“We Can’t Solve Problems By Using The Same Kind Of Thinking We Used When We Created Them” Albert Einstein
Simple logic, huh? Consider how much time is spent doing just that. As a therapist who is trained to help people untangle dilemmas and figure out what makes them and everyone else in their lives tick, I used to think of myself as a ‘go-to problem solver’. These days, I much prefer calling myself a ‘solution finder’, since if I use the former description, the focus is still on the word ‘problem’.
The free online dictionary defines it in this way:
1. A question to be considered, solved, or answered: math problems; the problem of how to arrange transportation.
Creativity is my life blood, although the expression is generally in the form of words on a page, drumming, singing and movement to music. I usually dress colorfully and today, I donned a lavender hoodie that reads Create Your Bliss that I acquired on Saturday while at the Mind Body Spirit Expo in Philadelphia. The purveyor was Ron Dinehart, he too a creative kindred spirit from The Universe Knows, which makes items with three word affirmations inscribed on them. Beneath it were plum hued soft cotton plush pants, followed by raspberry sparkly socks and the pièce de résistance….rainbow splashed heart, star and moon shoes that I originally got 15 years or more ago when I began clowning around. I had wanted clown shoes in which I could dance around, rather than the big, floppy variety. I decided to dress that way today to brighten my own mood. See, most people see the image that I choose to project…the light, the dazzle, the effervescence…when that isn’t always the case. In the past few years, most notably since my beloved mother made her transition, I have noticed a flattening of my moods; not depression, as my well trained, psychiatric social worker’s mind is quick to chime in. More introspective and less the social gadabout that I have been most of my life. It feels like taking pause; a resting pose, as in yoga.
I decided to join a few friends at a wonderland for artists of all kinds called Alchemy Open Arts Studio in Doylestown, PA shephered by my friend Renee Bures who is a talented art therapist. Imagine if you will, a warehouse filled with art supplies that include paint, clay, a kiln in which to bake it, fabric, markers, beads, glue, jewelry pieces, carboard, construction paper, letters, googley eyes for dolls, shards of glass, metal, ceramic, boxes, magazines….and the best part is, you can meander freely from medium to medium, mixing them, changing your mind, letting the Muse guide you. A musical mix creates the soundscape and the laugher and oohhs and ahhs from the folks gathered there as they appreciated each others’ handiwork, filled the air. All different kinds of tea bolstered us as well. One of the most playful aspects of the space is a swing that is connected to the piping above. Of course I couldn’t resist. Before collecting the items I wanted, I covered my clothes with a man’s large shirt/already paint splotched smock. The sleeves drooped down over my hands and the shirt-tails came down mid thigh. It did its job well and kept my clothes pigment free. My hands, however, didn’t fare as well, with overlapping colors coating them.
I started out playing with clay, thinking at first that I wanted to create a pin. After rolling it around for about 10 minutes, the 5 year old 54 year old was drawn in by the sparkly fabric paints that I splotched on a black cloth napkin in an attempt to write messages on its surface….and then the inner critic clamored her way on through….”You really should be more focused and productive you know. You had an idea that you wanted to work on here and this isn’t getting you any closer to that.” Holy moley, Batman! Way to spoil the fun for the 5 year old. I could see her little face scrunching up, ready to cry as she felt squelched. Then the nurturing mama stepped in, took her hand and brought her over to carboard and more paints and said, “Just play and watch what happens.” To that, she added glue and letters, fragments of broken pottery and laid them all before her. At first, the paint mixed and blended, red, blue purple, swirly and scratchy and then silver bubbling up hues asked to climb on board, creating a heart shape in the center. It was then that it occurred to me that this is the way I live my life. What people see is the silver, glowing heart, but not the mish mosh, blended colors beneath it. Broken pieces are a necessary component that I attempt to hide so that people don’t see them.
Messages came through…as is in the upper left hand corner. I am all to the right. To me that means I am one with all that is AND I am all those things (the radiant heart and what lies under it) To the left of the heart are the words ask with. It has been my experience that when I ask with love, all of the answers come tumbling on through.
The answers may not always make sense, like jumbled up dream fragments that require sorting out and untangling. I am allowing for the creative juices to flow, knowing that I can no more control them, than I could halt the storms that sometimes sling their rain and wind or the traffic that line the highways and byways. It helps to know that I myself am a force of nature and that while driving my car, I’m traffic too. One last thing I added to the picture, was green along the border, since this stuff really is my growing edge.
Whenever I wanted to experience the reflection of abundance from the Universe, I would have lunch at a Chinese restaurant around the corner from where I worked in Ambler, PA. It’s called Golden Great Wall and it differs not a bit from most suburban places and the menu in and of itself isn’t unusual . What makes it special is the owner, aptly named Grace who always greets me at the door with her bright smile and the same words “Long time, no see. You work hard?” She then ushers me to a table and pours water and tea and then recites the order that I generally place that shows me I am a regular. “Egg drop soup, no scallions, brown rice, chopsticks.” And then whatever the entrée is, which varies from time to time between two or three. By the time the soup is halfway gone, she has come out with the main course. Before I have taken a few bites, she asks: “You like?” A few more minutes pass and she has already refilled my water glass, topping it off a couple of times. One time when I was there, it occurred to me that this was definitely symbolic of the way I had been perceiving my life. At that restaurant, my glass is never half empty or half full, it is always full, almost to overflowing.
