Man, it felt so good to drop off that bundle of clothes at Goodwill last spring. The trash bag was crammed with size 14’s and 16’s (!) because after six months of hard work, I had trimmed down to a model thin (for me) size 12. I’d been around this block before, but this time I was convinced the pounds would stay off. I was eating right and enjoying it, working out at the gym with a personal trainer (and enjoying it!) and I was full of energy and hope.
You know what’s coming next, right?
Yep. I’ve gained back every ounce of that hard-earned weight loss. And maybe a pound or two more.
Thank heavens I saved a couple pairs of my big girl pants. (They were in the laundry basket the day I made my prideful Goodwill deposit.) It’s discouraging. I feel ashamed. My constant dread is that tunic tops and oversized sweaters will go out of style, because they are seriously saving my life right now.
Yeah, I should be, but I guess the barista didn’t catch the DECAF part of my order yesterday afternoon, so I’ve been UP. ALL. NIGHT. But I’m not complaining, because around 2:30 I decided to take advantage of my wakefulness and the quiet to pursue the thing that’s been giving me life the past month or two…
Rather than toss and turn, I came downstairs and painted this:
Here’s the thing, though… I’m not a painter, I’m a writer. I could have been writing. Maybe, should have been writing? Writing is what I do.
I write. I’m a writer. I’m wriiiiting! (Bill Murray, What About Bob?)
I should be working on my book. Blogging more regularly. Writing retreat messages, and yet, I have this crazy desire to paint and I’m not sure why.
Why is it so much fun to dabble in a medium that is so bullheaded and contrary? Watercolor is not a good fit for someone with control issues.
Think about it… water has a mind of its own, goes where it wants, drips, dribbles and drops everywhere but where you want it to go. It won’t stay put; not for me anyway. Ornery paint! No wonder “loose” watercolor is so popular with beginners.
Painting “loose” is harder than it looks. My pics above, while ambitious, are not the best representations of loose watercolors, and when I read this definition I understood why I find it so difficult:
To paint loosely, you need to first change your mindset. Loose painting is about capturing an impression or essence of a scene, rather than painting a photographic representation. Once you get hold of this idea, you can let go of your expectations of perfection and focus on the feelings, mood and colors that you feel and see in front of you. To get the fluid look, you have to use more fluid.
Remember when remembering was easier than it is now? (I’m talking to my older readers. You younger ones—remember this: you’ll be old too, someday.)
I post a gratitude list on Facebook each night and if I don’t keep a running list on my phone throughout the day, forget it! I can barely remember my name by 9pm, let alone remember the details of my day.
Counting it all Joy (the name of my nightly list) is my way of remembering the good stuff. Making my list reminds me (another “Re-word” that I could write a whole post about) to have perspective—to see accurately. When you actively look for blessings, really pay attention (it costs something: time, energy, focus) you realize there’s no such thing as a bad day.
Understand please, that no one who knows me well would ever call me a Pollyanna, or Susie Sunshine. But as I continue to ask God to give me eyes to see what He sees, and then to purposefully remember by the act of writing it down, my days have a lightness to them. My perspective changes.
Ultimately what I remember by all that remembering is this truth:
GOD. IS. GOOD.
Life is good.
Of course He is. And life IS good. But I forget. It’s crazy how forgetful I am.
Yesterday I totally forgot that I had a facial scheduled even though I had it written down in several places. (But I remembered to go to the grocery.) I remember big things but forget little things. Or I remember little things but forget big things.
In the online world, this is the time of year when prompts proliferate. Prompts about achieving your goals, creativity prompts, journaling prompts, prayer prompts, writing prompts. They’re meant to help us restart the dead batteries of our willpower, refuel our imagination, and re-inspire our hearts.
Usually, I’m all in, especially with the writing prompts. Anything to get these stiff fingers flying across my dusty keyboard.
So, I signed up for the first writing prompt challenge I came across and then “promptly” got stuck on day two.
The word prompt for that day was “light,” a word I’d carried around in my heart, studied and written and spoken about many times before, so it was odd that I felt so much resistance to write about it now.
It was my second time attending a *JourneyMates Morning Apart, so I pretty much knew what to expect:
Quiet. Lots and lots of quiet.
The quiet threw me the first time I visited, but not because silence makes me uncomfortable. I love silence—crave it even; bring on all the silence! But I if I wanted peace and quiet and space to be with God, why would I want to be in a room with thirty other women?
I spent the next three hours pretending to look pensive and reverent, but I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Not for me, I thought.
But a lot can change in three years.
My journey had led me to discover some new (old—ancient, even) Spiritual practices that were contemplative in nature and I had met a new friend who became my Spiritual Director; she taught me how to notice and respond to God’s presence and invitation, to practice soul care, to simply be with God without all the trappings I was used to.
I couldn’t get enough. And so, when she suggests I attend JourneyMates, I decide to give it another try and register for the next monthly gathering.
This time, the quiet is a balm and a blessing, oil on my head, dripping down my arms and hands and pouring onto the pages of my journal. After a period of guided silence and a time of marinating in Scripture through lectio divina ( “divine reading” ) and a short devotion, we have roughly an hour and forty-five minutes of glorious silence to seek and spend time with God; to find a comfy chair, nibble on a scone, take a walk, or gather around the fire pit.