seasons

PSA from Thunderstorms (and a free power up ceremony)

There is nothing like a Texas thunderstorm. The hot wind knocking at oak trees and beating rain on rooftops are powerful reminders of the force of nature.

Thunderstorms can cause a great deal of destruction; knocking down trees, damaging road ways, flooding homes, and even in extreme cases taking human lives.

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However, the flip side of a storm is that it quenches a dry and thirsty earth, supplying the landscape with new life and refreshing water.

The overall message of the storm is a simple one; power can be destructive and/or it can be rejuvenating. Much like a thunderstorm, we each have the ability to do both great harm and great good in this world with our thoughts and actions.

I think that we all need to be taught (or reminded) just how magnificent we are. We need to be told from the very beginning and everyday there after that we are indeed powerful. Often we get the opposite message, we are told we are not enough, that we are at the whim of circumstance and fate. But this is a lie, no matter how the world has tried to disempower us, each of us is a remarkable being capable of moving mountains.

You are powerful. I am powerful. We are powerful. The way we think, move, and relate has an impact on the world around us.

Take a second…notice your own power. Just bring your awareness to it. Where is it in your body? In your thoughts? How does it manifest? Get to know it…please.

Because most importantly, we are not actually thunderstorms. We are conscious beings and we have choice in how we put our power to use. We can use the agency and magnificence we have how ever we like.

What will you choose? How will you take action in the world, in your own life, in your body. What ever you choose, please do it consciously from a place of truly knowing who you are and what you are capable of, because if you come at life “disempowered” you are destined to wreak havoc.

There is another way.

When we become aware of, embrace, and respect our personal power then we can (each of us) water the earth with our powerful love.


The following is a brief ceremony you can do to get in touch with your own power

POWER UP

  • read the whole ceremony before you start and make an amendments that you like

  • Start by picking the right time to do this ceremony. perhaps during a thunderstorm?

  • Make sure you dress in something that makes you feel very much like “you”.

  • Pick a space where you already feel safe and empowered. This could be in your home or workplace, just make sure you won’t be interrupted for a few minutes.

  • Gather: a candle, a lighter or matches, a piece of jewelry or a stone that you like and can wear or carry with you as needed, something sweet to eat and some favorite music of yours…perhaps a power ballad?


    dim the lights and light a candle.

    As you light the candle invite in protection and resource to guide you. You can say something like “I open to my resources and my wisdom. I am safe and protected in this space.”

    Allow your self to sit in front of the flame of the candle and look into it.

    Contemplate. Ask yourself these questions one at a time and sit quietly until you get a reply to before you move on to the next. Feel free to read the list as you go or even to briefly write the answers that come to you down in a journal.

    How am I like this light?

    What parts of me get lit up easily?

    How do I feel and think when i am lit up?

    How do I act when I am lit up?

    What holds me back from feeling lit up or empowered all the time?

    How can I lovingly move those limits out of the way for now?

    What does it feel like to be limitless?

    What would change if I could limitless all the time?

    Do I want that?

    Take the piece of jewelry or the stone and hold it over the flame as you say the following or something like “ This is mine and mine alone. I fill it now with light and resource. Let it radiate, let the heat of my own power warm it. This is mine and mine alone. May it warm me on cold days. May it remind my wandering thoughts of their own power. May it slow my actions towards wisdom. This is mine and mine alone. I am limitless.”

    Take a deep breath

    Feel the power of your own body, your thoughts, and your emotions as they are right now. Know that what ever you feel is enough and it is real.

    Feel gratitude as you put the jewelry item on or place the stone in a safe pocket to be carried with you as needed.

    Prepare to close your ceremony. Say this or something like it “I close this time in gratitude. I am safe and protected always.”

    blow the candle out.

    watch the smoke until it dissipates.


  • Afterwards and as you clean up eat something sweet or listen to some empowering music. Maybe a dance party?






