Saturday, September 19, 2009
Sculpting a Life: Susan Gallacher-Turner's turn in the Pacific Northwest.
Living, loving, creating and Maui
Last week, I was on Maui. The beautiful, lush, tropical island with soft, sandy beaches and warm surf is a fantasy land. And fantasy is just what I needed to recharge my depleted physical, emotional and creative batteries.
My life over the last 19 months has been a bumpy, sad, scary and difficult road with no end in sight. Yet. My husband’s been laid off, worked part time, laid off again. Three people we’ve known, worked with and raised children with have died. My daughter moved away from home. The life we had, that we thought was stable is gone. And we’re both searching for ways to use our talents, live our lives creatively and make a living.
Seeing people we know die too young was shocking. But it also helped us see life as a gift that doesn’t come with guarantees. What it does come with is choices, and the biggest one is to live in fear or live in love.
I spent many months in the fear zone. I wasn’t sleeping or eating very well. I lost weight. I cried a lot. I tried to get out of it by looking for reasons and causes of the difficulties, trying to figure it all out. So I could fix it all and everything would be back to normal again. It didn’t work. I had to realize that there are many things in this life, my life that I can’t control: cancer, economic recessions, industry changes and children growing up.
One day, tears streaming down my cheeks, again, I asked a friend what I could do. She said, “Let go and let God”. Now, she knows I’m not a religious person and I don’t like the word, God. But in that moment, I realized that she was right. And that God didn’t have to be the male, power figure that I grew up with but a name for the essential energy force that is in and around all of us.
Something shifted that day. I had been telling my self to let go. But I was like a child on the monkey bars, who weary of hanging on was still too afraid to let go and trust that I would land on my feet.
Maui. The trip to Hawaii was an act of trust, of letting go and loving my life instead of fearing for it. It seemed crazy at first to my ‘control’ mind to book a 5 day trip to Maui when so much is still up in the air. And yet, it felt completely right. Right after we booked the trip, I felt this incredible sense of relief. I didn’t know what the feeling was at first, then it hit me. That’s what ‘letting go’ feels like.
And I like the feeling. Oh, I still had my scary moments getting ready for the trip and getting on the plane. Even though my mind was having a hissy fit, there was a place inside me that was calm, clear and rock solid.
On Maui, I rose at dawn everyday. Watching the sunrise, hearing the birds call back and forth to each other, seeing the colors change on the distant island and the sea, I felt calmly present. My mind was silent. My body tired at first, began to rest even as I walked the beaches and floated on the waves. I picked up sweet scented flowers on the path and filled bowls with them. My creative vision became clear once again and I saw the ‘masks’ in the palm trees and the figurative forms in the tree trunks. I longed to paint the warm reds, oranges and pinks of the sunsets and the luscious greens of the distant sugar cane fields. The deep blue green waves and the light peach clouds made me want to take out my pastels and draw in a way I haven’t allowed myself to do in many years.
I wrote in my journal inspired by articles I read that told of other women’s life changes. I realized that my life isn’t bad, wrong or odd, just changed. And many of the changes, as my friends have pointed out, are good changes for me, my husband and grown-up children. But the lives that ended, have shown me the importance of living. Really living.
What does that mean for you or me? Everyone has their own ideas. Mine is to live a creative life that sustains me in physical, emotional and spiritual ways as well as inspiring and helping the world and the people around me. How can I do that? I don’t have the complete answer. Yet. Maybe I never will. But surrounded by the beauty on Maui, I opened up to life and love. I know that my choice is to live in love instead of fear, and finding ways I can share that through my life, art and writing is creating a life worth living.
Posted by Susan Gallacher-Turner at 4:12 PM