The Great Give Away

I’ve been packing, hauling, unpacking and pricing items since 9:00 this morning. Tomorrow we are having a BIG sale at my mom’s house. Greg and I and our friend Tim spent the day working at the house in Arkansas, in preparation for tomorrow.

I knew it was going to be a loooong day. I was so grateful and amazed to draw this creative action early this morning:

Give away 10 things that I no longer enjoy. 

How perfect.

I sorted through hundreds of items, dividing them into four categories: keep, sell, give away and throw away. It was fun today to let people select items to take home.

Tim was the first one to find something that he could use! I appreciate him and all of his help today. He worked alongside Greg and I. We could not have accomplished near what we did, had it not been for Tim’s gracious assistance.

Back in Joplin, it took the combined efforts of 10 people to get ready for this massive sale tomorrow. We worked diligently in very warm temps, unpacking, pricing and arranging sale items. Eight families have come together to release items they no longer need. As is always the case with my family, we had a great deal of fun together, in spite of our weariness.

In just a few hours, the garage door will open and we will carry items out into the sunshine. We all hope to sell everything! 

This was a double target that my arrow of desire struck tonight. Clearing away items that I no longer need or enjoy allows energy to flow freely through my house. I love how uncluttered feels!

And I enjoyed gifting 10 items to others, knowing these things will have a new life elsewhere and bring fresh joy to different owners.

It’s a win-win!

Testing My Belief

Just two days ago I sorted through my underlying fear around my ability to carry out a creative idea I have for a coloring book. I stared that fear of failure down. And I came up with a working title for the coloring book, which was my action for the day, my arrow of desire. I felt good about what I learned about myself that day and about my determination to follow through on my idea. “I believe I can do this”, I said. 

Today I drew this creative activity:

Draw components for coloring book. 

“Are you kidding me?” I asked aloud.

For the first time since I began this artistic adventure, I was tempted to drop this slip of paper back into the glass pitcher and draw another one. Who would know? 

This activity seemed to arrive too soon even though I had felt ready to move forward on this project two days ago. Truthfully, when I thought about it, the timing was perfect for drawing this second action step. Here was a “strike while the iron is hot” nudge to keep my resolve firm.

Long busy day or not, sketching was what I had drawn for today’s creative activity. If I returned the action and drew another, no one would know. Except I would. The Divine would. We agreed to play with creativity this month. We agreed this was for my growth and that this month is a preview of a future possibility. I held to integrity. 

As I sketched late this evening, making quick impressions of various objects that could find their way into Beautiful Wandering: A Coloring Adventure, my mind quieted. The sketches aren’t great. I need a lot of practice. However, I know I have the ability within me, rusty with disuse, but it’s in there. I will draw every night. I will draw, and draw, and draw some more, exercising that creative muscle gently but consistently, until it is well developed again.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked this morning. 

Tonight in the stillness I heard the Divine. 

“Were YOU kidding me?” 

Ah…no. Tears filled my eyes. I wasn’t kidding. I want to open creatively in this area. I want to birth this idea, and birth it I will, with blood and sweat and tears and messy starts and stops. And I will also birth it into life, with deep love and joy. 

The labor pangs have begun. 

Time for Tea, Time for Me

This was a busy day, in a busy week that will continue at such a pace through the weekend. I do not have big blocks of time for creative projects. However, these daily actions have become quite important to me, and it is crucial to make time for what is vital to me. The universe seems to be aware of my schedule. 

Today I drew:

Have tea in the garden. 

Some of my creative activities take more time to complete than others. During this packed out week, I’m consistently selecting activities that aren’t time consuming. This ongoing conversation with the Divine…it delights and amazes me. I sighed with happiness over today’s action.

Because of the warm temperatures today, I had a late tea. And rather than sitting in the backyard garden, I chose to have tea on my covered front deck. My house is surrounded by gardens. The backyard paradise is by far the most extensive one, however, I enjoy spending time working in all of them. 

I have container gardens on the breezy front deck, a ficus tree and five hanging baskets. When I drew this slip of paper, I knew this was the perfect location for an evening cup of tea. 

I began my tea time experience by brewing a cup using fresh thyme from my garden. I snipped a couple of sprigs and steeped them in hot water for 20 minutes. Thyme has many health benefits, including warding off colds and flus. Unfortunately, this afternoon I have felt like I am catching a cold. In spite of the day’s warmth, I looked forward to sipping this hot savory brew. 

While the tea steeped in a covered cup, I set up a small wooden table on the deck and covered it with a vintage tablecloth. A small vase of daisies adorned the table. I lit 28 candles in various holders scattered around the deck. I know…who does that when it’s hot outside? The one who loves being surrounded by beauty and having her heart pierced by it. 

