Winter

As I write today, there is a blanket of fresh snow covering the trees in New Mexico. It is soft and melting fast. January can bring many things for people, newness, slowness, sadness, and joy. Whatever it is for you, perhaps it is a time to reflect or to remember the bigger picture of your life, and life in general. I am particularly struck by noticing how life renews itself, as does the body/psyche. There is regeneration going on, even when we can't see it or can't seem to feel it. Sometimes, it is important just to take note of the simplest of things; breath moving in and out of the body, a cat's meow, the sun shining through the clouds. In this slowing down season, the creative life can be a helpful companion. Journal writing, without any particular direction, can let the heart unfold unto paper and keep us company. This practice can also help us to stay in the present. There is a lot of uncertainty both in our collective and personal lives right now. Staying with what is, today, and not predicting tomorrow, seems important for our well being.

A client that I have worked with whose relationship had just ended wrote the following one cold night:

My stomach groans while my mind is entranced by the embryonic sky, a halo around the near full moon that reminds me of both the egg and the womb and the influence that one has upon others. Tis night, and those closest to you shine the brightest, but there is also a sphere of influence illuminated upon the outskirts. They come to help in small ways, and that is love. And when the brightness of pain casts grey on the big picture, the stars most stalwart in their love for you still shine through.

There is hope. Sometimes we have to look in unexpected places for it, or perhaps in the order of the universe, always moving, always present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is hope. Sometimes, we have to look for it in the comfort of the cosmic order, or in small kindnesses.

Inside of the Studio and Out

For me, painting resembles psycho/spiritual practice in some ways. When engaged with painting, the opportunity presents itself to release what's been stored in the body as well as coming home to the present moment. Painting is acting; it does not require thinking. The senses are necessary, sight, feeling, and touch in particular. Choices are made moment by moment. If we don't like something, we paint right over it and begin again. Paint is forgiving, we can learn to be, too; with ourselves and our process. We learn to start over, again and again. Showing up and allowing the process to take you to surprising places beyond your assumptions and expectations shows us that renewal is constantly happening. We forget this, and remember again. We cannot know at the start of a painting session where a painting will be 2 or 4 hours into it. Letting oneself go into the Mystery can carry on into your life, as well. This is the promise of creative involvement. Renewing, out of time, enlivening and surprising. Who doesn't need that in their life? The predictable, familiar, well worn roads are deadening to the psyche. Re-enlivening ourselves in a variety of ways often is necessary if we are to be alive and full of curiosity. I don't know, I will open myself to the Mystery by emptying myself, coming before the canvas with only how I feel at the moment. What colors, marks, brush strokes resonate NOW? What does my intuition tell me to do next? This is how a painting can get made, from the start to the finish. Skill can be achieved by becoming familiar with what you like to make, over and over again. You can refine as you committ to your parctice. With courage, risk-taking, and a spirit of passion and adventure, we find our way, both inside of the studio and out.

Giving Voice to the Longing

Revisiting with a client her neglected artist/activist self, she describes this voice as ” the assertive, creative, expressive” voice. This one was punished as a child for her aliveness, her sense of play and mischief. Her parents, not happy and alive within their own lives, could not support nor even acknowledge their child’s aliveness. Sad story and too common. As a result, the little girl learned to protect herself, to hold back her joy and wonder and to eat for comfort. Trying to fill the emptiness is something that we do through food, drugs, alcohol, computers, sex, etc. However, the empty hole can only be filled by our love and by our presence. Acknowledging the shame, welcoming it in, and being tender towards it is the last thing that we thing of doing. However, this must be done in order to move through it and past it. When this client allowed herself this space to see and acknowledge the shame, she saw how alive she is underneath it. Over time, she can now let herself respond to the longing to be herself, to express herself, and to love life.

After Ghost Ranch Retreat

Even after two weeks of being home after the New Years retreat, I can still feel the warmth of the fire, the kindness of the people I met, and the beautiful hills and red dirt, not to mention the stillness surrounding everything. What a priviledge it is to teach on that holy ground. Holding sacred space, practicing deep listening, creating writing and art anew, and sharing with others is a marvelous delight. We shared tears and laughter, hopes and dream, and new possibilities for the future. When a circle of like minded people gather together with the intention of exploring their lives in a deep way, magic is alive and present. I thank all of the participants for your courageous hearts and loving natures. I thank the animals and the spirits of those who came before us to this land. I thank the hard working staff at Ghost Ranch. Peace to everyone this year, no exceptions.