i joined up... feeling all brave and like a big girl....
Connie asked us to write an introduction to the group.
And of course, i wanted to tell the truth (and have everyone like me) seem interesting (and have everyone like me) and be funny (and have everyone like me)... so i wrote this -
Kia ora tatau... My name is Jane and I am a New Zealander who is 45 on paper but thinks she is still 18. I have 2 girls (7 and 9yrs) and a lovely husband, a house with green all around it and a big bespectacled inner critic who is very good at bossing me out of my creative urges....
i have powerful creative urges, which i don't trust as much as i could, squander with lack of focus and commitment and caring too much about what other people think/feel/had for dinner...
It is time for me to get my BIG on, to acquaint myself with fearless ... i know that when i trust i am just one BIG juicy peice of gorgeous so i am here to learn to trust
so good to "meet" you all!
that is the truth. I have been noticing myself doing all those things (especially frittering away time on the computer)
but Connie challenged me
she asked me to rewrite the introduction claiming my big juicy self.
She wants my big juicy self to be on the course... not the little scared one (although she will show up too of course)
i can't tell you the level of disquiet i went through...
Is it telling the truth to leave the scared bits out? Am i claiming the scared bits legitimately or am i giving myself an excuse? Dare i claim the juicy bits and put it out there? What does the claiming of that juice require of me? Do i have the metaphorical balls?
Part of me offered running away as a choice - "No-one would blame you, who needs to be required to be other than who they are to join a blimmen course?"
But a little voice asked me to just consider the possibility that i am really juicy underneath all that crap,
under the littlemaking voices the excuses the self deprecation (and yes i did consider pointing out the cultural requirement of self deprecation to Connie...i am a kiwi afterall!)
i got shaken to my bones...
But i want to claim my juice
i want to sing my song
i want to paint whatever it is that keeps picking at the lock on my brain and my heart....
i want BIG AND JUICY
So i wrote this
The BIG JUICY JANE (heretofore known as BJJ) who is showing up for this workshop is...
I am a woman of indeterminate age who makes you wonder. I am full of creative spark, joy, depth, soul and juice. I nourish myself and others by just follwing my big juicy heart. I am passionate, gutsy and connected to the divine....All of this flows into my work which is not always pretty - but then beauty never is....
I think my critic can go (this part is obscured for the sake of public decency) and should go and find a new job in my life (something useful like vaccuming would be good)- the time for trying to "help" by dimming my light is O.V.E.R
When i start painting, I, BJJ will change the world.
i paint, i am a silversmith, i am a recovering nurse, i am a blogger and a photographer....
so i may now lapse into referring to myself as BJJ from time to time but you'll still love me right???
"She went home because memories collect in us and form aquifers of meaning below the surface of our lives."
Nuala O'Faolain. The Story of Chicago May.
I have been reading the book, quoted above because i wanted to be friends with Nuala O'Faolain. Now i have just found out she died a few years ago and i am mourning a little. She wrote with a heart and soul and courage i have only found a few times in my life as a reader (of course Elizabeth Cunningham is right there too)
But this quote just reached right into my belly and poked bits too tender to be poked right now...
At that prod, my ears became attuned to the silent running of these rivers of memory, deep deep in my body.
They sound dangerous and beautiful.
They make me feel like i am looking from the very top, at a thunderous waterfall. As my eye tries and fails, tries and fails to catch droplets to follow to the bottom, my body is secretly listening to the silent call "jump jump jump".
Nuala's words tell me that deep in my cells i have little rivers of fear and joy. Of longing and releif. Of tenderness and harshness. These little tributaries sometimes carry my heart and my life to places that perplex and wound me, confound and expand me.
But they are deep and although they run in me, some of them are not of me.
Do i need to fish in these rivers? Swim in these rivers? Dredge these rivers?
Do i need to drill down to make this flow surface where i, as an adult, can mount a clean up operation?
Do i just need to go to the silent deep and sit a while?
I have a strong connection with the word aquifer. That secret, whispering, gentle, flowing word.
One of the spiritual sites i treasure in my life is Nieu Bethesda. it is in the Karoo in South Africa and the home of one of my art heroines, Helen Martin. The water in this town runs down little open culverts, in front of every house and comes from aquifers deep in the mountains. The water has filtered through the mountains over thousands of years and the magic of the flow of that water is palpable.
So I see that the aquifers that run through my body are ancient too. After all, i was present as an ovum in my mother's body when she was gestating in her mother's body. My cells are made of history. Some of that history is clean like the Nieu Bethesda water.
Some of my history is toxic combustible goo, like the oil spilling into the gulf.
