Co-Creative Flow


The dragonflies are back.  They filled our front yard this weekend and yesterday as I walked to a workshop on the local college campus, they filled the spaces between the buildings.  The dragonfly is a symbol of transmutation.  They live the first part of their lives underwater, in the mud.  Till one day they climb up a stem and become a totally new creature.

I have been thinking of the writing circles as a creative writing class that has climbed out on the stem.   Just as the air works on the sylph to become a dragonfly, we allow the four elements of earth, water, air and fire to work with us as we write.  The elements and our heart coherence activates something within us and we each give voice in our own unique way.

We are in a co-creative writing field.  The rugged individual, the competitive edge, the “no sharing your paper with your neighbor” is mutating to the courageous individual – radically honest, transparent and true. The competitive edge is now the artistic edge – finding your own edge, the exhilarating ground of your own being that is found through open-hearted inquiry with others and with your Soul on the page.  Finally, we SHARE with each other — through the HEART, we create true community (a gathering of INDIVIDUALS who create a coherent WHOLE).

In our co-creative writing, with each other, with nature, with our dreams and with the synchronicities of our lives – we are in the FLOW and we know it.

The Softest Touch


Recently in a conversation with my friend, I surprised myself when I used the words tender and powerful to describe the time of pregnancy and early mothering.  A pregnant woman is so tender; she can’t go about “business as usual”.  She slows down, eats nutritious food, and gets plenty of rest.  Her body in its wisdom, magically gestates a marvelous being.   She is powerful as she surrenders to this slower pace, she births a new being into the world and she is changed.

My experience with pregnancy and giving birth gave me an awareness (a feeling knowing) of the wisdom of the body and the connection I have to the divine.  By divine, I mean, an invisible source of life; much like the way invisible electricity moves through the cord of a lamp, except it is a LOT juicier!  I call this force Wisdom Sophia and I invite every woman to explore a name or image that resonates with her own inner knowing.

During pregnancy and childbirth it was as if all the pieces of me were thrown up into the air and I had a choice in how they were put back together!  I was no longer the same person, I could choose to put myself back together using a familiar pattern or I could make some changes.   I was connected to the power of the Divine Feminine.

So, it strikes me that being a woman is tender and powerful and actually being human is tender and powerful.  Such a vulnerable place, being in a body with this invisible life force running through us.  We want to stay alive and we find all kinds of ways to protect ourselves.

As a species we are going through a similar kind of change now.  We are in labor – all the old ways don’t work.  We can’t, as I suggested with my first pregnancy in labor at the hospital, go home and stay pregnant for the rest of our lives.  We can give birth to something new.  All the pieces have been thrown up in the air and we have a choice in how we put it back together.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t do it – the Feminine has to be involved with her inner knowing about tenderness and power.  We cannot force a solution.  The wise know that it is the softest touch that helps life to open up.

Photo by Patrick Oualid

Breaking the Rules – A Butterfly Can’t Go Back to Caterpillar


We are the butterfly in flight.  Something vital is lost when the butterfly is pinned to the display.  The feminine way of paying attention to what has heart and meaning might mean that life slows its pace and we find ourselves moving to the beat of a different drummer.  When we are on this path, we usually notice synchronistic happenings that unfold without “efforting”.  The effort usually comes when we are trying to fit back into an old mold that no longer fits – like a butterfly trying to fit back into a cocoon.

Last weekend I met a young woman who had recently given birth – she spoke of herself as changed.  She was noticing the many areas of her life where she felt different.  I was very moved by the encounter.  And this morning after my writing time, I ran into a friend who is dedicated to the needs of expecting and new mothers.  Together, “out of the blue” (a saying that always assures me that a feminine way of knowing is present) we decided to offer a writing circle experience for new and expecting mothers.

Here is a piece that opened up a few days ago that speaks in a different way to what I just shared:

It is time to come undone, unpinned, unhinged

to break free, to be, to express yourself

to speak your yes and your no, your stop and go

Let it flow, get in the flow, then you’ll know

no figuring out, no way out but through

So follow through, follow the thread,

get out of your head; it will tell you no and say it isn’t so

But you know, you know, you know—YOUR BODY IS CAPABLE OF SOMETHING YOUR MIND CAN’T WRAP ITSELF AROUND*

You’ve blown your mind, keep blowing, keep going

don’t stop now, keep flowing, you are in the flow, in the flying, butterfly flying

Butterflies fly and writers write, be in the verb, find your nerve, your verve,

its not a mistake, double take, yes the woman in the mirror is you, the one whose eyes speak true, “You are going crazy”, she says.

