Art as Life: Tear a Page. Turn a Corner.

Inspiritus at Lourdes Mixed Media Art by Bernadette Rose Smith Ever find yourself heading in a particular direction only to hit so many speed bumps, detours, or cul-de-sacs along the way that you start to question whether you should proceed? Maybe you can recall more than one “where is that road again” trip. Perhaps you are in the middle of one right now. Or, maybe there is one right around the corner waiting for you. (You do know you are not reading this by chance, right?) Well, get comfy. While you ponder that, I will tell you a short story about Inspiritus. Why? Because, whatever your journey, it is a story that points to a moment we share – that moment when we hear the whispers and feel the breath of the Divine moving through us. Inspiritus Mixed Media Art by Bernadette Rose Smith Inspiritus Breath Mixed Media Art by Bernadette Rose Smith I was not in the neighborhood for inspiritus. I was aiming for a project that I hoped would address a livelihood concern. Inspiritus – the altered book pictured throughout this post – was a spirited calling on the carpet. It started with a phrase that kept popping up in my journal and my thoughts. Like a song verse you can’t shake. “The words are the leaves. The deeds are the fruits.” A polite way for the Divine to say, “Talk is cheap. Show me.” Inspiritus Altered Book Cover by Bernadette Rose Smith It was generously reinforced with one dead end after another in my livelihood venture. I have acquired enough wisdom to know when to stop and listen. (You know, that point where you start seeing stars from hitting that brick wall one too many times?) That’s when this poetic collaboration hopped onto a page in my journal one morning, starting with the verse:
So much happens before a leaf is born and from your pages a word is torn...
Inspiritus Altered Book Love by Bernadette Rose Smith “What a delightful thump on the head,” I thought. And with that invitation came the rest.
root upon root. ring upon ring. matters hidden until, in spring, from root to trunk to limb to branch a leaf is born, adorned to dance in sun and breeze and cloud and storm until its partner bud is born. coaxed to blossom. blossom to fruit. how will you harvest what came to root?
Inspiritus Altered Book by Bernadette Rose Smith My life flashed before my eyes. Okay, maybe not that dramatic but pretty dang close. Lets just say, in the following weeks, the writer-me burned through a lot of pages on the topic of compromises, adaptations, justifications, rescues, distractions, and all manner of negotiation devices used to make peace with myself when confronted with the needs and concerns of others always coming first. Whether for lack of courage or just plain fatigue, my frail manipulative attempts to wrestle a corner of time to follow my passions and use the divine seeds given me met with delay upon delay, year after year. From brunette to my now “platinum blond.” Inspiritus Altered Book Contemplation by Bernadette Rose Smith Somewhere in all that writing reverie, the artist-me stepped up. She’d had it. “Enough already! I got this. Let me show you without all the words. The big annual art show is coming up in 7 weeks. You love altered books so make one. Give this poem a home and then send it on its journey. All of your adult life you have set me aside for more concerns than I can count. I am tired of living in the shadows cast by others and your livelihood-concerned, placating-all-others self. There is no one looking over your shoulder but you now. So what’s your excuse? When will there ever be the perfect time? How will I ever trust you? Talk is cheap. Show me you love me. Lets plant some seeds.” Inspiritus Altered Book Seeds by Bernadette Rose Smith Inspiritus Altered Book Mixed Media Seed Spread by Bernadette Rose Smith Well just ouch me! Enough of my story. Now I am going to ask you to think about yours and invite you to answer some questions. Inspiritus Altered Book Mixed Media Matchbook Drawers by Bernadette Rose Smith Leaves eventually give way to harvest a new experience. What seeds are you planting in their compost? Are they ones you came in with? Or ones others have handed to you along the way? The thing about the seeds accepted from others is that, at first, they seem easy because they come with instructions. But look carefully. Those seeds are often attached to strings and expectations that lead to resentments and guilt if not planted to the satisfaction of the original seed bearer. They can land you in tending a field that will not sustain you or the seed bearer. (Funny about that, eh?) Inspiritus Altered Book Mixed Media Ladder Spread by Bernadette Rose Smith The thing about the seeds we come in with is that they don’t often come with instructions. We have to do a little investigating to find the proper climate, soil, nutrients, as well as healthy partner crops with which to plant them. We have to be aware. Watch the weather patterns. Be attentive to pests and weeds. But the seeds we came in with will sustain us and place us in fields that will also sustain others. Inspiritus Altered Book Mixed Media Harvest Spread by Bernadette Rose Smith What’s in your seed pouch? Do you know? Have you checked lately? Now is the time to dig deep. When your seed-planting time on this earth is done and you are standing in front of the Master Farmer, will your pouch be empty? Or still full? Inspiritus Mixed Media Altered Book Hidden Matters by Bernadette Rose Smith The blogger-me says, “Thanks for the visit and share any seed thoughts you wish to cast for others to harvest!" The writer-me says, “Let my words be the leaves that your deeds may bear fruit.” The artist-me says, “Look at the pictures. They will nourish your soul.” Musings from the Messy Room Subscribe Photo If you like this post, then please LIKE and SHARE because together we PLANT a better world! And be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my Messy Room for more musings and inspirations to come!  

