Slow and Deliberate

I’ve been recording my dreams for over 30 years, keeping journals & reflecting on the meaning of my dreams for I believe they are messengers that can inform our lives.  In the past few years, I’ve extended my dreamwork wisdom to workshops & women’s groups, with the intention of helping others use their intuitive wisdom to interpret their own dreams.

Our inner council (intuition, gut, guardian angel, etc…) works for our highest good.  It’s up to us to acknowledge that & make changes as needed.

In a recent dream, a white alligator protected a younger version of myself.  The alligator sat half-submerged in the water, unmoving yet vigilant & alert to her surroundings.  Nothing escaped her notice.  I sat timidly in the shelter of some exposed tree roots where the water met the shore.  I was hiding but never saw what the danger was.  The alligator knew… she would make sure I stayed safe.

When I awoke,  I referenced Animal Speak by Ted Andrews.  This resource is full of animal facts & symbolic interpretations that have guided me well for years.  Even if I dream about the same animal more than once, I’m able to get something different & relevant from this book.  This time, the part that resonated for me was a few sentences on the alligator’s eating habits & how it digests its food very slowly.  That spoke to where I am now.  I’m taking in a lot of new information from a variety of sources.  Some is worth retaining & applying to my life.  Other information is merely that endless stream of garbage from the internet, the news, & print media.

If the alligator dream wasn’t enough of a message, I read Grandmothers Counsel the World by Carol Schaefer.  The passage I read aligned perfectly with the dream.  In it, Schaefer quotes a Yupik elder (a tribe of indigenous people near the Arctic Circle) who said, “Yupiks believe it is significant that we are born very small & grow slowly, not eating right away, slowly developing our awareness of the world.”

Synchronicity… I’m hearing the same message to “slow down & be deliberate with my actions” from more than one source.  I take this to mean that I need to limit the intake of information so I can slowly process what I’ve already learned.  Digest what I’ve already bitten off before taking another bite.  To stay in balance, I need to proceed at a pace that’s right for me.  These messages alert me to the fact that I’ve been so eager to learn, grow, & move on to a new project that I’m at risk of making careless mistakes. Instead of working shallow & broad, I need to work deep & narrow, focusing on what truly matters.  What I do is meaningful & I need to take it to a new level without being distracted by the rest of the information bombarding my mind, heart, & soul.

Dreams are powerful.  I’ll honor my own inner wisdom & heed what they have to say.

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Sacred Journey: Personal Mapping

We think we know our stories well because we’ve told them so many times– tales of the choices we made, choices we didn’t make, & things that happened that were out of our control.  Time changes our stories, smoothing the rough edges of some experiences; eroding others until they fade from memory; & leaving some to stand as monuments to who we “think” we are.  We believe what we can articulate is the whole truth about ourselves.  Quite often, words are not enough & we must use a different modality to reveal what lies under the surface of our story.  The deeper meaning of who we our… our Pure Selves.

Each of us is a pilgrim on a sacred journey, where the past shapes the present & the future… & even doubles back on itself at times.  Yet, the past does not define us.  The past is the part of the path we have traveled & the present is the place on the path where we are standing at this moment.  Seeing life as a sacred journey doesn’t erase painful memories but it softens them & helps us view each experience as a source of wisdom or at least, a lesson learned.

Replace the tendency toward judgement of “good” & “bad” with the understanding of “wisdom gained” & “lessons learned”.

I believe the intellect can get in the way of spiritual growth.  We want to analyze situations to get clear, easy “answers” as to why things happen.  Sometimes, the only way to get beyond the logical mind is to try a non-logical approach.  This is why I challenge workshop participants & clients to use creative expression to more intimately connect with their authentic selves, diving into the deep waters where the heart & soul can speak their truth.

My Sacred Journey: a treasure map of my past & present, ending with an image representing my future.

My Sacred Journey: a treasure map of experiences & people who have influenced my spiritual growth.

I developed Sacred Journey: Personal Mapping as a visual way for members of a newly formed womens’ group to introduce themselves to one another & beginning forming meaningful connections with one another.  I explained that there would be three components to their maps.  1.  Images or words portraying their spiritual path to this point.  2.  A representation of where they are, spiritually, in the present moment.   3.  A symbol of where they would like to be, spiritually, in the near future.   That’s it.  That’s all the direction I gave.  You can imagine the variety of reactions I got from each woman, depending on her comfort level with artistic expression.

The point of Sacred Journey Maps is to express something the intellect cannot easily explain with words.  Creative expression gives voice to the soul.  Something surprising & yet recognizable emerges, when you act from heart rather than the mind.  That something is Pure You, your higher self.  You know it when it happens because when your soul speaks through the creative process, there is a physical reaction in your body, usually the solar plexus region or a tightening in your chest… the heart chakra.  There is recognition & an acknowledgement that this is your truth.

