The Web of Life

“Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.  All things are bound together.  All things connect.”  

Chief Seattle (1780-1866)

Treasure in the Gulf

Treasure in the Gulf:  My homage to the lives lost to the horrific BP Oil Disaster of 2010.

With all of the darkness right now from the embarrassing US presidential scene to Orlando shootings, I am choosing to stand on the side of love and light.  I will do what I can from a place of joy, love, honor, and respect.  For me, that is creating art that lifts up what I value most — nature, the Divine in everything, and the beauty in the everyday.

On April 20, 2010, the horrific BP oil disaster killed and injured countless animals and damaged miles of sea and land.  My empathetic nature brought me to a place of being nearly overwhelmed by the magnitude of what humans have done and continue to do to the earth and sentient beings.  Thankfully, I was inspired to use my art as my voice.  I created a mixed media piece called Treasure In the Gulf to honor the lives of those that suffered and died, specifically the sea turtles.  Art matters.  The Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, Georgia, got wind of this piece and asked to sell prints.  I agreed, donating a portion of the proceeds to the center for the rescue and rehabilitation of sea turtles victimized by the tragedy.  In some small way, my art made a difference.  We each have to do what we can when faced with darkness in all its forms.  Sometimes, we cannot fathom how our actions will impact others.  It’s just important to act from the heart.

I’m feeling called again.  We (and this is the universal “we” of the larger culture) invade their (the animals who were here long before us) territory to build homes and businesses then wonder why they are encroaching on “our” space.  We destroy their habitats and put those that remain into captivity then wonder why they act the way they act.  We call ourselves thrill-seekers, putting our lives in harm’s way for the rush we get for being in danger, then wonder why we are attacked.  We wonder why there aren’t as many of a species (or why they vanished) when we hunt them for “sport” and pose for “cutsey” pictures of ourselves with rifles and a beautiful dead beast lying in a pool of its own blood on the ground in front of us.

Look at us.  There are some who have taken the position that we are here to hold dominion over the earth and its other inhabitants (the animals, the trees, the ocean, and all others).  Dominion… domination.  Look where that has gotten us.

My belief holds that we are stewards of the land and that we are here only for a little while to take care of, honor, protect, and love.  Yes, we need places to live and yes, we need food.  We can have those things and be stewards of the earth at the same time.   “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”  Iroquios saying circa 1700-1800.

It is a tragedy when an animal does something that harms or kills a human being.  I do not diminish that with this blog post by any means.  I want to broaden our perspective and take compassion on all the beings involved in these stories.  It is also a tragedy that the animals are blamed and killed when their action is a direct result of our own actions.  They are acting out of their own nature.  It is how they are and how they have lived for thousands of years before we came along and put them in these unnatural positions.

I’m going to let my art speak for my pained heart.  I am only one person but I’m not helpless.  The best emerges when we each stand and do what we can.  For starters, I am inspired to create art that honors Alligator, Silverback Gorilla, Lion, and Shark.  I am sad for people who have suffered or died and I am equally sad for the other victims in these situations– the animals.

“When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”  (Cree saying)

 

 

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Facing the Future

Facing the Future- Acrylic on canvasboard

Facing the Future- Acrylic on canvasboard

Standing on the lessons of my past;

Releasing what no longer serves.

Bravery and readiness in measure.

Openness in abundance.

Susan Korsnick 2016

Do It Anyway

Here’s my little secret for conquering the Inner Critic… Do It Anyway!

When fear threatens to stop you in your tracks, DO IT ANYWAY.

When fear threatens to stop you in your tracks, DO IT ANYWAY.

Each of us contains two small voices– the loud panicky Inner Critic who feeds our fears and insecurities through negative self talk as well as a much quieter, gentler, loving Intuitive voice who is our muse, our biggest supporter, our source of creativity who only speaks through positive self talk.  The Inner Critic is the critical father who never encouraged you, the dismissive teacher who didn’t nurture your talent, the coach who said you couldn’t play sports, and the significant other whose negativity proved he/she wasn’t that significant after all.  The Intuitive voice is your authentic self, your true nature revealed when you pull the debris of the past off of you and let your inner light shine.  Your Intuition is you.

I know this.  I’ve known this for many years as you probably do, too.  Yet, occasionally, that Inner Critic speaks up at times that surprise me.

A little while ago, I ordered a roll of Strathmore Mixed Media paper… 8 yards of it!  It’s beautiful… durable, pure white, and full of possibilities.  I couldn’t wait to unroll it across a long table and play with my watercolors.  What happened next came out of nowhere.  I heard the Inner Critic say, “Are you crazy?  You better not use this paper; it was expensive and you’ll only mess it up.”

Are you kidding me?!  I’ve been an artist my whole life and had a very successful solo exhibit last summer, thank you very much.  Where’s this coming from?  In the past, that negativity might have stifled my creativity.  I might have rolled up that lovely paper and pulled out a sketchpad, working on a smaller space and coming from a smaller place within myself.

