Sunday, November 5, 2017

Little Feathers: The Most Surprising Thing

Little Feathers: The Most Surprising Thing: Everyone I know is looking for freedom. Freedom to be themselves. Freedom to work toward goals formed by hopes and dreams. And freedom from ...

The Most Surprising Thing

Everyone I know is looking for freedom. Freedom to be themselves. Freedom to work toward goals formed by hopes and dreams. And freedom from things, like self-doubt and the mashing thumb of the disapproval of others. I've been talking about how this affects our willingness to "put our selves out there" with my friend Sherry Dill. And this morning I thought about the most surprising thing.

You would think that emptying myself of ego, freeing myself from expectations to be good enough, might leave me without defenses and self protection. And that is actually true. But the surprising part is that the very willingness to be defenseless, to be vulnerable, gives me the power to learn to paint. To learn to write. To learn to sing. To learn to design. To get better at Math!!! Because, by letting go of the need to be talented, I make way for inspiration, I make way for improvement. Letting go of needing others to like my (fill in the blank- stories, blogs, paintings, songs etc) sets me free to fail spectacularly. And what a gift it is to be okay with that. If I don't need to be good enough for others to approve of me, I can be free to try new things. I can start at the beginning and see each stage as a wondrous adventure.

If every opera student quit when they didn't sound like someone from the Met, how many opera singers would there be in this world? You get what I'm driving at without lots of other examples. But I am in love with the notion that being free to be bad at something until I'm good at it is empowering.

The key to all of this is an elementary self love. An elementary willingness to let the world in, to be vulnerable. For years, I felt humility at war with self confidence. I believed I could do things, could learn things, could accomplish goals I set for myself, but I thought I needed to keep up a guard of humbleness to make sure I didn't get a big head. But the most surprising thing is that setting myself free to fail is the most empowering thing I can do. A huge piece of that is shrugging off criticism, beginning with self-criticism.

There's a great book that talks about this, called The War Of Art. Josh Beglau gave me that book when I started writing. A theme in the book is that what we tell ourselves about ourselves becomes our reality. This morning a post on facebook said, "The words you speak become the house you live in." Same idea. What we tell ourselves about ourselves becomes our jail, or our freedom.

Freedom comes from letting go of my defenses. Who would have guessed, all those years while I was honing my excuses, my limitations? Now I don't have any. I will paint bad pictures. I will write bad poems. And I'm good with it. I will have learned something from the effort. I can say that without hating myself for failing. I can see it, nod at it, put it in the pile of paintings with a grin on my face. How can I not smile, when I get this amazing chance to learn something as wonderful as the self expression of painting? I guess maybe it's that particular smile that is the most surprising thing.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Little Feathers: Going To The Sun (Cabin) Road

Little Feathers: Going To The Sun (Cabin) Road: There's a road in Glacier National Park in Montana that has the most beautiful name. Going To The Sun Road. When I hear it, I feel nosta...

Going To The Sun (Cabin) Road

There's a road in Glacier National Park in Montana that has the most beautiful name. Going To The Sun Road. When I hear it, I feel nostalgic, hopeful, longing for something just beyond my conscious thought.

We are very lucky to have a cabin in a beautiful mountain valley in New Mexico. Called Valle Escondido, our hidden/secret valley is full of amazing people, and the secret power of the old Sangre De Cristo mountains. I say they have a power, because they restore my spirit. The air is pure there, the sound of wind in the evergreens is a balm to my soul.

We love to spend the summers there, but have not been able to the past two years. We leave tomorrow for a few weeks, and I am feeling that same nostalgia, hope and longing. We'll drive through hot, flat West Texas, which has its own undeniable beauty. There is not a wider sky anywhere.

When we reach Ft Sumner, NM (where the sheriff loves to hide a bit and give tickets), we stop driving West and take a right turn. Toward the mountains. Toward the cabin. Toward people we love in Valle Escondido. Though we've been traveling WNW the whole time, this turn is dramatic.

It takes a while to see the mountains, but my eyes search for them from the time we make that turn. North. North to the mountains, where the birds will be the only sound in the morning. Where the air will be rich with the smell of trees and rain and earth. Where the air is so dry that the blue of the sky is deep, strikingly beautiful. Where rainbows sit on the tops of the mountains, their ends touching our valley.

Tomorrow we will only it make it as far as Lubbock, because we've gotten used to doing the drive the easy way- two short days. But on Tuesday a little after noon, you can bet our car, Flex Luther, will turn it's face to the north. On the Going To The Cabin Road.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Little Feathers: Heartbeat

Little Feathers: Heartbeat: Sally Nava, our beautiful daughter, middle child, amazing woman- made this card for me. I asked her to choose inspirational sayings for...

Heartbeat


Sally Nava, our beautiful daughter, middle child, amazing woman- made this card for me. I asked her to choose inspirational sayings for greeting cards that she watercolors. She chose this one to paint. Because hope is the heartbeat of her soul.

When someone who has been through a life-changing hardship, like Sally's car wreck, still talks about hope, it makes me pay attention to my own heartbeat. 

I don't know anyone anywhere who is immune to dark thoughts, to times when the sad parts seem overwhelming. But the courage to go on, the courage to do the next right thing starts with hope. Hope that we will heal. Hope that we will make it through, and with the added benefit of lessons learned, obstacles overcome, gratitude washing over us like the water of grace to give us new life.

For me, hope is born of a faith that I am part of something greater than myself. Greater than the offerings I lay out there in the world. If I always got what I deserve, if I received only what I earn, I would find it harder to hope. I don't mean to say that I hope in order to get a better life. But I do say that hoping brings me a better life. Starting in my own heart. Giving me faith that, as Julian of Norwich said seven hundred years ago, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well". Imagine the difficult world Julian lived in the 1300s. Even our crazy, out-of-whack, scary world of today can't be worse.  

Hope is the heartbeat of the soul. Thankfully.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Little Feathers: This Box Of Things

Little Feathers: This Box Of Things: An embroidered handkerchief. It's folded into an envelope that also holds a note from my mother, saying her grandmother made it, and may...