THE PENDULUM SWING
My constitution is off; I can feel it. The pleasure of getting to know my body as a science project for the last seven or eight years, studying what makes it tick has opened my eyes when something is not quite right. And something is not quite right. I have lost my zazzle for my vigorous workouts, not keeping the morning workout routine I have loved and cherished. I have been eating carbohydrates like a bear getting ready for her winter cave of hibernation and sleep. I am constipated, literally holding on to old shit as I like to think of it as an esoteric message waiting for a literal and figurative breakthrough. All of this has led to a spending spree as these lapses in my life usually do- (thankfully, not a new car, though truth be told, I have been contemplating one) this time, an obsession with typewriters, buying them, typing on them and creating a new business with them as the centerpiece. Yin and Yang, one extreme to the other and I wish the pendulum would just park somewhere in the center of the swing to allow me the joy I felt again from routine and healthy eating that gives me a sense of inner strength and an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.
I feel like the word, grey. Not battleship grey, absent of tone and vibrancy, but the type of grey laced with blues and purples, like a fading bruise, but not yet where the yellowy brown tones have started to show. This too shall pass, it always does, but in this whirlwind of staring off into space thinking about working out and planning my next eating plan, I signed up for a painting class. Not a painting class that is filled with structure and discipline, that is surely not my style, but an expressive arts painting class. Expressive arts in general has been part of my personal fabric since one of my first life and business mentors, Judy Chaves turned me on to its power when I was a mere twenty five. It blends creation of art, all types with guided visualizations and breath work. Its premise is to allow the heart to message and guide rather than that lovely and talkative brain of ours. The theory is that the heart is as wisdom filled as our brain, but because our brain is a perpetual chatterbox, we often don’t allow the heart enough quiet to give it room to speak.
I am a believer in its transformative process and there has not been a time when I have not had a seismic shift in my life after taking a class. Yesterday’s class was no different. The challenge of expressive arts is, in fact, to get you out of your head, to not try to “make” a piece of art, to not intentionally draw what you see in your quiet moment, but to allow whatever movement happens on paper and then go beyond. Usually with the nudge of the instructor, in this case the same art therapist that taught me at my first class twenty eight years ago, another major mentor, Susan Fox.
This class yesterday was a messy one. Painting with acrylics, using our fingers, our hands, our fingernails, stepping way out of our comfort zones with humming and movement in a room filled with like minded women all going through some sort of their own shit. Likely no accident that it collided with the day before the bad ass full moon called The Harvest Moon, a moon symbolic of gathering, storing and getting ready for the upcoming winter. A moon filled with light to clean up our gardens, pull out our jackets and start picking apples for the pies yet to be made and crock pot stews yet to be eaten.
We made four pieces of art yesterday and as I put my pastel to paper and moved my hand with my eyes closed, I shed my first tear. It came quick, because I was ready. This is the beauty of grieving loss and the transformation that can occur in its midst, I am in tune with my body, my heart and my needs so tears are exactly the release that my body needs but they don’t come on demand. Art is often their prompt for me. We also had to use our non dominant hands for both the art and the words we had to write on the paper that inevitably come up in the process. It baffles me how much I got out of this simple paradigm shift and my art was all the better for it. And this is a process, there is no beginning or end, no thing to check off our lists as Done, let’s move on. Grief doesn’t allow this; perhaps it wanes like the moon, but it also comes back in full force when it is least expected like the full light of tonight’s Harvest.
My work yesterday was not something I had planned or organized into a neat to do list to accomplish. If this is what you are looking for in Expressive Arts, then you need to sign up for a class pronto because expressive arts takes you away from that incessant female need many of us over achieving super chicks struggle with, those three elusive P’s -planning, progress and perfection. Expressive arts is about giving yourself permission for presence, process, and patience. And it is life changing every time. For anyone out there reading this where the thought of humming and movement and painting makes your stomach curdle like bad milk, take it as a sign that it is more likely just what the cosmic doctor ordered.
I have been feeling dark lately, my immune system has been compromised and as a result, I came down with a whopper of a two day stomach bug, a rare occurrence for someone who doesn’t usually get sick (except for that pesky breast cancer diagnosis, but I am for some reason not counting this in the sickness category). No surprise though because my personality usually warrants an on my knees sickness to actually give myself permission to rest. I know how ridiculous this sounds, but I have come to grips with my perpetual sense of urgency that life is short and I have a lot to accomplish. On the other side though is the full awareness that without my health, life is short and there is nothing I can accomplish. Ahh the struggle, the process. Trying to understand why an old friend decided she would no longer be an old friend in almost the same twisted way my mother decided that she no longer wanted me to contact her again ever, is the grief. Time though does assist and so does the art so here I am today feeling full with light, no longer constipated and moving through, gently and kindly. It is okay to take a rest, a nap, this was what I got out of my art yesterday, to stop being such a nag to myself and just accept where I am right now is exactly where I need to be.