Picture taken by my friend Cyndi Leos....thank you Cyndi.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Self discipline, it appears, is where my focus needs to be...

Some times it seems like my life is one huge, whirling hurricane of energy and thought.  Spinning along, gathering momentum and speeding to generate productive creativity.  My focus is to suck up all the creative flow possible, yet still able to handle it.  Often, while in this state, everything else goes to hell in total chaos.  The dog does not get exercised, housework put on the proverbial back burner, food is not prepared, and beds are not made. I am usually in my pajamas on such days, complete with "bed head" from not even running a brush through my hair or visiting my make up bag...

It's all about me and the computer.  My fingers typing as fast as possible with my eyes dry from forgetting to blink.  Embracing the creative energy that hypnotizes me into a obsessed focus.  Giving the dog chew bones to keep her busy and leaving the door to the backyard open for her to come and go as she pleases.  Coming out of my trance only when my husband calls on his way home asking what is for dinner...

He understands me, thank God. So these irresponsible, compulsive, self indulgent episodes are tolerated as long as it does not happen several days in a row.  On such days, my daughters and friends will call and ask why they haven't heard from me.  It is isolating to write and to paint.  The realization of the importance to get myself out of doors and to stay connected to loved ones, is a never ending challenge for balance. Living 250 miles away adds to the perplexing power of a creative vacuum.

There are also those days when my attention must be dialed in to the lists of projects stacked upon my desk. The necessity for order within my chaos, has always been a Quixotic quest.  As my astrological sign projects a set of twins, it can be an easy explanation as to my, all or nothing at all, approach.

That same whirling force is present when deadlines have escaped me and have come to pass... Then, at break-neck speed, everything, all the household is put in order in one day.  Those times leave me incapacitated for several days from generally throwing out my back.  Hard headed?  Yes, in deed.  It would be so much easier to be methodical, organized, scheduled, and have my life running much more efficiently when having a job took up most of my time...

Being retired, having a husband working all day, and not too many friends to "hang with", has been the root of my disregard for daily schedules...all my former time and motion studies for a more efficient and productive life  have been hurled into the unknown somewhere....

Self discipline, it appears, is where my focus needs to be...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

For those who seek, let us form a Sacred Circle...

In reading some of the comments everyone is contributing, there seems to be several people out there who have read and like Julia Cameron.  In her book, THE ARTIST'S WAY, she talks about forming a Sacred Circle.  She believes when we are dreaming our visions, we are in the realm of the sacred. She promotes groups of artists supporting and trusting one another.

This Sacred Circle invokes creativity and a creative force.  I am sure several of us have been part of a group of women who made things happen.  Women are powerful creatures because we multi-task better.  The strength of women supporting one another can move mountains.

Julia has a great paragraph in the chapter that says, "As artists, we belong to an ancient and holy tribe.  We are the carriers of the truth that spirit moves through us all. When we deal with one another, we are dealing not merely with our human personalities but also with the unseen but ever-present throng of ideas, visions, stories, poems, songs, sculptures, art-as-facts that crowd the temple of consciousness waiting their turn to be born."

I LOVE THAT!  It is my vision that a Sacred Circle of friends, fellow artists, writers, creative types, form a bond and by their collective presence, they reflect and invoke the best from one another.  Can you just think about some of the creative women we each have met via our blogs and how powerful and magical it has been?  Who among us has not experienced more self confidence, higher creative thought, inspiration from the support and conversations with each other!

Another great paragraph, she states, "Success occurs in clusters, Drawing a Sacred Circle creates a sphere of safety and a center of attraction for our good.  By filling this form faithfully, we draw to us the best.  We draw the people we need.  We attract the gifts we could best employ."   For me, the pure
force  she speaks of, does not include jealousy, gossip, anger, attitudes and those other catty forms of lower energy.

I am in the process of re-reading a very provocative book by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. entitled POWER VS FORCE, The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior. He basically explains how all the various human emotions have energy levels.  How he has calibrated and tested people with kinesiology (study of muscles and their movements as applied to physical conditioning) and was "able to analyze the full spectrum of the levels of human consciousness from a range of 1 to 1000."   It is so powerful, for example, to realize a  low energy level of 20 is shame, and the higher level of 600 is peace. Just think how significant that knowledge could be in some one's life! Reading it, I actually had a "light bulb" moment.  I could not believe if I understood what I had just read.  How would that information change your life?

