Make a small shift: Change how everything looks!

Hello dear friends,

Over the last day or two we’ve experienced both the New Moon in March AND the Spring Equinox of 2023 — two harbingers of change and newness. What is new in your life? Or, what can you make new yourself? What is worthy of re-newing?

Sometimes it’s as easy as shifting your perspective on what is in front of you, and I recently discovered a very literal illustration of that: look at the 8 design images above. They are all the exact same design, colored in different ways to highlight different aspects of the design. Here is a closeup where you can see the underlying design:

I wish I could say that I drew the design, but no, I only photocopied it from a coloring book of Islamic Geometric Designs.

At first glance I would never guess that they all have the same underlying image. It was what I added, that is, how I colored the images that made the results so different. And isn’t that the way with many situations in our daily lives, too?

I notice my annoyance with something my spouse does or doesn’t do. But then I remind myself of other times when I was touched by his thoughtfulness or amused by his humor. It’s especially frustrating when he’s intending to be kind yet his actions mess up some of my best laid plans. On good days I remember that I have a choice in how I look at the actions.

Here’s a poem I wrote a few years ago with a similar idea:

Our Responsibility to be Informed by Cat Charissage

How do you get your news?

How do you live out your citizenly responsibility to be informed?

In times of war it feels that we must keep up with it all,

We must know which cities are now occupied by “the enemy,”

We must watch the crowded lineups of women and children escaping the country while they can,

must keep up three, five, nine times a day as our phones “ping” another notification of death, of suffering.

We feel good knowing these things, keeping up with the latest.

We’re being responsible, well informed citizens.

We even think we know what’s really going on

Forgetting that the first casualty of war is truth.

But — what is really going on?

And did you hear about some other news?

That in Red Deer, healthy twins were born to a couple who’d yearned for ten years for a child.  And now they have two!

Did you hear about that family in Calgary whose grandparents needed to move into assisted living, renovated their home so that the grandparents could move in with them?

Did you hear that in schools around the world, teachers gently taught little ones how to read?  And not just today, but every day?

Or that in every hospital in every nation the nurses cared for their patients, and lives were saved?

Be conscious of what news you take in.

What’s really going on?

A lot more than we’re told.


Dear friends, let us always ameliorate suffering and stand for justice, but always, always strive to see whatever beauty is in front of you. And if you just can’t find it, create some.

With much love and many blessings,


What new Energies are Moving in your Life? New Moon Musings

Hello dear friends,

On this New Moon in February, what is moving and becoming in your life? We’ve passed the cross-quarter day of Imbolc, February 2, also Groundhog Day, and Candelaria (Candlemas), all signifying the movement (in the Northern Hemisphere) of winter into the first intimations of Spring. (Maybe. . . here in southern Alberta we’ve just had quite the winter squall, complete with plunging temperatures and plenty of snow.)

To give a quick update, my book Developing Your Inner Life is a Political Act is still being considered by publishers. I sent the proposal to five publishers, and received two “thanks but no thanks”. I have yet to hear from my preferred publishers, though if another month goes by I will assume that they’re not interested. Were that to happen, I then need to decide whether to self-publish or try other publishers. Traditional book publishing has changed to unrecognizable industries in the last 20-30 years, and amazon publishing (that is, self-published print on demand books), along with the ability and necessity of authors themselves to publicize their books, has completely changed how we go about sharing our ideas publicly.

So I’m right in the middle of re-designing my website and strategizing how I might share my ideas/experience here online. I WILL get the book into the world by Fall (at least that’s the plan —- but you know the old saying “Want to know how to make God laugh? Tell her your plans!” So I’d say that’s the intention — I try not to make too many plans!) but will become more active here online so that some of you who might not be interested in a full book can still pick up many ideas on developing a deeper inner life and exploring life’s depth dimensions.

And this is what’s brewing in my life these days: I am actively strategizing and implementing how to move my ideas out of my head into the world!

The photo above is the cover of the current journal that I am finishing up today. I hand craft my own journals and start a new one on every New Moon — following the energies of the building energy until the Full Moon, then closing up projects and resting as we move into the dark of the moon in the few days before we can see the new crescent moon start to increase again. Of course not every project follows that pattern, but it provides a loose plan for how I organize the projects that are under my own control. It’s actually quite satisfying, feeling as though I’m moving in concert with the heavens in a small way.

