Shine, Soar, Flow

animal guides, Oracle Cards, Women's Circle

Animal wisdom from the Animal Kin Oracle

This week I had the good fortune to lead a wonderful group of women in working with animal spirit guidance. It was for Kiala Givehand’s Pull Pen Paint course which I’ve been a guest teacher in (here’s the link to check it out, click on the blue button “view all courses” to find it). If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love using animal oracle cards (especially this one and this one) and receiving guidance from animals. I feel that working with animal energy brings me closer to mother earth, helps me get out of my head, and guides me in clear and potent ways. During our circle we all pulled cards from animal decks, and then I led everyone in a guided meditation to meet their animal guide. At the end of the meditation I instructed each person to ask their animal guide for a message to share with the group.

The peacock card from the Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck.

There were many beautiful and powerful messages shared. Three stood out for me in particular. The first was the peacock – that showy gorgeous bird. The peacock’s message is to let your self shine, to be the center of attention. This was deeply uncomfortable for many of us in the group – it’s especially common for women to feel like we need to dim our shining light. Some of the fears we have are: Will we be too much? Will we be perceived as showing off? What will happen to us if we unfurl our beautiful feathers? For many of us, it doesn’t feel safe. And yet, to be the healing lights that we are meant to be in the world, people need to see us in all of our glory. Mr. Peacock emphasized this message the next morning when another person from the group pulled his card (see it here)!

 

The eagle card from the Animal Kin Oracle

One of the cards I pulled during the session was the eagle. When I work with eagle, I always feel the power and strength of this animal. During the guided mediation one of the women had a meaningful experience with an eagle – she soared with the eagle up over the earth. The message she received was to let herself soar above her life and the events in the world and to see a higher and wider perspective. This message is so pertinent and powerful right now. With all of the current changes and cataclysmic happenings going on in the world, I think a higher perspective is so helpful. Our eyes are being opened to issues that have been simmering beyond our awareness for a long time. We are being asked to wake up, to see these changes as ways to help us move forward. Very challenging and very needed.

The frog card from the Wild Unknown Animal Spirit deck.

The third card that made such an impact on me was the frog. I always love to pull the frog card, it’s a card of healing and flow. And the frog is so darn cute!! One woman in our group had a message for all of us from frog – cry, let your tears flow. Tears cleanse the soul and heal our hearts. This wisdom is about letting ourselves FEEL, even when we worry that it will be too much. Feeling our feelings is ALWAYS good medicine, when we avoid them or stuff them down it will make us sick in mind, body and soul.

These wise messages were doubly emphasized for me when I watched one of my favorite art YouTubers Carolyn Dube. She is someone who shines so beautifully – watch her talk about both perspective and tears as she creates this wonderful art journal page.

I hope you will consider connecting with animal guidance, or whatever guidance helps you shine, soar, and flow. I’d love to know how it works out for you!

 

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Moon Wisdom

divine feminine, Moon, Tarot

Last week while we were dancing in the temple, the full moon rose over the hills. We who noticed it wandered closer to the windows and bathed in her light. The music got faster, more energized. We spun and gyrated and moved through the room, my movements taking on an almost frenzied pace. I stopped in front of the altar, seeing the moon shining on me, I threw back my head and howled. Answering howls echoed through the room. I started laughing, completely delighted by this moment and these women dancing and howling together.

There is something so elemental about women and the moon. The moon is seen as feminine and there are moon goddesses in many cultures (eg., Diana/Artemis, Cerridwen, Ix Chel, Yemaya). The moon rules the earth’s tides and women’s flow. It’s also seen as scary, shadowy, and crazy (the word lunacy comes from the latin word for moon luna).

Birth of the Moon card from the Triple Goddess Tarot

In the tarot many see the Moon as a dark card indicating that the person receiving the card is going through a hard and confusing time. However, when you use a women-centered deck like the Triple Goddess Tarot (in the above picture) a different take emerges. The light of the moon illuminates things differently, it gives us a changed view of the world around us. In this light the Moon card is about the inward journey, connecting with intuition and the unconscious. This realm is the place of the Divine Feminine, the Moon Goddess who takes compassionate care of the mystery of the soul.