(i read this morning about a whale found dead in the Gulf)
I am in overwhelm about the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico
I die a little each time i read articles like this
or see the images of animals covered with oil, knowing that they stand to die despite any efforts by the volunteers cleaning them up, because they have ingested too much of the toxic oil already
or think about the people cleaning up who are likely to suffer health problems as a result
and then i think about Nigeria and how they have been subjected to blatant disregard in the way oil companies have dealt with spill after leak for decades More oil is spilt each year in Nigeria than in this catastrophe in the Gulf.
and i get friggin angry
i hate being a member of a human species that can be so greedy for cheap consumption that they are prepared to put the wellbeing of entire ecosystems -including other humans at risk - all for the sake of money.
and then i read that the new zealand government have granted concessions to drill 5kms off our pristine coastline
FOR FUCKS SAKE!
i feel powerless to communicate just how wrong i think it is
just how sorry i am
just how i wish we could go back
but then i drive a car i am pleased to get cheaper petrol for
i use plastic and although i am appalled at the amount of plastic i throw away i still use it...
i am part of the problem
and then i am ashamed
o i know i didn't ask them to cut all those corners on the well and that i would have argued against it (i hope) if i was in the board room....but i am part of a culture that values oil
and sitting here in New Zealand i feel powerless to help clean up the mess that to some extent i am responsible for
but last night i went to a singing meditation and we sang to Yamaya - a sea Goddess, acknowledging the harm the sea has suffered, acknowledging our anguish...
i added a prayer that we would all treat mother earth as if she were our own beloved body (maybe we already do but we are too busy smoking and taking drugs and overworking that body....)
and yet in the middle of our circle there were paraffin candles burning....we had all driven to get there....
our entire lives are so entwined with the bloody stuff that i felt even more furious...
then i saw that anger as a parallel to the oil...
like that the oil is a metaphor for the subterreanean vitriole that we try not to acknowledge, that is explosive, combustible
that unless we protect that forcefull flow, unless we maintain the pathways to get the oil of anger out, that oil is going to spill out and poison us.....
i think we are all inextricably part of the same whole
what is done to one is done to all
and until we take responsibility and live our lives acknowledging our impact and our connectedness we will cut corners and toxic shit will spill where it will
"Having a place is integral to the formation of a healthy ecological identity. Being "placed" in a landscape shapes the mind - the contours of the hills, the rivers and lakes and the forests become mirrored in a person's way of being. To have one's place in the mountains is, in a sense, to become mountainous in ones' identity. Is it not then, as so often is the case in our industrial cultrue ,that to have on place to call home is to become NOWHERE in one's identity? One becomes... disconnected, disenchanted: displaced."
Jason Kirkey. The Salmon in the Spring.
The next idea from this book that took my heart for a walk was this one... do we, in order to be fully human have to know our place...
is this sense of dis-place-ment that he speaks of, at the centre of the restlessness of spirit and the loneliness that we feel
is our seeking for peace of mind and our sense of self as simple as losing our heart to the land
i wonder does this scare us because we know just what we have done to the planet - all the taming and the choking and the dismissing - is that part of the anguish in our own souls
if we can find the place on the planet that we feel "placed" - that we connect with - i believe experienced as a sense of belonging or knowing even a sense of deep love - then we have a chance to become re-placed...
to rediscover our sense of place is to replace our old ways - to replace our sense of self as lonely and searching with a sense of self as here and belonging
it will require us to listen hard
it will require us to heal
and i certainly will require us to change our ways of being on the earth...
but when one belongs, when one is truely connected it seems the need to dominate just falls away...
Maori have a word whenua (pronounced Fen -oo-a a is like the u is pronounced in up) which means land. It also means placenta. When a baby is born the whenua is taken to the ancestoral land and buried soon after birth. This returns the child's first companion to the earth, connects that child forever, to that place and the cycle of life is acknowledged honoured and complete.
My whenua got thrown away.
Home on this beautiful planet has many views for me.
This view in the photo is the place that is my place right now, the place i see when i look out of my window... a small rise, pasture where there is supposed to be swamp and bush... a small remnant of regrowing forest, not healthy because it is grazed under and the cattle eat the regenerating seedlings, trample roots, chew bark... but it is there, with a dark secretness about the shadows underneath it...
This place is not wild but the green feeds me in a way i can't explain, and the regrowing bush, the wildness which still could be on the side of the steep hillock, whispers to me about the need for my wildness to be protected, about the climb and that there is something to see over the other side...
i think my creative self is in a struggle with my conformist self and i am on the sidelines watching with that quick tennis match action (look to the left, whip head, look to the right, whip head, repeat)
"I really want to get this onto paper/canvas just out there somewhere I am thinking colour I am thinking unrealistic but bold I am thinking..."
"Now hang on just a minute... who the fuck do you think you are? You are not trained, your sense of line is shit, your colour ideas always turn out badly..."
"Yes but this feeling...."
