Unreasonable Gratitude: An Artist Talks To God

Unreasonable Gratitude: An Artist Talks To God

I’ve had a partly-finished work laying around for some time now, and, frankly, I’ve been too shy to share it with you because it’s kind of…spiritual.

And spiritual stuff always feels very private to me. (Really private. Like, I’d rather tell you about my sex life than talk to you about my prayer life.)

But since I spend all my time haranguing you about getting your work out into the world whether you think it’s ready or not, I figured I’d better take this opportunity to walk my talk.

I think it’s going to be a little book called, “Unreasonable Gratitude: An Artist Talks To God.”

And it’s sort-of poems and sort-of not-poems, and they are all written as letters to God from a creative person. Some reflect my own direct experience, some don’t.

Here are the first two:

Daily Grind

Dear God,

The daily grind has got My Spirit by the neck.

There are too many things to do and too many hands pulling on me.

Even the things I like to do feel like a chore, and in all this quotidian chaos,
there is no room for me to Make Art.

But I hear you whisper that I was not created in Your Image
to run errands.

And that a year from now, no one will remember the imperfect nutritional value of tonight’s dinner, but everyone will remember the piece I create.

So, just for today, I will claim some time – iron-clad, non-negotiable, uncompromising, turn-off-the-phone time – to do The Work that you designed me to do.

That is my promise to you, so that I might fulfill Your promise of me.

Love,
Me.


The Only Way Out Is Up

Dear God,

Am I crazy? I am broke.

And everyone says
Get A Job.

But that feels tragic.

The moment I think about going to an office every day, I shut down.

Fluorescent lights are soul-sucking.
Routine is death.

But what makes me think I am So Special that I think I don’t have to work like everyone else?

And what makes me think that my work is so worthless that I can’t get paid for doing what I love most?

I feel trapped.

Clearly, the only way out is up.

Please, God, give me some of
Your Perspective
on this.

Help me see the brilliant, blessed Solution that’s exactly perfect right now and
Grant me the courage to take
Divinely-inspired action
right now.

Get me past my own ego and past my fear of other people’s judgment so that I might see my own shining path.

Let’s bring a little Creative Genius to this situation and help me get on with the
Real Work of making the dream of my life
(your dream for my life)
come true.

Love,
Me.


Thank you for reading.

P.S. On a totally different subject, I’ve had a few people inquire about the Start Right Where You Are teleclass and because we’ve only had one session, it is absolutely NOT TOO LATE to join in the fun.

“This is exactly what I’ve been needing. Thank you for creating the format and environment.” – T.J., Washington

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And please feel free to share this with a friend that you think could use some encouragement to break free from old, paralyzing habits & enjoy a more creative life.

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– SSB

What If You Don’t Have Faith In Yourself?

What If You Don’t Have Faith In Yourself?

It’s a cold, empty feeling, that not-having-faith-in-yourself feeling.

Especially in this bright-eyed American culture of mandatory optimism.

tumblr_nvoumiATey1slhhf0o1_1280But some days, it’s just not there. You don’t feel worthy, you don’t feel special, you don’t feel like your projects are even worth your while, much less anyone else’s while.

And you think, “I’ve got to generate more faith in myself. I must believe in myself more. I must increase my confidence!” And like a child making a wish, you squish your eyes closed and clench your fists and search in vain for even the slightest spark of faith, feeling ever more desolate.

Now anyone can tell you that eyes-closed-and-fists-clenched is no way to engage with the world.

And nothing destroys faith more quickly than a voice saying, “You’ve got to have faith in yourself!” Ugh.

(Much like the directive, “Be creative,” a phrase that has the amazing power to instantly annihilate the creativity of every single person in earshot.)

Here’s the good news: you don’t need to generate faith.

You just need to accept it.

Faith is not something that you have find within, it is a gift that is given to you from without.

Faith has already been extended to you:
I have faith in you.
God (however you want to understand that word) has faith in you.
Your friends have faith in you.
Your customers, clients and students have faith in you.
Your favorite teachers have faith in you.
The flowers in the garden have faith in you.
Every newborn has faith in you.

All you need to do is open yourself up to OUR faith – humbly accept our belief that you can do the work and do it well – and begin.

You don’t need to fake confidence yourself; you need to borrow confidence from us.

After all, we’re pretty smart, and we know you pretty well, and truly, we have complete faith in you.

So open your eyes, open your hands and open your heart and allow yourself to feel the years and years of faith, confidence and praise that has been heaped upon you, and then, honey — get to work.

The world needs your good work.

 

Because We Trust  in the Rightness of the Timing

Because We Trust in the Rightness of the Timing

morning glory photo

Attribution Some rights reserved by mira66 on flickr

I got this AMAZING email to day from Patti, who first got the “home study” Overcoming Procrastination Toolkit and got so much out of that that she’s now enrolled in the Get It Done Teleclass that starts tomorrow.

“Dear Samantha –

A short tale:

Awhile back, about 18 months, when I started grad school, I misplaced my morning prayer practice, along with my creative soul and writer self. (They got buried under piles of intellectual material.)

Recently, via your help with ‘pure preference’ (from the toolkit which I bought, and which inspired me to just take the live class!) I was able to recognize that I don’t want to be in grad school. At all.

So I’m leaving it. I want to get back to my creative writing. My prayer practice is part of that for me. It’s the way I center, pray for the life of the world, attune my gratitude, make space for the divine to come in, align with life, let go of sorrows.

A few days ago I started it again. I feel much better, needless to say.

And yes, the angels noticed. Quickly.

After I finished this morning, I checked my email, and first up was one from the editor of a lovely small journal asking me if she could use one of my poems in the upcoming issue, because it’s about mandalas and she felt the poem spoke to that. Appropriately, it’s called ‘Morning Glory.’ It reminds me of these morning classes, as well…of your teachings. I’m so looking forward to tomorrow. Blessings. –Patti in VT”

Here is the poem:

Morning Glory

In the morning’s garden glory

a small fern, the size perhaps of a thought,

begins to uncurl, opening itself to an as yet unknown world,

lacy fronds from its spiral core, a dancer awakened and unfolding.

It does what so many of us cannot do:

trust in the Godness of itself and this divine movement,

in the undeniable rightness of the timing

that tells it now is the moment to begin revealing its soul—

On this morning, like so many others

I sit under the oak and watch it, surrounded by a dozen

ordinary sparrows who flutter and chit. They land nearby

rightly ignoring me. The air

is a gospel of call and response

against a background of song pure and perfectly in tune—

a harmony that refuses to be undone

by human savagery or neglect.

The sun moves over the mountain by inches

warming the mist which draws back into itself

invisible again like its cousin, the wind.

Overhead thousands of leaves create a holy canopy

as if a bride and bridegroom are standing underneath

vowing solemnly to love each other without restraint.

Every creature, every song, every stone and leaf stalk

is a word of God, a gift, an eternal communion—and now I know

that it is only when we become insignificant and vast

we discover we must no longer beg to partake,

or break ourselves apart in order to carry the shame

of what we do, and leave undone

Instead we can listen and watch with each new soul

for the constant unfolding of Godstuff.

We can do what we must do—now—

not because a frenzied terror has gripped our hearts

but because we trust

in the rightness of the timing

and because we know that our smallness

is precious, and enough.

–Patricia Frankel, June 2009
www.pattifrankel.com

Totally GLORIOUS, Patti! This just thrills me to my bones.

Anybody else want in on the Get It Done Teleclass? www.GetItDoneTeleclass.com/winter

Sit With The Mystery

Those questions and anxieties that have plagued you your whole life are reflections of a mystery.

So the recurrent thought, “I’m Unlovable” might contain the Mystery of Love, and what it means to love and be loved.

The recurrent thought, “I’m Not As Good As I Should Be” points to the Mystery of Good (what is it? how do we know?) and the Mystery of Should.

And the thought, “I Don’t Belong” might indicate an interest in both the Mystery of “I” and the Mystery of Belonging. (This is one of my personal favorites.)

Instead of fighting, running, ignoring or defying those troubling thoughts, why not just sit with it?

What does the question mean?
Where do you see this question reflected in the culture?
Where is the center or middle of the Mystery?
When have you felt truly on top of this Mystery?
How has your life’s work brought you deeper into this Mystery?

No right answers here…just an opportunity to sit with it.

In Praise of Those Last Ten (…Or Twenty…) Pounds

In Praise Of Those
Last Ten (…Or Twenty…) Pounds

 

Oh, you ten (…or
twenty…) pounds…

You remind me:

I am not a teenager
anymore

(Thank God)

My life is not lived
just for me alone anymore

(Thank God)

I’ve got good food and
good wine and good appetite

 

Thank God.

 

You jiggle a bit.

 

It’s not a bloat; it’s a
blessing.

 

Softer.

Stronger.

 

You have lived through
the unthinkable.

Those friends who have
gone –

The love and grief for
them that remains –

Is that part of the ten
pounds?

The jobs well done that
no one praised –

Is that a pound or two?

And those ice-sharp playground
taunts, those adolescent bone-aches,

That twenty-something
battle for Self – ferocious –

Where is the weight of
that?

 

Jealousy does not become
us.

 

Ten pounds hardly seems
like a distinction worth making when

One body is so much like

Another.

 

Feet Leg Belly Back Arms
Head Hands

 

Not all of us have every
part and

 

There might be an organ
that’s not quite working right or

A hormone that’s out of
whack

We’ve all been a little

Damaged in transit.

 

But here we are.

Here to criticize
ourselves

Here to be a better
example to our daughters and our sons

Here to shove the
photo-shopped images out of the way and say

This is what the Body of
a Person looks like.

This is the truth of me.

All of me.

Only me.

 

And remember, if twenty
years from now you would find a photograph of you taken today you’d think, “Wow
– I had no idea how beautiful I was.”

 

So let’s put on the
bathing suit and go swimming.

Let’s invite our lover’s
hand to caress our belly.

 

And let’s put on lovely
clothes that fit and

Give away those
not-our-size-now clothes

Because believe me, one
of your

Brothers or Sisters (who
do not enjoy the luxury of excess) could really

Use those and Lord knows
they’re not doing you any good

Just cluttering up the
closet

Torturing you.

 

So we stand naked and
say,

“Thank you, Body, for
loving me so well and so long.”

 

Offering a blessing on

This Body

Whose

Shadow

Leaves an

Imprint

On the

Air

We Breathe.

 

©  2010 Samantha Bennett

By The Way, You Look
Really Great Today

www.TheOrganizedArtistCompany.com