Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mojo Monday ~ Personal Mission Statement

Last night while neck deep in writing my latest Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine article I came across something that made me pause and note it down in my journal.  I had been visiting the web site of artist and author Kelly Rae Roberts.  I have been an admirer of her art for several years now and I adored her book called Taking Flight: Inspiration and Techniques to give your Creative Spirit Wings.  I have one of her prints hanging in the living room and I have given many items from her art collection as gifts.  The thing that made me stop and pause was her simple, yet very powerful Mission Statement that was tucked into the side panel of her web page:

"My mission is to create beautiful,
meaningful artwork that tells the truth."

I loved the focus, the honesty and the sheer simplicity of it.  I had an article to keep writing, but I knew I wanted to return to this topic and this idea of writing a Personal Mission Statement.  Now, this isn't a new idea.  In fact if you do a search on-line for that very topic you will find all sort of cool articles, blog posts and creative artistic renditions of these intimate statements of purpose.  

If someone was to ask YOU, "What is your personal missions statement?"  Would you even know where to begin or would you very matter-of-factly proclaim it, because you just happen to know your mission by heart?  

by Courtney Mellinger
If you are still contemplating yours, consider following these step-by-step guidelines by Courtney Mellinger on her web site called BlogGraphicDesignPortfolio.

  1. Create a list of words that describe you. These should be aspects of you that you’re proud of. They could relate to your personality, your relationships, your profession, your religion, etc. The great thing is, it’s all about you so you can focus on anything you want.
  2. Use these words to craft a sentence (or two) that describes your mission in life. It should be a statement that is specific to you yet can be applied to any area or facet of your life.
  3. Type it on your phone, write it down and put it on your desk or screen background or somewhere where you will see it everyday. (Mine is on a note in my phone and a post-it note on my computer.) Having this daily reminder of your overarching goal in life will help you focus more on what really matters to you and less on the trivial things you face.
  4. When you’re faced with a difficult decision or a tough situation, refer back to this statement. If the result doesn’t align with your mission, it might not be the best use of your time and efforts. I’m not saying that every single thing you do from this point forward should revolve around your mission, but it can be a great tool to use down the road.
Go explore other personal mission statements, and consider looking at those of some businesses too.  The foster adoption agency where I have worked for over 9 years has this as the mission statement:  "To ensure a child's opportunity for permanence in a safe and nurturing family."  In addition they have selected a core set of values by which the agency is guided and these are: Vision, Integrity, Partnership, Excellence and Leadership.  Perhaps an outline of your own personal values will also assist you in formulating your mission statement.

Consider then the Mission of Cosmic Cowgirls:

Our Belief is that each of us has a Vision with a calling and a purpose to fulfill and we believe that, through collaboration with other women, manifestation of that Vision becomes more possible.

Our Structure is comprised of a revolutionary membership-based publishing media house owned by girls and women worldwide, headquartered in the United States. 

Our Purpose is to empower one another to live legendary lives.

Our Mission is to establish Cosmic Cowgirls as a powerful community and marketplace where women's creative offerings equal livelihood, abundance, and recognition.

Our Focus is the gathering of women’s collective wisdom to be shared through the collaborative creation of products such as: art, cards, music, DVDs, film, coloring books, journals, workbooks and workshops designed to inspire, inform, and illuminate the journey of a woman’s life.

Our Intention as a collective of visionary women and girls, is to publish media that will bring education, creativity, and our sacred wisdom to those in need of information, healing, and transformation.

More recently we have seen the birth of The Red Thread Nation, whose mission is to Nurture the Soul through Art and Education.  Here are several more examples for you to peruse:

By Donna Miller on Creative Musings

Lastly check out this energetic and creative video slideshow one young teen put together for her personal mission statement.

After some thought have you come up with your own personal mission statement?

Will you share it here?

Now how about taking it and turning it into an art project, maybe a paper altar, or perhaps you can capture it in a photo, or even a video?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Signs of Spring

"Spring is nature's way of saying 'Let's Party!'"
Robin Williams


Crab apple blossoms

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mojo Monday ~ Reveal the Secret

This past weekend was the annual Cosmic Cowgirl Member conference.  What a journey they are each and every single time.  Have you ever longed to be with people who really see you?  Who really hear you?  Who really believe in you?  Who respect you and want to know, really know about your purpose and your vision?  Those of us who have found our way to this tribe of women get to experience those very things while in their presence.  Even when we aren't gathered in real time and real space, we gather and connect via other various ways of communicating and interacting such as Ning sites, Facebook, email, texts and conference calls.  We take classes or teach classes together.  We paint, write, sing, dance, act and share our creative projects with one another.  

