Thursday, July 03, 2008

living from love.

I found this video on Olivia's blog and, despite Whitney Houston, I was a pile of bluthering tears before it was over! This is love. This is such true, real love. You can see it in each of their expressions, movements, touches, gestures--of both the lion and his people!

I'm posting this video here because it struck a chord in me. A deep chord. I can't really explain it, but this is what I feel when I paint dogs--this intensity of love. It is sometimes nearly enough to knock me over...or more like spill me over.

Nearly every day there is a massive number of things happening in my little world. Where should I even begin? I honestly don't know how to put words to my experiences and emotions. I wish I could explain myself better. I have never in my life moved through a time of such certainty and doubt all at once.

I am certain that this is what I should be doing right now. I am certain that I am creating from my very center and it is enough to pull me inside out and back again. I am certain that every single choice I've made and every circumstance I've ended up in has been leading me to this very place, in this exact moment in time. I am certain that to give up on this would leave me with only half a self. I am certain that I have never felt so absolutely surrounded by such deep love. It doesn't come from any specific individual or animal or just is. I am profoundly thankful for these certainties.

There has always been a part of me that has wished to invest more of myself in my life's Purpose. But I am certain that, right now, I am invested fully and completely in my Purpose. This is a staggering sensation. I feel like I am capable of even more--and sometimes I get glimpses of what that looks like. Interestingly, that "more" has nothing to do with me. That is, it has nothing to do with my ego. It has nothing to do with money. It has nothing to do with recognition or achievement or validation or any of it. It is an ever-so-brief vision and, in it, I am doing my truest work to make the world just a little bit better for even just a few beings that I meet along my path. For now, I feel like I am living my purpose to the best of my ability at this time. I am evolving. This, right here, is only as far as I've been able to manage. There's more (higher purpose) beyond this, but I'm just not there yet. And the only way I can get to that higher purpose is to continue living this strange journey.

Painting dogs is a massively unexpected bend in the path for me. I didn't expect the scenery of my life to look like this. My days are full of more energy and movement than I often know what to do with.

And yet I am struggling deeply with doubt.

I would explain that feeling of doubt a bit more...but each time I try, I end up deleting the words because they create a picture that doesn't quite fit. What is the difference between doubting yourself and doubting what you can make happen for yourself? This is the differentiation that I am struggling to explain. It doesn't have anything to do with my ability, but it has everything to do with my belief in whether or not I will be capable of making my hopes happen.

And so, these days, I am living on faith. I am living on love. I am living on sheer determination. If anyone is envious of the things that have happened for me over these past couple months I would just like to state that there is nothing to be jealous about because it has been incredibly F*@%ING hard!

Maybe I'm telling you this so that you won't give up on your own dream when the going gets tough. Maybe I'm telling you this because if you don't give up on your dream then I'm less likely to give up on mine.

I am starting to wonder how it is that I can have so many successes and still be struggling so hard to fulfill my basic needs, like paying the bills. Things will work out, they always do. But man, oh man...doubt is one tough cookie to deal with. This time it is not even my husband's doubt or my family's doubt or so-and-so's doubt...This doubt is mine--ALL mine. And self-doubt is the biggest bitch of all.

I'm not really sure what the point of this post is except maybe to remind myself that this struggle is worth it. Even if I lost all my earthly possessions, this would be worth it. But, dang, that is a scary line to walk.

When those guys released that lion into the wild, how did they know that he would survive? I can imagine how difficult it must have been for them to make that decision. But it was a decision that had to be made. I can imagine how much confusion the lion must have felt over being left in the African wilderness to fend for himself. I can imagine it because, these days, I feel a little bit like both the lion and the lion's people. I am them (the lion's people) living on some sort of risky strange faith, and the lion is what I'm capable of (he represents my fullest, highest, wildest potential).

This is my time for major and necessary change in my life. I am right smack dab in the middle of it. It is welcome, but frightening in its magnitude.

