Pondering on Four Big Questions; And A Showcase of Four Amazing Friends

 A dear writer-thinker-lady-friend kindly invited me to join in a blog hop and to ponder a few questions in where I am at in my journey of writing, creating, breathing and just being human. Well, of course, without a hesitation, I said yes ~ not to promote myself, but to make myself create some space to actually reflect on where I am right now, and where I might be headed. AND, I wanted to have the chance to shout out to the world some of the most amazing friends I’ve made out there in the writing, creating, heart and soul seeking world.

Jeff Goins, a writing teacher I’ve learned so much from, writes that “content is not king ~ it’s all about relationships.”  Well, we know we need to have something worth saying for someone to spend time reading it, BUT, if we don’t have others to share with, it’s only helping ourselves.

 So, here are the Four Big Questions ~

 1.  What am I working on?

 I love how Laura Risser Moss, in her blog, gratefulamazement,  writes that at this time in her life “the curtain on her Second Act is rising”.  I could not find more perfect words to say this is where I am as well.  My children are emptying the nest.  I’m having more time to discover who I really am – other than, wife, mother and teacher of children.

 I’m learning to listen to my body, heart and soul more, as my mind is being ordered to take more time to sit on the bench, or riding the pine, as my husband used to say during basketball season. It’s pretty hard to quiet a voice that’s been leading the parade for so many years, but my heart and soul are pretty pleased.

I’m in my bliss when I’m writing, teaching, creating, learning, helping or guiding others in finding their own true self, but also in helping others to speak and to trust their own voices.  I am working on a hodge-podge of projects right now to live out this bliss.

My bravest step begins August 1st, as a 28-Day Living the Writerly Life E-course.  I began writing this several years ago when I took an online course, called Flying Lessons, by Kelly Rae Roberts, but fear kept showing her scary face and I’d tuck it away.  Well, one day, when the scary monster was out barking at someone else, I hit publish and out to the world the course flew!  There was no turning back.  I can not contain the excitement I have bubbling up inside me to begin this journey guiding others in living like a writer and into hopefully believing that they truly are writers as well.

 In 2012, I vowed to listen to my soul and instill more creativity in my life.  Jeff Goins, was offering a free writing e-course at the time called, You Are A Writer, and this course became the door I entered that opened up an entire world of possibility.  I began two blogs, islandsofmysoul.com and theliteratemind.blogspot, joined a few writing groups, one called Tribe Writers,  and am now working on a book about listening in education.  It’s a timely book due to the increasing use of technology and lack of face to face communication.  This book was born two years ago, so I need to do a giddy-up on it before something more attractive diverts my attention.  It usually does.

I also have two other E-courses marinating in my brain right now as well.  One revolving around writing through our brokenness and the other, a course designed to heal ourselves while taking a journey through our mind, body, heart and soul.  I’m hoping to invite some other fabulous women into this e-course.  These courses came to me during my own writing and through a need.  Our world is going through a huge shift right now.  I’m feeling so much pain and brokenness “collectively”, as my friend Bridgette says, and my soul is crying to help do some healing in any way I can.  Perhaps this healing will take place through writing.

Julie Cameron writes that we need other creative sources besides writing, so that when writing feels stagnant, we can switch gears to another medium and that restocks the writing well.  Art journaling is this other passion.  While painting and using mixed media, messages of encouragement, inspiration and guidance fill my pages.  To keep my art journal girl happy, I participate in the Life Book 2014 online community of art journalists.  Each week is filled with a new lesson by an amazing artist and energetically filled connectedness with others.  Almost by magic, my art journal images often fit perfectly with my blog post writing.  Funny how that works.

 More recently, I’ve been nudged towards making Spirit Dolls. These are dolls created by a its maker to hold energy or an intention, lead one to a dream or to guide one in their path.

I’m not sure where these creative parts of my being will lead me, but for now, I’m just feeling the flow and enjoying the journey.

In August, I go back to my full-time job of being a literacy coach at a K-5 elementary school, so I fear writing and creating will slow down.  I am vowing not to let that happen this year as my artist self begs me to integrate creativity into my work wherever it’s possible.  Working with teachers and children, there’s plenty of room for this if I just pay attention.

2.  How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

 Well, I’m not 100% positive as to what my “genre” is yet.

What I do know, is that my writing flows from my heart and soul.  It’s not always me putting those words on the page.  It might be poetry one day.  Another day, it could be a short narrative or reflective essay.  I’m still searching for my voice and theme, yet, I like to believe my words are healing and filled with an energy that radiates light, love, and hope.  Sharing my vulnerabilities and my own brokenness has connected me to others that feel pain, too.  If I can help others, even if only a few, to heal through the use of tools that have worked for me, then I am grateful.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write what I do in order to live.  If I neglect writing, the rest of my life begins to get muddy. Foggy. Unclear.  Depression seeps in.  Writing gives me clarity and direction.  It clears the cobwebs and allows my soul to speak.

