Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Opening up and Going DEEP

Some of you will remember that in Autumn I went on a painting adventure with Connie at Dirty Footprints Studio called DEEP. You may also remember that during that time, I was in one of the deepest, longest lasting boughts of apathy and depression I've had to deal with in a very long time. I wasn't alone in that cloud; other members of the group were having similar feelings and others lives were being torn asunder by health and finance issues. It was called to a halt for all of us to regroup, rest up and take the time we needed to heal up. Connie, because she is such a beautiful old soul, decided that she would host us all again in 2013 so we could take our journey together and really dig DEEP and form a long lasting, healthy and flourishing relationship with our painting practice. 

This is the first week of DEEP and it's already challenging me and forcing me to get over some things. I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that this is going to be one hell of a ride for me. One which I'm hoping will heal my heart and my mind, help me discover new things within myself and reconnect me with my spiritual path which, once again, I'm feeling a slight disconnect from. 

A lot has happened for me since we last circled up in the previous year. Finally kicked that big cloud of blah and apathy out the door after it sat on my back for months, have been painting like a mad woman, working through some lingering life-long health issues and am making a transition in my life: I turned 30 just 10 days ago.

And I would be lying if I said that this step in to a new decade was going swimmingly for me. It's my mildly embarrassing admission that despite my insistence that it's just a number and it won't change anything that it has stopped me in tracks and tossed me in to the mud a little bit as I worry for the first time in a very long time about how people perceive me. As if I have a big sign on my forehead that says 'This chick needs to GROW UP!'. It's like I'm overly concerned that the fun police are going to show up and make me hand over my crayons, my favorite t-shirts, make me turn down the music, go to bed at a reasonable time, bar me from my favorite stores at the mall, make me give up my friends int heir mid 20's and tell me it's high time I squeeze out a baby or three. Yikes!

And even as I type and realize how ridiculous that all sounds, these are all things that have caused me a fair bit of panic and distress as I've journeyed through these past few days. During this month, I've put off several things that are important to me, like working on my SouLodge work, to just sit with these feelings and try to dig myself back out of them. I've spoken with a few older women whom I love and trust deeply about this and they've all assured me it's perfectly normal and natural to have some sort of reaction to a big milestone in one's life, but not to let it destroy who or what I am. Because (their words, not mine) I'm fabulous and perfect right now and no number is going to define the things that make me so. And neither is whatever society thinks a 30 year old woman should be doing with herself, because it's none of their business anyway.

And so, when I opened up the DEEP email the other day and heard Connie's voice again for the first time in months, it was like being welcomed home with a big, huge giant hug that I desperately needed. And when she spoke about how much we all gave her last year and dedicated this to all of us beautiful, brave fearless painters it hit me right in the heart.

Then, she said... One Painting. ONE. Just one. For 6 weeks. And it won't stay the same, it will change and grow. One Painting. And I'll admit, I just cried. It terrified me to such a degree to hear that. The panic and the fear gremlin immediately descended upon me, freaking out that I was going to be changing up and painting over things for six weeks. I'm one of those people who gets very, very attached to their work - especially the intuitive work I've done since BIG. I have a 40+ hour painting on my easel that I've been working things out on this month and I'm not sure how I'd react if something happened to it. I might end up catatonic for all I know.

I very nearly closed the PDF and walked away, that's how strong the flight instinct was. Instead, I got up, grabbed a glass of water, took 3 incredibly deep breaths and sat back down to finish the video and keep reading. My word for the year, Brave, jumped up on to my shoulder and told me to do it because it scares me. And I was going to start painting that night, but I didn't. Something in my gut just told me to chill out and wait. I wasn't excited. It wasn't feeling juicy, so I wasn't going to do it.

Last night, I kept feeling this urge to slap up some new paper on the wall, which meant one of the other paintings had to come down. So I picked the dark, brooding piece I'd been working on and took her down. Poured myself a big glass of wine, turned my favorite Pandora station on, grabbed the first 5 colors that jumped out at me and just started.
I chose to just start with scribbles and shapes and focused on 'right now, just this' as I painted. One of the primary reasons that I listen to music while I paint is that it keeps me out of my own head, so I can't really over-think things or let my inner critic get too focused on what's going on with the painting. If she's busy dancing she can't tell me that she hates what I'm doing. And trust me, in this case, she would have. I mean really, look at all that pink! That's my least favorite color and this is so not my style, but I kept on. I wanted to see what else it had in store for me.

And as I painted for the two+ hours this took me, I just let whatever wanted to be on there get on there. The crow, the lamp. The red sky. A door emerged as I worked and once I put the pull on it, I felt like our session was ended. I stepped back to look at it and soak it in. That's very definitely a door. And crow is one of those animals that turns up in my life all the time - I see at least one I like to think she's one of my spirit guides and mentors. I'm trying not to think too hard on it, not to get too attached so that when it changes, I won't be too upset about it.
What I am taking away from this first session though, is that this adventure, this journey DEEP is exactly the medicine I need right now. That it mirrors my journey in to my 30's perfectly in that it is both terrifying and exciting for me. And that behind this door, with crow there to guide me, all sorts of magic awaits. Maybe it will be pretty. Maybe it will be ugly. But whatever it is, it will be what I need right here, right now.

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