In January 2015, I posted on my Facebook page that my word for 2015 was going to be "JOY". Nice idea but easier said that than done. Now, in September, I recognize that I am in a situation that is familiar to me from the painting studio. A painter starts out with an intention: I am going to paint "Joy".
Me: How is it going?
Painter: I'm making a happy painting.
Me: How are you feeling as you paint?
P: I'm feeling sad and heavy.
Me: Could you let some of that show up in your painting?
P: But I want it to be happy! I don't want to ruin it!
Me: You did paint happy. But this is process painting. Could you let your current feeling show up in the painting too?Usually the painter agrees. New, darker images appear but instead of ruining the painting, it becomes richer, more complex, and more satisfying.
I love the way that lessons learned in the painting studio reverberate throughout my life. As I struggle to find space for more joy in my life, I know from my painting experience that admitting to the dark parts doesn't undermine the happy stuff - it makes the painting better. Both sides of the struggle - the wanting joy and the dark feelings that block it out - deserve to be in the painting and make it beautiful.
My life may not always be happy but it is beautiful.