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Archive for August, 2013

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Last Friday Tom and I, along with son-in-law Carl and granddaughter Amy, attended the Show Jumping Event of  the Richland Park Horse Trials. It was a thrilling experience for each of us. I was aware these Horse Trials had been held here near Kalamazoo, but had not taken the opportunity to attend until now.

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We were unfamiliar with the lay of the land, so shortly after being directed into our parking space, paying the attendant and receiving a program, we walked toward the area that had people milling around. We were greeted by a friendly volunteer, who seeing us carrying our chairs, asked if we wanted a lift to where we were going. We said, “Sure, only we’re not sure where we’re going.”

That’s all she needed for a cue, as she took us around the grounds, showing us where the cross country competitions would be held the next day and giving Amy a thrilling front seat ride. She held onto her hat, then removed it and chattered all the way around the course, sharing her excitement with the driver.

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As her hair blew in the breeze, Amy cautioned the driver to “watch out for that puddle” and “don’t hit those people on the track.”  The driver drove us as close as she could get to the viewing arena and pointed out the best spot to put our chairs down in front of the competitive jumping field.

It was a bright, hot, sunny day, and there was a tented grandstand open to viewers. We got to put our chairs in the front row, getting a shaded view of what was about to take place. This was a double blessing for Tom, and his skin sun sensitive skin.  We headed off for a sandwich before the main event began.

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Richland Park and the development of the Richland Park Horse Trials is the realization of a dream that originated over twenty-eight years ago. The dream belonged to Bob and Kay Willmarth, local business owners. They purchased their twenty acre farm in 1985 with land contract rights for the additional sixty acres.  After acquiring that, they began think about hosting a horse trial, but realized they needed more land. In 1993, a 240 acre farm that surrounded them became available and they put it all together.  Both Bob and Kay are avid horse lovers who competed in the sport of Eventing and Fox Hunting for many years.

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Now, we were ready to see what this was all about. The Horse Trial is made up of three tests of skill, taking place on one, two or three days. A competitor rides the same horse throughout the entire competition. In simple language, eventing is a triathlon for horse and rider teams.

Dressage is about the development of the physique and ability of the horse. At every level, horse and rider should exhibit an understanding partnership in which the rider’s cues to the horse are invisible to the spectator.

Cross Country is a test of speed, endurance, and jumping ability. It consists of a course with fixed obstacles carried out at the gallop.

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Show Jumping is the third event of the trio of disciplines. That is what we were there to see. This phase  is designed to show the suppleness, obedience, and jumping ability of the horse. It also demonstrates the rider’s knowledge of pace, and the use of her horse within an enclosed arena. The goal of show jumping is to perform a clear round within the allotted time, with no obstacles faults.  Many did, some did not. We heard the scoring at the conclusion of each of the approximately sixty competitors.

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Amy watched, intrigued. We picked our favorites and cheered for all the clear jumps. Amy particularly liked the butterfly jump and the rainbow jump.

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We watched the whole event, on this crystal clear blue sky day with a gentle breeze, alleviating the heat just enough to remain comfortable. Then, it seemed, it was just time to go back home, stopping for an ice cream sunday on the way.

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Our tour guide on the The Ultimate Alps and Dolmites Tauck Tour referred to it as, “A castle a day.” “You came to see castles, right?” teased Anna, our proficient Italian guide. “Well, you shall see them!” And our Swiss, twenty-five year old Tour bus driver, Stephen, was expert at getting us UP and around all the curves to arrive at the castles. It must have been a rule of the day that castles be built high atop hills.

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The first castle we visited was Linderhof Castle in the Bavarian Alps. In 1869, King Ludwig began transforming his father’s royal hunting lodge into a mini-Versailles.

Linderhof Castle - Bavarian Alps - built 1869

Pictures were not allowed to be taken inside the castle. We viewed a luscious setting, complete with a Hall of Mirrors and a dining room table that rose up from below,  featuring the menu of the day and table service, once the king sat down in his dining chair. The pity of it was, however, he always dined alone. He never had guests. He held parliament meetings without anyone being present. He walked the castle alone, day and night. He had a remarkable study/lounge, filled with an unknown number of classic literature books. His castle walls were adorned with the finest of paintings. He lived in an art museum.