The mandala is freeform: I drew a circle with a compass, then started at the center point and drew the patterning outward right with my alcohol markers (BIC markers) right on the canvas I used as the cover of that month’s journal. The pattern isn’t perfectly symmetrical — but neither is my life. And they’re both beautiful. Beautiful enough! I love the vibrancy of the bold colors next to each other, and that reinforces my hope to live my life with both intention and intensity.

I use my journals not just to keep my reflection writing, but as a kind of archive, a container to receive, document, and reflect on my daily life. If I send or receive a newsy email, I’ll print it out and paste it in. If I go to a concert or reading, I paste in the program. I start a new one each month because it’s still light enough for me to carry from my downstairs study to the kitchen table, and even to take with me when I’m out and about. They are constructed with Canson mixed media paper, 12 in. by 18 in., folded in half to make my inner pages. Often I take unbound pages and clean my brushes on them or play with watercolors while watching videos in order that my journal innards are already colored and inviting when I assemble the final book. The covers are either plain canvas or thicker watercolor paper into which I sew the two signatures of paper with a very simple pamphlet stitch. There are myriads of fancier and more beautiful ways to make journals, but I find that the fancier the journal, the more I’m afraid to “mess them up.” This suits my use well: beautiful enough, but no perfection needed or expected. I explore without anxiety.

Today I just finished creating this month’s journal, and I hope to show you some photos of that in my next post.

With much love and many blessings,


First New Moon in 2023; Chinese New Year: Starting with Silence and Beauty

I’m a firm believer in Coloring Books for Adults! I colored these three images recently. I wish I could say that I had designed them, but for that I’m on a much more elementary level:

These two images are my first attempt at creating some traditional Islamic geometric patterns. Using just a pencil, straight-edge (ruler), and a compass, (plus an eraser!) the most amazingly complex patterns can be made. The general idea is that God, or Mystery, creates the grids, the background designs of all that is, while we as humans create our own lives and patterns and beauty on top of the grids. And that’s how these are made: you start with the overlapping circles, then connect a number of points to make a background (the pencil markings in the images above), then connect some lines with others in a variety of ways until you emerge with beautifully repeating patterns.

I find that in this season of my life, for whatever reason, I feel very restless when I attempt my meditations. My brain is very wordy, and calming dear mind is very elusive. So I’ve begun to color in some ready-made patterns, and, hopefully, more of my own patterns as I learn more. The coloring works wonderfully to get myself out of my mind and to settle in, to listen to what’s underneath all the surface chatter. Unlike many meditators, I always have my notebook next to me when I have a sit. Often I will remember something that is important that I’d really better not ignore, and I’m able to jot down a reminder and then let that thought go as I settle back down into silence.

It’s very hard to show up to our Depth Dimension Practices perfectly, but fortunately, we don’t have to. Just show up. My colored in patterns remind me that yes indeed I did show up. Starting my workday out of this pool of silence makes the whole day a little smoother. I wish the same for you, however you find it.

Year-end thoughts

Hello Dear Friends,

The above images are from my Studio Notebook. It takes a bit of courage to post them here, as they are certainly not “fine art”. Yet, I deeply want to encourage you to do a little creative something most days —- and if we wait to post only the “fine art”, not much will ever be shared!

The first two are meditation images, where I trace an old cd for a circle, intuitively draw a design that expresses my inner self in the moment, then try out different colorways. It’s the fastest way into silence for me! The second two are my very early attempts at a new love: geometric designs, especially Islamic geometric designs, created with only a compass and a straight-edge. (And unintentionally photographed on a crooked angle!) The final image is what I created, just like taking notes, from a simple art process from another Intentional Creativity teacher, Ally Markotich.


Today is both the Solstice and the New Moon: In the northern hemisphere, both the Sun and the Moon return! Perhaps not visible yet, but surely promised! What have you been doing to mark this season? Or are you gobbled up by obligatory family traditions and expectations around Christmas?

My guys (spouse and son) are not into Christmas. (Well, I do have a present or two for each of us hidden away!) I’ve reframed the disappointment of little or no festivity as relief that the holiday does not entail more work from me, but can truly be a holy-day to be made into what I want it to be. And that means art and writing, assessing and planning! Of course I know that “planning” is the only sure way to make God laugh — but I hold things lightly, and laugh too!

