My name is Kate Johnson.
I'm an artist, a creative thinker, a seer of beauty, and a force for joy.
I'm passionate about obstacle-busting, option generation and the transformative power of positivity and encouragement.
Heartwork is a space for all of us ( yes, even you who may think you are not creative)-- where we can explore our assumptions about ourselves, our work, and get creative about overcoming (or incorporating and transforming) the stumbling blocks we encounter.
It is a place for reminding ourselves and each other about our wild preciousness. We are each of value, we have gifts to share, and joy to experience.
I hope you'll join me.
The path of my life informs all I that do. I blog about midlife parenting after infertility at www.icantwhistle.com
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My Etsy Site!
grief opens grief like a window
like a can opener
stirs silt from the bottom
shakes loose parts newly or incompletely mended
rattles around, making noisy messes, reminding me acutely of things that hurt to remember.
As I think about the brilliance lost in Robin William’s heartbreaking choice, I think too about the losses we all share, those who have loved someone who has made this nearly unthinkable decision. And while I am so very sad for Robin, that this felt like the only choice he had left, I am more sad for his family, those who loved him, all of us who felt somehow connected to his wry smile, his tenderness, his humanness. It exposes our collective vulnerability somehow.
After losing a beloved to suicide, 11 years ago this past weekend, I have finally gained solace of a sort during hard work this past year… a hard won healing. Tender always, but a new sense of something like peace, I guess… a still point of understanding I did not have before– before, suicide was simply unthinkable, unimaginable, and my loss, the world’s loss of my beloved, was totally beyond my comprehension.
Now, after experiencing being taken down by anxiety into an underworld of desperation– I understand things I did not understand before.
I sought help, took it, take it, seek it. And thanks to this intervention I have returned home to myself.
But I understand now, desperation, in a way I did not.
I understand just wanting to make the pain stop. And simply not being able to stand it. Feeling lost, taken over, alone.
And I wish for all who feel lost, to reach out, get help, allow help in. Please.
In this moment, I sit with this sadness, with the echos of my own loss, my own grief, and let it (as best I can) move in and through… knowing, after all this time, that it will move like water, downstream, if I allow it to pass through my knowing, my heart, my memories, and not try to hold on for the sake of having something to hold on to.
I am learning and relearning and more deeply experiencing the dance between allowing and striving
when I try, I suck.
when I allow…
(here’s a quick time lapse of a first layer being allowed in a dimly lighted room)
there are lost parts of ourselves, that are not really lost– just waiting for us to return to them somehow. I have always been an artist. Sometimes I make art, other times I collect images, experiences, sensory deliciousness, discomfort, witness, and hold it, store it, like medicine in a bag.
There is a rhythm to this– this forgetting and remembering, this creating and collecting… but it gets out of whack so easily.
Pragmatic panic erases all I know to be true, and it takes time, and sometimes a circuitous route to find myself again, here, by the keyboard. Or there, by the canvas. Or in the woods. Or walking under a sky filled with layers of clouds.
I am in a period of creation right now– things coming through almost faster than i can take them down, let them out, let them through… paintings are piling up, leaning against walls, each other….layers are being put down, put down and etched, with scrapers and fingers… I am feeling my way. This is so kinetic, so intuitive, so not-me-in-the-way. And I am overflowing and filling canvas after canvas after canvas…
I wrote this two years ago for my other blog, and found it today.
You may not know it right now, but you are doing important things. I know, it may feel like somehow you got on the wrong bus, or that you are being mistaken for someone else with different skills and different goals than the ones you imagine you have, but in reality, you are learning in every moment, learning things that will help you take yourself where you need to go.
You are learning that you will need to take yourself, that there is no express ride, no fairy godmother, no magic wormhole, no wood sprite, or fog-thick fantasy where you will wander in lost, and wander out found.
You are learning how to listen differently, to yourself and others. You are learning how to speak and when not to. You are learning to watch for bigger patterns and not just respond to minutiae. You are learning flexibility and strength. You are learning how important it is to say no, and how freeing it can be to say yes, and how shitty it is when you say yes too soon, or no simply out of fear. You are learning how to be new at something, how to suck at it, how to be open to not knowing.
You are learning to love in a wide open way that you have never experienced before. You are learning to trust, to lean into, to count on… you are learning that being scared about being interdependent does not mean you can pretend and not do it. You’ve already found yourself out, and realized in spite of fear, you’re in it too. That although you’ve already learned, you already know you would probably survive, you cannot imagine going back to just you.
You are learning to listen to your body, to the signals that come quietly before the shouts, the jammed gears, the smoking clutch. You are learning that you need to take a different kind of care, and that requires a different kind of time, and a different kind of time means a different kind of allowance… you need to make room for taking care. It cannot be interstitial. It has to be as important as it is.
You are learning a lot about what you don’t like, and a lot about what you do. You are learning to pay attention to energy shifts and balances, what brings energy, what saps it. You’ve already made a huge leap this year into awareness of the cost of self inflicted conflict. That each moment needs to have clarity of attention and that split attention is acutely and nearly instantaneously depleting.
You are learning about the skills you have that are independent of field. The ones that just are– the katestuff that you may be able to reframe into a useful package to help feed your family and your self.
You are learning so many things that are laying groundwork. You may not know for what yet, and that is ok. You are learning, in fact, that not knowing is ok. That you can feel your way towards whatever is next, and have faith that somehow all the pieces you are collecting, all of the yeses and the Yeses and the YESes will amount to something tangible and satisfying and real. That your gifts will be useful and helpful and of the kind of value you may not be able to imagine just now.
