Sunday, May 2, 2010

Week 4: On discipline, moderation and the soul's passion..

Work is piled up this week - Mother's Day orders to get out, birthday and wedding crackers underway, new card catalogues to print, and a big corporate order to fill. It takes lots of discipline to work as an artisan studio filling highly customized jobs and juggling irregularly arriving orders with all-too-regular bills; working into the wee hours many nights of the week. Sigh.

Thankfully the biz has generated piles of work this year and I feel oh-so-gratefully relieved.  It’s been years and years and YEARS with agonizingly slow growth. And the birth of it all can’t come a moment too soon for this old girl and the friends who have ‘angsted’ right along with me. Honestly I am physically, mentally and spiritually pooped by it all. BRING ON SUCCESS, I say!

I remember, gratefully, my wonderful Doctor empathizing with me over this years ago, saying, “Gillian, you have so many ‘NOs’ in your life!”

And there have there been many NO's – in spades.
NO, you can’t afford new shoes” and NO you can’t garden this weekend, dear girl. there are ORDERS to see to” and “NO you can’t have your prescriptions filled yet - JUST STAY WELL ANOTHER WEEK.” and "Walk away from that tomato, darling, because it is NOt in this week’s grocery budget” and, annually, of course there is NO, there can be NO cottage vacation this year...NO you may NOt have another cat-pal just now... and NO, there can be NO new i-Mac.” and, finally,  NO, girl, you definitely, very most definitely, canNOt have that second muffin!”  NoNoNO!

Well, shoot.

It has taken SO MUCH DISCIPLINE. Isn't discipline another word for ‘moderation’? A little reining in of one's self in order to keep life on a middle path, avoiding the penalties of extremism. After all that’s why we don’t eat that second muffin, right? So I am kind of amazed to find out at this late stage that really discipline has been an extreme in my life – my personal Abraham Maslow-ian path to meeting the ‘hierarchy of needs’; to keeping the light of creativity burning, however tentatively at times, in the soul. Because somewhere so deep inside that I can’t even tell you where exactly the place is, is the need to create. And for that I have been willing, even almost gladly and needfully willing, to embrace extreme discipline and to give up just about everything in grateful return.

There is an inner spring-shoot of personal, spiritual passion that keeps insisting it’s way up though the grounds of moderation. You just can’t trample on it forever and still keep on really 'living'. It’s that simple. Grow it must - to be what it was born to be. I think we all can be a little afraid at times of extremes, tending to rein them in. And it’s not just all about the excesses of second muffins and fat hips we are worried about. We are wary to startle or burden others with what we fear may be our excesses. Wary to scare them or drive them away with the passions in our hearts and of our dreams. Wary to scare ourselves even in the course of trying to express to ourselves, the passions that lie so very deeply within us. We think possibly we might find, should we try, that all hell breaks loose and we can’t put Pandora back in her box. Our self-understanding and relationships with others may irrevocably change and THEN what will we do! And so we go on with life dressed in muted personas but with a growing, uneasy suspicion there is a personal message we are not hearing and there is something we need very deeply to be doing - and are not.  And the clock that waits for no one, ticks on.

Being an artisan there is an inborn drive to express passion and to midwife creativity and dreams– to realize these no matter how much or how long this might take us. But, as I get older, I realize that even the creativity of my work is not all of my soul's work and is not the sum of my human soul’s passion. Now, approaching 60, I find there is an additional kick-in-the-pants, to meet with whatever honesty and integrity I can muster, other, unlived passions of being human. This is a highly personal place to be. And it is sacred. I don’t know what the biblical equivalent would be. It’s not a ‘Moses at the burning bush’ kind of moment. 'Have been there, done that' anyway, as the saying goes, when I entered the convent many years hence and again when I became a card-maker. This is another, more mature moment.  It is, I deeply believe, a moment in preparation of our meeting with God.

I was working on my line of quote cards this week and came across this gem from Eleanor Powell: “What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift back to God.” So I am on this footpath trying to meet - full monty - life's passions, know them, dance merrily with them, cry with them and discover in them the most sacred gifts that they are. No answers this week. Just a kick in the pants. Just the start of a long walk.

Thanks for travelling with me on my footpath this week...

BBPP Weekly Health Check:

Mind: It’s hard to find the time to give the mind the freedom to just flow. The work and financial pressures are so unrelenting. But I am sticking to my plan grabbing one whole block of time each week for the Bracebridge Photo Project. My mind now has a little oasis to look forward to every week – time to ‘see’ with the camera, time to reflect and let suppressed thoughts flow. It is freeing up more mental space for the work week too. Took me 23 years to figure this out? Duh.

Body: BP took another dip this week. Legs are limbering and feeling stronger, pulse rate is slowing. YEAH walking!

The Artist Soul: (Written mid-week while sitting on the summer dock, feet dangled over the Muskoka River at BraceBridge Bay.) We’ve had a long dry spell and the waters over the falls are greatly diminished; yet the river continues to run fast. A late day sun is kissing the water with shine and sparkle. A steady breeze is travelling the length of the river carrying with it the strong fishy smell of spring. And also the voices of the two women discussing how, in concert, to turn their canoe in the waters. A black fly has zeroed in on my space and I heartily decline acquaintanceship. Time to go home and make dinner.