voice, heart and power chakras.  That wound that I had painted out with ash creating a wound on that canvas. That wound that caused me to experience myself split in two, working hard to integrate my dreams and visions back together into one authentic expression.
That wound arose again.  I thought it was gone.  I thought I had painted it out finally when I finished the ash painting.  It felt like it.  That day I was on my knees, tears flowing, clearing, cleaning my soul, cleaning the wound.  But it seems that was only another layer of it.  My teacher shared that she continues to paint out wounds she thought were gone years ago, surprising her again and again.  I found comfort and courage in that.  Comfort that this was normal, for the wound to bubble up again and again a little more each time.  My teacher reminded me that "It only gives you as much as you can deal with in the moment." Courage to face it, to engage it, to have a paint-filled conversation with it.  And that is what I did.  And that is what the next two hours of tough, struggle were all about as I worked and reacted and struggled through the muck of power and woundedness.

I had this deep need to try to bring the rays together back whole solid again.  I attempted a few different things and it was not working.  I so want my power to be whole.  I want my energy to be full of vitality.  I want my will to be strong.  I want to live full of compassion, using my power to transform the world around me. But I learned that will not happen until I wade into the muck of what it means to engage your power as a woman in this culture so steeped in power-over, in silencing women’s voices.  So I began. 
I invited the purple to flow, to teach me, show me, guide me in how to bring it all together.  I flowed it, spiraled it down around the the yellow to the bottom corner.  I pulled the red from the yellow and spiraled it around.  I pulled the green and blue and spiraled it down and around.  
I took a deep breathe and waded deeper in putting a large yellow circle in the top corner.  It came out green.  I added more yellow but it wanted to remain green.  So I let it. Ugh!  
I put a blue circle in the bottom corner.  That one took.  It  came out blue.
There they sat opposite, far apart.  Both wounded.  Both connected by this deep tearing in my soul.  My voice, my ability to express myself in this world wounded as my power and heart were wounded.  It hurt deep down inside to put these two circles up there, apart, alone.  It was right.  It was necessary.  For now that is what my third chakra looks like, that is what my power is like.  It is torn in many pieces, spread out, silenced, working hard to voice itself, to manifest my hopes, my wants, my future, this re-awakening I am in the midst of.  Both needed to show up on their own, standing as beacons of hope, resurrection and wholeness.
And that is when the flames began to pop up, flame up from the bottom of the painting.  As I gave way to the wounds and accepted them, welcomed them, allowed the hope for wholeness to come, I felt it ignite inside myself.  I felt the fire begin to burn once again with a burst of energy.  I painted those flames.  I got into pulling them up.  Allowing them to take over as much of the painting as they wanted.  Reaching right up to that yellowish green circle -- right up through my 3rd chakra to my heart.  I allowed that connection, that integration to begin. 

I breathed deep as the movement subsided.  I breathed deep in a moment of closure.  I breathed deep in a moment of acceptance.  I breathed deep in a moment of true deep tough agonizing healing.  I breathed deep thankful for the courage to engage...