when thanksgiving feels far away

faded flower

The holidays are magnifying glasses
Forcing us to see close up; too close
Surrounding us with lists for gratitude
Invitations to share thanksgiving

We stand behind the curtain
Busily pulling levels and hoping to convince
Until one day we yank the velvety curtains down
We stand in our own light

We decide we will be grateful for what we know
As a daily practice — from our personal experience
Not a calendar date or someone else’s story
We will celebrate our-self, our-story

Thanksgiving will look like we decide
It shall not be served with turkey and dressing
According to someone else’s schedule
We will begin new traditions


I am

Empathy is the antidote for shame, for the way you feel in the midst of offering yeses of habit instead of sacred no’s. Being true to what you need is a process — it takes as long as it takes, Braveheart. I offer this space to you with acceptance and compassion; I meet your shame and frustration with empathy.

I see you. I see you choosing to do what you must until you are able to do what you want. I see you moving in the direction of your dreams … ♥

 

vents and surrenders

typewriter

“We’ll talk soon.” was his only text reply to my full-screen of texted verbiage. Rocket Man knows me well. He knows I am fluent in the language of Emoticon and he knows a visual vent of faces is secondary in urgency to multiple screens of syllables and exclamation points. He also knows I will likely be fine once the day is surrendered at sunset.

I am in a phase of gathering. In the midst of bitchy blurts, incomplete projects and multiple unknowns.

“Well, there is a woman who comes in here regularly who swears by it!” the clerk explained as she handed me a package of 95% natural facial serum, “clinically proven to restore and repair age-damaged skin in just seven days” and give me “superhero skin.” This is another manifestation of venting for me: Seeking out all-natural products to defy a natural process.

I am in a season of noticing. In the midst of physical reminders of how many birthdays I have celebrated.

“The difference is when you speak something new, you are at the beginning; when I speak something new, I have already decided it.” Her words reminding me: my process is not my procrastination; everything counts, everything holds value.

I am in a season of solitude and reflection. In the midst of knowing my strength is a collage of my weaknesses.

To let go of something is when hope begins. -Anne Lamott

I am letting go of my self-editing. For today.

I am woman with flashes of information and inspiration. The posts I have sat down to write for Secret Rebel Club have been fragmented. I forget what I said in whispered inspiration; my jots are incoherent. I am in Big Picture mode, scheduling out plans and noting deadlines set for a year from now.

I am content with showing up as scheduled, but also with walking away without posting as I turn out the proverbial light of my writing desk here. I am learning to accept unpublished drafts as perfect pieces of a whole instead of failure or a loss.

At any point, we can step out of our frozen selves and our ideas and begin fresh. -Natalie Goldberg

I am stepping out of my frozen self. For today.

I am a woman remembering, re-learning; a woman be-coming, a student of the stories written during the long-days of years-short. I am reacquainting my-self each morning at the mirror of my-self; noticing the projects-unfinished and lines across my face and knowing with absolute certainty: This is my time.

Time I have eagerly awaited — and yet I am holding tighter to Now and Then than my passions require for Next. It takes as long as it takes; but that doesn’t make the waiting any easier!

I am set to hit “publish” for this post at a later hour than I hoped — and in spite of mental eye rolls cued by Perfection — because I wholeheartedly embrace the value of vents and I dance wildly with Surrender!


these lines across my face  I am stargardener aka Teresa Robinson. I believe each day is a canvas awaiting the collage elements {we decide} have meaning — splashed with the authentic paint of our mind, will and emotions.

