The Friday Journal Prompt: What’s your push-pull?




Dear Friends,

It’s my intention to offer journal prompts on most Fridays.  Many of us have a little bit more time on the weekends to play in our journals; many of us take a little time on Sundays for some Depth Dimension exploration; many of us take a Sabbath on either Saturdays or Sundays.  So I’d like to offer a question or suggestion to add to your reflections, something to help you explore life and create meaning from the raw material of every day.

This week’s question is related to my process in creating “Listening for the Red Thread”, both the painting and the poem:

What issue in your life do you have a push-pull relationship with?  What issue do you do a “on the one hand. . . . , but on the other hand. . . . ” with?  Is there something you’d like to do, but as soon as you think of it, another voice in your head warns you against going too far in that direction?  Is there an issue in your life that you know you need to find a balance in, but that balance has so far been very elusive?  Write out the issue as clearly as you can, then write a letter to yourself accessing the voice of your inner wise self to answer the dilemma.  Or, imagine that the Sacred, or a guide, teacher, or saint is responding to you, and write what they would tell you.

An example is the inquiry at the heart of this painting and poem.  In my inner world I’ve so often gone back and forth between “I need to rest and take care of myself; with chronic illness and pain, it’s the most responsible action to take.  Besides, my body is crying out for it,” and “You don’t need to get lazy about this, Cat.  Yes, be good to yourself, but you shouldn’t get selfish about your needs.  There is still so much that you can, and should, get done.  Keep working as hard as you can.”

The result of this push-pull is that I’m either working too hard or I’m feeling guilty about not working hard enough.  It’s not a pleasant state to be in, to put it mildly.  Now, rationally I can work it all out, but feelings-wise, well, it seems my feelings have a life of their own which do not care all that much about my well worked out rational conclusions.

So I bring it to the canvas.  I write my intention on the canvas before creating my portal of the sacred heart, and as words came to me, or questions or images, I record them in my journal.  I include the words “compassion”, “rest”, “quiet”, and “contemplation” in the painting.  After I finish the painting I write out the words, questions and images that came up for me during the painting onto a new piece of paper, then just sit with them for awhile.  Slowly, the poem is created.  It was a surprise to me that it came out in the second person; I think it’s the voice of my loving observer self, my wise woman within.

I don’t expect that I’ll never feel the push-pull again, but I do know that something got worked out within my psyche.  I also have the physical evidence of having reflected deeply on this question, and receiving an answer from a very deep part of myself.  If the questions turn up again, I’ll ponder my painting and poem, and hopefully, know then what is best to do.

Now, your turn.  I would love it if you post your response in the comments, if it’s not too terribly personal.

The photos below are the different steps in my painting.

With love,






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