Nashville wildflowers.

•May 11, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Sounds beyond my bedroom stir me to the a consciousness I have long been holding at bay.  Once I step out of bed into the day you will disappear entirely.

It was a normal dream. Similar to many I’ve had lately, visiting friends, being with people.

But in the gray morning of first light clearer than my subconscious should allow, you stepped in wildly calm, mountains of unsaid undone untouched unopened wild forgotten things rumbling distant beneath the surface. We were both surprised, stole a moment as if no one else existed knowing there was nothing to be done but standing there, in awkward knowing.

I was in a room a bathroom/bedroom of sorts, standing in a white tank top and red underwear.  You knocked, when I said “yeah” to indicate the room was occupied. You barged in comfortably taking your pants off until you saw me,  and totally surprised kept your pants quite on. I asked why you would come in when it clearly wasn’t vacant.  You asked why I would say “yeah” to an inquiry about coming in. We laughed, hugged, you said it was good to see me. We silently acknowledged I wasn’t wearing pants, you weren’t wearing a shirt, deciding it was normal. Normal because we’ve been friends for ages,  and Mr. Williams.

Your youngest daughter came in asking you to play volleyball. You took her hand, and said “yeah. Yeah.  Let’s play volleyball.” Smiling you let her lead you away.

It’s such a ridiculous simple moment that never happened. Never will happen.  It took mere seconds for my mind to compose it. But it hit me with years of emotions, relationships, unfinished stories, good strange stories, days and days of my youth that are forgiven, released, wiped clean away.

And here you dare stand, in my dreams. Completely and rightly inaccessible in reality.

God help us all.  God help you most of all.

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Mess in my head

•May 4, 2019 • Leave a Comment

“No one can change where you are but you.”

Fair advice a friend gave me yesterday.  But did nothing to encourage me. I feel alone. Weary of trying to figure everything out on my own. No one but my cats in my corner. Nearly stuck after tremendous breakthrough moments this year. Like really I should just leave the loose and and unfinished visions here, pack up and start over.  I feel no closer to getting anywhere than I did ten years ago before deciding to go to art school.

A gloriously sunny day and I’m fighting ghosts and clouds. Chasing smoke. I’m not sinking. But I am not moving.

No divulging of these toxic weight thoughts seems to bring relief.  I all clogged up with it.

My dreams feel like flightless pathetic little things, scrambling frantic in the dust. The landscape of my once stout heart wilted.

How do you wash this residue off? What little step can I take today,  limping towards higher ground?

I crave a revitalization of all that’s meant to be, of the ingredients that are needed to forge ahead.  A deep clearing out of the muck.

Will anyone drink with me to that? Can anyone help? Who am I denying? How can a day feel like this when I’ve been so well tending the garden of my mind? How can clouds settle over my heart when it’s filled with southern winds?

Why even I’ve banished theses momentary sinkings so many times before as an exercise of freedom and health, could I not shake it today?

Cobalt light in red and green

•February 24, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Drank too much to sleep.  Too sober to be awake. Thinking of my cool friends in strange circles,  carving out cozy spaces in angles and sharp edges. Catching the warm glow of cobalt light.  I would trade all the cobalt light for them. Behind closed eyes the painting is green and red trying to get at what that blue feels like.

Like does the sun set and rise in a thunderstorm obscuring sky, covering the air in a midst that falls from low hanging thick clouds and rises from puddle soaked muddy grounds. Air so wet you wear it, floating in it as it clings to every inch.

Can I name you? Can I call you cobalt? Will you make this headache go away? Can you hold the visions behind closed eyes?

50 things I am grateful for today

•February 9, 2019 • Leave a Comment

In moving towards developing a deeper and richer community at church, our pastor challanged us this week to list 50 things we’re grateful for. It was a lovely exercise.

Here’s mine:

