Standing on Solid Ground

On Solid Ground by Susan Korsnick

On Solid Ground. Mixed media piece by Susan Korsnick

Standing on Solid Ground in Shaky Times

This past week, I realized that many of the women I came in contact with were voicing the same concerns that I was voicing to myself.  “How do I keep getting up in the morning when all I hear is news about hatred, greed, ignorance, deception, and abuse of power?”  “How do I keep vigilant and actively involved when I’m so exhausted?”  “I’m only one person.  How can I possibly do this?”

One of the most important things I can do is continually remind myself that there are millions of people around the world doing great things– speaking out in support of diversity, doing what they can to safeguard immigrants, actively engaging in ways to help Mother Earth and protect all beings, defending women’s rights to have autonomy over our own bodies, voting, marching, RESISTING.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;

only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate;

only love can do that.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Our current “situation” is calling us to take a stand like most of us have never had to do before.  I’m a baby boomer, born in the 1960s.  I was still crawling when Civil Rights supporters were marching.  I was wearing rompers when women were burning their bras.  For most of my life, I took for granted that someone else had done my fighting for me and the fight was over.  But now, we are all being called to resist darkness in all it’s forms and the emotions that often accompany challenging times- fear, despair, anxiety, and depression.  At times, I want to say “I don’t have it in me to fight.”  But I do.  I know I do.  We all do if we do it together and maintain our footing on solid ground.  Stay grounded in what matters most.

What does LifeBook have to do with it?

I’m quite an admirer of Tamara LaPorte’s LifeBook online art class.  The yearlong online art class approaches art as a pathway to self-awareness, healing, and creative expression.  Each week, Tam or one of her many guest instructors share a lesson that participants can follow closely or use as inspiration for whatever their intuitive knowing calls them to create.  There is a Facebook group where we can share our art and personal journey with others.  Having a support system is vital to creative expression and resiliency in difficult times.

Lindsay Weirich recently offered a lesson called Solid Ground, which profoundly moved and inspired me to create the piece you see above.  There is deep shadow and contrasting light on the woman and subtle hearts around her.  She is me.  She might be you.  The words say “Self Love is not self indulgence.  Self Love is self preservation.”  It is my reminder to stay grounded in love.

Self Love is a Key to Wellness

Staying grounded, for me, is a multi-faceted approach to wellness and at the core is Self Love.  We have to take care of ourselves in every way.  Physically, we need to stay rooted in the present moment.  This keeps fear of the future and imaginary “what-ifs” at bay.  Mentally, stay focused on what we can do and how we can do it.  Then, recognize when it is time to stop and honor our need for rest.  Emotionally, stay heart-centered and express gratitude for all that is good in life.  Spiritually, stay grounding in what we believe and our connection to Source, Universal Love, Spirit, God, or Goddess (however you identify the divine).

A few years ago I hosted a Red Tent Event where self-love was our focus.  I reflected on this in my blog post Refilling the Well.   When we are under stress or fearful, we forget that we have the answers available to us if we listen to our inner wisdom, to our higher selves.  The Red Tent participants explored ways to ground themselves and shared their experiences in a sacred Wisdom Circle.  Each woman had unique ways that nourish her.  I can’t remember what I shared that day but I can share what keeps me on solid ground today.

