Playing Small No More...

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This is my leap. This is my walk of faith into my power, into my beauty, into my grace. I have gifts to share. I have wisdom to impart. I have a shine to shine and life is way too short to keep me from living my brightest hope and biggest dream ~ for myself and for the world.

And I am human. And I have been hiding behind a veil of smallness, of silence... for way too long... thinking that it was safer and less vulnerable and less, well, less. But no more.

2 years ago I had a dream that I was deep under the water... it felt relaxing and calm and fluid. I remember thinking, "Wow, I have been down here a long time," and I looked up toward the surface. I could still see the light.

A thought meandered slowly into my awareness, "This is how it feels when one slips away in the night..." I looked around again, I looked up. I noticed that I had not been breathing. I noticed that I was not listening to my body and recognizing its need for fresh air, for sustenance. I noticed that even though this felt like a safe and peaceful place, it would be my death... I knew I could not make it to the top to fill my lungs with fresh oxygen. I had gone too far. The last thought jolted me into survival mode: I panicked and then thought, "I didn't even say goodbye to my loved ones!" GASP, I took a breath and there was nothing but water filling my lungs!

I could feel my heart pounding. I didn't want to die, not yet, not now! I pushed with all my might to reach the surface, frantically, desperately... and then I awoke, I heard myself gasp, breathing as deeply as I possibly could.

Just writing this brings me right back, my fingers shaking as I type... tears welling... and it didn't end there.

When I jolted awake I couldn't feel my pulse. I didn't know for sure if I was really, truly alive... I didn't feel any tears. I didn't feel anything. You would think after a frightening experience such as this, my heart would be pounding in my chest, but it wasn't. I checked again. No pulse. I looked around the room with trepidation. Touched my partner to see if I could feel him. Yes, I sensed the warmth, but still I doubted. It was almost 3 am, I walked intentionally, consciously, deliberately, step by step to the living room. Still in a daze, I sent a text to my sons, my daughter, just saying that I love them so much. Just in case I had time to say goodbye... My son returned with, "I love you. Is everything okay." I was real again. I could feel the blood flush in my face. I was alive.

I am sharing this for myself, AND I am sharing this for you: if it will stir you to wake up from the dream-like state of what feels safe and secure, what has become familiar, what has become habitual and routine, but actually steals from you - ever-so-slowly, almost unnoticeably - your inherent right to live your greatest dreams and share your authentic voice and bring your unique gifts and shine your brightest light and radiate your most sacred love to/for/with the world.

If you feel the call to shine, to live your greatest life, to share your gifts with the world, then please join me in whatever way you feel to do so. This is a wake-up call from my heart to yours.

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quote by @DawnaMarkova

Day 1: Kindness

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As some of you may know, I have started a 30 Word challenge, one word at a time. It may take me 30 days, it may take me a whole year, but I am starting this journey of re-defining my life, my perspective, getting clear about what words I use and what I mean when I use them/say them. It might get a bit artsy-fartsy, ultra poetic, or hyper-philosophical for some of you, but that's who I am, that's my form of expression. @theartfulway

Thank you for joining me in spite of my airy-fairy-ness ;)

Over the years, I have read and studied many great authors; I have learned from many amazing mentors, teachers, leaders and they have at least one thing in common - clear definitions.

Take, for instance, Brené Brown... when she says "courage" she has a clearly defined meaning for that word. Through her research, her perceptions and perspectives changed on what that word means for her and for those she interviewed, and now she shares that re-defined word boldly, with confidence and with clarity. I love that she uses words that mean something to her. I want that for my own life.

I decided to redefine all my words from the way "love" feels, sees, knows the word... so, again, participation is welcomed and conversation is invited. Please respect and honour one another in your comments.

kindness

“the way love reminds me of my humanity AND my divinity”

“love that smiles all the way through me”

“love that walks with me daily, no matter how I am feeling”

What do you think? What does kindness feel/look like for you? How would you define it?

Defined by LOVE

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Who's up for a 30 WORD challenge? NOT 30 days, although it might take that long... #longpost warning :)

Definitions... what is beauty? what is happy? what is kindness? what is home? what are the words that I throw around everyday and how do they define me? tell my story?

I have noticed over the years that the most powerful messages from the most powerful people I have read/studied/learned from, have at least one thing in common... clear definition.

Like a well worn river that has carved its story into the earth, when I listen to their messages, read their stories, hear their words, I get a clear understanding of their "definition" of life, or at least the one part of life that is their passion, their message. Not defined like a straight line, but well-defined... and deeply embedded.

