She was telling me the story so I’d understand that my work was doing some good stuff.
It mattered to her that I held this. And as I have trouble holding the idea that my words can touch like they do, I was paying careful attention.
I wanted to hold it – I think more because she wanted me to than anything else.
I didn’t realize what she’d tell me would move me so. She was careful not to invade the girl’s privacy and just tell me the basics. And so she told me the story of a young girl who had been raped, of how the guy who had done this to her was out of jail and wandering around the small town they shared, how the girl was having trouble coping, was suicidal, and had been admitted to a hospital.
The friend telling me the story was a shop owner. She carried my work. She handed the girl’s mom one of my journals to give to the girl. And somehow the journal, with it’s quotes mixed through the pages had helped the girl feel a little less alone.
This story hit me so hard. I cried as I listened and when I hung up the phone, I just sat with my eyes closed trying to hold the idea that some of my words brought this girl some small sense of comfort. I didn’t kid myself, there’s only so much comfort they could give. But if they gave ANY, I was feeling incredibly grateful.
And right then I decided I wanted to put a book together for this girl and others like her. I didn’t even know her name, but I didn’t care. I knew enough of her story. She had totally filled my heart. I knew the title right away. It would be based on a symbol I had been using for inner work with, a white tree. The title of the book would be ‘Her White Tree.’
The idea of that symbol was that we all have the sacred inside us. No matter how hacked, chopped, burnt, or carved into it gets, it can still grow. No one can take our sacred away from us, we all have a white tree inside. I wanted the girl to know that.
Yeah, well great. That’s all good to have a heart full of purpose and a title you love.
But then what? I had never experienced this type of trauma. Who was I to try to offer any help? And the door to self doubt flew wide open and the demons rushed in.
This wasn’t the first book I put together. I had started my own art business ten years ago combining art and poetry. I had gotten such a good response on the poetry, that I had gathered some of the poems into a book. And then another, and then another. And then there was the book mixing my thoughts and my poetry together. I was no stranger to book writing.
The books are self published and sold through my business which has made me feel they aren’t as “real” a book as if they sold at a place like Borders, through a publisher.
And yet, I haven’t been able to ignore the notes and stories I’ve heard from people who’ve been touched by my work. For some, at least, the books are real. And truthfully, deep down, they’re real to me.
I made a deal ten years ago when I started my business. I would listen to my heart and follow what I heard.
My heart was screaming at me to write/compile this book. And so I sat down determined to do so. I had no idea how to start, what to say, where to go.
“Just listen.” I told myself over and over again. I don’t think I have ever felt so at a loss with a project before. Throwing my hands up over and over again, I just kept sitting back down and trying a little more…and a little more…and a little more. Until I was done.
There were a lot of wrestling matches inside me. The Doubt Demons were dancing away, insecurities, and the feeling of just plain being lost came and sat with me daily.
But always, always, there was my heart screaming stronger and louder than any of it. “Offer your heart to her, Terri. Just offer your heart. You don’t need to do anything more than that.”
And deep inside, I believed that to be true.
One of my sons designed the cover for me. He understood what I was doing, understood how much it mattered to me, and designed the most beautiful cover I could ever have hoped for. To have his heart in the project meant the world to me.
On the day the proof came in, I felt like my world stopped.
I had been struggling with some big life questions including “What’s it all about?” and “What do I want to do with my life?”
When I held the proof in my hands, I started trembling. I truly started trembling. The book looked and felt so soft, I held it to my face. While the tears ran down my cheeks, I closed my eyes and understood with my whole heart what life was about and what it was I wanted to do with my life.
Opening and offering my heart. That’s what I wanted to do. No matter how scary or how lost it may feel at times.
I want to open and offer my heart.
As I flipped through the pages, I saw my heart everywhere.
It’s a scary thing to offer your heart to the world.
But it’s way scarier still not to.
Terri St. Cloud is an artist and writer and open heart. Follow her on Twitter @terristcloud. Like her Bone Sigh Art’s Facebook Page. Read and subscribe to her Bone Sigh Arts Blog. Visit her Bone Sigh Arts website and consider getting a card or poster of book for someone you love, and subscribe to her colorful community newsletter. Order a copy of Her White Tree for yourself or a friend.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Terri St. Cloud is an artist and writer and open heart. Follow her on Twitter @terristcloud. Like her Bone Sigh Art’s Facebook Page. Read and subscribe to her Bone Sigh Arts Blog. Visit her Bone Sigh Arts website and consider getting a card or poster of book for someone you love, and subscribe to her colorful community newsletter. www.BoneSighBooks.com
all you can do is love with all
you have inside of you.
and maybe that love will
heal your wounds.”
i didn’t start bone sigh arts as an artist…….it just all sort of happened. and maybe because of that, it could give someone encouragement.
so here we go…
… i had just come back from a particularly rough nite of marriage counseling. my normal routine was to come home totally worn out and feeling horrible. i would veg out and wait for the nite to end. on this particular nite tho, i didn’t want to just veg out. i wanted to do something for someone else. reach outside of myself. so i sat down and made a gift for a woman in my woman’s group. she was at a crossroads in her life and i wanted to show support. i thought i would try a little “art piece” for her new home. we had similar issues we were dealing with, and i felt a connection to her. i wrote her a “poem” about a woman figuring out she matters. i thought that i was writing the poem about her, but when i sat back and read it, i knew it was definitely about me. i painted a watercolor candle to go along with it and matted it for her. i brought the quote in to my counselor the next week. she read it and cried. and she looked at me and said “terri, you have got to keep writing.” and i nodded. i knew i did too.
and so began my journey into bone sigh arts.