Most of my writing remains in notebooks.  I am faithful to Morning Pages each and every day – at least a full 3 pages of whatever comes out of my flowing pen.  Sometimes, words from these notebooks find their way into my blogs, but often, they remain in my notebook as answers to my wonders or lessons learned.

I write what I do on my blogs as a way to reach out to others who may be wrestling with what I wrestle with.  Perhaps they have tools they can share with me, as well.  But, mostly, it’s to share what has helped heal myself in hopes to help others.  It’s a way to build community and affirm to us all we are not alone and that we all share the same humanness.  I’ve learned that writing is one tool I can use to share my gifts of teaching and helping others heal ~ through words.

4. How does my writing process work?

Not very well.

Like I said, I am faithful to my Morning Pages every day, but beyond that, it’s a circus.  Writing for my eyes only are like breathing.  Once I desire to put something out there for the world, my hands hover over the keyboards for a lengthy period of time.  My fingers often weep at what comes out.  It can take me all day to do a blog post as I am also a bit of a researcher and feel obligated to have some valid words from others to support my own opinions.  I am critical of my words and attempt to weave in craft, trying out different leads and structures.

Once a blog post is written, I leave it sit for a period of time and come back to look at it with new eyes.  Of course, I won’t like it.  And, chances are, I’ll change the whole piece or choose just to chuck it.  If it doesn’t feel like it came from my heart, I can’t send it to the world.

One of the biggest roadblocks that hinders my process is the fear of ever sounding expert-ish, know-it-all-ish, self-promoting, judgmental, critical or laced with ego.  I scour my words for any evidence of these demons.  Often times, even when I know my words are written with love and compassion, my fear will tell me otherwise and the words will sit in my draft box indefinately.

My writing process truly is a love/hate relationship for me.

Wow. . . those were some pretty thought provoking questions.  The answers are true for me today, however tomorrow they might be totally different.  These four questions might be path unfolding for anyone to ponder on.

Now ~ here are some amazing writer-artist-healer-people, that I call my friends~

 10520790_786856211336313_1935250047_n

Laura Moss is beyond grateful to be able to say she has survived being Mom to 4 spirited girls, a battle with aggressive breast cancer, and some difficult seasons in her almost-25-year marriage. She calls herself a Creative, is drawn to beauty in all its forms, and loves loving on people. You can find more of her musings at gratefulamazement.wordpress.com.

2012 photo-1

 Leslie Molen is a doll and textile artist.

I have been a full time artist for over twenty years, specializing in dollmaking and textile arts. I have had discussions with friends about what keeps me going, the drive to continue onward.

 Many comment on how I nice it is that I have found my passion…

pas·sion

noun \ˈpa-shən\ : a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.

I tell them it is my calling, I must do this- create in cloth.

call·ing

noun \ˈkȯ-liŋ\

: a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work or impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.

And so my journey to create in cloth continues…this past year I have taken a step back from teaching so that I may start to work towards focusing on my personal art. It is a slow endeavor that will take time to nurture into existence! Stay tuned!”

You can visit Leslie’s page at Rootie Studio and her blog at from these Hands.  Prepare to get lost in her studio!

O-V2irpA_400x400

James Prescott is  a writer and author from Sutton, near London in the UK.  He loves writing, encouraging people, and seeing people discover their true identity.

“My life journey keeps on teaching me lessons about discovering hope in an imperfect world, and how we can discover our own unique stories in the the midst of this. I share those lessons here in all their brutal honesty.

I’m believe deeply in the power of encouragement. When I was only 12 years old my Dad gave me the opportunity to help him write a major newsletter – which set me on a writing journey. That journey has led me to create this blog and author three books.

If you’re interested in discovering your true identity, if you have a passion to make a difference in the world, if you know you’re broken but are looking for hope, you’re welcome here.

If you want open and honest discussion about issues which matter, or like facing up to the important but difficult questions of life, or you’re a human being, this blog is for you too.”

Early in 2015 James will be releasing his first full-length book, ‘Mosaic of Grace: God’s Beautiful Reshaping of Our Broken Lives’.

To read James’ written words, visit him at jamesprescott.co.uk, or read his bi-monthly posts over at digi-disciple, run by the Big Bible Project, and he also guest posts for prominent authors and bloggers Sarah Bessey, Jeff Goins & Mary DeMuth, amongst others.

10523979_10203676332421809_7537600787136213922_n

Bridgette Doer connects others to their inspired intuitive life.  I’ve worked with Bridgette and she is the real deal.

“I am overflowing with creative, empowering energy with so much anticipation for what is possible for all of us. There is so much untapped potential, so much capacity. We are much more than we believe we are at this moment.

When I accepted the invitation to be a channel for empowering women by inspiring intuition, the fun energy of the Fairy Grasshopper was created. It is my mission to activate hope, inspiration, and POWER  to help to you grow and glow!  I am in love with my Inspiring Psychic and Soulful Women Empowerment work! It’s not just my job- it is who I AM. I look forward to connecting with you, to cheering you on!”

Bridgette’s website and blog is at fairygrasshopper.com.  She is one amazing woman.

