Nearly 1 am and I've just finished a painting. Tight shoulders, heavy eyes, a mug full of "Tranquil Dream" tea sitting to my left. I kinda like working late at night, although my body does not agree. Upon leaving the studio, the first thing I do is look for coyotes standing in the shadows. I've yet to meet one eye to eye, but they are alive and well, living in the woods just beyond our house. I hear them often, but not so much since the deep snows came. Tonight, rather than coyotes, I was surprised a thick mist that filled the air above me, like a plume. It came from out of nowhere and, immidiately clung thickly to the branches and pine needles of the trees. In the two minutes that it takes me to walk from my studio to the house, it happened. Instantaneous.
I do not doubt that this strange night magic is the result of so much snow, another warm day and then a quick drop in temperature. Even so, explanations never seem to detract from the unexpected phenomenon of the night.
Lately, it seems that being outside at night is when my exterior environment feels most unexplored. In the process, my interior environment takes on a much desired newness. I feel a deep need to travel, but without the means or time to do so, I'm beginning to feel a bit cagey. At night though, everything feels different. It feels adventurous, a delicious sense of danger in the winter air and dark shadows. The crystalline edges of things, like the space around the stars, feels sharper. The crunch of snow is more audible, as though one can hear the breaking of each tiny crystal. Being outside in the cold stillness of night draws out another side of things--revealing unexpected beauties, little mysteries--the invisible is made visible. Air turns to ice. In the walk between studio and home, I feel my thoughts sneak out of my skull for just a moment... and it is refreshing.
I'm greeted at the door of the house by sleepy dogs, warmth and a hungry cat. In two minutes, worlds apart.
Last night I stood outside under an inky black sky and reveled at the cascade of glitter that hung above me from the branches of our old willow tree. I used to be a florist and remember the bunch of holiday artificials that we had in boxes--dipped in glitter, their long flexible branches were meant to simulate some semblance of a winter wonderland. I stood there feeling amazed that the world we live in really is made of such wonderment. That is, if we choose to see it, if we take time to notice it.
This morning when I woke up, those same branches out my window were covered in nearly an inch of glitter. Some strange barometric mystery took place during the night--something that caused our entire world to be coated in a thick coat of magic. Looking out over the frozen pond and beyond, I am a bit mesmerized by the layers of beauty in the snow globe that I just happen to live in.
Today my dog Louie and I have a photoshoot in downtown Minneapolis for an upcoming feature article. I'm excited and a bit nervous all at once. I have to bring my youngest dog, Ella, with also. Vinny is out out of town on a business trip and I won't have an assistant to help me with the handling of 2 young dogs, downtown parking, a five foot painting and a big easel. It sometimes amazes me how I constantly find myself just outside of my comfort zone. It's an interesting feeling. This sort of discomfort combined with such extreme morning beauty...strange alchemical combinations. Sometimes life feels sort of surreal.
At the moment, my world is unusually quiet. These past couple weeks I have done a lot of untangling in my life. I'm still untangling. Mostly in the form of clutter and financial paperwork. I found an incredible bookkeeper, Jessica Reagan Salzman of Heart Based Bookkeeping, who I am looking forward to venturing into 2010 with--both as an accountant and a money coach. I have been wishing to find someone like her for such a long time now. It goes to show that one should never give up on their wishes. Sometimes the right person, the right place, the right circumstances...it all takes time. In overcoming my fear of numbers and money, I've needed someone like Jessica to work alongside me. Someone who understands. Someone who gets it. Someone skilled at the fine art of weaving love and numbers.
Every day feels like a lesson in bravery. I wake up, unclench my teeth and begin again. Last night I went over to the studio late and drew out the canvases of three dogs: Sadie, Chloe and Scout. I haven't picked up my paint brushes since finishing my last commissioned portrait that was delivered for Christmas. The break has been wonderful and necessary. I've accomplished a lot in these last two weeks. But for the past couple days I've been feeling my heart reaching for color and paint and canvas. If I go for too long without painting I feel a strange ungrounding. The glitter in the trees gets too glittery and I find myself seeking the sunshine and solidness of my studio floors.
