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Painting a New Life

Musings of the Day

A Glimpse Outside My Window

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I’ve had a sense for a very long time that there is something waiting for me “out there”. I can’t say where “out there” actually is or what that something might be, but it’s been a lingering and niggling poke in my ribs. In the last week I’ve been creating images so unlike anything I’ve done before that I had to ask myself what I could possibly be responding to. Clearly something is trying to get my attention. Here are my thoughts.

I used to identify as a hippie, one of those free spirited 60’s and 70’s weirdos that parents cringed at and straight- laced conservatives thought were probably subversive. I did my best to break every rule possible and grow premature gray hair on both of my parents’s heads. I was considered a bad influence on my peers by their parents and an outcast in my family. I think way back then I had the right idea about who I was, but I wasn’t mature enough or aware enough to follow through in a constructive way. I was merely rebelling against everything that didn’t feel right to me.

Fast forward to adulthood, parenthood, and being an employer. I found myself slowly dampening my free spirit. The realities of being responsible for others’ livelihoods and raising a child, facing business issues with payroll and a mortgage, left me feeling less than free. Over the years I took on the persona of what my parents would have considered a responsible person, one who puts their own wants and desires on the shelf knowing full well that they were just the pipe dreams of a less mature version of who I should be. I became a somewhat more enlightened version of them having at least listened to some of what my soul was calling me to do. But I found myself having many of the same feelings of loss that I knew each one of them had about their lives. I became a better version of them, but not a better version of myself. I shudder at the memory of my Dad announcing to a room full of people celebrating their 50th Anniversary, that he was proud of me because I had “finally given up on my ideals.”

I have grown used to feeling encumbered by the day to day responsibilities of being an adult. Now close to 70 it has become a new identity. Along with that new identity came tremendous challenges, divorce, loss, and illness. Without realizing it was happening I developed a new identity, one that kept me in a straight jacket, only able to free my spirit in my creative work. This kept me in my head and divorced from my body and my heart, only able to access something deeper through my art or my spiritual practice. Without being fully present in my body, I believe my health took a turn for the worse in an attempt to reach me on some level, to get me to listen and wake up.

It has appeared all these years to be “reality.” I told myself that aside from the health issues I seem to constantly face, I liked the life I was living. I was happy here, loved my home and family and really didn’t dream of anything much beyond that. I really believed that for the longest time. However, persistent health challenges without relief have sent me deeper into both hopelessness and pursuit of the truth. My spiritual awareness is such that I couldn’t delude myself into thinking that my health was purely a physical issue. In all the years I was a teacher and coach I was known to say to my clients that their minds would always fool them, but their bodies never lied. My body has been my biggest teacher of all. I just haven’t been great at listening.

I see something now, a vision that is so real and inspiring to me that I know I have to allow it room to manifest. It is showing up in images I’m creating, exotic foliage of brilliant, fantastic colors. I am craving the exotic within myself. Not only are these plants showing up, but there are planets and windows and moonlight in unusual settings. They are showing me that the world I have created thus far has been the best version of a life I could create, a box to live in that is decorated with all that I dared not breathe in from outside that box. I have made my small corner of the world as resplendent with the exotic as possible given how limited my vision has been. At least I have allowed myself some version of what my free spirit craved. But, and this is a huge but, I have seen myself as sitting inside this setting looking out at a world that cannot be mine, as if there was a glass wall between me and all that my spirit yearned for.

“Out there” is not necessarily outside the walls of my home or studio, it is outside the image I have had of myself. I couldn’t see it until now, but my images are showing me and I find my heart aching to follow.

As I have shared in previous posts, my son is traveling the world right now and has been for the last 18 months. He used to aspire to corporate success and all of the trappings that go with that.

He put himself through college, moved across the country, aimed high and made a life for himself in a cut throat industry. He is a self made man. But now he has done a total 180. Sharing his travels both across the globe and within himself, he tells me that all he wants now is to live from his heart, to embrace life and all its experiences, to love and to grab every adventure he can. His values have totally changed and my straight laced son is now the embodiment of who I thought I would be when I was a young rebellious “hippie.” His short hair has grown long. Days are spent on beaches in exotic places. My son is who I aspire to be in spirit and somehow I think he got that from me way back when. I tried to instill those values when he was younger, but he had to see for himself that what he thought was so important and valuable was empty in comparison to following his heart. Now that he has, he is inspiring me to come back to myself in that way.

I see my son with his long hair and scrubby beard, his bandana and that huge smile that now always graces his handsome face. He tells me that he is at peace and his heart is full. What more could a mother want? But wait…I don’t just want that for him…I want that for myself. I am almost 70. Is it too late to re-invent myself? To become who I have always been in my heart, but was too afraid wasn’t possible to be? I inspired my son to be who he is and in turn he is inspiring me to remember who I am and grab hold of living.

He told me today from his deck overlooking an exotic beach in Brazil, “I don’t want to wake up one day at 60 and regret not living.” Well, my friends, I am well past 60 and have plenty of regrets, but this isn’t going to be one of them. I have no clue what this is going to look like, but I do know that if I am ever going to be healthy, I have to be myself. And if being myself means making some big changes, well that is exactly what “Painting a New Life” has been about.

My paintings once again are showing me who I am and what is next, what I am being called to step into and what I am afraid of. My body has been niggling at me…something isn’t right. It has been telling me that no matter how many doctors I see and tests I have and treatments I go through, the real key to my health lies somewhere else, somewhere beyond my window.

I invite you to look beyond whatever window has become your life, expand your vision of possibility and then muster all of your courage and leap into the unknown. Then let me in on your journeys! I want to hear all about them!


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