Reminding myself of the light within.

The traveler driving down a lonely country road at night, is encouraged by the distant twinkling lights of her destination.

But it’s the headlights of her car that keep her from driving off the road.

In life we are drawn toward the bright light of desire and distant dreams.

But only the light we carry with us, will keep our wheels on the road and our footsteps on the path.

We have to keep that light burning.

Mountain-road

This is a re-post from last year but I needed to remind myself of this today.

ART AND COURAGE

If we had to say what writing is, we would have to define it essentially as an act of courage. —Cynthia Ozick

Fear and Courage
Fear and Courage

I do believe that writing is an act of courage.

Courage to keep going when life is in chaos–

courage to keep going when your are tired and drained and empty,

when you think you have been left behind,

when you think someone else is better than you.

when you think you have nothing to say.

when no one pays any attention

to what you have written.

It takes courage to write.

I believe this.

Over and over and over in my life,

my fear has stopped  me dead in my tracks.

And courage was nowhere to be found.

I didn’t understand that fear was necessary for courage to exist.

I didn’t realize courage and fear were inseparable companions.

So now I live my life,

knowing fear is always present

and always talking to me–

And somehow I have to keep going anyway and trust that I can.

Because courage is standing right there with fear-

waiting to be called on–waiting to  take the lead-

waiting to carry me across whatever dangerous territory–

whatever hidden enemies–

I think I am facing.

I need to remember this.

Now especially.

I have an opportunity to include an excerpt of my new play

in a festival of new work but fear is plaguing me.

It’s screaming at me.

It’s sneaking up on me.

Covert attacks.

Constantly.

Every little obstacle that I have to face or every tiny suggestion

that something needs work or should be cut–

is scaring me to the point that I am angry.

I wake up in the morning

with dread that I am not good enough–

That the play is not ready.

I find myself reacting angrily to things.

Or I am annoyed at the person who offered me

the opportunity at the wrong time.

I have to constantly remind myself,

That I am not actually in danger.

It’s just my fear  trying to protect me.

It’s just my fear,  wanting me to quit —

so that I don’t have to take a risk–

or feel the pain of possible failure.

And every demand of my life–

and there are many these days-

seems to suggest I don’t have  the time

or the stamina or the ability.

But  it is just my fear trying to stop me

from failing.

But I am not going to fail.

I can do this.

I can do it.

There is no conquering fear.

There is no need to conquer it.

Courage needs me to know this.

Ready or not here I come.Ready or Not

Poem from a recurring dream.

I have built a little cage

on the edge of a cliff,

where I pretend–

to live contentedly,

rather than learn to swim across

the turbulent waters below.

Cushioned by the delusion of safety,

I hang there trapped–

above murky waters-

as if sitting alone in a cage–

is  preferable to the risk of drowning.

I watch with envy, all the

happy swimmers passing by.

They seem to calm the water

with their powerful strokes.

But the thought of being

swallowed by the current,

keeps me here,

behind the iron bars of

disappointment.

I  have dreamed this flooded landscape.

I have dreamed this turbulent water.

I have dreamed the murky depths.

And I have dreamed this cage.

Now  wide awake–

I am dreaming of a little red boat.

Red boat JPG

Days in the haunted room a poem

red fire

I find myself at times

living my life

as if I was trapped

in a haunted room–

spending all  my days and nights

all alone with

my hopeless longings

hanging like torn and tattered

curtains,

heavy with years.

Ghostly companions

whispering in the darkIMG_0196

And even when I

try to escape

I can’t get far–

without tripping on

all my unanswered questions

and unfulfilled dreams

piled in the corners,

like unpaid bills.

As if I owe myself

more agony

As if I fear getting behind

in my suffering.

As if only the frightening truth

will set me free.

I would love to renovate

so the the walls of that

room could come crashing down–

and all the old secrets would

crumble and blow away.

Or maybe it would be enough

just for the door to be

locked forever–

and left as a resting place

for other ghosts– not mine

who would keep company

with all that I had

finally left behind in that

old haunted room.
___________________________________

Knowing and accepting- Creative Process Part One

Knowing and accepting

that we will be criticized-

that we will be judged,

rejected or even worse

ignored–

and choosing to

continue anyway-

is an essential skill

that we need to acquire-

that we can not do without-

in life and in art.

So is knowing and accepting

that sometimes the road is

long and hard-

and straight uphill-

all the way–

and that our chosen path

will take us through

mud and sludge and swamp-

and steep mountains

and dark forests.

