Happy Earth Day

“Mom, please don’t fill our new house with feathers and logs and sticks and stuff, okay?”
“Okay,” I say.
Well, that didn’t quite work out. When you walk in the front door, you’ll find an orangish piece of selenite. A nest with four robin’s eggs, abandoned during the house project, is tucked into the crook of a birch branch where I meditate. A tree stump made into a table. Feathers, crystals, copper chunks I found- rest on window sills. It’s true, it didn’t quite work, keeping the outside out. I brought it in. But the girls have never complained. I think they know, like I do, it is all a reminder of what nature gives us-what helps us to feel spacious and free and wild. What defines beauty and magnificence. What gives us mystery and peace. Helps us feel grounded. I won’t talk about earthing, or energy, vibrations or forest bathing in this post (though I’m very tempted.) I’ll just say that bringing the outside in, is a way for me to honor and be grateful for our living earth. And be reminded of our true home, our responsibility to it, and the family we share it with. Happy Earth Day. www. life-artistry.com

“The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.”
Rabindranath Tagore

Melting

A friend of mine told a friend of mine who told me, about a plant that gives off enough heat that it can melt the snow. Not more than 24 hours later, I come upon this plant that has seemingly melted snow. In a perfect circle. What can I learn from this? That perfect photo opps present themselves when you talk about it and are intrigued? No, I think there’s something more here…

I’ve known about this plant my whole life, playing around them, splashing through the marshy mud, in search of frogs on spring mornings (mostly when I was a little kid…and maybe recently too) But I didn’t know about the heat thing. I didn’t know about the melting thing. If I had, I may have used it as a metaphor, throughout my life, to remind me that within our nature, we have our own tools to survive when things get rough/frozen/icy. And that warmth (aka kindness/grace/peace/love) when we allow it to emanate, can create a sort of circle around us that melts away what could have kept us frozen, and gives us space to be who we need to be, in all our blossoming glory. It’s true, right? Love can melt even the coldest…

Nature. We are connected in amazing ways. And it can help us in fascinating ways.

Expanding

We came across this nest on a recent snowy hike, abandoned and empty. And I think the quote is a nice reminder of what empty, letting go, the exhale, can provide. “A nest of stillness.” Of course, this quote is talking about meditation, and it’s one of the reasons I paired it with the nest. (Don’t ask why I apparently have printed quotes along with me on hikes) But the nest can also be symbolic of how we see “empty spaces.” I’ll be the first to admit that at times, an “empty nest” can be lonely. Even scary, when you think about it. But maybe that’s the point. Because here’s what I realize. Like practically everything, there’s more to this nest than meets the eye. Though I’m no bird identifying expert, I’m believing that this tiny nest was made by a hummingbird. Hummingbirds make delicate nests to hold petite, jelly bean sized eggs snuggly. But remarkably, amongst the velvety lining and woven twigs, bits of leaves, and plant fibers that keep the eggs cozy, they also use spider silk, threading their nest together and anchoring it to the foundation. This silk isn’t just to keep it together, it is to help the nest to expand. Used brilliantly to allow space for hatched babies to grow.

We talk of this emptiness, of letting go, of exhaling, of creating space —often in yoga. And in meditation. And pretty much anything I teach. That nest of emptiness? We can brilliantly weave it together with invisible filaments that’s not only strong, but that will expand when we breathe in the endless possibilities. On the mat, and off. For me, scary then hatches into exciting. And adventure. Join us for class at Balancing Arts. Experienced, welcoming instructors. A beautiful sunny studio. A truthful community that gathers together. And invisible to the eye maybe, but always present, a foundation of support while you expand to live your light. Hope to see you soon. Www.balancingartsstudio.com #yoga #meditation #yogastudio#liveyourlight #wellness #creativity #lifeartistry

When Creativity Drops In

I was sort of on a roll yesterday—writing this book about Life-Artistry and creativity that I’m working on. It was one of those times where the words were just pouring onto the page—when my computer glitched up.

Of course, I stopped what I was writing to fix the problem, worrying about today’s meetings and my need for the computer to be in working condition.

In the meantime, my high school daughter was in the other room, and I figured she was working on homework. She had told me she had a pile full.

But I was wrong. What she was working on was a sketch. A random sketch of an eye. She brought it to me while I was in the midst of a software update and dropped it on my desk to show me.