Moon card from the Wild Unknown Tarot

Many moon cards, such as this one from the Wild Unknown Tarot (pictured above) show the moon appearing between two pillars (or trees above). The Moon here is the gate to the unconscious, to willingly pass through is considered an initiation of sorts. I feel that way about my own journey into my own spirituality and how to manifest my gifts in the world. In leaving psychology I felt like I was entering the void, a scary and unknown place. I was terrified and yet I knew I could not go back – I had to learn to trust my gut and go forward. This description by Michelle Tea in her book Modern Tarot fit my journey perfectly:

“The Moon dares us to make friends with what scares us, to get familiar with our bogeymen, shake paws with the monster under the bed, look ourselves in the mirror at our most emotional, and love ourselves. … The Moon requires you to be patient and to trust.”

Today the Moon card came up for me in a spread in the spot indicating the way I was to share my gifts with the world. It’s so fitting really, guiding others into the shadowy realms of intuition, inner wisdom and the Divine Feminine – it is the journey I have undertaken and continue to walk every day. By facing the monsters under my bed I found the Divine Feminine and the moon, I found myself.

 

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Otter Medicine

animal guides, blogging, Intuition, Oracle Cards, Uncategorized

 

The Otter card from the Wild Unknown Animal Spirit deck

If you read my last post (see it here) you will know that I am in the midst of a deep spiritual clearing out. Letting go of old stuff, old patterns, old limiting beliefs is hard work and today I woke up feeling heavy with it. I am also feeling so much with all of the intensity in the world right now, the naked racism, the events in Barcelona (one of my happy places), and now the devastation in Texas. My dreams last night were full of disaster and Houston and raging at misogynistic white supremacists. Yikes, no wonder I felt like a lead weight this morning!

I’ve committed to blogging weekly and today’s the day, but I sure as heck didn’t want to lay down all of that heavy negative energy here! So I did what I always do, pulled a card for some guidance. But before I did that, I did some breathing and stretching to feel into my body. I feel so much more connected to my intuition when I am grounded in my body first. I am planning an e-course focusing on guidance from animals so I used the Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck, and this sweet otter popped out of the deck! What a benevolent and loving guide!

Immediately tears came to my eyes and I wept. Otter is a water card (connected with feelings), and the first message I “heard” was to let it flow – I had been holding on so much to my feelings about the world and my own life that they were weighing me down. It’s totally appropriate to have all of these feelings, my problem was that I was stuffing them down and not actually feeling them. I’m not saying that it’s a picnic to feel the hard feelings – sorrow, grief, and rage. But it is necessary to feel them, to let them flow, or they get bottled up inside and drain our energy.

The second message I received from otter was to remember to have joy in my life – to dance and sing and play! Life has to have some balance. If I am so dragged down by what is going on around me how can I be the mother, wife, daughter, friend, spiritual guide that want to be? I want to be able to direct my resources, time and energy towards conscious change on this planet, which I can only do if I am living a balanced life and actually have energy. I need to fill up my own tank first.  And this morning once I felt my feelings, and gave them some space, I had room and energy to dance and play. I danced around my living room to this, and then this. I feel much better now, otter gave me the medicine I needed.  I’m going to make some time and space to play with art today as well (and you know how much that fills me if you’ve read this)!

I’m leaving you with a little video of the sweetness, intelligence, and loving qualities of otters. I hope you can also receive the medicine you need from these wonderful creatures!

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The Dreaded Death Card

Tarot, Transformation, Uncategorized, word of the year

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The Death card from the Linestrider Tarot

Sometimes when you work with tarot and oracle cards, a card will show up over and over again (sometimes called stalker cards). This card is asking you to stop, pay special attention, and to think more deeply about it’s message. It could also be illuminating a theme or a lesson you are learning in your life right now. All’s well and good when it’s one with positive associations (like the Strength or Lovers cards), but when it’s Death that’s a different story.

In the end of July I came across the Linestrider Tarot by Siolo Thompson and was enchanted with the images, so many wonderful animals!

Wonderful animal illustrations from the Linestrider Tarot

And it’s the Death card that has been showing up for me over and over again. People often hate getting this card, facing death is hard. No matter how often we read that the Death card is most often not about actual death but about change and letting go, it’s still a reminder that all things end. For me it’s about letting go of old patterns and beliefs I’ve held on to, often unconsciously. Beliefs like: I have to fix things for everyone all of the time; it’s not okay to experience rage; it’s safer to only shine a little bit. The Death card keeps coming up over and over for me right now because these old ways of being must die so that I can grow and step into what’s next. It’s a reminder to let go of thinking that I know (or need to know) what’s next, and to surrender to what Spirit has in store for me.

Surrender is my Word of the Year

In this blog post, I wrote about my word of 2017 – Surrender. I really feel that the Death card (which is really about letting go, change, and saying goodbye) is like a neon sign flashing at me – “Hey Monica! Remember Surrender!”

The Death and Lovers cards from the Linestrider Tarot

Twice the Death card has shown up with The Lovers card. I had just read these words about the Lovers in the book The Creative Tarot by Jessa Crispin: “In our creative context, the Lovers is a calling… allowing something to be scary, to be overwhelming; to devote yourself to it even if it requires great changes from you…There are things that fall away — that must fall away — when you devote yourself to a pursuit.”  This feels so perfect for me right now. As I move more and more towards my calling as a spiritual guide, as an artist, as a guide into the self and intuition, I need to be saying goodbye to those parts of myself that denied this calling. I think the death card is also telling me that it’s okay to grieve the life I thought I’d lead and to mourn the safety I thought I had created for myself.

I’m not going to pretend that this is an easy process for me, change is uncomfortable (I’m a Taurus, I love to be comfortable!). And this is another change for me, letting myself have all of my feelings. So I’m supporting myself as much as possible, and being easy and gentle as I undergo yet another transformation.

We just had an incredible new moon solar eclipse, what a perfect time to let go and begin to welcome in the new! Are you in the process of letting go, of surrender? I’d love to hear about it!

 

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Create Every Day

Art, creativity

One of my creations for the Index Card A Day challenge using Stencil Girl Stencils

I’m in a little spot of resistance right now, something is growing and changing inside of me and in my usual way I am clinging to my old ideas and beliefs with vigor. Luckily I know myself and I know that this is my way through. I’m simply taking care of myself and turning to creativity to ease the way. The act of putting color on paper with no agenda can help me quiet the monkey mind. I can also play with color and texture and form.

Sometimes though it’s hard to jump in and begin creating. Facing a blank page can be daunting. This summer I got excited by this Index-Card-A-Day challenge created by Tammy Garcia of Daisy Yellow Art. It’s a simple idea, take a basic index card and be creative with it every day in June and July. That’s it. Really. It’s so simple and fun, it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s just an index card – who cares if it’s “good” or “bad” it’s just an index card. Click here to go to Tammy’s website and learn more. It’s a free challenge with some very inexpensive and worthwhile extras offered if you want more help and inspiration. Click here to see what I have been posting on Instagram. One of mine is pictured above, here are a couple of others:

My one-staple collage (one of Tammy’s techniques):

One-staple collage for #icad2017

Playing with tape (washi and masking) and making marks:

For #icad2017 using washi tape

There is something so freeing about creating daily on a cheap and small index card. Sometimes I don’t have that many supplies around and I have to just use what’s in front of me, like this one with only oil pastels, playing with color.

Index card art using only oil pastels

Sometimes I don’t have much time:

Index card art done quickly with collage and acrylic inks

This challenge is pushing me more and more to create from my own heart and desires, to worry less and less what others will think. My brain is sparking with more and more ideas – “What if I use this stencil with this color? What if I mix these things together? Let’s try doodling today! Ooh I like this texture, let’s add it in. What about fabric? Maybe I’ll get my sewing machine out. I’m enjoying just gluing down this paper.”

The challenge runs through the end of July, but really this is something that can be done any day. I’ve been so taken with the idea of creating everyday that I found others doing it. There are people doing the #100dayproject, where they create something every day (on a theme of their own choosing). There are some examples here and here.

I am especially interested in Tori Weyers #DrawRiotDaily project. She creates a small artwork in a tiny Moleskine journal everyday. She also provides daily prompts each month for those who want a bit of inspiration. Click here for a video of her completed journal from 2016. I’m thinking this might be my next daily creative practice!

