Category Archives: Shiloh Sophia McCloud

Wielding the Healing Wand

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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 ~ What and Who Inspires You?

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Art by Donald Crew from the book Freight Train

If I ask you what or who inspires you, do answers immediately come streaming forth or does it make you sit and ponder?  Just last night and this morning I felt like I was on the freight train of inspiration.  Even just now as the words “freight train of inspiration” appeared in my mind and then on the page I thought hmmmm…I should go google that term and see what images pop up.  Well it appears that no one has quite coined that term yet, at least according to google, but I did find this wonderful rainbow image from a children’s book called Freight Train by Donald Crew.  Needless to say I am feeling a bit inspired by Donald Crew this very moment.  Yet, before I get completely off track (no train pun intended) let us return to the topic of inspiration.  

Here is one example of how Inspire is defined:  to have an animating effect upon one’s mind or emotions; to stimulate to some creative or effective effort; to elicit or create. 

Considering this definition of the inspire what or who has an animating effect upon your mind or emotions? What or who stimulates or elicits your creativity? 

It will be a challenge for me to limit myself, because there are so many things that are inspiring me every day, but I’ll try to share a just a few on my list today and will provide links so you can explore more on your own.  

I just stumbled upon a very inspirational couple just last night via the posting of an artist friend.  The history geek in me is absolutely excited about the work of Maya and Matthew Smith-Gonzalez, who are the co-founders of the Reflection Press and School of the Free Mind.  


Matthew is a videographer, webmaster, designer, accountant, manager, builder, architect, editor, publisher, and just about anything else needed to keep the Press running.  Matthew came from Philly to San Francisco to intern with COLAGE, a non-profit organization for children with one or more LGBT parents. Growing up with a gay father, isolated in the midst of homophobia, taught Matthew the importance of working to include everyone and inspired his activist spirit to take root.  

Maya is an artist, author, educator,  publisher, maker, freeek, spirit, big thinker, blissfully devoted spouse and parent who thinks kids and anything creative are awesome. She has illustrated over 20 award-winning, multicultural children’s book and written three. She has written three books for their press, including Claiming Face, Gender Now and I See Peace.  

They are currently raising funds for their latest project called Everybody’s HistoryThe overall goal for Everybody’s History is for this to be a large collection of chapter books. Each book telling the story of one hero who has impacted our world, despite the fact that they may at times not have fit into what was socially acceptable at the time. The series will include heroes from the United States, and eventually, the world.


Everybody’s History
 comes in 3 book groupings. The series begins with the heroes, Harriet Tubman, We’Wha and Charley Parkhurst. The main themes in the first set are the Civil War era, gender expression and race. Other unifying themes include Night, Secrecy, Disability, A Time of Transformation and Social Agreements. Each paperback book will be 48 pages with full color illustrations. Between the covers kids can explore the life and times of the characters through story, anecdotes, quirky facts and unique activities. Be sure to visit their web site Reflection Press and if you feel inspired to contribute to their fundraising efforts for Everybody’s History click here to pop over to their fundraising site on Kickstarter.
Next on my most inspirational list this week is artist Rita Loyd.  I had been looking for an image that might go well with an article I was working on for my column in Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine.  I came across this stunning image called Expansion of Love and this beautiful affirmation that accompanies the painting:
“Expansion of Love”
The expansion of love begins 
as a small seed from within.
irst I learn to love and nurture myself.
And then as my spirit awakens
I find that when I help others, 
I help myself.
And from that awareness
my love expands and overflows 
out into the universe.
I wrote to Rita about including the painting and affirmation as part of the article and she agreed.  We communicated back and forth several times and I even placed a purchase for a couple decks of her Unconditional Self Love Message Cards and several greeting cards.  I am so inspired by Rita and her art and writing.  This is what she shares about herself on her web site:  