That reminds me of something Oprah asks often: What do you know for sure? At the end of my day, what do I know for sure? I want to start by wondering about words, important words, but regular words, words that matter... what do they really mean for me?

Well, I am starting to define my world and my words by LOVE - how can all of my words be described as if LOVE was the animating force, the essence, the ground that supports them and the air that moves them? how can I describe my world as though LOVE was the blueprint, the design, the map of my life?

When I say "beauty" I am meaning "love that invites connection with something deep within me" OR "love that fills my senses with deeper awareness" OR "the way love sees me".

When I say "home" I am meaning "the way love wraps me in its arms, comforts me, grounds me" OR "love that knows me for who I am" OR "the way love invites me into presence".

If you are hearing this and wondering what I mean, or wondering whether it is relevant in your own life… please just stay curious... and maybe it will be something of interest to you, too - my friends, colleagues, fellow travellers.

If you join in the conversation, I am inviting you to a safe, non-judgemental space... one in which we respect and honour one another's life experience and opinions... one in which we can discuss honestly and openly, without fear of what others might think or say.

Important note: If you post with any other intention, or your comments seem degrading or demeaning to others - your post will be deleted. This is me setting my boundaries so that those who want to join in the conversation feel safe and supported.

#definedbylove

 

STEPS

1) I will start with a few simple words that I use almost daily and feel them, not just say them...

2) I will work with the words, the way they sound, the way the feel, the way they touch my life, my own personal life experience, the examples I find in nature...

3) I will try to find some graphics/images that also contribute to the idea of what I am finding for my definitions...

4) I will enjoy hearing from you - exploring your own thoughts about what the definitions might mean for you, inviting you to stay curious and open to what comes up...

Re-purposing our own lives...

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The Artful Way to live _______ (fully, completely, freely, wholly, authentically, with honesty, integrity, with passion and purpose, in vulnerability...). 

The Artful Way to love _____ (abundantly, generously, bountifully, honestly, peacefully, empowered, purposefully, intentionally, consciously...).

How would you fill in those blanks? I'm very curious to know. Really. Honestly. 

These words came to me in a creative moment... rare for me these days as I find myself in restore & replenish mode rather than awake & aware mode most of the time. But I have been trying to put my finger on just exactly what I have to offer through this beautiful venture, The Artful Way.

Honestly I have had to set aside all efforts to promote what I thought it was supposed to be... so that it could become what it is: helping people (as well as myself) feel alive again! 

Using what I know, who I am, who they are, what they need... I help people (re)dis-cover the aliveness that has been covered up, covered over, hidden and protected behind years of mental/emotional constructs, behind the busy-ness of doing, behind the walls of fear behind, well, behind the projections of what we think others want to see.

I know it sounds a bit scary, but really, is it any more scary than what our lives look like right now? Even if we just pretend for awhile that our problems can't find us, our busy lives can't overwhelm us, our pain can't consume us... wouldn't you play along?! Right?!  

Expressive Arts can be a misunderstood field, because, well, who has ever said, "I'm just not creative." Almost everyone. But they couldn't be more wrong. 

it has to do with just about everything. Try to describe it and you end up with a story as long as your own life, and longer because it IS life. 

Let Nature inform us...

"Each part of nature can remind us of a quality we admire and should cultivate ourselves—the strength of the mountains, the resilience of trees, the cheerfulness of flowers." -Dr. Wayne Dyer

What is your favourite part of Nature, what you are drawn to? what moves you or touches you when you are in Nature? and why?

I have always been a tree girl; I grew up surrounded by them and inspired by them, climbing into their open arms and feeling comforted by them. I used to imagine what they experienced, what they knew, what they understood as they witnessed year after year, season after season the many changes of the earth.

Their agility, their resilience, their strength, their offering of breath and life, their colours through the seasons, their ability to surrender as needed... so many qualities I admire, so many qualities I needed to incorporate into my own life over the span of time.

I'm sure there are many, many aspects of Nature that inspire you, but perhaps next time you have an opportunity to be surrounded by or immersed in Nature, stop and listen closely to what is being shared. Are the qualities of stillness or strength or fluidity or resilience what you are sensing? needing for optimum health? for well-being? for wholeness?

Our bodies have a way of "knowing" beyond logic just what they need and how those needs can be met. As we learn to slow down and notice, be an observer of our own responses, we can tune into what is needed, what is most beneficial, what is important to our well-being.