I’m deeply in the midst of my traditional year end re-reading of my journals from the past year and deciding, to the best of what I can control, what to keep and what to let go of. One thing I will keep is my relatively new habit of an artist’s Sketchbook, or Studio Notebook, in which I regularly try out new ideas as well as use my art as spiritual practice. Above are some of my quick creations.

I keep journals for two primary reasons: throughout history, women’s lives were not, and still aren’t taken very seriously. Actually, neither are most men’s lives either, unless they were either conquerors or extraordinary saints. (Remember that who gets proclaimed as a saint is always a political statement.) I’m not a conqueror, an extraordinary saint, nor a servant (the expected role of many women). I want to honor and appreciate ordinary lives, and feel the power of honoring and appreciating my own.

The other reason I keep a journal is to make visible to myself all that I do on a daily basis that unless documented in some way falls into invisibility. If I don’t keep a journal, a week or two can go by and looking back, I can barely remember anything I’ve done. This then triggers my social conditioning that says I must be wasting my time (a very serious sin according to the overculture). I banish those old voices by documenting the truth: I have a full and interesting life and while I do many, many things, I do not waste my time.

Since I’m still in the midst of the great “re-reading”, I’ll tell you more of my discoveries later. But for you, what are you saying goodbye to? What will you be keeping? Is there anything new wanting to happen?

With much love and many blessings,


Sending Out My Book to Publishers!

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you on this New Moon of November! The above image is a sample page from my Studio Notebook, where my intention is to invest about 20 minutes a day in playing around with color and image. The above colors are not typical choices for me, but I quite like the effect. It reminds me of my visits to my favorite place on the planet — the American Southwest.

MY BIG NEWS: I just finished the Proposal for my book, Developing Your Inner Life is a Political Act! I have to tell you the truth — it was almost harder than writing the book in the first place! After reading a couple of books and lots of guidelines as to how to pitch your book to publishers, I set to the task of explaining why this book should be published now, and how it will appeal to audiences. The publishing world has significantly changed in the past 30 years, and proposals now need to have a complete marketing plan plus how you will promote your book on Social Media. Well, I’m not used to thinking that way, and it took me a few weeks to get my mind around it all. Finally, I’ve written the proposal, including what potential publishers will need in order to make a decision whether to take it up or not, while also keeping true to who I am and what I honestly have to offer.

Instead of thinking that I have to do all sorts of things I don’t want to do (i.e., be on social media a lot) just in order to sell my book, I’ve reframed it. I realize that I have lots of things to share that would help people live a more reflective life, identify their authentic desires and values, and then have the motivation to take those passions out into the world to create a better life, a better world that can be a home for all of us. If I focus more attention to talking about those things on the internet and on social media, I will not only reach more people, but will also be letting people know that if they’re interested, I also have a book that expands on all of those things! And so, in a month or two I will be blogging more, and setting up a mailing list for a regular newsletter as well.

I finished the Proposal, but I still need to send it out to the 6 or so publishers I’ve selected. I’m hoping to do that tomorrow. Please send some good energy that my book find its right home in order to get out into the world. Open to any helpful advice you might have. If, after a few months, I get no nibbles, I will probably go ahead and publish it myself on amazon publishing. We shall see!!!

In other news, I was able to attend Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ first in-person training in three years: The Wounded Healer Master Training in late October in Colorado. As she had had a very intense case of covid that had lasted weeks and weeks, I was delighted to see her looking stronger, powerful, and more vibrant than I’d ever seen her! When she came into the room at our first gathering, the whole room of about 70 of us spontaneously, as one, stood up and applauded her into the room. Almost all of us were in tears, knowing how much covid has taken from us, and so grateful to be able to once again learn from Dr. Estes and be with each other. The people who are regulars at her trainings are some of the finest people I’ve met in my life, and I gather strength from knowing that we are all out in our corners of the world, doing our work for the benefit of all. I am so grateful to have been able to go.

In the next two months I have two surgeries scheduled for carpal tunnel syndrome. I have no idea how difficult the surgeries and recovery will be for me (another reason I’m so pleased to be getting out the proposal before then!). Yet the CTS affects me pretty badly now, and if successful, the surgeries will be so welcomed. Other chronic pain, especially in my rotator cuffs, can’t be fixed through surgery. I’ll take any relief I can find! Your prayers and intentions for safe surgeries are received gratefully.

