Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Embracing Who We Are

Featherheart Holistic Paths was founded in 2006 when I began my first women's circle, organizing and leading it with the intention of creating a safe space for others to do personal growth work. Because of my own participation in two circles, one therapeutic and the other shaman-based, I was inspired and motivated to give back what I had received... endless lessons in sharing and listening to the stories of others' lives, expressing my truths and using my voice, learning to hold back judgement of others and trusting /hoping others would do the same, and the importance of giving myself this time, in a sacred way within a community. 

Fast forward to 2019. I have probably led over fifty different circles of women lasting anywhere from four weeks to one year, using various themes and intentions.  Each time I create a new one, I make the intention of holding sacred space, a container with which everyone can feel a sense of trust, safety and belonging. By no means am I the originator of this idea. Many indigenous peoples throughout history sat in council circles, listening to one another and sharing ideas before coming to consensus. Numerous books have been written on the subject of circles, particularly in the 1980s and ‘90s when people were already beginning to feel isolated from our contemporary lifestyles.

That feeling of isolation has only deepened in society. In order to combat that, we seek out those people and sources who share our values, beliefs and attitudes, then develop and maintain that network. I believe this is the definition of tribalism. I don’t think I have ever “sought out” people of like-mindedness, rather I have attracted them into my life. But either way, I think most folks do this. It gives us a sense of unity and intimacy within our peer groups. But right now, we are in a societal state of deep separation. A society becomes toxic when we negate or deride all those who don’t have the same beliefs and we demonize the “other side”, or anyone who thinks, looks or acts different than us. This can cause fear, isolation, anxiety, and a host of physical, mental and spiritual illnesses.

Michelle Obama in her book Becoming says that no matter what she experienced over the past few years, she will not let herself become cynical. This gives me hope. If a woman like her “can take a breath and remind myself of the dignity and decency I’ve seen in people throughout my life”, then I too will not be cynical. There is optimism everywhere you look if you pay attention to ordinary people living their lives, with hope and gratitude.

As I continue my path of creating and leading circles for listening, sharing, and connecting to one another, I do my own inner work alongside each woman. It is not easy to NOT judge, to not separate ourselves into s/he and I, them and us. It is definitely a continual practice for me.

I invite and welcome all to join my circles. Let’s appreciate our commonalities AND embrace our differences. Let’s hope and rise up for a more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

A January of Healing Time

Aphrodite Sculpture, Europe, 3rd Century

As I write this on February 1st, I have just read a morning meditation on slowing down. I have to laugh because the entire month of January may have been the slowest time in my life. I had surgery on January 9 and so was forced to slow down. Initially I had not planned on telling anyone about it but a small circle of friends. But as I researched the surgery and discovered how many women of all ages are affected by pelvic organ prolapse (POP) I decided I must share my healing experience of both the emotional and physical. I cannot squelch the teacher in me!

Prior to surgery I spent a profound day and a half with a compassionate wise woman guide who taught me about loving, honoring and blessing those private parts of ourselves that have been suppressed through our patriarchal culture, and helped me to begin the healing process of my own #MeToo experiences which I felt I needed to do before I could face this intimate surgery. I spent the rest of January reading books, running the gamut of genres, but the discovery of the goddesses through a few profound books really opened my eyes. In the past, I have played with goddess oracle cards, read various stories about them in Greek and Celtic mythology, and taught in circles about the meaning of the Divine Feminine, her attributes and how we are connected to our Great Mother Earth.
Research from every continent indicates that, from roughly 30,000 to 3000 B.C.E. women and the Goddess were honored. I was immersed in the stories and archetypal myths, their symbology and resulting lessons of the Goddesses.  I had several aha moments but my most important lesson was realizing how we speak very differently of our bodies' various parts and organs. If I had heart surgery, brain surgery, or any other organ or illness, I would certainly tell everyone. Why do we whisper (or is it just me?) when it comes to our feminine parts - the uterus, vagina, cervix... I don't know about you, but growing up my mom rarely used the proper words and tried not to speak of the whole thing at all. My friends called our menstruation time "my friend" or "the curse" depending on the mood. Sadly, I don't think I did much better with my own daughters since when approaching the subject, I felt their shyness and then my own timidity.

