Effort is Offering

I had never heard this phrase until I read it on DarklyFey's blog Live from the Red Leather Couch. Her mantra 'Effort is Offering' struck a chord with me, and sums up beautifully a lesson which I think we would all benefit from.

At times, I can be the biggest procrastinator. I will wait for the 'perfect' circumstances to happen in order for me to do something. The thing that I, and we, have to realise, that there is never a 'perfect' time. One example I'll give is my altar. I've only had an altar since last Samhain, despite years of being a pagan. I resisted making one simply because, in my eyes, I didn't have the perfect, elaborate altar pieces. I thought I needed expensive ritual items, a plethora of candles and incence, and fancy statuettes. After a time of spiritual famine, I decided that I needed a physical embodiment of my path to act as a reminder of what is spiritually important to me. When this thought took form, I had to immediately act upon it before I thank it to death! So, by using whatever was available in my room at that time, I made my altar. I achieved it in ten minutes, after years of procrastination.

A spare candle, an old box, my crystals, a chinese takeaway calander tiger picture, a magpie feather, a photo of a fox I took, a starfish, a shell, a small metal pendant of an angel (which reads 'strength' on the back), some Goddess cards, and two pebbles from the beach. It's nothing special, but is a lot more personal and true to me than if I had forked out a fortune at the local New Age shop. This impromptu assemblage of items was the product of a sincere act of offering, gratitude, and hope of opening a dialogue with the God*dess. And in the end, I think the Lord and Lady would appreciate the effort more.

Now, in the process of blog-hopping, I came across an initiative called Creative Every Day 2009. This is a wonderful idea. I graduated from art college in June '08, and since then, I have not made any art. Any. And for someone like me, who has always done art, always been considered 'the arty one', and who always found comfort and inspiration in the making of art, it hurts. My institutionalised, judgemental experience has sucked the creativity right out of me. I'm afraid of making art now, because either myself or others expect too much of my abilities, fear of failure freezing me. Yet, the (re?)discovery of 'effort as offering' and this initiative has given me the nudge I need to show myself a bit of compassion, and just let me make. Not to judge, conceptualise, explain, or justify - but to make.

The effort of making my altar, and of now joining this initiative, is my offering. My altar is an offering to the Lord and Lady, to the wonder of life, my 'outer' offering. The Creative Every Day 2009 initiative is an offering to my inner God*dess, giving it voice, and feeding the divine link between myself and the web of life, my 'inner' offering. Here are my first attempts. I decorated my new sketchbook for CED'09 on Saturday, and yesterday I made my own 'creative space, where I have my art equipment, books and my own photo's displayed for inspiration. I'll be posting my efforts every Sunday from now on, to share with you all (lucky you ;P).

DarklyFey's mantra as given me the courage to realise that, like most things in life, process is more important than product. I hope, that by reiterating the mantra, that others out there will be touched by it, and realise that whatever they have, or are willing to do, is more than enough, if given in the spirit of trust.


Edain: 20 January 2009 at 10:39  

Good post and inspiring! :)

Haley @ Iridescent Dark 20 January 2009 at 13:51  

Thankyou Edain, your comment is much appreciated =)

DarklyFey 21 January 2009 at 09:39  

It's kind of amazing to me what happens when we strip our expectations down to the bare minimum "effort". When I tell myself I will make the effort to do something, I feel less pressure to create perfectly. When I invest in the process instead of the product, it doesn't matter what I end up with. It matters that I did it.

I love your altar!

Haley @ Iridescent Dark 21 January 2009 at 10:16  

Spot on Darkly =). Hope you don't mind me stealing your mantra though - it's just to good to let pass by!

Lol, thanks about the altar. It has certainly got a homemade 'quirky' charm! I love looking at people's altars for the same reason I love looking through peoples art sketchbooks - they're genuine and very revealing. I'm just nosey really!

cymraes 23 January 2009 at 03:07  

Beautiful altar Haley, the best ones are often made with simple natural objects. :-D

What a wonderful idea Darkly Fey has shared. (I'll be taking a looksee at DF's blog in a min) Thank you both!

I love the phrase "process is more important than product" and will be carrying this around in my head as a mantra today. :-)

Haley @ Iridescent Dark 23 January 2009 at 13:34  

Thanks for the altar comment!

Glad you'll be going over to her blog, it's one of my favourites here on the blogosphere!

I'm loving this mantra chain that's going on here! Maybe this is leading to something . . . =D.

I see you're from the wonderful land of Wales! Awesome x

Jan 3 February 2009 at 15:06  

You are wonderfully wise, Hailey. I love that you finally made your altar. I think every woman should have an altar that celebrates her understanding of the Sacred. I was thinking of taking a pic of mine and doing a post on it someday. We'll see. May the Muse sing in your heart.

Haley @ Iridescent Dark 4 February 2009 at 15:04  

Thankyou for your kindness Jan =). I would love to see a post on one of your pics. And I agree, everyone should have an altar, regardless of how humble! x

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I am a pagan, special needs teaching assistant, BA Hons Drawing graduate, artist, amateur tarot reader, half-welsh, big sister, eldest daughter, lover, volunteer, bookworm, intense dreamer, nature and animal lover, over-protective friend, ex-barmaid, fledgling activist and general eccentric. Nice to meet you =D.

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