Hey everyone, just wanted to let you know I haven’t forgotten about this! I had an amazing time in San Francisco, an amazing time visiting family in Indiana, got to go to a friend’s wedding (with its own excitement!), and after a, well, amazing week and a half, I head home tomorrow. I will have an update with pictures later this week! (And hopefully early in the week!)

Wow, what an amazing past few days!  I posted a couple of pictures from my solstice celebration on Wednesday, although the photos only hint at what really happened.  No words can describe what transpired, or what I experienced, but I can say that it was one of the most spiritually empowered experiences I’ve ever had.  It felt so good to reconnect with God on such a deep level, to acknowledge all of His creation and the presence of His spirit in every thing on earth, to express gratitude for what I have and where my life is right now, to ask for guidance and the wisdom to recognize the messages He has for me regardless of where they come from, spending some time in deep meditation and feeling His energy moving through me.  All of that, and still there are no words for the experience.  Now I am trying to continue to draw that energy and flow with daily life.  I won’t lie — it isn’t easy, but it is necessary to keep myself grounded without being buried.

I will be leaving in a few days for a business trip to San Francisco.  I’m so excited to spend time in a city I’ve never visited, hanging out with a good friend that I don’t get to see very often, and to learn a few things as well (I will always be a nerd at heart).  After that I will be traveling to visit my grandmother in Indiana and spend time with that side of my family.  I only wish I had more than a week — it never feels like enough.  But it will be wonderful, and the short vacation will be a much-needed relief.

Debra continues to improve.  I will be going to visit today (hopefully) and it will be so wonderful to see her smiling face again.  To help raise money for her medical bills, I have created an art piece and am selling prints in my Etsy shop.  They are $30 each, and all of the profit will be going to help cover her expenses.  There will only be 20 of these prints and they are selling pretty quickly, so if you would like to order one, they are listed in my Etsy shop (link on the left — it’s Mouseprints Studio).

Finally, the summer SouLodge class starts soon, and registration will be closing in the next couple of days.  Believe me when I say that this is a truly life-changing experience.  You will leave the course with a new outlook on life, with more confidence and a better understanding of yourself.  I am thoroughly enjoying the current mini-session and cannot wait to start the summer class in July.  You can find a link to the website to the left of my blog.  Trust me — if you have any doubts, just go for it. You will be so happy you did.

 

TRANSFORM: a mixed-media piece inspired by Debra’s amazing strength and courage.

Some things cannot be described, only experienced.  God is powerful.  God is in all, around all.  There is not a living thing on the planet that does not contain His spirit.  His messages are all around to those who are open to listening.

Aho.

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Wow, what a crazy past couple of weeks!  So sorry to not have updated sooner, but life has been a whirlwind for a little bit.

First off:  I mentioned in my last post about a friend that was in need of prayer.  Here is the story on her.  On May 27th, Debra went into the hospital for an emergency c-section, during which a healthy but premature baby girl was delivered.  Debra, however, continued to bleed for 12 hours before finally being life-flighted to a hospital that could do the surgery necessary to save her life.  At one point, her heart stopped and her family was warned that she would likely be brain-damaged if she awoke.  They were also warned that she was not likely to survive the flight.  However, she overcame both of those odds, and for the next few days faced a multitude of challenges that ultimately resulted in the loss of her spleen and 90% of her intestines, something that required countless surgeries with slim survival odds.  Her entire body blood volume was replaced 12 times and her kidneys shut down.  Miraculously, she survived and is beginning to recover.  She is still on dialysis but she is eating solid foods and has been able to hold her baby.  She has also been moved out of ICU. She is an amazingly strong woman who has overcome some of the worst odds known, but the medical bills her family now faces are staggering.  As a result, I have created a piece of art inspired by her amazing fight.  Prints are available in my Etsy shop (linked on the left), and all of the profit from every print sold will be donated to her family to help offset the medical costs.

