Recently, a friend asked me to choose one mandala that had the most significance to me. What a difficult choice to make! I’ve been painting mandalas for over 16 years now and have hundreds of them. Each one is like one of my children. I created them and artistic creation is like a birthing process of sorts. The inspiration comes from deep within and it is not always easy to bring that inspiration into physical form on paper or canvas. Each mandala I create contains/reveals a part of me and has a special meaning. Sometimes the birthing process is long and drawn out, like when I wrote my book, ‘Inner Landscapes’. From the creation of the mandalas in the book to the inspiration to pull them all together into a book to the writing of the book to the actual self-publishing of the book – it took a long and winding 12 years! Sometimes the birthing process is quick, where I feel an inspiration and within an hour I have painted the mandala. How do I possibly narrow them down and choose one as my favorite or most significant? Each one reflects me at a certain point in my personal growth. To choose one was going to take some serious contemplation!
After much thought and review, I chose my ‘Freedom’ mandala. I created this mandala in November of 2005. I was just beginning a huge transition at that time – I had stopped working to go out on permanent long-term disability. I was sick as a dog and physically & mentally exhausted beyond belief by that point. After catching up on some much needed sleep for about a week, I sat down and asked myself the question: “what does my relief for not having to work anymore look like?” After meditating on the question, I got out my paints and this beauty poured out of me. As I was painting, I felt this huge weight lift off my shoulders. It was like the sun had come out and I could see the light in everything. All the colors of this mandala are so vibrant and alive. I feel they represent how much healthier I could be when I’m 100% focused on managing my health.
In this mandala I see two gorgeous butterflies ready to lift off and take flight. There was a new freedom emerging. This mandala was pure emotion spilling out of me and a vision for my future. I was being given the gift of freedom to focus on my health and do what was necessary to create a healthier ME! That energized me. And it reflected the transformation that was underway in my life. Butterflies in mandalas represent transformation and an announcement of a dramatic shift to a new way of being. I was leaving my old job behind and was moving into my new job as the holistic manager of my health.
Today, it is nearly 7 years later and I still feel blessed to have that freedom to focus on my health. I’ve had some ups and downs in my health since that day back in November 2005. That is what life with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is all about – it is a chronic auto-immune disease that is relentless in the damage it does to my body. I’ve had three surgeries and three recoveries. I’ve had two really bad falls that took a long time to heal from. But each time I go through one of these health challenges, I come back stronger. I eat healthier and exercise more. I take better care of my body and have been able to eliminate or reduce the dosages of many of my medications. One day I would like to be free from the medications. Until that day comes, I like to visualize myself floating in flight, like a colorful butterfly.
What does freedom look or feel like to you? Are there things you would like to free yourself from? Freedom is a remarkable gift. Do what you can to create the freedom you long for in your life.