Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I'm On Call; Is He?

     Most days I am caring for five grandchildren and their mom, who is mending with a broken leg. My expected twin grandchildren could come at any time, as well. I feel like I'm on call. To be on call means to be waiting but ready with a plan of action. I find myself escaping into a good book when it's quiet. So, I'm wondering if God feels like He is on call. Here we are, His children with a myriad of life experiences, praying to Him when we feel helpless. In the good times He does a lot of waiting while we forget to thank Him for glorious, smooth sailing weather. Then the call comes. We need help, now. I so appreciate that He "says love" most of the time. When I hear or read His words I let them embrace me. 

    The words we say to each other are powerful. Truly we wrap them around our hearts when they are kind and uplifting. Unfortunately we also wrap them around us when the words we hear are harsh and cruel. I am monitoring what I say, carefully, these days. And I am not complaining about being on call. Noting what goes through my mind is my way of keeping above water. It helps me stay in ready mode. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Obstacles To Living Wholeheartedly

    My focus for the near future is a cultivation process. To cultivate means to improve and prepare my life for lasting change. I have three goals. In a previous post I explained what a resilient spirit may be. Secondly, I have established a daily habit of creating and I see how nurturing and peaceful that practice is becoming. Thirdly, I want to cultivate calm and stillness. As I have set off each morning to assist my recovering daughter-in-law, I have tried to take my calm spirit with me. Calmness allows space for others to respond. It is does not demand or compel. It takes less energy and restores breath. I love it!
Why has it taken so long for me to embrace it?

   For years I have been attracted to giving my whole heart to Heavenly Father. I know that I am scared of that eventuality. Thanks to Brené Brown I am seeing what I need to let go of in order for that to happen. These attributes are connected to my heart with cords that make it hard to connect to Him. Each day I cut a thread loose, is a day I can tie my heart more fully to Him. I will explain them or give a link to where I have explained them previously.

  1. Let go of numbing and powerlessness. I wrote about this here. I want to be able to say I'm making great progress. My most obvious numbing activities are food and TV. I am no longer able to participate in either activity without asking myself, "Are you numbing some painful aspect of your life?"
  2. Let go of scarcity and fear of the dark. In the past I operated from a feeling of scarcity. At first the main theme was money. But not enough time, energy, and ability hopped onboard too. I have  shared my thoughts about it more fully here. When the resources of life are scarce, the dark is so foreboding. What if things get worse? What if I can't make due? What if? This hopeless mental exercise I call futurizing. It robs me of joy and perspective.
  3. Let go of comparison. Who hasn't fallen into the comparison trap? We compare our worth, talents, bodies, abilities, even how many followers we have on Instagram. The propensity to compare can and does stop us from sharing. But, not writing, painting, or making music can dam my progression as a person. So, how do I put myself out there without comparing my offerings to the millions of others? One way is to be grateful. I am so grateful to read amazing stories of amazing people. I am so grateful to see so much inspiring artwork. I am so grateful to musicians, past and present, who lift my spirit with their energy

 4. Let go of what people think. My mother pointed out to me, years ago, that I was ever so much nicer away from home than I was at home. That stung! She was right. I did care more about what others thought of me than what she thought of me. I won't start on my mother, except to say that she is with me, mostly good and bad, all the time. The ball and chain of comparison gets lighter the older I get. Yet, to give my heart to God I need to cut the cord.
 5. Let go of the need for certainty. These last two are in bed together. The "natural woman" in me craves comfort and security. Every time I step out, away from certainty, I feel out of control. I get very tense. I lose my calmness and stillness. I spend time futurizing how I will control the hours until I am back to my comfort zone. I don't have any idea how I will cut this cord.
 6. Let go of always needing to be in control. Lastly, I want to say, for the record, that I have at times relinquished control. Nothing bad happened. It wasn't always fun. It never turned out how I imagined it and it never was a disaster. THE END!

  In my newest painting I used Paul's words as inspiration. We see through a glass darkly. I glimpse my whole heart in the hands of my Savior. I want to trust Him. I long to be wholly His.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Living With My Whole Heart

   When Brené Brown started researching shame and fear she found a group of people, among those hundreds whose stories she collected, who seemed more resilient to adversity. She named them the whole hearted people. Her book, "The Gifts Of Imperfection" is really about the path to becoming wholehearted.

    Becoming resilient amidst adversity is not just appealing to me but it may be my lifeline in the years ahead. Here is a list of characteristics that resilient people seem to have in common.

  1. They are resourceful and have good-problem solving skills. I remember a moment in raising my children when it occurred to me that the helpless feeling I had was due to lack of problem solving. I had a teenage son who stayed up too late and his room was next to mine. I would lay awake and get more frustrated every night that the house wasn't quiet. I felt helpless to make change in him. Finally, I addressed God, in prayer. The answer came in a strange command. "Walk 60 minutes every day!" What an absurd way to solve my problem. It did nothing to change my son's habits. But, I did it and guess what? I slept like a baby.
  2. They are more likely to seek help. Asking for help is so hard. When I invite people into my life they get a birds-eye view of things I would like to hide. 
  3. They hold the belief that they can do something that will help them manage their feelings and to cope. I live with a man who chooses how he feels. Crazy, huh? He tells me that feelings don't run his life. I, on the other hand, get swept away with feelings all the time. I pick them up from other people like germs. So how do I cope? I'm learning to feel them and then let them dissipate. They don't grow if I don't feed them with rationalization and panic.

