I finished the Summer Mandala just a few days ago, and it signals the end of many summer tasks. I am not quite ready for it to be September. I’m never really ready for September, but this year it seems especially difficult. I want the sunny bright colors of the mandala to last longer. I want the flowers to stay around. I want the garden to keep growing.
I do love Summer! And I am working on Trust in so many areas of my life right now. Learning to trust that the strength and sense of flow that summer brings me can last into the Fall, even when it is rainy and gray.
I’ve completed three of the seasons. One more mandala to go in my version of the four seasons.
I’ve been thinking a lot about communication. How precious and precarious it is. How difficult it is to get it right. And how much I have to learn about it. As much as I try, and as much progress I think I’ve made, it can all get weird in just a moment’s time. This has all been working on me and within me, stewing around inside my brain and my heart for the past few days. And I just got a small piece of the puzzle late last night.
I couldn’t sleep because we had an intense thunderstorm with lightening coming in like strobe lights, followed by huge explosions of sound. Very exciting. Very unusual for this small corner of the world. We get rain but not thunderstorms. Another facet of climate change? Sigh. But I digress…
So in the midst of the storm, it came to me that at the core of so much of my communicating is the need to be right. I like to think that it is about the need to be witnessed, to be heard. But when I am very honest with myself (as I try to be), I realize that after all this time and all this self-work, I still just want to be right. And I want everyone around me to think so too. The more I want it, the more tongue-tied and inarticulate I get. The more off-message, the more counter productive. The more someone disagrees with me, or if I have a minority opinion in a group, the more I dig my heels in. I get a little preachy. I keep trying different ways to make them see my point. I advance the art of communication not at all. Sigh. I need to go back to the drawing board. To breathe. To allow. To surrender. All good words for me. I have so very much work to do. This looking at self stuff is so not easy!
I did this drawing as a commission for someone. It represents the Fifth Chakra or the Throat Chakra, home of communication with ourselves and others. It is light at the center, but it gets a bit dark and messy at the edge, with many different layers and a lot going on. The words I thought of for her were easy and discerning. More sighs! More good words for me.
I spend a large part of my day looking.
In the morning, I look at the screen on my computer.
In the afternoon, I spend time outside. I look at the minute details of my garden, checking each flower and each vegetable for signs of growth, or slug damage, or readiness to be picked, pruned or harvested. I look at the whole vegetable garden (I regret that I got such a late start this year, and I trust that there will be more to eat very soon). I look at each flower bed, and try to manage the weeds that all this rain is bringing. I look at the sky and the water and the mountains in the distance. I see the sun gleaming or the clouds moving or the rain glistening. I notice the other houses near where I live. I take in the trees swaying in the breeze. I love it all. I breathe.
Then it’s time to go into the studio. I take the time to look at what I’ve been working on before going on to the next step, the next stroke the next layer. Then I paint and I look while I’m painting. And I look again, and paint again.
But all the looking is a prelude for feeling. If I am painting an abstract composition, I need to explore what is moving me in the moment, knowing that painting it will change the feeling or the emotion into something else. If I am creating a mandala, I take the word that I am associating with it and feel deeply into what it means for me. If I am prompted to paint my version of a landscape, I am not representing anything actual. I am feeling into everything I have seen, everything I have been looking at, and making a semblance of the real world as it has been filtered through my mind and heart.
The three small paintings on paper which are pictured above are those kind of landscapes.
This is the same painting I have been struggling with for so long. The version on the left has now become the version on the right. I am much happier with it now. Almost ready to stop working on it and to move on. I have a good feeling about it for the moment. And it seems to be about comfort and safety, so even the meaning is feeling more resolved. Working on it again and again has given me a degree of comfort, like being with an old friend. I’ll actually miss greeting it in my studio if it’s really finished.