Contemplation and Renewal

Mercy by the Sea Labyrinth

A few weeks ago I met my two sisters for a picnic lunch at Mercy by the Sea, a retreat and conference center on the ocean in Madison, Connecticut. It is a very peaceful and tranquil place run by the Sisters of Mercy. People come here from all walks of life to seek contemplation and find renewal. We had a wonderful time walking the grounds and the labyrinth, sharing what was going on in our lives, and sitting quietly on the benches in contemplation. We went away a few hours later feeling refreshed and renewed. There was an incredible feeling of the presence of God there, or spirit or higher power or whatever you would like to call spiritual presence in the framework of your own beliefs, and we all felt it.

Even though we were just visiting the grounds as guests and not attending a retreat, I came away from the visit with profound insight. Since the new year I have been struggling with balancing my tendency to do too much with my need to stay healthy. Trying to figure out how to cut back my activities when I want to do it all, and more. Focusing on what is important and what isn’t, and much of it is not important. Learning to let go of too many things being grasped too tightly and just go with the flow.

Art journaling what I love

Last week I art journaled about the things that are important to me. I have not done much art journaling over the past 6 months as I was not motivated and got involved in several quilting projects. There are only so many hours and minutes (86,400 seconds) in the day. I am learning to accept that I cannot do everything that crosses my path and need to follow my heart’s desire and do what inspires me at the moment.

I have been sidetracked by illness the past few months and I need to accept that I need a lot of time to myself right now. I was feeling unsettled and upset with myself that I was not accomplishing much and spending too much time on the couch. I usually like to run around and do a lot of different things. But I have had three medical procedures since July 3, exactly 2 months ago today, all while working full time at a brand new job. I am new baby in the house tired 🙂 Being at the retreat center made me realize that I need to accept what is right now, move through the process with grace and ease, and slow down.

I took up crocheting in July as a way of dealing with everything that was going on and found that it was a calming, meditative, centering activity. Many of my creative practices are like that and bring renewal for me. Crocheting is also very portable. I joined ravelry.com, the Facebook for yarn people, and found inspiration and patterns that I liked. I finished this shawl last week and find it so comforting to wear. I would like to design my own crochet pieces, especially after seeing the international documentary “Yarn” on Netflix, but I need to learn more about crocheting first. One day, one thing at a time.

Follow Your Dreams

Exuberance

I walked down to the lake on Saturday afternoon wearing just a sweatshirt because we had an unusually warm sunny day for a Connecticut winter. There are a few park benches where you can sit and look at the ripples in the water and let time slowly pass by. It was so peaceful.

When you let time stand still like that you feel rejuvenated and renewed. You gain perspective on your life. Later on, when I was home, I went downstairs to my art studio and exuberance is what came out in my art journal. Giving myself space to just be let the feelings flow through me.

I had attended a volunteer meeting at Epoch Arts that morning and I am happy to say that I will be teaching two mixed media art workshops there in the next session of classes, art journaling and inspiration cards for ages 12 through adult. Teaching and sharing art has been a dream of mine for a long while. You need to follow your dreams.

Tonight I decided to relax and not do anything but daydream and listen to the rain on the skylight. My thoughts drifted like the ripples on the water at the lake and I realized I need to spend more time like this and less time rushing around in busyness and activity. The world isn’t going to stop turning if I miss a meeting. The dishes in the sink can wait until tomorrow. The To Do list will always be there and most items on the list can wait another day, or longer.

What is truly important? The people you love – your family, your true friends, that special person in your heart and life. And you are so important – that person inside of you who needs to take time for self, to relax, and to just be.