I settled into the porch swing as the sky darkened, flickering candlelight soothing me as much as the steaming thyme tea. Fireflies appeared around the deck, their flashing lights mimicking the twinkling flames on the deck. Peace surrounded me as well, diminishing my weariness and the throbbing in my head. 

The arrow of desire did not fly far to strike its intended target today. Quite simply, I needed this break, this time of quieting myself and slowing down and practicing loving self care. I’m tired and not feeling my best…and I drew an action that asked me to hit the pause button for a few minutes. These are all strong signals that I need to pay attention to myself and adjust what I’m doing. 

So many cultures around the world practice an afternoon tea time. The British and Scottish are well known for this daily tradition, as are the Chinese and Japanese. I love the custom. It is fairly easy for me to observe tea time in the winter months. I tend to skip it during the warmer seasons. I must remedy that. 

Henry James said, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

That hour is very agreeable indeed. And sustaining and refreshing and restorative. Perhaps I’ll attach this slip of paper to the whiteboard in my studio, as a visible daily reminder to take time for tea, take time for me. 

A Passion Inspired Idea

As I wrote out my Morning Pages, I had a “hit” concerning the arrow of desire that I would draw today. A short time later, as I stirred the slips of paper, I wondered if my hunch would prove correct. I felt a slight resistance toward carrying out that particular creative action, even though I created the activity. 

My intuition was spot on. I drew this creative action:

Name coloring book. 

On the surface, this was a great activity for today, requiring thought mostly, and a short amount of time with pen and paper. Last year I wholeheartedly embraced the adult coloring craze. Coloring has been compared to meditation because of its positive effects on the mind and body. I agree. I find coloring, using colored pencils in a variety of books, relaxing and centering.

Recently, as I was working in the garden, an idea took shape in my mind, for a new coloring book. In a short time, I had the theme worked out and a layout planned featuring whimsical pictures to color with an inspiring quote on the facing page that could also be colored. 

I’m pleased with how it all came together. The theme incorporates a life journey, with different scenes representing different stages of the journey. The style is fun and enchanting, and encouraging too. The pages tell a story without using words. 

And there are subtle teaching elements. For example, all that the traveler in my coloring book needs, is already present. A few objects on the page hint at what lies ahead, “just around the river bend”. While items no longer needed for this part of the journey are left behind, released after serving their purposes. There are clues and hidden meanings and a definite flow, just as there are in life. 

When I wrote out 30 creative actions, 30 arrows of desire, I included two that encouraged me to take action steps toward making this idea a reality. Today I had fun playing with words for a title. Thinking I had to have “Journey” as part of the title, I tried a variety of combinations, such as Life is a Journey and The Amazing Journey. 

I eliminated several titles that I jotted down because they are already in use. Ultimately, I questioned my belief that journey had to be a key word in the title. What flowed, as soon as I surrendered to other possibilities was this:

Beautiful Wandering: A Coloring Adventure

I like it. For now that’s my working title for this project. It captures what I am presenting.  

So why did I feel resistance to creating a title for a fun artistic idea? That was where today’s arrow of desire led me. I know that when I feel resistance it is a signal that I am moving out of the flow. My awareness goes inward, to see what’s going on at a deeper level. 

At the center of my unease I found fear of failure. I received this lovely idea. However, do I believe that I have the artistic ability to bring it to fruition? I truly believe that if I did not, the idea would not have been given to me. Yet deep in my heart, there is doubt. 

I realized that when I was younger, and sketched almost daily, I would have been confident in my ability to draw these coloring pages. The lack of expressing myself through drawing has eroded both my ability and my belief that I can create in this way.  
This then is the perfect opportunity to re-engage my artistic side and to see what I can create. I have been invited to share, by way of an idea that has been born out of my passion for coloring and my passion for journeying well through life. 

I am grateful that I drew this activity today. I needed to track this arrow of desire, to discover what was holding me back. Somewhere in my glass pitcher is a folded slip of paper with another creative action written on it, that will call forth my sketching abilities, challenging me to draw all of the components of Beautiful Wandering. 

Whether this project is successful, or I’m the only one who ever colors on the pages, is not the point. What is important is, will I do something with the idea that has been entrusted to me? Will I stretch and grow…and draw? I believe I can do this. I’m excited. 

Dream Destination Italy

My week began in a promising way, with another activity drawn from my glass pitcher. I felt excited as my fingers closed around a random slip of paper. Curiosity about what I would select fueled my anticipation. 

