Category Archives: Grace

Mojo Monday ~ Coming Home to Yourself

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Art by Michelle Fairchild
The spiritual life is about becoming more at home in your own skin.
~ Parker J. Palmer

As our Cosmic Cowgirl tribe of writers dives deeper in contemplating and wondering about topics like identity, perspective, vision and so on, I find greater clarity.  My latest article in Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine is called We Are Stardust.  It expresses my thoughts on the topic of Identity.   Here is an excerpt from the article:

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.


As Parker Palmer suggests, the aim of all spiritual paths, no matter their origin or the rigors of their practice, it to help us live more fully in the lives we are given.  In this way, whatever comes from a moment’s grace that joins us to our lives and to each other — this is spiritual.  For example, I was having coffee the other day in a cafe and suddenly, from the rain of noise around me, there arose a word of truth in the exposed voice of a stranger whose face I couldn’t even see.

I don’t know her context or her story or whom she was revealing herself to. I didn’t even turn around to see her face, because in that moment, there was a perfect beauty in our staying anonymous.  I only felt, simply and deeply, that without her ever knowing, her moment of pointed and unexpected truth made me more at home in my own skin.

The life of spirit is everywhere: in dust waiting for light, in music waiting to be heard, in the sensations of the day waiting to be felt.  Being spiritual is much more useful and immediate than the books about books would have us think.
  • 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.”

Mojo Monday ~ The Beauty In Making Mistakes

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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?

Mojo Monday ~ Shhhhh….

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Turn down 
the volume of demands
and listen
to the grace of
the small,
the silence,
the whisper.

~ Mary Anne Radmacher


Does the pace of the world ever seem frenetic to you?  

Do you ever find yourself struggling in order to keep up with emails, texts, blog posts, facebook posts, on-line classes, and phone messages?  

Do you ever find yourself filling every moment of your day with the many forms of communicating and social networking that are now possible?

While driving or at stoplights do you talk on the phone, text, check email, or surf the web?  

Do you ever feel inundated by too much information and too much stimulus?  Perhaps too many offers to participate in this or that teleconference or amazing life-changing workshop?

Do you ever take time to just sit?

Do you ever take time to just think?
Do you ever carve out quiet time?


Does the idea of quiet time seem far-fetched, because of the demands of your life?
Is quiet time something you long for or is it something you would dread?

This piece started to percolate in my mind after reading that a favorite author of mine by the name of Brene Brown was struggling with being on all the time.  She was finding herself checking emails or the web at stoplights.  She was filling every moment with communicating in some form or other. 
Just the thought of doing those things sounds crazy making to me.  I wondered, when does she get down time, quiet time, time to just think? It made me wonder how other people balance out being busy, with taking necessary time out for oneself?
Once a week, for work, I have an hour drive out of town and then I turn around and do it again in the afternoon to return home.  While the drive can sometimes get stressful due to driving conditions, for the most part, I use this time to simply listen to music and think thoughts.  I may come up with a new idea for an article.  I may ponder something.  I might imagine a new painting.  I may try to work out a problem in my mind.  The idea of using that time to communicate with others is not at all appealing. This for me is a perfect time to be unreachable.  


Is quiet time at all important?  Are we humans missing out on something if we fill our days with constant stimulation such as pinning pictures, reading status posts of friends and family, texting till our fingers are numb, talking on the phone at all hours, or signing up for every teleconference that hits our in-box?  

In wondering about this very thing I came across this quote by the Dalai Lama:

“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, 
we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”

Why would the Dalia Lama believe such a thing?  Would a violent free world really be the result of all the children meditating?  Would meditation really change them and our world that much?  

Cynthia Dawn,  a writer, children’s meditation facilitator, raw and vegan food enthusiast enthusiast, and co-creator of The Intention Tree Project, shares this about meditation:

“Meditation is a powerful adeptness for anyone and we are learning (remembering really) that when we have this modeled to us as children the reverberations are profound!
On a physical level, scientific studies have found that meditation:
* increases levels of immunity
* 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
On a mental and emotional level, experts have found that meditation:
* encourages a healthy sense of self
* promotes well-being and self-esteem
* increases focus, concentration and problem solving skills
* fosters awareness and creativity
* instills connection, understanding, and compassion
On a Universal level many believe that meditation is a large part of the solution for world peace. When we are at peace with ourselves and no longer fighting a physical, mental, or emotional war ~ we can be true peacemakers within our world.”
The sentence that really impacted me from above is:
 “When we are at peace with ourselves 
and no longer fighting a physical, mental, or emotional war ~ 

we can be true peacemakers
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.


Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. We all have monkey minds, Buddha said, with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for attention. Fear is an especially loud monkey, sounding the alarm incessantly, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong.
Buddha showed his students how to meditate in order to tame the drunken monkeys in their minds. It’s useless to fight with the monkeys or to try to banish them from your mind because, as we all know, that which you resist persists. Instead, Buddha said, if you will spend some time each day in quiet meditation — simply calm your mind by focusing on your breathing or a simple mantra — you can, over time, tame the monkeys. They will grow more peaceful if you lovingly bring them into submission with a consistent practice of meditation.



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




Mojo Monday ~ Relationships

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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.

The first is a book I received as a gift from a friend in the mail only a few days ago.  It is called The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.  Mark Nepo is the author and the book is designed so that the entries are dated and start with January 1st and ends with December 31st.  When I first received the book I read the current date and then went back to my birthday to see what message I would find there too.  

Synchronicity stepped in on the night of December 23rd.  I was taking a bath in an attempt to ease the horrible cramps and back pain I was experiencing.  Pain and not feeling one’s best can sometimes trigger other emotions and thoughts that are not the most positive or helpful.  In that frame of mind I was having some trust issues be re-stimulated.  On my way to the bath I had grabbed my new book.  Once in the hot water I flipped to the entry on December 23rd. 
Here is what I read:
A Surety of Roots
You didn’t come into this house
So I might tear off a piece of your life.
Perhaps when you leave,
You’ll take something of mine:
Chestnuts, roses, or a surety of roots. 
    Pablo Neruda
“Perhaps the most stubborn thing that keeps us from knowing love is distrust.  Certainly, we have more than enough reason in our world to be cautious, alert, and guarded against being hurt or taken advantage of.  But the fact remains that in spite of all the new and terrible stories that we pass on at parties, there is no other doorway into kindness and all its gifts but through the gentle risk to open ourselves, however slightly, and try.  The question we must ask, that I ask myself every day, is which is more debilitating: to be cut off from love or to be scarred by the pain of being hurt?
What made Neruda, such a great poet is the largeness of his heart, and through his large kindness, he suggests that giving heals and that until we step into that space between each other and try, nothing can happen.  But once we do, giving and receiving become the same, and we all grow stronger for going there together.”
  • 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.
I was a bit stunned that my thoughts about not trusting had been greeted by this very strong message that distrust keeps us from knowing love.  My heart and my head rolled this passage over and over again.  I knew there was great truth in this message and I thanked the Universe and Great Spirit for sending it to me. 
The second book that had also leapt out at me at the last minute is one called Naikan: Gratitude, Grace, and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection by Gregg Krech.   This is how the book begins in the Preface:
“In 1991 a movie was released called Defending Your Life and starring Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep.  The story line centered around several characters who died and were transported to a temporary location where a decision was made about their future.  The purpose of this place—which was a rather comfortable, almost resort-like city—was to give people who passed through a chance to watch film highlights of their lives.  They had a chance to defend their conduct and the choices they made while alive, and subsequently a final decision was made about their future.  They might be sent back to earth to ‘try again’ or, if their lives were generally laudable, they would ‘move on’ to some higher form of existence.

What I found most interesting about the film was the idea of stepping back and observing your life.  In 1989 I had the opportunity to do just that for the first time, at a center located amidst the rice paddies in rural Japan.  It was a Naikan center.  The work Naikan means literally looking inside.  In the fourteen days I stayed at the center I spent about fifteen hours per day watching the films of my life run across the screen of my mind’s eye.  Prior to this experience I had been to dozen of retreats and spiritual conference.  I had spent at least one week each year on a solo trip in the wilderness to simply be quiet in nature.  I had meditated in forests and at Zen monasteries for days and weeks at a time.  Yet I had never really stepped back from my life to simply see how I had been living.

The process used at the Naikan center was very structures.  I reflected on the relationships with nearly all the key people that had played an influential role in my life.  In each case I looked at three aspects of that relationship:  What had I received from that person.  What had I given to that person.  The troubles or difficulties I had caused that person.  I sat on Japanese-style cushions and faced a blank wall in order to limit outside distractions.  Except for the time it took to eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom, I did little else for two weeks.  In some ways I resembled the characters in the movie I have referred to, except that I had the opportunity to do this –fortunately—while I was still alive.