My canvases include elements from: Right Brain Planner, Secret Rebel Club as well as The Art Journaler and The Art Journaler Community — honored and attended according to my rhythms. ✩

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. -Cyril Connolly

she knew minimizing was betrayal; she knew she cycled like the moon

she cycled like the moon

she knew minimizing was betrayal
an invitation to ignore and diminish
to be in-costume for a party she refused to attend
and to smile and nod and be {seen as} fine

she knew her cycles; she knew what to do

but doing it now felt impossible, debilitating
her path shrouded in new moon darkness of “not yet”
her thoughts a hoarded collection of the mundane
and crushing beliefs about her abilities and worth

“You’ll be fine.”

she didn’t care about being fine
there was no energy for platitudes in this space
of time pressing into the lessons of The Familiar

“I think you should …”

when she refused fine, she knew suggestions were next
she knew few who trusted in the dark side of creativity
but she knew life begins in the dark of growing deep

“I thought you were doing better.”

she refused to respond because she knew she was doing
and that better was like fine and shoulding her-self …
dreams are not measurable or limited to inane valuations

she knew she cycled like the moon

she knew regardless of how she felt or where her hopes were,
regardless of the circumstances of the days-passing …
the darkness would remind her and renew her faith in Divine cycles

she knew that was enough; she knew what to do


of the earth profile stargardener

October has been a sojourn with The Familiar. Digging deep beyond my surface responses and routines, a proverbial archaeological dig of my past, present and future. Countless words and hours of writing; laboring with the full knowledge of new life and yet struggling to maintain my focus and breath. The faces of {my} depression ever-changing and silently reminding me I am my own fan club and I have all I need. This is enough. I am enough … You are enough, Braveheart. Let’s cycle like the moon and refuse to be fine. ~much love and compassion, Teresa aka stargardener ✩

risking the usual

moon and tower lights

If you are not willing to risk the usual you will have to settle for the ordinary. —Jim Rohn

If you know me at all, you know I consider my {living} a canvas. Space for soul blurts, collaged randomness and delight in the mundane. I am un-reasonable; I enjoy defying reason and shattering limits I have been told were mine. I agree quickly with those who tell me I love “too much” and I plan/hope to accomplish “too much” — it is the only way I believe there is to live-free. I dance with a chronic illness that punches me in the face without warning — and seems to have the worst sense of timing.

I do live-free, and I do punch back. But this week was a huge test of my will, both to allow and to abide.

To allow for a lack of wellness {pain, blurred vision, muscle weakness} and for detours due to Life’s sudden curves and falling rocks. To abide in the midst of impending details and finality for major life events for my beloved Rocket Man and my children. It feels as if Life is always under construction. Yes. Even as I type that … I realize, it is.

Under construction, like that canvas on the proverbial easel. Never finished, only abandoned when the detail work leads to overwhelm.

The service guy who was in my home yesterday looked around my studio {aka the dining room} and said, “So, you are an artist?”

“Yes. I am.” I replied — without even a second of doubt.

“What projects are you working on?”

“I create planning systems for right-brain thinkers, and I am in the midst of writing a book and product development.” I answered — immediately followed by a moment of sheer disbelief.

“Wow! That sounds great!” his response as he gathered his tools and went back outside — unnoticed by me because all I could “see” were my words being spray-painted on the wall I was facing.

“Artist. That is my job … Crap.”

I immediately began a mental list of problems associated with the job title of artist. Which I would detail for you but as Yuri Baranovsky states as the number one problem of being an artist: I have no time for anything else — ever. His words will do, because I write raw — in the moment, sometimes incomplete. I leave you with bits of torn paper marking my own trail — knowing you will take what you need to mark yours, and leave your own bits for others.

I am wholeheartedly willing to risk the usual so as not to settle for the ordinary. Because I want you to, too, Braveheart! ♥

It is the reason I live-free and sparkly dare my-self to do “too much” and show up each and every day in-community. Because I want to foster communities of women who do the same. Who live true to their dreams — without apology. Women who face forward when the piercing winds of change blow unrelenting, but find the same fierceness and value in seeking shelter and pause.

Let’s dare to ask the questions of “Why?” and “Why not?” — living free and dancing wildly in the direction of our dreams! 


 

100314 profile

My name is Teresa; I am a gardener in the stars. I am an artist; it is my job {as well as my passion}. I wholeheartedly allow complete to be incomplete, unreasonable and unrealistic. I abide with the moon and delight in its phases.

 

Let go, Braveheart

bravery mailing label

Dear Braveheart,

Seasons change. People change. Relationships shift.

