I picked Renewal as my theme for this year with some trepidation. What if I don’t feel renewed? What if my over-arching feeling at the end of 2022 can be summed up with 2 adjectives: “tired and grumpy” instead of “RENEWED”? 🙂
And isn’t it selfish to focus on renewal, when so many are denied this luxury?
I’ve thought about this a lot. World events of biblical proportions have been rocking us of late: fires, floods, plagues. And now we can add war in Europe to the mix. Is this the best time to focus on personal renewal, I asked myself?
I’ve been trained by parents and family devoted to service to live by this creed,
“Let your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own selves.” – Baha’i Writings.
World-embracing. Not myself. So does this beautiful quote mean I shouldn’t be happy when others are suffering?
After giving this idea a lot of prayer, meditation and thought, here’s my take: There is always suffering around us. Always. Sometimes this escalates, and sometimes it subsides, but suffering and difficulties are part of the human condition.
There are always challenges within us. We could be battling a difficult relationship. Caring for an ageing parent. Dealing with the loss of a loved one. Coping with illness, feelings of isolation, comparison-itis, not-enough-ness … The list goes on and on. As humans, we don’t need war, flood, pestilence to be in a state of sorrow or grief.
Sometimes we can take action to change things and ease our suffering or the suffering of others. And sometimes we can’t. But ALWAYS, always, we have the choice to choose our response to … Everything.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
― Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Victor Frankl’s words, arising from his time in concentration camps and published in his seminal book, really highlight his message on the importance of embracing life even in the face of great adversity.
The darkest period of my own life was when my daughter Mary was both mentally and physically very, very ill. She was hospitalised for months at a time, to stop her from dying. Her grief and pain formed what seemed like a whirling black hole of anguish. As her mother, I found myself standing at the event horizon of this black hole, and it threatened to pull me in. However, something inside me knew that if I joined her in this pain, (which I felt almost COMPELLED to do), it would be the end for both of us.
But my daughter was in such pain, how could I NOT join her? Isn’t that what love is?
As I learned in those difficult moments, love was something else.
Love was seeing her pain but staying just far enough from that “event horizon” that I wasn’t drawn into it. It didn’t serve her if I was sucked in. She needed me not to be.
So, inch by inch, I dragged myself away from that vortex and taught myself to see her pain but not live it with her. Pray for her, support her, but not immerse myself in it.
This was a Big Life Lesson for me – one that I’ve called on many, many times: When my dog was suffering. When a student is anxious about creating or disappointed in what they made. When a sister is struggling with her health. When my mother was losing her mind to dementia. When my human family in the Ukraine is facing unimaginable confusion and terror every day. No one is helped by me being discombobulated and lost in sorrow.
So, I try to choose a different response: I remind myself to stay in my own lane, to do what I can to ground myself, to appreciate the beauty and richness that life offers. I send them love and prayer and help in any practical way I can, but I stay in my own lane, and don’t lose myself in the vortex.
I’m also reminded of my painting process – here, each step is separated by a sealer that creates an isolation layer between processes. This isolation layer gives me the flexibility to create anew on top of the old. I can enhance, emphasise, cover, rebuild, re-texture, highlight, downplay, saturate, de-saturate.
Every layer gives me an opportunity for renewal.
Speaking of “renewal”, March 20-21st marks the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere and the autumnal equinox where I am in the southern hemisphere. The sun is directly above the equator, day and night are equal in length, and we officially welcome the change of season. It’s also the festival of Naw-Ruz, which means ‘new day’!
To mark this day, I’d like to announce a new offering and all the renewal that lies within: a ‘Creative Community Day’ in my studio!
SOME Q and A’s…
What is a ”Creative Community Day”? On Sunday, March 2oth, I invite you to spend the day (10am to 3 pm) in my beautiful, light-filled studio in the Perth hills, perched amongst the fragrant eucalyptus trees. Amidst birdsong and chocolate, bring your unfinished art and spend the day creating, finishing, chatting, eating or (simply sitting around among the trees). The idea is to use my space as a place of gathering and informal creativity, where we support each other with kindness and friendship, creativity and connection.
Who is this for? Anyone who has been to at least ONE of my art workshops is welcome to come along!
So, is this a free class? No, it’s not a ‘class’ as such, but yes, it is 100% free. This is an opportunity to gather and make art together without formal instruction from anyone in a lovely, bright, inspiring space. You can help each other, or not, you can chat or sit quietly and work, you can ask me questions. You can bring ANY art you’re working on (even quilts or pots!) Think of me as your host, your supplier of tea and chocolate, and your fairy art-mother, floating in, out and around and helping where I can 🙂
How much? FREE. Absolutely nothing. This is my gift to you on the occasion of Naw-Ruz!
How do I ‘enrol’? All you have to do to book your spot is to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and say YES (or hit reply to this email). If you’d like to come, PLEASE DON’T DELAY as Covid restrictions mean that I can only have an intimate group in this small private setting, so I’ll close the group as soon as we fill up. (Which may be quick.)
If I can’t make March 20th, will you hold any more Creative Community Days? Yes, I plan to! I’m hoping to host a “Community Creating Day” once a month, and I’ll work out a way for you to book your spot and put updates etc, once I get a feel for the level of interest out there. So email me anyway and tell me if you’re interested: email@example.com
Why is this free? It’s free because it’s my small, nice thing to redress the balance of not-so-nice-things in the universe. It’s free because it’s a gift. It’s free because I think you’d enjoy it, you are all such lovely people and I’d like to make it easy for you to connect with each other and make art. And connection + creativity are powerful antidotes in challenging times. It’s free because I want to say thank you: for your presence at my workshops, for the ease and freedoms we have in Australia, and because I’ve always wanted my studio to be a place of peace and possibility for as many people as I can.
Would you like to come to my first Creative Community Day in the forest?! Let me know now: firstname.lastname@example.org
To our collective renewal and with much love from me,
Thank you for reading my post!
More on my art + classes in the Perth hills: