Falling Upwards

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We Are Love, We Are One… February 12, 2014

… We are how we treat each other when the day is done.

I’m posting this a little later than I meant to, and I actually wondered for a few days whether this even makes sense to post… this is kind of an announcement, and a challenge, and an invitation … all rolled into one. It’s not my usual post, hence the questioning on my part. So, here goes…

Several months ago, I asked my Facebook friends what they thought of a particular personal challenge I thought I might want to do — not because I need permission or validation, but because I thought I would put it out there for accountability. Well, I got great support to do it, and to start at the beginning of the year, but I chickened out. My challenge to myself was this:  365 Days of Love

Every day, for the next 365 days, my goal is to create one art project each day which represents, in some way to me, the concept of Love.  The art can be in the form of a photograph, a drawing, a sculpture made on the beach of sand and rocks, or a poem. The challenge is to create each and every day, even if it sucks or is created in a medium with which I have no experience. And, believe me, this is quite a challenge because I can’t draw to save my life, my poetry is laughable at best, and my schedule is so hectic that to go out an capture something on digital and upload, process etc. is difficult.

Now, I’m not the kind of person who likes to challenge herself on… anything, really. I’m not competitive, and I’m mostly a “go with the flow” kind of person who rarely thinks ahead a week or two. And, “disciple” has never been an attribute assigned to me. So, why even think of something like this to do and put it out there to my family and friends? Well, honestly, it has nothing to do with discipline or challenge.

One day in December, I just happened to be thinking of how it’s becoming increasingly difficult to remain positive; how even the positive things I read on the internet can turn so negative when people make terrible comments on a post/article that is meant to uplift. People are so willing to be angry about anything, it seems, whether there is merit or not. I read recently that it is human tendency, and a product of our evolution, to focus on the negative. The I started thinking, … beyond trying to catch myself in my negative thoughts and turn them to the positive, what do I do to try to put positive vibrations out there? What do I do to promote a higher vibration in my family, in my community, in my world? What do I do?

To be bold, to be brave.
It is the thinking that the heart can still be saved
And the darkness can come quick
The Dangers in the Anger and the hanging on to it.

Other than trying to always remain positive and optimistic, trying to show compassion (when I’m aware of it), and trying to help relieve my family and friends of their burdens, I don’t do a whole lot. And, then I realized, for all my preaching and writing of how we are all in this world together, how it is up to all of us as a community to raise the vibrations of our societies and the world, how the answer to everything that plagues our world is Love, … I’m not doing a whole heck of a lot to contribute to make that world happen.

So, that’s when I thought of the project. It doesn’t seem like it might be that useful in promoting Love. After all, it’s an art project. But, I think that if it’s something I’m thinking of all the time — if I’m thinking of Love and how to represent that –then my thoughts are already beginning to create a possibility. And, if I give form to those thoughts, if I create something that is a material, touchable, seeable representation of Love, then I can share that with others who will then, at least for that brief moment of their day, think of Love and, maybe, feel Love. I guess it’s an actual, physical way to spread Love without going around hugging everybody and anybody I can find.

To be humble, to be kind.
It is the giving of the peace in your mind.
To a stranger, To a friend
To give in such a way that has no end.

So, here’s my invitation: won’t you join me on this journey, this challenge, this .. spreading of Love?

The rules to the challenge are simple:  There aren’t really any rules. Just every day, for a year, you create something that, for you, is representative of Love. It can be any medium – drawing, painting, photo, sculpture, poetry…. anything. The only rule is to take photo evidence (can be on your phone). So, if, for example, you make a heart out of rocks on the beach, just take a pic since you can’t take it with you. Then, share it! Spread the Love! If you can, please tweet or Instagram a pic of your art with the hashtag #365DaysOfLove. If not, share it with your friends, your family, with people on the street. It’d be awesome if we can spread the Love globally!

And, since practicing Self-Love is just as important, if you miss a day, forgive yourself, pat yourself on the back for what you’ve accomplished and just resume where you left off the next day. I have a few friends joining me in this already. We start February 14th (yeah, sorry for the late notice).

I’m going to try to figure out the whole Instagram thing and link it to my Facebook page, so if you wanna follow me and see how well I’m doing on this challenge, I’m on Facebook as Facebook.com/FrancesMarie.Photographs  (where you can friend me), on Twitter as @FrancesPhotos, and on Instagram as FrancesPhotographs. I’m not a complete luddite, but I honestly haven’t figured out how to link everything, so the posting may be spotty. I will try to figure it out by the the 14th, though.

And, if you decide to join me, first of all, that would be awesome (read that in a sing-song voice). But, also, please comment on this post so I can watch out for you, too. I’ll be able to find you if you use that hashtag #365DaysOfLove (I think. I hope.). And, remember,

Tell me what it is that you see
A world that’s filled with endless possibilities?
Heroes don’t look they used to, they look like you do.

P.S., I actually didn’t know this was featured in the Olympics until I went to get the Youtube vid for you. What a nice coincidence. I’m taking it as a sign that this is the perfect time to be doing this project.