SouLodge is once again going strong.  I am currently halfway through the Summer Solstice mini-course and am preparing to celebrate the solstice tonight.  I am looking forward to spending some time meditating out in nature and sitting under the sun on the longest day of the year.  Nothing spectacular, but incredibly spiritual and I am so honored to have been brought to this tradition.  The summer class is right around the corner, so if you would like to learn more or sign up, follow the link on the left side of my page and check it out!  It is a life-changing experience, and you will not regret it.

I will do my best to update more regularly.  I head out to San Francisco next week for a veterinary conference, which is exciting in itself, but I get to spend time catching up with a dear friend.  After that I will be flying out to visit my grandmother in Indiana as well as attending another dear friend’s wedding.  So the whirlwind continues, but maybe next time I’ll have some pictures to share.

*Note: this post was written in advance, scheduled to be published today. In light of the significance of today for me, I am leaving it as it stands, but I do ask for anyone who reads this to please keep my friend Debra in your thoughts and prayers. I will write more on the subject later, but she is currently in the hospital in critical condition.

Four years ago today, my mom woke me up by saying, “Now I don’t want you to worry, but it’s raining.” The reason for any worry was that in 8 hours, I was supposed to be getting married…outdoors. And it wasn’t just a rain, it was a full “can’t-see-your-neighbors-houses” monsoon that only Oklahoma could produce.* So naturally, I did the best logical thing — looked up at the ceiling and told God that if it didn’t quit raining by the afternoon, we were having words when I got up to Heaven. Well, it worked, because it quit raining later that morning and turned into a bright, sunny afternoon. Complete with temperatures pushing 1000 degrees Kelvin** and humidity reaching a bajillion percent.*** The showers had turned the seating into a muddy mushy mess, and the arch under which we would stand was in a flooding low spot, forcing the groomsmen to go shopping for Astro-turf. The ceremony itself was beautiful, if not short, followed by the cake-cutting before the icing melted. The reception was great and fun and of course would only be interrupted by the tornado that decided to visit the next county over. Oh, and let’s not forget the bee that decided to attack my bridesmaids through the entire 10 minutes of the ceremony. (They totally get credit for not running away screaming.)

This is why my wedding is frequently cited for “reasons to not get married outdoors.”

Even with the bee and the high temperatures, it still took four years for it to click that it may not have been the best idea to get smart with a deity known for sending plagues of locusts and making people wander in the desert for 40 years.

Happy anniversary to my husband, the most amazing man who gets all the credit in the world for putting up with a woman who can make even God facepalm.

*Might be a slight exaggeration.
**Absolutely not an exaggeration.
***This either.

Wow! Such a busy two weeks for me! Balancing work, art classes, and other life, I have been running nonstop this week. SouLodge is officially over, and I could not be happier that I was a part of that. I feel so renewed, so much better than before, having a deeper understanding of self and a greater respect and appreciation for who I am right now, not who I could be, who I was, or what I am. Even though it is over for now, I am hoping to continue on the path I have set for myself and continue to use and incorporate the lessons I have learned into what lies before me.

Abundant Wild Life is in full swing. Week 2 is over, and I am loving this class! I have learned several techniques using India ink, a medium I have never experimented with before. Needless to say, I definitely have a new style that I am having so much fun with, one that will likely remain a lasting component of my artistic toolkit. I wound up a bit behind, with everything else this week, so I used part of Sunday catching up and working with the new assignments and process-builders, and I could easily see myself spending hours just playing with ink. Such a fun technique!

21 Secrets is finally starting to seem less daunting. I have completed 2 workshops and am working my way through a third. I’m sending quite a bit of time and energy on this one, Taming the Critic, since that’s one of my biggest challenges with art. So far, it has been fantastic, and this coupled with what I have learned in AWL and SouLodge, I finally feel like I am relaxing a bit, not only in art, but in life as well.

However, the biggest reason that I have been a bit behind is that one of my very best friends got married this past weekend! I was so honored to have been a part of her big day, and (no surprise) she looked absolutely stunning. It was such a beautiful day, and it was so obvious just how in love they are. I am so excited to help them start their life together and can’t wait to see where the journey takes them.

