finding center and the work

You have to be able to center yourself, to let all of your emotions go. Don’t ever forget that you play with your soul as well as your body.
— kareem abdul-jabbar

I went missing last week. No posts. No What's up and What-Not. I was lost in a fog of pain and immobility when my neck seized up and I could find only one position that didn't hurt. I watched a lot of Netflix. I tried to get through the normal things of life. 

When I was finally able to get to the massage therapist, she explained in simple terms that my head wasn't sitting directly on its axis. It was slightly off center which was skewing all the things in my neck. 

Off center. Yes. I could feel that in body and in spirit. 

As I've sat with the question of being out of alignment and what that means and, more specifically, what it looks like to be in alignment, my body is relaxing, the neck is more mobile, the pain is almost gone. I don't have clear answers to the questions but I think allowing myself to be present with the inquiry started creating the space to re-center. 

With the pain lessening, I returned to the project of painting my bedroom furniture. I've been working on this almost since the first day that we moved into our home back in December. The holidays, the cold weather, and the fact that I can only work on it for a short time at any one time less I risk repetitive motion injury means that this has taken far longer than I wanted. 

I am taking it from an antiqued creamy white to a brilliant deep turquoise. I am so excited to move it upstairs to the bedroom, to see how gorgeous it will be in that space, and to have the studio space free in the garage. 

Yesterday, while I painted the furniture, I allowed my mind to rewind back to ten or so years ago when I decided to paint this furniture for the first time.

I bought this furniture used in 1986 shortly after my husband and I married and just before we made a cross country move to Memphis, TN. It was dark brown. Look at it and think of furniture designed in the seventies and imagine the dark wood. Yep. That's my furniture. 

It went up the stairs of that first apartment in Memphis and then down and up the stairs to the first house we bought there. Down again and into the temporary duplex while we sorted out or lives and waited to come back closer to home. From there to Charlotte, NC and then to a rental in Travelers Rest, SC before landing in our mobile home in Gray Court, SC where we stayed for twenty-two years. 

It was there, in the largest of our three extra bedroom, (because I had put all five of my boys in the master bedroom), that I decided that I couldn't live with this dark brown bedroom furniture any longer. It was there, that I put newspaper under the furniture and maneuvered around in that small space and painted it. I didn't have a clue as to what I was doing or how to do it but I knew it had to be done. I took it from dark brown to a warm, creamy white and then scrumbled in a green sage paint to make it look old and worn. It worked. I loved it. 

Reflecting, I realize that was the first of my asserting my creativity. I couldn't have defined it that well then but I simply knew that I had to change, to explore, to make things feel more like me. My fearlessness showed up strongly. 

As I painted yesterday, I sorted through my thoughts about how this huge furniture seems to be the huge obstacle to my getting my studio in order. Nothing much will happen until I get this furniture moved upstairs. I am so ready to be immersed in my work. Then the question came to me. 

What if you are doing the work now?

What if, just like the first time you painted this furniture, even this is an expression of your creativity and your work?

What if you quit drawing lines and boundaries around what is and isn't art making? 

Dear reader, this is not a new lesson for me! I know that I know that I know that I have written similar words in my journal, here on the blog. I have said these words to other women, encouraging them to live a more holistically creative life. 

I have drifted out of alignment with some core values. I have been pushing toward getting some things done instead of staying grounded in awakening my authenticity, in discovery and exploration, in making connection with the divine within and in others. 

That is my work. 

This is my work.