Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Inspiration Celebration: cycles


As we work with our individual totems, we will begin to see how the predation process in its life within the wild reflects our own life within our environment.... By examining the combined qualities (medicine) of both predator and prey, the powers of death and rebirth become more accessible. The balance of totems enables you to recognize the natural rhythms of the death and rebirth process and use it more effectively. By working with the energies of both the predator totem and its prey as a totem will make life transitions less chaotic and disruptive. As a result your life becomes more creative and production. - Ted Andrews Animal-Speak






Last week I finished Deep. I pulled out all my paintings and sat with them in one room, reflecting upon my journey and where it has taken me. There were certainly surprises and new insights when viewing my work as a whole. That is the gift of the intuitive or fearless painting process: it allows me to bypass my intellect, the ideas and beliefs and perspective I hold and access my subconscious where things are not always as I imagined them to be.






For example, when approaching my second painting, I was thinking I was addressing something I needed to let go of, some attitude or belief or fear that was holding me back from stepping into my full power and gifts. What I now see is that painting represents rejection and denial of keys aspects of myself needed to be whole, to be fully alive and potent. The figure frozen in the tree structure weeps as the doll is being cast aside; without that part of myself, I am stuck, frozen and cut off.






In my third - and least favorite piece - I recognized I needed to embrace that doll. But what I thought was a painting about nurturing and support, I now see is pointing out how I mistake protection and withdrawal as care. This painting bothered me because it points out my disconnection due to fear of rejection and how isolation creates further disconnection within myself.






The third in what I think of as my doll paintings is my favorite of the entire course. Here I see integration, acceptance, and a cherishing of the discounted parts of myself. This painting was made as an act of devotion to love and in the process of painting it, I came to realize the need to offer to myself the unconditional love I so freely give to my daughter. Without knowing all that was happening below the surface, the act of painting this piece healed me.



My "purpose" painting: to be me
giving and receiving; heaven and earth



So what does this all have to do with predator and prey energies? I am embracing my totem hawk and while doing so, rabbit has offered herself to me for some deep lessons. As I absorb the many lessons of Deep, an important cycle in my creative life is coming to an end. But what rabbit is showing me is the nature of my creative cycles. There are quiet periods where little seems to be occurring and then I find myself in the midst of inspiration chaos! I am flooded with ideas, inspirations, and a host of projects I am itching to begin. It is overwhelming at times. So I sit frozen, unable to decide which of the many things calling out for my attention I wish to take on next. I hop back and forth between projects, frantic to keep the flow of inspiration and motivation alive. It is thrilling but it is exhausting.

But now I recognize this is my cycle. And while the initial stage feels like inspiration over-population, I also know hawk waits for the opportunity to strike. One thing will emerge from the chaos and forces right for its development will present themselves and then hawk will guide me to swoop in and carry that idea to its completion. I must learn to trust and wait. And I also must trust that rabbit is doing her share to keep the litter of ideas well cared for until needed. I think I can finally let go of a fear of lack.

What next? There is this writing workshop by fellow fearless painter Natasha on capturing our stories; there are additional sewing projects inspired by re-purposed clothing and knitwear, creatively put together by Emily Falconbridge; scrapbooking/journaling ideas in Got Paint (which I hope to use in a journal I am creating for Cowgirl - that may end up being my Opus!), always more painting, more art postcards to make and mail out; new fairy bundle ideas; sewing and knitting projects; and of course photographing and writing it all down for future reference.






Do you wallow in an overabundance of ideas and inspiration? How do you sort through the myriad of shiny, wonderful projects? How do you balance your energies and attention? Is it really a balance or is creativity, by necessity, a sweet taste of chaos? The balance being in the cycles of birth, growth and destruction? Filling and emptying? Activity and rest? Remembering to receive as well as offer forth?

