Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
In terminology I come across; the color of items I purchase; or just within my general mood and mindset.
Over half a year ago, I wrote The Persistence of Red, both a poem and a blog (http://panpanstudios.blogspot.com/2011/01/persistence-of-red.html) for this very same reason. The color seems determined to be a part of my life. And the more I resist, the more it seems to pop up.
In the title of books I read (The Red Tent), in the color of a glass ornament I find in a resale shop (pictured here) and in the color of my world and home. The sun casts a rosy red glow through my closed curtains, bathing my entire den in this warm light. My niece has colored her beautiful long hair a deep shade of red. The color explodes from the tips of my fingers, red nails symbolizing both femininity and fierceness.
I can across those terms on a friends facebook post recently. She had simply stated them, no real phrase or sentence. They were just there. Feminine. Fierce. I'm not sure what was on her mind when she posted them. But I'm glad she did.
They made me think, have I been fierce enough? Have I been feminine enough?
I was tomboy growing up. I remember one birthday, when my parents gave me a Cabbage Patch Kid, because that was the toy of choice at the time. I was hopelessly disappointed, having not played with dolls beyond the age of maybe 2. I had asked for a telescope. The Cabbage Patch Kid stayed on a shelf in my room, in it's original package, until I gave it to a younger cousin some months later. I got the telescope for Christmas. And I don't think my parents understand me anymore now than they did back then. Girls played with dolls, after all. They didn't sneak out of the house late at night to look at the moon through a telescope.
I was blessed with a male child, and I have loved every minute of being mother to a son. But I like to think I could have raised a daughter, too, and shared with her the secrets of the feminine. And maybe I will have a chance before it's all said and done. Poet Anne Soni states in Your Whole Life Till Now, "What else might God show you....actually....that you'd only heard....or read about...your whole life...till now?" In this moment, writing this, I have no idea what tomorrow may bring, much less the rest of my life.
This is part of the joy, that we do not always know what is waiting. But I claim, in this moment, the words Feminine and Fierce. At least twice, I can tell you, I have been fierce enough to face what needed facing and rebuild my life from scraps. And I know I can be feminine, even if I prefer telescopes to dolls.
And I claim the color red, which has an usual way of symbolizing both.
Your Whole Life Till Now, by Anne Soni, was featured in her 2009 collection of works titled The Body That Shadows This Space, published by The South Carolina Poetry Initiative Series. For more information on Anne Soni visit http://www.scbookfestival.org/index.php?c=authors&s=authors_single&id=302
Thursday, August 25, 2011
I want to share this poem, for so many reasons. Because it resonated with me. Because it moved me. Because it reminded me of me. Because it reminded me of time, how precious it is. Because it reminded me that my son is growing up quickly, and every day he takes a step further away from me. But I don't need to try and hold on. I am doing my job. I just need to make sure that when he takes his final steps away, there is something still here.
That I am still here.
And I thought of time. How we give so much away. I thought of the Reiki I class I just finished, of energy, of that familiar sense I've always had with other people, a curious sense of both awareness and detachment. I remembered a moment in high school when I chose to stand by a friend even though it meant watching my own repution go down in flames. And I remembered a phrase from Gone With the Wind, a sentence spoken by Rhett Butler that lodged in my head when I first read the book at 13 and has never left. "With enough courage, you can do without a reputation." I remembered what it was like to disappear that day, to spend the next few years trying simply not to be seen by a group of people who were, for the most part, so locked into a communal idea of reality that they were incapable of seeing me at all.
The Art of Disappearing by Naomi Shihab Nye
When they say don't I know you
When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
Someone telling you in a loud voice
that they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
If they say we should get together
It's not that you don't love them anymore.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastary bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.
When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven't seen in ten years
appears at the door
don't start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.
Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.
- from Shambala Sun, March 2011 edition
I have a new project. It will never be finished. It isn't art. It isn't writing. It isn't knitting. It isn't teaching. It isn't even mothering. I am, as we all are, so much more than just the things that I create.
I've long had the courage to do without a reputation. But I will never have time to sing the past any of my new songs.
It could never catch up.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I don't like dislike mountain roads, don't get me wrong. But I'm not keen to be on mountain roads and come across signs like this when there's a thundercloud overhead and my son's in the car with me.
