Life Lessons from a Pecan Tree

“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”  ~ Joseph Cambell

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(My favorite view in the back yard)

There are pecan trees all over our land at the new house.  They aren’t native to this area, apparently, but were planted long ago and have since spread across these woods.  Witnessing the life cycles of plants that I am no longer familiar with is exciting.  Each day we go for a hike and observe what is changing around us - listening to the stories of the plants and this land.

Right after we first arrived here, the pecan tree branches were heavy with bright green husks with newly formed pecans growing inside.  A few weeks later, pecan husks started falling from the sky, landing on the soft earth with a thud.  I could barely contain my excitement.  I ran to look under the trees and unopened husks were lying all over the ground.  “What a waste!” I cried.  Perfectly good pecan babies were lying all over the ground, never to see their full potential.  I pondered this performance for weeks, wondering why it should be so and wishing those husks had stayed on a little longer.  Shortly thereafter, perfectly formed pecans started falling from the branches without the husks, a feast ready to be cured and eaten.

I learned this past weekend that when the weather turns cool and fall is upon us, the pecan tree in all her wisdom drops the husks that don’t seem viable – some worm or weevil has eaten the inside of the nut, and therefore not a good candidate for a future tree.  Instead of wasting her energy to ripen that nut, she drops the bad ones, and focuses her energy on the remaining good nuts – nourishing them to rain abundance when perfectly ripe.  

Two months in to (what feels like) a new home and a new town, I see the bright, unopened husks of many dreams lying around me on the ground.  I find myself unsure of why I am here, or where the path leads me.  Back in Colorado, I had creative dreams.  Big dreams.  I allowed the universal creative energy to flow through me and worked to make these dreams a reality through sheer grit and determination.  Here, I just don’t know.  Not all of the same dreams feel right.  In slow motion these dreams have released their grasp on my branches, and fallen to the ground with a solid thud.  The spark is gone.  I look around and wonder what is next?  Which one of the whispers left clinging will come to fruition? 

I’m in a place of in-between.  We risked so much, left it all behind to start a new adventure, and I find myself here, having trusted in this divine plan lifting my hands and saying, “now what?”.  I’m opening the channels, waiting for the inspiration, and trusting that it will come, while allowing myself to mourn the loss of what no longer feels right.

Who knows?  Just as the fallen husks of the pecan tree will break down and over time be absorbed by the roots of the tree, perhaps my fallen dreams will be resorbed by my roots and one day come to fruition in a new way, tinged by the experiences of a new land.  Until that day, I will trust in the path, even if I don't know the destination.                 

Have I Loved You Enough?

In a few weeks we embark on a new journey as a family.  One that will take us from this home we have created together over the last 10 years to a new resting place.  The place where we venture is one that is as familiar to me as the bones in my body.  The land of my birth, the home where my dad was brought home as a wee babe.  1600 miles away from the life I've built over the last 13 years.  

There is much joy to be found in the decision to leave.  We are slowing down as a family.  We are leaving the safety of what we know to take a chance at living a life more full of the things that really matter - family, nature, art, love.  However, while there is much happiness about our decision, leaving brings a deep sadness.  The sadness has come in waves, and started with packing up this house we've called home for the last ten years.  Over these last few weeks of packing, I find myself sitting on the floor of various rooms, choked with emotion, asking, "Have I loved you enough?"

Have I thanked the living room for the space to meditate, write and dream each morning?  Always a faithful friend, waiting for me in the pre-dawn hours.  Have I loved you enough?

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Have I kissed the counters in our kitchen?  Thanked them for the space they gave me to experiment with using food as medicine.  I've cooked countless meals in this space, nourishing our bodies through sickness and health.  Did I ever truly realize how lucky I was while I was doing it?  Have I loved you enough?


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Have I touched the dining room walls and whispered gratitude for holding us while we gathered to share laughter, nourishment, and conversation? Have I loved you enough?

