Creativity Plus Transformation

 

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Thoughts of  combining Creativity with Transformation began with reading about Craftivism = craft + activism. This concept has many valuable expressions, but I want to focus on how the use of our creativity and imagination allow us to transform our own lives and the reality of our world. My calling is to open to the flow of creativity from the Sacred Source, which can then move through my life to bring healing and transformation to me and others. This is a calling that we all can share.

Making things by hand is an act of co-Creating with the Energy that forms the Universe and fashions the diversity we experience on Mother Earth. In choosing the materials we use, the patterns or recipes we follow, and the way in which we form the images that we want to manifest in the world, we open ourselves to the creative flow. We experience the joy of being one through whom something beautiful as well as useful can emerge.

I know wonderful cooks who blend colors, tastes, textures and aromas to make a meal that nourishes both body and soul. I know bakers who use healthful ingredients to make luscious desserts and breads, pastries and creamy concoctions that are a treat for both the adult and for the child within who loves goodies. I know knitters and weavers who select only the highest quality fibers in the richest hues and textures to make garments that mirror the wonder of nature as expressed in sunrise or desert scape; forest glade or cloudy day. I know seamstresses who choose fabrics and patterns that elevate homemade clothing to an expression of the unique qualities and characteristics of the person they create clothing for.

There are painters, sculptors, wordsmiths, glass workers, those who draw with pencil and crayon, and those who form out of wood or stone. The list of creative expressions is limitless. We have only to begin playing with any of them to open to what our specific gift may be.

The aspect of transformation comes as we allow the creativity to flow through us and bring us freedom, joy, playfulness, and an honoring of all we love. We add time, energy and love and allow the Sacred Source to bring the form that will add richness and enlivened beauty to the world. Transformation is first for us, and then through us for a new reality in the world.

Creativity helps us to envision a very different reality than the one offered by any mainline culture. Imagination forms ideas and images of the harmonious, interconnected, creation-honoring Web of Life of which we are all luminous strands. The elements we use are of the Earth, as we are of the Earth.  Everything is earth, water, air, fire and spirit. Our hands and minds and hearts work with the desire to bring life, light and love to this creation we share. And we and the world are transformed by the act.

In the weeks ahead, I will be sharing some guest blogs by people who are bringing creativity and transformation together in their own ways. I will establish a separate page on this site so that this important strand can be an ongoing exploration.  I hope you will feel free to add your contributions through the comments, or contact me if you would like to submit a guest post to add to the abundance of this journey.

May our lives open to the flow of creativity which is unique and valuable within each of us. In this way we create and celebrate the wholeness and wonder of the world we share.

(Photo by Hector j. Riva)

Learning from Stone

img_1633Hiking in the canyons of the Huachuca Mountains I find that my connection is less with the ancient people of this land, and more with the land itself. The desert, in this place and season, offers rich diversity under a broad sky, with mountains creating a ripple along the far horizons.

On my hike the other day, it was the “stone relatives,” that captured my attention. In the canyon areas there are a few massive rock outcroppings, more large clusters of boulders and endless small rocks in stream beds and along pathways. At any scale, what they show is a gathering of a wide range of hue, texture, mineral content, shape and degree of luster all tumbled together. Some carry striations within, while others are solidly green or red or curry-colored. All mixed together, resting on one another .

Finding balance in my life these past few weeks has been difficult and so I asked for a message from Stone. The response I received was, “It takes a long time to become stone, and it takes a long time for a stone to break down.” Integrating the various elements of my life can not be hurried. I am in the process of drawing together the basic materials of my life experiences, and seeing what new form my gift to the web of life may take. This is not something that can occur overnight.

The other message from Stone: “See the beauty of the diversity of the gathering of all of these elements.” Each stone reflects its own unique way of drawing from earth, wind, water and fire to form an enduring expression of the riches of nature. This invites a trust in each of us on our Earth walk. Each one of us is a wondrous expression of the combining of the elements of the earth and the glory of light and spirit. Together, we provide mutual support as well as create a beauty and power in our combined forms that is not be available to any one individual.

Stone is also the stable and enduring aspect of the changing landscape. Its being draws in the heat of the sun in the daytime and releases it as warmth in the cold desert nights.In its shade, plants grow and animals find shelter. Around its form, water flows and splashes and tumbles on its way.

As I seek to integrate the various areas of my life, it will be the stable core of my dedication to the healing of Mother Earth and all Her children that will be the basis for everything else. I begin as a child of the Earth enlivened with the light of the Source of All That Is. I can be patient and allow the rest to take solid form in its own time.

