Be Love- My Mantra for 2018

Be Love
Be Love by Susan Korsnick- acrylic on canvas

Be Love- A Mantra Not a Resolution

In the past few months, I’ve noticed a lot of hearts appearing in my artwork.  Some resemble the ones we are used to seeing on Valentines and others are human hearts.  A self-admitted over-achiever and perfectionist, I’ve spent years striving to achieve and please.  Even my spiritual practice was based on getting in touch with my higher self.  I confused “higher self” with “best self” and that’s where I made a big mistake.  “Best self” is based on judgment and outcome; it always takes more to be my “best”.  It’s exhausting and unobtainable.  Logically, I know that but I always tried a little harder, did a little more, improved just a little bit.  Be better.  Where’s the love in that?

TAKING THE TIME TO LOVE

Christine Mason Miller wrote in Bella Grace magazine, “Whether about to turn 20 or 80, we all only have so much time, so why not be in a hurry- to reach out to one another, however we can- and love them.”  And before we do that, let’s take time to BE LOVE for ourselves- give ourselves permission to stop “doing” and start being.

detail of Be Love- Susan Korsnick's acrylic piece on canvas
detail of Be Love, by Susan Korsnick.

WAKE UP CALL

A recent health scare awakened me to the truth- it’s not as important for me to be my best self as it is for me to relax and be my authentic self.  Just BE.  It sounds so simple to do, doesn’t it?  Just BE.  I was humbled by the experience, to say the least, but there was a silver lining.  As much as I have practiced a spirituality that connects me to my divine self, I needed a bolt of lightning (of sorts) to reconnect me to my human self.

I don’t want to be that driven multi-tasker any more.  I want to create more art, read more books, spend more time with people I care about, play, laugh, and savor every precious moment.  It’s time to let go of judgments, outcomes, and  anything else that takes me out of the present.  It’s time to BE LOVE, starting with my self.

“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, ‘This is important’ and ‘this is important’ and ‘this is important’, ‘you need to worry about this and this and this’.  And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No! This is what’s important.” I. Thomas

I put my hand on my heart and promise to BE LOVE and allow that flawed, goofy, uniquely wonderful being who lives underneath to-do lists and expectations to come out and play and twirl in the light again.

Grampy and Me

ONCE UPON A TIME

Once upon a time, there was a little girl with straight dark brown hair and big dark brown eyes.  She loved spending her summers with her grandparents, Grampy and Nanny, in a small town in central Pennsylvania.  Every morning, the little girl’s grandfather would quietly tiptoe into her bedroom to tuck her blanket under her chin and softly pat her leg before he left for work in the brickyard.  To be completely honest, the little girl was rarely asleep when he came in but she kept her eyes closed and pretended anyway.  The whiff of freshly percolating coffee and the whispers of her grandparents in the kitchen wafted up through the register in the floor.  These soothing smells and sounds lulled her back to sleep.

When Grampy got home, after long hours in the stifling heat of that factory, he would sit on the porch with the little girl and open his lunch pail.  No matter how hungry he was during the day, he always saved her a bite of the chocolately dessert Nanny packed for him.

In the early evenings, the little girl and her grandfather went for walks to Martha’s Park where Grampy pointed out picnic shelters he helped build or to Webb’s field where they would sit as still as possible and watch the deer feed.  When they got home, Grampy would read on the porch while the little girl chased fireflies or bunnies in the yard with her sister.

Weekends were spent with Grampy- picking veggies out of the garden, playing in the playhouse he made for her and her little sister, shelling peas, and doing other chores that never felt like chores.

Nights were spent in front of the television, watching Lawrence Welk or Hee Haw while they played cards and ate dishes of chocolate ice-cream.  Triple scoops!  Sometimes they would watch the Three Stooges and laugh until tears streamed down their faces.  Nobody else appreciated Larry, Moe, and Curly the way Grampy did.

