Category Archives: adapting

Pentimento

pentimento (pĕnˌtəmĕnˈtō) [key], painter’s term for the evidence in a work that the original composition has been changed. 

Despite my good intentions, there was no beauty in the outer lines. The peace I so longed to paint upon the canvas held the jarring discord of the reality. I did not know how to bring peace within the relationship this mandala represented. I did not feel direction in how to breech that barrier. Imposed hope, unwanted judgments clashed as colours and line created dissonance. Only the centre held promise.

How the urge to flight, to run away from what I couldn’t seem to fix held me! Throw the canvas away! Repaint the background to obscure the creative mess! What good are intentions if the product is flawed?

I was stopped by the centre, the seed and ground of my own heart. Green radiating from the spiral spoke to me. 

I raised my paint brush and began to recolour some lines. As I did, it struck me. This mandala was walking me through the inner labyrinth. This time on the journey was the walk toward the centre, that time of Release, the emptying to make room for the changed. The past could not be undone but colours and lines could be revisioned by letting go of what needed change.

I chose the colours that were darker for the heaviness of their pigments. Spiralling upward as layers obscured the colours and line below. I prepared for what will come by letting go.

It is not finished. Releasing is a spiralling process in time. It will come as I take the steps I can see. Each will draw me to that place of Revelation which will lead me to Return to the place of serving more deeply again. It will not be what was. It will have a new beauty.

I look at the mandala and see raised shadows as the only evidence of what had once been.

Only the centre remains.

 

**Credit to Heather Plett for teaching me the stages of a labyrinth

**Credit to Info Please for the wording in the definition of pentimento.

Waiting for the Light

 “May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring    

Last night I was thankful for the reasonableness of most drivers in our area. We had a power outage that covered my area of town. I realized in my move I had lost track of where any light sources were in my home.

Since even Internet was unavailable, I didn’t know how far the blackout had reached but had to go through about 4 unlit corners before I reached lit roads again. Almost all drivers reasonably and responsibly treated them as 4 way stops so I was able to get safely across to an area of town where I could purchase alternate light sources.

On the way home the news said a few thousand home had their power back but a few thousand others would need to wait until at least 1 am. I didn’t know whether I was returning to power in my home or not.

I was thankful for the inside light in my car to help me read the instructions and get the batteries in place for my light sources since I arrived to no power.

I was thankful for the sleeping bag I had bought for cold temperatures, for the fact that we are dealing with the milder possibilities of winter weather and that my light sources were strong enough to let me read until the loud sound of something being worked on across the street could finish and I could drift off.

I was thankful for medications to help me get what sleep I could.

I awoke to light.

That I see the things to be thankful for gives me the relief of knowing this other condition I am dealing with is not depression. That I can hear the positives adds to that relief.

Finding peace in the darkness gives hope that I will be able to gain the resources I need to face this other thing causing me to need help right now. It will come. Peace will return. Stability will be found. Light will return.

Facing the Challenge

“I chose being — being present, being open, being malleable. Life is saying, “okay, I will give you the challenges that will help you become grounded in that kind of living.”
(Facebook comment in response to a post about choosing a word for the year)

The first month of the year hasn’t ended and I am already glad I chose a goal instead of an expectation as my focus for the year.

I am floundering. I am struggling with seeing the Promise of being in the moment. I set this acrostic as my goal:

Being – to live out the PROMISE of each moment by being:

Present
Responsibly
Open,
Malleable
In
Situations,
Evolving

My play simplified it into this definition: To make each moment a living POEM:

Present
Open
Engaged
Malleable

The present situation is a magnifying glass showing me all the places my elasticity has been compromised by putting such tight strictures around my life.

But wait. Maybe what is happening is not the problem. Maybe the lack of elasticity comes in a belief that if I am not handling this in such and such a way right now, I am failing, I am falling apart, I am the problem.

That is where friends have come in. They look through a lens that sees a bigger picture. They become mirrors holding up our strengths. They become the balance when we struggle.

