Owls are intereprted in many different ways. Many people fear the owl because they represent death. However, I like to think of them as messengers of what is unknown in our life. Just as the owl flies back and forth into the darkness. So, can we move from the physical world to the spiritual. The place where magic, mystery and ancient knowledge resides.
This week, I went on a nature hike with my daughter and watched how she “watched.” Much like the owl, who takes in it’s surroundings she stayed focused on her task whether that be building a snowman or picking up a forgotten leaf from fall. Yet, she is keeping that balance of consistently “checking in” on the inside, examining with a inquisitive eye on what lies before her and looking within with silent wisdom.
This is what I search for in my art and in my walk through life. Being OK with the unknown yet knowing that I am gently being guided by the mystery of life and finding meaning along the way that leads me closer to who I am and where I am the most free.
Like the owl that flies overhead, wisdom allows me to sense what is felt but not seen. Or, what I know that which is true but cannot be proven with all out certainty..
A craft can help us to check in to this wisdom. “Tinkering,” as they call it is not a waste of time but rather can be looked at as a way to find one’s quiet center. Give time for this wisdom that is yours and yours alone!
After almost 3 months of being too busy for art, I finally started painting again. Which I am not advocating but rather finding new ways of bringing it back into my life. However, Life is what happens. A new job, getting the kids ready for school, taking those last days of summer. It all can get in the way of our creative pursuits. Yet, what I often really need is taking a breath stepping back into the studio and start painting. That is just what I did today and boy did it feel good! I have had this large blank canvas in my art room for months, I then found the time to sketch out something that had inspired me (months before that). Today I decided with my four year old in tow to just get it out and put paint down. Putting the pause button on all the planning of how I expect the painting to be and to start painting. It made me think of all the times we often busy ourselves to oblivion and think that there is no time for us. For making marks on paper, starting that project that has been going round and round in our heads. It is never, the perfect time and there is always something else that can be done. However, our spirits cannot always be put on the back burner. It is important to make the time for ourselves. Our creative natures yearn for it.
My four year old had her own painting going while I had mine. However, mine soon became her interest and instead of redirecting her back to hers I let her help mom out! I have done this before but this time was different because of all the pre-planning that had happened in my mind with this particular piece. I knew there would be some mountains here, a sky there and maybe some brush in the foreground. I had it all planned out in my head until my four year old started making marks. There was no pre-planning in her marks. She put pink in the sky and yellow in the foreground and I cringed at first and then just let it be. We went with it, adding to the pink and using the yellow we somehow made it work. She ran out of steam and I proceeded. Letting the painting take shape, watching it change, and giving that time back to me. So, I am back at it. Painting once again.
Sharing a True Legacy..Honor, Passion and Purpose. Women’s Air Service Pilot (W.A.S.P.) Elizabeth Strohfus
Elizabeth “Liz” Strohfus ( formerly Betty Wall). WWII W.A.S.P. (Women’s Air Service Pilot)
When you meet a person of great bravery and character it is hard to forget. Our paths crossed right in front of the waffle iron at the local hotel that my in-laws were staying at. A great big smile, a sparkle in her eyes is what I first took note of in this 92 year old American hero.
She was one of only 1074 Women Air Force Service Pilots ” or “W.A.S.P.S” as they were called. Strohfus taught instrument flying to male cadets and later ferried B-17 and AT-6 war birds around the country, according to the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame website. They were even put through drills that challenged their flying abilities and that men would later rely upon in real life combat situations.
The military disbanded the W.A.S.P. program in 1944, before the war ended, and sent the women home without veteran status. After the war “nobody wanted to hear about women pilots,” Strohfus said. They didn’t even know we existed. I had everything in my closet, my uniform, my pictures, my books. I told the kids, “when I die, put it in my coffin.”
However, she hasn’t put a lid on this story. Not in the least. Instead, she is keeping it alive. At air shows, schools and even for my family during our waffle breakfast. As she should, because in telling her story, she is honoring her legacy and the legacies of all the service men and women she served with.
She is sharing the importance of following one’s dream. Following a dream that seemed almost impossible for a young woman in the 1940s. She wanted to fly, and serve her country. “I would have done anything to help the war effort, we all did,” said Strohfus.
Telling the story of a group of women who served right along with the men. A group of women who were humble, gracious and selfless. They had a passion for flying and were willing to fly to support the war effort. A story that is no longer forgotten but remembered and told by a woman with sparkly eyes and dangling aircraft earrings.
Strohfus recently was awarded the congressional medal of honor along with the two hundred surviving W.A.S.PS. Her humility was apparent Strohfus said she’s glad to finally receive recognition for her achievements. But then she paused and grinned and said, “The award is nice, but heck, I just like to fly airplanes.”
We should all pay homage to this woman. For her perseverance to follow her dreams despite all obstacles that may have been in her way and for what she did for our country, for our freedom. We should continue to share her story, pay it forward. keep it alive
The decision to create art, is one that can be easy or one that is laden with struggle, fear or plain old procrastination. Just as in life, as it unfolds for us stage by stage we see our part within it and make every effort to be an active participant. Or, we put on the brakes, being pulled along for the ride.
