— (c) Cat Charissage, 2016 “She is a Tree of Life”
Much ink has been spilled in the attempt to come to terms with the results of the election in the U.S.A. Here, on this full moon, I want to direct your attention to two pieces of wonderful writing, today’s post from Dr. Estes, and this article by Toni Morrison written back in 2004 after the election of George W.
Do not doubt that we ARE made for these times. We know how to stand like the weeping willow tree, fully grounded, in the midst of the storm. Our branches may sway and whip, but because we’re both flexible and grounded, we stay strong. And survive. And we will witness to beauty day after day after day. We are there for others to lean on, and we consciously and strategically choose what next to do with our oh so limited time, energy, and resources.
I think of the lines from Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” and “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” They help remind me, in a time when creativity, art, and writing seem almost frivolous, that NOW is the time to be focused, conscious, and to open ourselves to the newness that comes when creativity is united with critical thinking.
Carry on, my friend, in holding to justice and kindness. Use your creativity and critical thinking to be the change we want and need. Do not get distracted from the possibilities to create not just art, but the life we long to live — with liberty and justice for all.
Standing with you with much love,
— work in progress, (c) Cat Charissage, 2016
This work in progress is a first step in my using Intentional Creativity to work through a significant life challenge of mine: How do I create a sustainable and joyful way to live, a way that will allow me to have the best health possible, to have deep and meaningful connections with my beloveds, will allow me to explore the depth dimensions as much as I want, and create a rhythm so that I’m creating more of what I feel called to create in writing and painting?
The painting connects the visions of my heart with the necessary (but as yet unknown) strategies of the mind that will help me choose out of the possibilities available to me that which will support me in a contemplative and whole life, while contributing by sharing compassion, skills, and whatever wisdom comes through me. There’s also something important in there about opening my voice in a greater way. We’ll see how it progresses.
Uh, you too? Oh, I’m not presuming you have the exact challenges or the same goals. But there’s this seeming never ending discernment of how to best use our time and attention to live the life we long to live, isn’t there? There’s always so many more interesting and often very important matters than there is time in the day to give proper attention to. So many needs and cries for justice in our world to lend our voices and time to!
Well, towards that end, I have two ANNOUNCEMENTS:
- I’ve a new offering: ONLINE INDIVIDUAL SESSIONS in Intentional Creativity and Soulwork. This is really exciting for me, and I’ve thought carefully about what I can offer online with my full integrity. Please consider referring my services to your friends if you think I can be of help. For all the details, go to my page Work with me Individually.
- My online presence on Facebook and FB groups will be curtailed, just to keep what little discretionary time I do have available to invest in my highest priorities. There are so many people in my life that I deeply treasure, and remember regularly with love and all good intention. At the same time, most of you know that I rarely read my FB Timeline, and am not caught up with many of the groups I’m a member of. And I’m feeling the need to cut back even more. (So remember, if something significant in your life occurs and it’s posted on FB and you don’t hear from me — it’s not that I don’t care about you, but it’s because I simply will have missed it!) However, I do respond as soon as possible to any private messages on FB or to personal emails.
With much love at this New Moon and entrance into the “thin spaces” of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere,
(c) Cat Charissage, 2016, acrylic on canvas
Bodhisattva Between the Worlds
Here I am.
I arose from this.
I belong here.
Here, now, within and between the worlds
of ordinary and non-ordinary reality,
I am prism
allowing Light to come in, flow through,
become just what is needed in this needful world.
I live . . . . differently, now,
building on what came before, organically,
revisiting pattern, expanding with an aerial view.
No more pushing rivers that flow anyway.
I am flow. I am vibration.
I live in the spaciousness of All of reality.
With the gift of Light and color
I know radiance, and bring it into darkness.
To see All the Mystery, to share flow,
here I am.
HERE I am.
Hello dear friend,
As we move more steadily into fall (where I live), and on this Full Moon energy, I want to invite you to dream and ponder a bit today if you can.
This painting resulted from a lot of dreaming and pondering, especially about the kind of life I want to and need to live, so as to live as expansively and creatively as possible within the realities of this life, here, now. I was accompanied in this pondering by the most recent class I took with my painting teacher, Shiloh Sophia and her husband Jonathan Lewis, called Prism Leadership Lab. It sought to apply principles of quantum physics to leadership, by means of painting.
I loved experimenting in a different style than my usual, and hope to do more like this. Here are some of the “in process photos”. There were many stages and much writing in each stage. I had no idea what the finished painting would look like; I just kept painting the next stroke, adding the next idea.
With much love,
— WIP, Cat Charissage (c) 2016
Happy new moon in this beautiful month of October. I’m more fatigued than usual right now, but also very happy. In mid September I was privileged to again attend a training with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes in her Original Voice series entitled “Getting Unstuck: Journey through Hell to the Hidden Heart”. Here’s part of her description of it:
“As I say to you often, as some of my family members used to say with uncanny vision: “Be the first, the last, and the only.” I’d add, this is not a harsh striving; it is a natural condition. Except for being barred from one’s own richness, by various self imposed and external injunctions.