When you realize your breathing is shallow, that your can’t seem to relax. When energy or inspiration to continue is nowhere to be found  …

Let go. Please resist trying harder.

Stress and indifference are masks of Fear. When the whispers of Spirit have been ignored so long, the body begins to scream and shut down, and the mind becomes shrouded.

You are in survival mode. You are constantly proving yourself, your value, your place. Because you believe doing so will allow you to maintain the white knuckle grip on What-Is — what you know … what people expect.

Let go. Please resist self-loathing.

You are exhausted; you are not lazy, uncommitted or irresponsible. The energy and vision changed but you were determined not be a quitter — not the one to disappoint or disappear.

New endeavors await. New is not the absence of Before, because you are a Divine blend of all that you have been, all that you are and all that you will be.

Let go. Please resist making it happen.

Because who you are becoming is already there — the details Divinely woven within you before your first breath.

Because you cannot be everything all the time.

Seasons change. People change. Relationships shift.

You are enough. You are changing. Your energy and inspiration is shifting.

Let go … allow space for what is Next.

Love,

A Fellow Braveheart


Letters to Bravehearts is a new feature of letters to self: past, present, future; of love and affirmation; reminders of insights and lessons learned. What do you need to declare or gently remind your-self? Perhaps you would like to share your letter to your {brave-hearted} self? Send a message via our Facebook page.

love’s unacknowledged and wild sister

seasons end

Outrage is love’s unacknowledged and wild sister. —Sue Monk Kidd

Calculating risks requires being honest with your-self about what you know — as well as what you are willing to accept as necessary to remain true to your-self; what is necessary for {your} dreams, your relationships … your sanity. At some point you begin to believe sanity is overrated, that no one is trustworthy and living your dreams is simply a socially acceptable synonym for delusion.

Outrage {self}

Self-doubt is a blade we either press into, allowing it to carve away The Unnecessary, or allow it slit our throat — leaving us to bleed out. Internal outrage — self-loathing, shock, the paralysis of perfection and “shoulding” our-self — is the dark side of self-love. Like the moon, we cycle through this dark into light, light into dark; like the seasons, we cycle through bud, bloom and seed time.

This is a seed time for me. Faded blooms of color reaching for the sky are now shedding petals and dying to produce hulls of possibility.

Outrage {others}

Self-doubt is a wild fire when we become aware the people we trusted are merely kindle awaiting a spark. Like when we allow a circle of women “known” on a casual level via the facade of common groups or interests — locally or linked via social media — to become our gauge of self-worth.

These situations can feel paralyzingly incestuous and shatter our self-trust — with the constant threat of becoming wild fires destroying everything we built and believed in.

I am in an ever-widening circle of realization regarding dream-weaving and friendships — and self-trust. Harvesting seeds of Truth and pressing into forgiveness and honestly.

Love {self}

This is a time of flower stalks stripped of their beauty but I know I was true to my-self. I acknowledge I “love too much” and “trust without warrant” — because I love the possibility of friendships. I savor the days, the promises of a season shared between two kindred coming together — even if that season is short lived. Because my trust in safely wrapped in vulnerability. 

Love {others}

Vulnerability is Brave in-action. And I will not judge my-self or anyone else when wild fires require self-attention and solitude.

After all, each of us wear an invisible warning label:

  • I am human. I will make mistakes but I am doing the best I can today.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. —Maya Angelou

What we feel is temporal. It cannot be blamed on anyone because no one can “make us feel” an emotion. What we feel is drawn from a well deep within.

What we feel can be honored, remembered … learned from. Because what we feel is a gauge. It can an alarm warning us to honor boundaries.

But even within that … We must be true to who we are. We must love who and what we love — and when what we know and what we feel alert us, we must walk away from who and what will never be anything more than the constant thread of a wild fire.


stargardener profile  Teresa Robinson aka stargardener believes each day is a canvas awaiting the collage elements we decide have meaning — splashed with the authentic paint of amazing triumphs and agonizing suffering. Her canvases include her mind’s eye and her stack of journal-planners. She is currently in a season of solitude blanketed with layers of inspiration and depression. Glimpses of what she creatively documents provide the foundations for Right Brain Planner and The Art Journaler.

the faces of {my} depression

“Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. ”

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
the face of the blank stare; the most common default; make-up, an uncommon default due to MS eye-issues, a lack of energy and desire to “waste” the time

Live everything. Live the questions now. … Live your way into the answer.

