Wednesday, October 15, 2014

honoring my boundaries

If there is one theme running throughout my present life and within many of the circles I inhabit, it would be boundaries.  Personal or relationship boundaries: defining, clarifying, honoring and maintaining them.

I wonder if anyone older than thirty ever had healthy boundaries modeled for them?  Certainly in my family of origin, running rough-shod over personal space, never mind emotional space, was the norm.  It was my father's house damn it and that authority trumped all.  Emotional manipulation, passive aggressive behavior and martyr complex thrived in that environment. 

Much of my adult life has been spent dismantling unhealthy boundaries; getting at the negative  attitudes and behaviors while mindfully constructing positive, affirming ones.  Boundaries Boot Camp has been vital in bringing awareness to deeply rooted habits of being while holding out new tools in addressing and understanding boundary work.

A new aha (and duh, and of course!) came about when mapping out my circles of intimacy.  With myself in the middle, who - or what - occupies the concentric ring or circle directly adjacent to me ... the ring representing my most intimate of relationships?  Surprise! My most intimate relationships are not with my partner or my child (they occupy the next ring out) but with Spirit (or Source), with Nature, and with Creativity.

The relationship where I show up my most vulnerable and authentic self is not with another person, but with myself. 

Thinking about those relationships, I have to consider how I establish and maintain healthy boundaries.  Or conversely: how do I violate the terms of those relationships?  Do I disrespect or dishonor those connections and if so, how? More importantly, if at the most inner ring or core of my map of relationships there is a rupture, how does that ripple out into all my relationships?

Not the kind of questions to answer in one afternoon ... 

I believe at the foundation of healthy boundaries is a sense of self worth and self respect.  Right now, I am considering how I may disregard my relationship with creative source or creativity whenever I fail to show up for it.  What showing up looks like for me is listening deeply, and allowing space and time for expression and presence to flower and unfold.

exploring drawing with my non-dominant hand ... my new favorite way in!

Beyond any purpose I may believe my creative works exists to perform,  there exists a need for that creative expression to simply be.  For no other reason than it is a part of who I am and how I express my gratitude for the mystery and magic of being alive. Creative expression is how I honor the sacred presence that is me (and is all of us) and it is how I converse with that presence. 

Essential is space for play and exploration ... to question and, in my own language, craft my responses.  

on-going dialogue with Van Gogh; project idea from Studying Under the Masters course with Jeanne Oliver

How I want others to honor and respect my boundaries, I must extend to myself. When I dismiss my work -  when I devalue or talk smack about it; when I disregard its priority in my life; when I discount its cries for care; when I sacrifice it for "more important things" -  I am engaged in boundary violation ... with myself.

Instead, I pledge to respect, nurture, listen and tend to my Creativity.  I pledge to honor play, curiosity, exploration and adventure as core values that both everyday mom-me wishes to foster in our home, and more intimately, through relationship with Creativity and Source.  

Screech Owl รก la Van Gogh

No more excuses ... change is afoot!

Friday, October 10, 2014

the beauty of releasing

'Tis the season ...

Noticing the beauty in that which has moved through a full course from seed, seedling, bud, and blossom ... now arcing gracefully back towards where it began ... the slow and steady swoon towards earth, towards the unknown.

May I remember the beauty of acceptance, of flowing with what is and honoring my own rhythms, changes and transformations.  May I learn to let go like the marigold, the rose, letting fall what is ready to be released. 

I came to the garden just in time to enter the age of undoing. Surprisingly, it’s the age where the most amazing transformations take place. Every single leaf drops every single year from a sycamore, and it is the end of nothing. I came to the garden and found the shortest course to strength and freedom. I learned that all my faith lies in the path of least resistance—in the humble power and aching grace of letting go.
(Karen Maezen Miller, Paradise In Plain Sight

{Inspired by Maya's Monday Mandala practice}

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

happiness is ...

One project off the needles ...

my new shrug ...

Another one on ...

A third waiting in the wings.

Nothing makes me happier than experiencing the delight of beautiful wool caressing my fingers, lingering in my hands.  I  express my love through wool.  There is great pleasure in the making and more pleasure in knowing I have the perfect person in mind for the particular piece I am working on.  

How I love Autumn!  Time to cuddle up, cozy in, a mug of something spicy and warm by my side and the sense of short days filled with my most favorite of things.  Perhaps it is knowing the days are shorter, I tend to plan less but focus more intently upon what I do love, what does matter.

Quick now, here, now, always-
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)

T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding

Saturday, October 4, 2014

conversing with Van Gogh ...

Ah ... finally, it's Friday  - oops - Saturday!

Time flies when one is engaged in conversation with a deceased master.


Yes, always the mistress of distractions ... as if my plate isn't already full ... I've gone and signed myself up for another course.  But when I saw the first week (ha! about a month's worth of content in that one week) was an exploration of Vincent Van Gogh and specially his drawings ...

how could I resist?  (week six is Frida Kahlo - hello?!!)

