Rhythms of the Year

If we are sensitive to the messages from the natural world,

we’ll recognize great truths that hold meaning for our own lives. 

That’s the message of Rhythms of the Year, a workshop I’ve designed that draws on a variety of earth-based traditions that respect the cycles of nature-  from the seasons of the year to the phases of the moon.  This new workshop is a year-long study for women who requested “something more” after attending almost 2 years of other workshops I facilitated.  I understand that not everyone can make this kind of a time commitment so I’m also designing a distilled version so the most important concepts can be explored in a shorter time period (maybe a week-long retreat or weekend introductory experience?  Who knows what will evolve!)  Rhythms of the Year teaches us to honor nature’s cycles & recognize how they impact the cycles in our own lives.  I truly believe that the rhythms in each of us mirror the rhythms in nature.

As the facilitator, it’s my responsibility (& privilege) to hold a sacred space for self-discovery & exploration… a safe, inviting, nurturing environment where participants can comfortably explore their own journey in the company of others doing the same thing, in their own way.  There’s laughter, tears, times to be serious, & times to be silly.  It’s who we are, where we are, at that moment in time.

Rhythms of the Year is a workshop that incorporates creative expression, spiritual exploration, & intuition to enhance self-awareness & understanding of the interconnectedness of all things.  Activities include the creation of vision boards, mandalas, & prayer flags; forms of writing; musical expression through dance, chanting, & drumming; mediation; prayer; & energy work.  I ask participants to “come with open minds & open hearts.  Take what resonates with you & leave the rest.”  This isn’t about adopting another person’s belief system; it’s about creating a more spiritually-meaningful, self-empowering life experience in whatever way works for you.

I’m excited about this workshop because it incorporates many of the practices that hold meaning for me & allows me to share them with others.  What I love about the workshops I lead is how they take on a life of their own.  Even though I can offer the same workshop multiple times, it inevitably evolves into something unique depending on the participants & what they bring to the experience.  We’re co-creators.  I’m really looking forward to seeing where this journey takes me & hope to share more with you soon.

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Haiku Inspired Art- Part 4

As Winter makes a last futile attempt to delay the coming Spring, I sit with a hot cup of coffee & my art supplies, watching snow blanket the blooming crocuses & daffodils… being present… & being still.

Crocus Haiku

Rising early,

crocuses cheer.

Contagious optimism!!

Daffodil Haiku

Arms open wide-

twirling & swirling.

Daffodil dervish.

Snowy Feeder Haiku

March snowfall,

wet & heavy.

Spring gets one last nap.

Spring Beginnings

Mourning doves coo from rooftops & robins happily chirp on bare branches, announcing the arrival of Spring.  “Welcome back, everyone!”, I say with a smile, always glad to see animals return to the area.

Smaller birds are gathering straw & twigs for the nests they are building in my 14-room bird “palace”.  Soon, baby birds will be heard calling out to their mothers, “Feed me!”  Last month, my boyfriend took down the birdhouse, cleaned out last year’s abandoned nests, replaced rotting wood, & raised the birdhouse back on its post to make it an inviting space for expectant moms.

Birdhouse

Look closely, the middle room on the upper level is already someone’s new home.

Bright greens, yellows, & purples replace the greys, browns, & whites of winter, brightening my mood as well as my yard.  After months of drab neutrals, pops of color dance before my eyes.

crocus1

crocus2

daffodils

I can’t help it; I’m excited!!  I want to clear away the dead plants that no longer feed or shelter wildlife.  I want to throw open the windows so the brisk breeze can deliver freshness & positive energy to my home.  And, I want to give myself a thorough “spring cleaning”, too.  For me, this means releasing thoughts, habits, & experiences that no longer serve the greatest & highest good.

What has been outgrown?

What should be nurtured?