3 Reasons to Stop & Look at the Moon

ONE: This Sunday (September 27th) is the Harvest Moon, the full moon that occurs closest to the Fall equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The term "Harvest Moon" conjures up a moon radiating a warm Autumn glow.  In China it brings the Moon Festival, a time when families gather together to eat mooncakes and watch the moon, a symbol of Harmony and Unity. In North American cultures the Harvest Moon is a time of reaping when farmers can work late into the night gathering crops by the light of the moon.

 The Harvest Moon by Sammuel Palmer

The Harvest Moon by Sammuel Palmer

 TWO: It will also be a supermoon, meaning the moon will be huge. This happens when a full moon coincides with the point at which the moon is closest to the Earth during it's elliptical orbit. Legends link supermoons to earthquakes and tsunamis. Although there is very little science supporting a link between supermoons and natural disasters, they symbolize the power of nature in our lives.

THREE: There will be a lunar eclipse visible over the sky of the Western world. If you have never taken the time out to watch an eclipse, I advise you do so. This will be the night to see it. The moon will be big, the sky should be clear. As you watch I invite you to think back on ancient humans watching in wonder as the moon slowly disappeared and reappeared. All sorts of magic was concocted to explain the mystery and we still live with the remnants of that magical thinking. We experience it in some sort of deep place in our souls a place of curiosity and wonder.

We have more in common with those ancient myth tellers than we like to admit. Maybe as you watch the moon this Sunday, something magical will happen to you; maybe you will be reminded of the seasonal renewal occurring in your own life. Perhaps just taking the time to stop and watch the moon could become it's own sort of ceremony. A ceremony to honor the passageway you find yourself in right now. 

enjoy.


An Invitation to Gratitude

Life is so full at Thanksgiving. There are visits to make, people to see, turkeys to battle, and for some people shopping to be done. It isn't all easy and it isn't all fun. Today is my father's birthday. He is very sick right now and I am very pregnant and so we won't be able to see each other. 

Thinking back, he is the start of my Thanksgiving memories. He is the cook in our little family and so every year on this day the kitchen was his. My dad is an experimenter, a tinkerer, and so his meals were never repetitions but rather little works of art that he proudly shared with the people he loved. 

Not being with him today is painful. Not because it is our first our only Thanksgiving apart, but rather because I fear it might be his last as I have every year since 2012 when he received a bleak diagnosis. Couple that with the small little life growing inside me longing to meet its grandfather and well, the pressure is on.

Yes, life is full and it isn't always easy to find gratitude when day to day existence drags us into worry, doubt, and the fog of holiday traffic. So what can we do? What can I do, to draw out Thanksgiving?

Starting at the beginning, we might notice that gratitude is the goal today. It is now and always should be. When gratitude comes, it is followed by joy, peace, compassion, enlightenment, and basically all the good stuff. Thankfulness is what we all really want on our plates this afternoon because nothing is more filling than settling into how provided for we are...how deeply loved. 

Thanksgiving invites us to the table of abundance. It invites us to pull up a chair and delve in to the richness of living. That invitation is not an invitation to ignore our sorrows, but rather to look deeper in to them. To find the gift of the grief. 

So as I look deeper at the fullness of my own life today I see a pretty lucky woman, about to be a mother. I see myself at the center of loving family in an act of creation and extenuation of that family. I see my dad living on through the lessons I teach my son and I see the beautiful patterns of love in my life. I see connection, and I am grateful for it. 

That gratitude is a resting place as I move through today, missing my father and longing for my child. The good is there...always just one deep breath away and followed by the gifts of a very full life.

So join me, friend, at this table. Sink in to Thanksgiving, push yourself towards the chaos and take a breath. Life, full and abundant with all it's mystery, awaits you on the other side of this meal. 


Fall Traditions

How will you mark the changing seasons?