Take heart, this “crazy” is about going against the status quo, breaking out of the rules you know a butterfly can’t go back to caterpillar.  So be aware, find a sister to share, create a space, a sacred place – together.

* quote from my daughter, Carrie Lee Ferguson, after giving birth to her daughter.

Break the rules and write today – no worries about spelling or grammar or who your audience is — as Barbara Marx Hubbard suggests, instead of asking, “What’s wrong with me?” ask “What is wanting to emerge?”

Noticing What You Notice


        At an artist friend’s house the other day, I noticed a little bird made of straw that was perched on the windowsill as if it was looking out at the garden, observing.  I was so struck by the simple beauty and positioning.   When I got home, I wrote about the little bird from the perspective of “it” and “you” and then let it speak with “I”.

As a writing practice, I often suggest, “noticing what you notice” and then writing about it.  My noticing, helped me to acknowledge my appreciation of gentleness and quiet observation.  So today, when I got to the pharmacy to fill a prescription and realized I had left the script on the table at home, I remembered the feeling of gentleness and quiet observation and quietly drove back home without a harsh word.

Gentleness

It looks out the window sitting

on the sill keeping her

company as she watches. 

Its straw tail feathers    beautiful. 

From its perch here    it faces

the world sitting in silence, choosing

to stay in the presence of the woman who

bathes the atmosphere with gentleness.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You stand on the sill,

silent and still,

looking out on the garden,

the bees hum, the flowers grow

imperceptibly and I see

the kindness of the woman who

gave you your perch.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am quiet,

I am loved,

I am beautiful. 

My presence speaks to

the artist who lives here.

 

Soul Speak


My favorite date on the calendar happens in March; it is the only date that creates a complete sentence. Though it is spelled “f o u r t h”, to me it speaks, “March forth!”

This March 4th as I was considering my intention around my work with writing groups and workshops, an inner image came.  I was tapping back to the thrill I had when I wrote those first poems at the Sophia Conference when I was filled with inspiration AND angst.

The image was of a person rising out of a box and then standing on the box with a new perspective and the thrill of freedom. I remembered feeling myself as a point of consciousness that is in communication with soul and spirit.  I felt that each of us is a conduit for that powerful spirit. My intention is to create opportunities for others to experience this connection and through that connection bring who they uniquely are into the world.

Writing Exercise: I took my own advice and circled some words from the above piece and wrote something new.  It came out like a poem; imagine that!

Unbox yourself

Rise up, wake up

Don’t button up

or batten down the hatches

Unlatch the latches

Walk out, shout

and trill to the thrill

of being uniquely you!

A conduit, open to it

Spirit runs through it

Its your cup, fill it up

Fountain flowing

surrender knowing

Listen as the Soul

friend speaks.

The Beat of Creative Passion


Rhythm is born on the island beneath the sea; it shakes the earth, it cuts through me like a lightning bolt and rises toward the sky, carrying with it my sorrows…..

                                Isabel Allende in Island Beneath the Sea

In this quote, Isabel Allende’s character is speaking of the rhythm of drums and her words carry me to the idea of moving to the beat of a rhythm that sets the pace for the day.  I long to move with a natural rhythm.  I find I can’t take a brisk walk at the beach; my body lingers, my breath slows and I dawdle, picking up feathers and shells.

When I taught in a Waldorf inspired kindergarten, the list of our day’s activities was called a rhythm instead of a schedule.  There was attention paid to the balance of outer rambunctious activity with inner quiet activity.  In their free play, the children created imaginary families and households with boisterous activity and then later spoke in hushed tones as they filled their watercolor pages with flowing vibrant color.  

I read, rhythm cuts through me like a lightning bolt and rises toward the sky – and I understand that this play of inner and outer activity is what connects me with the natural rhythm of the earth, as a soulful participant.  I stand on the earth to feel the power of the feminine and I write to experience the joining of masculine and feminine on the page in creative process.  I need the rhythm of solitude and peopled activity in order to connect with this power and let it flow.