As I steep in all these ideas, reminders of abundance, receiving, waiting and trusting swirl around me. Hawk sits on the lamp post waiting for me on every walk; as we approach he takes flight. I return home and find this gift in the mail:




postcard art by mango sister Mel


confirming once the cycles of giving and receiving, taking in and offer out that are constantly in motion. And Joy. Let's not forget joy! She is always just a crayon away ...






Saturday, February 26, 2011

tracks and signs








Lately it seems nature is bombarding me with messages and teachings I am to integrate into my life.
The veil between my intuition and my rational mind has been yanked away and I am in awe of the wisdom being imparted to me. Hawk circles above me, rabbit has left two tufts of fur (in addition to necessitating a rescue from our window well), woodpecker drums out his morse code and even skunk has paid a visit and left an offer, albeit of the odorous kind.

I am listening, I am paying attention. Class is in session and I have much to learn.







Cycles

Quietly
you slip into my world
but signs of your presence
are everywhere

a maze of tracks in the snow
a trail of droppings
the ruin of our garden

reminders one can be active
without requiring attention

your gift is to blend in
moving in the realm of half-light
following the moon
suggesting the wisdom found in cycles
a time to ripen, be full, produce
a time to empty, feed oneself, regenerate

stillness is your defense
knowing when it is right to act, run
and when it best to wait things out
allowing danger to pass you by

you teach me
to always have an escape route
options
knowing when to leap, hop, double back
and to use ones energy wisely

persistent, fertile, unrelenting
you endure
you thrive

dodging danger daily
to return to the nest
tending to your young
before venturing out again
to nourish yourself.



Messenger

Errand day
mind filled with lists
and itinerary
giving self
and precious time
to what is necessary
but seldom enjoyed.

Driving on auto-pilot
I almost missed it -
a young fox
the color of faded pumpkins
and dried leaved
making a dash across the street

Pausing
just before slipping into
the high grass
to cast a glance over his shoulder
and in my direction.

The thrill of such a moment!
Catching a furtive view
of the stealthy thief himself
a treat to eyes
wearied by the sight
of so many dead raccoons
in recent days.

For some cultures
Fox represents
a noble guide
appearing in human realms
to offer his wisdom

Shape shifter -
master of blending in -
determined and focused -
hunter -
adaptable predator -
crafty thinker -
just a few ways
to consider the symbolism of
Fox.

As I revisit the moment
it is that swift glance -
as if to be sure I was watching -
which seems to offer me a clue

Silent observer
Taker of risks
perhaps you were
reminding me
to pay close attention
keeping eyes open
for the opportunities
present only
when we are alert.

And to become fox-like
creatively manifesting
my dreams
knowing
risks only appear so
to unimaginative
and dulled eyes.


What lessons is nature sharing with you? Have you been paying attention?




Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ingredients for a good day ...

Sunshine and a friend to share it:








a reminder that Spring is on her way:






sweetness shared:








love freely and generously given:





Key ingredients not pictured:

Skyping with a dear friend; a supportive and affirming email from a goddess; and this inspiring blog post on medicine bundles with an added surprise at the end.








A very good day, courtesy of Joy, fairies and magic.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Monday Inspiration Celebration: Tools of a Joy Warrior


Inspiring me all weekend long was everyone's response to being a Joy Warrior! So many of you are already practicing, you just hadn't made a formal declaration or realized we can be a movement ... a tidal wave of energy generating more and more joy in our world.

So I've been giving a lot of thought to what it means to be a Joy Warrior and what are the tools that support me in that mission. So many of you noted the very essentials: bubbles; twirly skirts and scarves; glitter, sparkles and any fun adornment; side walk chalk and finger paints and really any form of color - today I pulled out the watercolors and india ink:







But really, when I get right down to it, the only essential tool is my attitude. Attitude and attention. Paying attention to myself and to those around me. The concept of being a Witness is central in yoga and I am recognizing its importance in my creative life. Having worked through an intensely transformational program like Deep, I became acutely aware of my need for the support of my tribe if only to be a witness to all that was manifesting within me via the fearless painting process.

These words spilled out over the weekend:


“Mommy, mommy! Look at what I made!”

