“Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind is not clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.” - Wu-men
Returning to Center
As mothers there are times in our lives when we lose our footing, and we need to re-align our internal compass so we can find our way back to center. Sometimes the journey back is like a walk-about in our internal landscape, encountering a whole guest house of emotions and memories. When we eventually return to our source of power and reconnect to ourselves, it can be surprising what we have found. The act of “returning” allows us a chance to embody new parts of ourselves, which may turn out to be essential elements in our path forward. This collection of images and writing comes from my own personal walk-about. I would view these mainly as “process” pieces, art and writing created from inside the journey.
By Lisa Kagan
Inspired by Rumi’s poem “The Guest House”
So many inhabitants have come and gone
shadowy cloak of grief
unpredictable spark of anger
drowning flood of sadness
shark of jealousy
desolation of wanting
bare vessel of exhaustion
stark cords of separation
just like the last act of a play
they have each come in their own turn
taken the stage
sometimes two at a time
to tell their story
awash with dramatic flashes of color and desperation
occasionally grasping for the light
with great courage and resolve
I have let them in
born witness to their display
their long-winded explanations
on occasion, when given this type of undivided attention
some simply vanished
leaving only a shadow
or a few stray footprints behind
now I feel like I have cleared out the last one of them
swept out their remaining debris
taken down the curtains
scrubbed the floors
opened all the doors and windows
invited the wind to rush through
rain to wash
sun to dry and purify
now greeted by this fresh emptiness
I am full
resilience, compassion and faith
sit quietly and hold space.
Exploring Your Own Internal Landscape
I invite you to explore a few different ways into creating “process” pieces to explore your own internal landscape.
Color palette of emotions:
Get ready to get messy. Get out your paints, put on your smock and leave the world of words and ideas and enter into the world of color. Explore color mixing and experiment with expressing your emotions through color. Do not feel the need to make a finished piece of work, but allow yourself the chance to communicate with yourself through this visual and tactile experience.
Creating layers of meaning, incorporating your child’s artwork:
Experiment with incorporating painted paper and images from your child’s artwork into your own piece. This can be an especially powerful process when layering material from your child’s artwork over existing pieces of artwork you have created, as well as adding it into new pieces. An example of this can be seen in “Dark Garden” where I created the flowers in the foreground out of painted paper that my four-year-old son made and overlaid it on top of a painting I had previously created during a challenging period in my journey into motherhood.
About the Artist
Lisa Kagan is an artist, writer, educator and personal historian. She believes in the transformative nature of the creative process to heal, empower, challenge, inform, and awaken the human spirit. Her business, Family Heirloom Arts, is dedicated to helping people celebrate their life stories through the creation of illustrated heirloom books. She is also the founder of the Art of Motherhood program, offering creative writing and art programs for mothers of young children. Lisa has published a book of her original poetry and art entitled Emergence. Selected material from the work shown here will also be featured in Lisa’s upcoming illustrated book, the Art of Motherhood Anthology, which is currently underway. This anthology is a collection of art and writing by mother artists and writers from around the country exploring themes central to the early years of motherhood. Lisa lives with her husband and their four-year-old son in Portland, Oregon.