A joyful collapse

Yes, I know, I know, dear hearts. I’ve been away for 3 months. I never forgot you. I never intended to be away for so long. But one thing I am absolutely certain about is that I must never do anything that doesn’t feel instinctively right. And for some reason this blog just suddenly ceased whispering to me. I obeyed.

Today, however, I’m back – answering the call of this sacred space. I find it odd that the blogging went quiet like that but I certainly wasn’t going to impose on you words that weren’t coming from a place of natural outflow for me.

Something that I find fascinating is that this radio silence lasted for as long as I was running my 3 different workshops – on The Artist’s Way & my Future Self Now program. Perhaps teaching  creates a entirely different energy? Not ‘wrong’ by any stretch of the imagination, just different.

It feels delicious to be in this new place. Much as I am passionate about teaching – I truly am – I must live my own life too. I must explore my own new frontiers and break down my own walls. Nikos Kazantzakis said this:

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”

So this new energy – one totally aligned to this blog and to any fresh vistas that want to come my way now – is perhaps part-and-parcel of a state of joyful collapse. And I would only add that it’s not only about my students learning to create their own new pathways – it’s also about me being willing to become a beginner again. Before building a new bridge, I must wade out into my river and re-familiarise myself with its banks, it’s eddies and flows, it’s twists and turns.

 

 

‘Droughts are a necessity’

Dearest reader – I’m back! Thanks for waiting. It’s been nearly 3 months since my last posting (crikey!) and I’ve had to ask myself “have I simply gone off the boil – forever? Maybe the blogging mojo has just evaporated (inexplicably) and I need to move on?” But something inside of me said ‘No – this is temporary – stick with it.’ I know to listen to my instincts but I have to say it was a weird feeling, suddenly switching from weekly posting to nothing, zero, zilch. What was with that?

To be frank, I don’t have clue why I dried up. I was busy but that’s not been a problem before. All I can do is shrug my shoulders and believe that this was meant to be.

We’ve all heard of the metaphor of a field that needs to lie fallow for a growing season in order to replenish itself. Maybe that was what was going on?

My friend Nancy told me today that she saw these times as a gift – an opportunity for silence and to go deep within ourselves.

Julia Cameron (she of  The Artist’s Way) talks about it in terms of a drought. “Droughts are a necessity,” she says. “The time in the desert brings us clarity and charity.’ She adds:

… as painful as they are, they deepen us. When we feel we have “nothing to say” as artists, we are grappling with what it is we do want to say. In struggling to find our sources of inspiration, we find ourselves.

Another thing: drought doesn’t disqualify you as an artist. Rather, it is a rite of passage, an initiation period that while it pains us also makes us better…  we experience a deepened gratitude for those times when art comes to us more easily.

In other words, droughts make us appreciate times of flow. As much as anything else, droughts teach us compassion for ourselves and others. Can this be anything but a blessing?

It’s true – I do feel renewed. Renewed inside of the ‘Why?’ of this blog and what the writing of it gifts me with – conciousness, connection, curiousity and celebration.

I’ll leave you with a couple of snowy pictures from the Stroud Valleys taken today. Just because… !

Edge in the Snow 1 Randwick Woods2

The deadly compare-and-contrast bug

It’s 5 O’clock in the morning. I’ve been awake since 3am. Seems little point in going back to sleep now so here I am confessing what’s on my mind.

The deadly compare-and-contrast bug – that’s what.

The reason I woke at 3am was because my mind suddenly went into a panic about the Artist’s Way course I’m running in September. Am I charging too much? Someone yesterday hinted they thought it was expensive. Maybe I’ve got it wrong. But I think it’s worth it. But maybe I’m wrong.

You know how it goes in your mind at this time in the morning?

So then I had the bright idea of scouring the internet for other Artist Way courses. Funny – in 2005 when I last did this search there was no evidence of Artist’s Way courses that I could find – now Google tells me there are loads. And my course is definitely one of the most expensive. Hmmm.

