When I was struggling in Atlanta with my mental and physical health, just trying to keep my head above water, to find a reason for living, Betsy came into my life and introduced me to moving paint. She was a model to me of where I wanted to be with creativity again. She was consistent and bold and a little bit wild. I was restrained, blocked and producing very little.
After so many years away from the creative work that keeps me inspired, I found my way back to myself through the pages of old books and found poetry. It was permission to NOT be an artist, but use the tools and medium of art to release and relinquish the hard stuff of life. I had forgotten how to do that and why it was absolutely essential to my sanity.
Betsy helped guide my work and give me new ideas. What better person to kick off Feature Friday again now that I’ve come back to my daily writing in this online space.
Here’s Betsy’s artwork and words…
My morning begins in the wee hours that many consider night. My brain is one of those annoying morning birds singing right outside the window before the sun has even started to light the sky.
As I wake up, my brain is singing.
My husband’s isn’t.
It looks a lot like this:
After 30 years together, I’ve learned not to talk first thing…most of the time.
I wash my face, put on work out clothes and make my way downstairs. Sometimes work out clothes mean that I’ll hit the gym or practice yoga and sometimes it simply means I have a deep love of soft clothes.
I’m easily distracted by noice and sensory input, so I love the house in the early morning when it’s dark and quiet.
I make coffee, get breakfast, drink water.
Set Apart Space & Time
And then I sit.
At first in silence and then with books and pages.
This is an old practice for me. Books and pages in the early morning. It started with religious have-to’s and should’s, was abandoned for a time, and then in the season of small children and deconstruction became the one thing that I could count on.
Set apart space and set apart time. It’s where I wrestle through questions and speak my truth. Where my creativity gets free reign and where I dream about what’s next. It’s where I put my fretting into perspective and where I shout from the mountain tops and unfurl my wings. In an ideal morning I spend time reading and writing. With both words and paint.
Setting up the Month
At the beginning of the month, I pull books for the month and leave them stacked on the desk. I read about a book a week. I always pull more than I’ll get to. The stack consists of:
- A book for my brain
- A book for my soul
- A book for my craft – writing, painting, creative practice in general
- Solid fiction – usually recommended by someone
This year I’m also reading a chapter of The Mandala Workbook. It has 12 chapters. It was a no brainer. I read the chapter at the beginning of the month and pick an exercise a week. Super chill usually drawn in the margins of my planner.
On the daily, I read:
- a poem
- a sacred Christian text
Covered in Grace and Paint Splatters
It may seem complicated or too much, this morning ritual. The thing is it’s covered in grace and paint splatters. I don’t get upset if I forget Hafiz or move one of February’s books to March and then April.
It’s all about opening up space to listen.
And some mornings I don’t move past sitting with my coffee in silence.
Addendum: A new component to mornings is the addictive draw of screens and information. The cold hard truth is that as soon as I awaken, I begin the battle to ignore screens. I wish I could say that I was great at it, I’m not. I usually only win the phone battle if it’s in the other room.