Down and Dirty: Recovering a Sense of Possibility While Under the Influence of Gravity.

Visual journal, mixed-media page inspired by the poem Feet of Clay posted on the blog, Bernadette's Musings from the Messy Room.

Feet of Clay While her dance on earth bid her stay, she came to love her feet of clay. Though they crumbled and caved in life’s tidal wave of unknowing, she learned to reshape them and fire them with the glowing golden embers within her heart, the place that remembered where she got her start on wings of angels delivered to birth, royalty not subject to the mirth of fault-finders with cast iron feet bound to the earth, impenetrable and too deep to leap for the stars and catch fireflies in jars on hot summer nights when naked feet find delight in the dance that bid her stay while she came to love her feet of clay.

Bernadette Rose Smith

  Feet of clay is an expression we use that points to character flaws found in our humanness. You know. Those times when we are so good we must be found bad. Or so bad we are good enough to raise the eyebrows of those mirthful faultfinders around us. (Inner critics included.) Lets face it. Whether a Hollywood starlet caught in a nose-picking event by paparazzi or the King of Babylon exposed in a dream by prophet Daniel or somewhere in between like the rest of us, having feet of clay ranks low on the bucket list of “I wants” or things to be celebrated. We try to rise above them with store bought miracle grow wings that promise to elevate our consciousness. Or we hop on brooms with “swoop and sweep” features that offer to deflect or hide our questionable character. Or we travel the earthbound distraction route, clicking the heels of our sparkly ruby slippers on the latest offering of a freshly painted yellow brick road in a search for more brains, more heart and more courage ... to what? Escape them? Well, how ‘bout we embrace them?

Don’t wait for clay feet to kick you in the pants on your way out!

Visual journal, mixed-media close up of art inspired by Feet Of Clay poem in Bernadette's Musings from the Messy Room. The first two lines of Feet of Clay haunted me for days – like a mantra by Dr. Seuss – encouraging me to follow the impulses to its completion and start the visual journal page seen here. All during a creativity challenge I agreed to host for The Mused Community – a group on Facebook of which I am a grateful member. This particular challenge wove together chapter 5 from The Artist’s Way – Recovering a Sense of Possibility – and the earth energy medicine found in the dragonfly’s dance from its originating form as dragon. Lively discussion topics about virtue traps, not limiting God and finding the source of the stories we tell pointed to an evolving sense of possibility and recovery for embracing our feet of clay. For years, I tried to rise above mine. My sense of possibility anchored in a belief that I could learn how to be happy and feel safe here only by sustaining flight; lighting down occasionally to share the sights I’d seen from above. (Muses and creatives tend to do this but lack of oxygen in higher realms can make us fuzzy in remembering how to plant our visions here.) Visual journal, mixed-media page completed for Feet Of Clay poem posted on Bernadette's Musings from the Messy Room blog.

After multiple attempts and crashes, here is my basic guide to arriving – and thriving with clay feet.

1. Be the first in line to embrace your mess. (Love yourself.) 2. Get there before the mirth slayers. (Be not afraid.) 3. Perfection is found in imperfection. (So relax.) 4. Strength is found in vulnerability. (So relax some more.) 5. If you claim your feet of clay you won’t miss a leap to live – really live as you. Not someone else’s idea of you. (Be authentic.) 6. Whether you are stomping in the mud or re-firing in the glow of your heart, the edits and rewrites are yours. (So play.)  
“No one can awaken from a dream the world is dreaming for him.” A Course in Miracles (text, P. 541)

Visual journal, mixed-media page of art inspired by the Feet Of Clay poem on Bernadette's Musings from the Messy Room blog

Don’t be a stand-in in someone else’s dream. While this dance on earth bids you stay, learn to love your feet of clay. It starts with you. That’s all I’ll say.

Claim your feet of clay here!

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Writing Under Fire The Artist’s Way

Shameful Stories

Writing Under Fire

Writing under fire saves lives when desperation overflows pretty journals and sends pen in hand drawer-diving for a comp book or some lone sheet of loose-leaf paper.

