Getting Into the Flow

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

So I've been teaching a painting class. I call it "Anyone Can Paint!" Although to me it has nothing to do with painting, that is just the vehicle I am using to teach something else. I am teaching individuals how they get into the flow -- the creative flow. How do you get into the creative flow?

I took many classes from Rassouli, the founder of Fusionart. Fusionart is a painting method that focuses on connecting to the heart and spirit and expressing from this ethereal space. The point of Fusionart is to release the mind and let the heart guide the brush, so the artist has no preconceived concept of what he/she is creating. Until the next brushstroke is laid down, the artist has no idea where it will land. A true Fusionartist is someone like Ralph White, who embraces the circumstance of the moment and knows that all effects on his canvas are meant to be. "There are no mistakes," Ralph always says. "Everything is meant to be."

When I teach I am teaching individuals how to get into the creative flow. I am teaching how to connect to that divine space where all creation bursts forth. BUT, I do not teach that the heart is the only access point. This may mean they connect with their mind, their heart, both, or none at all. It could mean they connect with their body, like a personal trainer I painted with a while back. What I’m seeing is that each individual has a path to get into the flow, and those paths are as different as we are. To respect the individual path and assist the creator in unveiling it, is what I am attempting to teach.

I do not teach the Fusionart way, because I myself have experienced being in the flow when BOTH sides of my brain are working harmoniously together. The analytical left which we call our "mind," and the compassionate right which we call our "heart." When I sit at the computer creating graphic design, these two parts work TOGETHER to create my work. I cannot run the computer without my left brain, and I cannot design without my right. And yet I get into that timeless space where there are no words. Where my husband will touch my shoulder and I will jump out of my chair because my attention is so far afield of normal reality I am surely not on the earth plane.

So when Rassouli would tell me to let go of my mind when I painted, I struggled with this. What came forward were my curve paintings -- geometric images of color. Structure that satisfies my left brain, with colors and light that make my right brain sing. These paintings are the quintessential expression of BONNIE, and I never felt like they were Fusionart. While they are never pre-conceived, once a single stroke hits the canvas, I do not deviate from the initial curve stroke that I make. I am confined by that first stroke, but it does not feel confining. It feels comforting and blissful. I find my greatest sense of joy and peace when I paint my curve paintings. There is no sense of restriction in them, just the harmony of blending brushstrokes. On the other hand, when I create a painting that is chaotic and feels like it has no order, I feel very unsettled by it. It does not bring me peace, and the painting experience is tense and stressful. But this is the painting that is "mindless" to me, so by definition it is Fusionart.

I’ve pondered this over and over, and I get very much into the flow even if I am connected with my mind. I am a balanced-brained person, and being in that balance is being in the flow for me. Being only in my right mind is out of balance for me, and therefore I am not connected to the flow as well. Does that make sense? Also, being in my mind doesn’t mean I am in the judgmental, analytical part of me. My left brain contributes a great deal to the organization of my work, but does not dictate the spontaneity of my brush strokes. My left and right brain know how to harmoniously create together — that’s why I’m so good at graphic design on the computer. The left brain does not interfere with getting into the flow, but instead contributes by guiding some tasks while I'm there. Going into the flow without my left brain is like leaving half of me behind. It just doesn't feel right.

And this is what I'm teaching others. Each of us has our own doorway into the flow. A car mechanic who is fixing an engine can very much be in the flow as a mad painter going full tilt without a care throwing paint on canvas. I believe being in the flow is a personal experience, and nobody should dictate how we get there. And more importantly, nobody should tell us whether we've been there or not. Only we can determine when we are connected to the universal creator, and what path we take to unlock that beautiful connection we all long to make.

Unbraiding the Anger

Friday, August 8, 2008

I just had a huge Aha! moment. Had to get up to share. I just figured why I've been angry at somebody for several months now. I figured it out, and the anger has washed away. What a relief!

Currently my husband and I are going through a disasterous experience with an extremely dishonest car repair shop. My anger at the experience gnaws at my stomach. I have such a hard time interacting with people who are dishonest and deceitful, and I realized tonight that I am angry at myself for not seeing through this car repair guy to start with.

As I mused at the discomfort this anger brings forward, I realized that it mimicks the anger I have been feeling towards someone I will call A. For over a year I was involved in a community group that I thought was the be all and end all. I was way in, deep, and sucked so deep I didn't think I'd ever get out. Recently though, for the second time, I pulled myself out. The first time I did it on impulse with no reason (back in January). The second time I did it because A yelled at me. Nobody yells at me. This was my signal to pull back. To be sure there were many more reasons that I pulled out, but the yelling was the last straw.

