Change and the Flow of Life

In December of 2018 a painting class inspired me to find my own unique artistic style, and I soon became lost in the vast world of fluid paint. In many ways pouring paint mirrors the life I have lived. 30 moves in 38 years through 7 states and 1 foreign country taught me that life, like fluid paint is in constant flux. All that moving highlighted the importance of learning to ‘go with the flow’, and no artistic medium demands that more than acrylic paint pouring.

After almost two years of working with fluid paint, I have discovered that like our journey on this earth, the real beauty of the process comes when we relinquish control of the medium, allowing form to appear out of chaos. Admittedly, this can be scary at first. It took awhile for me to learn that making a mess of things is not a working definition of failure. In fact, many of my best paintings came from what I thought at the time was a ‘mistake’.

An 8″ Lazy Susan I believed was a lost cause … turned out to be one of my best works ever, and is now the foundation of my brand.

In real life too, this has been the case. Out of a religion propounding the innate depravity of man, a true sense of human divinity emerged. Out of a failed marriage came three beautiful children and three amazing grandchildren, not to mention a level of self-awareness & love I doubt I would ever have been able to achieve otherwise. Out of disillusionment with traditional work settings bloomed a vast and complex garden of creativity leading to true inner fulfillment.

Many of life’s most powerful lessons are taught through pain and failure, yet we often do not see them this way until years later. I wonder what would happen if human beings learned to view the present through the lens of that future right here, right now? In other words, what if we assumed that everything that comes into our experience is always and only ever for our good? I believe our lives and our world could be altered dramatically simply by learning to see our failures as valuable lessons, our difficulties as signposts pointing out what no longer serves us, and our pain as a white-hot fire with the power to transform us into something altogether precious.

My love for paint pouring revolves around color itself. I find it fascinating to watch the same eight or ten hues blending together in a myriad of different ways from canvas to canvas – truly when it comes to fluid paint, no two pieces are ever alike! Even more fascinating is the number of times my friends and family ses shapes and forms amid the splashes of color. “There’s a bird there, see?” or “Oh, that looks like a dragon!” and “I can see a tree with falling leaves right there.” What’s more, two people looking at the same painting often see completely different images. If the same lines of color can evoke vastly different interpretations, how much more do a each see life and its nuanced complexity through our own lenses? In life as in art, perception really is everything.









As a Tarot reader and an artist, it is my goal to help others fully develop the lens that is their individual way of seeing and interacting with the world, in order to come into complete alignment with their life purpose. Through readings and classes I endeavor to lead others on a mindful journey designed to help develop a deeper connection to their own intuition – the creative center of our being. Unlocking and unblocking this center is crucial to moving forward in our lives, to clear out the things that hold us back from reaching our full potential.

This month I opened my ETSY store! I hope you will take some time to wander around and see what I have been up to. Please feel free to reach out via email (ripplesofinsight@gmail.com) with any suggestions for the site or questions you may have about my journey or yours.

Much love, much light on your unique and beautiful path.
Namaste,
~C

Visit the Nano Poblano page for links to more posts from August’s Cheer Pepper Day!

Parting Words

August 1, 2020 marks the estimated date of the end of my relationship with a child I have helped to support for the last 15 years. This morning I sat down to compose what could be the final letter I will ever send to him. Since these may be the last words this child ever hears from me, I wanted them to count for something. I had to ask myself what wisdom I want to leave behind knowing that I had only one short letter left to write.

Compassion International is a Christian-based (evangelical) child-sponsorship group which we became a part of in the late 80’s – early 90’s. When I thought about how much I have changed over the course of my time within this organization it made me smile. I would have laughed if not for the heaviness in my heart at having to say goodbye to a young man I have never met, but helped care for since he was six years old.

My introductory words to any sponsored child even 15 years ago would most certainly have been quite different from the words I wrote today in farewell. But evolution is the name of the game, and I have certainly changed right along with my beliefs. This week Aaron Abke put out a 4-part spiritual growth series called “The Shortcut to Enlightenment”. The series was designed to help bring into focus our higher self as the I Am that lives within us. If there was anything I would want to communicate to someone still steeped in the Christian religion, it would be that we are all actual children of god, exactly as Jesus was. But how to say this in a manner he could understand became the real question.

Fortunately, I also listen to Alan Watts, and his discussion of the religion of Jesus gave me hope that I could find a way to communicate my heart to this young man standing on the brink of adulthood.

