Healing In Love

Narcissism vs. Self-Love

We live in a culture steeped in selfishness. Narcissism is really about getting your needs met off of the backs and energy of other people. It is an issue starting when someone does not learn to get their needs met in healthy ways. It gets tough to discern due to seeing so many examples of people being self-serving or harming others to get their way. 

For me LOVE is the difference. As many of us found out early on, you can get in great shape, have designer jeans, and frequent the salon and be completely miserable within.  It is not about what others think of us or how we compare to them either because these feelings are rooted in inadequacy. We take care of ourselves or really “control” our outward appearances due to deep insecurities and fear that we will not fit in. What is at the deep heart of the issue is really a longing for feeling loved. 

Many of us go in search of relationships believing that we will find love. Often we become disillusioned and confused when what we actually get is a struggle and added feelings of inadequacy and/or insecurity. I like to think of this position as being in a pool of water that feels a bit tainted. We struggle with changing our relationship patterns and even go from one disappointing relationship to the next. 

If someone promised you there was a way out that involved healing and refuge would you take it? Imagine a bridge between the that tainted water into a clear, clean, crisp water that you desire. You just need to intentionally step out of the water and up onto the bridge. The place of safety and healing. This bridge symbolizes self-love–self-nurture. True feelings of love for yourself. We are talking deep love. There is no cheating, abusing, and hating allowed. You can’t tell yourself that you hate a part of your body and be living in this state. You can’t put yourself in compromising or unhealthy situations over and over again and be living in love for yourself. 

The bridge is a place where you provide yourself mind, heart, body, and soul with your deepest needs of nurturing, kindness, compassion, empathy, etc. When you have a need of romance, you bring yourself flowers or draw yourself a bubble bath. You don’t get angry that someone else is failing to do this for you. You provide for your needs. You are responsible for your state. You know deep down when you are living in full love of yourself. These feelings of respect and nurture for yourself sets the stage for others to treat you similarly. It also fosters feelings of nurturing, compassion, empathy, and kindness for others. You feel more loving and more lovable. You ARE more loving and you ARE more lovable. 

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CREATIVITY and Self-Love 

The practice of creativity is also found on the bridge. It is where many artists find themselves with a mirror looking at their truth. Unable to hide behind denial. Self-expression assists us with our authenticity. We learn things about ourselves. We dredge up our skeletons not always meaning to. Some of us through them back in the tainted pool, but as Clarissa Estés taught us, Skeleton Woman comes up to teach us a beautiful lesson and truth about our vulnerability and fear of being cast away. We learn about  our depths and our shadows. Art can show us our shadows. We need not be afraid of the shadows if we are willing to embrace them as the fisherman embraced Skeleton Woman. We must learn to acknowledge the shadows and only then do we learn the true power of using light. As the painter uses the contrasts of shadows and lights depths emerge in their work. Those parts of ourselves that we use terms such as that we would like to erase, cut off, forget are exactly what makes us interesting and beautiful. Those shadow parts are the parts of us that need the most love. Just as Skeleton woman drank the tear of compassion of the fisherman which began her renewal, we too can provide that love to our most tender and hurt areas of our minds, bodies, hearts, and souls.

Love Letter Manifesto

My Artistic & Personal Promise

I promise that I will always be truthful with kindness. Believe it or not, I can sense when people truthfully want to know what I think, and at that moment I will share my thoughts and feelings (as long as I am not bound to confidentiality). Otherwise, words are waisted on those without sincere intentions anyways, so I don’t see the point.

I promise that no matter how much I am pushed to do what others expect from me, that I will always follow my true north. I’m not asking for a challenge, but no matter how angry, pushy, or bossy people may become with me (though I may be so sad inside), I will follow my gut to do what I believe is right. Though I may be afraid and dislike negativity, please do not imagine me a coward. I almost always fiercely protect the underdog. If you perceive that I am not protecting you, you most likely are much more powerful than you are taking credit for and in that case, are able to take care of yourself (however, please never believe that I don’t love you).

