Simple Act of Visioning Art…

My little boy isn’t the only one who needs an art project at times.

We too need art: that act of putting creative energy into practice, of creating something tangible that expresses our present moment and perhaps also a bit of our longings. Last year the women’s group I am a part of undertook a ‘vision collage’ project. For several hours we combed through magazines and cut out what spontaneously struck us about what it is we want to cultivate more of in our lives (I highly recommend this, by the way!). All of the sudden we each were gluing an unexpected landscape onto paper and forming both a reflection of ourselves as we were in that moment as well as a blueprint for what we want to manifest further in the future. Themes that emerged in my spontaneous collage: meaningful time with community balanced with silence and solitude, spending more time outdoors, connecting with the elements, reminders of sacred earth and my love of pilgrimage, icons of motherhood and mysticism, a writer at her desk. Woven throughout is also a reflection of my desire to live more closely to the land and return to the simple joys of canning, cooking, taking care of one’s own chickens and getting my daily egg from my yard (and not 1000 miles away in Wisconsin!).

Like a constant reminder, the collage rests on my kitchen counter: serving as a taut rubber band that is stretched between where I am and where I want to go. I try to strike a balance. Perhaps I’m not canning foods yet grown in my dream garden, but I am scooping flesh out of a steamed pumpkin and making homemade baby food… Like a seated forward bend in my yoga practice, I can reach towards what I want while also not pulling away from the reality and perfection of the present moment. I can keep my gaze towards my legs while also feeling the yearning to reach farther, to move forward.

The images serve as backdrop for the ongoing conversations with my husband about creating the life we most want to live. It isn’t that we don’t embrace where we are NOW, but more that we constantly hold ourselves accountable to a greater vision that involves deeper connections with Place, more solid practice of voluntary simplicity and more ritualized connections with the seasons and food. The vision is one of Sanity, where relationships come first, where connection to land and place is cultivated, and where artfulness, spiritual practice and soulful living can flourish. The images evoke a slowing down, a deeper settling into the sublime, and the profound practice of self care. Contrast this vision with what seems to pull so many of us in a million directions, diluting our focus and presence into a thousand pieces! The images from this simple act of visioning art remind me to periodically unplug, to feast, talk for hours with friends and family, loose track of time, enter into moments of sacred silence, connect with Earth, and put my passions into practice. And my precious little boy’s eyes are a constant invitation to slow down and bask in what is Right Now, regardless of what the future may hold…

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Old Lessons…

Amidst the nesting and preparing for baby to arrive in a few weeks, a confrontation with old self unfolds. Going through old papers, poems from a decade ago fall out. Looking for something, notes in an old journal speak to me in a new way. It’s as if I’m being reminded of where I’ve come from in light of where I am going. At an apex waiting point, teetering towards the birth of my 2nd child, I settle into new rhythms and a renewed self-identity as Mother.

The following are excerpted from the Artist’s Way ‘morning pages’ exercise I undertook about seven years ago. The words jumped out at me from those days of writing three pages of stream of consciousness entries daily for several months. Herein I find sound reminders in light of what often feels like diving off a cliff into the unknowns of childbirth and motherhood…And I remember to look back to my roots for inspiration as new things are about to unfold.

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When we move towards our dreams, we move towards our Divinity. Just breathe and bow, Divinity says. Breathe and bow. Kneel at what is happening and trust a greater process. Become humble to a principle greater than yourself. 

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Practice: to work through confusion, to find a ballast, to find a center through disorientation. To rest in what is. 

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Even the anxiety of tension and resistance is beautiful. Like a sacred circle around ourselves, we can feel into our processes and choose contentment. This is the challenge: to love through closures, to trust ourselves and keep working with our edges. 

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Rather than a question mark, BE the clarity of an answer. 

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When we can trust our conversation with the Divine, we can relax. And, there is also the dry, dull persistence of pushing through difficulty with Trust – and trying to also see the beauty in This.

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If we listen and create, we will be led. We will always be led to Here. Just remember: overwhelm prevents progress. One thing at a time is the key to getting anything meaningful accomplished. Know that the pace is important and don’t stop; Every day, offer something to the whole. Gentleness in the face of overwhelm: this is crucial. 

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