And that for much

of the journey

we are absolutely

alone.

To be lost and afraid

and to ache

and nearly break–

is part of the journey.

There is no avoiding it.

When we are engaged

in the process of writing or painting–

where the product matters-

where it’s not just therapeutic–

or an exercise in self inquiry-

but where expectations of merit-

and quality play an important part–

we will at some point-

feel all of the awful.

fearful, jealous, disappointed,

rejected, despairing, angry emotions.

And we will be full of doubt.

We will from time to time

believe that we can not

keep going.

But there is the trick

to surviving all this misery.

It’s remembering that if

you are feeling these

things–you are on your path.

If you feeling all tis pain

you are doing it right.

You are staying on track.

If you opened your lap top today

and hate what your wrote yesterday–

and the day before–

You are in the process

of doing the work.

You are getting there-

you are slogging up the hill-

you are getting it done.

You are getting somewhere.

So when you are stuck with nothing to say-

remember that you are supposed to get stuck-

sometimes.

You are not going anywhere folks if–

from time to time

you don’t get stuck-

waylaid, distracted, completely lost.

You haven’t left the comfort zone if

you never want to rage and moan.

It is part of the creative process.

That is all it is.

You wanna quit but don’t.

You gotta go through this part.

On the other side of this

is your reward.

Coming soon. Part two,

After the solstice–the days begin to grow longer and hopefully brighter and brighter.

The little grey squirrel–
sitting on the scaffolding outside my window–
doesn’t seem to be bothered by the pouring rain.
I need to adopt a squirrel attitude,
I guess nature asks it’s creatures to accept things.
Squirrel and his family have been very busy in my attic
since the end of summer.
The roof has an opening that can’t be closed
until the house repairs are done.
I am trying to have a Beatrix Potter attitude
about my house guests. It’s difficult.
They can be very noisy when they start scratching in
the wee hours.

And I am trying to be accepting

of the difficulties I face.

I am still standing.

I just have to hold on and do my best.

The shocks and losses of recent years

have been like a storm that subsides but does not

end.

It may keep going like this.

It’s entirely possible.

It’s that part of the movie.

The hero is tied to the dock and the waves are coming in.

I expect a lot more grief to come.

More hardships to carry and more

losses to face–

more heartache.

I am not so much afraid of it–

as preparing for it.

I am trying to face the coming year

With as much courage, calm and continued belief

that there is always good amongst the bad

and gifts amongst the challenges–

and joy within the pain.

And I am ready for it.

I am expecting it.

I am expecting myself to keep going

to keep believing and to keep trying

to live in happiness and openness and faith.

Despite the hard stuff.

Trying anyway.

My word for the coming year–

Yes I choose a word to call up the magic that it brings–

Resiliance.

That is what I need.

It’s a good word.

Bright shiny tough.

Resiliance.

I do not like Christmas or birthdays or celebrations

anything that has to happen on a certin day–

I prefer to celebrate for no reason.

I prefer to celebrate–just because.

But the true message of the season

The coming of hope and light into the world

Makes me shine a little.

Merry Christmas

angel

REMEMBERING TODAY

Today is December 6th and every year on this day I like to take a moment to reflect and remember what happened on this day 23 years ago.


On December 6 we commemorate the anniversary of the Montreal massacre, at L’École Polytechnique de Montréal.

On that terrible day December 6 1989  these 14 innocent young women were gunned down in a senseless act of violence against women.

Please take the time to say their names aloud or read them slowly in your mind.

The women’s names were:

Anne-Marie Edward, Anne-Marie Lemay, Annie St Arneault,
Annie Turcotte, Barbara Daigneault, Barbara Maria Klucznik, Genevieve Bergeron
Helene Colgan, Maryse LeClaire, Maryse Leganiere, Maud Haviernier, Michele Richard,
Nathalie Croteau, Sonia Pelletier.

I don’t want the world to forget their names. Today I am not mentioning the name of their killer. It’s their names I want to think about.

As you go about your daily  life today, please take the time to remember them and allow their tragic deaths to remind us that Violence against women and girls continues to be a massive global problem.

When we think of the 14 young women who died on December 6 we can reflect on the continuing violence around the world against women or really any gender based violence– and think hard about what we are going to do about it.

You could go here and donate if you don’t know what to do. These folks have some good things figured out.
Death-Dancing-2 DEATH DANCE FOR LOST GIRLS

Some lists.

I reblogged this post from a few years ago

I think I have come a long way from this but some of them still apply.