Honoring MY Frida (1990 - 2008)
She was my first kitty, joining us when I was in grad school.  I had a colleague get mad at me because she was planning to name her cat Frida, but believed she couldn't since I had taken it.  Well, my girl - all 9 pounds of her - more than lived up to her name and the reputation of her namesake. She never dabbled in the arts or politics, but she was very outspoken and flamboyant in personality ... she taught me "no" is not an acceptable answer when one feels strongly otherwise ... and a well-timed purr will get you very far ... 

So here I sit, wondering how Vincent would translate my backyard? What patterns of lines and dots would he employ to capture the wild jungle of my tomato plants, the rambunctiousness of the marigolds?  In attempting to learn more about his technique and style, I am indulging myself in copying some of his sketches which are overwhelmingly detailed and intricate. It is no small feat to copy and my mind boggles at how he was able to break a scene down into the organized fields of pattern and design.  I find myself looking at my yard and wishing I could ask his advice on how to simplify the scene into the key elements. 

Of course, the answer lies in continuing the conversation through paper and pen and practice.  (Today, I discovered the delights of using a Lamy fountain pen swoon!)

pre-Lamy pen ... I can't wait to try some new copies now that I have a better pen ... although Van Gogh used reed pens to get a richer variety of lines - nice juicy, fat ones and darker ones

It always comes back to practice. And thank goodness for that.  As the winds of Autumn attempt to blow me off balance, I know my practice helps me to find my roots, and gather support and energy to keep me engaged in learning and growing.  

Meanwhile, the season calls me to attend to other pressing tasks ... 

Can we say salsa?  Lots and lots of salsa ... 

Such are my thoughts on this Autumn day.  This is my world as I live it ... what is happening in your world?  How do you stay connected and engaged?  What delights call to you? Do you dare to reply?  And why not, I say ... why not?!

The course I am taking is called Studying Under the Masters {Portraits and Self-Portraits} and a preview of week one can be seen HERE.  It is great fun and I may never get past week one ... and I don't care! (but I have 2 years ... so I'm not worried ...)

Friday, September 26, 2014

follow the yellow brick road ...

My girl is ten - TEN - years old!  Showing signs of the sass that certainly will be her signature flavor in the teens years, but thankfully she retains aspects of her original innocence. She still sleeps with her stuffed animals, mostly birds and sharks which says a lot her personality and what we might be in for down the road.

But ten years?  Done in a blink of an eye.  I've experienced the passing years like one of those coin catching wells ... you know ... the kind where you toss the coin in at the top and it spins around and around the circular perimeter, the circles getting smaller as the coin moves toward the center until finally it whips madly about in its last laps before descending down the dark hole at the bottom.

with her Uncle enjoying a pre-yellow brick road tater tot

Feeling a bit like I am more than half way down, the circuits getting smaller and faster ... although I am attempting to counter this speeding up effect through traditional means ... Live as if you had more time and you will (Karen Maezen Miller)

In the magical realms, does time matter?  

So the Husband worries that we (by which he means me) might be leading Cowgirl astray with all the support and encouragement around fairies and dragons and house gnomes. He worries other kids will begin to make fun of her ... that she will be angry with us for misleading her ... that she will be disappointed to learn the truth ...

I sit there listening to his misguided worries ... yes, hesitant to voice what I know to be the truth:

That there is a realm we cannot measure, see, chart, dissect but nonetheless many know - in that manner of knowing that cannot be articulated -  it exists ... it makes its presence known ...   

Can you imagine how cuffed I was for our girl to take her "Show Me" Dad on a nature hike only to discover this:

and this:

and 13 other fairy homes in what appears to be a thriving fae community well-established in nearby park.

To believe ... or not believe ... it is an individual choice.  Many will not and we believers must be prepared to withstand the barbs, the accusations, the doubts lobbed at us.  Many do not want to believe ... it takes a fair amount of strength and trust within oneself to do so. 

Sometimes those doubts will upset our footing, making us stumble and question ourselves.

Thankfully, there is support.

fairy slipper orchid essence ... my new fav exilir created by this Fae advocate

There are practices that help us align with the magic.  Just step outside. Sit awhile with nothing to do.  Close your eyes and open up your other senses, particularly that sensitive organ of the heart.  You have to wait awhile, allowing space and time for  the magic to come to you. 

Thankfully, I am surrounded by believers.  In fact, as one sister-in-wings  has noted All my friends are magic keepers.  They have to be. 

Grab the hand of a friend ... it helps to have another witness the magic with you. It makes the journey that much more enjoyable, more magic-filled. Now, follow the magic ... yes, follow the yellow brick road ...

xo to our sisters in the North ... you know who you are ...

Friday, September 19, 2014

tiny messages ... (finally, friday)

Even when things are moving at autobahn pace, there are still tiny yet powerful reminders to slow down ...