I spent a large majority of my life in the mountains, traveling and hiking, exploring and, yes, driving. And I've never turned back from a sign warning me that the road was dangerous. I've never even thought of it. I'm not a linear person who wants a western-style road that goes on straight forever, the horizon stretching out before me. I don't tend to find a path that will work well enough, feel relieved, and simply stay on it. I can't imagine living my one and only life that way.
I love seeing a bend and wondering what's around it, especially when I'm kayaking a river or taking a leisurely walk. I don't even mind curves when I'm driving. When I've got my child with me, however, there's an entirely different feeling that presents when I see a sign warning me that the road I'm about to go down is dangerous.
But I wondered, in the moment that passed as I read the sign, what would be more dangerous: continuing along the road, as so many other people were doing without hesitation ...or turning around, making a lame excuse to my son for why we couldn't go see the dinosaurs, and settling for some other place to visit, some place with a safer, more predictable road leading to it?
What was, really, more dangerous, the curvy road...or the fear of what lie around the curves? After all, on a linear path, you can see what's coming. There are no bends, and as a result, there's no mystery. And when there's no mystery, there's no fear. You just drive along that path forever, seeing what's coming, in control of...of...what?
No mystery means no surprises. No surprises means no unexpected blessings, no random joy. Nothing but predictability...and the need for predictability is usually based on a need to control. Control and fear, those two dream crushers, always hovering around, waiting for a chance to shine thier dark light.
Seeing the dinosaurs was a long held dream. Fear and the need for control kill dreams. This was an all-or-nothing moment, because there was only one choice: to give in to fear and turn around...or not.
I didn't turn around. Not because I'm bold or brave or reckless, but because I had no real valid reason for turning around. No reason I could have given my son aside from fear of a road I'd never traveled, and that just wasn't a good enough one to me. And so I drove carefully, paying attention to the weather, the other drivers, and most of all, the posted speed limits. And yes, we saw dinosaurs. We saw the Tennessee towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, which are lovely. The views of the mountains we crossed on 441 North were outstanding. The three tunnels we passed through were unexpected surprises. The rain didn't come, save for a few splatters that I didn't even need wipers for. And on the way back down to Cherokee, we came around a bend and spotted an elk foraging on the roadside.
We've got one life to live. Many unfamiliar roads to take. Many times to be presented with the choice to turn around. Many times to give into fear...or keep going and spot an elk around the bend .
Life is already good. It's up to you to make it extraordinary.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
TT had opened this shop with her husband in October, but she'd left the Greenwood area about 3 years before. The shop was a long awaited dream. I can remember, when she was caring for children in her home, and I was picking up or dropping off my son, we'd talk about coffee (as it seemed to always be brewing at her home like it is at mine,) and how nice it would be to have a coffee shop.
It did my heart good to stand in her shop, and see this dream realized, for it was a greater dream to her than it was to me. And because we are friends, we know something of one another's history. I know what this shop means to her, because I knew her during the time it seemed, as many dreams do, completely unfathomable that this could ever come to be. Yet here it was.
Because the truth is nothing, really, is unfathomable. Another dear friend of mine is off in Asheville taking a 3 week intensive training to become a yoga instructor. She's 59 and only within the last few years has been practicing the art (for true yoga is more of a spiritual art than a sport), and she was very nervous about taking the training because of...drum roll...her age. I'm glad I was able to help her shrug that misconception off. Age is merely a number, meaningless for the most part, and something I never consider in any way when contemplating a new venture. So what if a person is 25, 59, or 110? It's life. I've regaled my readers before with the story of Paul, one of my favorite people of all time, (and someone who I unfortunately lost touch with during many moves), but who decided in his mid-fifties to chuck a double-decades long career as an attorney and go back to college to become a high school art teacher, a job which made him deliriously happy in a way that practicing law never could.
I've written many times in this column about fear, one of those twin demons that keep us from fully living life or accomplishing our dreams. Here are a few fear-driven questions and their appropriate answers:
What will others think?
Usually nil, and it's devestatingly narcissistic to operate from the perspective that others are even thinking of you and what you're doing at all.
What if I fail? What's the worst that will happen in that scenario? Chances are, you'll survive it.
What if I'm told no? You'll say okay, and move on. But at least you would have asked.
I'm sitting here writing this today with the startling realization that, after seeing what my friends are up to, I've been idle long enough. It's time to make some changes. For most of 2010, I was pretty sure I'd be living and working abroad by 2012. A pretty fantastic dream, yes. I'd love to live a while with my son in another culture. But now that plan has effectively been scrapped and it's time for some new ones.