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The grounds were beautiful and immaculately groomed. A joy to behold as we waited our tour time to enter the castle.

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Linderhof Castle Golden sculpture

From his extravagant bedchamber, the King awoke each morning with a window view over his fountain gardens. That must have been a great start to any day.

In Austria, on the slopes of the Karwendel Alps, we visited Schloss Tratzberg Castle, built under Emperor Maximillian I. We began the visit with a private wine reception and lunch, featuring wine from the castle’s own vineyards.

Schloss Tratzberg castle entrance

Schlos Tratzberg Court Reception

Schloss Tratzberg Court Wine & luncheon

Schloss Tratzberg castle tower

 From a window of Neuschwanstein, perhaps the most famous of King Ludwig’s castles, we saw beautiful lake and mountain scenery. The castle King Ludwig II grew up in is also in view. This is his boyhood castle, where he grew under his strict father’s watch and dreamed of a “fairyland” castle atop the hill where he would one day retreat and live in solitude and comfort.

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Neuschwanstein - out the window, Ludwig's father's castle King Ludwig II’s boyhood home.

Let me be clear about this. Neuschwanstein Castle is THE castle destination of the Alps, as evidenced by the bus traffic in the little town below.

IMG_1529We arrived at this mountain town level through the talents of faithful tour bus driver, Stephen. We had company! The town of Fussen.

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We got to the next level, striving for the top, by horse carriage.

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Then we walked steeply upward.

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The castle is in sight…huff, huff, huff. I think I can, I think I can.

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We have arrived! But another surprise awaits. INSIDE the castle, there are more than 300 steps up spiral staircases we ascend to the top. I think Rapunzel’s spiral homebase is a bit overrated. Yet the views were spectacular and we all improved our heart health as we wrapped our way around the winding hallways.

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This is the castle said to have inspired an artist for the conception of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. My five year old granddaughter is very into princesses and castles, but she seemed none too impressed that grandma had visited one or more.

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Walking down to where the horse carriages awaited us was a little easier but hard on the knees. Then a ride back to town, where a hotel luncheon that satisfied any taste bud on the palette awaited at the Hotel Muller.

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Tour guide Anna keeps the group together and tells wonderful stories.

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Paragliders seek adventure in the skies above the spires.

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Tasty lunch and treats and we depart feeling like royalty, indeed.

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Every artist knows the importance of light and shadow in their visual compositions, paintings, photographs and drawings. The subject of shadow is an important component of SoulCollage(R) also, as originated and taught by Seena B. Frost. Discussions about it came up in the recent weekend  Facilitator Training I took with eleven other inspiring women and our leader, creat-ress, artist, photographer and author, Catherine Anderson in Charlotte North Carolina.

IMG_1797The Light shines on Catherine Anderson

“We recognize that for human life to thrive…it is best lived in a community that is supportive and compassionate…a community that is able to listen to and understand and tolerate many points of view…a community that is creative and imaginative as well as smart.”  Seena Frost

That is exactly how I experienced our facilitator and group of soon-to-be certified SoulCollage(R) facilitators. (Pardon the (R), my Alt 0147 approach as taught, has not yet worked for me.)

IMG_1791By Sunday morning, we arrived in high spirits of time well-spent together.

IMG_1794Ginger and Margaret break out in song.

From our introductory Friday evening session, embraced in Catherine’s beautiful and bountiful studio setting, we knew something great was on the horizon. We settled in.

IMG_1742Discoveries of just the perfect image waiting for us.

Our group was not entirely new to the process of making the cards, yet we reviewed the basics and important techniques. We enjoyed seeing many of the SoulCollage(R) cards brought by each woman. We learned the very, very valuable experience of being Reader, Witness, Facilitator and Recorder. Our inner artists were awakened and alert.

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And all the while we were totally involved in creating, sharing, listening, meditating and appreciating, there was something going on outside in Catherine’s yard.

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Light was forever playing with shadow! Everywhere you looked, there was the marvelous, breathtaking mixture of light and shadow. It was like nature knew and applauded that an artist of high order lived there.  Light and shadow gloriously embraced all that surrounded Catherine’s home.

IMG_1764An Artist’s Retreat

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Each morning we arrived, Catherine had “made something”, (a personal value of hers) reminding me of the scripture that announces, “Behold, I am a new creation.” And each day of training, we were.

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Our luncheons and ongoing refreshments available for “whenever” filled our cup to overflowing in nutrition and appreciation.

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We were so “One with the many” that even the deer joined us for lunch, coming right up to the sun porch.

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And the light continued to play with them and throughout the yard.

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The light was not only bright, it was very, very hot in a humid setting and so Catherine protected us from that throughout the weekend. But the closing ceremony took place with the light shining upon our cards and upon the receipt of our SoulCollage(R) Facilitator Certificates.  Joy radiated in our hearts and travelled in light speed around the path of the labyrinth as we received recognition from the heart and hands of Catherine Anderson.

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One by one, Catherine called us forward and with the handing of the certificate to each of us, SoulCollage(R) becomes 12 time richer with exponential expansion possibilities to many varied communities who will be served from these leaders.

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Something important is happening here. We take the trust with us. This matters to our world.  We are keepers of the keys.

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Catherine unlocks the doors with honor, humility and hope.

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Seeing the future with a firm step forward on a path that promises peace.

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Light is not the only energy present. Enthusiasm and purpose abound. We go forth. We leave this place. We are aware of light and shadow in our world.

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But there is balance at the center.

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and the light still plays with Seena.

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It seems like all I had to do this year was find my sunflower child. And I did that.

I found her in an image I could not ignore. A sweet child placing her soft face right into the center of a large sunflower.

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I put her in the center of my Intention Mandala for 2013. I look at this often and so the presence of this sweet child is with me throughout the days.

But more than that, she keeps appearing in images I come upon in other places. She was on the East Coast with me when I enjoyed my weekend at the Women Writers and Artists gathering. Of course she was! My 2013 Intention Mandala is “The Year of Joy and Fun” and I was certainly joy-filled and having fun with my women companions, enveloped in writing, art and reverence for the larger story of us all.

During one of the workshops, there was my sunflower girl in a pile of images to be chosen for our projects. You know I chose her!

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And today, as I begin preparation for the SoulCollage(R) and Daily Word  workshop I will facilitate at Unity of Kalamazoo in September, I found her once again, as an image in the front of the September/October Daily Word. What a blessing and confirmation for the work I desire to do with this. I have read the Daily Word as a subscriber since 1979. It always lights up the next step in my path with Scripture and Affirmation Truths. I trust it with my whole heart and soul.  Perhaps, that is where the desire comes from to play and pray our prayers and affirmations into image through the wondrous process of Seena Frost’s SoulCollage(R)

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In the accompanying poem, “All I Had to Do”, by Donna Miesbach, a question is asked:
“Why, then, did I Not see You?
How could I have
Missed your Presence
When all I had to do
Was stop and look
Within my heart?”

That is exactly what we will do when our workshop gathers and selects the scriptures and affirmations they want to “see” through their own images selected at random from many magazine visuals I have spent tearing from sources recycled and given to me. The perfect images will be present, just as the sunflower girl has been present to me. The attendees will have an awed sense of “All I Had to Do” was…..put some pictures together to express a heart and soul-felt confidence that “this is the Truth of me.” The Scripture, affirmation and image will continue to live in them in a “best friend forever” sort of Presence.

All I had to do when I first came across my sunflower girl image was imagine her at the center of my mandala. This Intention Mandala is based on the work of Janet Conner and her “Lotus and the Lily.” I’ve been making this type of yearly mandala since 2010.  On these mandalas, we put whatever we can imagine we want the most to manifest in our lives on the outside circumference of our mandala. Then we don’t really think about them anymore.

“When the right conditions are present, there is manifestation.”

She also insists we put “big things” on the mandala, not necessarily things we think “possible” to get, because the manifestation comes without effort from our “making it happen”, if your focus is in the right place.  Some of my “big things” have been: a home I love; check; a large weight loss; check; good health and fitness; check; travel abroad; check; financial supply for workshops and training; check; live and love with Tom; check. These are big! These are manifest.

