A Blank Canvas

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This past fall, I went out to a group painting event by myself. It was a lot of fun, but at the end of the time, in my last touch up stroke, I added too much water and a single drop, ran down the entire canvas. It took off the paint and I wasn’t able to fix it. I realized how significant that was for me at the time. I had just gone through a breakup and was in the process of simply accepting myself and my life exactly as it is. So I did the same for this painting. I smiled for the picture while proudly holding my painting. I even hung it up in my room for display to say “I did this. It may not be perfect, but it came from me and I’m proud of painting it.” This was exactly the point.

This year, so far has been about letting go. Letting go of being perfect, letting go of control, letting go of my past hurts or guilt and those relationships lost, and as I mentioned in my last post, letting go of who I think I’m supposed to be. This past Sunday, in church, a guest speaker was again touching this on this subject of letting go, but in a new light. She described a U shape. How one end is the letting go end and then you have the middle that is flat, and the other side of the U is for allowing good things to come to you or flow through you (however you want to look at it). I really liked this analogy. She said that after the letting go and before the coming in you have the middle, which is like a clean slate or a blank canvas. This thought almost brought me to tears. So I decided to look inward to explain why it evoked so much emotion. I knew it must have been the words I needed to hear. In life, it is often the case where you cannot go back, you can only move forward. That has always been a tough concept for me. For example, the times when you say things you didn’t really mean or didn’t say things you wanted to say or things you wish you had or had not done. This is why letting go is a huge process for me that I am currently tackling in more than one way.

In fact, two weekends ago, I started a really big project. I have moved four times in the last four years. During this time, I have moved many boxes with me, without really going through anything. So I decided that part of letting go, also needed to be done in the physical world, as well as mentally. I want to let go of my garbage: all those assignments and papers I did in school, the receipts I thought I needed to hang on to, the love letters from my past relationships, the work forms I saved for taxes that are over 7 years old, etc. I knew it was going to be time consuming and even emotional. It had become really bad. I had boxes and boxes of papers and folders and well…junk. It was time to get rid of my junk. Besides recycling or shredding the papers, I donated four giant garbage bags full of items that were just miscellaneous or I did not have a purpose for. I was downstairs for three hours Friday night, three hours on Saturday evening, and about an hour on Sunday. I’m still not done. I have a few more totes to go through until my clutter is gone. One of the hardest ones, I am saving until last. It is photo albums and pictures of my “serious relationship” six years ago. I never look at it, I just didn’t have the heart to get rid of it and the love letters that accompanied them. My ex wrote me letters, gave me cards, and even left little notes in my lunch. I’ve never had anyone show their love for me in that way before. I felt really spoiled. I think I have been holding on to that standard though, expecting the same treatment from others, and being disappointed when it doesn’t happen. I guess I’m afraid that no one will love me like that again or that much. But I have to let go of those expectations and begin again with an open mind, a blank canvas. Once, I let go of this, of what I think I want, I believe the right person will come and be exactly what I need. Isn’t that the case for most things? We have this image in our minds of our perfect job, our perfect partner, our perfect house, and our perfect kids…but how realistic is that? Life doesn’t always go according to our plan and I believe it is important to be open-minded. It is okay to have desires and even standards, but one must be flexible as well and be open to what could be. Sometimes, we don’t even realize that what we want isn’t the same as what is best for us in the moment. So I begin again with a blank canvas, ready to be painted.

I think we can relate this analogy to many things in our life. How amazing is it to think that you can start a new painting, start a new life, start a new thought, and let go of the past and old thinking. This is such a scary, yet exhilarating thing for me. I am already feeling lighter in my life, my mind, and my basement, of course. What in your life, do you not need? What is it that no longer serves you? Is there some aspect that you would like in your life to begin again with a clean canvas, so you can paint whatever picture you want and allow the things that you choose into your life, without all the clutter? De-clutter, renew, and be thankful. I think that is the art of starting over. During the clean canvas time period, it is so important to just be grateful and really appreciate the moment of how amazing it is, to be able to let go of all the “garbage”, so you can let more of the good come into your life.

 

 

 

Visioning 2016

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This year, I am not making any “New Year Resolutions”. Instead, I am adopting the practice of visioning. I had heard of visualization, but I had not tried visioning. I was able to experience this first-hand, when I attended a 2016 Visioning Workshop held at my church (Unity Minneapolis), this past Sunday. We were all asked to write down a series of questions and then individually, go within, to find the answer for each of these questions. The main speaker emphasized that we may come up with a word, a phrase, or maybe even just a feeling, but to just write it down and not question it. That was my favorite part of this exercise; to just let it come out and not worry about what it means or try to make sense of it. It was a relief not to sit there and analyze or judge what I wrote, since this is typically what I do on a regular basis. I meditated on each question and when an answer came to me, I wrote it down. I did not expect it to be that simple, but when you silence your thoughts and just listen, answers do come. This practice of visioning was teaching me to trust my own intuition, as well as God / Universe.