“I am a watercolor artist and writer.  The theme of my work is about unconditional self-love.  The reason I write and paint about self-love is because unconditional self-love has the ability to heal and transform our lives.  I also believe that when we can love ourselves unconditionally that we create the internal support system that is needed to reach our greatest potential and to live our best life.”
Be sure to visit Rita’s web site for a lot more inspiration by clicking here
The last inspirational person I would like to share about is Henriette Simon Picker.  Henriette was born in 1917 and is a lifetime painter.  Henriette had her first solo exhibit in 2012 at the age of 95 years old and that was followed up by a retrospective exhibition in March of this year.   Her work has begun to enter distinguished private collections.   
Henriette studied drawing and painting at the Art Student’s League of New York from 1939 to 1941, while pursuing a successful career as a shoe designer.  She was hired by world famous I. Miller Shoes of New York at the age of 16 and for the next 45 years designed women’s high fashion shoes full time there and for many other major companies throughout the U.S.  During the 1950’s and 60’s she ran her own shoe companies and her designs were illustrated by many well known artists, including Andy Warhol.
I so appreciated this video featuring Henriette and her son as they speak about her painting and her first gallery showing.  It is also fascinating to visit her web site to view how her art changed and evolved throughout the many years she has been painting and it is wonderful that she is still going strong.  

I would love to hear from you now about who and what is inspiring you these days!  
Do share.  Inquiring minds want to know! 
Other people high on my inspiration list are:
Effy Wild ~ Fling some glitter in the air and then pay her a visit at The Glitterhood
Jenafer Joy Owen ~ Her art and musings make me hand-clapping happy! Visit her over that Jenafer Joy ~ Art & Musings
Allison Kenny ~ In March of this year she published her first chapter book for girls with Glitter & Razz.  The book called Starring Celia is the story of a 4th grade girls who goes from being bullied to becoming a ‘Go Girl!’  With her best friend Jazzy, her puppy Rootbeer, and her new summer camp, nothing can stop her from taking center stage.

Mojo Monday ~ Celebrating Mamas

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This evening I found in my daughter’s backpacks little books and bracelets they had made for me for Mother’s Day at school in their first grade class.  The little books had prompts throughout for them to answer questions about me.  I giggled and felt my heart melt as I read through both of them.  How lucky for me that I have twins and get two I thought.  It was also quite eye opening to know how much they observe and know about me.  Aubrey shared that I like to paint and go with the cowgirls. That last comment about “go with the cowgirls” made me laugh out loud.  Maya also wrote that I like to paint and draw.  Both got it right when they stated in their own way that I don’t like to clean up their messes, and that I do like it when they don’t whine.   It was sweet to read the things they like me to do for them, as Maya likes it when I read and play with her and Aubrey likes it when I clean up for her and when I brush her hair.  Their ending remarks were about why I was special and Aubrey shared it is because I help her and Maya wrote it is because I love her.  It just makes your heart melt to be a mama sometimes.  

Being a mama can also keep you on your toes and keep your schedule extra full, if you let it.  This last weekend happened to be a very full one. It began with me taking Friday off to run a bunch of errands, get the yard in shape and do a few other chores.  On the agenda this weekend was my daughters 7th birthday, Mother’s Day and then my hubby’s birthday following up close on this next Tuesday.  My twin daughters Aubrey and Maya had requested that in lieu of birthday cakes they wanted pumpkin pies and I had hoped to get those made Friday too.  In the end my list ran too long and my husband saved the day and made the pies.

Our weekend festivities began with my sister Wendy arriving early on Saturday, as well as my parents, both in their 70’s with three of their great-grandchildren ages 5, 4 and 1 in tow.  How they find the energy amazes me.  We let the kids play in the backyard in a sprinkler to stay cool and entertained until it was time to head over to a gymnastic center where our daughters were joined by school friends and they celebrated their 7th birthday very energetically with trampolines, a foam pit, a bounce house, balls and climbing ropes.  The pumpkin pies were eventually set aglow with candles as we all sang the birthday song and amazingly many of the children requested pie instead of the more traditional cupcakes we had also brought along.

