Category Archives: Wonder

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 ~ The Story of Time

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Purely Pacific Northwest from John Eklund

“The Milky Way drifts across the sky. Aurora tumble and roll. 
Clouds flow like rivers or undulate like smoke.”

This video is photographer Oregon-based John Eklund’s time-lapse depiction of the Pacific Northwest.  John has this to say about his work, “I choose to shoot locations that appeal to the way I would like to interpret the story of time.”  “Here is the Pacific Northwest, there are endless opportunities to depict the magnificence of the world around us.  I have discovered that when time is the storyteller, a special kind of truth emerges.”  
The video Purely Pacific Northwest is composed of 260,000 shots John took of Mt. Shuksan, Crater Lake, Mt. Bachelor, Mount St. Helens, Oregon’s Badlands, Painted Hills, Cape Kiwanda, Mt. Hood, Lost Lake and Cannon Beach between July 2011 and August 2012.
I am in awe of this video.  There is something about nature, our planet, the stars, the cosmos above, that leave me with a sense of wonder and wow, but also a greater sense of peace.  It reminds me that we are all a part of something so much bigger and greater than ourselves.  It also gives me a comforting reminder of the way we are all connected on this planet.  

Connecting with the beauty of nature has always been a grounding touchstone for me.   Is the same true for you?     


Consider getting out, taking your camera and going for a walk in your neighborhood or a nearby park or if you have more time on your hands, take a little drive and go exploring to find some fall color.  Perhaps your adventure might even call for a hike in the mountains.  

Come back and share photos after your outing.  

Do they tell a story?  

How did you feel during the outing?  
Here is a photo slideshow from the world of nature my family and I have been enjoying the last few days in beautiful Northern California.  

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Mojo Monday ~ Sustaining Wonder

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“In truth, our aliveness depends on our ability to sustain wonder:
to lengthen the moments we are truly uncovered, to be still and quiet
till all the elements of the earth and all the secrets of the oceans
stir the aspects of life waiting within us.”
~ Mark Nepo
In The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo, the topic for November 11th is called Sustaining Wonder.  He begins the days reflection with a quote by Kahlil Gibran.

“In one atom are found all the elements 

of the earth; in one motion of the mind are found 

all the motions of existence; in one drop of water 
are found all the secrets f the endless oceans; 
in one aspect of you are found all the aspects of life.”
How do you sustain wonder in your life?

Do you think there is a connection between sustaining wonder and guarding your time so that you have time to ponder, reflect, and marvel? 

What things can make you think “WOW!”?

The author’s reflection on November 1st entitled The Next Moment of Love also offered up thoughts on overextending ourselves.  It begins with a quote by Thomas Merton:
“To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude 
of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, 
to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help 
everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.  
The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his or her work for peace.”

Mark Nepo then continues, “Merton wisely challenges us not just to slow down, but, at the heart of it, to accept our limitations.  We are at best filled with the divine, but we have only two hands and one heart.  In a deep and subtle way, the want to do it all is a want to be it all, and though it comes from a desire to do good, it often becomes frenzied because our egos seize our goodness as a way to be revered.  I have done this many times: not wanting to say no, not wanting to miss an opportunity, not wanting to be seen as less than totally compassionate.  But wherever I cannot bring my entire being, I am not there.”
Consider these thoughts and questions that he poses at the end of this section.
  • Center yourself and think of the many kindnesses that you feel called to do. 
  • As you breathe, let your heart glow around one.
  • Without thinking, pray for the others, but devote yourself today to the one.

Wonder is also mentioned in the November 9th reflection called Diving Half-Blind.  This quote by Thomas Brown introduces the topic:
“We carry within us
the wonders we seek
without us.”
Mark Nepo later in this passage writes, “….the deeper we go, the slower the world; the slower the world, the soften our way.  So we must keep calling each other into the depths of what we know.  For below the surface we all shine.  Diving in, we all turn silver.   Given to air alone, the cuts of this world burn.  But when we dare to enter what is deep, the bruises we carry soften and glow.  In truth, the more we accept our limitations and surrender to the depths below our woundedness, the more the vastness holds us up.  There is no way to know this but to dive.”
He closes with the following suggestions:
  • Center yourself and hold a pain or ached that you carry; hold it gently before you.
  • As you breathe slowly, surround your pain or ache with a loving kindness meditation that keeps broadening your prayer for all living things.
  • Allow this silent prayer to subside.
  • Now, if you can, feel your pain or ache slightly softened by your love for the world.
There is wonder in the simplest of things.  This thing called life is a wonder.  Our “aliveness” is a wonder.  Author Mark Nepo shares these profound thoughts about life in his reflections of November 24th entitled The Need to Continue.
“The longer I wake on this Earth, the louder the quiet things speak to me.  The more I experience and survive, the more I find truth in the commonalities we all share.  The more pain softens me, the deeper my joy and the greater the lessons of those things that live in great stillness.
      Before I had cancer, I used to complain so much, annoyed that every chore would need to be done again, that the grass would grow back as soon as I’d cut it.  Now I am in aw how it will grow no matter what you do to it.  How I need that knowledge.
     Now, twelve years from that bed, I am standing in a gentle rain, each drop a whisper of simple things I will never understand.  Now, there is only air in the sky of heart waiting to rain. Now, I am thinner, grayer, brighter, less able to say, and my heart has learned more on this side than it will ever let me know.  Now, I want to learn how to kiss an orange, unpeeled, and taste the juice.
       Twelve years ago the unasked-for growth disappeared, and —praise this life — I have been shedding ever since.  Now, all that remains is my armless heart wanting to live.”
  • Sit quietly and consider your thoughts as leaves and your hears as the tree.
  • Breathe slowly, and try to listen to the soil you share with everything.
  • Breathe deeply, and meditate on what is oldest in you.

Here is a poem to inspire you in all your wonder and wow-ness!


Remember Your Wow-ness by Patricia Lynn Reilly
(Poem appears in Patricia’s book called Words Made Flesh.)

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 individualized expression of WOW. WOW! 

Mojo Monday ~ Wonder

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won·der/ˈwəndər/


Noun:  A feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
Verb:  Desire or be curious to know something.
Synonyms:  noun.  marvel – miracle – prodigy – astonishment – amazement  verb.  marvel

Recently I had the extreme pleasure of gathering with some of the Cosmic Cowgirl tribe in person.  It was a whole-hearted weekend full of such things as inspiration, fun, aha moments, emotional connection and creativity. 

One part of our weekend’s explorations together was to discuss our developing Cosmic language.  After various sessions of heart-storming, prior to the weekend long gathering, a list of words has developed.  They are as follows: wonder, identity, creativity, perspective, heart, courage (awareness), embodiment (manifestation), play, transformation, mystery, legend (legacy), revolution, community and last but not least the overarching concept of sparkle.

Here is a photo of the beautiful rendition of the exploration that Shiloh McCloud diagramed for us.


Our time together included some journaling on various words and seeing what came up for us.  We were also asked to ponder and remain aware if there were any words with which we currently identified with more strongly.  I knew that my attention was drawn to the center of the diagram where the word “wonder” was written.  When we were asked to write down some thoughts regarding wonder this is what came to me:

The beginning of a heart beat.
The birth of a child.
A smile.
The universe.
Holding a hand.
A flower.
The stars.
The smell of a rose.
Water.
A favorite flavor.
The emotional life of animals.

My fascination with wonder seem to fit in with how I have been viewing the world through a lens I can only describe as “Wow” or as Shiloh wrote on the diagram next to the word wonder “the awe ha!”

When I began my list with “the beginning of a heart beat” I was actually recalling a documentary called In the Womb by National Geographic.  During the show they show and tell the audience just how and when a heart begins.  I was left in wonder about the amazing nature of our bodies and how we humans begin.  If you want to see for yourself a brief part of the video I have included it below and you can watch the particular portion I mention if you fast forward to 5:20 and watch until 5:57.  Here also is written form of the narration that describes what might be considered a miracle of nature: 
“One of the first organs to form is the heart.  Until now the tiny clump of heart cells, about the size of a poppy seed, have been still, but after 22 days a single cell stirs, as if jolted to life.  This tiny movement sparks a chain reaction and other cells in the cluster pick up the rhythm.  Incredibly, they all begin to beat in perfect unison.  The new cells divide, dance to the same beat and will grow to form the embryo’s heart.”




My mind, and heart, is also in awe of our universe.  This image to the right is from the Hubble Telescope and has been nicknamed The Galactic Rose.  If you have never really explored the images from the Hubble telescope I encourage you to do so.  The images are amazing.  Here is where you can locate the Hubble web site: http://hubblesite.org/the_telescope/

When I gaze at such photos taken in deep space I am in awe.  I experience feelings and thoughts that encompass and contemplate being humble, miniscule, and yet also expansive and connected.  In the scheme of how grand the universe is we are a speck in the dark night sky.  We are these tiny bunches of cells and molecules that are alive and running around on the surface of planet Earth.  Dr. Seuss even contemplated such a state of being in his classic Horton Hears a Who.  

Star Woman painting by Michelle Fairchild
The fascination with the stars also connects with the amazing fact that we humans are really made of cosmic stardust and this really isn’t just some California “woo woo” idea.   The late astronomer Carl Sagan once stated “The surface of the earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can. Because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”  What he knew when he made that remark is that the same elements that make up the stars in our universe are the very same elements that came together to create our planet and our very bodies. 

According to Chris Impey, professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, “Carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms in our bodies, as well as atoms of all other heavy elements, were created in previous generations of stars over 4.5 billion years ago. Because humans and every other animal — as well as most of the matter on Earth — contain these elements, we are literally made of star stuff.” 

Here again is a beautiful video I shared just last week.  Listen to Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse, and understand why he feels big, not small, as part of the universe. Something we should all remember when we feel alone, insignificant, or disconnected. This video is a result of when he was asked by TIME magazine, “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?” This is his answer.

The Most Astounding Fact from Max Schlickenmeyer on Vimeo.

Then there is water. When I read the book Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls I was intrigued to read the following section about water.  I loved how she so poetically explores the amazing, and almost magical qualities and history of water.


Photo by Michelle Fairchild
“Sometimes over supper, when Jim got home after a storm, the kids would describe their escapades in the water and mud, and Jim would recount his vast store of water lore and water history.  Once the world was nothing but water, he explained, and you wouldn’t think to look at us, but human beings were mostly water.  The miraculous thing about water, he said, was that it never came to an end.  All the water on the earth had been here since the beginning of time, it has just moved around from rivers and lakes and oceans to clouds and rain and puddles and then sunk through the soil to underground streams, to springs and wells, where it got drunk by people and animals and went back to rivers and lakes and ocean.

The water you kids were playing in, he said, had probably been to Africa and the North Pole.  Genghis Khan or Saint Peter or even Jesus himself might have drunk it.  Cleopatra might have bathed in it.  Crazy Horse might have watered his pony with it.  Sometimes water was liquid.  Sometimes it was rock hard—ice.  Sometimes it was soft—snow.  Sometimes it was visible, but weightless—clouds.  And sometimes it was completely invisible—vapor—floating up into the sky like the souls of dead people.  There was nothing like water in the world, Jim said.  It made the desert bloom but also turned rich bottomland into swamp.  Without it we’d die, but it could also kill us, and that was why we loved it, even craved it, but also feared it.  Never take water for granted, Jim said.  Always cherish it.  Always beware of it.”

What comes to you when you contemplate the word “Wonder?”

What makes you think or say WOW?

What leaves you in awe?


One more thing that also leaves me in awe is the emotional lives of animals that share our planet.  There are actually many books written on the subject.
I am frequently so touched and moved by photographs of animals that portray their obvious connections to one another.  I have always been drawn to animals, but it wasn’t until recent years that I really, really began to see them.  Have you ever really stopped and considered that animals bodies have organs and bodies that in many regards are much like our own. The have hearts, lungs, brains and blood.  They are born and they die, just like we humans.  
It was partly my awe and wonder in regards to my four-legged, feathered and finned friends that led me to adopt a vegan diet about four years ago.






Lastly, for your enjoyment, a beautiful song by Miten and Deva Premal called Inarticulate Heart.  The lyrics include the words “I am a soul in wonder.”


Mojo Monday ~ Remember Your Wow-ness

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Remember Your Wow-ness by Patricia Lynn Reilly
(Poem appears in Patricia’s book called 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 individualized expression of WOW. WOW!

We ARE the stars.
Listen to Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse,
and understand why he feels big, not small, as part of the universe.
Something we should all remember when we feel alone, insignificant, or disconnected.

 This video is a result of when he was asked by TIME magazine,

“What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?”

This is his answer.



The Most Astounding Fact from Max Schlickenmeyer on Vimeo.

Image above is known as the Galactic Rose ~ Taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows a group of interacting galaxies called Arp 273. The larger of the spiral galaxies, known as UGC 1810, has a disc that is tidally distorted into a rose-like shape by the gravitational pull of the companion galaxy below it, known as UGC 1813. The swathe of blue jewels across the top is the combined light from clusters of intensely bright and hot young blue stars. These massive stars glow fiercely in ultraviolet light.