I didn’t do that.  I chose to say, “Enough!”  I have jumped out of a plane at over 10,000 feet.  I have moved to an unfamiliar place full of strangers.  I have had the guts to walk away from relationships and jobs that do not support my highest self.  I’m going to let negativity stop me from playing with art supplies?! I don’t think so!

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in her ground-breaking book Women Who Run with the Wolves, states, ” Negative complexes that arise along the way are banished or transformed- your dreams will guide you the last part of the way- by putting your foot down, once and for all, and by saying, ‘I love my creative life more than I love cooperating with my own oppression.'”

So when fear, doubt, and anxiety try to talk you out of being your adventurous, wild, creative, loving, lovable self, take a deep breath and go from being a Survivor to a Thriver by “Doing It Anyway.”

Can I Be Authentic Here?

I just passed a chiropractic office message board that read, “Listen to your body whisper to avoid a scream.”  I want to add two more sentences to that seemingly casual yet profound wisdom…

“Listen to your HEART whisper to avoid a scream.  

Listen to your SOUL whisper to avoid a scream.”

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’ve gone through periods of intense growing pains, as I’m sure you can relate to.  We’ve all been there… some of us more than once!  And we’ll go through even more as we grow in wisdom, strength, and self-awareness.  We are able to recognize our authentic selves and step more fully into the life we are meant to lead.

Label Me 1

                           We are so many things to so many people. Who is the Authentic Self?

The first thing that happened to me is exactly what the chiropractor’s sign said, the whisper became a scream or as I put it in my blog post titled Intuition: Trusting the Voice Within (9/13/2015), the breeze became a hurricane.  Suddenly, I realized that while every situation in life contains positive and negative aspects, the negative in my job outweighed any positive benefits, including money.  I wrote in What is My Tipping Point? (7/10/2015) “When the negative outweighs the positive in our relationships, careers, or other aspects of life, it’s time to ask, ‘What’s my tipping point?  How much will I tolerate before I say ENOUGH?'”

I heightened my awareness of the whispers in my body, heart, and soul.  I more fully honored my intuition.  “To successfully experience life’s constant changes, I must heed the still, small voice within so I can wisely decide what must be done for my greatest and highest good.  In other words, I must TRUST MYSELF.”  That’s what intuition is really… trust in one’s self.  I was at my tipping point and I said “ENOUGH”.

Label Me 2

                      By listening to intuition, we can hear our soul beckoning.

So now what?  At 47, I was asking “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  I felt ridiculous and a failure.  I should be planning my approaching retirement not a new career, right?  Wrong.  The best thing to do when my life feels like a size 8 foot trying to cram into a size 6 shoe is make a change.  And sooner is better than later or not at all.

I knew I wanted to have meaning in my life, find greater joy in what I was doing, and do something that spoke to who I am creatively and spiritually.  I had to be authentic and let my talents and skills shine.  As I considered what to do next, I asked myself what has become the most important question of my life.  “Can I be authentic here?”  If the answer is “Yes”, I am right where I should be on my journey.  If the answer is “No”, it’s not time to panic… it’s time to TRANSFORM.

Label Me 3

                             Peel away anything that gets in the way of discovering who you really are.

We want to be where we belong, where we find meaning, where we experience joy, and where we can be ourselves.  I’m not talking about modifying behavior to appropriately suit a social situation.  I’m talking about having the courage to be who we are.  Instead of playing the role of “the chameleon” to fit in with others, having the self-love and self-acceptance to be authentic and see how life blooms in a richer, deeper way.  Doors will open and opportunities will come your way.

Authentic living is empowered living.  

Authentic living is the life you are meant to lead.  

To be authentic takes great courage and strength.  There is a vulnerability in letting people see that we are who we are.  Once I let my authentic self come out to play, I found a career where my experience as a world traveler, artist, teacher, writer, and spiritual being have a place.

I’m still growing, learning, and trying new things.  I’m making richer, more meaningful connections with those who matter.  And every step of the way, I continue to ask, “Can I be authentic here?”.

What’s Your Tipping Point?

“What is your tipping point?”

Years ago, a friend posed this question to me when I was going through a particularly challenging time.  In other words, he was asking me, “How much are you willing to put up with before you make a change?

I’ve always seen life as a hero’s journey, an adventure filled with great challenges and great joys.  It’s not the challenges that defines us, but how we act when facing them.  Do we run?  Tackle them head on?  Or wait to be rescued?  In the end, we all want to live happily ever after, with meaning, joy, health, and security.  Right?  I know I do!

When the negative outweighs the positive in our relationships, careers, or other aspects of life, it’s time to ask “What is my tipping point?  How much will I tolerate before I say ‘enough’?”

The particularly challenging time I faced all those years ago was an unhealthy relationship.  I had spent months trying to “fix it” alone.  He wasn’t going to be what I needed and I couldn’t make him.  The tipping point was the realization that the only thing I could change was me.  Was I willing to put up with his behavior or was I going to walk?  With clarity I saw that failure wasn’t in leaving the bad relationship; failure would be staying where I was crying more than I was smiling.   Ending it took immense courage and strength but proved I loved myself enough to rescue my Self, be the heroine in my own story.

