Friday, April 24, 2015

Just follow

Three years ago to the month, I was dreaming, slowly unpacking and savoring my new, light-filled studio in a former classroom. It had taken me six years to get here and since the first inner promptings of Spirit initiated this adventure.

That six years seemed like forever. And the three since have vanished too quickly. However, I can count the many blessing in between:

• The luxury of space and quiet to listen to God regularly.
• Using that gift to create an arts exploration for then unknown children, though Jordan, Alivia and Jihad had infiltrated my heart and were the target to which I was drawing closer. I had met them as an art-room volunteer and they melted my heart and planted the seed for a program, where other kids from their complex could shine.
• Having an empty classroom as a blank canvas in which to create a sacred studio.
• Actually hosting Artsy Fartsy here initially with six girls and now with 21 on the roster, including boys.
• Dreaming up a series of classes or single, creative workshops and having the perfect space to pull them off.
• Finding a place to hold all of my ministry.
• Being at the heart of the community and my neighborhood.
• Sharing in the patina of wonderful things that have happened here since 1912.
• Making art here.
• Writing blogs and books here.
• Sharing this section with other artists, including my husband.
• Feeling community.
• Always knowing my stay was tenuous, but planting roots anyway.
• Inviting others here to find a way to save this building.
• Knowing I have been faithful.

I have come to realize that what I believed to be impatient waiting for the next step has actually been grief named by two wise ministers. 

I have known this place with the young-adult loss of my best friend, a miscarriage and the passing of in-laws, grandparents, beloved aunts and uncles, even family pets. I had not equated it to a space or my work. I have come and gone from many jobs over the years, but never mourned them quite like this. This wasn't a job, it was ministry and emanated from my heart.
How it began

With this new insight, I spent yesterday relishing being in the quiet space and carefully packing what can go to storage. It wasn't a chore, but a ritual. Packing away the wonderful presence of Spirit here that has witnessed and facilitated so much transformation in me, the kids and others here to volunteer or participate in a workshop or class.

Room 102, a former math room, is totally infused with God and it will remain even if the last brick is yanked out.
Where it is ending

Yesterday, I was sad and the ritual helped. That is one important lesson I learned working for a casket company. Rituals are there for the times, like grief, when we don't know what to do and we must do something. Rituals are comforting and offer meaning. Even my own, by myself.

Writing this blog seems part of the letting-go ritual. I am savoring this task  more than normal, not skipping through to get it finished, edited, recorded and posted. 

I sense God between the words, on the keyboard, in my heart and head. She knows this is a bittersweet time. Yet, today, I am growing more toward deep, quiet joy, calm and peace as I move from one known thing into one unknown – at the direction of Spirit.

My prayer two days ago was for spiritual companionship and I received it abundantly. I also asked for simplicity (taking the time to pack) and abundance (the richness of companionship and empathy from so many).

I don't know where I am going. And, today, that's just fine.

An hour ago I was speaking with one of my current spiritual companions. His church has promised me space to do Artsy Fartsy. That may be the simplicity that I am seeking. Just knowing they are there, supportive and available makes all of the difference.

So does what my pastoral counselor told me Wednesday. He looked me dead in the eye and said: "You have made a difference ... in the lives of those kids. Whether or not you continue, their live shave been changed for the better."

As has mine.

• When have I found ritual a comfort?
• How?
• How have I learned to surrender to Spirit?
• What practices, companions or experience help me trust?
• When can I walk one step at a time?

the cool, soothing
air drifts in the
open window

for the first time
this season

as if a finger

calls me
out into
the unknown

it is time
to move on

God has
another plan


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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Losing sight of wholeness

"I have a wonderful [business] partnership, so much so that when my partner was way too busy and couldn't say no, I told her we should cancel. That we weren't in the right place. She was grateful."

When I related that information Monday at the second in a series of workshops I am taking on collaboration in the arts, I added "You know, had this been in the corporate world, we would have had to move on no matter what. No breaks for family life or time-outs when needed," I confessed to Darla, our daring facilitator.

"That's why you are an entrepreneur," she gently tossed back at me.

That's the second time in two weeks she has given me an essential truth I needed to hear and in the right moment when I could listen. Last week, she said she had to let her perfectionist tendencies go and just get things done the best she could. Of all the marvelous things she said and reminded me of, this was crucial and it just sort of slipped out. I am not sure it was in her notes.

So, according to Darla wisdom, I chose to be an entrepreneur to control my schedule and I can curb my perfectionism and the world won't fall apart.