I have been a member of the Cosmic Cowgirl Tribe since 2008.  We are all also members of the Red Thread Nation.  The Red Thread Nation is a global tribe of creatives and the purpose behind it is to nurture the soul through art and education.  Each time I attend a gathering, be it the member conference, a workshop or a class, it rejuvenates my soul, inspires me and reminds me of those things I want to accomplish, the things I want to do to make a positive difference in this world and it helps me to re-energize the soul connections I have with the people in my life.  

This year's conference held the theme of "Born This Way."  We shared a Red Thread Ceremony the first night and began off with a meditative visualization about the theme.  We shared what came to us as we considered the answer to the question - "I was born to...."  We shared what came to us that first night in our circle.  

Our main creative project on Saturday was to create a paper altar.  It included painting, drawing, writing sentences or even whole letters from and to our younger selves, and then more writing from and to our present and future selves.  We created images of our younger selves and then had a playful photo shoot to capture the image of our legendary selves.

Some of us discovered that our initial I was born to... statement evolved during the weekend.  For others the message stayed true and strong from the beginning.  Mine began as "I was born to see the beauty in everything and reflect the beauty in everything and everyone to others."  During a fun verbal exercise of trying out new ideas I came up with many, including I was born to love, I was born to inspire others with my writing, I was born to wear a red boa, I was born to see the Wow and I was born to connect.  

On Sunday we heard from Shiloh Sophia McCloud, the mastermind behind Cosmic Cowgirls and The Red Thread Nation, about her recent trip to speak at the United Nations in New York City.   You can read more about her experience by visiting this link: My Journey East - Notes from the United Nations

The remaining portion of our Sunday gathering was focused around the stunning and emotion filled ceremony led by Carmen Baraka (aka Spirit Warrior.)   Carmen led us on a spiritual journey involving drumming, chanting she learned from her Apache grandmother and storytelling.  We were each encouraged to look within, to listen to the inner messages of our hearts and guts, to stand tall as warrior women, and to remember our connections to one another always and to turn to our tribe for strength.  We all know that the red thread that connects us is not just symbolic, it is very real indeed, and we need only tug on it to remind ourselves that our sisters are there for us always.  

At the end of our ceremony we each received a key.  The selected them with our eyes closed and allowed spirit to choose for us.  I learned of the words most women selected later.  My own key took me by surprise.  The word was "Secret."  I sat with it for a few moments, before a very profound WOW floored me.  My mind traveled back to a poem I wrote about my Legendary self during the Leading a Legendary Life course I took two years ago through Cosmic Cowgirls University.  

Empa is passionate about Love and Art
Her heart beats to inspire others to love themselves,
and she knows that there is a not-so-secret path
one can take to that very destination. 
It is through being a guest in one’s own heart.
It is by creating, painting, writing, dancing, singing, sewing,
and offering prayers that are but a universal song in the heavens.
Empa does not accept a narrow definition of beauty.
She knows that beauty is in the eye of the beholder
and that it ranges far and wide, is varied and eclectic
and is not for one person or one culture to define.

On Saturday the words I finally chose to write on my own altar were I was born to connect. However that key I received during our ceremony led me to share about the significance of it with the other women.  I began by sharing how the word secret, in an earlier time in my life, could have had a more negative connotation about secrets and things that aren't supposed to be talked about.  However, in a testimony to the healing work that Cosmic Cowgirls serves up, the word secret instead let me right back to my Legendary story.  I read the brief passage above in the closing circle and shared that that I was born to reveal the secret, as are all Cosmic Cowgirls who are going out into the world to teach and share about the healing and nurturing properties of art and education for the soul.

Come play along and take a couple of minutes to consider how you would answer the statement I was born to...

If you would also like to select a virtual key just as we did during our closing ceremony, just say the word and I will meditate on you for a minute and then pick you a key and respond with which one you selected.  

With love ~ Michelle (aka Red) 

Key for Cynthia:

Friday, March 8, 2013

March 8th ~ International Women's Day

A modern progressive world needs equality.

From China to Costa Rica, from Mali to Malaysia acclaimed singers and musicians, women and men, have come together to spread a message of unity and solidarity: We are "One Woman".
Launching on International Women's Day, 8 March 2013, the song is a rallying cry that inspires listeners to join the drive for women's rights and gender equality. "One Woman" was written for UN Women, the global champion for women and girls worldwide, to celebrate its mission and work to improve women's lives around the world.
This year, International Women’s Day focuses on ending violence against women — a gross human rights violation that affects up to 7 in 10 women and a top priority for UN Women. As commemorations are underway in all corners of the globe, "One Woman" reminds us that together, we can overcome violence and discrimination: "We Shall Shine!" Join us to help spread the word and enjoy this musical celebration of women worldwide.
Here is the a video of the song One Woman

History of International Women's Day 

The first International Women’s Day events were run in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland in 1911 and attended by over one million people. 100 years on, International Women’s Day (IWD) has become a global mainstream phenomena celebrated across many countries and is an official holiday in approximately 25 countries including Afghanistan, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zambia.