To get to the right place, we first concentrate on total forgiveness of others and of self. And to stay with that, working on that whenever and wherever needed. I do that.

Next, we state the conditions we agree to live. These conditions are written out and placed in the center of the mandala. Mine have changed over the years, but they are my guideposts when they appear on my mandala. So for my year of 2013, My year of Joy and Fun, these are the conditions I live by, as witnessed by my sunflower girl:

Sunflower child Mandala - conditions

It seems like this is “all” I have to do to live a balanced and centered life. “All” is always a very small word, but sometimes “all I have to do” is a very large thing to do; other times, it is as easy as floating with the waves. In any case, when I am doing these things, I cannot miss “the Presence” that is always right within my heart.

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Anne Lamott

Did you ever want to know what writer Anne Lamott would choose, if she had a “real job”?  She tells us here. I am going to repeat it word for word from her post. And then also let you know she has a new book coming out soon, so here are the connections to it.   I am currently reading her Help Wow Thanks book which are the three prayers we all say. Suffice it to say, since “Bird by Bird”, I am a FAN.

Count this as a SHARE, which I will duplicate on Facebook to spread the good news of wisdom words from Anne Lamott.

And as this is being posted by Sunday morning, you could probably have a discussion with her directly, for you will find her at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian for the 11:00 a.m. service and she would love to see you there.

https://www.facebook.com/AnneLamott

From Anne:

“During the chat at peopl.com, someone asked what job I would like if I wasn’t a writer, and I wish I could reprint it here. But as I also said during the chat, I am a completely hilariously incompetent humanoid when it comes to technology, so I can’t do that.

But I can try to answer it again. I semi-sort-of remember what I said.

I’d like to sit out in the very quiet courtyard at St. Andrew Presbyterian, with a bowl of cherries, and a bowl of M&M’s as communion elements, and talk to people one at a time.

I’d teach people what we tell our Sunday School kids, that they are loved and chosen, AS IS. My grandson says things like, “There’s another boy in with class with beautiful brown skin, like me.” And he’s four. If women confided that they don’t swim even when it’s very hot because they have tummy roll or jiggly thighs, I would show them mine, and we’d go off to swim together in our terrible underwear together, even if it was just in a little kid’s inflatable pool in the projects across the street.

If people were grieving, I would sit with them while they cried, and I would not say a single word, like “Time heals all,” or “This too shall pass.” I would practice having the elegance of spirit to let them cry, and feel like shit, for as long a they need to, because tears are the way home–baptism, hydration–and I would let our shoulders touch, and every so often I’d point out something beautiful in the sky–a bird, clouds, the hint of a moon. Then we’d share some cherries and/or M&M’s, and go find a little kid who would let us swim in his or her inflatable pool. I’d tell the sad person, “Come back next week, I’ll be here–and you don’t have to feel ONE speck better. It’s a come-as-you-are meeting, like with God, who says, “You just show up, my honey.”

If people want to know the secret of writing and art, I would say, “Write badly. That’s what we all do. Just do it. No one cares if you write or paint or dance, so YOU’d better. Nevr give up. read more poetry. Then find someone who will edit your work for you, like a friend or associate who needs someone to edit his or her work; or a teacher; or someone you pay, if you can. Without this, you are doomed. No one can help you if you don’t have a tough and respectful reader. Not even Jesus can help you. But you are still loved and chosen. Here, have some cherries.”

I would also be available in the courtyard to register voters. This is what we re going to do when we’re very old and the ice caps are like Slurpees: we are going to stick together, huddle together for warmth, register voters, and share our cherries and chocolate. I promise, this will be enough–always has been, always will be.

Also, I would subtly be trying to suck people into coming to St. Andrew on Sunday to worship with us. (services at 11:00.). You will end up feeling TOO loved, and maybe a little overly chosen. It’s incredibly sweet.

I would tell people that no matter how awful their thoughts and behavior, God HAS to love them–that’s His job. And I am Exhibit A–God has to love me, and this is not my fault. I didn’t trick Him or Her, or hide the grossest stuff. God just loves; period. Go figure. It’s a great system. My pastor Veronica says that when you want God to enter your life, you don’t invite Her to have tea in your living room, which you’ve completely cleaned for the occasion. You have to invite her all the way in, and let her see the closets, as is, AND–this is the bad news–you have to show her the Bad Drawer. The one in the kitchen, or in your bedside table–you know the one I mean, the one filled with thumbtacks and patches for inner tubes, and the broken dog collar, litter and stuff you couldn’t give away–the dump would barely take it–that proves how insane. You have to pull it all the way open, and say, “This is part of the package…” There won’t be anything there god doesn’t see every day. God, will say, “Dude. Thanks for showing me. Let’s get to work. Hey–are the any of those cherries left?”

This to me would be a perfect job, sitting with God and you, at the safest place on the earth for me, being real, together, shoulders touching, looking up at the sky from time to time.”

About her new book, “Stiches” — “I have a book out in TWO months. Oh my god. This can’t be right. It actually just snuck up on me when I recorded the audio on Wednesday–which is its own special little nightmare, which I’ll tell you about in a moment. Yikes. Or to quote the aliens in Mars Attack, ACK ACK ACK.

The book “Stitches” is a companion to “Help Thanks Wow” and I began it the day after the massacre at Newtown. The subtitle is A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair. And yes, quite a lot is about the search for meaning that some of us spiritual seekers and religious nuts have been on our whole lives, after reading “Wrinkle in Time,” Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land.”

But a lot of it is about where on earth we find the meaning of life after Newtown, after a suicide in the family, after a desperately unwanted divorce.

How do we stay centered (or semi-centered) and faithful when we have young grandsons and nieces in this wired modern world, where images of polar bears floating off to sea on ice chips will soon be the relatively-good old days for our young, who will almost certainly live in a world of environmental catastrophe?

But it is also very much about finding meaning in the face of the speeding passage of time, when about three weeks ago, your grandchild was born, and is now swimming the width of the pool, and dating. Or your son, whom you thought must be nearly 17, will be 24 in days. Or you glance at your arms and they look EXACTLY like Ruth Gordon’s, in Harold and Maude, when you’re only 30 something. Well, maybe thirty-29…

You probably know the answer (I can save you the cost of the book). We stick together. We trust that Love bats last; that laughter is carbonated holiness: that everything that happened to us belongs to us and we can write about it, and heal; that the most direct experience of the Divine will be in the love of our pets”

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During our recent roadtrip to Kentucky and North Carolina, I was delighted by the yellow butterfly. My friend, Lucretia, spoke of the sparkling bright yellow and black butterflies playing in her deck garden. I said, “Maybe they will come and say hello to me while I am here.”

And one night after dinner they did just that. They dipped and fluttered around and behind the flowers and green leaves just to let us know they were there.

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They came to play and gave us a delightful time. We felt serenaded and thrilled at the same time.

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It was a butterfly ballet.

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and a beautiful girlfriend time for Lucretia and Sue.

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Art is life. And Dorothy Randall Gray is WWAM. And so…..

Dorothy Randall Gray AND Amejo Amyot  together are WWAM  WWAM!!

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In my joyful and fun 70th year on this planet Earth, I have been intimately united with my own parallel universe! It was great from the start. My extended family joined around me for a surprise breakfast/brunch buffet with brothers and sisters and cousins awaiting me after I’d celebrated the Sunday liturgy and Mass with my daughters, sons-in-law and wondrous three grandchildren. We had brought the gifts to the altar and I prayed in thanksgiving for the sixty-nine years granted me and opened my heart and arms to the possibilities that lay within each day of this new year.

I get two new years in two days, as my birthday falls on January 2nd, just as the partiers are reviving from their New Year’s Eve excesses.

Rejoice! This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad!

So, in a parallel universe, time is not linear I have found, and it is now heading into the autumn month of September. I have just returned from a precious trip to Charlotte North Carolina where I trained with Catherine Anderson for SoulCollage Facilitator. Totally inspiring and over one hundred fifty photos from that weekend. My year also included an invitation from a best friend forever to join her on an all-paid first class trip through the European Alps and five countries along the way. This all speaks of parallel universe to me.

