What is mine, what is not mine; or, Discernment 3000.

20171001_171124Dear Friends,

There is so much going on at this time of the New Moon.  There are so many crises needing our attention and our material help.  So many issues need to be addressed to stop the ongoing crises that they engender.

It’s enough to drive a person to Pinterest (crack for artists). . . .  or cute cat photos.

Actually, my favorite distraction is reading yet another book (no, not simply a 5 page article, but a 300 page BOOK —- my latest is Work Clean) on organizing oneself, on getting things done efficiently AND effectively.  Most of the time I even convince myself that I’m learning something new and important that WILL make me more efficient AND effective in all that I choose to be/do.

I remember as a young woman hearing about a community or societal need, and having the time, energy, and usually even the resources to help.  Needless to say, that was before the internet and 24/7 news, and before I understood most of the underlying issues that cause such tragedies.  Now, there is so much begging for our attention and help that I don’t even have the time to figure out what I can really do something about and what I am powerless to influence, much less which is the genuine news and which are distractions, “false-flags”, or fake news.  Remember, Facebook and many, many, many others spend lots of money figuring out how to grab our eyeballs and focus our attention on their agendas.

Oh, you feel that way, too?  Well, I’m not sure I can offer any real help —- though if you need help organizing your daytimer, I sure can offer a lot of advice!

What I do know, though, is that silence and “non-thinking” time is the greatest investment I can make in taking responsibility for my human life and energies — gifts, skills, and limitations, all.  It often feels as though I simply don’t have time for that “luxury”, but when I start getting annoyed that Jesus in the Christian gospels took time away from the crowds, or “wasted” a whole night praying when there were so many people to heal, that’s my clue that I’d REALLY better step away from the computer and all my “good things to do that can help”.  Time to step away from the frenzy.

Let’s not even ponder the hopefulness and the hubris that I, one person, can even make an appreciable difference for the good.

One of the things I do ponder, though, is why it is so hard to follow my own advice, to do what it is that I really know helps.  Why do I still get pulled off center?   I’ve known this wisdom for at least 35 years, yet I can still get sucked into frantic action, or at least frantic worry.  I deeply resent the time I need to sleep and the time it takes for me to attend to my health issues, the household chores and the cooking, even washing my paintbrushes (when I allow myself the “luxury” of creating art).  Objectively speaking, I’m doing pretty well —- I waste very little time, and the things I spend time on ARE really “my” things to do, the best use of my time and energy.  But still. . . .

Do you ever get really tired of your own issues?

Well, here, breathe.  In a moment of grace remember that reality is what it is:  we are limited, we are imperfect, and we are also endearing and beautiful and powerful.  So much is out of our control, be it a Type A personality and health challenges, the psychologists hired to figure out how to distract us (the better for corporations to control us), or (twisted) religious teachings that urge us to give, like Jesus, unto death, because if you’re still alive, you haven’t given enough.

Yet, we are also enough.  Love:  yourself and those within your reach.  Love with your actions, and love with your thoughts, prayers, and intentions.  And do whatever you need to do to remember this.

I’m going to go color a mandala and write in my journal now.  (Andrew calls it my “superconscious life”.)  What are YOU going to do, or not do, now?

With much love and many blessings,





Mother of Hope in interesting times

Mother of Hope

(c) Cat Charissage, 2017, a.r.r.


Hello dear Friends,

Many blessings to you in this season of new beginnings:  the new moon, the beginning of fall (here in the northern hemisphere) on Friday’s Equinox, and the beginning of my Story Circles and fall activities.  My dreams are all pointing to my wanting something new, a new beginning of some sort.  Yours too?

With all that is going on around us on our dear earth, we seem to be living that old curse that intones “May you live in interesting times!”  In the midst of all, there is something small in me that holds an unreasonable hope.  Here in this painting I wanted to create an image of this hope in the midst of where you might least expect it to come from:  from the parts of the world, and of our own consciousnesses, that seem dispensable to those in arrogant power.  What are we taught to fear that might hold a new promise? In the painting is a small book —- remember the power of education, of reflection, of creating our own journals of thoughts, ideas, poetry.

Last week my Story Circle “A Poet’s Words” began.  Everyone was so enthusiastic and so open — it gives me hope that we can save what it is we love so deeply.  I facilitated the first meeting, sharing the poetry of Rumi and my love for the comfort, surprise, and challenge his words give me.

Here are a few lines I’m thinking of today:

“Move from within.

Don’t move the way that fear wants you to.

Begin a foolish project.

Noah did.”


“Run from what’s comfortable.

Forget safety,

Live where you fear to live.

Destroy your reputation.

Be notorious.

BE NOTORIOUS. [emphasis mine]

I have tried prudent planning

long enough.  From now on,

I’ll be mad.”

Over the next few blog posts, I’ll share more of my favorite lines from Rumi, and a little about his life and times.  Did you know that for him, poetry was just part of the way he communicated with his students?  He didn’t retreat to a private room to write his lines, revising them until “perfect”.  He formulated his lines as he taught, and in the last 12 years of his life, the translator/interpreter Coleman Barks estimates that Rumi created 12 to 14 poems A DAY that his followers would write down as he spoke.    Think of the abundance of creativity available to him!  Might we be capable of that — or at least more than what we currently access?

I closed the Story Circle with this question:  “Why am I, a post Catholic, interspiritual, nonviolent feminist of the 21st century teaching about an Afghan/Turkish Muslim male of 800 years ago?  Because we can learn from surprising sources, and because I always want to challenge the stereotypes handed on to me.  Have you ever had the experience of learning something very valuable from a surprising source?  Have you ever had your stereotypes, or your culture’s stereotypes, blown open?”

Maybe our “interesting times” hold new hope, if we can access our creativity.  “Reasonable” doesn’t always get us where we need to go.

With much love and many blessings I will close with another line from Rumi:

“You were born with wings.  Why prefer to crawl through life?”


Our Lady of Compassion


(c) Cat Charissage, 2017, a.r.r.

Dear Friends,

Greetings on this September Full Moon.  Now that the fall season has started, I intend to return to blogging regularly on the full and new moons.

Here is my most recent painting, the archetype of compassion.  There is much in the world right now that is tragic, from the rise of white supremacy groups and the immigration policies of the United States, to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the many wildfires in the west of Canada and the United States.  Those are just in my continent; many in the world have huge challenges around them.  And many of us have huge challenges within us, of heartbreak, trauma, and physical, psychological, or spiritual pain.

At previous times in my life I was quite active in small-p politics, working for the causes I believe in.  More recently my work is quieter, including this painting and writing and working with small groups and individuals.  I often wonder what might be the best response to the tragic.  Anger energizes, resistance with others brings solidarity.   Yet always, the best response is love, and compassion.  Compassion comes from the Latin, “to suffer with”, and I think that true loving compassion comes not when we feel sorry for, or pity others, but when something in their suffering touches our own hearts where we, too, have known pain.

For almost a thousand years, the Black Madonna of Christianity, in her hundreds and hundreds of forms, has stood witness to the suffering of humanity and our earth.  She knows the dark, knows our pain, and is with us in the tragic.  She holds the idea, the possibility, of the deep compassion that is possible within us as human beings.  The energy of compassion, the archetype of compassion, is huge, dynamic, almost more than we can understand.  To love is never all sunshine and lollipops.  Roses also have thorns, and are often the color of blood.  What makes them grow is bone meal.  Blood, and bones, then the possibility of beauty coming from what has been broken.

My lady wears the colors of alchemy, the black, white, yellow and red of transformation —- the spiritual journey of our souls and psyche.  The old alchemists’ attempts to transform lead into gold is, symbolically, our own attempts to bring something beautiful, whole, and precious out of something common, dull, and harmful. Lead poisons.  Gold is the sun of photosynthesis, of life.