So is it good in this case to go with the gut that says I should value this work for what I believe it’s worth or do I follow what everyone else is doing?

 

Now a ball has started rolling. A ball with a bug in it. The compare and contrast bug.

 

 

And then it happened. In my searching I came across another UK site called thehappinessexperiment.co.uk . And what’s more she talks about the Artist’s Way in there too. What?!

The lady running the site started in May this year – after me. Now, I’m sure this is just a coincidence  – a meeting of like minds – but we all like to think we’re unique don’t we? And the thing that really p’s me off? Her site is GOOD.

Oh, god, the bug has just grown to elephant proportions! I feel like I’ve become a character in a Kafka novel.

I’m not original. I’m not any fun. My blog’s not juicy enough. Everyone out there is doing it better….. blah, boo, aggh, ugh.

OK clearly I need to pull myself together here. This is my happiness experiment after all. So what do I do?

This quote I found is a good start:

“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”  ~Unknown

 

I’ve lost sight of what makes me, me. The fact that I have become the bug is really an invitation: it’s time to get re-aquainted with myself.

Hello, what’s your name?

Hi, my name is T.

Tell me about you, T.

Well – hmm, let’s see, well, I guess the best way to explain is by showing  you …

And it really helps to know that all this is just an infinitessimally small slice.

So my lesson for today?

If I get the compare and contrast bug take it as a sign that I’ve lost sight of myself. I’m not going to find myself  ‘Out There’. Even if I got all my friends now to say lovely things about me, it’s not where it’s at. The real antidote comes from me tuning again to me and all my complex, quirky, mad, sad, bad, hum-drum, curious, joyous, questing, creative, busy, apologetic, angry, blah, experimental, hopeful, grateful, (I could go on), sides of myself.

Cliche, I know, but – like a snowflake. Unique. Beautiful. One of many who are unique and beautiful. Like you.

A thing of beauty

Today is one of those days when everything went according to plan – rare but beautiful!

Tennis and then coffee with a friend first thing – blissful in the sunshine; chiropractor, (good talk about how to look after my hip during my new fitness regime); great catchup with a dear friend in Canada; two client calls; great email and to-do catch-up; ferrying kids about to activities; surpisingly good stuffed pork tenderloin – my own recipe; helping kids with homework; lunch boxes done; washing up done. Ahhh – I’m good!

I was just about to say – “I better relish this because it’ll probably all go pear-shaped tomorrow” but now I’m thinking, Why? That’s my impulse to apologise for having a good day again isn’t it? (See my previous blog: ‘The non-existent marshmallow of happiness’)

Instead I will relish this good feeling of a day well-spent. I will bask in the sunshine and soak it up – just because it feels good and feeling good is me being totally aligned with my Future Self – with who I really am. And, after all, this is what this blog is all about. The happier I am – the more my Future Self and I are bound to become as one. Nice!

The non-existent marshmallow of happiness

I find it fascinating that today I find myself wanting to apologise for having had another good day.

This is what I’m talking about!

This is another good reason why I’m doing this blog. This pathological sesnse that too much happiness is something I need to blush about. It’s a bit like I think that there’s only so much happiness available to everyone. Somewhere out there, there is a big lump of fluffy-stuff called Happiness – like an enormous marshmallow perhaps – and I’ve just been caught, with a guilty look on my face  and sticky, sugary stuff stuck to my lips.

Happiness is not a thing, it’s a possibility and therefore there is NO LIMIT to it. It’s like kindness. We don’t say: “Oh you’re being so kind, you’ve taken my kindness away!” On the contrary Kindness tends to be infectious. That’s a good thing. It’s the same with Happiness. Happiness can be infectious and that helps people.

Having said that, I know that if you’re not feeling particularly happy or kind then bloody happy-clappy people and do-gooders can get right up your nose, so I’d suggest to all those feeling happy or kind to just be careful who you talk to!

And if you’re in any doubt that Happiness isn’t infectious check out this great video – I defy you not to end up with a grin from ear to ear!

Laughing quadruplet babies video