Wielding the Healing Wand

Today in Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine
is my latest article called 

“At the end of your brush is the tip of your soul.”
~ Andrew Hamilton
Some of my mission here on planet mama earth is to shine a light on extending love and grace to ourselves.  I don’t have a magic wand that can heal others or make people love themselves.  My wand can only work on me.  The good news is that I am quite confident that everyone has such a wand.
Photo by Michelle Fairchild

Magic Wand photo by Michelle Fairchild
To read more come visit Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine.

Mojo Monday ~ Banging On the Doldrums

Banging On the Doldrums by Michelle Fairchild

It began as a word nerd alert. In an exchange with a friend the word “doldrums” was used. I found myself curious about where the word doldrums originated. So I looked it up. Then I found myself getting an image of a colorful art journal page with drums and the saying Banging on the Doldrums. That is how creativity can shift things. Just picturing that image was very amusing to me. 

Two days later I created this journal page.  She is indeed Banging On the Doldrums and the note below reads She was reminded of how creativity can shift things.

The topic of creativity has been much on my mind too, as I was working on my August article for Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine on that very topic.  My focus was on how creativity is a healing force and how it is an expression of our very souls and spirits.  

Is there something that is troubling you?  Is there something that inspires you right now?  In either direction one can use creativity to wonder and contemplate more deeply a subject.  Try drawing an image while thinking about a certain situation.  It can be random doodles or an image of the thing that you are thinking about.  Transforming thoughts and feelings into images can be very powerful and transformative.  Give it a try and see what happens.  

Mojo Monday ~ Express Yourself

Jack Kornfield, Buddhist author and teacher once wrote “I’ve been told the story of a six-year-old girl who asked her mother where she was going one afternoon.  The mother replies that she was headed for the university to teach her students how to draw and paint. ‘You mean they’ve forgotten?’ her daughter asked, amazed.  Many of us have forgotten how to give voice to our creativity.  And yet it is said that play —- our ability to let go, dance, sing, create — is one of the most wondrous expressions of our aliveness.”
Excerpts from the book by Nina Wise called A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life: Self Expression and Spiritual Practice for Those Who Have Time for Neither.

“Everyone is creative.  Creativity is our very nature.  But for many of us, the creative impulse has gone into hiding, ‘I can’t draw, I can’t sing, I can’t dance,’ we confess to each other, and we plant ourselves in front of the television for the evening. But the creative impulse that is at the core of all being remains robust within us.”

“Creativity is about having the courage to invent our lives – to concoct lovemaking games, cook up a new recipe, paint a kitchen cabinet, build sculptures on the beach and sing in the shower. Creativity is about our capacity to experience the core of our being and the full range of our humanness.  The question of how to become more creative is not about learning anything or even doing anything, but about allowing whatever arises to gain expression.  To do this, we must bypass the voice inside of us that says stop.  The censoring mind is clever and has an entire litany of reasons we must refrain from expressing ourselves: you are a bad dancer so sit back and watch while the skillful ones dance.  And you certainly can’t paint so don’t even try because you will embarrass yourself. You sing off-key and you can’t hold a rhythm – you will disturb everyone within earshot if you open your mouth.  And if you happen to disregard this sage advice, you will make a total fool of yourself and no one will ever love you or give you a job.  We obey this voice as if being guided by inner wisdom, but when we tune in, we hear a quieter voice calling out to us to express ourselves freely.  This is the voice that can liberate us.  If we listen and respond, our lives become rich with the pleasure creative freedom provides.”

“It is our nature to be free and it is our nature to express that freedom, spontaneously and without hesitation, through song, and dance, and painting, and poetry and prayer.  In the same way that the universe gives birth to uncountable shapes, forms, colors and beings in a grand panoply of flowing, changing manifestation, we too, are of the nature to give birth to myriad forms of expression.”
What are your thoughts regarding the excerpts from Nina Wise’s book?
Has someone you know ever stated I am not creative?  Did you respond?

Have you ever felt that you weren’t very creative?

This week if you hear that voice that says “stop” when you think about painting, dancing, writing or inventing a new recipe put your fingers in your ears and go “la la la la la” until you can’t hear it anymore and then proceed with wild abandon to create without judgement, to create just for the sake of creating. Liberate yourself! Set aside time to just play and let go.  See what happens when you give yourself permission to just create without a specific purpose in mind.  

