Photo taken by Michelle Fairchild ~ Art in Nature taken on 12.26.18
Can you wrap your mind around the reality that both you and I are literally made of stardust? How does an identity of being made of stars feel when you try it on? Do you stand a little taller? Does it blow your mind, just a little, or maybe a lot? Does it make you want to swagger or maybe just stare up at the night sky and say “Why hello there my friend, I had no idea we were related?”
In next months article about Perspective I share my suspicion that the one perspective at the core of them all is the one we have of ourselves. What I know is that there is a theme, a thread of connection, in my writing. I feel a calling to shine a light and offer up ideas and tools on how we can heal our wounds and really learn to be a guest in our own hearts, and truly love ourselves. I also believe as the quote at the end of this posts suggests “Each time you remember the Truth of who you are, you bring more light into the world.”
This weeks Mojo Monday is about Coming Home to Yourself. It is about as the opening quote by Parker J. Palmer states “…becoming more at home in your own skin.”
Today I share with you an excerpt from Mark Nepo’s book entitled The Book of Awakening Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have. Mark even includes several grounding practices at the end.
“Anything that removes what grows between our hearts and the day is spiritual. It might be the look of a loved one stirring their coffee as morning light surprises their groggy eyes. It might be the realization while watching a robin build its nest that you are only a temporary being in this world. It might be a fall on ice that reminds you of the humility of your limitations.
- Center yourself, and as you breathe, realize that your spirit fills your life the way your ones and blood fill your hand.
- As you breathe, realize that your life fits the world the way your warm and living hand fits a glove.
- As you breathe, feel your spirit fill your skin and feel your skin fit the world.”
If you are familiar with author Oriah Mountain Dreamer you might be surprised to learn that once upon a time she doubted if she would ever become a published writer. This is the woman who wrote the piece called The Invitation, that later became a book by the same title. Oriah shares in her book What We Ache For: Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul the story of attending a writing workshop, and how after having her writing torn to pieces over the course of several days, and hearing how few people will ever succeed at writing, left the workshop feeling deflated and almost convinced she should throw in the towel. Yet writing called to her soul and she picked herself back up and continued to follow that calling.
It was her determination and an internal pull to continue to write that propelled her forward. She explains in her book What We Ache For how a writer will write, a dancer will dance, an artist will paint or sculpt, the musician will make compose, the photographer will take photos and so on. They will do these things over and over again. Here is how she expands on the subject:
“Sometimes we use the same stories and images, sounds and movements. Sometimes we work on the same themes using different stories and images, sounds and movements. Sometimes we create the unexpected and never repeated. Sometimes we create between interviews and publicity tours. More often we create between dental appointments and taking our children to hockey practice. But we do our creative work. It’s how we learn how to do the creative work. And sometimes we become tired and discouraged. Sometimes we do not want to see the same image emerge on the canvas, find the same theme surface in the story we are writing. Sometimes we are afraid we will never be able to write or paint or compose or dance or film the wholeness or beauty or truth we ache to produce. And in these moments we take ourselves out into the world and let our sexuality, our love of the sensual beauty of this physical life, and our spirituality, our experiences of the truth we ache for, find us and rekindle our passion to create. We let the dance between the world and our imaginations move us. And we begin again, painting or writing or composing moving or photographing or filming. It’s how we dip down into that well of creative potential and weave a story or create an image or find just a single phrase of melody that takes the breath away. It’s how we pray, how we participate in in life. Over and over again.”
Oriah also recounts a great story about John Cougar Mellencamp. She shares how she heard him being interviewed on the radio and described what she heard this way:
“Mellencamp said that people generally fail in creative endeavors because they assume that great artists produce great works of art from the moment they begin. He postulated that for every masterpiece Renoir produced he has painted dozens if not hundreds of paintings that were just not very good. As a composer, Mellencamp had realized that he had to be willing to compose literally thousands of bad songs, songs that were hardly worth singing and certainly not worth recording, if he wanted to write one great song. Mellencamp pointed out that when an artist puts his or her work out into the world it appears to emerge fully formed. Those who received the completed work, the piece deemed worthy of sharing, hav eno idea how long a process was involved, how many previous incarnations hit the trash can or were painted or recorded over.”
