Dreams

Pilgrim Soul ~ A Space to Become You Again.

unnamed "You're like a jigsaw and all the pieces are coming together". That's what my mam said to me recently.

"Hope and Memory have one daughter and her name is Art, and she has built her dwelling far from the desperate field where men hang out their garments upon forked boughs to be banners of battle. O beloved daughter of Hope and Memory, be with me for a little." ~ WB Yeats 

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When I recently came across this statement by WB Yeats, I immediately understood what he meant. I was blown away. I can't even tell you what it affirmed in me. Only a poet could nail it.

Ever since I can remember, I have sought refuge from the world. When I was very young, I remember imagining a secret underground space in our garden. In this space, me and my friends could gather and we would have a world, all to ourselves, in which we could play. My coveted world was a safe space, a fun place, a thing of wonder.

As I got a little older, I got my wish.

I grew up in the countryside. We spent long days building camps, forts and bases. This was our turf. We would gather, sit on blocks, arranged in a circle, they were like altars. We would tell stories, jokes and tales, tease each other and play.

Hay barns, fields, farms and forestry were the canvas on which to express ourselves and that, we did. We created a world of our own, we tended to it. We belonged. It was our place of retreat, the fortress of our becoming. 

Those were the best days. I feel blessed to have known them.

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I think I have always yearned for that again. A world in which I could devote myself, to be free again, to be me again. Because we should never stop becoming, should we?

We think 'adulthood' is the destination.. once we grow up, there's no more becoming, there's no one else I could be. This is it. This is me. We settle. 

I was just thinking about it today, it's not about growing up.. it's about growing out. Pushing out our edges. Embodying as much of ourselves as we can.

Unsettling

I think this has defined my journey all along. I now know, this is what my recurring dream, the one in which I discover secret rooms in endless houses, is about. I believe I have been all my adult years trying to find my way back to a time in my life I cherished. It was sacred. I believe it's what has brought out my creativity and why creative practice has become so important to me. It is my way in to the practice of devotion.

12 Years ago, I began envisioning an idea of a gathering place, somewhere that would act as a touchstone, somewhere I could gather with the likeminded and delve in again to 'becoming ourselves'. It's a world I have been itching to create. 

But first, I had a lot of learning to do, a lot of mistakes to make, a dose of what it costs the soul to settle. I had to get really fired up. Now It's clear. I've identified the way in, the way back to devotion is to exercise our creative powers. The powers through which we can express and shape ourselves.

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To me, this means to engage in activities and with people that help you reconnect with your true self, your essence. To keep alive in you, your hope, your joy, your spirit. To animate in you, the person you already know you are, want to be or are becoming.

I want to build a camp for that. 

Somewhere to retreat from 'the desperate field of battle'. To connect you (and me) with others who will get it and want the same thing. To find a tribe, a community, a sense of belonging. Think of it as a charging station.

I've been readying myself for years. It's time.

I'm in the early stages of building my dwelling, far from the maddening crowd; in honour of hope and the nurturing of memories of who we are, though creative self and soul nourishing activities.

I have found a space, in which I will host gatherings. It's in the vibrant and inspiring Craft Village in Rathcormack, Co Sligo. Right in the shadow of the majestic Ben Bulben, less than a mile from the resting place of WB Yeats and right on the Wild Atlantic Way. In this space, there are ancient faery forts, nature trails and authentic round wicker huts. There is a creative community and a weekly market. It's welcoming, it's recharging, it's enchanting.

There is such beauty and inspiration in this place. It feels so right (and a little bit wobbly). I know I have found a place to call home and to continue the work of becoming. And I want you to accompany me.

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We are all artists. We just need a space to find ourselves again <3

My new creative space, Pilgrim Soul has been born. I'll post more updates as they happen.

I'm so excited (and nervous) but mostly excited.

I'll be creating a mailing list soon (ahem, the perpetual long finger) so you can sign up & stay in touch!

Always, Amanda xoxo

 

What makes a person get out of bed?

Is it purpose? Some promise that thrusts them ahead?

Lust for life? Usefullness?