May we all have what we need in this quiet, reflective time of winter and its attendant festivities! I’ll be home, quiet, recovering and reading books that have long been put aside while I’ve worked on my own book.

With candlelight, warm drinks, comfy chairs, and great books or videos, I wish you treasures of winter,

With love and blessings,


“Mission Statement” and “Strategic Plan”

Painting/Collage from Sept. 9, 2022 Retreat for Spiritual Directors, Watercolor on paper, Cat Charissage (c) 2022

Dear Friends,

Happy New Moon, just two days after the Equinox. Here in North America, the light signals that fall is in the air. I love the way the light in September makes the leaves and the trees glow golden.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the fall retreat of the Lethbridge Spiritual Directors’ Peer Support Group, and I led a portion of the day with this art activity. I invited us to think of some of the “worlds” we live in, then to look at them, peer between them, and think of what is ours to do in this season of life. My four “worlds” were Family (including Chosen family), Sharing my Enquiry and Wisdom, Intentional Creativity, and Transformative Connections:

I painted a cross between a medicine circle and a Celtic cross, the purple circle to represent my life at this time, with the large yellow crossbars representing my soul life. The four “worlds” include words which describe the what and the how of each of those worlds, and the yellow curved papers uniting the circle with the outside of the circle describe how I wish to live in this world: “Focus”, “Respect dear body”, “Appropriate Boundaries”, “Drawn, not Driven”, “tonglen” (a practice of metaphorically breathing in the darkness of the world, offering what I can to cleanse the darkness, then breathing out clean, clear light), and an awareness of the presence of “Holy Ones and Ancestors”. All the flotsam and jetsam floating around the purple circle are all the things in the world that I find interesting and attractive, all the books I want to read, the movies I want to see, the new people I’d love to meet, all the disciplines I’d love to learn about, all kinds of ways I’d love to be of service, all the art classes I’d love to take, etc., etc. Alas, we are all limited beings in time, yet, to the extent possible, I want to be conscious of how I am living this blessed life, to be conscious of what I’m focusing my energy on.

After I finished this collage, I looked at it and had to laugh —- and here’s the simple, contemplative life I want to be living! Looks pretty busy and cluttered and oh so full —- so many words, so many colors!!! So I did another small painting: the blue background, the purple circle of self and the worlds I live in within it. When I went to share my artwork with the others, I said that the simple circled cross was what I aspire toward, as in my mission statement; the full-colored busy one is the way I actually live my day-to-day life.

So what about you? At this cultural “new year” of so many new projects starting, what worlds are you living in? Are there worlds that you need to move out of in this season of life? Are there worlds where you need to offer more focus? Can you come up with a simple image, or word or phrase, that encompasses your life these days? Is your life what you want it to be? If not, where do you have choices in order to change things here and there, or change things in one fell swoop!? We don’t control everything in our lives, but we can control our attention. What are you paying attention to these days?

Enjoy this transition time!

With much love and many blessings,


Can we talk about Overwealmth?

Dear Friends,

I created each of the above color wheels with just three colors of paint, plus black and white. Interesting, isn’t it, what can come from just a few ingredients, using two different brands of paint?

Well, this is my life. And most probably, yours too.

We thought we chose (or were handed) three important things in life, say, family, work in the world, and things you love to do for fun or relaxation. Sounds easy enough to create a well-balanced life with those three elements. Wrong. Each of the three elements, or colors, in our lives have morphed into at least 24 colors, or elements, and could potentially morph into infinite elements, or colors, with just a little more of this, a little less of that — or, heaven forbid! — using a different brand of color, such as moving to a new town or new job.

We’re moving into a new school year, the perennial start of so many new things, and frankly, my dear friends, I’m deep into overwealmth! I want to know if you have any good ideas as to how to handle this, please! “Overwealmth” is a word that I made up from “overwhelm” and “wealth”, the condition of near-paralysis induced by having too many good things going on, or to choose from, or to pursue; and you don’t feel you can give up anything! It’s the sticky spot right in the middle of time management, prioritizing, clutter management, recognizing human limits of time, space and attention, discerning one’s calling(s) in life, desire to honor the gifts of the people and opportunities around one, and wanting to revolutionize the way our societies and hungry forces have shaped, limited, and killed off the creative urges of so many people throughout time, including our ancestors and often, ourselves.