This path of learning from these beautiful myths and sacred mysteries which unveil the truths of our divine feminine and reignite the Goddess in all of us has been extremely healing for me. I am considering offering a women's circle with the particular theme of healing our sexual abuses. Let me know if this interests you.

If you are interested, here are the books I read, but I have a long list of others still to study!

Crossing to Avalon and Goddesses in Everywoman, both by Jean Shinoda Bolen

The Heart of The Goddess, a history and beautiful pictorial, by Hallie Iglehart Austen
On a practical note, I can answer questions or offer tips on the surgery if you ever need it! 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Messages from Heron

I was walking at one of my favorite nature places (I say that a lot), enjoying a beautiful day with sunshine and warmth and the feeling of Fall in the air. This particular place is more manicured with specific walking paths so unlike the forest preserve, I rarely go off course except to perhaps rest on a bench. All the sudden I was pulled, I mean PULLED to turn off onto the grass toward a pond. I thought I don’t know why I’m going this way but I must. Walking over the little hill and almost to the water’s edge, I saw the reason. There stood one of my favorite animals and a special totem for me, the great blue heron. Wow OK, I’m here, what do you have to tell me? I sat down on the grass and watched her as she stood in the reeds staring out to the water.

The heron has given me so many lessons. S/he first appeared at my vision quest on the east coast, scaring the life out of me as I was quietly setting up my site by making a huge splash landing in the stream not five feet from me. During my quest, the heron taught me about patience, determination, self-reliance and strength. If you have ever watched a heron stand on their legs at the same spot on a pond for hours waiting to catch its next meal, you will understand why they embody these energetic traits. Those traits showed me how to STAY with determination and patience at my quest site for the whole three days.

Now I was waiting for messages, the reason I felt compelled to walk there. I could tell she was younger by her size and color, and felt the energy of a female.  I was within seven or eight feet of her, and she stood so still without moving away as birds usually do from people. I waited patiently. Then I heard “you are also young, as a teacher in this life. Be more patient with yourself for not knowing how to do things, or say things, or for feeling less “evolved” than others. You are where you are, love yourself as is.”

That is a wonderful lesson, albeit a hard one for me. I began my spiritual studies later in life after raising my three children. Because of this I always feel behind, frustrated to catch up, and that there’s just not enough time to do that.

On my return home, I went back to Ted Andrew’s book, the best reference for animal symbolism and reread heron for probably the fiftieth time. Not surprising, each time you read it you receive different information, for wherever you are in that moment. So many things jumped out at me, but most important for this time…  the longer the legs, the deeper the water the heron will feed in. The deeper life can be explored. The long thin legs of the heron reflect that you don’t need great massive pillars to remain stable, but you must be able to stand on your own. Well perfect, I have very long strong legs! I have always chosen to explore life deeply, and will stand with strength on my own two legs. And love myself where I AM. 

Much love and gratitude to you Great Blue Heron for your wisdom and ancient knowledge, and your Pterodactyl look that makes me smile. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Birthing Process and Nature's Teachings

I had an extraordinary weekend recently, one that you don't get to have often... one of inspiration and creativity that propelled me into new ideas, thoughts, spaces, and rapidly fluttered right into my heart. It began with an amazing experience of a Monarch butterfly release AND being able to share it with friends, and ended with a Mandala workshop which inspired me toward what I consider a sort of rebirth. 

The events offered a process that came as a surprise to me, through the power of synchronicity. I had certainly not planned on releasing butterflies and consequently connecting that to my workshop. In Jamie Sam's book, butterfly symbolizes creativity, change, inspiration in the mental. She prompts one to ask the question, what stage of the butterfly's metamorphosis are you in? 

To discern your current cycle-ask these questions...

1. Egg stage: Is it just a thought or idea?
2. Larva stage: Do I need to make a decision?
3. Cocoon stage: Am I developing and doing something to make my idea a reality?
4. Birth stage: Am I sharing my completed idea?

I have been at various stages of this cycle in both my personal and business life, as I'm sure everyone has. Each one has a reason and is necessary, although sometimes it's challenging when we're in a part of the process that challenges us. 

