Did I ever dream that when I began this adventure that almost 2 weeks would get swallowed up by pain and grief? My father passed away the day after my last blog entry and we got the news in the midst of volleyball championships and the night before our church pageant. I’d planned to blog about the backdrop I’d painted, the massive cookie icing we had planned as a family... and all of that just disappeared in the rush to book a last minute plane ticket to Tulsa for his funeral. I traveled as light as I could, left the laptop behind and wrote my thoughts out in my journal instead. From a blogger’s point of view, I fell of the face of the earth. From a daughter’s point of view, I went to honour my father’s life. From a dragon’s point of view, I crawled into a cave to lick my wounds. Time to step back out into the light.
Though I didn’t come up with an activity for myself each day, I still found that some of the key things I am learning on this adventure will now kick in automatically. There are three things that I can count on to help me relax no matter what life throws at me. The first is taking deep even breaths as I think “Inhale, Exhale, Inhale, Exhale” to myself, picturing the little green and blue icons I created for this site. The second one is finding any random patterned surface and looking for images. This worked well with tiles on airport washroom floors, stucco on hotel ceilings, carpet in church waiting rooms and clouds over unfamiliar cities. The third one is to open my sketchbook that travels everywhere with me and just let random words or images flow out through the pen and onto the paper. Sometimes it will start with an object I want to sketch and other times, the images are more iconic, drawn from memory rather than real life. All three of these automatically calm me down or give me something creative to focus on as an anchor.
This past week also taught me a lot about Celebrating a person’s Life even as you mourn the loss their Death creates. It was hard reconciling my memories with the person who meant so much to so many people in a city far away. It was important to be there to support his newest family as they grieved with the fresh loss but also the peace as Dad’s physical suffering ended. It was comforting to hear all of the stories of how my father touched the lives of the many families into which he delivered babies in a caring and prayerful way. It was healing to be able to hug siblings and spend time with them when we are usually scattered so far around the globe, sharing memories of Dad that were private to us.
Creativity surrounds us no matter where we go and what we face. We just have to look for it, reach out for it and draw it close for comfort and inspiration.
INHALE: Living Creatively teaches us to be better prepared for every adventure, even Death. Every project has an end. No project is perfect as we always seem to point out to those who compliment us. Creativity sometimes carries us to create things that are very different that what we first sat down to make, just as our lives sometimes take turns in directions we didn’t expect. Through it all, despite it all, Creative opportunities linger joyfully around us, hoping that we will chose to MAKE something, JOIN in the dance, WRITE to inspire ourselves or others, SING rather than remain silent and GIVE to the world instead of just taking. The choice is always ours.
EXHALE: Go looking for a photo of someone you loved who is no longer with you. Find a quiet spot and write down words or memories of what that person meant to you, how they helped you to grow, what you miss most about them and what special memories give you comfort even though they are gone. Celebrating someone’s life and how it touched you doesn’t just happen at a funeral or a memorial service... the very best of what someone brought to your life carries on within you for the rest of your days. Celebrate that gift.