A short while later, I knocked over the glass and actually ‘saw’ myself doing it in advance, (kind of like when you lock your keys in the car) but couldn’t catch it before it splattered water and ice cubes on the table and floor. I got up to get a towel to clean it up and then carried the rapidly melting cubes to the bathroom sink. On the way, I passed a table on which there were plates of freshly made veggie sushi. I commented on them and asked Grace if they were going to be new menu items. She shook her head and then said, “You have some.” I thanked her and asked for one. She wasn’t about to just give me one. “No, you take more.”, as she put two on a plate. A moment later, she came bearing a third. Clearly there was a message I wasn’t getting. I willing accepted her generosity.
When it came time for the fortune cookie, I opened it with eager anticipation, since this was a restaurant at which (a year or so apart) I twice received the same fortune that reads: “God will give you everything you want.” I keep it in my wallet as reminder of how openhanded Spirit is. Today’s was just as powerful, but not particularly unique: “Your happiness is wrapped up in your view of life.”
I haven’t worked at the hospital since June and haven’t visited with Grace since then, so I guess it’s time to stop by. Even so, I know I am fortunate, regardless of whether a slip of paper tucked into a sweet treat tells me that I am.
So often, I (and probably many of you), am reluctant to accept what is offered to me by a beneficent Cosmos; because of feelings of unworthiness or the perception of being greedy if I have more than what I believe I should have. What I am learning many times over, is that if I welcome the profusion of gifts, I have more to offer back to those whom I encounter. A spiritual truth is that we can’t give what we ‘ain’t got and that we can’t fill someone else’s cup if ours is empty. So, I thank Grace for standing in for the Divine giving force and keeping my cup full. May yours always be full as well. Drink deep.
http://youtu.be/5IvlMHAbZfc Money Comes To Me Cassendre Xavier a.k.a. Amethyste Rah.
Even as I wrote the title for this Bliss Blog entry, I could feel the little twitches of “What will people think if I declare that statement?” That’s what tells me that Christine Arylo wrote this book for me and everyone else who has ever doubted their love-ability or felt a need to earn love from others. This writer, teacher, love scatterer and co-creator of The Inner Mean Girl Reform School (with her friend Amy Ahlers) has penned her challenge. I, for one, have chosen to accept it. I have no problem looking in the mirror and saying those three words to myself that most long to hear from others. I have no hesitation teaching others how to do that. It’s when I step outside my comfort zone of the facade that I am self loving, that I feel ‘less than’. I watch women who are bodacious and brilliantly shining, and wonder what inner force allows them to step into the spotlight without being concerned that others will judge them as being arrogant or too outrageous. Think Madonna. She has been through so many image incarnations and re-creations that I gotta wonder how much of it is her own inner prompting or a reaction to audience/fan input. I desire to be so supremely self confident that it doesn’t matter what other people think, the numbers of attendees at my workshops, the book sales or digits in my bank account. Such is the flow and content of Arylo’s book.
She begins with the idea that somewhere along the line, we absorbed the idea that we aren’t enough as is. For some it was being told that outright and for others it was an assumed belief based on societal and cultural standards. She invites the reader to imagine how many girls and women would be spared eating disorders and toxic and abusive relationships if they accepted their enough-ness. Arylo ponders how many of us would speak to dear friends, younger women or girls in the ways we speak to ourselves either out loud or in our heads. I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who would say the disparaging things I say to myself!
Throughout this pocket sized Valentine, in vibrant red, pink and white, Arylo sprinkles what she calls Self Love Pulse Check in which she asks values clarification questions that measure the readers perception of herself and her value. Examples include: “I feel nourished, replenished and fulfilled.” “I am supported and well taken care of.” “I am overwhelmed and exhausted.” “I feel like the world is on my shoulders.”
Fun and playful exercises abound that she calls Daring Acts of Love running the gamut from: Smother and Mother Yourself With Compassion which offers maternal loving compassion and the words “You are doing the best you can and that is enough.” to Sleep With Your Inner Wisdom For A Week which looks like writing to the wise woman within.
Anecdotes from her personal experience and those she knows, add an air of practicality to what otherwise might seem to some to be jargon and jive, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I have used many of these ideas prior to reading the book and will continue to engage in them as a result of reading this refresher. I felt a particular kinship, with Arylo, since we have friends and inspiration Muses in common, including Karen Drucker whose song ( Gentle With Myself) she quotes “I will only go as fast as the slowest part of me feels safe to go.” It has long been one of my self-love mantras, that I pull out in emergencies as well.
The cherry on the top of this scrumptious sundae is the reminder to be a Love Ambassador, sharing what you have learned, being a role model and example. She sends the reader off into the world with the words “You are a beacon of love. Keep shining!” and so I shall~
http://youtu.be/ihWYx-QJ95I Gentle With Myself by Karen Drucker