If we tune in to nature & tune in to ourselves at the same time, we’ll find that what’s happening around us is happening in us as well.  New ideas flow like sap.  Dreams blossom into reality like crocuses rising from the decaying leaves.  Seeds planted in our lives mirror the seeds planted in the soil.  The interconnectedness of all things…

My First Kirtan

Music unites people in a way that no other form of communication can.  The rhythms & emotions cross all racial, ethnic, religious, & political lines & I wholeheartedly celebrate that!

“One Love” gets it.   This 4-person band uses kirtans to repeatedly chant names for the Divine that cross all faiths.  The night I attended their performance, I soon learned it wasn’t a “performance” at all.  The band & audience members joined to chant various names for Source, including Espiritu de Dios, Allah, Krishna, Sita, Ram, Red Tara, Ganesha, Kali, & Sarasvati.  One Love believes that “each repetition of the Name is a sip of that sweet nectar that is the Divine Presence.  The interesting paradox is that through chanting the Names, we deepen into the experience of the Nameless.”

Before joining their global ecstatic chant last weekend, I did a little research to find out “kirtan” is call & response chanting.  It is a Sanskrit word meaning communicate, celebrate, & praise.  These hymns or mantras are accompanied by a variety of instruments from guitars to drums & flutes.  I found it sublime.

My personal favorite was a chant inspired by a Navajo prayer…

Beauty before me

Beauty behind me

Beauty beneath me

Beauty above me

Beauty beside me

And all around me

Beauty encircles me with love.

I loved being in the company of like-minded individuals who value the interconnectedness of all things & respect spiritual traditions from cultures around the world.  For a couple of magical hours that night, we deepened our connection to the Divine & one another.  It was a profoundly beautiful & unifying experience.

Please check out One Love’s website… http://onelovechant.com

When It Snowed…

Last Wednesday, a big winter snowstorm was predicted by the weathermen.  Appointments were canceled & businesses closed in preparation.  I could bemoan the change in conditions that compelled me to stay home… or…

I can be thankful for…

  • the opportunity to stay in my pajamas, while enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee in bed.
  • the chance to daydream as I savor the beauty of snow gently coating the brown earth & bare tree branches.
  • the smell of homemade soup simmering in a crock pot while a double chocolate cake bakes in my oven.
  • time to write in my journal, tucked under a fuzzy blanket.
  • the inks, handmade papers, & paints that were beckoning me to play in my art studio.  (Here’s the result.)

Hands Art Journal

Most of all, I’m grateful for a day to be still & savor the quiet moments that snowfall brings.

Baby Steps

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, & endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”  Henry David Thoreau

I gravitate to inspirational quotes like this when I’m preparing to go in the direction of my dreams & hoping to meet with “success unexpected in common hours.”  Keep talking, Thoreau; I hear you & I know you’re right.  And while I’d like to stride confidently in the direction of my dreams, more often than not, I take cautious baby steps instead.  Why?  Because I can’t see the destination & running in the dark seems a certain way to trip & fall.  I prefer baby steps, slow & steady.  I’ll pick up speed when I’m more sure of where I’m going.

Change is scary but staying in a situation that you’ve outgrown, that makes you unhappy, or that causes you to compromise your Self is scarier.  I know this from experience.  A little over a decade ago, I was in a position where I had to ask myself, “Is this really how I want to spent the rest of my life?”  The answer was an emphatic “NO!”   I couldn’t articulate exactly what I wanted but I knew what I didn’t want.  That’s the time to take a baby step, when the dream is germinating but hasn’t pushed through the soil into the sunlight of awareness.  Baby steps are perfect for when you aren’t sure which direction to walk, you just know you don’t want to stand still.

Baby steps are also a great way to proceed when the journey seems overwhelming.  For example, when I graduated from college, I had a mountain of debt that seemed impossible to repay.  I had no idea how I’d pay it off but I knew drowning in debt wasn’t an option for me.  Giving up is never an option for me.  I paid $10 here and $100 there, month by month, until it was finally gone.  Baby steps.

Am I writing this for you, dear readers, or am I writing this for me?  Yes & yes.

It’s time for a baby step.  To be continued…