saying no to say yes

I am going to write fast and furious because in just about twenty minutes the last day of February is over and the first day of March begins. Endings and beginnings. With this turning, I am ready to release some things from my life. Good things. Very good things. But I am learning, everything for a reason and everything for a season.

Coming into 2015, I realized that I am GREAT at distracting myself with other voices, with wonderful offerings. I already possess all that I need to walk forward into the life of my dreams. Years of insecurity had caused me to create crutches for myself. I relied to heavily on others to give me the answers, to lead me, to guide me. It is time for me to guide myself.

Though I purposed to set boundaries around myself so that distraction would not be a temptation, I have held on to some things out of love, out of loyalty, out of honoring the good they have brought to me. I have been hearing my own voice echoing back to me for the last eight weeks and I know it is time to let go. To say no so that I can say yes.

My friends and I have frequently said to each other, “When you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to something else.” It is our way of reminding each other to honor our priorities. I am realizing that in order to have more time to say yes to my work in the world, my truth, to me then I have to say no to other things. Say no so that I can say yes.

This morning I went to the easel with tons of questions that ultimately led me to one statement. Sometimes I just want to know. I was looking for confirmation and I found it.

need to know

There is surety in her eyes. She does not waver. She does not question herself. She knows the next step and the next and the next. She is kind in her leaving but she must leave in order to find the space for her own voice, her own guidance, her own way.

under pressure

Three giant fists grip my body today. One around my forehead, another holds tight to my neck, and yet another wraps around my upper back. The pressure has been constant all day and I haven’t had to look at the weather channel to know that the barometric pressure has been slowly rising at the same time. Some days are like this. My body tunes into the weather patterns and rides the waves of rising and falling pressure. Sometimes this shows up as migraine pain with visual disturbances. Other days, it just drains all my energy. Then there is the squeezing pressure of my own.

Today I have had no pain but near constant visual disturbances and constant pressure. It’s unsettling to feel this way and honestly, it just sort of pisses me off. Who has time for this?! Not me. So to the easel I went because I refused to let the weather sensitive body dictate my productivity or derail my creative practice.

Pictures

Today this worked. Today I was able to rise above the pressure and still live my life. I know that another day might not be the same but today, I flourished under pressure and I went on to tackle other projects. Still tonight, I can feel it but I get to choose how to ride this one out.

And simply because it is one of the best songs ever and because there are very relevant lines in the lyrics, here’s the song:

And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves

and that’s something to think about.

beauty and biscuits

Today, I started cleaning out my mother’s house in preparation of selling it soon. It was weirdly difficult. She has been gone for nine months and I have yet to sit with my grief for any length of time. Life is too busy and I need a big chunk of time and privacy. Instead, I move from one thing to the next, robotically making my way through the days, covering myself with a list of things to do. I haven’t been ready to face my grief. I am not sure that I am ready yet. But there is this empty house to tend to.

I am making my way through challenging feelings about my mother, coming to terms with how I feel she failed me, and ultimately thinking about the ways I haven’t shown up well for my own children. Just today, I lashed out at two of my adult children about something. I was frustrated and I let my frustration burst out unhindered. My daughter asked why I had to be so rude about it and I said, “because being nice about it doesn’t work.” She snipped as I walked away, “I haven’t seen you be nice about it yet.”

She is right. I was rude today and I think I have been rude every time I have brought this situation up to them. I justified it in my own mind but there is really no reason to ever be rude. I was wrong. I am grateful that my eyes opened, my heart softened quickly. I talked to them, told them that I was sorry. I think we are ok.

But it all gets convoluted in my mind. I think I grieve more of what I didn’t have while my mother was still alive and the even more that I lost as her health declined. I feel that I failed her as much as I feel that she failed me. Sigh. It’s all difficult.

My childhood home doesn’t hold great trauma. I think if would be easier to explain the negative energy that swarms throughout the house if it did. Instead, it was just a series of little disappointments, of not being good enough and not being able to do enough to be accepted, of no acknowledgment of fault, of no apologies. Or maybe, I am just too sensitive about it all. Maybe I expected my mother to be more as much as she expected me to be more. Maybe we just disappointed each other over and over.

I am trying to heal, to walk in persistent forgiveness, to hold relentless compassion. I am trying to see the good that for what ever reason, I was unable to see while she was alive.