  1. Good true friends.
  2. Mentors.
  3. Coffee at the dining room table with my cats and sunshine
  4. Being encouraged in this season to grow more and more into my true self
  5. Sunitha believing in my artistic ability and identity
  6. Not one but two church homes I really care about, even in the tension of not knowing how to fully exist in both
  7. Having a job that I love, even though it is draining.
  8. Being trusted to take care of and invest in so many children, particularly Amadee and Prashanth
  9. Having really awesome friends from college and getting to hang out with them all this year at Corianne’s wedding.
  10. Being an artist, even if I don’t always believe that I am one.
  11. Music,good music
  12. Having a car that is almost halfway paid off.
  13. Being closer than I’ve been ever to being financially stable
  14. Still being single…I want more than most things to be married, in partnership with someone on that level. But I am coming more and more to value myself and have found it necessary to be single in this current season of deeper revelation of myself.
  15. Finding when I push through my feelings of loneliness and take risks to either deeply contemplate, or to engage with others, that I am not alone or unworthy of meaningful connection.
  16. For Eric- and is incredible insight and wisdom in connecting dots. His willingness to take me on in the midst of a full workload, and sift through my junk with me, helping me look from the mud pies to the beach.
  17. For Ruby loving Bella so much, even though I miss Bella more than I can explain and feel guilty for not missing taking her out a hundred times a day.
  18. For being a person specially designed to savor deeply, to cherish and value highly the senses and experiences through the sense.
  19. For being the oldest of my siblings, for being ordained and trusted with that piece of my identity.
  20. For having a soft heart, that breaks easily- compassion, empathy, sympathy, sensitivity.
  21. For those mainly Sunitha, Eric, and Alyssa who have given me permission to introvert or extrovert or just take small steps.
  22. For being led to stay in Chicago again, to move and grow and shake things up where I am, verses going somewhere and remaining much the same only in a new location.
  23. For all the guys who didn’t stick around to see whatever we had through. God bless them for letting me go, because they were heading where I’m heading, the depths are calling out to them, but I’m irrevocably in over my head.
  24. For God not settling for the status quo or anything normal with me.
  25. For God’s love constantly, gently beckoning me deeper into more of who I am and all He has for me.
  26. For God caring more than I do about the good gifts He longs to give me, for it not being up to me what I He deems important to bless me with.
  27. For being seen by others, not as I perceive others to see me, but in part at least how I truly am, or am meant to be.
  28. My cats, who while they don’t get along as well as I would hope, and are very much cats…so assholes half the time…I am their person, and they are mine, and I really love that.
  29. For not being as brought low by the winter light as I have in past seasons- for being in a healthy enough place the cloudy dark cold days don’t affect my well being .
  30. For the possibility that maybe just maybe I was never clinically depressed in a permanent medical way…but was grieving unhealthfully, taking on lies, and living under them. Beating dead horses and carrying around their carcasses, imbalanced and not taking care of my internal landscape well maybe although I was trying, but without being honest with myself. Defaulting to coping mechanisms.
  31. I am thankful that my honesty is increasing, least towards myself and how I see myself.
  32. I am grateful that it is written in the Catechism that I as a baptized Christian am part of the universal Church.
  33. I am grateful for the heart God is growing in me for His people- for one Bride- even if it’s groundbreaking, or pioneering, or unpopular, or uncomfortable…I am thankful He has invited me into seeing how He is moving to bring unity and wholeness into the Church, even if it’s small and subtle.
  34. I am thankful for the catholic priests I call friend- I am so deeply blessed by their kindness, friendship, prayers, and authenticity, for how easy they are to love.
  35. For my love for paper and pens, for just how awesome these simple tools are, and that I have so many.
  36. For my step mom Lori, who is so wonderfully affection and loving and kind. Who is really good for me and my siblings even though that relationship is still sometimes awkward.
  37. For boardgames. For how they draw people together and provide grown up play time…even if they aren’t my favorite because I’m too competitive. For having friends in my life who really like board games.
  38. In true reflection I am grateful for the mundane, ho-hum, hmm-hawing, slow angsty hard intense seasons or being bored or disappointed in myself and my life- er not for them specifically but for the way my spirit – or God’s spirit in me- rallied against these moments always pressing onward, deeper and upward and forward. For God patiently enduring with me when I don’t arise to the occasion, or my higher nature.
  39. I am grateful for my roommates, current, past, and future…who are always teaching me something more about being in deeper community, shared living spaces.
  40. I am grateful roommates make living in Chicago possible.
  41. I am thankful for Chicago, for being able to live in a big city, for living in a city that I’ve come to love and cherish and want to contend for.
  42. I am thankful for white washed walls and decent wood floors and lots of windows, for an apartment that is nicer than many others in this unit, and especially in this price range.
  43. I am so grateful for each one of my siblings.
  44. I am grateful for the way God has grown my trust in Him, particularly when it comes to love and and open but true heart in love.
  45. I am grateful that others particularly guys can see that I am fun, beautiful, sexy, funny, etc……even if I don’t like them romantically. Even if I don’t always feel those things.
  46. I am grateful for the moments I do feel radiant and sexy, funny and brilliant.
  47. I am thankful for the ways in which I struggle with self-worth or body-image issues, and the ways in which I don’t. Both make me more human, more empathetic. I have deep insecurities or things I’d like to change, I don’t like the way my body is showing signs of age, or that I will never again be the weight I was when I felt best physically, at the same time I love my body, and know I am beautiful. I really really love my green eyes.
  48. Stinky sharp cheese. And Bread. Whiskey, amber ales and stouts, good pizza, tacos, homemade chicken pot pie, spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna. Food, I really like good food and am so grateful when I get to share it with others.
  49. Books- all the books, reading and being highly literate, a childhood filled with books, nannying boys who love stories, story. And story being so important.
  50. I love the way it feels and moves and is. I love it’s possibilities and limits. I love the things people make out of it that pushes the envelope. I how it holds touch has a memory. I am grateful for the way it pushes back and is wild, I can’t control every little aspect of it the way I could a drawing or painting.