A couple of weeks ago I came across an old life list I'd written in my 20s, things I wanted to do and accomplish. And I was pleased to see that, for the most part, I'd done most of the things that were on the list, even though the list itself had been shoved into the abyss of my filing cabinets for a decade. I'll share a few items:
1. Visit Finland and stand on the shore of the Baltic Sea (done)
6. Make a large outdoor sculpture in an area where I can't control it's permanence (done)
12. Learn to spin yarn (done, and not something I'll likely ever do again!)
23. Write a book (done)
32. Write for a magazine (done)
38. Paint a portrait of a Great Blue Heron (very recently done)
There is still much on the list to accomplish:
2. Learn to dye yarn
8. Have my art exhibited on another continent
15. Visit Australia and learn to paint Dreamtime Paintings with the Aborigines
24. Be fluent in another language
28. Sell art at a street fair
46. Be able to do freelance work from home and not be tied to any certain 'job'
I look at the list. There are a few things on there I no longer want to do, like 'get a tattoo', and of course, many new things to add, like 'own a cottage at a beach'. But I feel blessed to know bold people like TT; my future yoga-instructor friend; and of course, Paul, and to have been touched and inspired by their boldness as they pursue thier dreams. I celebrate what they are accomplishing in thier lives, and it has inspired me to get off my duff and start figuring out what I really want to do with mine. Because no matter what, in the end, there is only one thing in this world truly capable of holding us back.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
"It still hurts," I say to a friend. "I pretend it doesn't, because I don't want it to. But it does."
"What you need right now is a good ceremony," she replies.
Here's the thing about ceremonies: there are no rules.
I wanted to let go. I thought I already had. But there were still some things that I was holding onto. They were tangible things. Material things. Visible tokens of something that ultimately was false.
I thought I had let go. But I still had the things.
I'm blessed to live by a beautiful creek along a wooded path. I'm blessed that I know a thing or two about alchemy, how to transform the shape or form of a thing, how to reduce it to mere shreds or shards or pieces. I'm blessed that I am bold enough to do this, to give to the water what is burdening me.
I go to the place where the owl sits and hunts, but today, I find crows there instead. They are quiet sentinels, thier black eyes observing solemnly as I toss fragments of things I once held dear into the creek. I watch the rush of water consume all that I offer it, and I think of the Oconaluftee River on the Cherokee Reservation, how it flows and winds, how I love to stay in The Drama Motel that overlooks it. How long it has been since I've swam in that river! How much I'd love to swim in it now. I remember how water is cleansing, how it's always part of any good ceremony.
It is in ceremony that I feel closest to my native heritage. I lift up my silent prayer as the crows rise, crying out, carrying away on thier wings what I don't wish to carry anymore. The crow is a sacred bird to the Cherokee for many reasons, but a favorite old adage lends that crows near a river means a storm is brewing. And a storm brewing means rain will come. Rain means the river will rise, taking in its flowing waves all that I have given.
Nothing could be more fitting.
On the path home, my son and I (because he has been taught the way of ceremony) pass a pair of pileated woodpeckers teaching thier offspring to hunt. Another sacred bird to the Cherokee, I know this rare sighting of such normally reclusive creatures is a very good thing, just as I know the thunderclouds that move in within an hour are going to bring heavy rains, rains that will wash away completely all that I've released.
It's evening now, and the storm, which was powerful, has passed. I am on the trail. Lightening bugs surround me. An owl calls. Another responds. The creek swells. There is no trace within it of fragments from things I once held dear. They are gone. But I am smiling, because I know that it is finished. The water rushes past.
I am free.
The ceremony is complete.
What she said:
The only cure
is a good ceremony.
That's what she said.
Silko was right. Sometimes the only cure is a good ceremony.
Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko is available at http://www.amazon.com/Ceremony-Classics-Leslie-Marmon-Silko
Art: Selu's Gift, mixed media, Amy L. Alley
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
What do I want the most out of life? I take a deep breath, and I turn to my friend.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Surprises throw me off center. Even good ones can leave me speechless. I never know quite what to do when faced with something I am not expecting.
I used the money to buy a bouquet of flowers. Bright pink ones.
