The Gift – Part IV – The Final Chapter

“The Center” courtesy Pexels.

When we work on a painting, we often work from the center or point of focus outward, and when we work on a puzzle, we often work from the outside edges inward. There is no rhyme or reason why we do it, but it is just the way we tend to see things. If you look at the picture above, you are drawn to the center, and if you were to paint it, you would likely start from that point.

As we go through our lives, many things happen to us that start at the outside edges- some absolutely beautiful like making friends and falling in love, and some start at the center, like losing a good friend or loved one who may be lost in some unexplained way. And then there are the horrible things that happen in life – wars, or people with mental problems who hurt others mentally and physically, perhaps even ending their lives. These things affect us both on the outside edges and the center, until no part of the puzzle or painting feels safe.

I guess in my lifetime, I have lived both sides of life. I’ve been through the utmost joy in life – falling in love, bearing children, and working to serve others. And I have been through the horrors of life too. I have had those bad days when I did not believe I had the strength to go on, but life somehow had my back. There was a purpose for me in the long run. Perhaps suicide was an attempt to rid myself of those horrors in life, to reach out and fight them in the only ways I knew how at the time.

But in the end result, despite those things, I have taken the high road. I have served my fellow human beings – women, men and children, all of my life. I taught illiterate and ESL adults how to read; loved, cared for and protected special needs children for 15+ years; and advocated/mentored physically challenged artists with starting their own own art businesses for 20+ years. I have served as a volunteer in one capacity or other since I was 14 years young, and will likely serve through whatever time I have left here.

“We resonate with one another’s sorrows because we are interconnected. Being whole and simultaneously part of a larger whole, we can change the world simply by changing ourselves. If I become a center of love and kindness in this moment, then in a perhaps small but hardly insignificant way, the world now has a nucleus of love and kindness it lacked the moment before. This benefits me and it benefits others.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

26 thoughts on “The Gift – Part IV – The Final Chapter

  1. Thank you most kindly, Laura. Never feel sorry for me though, because those things I lived through taught me to appreciate the little things so much more, and also because I did go through it, I am so able to help others and to have compassion for them as I have told others often. We can’t have rainbows without rain. Despite these tough challenges, I manage to be an artist and to do good for others, so I am ok. Every now and then I have a touch of PTSD, but overall I am managing. Peace and blessings, Anne

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  2. Hello Anne,
    Nice to meet you here. Linked into your blog from a comment of yours on Lauren McKay’s blog.
    Real synchronicity at work I think.
    As part of a recent attempt at self care I have started to revisit two mandalasi did more than 10 years ago as part of a trial coaching group at a local women’s centre. This article will really help my reflections.
    Thank you so much 🌼

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    1. Thank you so kindly. We learn over the many years that it is best to keep such things to ourselves, and I am sure many people, even the women, found it difficult to respond at all, even though I KNOW that many other women suffer the same things or worse even. It is like a poison, and by “bleeding it out” so to speak, in the best way, even without going into all the horrid intricacies, is still very freeing. I am so glad you did the coaching and I hope you continue to do it. It is much needed for a lot of women, for we are very emotional people and it is truly harmful to keep it all inside us. Thank you for the services you have done and also for your wonderful sharing with me. I welcome knowing more about it. Are the mandalasi related in some way to mandalas? I have done some mandalas, and also I have worked with Labyrinths, which are very healing in so many ways, especially painting them in canvas tarps that can be used in many types of facilities, no matter how small they are. I love these things as they help bring us back to our centers. Any help I can ever do or be, I always welcome. I am very much an advocate for all types of women who are suffering in some ways.

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  3. How’s that again for synchronicity Ann. I planned today to read mandala info. on yourblog and will do so later today. I carried out some research on Mandalas (sorry, mandalisi in previous reply was a typo) including work of Carl Jung & an article on spirit science central.com. I have yet to read all the info. To give me a comprehensive overview.
    Hope you are well

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    1. Wow, Margaret, What synchronicity – you are so right! And when I looked back on your site, I saw that indeed we are soul sisters. Oh how incredible!!! I am truly inspired and overjoyed that we have come to meet. I look forward to reading what you found on Mandalas. This is so strange, but I have been searching for a way to get back into my art again, and here you appear suddenly with a huge amount of inspiration and something to help me remember things I loved so much before. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful end to my day. I am going to visit that site too. I also have not read everything and will look forward to sharing.