I often ask myself what, exactly, I would do if I knew I would succeed. What would my next step be? Without a doubt, my answer is always the same. Which is why, today, I have fallen in love with that lion and his friends.

What was the biggest risk you ever survived? Please tell me. Dear lion hearted friends, I want to hear your stories.



laundrygirl said...

I have so much to say on this!
But for now I will leave you with this quote -
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Amber said...

thank you so much for sharing the video. I also put it up on my blog. It was so touching...I don't know how anyone could watch it and not feel totally overwhelmed with emotion.

You seem to be walking the path that you are intended to be walking. Everyone has doubts...keep going...have faith in the divine....and faith in know yourself is an ongoing're doing great.

Connie said...

Dear Jessie,

You are an amazing woman. End of conversation. Period. The buck stops with you chica!

First, that video was too much--I'm still crying. I have eyeliner all over my face! I'm putting that baby on my blog too! So sweet.

Second, when I was reading your blog I noticed that you kept repeating the word "doubt". Replace the word "doubt" with "fear"--because that's what doubt really is. When you do might be surprise what hits you.

Instead of you doubt yourself--you might actually be fearing yourself, because new terrain is always scary. Fear is a powerful force, and it comes in many disguises...doubt being one of them.

Don't fear my friend--you have the greatest force behind you--love. You said it yourself--you have so much love around you--cause, woman, you are the love!!! (I'm starting to sound like a 1970's R&B song!).

The universe will provide for you. I'm sure of it.

Peace & Love.

megg said...

I packed a suitcase, took £300.00 and moved to England! And I survived! And I met my soul mate and wrote a book as a result -

BE BRAVE - someone wise said that once ;)

Leah said...

oh darlin, i so appreciate your pouring your heart out here. and i know just what you mean about struggling to find the right words for it.

i saw the video on olivia's blog too and it totally broke me open. i'm not even sure why either. the lion reminded me of my big orange cat tabbers and how happy he gets when we come home. but it also made me think of letting go, trust, and unconditional love. it makes my heart ache thinking about it.

self-doubt is a bitch. the only thing that has helped me with it in the past is to continuously center myself and breathe in that peaceful knowing. does that make any sense? i think fear is part of the journey. martha beck talks about it in "steering by starlight" and she suggests looking at your next move and seeing if it fills you with a sense of freedom or a sense of being trapped. if it's freedom you feel (and fear often accompanies the feeling of jumping off the diving board!) then go for it. like julia cameron says, "leap and the net will appear." and we just have to keep leaping and leaping and leaping.

you're doing beautifully. xoxo

Life After War said...

"If you see your path laid out in front of you--step one, step two, step three--you only know one thing, it is not your path. Your path is created in the moment of action. If you can see it laid out in front of you, you can be sure it is someone else's path. That is why you see it so clearly." --Joseph Campbell

"Dwelling from, not upon, the space you want to inherit, is the fastest way to change absolutely everything." --Mike Dooley

Thea Coughlin said...

I am such an emotional sniffling blob over here. Not sure if I can communicate clearly.

I am getting the clarity of staying on the path that feels best, not the seemingly easiest. I am starting to see myself reflected in my work more than ever before.

I am also scared as hell.

I am beside you on this faith thing.

I can say that the biggest risk I took was 1 1/2 after dropping out of high school and running off to live in the city with my friends. I decided that I made the wrong choice and decided to go back and finish an education.

I lived on the lower east side in manhatten in a scrappy apartment with my 3 friends, huge cockaroaches and mice. I had no contact with my mom or any parental figure.

I looked into getting my GED and signed up for a class at the high school in my spanish neighborhood. I went to classes and took my GED and passed. From there I took my SAT's and applied to college, got rejected, went to community college got good grades and then reapplied.

Anyway years later I graduated my masters program summa cum laude.

It was scary and hard but boy it was worth it.

Love you girl.

Annie said...

I have seen this video before and it ALWAYS makes me sob. It is so beautiful and the love is so clearly there. I seem to walking a path close to yours and have been struggling with the same issues for over 30 years. Things ALWAYS work out, never fear. I am not living my dream yet, not totally, you seem much closer to yours and at a much younger age. I picked up and moved, on my own without knowing anyone in this New Mexico town and I had no job lined up or any money saved. Yet, here I am ten years letter doing better than ever :-)
You do what the spirit moves you to do and everything will work out, I promise.

laundrygirl said...

I think my biggest risks were made without the knowledge that they were incredibly big leaps. I remember them feeling uncomfortable and they all had a feeling like “What am I doing? I must be out of my mind!” and yet in general, they were decisions that came with deciding to step forward despite the fear or possibility of falling on one’s face in failure.

When I was just months away from turning 21 I decided to move from SF to Sacramento. I’d never been to Sacramento and never lived away from home for that matter. I was going to community college and volunteering my time working with a youth group. I had a job at a pizza place. In general, I was depressed, kind of lost, and not really satisfied with life (to say the least). When I found out that my brother and his wife were moving and needed a babysitter for their toddler, I took them up on their offer to move with them, and within two short weeks I quit my job, left school and said goodbye to all of my friends, a guy I had a major crush on, and the kids in that youth group, packing up my stuff and moving to a strange city.

About 10 months later I was moving out of my brother’s house not knowing where I’d go. Again a big risk needed to be taken. I could move back home or strike out on my own, moving into the unknown. Scarily enough – I chose the adventure of the unknown. Within a month I found a job and place to live. Little did I know that in the next 4 years to follow I would move 9 times, work at 2 jobs, find myself working with high school drop outs from one of the roughest areas of Sacramento, meet a handful of friends who would become like a second family and meet the man who is now my husband.

Scarlett said...

Our society defines us -- it takes a huge amount of energy and belief in self to begin to define yourself differently!! I admire you for being one of those that makes that attempt -- don't doubt yourself -- be proud instead!! You have accomplished a great deal -- remember that!!!!

mistie said...

Jessie, you are so talented. And you already know that it is hard work. That is the hardest part. Knowing it is hard and doing it anyway - because you love it and you are good at it, and it makes you happy.

There is some weird concept in our society that you have to hate your job and never see your family and muddle through it all to the end. Or - the other side of it, that you've sold your soul somewhere to be where you are and to do what you can do. I love my job, but I don't hear many people say that.

As artists it is difficult for us to put a value on our creativity.

I sing joyously for you that you want something different than that. You know that life is better than that.

My husband and I got married and started a commercial photography business in the same year. In a small town where no one could imagine (including our families) that we would be successful. Two years later, we bought a run down building in the heart of our downtown. We were going to renivate and live up stairs and have the studio downstairs. The building is over 110 years old. No one had EVER lived in it. My mother cried when we took her through it and said "you're going to live here?"

It took us a year to gut it by ourselves. We lived with a hot plate, a microwave and a small 'fridge for 2 years while we saved the money (from the still successful photography business) to build it the way we wanted to. We lived there 10 years. Our son was born there.

We now own a home and use the building as a rental property, and after our son is grown we will move back there.

It was all worth it. And it was all hard work. And I would do it all again. (with a younger body)

Marie said... heartfelt & awestruck at this friendship. Thanks to you AND to Olivia...I wept with joy!

"If you don't give up on your dream, then I'm less likely to give up on mine." You are inspiring indeed.

I've skydived and bungee jumped and did many risk taking things in my life, but nothing compared to working on beginning my art (kindergarten like) and having it compared to amazing artists! My heart pounds and tears each and every time I had to produce and do something new in a world of people who have been doing at all their lives...and they think I SHOULD know because I'm an old lady to them...why don't I know? So, yes, it's hard!!!!!! Thanks for being BRAVE...