Friday, October 19, 2012

Breaking Through

This is a sharing that has been a year, maybe a lifetime, in the making. Feeling a bit fragile. But putting it out into the world anyway, because it's time. 

Be gentle please.


Something, somewhere went wrong. I have no actual memory. But my history has revealed the pieces necessary to understand this. Pieces that, when seen separate, are perhaps not so clear. Yet over time, and with the right amount of reflection and courage? Quite telling. And unsettling.

This past year has been a year of healing. It began here. Dipping my brush into paint. Surrounded by red rocks, the magic of Sedona, and a tribe of sisters. I had no idea. Well. Some idea. But not tangible. Images revealed more than words ever could. A conversation that I was part of that, when sitting down, I knew I didn't want to hear. But there it was. I could ignore it no longer.

I started feeling like a yo yo. Up and down. Pushing away. Examining too close. It all becomes a blurry mess of nothingness. Brief glimpses of clarity. Then pain and disbelief surfacing again. What do I do with this? Where do I go from here? I have no "thing" to hold up to others to say, "See, here, THIS was done." Only a feeling... and a knowing. I put it on a shelf more often than not. Hoping all would be okay. Not needing to actually examine it now that I knew that it was there. Just admitting it existed was enough, right? It seems that it doesn't work that way.

My vagueness here is of course intentional. Out of fear. Layers of shame that I have had to wade through. Glimpsing my younger self. How fragile she was. How misunderstood. Her bravada? A mask of course. So much anger. And hurt.

What was done to me? I don't remember. But I know. I know that it robbed me, at a very young age, of my self-worth. My trust. A healthy sense of who I can be. Of the ability to connect. To relate. To feel. 

Balance was lost. And perspective. For a decade I consumed vast amounts of alcohol, drowning something I had no idea even existed. Boundaries were non-existent. My body was not my own. Pretending to be free and independent. But having no idea how to relate. To feel safe. To share. To feel pleasure. To love.

When I got married, I had such hope that all would be well. That I would have found a safe harbor at last. A place to trust. But even there, still. This unknown thing haunted me. In ways that only now are beginning to be revealed. I had no idea. How powerful. How destructive.

And all the while I presented to my friends, my family, the world, that all was well. How could I not? Yet I know there were signs. My friends and family did see, not knowing either, but knowing that all was not right. But how could I begin to share with others something I didn't understand myself. Something that has no tangible form.

Recently, there's been this low level of chaos in my daily life that has been exhausting me. Nothing dramatic. Small little things. And yet I knew it was trying to tell me something. I had no idea what. If only I could figure it out. If I could crack the code. I could resolve this craziness. It was driving me mad.

Finally, something shifted last week. An insight from my soul sister. A piece of the puzzle clicked into place. That I was still pretending that all was well.

Why is so hard to see, what is trying so hard to be seen?

So I sat down to paint it out. Determined, to give this my full attention. It was time. 

My intention for a painting that had started differently, one with the intention of abundance, transformed itself into one of healing. It was one of the hardest paintings to stay with. To let go. To trust. To not worry about the outcome. To just feel the paint. To caress the canvas in colors and light. To listen to my heart and let it lead me where I needed to finally go.

The process was euphoric. That's the only word that comes to mind. It was that transformative. Love filled me up in the space I created, and held me, even when I walked away in fear, not knowing what to do next. I kept coming back. Just feel the paint on the canvas. Just dive into the mixing of colors. The joy of creating. I walked away many times. But I came back. Again and again.

There is also now, the result of that work. Pure joy to my eyes. This painting? It is by far my most favorite  ever. I have never loved a painting as much as this one. The image itself. An image that did not come from my brain. One that revealed itself slowly, little by little, layer by layer. I adore the colors. The shades of blue. And most of all, I love knowing all that it represents. Healing. Forgiveness. Reclaiming myself, my sexuality. And most of all, Love.

It is a breakthrough painting. A breakthrough moment in my life.

A healing journey that has finally begun.

I am full of gratitude.

For this. For all of you.

Ensemble, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 48"

This post is dedicated to Shauna, Christine, Lauren, and Betsy. You have no idea how much love I have for you, for that conversation, where all I could do was listen, with all my heart. Thank you.

And to Connie. For creating the container. The safest most beautiful container ever. Thank you.

Friday, October 5, 2012

What's On My Easel Today

Today I'm slowing down. Taking a deep breath. Catching up and sorting.

Not easy. Because actually all I really want to do is forge ahead, start new things, shake it up, kick start some change.