Even as I share my parting words with you, I have to wonder what changes may come over the next 15 years! I hope that my readers today will continue to walk with me through the journey of our collective evolution, for what we all are becoming is as yet to be revealed. ❤️🧡💛💚💙

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Dear [Child],

I am writing to you on Saturday, August 1, 2020, Compassion’s estimated completion date for my sponsorship. In 19 more days you will turn 22 years old. Happy, happy birthday! I am not certain how much longer my letters will be delivered to you, but I want you to know that you will always be in my heart and my thoughts. I can feel the gentleness and love in your soul that will live between us forever.

Remember that life is a journey, a process of growth, and there is no ‘goal’ to achieve. So let life flow – in and through you – with acceptance, grace, and our greatest superpower: forgiveness. The seasons and moon phases give us a glimpse of life’s cycles and can help put us back on track when we lose our way. No matter what is happening today, it has happened before and will happen again; you don’t fail god’s tests, you just take them over and over until you pass. The only true failure in life would be failing to live. Accept and enjoy every moment – the good along with the bad. Take it all in with gratitude, for everything comes to teach us to love, first ourselves, then others. Be true to who you are, [my child]. Do not let anyone else define you or try to tell you the path you are to take (especially the religious leaders around you). You were born to be the captain of your own soul. The life that is you is everlasting, so give no energy to the fear of death. Only love signifies, but love must begin with acceptance and appreciation of who YOU are. The only path to real and lasting love is self-awareness – connection with the divine that lives within you and everyone around you.

I have learned over the years that we always find what we seek, so be careful what you wish for. That thing you believe will bring happiness may quickly become a tiresome burden. True happiness is found inside yourself. Meditation is the fastest path to inner happiness, peace, and love. Taking time each day to close your eyes to the outside world and simply pay attention to the sound of your own breath can connect you to god faster and firmer than memorizing any bible verse. Trust your inner knowing and always go with what brings you peace. Your heart will never steer you wrong! You are the blazing spark of the divine in the flesh right here on earth. Trust that spark and SHINE!

It remains my hope that we may one day reconnect again. All my love and prayers for your safety and health,

~C

If you had one last letter to write, what would you want to say that would leave your mark on the heart(s) of your reader(s)? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Finding Peace in a Violent World

My eldest daughter recently introduced our family to a practice called Nonviolent Communication

“NVC is about connecting with ourselves and others from the heart. It’s about seeing the humanity in all of us. It’s about recognizing our commonalities and differences and finding ways to make life wonderful for all of us.”

As I understand it, the basic premise is that in every human interaction, a request is being made. The principles found in Nonviolent Communication address 1. how the request is expressed, and 2. the response if/when the request is refused. 

To talk about Nonviolent Communication necessitates some discussion of its more prevalent opposite, violent communication. When it comes to communication, most people operate from ego or the unconsciously remembered pain of the past (often referred to as subconscious programming). After all, hurt people hurt people. Violent communication typically involves 1. a demand for particular behavior from another (in order to supposedly secure happiness), and 2. a refusal to take no for an answer without some form of retribution. Guilt and shame are commonly used to manipulate, and rarely, if ever, do communication issues find full resolution. 

Violent communicators have difficulty acknowledging their own needs. For instance, when person A accuses person B of saying or doing something person A dislikes, it is rare that person A is aware that they have an underlying need that is unmet. Further, if person B is unaware of person A’s unspoken need and/or their own underlying needs, the communication can be perceived as a personal attack, simultaneously triggering them as well. The ‘violence’ escalates when neither party is able to articulate or acknowledge their own underlying needs or find constructive ways to meet them. Violent communication is the basis for all broken relationships from the occasional spat with a spouse to all-out war between countries. 

The goal of Nonviolent Communication is the actualization of the natural capacity we all have for compassion and empathy towards one another. It involves the realization that everyone shares the same basic needs, and that each of us is personally responsible to meet those (our own) needs. Without this understanding put into practice, Nonviolent Communication is impossible.

The most important and challenging factor for me personally has been taking the time to identify the underlying unmet needs within myself and the person I am interacting with. Knowing these needs (or learning the questions that will help uncover them) develops both self-awareness and a deeper relationship with others (because, empathy). Communicating in a manner that seeks to meet everyone’s needs not only enhances our own well-being but can significantly strengthen our relationships. 

NVC teaches that every human being has seven basic needs:

  1. Connection
  2. Physical Well-Being
  3. Honesty
  4. Play
  5. Peace
  6. Autonomy
  7. Meaning

Beneath these larger topics are sublists of multiple emotional needs. So how do you identify your own or other’s underlying needs in the heat of the moment? By paying close attention to the body. When we are triggered by someone else’s words or behavior, it can be difficult to step back and observe, but that is exactly what is necessary in order to avoid escalating conflicts. The body is the key – recognizing and giving our attention to negative emotions and thoughts that arise during an interaction can mean the difference between violence and peace, resolution and discord. 

