Today I cried on the floor of the PSOTA art room as I struggled over my feelings, my fears, my envy.
Minutes earlier I had been sketching and journaling while sitting at Refuge Coffee. Overall it was a beautiful time, but it turned negative as I sat listening to the conversation across from me. Two people from a local organization were sharing with a couple (possibly future volunteers or donors maybe) about the organization and the many things it does. In that moment, I grew more and more restless. I grew more and more frustrated with myself. What I was doing in that moment felt stupid and useless. I felt stupid and useless. Here I was sketching, skimming through a magazine, cutting out images, glueing, and circling words while other folks were out there in the world, doing, helping, serving, making a difference in lives. A true difference in the immediate lives and daily needs of people. I don’t really do that. Not in those ways. My practical side craves that. I crave to do, to be useful, yet here I was gluing paper together while sitting alone at a table for four. Sitting alone making something that most people would not see. Making a collage that wouldn’t really create a difference in anyones life. Maybe mine, but not beyond that. What was I doing?
Did it have value? Before I left my table for four, I jotted down my feelings and thoughts on my sketch paper and glued it on the back of my collage. I needed it out. Those feelings. out. to be seen. by at least me. and now you.
Lately I have often had to remind myself “thats not my story” when I look at others lives. I have had to remind myself of some of my story and who I am. This evening I was given the gift of hearing and seeing two friends share about some of that. First was a video post by Nikki Lerner about being generous. She posted it yesterday, but I didn’t see it until this evening. The second was an instagram post pointing to a blog post by Betsy Garmon titled “How to give yourself away properly.” Both of these posts are shared by wise women who I look up to. Wise women who know and are learning to know themselves and what they have to give. I am learning to know myself and what I have to give. at this moment. right now. in this season. I recommend that you go listen to and read those posts. if you have not already clicked on the links, go do it right now.
This is what I have to offer at the moment. My struggle. My tears. My art. My Story.
This week started out cloudy, but its looking like the sun is now peaking through.
With transition comes many things. Some of them are exciting, new and refreshing. Others are like an empty space in your heart, a hole in your life.
I had started this post a month ago when I was preparing to leave for Georgia. I had ideas, pictures, and thoughts I wanted to post on here. Time passed and I did not finish it nor publish it. Perhaps I avoided it. Some of those images and ideas seem irrelevant at this point so I deleted them, but I want finish this post with some similar thoughts. Its okay, its good to acknowledge loss. I was realizing this as I was preparing to drive south a month ago. During this time I was also reading the chapter Enlarge your soul through grief and loss in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. Perhaps that is why it was so on my mind. We need to look at and acknowledge loss. Loss of all shapes and sizes. It is not good to speed past it or act like it is not there. As my responsibilities came to an end, I was thinking about the things I was losing and was about to lose. My losses aren’t permanent devastating losses, but they still are important to see and acknowledge. Losses can add up. My losses add up. They change my actions, thoughts, locations, connections. My losses include weekly rhythms with others in Massachusetts: Wednesday night teen small groups, getting to know the teen girls, picking up Bryanna, Bible study, family dinners, Sunday morning breakfast, time with friends, brother hugs, Hallmark with Mom & Dad, laughing with Landon, missing out on holding a new born “nephew,” building friendships and more. These losses leave a hole in my heart as well as my going has made a hole in theirs.
I have driven through seven states stopping at three different locations. I have arrived to a beautiful home and to a wonderful host. I’ve been in Clarkston for three days and I have felt a variety of feelings. From feeling tired, out of place, & empty to being energized, filled, and at home. I have been amazed at God’s grace and light within some friendships. I am acknowledging my losses, but I am also seeing the gains I’ve already had and will have in the coming months. Losses can open up space for gains. I sit here with an open heart & mind asking God to use me on all my days the weary and the peaceful. He is moving, may I be willing to move with Him in what He is already doing. Here. and Beyond.
The other day I envisioned my year like a clock. Instead of seeing it like a rectangle, like a calendar, still and boxed in, I began to see it like a circle, like a clock, a repeating cycle, open. Yes, I know life on earth is a cycle and has seasons, but this epiphany was more specific to MY LIFE, as it is, right now. As my life actually is and not how it was or how I thought it could be. The last few years have had some of the same major events and experiences as a part of them. I value and enjoy these moments but sometimes there is a weight on me that makes it feel like life shouldn’t be this way. That I shouldn’t have such an all over the place schedule. That I should focus on one thing. I have been internally “should”ing myself for a while now. For example, I like teaching children art. I teach art classes, then why don’t I have an art studio that is open all the time and focus much of my time and energy on that. I “should” do that or something like it. I don’t really want to though. I realized that I enjoy having that time, but I also enjoy the short spurt of it. I enjoy a mix of other things as well. Will I have an art studio or teach art more regularly someday, maybe. Right now, art and creativity are woven throughout my life and that is enough. Is there one aspect of it something I really need to focus on or am really called to focus on? I don’t know. We’ll see.