Oriah shares that we have to be willing to keep at it, to learn from the doing. If we want to learn how to write or paint or do any form of creative work, we have to be willing to do it over and over and over again, even if the results are not what we want. Oriah shares how she was at first horrified when a respected writer advised her at workshop to lower her standards. She shares that while for a perfectionist this is tough, it is necessary advice, because “Nothing stops the creative flow and obstructs the only path to learning to create – repeated trial and error – like being wedded to doing it perfectly…and nothing frees up the flow, opens the door to the learning that can come only with repeated experience, like lowering your standards, giving yourself permission to write the worst possible drivel that has ever hit the page.”
Lastly Oriah also shares this piece of wisdom that was told to her years ago in a dream. An old man who she had seen in her dreams for many years smiled and said to her, “Do not confuse what you do with who you are, Oriah. You are not a writer, although you may at times write. You are life unfolding in human form, an awareness within which writing, along with many other things –eating, sleeping, making love, walking in the sun, feeling sad or glad –arise. There is no writer, only writing.” She says that this dream led her to this revelation:
“This idea frees us from the sometimes oppressive notion that we make the creative work happen. The human neurological system and awareness is but one of the places where creative work arise and through which it happens. Thinking of it this way, we can let the creative work be whatever it is. We can arrive at our desks or studios, our journals or easels or keyboards or cameras, excited to see what might happen and content to let it be what it is, to repeat the process over and over. This perspective can keep us from viewing creative work as a means to an end, as something with a hope-for outcome, and help us see it rather as an end in itself.”
Here are some questions to consider:
Today I am will to do __________________________ badly.
Today I will lower my standards in how I….
I do ______________ badly, but I do it because….
Prior to beginning this post I decided I would create a 2013 word art piece. I committed to just whipping it out and then posting it, no matter what I thought of it when I finished. I toast to us all trying new things, making mistakes, creating for the sake of creating, accepting imperfection, loving the process and the journey, rather than just the end products.
My words for 2013 are Wonder, Wow, Love, Health, Grace, Peace, Breath, Action, Courage and Mystery.
What words might you want to claim and hold close this year?
* prevents and/or reduces cancer and autoimmune disorders
* improves hyperactivity and attention deficit disorders
* alleviates respiratory disorders and digestive problems
* reduces the severity of asthma and panic attacks
* promotes well-being and self-esteem
* increases focus, concentration and problem solving skills
* fosters awareness and creativity
* instills connection, understanding, and compassion
and no longer fighting a physical, mental, or emotional war ~
within our world.”
I also came across this report about meditation in public schools:
“A University of Michigan study concludes that two, ten-minute meditation sessions per day in a public school setting reduces stress in children and teens and promotes emotional stability. Participants within the study group were found to exhibit less verbal aggression, anxiety and loneliness. Based on this study, a growing partnership of Detroit area parents, teachers and physicians are now calling for schools around the country to offer meditation breaks each day. ‘It wouldn’t be difficult,’ a spokesperson said, ‘and it requires no expensive equipment, no special outfits or footwear.’ Since meditation is not a religion, proponents claim that meditation would be an appropriate stress reliever in the schools.”
It seems that with meditation or even just the practice of getting quiet regularly, allows you to center yourself.
BJ Gallagher at the Huffington Post wrote a brief post titled Buddha: How to Tame Your Monkey Mind that explains more.
Do you long for more peace in your heart and mind?
Are there things that feel unsettled for you?
Do you feel content and happy most of the time?
Do you have time in your life to just be, to dream, to imagine, to just breathe?
What would it really take for you to start a meditation practice of your own?
What would it take to simply ensure that you get quiet time regularly?
“If we have not quiet minds, outward comfort will do no more for us than a golden slipper on a gouty foot.”
~ John Bunyon
“We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly…spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.”
~ Susan L. Taylor
This Christmas evening I sit with two books in front of me. Both have some elements I felt called upon to share. Both have to do with relationships.
- Center yourself, and bring to mind three small gifts you are will to give away. They may be tangible or symbolic or gestures of kindness.
- Wrap each gently in your breathing.
- Bring these gifts with you into your day.
- Before you come home, give them away.
- Center your self and consider a relationship in which you have recently endured some pain in the name of love.
- As you inhale deeply, consider the conditions that keep your pain unexpressed.
- As you exhale deeply, consider ‘being unconditional’ as a bringing forth from within, rather that the enduring of what comes from without.
- Enter your day and consider ‘bringing forth who you are’ in the name of love.
