My explorations through art have started to head down a different road. I consider this to be a good thing, but not yet "good enough". At present, I feel like I'm still having too many of the 'three step back' days. They are definitely less frequent than when I invited people to follow as engaged in this process of healing. In fact, then, it seemed that there was no forward movement at all. 
So what would be "good enough"? Will I ever really be satisfied with the place I've arrived at? ...probably not. That is what drives me to continue to explore- that belief that there is always more to learn. However, I have been musing over the words "good enough". I have realized that my drive to go further, delve deeper, etc doesn't preclude the idea of good enough. 
I have been talking about this idea with people around me, and I seem to get really quizzical looks from many. In our perfection- focused society of the BEST commodities, the BEST performance, the BEST of everything, most people don't understand the concept of "good enough". So let me clarify what I mean by this statement.
I'll start by saying what I DON'T mean.
I have always thought of "good enough" as many people do, as meaning settling for something, or an outcome that was less than the best. I see this as a disservice to ourselves now. AND, that is NOT what I mean by "good enough". Nor do I mean that we shouldn't endeavour to do our best at the things we do in our lives. 
I strive to do my best, always- but where do I draw the line?
Lately I've been feeling that I work SO hard- just to be ALRIGHT, when others seem to take for granted that life will go on. And, so, again I ask: what IS "good ENOUGH"?

I live in Edmonton, Alberta. For anyone who knows hockey, you will remember the Edmonton Oilers back in the 80's when Wayne Gretsky was our local hero. In those days, my husband and I had seasons tickets to the games, and it was fun to watch the Oilers led by Gretsky. On any given day, Gretsky played beyond what anyone else could do. On his best days, he demonstrated over and over again why he is considered the BEST. On his off days, he was still better than anyone else who was up against him, but he might not score. It was understood that off even his mark, Gretsky still gave everything he had, and that was 'good enough'. 
Picture
These ideas have been rolling around in my head since I last wrote about being 'alright'. At times the words crashed against sharp objects that exist in my imagination, cutting my resolve to shreds, leaving me feeling like I was drowning, once again, in my own nightmares. 
I asked myself: "when is 'alright' good enough?" thus fusing for me the proximity of the notion of 'alright' to 'good enough'.The perception of alright, and good enough are similar enough in the body- felt sense they inhabit in my body, but differ in scale, and acceptance. It is fine to answer 'alright' when somebody asks how you are, but it seems quite a different thing to say that things are 'good enough' if queried. 
Of course, I decided to explore this further through my art. 
I have long since been a huge fan of mandalla work. There are many ways to use the simplicity of the circle to discern the nature of feelings that are within. Frequently, I use mandalla's in my own work, and with others, as a check in point: what would it look like to draw, paint, colour your feelings in the moment?
This exploration began with the piece above. 
I will tell you that I was feeling not quite 'myself' when I drew this. It came from a very young aspect of myself that feels consumed with unexpressed anger. In the moment I felt I had taken, not three, but 56, nearly 57 steps back. It started as a red, angry eye. This changed to something less definable, but no less full of anger and pain.


How does this relate to 'good enough'?

BALANCE.
I don't have any.
Not entirely true, but it is no accident that balance poses are my challenge in my yoga practice. (After all- how we do anything is how we do everything.)
I began to feel the similarities between 'good enough' and balance. I wanted to explore how I could manipulate these feelings into a usable form,  as I move through my process towards embracing wellness/ wholeness. 
When I had regained some sense of self, I moved from my initial piece to the first of this series, and I moved through them as the ideas and sense of all this solidified in my body. 

I'm pretty sure I have never used the classic yin/ yang symbol that denotes balance. I was drawn to it, and decided to use it to examine my feelings more deeply.
The first in this series borrowed the colours from the piece I did through a younger place. It still felt very angry and confused, with rays of anger radiating, or leaking beyond its containment. 
I then went to the classic black and white version, noting that it felt quite soothing, but didn't fit for me. 
Next I created a colour wheel, denoting the colours that spoke to me in this art invitation: black- despair and confusion, red- anger, red contained in black- pain, brown- sad, light blue/ indigo- clarity, blue, calm, pink- alright, and purple- joyous. The colours are opposite their converse, so, for example, calm is opposite to anger. 
I went on to use the same basic shapes to visually see where the balance of these feelings were in my experience. The angry, painful, desperate, sad... side noticeable overtakes the gentler side of my mandala. The harsher feelings also have sharp edges that tear away at my psyche. The largest part of the softer side of this mandala is 'alright'. There are small bursts of joy, clarity and calm as well- but mostly alright. And for now, 'alright' is 'good ENOUGH'. It is the ground zero I spoke of previously, that way above the bottomless pit of self- loathing I had found myself in. Alright, is a good resting place for the time being. It is the best I can summon- on balance- in the now.
I let that sit, and percolate for a while and began two 'works in progress'. The first is how I imagine I would LIKE the balance of these feelings to look. The more difficult side will always be anger, pain, confusion and sadness for me. I imagined that if they came upon me in more 'manageable' segments, I would be better able to cope with them in healthier ways without losing pieces of myself. The 'eye' on that side is in the lavender/ indigo,  symbolizing clarity. The gentler side of my dream balance wheel still has an angry eye, but tempered with enough 'alright' to make it softer. The whole of this side is protected with calm, making room for more joy and clarity. 
The last image is playful. Also not finished, I began to introduce more colours with an eye towards making it more aesthetically pleasing...
As I said,the last two mandalas are works in progress as I strive for balance, as we all do. I somehow hear a friend of mine saying: how is THAT like your life? 
THAT is exactly the point- I go deeper within to uncover what is right for me in the moment, to facilitate the forward movement towards wholeness (which includes anger, despair...). I continue to envision what balance and good enough can look like for me.  

