Life is not a straight line. It's a downpour of gifts, please – hold out your hand

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Art and Love and Healing

I am amazed that, even though I know how deeply healing art is for me, I would decide the product, having something "good enough" to share (or sell), having others' approval, is somehow more important than giving myself the miracle healing blessing of doing what I love.

Photo found HERE

This morning before I exercised or cleared the breakfast dishes off the table, before I let myself get sucked into other people's words via this amazing internet, I put on my magic painting apron, lit three candles, took a couple of big gulps of smoothie and began. I began by pouring little bits of magenta, turquoise, orange, yellow, white etc...onto that piece of cut glass I got just for this purpose. I began with an urgency, with heart pumping faster, I began while repeating these words in my head: Please, please let me get out of the way so what wants to come through will come through. Please let me get out of the way. Please let me get out of the way. 

While I repeated these words, I dipped fingers into color and as color started filling empty space, I let myself breathe. There was a hunger there I can't describe, as though my life and sanity depended on me putting paint on canvas in that moment.  As I continued, I was aware of those mean voices in my head - the ones that tell me what I can't do, the ones that tell me I'm wasting paint and time, the ones that insist I should be exercising the fat off my body instead of playing with paint.

But I kept dipping fingers, mixing color, allowing some deeper, quieter part of me to guide the process. And as I continued to breathe and paint, a flood of emotions came and started dripping, and the words in my head then became - thank you, thank you, thank you.

As I write these words I feel that flood of emotion again. And I'm aware too of the pain. The pain that cuts deep, the symptoms and ache that come from denying myself - from denying myself.  Denying myself because of fear. Fear I'll create yet another mess. Fear that I lack when I need in order to really be an artist. Fear of what "they" will think of my creations. Fear so thick it tugs and pulls and weighs me down, so thick it stops me from doing what brings my heart, my body - my whole being - immense, healing joy.

And, oh my God. I'm amazed and deeply saddened that I would deny myself such healing goodness.  That I would decide "good" is more important than this soul-healing offering - this heart-healing bliss. I am amazed that, even though I know how deeply healing art is for me, I would decide the product, having something "good enough" to share (or sell), having others' approval, is somehow more important than giving myself the miracle healing blessing of doing what I love.

This miracle healing blessing of doing what I love.

What, what in the whole wide world, could be more important than this?  

A couple of days ago there was an article in our local paper about a man (Randolph Westphal) who, 26 years ago, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Doctors told him he had no more than a year to live. But, rather than waiting for death to find him, he said (in his German accent), "I make a decision not to die."

He conveyed that he thought stress had caused his cancer and that, he decided, rather than dying, he would fight cancer by doing something he loved - he would ride his bicycle. And that's what he's been doing. Since 1990 he's ridden his bike all over the world (he estimates he's covered over 130,000 miles) - sharing his story - spreading his message of  hope. These days he rides with his two Alaskan sled dogs, Nanook and Chinook, who he describes as his family.  Amazingly, when my family & I were driving south to a nearby town for my daughter's soccer game last weekend, we passed Randolph and his dogs. The next day we read the article in the paper. One of the things that struck me in the article was these words from this dear, brave man:

No doctor in the world can heal you - you do it with your mind.

Coming upon this man's brave story doesn't feel like an accident.  Over the last couple of weeks, I've let the scared parts of me take over. In other words - I've had cancer of the mind. And there's been this part of me that has been a bit desperate for someone, anyone, to save me from my own if someone else could do it. 

Denying myself joy (by denying myself need to express and share) has truly taken the breath right out of me and landed me face first in my own version of hell. Giving myself the gift of paint this morning was like bringing those aching parts of me back to life - like bicycling so beautifully, miraculously did for Randolph.

Here's the truth.  When I say no to what feeds and fills me, when I decide something else matters more than doing what lights me up- I become empty. And when I'm empty, I miss the beauty of Here.  When I'm empty I have little to give to others- to this life that is calling me - to this life that again and again invites me to say YES.

In a poem I wrote a while ago called "Unleashed," I wrote:

I want to pour
out my
as if
depends on it

I’m really quite certain

 Yes.  I'm really quite certain it does.

*               *                *

There's still one week left to register for my upcoming Getting Naked class (beginning October 21st).  Click HERE for more below to register.  I would so love it if you joined us!

I'm offering a discount of 30% off (plus a signed copy of my book, On the Other Side of Fear, if you sign up in the next 2 days (10/14-10/15).  


  1. cut glass? why am i so intrigued by that? somehow that language seems powerful + without knowing why, i just share it.
    your painting, + with your fingers. oh my gosh. I LOVE IT.
    and your of my julia favorites!
    i believe you. your life depends on it.
    LIVE, friend, LIIIIIIVE.

    xox love your life!