Let Nature inform you. Let Nature share her secrets with you for moving through difficulties, for facing challenging situations, for embracing transitions. Let her teach you what she has always known.

I used to...

I used to run free and wild

in the long grasses, in the rain, 

in the bright sun.

I used to run wild and free...

 

I used to play and breathe deeply. 

I used to love long and deep and hard.

I used to dance and move my limbs randomly - 

whichsoever way they wanted to move... 

like the wind, like the sea, like the birds

taking flight and the waves crashing...

I used to be all that and more.

 

I used to course the heavenlies, spin as a celestial orb

round other orbs of gravitational pulls greater than mine

until I decided to be something else.

 

Before I found words to define light and love and joy, 

I knew them sincerely, deeply, with all of my being.

 

I used to be full to overflowing,

I used to be unconditional love until I became form,

until my perception of space became dimensionalized, 

height and weight and volume, 

breadth and depth became my walls, my container.

 

I used to run wild and free...

a beautiful thing

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this moment is a beautiful thing.

it is already part of the horizon, already within plain sight, already within reach, already right in front of our noses and yet it appears in the distance, the magnitude of it all so far away.

our minds tend to project into the future, so we look ahead, we plan, we set goals, we calculate our risks, we create scenarios so as to feel prepared, ready for what might present itself...

but this moment, this one, and this one, each so full of perspective and colour and dimension and life...

this moment, the one in which the sky meets the earth and the earth meets me.

this one, in which I breathe in and hold with wonder that which is already manifest. 
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I am Grace and I am Grow

I am Grace, well, actually I am known as Theresa by my family and friends, but I feel aligned with the word Grace so completely that it just fits, it just makes sense, it just expresses who I am and what I want to embody as a person in this life on planet Earth. 

I experience Grace not just as God's favour, or a pleasing quality - as many would define it - but a way of life, a quality of being, an open and willing space, a beautiful place for us to truly experience life, fullness of life, abundance of life, presence of life.

For me, Grace, much like Mother Earth, offers herself to every seed with unconditional love, inviting and nurturing growth, supporting life. If you have ever noticed that warm, pleasant goodness when a loved one smiles tenderly, gazes at you softly, or experienced that glowing sensation in a genuine embrace; if you have ever looked into the eyes of a newborn and felt tears well up because you can see and feel, once again, the innocence and hope, the newness of life right before you; if you have ever rested in the comfort of a mother's caress, the safety of a father's arms... right there: abide right there just for a moment, in Grace.

Isn't she stunning. Isn't she amazing. Isn't she wonderful. Isn't that what you would like to feel every moment of every day? Would be a perfect world for me to have all of God's creation experience such life-giving nourishment, such abundance, such bliss. 

But I am also Grow. Yes, I need to reach and stretch and explore and venture beyond what I have been told is possible. I am someone who loves to learn, loves to understand, loves to wonder about the whys and the hows as well as the why nots and how comes. I am curious. I am inclined to seek the light, to unfold from my seed-like existence, push through the ground, open myself to the sun and the rain, expose myself to the elements such that I can grow to my fullest potential. 

For me, Grow, offers us opportunities to use the gifts and talents, the genius we are all born with, the lessons we learn throughout our lives, the nature AND the nurture of life experience to not only benefit ourselves but the many others who cross our paths, whose lives we touch.

Wholeness : A World View

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As babes, we experience life as one continuous creative exploration. We do not know ourselves as a unique combination of Body, Mind, and Heart, but as One. As we grow and learn and experience life, we become conditioned to think of ourselves as separate from one another, as separate from our environment, our world, and eventually separate from ourselves.

With each life experience, we begin to see through compartmentalized lenses - definitions, types and kinds, and categories and systems. What was once a vast ocean of possibility soon becomes a limiting perspective of good or bad, right or wrong. From an evolutionary understanding, this type of critical thinking was important. We needed to be able to differentiate between what was edible and what was not, what was essential from what was not, in order to survive. But have we gone too far?

At Grace and Grow, we hope to restore wholeness to our sense of Self through Expressive Arts activities and exercises. By awakening the body, alerting the mind, and enlivening the heart, we invite wonder, connection and joy back into our lives so that wholeness becomes our world view. 

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Winter has its own beauty...

For me there is a profound stillness, frames of life frozen in silence, hushed by its own beauty, not waiting for something else to happen, not looking forward to another day, another accomplishment, another glory... simple there, simply being, simply still.