Over the past year or so, I have begun analyzing ‘triggered’ reactions (mine and other’s) in an attempt to learn a better, gentler way of communicating. Sometimes I have been able to avoid a conflict altogether, simply by taking the time to detach and look at the situation more rationally, while still listening to my body. Obviously the greatest hurdle to overcome is communicating nonviolently with people who approach me with violence. But responding with empathy and compassion can open doors to conflict resolution even when the person you are communicating with remains unwilling to acknowledge or explore their own unconscious behaviors and unmet needs.

The final key to nonviolent communication is forgiveness. We must begin by forgiving ourselves for the many ways we have used violent forms of communication in the past. By showing ourselves compassion and acknowledging that we are always doing the best we can with the information and experience we have, we can then extend this same grace to those around us. 

We all have needs, we all seek ways to meet those needs. As we do, may we learn to communicate with kindness, empathy, compassion, and forgiveness. 

Thanks so much for reading! 

Namaste,

~C

Just Breathe

I know, I know, November was supposed to be a month of blogging. My life and writing? Not particularly in sync right now. The full schedule will certainly let up right around the first of December – just after NanoPoblano ends. 😒 Mind you, I am not complaining. I may not be writing, but I absolutely love what I am doing.

In lieu of a post tonight, I would like to share an exciting process with you. I may not be writing, but I am most definitely breathing. Enjoy!

SOMA Breath – highly recommend the daily doses. But watch out! They might just change your life – for the better!

Namaste,

~C

What’s Your Story?

What if every situation in our lives comes to help us in some way? I mean every situation. Like the ones that tear your heart in two … financial loss, illness, death. What if ALL OF IT is an opportunity to teach us to tell a different story?

I love to paint. But let me clarify – I am hopeless with a brush, a pencil, a pen. Just give me a canvas, acrylic paint, and a way to make it fluid. I like to watch it crawl around the surface in little lines and swirls. Sometimes the colors surprise me; other times they are predictable, like when I make ‘mud’. But a child delights in mud. No one ever told them that ‘mud’ is not a pretty color. To a child, mud is nothing short of an opportunity to play.

The child knows how much fun mud can be, while grandmother sees the mess. No wonder Jesus said we have to become like children to understand life properly. Children never see the mess, they see the opportunity. After all, they are only in it for the fun.

A fellow artist was faced with this challenge today:

The storm came, the shelves shook, and a mess ensued. She awoke to a muddy disaster. She called for help, outside the box of her frustration and pain, and discovered that others had experienced their own disasters, and had found new ways to create beauty from them. They had looked for the opportunity in the mess. They had changed their stories and created beauty from failure.

What if this principle of finding joy and creativity inside the mud puddle applies to every area of our lives? The job ends, leaving room for new and better opportunities; the breakdown of a marriage leads to true love; the illness teaches you how resilient you are, giving you the strength to pursue a long-abandoned dream. Life’s disasters can open the door to possibilities never before imagined – if we will let them. But then, it all depends on what story you tell.

“Remember, you write your own script, so make it a masterpiece!” 

Marisa Peer

The only truth in life is the story you tell yourself.

You might want to read that again.

Now, imagine turning every story on its head. For instance, a friend of mine told me that when someone is driving haphazardly around her (too fast, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, etc.), she thinks, “That person must have a serious stomach illness and they’re looking for a bathroom; or perhaps they are trying to get to the hospital to say farewell to a loved one before it’s too late.” Actions easily interpreted as inconsiderate, reckless, or even hostile can be instantly transformed into a story that moves me to compassion and empathy, away from anger and frustration. 

What kind of world could we create if every person assumed the best of everyone else, and even went so far as to find a silver lining in every situation? It would certainly make for a beautiful life story, wouldn’t it? A masterpiece even.

I’ll bet money that there is a disaster going on in some area of your life right now. It may be small or large, it may have gone on for years or just happened this morning. I am here to tell you that you have it in your power to tell whatever story about it you would like. It’s your story so the sky’s the limit! Why not make it a good one?

I challenge you to rewrite the story of your disaster – even better if you can find a silver lining. Have fun with it! Let me know what happens in the comments.

Namaste and thanks so much for reading,

~C

November 1, 2019 CheerPeppers post.