“See what I can do …”

“Come watch …

“Look again …”


How often in my day do I hear those words?

And for as many times as I step away from what I am doing

to go to my daughter,

I am also guilty of responding:

“In a minute”

“Of course you can!”

“Let me finish this first …”

And “I’ll be there when I’m done.”

Missing that initial flush of triumph, pride and achievement on my child’s face.


The failure is to misinterpret her requests for my attention

As a need for approval or validation.

What she is really asking me to do

Is to stand as a Witness to her triumphs

As well as her disasters

To be present with her for all of it –

Sadness, pain, joy, excitement

To help her hold a space

For herself

As she is in that moment.


Isn’t that what any of us really wants?

To be seen,

Heard,

Our lives Witnessed.

To have another soul

Hold our hand and acknowledge

“Yes, this is real.

Yes, this is hard.

This is painful.

This is wonderful.

This is exquisitely beautiful

And beyond any words.


This is …

And you are …

And I am here.

And you are here.

And this moment matters

And you matter

And we matter.


Not to label things as

Good, bad, right, wrong, fair, unfair

Not to lay blame, create shame,

praise

or separate ourselves into a categories of better or worse -

But simply to acknowledge

This is happening

This is now

This is real.


When we stand as a witness for another

We are supporting them in learning

How to be a witness for themselves.


My guru taught:

“Self awareness with compassion is the highest practice.”

We bring with us compassion when we authentically see another person.


When my daughter is hurt

I cradle her in my arms

Kissing each tear as it sanctifies the moment

Reminding her – and myself –

That we are held, we are loved, we are deeply cared for


Each boo boo

Teaches us we can move beyond pain

Each triumph

That we are vaster than the limits we impose upon ourselves


And by sharing those moments,

We can no longer hide from our truth

We learn to embrace ourselves

And discover we are already

Whole.








I am excited to be here as a witness for your triumphs and tumbles and to share mine with you; and to cheer each of us on as we attempt the most courageous of acts - to each day declare ourselves to be warriors for joy.


The transformation has begun. Already, Cowgirl is embracing a new pirate-like spirit:



she lost her first tooth over the weekend and was over the moon with excitement




And I am waffling a bit here, but I do believe there may be one essential tool needed in our arsenal: the ukulele.








I hope you will share your stories and images and artwork chronicling transformation through joy. Once the intention is set, it is pretty spectacular how Joy chooses to share herself.





(and wow ... the word Waffle just inspired me to make pancakes for supper ... how joyful is that?)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Got Joy?




I swear, I feel like I have been turned inside out and upside down ... is it this full moon? I think I've packed years of therapy into one week and am reeling from all that has bubbled to the surface (more like hot lava spewing forth) and has settled around me. Big teachings, big insights. Lots of painting and learning from the process.




just one sheet in the 6 sheet large painting i am doing for Deep



And after ecstasy, then the dishes and walking the dog and tomorrow's lunch to be made and, of course, always the laundry.

All of which is why I am clinging to this notion of being a Joy Warrior. What I am realizing is I do a lot in any given day; life demands much from us and the wonder and excitement and joy can often get buried under all that dirty laundry. Or rather, my energy and capacity for joy is diluted by the necessary application of myself to keeping things rolling along.

But being a Joy Warrior is not about doing more. It is not so much an effort, but a non-effort. It is a conscious choice to open myself up to Joy. That is it. Really. Trust me.

Okay, yeah there is also a little thing called being Present. But here's the trick to that: close your eyes and take a breath. Play attention to the inhale and the exhale. And now take another breath. This time, exhale out through your mouth with a sigh. And since three is a good number, take one more breath and let that sigh be a little louder, a little more juicy. And now just notice how you feel.

If you can do that and I mean just do that - no letting your mind drift to the past and any regrets, wounds, pains nor think about the future with its attendant worries, anxieties or anticipation - then you are allowing there to be this open space into which Joy (or contentment or bliss or gratitude) can pour in.