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I have to admit, I’m not much of a summer girl. I tend to overheat very easily, and with the humidity in in Oklahoma, it’s not hard to do once the temperature gets close to triple digits. Still, I love the activities that take place during the summer; the fresh produce, swimming, camping, the summer holidays, all of the things that make summer, well, summer. It’s not that I don’t enjoy participating, but I could do with a bit cooler weather (and a lot less humidity).

So, despite the fact that thermometer is pushing 80 right now and it’s not even 11am, I’m still in a fantastic mood. Why? Because today was opening day at the Farmer’s Market. Granted, ours is small compared to others, but it’s always so much fun to go and see all the yummy produce, local honey, baked goods, and artisans that set up downtown. Ironically, most of what I wind up getting is food for my guinea pigs (who get spoiled every summer with fresh veggies), but they have lots of stuff for me too. There is one lady who bakes all sorts of European breads, and I can’t walk away without getting something from her. Plus, all the locally raised beef, eggs, and others that can stock my freezer for awhile. And of course, the local artists who have taken on a more prominent role this year. My dear friend was out there with her jewelry that she makes, there was a woodwork stand, fabric goods, and lots of bath stuff (soaps, salts, potpourri) which always makes me a little weak. Plus, the locally grown honey…….I’ll admit I have a bit of an addiction to honey, especially the local stuff (seriously, you try it once you will never buy honey from the store ever again). So I was very proud of myself for only walking out with one loaf of bread, some eggs, a cinnamon roll and coffee for breakfast, a necklace and earrings from my friend, and a tote full of fresh veggies to divide between my piggies and my dad’s bunny. (Although, I would have totally walked out with some soap if I hadn’t just bought some from the gal at the Earth Day festival.) All in all, a good morning, and I still made it to work in an hour.

Now if I can just get some camping in…

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SouLodge: entering the final two weeks, this week is the last of the medicine wheel. I had no idea what to expect when I signed up for this course, but there truly are no words for how incredible it is. If you are seeking to understand yourself better, connect with nature, explore the spiritual realm, or simply want a sanctuary away from the rigors of daily life, you need to look into this. The summer session is still a few months away, giving you plenty of time to decide. I highly recommend this to anyone and everyone who seeks a quiet spiritual place.

Abundant Wild Life started yesterday. This one promises to be more rigorous than any other class, with different prompts and exercises daily. Still, these don’t take a great deal of time, so it isn’t overwhelming by any means. The best part is that so far, the exercises have simply been about being centered and rooted, just exploring your heart and the world around you. Still too early for me to comment more, but so far it is promising to be an amazing adventure.

21 Secrets: FINALLY picked a workshop to start with. It’s been fun getting into the creative playground, getting messy, and not worrying about details or perfection. Sometimes it’s simply about the process, rather than the final product. I’m excited to continue in these workshops. For anyone interested in learning from lots of different people all in one place, this is for you. The cost is well worth it, and having so much time and the freedom to explore at your own pace is awesome.

With everything going on, my posts will likely be brief, but hopefully you can get some experience of what I am learning from all of this.

Until next time…

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I’m halfway through the spring session of SouLodge, and I’ve already signed up for the summer class. It’s been truly amazing for me, the journaling prompts, the weekly check-in worksheets, all have helped me to unravel things that I hadn’t even thought about, layers of myself that I didn’t know were hidden. The projects have been so much fun as well, but the best part about them is that they have felt therapeutic. I don’t know if it’s simply the act of making something by hand or what, but I spent most of Sunday working on my medicine pouch, and after it was completed, I just felt so much lighter and happier.

As this class wraps up, I’ll be starting the next one, and from what I can tell, this one is more geared to the art itself, to trying new techniques and discovering what your personal style is. I’m excited for that one as well, mainly to try new mediums and discover new techniques (ok, really any techniques). The two seem to be perfectly ordered, from helping me better understand myself and open up my creative channels moving directly into methods of using that creativity.

21 Secrets has officially started, and I have thrown myself head first into…well, trying to decide which class to take first! It runs through the end of the year, and everything is arranged to fit into your schedule, so I’m not in any danger of losing anything immediately, but I still need to just pick somewhere and start something. I have a feeling that once I find a place to start, it will just take off and have a life of its own. I’m spending too much time wrapped up in where to start that, if I’m not careful, I’ll run out of time and still be trying to decide where to begin. Ah, the story of my life.

