29 September 2008

Thoughts On Personal Awareness

I don’t know if it’s a sign of growth or maturity, but I find myself in a most unusual place. My Featured Artist Show opens in less than a week and I still have several things to do: frames to paint, a nameplate to make, tags to fill out, an article to submit to the Redlands Daily Facts and a biography to submit to the Redlands Art Association, a cloth for a small table to buy, a guestbook to pick out. The unusual thing is that I find myself completely at peace about the things I have yet to do. I’m not putting things off until the last minute, nor am I staying up all night to get them done right away. I’m working on my tasks at a bit at a time, spacing them out. This is highly unusual for me! Usually, I’d be either avoiding all that there is to do, or I’d be a maniac about getting it done. Or both, alternately. Instead, I’m working steadily and enjoying myself.

That’s one way I think I’ve grown – I’m enjoying myself in the process of being a featured artist! There was a time when the extra work it involves would have just been an extra pressure, and the event itself would have been something to dread. I’m very process oriented in my art, and it’s been one of my goals to be more process oriented about my life. To enjoy the journey as much – if not more than – the destination. Until recently, it’s been easier said than done. I have goals and dreams and am eager to see them come to fruition. When I’m in that mindset, it’s easy to just focus on the dream and manifesting its outcome. It’s harder for me to remember to be mindful of the small steps I’m taking and to appreciate them. It easy to look ahead, to the accomplishment and fulfillment of my goals, and to forget to look at NOW – the only time there really is.

I was recently talking to a friend of mine and I mentioned that I don’t feel very involved in my own life right now; things are happening rather quickly, and they seem to be happening to me, rather than for me. I assume that this lack of involvement in my own life stems from having all but abandoned my daily practices. It’s been several weeks since I’ve done anything deliberately to participatory. It feels as though I’ve just been along for the ride, reacting to what is put before me.

Until a few days ago, that is. Last week, I started The Artist’s Way workshop at the Redlands Art Association. I’ve been doing my morning pages faithfully and contemplating what I should do for my first artist’s date. Somehow, just the simple act of writing my pages each day (three pages, longhand, first thing in the morning) is putting me back in touch with my Self. In some small way, I feel control over my life again. Not white-knuckle control, thank God, but the kind of control that comes with simply being present. The morning pages make me aware. This stream-of-consciousness writing puts me in touch with my Inner Self and helps me to be more aware of what is going on in my head and in my life. I expected it to take longer than this before I saw benefits, but I’m grateful that I’m seeing them now.

I’ve spent much of my life just reacting to what was put before me, often very dramatically! It feels so comforting and joyous to be participating again in a deliberate fashion. I know that I’m happiest when I’m actively involved in guiding my life, and when I am taking time to enjoy what I’m doing – and doing what I enjoy.

For example, Sunday night, I found myself wanting to paint. Not necessarily to create a piece of art, but to just paint. I enjoy the feeling of the brush in my hand and I enjoy watching something transform. I was able to give in to my desire without pressuring myself to turn out some kind of masterpiece. I painted one of the frames that my father-in-law and I built for my artwork. To some, this may sound like a second-place solution, but it made me happy. I got to play with color, enjoy the process and mark something off my to-do list. Because of my new-found engagement with my Self, I was able to feel what I really wanted to do. Some days, the desire to make art is strong and it cannot – will not! – be denied. But that’s not what I was feeling Sunday night; I just wanted to work with my supplies and experience something blossoming. My frame has gone from plain pine and birch to a gorgeous, translucent Yellow Ochre that compliments its intended art work beautifully. I did create, and because I’m aware of my Self right now, I was able to find fulfillment of my desires.

Being aware is such an important lesson for me – a lesson I’ve had to visit more than once. Hopefully this time, some of it will take!

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