Nothing beats the feeling of returning to collaging after a long time away! While jetlag lingered until Wednesday, I managed to complete one collage this week. For me, it’s a win considering that I’m still finding a rhythm juggling between my full-time job, collaging, and life.
This piece came together quickly. I was drawn to the beautiful portrait of a woman photographed in profile holding her braided hair on this week’s image prompt from the Paris Collage Collective weekly challenge. She looked astute and worldly. Her ample hands and distinctive ear accentuate her character—something I wanted to emphasize for the final artwork. (I don’t know if it’s true but I’ve heard this myth from a young age that people with large ears mean long life.)
I instinctively knew from the get-go that a deep dark green background would be appropriate for this assemblage. Green is often associated with healing and nurturing, growth, and vitality. It is also related to human relationships and emotions. I also thought of using plants as a complementary element to symbolize endurance, resilience, and abundance. The pile-high books sitting on her head connote wisdom and knowledge.
Once I fleshed out my idea, it was only a matter of finding the right images and illustrations to layer with the portrait. I experimented with several elements and moved them around until I was satisfied with the outcome. I finished it after an hour or so and then posted it on Instagram. I was surprised at how favorably it was received! Perhaps, it resonated more deeply compared to most of my light and whimsical collages.
Disclosure: I did tweak this piece after posting it. To heighten its richness, I fine-tuned the layering of the elements and added a texture to the background.
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Over the years, I’ve written down a few reflections on lessons I’ve learned in my life. Since we are on the subject of wisdom and growth, I thought it would be appropriate to share them with you.
What I’ve Learned So Far
I’ve learned that personal success doesn’t come with proof. It isn’t written on a business card, a resume, or a bank statement. It cannot be measured nor can it be sized up. Success is showing up in this world engaged in mind, body, and soul and doing the best I can in a meaningful way. What matters is nurturing a creative practice with some degree of skill regardless of the outcome.
I learned to pay attention when a wake-up call arises in my life. It simply means that either the mind, the body, or the spirit is in need of healing. The old ways are no longer working. God or the universe is saying to choose another path. A friend of mine once told me, "Life is about making choices and you make the choice." These powerful words have stayed with me and I have applied them in all aspects of my life. The path is long, untrodden, and downright scary but I've learned that committing to a choice and taking small steps make all the difference in the world. Once healing occurs, I've learned that I no longer have the desire to go back to the way I once was and the only direction to take is forward.
I learned that all feelings, no matter what they are, need room to breathe, and invited to have a seat at the table. They don't get to decide and lead my life but they do need acknowledgment, compassion, and kindness. I observe and let them have their way temporarily like a kid with a tantrum that needs attention. For example: when a wave of sadness overcomes me, I take a few breaths, recognize the emotion and allow the energy of that sadness to pass through. The intensity lessens after it comes to visit again since I gave it a space to de-pressurize. Life is a cycle and feelings will come and go. I learned that I cannot wish them away or avoid them. Doing so will only be detrimental to spiritual growth.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is to accept what is. There will always be situations or events in life that did not turn out in my favor or that unexpectedly changed and things aren’t the way they used to be. Some are easier to let go while others grate at me longer. I learned that resistance equals suffering in the form of sadness, anger, or frustration. When these feelings are persistent, that’s my cue that I’m holding on too tight. A simple acknowledgment tempers the resistance then it opens a pathway for me to start loosening my grip. As I keep practicing this way, my heart opens to the possibility of acceptance. The journey can either be short or long. I learned that the decision solely rests on me.
Do any of these reflections resonate with you?
What lessons have you learned that made an impact on your life? I know you are a shy bunch but for those who would like to share your thoughts, leave them in the comments sections below. Part of the reason I started this newsletter is to share the conversations and stories that I can no longer have with my friend Gail. You can read my ABOUT page for context.
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Thank you for staying with me.
See you next Sunday!
The third resonated with me for sure--accepting what is, loosening the grip, release! The resistance is what can do the most harm. This is a big part of the title I chose for my writing space--Release and Gather. When we hold on to things too tightly, our expectations of how life should go, it leaves our hands closed. But when we let go, we open ourselves to receive the greater things that God has waiting for us.
We’ll said, Holly! What awaits when we open up is unexpectedly beautiful. I believe it! Let go, let God. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the backstory of your newsletter’s title. I always look forward to reading it.