Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Uncertainty, Risk, and Emotional Vulnerability

   Some weeks ago my high school piano students performed in a recital together. The senior played seven pieces to show her achievement over a decade of practice. I had them together in a rehearsal and talked to them about uncertainty, risk, and emotional vulnerability. When asked if they would rather not perform they all agreed they would pass. But, I pressed on them the idea that I was providing them with an experience that could help them grow. I encouraged them to be "all in"; to show the audience the depth of their feelings. That moment passed before my eyes again as yesterday I had such an experience.

     Yesterday afternoon I prepped to look acceptable on camera. I was uncertain if I would get to Skype with my e-course instructor during our Question and Answer broadcast. During the process of being interviewed I had to make a choice as to whether I would allow myself to embrace this opportunity or whether I would play it cool and prepare to be dumped at the end. The difference would be in how much energy I would expend. The hour before the broadcast I was talking to the director as he positioned me in front of my computer many times. He would make small talk to release the tension of waiting and anticipating. I was able to see the broadcast and still hear the director's instructions in the background. Brené Brown was suddenly there starting the show. She is so friendly and energetic. The director informed me I would be the first call and told me he would signal me just before I appeared on the camera. Right then my vulnerability sky-rocketed. But, too late to panic I heard him count off 5 and there she was saying hello. Do you know how hard it is to listen to someone as you see your face splattered next to theirs? She was talking to me and expecting me to banter back and forth. I kept bringing my mind back to the moment. The miracle was she answered an important question I did not know would be discussed.

   Why do we get push back from others when we choose to work on ourselves?  Are we self- indulgent and self- absorbed when we try avenues of growth and change? Brené's answer made absolute sense. Others judge us when they see their own weaknesses under attack. The only way to address a critic, especially one close to us, is to kindly suggest that they might try to open a channel for growth in themselves. So there I was learning even under heightened sensory stimulation. It may be difficult to watch the rebroadcast but I am so grateful for this experience. And by the way, the people who work for Oprah's OWN network are so kind and professional. They called exactly when they said they would and thanked ME for spending my time with them. You should read "The Gifts Of Imperfection" by Brené Brown.

Monday, April 14, 2014

New Experiences

  I am just a little excited today. Into week two of my e-course "The Gifts of Imperfection", a producer of the Questions and Answers broadcast e-mailed me to see if I had any questions for Brené Brown. She asked if she could call me Saturday morning. In the phone call she explained that she was trying to find a few people who could Skype with Brene in the broadcast tomorrow. We talked about the class content and how we both felt about creativity and play. I shared with her my insights into the creative life of my father. "Do you Skype?" she said. Thank-you children, for having regular Skype sessions with me. It allowed me minutes later to have a session with this producer. Her name is Mashawn and she is so good at making people feel comfortable. I caught her eye because of a self-portrait I did as an assignment for the class.

    This is not my greatest masterpiece but I suppose it was different enough to catch her eye. So what happens next? Tomorrow morning I will Skype with the technical team to see how I look on camera. They will advise me what to wear and what to redecorate in back of me. Then in the early evening I will log on to see the broadcast and if the conversation moves to my questions, I'll be talking to Brené Brown. No guarantees, but this makes my class participation hyper concentrated.

    Here is a picture I snapped on my I-Pad while watching a broadcast from Part I of the class. Off to the bottom left of her is a class journal picture I put on Instagram. It is the bright yellow top of a compass I drew. I was trying to illustrate the steady foot of the compass being balanced by the other "searching foot", showing how our lives need to be well grounded but also searching for new truth. I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Finding Meaning

               I attended a religious ceremony yesterday with strangers. We were a small company of ten. A man I have often observed in previous ceremonies, who came in a wheel chair, caught my attention. Towards the end. we stood in a circle, facing each other. This man with physical limitations beyond my  ability to grasp, was making eye contact with each of us.

      His gaze was intense. I almost drowned in the love and tenderness emanating from his face. i wanted to look away, but I smiled back. Something very special had happened inside this man.

            I had come to the temple with a prayer that I would learn something of how to be with people. My prayer was answered in the eyes of a man limited in every way, physically, but soaring spiritually.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Freshest Right Now

   Organic strawberries are such a treat in the morning. They have a lesson to teach me as well. They are freshest right now. I can't save them for a later day when I'm out of fruit. I can't have their peak of ripeness any other day. 

    So are the moments of my life. I can't save that thrill of hearing the birds, as I get up, for later this winter. Their call is for now and now is when I must stop to listen.

      Some years I miss April because I have so many lessons to teach and people to call. This year I'm taking time to see April, smell April, and feel the freshness of today.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Healing Scars

       Some new light is rising in my life. I am so glad I went out on the edge to do the "Gifts of Imperfection" e-course and the painting e-course. Both classes stretched my creative soul. I am currently doing the second half of the "Gifts" class. The first guidepost this week, entitled, "I am a creative being", fit like a glove considering all the painting I've been doing. Healing scars in my creative life was the most beneficial exercise this week.

    The assignment was to write down the false perceptions I have concerning being creative. Then cover them with band-aids to start the healing. Here are the ones that resonated in my heart.

  • art requires perfection  just paint over it and try again
  • you are not talented enough  "they" don't know your potential
  • why make art when so many are more talented than you   you make art because it heals you
  • you are not patient enough   put the work down and come back later
  • no one around you makes art  dare to be different and invite others to join you
  • art is only a way to get validation extend yourself to others while you share your art
   This list really makes sense to me. I used some of these mantras while I worked on a big canvas. Picking up a free painting just to reclaim the canvas was bold, but it worked out to be the best decision, ever. Filling a space 20 by 24 is much different that 9 by 14 and applying paint to cover the original took effort.

    My inspiration was a picture of my maternal grandmother. I tried to capture her serenity and strength.  Her fruit was courage, perseverance, and commitment. As a seamstress, she sewed for us all, but also for herself. Her clothes always had lace around the edges to give her a feminine look.

         To finish this painting required starting over and covering the lettering, repainting her face, and  adding texture and new color three times. I love where it is today. I also love that I can see the original peeking through in many places. I know the artist who first covered this canvas. I respect and honor her and in no way wanted to discredit her work, but I wanted to reclaim the space and add my own vision. This all helped to start the healing and I am committed to my creative life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Farm Stand

Today was a dreary, wet day after four glorious days of sun. I visited our neighborhood farm stand to lift my spirits. 

     Something about seeing fresh and preserved commodities makes me feel the need to be industrious.

     The fridge is always a surprise and wonder. Today there were eggs, milk gallons, and homemade cheese. Yes, the eggs are superior to even free range eggs at the store. The colors vary on the outside but inside the yolks are rich and very yellow.

      The owners of the farm work so very hard. They rarely get a day off. Passionate about raw and unprocessed dairy products, these farmers offer me a trusted product I look forward to eating.

                             My Thursday stash will make omelets, and hot chocolate. Yum!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Sign

   My father-in-law passed away Wednesday, early in the morning, after a week trial in the hospital. He was 91 years old. I am happy that his physical and mental battles are over. He was a stouthearted man who learned and adapted as he matured. I wanted a sign that told me how to honor him and two were given.
   The first was given me as I sat quietly and waited in the temple the day after his death. I was there to do initiatory work for my family names.  A sweet, calm reassuring feeling came over me and I knew both Walter and Beth wanted me to be active in the temple work I was doing. If I wanted to feel their spirit it would be in the house of the Lord where they worked and spent their later years.
   My second sign came as I looked at this painting I created for him and felt strongly that it should go to my grandson.


   He should know who he is named after and what a good example he was. I find that my grandchildren love stories about their ancestors and do not carry the baggage of being disappointed in their grandparents and parents as perhaps my children do. Time softens the edges of mortal weakness that we all have. Dad and I had a few special experiences we shared together. He mentioned them whenever he called. Yes, he told the same stories over and over. I'm comforted that he remembered them so well and that I brought him some joy. Thank-you for a life well lived.