I promise to love humanity no matter how I am treated. I will always do my best to believe in the best of others and I hope that goodwill will be returned to me as well. I know that we are all doing the best with what we have. All of us are striving to get our needs met one way or another.

I promise to spend my life exposing evil and darkness by drawing myself and others to the light. I will also do my best to be a beacon of light in all that I do. I will strive toward love even in all my brokenness and in all of my wholeness.

I hope that my art, my writing and my life reflect this endeavor.

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Seek… Explore… Uncover

Imagination…. The first word I remember making an impact on my soul. I was in first grade when Mrs. Joslin discussed its meaning. I knew at that moment that concept was magical, but soon found out that having an imagination may also be fleeting.

Imagination and originality are tied together. You hear brilliant scientists discuss the need for creativity. This may seem like a paradox because one seems to be rooted in reality while the other in fantasy, but to be creative, one must be open to new possibilities–uncharted waters. As I’ve studied fictional literature, I’ve learned that many stories are based off of actual experiences, dreams, and twists of the strange happenings in an author’s life. Characters based off of actual people with exaggerated qualities. The author makes a statement by focusing on aspects chosen to tell the story.

A couple years ago I took an oil painting class with a very talented painter who had concise precision executing minute details taking a photograph and painting that image onto a large canvas beautifully. She discouraged the abstract, stating that abstract art is much more difficult. I pondered that concept. Why would it be? My conclusion is because it was a skill that  many are not taught. We hear about using imagination, but how do we do that when we are many times trapped in a hard reality?

I’ve found that an excellent way of exercising visual imagination is through meditation as well as using your mind’s eye on a regular basis. We all have that visual projector within our mind, but many of us ignore it and dissociate. This leads to cutting a part of ourselves off that is vital to interesting art and interesting experiences in life. Using our visualization skills helps put our creative voice into our work.

SeekExploreUncover

“Fearless”

Delve. 

Trust.

Seek. Explore. Uncover. 

Creative Detox: Days 3-10

DAY Three: Being Mindful of You- Your Personal Creativity.

Wear something orange today. Practice Self-Care for your inner artist & creative life force. Take your artist on a special outing. Pamper your artist. What have you been depriving your creative child of? Does your child need a trip to a museum, to the art store, to a concert, to the music store? Do you need to pamper yourself? How does a massage sound? Have you tried a Reiki energy session? How about a pedicure?  These are great for both men and woman. There is something very refreshing and revitalizing about having your feet cleansed and cared for. Remember this date is solo. No tag alongs allowed. Keep drinking plenty of fresh water and eating as healthful as you are able.

DAY Four: Being Mindful of You in Your Environment- 

Wear something yellow today.  Organize, simplify. Practice de-cluttering your space & clarity in your body language. Clear out your creative or daily living space. Try a yoga routine (youtube is a great resource for just about anything).  Stretch your muscles. Stand up tall. Uncross your arms and legs. Raise your arms above your head and breath deeply. Become aware of the space and energy around your body. Own your space. Make sure that you have an area set aside for your creative endeavors. This may be a spare room or your dining room table. Own it and make it specially your creative space. Continue with drinking water and eating healthy. Smile. Bring the sunshine indoors with your energy.

DAY Five: Being Mindful of Your Deepest Beliefs and Desires-

Wear something green today. Practice suspending judgment of what you should be and practice being open to what you truly believe. Practice being free. Self-Love and Compassion. Write a love letter to yourself. Tell you how much you’re appreciated. Do not allow any negative self-talk. Be grateful for what you have learned about your environment and your body so far. If you hear a lot of negative messages coming from your mind, turn each self criticism into a past challenge/lesson learned and consider possible positive future behavior and outcomes in regard to those challenges. Pay attention to hearts all day. Look for them around you in shapes and situations. Collect a symbol that reminds you to be gentle with you. Even better if is small enough to carry it in your pocket. Spend time in your creative space. Continue drinking lots of water, healthful foods, and moving your body in gentle exercise. Be open to receiving the love around you.

