I was looking through hundreds of images for just the right one for this blog post and when I came to this one I nearly jumped out of my seat. I have just started doing my Wabi Sabi Woman podcasts (You can click on the player on the upper right side of this page to hear them or click on Wabi Sabi Woman to go to the page at Audioboom to hear over 100 of my podcasts.) again after a 3 year absence. The name of the podcasts comes from what The Utne Reader called me in a special edition they did on wabi sabi back in 2001. They used the picture from my website of me smiling my lopsided smile with my grey parrot on my shoulder. The caption was Henry saying, “Mama, don’t put your lopsided self on this website.” The magazine sent a photographer out to my house to do a photo shoot. In the end they decided they loved the picture from my website and used it. Now my lopsided self was in a national magazine and there was no getting around it. I was Wabi Sabi Woman for sure. Wabi Sabi is the Japanese aesthetic of the imperfect-perfect and I was paralyzed on one side of my face from Bell’s Palsy. I got Bell’s in 1995 but have never fully recovered to this day. I looked at the image above this evening and saw a woman with the left side of her face in shadow. Like mine, it’s the left side that is paralyzed, wabi sabi. It was the perfect image to represent my wabi sabi world.
In addition to the podcasts I am shaping a body of work to come together, all of a piece, that explores wabi sabi and how we might come to a kind compassion for ourselves and our lives using writing and art. My 100 Ladies will figure into the project as part of my Wabi Sabi Writing course, I will be doing videos, there will be a community for Wabi Sabi Women to come together for support. I am dreaming it all into being now. I am scared, I am excited, I am a bit numb, and I am just putting one foot in front of the other as I find my way. Baby steps gets the job done.
Since the fire when I lost not only my physical belongings, I lost my work as well, and my income dwindled to nothing. I have been struggling and trying to find my way these three years. I have been so afraid I have been frozen, but a couple of days ago I had an aha! moment. I have focused so much for so long on the need to make income and the fear of being without it, scrambling in my mind for anything at all that might be the thing that I could do since I am not able to work outside the home, that I wasn’t asking myself just what it was I wanted to do. What would I love? What would I be good at? What would I be passionate about, passionate enough to get me through the beginnings of getting a business going when things are unsure and it takes awhile to get it going, passionate enough that I would stay with it under all circumstances even when bad bipolar days come and knock me off my feet and I have to take a little time off, passionate enough that I would not let my bipolar brain that can spin out of control and go through one hundred different scenarios in a day about what I would rather, or should be doing, take me off course? It had to be something that I had a deep affinity for, something that I had a deep connection to, something that I believed in so much, that I had such a deep desire to do that I would find my home in it, for the rest of my working life, and then it came to me. It was wabi sabi. I would teach my students, using writing and art, to accept and love their imperfect-perfect lives, and in the process I would heal mine. We teach what we need to learn, and I am passionate about teaching, but how to begin, what course should I take, how can I do this?
Margaret Drabble said, “When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” How can I do this? You just begin.
In her book Wabi Sabi – Timeless Wisdom For A Stress Free Life, Agneta Nyholm Winqvist wrote, “Devotion: Open your heart, dare to enter the deep, no matter what happens.” And so I must dare. I know wabi sabi, I care deeply about my students, I need to make an income but I want to be of service, if I focus on the work itself, on that deep desire, I can find my way. The haiku master Issa wrote, “O Snail/Climb Mount Fuji/but slowly, slowly.” I can’t climb this mountain quickly, I can’t build this wabi sabi world overnight, but I can begin to build the foundation, one stone at a time. I will begin.