A crowning jewel…

•January 31, 2019 • Leave a Comment

In reflection upon today…mostly spent combatting my introversion causing grumpiness, because it was too cold to go out, and so everyone was here, roommates etc. all clamoring together against the coldest it’s been since 1966 in Chicago.

Yet my head and heart were far away, reaching for the not yet, the unknown, the coming…
I wanted most to be in Ireland. I wanted deeply to just be left alone with my papers and pencils and paints. I wanted to just be with my thoughts on everything. But I passed the day pleasantly enough with people I deeply love.

In reflection, I found myself thinking about my watercolors, their next stages, their finishing strokes, the ones from the past I’ve framed and given away, the ones I’ll make next.

I found my self imagining being interviewed standing in an art gallery with my drawings and paintings adorning the walls. It started ok, and then quickly turned to imaginary wedding vows. It went like this:

” Er, well, I don’t really consider myself a painter. If anything I’d like to think I’m an installation artist, at least that’s what I like doing best, transforming spaces. But ultimately I’m an artist, and like any artist of any medium, be it food, music, writing, or costume, whatever…I create because I must. You could almost say, making art is my better half. Only I don’t believe I’m half, I am whole, entirely whole. art is just the thing I must do, or else I’m only half living.

It’s in my abundance, my overflow that I found you. Complete and whole and abundantly so, that I finally met you in my existence. I do not complete you any more than you complete me. and yet, I am a daughter of Eve, I’ve been bound to desire you since the fall of man at the near beginning of time. But also like Eve, I’m a crowning jewel of all creation. Daughter of the first that completed the whole. You, however, are the crown, and I’ll adorn you unto the glory of the Kingdom of God. For I am not half, but a whole, and you being wholly your own unto God, in the gift of His goodness are shared with me and I with you.  Unto that, I vow myself. Unto pursuing God in my fullness with all of my strength, that I might always find you in the abundance.

It is said by some, that it is better to be single. to serve God more fully in your singleness that you ever could in being coupled and tethered to spouse and children. But before the fall of man, there was Adam and Eve, man and wife. In the ancient order of creation, marriage was established. And even though it is the curse of the woman too long for a man, to labor in childbirth, darkness attached to her very purpose and design, in Christ even this, especially this is redeemed. For Christ is the head of the church, and the church is His bride. ”

There is so much here, in this. This imaginary vow, this imaginary conversation. There are years of seeking theology, of teachings on prophets, priests, and kings, on creation. there are decades of relationships, of living with a romantic’s soul, longing. But single or not, an artist making art or not, one thing remains: I am complete and whole in Christ.

Therefore I must, I must be. I must be myself fully unto Christ. Even apart from Christ should I fall from grace, I’d do well to be fully myself and no one else, nothing else, nothing but the truest form of all that I am meant to be- ironically- this will always point me to Christ, to the Creator, the lover of my soul.  For I am His portion, and He is my prize. The moon and the tide, the wind and the air, the breath of my lungs, the very beating of my heart, God alone, my purpose, my existence.

Should I ever marry, he will not be my better half, my soulmate, the one who completes me. He will be a song of abundance, found in the overflow of my life in Christ. A picture of the proper order of things, a sacrament telling of Kingdom of God come and coming. A declaration of God’s love for His people. A brother, a servant king like his Father, a son of Adam, a light bearer. He will hold oceans of mystery and depths of love in the likeness of the One who made him. He will be clothed in righteousness, armored in holiness, walking in humbleness and valor- an ambassador of Christ.

Sound impossible? Yes. It is. It took the greatest sacrifice ever known to man to make way for such a people. Apart from Christ no version of myself exists to take on such an honor, such a journey, apart from Christ no man exists to accept the challenge of beholding me revealed. But abundance.

“And I will give you life abundant…” a covenant promise from Christ to us.

No small thing, and yet, not too much to ask.