 

Reasons I get stuck.

1. It is hard to keep going when the destination seems so
distant and unknown.

Imagining Frida
Imagining Frida

2. It is hard to keep believing in yourself–
when there is no real evidence that what you believe
is more than your ego gone wild.

3. It is hard to go on without recognition
or validation or reward–
because you could be delusional.
Completely mad.
It’s a distinct possibility.

4.It is hard to find a reason to keep going because of
all of the above.

5. And then there is the question of your own sanity.

So Here’s another list.

Reasons to question my own sanity.

1. I am writing the third draft a play–that may never be produced.

2. I probably could put time and effort into more lucrative pursuits yet
I persist.

3.The life of an artist is often painful, disappointing
frustrating and depressing.

I hate to say it, but this leads to another list .

Painful things about being an artist.

1.The weeping, nail-biting–
and hopeless staring at an empty
screen.

2.Thefeeling that I am absolutely on the right
track suddenly changing to the realization that I’m not.

3.Awareness that my ability
to say something-
that hasn’t been said-
by countless others–
seems–
a) lacking?
b)missing in action?
c)otherwise engaged.

3.The constant nagging voice inside me
saying unkind things about the value or validity
of my own work

4. Experiencing shame, jealousy and resentment for the success of others

5, Trying to not have jealousy and resentment for the success of others.

6. Feeling threatened by the success of others. Oh God! Help me!!!!

7. Though some artists, writers and actors are wildly successful
famous and rich– the majority of us deal with–

Oh dear– I guess it’s another list–

The 99 percent

1. lack of recognition,

2. crushing poverty

3. the thought of dying in obscurity

4. The realization that absolute failure is entirely possible

5. The ever looming reality of poverty–
and dying in obscurity increasing with age. Yikes!

BUT–

I realize that despite the above lists–

None of these are good enough reasons to give up my dream.

Not writing–because of fear of failure
ensures my success at one thing– failing.

Failure is possible enough without my helping it along.

And–If I do not write–

My fearful, negative, self will have defined me and
controlled me and won this battle.

AND SO

I keep

1. writing.

2. painting,

3. improving,

4. growing,

5. discovering–

and even though I am often–

1.stumbling

2. falling,
3.crashing,
4. burning.

I keep going.

Because

1.There is no turning back for me.

2.The road only goes one way.

3.There is no place that I can go back to.

4.The road behind me is closed.

Well folks–

if this has not been annoying enough–

Here is another list–this one is for you .

1.What are you working on?

2. If you are not really working on something–

What are you avoiding?

3.What are you risking by not risking?

What are you denying yourself

by not devoting yourself to the discipline?

4. What terrors are you subjecting yourself to

by not confronting the fear?

And last but not least–

5. Why are you reading my silly lists.

1.Go get to work.

2.Call the Muse.

3.Wait for her.

4.Don’t make other plans

She is most likely to show up when you are actually at your desk or your easel
on tapping away on a keyboard in bed or in a coffee shop or wherever you write.

Dispatches from the Road less travelled

“Life is complex.

Each one of us must make his own path through life. There are no self-help manuals, no formulas, no easy answers. The right road for one is the wrong road for another…The journey of life is not paved in blacktop; it is not brightly lit”, and it has no road signs. It is a rocky path through the wilderness. ”
― M. Scott Peck from The Road Less Travelled

If you have stumbled on this blog–
or if you are someone who has decided to
subscribe to it–

I want you to tell you how happy I am that you have decided
to visit.

The reason I write here is to encourage myself–
inspire myself–support myself– and otherwise
keep myself dedicated to my art practice

and hopefully–maybe- do the same for you.

I have nothing in particular to offer you
nothing to teach you–
nothing to sell you
nothing to give away–
other than–
my own commitment to keep going–

along my unpaved and often rained out–

artistic road.

Here I am in the middle of blogland

with my dream hanging out

for all to see-

encouraging myself to be fearless.

And hoping you will be fearless too.

And even if my words fall into
the empty void–

I will keep writing and painting and growing my artistry.

I have been building a dream for the past couple of years.

It’s not one that will offer me instant rewards or recognition.

There are other things–

that I could do–

that would give me more of that.

I am taking the hard road.

The rocky and unpaved path.

The road less travelled.

I may be too weak, too introverted,

too obsessive too perfectionistic,

too fearful, too shy, too melancholy–

I may even be delusional–

I am not young and fresh and new at any of this.