DAY Six: Being Mindful of Your Feelings & Intentions Toward Others-

Wear something pink today. Practicing Compassion & Love for Others. Send forgiveness out to anyone who you need to for. Write letters of love and forgiveness to their wise selves. Find a wooden box to place them in. Let go of all anger and blame. Spend the day allowing people to have a fresh start with you. Let go of past judgement and attempt to feel what they are saying with their heart. Do their words match their body language? Practice being Free. Say a prayer or send positive feelings out to the world. Ask for peace in peoples’ hearts. Do a secret random act of kindness. Take special care of your needs today while caring for others. Make sure that you eat well, drink your water and move your body. A good thing to remember is that the source of love is all around you. When you send it out, there is no way for you to become depleted. It is a from an abundant never ending source.

DAY Seven: Being Mindful of Your Thoughts & Behaviors –

Wear something light blue. Practice speaking your truth and being authentically you. Do you have a favorite song? Turn it up and sing along. Is there a message that you feel passionate about? Imagine that you were a life mentor for a youth you knew would some day be an important leader. You have the chance to impart 3 important points of wisdom with that youth in a letter. What would those points be? Remember the lessons you learned in day six and seven. Do this with love, forgiveness and good will for you and others. Journal today. Consider sharing your writing with someone you can trust for support and discussion. As with the other days, take especially good care of your body.

DAY Eight: Being Mindful of Connection- Meditation, Visualization & Madalla

Wear something deep blue. Practice connecting with your mind’s eye. Clear the chatter of your mind so that you can see what your imagination is trying to tell you. Meditate for 20 minutes today. Find a quite place away from interruptions and distractions.Sit back in a comfortable chair, take ten deep breaths. Breath deeply into your lower stomach, hold it for a few seconds and exhale slowly. As you exhale let go of your thoughts and tension. Soften your muscles. Soften your body. Soften your mind. See a bright light coming into your softened forehead. Let that light be your focal point as you maintain your softened state. There is nothing for you to do. Just be in a state of receiving. After your allotted time has elapsed in this position, gently come back to awareness of your body. How do you feel?

Create a mandalla with color pens or pencils that describing your experience. Refrain from using words.

DAY Nine: Being Mindful of Your Knowing-

Wear something violet today. Practice listening to your inner “knowing.” Some people call this your higher self. Some people call this your conscience or sprit self. Write down a piece of wisdom that your this self is telling you. Record this in your journal or on a special piece of stationary. Mail it to yourself. Keep this in a special place next to where you sleep. Thank this part of yourself for being there and patient with you. Follow this piece of wisdom all day long.

Day Ten-Being Mindful of Your Connection with the Heavens – 

Wear something gold today. While staying grounded in activities you practiced in days 1-9, now draw your attention to your connection with the divine. Many people call this connection, their connection to God, angels, the heavens, the universe, and the cosmos. This connection is sometimes felt through warm golden light descending down through your body. Today, instead of trying to define or understand this with words or thoughts, let your body feel the connection through sense and warm feelings of that golden light.

Creative Detox 101- Day 2

Trees

Reflections of day 1: The day started off slow which was a much needed change. I slept in late (had the day off due to the holiday), and woke up naturally. I braided my hair and put together a comfortable outfit with comfortable tennis shoes that I could walk the woods in. Brown was my inspiration color. I headed up to Lake Merwin, one of the most secluded parks I know of which is also mostly unspoiled by man. On my way up I passed several log trucks. I couldn’t help but think of times when even putting the plow to the earth was considered a disruption. I wondered how much of this forest removal is actually necessary and how much is wasted. ‘Supply and demand,” I think.

As I get out of my car I feel almost trance-like. I know what to do. I walk the park and almost straight up to one of the largest standing cedars. It’s trunk must be 8-10 feet in diameter. I lay both of my hands on the trunk and close my eyes. I thank the tree. I thank the earth. I think to myself, ‘Surely God knows I thank Him as well for his creation.’ I stay there for several moments taking in the tree’s energy. I can see in my mind’s eye my own energy intertwined in an embrace. These words come to my mind.

Oh, beautiful sister

I hear your cry

My heart breaks

I’m sorry

Do we know what we do? 

No reverence. No regard. 

You’ve seen generation pass. 

Your strength. Your majesty. 