Visions in multi story

•January 19, 2019 • Leave a Comment

My whole body aches with hard the residue of hard work, and the weight of only one piece of tire puzzle.

Like one flat note drawing out.

Watching a show playing Gaelic music. (Outlander episode the false bride.) Sitting at my dining room table, all while reading a book about a man who lived a story that went on living when he left this world. A story essentially about the gift and power of story. (The marvel’s by Brian selznick)

And a vision came just right here plain as day of me sitting on my foot one knee up like I often do, this sweet old table in another place, or least another time because it was daylight and raining…but it had to be another place, because there was a fire place with a warm blaze. But the warmth that reached me was that of the man sitting across from me, like he was hugging me.

Only worth writing down because it was vivid and tangible and only a second or just so long.

And it made me cry.

Cry with a homesickness for things I’ve never seen, places I’ve never been, people I’ve not yet met. It made me cry with the absurdity of taking in a vision like that-a waking lucid dreaming- where your senses fool you if only for a second.

It’s breathtakingly real, and then it’s gone.

And you cry, because it’s gone and you don’t even know what it was.

Was it just a dream? The wine, exhaustion, a headache I don’t feel yet? Was it something prophetic? Some whisper from Heaven: ” I know your deepest truest desires, I’ll tend to them my darling, I know you, I see you.” Was it food poisoning or fever? Just some dreaming with my eyes open?

Does it matter? Awake looking past my bed time because …just one more page… just a few more minutes of this story…

Some day I’ll be a crazy old lady, potentially mad with grief at the state of the world and sick with a broken heart from loving too much with too little … having lived a life that looked nothing like I imagined. But I’ll be happy as a clam lost so very lost in day dreams and stories upon stories. Drunk on stories as I sober my self with whiskey, and steady myself with the sunset and sun rise.

A Summit

•January 4, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I am sitting here desperate to get outside in the bizarrely warm winter sun, with an empty piece of paper waiting for my to-do list to form.

My mind is racing back and forth between the reflection of the last year and expectation for the year ahead, and I so desperately want to capture in writing the immensity of it all. Not sure the blank sheet of my to-do list allows for sitting her at my table basking in the sunlight with a second french press of coffee…Doubt I can summerize in any sensible form my last few months. Not sure I should even try in lieu of getting things done that will be easier done before the sun goes down.

But I am going to try.

I decided actively against New Year Resolutions this year. Because I always set out with good intentions and then never fill them the way or to the extent I want, and always beat myself up over it a year later when I haven’t traveled as far or covered as much internal ground as I would hope. So. No resolutions.

I do have a word for the year: savor.

I’ve never done “word of the year” before. It seems too small a thing, yet too much to hope for – that one word could direct growth and depth for a whole year. But savoring was an invitation handed to me months ago, and it fell in my lap again over the holidays with such a sweetness and simple profoundness, that I just had to say yes to it. To learning to savor more, relishing in being myself and living fully the life I’ve been given, the life I want.

How did I get to the word savor…
An identity crisis.

A few months ago I met with a branding expert/career coach. Eric had taught a session at a church-wide training event and we were following up to cover the material. He and his team have developed a new sort of Myers-Briggs personality classification, dealing primarily with job and career aspects of life.

In meeting with Eric, I was hoping to get a better understanding of some tools for learning about myself and others. I love pop-psychology and this was delightfully interesting. I was not expecting to set in motion anything that would change the course of my life, or come close. Maybe I would pro-bono get some tips on how to give my career some focus or direction.  But I got so much more.

God used Eric to wreak havoc on decades worth of nice neat tidy little boxes I’d been struggling to maintain just as long as I can remember. I haven’t fully processed this as much as I want, but my well being depends on accepting myself. Eric identified I’ve been pre-rejecting myself since I was a little girl, based on an idea I picked up around the age of 5 of what a good Christian is, or how to love God best.

You see, I’ve been artist since before I could talk in full sentences, playing with crayons or play-doh with such a sincere intensity I should have known decades ago this is what I am meant to do.  But at the tender age of five, I picked up an idea that would form my life for years to come.
I learned about Paul in chapel at school one day. He was taught to us as the first missionary. I decided then and there that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up, a missionary because that was how you best love God, that was what a good Christian looked like. Harmless. Maybe even noble, or good, some truth in it completely.
But, it caused a rip in my soul. Inflicted a small wound that I would spend the next 30 yrs give or take, fighting with.

While ever since being a pre-teen I have prided myself on being mature for my age, off-beat, unique, a bit of a rebel, not fitting in any of the cultural or societal boxes I was finding around me, I was desperately trying to fit into a box I had self-imposed.
It took me nine years to finish my college bachelor’s degree because it took the first six years after high school to accept I should study art, that majoring in missions wasn’t going to get me where I needed to go.