I drew this arrow of desire:

Read about Italy

“Oh, this is a good one,” I exclaimed aloud, as if someone other than me came up with these creative actions. It was a good one though, and a welcomed activity on this busy Monday. 

This afternoon, in between putting a house under contract and starting the listing process on another one, I sipped iced tea while reading in An Italian Journey by James Ernest Shaw. This is not a book containing facts about Italy, it is a memoir, detailing the seven weeks that James spent living, working, and dining with Italian families during the olive harvest. Captivated by the words of EM Forster, “Love and understand the Italians, for the people are more marvelous than the land.”, James embarked on just such a journey through Tuscany, getting to know the people of Italy. I am inspired by James’ adventure. 

I’m reminded too, of another quote:

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” 

My heart is leading me to Italy as well. Arrival time…summer of 2017. I didn’t select this country on a whim. I’m going because my grandson Dayan chose Italy as his dream destination when he was 13 years old. My dream became making this trip a reality for him. The summer after his 18th birthday, and graduation from high school, will be the perfect time to set off on a real life adventure of Dayan and Yaya. 

Four years ago we made Italy vision boards together. We’ve discussed intended destinations such as Rome, Pompeii, and Venice, and wondered what real Italian food will taste like. And what about the wine? The people? The language?  Dayan’s mom, who is my daughter Elissa, created a Pinterest Board with me, to keep track of ideas. Elissa and possibly a couple of other family members plan to travel with us. 

Today, reading about Italy in my book and in several saved pins on Pinterest put actions with the vivid travel dream that we hold. I was casting the vision ahead, so that the path unfolds to meet us as we journey toward it, guiding us, transporting us into the flow that will ultimately deposit us in that beautiful far away country. 

This was the intended target that my arrow of desire found…taking actions, as I cast visions. 

I’m excited about this trip and experiencing places such as Tuscany that I’ve only read about. But what I anticipate most is watching Dayan as he experiences Italy. My grandson thinks in big ways and posseses a world mindset. I look forward to journeying through Italy, at his side, seeing this country through his bright eyes, and being present as he takes his first steps toward a lifetime of traveling the globe. 

For when we return home next summer, this young man will turn his focus toward college and beyond. My gift to him will be more than a dream trip to the country he chose. It will be the awareness and certainty that dreams do come true. We get to create them. And live in them. And cast visions into a future that immediately begins to arrange itself to meet us. He will go far, this boy, with such gifts. 

First stop, Italy. 

A Walk in the Enchanted Forest

Today marks the end of my first week in Julia Cameron’s book Walking in this World. It has been an incredible week, during which I was inspired to launch Arrows of Desires…one creative project every day during the month of June. Sunday is also Artist’s Date day and as I had not done one yet, Weekly Walk day as well. I was full of anticipation as I selected a creative action. I drew:

Walk on a new walking trail. 

How perfect. All three of my activities for the day captured in one creative action. I love how these synchronicities happen when I let go and trust. 

Where to walk? I’ve explored most of the trails in the Joplin area. I considered driving to Arkansas or Springfield, MO. However, as I used the Google app on my phone, I came upon a blog post by a Joplin woman about the Walter Woods Conservation Area south of the city. I read about deep woods, foot bridges, and streams, and I knew I had located my walking trail for today’s activity. Although I was familiar with this wooded area, having driven by it many times, I have never walked there. Perfection, again. 

This is a public area, however Walter Woods is not well known, being in a very secluded area. Because I wasn’t sure how remote it would feel, I invited Greg to accompany me. And I carried a big walking stick! Greg is familiar with the concepts from Julia’s books. He was a quiet walking companion who allowed me to take the lead and choose paths and destinations. 

The sky reflected in a still pond. 

The trail wound through a dense, lush forest and I was immediately enchanted. The world receded. I was serenaded by the songs of birds, the gurgling creek that flowed through the woods, and the shushing sound of the wind playing in the leaves of countless trees. 

Very few things connect with my heart and soul like nature does. Walking in the woods today, pausing occasionally to sit on a bench, standing on tiny bridges watching the water tumble by, my spirit expanded, reaching out to brush against swaying trees and mossy rocks and sun dappled plants. In return I was stirred by the symphony around me. I inhaled deeply, drawing into me the scents of life and decay, growth and sunshine, and utter wildness. The word enchanted kept echoing in my mind and in this magical place, I could easily believe that the forest was. 

The word enchant comes from the Latin word incantare, in + cantare – to sing. Literally, to enchant is to captivate with song. I had found the target of my arrow of desire. I was enchanted by these woods, this stream, the riotous chorus of nature around me. I was totally captivated by the aching beauty and serenity of this place. The chanting of the woods called forth from me a resonating song of life and joy, creating a duet only the Divine could hear. The Divine, who converged three desires today into one beautiful outing, who used the writings of another blogger to give me a direction in which to fire my arrow. 

