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

 

The One You Seek

The One You Seek- mixed media on 18 inch square canvas. SOLD

THE ONE YOU SEEK

The one you seek 

is already here.

The one you seek

always was.

The one you seek

is within you-

is you-

is.

Susan Korsnick 2016

Dear Seeker

Dear Seeker- clay sculpture holding crystal

Dear Seeker- clay sculpture holding crystal

Dear Seeker

Sit, be still, listen-

The guide you seek is within.

Susan Korsnick 2016

Dear Seeker- view 2

Dear Seeker- view 2

It is natural to look outside ourselves for gurus, guides, and teachers at various stages of our spiritual journey.  The worthy teachers are like the Hermit in the Tarot deck- shining their light to illuminate the path for those who follow.  True masters are humble, trustworthy, and wise.  They recognize that their purpose is for the student to surpass the teacher so each initiate, in turn, can hold their own lantern high and light the way for others.

Dear Seeker from the back

Dear Seeker from the back

StarFlight

I’m exploring the integration of my visual art and original poetry.

StarFlight- acrylic on canvas

StarFlight- acrylic on canvas

Wings that carried me far and wide

Return me to the cosmic center of Self.

Greatest journey over shortest distance.

Inward.

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.”

Art Journaling

Art journaling, for me, is sometimes the end and sometimes the beginning.

Heart Art- journaling for fun

Heart Art- journaling for fun

Quite often, I art journal (if that can be a verb) for art journaling’s sake.  I play with a variety of materials, subject matter, and techniques without concern for the outcome.  The key word here is PLAY.  It’s an activity that reminds me of being a child– joyfully exploring without self-criticism, getting my hands covered with paint and glitter, and feeling limitless because I’ve put no limits on myself.  It’s about the process not a product.  It’s liberating to know that this is a piece for my eyes only, unless I choose to share it.  I’m free when I art journal.

Camper- playing with all sorts of materials

Camper- playing with all sorts of materials

Being an artist who also appreciates the sale of my work and the connection my pieces can make with other people, I also use my art journal as a learning tool.  All of the playing and experimenting help me see new color combinations or envision new compositions for larger works.

The Divine in Me

The Divine in Me

On a deeper level, my art journal is a way to connect with my authentic self in a way I cannot with a written journal that so heavily relies on intellect and grammar.  My art journal is soulful.  It is the place where I can explore personal imagery, dream symbolism, and my spirituality.  The mysteries of my inner life are revealed in my journal.  My emotions are vaildated and freely expressed without judgement.

Focus on the Light- what came out when I found out my brother-in-law committed suicide

Focus on the Light- what came out when I found out my brother-in-law committed suicide

An art journal can also be a seat of power.  A place to set intentions for what I want to manifest in my life.  The art I create in my journal can deliberately reflect my desires or unconsciously expose what is hidden inside of me, much like a vision board.

Dream the Moon into Existence

Dream the Moon into Existence

In my art journal,

I am creator, healer, priestess, teacher, student, celebrant, and eternal child.

Dream Weaver

Dream Weaver

Focus on What to Bring Forward

As I say goodbye to 2015 and welcome 2016, I recognize the need to let go of what no longer serves in order to make sacred space for two things– the cherished and the new.  But, instead of dwelling on what no longer serves, I’ll try to let go with gratitude for the lessons I’ve learned and focus my energy on the wonderful gifts in my life that I want to carry into the new year.

The Cherished are all the experiences, people, and things that I treasure and want to bring forward with me.  I want more time in nature, time with friends, and quiet time at home with Jim and our dogs.  I crave more time for spiritual pursuits and creative expression…. lots and LOTS of time for creative expression!!!

This page of words reflects what I hold dear and want to nurture in 2016.  It’s a quick little piece that I created in permanent marker, pastel, and yes– GLITTER (glitter is fun and keeps me from taking myself too seriously).  I invite you to take the time to do this for yourself.  Get a sheet of white paper and whatever art supplies you have handy (a box of crayons or just a pen will do).  Quickly brainstorm all the wonderful things in your life that you would like to carry into 2016.  Embellish the page with glitter, stickers, ribbon, or anything else that makes you smile.  Then, hang it up as a symbol of what you want to have more of in the new year.

A quick art journal page to illustrate what I love about my life and want more of in 2016.

A quick art journal page to illustrate what I love about my life and want more of in 2016.

I’m also making space for the New- all those wonderful yet unknowns.  Most of us are familiar with the saying that “only change is constant”.  So for 2016, I’m embracing all the new things I’ve yet to learn, the fun adventures I’ve yet to have, the wisdom to gain, and the new friends yet to meet.  This second piece, from my art journal, represents transformation with a brave and confident woman welcoming the opportunities ahead, secure in the knowledge that she is divine and will continue to grow in strength, wisdom, and love no matter what the new year brings.

Transformation- welcoming in the new. A mixed media art journal piece.

Transformation- welcoming in the new. A mixed media art journal piece.

Thanks to Effy Wild, who in her LifeBook 2015 video, spoke of her preference to focus on bringing things forward rather than dwelling on what she needs to let go of.  She reminded me of something I’ve known practically forever…if I focus on the positive with gratitude and appreciation, I will attract more of it to me.

Happy New Year Everyone!  May 2016 be a year of abundance in all things positive.

