For about two years, softer still has been my mantra. It came to me at a time of transition in my family when I felt pressured (by me) to make things take a linear, orderly path. Forcing things to look just so has never worked. Even if I get the details right or hit the target, the process feels terrible.
I used to think this made me too soft and sensitive, but hardening my heart didn’t make it better. Now, I see my softness as my strength and my medicine.
Softer still has been a work in progress, and that’s okay. Lifelong habits don’t change overnight. So, softer still.
My intention for the last year was to protect more space for creative exploration. I wanted to hear my heart speak through all the noise.
Writing and art were my how.
The writing was easy. I spend 40 hours per week within 3 feet of a computer, and you can bring a notebook anywhere.
Art was a little more challenging. At several points throughout the year, I’d notice it had been a while since I drew something and reaffirm my 2018 New Years declaration: weekends are for art time, no matter what! (Can you hear the discipline in there? Old habits…)
I’ve shifted into listening to what I need, regardless of the timing. Softer still.
For the last few weeks, I’ve felt called back to art. Not out of discipline, but out of alignment. Here’s what I did: every morning for the last week, before email or checking the calendar, packing lunches or getting dressed for work, I created art. And it was exactly what I needed.
For this week’s sneak peek, I have four illustrations and mini-excerpts from Love, Child. Love.
I knew I wanted to include art in the book, but I had no idea what it would look like. Again, I felt pressure to plan before exploring. Never works.
I took a different approach this time. I pulled out my favorite lines and let them come to life. I never could have planned these.
You get the first look here, and if one of these images speaks to you, you can find it in real life at the spark shop.
For a moment, I am a fish, glittering in the light that curls and folds around me.
I am free to swim in any direction I choose. The water flows over me as I cut through her currents.
I look up at the patches of color, the shifting, shapeless forms suspended above me and imagine what lies beyond the edges of my world.
“What’s out there?” I ask the water.
“More of you, darling,” she answers.
For a moment, I am a tiger. Bold and unreasonable in my beauty.
I move silently through the trees, confident in my power, steady in my gait.
“Stay with us a while,” the trees say as I pass beneath their boughs.
And I pause.
“With love, listen,” they tell me.
I close my eyes and concentrate on the music of the forest. The rustling and cawing and whoops and howls. I lose myself in sound. I am the beating of my heart. I am the flow of air through my lungs. I am the song of the forest. I am the waves crashing on the distant shores. I am the wind wailing through the mountains. I hear to the ends of the earth, all of life is a conversation between the universe and me.
“Tell me what you hear,” the trees say.
“I hear life. It’s absolutely everywhere.”
I am alone with the moon, my midnight confidante. Her light holds me as I unfold myself.
I turn my hands around her, looking for my fortune in her open gaze.
“I wish I could see the world as you do,” I tell her. “I wish to be among the stars and share only my brightest side. Send me to the sky, and make a moon of me.”
“But my darling,” she replies, “you are a caroler in this living chorus. The voice of your ancestors reverberates in your cells. Your hands work with the memory of ancient trees and tools. You are humanity.”
“I guess it’s blooming that I fear,” I confide to the garden. “What if I discover I’m only a weed?”
“Have I told you about the dandelion?” the flowers answer.
What would it mean for you to move softer still? How do you/can you nurture your greatest strengths?
Always, always with love,