The Cook Awakening


July 14, 2013
Posted in: Integrating Lifestyle Changes, Life on Life's Terms, Seasonal Change

Haven’t written much in the past year. Not much at all.

Sometimes things have to die so that they can come back to life in a true way.

Starting from a young age I wanted to be an actress. I loved being on stage. My first real acting classes, I realized later, were my first formal spiritual training. The reality that I could take on different states of mind and emotions at will showed me I was not the personality that I knew as “me”. If that wasn’t “me”, what was?

I explored more as I became an adult. I became fascinated with creativity of many types – writing and film making, primarily. I was cooking for a living, until I could become “an artist”.

In my early thirties I shared the idea that I was waiting to “become an artist” with a group of teachers on a meditation retreat. One of the teachers said, “But, Durga, you ARE an artist. There’s no becoming. It doesn’t matter if you’re not making money at it. Being an artist is a way of being in the world. It’s a view.”

I’m still grateful to him. That statement helped me relax about “what I was going to be when I grew up.” At 32, it was happening. It had been happening all along, right under my nose. In this very body and psyche.

And now, in my fifties, that piece of understanding is still working in me. I’m a “business owner.” I’m a “counselor.” Am I still a writer if I’ve only written recipes for the last year? Am I still an artist?

One of my teachers talks about different experiences of freedom. Most of us think of freedom as “freedom from” – from work, from responsibilities, from restrictions. What if we thought about freedom as “freedom to”? Freedom to create, freedom to express, freedom to care for ourselves and others, freedom to be honest with ourselves and others. Freedom to be authentic.

Can you sense the difference in how that feels? It’s moving toward something rather than away.

When my husband and I first connected, the energy in our “in-love-ness” was intense. I began creating art. I didn’t care that I had no training to speak of in this area, I was riding a wave of expansiveness and everything felt possible. There was nothing in my mind telling me to stop, so I went wild with mixing markers, oil pastels, gouache, and watercolors. It was magic. I never knew what was going to happen until it happened on the paper, and I was constantly surprised. I realize now – that was freedom.

For very different reasons now I find myself in a similar state, creating more art. It’s been a long, rough year. Much good has come of it—I don’t want to paint it all as negative, but I have been put through my paces in extremis. Truth is, I’m grateful to be alive. Maybe this is being in love with life, and that’s the similarity with that time when my husband and I were first together.

Springtime is my favorite season in Portland. This year I’ve been taking photos, mostly of flowers. Close up. Macro view. “I’m not a photographer,” part of me says. But, I love taking and sharing photos.

I’ve been craving art supplies. Like I crave chocolate. I started by buying a set of woodless colored pencils while picking something up for my youngest. I just loved the vibrancy of the color all through the pencils.

Then, I made my way to a local art supply store to replace the oil pastels that had been scattered far and wide by little hands in our home. I bought the BEST brand after trying them out – they’re like butter, the color spreads easily and densely on the paper with hardly any pressure. It was a sensual experience, trying out those pastels. I got a basic set of 12, and 4 individual sticks – gold, bronze, silver and transparent medium for blending.

I dug out my water-based brush and fine tipped markers. I’ve given away so many over the years to various children, but I still have a couple fistfuls. They’re jewel tones and grays primarily.

Here’s my first-ever landscape, using just the markers.

Lake Winnipesaukee Sunset View

Lake Winnipesaukee Sunset View

Then I made a gift for a friend’s birthday – I layered markers and colored pencils under the oil pastels, then used a sharp edged implement to scrape away the pastels to reveal the flat color beneath. Here it is.



A few months ago, my husband and I had a recommitment ceremony. As a part of the ceremony we created an enactment of the high (and low) points of our relationship, start to finish. Then we offered a Bardic, an opportunity for anyone who wants to perform to make an offering – prepared or extemporaneous. We’ve attended many of these in California, and hosted them a few times in our home here in Portland as a follow up to other events we’ve created. I love them so much, I want to offer them as stand-alone events, themed like the potlucks, but with the focus on performing –music; dance; poems, original or quoted. I’ve been craving the rush of performing, creations from the heart for the sheer joy of connection through expression.

As I engage with these forms of art part of me feels a twinge of… guilt? Shame? They aren’t directly related to my work in the world. They’re just… fun. Rich. Sweet. Connecting. And another part of me knows they are like self-care. Oh, wait, that is my work in the world.

What are you doing these days that just tickles your funny bone? That serves no purpose other than the fact that you like it. Or, better yet, LOVE it.

When you dance, are you thinking of it as exercise? Or are you feeding your soul?

Are you even dancing? Or, are you going to the gym and hating every minute of it? How can that be of benefit?

What do you fill your spare time with? Television? Facebook? Does it feed you or numb you?

I’m on vacation at Lake Winnipesaukee as I write this. Sleeping in on the screened porch, experimenting with chocolate cake recipes, swimming in the lake, and hanging out on the best placed hammock in the world.

View from the hammock

View from a hammock

And I’m reading the first novel I’ve read in years. It’s the 7th Harry Potter. I never finished the series.

I have to get back to it… Harry has just sent Kreacher, the house elf, out to find Regulus’s locket. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 14th, 2013 at 3:28 am and is filed under Integrating Lifestyle Changes, Life on Life's Terms, Seasonal Change. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


7 Responses to “Freedom”

  1. Lasara Firefox Allen Says:

    I love the questions you are asking. I am asking them too. (Inside.)

    Love walking the walk with you, lady!

  2. Durga Fuller Says:

    <3 <3 <3

  3. Marylyn Motherbear Scott Says:

    Great reading this, Durga. I feel so intimately involved with your story. I’m a somewhat self-critical “artist” (the kind that paints and draws, etc.). Still, I’m sometimes driven to do it. Often Sophia (granddaughter of seven and a half years) and I do art together, and how I love that. In the end, I think, “My painting’s not so bad! And I loved doing it.” I tell Sophia I like her painting better than mine. She tells me she thinks mine is better. So I take hers home and she keeps mine. So sweet.

    Bardic, now, that’s another story. I have no such self-criticism offering up at Bardic, and I love the diversity of offerings. I do wish I could be present at your events, bardic and otherwise.

    Love you, dear goddess, Motherbear

  4. Kathy Schwab Says:

    Thank you Durga for this insightful post. You absolutely ARE an artist: in your way with words, your images, your recipes, your relationsips, your inclusiveness and in your spiritual development and teachings. The most powerful gift I received from this post was in your contrast of “freedom from” and “freedom to.” What a huge energetic shift. Thank you!!!

  5. Durga Fuller Says:

    Thank you, both of you, for this reflection. M’bear, I wish you were closer, too, would that you could be here for every group and event we hold – your contribution is missed. And you live in our heart.

    Kathy, freedom to has been a great revelation for me. Moving from contraction to expansion with the change of a thought. And, knowing that’s all it takes.

  6. Ashara Says:

    I am shedding have to’s in favor of want to’s. While changing my longterm food habits into nourishment goals. It is a strange swipswap. But so worthwhile. People do tend to look at me funny these days… oh wait! That was always as it ever was… 😉

  7. Durga Fuller Says:

    And if anyone can do that, you can, m’dear! <3

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