Writing suggestion:  Go out into nature and notice with all your senses.  Balance the doing with being; be receptive and allow the environment to “speak” to you.  Write a few random impressions, don’t force complete sentences or correct spelling.  Later use those impressions in a verse, poem or paragraph – you could even lend your voice to nature and speak from “I”. 

Click here for author, Isabel Allende speaking on PASSION – she discusses women, creativity, and the definition of feminism- it is marvelous and only 18 minutes long.  You could take notes and use those words in a verse, poem or story.

The Beat of Creative Passion


Rhythm is born on the island beneath the sea; it shakes the earth, it cuts through me like a lightning bolt and rises toward the sky, carrying with it my sorrows…..

                                Isabel Allende in Island Beneath the Sea

In this quote, Isabel Allende’s character is speaking of the rhythm of drums and her words carry me to the idea of moving to the beat of a rhythm that sets the pace for the day.  I long to move with a natural rhythm.  I find I can’t take a brisk walk at the beach; my body lingers, my breath slows and I dawdle, picking up feathers and shells.

When I taught in a Waldorf inspired kindergarten, the list of our day’s activities was called a rhythm instead of a schedule.  There was attention paid to the balance of outer rambunctious activity with inner quiet activity.  In their free play, the children created imaginary families and households with boisterous activity and then later spoke in hushed tones as they filled their watercolor pages with flowing vibrant color.  

I read, rhythm cuts through me like a lightning bolt and rises toward the sky – and I understand that this play of inner and outer activity is what connects me with the natural rhythm of the earth, as a soulful participant.  I stand on the earth to feel the power of the feminine and I write to experience the joining of masculine and feminine on the page in creative process.  I need the rhythm of solitude and peopled activity in order to connect with this power and let it flow.

Writing suggestion:  Go out into nature and notice with all your senses.  Balance the doing with being; be receptive and allow the environment to “speak” to you.  Write a few random impressions, don’t force complete sentences or correct spelling.  Later use those impressions in a verse, poem or paragraph – you could even lend your voice to nature and speak from “I”. 

Click here for author, Isabel Allende speaking on PASSION – she discusses women, creativity, and the definition of feminism- it is marvelous and only 18 minutes long.  You could take notes and use those words in a verse, poem or story.

The New Year Rings-Are You Listening?


2012 feels different to me.  It is as if there is a listening happening, as if in everything I do, there is a container, a support.  Perhaps it is because that in the time around the solstice, the quality of my own listening changed. 

In my community, friends hosted a labyrinth walk on Winter Solstice evening.  We live near an eleven circuit labyrinth like the one at Chartres in France.  Ours is sheltered under a pavilion in the middle of an open field.   That evening, the labyrinth was luminous, lit by candlelight.  We walked and I listened to the beauty of evening and also to some of the chatter in my mind.   In the following days, the experience continued to whisper to me as if clearing an inward space for the outer events of my life to reverberate.

So I am still listening, taking time every morning and evening to remember what happened during the day and in dreams.  This listening also requires that I stop midstream when going about the mundane aspects of my life.  It whispers and I stop when folding the towels to remember a feeling, to lean into the gratitude, and to follow an inspiration. 

I heard someone say recently, that usually the tough lessons are about the things we thought we had already worked through.  This listening thing is a lot like that – I already knew that in writing, you can hear your own wisdom, what you might call, your higher self speaking.  Now I am starting to realize that your higher self feels happy that you are listening. 

Lean into the listening.                                                                                                                        Enter where the outer life                                                                                                reverberates on an inner landscape.

Fall silent and still                                                                                                                             as the sacred sounds each note                                                                                                 along the memory of a life                                                                                                       longing to be lived.

Happy New Year—

What’s on the Inside? Twelve Steps to a Joyful Holiday


In my Waldorf training, I learned that years and years ago, this season was one of quiet spiritual reflection.  During the long nights and short days, one was encouraged to experience the inner light to which we are all connected.   We are all a composite of inner reflection and outer activity.  It is easy to get off balance and focus primarily on the outer, especially during the holidays.  So, as the holidays are upon us, I wrote down the practices that bring me back to gratitude and enjoyment during this season.  There are twelve of them, like the twelve days of Christmas or the twelve steps of a recovery program.

