The Brink of Something

I have wakened, as I do every morning, to the blissful sounds of a quiet house. Of a coffee pot gurgling. A fridge humming. A clock ticking. In this pre-dawn deliciousness, I feel poised on the brink of something…

…a day

…a holiday

…days off from the norm

…a barrage of emotions which accompany being with lots of family

…creative hopes & dreams.

This “brink of something” is a familiar place for me. Don’t I experience this at least once, no five, even ten times in any given week? Don’t I find myself, as it were, perched at the edge of a glorious view, on tippy toes, arms outstretched, ready to leap and fly?

I think this is the truest index of my real situation. This “brink of something” is what gives me the delight, joy, excitement and wonder in my life. Yet it is also the culprit for much confusion, inner turmoil, even sadness and downheartedness. I often waken with the dindle and twitter of that ready-to-fly feeling…and then the day gets rolling and I’m left scratching my head wondering –

Is this it?  Was this the grand landscape into which I jumped?

The view from where I land each day isn’t so exciting or glamorous. And I haven’t landed in that “something” I thought I was in line for. By day’s end it all feels like the same mish-mosh of emotions, sad news from a world of woe, unrequited creative plans and dreams, weariness from slogging it out in the highways and byways of living.

Yet I awaken the next morning and there it is again… the desire to put on my jumpsuit and wings.

I could even go so far as to say that this has been my experience for all of my 53 years. Give or take a few mornings where grief and difficulty, or just plain ole monotony, have taken the wind out of my wings completely, I can see that this is the near daily ebb and flow of my life. To begin each day with such an exquisite hope, such a childlike desire to don my cape and wage the war of life with my paint brush, needles and wool…this is a brink I hope I always waken to.

The difficulty however is this — how does one live “on the brink” day in and day out? How do we, despite what life holds for us moment by moment, maintain an attitude of hope and expectation through it all? I write this not to offer a step-by-step  how-to. Although in just writing those words, I can see the hint of a path through.

Here, poised on the brink of this holiday season of Thanksgiving and then Christmas , my wings are more glittery than my average everyday wings. Woven with tinsel, rimmed in twinkly lights, they are fluttering with the anticipation of a kid on Christmas Eve. Yet 53 years has thankfully taught me a thing or two.

The real joy and delight of this season is not found in tinsel or lights (although I love festooning my home with them!) It is found in turning around from the edge of an imagined stunning vista, to view my life. The work I have daily, is to bring that dindle and twitter of anticipation to bear in my every day world. To stand on tip-toes with arms outstretched and to lean into whatever the day brings. My work each day is to walk step by step into it , wings unfurled, with the full knowledge of what this season is all about —

Gratitude that  I am not alone for the Christ child is coming and has come into our world.  Though I will one day stand on the brink of that heavenly realm, today’s work is thanksgiving for the view I have right here in my life.

May each of us embrace the now-and-not-yet-ness of this season. May we not lose heart in daring to stand tippy-toed on the brink of our days, anticipating our wings taking flight in all our joys AND in our difficulties and sorrows. May we brandish whatever swords of love we have been given, be they pens, paintbrushes, voices, instruments, yarn, clay or fabric.

And remember… you are not alone! I am on the brink here too and the Christ Child has paved the path before us, while also walking hand in hand , step by step, Emmanuel, with us.

Transformative Drawing

GrayDays

I’m not certain I can articulate this well… But there’s something about drawing one’s life which transforms that life. It’s as if by drawing something about your day, your world, your city or town, your home, your yard…you are viewing it through a different lens or filter. This idea came to me afresh as I’ve drawn and painted on these very gray days we’ve been having.

Gray days make me think of England, and when I think of England, I think of tea. My girls and I had a little tea party, something I love to do when I have the chance.

InkyDawn

Gray days also make me think of walks on the moors. Where I get this I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s my reading of Bronte works that shapes this thought. But I look out our windows on these gray winter mornings and it’s enchanting…the dark, misty blue, with inky black trees.

I’m aware that sometimes my thoughts precede my drawings. And other times, the drawings precede the thoughts. But it all works together to transform an otherwise dull gray day to something evocative, romantic, enchanting, or just whimsical. Am I merely living in a fantasy world in my head and in my sketchbooks? I don’t think so. I think this is a necessary element to living fully, to drinking the juice from each and every day we’re given. To take the ordinary, the gray, the not-so-desirable and transform it in some way to extraordinary, vibrant, and delightful has got to be part of our lives.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it here again: My pens are the straws through which I drink the juice of life. Won’t you join me this year in drinking deeply of your life…gray days and all!

**Afterword:  Although this post was written and drawn a few days prior to my previous post, it occurs to me now that drawing has the ability to transform on many levels. It not only transforms your outlook, your view on life; it also can transform you, your thoughts, your questions, your frustrations. This is what my Drawing Your Life Mini Lessons are all about. As I work to get these in paper form, enjoy reading through them again. And I’d love to hear from you as you read them, how are they helpful, what do you glean from them? Thanks!

The Balloon Tree

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I sit outside, in a brief interlude of warmth and peace, gazing up at the winter trees. An idea begins to form…those lines, those lovely lines…they make shapes, hold spaces where shape resides.

The idea I have doesn’t take shape fully yet. I’m searching, thinking about these spaces and the shapes that inhabit them.  I can’t sleep ’cause the formless shape won’t let go. I rise early to search it out on paper. I draw.

The shapes that come out are round inside those lined spaces. I didn’t know ’til now. All these circles, these doodles in the tree, the tree that sits IN the path, with a couple others off the path. Why am I drawing this? I still can’t make it out.

I’m nearing the end of my search, my doodling, and one circle, which has lifted off the tree develops a tail and becomes a balloon. A balloon! Oh! How fun! But I still don’t know it’s significance, or why, or what for.

I paint. White opaque gouache mixing with the watercolor, some light tones, some vibrant. Enjoying the process of searching. I “finish” the doodled page wondering what it is, why I had to get this thing out of my head. Would this just be a searching page with no answer? That’s ok.

I go to rinse the chalky water out of my bucket, I clean dishes leftover from the night before. I wonder, a bit frustrated with myself (once again), why I do so many different types of creative stuff, even different types of drawings and  paintings? Why can’t I stick with just one thing? Just splashy watercolor? Or just pastel? Just portraits? Or just knitting? JUST ONE THING?

And it hits me full force, hands in the sudsy dishwater. It’s my tree. My creative tree. Full of bright colored balloons sitting there waiting for the right breeze to come along and nudge them free. No two balloons exactly alike.  Some have shades that are similar, but each one waits to be loosened from the lines. To rise gently and softly, without fanfare, off into the great beyond.

I’m no longer frustrated with myself. I get it now. It’s all ok, these differing ways of creating. It’s because of my Tree, and I like that tree. And there are many balloons yet to be released. And I can’t wait to see what each of them is going to be.

Thank you for checking in on the Balloons that get nudged out of the Tree. Maybe you have a Balloon Tree too? Please share it with me. 🙂

Just Wonderin’…

…what’s up ahead…

I’m strangely wordless as I face a New Year rolling in. 2012 was a beautiful year, for many reasons both creatively and personally. I’ll detail some of that in an upcoming post. But I feel a sweet hush around me as I contemplate a new year ahead. The possibilities. The unexpected. The dreams. The hopes. Even the fears are all a part of my reverie. No resolutions. Only to keep on looking around me with my eyes peeled for Beauty, both evident and not-so-evident. I sit with some yarn in my hands. I have desires to put more of my designs out there for others to knit and crochet. If you’d like to peek at my knitting blog, or follow me over there, please do! But these things always morph and change with the seasons. I’ll go where inspiration takes me, drawing it along the way.

Thank you. Thank you so very much for visiting here. For checking in on the crazy things that run in my head and down through my arms to pens, paints, paper and yarn. You just don’t know how I appreciate your presence here. May 2013 bring you beautiful days to draw and paint and create!!

Pulling Down Deep Heaven: Part 2

If I climbed up

to the tippy-top of a tree,

and held out my bucket-

Could I catch the sun-drops,

and keep them with me…

…then share with others

at the base of the tree?

-jpe

If any creative act, (be it visual, musical, theatrical, written or otherwise), is a definitively spiritual endeavor, then there are certain qualities to that activity that are common to all of us.  For one, there’s a sense that a battle is going on. At the very least, the effort involved in climbing to the tippy top of the tree to pull down heaven is hard work and can be very exhausting.

Lately I have felt, alongside the exhilaration of creating, an increasing weariness. Participating in an art show, painting commissions, looking for and recording beauty can be very tiring in a manner different than other work tires.  My husband read one of his incredible short stories to the students and faculty at my school where I teach. He recounted how exhausting that was, to offer his work “out there” in the world.  As we drove home from this event, the weariness was palpable. Every time we talk to our daughter at college as she studies music, she is exhausted, pulling long hours in the practice room, theory tests, exams, and an unbelievable performing schedule. And my music educator friend, Sheri, told me in our swim team conversation, how tired and worn out she is at the holidays teaching music and performing in various holiday events in the area.