And just in case a “should” crept into your brain as you read this post, here some wise words from one of my mentors Chris Zydel: “Just remember: shoulds are NO freaking fun under ANY circumstances, but especially when it comes to making art. … Plus you don’t need no stinkin’ inspiration to create!! Or desire. Just a half-assed, sorta-kinda willingness and some tepid curiosity will do.  And it’s also OK to simply think about making art and then go and take a nap.”

 

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Ways inside

Divine Guidance, Tarot, Uncategorized, Women's Circle

Cards from the Lumina Tarot and Animal Kin oracle posted to Facebook and Instagram

Why do I use tarot and oracle cards? When I got my first deck in college (thanks sis!) I pulled cards when I was troubled, feeling scared and blue. I wanted an “outside” source to guide me, to help put me on the right track. Even though the first tarot book I got was called “Tarot, Mirror to the Soul,” I really didn’t understand that the cards are not an outside guide but really a way to connect inside – to connect with my inner knowing.

This message was brought home to me this week through a Facebook comment. This month, my 50th birthday month, I decided to post cards daily on Facebook and Instagram (I’d love to connect with you there). I’m pulling from the Lumina Tarot and the Animal Kin Oracle simply because they are beautiful decks that I haven’t used very much. I posted the above cards a few days ago with this message: Day 12: the message is to connect deeply to Spirit, it’s the only thing that will help right now. Also have patience. That is all. One of my friends commented that she found the message helpful but that tarot is so not her thing. The comment made me think about why tarot is my thing, and here’s what I found.

Time to assert your spiritual authority

I believe with all of my being that each one of us holds our own answers inside, that each of us is capable of being our own spiritual authority. And I’m passionate about anything that helps people (me included) connect inside, with our own inner wisdom and knowing. Tarot and oracle cards help me do this, so do intuitive painting, dance, meditation, walking in nature, burning sage and incense, and drumming. Oh goodness, the list can go on and on (journaling, chanting, walking a labyrinth, connecting with animals …). Pulling a card from a deck of cards is easy, portable, and quick – you don’t have to have a book, or know anything about it. Simply look at the card, what is happening? How does it make you feel? What pops into your mind? Simple, right? And not always easy. We aren’t used to listening to the whispers of our hearts, to our gut feelings, to the voice of the Divine as it speaks to us.

Open up to the Divine and the messages from your own heart.

So it’s a practice, one that may take some patience and perseverance. I find it really helps to draw a card regularly (try once a day! Do it with me!) When we practice, our ability to open up to our own inner wise selves expands and the process becomes easier and easier.  Does this mean that it takes years to be able to do this for yourself? Absolutely not! Spirit wants us to succeed. Often with the very first card a lightbulb goes on and we say “Ahh, I get it!”


Circling with women is an incredibly important way for me to connect with my inner knowing and share my truth with others who are also on a spiritual path. I’ve gotten so much out of Vanessa Sage’s Priestess trainings, and I’m now a guest teacher in her upcoming Priestess Certification Program. The program begins on May 26th, and on May 25th there is a free circle so you can experience the magic – click here to join us on May 25th!

Change and Compassion

Compassion, divine feminine, Divine Guidance, Oracle Cards

change-is-here-blossom

I’ve been feeling some of the mid-winter blahs this week. It’s been raining buckets here in Northern California, I’ve been worried about the political situation, and my daughter’s in full blown puberty – so it all feels kinda heavy. Do you ever feel this way? I know that part of the challenge for me is that change is happening, big BIG changes! And I automatically resist change, it’s a habit that I’m working on. I read a great article about change that resonated with me. It points out that it’s basic human nature to resist change, and to be pretty stubborn about it too!

Compassion and Healing cards from the Sassy She Oracle

Compassion and Healing cards from the Sassy She Oracle

As you may have guessed from my last post, I turn to the Divine Feminine in all of her forms to guide me, especially when I hit rough patches. This week I used the Sassy She Oracle cards and asked the question: What can help me through this moment? The cards Compassion and Healing came through – I love the vibrant and sensual energy from these cards. The Healing card made me want to go and stand under a tropical waterfall. As that wasn’t happening anytime soon, I went and took a long hot shower and imagined the water was imbued with divine healing powers (who says it’s not?). Afterwards I stood with my feet planted firmly on the ground, held my hands at my heart, and directed love and compassion for myself into my heart. These actions definitely helped!

