The Weave of Life: An Ode to Friendship

There is something many of you may not know about me and that is I am private about death and loss. My personal experiences are mine and I honor them and deal with them behind the scenes. This last year has been filled with loss for me. The unexpected, untimely, and multiple deaths of friends, co-workers, and family has sent me reeling at times for shelter under the closest rock. Yet, each day I’ve put one foot in front of the other to carry on. I also know many of you have lost loved ones this past year.

Last week a friend created a casual gathering to remember two close friends who passed away within a few weeks of each other in 2017. During our times of reminiscing and afterwards I realized the profound value the friends who are left standing hold for each other.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
– Henri J.M. Nouwen

Creativity and wellness message for today: Remember the fabric of life holds many strands. When one is lost others remain or are woven anew.

Time Management: For Creative People

time_for_creativesI’ve been writing a newsletter, under tight time frames for my company. Deadlines loomed, stress mounted, and nerves frayed. As anxiety increased I wasn’t sure I’d meet my deadlines and this made me even more nervous.

Then I remembered that time management for creative people isn’t rigid and linear. For creative types time is fluid, priorities are in contact flux. Once I became aware of this I remembered a philosophical point from my meditation practice, “follow the energy.”

When I followed what interested me, where my passion led me, that inspired a new direction for the newsletter, and the whole thing came together. The theme became clear, my work was productive and my deadline was met.

Creativity and wellness message for today: To maximize your skills, remember that time isn’t the thing to be managed, its our awareness.

You’ve Finished Your Novel, What Now?

AjahnChahYour project, artwork, memoir, essay, is done. The beginning, middle, and end of your creative process complete. What’s next?

How often have you jumped into the next project immediately? Or started developing your writing platform for publicity before your computer has even cooled down? I admit, I’m guilty.

What helps me focus on the transition time is something I’ve learned as a long-time practitioner of the art of meditation. I’ve learned to exhale, stop, and be present in the moment. Completing a project, especially one that has taken me a long time to finish, has its own sense of fulfillment and timing. Many inventive projects are fraught with unsettling feelings accompanied by ups and downs of exhilaration, despair, and ecstasy.

This morning I’m reminded of the following quote by a Thai meditation teacher.

Do not try to become anything.
Do not make yourself into anything.
Do not be a meditator.
Do not become enlightened.
When you sit, let it be.
What you walk, let it be.
Grasp at nothing.
Resist nothing.
– Ajahn Chah

Creativity and wellness message for today: Embrace who, what, and where you are, right now.

Bringing It All Together

In the Women’s Center of a local college there sat a group of women, similar, yet different. Courageous women who were all breast cancer survivors. My program for them was “Guided Meditation for Insight and Joy.” After we shared a bite to eat and lots of hearty humor we moved into the evening’s event. I gave a brief introduction on meditation then led the group through three customized guided imagery exercises.

The room calmed as the women released stress and anxiety, and the green plants lining the window sill seemed to perk up. Each person tried something new and reaped the benefits. Some comments after the program included: “soothing; relaxing (x4); peaceful; personal; interesting; nice . . . how nice; reflective; time you give yourself.”

I congratulate The Breast Cancer Survival Center which offers unique programs throughout the year. Their founder Susan Santangelo epitomizes living life to the fullest. The women in attendance had endured trauma, fear, and loss as well as recovery, transformation and joy.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Healing is creating an environment in which your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional bodies can integrate.

Share Your Gift

Last Monday night I saw a fabulous Native American Storyteller. Tchin was mesmerizing and engaging. His sonorous voice, coupled with his graceful dramatic flair only deepened the quality of his performance. During his program I heard that stories are really “lessons” and that “words are sacred.” Tchin played a variety of traditional flutes and I learned that the flute pre-dates the drum. I was transported by the sound and quality of his music to a place of inner connection, as if I had just come out of a long meditation.

Tchin’s program was filled with Narragansett and Blackfoot traditions and humor. He is living proof that you can be an artist, educator, musician, flutemaker, folklorist, entertainer, clothes maker, jewelry designer and be nationally known and award-winning. Tchin demonstrates for people of all ages that you don’t have to live inside the box of how other people may label you. You can be all that you are and show it.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Connect with all the facets of your creative self, then share those gifts with the world.

Cross-pollination in 2010

Many years ago when I was the Founder and Director of The Center for Creativity & Wellness, I had a collaborative professional relationship with three psychotherapists. Each of our strengths was different. One of us was a therapist who specialized in substance abuse and recovery, another was a marriage and family therapist who also led Sacred Circle Dances, and a third was a therapist who was a practitioner of shamanism. I provided the healing arts of natural energy healing, dreamwork, and meditation for my clients and students. Our professional foursome published quarterly newsletters, and mailed them as a unit to our clients. We called our multi-pronged marketing “cross-pollination.”

We embraced our diversity and that attitude served us, and our clients well. Potential clients were introduced, in very user-friendly ways, to new modalities of healing and personal development. This collaborative approach can be applied in any business or walk of life.

Creativity and wellness message for today: For 2010 plant the seed of fertilization in your life. Veer off the beaten path, touch down on a new flower, try something that you haven’t done before. Let the vitality of cross-pollination be your guide.

Guided Imagery

As many of my readers know I write a new post for this blog once a week. Last night I had the privilege of leading a workshop on “Guided Imagery for Comfort and Inspiration” to a courageous group of women survivors. Everyone had come after a long day of commuting, work and other responsibilities. I first taught the group how to release the tensions from their day. Then I explained that in guided imagery meditation the practitioner is in complete control. She can use all of her senses–touch, smell, taste, sound, intuition as well as the visual sense, in meditation. I shared the most important piece of holistic advice I know, which is to let go of  judgement of self and of others. Most of the rapt audience readily accepted the option of not editing their own imaginations. Others learned at the end of the workshop about this benefit.

Each particpant had an opportunity to experience three unique guided meditations that I had created just for them. As the program drew to a close I asked the group to say one word out-loud that described what they would take away from the workshop. Words like “peace,” “hope,” and “love,” quietly tumbled out of soft mouths. Other words such as “guidance,” “quiet,” “faith,” and “joy” were gently added to the mix. May we all feel at one with these qualities in our lives.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Let your own inner guidance lead you to your individual place of comfort and inspiration.

Revisit Stillness

Today I stopped midstream, seems like I’ve been doing that a lot recently. The pressing need for an immediate and total halt in order for me to rejuvenate. This morning I sat, I meditated, I centered. Almost immediately clarity came, my breathing deepened and the pressure in my chest went away. Unexpectedly, in the stillness, in the quiet, creative ideas floated into my consciousness about a new book proposal. When my mind and body paused, my spirit awoke.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Dip into the stillness, no matter what. A wellspring of reverence is there for you every day, every moment. Stop, immerse yourself in the quiet. You just may discover that sometimes non-action is the key to action.

Creative Meditation

Do you ever have the feeling that you are doing too much? Are your responsibilities overwhelming you? Is it pull-out-your-hair-time? If so, you are not alone. This afternoon I was hard at work, systematically producing against deadlines and I felt that familiar stretching across my forehead. That’s my signal, that I need a break. Luckily I could escape phones and computers for 20 minutes. I found a quiet place, closed the door and meditated. I used the simple TM (Transcendental Meditation) mantra that I’ve used for decades. Immediately a wash of clarity came over me.

While I meditated images and words that I’d been stuck on in my work — lifted, regrouped and crystallized. After 20 minutes in silence I stood up, with clear intention on the changes I needed to make.

My creativity & wellness message for today is: Take a break when you need to. Stop, sit, breathe and meditate. The world will still be there when you return, what will be different is you.