Fast forward a dozen years or so and the little girl is a married woman.  She’s standing in an airport with her grandparents before she flies back to California to reunite with her Air Force husband.  Her plane begins boarding and she begins hasty farewells because long good-byes lead to too many tears.  She hugs Nanny.  Then, she hugs Grampy.  He gives her an extra tight squeeze and says, “I love you.”  In over twenty years, he never said “I love you” to her.  She began to cry uncontrollably, not because she needed to hear him say that but because she didn’t.

She always knew she was loved… completely and unconditionally loved.  Grampy (Albert Martin Marcinko) instinctively knew how to BE LOVE.  And “being love” is the best kind of love there is.

FAST FORWARD TO THE PRESENT

Here she is.  The brown hair is turning gray and the brown eyes need glasses to read up close but she’s still the same tanned, barefoot little girl inside.  She knows how important it is to be authentic and how important it is to BE LOVE… everything else takes care of itself.

 

 

Embracing Hygge Before I Knew What It Was

Silly socks are cozy and are one way to let hygge into your life.
Silly socks are fun and cozy. I try not to take footwear too seriously.

 

Introduction to Hygge

As the rain fell this morning, I was savoring a cup of coffee and the latest issue of Bella Grace magazine when I came across the word “hygge” (pronounced hue-guh).  Reading through the articles, I got the impression that this term describes what I’m attracted to and what I aspire to in my daily life- coziness, comfort, intimacy, simplicity, joy, and presence.

I googled the term and found that it is a Danish word meaning “the art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel openhearted and alive; a coziness of the soul.” (LaWhimsy-WordNerd)

“A Coziness of the Soul”

Without knowing the word or its origin, I have embraced the feeling of hygge for years- in my home and garden, in my personal sense of style, and in how I try to relate to those I hold dear (all admitted works in progress).

My sanctuary is my backyard. Hygge is exemplified in everything I see; especially my hammock for two.
Comfort, relaxation, intimacy- all in the sanctuary of my cute and cozy backyard.

 

Hygge At Home

  • a hammock for two
  • a garden designed as a sanctuary- full of herbs, berries, flowers, birdhouses, and whimsical lawn art
  • lawn furniture on the deck for enjoying the sunset or watching fireflies sparkle in the nearby field
  • pillows
  • candles
  • soft throw blankets
  • soup in sturdy handcrafted mugs
  • zinnias- the more, the better!
  • inviting bed linens that make it hard to get up in the morning
  • open windows that let in the breeze or the sound of heavy rain
  • meditation area in a spare bedroom
  • my art studio… the ultimate sanctuary
  • lots of books in practically every room

Hygge In My Personal Style

  • Sensual fabrics that envelop me
  • Bath salts, essential oils, and scented lotions for a bit of pampering
  • A great selection of music for every occasion and mood
  • Yes, silly socks!

Hygge With Those I Love

  • Walks in nature
  • Free summertime concerts in the park
  • Casual cookouts or potlucks so no one is stuck in the kitchen
  • Picnics
  • Relaxing time in a coffee shop or diner
  • Browsing leisurely through a bookstore
  • Laughter… lots of it!
  • Just being together- comfortable in the silence

Alex Beauchamp wrote on her website, Hygge House, that “Hygge literally only requires a conscious appreciation, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present- but to recognize and enjoy the present.”  She goes on to say, “Some also refer to hygge as an ‘art of creating intimacy‘.”

May 2018 bring you all the coziness, intimacy, joy, laughter, and comfort that you desire.  Happy New Year!!

 

 

 

 

Appreciation for Life’s Little Joys

Art is one of Susan Korsnick's greatest Little Joys.
Creating art is one of my favorite Little Joys. It invites me to be present  and playful in body, mind, and soul.

 

EXPRESSING MY APPRECIATION FOR LITTLE JOYS

Several years ago, I became more aware of my appreciation for life’s Little Joys.  I actively sought them out.  I didn’t have to look far or put much effort into finding them.  They were, and are, around me every day.  These treasures come bundled in gratitude, reverence, nostalgia, and humor.  At times, I capture some in photographs and post them to Instagram and Facebook; at other times, I write a blog post like the one titled Little Joys Part 1 from April 2015.  More often than not, I just stop, allow my Self to be fully present, and imprint the moment on my heart and soul.  These memories later flow out of me and into my artwork.