The Kuan Yin Compassion card from The Goddess Oracle

The Kuan Yin Compassion card from The Goddess Oracle

Later that evening with some friends I pulled a card from The Goddess Oracle, another Divine Feminine deck I love, and again Compassion was the word. This time Compassion came in the form of Kuan Yin, and She had me pause and really pay attention. I had the sense that this was about me, that I needed to give myself more compassion, and that this was also about the world around me. The message from this card is that I needed to open up and feel all of my feelings, and not try to sweep them away. This resulted in some tears, and also some healing. The cards from the Sassy She Oracle took on new resonance, the tears were another form of water cleansing my soul. I felt so much lighter afterwards, the heaviness was lifted. It’s often the resistance to what is (that stubborn resistance to change) that feels like a heavy weight.

I’m feeling that compassion may be the key to moving through this stressful time in our world – beginning with ourselves. How loving and compassionate and accepting and understanding can we be with ourselves? What would life be like when we move through our feelings instead of resisting them. Can you treat yourself as you would your most beloved friend? Can you accept your perfectly imperfect self? I truly believe that it is from this place that compassion can radiate outwards and be a healing force in the world.

 

Pull Pen Paint class

Pull Pen Paint class

I’d love to work with you and help you tap into the energy of the Divine Feminine! One way to get a taste of this is through the upcoming e-course Pull Pen Paint. I am a guest teacher and will be holding a live circle connecting in with the Divine Feminine energy that is here for each of us. It’s going to be a really fun, deep, and transformative class. I hope you will join us! Click here for more information.

 

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Intuition Rocks!

Art, art journal, creativity, Intuition, journaling, Tarot

 

Playing with the Connected and Free Oracle deck to connect with my intuition

Playing with the Connected and Free Oracle deck to connect with my intuition

A few years ago I was talking to a prospective client about how I work with people. She was wanting to “go with her gut” more often in her life, she noticed that her gut was always right but she more often went with her head instead. I told her that I look at our gut, or intuition, as a muscle – the more we use it and follow it the stronger it becomes. She then said “what you offer is like pilates for our gut-intuition!” I still laugh at that analogy (having never done pilates!), and I will never forget it!

One of the easiest and most fun ways for me to connect with my intuition, that wise voice inside of me, is to play with tarot and oracle cards. Sometimes it’s a five minute process of simply pulling a card and letting its message filter through me during my day. Other days I create more of a ritual around it; I may journal about the card and even use the card as inspiration in my art. In this post I thought I would take you through my ritual from lighting a candle to a finished art journal spread inspired by the card.  I’ll be bringing you along on my own little intuitive journey in the hopes that you will also see that intuition rocks!

  1. 2017-02-08-12-22-46

    Creating ritual with my tea, candle, palo santo, journal and the Dark Goddess Tarot

    The set up – I will be guest teaching about the Divine Feminine in Pull Pen Paint, an online course that begins in a couple of weeks, so I’ve been using my goddess-themed oracle and tarot decks a lot lately. I love the energy of the Divine Feminine in all of its permutations! I chose the Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince (now available as an app) on this day. I made sure I had my cup of tea, journal, and candle all ready. I burned a bit of palo santo to begin – I use this to cleanse the energy in my space and to breathe deeply and settle my thoughts. I also love the way it smells. Creating a little ritual and calming the mind help me to hear the inner voice of my intuition. I usually say a little prayer or intention – Help me learn what I need to know right now for my highest good.

2.  Pulling a card – I usually just shuffle and let the card choose me (it 2017-02-08-12-28-06-1almost always falls out of the deck and that’s the one I use). People have lots of ways they like to choose a card, and all of them are good. You can fan them out and choose one, or shuffle and choose the top card (or bottom or from the middle). This is your practice, you get to make the rules.

