Entries from August 29th, 2015

Pond with Cattails

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Pond

Pond with Cattails, 48 x 48″

This painting was inspired by a pristine pond at Casa Micanopy and some ratty cattails in an overgrown ditch near First Magnitude.

Most of the time, my life feels like a combination of both landscapes.

As Adam Phillips wrote in his book, Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life (I discovered the book on www.brainpickings.org), “…so much depends on what each of us makes of the too much and the too little we get.”

This week, there’s a lot I didn’t get, but I did get this painting of a pond with cattails.

Delayed Gifts

Friday, August 21, 2015

“There is a sympathy outside ourselves that knows, carries, and protects a message sometimes long enough for it to be delivered successfully.”

Annie Rogers, from one of my favorite books, A Shining Affliction

10 years ago, my friend Christy gave me a Koi travel watercolor set. I felt intimidated by watercolors, and I didn’t consider myself an artist.

I didn’t use the gift for a long time.

9 years, actually.

But good friends have a way of knowing what we need before we do, and recently I’ve fallen in love with her gift.

The paints dry quickly in my small square sketchbook. I draw the lines with a Pilot rolling ball pen.

The three items together–paints, pens, and a sketchbook–make a great gift for a friend.

Even if that friend is as dense I am.

Even if that friend is yourself.

Thank you, Christy.

Rock Cairns 1

The Cemetery

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

20 x 30"

“As long as the sun shall rise goes the old lovers vow.

But we are children of a scientific age & have no time for poetry.

Still, I offer a quiet prayer of thanks for the sunlight each time I see your face.”

–Brian Andreas

We were returning from a light-hearted pizza lunch when my 10-year old nephew Mason asked my sister Kristen, “Mom, when I die, do you think people will burn me or put me in a box thing in the ground?” Kristen and I exchanged a look as she calmly answered him.

“Well Mason, that depends. If you make your wishes known before you die, people generally try to honor what you want.”  

“Oh, okay,” he said, apparently satisfied.

We reached our destination. Kristen headed inside, and Mason trotted around the car to hug me.

“So which do you prefer, kiddo?” I asked, wrapping him in my arms. “Burial or cremation?”

“Hmmm,” he contemplated, “probably burial. That way, if I have kids, they’ll have a place to visit me after I die.”

“Makes sense,” I said. “I’d visit you, too, you know. I’d visit all the time. Who knows, maybe we can even be buried near each other one day.”

“Okay,” he said, “but I hope you die before me.”

“Yeah,” I said, tearing up. “So do I.”

Dear One

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dear One

“Chop that wood, carry water.

What’s the sound of one hand clapping?

Enlightenment, don’t know what it is.

Every minute, every second,

things keep changing to something different.

Enlightenment, don’t know what it is.”

Van Morrison

I drove to work this morning blaring Van Morrison’s song Enlightenment on repeat in my car. My first day back to the office after a week away, and I felt expansive, ready for anything. “How to hang onto this feeling, this energy?” I wondered. “Easy,” I thought.

By 5pm, I couldn’t tell up from down. I’d lost it completely. The day was packed with emergency walk-ins and phone calls. I forgot to eat lunch or drink water. I certainly didn’t feel like an artist, or even like that smiling, open-hearted woman from the morning with her hot coffee, home-made lunch, and inspiring music. Who was this exhausted person dragging to her car? Which version was me?

I maneuvered through traffic to the wonderful new Searchlight yoga studio, owned and operated by my favorite yoga teachers in town. I rolled out my mat and started moving.

Chop wood, carry water.

An hour later, I left a different person again.

I’m scared for the fall semester. I love the bustle, the rich diversity of clients that come through the counseling center where I work, and the myriad ways I learn and grow through all that intense connection. Yet I want to hang onto what I’ve been learning this summer–that prioritizing my own well-being really does make a difference.

Dance, yoga, painting, and cooking are all ways I care for myself. They’re forms of play and nourishment and joy. This summer, I committed to these things. Imperfectly, but enough to see and feel real results. But when I get stressed out and overwhelmed, I stop doing these things.

I’d like to change this.

When I got home from yoga class tonight, I both wanted and didn’t want to paint. I was no longer a zombie, but I was hardly a spiritual Van Morrison song either.

But I’m learning that, at least when it comes to the choices that really feed me, the energy doesn’t have to be “right” to get started. The truth is, my art only ever asks me to show up as I am. Same with yoga. And my life itself. Show up. Encounter reality, my body as it is, my breath as it is, me as I am, in this moment, and never the same in the next. Things keep changing.

I thought I knew what I was going to paint tonight, but something totally different came out.

This girl, well, let’s be honest. She’s weird. Possibly a little stressed out, and maybe slightly bloated. She’s worried, and has some posture problems, and is primitively executed.

But also, as a testament to the day, she’s somehow quite dear to me, too.

All This Time

Friday, August 7, 2015

40 x 60"

All This Time (40 x 60″)

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe Me.”
Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.

A Mighty Kindness

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Place in process

Been a week of hard rain in Gainesville, FL. The sun is back today, and I’m in the process of re-purposing this painting I never loved for the sun, the hills, and the trees, which I love again after a hard week and hard rain of my own.

Last night I watched a beautiful movie about grief and love, The Song of the Sea, and later sobbed myself to sleep–waves breaking after recent experiences that touched old, deep, tender places of pain.

In the midst of the sobbing, I felt my heart grow very warm with the sensation of blood rushing back to a sleeping limb. I kept crying, but slowly the tears turned from grief to relief, release, and grace. Perhaps you’ve felt this kind of grace, too, when you were able to re-inhabit a painful place that once overwhelmed you, once left you little choice but to shut down and not feel, but also left you less alive.

This morning, I put on my typical work attire–dark pants, dark shirt, dark shoes. Then, as I headed for the door, I noticed my pink blouse on my dresser. Without a thought, I changed into the blouse, along with a pink sweater, pink earrings, a turquoise necklace, and pale green shoes.

As I pedaled into the office, the sun poured through the trees and  turned the moisture into moving strips of light. For the first time this week, I could see the trees, the sun, feel the hills under my bike. I passed walkers, joggers, folks moving into the day, and found myself smiling without effort, opening my hand in a wave, speaking a “good morning” greeting.

In this place, everyone was my friend.

Especially me.


Zero Circle

(By Rumi, 13th century Persian poet and mystic; books available here).

Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace
to gather us up.
We are too dull-eyed to see that beauty.
If we say we can, we’re lying.
If we say No, we don’t see it,
That No will behead us
And shut tight our window onto spirit.
So let us rather not be sure of anything,
Beside ourselves, and only that, so
Miraculous beings come running to help.
Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute,
We shall be saying finally,
With tremendous eloquence, Lead us.
When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,
We shall be a mighty kindness.


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