The Beginnings of My Spirit Doll

unnamed-18

 

The Universe if a crazy place and every day, I am guided to where and who I need to go next along my path.  It affirms my belief in a higher power, yet baffles me at the same time.

Last week was one of those weeks where you are shaken a bit.  Life feels cluttered, too much is coming in, events happen that upset the apple cart.  I remained true to meditating and listening to my inner voice, and one morning I opened an email that was just junk.  An email from Pinterest that suggests other pins you might like.  If you are on Pinterest, you get these daily and I typically just delete them.  Well, on this day, I was guided to check them out.  Mind you, it was 8:30am ~ it’s very dangerous to go on Pinterest this early in the day, especially when my mind is at it’s peak and I should be doing more constructive things. . . like WRITING!

Regardless, I was sucked in.  Too late.  Hooked by the dragon.

I was led to a spirit doll.  I love dolls.  Years ago, when my children were small, I made cloth dolls from recycled clothing for craft fairs and shops to earn extra money.  Every doll was a part of me.

Then, as my kids became more involved in sports, I began teaching full-time, the doll hobby was neglected and eventually I sold all the material and collections I accumulated for doll making at a garage sale.  It was extra weight that I needed to clear out.  I needed to make room for the new.

But still, I’m drawn to dolls and doll makers.  I feel a pull whenever a doll maker talks of her work or I see a handmade doll.

This particular spirit doll let me to a woman’s spirit doll wall page of which I began pinning away from.  Inspiration rose inside of me.  I could feel my soul coming alive and my mind swirling with possibilities.  I knew I needed to make a spirit doll somehow and venture back into the world of dolls. I missed them so much and they were calling me.

After a substantial loss of time, and feeling a little giddy, I decided I needed to thank this lady for the inspiration she brought me today.  I found her on Facebook and sent her a small message of appreciation.

Immediately, she messaged back telling me about who she was.

I was intrigued and was nudged to ask her about her journey.

She replied, “Why don’t you give me a call.  Here’s my cell #.”

Wow.  Really?  Cell #? Who does that?

I told her I would sometime.  Truly wanting to, but, I know how busy people are and honestly hate bothering them.  I was sure she was just being polite.

“How about now?  Do you have a minute?” she continued.

“Ummm. . . okay,” I replied.  Holy Kamoly.  This amazing woman was serious.  

This was just too much.  But, my intuition said, “Call her.”

And. . . I actually did have time.

So, I did.

We talked for 2 hours.  I filled 18 sticky notes with thoughts.  She felt like an old soul who had gone before me.

I shared with her my apple cart tipping over and my forks in the road and she told me I needed to make a spirit doll for guidance.  Gather a group of women together and create spirit dolls.  There is power and energy in this, she said.  Your spirit doll will tell you what you need.  Listen to her.  

She led me to  Joanna Powell Colbert’s website, where a How To Make A Spirit Doll e-book is free.  Thank you, Joanna.  Oh my goodness, my energy centers were just spinning and flowing.

I am so grateful for the women that have come into my life as mentors and guides.  Miraculously, when my journey with one woman ends, another appears for the next leg on the path.

Off to the thrift store I went to snatch up anything that spoke to me for my Spirit Doll.  I know my theme/intention for this doll will be of fearlessness, protection (energy) and peace.  I did not googling and was brought to ancient Goddess Tara.  Hmmm. . .

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but it feels right.  

Sometimes, we just have to trust.

Who will join me?

Shari 🙂

 

My Angel of Love

Image

Life Book 2014 Lesson for Week 9 arrived in my email inbox this week.  I stared at it and already knew that I was not going to be able to complete this lesson this week.  Just like I didn’t complete Week 8, or Week 7, or Week 6.

I joined Life Book 2014 this year because I love to art journal, but I don’t make time for it, allowing “real life” to take over most of my time.  The bliss I feel when actually creating in my art journals is pure heaven.  The world disappears and my soul is nourished.  Early on, a disciplined student was I, Weeks 1-3 were completed. Now, the lessons sit idle, waiting for me.

Writing is different.  I write every day, even if it’s only for 10 minutes.  My hang up is making it public.  Fear of putting too much out there, looking like I’m self-promoting or needing attention, or being judged are issues I wrestle with on a daily basis.  This is why I joined the Slice of Life Challenge for March ~ and hope to “put something out there” every day this month, so that it feels natural to do so.

I fear not being able to keep up with it every day, just like my Life Book class.  Who can have something worthwhile to share with the world every single day for an entire month?

A fellow facebook writer friend today told me that I have things worthwhile to say.  Her words were savored by me ~ she probably had no idea how much I needed them right then and there.

How many times have we felt that our words didn’t matter?  That our voice would not be heard even if we spoke up?  Well, it’s not true.  Our words make a difference.  Even, if it’s for only one person.  That one person who needs those words at that one time, so that’s why we write.

I’m sharing my art journal page from my first Life Book 2014 lesson this year.  She is my Angel of Love.  She is a symbol for my WOTY, which is Love.  Gazing at her, she reminds me, to love my work, love my art, love to share my message and that it matters.

