“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


sitting with myself and this nothing-to-sayness.

I type a few words and stop, elbows on the desk, hands folded as if in prayer, and stare at this screen. I'm not thinking anything, I am blank. It is a meditation - if I tried to still my mind, legs crossed, candle burning, I would be unable. I let the sounds go by, Lily-cat's soft snores, the hum of the computer, the clickclacks of keystrokes when I do find some words, and I am suddenly aware that the space bar makes a different sound, a more decisive sound, harder - the letters are soft, cushy clicks. The space bar is a definite clack. I apparently bring a little zen to this place.

We try so hard, don't we? Us women? To be happy, to be joyful? We pay money to other women who promise to teach us how to get there; we paint the words joy, hope, peace on canvas and paper and pray that the words themselves will be talismans, will move us into those feelings. We light those candles. The truth is that the words are just words, the truth is that joy lies in the brushstrokes, the word matters not. I'd forgotten that until I picked up a brush again, until I began once again to gesso and the world fell away. I'd forgotten that it is up to me.

We try too hard. We do, we do. Are we so unhappy, so bereft of joy that it must become a to-do on our daily list? Breakfast - check. Shower -check. 10 minutes of joy - check. And then onto the rest of the day. We try too hard. Joy doesn't live in that place of trying too hard. I am not a life coach, not a psychologist, there is no diploma attached to the wall proclaiming me as such. But this I know to be true - joy lives in the not trying so hard, joy lives in the dessert you reach for first, it lives in the peaceful turning of the pages of a book you cherished from childhood, it lives in that place you go to when you read those pages. It lives in those unexpected places you go when you aren't thinking too hard, places off the map, places with no names. It doesn't live in the places you have purposely called Joy or Happy or Peaceful or Dancing, even if you have drawn the route with a sparkly red pen, even if you plan on dancing wildly once you get there, even if. If you need a map to get there, it ain't joy. Get lost.

I painted this weekend,
and for the first time in years,
perhaps the first time ever,
I painted with joy.
I stopped thinking
in that not-thinking place lay joy,
lighting my way like a burning bush.


  1. Oh my goodness... Your words. Such truth Debi. We do try too hard. It's all about picking up the brush (or what ever it is that brings you creative joy).

    I am finally at peace.


  2. Caroline - I am so glad to know this. Bless you & take care. xoxo

  3. If you're at a loss for beautiful words, you could have fooled me! You do the "write without thinking too hard" better than anyone I know. I find my joy in solitude, quiet, nature. There is no rushing, no list of have-to-do's, in the circle of that magical world. When I am alone with the sound of silence.

  4. Brenda - We may be kindred spirits in this. There is nothing that brings me joy like silence and space to do nothing.

    :) Debi

  5. i love this with all my heart.

    i am in need of getting lost and finding that not-thinking-place.

    i've been counting butterflies and gazing at clouds. it's a start.

    you are my favorite guru. :)

    xoxo love!


  6. i am working my way to that place, slowly but surely. for me, it is the words. that is my place. i don't know why it took me 47 years to figure that out.

    i can't wait to see what you've been painting. i can't wait to see your joy.

  7. oh we do try hard....really hard.

    is it just a woman thing ? or are women the only ones strong enough to talk about it and acknowledge it ?

    and that joy and aliveness you speak of while painting...i know that feeling.

    we're the lucky ones you know.....

  8. yes, beautifully expressed, it's so easy when we stop trying.
    Glad you worked the bugs out.

  9. Thank goodness for little pleasures - like brewing a fresh cup of coffee in the morning or discovering a new song that touches the heart and makes the feet move, or rereading a favourite book that makes you wish the characters were living, breathing friends. Sometimes, though, when I hit that blank wall or a sadness settles in, I do need to go out and look for inspiration or joy.

    Now, I would like to see your painting, please. That's what I've been up to this month, too. Encaustic painting. It's been a joy to play with brushes, paint, wax, irons, tools for etching...all while listening to Corinne Bailey Rae or The Dave Matthews Band.

  10. Susanna - Can't show the painting until 9/23 - it is the giveaway painting in the Just Sit There and Look Pretty giveaway. :) Plus, not quite done.

    :) Debi

  11. I just sat in a lecture for three hours - one of the things my teacher, my new guru, taught was that we must let our right brain overpower our left for in that we will find our art. Getting bogged down in the technicals in the product crushes us. As your tears earlier today proved.
    Thank you Debi, this was a perfect post to go to bed with tonight -- oh that sounded bad, but you know what I mean!

  12. Thank you - I needed to read this :)

    the Queen of Nostalgia

  13. seems to be the season for paint . joy can be elusive especially if you try too hard!

    i adore the not thinking place

  14. Oh you have said something here I've been churning over for months, and you said it with such kindness and poetry.

  15. Wow! So true! Looks like a great film too.

  16. Oh my ... I so needed to read this, especially today... and yesterday and the day before. Thank you - and I'm so glad you've found your joy again in painting.

  17. Amen to that and hallelujah for you picking up the paintbrush again! It's been too long!
    It has much more to do with surrendering, I think.

  18. Oh my!!! Goosebumps!!!!
    As soon as I clicked on that link, I got goosebumps.
    I LOVE that movie. One of my all time favourites.
    Isn't it wonderful!!!!?!?!
    I wish I could have a little bit of that girl inside of me.
    And I wish to have that amazing painting wrap itself around my bedroom walls.
    Oh, I want to watch that tonight. I can see the cover box from where I am sitting here. IT will indeed give me a wisp of joy...that and some dessert. xo

    So glad you are painting again! And with joy. sigh.

    Speaking of joy, they are doing renovations upstairs, and as I type I can hear a man whistling away up there...a very happy song. He loves his work.
    Joy really does find itself in the simplest places, when we aren't trying so hard.

  19. Oh, Debi, this is wondrous and beautiful and so deeply, deeply true. And yet it is so difficult at the same time--and it would seem that nothing could be easier than just *being* and letting the joy come naturally. I am so glad you found it in your painting. =)


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