Uncomfortable bed?

Maybe it’s hope and love or a wife

Chemistry? Energy? Beautiful life?

*

Is it a case of not mattering dread

or of not seeking answers

in books by their bed?

*

Or are they awakened, absent of fear

and shameful existing that threatens to sear

through every thread, that fabrics their being

And today they can trust in themselves to be seen

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Just something I was wondering ;)

Always, Amanda xoxo

For Every Bird, a Nest

For Every Bird, a Nest I've been restless in my creativity lately. Actually, I think that's always the case. I have this thing with moving forward, progressing, wanting to develop my art in directions beyond my current ability. I'm constantly wresting with where I am and where I want to be. And although I know

there is only now, still, this is what I do.

I feel like I'm a better artist in my head than I am on paper... Always trying to catch up with myself.

I'm always expirimenting, jumping from one thing to the next, inspired by experience, ideas and the works of other artists. Now I'm painting nests, again inspired by paintings I've seen. Also I love the idea of nests, I've always called myself a nester.

I'm practicing and exploring as I go... There's more paint being used... more freedom being sought and more courage being required.

I am not a trained artist. I'm almost 40. I'm just beginning, just learning and though I carry inside me the critics fear that it's 'too late', that 'I'm not good enough', 'not ready to go out into the creative world calling myself an artist', I do it anyway. I have to.

My beginnings are humble, my learning is happening before your eyes... what you're seeing is my efforts... my attempts, my sometimes clumsy, sometimes clueless, always authentic honouring of this fascinated THING inside me.

So, I think this line from Ms Dickinsons poem 'For Every Bird a Nest" is fitting for me... I will not let myself hide or feel ashamed because of my beginner status. I'm building my modest nest out here, before you, on the ground.

Thank you for supporting me

Always, Amanda xoxo

Trading Dread for Gratitude

Something in me changed last year. I can't explain it. For someone practiced in the habit of pushing the boat out, I did something very out of character. Readiness

I'm a bit of a control freak, a fixer... a need to always feel on top of, if not ahead of where I'm at.

As if readiness suddenly arrives, announcing with total confidence that a journey may begin.

It's a well rehearsed worry, based in the belief that I'm not ready, not good enough...yet'.

Then almost a year ago, I kind of threw myself out the door only half dressed. It was a fit of inspiration and I've been running around like a half naked women trying to dress herself in motion ever since. (Might explain the dreams)

So, what I realise now is that the not ready...not enough, has to be part of the journey. You can't wait for that to expire first, before beginning something.

You have to start somewhere. Although it's a hard habit to break, what I also realise is that when inspiration strikes, you get infected by something more powerful than worry. When truly, deeply inspired, the driving seat is reclaimed.

I'll be honest. I'm easily overwhelmed. It doesn't take much to stress me out.

Yesterday, as I traveled between 3 meetings, covering over 300 miles, I absorbed a huge amount of information, support, guidance and assistance. My mind, although stuffed, also (as usual) found room for question and doubt.

I spent my day with 3 people, non of whom question my readiness or ability. Each took time out of their day to help me navigate the next steps on this path, they only see my potential. This has been the case not just yesterday but over the past few months. I have had nothing but believers, encouragers and teachers show up for me!

"Oh my god, what have I done!" I confided in one, who is a friend I've know a long time. "well, you can't give up" was her response. Simple. That was NOT an option.

You know how they say sometimes we can't see the wood for the trees? Well, my friend saw me struggling in the thickets, she grabbed a strimmers and she hacked.

Taking out her phone, she googled something I had been 'unable' to find through my 'I can't' filter, made a call and within minutes, we had a plan.

As I was driving home, my heart still racing, my throat tight and the knotted ball in my belly, I got so sick of myself and this reaction to challenge. Stress and overwhelm... it's exhausting and it does me no favours.

So I had a re-frame. I asked myself "why am I the only one worried about my ability?". "Why am I driving home from a day filled with guidance, inspiration and challenge with a feeling of dread?"

"Why don't I reach for gratitude instead?" And so I did. And suddenly, everything felt better, it all felt right.