What the Internet is Doing To My Productivity

Image

What the Internet Has Done To My Productivity

There are currently 11 tabs open on my mac.  Before 10:00 am.  (Yes, this is a fragment.  I know.  I’m making a statement.)

It’s Saturday morning, 6:45 am.  A rediculous -26 degrees below zero in frigid northern MN.  I’m thinking that I am going to get a boatload of tasks checked of my to-do list today because I’m not stepping foot out into that danger zone outside.  Cleaning, writing, school work, decorate the tree and maybe even begin some Christmas baking.  I’ve got English Toffee on my mind.

Because of the mouse that I BELIEVE ran across my face this morning as I was pulling out my REMs at 6:30am, I first go to my facebook page and post this trauma to my status.  Childhood friends console me.  Teaching colleagues and relatives were as mortified as I was.  Former students from my first year teaching appear to reminisce.  Community friends offer solutions:  peppermint oil or cats.  My daughter scolds me in that I need to wash my bedding.

Knowing I should NOT log onto facebook before noon on a Saturday, yet realizing I’ve already broken my cardinal rule, I continue to peruse facebook status’, commenting and clicking on intriguing links that grab my now distracted mind.

A fb friend posts Steven Pressfield’s Writing Wednesday post on  Managing Your Time.  Whoa.  That is the Universe speaking to ME right now, so I’d better surf over there and find out how to best do that!

Pressfield relives a narrative that makes me chuckle because I live the same one, but these are the words that I write down to remember from his post:

“You have to run your day. You can’t let your day run you.

 You must roll out of bed each morning with an unshakeable focus and intention. Your novel, your start-up, your movie. That’s your day. That’s why you’re here.

 You can’t yield to distractions and temptations. You must be like the Blues Brothers.

 You’re on a mission from God.

 Who is in charge of your day? You are!”

Ok.  He is right.  As soon as I get off here, I’m going to start some writing.  But first, I’m going to tweet this blog post on Twitter.  It’s too good to lose and others will benefit from his wise words.  Pressfield wrote the War on  Art. The man speaks volumes. He knows a thing or two about productivity and resistance.

Once on Twitter, I come upon a tweet that has caught my attention.  Cathy Mere tweets that everyone should take time to read the tweets on #nerdlutions.  “Hmmm. . . what is this?  I’d better check this out as it must be too good to miss.” I click my way over there.

I believe “#nerdlutions” was started by Christopher Lehman, but perhaps the term was derived by Colby Sharp, but I’m not 100 percent sure, needing to give credit to where credit is due.  It seems “#nerdlutions” is defined as committing to doing something or some things for 50 days.  There are no rules.  Just make sure it makes you happy.

Of course, I’m a sucker for these things.  I’m in.  Being a part of this amazing  Twitter community is the draw.

I commit to 30 minutes of writing and 30 minutes of “moving my body in some form of exercise” every day.

 I’d better retweet this and I’ll pin it to my Pinterest wall as one of my blog posts to read over and over so I don’t forget about it.

Whoa, stop the trains – once at Pinterest,  after pinning this blog post, of course other pinners who have pinned this to their wall as well, pop up.  My mind tells me that these are “like-minded” souls, so I need to check out their walls.

I click on a pin that pulls me in.  It leads me to Brainpickings, a site that I have become lost in before.  Uh-oh.  Don’t know if I should be here this morning, but I’m already astray.  The post I’m called to is by Maria Popova and titled,

The Psychology of Getting Unstuck: How to Overcome the “OK Plateau” of Performance & Personal Growth”,

 which leads me to a book, Maximize Your Potential, by Joshua Foer.  These words from the blog post resinate in my mind for awhile and a rereading in necessary:

“In the 1960s, psychologists identified three stages that we pass through in the acquisition of new skills. We start in the “cognitive phase,” during which we’re intellectualizing the task, discovering new strategies to perform better, and making lots of mistakes. We’re consciously focusing on what we’re doing. Then we enter the “associative stage,” when we’re making fewer errors, and gradually getting better. Finally, we arrive at the “autonomous stage,” when we turn on autopilot and move the skill to the back of our proverbial mental filing cabinet and stop paying it conscious attention.”

The problem most of us have is staying stuck in “autopilot”.  By staying in our comfort zone, we tend to ‘cease to care about improving’.  Our mind tells us, “Ah, this is good enough.” I begin to think about the areas in my life I am on autopilot on and which areas need some improvement.

After savoring this post, I navigate over to Amazon to toss the book into my cart.

I don’t think I have to tell you what happens once I get there.

After losing two hours, I shut my laptop, I begin to wonder if I am crazy.  Am I alone in this world of distraction?  Are there others out there that are not able to accomplish their daily to-do list because of our online communities and getting lost in the internet playground.  I know I can’t be alone.  I ponder that if this is a struggle for me, an educated adult, what are our children going through?

I glance over to my bookshelves next to my desk.  A book seems to pop out at me.