4.   They have social support available to them. I do have social support. Yet, somehow I like to think I'm better if I tough it out on my own. PRIDE is my downfall.
5. They are connected with others such as family or friends. Connection is the key. It takes effort to be available and involved. I rely on the Holy Ghost to help me know who to call and seek out. He does. Sometimes the call comes just at a moment when we both need each other. 

    Having given this list, my next post will be about what holds me back from being wholehearted.

Psalms 119:2  "Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dancing In The Rain

     In my last post I wrote about a play list of songs that keep me going. One of them was a catchy song by Hilary Weeks. I am a sucker for an upbeat song with clever lyrics and this one is my current favorite.

    The idea that our lives get rained upon with adversity is not wholly new. But, dancing in the rain when the deluge just doesn't stop is a positive act of resistance to feeling overwhelmed with trouble. I saw this painting in my mind. The polka dot umbrella was an image I had to paint. Those dancing feet are my three granddaughters. Our teacher son is about to have his third little girl and this one is for the new nursery. Someday I'll play this song for them.

Friday, May 16, 2014

If Ever I Needed Dance, Music and Laughter, It Is Now

    Is it chance that on a week when my daughter-in-law ended up in the hospital I was assigned a lesson in enhancing my life with music, laughter, and dance? It was, but still, it helped.

I tend to use humor as a way of combating stress so I usually look to see the ridiculous in the most serious moments. Like when my friend and I got lost in the hospital trying to find my daughter-in-law. How insane are the endless corridors that have yet another double door that looks like an operating room. Hospitals cause the perfectly healthy to doubt their sanity and bring on high blood pressure.

Here is this week's playlist. My top five songs on my I-Pod which I listen to as I bicycle my stress to the back forty, in the gym.
1. Dancing In The Rain by Hilary Weeks
When the forecast is rain, rain, and more rain, you just must dance in it.
2. Tokyo by Imagine Dragons
This one is for moving. It gets me actively engaged.
3. Slow Me Down by Emmy Rossum
"Save me! Somebody take my hand and lead me. Before my life flies by somebody slow me down."
4. I Look to You by Whitney Houston
"My levees are breaking. My walls coming down, The rain is falling. Who shall I turn to?
 I look to you!
5. Hello Sunshine by Mercy River
"Oh, my lovely! Shining for me!

Music makes the difference between enduring and enduring with grace.

On the path to wholehearted living music provides a soundtrack, laughter releases the pressures of uncertainty, and dance connects the thinking brain to the feeling body. Thank-you, God for giving me a chance to try out these new wings.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Superpower and Kryptonite

   The work I'm doing in my online class is very fun and meaningful. Brené Brown is so good at illuminating wholehearted living. Guidepost nine lead me through the issues of coming to understand my own gifts and using them in meaningful work. After some questioning of myself and thinking way back, I came to the conclusion that my desire to communicate is a gift.

    I grew up in a home with two cultures and two languages. Often I wanted deeper communication with my parents but I lacked the German and they lacked the English language skills. My sister-in-law, Diane, came into my life just as I hit my teen years. She was my bridge between two cultures and my guide through the maze of finding out how to put words to feelings.

              In the online class, the step after identifying our superpower was to also identity our Kryptonite.

    What diminishes the very strength I have? Sometimes it is using it too much, not using my ability at the right time, or equivocating thought with action.

     I can't tell you how long it took me to say that I was good at my job as a piano teacher. Self-doubt seemed safer in case my inadequacies were revealed. But, golly Moses, I love teaching kids about music and twenty five years later I still maintain a full studio of students.

As I sit here this morning kids asleep, in my son's home at 5:30 am, while he is with his wife in surgery to mend a broken leg, I pinch myself with gratitude for all that is right in my world. I have a few gifts which feed my soul and I can use them for good every day. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Inspiring Artists

I made a creativity goal a few weeks back. I wanted to visit some artists studios. One of the loveliest in my community is the studio of Ilse and Hartmut Reimnitz. With two large rooms facing south, the light is fabulous. 

  Their son does metal sculpture. This tree with birds is just one of the many installations around their property.

          This chest of drawers is so inviting. I want to open each drawer and forage for drawings.

    I noticed all the natural art Ilse hangs around her room to inspire her. Tree branch filigree, dried flowers, leaves, and rocks hang and lie close to her workspace.

                          I enjoyed her pots of brushes with twigs and feathers intermeshed.

     In comparison, my studio faces north. but I love coming here as much as any artist who has a space set aside for beauty and creativity.