Today will be made up of camera lights, paperwork and paint--a fine combination, if you ask me. Solidly rooted under glittering trees. Today expands and grows.
I woke up this morning to snow and wind. A lovely combination, actually--especially when you have a nice big mug of coffee with cream. The wind is made even more enjoyable by the fact that we were about to run out of water again. Wind! I have grown to love it. Our water is gravity fed from a well, which we fill by turning on our incredibly out-dated windmill that stands at the top of the hill on the edge of the vineyard. It's quaint, actually. We just weren't aware of how problematic it would be. Or maybe this year the wind has just been exceptionally still. I don't know and I don't care. Mostly, I just love the way the wind makes those blades spin, causing the pump to respond in a miraculous up and down motion.
And with that little description I just need to take a moment and say: Wow, I've missed writing here. I know...I seem say that every time I finally sit down to blog. The the feeling is truly as satisfying as drawing water into a nearly dry well.
For the past 10 days I have been working diligently on bringing order, understanding and growth into my life. After we moved this summer, I got sick and then, before I knew it, nearly 6 months passed and I still hadn't unpacked my office! That in itself seems sort of crazy. I mean, how did my life get so freakishly busy? My business exploded. It has been incredible and yet...well, I was quickly running myself into the ground and the state of my office was driving me crazy.
After delivering my last commissioned painting for Christmas, I hit the much needed "pause" button in order to give my attention to a few behind-the-scenes necessities. Things like paper work and the state of my office, pricing and other works in progress. The change around me has been extraordinary. For the first time since moving, my office space actually feels calm. My cats love it so much, they won't leave and, often, I find myself surrounded by the soft sleeping breathing of my animal menagerie. It is a supremely comforting feeling. It grounds me. Even my collection of found rocks and old wooden crates (which I've converted into bookshelves) feels comforting. I thought I wouldn't be happy until I had new flooring and new cabinets and new this and perfect that. Turns out I was wrong. The things in this room hold warmth. They hold my history. They hold the pieces of me that bring me back to center. The sheepskin thrown across the seat of a chair, the rich silk textiles that I brought back home with me from India, my books, a wedding photo of Vinny and I, the soft glow of lamplight...yes, this feels like me. And it feels good.
Granted, this has been a huge process and I still have more ahead of me. Going through so many boxes and pile after pile of paperwork sort of made my brain feel like it was being dragged across a bed of nails. Now I've moved on to the thing that has given me more fear than anything else: financial paperwork. Wowzers. And it won't stop there.
All I can say is that it's happening. It's finally happening. I don't know what took me so long to finally work up the courage to take control of these aspects of my life, but I am relieved to finally be doing it--even if I have to nudge myself forward over and over again. I hear myself chanting to myself in the back of my head and am impressed by the level of support I give myself. For the most part my brain is acting like my very own guardian angel. Or maybe I really do have a spirit guide sending little whispers of support and motivation. Forward movement requires a bit of discipline and, yet, if there is one thing that the past two years has taught me it is discipline. Along with discipline, what I'm really learning now are the virtues of self-care.
Two years ago I began the Be Brave Project and started on a journey towards a life that I never in a million years dreamed of. These days I find myself in the midst of beginning this journey all over again. It's time to start taking risks again. Not just the little kind, but the sort that makes me feel a few butterflies; the kind that makes my face go a bit flush. Change requires risk-taking. You would think that it would be easier this time around. After all, I've proven to myself that I can make anything happen when I really want it. Oh, man(!)...but it is still so incredibly scary! Brave souls, we need to band together.
These days I am taking it one step at a time. Lots and lots of little steps. In an odd way, even taking time to blog is one of those little steps. This new beginning, it's a package deal. There is something for me on the other side of this--and I'm simply too curious to stop now.