The Shallows:  What the Internet is Doing To Our Brains by Nicholas Carr.    I don’t even remember buying this book.  I pull it off the shelf and realize I need to read this today.

After I post this to my blog today, an “unplugging” for the remainder of the weekend is in order.  I have things to do.  My mind needs a rest.  My husband will be home soon as ask me how my day was and what I did.  I’d better get something done, fast.

I might sleep with a sleeping bag on the dining room table tonight.  I don’t think mice can climb table legs.  You might say they can’t climb bed legs either, but when you blankets creep off to the floor, this creates a nice ladder for the little varmints to climb.

Did I mention I ran out of my decaf beans and perhaps ground caffeinated ones instead?  They were displayed in an unmarked glass jar.

Explains a lot.

An Artist Date Discovery

My word of the year is whispering to me everywhere I go.  I chose the word “courage” this year, as I have quite a few goals I intend to reach, but I need an extra double shot of “courage” to put myself out there.  You can read my post about this here.

So, in an effort to work through my fears, I joined the Life Book 2013 group. Last week, I began to work on my first art journal page assignment from Tam.  Our assignment was to create our own fairy art mother who chases away our inner critics in order for us to create with freedom.  Our fairy art mother would shoo away  that nasty voice we hear about our work not being good enough.

Here is my fairy art mother:

IMG_2729

I even added a sword!  I don’t know why, but I guess I was thinking that those wretched voices are like dragons and I could ward them off with a sword.  Crazy.

I’m also rereading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and this caused me to join a fabulous face book group of ladies who are also reading the book.  We are sharing our artist date experiences and I am so inspired by the experiences I read.  

So, today I decided to take myself out on my artist date.  Restock the well.  Explore.  Open up all my senses.  I decided to do some browsing in an old used bookstore we have downtown.  It’s actually more like a used “everything” store, but it started out with just books.

I walk in the door and right there I see her.  On a tall glass shelf at eye level.  Looking at me.  I am drawn to her and my mouth drops.

It’s her.

My fairy art mother.

As a statue.

IMG_2726

She even had the sword.

I snatched her up and felt like I’d discovered gold.  A giddiness inside was just bubbling.  My mind was on monkey overdrive.

“What did this mean?”

” How could this be?”

“Holy Crap.”

I paid 5.00 for her at the till.  (Well, not right away really.  I browsed the entire store and also found an armful of books at a dollar each.) The clerk gently wrapped her in newspaper and told me to carry the bag carefully.

All I could think was, “Seriously?  Don’t worry, lady.”

Back home, I googled the statue’s significance and here is what I found:

“Faerie Guardians of the Glen II are defending our earth and protecting its inhabitants. Although fearless strong and heroic these faeries still personify a timeless beauty that make the Faerie Glen collection so unique.”

Defending our earth and it’s inhabitants.  A protector she is.

And then, I realized. . . this faerie guardian is within me.

Not only am I the protector of my artist self, but I am also the protector of much more than that.  I am responsible for the protection of my health, my dreams, my goals, in my beliefs and passions.  No one is responsible for all of this but me.  It’s my duty to hold myself accountable to it all and protect the “me” that is to be.

Whatever evolves will evolve and it will be good.  As long and I am courageous and can draw my sword when that inner voice starts whining, or criticizing, or worse.

I have a fairy art mother and a faerie guardian now.

There is no stopping me.

I have swords.

Shari 🙂

Trying Out Word Press Themes. . .

I get bored with the same shoes, clothes, food, anything. . .  after too long.  It drives my husband crazy.  I’m sorry, hon,  Anyways. . .. I’m trying out Word Press themes this week.

Visually, I’m having a hard time finding the one that speaks to me in a way where I say, “Oh man. . . this is it.”

Maybe it’s because I am not to the pay money stage yet for a theme.  I want free.

But, along with free, you lose the ability to choose fonts and background colors.

Anyways. . . this week, I’m trying out themes. I need help and advise.  Serious and critical.  What do readers like?  Coming from a literacy background I know that struggling readers need black font on white background.  It’s hard for me to stray from that.

But, I need pieces of my art in there.  Most of my posts will have my art journal page as the image.   I need that in there.

So, I’m looking for advise here.  Tell me.  Critical or positive.  Let me know.  What is it that attracts readers to actually stay long enough to read an entire post?

Shari 🙂

p.s. the Snoopy artwork was borrowed from http://stepupyourgamenow.com/2012/06/to-decide-or-not-to-decide-that-is-the-question/ and I read the entire post.  It didn’t help.  But, I loved the site!  I’m now a follower. 🙂

How Dreams Speak To Us

I had the most bizarre dream last night.

Actually, it was this morning, as I woke up at 5 a.m. and told myself to go back to sleep.  It’s those morning dreams that really shake you up.

Sporty (my hubby) and our dog, Sandy were in a duck hunting/retrieving contest.  Somehow, I became apart of this endeavor by being the one to remain on shore in order to canoe out into the water to fetch Sandy if she was in trouble and bring her to land.  Now, mind you, I don’t hunt or do these outdoorsman-ish things.  So, why I was a part of this whole scheme, I have no idea.  Just the fact that I agreed to it affirms that it was a dream.