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Have I fully embraced the studio for providing a solid foundation from which I could experiment and grow as an artist? For giving me the space to uncover my passion and share it with the world.  For holding my son as he spent hours each day discovering his own love for art.  Have I loved you enough?  

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Have I cherished our bedroom for being a silent retreat from this frenetic, busy world?  Who with out fail supported us as we rested our bodies and minds.  Have I loved you enough?       

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Have I given enough thanks for my son's bedroom - where I have spent countless hours watching him sleep, growing from a tiny baby into the child he is today?  Where every night the walls faithfully held us as I read him books, sang him songs, and rocked him to sleep?  Where passing time was tracked with marks on the wall that proudly displayed how much he's grown.  Have I loved you enough?

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Have I gotten down on my knees and praised the walls of the downstairs bedroom - the floor that held me while I gave birth to our child.  The room that shielded us from the world as our babe was ushered into this world?  Have I loved you enough?
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Have I thanked the patio for holding me while I watched the sun rise, over and over again, to light the trees and land?  Where we spent our summers eating meals outside and watching kids run around the yard.  Have I loved you enough?

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Have I expressed my heart's gratitude for the outdoor space?  Where I worked the earth with my hands, learning about life in the process.  Where my love and I sat outside on many a night gazing at the stars and whispering our dreams. Where we got married in the grass underneath a blue moon? Have I loved you enough?

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Have I?

I find myself, now that I know I'm leaving, trying to absorb every second, relish and love the present moment with every tick of the clock. I find myself asking, "Why didn't I do this before?  Why did it take me so long to start loving this house?"  I wasted so much time wishing that I were in a different place, instead of loving what was here in front of me.  I can take forward from this experience the resolve to love the next place we land from day one of setting foot in the door.  To remember it's not the physical house that makes us happy - it's a space to hold us while we love and live.  

 

I’m in a magazine, y’all!

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I'm excited to announce that I am featured in the June issue of the indie online magazine, The Phoenix Soul.  Click HERE to get your copy of the June issue, Tenacity.  In this issue I have a conversation with The Phoenix Soul creator, Amanda Fall, and we discuss how intuitive painting has changed me, why I feel becoming more authentic is important, how to balance tenacity with letting go, and much more.  Amanda has the gift of asking tough, important questions that make you think.  This Truth Tribe interview was so much fun... I sure hope you will check it out!  

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Radical Trust

This was first published in a letter to the subscribers of my online book club.  To learn more about upcoming book clubs, click HERE

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“the” neighborhood

As I sit to write this week, the words “radical trust” keep popping into my head.  We close on our house in 21 days.  21 days and we leave this house that has been our home for the last 9 years.  The first house my husband and I bought together.  The place where my son was born (literally, in the downstairs bedroom).  The home where we excitedly tracked his growth on the wall every six months.   The dwelling where two artists were born – one at age thirty and the other at age two.  The place where I learned how to be a wife and a mom, all while learning to listen to myself and dream of life beyond these things.  So many firsts were had here:  I painted my first canvas on our dining room table.  Many years later these walls could tell many stories about my art – the process of learning, losing faith, trusting, releasing, awakening.  I planted my first garden here.  I worked the earth with my hands and planted seeds that nourished our bodies.  I learned a lot about love.  What it takes to make a marriage work between two attracted opposites.  A lot of laughter, owning our shit, and giving each other space to grow in the ways we were meant to grow.  We have poured so much love into each other and the world from within the walls of this house.        

However, amidst all of this living, there has always been something missing for us here.  A longing for a community that we can relate to and connect with.  I set the intention at the beginning of the year for more connection in my life, and boy has it flooded in.  It has manifested in more ways than I asked for and has become somewhat of a theme or formula for happiness lately.  We’ve been researching for months, and finally this weekend, we found “the” neighborhood.  The one with wide, tree-lined streets.  Old bungalow houses with lilac trees and lavender bushes.  Streets full of thirty-somethings and their families.  A safe place for kids to roam and play.  We can see ourselves here in the summer, soaking up the sun’s rays in our yard, meeting neighbors.  Walking the streets in the fall as the canopy of trees over the road turns a vibrant yellow.  Relishing the early morning quiet of snow-packed streets.  And perhaps, most importantly, we see ourselves connecting with the community here.  

