Disarray makes it difficult for me to create. So, I keep my studio clear of clutter. Well, most of the time. Its current condition is a sign of how busy my life has been. The book launch, two groups in Paris, book talks, signings and a retreat in Saugatuck all happened within two months, along with my regular commitments. Things that I usually put away are stacked by the door as I race out to the next event.
Now I am cleaning up my messes both in the studio and in a relationship. This is easy when it is a sewing machine or a few stray items that are out of place. When the mess is in a relationship it is not as clear, not as simple.
I know that I can grow from disturbances.
My life has had other times of upheaval that have taught me a great deal. I prefer less turbulent ways to grow. Yet every once in awhile I take this painful path to growth. I am in that unsettled place now. And the most difficult situation for me to encounter is the uncomfortable reality that others are hurt by my actions.
Sometimes relationships become stronger in the healing process. Sometimes the relationship doesn’t survive. The uncertainty of the outcome is a difficult part of the disturbance. In the middle of the muddle the end is unclear. Gratefully, the latter is a rare outcome. But when that happens it takes awhile to regain my balance. Often it takes a long time.
Sorting is a big part of this process. It is the same in my studio as well as my emotional life. What do I keep? What do I pitch? What do I embrace as a priceless gift? We are the only ones who can answer these questions. They require ruthless honesty. Questions like this emerge: “Will I really ever use the fabric stacked up in the closet?” Or, emotional honesty requires soul searching questions: “Did I speak with compassion?” Can I accept my own shortcomings? These are tough questions. However, they are the ones that allow us to grow.
We all have stories like these. We are on one side or the other of a conflict. It is likely we are both hurt and the one who caused hurt. Life is messy. I like to scamper away from upsets as quickly as possible. Yet, I know sinking into them is the only thing that will release me. Just like my messy studio, I must plunge into personal problems to clean them up. Wishing them away won’t work. Dropping in lets us learn from our experiences.
When I wrote the introduction to Unfolding I was thinking about these very times.
“Living in the moment should be blissful. Right? Yet sometimes when we drop in we encounter uneasiness.We’d like to be present but without the risk of feeling discomfort. Intuitively we know that isn’t possible. Fearing what we’ll find makes us reluctant to drop in. It keeps us running.”
We can run, but we cannot hide. Eventually we’ll trip over the debris.
So I do the work of sorting and deciding what I keep, pitch or embrace. Doing this, I clean up my studio and dust off my soul.
Sooner or later we all face cleaning up messes. Self-compassion is critical, along with laughter, silence, writing, talks with friends, walks and chocolate. Well that is my formula. You likely have your own. It takes self-acceptance to drop in at times like these. The desire to distract ourselves is seductive when we feel vulnerable. Yet, if we stay open we can discover priceless gifts in the midst of a mess.
Once I have clarity I say to myself, “The work it took to get here is so worth it.”
But, I can’t say that just yet.
I have more sorting to do.
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- 2023 Women Writing to Unfold (Taos, NM)
- 21 Aug 23