Well, the blessed hunters and dogs took off in their duck boats.  Us “dog-savers” patiently awaited by the edge of the shore.  For some odd reason, we were all to stay lined up facing the water with one knee kneeling.  I don’t know. . . maybe so no one got a head start?  Fer dum.  My knee was getting wet.

As I eye-balled the twenty or so other participants to see what I was up against, I noticed that they were all men.  Young men.  Fit.  With muscles.  Well, there was one other woman way down the line yonder, but she was also army-fit.  And, she was decked out in the proper attire.  I’m sure she had the latest most updated Eddie Bauer or Filson hunting gear and it adorned her sculpted physique.  Me?  I had on jeans, my mud boots and this oversized jacket that I was being swallowed in.

What the hell was I doing here?

We sat there for what seems like hours.  All of us quiet and intent on being focused for this task.  My knee was getting sore.

Eventually, one lone dog came in sight of us all.  Binoculars thrust to our eyes.  As this dog paddled and gulped water attempting to drag a well fed duck (it WAS a big duck), it’s owner harnessed his canoe and oared out to greet and guide his faithful dog into the shore safely.  Once on shore and the duck dropped, he ordered the dog to hop back into the canoe and the “dog-saver” ferociously oared back out to the open water to join the dog back to the hunter.  Oars were moving at a vicious pace, strong and steady.  The muscles in his arms and shoulders tense enough to see through his jacket.  The dog rested in the boat awaiting his next fetching.

“WHAT????” I fareaked. “Sporty never told me that I was going to need to paddle BACK out into the water with the dog!!!  I can’t do that!!  I’ll be lucky if I can lift that damn oar, let alone paddle way out yonder!  Dang it!  Double Dang it!”

Again. .  . what the hell am I doing here?????  I don’t belong with these people.

More dogs appear.  All colors.  I  frantically scramble for my foggy binoculars and search for Sandy. I have to wipe off my binoculars as I can’t see through them, the piece of crap it is.  I notice what others are using and again, reassurance of my knowing I am outta my league.

As I scan from shore to shore, I notice a light-colored lab.  I gather my stuff and hop into my canoe, making sure no one is watching me for fear they will judge my ineptness and this business.  I try to look unnoticeable as I creep in between a few other canoers.

I reach Sandy and find her to be repeatedly diving down deep into the water as if she released the duck from her jaw and it sank to the bottom of the lake floor.  (Do ducks sink?  I don’t know. . . it’s a stupid dream.)  Regardless, she painstakingly dives down deep for this dead creature.  I’m thinking she is going to drown herself attempting to retrieve something her instinct tells her she must have.  Animals are like that.

No Fear.  Not.  A.  Bit.

Unlike Me.

I call to her and she ignores me.  As I yell louder for her to obey, she finally paddles over to me and I grab her and yank her into the canoe.  She falls limp to the canoe floor and pants relentlessly.  I have never seen her so exhausted.  Like her heart might jump out of her skin.  I’m kinda scared.

I oar to shore and pull her out of the canoe, easing her up high on the shore.  I wipe her off and wrap her with a towel and we just rest.  She needs rest.  This poor dog.  I’ll be darned if I’m taking her back out there to that, that, whatever they do out there.  There, there, poor Sandy.

Then, I see the collar.  It’s a thin yellow collar.

This is not Sandy.

Sandy has a wide camo collar.

Oh my God.  Where is Sandy?  Where is she then?????  Almost all of the other dogs have arrived by now.  Dog-savers have rushed them back out to the waters and here I sit with some strange dog.  I think I am sick.

Had I been so side tracked paying all my attention to THIS dog that I missed my own when she came near?  Did I miss her struggling and diving underwater and neglect the signs to get out there and save her?

Whose dog is this?  And, why isn’t anyone looking for her?

I fail.

Yes.  I fail.

Then, I woke up.

I shake my head and think, “Geez, what the heck was THAT all about?”

As I’m drinking my coffee, I share my dream with Gracie, my 19-year-old daughter.  “What is the significance of this dream, do you think?”  I ask her.

“It’s telling you that you really love Sandy!”  she beams.  She goes to let Sandy in, her tail wagging and she licks Gracie’s face giving her dog kisses.

“Don’t we Sandy!” she says, “we just LOVE you, hunny bun!” in her cutie pie voice.

But, that’s not it.  I know I love Sandy.  I don’t need a dream to tell me that.

I have a dream journal of which I attempt to record my dreams.  It’s necessary for me to look for the patterns in my subconscious mind in order to unlock these blocks and to hear the messages from God that he wants me to know.

I’ve learned to look for the symbolic meanings in dreams and think about where I am in my own personal growth process.  I first always look for the main emotion and actions I take in dreams.

In this dream, I feel one dominant emotion throughout the entire dream.

Fear.