I got the Priestess card, it’s one of the 22 Major Arcana cards in a tarot deck. It’s also the card most associated with intuition. Whenever I get a major arcana card it’s a sign to pay extra attention. Before I read the book I like to spend a few moments looking at the card and writing down my first impressions. I ask myself: what is the energy of this card? How does it make me feel? What do the images on the card mean to me? Here’s what I wrote: “calm, quiet meditation, looking into her bowl, looking into herself. Dark violets and blues – the Mystery. Surrounded by the serpent – wisdom, knowledge, divine feminine.”

3. Making meaning – After doing a bit of journaling I then look at the book to glean more information. I was struck in reading about The Pythia (the goddess associated with The Priestess card in this deck), that the name refers to a sisterhood and not a single woman/goddess. I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of the groups of women that I belong to and the unique healing that comes from being loved and accepted in a group. I’ve also been thinking about creating an online group of women to go deeply into goddess energies and archetypes, and this card feels connected with that. I knew I’d be writing this post about intuition and cards before I picked the card, so I was a bit blown away to get the major intuition card in the deck. Here’s a quote from the book: “Believe in your own intuition. You know more than you can explain, so do not let wordlessness get in the way of knowledge. Recognize knowledge may arise through any avenue of your being.”

After I wrote some more, I went later that day to my women’s Transdance circle led by Heather Munro Pierce. We’ve been dancing the chakras, and this week we danced the 6th Chakra – the third eye. Of course, this is the center of intuition, inner vision, inner knowing – all of the things I was journaling about with my card. Even this chakra’s colors are the same, indigos and deep blues.

Laying down some color in my art journal

Laying down some color in my art journal

4. Making art – I pulled out my altered book art journal (that I made with this amazing woman) and began laying down some color with acrylic paint and pearlescent acrylic ink. I had roughly gessoed the page ahead of time and you can see how that made the grey/blue color all uneven – which I really like. I used the colors and images on the card as a starting point, and then I worked intuitively finding images and using colors that spoke to me.

Materials include: journal/altered book, gesso, Golden Fluid acrylics, Daler Rowney FW pearlescent acrylic ink, magazine and book images, Stabilo All pencil, Stencil Girl Stencils, Paper Artsy paints, Uniball white pen, Seth Apter stamps, stamps of unknown origin.

My page with images and words collaged onto it with glue.

My page with images and words collaged onto it with glue.

After adding more colors, stenciling, stamping, some marks, and a border with more acrylic ink my page is done.

After adding more colors, stenciling, stamping, some marks, and a border with more acrylic ink my page is done.

A closer look, I love this weird witchy tree woman

A closer look, I love this weird witchy tree woman

A close up of the word Transform over the swan

A close up of the word Transform over the swan

What I loved about this intuitive process of working in my art journal is that I could really play with image and color and shape. Yes, I am showing this page to you, but really it’s for me. It has brought me deeper into the messages from this card and what my intuition wants me to know.  One of the messages is about my transformation into becoming my own oracle and that my intuition is the perfect guide. I truly did not plan this card, it literally jumped out of the deck as I was shuffling, and it is really so crazy perfect – perfect for this post and perfect for my life right now. Do you see what I mean now? Intuition Rocks!!

Interested in going deeper with the cards, journaling and art with me

Pull Pen Paint class

Pull Pen Paint class

and a host of other awesome teachers? Join us in Pull Pen Paint, it begins February 26th: http://bit.ly/2artjournaltarot

 

I’m giving away a free spot in Pull Pen Paint for those on my newsletter list. Sign up for my newsletter here for a chance to win! You will also receive my tarot and oracle deck primer – Wild Adventures Through the Cards.

Coming back to center in a f’d up world

center, self-care, Uncategorized
Connecting to my center with tarot and oracle cards

Connecting to my center with tarot and oracle cards

This post is about the dance of losing my center, and coming back, losing it, and coming back again. I don’t believe it’s possible to stay in our center, not now and maybe not ever. Just one glimpse of social media and the frenzy around our political situation right now throws me right into fear and anxiety. One tense parenting moment (and with an adolescent there are plenty) or one financial discussion with my husband and there I go again. (Makes sense why Pause was my word of 2016, right?!)

