Friday, October 17, 2008


Evolving. This seems to have become one of my favorite words lately. I notice myself saying and writing it often.

I returned home from my painting retreat late Tuesday night and have been aching to sit down with my dear ol' blog for days now. I've decided to carry on a habit I enjoyed during my time away. Every morning I got up, made coffee, and gave myself as much time as I wanted with my journal. I didn't get anxious about how much time I was "wasting" because I knew I had the entire day stretching out ahead of me for only one thing: painting. It felt good to start my day like that and, while every-day-life is not quite as simplistic, it is a habit that I would like to continue with this slow and introspective start to my least while I'm still wise enough to do so.

This is one of the windows that I looked out of every day while up north. It is positioned above a big, beautiful work bench in my mom's woodworking studio, 10 miles from town and a million miles from anywhere. It rained the entire time. That is, until the day it was time to go home. Never mind that it rained. It caused me to get a lot done. In order to outwit the humid weather, I painted like I read books: several at a time. I started 7 paintings and nearly completed 2--all while listening to the steady hush and rhythm of raindrops and occasional rumbles of October thunder. My old wolfie, Anu, stayed always at my side. She is my heart and we both enjoyed our time alone together immensely.

I move through most of my days work-work-working, feeling like there could never possibly be enough of me. I feel inspired on a regular basis, but I am also well aware of how dangerously thin it sometimes stretches me. But this retreat...oh man. I got an incredible amount of work done and at the same time I found myself feeling healed and renewed. I am committing to going on a retreat like this on a quarterly basis--or a minimum of 3 times a year. I urge all of you to do this. I don't care how busy you think you are. I don't care if you're a mom or an astronaut or a grad student or the president of a company or country. You can get a lot done while away...and chances are you will be a lot more efficient when you return. I feel silly for how easy this is to forget, but let's face it: evolution can sometimes be a very slow process.

Once returning home, I was met with a flurry of activity in returning emails and phone calls. Then I stumbled over a bit of mental anguish in the process of preparing for a presentation that I was asked to give at a Minneapolis pet industry business association meeting about my work. My retreat induced Zen-like bliss momentarily flew out the window. I made notes about everything I wanted to talk about, but then, about 2 seconds into my talk, abandoned them when I quickly realized that I was better off simply speaking from the heart. That is, after all, where I would like the source of my endeavors to originate from. OK, I admit it: I was a nervous wreck. That is, until I got going. Afterwards, I was thanked by several people for giving such an inspiring talk. One woman even said I had brought tears to her eyes! This was a very high compliment, indeed. Is it bad that I like making people cry? :)-

I spent the rest of the day trying hard not to over-analyze my presentation and, instead, made apple pie--the apples, from my grandma's tree up north. I breathed in the warm smells of honey and cinnamon and even saved several of the seeds to see if I might be able to get them to grow.

When my grandma gave me the apples she told me about the large buck she had seen eating beneath the tree just that morning. The sun was rising as he happily ate the fallen apples. I thought some more about what it means to be evolving. I want to evolve like an apple tree: from seed...inspiration to gift to inspiration to gift...
I don't want to evolve into the store-bought variety. I prefer a life that is wild, tart, and delicious. I prefer something unexpected. Every year my grandma's apples reflect the weather they grew in. I always feel an element of uncertainty when making a pie from her wild northern apples--and yet their flavor is exquisite every time.

This morning I am burning a Thai Lemongrass scented candle that was gifted to me by a friend. The smell is refreshing, a little sharp, and catches my senses off guard. I have an orange shawl wrapped around my shoulders to separate myself from the morning chill. I have lots of dog legs criss-crossing over my slippered feet and a cup of coffee at my side. I didn't miss this house, but it feels good to be home.

"I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit."

~by Dawna Markova (I Will Not Die an Unlived Life)

The view of the lake on the morning of my departure.
As luck would have it, I woke up to blue skies and sun!



bella said...

Reading about your experience just now reminded me of a promise I made to myself ~ to take care of me, to get myself in back into good order ~
Retreating is good for the soul. How good are you still feeling?? xo

Jessie said...

Bella, I am feeling wonderful. I noticed a lot of things about myself while away--a lot of things that, if I honor, I can use to my advantage (such as taking time to write in my journal or condensing all my emails into an hour block of time or...)

Yes, I feel replenished and refreshed. And I'm feeling lots of gratitude that I have a place I can retreat to. Now the tricky part will be to maintain this feeling for as long as possible. ;)

here's to being kind to ourselves.

Sharon said...

Jessie, your writing simply blows me away... I'm glad you had a refreshing and renewing time. Keep the feeling always!

Samosas for One said...

I wish sometimes even though we only know one another in blogland that you lived in NY cause when I read your entries I feel like you're speaking for me.

kj said...

awwwwh, jessie, i love your words here, but i love your two evolving paintings even more...


megg said...

As always, you leave me feeling inspired and wild and raring to go! I have a funny story to tell you about the book I want to write about APPLES!

Here is a quote about apples (and life of course) that I LOVE:

"It is rare that the summer lets an apple go without streaking or spotting it on some part of its sphere. It will have some red stains, commemorating the mornings and evenings it has witnessed; some dark and rusty blotches, in memory of the clouds and foggy, mildewy days that have passed over it; and a spacious field of green reflecting the general face of Nature - green even as the fields; or a yellow ground, which implies a milder flavor - yellow as the harvest or russet as the hills."
- Henry David Thoreau

I've missed you - I think today is a good day to write a big fat letter!


Melba said...

This post is sooo beautiful. I got chills...good chills reading it. I want to take a retreat. You are right it is important. Maybe that will be one of my goals in travel somewhere alone.
I wish we could be drinking strong coffee and eating apple pie together!
I would love to chat this week.
It has been too long.
Love you & think of you daily!

laundrygirl said...

I love everything about this post - especially the paintings in progress. I really appreciate you. Gosh, it is so good to hear that life is so fulfilling and incredible for you as you chase after not only your dreams, but that which you were created to do. I find it to be an inspiring nod to carry on and keep going.

Kikipotamus said...

WOW. That's how I feel too after reading this post...blown away. I feel dead inside these past I am living an unlived life. I guess it's a natural cycle, like any. I come here to your blog and take away a sense of hope that things will turn again one day soon toward energy and creativity and small joys.

PS It is heartbreaking not to be able to adopt all the dogs waiting for families. I pass by puppy mills and just want to scream.

Amber said...

"I don't want to evolve into the store-bought variety. I prefer a life that is wild, tart, and delicious. I prefer something unexpected. "--

LOOve it.

And that poem. Thank you.


Constance said...

As a new blogger-- an artist with a gallery-- thank you for the inspiration you have shared...
and the positive loving way you present your thoughts.

Tomorrow, we are going to a Golden Retriever Rescue picnic to share our new baby-- ZACK (he saved us 8 months ago)... your doggie love notes brought a tear to my eye.

Wonderful paintings-- I have done a few and understand about the falling in love with every wisker and tuft of fur.

You gave me a boost!