Today I’m sitting at my kitchen table, snow falling heavily AGAIN outside, staring at a bouquet of daffodils. A bundle of sunshine blooming out at me and for anyone else who cares to look and see. I’m smiling and I’m thinking of my stepdad Dennis who passed away 13+ years ago. Today would have been his birthday.
I’m thinking of all the years the throng of us kids would march up in to my parents bedroom and sing Happy Birthday to You ala Red Lobster style(which is where we might have ended up having a celebratory dinner too). I’m thinking of coconut cream pies his favorite. Ford F-150’s and grease burgers in Ordway, Colorado. Classic country music. My mind is rushing through one memory then the next , all isolated stand alone images. All connected to great memories.
I’m thinking of all that he taught me. How to receive a hug without cringing. How to shoot a gun and swing a golf club. How to stay focused and succeed academically. How to defend myself. How to live, and most of the time really LOVE your life.
I’m thinking of the time almost 20 years ago when I was crying over architecture school. I was doing well but knew it wasn’t for me. I’m thinking of the words he shared as he told me it was ok, I didn’t have to stay there. The first time I understood he really saw me as an artist.
I’m sharing this because for many years this, looking back fondly, wasn’t possible for me. I was so sad about his absence I couldn’t conjure up many memories. When I tried there were so many bad ones towards the end of his life I would stop. Feeling like I couldn’t remember anything happy made me even sadder.
Last year on this day I changed that. Last year on Denny’s birthday I sat down and created a mandala, a story circle, diving deep in to my memories of him. I wrote about it here.
I’m sharing this because I truly believe making art heals. The act of marking out a circle as a container for your memories and pouring them in to it is a powerful process. It really is an opportunity to release old stuff. Last week I wrote about creativity as action and I think to create a circle (or meal, or collage, or anything really) celebrating a loved is an act of letting go.
I’m sharing this because maybe you have old stories you carry around but don’t want to look back on. I’m sharing this because I want you to know it’s ok, you can.
When I sat down to type this release kept forming in my mind as real ease. I liked that. I liked that because letting go of old stories, sorrow, heartbreak feels good. These feelings are heavy and when you can release them even a bit at a time, real ease is what you find yourself moving in to.
Now I’m thinking of putting on some Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash or Patsy Cline because that’s what we often listened too and if there was a Red Lobster nearby I’d probably be thinking of paying them a visit too:)
***In my Story Circles class we spend a chunk of time on mandala making as catharsis. Consider joining us if you are interested in moving from release in to real ease too.