My practice is now to recognize this uncentered and off-kilter state, to hold myself in compassion for being there, and then to do what I need to do to reconnect with my center – that wise place inside of me. Simple, but not easy!

Why do this? What’s so important about being centered? For me, being centered means that the chatter of my mind is quieted down and I can hear the wisdom of my inner knowing. This centered place helps me respond, instead of reacting, to what life throws my way. In this place, fear is not in charge, and anxiety takes a back seat. From here I can parent from a place of love and listening, and move forward in my life in a calm and grounded way.

How do we notice we are off of center, that we are caught up in the craziness of the outside world? There might be physical symptoms – breathing is shallow, tension builds up in the neck and shoulders – or I may not feel connected with my body at all. My thoughts might be racing, the mantra of “do it, fix it, control it” rushing through my brain. Anxiety is high, and I feel as if time has sped up. I feel like my daughter’s hamster running around his wheel. My practices help me notice when all of this is going on, which is the first step to slowing down.  Having regular places to stop and go inside myself during the week help me monitor when I’m caught up in frenzy and worry. And through those practices I am able to stop the hamster wheel and begin to come back to my breath, my body, and being present here and now.

Here are some of my practices:

  1. Pull a card and journal.
    My daily practice with tarot and oracle cards

    My daily practice with tarot and oracle cards

    You knew I would start here, didn’t you? Taking a few minutes to light a candle, sometimes burn sage or palo santo, breathe deeply and pull a card is a very grounding practice for me. It helps me to slow down, feel my feet on the ground, and then listen in for divine guidance. Spending a few minutes writing in my journal allows me to receive the messages I need to hear.

2.  Play with art supplies! 

Playing with stencils on a piece of scrap copy paper

Playing with stencils on a piece of scrap copy paper

This one is so fun and connects me to my imagination and creativity. The emphasis here is on PLAY. Play and fun are essential to plug into that wellspring of joy that always resides within us. When I am off center it can be tough to dive into play and creativity. In those moments I purposely take a piece of old cardboard, scrap paper or junk mail and use that as my surface for creating. What supplies will I use? Anything I have at hand, I love to cut up an old magazine and slap pieces down with a glue stick. Or I’ll take some stencils and go to town with different colors of paint. Really anything goes, and it really helps me slow down my thoughts and connect with myself. This really works best if I have no agenda for what I’m working on and no plan for it afterwards.

3. Meditation. Now I know that this is a tricky one for a lot of people. Many have told me that it just doesn’t work for them. Yeah, I get it, we’re supposed to be all relaxed and our minds are supposed to be quiet and most of the time they aren’t. Meditation really clicked for me after reading Jack Kornfield’s books “A Path With Heart” and “After the Ecstasy the Laundry.” I got it that the practice of meditation is noticing how busy our minds are and then coming back to the breath, noticing thoughts and coming back to the breath again. Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes excruciatingly challenging. I’ve found though that it’s always worth it and it brings me back to my center and my heart. For those who want to try it and are not sure where to begin, I recommend the app Insight Timer. Not only does it have a handy timer, there are also hundreds of guided meditations available which are helpful for busy minds.

The beauty of nature brings me back to my center

The beauty of nature brings me back to my center

4. Be in nature! This is a big one for me. Every time I can spend some time with redwoods, or gaze out at the ocean I feel the hamster wheel of my mind begin to slow down. Mother Earth is our greatest healer, and I do feel her healing essence when I give myself the time and space to tap into it.

5. Connecting with others in a class or circle. Sometimes we need help,

Connecting in with my fiery broken open heart at Chris Zydel's studio

Connecting in with my fiery broken open heart at Chris Zydel’s studio

sometimes we are so knocked off course that meditating or painting or pulling a card is not enough. I paint regularly at Chris Zydel’s studio. This practice helps me go deeper into myself for connecting and healing, and I am able to do this because of the container of safety that Chris creates. I also dance with a circle of women lead by Heather Munro Pierce. The work I do with Chris and Heather, and with other coaches and therapists and healers throughout my life, is not work I do alone. The power of the circle of women and of the wise guide who holds the space with love and safety is deep medicine. This is also what I do for my clients, hold the space with love and compassion so that they can connect with their inner guidance.