I am grateful Rilke wrote those letters to a young poet because these syllables are keys to the locks of treasure chests. Rilke wrote Real {honest, to the point} and did so without judgement or an attitude of superiority — or a desire to “fix” that young poet with “if I were you” advice. He recognized the young poet wasn’t “broken” … 

I collected self-portrait images for this post during a semi-normal day of depression; I am a visual journaler and I know a picture is worth a thousand words … even when it leaves me speechless. My hope is to inspire you, Braveheart, to give you a new lens to see your-self and others close to you.

Perhaps even dare to embrace moments of quiet acceptance, to feel a bit less alone … To seek aid and companionship when {it} all becomes too much. I realize that can feel impossible, too.

We see what we want to see. We see through the filtered lenses of our beliefs, carved via our experiences and what we were told to believe. Until we decide otherwise …

These images are unfiltered as seen through my iPhone camera lens; captured from the time I woke up just after midnight to when I went until sleep for the night around 10:00 p.m. There were several more; this is cross section of visuals from the day. 

A day of 22 hours because I was attempting to “make myself” stay up longer. I was attempting to complete the work projects that lay idle the first three days of this week. Lists and want-to’s noted creatively on the pages of art journals and right brain planners designated by project.

Routines and grace-based accountability is an aid for me; I liken it to a groove to guide me through when mental fog is so thick I cannot do much more than pace or sit quietly, cry softly or tear bits of paper and create collage art. Work was invigorating and joy-full — not an act of fierce perfectionism fueled by angst. The energy was there, and I rode it out; I honored my rhythms.

I worked-through because I hoped to adjust my body clock — to remind it of night and day, resetting the timing of insomnia-induced exhaustion. Depression alters body cycles; and it looks different throughout the day — and it looks different for each of us, Braveheart.

It feels almost impossible to post so many images of my-self … raw and even unnecessary.

upon waking {usually anywhere from midnight to 3:00 a.m. daily}; constricted; overwhelm and doubt; physically limited, mentally dull
breath-work; yoga outside; prayer and meditation; listening and abiding; hoping today will be different than past days

Vain. Arrogant. Even irrelevant to dare state even a word of definition for depression?

I wonder and wrestle with that. But at some point we need to press through, to talk about — name — what we face without shame. Because shame serves no one except an oppressor. It locks us up in a cage with paper tigers while people who genuinely care are locked out because of the lies that drown out the still small voice of Truth.

I am not defining depression. This is my post, about me, and my depression.

It is not meant to evoke sympathy or even elicit support. It is meant to be a statement — declarative, just the facts. (That is why I turned off the comments for this post.)

8:00 a.m. -ish; walkabout with my grrls; stretching and breathwork
pause; anxiety; catching my breath {literally} several times daily; reset
checking in for the day with my online communities; this day’s first smile; it comes naturally as I celebrate a friend’s milestone

 

Upon waking — often in the early hours after midnight — expressionless and shadowed as my mind feels hollowed of purpose or desire to be, or to do, anything more than sit — eyes-closed. Blurts of journal entries and poetry are written of this face.
Upon waking — often in the early hours after midnight — expressionless and shadowed as my mind feels hollowed of purpose or desire to be, or to do, anything more than sit — eyes-closed. Blurts of journal entries and poetry are written of this face.

