MISSION IMPOSSIBLE ACCEPTED

I am re-posting this entry from a few years ago when I was afraid but ready to go forward inspite of my fear.  I was about to travel to the Gabriola Theatre Festival to perform my solo show and I was struggling with debilitating stage fright and anxiety.

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur
when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.
For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort,
that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for
different ways or truer answers.”

M.SCOTT PECK

I need to step out of my rut.
I need to search for different ways
and truer answers. 

I need to be fearless,

My old arch enemy- Stage Fright has reared its ugly head and is taunting me and leaping out at me when I least expect it. My  mission is to transform my Fear into Courage and vanquish my enemy for another day. I accept the Mission. My method Love. My super power. Gratitude.These are the magical alchemical tools that will turn the base metal of negative emotion into golden light and give me the super-power I need. I will fly, soar, and float through the sky powered by the golden light of love even though I am terrified.

Please forgive the comic book language. It helps remind myself how much I really want and need to do my play.

I remind myself how grateful I am to have the opportunity.I created my script with love and really hard work and commitment and passion. I remind myself of the diligent writing process-and my willingness to keep going when it seemed as ifI couldn’t bring all the elements together and I wanted to quit. I am grateful to the audience who have bought all the tickets. I am grateful to the festival that invited me to perform. I am grateful for the opportunities I have to make art and share it.I am grateful to special friends that generously supported me. I am grateful for the healing power of art.I am grateful for everything good and bad. I am even grateful to my Stage Fright, which I realize has been just trying to protect me. If stage fright shows up in my dressing room on Saturday night I hope she will be carrying a bouquet of flowers.

Remember to look at the sky.

Sometimes

I get scared.

Overwhelmed

Shut down.

Oh– these endless yammering clamouring thoughts.

Inner turmoil.

Craziness.

What’s wrong with me?

It’s just the old wounds weeping.

Just the old anguish re-instating itself.

It’s just the ancient inherited sorrow of my ancestors–

Mourning their loved ones.

Grieving their losses.

It’s just the old trauma,

My trauma,

My losses, my sorrow,

Claiming their hard won territory

In my torn and tattered soul,

Warning me of impending danger.

I succumb. I surrender.

I shake and quake and shiver and shudder.

But then I remember.

This is just one waking dream.

This is just one ancient human drama.

This is just one ancestral dance.

One story,

One memory in the ancient human story.

I can clear this.

I can dissolve this.

I can transform this.

With brush strokes.

With song.

With prayer.

Meditation.

I can both honour and transform the sorrow in me–

With Love-

With the living breathing–

and very much alive–

Love that does not perish.

Love that can not die.

Breathe. Exhale. Inhale. Release.

And remember to look at the sky.

Look now– at the endless unfolding grey

and white and blue–

and the windy clouds scudding across the endless sky–

rolling on to Tomorrow and Forever.

Look at the rain moving from the north.

Look at the miracle of the sky and remember the love.

I can remember my little brother, my father, my grandmother,

my grandfather.

In that endless rolling canopy above our world–

I can see the love that still lives in me.

The love that passed between us.

The love carried in my ancestral line–

The love that connects us all.

The love that never dies.

About a month ago my friend Connnie– artist and soulful mentor of so many– created a very special project to honour a beloved friend who had suddenly passed away. She invited online friends and fellow artists to participate. Come see it here. Piecing Together the Sky

Accepting uncertainty and living the questions in life and art.


 

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.
Live in the question.”    Rainer Maria Rilke

I love these words.

I try to call them up when

I face uncertainty

 

I am in the middle of developing

an idea that is slowly forming in

my mind.

I don’t know if it is a play

or a short story

Or something else altogether.

My  desk is covered in sketches of  artists who have  inspired me I am not sure why I drew them.