At times, we have wondered if we are crazy to leave this house where we have birthed so many dreams.  But as a family, there is an awakening brewing.  A time for growth.  It’s time to let go of this physical space, let go of the familiar, and make room for the “next”.  Trust that by making room, Spirit will fill it with the right “next”.  We will cherish our memories, love this house for what it has brought to us, and gear up for our next adventure.

Kindred, what can you let go of to make room for your next?

New Painted Goddess Dates!

Wow, that was FAST!  The June session of The Painted Goddess filled up within a week!  I am so, so grateful to all of you for your support.  Thank you!

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I wanted to share that I have added a July date that is now available for all of you local Colorado Springs folks.  Want to learn more about what The Painted Goddess is?  Read HERE.  {Online friends – don’t feel left out… an offering will be coming your way soon.}

Saturday, July 25, 2015 from 5-9 PM

Where: Movement Arts Community Studio 525 E. Fountain Blvd. # 150, Colorado Springs, CO 80903

We will share food potluck-style at 5 PM, and then ceremony starts at 6.

Cost: $35 (includes all art supplies) 




If you feel called to join in an evening of community + sacred ceremony + art, you are more than welcome, sister.  See you there.

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New Offering! The Painted Goddess

The Painted Goddess Circle

Are you feeling the call for more connection in your life? Do you long for a deeper understanding of your authentic self? Are you yearning for a forum where you can practice expressing your truths while being seen and held by your tribe? Do you want to explore tapping in to the primal flow of creativity that runs through each of us? Yes? Then join us, sister, for The Painted Goddess Circle, an evening of community, awakening, and paint-covered hands.

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Through a blend of sacred ceremony and intuitive painting, we will practice connecting to spirit, recognizing and listening our intuition, and expressing our inherent creativity. We will embark on the journey of consciousness: awakening to our lives resulting in a deeper understanding of ourselves, how we relate to the world, and how we can affect change in our lives. This work is vitally important. We are torchbearers of the sacred feminine – the work we do in circle not only effects us individually, but our families, friends, community, and future generations.

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Is this style of gathering for you?

This gathering is spiritual, but it is not associated with any specific religion. We gather in circle with the understanding that we are all unique in how we connect to Spirit. The experience is best entered with an open mind and heart. You do not need any experience with painting to join in on the fun. We are all inherently creative and can learn to tap into this part of ourselves and express it freely!

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Details

Are you ready to join in circle, goddess?

When: June 20, 2015 @ 5 PM

We will share food potluck-style at 5 PM, and then ceremony starts at 6.

Registration closes on June 19th.  Space is limited, so sign up soon to reserve your spot!

Where: Movement Arts Community Studio 525 E. Fountain Blvd. # 150, Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Cost: $35 (includes all art supplies) 

Click below to sign up!




Can You Manufacture Happiness?

"Do one thing everyday that scares you." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

What causes happiness?  For most of my life, I used to think happiness was caused by what happened to me.  Day to day my happiness was held hostage by the whims of external people, places, and scenarios.  I was tossed around on the high seas of other people's expectations and experiences.  I didn't believe in the power to create my own life.  Something shifted about 10 years ago.  I started to wake up to the fact that I had control over how I lived my life in the small moments, how I reacted to situations, which all ultimately led to how happy I was day-to-day.  Lately, I've started to question whether I can further elevate my level of happiness on any given day.

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(warning: nerd alert ahead... I used to work in a job where data analysis was my thing!)