"Good ENOUGH" changes in any given moment, day to day, and year to year. 
Back to my story about Wayne Gretsky and his 'good enough', it should be understood that 'good ENOUGH' is a measure of where we are right now- that in balance there are enough positives in our lives to counter the heaviness of our existence; that we let enough light in so we don't sit in the dark. As we strive for that balance there are times filled with anger and pain, and my wish is that there are equal amounts of joy and peacefulness. I am reminded of a song by Indigo Girls, "You and Me of the Ten Thousand Wars". The lyric that has floated across my memory as I have written this: 'a moment of peace is worth every war behind us."
THAT is what I mean by 'good ENOUGH'. It is the place within me that knows that in the present I have done everything I am able to create forward momentum for myself and those with whom I am in connection. 
I'm off to make a 'good enough' dinner for my family, infused with love, caring and nurturing.
namaste
Please let me know how you conceptualize 'good ENOUGH'. Comment, message, FB...
 
 
I am very, VERY tired this week (and last).
Dragging my butt through day after day, workout after workout, thinking I just had to kick myself into high gear...
Most who know me already know... and for others who did not know this yet- this Saturday, May 10, would have been the eighteenth birthday of our third child, second son, Cassady. 
Cassady was a full term, over ten pound baby boy. His heart fluttered but a few beats on its own, and the remainder of his time here, in our midst- the briefest of existences- was spent on life support. Until we were informed that we had to make the call as to whether the tubes and lifelines should be removed.
Though I remember that moment as one of the most difficult decisions of our lives, it was really very simple. Cassady was an infant body. It seemed when I held him, that his soul had kissed me, and was gone. There was no essence, life- force, prana, to hold him to this plane. His brief appearance was a life lesson, of the fleeting and precarious nature of our existence, that nobody wants to be given. And it touched us, and those around us to a depth that still ripples beyond. 
I mark the day with the 'family birthday cake', planting a perennial, and a reflective pace. And my body remembers.


Picture
I will continue to sketch/ watercolour, play with words, and allow the quiet introspection that comes with this anniversary to be my guide this week. 

I wrote a poem a number of years ago that still feeds my tired body on this  sad occasion:

On Being With the Dead and Dying                        

Or
Whispers to my Son in the Night


Ode to the love, my small child-

And to the pain- joy, laughter and grief

That your spark has endowed.

Your body breathed, only

The essence of artificial life-

Man- made air forced through your tiny lungs

With masks and tubes.

וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים, מְרַחֶפֶת עַל-פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם.

Breath of the divine

Grazed over the top of your head.

It met my lips,

As I memorized the feeling of your downy head

With my kiss.

I gave your cold, small body,

Purpling and bluish,

To the tender hearts of my young children.

Their hands reached out for you,

Cold against cold,

Souls aching in unison,

We chanted our pain.

Birthed into love,

Buried with love.

Your   transitory encounter with this life-

The definition of pure love.

And still,

Your brief appearance on this plane,

Intersecting our lives,

And forever changing our experience of this worldly existence;

Brings purpose to our lives.

I have held, in my own hands,

The ephemeral-

The fleeting moment when life is given

And then, is gone.

One heart beating it’s fluttery rhythm,

Devoid of prana,

You have given me the gift of the deepest wisdom.

*The Hebrew text above translates as: And the spirit of god blew across the face of the water.


And so, my art, my words, my reflection for the remainder of this week will focus on the profound joy, AND grief, that all of my children and granddaughter ignite within me. My work will stand as a prayer, of sorts, for the safe passage of my loved ones through this life. (But not SO safe that they don't brush up against the experiences that teach us such deep love. I wish I could spare them from grief, but, of course, I cannot.)
I will TRY to be gentle with myself- my body remembers.
EAT birthday cake, dance and cry... 
For this week, my intention will be to feel this very human existence, in its pain and reverie.

Please comment, email, FB your thoughts.
namaste.