Monday, April 20, 2009

Earth Day - April 22nd


Reflections on Earth Day

This Earth Day may you take some time to close your eyes, breathe, feel the sun on your face, a light breeze caress your hair, the vibration of the living earth beneath your feet, and your life force flowing and beating strong within your body. Whether you dig in the dirt, lie on the grass, swim in a lake, walk through a forest, take the time today to connect with Mother Earth. Feel and recognize how she supports all of us Earth children with the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. This planet we all come home is a miraculous creation, as are we all.

This planet and the beauty of her nature have left me with feelings of awe again and again. Nature has also been a place for me to turn when life has been difficult and painful. Sometimes rooting myself in nature has been the best kind of encouragement. Even in the middle of turmoil I find that my problems will fade for a spell when I work in the garden, dirt embedding itself underneath my fingernails. Working the soil and planting seeds or bulbs always holds the promise of new growth, new life and beauty yet to come.

In my neighborhood there is this one bush that is ablaze with yellow blooms for a short time frame every spring. Every year I admire it's beauty and this year I was struck by a deeper meaning to it all, which was recognizing the eternal optimism of nature. Every year the flowers bloom again. No matter what has come to pass throughout the year we can always count on there to be new sprouts and new blooms. It reminds me that even though there are ups and downs to life that we just have to remember that spring will always show up and the flowers will always bloom. We can count on it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Letter From the Future

Dear Me,

How ironic that I am writing to you just a couple days away from your 40th birthday. Just imagine - in 40 years you'll be my age - a whopping 80 years-old.

I am writing to share some thoughts with you. This isn't advice - because really advice isn't always worth much. You really just need to trust yourself and your inner intuition. Follow your heart and listen to your gut.

What I want to share first is to take care of your self, so that you can experience the joy of good health for as long as possible. Trust me, you want to be able to still be active and doing things forty years from now. So if you want to be active in your future you need to be active NOW.

I am also going to tell you something you already know, which is that you are in touch with something greater, that something that connects us all. It is a web of magic that permeates the universe. Stay open to new experiences, to magic and special connections. Synchronicity happens because you draw those experiences to you. You are indeed powerful.

Don't be afraid. Don't let fear control you. Just stare it down, hop over it, walk by it or smack it out of your way. And failure. Ha! Laugh at that one. It is an illusion. There really is no such thing as failing. In fact what people often discover is the old cliche that when one door closes another does indeed open and what is through that next door is so much better than what you left behind.

What about all your creativity? So what if someone doesn't like what you write or paint. Ask yourself what it does for you and your spirit. If it brings you joy, a sense of fulfillment or completion, then keep on doing it. Odds are someone else will probably like it too anyways.

Dance more. Don't be so serious. Laugh, laugh, laugh and then laugh some more. Be happy. Enjoy the ride of life. Always stay in touch with your inner child because she is still in there. Play!!!!!

Trust in this great big amazing swirling spiraling universe and always be open to loving and being loved in return.

If you were to write a letter from your future self at the age of 80 to your current self, what would you write?

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Looking Glass

Just some food for thought that I offer up today...

Excerpt from Sacred Circles: A Guide to Creating Your Own Women's Spirituality Group

"There could hardly be a hotter topic for a group of women then beauty. most of us are obsessed with how we look and how far we deviate from how we think we would like to look. Addicted to perfection, we have become merciless self-critics. We have heard a million times the old adage that "beauty is only skin deep," but we have never really internalized it. Instead, we believe that our self-worth is directly correlated to our waist size or the amount of cellulite in our saddlebags. What other adages and myths concerning beauty are we under the spell of?

It can be very liberating to hear other women share their obsessions, thoughts, and feelings about beauty. We begin to hear ourselves in others---others we know to be perfectly beautiful. only then do we see a glimmer of the absurdity of our self-delusions. Bettie is our bonafide college beauty queen---Hopskinsville, Kentucky, 1952. To hear this still gorgeous sixty-plus-year-old woman describe her negative feelings about her body is to see the real insanity of the obsession. Listening to her discuss this un-winnable dilemma of never-thin-enough, never-young-enough, never-(place your favorite self-recrimination here)-enough makes us all want to wriggle free of our old skins---too tight now, too made up, too coiffed---and enjoy the gift of who we really are. Truly, there is no ugliness in a circle of happy women, especially when lit by candles!"

Do you think you can wriggle free of your un-winnable obsessions? Wouldn't it be empowering and liberating to just enjoy ourselves how we are right now? Why can't we? What is really standing in our way?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Prayers of the Cosmos



I attended a workshop/talk with author Susan G. Wooldridge this week. She wrote the books Poem Crazy and Foolsgold (which I posted an excerpt from just a few days ago. It was a wonderful workshop, though much, much too short. I could have spent a much longer time hearing more from Susan about writing and it would have been delightful to have had more time to play more with words and learn more about the other attendees.

Susan spoke of many things last night in the short time frame and in my notes I jotted down several titles of books that were recommended. There was one in particular that drew my attention. It was called Prayers of the Cosmos.


Susan shared briefly how the author had gone back to find the original Lords Prayer in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus and the people of his time in that part of the land.

Susan knew part of the prayer in Aramaic by heart and it simply sounded so beautiful to hear the words spoken aloud. I went in search of finding the whole prayer and it was available for viewing on Amazon.com.

First I will share here the Aramaic version, then the translation direct from Aramaic and lastly the King James Version. Comparing the King James version side by side with the Aramaic translation is fascinating. One would think that they couldn't possibly be translations from the same document. Yet that is the case.

