Saturday, May 9, 2015

Still Squeezing By?

I turn 62 next week, and for a few weeks now, lots has been going wrong and lots going right. At this ripe age, part of me still wants to find the formula that will give me a smooth ride. Do I actually want a smooth ride? Not sure. A friend said recently he thought I was a "rebel" according to Gretchen Rubin's book Better Than Before. A rebel being someone who needs her own reason for doing everything, and is not motivated without that key element being part of the landscape. That sounds truer.

Anyway, I have something a little slippery to talk about today, that seems somehow linked to this rebel theme. As an artist, I do batik, silk and bamboo dyeing and patterning, silk painting and shibori mostly, and also teach these skills. My edge is always the juice of discovery and pushing the tide of creativity, both for me and my students. 

I completed a commissioned piece recently that I was unsatisfied with and preceded to do another, closer to my own aesthetic. This was better, but problems arose and in resolving them, I was pushed even further into creating a edgier, more beautiful but risky "art piece." Sure I wanted to please my customer, but the demand of life and art for me to be coherent with who I am/what I am doing as an artist and a connected spiritual being was much stronger.

After years of spiritual journey and believing in the value of inner coherence and transparency, has life finally called me out to stand in this space, and only in this space? Yikes- no more sliding or squeezing by!  

This "inner demand" seems to be everywhere in my life these days. Where before, I was satisfied to be pleasant and easy sometimes for others, now I must find a way to voice what's true for me. And this urge has no regard for how hard this might be, considering I value kindness, too. Is this aging? I think it is for me. Aging seems to be about getting very clear and living it.

Case in point. I'm preparing to facilitate Conscious Aging workshops here in Pennsylvania, and as I study for the certification, I am also beginning to look for partners, places to host the workshops. Although I am very excited about the program, I am getting very little response to my "well crafted" positive emails. 

What's missing? I think its life once again, demanding I have the courage and clarity that the program will demand from its participants, and I'm not quite there yet myself. I've been thinking and saying these kinds of thoughts for so long, while able to slide around a little and chose where to live them and where to slide. Maybe the easy ride is over, replaced with juicy opportunities that offer much deeper satisfaction, along with coherence.

This is a slippery idea. On one hand, I wish to be compassionate toward myself, honor where I am and be transparent in connecting with myself and other people. On the other hand, I am in this spot of inner demand, until I am not. Perhaps I've created no way back. You know the idea that life insists you live at the level of your understanding? Well perhaps life thinks I've had enough wiggle room.

Here's what it looks like now: 

  1. Being conscious of what I am feeling whenever I don't feel wonderful. 
  2. Take the time to feel and understand what I am feeling, and probably say it out loud, without concern for how long it takes. 
  3. Then look at my wholeness, the entire landscape of all the conflicting feelings and needs, order them up and act in an way that's fully in coherence to all of it.
At 62, am I old enough and skilled enough to know myself a little, willing enough, to be clear, coherent and transparent?

There is some relief and comfort inside, that I finally get to do this. That I give it to myself as a big gift. A mature gift, not for the wimpy part, or the 8 year old part of me.

Is this true for you, too? I would love to hear about it.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Coherent Road to Conscious Aging

Have you ever been working on making a spiritual leap or wanted to understand something deep, only to notice that life has already just thrown it at you so you could actually see it, feel it and have your answer before you ask?This seems to be the way I learn, or the way life has decided to teach me.
Case in point. I love looking at aging as a new frontier: I think most people are so shocked by what aging does to us and takes from us, no one is driving the car--everyone (mostly) is looking backwards at what was, or trying like crazy to seem like it doesn't phase them.

I am shocked too with a body that doesn't work or look like it used to, the loss of family members... But something in me insists that life IS intelligent and that there IS something else happening here. There's got to be scenery, depth, feeling, mystery, good new stuff we couldn't even imagine when we were thirty.

So, I have an Excited!About Aging site where I post anything I find on great aging, and a website to teach creativity as an aging-well tool. I even teach Art Classes for Alzheimer's. But I want something more-- it feels like I am still outside the theater wanting to go in, but not finding the door. Or the dance that leads to the door and opens it.

Enter IONS wonderful program called Conscious Aging. I read about it and knew I had to become a facilitator--that way I'd have a front row seat to the transformation that happens when we are awake and conscious to life's amazing aging tango. I signed up. Got the materials,just knowing in my heart that I am going to love this. Which I do. I will be facilitating this remarkable workshop on excavation and new life skills in a few months.

And of course, this means doing the workbook myself and reaching out to create opportunities and community to do the workshop. Slowly doubts creep up, can I do this well? (push it down) Can I really make the contacts that will welcome this program? (stuff the thought away, I'm busy learning how to facilitate Conscious Aging).

And so it goes. I do have a toolbox of processes to see what's going on inside and I use them often, but it is seeming like a bother in this context. I'm so juiced by the program and busy learning it.

Then of course it hits me like a brick wall. I don't want to feel what's going on. I want to pass go and collect my $200. I don't really want to be conscious of my fears, feelings of doubt, unforgiveness, shyness, lack of compassion toward myself while I learn to teach Conscious aging! Boy the joke is on me!

Life, in its astounding intelligence, is making sure I learn all about the chapters of conscious aging NOW, before I teach it. Self Compassion, Forgiveness toward self and others. Reaching out to others and telling the truth. Feeling what's going on and naming it. Understanding that death creates life. Letting a new vision of aging find you.

This facilitator, at least, will be well versed in all of these hard areas before she runs the program. I would even say it's not possible for me to teach the program as who I am right now. Life wants me to be that future person who has done the work. I love it. Life in action, making us do the work, to become fully coherent as we hold the space for folks to get conscious about aging. I'm happy to play the fool and bow once again to how great life it, just doing its thing, all by itself.