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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Spiral Mandala

Spiral Mandala

Spiral Mandala- watercolor and graphite on paper by Susan Korsnick 2017

SPIRAL MANDALA

Cosmic Creative Force

Co-creator of Life

Empowered by Love–

Empowered by Light–

Empowered by the Connection

to all that is.

Spiral Mandala Closeup

detail of Spiral Mandala by Susan Korsnick

Let the Sun Shine In

Let the Sun Shine In — a celebration of creative energy on a 12-inch square canvas!  It’s been a few weeks since I returned from my retreat at the Omega Institute yet only now am I beginning to communicate that experience visually in my artwork.  The image of the sun seems the perfect symbol for this exciting new phase in my life.
Let the Sun Shine In

As you can see from a page in my sketchbook, I knew the composition almost immediately but had a “traditional” (i.e. boring) color scheme in mind.  When I started rummaging through my fabrics, paints, & beads, the vibrancy of the materials inspired a new direction with a bolder color palette.  I released my preconception of what the piece “should be” & allowed myself to go forward with a greater sense of freedom & pleasure in the process.

A page from my sketchpad.

I made the multicolored rays using bits of fabric but intentionally saved the more ornate beadwork for the core of the sun, the source of the energy.

The sun has been a source of inspiration for cultures since the beginning of time, symbolizing creation, energy, & transformation.  We, like the sun, carry that positive energy inside of us &  it’s up to us to shine our unique light into the world.  Namaste!

Check out the art I have for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan

Let It Happen

The Diary of Frida Kahlo with a forward by Carlos Fuentes is a disturbing book that is a window into Frida’s tortured body & soul.  If you don’t know anything about this passionate artist, watch the DVD Frida starring Selma Hayek.  It’s powerful!  Though I can’t say I connect to her work, or even like it, a statement in this diary inspired me.  Frida worked in a variety of media & often let the choice of medium dictate the subject matter & theme of her work… especially in her diary (which resembles what we now call an art journal).

Sounds intriguing.  So, I got out my opaque watercolors, Prismacolor markers, Sharpies, & Staedtler triplus fineliner pens with the intent of letting them lead me to subjects I may not normally create.  It worked!  I created some rather odd drawings along with some bits of writing triggered by the imagery.  While these in no way resemble my finished art, they came from a different place in me– a place not encumbered by logic or planning but rather, a place of emotion & spirituality.

The first piece turned out to be something that can be viewed right side up & upside down.  Reflecting back on it, I see that it is a Yin Yang- type of symbol.   To live means to experience both pleasure & sadness.

Swirls of opaque watercolor & pen details.  Upside down, the frowning animal is more obvious.

This way, the smiling animal is more obvious.  The writing says, “To Smile, To Frown, To Live.  All is One.”

The next piece was also watercolor & pen.  The way the watercolor ran down the page revealed these two figures with hands touching.  It came to me so easily that I felt I was merely tracing the image I saw.  They seem to smile & say, “Join us.  Open up to your highest potential.”    While they seem “other-worldly”, I really think they represent you & me.

We are beings of light with limitless possibilities.

This last image came from an opaque watercolor background & broad-tipped Prismacolor markers.  This one did not come so easily.  The figure seems stiff & disproportionate but I love what I wrote to accompany the image.

“She knows the rhythms, honoring them in herself.  Phases of the moon, seasons of the year, her own ups & downs, ebbs & flows.  Everything has a cycle.  Everything takes a turn.  In her heart, she knows all of this.”

She knows….  And deep down, YOU know, too.

Visualization- For the Spiritual Journey

How might your life be different if you saw yourself as divine?  Are you one of the fortunate ones who already does?

“Visualization” has multiple meanings, depending on the context, but when it comes to my spirituality, it means that I see a connection to something that is greater than myself yet is my Self.  Simply by being alive, I’m connected to the Spirit of All Life.  This knowledge has transformed me, inspiring me to live more fully in light & love.   Don’t misunderstand me; I’m a flawed human being but seeing myself embraced by Divine light enables me to better accept myself as I am & pick myself up when I inevitably stumble along the way.

“Visualization” is the 4th in a series of 12 collages that explore components of a spiritual journey.  While all 12 are not part of my journey, I offer them to you as options… opportunities to explore & grow.  I chose to make this serene woman green to represent women of all ages, races, & cultures.  She’s glowing with an inner light, illuminated by her understanding of how she is sacred, made in the image of the Divine.

Seeing the light in ourselves fuels it to burn brighter, encompassing others in its radiance.  Can you imagine how the world would change if we all did that?  Visualize your own pure light & share it with those around you.

Visualize your connection to what is sacred to you.