Inspired by Gretchen Rubin, I made a list of actions I could take on any given day that make me feel good and happy.  There were some that were givens - things already deeply ingrained into my daily routines that I know are critical to my daily happiness: sleeping 8 hours, meditation, morning pages, creative time.  Some were a stretch: eat vegetables with every meal, eat vegetables for snacks, limit Facebook to 15 mins/day.  Ok, so some were a BIG stretch.  I decided that I would try my best to do each one every day for a month and rate the day on a scale of 1-10 as to my happiness for the day and see what impact these actions had on my happiness.  Could I, in essence, manufacture my own happiness by doing all the things I know make me feel good?   

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I thought that if I were to be at 100% for a day - every action with a check mark in the box - then naturally that should be a stellar day, right?  Not so much.  Even if I did every single item on my list, my day rating maxed out at a 7.  I wanted to know:  What elevates the every day?  What takes a solid 7 day and shifts it to an 8 or a 9?  After a few months of tracking, I think I have the answer (for me).

  • Being brave  
  • Seeking connection

 The days that I rated as an 8 or above had these things in common.  For example, the time I made a call about my art even though I was nervous and my voice was shaking, when I went to a poetry reading with my love (very different for us on so many levels), when I held my first intuitive painting circle, and the time I started two book clubs with local and online women, most of whom I didn't know that well.  This type of action makes me feel alive in the best of ways.  There was no pushing, no forcing, no trying too hard to make things happen for any of these.  They were all opportunities where a message from the universe struck me as significant and I decided to take a leap.  I said "yes" even though I had fear, doubt, and worry.  When we say "yes" in moments like these we choose to seize the day, and that leads to happiness.

Of course my next thought was.... if being brave and seeking connection is all it takes for me, do I need to do anything else?  Should I throw the rest of my habits to the wind?  Eating vegetables?  Sleep 8 hours?  Floss my teeth?  Nah, who needs 'em?  Not so fast.  Even though these aren't habits that contribute to a high level of happiness, they do provide an important foundation for feeling good.  If my body doesn't feel vibrant from being nourished properly, I won't have the energy to take the big leaps.  My plan?  I am holding steady with my habits that provide an important baseline while also seeking those opportunities to which I can shout "yes" to brave action and radical connection.        

Tell me, when are you happiest?  What gives your days a thrill?    

Saying YES to Brave

“Time and again, I have seen a recovering creative do the footwork of becoming internally clear and focused about dreams and delights, take a few outward steps in the direction of the dream – only to have the universe fling open an unsuspected door.” – Julia Cameron

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Here I was on the last day of the month of April, looking back over my goals that I set for the month.  Website refresh – check.  House remodel – check.  Started and facilitated 2 weekly book clubs – check.  My fingertips lingered over my stretch goal for the month.  “Network, land show.” – not checked.  I had originally written this goal as I sat in my favorite local coffee shop – Jives Coffee Lounge.  I’m in there every week writing and drinking tea.  I figured that if there were somewhere local for me to display my art, this would be a great place to start. 
 
I sighed wistfully as I eyed the empty checkbox.  I dearly hate to not be able to check a box.  But at the same time I looked at my list of accomplishments and felt like I had done my best for the month, and that gave me satisfaction.  I packed up my notebook and ventured off to start my day.  Later that afternoon, I dropped my little guy off at school and went by Jives to get a chai.  As I walked in I noticed that nearly all of the art on the walls was gone.
 
I’m on week 5 of The Artist’s Way and a theme that keeps coming up is synchronicity.  Whispering dreams to the universe, noticing when doors open, and saying yes.  I turned to the barista with my mouth hanging open and said, “Who curates your art?”  She asked if I was an artist, and I said yes.  She gave me the number of the owner and said, “You really should call him.  We need art up on the walls and he is looking for local artists.”  I almost couldn’t believe my luck!  I called my sister when I got out to the car and was telling her what happened.  I said to her, “I’m going to call him right now, before I get home.  If I wait, I will think of a million reasons why I shouldn’t call and it will become too big of a deal.  I’m just going to do it.” 
 
