Monday, September 17, 2007

intentional balance.

I've just spent the past several hours reacquainting myself with my thesis. I started over this past spring, gained momentum, and then inadvertently abandoned it later in the summer. I let myself get consumed by painting and, despite thesis set-backs, I am thankful for the time and mental space away from my self-imposed boot camp. Even so, I am feeling like today has already been a waste. It has been so long since I've even looked at my thesis that I actually had to look for the neglected file folders. After considerable amounts of searching, I found it in a pile of papers. Should it surprise me that it was at the very bottom of the pile?

Last night I went to bed thinking: "Yes! Tomorrow I will sit down and write an entire essay!" But then I got up this morning, made coffee, sat down, and reality set in. I couldn't remember what I had already written! Ok...what I am realizing in this moment is that I need to cut myself some slack. So I spent half the day re-entering my writing. Isn't this in itself an accomplishment?

For no particular reason, I deserted my thesis when I reached the half-way mark. I started painting, took on more hours at the garden shop, and have been otherwise consumed by multiple web design projects. These are all good things and so I am not complaining. But I started to feel overwhelmed. One thing that I would really like to learn from my husband is how to focus. That is one thing (along with cooking) that he is really good at. Maybe it's just easier for men to focus. I could theorize on why this might be--but what's the point? All I know is that I want to learn how to focus on just one thing at a time and not let the rest pull me into a frozen state of inefficiency.

Today V. sent me an email with a link for weekend workshops that are put together by the Minnesota DNR. Not that I need any more hobbies, but one workshop that interests me in particular is archery. There's a photo of a woman shooting an arrow that especially caught my eye (see page 8). She is lean, strong, and perfectly focused. This image resonated with me on a very deep level and that is when I remembered that I have my mom's old bow sitting down in my basement collecting dust. Both my mother and grandmother were bow hunters. I used to go bow hunting with my dad when I was little--that is, until he shot a deer. As my dad leveled his bow and took aim, it was all my tender little animal heart could do not to scream to the deer: "Run! Run!" Even now I have no desire to hunt. Still, the sport of archery interests me greatly. I am, after all, a Sagittarius.

Last winter, while riding the bus home from the bookstore, I would always notice the bales of hay set out near Lake Calhoun that are used for archery practice. An old friend once gave me a long-bow for my birthday and I would think about this as I looked out the cold windows of the bus. The bow was old and warped and I never learned how to do anything with it, but still the desire was there.

Ok...but I'm getting off topic here, aren't I. Lack of focus? Maybe. But it feels like it has been so long since I last blogged (well, only a week) that I don't even know where to start.

So I will start by saying that I am pleased with myself for accomplishing a painting a day for the past month. I missed a few days, but over all I surpassed my own expectations. It was just the break I needed from myself and, for that, I am seriously grateful. In doing a painting a day I learned how to be healthily committed to something rather than simply beating myself over the head with it. I enjoyed it so much that I have decided to continue. Although I may not be able to keep up the pace of doing a painting every day, I will continue to paint on a regular basis.

As for archery...well, I work weekends and taking a workshop is just not possible at this time. But even better, I've decided that I will ask my mom and grandma for lessons. Learning archery from grandma? Good god, does it get any more kick ass than that?!

There is my thesis and work and the web site projects that are already on the table. There are the photoshop and design classes that I am hoping to take and the paintings that I am planning to continue with. There is dog training and family and cooking and cleaning. There are friendships to be maintained, letters to write, emails to return. There is so, so, so much going on all at once. How to accomplish all of this in the few short hours that I have each night after work?

I don't know...but I am finding that the more space I leave open for sacredness, the more space there is that opens up for a sense of accomplishment. Yesterday, while at work, a customer (also a new friend and neighbor) told me about the God Bowl that her and her kids fill with water each day. She said that the bowl itself represents our emptiness and that what we fill it up with each day is up to us. She fills the bowl with water each morning as a reminder to fill herself with God's love. I thought that it sounded like a beautiful ritual and so I told her about my own daily ritual of feeding the birds. Every day at work I take a handful of birdseed and place it in a container for the birds to find. This simple action is a reminder to myself of the ways in which I am capable being a positive vibration. It is my gift to the universe and reminds me of the ways that my energy affects the world around me.