When I looked at it this sketch, I could see the watery shine on top of the dark. It could be inspired from our walk we took that morning, where we had discovered a secret bridge that overlooked the churning creek. The water was silvery gray like the tones a charcoal pencil can make on white paper. There’s a tear in her drawing too, which I’m thinking is the real force behind this sketch—come from the sadness she was feeling about someone she loves who was crying that day. Whatever her inspiration was, it WAS. And she listened, and let it come out in the form it chose to that moment. Usually it comes out for her in a song that she sings, or a tune she picks on her guitar. Today it wasn’t. But it WAS, in its own way.

That’s how creativity is. It sneaks up on you, and asks you to join in in the swirl of discovery and emotion. It doesn’t always come in the same form and it doesn’t always come at ideal times. But it comes.

After she dropped the drawing on my desk, we went and sat together around the fireplace. She got into her homework, and I turned back to my writing. My inspiration by that time was gone. Floated off a bit disgruntled that I had so rudely turned away from it when the computer started wining. And my daughter? She finished her homework in no time.

What I know about this young person who was sitting across from me completing a psych quiz is that she really couldn’t have done her homework the way it needed to be done, until this little bit of creative energy had broken out of her. So she didn’t fight it. She just listened, and drew. And did her homework later.

It reminds me of one of my favorite books by Elizabeth Gilbert -that creativity is a separate force, called ideas, that visits us, maybe when we least expect it, like on a windy Sunday afternoon, and we have to be ready to listen, recognize it and honor it enough to go out and play with it when it calls. (She said it more eloquently than that) But the point is, it visits all of us, in different ways, in different forms. And the question is, do we see it?

This drawing of the eye…I’ll keep it near my desk. To remind me that when creativity visits me, in whatever form, it is my commitment, my duty, and my honor, to give it the time it deserves to come forth.

I’ll get to my homework later.

Thanks, Hailie. For helping me to see this again. Www.life-artistry.com

Speaking Up

Today, as I was headed out into the spring rain for a hike in the woods,  I noticed I was tagged on a friend’s post on FB. He had written something  about the shootings in Florida. It was humble and  heartfelt. And then another friend commented on his post. And by the time I was finished with my walk in the woods, when I reconnected, there were about 94 comments. It seems to me to be pretty much a debate about guns. If we should have them, or if we shouldn’t. It was getting pretty heated. I think it’s a valid debate to have, because it is a question that needs to be answered. But as I was walking along the path today with the tips of the twigs dripping tear shaped drops, I thought about my daughter’s text, the day after the shooting. “Mom, why isn’t anyone doing anything about this?” I gave her my answer, in the language I speak, which isn’t political and it isn’t based on history or statistics. After all, I teach yoga. I guide meditation. I write about peace and love. And today, when I read the post from my friend, I didn’t type in my answer as a “like” and a comment.  All I did was leave that two-hands-pressing-each-other  in the form of prayer-emoji.

Of course, I do think it is important we work to fix this problem. It’s important each individual have the right to speak out. That members of community, of our country,  almost in a frenzy, churn energy up and become passionate. Because it is often in our most passionate moments that change can be done. It is important to have a voice, and to express our thoughts, as the young girl did, as my friend has,  because it is important to “do something.” And most might feel it is probably more helpful than posting an emoji of prayer hands. After all, great changes can take place even as one.

So make no mistake… I think it’s important, really important, to continue working on this, debating guns, figuring out school safety, background checks, and all of the stuff that will protect our kids. I taught elementary school. I had a classroom of 26 kids under my watch, year after year. Most of my favorite all time people are kids and teens. My daughter is in a classroom teaching kindergartners as I type. And while violence is everything I’m against, I can pull out a metaphorical sharp sword here and there to defend what needs defending. So I do think this debate is important…

But here’s something more…and in addition to, what everyone is saying. And though people have said it before, I’ll say it again…

Let’s go beyond. Let’s go deeper. Let’s peel it back and look closer. Let’s notice that there’s real, and severe, and deep fractures that need healing in our communities . These fractures are in kids, and teens, and families, and corporations, and our environment. They present themselves in  fear, and anguish and anger, and addiction and insecurity masked in ego and real and true sicknesses, in global warming and crashing economies. There are fractures that need healing or the violence won’t stop, no matter what we provide or take away from teens.

And I humbly suggest, that while and during everyone’s outcries, that in the midst of the outcries we still take time for silence. Not just the silence of prayer and meditation. Which I do believe are powerful. But the silence that is collective. The metaphorical silence that just for a moment, is a moment free from anger and pointing fingers; a space to listen, and hear. That leaves the space to find answers…and even more importantly, the real questions, so we can get to the real cause which can once and for all eliminate the symptoms.

The debating is good, it stretches closed minds and expands narrow thinking. But there’s a fine line to the manner in which we use the energy to solve this problem. A fine line in the manner in which we work towards a solution of peace and safety. Because done in a manner that perpetuates peace, I believe, puts us on a track where we can find the answer to the deepest problem…

A school shooting is so, so much more tragic than the weapons used. A school shooting is the undeniable truth that we  are, in shocking and horrific ways, turning on each other.

There is a way to fix things. And I believe it has something to do with the word, “together.”

In the “prayer hands,” not representing any specific religion but the human earthly condition; if both of these hands press together with the same force, they begin to feel as one. 

So, like I said before… while all the debate is going on, I’ll speak up and say that I believe, one of the ways great changes can take place, is  as “One.”

Live Your Light

Love.

This is a photo I took the other day in a small patch of wild near my house. It is a picture of a tiny pond; more like an overgrown puddle, set in the middle of winter when the temps were 4 degrees or 2. I took the photo because it was inspiring to me, that the ground could be completely frozen, yet bubbling up from a source I couldn’t see, was this pure spring water. 

It won’t freeze. Not if it gets colder. Not if someone tries to block it, or divert it. Not if someone would cover it so no light could penetrate in. It won’t freeze over. Ever.

Today is Valentine’s Day, and because I woke to a sunrise that was bleeding love colors into the morning sky, I couldn’t help but think about the word love. A sister sent me the word of the day: “Bhakti,” in Sanskrit, essentially means love. A sort of devotional love.

So, I asked myself, while I watched the sky turn lovelier, what is love to me?

The pond-puddle near my yard… it can’t help bubbling up.  It’s too full of its pure liquid treasure to keep it all in, so it overflows up into the world.

Some might not like a spring like this. After all, it can get your shoes wet. Could leak into your basement. Some folks might even fear drowning.

But to me, a spring like this is…well…  

Kinda of like what love means to me. A love without conditions.

Did you notice the shape of the pond in the photo? If you look with wide open eyes, you’ll maybe see the shape I do?

A wild heart.  Not perfect. But still…it will never freeze over.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Love,

Sheri

Beauty

She walked up quietly and peacefully. We both stood and stared at each other for moments. I was curious. And tho I’ve been around deer my whole life (even held a fawn) I was filled with, I’ll admit it, a sense of wonder. She seemed so too. And she was alert. And ready to run or change course, if there was danger. But there wasn’t, so she didn’t. My grandma taught me that, like all of nature, deer will do what it takes to thrive. For instance, they create paths in the woods that become worn down trails-best to use the path of least resistance. These paths are like a habit, and unless there is a threat, or bad conditions-they use the same ones over and over. It takes less energy. I realize how this is similar to what we do, in our minds. Our thought patterns follow neuro-pathways in the brain-worn paths. If we are used to walking along the “stressful” trails, that is how we will live most of our life. It’s like a habit. Being stressed can become a habit and it is how we will react to not only the big things, but little things. And for some, stress just becomes a way of being. BUT, if we focus on new ways of thinking, and are invested in these thoughts with emotion, we can make new paths in our brain, like deer make new paths. So what I realize-through experience-is that the practice of meditation isn’t just a feel good -in -the -moment thing. It is changing our brains. It is making clear new paths so that life is experienced in a new way. So when something imperfect comes up, we take the path that helps us respond with less stress, more patience, more balance. More grace. Life, then, is experienced like this-this more beautiful way. Like a quiet walk in the woods. Where everything is at peace. Together. Where we can experience curiosity. And a sense of wonder. Imagine that! Balancing Arts is offering an inspiring, thought provoking Life-Artistry meditation program. Learn more about the brain and meditation? Jim Morningstar,PhD, will be one of our guest instructors. The program begins Jan 18. For more information, visit www.balancingartsstudio.com. Hope you’ll join us. See you on the trails. #meditation  #peace #creativity#dontmissout #yoga #life-artistry

Discoveries

I came upon this cottage in some remote place hidden in a forest a few years ago. It looked small, and I imagined it dark inside, with cobwebs and dusty furniture. But I was mistaken. Through this door, behind this wall, was a beautiful garden. With wildlife, and sun streaming through the trees. Some blossoms opening on vines. And seeds popping up through the dirt growing into what they were meant to. Beginning April 12, Balancing Arts Life-Artistry will be offering a special program based on modern science and ancient practices. Designed specifically for teens, it’ll be yoga and meditation and life-artistry techniques. 

What does this have to do with beautiful discoveries found behind closed doors? My intention is that we will find this out each week in class. Registration is now open. Www.balancingartsstudio.com #yoga#unlimitedpotential #teenopportunities #balance #lifeskills #liveyourlight

Searching Nature(s)

I was one of those little kids with muddy knees and swamp soaked tennies. The woods were my playground. Hiking worn deer paths and dipping toes in icy brooks was what I did. A lot of what I learned growing up involved my time spent among the trees. Yet as an adult I became aware that for as much as I knew about nature, there was more to discover. One such treasure was the coveted morel mushroom. When I learned they existed, I couldn’t wait to begin the search.

But first, you need to learn what to look for. So I did research online. In books. The tips of finding the morel were plentiful. Search under a deal elm or among an old apple orchard. After a good rain and a few warm days. When the lilacs bloom.

But when I walked the woods, I couldn’t find.

So you find a guide/teacher to take you further. A friend would show us what to look for. Do you know what it’s like when you take a picture of a flower with your smart phone? You point the camera to the petals, and look through the lens. All you see is blurriness until all of a sudden the camera adjusts. The flower pops into focus. And you see! A teacher can point the camera, but it’s the process of your Self adjusting that brings it into focus.

Which makes you realize…

There comes a time when you need to search on your own. I chose early mornings. Before my world woke up. It was peaceful and quiet.

You never know what you’ll come upon. Sometimes it was scary being alone. Who knew what lurked in parts of the dark woods that I hadn’t been. I could get stung, scratched by thorns and lost. Yes, if I’d stray from the path…

At times you question and consider giving up.  I’d scan the tops of trees for white dying limbs with remnants of bark. I’d speed through the forest for two year dead elms that the internet promised would neighbor the morel. And even if I did find a mushroom, would it be real, or the false morel? Was I the only one who searched and didn’t find?

But you do find…you discovery along the way. I came upon an albino fawn once when I slowed down. Something I would have never seen had I not been on this path. Without realizing, I was becoming more in tune with nature. Being still not just in body but mind, I’d now notice how the sun would slant through leaves and dance along the forest floor. Breathing steady, nature would come alive around me; chirping birds, chipmunks scampering. I could smell garlic mustard. Wild leeks, and flowering blossoms. Feel the moist coolness of fern tickle my thighs. I was becoming more aware, like I had been as that little girl with pigtails down to her hips.

So that soon, you begin to see through the layers. When I took my eyes from the tops of trees, looked down past the umbrella leaves, the blood root, trillium, and spring beauties, sometimes pushing aside what was hiding my view… When I’d search through the layers, around a felled tree that just felt like it would have morels around it instead of thinking it matched a description in a book…I stopped being an intruder in nature.

And you see things from a different perspective. I’d sink my knees into the moist muddy earth. I began to feel a part of it all, or it all, of me. And suddenly, indescribably, it would come into focus like the blurry lens of Self suddenly adjusting -the tattered worn leaves pressed into the earth, bark chips matching the browns. Contrasting bright green sprouting up intermittently. Then there they were…these beautiful sculpted morels. One popping into view. Another. Then a cluster.  Like magic, only beyond.

It feeds you. Squeezing the hollow stalk a thumb width above its roots, I’d pick a few and take them home. These would nourish my body.  But…it was more than that.

And because of that, you want more. Once you get a glimpse, you can’t stop. Forever you search, aware there are these treasures in nature to be discovered. You know it’s real. That it’s true. You know that even if for the moment you aren’t seeing…it’s always there.

