“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

~ Carl Jung

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Standing at a Crossroads

It seems the concept of forgiveness has been coming at me from lots of different directions lately.  Several of the blogs I follow had this theme last week in discussions of the beginning of Lent.  Most significantly for me, though, was an intensive training weekend I attended about a month ago.  The four day weekend was described as an experiential training to prepare for helping people recover from grief.  This is an area I want to pursue in my new career path, so I went.  I was aware that some feelings about the losses associated with leaving my job would surface, but that seemed like it would probably be a good thing for me as well.  I went expecting some uncomfortable feelings, but anticipating both professional and personal growth.  

The Grief Recovery Method was developed by John W. James and Russell Friedman who are the founders of the Grief Recovery Institute and authors of  The Grief Recovery Handbook.  Their model is a structured multi-step process  that leads grievers  through the completion of emotions related to their  loss.  It requires a thorough review of all aspects of the relationship you are grieving.  As a part of the training each of the twelve participants selected a loss to work through using the process.  It was suggested that participants select a straight forward loss of a person not a situation, so I decided not to work on the job loss during the weekend.   The process was emotional but helpful in completing feelings about the loss I selected; however, by the fourth day as everyone began to discuss their plans for using the training in their work and as their excitement grew, I found myself slipping into despair.  As in, I could barely make it out of the room at the end of the day without breaking into sobs.

This month has been busy with two weeks of vacation fun and then some catch up work related to my job situation; but, I have had an acute awareness of needing to do the work on my job loss.   With all of the discussion of forgiveness last week, I couldn’t put it off any longer; so, I worked my way through the process.  I think part of the reason I did not want to do the work was related to my misconceptions about what forgiveness really is.  Forgiveness is not denying the pain; nor does it require me to forget what happened to me.  This experience, these relationships I have lost –both the good ones and the bad ones – will always be a part of me.  I intend to use all of these experiences to continue to grow and become a healthier, kinder, more loving human being. 

This has been a difficult process to complete, but honestly not nearly as agonizing  as all the pain I have been carrying around with me every moment of the last seven months.   I believe my grief has been a major block in my efforts to move forward in my career.  So, I am saying good-bye to the pain.  This weekend I made these art journal pages to remind myself of the crossroads where I have been standing for all these months.  One direction leads to freedom; the other back into resentment, anger, fear and sadness.  Am I done with those feelings?  I don’t know, perhaps not entirely; but I don’t believe they will return with the debilitating intensity of the last months.   It is with a grateful heart that  I write this post  to hold myself accountable for the decision I have made to say good-bye to the pain, claim my  freedom, and move forward into whatever waits for me on down the road in this amazing journey that is my life.  I think at last I am ready to continue.

To join a Lenten project of making crosses visit:  www.truenortharts.com

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Living in the Duality of My Life

It has not been a good weekend.  I spent Saturday morning apply for a job online.   Applying for jobs is not fun and writing cover letters is the worst.  Somehow, no matter how many  online applications I complete, something in the process doesn’t work correctly and I end up in chaos.  What should be a relatively quick process takes me hours.  And then there is the emotional agony of it all.  Once again I am putting myself out there… (hmm, wonder if that is why I screw up the process every time?)

I believe strongly in the power of thinking positively and being optimistic, but the bottom line is this process scares me.  The more I try to deny my fear and focus on the positive aspects of this change, the more I try to see this process as being filled with possibility and opportunity, the more depressed I feel.  Don’t get me wrong, I do think this change in my life opens up new possibilities and opportunities and I am incredibly grateful for my life; but, the process of figuring out what comes next is hard. 

I prefer my life to be predictable.  I prefer to know what comes next.  The unknown scares me.  I went downstairs last night in a black mood to put those dark feelings on paper in my art journal.  I started the process by painting both pages with black gesso and adding the word FEAR in red letters around the page.  This is what evolved over the course of the evening. 

The realization that came to me as I worked on these pages is this.  The more I try to deny my fear, my sadness over the loss of what was, my anger that I find myself here at this time in my life; the worse I feel.  I think this is because when I do this to myself, I add shame over not being more positive to the list.

It is challenging to live in the duality of our feelings, to be present with all of what we think, feel, and experience.  My natural way of being is to swing between the extremes.  I can be positive and up or negative and down.  It is much harder for me to live in the totality of my experience.  So I like this message that arose from my center last night to feel the fear and follow my heart anyway.      

It is so easy for me to accept other people where they are, but so hard for me to give that same level of acceptance to myself, but I am going to try.  Today I am embracing all of this experience – the good and the bad.  Today I am living in the duality that is my life.   

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Message from a Hummingbird

I have had another bird visitation, this time from a Rufous Hummingbird.  My sister, my husband and I spent most of the last two weeks in the North Georgia mountains.  One day last week we were sitting in our family room being lazy, surfing the internet and, pinning beautiful things on pinterest.  I looked up and saw a Rufous Hummingbird sitting on  top of our sunflower seed feeder.  I jumped up and filled the hummingbird feeder, but by the time I got it hung outside he was gone.  By the next morning the food was frozen.  I did not see him again before we had to return to Atlanta and our real world responsibilities.  I am hoping he will be back when we go up this weekend.

This visit from that little bird was special for several reasons.  One, I love hummingbirds and it is rare to see a hummingbird in North Georgia in the winter.  According to  www.gahummer.org there were 11 sightings of Rufous hummingbirds in the entire state during the winter of 2011.  The other reason this sighting was exciting for me was more personal. 

On my birthday in November my daughter suggested I draw a medicine card from a set we keep in our mountain home.  I drew the hummingbird card.  The hummingbird card reads:

“If hummingbird is your personal medicine, you love life and its joys.  Your presence brings joy to others.  You join people together in relationships which bring out the best in them.  You know instinctively where beauty abides and, near or far, you journey to your ideal.  You move comfortably within a  beautiful environment and help others taste the succulent nectar of life.  The hummingbird is a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible and will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own circumstances.” 

A beautiful birthday message.  The visit last week from the hummingbird reminded me of a wonderful family dinner filled with good food, love and laughter and of the message from the hummingbird card.  I hope I can live this message through this year of change and new beginnings as I continue to build a new direction for my career.  I hope that I can find new ways to bring joy to others and to help them grow in their journeys to become their very best selves.

My daughter loved the message so much she and my precious grandson Jackson gave me this  hummingbird charm.  I wear it every day and it reminds me of my gratitude for my wonderful loving family and my desire to be a loving force in a world that can sometimes be so difficult and painful.  After the hummingbird visit last week, I created this art journal page as another reminder of this little bird’s beautiful message.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Winter is not my favorite season.  The stark drab landscape and the short days get to me after a while.  I also miss the garden.  I love flowers of all kinds; and, winter blossoms are special  treasures.  Last week I was up in the mountains and these beauties were blooming.  It has been a mild winter, but looks like we are about to get some cold temps and maybe a little snow.  Hope the flowers  survive.    They certainly were good for my light and color deprived soul.  Looking forward to spring.

Monday, February 6, 2012

More Words for 2012

More words for 2012.

Alison's word:  Ascend

This past year has been a year of change for my daughter Alison.   As a part of her adjustment to a divorce she did not want and to single parenting her beautiful two year old son, she has resumed rock climbing, a hobby she had as an adolescent.  She has come through a difficult time, but now it is time for her to ascend.

Matt's word:  Believe
Believe is my son Matt's word.  He has experienced a lot of change in the last few years.  He is in his second year of a wonderful marriage to his best friend and is progressing in a challenging career.  He chose believe to remind himself to believe in himself.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Last weekend I went to a Grief Recovery workshop.   The workshop was experiential, so I was expecting to work on some of my grief issues, but was not really ready for the intensity of my grief.  I have been in a funk for most of the last week.  Last night I went downstairs to do an art journal page that had been forming in my head all day.  The image was of a bird in a cage and was titled:  I FEEL STUCK!

The finished page turned out much differently than I had planned.  Through the process of creating the page, I found the bird outside the cage and a much more hopeful message.  The creative process is an amazing thing.  If we can give ourselves over to the process, it will work it’s transformative magic on us.  If we can let it happen, it will bring us healing and help us to move toward a place of wholeness. Feeling much better now - out of the cage.