Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Today's Medicine: Creative expressions and helpful questions

Almost a year ago, I started a new way of living my life. My well of inspiration, desire and vitality was dry as a bone and I needed a big shift in perspective. So I quit my full time job at a women's health clinic and began a slow and steady renewal journey. It wasn't easy, it wasn't always a dream and it certainly forced me to examine my life choices in a very focused way. It was also soul-opening, revitalizing and filled with more contentment and satisfaction than I could have asked consciously asked for. And one of the first things I did was to make the above inspiration card, to remind me of how writing helps me to process, reflect and purge the brain buffer, so to speak.

My journals are private places for me to express my thoughts, vent my frustrations so that I don't harm others with my words and to be curious about my life and the world around me. I don't have a writing habit; I write as I feel inspired to do so. Or when I need to blow off some steam. Or when I need to flesh out an idea or delve deeper into a thought before I share it with others. I've often thought that a daily or weekly practice of writing would be helpful, rather like having a date with the part of myself I don't always connect fully with during my daily life. Since part of my renewal includes realigning my intentions and focus on what's truly important, I checked out the book The Life Organizer: Tips, Stories, & Prompts to Focus on Your Needs and Navigate Your Dreams by Jennifer Louden. The concept is different than a day-timer, that useful tool to keep track of all your appointments and reminders. It's a day book you create for your life. You set the pace, set the intentions, explore your desires and figure out what is or isn't working for you anymore. The book has questions, quotes and prompts that are sorted by week, as well as by subject/topic. I love the concept and have been working on mine so that I can begin on November 1st, which for me is the mark of a year of a new way of being in the world. I am curious to see how a weekly writing date works for me and I'm allowing my enthusiasm to guide me.

I also decided to take it another step. Since I sometimes feel a lack of creative expression in my life, and since I adore paper products with a passion undimmed since childhood, I decided to start a project of making inspiration cards for myself. If I find a question or quote that makes me laugh, pokes my heart, brings me to stillness or takes my breath away, I create a card with it. I will use these cards to bring me back to my center when I'm feeling stuck, burdened, overwhelmed or flat. This is today's card and I think it will bring some levity to when I feel a loss of gratitude for the blessings in my life.

*snort* Yes, indeed, I think that will do nicely. May we all be gentle with ourselves and others, and laugh fiercely at the absurdities in our lives.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Everyday Medicine: Ancestors

The sky is heavy today, feeding a melancholy mood. Earlier, I pondered an afternoon's raking of the never-ending leaves from the grandmother maple in the back yard, yet I was not inspired by this choice. I have been feeling restless, unable to settle into an activity for any length of time. I hate this mood of distraction. When it strikes, I feel completely unable to get anything accomplished. Even sitting and doing nothing feels off. So as I sat in my rocking chair, stuck in anxious indecision, I looked over to my ancestor altar. And it occurred to me that perhaps some active meditation is what I needed. And surely enough, it was.

There were two altars I wanted to make for All Hallows this year. One is dedicated to my ancestral and spiritual lineages and would involve setting up a more elaborate altar than my daily ancestral altar. The other is something different. I've been pondering doing specific altars for the blessed dead who inspire me, as a group or individuals. This year I wanted to do a separate altar honoring the women of the suffrage movement, both in the UK and US. This subject is very near and dear to my heart, so it seemed fitting to honor them during this time of the year. So that's what I worked on this afternoon.

These altars will be works in progress through All Hallows and a few days after. I did a bunch of work on them today and not-so-oddly-enough, I feel much more grounded and embodied. Crafting the collages helped channel some of my blocked creativity and creating the offerings helped settle my energy. I want to get some flowers for my ancestral altar and some lace to put around the edges of the collages. I will probably dig through my stickers and see what kind of late 19th century style art I can find to use as well. And this week, when I make my morning tea, I will be sure to make a proper cup for those women as well.

Sitting back, with a cup of peppermint and nettle tea, I realize that coming back to basics (like the blood that thrums through my veins and the reminders of the sacrifices made so I can live a life I want) is such an incredible gift. And as I type this, the sun breaks through and I see a hint of blue sky. Maybe doing some raking isn't out of the question after all. It is definitely easier to consider now that I have a lighter heart.