Choosing Joy can be that simple. You open yourself up to it by letting go of something you no longer need to cling to or carry or drag around. Knowing you always have a choice is really the challenge.

And some days, the choice between going home and tackling the laundry or heading over to the local nail salon for some Warrior Girl pampering isn't really choice - it is a declaration of Joy. A giving Joy a toehold into your soul.












I am loving everyone's response to join the call! So tell me, how are you going to expand Joy this weekend? I swear, under that full moon I am seeing some bubbles floating by ...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mission: Love & Joy





Did you receive the memo? It is a week-long celebration of love and goodness over at Dirty Footprints Studio and the party is in full swing. There are nineteen scrumptious party prizes up for grabs, so check it out and be sure to enter because cupid could just pick you to win!







And if that isn't enough get you doing a happy dance, then check out the very first podcast by the always effervescent goddess Leonie at Goddess Guidebook for some midweek inspiration. I guarantee she not only can turn any frown upside down, she will have you twirling and giggling and resolving it is time for some inspired play.

The day was sunny and warm and I was still floating along from Leonie's meditation when I went to pick Cowgirl up from school. "What are we going to do today?" she asked. "We are going to be Joy Warriors" I declared, surprising both of us.




"What is a Joy Warrior?" you may ask. Well, a Joy Warrior is one who stands up against the Blahs and the Blue Meanies, pushing back the Doldrums and declaring Mediocrity has no place in her world. A Joy Warrior laughs, plays and loves with her whole heart. A Joy Warrior lifts her face to the sky and declares every day is a day to be filled with celebration.

A Joy Warrior's main weapon is her indomitable spirit and a full bottle of bubble soap. So even though the day quickly turned gray and cold by the time we got home, we two warriors were not deterred.







A half hour and a wand full of bubbles later, we rested knowing Joy once again ruled supreme in our little bit of the world.










We are currently recruiting new warriors to fight the good fight in all corners of the world. We won't stop until the skies are filled with bubbles, our faces fatigued from smiling and the music of giggles reaches the heavens. We are on Mission: Joy. So go gather your wands, your glitter, your tap shoes and tutus and help us bubble this planet into a new orbit.







The time is now. The need has never been greater. And the bubbles seem to be expanding ... or is that just the result of a buoyant perspective?

How will you help the cause?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Fairy Magic!







Happy Valentine's Day!

One of the pleasures of parenting is being able to reconnect with the wonder of things through the eyes of a child. I am remembering the joy of absolute belief in miracles and magical happenings and now I have someone to share with me the fun of adding to that world.

Inspired by my Hawk medicine bundle and this post by a sister goddess in the circle, I had the idea to create Fairy bundles to celebrate this holiday of love. "What is a fairy bundle?" you may ask. Simply stated, it is a bundle of goodness you can carry in your purse, keep on your night stand or altar or - in Cowgirl's case - put under the bed for protection. It is a small parcel of items invoking the magic and the blessings of the fairies. And it is great fun to create!

Here is how I created my bundles - and really, anything goes.

I grabbed my collection of fabric scraps and picked out some fun material. For the outer wrapper I cut pieces of cloth measuring 7 by 10 inches. (You can make the bundles any size, you just want to have enough fabric to hold the items within and still fold up into a satisfying bundle shape.)






Starting with the long sides of each "wrapper" I folded the edge over 1/4 of an inch and then another 1/4 of an inch and pinned in place.






I used a zig zag stitch to sew the edges. After sewing all the long sides, I then repeated the 1/4 inch double fold on the short sides of each piece and sewed those in place. You could skip the sewing all together, although I worried about the edges of the fabric getting fraying from use. I am a novice sewer and decided to let all of the imperfections remain. I think the fairies were trying to send messages through my crazy stitching!

I then grabbed a second piece of contrasting fabric for the inner wrapper. These I did not sew, but left raw. You could use a variety of materials for the inside or even small pouches if you had some left over from jewelry or other craft piece. I eyeballed cutting these pieces - just made them smaller than the outer wrapper.