Fast forward several years and the next big obstacle on my life’s journey was a career that was in conflict with everything I value and hold sacred.  It started out small, as many problems do, easy to dismiss as just a bad day or an isolated incident.  Then, the problem grew.  It was harder to ignore but the positive still outweighed the negative so I stayed.  It started to impact my life mentally and emotionally through worry, stress, and dread.  It affected me spiritually, compromising my principals and integrity but still I held on, thinking “It could be worse.”  And finally, because I ignored all of the warning signs, the Universe said, “Ok, Susan, I’ll get your attention with this!!” and I suffered physically- chest pains, insomnia, nausea, lowered immune system…  That was my tipping point.  I felt something powerful awaken in my Soul and I knew I had enough.  My health and well-being had to be the priority.

I resigned from public education in June of this year for reasons that could fill a book, not a blog post.  Suffice it to say that it took everything I have inside of me to make this leap of faith.  I was terrified to leave but more terrified of what would happen if I stayed.   Every aspect of my life has improved since making this decision- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Calling it a “leap of faith” is an oversimplification.  It was a leap of faith based on intuition, intellect, and imagination.  And if I can do it, you can, too!!

So why am I sharing something so deeply personal on such a public platform?

For years, I’ve been leading women’s spirit circles, workshops, and Red Tents with the intention to celebrate, honor, empower, support, and awaken the authentic Self in each woman and girl who attends my events.  How can I continue this purposeful work if I’m not willing to celebrate, honor, empower, support, and awaken my own authentic Self?  In other words, I need to walk my talk and come from a place of knowing.  Otherwise, I’m a fraud and a hypocrite, and that’s not an option for me.

Reaching the tipping point and choosing to change is empowering and scary at the same time.  I know.  But I also know this… people don’t regret leaving bad situations.  They regret staying.  So when intuition says “You’ve reached your tipping point”, honor that still, small voice inside and take the leap of faith… faith in your Self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refill The Well: A Red Tent Event

“Refill the Well” was the focus of the 2nd Red Tent Event that I held in York Pennsylvania this past June.  Women, across several generations, came together to experience techniques & share their wisdom regarding ways to take care of ourselves so we have more to give– refilling our wells.  I believe that nourishing & nurturing ourselves isn’t selfish or self-centered; it’s self-preservation.

An inviting place to gather with women & share our stories.

An inviting place to gather with women & share our stories.

 

Each Red Tent Event that I host strives to be a balance between quiet time to reconnect with one’s highest self through meditation, journaling, or art as well as social time to connect with other women in a safe, sacred space.

Spaces for women to gather in community or take time to be alone with their thoughts and feelings.

Spaces for women to gather in community or take time to be alone with their thoughts and feelings.

 

Part of the social piece is a Sacred Wisdom Council.  We gathered together in a circle to share our experiences on the topic of self-care, each of us walking away with at least one new idea.  Among the suggestions were…

1)  Visualize a sacred space within yourself.  Here you can dance, connect with ancestors or other spirit guides, and tap into your own intuition.

2)  Write your thoughts and feelings in a journal.  For some, this daily practice is enlightening and often points the way to solutions.  It also lightens the heart & spirit by putting concerns on paper rather than dwelling on them.

3)  Take time to be in nature.  I shared that I occasionally set “intentional” walks with my dogs.  One morning, I may decide to focus on the sounds around me; another morning, I might focus on the sights in the neighborhood.  This practice keeps me grounded & present.  It feeds my soul.

4)  Try yoga.  It connects body, mind, & spirit through a variety of postures.  Some find this calming while others find it energizing.  All that tried it expressed it’s benefits in their lives.

5)  Schedule an appointment with a Reiki practitioner.  Reiki is the exchange of universal life force energy through light touch or a hands-above-the-body approach.  As you can see from the picture below, I set up my Reiki table behind some red curtains so that each person could experience it for herself.

A secluded area in the tent for Reiki sessions.

A secluded area in the tent for Reiki sessions.

Magic happens when we stay present in the moment.  

Without any prompting, women seemed moved by the moment & offered their gifts to one another.  One woman gave bodywork consultations, another gave individualized yoga training, and another gave Tarot readings!  The beauty of the Red Tent lies in the beauty of each woman who enters with her own unique blend of experience, wisdom, & talent.  By sharing these gifts with one another, we lift each other up in loving arms of support & encouragement.  Throughout the day, we were each teacher & student, safe to be our authentic selves.  The cornucopia of positive energy & acceptance overflowed.

I’m looking forward to our next event in September, when the focus will be “In Celebration”, celebrating what is unique to each of us & honoring our beauty inside and out.  Details can be found on this website under “Events” or on my Facebook page.  Also, we are now registered on http://www.redtentmovie.com/red_tents_near_you.html .

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.

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.