“Ruth,” I said, “people keep telling me that ‘way will open.’ Well, I sit in the silence, I pray, I listen for my calling, but way is not opening. I’ve been trying to find my vocation for a long time, and I still don’t have the foggiest idea of what I’m meant to do. Way may open for other people, but it’s sure not opening for me.”
Ruth’s reply was a model of Quaker plain-speaking. “I’m a birthright Friend, “ she said somberly, “and in sixty-plus years of living, way has never opened in front of me.” She paused and I started sinking into despair. Was this wise woman telling me that the Quaker concept of God’s guidance was a hoax?
Then she spoke again, this time with a grin. “But a lot of way has closed behind me, and that’s had the same guiding effect.
From Let Your Life Speak by Parker J Palmer
It’s over. 10 months of immersion in IGNITE, Connie Hozvicka’s Fearless Painting Teacher Training. From the very beginning of IGNITE I knew that I wanted to excavate how to be involved in the lives of others through art/healing/teaching and still stay true to my own creative practice.
This place that I’ve landed is very different than where I thought I’d be, now that we’re at the end. When I started IGNITE, I thought I was going to define wild thyme creative in a very tangible way. I thought that I would set goals, focus on my business plan and activate those plans. Quite frankly, within a short couple of weeks, if I could have quit, I would have. I was overwhelmed with trying to orient to the class work load, plus, live my full life.
Eventually, I realized that I wasn’t going to be defining and activating a business as I was still *** “creating a clearing in the dense forest of my life.” Most of the time, the “invitations” felt like assignments – heavy with deadlines and shame for not meeting deadlines. However, the sensation of shame only lasted as long as I stayed with measures outside my knowing and my body. Such an amazing lesson. Way was closing behind me with a profound guiding effect.
“Give yourself credit for what you’re already doing.”
“You’re doing more than you realize you’re doing.”
These phrases and others like them, resonated deeply when they were spoken. They vibrated through the atmosphere and I pinned them in my journal like a butterfly in a shadowbox. Framed butterflies are beautiful and inspiring. But, also, very far from the exquisite reality of a live butterfly flitting from flower to flower in the garden. The word Doing kept clanging against my heart and soul. Doing, doing, doing. It was no secret throughout the trek through IGNITE that I am not a DO-er, my greatness is that I am a BE-er.
Our final invitation for the course was to create a body of work that reflected the lessons we learned during IGNITE. For me, this body of work was about recognizing the shift in my focus from Doing to BEING. As I moved through the course, I learned to cover the doing/lack of doing with grace and acknowledge that I BE, so very well.
The true lessons from this course had less to do with painting and teaching and more to do with Who I Am and How I BE.
[Journals Jan – June in the Scarborough Faire garden – parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme]
Throughout IGNITE, I never once stopped journaling or taking daily photos. I engaged in the spiritual disciplines of my faith, gardened and gathered people in circle. I created beautiful environments for friends and family, wrote letters, songs and poems and lived my rich, beautiful life well.
This last body of work shows the crossover between my life and camera, garden, journal and paint. It is a weaving of my self and text and paint and pages. Originally, I was envisioning a series of paintings. [Because that’s what I thought I needed to DO…] But as I stepped into execution and reflected on process, it became apparent that the juice for me, is in the integration of life, pages and final art.
When I stopped to pay attention to where my breathing was deep and settled, the truth began to emerge from the mist. My breath and body lead me to path. When I tuned in to where I was hyperventilating and fidgety, I was able to follow a bread crumb path back to exactly where I need to be. When I followed Peace and Permission, I found that Clarity was there too. In facilitating Hug Your Story workshops, I say aloud that “the pages inform my art.” But, the reality is that my art and life and pages and words and images and collections and paintings all inform each other. Despite my love for sorting and classifying, I don’t even try to sort and classify my life and art.
And so, I made a book, from a painting and I filled it with bits and pieces of my life and heart – my true body of work.
“BE in your life” is what I say to my children instead of, “Be Safe.” When my oldest son started driving I realized that the words that came out of my mouth, whenever my children left the house, were full of fear. So I made a change in the declaration I was making over their lives. Today, when someone walks out the front door of our house we say, “BE in your life.”
Oh, these 6 people have my heart. The life we live together and the spaces that I create for them has been my body of work for decades. It has been the proving ground of all that I now share. This heart is embroidered, with stitches that my grandmother taught me when I was a little girl, on a photo of my precious ones taken on Easter Sunday. It’s the way it is when you live a creative life. Past woven to the present. Art stitched to sacred practice connected to loved ones that sometimes make it to a painting or a photograph.
My children have flown from the nest are most magically in their lives; and now, I am learning to give myself all the same verbs, space and permission that I’ve given them.
Delighted to share lessons/pages/life/art with you.
Be in your life!
*** a line from the poem Clearing by Martha Postlewaite. I held the poem as my intention for the class. You can read it in its entirety HERE in this blog post from last week.