My 2016 Vision Statement that resulted from this visioning exercise, was actually inspired by a book I just read (though I wish I could take the credit) by Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection. I did not realize it at the time, but my subconscious must have remembered it. All of my six questions and answers regarding my vision for the year ended up becoming this very same statement:

“To give up who I think I ought to be and embrace who I am.”

I was then asked to follow up this vision statement for the year with statements about how I will do this or what it will look like. This resulted in me writing my own affirmations. How cool! I did not know going into the workshop that this would be the result. I thought my vision statement would be more along the lines of: “Play more live music gigs” or “Figure out my career goals” or “Meet the love of my life” or “Buy a house”. Instead, I am letting go of everything I was told or think I am supposed to be. I am not focusing on things to do or accomplish, but rather allowing myself to “just be”.

Looking back, one of the most profound things I wrote, that really struck a chord, was the answer to question number 5: “What must you give up to accomplish your vision for 2016?”. I started writing down words like hurt, fear, anger, etc. and then I wrote down the word control. I had to hold back tears. I was mostly shocked that I wrote it, but also filled with intense emotion. You see, when we try to do everything ourselves and do not trust God or the Universe, we are still trying to have complete control. The truth is, we do not have control. When we try to have control over circumstances,  events, or other people, life becomes rigid and frustrating. I don’t want to live my life that way. I don’t want to have control over other people or circumstances. I am finally ready to let go.

When I wrote my affirmations, I actually walked out of the room the workshop was being held in and found my own space to write. For me this became a very personal task and it required the right environment, which was a quiet one with no one else but me and no distractions. I moved three times, due to noise and other classes being held at the church. I finally found my spot, when I discovered the church’s meditation room. It had was quiet and peaceful, with a very spiritually healing energy to it. I wrote a few things, meditated, then wrote some more. We were given 25 minutes, so I had time to really dig in. After I was done, I read what I wrote and sat there in disbelief. I was writing down how it would look and what I needed to do, “To let go of who I think I ought to be and embrace who I am.”

I returned to the class and when asked if anyone wanted to share, I volunteered. Still a little bewildered, I explained how I had found the meditation room and began to write what my vision would look like. Tears began streaming down my cheeks as I said “I looked at my list and my vision for 2016 and I couldn’t believe it! But I realized that I am already doing these things or at least working on them! I’M ON THE PATH!” I have felt this heavy burden, as though this past year, I was just treading water, trying to stay afloat. I never stopped to realize that I was in a boat, rowing, and I was on my way. If I had chosen to let go, instead of battling through everything, I would have realized that everything was in place. Everything I need, is already there.

It is the beginning of the new year, and I’m on the path! I never thought it would be so satisfying to feel like this. I didn’t discover that “I’ve arrived”, only that I’m doing what I need to be doing. I’m right where I need to be. That was such a relief, because I feel like I’m always doing so much, just to find that I am way off base. In most of my relationships, I often end up taking the blame as though I am the only one who needs to change. I often feel like I am getting it wrong, just to learn yet another lesson that life has to teach me. What an awful way to live and feel! But that’s just it…I don’t have to feel that way! I can let go!

So maybe I don’t know what I want to do for a career, and I don’t have a life partner, or own a house, etc. But, are all of those things really going to make me happy anyway? If I am on the path to loving myself unconditionally and I am on the path of letting go of control and I am on the path to learning how to have faith that everything is exactly as it should be, then I believe my vision will lead me to something far greater than any “thing” could provide; inner peace. How exciting! I know, I am not there yet. But I’m on the path. I just can’t stop saying it!

It doesn’t end there, though. Like anything else, visioning is a daily practice. I have decided to take 5 minutes, out of every day, to read my 2016 Vision Statement and my personal affirmations, that accompany my vision. I encourage you, not to make new year’s resolutions that will cease within the first two weeks of January, but instead to create a vision for your year that will last a lifetime. Really sit and listen, meditate, and ask yourself what that would look like. How would you get there? What word would describe the theme of 2016? What would you need to give up to achieve this vision? What would you need to embrace?

Just by creating a 2016 vision, I already feel free from control and burden and relief just from knowing, I am on the path. I hope you will too. I don’t believe that I am alone with this message, that is why I wanted to share it. I believe we are all on the path, but until we take a moment to stop and listen, we will never know what is available to us, right now.

Let’s make 2016 a year to let go and have faith in what is. How else will we know, what could be?