Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Soulful Stillness

Stillness is our most intense mode of action. It is in our moments of deep quiet that is born every idea, emotion and drive which we eventually  honour with the name of action. In stillness every human being is great; he is free from the experience of hostility; he is a poet and most like an Angel.

Leonard Bernstein

I was contemplaing the idea of stillness this morning after I overslept. Beaker and I sat up chatting late into the evening last night which, as you can imagine, was not conducive to an early rise. A precious moment for me that I'm becoming tentatively accustomed to and growing to cherish.

I know I touched on this in my last post, but having that opportunity to lose the calm has served to confirm the rule and brought up some deeper reflections on the subject.

Without that moment of quiet in my day, 
I am definitely NOT like an Angel!!

I realised I become vague, inefficient, hazy and lethargic (Even without a glass of wine over lunch!!!) I hesitate over which of my tasks I should do next, not being able to decide until necessity decides for me. Necessity may be the mother of invention for most, but in my state, all I get done are the basics: breakfast, lunch and dinner for the family, the resulting cleaning up afterwards and the schooling just.

That's barely half of what I achieve if I get up before the birds, start with some breathing and meditation exercises, roll up my sleeves and get stuck in. That sounds obvious doesn't it. We all get more done if we start earlier - although the job may expand to fit the time available. Last week I said that I saw my own, personal path more clearly when I take that 'me' time early morn, before the first chirp, while the rest of France is still asleep.

It's taken me a week to experience that it has more far reaching implications than I'd first thought. (I'm hoping that at the rate of one Eureka moment per week I may reach Buddha hood by my 90th birthday ;-)

Seriously though, it's the snowball effect on efficiency during the day that most takes me by surprise each time. My whole day becomes more organised AND fun if I get my 'stillness' time. Taking the early morning hours to define and work at my personal project gives me the extra energy to move mountains for everybody else and still find time for my calligraphy in the afternoon, almost effortlessly.

Whether this is pure imagination, due to my happy perception of the world which makes me more patient and open to what arises during the day, or whether everyone actually does cooperate and things slot into place naturally, I'm still unsure. It's maybe a mix of both. Often I wonder how much of my frazzled nerves mental state my messmonsters absorb and express in their own way.

What do you think?
How much time do you spend in contemplative stillness?
Do you yearn for it?
Do you allow yourself the luxury? How often?

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts…
IF you would like more of mine, on wellness, pop over to Simone's gorgeous blog: The Bottom of the Ironing Basket. Simone has spent all of November interviewing women from around the globe on their perceptions of what Wellness means. You can find my contribution by clicking here

See you next Tuesday with an advent calendar 'Signed by Ange' style.  It's a little secret I've been working on for grown ups as a precurser to the inevitable New Year's resolutions list…


PS. This piece is in my Etsy store. 
You can find it if you look on the right hand side bar for the Etsy mini icon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Never give in!

It is 4.45am and I have decided to arise earlier on a regular basis in a desperate bid to improve my efficiency ratio on 'school' days and have some peaceful 'thinking' time before 3 whirlwinds of activity sabotage the calm. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do n'est-ce pas? 
All is dark and chilly, and the only sound is the gentle takakakakakakakakak of the keyboard, if you don't count the occasional curse whispered iolently under my breath as the 'b' and 'v' keys get stuck on the 'Nerd' lollies that the messmonsters have spilt while they play educational games on the Mac.

There's rather a lot going on in the dark around here in fact and one of the reasons I've alighted so early is to gather my thoughts and shed a little light on areas I'm personally unclear about. I guess you could say I'm in the process of redefining my core values and working out a clearer mission statement for my life.  Nothing like a good cuppa and a blog post to help me on my way… ;-)

When I feel like I've lost my footing in the great adventure race of life. I know it's time to stop, reorient my compass and narrow the options for effectively getting to the next point. 

Sort of like the run I went on last night in the forest. In the beginning it was all a bit scary hazy and vague and I had to pick my way forward slowly, placing each step carefully but firmly. After a while the momentum picked up naturally and, even though nothing was bright as daylight, I could  clearly identify the white stones of the right track shining through the darkness. By the time I got back, the dark and I had become familiar friends and the path  felt more like a Yellow Brick Road.
This is my own personal mantra of the moment with which I'm completely enjoying brainwashing myself: 
"My body is a mountain" 
(Note to self: gotta stop the chocolate ;-)

"Never give in!"

Thanks for the emails and comments I've had for the last couple of posts. It's enriching getting some wider points of view on those existential situations we all go through in life :)
 Have a great week all. 
Don't lose your focus :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Inspire: it's not light we need but fire!

That's exactly what I was thinking this morning at 6.30am when I awoke to find the fire still burning in the hearth. Thank goodness for small mercies! Mind you, a little light also comes in handy at 6.30am in this part of the world, when all is dark and the only sound you can hear are the sounds of mice playing in the pasta packets in the pantry. Nice ;-)

There are projects in the air here at la Rivière. Subtle (and not so subtle) changes are occurring which bring out a hint of the inner fire. And where there's fire - there's colour!

Beaker has suggested a move to further shores. Seeing none of the options include Down Under, I've resolutely declined the offer. Not because I don't love to travel… BOY do I LOVE to travel!

 But because I'm setting up my own BIG art project here with marginalised women in Toulouse. A project I can move across to India afterwards.
Yes, as well as home schooling.
Yes, in case you were wondering, as well as trying to organise my own exhibitions.

Can you find the word 'courage' in the image up there?
I have to keep painting COURAGE in order to keep pulling it from somewhere.
I'm hoping to tap into a bottomless spring of it at some stage in the near future.

 Life here is all about metamorphosis. 
Even this piece rose out of the ashes.
Metaphorically speaking that is.

I just happened to splash a bottle of indigo ink I was having difficulty opening 
all over the bottom of a finished piece of work.
It was originally ONE WORD written on a page dating from 1715.
I nearly cried in frustration. 
Then I started again with what I had, mistakes 'n' all.
Interesting what I ended up with.
Nothing like my original intention.

Does that ever happen to you?

It's not light that we need but fire; 
It's not the gentle shower but thunder; 
We need the storm, the whirlwind, the earthquake

Frederick Douglass 
(Dying to know who he is? Click here to find out.)

Have a great week every one :)
PS:  When I've framed it, like I intend to this week, I'll repost photos and put it up in my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I have nothing to declare...

Of course I'd like to be able to continue the title of this post with 'but my genius.' But that would be far too obvious. Worse! It would be plagiarism!

Perish the thought!

But it is a nifty, catchy expression, don't you think?
A hint of daring. A touch of 'up yours!'
'I have nothing to declare but my genius.'

The Irish have the knack for witty, pithy expressions.
They can pull them off really well.
I remain unconvinced that, upon arrival at the  Roissy CDG airport in Paris, in front of the customs officers, it would have the same effect if I said, "Je n'ai rien a déclarer Messieurs, sauf ma génie!" They'd be rummaging through my Louis Vuitton luggage, hunting for a wee leprechaun in a bottle in the blink of an eye ;-) Or hauling me off under a suspecting stare.

They say the French have a certain 'je ne sais quoi.'
I reckon it's the Irish that have it hands down.

In any case, Oscar Wilde definitely did.

This piece is flying out to NZ.
I'm whizzing off to give English lessons to my messmonsters
I would love to start with the analysis of the above phrase, 
but I believe, in the hands of the messies,
it would be my undoing ;-)

 Une fabuleuse semaine à vous tous et toutes mes amis