Don’t hold your breath

Inhale: One, two, three, four, five – hold for two beats; exhale: five, four, three, two, one – hold for two; then repeat.

Concentrating on controlling my breathing creates space inside of me. Like wind blowing a sail, I am buoyed. In the space between breaths there is the peace of a placid ocean. When I greet that space there is a deep sense of homecoming that I too often deny.

I find that meditation for me is most efficacious through physical exercise that forces me to control my breathing.

When I was in labor with Maya, I got through it by focusing on my breathing and regulating that breathing through chanting. The Anusara invocation is a chant that feels at home within me. I would breath in for the duration of the 4 line verse :

ChantAnusa

and then release my breath slowly through a second repetition. This allowed me to control the fear and the pain.

When I’ve been in my best yoga form, I would be able to channel endurance and grace through my postures by focusing on my breathing. In those times, I would feel that elusive sense of transcendence that keeps you coming back to the floor. I would feel power, beauty and sweaty exhilaration beaming through me like I was the sun.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to get there. Years really.

Though I’m not back anywhere near there, I’ve learned something about strength. There is the strength it takes to do something awesomely well that you are innately good at. That is honourable and beautiful. What’s also beautiful and perhaps more meaningful for me at this point, is the strength required to journey back from a place of difficulty to a place of strength. When you’ve fallen far down a hill you’ve already climbed, it takes an incredible amount of will and self forgiveness to journey back up again.

I don’t show up to the challenge each day. I wish i did. But I’ve reopened the door and am taking steps. I tend to run in fits, stop for long rebellious periods of: “well I don’t need you either”, and then sprint again until I’m out of patience and breath. This is not a winning strategy.

Lately I get the feeling that I should try walking the whole way back up that mountain. I think I should try going steadily, one breath at a time.

One word at a time.

One difficult choice at a time.

One harrowing conversation at a time.

With painting, with yoga, with many creative endeavours and perhaps even fitness – it’s most important to show up with whatever regularity you can muster. If it’s 5 minutes of vinyasa a day – beautiful. If it’s one jagged sketch on the subway each day – lovely. If it’s 10 non-work or list related words a day – amazing.

The daily return – or the making of the ritual is the hardest part and often the most rewarding.

 

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And so we continue…

I started this piece in the last week of my pregnancy and I finished it off in the past coupe days. Maya will be 2 months next week! I cant say that pregnancy was particularly fruitful for me in the art department – my lack of blog posts are testament to that. I suppose my body was busy working on my greatest creation.
In the period since Maya’s birth, I’ve felt a resurgence of creative power. Everyday I imagine sketches and have ideas for pieces – of course none of which I manage to do because – hey i have a newborn. But while others fly away, some of them have stayed, patiently waiting to be drawn. I wonder how much of this new found fount results from no longer being pregnant vs no longer being mentally oppressed by work tedium. Both I’d wager.

 

Like everything else in my life now, in order to make art, a new rhythm needs to evolve in my process. For the foreseeable future, time to work on my pieces will be minced up into bits. Right now, Maya is napping beside me, so I frantically think and type while I have the opportunity.

 

Making Art remains entirely necessary to my sanity. I had wondered if I’d stop making work when I had a baby. Instead however I find that the challenge of fitting it in to already full days is a challenge of love and tenacity rather than the desperate anxiety to which I had become accustomed.

 

mandala-landscape

 

This piece is an abstracted city scape and landscape. The mandala portion is an abstraction of the inner voice that makes a place special. I may be working in this medium for a while since its the easiest to work with quickly and in short bursts. I enjoy the gouache though. The colours are brilliant and they yield such intense pigments.

 

Thanks for tuning in.

Moments

As a creative person, I am my father in girl form. I’m not sure if I’ve become more like him, or if I’ve only now noticed. Growing up, I spent a lot of time playing with the gadgets and ornaments I found around my dad’s study. When I had outgrown playing with his glass figurines, I would do my homework at his writing desk while he worked on his computer. His study was the perfect retreat because I was the only one who dared to disturb the peace of his sanctuary. His study was the most productive place to be because he had every article of stationary or tool one could ever need. Many of his tools are even self made for specific purposes.

When I was a little girl, my dad made various creative versions of christmas trees. I loved that. He made one out of chicken wire and toilet paper for a couple of years. It was way prettier than it sounds. It was my favourite tree. I attempted to make an origami something this year as a stand in for a christmas tree. It turned out being quite pretty though not very christmasy.

The process of making it and deciding on the materials to use reminded me so much of my dad. It really made me miss being home this year for Christmas. When I started making it, I realised that I already had all of the materials that I needed to make it. It appears that I’ve begun to create my own ‘study’ that is well stocked with art and craft tools of every variety I can think of.

I don’t know when I started trying to recreate his study, but its a place in my heart that I attempt to recreate wherever I live. It’s my base.

After making the hanging thing and cleaning out an art box, I came across some off-cut squares of watercolour paper I’ve had hanging around in my art storage for over 5 years now. I kept them thinking that they’d make lovely little ‘moments’ one day.

This holiday vacation, I used them all. I got out my stained watercolour brushes from my dad’s old orange tackle-box and got to work with the gouache paints he sent to me for christmas last year.

Today I sat reloading ink into my fountain pens (just like my dad taught me) and I realised that I owe him the biggest thank you. Thank you Da for making me who I am. I see you everyday in many of the things that I do, think and say. I’m older now I guess, so I can see it all much more clearly. You made me who I am and I’m not sure how to say thanks for that. But I’ll try anyway. I love you. Thank You.

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