The Lords Prayer in Aramaic
Abwoon d 'bwashmaya
Neth qadash shmakh
Teytey malkuthakh
Nehwey tzevyanach aykanna
d'bwashmaya aph b'arha
Hawrlan lachma d ' sunquanan yaomana
Washboglan khaubayn (wakhtahayn) ay kana
daph khnan shboqan l ' khayyabayn
Wela tahlan l'nesyuaa
Ela patzan min bisha
Metol dilakhie malkutha urahayala
wateshbukhta l'ahlam almin.
Ameya


Aramaic to English Translation
~ Our Birth In Unity ~

O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos,
you create all that moves in light.

O Thou! The Breathing Life of all Creator
of the Shimmering Sound that touches us.

Respiration of all worlds, we hear you
breathing - in and out - in silence.

Source of Sound in the roar and the whisper in the
breeze and the whirlwind, we hear your name.

Radiant One: You shine within us out side us
- even darkness shines - when we remember.

Names of names our small identity unravels
in your, you give it back as a lesson.

Wordless Action - Silent Potency -- where
ears and eyes awaken - there heaven comes.


O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos!



King James Version

Our Father which are in heaven
Hallowed be they name.
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done in Earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory, for ever.
Amen



What do you think?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thoughts on Emptiness


I wanted to share a brief excerpt from a book called foolsgold by Susan G. Wooldridge.

"The creative, it seems, is spawned from emptiness. Giving over to silence, waiting, allowing, listening. Coming to emptiness may mean coming through grief. Something has been lost, a marriage, a child, a house, a city, a world. An idea of who we are. Whatever seems familiar, tried and true.

In the emptiness we might get an inkling---as if something lights up and twinkles---of how we'll begin to form and open to who we're becoming, who we most truly are. We need to leave space both for what we'll discover and what will emerge to discover us."

At the end of this particular chapter she shares a thoughtful poem by Rumi.

The human being is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes as
an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows, who sweep
your house empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you our for some new delight.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Letting Creativity Unfurl

I am working on a series of paintings. They are for a special long-term project. Long-term because I think it will take me a while to complete the whole series. I keep telling myself to just take it one step at a time, or in this case, just one painting at a time. I also remind myself that the joy comes from the journey and the act of creating and painting. Sometimes I am not quite sure what will appear on the canvas. I just start and let the creative process unfurl and take on a life of its' own. I am reminded of an affirmation that says "Creator, you take care of the quality and I'll take care of the quantity."

I am still not quite finished with Trust.
I have let this one sit for awhile.
It doesn't feel quite finished to me yet
so I am awaiting that final inspiration.
The swirls and the flowers just don't seem quite right to me.

Trust

Here is my mandala style painting called Divine Connection.

Divine Connection

I also have some touch up work to do on Turiya,
which I began painting just last night.
Turiya is the elusive fourth level of human consciousness.
It is supposed to be a state of pure consciousness.
This too is a mandala painting.


Turiya

Lastly I also included the sketch I have ready for the next one
called Ahimsa, which is a Sanskrit term that means "do no harm."
I traced my left hand as well as each of my daughters left hands.
I am hoping to have some time today while my
daughters nap to begin painting this one.


Ahimsa

Friday, March 20, 2009

The ABC's of Spring

Advancing, allergies
Buds, blooms, blossoms, birds, breezes, birth
Clean, creeping, colds
Daffodils, dandelions, ducks
Emergence, Easter, eggs
Flowers, feasts
Grass, green, geese
Hyacinth, hay-fever
Ice-melt
Jacket
Kites, Kleenex
Life, Love, Lent
Mow, mud
Nest
Open
Puddle, plant
Quiet
Rain, rainbow, restless, runny noses
Shine, showers, snails, sweaters, sprouts, sniffles
Tulips
Umbrella
Vacation
Wind, warming
Xanthic
Yellow
Zest

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Believe In Us

Shiloh Sophia McCloud is an inspirational sacred artist, entrepreneur, publisher and human being. I came across this video she made to inspire others. It showcases her beautiful art and the beautiful messages of encouragement she continually shares with others.

You can learn more about her by visiting the following websites:
The Wisdom House
Cosmic Cowgirls

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More on Spirals


The spiral leads
us to the truth
of our spiritual
center.

By following
the path
of the spiral
within ourselves,
we connect
to the divine
mystery
that is all
around us.

A balance
of the inner
and outer realms
is the path to
enlightenment.

Take the light
from within
and spiral
it out
into
the
world.


(words taken from a Goddess candle)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bread and Roses


A couple of weeks ago while doing some research regarding International Women's Day I came across the term Bread and Roses. The phrase immediately took me back to my childhood and a concert series that my parents took me to a few times at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. I had been told that the concerts were to benefit an organization that put on performances for people who were incarcerated. The concerts were amazing. We would put out our blankets and sit on the wide concrete steps. We would then be enthralled by listening to performers like Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Peter Paul and Mary, Paul Simon, Graham Nash, the Smothers Brothers and the MC talents of manic comedian Robin Williams.

As I was drawn back into such memories I began to wonder if these concerts were still happening. I found a web site for the organization. You can visit it by clicking here.

The Mission Statement for this inspirational program is as follows:

Bread & Roses is dedicated to uplifting the human spirit by providing free, live, quality entertainment to people who live in institutions or are otherwise isolated from society. Our performances: enrich the soul and promote wellness through the healing power of the performing arts; create a sense of community for our professional performers, in a non-commercial setting in which they can donate their talents to inspire and be inspired; provide an opportunity for non-performing volunteers to contribute a variety of skills and resources that support our humanitarian services and increase the impact of donor contributions. In carrying out this mission, Bread & Roses seeks to create a social awareness of people who are isolated from society, and to encourage the development of similar organizations in other communities.