Our busy weekend continued into Sunday with the hubby hopping out of bed extra early to make our daughters, my visiting sister and me special vegan crepes.  Nathan surprised me later that morning, after departing on a secret mission, with supplies to add two new raised garden beds to our back yard.  I had been talking about it for quite awhile.  He built them and as we finally mixed the different soils and such together, I commented laughingly that it was also a gift to our family and the mother of all mothers, our planet, Mother Earth.   Gardening always feels to me like a way of nurturing our planet, giving back and being in greater connection with her.  We have a huge yard and we are already so grateful to have a variety fruit trees, including a cherry, pear, plum and pomegranate.  I have tried to grow veggies in smaller containers, but I have never been all that successful at it.   I am excited for us to grow more food on our very own plot of land.

Motherhood can be incredibly exhausting.  So can fatherhood.  Yet the lessons it can teach us, the growth it can inspire and the joys and gifts it bestows upon us are remarkable and life changing.  

What are your experiences with motherhood?  

We all have a mom, though our life experiences with a mom of origin can vary dramatically.  What was your experience like with your birth mom?

Sometimes other people come into our life to mother us, nurture us and love us unconditionally.  Have you felt mothered and nurtured by other people in your life?

If you are a mother consider how that experience shaped and/or continues to shape your life. What are some of the things motherhood taught you about life and yourself?

Consider writing a letter to your mom or about your mom that could be sent or saved or even burned afterwards.  What would you most want to tell her?

Two years ago I helped to plan a party for my mom’s 70th birthday.  I created a book for her and a slideshow.  The book also included letters, memories and quotes from family and friends.  Below was a letter I wrote for her and a page I designed to share my thoughts, feeling and memories.  If you were to do something similar for someone or something that mothered and nurtured you what would you write, how would it look and what adjectives might highlight the person, thing or experience?



Lastly come read a beautiful tribute to mothers 

by Shiloh Sophia called A Mama Day Blessing. 

It begins like this:


A Mama Day Blessing
This day we honor and celebrate
the women who have given life to us,
the women who give life to ideas,
the women who died giving life,
the women who wanted to have a child,
but didn’t get to

You can read the rest by visiting her site
Letters from the Red Thread Cafe

Painting by Shiloh Sophia

Mojo Monday ~ Releasing the Past

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Removing an arrow/error like believing your past 
was the BEST and your future is less bright, 
is easier said than done, if you know what I mean. 
We get a LOT out of holding onto the the things that harm us, don’t we? 
I know as long as my past is better than my future, 
I cannot call in the future that is mine from a pure heart, 
or as Dr. E puts it: ‘clean, calm, clear heart’.” 

~ Shiloh Sophia McCloud 
Sharing from her experiences at 
Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ 
SoulFire Vision Quest in June 2012

The past can be an anchor holding you back.
When I read the words above that Shiloh Sophia McCloud wrote they literally leapt off the page at me. Fairly recently I had found myself in a bit of a funk and during this time frame I also happened to flip through some old photographs.  Some were of my days of living and traveling in Europe.  Others were of me in my college days and with various friends sharing fun experiences.  I found myself wistful of my youth, my courage, my appearance (one that required I work out damn hard to achieve), my freedom and some of my relationships.  The words Shiloh wrote spoke to me deeply though.  At the age of 43 was I really ready to declare the best years of my life were over?  Was I really thinking that nothing fabulous would/could happen that might make those experiences of my twenties and thirties seem small in comparison?  When had I grown so disillusioned, jaded and skeptical?  Was I going to throw in the towel and live my life talking about the good ol’ days and the “remember whens”?  Heck, I had to admit that I was falling into that pattern.  

Recently I also made some observations about we humans.  I saw first hand how easy it is for we humans to hold onto the past in a death grip of remembrances, and not in a good way.  It is fairly common for people to keep track of the hurts and the ways we have been wronged.  I make no judgments of this tendency, because most of us have been there at some point or other, and according to psychological research it is now believed that it is in our human nature that bad events wear off more slowly than good ones.  Here is a quote from an article called Praise Is Fleeting, but Brickbats We Recall by Alina Tugend, “As with many other quirks of the human psyche, there may be an evolutionary basis for this. Those who are ‘more attuned to bad things would have been more likely to survive threats and, consequently, would have increased the probability of passing along their genes,’ the article states. ‘Survival requires urgent attention to possible bad outcomes but less urgent with regard to good ones.'”

I have personally experienced my own propensity to remember the bad, as well as witnessed that of others. I have found it sad to observe once close and treasured friendships crumble because of one or two negative interactions, in spite of years of wonderful times spent together.  I have also witnessed someone complaining and talking about their resentment for events that took place 30+ years ago.  Yet reminding someone that those events are far in the past, cannot be changed and really don’t have to affect them in their current life, isn’t often productive.  You can’t make someone else see through your eyes how they are allowing their old resentments to steal their happiness in their present life.  Again I don’t judge anyone that is stuck in such a place.  There is a time when it might be necessary to delve into the past in order to really get the muck out and heal it.   When Oprah and Iyanla Vanzant teamed up earlier this year Iyanla stated that in order to heal our pain three things to need to happen, we have to feel our pain, we have to deal with it (really deal with it) and then we can heal it.  Feel, Deal, Heal.  She also bluntly told a former addict that while he was no longer using drugs and drinking alcohol that he was now addicted to his story and that he needed to move on because he was the only one standing in the way of his happiness. 

I am also here to share that Cosmic Cowgirls has a secret weapon when it comes to transforming one’s pain and past into glitter and gold.  The remedy is art and writing one’s Legendary Story.  All of our lives offer us up the most wonderful material for a kick-in-the pants, rollicking, roll-in-the-hay read.  That bar fight you had back in 1995, don’t you dare leave it out, and your stories from when you raced wild with a roller derby team called The Angry Beavers will be sure to have your readers staying up all night.  If you danced in a cage or on tables in a bar tell us all about it.  Perhaps you lived in Europe and had several foreign lovers.  Hmm….now we are getting to some good stuff.  Yet, there are the tougher stories, perhaps the boyfriend or husband who cheated and left you for Paris Hilton.  There might even be tragedy, the fiance who died in a car accident or the abusive childhood you survived.   All of these provide you with a champions story and the back story to who you are today.  If you have any doubts about that one pop on over to Effy Wild’s blog called The Glitterhood and begin reading her powerful and moving mini-memoir. 


As we are beginning our Legendary journals over at the Red Key Vision Quest consider what stories you have to tell.


Is there something that you first need to feel, deal and heal?


Do you feel addicted to any of your stories that are causing you pain and keeping you from moving forward in your journey?  (feel free to share or think about privately)


Which stories or experiences of yours first come to mind when you think of the word Legendary?


With love and encouragement to shine, shine, shine!
Michelle


** Mojo Monday was born in May 2010 and has been featured on Cosmic Cowgirls Rodeo of the Soul since that time.  Mojo Monday offers up inspiration, interesting ideas, questions and more to get our week off and running.  We like to gather around the campfire and share  our stories and our experiences with one another.


In 2011 Steph Cowling who currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, joined the Mojo Monday team and inspired us all for a year with her incredibly thoughtful writing and her beautiful photography.  Fortunately you can still find her writing in her column Soul In the City in Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine.


This year the inspirational Trish O’Mally is co-facilitating Mojo Mondays with me.  Her writing carries magic within it and if you attend a Cosmic Cowgirl Conference you may get to experience her gastronomical brilliance as well.

Mojo Monday ~ The Red Key

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The tribe I call my own, Cosmic Cowgirls, is offering an invitation.


This is your invitation to open the door of the heart with the flaming red key of possibility! 


How would you feel if you could take charge,
AUTHOR YOUR OWN FUTURE
inste
ad of letting life happen to you? 

If there was a place to express your TRUE voice now instead of later. 


WHAT IF THERE WAS SOMETHING YOU COULD DO RIGHT NOW – TODAY
to change how all of this is landing in your heart, your life, your spirit?

Maybe you are saying…I’ve heard that before
Painting by Shiloh Sophia McCloud
I want to live my true authentic self. Whoever that is… Life is too precious to live an unexpressed life. But I don’t really KNOW what my path is or where it leads, OR how to get there. I’ve tried change before and it didn’t stick. How is this going to be different?

Many women say that this work that we offer is just what they have been waiting for all of their life. A true connection. Belonging. A place to express the songs and images within them. You are a choice that you get to make. What it is you want to say, be, cause, create, manifest? How you want to experience your life and how it occurs for you? And you are right, it is not easy to do it alone and that is WHY we are doing it together, as a tribe of women who are TOGETHER committing to a life path of sacred work that reflects who we are instead of living a life that is not consistent with us. Why would anyone keep living a life that does not reflect who they are? Because many of us don’t know where to turn.
Now there is a place to turn, and something to turn it with – a magical red key that lives inside the heart – a key that belongs to you and your very own muse.

Are you, like so many of us, feeling:
• life is passing you by and your life didn’t turn out the way you wished?
• are living like you are dying instead of living like you are living?
• you would like to be creative, feel that you are, but tell yourself you don’t have time?
• there is no creative spiritual community you can truly call home?
• that the voice of the critic is your own voice, and you believe her when she says: you’re too old, you don’t have time, you’re not smart enough, not creative enough?
What if we told you all of those were lies?

Come learn more about this journey that begins June 21, 2012 at:

Mojo Monday ~ VoluptuArt

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“Every object, every being, is a jar full of delight. 
Be a connoisseur.” 
~ Rumi
Do you have any favorite web stores?  Have you found some that are more than just stores, rather they are places where you can browse for inspiration, perhaps for a few giggles and for that ever important visual stimulation that actually delights your soul?
I have a few favorite web sites that represent what I would create if I was going to open up my own virtual gift shop.  One that tops the list is called VoluptuArt.  If you have never experienced this treasure trove, than you are in for a super duper treat (picture a large ice cream sundae with all the trimmings.)
VoluptuArt’s Mission speaks volumes:
“VoluptuArt has been created to bring you art that will inspire you to celebrate the fullness of your life! 
Our art and gift items portray bodies of all sizes, shapes, ethnicities, ages and genders. We strive to find images that ’embody’ a sense of aliveness, self-love and body esteem. We’ve also chosen items that we hope will encourage you to stop, take a breath and remember what is important in your life and to be grateful for your amazing body!VoluptuArt is packed with: sculptures, jewelry, functional art, wall art, journals, cards, magnets, candles, t-shirts, Yay! Scales and more!”
They also invite visitors to let them know about artwork or artists they believe would be a good match for VoluptuArt. 
Some of my favorite artists have art work available on the web site: Shiloh Sophia McCloud, Mara Friedman, Anahata Katkin (PaPaYa), Krista Lynn Brown, Kristine Paton, K Robins Designs and SARK. It is a wonderful place to discover new artists too. 
Here are some of my favorite creations by Kristine Paton.  Many of her images are available on bookmarks too and she pairs each one with an empowering quote.  They make wonderful bonus gifts if you happen to be giving someone a book.
Red Boa
This image is called Red Boa.  The book mark has the following quote:
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” ~ Oscar Wilde
Flamenco
This image is called Flamenco.  The book mark has the following quote:
“Be Yourself  The world worships the original.” ~ Ingrid Bergman
VoluptuArt has quirky and unusual one-of-a-kind items.  Take for example the YAY! 
Scale.  How would you feel if you stepped on the scale in the morning and it always gave you a compliment? “you’re perfect”, “you’re gorgeous”, “you’re hot!” You’ll never have another bad scale day with a Yay! Scale. Thanks to the principles of quantum physics – a Yay! Scale never lies! Conceived, designed, handmade, and signed by Marilyn Wann of Fat!So? fame.  Note this is the silver version, another version comes in purple sparkle and one even comes in a plush hot pink carpet.
There are also amazing sculptures to feast ones eyes on.  Here are some of my favorites. These two are by Shelley and Michael Buonaiuto called Gladys and Wind.
Wind
Gladys