So I will be PRESENT even here in this place that feels like a mindfield I don’t know how to cross. I will stay aware, not giving in to the urge to push it away with sleep and white noise distractions.

I will responsibly OPEN myself to way and resources that can help me find a way back to more emotional stability and devise the strategy necessary to face what is. I will open myself to new possibilities.

I will stay ENGAGED. I will write, draw, paint, collage, interact where I need to, seek out the resources to help me take the next steps. walk, play a game of cribbage with my elderly friend once the illness ban is lifted from his home.

I will allow this moisture of tears make the clay of my life MALLEABLE in this situation so that I can find the shape it is to take in the future, even if I need to leave the present, much loved, mold behind.

It is with a mixture of groans and hope that I move out. The past cannot be undone. Well intentioned actions not understood can’t be made what they aren’t. I cannot go back and change schooling options of the past to make me acceptable where I  not accepted. I can only move forward from here. That is what I call EVOLVING. Beginning with where I am, with what I have and know in this moment, I can grow.

BEING

There was no better word I could have chosen as a goal for this year that looks like it will be bringing a lot of change. Now to just live today with that feeling of PROMISE.

Shades and Shadows

Now it is my turn to decide what to do with this black crayon in my hand. It may not be clear right away how best to enhance the art of life with this creative tool, but if I am willing to take the time to step back and look at the whole picture, the answer will come. It will take patience and wisdom and a willingness to look within to the inner artist who sees beyond my limited outer vision. (https://ljandie57.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/the-black-crayon/)

It can never again be the picture it was. Carefully applied colours and points of light are buried beneath the black shadings. Greens and grays blend a mask hiding the carefully placed lines which once was. As incomplete and artificial as it was, the image I had held on to for so long no longer exists as more than a mapping of shapes and a loose rendition of colors chosen long ago. I opened my heart and hand choosing to use the black for change. With inner healing, old options were no longer available.

For too many years I ingested the black anger, eating the black crayon, avoiding the deeper shades, burying the darkness inside when it wouldn’t just go away. Turning it toward myself brought thoughts of death and self harm. It didn’t matter whether I acted it out. I was no different in that interior place where self conception flourished or died then someone who acted on those thoughts. Knowing this inner darkness growing with each new shadow I took inside, my outer world became more pastel, more secretive to hide what I saw beyond my face when I looked in a mirror.

No more. Anger and emotions we label as dark are a part of the hues and shades creating the richness of life. We are not created to ingest and bury those materials holding some of life’s creative potential. Can you imagine a landscape without shadow or shading?

So I took paint brush in hand and let my inner artist undo the paled colour palette which had made my artwork incomplete. The deed has begun. I look at it now and can see potential I had not seen before. There is depth and dimension I had not imagined.

It isn’t finished. I can’t yet see what the new tones will bring into being. The change is too deep to happen in a single setting. It will take time and openness to the inner artist to bring forward the new vision I am only beginning to see.

In life events, it is no different. Moments come when something within says, “No more!” When there is no further to bend without breaking and something has to give. Having been taught by forces in life certain mores of acceptability, and coupling that learning with previous  maladaptive ways of addressing uncomfortable relationships, the tension of choosing to address the problem instead of hiding from it is testing every reserve within me.

For days I held that black crayon in hand not sure how to use it to create art in life instead of destroying what I had. I began reaching for resources, others whose guidance and support can help me make healthy changes within the tension. I am accepting the emotional turmoil and accessing resources to support me as I take these new steps.

I do so without  knowing how the painting or this time in my life will turn out. Will the potential depth be something I can carry out? Will my inner and outer resources be enough to complete what has been begun?

I only have the ability to change myself. I have neither the moral right nor the power to change another.

So I will pick up my brush. Squeeze the tubes of paint and design what is in my power to do. I have heard though that it would be helpful to pick up a tube of Payne’s gray.

Failure to measure up or a time to re-vision possibilities?

DSC00082rvOff in the north with no computer access, I saved this as an email to myself. Today, opening it, I found the very message I needed to hear. It is a time for revisioning  the circumstances of life. Written December 31, 2014

Failure. Not measuring up to expectations. How often labels create the stooped shoulders and flagging spirit as good intentions go wrong.  The spark inside seems doomed to flicker out. I am not what they need. I do not have what it takes.

But wait! You needn’t read many stories about inventions to realize that just such a state of disappointed lack of success is often the gateway to new breakthroughs. This morning I read of one such discovery in a collection of music trivia.

It was the 1970’s. Mono recordings in portable tape recorders didn’t meet the grade so a Sony team put time and effort into shrinking speaker parts to put in a pocket size case. They could fit in the playback and speakers but not the recording parts.  The time and money seemed wasted. The prototype was an expensive failure.

Except, the quality of sound was good. The Sony team kept the failed product around to listen to music as they worked.

It took a quirky, creative visionary to see the potential of what had been viewed a failure. By roaming the building Morita Ibuka knew what was occurring beyond the narrow scope of a single project. To Morita, a tiny player when paired with lightweight headphones had potential. But who wanted a tape recorder that couldn’t record?

Skepticism met the idea at every turn.  Limited thinking could have sunk the idea as labelling and target audiences all went through shifts of perspective.

You know the rest of the story. The idea of “slim, portable, personal music player” has gone through various configurations and has become a staple in our society.

Are there parts of your life that you have hidden away because structures around you have led you to believe your ideas or beliefs or philosophy or accomplishments don’t meet some pre established criteria?

Who knows? In the uniqueness of you there may be the invention that can impact the world in large or small ways. It may simply require some revisioning.

May God grant us the creative quirkiness to search for worth in what we have been led to believe are the failures in our lives.

Source material: “Now Hear This!”, Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into Music, 2007 (the irony of a source like this for the article is fully intended but information about inventions can be found in numerous publications)

Eddying currents of snow

It has happened. The cold dry snow light enough to form eddying currents powered by the passing of cars has laid is thin sheer sheeting gently across the grass.

My thoughts float in eddies of their own settling lightly in future visions of the coming spring and quiet preparations I will be making throughout the winter to let them grow with the warming sun.

This is one of the years when our concert will be in spring. Our school stays busy with activities so has opted for one big concert each year. That is fine with me. It gives time to develop smaller informal celebrations as the children learn new musical skills that will culminate in that final celebration. Within the cozy comforter of my classroom much will happen to prepare for the budding in the spring.

Life will move on through this time of snow. The tracks of vehicles already wind their paths through the snowy whiteness. There are small birds that will insulate among snarled branches and inside trees. Small animals will take foraging trips for food stored in the warmer months. Home will have a greater welcoming warmth when soon the wind blasts frozen across our faces.

There are some who say they would not live in a climate so cold. Just as my French immersion classes give me the extra challenge as I find resources for teaching and presenting in French, the winter challenges me to stretch beyond easy recreations, delving deep to find those things that bring me joy. I cannot be limited in what I find beauty in. The changing season recolors the world reinventing the landscape of possibilities.

The songs of my childhood in more static season can only be a part of my life. Coming from a place where snow was so rare I didn’t know how to maneuver well on icy roads, I have had to become adept at feeling the stability beneath my car, of recognizing the conditions of the road, of turning to resources like snow tires to help me navigate. I have had to learn the musculature of snow shoveling and high stepping where snow is still deep.

It is the same when I teach in the immersion school. I cannot become complacently reliant on the songs I already know or even what I hear on the radio. I am always needing to keep my attentions to the currents of change in order to keep my music teaching contemporary at the same time that I keep much of its content in French. Coming into the world as an adult, I have to research and take courses to more fully access the language and resources. Moving into this much richer climate of seasons I am stretched by seeking new music and learning to adapt known pieces to bring joy and learning to the children whose musical learning has been entrusted to me.

Changing seasons bring challenge. The coming winter reminds me of that within me which has the power and flexibility to learn and adapt.