So I reflect on my own sense of where I am going, what I am expecting of life, of myself, what I am "looking forward" to and I pause...

intentionally,

with purpose,

I draw upon the stillness of this beautiful moment... and I sigh, with gratitude, with hope in my heart.

becomes her vision

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the waking dream comes to life

and lives her vision through me.

emerging from the chrysalis,

she sets her healed heart free.

 

mother of the seeds of change, 

who nurtures them as they grow.

you planted a dream in my heart

to illuminate all that i know.

 

you taught me how to fully release

my fear of becoming the dream,

showing me how to walk in my truth

reclaiming self-love and esteem.

 

as i become all that i am

together we shall fly,

the spirit of transformation

reflected in hummingbird's eye.

 

-adapted from the original poem written by Jamie Sams, an excerpt from "becomes her vision"

 

this message spoke straight to my heart: the coming to life, the emerging, the setting free, the learning to walk in my truth, the re-claiming,.. even now i weep writing these words... because of the truth they hold for me in this time of my life, because of the truth they unfold for me in this time of my life.

it might be happening differently for you, but i am much more deeply aware of my purpose in this moment, perhaps more than i have ever been. 

Jamie Sams, author of the book "The Thirteen Original Clan Mothers", has offered me a gift of knowing, a gift of understanding, a gift of wisdom in the words that she whispered in my ear as I read the above poem. i was moved to melody so that i could touch it with my whole self. and sing it with my whole heart. and even though my voice does not do it justice, i will live it with my whole life for all to see... until there is a new song.

perhaps it is because it is the time of the 13th moon, perhaps it is because this is the time for me to wear the mantle of the 13th Clan Mother, "Becomes Her Vision". Or perhaps there is some other tugging on my heart strings that helps me realize and manifest the direction I need to take in this moment and the next and the next until there is another mantle, another way, another purpose. for right now, i feel steady and still, yet moving and awake, fully alive in my desire to shine, to light up the world with the spirit of transformation, with the healing power of unconditional love that sees beyond appearance, beyond gender, race or creed.

and so i ask you to join me: 

in the coming to life,

the emerging,

the setting free, 

the learning to walk in truth,

the re-claiming.

in the becoming all that you are.

 

 

if only i were as free...

oh the dance...

if only i were as free, to move with agility and grace in my everyday,

to embrace this moment, this breath,

and then this one and the next

       as if it were a dance and not a struggle...

to feel the wind and not resist but allow...

not confront but accept,,,

not react but respond to life's rhythmic messages.

i love that such simple reminders can bring me back...

to my true nature, that of flow, of grace, of simplicity, of love.

re-membering...

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From all the teachings of the Bible, there are a few choice sayings attributed to Jesus. This is one of my favourites...

Do this in remembrance of Me.

Remembering is such a unique way to say what is so vital to our existence every day.

There is "re", a coming again, because He knew how many times we would need to find ourseles.

There is "member", a form that shifts and shapes us, a holding of treasure, a body of Christ nature that presents itself as a container and nothing more... that connotes belonging to/of.

There is "Me", a knowing of immense potential who walked among us many many times, each time asking us to 'do' (actively participate), yet be (rest in the stillness of knowing).

brave beginnings...

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brave has been a topic in my life recently, showing up, living and breathing life with love - no matter what comes my way.

well, this is me, showing up, being brave, embarking on a new adventure. saying no to things that limit me, that keep me from exploring life, pursuing my passion, realizing my purpose. saying yes to all the uncertainties, the enigmas, the seemingly unsolvable and unknowable mysteries that i face daily, moment by moment, in fact.

what i find helpful is this:

a few things i find familiar... the beating of my heart, the consistent, continuous rhythm that moves me like an ocean, that soothes me like a lullaby, that beckons me to remember who i am, the flowers whose fragrance and beauty greet me at my front porch every summer, the trees who whisper their wisdom in the wind.

a few things i hold dear... colours of the early morning, twinkling stars of the night sky, slipping under the covers and grinning in an i-am-so-blessed kind of way, the snuggles from my loved ones, finding honey as I kiss their sweet necks, snail mail from my friends.

a few things that i long for... peace for those who have never known it, a sense of belonging for those who feel lost and alone, health and wellness for those whose life experience has given them one too many opportunities to seek comfort in escaping, avoiding and/or addictive behaviours, conscious awareness for those who are looking for answers.

and so i step out, being brave, beginning this new chapter of my life-long journey...

i choose life, i choose brave, i choose to continue to show up in my own life, over and over and over again... so that others can see my example and choose the same.