Michelle Gardiner is a creative an passionate woman who I have had the pleasure of working with for the past 2 years. It has been an honour to watch her grow and blossom in this time, and an honour to be the host of her first guest blog post. Watch this space, Michelle is only just beginning.
Michelle, tell us you inspiration for being a guest blogger for Amanda Scott Art Therapy?
I participated in Amanda’s five week creative journalling course in September 2013. At this time, my curiousity got the better of me and after many years of writing, I had stopped. I felt like I entered a sanctuary every week when I attended the course, where I could sort through some of the inner workings of my mind. I loved the patience and calmness not only of Amanda, but also the love and support of the group. This picture is one of my favourites that I made during my course. To me, it looks perfect- loving hands holding the gift of the colourful confetti, yet bringing together all the messy parts of self with it from the outside painting.
My own blog, Shy Girl Unleashed, has been an idea in my mind for twelve months. It took me breaking my arm and not being able to dance to commit to my first post. My philosophy is about the importance of embracing who you are and becoming ok with using that to build resilience and connect with others, in whatever way you choose. My guest post for Amanda is a little gesture of gratitude for all that she has done for me over the last two years that I have known her- for her listening ears and never ending encouragement. Sitting in her studio and being able to play with paint without judgement has greatly expanded my journalling journey and I am humbled to write for her.
Michelle on presence
It’s a new year and there’s nothing like a new year to bring up a wave of emotions as I reflect on who I am and the life I lead. At this time, I find myself thinking about what matters to me, who I want to play an important role in my life and whether the things that were important last year are still relevant for me. At the beginning of 2014 I set out with a one word “theme” for the year. My word was “abundance”, and going into 2015 I have decided on the word “presence”. With my decision to focus on the word “presence” this year, a large part of my reflection has revolved around working out what that term actually means for me, and how it relates to “abundance”. My perception of the word “abundance” is light and free to me, while the word presence feels grounding. I have wondered if one term can truly exist without the other.
In 2014 I set out to do some amazing things, and I achieved most of them. My struggle came where I over thought and became overwhelmed and anxious in anticipation of what may happen if I didn’t achieve what I wanted for myself and my life. I made simple things seem much more complicated than they needed to be. I became caught up in external comparison and judgement. While I achieved my goals, I wondered if the mental stuff that I had floating in my mind was compromising the feeling of abundance that I was searching for. In effect, what I have more recently realised is that true abundance begins internally and then portrays itself in our external world. It is the realisation and ability to sit with our internal abundance, which makes this present in our external world. I have come to realise that abundance IS presence… and the two combined are a formidable force.
Presence for me is feeling grounded and humble in my body, mind and spirit. It is feeling confident in who I am, accepting and appreciating all parts of my being without judgement. It is being focussed and trusting that my path is individual and right for me. It is appreciating what and who is in front of me, just as they are. It is being ok without being over-stimulated and “busy” in every moment. It is truly valuing my wellbeing and intuition as a key source of my strength and worthy of my commitment. It is an acknowledgement that the quiet moments are my opportunity to consolidate the growth and learning’s that occur during the busy and noisy times.
I love dancing. I love the connection of my whole being. I love the social connection and the amazing, beautiful and diverse community that I have found myself a part of through it. I love hearing the music. I love that my body is becoming stronger and more defined. I love the personal challenge and opportunity to express myself. Over recent months I have received some recurring feedback in my dancing. I have been told to “be present, enjoy the dance, let the guy lead and trust that your body knows what to do…. then you can focus on smiling and bringing your playful, light energy to the dance”. My feedback has been to be grounded in the present, to trust the process and remember my greater purpose. By trying to get each move just right, I have been suffocating my spirit and taking from both my partners and my own enjoyment. The way to bring out the best of the moment is to embrace who I am and use this strength in creating the dance.
And so I have applied this learning to my life. There are lessons in each moment and by existing anywhere other than the present, we may just miss what we are here for. Mary Anne Williamson quotes “if we miss the moment, we miss the clues. In the present when we allow ourselves to fully live there, we are restored, made wiser, made deeper and happier”. I, like many, have a tendency to want to either live in the past, the future or through other people’s expectations. I have recently found that I can remain focussed and grounded by viewing each moment as a snap shot of my personal bigger picture.
I have become clearer about my responses to some big life questions. What do I want for my life? How is this moment relevant to my life? How is what I am doing this very second contributing to who I am becoming as a person and the life I aspire to live? Am I making this moment matter? How? In asking these questions to myself I have found it easier to focus in each moment, to build greater structure and routines in my life and appreciate that each moment exists in my greater picture in some way.
I am happier in the here and now, knowing that I am improving each day and that this is enough. Because I am committed to myself expansion, I am creating abundance in my life. In grounding myself with focus and structure within that vision, and free of judgement, I can be present.
Thank you Michelle for your heart felt writing. I am eager to read more of your blog as it grows and unfolds! You can read more from Michelle here https://shygirlunleashed.wordpress.com/