When I paint faces, I only have partial control of their expressions.  Here, this lady, appeared almost fully formed — turning toward us with such love and acceptance, inviting us to come to her.  Yet she knows the tragic.  She knows the suffering, has lived it.

May we all, with the help of deep compassion, alchemize the suffering within and around us into healing, wholeness, an beauty.

With much love and many blessings,


Turning the Season: Fall 2017 Offerings


“What kind of a creator are you?” (c) Cat Charissage, 2017, a.r.r.

Hello dear Friends,

While I know that many of you do not live close enough to attend my workshops here in southern Alberta, I thought I’d share my fall plans.  If you are interested, any of these offerings can also be done individually, online through video calling.

My work is exploring the expressive arts of painting and writing in the service of Soulwork and exploring life’s Depth Dimensions.  More details of all events can be found in the attached brochure, or contact me at catcharissage@gmail.com.

There will be three year-long Story Circles, each meeting once a month on a Wednesday from 7 – 9:30 p.m.  On the second Wednesdays of each month from September through June it will be  A Poet’s Words, where each participant will share poetry we love and respond to writing prompts inspired by the poets.  On the third Wednesdays, it will be Wonderings about Dreams.  This group will explore night dreams AND daydreams, looking into our personal imagery for insight and guidance.  The LAST Wednesdays of the month will be on Mother Night, exploring this cd program from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  (NOTE:  This Mother Night group is full and closed.  However, if there is sufficient interest, I will open up a new group.)
In these year-long Story Circles, I ask for a commitment from participants to attend all of the sessions (surprises in life permitting, of course!)  You are free to come in September or October without commitment in order  to see if the group is a good fit for you.  I have found that these small groups, ranging from 4 participants to 8, become a strong community of enquiry and support over the months, and are not conducive for new attendees in the later months.  This year, I have enough participants already in order to run all three groups, so if you are at all interested, please contact me soon to ensure a spot.
In addition to these long-term groups, I have one workshop scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 4, on Black Madonna Rising.  This day will include her images and lore plus painting our own image of her and creating a poem or prayer.  While my background is from a Catholic Christian tradition, we will be looking at the Black Madonna not only as the mother of Christ, but also as icon of wise, fierce, and compassionate womanly power, and as a form of what the Divine Feminine can look like.
Especially for those who do not enjoy evening groups, I am also offering two types of less formal gatherings each month, on a “come as you are able to” basis.  (Please RSVP to let me know you’re coming, though, to ensure space.)  On the second Friday  of each month I offer Red Thread and Tea, from 1:30 to 4:00.  Here we will use simple art processes and journal prompts to explore evocative questions, drink herbal tea, and close with a Red Thread Circle.  My intent in these circles is to foster meaningful conversations among us and support us in living reflective lives which fuel our social action for justice and compassion, however we live that out.  On the LAST Saturdays of each month I offer Open Studio, from 1:30 to 4:30.  Open Studio is a relaxed time to explore paper arts and/or painting, again in the service of reflective and intentional living.
All events take place in my studio in my north Lethbridge home.  Gatherings are small (limit of 8 persons), but relaxed and welcoming.
A 60 page Chapbook of my poetry and paintings entitled Open to Mystery is now available.  It is in the Lethbridge library for borrowing, or contact me for purchase ($15.00).
With much love and many blessings,

Cat Charissage:  Fall 2017 Offerings

Intentional Creativity and SoulWork

catcharissage@gmail.com  www.catcharissage.com

Small group and individual sessions using simple art processes and writing prompts to OPEN TO MYSTERY, EXPLORE LIFE’S DEPTH DIMENSIONS, and DEEPEN OUR FREEDOM.



(c) Cat Charissage, 2016, a.r.r.


Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, 1:30 – 4:30

Why are there more than 500 ancient paintings of the Blessed Mother with dark or black skin?  Who is she?  Why is her image making such a resurgence in the 21st Century?  What can she tell us about care for the earth, care for the oppressed, care for our own dark inner places?  Join me for an afternoon exploring her images and lore, instruction on painting her with acrylic on watercolor paper, and crafting a poem or prayer to her.