I hear you sister (your call for help). 

Please answer my question. What can I do? 

My answer was to start with being a voice. I was to trust in my journey.  I sat in the sun and felt the unusual warmth that February day. The wind blew strong enough to make noise and I realized that each element was present in that park. I wondered if that was part of the power I felt. My body drank it in. I remembered the task for one who hears the call of the mountain. ‘Bring home a stone.’  The rock I found was round and smooth. I wondered if it had washed up from the reservoir because of how smooth it had become.  I ended my fast later that evening with a kale salad and lentil curry soup. I remembered to thank Mother Earth in my blessing for the abundance provided through Father’s creation.

DAY TWO: Being Mindful of Your Body- Whole Foods & Moderate Exercise

Wear something red today. Dedicate the day to eating fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole foods. If you eat meat on this day, make sure that it was treated humanely (free range and organic).  I’d also suggest to save it for dinner time. Treat yourself to fruit and vegetable smoothies. Continue drinking plenty of water. Go for a walk. Move your body. Tell your body how much you love and appreciate it. Ask your body out loud if there is anything it wants from you. Write it down. Place it in an area you will see each day as you wake, prepare and set your intentions.

Creative Detox 101

With the coming of the New Year, many people set their resolutions to diet and exercise. I’ve heard a lot of criticism about this practice. What I’ve come to believe is that the word resolution has come to mean a complete change with no going back. Before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, it seems to me that we should take a look at how truly positive it is to stop, reflect, and reassess our path and goals to make sure we are still moving toward our purpose and vision. New Years may be one of my favorite times of year because I have developed a practice of mapping out my goals for the year. I have found this to be a great way to stay focused as well as a way to look back on my progress.

I also pondered why diet and exercise is always in people’s top resolutions year after year. I believe they are responding to what their bodies are asking for naturally. A time of cleansing out the old, unhealthy excess. They are desiring a new start. Even a fresh start. In fact, I would assert that we should do shorter spurts of these healthful activities until we are strong enough to make them life habits and patterns. Let’s not become discouraged that the healthy eating routine does not last for more than a couple of days. Believe me, your body thanks you for whatever health and wellbeing you are providing it with. Focus on that. Not on failing at your intention.

I believe those short spurts (maybe the best some people can give) are healing and act as a reset. Listening to those messages is healing. Your body is begging you. Don’t get discouraged-do take courage.

I believe your being is happening at many levels. You are a complex presence. Some say the human is like a machine, but that is an incomplete metaphor that although has interesting similarities, has shifted into an inaccurate paradigm on a societal level. I believe it is more like a echo-system. It has many living, intelligent facets working together affecting and relying each other. In fact, on an energetic level that system is interacting with the environment outside its body as well. Optimal system functioning encourages overall health and wellbeing.

Lately, we’ve been hearing the concept of detox or cleansing. What are the benefits of a detox? What are the benefits of a cleanse? Consider taking a bath. How do you feel once you have cleared away the old cells, dirt and bacteria from your skin. Consider how you feel when you have cleaned your environment. How do you feel in a clean space as opposed to one full of clutter and grime? Perhaps it is removing what is really not yours and/or no longer useful. Perhaps it is being able to discern what makes up you. Maybe that is why coming away “clean” feels so wonderful.

So, how would you like to feel clean and new on many levels? I created this 10 day creative detox for those specifically working on being more creative and connected with their personal creativity more fully. Many times, we practice creativity from a position of matching others styles-imitation. We learn by adopting from others techniques. We may not have sight of what is now ours. Even seasoned writers and artists feel confused at what is uniquely theirs. Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is learning to hide your sources.” Although, I revere his creative genius, I wonder if this quote is somehow taken out of context. We are each unique even though we are in many ways similar. Each of us has a unique voice and creative contribution that only we can offer.

This can be a challenge because we are all energetically connected with the earth, each other, and the heavens. Sometimes we are in hiding. We are afraid if people knew the true us we wouldn’t be accepted any longer. Perhaps we feel we’d lose our place in our family and even society. Other times, we just aren’t aware of what makes us uniquely us. This ten day work can help you become more aware of where those outside connections end and where you begin.