My life, what I actually have had for the last few years is clock that has rotated through the months. It has included many events regularly in those months. Some major ones shown in the picture above. I’ve been in a process of letting go of all the “should’s” and “could have beens.” I’ve been not only seeing but also embracing what I actually have wondering how I can really work it. Moving with my life instead of fighting and pushing against it. It’s different than it was, it’s different than I wanted, but it’s good and I enjoy it and I am thankful.
Similarly, I am embracing my new hair cut. It’s different than what I have had for the last fifteen years and its different than I wanted, but it’s what I got. It has its quirks but it’s cute and I enjoy it. I can fight the quirks or I can embrace them and work them for my benefit, my beauty.
What pieces of your life do you need to stop fighting against. What do you need to see in a new way and embrace?
I invited some friends to participate with me in a group blackout project. The idea was for all of us to use the same text to create our own blackout poetry. We had two options to choose from. We could do either or both. The first was part of an article from the AAA newsletter. The second option was a from an art book I was doing blackout poetry in.
Below are the participants names and their poems.
... more will be added as they are sent in...
There is something to be said about just stopping and taking a little bit of time to observe and see what is around you. To notice details, colors, textures. After sitting in front of the computer for a few hours, I had about 40 minutes before I needed to leave. I decided my time would best be used for my soul if I took a walk like I had hoped to do earlier in the day, but hadn’t gotten to. I was right. It was perfect. At first I didn’t think I would get very far on the walk because I stopped almost immediately to take a picture. then another. and another. But I allowed myself to both walk and observe.
Instead of using 15-30 minutes scrolling through friends statuses or getting distracted on the computer consider using it to observe relax in a creative way you enjoy.
Before leaving Central Falls, RI this past weekend, I took a short walk to the park down the street. As I viewed the city from both up high and down low, I enjoyed seeing the fall colors shining bright in the sun.
I am not a multi-tasker. I am easily distracted by too many things and am overwhelmed by too many options. I am also distracted by clutter and I feel like I have to organize and clean before I can get anything done. The catch is I also like to collect and save so there are many things that I can organize and reorganize and rereorganize. I’m good at organizing the physical things around me. I am not good at organizing my life and my time. When something new and important is added into my life I tend to drop something else, which also tends to be important to me. This is dropping is not a purposeful drop. That would be different. This dropping is realizing after a week, a month, a year that something is missing. Wondering what happened. I have not figured it out yet. How to keep it all in or at least how to keep the most important things in. I want to take some time figuring out what needs to stay and what needs to go. I want to be more intentional when dropping the old out of my life. We all have limits of what we can do in one day, week, month, year and lifetime. We all have new things added in regularly. Something has to go when something new comes. I am slowly seeing what that looks like for me. I know that I don’t have control over all that comes, but I do have the ability to make decisions and choose some. I want to choose differently in some ways. In many ways I love the choices and opportunities I have been given and taken. In other ways I do not not. Something needs to change. I’m not sure what exactly, but I do want to press through and re-add certain things into my life, like writing, keeping a daily notebook, and listening to God’s Spirit. These are things I enjoy, things I need. Now how to clean out my excess in order to focus on whats left.
What do you need to re-add and clean-out?
Last week while driving to Parachute, Colorado, I tried stopping at a place called Hanging Lake. My friend Julie had just told me about it the night before and suggested going if I had the chance. When I pulled onto the road to the Hanging Lake Rest area there were cars stop in a line all the way to a bridge. She had warned me that there could be a twenty minute wait to park. I had hoped not. I stopped behind them waiting on the bridge. I had no idea how far it was to the parking lot and we were not moving. At all. The only time we did move was because a car in front of me did a 3 point turn and went back out. I ate my lunch as I waited but after a little bit I decided I did not really want to wait, I did not want to park, I did not want to walk. I wanted to continue on to my destination. I didn’t wait too long. I think it was around 20 minutes, but I was being impatient so I am not sure. I figured I could go back earlier in the day on my way home (to Denver). So I turned my rental car around and went on my way.
On my way back to Denver, I didn’t leave as early as I wanted, but I was only 30-45 minutes behind my planned departure time. As I got closer to the rest area there were signs saying “Hanging Lake Rest Area Parking Lot Full... Use Other Rest Area.” I ignored the first one thinking “maybe its not actually full... people have to leave at some point.” The second sign had me second guessing. As I approached the off ramp there was another sign and I quickly had to decide whether I would get off or not. Because of construction, if I got off at that exit I would be adding forty-five minutes onto my drive whether or not I was able to park and hike to hanging lake. Also when I waited before there were not any signs saying the lot was full so I wasn’t sure how full the lot had to be this time. and I didn’t really want to wait. I’m not good at making quick decisions, but I had to. I had to decide. I decided to not get off.