 

 

Human “Being” not Human “Doing”

Dear Self,

Just a friendly reminder… you don’t have to do it all.  Yes, I know it’s the holidays and the possibilities to “do” are endless.  You can make homemade gifts, homemade cards, and dozens of homemade cookies.  You can decorate your house inside and out.  You can say “Yes” to every invitation, even two or three in a single evening!  You can continue to go to work, run errands, do chores, spend time with loved ones, and add all the holiday expectations on top of that while continuing to have the same 24 hours in a day that you had before the holidays came along.  Yes, Dear Susan, you can hustle and bustle the holiday season away… or you can be gentle with yourself and let go.  BE.

 

You imposed the high expectations on yourself and you are the only one who can give permission to lower them.  Be realistic, be present in the moment with loved ones, and most importantly, BE.

 

As Lyn Cox reminded me today, we are human BEINGS not human “doings”.   Allow the stillness and tranquility of winter to permeate you.  Rest, relax, and rejuvenate for while the daylight is returning, this is the time to go within.  Trees lose their leaves and the sap slows.  Animals tuck in for long winter naps.  You need that, too.  BE.

With all my love,

Susan

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?”.

Intuition: Trusting the Voice Within

“Overnight success stories” rarely are.  For what appears to be overnight to an onlooker, took years of patience, frustration, hope, doubt, sweat, and tears for the person actually living it.

For me, major changes that I’ve purposefully made in my life are a lot like “overnight success stories”, they took years to bring about.  And while it looks like I did it all myself (no, I’m not Wonder Woman), I am actually co-creating with something much larger than myself that speaks to me through my Intuition.

On July 10th of this year, I published a blog post titled “What is Your Tipping Point?” https://awakenpureyou.com/  It explores my journey from knowing that life needed to change to bravely taking that first step.  Take time to read that before reading this post for a clearer picture of where I am coming from and why I’m taking time to share this personal story.

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 my Self.

Around 2010, my Intuition was sending me quiet, gentle, loving signals hinting that change was in the air.  It was as subtle as the first scent of autumn wafting into my nostrils on a cool September breeze.  I ignored it.  While I was beginning to feel “growing pains”, an uneasiness with how things were, I justified my situation by saying that other people had it far worse.  “At least I wasn’t working in a coal mine like my grandfather and his father before him.”  I could handle this.  It wasn’t that bad…yet.

Impatient, my Intuition got louder and more aggressive. The “cool September breeze carrying change”, that I mentioned earlier, became a hurricane of drama, stress, and ill health.  I knew most definitely that there would be even more significant consequences if I didn’t listen… NOW!

Why did I take so long to act on my Intuition?  I didn’t trust my Self.   That’s a powerful, humbling thing to admit..I DIDN’T TRUST MY SELF.  And that’s the worst thing we can do when making decisions about our future.

I know early on when a situation isn’t right for me– a job, a relationship, etc…  What I haven’t always known is that I have everything I need within me to make a positive change– strength, courage, wisdom, and my Intuition (guardian angel, gut instinct).

I hesitated to act on the information because I confused my Inner Critic with my Intuition.  I paid more attention to the negative voice that played on my fears.  The voice that weakens, stagnates, and ultimately paralyzes.  The voice that poisons the system with self-doubt and anxiety.  At first, it seemed to be protecting me from doing something impetuous.  But that’s at all what it was doing; it was keeping me from living an authentic life, from being my best self.  I was afraid of being jobless, homeless, and penniless.  I was afraid I would never find the level of security and comfort that I had in my present situation.  A friend asked, “Are you REALLY secure and comfortable?”  That sounds a bit sarcastic but it touched right on the heart of the matter.  No!!!  I was not secure and comfortable.  I was afraid… afraid to trust my Intuition.

Once I was clearly able to feel the difference in my body between Intuition and the Inner Critic, I was able to discern the messages and heed the one meant for my highest good.

How do you know what to do when you aren’t sure whether it’s your Intuition or fear?  In my work with women and girls, I explore a variety of ways to sense the differences using body wisdom based on a lifetime of my own experience.  Every message from both Intuition and the Inner Critic can be felt in different parts of the body.

One technique that has worked for me is to sit quietly and relax.  First, think back on a time when you listened to your intuition.  Imagine the situation in as much detail as possible.  Where were you?  Who else was there?  What was happening?  Play it in your mind and feel it in your body.  Sense what it feels like to listen to your Intuition and have a positive outcome.

Open your eyes, stretch, record the sensations in a journal if that is something you like to do.  Then, repeat.  Only this time, recall a time when fear got in the way.  You sensed your Intuition but ignored it.  Where were you?  Who else was there?  What was happening?  Play it in your mind and watch this scene play out, too.  Feel it in your body.  What does it feel like in your body when you ignore your own inner wisdom?  What emotions and thoughts accompany this feeling?

This is just one exercise that can awaken your Intuition and heighten your awareness so you can act on it more quickly in the future.  But please be gentle with yourself as you do this.  As I remind myself regularly, this is a spiritual practice with the emphasis on the word “practice”.  No one is perfect and faced with a new situation, it’s easy to be afraid.  But with strategies in place, we can get to this intuitive knowing more quickly each time and avoid unnecessary pain.

Imagine how different life would be if we trusted our Intuition more fully!  Imagine how wonderful it would be for girls to learn this at an earlier age than we did!

What’s next?  Once you sense the message your Intuition is sending you, how can you manifest a positive outcome?  This is where Imagination joins in, saying “I’m here to help!”  More on that next time….