For the next 10 days I will be posting a detox focus and activity. Please let me know if you are following along and/or participating. I would love to hear your reflections and experiences.

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DAY ONE: Being Mindful of Your Connection with Earth

Wear something brown today. If you are in good health, start this day fasting from food. Wait until dinner to have your first meal. Drink plenty of fresh water. Go outside, breath in fresh air. Pick up rocks, seeds, moss, or something in nature. Place your feet upon the ground and imagine roots growing into the earth. How deep do they grow? Do you feel tingling or some other sensation in your feet? Bring a token/tokens home with you and place them in a sacred place. For your first meal, eat a meal free of meat and/or meat products. Make sure to plan your meal before so that this can be a special breaking of your fast.

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Insipid No More

December wraps up the twelfth chapter and 12 months of The Artist’s Way for this creative. I would only recommend completing a chapter a month if you are ready to have your world rocked. I heard other participating artists talking about needing to stop part way through the year due to blocks surfacing that they had never experienced before. This was true for me as well. Every fear, every block, every experience was intensified sometimes to the point of being too difficult to withstand. On the other hand, I have never accomplished so much, had so many breakthroughs, and been so much at home in my creative skin as I have in the last year. I really came into my own. Artist’s Dates evolved from outings into taking advantage of many live stream courses. Artist’s Pages evolved into long meditations clearing the mind’s negative self-talk/sabotage. Mediation lead to a peaceful and a more positive creative!

Chapter 12 is entitled Recovering a Sense of Faith. This chapter reminds us to trust in our Creator–trust that the Devine’s plan for us very well may be in line with our own deepest desires.

I pondered back on a time when I had told myself such a clever lie that I even deceived myself. I believed that my artistic and creative talents were lower than a true life purpose. What I mean is, I believed that I needed to be giving some sort of service (for the greater good) in order to be living my true purpose. I believed that my creative pursuits were self-centered and indulgent. I guess I hadn’t considered I could live a life of giving back while being an artist. I had always had a great eye for home decor and visual art. I felt that I would be swallowed up in materialism and worldliness if I dedicated my life to my creativity. Deep down, I had known that I had so much talent and desire to be an artist, but had talked myself out of it on so many levels. I even told myself that I didn’t want to do it as a living because it was too special to me and it would be ruined as a passion. When we take so much time to talk ourselves out of something so important, we should recognize this as the red flag it is. The further I got away from these gifts, the less I felt like me. The final nail in the coffin for me was when bought into the idea of finding a career based on making money.

This happened to be in healthcare. What was dangerous for me was that it was a hungry monster with a never ending need for service. Luckily, that is when I discovered The Artist’s Way. I was heading for a degree in social work to be a step in my goal to be a medical social worker (the highest paid in the field of social work). The course brought me back to my authentic self, so doing it for an entire year made perfect sense. It had become my self-care. I had found a mode of healing. Art, creativity, the process had become not about creating bodies of work. It had become feeling and being alive.

This year, I learned that God is in the details. He is there wanting you to live your life to the fullest. He wants you to be on fire with purpose and excitement for living. Cameron points out that we have this idea that spirituality is about living a life of scarcity.. never being given permission to be truly aligned with your hopes and dreams. As you learn to have faith that the universe has your back all the while practicing your spirituality and creativity, you find you grow. Your ability to give back increases. Your talent increases. Your reach increases. Learning a craft, an art, or a skill is bonus! There is so much to gain and so little to lose.

If you are ready for the most amazing adventure, make your creativity a priority. Make creativity a regular part of your life. This isn’t about being a professional artist. It is about being fully alive. Finding your soul’s truest expression. Honoring your spirit, your voice. Honoring life.

“Adventures don’t begin until you get into the forest. The first step is an act of faith.” -Mickey Hart

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This painting was created in Shiloh McLoud’s Awakened Woman live stream class. She teaches a visioning/intuitive/imagination process that is beautiful and empowering. “The Muse is the Voice of Your Soul.” -Shiloh McLoud.

Title: “Lady of Fire.” Going deep to talk with my muse.