Watch out for who you run into at your local gardening center! There I was, minding my own business, choosing colorful potted flowers for my front porch, when I saw a friend browsing the outdoor aisles. We got to talking and catching up. She follows me on social media and asked about my recent art exhibitions and writing projects. Gab, gab, share, share, it was a lovely day to be outside and even lovelier to be chatting with her.
We say goodbye and a few weeks later, I’m asked if I would be interested in leading a lay-led summer service at The Unitarian Church in Westport, CT. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. What might be of value to the folks in the pews? I asked my friend (who was the Worship Associate) and she answered, “Talk about your art.” Hmmmmmmmmmm. Yes, I could talk about that until the cows come home, but is that really of value to the people in the seats?
Then I said, “I could speak about losing fifty years of my original fine art in a silent basement flood right before I was planning a retrospective.” She leaned in. I immediately followed my intuition and promptly said, “I could title my homily, “A.R.T: Action, Reflection, Transformation.” Ding, ding, ding, she thought it a great idea.
While it was a challenge writing my personal narrative homily with a message, I got as much out of it as the congregants. Being asked to speak was validation of me and my worthiness. Having my idea liked made me feel recognized. Hearing, seeing, and feeling the responses from the people in the pews and from them afterwards opened my heart.
Watch a video of my homily below. It starts at 13:26.
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.
Hello! I’ve been away sifting, editing, and packing our household belongings . . . looking for a new place to live . . . finding one . . . moving in . . . and I’m setting up my studio/office today! What do I do the minute I set up my laptop? Sit down and write you. Here’s a place my creativity lies.
We work hard to be where we are in life, the fruits of our labors helped us sell our former beloved home and purchase a new (soon to be cherished) one. The fruits of our labors help pay for our son’s college education and help pay our new mortgage.
What I didn’t expect when we inherited three large raised bed vegetable gardens with our new house was that the previous owners’ labors would feed us for the first several nights of new house ownership. Quickly we learned how to prepare Japanese eggplant and Swiss chard. The heritage tomatoes took no guess-work, they were delicious with fresh mozzarella from a local farmers market and basil from our the garden. We are grateful for their efforts, the rewards we reaped.
I discovered this poet today and think her words sum up the last several months:
Millions of Strawberries
Marcia and I went over the curve,
Eating our way down
Jewels of strawberries we didn’t deserve,
Eating our way down.
Till our hands were sticky, and our lips painted,
And over us the hot day fainted,
And we saw snakes,
And got scratched,
And a lust overcame us for the red unmatched
Small buds of berries,
Till we lay down-
Eating our way down-
And rolled in the berries like two little dogs,
In the late gold,
And gnats hummed,
And it was cold,
And home we went, home without a berry,
Painted red and brown,
Eating our way down.
– by Genevieve Taggard
Creativity and wellness message for today: Be grateful for the fruits of all labors, then lie down and have some fun.
“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.
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.
The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. So when stories come to you, you must take good care of them, as well. Learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs your story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put our stories in each other’s memories. This is how people care for themselves.
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it, you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you can do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
– William Stafford
Creativity and wellness message for today: Let change purify you.