Snowy Days are another of life's little joys.
Snowy days give me permission to slow down and savor each moment.

 

STOP AND SAVOR THE MOMENT

Some treasured experiences are so fleeting that all I can do is stop and savor the moment.  After a playful session in my art studio, I laugh at the rainbow of paint on my hands and most likely, somewhere on my clothing, too.  A single leaf flutters past on the crisp autumnal wind; I float with it.  Sunlight dances on a sycamore’s mottled bark; I let my eyes dance over it’s surface wishing my hands could touch it, too.  The snow falls with the distinct sound of silence; I let the silence wash over me and fill me.  As I dress, I pay attention to the feel of various fabrics against my skin- the practical warmth of wool, the snuggly comfort of polar fleece, the luxurious softness of velvet, or the heightened femininity of lace.  The strong, bold taste of coffee in a ceramic mug delights all my senses; the feel of the mug warms my hands as the coffee warms me inside.  Obviously, my list goes on and on with all the Little Joys that reveal themselves to me!

Coffee is a Little Joy
What’s better than fresh ground coffee in a sturdy ceramic mug?

MY MOST TREASURED MOMENTS ARE SMALL

While I love life’s big adventures, my greatest appreciation is for treasured moments that are “small”.  Julie Cameron writes in her bestseller Finding Water, “Life is made of small sweetnesses, and they come to us when we are willing to be little, instead of big.”  She goes on to say, “Sometimes, we must play the sleuth with ourselves, asking ourselves what makes us eager.  We must follow our noses and allow ourselves to pursue curiosities.”  I agree with Julia, that at times we may be out of touch with ourselves and need to ask, “What makes my heart sing?”  But for me, more often than not, I don’t have to analyze my Little Joys.  I need to step out of my own way and simply allow them to be.  They having a way of finding me!

Dogs are at the top of my list of Little Joys
Goofy dogs like Sophie and Freyja have to be on my list of Little Joys. Just look at those faces!

 

TO FIND LIFE’S LITTLE JOYS

When life is super-busy, it’s easy to miss the Little Joys.  I’m preoccupied with to-do lists, obligations, and errands.  I’m reflecting on the past and planning for the future (as every good teacher does).  It’s at these times that life gives me a reminder (sometimes a friendly reminder, sometimes a not-so-friendly kick in the pants!), saying, “Be still and notice what brings you joy.  Fill your life with more of that and savor each precious moment!  Take time to share your little joys with the special people in your life.”

Stillness connects me to Little Joys
Stillness is at once a Little Joy and the light that illuminates other Little Joys.  I’d delete the word “alone” if I created this now, for I’ve learned that Little Joys are best when shared with someone else.

 

What are your Little Joys?  I’d love to know.  

 

Awaken to Creative Possibilities

This week, I’m sharing how “saying yes” in my creative process awakens possibilities beyond the realm of intellectual decision-making.  Last week’s blog post “Saying Yes Leads to the Next Yes” explored how opening to possibilities in life as they speak to me on a soul level, can create space for profoundly wonderful things to happen.  The same is true with my artistic process.  Sometimes, I start with an idea or sketch which makes its way to the canvas or paper.  Other times, I like to sit in the stillness and wait.  Rather than put my idea on the surface, I want to see what will reveal itself to me.  Being receptive rather than being “in charge”.  Allowing rather than controlling.

Awakening to creative possibilities means saying yes as images appear.
The sketch for “Awakening” came when I allowed music to guide my process.

INSPIRATION THAT AWAKENED MY CREATIVITY

Several weeks ago, I decided to do something I had never done before.  This isn’t news.  I love trying new things!  Sounds of Spirit was performing nearby and I had the opportunity to attend.  I had never heard of them before but their website intrigued me so off I went with a sleeping bag, my journal, and a water bottle.  It was a spiritually moving and creatively inspiring experience.  The group uses a rich variety of instruments, nature sounds, and human voices to transport the listeners to a different place.  The outward experience of being in the space with them led to an inward journey for many of us in attendance.  I was so deeply moved that I bought their CD and listened to it over and over as I worked in my art studio.

 

Colorful washes both hide and reveal.
During the creative process, I have to allow each bold choice to guide me to the next choice.

 

ALLOW MYSELF TO BE A CHANNEL

On the day I created the sketch above, I turned up the volume on my CD player and let the music wash over me and through me.  I kept my eyes closed until imagery started to appear.  Then, I opened my eyes and simply transferred those images to the paper.  I felt like I was a channel not a creator at that point.  I said “Yes” to one image, which informed the next, which informed the next.   I allowed the process to happen freely without interference from my analytical mind or pesky inner critic.

I started with the 3 large repeated shapes in the background.  Then, the larger seated figure wanted to appear.  Then, little images around her began to tell their own story.  These figures informed the border and smaller symbols around the edges.  Each “yes” lead to the next “yes”.  The same thing happened when I chose my first color to wash over the larger areas.  Each choice naturally flowed into the next.

 

BEING BOLD MEANS BEING VULNERABLE

Who said being bold meant being confident or certain?  Not me!  Having the courage to be bold is also having the courage to be vulnerable and exposed.  Being bold doesn’t mean I’m always going to get it right in art or in life.  It means I have the courage to try.  There is a measure of risk  in creating art that is a genuine reflection of who I am and where I am on my journey.  There is even greater boldness and vulnerability in allowing others to see it.  For I’m aware that those who truly look at my art with open minds and hearts will have the ability to catch a brief glimpse inside the soul of the artist.

The finished piece by Susan Korsnick is an example of what happens when one is open to creative possibilities.
The finished mixed media piece titled Awakening is the result of saying yes to creative possibilities.

 

AWAKENING

After many hours in the studio and many layers of pencil, gouache, and ink, AWAKENING was complete.  I was awakened to the possibilities created by saying one “yes” after another.  I hope this piece awakens something in you, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Saying Yes Leads to the Next Yes

Transformation by Susan Korsnick
A flower blooms in it’s own time. Saying yes allows things to unfold naturally and in miraculous ways.

 

Saying Yes to the Next Right Thing

“When we aren’t sure what to do, saying ‘yes’ to the next right thing will lead to the next right thing after that.”  This is the nugget of wisdom I shared when the topic of change came up in a recent conversation.

Several days ago, I had the good fortune to spend time with some very interesting people.  As we chatted, we learned that the majority of us were in a period of change… major change… as in “New Chapter in Life” change.

An artist friend of mine shared that nugget of wisdom with me (and reminded me in the same moment of all the times in my life when this had worked) when I told her that I felt restless, like change was just over the horizon.  I couldn’t yet clearly identify it but I could sense it coming closer. I enjoy my job; I have meaningful relationships; my art is better than it’s ever been before; I love my cozy little house and yard; I’m healthy.  In fact, things are going really well.  I have an opportunity for professional growth.  There is a viable way for me to supplement my income by updating my skills at a nearby college.  There may be a new avenue for showcasing my artwork.  Each taking time, money, and commitment.  When I can’t possibly do it all, what should I do next?

That’s when she told me to “Say yes”.  Say ‘yes’ to what intuitively feels right.  Say ‘yes’ to what makes my heart sing.  Say ‘yes’ to what makes me feel more alive inside.  It’s this ‘yes’ that will inform the next ‘yes’ and the one after that.  It is the best advice I’ve ever had for finding one’s purpose and enjoying life along the way.