I am learning from a wonderful book by Steven Pressfield, that art is war. His book, titled, The War of Artaffirms the spiritual nature of our creative commitment to bring beauty into the world. He speaks in a martial tone, rallying us as if we artists are, in actuality, soldiers fighting a cosmic war.  He outlines the weapons needed to pull down deep heaven, though he does not use that specific phrase.

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The effort involves showing up to the page or canvas, doing our scales, honing our craft, working on technique, practicing, preparing. And then we must offer it, share it, put it out there, get in the ring or out on the dance floor, run the race, fight the good fight, never giving up no matter how beat down we may feel by critics, reviews, circumstances, or our own thoughts.  We are to fight the resistance that comes in any form it may throw at us to keep us down, or out of the playing field.

Being engaged even on a small level in pulling down deep heaven is no mere trifling. It requires a soldierly mindset mixed with childlike mirth as we place one foot in front of the other up the tree, climbing ’til we reach the tippy top.  The climb down may be harder…carrying what we have gathered there from the heavens, and then summoning the courage to share it with others.  It requires miles and miles of walking or riding on a donkey to an unfamiliar town, to give birth to our heaven-sent burden in less than ideal surroundings and circumstances.  We are to write, draw, paint, make music in and around our messy lives.  None of it seems to go the way we imagined or think it should. I have a hunch Mary, the mother of Jesus, may have thought this as well. Yet we are to continue on this journey, like Mary and Joseph, until it is time.  Time for what heaven wants to bring to us and through us, be it a babe, a sonnet, a drawing, a song.

May we have the martial spirit of Mary in our hearts and daily lives this season.  May we be encouraged by the thought that our exhaustion in creative endeavors is due to the fact that we are in the fight: the calling and work of pulling down deep heaven.

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I wrote the above several days before Friday, December 14th, the day someone entered a school in Connecticut with the express purpose of killing.  Children, adults, his aim was all.  If ever there was proof that a battle is going on, and that we need to engage in that battle to bring down the light of Deep Heaven to shine in these dark days, it is now.

Rise up, oh Artists of all kinds…Rise up and wage battle with the darkness! For we do not fight in vain!

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*If you missed Part 1 of this series and would like to read it, click here.

Do I Dare?

It might be fun!

Whilst knitting lately in between drawing and commission works, I’ve developed an itch to blog about knitting.  So I’m thinking of swinging a bit over on Drawn2Knit.  If you’re interested in all things knitting, crocheting, yarn, etc….please join me!  I will still post here as well!

So much to draw and knit….so little time!

A Big Day!

Today we take our oldest child to college. A small truck and a van are packed full of her things. And I’m wondering if it will all fit into her dorm room at Wingate! A host of emotions have been flurrying around our house and in my heart lately.  But this morning, I’m thankful.

Thankful for this beautiful daughter that we were given the privilege of parenting and watching her grow up into a young lady.

Thankful for the incredible opportunity she has to study the beauty of Music at Wingate University.

Thankful for family and friends who will be supporting her in their thoughts and prayers.

Thankful for all the new friends and “family” at Wingate she will meet, and who will become her lifelong friends.

Thankful for the unbelievable miracle of provision for her to go to this marvelous school.

Thankful for endings…and for Beginnings.

We love you Catie!

The Dreaming Tree

I sit beneath the dreaming tree
letting heart run wild and free.

The path to here is long but sure.
For crazy days this is my cure.

Lean and long, grow and gaze,
Wonder at how beauty plays

On dappled thoughts here and there.
My tree whispers love and care.

-jpe (jennifer pilkington edwards)

My Dad’s Poem in response to this one:

Your Dreaming Tree means much to me
Because of it I long to see
My own dazzling Dreaming Tree
To sit beneath and once again a poet be
For time and care and pain, all three
Have robbed my soul of dreams of He
Whose very soul made my tree.

-edward lee pilkington 8/4/2012

And then, my response to his poem:

Dear dad, be assured of thy dreaming tree
For it grows beside my own, so tall and willowy.

Though many storms have bent it low
It sways in the breeze with graceful flow.

Knots and scars have made it strong
Weathered bark withstands the throng.

Within its willows live countless ones
Who through its branches have seen the Son.

I know one day you will once again be
dreaming under your willow tree.

When time and care and pain is o’er
We’ll sit  ‘neath our trees on that glistening shore.

And write our poems of the Beauty we see
Then dance the days together, just my daddy and me.

-jpe 8/4/2012

Maybe I’m Just A Little Girl…

This is the refrain from one of my FAVORITE songs by one of my FAVORITE musician/singer/songwriters: Mindy Gledhill.

You just gotta listen to her music!

It’s the most wonderfulest!