 

Dedication of My Life

I wrote and began living these vows in November. Throughout the preparations for our move and transition to Arizona they were in the foreground. Over the past few weeks they have been obscured by learning new things and building new connections. I am therefore especially grateful for the turning of the year as a time to remember and reintegrate them into my breathing, my waking, my dreaming and my living.

I ask those of you who read them now to be my witnesses – those who hold me and my intention in love and light.

DEDICATING MY LIFE IN DEVOTION TO THE WHOLENESS OF                                      THE EARTH AND ALL HER CHILDREN

I dedicate my life – devoting my body, emotions, spirit, mind and soul to the healing and nurture of the Earth and all Her children in all expressions of life.

I will seek to clear any thing, thought, habit, issue, or memory which diverts my attention from this devotion.

I will seek the guidance of the helping spiritual ancestors in their many expressions, through ritual, ceremony and honoring of the Earth. I will place my trust in the wisdom and insights they provide, resting in a perspective that is higher and broader than my own.

I will do those actions, nurture those images and follow those works of disciplined mind that enhance my ability to live my life as a being of light, sheathed in a human, Earth-walk form. In doing this I honor the sacred core within every living being and expression of divine creativity.

I will serve with my physical time and energy where and how I am led by this deepest truth, not assuming need or lack, but adding my gift to the renewal of the Web of Life and the reflection of the Sacred in All that Is.

I will seek this deep wisdom for my decisions about my travels, priorities, standard and way of living my daily life, my writing, speaking and listening.

I will honor the inner call I feel to be a hollow bone – to be one through whom the Light and Love of the Sacred flow freely and without hindrance of ego and self-interest to the best of my ability in each moment.

I will keep the questions of “How can I live and What can I give of my deepest heart for the healing of the Earth today?” as my daily companions and supports of my devotion.

I will place living this life and walking this path at the center of my life, allowing them to be the pivotal expression of my Earth Walk.

I am answering a calling I received at latest in my youth, and possibly in many earlier lifetimes of seeking to be of service to this world. I say YES to expressing myself as a blending together of the elements of this beautiful planet, enlivened by the Light of All that Is – A Daughter of the Light and a Child of the Earth.

In my living, and one day in my dying, I will honor who I am called to be within the Web of Life.

The Heart of the Matter is Trust

My mind has been so busy this past couple of weeks, that words have not wanted to take any coherent shape. It is not that my mind has been wandering in fearful or troubling pathways. It is more being in “figuring things out mind.”IMG_4119
There are thoughts of family and the delight of spending time with them. There are thoughts of how to find our next home and what to do as we wait for it to be ready for us. There are logistics questions and financial questions and questions of where and when to hike. The common thread has been that I reach the end of the day nicely tired and yet slightly disconnected from my core – my heart – my trust in life.

Trust is the central force of this new life. It was trust in the deeper wisdom within my being that led me to shamanic practice and the journeying work that was the birthing spark of this new life. It was trust that led to connection with the animal guides and helping spiritual ancestors of that practice that opened one step and then the next of the preparation work for the move. It has been trust in the signs, omens, and whispers of my deepest heart that has led us to this place.

You would think that it would be the most natural and effortless thing to maintain the practice of trust as we experience repeated blessing and grace. Yet my mind has held me away from much of it and the general activity of the holiday season has distracted my attention.

Today, I wake in gratitude for the natural world: Earth in her natural desert beauty; Water in her forms of river and clean water to drink; Air in the flow of my breath and the fresh air as I step out to greet the pre-dawn sky; Fire in the warmth of my coffee and the wonderful flow of heat from the trailer’s furnace; and Soul in my true connection at the core of my being with All that Is.

I call to mind the books and recorded classes that I have to support me in deepening my practice. I see the small altar set up in our borrowed trailer and remember my drum resting in a box under the bed. I know that in a few minutes a new cold morning will dawn and reveal the wonders of this day. In an hour or so there will be the sound of family voices and toddler laughter.

In all of this my trust is renewed and my thinking mind quieted. I am not alone and my life is not about figuring things out. The unseen Web of Life shimmers in my awareness and reminds me that my life is a tiny strand in an infinite dance of connection, Life, Light and Love.

Wow! What a difference trust can make.

