Friday, January 24, 2014

Pour Out

   "I have found it useful to see my soul as a vessel; I often ask myself what it contains before I kneel before the Lord. There is a difference in my approach when I say, “I’m going to pour out my soul to God,” rather than “I’m going to say my prayers.” There is more intensity, more earnestness, and more honesty. The very phrase suggests there will be no holding back. Prayer to me seems to imply only words or ideas. Pour out encompasses the world of emotions and feelings. It is helpful to me to understand or recognize exactly what is in my soul. I must be totally honest with myself. Is it confusion, or doubt, or complaint, or sorrow, or love, or gratitude, or guilt, or shame, or worry? I believe what the Father wants from us is the contents of our souls. I sense that unless we pour out, he cannot pour in."
  S. Michael Wilcox from Face to Face

Ephesians 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Reacting To Shame

        Years ago I was asked to step in and be a rehearsal pianist for a musical in our local community. I have trouble saying no to desperate people so I relented. They brought me the music the day before and my heart dropped deep into my belly. Unfamiliar and very jazzy, the notes laughed at me from the page. I practiced many hours before the evening arrived and I knew I was going into a disaster situation. Even after practicing I had little feeling for how this music should sound. 
  When I walked into the theater I felt the electric energy of a wired and demanding director. There was likely no mercy in this man. He did not greet me; he just gave an order on what page I was to begin. I felt my face flush, my pulse race, and all the times I failed at accompanying the piano came rushing through me like a freight train. He stopped me at some point and announced that I should only play the melody line because my rhythm was messing everyone up.

   The evening lasted an eternity and to this day I feel the flush of shame. I have played this scene in my head too many times to admit. I was pleasing a relative stranger and completely vulnerable to failure.
The red flag that I was headed into a shame storm was the last minute request of an unknown piece of music. I don't sight read well enough to survive. I have learned to respect my limits as a musician. This means I still try new things but in a healthy working environment.
   The gifts of shame can be paralyzing. I find them in stark contrast to the Gifts of Imperfection. While one leaves you in fear, the other bolsters courage. While one moves to estrangement, the other teaches compassion. While one promotes apathy, the other brings connection to people and our life's work. Beware of giving and excepting the gifts of shame.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Heart In Art

All my life I've looked for an outlet to calm my feelings. Playing the piano helps, but it is difficult at times in the learning stage. Reading is wonderful but it can be difficult to keep my wandering thoughts at bay. Painting is by far the best way to access my heart.

Years ago I would never have believed I would be teaching my grandchildren to play the piano. But, so it is. And, never would I imagine painting with them on a regular basis. Getting out the art supplies happens all the time.

Last week I had my grandchildren repeat after me, "I am working on my artist skills. I am not perfect. But, I am enough for today."

     They believe it and go forward spreading color on every corner of their page. I try to share some of my new techniques, using the correct terms.

    I keep a file of their work and we have enough to look through them and see our progress. They will be art journalling soon.

   I am so grateful to my father for showing me an example of an adult who loved sketching. My Brene Brown class opened another door to trusting my instincts. I go happily upstairs to paint every day.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Photo Merge

    I am wonderfully drawn to my art studio every morning. Surrounded by papers, paint, stencils, ink, markers, and brushes, I leave the worries behind and just let the creativity come. On a recent visit to the local tea shop I picked up a postcard which invigorated me. I used it in the background and added some other collage elements.

   In this art journal I'm going back to words as well as images. A cup of herb tea in this lovely place is a treat.

    On the computer I merged my two pieces to see what further fun I could create. Gee, I hope the chinese characters are right side up. I wonder what they say?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Can You Love Others If You Don't Love Yourself?