What do you gravitate to first  – paints, crayons, scissors and glue?
As Greg Anderson so brilliantly put it
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. 

Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”

Nina Wise is known for her provocative and original performance works. Her pieces have garnered seven Bay Area Critics’ Circle Awards, and she has received, among other prestigious honors, three National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. Her written pieces have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Nina lives in San RafaelCalifornia.

Jack Kornfield is one of the leading Buddhist teachers in America. A practitioner for over 40 years, he is one of the key teachers to introduce mindfulness and vipassana meditation to the West. His approach emphasizes compassion, lovingkindness and the profound path of mindful presence, all offered in simple, accessible ways in his books, CD’s, classes and retreats.

Mojo Monday ~ The Many Forms of Creativity

From top left clockwise ~ Dia de Los Muertos Madonna painting, a glowing Owl Pumpkin,
Cosmic Skull Girl, and tasty Spiced Pumpkin Muffin Owls.

Creativity can express itself in many ways.  Yesterday my creativity had a chance to express itself via the culinary arts.  I baked a vegan pumpkin pie, then darling vegan spiced pumpkin muffin owls and followed that up with vegan pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon icing.  Today we had a family pumpkin carving party in the front yard and my parents even came from out of town to join in on the fun.  My husband’s abnormally large pumpkin turned into a child eating monster and my own overgrown pumpkin found its inner owl.  Yes there is a bit of a theme of pumpkins and owls carrying on in our neck of the woods.

What forms of creativity have you been expressing lately?

Next up this week is one of our family’s favorite holidays – Halloween!  We will be dressing up in costumes and I will be figuring out how to transform my face into that of a zebra.  Wish me luck!  Last year I was a parrot, the year before that our whole family was decked out as Sugar Skulls for a special Dia de Los Muertos gathering and art show.  Other forms I have taken in the past have been as a Killer Bee, Fire (with my husband as Ice), a Pink Flamingo, the Ocean, Half Devil – Half Angel, Dolly Parton, a male biker and the list goes on.  Halloween has a long tradition in my family and my mom who celebrates her birthday on October 31st, always dresses up as a witch, because she says it is her true alter ego.

Do you ever dress up for Halloween?
If yes, do share about your costumes, past and present.
Photos sharing is highly encouraged too!

I love the creativity that Halloween inspires in people.  Costumes can be such a fun way to express oneself, to get wild, and try out playing a character or new role.  Costume parties are often the funnest kind, as people who might normally be shy or reserved, find themselves being more extroverted and free, because for a night that can try out being someone or something different.

From top left clockwise ~ Fire, Killer Bee, Sugar Skulls, Biker, Cat Woman,
Fire and Ice, Pink Flamingo, Parrot and Kitties

Fashion and the clothing we choose to wear are also another way we can get creative and express ourselves.  Clothing can change the way we move.  Clothing can change the way we see ourselves.  Clothing and outfits can even make us feel differently, if we let it.  

Some people may find dressing creatively to be intimidating and may not want to draw so much attention to themselves.  In our Cosmic Cowgirl Tribe we have encouraged members to at least try on various outfits or costumes to release their inner Legendary self.  Our amazing Chief Laughing Cloud has even written about how one day she realized that she was being overtaken by the “gray” and set her intention to pull out her more sassy and wild clothing in order to spark creativity and a bit of rebellion.  

Do you ever put on an outfit that makes you feel different?   

Sometimes I get into a clothing rut.  My creativity lags and I just go through the motions of picking out clothes to wear to work or on the weekends.  However, I have noticed that if I my creativity is Sparking, or if I remember to let my clothing express my inner creativity, or even my inner wild woman, well those are the days I am reaching for long feathered earrings, jeans with glitter, tears and writing on them, or high black boots and a dress with a slit up the side.  

I know that we women can get very self critical about our appearances and our bodies and that we can let this restrict our clothing, fashion and costume choices.  As a woman who has been a variety of sizes, from very thin when I worked out 7 days a week for three hours every day, to very overweight, and lots of places in between, I must tell you that size does not matter.  It really doesn’t.  Even in my larger times when I dress fun and fashionably I have still received compliments.  The way we carry ourselves, the way we see ourselves, the way we strut and hold our heads high, is so much more influential than some realize.  If you can see the beauty, and the sexy in yourself, that is going to shine out into the world.