After a guided visualization designed to prepare the way for the soul to speak & a brief period of meditation, I set the women free in a room full of art supplies– magazines, adhesive-backed letters, inks, paints, markers, embellishments, scissors, glue, & large sheets of Bristol board.  The images below show the wide variety of Sacred Journey Maps made by the participants.  Each map is a powerful reminder that life is a sacred journey.

Kathy MapCatharine Map

Molly Map Joanne Map

Join in the Dance

The image of women dancing in the light of an enormous full moon has brewed in my imagination for some time now.  Our natural cycle is so closely linked to the cycle of the moon that a painting showing this connection is particularly meaningful for me.  Several women clasp hands as they twirl in the sand; while a lone figure reaches out to them.  Who is she?  Is she hesitating?  Is she eager to join in the dance?  Is she me?  Is she you?

Visit my Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan to see this painting & my other work.

Join in the Dance:  20"x24" acrylic painting

Join in the Dance: 20″x24″ acrylic painting

Heaven on Earth is a Choice

“Heaven on Earth is a choice we must make,

not a place we must find.”

Dr. Wayne Dyer

Choices.  We’ve each made a million of them.  Some choices are inconsequential… tuna fish or ham for lunch?  Some affect us deeply, leading us either closer to our authentic selves or further away.  Even something as monumental as recognizing heaven on earth is a choice… a shift in perspective… a change in attitude.  What this means is that it’s in our power to choose.  It’s in our power to see heaven on earth, not a select few of us who belong to a specific religion but each & every one of us.

To get the meaning of those words to stream out of my head & flow down into my heart & bubble in my soul takes something more than acknowledging that this logically makes sense.  It takes a decision.  It takes saying, “I choose to focus on other things.  I choose to let go of what isn’t mine to fix or change.  I choose to put my energy into things that bring balance, peace, love, & joy into my life in greater quantities than ever before.”  For you see, when I fill my mind with worry & my days with negativity, I have no space for the positive.  There is no way to see heaven on earth when I’m worried about people & experiences that can cast dark shadows over my life, IF I LET THEM.

Before it sounds like I’m oversimplifying this, I know we all go through dark nights of the soul, genuine times in our lives when tragedy strikes a loved one or ourselves.  We’d love to blink our eyes or click our heels together like Dorothy Gale & escape.  Sometimes, the only way to get through a challenging period is to just get through it.  I was in the room when my father was dying, holding his hand & literally feeling him cross over.  I’ve experienced divorce.  I’ve lost sleep over a stressful job.  I recognize that it’s not easy & that change doesn’t necessarily happen over night.  However, the only way to move upward or outward is to first make the choice to get up, dust yourself off,  & do it.  See that things can be different.  See that you aren’t stuck.  See that while you might not be in heaven on earth, it still exists & you can get there from here.

Decide to make a decision.  Choose to make a choice. 

 

Restoring Balance

I need creation to balance destruction.  I need nurturing to balance power.  I need love to balance hatred & intolerance.  

How do I find balance when bombarded with information & technology every waking moment?  I quiet myself & dive ever deeper into my spiritual practice to bring to the surface valuable pearls of wisdom from wherever I can find them– native traditions, poetry, art, mainstream religions, & most importantly right now, goddess faiths– beliefs that enhances my spiritual life with the sole purpose of making my entire existence more spiritual.  I don’t cling to the past; I make it relevant in my present.

As I drove to Alexandria VA on Saturday for an art date with my sister, I listened to Sally Kempton’s audio CD titled Shakti Meditations.  On the first of 4 CDs, she explores such topics as the feminine face of spirit, the power of the goddesses, & experiencing goddess energies.  While Kempton’s CD focuses on Indian deities, I consider all those I’ve studied from around the world– Yemaya, Lakshmi, Arianrhod, Brighid, Diana, & Oshun, to name a few.  I’m not called to worship them, per se, but I feel called to honor them as symbols of the attributes women possess at various stages of life.  I study them to better understand myself.

For example, I’m going through a rather long period of “nesting”.  I’m tending my home as if preparing for something sensed but yet not seen on the horizon.  Like Hestia, I’m keeping the hearth fire burning as well as the flame within myself, as I’ve described in a previous post.

There are moments when I embody the compassion of Kuan Yin, the passion of Pele, the love of Aphrodite, & the intellect of Athena.  I’m a creator– painting canvases, experimenting with a new recipe for dinner, & designing flower beds that will bloom in the spring.  I’m a nurturing mother figure– caring for my dogs every minute of every day, nourishing Jim with a hearty Irish stew on a frigid winter evening, & supporting women through my sacred work.  I’m a warrior– standing up for myself in situations where I must, speaking up for those whose voice goes unheard, & protecting what matters most to me.