I only have where I'm at, now, today. Where I'm headed is dictated entirely by me embracing that. I have to stop worrying about the lack of a woods because there 'aren't enough' trees. There will be, in time but only by planting them, one by one, by one.

One tree at a time... that's my plan.

I want to follow this up with a practice, so that I don't just arrive at it via anxiety anymore. I want to cultivate Gratitude, make it my go-to. I've spent too many years cultivating dread... I'm done.

If you have any suggestions on cultivating gratitude please let me know! I love music and audiobooks, so suggestions are welcome :)

 

Who did you use to be?

The forgotten one This piece is about re-connecting with a young part of me...

I've always had that 'something missing' feeling. You know that feeling you get everytime you go to the airport? Imagine that, everyday.

It's that sense of having forgotten... there's something I'm without.

I have had little memories of my child self, there's always been a disconnect. I coudn't remember me as a kid, no sense of her at all.

I have spent my life wondering what she was like, what did she like to do, what she wanted to be when she grew up.. who did I use to be?

 

In this past year, I went looking for my little one and I found her.

Here's something she told me:

She had a 'superpower' wish, to be invisible.

I asked her what that would afford her.

She said 'a place to hide'

New Year...Old Fear. How I'm facing it.

Time now to flourish  

 

Reflect and Resolve

As happens a woman with a history of depressive self loathing, at the end of days when she falls short of meeting her own expectations, 2014 draws to a close and she finds herself saying fare well to yester-day-year.

Reflecting on the lessons she’s grateful for, the growth she’s achieved, this woman is tantalised still by the divide between her current self and the self of her dreams, the one who exists ‘over there’. Dividing them, a river of doubt. Once again she finds herself resolving to stop pushing the boat out and blaming her defeat on the lack of a bridge.

Sound familiar? 

Here you stand, in the early fog of this new year, daring to promise yourself that THIS YEAR I will brave the divide between the me who dreams and the me who is dreamed. You are not alone, I stand here with you. Standing here used to scare me, it kinda still does.

I know why new beginnings hold such weight for women like us.

It’s because we convince ourselves that new beginnings are the corners we turn, around which we’ll finally escape our demons. But every time we begin, we inevitably get ambushed by those old, decrepit, gnarling fears.

Outsourcing our power

I know I’m guilty of it, especially when it comes to casting out risk and responsibility to the future me, the one who lives in tomorrow, Monday, next week, next year, as if to say ‘there is no fear where she is, let her do it’. My heart sinks when I think of future me, it’s not fair. All I’ve been setting her up for is sickness, overwhelm and regret.

Hoarding Powerlessness

There’s a younger part of me who hoards powerlessness, it seems to be the only way she can feel safe. I think she believes future me will rescue us. Then there’s everyday, caught-in-the-middle me, walking on eggshells because I’m afraid of upsetting the little one, but why?

Because the little one is more experienced in her truth and when everyday me dares to set about challenging it or releasing the powerlessness, it triggers an inner conflict, a fight for control.

Inner Peace Mission

This is not easy to admit, because it's always been my dirty secret and I feel very vulnerable making it known but I’m telling you this because I know I’m not alone, because I think emotional honesty is important when it comes to struggles with self worth and because naming conflict takes some of the energy from it, freeing it up for the work of making peace. I want peace for my little one, for our little ones.

Naming it

This powerless inner part, let's call her Jane (my middle name), is so easily torn down. Easily discouraged, dismissed, dismayed, demolished. She is easily diss’d. I used to really hate her for that, I judged her harshly, labelled her pathetic and weak, which just made her even more fragile.

To her, the belief of not being able is grounded in truth, absolute truth. When this truth gets triggered I feel her fear so intently that to distance myself from it is, at times, the best I can do.

I no longer hate my little one nor do I still identify completely with her, but in my inner world, she’s still living from that place of fear and is highly influential.

Fear of Flying

Jane is terrified of me flying my own plane. There I am launched, with magnificent wings and a bulging itinerary of ideas, she sits back in air traffic control, but due to her hyper vigilance, she soon sees nothing but danger. Without her confidence I can’t advance my mission and instead am left to linger in some sort of holding pattern before the inevitable crash and burn. What I end up with is that I feel like a shitty pilot, with yet another flop.

I know Jane has my best interests at heart but she serves me up an enormous burden of self doubt and frustration.

This year I want to move beyond the holding pattern, I want to give future me some fucking chance, she’s the one I’m going to become!

I’ve seen a lot of people in their new year writings, choosing a word to guide them through this new year, my guide word has yet to reveal itself, though I think belief is a strong contender.

Leveraging Lessons Learned

Until then, I turn to 2014 as my guide. It was the year of P.

Promise, Practice, Presence

It was the showing up, the identifying of the stepping stones that I consistently have failed to see, that they be enough, that the propelling of my being across the divide, one magnificent leap to ‘over there’ be not the only measure of progress or success. That I stop waiting on my future self to arrive and rescue me and to encourage my current self in building that bridge, so that they may meet half way. To make the effort every day and that my efforts, however small or large, are allowed be good enough. To do this with compassion, faith and care, step, by step, by step.

The goal is to become experienced, as a believer in me

I have personal goals, creative goals, professional and purpose goals, but they all hang in the balance of getting through to Jane, to convince her in letting me go.

Five years ago I couldn’t even believe in myself enough to get out of bed.

I didn’t believe there was life beyond the fog of depression.

I didn’t believe I could be loved.

But I did, there is and I am. 

We can do this.

Have you overcome an inner Jane fear? How did you do it and what difference has it made in your life? Please share what you know!

Always, Amanda xxx

Before I start dreaming... I want to tell you a story about Kate.

Artist: Kelly Rae Roberts Kate exuded the elusive (to me) quality of self belief. I was secretly fascinated with her and just as equally terrified that being around her would expose my lack of same. As much as I tried to hide it, it was there to be seen that I was a woman full of impossibility, perpetually limited in my ability to believe I could possess any value. I hadn't an ounce of belief in myself.

I didn't know Kate very well, we very briefly worked together sharing the role of customer service liaison in a hotel. I'd say in all, we spent about two whole working days together over the course of three months, the accumulation of 20 and 30 minute hand overs between shifts.

At this time, my marriage had just ended and I was a little shell shocked. My self esteem, which, in truth, had always been on the floor, was gone. I had no sense of self at all.

The only self respect I had to draw from at that point lay in the fact that I had finally admitted I was fucked.

I was attending counselling and about six months in to the deconstruction of my faulty self concept. What I didn't know then, was that I was also on the precipice of reconstructing an identity that would continue on through a process of true self retrieval.

I'm remembering Kate now because of a very simple, casual but profound exchange we had one day while talking in the hotel reception's back office.

She had brought in with her some of her own art and showed it to me. I remember thinking how simple it was, but yet so pretty, carefree and uplifting. I didn't realise it was her own work until she said she was going to ask the manager could if she could display it in the hotel.

I recall being aghast with the idea and simultaneously fearful for her confidence in making such a request. She was (in my mind) leaving herself wide open to ridicule should she be rejected, or even if he approved, that she display her paintings and expose herself to people's opinions on it's artistic merit.

She was an aspiring artist..self taught. Her work wasn't fine art, it was the kind of newly, self discovered artistic ability that I had discovered in myself over the years. I stood there looking at the paintings and struggling to believe that she would be so brave as to put them out there. I was also a bit crushed knowing I can do that kind of art too, but wouldn't EVER have the confidence to 'out myself' as having such aspirations and as a consequence, I didn't bother... what was the point?

Here's the crux, by way of my then twisted logic, this meant, if even I could do this... that meant it was shit and oh my GOD, she's going to be crucified. 

Imagine.. this is where my mind was at, I would NEVER in a million years have had believed anything I was capable of producing, had any value whatsoever, it could only be flawed and therefore, must remain hidden. In my ignorance, I deemed  this logic as also being applicable to Kate's art.

I wasn't to know it then, but this was a golden moment.