Tomorrow I'm going shopping for a bright pink dress to replace the gold one I returned in February. (February blog http://panpanstudios.blogspot.com/2011/02/spring-cleaning-golden-threads-and.html) I saw the dress I want in a Greenville store back in March, but I wasn't feeling bold enough then to wear pink at that time.
Then, I had swimming lessons.
Take a deep breath. Hold it. Now exhale. Do it again.
Are you ready? Yes, the water's cold. It always feels that way at first.
Wade in slowly. When the water is up to your thighs, remember that swimming is a natural instinct, like walking.
We begin in water. Lean forward...reach your arms in front of you. Your soul will remember this feeling.
Play for a minute. Enjoy the feel of the water. Lean forward. Lean back. Have fun. This you feel okay doing, because the water is shallow. You feel safe. You've been doing this your whole life, really.
But it's not what you came here for.
Exit the pool. Walk around to the far edge...the deep end.
Breath in deeply. Hold it. Exhale. Do it again.
The butterflies in your stomach are natural. Make friends with them. They remind you that you're about to do something bold.
Don't like being in over your head? That's okay. It's frightening to most people. But fears can be conquered. That's thier one beauty.
Remember you are loved. Deeply. You will not drown. Not this time.
Breath in. Hold it. Exhale. Breath in again.
Now...close your eyes...tell yourself that you are bold....and that you've played in the shallow end of the pool for far too long.
Jumping in is a leap of faith.
Loving. Trusting. Hoping. Believing. Living. Being. Take a leap of faith, and jump into these pools.
As Paulo Coehlo states in The Alchemist, "It is the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting." No matter what dreams you have, chances are they won't come true if you just play it safe in the shallow end of the pool. Chances are they might not if you jump in, either.
But when you are bold, the odds are in your favor. Fear and control are no longer your constant companions. Courage takes thier place. And the universe begins to open up.
I hope you have enjoyed the daily Boldness Initiative blogs. I've enjoyed hearing from my readers via email, comments, and on Facebook. Your stories have been very inspiring, and I appreciate those who were bold enough to share them in a post or comment! Thanks to everyone who took time to read these blogs daily! It has been a wonderful personal challenge to me to create and maintain this site and I hope what you've read has inspired and encouraged you! I will continue to maintain the blog on a weekly basis. Please continue to share your stories of living bold by commenting here, through Facebook, or by emailing me at email@example.com
"If you just look for what's right - in others, in relationships, in yourself and your journey - you'll always find it....same when looking for what's wrong."
I love this, and thought it would be a perfect jumping off point for today's post.
We do posess the power to surprise ourselves, to be bold, to take risks that change our lives and give us amazing moments.
But to everything there is a flip side...we also possess a powerful capacity to look for reasons NOT to be bold. To talk ourselves out of doing things, even when they are things we really want to do. To listen to the ones who talk us out of doing things that are too different, too far from the norm, too unlike anything THEY'VE ever done...instead of listening to the ones who tell us we are not typical, that we can do anything, that we only need to be bold enough to believe.
To be bold means to challenge yourself to live intentionally and authentically. To trust in your own wisdom and choices. To refuse to carry Fear and Control around in your psyche anymore, and to start looking for what is right in situations, instead of dwelling on what is wrong.
As the old adage goes, attitude truly is everything. Changing your thinking is a first bold step towards living a fuller, more authentic life. It can make all the difference in the world.
We are only typical if we choose to be. Be bold enough to look for more within yourself, and you'll find it.
You can do it.
You can do anything...:-)
Painting: Universe, by Amy L. Alley.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
We just may not have ever really wanted to, or had to, tap into it...until now.
Being bold can mean conquering a fear, like being afraid of water but learning to swim. Or it can be doing something dramatic, like adding a colorful streak of blue or purple to your hair. Or it can be mustering up the courage to express a feeling you've been holding back. It can be wearing a bathing suit you love even though you know your body isn't perfect (what is physical perfection, really?) Or it can be speaking a language you haven't mastered yet, knowing that you'll screw up a few words along the way. It can be planting a garden knowing your entire family will laugh about it because of your inability to keep houseplants alive. Or it can be taking a first step towards following a destiny you know is calling, with no certainty of what might happen beyond that very first step.
I'm including a link to a video at the end of this post. This popular singer/songwriter has said beautifully how we all posess the power to be bold. The characters portrayed in the video show how boldness means different things for different people, but it is always something to celebrate. This is, incidentally, the current favorite song for my son and I. When it comes on the radio, we both become happy, and even he can sing it word for word. When he's frustrated trying to learn a new skill, I'll tell him a few lines of it for encouragement.