Ways I Stay on Solid Ground

  1. ART–  Creative expression is a powerful outlet for feelings and a way to nourish myself at the same time.  When I play music (current favorites are Shamanic drumming, Reiki CDs, healing mantras, and songs of divine feminine beings like Kuan Yin and Tara) while I create, the very act of creation becomes a contemplative practice.  My art is sacred.  This holy act of creation connects me to the Divine and my highest self.
  2. NATURE– From my earliest walks in the woods of central Pennsylvania with my beloved grandfather to a vision quest in the mountains of Vermont, I have always felt a deep connection to Mother Earth and all beings.  I feel at one with the wildlife, every winged, four-legged, slithering, swimming, being in all of creation.  I feel a kinship with the rocks, trees, sky, earth, and water.  All is one.  Mother Earth is what I value above all else for I know that without Her, there is nothing else.  This is what nourishes me and what I am fighting for.  I live my life to protect and honor nature as best I can.
  3. BODY WORK– Massages and related services keep me grounded in my body and relax me so I can maintain my energy level and health.
  4. GRATITUDE– I balance the messages in the media with a daily gratitude practice.  I give thanks for all that I appreciate having in my life.  Focusing on the positives provides the balance I need.  I often call these gratitudes my “Little Joys”.
  5. RELATIONSHIPS– Here, I’m talking about all of my relationships- family, friends, colleagues, as well as other like-minded people who value what I do and stand up for their beliefs.  Being in community with like-minded individuals dispels the illusion that we are alone in this.  We are not!  There are grassroots groups in just about every town and city in this country.  There are online groups as well.  Find your tribe.
  6. SLEEP– I am getting better at listening to my body and honoring my need for rest.
  7. EAT WELL-  As much as possible, I eat a rainbow.  That is a wonderful visual for reminding me to eat fruits and vegetables that are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.  I don’t want to leave out brown so I eat plenty of chocolate and drink good coffee, too!  (These are little luxuries that make life worth living.)
  8. ENERGY WORK– Reiki sessions align my chakras, keep the universal life-force energy flowing, and allow me to relax.
  9. INSPIRING PEOPLE– Focus on the inspirational people, past and present, who are way-showers for me.  I particularly find comfort and inspiration in the stories of everyday men and women who stood up for what they believed in despite their fear or anxiety.  What can one person do?  One person can change the world!  There has only been one Mother Teresa, one Gandhi, one Rosa Parks,… just one of each.  There is only one you and only one me.  We matter.
  10. HAVE FUN–  I can walk the dogs, watch Grace and Frankie, go out with friends, or just play with my art supplies enjoying the process with no thought of product.

May you identify what keeps you on solid ground.

May you find peace and balance.

May you find your tribe and your strength.

May you always know that you matter.

Namaste

 

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Little Joys- Part 1

There are so many little joys to be grateful for in life, treasured not for their grandness or “importance” but for the happiness they bring to each moment if we heighten our awareness of the present.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in obligations, multitasking to fit it all in.  But if we can stop and take time to notice, these little joys gift us with peace, a smile, and connection to all that is positive.

I’ve been recording some of the many little joys in my life via Instagram and Facebook but want to share them with my blog friends as well.  What Little Joys bring light to your life?

Art Supplies

My art supplies… always beckoning me, inspiring me, and encouraging me to play.

Birdhouses

My backyard bird haven… plenty of shelter, water, and food. Seeing them flit about happily brings me joy.

Coffee in the Morning

That first cup of coffee in the morning, made even more special by being in a favorite mug.

Crocuses

Purple crocuses bring the message that spring will soon be here!

Daffodils

Sunshine yellow daffodils soon follow crocuses.

Evening Walk with Pups

Evening walks with the dogs. My way to release the stress of the day , transition into my personal life, and take time to notice the little joys in nature with my pups.

Freyjas Soulful Eyes

Freyja’s soulful eyes. This gorgeous girl was once someone’s helpless puppy mill breeding dog but luckily for both of us, she’s been my little girl for 3 years, bringing me joy with every soulful expression on her face. I think we rescued each other!

Rag Rugs

Rag rugs are a great way to salvage scraps of material and give them new life. Each piece has a story. I made this rug over 20 years ago and enjoy the vibrancy and cheerfulness of every color.

Sily Socks

Silly socks… just because.

Warm Cinnamon Rolls

Warm cinnamon rolls with icing drizzled on the top. Comfort food at its best.

Does the dream align with joy & meaning?

I’ve been intrigued by what I’m reading in Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection:  Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be and Embrace Who You Are.  “Gosh Susan, why are you reading that?”  Because I’m a recovering Type A, overachieving, perfectionistic, list-maker… emphasis on the word “RECOVERING”.  Years ago, when I was first told that I had type B negative blood, I seriously thought, “Why couldn’t it be an A?”  I’m not joking.  That was honestly my initial thought!

That’s how much my perfectionist tendencies were ingrained in me.  I can laugh at that now but it’s taken a while to see that this perfectionism, while it helped me get where I am today, didn’t just prevent me from enjoying success.  It kept me from enjoying the present.

So I’ve chosen a path of greater self-acceptance & gentleness.  I’m by no stretch of the imagination a “reformed perfectionist” but I’m well on the road to recovery.