Now for the fun part - selecting the items to go inside. Cowgirl and I headed over the the New Age shop (she said the music they played reminded her of Kung Fu Panda) to pick out a crystal for each bundle. Cowgirl found some fetish charms on sale and wanted those for her bundle.






I already had on hand some seashells, feathers, and a tin of buttons which I decided to use. Small stones, bits of herbs, glass marbles are other items you could use. The great thing is anything placed inside a fairy bundle instantly becomes magical!






Our grocery store sells bulk herbs and for 28 cents I got a nice sized bag of lavender which I divided into smaller bundles, using fabric scraps and leftover yarn to tie shut.






After assembling the items, I simply rolled them up in the inner wrapper ...







And then carefully folded the outer wrapper to create an aesthetically pleasing bundle shape. I'm sure there are some fancy folding techniques that could be employed; I just made mine up.













I had cut some long, thin strips of fabric to use as ties for the bundle. You could also use colorful yarns and could add beads or charms to the outside tie if you wanted. Really, you can just raid the craft bins and see what inspires you!

VoilĂ ! - a fairy bundle to have and to hold from this day forward ...





Before sending my bundles off I will Reiki and smudge them to pack them with extra blessings and love.

Don't forget to make tags if you decide to make bundles as gifts. And be sure to let the recipient know, items inside are to be changed and added to however one feels fit. The Fairies added to Cowgirl's bundle as part of their Valentine's Day gift to her.







What would your bundle hold and why? Maybe you want to make a love bundle for the coming year. I can tell you this from experience: once you open your door and your heart to the fairies, they will never disappoint you. Their magic is all around us ... we just need to remember to see the world through the imagination of the child we once were ... and still are ...

Love and happiness to you from 2 fairy fans!








Wednesday, February 9, 2011

random acts of self-kindness





I've been feeling so heavy lately ... do you notice it? I mean heavy in the sense of my brow furrowed, deep into thought, seeing signs in the tortilla chips (not the Virgin Mary, mind you, just a blob looking like the snake-eating-an-elephant from The Little Prince.) I know, you are saying "Of course you feel heavy Lis, you are deep into labor and birthing your creative self."

Okay. Yeah. A little heavy with myself.

I was running errands after work (I loathe - in the way one loathes liver or Wham! - going on errands) and I passed by this sandwich and the thought bubbled up "you deserve a decent lunch." I get home late for lunch and usually end up scavenging for left-overs, snatching a meal where I can before dashing out the door to pick up Cowgirl. And I am notorious cheap when it comes to eating out - especially lunch which seems pricey for what you get. But I turned on my heel and went into the pseudo-green-healthy sandwich shoppe and ordered myself a veggie wrap to go.

Let me tell you, it tasted damn good! I am in the midst of a guerrilla attack by a cold virus (periods when I feel fine, then a condensed period of misery, followed by well and then a new way of symptoms attack) so I don't think it would take much to impress my taste buds, but it just felt like the healthy energy of the sprouts, avocado, greens and other minced bits went straight down to my toes and shot up to the tips of my hair. An injection of prana, pure prana.

I am so happy from this random act of self kindness that I realize I need to make this a regular practice. I am thick into The Artist's Way (although honestly, the minute I put the book down, I forget everything I read!) and besides Morning Pages (which I am doing and finding really helpful for dumping all my mental trash on a regular basis) the other key practice is called The Artist Date. It is meant to be a weekly event when you explore something that interests you or something that feeds your creativity. It is a play date with yourself. It is meant to be solo and meant to be scheduled.






So far, my two Artist Dates have been unscheduled, totally spontaneous adventures out into the snow with Cowgirl. So I've broken every rule! But if the function of the Artist Date is to refill my well of creativity, than what better mentor into creative, joyful play than a child?

I am not needing more structure, another item on my "to do" list; what I am needing is spontaneous action guided by intuition. I am working with Hawk Medicine which is all about cultivating connection to a higher wisdom and trusting the answers that come from within.