Either my face said it all or this girl had been confronted with my kind of thinking before or maybe she was just that tuned in, that astute... but she addressed the critic standing in the room with us in that very moment. Here's what she said:

"You know, some people might look at this and think 'that's not 'art', shur I could paint that myself and just slap a price on it'; but that doesn't bother me because I know the point is that they didn't paint it and probably never will... but I did, and that makes it art"

***RECORD SCRATCH*** 

Wow... did she just drive a wooden stake through the vampire that is my fear?

With that addressing, invited I would guess, by the fleeting terror in my eyes betraying my truth, she so gently but confidently assassinated an unsuspecting part of my critic that day. And she did it with such style... She didn't knock as much as a piece out of me, I was still intact, but she stood up to my inner bully; for herself, for me and in doing so, taught me something about how immediately effective that was. I'll never forget that.

I had been living my life in fear of judgement and ridicule all my years, to the extent of never truly expressing myself and as I stood there with her, still being afraid.. she saw it and modelled for me how to hit back.

That moment was a marker for me. I never even got to know Kate very well, but she gifted upon me a little bit of confidence and courage that day and slapped the bully of fear I had been completely oppressed by.

That was 4 years ago.

Rumi

After that, I started to apply that practice myself and you know what? It has never failed. I love that move. I wasn't applying it to the context of art making, because at that time it wasn't on my radar of priorities... I had other important inner work to do first.

The reason I think of her now of course, is that I have arrived (finally) now to the point she was at then. When I started painting in April this year, I had to slay this same vampire, but this time in the same context it was meant that day.

Tomorrow morning I head off for to Bantry to attend my first art retreat; A Space for Dreaming. And for me, it really is about dreams.

Am I brave enough now to, GULP, put what I create out there regardless of how it will be received?

To my surprise and delight, the answer is yes. Of course I still have to keep my eye on the vampires, because they still lurk, just waiting on an opportunity to pounce. I'm sure they always will, but thanks to Kate I can say:

"It's not about my creations being good, it's about my creations being here".

This is the mantra I am going to Bantry with tomorrow.

Okay, deep breath... I'm about to tell you something I've never told anyone before... 

For me to sign up for this retreat is big, it is the allowing of something in me that has been denied too long. I have dreams for Daisy Jane... I want to give her a chance. I have been holding her in since I was 19 years of age... she has been a logo on my business cards when I was a beautician, she was the name of my band when I played music, she was the logo on another business card when I did nail art parties, the artist name I signed on books, journals, the backs of bathroom stall doors when I would doodle and draw love hearts and flowers... she has been waiting all these year, just wanting to exist. This retreat is for her <3 ***watery eyes***

Here's the strangest thing of all. I told you in this post about our upcoming move, we're moving up north to a house that's sitting right in the mouth of a forest. When I first conceptualised Daisy Jane, I imagined her as a pixie and although I never manifested her or wrote her story, I did know that if I did, her home would be set in a forest. Hello!  ***Goosebumps*** 

So, in the words of another Forrest...."that's all I have to say about that" 

I'll keep you posted on the retreat as much as I can during the week... please send me positive vibes and do loads of believing for me and for Daisy Jane <3 <3

Always, Amanda xoxo

A tattooist named Mark, of all things

So in my dream last night I was getting an arm tattoo, inside forearm. My tattooist's name was Mark (Hello specific dreamer!).

I was chatting so much with 'Mark' (Lol... actually thats funny... a tattooist called 'Mark', just realised that) that he tattooed my hand instead.. I realised too late, he had already started.

We stopped because I was horrified, I didn't want a glove tattoo! so I went wandering to think about it. On my way I met 2 beauticians who gave me their opinions, which were against the hand tattoo. But I was already marked in big black ink and had to decide whether to go ahead with the thing or be stuck with non descript black ink marks on my hand.

I went with the tattoo... a black henna style one on my hand... We moved location to do it, out of the studio and into an open air market. It was on a snowcapped mountain somewhere & I felt really empowered in getting such a 'no no' tattoo in a 'no no' place.

Weird dream... I love the subconscious.

I've been wanting this forearm tattoo a couple of years now... hmmmm