Friday, March 17, 2006

Some times it's a little thing

that holds the key to what you are searching for. This little thing for me came in the form of a small blue book that I picked up in a bookstore somewhere, some time ago. Book stores, with a music department and a coffee bar; yarn shops, hardware stores, office supply stores, and a good art supply store are five of my lifes great pleasures.

For months this little book resided in my bathroom in a basket of reading material kept there for THOSE times when!!!
Caught you grinning. You maintain a Bathroom "library" too?

I don't read "real" books in the tub, catelogs don't count. I always seem to get water on the pages and I value books too much to do that to them; besides there is the fact that it is a rare thing for me to take a long soaking bath in the first place. I don't have time for a bubble filled tub. Not when my studio beckons. 99 and 44% of the time I shower quickly; soap up, rinse off and get on with it. So this little book has been sitting in the Bathroom library on a small table next to the tub for several months. Yes.... I had leafed through the book on occassions when I was doing you know what. On occassions I'd found some words of wisdom in it that made me say " hum" or "aha" too.

There is a saying, Chinese I believe, that says,"When the time is right the teacher will appear". Well I guess after several months of me picking the book up only to put it back down I finally reached a place where I was ready to read it and hear what it had to say. Having read the book, completed the exercises in it, I internalized the lessons it had to teach me. My heart and soul felt the change.

Completing the exercises in the book wasn't a breeze. The little book contains some contemplative quotes and soul searching questions that I needed to think through carefully before answering. Once the questions were answered and the results stared me in the face, there was no denying that I was not loving the life I had or living the life I wanted.

Two weeks ago I removed the book from the Bathroom library and placed it on my bed by my journal. Each evening I read then re-read several pages in the book with serious thoughtfulness and I began to journal about the light bulb moments contained therein. As I listed my priorities and my values as the book suggested, very quickly I realized that I was not happy and that I'd been pretending for a very long time that I was.

In truth for 5 years I've been standing still in front of an emotional wall I couldn't climb over, walk around or find my way through. That wall metaphorically speaking was the visons of the life I'd had 6 years ago and before I knew my husband was dying. My wall was the vision of the life Phil and I'd planned to have together in our retirement. The wall represent my anger with Phil for dying and leaving me and my anger with God for allowing him to. The wall most of all also represented a life I couldn't have, yet I couldn't let go of wanting.

I can say as an excuse for myself, that the last five years was the period after a great loss that experts warn you about and tell you NOT to make any drastic changes or rash decision during. So I tried not to make changes or make rash decision and so there I stood. Standing still but not entirely vegetating; I made quilts, sold several, taught and took classes but I was not blooming as I knew I was capable of doing. I was not in joy as I knew I could be and had been in the past.

On subsequent days of journaling I realized that the wall represented the life others thought I should be living as well. The little book and my journaling was very instrumental in my accepting the reality of the WHAT IS and made me see that I could no longer live my life based on the WHAT WAS.

The book helped me think my way through the wall and not entirely as if by magic but due to some hard work, I am now on the otherside. My passage through the wall took a lot of soul searching, journaling, tears and letting go. It took the ears of a emphathic friend and soon to be ordained paster to be, the encouragement of all three of my adult children and a couple of other friends to do it. Now I have new goals, new values, a new vision of what constitute success for me and a better sense of who I am and want to be now. With anticipation I am making plans for a new life filled with growth, joy and adventure.

Three quotes from the book that got me thinking .

"There is but one life for each of us: our own" EURIPIDES

"We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about." CHARLES KINGSLEY

"If a (wo)man has a talent and cannot use it, (s)he has failed. If (s)he has a talent and uses only half of it, (s)he has partly failed. If (s)he has a talent and learns somehow to use the whole of it, (s)he has gloriously succeeded and won a satisfaction and a triump few (wo)men ever know" THOMAS WOLFE

I guess at this point I should tie all this musing and soul searching to the topic of quilts because that is what my blog is suppose to be about. So here goes. I am an ARTIST. I am no longer a MOTHER, for in reality I am the mother of three very independent adults. I am no longer a WIFE. I am the widow Yeager, gee, how old fashioned that sounds, but it is the TRUTH. As an independent woman my priorities are now ME based. That's not selfish, it is self nurturing. I no longer have to take into account what ANYONE will think or how anyone will feel about the decisions I make, for this is after all MY LIFE.

I came to the realization that at this point in my life friendships should be based on commoness of purpose, interest and values too. Friendship should be about mutal support, encouragement and not about NEEDINESS. At this stage of my life I do not want to be anyones CRUTCH. I want only to concern myself with carrying my own weight around and I feel bless that I am no ones burden.

By August I plan to be back in school taking art and fiber art classes. I plan to downsize so I can afford to do this. I plan to make only those quilts I truly have a passion for without regard to whether anyone might be interested in buying them. I will enter only those competitons and answer only those calls for entry that interest me simply because I WANT TO do it. I no longer care if others get to know me the artist or get to know my work or enter exhibitions because there is the possiblity of a sale or a teaching engagement as a result of someone seeing what I do.

What I want most is time for quiet meditation; the means, ability and opportunity for continued learning/education be it offered in a formal and/or in an informal settings. I will continue sharing my knowledge of quilts with others in ways that do not require me to spend days getting ready to teach or days spent afterwards getting my studio and life back in order after I have taught. I want to create art that satisfies only me and I want the time and place to do it. I want the luxury of failing in my attempts to be better at my art and not fear that in failing I will miss a deadline imposed by someone other than myself. I have promised myself that I will never again feel guilty about my bio rhythms that are not in sync with the "Normal" work day world. Being an Artist means I have no time clock to punch and want never to be in a position where I have to do so ever again.

I wish all of you a life of your own design.

The quote on the back of the book reads," No matter what your life looks and feels like right now. It's never to early to begin building or too late to begin remodeling."


Diane said...

What a beautiful, thoughtful entry. Sounds like that book is really a gift for you right now.

jenclair said...

I have to echo Diane's comment about this entry. It certainly makes me take some time to ponder various aspects. The quotes, all of them, are so simple, so true, so often overlooked in practice. I have remodeled my life several times, each time for the better, but still go through periods of wandering in the wilderness without clear vision. Thanks. And best wishes for success in "designing your life."

mary m. said...

You are a very wise woman, Yuanita.

ginger said...

how lucky I am to have access to this wonderful tool called the WWW so that not only do I get to see your beautiful art but to have some of my own struggles/visions/goals so well defined by your own experience ...thanks for being there for me and posting this ..Ginger

Claire said...

Thanks for the great post. I wish you all the best for your new direction and outlook.