Now more than ever our practices for connecting with our own inner wisdom are essential. For those interested in jumpstarting their own practices to support themselves in moving through these challenging times, there is a wonderful month-long class by Kiala Givehand coming up called Pull Pen Paint.  I will be a guest teacher and will hold a sacred circle for one of the live sessions. The circle will be a beautiful dive into the divine feminine with tarot and oracle cards. I think the best thing about this class is that you will leave with a practice to help connect you with your center: pulling a card, journaling, and creating art. It’s also going to be so much fun!

Pull Pen Paint class

Pull Pen Paint class

I would love to hear from you, what are some of your practices? What helps you get back to your center?  I will be giving away a free spot to Pull Pen Paint later in February to my newsletter subscribers so make sure you are signed up if you are interested. Click here to sign up!

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Word of the Year – oh sh*t!

Art, word of the year

My word of the year has chosen me, and it’s a doozy – the kind of word that had me saying “really?!” “Oh shit!” and “here we go again!” You see, when a word of the year chooses me, it’s usually to push me in a direction of growth (ahem, big crazy challenges). Because really, for me, change is challenging, and also wonderful and necessary. So I have a love/hate relationship with my word of the year, and I’m always grateful (eventually).

2015:

My 2015 Word of the Year - Design by Jo Klima of The Darling Tree

My 2015 Word of the Year – Design by Jo Klima of The Darling Tree

This was the first time I chose a Word of the Year, and I thought it was relatively innocuous, but good. It sounded virtuous – I want to listen more to others. Once I committed to it, however, the Divine took hold and said “now you have to listen to ME, and your BODY, and your own INNER GUIDANCE.” Well crap, that’s a whole lot harder than what I had in mind. This word took me on a journey, helped me to dive into tarot and oracle cards more fully, pushed me to develop my meditation practice (and other woo-woo things) – all in the service of learning to listen deeply. As someone who had fought all things woo-woo for many years (12 years in academic/research psychology), this word turned out to be WAY more challenging than I anticipated. Of course this challenging word has led me down a path that has been the truest and most authentic of my life so far. So there’s that.

2016:

2016 Word of the Year - Pause

2016 Word of the Year – Pause

Ah, a simple one, right? Pause to stop and appreciate beauty all around you. Pause before committing yourself to too many things to avoid burnout. Pause so you can respond thoughtfully instead of (over)reacting – a parenting practice I aspire to. Mmm, so nice and zen, so mindful! As usual simple is not necessarily easy. Pause turned out to be one huge freaking pause in so many unexpected ways – menopause, pause the business completely for health reasons – actually pause just about everything for health reasons. 2016 was the year that my body finally told me – well you really didn’t learn the lesson of listening to me in 2015, you keep pushing me beyond what’s good for me, so I’m gonna make you listen to me now. (See how that sneaky word “listen” from 2015 just came along for 2016 too?)

Here’s where I’m supposed to tell you about all of the gifts of this pause year: how I developed a deeper and more intimate relationship with my own body (true), how pause helped me with my boundaries and my energy level (also true). But the coolest thing about my pause year was that I got off of my computer and did art. I feel my artist self blossoming and emerging in ways I never expected.

Lots more intuitive painting (even began Teacher Training with Chris Zydel!): intuitive-painting-collage

Participated in a postcard swap and a 52 card deck swap (twice!):

swaps-collage

Even started art journaling!

art-journaling-collage-3

Now it’s 2017 and my word of the year is:  surrender.  Yikes! For me this is a big deal because I really like the feeling of being in control (no, really, I LOVE it). Surrender feels like the opposite of control which is why I resisted it when it popped into my head on New Year’s Day. I have no illusions, like I did for 2015 and 2016, that this word will be easy or fun or enjoyable. Here’s the interesting thing though – it could be easy, fun and enjoyable if I get out of my own way. What might it be like to surrender to what truly is happening instead of trying to bend things to my own will (or to some version of how I think things “should” be?) What would it be like to float along down the river with the current instead of always trying to swim upstream? I guess that 2017 is the year I will be trying that out. Wish me luck!

What’s your word of the year and how do you feel about it? I’d love to know!

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