Dr. Estes has sometimes referred to something similar as “raining tortillas”, a condition where, after famine or scarcity, so many opportunities, ideas, and resources come falling out of the sky, and we wear ourselves out trying to collect them all before they go bad.

Simply put, I have so many interests, so many email newsletters, so many art courses, and so many poetry groups that they could fill my nine lives as a “Cat”. The new school year is filled with new programs starting, new sales on old classes, and new in-person groups that I would love to attend. Not to mention what is already here in this life: beloved friends and family, that book I’m writing (I think I’m done with content editing; just a few more checks and then the writing of book proposals to publishers!), comfortable and productive routines, and all the maintenance tasks of cooking, laundry, cleaning (okay, so not that much cleaning). I could give more details, but each of us has our own mix, and I’m more interested right now in HOW to choose, HOW to prioritize, and HOW to go forward in a responsible, ethical, and hopefully delightful manner.

I think that for almost all of us, this is a relatively new problem — and I fully recognize the irony (blasphemy?) of calling too much of a good thing (opportunities, choices) a problem. Many of us have come from ancestors who had very few choices; they often had to move to “new” lands to escape starvation and work in oppressive conditions just to provide for their families, and those new lands were already filled with people. History has not been an uninterrupted narrative of justice and delight (oh, you noticed, did you?); we all have our stories, and many of them are nightmares. Just to have a safe enough home, health care, and enough food and sleep is something that most of our ancestors never had and many of us have had to worry about. (see

When I was younger, though there was always enough food, there weren’t nearly enough books, new ideas, creativity, art supplies. I felt “image-starved” with few art books, and no color-photocopiers. Yet now, for the price of a computer account and a mid-level color printer, I have binders and binders full of beautiful and inspiring images I’ve printed out for myself. Instead of being limited to my city’s community college offerings for art classes or poetry groups, I literally have a world full of talented others ready to sell me an art course on anything I can imagine, or membership in a group of like-minded creatives. Because of the scarcity of these extras in my growing up, I’ve developed the habit of collecting whatever resources I could find so that I’d have some resources in reserve when I had the time to enjoy them. My nervous system hasn’t adapted to the “too-much-ness” of the choices available now.

As our choices have multiplied at an exponential rate, however, the capabilities of our oh so human bodies haven’t changed. We each only have about four thousand weeks in a life (see, and I’m acutely aware that I’ve already used up 3, 380 of mine. Investigating these new options and figuring out how to choose among them (and writing about the overwealmth of it all) is using more of the time I have left to enjoy whatever it is that I end up choosing!

Oh, for the experience of “no-time” in ritual, the spaciousness of meditation, the flow of artistic expression! If I remember that these experiences come in the doing of the ritual, meditation, or artistic expression, and not in the gathering of the no longer scarce resources for when I might have the time to enjoy them, then things become clearer, faster. I have enough, and the time is now.

Each of us needs only three colors, plus black and white. How we mix those is our life, our contribution, and our legacy. It’s time to delete the email subscriptions, get off of instagram and amazon (fortunately, I early recognized the crack cocaine nature of Pinterest for someone like myself, and do not indulge). It’s time to just pick up the colors.

Much love and many blessings on this New Moon,


W.I.P., SABLE, and more than enough

W.I.P. in sketchbook, July 2022 (c) Cat Charissage

Dear friends,

This is a work in progress that started when I sat in front of my sketchbook and had no idea what to paint or draw. The center flower appeared first, then the spiraling out, and then the purple bowl within the red bowl. And then I got it. The sketch/painting illustrates the truth behind my “stashes”.

You see, I have a lot of books. I also have a lot of art supplies — many received as gifts, and many, many taken home from thrift stores as I say a prayer for the person whose probable death meant I was able to find their stash donated to the thrift store. An impolite (and clueless) observer might wonder if I were becoming a hoarder. Not nearly. I certainly do, though, have SABLE — Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy.

Books and art supplies are not self-destructive “addictions” as compared to real addictions to drugs or alcohol. And I’m not a Maria Condo fan. (Have you seen what she recommends we do with our books!?!?) The stash has deeply served me, serve others as I “share the wealth” through loaning or giving away, and will no doubt serve future budding artists as they find the remnants of my stash at the thrift stores where my family will have donated things after I pass over to the next adventure.