It's a catchy tune and a powerful message that reminds us that being bold is not always huge, grand moments...bold moments are when we put fear aside and do what we know, for whatever reason, we simply must do...
It's a power you do possess...and as the song says, it's always been inside of you. Enjoy!
Painting: Horse in a Green Pasture, Amy L. Alley. This is the first painting I ever did, at the age of 13. No one had told me I could paint or encouraged me in any specific way to think I could...it was simply something I wanted to do. I saved up allowance money until I could buy canvas and paints, and then I just did it. I didn't wait for permission or to be told that I could. I followed my heart, and my life was never the same again! :-)
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Initially, of course, the turtle remained in it's shell, barely peeking out. As time passed, however, it became bolder. A head emerged. Then two legs. Then two more. Eventually, he was slowly crawling around on our patio.
However, one quick move, one fallen shadow, one loud laugh and zip! He was gone, retreating back into his shell, sealed up completely.
"Why does he do that? Doesn't he like us?" My son would ask.
"He does it to feel safe," I'd respond. "It's his protection."
"Why don't we have shells?" He asked.
"Oh, Honey," I said, "We do. People have the thickest shells of all. You just can't see them."
And this is true. As human, we have shells that are more impenetrable than the walls of armored cars. We go into them for the same reason that my turtle friend did...protection. We can hide there. We don't have to reveal ourselves when we're tucked away inside of our shells.
One of the boldest things we'll ever do is to slowly emerge from them.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
It's a bold move, because I am taking something that seems fine as it is and completely undoing it in the hope that, from what I've unraveled, I can create something better. The bold move is taking that initial step to start the unraveling process, because once that begins, it's not reversible. You can't undo the damage of unraveling...you can't leave something half together and half apart. Once you've began to unravel, you just have to keep going. You have to complete the process of letting it all fall apart until what once was a perfectly fine garment is now a pile of loose yarn at your feet.
It is bold to intentionally unravel. We often do it without even realizing it. We know that something in our lives, for whatever reason, just isn't working. And so we unwind it, step by step, until it's in a pile at our feet, and we're sitting there wondering where to go from here.
There are two choices: You can leave the unraveled yarn in a pile and forever know that you completely destroyed something that, while maybe not perfect, was still good...or you can use what you now have at your feet to create something new, something even better than you had before. It may take time. That's okay. You may not have a plan at first, and that's okay too. What you do have is the power within you to transform what was simply good into what will become amazing.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
We also have the power to choose to be bold, or live quietly.
What we choose to do becomes part of our personal legacy. If we choose to be bold, that, too, becomes part of our personal legacy.
In my first post, I mentioned the work I once did at a retirement center, which mostly consisted of sitting with elderly residents and offering companionship. And listening. I listened to many wonderful stories of lives fully lived. And I never once heard anyone say, "I wish I had been LESS bold. I wish I had not taken that chance and told that person how I felt. I wish I had not traveled to that place. I wish I had not learned that new skill or language or taken that new oppourtunity."
Instead, what I would hear was, "I wish I had been MORE bold. I wish I HAD taken a chance and told someone how I felt. I wish I HAD traveled to that place, or learned that new skill or language or taken that new opportunity." For what we don't do also becomes part of our personal legacy. And never knowing what an outcome might have been can haunt us in a far greater way than taking a risk and having events not turn out the way we'd hoped for ever would.
We create our personal legacies with each step we take, and each step we don't take. Nothing is left up to 'fate', and things don't just happen for or to us. The power of choice gives us the freedom to determine what much of our experiences will be. Just as I am the author of this post, we are all the authors of our own lives. We just have to be bold enough to pick up a pen and begin writing.
Painting: Things We Let Go, by Amy L. Alley
Saturday, April 23, 2011
If you have ever been stripped of that ability for any reason, then you know how powerful it is.
It might be a small decision, or a large one, depending on what you are choosing to do. But the ability to make a choice is still a power that you possess.
Sometimes we are presented with a situation where a bold choice needs to be made, one we know it has the potential to change our entire lives. But here is a secret: Nearly all the choices we make have the potential to change our lives.
And of course, to be - or not to be - bold is a choice. To believe in something - or not to believe in it - is a choice. To continue along a current path is a choice. To listen to our heart is a choice, and to pursue a dream is a choice.