Fear that the others in this contest all deserve to be there.  They are better than me.  They’ve had training and practice.  They all probably have even won contests and have award-winning dogs.  I’m not up to their standard.  By far.

Fear that I have lost Sandy forever and let her die.  Because of my negligence and attention to other things I did not focus on what identified her as Sandy.  I did not pay attention.  This dog of whom my family adores is gone.  I must face this now.

Fear of my husband.  How will I tell him?  Again, I attempted something and could not do it.  Could not complete the task.  Disappointment will cover his face.  His eyes will be disgusted and he won’t say a word.  But, there will be a veil of resentment that will tarnish his actions and words.  All of this will be piled up on the already smoldering mountain of resentments.  Add another log to the fire.

This dream signifies my fears.  Fear of writing.  Fear of creating.  Fear of reaching out to others who are like me in order to find connections and like-minded souls.  Fear that I don’t deserve to be there.  Fear of failing.  Fear of professing who I think I really am.  Fear of doing what I really want to do.

Fear is resistance.  Resistance is evil.

Steven Pressfield tells us this in his book The War of Art.  “Resistance prevents us from achieving the life God intended when he endowed each of us with our own unique genius.”  We are all a genius at something.  God made sure of this.  He blessed us with this.  It is our gift back to him to use this gift and to share it with the world.

The kicker is this pesky and sometimes debilitating fear.  This resistance.  I must recognize the resistance first as fear.  This is tricky because resistance can be disguised as many other things:  alcoholism, drug abuse, over eating, internet compulsiveness, ummm. . . too much Facebook, too much Pinterest, gossip, shopping and even excessive reading to find answers to your resistance and fears.

Yikes.  (I’m looking away here.  You can’t see me.)

I am Sandy in this dream.

My job is to keep this adored being, this creative and spirited soul alive.

If I neglect her and get sidetracked with those other resistance tricks, she may die.

I just can’t let that happen.

Shari 🙂

5 Powerful Reasons You Need Morning Pages in Your Life

Morning Pages image

I have done morning pages most of my life, way before Julie Cameron wrote about them in her book The Artist’s Way back in 1992.  When I first read The Artist’s Way for the first time in 2006, I smiled.  What I was doing now had a  name.

I have at least 50 notebooks filled with writing.  Probably more.  They are everywhere. Somedays I write 10-15 pages, others my mandatory 3.  Whatever it may be, I have to write.

I stopped doing morning pages when I started my blogs. 

Why?  How can someone who has done something for a life time stop doing something that is so engrained in their being?  What could possibly cause this?

I started using my blog AS my morning pages.  

Instead of going to the notebook and pen in the mornings, I was now going to my computer attempting to compose a writing for an audience.  I fretted over the frustration of topic choice, choosing a catchy title, crafting that first lead sentence that hooks and then always trying to keep a focus and stick to some pain points.

A  blog has a distinct structure that you try to attain.  This is not morning pages.  I was at a creative standstill.  A block.  Some days I just sat at my computer and pondered.

I didn’t write.  I wasn’t writing.

Julie Cameron’s book Walking in This World arrived on by doorstep yesterday.  As I leafed through the first pages, she reviews the “Basic Tools” for any creative soul.  Morning pages were right there, on the page, as the first, most powerful tool.

I love it when you know something so deep in your core and your veer from it for some reason or another and then, all of a sudden, the Universe sends you a little reminder that you need to remember to do what you know.  Gives me chills.

So, I’m back to my morning pages again. 🙂

Why are morning pages so powerful, you ask?

Well, I’ll give you 5 really big reasons.

1.  There is no wrong way to do morning pages.

Morning pages are at least 3 pages of long hand writing (no computer) in a notebook that is free-flowing stream of conscious writing.  They are not meant to be art or even any good.  Not that they might be.  They could.  They are only meant for your eyes.  No audience.

2.  The drama gets put on the page.

Julie Cameron says, “All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in your morning pages is the stuff that stands between you and your creativity.”

It might be worry over bills.  It might be anger at your husband.  It might be you beating yourself up because you drank too much last night.

Whatever this is, it’s drama.  If you get it on paper, it’s leaked out of you.  You did something with it.  So, you can move on.

If I can get my drama on the page, I have less drama in my life.  My head is clearer and I can focus my thinking on the things I want to focus on.

3.  Morning pages teach us to get beyond our critic in our heads.

Because there is no wrong way to do the morning pages and we can write whatever we feel and not care what it says or how it looks, we have the right to ignore the critic in our brain telling us that our writing (or anything else for that matter) is crap.

“We have a logic brain.  This is our Censor that gives us our second, third and fourth thoughts whenever faced with our own original thoughts,”  writes Julia.  Quite often, it spits at us words like, “You can’t write that!” or “Who are you kidding?”

And we have our artist brain.  This artist brain is our creative being.  It has glorious thoughts of “what-if’s” and sees a beautiful leaf and thinks, “I’m going to press leaves and string a bunch of them together to make a leaf garland and hang it above my kitchen window!”  Artist brain is random, free and idealistic.