Since I pulled out, I've thought and said some harsh things about the group and about A. I was angry. Recently I've been feeling angry because I've been rejected by others in the group. I pulled out, but I'm mad because they pushed me out too. Deservedly so, but still it stung.

But tonight as I revel in the pool of resentment and anger of the car repair guy, it came to light that the same pool of feelings lurks in the corner with the unfinished business I have with A. The anger of the yelling, the anger of the behavior, the anger of how it all played out... And then I had that moment of revelation. I am NOT angry at A at all... I am angry at ME!! Yes, ME!

I am angry at myself for falling for A's illusions of grandier. For falling into that trap of believing so completely that I could not see clearly. For ignoring my husband's words when he warned me it may not be how I was perceiving it. For ignoring my mother's words who strongly warned me that she sensed deceit behind A's supposedly loving gestures. For ignoring my own intuition that knew all along that this was too good to be true.

But despite all my ignoring and not paying attention, I am most angry at me because of my longing to belong. THAT is the reason I ignored all these signs. That is the reason I chose to believe A's song and dance. That is why I was led down the merry path in the belief it would lead to some creative nirvana. It was another repeat of a similar performance that I have done before in my life. To sacrifice in order to belong. To ignore my own inner guidance in order to feel a part. The tremendous desire to feel "normal" and "like" others, when in fact, as one friend recently said, "Do you know you're an anomaly?" I will never feel "normal" or "like" others. I am an INFJ. As my fellow-INFJ friend Suz has said, we are unique. Our skill set comes in such a small subset of the population, many people can go a whole lifetime without meeting one of us.

I AM ANGRY BECAUSE I BETRAYED ME FOR THE SAKE OF A. Well you know what, A, no more. I see through the game. Lead your sheep. I will not ever be part of the flock. And I see so clearly that my lesson with you was about breaking away from the need to be part of the flock. Let the "normal" people follow as they do not have the ingenuity to create their own path. I am on my own. As my mom has said to me many times, "Bonnie, you do not need a mentor. You just think you do."

And so my wonderful USM skill of forgiveness has assisted me in releasing myself of the anger towards A because I know that the true anger lies with me. And so I say:

  • I forgive myself for judging myself as wrong.
  • I forgive myself for judging myself as deceived.
  • I forgive myself for judging myself as bad for speaking my opinion about A.
  • I forgive myself for judging myself for having judged A and his group.
  • I forgive myself for judging myself as having ignored my intuition.
  • I forgive myself for judging myself as putting other's needs before my needs.
  • I forgive myself for judging myself as an idiot.
  • I forgive myself for judging myself as having made a mistake.
  • I forgive myself for judging myself as weird.
  • I forgive myself for judging myself as an outcast.
  • I forgive myself for judging myself as different.
  • I forgive myself for judging myself as unable to fit in.
  • I forgive myself for judging myself as unworthy.
  • I forgive myself for judging myself as rejected.
  • I forgive myself for judging my feelings as wrong.
  • I forgive myself and release myself for all judgments around all things to do with A and his organization.
I am blessedly released from my anger. Suddenly I can breath more clearly. And now, in this moment, I know without question I am never an outcast. I am a divine being having a human experience, and despite anything that happens, I am connected to each and every being on this planet. Including you, A. There's no hard feelings, just light... Love and hugs, Bonnie

Busy Bee Indeed!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

So time has flown and I'm in a frazzle, but hey, that's life, isn't it? Seems most appropriate that I named my blog Busy Bonzlee. Indeed that has been me these past couple weeks.

Business boomed!! I mean seriously over the edge exploded. My husband and I are in awe, shock and serious stress trying to get it all under our wings so we can move forward into fame and fortune... this is how these things turn out, isn't it? We alternate between giggly happiness and throwing frustration. Corralling designers, keeping up quality and meeting deadlines that we set when we weren't so busy, it's all in a day's work.

But I'm pooped!! And some moments I wonder is it worth all the work? In six months times we've more than quadrupled our business. If we continue at this rate by the end of the year we will make 6 times as much as we made last year! Isn't that insane?! Who would have thunk?

But then I hear my kids crying because I haven't had much one-on-one time with them. I wonder if they're okay if we spend a year building a foundation which in the long run will bring us a very secure and comfortable life. I work at home so at least they see me. But I do miss them, and sometimes steal moments at night just lying with them in bed watching them sleep.

How much time away is okay if I am building our future? When I started this mountain climb I was hopeful but doubtful. As a few months past I started to see that my dreams of a lavish life were very doable, but in how much time? Now that 7 months have past, and we've seen a sharp upward turn of our earning curve, I suddenly see that all our dreams are possible. We can have more than we need, and live comfortable without working hard. But there is still more mountain to climb before we reach that plateau.