And a risk.
Paulo Coehlo states in his internationally best-selling book, The Alchemist,"It is the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting." Whethr or not our dreams come true in the future depends heavily on the decisions that we are making in the now. Sometimes it takes years to know if a choice was the right one. But one thing will always remain true: To pursue a dream is to risk failure...but to give up on a dream is to garuantee it.
In keeping with this theme, I'm including a video interview of well-known actor Will Smith talking about not only this book, but also the power we have to be the alchemists of our own lives. It's a brief but insightful clip that I hope you'll find inspiring!
Painting: Blessings, by Amy L. Alley
Friday, April 22, 2011
Trusting your heart.
It's one of the boldest things you will ever do.
And sadly, it's something many people never learn to do, because our hearts are usually guiding us in one direction, while our heads are asking, "Are you insane?"
When this battle is raging within us, it can be brutal. We're often taught that trusting the heart is wrong, that it is more logical to just do what makes sense. But when has logic ever changed a life or brought joy to a soul? It has it's place, yes, but it's rarely to be found in matters dealing with the heart. And doing what makes sense often just means taking the easy way out, which rarely is going to result in joy.
Trusting in the heart means yeilding no power whatsoever to those twin devils, fear and control. It means releasing them completely, which can be very unsettling if you have had them as companions for so long you've grown fond of them. But fear and control keep us right where we are. The heart leads us to places we never imagined we'd go. It tells us to trust enough to take a risk and love, not just a little, but completely. It can even open up enough to forgive a deep hurt, because the heart knows not a one of us is perfect, and it takes a truly bold soul to admit they could have been wrong...just as it takes a matching bold soul to say, "Yes, you were...but I'm still here."
If your heart is guiding you somewhere today, be bold enough to trust it, even if it means taking a risk. Human beings are blessed with a tremendous capacity to love, to believe, and to forgive. Most people barely tap into this potentional during a lifetime. They wade around the edges of the shore, where it is safe.
The bold trust thier hearts, jump into the deep, and swim.
Painting: Night Lillies, by Amy L. Alley
Thursday, April 21, 2011
But like many things that seem safe and familiar, they were silently wreaking destruction. Over the years, the root system had ran deep, mangling pipes, cracking the foundations, subtly lifting the sidewalks just enough to make them dangerous. After all, you often don't see what's going to trip you up until you are flat on the ground looking at it.
Had the decision been mine alone to make, I'm not sure if I would have been bold enough to remove the trees, even though I was aware of the destruction the roots were causing. It's like that sometimes, with things that run deep, with strong walls we build around ourselves and hide behind. We live within thier confines, and we convince ourselves we are happy because we feel safe...even though we know, on some level, we are paying a price for hiding.
But the decision was not mine alone to make. And so, over the past few days, the trees have been taken down one by one, and the shadows that my home has been hiding behind have been suddenly lifted. The change was dramatic, as they sometimes are. Light now fills a space where once shade reigned supreme. This morning, for the first time since living here, I stepped out of my front door and felt sunlight on my face.
I do mourn for the trees that are gone, for the branches whose berries drew Cedar Waxwings and tree frogs to our doorstep, and whose lovely white blooms announced the coming of spring each year. But those same branches had shielded my home from light for a very long time. And I know a change that lets in light is always good.
Now my yard is bathed in sun. I plant happy yellow marigolds in a spot where, before, only shade-loving plants would bloom. A new phase is beginning.
I feel bold.
I am ready.
Painting: On the Eve of a New Way of Seeing, Amy L. Alley
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
And it's great, plain and simple. It says what some of us long to say to the people in our lives who try so hard to control us that they end up just making us angry or sapping our spirit.
They don't mean to...but the price we are often going to pay for living in a bold, intentional way is that those who aren't able to (yet) are going to want to subdue our efforts. Whether it is parents, bosses, spouses, friends, family members, or sometimes even our grown children, people can be very threatened by someone who is doing something different.
Different threatens the status quo and makes people assess thier own lives, and often, they don't like what they see. The easiest way to deal with this is to try and reel the 'different' one back in so that everyone is the same. Like the infamous Borg of Star Trek fame, they seem to be saying to us, "Resistence is futile. You will be assimilated."
But you can't be bold and be assimilated. You can't be bold and live a blue-print life. And you can't be bold and be afraid of the consequences that often come from living in a different way than those around you, even if the resistance you face comes from those closest to you, as it so often will.