And now, a product of all my hard journeys:

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So much of our lives is spent trying to fill the voids in others, in turn expecting others to fill the voids within ourselves. At the end of the day, we feel exhausted, empty, lacking from holes that weren’t filled. The sad thing is that we cannot be all things to all people. In fact, we can’t even be all things to one person. No matter how hard we try, we will never be able to fill the voids that others have in their souls. And no one will ever be able to fill the voids in ours. Only we are capable of repairing our hearts, of healing our souls, of filling the voids and making ourselves whole. The problem is, the more time and energy we spend trying to fill others’ voids, the less we have available to fill our own. Eventually, we are empty, standing there will nothing left to give to anyone, let alone ourselves — and yet others still aren’t satisfied. No matter how many voids we fill, there will be new ones that arise, and the more we fill another person’s, the more they expect us to continue to fill those openings. The more other people fill our voids, the more we expect them to fill the new ones that arise. It sets up a vicious cycle of sucking the life out of other people in order to replace the life that has been sucked out of us,

What would happen if everyone filled their own voids first? What would happen if, for one brief period of time, everyone made themselves whole? So much more would be available to give to others without giving anything of ourselves. Think about it — fill the cup up, and anything after that can fill other cups without emptying the one that has just been filled. But if we are continuously emptying our glasses into other people’s, then no glasses will ever be full. I remember watching a rather cheesy teenage movie one day when nothing else was on and studying had lost interest after 6 straight hours — one line that I remembered above all others was this (paraphrased): “you can always make more love.” In other words, you can love a person without taking any love away from another. Yet we never apply this to ourselves. We believe ourselves unworthy of such love, or are made to feel guilty for even thinking about doing anything for ourselves when there are so many “more deserving” people who need us first. We are taught it is the moral, religious, spiritual, ethical thing to put others before ourselves, to consider another’s needs to be more important than our own. This does absolutely no good for anyone, for once we run out of ourselves to give, we realize that we can never meet the need of the world. So we are left broken, beaten, dejected, lonely, depressed, and all around just utterly hopeless as we succumb to the reality that we cannot do it all. And until we begin to put ourselves first, to repair the brokenness that is left at the end, we will never be able to give ourselves to anyone. We cannot give away what we do not possess.

We must learn to take care of ourselves. We must learn to listen to our hearts, to hear what is broken and empty, to fill it up ourselves, rather than trying to decipher what others expect us to fill for them. Once we are made whole, everything after that becomes extra that can be poured out into the world. We give to others without taking away from anyone, including ourselves, and we become able to do so much more than before.

Will I take my own advice? Probably not. It’s a hard cycle to break. It takes courage and strength to stand up and say, “I can no longer fill you.” It takes guts to tell someone that you will not put them ahead of yourself, to say that your needs come first, to say that you must heal yourself before you can reach out to heal others. You will be called selfish, lazy, worthless, slovenly, greedy, and many other horrible things as others try to make you feel guilty for wanting to be whole again. You will burn bridges, destroy relationships, lose social positions, and alienate yourself from those who do not understand. It can seriously affect your life, and it will be tempting to run back into the comforting arms of the known, even if it means losing your very soul to the people who will never be satisfied with what you give to them. And you may not be ready now. It may not be your time. He soul must be prepared to take such a leap, and even little steps to build it back up will prepare it for the ultimate test. Restoring the soul isn’t something that must be done all at once, nor is it a one-time fix. It is a constant process, for no matter how important it is to restore ourselves, we will never stop giving to others. At times, we will find ourselves giving more to others than we give to ourselves, and we must start to restore the balance. Still, it requires saying “no” to people who aren’t accustomed to hearing that, turning down things that we want to do for others, stepping back from the rigor of life to simply be still in the moment, to breathe in rejuvenating life back into our hearts. And every step, no matter how small, is important.

We can be healed. We deserve to be whole.