Julie proclaims that “morning pages teach logic brain to stand aside and let artist brain play.”  Why is this important?  I don’t know about you, but my logic brain is dominant in my brain 24/7.  I know I need to train it better.

4.  Morning pages are a form of meditation.

If we write enough so that it feels like breathing, we begin to see new insights in our writing.  We see the same issues, read over the continued whining and we realize that we need to make changes.

In my own life, the answers to my questions magically appear in my writing.  Many times I have stopped in my own tracks and looked at what came out and cried.  God speaks to us through our writing.

We meditate to discover who we are.  To listen to the whispers from God.  Writing is a form of meditation and the great power in it, more so than meditating without writing, is that the writing that ends up on page helps us to map our pathways.

It is almost impossible to write your morning pages morning after morning without feeling a divine unexpected inner guidance.

I consider it a gift.

5.  Morning pages are not just for writers.

Morning pages are for everyone.  If you know how to hold a pencil and scribble some letters, you can do morning pages.  We all have inner work to do.  Every soul is searching for something.  We all are praying for answers.

Everyone can find them in our pages.

If you haven’t written for a while, go buy a cheap composition notebook and find your favorite pen.  Set your alarm for a half hour to an hour early and start your pages.

Write anything. Write about how you don’t know what to write.

Just get it on the page.

Shari 🙂

Arriving at My Place of Peace

I was spent.

As I usually am at the end of a school year.  This one, more so.

I am a literacy coach at an elementary school for students from Prek to grade five.  We have five to eight sections per grade – about 800 students.  This is a large school.  I am the only coach.

I have been in education for over twenty years, my first job as a first grade teacher in 1987.  Education is changing.  Students are changing.  Society is changing.  New teachers coming and others leaving.  Holding on to a vision is sometimes daunting when so many changes are continuous in our profession.

My job does not end when the students leave.  I continue to work through the summer, compiling data, working on curriculum, ordering materials, planning for new teachers, reading new research and keeping abreast of new literacy practices.

Added to the load of my job was the fact that I was finishing up my Masters.  Because I am a perfectionist and overachiever in some areas, my final paper ended up being a book.  A blessing and a curse.

I also have four wonderful children, the ages of 17, 19, 20 and 22. All of them. . . at home with my husband and I.  Just when we thought the nest would be emptying, they started coming back.  Sleep was something I was lacking and my edges were frayed with constant stints of worry at night.  They are all normal kids who like to have a good time.  I, the parent, that just prays for the angels to guide them home safely at night.

My husband, we’ll call him Sporty, was in full force with fishing, golfing and running down to the hunting land to farm some food for deer, fall just around the corner.  His agendas after work are full.  Married for 24 years, I’ve accepted that this is who he is.

My life is one that 98 percent of the world pray for.  I’ve been so blessed, too blessed.  Yet, it was also overfull.  I had been scattered and strewn about.  Pieces of me were everywhere, but not really there.  I needed to get away just to figure out if I could keep going at this pace and in this path.  And just to remember why I was here in the first place.  I was losing meaning and purpose in all that I was doing.

July is my month of freedom.

So, the end of June when I was able to attain a small cabin for two weeks beginning July 1, I was as giddy as a school girl could be.

I had the car packed up in two hours.  Sporty came with to help set up camp, but he could not stay as work was calling his name, having just had vacation time for a Canada fishing trip.  I was at ease with this, as I craved aloneness.  I think he had mixed feelings.  I could feel this, but we didn’t talk about it.  The kids planned on coming and going when they could, being only an hour away.  Honestly, I was not planning for anyone. . . but myself.  A strange feeling, selfish, yet a desperate attempt, like I was running away from my life,  in order to save myself.

Upon arrival, I unloaded food, checked out the facilities and immediately drug my chair down to the water.

I climbed into my resting place and closed my eyes and I just lay there.  The air moist, the sun embracing me with warmth and the sound of the waves lapping.  This is heaven.  How can heaven not be like this? All I could verbalize over an over in my mind was,

“Thank you, God.  I am here now.  Let me rest.  Please, please, bring me peace.”

Tears were already welling up and I hadn’t been there for more that an hour.  I had to hold them back as I wasn’t ready to face all that God had in store for me here just yet.

The breeze gently caressed my skin.  “Yes, I know you have something to say,” I replied to it.  “But, not now. . . I just beg to lay here and disappear into this landscape and forget who I am for now.”

It wouldn’t listen and I smiled just knowing there was so much here for me. I would try to be patient toward all that was unsolved in my heart, just as Rainer Maria Rilke starts out her poem,  LETTER TO A POET.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart

and try to love the questions themselves.

do not now seek the answer, which cannot be

given you because you would not be able  

to live them.  And the point is to live everything.

Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then

gradually, without noticing it, live along some

distant day into the answer.

I prayed to live my questions.  First I needed to articulate them.  In this mess of who I was at that point in time, would I even be able to figure out what my questions were?

And how do you live a question into the answer?

I would let the breeze teach me.

Today though. . . I just rest.  Just rest my weary bones.