First off, I guess I must confess that I rarely made my bed between sheet changes (sorry, Mom).
I spent a week at Cheerio Calligraphy Retreat in North Carolina almost 2 weeks ago. I went there to ‘make marks’ and have fun (which I did) but I came away with insights on so many levels it was almost overwhelming (in a good way!) thanks to the instruction (more like guidance) from Laurie Doctor and Steven Skaggs.
Recently I’d been feeling scattered and unproductive with my artwork. I found myself saying (to anyone who would listen) that I just don’t have time for my art. I believe I mentioned this in a prior post – that it began to ring false when I said the words. It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough time in the day to create, it was I wasn’t making the time! I wasn’t sure where the time would come from at first but I knew I had to do something.
Then along comes an opportunity to take a weekend workshop with Laurie Doctor with the Calligraphy Guild of Pittsburgh in October of 2013. I was somewhat familiar with Laurie’s work but had no idea then that it would lead me to Cheerio in 2015 and a new trajectory that I am trying to stay on!
Laurie’s basic mantra for the week was about creating the space (the time, the permission, the physical spot) in order to be a maker; a creator. We would eliminate all the distractions of the world (goodbye cell phones) and make a clearing “in the dense forest of our lives” (Clearing by Martha Postlewaite) to invite the muse in. We got tools ready so after we woke our bodies up with some physical exercises (nothing sweaty) we worked in silence for a bit. We all began to move with such intention in the room, it really did become a space of little distraction. I may go into details on the creative outcomes later, but I just needed to address some of the things I am trying to keep the ‘high’ I was on all week going. I know reality will call upon me with bills, work outside of the studio, etc. but I am determined to make my art part of the daily reality.
It occurred to me a bit ago when someone asks me what I do, I never really have an answer. Yes, I work in an attorney’s office, but I told really have a title. I go on to mention that “I do calligraphy” and if it doesn’t get a glazed over look, it takes time explaining what I might do (weddings?). But these answers to me always felt incomplete at best.
So, back to making the bed…
The first thing I did was set the intention of getting up early every morning. Set the alarm. Make the bed. This way I am closing the space on sleep (oh, my precious sleep) but it marks the beginning of opening the creative space I am so desperately craving. I put on some tea and head to my studio. I have been trying to re-create making a clearing just as we did at Cheerio. I hope to reflect on some specific outcomes (keeping a regular journal/blog is one of my goals) but in general I have found that my outlook on the day has been so much better. I feel like I am starting my day with who I am and the rest of the day sort of follows in behind. I find myself actually excited about getting up in the morning knowing that the studio awaits! This is HUGE for me – since just passing by my studio would give me pangs of guilt.
Now that I am creating the mental space I can enter the physical space of my studio and create! This is step one. More steps are spinning in my head, but one at a time.
Here is Martha Postelwaite’s complete poem, Clearing, which I found so inspirational at Cheerio and have been returning to over and over in these past weeks.
Do not try to serve
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is yours alone to sing
falls into your open cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to the world
so worthy of rescue.
Until next time…Sally