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My Art Therapy Journey

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How can I wish for this part of my life to be over when so much I cling to the loss of it.  What is done is done.  A child taken too soon who nobody sees take a last breath.  No casket, no belly seen and then suddenly unfilled.  Aloneness.  Deep depths of no return.

Pray Love take this void.

Pray hate to die in waiting.

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Sometimes I get tired and seeking solace isn’t very solacing.  To expect is to work.  But still, I find myself doing it, even, or especially, in the hours of greatest exhaustion. Tiredness leads to forgetfulness.  And I don’t know what forgetfulness leads to…because I forget.

 

Growing is also work, but it is usually supposedly good for you.  Growing pains.  Is there anyone that doesn’t know about those?

 

I rise and fall.  I grow and seek solace.

 

My heart has a full ache and I try to fill it with more.

 

 

Some Struggles:

Paranoia/Fear

Shame

Embarrassment

Anger

Memory Lapses/Forgetfulness

Auto-Immune Disease/Chronic Pain

Body Image/Eating Issues

Some Miracles:

Breath/Life/I’m still here

Love

Friendships

Marriage

Children

Intellectual Understanding

Empathy

Hope

Grace

What if Light itself is a miracle?  What if all of everything is really a miracle?

Sometimes I get to thinking I have so many struggles, but to write them down makes them graspable.  I can narrow them down better that way.  Maybe sometimes the struggles list changes.  It can shrink or grow.  But the Miracles list is at least, I think, consistent.  The felt presence of miracles might wax and wane, but once they’ve made the list I think they are always there.  Miracles never diminish or go away.  And maybe struggles will always exist to some degree just because I am human, but when I run those struggles through the lens of a miracle that is always there to save me, I can trust they will be manageable.  To list it out takes away the emotion that can sometimes run away with my heart-my grounding and stability in this world.

I get thrown into tailspins, but today I will keep coming back to how many incredible crashes I have made it through.  If I focus on how the story has always eventually resolved, maybe I can eventually carry on from the end and skip the panic part.

 

There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein

I don’t know what to say.  For over 3 months I have not known what to say.  Coming here to write, I couldn’t even remember when the last time was.  I was scared to see where I was last time I was here.  I’ve only skimmed through my last post.  I saw mention of drugs and dependency several times.

It’s like a whole other world…those 3 months ago.  It was before I’d even officially turned 33. It was in another lifetime.

These days I think more and say a lot less.  I’m not sure if my therapist would agree with me on that statement, but it’s how it feels to me most of the time.  I’m starting to open.  It’s vulnerable and things change frequently within the span of one complete thought.  So to share a single thought is even more vulnerable.  The moment a thought breathes it’s like it’s written for eternity.  It becomes like a statue.  Now that I’m breaking out of that frozen place it scares me to go back.

 

I’m still into my art.  I haven’t painted for many, many months, but I have been active with clay and ceramics.  I have tables and shelves full of half-finished work to show for it.  Some is still in the form of hardened, dry mud that might some day become cups, bowls, and plates.  Some have seen the fire once and are more solid, but still in question about what their last role will be.  They are raw.  No glaze, no color, skeletons still.  But most of what I have is probably still in my heart and mind.

 

Two of my ceramic sculpture projects are on display at school that I made for class last semester.  I don’t know what to say about those even.  I can never seem to talk about my art much, but if you get me going I could talk about the impact of art and what it means to me for hours.  But right now it’s all a little airy.

Not empty air though.  More airy…like God.  A definite, invisibly visible shape.

It’s the shape my life seems to taking.  I look more, or at least more closely.  I wait before making judgments and tend to keep my judgments (about people, places or things seen or unseen) open.  It’s because I realize I know so little with certainty.  And how can I possibly judge another person’s heart when so many people in this world seem to not even know their own heart they live so near everyday? It keeps me open to others and focused on getting familiar with myself.

I’ll tell you, this isn’t always a pleasant endeavor for me.  Did you know there are feelings in your heart?  Real, complex feelings.  I didn’t used to know this.  My conscious being existed separate from my breath.  I was living a divided existence and calling it “Me,” and I thought and believed this Me was all I had.

It was never everything.

A shock.

A revelation.

A death and a new life.

 

For myself, several new lives.  I’m beginning to see how I cut myself off, one at a time or perhaps many at a time throughout my years on this earth-all 33 of them.

 

I keep coming back to how I used to know so much.

It makes me laugh now.

 

Sometimes I’ll laugh at something like that and sit in curious wonderment for hours in my mind, even when life is busy taking care of business with motherhood and family.  My mind simmers on how I knew things and how unwell I know those same things now.

Funny, isn’t it?

God, so funny.

 

 

This evening me and my husband had a luscious conversation about our spirituality and beliefs about life, religion and the journey of it all.  I am using the term “our spirituality,” but actually we each are quite different on our individual paths.  It’s a bit crazy that we actually even ended up married because we see things so differently, but then there are times when we meet in the middle.  We met in the middle enough to have a baby together and start a family anyway.

A lot of spiritual stuff has been on my mind, but that’s because my whole life has kind of been a strongly spiritual kind of journey, even though I didn’t necessarily pick it to be.  It kind of just happened…like being born.

I don’t know what to say about it because there’s so much to say about it.  And I’m a little scared to say some of the things I think because I don’t want my thoughts to be misconstrued as propaganda.  As if the world needs more propaganda these days.  (I think that and I don’t even practice watching the news.)

But if I remember right, I think our conversation got started because I was talking to my husband about motherhood.  Specifically, motherhood and the expectations on mothers in our society (we’re in Midwest USA), and even more specifically (or possibly more broadly) the “Christian ideal picture” of motherhood.

I’m not sure I belong in the midwest, and at this time I don’t identify with any organized religion.  Just saying, because I do have a lot of thoughts about both of these things.    I also don’t not (and I do mean that, this is not just bad grammar)  identify as a Christian.  It could be a confusing thing to try to categorize where I am.  It is for myself, sometimes.  And I guess I should also preemptively say I’m not looking for me and my family to be “saved”  and that doesn’t mean I want us to go to any literal or figurative hell.  It just means that I have faith in the journey so please let me be on it.  If I’m meant to find your cabin in the woods, I will.

I’m just sharing.  Pretend you have found my journal at the base of a tree, perhaps, with clear signs I will be returning.  For example, chocolate and coffee are nearby.  And pretend there is a little message beside my journal that says…”Read this if you want…at your own risk.”  But the risk part is not a threat.  It’s just the understanding between us that I actually have no idea where I’m going with all of this talk at the moment.

A little insider info about me…because I’m being just so private here, I know:

I wear a (small, and not clearly recognizable from a distance) cross around my neck.  Right next to (or on opposites sides of it, depending on how the charms lay on any particular day) are the words “grace” and “patience.”  This is where I am.  This is the most definitive place for myself I have come to on my spiritual journey, recently.

I would tell you what pieces on my necklace symbolize or refer to exactly, but I’m not sure exactly.  It’s just part of me right now, and I accept that.  I’m generally an open and accepting sort of person.

But anyway, back to the motherhood thing.  The motherhood thing.  It’s such a “thing” isn’t it?  It’s like one of the things you’re warned to not talk about with anyone else, lest you need to defend your life.  Everyone knows not to raise the subject of Politics, Religion and above all…Motherhood in uncertain company.

But I’ll just say it.

I don’t vote (usually.)   I’d probably be considered Agnostic (if forced into a box,) and I’m on the fence about my place in the world (particularly what my role as a mother should look like.)

I’m not sure how I turned out to be such an opinionated person, but I might see myself as opinionated just because I have many thoughts about a lot of different, and sometimes potentially volatile, subjects.

I’m just not imposingly opinionated.