“However, those can be removed and replaced with far better instruction about the nature of the true self, and one creative force, which is the animating force of one’s entire life. In other words, the overculture causes far too often that people become stuck instead of progressing. Shy instead of shining. Embarrassed instead of energized. Fallow instead of fearless.
“I mean to show the ways to break free, for to remain painfully glued in, unable to move toward the bountiful nature each soul was born in and with, and wanly plucking at the curtains instead, whilst other surge ahead– is a way to feel sick, paltry, unable, and tied in knots. Such souls so sincerely want to be free to move forward, to try many things, to blossom, to create fully. But often are stymied in the exact how to, the steps needed to break free, to unleash no matter what/who/how/when/where.
“Using the hidden instructions for freeing oneself from the nine circles of capture in Dante’s writing about an underground infierno, translated as ‘hell’, this Original Voice® training teaches how to free oneself for life, teaches the exact steps to be unfettered, to jailbreak the prison. Your part is to practice faithfully. Mine is to impart the field guide.
“This I shall do. I hope you will join us…I’ve remedios for ‘can’t’ and it isn’t merely ‘can.’ It is ‘will.’ Focused vortex of will. You’ll see. We’ll see. Together.”
It’s not everyday that you can go to hell and back with a beloved teacher as guide. . . It was an adventure, an ordeal, a challenge . . . . and I came back with a virulent cold! Still, very much worth it.
Since then I’ve been recovering from the cold, and beginning Story Circles. I’m launching my offerings to do Red Thread Sessions individually online (stay tuned for a more formal announcement), and celebrating birthdays.
My 60th birthday was on September 29. I alternate between feeling like an elder, a crone, an old lady, a survivor, and entirely too young to be what I used to think of as a “woman of sixty”. Other birthdays have been my son’s, my sister in law’s, and my mother in law’s.
My son Liberty created an unusual birthday card for me. It’s a certificate, with writing on both sides. It’s an invitation to choose how I want to look at myself at this age. On one side it says ” 60 years. Dear Mom, you’re getting old, you’ve spent 60 horrible years in this terrible world, you are going to die one day. Your parents are dead, your father wasn’t nice, you aren’t happy all the time and you argue with your husband. You have many painful illnesses and your son is angry a lot. Happy birthday!”
On the other side he wrote “60 years. Dear Mom, you have lived a long life, you have a nice home, lots of friends, a loving husband that you’ve been with for many years. You help many people. You have a kid who makes people laugh at the U. of L. You have lived through some tough stuff and come out of it better. You are happy, very happy most of the time. You’ve got this! Happy birthday!”
Yes, both are true, and there’s only one I’m going to dwell on.
Thank you for being one of my “lots of friends”.
With much love,
Hello dear friend,
At this dark moon night, I’ve finished my painting and my writing to go with it, and wanted to share it with you. Thank you so for witnessing me. I feel your kind thoughts, and always appreciate your comments.
(c)2016, Cat Charissage. Acrylic on canvas
Following the violet light from the wound
The topic wasn’t grabbing me.
I’d gathered with other women one afternoon to paint on the topic of “Fearlessness!”
Wasn’t grabbing me.
Then . . . I listened to the niggly thoughts and barely felt awareness
that had spread like miasma through my days:
“Maybe it doesn’t matter, any of it.
Maybe I really don’t have anything of real value to offer or teach.
Besides, why would anyone want to hear it anyway from an achy old woman who never lived up to her potential to do anything important?”
(Okay, okay, I know I’m not THAT old. But it’s only a matter of time, you know . . .)
“Maybe there’s nothing to learn, nothing to offer from a life of low level unrelenting struggle — psychological woundings, vicarious trauma, chronic pain.”
Well, anytime fear comes round, I’ve found that shame isn’t too far behind.
“After all, things must be somebody’s fault, right?” (Wrong, but. . . )
And it’s most convenient and least societally disruptive to blame myself;
“I’m courageous, I can take the truth,” says the martyr within.
In my life self-blame has been so effectively fueled by the underside of
new age healing commandments, and
just enough societal privilege to make me think I’m in control of my life.
Self-blame fueled by half-truths, quarter-truths, and outright lies.
By this time I didn’t want to paint anything.
I didn’t want to do anything
except maybe get a Dairy Queen Blizzard
to freeze out this afternoon that wasn’t going anywhere fast.
I picked up the paintbrush anyway. (“Whatever. . . “)
I painted a portal through which something fearless could emerge. (“Yeah, right.”)
Around the portal I painted my life, my specific conditions of existence.
I painted my church, my family, suburbia — the quicksand that had almost drowned me.
I painted my searching for wisdom, my openings to a larger world,
my finding love and colleagues broken and complex in a broken and complex world.
I painted my second adult life, dis-ease and disease,
my circles, my art, my Golden Cup.
I painted space for surprises, too.