$65 (Pay what you can, space permitting)

“Choose” (c) Cat Charissage, 2017, a,r.r.

RED THREAD and TEA Story Circle

Second Friday afternoons of the month, 1:30 – 4:00

Join me in conversation about life’s mysteries and callings.  Come when you can, but please RSVP.  We’ll start with tea, a simple art process and inquiry, and close with a Red Thread Circle.

Fri., Sept. 8: Can expressive arts help us live more deeply?  How?

Fri., Oct. 13: What is sufficient?  How am I full?  Too full?

Fri., Nov. 10: What energizes my commitments and causes?

Fri., Dec. 8: What can doubt teach me about faith?

By donation


Last Saturdays of each month, 1:30 – 4:30   

Sat., Sept. 30:  Creating Your Freedom Journals

Sat., Oct. 28:  Painting Your Landing Page

Sat., Nov. 25:  Simple Holiday Gifts from Paper

Sat., Dec. 30:  Circle Planning for a New Year

By donation

“Golden Cup” (c) Cat Charissage, 2015, a.r.r.


September through June, 2017   7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
A POET’S WORDS: 2nd Wednesdays of the month


MOTHER NIGHT (Wolf Women): LAST Wednesdays

(for more info, please email or phone me at 403-330-9560)

Each:  $200 value (Pay what you can, space permitting)
For more information or to register, contact me at catcharissage@gmail.com
20161114_102318About me:

I am  a contemplative educator, counsellor, and artist, helping women and men navigate the Depth Dimensions of their lives through image, word, silence, and dream.  I believe that the most important work each of us can do is to live out our gifted selves fully, creatively, and freely, to make a home for all  of us, in a world which too often wounds our bodies and souls and colonizes our minds with distractions, commercialization, and other people’s agenda.  

I live in the liminal places, between the worlds where spiritual reality meets ordinary life, where word (poetry, prose) meets image (paintings, journals), where wild adventure meets chronic pain, and where prairie meets mountains in western Canada.

A student of the wisdom traditions of the world, I have a Masters in Education, 4 years’ graduate study and a B.A. in Theology, plus more than 30 years’ experience in service and education, including as counsellor and Executive Director of a sexual assault center.  Trained in post-trauma counselling and a certified Intentional Creativity Teacher and  Coach, I  have taught in university,  high school,  professional development, and privately.  I stand on the shoulders of my beloved teacher and mentor Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of the bestselling Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype.   I work out of my home studio in Lethbridge, Alberta, and on the internet through video calls.  A 60 page chapbook of my paintings and poetry entitled Open to Mystery is now available.

“I’m at capacity”


work in progress, (c) Cat Charissage, all rights reserved, 2017

Dear Friends,

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted here.  I’m at capacity in my life at the moment, and haven’t had time or energy to write here.  I will return when I am a bit more rested, a bit more energetic.

This month has seen not only the great reception of my chapbook (thank you so much for the many kind comments), but my annual week-long intensive with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes in the second year of her Heart of the Wounded Healer training.  The travel this year took more out of me than ever before  —-  but it was still well worth it.

May you be growing and blooming as the green around me is doing so here in the northern hemisphere!  May you rest as you need to, play as you long to, and contribute your unique gifts in deeply meaningful ways!  And may I do so as well!

Until later, much love,


My new Chapbook!


Dear Friends,

On this New Moon, a new offering:  I’m so pleased to announce that I have published a 60 page chapbook of my poetry and photographs of my paintings!  This has been a labour of love, and it feels wonderful to have a cluster of my work all in one place.  Not all of my poetry or paintings are in the chapbook of course.   And even if no one were to ever look at or read this little book, it has been a real affirmation to me of my artistic expression of the last four years.

The poetry is written both in my own voice, and in the voice of my inner wise woman or of the Sacred.  They’re all about wanting to live a life of depth, integrity, and fidelity to gifts or talents that can help the world to become kinder and more just.