It has taken me three years since quitting my post-college campus ministry job to acknowledge that I didn’t fail in campus ministry, campus ministry just wasn’t a good fit for me.
It has taken me over five years since graduating from art school to acknowledge I need to make art, because I am an artist. Ironically a truth about myself I thought I settled in art school.

How’s that for one-hour meeting with a career/life coach? He describes himself as a dot-connector. Yes. sure. He sorta just blew the lid off my cover and pried into my depths and connected dots I’d been missing for years.

He did however for my sake after such an intense conversation circle back to the personality test and helped me see that I am a “reveler” and a “creative”. (mind you a creative does not necessarily mean artist, and an artist is not necessarily a creative as used here).
Reveler: Lover, sensualist, pursues pleasure and seeks to share it with others, experiential. Desires the good and to share the good with others, savors, cherishes, takes deep pleasure in delighting in.
Creative: Seeks to draw meaning out of chaos; imagines, expresses, challenges, inspires; strives for the fresh, the new, the novel, and the true and good.

I have long recognized in myself a desire to create good experiences for others that allow for exploration through multiple senses. I live in a constant fight to dwell in the meaning of chaos – the truth, life, abundance, and beauty despite the chaos and heartbreak of a fallen world. Yeah. Still took an expert to help me see these are driving forces in my life.

A few months after this pivotal conversation I was gifted and year-long devotional titled “Savor: living abundatly where you are, as you are”

So now I enter into 2019, and one of the fiercest battles for renewing the mind, and acting accordingly. A battle to change my self-talk, to accept a truer narrative, to function out of a redeemed and set free imagination, to cherish, relish and savor life versus the fighting and struggle of the past few years to make it all fit into a broken box.  To just be myself, accepting my self more fully than maybe I’ve ever done.

This means in a huge way, accepting my identity as an artist. and then turning and being an artist in a fuller capacity than I have allowed since school. Which is going to be hard hard work, as life is still life, and margins are still scarce, bills still must be paid, and if I don’t carve out, defend the time and space to make, diligently applying myself to make… then…then I am actively continuing in the pre-rejection I’ve recently identified- and continuing to partner with darkness in my captivity. If that makes sense. I’m fighting to live out the freedom I’ve claimed, that is rightfully mine as a daughter of the King.

All this…accepting all this, acknowledging all this means such deep and severe mercy of a 180 or 360 reorientation on the narrative I’ve fed myself for years.
Which feels, almost silly thinking about it. Like how can I just take one conversation, one deposit of truth, nevermind how it’s been confirmed since just change the tone of a lifetime of narrative.  And if I do….it changes everything…without really changing anything until I act accordingly.

The pieces I struggle to bring into the light shed on my personal story the last few months are my desire for living out my faith. I love Jesus, deeply, fiercely, most severely.
And I love Bible study, I love teaching and praying and making disciples and mentoring in the faith. I love nearly almost everything about “doing ministry”. I hate that I find myself in light of thinking about how to carve out studio hours from my schedule, how to launch an art business, how to just do the things I am supposed to be doing…scared. Scared silly. Not of failure. I don’t need riches or fame. I don’t need anyone to like my art. I really don’t- I think they should, because it’s lovely when I get around to making it. But I don’t need this. I need…I need Jesus. I need community. I need to love and to receive love. To have dinner parties where I can feed those I love, to laugh and play, and just be with others. To share and exchange ideas, to practice and test theology out to live out theology. To exist in an active living out of my faith. I hate in light of all this, of all I know about the sacred space I find in communion with God when I create art, so much so I’ve named it kinetic prayer, that I am fearful and doubtful in trusting God to show up and pour His love into me and out through me in all the venues of my life.

I don’t know how I will do it. I don’t know how to train up my time management skills to fit in everything I want, and all the things I need. Hours of reflection and pondering, hours alone in the studio making, hours and hours with people.

But I do know I’m setting out to savor. I will savor deeply the process of figuring it out. I will do more of the things I cherish most. I will trust God to make room in me and through me, through my obedient yeses to Him in each moment, day by day by day… step by step, that somehow I will be able to look back on this year, already full with good things on the calendar, already busy feeling…that I will be able to stand on it’s ending and say:
“Yes. That was a year of learning to savor, of being deeper acceptance of my true self, of becoming more loving, of doing more by being more, that was a mountaintop year.”

So here’s to the submitting, surrendering, accepting,  and summitting. Or the going down trying.