nounMy blog writing, besides coming from those stories that inspire me personally and topics that I wish to share with others, is also sometimes informed by my connection with my Cosmic Cowgirls tribe. My writing appears not only on my personal blogs, but also on Cosmic Cowgirls member web sites. Over on the Rodeo of the Soul we are going to be exploring the theme of Lineage. When I began delving into my own personal ancestry research about a month ago I had no idea that this was part of the new year plan. It is rather serendipitous how things are falling into place.In light of this theme there will be more exploration of ancestry in the coming months, yet it won’t be entirely focused on genealogy per se. When I think of lineage in broader terms, beyond my own family tree, I think of honoring the wisdom of all women (and men) that came before. I think of a video I recently watched of Bill Moyers interviewing award winning writer Ursula Le Guin who is about 85 years old now and the wisdom she shared. I think of suffragists, feminists, women historians, activists, artists…..and onto the legendary work and impacts we are leaving in our wakes for the women and girls to follow us. There is much to explore in the coming months.
At the beginning of a new year most of us not only look back at year we just wrapped up. We also look forward to the new year, perhaps with dreams, goals and resolutions in mind. Here are brief introductions to several articles that offered some thoughtful ideas for looking forward to the new year ahead.
Beyond Carb-Cutting: Resolutions After A Trauma — Sleep, Play, Love – I especially love the simplicity of these heal-the-trauma resolutions and wonder how life might flow if these were your most primal goals for the year? (Click the link for the full article.)
1. A restful sleep
2. Play, Sing, Dance
3. Love the One Who Is With You
4. Be In Nature
5. Ban Perfection (though I might tweak this one to Embrace Imperfection)
2 Choices That Can Make This Next Year The Best Year of Your Life – A fan of the wisdom of Dr. Margaret Paul and her Inner Bonding newsletters and program I found her two suggested choices to be sound advice – Gratitude and Intent to Learn. (Click the link for the full article.)
If 2014 Tried You or Tested You, Do This – If 2014 was a hard year for you I encourage you to click on over for a visit to this article. It has the ability to shift perspective. I especially loved the passage below. (Click the linked title to access the original article.)
“I believe 2014 was not your worst year, but possibly your greatest.
Your Year of Greatest Strength
Your Year of Greatest Faith
Your Year of Greatest Hope
Your Year of Greatest Patience
Your Year of Greatest Risk
Your Year of Greatest Determination
Your Year of Greatest Courage”
10 Ways To Live Simply In 2015 – Inspirational and thoughtful descriptions of ways to simplify.
Simple and wise words from Maya Angelou.
Have you read any inspirational articles that you’d like to share about in the comments?
What are your thoughts about looking back, looking forward and staying present?
As I begin to write this post about a death, a birth and two heart surgeries my quirky mind jumps to thinking about the film called Four Weddings and A Funeral or those jokes that start off with “A priest, a rabbi and a minister walk into a bar…” Perhaps it is not in my best interest to share how ADHD my thoughts can be, and may I add, how they exhaust me at times. Yet it is true that these past two weeks have included the death of a great uncle, the birth of a great niece and two heart surgeries, an aunt’s and that of a very dear member of my creative Cosmic Cowgirl community.
My auntie’s heart surgery went smoothly and she is on her way to recovering. The heart surgery of Sue Hoya Sellars, a master artist and matriarch, on Thursday, September 18th also appeared to be successful. All the monitoring during the long procedure indicated things went well. There was a beautiful video live stream post surgery, where those present and those of us miles away could touch base and share in wishing Sue a speedy recovery. However things didn’t go quite as expected because Sue didn’t wake up. As the hours and days rolled on vigils began and still family and friends held onto hope that she was simply healing in “Sue time.”
As more time has passed the shadows of doubt have grown. The community has circled around sending waves of love from around the world, while writing poems, drawing and painting, in honor of she who has taught many how to wield a paintbrush and how to mix her unique blend of black paint. In the midst of tears that I shed multiple times a day I am inspired by all the creativity and love that abounds. There is the 30 day Committing Art with Sue that launched. I have seen so many beautiful drawings and paintings posted by those who have been touched by her and this community. I have fallen head over heals for the quotes that artist Christina Gage has been creating from close ups of her paintings and the wise words of Sue herself. I have been moved by the poetry and written words of so many who wish to share their experiences with Sue and offer words of comfort to one another. I have loved hearing how many have visited the hospital, sitting and talking to Sue, singing to her, drumming for her and certainly praying for her.
Even as I write this on the evening of Thursday, September 25th, Sue is alive, blood flowing through her veins, and her heart pumping. Actions were taken earlier today though to remove all the tubes and wires, so that family and friends could move her to her beloved Terra Sophia homestead. The latest update was that she remains unresponsive and it is expected that she will transition from life to the great mystery called death.
Every day since the surgery I have awaited the announcement that she has awoken. I have expected to hear accounts of her waking to joyous reactions and great relief. I have imagined her look of surprise to learn she has been sleeping for a week. Many have suggested she has been soul traveling and will return with stories of visiting the cosmos and spending time with ethereal beings.
I reflect and find irony in how my most recent taboo article for Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine is entitled We Are All Going to Die. Poetry Can Help. The day my article was published is the day I learned Robin Williams was no longer with us and not long before that one of my all time favorite human beings, Maya Angelou, had passed away. In the here and now of grieving for the very real likelihood that Sue transitions in the next hours or days, the title of my own article feels more real than ever. Yes, we are all going to die and yes, as I continue to witness, poetry can help. So can painting, singing, drumming and writing as we transform grief and loss into expressions of love and beauty.
Sue believed strongly in the power of art to heal and to connect with our consciousness. As a part of fulfilling her deepest wishes and the legacy of her vision a Barn Raising has been initiated. Sue’s longtime homestead is called Terra Sophia and an invitation has been extended to be a part of Sue’s vision for her property to become a sanctuary for committing art. Please visit the “Barn Raising” site to learn more on how you can participate. On this site is also a beautiful video that offers a peek into Sue’s world at Terra Sophia.
I have been a part of the Cosmic Cowgirl community since October 2008. This tribe of creative women has impacted my life significantly. Sue intimidated me a little the first time I met her and I joke that it was the “toilet paper lecture” that did it. Those who have heard this same detailed instructional guide from Sue can nod knowingly and then giggle. It was the second time I met her that I was struck strongly by the depth of her love and kindness. I saw in her eyes the wisdom and the generous heart that poured forth. I admired her deep contemplative mind and her gentleness. I also loved her humor and wit. That second time upon preparing to depart from an amazing weekend spent with Cosmic Cowgirls I went to say my goodbye to Sue and found myself spontaneously announcing “I love you Sue.” I saw the glisten in her eye as she took in my heartfelt words.
Some people affect us more deeply than we know, especially when faced with their departure from our lives. Sue was at the heart of the Cosmic Cowgirl community. She is beloved to us all. I pause while typing this to hold my hands to my face while stifling a sob. I wipe my nose and dab my eyes and return to sharing written words for comfort and a way to process the grief. Later I will turn to the paintbrush and a canvas to transform tears into expressions of art. Always I will turn to this community of creatives for connection, friendship and support. We are bound by the red thread.
In closing a song that felt called to be shared.
by Elephant Revival
Lyrics by Elephant Revival
If I was a raven
I’d fly on through the heavens
I’d fly to all my loved ones
If I was a raven
If memory’s worth saving
I’d savor the feeling
of knowing love and loving
I’d remember the feeling
Some say upon that mountain
there is many a raven
They call out to the living
from somewhere far beyond them
From those we’ve loved
that have flown on
From those we’ve loved
that have flown
Where do you look to for inspiration?
Even if you are feeling blue or overwhelmed have you
identified beacons of light that can
brighten up your day or offer a breath of fresh air?
Do you turn to nature, art, uplifting quotes and words,
music, writers, websites, or perhaps a combination of all of the above?
Do you subscribe to any inspirational magazines, newsletters or video feeds?
Share in the comments some of your inspirational touchstones.
Here is a list with links and notes
of those things that have inspired me or
perhaps provoked feelings and thoughts recently.
The course Hello Soul Hello Mantras by Kelly Rae Roberts.
Kelly Rae is an artist I have written about before
or mentioned in posts here, here, here, here and also here
because I have felt a kinship with her social worker soul
and her creative mixed media artistry. Her class was something
I decided to treat myself too after simmering in the blues.
The on-line course kicked off on September 8th and I am feeling very inspired.
Are there any courses you are taking that you would recommend?
I visited the flagship store in
Ashland, Oregon in July and again at the end of August.
The store fills the senses with scents, colors, texture,
deep dark chocolate and so much beauty.
While one won’t get to taste the chocolate, feel the fabrics
or smell the perfumes and lotions one can visit their
website to explore the hundreds of inspirational images.
Are there any particular artists that inspire you?
My own Artist Room
I recently did some late summer cleaning in my artist room.
Partly in preparation for the Hello Soul Hello Mantras course.
It felt good to dust and do a little rearranging and clearing out.
Having a beautiful-to-me inspirational sacred space is important to me.
Have you created or found an inspirational space for yourself?
I receive via email every single day an uplifting and positive article
from the good folk at Daily Good ~ News that Inspires
Some articles I read that very day. Others I read at a later time.
The team that gathers the articles from near and far,
as well as research and writes about the
wide variety of topics and people, do an amazing job.
I am impressed that it all began with a single person.
“DailyGood was born in 1998, when one college student
started sharing inspiration with a half a dozen of his friends
by sending them an enriching quote every day.
Today, DailyGood leverages the internet to promote
positive and uplifting news around the world to more than
100,000 subscribers through the daily and weekly newsletters.
Readers receive a news story, an inspiring quote, and a suggested action
that each person can take to make a difference
in their own lives and the world around them.”
Do you subscribe to a regular newsletter
or email subscription that inspires you?
If you have yet to check out TED Talks
I encourage you to do so.
I receive regular email updates for their latest videos.
This week I was particularly moved
by the video by Zak Ebrahim entitled
I am the son of a terrorist. Here’s how I chose peace.
Are you already familiar with TED Talks?
If yes, do you have any favorites to recommend?
The last topic that has been on my mind has to do with the heart.
On Thursday I learned that one of my aunts was
to undergo heart surgery on Friday.
The good news is that the surgery appears to have been very successful
and she is recovering very well.
Then on Saturday I learned that a matriarch in my creative community
is also very unexpectedly scheduled to
undergo open heart surgery this week.
I have been sending prayers for healed hearts
and my inquisitive nature had me reading about the heart.
Did you know these very interesting facts about the heart?
Inspiration is swirling all around us.
Sometimes when I am blue I can get tunnel vision.
Reminding myself of all the beauty and wonder
in our world brings me back into the light.
Come read my latest article called
Inventing Your Legendary Wings
in Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine.
“As I read about the [Grimke] sisters,
I was drawn more and more to Sarah and what she’d overcome.
Before stepping onto the public stage, she experienced
intense longings for a vocation, crushed hopes, betrayal,
unrequited love, loneliness, self-doubt, ostracism, and suffocating silence.
It seemed to me she had invented her wings
not so much in spite of these things, but because of them.”
~ Sue Monk Kidd
Are you Legendary?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Really we do.
Come read the entire article over at Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine.
The following is an e-mail from the past, composed 6 years, 11 months and 23 days ago, on April 18, 2007. It is being delivered from the past through FutureMe.org.
(It was delivered via email to me on April 10, 2014, my 45th birthday.)
Happy Birthday Michelle! You are 45 today – wow!
Did you forget about this message? You wrote it 7 years ago. I am sure that a lot has happened in 7 years. I hope that you find yourself in a good and happy place in your life.
At the time of writing this letter you were still feeling some insecurities about some aspects of your life. There were little worries about your marriage. Some hurts and frustrations that you are planning and hoping to work through. Next week you will be meeting with a therapist for the first time in your life. You are nervous about it and also have great hopes. You are hoping that it helps you work through some of your anger and frustration in regards to the relationship with your husband and also with your mother. Oh how cliche that sounds. The archetypal mother-daughter conflicted relationship.
I have had moments of doubt about my marriage making it for the long haul. Sitting here now though and really contemplating the future I see clearly that I want this marriage to work. That is what I envision in my future. I want to know that 7 years from now when I receive this email that my husband will still be by my side. That we will be raising our children together and growing old together. I want our relationship to be solid, loving and fun. I want us to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary this June together.
Not only have you aged but so has everyone else. Your husband is going to be 52 years old in May. And your twin daughters – wow they will be 8 years old in May. Just thinking about such a passage of time in connection with your loved ones brings tears to your eyes.
There are also the fur-kids to consider. Hopefully both are still with the family. Our furry friends just don’t live long enough. The cat will be 17 years old and the dog will be 11. I hope they are still with us. Just thinking of them passing is hard to imagine.
There are also my siblings and my parents. What changes have taken place in our family during this time frame. I know from experience how the unexpected can happen. I’ve already lost two brothers and a fiance in my past.
Are you still working at the same job? You had a good job back then with a great organization. I also know that you are capable of more. You have a lot of creative talents and you can write. I am hoping that you have moved in the direction of putting your creative talents to work and are making a living in that area. You have entered into the world of digital design recently. You love to play with images. Finding the right combination of writing and design would be perfect.
Here are some of my wishes for you in the future.
I hope that you have learned to be more relaxed.
I hope that you are more accepting of yourself and your imperfections.
I hope that you are comfortable with your body.
I hope that you are having lots of fun in your life.
I hope that you have a great relationship with your husband.
I hope that you and your daughters are so very close and love spending time together.
I hope that your daughters are happy, healthy and loving life.
I hope that your parents are still alive and that you have a healthy and close relationship with them.
I hope you are doing things you love professionally.
I hope that you have a close circle of friends and that you still spend time with them.
I hope you have found effective ways to take good care of you.
I hope you have learned to express your needs to others.
I hope your hair looks good -tee hee.
I hope you are happy – most of the time.
I was surprised when I received the letter above. It was nearly 7 years ago when I wrote it and my memory of doing so really didn’t come back until I was reading it. It moved me to tears. I loved seeing how my focus was on my relationships, my marriage, my children and my family.
When I wrote the letter my daughters were just about to turn one years old. They are now seven and will turn eight years old in May. My husband and I will be celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary in June.
I am still at the same job and just had my 10th anniversary at the end of March. Yet I have made strides with my art and my writing. Back in 2007 I hadn’t even heard of the Cosmic Cowgirls. It wasn’t until October of 2008 that I attended the Bountiful Conference they put on in Healdsburg, California. Being a part of this tribe has let to me writing Mojo Monday posts for nearly four years now. That it turn led to my column in Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine which launched in early 2011 and has been going strong for three years. I have yet to make a living with my writing and art, and I don’t know if I will get there, but I will keep on doing what I love.
I am considering writing myself another letter with futureme.org. I think sending one to myself five years from now on my 50th birthday sounds about right. When I contemplate what might go into such a letter I realize just how much can happen in five years. I grow emotional considering my wishes and hopes for what my life will encompass when I am fifty years old. There is something powerful in stating your hopes and intentions for your future self.
Will you write yourself a letter? Would you want to send it a year from now, five years, or maybe ten years or longer?
Share a little bit about what you are hoping and imagining for your future self in the comments.
Mother, teach me how to see
The shining lights of stars,
The faces of the Ancestors,
In worlds both near and far.
Show me how to welcome
The visions appearing to me,
Seeing the truth in detail,
Unraveling each mystery.
Walk me through the Dreamtime
Of altered time and space,
That I may share those visions
With every creed and race.
Doorkeeper of all dimensions,
I seek your Medicine ways
Of how to earth my visions,
Seeing truth, inside me, today.
~ Jamie Sams from “Looks Far Woman” chapter
in The 13 Original Clan Mothers
Wings and fins. They have been appearing in unexpected places lately. I don’t always pay attention to signs or my muse. I get caught up in the daily routine and my focus starts to narrow in on work and a busy family calendar schedule, which has me jetting off to play volleyball on Monday nights and shuttling my sweet twin daughters to softball practices and games twice a week. All of this is after eight hours a day of supporting social workers, families and children at a foster-adoption agency. On many a evening I just want to kick back and do some Netflix streaming with the hubby, in lieu of checking in with the oracles or my muse. Yet if I stray to0 far from the creative energy within things also start to feel off kilter. I know that on a soulful level it is important for me to make time for quiet, for reflection and for pondering. Listening to my intuition and my creative impulses is also key for me to staying in touch with my soul. It is through my writing, my art and the courses I take, that I am reminded of the deeper meanings to life and also of a spiritual web that connects us all.
There are several things that I turn to to keep me connected to the muse and spirit. The first is creating the space for writing and creating, be that painting, collaging or some other form of creative outlet. Fortunately I have writing commitments that require me to write at least three articles each month. Those commitments can be a taskmaster at times (monkey on my back so to speak) but there can be a gift in discipline and accountability. There have been months where the written words have flown easily and sweetly from my mind and heart over to the page. There have also been weeks and months when I have procrastinated and struggled to get the ideas flowing, the stress growing as deadlines loomed over me. In the end it comes down to making the time and doing it even when it feels like work. Even when it is hard I still feel drawn like a moth to the flame, to compose words like music on a page into some form of lyrical story. I am grateful for the results of showing up, even when I don’t always feel like it.
Painting, collaging and general ol’ creativity is another great love. That I may go days and weeks without playing in the art room seems mad, but that is the reality from time to time. If there are extended time frames when I am not playing and creating I now see that this coincides quite regularly with feelings of lethargy, sadness, boredom, general malaise and so on. Here is where being involved in a journaling class can give me the kick in the ass I need. Its like my muse has this wicked sense of humor and entices me to sign up for something, even when the practical office manager in me is saying, “But you already have too much to do my dear, how ever can you make the time for this class? Get real.” Fortunately the muse is very persuasive and manages to lure my inner artist to retrieve the credit card and sign up while the office manager is busy doing taxes or organizing her files. It is so worth it too, for I have loved, loved, loved, the several Storywalking courses that I have taken with Jenafer Owen. The current one began on March 1st and is called Storywalking: A Very Daring Tail. Click here to read more about the intriguing details and take note that the next course begins April 21st. These courses have forced me to be more in touch with the muse, my intuition, symbolism, signs and creative visions.
One of the recent activities we were asked to complete in The Daring Tail course involved an Oracle. If you want to try it out for yourself visit the Oracle here and write down what it has to tell you. Visit it three times in row, recording each cryptic message. Then sit with it. Ponder it. Look up the true definition of key words. Be surprised sometimes to learn that words can mean something other than you thought. After much reflection how have you translated the message of the Oracle? Let me share my recent communication.
It has grown more obvious to me how, when I am closed off and in task master mode, that I can be oblivious to noticing the nuances of spirit. When I slow down and open myself to creative spirit the influx of synchronistic images or words can be profound. In January and February I had felt like I needed a break from any new commitments and had abstained from taking any on-line courses. I was still in the mode of not taking anything new, but at the last minute I signed up for The Daring Tail course, which started on March 1st. There is a theme regarding mermaids and sea life in this course. Once I was signed up I had several occasions to note that mermaids and sea life images had been showing up around me for several weeks, but that I had not noticed. A couple of weeks into the course I also remembered how I had just read the novel The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd only a couple weeks prior. Even in the prior December Storywalking course I was astonished when flipping back a few journal pages to discover the funky mer-creature I had drawn, as well as my companion animal from a guided meditation, which was none other than a whale who had a very specific message for me: “We are going to plumb the depths…and swim among the stars.”
Lastly, one other way this past year that I have seeked out greater vision and communion with spirit, has been by participating in a personal Vision Quest with a spirit guide. One of the inspirations for the journey is the book The 13 Original Clan Mothers, by Jamie Sams. Each month I am to read the assigned chapter and create my shield. My shields took the form of prayer flags and that particular vision came to me the first day I spoke with my spirit guide. There are also additional monthly assignments to complete. The journey began last June and will come to a conclusion at the end of my 13th month. I will admit that sometimes I have felt like throwing in the towel. Sometimes I have felt like an imposter. Sometimes I have questioned if I am doing enough and/or doing it right. Yet I have committed to the journey and have grown to embrace that it is mine and is not to be compared to the journey of another. This Vision Quest has also pushed me to reside in a space of greater spiritual reflection.
What are some ways that you stay connected to source?
Do you have regular creative practices that
feed your soul and keep you inspired?
Have you ever noticed that if/when you drift away
from doing those things that feed your soul
that you start to feel down, blue and disconnected?
Any words of wisdom about how to keep your soul fire burning bright?
“Looks Far Woman is the Clan Mother who is the
Guardian of the Fourth Moon Cycle, which falls in April.
The full spectrum of pastel colors is connected to the
Clan Mother’s cycle, because she carries the
Medicine of Prophecy, see the truth in all colors.
She is the Doorkeeper of the Crack in the Universe
and the Golden Door of Illumination that
leads to all other dimensions of awareness.
She stands at the Crack in the Universe
and safely guides all human spirits taking Dreamtime journeys
into the other realms and then, back home,
being present and fully conscious of their bodies.
This Clan Mother is a Seer, an Oracle, a Dreamer, and a visionary.
She teaches us the validity of our impressions, dreams, visions
and feelings as they exist within our inner potential.
Looks Far Woman instructs humankind on how to unravel
the symbols found in psychic impressions.
She shows us how to see the truth in every vision we receive
in the tangible and intangible worlds.
In her wisdom, Looks Far Woman assists every seeker
in finding the seeds of personal and planetary prophecy
that the Great Mystery planted inside all human beings.”
~ Jamie Sams from The 13 Original Clan Mothers