Shadow Work

My spiritual journey recently led to an exercise exploring my “Shadow”- a Jungian term for repressed weaknesses in the unconscious mind.  The older I get & the more educated I become, the less comfortable I am with any attempt  by “experts” such as psychologists, politicians, religious leaders, or scientists to put people into tidy little boxes of “good versus evil”, “us versus them”, or “strength versus weakness”.  We’re too complex for that.  Besides, no one can agree on what is “good” or who exactly is “us”.  (This is a topic for a book not a blog post!)

My limited research into Jungian psychology revealed too many conflicting opinions to be of much value so suffice it to say, I’m ending this exercise knowing that “shadow” isn’t a term I want to use to describe my Self.  It’s impossible to identify most character traits as exclusively strengths or weaknesses for strengths can be weaknesses and weaknesses can be strengths depending on the circumstances.  For example, look at how independence can give someone the courage to act on a dream or alienate someone when it masks vulnerability.

For that reason, I created this watercolor of myself, facing the dark with feet planted firmly in the light, embracing both the light & the shadow equally in my hands.  Embracing all qualities that make me uniquely ME.  Jung can keep his labels.  The only label I’ll use for my Self is “Pure Susan”.

Embracing the light & the shadow in equal measures

Do What Makes You Happy

My boyfriend gave me the simplest yet most profoundly wise advice after I rattled off my holiday “To Do” list, which included cookie baking, house decorating, gift wrapping, tree trimming, card writing… (see where I’m going with all of this?), he simply said, “Just do what makes you happy.”  It makes perfect sense.  Who said I had to spend a fortune on gifts?  Who said I have to make dozens of cookies?  Why can’t I take this time of the Winter Solstice to do what comes naturally– get quiet, reflect on the past, & look ahead to new possibilities that will come with the returning light.

Our earliest ancestors did this instinctively.  They knew that to everything there was a season & lived at one with the Earth & her cycles.  Recapturing that respect for nature, I honor the time of darkness as I do the time of light, knowing each balances the other.  As nights grow long & cold, I line my nest with cozy blankets, sip warm drinks, & create hearty one-dish meals that comfort & nourish.  I read books… lots of books.  I reflect on what I’ve accomplished this year, who I loved, & who loved me.  Like Janus, I look back while also looking forward to how 2012 can be even richer with love, laughter, support, & equal measures of work & play.  I’ve suffered a lot of loss this year but each loved one who passed left me with countless cherished memories that float into my consciousness on a stream of bittersweet tears.  I recognize & honor that flow of emotion, too.

So, we put up a tree covered with lights & natural ornaments to bring in the light until the sun returns.  No cookies, no holiday knickknacks cluttered about, & just the amount of shopping that I can afford.  By removing what doesn’t matter, I’ve made room for what does– my family, friends, & peace.  Peace & love I wish for you, too.

 

Heightened Sensitivity

By our nature, artists are highly sensitive people.  We feel deeply & it shows in our art, writing, dance, & music.  So, it comes as no surprise when my creative friends & family members express that they are going through a highly emotional time or a time when everything bad seems to be happening at once.  I’m experiencing that, too.  It feels as though I’m the only one noticing body language, picking up on subtle clues, & sensing things in what people say & do that others aren’t picking up on.  If you’ve seen the movie Stepford Wives, you know what I mean.

So what’s a creative spirit to do?  I’ve turned to my dreams for answers as their imagery is full of symbolism that speaks to my soul & often provide insight into what I can’t understand in my awake time.  For example, last night, I dreamed there were a few small black lizards in my backyard.  Every time I looked out the window, there were more, larger jet-black lizards.  I wasn’t frightened at all; they were here to tell me something.  I went outside & walked among them fearlessly.  When I awoke, I referred to Animal Speak by Ted Andrews.  In it, he writes that lizards are symbols of intuition & heightened sensitivity (interesting!!).  Listen to that intuition & honor those feelings in your Self.  He also writes that some lizards have tails that detach when they are attacked.  “Sometimes, it is necessary to separate ourselves, or part of ourselves, from others to be able to do the things we must desire to do.”

What does all this mean for those of us struggling to make sense of insane situations or overwhelming amounts of negativity?  Pause.  Meditate.  Dream.  Listen to your inner voice for guidance.  And, if necessary, physically, emotionally, and/or mentally remove yourself from the situation to see it more clearly.  If nothing else, an appropriate level of detachment could be the healthiest thing you can do right now.  As for snowballing amounts of negativity, counteract that by doing something positive for yourself & someone else.  The only thing that will dispel the darkness is light.  Be a light to others but most of all, be a light to your Self.