Even toilet paper writes well at midnight with its multi-tasking talent for anger venting, tear catching, nose blowing, remorse flushing purges.

Dear God letters. Fill-in-the-blank-you-asshole letters. Therapy work. Gasping for breath and rhythm work. Dream logs. Synchronicity logs. Gratitude logs. Spirit dialogs. Ego dialogs. Alternate routes through heart and mind traffic jams.

When angst hits the wall grab a pen. Hit the page. Save a life. Make it yours.

Bernadette Rose Smith

 

Wish to amp up your life with creativity and delight in Divine Coincidence? Here's 3 things to try. (Hey, they work for me!)

 

Thing 1: Morning Pages.

In the fall of ’93, my then-husband-now-friend gave me a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Struggling with a loss of career direction, artist’s block and mild depression I couldn’t shake, I committed to reading the book and writing the morning pages that Julia prescribed. Some might call it irony. I call it synchronicity – amplified by a Divine Purpose. Then-husband-now-friend gifted me with a book that introduced me to a process of writing my way through pretty much anything. Then he left and gifted me with an opportunity to practice that process in a way that I never could have imagined! What are morning pages? In Julia’s words, “… three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness: ‘Oh, god, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get my laundry yesterday? Blah, blah, blah …’ They might also, more ingloriously, be called brain drain, since that is one of their main functions.” She also says, “There is no wrong way to do morning pages … (they) are not meant to be art. Or even writing … not supposed to sound smart … nobody is allowed to read (them) except you … Just write three pages … ” Why write them? Julia jokes, “To get to the other side” but is quick to point to their power when she says they get us to “the other side of our fear, of our negativity…” She identifies a voice she calls the censor. (What I frequently refer to as ego in Bernadette’s Pages.) Writing three pages of chaotic, mundane babble miraculously clears the static that interferes with my ability to quiet my mind and consciously connect. Like a child allowed to run off a sugar high after a birthday party, my ego often settles down by the time I get to page three – after which I find I can be still and receptive to insights that often change my life.  

Thing 2. (Maybe 3.) Writing With Your Other Hand.

Years ago, a friend introduced me to the power of using my non-dominant hand to tap into the wisdom of the right brain. She guided me through a series of dialogs during which the right hand (my dominant) wrote out the question with a pen and the left hand (my non-dominant) answered with a crayon. The left hand blurts were surprisingly direct and wise. The process captured my attention but did not go beyond a few sessions. This powerful tool reemerged as a lifeline after then-husband-now-friend’s departure and is still something I do in my morning page time. You don’t have to understand how the right brain works to experience its effect. Creative or not, we all intuitively dip into it on an unconscious level. But, if you want to harness its power more consciously, I suggest you read Lucia Capacchione’s, The Power of Your Other Hand as well as the classic, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. These books direct you to a whole new way of seeing and experiencing the world.  

Thing 3: (Maybe 2.) Scribing Spirit.

Scribing – referred to as “Spirit Dialog” in B’s Pages – was not entirely new to me when I started doing morning pages. I’d had a few ‘scribing outbreaks’ in previous years––outbreaks that I attributed to twelve-step recovery work. (Specifically Step Eleven.) Often, in my practice of Step Eleven (that states, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him …”) I would feel a Divine Presence and an urge to write. Sometimes words flowed onto the page that were not my own. No burning bushes – or winning lottery numbers – but always appropriate to where I was and what I was concerned with. Without the established habit (morning ritual) of showing up to the page, I would not have a clear channel nor a comfort zone when Divine Guidance bumps journaling to the next level with whispers of redirects or offers of lifelines. And I would miss the crossroads – the opportunities to change direction – that lead to what I know and love about life today. I Write to Think poster A Shortcut?  These days, my writing evolves to fit life circumstances and time constraints but remains a foundational cornerstone; a primary tool I use to process and move through life’s stuff. Issues that show up on paper often do not have to remain as long, drawn out classroom experiences. And, at crucial times, they act as springboards for some pretty amazing communication with others. (I do not advise that you share your writing casually, however. It is important to have an ear that constructively hears beyond the guilt and fear that often gets dumped onto the pages.) Here’s a Thought.  Why wait for pain to motivate you when guidance is “at hand?” Let morning pages prime the pump and other-hand writing set the stage for your own insightful “blurts.” I would LOVE to hear your experiences and thoughts on what your “writing under fire” looks like and how it works in your life. Or your challenges with writing in this way. “Dump” them here ‘cause together we grow!

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