Breathe Into the Mess
I’ve just started dating a wonderful woman, and am thrilled to be falling in love. As at the start of any relationship, I’m telling a thousand stories about my life, my history, my dreams in trade for hers– which of course includes a lot of show & tell with my art images. And, since this is an already-real and good-for-our-souls relationship, my messy places are also coming up. This of course includes a lot of wondering and some worrying where my art images are going and how they can best serve.
So the other night, my girlfriend weathered my little melt-down about dealing with my art used without my permission on the web to promote other people’s projects. With her patient and kind listening, I felt some clarity coming on how I might freshly engage these questions. Even so, I did my best to recover from feeling embarrassingly “not together” and unsure about such basic elements of my career. I quickly got out some fresh show & tell, including a book I created in 2003 called Attend to Your Breath.
She opened up the book pages full of quotes from my favorite yoga teacher, Amanda Hoffman Godwin, and my drawings. And then, in a cleverly grace-filled question, she brought my life, art, and my messy places together by saying, “Can I read you some of this? It might be good for you to hear some of this right now.” Yep, I knew she’d found another way to heal me with kindness. As she began to read back to me the wisdom I’d forgotten, I felt new compassion fill my heart for my struggles and my in-process messiness around art-making and the challenges of using it in the world.
Clearly, Amanda’s wise words about yoga embody truth for any subject, even years later. I thought you might enjoy reading a few of the phrases from the book that spoke to me most deeply that night. Maybe you’ll find a new space for loving your questions, your mess, your process a little bit more. May it be so. Namaste.
Some of Amanda’s wise phrases:
Come be here– leave behind all that you did and didn’t do today. Spend a few moments just to arrive.
See if you can open yourself to receiving grace in your practice.
Pay attention to the edges: fear, stops, emotions, etc. Then begin to see your walls as doors.
Better you go less deeply into a posture and stay in good alignment, than to push further and fall out of balance.
If you fall out, be gentle with yourself and take the time you need to come back into the posture. That’s one way we learn.
Remember, it’s not about how far you can go, but about the good stretch you can get.
Check to see if you’re still working from a place of self-acceptance. Be tender with yourself. Be gentle if you’re feeling fragile. The next time you’ve got yourself wrapped in a hug, pause there.
The point is to get to the center of who you are– into the core of your being– and live there.
I’m renewing an intention to publish this book, Attend to Your Breath, and another newly-finished picture book called Dream. Please add your prayers, good wishes, or even donations to this process, let me know if you have a worthy publishing connection– then look for upcoming opportunities to support these projects and buy books. Thank you! Blessings to you!
– Melanie, 5-31-11