And I'm needing to lighten things up.

I am making a commitment to myself to honor the Artist Date but consider more as a act of random self-kindness. Staying alert and attentive for those moments when Hawk is guiding me to step out of my routine and nourish my spirit through play. Or, to use a word I've rediscovered, to regularly skive off from my grown-up schedule to tend to the whims of my inner child.






Today we worked on Valentine items (Cowgirl's box for school and some cards) and picked out fabric to use for making our own medicine pouches. We already have shells and feathers picked out and a trip to look for some crystals planned for Saturday.

I challenge you: practice a random act of self-kindness some time today. How does it make you feel?





Yeah ... I can see you smiling from here ... is that chocolate on your face as well?

(I apologize to any Wham! lovers ... in grad school I lived above a man named Martin who had the obnoxious habit of putting Jitter Bug on whenever he worked out ... usually late at night or early on a Saturday morning. Needless-to-say, I have a pavlovian response to any Wham! song.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

monday inspiration celebration: circle of support




It struck me the other day that what I am going through is intense labor as I give birth to my creative self. I should say, in case you haven't noticed the different between Cowgirl and myself, I have not gone through actual physical labor but this is how I image it might feel: moments of incredible euphoria, feeling empowered and acutely alert, awake and alive swinging wildly into moments of panic, intense discomfort, doubts and fear. I find myself clear and lucid and then withdrawing into isolation, quiet, and a kind of darkness where I rest and await the guidance that only comes with complete stillness.

My fearless painting practice is unlocking new doors within me; I am gaining insights into who I am and who I am choosing to become. There are days I want to crank up the music and dance wildly around the living room and other days I want to crawl into bed, into a cocoon.






Within all of this I am recognizing the importance of community and connection. I find myself leaning upon others when my energy and courage flag and then there are glorious moments of celebration when our practice carries me/us into a new phase, a new cycle. There is this sense of each of us bringing forth something new, tender, vulnerable and utterly amazing.

Where am I in this cycle? I am thinking I am in the transitional phase:

Women feel this stage in different ways. It can be intense and overwhelming. You may feel zoned in to your labour and only able to make abrupt demands. You may shout and feel impatient with everyone. You might feel shaky, shivery and sick. Or you may feel none of these things! (www.babycentre.co.uk)

Zoned, impatience, shaky ... check, check, check.






So I gather my circle of wise women - my creativity doulas and midwives - around me and ask them to cheer me on. Feeling drained today, I pulled out all the art mail I have received in the past few months (remember my pledge to return to snail mail? Not only have I been sending out mail, but unsolicited art mail has been making its way to me) and I was struck by my good fortune to have so much richness in my life now. This is my inspiration for today: all of you who show up every day to your lives and celebrate the gifts, the beauty, the magic around you and within you. I see the fruits of others labors and I am inspired to keep going.

I cannot talk about inspiration without mentioning this post by Kristen - words which are honey to my soul.






And today I received my hawk medicine bundle from Pixie Campbell. (For Pixie's great video on smudging and how to use the bundles, go here.) Hawk has always been a powerful totem for me and lately I've felt pulled to dive in deeper to his teachings. I have felt motivated to redo my altar which has 2 hawk feathers upon it and now this bundle. In fact, I have done a little energy cleansing for the Chinese New Year, smudging the entire house while Cowgirl rang our Tibetan bell. It was quite a party: the two of us singing out welcome and wishes for the angels, fairies, gnomes, goddesses, and spirits to bless our house.

So I guess I am readying everything for the eventual arrival of my baby self, my creative being. Cleansing, blessing, gathering friends and inspiration. Sounds like classic pre-birth behavior doesn't it? And there's this good news:

Transition means that you're nearly there. With support you can get through this stage. Thankfully, there's often a lull at the end of transition when the contractions pause and you and your baby can rest. (www.babycentre.co.uk)






Rest ... that sounds good right now!