She wheeled into the room on her little knee scooter, trying to find her way around the chairs in order to sit down. Cynthia was just the latest in a string of women in my writing circles who had had misfortunes of one sort or another, from broken toes to surgeries. I haven’t been able to write, she said with exasperation as she gingerly sat on the couch. I just can’t do anything.
We all know how to create from emotional pain (Van Gogh, anyone?). But what is less discussed is creating from physical pain. Often, we just deflate. It’s like the air is sucked out of us and all our attention goes to simply getting by.
I got to see this first-hand this month with a cervical herniation that felt like flames licking my neck and radiating down my arms. Now it was my turn to not just look hypothetically at creating with pain or illness, but to see how it looked up close and personal.
At first, I had little attention for anything else. Pain takes energy and focus.
But slowly, as the pain lessened, other options arose. As I write this, my shoulders pressing into a blue ice pack, I read the words by Nancy Hill, “Finding our voice often occurs after a breakdown of sorts…. these periods of shakiness and pain are part of the discovery process.”
So true. Pain and illness are simply new portals into self-discovery.
As my illusion of “having it all together” has been stripped away, what arises instead is uncertainty. I don’t know what’s coming next. I don’t know when good health will come or go. So that brings me more present to THIS moment. To a heightened awareness of what’s around me. The wet leaf sticking to the bird bath. The way my dog’s tail flips up when he walks. The contours of my own anatomy. The poignancy of life as it is.
Uncertainty also brings me to vulnerability. When I am vulnerable, I am more real. When I am more real, then I can write, paint and express from a deeper, more authentic part of me. From a place of being broken open, rather than closed off.
Creating a daily life shifts as well. Areas where I used to spend my time – dancing, the gym, long walks, hours at the computer – are taken away and I am led to choose differently in the holes they leave in my day. Suddenly there are moments where all I can do is lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling – a quiet patch where new ideas arise. Or where instead of speed walking with a destination, I slow walk on an artist’s date, inhaling the crisp earthiness of fall.
And as I slow down, I also feel my artist’s canvas of feelings more. Moods shift. Identity cracks.
Anger breaks out. Then tears. And I write.
My body is sending the hard and loving message that life can change at any time. She is letting me know that she is not eternal. That what she can do for me – travel, savor wine, make love – will not last forever. It may not even last until tomorrow. Which means that any creating I do must matter. What do I love? How can I serve? What is essential? I ponder all this.
Would I have chosen pain as my teacher? No. But as she scrapes away what’s not essential, what’s left is a raw, tender place that is ripe for creating…
How have you created in the midst of physical pain or illness? Click here and then share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of the blog.
* * *
BodyLove Intuitive Eating Tele-Circle
Starts Monday, November 11, 2019
Do you procrastinate making changes because you are waiting for that big surge of energy to spur you on? What if change could be almost effortless to slip into… and then go at a compassionate, human-sized pace from there? The doors will close on Sunday, November 17 for this Circle. All the details are HERE.
Writing your Personal and Creative Vows
Seton Cove in Austin, Texas
January 22, 2020 from 12 – 1:30 p.m.
Do you find days going by where you feel disconnected from what matters most? Where you fear you are not living from your deepest values or purpose? In this workshop, you will write your own personal vows – a set of clear instructions from your soul on what’s most important on a daily basis. Registration TBA.
Creative Soul Seasonal Women’s Circle
Every other week from January through April, 2020
In the Creative Soul Seasonal Women’s Circles, we are not “improved upon.” We are already wise, amazing women. Instead, this is a space for renewal and re-invention. Here we dive deeper into who we really are – what makes us happy, what ignites us, our true desires and even what we are on this planet to do. It is a place of laughter and deep, respectful listening.
To enrich the experience even more, each “season” we choose a different book to charge up our inner and outer explorations. This winter, we’ll be inspired by “Unfolding: Slow Down, Drop In, Dare More” by Nancy J. Hill. Details here.
Women’s Inspired Momentum Writing Circles
The next round of Writing Circles begins in January of 2020. Email me to see if there are any open spots…