No New Normal

It has been Less than two weeks since we left out friend’s home in Chico and headed south to Arizona and our son’s family home. We arrived here a week ago, moving into a borrowed trailer that a neighbor generously offered to park in John and Michelle’s driveway. We were greeted with an easy household flow and the liveliness of two 40-somethings, a 17-year-old, a 20-month-old toddler, two old dogs and a puppy.

What has not yet emerged is a “new normal.” Every day has a different rhythm. One part problem solving to get the borrowed trailer comfortable and organized; another part introducing ourselves to the desert with its sunrises, stars, walking trails and rain showers. Yet another part taking care of immediate details for our emerging life; two parts enjoying family and for me three parts playing, dancing and reading with my granddaughter. Underneath it all is the beauty of the desert that opens my heart to this expression of Earth.

We are busy, and happily tired when we go to bed at night.  There is, however, a sense of living in two worlds and struggling at times to hold the clarity of the life that has called us out into this journey. As the days pass, I am beginning to integrate the two, rather than seeing them as separate experiences that bounce me back and forth. Weaving the threads of family, learning, self-care, exploring, celebrating, solitude and writing into an unknown design. Perhaps that is the life of these next years.

My practice of greeting the new morning with thanks for earth, water, air, fire and spirit holds me in connection with the natural world. We have taken time to drum and done deep listening as we hike the nearby trails. Mainly, we request signs and symbols that give us assurance of being part of “The Tribe” and affirm the steps we are taking. In response we have seen rainbows, shooting stars and the reoccurring symbol of a horse (an image we associate with our home on wheels.) In the early days, I was finding quarters in odd places as we packed and unpacked our bags.

The time with family is equally sacred. We have had at most a few days a year with John and his family over the past couple of decades. Now, we are becoming visible to one another as we share their home and flow into their schedule. There is time for casual conversation, shared laughter, meals created and enjoyed, and just hanging out watching football or a movie.

This may not be a new and predictable normal. But we sure are having fun.

In Physical Training for a New Life

There are many days when I feel that my most important task is to be in training for the new life that we are creating. As we piece together what it means to live in balance, harmony and honor with the Earth, the first phase for me is physical training.

It began with the lengthening of walks and the addition of longer hikes into our lives. In June, a 45 minute walk on fairly level terrain was the “big walk” done at most 2 -3 times a week. Once completed, there was the feeling that all of the physical energy for the day had been consumed. Lunch, followed by nap, followed by watching movies on DVD was the norm.

The turning point was meeting Flora and the Strolling Bears (a group of senior adult amblers). They are avid hikers who hike  4 – 6+ miles, once a week, on a wide variety of trails; including some very steep and challenging climbs. They walk at a a slow pace, and invite each participant to listen to their body – rest, turn for home, or keep going depending on the energy of the day. They will not leave anyone behind who is lagging, but pause at each change in the trail to let everyone catch up, rest and be assured that they know the way.

You will see on the Favorite Hikes page, that it is not unusual for us to spend 3 -4 hours walking around Lake Siskiyou; climbing from Bunny Flat to Horse Camp, or taking the McBride Trail from Gateway to the campground. When we are with the Strolling Bears, we visit with people who love nature; tell us the names of flowers and birds; and share their joy in living simply and hiking often.

Our “shorter routes” at Gateway (about 1 1/2 – 2 hours), are what we now think of as  “strolls” or everyday walks. Through the summer and into the autumn we have tried take these strolls several times a week.

When we are on our own, Will, ( my husband), takes a good leading start, so we can each spend time in communion with the healing spirit of The Mountain and our spiritual ancestors and guides in this journey back to unity with the land. There are occasional insights and new perspectives that emerge as we walk. More often it is simply sinking into the beauty and harmony of nature: sky, breeze, trees and brush, rocks and hillsides, and a variety of animal and bird companions. If nothing else is emerging, we each sing a song that is our reminder to open up to the path ahead.

The July – September part of my path was building my stamina, leg strength and physical confidence. The altitude and steep last half mile of the climb to Horse Camp still leaves my heart pounding and calls for “breathers.” Now, after three visits, I feel comfortable negotiating the downhill rocky stretches as well as the uphill push. A few weeks ago we made the whole 6.8 mile circle around Lake Siskiyou for the first time.

The growing confidence in my body translates to being more at ease in nature. I can relax and experiment. My view broadens to include more tree-tops and sky views – including a golden eagle that circled over the Gateway path the other morning. There is a stretch of the Horse Camp trail that I did barefoot last month, enjoying the sensation as the temperature of the sand shifted from cold in the shade to warm in the sunshine.

It all seems connected with not needing to be coddled and protected from the challenges of life. When I move in nature in this sense of freedom and strength, I know that I no longer want to be insulated from this wonderful planet. While the weather is beginning to shift, there is still time for a few more hikes up high on the mountain before the snow. Then, it may be time to borrow snow shoes and give that a try.

Transformation Built for Two

Throughout our nearly 30-year marriage, my husband and I have been blessed with a deep connection that allows us to make life shifts and changes in unison. Whenever we have made a physical move, or shifted to a new focus on our spiritual journey, there was not a sense of one leading and the other “coming along.” Instead, it is as though we both become aware of a shift at about the same time. Often if feels like we have already turned the corner to a new way of being and then notice the shift.

It is the same with this transition. It a transformation built for two, on every level of our lives. We don’t remember which of us first voiced the desire to live in harmony with the land and to connect with the ancient wisdom of the People of the Land.

I know that Bill has spoken often of his desire to live with the simplicity of a mountain hermit. Images from the Taoist tradition lead him to want to follow Lao Tzu and get on an ox and head out of the culture and into the mountains. Another image from him is that of living as a turtle who carries its home on its back.

I have been drawn more and more to images of living in the way indigenous people have lived for centuries – in intimate harmony, balance and honor with the land and all living beings. I long to sink into relationship with the life expressed in nature and learn the wisdom it alone can share.

A couple of factors came together to set us on this course of changing our housing as part of living in a new way. One was that we shared in an on-line course with Sandra Ingerman on Shamanic Journey. I have been involved with this work for a couple of years, but this was the first time Bill joined in and found that he too was drawn to drumming and journey. So, we came into step with one another in a new expression of our spiritual journey.

Another factor was that I let go of bookbinding as an essential element of my future. Every time I began to think of living in a tiny house or RV, I just couldn’t imagine the presses, cutters, supplies and tools of my craft work. The moment came when I realized that this is not something at the core of who I am. It is fulfilling, and indeed probably saved my sanity at an earlier point in my life, but it became clear that it does not have to come on the road with us.

Our drumming and journeying is sometime together as ceremony, and sometime separate. Again, much of what we experience is just for the one making the inner journey, but sometimes the wisdom encourages and focuses both of us.

We have been sharing hikes, but usually allow a good bit of distance between us. Bill’s longer stride carries him out ahead of me, and we are each left to sing; open to the beauty of nature around us; and to spend time in deep listening to the wisdom of our helping spirits and guides. Afterward we share insights that emerge. Sometimes there is a phrase that will emerge that gives us a touchstone – so we remind one another of it from time to time.

Our current catch phrase dropped in as I was waking up one morning into the usual mental chatter of all of the challenges and details that lie between where we are and where we hope to be next summer. It was a vivid image from “The Two Towers.” Gollum is leading Sam and Frodo through the Dead Marshes and has warned them not to “follow the lights” that shine up from the marsh. If they do, they will be drawn down into the depths and light little candles of their own. It is not long before Frodo becomes mesmerized by a presence in the marsh and falls face first into the marsh. Gollum pulls him out and lays him on solid ground, but while he is still holding him by the lapels, he says, “DON”T FOLLOW THE LIGHTS.”  So, whenever one of us gets caught by the conditioned morass of things that have to be done, the other gently reminds him/her, “Don’t Follow the Lights.”

I am deeply grateful that my primary companion in this transformation is my beloved husband. There are others who help keep our feet on the path, but this is indeed a transformation built for two.

Birthday Hike

I had known for months that this year, for my 60th birthday, I wanted to make a pilgrimage hike to Panther Meadows, high on the slopes of Mount Shasta. We live near this amazing mountain and I have visited Panther Meadows many times. I always feel the sacred nature of the alpine wilderness. It has been a place for shamans and healers of the people of these lands for generations – a place where they hold ceremonies and gather plants for the healing of the Earth and the people of these lands.

A couple of weeks before my birthday, we spotted a notice about Dog Trail from Bunny Flat up to the Old Ski Bowl parking area. It is an alternate trail, marked only by pink ribbons tied to the trees. As soon as I saw it, I know that would be my birthday hike.

Early in my hike I greeted all of the spirits of this powerful mountain and the life of these slopes. I soon felt more open to the feel of the air currents on my face and the song of the birds in surrounding trees.

I felt that I was walking in the midst of the ancient people of this place, not as phantoms, but as helping spiritual guides. I was encouraged to return to the power within my belly – the energy of life rises from the core in the belly, igniting the fire of the heart, and creates a balanced dance between heart and mind. This all emerges as wholeness in physical form.