FOOD and DRINK

I know that for me, warm apple cider on the first or second cool day of the year is a big tradition. There are so many seasonal foods that I crave all year long. In the Spring and Winter I long for Watermelon, but these days I find myself excited about squash, turkey, and pie. This natural craving for seasonal foods is rooted deep in our biology from a time when you really couldn't get strawberries in January. I invite you to celebrate the changes in your life by eating seasonally. You might be shocked by the memories that accumulate around the meals in your life when you bring just a touch of continuousness to your palate.

Arts and Crafts

I also get excited about pumpkins. I know it is silly, but I just love a good pumpkin carving where your up to your elbows in innards and joy. Every year I long for the disgustingly rewarding feeling of scraping out the seeds with a spoon. It just doesn't feel like Autumn until there is a jack-o-lantern on my doorstep. The Fall is also a great time for other types of crafting. Those of you who love a good hot glue gun, get it out and start on that wreath of autumn leaves, a new quit, or your Halloween costume. I'll be over here, with my pumpkin guts.

Time in Nature

There is no better time to get out doors and just go exploring. If you are lucky enough to live in a place where foliage shifts, I implore you to just step out side some time and be grateful for what you have. In Texas, we have mosquitos...but the cooler weather will eventually lull them to sleep, at which point I will get outside to walk...or do some much needed gardening.

Seasonal Gatherings

It isn't quite time for that Winter fire, but the Fall is a beautiful time to gather friends for a board game night or a simple meal and movie. Ancestrally we all know to move inwards as the weather cools, towards our close communities and families. Take the excuse to huddle up and laugh with a group of people who make you feel cozy and at home.

Wardrobe Shifts

Even something as seemingly simple as pulling all your sweaters and hats out of summer storage can be done thoughtfully. When I was in high school in Houston I remember so distinctly those precious "sweater days" when everyone could wear their warm clothing. For me it marked a change in the feeling of the world. Life was cooler and so was I. As you pull out your favorite scarf this year, notice how you have changed since the last time you wore it. 

Holidays

Most of you have figured out by now that I love holidays. I love the history of them and I love the way people use them year after year to tap in to the season. All cultures have some sort of harvest of Fall celebration. Take a moment to research the traditions of your own background, or find a way completely your own to celebrate the harvest. For me, as an anglo American, it is Halloween. This simple strange holiday has it's roots in a combination of Catholicism, Celtic rituals, and 1950s nostalgia. I love spooky stories full of mystery and suspense almost as much as I love dressing up. That said, I use the season not just to evaluate my own fears but also to bring those who have gone before me in to my awareness. The memories of my grandparents, deceased friends, and lost opportunities fill my mind in Autumn. 

Because with the Fall comes not just relief from summer heat but also grief that it is over. As we ease in to Winter, let us savor these joyful Fall rituals and mourn the echo of long summer days.  

What new memories will you create in this season of remembrance?



Change is in the Air

Today marks the Fall Equinox in my hemisphere. In other places...Spring is starting. Around the world, things are changing, just as they do every year.

Growing up in South Texas, the changing of the seasons was anticlimactic to say the least. I remember being in school and being taught the seasons. I can specifically remember an illustrated wall poster that  listed all four seasons and I remember being confused. I had never seen snow and orange leaves were something I associated with scorched summer days when the sun bleached the green out of the trees. Still, like most things we learn when we are little, I took it at face value and moved on. 

I did not understand seasons until I moved to New York City after college to pursue a career. For the first twenty one years of my life I knew seasons existed but I never understood what an impact they could have on my physical, mental, and spiritual self.

In retrospect, it makes sense to me that although they did not pertain to me I was taught them as a child. The seasons of the US North East are so deeply engrained in our national culture because they are indeed powerful beyond belief. 

Now that I am back in Texas, I often miss the way the world echoed my metamorphosis. A season's shifting weather offers outward refection of inner changes. As I tap into my deep knowing, I notice the seasons much more than I did as a child. I allow myself to feel them even if nature's display looks a little different than that poster in my 2nd grade classroom. The feelings are the same regardless.