If there was a 12-step program for overachievers, it would include:  

1.  Gentleness

2.  Patience

3.  Gratitude

4.  Love

5.  Acceptance

6.  Trust

7.  Surrender

8.  Bravery

9.  Joy

10.  Openness

11.  Passion

12.  Nurturing

Brene Brown asks us to consider whether or not the dream we have for our future aligns with what brings joy and meaning to our lives.  Or, is the dream list merely a list of accomplishments and acquisitions, such as “get a promotion”. “add a new addition to the house”, or “buy a boat”.  Am I driven to follow a path of joy & meaning or is the perfectionism driving me to pursue things that keep me chained to a life of constant reaching, striving, gaining, & reaching for more?  Am I trying to please myself or impress someone else?

Intriguing… and an opportunity for me to make TWO lists!  (I said I was recovering.)  I eagerly grabbed a sheet of loose-leaf paper (the best for list-making) & divided the page into two columns.  The left side was “Joy & Meaning” and the right side was “My Dream for My Future”.

Let’s see how well these two align…  Under Joy & Meaning, the list included my boyfriend, dogs, creative expression, nature, good food, friends, serenity, and my spirituality.  Easy.  Let’s see what’s under the dream category…. more time with Jim, dogs, my art, nature, friends, and spiritual exploration.  (Quite a few that relate to my professional life but I’ll keep those to myself.)  There were no material possessions on that list and no accomplishments outside of the burning desire (need) to have a more meaningful, joyful professional life.  For me, what I dream of having in greater quantities are those things that already bring joy and meaning to my life.  (And having the wisdom, courage, & support to shed what doesn’t.)

“Is the dream you are pursuing aligned with what brings the most joy and meaning to your life?”  

 

 

Wisdom from My Garden: Meditation on a Blueberry Bush

Picking blueberries in my back garden in the coolness of the morning is both a meditation & a prayer of gratitude for me.  I planted the 8 bushes that line one side of my yard, nurturing them over the years so they can produce flavorful berries that nourish me, my loved ones, & the local wildlife (which I also consider my loved ones).  The act of gardening is a spiritual experience, connecting me to all that is.  It also allows me to quickly disconnect my overactive mind & fall into a gentle easiness that a familiar task can bring.

There is no need to analyze or worry for I know from a lifetime of experience that all I must do is pluck the plump berries that fall easily from the branch.  If I have to tug at the berry to get it to fall into my pail, it’s not ready& all I gain from forcing the situation is a hard, sour berry that is unpleasant to eat.  I’m finding life works in exactly the same way… if I have to force it, whatever “it” is, it’s most likely not going to work out the way I’d like it to.  Yes, I must show up & invest wholeheartedly in the moment, but it’s equally important that I willingly surrender to the natural flow of things.  We’ve all been there & we all know the difference between when something feels right & when something feels forced.

Blueberry Bounty

Blueberry Bounty

I have also learned that if I look at the bush from one perspective, I may think I’ve seen all there is to see, missing out on the bounty that may be tucked under some leaves or hidden around the back of the bush.  Shifting my perspective allows me to see  a treasure that wasn’t visible from my own narrow viewpoint.  I can carry this lesson into my daily life & relationships… acknowledging that my point of view is just that– one point of view– and that there are other perspectives I can consider, opening my soul to understanding, compassion, & empathy.

There is wisdom in books, gurus, & retreat centers but there is a simple yet profound wisdom gained by being still, being present, & being authentic.  This I can do in my own back garden, among the blueberry bushes.

Happy Thanks-Giving!

There are a few holidays that we celebrate in the US that don’t resonate with me.  Columbus Day, commercialized Christmas, & Thanksgiving.  “Thanks Giving” is a great concept; however, our version of it is a bit Euro-centric, to say the least.

I recently discovered a book titled 1621 Thanksgiving: A New Look, published by the National Geographic Society.  It caught my eye because it’s so different from the Thanksgiving books I was exposed to as a child.  Instead of a group of Pilgrims dominating the cover, this book has a beautiful photo of a Native American woman on the front.  It was written by the Plimoth Plantation (that’s how it’s spelled in the book) in collaboration with the Wampanoag Indian Program Advisory Committee.  Wow!!!  A book about Thanksgiving that Native American people co-wrote.  I eagerly devoured the story, confirming that it isn’t the pilgrim-version of Thanksgiving that I want to celebrate… it’s the Wampanoag-version of “Thanks Giving” that speaks to my spirit.  Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday; it’s a way of living in gratitude all year long.

