Week 20: Artful Shamanism with Effy Wild
This week had another personally powerful exercise. Effy shared a meditation technique where you listen to a drumbeat while using a prompt that she provided. The prompt had to do with becoming aware of the symbols that came to you during the meditation and to later explore their meaning as you are doing your journal page.
The symbols that I saw were an old growth cedar tree and and eye. The tree could symbolize steadfastness, life, vitality, prosperity, culture, etc. The eye could symbolize watchfulness, awareness, spirituality, seeing, knowing, & accountability. This is what I wrote:
The tree has a masculine, protective spirit–everything I love about masculinity. It is protection, it produces the seed of life, oxygen, art, shelter, a portal. We use it for staying out of the harsh elements, for telling our stories, building our communities. They have been here before man. A tree is a tree. It teaches us to be authentic. The cedar has many uses. It was used to build huge war canoes & masks that told the natives sacred stories. The eye tells us to be watchful of our planet-God is watching. The tree has life & has an awareness of that life that we cannot understand. We will understand only through spiritual eyes. We know deep down the right things to do and this makes us accountable.
April’s chapter in my Artist’s Way group is Recovering a Sense of Integrity. These chapters are meant to be gone through in a week, but in our group we are taking a month to focus on them and complete their exercises. I must say that I am loving the heck out of this! Each time that I completed the Artist’s Way course, I did it in 12 weeks as it is designed, but feel like I needed to keep going back because it is hard for me to really make a life change in such a short amount of time. I have been super enthusiastic about each chapter until I realized the implications of April’s.
One of the exercises that she has you do for the chapter is called “reading deprivation.” This means that you are not to read AT ALL for the entire week. I can’t even begin to tell you the resistance that I experienced while even contemplating what this kind of a commitment could mean for an entire month! That is when I had to get to the spirit of her challenge.
She asserts that artists are very often reading addicts. She warns to be careful when depriving oneself of reading not to fill in that time with TV, movies, internet, gossipy conversations, etc. When reading is gone we truly are left with ourself. Our mind. Our boredom.
So, for April, i have committed that my reading deprivation will include cutting out the reading that I do for distraction, for learning, and for pleasure. The first week that I did this I felt as though I was coming out of my skin. My dreams were more vivid. My emotions surfaced. I felt uncomfortable. This all turned me to my art. I longed to get busy. That first week I had more fun thinking about what I would create. Reading deprivation, though painful is actually a gift–one that I may use more often. Now that I realize how powerful this tool is, I commit to having integrity in my own dreams to develop my art with the time that I truly have available because this is what I found. I have more time than I previously was aware of.
This journaling piece was inspired by, Mt. St. Helens, the mountain in my back yard. She reminds me of the magic of the earth’s secrets. The legends tell us that she has witnessed communities before our own. She is a presence that grounds us and shelters the remaining wild. It is as if she even knows our deepest secrets and longings.
Lyrics from Oh Land’s The Wolf & I.
This lesson was taught to explore things that ground you. We were to pick a song that’s lyrics bring you into the here and now and then incorporate the words into the journaling piece.
Week 5: Artist’s Date
Back when I completed the Artist Way (AW) for my very first time my world opened up to self-care practices that I was not accustomed to. I had been thinking to myself at the time that I would really like a massage. A couple years before that I had strained my back and received a few sessions of massage with chiropractic care. My back felt pretty good for a while and then began to give me pain once again. I think of basic self-care as air. If it is not in place, it is hard to even imagine more creative activities to do. For me, the basic needs must be met before I can really relax and receive the “magic” from the Artist’s Date (AD) experience. So, when I began the AW, my mind wandered to wanting to get back into massage therapy if at all possible. I opened my phone book to a random place and there was a coupon for a free massage with a chiropractic exam. The location was a little out of the way (20 miles to the north), but since I was looking for adventure anyway I called and made an appointment. This was when I had my first serendipitous experience on an the AD. At the time I had been focusing efforts on fictional writing. Each person at the chiropractor’s office had such interesting and distinctive character that I felt like I was in some kind of dream. I had such a fun time imagining them as characters in my own story.