Here, as in most places, Autumn is a relief. The temperature cools, the rain starts back up again and the dead yellows and browns of a Texas summer start to turn back to green. It feels like you can live again too. Like the world is ready and waiting for your potential. 

Can you feel it? Change is in the air and there is so much to do.

Caught in the Rain

This week there were isolated Thunderstorms in the Austin area. I love that term "isolated thunderstorms". I picture a cartoon character being followed by a cloud raining directly down on them alone.I chuckle and think of the few instances in my life when I found myself surrounded by a storm with no warning.

The one that comes to mind happened just a few months ago. I was on the highway traveling to work. Up ahead I noticed that cars were applying their breaks. As I took my foot off the accelerator I wondered what had caused them all to stop so suddenly. The road ahead looked clear. All of a sudden, before I could complete my thought, all my windows fogged up and I lost visibility. I had driven into an invisible storm front that caused the outside temperature to drop by about 20 degrees. I quickly applied my breaks and flipped on my windshield wiper. Slowly the world came back into view.

That event left me shaken, but also amazed. As with most things in nature, I marvel at the spiritual truth laying just behind that front. Sometimes we do indeed hit invisible walls, things that we can not see coming but that drastically change our worlds. They cause us to slow down and revaluate what we thought was possible.

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The metaphores avalible in weather do not stop there. Other times, the storms of our life come on slowly. The world grows yellow and smells that particular way that a ripe moment smells. We know something is coming and we take a deep breath of preparation as the rain begins.

Here in Texas it can rain. The rain is hard and fast. It pelts the earth, drumming out it's anthem. When storms like this happen you have to just find a spot and hold still. They stop you in your tracks but, you know that this "isolated thunderstorm" will shortly pass. And sometimes the metaphorical "storms of our life" are like that. They hurl a lot of energy at us and all we can do when caught in these storms is hold still and wait for them to pass.

Infact sometimes waiting for a storm to pass provides peace or a much needed moment of rest. If we find our self in a safe place when these storms pass through we can sit cozy and enjoy them. Alowing the weather to remain outside and the booming cries of chaos to lull us to sleep. It is a lucky day when safety can be found in the midst of a storm.

And of course, rain makes the earth blossom with new life. Hopefully, when the storm is over we can start anew in a world that feels somehow refreshed.

Springtime Ritual Ideas

Around the US this has been one heck of a winter and slowly but surely we are being released into Spring. This season is so often associated with rebirth in the Northern hemisphere as flowers, insects, and animals bloom and grow before our eyes. It is a perfect time to get out side and notice nature awakening.

If you feel a change in your own life at this time of year, you are not alone. Many of us have mood shifts that closely follow the seasons. It isn't just about how much sunshine you get (although that is a huge factor) it also has to do with our life patterns and emotional states reflecting the changes in the natural world. 

I invite you to use Spring as a season of rebirth to clean out what you no longer need and refresh your inner resources. It has come time to shake off that snow and start opening your heart up to the newness and possibility that awaits. 

EGGS 4 SPRINGTIME!!

Here are a few simple rituals you can do on your own or with your family to welcome in the Spring spirit.

1. Start a mini-Garden

It doesn't have to be fancy but planting a few seeds and watching them grow might be a great comfort and joy in the Spring season. Try saying your favorite poem or prayer as you plant the seeds and repeat it every time you water or adjust your little garden. The seeds will grow right along side your prayer.

2. Go for a Daily Walk

Take a spin around your neighborhood or office building once a day. If you practice going on the same path at the same time everyday you will begin to notice the changes in the world. Pick one of your favorite Spring themed pieces of music to join you on the walk. It is a time just for you to breathe clean air, be outdoors, and reflect on the new opportunities in your life.

3. Have a Spring Fling

The Spring Equinox is Thursday, March 20th. If you manage to catch that date make it a very special day. Try to do something just outside of your comfort zone; something kind of a little crazy. Please stay safe and responsible, but maybe you need to jump in Barton Springs that morning or have a bonfire at the beach. Take a risk! Maybe you will look silly or feel weird but you can call it your "Spring fling" and chalk it up to the season. Perhaps you will discover something new?

4. Clean and Sort 

Okay, this one often gets a bad rap but there is no feeling quite as wonderful as eliminating clutter. Take a day to clean out your closet and donate items you no longer need or want; or get around to sorting through that pile of papers. Eliminate some un needed stuff that has just been in your way. Then when you are done reward yourself somehow. Take a deep breath. Notice that by clearing the old you have made room for the rewarding new. 

5. Photograph the Changes

Set an intention to take at least one photograph a day of something "new". Do it for at least 15 days and see how many changes you have collected. After the 15 days are up, print the photo graphs and use them in an art project. Write a short story using each photo as a sentence, or use a big canvas and collage them into one painting, or make a photo album of Spring 2014; whatever works for you! See if you notice how these small changes add up into some bigger changes.

6. Paint or Play with Eggs

No need to celebrate Easter if that isn't your thing, but eggs are a perfect symbol of Springtime and the potential for rebirth. However you want to doit, work with eggs. Go to a farm and collect them, paint them. or turn them into cascarons and have a confetti fight! Enjoy yourself! The world is all shinny and new.

7. Make a Springtime Playlist

Making a playlist is one of my favorite Expressive Arts activities. It is a musical collage of your thoughts, hopes, feelings, and struggles that you can turn on when ever needed. Use Spottify or itunes to craft a mix of your favorite songs that you want to play for yourself this Spring. Listen to them as the mood calls you. This is your time to defrost. 

Those are just a few ideas to play with ritual at Springtime. Use them and adapt them to work for you. If you have ideas or want to share how you used these ideas comments are much obliged. Or just pass this list on to someone who you think might need a bit of meaning making in their life. Remember this Spring that "to everything there is a season, and a tme to every purpose under heaven". Live it up.

love, 

Genevieve

The Art of The Heart

Love is often not an easy topic of discussion. Valentine's day gets done up each year with flowers and boyfriends and candy. Romance,while important, is only a small portion of loving. I have wanted for a long time to do something that could bring people towards a larger understanding and appreciation of all the love in their life.

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So, this weekend I facilitated my second holiday workshop with local crafts woman, Amber Lackey. It was designed to creatively delve deeper into the themes of Valentine's Day. Hopefully allowing the participants to experience the holiday on a personal and meaning filled level. We started by discussing the heart as a sacred symbol, specially it's value in ancient cultures as the seat of wisdom and intuition. Then we held a guided movement meditation where participants had an opportunity to expand their abilities to listen to the intuition of their hearts. The meditation led to a creative experience in which we sewed together a heart for our selves. Each participant crafted a completely unique little token and packed it with symbols of love in their lives. The workshop culminated in a beautiful ending ritual, in which we passed our finished hearts to one another as a circle of support.

While the whole event was an utter joy to facilitate, the closing ritual truly moved me. I felt such responsibility as I received each heart and inspected it's tiny details. By observing the nuances and textures of the artwork I felt myself loving the artist. I learned something unexpected. This is how I love in the world. When I am actively loving I am I appreciating and giving thanks and noticing beauty.

Amber and I had worked long and hard to plan this event, but no where in my plans did I expect to learn something so valuable about myself. It was such a surprise that even as I facilitated the ritual I had tears in my eyes. I did not let myself get caught up in my own emotions, but I noticed them and allowed them to pass over me so that I could continue to do my job.

On numerous occasions when conducting certain rituals or ceremonies, I have felt tears or joy wash over me. There are moments when, as an officiant, the wedding or baby blessing, or vow renewal that you are guiding becomes personal. In those moments you step into the ceremony with the participants and you engage directly in the transformation. If handled correctly, the officiant's brief entanglement in the moment can deepen the ceremony and bring all participants closer in.

