I Once Knew a Girl who Gave Up Thinking…

Metamorphosis

The mind is a complete idiot. – Dr. David R. Hawkins M.D., PhD.

I have a young friend who never ceases to amaze me. When Andrea and I first met, I took her soft-spokeness as mousy. Inside and out, she seemed pretty ordinary. It didn’t take long for me to realize behind her quiet demeanor, was a girl of fire and determination.

When Lent rolled around a few years back, Andrea’s priest told the congregation it wasn’t always necessary to give something up as a sacrifice. When preparing for Easter, he suggested that instead of depravation, Lent could be observed by taking on a practice that would be a blessing to the observer. Gathering with a group to study scripture or meditating each morning could also be a way to revere this high, holy time. And that’s when it hit Andrea, she would give up thinking for Lent.

When she first told me her idea I laughed. Give up thinking for Lent? How could that be possible? Don’t we need our thoughts to help move us through life? No, what Andrea was talking about was obsessive thinking. You know, the kind of thinking that gives you no rest. The kind of thinking that analyzes and tries to control every aspect of your life.

The last seven years had been rough for her. Pregnant at 17, she married her son’s father only to divorce him two years later because of a mental illness and drug abuse. After that, Andrea felt she had no choice but to move back home to her parents’ with their son Adrian. Living with a critical and condescending mother was less than ideal, but she needed help with her little boy. She saw no other way to keep her full-time job while working on a college degree.

Fear loomed large in Andrea’s life. She felt stuck and wondered if she would ever be able to give Adrian the life he deserved. Her ex-husband’s instability constantly disappointed them. Recently, he had checked himself into rehab, yet again, but she didn’t have much hope for a positive outcome. The gears in her brain turned around the clock with “what ifs.”

It was during this time the brilliant idea to give up thinking for Lent came to Andrea. She quickly learned she had to pay constant attention to her thoughts if she were going to be successful. In particular, her drive to work always signaled the wheels of her obsession to begin rolling. An hour later, when she pulled into the parking lot, she couldn’t even remember the route she took, her mind was so consumed. To unhook she began practicing being present by noticing her surroundings.

Andrea quickly discovered there was so much beauty in her daily drive she had never been aware of. It was spring. The flowers were blooming and everything was fresh and new. And the birds! She had never noticed the riot of their chirping. She began seeing hawks everywhere. She couldn’t believe she’d been so locked inside her mind that their majesty had gone unnoticed.

The more Andrea let go by staying in the now, the more she saw that everything she was fixated on resolved itself on its own. Maybe by relaxing her grip she was actually allowing God to work things out more quickly.

All will be revealed – not all will be figured out.– Mary Karr

I too have been held hostage by my brain. As of late, not knowing where my career as an author/illustrator is going has been weighing heavy on my mind. The publishing industry was turned upside down by the 2008 financial collapse and left me on the outside looking in. With the invention of electronic readers, the industry is now reworking itself in a way that makes sense with today’s technology. That means it’s harder than ever to get an editor to even glance at a submission. What to do? What to do? Should I continue to search for an agent, publisher or self-publish?

Lucky for me Lent is here and reminded me of Andrea and her bright idea. I took a cue from her and consciously gave up my need to analyze and force a solution. The moment I surrendered my thinking, peace washed over me and was immediately followed by the ding of an an email in my inbox. It was a note from a film company that wants to make a short documentary about my art. How cool is that? And with my mind out of the way, who knows what other miracles wil manifest in my life. That Andrea is a genius.

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Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved. www.sueshanahan.com

Sunrise Faith

Sue ShanahanWhenever I have to begin a new illustration, I’m always afraid to start.  I hem and I haw and I haw and I hem. Why? Because there is no earthly reason that I’m capable of bringing forth that kind of beauty.  In my mind, the images are always vague.  I want them to be in perfect focus before I get going.  But it doesn’t work that way. Until I learned the meaning of the phrase Sunrise Faith, I could stay paralyzed for weeks.  It never occurred to me that the same power that calls the sun to rise, lives in me too.  The magic begins when I put my pencil to paper.  That act of trust opens the floodgate for Spirit to flow through and express itself.  As it turns out, I don’t need to know exactly what the end result of my painting will look like. God will fill in the details.

Sunrise Faith is a concept for anyone who has something they want to accomplish.  Divinity plants the seeds of our aspirations in our hearts and grace brings them to fruition.  From creating a masterpiece, to finding the perfect job or house, it’s a benevolent, loving wave we ride.  If you’re trying to figure out exactly where the current is taking you, you’re  resisting the flow.  And that is exactly when we begin to sink.  All we need to get started is to simply begin.  We will be given the next step to take as the process unfolds.

Twenty years ago a dream was planted in my heart.  I wanted to create a picture book.  Over time, it was put on the back burner as “real life” took over. Finally, finally my longing is being realized.  My story Glory in the Morning is finished and is now in the hands of app company extraordinare, Auryn.  They are in the process of transforming my work into a picture book app for tablets and e-readers.  But my dream won’t be in full bloom until there also is a traditional picture book in children’s hands.  I’m not sure how that is going to come about, but I wait in joyful anticipation for it to be revealed.

Being confident that God, who began a good work in you, will carry it to completion.  -Philippians 1:6

What dreams are you and Source bringing to fruition?

Spread the word!  Be one of the first 5 people to leave a reply and I will send you a signed print of Sunrise Faith.  Follow my blog.  Each new post will include the chance to win a free print.

Sue Shanahan

In photoshop I made a book cover for Glory in the Morning and placed it on a picture book. I believe visualization is the beginning of realizing a dream.

Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.

http://www.sueshanahan.com