International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future. However, activity has not always been on the increase. Australian entrepreneur and women’s campaigner Glenda Stone, who founded the website, a global hub of events and information, said:

“A decade ago International Women’s Day was disappearing. Activity in Europe, where International Women’s Day actually began, was very low. Providing a global online platform helped sustain and accelerate momentum for this important day. Holding only a handful of events ten years ago, the United Kingdom has now become the global leader for International Women’s Day activity, followed sharply by Canada, United States and Australia. 2011 will see thousands of events globally for the first time.”

More recently, social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have also helped fuel International Women’s Day activity. Generally the day has moved away from its socialist Suffragette beginnings to become more mainstream in celebrating women’s achievements. Annually thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities, networking events, local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

Special Notes About International Women’s Day
• International Women's Day (March 8th) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

• In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women's Day is a national holiday.

• The first IWD was observed on March 19, 1911 in Germany following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. The idea of having an international women's day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions.

How will you celebrate International Women's Day?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mojo Monday ~ Bread and Roses

“Bread & Roses holds a special place in our hearts.  We keep on giving because no one can argue with the power music has to open hearts and comfort minds.”
~ Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan

I was steeped in an eclectic blend of music growing up as a child.  The beginning influences came from my parents and my older siblings.  My parents love music and in their younger days my dad saw Elvis in concert and my mom loved listening to the likes of Sarah Vaughn.  My parents are in their 70's now, but their calendar is still full of concerts they will be attending.

My parents started taking me to concerts when I was just a kid too.  I tagged along to various jazz festivals and blues concerts.  My older brothers exposed me to the music of  the Jackson 5, Bay City Rollers, and later hard rocking bands like Led Zeppelin and AC/DC.  One of my older sisters was listening to more to artists like Barry Manilow, the Bee Gees and other pop wonders. Between them all I was exposed to rock, folk, disco, country, blues, soul, jazz and the list goes on. 

Music became a soundtrack to my life.  If my 10 year old self was feeling sad I knew just the 45 to play with a song called Bluer Than Blue by artist Michael Johnson.  If I was in a rollerskating mood then Michael Jackson's Off The Wall was my first choice.  I toyed around on the family piano as a child and then took guitar lessons for a couple of years.  I returned to the guitar as a teen, but my ability as a musician seemed quite limited.  I was okay with it though. I had my record player and later 8 track and cassettes to fulfill my music needs.

One particular series of concerts my parents took me to as a child were called the Bread & Roses Festivals of Music.  These concerts in particular had a big musical impact on me.  One we attended took place in October 1980 at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California.  I was only 11 years old.  We would put out our blankets and sit on the wide concrete steps. You can see from the program image below that the line up of artists was incredible.  

Another year we also saw Joan Baez, Paul Simon, Graham Nash, the Smothers Brothers and Peter, Paul and Mary perform.  That year we were also entertained by the MC talents of manic comedian Robin Williams.  

The story about how Bread and Roses came into being is very inspirational. It begins with a vision of a woman name Mimi Farina, sister to Joan Baez. Here is the excerpt from the web site for Bread & Roses.

"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  Farina & sister Joan Baez
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.  Her vision lives on in the form of Bread & Roses today.  

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.

Here are a couple more quotes from artists who serve as volunteer performers for Bread & Roses.  

"I became a Bread & Roses volunteer performer and donor a long time ago.  I am still supporting Bread & Roses because it meets a basic human need-the need for hope in hard times.” ~ Pete Seeger

“My commitment to serving humanity inspires me to support Bread & Roses.” ~ Carlos Santana

Come learn more about Bread & Roses and their dedication to uplifting the human spirit by providing free, live, quality shows to people who live in institutions or are otherwise isolated from society, by visiting their web site:

What is your relationship with music?  

Has music played a significant role in your life?

Are there certain songs that have been part of the soundtrack of your life?

Any favorite songs you'd like to share with us?

Had you heard of Bread & Roses before?  What do you think of this program?

If you are feeling sad right now come listen to my childhood "sad" song called Bluer Than Blue -- I have to say finding this video brought back memories but also made me laugh a bit and also feel extra tender for my precocious childhood self.