For me, it is a bonus; like receiving a tip or a great referral. I add it to my paycheck as an asset, a perk of the job. Because while facilitating and witnessing the transformation of others is quite enough, there is nothing quite like experiencing transformation yourself. I am so grateful to be able to be touched by the work I do; to be learning from teaching and growing from facilitating growth. It would be fair to say that I love my job, I love my clients, and I love being witness to the unfoldment of life's bounty.

(sorry for the cheesy fancy worded post...but hey, it is Valentine's)

Conjure Woman

I have recently realized that I love to CONJURE. every job I have ever liked has involved some sort of conjuring. My involvement in the theatre had everything to do with this love of mine. I am a teacher, conjuring students passion for creative exploration. As a therapist (therapy student...for the board), I am constantly working with clients to conjure up healing and expression. And here I am as an officiant, conjuring sacred moments...inviting the spiritual to touch this world and drawing forth presence and meaning in times of transtion.

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As a wedding officiant, I have a deep love for facilitating important moments in life and consider it an honor to hold the space for the love my client's share. One such moment that I will never forget came from a tender and loving groom. As he began his vows, he started to cry. What began as a little sniffle turned into deep sobs before he could finish what he was saying, which was something about how he felt he could always rely on his partner. His bride, with a calm smile, pulled a tissue from her bouquet and handed it to him. As he looked up and took the tissue he exclaimed "See, that is exactly what I'm talking about, babe". Everyone present turned on a dime from tears to laughter. 

It was a perfect moment and an illustration of the kinds of honest and sincere weddings I love to be a part of. The groom felt safe enough, and had done enough prep work, to allow himself to be swept into the moment. The bride followed suit and so did everyone in attendance. That wedding was alive. I can't put my finger on what exactly to call it but there are moments of pure life that can be called forth in a ceremony, if the participants are willing. That is why I do weddings. To facilitate and amplify those moments when the world stops and everything becomes beautiful.

Winter Traditions

(I promised another post on The Sacred Arts. That stalled me for a little bit. I promise to return to that eventually.)

Over the Christmas break I have been contemplating the winter rituals that surround this exteremly cool season. Regardless of your religious leanings it is hard to avoid the traditions associated with Christmas and Hannakah. The idea that this is a season of warmth and joy is not coincidental.

Like all of our rituals, current winter traditions have arrisen out of human need. The shorter days and cold weather draws us indoors to hearth and family. There we find Christmas and all it's trappings bringing light into a darker world. Hannakah and Kwanza are also festivals of lights, illuminating those long cold nights. It is so clear, as we plug in our Christmas lights each night and pour our warm coco, we are enaging in ancient rituals of warming the soul.

What traditions do you and your loved ones share at this time of year?

Regardless of how you do it, may your holiday season be merry and bright!

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Sacredness

Autumn is often full of transition. As the world turns darker and the days shorten, life prepares for the cold months ahead. This happening in nature is reflected in our inner lives. Sometimes the Fall can bring depression, anxiety, and even hopelessness. However, the world has set up systems that pull those feelings out of us and place them in sacred traditions. We light candles, carve pumpkins, dress up in costumes, and get a chance to believe (even if just for one night) that the unknown is knowable. The holiness or sacredness of these traditions push deeper into life, past fear and confusion to the heart of the season; preparing for the next thing. When something is sacred it is “oh, so much more than it seems”. Simple wood and string becomes prayer beads. Wax and thread transforms into a candle lit in the darkness. A date on the calendar becomes a special anniversary. And someone simple and ordinary, that you pass on the street, transforms into the voice of your heart.
That is how sacredness works. It is a window clarifying that the world and all that it contains is “Oh, so much more”.

I invite you in this season of transition to notice the sacred rituals that surround you. How are you transforming the simple in your life to see the sacred?