The story about how Bread and Roses came into being is very inspirational. It begins with a vision of a woman name Mimi Farina. Here is the excerpt from the web site:
"Every successful organization starts with a visionary founder. Ours was Mimi Fariña. She was the energetic, goal-oriented, passionate person who had the idea, was willing to take the risk, and was able to sell the vision of Bread & Roses to others.

Mimi was a petite ball of fire, a meticulous writer, an inspiring speaker, a fine songwriter, and a fabulous performer. As a child, she was an excellent dancer, and played the violin. As a teenager, she mastered the guitar. With her late husband, Richard Fariña, she entertained and inspired audiences in the 1960´s with original folk music until Richard´s untimely death in a motorcycle accident in 1966. Mimi continued to perform professionally for many years - both solo and with others.

In 1972, she attended a live concert with B.B. King at Sing-Sing Prison in New York, and she was deeply moved. She had seen the healing exchange that occurs between performer and audience at least once before at a performance for patients in a mental hospital. Not long after the B.B. King concert, her cousin invited her to perform at the halfway house that he managed. This time, the seed for Bread & Roses was planted. Mimi began to think seriously about creating opportunities for performing artists to bring the joy of live entertainment to people shut away from society. She said it was like writing a song.

Mimi started Bread & Roses in Mill Valley, California in 1974, working out of her home. She recruited fellow performers and matched them with facilities serving the sick, homeless, disabled and imprisoned. Eventually she rented a tiny office, hired a staff and really put the show on the road. From the beginning, she established a few fundamental principles that still guide the organization:
  • Recruit high quality professional and amateur artists who (a) have a natural rapport with their audiences, and (b) will volunteer their time.
  • Provide all performances free of charge to client facilities.
  • Garner other volunteer resources, sound and light technicians, photographers, and the like, to reduce production costs.
  • Treat volunteers, donors, and clients with grace and gratitude.
Not everybody can do what Mimi did; take a powerful idea, keep the principles simple, and execute with heart and soul. Mimi created a successful, nonprofit organization that serves other nonprofits and uplifts tens of thousands of people every year. Her accomplishments were recognized by many organizations over the years, including The Easter Seal Society (1989), National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (1993), League of Women Voters (1998), and the National Association of Women Business Owners (2000).

Although Mimi had planned to retire in 2000, she suspended participation in the daily affairs of Bread & Roses in November 1999 when she was diagnosed with cancer. However, she continued to assist the organization in many ways. In March 2000, she served as the beautiful and eloquent hostess for our 25th Anniversary Celebration. She continued to inspire and uplift the staff and board with her ideas and her humor. She illuminated our path, set an example of excellence and kindness, and reminded us how important our work is to our audiences and to our volunteers.

Mimi died on July 18, 2001, at her home on Mt. Tamalpais in Mill Valley, California, surrounded by her family and close friends.

We remember Mimi Fariña - our founder and the light of Bread & Roses. We thank her for more than 25 years of devotion to our mission, to our audiences, and to those who traveled with her. We hold her banner high, promise that the love that she gave to others through Bread & Roses will be multiplied many times over in the years to come.
A public memorial and celebration of Mimi's life was held at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on August 7."

I was also touched by the beautiful eulogy that was presented by Joan Baez, Mimi Farina's sister, at Grace Cathedral San Francisco, CA--August 7, 2001.

Thank you for being here. I want to acknowledge some people.

I'd like to acknowledge my mother, who tackled Mimi's illness in an extraordinary way by reading the right books - Jack Kornfield, Ram Dass, Rachel Naomi Remen, Stephen Levine, and Elizabeth Kubler Ross - and by practicing meditation.

I'd like to acknowledge my father, who prayed constantly and who spoke in Quaker Meeting to keep Mimi in the light.

I'd like to acknowledge my sister Pauline, who had made a point of staying out of the public eye for her whole life, but who somehow through the events with Mimi, became bolder and became much more of a sister to me. I thank her for that. Bold enough that one day, when I was dashing across the room with Bonnie Raitt, Pauline stepped forward and put her hand out and said, "Hi, I'm the other one." And Bonnie knew exactly what that meant.

I'd like to acknowledge my son Gabriel, my niece Pearl, my nephew Nicholas, for being nearby and ready at the call for the last few weeks of Mimi's life. They were lovely and they taught us about youth, about bravery, and about some kinds of wisdom.

I'd like to acknowledge Skipper as well. Skipper Henderson, my cousin, was there at the very beginning of Bread & Roses, and was here at the end of Mimi's life for her during her whole illness.

Melita Figueroa cooked for us the last week, otherwise we probably all would have been dead. Thank you, Melita.

Gail Zermeno, a close friend of mine for many, many years, happens to be a nurse, and because of her, we never had to have an outside nurse come in, we never had to have anybody Mimi didn't know touch her, be with her, and nurse her. Thank you, Gail.

Paul Liberatore, whose unconditional love for Mimi before, throughout, and after her illness and death humbled us all.

I'd like to acknowledge Final Passages, an organization which led us to many things including home funeral, which I think everybody should know about. It allowed us to, in fact, do everything ourselves. We did everything ourselves, from caring for Mimi, washing Mimi, clothing Mimi afterwards, doing all the things that she had asked us to do, and delivering her body to the mortuary ourselves in Paul's truck.

I'd like to thank the prisoners and the people who are listening to this service live and remind you how much Mimi loved you and how much you meant to her, all of the people in the institutions who are listening today. Thank you.

And of course, I thank the staff of Grace Cathedral and Bread & Roses for today's service.Just some words on Mimi's death and dying process, and the gifts and lessons that I received.

My greatest lesson from Mimi, who has been in my psyche for 56 years: I had never seen her the way other people saw her. I'd seen her always as my little sister, and I discovered she was so much more. She was everything more. And I got a chance, through, I think it was the photos, seeing her looking like an Italian movie star, looking like a dancer, looking like an extremely strong woman and all of these things she was. It was the scale of Mimi's stature and her greatness that I had never seen. It was a gift that Mimi gave us that she was around long enough for me to tell her, "Mimi, I didn't get it, and I do now." And sometimes I was thankful that Mimi couldn't even answer back or she would have told me to be quiet, because I wanted to tell her how much I loved her, how much people loved her, how many people would grieve her death. She really didn't like displays of emotion, and so we tried to keep ours down in her presence. One day I was on the telephone with her and I was looking over some of Jim Marshall's early photographs, and I'd called Mimi and said "These are so beautiful, would you like to see any of them?" She said, "No, not really." I burst into tears, and she asked me what I was crying about. I said I was crying because I loved her so much and because she was in pain and I couldn't stand it. And she said, "You know, I think you're really much more involved in this than I am." I'm sure it was true.

I don't know if you know the definition of a co-dependent... it's somebody who at the moment of death, sees somebody else's life pass before their eyes.

Lesson: I learned that Mimi needed her independence from me in order to love me, and I attempted to give her that. Mimi could and did handle her death and the rest of her life perfectly well by herself.

Gift: One day Mimi was very weak, she patted the bed for me to get in next to her. I crawled in and we put our arms around each other. And I sang, "I'm the luckiest sister...." She said, "...in the world." And then she said, "Reality." And I said "Yes." She said, "There's another reality, you know." And I said, "Really? Have you seen it?" She said, "No. It's a kind of an awareness, it's a kind of intelligence." And I said, "Is that where you're going?" She said, "Yeah." I said, "Do you need any help getting there?" She said, "No." A little later, she said, "I want to go, I want to go now." And I said, "Mimi, if it's any help to you, I'm ready to let you go." And she said, "No, you're not."

But I was, in fact, as ready as a woman brought up in the western world could be. I had done a vision quest in Colorado and I had spent two weeks in silent meditation at Spirit Rock, trying to let Mimi go. Trying to let Mimi go. I walked her trails on Mt. Tam and I would say out loud, "Let her go." And I had a little prayer. I would turn to the mountains and the ocean and that fog which some days was blasting at me, and I would breathe in Mimi's intimate companions, the hawk and the deer and the crow and the eucalyptus trees and the bay trees and the little brown birds, the lizards, the chipmunks, all of that beauty, and then I would turn and face Mimi's house, and I would breathe out, "Mimi, I send you my warmth, I send you my strength, I send you all of my love, and may your passage be like a shadow crossing the moon when the time comes."

Gifts: The coming together of the family in a way we really had never done before. Members of the family I didn't know very well, I came to know. In members of the family I knew quite well, I discovered layers of wealth. The widening of the family circle to encompass Paul.

And I'll leave you with a poem that I wrote after Mimi had died. It was the last poem I wrote.

If at storms end
the sun prances through your heart
as it does mine,
then all the catastrophic moments
of this life
will fade
past the here and now
to the trails of Tamalpais
where we walked
and where we will again find
the hearts calm,
the silent glade,
and a meeting place
for you and for me,
who came to know each other,
finally.

Thank you.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sundial Film Festival


Last night was the First Annual Sundial Film Festival. It was a nice change of pace for me and Nathan to go out on an actual date and to have a reason to dress up. I even wore my feathered red boa!

The organizers did a fabulous job with the event. The preceding gala reception was very swanky with a live band, people dressed to the nines, and a very cool ice sculpture of the sundial bridge. The award ceremony was really well done. There were some amazing photos. There was also the film category and they showed five of the films entered, including the one that took overall best of show called The Cart by Jesse Rosten, towards the end of the ceremony. You can check out more of Jesse Rosten's work on his professional web site here or on his blog here. He and his wife are both incredibly talented. It was impressive to see what creative talents reside in this area and what an opportunity this wonderful event provided for artists to showcase their work.


I loved hearing Jessica Abbe, a documentary filmmaker speak last night too. She was raised here in Shasta County. She holds a BFA from New York University and a Master's Degree in Journalism from UC Berkeley. She and her husband, producer-director Christopher (Toby) McLeod, have written and produced a number of documentary films about indigenous cultures around the world. She was funny and interesting and then she read a poem she wrote about growing up in this area. It was amazing, beautiful and so touching.


I think based on the numbers that showed up this year that this is indeed the first of many more festivals to come! Yea for Redding and the art community!

Here are the photographs that I entered.
Aubrey and Maya - The Photo that took Runner Up in the Beginning Still Life category.

Maya and the Cat In the Hat

Contemplative Maya

Angel

Geckos

Friday, March 13, 2009

Inspirational Work Spaces

Creating inspirational and sacred space for yourself oneself can be both uplifting and soothing to the soul. I also believe that having your creative tools within reach and easily accessible means you are more likely to actually use them on a regular basis. If the space you spend time in feels cluttered, uninspiring and perhaps just plain boring, I encourage you do take some to spruce up the space where you write, paint, sew, dream, blog and so on. Include some candles and images that speak to you. It doesn't have to cost anything either. Create your own art and hang it in your space or cut out images from old calendars or magazines and make a cool collage of images you enjoy.


The photo above is of a narrow wall space in the home office I share with my husband. This wall space is right above my desk. It includes two paintings by me. The large one with glowing golden wings is called We are all meant to shine! To the right of it is my Writer's Manifesto. I created this while at a writer's workshop with inspirational writer Sark last October. She even signed it. On the left is my Artist Manifesto. This was created at the gathering I facilitated in February called The Red Boa Playshop. The smaller box painting is called All the world needs is Love. Above it is a wonderful tin heart with wings that I found at Electric Rose Gallery in Healdsburg, California.

While I would love to have my very own playshop space for painting and writing I have decided that can wait for now. Instead I make the most of my space and include in my side of the office some of my favorite creative tools.

I love colored pens. I have containers of them real close by so that I can access them while I am sitting at my desk. Yet having them in cute little decorated pails means I can easily relocate them to another room if necessary. I also have some other odds and ends like glitter, stamps, a bell from the Netherlands and some favorite books occupying this space.

Here are more of my favorite books as well as journals and art catalogs.

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Yet more books, the top is composed of language books from my days of being a French major. I also have some books from a semester in Spanish and a semester in Arabic. The second shelf holds books about children and parenting and basically some books that could lead one to becoming a parent (books about sex - oh my!)

Some more eye candy - a gorgeous field of sunflowers - my favorite flower.

Some mandalas I colored and taped in the window by my computer.

Another gorgeous miniature painting by my friend Susan Apolonio. She is so talented.

I am a word person too, so to the right of my screen is a magnetic word board. The image on my computer screen is one of Shiloh Sophia McCloud's amazing paintings. To view more of her art be sure to visit the Wisdom House Gallery on-line store here.

It is also important to me that the work space at my job also has some inspirational images. Here is a photo of my lone bulletin board that sits above my computer screen. Four favorite artists are featured. Shiloh Sophia McCloud, Melissa Harris, Mara Friedman and Sark.

Gloria Steinem


A friend of mine recently heard Gloria Steinem speak in the bay area here in California. I am so grateful that she took the time to share what Gloria spoke of at her uplifting lecture.

"Gloria will be 75 years old this month. She had an abortion at 22 which she never regretted since she never desired motherhood or marriage but did marry at 66 to her best friend who died 3 years later. She said he was the most in the present person she ever met. He would carry dog/cat food in his car and stop to feed animals and throw spare change in a parking lot so children would find it.

She struggled with public speaking and cancelled several engagements and was sued. She is a conflict avoider and wants harmony as key theme in her life. If she could re-do anything, she would do what she knows much faster and do different things to maintain interest and excitement about life. As a writer, she always worked towards deadlines but at her age, she says she’s her deadline. She wrote a recent book: Revolution from Within about finding your own path in life. Whether you are a feminist or not, she is a remarkable woman."

It was incredibly enlightening to learn the Gloria struggled with public speaking and that she was also a conflict avoider. I wouldn't have imagined that to be the case. I always saw her as this strong, outspoken, and in some ways fearless woman. For years she has taken on writing and speaking about controversial subjects. She has dared to voice her opinions and views even when it was certain that some people would disagree. It is actually encouraging and inspiring to know that even though public speaking and dealing with conflict was difficult for her that she did it anyway. It reminds me of a favorite quote by Maggie Kuhn which states:

"Speak your mind even if your voice shakes."

Here were some of Gloria's key points from her lecture:
  • Care giving in the US accounts for 1/3 of all work but has no economic value e.g. No tax credits or breaks etc.

  • Mozart had an older sister who was probably more accomplished than him but never was heard about since she was female. Besides Sally Ride, there were 10 other female astronauts who never received any press.

  • If you say you are beginning to sound/look like your Mom, don’t live her life, live your own as a tribute to her

  • 65 year olds dream more often in black and white than younger people because of black and white TV (shows the impact of TV on us)

  • Everyone needs to tell their own story about their life not just the rich and famous. We look to celebrities because we downgrade our own stories which are more important

  • You will get in trouble anyway, so do what you want in life

  • Stay connected to other women to share stories, memories and keep one another hopeful in life

  • While systems are initially developed to help us, they may degrade and destroy some of us e.g. pharmaceutical industry

  • Media lives on statistics and generalization and devoid of imagery, stories and narratives which provide encouragement and interest

  • US has sorely lacked any viable leadership for past 10 years throwing us into a lost country

  • Women are an unused resource to spread peace

  • Few women in the corporate world because they lack power to be their own worst enemy and are promoted to put down other women

  • Be authentic to your current or potential mate so he can be real too

  • Self esteem two types: Core ( from childhood – what you believe about yourself) and situational per circumstances (if you don’t have positive core esteem, the second can be a bottomless pit)

  • How to remain hopeful as women ? Talk to one another, listen, be supportive and share. Women don’t own a country, neighborhood or have a common bar. Build your own community

  • Women generally listen more than talk, men vice versa

  • If girls like Barbie dolls, use them as a teaching tool. Barbie’s feet are smaller than her boobs; point out that she would not be able to stand up without help.

Recommended books by Gloria:

  • Color Purple
  • Writings by Janice Mirikitani - poet
  • Pray the Devil Back to Hell
  • Exterminate the Brutes – Sven Norquist

The last two are about the roots of racism which is inseparable from sexism in our society

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Dressing Room Project





Need a little pick-me-up today? Feeling a bit down on yourself? Has the critical monster in your head been picking away at your self-esteem when you look in the mirror?

Well it is time to pick yourself up. It is time to start feeling good about yourself. And it is way over time to banish that critical monster in your head to a closet where you will lock it in and throw away the key!

How does one accomplish this? Well a first step is to look around for some inspiration and some feel good messages! A perfect place to find just that is by visiting the web site for The Dressing Room Project.

This is how the project describes itself on it's web site:

"The Dressing Room Project is a girl-powered rebellion to free girls & women from the bonds of media-imposed standards of beauty! We’re posting our girl-designed cards on mirrors in women’s dressing rooms everywhere to help girls & women feel more comfortable in our uniquely beautiful bodies."

The story behind the project:

"Emerging Women Projects (EWP), a non profit organization for teen girls' empowerment, launched this social change initiative in the year 2000. Girls in our program were getting angry about mainstream media's portrayal of women. These unrealistic ideals contribute to the prevalence of negative self-image, eating disorders and other unhealthy behaviors in girls and women. We decided to take some positive action.

What began as a small grassroots project has now grown to include thousands nationally who participate through posting our cards in stores and starting DRP Action Teams to promote the movement.The Dressing Room Project Workshop for teen girls now tours nationally. We are excited to witness the incredible growth of this powerful project and the spread of our positive messages. "

Be sure to download the small cards that you can print. Click here for the new February cards. They are perfect for taping on your mirrors, public mirrors and dressing rooms.

They also have a fun collection of shirts, buttons, caps, tote bags and more in the on-line store.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Imagine A Mother

Imagine a Mother

Imagine a mother who believes she belongs in the world.
A mother who celebrates her own life.
Who is glad to be alive.

Imagine a mother who celebrates the birth of her daughters.
A mother who believes in the goodness of her daughters.
Who nurtures their wisdom. Who cultivates their power.

Imagine a mother who celebrates the birth of her sons.
A mother who believes in the goodness of her sons.
Who nurtures their kindness. Who honors their tears.

Imagine a mother who turns toward herself with interest.
A mother who acknowledges her own feelings and thoughts.
Whose capacity to be available to her family deepens
as she is available to herself.

Imagine a mother who is aware of her own needs and desires.
A mother who meets them with tenderness and grace.
Who enlists the support of respectful friends and chosen family.

Imagine a mother who lives in harmony with her heart.
A mother who trusts her impulses to expand and contract.
Who knows that everything changes in the fullness of time.

Imagine a mother who embodies her spirituality.
A mother who honors her body as the sacred temple of the spirit of life.
Who breathes deeply as a prayer of gratitude for life itself.

Imagine a mother who values the women in her life.
A mother who finds comfort in the company of women.
Who sets aside time to replenish her woman-spirit.

Imagine yourself as this mother.


Imagine a Mother © Patricia Lynn Reilly, 2000
For more about the author click here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dear Women of the World




In honor of International Women's Day which is today ~ March 8th ~ I have written a letter to the women of the world.

Dear Women of the World,

I have only set foot in a small handful of countries on planet earth, yet I am extremely grateful for these opportunities and experiences, as some people never travel beyond their own country's borders. I have lived in the south of France and studied there and I have been to Paris. I have traveled through Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands. My travels have also included Morocco, as well as Mexico and Canada. What I know for certain is that the best experiences weren't about the museums, monuments or amazing cathedrals. The most memorable moments are about people. My favorite experiences involved interactions with living and breathing people who lived in these countries.

The most important thing I learned from meeting people in other countries is how much alike we all are. There are differences of course and I celebrate these differences. Diversity enriches this world we live in. Yet, while there may be differences in language, religion, customs, clothing, architecture, food, skin color, or the environment, it is so readily apparent that we have much in common. We are made of flesh and bone. We all must eat to survive. We all seek shelter and comforts to make our life more pleasurable. We all seek companionship in one form or another. We all have traditions. We all have some form of art in our culture that enriches our lives. We all appreciate beauty, though our opinions on what is beautiful may vary, for it is true what they say "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

When one realizes and values just how similar we all are it changes the way one looks at the world and feels about what is happening around the world on a global scale. Spending time with families in Morocco, which is a predominantly Muslim country, doesn't just influence how I view Morocco or Moroccans. It makes me realize that the people I met there could just as easily be just like the people I might meet in Afghanistan, Palestine or Iraq.

The book Three Cups of Tea, about American Greg Mortenson's experiences building schools for girls and boys in Pakistan and Afghanistan, is an inspirational story and provides a more intimate glimpse into the lives of the people who inhabit these countries. You get to see through the written word how much these people care and how hard they are willing to work to build schools for their children. You see them encouraging and wanting their daughters to get an education for they know the difference it can make to a village.

Whenever I hear the drums of war being beaten by one country or another I want to shout - "Enough! Who will suffer? Who will die? Who will experience loss and pain? We will! Women just like you and I! So will our children, our husbands, our brothers, our sisters, our mothers and our fathers."

When more of us women recognize that we are more alike than different, that we women are all made of the same flesh and bone, that we all are seeking enough to eat, safe shelter and some comforts, as well as companionship, then we will also see more clearly that we are one. We will understand that what hurts one, hurts another. We will also hopefully see that the successes of one woman is yet another reason for all women to celebrate.

When we recognize that we are one, this is when I believe we, as women, can make an amazing impact in the world. For example when we stand up together and say "Enough of violence and war!" I believe the world will have no choice but to listen. When we stand together against abuse and violence of any kind against women and children, and men too, we will be heard and change will happen. When we stand up against inequality and refuse to accept that women and children be treated as second class citizens we will be heard and change will happen. When we no longer remain quiet and stand by as our children and our husbands head off to war we will be heard and change will happen.

The same will be true when we stand up together and shout out loud about our joys and celebrate together those things that fill our spirits with happiness and our hearts with love. When we stand up together and in unison pronounce, "Hallelujah, Praise Jesus, Praise Mary, Praise Allah, Praise Buddah, Praise the Dalia Lama, Praise the Goddess, Praise Planet Earth, Praise the Universe" or whatever else makes you want to sing and rejoice and makes you feel connected to something greater than yourself, our voices will join together to create beautiful melodies and choruses and we will be heard by the world.

We will be heard and beautiful changes will happen.

Blessings ~ Michelle

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some countries like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, IWD is a national holiday. The first IWD was run in 1911. The IWD Global Centenary is in 2011. There are currently 815 IWD events in 54 countries. Visit the official web site for IWD here.


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Inspiration for Today ~ Toni Carmine Salerno

A little more inspiration for you again today. I came across the web site of an artist named Toni Carmine Salerno. His work is stunning and very spiritual. His painting and writings have been used to create numerous inspirational oracle decks of cards. There are also books and journals. I thought you might enjoy perusing his web site too.



Above is the cover and an inside look at a new book called Gaia Body and Soul. It offers offers reflections and meditations in honour of Mother Nature and the feminine spirit.

I liked this card from the Ask An Angel deck. Here is the image and the messsage that appears on the back of the card.


ART Archangel Gabriel

Art is the message.

The indefinable group of colours, symbols and sounds that contain and express the indescribable. Art is the manifestation or materialisation of the consciousness that exists in ethereal form.

This is why when a new artist emerges and finds a way to express a vibration that has been bubbling below the surface of our awareness, a revolution takes place.

Whenever a society becomes rigid, represses an energy or becomes too much the extreme of an energy or value system, new art always emerges to challenge and bring balance to the whole. From Picasso to the Beatles, the artist dives deep into the unconscious to bring forth something new.

The artist is a channel; an explorer of the intangible realms, a messenger of what was found or what found the artist.

To be an artist is to be open to the colours, sounds, symbols or stories that embody the world and are talking to you; to be willing to explore what is hidden in the unconscious worlds and to be brave enough to be a messenger of what you experience.
The moment the intellect or the ego become involved, the artist becomes a blocked channel. Fear, arrogance, pride and insecurity are feelings that relate to the ego and the identity. The art comes to you because it needs to be expressed and it sees you as the correct birth canal. It doesn’t want you to take credit or own or judge what it is. Just be a good parent and nurture and protect it. The artist is the messenger not the message.

It is time for you now to open yourself up to these new ideas and new worlds of creative opportunity. Release your fears, your pride and be brave enough to go to new territories within your inner landscape. The messages, images, sounds and ideas you receive now are important to you personally, spiritually, creatively and vocationally.

Pay attention, be brave and be open.

Another intriguing deck is called GAIA ORACLE Cards


Here is one of the cards called Sacred Heart.
The message on the back follows below:

Passion, Love, Spiritual Communion

You are entering a period of profound and heartfelt love; a deeply emotional time where you focus on, question and think about the things that matter to you most. You will find yourself re-evaluating your priorities and core values and this leads you along a path of self-discovery, bringing with it a deepened spiritual connection to the Earth, your surroundings, family, friends and loved ones. Your passion and appreciation for life are heightened. At times your emotions overflow to the point of being almost unbearable. Yet this is nothing to fear or be concerned about, for this is a most sacred and precious time through which your loving intentions are both seen and felt by all around you. Your inner light and wisdom illuminates, heals and inspires. This is a good time for creative writing, or you may feel inclined to draw, paint or take up a creative pursuit of some kind. Thank the Earth and stars for the many blessings you receive.

Affirmation
I am in tune with my inner light and wisdom
I am guided always by love
I energetically share my light and wisdom with others
I am one with the Earth and stars
The guidance I receive is free from the limitations of time and space

Friday, February 27, 2009

Inspiration for Today ~ Goddess Leonie

Looking for some inspiration today? I hope the answer is yes, as I really want to share with you the web site of the very creative and talented Goddess Leonie. She was featured in Sark's latest book Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper. Goddess Leonie is a wonderful artist, a gifted writer and a true intuitive Goddess. Click here for her web site called Goddess Guidebook.

Here is a taste of what you can find on her web site:

Creative Goddess Manifesto

Creative Goddesses make art because
it fills them up with joy and light.

Creative Goddesses believe mistakes are sacred
and add to an artwork’s story and perfection.

Creative Goddesses aren’t afraid of
making art that doesn’t Look Good.

Creative Goddesses don’t make art for others,
they make art for themselves.

Creative Goddesses make art that is true for them.

Creative Goddesses don’t need
no stinkin’ outside approval.

Creative Goddesses make art that
doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s.

Creative Goddesses trust in their intuition and vision
to make *their* art as it is needed in this world.

Creative Goddesses listen to their soul’s calling.

Creative Goddesses dip their fingers in paint.

Creative Goddesses know the power of soulful creativity.

Creative Goddesses remember that every person
on this planet is an artist, a Creative spirit, a soul
who needs love, joy, creativity, laughter
and connection just as much as water and food.

Creative Goddesses do it messy.
And gladly. And reverently.

Creative Goddesses share their art when it is right for them,
and hold on to the medicine of their art when it is right for them.

The Creative Goddess is inside you.
She is inside each of us, everywhere, all the time.
We only need a moment to hear our own grace and magnificence.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Synchronicity & Spirals

I receive an email message from The Universe every day. I learned about this from a blog called Spiritual Cowgirl by the writer of The Red Book, Sera Beak. I'll be writing a whole separate post on her amazing spiritual book. So today my message left me feeling a bit tingly. I think of it as synchronicity.

There were a lot of reasons
you chose to come to earth, Michelle,
and I am super happy to tell you
that not one of them was to
master being poor, lonely, or sick.
Incidentally, neither did you have any intention
of living your life without a red spiral heart.
Clutch! You came to "kick butt," Michelle...

The Universe

While I like reading that I am not here on planet Earth to be poor, lonely or sick this isn't the part that made me tingle. It was the red spiral heart statement. Sure these email messages from the Universe are used for many people. Yet it is such an odd combination "spiral heart." What does that mean exactly to live with a red spiral heart? I don't know the answer quite yet. This is something I will reflect on and write about.

What I do know already is that I have always been drawn to spirals. I wrote a post about this just a few weeks ago actually. The truly amazing part is that the image on that very same post is none other than a heart with a spiral. I actually purchased this piece, along with two other tear drop pendants with spirals from jewelry designer Becky Sharp. The background colors are stained glass. I love wearing them.

Pendant by Becky Sharp of Becky Sharp Designs
(Read below for information about this item.)

My seeking out spirals led me to Becky and when I contacted her she told me about a discount being offered on a blog and there was a chance to win the red spiral heart. I didn't win, but I did use the discount and I did add the spiral heart to my order. I don't think I would have been seeking out the spirals if I hadn't been wanting something special to wear to the first Red Boa Playshop I put on just a week ago. The Red Boa is an idea that has been residing in me for more that a decade. A book title came to me many years ago - Life's Too Short Not to Wear a Red Boa. I started working on it but fears and insecurities got in the way.

What lit my fire again in regards to resurrecting The Red Boa was the incredible Bountiful Visionary Women's Conference held by Shiloh Sophia McCloud and the Cosmic Cowgirls. When I attended the conference I found myself in Healdsburg, California, in the amazing working studio of artist Sophia McCloud. I found myself in the midst of an incredible circle of women. We were there to share and absorb inspiration. The space was safe, sacred and supportive. I hadn't planned on speaking about The Red Boa. I was open to a new and interesting experience. I went not knowing anyone. Yet I did find myself sharing during a circle time my intent to write a book called Life's Too Short Not to Wear a Red Boa. What I did already know is that there is great power in speaking things out loud to a group of people. Speaking your intentions in a public arena can set things in motion. I wrote more about the conference and shared photos which you can find here.

Since that conference I began writing even more. I created this blog to explore topics and share the types of stories that are to fill the pages of Life's Too Short Not to Wear a Red Boa. I also started planning a playshop for friends, a gathering where we would share, be creative, color and paint. I went and got a business license and named my business Red Boa Productions. I designed my own logo and created business cards. Everything fell into place smoothly and easily. It is this feeling of being in synch with something greater than myself that is very empowering and inspiring.

As a little girl I used to sit at my moms typewriter and compose stories. I have always dreamed of being a published writer. My vision has begun to grow and I find that anytime I am in a position to encourage others to believe in themselves and improve their self-esteem it brings me great joy. I hope to explore all the possibilities of playing that role more often in the lives of others.

I feel that I am walking, skipping and hopping along a path that is right for me. I don't know what is up ahead exactly. The Red Boa Playshop was fun and inspiring for me to present. Are there more of those in my future? Possibly yes. I enjoy gathering with women in circles. I believe that art is healing and therapeutic. I believe that women circles can be a safe, sacred and supportive place to share and be inspired.

If you want to receive your own personal email message from the Universe click here.
If you are interested in the heart pendant or to check out more of Becky Sharp's amazing jewelry designs click here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Breathe




Breathing Exercise ~

Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Breathe out. Take another deep breath. Breathe it all out. Again another deep breath. Breathe it all out.

Continue the deep breaths in and out. Slowly as you do this begin to feel that with each breath in you are drawing in wisdom, support, guidance, inner-knowing, serenity and love.

If you are holding onto any anxiety or fears at this time begin to feel that with each breathe out you are releasing your anxiety. You are releasing your fear. Let it go. Let the anxiety and fear drift away. See it become as light as a feather, float up and dissipate.

As you breathe out any anxiety and fear continue to breathe in all the support and love you need and deserve and remind yourself of the strong and powerful woman you are today – right now.

As you continue to breathe in and out I also invite you to conjure up an image of yourself as a little girl. Picture yourself if you can as you were at a favorite age. Think back to a time when you loved to play. Consider what made you happy as a child. Maybe it was riding your bike, running or building things. Perhaps you loved to read and make up your own stories. You might have loved to perform for others or just yourself and you sang or danced or played an instrument. You might have found joy in being a caretaker of animals or you found you loved to color and paint. Think back to what brought your spirit joy.

As you continue to breathe I ask you to remember and hold on to that image today. That little girl is still inside you. She is still very present. She hasn’t ever left you. And as you continue to breathe remember that she is still with you.

As you breathe I invite you to now return to the present you, the adult you. Breathe in and out and know that you are a strong and powerful woman now. You may not always feel powerful but you are. You are a strong and powerful woman. You are the creator of your life. Breathe in all the support and love you need and deserve and remind yourself of the strong and powerful woman you are today, right now.

Let us all take one last breath in and then release.