 

The rest is still unwritten February 5, 2014

You know, this personal growth thing is a roller coaster ride. No sooner do I think I’m getting close to the top, hearing the click click click of the belt as it pulls up my coaster, then I dip right back down to what feels like the bottom. Or, I’m riding that fast ride up but don’t realize it’s a loop-de-loop (is that what it’s called?), and I’m right back at the same level I started. It’s enough to make a girl feel like she’s making no progress.

In the few years I’ve had this blog, I’ve broken up with a boyfriend, which led me on a path of enlightenment, only to be sidetracked when I met my twin soul, with whom I had a non-relationship that put me off my path of personal growth for two years. He came back into my life like an unexpected maelstrom last autumn only to depart just as quickly and with as much confusion this past month. I would like to say that these unfulfilling, negative romantic relationships I’ve had have put me off of them for good. It might be nice to have an easy ride down the lazy river and live a quiet life of no romance, desire for self-improvement, growth or change. It might be peaceful. But, I would take Magic Mountain rides over Disney rides any day.

Even though it’s so frustrating to be near the bottom again, I think it’s worth the hard work to get back to the top and be able to see the view and feel the cool air on my face again. And, what does that work entail for me? I was just gonna describe them as a paragraph, but then I realized it’s a laundry list of things. So, here goes:

Meditation – I used to do it daily and worked my way up to a good half hour, at least. Now, I can barely meditate for a few minutes. Time to get back to my daily, morning routine of meditating. It’s a great way to start my day as it helps me start off with good energy and an openness. And, I personally think of meditation as that time during which I listen to God/dess/Universe. There’s much wisdom to be gleaned there.

Journaling – I, again, used to do this daily especially while I was with and just after I broke up with the Ex. My journaling, much like my blogging, is a lot of personal rambling that helps me organize my thoughts. It helps me get out my frustrations and insecurities without burdening others with them. But, I also try to be a cheerleader for myself and write down my hopes and dreams and desires. It’s definitely interesting to read back on those pages to see how much I haven’t changed but how far I’ve come.

Practicing Compassion – I can be super-critical (especially of myself). It’s a terrible thing I inherited from my father. But, I have a choice as to how I view life and those around me. And, I have the ability, as we all do, to put myself in someone else’s shoes (it’s called imagination). That grumpy, old lady who was snarky to me today…? maybe she’s in some physical pain or her kids haven’t called her in months so she’s lonely. Maybe her best friend just died. So, my reaction to her doesn’t have to be equal snark. It can be gentleness. Of course, this goes hand-in-hand with remembering not to take things personally. How someone behaves towards you usually has nothing to do with you.

Experiencing Nature – whether it be a hike through the woods or a walk on the beach or even just sitting next to a city planter full of green stuff, touching base with Mother Nature is always soothing to the soul. Looking up at the sky at night and seeing the millions of stars above reminds me that the Universe is vast, and the mistakes I make in life will hardly impact anything. Watering my lemon tree, whose life depends upon my care, reminds me that I am responsible for the well-being of other living things on this planet, so my actions do matter. Feeling the wind upon my face lifts my spirit and reminds me of those things unseen that surround us and are a part of us all.

Creating Art – as a photographer, this should be fairly easy. But, it’s not the only art-form I want to “experience.” I enjoy painting and drawing (even though I’m not very good at either) and scrapbooking (yes.. it’s art!).  For me, this is really about creating. After all, life is about creation, isn’t it? My art can be on paper or canvas, on the computer, or even a delicious dish I’ve cooked up. The very act of creating is soul affirming.

Practicing Gratitude – this doesn’t have to be formal, like a gratitude journal or a list or anything. Even if I take a few seconds out of my day to just appreciate a flower and send a quick, little thanks to the Universe for showing me Its beauty, I find that practicing gratitude gives me joy. There’s no room for complaining when you’re truly grateful for…whatever.

Practicing Forgiveness – yeah… that sounds weird. But, I find people just carry so much anger within them. I do, too. I’m not talking about being angry at anyone or anything specifically. Just read comments on any article. Even if it’s inspiring, there’s always at least one person who’s just pissed for who-knows-what-reason. I know I get “justifiably” angry at whatever social injustice I come across. That anger is a weight on my heart. It’s negativity that I don’t need to carry. So, yes.. it would be great if we were all on the same page in this world so that there would no longer be bigots and their like in this world. But, I have to remind myself that we are all on our separate journeys, each at our own pace. And, we’ll eventually arrive at the same place, given time. So, yes, I have to practice forgiveness, a lot. Release the anger and send out love.

That’s it. Just those few things. Some of them are even fun. Some of them are a lot harder than they seem. But, I want off the easy, lazy river ride and back on the roller coaster. My coaster car might keep coming down — there’s fun in that, too — but at least I know I’ll keep climbing up. Ok…so maybe a roller coaster isn’t quite the best metaphor here.  heh heh

Definitely, though, I think the song I chose for this post is fitting because, even with all the ups and downs, my life is still before me. It is still unwritten.

I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined
I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can’t live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins