Prayer Flags

One evening last week, I participated in a non-denominational discussion about Prayer.  The conversation swirled around questions such as “Do you pray?”, “To whom or what do you pray?”, “How do you pray?”, and “What is prayer?”.  Gatherings, where open-minded people can express differing views in a supportive environment, nourish my spiritual growth more than I can ever express.  I am so grateful for these opportunities!

While I heard a variety of answers to these questions, I soon realized that despite our differences, one thread connected us– we all yearn for a relationship with something greater than our Selves.

Transitioning from the discussion to an activity combining prayer and creative expression, our facilitator shared what she knew about prayer flags– their symbolism & intent.  Several of us were already familiar with them & looked forward to making our own, using art supplies including felt, paint, yarn, metallic ink, images from magazines, and bits of fabric.

prayer flags

Image from prayerflags.tumblr.com

We made ourselves comfortable so the facilitator could lead us in a guided visualization, allowing our minds to receive words & symbols to incorporate in our flags.  As I breathed deeply & settled into the experience, I heard a version of the Buddhist prayer, Loving Kindness, whisper in me.  That prayer was my inspiration.

Prayer Flag Me

May I be free from danger,

May I be free from fear,

May I be healthy,

May I dwell in peace.

pryaer flag you

May you be free from danger,

May you be free from fear,

May you be healthy,

May you dwell in peace.

Prayer Flag all

May all be free from danger,

May all be free from fear,

May all be healthy,

May all dwell in peace.

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Curtains Make It Cozy

With the majority of my kitchen renovation project completed, I can focus on decorating (my favorite part of any home project).  I’ll admit, I’m very selective when it comes to how I furnish my home for a few reasons.  First, it’s a reflection of me.  How I maintain my home says a lot about the kind of person I am.  Second, I want it to be warm & inviting for family & friends.  Third, I know I have to live with my choices for a long time so I want accessories & furnishings to be just right.

I spent weeks looking for curtains in a style that incorporated the golden yellow, sage green, & cranberry red that were in other elements throughout my kitchen.  It’s hard to find things in mainstream stores that aren’t mainstream so I decided to make them myself.  I ordered a beautiful Arts & Crafts-style template, purchased fabric paint, & sewed the curtains so they fit the space.  I visualized the finished product & got to work making it a reality.

stencil 1

stencil 2

It took hours over the course of a few days but they are finally done.  The curtains brighten the space & make it very inviting.  I absolutely love them!!

curtain 3

curtain 1

Handmade curtains, rugs, & decorative items personalize a space.  I hope these photos inspire you to create something unique for yourself or someone you love.

Love Is All You Need

“All you need is love, love.

Love is all you need”

The Beatles

Valentine’s Day can trigger a range of emotions from joy (if we are in a committed relationship with someone who remembers the holiday without being reminded) to disappointment (if our loved one forgets to buy us flowers or a card) to loneliness (if we don’t have a special someone in our lives at the moment).  I dare say we put too much emphasis on what other people say, do, & think.  We delude ourselves into believing that our measure of worth is determined by someone else but it’s not.  It’s truly not.

You are divine, uniquely you, & beyond compare.

What if you took part of tomorrow, a day that symbolizes LOVE, to love your Self no matter what a significant other, family member, or friend does or doesn’t do?  How liberating!  Your happiness won’t hinge on their actions or words!  Imagine that!!!  If you empower yourself with the ability to love, nourish, & nurture YOU, you’ll feel light & positive energy radiate from every pore. Its all connected– love, happiness, peace, acceptance, joy– and you can give those gifts to yourself by being your own best friend, your biggest advocate, & strongest supporter.

Have you heard the saying, “You can’t take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself.”?  The same is true of love.  You can’t truly love someone else until you learn to love your Self.  All of our other healthy relationships spring from our healthy relationship with our Selves.

There are many simple & inexpensive ways to show your Self love.  Answer this question truthfully, “What nourishes me, bringing me joy & a sense of peace?”  For me, it can be time on a nature trail, lounging in a hammock under the maple tree, reading a book as I float in my kayak, a patchouli-scented bubble bath, sketching with colored pencils, slowly sipping a chilled glass of Chardonnay, eating a spoonful of batter when I make my boyfriend brownies (hope he’s not reading this), or just meditating while my dogs snuggle against my legs.

Give yourself a Valentine by practicing Self love tomorrow, the next day, & the many days after that.  You deserve the best you can give you.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

What Are Dreams?

“Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”  Marsha Norman

I’ve always been a vivid dreamer– having use of all of my senses & emotions in full color dreams that are so “real” that I now refer to my total experience in physical form as my “awake life” & my “dream life”.  Two parts of the whole– equally important to my well-being.

In my childhood & early teens, I relished going to the bookstore where I could wade through multiple dream “dictionaries” & be told the meaning of my imagery by some “expert”, as if a total stranger can define my personal symbolism.  Eventually, I found myself saying “No, this doesn’t sound right” more often than not.

Not knowing what else to do, I began keeping a dream journal by the bed so I could record my dreams as soon as I woke up, before the scenes became fuzzy or lost forever.  I highly recommend this practice, especially for people who say they don’t dream or they can’t remember their dreams.  It’s like anything else you want to get good at, the more you practice, the better you’ll become at recalling this part of your life.  Set the intention before you go to sleep & write down anything & everything you remember when you wake up, even if it’s just a sentence or two.

Dreams fall into three categories, judging from my experience & decades of recording dreams. 

  • There are dreams that are obviously inspired by what you did during the day.  That category can include people from your life, scenes from a tv show, or themes from a book you read.  These are rather basic & easy to identify.  For example, I recently had a dream about waiting for people at a theater the same day I purchased tickets to a local production of Peter Pan.
  • There are dreams that help you work through an issue.  They send messages to you in your sleep about ways to resolve an issue, fix a problem, or handle a challenge.  For example, I had a dream that I was in a prisoner of war camp, planning a way to escape.  I knew I had to keep my head down & act like the other prisoners so the guards wouldn’t get suspicious.  That way, my chances of escaping unharmed would be better.  I woke up thinking, “Got it.  Message received.”
  • There are other dreams that are full of creative, unusual, or magical elements that cause you to wake up wondering, “Where did that come from?  There’s no way my imagination could have made that up!”  These dreams are the most important because they speak to the part of you that belongs to the universal consciousness, the part of you that understands ancient imagery & archetypal symbolism.  These dreams challenge us to deeply reflect on core values, beliefs, & perception of ourselves in the grand scheme of things.  For example, I had a dream that the road I travel daily was lined with larger-than-life statues of unicorns.  Nestled in the woods, a gift shop seemed to glow, beckoning me to enter.  Inside, I saw all manners of unicorn statues, art, & jewelry.  The shop keeper said, “None of these are for you.  I have what you need in the back.  Wait here.”  When she returned, she held a necklace shaped like a woman.  When I took it in my hands, the woman was me… with a unicorn horn.  That resonates with me & requires reflection to fully understand.  For now, I just marvel at how my mind works when I’m asleep & supposedly inactive or resting.

I never found a good teacher or reference book for my personal study of dreams but I don’t need one.  The messages are just for me & only I can figure them out.

Roots IV and V

My Roots series of acrylic paintings is complete & I can only sigh contentedly.  From the moment I saw these beautiful trees on a hiking trail to the rough sketches & finished paintings, I’ve been connected to these trees & happily entwined in their roots.

Roots V

Roots V

Roots IV

Roots IV: it really had a heart-shaped knothole.

Creation for me is co-creation, a union of artist & subject in a chosen medium.   When we can get out of our own way & let the process flow naturally, beautiful things can happen.  I feel that way about my Roots series.

Root Project

Roots series

Take a look at my Art Gallery page to see all my recent work. 

Check out the pieces for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan