Grace in the flow

swan insitu 10We all have this idea of what “being in the flow” is all about; artists and those who like to think they live creatively, instinctively and oh-so spontaneously tend to refer to it more than most, urging everyone else to “just go with the flow, go with the flow” but, really, we all do it.

Life itself is “the flow” and that means that, sometimes, its a babbling brook fizzing over small rocks with all the lightness and effervescence of a chatty drinks party; at other times, its a raging torrent and we get swept up in its rip tides, crashed against rocks. Most of us try to veer towards the gently progressing direction that feels like we are getting somewhere with our aspirations but, really, all of these extremes are flow, even when we feel washed into an inlet and stuck in the mud. 

In short, nothing that is life in a physical form is not an experience of flow, measured (by our senses) against all these outside props designed to mirror back to us the places we are getting hung up on overhanging branches or spun in endless whirlpools. 

Swan insitu 4

I’ve been feeling a bit knocked about by life and so exploring some of my own stuck places in recent weeks, going deeply into the frustration of it all, on the one hand and yet, on the other, marveling at how a more centred “me” has learned so much from the experience and remains calm and at peace. 

And that’s the very thing to remember: right at the heart of all our variable experiences of the flow of life is the “us” that gets to experience it all and to choose how to react. What’s more, this amounts to a sense of self that we could get to know by no other means than by measuring it against the variable currents that pass us by or seem so very determined to sweep us off our intended course. In getting to know and so to hold that space of self, we also get to experience a state of grace from within the very turmoil of life and there is really no better place than there to experience such a thing…and then to realise that it is unwaveringly yours, whatever life may seem to throw at you. In fact, the biggest transition of all can occur once we realise that the flow really is us and all of its tugs and currents, and its apparently sudden changes in direction, are there for us and come bearing gifts.

Original painting by Helen White

On one of my recent walks, I was sat with my feet overhanging the river bank when two adolescent swans came into view; the very epitome of grace as their pure whiteness came gliding past, oh-so effortlessly, on the water beyond all the frenzy of dragonflies and bees that I had been watching. 

The space where I was sat was like a portal into the world of the river, being a person’s-width hole cut into all the verdant growth along the bank, designed as a fishing station. These two swans went gliding past my viewing portal once…then again…then again, always turning around to swim backwards against the current only to free-flow back down river, sometimes sideways, backwards, spinning slightly – they really didn’t’ seem to mind where the flow took them. It was easy to see they were enjoying themselves, had found somewhere with a strong enough current to take them on a ride, which they were happy to surrender to, for all the fun of just seeing where and in what way it took them…over and over again. It was so obvious they have come to love the feeling of the flow so very much that they just can’t get enough of it and keep going back in for more. 

No less so do we! swan insitu 7

It was around that time that I was coming very close to finishing a painting I had been working on for several weeks, of a graceful swan gliding serenely away across the kind of water that is alive with over-layered currents and reflection from all that is going on around it. The very day I finished it was the one when I took all the light-filled photos of a swan feather found on this same riverbank that were shared in my recent post The Opportunist Photographer; a gift left on the shore so that I could have that magical moment with it.

It was beginning to feel like all the many swans of my summer walks were conveying some kind of message to me. Like the very symbol of that least dishevelled and most serene, perpetually intact aspect of the self that is right there throughout all the apparent thick and thin, shove and pull of life’s big adventure, they had become part of my own flow, and I part of the coincidence of them appearing to me over and over again, weaving in and out of my consciousness to serve as this very distinct reminder of the fact that I, too, am that unruffled, unsullied self at my deepest core and, from that place, I glide on through it all…and am (not so) secretly enjoying each and every aspect of the ride.




Grace for web2‘Grace’ is an original painting in oils on a deep-sided unframed canvas, dimensions 60 x 60 cm. There is a true depth to the depiction of the water that varies in colour and tone according to the light conditions, while the swan holds her continuous state of grace. You can view high resolution images of this painting at (or click on image).

Related post:


About Helen White

Helen White is a professional artist and published writer with two primary blogs to her name. Her themes pivot around health and wellbeing, expanded consciousness and ways of noticing how life is a constant dance between the deeply subjective and the collective-universal, all of which she explores with a daily hunger to get to know herself better. Her blog Living Whole shines a light on living with high sensitivity, dealing with trauma and healing from chronic health issues. Spinning the Light is an extremely broad-based platform where she elucidates the everyday alchemy of relentless self-exploration. A lifetime of "feeling like an outsider" slowly emerged as neurodivergence (being a Highly Sensitive Person with ADHD, synaesthesia, sensory processing challenges and other defecits overlapping with giftedness). All of these topics are covered in her blogs, written from two distinct vantage points so, if you have enjoyed one of them, you may wish to explore the other for a different, yet entirely complimentary, perspective.
This entry was posted in Animal art, Art, Art metaphor, Art technique, Birds, Consciousness & evolution, Health & wellbeing, Landscape art, Life choices, Nature, Personal Development, Walks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Grace in the flow

  1. Beautiful painting Helen, love the different angle and the way you’ve caught the light on the water.


  2. Karin Van den Bergh says:

    Hmm..when swans cross your path it’s mostly a sign of some sort of upgrade in intuitive abilities and
    alternatively you are being reminded of your own inner grace and beauty and to allow it to shine forth for others to see.. You’re already doing an excellent job with this Helen 😉
    Swans are so elegant and graceful indeed and yes, their natural effortless beauty reminds us to move gently through the currents of life and not fight against them. Interesting to know – from what I sense in relation to their natural environment – is that water is linked with the feminine intuition and emotion, and by simply following swans example we learn how to view our emotions without getting trapped by them.


  3. Karin Van den Bergh says:

    I hope you are doing well..?


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