Tag Archives: colour

Soul Sketches

I showed one of my Positive Living groups the following videos. For those who’ve already seen (or couldn’t be bothered watching) them, the first one is about how we perceive ourselves, how we hone in our flaws and imperfections, and how we don’t see the beauty that other people see in us.

The second is a spoof on the first and I cried actual tears, it was so funny.

Afterwards, we drew pictures of how our souls might look like. I instructed the class not to think too much, to just go with the feeling. Below is a picture of my soul, drawn my me.

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Then, I told the class to draw a picture of how they feel the soul of the person sitting beside them might appear. I reminded them not to worry about it being a work of art, to simply allow it to flow. Because I was teaching, I was sitting at the top of the room so there was no way my partner could have seen the picture I had just drawn of my own soul. Five minutes later, I was presented with this.

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We squealed in disbelief and hugged. We had drawn almost the same image of my soul, except she had made it bigger, more vibrant and even more beautiful. And it’s not unlike the Sacred Heart, which is regularly depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart shining with divine light. Maybe it’s not so unusual to imagine a glowing heart when connecting with one’s soul but nobody else in the class drew a heart for themselves or for anybody else.

This was a great exercise and I thoroughly enjoyed drawing like a little kid, totally absorbed in colour, connection and creation. Why don’t you try it with your children, partners or friends? You’ll be amazed at what manifests.

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Impermanence

Autumn is the perfect artistic expression of impermanence. Yesterday, the sky was charcoal. Today, it is cornflower blue. The sun is bright yet the breeze is cool. The light dances playfully on the water and between the leaves, revealing itself before hiding briefly in the shadows.

The trees show off their newly tinted crowns of copper and auburn, burnt yellow and orange. The wind gently shakes the branches and the trees toss down their leaves, like demure Rapunzels bestowing us, all princes and princesses, with a rust-coloured carpet to climb upon.

Nothing stays the same. There is beauty in the before, in the after, and in the transformation of it all. Everything changes. I breathe in this awareness.

Being Human

I met someone at a festival recently, who made a few interesting observations about what it is to be human. As we walked by groups of animated festival-goers, he remarked: “Everybody here has paid money just to be around other people. Humans love being near other humans.” As we passed strings of coloured fairy lights, he added: “Humans are always drawn to the light.” He then urged me to scream: “I’m alive!” We both did, like an aural, two-man Mexican wave: “I’m alive! I’m alive!” Each declaration stirred the life inside me. “It’s true,” I thought. “I am alive.”

A week later, as I drove towards my home town, a great tune came on the radio. I’d love to be on a night out so I could go mad to this song, I wished. Then, I reminded myself that there’s no time like the present. So I howled at the moon and fist-pumped at the oncoming traffic.

And just tonight, as I lie in bed, the wind whipping outside, I grasp a whisper of that evasive peace I felt as I listened to the nocturnal sound of the sea once upon a time in Utila, in Antiparos, in Ballyferriter. I can have that peace right here, right now, I decide with a smile.

Really living doesn’t have to be reserved for the weekends or when you’re drunk or high or on holiday. Each breath is a reminder of the life that courses through you. Your life is a wonderful, miraculous gift. You can enjoy every single moment. Every slurp of tea. Every unexpected chuckle. Every splash of colour. Every chord, caress, aroma and flavour.

You know that you’re alive when your body bounces to a beat, arches into a kiss, nuzzles into slumber, twitches in a dream. You know that you’re human when you shed hot tears of rejection and loss. When your insides glow at a compliment or a pleasant exchange. When you feel the excitement of a flirtation or the nervousness of a new challenge. And you know that there’s more than all this when you feel that magical intimacy with another human being and the world opens just a fraction wider to accommodate the growth of the budding bond that you share.

You feel how spectacular the world is with every  glimpse of the sky, the clouds, the trees. With every field, flower, and blade of grass. With the wind that keens and moves amongst it all. With every breath that revives you and moves you… Allow yourself to be moved.

From black and white to technicolour

Good fucken fuqballs, I’m writing at 5am again! I blame Jeannette Walls’ gripping account of her exciting, albeit difficult, childhood in The Glass Castle. Only moments earlier, I had to hold the book away for a good five minutes as I sobbed.

Walls’ honest depiction of life as the resilient daughter of an irresponsible but irresistible drunkard, and a refreshingly free-spirited but inexcusably selfish artist, is as heart-warming as it is heart-breaking.

This captivating memoir teaches us that we mustn’t view things, or people, in black and white. Jeannette paints her unique story, mixing muted shades of sepia and charcoal with delightful streaks of vibrant colour.