George Santayana wrote, “The earth has music for those who listen.”  

I heard that music today. 

Beauty in Imperfection

I drew a fourth creative action this morning, the equivalent of pulling back on an arrow of desire in preparation for letting it fly. I was delighted to select:

Create a new vignette. 

I enjoy this creative project and I have an assortment of vignettes throughout my house. I especially like creating vignettes in pieces such as my old suitcase or in my vintage wooden sieve, however a shelf or table top works well too. 

Vignettes are slices of life, small scenes, that follow a theme. The fun for me is in gathering items from around my house, to create a fresh grouping that expresses an idea. I could go buy items to create a new vignette, but I prefer being inspired by what I already have. An idea begins to take shape and then it becomes a scavenger hunt to find items in my house to support that idea. 

Here is how a vignette comes together for me. 

When I drew today’s activity, I opened up to creative energy. I wanted to create a vignette that used pieces I’d never used together before. This lovely shell came to mind. I found it at Greg’s parents’ house in Arkansas. When I cleaned it up I discovered it had been broken before and repaired. But it is still gorgeously iridescent. Wabi sabi…beauty in imperfection…came to mind. I knew I wanted to build a vignette around this item. 

With the shell in mind, I selected a scarf and a large crocheted vintage doily. The blue scarf topped with the delicate white doily made me think of water with foamy waves crashing into shore. I’m imaginative, I’m know! The linens belonged to my grandmother. 

The fun begins then. I played around with arranging different items together. Because the interior of the sieve I’m using is fairly small, I stayed with the rule of three. The blue vase was a gift from my grandson Dayan years ago. The sea shells mug was handed down from a friend. To vary the heights, a small glass candle holder was tucked under the doily, and the mug placed atop it. I added clear glass rocks to the large shell and tucked tea lights inside it and the mug. The shell made me think of pearls. I strung a necklace across the shell. 

I trimmed the daisies down, as they seemed too tall. Better. And tried a clear glass globe candle holder. I liked this look as well. I may go back and forth between using this globe and the sea shells mug.

It’s a fresh vignette. Simple. Beautiful. 

The accompanying thought that arose as I completed my vignette was simple too and profound to me. I use items from the past to create these vignettes, finding new uses for these old pieces. My past is not something I want to dwell in. I want to live right here, in the now. 

Bringing a past thought into this present moment, and reframing it in the light of who I am now and what I have learned, is a way to create fresh “vignettes” with my memories. Doing so allows me to see my past, and therefore myself, differently, especially pieces of my past that I’ve considered difficult, flawed, broken. 

Wabi sabi works in my life as well. I have broken pieces that have been repaired, just like my large shell. I can look at myself as unflinchingly as I look at the shell and see beyond the hurts and the fragments of who I was, to the beauty of who I am becoming. I can look at others in the same fresh, open way. 

I am whole. They are whole. We are wabi sabi. We are beautiful in our imperfections. 

Growing into Who I Am

I’m loving these daily creative activities. I’ve called them arrows of desire, and that has turned out to be more accurate than I first imagined. As I draw a slip of paper each day, with the activity written upon it, I’m launching an arrow of desire. It has been amazing to follow the arrow then, to see what target it hits. 

This morning I randomly selected:

Plant seeds. 

This is the activity I thought I was going to draw yesterday. I don’t know why. As I reached into the glass pitcher, this creative task came to mind. Today, it became reality. And happily so. 

My garden is my happy place. I love puttering in my backyard paradise, engaging in activities that range from pulling weeds to planting herbs and flowers to layering on mulch. I like getting my hands dirty as I tuck plants into the ground. And my creativity shines here as I use unusual containers for plantings and repurpose family treasures into garden beauties. 

I harvested seeds last fall for the first time. I started seedlings earlier in the spring but I still had an abundance of seeds left over. This afternoon, as grey clouds piled up overhead, I started a second batch of seeds in my rectangular metal box. 

Lavender, white and purple coneflowers, clematis, black eyed Susan and fireworks flower seeds all got scattered in rows in the rich potting mix. I thought about how the potential for a gorgeous flower already exists in each tiny seed. Given the right environment, they will flourish. Ah, I thought, this is my deeper lesson today. This is the target my arrow of desire is leading me to. 

But no. That was not the target. As I finished labeling clothes pins and attached them to the side of the metal box, a stillness came over me. It’s as if time slowed way down. That’s the equivalent of a tap on my shoulder…a signal to pay attention. 