But you can be bold. Enjoy this little empowering song!!!!
Painting: Summer Nights, by Amy L. Alley
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
God replies, "Why did you never buy a ticket?"
This reminds me of a rather bold friend I had in college who totally embodied the spirit of 'if you don't ask, you don't get.' This friend, whom I'll call J, would sometimes embarrass me in public, asking for things like better seats in restaurants or discounts for movie tickets. He even occasionally asked people we were visiting for things in thier homes...it embarrassed the daylights out of me at times, as well as his other friends and especially his quiet, mild-mannered girlfriend, but he would simply shrug his shoulders and say, 'Hey, all they can say is no. That's not going to kill me."
"But it's embrassing!" I'd say, and he'd laugh.
"I'd be more embarrassed if I wanted something and was afraid to ask for it," he'd reply.
I'm not sure if I'd ever take asking for what I want to the extreme that J did, but there was a method to his madness that I do now recognize...it comes back to the old adage, if you don't ask, you don't get. Whether you are asking the universe to bring into your life something you desire; your boss for that long overdue raise; a person whose smile you can't get off your mind to have dinner with you; or asking a stranger to let you have the window seat on a plane. If you don't ask, you don't get. Plain and simple.
Of course there is timing, and tact, and ways to ask without being as obvious as my friend was, but being bold enough to ask for what you want from life is a big step towards actually having it.
But the man in the fable reminds us that asking is not the only step. Sometimes we need to follow up that bold request with a little action. After all, we can't expect to win the lottery if we never buy a ticket!
Painting: Mixed Blood, by Amy L. Alley
Monday, April 18, 2011
Gosh, I hope that's true.
As I write this now, my son is awake, has adorned himself with clothing from his costume chest, and has let the dog out to play. The television is on and the laundry basket has been overturned. Easter craft project supplies are spread out on my bedroom floor, red glitter shining in the light. The phone has already started ringing, and it's not quite 7 am.
Most mornings I arise by 5 in order to have a couple of hours peace and quiet, because that's all I'm usually going to get. Today, however, I decided to sleep in a little...and I awoke to this scenario instead. But that's okay. Every happy home, every content family has thier little healthy doses of chaos. Only plastic people in magazine spreads have calm, white-on-beige lives with children who never hold up a homemade sword and shout 'For Narnia!' or run through the house with a barking puppy nipping at thier cape.
What defines chaos will differ from person to person, depending on one's comfort level with distractions and ability to multi-task. It isn't the same as unhealthy drama or univited disasters, no. Chaos is more of something that we bring into our own lives in an effort to, believe it or not, make them richer, fuller, and more extraordinary...because it can be quite difficult to live in a bold, intentional way and maintain that plastic, white-on-beige magazine-spread existence. While it may be classy and elegant to look at, here's one thing it rarely is, especially for children: FUN.
Because of the happy chaos that is enveloping around me now, I need to end this post. But just remember, to be bold might mean having a little more healthy chaos into your life than what you're used to.
It might be different...it might feel crazy at times...but it can be so much fun...
Painting: Amidst Chaos, by Amy L. Alley
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Like a stone cast into a still pool, our actions, no matter how seemingly small, can create a ripple effect with the power to reach far beyond what we might imagine ourselves capable. Only one thing lies certain: Nothing is changed if we do nothing. I applauded my son's efforts the day he saved the caterpillar, and I let him know that his actions made a big difference. Maybe not to the world at large, but definitely to that little caterpillar.
Being bold sometimes comes down to this: it's not so much what you do as it is the fact that you do something.
Painting: Refugee, by Amy L. Alley
I had no idea when I left the house that morning I'd be taking on the responsibility of a puppy within the hour. I had not even considered getting a dog, not really...but sometimes, the best decisions we make for ourselves happen in spontaneous moments like this when we act on instinct and operate from the heart, not the head.
While some choices we make do require careful thought and consideration, being spontaneous can open doors for us that we didn't even know we wanted to walk through. It requires not only being bold, but being bold enough to trust in one's instincts and not overthink the outcome of every decision. It requires complete release from any sense of those twin devils, fear and control, which hold us back from living in a bold, intentional way. And often, it's the spontaneous choices we make that bring the most happiness and positive change into our lives.
Are you bold enough to be a little spontaneous today?