1. Sit down, notice your breathing and consider what a joyful holiday looks like and feels like for you.  For a few moments just notice your breathing.  Noticing your breath helps you become aware of your inner self, the invisible vibrancy of being. Begin to imagine a joyful holiday. 

 2. As old pictures of sadness, hurt or unrealistic expectations come up, let them go – release them to the earth (the earth loves to compost) or release them to God’s hands.  You might even write some of these down and then burn them in your own private ceremony or take them to share with a trusted friend, counselor or spiritual guide.

3.  Make a creative expression of your joyful holiday – Write down on paper the words that describe the inner and outer qualities you would like to experience.  Create a collage with pictures and words or write a paragraph describing the feelings and activities.  Give yourself poetic license; don’t worry about spelling, grammar, etc.  Your writing might turn into a story, poem or a sketch written by a child – it doesn’t matter. This is for you.  This activity allows your inner wisdom to speak to you.

4.  Place activities on a calendar, making sure you have breathing room between activities. Include items on the calendar that support the feelings of your joyful holiday.  For example, some of my words are warmth, love and peace.  Very simply, warmth can be a fragrant tea for warm moments alone or with loved ones.  Love comes from following the next few steps and peace comes from placing the items on the calendar like putting a music score on paper.  Making sure there is space between the notes, creates the melody.  

5.  Place some things on the calendar just for you.  A massage, walks in nature or a concert might fill your bucket so that you have joy to share with others.  “Love your neighbor as yourself” includes loving yourself.  Putting the oxygen mask on your self first makes sense.

6.  Be open to inspiration and flow.  The calendar is not carved in stone.  You can change your mind AND you can decide to do things when the mood hits.  My mother has some helpful philosophy regarding this – she says if you don’t get after yourself for the cluttered closet, you will wake up one morning in the mood to tackle it and it will just flow.

7.  Don’t “should” on yourself or others – your loved ones don’t have to like everything you like.  You can go to the concert alone or with a friend or with a different family member than the one you think “should” go with you.  The point is to create moments that embody the feelings of your joyful holiday. 

8.  Remember that all solutions don’t depend on you.  Allow others to do and have their part in holiday/household activities.  A four year old loves to set the table, an eight year old can clear the table before sitting down to do homework and a dad is a capable parent.

9.  Allow others the dignity to be responsible for themselves.  You might be an aid to your child’s homework, but it is her homework – you might have helped to pay for the present she gives to Daddy, but she can wrap it herself.   Do one of your own chores (folding laundry or doing the dishes) while your eight year old sits at the table with homework or wraps a present.    You are a calm support.  Breathe and believe in your heart that she is capable.  This builds self-esteem for her and also makes it possible for you to take a few moments at the end of the day to sit and breathe, rather than frantically doing chores. 

10. Give your attention to the moment.  If your joyful holiday includes making cookies with the kids, paying attention to kids as they measure, stir and create is the goal; not a plate of perfect looking cookies.  Turn off the TV, put down the video camera and the phone.  Breathe and let go of expectations. Another bit of my mother’s wisdom, “A clean house will be messy by the end of the day, your kids will grow up in a poof, so enjoy them now! 

11. At the end of each day, remember moments of joy.   Remember the look of your five-year old with the cookie dough, remember the hands of your eighty year old mother as she tied the ribbon, and remember the look of the sky as you took your walk.

12. Allow forgiveness to soothe your regrets and make gratitude your attitude.

I remember those Christmas candies that were jelly-filled.  They looked so great on the outside and to my young taste, not so good on the inside.  May these steps help us to pay some attention to the inside!  Have a joy-filled holiday –

Conditions Are Good


Conditions are Good

I stand

at the window

of the shop

waiting my turn

with the cashier.

 

Outside

the rain falls

in big drops

sparkling

on the sidewalk

and I wonder.

 

How is it

in my old age

that every kind of weather

has found a place

in me?

 

I call my granddaughter

to tell her

the conditions are good

for a rainbow.

 

Keep a lookout!