This time around, my week 5 date desire was once again to pamper myself a with a massage (my back had been letting me know that it needed care). I had a referral from a friend for a therapist that was located close to my work, so I looked her up online. Her practice was called Elemental Energy Massage. I wondered what this meant and found that in addition to regular massage techniques, she also had more eastern practices offered such as Thai compress massage. One of the the techniques offered was Japanese Reiki energy healing incorporated with massage. I felt like being adventurous, so I asked her about her special (which actually was the Thai compress massage) and she ended up thinking that I was asking about the Reiki energy healing massage. Even with the mix up I was in for a very interesting experience. Many times when I come out of a massage, I am so relaxed that I border on lethargic. This was not the case with the energy work and massage. I came out feeling a relief from my pain, but also very alert and ready to tackle the remainder of my day.
Week 6: Artist’s Date
I went for my first pedicure with one of my early AD back my first time through the AW as well and was sold on the practice. For the price that you pay, the result is so dramatic. Pretty and healthy feeling feet are a necessity once you get into the practice. Unfortunately, if you get low on time or funds they are one of the first rituals up for elimination.
I hadn’t been for a pedicure in over six months when week 6 rolled around this time, and I decided that I could strain my mind trying to come up with a great AD or I could do what my body was begging from me.. a little foot care. It was Valentine’s Day and I knew that I could rationalize a special treat. When I arrived, the nail place was empty except for one other customer (which immediately put me at ease). The price was so reasonable that I threw in a manicure as well. I relaxed and enjoyed the process. On that date, I established a rule of no cell phone use. I considered the more recent loss of social etiquette in society when it comes to being attentive and present while with others at the eating table and out for special time. I slowed down and enjoyed being in the moment. When leaving, I felt like a million bucks, loved, and treated on a holiday that can sometimes be a letdown. Immediately following, I shopped for Valentine gifts for my husband and kids. It is so much easier to be giving when you feel like your own needs are met. So, now that my self-care is up, I am excited to see what adventure is in store for next week!
Week 3: The Artist’s Date
This week my inner artist was screaming for supplies, but I decided that even though I went to find the list of items needed, I wouldn’t settle for less than a magical date. I decided to go down to the shops in Old Town Battle Ground to see what was new. I parked my car at one end of the strip and planned to walk down one side of the street and back up the other. I didn’t get far before finding a great vintage shop called Rusty Glamour.
I hadn’t been shopping for old/new finds for quite some time, so coming to the vintage clothing section was a pleasant surprise. They had unique pieces of clothing perfect for any one with a sense of style. I found a flowing skirt and a couple of scarves so reasonably priced that I couldn’t leave without them. If the other pieces that I loved had been my size I would have went home with a lot more. My inner artist has been nagging at me due to how drab and boring my own wardrobe is, so how wonderful it is to have found a little shop that has a fresh idea, yet is affordably priced. I got a skirt and two scarves for only $30. To me these were a bargain. How often when you go looking for a bargain you find stuff that looks like it was a bargain? This wasn’t the case for me today. I expected the prices to be much higher on each item.
I ran into an old friend and caught up with her for several minutes until her daughter started getting impatient. The cashier/owner was also more than helpful and gave me the rundown on all of the other vintage/antique shops in town. She didn’t mind me taking a picture of my favorite corner of her shop either. It is a great feeling to have a clerk that is not rushed and is there to connect for a moment as a fellow person (something that department stores or online shopping cannot and will not offer).
Something that I realized after my time walking up the old section of town is that I am a country girl at heart. I love the feeling of being connected with the people and the spirit of the community. I also love the products and essence of what comes from that area. Those country finds help me remember where I come from and what makes me unique.
Week 1: The Artist’s Date
I know that I am not alone in taking off a bite too big to chew with my New Year’s goals. About 10 years ago, I stopped making resolutions and began making goals instead. This has its pros and cons. I am more likely to complete my goals, but I also don’t just stop at one. I am a naturally active person, so I like to pack in my plenty of opportunity for growth in the upcoming year. My creative goals may have topped the cake.
This week as I managed my family, my Facebook pages, the monthly creativity challenge, several groups, my employment, the holiday, an online class, and The Artist Way program, I felt that my world was spinning. I wasn’t sure how I would keep up on it all. To be honest, by day four, I had no plan for my Artist Date set in stone.
My artist child is pretty spoiled (so I thought) and likes going somewhere fabulous on these outings, but after getting off work late I asked what my artist child really needed and received the answer that she just wanted a little special time. She would love to go to the health food market and pick up some fresh produce and would also love to go to the art supply store to pick up the remaining supplies for her mixed media journaling class. Turns out, my artist child is not as demanding as I thought. I had a relaxing outing and came home feeling refreshed. Maybe next week my date with her will be more “creative” but, maybe not.