"Feeling schmeeling, stop talking over me... I think you have forgotten how embarassing it was for you when you were trying your hardest and then it looked so amatureish..."
you get the picture
Anway i went to another painting class today with Brett a'Court I was quiet and struggling and feeling not good enough in the company of some quite accomplished artists
Brett took each of us aside asking where we wanted to go - at first i tried to think of the clever things i could say
but then i chose to be truthful
i told him what i connected to in painting was the feeling - Frida Kahlo's intricate tiny work didn't light my fire but her pain and passion did, Van Gogh's subjects didn't always make my eyes light up but his passion and courage did...
i told him i wanted to express in that way but i didn't have the technique
i know he felt my dejection
He said that to paint that way needed to have the courage to put myself out there without protection in the world. That it wouldn't always be pretty (but of course i quoted Elizabeth Cunningham at this juncture) but it would be real and full of feeling.
I said i wanted that.
and for the first time in a long time i felt a click of really wanting something.
Brett told me to paint sloppy and big and fast
and i took courage and trusted myself and i got the BIG canvas out of the car and i painted this still life
and i cried.
i know it isn't Frida or Vincent.
but holy crap it feels like me.
this creation brings me home.
to the home inside myself.
as much as i have that home i long for without time and space,
i am beginning to see i can trust the home inside myself
and the more i express that inner feeling outwardly
"LONGING IS THE GROUND OUT OF WHICH PILGRIMAGE ARISES, AND AS WE HAVE SEEN ALSO CHARACTERIZES THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SELF, NATURE, AND THE DIVINE GROUND. IN WELSH, THE WORD HIREATH EXPRESSES THIS KIND OF LONGING, DEEP AND SOULFUL AND IS SOMETIMES SPOKEN OF AS A KIND OF "HOMESICKNESS". In this sense we might imagine it as a homesickness to know our place in the world an inhabit it fearlessly and authentically." Jason Kirkey. 'The Salmon in the Spring - the ecology of Celtic Spirituality.'
This book - recommended to me by the Goddess incarnate, Elizabeth Cunningham and has been one of those digest slowly books- (read reissue from the library 4 times).
I had to read sometimes only a page and then sleep so that it could talk to the deepest parts of me that were sighing with recognition and nourishment...
The part i want to talk about today is entitled longing...
The quote above talks about longing which Jason Kirkey fulfilled by travelling back to Ireland (a country i have long been intregued by (i used to get coffee table books out on Ireland as a primary school child and just look at the pictures) but have yet to visit... Maybe it has something to do with my obsession with green - it always turns up in my gratitude lists....
I also long for South Africa - Calitzdorp, Table Mountain, wildflowers.....i miss that land with a longing that is only quenched by something particularly of that land at the end of that continent, that wildness, that rawness, that powerful, bleak, rich, heart-aching beauty.
And of course i long for the essence of the last sentence in that quote. That knowing of my place in the world, the ability to inhabit this body of mine, claim my space fearlessly and authentically.
That self acceptance, that self celebration, that holding myself to be sacred - and of course in doing so, being able to be a conduit for the divine - because of course when i stop dismissing my innate divinity there is no more excuse....
When i speak of being enough i know it is the key to that gate, the gate that holds me back from that place of self love and celebration.
Being able to ignore that well worn groove in my psyche that believes it is less than, not worthy of, undeserving is the key. To step out of that circular path and startto walk somewhere new is my instinctive understanding of the secret to that nirvana.
The being enough nirvana.
So i long for that.
I get disheartened and feel fake sometimes - i wish i could go with the bravado i have written with here and suddenly jump from the rut, open the gate, bust dramatically out of that ugly belittling habit and march off into my glory. But somedays i have to sweep the floor and manage maudlin children, and make school lunches and walk the dog. Somedays i can be magnificent while i do that and somedays i just do it. Not in the Nike sense. In the just get through sense.
And that doesn't feel like enough enough.
But since i was a small child whenever i was scared i used to say "I want to go home". I could have been tucked up in my safe little middle class bed, where i lived with my nuclear (and yes you can read bomb there if you want) family.
But there was always this deep longing for home that i found difficult to explain.
This longing hasn't left me as i have grown into this numerical adulthood.
I still want to go home when i am scared.
I try to stop the words when they want to tumble out of my mouth for fear that i may be hastening my death (because what is home if it is not with the divine?)
But that yearning for home is deep and true.
I know i am rooted here in Te Tai Tokerau - this particular body i am in knows this is where it is nourished - the trees are familiars, the coast is a friend....
The colour of the sky *the ocean * Elizabeth and Maeve * people who reach beyond the ordinary * genuine generosity *good food * watching things grow * the miracle of birth *a woman's power *tenderness in all its forms * the cycle of life * courage * people with a sense of fun * compassion * beautiful jewellery * art that is made from the heart - without a view to the purchaser or the market but made because it has to come *Clarissa Pincola Estes * grace
LIKE SANDS THROUGH THE HOURGLASS THESE ARE MORETHINGSTHATITHINK
i welcome you with warmth and love to the thoughts that grab me .... and the way they come out of my fingers when i make the time in my day as a mother and artist and poodle walker to write them down.....