No matter our size all of us women also face growing older, if we are so lucky in this life.  We will see our bodies change.  Perhaps gravity will take its toll and certain parts will begin to sag, wrinkle, and change.  We may adjust to such changes gracefully, or we may choose to wage a battle against it with some tucks and tightening here and there to firm things up a bit.  

Whichever route we take though we will still have choices on how we choose to present ourselves in the world.  Some women as they grow older state they begin to feel invisible.  They look around and see a media world obsessed with youth and beauty.  It is refreshing when you see someone take notice of style and beauty that is of a more mature nature.  Photographer Ari Seth Cohen roams the streets of New York looking for the most stylish and creative older folks.  He share this: “Respect your elders and let these ladies and gents teach you a thing of two about living life to the fullest.  Advanced Style offers proof from the wise and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age.”

You can visit Ari’s Advanced Style web site by clicking here.  

Here is a taste of some of the photographs he has taken.

There is also an Advance Style documentary about the women he has been photographing in New York and this is the very fun and short film trailer to inspire you to get more creative in your own closet!

Mojo Monday ~ Whimsy In the Garden

There is something so refreshing and fun about creativity and whimsy in nature.  I spotted a fun photo on Pinterest and followed the link back to the creator of the above signs.  The website where this image can be found is called Fresh Picked Whimsy and the blogger is artist Lori.  Her original post about how this sign came into existence can be found here.

What I loved seeing is how this project started off with a creative idea and a pile of old wood.  The photo to the left shows the pile of unused wood that was just waiting for a creative artist to come along.  

The simplicity of taking what is already readily available and turning it into an adorable garden art piece is brilliant.  

Look how simple it was to create in the following images.  First pick out some pieces. Next paint them.  

Lastly, add locations that have meaning to your life.  If you want to add the distance, simply look it up on google maps or some other on-line mapping program.  Have fun with the lettering. Lori did a beautiful job on these by using white and black to create some dimension to the letters.  I also loved a suggestion on Pinterest that stated you could also include dates for when you visited these various places on the back.  

What are you waiting for, go forth and create whimsy!

Mojo Monday ~ Lissa Rankin on The Shocking Truth About Your Health

“Promoting health without encouraging others to seek wholeness is an exercise in futility.  Not until we realize that our bodies are mirrors of our interpersonal, spiritual, professional, sexual, creative, financial, environmental, mental, and emotional health will we truly heal.”

– Lissa Rankin
I received an email from writer and artist Sark in which she excitedly shared the following:
So often what comes out of scientific studies can be confusing, conflicting, or downright scary.  Well, today I heard something FABULOUS – straight from science!

My dear friend, Dr. Lissa Rankin of OwningPink.com – a brilliant, creative and succulent Medical Doctor – has found scientific evidence to prove that creative health is every bit as important to your body as good nutrition, daily exercise, and regular check-ups.

It supports what I’ve taught for YEARS – expressing yourSELF creatively isn’t just some fun luxury pastime. It’s vital to living a healthy and joyful life!

Sark then went on to encourage other to watch Lissa Rankin present at a TED talk.  I had heard of Lissa Rankin and I think I had even visited her web site, but watching her talk on health was really powerful.  I also happened to love that she encourages people to live “authentic lives full of mojo.”  Gotta love that mojo!
Here is an introduction to Lissa Rankin as seen on the TED Talk web site ~ “Lissa Rankin, MD is an OB/GYN physician, author, keynote speaker, consultant to health care visionaries, professional artist, and founder of the women’s health and wellness community OwningPink.com. Discouraged by the broken, patriarchal health care system, she left her medical practice in 2007 only to realize that you can quit your job, but you can’t quit your calling. This epiphany launched her on a journey of discovery that led her to become a leader in the field of mind/body medicine, which she blogs about at OwningPink.com and is writing about in her third book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013).