And I did.
 
I called the owner.  My voice was shaking and I was so nervous.  Making a call to ask someone to put your art up on the wall is infinitely harder than a normal business call.  This is putting your soul’s work out there for people to judge its worth.  It’s wildly intimidating.
 
Within two hours I had sent him my portfolio and had received a “yes, let’s do it” response.  4 days later and my art was up on the walls at Jives.  The same exact place where I initially dared to whisper the dream.           

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Looking back on this series of events still gives me chills.  There is a power in naming what you want and being open to receiving the gift from the universe.   

Here's to whispering big dreams.

The Warming Earth

The earth is warming, shaking off the last vestiges of winter.  The crisp, crackling leaves are being set free by the whipping wind.  My body is craving the warmth, stepping in time with Mother Earth.

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The forest is filled with the smell of sun-kissed pine trees.  A scent that has been sorely missed in the depth of winter.

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Seeds of dreams have been released into the fertile soil. 

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A riot of color is bursting forth, stretching its arms wide towards the sun.

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Unearthing Lost Dreams

“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things.” ~ Apple, Inc.

The other night I crawled up into my attic, breathing in air heavy and thick with time.  I was on a mission, a vague recollection of some poems I had stuffed away years ago.  I worked my way through the dim light, stifling a cough, crawling further and further into the recesses of the attic.  I opened a few boxes labeled "keepsakes" that were full of junk. I was drawn to one amidst the keepsake boxes - the only words I could see written on the side said "fragile". This box was calling to me, whispering "this is it".  I gingerly pulled the box free, and started to peel back the old, dry packing tape turned crisp and cracking with time.  

I folded back the flaps, a little dust plume sprinkling my face.  My breath hitched and my hand found my heart.  I pulled out notebook after notebook - poetry and journals.  Letters, the first note my (now) husband ever wrote to me, magazines (1988 Rolling Stone), theater bills from broadway in the late 90's, the script for A Midsummer Night's Dream which I directed in high school and made all my fairies goth and Oberon wore leather.  Super soul sigh.  A box full of memories.  A reminder of who I used to be.   

Mostly our changing day to day is so infinitesimal that we just don't see how different we really are.  Each day goes by and we slowly embrace a new way of being, and release little bits of ourselves. Then we unearth our lost dreams that were buried in the attic.   A time capsule from my 17 year old self.  

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As I cracked open the journals, I expected to find the self-assured memoirs of the rebelious, confident girl I remember.  The one who knew who she was and didn't care what people thought of her.  I gasped as I read these pages.  So much hurt, pain, lack of confidence, lack of belief in what she was doing.  Entirely unconvinced of her worth.  I wanted to reach through time, put my arms around her, and whisper "You are enough. You are beautiful. You are worthy."  Looking back I realize it was bravado, more than confidence, that I exuded.  A wounded heart putting on a proud face to the world and snarling at anyone who tried to get close.

As I read through these journals I noticed a shift taking place.  The beginning pages were filled with anger and sadness and hurt.  Slowly, slowly releasing.  Getting it all out on the page.  I was allowing myself to feel the full range of emotions, no matter how dark.  And the tide, as it always does, started to turn.  The last few pages were filled with - not hope - but a sense that the fog of desperation was starting to lift.  Looking back I see how cathartic writing was to me.  It allowed me to be seen and held exactly as I came to the page.  A soft place to land, to dwell, to release.  I realize this is exactly what writing does for me now, some 17 years later.  I show up every day and write.  Wherever I am, whatever I'm feeling - out it comes onto the page.  And through this process of showing up and releasing, I understand more of who I am.  I have found the confidence to tell the world "This is me".

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Her throat felt white hot

Burning from the scream lodged inside.

Desperately clinging to the bits of herself she knew to be true.

Grasping, searching for the confidence 

that would let her shout

"this is me, this is me".