Animals: To the Rescue!

(c) Adair Heitmann 2022

In 2019 I had a nighttime dream in which whales metaphorically foretold a health crisis that I would survive in 2021. Their wisdom helped me weather a very trying and scary time because I knew to trust their guidance. I’ve been connecting to spirit animals in my dreams and in waking life all my life. They’ve never steered me wrong.

Last year I was so sick and the medical treatments so severe that I had to take a medical leave of absence from work. Due to the severity of the treatment’s side effects, I had about 5.5 non-consecutive hours a month (that’s right — 5.5 hours per month, non-consecutive) when I had functioning brain cells and a modicum of energy. I called it my “one week a month when I came up for air,” for about an hour each day for a period of about one week.

During my long stretches of down time, when I could focus, I had a lot of time to think. When I thought about what I wanted to do when I came up for air, once a month, I thought “Do more of what makes me happy.” When I thought about this I pondered . . . writing makes me happy.

Serendipity played a hand one day, while I had brain cells I was randomly scrolling though LinkedIn, and along came a call for writers from Sacred Stories Media about its upcoming book by world-renowned author, teacher, shamanic practitioner, and licensed psychotherapist, Dr. Steven Farmer, ANIMALS: Personal Tales of Encounters with Spirit Animals. The publishing company’s call was “Have You Had a Mystical Experience with Spirit?” Well, yes, I have.

The Common Sentience book series is a first-of-its-kind series that brings to the fore and celebrates mystical experiences we have. Every book is anchored by a Featured Author (Dr. Steven Farmer for the ANIMALS book) who is a eminent thought leader on the book’s topic. These teachers share both their personal stories and deep knowledge in chapters throughout the book, along with selected contributing authors. Sacred Stories Media asked people to share their true, compelling personal stories of a direct interaction with a Spirit Animal. The story that immediately bubbled up from deep within me was an experience I had with gray whales in 1988 and how they helped me overcome fear on the Pacific Ocean outside of Tofino, on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

Over the next weeks, whenever I had a few brain cells available I jotted down my memories of that profound experience. Over time my briefly drafted word sketches grew into the whole true story. During my few hours each month in which I had energy and brain power I stitched all the pieces together and I felt happy writing it. The deadline loomed. I knew I had gotten the story as good as I could. I submitted it to the publishing company for consideration and went back to sleep.

Needless to say, when I learned my story was accepted I was delighted! I am now counting down to the book launch date of January 11, 2022.

Part of the back cover states: “Experience how these spiritual allies can guard, aid, heal, and guide you in the most unexpected and delightful ways.” I’m proud that out of the 35 selected sacred storytellers that my story is one of the highlighted six on the back cover! You can find my story on page 133, “Overcoming Fear With Help From the Whales.”

Best U.S. Book Links to Use:
ANIMALS is available worldwide. If you live outside the U.S. please look up the book on your favorite retailer site.
A shortened Amazon link is – https://bit.ly/cs_animals
A shortened Barnes and Noble link is – https://bit.ly/cs_animals_bn

Creativity and wellness message for today: Allow yourself to to guided by the intelligence of animals and the power of nature.

Hope

Shell by Adair Heitmann

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”

-Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things

Creativity and wellness message for today: Delight in hidden messages and the blessings of small things.

Creative Ideas: Inquire Within

Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall

I first discovered the painter, European modernist  Marc Chagall (1887 – 1985) when I was a wide-eyed, feisty young art student at Syracuse University. Chagall was a multi-faceted artist working in paint and stained glass, producing windows for the cathedrals of Rheims and Metz, windows for the UN, and the Jerusalem Windows in Israel. Chagall also created large-scale paintings, including part of the ceiling of the Paris Opéra. I also am a multi-faceted artist. His work showed me it was okay to explore in many different mediums.

In college, it was a printmaking professor, a substitute teacher for one day, who introduced me to Chagall’s paintings. Instead of instructing us on the techniques of intaglio or etching, my teacher told us to keep a dream journal – a log of our nighttime dreams. When asked why, she answered, “Marc Chagall used his dreams for subject matter.” I’ve been writing down my dreams ever since. Not only have I written them down, they’ve integrated themselves into my art, and I’ve relied on their wisdom to guide my waking life.

Years later, as a still feisty, veteran artist, I know art and dreams are cut from a similar fabric. They both involve surrender, trust, and insight.

“Art seems to me to be a state of soul more than anything else.”
-Marc Chagall

Creativity and wellness message for today: Find your own intersection of art and dreams.

The Truth About Nighttime Dreams

IMG_1367I’ve been following the wisdom of my nighttime dreams for decades. Guidance from that knowledge has been like a tiller in my hand, helping me steer the sailboat of my life.

Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright, screenwriter, and novelist, Marsha Norman says:

“Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”

So true!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Write down what was in your dream last night. Don’t edit, just write it down. Then be open to how that one act might help you set the course of your day (or your life.)

This I Believe

It’s a snowy day here in New England. I have a few minutes before I head out to work so I’ll share some cross-pollination news with you. Have you heard of the international project, “This I Believe?” It started in the 1950’s and since then has engaged people in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values that guide their daily lives. I’ve listened to it on NPR for years, and I’ve often heard my quiet voice say I’d like to do that. Last summer I got my wish in a very creative way.

An invitation came from the Unitarian Church in Westport, for speakers to contribute to a lay-led service filled with closely held convictions and jazz. How could I resist? I spent several weeks and many drafts creating my essay. My writing critique group inspired me to strip away the layers until I got to the heart of my message, and members of the church committee guided me to clarity. The results were that I gave back to my community; met new, bright and articulate people; modelled for my critique group that writing can take a long time; and after a few minor changes, I submitted my essay to “This I Believe.”

Five months later I heard back from the international project — my essay “I Believe in Dreams” was selected for the permanent collection.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Just do it. Show up for your life and the rest will follow.

Dreams: Snakes, eels and me . . . oh my!

You may be asking right about now, “What do snakes and eels, of all things, have to do with being creative and how the heck do they relate to wellness?” Dreams, my dear Watson, dreams. Our nighttime dreams hold the wisdom of our souls. They offer us the equivalent of decades worth of free psychotherapy in our lifetimes. As a dreamer and as an educator about the wonderful world of dreams, I have learned over the years to trust in my dream imagery 100%. Dreams provide us with an uncensored window into our waking life. Knowledge garnered from nighttime dreams actually helps me create the life I love.

Recently snakes and eels have shown up in my dreams. Their appearance helps anchor me in my own symbolic mythology. In everyday life I may shutter or jump at the sight of a snake, but in my dreams I receive the emotion that is in the dream, without editing it. Using the art of metaphor, I glean my dream’s message. It’s like unraveling a ball of yarn, tugging at possible interpretations until one feels right.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Listen to your nighttime dreams. Refrain from judging your own symbolism. Let your nighttime dreams speak to you in their unique language of colors, animals, and intricate texture–your waking life will be richer for it.