The Power of Remembrance

I hate New Year’s Resolutions. Always have, always will. I heard on the news the other day that most people abandon their Resolutions by January 17 or something like that (only 10 days to go!). Let’s just say that human beings have little staying power when it comes to resolutions … sounds a lot like law-making/breaking to me. For these and many other reasons (maybe my penchant for rebelliousness?) I never make them. But today I read an amazing guest blog over at The Waiting and it got me thinking that a “2014 Remembrance List” might not be a bad idea.

Happy Tennis-Filled 2014!

You may wonder why I feel the need to make a list of things I want to remember this year. If you read my last post or connect with me on FB, you know how much the end of 2013 devastated me, decimated me, even. I haven’t been able to write anything since the account of my last days with my Sister back on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I’ve been stymied by loss, heartache, and grief to the point where I began to doubt even my own thoughts! Gathering them together in one place has been almost impossible. I realized today that recent circumstances have robbed me of some things that are crucial for me to remember.

It’s time to banish forgetfulness. It’s time to say, “enough!” to the painful distractions which have weakened my ability to remember important, life-giving things I’m learning along the way. It’s time SOMEONE (and since no one else is going to do it for me, that someone has got to be ME) reminded me of some things I have allowed pain and loss to steal.

1. There is a sense in which we all die alone, but I don’t have to grieve that way.

This process called grief is completely new to me (despite losing a close cousin 4 years ago). I remember thinking in early December that it’s odd someone my age has not lost at least one parent, but instead is first grieving a Sister. I have found myself floundering in uncertainty, wondering if I’m grieving “right” or some such nonsense. It’s been very difficult letting go of the better half of my family’s female self. I have not come to the place where I can imagine half a lifetime without my Sister beside me.

Ever since her passing, I have experienced an almost uncontrollable urge to go into seclusion. Maybe it’s because when I’m with other people, I can’t stop myself from rehashing the entire painful ordeal over and over again. I end up feeling bad for the folks listening to me as they quietly say, “I am so sorry for your loss. I don’t know what to say.” Don’t worry, I already said it all – and more. And it’s okay. For a person who almost exclusively processes thoughts aloud, there is no other sane way for me to grieve. It’s who I am. It’s where I am. And. It’s. O. K. I cannot grieve alone. Thankfully, I don’t have to. Which brings me to my next point.

2. In the middle of grieving your losses, remember to be thankful.

No doubt, the biggest obstacle to gratitude of late was the barrage of painful circumstances inundating the last half of 2013, beginning with my father’s face-crushing fall in June, culminating with my mother’s femur-shattering misstep on the day of my sister’s funeral in December, and all of the heartache in between! Sometimes when I think back on the overwhelming sorrows of the last 6 months I lose the ability to breathe. But what would really cripple me would be an inability to give thanks! So here is today’s short list of thankfulness:

– In August of 2013 my eldest Daughter was set free from a 5-year-long devastating relationship!

As incredible as it may sound, by the end of 2013, so much “bad” had happened that I was finding it hard to remember that a nightmare relationship of control, manipulation, fear, and pain had ended for my precious daughter! Now she stands FREE and in relationship with a wonderful, loving, person who has no need to control or wound her. The magnitude of my gratitude for this one blessing cannot be expressed – but it ABSOLUTELY must not be forgotten!

– My Parents and 2 Brothers are still with me … grieving with me.

They knew my Sister like I did and together we know her better. We have the shared experience of her life and, now, her death. I am thankful that we can grieve side-by-side.

– My Sister gave me so many wonderful gifts that live on beyond her life here on earth.

Precious memories of a deep friendship, beautiful examples of what love looks like, parenting insights, a commitment to excellence and beauty in everything she did filled with the power to inspire, artistic ideals along with encouragement to explore my own untapped depths, laughter and songs, never mind the countless pieces of art in my house (and out) bearing her signature. I will grieve losing you … in my grief I promise not to forget the gifts you have given.

 – My life is filled to overflowing with wonderful people who love me …

… who listen to me, put up with me, eat and drink with me, laugh with me … WITH me. And yes, even grieve with me. I am not alone. Not by a long shot.

– One of my favorite Bible verses: “It came to pass …”

Almost 50 years into this gig, I have figured out that everything comes to pass, even grief. I have this hope.

– Finally, a heart that feels pain.