In the egg stage, you may be frustrated with the time it is taking to manifest the thought or idea, deciding where or how to move forward with it. We have to call on patience and perhaps determination to stay the course. This is where I picture the great blue heron in my mind, at water's edge, steadfast and still, waiting for the exact moment to strike for the goods! 

The larva stage teaches you to MOVE! What decisions do I need to make? Do I need more analyzing, more mental clarity around the situation, or just do it already?! Sometimes you just have to strike, using your instinct or intuition. And then sometimes we have to sit among the weeds and let them be, in order to become the flower.

What are doing to make it a reality? If you're stuck on something, developing sounds like a lot of work. But taking the smallest steps with consistency will bring your ideas and thoughts into reality, and will provide momentum. Picture the ant taking the small crumb back to its nest, and then repeating that again and again.

Finally, once you have completed the idea or process, it's time to share it! What would be the point otherwise? Do you trust yourself enough, love yourself enough, think you ARE enough - to share it? We all ask ourselves those questions, like Marianne Williamson's famous quote of our deepest fears and how we are meant to shine. Remember, the stars don't TRY to shine, they just do!

The butterfly IMAGINES what it will be, through frequency and resonance. It's true, here's the story...

"The caterpillars new cells are called 'imaginal cells.' They resonate at a different frequency. They are so totally different from the caterpillar cells that his immune system thinks they are enemies...and gobbles them up--Chomp! Gulp! But these new imaginal cells continue to appear. More and more of them! Pretty soon, the caterpillar's immune system cannot destroy them fast enough. More and more of the imaginal cells survive. And then an amazing thing happens! The little tiny lonely imaginal cells start to clump together, into friendly little groups. They all resonate together at the same frequency, passing information from one to another. Then, after awhile, another amazing thing happens! The clumps of imaginal cells start to cluster together!.., A long string of clumping and clustering imaginal cell, all resonating at the same frequency, all passing information from one to another there inside the chrysalis."

"A wave of Good News travels throughout the system-- Lurches and heaves...but not yet a butterfly."

"Then at some point, the entire long string of imaginal cells suddenly realizes all together that it is Something Different from the caterpillar. Something New! Something Wonderful!... and in that realization is the shout of the birth of the butterfly!"

My mandala represents me sitting inside the egg waiting and contemplating my next steps, with excitement, the beginning of inspiration. Lightening strikes to activate my psyche into taking action. The egg transforms into the butterfly. I am feeling an evolution of mind and heart at top speed, and think this is also representative of our country and planet. So this image has become symbolic of both me and the world. I share this process for all your dreams and possibilities! And I will be sharing a soulful art experience like this at a workshop in the Fall.

See your wings, imagine, shine, share, inspire... for others to see you and become more stars, more butterflies, more love. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Art as Your Soul's Expression

How do you get inspired? How do you transform a somewhat bad or crabby day or mood into a good one?

I have recently decided to do it with artwork. In decorating my new client room and personal office (separate rooms), I have surrounded myself with art. Art that has been created by friends or artists I've met along my journey. In fact I've done my whole house that way, and each time I enter a room a smile comes to my face. Several of them were gifted to me so it takes on even more meaning. The fact that someone would personally think of me and connect me to a piece of artwork opens and touches my heart. 

Some of it I have created my self, like the Medicine Shield below. I take great joy in making spiritual or symbolic artwork. In the book Soulcraft, Bill Plotkin shares that many nature-based cultures have no word for art or artist because producing what we call art is simply part of being human. I love this. It gives me permission to create anything and not judge whether I am an artist or not, and not to impress others. Just create for the sake of being human, and because it is my soul's expression which brings me joy.

During a symbolic art process like my Medicine Shield, my mind goes into a somewhat altered or hypnotic state, and I lose track of all time. I have made mandalas, medicine bags, smudge fans and other "spiritual" art and I always wonder where the time went when I am done.