You are learning to imagine an energized life, one with confidence and quiet joy. You are learning to imagine how active a roll you will need to take in avoiding the leg traps of old behaviors that keep you small, keep you quiet, keep you wounded.
You are learning to stop and look, stop and think, stop and listen. Remembering things you knew, and then unknew.
You are learning, I know it feels you are learning too slowly, or in a way that feels circuitous and non-linear, but you are learning what it takes to feel good. And you are remembering, not always and not easily, but you are remembering pieces you’ve put aside or away.
A few years from now, your landscape will be different. It will be more gentle and less thorny. You will be able to see a little farther, and have more faith when the fog comes in that it is simply time to reconnect, gather in, re-imagine and reaffirm. You will be stronger than you think. You are now, but you can’t quite know that. You’ll see though, and it will simply be true.
You will realize how much there is in every moment that can be used for bliss. You are realizing this, but you forget and re-remember. You will forget and re-remember a million million times.
But this I know, this you know: you were made for joy. You feel it in everything when you can. There is nothing quite like fireflies or snowflakes or the moon. There is nothing like chocolate or the right shoulder, or clean sheets or hot showers. There is nothing like lying on the floor and feeling that sort of connected with whatever that earth energy is that holds us just strongly enough so we don’t fall off.
You will learn to reconnect more easily. Have faith that you will.
and I’ll be waiting here to welcome you. We’ll have fun, I promise.
with love, and more appreciation that you can know for all that you are doing, and all that you are being and all that you are becoming. Without you there would be no me.
your future self
It was cloudy last night, but I was awake, and feeling around for the edges of the moon, like a bite out of a cookie, the intersection of unfamiliar and familiar— but just like every single day, risen or set, crescent or dark, the moon was whole the whole time, and the only thing that shifted was how we saw it.
So, I am taking an intuitive painting e-course by Flora Bowley. The course is officially over, but I am working on week 4 of 5 content, since my time is not wide open.
I have painted alone, in the morning, in the evening, with Della and Doug, with Della, with Della next to me, with Della hanging on me, with Della painting next to me or asking to help me or helping.
Today I painted over something I hated and it felt *so liberating* to let go of what was not working, and not able to work with me, where I am right now and my current skill set. I could not transform it into what I was imagining so I let it go. Wow. Let it go.
I’ve been following the course more closely than you might imagine, knowing me. I already paint, and have painted for years. This way, that way, my way and ways… I have never taken painting lessons, tend toward the quite abstracted, and have my own intuitive way into my work.
I remove a lot of paint in my “way” and the way of Flora’s teaching it in adding. Layers and layers and layers of color, tone, texture, and the results are maddening and suprising and sometimes so lovely. Wow colors accidentally coinciding and causing intensity. Layers combining into something mysterious. I have really let go of how “I DO THINGS” and have had so much fun making messes, trusting they will not last forever. And you know what? They don’t, They transform. I transform them. I rotate and step back and move without thinking and reassess. I make ugly messes and then surprising things that I would never have been able to make consciously/deliberately. There is loveliness in the accidental nature of this, in the looseness, in the non-plan.
These days internally are about a lot of reflection and allowing. I suppose, trusting the crazy ugly messes will not last, so not focusing just on those.
A million years ago when I was learning how to ride a motorcycle, I learned through experience we drive toward where we are looking. SO look where you want to go, not where you want to avoid going… and this process is surprisingly like that. I can rework ugly or I can go over to that section there, the one in the corner with the light peeking through, and focus on that.
I am not sure how this class will inform my painting, but I already know how it is informing my being. I am learning to trust the mess a little more– not for what it is, but for what it can become if I let it go.
Here’s the link to the next round of the course. Be prepared to get messy in every way, and see what happens when you let go of How You Do It. Possibilities emerge.
I just painted for the second day in a row.
2 songs worth
my stuff is all set out for a course I am taking, so it is easy to just do a little– let this be a lesson to me: MAKE IT EASY
it does not all have to be all or nothing.
in fact, really, it is rarely about being able to be/do all and way too easy to do nothing.
the way sumac seeds collect in yesterday’s footprints
the way the pines stand, two by two
and the way their branches tangle
the way the snow falls on my face, and fogs the field into soft edges
the way I forget to look up, as I watch my feet for snow hidden stumblings
the way I turn at the end to walk it again, more slowly, taking time to look up
may we be well
may we notice beauty
may we be easy and open and soft
there is a moment in conjuring where a blissful AH HA! comes — sometimes quietly, sometimes with a roar, but there is this moment, when ahhhhhhhhh an IDEA, an offering, a theme, a project, emerges from the primordial muck and
and then, facebook and my inbox bring me messages of cool and wonderful folks doing something similar, offering something similar, thinking similar thoughts, doing it better and bigger and with big audiences and the gravitas of previous successes, sold out retreats and workshops, email lists that have thousands of members…
two options, right?: say YAY, I’m on the right track! I’m surfing an energetic bow wave!…or Boo, someone (more visible, better, more popular, more connected, more authoritative) has already offering somethingsimilar, so now if I develop and offer my vision, my version, my interpretation, it will seem like copying…. like emulation, not like the organic, sincere expression of kateness that it was…
I wish I could say that I go with option 1. But really, option 2 is the one that bites me. I feel my own creativity shut down. I backslide. I do not often have the momentum to push forward *anyway*.
So– I am sitting with this, witnessing it. Witnessing both my own rise and fall. The wow, this is so cool, part (OOOOO I like that part so much) and the DAMN, I missed the boat part (not so fun, and not so accurate, either, right?)… Just working on witnessing.