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In my dream, I am trying to find my way home.  I am walking.  When I ask Siri for directions, she keeps changing routes and finally settles on the one right in front of me.  I have to travel through a decaying urban area and climb the steep concrete wall of a dam.  I’m scared, but I start climbing anyways. Higher. Higher. Higher.  I near the top of the dam and notice water starting to leak through a crack in the wall. A flood gate has been opened.  Cold water rushes out in big torrents and I am tossed about.  As I fall downwards with the thundering water, I open my mouth every so often to get air and allow myself to be carried downward.  Crashing into the churning water at the bottom of the dam, I rise-up, arms in victory, waving my phone around in the air.  “I made it!  I made It!”  I yell.  “I’ll show you just what I made it through because I caught it all on video!”

This was my dream the other night. And it is also my family’s reality as we travel with our boy on this journey with autism.  The only way home is precipitous and hard and scary, at times.   Our climb is fraught with rigid thinking,  pervasive anxiety, intense sibling rivalry and hairy family dynamics. We never know when the dam is going to break and we’ll find ourselves sitting in an anxious, angry mess, wondering just what happened.  And yet, we keep on climbing.  We climb because we love each other.  And we know that love surpasses any fear that threatens to thwart this journey that is ours to travel together.  To keep climbing means that even when the flood wall opens and we find ourselves thrashing  around at the base of the dam, once again, we are alive to tell about it.

While my particular “wall” happens to be autism,  I have come to know so many beautiful souls who are climbing different walls.  Just as scary.  Just as hard or even harder.  Cancer.  Broken Marriages. Addiction. Chronic Illness.  Abuse.  Depression. Racism.  We all have stories.  Stories of a season(s) in our lives during which we discover our souls being hurled against a concrete bottom, weary and unsure of our ability to stand-up and start climbing again. Perhaps, if we can see ourselves as the heroine of our own stories, raising our arms in victory because we are still here to tell about it, we will be more likely to share our experiences with each other.  We can replace fear and judgement with “Me, too.” and “Being human is hard.  Let’s climb together.”  We can conquer our fear with love.

For the most part, I have lived my life in a linear fashion.  Doing things in the right order and coloring within the lines of what is acceptable.   Webster’s dictionary defines linear as “a style of art in which forms are sharply delineated and line is emphasized over color, light and shadow.”  The latter part of this definition resonates within my soul.  Line is emphasized over color, light and shadow. 

Over the past two months, with the help of a beautiful mentor/creative coach, I embarked on this journey to become “unstuck,” to color outside the lines.   As I mentioned in an earlier post, without fail, every time I walked through the doors of Barnes and Noble,  the section of Somerset Studio publications drew me towards them like a magnet.  I poured over the mixed-media and artful journaling pieces as if they were my very own creations.  And, yet, I always stopped there, just thinking about art, but never creating it.  And why?  Fear.  In my own linear way of thinking, I did not have an art background, and therefore, any art I might create would not match those featured in the art magazines.  And, if my attempts did not come-out looking like the images in my head, then I would be disappointed in myself.  Even worse, I would not receive approval from others.  Sad, I know.

Oh, I had all kinds of other excuses.  Not enough time.  Not enough skills.  Not enough ideas.  You name it.  I did not have enough of it.  But  when I got down to the real reason, I found myself looking fear in the eyes.   This time, though, before I could return to my comfortable position of the observer and thinker, my coach directed me to the canvas and paint and handed me the paintbrush.  Together, we co-created.  Me tentatively mixing colors and applying new techniques.  Her offering bold suggestions.  “Go for it!” she would encourage. “When we make mistakes, we usually end-up turning them into something even better!”

Trusting my intuition. Facing  fear.  Trying.  Messing-up.  Trying again.  These are the skills that I learned in this process of creating.  These are the skills that I need to live a richly-colored life.  From reading and talking with other women, I’ve found that many of us stuff our would-be passions aside in fear.  Passions that just might make the world a brighter, richer place for everyone.  What if we started encouraging each other to try our wings, just as my mentor did for me?  What if we started substituting passion for perfection?  Just imagine.

Will you choose to live safely within the lines or will you consider painting the vibrant colors and hues which God so desperately needs us to paint across this canvas called life?


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