During my time at the Naikan center I had doubts.  Why spend time reviewing my past, when there was so much to do now?  Why spend time considering the troubles I was causing others when I was already striving so hard to be a good person…Notwithstanding my persistent questions and doubts, I persevered each day with the review of my personal history, as far back as I could remember.  As the days passed, I began to understand what was attractive and uncomfortable about Naikan.  Naikan involved self-examination; that is, we examine our own life, not the actions of others.  How often is our attention wasted on judging, criticizing, and correcting others while we neglect that examination and lessons of our own life?  While we can never know the actual experience of another, we know our own experience intimately.  While we can do little or nothing to control how others treat us, we can do much to control how we treat others.  And while we are often powerless to impose our choices on others, we make choices about how we shall live, moment to moment, day to day.  Examining one’s own life is profoundly sensible, though not necessarily comfortable.”
In a section called Intimate Attention author Gregg Krech has this to share:
Relationship as a Vehicle for Training
Henry David Thoreau knew how to live alone.  Really alone.  A few of us may set up solitary housekeeping in a parcel of unexplored wilderness, but the vast majority will choose, and be chosen by, intimate partners.  Such choices may be temporary, or…well, actually, temporary is your only option.  These relationships are the graduate school of self-development.  They provide us with the sharpest tools, the heaviest weights, and the thickest texts.  They push us to our edge, stretch us beyond our limits.  They may wing us on a pendulum from ecstasy and joy to the farthest reaches of pain and grief.”
Please Remind Me
By Gregg Krech
Please remind me of why I am here
when I am somewhere else.
When anger stirs
over unwashed dishes,
unkept promises,
and unpaid bills,
Please soften my heart
and remind me
of why I am here.
When frustration is triggered
by the same argument
for the hundredth time,
please tame my words,
deepen my breath,
and remind me of why I am here.
When my attention is drawn
like a magnet
to myself—
my needs,
my wants,
my comfort,
my pain—
please blink my mind
and allow my eyes to see
into the heart of another,
that I may attend to their needs
and bear their pain
and be dissolved
into the reason I am here.
I know that reason
Yet, so often,
I find myself somewhere else
and forget.
So please remind me.
Lastly I want to return to The Book of Awakening and share the passage from September 20th called Unconditional Love.
“Unconditional love is not so much about how we received and endure each other, as it is about the deep vow to never, under any condition, stop bringing the flawed truth of who we are to each other.
Much is said about the unconditional love today, and I fear that it has been misconstrued as an extreme form of ‘turning the other cheek,’ which to anyone who has been abused is not good advice.  However, this exaggerated passivity is quite different from the unimpeded flow of love that carries who we are.
In truth, unconditional love does not require a passive acceptance of whatever happens in the name of love.  Rather, in the real spaces of our daily relationship, it means maintaining a commitment that no condition will keep us from bringing all of who we are to each other honestly.
For example, on any given day, I might be preoccupied with my own needs, and might overlook or bruise what you need and hurt you.  But then you tell me and show me your hurt, and I feel bad, and you accept that sometimes I go blind to those around me.  But we look deeply on each other, and you accept my flaws, but not my behavior, and I am grateful for the chance to work on myself.  Somehow, it all brings us closer.
Unconditional love is not the hole in us that received the dirt, but the sun within that never stops shining.
    • 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.
    Unknown Author

    Mojo Monday ~ This is the Year of…

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    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. 

    A week ago when I pulled out the letter I had written to myself back in 2010 I knew immediately what my 2012 declaration would be and without hesitation I said to myself 2012 is the year of completion and new beginnings.  I love the clarity that I have this year, but don’t be disheartened if that is not the case for you.  It can actually be fun and interesting to still be in the place of figuring it out and exploring what you are wishing for to happen next. 
    As I write this Mojo Monday post I am realizing that I have not yet considered if there is something I wish to release and embrace this year.  The first thing that comes to mind is the fretting I have done over friendship these past few years.  I experienced some shifts in friendships that put me through a great deal of distress for a few years.  I think it has taken this much time to get to this place and makes it possible for me to say that I release those former connections with great love and I embrace knowing deep in my soul that though I am imperfect and may make mistakes I am a loving and good hearted friend who cares and loves deeply and never intentionally hurts others.
    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.  

    Consider what your heart and soul wishes for you in the new year.
    Join me in making your own declaration and then make the time to go through your own creative process of expressing that declaration. 

    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.

    Also is there something you wish to release and in turn embrace? 
    I hope you’ll share your new year declaration and your plans for releasing and embracing.   

    If you need time to think it through, explore it this week and come back and share what arises for you.

    One other great lesson I have learned is that there is great power in speaking aloud one’s intentions.  One can gain strength from sharing such things within a community or a circle.  

    I offer that this is a great place to be witnessed and heard.

    With Love and In Support of Your Intentions,
    Michelle (aka Red and Ida Shine!)


    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:

    http://cafeastrology.com/numerology2/

    http://www.tarot.com/numerology/getreport.php?feature=h-ln-numerology-prodlist&state=ENTRY&chartId=9&


    Mojo Monday ~ Happy 1st Birthday AND Happy Mother’s Day

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    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!
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    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.