From all this study & meditation, I have come to believe with all my being that truth, beauty, & wisdom can be found anywhere, if we look with openness of heart, mind, & soul.  And when I say “everywhere”, I mean outside of ourselves & within ourselves.  Or, to put it another way, Rumi wrote, “I looked in temples, churches, & mosques.  But I found the divine within my heart.”

Recognizing the divine within myself restores much needed balance.  It’s not about the job, the possessions, & the little dramas playing out around me; my spiritual practice (yes, it’s always PRACTICE) acknowledges the divine spark in each of us & the sacredness of the world around me.  And it’s that understanding that brings peace, allows creation, & infuses my life with light & love.

New Painting: Divine Light

The up side to all of this snow & ice is plenty of time to stay inside where it’s warm & create new art.  This acrylic painting is symbolic of the Divine Light that is in each of us…. I deliberately kept her faceless so we could each see ourselves in her image.

Divine Light:  It flows through each of us & radiates from us.

Divine Light: It flows through each of us & radiates from us.

Visit my Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan to see this painting & my other work.

 

 

 

Red Tent World Summit

Back in November, I screened Things We Don’t Talk About: Women’s Stories from the Red Tent, a phenomenal documentary about the Red Tent movement sweeping the country… & indeed, the world.  According to Dr. Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, producer of this movie, “The Red Tent movement is changing the way that women interact & support each other by providing a place that honors & celebrates women, & by enabling open conversations about the things that women don’t want to talk about in other venues.”  As the credits appearing across the screen at the end of the movie, the very first comment a viewer said was “When are we going to have a Red Tent here?”  Everyone nodded their heads or spoke out in agreement, “We need a Red Tent in our community.”

I was very bold (on the surface) & said, “I hadn’t thought that far ahead but let me see what I can do.”  Now, keep in mind that I’ve never organized an event like this before.  Sure, I lead workshops, hold a monthly spirit circle, & teach classes on the Divine Feminine & other topics for women & preteen girls but this is something completely out of my comfort zone.  When I want something badly while fear whispers “Don’t do it!” in my ear, I have to ignore that shadow aspect of myself & do it anyway.  Close my eyes & leap.

So I did.  I booked the perfect space for the event to be held March 15th & started promoting it.  I’m giving my first tent event the theme of “Embracing Change”.  I don’t know if any other Red Tent organizer does that but the women in my community expressed a need to talk about major changes that they were going through so I thought setting that intention would attract the people who need that support & sharing the most.  I envision our tent having a large space for a Wisdom Circle to meet.  That’s my term for the gathering of any & every woman who wants to share her truth for we each are the keepers of our own wisdom.  I’ll also separate the space into a couple of smaller areas for rest, intimate conversations, writing, & creating art work.  A woman even offered to share her massage skills with the others who attend.  The space is circular, which is ideal for this gathering.  Circles are symbolic of nature, allow us to face one another without one being any greater or any less than the others, & allow us to go within at the same time.  For me, they symbolize creation as well as the void that manifests creation.

Since the November screening of the movie, women who hadn’t seen it asked me to show it again, which I did in January.  The room was full of women from various backgrounds & ages ranging from the 30s to the 70s.  Once more, I was asked, “When are we having a Red Tent?”  It validated what I was doing for the community & gave me the courage to continue moving forward with the idea of hosting the very first Red Tent in my city, despite the little voice of fear that still whispers, “Why you?  You’ve never done this before.”  There has to be a first time.  And since this speaks so strongly to my heart, I have to be the one.

I’m a strong believer in synchronicity so when a friend in CA shared an invitation from Deanna Lam to join the Red Tent in Every Neighbourhood World Summit, I jumped at the chance.  You can join it, too.  It’s an online summit where women leaders share brief video clips answering three questions.

1)  How would your life have been different if you had a Red Tent in Your Neighborhood when you were growing up?

2)  What nourishes your soul when you are in your blood or, if you are past that stage, when you were in your blood?

3)  What would feed your soul if there was a Red Tent in your neighborhood now?

The online summit started February 1 & continues to the end of the month with one video clip per day.  So far, Brooke Medicine Eagle, Susun Weed, Jane Hardwicke Collings, & Rachel Hertog have spoken.  One of the nice things about how Deanna organized this summit is that you can go back & listen to any messages you missed.  Registration is super-easy & free!!!!

Please join us!  It’s an amazing experience & reminds me daily that I’m not alone in my desire to help women & girls see the Divine within themselves & have the courage to live their authentic lives.

Deanna Lam’s Red Tent World Summit