“You will immediately get the point of the image” said my client earlier this week, and she was right. A picture can be worth a thousand words!

I was immediately drawn in. Paige Bradley’s “Expansion” resonated deep in my being, and knew I wanted to share it. I’m grateful to Paige both for saying ‘yes’ to the call of her life to create this powerful figure, and for allowing me to share it with you.

Before I say any more, take a moment and breathe it in …

“Expansion” by Paige Bradley
Image used with permission of the artist.

In her blog The Story of Expansion, Paige Bradley shares what moved her to take a piece she had carefully worked on for several months and shatter it. She destroyed what she had made by dropping it on the floor. What emerged from the shattering was this powerful figure you see above. It has become one of four pieces she displays on her website in a section called Metamorphosis.

Paige intentionally chose to step into her experience of shattering. Others, like me, my client, and many of those I partner with, have a different experience. Ours is a powerful and painful shattering of the lives we’ve worked so hard to carefully construct. At least from the outside, things look like they’re quietly ticking along. And then ‘it’ – the shattering – happens.

The circumstances of the shattering are unique for each one of us.

Some, like Paige, are attentive to the call of their lives, and recognize the need to expand beyond what she knew. She had conceived of this piece when she first moved to Manhattan. But even with that vision of possibility in her mind, consciously choosing to destroy something she had worked hard at creating was scary. She writes “My first feeling was, “what have I done?!” Then, I trusted it would all come together like I envisioned.” She then set about the task of casting and assembling all those shattered pieces, and collaborated with a lighting specialist to create that glow from within.

Many (and I’ve been in this camp) may have felt the stirrings of unsettledness within, and our very human response to this call of our lives has been to redouble our efforts to keep the familiar status quo in place. This can take all kinds of forms – working harder, distracting or numbing ourselves in a myriad of ways, lashing out at others who we think are the cause of our upset, creating boundaries within which we feel more protected, even deepening our spiritual practice can at times be a way of avoiding the change that our lives are calling us to. In continuing to push in this direction, we exhaust ourselves.

Having lived through first avoiding and then experiencing my own shattering, I so identify with what Paige writes in the description of the first figure in her Metamorphosis series Alapadma, Half Life. As an agent of change herself, while wanting to be “a forceful voice to help those who suffer”, she simultaneously wants “to provoke us to feel painful truths we keep bottled up inside.”  

Like Paige discovered in the world of art, Life is calling us to make changes, to choose a different approach. Not all of us are as courageous as she was in consciously choosing to say ‘yes’ to Life. But soldiering on and exhausting ourselves trying to keep the painful truths bottled up inside is no way to live. Eventually, in one way or another, the pressure becomes too great, and something has to give.

What if we chose to see our experiences of being shattered,
of being broken open in whatever form it comes,
as a gift from life?

What if we took time in that shattered space to pause and look inside at those painful parts that have until now been bottled up? What if, in the company of supportive community, we began to expand our capacity to be present to and nurture our relationship with those parts of us that we’ve been scared to be with, or maybe ashamed of?

I’m not saying that all those skills and capacities for navigating life we’ve been honing all this time aren’t important! Paige went back to her casting in bronze and all the other familiar skills of her art. In fact “Momentum”, this piece shown below, will be her second figure in the Expansion series.

“Momentum” by Paige Bradley
Image used with permission of the artist.

This figure, Paige says, “represents the energy of our spirit within us. When we allow ourselves to live life to the fullest, and feel deeply alive, nothing can stop our momentum.”

At whatever point we say ‘yes’, choosing to embrace what is, and risk expanding, deepening our connection or re-connecting with those parts of ourselves we’ve not had the vision or courage to give expression to, all kinds of things become possible. This is the capacity I (and those in our community) choose to nurture as we meet every moment of our lives, AND we respectfully honour our humanity in those moments where we don’t manage to live up to our intentions!

As I said, the circumstances of any shattering is unique to each of us, and the pain we experience in that shattering is often enormous – sometimes seemingly intolerable. One thing I have come to know with deep certainty, even in the midst of this pain, is this …

The shattering ISN’T the end of the story.
It’s the point at which we are being invited into “Expansion”
– into expressing our greatness in a way we’ve never done before.

If you’ve been hearing those whispers, or feeling the impulse rising in you to say ‘yes’ to something more in your life I hope Paige’s art has inspired you to pay attention. As scary as this may be, it’s way more gentle than waiting for a shattering! AND, if shattering has been your experience, my hope is that you’ll choose to hold that as an invitation from Life. I’m holding all of us in possibility here. If you’ve got supportive community around you, wonderful! If that’s not the case, and you’re feeling some resonance with what I’ve shared here, I’d love to hear from you.

Nurturing juicy co-creative partnerships
…with ourselves, others & life!