I wrote the name of each flower on a clothes pin, and attached it to the box to identify which plant is which as they begin to push through the soil. I realized I did that for my benefit and my own purposes. The tiny seeds contain the complete, beautiful flowers within them. They don’t need the labels. They just need a supportive environment and they will do the rest. Grow. Bloom. And be, exactly what they are meant to be. Without the help of labels. 

This deeper truth, around the simple and fun act of planting seeds, made tears come to my eyes. I don’t need labels to thrive either. Realtor, writer, woman, mom, intuitive…these labels help other people to identify who I am. As I continue to grow, who I am is evident. I am me. I am Cindy. Or Mithril, with the shining silvery heart. Really, I just am. 

And so is everyone else. They don’t need me to label them, or identify who they are. Their potential is complete within the seed of who they are. They are growing. Blooming. Being exactly who they are created to be. I can help, not by labeling who they will be, but by contributing to an environment that supports their glorious and beautiful growth. 

And you know what? My seeds don’t need labels either. Off the clothes pins came. I’ll watch the plants grow and as they develop I’ll know what they are. May this creative exercise serve as a reminder to me that labels are only necessary on items I buy. I don’t need them to be who I am. And neither does anyone else. Here’s to being label free. 

Table for One

I drew my second slip of paper, my arrow of desire, early today. I wanted to enjoy the anticipation of whatever the Divine brought to me. After stirring the folded strips of paper within the glass pitcher, I closed my eyes and selected this one: 

Eat al fresco in the garden. 

I was in high anticipation after I read today’s creative action. As the day passed, my thoughts returned again and again to dining in my gorgeous garden. I wondered if 4:00 PM was too early for dinner! 

I decided to treat myself to sushi, a simple side salad and a bowl of fresh fruit. As the sun began to sink toward the horizon, I prepared the bistro table that rests on the brickio in the garden. 

This creative project quickly transitioned to lovely and deliberate self-care. I layered linens on the table. Candles were lit in holders scattered about the brickio and in a wood and metal candelabra placed on the table top. I bent my rule about not cutting flowers in my garden, placing a few sprigs of yellow coreopsis in a milky pitcher. 

My sushi and salad were arranged on a simple white plate, with colorful berries piled in a matching white bowl. I traded a foam cup for a real glass, to hold my iced tea. As I plucked a fresh sprig of mint to add to the fruit, I smiled at the inviting setting I had arranged for myself. I felt energy surge through my chest as I took my seat. It was so serene in the garden, so beautiful. 

I was reminded of a quote by Simone Weil…

“There are only two things that pierce the human heart. One is beauty. The other is affliction.”

Oh yes. I fired an arrow of desire, and it turned and pierced my own heart. The beauty that surrounded me had certainly undone me, slipping beneath so many surface thoughts to find the true target…my unguarded heart. 

As I sat in silence, enjoying the sushi and the garden, the deeper realization came. When I decided two days ago to do a creative action every day in June, I compared the tasks to firing arrows of desire. The past two days have taught me that I really am meant to follow the arrows, and discover what the intended targets are. The creative activities are leading me to deeper truths, to a greater understanding about how life works and how the Divine desires to have an ongoing conversation with me. 

What started as a fun project has become so much more. I am reminded today that beauty awakens and stirs the heart…natural beauty and the beauty found in caring for myself in meaningful ways. I am created to appreciate beauty, and honor the beauty I see in myself and others. I see myself through the eyes of Divine love. I see you. 

Ask a Question, Get an Answer

June 1st brought the opportunity to reach into my glass pitcher and draw out my first creative action. These 30 “arrows of desire” were created by me, with the intention of putting actions with my desire to live a more creative life. Thirty fun activities are written on 30 slips of paper. I’ll draw one each day during the month of June. 

After a busy morning, I drew out a folded piece of paper. I wasn’t free yet to carry out the activity, but I couldn’t wait to see what the first arrow would be. 

Go for a walk in the rain. 

I was delighted…and grateful. As I wrote out the 30 actions yesterday, two of them were rainy day activities. As I folded the papers and dropped them into the glass pitcher I was aware that I was asking the Divine a question. 

Will you play with me? 

It was an important question. And I had one for me. 

Am I in the flow such that the rainy day activities will be drawn…on a rainy day? 

Thirty minutes before I drew out that slip of paper the rain began falling. I didn’t go for a long walk. In fact, my walk in the rain involved a leisurely stroll from the house to my car, my arms outstretched, my head back, a smile on my face. 

I realized the arrow I fired on this first day of June was much more far reaching than a simple creative activity. I had asked a couple of crucial questions. The answers came immediately. 

Yes…and yes.