If it takes another 6 months or a year, do you think my kids will lose out because of it. It's not like I spend no time with them, but not as much as I did before. Jeremy is the one I worry the most because he goes to daycare all day rather than staying with us. Will they be okay if it's a while longer before mommy can plan with them for a couple hours every day?

This is where my heart hurts. I love our success, but I don't want our children to lose out in the meantime.

Learning About Loss

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Today I've wondered why God wants us to learn lessons about loss. Why must we go through the processes of parting from things and people we love? What is gained through this pain and heartache, and what are we suppose to find when we come out the other side?

Our kitty Misty has not come home. We've searched, hunted, put up signs, been in touch with local agencies... I think only a miracle will bring her home now. The other night I had a dream that she was trapped in someone's house. She wasn't totally unhappy, but she did not feel free. She wanted to come home. The maddening thing was, in the dream the house was less than a block from my home. I get the impression that she is right under my nose, but cannot seem to find her. Although in the dream I did rescue her and bring her home, so that made me feel good, until of course I woke up and realized it was only a dream. I must accept the loss of this beautiful, sweet kitty, but my heart is not yet ready to go there.

Today I have also keenly felt the loss of connection to my birth family. I went to a new doctor who of course gave me a pile of paperwork. Thing is, when you're adopted, you can fly through a lot of that paperwork. They ask all kinds of historical questions about family diseases, and I just kept writing "adopted, unknown". Each time I wrote it I felt the anger of the disconnection -- that loss of self identity -- that others chose for me. I do not know a huge part of who I am. It feels like a tremendous void in my inner being. There is a huge sense of loss.

Then at a business meeting today we talked for a moment about Brigette, a beautiful friend of mine who passed 4 years ago from multiple myeloma. She died quickly and unexpectedly at only 44 years of age. Just weeks before my husband said good-bye to Yoda, a feline companion of 18 years, who had tongue cancer. The year before I was overwhelmed by the loss of my feline companion, Shante (pictured below), who also went from cancer. I thought of these losses as I waited under my paper gown for my new gynecologist to come and do his thing. We never know sometimes when our time will be to exit stage left, and those behind will feel a loss.

So what of it, God, how come we go through loss? I can only speak from personal experience, but I think one of the greatest lessons we get from loss is a comprehension of how deeply we love. I can't say the same is true when I lose weight, but having lost friends and animal companions, I do know the depth of love is what seems most bold in those grieving hours. Mary Hulnick, one of the founders of University of Santa Monica, once said, "The depth of our grief is a measure of how deeply we have loved." And I do believe God is showing us through our losses that we have the capacity to love so deeply.

Today I yearned for another kitty. I thought to myself, "Misty may never come home, but this may be an opportunity to love another homeless cat."

By definition loss is parting with something that we do not wish to part with (again, don't have a clue why they use this word with weight loss). It brings about a yearning for something we wish to keep. Sometimes we try so hard to hold on, which only prolongs the inevitable loss.

This happened when my kitty Shante died. The vet gave her the injection, and I began to sob uncontrollably. Shante did not die despite receiving the full dose. The vet got angry at me and told me to pull it together and tell her she could go. She was staying for me. So I did pull it together and I told her I would be okay. I would miss her terribly, but I would be okay. Took the vet 15 minutes to find another vein, and then Shante left. And as her soul left that sweet feline form, I was overwhelmed by a sense of peace unlike anything I had ever experienced before. And as the days passed afterwards, and I cried more tears than I thought possible, it was that sense of peace that I clung to as a way to support my heart and soul. I KNEW she was okay, even if I couldn't see it with my human eyes.

So that loss taught me about God. Taught me about Spirit. About our connection despite the physical form we may take. It actually spurred the beginning of my own spiritual journey. Do you suppose that is the biggest lesson in loss -- that we are connected no matter the realm we occupy? Is this why I chose an adopted family in this lifetime -- so on some level my soul could really learn the lesson that biology does not connect us -- our divinity does?

Yes, this seems to be a good reason to experience loss. As does the experience of our measure of love. God has a plan for all of us, and even if we struggle through our lives, know that in each window of opportunity, there is a lesson to grow from.

It's All In My Head!