I have gone unrecognized and undiscovered

for so long that many might think I should give up.

But I don’t.

I can’t.

I wont.

I am compelled to continue–

despite waves of despair and hopelessness–

Despite the choking fingers of self doubt-

Despite the pain of being ignored–

I do not quit because what I do–

is what I love.

The journey of imagination is what

feeds me and delights me and challenges me.

And I keep going with the hope that

dedication and discipline and fierce devotion–

will allow me to one day create

a work of art that inspires and astonishes

and heals and challenges and transforms

and all those other things

that art can do.

I am writing a play right now–

with the determination

to dig in deep

to live in the difficulty–

to roam and fall into the hollows–

to cope with the endless mud of the work

to write and write and stay writing

without recognition and reward.

To look hopelessness and fear

square in the eye–

And to persevere without compliments or

rave reviews or agents jumping to represent me.

To ignore the defeatist messages I send myself.

And to press on. Regardless.

This is my road.

Hope you are somewhere on yours.

What are you working on?

What is it that you want to create?

What is it that you are avoiding?

Lets talk about it.

Waiting

This painting is called Waiting. It’s autobiographical.

I posted it here because it’s about my creative imagination

and how sometimes I have to just sit still and wait-

for the images to come out of the dark.

I am writing a new play.

The working title is Ladder of Angels.

It is a work of imagination. Fiction.

I am finding the story as I go along.

It is a bit like catching butterflies at night.

My writing community Wet Ink Collective

right now is deep in a ten week writing intensive.

We have all set ourselves the challenge of

completing a draft of a play in ten weeks.

Crazy yes! Scary? Yes. Exciting. Yes.Yes Yes!!!!

!2 writers meet once a week and spend three hours

reading and discussing each others new pages–

with the idea of everyone emerging at the end with a completed

script in their hot little hands.

It can be a rough draft, a second draft whatever?

It doesn’t matter. The goal is getting it done–

and not chickening out along the way.

We are all swimming across a wide lake of our own creative dreams

and some of us are already gasping for air–

But we are there for each other–

keeping each other afloat.

Its all about being fearless and trusting

that the creative imagination will open up

and the words and images will flow out– if we allow them.

And– to tame the inner critic enough to keep going.

I am not one who believes that the inner critic is my enemy.

When my critic sticks with sensible though ruthless commentary about

the authenticity of my characters, or the flow of a scene– she can be very

helpful. It’s only when she makes it personal and starts telling me I am not worthy

and can not rise to the task or that I will never achieve my dreams–

that is when she must be sent to her room.

So now I challenge/encourage/invite you– my readers– to set the goal–

to complete a draft of something–anything–in a designated period of time

and find some one, or a group, to hold you to the task.

Is is a short story that you would like to set down for a writing contest?

Is it the family story you want to write? Is it the book

that you have been thinking about for years and years?

Set a goal. Make a deadline– and grab some creative supporters

who will keep you honest and accountable. Do it.

Defeat resistance. Face your fear. Keep that promise you

made to yourself. Be fearless.

Last days of summer

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood”
Tom Robbins

Some people say that Labour Day marks the end of summer,

but not for me. I hold on to the beauty of this season

until the autumn equinox.

Maybe even longer.

I have resumed my morning ritual of painting in bed.

I pull all my supplies and my journal into the bed

and just begin.

It helps me remember that the raw dread I sometimes

wake up with is just a feeling.

Caring for my mother is difficult.

As silly as it sounds I am still afraid of

her. Afraid of displeasing her

Afraid of awakening her rage.

My fear is old and carved into my brain

like a mountain road is carved into the granite.

How many explosions does it take to cut through

a mountain– or a kid?

And she’s just a little old lady

frail with Dementia–and sweet

most of the time.

But still she can fill me with terror.

I have learned–well I am learning–

to have compassion for her and for myself.

I have hired a care giver again.

Four hours a week.

We will see how it goes this time.

She has already started to complain.

I think the thing is to not give in.

I think the thing is to hold my ground.

I have never been able to do that with her.

Now I have to grow up and be an adult,

and I think the best way, is to connect

with the child in me–

and have my happy childhood now.

So painting in my art journal is part of that.

I write down my sadness and then I paint over it

and it is surprising how my spirits

lift and my view of things shifts.

It is amazing how spending a little

time diverting your imagination from

endless ruminating on impending disaster

can transform my whole inner world.

If you paint it’s hard to think resentful thoughts.

If you splash colour around it’s hard to have all that

mess in your mind.