But the words, memories and images on my mind  tonight are from my mystic, magical, meditative and magnificent experience I had attending the May weekend of Women Writers and Artists Matrix in Saratoga Springs New York.

What happened there? Magnificent, MUSE-i-cal women in community, minute by minute artistic expression and learning. Quiet, honorable time and chant in the early morning quiet. Waves of prayer carried out into the ethers by the sound of the drum beat above and around us and within our heart. Lunch time sisterhood sharing that drew in even the chef who prepared special dishes for us and hung out at our group table because he didn’t particularly want to be anywhere else at the moment.

Painted poems, paper book specialities, movement, dance and exclamation! “Seeds” respected and collected that have given rise to new prose and poetry by this time because they came home in journal pages with us. The campus of Skidmore College, with IWWG (International Women Writers Guild) roots for many of us, welcomed us as we strolled throughout the Quad area and by the old dorms and buildings. I revisited the grounds I put my newly created prayer sticks many years ago from Amejo’s meditation group. Old friendships renewed, new friendships gained. That’s what happened there.

This, indeed, is my parallel universe and I’ve known it for a long time. It keeps inviting me in. I cannot stay back. When I committed to both the WWAM weekend and the SoulCollage training, I did not know where or how the funds would come. It was my calling to say yes. The funds manifested and everything worked out for me to have an abundant experience on the least possible amount of dollars I could spend.

I even got author and WWAM workshop presenter, Suzi Banks Baum, for a room mate at the Inn of Saratoga. Plus, she offered to pick me up at the airport, which saved a $50 fare, while Amejo drove me back to the airport on Monday morning.

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Suzi taught many techniques for one type of folding book, and had examples of oh so many other types. In her work, she values the mission and honor of motherhood. It is a precious work.

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Suzi invited us into our own gardens to see what we would see and hear there. My garden had a beautiful brass gazebo entrance.

And in my garden, I found the very same sunflower girl awaiting me that I had on my 2013 Intention Mandala on my wall back home. Now how could that happen?

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Magical? Mysterious? Mystical? Definitely Magnificent.

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My Year of Joy and Fun beating on my mandala and in my heart at WWAM.

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And just WHO did we think we were, Dorothy asked us and warned us there were to be no timid responses.

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And we did our best…..not to disappoint.

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I told her, “I am God in a pod”, but I don’t have a “selfie” photo of me saying it.

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This artist led me into a most lovely movement exercise and a painted poem creation that left me surprised and amazed. She also gave me the wondrous experience of Wabi Sabi that is a treasure in my daily living. Nothing I read on paper could have matched the gem of her inviting it into my life as a spiritual, practical wisdom practice.

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She spoke of the importance of space in art and in life. I will remember that. Also she encouraged laughter. Always.

Dear Amejo, she holds a torch of womanhood in her hands, of woman’s connection to the essential, and is the treasure holder of the transference of women’s wisdom held sacred within our hearts and passed on to others. She is a Shaman among us. A Blessing as she walks the Earth.  Namaste.

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Sisters, one and all.

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Writers, artists, friends….who have withstood much, loved much, lived fruitfully.

DSCN0312 Given an assignment by Dorothy,   “How many ways……”

DSCN0316My camera didn’t focus correctly on this. Her life went out of focus with a serious, severe stroke. All weekend, she revealed the hard realities of her soon to be full recovery, starting from well before the “start line.” Her opening sentence in her book is,  “The first time I died……” I am buying the book when it comes out.

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My question posed in my Garden book.

I suppose I got like this because once upon a time……..(like fairy tales begin)

I met Dorothy and Amejo

and then……

I just became

like this.

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It would have been Nirvana for Don Quixote! For us, weary travellers on the last leg of a week-long journey back home again, it was a soothing sight for tired eyes.

Fields and fields of wind powered turbine windmills rolling across the wavy hillsides in Ohio. The windmills went back to the horizon as far as you could see. They lasted for close to ten minutes of driving. Tom and I could not guesstimate how many there were in total.

There were just more and more…..and more.