***

After looking into it, since I am writing about this here, after-all….I’m actually probably a Gnostic Christian,not really A-gnostic.  Which just opened up some trail for me, as I speak.   (I have a sneaking feeling I knew this about myself once before, but got lost in trying to fit into a cabin that didn’t have space for me, or something, because the term “gnostic” is suspiciously familiar to me.)

***

Have you ever known or seen a chain smoker?  Perhaps you are one yourself, even.  Well, then you would understand me right now.  I am a chain gum-chewer and I’m at the end of my pack so I’m really trying to get somewhere with this post quick, because even the a-b-c gum is soon to be out of date for usefulness  if I don’t somehow get to it.

Oh that’s right!  I was getting to something!

I don’t remember it now.

I think I’m scared to let it out now, and I actually want to research gnostic Christianity for the rest of the night instead! Ha.

***

So I was saying about this luscious conversation with my husband-no fighting, no yelling, crying or hurt feelings, nobody being left stranded on the side of the road or running out the door before remembering to to get fully dressed to save themselves from the other.  A true gem of a discourse is what we had.

But I’m procrastinating here, now.

Maybe I’m not ready to speak about this publicly.  But I want to.  Because it’s a big deal, but that’s also why maybe I’m not ready yet.

Ah, I’ll get there.  But it might be 3am. before I do….and it’s only 9:20pm here.

Ugh, I guess I better save my energy for what I feel coming on…..

Sorry about tricking you into reading the preface…(I really didn’t mean to!)

A couple of days ago I made a connection with someone who left me asking, “What if…?” The “…” are representative because there are so many endings to that question.  I guess the “What if’s” are different for everyone.

I feel full of possibilities.  “What if…everything?”

In my life I haven’t always been sure that staying alive was the right thing to do.  And I mean “staying alive” in a more of a way than just the mechanics of breathing. Even breathing in a way that keeps the body going can be a challenge sometimes, but  I’m really talking about keeping my heart alive.  Passion, hope, love.  There is risk in living with light.  The body can die, but the heart can be devastated when something important goes wrong.

Things have gone wrong before.  I’ve had opportunities to give up at times when people might not have even judged it as a weakness, and I would have liked to have taken my break.

Somehow there’s always been something keeping me going.  A resuscitation, I guess.   Maybe that’s when the light has taken the driver’s seat. Admittedly, on the really hard days I haven’t always been grateful for that force so dedicated to my continuation.

But then there are days with connection, mystery and magic…that grow my spirit enough to help me feel I can support the energy of life again on my own.  But never, of course, completely on my own since those are the days I am most lifted up.

Those days are the ones with rainbows.  That unexpected gift of communication when I’m looking for convincing evidence that it’s safe to come out and interact again even though the clouds are still foreboding.

So…what if I am safe?

What if…my life matters?

What if…I have something worth sharing?

What if…I’m not alone?

What if…everything has a reason?

What if…I can’t find a reason, but it all matters anyway?

What if my story was meant to be heard?

What if the beginning really is a very good place to start?

What if?

What if?

What if?

 

If you’re wondering who this someone is who inspired these questions this time, it is a film maker named Mary Trunk who is now editing her most recent documentary titled Lost In Living…Here is a brief description of this film I’m so grateful for and link to a generous 10 minute Trailer which I found on Kickstarter.  This is a film filled with passion and honesty which I feel privileged to be a backer for (and is still open for funding, so check it out.)

“Behind the domestic curtain of motherhood, where the creative impulse can flourish or languish, are four women determined to make a go of it. Filmed over seven years, Lost In Living, confronts the contradictions inherent in personal ambition and self-sacrifice, female friendship and mental isolation, big projects and dirty dishes. The complex realities of family life unfold in this documentary film about the messy intersection of motherhood and artistic expression.”