Even Hawkins says, "Art and love are man's greatest gifts to himself; and there can be no art without love. Art is always the making of the soul, the craft of a human being's touch--which can be corporeal or of the mind and spirit--so it has been since Neanderthal times, and so it will always be."  He goes on to say, "When a person looks at something that has been handcrafted, he goes strong; when eh looks at reproduction, he goes weak."  I think that is incredible!

What do you think?  Do you have a Sacred Circle in your life?  Do you know women you could join with and form a collective creative force?  Do you believe you are stronger and more productive alone or within a group?

Monday, January 25, 2010

To know my purpose is to fill my soul...

My soul and life's purpose are eternally intertwined. It is my soul that whispers to me, guides me toward what I know to be instinctively right for me...  To know my purpose is to fill my soul.

I hate it when I beat myself up for not being 100% productive or creative each day.  For allowing time to pass wastefully through my fingers. I must remember, to back up and receive it as an examination. Often, it can be an opportunity for motivation. A different perspective to find ways to be more productive. These insights  make my heart beat faster with awareness.

Spending time reading the blogs I follow, reading books, listening, often propels me and inspires me.  It is invigorating and challenging to see all the talent out there!  The support and the feedback has increased my  curiosity to investigate my need to write. Making it more of a priority.  Giving myself permission to pursue what speaks to my sense of purpose.

Self-acceptance seems a futile goal on so many of these days.  I strive to gravitate more in the direction of it than straining to find it.  Aging helps.  Menopause gives me the logic that hormones often took away. I am in the time of my life, where I sense, my time has come...

When I was younger, I would allow my lack of non-self acceptance to plunge me into distraction.  Setting me off in uncharted waters of self-discovery, only to realize I was reacting instead of taking action.  I have to accept my imperfections and get on with it.  As Julia Cameron says in THE ARTIST'S WAY..
" Perfectionism is not a quest for the best.  It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough--that we should try again."

Do you ever feel certain periods in your life where you know you are in some kind of a transition?  I cherish those moments.  When clarity of thought, connects with a collaboration of efficiency and understanding,  enabling me to move further toward my goals.  My Mother always taught me to keep my nose to the grindstone until the job was done.  That is a good plan! That's the heart of everything.  Just keep going, step by step, never give up.  Never lose sight of your purpose. Like another book's title, FACE YOUR FEARS AND DO IT ANYWAY...

Today I made an awareness circle.  Drawing a circle, with lines coming out from the of the nucleus of the center to the edges of the circle, like spokes of  a wheel. On each line, I write the priorities which make my life worthwhile. It is an exercise to stay focused so I don't stray off course in distraction...

Having a strong sense of a major transition, on its way, is both exciting and unnerving. I cannot allow myself to not pay attention. I must not be fearful. There are intermittent times, in my life, when intuition tiptoes into psychic territory. When forces beyond my control are pulling me in a particular direction.  Strong feelings need to be investigated. I have to trust my instincts...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reflections, perspectives and generally, thinking out loud...

Driving to California, gives me plenty of time to think and reflect.  Today I was contemplating the impact of moving to Nevada and being away from family and friends.  Creatively, it has been very good for me.  I was self reliant and independent before I moved there, despite being "taken care of" (which I will get to later) I have become so much more productive and explorative creatively. Personally, I am bolder and have more self awareness.

I have learned to fine tune by voice.  To speak up for what I want.  To believe in my intuition and to trust my instincts.  Having faith in myself, following the flow of creativity, listening to my gut, has helped me grow into a more confident creative place.  Personally, I now believe whatever the outcome, it will unfold as it should.  In the past, I always second-guessed myself and it wore me out.

I may find myself at a dead end, but that is OK, because whatever I was seeking, the particular question gets unequivocally answered. It feels good to trust myself.  Moving here and not working, forced me to focus on me and not on everyone else I love.  I missed them terribly, but when I did not have the familiar comfort of their company, I had to learn to redirect back to myself.

I was distracted from my own life because I was more focused on everyone else.  I worked at a job I disliked, so I craved a creative outlet to balance me. When I was home, I could not deny myself the joy of my family and friends... Yet, doing so, prevented me from creative outlets.  All I could manage then, was journaling in my notebook.