A True Story Where Saying Yes Made All the Difference

Close to 15 years ago, I had a similar restless feeling.  I lived in Virginia, taught school, had meaningful relationships, satisfying hobbies, and a charming circa-1918 home to call my own.  There were nature trails and the river nearby, perfect for dog walks.  I could sit on the dock and watch the moon’s reflection shimmering on the water.  One evening, I sighed deeply, recognizing a restlessness.  What did I want?  I wasn’t sure.  I just knew that I didn’t want “this” anymore.  I missed Pennsylvania and felt it calling me home.  Things were changing at work, relationships were not as satisfying in lots of ways, and Hurricane Isabel all but wiped out the forest where I loved to walk.  Doors were obviously closing.  But where was the next open door?  Hell, I’d take an open window!

Intuitively, I knew to say “yes” to what intrigued me and pulled at my heart.  I got certified to teach in Pennsylvania and put out over 40 applications to various school districts across the state.  A district made me a very generous offer, which I accepted (the next “yes”).     I put my house on the market and it sold within one hour!  Something larger than myself was at work here.  I knew I was on the right track.  Although, to be honest, the thought terrified me.  I was getting what I wished for!  The power of that is a might bit scary.  Things were falling into place so quickly.  I know from experience, that’s what happens when one starts to say “yes”.  The Universe responds.

Saying Yes Again

Once in Pennsylvania, I hired a realtor to find me a new home.  She began as the cold voice of reason but soon became the dark cloud of pessimism.  I’d have to settle for a house with old wiring or no air conditioning or no space for my dogs.  “You can’t afford the house you want”, she declared.  If she didn’t have faith or hope, she certainly couldn’t be of any help.  My instincts told me that I needed someone who believed in possibilities.  I said “yes” to the desire to hire a new realtor.

We met in her office where she showed me a website I could use to begin house-hunting.  When I found some I liked, she explained, I could contact her and she’d set up viewings.  Cross my heart, the first house she pulled up on the website made me gasp.  “That’s it.  I want to see that one!”, I declared.  She made the appointment and within a couple of hours I made an offer on the house I’m still living in- a cute rancher with modern wiring, air conditioning, a fenced yard for the dogs… and more than I ever imagined!  I didn’t know it would work out like that but that’s what happens when I say “yes”.

When I’m Not Sure

Sometimes saying yes rises confidently from me without involving heart or head.  It just is a clear and resounding “YES!!”.  At other times, it’s not so easy to hear.  I’m not so sure.  Some things I do to help when that happens…

  • Listen.  When I meditate or just sit in silence, I can more clearly hear that small soft voice inside.  “Yes” may be a loud exclamation of delight or a gentle coaxing whisper.
  • Be Still.  Stillness opens the space for possibilities.
  • Be present.  Set aside fear, doubt, and anticipated outcomes.  Stay in the moment.
  • Do what is possible then surrender the rest.  I could send out resumes.  I could get another realtor.  But then, I had to surrender and allow.

Restlessness

Julia Cameron, in her National Bestseller Walking in This World, writes “…restlessness is a good omen.  … Being alert to the possibility of change opens our ears and eyes to receive psychic signals more often and more quickly.  Irritated, restless, ready for change, we snap, ‘Goddammit!  What is it?’ when destiny knocks.  But destiny does knock, and it can be colorful and expansive if we will allow it to be.  When we are restless and our lives feel colorless, it is a clue and a cue that they are about to become colorful- if we cooperate.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here so I hope I don’t lose you, kind readers…  Julia goes on to say, “… it is my experience that when we are willing to be irrational and intuitive- even when we despise those words- we are rewarded by promptings, callings, that come to us from some mysterious and deft sources that guide and encourage us toward what might be called destiny.”

Did I lose you with talk of destiny?  I sincerely hope not!

Bottom line is that I know from experience that this is true and I must now take my own advice.  This website is a “yes” for me.  I hope that if you have stayed with me through this rather long blog post that you will continue to accompany me on this mysterious journey through my writing, my art, and/or upcoming workshops.  I look forward to traveling with you!  And I look forward to reading about your experience in the comments.  Namaste!