As soon as I passed the exit, I was disappointed and knew that right now was my chance and I was letting it pass by. I don’t know when the next time I will be in Colorado, never mind this area. I had noticed a bike path that ran along the Colorado River and sometimes closer to the highway. Figuring that the path connected these rest stops together, I thought, “if the next rest stop is within a few miles I will park there and walk. Its doable.” At that point, I glanced at my odometer and kept driving until I saw the next exit. I pulled off, parked, and started walking. I figured I would give myself about an hours walk then would turn around if I didn’t make it to the trail by then. Would I have really turned around? I don’t know. At that point I was determined to get there. I made it to the trail in just about my time limit so I didn’t really have to make that decision. Although I was unsure at many moments thinking I might have to turn back as I found myself saying, “Its gotta be around the next corner. Oh, not that one. Maybe the next mountain side. Nope. Its gotta be soon... I think.”
My total trip (to hanging lake and back to my car) took me about five hours: one hour to the trail, one hour up the trail, about an hour taking photos and eating a snack, a little less than an hour down, rest at the bottom with more photos, and about one hour back to my car. The walk back was the hardest. My feet were achy and at some point I just needed to take my hiking shoes off. So I did. I walked the rest of the way back barefoot. It felt so good and seemed like a good idea. The bike path was smooth and clean at first. Eventually it was falling apart in parts and was rocky to walk on. I kept on going though. As I walked I felt something under my feet and thought “Huh, it feels like I have something on the bottom of my heels.” I kept walking. A few minutes later I stopped and quickly looked noting that I had a blister forming on the outsides of both my heels. I kept walking wondering when I would make it back, wondering if I was going slower then before, wondering if I stopped would I start again.
A few minutes after I took a picture of a sign indicating to the cars on the road they were within half mile of the rest stop, a mother and her son rode by on their bikes. The mother and I caught eyes and smiled at each other. As her son passed me, he encouragingly shouted “You’re so close!!” His mom and I locked eyes again and smiled. I chuckled and was thankful for the encouragement. Although it didn’t seem like it was so close, I did make it back to my car to start my two hour plus drive back to Denver.
I’m glad I stopped. Was it a little crazy? Perhaps. If you want to go on hike to see Hanging Lake and the sights along the way, I recommend it. I don’t recommend starting from another rest stop (unless you have a bicycle) because at points you may be too tired to fully enjoy yourself, but it is doable if necessary. Just don’t have a small child in tow. I think that would be a real long five hours for them. and for you. Maybe a encouraging hiking companion who is willing to walk a lot would be good to have around. That could have been fun.
I think there are a lot more things, a lot more walking that I can do then I give myself credit for. I can’t say I was going very fast the whole time, but I didn’t give up. My decision was to make it there and back. And that I did. Tired. Satisfied. With lots of beautiful photos. and in Awe of our Creator. Our Sustainer. Our Turning Point.
At Infusion 2015 a couple of weeks ago I was creating a piece of art during worship. I had prepared my paint and the brushes I would use. God had another plan for me. Instead of using brushes I went back to the simple basics of using my fingers and hands to apply the paint. It felt great. That week I did a total of 4 paintings on cardboard done in that way. Some of them I used a brush for a small part but mostly I just used my hands. I’m a person who likes tactile experiences and decided I really enjoy painting directly with my hands. Why don’t I do this more often? I should start. So I created a few when I got home that next week.
I also started posting pictures of them on Instagram with#fingerpainting. I explored the variety of amazing art pieces created with fingers and hands. Of course I saw children covered in paint and their works of art too.
I started following this one lady, Iris Scott. She does amazing paintings with oil paints and her hands. She wheres gloves when she creates. I saw her post one painting that she had just finished of the view from her studio window. Within 24hrs it was sold. Her work inspires me. I wonder what else is out there. I think I may try oils sometime in the near’ish future.
When was the last time you painted with your hands, your fingers?
Did you enjoy it? Do you think you could again?
Have you ever had the opportunity to wait?
You were expecting to do something or meet with someone at a specific time when something else came up to interrupt what you were going to do or the person you were going to meet? What did you do? Did you get exasperated, frustrated, and waste the time away or did you see it as an opportunity to do something new, to adventure, to find beauty?
I had a waiting experience yesterday (along with many other times in my life). I was meeting a friend for dinner after work. I’m not usually in the state she lives in never mind the city she works in. As I was driving to meet her, I received a text asking me to wait for her because a client had just walked in. I parked down the street from her office waiting in my car for a few minutes. I had never been to this city before, well maybe driving through, but never near downtown. It was small but there were so many old brick buildings. I love brick buildings. They are beautiful. I decided to get out of my car to take a few photos. They didn’t come out as I would have liked, but it inspired more photo taking. I took time to walk down a few of the streets looking around seeing details and beauty. I know I didn’t see all that area had to share, but what I did see captured me for a few minutes. It was an enjoyable creative time of waiting.
Shortly after I moved my car to a free after 5pm spot, my friend was ready to go. She brought me to a lovely taqueria restaurant that reminded me of my times in Mexico. Apparently my friend is a take out regular there, but yesterday we dined in. We drank Agua de Jamaica and I ate a corn taco plate with rice and beans. It was delicious. It was a short but a lovely time with a friend I don’t get to see often.
What will you do the next time you have to wait unexpectedly?
Photos taken in Manchester, NH