life challenges and changes…

As winter begins here in the hemisphere where I live, my little household has been dealing with health challenges that have forced us to slow down… but these challenges have also brought reminders of blessings, and support (seen and unseen), and priorities, and creative solutions.

As I recover from an illness at the same time my husband recovers from surgery, we’re taking this time to rest, to be together, to be grateful for what we have, and to think about our next steps.

Before I got sick in November, I had been working regularly on fiction – and I’ll be back to that very soon.

Fiction writing has been a through-line in my life for as long as I’ve been able to form letters into words. There have been some bumps in the road resulting in times not writing, but over and over I continue to get reminders that it’s one of my purposes in this life… And I’m looking forward to getting back to work on my current project.

And although I haven’t felt up to writing during this time of my own sickness and my husband’s health issues and surgery, I did make it to canvas a few times. Only for short spurts now and then, but even that much helps me stay connected to creativity and the painting flow.

This has been a time of taking it easy. Resting. Replenishing. Nourishing body and soul and spirit.

It has been a time of finding creative solutions to deal with limitations of sickness and surgery… but we’re doing it.

It has been a time of connecting even more strongly to my spiritual faith, trust, and knowing all will be well (no matter what).

It has been a time of love – love between me and my husband, love given and received to family and friends, reconnecting with people, and our cute Chloe bringing her usual joy and loving presence into our household.

And it has been a time of becoming more clear about how I’m being guided to live and spend my time, what I’m being guided to do, and what I’m being guided to let go of.

This feels like the right time for these shifts… I became another year older last weekend, the wheel of the year has just made another turn with the Solstice and we’re about to shift into days lengthening but in winter’s grip for a few months, and one year is about to end and another begin.

One thing I’m letting go of is doing work as Subtle Harmony.

Since 2010, my Subtle Harmony shop has been on Etsy with my crafts, creations, and offerings, and then a couple of years later it expanded to be my own Subtle Harmony website in addition to my Etsy shop.

But it’s time to let go of doing my work under that name, and it’s time to let go of doing certain work completely. Whether some of what I once did with Subtle Harmony will return one day… I honestly don’t know the answer to that right now. Even if it does, it won’t be with that name.

What I do know right now is that I’m being guided to focus on writing, especially fiction.

I’m being guided to continue to create – and at some point I may offer those creations again, just not with the Subtle Harmony name.

And I’m being guided to continue to focus on self care, soul nourishment, connection to joy, and living true.

What I do might look a bit different now…

But it feels very right.

autobiography and creating…

I’ve had a few days away from blogging during this month’s September blogging challenge as my energy has been taken up with weather and family and personal happenings.

As soon as it became obvious Hurricane Irma would mean evacuations for some of my family members – including my 88-year-old mother who lives in an assisted living facility on an island off the Atlantic coast – weather once again became a focus for me.

These days I give myself a lot of room, a lot of space, a lot of permission, a lot of grace, to release things, or back away from things, when that’s what I need to do for my self-care, my joy, my well-being, and/or my life-stuff-happenings.

Before deciding to do the blogging challenge, I gave myself lots of gentle permission to skip days if needed, or stop altogether… just taking it day-by-day for myself. And that’s what I’m doing.

Today I’m still texting and talking with family and friends who are in the path of, or being impacted by, the storm. I’m still keeping an eye on the weather news. I’m still wondering how our weather here will be effected. We don’t get hurricanes where I live, but our weather can be impacted by them (with rain, high winds, tornadoes) and sometimes we’ll end up with a tropical storm or tropical depression from a once-hurricane… and that’s looking increasingly possible for us with Irma.

What’s going on with the weather is very much on my mind and in my heart.

But I’m back to the blog (at least for today), and I’m posting something about today’s nudge/prompt:

Share something you’ve created that feels like it’s a part of your autobiography.

There are several different things that fall into this category for me – things I’ve written, things I’ve painted, things I’ve made – but the first two things that immediately jumped to my mind are two particular paintings. I couldn’t quickly find a photo of the full canvas for the first one, so I’m going to share a bit about the other one.

This one…

The photo was taken at the beginning of February 2015. Some of the painting was done in the weeks of January and first few days of February that year, but most of the many layers and components of the painting were painted in 2014 over a period that spanned much of that year.

That year was a year of dealing with the grief of my father’s death in 2013, and the change and grief of my mother’s move several hundred miles away and her entry into the world of an assisted living facility, and the grief of the changes in some family relationships.

That year was a year of a long physical recovery after a fall in January 2014 injured my right hand (and I’m right-handed) and my leg.

That year was a year of facing more losses-to-come as my beloved brother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer. (He passed away 14 months ago.)

Painting, and especially painting on canvas as I stood in front of my table-top easel, was (as it continues to be) solace for me and joy for me… even though sometimes there were so many emotions and tears spilling from me that didn’t exactly feel joyful. Still, though, painting was where I turned. Painting was one of the main things helping me keep myself together.

There was a period of time that year when I couldn’t do much painting because of my hand injury. During that time, I tried to paint with my left hand, or tried to find some way to hold my brush for at least a little while, or sometimes just painted with my fingers.

It was a few months before I could actually wrap my fingers around a brush (or pen or pencil) again, but still I found a way to paint. And once my hand was recovered enough to hold objects like paintbrushes again, I painted more and more.

This painting is autobiographical for me because it encompasses all of that for me: the memories, the grief, the injury, the tears, the trying to heal (emotionally and physically), the processing of all the feelings, the trying to be okay in the midst of everything, the giving myself permission to paint just because I love it and no matter how it looks, and the wanting to believe that all will be well.

The paintings I do on the canvases at my table-top easel are intuitive paintings, and I just let myself do whatever comes. Whatever color seems to want to be painted. However and whichever way the brush (or my fingers or whatever) seem to want to move.

I don’t paint at the canvas for the painting to look a certain way.

I paint at the canvas for the process of it, for the doing of it, and for joy of it (even if I’m releasing some tough emotions at the time).

This painting holds the energy of that time, that year, in my life. It holds my energy. It holds my tears and my hopes.

And that’s why it feels like it’s part of my autobiography.

passings, memories, and the soundtrack of life…

The first news I saw this morning was that Walter Becker, co-founder of the band Steely Dan, had died.

I’ve written before (a main example is in this post) about the power of music and memories.

And as I – and the singers and songwriters and musicians I grew up listening to – get older, and the years and the decades pass, there are more and more deaths of people who have been part of the soundtrack of my life.

In just the time between the beginning of 2016 and now, there have been several (not a complete list by any means):

Prince. George Michael. David Bowie. Maurice White. Leonard Cohen. Al Jarreau. Leon Russell. Glen Campbell. Paul Kantner. Gregg Allman.

And Glenn Frey.

I mention Glenn Frey separately because the music of the Eagles has been extra-huge in my life. And…  it was after watching the documentary History of the Eagles on Netflix shortly after Glenn’s death in January 2016, that I felt compelled to finally do a final revision of one of my novels – In New Harmony – and publish it. (You can find it right here.)

Watching that documentary, which I’ve seen several times now, simply does something to my creativity, especially when it comes to writing fiction.

Watching that documentary makes me WANT to write – and, specifically, write fiction – so much that my fingers start to almost physically itch to do it.

Listening to Eagles music does something to me very similar to how I feel when I watch that documentary. For the past year and a half, I’ve come close several times to writing a blog post with the title “the Eagles are my spirit animal” but I simply haven’t been blogging much… (So maybe I’ll write that blog post sometime, but I’m just not sure when.)

Music is a muse for me.

And music is a memory-holder and time-traveller for me.

That’s why when there’s news like today’s passing of Walter Becker, I feel an impact.

Steely Dan’s music has definitely been part of my life’s soundtrack. I’m 55, so the music of the 70s and 80s will always have a unique and special place in my heart and my memories, and Steely Dan songs are part of that for me: junior high and high school in the 70s, beach trips with my friends, going to see FM on a Friday night at the movies.

When I decided to post on facebook this morning with a link to a youtube video of a Steely Dan song, I had trouble deciding which song to choose. I finally decided on “Deacon Blues.”

As I said in that facebook post: Someone else in the soundtrack of my life has passed. I always feel sadness along with the nostalgia… and I always feel so grateful for the music shared with the world.

RIP, Walter Becker and so many other song-makers.

And thank you for the music.