Look down ...

And say Thank You.

Thank you for coming ... for allowing yourself to bee seen ... for offering your teachings to me to keep my eyes, ears, and heart open.  Always ...

may it continue to be so ... may I continue to trust and believe.  Aho.  I honor all my ancestors, guides, and guardians for guiding me to this place where I now stand. To my home ... to myself. 

i am holding a piece of bear paw bone ... a reminder of a powerful ceremony with Bear and a gift from a powerful Sister who shares more about Bear HERE

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

lifted ...

A couple of weekends ago, I went away on retreat with some sisters I've been circling with during the past year. 

The journey itself felt like more than I was up to handling, but I knew that once I arrived, there would be deep nourishment available at many levels. Physically, the space was beautiful: restful and abundant in the sights ...

sounds (coyote calls, birdsong), and smells of nature mellowing into an early autumn.  

There was an abundance of food, laughter and soulful sharing, personal inquiry and reflection upon what has been and what I am ready to release, to shed as I balance my rhythms with those of mother nature.  Each of us shared what we were ready to release, to set down upon the altar.  We harvested what nature had shed, creating bundles to offer along with our prayers to the fire on an soon-to-be full harvest moon.

We ended our stay with an Inipi or Sweat Lodge ceremony held by Sweet Medicine Nation, a wisdom keeper and teacher honoring the sacred ways of her Lakota and Choctaw lineage. It was a sweat performed in the traditional ways: modest clothing (women worn long skirts); offerings of tobacco made to the fire tender and water pourer; four rounds inside the lodge with prayers and songs offered in each round. It was a fitting way to honor the work our group had been doing that weekend as the sweat ceremony itself is about purification and preparation for spiritual work.  Entering the lodge is likened to returning to the womb - the Womb - being cleansed and through the intense experience of the sweat, being re-birthed upon leaving.  

It was my first sweat lodge and I was nervous about the intensity of the heat and my ability to endure it.  Within minutes of being in the lodge a sweat covered my entire being.  By the end of the fourth round, I felt as if I was covered in amniotic fluid my clothing and skin slick and drenched. I had been advised to lie down, it being cooler nearer the ground and the edges of the lodge.  At times I lay curled on my side, singing along with the chants which seemed familiar even though the language was foreign to me. I cannot say I thought of anything. I was carried along by the words of Sweet Medicine, the songs, the energy of the group pulsating in the darkness.

I never doubted I could make it all four rounds (you can exit after any round) and by the end I felt emptied and cleansed.  I admit, I expected to feel something more ... what, I'm not sure. I suppose I expected to receive some insight, a piece of clarity or understanding to be released in all that sweat.

When the fourth round was complete, we each made our way to the exit.  There, the fire tender reached down to help each of us rise out and up from the darkness of the lodge into the bright sunlight of the midday.  Everyone lines up and you greet each person who had been in the lodge.  It was by the third person that I realized something was happening ... that I was feeling less and less in my body, that I was becoming rapidly and increasingly light headed.  I greeted a few more people and then declared - to whom, I cannot remember - "I've got to go down!"

I slowly sunk to the ground, folding myself into child's pose with my forehead resting upon my towel.  I felt as if I was clinging to the earth, attempting to hold on.  I was not aware of much else.  At one point someone - Sweet Medicine? - placed her hands upon my back and said "Oh, she is shaking."  I was unaware of anything but the earth supporting me.

Slowly the fear and the dizziness began to abate. I then noticed a pair of feet waiting by my left shoulder.  As I began to rise up, a hand came down to lift me.  Standing by me was one of the grandmothers, an elder who had attended the first two rounds of the sweat and then had sat outside with another participating in prayers and songs. She was a tall, beautifully strong and solid woman with liquid eyes and raven hair threaded with silver. She guided me up and then linking my arm with hers, walked me slowly and calmly out of the circle and towards the picnic area for the following feast.  The fire tender, Carl, greet us with water and as he poured it over my head she uttered "Ahh ... I can feel you shifting!"  I remember little else of what she said but tangible is the memory of her support, her strong assurance and comfort in caring for and guiding me. 

This was the gift of the sweat: becoming vulnerable, being open, being looked after, and tended to with compassion and great care.  Receiving is not my strong suit.  My greatest fears center upon being abandoned, unable to care for myself, and unable to cope.  But as writer and Zen priest Karen Maezen Miller has pointed out "Fear is a false barrier. It's nothing but a gaping hole you step through. On the other side, the teacher is waiting." (Paradise In Plain Sight)

Or in my case, a grandmother was ready to offer me a strong and supportive arm, reminding me I am never truly alone or helpless.  There is always support available to me.  I just have to open to it, tap into it, and meet it half way.  

In so many ways, I now see this truth manifesting in my life. Through so many channels, in many forms I am being looked after, I am being lifted up and received.