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Resisting Upheaval

It’s been two weeks since I started The Artist’s Way, and boy it’s kicked up a lot of emotions. Subconsciously I knew it would, but I’d forgotten how this work starts to unlock and dismantle things in your life that are no longer serving you. Last Thursday night I did my artist date for the week. I bought some new water colors and sat in my bed painting with frustration. I was annoyed with myself, annoyed with life and staunchly resisting the upheaval that needed up come.

And yet, something magical happened after I got my frustration of color swirl out on the paper. Truthfully, it wasn’t pretty and I didn’t like it. I wanted to make something beautiful but I couldn’t seem to make it happen. I blamed it on the cheap paints and brush. I felt chaotic so I finally stopped trying to force the painting into order and just let it be. When I felt like I’d released all that energy, I set it aside and got a fresh piece of paper.

I felt more calm and I let my intuition guide me…first to red paint, then some pink, purple and navy. I moved my hand in different ways—twirling the brush to and fro to make irregular shapes. It looked like a blob—a beautiful blob, but it was still missing something. I picked up a colored pen to try and add some details but it wouldn’t work on the wet paper so I grabbed the pencil that came with the painting kit. I began to sketch in borders and trace in shapes. I saw what looked like a heart…a little abstract and busted up, but being restored. I marveled at how it seemed to appear out of nowhere. It’s like my hands and heart were synced and my spirit worked with them to call forth the image I needed to see.

This is the power of art and play. We get to use the raw material of our experiences and emotions to connect us to our hearts and bring forth understanding, hope, joy, and love. We also get the chance to let go of old thought patterns or beliefs that keep us from being our best selves.

As I was researching the word upheaval, I learned though its modern definition speaks of a strong or violent change, its etymology suggests it originally meant “to lift, raise, exalt, or be forced up.” In geological terms it meant “a rise of land to a higher elevation (as in the process or mountain building.)

Learning this reminds me the upheaval in my life isn’t happening to me—it’s happening for me…to lift me to higher heights, to make me stronger, to build me into a mountain.

There will inevitably be times (like the last two weeks) when I protest and lose sight of this truth. The pain of what it means to be human will overwhelm me and I’ll need a minute to catch my breath. But then, I will open my hands in surrender again. I’ll show up and do the work day by day so I may be lifted to the next summit view.


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