The images are clues or perhaps  threads  of  a story – slowly weaving itself in the back of mind.

poests painters and revolutionaries 2jpg

If I stand back and speak to

my images I might say JacksonPollack and Lee Krasner and Andy Warhol–What are  you trying to tell me?

Why are you here? What are you pointing me to?

DSCF1630

For me drawing opens a door into  a deeper

more potent form of imagination.

Something beyond intention and anything

conscious.

Maybe these drawings are part of a search

into my own psyche.

Maybe I am digging, sifting through the layers

of  my early romantic ideals-

when my fascination with these famous artists

woke up some kind of young longing in me.

I don’t know. I have to sit with the unknowing.

Here is the thing.

There is a relationship somewhere

between the drawings and the writing I am doing

and my own life right now.

It’s not always immediately evident.

I  look at the drawings that come out

after a session of writing

and I think  ok–

I  think that  the subject of what

drives someone to create

is the subject I want to explore.

And somehow death is part of the subject

And how the need to be present for life

is part of it. And how creativity

is the way of showing up.

And I think that somehow

spirits– as in the spirits of the

dead artists  are alive to all of us who

look at the art they made and left behind.

But I don’t really know.

Maybe drawing the artists

and even writing in this blog

is like playing with a Ouija board,

and I am summoning spirits from within myself–

to help me with my troublesome imagination.

I know the location of whatever I am writing

is somewhere just west of collective unconscious.

And has to do with a place where artists

can meet and converse.

 

e thing is, with art and with life–

sometimes we have to tolerate

the churning and distracted feelings of  uncertainty.

Because on the other side of this unknowing,

is the path to where it all makes sense.

It’s true we  must learn to live  in the questions–

as Rilke tells us–and just wait–because beyond

the  clouds of uncertainty,

is the bright blue sky of knowing.

The story will weave itself together and everything will be revealed.

 

Heavenly Messenger a new work dedicated to Hali.

Sometimes inspiration will surprise you. Sometimes you will be so moved that you have to act.

Sometimes the inspiration is about gratitude and expressing it.

I decided to dedicate this painting to Hali

It started out as an intuitive journey–I was just playing around with layers
and letting the art come intuitively. I named it Eliza–for no particular reason–
just cos I thought that it might be a good name for this girl–
But then I changed my mind.
I had to Thank You Hali of Lilywheelslide for your art and your inspiration.
I believe you are a heavenly messenger.

Full Moon coming July 3rd. Get your wishes ready


Getting ready for making wishes on the full moon,
July 3rd. I used to have tea parties with my
friend Rachel once a month before she moved to Boston.
She taught me the different names of the full moons,
as they appear through the wheel of the year.
The last one was the strawberry moon or the Rose Moon.
The one coming up is the Thunder Moon. I love that.
We used to eat special moon cakes and things in honour
of a particular moon and drink chai or peppermint tea.
It was lovely. Here is a painting in honour of the Thunder Moon
and Rachel. I added some digital magic for fun.
If you click on the picture you should get a nice surprise.

What are you longing for?

“What you seek is seeking you.”
― Rumi

Today I am sharing an intuitive painting.

Just for fun I added a little digital magic to the painting this evening.
Click on the picture below and see if you notice a little bit of extra magic.

Not everyone can see it.

This painting emerged when my soul asked me to paint it.

Of course I didn’t know that my soul was talking to me.

I didn’t know what I was painting. I just held the brush.

Our imagination will speak to us–send us messages from deep within ourselves and tell us what we are longing for.

I know what I am longing for when I look at this painting.

The Magic.

Which of course is art.

Dabbling with magic is a risky business.

One must be fearless to face the potential disasters

disappointments and possible failures.

But yet magic is calling me.

I know this.

How about you?

What is calling you?

Deeply and truly what is calling you?

Preparation and effort–Ideas as tools.

“Creativity is not a gift from the Gods bestowed by some divine and mystical spark.
It is the product of preparation and effort and it’s within reach of everyone who wants to achieve it.”
Twyla Tharp.

I love this quote

and I believe it–

I am perhaps a little more of the mind that magic is involved–

But I agree the magic part is only there–

when the preparation and effort is in place.

Ask any magician. They will agree.

And as far as the part about Gods bestowing divine and mystical sparks-

well I think that is the business of the Gods–

and our business as artists is:

the rigorous preparation and effort.

So I am with Twyla and I am encouraged by what she says,

But Twyla is a dancer–

so the daily discipline is clear–

but for a writer?

What is the preparation?

A dancer prepares every day by standing at the barre.

Maybe for writers it’s standing at the bar?

Just kidding. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

I do believe writers could learn from dancers in how they practice–

and how they understand the various functions of practice

or in other words what they are doing and why.

The warm-up to a dancer, is very specific and done in a particular

order to achieve desired results.

When writers sit down to work is there a preparation?

Something that focuses the mind and tunes up the imagination?

Is there a preparation for writers that readies us for the work

by opening and releasing the imagination

in a specific order?

Something that builds the muscles of our craft?

Something that strengthens our ability to

imagine and create intrigue, pathos, emotional truth?

I write this blog as a warm up to my daily writing session.

It’s my preparation

But it is a bit haphazard.

Whatever pops into my mind is what

ends up here.

What if I were to think like a dancer and focus on a particular creative

technique or tool.

For example I know that I need to raise the stakes for my character.

Raising the stakes is an expression used by actors and directors and screen writers.

It is an idea that works like a tool. It’s an idea with a purpose.

Here is an example:

An actor is playing a scene as if his character knows he will get what he wants from another character.

He is cocky self assure oozing with charisma but–the scene is boring.
.
The director might tell the actor to raise the stakes for himself in the scene.

He needs the actor to think about what it would cost the character–if he didn’t get

what he wants. This idea–this tool- could get the actor to think of the negative outcomes

–the losses–the pain that he would experience if he didn’t get the other character

to agree to the plan.

Suddenly the actor can see another way to play the scene.

Now he can use the tool of raising the stakes to layer in a whole level of anxiety

underneath his words. The actor himself is affected now–

He has an inner life to his character now.

His character has terror to contend with–

and this inner life makes the once boring scene, now, riveting.

See what I mean by an idea that is a tool?

You use the idea. You apply the idea.

Not all ideas about writing are like tools.

In my case I know I need to raise the stakes for

one of my characters.

I have to make him really scared to lose anything more.

So far he has been ok with having nothing to lose–

and that’s the problem.

He’s never in any jeopardy.

He’s always pretty much ok.

Nobody worries about this guy.

I chose to have him be this way but now–

I need to force the issue that is facing him.

I have to make the audience see what he is up against–

I have to make them care.

I have to make him face himself and do what a hero does.

He has to come up against something that all his easy going acceptance

and street wise spiritual enlightenment can not fend off.

I have to find the modern day monster that will devour him unless he kills the monster.

–ok so how could I prepare for pushing him over the edge and into the monster’s lair?

Maybe I just did. Maybe defining the tool and thinking about why I have to use it

actually opened my mind a little–stretched my imagination nicely–

and hey– I do want to get to work now.

I am excited. Gotta push that guy into the fire and scare him–

I just realized, I been to0 easy on him.

I liked him too much.

I still like him–and I will save him–

but not til he faces the monster.

On Moths and purpose and creative process and such

Metamorphosis: a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism,
as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the moth.

If you know me or if you visit my blog,

You know that I have been working on a play.

I am in my moth stage now.

After months as a pupa,

I emerged from my cocoon but–

now I am flitting around

crashing into the walls.

Is this what all that hanging upside down was for?

Ok. So anyway–

Welcome to the moth stage.

This is the part of the creative process

where the artist asks herself

What the hell are you doing?

No really What are you doing?

Right?

Ever ask yourself what the hell a moth is doing?

Well they do have a purpose.

It’s a biologically determined drive,

to accomplish an essential task.

But it’s not always obvious,

especially when you have to chase one around

your room at two in the morning.

Poor misguided moth is just trying to fullfill

it’s destiny and achieve it’s purpose.

But Moths aren’t supposed to be in your house.

They are like butterflies–and are supposed

to be outside in the natural world,

pollinating various night blooming vegetation.

Yet they some how manage inadvertently to end up in our closets–

making meals out of our favourite cashmere sweaters.

And we hate them for it.

Poor misguided moth.

She’s just trying to fulfill her purpose.

Moths and the nocturnal plants they feed on–

like the Honeysuckle flower or the Red Valerian–

can’t live without each other.

Miraculous nature has provided the moth

with dextrous long thin tongues–

an attribute completely wasted on wool sweaters,

but very important in pollinating night blooming

flowers. The moth is always looking

for the flowers. The flowers are always waiting

for the Moth. See what I mean about destiny?

So what in the world am I talking about?

And what does this have to do with my play?

Well–the moth stage of the creative process

is when the writer-

-that would be me in this case–

is madly searching for the flower but can not find it.

I’m madly flying up at that light bulb and singeing my wings.

The flower is the essence or the meaning– or the soul of the work.

I’t’s the inexplicable thing that blooms in the mind of the audience

or the reader. It’s the truth of the work.

I need to find it.

It can’t bloom without me.

There is no art without this relationship.

See. I believe this.

So there you go–

That’s the Moth state.

I saw a play recently that had no soul essence or meaning

and yet I know the young writer probably believed it did.

It was timely. And it seemed to delve into a solid and important question.

But it was trite and obvious.

She didn’t go through the moth state.

Nothing unfolded or bloomed or revealed itself.

It needed a moth.

The Moth state can drive you mad and you can end up

in a drawer pollinating your socks.

But it leads you to the thing that the story is about.

It leads you to the thing that makes the audience

sigh or cry or ache or laugh in recognition–

or even just connect to your idea at a deep level–and engage.

Because this is the purpose of art.

That is what we are trying to do

Kandinsky puts it very well–

“The artist must have something to say,

mastery over form is not his goal,

but adaption of form to its inner meaning”

My play has a deep truth in there somewhere.

I know it.

I feel it.

I am drawn to it.

I am shaken by it.

I have come close to finding it–

But I haven’t yet.

Not quite.

Now it’s dusk and that’s when Moths get busy.

So hopefully tonight–

Hopefully I will find the flower that is waiting to bloom in my play.

Life Lessons

Sometimes I think that the lessons of my life

have been delivered in a series

of disasters and catastrophes.

It is as if I somehow needed to

go sailing in a little paper boat,

during a raging storm,

in order to learn about the need for

life jackets.

Maybe if I had been paying more attention

to the seemingly insignificant events

of everyday life, I would have noticed

them gathering heavily and ominously

like clouds do, just before a hurricane.

Maybe I would not have set sail in such a flimsy boat.

And maybe now I wouldn’t be digging

through the rubble and ruin

to find the lessons left by so many storms.
_____________________________________________

So now my life again is filled with storms–

My mother has Alzheimer’s.

I am her sole care giver.

I have no siblings to share this with.

It sucks.

Literally.

It sucks my soul and my sanity and sometimes–

my sense that I can survive this.

And I am constantly thinking how I shouldn’t be

alone with this and how unfair it is–

and how I need my brother–

who left the world so long ago–

who died in such a terrible way–

to be here with me now–

learning what I am learning.

Of course I ask myself

Why would I write this?

Why would I dwell on this subject?

Why would I go to this place in my head?

When I could be in my imaginary garden

Playing with my comic fantasies

Or painting pretty pictures–

Why?

I am trying to do what

Ernest Hemingway advises–

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”

Ok–so-this is what hurts.

I wake up in the morning, every morning–

with a feeling of raw dread

And I panic. What’s next?

Will I survive this twister?

Whatever it is?

And then I breathe.

Because in truth I am ok.

It is my mother who is not.

She is losing herself.

It’s impossible to help her.

I can not argue with her delusions.

I can not fight with her paranoia.

I wouldn’t even try.

But little brother–

she never got over losing you.

And every day she relives

the heartache of that loss.

And all her other losses–

so many–

And every day she suffers.

It’s amazing in some ways–

How she fights for what she wants–

how she refuses what she doesn’t–

She is not compliant.

She is fierce.

She’s a force to be reckoned with.

She is not going down without a fight.

It’s a gift to me in some ways.

Not a welcome gift.

Not a gift I would want to thank anyone for.

But a gift nonetheless.

It has something to do with my own healing

and I don’t fully understand it yet.

It’s a steep learning curve–

Grappling with this–

Finding meaning in it.

I am suddenly coming to the harsh realization,

that this is the painful climax–

the cruel resolution–

of a story that began even before she was born.

Perhaps I can come to terms with

my own true story as I play my part in this one.

And though it’s really tough-

and I would prefer this was all a bad dream–

I have to be awake and present for it.

I have something to learn here.

This is the part of my life story–

where I lose my mother.

And this is the part of her story

where she loses herself.

And it isn’t going to get better for her.

Not this time.

She wont escape this.

I can’t protect or rescue her from this.

All I can do is walk down this dark road with her,

holding her hand, through this desolate landscape.

And Oh my God–

I’m trying to understand what is being asked of me

by my own soul.

What teaching am I meant to take from this

violent and terrible storm–

And why does it have to be so hard

to learn whatever it is I am learning?

When I think of my mom, usually words like —

Vitriolic, Vindictive, Venomous, Victimizing–Viscious–

are the first that come to mind.

But seriously folks–

And now that she has Alzheimer’s I can add

Delusional and Desperate and Demonic.

When she was young and I was a child,

when we were children–

She was glamourous.

Gorgeous.

Gentle.

Generous.

The prettiest mom of all the moms.

High heels.

Red lipstick.

Big hair.

Big eyes.

A party girl.

And a singer.

A beautiful voice.

Everyone would ask her to sing

And she always would.

Single mom in a time when there

wasn’t a name for it–

Or an understanding of how difficult it is to

be one.

Strong independent.

Cruel if I displeased her–

abusive they would say now-

moody, mean, manic-depressive–

although we didn’t have a name for

the crazy times that came and went.

Mostly I loved her.

Mostly I adored her.

She was the queen of my world.

And I did everything I could to

please her and protect her.

I usually disappointed her.

In childhood I learned how to take care of myself,

And in truth–I gave birth to myself–my true self–

when I chose to be an artist.

but that is part of another chapter–

I have found so much I can admire about my mom.

I can admire her and understand her now–

She is fighting for her life.

And maybe she always was.

The only way she knew how to live was to fight.

She is smart as a fox and as fierce.

She knows where the traps are.

She can smell them.

Little old crazy fox-woman,

I can love her for that.

Coping with her terrible behaviour now,

and actively making a point to remember

all the beauty and love that she

offered me in her own way–

is a way I can love myself.

Sometimes I am not successful and I torment myself

with my life long addiction to self pity.

But then I snap out of it and remember that I don’t actually

need to suffer in this. It is my Mom who is actually suffering.

And I stand back up and rise to what is being asked of me.

I can do this. I tell myself.

Thank you God for honouring me with this mighty task

and for allowing my soul to journey through this difficult

terrain. Help me continue to hold the light within myself

enough to see the road in front of me.

And to learn the lessons that my life is offering me.

I am trying to speak these true and difficult things out loud

so as to cross that bridge between art and life–

and see if I can pick up the pieces of my torn and

tattered soul over there in that place between the worlds.