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      1. Hi Ann,
        Thank you for your kind words and I am so happy to hear that you view me as an inspiration and soul sister which I view you as also.
        Today I remembered just taking out my paints one morning & using my fingers to shade in various colours on wet paper and posting it on word press. This act was quite therapeutic considering I hadn’t picked up any art materials for a few years. Since researching mandalas using Abit of headwork I feel I can use the painting as a mandala as a follow on from my other two.
        Watch this space, you have also made my day.
        ❤️

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  4. Really Ann, the coaching sessions I attended were a little hit and miss in that the facilitator seemed to be running with a few ideas and the sessions lacked any direction, doing bits & bats of allsorts. The group started following three of us responding to a local newspaper ad, the fourth member was a friend I had invited & I don’t think her heart was in it. Later on other people who appeared quite ‘needy’ started appearing. As the group’s facilitator offered counselling at the centre I suspected these people were encouraged to come along. Perhaps this was a way of weaning from counselling. From then on things went pear shaped & the group folded.
    On and off I have met the group’s facilitator when out in town & we have kept in touch. More recently we have met at a countryside coffee shop near her home and she was surprised I had kept my mandalas. Maybe I will revisit them with her and we both could do more.

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  5. I love the way you communicated about this because I believe it is a truly common issue. Some counselors just seem to practice in certain ways or using certain methods that don’t feel real to me. I once had the best counselor ever many years ago. I liked him because he was very honest, and when he felt it appropriate, he would share something with me too from his past life. He was very real and I could absolutely relate to him. We need counselors who are very real and not afraid to share with us as well as us with them. My present counselor was willing to share with me that his first wife committed suicide, and that was huge for me and gave me a lot of ways to relate to him. I think that is a crucial aspect of coaching/counseling. I have used mandalas that I still love to create, and also I have used labyrinths, which are another wonderful way to center ourselves, and to find the missing aspects again. Sometimes it is difficult for sure. I am glad you have a friend you might work on your mandalas with. Another thing I did with a very good friend, an artist lady, was to make something similar to soul collage cards. I am not sure if you are familiar with them, but you can likely read about them via Google or some other channel. Anyway, we did not do specifically soul collage cards, but we used clippings of pictures from lots of magazines, and did sort of collage on cards, and then wrote on the back side what they meant to us. We would share them amongst ourselves, telling what each card meant. It was very therapeutic for sure, and very satisfying. All of these things can work well for you at the right time, and with the right people to share them with. I really related to the Soul Collage and the Labyrinths most because I worked with both a lot. Boy, I have a wonderful big box of soul collage cards I have created. I must go back and revisit them and see where I have been psychologically and spiritually in that time. That is always good to go back and look at where we have been so we have a better context of where we are, regardless of what medium we are using to look inside.

    I think, as I noted, that each of these has its time and place, but also I think that the people involved with doing it or counseling or coaching have to be truly dedicated and real in what they are doing. When I got together with the ladies who did the cards, we never had any issues with being real and involved. For me, a smaller group works better. A larger group feels too impersonal to me. I have tried both.

    Let me know how this progresses. Yes, I think you would love the soul collage cards too. You only need cards about 4 x 6 I think (I have to look at mine again) and we cut ours out or bought something close to card stock and had the people cut them for us at Michael’s Art Supplies. I would love to keep touch on this. It is very good for the soul. You can get lots of free magazines often at libraries from the ones that are out of date, or you can likely purchase a bunch of them from Recycler, Facebook, etc. I tend to like the photo magazines, National Geographic, etc. Sometimes a lot of our friends have some to contribute too. Any magazine with any kind of pictures can do though. You only need those, your card stock or the big sheets of heavier art board that comes in different colors, your scissors and glue sticks. You can cut out the pictures around people, collage different people together, or collage them over scenes you create. I will try to find mine and see if I can post some on my blog for it is one of my favorite things. As I think on it, you could create really cool mandalas with this form with a slightly more squared cut of art board and perhaps slightly larger. Oh now I wish you lived closer. It sure would be fun to do this again with you and some of the women I know. This is so great. You made my day by helping me to remember these things.

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    1. Dear Margaret, What a joy to read your rediscovery of things that have a spiritual meaning to you, and I too was overjoyed last night after reading your post and then remembering my own spiritual creations. I have been searching for the box I had them in, and so far have not uncovered them but I may have packed them away someplace. Anyway, the rediscovery, or potential rediscovery of something so close to our souls is thrilling beyond belief. I feel almost as though I have rediscovered Atlantis!!! I owe you so many thanks for this, and I feel such a strong kinship with you. There is something that we both share and which we have yet to discover, but I think it will be something amazing! I so look forward to it and to your mandalas. Where are you located? I am in Southern California in a small town at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains called Yucaipa. I have lived here for about 5 years now, and it was here that I met my significant other, Richard, who worked in this senior mobile home park doing maintenance.