“Life is the invitation to the portal

where we transform our

coal into diamonds,

where we recognize

the truth of all symbols to

throw us back together

into ourselves

and our wisdom.”

And I move into a truth that can only be known

by seeing all sides

with compassion —

including my own limited, bounded self in this limited, aching body.”

“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.”

If you’re interested in a copy, I’m selling them basically at cost for $15.00, shipping included.  Of course, if you are able and wanting to support my work so that I can continue to offer Story Circles and workshops on a “pay what you can” basis, I would use your contributions with integrity, and gratitude.  Email me, and I will send you a Paypal invoice which you can pay with credit card.  I will send your copy on the day I receive payment.   http://www.catcharissage.com

Of course, my paintings and poetry are also available right here on my blog.

Thank you so much for your faith and encouragement in the past few years.  May we all blossom forth to be what this world is so hungry for:  love, beauty, kindness, justice.

With much love,


Mary the Magdalene


Mary Magdalene, acrylic on canvas, Cat Charissage (c) 2017

Mary the Magdalene                                          Cat Charissage, May 2017

The stories say that you lived for 30 years in a cave, afterwards.

This rings true to me.

After the loss, and finding, and then a different kind of loss,

a soul needs a sojourn to a new place, and

a cave of memory, of healing, of wonder and contemplation to nestle into,

brooding over the waters of tears, floodings, overwhelm, and renewed life.

What can be birthed now?

What eggs might hold promise, possibility?

Every spring you remembered all that had happened with your Beloved . . .

How he had participated, both willingly and reluctantly,

pleading that this cup be taken away,

yet following through on his life’s integrity with persevering peace and dignity.

You were there, faithful, like his mother, when he was murdered,

both of you forever changed by those events, that horror, then such prodigious hope.

His mother moved afterward to Ephesus, living near the ancient temple of the goddess.

You went further, to a new land, a new life

Chewing on, swallowing deeply, fully digesting all that had happened.

And it did bring such life, such joy, such radiance.

Teach me, dear Mary, you, the Magdalene.  Teach me.

Hello dear friend,

Happy full moon, here in the Easter season.  In the past week I have seen spring return; on Sunday I went into my study and noticed the size of the fledgling leaves on the caragana bush outside my window.  By the time I went back upstairs at the end of the day (after painting the entire afternoon —- mmmmm!) the leaves on that bush had grown to twice their morning size!  All around I’m surrounded by green leaves exploding into view.  And I’m grateful.

This year while pondering the Easter/Resurrection/Spring/Renewal of Life story, I’ve been thinking about Mary Magdalene.  I’m not all caught up on the legends of her life after the Gospel stories, except to know that there are a lot of them, and almost none are historically verified.  Yet these legends also speak, at the least, of a psychological truth that certainly resonates in the hearts of so many of us.  One of the legends is that she travelled to the south of France and lived in a cave for the last thirty years of her life.  As “Apostle to the Apostles”, she continued to teach and lead others in their spiritual lives, for the rest of her life.  I decided to explore this in image and word.

I started with using colors that I don’t usually put together, pinkish red and golden yellow.  After writing my intention of being open to what I might learn from Mary Magdalene’s story (underneath the first layer of color), I storyboarded some of her legends and meanings to me on the right side:


Without thinking too much, I followed the brush:


Her cave, and an egg appeared.  Then more yellow connected her in time and across dimensions to now (welcome to my painting corner!):20170416_162434

Finally she appeared, along with these pods.  They seemed full of treasure to me, though I’ve never painted anything like this before:


Here she is with her shimmering golden pods of possibility, already in red



After a few more days of sitting with her, the words of her poem came together. (It’s the one at the beginning of this blogpost.)

What is this Spring budding for you?  What new energies, possibilities are emerging?

