Bless This Mess
When something feels unsettled in my life or business, and I get a little intuitive nudge that Somethin' ain't right, I turn to my internal GPS for guidance. Here's how it works: I close my eyes, I ask a question about whatever is going on, and then I wait. Within seconds, visions start to appear, coded in symbolism that I can interpret for meaning, and the way forward becomes clear. (Is this not how everyone makes business decisions??)
So when I started to have one of those feelings a few months ago, I went inward. I had a vision of my hand holding a ripe apple. When I blinked, the apple was just a core. Then I blinked again, and it was five seeds, sitting the palm of my hand and ready for planting. I thought the message was clear: it's time to plant new seeds! Sew some new ideas and let new work blossom out into the world. I felt hopeful about the future, felt sure that whatever was next would be fruitful. So why was that vision followed by the most frustrating, stagnant, anxiety-ridden months I've had in ten years of running my business?
Because I forgot an essential piece of this story: you can't grow anything healthy in tired soil.
A couple weeks ago, on a really challenging day, I went to see a friend for a tarot reading. The first card she pulled for me was “Decay,”and what she told me was this: “It's time to compost some parts of your life. Eventually, compost turns into rich soil at the bottom, but in the beginning it just looks like a bunch of eggshells and melon rinds. Give it time.”
Over the last couple years, I've trimmed a lot of practices and ideas that didn't work for me anymore. I said no to projects that weren't right, I got clear on my pricing, I let go of some patterns of unnecessary overwork to create more space and less stress. So why was I still struggling? Because even though I had made some big and often brave decisions to create a healthier business, I hadn't taken any time to let these changes integrate—I hadn't given the eggshells and melon rinds time to decompose.
Composting is not a sexy part of the growing process. It is messy. It's literally just turning over piles of scraps and waiting for them to transform into something new. WHAT. A. METAPHOR. Is this not the exact phase in the creative process that we most want to skip over? The part where we are knee-deep in the stuff we've realized no longer works for us, and we're just waiting for something to change? It is also one of the most essential phases. Without that time of rest, without tending those parts of our lives and practices that are ready to decay, there would be no fertile ground for new ideas.
In this moment, rest feels like the best gift I could give to myself (and also a delightful rebellion against hustle culture and the pressure to be continuously productive.) I have adopted the mantra “Bless this Mess,” and I can feel the rumbles of transformation happening just below the surface. Every day I have new ideas for things I want to do: create magical things for your home, teach workshops on the creative process, open a retreat center. I even had an idea for a book—fully-formed, chapter titles and all—come to me so fast while driving that I had to pull over on the side of the road to write it down. Like the flowers and fruits of late-Summer, I am making new seeds. And one day, when the ground is ready, they will start to grow.
I will be taking the rest of 2019 to finish up current projects and do some good resting and deep dreaming for the future. In 2020, I will be limiting the number of murals I paint to three, with a focus on larger projects (and traveling!) so that I can begin to cultivate some other offerings. I have one mural in the works already, which I am very excited about, and if you're interested in claiming one of the other two spots for next year, drop me a line at email@example.com and let’s chat.
In the meantime, I hope y'all are getting some good rest if you need it and enjoying this extra-long weekend!
P.S. The painting at the top of this blog post is from a series called “Seeds” that I made while in residence at Le Jardin Botanique in Marnay-sur-Seine, France in 2016. You can see more from the series here.