Before this conversation I heard a quote on the radio that stuck with me. It went something like: "When humans are allowed to be humans, they start to transform."

And while I am very busy these days doing all the things that I am trying to do...there is also a more important kind of work going on at the same time. Sometimes I feel like an ocean when the current is going out--the waves come in, but even as this happens, the water is being pulled back out to sea. I suppose we are all a little bit like this. These days I am finding it more important than ever to live with more intention.

And so today I am seeking intentional balance. The best part is that coming here has helped me find it.
Thank you, friends.


Leah said...

ok, archery lessons from grandma? you have to do it. how many people can say that? :-)


Amber said...

"These days I am finding it more important than ever to live with more intention."----

You read my heart.


deirdre said...

So good to catch up with you. Archery has always intrigued me too - not for hunting (although I've tried that, won't ever do it again), but for the focus and practice of slowing the moment and the breath. Lessons from mother and grandmother - that's matralineal power for you.

Laura B. said...

I love this post, Jessie. I really like what you say about leaving more space for sacredness, which will then leave space for accomplishment. :)

gkgirl said...

the elusive search for balance,
i know it well.
i have been trying to make myself
an "organizer" that
is tailored to our lives,
but the more i work on it,
the less time i realize we have
for just "being"...
everything is relegated to
housework, homework, work/work,

but your post gives me hope
and inspiration.

(and so cool about the archery!)

bella said...

My sweet friend, you have always been a great source of inspiration for me. You've got your fingers in different creative pots and it's a pleasure to watch you take things a step further. What I've seen in your work, over the past few months especially, is a strong focus. It's all there and I'm sure if you're now determined to find a blanace, that you will. When I think of you, I always feel like nothing is impossible for you. You are all that and then some!! xo

Jane said...

sometimes I can't determine if my creativity is a curse or a blessing. For as long as I can remember, I get my hand in too many projects at once leaving so much unfinished. Lack of focus is something I understand. I'm always striving to find the balance though. In other areas of my life, I find myself procrastinating the things that need to get done. Living with intention is a good place to start.

tkg said...

I can bet that your grandmother would be absolutely THRILLED with the prospect of teaching you archery. What a special time that could be for you both....memories in the making.

Focus/Intention/Procrastination - amazing how tightly woven they are, isn't it? I find that I procrastinate on important tasks for two reasons, self-sabotage (god knows I'm terrified of actually succeeding at anything and yet afraid of failure does that work?!?) or somehow intuitively knowing that it isn't the right thing for me. Of course, I never realize any of this until WAY after the fact...

Melba said...

You are so interesting! I love your perspective and how your mind works.

We are truly traveling together. I feel it.
It all gets done, doesn't it? the stuff. and there is time. Time does expand when we allow it.
Oh how the allowing has been a challenge for me. But what a worthy challenge!

Such a comfort for me to call you friend!


laundrygirl said...

So good to hear what you are up to. You have done so much this year!

Maddie said...

I cant' get past that gorgeous
photo of the archer -
wow! so strong and graceful and
poetic and mythic!

Jessie - time is so difficult to
manage for artists - we are so
passionate for all things -
I am exactly in the same place as you -
and finally this morning had to
make a schedule blech! -
but it is more a committment -
to hours i have to teach for money-
and then writing and reading and
taking care of family etc -
and i have to be tender with myself
- i can't do it all -
so i try to leave one precious hour
(first thing in the morning)
to do whatever gust moves me)

I think you are amazing - looook
at your beautiful paintings

You are doing so much work and
such gorgeous work!

oh and feeding the birds -
i don't know why -
but now i want to buy a bird
house and feed birds too:)

hugs sweetie!

manik said...

which all bows you use? i love recurve bows

my website