Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Creating Space

Back in January I wrote about my 12-18 Months of Artful Intentions, describing how I created three pages of dreams and desires neatly categorized and committed to paper to see me though the coming year and a half. This past week I went back through that list and crossed off nearly half of the items. I’d either done them (a small number) or was no longer interested in doing them (the greater number).

As I went through with my pen and lined out one thing after another, it occurred to me that maybe I was cheating by summarily dumping all these items I was so sure belonged on my list back in January. Was it okay to just give up wanting this or that? Suddenly I wasn’t so sure.

So I set up a test.

For each item I asked myself how I would feel if I knew my life was ending and I hadn’t done this one thing. And for about half the items, the gut-check answer was, “I’d feel just fine not having done that.” Those things got crossed out.

For the other half, I got that tingle in my gut that told me this is important. Those things could stay. And for one thing in particular I actually felt heartsick imagining that this one thing had gone undone. That thing had to be addressed NOW.

I suppose it was a good lesson for me to realize that even when I think I’m being very clear with myself, I can still get tripped up. I can still work up a desire for things – experiences and accomplishments -- that I don’t really, really want. And I can spend a lot of time pursuing those things while the real stuff sits off in the corner, waiting for me to get a clue.

Anyway, after I reviewed my list, I went out to my garage/studio (another work in progress) and cleared off a small pine desk I’d stored out there since closing my gallery last year. I carried it into the house and hauled it up the narrow stairs to my (very small, kind of crowded) bedroom. I was determined to find a spot for that desk. For years my place to write has been in a comfy old chair in the corner of the room. It's a fine chair for reading, but as a writing space it's never been adequate. So I shoved my bed over and moved the dresser and cleared a space behind the bedroom door, and I gave myself what I really, really wanted: a place to write.

Once I got things set up, I remembered a stack of notes I’d kept from a Big Writing Project I’d begun awhile back but set aside when it became overwhelming and I didn’t have the space to spread it out without having to pick it all up again when it was time to make dinner and we needed the table. I dug out those notes and brought them upstairs and picked up where I left off, all the while knocking myself for not doing it all much sooner.

Well, I know why I didn’t do it sooner, and I know why all that other junk was cluttering up my list: following a heart’s desire is very scary stuff. It’s so much easier and so much less risky to spend your hours doing things that don’t really matter, to pursue lesser goals, to do the work that others think is important.

When I clear space in my thinking -- and in my physical environment -- and then hold that space open for my own real and true desires, my heart recognizes the opportunity, and slips right in. And the next thing I know, I’m elbow deep in paper and notes and yes, I'm scared, but I'm also full of gratitude. My heart says thank you, thank you.

Somehow I keep learning this lesson, over and over.


  1. That looks like a perfect writing space! This ~ "... following a heart’s desire is very scary stuff. It’s so much easier and so much less risky to spend your hours doing things that don’t really matter, to pursue lesser goals"... smacks of truth...
    I hear ya.

  2. I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for taking the time to share your journey and how you go about following your heart's desires. You have given me some good ideas for addressing previously unacknowledged fear. ;)

  3. Hi there!
    I'm so excited right now because I just googled evansville and unschooling and came across your blog! We are unschooling with our almost 11 year old daughter and 7 year old son. We've lived in Evansville for about 10 months and are really jonesing for other like-minded folks. I love your blog! My husband and I have been reading it for a while tonight and we're psyched. It seems like we ought to meet! If you're interested, you can contact me at'm also on facebook. My name is Meadow Linden. Happy learning!

  4. Hi there from far away New Zealand. What brought me here was a link from Dave Pollard's How to Save the World (
    I can relate very well to the importance of following your gut. If only I didn't tense up and become tongue-tied!

  5. WOW! Peggy, this is SO beautiful! It is causing me to think and to be inspired. Who knew a search for photos for a project and a friend for my daughter would lead me to a new favorite blog! And your art - OMG! I am in love!

    I can't wait to meet you an a few weeks.



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