This unknown trail (from 6,950 ft to above 7,800 ft in 2.5 miles) had some very steep climbs that left me winded and feeling the challenge in my muscles. I began to see that this pilgrimage was about the physical more than the spiritual. It was a call to set aside all of the limiting images of being a premature baby; sickly uncoordinated child; not capable of much physical activity or endurance. It was an introduction into becoming a “Tough old bird” – a woman comfortable in nature and capable of a difficult climb.

It took me 2.5 hours to climb that 2.5 miles. I paused several times to rest and eat some snacks and drink water. On one of those stops I began laughing as how much I was beginning to feel like “The Woman on the Mountain.” I continued the next 1/4 mile down into Panther Meadow and enjoyed my lunch while being held in the arms of my favorite sacred tree.

I considered the 3 mile walk back down the roadway to my car, but knew that I had fulfilled all I needed for the day. Gratefully, I accepted a ride from a National Forest Volunteer back to my car. He was the one who spoke to me of 60 being the age when one becomes free.

That was two months age. Little did I know all of the freedom that was beginning to break into my life.

A Gift From Skunk

We live in a hillside house, with the forest reaching up just beyond our small back yard. In the early mornings, we enjoy taking our coffee out to sit in the yard and watch the birds and small critters bring the hillside to life.

Last week, we were enjoying our coffee (and celebrating that there was no smoke in the area from nearby fires) when a different odor drifted in. It smelled a bit like when you walk along a trail recently visited by a bear or a content skunk, but it also struck us as a little like propane. Of course, once that idea occurred, the smell seemed to come from the far end of the yard, and be growing. Since we had just had the propane tank filled at the end of the previous week, the idea that something might be wrong with the tank soon took full hold.

We called the propane company, and they said that to be safe it was time to get out of the house and let them come and check the tank. So, in the spirit of bugging out, we got dressed, grabbed a few things and headed into town. Within the hour, they had called back with the news that there was no leak and that the tank was fine. But, they also decided to change it out just in case, since it was looking old and worn.

That afternoon, Bill was talking with a neighbor and the man commented on the skunk that had wandered through that morning. Now if it had smelled obviously like a skunk spraying or like a dead creature along the road, we would have recognized it. Since we didn’t, we wondered what, beyond one more bug-out practice, the skunk was offering.

The next day, they traded out the newly filled 600 gallon tank for a new 250 gallon tank. (This works fine for us, since the hot water heater is our only propane use.) They have not figured out our revised bill yet, but it is likely that instead of owing the propane company about $750 for topping the old tank for the winter, we will probably have some credit waiting on the account when they fill the new tank in the spring.

I can easily become preoccupied with the financial and practical challenges of making the move to our more simple and earth-connected way of living. I am grateful to Skunk for the reminder that there are many unexpected possibilities that may emerge to smooth the way. Even as we work with the details, I want to stay focused on honoring the Earth and being dedicated to helping Her and all Her children to heal and thrive.

(Skunk’s other gift is the reminder that things are not always as they appear.)

 

Woman on the Mountain

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I don’t think that I could make this shift of lifestyle without the inspiration of the image of The Woman on the Mountain. She is in some ways my future self who is living the fulfillment of my life’s dreams. In other ways she is the archetype of the woman who is fully at ease in the natural world and living her days in harmony with Mother Earth and all Her children.

I first met her through my shamanic journey work. I set the intention of meeting my future self who is living the most alive, fulfilled, peaceful and joyful life possible. As I let the drumming carry me, I found her sitting on a high mountain slope, resting in the midst of a morning walk. She had a huge smile on her face and radiated joy, love and contentment.

From my journal:  “She shared with me that she is not afraid of anything; especially nothing in nature. She knows every plant and their medicinal properties — every creature is a companion. She knows the trees so well that she could probably draw her nourishment right from the soil, as they do. And the Mountain and all the spirits of the Mountain love her and welcome her.

Since she journeys effortlessly, it does not matter what chair she might be sitting in or what bed she may be laying on. The room around her does not matter because she is most often in Panther Meadow with the healing ancient ones.”

Walking in nature and growing comfortable with my physical strength is part of the path from who I am to who she is. Seeing all beings as light enfolded in a sheath of earth, water, air and the flame of life, is another.

When I grow uncertain of how I will make the shift from recliner chair in a 3 bedroom house in the woods, to a folding chair outside an RV, I think of her. In spirit, she will be my guide.