Friday, July 25, 2008

When I begin to cry or I'm really upset, I have that downward spiral feeling that I know is going to lead to a pit of emotion that I must wade my way out of. Ugh! Must I take this trip yet again!? It's even more exasperating when I realize it's all in my head, and my thoughts are converting to emotions that are just plain tripping me out. But then when I finally get what's trigging the inner onslaught, I reach a choice point. I can cop to it and be okay knowing that I just experienced my own mind trip. Or I can stay in that place of blame where I am positively certain that it has nothing to do with me -- for sure it is everybody else that makes me be the way that I am.

I used to be in the second position all the time. My mom made me feel insecure. My classmates made me hate my body. Society makes me hate that I am not perfect. They all made me do it!! Problem is, that defense doesn't hold up in court. We all have free will. If somebody "made" us do it, then the fact is we agreed to let it happen. Oh, it might not have been a conscious agreement that you actually thought about, but on some level I agreed to go along with whatever it is they "made" me do.

But I do like what happens when I reach that point in a self-realization journey where I get that it is all in my head. My thoughts create my feelings which motivate my actions. The fact is, I made me do it! How's that for turning the tables? And I know right now you are creasing those eyebrows wondering what nutty thinking this may be. But let me tell you, it's so true.

Tonight I'm telling my husband about insecure about my looks and how I believe he doesn't love me because I'm overweight and truly I wonder if anybody will ever love me unless I am thin... blah, blah, blah. Then I come to realize that the past 10 days have been a boom for our business. Things are going off the charts and we for sure are coming to the end of a record month on all fronts. The horizon is full of possibilities and we finally can breath easily because we know our future is secure.

Then I see that all my tripping the past 10 days about abandonment, appearance, not being loved is tied up in this great success. My brain once again goes to "Am I good enough?" And then I take a deep breath as I ask myself again, "Am I good enough?" And I see finally that these insecurities that have been plaguing me for a week are all about this tremendous success. Because I am scared shitless that I'm not up to the task. I have given myself one heck of a mind trip, and I finally gave myself permission to get off of it. What a relief!

Of course I'm good enough! I'm better than good enough, and my track record proves it! And my husband not loving me or fear of failure are all thoughts that I put in my head. Thoughts I created and I ruminated on and I grew into something larger than reality. It was simply all in my head. How nice to know that I can also CHOOSE to step out of that!

Ruminating Over Assagioli

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tonight I was reading a friend's blog, and she brought up the discussion how others judge us for what we do. She had met somebody new, and she was concerned some of her "mistakes" in the past would cause this individual to reject her. Such a common theme... goes along this concept of abandonment which I have been tumbling in this week.

Her post reminded me of one of the fundamental concepts I had learned during my spiritual psychology coursework. It is so fundamental, they put it on the cover of their brochures:

"We are not human beings who have spiritual experiences. We are divine beings having a human experience."

Considering this concept, I remember back to learning about Robert Assagioli's psychosynthesis:
1. I have a body, but I am not my body.
2. I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.
3. I have a mind, but I am not my mind.

If we have all these things, but they do not define us,
then who are we?

"I am consciousness and will."

Hmm... what does this possibly mean? I am consciousness, but in the previous statement I detached myself from my mind. So consciousness is different than what the mind does. Is consciousness a state of being, or a state of doing, or both? To me consciousness is an awareness of the Soul. An inner knowing that there is a purpose that is greater than the physical realm we dwell in. Consciousness is a higher mind that does not operate on the physical level. It's like when you know to turn right instead of left, and then in the rear view mirror see a big accident happen. To me consciousness is a state of being. It is a being that is connected to that universal source from which we all came. It is the battery, if you will, of our lives. It drives us without directing us. But it always remains connected to a source power, and it never ceases, even when our physical selves die.

And what occurs when you combine consciousness and will? We have all heard about willful individuals. I know because I am one and I'm raising two others. Will by nature is a driving force. Something that goes full tilt ahead with little or no thought. It goes because it also knows what it single-minded about the goals it will achieve.

So conscious + will is a state of action. Together they bring to fruition the lessons of the soul. The consciousness knows why the soul incarnated in this lifetime, and the will carries the "psychology" about those lessons. In other words, the will gets us into trouble so we can find our way out and learn something from it.

Sound pretty hokey? Not really sure? Then let me ask you, is it easier to believe that we have come here to learn lessons, than to believe in a punishing God that does bad things to us? Is it easier to look at "bad" situation and wallow in it, or is it more uplifting to look at the blessings and find a way to peek at the light in the oh-so-dark tunnel?

Quick example: The ruptured aneurysm

Blessings (just a few as examples):
  • Really felt the all love that comes to me from family and friends.
  • For the first time in my life got down to the core of my being that my mother truly loves me.
  • Gained a tremendous appreciation for my body and it's ability to heal.
Learnings (again, just a few):
  • Don't trust your doctor if your intuition tells you otherwise.
  • Never miss an opportunity to tell somebody you love them. You don't know if you'll have another chance.
  • Accepting what is.
I now that life throws us curve balls sometimes. Believe me, I know. But it's not to knock us down. Honest! Look at the struggles you have in life. Consider what blessings might come of them. And consider what your soul might want to learn as well. Know that there is a purpose, and feel the realization that your consciousness and will are at work evolving the consciousness of your being.

Untangling the Web I Weave

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Today is a good day. Things seem to be going very well. Our business has suddenly taken off and we have so many wonderful projects coming in. Not sure how we're going to do them all, but I'm trusting that will happen. I have been taking care of myself food-wise and eating on plan for 3 days. I feel less tired. I only had one cup of coffee today. This is a good thing. I had my SE (somatic experiencing) appointment this morning, so I started the day in a calm, even space. My SE therapist gave us another lead on finding a live kidney donor for Steve... something to be so thrilled about. The kids are doing fabulous -- funny and fun as ever.

So with everything seeming to have fallen inline, I cannot help but wonder why I have spent most of this day feeling insecure, scared, nervous... It's as if a part of me is all shook up by the calm around. This morning my husband came to give me our morning hug, and I wondered if he was doing it because he wanted to or he felt he had to. Mid-day I was working on some projects and really feeling the stretch of learning I've had to go through to keep up. Can I do this? What if I screw something up?! And later in the day I had a group coaching call with my fabulous coach, Ralph White, and every time I spoke in the call I felt like a bumbling idiot. Me, who is usually so articulate, was stumbling over words. Didn't help that a couple of my clients were on the call. Did they think I sounded like an idiot?

It goes right back to what I wrote about the other day -- fear of abandoment. As unsignedmasterpiece said in a comment, "For what it's worth, you sound pretty loveable to me." And aren't I?

The crazy thing is, it feels like it all boils down to my weight. I hold a belief that I am truly hideous because of my weight. It does not help that I have aged considerably with two small kids and major health issues -- my body has been through the wringer in the past couple years. My hair was shocked white from the aneurysm. Oh, not all white, but even my hairdresser noticed that I went from just a little gray to about 50% gray pretty much over night.

I kid you not, I look at at myself and wonder who would love such a blob? My husband actually told me once that he isn't attracted to me overweight, and of course that just multiplied the problem exponentially. So anytime a thin, dark-haired, dark-eyed woman comes around, I'm paranoid he's packing up to run off. And I know it's just paranoia... I think. Yet the fear of it is so overwhelming. I am afraid I am not good enough because I do not look beautiful.

But this issue of my appearance goes beyond the personal. I like that I work at home and don't have to interact with others so much. I'm so worried I will be rejected based on my appearance. I'm not so great with clothes and I think and think before picking something for a business meeting. What if they don't like me because I'm fat or wearing the wrong thing? And in social situations I often dream of melding into the wallpaper so I don't have to try and keep up appearances that I feel happy with who I am.

The twists and tangles of psychology are so complex. I could probably give you five places the issues with my appearance originated from -- living in Southern California being near the top. Oh, and my mother saying, "Bonnie doesn't think she's beautiful. She knows she's plain looking." The real question is, how do we untangle this complex web of beliefs, feelings, thoughts and obsessions? Is it truly an onion that must be skinned one layer at a time?

I've done my fair share of internal work. I have a master in spiritual psychology, which is really just a degree in personal transformation. Two years of it on a monthly basis. I've done therapy, read books, done exercises at home. I've seen some of the unwinding of the onion skin -- the slow peel and the fast peel. I've seen other issues fall away and be healed forever. But this appearance psychosis... I haven't found the magic key. I know even if I lose weight, I will feel this way. The weight is a symptom of other things, and sure it effects my appearance, but I know from personal experience that this image issue is way more than just my weight.

Why do you suppose the American society is so image conscious? I've been to other countries, and they surely don't care as much as we do about appearances. People are beautiful just the way they are. But here in America they are so image conscious they do studies that prove that people who are "better looking" actually have an easier time in life. Who frickin' cares?! Yet so many of us buy into this ideology which goes against our internal esteem and in many cases we come up lacking.

I'm not saying there is an answer. All I'm saying is that amidst a finally calm and quiet time, where we have finally adjusted to the ups and downs, I feel sad. I feel sad because I am not enjoying our successes. And what I see is that in the eye of the storm, there really is nothing to distract me from the deep hole of emotions that I work so hard to keep bottled up.

Busy Bonzlee | Copyright 2008 Bonnie Landau