Looking through the various themes can lead one to fun new discoveries as well.  Some of the themes include: Goddesses, Divas, Funseekers, Frida Kahlo, Woman of Valor, Relationships, Rumi, Bellies, Breast Health and Ahhs and Giggles.
Another treasure that I enjoyed discovering is this petite earring Goddess holder shown to the left.
If you visit the VoluptuArt you may also want to visit their Resource page. They list articles, poetry, films and link to other inspirational web sites.
If you visit and find something that strikes your fancy come back and share.
If you have some favorite web sites please share links here too.

Mojo Monday ~ ~ Letters & Prayers for Shiloh’s Rite of Passage

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On Saturday, December 11th an evening reception was held in honor of Shiloh Sophia McCloud.
Part of the ritual included the creation of a ceremonial treasure chest that was to include letters, prayers, and testimonials honoring our Chief Laughing Cloud.
If you already wrote something for this treasure chest please share with us or feel free to write something to Shiloh now.

If you attended the event perhaps share with us a taste of your experience.
Here is the letter I sent to be part of the treasure chest:
The only word that I could speak upon entering The Wisdom House gallery was “WOW!” I was in awe of Shiloh’s art and then as I explored her journals and spoke with Mary McDonald I felt something stir in my soul. In the following months I would visit Shiloh’s web site to view her art and to learn more about the Cosmic Cowgirls and when I learned of the Bountiful Conference in October 2008 I was drawn to attend.
The first time I heard Shiloh speak at the conference my response was again “WOW!” It was incredible to see that not only her art represented a “wowness”, but so did the woman who created that art.
Months later while framing a print of Shiloh’s to display in my home, one of my 3 year old daughters asked to see what I was doing. I turned over the piece of art and the one word out of her little girl mouth was “WOW!” I actually wrote to Shiloh of that experience because here again that word “WOW!” was coming from the mouth of a mere baby whose own young soul was stirred by what she saw.
My heart knew no other path than to become a Cosmic Cowgirl and over the course of the past two years as I have taken painting classes, Sparked, attended conferences, written blogs and articles and interacted with other Cosmic Cowgirls, I have also been blessed to have grown to know Shiloh more personally. I have been so incredibly impressed and inspired by this remarkable woman who is firmly grounded (while wearing her red cowgirl boots no doubt) and yet is also reaching for the stars and encouraging everyone in her presence to do the same.
I would like to share a poem/song called Remember Your Wow-ness by a writer who is also a personal friend of Shiloh. It is by Patricia L. Reilly and appears in her book Words Made Flesh.
Remember Your Wow-ness

Verse 1
Do you ever look up at the night sky and say WOW?
Well you’re made of the same WOW-ness as the night sky.

Verse 2
Do you ever get lost in it’s bigness and say WOW?
Well you’re made of the same WOW-ness as the big sky.

Verse 3
Do you ever feel held by its darkness and say WOW?
Well you”re made of the same WOW-ness as the dark sky.

Verse 4
Do you feel the tug of the full moon and say WOW?
Well you’re made of the same WOW-ness as the full moon.

Verse 5
Do you ever try to count the stars and say WOW?
Well you’re made of the same WOW-ness as the night star.

Voice Choir
You are composed of the same stuff as the Milky Way.
You are an exquisite dimension of the Galaxy’s development.
You are a space the Universe fashioned to feel its own grandeur.
You are an individualize expression of WOW. WOW!
Thank you Shiloh for all the “WOW” you add to our world and the Universe!
much love ~ Michelle Fairchild