An Unexpected Turn…

Life is full of the unexpected.  I was reminded of that last week.  Planning on a getaway from the smoke that has preempted this summer, I headed an hour and a half north.  I planned to be there for one week, Ashland, Oregon.  I planned on enjoying good films, good food, the fun and creative shops, the beautiful park, meeting a friend for dinner and people-watching.

My first morning there, I woke in excruciating pain.  This can’t be happening?  I won’t go into the details…longish story short, I ended up in emergency twice and spent one overnight in the hospital.  The whole odyssey was traumatic…and woven into this were miraculous encounters.  I had to make some choices under duress and away from friends and what was familiar.

This unexpected turn of events left me reeling afterwards.  I process things through body movement, massage, talking about the experience and through creativity.  This wild piece came through to help me to work with my experience.  The process continues as I integrate and heal.

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Writing Prompt:
What are your ways of dealing with trauma?  The unexpected?  Write down what supports you when you are rallying from an unexpected or traumatic experience.

The “Fierce Defender”

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Did you know that the male Cardinal bird is nicknamed the “Fierce Defender?”

In the Native American Culture, there are totem animals.  Animals have traits or symbolic qualities that we can apply to our own lives.  Jamie Sams and Ted Andrews are two people who have written extensively about this.  I refer to each of them when an animal crosses my path…especially an animal that I rarely see…like a bear or a wolf.  Or when I suddenly feel drawn to a particular animal.  I consult their books or go within myself to inquire as to what that animal offers that might be of help to me in any given situation.

Writing Prompt:
Is there an animal that has been crossing your path recently?  Or even one that you feel drawn to?  What might that be about?

 

Painting as a Personal Process Facilitator

I received one of those dreaded phone calls.  My ex-husband had a stroke!  It wasn’t looking good.  A surge of helplessness arose in me.  And fear.  I live a distance from where he lives.  I needed to do something while waiting for news.  This painting is by no means a work of art.  However, this is what I was prompted to paint.  I call it “Prayer.”

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When I first began painting in 2014, it was all about following my intuition.  As I added marks to the canvas, I noticed images.  I defined some of those images.  My expertise at drawing, combining colors and making a painting cohesive didn’t exist.  However, intuitive painting was a good way for me to begin this artistic journey.

I quickly discovered, that like poetry and journal writing, painting facilitated my personal process.  In this particular instance, painting helped me to handle the big emotions and the feelings of helplessness.  (It has been a long road for my ex-husband, but he did recover from the stroke.)

Contemplation:
Have you noticed how your creative practice facilitates your personal life process?  Can you think of specific instances where you turned to your creative practice to support you in some way?

Appreciate your art-making.

Grieve Deeply, Laugh Loudly

pic2We’ve heard this, right?  In order to feel the joy, you have to feel the sorrow.  If you shut off one part of yourself, you are shutting off being fully alive.  How you relate to your emotional life is going to affect your writing and creativity.

Poetry has been the greatest facilitator of the big emotions for me.  Journal writing and painting are close seconds.  I’ve learned that as I’m able to be present with an emotion, I then pass through that territory.  I come out the other side intact and a bit more integrated.

To be an effective writer, finding a way to say “I feel sad” without explicitly stating “I feel sad,” comes with practice.

Below is an excerpt from a piece I wrote in 2011.  My parents had died six months apart following several years of their decline and concurrent family disruption.

“I stopped at Burger Express.  It seemed like a burger was called for.  Single patty with cheese, no special sauce, no onions.  Yes to catsup.  Yes to small fries.  No book to read.  Waiting for my order.  Staring out at the falling snowflakes.  Staring out at nothing.  Squinting and staring at signs across the street.  Staring.  The wait person calls my number.  I take the red tray and head towards a little tucked-away table.  A man sitting at the counter asks “Are you going to share half of that with me?”  I recognize an acquaintance’s warm voice.  I stop to say hello and tell him that my Mom died last week.  I am telling everyone it seems.  Now, the cook, cashier and waitperson at Burger Express know too.  He is sorry.  His Dad died a year ago.  His Mom, 84, lives an hour south of here.  Everything is so tentative.  He gives me a big hug in his bear arms.  “If there is anything I can do, let me know.” He adds “Seriously.”  I thank him.  How I’d like to be held in strong arms for half a day.  I think that would really help.  It gets old, this wrapping my own arms around myself all the time.”

In this short excerpt, do you get a sense of my grief?  Did writing about this help me?  In some odd way, yes.  I wasn’t in denial of these feelings and I found refuge through writing these words.

WRITING PROMPT:
How do you write about the feeling of sadness?  Typically, this type of writing is only for you.  Do you allow yourself to fully express your sadness in writing, poetry or painting or any other creative outlet?

 

 

Engaging the Fantasy

Date Night2Worlds emerge through our art-making.  Though they aren’t necessarily the agreed upon reality, they exist somewhere–perhaps–outside of the conscious in the unconscious, your personal or the greater unconscious.

What an interesting territory to explore and bring into form through writing and art.

For me, it is most accessible through painting.  I tap into it when I allow something to show and reveal itself to me.  I engage the conversation and follow the lead I receive through inquiry–“what is showing itself to me?”

It is the territory of the imaginal realm…

As defined by Mary Harrell, Ph.D.,

“As a first definition of the imaginal realm, I’ll borrow from Iranologist and scholar Henry Corbin (1997) who said that the imaginal realm is a subtle world, which exists in a field between matter and mind.”

And I like this one from Wikipedia:

“Coleridge distinguished imagination, which expresses realities of an imaginal realm transcending any personal existence, and ‘fancy’, or fantasy, which expresses the creativity of the artistic soul. For him, ‘imagination is the condition for cognitive participation in a sacramental universe’.”

Finally, this one by C. S. Lewis:

C.S. Lewis considered that “reason is the organ of truth, but imagination is the organ of meaning.

Creative Prompt:
Where have you gone lately, in your imagination?  Through your writing or through your art-making?  What’s your favored vehicle for visiting the imaginal realm?

Origin

owl4An online dictionary definition of the word origin:  “the point or place where something begins, arises, or is derived.”

Isn’t that a word that we investigate over the course of our lives?  One of those words that invite the existential questions that humans, from serfs to philosophers, ponder throughout time.

The unanswerable…yet, we go there in our thoughts, perhaps more so in times of grief and loss.

Origin, the word itself, looks pretty.  Like I could design a painting around it.  That which emerges from the emptiness, the black hole, the no-thing, the fertile void from which everything has risen.

Writing Prompt:
Get quiet.  Sit comfortably.  Soften your gaze or close your eyes.  Imagine…nothing.  The void.  The emptiness.  The deep quiet.  The solitary feeling that connects you to everything.  How long can you comfortably sit with this?  Notice.  What thoughts arise and can you allow them to dissolve into the nothing?  What passing thought stops you and prompts you to pick up your pen and write?  Then, write for as long as you must.

Ah, Origin.