I don’t need to wait until the 4th Thursday in November to express gratitude for all those I love dearly, my health, my cozy home, my backyard retreat that nourishes both people & native wildlife, art, Mother Nature, & countless other things that mean so much.  My Thanks Giving ritual will occur far more often.

May you have a happy Thanksgiving & many reasons to give thanks every day of the year!

Blueberries for Everyone

It’s the start of blueberry season, a treasured time of year because I can pluck warm, juicy, perfectly ripened berries from the bush & pop them into my eager mouth.  You have to have this experience for yourself to know the world of difference between freshly-picked & store-bought berries.  There is no comparison!

Two years ago, I asked my boyfriend to build a wooden structure covered with netting to keep the birds off the blueberries.  After spending all day running errands, I came home to find a mourning dove with her wing tangled in the netting, flailing to free herself.  How long had she been trapped like that?!  I helped her get loose & thankfully, she flew away unharmed.  No amount of blueberries was worth seeing her frightened & distressed so I vowed to do things differently next year.

Last year, I didn’t cover the bushes at all.  While I thought I could get up early enough in the morning to get a few berries before the birds got them, it never happened.   Sure, the birds were happy but I was starving for blueberry pancakes, muffins,& smoothies.  Again, I vowed to do things differently next year.

It’s taken a couple of years but I think I’ve worked out a way to do this without being “extreme” in my methods (or ideology).  The solution… compromise.  (Isn’t that so often the solution?)  This year, we designed the perfect protection for the blueberries so we can enjoy them now & have plenty to freeze for winter while leaving two bushes uncovered to feed the birds.

Berries for Us

Berries for the Birds

This compromise is a symbol of my gratitude for what Mother Nature has given me as well as my belief that we must share what we have with others.  By freely sharing our abundance, there is more for me & more for the birds, too.  We all win!

Who knew that blueberry bushes would come to represent my spiritual journey? 

Plenty for Everyone

Today’s Treasure

Yesterday morning, I strolled my back garden to greet every plant, gaze at every flower, & anticipate every bud.  There were two open blossoms on my poppy plant when I began mowing the grass & four by the time I finished mowing 45 minutes later.  That quickly, buds with potential became fully formed flowers, petals open to embrace the sunlight & warm breeze.

Opening to greet the new day!

Nature is my all-time favorite teacher, gently reminding me of the impermanence of everything.  “Be present”, She whispers, “Immerse your Self fully in each precious moment.  And know that if you are going through a challenging time, it will pass.  Change, as you know my Dear, is inevitable.”

So, this morning, I began the day with a mindful walk through the garden, savoring what IS & grateful that I’m right HERE, right NOW.  I can’t mourn yesterday’s spent blossoms because my tears would blind me to today’s magnificent beauty.

Yesterday’s blooms

Today’s new opportunity

Tomorrow’s promise

Dream Big & Believe

A friend shared her dream of starting a new career in the culinary arts.  (Her current career is one that dropped in her lap after college but has no resemblance to her dream whatsoever.)  I told her to go for it.  While I can’t promise that all of her dreams will come true, I am certain that none of them will come true if she doesn’t try.

It seems that people all around me are having the “should I be content with my present circumstances or should I follow my dreams” debate as if these have to be “either/or” choices.  I propose that we can have both.  We can have gratitude for the many blessings we have yet want to have more meaning or new experiences in our lives.  We can enjoy the present while reaching higher.

Big dreams continue to manifest in my life as big opportunities so I’m speaking from a lifetime of experience, a place of true knowing.   Dreams (and courage) got me to try spelunking (once!), buy my own home, walk away from a bad relationship, & assist with Dale Chihuly’s installation of a glass exhibit within the old city walls of Jerusalem, to name a few.  I have countless other examples of how dreams became reality for me & I’m confident they will continue to do so. 

Dreaming may sound like a luxury, especially in these challenging economic times, but it’s not.  Dreaming leads to doing.  And it’s the “doing” that improves the quality of life for us, those whose lives we touch, & our home- Mother Earth.  Many of the great self-help gurus will tell you that if you are doing well at a job you don’t like, just think how successful you can be doing something you do like!  It all starts with a dream… a thought.

  And it has to start now… ONE DREAMER AT A TIME.

What is your dream for your Self?