In October of 2008 I attended my first Cosmic Cowgirl event. It was the Bountiful Conference and really I had no idea what attending that one conference would lead to and how it would alter my future. Now it wasn’t like everything fell into perfect place and I immediately began to follow my true purpose. There were some bumps along the way, in fact on my 40th birthday in April of 2009 some news made me feel that my world was crashing down around me and there were some very tough days from that point forward. Yet, even through that year, which was one of my own dark nights of the soul, Cosmic Cowgirls was one of the things that sustained me. It was a combination of both the amazing women I had met, but also just knowing that something like Cosmic Cowgirls could even exist. I was sustained by knowing that there were women from around the country and even overseas, who were connecting and creating a circling tribe full of artistic, creative, passionate, loving, inspiring, kick-up-their-boots hootin’ and hollerin’ kick-ass wild women.
I have learned so much from the classes I have taken with Cosmic Cowgirls. One of the biggies is about the power of intention. In 2010 as things in my life were healing and as I delved back into participating more with Cosmic Cowgirls I attended the member conference and then I took the class called A Year of Great Promise. Meeting in person with some sister Cosmic Cowgirls was good for the soul and during our time together we contemplated what we wanted to declare for that year. What I ended up declaring for myself was that 2010 was the Year of Passionately Embracing My Soul’s Creative Calling. We also shared something we were going to release and my personal declaration was “I release perfection and embrace myself with Grace and Love.” We created collages and special containers to hold our dreams and goals for ourselves for the year. The course called A Year of Great Promise was really powerful and by the time the course ended I had about a 15 page document that detailed my vision for myself and the life I want to lead.
|The art collage I created in 2010.|
Somehow in the beginning of 2011 I did not make a statement for the year and now I see that I was pressing forward with continuing as I did in 2010 to embrace my creative calling. I joined the Cosmic Cowgirls 6 month long Leading A Legendary Life course in 2011, which was a big dream for me. Again the work completed led me to feel more confident in my artistic abilities and to gain more clarity on the personal legend I am creating.
|My letter I wrote to myself in 2010.|
Before I bid 2011 goodbye I will write myself a letter and I will create a new piece of art that will represent my intentions for the new year.
Maybe you want to create a collage or paint the vision you hold for yourself.
Another possibility is to write a poem or take some photographs that capture your intentions.
If you need time to think it through, explore it this week and come back and share what arises for you.
I offer that this is a great place to be witnessed and heard.
Some other things to explore as you ponder your dreams and goals:
Oprah’s January issue that is just about to hit the stands has a great article by Martha Beck called You Can See Clearly Now. She takes readers through a clarifying process of really determining what one wants. She breaks it down into the four P’s: Pushback, Possibilities, Preferences and Pinpointing. In the simplest terms Pushback involves figuring out what you don’t want. Martha describes it as the “bitch and moan” portion that allows you to figure out that you no longer what to do such and such or no longer want to be with so and so. The next step of Possibilities involves beginning to use your imagination to see past what is no longer working for you. She describes Preferences as being the place where you start to notice which possibilities leave you feeling intrigued, curious, and a bit lighter. When you get to the Pinpoint part this is when you are finally reaching clarity on exactly what you want. You are envisioning it and can then set your intentions on achieving it.
There is a great book called Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. I was given this book a several years ago by the fost-adoption agency I have worked for for nearly 8 years now. When you buy the book new there is a sealed envelope in the back that when opened provides you with a key to enter into an on-line personality test. I was really blown away by the accuracy of the results. The exam identifies your strengths and can be a tool for some people to use in seeking their path in life.
Lastly for fun you can always check your numerology and see what personal year you happen to be leaving and which one you are about to gain entry to in 2012. Supposedly we go through 9 year life cycles. 2011 was a 9 year for me which means I am at the end of a cycle. Entering into a 1 year in 2012 means I am embarking on a new cycle. A common description of a 9 year is that this is your year to finish up all unfinished business, to clean house and make room for new things. In short the 1 year is described as follows: You are starting a new nine year Epicycle. Everything you do now will affect your future. Do not hold back the inner force of creation. Be direct, daring, bold. You will have more confidence and determination this year, particularly in comparison with last year, which was a time of letting go. This year represents a time of birth. It’s a time to take charge and to apply yourself to your dream.
Two sites that offer free numerology readings can be found here:
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday dear Mojo Monday!
Happy Birthday to you!
Mojo Monday was born in May 2010, so we are celebrating her 1st Birthday today. She has taught me a number of things during her first year of life. (Children tend to do that!)
She taught me that when you have a dream or goal that you need to set aside the time to do the work to reach those dreams and goals. For example if you want to be a writer you have to write. Thinking about being a writer or talking about being a writer some day will not move you very far towards your goal. You have to actually write.
She taught me more about getting my joy from the creating and the journey, not from the responses I get (or don’t get) to what I created or wrote. There are important lessons to be learned about the importance of internal approval rather than external approval.
She provided wonderful opportunities to meet, interact and get to know better more of the brilliant and creative Cosmic Cowgirls on the Rodeo, where I also post my Mojo Monday discussions.
She showed me that commitment and applied discipline to a regular practice feels good and can build one’s confidence to say “YES” to other opportunities.
Here’s to you Mojo Monday!
Mojo Monday also has another VERY EXCITING announcement to make. Starting this month there will a new writer joining me. I am thrilled that Cosmic Cowgirl Steph Cowling who currently lives in Brooklyn, New York will be bringing her brilliance, wit and wisdom to the weekly campfires. She and I will be greeting you on alternating weeks. Steph has been a Sparking leader and also hosts the Wild Women Story Gathering site with fabulous Jenafer Joy. They are currently leading the group through the book Women Who Run With the Wolves. If you are interested in joining the reading group check it out here. She will certainly be bringing us a great deal of thoughtful and inspirational posts in the coming months.
In a book called Naikan: Gratitude, Grace, and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection by Gregg Krech I came across a phenomenal section on Mother’s Day. Seeing as how Mother’s Day is on this upcoming Sunday, May 8th I wanted to share with you his wisdom and touching suggestion to write your mom a heartfelt letter of gratitude.
Before the author gets to his own touching letter he does start at a different end of the spectrum regarding the parental relationship: “Mother, you never bothered to tell me you loved me. You never loved me for myself. You just wanted me to fulfill your own unfulfilled dreams. You weren’t there for me when I needed you. You only paid attention to me when I got good grades in school.”
The author continues “These comments are characteristic of those of us who have searched the depths of our souls to get in touch with our anger at our mothers, encouraged by an army of talk-show hosts, authors, recovery programs, and therapists, all helping us take an honest look at our childhoods and then take aim at our moms. Of course, we’ll take time out on Mother’s Day to send a card, make a phone call, or offer a small gift to the woman, who among other things, brought us into the world. But this small detail, and many others, are lost or forgotten amidst an array of people and programs who see mom as just another casualty on the road to self-realization and self-esteem. Of course, mothers aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. They make foolish choices. They act selfishly and lose their temper. Some of them abandon and abuse their children. But before we abandon them, it might be wise to review the record.
My first serious attempt to do that came in 1989 when I spent two weeks at a a Naikan center near Kuwana, Japan, reflecting on my entire life. For more than a day I did nothing but reflect on my relationship with my mother, year by year. What had she given me during my childhood? Memories came slowly at first, and were somewhat vague. But from time to time a vivid image would surface of her making me a bologna and cheese sandwich for my lunch box, or washing my muddy Little League baseball uniform, or sitting down and playing the piano with me. Some of my reflections on my mom involved calculations: How many times did she change my dirty diapers? How many meals did she cook for me? How many loads of laundry did she wash?…Much of what is required of mothers is not exciting: laundry, dishes, diapers, sitting on a playground bench and watching your son climb up and own monkey bars. It is precisely because of the undramatic nature of these services that they are overlooked, forgotten, or taken for granted. They don’t get discussed in therapy. They aren’t a common subject of self-help books. They don’t appear as a central theme in the TV sitcom. But when we reflect on our lives and our relationships to our moms, it’s essential to remember these acts of service for one very important reason: they happened.
By the time I completed my two-week stay at the Naikan center my relationship with my mom was forever changed. It’s not that I became a model son or built her a home on the Riviera. It’s just that my memory was a bit more complete and my image of her was different. I could rarely talk with her on the phone without remembering some of the excavated memories from Japan. And those memories included my own mistreatment of her as a child and adolescent. They included my own ingratitude toward her for what she had done for me.”
“…there was one woman who got me started as a seedling and made sure I was firmly rooted until I could transplant myself. She deserves to be remembered for all the tedious, unexciting things she did for me. As my way of honoring your service, Mom, I plan to fold some laundry today.”
What might you do today to honor your mom?
Are you feeling inspired to write her a heartfelt letter for Mother’s Day? Please share it if you feel inclined to do so.
You could also write her a poem or paint her something. If you create something come back and share a photo.
Here is a scrapbook page that includes a letter to my mom and a sassy photo of the two of us back in the summer of 1996. It also includes words that I feel describe her. This particular photo was taken on a day that we had gone to a fair and had our faces painted. We later went out dancing that night, with our face paint still on I might add.