When I was a child my parents punished and controlled me by controlling my access to books. They would take the pile of library books and the shelf of Nancy Drew mystery stories and put them in their large closet where I dare not try to recover them. Books were my salvation then, and escaping into other worlds than the difficult and surreal reality of my family kept me sane enough to eventually be able to leave. It was an effective tactic on my parents’ part, as I would do anything to get my survival tools, my books, back. Even when the books were seated on my small bedroom bookcase, I knew they could be arbitrarily taken away at any time. “Punishment” never made sense in my family, and was meted out according to my parents’ unhappiness rather than as a consequence of any behavior of mine. So anytime, what I needed for survival could disappear. It’s no wonder, then, that when I was able to control the access to my books, I always made sure I knew exactly where they were, and had enough extra that I never again had to re-read one 22 times.

Art supplies were the same, and different. Making art was not valued in my family, and any art supplies I might acquire were often confiscated to entertain my younger brothers. Of course the art supplies didn’t survive toddler enthusiasms.

For a long time I was embarrassed by my full shelves and drawers, wondering if I was still reacting to past pains and injustices. And surely I was in my first years of adulthood, but no more. They are wonderful resources that help my and others’ survival, that help my and others’ creativity. The books are freely shared; they help me and others engage with our flesh and blood lives rather than serving only as escape. The art supplies are shared whenever I gather together women friends for deep and real conversations. Discussion flows while paint flows, and it is good. They have become resources for creating a new world. Slowly, yes. But surely, too.

This sketchbook painting is a first iteration of a painting that will somehow show that the sharing of what is needed for survival (the bowls) is a step toward the creation of more and more resources needed for our blossoming, bringing beauty and more than enough of all that we need. May it be so.

Much love and many blessings,


The Day’s Rhythms

my recent art meditations

Dear Friends,

I write to you on this New Moon in June. It’s been a fruitful time for my inner self these days; I’d like to share a little bit of that with you in order for you to ask yourself how this resonates for you. Are you following a similar path, or is this a completely different season for you? How would you describe to yourself what you’ve learned, or realized, in the past few months?

I broke my left arm on June 2, just as I had finished recording my offerings for a Virtual Retreat that I was involved in, and just as I was joining others in the planning of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of that retreat. (On-line ceremony almost seems like an oxymoron —- but one thing humans do is to adapt to circumstances, and so we did, and the ceremonies were, actually, beautiful.) One of the invitations in the Closing Ceremony had to do with articulating, in just a couple of words, what is next in our lives, what next that we are committed to showing up for. The words that came to me were “Contemplative Elderhood.”

I also had spent a month intentionally asking “Please remove from me everything that is not myself.” This prayer I learned from my dear teacher, Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Something has been stirring.

Then last weekend I fell into a major funk: I felt just SO FRUSTRATED by the limitations of my broken arm along with the limited mobility of my “good” right arm, needing to ask for help in all sorts of things I’m used to just doing as I needed, by myself! Things like driving, cooking, dressing, showering, pulling up my pants, etc. So frustrated, and so tired of aching 24/7, slowed down and exhausted because of the constant pain. So I sat and waited and listened and asked for help, and slowly I’m beginning to see how I can live “Contemplative Elderhood” in my day to day. I was reminded of a poem I wrote in about 2017, a poem that at the time I could only imagine as being possible. . . someday. . . maybe. . .

To Know Mystery

To know mystery, dear one, 

 live the life you long for.

You have more choices than you think. . . 

What if you knew that the only thing you have to do

is what you long to do:  what is good, useful, holy —-

to drop into, over and over and over, this blessed mystery?

Yes, it is possible to live creatively and sustainably, with grace and joy!

What grows the soul, do this,

and what makes dear body thrive, do that.

To nurture an inner life is your political act now.

Defending the depth dimensions, 

your wisdom becomes gift.

Listen for the rhythm:  in, down, up, poured out.

In, down, up, poured out.

In deep connection, with word, image, dream, and silence

live the life you long for.

Well, it seems that this is the time to live this. My broken arm, along with the rest of dear body, is telling me to slow down, stay at home more, but to harvest the so much of what I have learned over the years, both from my study (which has been extensive), and from my experience (which I really would rather have read the book about, and not lived through!)

So here I am, following a flexible rhythm in my days:

Sleep as long as I need to, then up, breakfast, and check email;

Go downstairs to my study; do art meditation and journaling;

Work on my book or current projects.