    1. Rachel is here - the sun has come out!

      When I think of you Rachel, I think of sunshine & color...

      How you light my world. A bazillion thank yous.

  2. Wow, Julia, I just love this post. I've come to a similar conclusion, realizing that I have all these beautiful dreams and visions of north, and yet I spend big swaths of my day engaged in activities that don't support my movement toward them. So of course, being me, I'm making a list of how I spend my time, putting everything under one of two headings: Northbound and Clear Away. I can feel the excitement of knowing I'm about to do more than just lip service to my biggest, most wonderful dreams.

    We are, as usual, together apart.

    1. Northbound and Clear Away...I love this. I think I'll steal it.

      I've never known you to do "lip service" to anything. You are one of my norths, J. I have the great honor of watching you, such a perfect, inspiring example of what moving Northbound looks like. And, oh - how lucky I am to have you as support as I do my best to do the same (even if sometimes I'm on my knees crawling).

      It's a great honor to know & love you, my friend. It really is.

  3. I definitely admire the artistic abilities you have -- not only can you craft words, but you can craft pictures. I can barely manage a stick figure :)
    There is definitely something healing about art. I find, though, I have to let "me" get her frustration of the way before the real art starts coming through. Whatever I am frustrated about, I write about, and then the real art can come afterwards.
    I guess it's something of a release, something of a relaxer before I can let myself focus on other things.

    That man's story is really something. It always amazes me when people live much longer than doctors expect--and they live proof positive from there on out.

    1. Dear Karin,

      First, if you ever played Pictionary with me, you would see very clearly that I can't draw worth a shit! :) Just ask my family. Seriously, drawing has never been my thing. For me, it's all about color and getting the anxious one out of the way so I can P L A Y. It takes much deep breathing & coming back to NOW to get that anxious one to chill.

      Yes, that man's story really struck me. Incredible what we can heal when we show up true - when we show up and do what we love.

      Thank you for being here, dear person - it matters so much.

  4. A little breeze brought me by today
    and I shake and swoon over the sweetness
    that the exact words I need to read,
    to let pour over me until I'm soaking in them,
    are splashed out from you across the whole universe
    to me,
    from your deep places to mine,
    and I send you a whole heap of thanks
    for the fresh cup of water
    I so needed.

    1. I'm thanking that little breeze for bringing you to me, Jennifer. You are always such a breath of freshness for me, such a poetic blessing.

      Love, love, love to you. xo

  5. I swear you always seem to be dancing around in my brain and reading my thoughts and then you put your words here and the synchronicity of your message hits me like a ton of bricks. Again.

    I have an opinion that when we go through times of lots of good creating..somehow that evil thing that has kept us from it tries to raise it's ugly voice and do all it can to sabotage what we have just done. For me, it is the voice of Doubt, and boy has it been LOUD lately. I hate it. The Voice of Doubt does not like to be ignored, which is of course what we do when we create, when we listen to our hearts and let go of the fear. It gets louder and louder the more we are able to resist.

    But this continual struggle is necessary for our growth, isn't it? Like a seed in the dirt, scraping against all that stuff, but in the process revealing the true core, the part that grows into something beautiful. (I learned that in a class called 'Getting Naked'....

    1. Ahhh....Deb. I so hear you, my friend. I know Doubt all too well. And yes, I also know that it is all here to bloom us more into wholeness, more into who we really are. It's all pointing us north (as my beautiful friend, J, would say).

      You are so supported and loved, Deb. Take my hand and breathe with me...and let's keep on stepping north.

      Sending so much love your way.

  6. yes !!! ....pour them all over the place <3
    so beautifully shared
    I love your little donkey
    he showed up again yesterday over in Judi's post <3
    the creative spirit is flowing all over place
    looking for people to create with
    I think he is a sign for me to paint my own ' donkey ' so to speak
    keep creating :~) and sharing

    1. Luna! How beautiful to find you here. Thank you for blessing me with your presence. I would so love to see you create your very own donkey...that little one so rocked my world! Thank you for loving him.

      With so much gratitude...

  7. Oh Julia, this post found its way deep inside of me to that place where I cringe and sing, hide and leap, bow and shiver. Touching that deep place where my soul speaks and reaches out in painting or in words, expressing itself with authenticity and power, yet, insecure when the voices accuse and judge. Why do we wait so long to do the thing that makes us soar? Why do we believe the mean voices over the soothing song of our heart?
    I loved this post because it reminded me of the truth. I needed the truth today. I need it every day. Thank you for being transparent and brave and oh so beautiful. I love you!


What are you thinking/feeling? I'd really love to know...

♥ Julia