Everybody is doing the best they can with what they’ve got. We are all simply trying to survive. Even the most despicable of villains have another (better, softer, more vulnerable) side. Lord Voldemort lived a loveless childhood and suffered a pathological fear of death. The Joker was grieving the loss of his wife and unborn child. In 102 Dalmations, Cruella de Vil dedicates her life to saving animals. And Simon Cowell still goes to bed with his blankie. (Poetic license here, folks. Work with me.)

So, the next time you want to curse (or plot the untimely demise of) your unreasonable boss or critical co-worker, take a deep breath. Recognise that they wouldn’t be behaving this way if they were content with their lot.

On his days off, that bad-tempered librarian volunteers to help children with special needs. The self-centred ladies’ man cries himself to sleep each night. The rude motorist who cut in front of you this morning was preoccupied with meeting his new-born son for the first time. The irritable shop keeper doesn’t hate you. She hates her job. Or her husband. Or herself. The town drunk you cross the road to avoid tried to clean himself up several times before he lost his wife, his kids, and his battle with this unrelenting illness.

Insert gratuitous Leo pic here.

I’m not advocating that you accept bad behaviour. I just want to promote compassion and understanding. Everyone has their story, their baggage, their reasons. Everybody longs for happiness. For love. Everyone breathes the same breath of life and dreams of a better future.

Somewhere between the stormy blacks and calm whites of judgement and acceptance appears an uncontrollable rainbow of regret and determination, sorrow and hope, anger and forgiveness. Because that is what it is to be human.

Images: http://www.thew2o.net/; http://favim.com/image/125933/;

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Disappointment: the cold shower you didn’t want to take

Disappointment can strike you like a ferocious tidal wave on a calm summer’s day. It takes you by surprise, plunges you into an icy, suffocating darkness, washes away your energy, erodes some of your hope, and snaps off a little piece of your heart. I’ve experienced a few disappointments in recent times and it’s hard not to let them trip you up.

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According to Ardictionary.com, disappointment is “a feeling of dissatisfaction that results when your expectations are not realised”. The only reason we get disappointed is because something happens outside of our control. Our expectations are shattered. We want to control how someone behaves towards us or how we expect a situation to turn out. When life rails against our wishes, we experience an extraordinary sense of disappointment.

By dissecting the word, it can be broken down into “dis-” and “appointment”. The prefix “dis-” has a negative or reversing force on what comes after it. An appointment is “a fixed mutual agreement for a meeting or engagement.” (Dictionary.com) You had a plan and this plan was obliterated. You feel as though you’ve just been knocked down by the tsunami created by the aftershock of this disappointment. The trick is not to allow yourself be swept away by the current of negative emotions that arises.

When you suffer a disappointment, be it having been rejected or dumped, when a friend lets you down or a family member behaves in a way that hurts you, or your holiday/business/career plans are dashed, you need to do two things.

1. Realise that this person’s behaviour has nothing to do with you. It’s all about them and what’s going on in their world. Also, everything happens for a reason. Trust that all will work out in the end. Focus on the bigger picture. Perhaps this partner/friend/trip/business idea was not the one for you. Or the timing wasn’t right. Ultimately, you will be thankful for this disappointment as you will be open to something better coming your way.

“Disenchantment, whether it is a minor disappointment or a major shock, is the signal that things are moving into transition in our lives.” William Throsby Bridges

2. Recognise that how you feel and react as a result of this disappointment is all about you. Delve into the emotions that are overwhelming you and get into the bodily sensations you are experiencing. Ask yourself why you’re upset/angry/hurt. Are you placing too much of yourself into the hands of one person or plan?

I spent a large part of my life feeling that I had to do it all on my own. I believed that people were inherently selfish and would let you down. I needed to be independent and self-sufficient. As a result, I found it hard to get too close to people. However, in recent times, my experience of people and the world has altered. I’ve come into contact with good people, who go out of their way to help others. I started to see things differently. It was like a rainbow had exploded across the charcoal canvas of my world.

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I didn’t want to see the blacks and greys any more. I focussed on the bright and vibrant colours. But that was not being real either. Life is made up of darkness and light, happiness and sadness, grief and excitement, faith and loss, hope and disappointment.

It is important to be independent. To be okay on your own. To do your own thing and follow your calling in life. And if someone wants to help/befriend/date you, accept that as an added bonus. And if they take their altruism/friendship/affection away, it will not devastate you because you are still a whole person.

We all go through difficulties and disappointments. This is a requirement for growth. These times offer us a lot of learning if we are willing to look inwards. They enable us to greater appreciate the beauty and possibilities that arise. It may feel like it will never stop raining and that you’ll drown in the mud. Just know that, after the fright and fury of the storm, a rainbow flashes her colours…

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