Before Monday, I hadn't considered what I am doing as either entrepreneurial or a choice. That insight is causing a shift in me. A BIG one. Perhaps from listlessness and either accepting what comes along or taking it all on to understand this is a choice, a positive one and not a sentence.

I have also heard the term artpreneur. That seems very much in line with where I am these days. Whether writing and planning to publish, making art, leading creative workshops, grant writing and working with low-income kids, I AM by own boss. I tend to lose sight of that in all of the busyness and far-flung projects.

As a result of these workshops, I drew out all the things I am doing -- ALL five -- and trying to see similarities and places to simplify. I did this last fall, yet things have shifted majorly.

Artsy Fartsy Saturdays: serves a very specific population and geographic location, has grown and successfully attracted grants. However, I need a new home by June 1, must assemble a board to help me apply for my own non-profit status and continue to seek funding. Not so simple: new home, new board, new status, more funding solicitation. I have also initiated a book I'd like to write online as a fundraiser about the experience of launching this incredible program.

Art Truck: This concept popped into my head several months ago when I was meeting with a very energetic, get-things-done photography teacher with a big heart. She will be on my board if/when that happens. Didn't even hesitate when I asked. It was an after thought in a conversation about finding a new location. For a few, brief moments, a larger arts business was interested, but decided they had too many initiatives. Then I applied for a new grant for individuals. Yesterday, I heard I was not one of those selected. The week before, I heard from ArtsWave that my video request had been advanced to the next round and another large application, but for bigger money than I have ever sought. I adore this idea of taking art directly to those who don't have access, plus doing some fun gigs in-between. Adding a vehicle, new venue and drumming up support through social media is a whole, other venture. What if I am too busy? I asked my husband, then realized the ridiculousness. I am less afraid of failing than getting too busy.

Salon for the Soul: The blog I have faithfully been writing weekly, sometimes twice a week, for five years. I want to continue and create a devotional from the many entires. That means culling the 500-plus posts, re-writing and paring down and publishing in some form. And building a larger audience. In reality, the groundwork is in place. Maybe not too unsimple.

Turtlebox Stories & Studio: Essentially my physical space and the playful, nurture workshops/retreats I have conducted, which all stem from my first journals and the book I created from them. It's been resting while I taught it. Now the teaching has been resting. I would REALLY love to travel with these workshops and retreats. Someday will be the right time for the book.

Pain as Spiritual Teacher: A chapter from the Turtlebox book that jumped out at me as something wonderful in a workshop format as did the perfect partner, my first yoga teacher, Renee, who also lives with chronic pain. We spent a year doing small, intro sessions, 4-hour workshops and, finally, a stint at the wildly popular Victory of Light Psychic Festival. We had a good, receptive crowd, but got so caught up in what we were doing, we forgot to ask people to sign our e-mail list. We planned a February workshop, but canceled after our festival faux pas and busyness in our lives. Interesting that our Facebook page continues to be active, I think we need to write an article or book together and focus on this rather, specific and hungry audience.

I always joke that I have branding issues and that was my struggle yesterday. How do these all fit under one umbrella ... interesting choice of words as I am looking for a financial umbrella for Artsy Fartsy. Of course, the common thread is me, that these are mission/heart driven and creatively address the spiritual on some level. My map showed me that Artsy Fartsy really is the kid side of Turtlebox; that Salon for the Soul is my vital attempt at community; that Pain as Spiritual teacher is the deep, helping-others-heal work I do with the perfect partner; and, maybe, just maybe, the Art Truck is too much. It can go anywhere to anyone and could be the vehicle, pun intended, for what I take on the road.

When I look at my map, I see that Darla is exactly right. I have created all of these and that makes me an entrepreneur. Then, when I apply her next keen observation about perfectionism, I wonder what can do, be put on hold or rest awhile. Of course, I want to do it all NOW. That's not been working so well. Too many balls to juggle.

What is the simple path forward? The one that is joyful, Spirit-infused and abundant?

• When have I had too much on my plate?
• How did I discern or decide what stayed and what was cast aside?
• How do I seek Spirit in these matters?
• How patient am I when I am called to wait for an answer?
• How do I make the most of and enjoy the discernment-and-waiting process?

I always want
things PERfect

to go off without
a hitch and be,
exactly, the way
I envisioned,

rarely does
that happen

and then I
crucify myself

but then I have
lost sight of
what perfection


Visit Darla Kirchner @ http://www.cbizschool.com; attend the Creative Biz School series the next two Mondays @ www.the-arts-alliance.org

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