Today I looked around at shelves full of knick knacks and trinkets. Stuff that just seems to overflow and collect dust. I gathered things together so that the grandchildren and great-grandchildren can come in and choose which of her treasures they would like to keep. I opened one little jar and saw that it contained three fake flower blossoms.

little beauties 1

In her way, she was filling her life with beauty. She had so little in her life. There is surprising little to mark eight-two years of life and more than fifty years in one home. She found ways of bringing beauty to little spaces. There have been times i felt embarrassed at the simplicity of what she did. It all seemed too cluttered, too kitschy, too base. But she cared so much. She filled a bookcase with angel figurines because they represented her prayers for those she loved. She made memorials. She sorted photos and things into boxes for each person she loved. I wish I knew what more of it meant. I wish she were here so I could ask her.

I am reminded of little ways she acknowledged the baby I lost to miscarriage in 1988. She never forgot. She made sure to make a place for that soul in her collections. I think everything there on the shelves, in the drawers, all held a meaning for her and I want to honor it, to bless each item as it leaves her home. I am tenderly touching each thing and thanking her for holding beauty so well.

I brought that little jar home. It will go on my altar as a reminder of her life, of the lessons she still has to teach me.

I also brought home the biscuit bowl.

My mother was known for her biscuits This is the biscuit bowl that my mother used to make biscuits. For decades, she made up the biscuits in this wooden bowl almost daily. It was never washed. Just scraped out and started new from time to time. I think the sifter may even be the same sifter. No one learned how to make mama’s biscuits.while she was alive. I think I am going to take the bowl home and try to learn now.#sweetmemories #awakeningthegrief

biscuit bowl

At mother’s funeral, I spoke of the lessons she taught us. I ended my words with talking about the one lesson no one ever learned … to make the biscuits. I am going to figure this out. I truly believe the bowl itself holds the magic. I’m gonna believe her presence and essence permeated that bowl and will guide me now.

i want to believe in that magic

What’s the weather like in your little corner of the world? Here in upstate South Carolina, USA, we are having winter weather which included various forms of frozen precipitation. Outside my windows, sleet and rain are competing with no clear winner yet. A few miles north, snow is falling consistently. My grandsons are hoping to wake in the morning to a white wonderland and no school. It’s unpredictable. We live on the edge of where all storms break one way or the other. Dawn will give us our answer.

I am full of nervous energy. All my children are home safe and sound but my husband is still at work. I want to know that he will make it home for his only day off tomorrow. Two more hours to go. Until then, I will probably distract myself on Pinterest. Or drawing more eyes. Every spare moment today was spent drawing eyes today.

2015-02-25 22.15.46

I am finding the practice is almost meditative yet in a different way than my meditative doodling. This practice requires me to be constantly observing, pausing, looking, adjusting. The purpose feels good and right. This whole season feels full of that type of purpose. Expectant, I think. I am gestating, forming myself, knitting my bones into existence.

There is that word again. Existence. I used it twice in my blog post last night. The Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines existence as:

EXIST’ENCE, n. The state of being or having essence; as the existence of body and of soul in union; the separate existence of the soul; immortal existence; temporal existence.

“as in the existence of body and soul in union”

yes. yes. yes.

This soulful immersion that I am embracing this year is being confirmed by my very own words. I am not looking to exist within my soul alone. I know too well the body/mind/soul connection. I crave unity, union, embodiment. Existence. Sacred existence.

For I am on a journey to reclaim my soul. The best way I know to explain what that means to me is that I am seeking a sacred path. Too long, my soul has withered in the arid desert of deconstruction, of resisting divine things in exchange for nurturing what the mind can know, of wanting to be as far away from holy things as possible. I realize now that this is not an either or, this is not one thing to the exclusion of another. No. I can be convinced in my  mind of what is true and what is not true and I also can be sure in my heart of things that the mind cannot comprehend.

My journey is one of forging my path, my sacred way. I am listening deeply and following where my spirit leads me. I am finding sacred and holy in the ordinary of my life. On nights like tonight, when I won’t feel whole until my love is here, I am astounded at rituals I am creating for myself. Writing these words, talking honestly about my lack of faith, my faith, and how I am existing in this life with knowing and unknowing, this is a prayer of sorts. I am making quiet declarations. I am forming words that seek. Do I trust that I will find? Ah. I don’t know. I want to trust. I want to prove to myself that prayers and incantations make a difference. I want to believe in that magic.