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We had clocked about 2,400 miles in total for this part-vacation, part work training for me in Soul Collage Facilitation in a week also filled with many fun visits with family and friends. But now, we were tired through and through and “leaning forward” to home destination.

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Samantha, our handy-dandy, new GPS system, was dutifully programmed by Tom for all our destinations along the way, and she did a super duper job on the road. We didn’t even do any “oopsie, curlie cues” anyplace. But shortly after I gave her some high credit for superior performance, she took us on a little adventure of crowded and congested traffic routes with stop and go traffic while we were getting around Columbus.

This was not what we wanted…..to see our destination arrival time grow instead of lessen.

So, Tom, riding shotgun took out the old traditional map and after some thought announced we were leaving the route and heading north on US 30 when it came up. This avoided the Toll Road which we suspected Samantha was going to head us toward.

The unplanned road took us into the gentle countryside and as we approached the VanWort, Ohio area, we first caught sight of these power producing windmills standing stately in the fields and turning rhythmically in the breeze.

I begrudged not being on the passenger side of the car to do my familiar travel-window view photos I had been doing all along the way. And I felt it would fly by too quickly to have Tom fish out the camera.

That wasn’t true, however, as the windmills went on and on…….and on.

“Tom, get the camera and take some photos,” I said when I could stand it no longer.

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He got quite a few. And the travel on the unplanned road lightened the journey and our hearts just enough to return to Michigan with a light breeze at our backs and a bit of lifted spirit.

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It seems strange, but true, that other unplanned roads taken in my life have had the same effect.

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Just a Few Photos

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I will be out of town for a week, so I am going to post just a few photos of my European Alps Tour and tell more stories when I return.

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It’s too hard to spell, but Neuswanstein Castle was quite an experience. There was a horse buggy ride up….to a certain point….then a walking path UP farther…..then once inside the castle, more than 300 steps, UP.

But I will always remember this and every time I see Amy’s toy castles, my memory will return here.

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A party here; a party there; and we joined in them everywhere.

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Home of Mozart2

Salzburg, musical and spiritual heritage

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We went high in the Alps.

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We saw beautiful lakes, towns, and meadows.

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More later.

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I am in love with the process of SoulCollage(R) and I have my bags packed to visit Catherine Anderson in Charlotte North Carolina to attend her weekend workshop in SoulCollage(R) facilitator training. I hope to begin to bring the joy of this practice to many more people in the Kalamazoo area and beyond.

http://www.soulcollage.com/

http://www.catherineandersonstudio.com/soulcollage.html

Catherine explains this as “a gentle, playful and often joyful way of exploring your life and your deep self.  Using images from magazines, individuals create their own unique deck of cards, where each card represents a different aspect of themselves. There is a deeper level of knowing that is accessed through images.  The process combines image, words, intuition, and synchronicity into a unique creative and artistic process that anyone can do.  It requires no special skills, but can often produce images and insights that are surprising and full of depth and meaning.  SoulCollage® works directly with the language of symbols, images and archetypes and is an insightful process of self-discovery.”

Best Health & Fitness“I am One who places high value on Fitness and Health.”

What Catherine says, in a neat little nutshell, is most certainly true. Since I attended her Introduction to SoulCollage(R) workshop last year, I have been gaining in the stack of my SoulCollage(R) cards, which arise spontaneously and intuitively.

And they certainly speak volumes to me. That is the neat thing about SoulCollage(R). No one else interprets your cards. You, alone, listen to and attend the “speakers” in the card. They are incredibly wise, and I get the sense that even though I think I am hearing the message for the first time, some part of me has “always known” their message to be the truth of me.

Committee - Jumps in“I am the One who jumps in and knows I can do this!”

Seena B. Frost planted the seed for SoulCollage(R) some time ago back in the 1980s. Even though these cards and this process can serve on the deepest level of psychotherapy, and do that, she convinced millions that  anyone could do this creative process with a good pair of scissors, pre-cut mat board cards and images you can find anywhere, and glue!

Author of SoulCollage(R) and SoulCollage(R) Evolving, Seena has a world-wide website and a facilitator training process working around the world as this practice expands exponentially.