I hope you will let go of your inner critic and try it! I send blessings to all the "artists", the world needs more!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Life Lessons from Death

My friend Cindy Wolf died this week. She was an intelligent, funny, intense and kind woman. She was only 55 and I had the pleasure of knowing her for just a few years. I think I have lost an abnormal amount of family and friends to early deaths in my lifetime-father, sister, and many more later. But who knows… a friend just told me she went to a funeral last week for a 59 year old friend. My neighbor’s brother died at 57 last week. Death is all around us at all ages, so what we can be sure of is one never knows when their time is up.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about death and its untimeliness during my life. So here are a few things I’ve learned about how to LIVE as a result of my experiences with death…

~ Say yes to most everything. Unless it’s really crazy and that is subjective. Definitely say yes to      things more than saying no, especially your children.

~ Be adventurous. Don’t let age or health tell you not to.

~ Be curious. Don’t let your life long views or beliefs get in the way of seeing, experiencing or  understanding new ideas.

~ Be forgiving of a person, before that person dies. Since you don’t know when that is, just be  forgiving.

~ Work on your Inner Self. Heal your past hurts and wounds, now.

~ Use your gifts and talents to the fullest. Don’t waste time and frustration on things you think you’re  good at but are not, like fixing your own toilet or computer. Hire the specialist so they can use their  gifts and talents.

~ Be accepting of others. Believe we are all One. If you don’t believe it, read some books by the  indigenous elders or quantum science experts, or watch TV shows about finding your ancestors.

~ Be kind - to everyone.

~ Take breaks. Slow down. Breathe. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Creating Intentions

WHAT?!! Me teach how to create and manifest intentions? Did I say that???

That was my thought, after I did NOT manifest the home into which I wanted to move, and now it was time to write about that very topic, which I promised to do in my first blog.

Fortunately, my thoughts only lasted a nanosecond, as the song’s refrain continuously ran through my head “ya can’t always get what you wa-ant”.

Our spiritual teachers and masters say that our thoughts create reality. Whatever thoughts we give power to will be our reality, whether it’s the big stories we tell ourselves from our family, culture, traditions, environment, or our everyday thoughts, judgments, or negative feelings. This is true and I have used these teachings to others many times. I know you have experienced your “story” repeating itself and learning those lessons repeatedly, just as I have.

I have also taught that creating intentions a la “The Secret” can be overly exaggerated in our world of material possessions and pursuit of pleasure. The idea of “I want a new house so I’m putting it out to the universe” to get what we want. To follow up on this manifestation process, we may create vision boards or other visualization tools, write best intentions, say prayers or affirmations, place crystals in the right place or on our bodies, perform rituals, think positive thoughts, place ourselves in higher vibrations, etc. etc. etc.

What happens when you do all that work and it doesn’t work??? What if the universe does not have that in mind for you? The expression comes to mind “We make plans, God laughs”.

I certainly won’t dismiss the power to manifest and create our lives. But as Robert Masters writes about in his book Spiritual Bypassing, we should not avoid dealing with painful feelings, unresolved issues, and developmental needs. We must be aware and conscious enough to dive in and ask ourselves those deeper questions, and willing to do the personal work of transformation. Why do I really want this? Does my intention align with my own attributes and values? How will it serve me? What changes will occur and how will I handle them? We cannot be blinded by the Light. Both the psychological and spiritual avenues are to be explored and aligned to live a fully realized, conscious and whole life.

So can I give you tips? Of course! Read Wayne Dyer’s book The Power of Intention, one that I refer to often for co-creating with the universe, especially his “7 Faces of Intentions”. Then in addition to all those manifestation tools mentioned above, here are some good ones I have learned…

~ Be an activist for yourself – you can’t just sit back and have the desire for something without planning the goals and steps.

~ Break the goals and steps into manageable tasks, and DO them. Congratulate yourself each time you do!

~ Check in with your heart, not your head. Ask yourself the important questions each step of the way to see if it’s still working. Trust the answers. Be open to changing it or dropping it.

~ Be prepared for the changes that may come along with the intention; it may not appear as you imagined it. In fact, it probably won’t!

~ Be ready for the laughing part. The universe will conspire with you for what you want but may offer all sorts of synchronicities and signs that will remind you to pay attention to the authentic part of you, the part that lives from your heart and soul, and the lessons you need to learn through the process.

~ Finally, practice acceptance. Surrendering and learning to live with “what is” allows us to transform our thoughts into the present moment. It can relieve stress and anxiety. In the moment, offer yourself compassion, gentleness and love.

~ Be grateful.