Golden Girls, Jazz, and the Artist Within

Tuesday again.

Another Sister Circle.

Today was a small group.  Just the three of us.  We sat close together at one end of the U-shaped table setup.  We are on Chapter 4 of Find Your Way Home: Words from the Street, Wisdom from the Heart.  The topic of discussion was “Finding Your Place in the Circle.”

Lately I have found myself immersed in art and meeting wonderful new artist friends.  A couple of weeks ago one of them shared with the group I was in that we are all artists.  When someone expressed her doubt, the artist explained that as we are created in our Creator’s image–a Creator who is most definitely an artist–we all have a bit of artist in us.  With this in mind, last week I took markers and colored pencils and paper to our Sister Circle and we all “created” while we talked–some with words, some with drawing, some with abstract doodling.  It was beautiful–every bit of it.

Yesterday I had the chance to visit with one of my new favorite artists.  She teaches art lessons and often finds people in recovery sitting with her, discovering their inner artist. Healing.  Restorative.  As we talked she mentioned mandalas and how they can tap into one’s artistic and spiritual sides.  When I saw that we were talking about our own Circles today, I thought it would be perfect.

This morning I printed out several different mandalas for us each to choose and color.  When I arrived, there were not many women.  So it was that the three of us sat and talked.  Both had been before so we were able to jump right in.  When it came time to choose a mandala and medium, they both chose markers.  One chose the butterfly and another chose the circular pattern.  I really liked the butterfly myself, so I chose it.  I enjoy colored pencils so I used those.

I love the bold colors and the combining of areas to make a different and beautiful picture of the butterfly.

I love the bold colors and the combining of areas to make a different and beautiful picture of the butterfly.

I love that the circles are all flowing back into one.  Again the dark and bright and bold use of color and uncolored spaces combine to make a powerful work of art.  Love this one too.

I love that the circles are all flowing back into one. Again the dark and bright and bold use of color and uncolored spaces combine to make a powerful work of art. Love this one too.

We talked about all sorts of things.  Relationships.  Considering ourselves worthy of healthy relationships.  Respecting ourselves enough to require that our relationships be healthy.  Golden Girls, and how cool would that be to live with our best girlfriends.  Jazz music and whether we like it or not (two yes, one no).  I was very touched that both of these women said how much they liked having this time together.  Humbled.  It is just a time of conversation.  Nothing more really.  And yet, so much more.

As we finished up, I looked over at what they had done.  Both had used big, vibrant colors.  Both had created something that was outside of what the lines were asking to be done.  They had created their own in the midst of what was there.  They were artists.

My butterfly--all pastels, all symmetrical, all planned and put together.  I said something about the hard part being choosing what color to use each time and K said, "Not for me."  I want to have that sense of freedom.  To be able to breathe.

My butterfly–all pastels, all symmetrical, all planned and put together. I said something about the hard part being choosing what color to use each time and K said, “Not for me.” I want to have that sense of freedom. To be able to breathe.

I looked back at my work.  I had stuck to the pastel colors.  Whenever I looked at the grays or browns, I just couldn’t bring myself to use them.  I had made sure it was symmetrical and stayed inside every line, literal and figurative, there was.  I sighed.  This is where I want to step out of the box–to create.

I smiled and touched each picture.  “See,” I said softly.  “Look.  You’re artists.  You’ve done such a great job of creating something new.”

I paused. “I want to be an artist too.”

K nodded her head at me, shrugged, and said, “Well, hey, at least you is tryin’.”

Y’all.

Love.  Her.

I love both of them.  They’ve known each other for a long time.  In their world of people using other people for a means to an end, they have each other to depend on and trust.  At times today it was like they were speaking their own language.  I listened and smiled and envied them their friendship with laughs that spoke volumes more and thoughts that were so in sync that they could finish each other’s sentences.  That’s the stuff the Golden Girls were made of right there.  It was an honor to sit and be a part of it for a little while.

And then, the encouragement from one whom I’ve only just begun to get to know.

Better. Than. Gold.

Okay, truthfully, I’ve never been a big fan of gold.  Let’s see, it was better than a big ol’ King sized sweet tea over flaky ice from Nu-Way.  Yes, it felt that good.  And even more refreshing.

She’s right too.  I am trying.  To tap that inner artist.  To refuse to let my fear of not being perfect or worry over what others will say inhibit me from creating what is on my heart, what lies in my soul–whether with words or paint or colored pencils.  Or maybe even markers.  It’s just that today I fell back into that “let’s keep it lovely” mode.  Perhaps it’s time for me to go back to finger painting and playing with playdough for a while.  Time to get a little messy and see what beauty can be found in that.  There’s the real challenge–finding beauty in the mess and brokenness.  Because it is there to be found. 

Yesterday when I was visiting my new artist friend, she said, “I don’t believe in throwing anything away.”  She laughed.  “I think you can find beauty in anything.”  As I walked around her yard, I could see that it was true.  It reminded me of my visit to the farm and thinking about redemption.  Nothing was wasted.  There was redemption in everything.

Today one of my sweet friends called to check in and asked about our Sister Circle.  I laughed and said I was enjoying it, “Though if you asked for a mission statement, I don’t know what it would be.  I’m not sure we have one.”  As we talked for a few more minutes, it hit me.  “We do have a mission statement actually–‘to build relationships.’  That’s what we want to do.  Build healthy relationships in a safe space.”

And there it is.  In a nutshell.

And I think we might just be getting there.  When K, my new friend who initially said she had no artist in her and shared she just doesn’t like jazz music, took the time to stop and encourage me, I felt the tears prickling, crowding in ready for release.  To have someone see inside you and name it and let it out.  Well.  Ahem. Such a tender moment.  Perhaps one of the most loving, grace-filled, and precious gifts. 

She’s right.  I am trying.  In the meantime I am thankful for women like these two beautiful young women who honored me with their company today.  They teach me what real strength looks like.  And real friendship.  And love.  Bless ’em and I hope they sleep safe and sound tonight.  And every night.  They are my sisters and I love them.