This may sound odd to you, but the ability to feel pain is a blessing. I spent a lot of years shut off from my own feelings, unable to connect to my heart. Maybe the feelings were too overwhelming, maybe it was a mechanism of self-protection; no matter the reason, I was good at shutting down – too good. And I learned (the hard way) that severing the connection with one’s emotions is indiscriminate: You either feel or you don’t. Shutting out pain = shutting out joy. Unfortunately, it’s an addiction (connected to control) with a long road home. That’s a road I hope to never travel again. So I will embrace the pain and walk through it with gratitude to new joys.

And the final thing I need to remember at this juncture of my life:

3. Don’t believe the ‘press’ that comes from 14 or 22 yr.-olds you raised.

In fact, trust your instincts and don’t listen to the ‘press’ from any corner. When I read the above-mentioned blog post, The Waiting it turns out is Indeed the Hardest Part, one of the lines jolted me into wakefulness. It felt like coming out of a nightmare.

I can’t speak to being a father; so I’ll stick to what I know best: I am a mother, a good mother.

My first thought was, “I’m not.” Huh? What was that? I’m not a good mother?? Wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute, hold the phone, stop the presses, rewind even! Who says I’m not a good mother? Oh, right, lots of people. Let’s see, some of my Christian friends think that because I don’t drag my kids to Sunday school anymore, that makes me a bad mother. My Atheist friends condemn me for telling my children that Jesus loves them so much He’d rather die than live without them – and I actually believe it, too. The media tells me I’m spending too much time at work; those same talking heads then turn around and tell me I’m not focusing enough on my own actualization through a rewarding career (the-kids-be-damned!). My 14-yr. old thinks I’m out of touch with today’s pop culture (AMEN to that, Buddy!) and my 22-yr. old thinks my zeal for archaic moral ideals means I’m judging her = unloving mother.

Bad press. All untrue. I continue to dedicate the majority of my time, resources, thoughts, energy, love, frustration, determination, and actions to raising my children. I have been available at any and every hour of the day or night to bandage, listen, teach, scold, feed, clean up after, laugh with, and love my kids for the past 24+ years. This will never change.

That blog was a resounding”Aha” moment in my journey right here, right now. Dawn showed me that my 2 youngest kids have an interpretation of their growing up years which I was unprepared for; but their reinterpretation of events will never nullify the truth: that God gave me to them as a Mom and them to me as my Kids; in the end, I always only sought to raise them with nurturing love and support, and will continue to do so even as I am challenged to find new ways to walk in relationship with them as (almost) adults.

This is my 2014 Remembrance List. May it be etched on my soul in such a way that my future is transformed into loving community, acceptance of what is, and the strength to move forward with confidence.

Thanks for reading, and May God bless you all with a Happy, Healthy, Joy-and Tennis!-Filled 2014!!

MY Happiest Place On Earth

Today I read a post challenge/contest here. Reading through Misty’s account of her trip to Disney made me smile. I cannot think of a worse fate than a week at Disney, or any other theme park like it, for that matter.

So the challenge was to blog about my happiest place. The first picture that popped into my mind was the beach. Oh, not just any beach – Bellows Beach holds my fondest memories:

I tried for a year to draw this view … I’m hopeless.

Situated on the Eastern side of Oahu, Bellows became a sort of haven for me when I just needed time alone. During our last summer there I made the commitment once-a-week to drive across on the H3 (always catching my breath at the sight of the bright, multi-colored shoreline at the tunnel’s end) in order to spend an hour or two soaking up the sun as refreshing salt-water waves crashed endlessly over my feet. We had the privilege of living in Hawaii for 2 1/2 years. I do believe you can still discern the faint scratches left by my fingernails on the airport tarmac while being dragged against my will toward the plane …

Okay, so that was my first thought. Then I recalled the yard off my side porch this morning. As I sat listening to birdsong and bumble bees buzzing around the magnolia blooms, it occurred to me that I was home. Peace surrounded me. No, there were no crystal-clear blue waves crashing over white sandy shores; no mountains rising up out of ocean spray, no sea turtles wandering across the beach for a glimpse of the clumsy 2-legged creatures gawking at them … just a sky of pink-tinged clouds scudding over blooming trees and the mournful sound of the morning doves.

Staring hard at 50 makes one think a little more deeply about what constitutes happiness. The bigger scheme of things comes into play when you age, I think. Happiness for me is no longer where I am on the outside, but has become more about where I am on the inside. Anthony de Mello reminded me recently that the ‘highs’ we call happiness are but the precursors to the lows we know as depression.

Maybe my happiest place is inside me where contentment lives. The simple things in life … family, a fresh-mown lawn, a friend sharing a glass of wine with me are what I have come to cherish. My happiest place is every place. At work or at play, I only need look within to find happiness.

What about you? What is your happiest place?