Seena Frost           Seena Frost
http://www.soulcollage.com/

I engaged with Karen Mann, of Australia, in an 8 week fascinating and very instructive course of a combination of SoulCollage(R) and FasterEFT, Emotional Freedom Technique of Tapping. What a way of bringing SoulCollage(R) home and attaching it to body memory! Thank you, Karen.  (And learning to think and speak like an Australian was great fun).

Karen MannKaren Mann

Catherine Anderson is a most gracious woman-artist who has walked her path of creating a life filled with what she loves to do and be…..and that would be creator, artist, photographer, writer, woman leader and inspirer, and author of her award winning book, “The Creative Photographer”.

The Creative Photographer

http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Photographer-Catherine-Anderson/dp/1600597165/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375814650&sr=1-1&keywords=the+creative+photographer

 Catherine Anderson2Catherine Anderson

(Note: I am amazed! I just saw this on special on Amazon.com for $9.87, which has to be the bargain of the century. The wealth of knowledge, creativity and image in this book is worth much more than ten times that, so be like a phantom and treat yourself to a “steal”)

Catherine has brought SoulCollage(R) facilitator training to South Africa, India and is teaching art inspiration in Italy, being a global ambassador for the wonders wrought through soul with imagination, camera, images, lines, circles and squares. The world provides the sacred canvas for creation.

Long before I knew about SoulCollage(R), I had met and come to love Jan Phillips. I also have had her CD “All the Way to Heaven” for many years. I love every song on that and it’s hard to say I have a favorite, but “The Artist’s Creed” and “The Conversation” are right up there at the top. I play them both for my own enjoyment and contemplation and for many groups I facilitate in spirituality and holistic health.

Jan Phillips is out front of the WomanSpirit wave of life occurring now. Jan calls out loudly, but lovingly, for the Life Artist in us all, to move forward in a new form of activism that invites others to make a difference and create the change we want to be and see.  She is a force for Wisdom and Truth in our lives and in our world. She does not believe in little. She wants us to live our BIG Selves. And we do that, as one of the lyrics of her songs says, “take the hand of everyone you’re walking with!”  She is creator, artist extradinaire, teacher, author, friend and priestess. This summer, she created the first summer symposium on the campus of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs New York, “Women(s) Voices for a Change”.

Jan PhillipsJan Phillips

http://www.janphillips.com/giftshop.html

Jan’s “The Conversation” seems to me now, to be the perfect spokesperson for SoulCollage(R). In it, a person asks some very meaningful questions, and begins to hear back truthful, soul-opening answers to her queries. That is exactly what happens in SoulCollage(R).

COUNCIL Suite - WISE WOMAN“I Am your Wise Woman within. I Am with you always.”

The Conversation: (Jan Phillips)

“You are my spirit and I call on you to help me remember what I know… You are the flame that lights the path I walk, the guide I need that leads me home..”.

Anderson - Sue's Soul Collage Dave“I am Dave, your big brother, on his journey down Alzheimer’s waters.”

(The Conversation continues:)

“I am the one whose hand is in your hand, I will lead you down which ever path you choose…I am your guardian, I’m your deepest friend, I’m your deepest intuition, I’m your muse…..I am the VOICE that calls you to the light, the TRUEST of the voices that you hear.”

“Every time you call on me, I’m there for you.”

CHAKRA - 6th Chakra - Turtle  Third EyeMy 3rd Chakra Third Eye – Far Seeing Totem Animal

Questions and Answers from “The Conversation”  Jan Phillips.

“Do you have the answers that I’m looking for?”
All the answers that you seek, you have inside. “

“How will I know if I have chosen right?
If you’ve chosen out of love, love will abide.”

COUNCIL Suite - Reiki HandsI Am the One with Healing Hands. My gift to you is Peace.

“How am I to know what I am here to do?
Just be who you are , the doing will get done.”

In The Conversation, the answer given to the question posed about knowing “I am of the Light”  is to


“Take the hand of everyone you’re walking with
and the love you feel will spread that light around.”

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So I have taken the hands of Catherine, Jan and Seena and Karen and through SoulCollage(R), I will spread the that love and light around.

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