After supper with my family: read, watch some art videos, listen to poetry or teachings from the mystics;

move into silence and sleep.

On the weekends, a type of “Sabbath” — resting, renewing, being a human BEING.

Not so different from what has arisen naturally for me, but here I’m naming it and claiming it. Of course, “LIFE” interrupts the best laid plans —- that’s why I call it a rhythm. When other needs arise, I hope I can settle back into the rhythm with ease.

And so, dear friends, what’s calling to YOU these days?

New Moon: Bird Woman Painting, and Two Poems

Bird Woman (c) Cat Charissage 2022

Hello dear friends,

One of my recent paintings. I wish I could tell you what it “means”, but I’m wordless about this painting. A woman with crows and ravens as her allies. I could do worse. . .

Two recent poems, “My Nature is Nature” and “Remove from Me Everything that is Not Myself”:

My Nature is Nature

— Cat Charissage 2022

I was raised within walls.

My mom always said we weren’t outdoorsy people.

She thought camping was what poor people did.

My dad wore a suit — always —

And he did not want to sweat.

The outdoors was, well, uncivilized.

It was humid, and had bugs.

The sun shone too brightly,

And I’d get sunburn so bad 

That I’d throw up and run a fever.

No thanks.  No fun.

I was raised within walls.

But I grew up, and had a child myself

For whom I wanted to tear down walls:

Walls of prejudice and walls of fear, 

And that meant tearing down the walls I’d been raised in.

And my human nature greeted outside nature.

I smelled pine and cedar.

I heard water flowing over rocks.

I saw mountains I’d never climb

And picnic spots where the fire spoke.

With my boy, we’d learn from the nature centers

That dotted our wanderings.

From mountain slides to coulee secrets

We literally entered a new world, the real world.

I still get sunburn, but I learned to wear a hat.

I still don’t like ticks or big spiders,

Though caterpillars and bees have their charms.

I’m not a camper and I’m not much of a hiker,

But I’m grateful, so grateful, 

To those who’ve built the trails and put up the signs

Who’ve taught me that here, outside the walls, I belong.

I, too, belong on this earth, of this earth,

That my nature needs this nature, is nature, 

and with nature we carry on.

Remove From Me Everything That is Not Myself

—- Cat Charissage 2022

A wise woman offered me her prayer:

Please remove from me everything that is not myself.

Not very poetic; a little awkward; just nine words:

Please remove from me everything that is not myself.

I’ve never forgotten it, and it came back this year

As an inner chant drumming on my heart.

In equal measure I find myself yearning for that to be so, 

And terrified of being left with nothing,

Left naked and cold.  So very cold.

Please remove from me everything that is not myself.

But what if I like having things that are not myself?

What if I’m used to having, to being, lots?

I have the trappings of an educated woman near the end of a varied, interesting career

— and I know my status, power, and position are already in the process of removal.

Those trapping may have been mine, but they are not myself.

I am other than, more than, — and am less than that, too: myself.

I hold all kinds of “stuff,” all kinds of souvenirs

From a life caring for others:

My mother’s dreams,

My fathers’ failures,

Trying so hard,



And grief:

The grief of so many who have told me 

Their secrets, their pains, their betrayals.

I know how to help carry others’ burdens,

And I carry much.  Much.

And, it is time to set those down to let earth compost them.

They are not myself.

I have wanted to help,

And I have.

And, I’m not the only one who can help.

The world is filled with allies offering help and healing, comfort and transformation.

Ask the ravens and the deer,

Listen to the trees, and even humans, too.

That “stuff” I’ve carried, those burdens, 

They are not myself

Not even the stuff that has happened directly to me:

They are not myself.

The outer life — it has defined me, 

but that is not myself.

And now, what is left?  What is myself?  

What is inside?

The inner life is . . . vast . . . 

The inner life is so rich . . .

The inner life is like waiting for a butterfly to land on your hand.

If I’m very calm, very still, heart and hands held open,

The butterfly comes.  And worlds open.

Worlds open, and I fall through the depths 

Finding myself, my true self.

THIS is my self.

It’s taken a long time to get here.

Thank you.

And you, my friends, I wish for you sunny days and rainy nights, everything you need to grow grow grow in body and heart, in mind, in soul, and in spirit.

Much love and many blessings,