With much love,


Dream Lands in a Time-In World

.Watercolor Map Mar.17

“Map of my Dream Land” Cat Charissage (c) 2017 watercolor crayons and sharpie marker

Dear Friends,

Where would you go if you could go anywhere in your dreams?  My spot is that little group of squiggles on the lower right of the map I painted in my journal (above).  I imagine that its tip accesses a still, reflecting lake.  There is no propaganda, no chemical weapons, not even any handguns.

Happy Full Moon in this month of April, in this Holy Week midway between the start of Passover and the feast of Easter, between the promise of deliverance from slavery and the assurance that death isn’t the end of the story!  This week is full of narratives of remembrance and hope.

I want to share two books with you that will warm your heart in the midst of whatever darkness we live in:  My Grandfather’s Blessings:  Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging, by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., and Time-In Parenting, by Otto Weininger, Ph.D.  Both books have been around for awhile, and both have impressed me deeply.

My Grandfather’s Blessings is simply full of love, written by a physician who counsels people with life-threatening illnesses who witnesses to how life reveals its wisdom, perseverance, and surprises.  Her dedication is “For everyone who has been given more blessings than they have received.”  She shows us how to see what is offered, and to choose to receive those blessings —- even when there isn’t any miraculous cure.  It is full of truth, healing, and wonder.

Time-In Parenting is a small book for parents of young children who are looking for ways to deal toddler tantrums and other deep upsets.  Weininger takes a different approach to that of the common one of time-outs, one minute for each year of how old the child is.  The book came out after my own son had passed through those difficult years before a child is able to use words to express their pain, anger, frustration, so it didn’t seem particularly needed by me.  Yet those years had challenged me deeply.  My son had experienced the (one) time-out I had meted out in response to inappropriate behavior as a banishment from those whom he relied on for love and survival.  As I left him on the bottom step of the staircase and went back to the kitchen, even though I was still within eyesight, this little 3 year old went from the hysteria of an angry tantrum to the hysteria of a deeply experienced abandonment and exile.   I knew at that moment that he didn’t need to be put away,  he needed to be WITH someone who loved him dearly who could teach him through example how to calm down.   I went to sit with him and hold him then, and from then on when emotions escalated to “tantrum”, that’s what we did:  I, or his dad, would sit with him, away from the situation, with love and calmness modeling self control and love for an upset self.    Weininger’s book, years later, described this approach with all the good reasons as to why this “time-in parenting” is a good response to little people.  That book, full of love as My Grandfather’s Blessings is, helped me trust my best self, and helped me be so grateful that I had not responded to my little boy with anger, violence, or even a banishment.  It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

So, my dear friends, let’s be with our own upset selves with love and patience.  Maybe take some time-in during these holy-days with a book full of love, or create a map of your own dream land.  Let us imagine a time-in world where pain, anger, frustration can be calmed with love, and then model that self-control and patience around us.  Just maybe we can create our dream lands right here in this dear world of ours.

With much love,


Playing in Intentional Creativity


craft paint on watercolor paper (c) Cat Charissage, 2017

New moon greetings to you, dear friend!

Intentional Creativity isn’t focused on creating artistic masterpieces (good to know, as my piece here is anything but!), but rather on identifying and transforming an idea or story within us so that it is held differently in us.   We are then more free to move in our everyday lives without being controlled by the stories we have unconsciously taken in about who we are and what we can do.  Or what we’re allowed to do.

On Friday my painting teacher Shiloh Sophia (www.powercreatives.com) offered a livestream on Herstory, and this is what I playfully created.  I share it with you to emphasize that the kind of art I do, that is, Intentional Creativity, is not reserved only for the gifted and talented.  Just as all of us can write an email or journal passage that expresses our thoughts,  without needing the skills and gifts  of those who are exquisite artists of the written word, well, all of us can use simple art processes to express and work through our thoughts and questions, without needing the skills and gifts of those who are exquisite visual artists.  Using simple art supplies such as craft paint or watercolor, colored pencils or markers can be just as much in our expressive repertoire as typing marks into a computer or printing black letters onto a white page.