The first two years in Nevada, I was absolutely miserable and so very lonesome.  I kept myself "busy" landscaping our yard and decorating our home.  The satisfaction of my accomplishments were temporary. Fulfillment eluded me.  Nothing made sense with out the ones I love there to share it with. I refused to call Nevada, home... All my structure and familiar rituals, were gone.  I found myself with too much time on my hands...

The loneliness and sadness I felt from missing my family and friends, eventually propelled me into seeking out solutions.  The solutions were a process of endless questions.  Funny, how, Donna? What do you really want? took so dang long to answer! I think it was having the time to be forced into focusing on myself, without the preoccupation of my loved ones. I began to tap into making myself a priority and giving myself permission to seek out the answers.

Regarding my comment in the first paragraph, about being "taken care of"... By that, I mean, I do not work for a paid wage. For the first time since I was 16, someone, other than my parents, supports me financially. Being fiercely independent, this was a difficult adjustment for me not making my own money.  I know, I know, when you are married, it is joint money... but living as long as I did, making my own way, on my own, it was a definite personal challenge.  I felt I had no purpose.  He provided everything.  He paid the bills.  He did the grocery shopping.  All I had to do was keep the house clean and cook. To some, that would be an answer to a prayer.  Never having it before, I thought it sounded nice.... but in reality, it bothered me.  It still bothers me.  I want to be married, but I also want to contribute. I want to make my own way. He still does not understand that.

Before we moved to Nevada, I made an excellent salary at both of my jobs. Even when I was married before, to my daughters' father, I worked and contributed substantially to our lives.  At one point, I supported all of us, while my husband traveled far from home attempting to become a professional golfer.

When I was single, prior to meeting my husband now, having two jobs, gave me discipline and direction. It forced me to be organized. It provided the infrastructure to see myself as viable. I needed to  provide for my children, yet, it was more important to be a "good mother". My emotional relationship with my daughters were my priority. Work was just a way to earn a living and create security. At the time, it was all I knew. There was no time for me. My soul could only whisper to me then...I dreamt about what I would do creatively, "if" I had the time...

That's why I enjoy driving back and forth between Nevada and California.  It allows me substantial and  powerful time for reflective thinking...

Self discipline is a trait I am lacking now.  I get lost in the moment. I become obsessive with my creative focus. I've turned the switch too far the other direction.  All I have now is time to myself.  My husband's job is very stressful and the TV is his escape hatch.  Izzy reminds me how desperately I need balance.

One bad habit I must leave behind in 2009, is spending the day in my pajamas.  I could do it days on end.  Totally sucked into cyberspace writing blissfully away as Izzy empties the trash cans in frustration. I would get up, feed Izzy and go immediately to my computer.  Eating only when my stomach snarled at me.  I really want to walk Izzy once, preferably twice a day... I really do want to finish de-cluttering our home... I do want to corral my creative talents and decide if writing really is my favorite thing... Most of all,  I want to have more quality time with my family and friends.

I could accomplish GREAT things if I could discipline and organize my focus. If I could concentrate more strategically...  If I can do that, I can refrain from deluding myself, in thinking I have plenty of time... or, I can always do it tomorrow.  Time is no longer on my side.  I have a good twenty more years, if I exercise and take care of myself,  where I can still be active.  Twenty years snaps by in a blink of an eye.  I remember my 40's & and 50's, those years whooshed past me.  We all delude ourselves in thinking we have plenty of time.  We don't.  Time is not promised to anyone.  Carpe Diem!  Seize the day!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The stop and starts of a purposeful life...

I have always been one who takes time to contemplate my life. What direction my life is taking, where my life is and if my direction is on course...  But, some times, like now, with everything going on with my Father's Alzheimer's, and him living in a nursing home, it kind of puts most things on hold.  It's a kind of grieving process I think.  There is a definite sense of loss whirling around me.

I feel most invigorated when I have a plan and a goal. When I feel like my life's train has slowed down and is stalled in the station, I find myself feeling very disorientated.  I recognize I am in a pause.  During a pause, we generally reflect, grow or redirect.  My husband will be retiring soon and we thought we would retire here in Nevada, but now we are not as sure.  So where do we go from here?

