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Before I pick up my pen- writing routine

image I was once told that Jamie Kirkland (one of my favorite painters), does not pick up her brush until she has reached a meditative state.  Given that my attraction to her paintings is for their serene quality, I believe this statement, whether true or not.

I have since employed the same technique before picking up my pen to write (or my camera to shoot).  I feel a heightened mental and sensory state occurs after a bit of meditation.  My words and purpose seem to vibrate at the surface of my awareness.  My work has greater clarity and concludes with greater satisfaction.

I’ve written before about writing and Morning Pages (see Julia Cameron).  I still employ the technique of daily, 15 minute, uninterrupted, stream-of-conscience writing.  However, as the mother of toddlers, I have had to modify the practice.

The idea of setting an alarm for before they awake, to write for 15 minutes in bed before anything else, is great.  The reality with toddlers is they wake up on their own schedule.  I recognize that this season of my life is dedicated to needs.   The needs of the boys, work, hubby, and my own needs.  I often need to sleep until they awake, to catch up on the missed sleep of previous days, weeks, years.  Yet the creative side of myself cannot be put on the shelf,  so I modify and find a space for creation in my life.

Writing Routine

My routine begins when I step into my studio for the day. First, I space clear (put away anything out of place).  Since I usually do this before leaving in the evening, this doesn’t take long.  I am one who has difficulty ignoring a mess.  I find the mind keeps returning to things left undone.

Second, I do a few yoga postures to release any tension and quiet my mind (reach my meditative state). Third, I set my intention for the day.  Typical intentions are: health, strength, listen, love, respect, calm, centered, open.

Next, I light a few candles (repeating my intention each time), turn on some centering music (Deuter and Takenobu are regulars), and set my phone timer for at least 15 minutes.

It is then that I pick up my pen and write uninterrupted until the timer goes off.  I write continuously, stream of conscious.  It is important to not self-edit, to not worry about a reader.  This way one can really see where they are and what is needed in ones life that day.

This morning, my entire focus was on sharing my routine with others.  It has helped me greatly in my life.  I share in case it helps someone else.  So here it is, Namaste.

Mountaintop Retreat Part III- what didn’t work?

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Maybe some of you have perfect days and vacations where everything goes smoothly, all of the time.  I don’t.  Actually, I am thankful for the hiccups, but more on that later.

I am finally getting back to the outcome of our couples retreat. Remember the one from two months ago, high on Telluride mountain (Mountain Village, that is)?

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With a gorgeous suite upgrade, fantastic dining, kids happy at home with Nana, and my beloved hubby at my side;  how could it not be perfect?

One word.

Expectations

always my Achilles (coincidentally, that is also my physical ailment).

I thought I had mastered the art of no expectations.  I finally learned how to enjoy a date night, hotel, restaurant, trip; by have zero expectations on how things will go.  Unfortunately, I forgot to do the same with regard to the outcome of our couples retreat.

I had expectations that I didn’t recognize beforehand.  Such as, no work,no tv, and (a bit outside my comfort zone to mention) praying together.  Of course I was disappointed when my unspoken expectations were not met.  That disappointment was a buzz kill and wasted precious time that we had together.

So, whether you are doing a date night to discuss your direction or a full on retreat like we did, I highly suggest setting ground rules well in advance of heading out together.

Thankfully, we worked through them and (silver lining) found out new things about one another. Refreshing that can still happen after fifteen years.

Now, let’s get back to the topic that makes me uncomfortable.

Prayer.

I have been a Christian for as long as I have memory of and for the first time enjoy going to church. We happen to have found a wonderful one in our new hometown. I also have been raised with prayer, as a family, in church, and internally all my life.  While my husband is also a Christian, he has not been raised with the same use of prayer.  Our comfort levels regarding praying together were very different.

This was new territory for us.  While I consider myself Christian, I believe that we, as humans, have very imperfect knowledge.  I do not claim to know that my version of Christianity and spirituality are the one way to God.  He gave us different languages and cultures, why would he not give us different ways (prayer styles, beliefs, even religions) to reach him?

So this hiccup, resulted in my opening my mind to my husbands way of communing with God and opened him towards my way.  It turned into a critical moment of practicing non-judgement.  Once we each saw past the words we were using to describe connecting with God, we saw how similar our ways really were. It was yet another moment in my life where I learned to listen.  What I heard was not only my partner but also, my own core beliefs. I do not know everything.

What I do know, is what works for me.

And that is, Prayer.

It has always been the one thing that works for me when nothing else does.  Whenever life feels like too much,  pray these words:

“Lord, forgive me.  I accept your love, I accept your forgiveness.”

 I repeat them until I have the strength to start again.  It has never failed me.

Please share, what works for you?

The conclusion of our retreat and the big life changes resulting from our soul-searching will be posted in the next week.  Stay tuned!

“Be true to yourself.”

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A wise woman, who knows me well, told me, “Be true to yourself, share what you have learned”.

These words stopped my thought patterns and focused me on the big picture.  When am I true to myself?

When I am helping others, sharing what I have learned from great books and wise people.  

Given that a new season is upon us, the time of rebirth and change- this is my focus.  Be true to myself.  In all ways, at all times, in all things.

This woman lived life according to her own terms.  Abandoned by her husband at the start of the Great Depression, she was left to raise her daughter and  niece, alone.  She was strong, I don’t know if she began life that way or if she became that way through life’s lessons.

What I do know is she found solid work, supported her family, raised those girls and lived an elegant life centered around her loves.  Namely, the piano, family, an orderly self and home, red lipstick and beautiful hair (perfectly coiffed until the very end of her 90 years). She taught me discipline, appreciation for the arts, and how to play the piano.

She taught me another thing that stands out now, no excuses.  Life will throw at you what it will. All you control is your reaction to life.

I wish she had written, so I could learn from her thoughts on life instead of relying on the memories of how she conducted herself.  That is why today, I am writing.  There is no need for each of us to go through all of the lessons in life.  We can share what we have gathered and learn from one another.

What do you feel called to share today?

Link up & New page

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Additionally, please check out my new page, the deeper side, this week exploring loss.

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