Shiloh led us in first writing an aspect of our life story, how we are in the world, and then painting an image that expressed how that sits in our body.  I made a grid form, as what I wrote about felt limiting while at the same time allowing me to see out, to see through things, to see how I wanted to be.

I.C. Herstory 1

I then painted little spirals in each of the openings showing how I wanted those openings to simultaneously both deepen and expand my vision.  Then when we were invited to make a mark symbolizing our freedom to modify or create a new story, I painted my bird of freedom, along with moving, expanding spirals OUTSIDE of the grid.

I.C. Herstory 3

I wrote a statement of the shifted story onto the bird of freedom,  and added the signs of growth and expansion.  While painting the greenery  (I first wrote “greenergy”, green energy, which is certainly how I experienced it!), I was thinking of chickweed, that weed that grows almost anywhere — especially in the cracks of our driveway.  It’s so common, yet cheerily beautiful.  Most house-proud owners diligently poison this “weed”, yet it makes a wonderful, nutritious salad.


There are many plants, ideas, and people who have so much to offer us in our life’s journey of love and meaning, yet the overculture sees these as of no value, or even worse, as polluting the landscape.  There are forces, enacted in real live ordinary people with names, who mindlessly, and mindfully, destroy that which could otherwise nourish us.

Well, I stand for something different.  I stand for the weeds that nourish, the spacious carved-out times that tease out meaning, the simple art that shifts vision.

What’s your bird’s eye view today?

With much love,


From Mindfulness to Heartfulness


—Mandala, gel pens on paper, (c) Cat Charissage, 2017

Hello dear friends,

Early last week I was able to take 2 full days away at a local retreat center for a silent, private retreat.  I read and slept and centered and just sat.  Listening.  It was great; I only wish it could have been a week or two longer!

I was very glad to return to my guys, though, too.  (That is, spouse and young adult son)  As I write you it’s still February, a new moon, and I feel very much in the energy of not knowing what’s coming next, but feeling something . . . .  How about you at this time of year?  I’m still crafting a life I would love to live, finding the balance between activity and contemplation, between what I’d like to do  and what’s even possible, between not getting any sleep and sleeping in, figuring out what’s in my control and what isn’t.

I spent the first half of my life finding out, it seems, that so much more was possible and in my control than I had ever imagined; now it seems that I’m well acquainted with fate, chance, destiny, and a fair amount of chaos — somehow it’s a perfect analog to how I knew so much more 30 years ago than I do at this age!  Building, letting go.  Building again, visited by the unexpected.

I’ve included the poem I wrote at the end of the retreat.  I hope that you, too,  are able to settle in to heartfulness.

With much love,


FROM MINDFULNESS TO HEARTFULNESS       —Cat Charissage, February 2017

Today I return home from a silent retreat.

Silence.  In an 8′ x 10′ room with comfy chair

and not so comfy bed;

meals prepared by the sisters of St. Martha,

otherwise I’m lovingly, prayerfully, ignored.


Maybe this can all be reduced to a shift in brainwaves

from beta to somewhere between alpha and theta.

Maybe; and, it feels exquisite.

A quality of quiet different from most days,

most akin to a middle of the night quiet

when all is well in the world.


All, of course, is not well in our world

Yet at the same time there is a place where

     all is well

     and all shall be well

     and all manner of thing shall be well

as Julian of Norwich told us from plague-ridden England.


I want to live there, here, in this state:

     quiet, alert, alive

     open, receptive, listening

I am not lonely, but part of;

Happy in my heart and ready to respond.


My scalp muscles have unclenched.

I hadn’t noticed that they’d been tight.

My inner organs relax, rest.

Blood flows easily, freely, throughout.


Words come, go.


I could live like this. . .

I want to live like this,

     ease, grace, flow . . .


Here I am.

Here I belong

happily in the mystery of all,

that Mystery whose center is everywhere,

     circumference, nowhere.


Another node of consciousness in the All,

I am grateful.         


—watercolor and crayon on sketch paper, (c) Cat Charissage, 2017