A face wanting to be hidden, the face of my alter ego, of agoraphobia; the one needing to know where all the exits are … stifling all invitations to leave home or receive visitors — yet knowing “too much” solitude exacerbates all realities.

being outside is an obstacle course of memories and hope deferred; I am able to be outside with less stress this week because my youngest son is clearing overgrown garden areas
I am able to find comfort in the cleared areas, space to {be} and realize bits of hope; light at the end of a 12+ year tunnel; I had cancer 12 years ago …
depression image
cancer marked the end of my planned gardens and the beginning of realism with regard to my limits + dmitting/embracing my preference for wild, naturalized gardens
nature brings me comfort; I feel safe, grounded and centered when I am outside under the sky and trees of my 2.5 Acre Wood, listening to bird songs and the rustlings of squirrels; walking alone or with my sweet but fastidious little fluff, a Bichon and "self-trained" therapy grrl, a Golden Retriever {adopted as a Rescue, but whose love is a rescue}
nature brings me comfort; I feel safe, grounded and centered when I am outside under the sky and trees of my 2.5 Acre Wood, listening to bird songs and the rustlings of squirrels; walking alone or with my sweet but fastidious little fluff, a Bichon and “self-trained” therapy grrl, a Golden Retriever {adopted as a Rescue, but whose love is a rescue}
dressing in natural fibers, comfortable but stylish {according to my preferences} help me to feel better mentally; I am resistant to this ... I don't want to "waste" the wear and tear of my "good clothing" when home-bound
dressing in natural fibers, comfortable but stylish {according to my preferences} help me to feel better mentally; I am resistant to this … I don’t want to “waste” the wear and tear of my “good clothing” when home-bound
standing on crunchy grass; reminding myself what appears to be dead is merely dormant; roots are vital — not what is seen; grow deep
standing on crunchy grass; reminding myself what appears to be dead is merely dormant; roots are vital — not what is seen; grow deep

Mid-day is the turning point for me; I rarely schedule anything past 1:00 p.m. because it is unlikely I will have physical energy or mental focus to complete tasks or honor appointments. This day I did. The energy was there.

make-up is typically limited to lipstick only; adornments usually limited to ear rings … the necklace I am wearing here is a bola harmony ball, a favorite soother because of its soft chime sounds when I walk; I have favorite items and art mail near; gifts that remind me I am seen and loved, part of a community; tangible evidence to assist me when a twister of paranoia swirls wildly within … I do what works until it doesn’t
depression is like a heavy weight that requires extra time be allowed for deadlines; I mailed items I “planned” to mail three days ago but it was wonderful to be out in the sun and honor my promise to my-self to drive alone “more” and the staff at the post office have become friends over the years; it is always a positive experience to chat with them; I ♥ small towns!
the ever-changing sky of this day felt like an affirmation; blues and shifting clouds and weather fronts, ever-changing as part of a cycle; affirming that change and opposite realities within the same day are part of {living} — part of Creation; the rain of the evening was extra special; rain always feels soothing and like a promise of divine care

The idea for this post came to me some time in the middle of the night as I muttered to myself that I had nothing to write about this week … that I was tired and anxious, and nothing could be done with that.

Suddenly in that moment of naming my angst and frustration with the week, with depression and pain, I realized that I would never respond that way to a friend, or to anyone who believed her situation to be of no consequence.

So, this is dedicated to you, Braveheart. Because our stories matter. And we are not broken — so there is no need to be in the audience of people convinced otherwise.

This post is dedicated to my secret rebel kindred who send me celestial poetry and emoticons, and images of beach views and skies — and color! Who don’t ask “How are you?” because they already know. Who give me space and don’t assume the worst about me in my absence.

My life is not easy, but it is mine. I own every bit of it — the good, the bad and the ugly.

If someone speaks some variation of:

  • “Don’t talk about it. You just need deal with it.”
  • “You don’t look sick.”
  • “You always look so happy.”
  • “What do you have to be sad about?”
  • “Keep it to yourself; you don’t want to be a burden.”

They do not begin to understand what you are living with … Because illness of any kind makes most people uncomfortable and they attempt to unload their insecurity on to you. Those people don’t get endless chances, Braveheart.

Yes. I know that is easy to say and yet feels impossible to accomplish.

But this is your one wild and precious life … handle it with care and respect, and with self-love.

Take care of you; do what you must until you can do what you choose. 


 

National Alliance on Mental Illness is a nonprofit, grassroots mental health education, advocacy and support organization. I link it here because you may be at a place where the face of depression is much more threatening. If so, you are not alone … There are people who care and who can help.