    This week I am considering the question Brene Brown left her class members during the months before the second half of 'The Gifts Of Imperfection" class begins. These questions are reminders to keep us "alive" to what we have learned. So, can we love others if we don't love ourselves? There are many evidences around that people are kinder to others than themselves. I hear that by the remarks made in self-deprecation and the ways we sabotage our physical and mental health with addictive behaviors. Is loving others easier than loving ourselves? Is it the feeling that we are talking about or the actions. the practicing of love?
   Renae Cobb answered the questions this way.
   "Certainly, the people we love inspire us to heights of love and compassion that we might have never achieved otherwise, but to really scale those heights, we often have to go to the depths of who we are, light/shadow, good/evil, loving/destructive, and figure out our own stuff in order to love them better. So I’m not sure it’s an either/or but a both/and. We love others fiercely, maybe more than we think we love ourselves, but that fierce love should drive us to the depths of our selves so that we can learn to be compassionate with ourselves."
  Brown, Brene (2010-09-20). The Gifts of Imperfection (pp. 29-30).
    I could over think this to the point of confusion, so I go to the best example I know of love. Jesus, my Savior, not only loved purely but he loved whole-heartedly. This surely gave him a peace about his own beingness. I made up that word in lieu of trying to find another. But really this question asks another question. Where is my focus? Jesus made clear in his own words where his actions were focused. "I do works of my Father". His relationship with His Father made clear how he felt about others. He did what His Father did, he loved who His Father loved, and we know His Father loved him. He called His Son beloved when he introduced Him.

   When I move my focus from myself to Him, "The Way", I find peace about my own imperfections. Really, the greatest gift, by far, in excepting myself, is the joy of turning to Him. I am enough to qualify for salvation through the merits of Jesus Christ. So, the question is not, do I love myself, but, how much do I love Him?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Practice Love

  There is a difference between feeling love and practicing love."Action speaks louder than words", as the saying goes. If I were to craft my own definition of love I would have to include doing what is not in my own self-interest. And, there it gets sticky because often acting kindly is a self-interested action. If the story I tell of myself is that I am a loving, kind person then I will act out that love to keep my story accurate. Perhaps an illustration can give some clarity.

  Years ago I met a woman who was inquisitive, colorful, and very different from me. She came to dinner at the invitation of my husband, who had a stimulating conversation with her on a ferry ride. She showed interest in me because I was not acting the part of the stereotypical Mormon, in her eyes. We began walking together in the mornings. She brought up religion and we talked every morning about our beliefs. She pushed me to be clear about what I truly believed. One day she asked me to describe to her my relationship to God. That took our discussions on a whole new path which eventually led to her joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For months I felt very connected to her feelings and desires. I believe I received many prompting from the Holy Ghost in meeting her needs. But, then a shift happened. I found myself being irritated by her behaviors. She became stuck in self-defeating patterns. I became her conscience, calling her, for example when the didn't come to church. In horror I saw that she was my project, my Liza Doolittle. How she must resent me! I was not practicing love, just playing out the story about who I was as a loving person. I pulled back. She did not come running, and so I knew I was right. I had ruined a relationship by loving in my own interests. I can write about this because she moved away, but also because we did finally talk about it when she visited last. I saw the colorful, inquisitive person I first met. I liked her much better than the person I wanted her to be.
   Practicing love is not easy. There is not a pattern to follow or rules to obey. Unless, we see in Jesus Christ the pattern of loving behavior. He showed us the way to love. His interests were to stay in line with His father's will. I suppose when my interests line up with His I can know I'm practicing love, well.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year

I am celebrating three years of blogging. It was on a day much like today that I decided to try my hand at using this medium to express myself. Some things have changed, improved I hope, but my desire to write, photograph, and draw is still the same. The world has not improved, but we are swimming, nonetheless.

   I have picked a word as a theme this year. It sounds the same as holy. It means entire, completely, in other words, all in. I aspire to be wholehearted but I know it will not be easy. The natural being within me leans toward holding back, hedging my bets, and rationalizing my position. To ward off the natural being I am going to try an experiment and ask myself, "What would a holy woman do?" This was inspired by a review of the book by Sister Wendy Watson Nelson.

 Shannon, at The Redheaded Hostessmade some images to keep me mindful of my experiment and my new word for 2014. I used them in my art journal and made a pathway to encourage my journey. The road to Wholliness is lined with cherries. My favorite fruit has a pit which is inedible, yet it is the life of the tree. A metaphor for my travels as I seek to be a holy woman in wholliness.