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Embracing Negative Space

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Bubbles. Little blobs of glee. Have you ever watched a child’s face as he gazes at bubbles floating effortlessly about his head? Pure bliss. Wide, smiling eyes, wonder, amazement, a calm joy. Wouldn’t it be spectacular to capture those emotions, to cup them gently between your palms like a bubble and to carefully pop each one when you need a gentle, uplifting moment of joy?

For February’s challenge, I practiced gratitude. Inspired by the words of my dance teacher, Deb, I sought the negative spaces in my life. As she teaches new choreography, Deb instructs us on the shapes our bodies should make while we move through the steps. Each movement is fluid yet distinct. Our bodies’ shapes are as much a part of the dance step as the rhythm and flow. Often to accentuate the description of the shape, Deb encourages us to see the negative space we create, to recognize the beauty of the emptiness that so often goes unnoticed.

This month I did just that in my own life. Rather than hurry from one event to another, I slowed down to appreciate the rituals that guide my day, the negative space around which my life takes shape. I took time to catch sight of the comfort that daily tasks, like cleaning up Emmett’s toys, can bring, even though I normally find it to be a chore. I stopped to appreciate brewing my morning cup of coffee, instead of rushing to clean the French press and cursing at the spilled grounds I must hurriedly sweep into the trash. I stood under the hot shower at the end of a long day and felt each drop of water massaging my tired muscles, relished the quiet of the house outside my bathroom sanctuary.

What I found there were endless bubbles. Bubbles of love, friendship, dappled sunlight, nourishment, affection, stillness, productivity, intellection, excitement, and even joyful surprises.  I discovered that those bubbles of glee were, in fact, already floating through my life, often hidden in the simple routines of my day. But before I could reap the joy from them, I needed to slow down and see them, feel gratitude for their presence, and make space to carefully pop each one, letting the tiny blip of glee wash over me.

Here is how I carried out my challenge of embracing the negative space:

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First I made a gratitude journal out of paper scraps, paint samples, old cards, used envelopes, and any other uplifting, inspirational, funky places I could jot down my thoughts. I got the idea from a fantastic blog post by Monika Wright. If you are not feeling crafty but would like to partake, you can purchase one of her gratitude journals at her Etsy store.

Then I started writing. Each night I captured one ritual, one rhythm, one moment of my day that brought peace, joy, hope, or comfort to my life. Sometimes I made a journal entry and wrote extensively of the ritual and its meaning. Other times, I drew a quick (albeit terrible) sketch or jotted just a word or two. But I always made the effort to catch sight of one moment in my day that normally would have gone unnoticed.

And I quickly saw that the shapes my body made as the earth spun through its day brought bursts of light to the negative space surrounding me.

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Step inside and take a peek at what I noticed.

Kissing Emmett goodnight…

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Freshly made coffee…

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The stillness of a snowstorm…

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Little giggles that too often get drowned out by the thoughts in my own head…IMG_8050 IMG_7776

Once I opened my eyes to the small moments of joy, I saw endless bubbles of glee surrounding me.

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2 thoughts on “Embracing Negative Space

    • Thanks. My challenges seem to lead me on a path of their own. When I begin the challenge, I never know what the resulting blog post will hold. I always seem to find truths that I hadn’t anticipated.

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