 

 

 

***

 

A couple of weeks ago we had a brief storm in my city during the middle of our midwest drought. I was lucky enough to be out in it.  If I hadn’t had to run to the store with my daughter for essentials while my husband was out-of-town I would have only heard the rain.  When we arrived at the store the clouds were beginning to break and the sun was coming through.  I saw a man across the parking lot taking an iPhone pic of the sky.  And, of course, I had my phone too.  I took a picture of the sky and clouds facing the opposite direction.  It was magnificent.

Storm Clouds Breaking

 

When I left the store the sky was still filled with brilliant form and light.  I took out my phone again for more pics, shooting away, when a guy with his daughter walking in motioned to my left and said, “There’s a rainbow over there.”

Light Entering

 

 

A cloud among many

 

Soft Blank Slate

Alive

 

There I was, looking right at the sky and missed the rainbow entirely!  I was a little embarrassed, but grateful for the direction!  It actually turned out to be a double rainbow, so quite a treat!  It was large so I couldn’t get both sides in with one shot, and naturally, the photos don’t  nearly do the experience justice.  It was warm and cool, wet and sunny with the most amazing light.  A wordless beauty, for sure.

Rainbow

 

Don’t forget to look for the rainbows…

 

 

 

Mary and Max.  I might be the last person on the face of this planet to watch this film,  seeing as how there are 1,250,000 views on YouTube of  its original trailer (and at least two handfuls of awards!).  But for the chance that I’m not the last one, I’m compelled to share about it here. [And if you haven’t seen it, then I am sure you are not the last one either.  But you might want to look this one up to be sure you don’t become that person!]

Ok, so I really liked it.  I’m not a great reviewer, but I am fantastic at exclaiming, “You must see this!”     I have to admit that I didn’t see a few parts because I had to run out of the room for other things a few times, but the film was so good that I plan on watching the whole thing again just to catch the small bits I missed.  There is also the chance that I’m adoring  Mary and Max so much because they got me/my life so well in certain ways.  So if you watch it and don’t like it, don’t blame me.  You’ve been informed.  And me/my life is not always completely normal. ; )    Make of it what you will!

As a disclaimer I would say this is an animation I would definitely reserve for adult, or at least mature teen viewers. It’s not exactly one to pop in for the kids on Saturday morning cartoon fest. ; )

FYI: I watched Mary and Max on Netflix, so if you have access to their  instant streaming movies you’re in luck!

I’d love to hear if you’ve already seen this, or if you haven’t… what you thought about it after you’ve had the chance!

Today during Shavasana at the end of my yoga class we  (the class) were guided into a place we dream of, any place we’d like.

I have my place.  I know right where it is.  It’s actually somewhere I’ve had the grace to really sit, even though I had seen it inside me before I was ever there in person.

When I found my place…that special place in the world that is just mine…I knew it.  It was the place I had escaped to for  years.  It was like a working of faith.

But  my place in the world is a really small space in the grand scheme of things.  And when I place myself back in that special place in the world that’s mine, the scope is usually just enough for me to cram myself into it, barely.   I can rarely see anything around me or even see myself.  The surrounding areas are dark and I don’t have access to the full picture.  I get a very limited view, but I’m always excited this place is open to me at all (in my mind.)

Today something was different.  My place, the workings of my faith changed and opened up.  The story grew.

I was on my rock in the meadow, woods all around.  And then I got up and started to move.  And bears (my most feared animal and creature of nightmares) started coming to the edge of the woods where my place in the meadow begins.  They came and they would not cross over into my meadow.  They stood and watched me.  The bears couldn’t get me…Why?  Because I was dancing.  I danced in the fear and the joy was enough to stun them into awe.  They could only watch me…and never eat me.  I was stronger than the fear.  I knew they were there and I still danced.  I danced and leapt  and swung myself around and I ran and jumped like a giddy little girl.  My body knew no pain.

At the end of this sort of meditation, one more piece of the picture appeared in the frame: People who have hurt me.

Those people, like the bears at the edge of the woods, could not get me.  They could only watch in utter amazement at the life of me.

And I….could only be free.

(Image Source)