So you stay on the path.  Even when you leave the woods, you’ll be changed in some way. You’ll experience more fully. See from a different perspective. The trees a part of the forest and the forest a part of the trees. Even when you leave the woods. Yes, you’ll see things in ways you hadn’t before.

Maybe you’ll even notice that what seemed like just a blog about searching outer nature, also was about searching the nature within.

Blessings on your Search.

Live Your Light.
Sheri

Put in a Good Word

I always appreciate a good word.

 

I was recently involved in NSAA’s Hand to Heart Event that took place at the Arts Mill. Because the intent of the evening centered around “giving,”myself and another committee member/friend were trying to come up with a small gift to give to each of the attendees. What we ended up gifting to each was a smooth black rock with a word inscribed on it.

 

I liked this small gift. I really appreciated that each person received a simple rock. And a simple word.

 

The printed word. As an author, it is my job to select just the perfect combination of words to communicate the message. I am currently working on two manuscripts, one that must be a collection of no less than 65,000 words, and one that must be no more than 600 words. Both of the editors that I am working with will hold me to the same challenge-does each and every word serve a purpose?

 

In yoga, words serve a purpose, as well. Speaking with a friend and  fellow student the other day, we discussed the vibrational frequencies of words. Of Mantras.

 

In every day life of course we use words often; in songs, in poetry, in the books that we read. Newspapers, magazines, the back of a cereal box, Facebook, twitter, blogs and linked in. Texts. “Ttyl. Lol. ILU” We see words on the tattoo, on the biceps on our accupuncturists. Words are on signs. On bumper stickers. Words are scribbled on scrap paper as notes we write to our kids and stick in their lunch bags.

 

Many religions and spiritualties talk of  the Word communicated through sound.

 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

 

“OM”  is considered to be the most significant word of Mantra tradition. It is thought to be the most chanted sound among all the sacred sounds on earth.

 

For me, words are wickedly powerful. They can slice like the flash of a sword or can warm and melt like a cup of hot cocoa. While most people might enjoy receiving a fuzzy new sweater as a Sweetest day gift, I’ll take a fuzzy word from the heart any day. Okay, stick it on a smooth rock that I can keep in my pocket and you’ll be my forever friend.

 

How do we dress these words?

With the potency of the        space,

the silence,

the white paper            that surrounds them.

 

And then we adorn them with more.

Words can become sexier, like a love song, with the accessories of punctuation. You choose the right mark and you are adding rhythm and tempo to these collections of letters. Consider the use of the comma, and exclamation point! the semi colon; The question mark? Periods are serious. Give me three and you leave much to my imagination…



I know, some people may contest that words are too confining, too rigid. Too defining. Maybe you’ve even muttered the words,  “words just can’t express”. Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t that words fall short, but that we fall short in the challenge of allowing the “indescribable feelings” to be realized enough, to be felt enough, experienced fully. I think maybe there is always a language to express, if we allow ourselves to see the subtleness. These words are placed like see-through dew drops on the air- colored filaments of a spider’s web, bringing just enough clarity when the light hits right, so that we can see the intricacies of the interwoven collection of feelings.

 

Oh, you don’t agree with that run on sentence? Then look at it in a different light. How does it affect you when someone you love holds you in his arms and whispers into your ear, “words just can’t express the way that I feel…”  What do those words express?

 

Words are revered by well known  folk too. These folks have written words about words:

 

 “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
― Rudyard Kipling

 

Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”
― Aldous HuxleyBrave New World

 

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
― Mother Teresa

 

Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”
― Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind

 

 “Because even the smallest of words can be the ones to hurt you, or save you.”
― Natsuki Takaya

 

 “I always surprise myself on my ability to turn a phrase. Words are, in my not so humble opinion, the most inexhaustible source of magic; capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.”
― J.K. Rowling

 

Freedom is…the right to write the wrong words.”
― Patti Smith

 

Be silent or let thy words be worth more than silence.”
― Pythagoras

 

In the end, why does someone write a blog about words?

 

Just to remind myself of the beauty and simplicity of this powerful form of expression.

 

Also, because I have two manuscripts due by the end of this month and I’m suffering with a bout of  writer’s block just at this moment. So I thought I’d play.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Peace.

 

Truth.

 

Namaste.

 

“Neither the lyrics of a hundred songs nor the rhymes of a thousand poems will ever resonate in my story as much as one single word written from your heart and given to mine.” Smb.