Creating is an active example of decision making. In art we begin the process by choosing whether to draw or paint. Or in which order. A rough sketch here, some color there it all takes shape into our idea of what we are creating. There takes planning. Whether we are conscious of it or not there is thought. In order for the artist to make an informed decision of what there next step may be there is an instinct that is relied upon. A gut instinct, or a natural inkling on what to do next.
Creating helps us develop this part of us that has this desire to put our own story into the world. Whether that be a piece of art, or a sharing who we are with others, we are pushed move out from our center. Like a ripple in a pond, once we throw that first stone, our center widens to include ideas, people and ways of doing things that we may not have considered in the past. Art shakes up what is within us that may be stuck or feeling as though we do not have something important to say. We are no longer silenced, we have a voice.
Making marks on paper, putting pigment where we feel it is needed. This aesthetic decision making we knew as children. It was a tactile way of finding our way in the moment. We were first presented with a set of tools, a paintbrush, a pencil, a crayon that we could choose and act upon. One stroke led to another, until we knew our piece was finished. The beginning and ending of something we created had a natural order to it that felt complete or whole when it was done. Without questioning when or how to make our next move we proceeded with a confidence that was only threatened as we aged. Those first marks turned into symbols of what had importance and meaning. If you remember your art as a child there was a story that took place in your sketches. As a child artist, you made a story of your world and how you had seen yourself within it. You had created a feeling and depth within an image that that told your unique story and how you fit in the overall plan.
Creating art provides us with options which is part of the decision making process. When we create art there are unlimited options available to us. Even, when we see limitation in our art there is often unlimited opportunities and choices available to us. Art proceeds to expand our horizon to see further than we thought we could. This expanded view unveils solutions to perceived problems.
When we create we bring an image from the inner world to the outer. This starts with a feeling of inspiration! Starting from this place of true inspiration is a good way to make art but also helps us create the change in our life that we crave. The more we can listen to our own story from the inside and translate it to the outside world the more happy we will be with the outcomes of our decision making.
Regular exercise in art making helps us organize our creative ideas. It also helps us focus or concentrate on what is important. The bits of information we get during these times of art making or creating helps shape who we are and what we want in our life.
With art, when you pick up the pen or paintbrush on day two or fifteen of practice you pick it up right back up where you have left off. The image or idea was there all along and with patience and practice one can continue to fill out its boarders until there is a clear picture. Thus, being led to a clearer understanding of the choices that were made and what decisions need to be made and acted on.
Then it comes down to acting. Acting on our instincts, throwing that first pebble again. This takes trust and a knowing that the decisions that we make will provide a sustenance that will make us want to create again.
The experience of life balance or attempt for life balance was so clear to me recently while flying my first kite. Just to get it off the ground felt like a miracle in aeronautics. Our five year old was the kite runner, yet there was so much wind he only needed to hold it in place as the wind moved past it. This whole process, of waiting, holding and balancing the kite is very much like the process of following life and where it may lead us.
The kite flyer is in all of us, consistently striving to hold onto our anchor or dowel as life pulls and tugs us in new directions. Our failures, let downs, and personal blocks are sometimes (old ways), that as humans, we try to hold onto. Trying something different like flying a kite can put a different perspective of how life can really be. It was amazing how just a little wind little wind can lift one to experience life effortlessly.
In life and in kite flying, we wait with anticipation for that right lift that will carry us with minimal effort or force. Because, with too much tether we barely catch our lift but rather limp along. A balance of letting out enough of who we are in the world without giving all of what we have in us away. With a little grit and determination, we hold on tight and we force change or things to happen for us in a certain way. A particular outcome. Forcing something that does not fit keeps us grounded. The fewer options we think we have in our life keeps us grounded. Creativity thrives on the many, on the endless possibilities that is available to us if we are open and willing to listen. Letting go and listening to the our inner compass helps us determine which way the wind is blowing or whether we need to put forth effort or be guided in the moment. When we live this way we discover self determination and a new life that appears without lift.
So we wait, and listen, to be guided by something greater than who we are. And just like that we are air bound! How we got there we do not know, yet we are there just the same. We watch in amazement as we fly, soar with pure joy and exhilaration. It almost takes our breath away. Quickly, we learn to be guided. It pulls on our heart strings, and we remember yes this is how it feels to be free. Feeling our way along, we fall behind this force, we are led and we have “let go.”
This freedom, we may have felt at times in our life or not at all. This is uncharted territory to be in this new place of unexpected change and growth. If we feed into this fear we will suddenly be taken off course or take a sudden nose dive back to earth.
Without knowing where the winds of change may take us we start to feel the same anxiety we felt before we ever left the ground. We worry that there may not be enough wind to fill our sails. We start to question what fills us out. Keeps us expansive and fulfills us from within. We pay attention to the wind direction, to those things are in our life that fulfill us.
So we gently fall behind this grace once again, and there is stillness. Pure, stillness and a peace as we hang in the balance of where life can begin for us. Being fully present to where it may lead us. To be gentle with ourselves and others as we change and as life changes around us. The freedom to be more of who we are without imposing too many restrictions.