      I think it would be wonderful if we could find ways to share our creations and spiritual journeys along the way. My e-mail is anneappraiser@gmail.com and I welcome any and all mail from you. If, for any reason I don’t answer fairly quickly, I might have Richard in the hospital again, but I am very excited about finding another spirit. Also, I thought I would tell you that I am studying a course called The Silent Eye Mystery School and it is directed as a correspondence course by three people I know very well – Sue Vincent, Stuart France, and Steve Tanham. They all live in England, and they do posts too regularly about the ruins, the old churches, and the history overall of England. It is fascinating, and they are wonderful people. I am very low income at present, but the correspondence lesson costs me $14.00 a month for a new lesson and I am almost into it for a year now. We are studying a lot of other cultures historically too, and the story of Gilgamesh, the oldest known piece of literature from Sumeria is coming up in their live performance studies that take place in England. I would give an arm and leg to go sometime, but it is not in the cards now. But they have these live events periodically too and I love all the people who are studying with them. It is not your typical correspondence course at all. There are no grades and we do get feedback on our journals that we keep. We do meditation too and I absolutely love all of it as it is beautiful and so connected with the history and so many other aspects of our universe. They are online so you can find them easily and if you want, you can follow the posts of Sue and the others on the site by that name.

      Oh you definitely made my day. Peace and blessings, Anne

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      1. Hi Ann,
        Sorry for the delayed reply to your more than welcome comment. I feel I am currently overdoing things with word press and am having to work out how I can make best use of it. I inadvertenty clicked on something I hadn’t intended doing which resulted in a ? Upgrade costing £89 (long story). I am here definitely for another year although previous £69 premium account ends in June.
        It is unfortunate we are not nearer to one another. I live in Chorley, a town in the north west of England about 20 miles from Manchester. I note your e mail address and will message when I don’t feel as digitally overloaded.
        Thank you for prompting me to do a post today after doing a painting. The post resulted in several add ons due to my new ‘package’ ( I think).
        The bonus of these proceedings was that I could see related posts on a creative theme.
        Thanks so much for that. My last written only post eventually mentions you.
        The plan was to post my paintings incorporating text to link in with your post as I used to be able to do (my way which seemed to link with word press’s way). Looking like I will have to do it word press’s way which will no doubt prove liberating in the end so I feel I need a digital detox over the week end.
        Hope you have a wonderful weekend.🌼❤️😇

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  6. Hi Margaret, I can so relate with what you are experiencing. I have a free blog with wordpress, and that is what I can afford at this time of life. I also get totally overwhelmed with too much e-mail and posts from others as I currently have some 966 in my mailbox waiting to be reviewed and responded to. So never feel you have to do anything except to take good care of your own self. We all have to do that. I am pretty much overwhelmed too and I so miss my art. But to do it, I have to set up things so I can work, and by the time I get through setting up to do it, my time to do it is gone, or I am too tired to finish it up. I too need a digital weekend. It is taking over our lives I think, though the connections are wonderful. I would love to see your paintings when you are able later on. You should not have to pay more for a blog on which to post. Hugs and blessings, Anne

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  7. Oh Ann,
    Can’t believe that this post initiated for me chats about mandalas & labyrinths when in fact it was the final chapter of your nightmare.
    The reason I revisited our posts was to see what had been discussed about labyrinths!
    At the time I was having techno probs with word press & seemed to be intent on painting a mandala. I obviously hadn’t read your post properly. An example of how focusing on problems and goals takes one away from the centre. Wow, what a learning curve but please accept my apologies

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    1. You need never apologize for anything at all, Margaret. We are friends for the long haul, and friends understand that we all can have things that we might not understand at first. I really think if we never had any challenges or difficulties in life, we could not truly appreciate life for what gift God has given us all. And I think as I have perhaps noted once before someplace, we could never really know compassion without them. I love labyrinths, and they have been around for many centuries within the Christian tradition. Hugs, Anne

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      1. Yes, all true Ann and perhaps at some stage I will write my story.
        Yes Ann labyrinths have been around a long time. Our conversations have stimulated me to find a little book I bought in our Christian bookshop by Brian Draper and abook by Laurence Freeman called ‘the inner pilgrimage’ – the journey of meditation.
        Perhaps this is the encouragement I need to set time aside to read.
        I have a tendency to get overwhelmed by people’s problems to the detriment of my well being. I am however learning how to create boundaries. 🙂

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  8. That is something we all have to learn how to do. I still have difficulties what that very thing, but I try to use mine by being an advocate for larger causes – instead of being involved with one person’s problems, I try to focus instead on things like signing Change.org petitions, or working on a book on anti-bullying and perhaps making an art quilt for that cause, etc. That way I am not involved in the individual issues, but can keep the things I do under control. I work as a volunteer whenever I am able and that is good too. I hope that you do find a way to write your own story. We all have one, and I think they can serve others to know that they are not alone in their suffering, and what someone else did to take resolve their own problems. I love the writer, Phillip Keller. He has written a lot of great Christian books that are highly inspiring in a sort of unique way. He is not only an author, but a naturalist, agriculture specialist and wildlife photographer who was born and raised by parents who served as missionaries in East Africa. He has written quite a few books – 21 in all, and he gives a very unique view of his relationship and that of others with God. He was born in 1920, so I suspect he is no longer alive, but definitely a good writer too. Your book sounds good too and I will look it up. Thank you forever. My e-mail is anneappraiser@gmail.com. Feel free to write me any time. I like you very much.

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