Saturday, March 1, 2008

Reflection & Illustration Friday: LEAP

[all images Googled] Oddly, happily, and synchronistically, as I've been writing this word over & over in my journal for the last week, it turned out to be the new Illustration Friday theme word. LEAP. When I was a gymnast, my favorite event was the balance beam, and I was the definition of the word fearless. I was fearless because I was haplessly, hopelessly, completely in love with that apparatus and my own self, on it, over it, elevated by it, in tune with it. I loved the feel of the wood, the smell of the wood, the line of the wood, the rounded edges of the beam, the sensation of elegant, lifted flight whenever I even looked at the beam. Oh, we had our differences. I often sported big ugly bruises, twisted ankles, dislocated shoulders, callouses ripped open on my feet and hands ... but it was love-work on a relationship that was deeply personal to me, my sense of myself, my sense of what I COULD do, COULD conceive of being. And it was lyrical -- movement, trust, grace, work, practice, detail, athleticism, exhaustion, commitment, magic, and, yes: LEAPS. Lots and lots and lots of LEAPS. I was 5'-8" tall in 7th grade ... unusually and unpopularly tall for a gymnast. But when I leapt, it could not be missed -- certainly not by anyone watching, and absolutely not internally.

I haven't leapt, in that same oneness-of-mind-body-spirit, in a long, long time. My connections to and with visual art have been very grounded, like twirling and bouncing but on the floor exercise mat ... music accompanies me but there is caution, still, inside me. However, the adventures my art has introduced me to have slowly infiltrated my life, & strengthened my leaper-spirit, in larger ways, and now that I have reached a place that requires me to make a professional leap, I realize I'm ready, if out of practice. I'm scared. I'll frankly admit it. Sometimes a comfort zone is really just a place of habit, a place of 'settling for' and 'putting up with' because there's some kind of pay-off. For me, my job the last 3 years has been both of those to the maximum. "Settling for" a neurotic and profoundly unnurturing environment, and "putting up" with it because for the first time in two decades, I was working only an 8 hour day, and absolutely no weekends, and for the most money I have ever earned in my career. In the construction industry [my field], this kind of schedule for an administration position is literally unheard of. Ten hour days and taking work home, working at least one day every weekend, and more often than not BOTH days - that was my life for 20 years. Read? Plan a family trip on a weekend? Make art? Let alone write at any length in my journal that wasn't just gripe gripe gripe about work? Please! Fantasy! Fiction! Didn't happen.

But "settling for" and "putting up" with never fail to become toxic, and I've been swallowing the toxins to the point that my reserves are wimpish and weakened: my reserves of self faith, self esteem, professional confidence, eagerness for challenge, innovative thinking, autonomous professional behavior -- all of which coincide with & would reflect my interior, my art, and my writing. None of that sort of thing is invited or welcome where I've been. I work in an environment of individuals whose idea of progress is that nothing change, not one minute detail of any single or combined element(s). Truly: a living death. And, inevitably, even a strong-minded, change-seeking, risk-taking individual such as myself forgets what a leap even is, let alone that she knows how to do one pretty darned well.

The Universe sent me my ULTIMATE SIGNAL this morning -- the details don't matter and wouldn't tell the story anyway, but you know: it was the proverbial 'choke chain & leash that dashed the winged leaper's heart to the ground one too many times'. Only this time the leaper who is me realized -- "Hey! Wait one second, here! I CAN fly and why in the world HAVEN'T I been flying and let me go dust those wings off and root them right back into my spine where they belong. It's time for take-off."

I'm a leaper. Never again will I miss the signals: if I am anywhere, or with anyone, where I doubt on a daily, minute-by-minute, or ever-increasing basis that my wings are welcome, it is time to LEAP ON OUTTA THERE!!! Those wings have intuitive little spines & feathers & tickly air-sniffers and circumstance-testers on them, so whether I'm 10 minutes into a job interview or a conversation, I can trust the information they're giving me, trust it enough to act on it. And I can attest to the fact that when you strip them off to accommodate anybody else's comfort level, they set to raising serious hell in the closet where you hang 'em. Mine have been flapping, fluttering, twitching and swatting -- trying to restore my normal sense of flight & lightheartedness into me, for 2 years now.

They're going with me to work on Monday, where certain words and time frames have to be declared. Wherever I am, from now on, it's going to be that balance beam and me again -- movement, trust, grace, work, practice, detail, athleticism, exhaustion, commitment, magic, and, yes: LEAPS. Leaps into the future, the unknown, the place where discoveries can be made!


Veronica said...

hey I just emailed you go look

Carla said...

YAY!!! You're getting young again! I've been getting younger lately, too!

twinsand2boys said...

Hey TOni...just wanted to drop in and say hello

Carolina said...

What a wonderul entry Toni. Love coming to your blog because it makes me reflect a lot on my own life...thanks so much for sharing.

Totally agree with you about liking the girl stamp I used vs. Bellas, though, I still love Bellas, I just love the way these were drawn. They're actually from retired set Stampin' Up! put out last year.

By the way, did you get any addresses back from our SBS sisters? Would love to have yours and any you might have.

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Beth said...

oh girl...not only can you can fly !!!

and that's all that really matters !!!

Teresa K. said...

Wow! How insightful is this post?! I love that you're taking a brave step professionally. I am attached to the idea that our emotions provide a true compass by which to navigate. In other words, if you're not happy, something is wrong and it's time to make a change. Isn't it curious how fear hampers us from moving in the direction that every instinct we have would have us go. I wish you well in your new endeavors.

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