Ah. No. Bad idea. At least this much I know.


So first off. I finally got around to updating my 43 Paintings page! Yes. Three months later. Did you know I finished this personal challenge of mine over the summer? I DID! Wahoo!! You can check out the final 43 paintings HERE. I'm very proud. Grin. There have been some technical difficulties, but I think they are all sorted out now and the page is all updated and ready to go!

I've also been getting lots of owl "sitings." Three actual ones on a drive home one night. THREE! Very symbolic number. When you see something that third time, it's trying to get your attention. There is a message there. Pay attention!

Did I? Ha. Nope.

But, luckily for me Owl persisted. In pictures. Jewelry. Cards. Yep. Everywhere I "looked" (or was not noticing despite Owl's best efforts).

Last year I had the great fortune to do a Soul Retrieval. (You can learn more about that here.) During the journey, at one point, I experienced the feeling of owl feathers puncturing a drum-like skin that had been stretched tight over my larynx. It was a sensation of piercing through a skin that has been keeping my voice silent and suppressed. Breaking through a barrier. I can't begin to tell you the ways I've kept silent in my life. Afraid to speak up. To be seen. To be heard.

It seems Owl was here to help me find my voice.

A card that has appeared again and again for me this past year has been this one, Deception:

Owl. Right there at the throat. The message of this card is this:

"The great horned owl emerges out from his sacred heart articulating through his voice. The medicine of owl helps ... with clear vision in the darkness as as a guide through to the other side into the light... The idea of deception often elicits deep emotion within, whether another is deceiving you, whether you are deceiving another, or whether you are deceiving yourself. The ... card is here to bring you deeper insight for discovering an issue that has been in hiding."

Each time I keep silent, I deny my true self. I hide, afraid of judgment perhaps. Afraid of what changes might be kicked in gear that I'm not ready for.

The past few weeks, along side all the owl sitings, I've been whirling around in chaos. SO many things and details exhausting me to no end. Self-doubt floods in. Questioning, everything. I've been quite angry at the Universe. So tired. Yet knowing that something was begging for my attention. Something needed shifting. But I didn't know what. And I knew it wasn't a matter of "figuring it out" with my brain. I needed to go within. To quiet the chatter. And listen deeply, to my heart.

Again and again I seem to forget that painting does this for me. It quiets the noise and distractions of the world, of my own scattered mind and helps me to get centered. And so I forget to make time for it. Fortunately, with enough reminders from friends and this time, Owl, I sat myself down in front of the canvas and listened.

I knew I wanted to honor Owl. And this is what appeared.

It's the largest painting I've done on canvas. 3 feet by 4 feet. I thought it would be challenging, going that big. Turns out it wasn't difficult at all. I love painting big!

And as grateful as I am for what came out on canvas, as I took the time to really listen, I am more grateful for the insight I received as a result of going within. And, of course, it wasn't what I expected.

I have never felt, in the past 8 years, that I have been suited for motherhood. I often feel like a deer in the headlights. Wondering what the heck I got myself into. It's hard to admit that out loud. Our culture, I feel, has motherhood up on pedestal. We are responsible for so much. And yet blamed in equal amounts when things go wrong. So to speak up and say, that no, actually, motherhood and I are not always a good fit, is extremely difficult for me.

I know I offer great gifts to my son. He and I have a wonderful relationship. I am so blessed. Yet the profound realization I had is that I have spent much of his life waiting for time to myself - for when he is asleep, or at school, or now, when he is at his dad's. Time to tend to my soul. To my path. My purpose. And I find this shocking. Like I have been doing him this great disservice. That I have not been present as a mother for him. It makes me sad. But I am also honest enough with myself that this has happened because I don't feel like the role of mother has fit me well. That I have been uncomfortable in my own skin. And so it's been easier to focus my gaze elsewhere. I need to honor how I have been feeling, rather than beat myself up for not being "perfect."

When I had this deep insight appear before me, through that painting, I knew, at that moment, that I wanted it to change. I want to be present for my son. I want to really know him. To see him. To be his mom each and every moment I am with him. And so I did. I started immediately. The results were both huge and subtle. I am trying out new ways of being. Of interacting. Of being present. And it has shifted something deep, deep within.

And I am speaking up. Owl has guided me. To say out loud, that motherhood has been a struggle all these years. That I have not been sure it was a good choice for me. But that in doing so, in honoring this very struggle, giving it voice, deceiving myself no longer, I am transforming it. I am opening the way for something to be healed. At last.