She teaches both patients and health care professionals how to make the body ripe for miracles by healing the mind and being healthy in all aspects of life, not just by promoting healthy behaviors like good nutrition, exercise, and adequate sleep, but by encouraging health and authenticity in relationships, work, creative expression, spirituality, sexuality, finances, and living environment. She is leading a revolution to feminize how health care is received and delivered by encouraging collaboration, fostering self-healing, reconnecting health care and spirituality, empowering patients to tap into the mind’s power to heal the body, and encouraging women not to settle for being merely well, but to strive for living vital, joyful, authentic lives full of “mojo.”

When not spreading the word, she chills out, paints, does yoga, and hikes in Marin County, CA with her husband and daughter.”

Learn more about Lissa Rankin on her web site called Owning Pink and without a doubt watch her Ted talk below regarding The Shocking Truth About Your Health.
“I believe that true healing lies in changing your beliefs and tapping into your inner healer.  I also believes that you can’t hand your power over to a doctor, therapist, coach, or other practitioner in order to live a truly vital life. As a patient, you are an equal partner in the seat of honor at the healing round table, where your voice must be heard.”  -Lissa Rankin, MD

Once you watch the video share your thoughts. 

Mojo Monday ~ The Invitation

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.  ~Kahlil Gibran
Have you ever read something, a book or a poem, that made an immediate impact on you?  In the year 2000 I was first introduced to the writing of Oriah Mountain Dreamer.  Someone I knew handed me a copy of her poem The Invitation.  Back then I heard the false rumors, that still circulate today, which is that this poem had been written by a Native American elder. What I later learned is that Oriah is a woman who was raised in a small community in Northern Ontario.  Her web site shares that Oriah’s family encouraged her to bring her questions and explorations to the Christian tradition they espoused. At home in the wilderness she was drawn to and at home in the ceremonies and earth-based teachings of the First People’s, eventually teaching and sharing what she learned. Her daily practice includes ceremonial prayer, yoga, meditation and writing. A graduate of Ryerson University’s social work program (Toronto) and a student of Philosophy at the University of Toronto she has facilitated groups, offered classes and counselled individuals for over thirty-five years. The mother of two grown sons, Oriah lives in Toronto, Canada.  You can read about how her name came into being on her website here: http://www.oriahmountaindreamer.com/
It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.
It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.
By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved
Years later I read her books What We Ache For: Creativity and the Unfolding of the Soul, as well as The Dance: Moving to the Deep Rhythms of Your Life.

Here is an excerpt from What We Ache For:

“I experience the greatest resistance to writing when I am beginning a particular piece, writing a new poem or short story or starting a new book.  As the day and time I have set aside to begin approaches, I feel a strange but familiar dread, a slight tension in my chest, a barely perceptible agitation in my arms and legs. If I sit with this sense of uneasiness, I discover a wide range of not particularly unique or fascinating fears: the fear that I have nothing wrothwhile to say; the fear that this time I will not be able to find the end of the thread  that will take me into an effortless flow of words; the fear that the writing will simply be bad–unclear, uninspired, awkward, tedious.  But beneath all these is the fear that the creative process will affect me in some unpredictable way, requiring changes in my life that will be at best uncomfortable and at worst truly risky.  This latter fear is probably the strongest, and it has a basis in experience.  Creative work, because it cannot be separated from our spirituality, inevitably connects us to that which is larger than us, and experiencing the sacred center of life can create a shift in perspective, can bring new insights and understandings that demand something of us.”

Here is an excerpt from The Dance:

The Dance
I have sent you my invitation,
the note inscribed on the palm of my hand by the fire of living.
Don’t jump up and shout, “Yes, this is what I want! Let’s do it!”
Just stand up quietly and dance with me.
Show me how you follow your deepest desires,
spiraling down into the ache within the ache,
and I will show you how I reach inward and open outward
to feel the kiss of the Mystery, sweet lips on my own, every day.
Don’t tell me you want to hold the whole world in your heart.
Show me how you turn away from making another wrong without abandoning yourself when you are hurt and afraid of being unloved.
Tell me a story of who you are,
and see who I am in the stories I live.
And together we will remember that each of us always has a choice.
Don’t tell me how wonderful things will be . . . some day.
Show me you can risk being completely at peace,
truly okay with the way things are right now in this moment,
and again in the next and the next and the next. . .
I have heard enough warrior stories of heroic daring.
Tell me how you crumble when you hit the wall,
the place you cannot go beyond by the strength of your own will.
What carries you to the other side of that wall, to the fragile beauty of your own humanness?
And after we have shown each other how we have set and kept the clear, healthy boundaries that help us live side by side with each other, let us risk remembering that we never stop silently loving those we once loved out loud.
Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance,
the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart.
And I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet and the stars overhead make my heart whole again and again.
Show me how you take care of business
without letting business determine who you are.
When the children are fed but still the voices within and around us
shout that soul’s desires have too high a price,
let us remind each other that it is never about the money.
Show me how you offer to your people and the world
the stories and the songs you want our children’s children to remember.
And I will show you how I struggle,
not to change the world, but to love it.
Sit beside me in long moments of shared solitude,
knowing both our absolute aloneness and our undeniable belonging.
Dance with me in the silence and in the sound of small daily words,
holding neither against me at the end of the day.
And when the sound of all the declarations of our sincerest
intentions has died away on the wind,
dance with me in the infinite pause before the next great inhale
of the breath that is breathing us all into being,
not filling the emptiness from the outside or from within.
Don’t say, “Yes!”
Just take my hand and dance with me.
© Oriah Mountain Dreamer, from the book The Dance, HarperONE, SanFrancisco, 2001

Questions to reflect upon from Oriah in the Prelude to The Dance.
What if it truly doesn’t matter what you do but how you do whatever you do?

How would this change what you choose to do with your life?

What if you could be more present and openhearted with each person you met if you were working as a cashier in a corner stone, or as a parking lot attendant, than you could if you were doing a job you think is more important?

How would this change how you want to spend your precious time on this earth?

What if your contribution to the world and the fulfillment of your own happiness is not dependent upon discovering a better method of prayer or technique of meditation, not dependent upon reading the right book or attending the right seminar, but upon really seeing and deeply appreciating yourself and the world as they are right now?

How would this affect your search for spiritual development?

What if there is no need to change, no need to try to transform yourself into someone who is more compassionate, more present, more loving or wise?

How would this affect all the places in your life where you are endlessly trying to be better?

What if the task is simple to unfold, to become who you are already are in your essential nature–gentle, compassionate, and capable of living fully and passionately present?

How would this affect how you feel when you wake up in the morning?

What if who you essentially are right now is all that you are ever going to be?

How would this affect how you feel about your future?

What if the essence of who you are and always have been is enough?

How would this affect how you see and feel about your past?

What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I infrequently want to be the person I really am?

How would this change what you think you have to learn?

What if becoming who and what we truly are happens not through striving and trying but by recognizing and receiving the people and places and practices that offer us the warmth of encouragement we need to unfold?

How would this shape the choices you make about how to spend today?

What if you knew that the impulse to move in a way that creates beauty in the world will arise from deep within and guide you every time you simply pay attention and wait?

How would this shape your stillness, your movement, your willingness to follow this impulse, to just let go and dance?
“And enjoy this last piece of wisdom from Oriah
I’ve done enough interviews you’d think I would have some snappy, articulate answer prepared, a concise and profound or witty comment ready for the moment. But no matter how many times it comes, I never seem prepared. Maybe it’s because I don’t think of myself as having “A Message.” As Wavy Gravy said, I’m just another bozo on the bus, albeit one that likes to reflect on and write about the journey.

So lately, at the end of interviews, with only moments remaining, this is the response that arises from the request to offer one last essential thing:

Life is messy. Accept this. It’s okay to have a plan, just don’t focus on it. Things aren’t likely to go according to plan. Focus on what you need to do next, right now. Pay attention to what has real value for you at the level of your body-heart-self- the people, places, activities and practices that help you feel truly alive, that support your ability to be present and kind. If there’s something calling to you, turn toward it and start walking. It may not lead where you think it will, but make a place in all of the wonderful chaos of life to listen deeply to the voice at the center of your being and pay attention to what it tells you. Life is short and messy. Don’t postpone living until life gets neater or easier or less frantic or more enlightened. There’s a “catch” to the popular admonishment to “live in the Now.” It’s that the only way to be in the Now is to be Here, in the life and the body you have, and in the world we share, right now (not with the body or the world we hope to someday have or imagine we used to have.) This is it. And it will change. Choose life in all the small ways you can, every day.”