Retrospect is a wonderful teacher, if we take the time to look back and learn from the past. I know now, my strong calling to be a Hospice volunteer, and my past experience working in dental and medical offices helped me become a better advocate for my Father.  I am grateful, I followed my instincts, as it prepared me well for my Mother-in-law's Alzheimer's and now Dad's.

Since being a child, I have always had a strong drive to seek. It is definitely what motivates me to get out of bed in the morning and begin a new day.  To seek to learn, to seek to find, to seek to answer. Since I was a teenager, I would write down my thoughts, and at 18 began putting them in notebooks. 

My Father used to tell me, "Donna always listen to the voice inside is God telling you what is right to do."  At the time, we were Catholic, and I was very disillusioned with the Catholic church, so I set out to seek more answers regarding religion.  I do have faith in God,a higher power and much of my life I have taken a more mystical approach.  I sense a force greater than myself and have always surrendered to it and in the process, felt stronger. I do listen to my inner voice.

At this particular time in my life, it is important to feel proud of my life thus far. Since the age of 18, my dream was to have children.  It is no easy task to raise children and I am most proud of my two daughters. My divorce made raising children a true challenge as I did it alone and without much money, often working two jobs.  My biggest fear was not living long enough to see them to adulthood.  Now, my daughters are both in their 30's and my eldest has given me the joy of two grandsons.  If I look back on my life's desire to have children, that is one dream that has been more than full filled.

I remember my Mother telling me one day, raising children was one of the most difficult jobs I would ever have.  I would not get much recognition, or praise or gratitude along the way, but when I had raised my children, it would be a feeling of accomplishment that no amount of money could ever compensate.  She was right.  I feel like climbing Mt. Everest or the Himalayas would not have given me more gradification.

Another milestone for me, was buying my own house, with my own money, with no help from anyone, ten years after I lost my home in the divorce. I was totally independent, providing for my children and myself.  That was glorious!

These past four years, since moving to Nevada, have been uncharted territory for me.  Having the time to do as I please, not having to work, but being 250 miles from those I love. I have always been a writer who also likes to paint, but never had the time.  Now I have the time, but am finding a huge lack of concentration, because I miss the ones I love and who have shared the majority of my life.

I told myself, this is my time, time for me to full fill my dream of making a living with my writing and painting. This is what I have always wanted...or is it? I can truthfully admit, I have written far more than I have put paint on canvas, but I have been the most consistent with my painting. This past June, I started my first blog.

Do I really want a career in painting or writing?  Or is it a hobby?  Do I want to live four hours away from my daughters, grandchildren, family and friends? Being married, I have another life to is not just all about me. I met my husband as my girls were out of school and beginning lives on their own... Did I transfer all that energy from them to him?  These past four years have been a sabbatical from responsibility in some ways...not having to work, to pay bills, even to grocery shop.  My husband does all that.  Despite my efforts to share the load, he keeps telling me, I deserve the time...I have earned it.

Is that what I really want?  I like responsibility.  It makes me feel connected and alive.  I still find it difficult to ride in the passenger seat, after living forty plus years, blazing my own trails.  Granted, this time has allowed me to be far more creative, but it is beginning to dawn on me that writing is a lonely profession...

I spend the majority of my day, including when my husband gets home, on the computer. Spending so much time on the computer keeps me from those I love, and where is the good in that?  I have that tendency to devote all my focus on whatever it is I am focused upon, and since I don't have much else to do, besides clean house and walk the dog, I have become best friends with a machine! 

It is important to stop and start again, reflecting on one's purpose in life, to make certain one is still headed in the right direction.  Everything is relative.  When I was working and raising my kids, I dreamed of having the free time to write and paint, having to put it on the proverbial back burner... Now, with all the time in the world to pursue my dreams, it only serves to remind me how much I miss being around those I love.

My advice to anyone reading this, is to listen to your heart, your soul. Know what is important to you in your life. Build on it. Follow your dreams.  Listen to your inner voice. I truely believe, if there is a dream out there, that you dream and know you really want... don't allow anyone or anything to stop you from reaching that dream.  If you never give up on yourself, you WILL achieve your dreams.

I am discovering, despite the many things I enjoy doing, nothing is more important to me than my family and friends.  Having a strong, solid family IS my dream and goal in life.  No house, amount of money, security, job, career, or hobby is worth being further away from them.