Then two women emerged.
One, me, wondering.
The other. . . I don’t know.
Just there; I’m not alone.
And the wound . . . broken heart broken open giving heart.
The woman wondered,
and saw by the light from the wound.
Encouragement — to give heart
Freeing what can be freed
Soothing what can be healed, with truth.
The methodology of making lemonade:
What can be added to the lemons, the always sour lemons,
to bring refreshment,
to quench thirst?
Oh, we are so thirsty!
What sweetness is needed?
Beauty, kindness, truth, compassion.
What if what’s already been done, what is now being done,
is enough, is plenty?
What if THIS changes lives:
beauty, kindness, truth, compassion?
Beauty, kindness, truth, compassion.
(c) 2015 Cat Charissage
I’m in the process of learning how to extend my reach further than my geographical locale here in Southern Alberta, looking specifically at conducting individual sessions by video call. While that is in process, I wanted to share SOME of my plans for the coming academic year.
The Soul’s Lost and Found
—Cat Charissage, July 2016
“Mommy, I found you!!!
“I lost you!
“I looked there,
and there — but I couldn’t find you!
“I lost you!”
My son, at two, was just learning to talk.
Those were some of his first sentences.
I never took him back to daycare, and he hasn’t lost me since.
I, too, know what it is to look
You were lost, and I yearned for you,
for it to be like before.
I thought I might die, looking.
Then I wanted to die, if I could never find you.
Every day grey.
Had I made you up?
If you’d never been, why did I long for you so?
I kept finding places where you’d been,
but now you were gone.
I searched the stories,
I searched in other people’s lives.
Even when they said “There! See?”
I couldn’t find you.
Gone, forever? Never been?
Walking the hills, the sun and wind pushing me forward
I dug and dug into the earth, my earth.
Found not just dirt, but soil. And life!
Critters and worms and roots of small plants,
taking my garbage and making compost.
Down there, I found you.
I found me.
Asleep? Yes, dreaming our new world,
the earth my body, my history turned to gold.
Swirling life, making treasure,
giving treasure all the time I thought you were lost.
Who are you, oh Mystery? And who am I?
Who are we?
Making meaning, making soul.
Hello dear friend,
What is beginning in your beautiful life at this new moon? For me, as I processed what I had taken in during my training in June with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, I realized how deeply frustrated I am that I cannot easily speak clearly about that which is most important to me, about that which is the core of my life: my search for and relationship with Great Mystery. Sometimes painting and poetry are the only way to approach anything like an accurate communication with others.
As many of you know, many years ago I had a strong faith as a Roman Catholic. Suffice it to say that as I learned more, my faith changed deeply, and for many many years I felt both deep loss and anguish with discovering more about so much unmerited suffering of so many in this world and throughout time. In the past 5 years or so the anguish has lifted; now I know how much I don’t know about “life, the universe, and everything”. At the same time I commit to living out of as much compassion as I’m able to, and to an ongoing curiosity and study of all the ways that humans have made meaning throughout time. And so I talk of soul, and mystery, and love, and life, and solidarity, and compassion.
This painting started out without any words or clear ideas. I loved the idea of a woman of the earth, in the earth, of Gaia, of underground treasure.
As I continued to paint I followed an intuition here, a color there. I adhered crumpled tissue paper to the entire surface (and forgot to take a photo of that step). For me it illustrated that life rarely goes smoothly. The Buddhists’ first Noble Truth is that All is Suffering, which actually translates more accurately as “Everything is sort of messed up; life doesn’t fit; it’s all out of sorts.”
Yet I’d just been at a training entitled “The Heart of the Wounded Healer”, and I realize how it is also possible for humans to develop increased compassion and sensitivity, and including other gifts, if there are enough inner and outer resources as well as the deep challenges present. My physical body is often in pain, and the wrinkled surface of the tissue paper expresses this well. And somehow, I have accepted this life I have, and somehow, the wounds can also be accepted as potential gold if they are portals to new worlds and understandings. This is when I added the gold into the woman’s body, and spirals of energy into the sky and sun. I also added my everyday self as the tiny figure, searching for soul.
As the poem began to form, I added spirals of energy into her large body, and formed the hills to look a little more like the coulees here in southern Alberta. There is much more to say, but that is enough for now. Here again is the final painting:
Thank you for witnessing and hearing the story,
With much love,
Before this day is over I wanted to remind you all to look outside tonight and see the beautiful full moon. What in your life is full to bursting, and is now ready to let go, start to take a rest, start to diminish and move into a more quiescent state?
I wish you could come to my study here and have some tea with me as we sit and talk about some happy d & r’s (deep and real things, that is). Winter “House’s Choice” is Bengal Spice, summer’s is iced Lemon Zinger or Sweet Orange Spice. Since this photo was taken I’ve gotten a few more comfortable chairs — if you want, you can sit in the lazyboy chair (just out of sight here).
There are many very serious and frightening things going on in the world these days. Do not let yourself become disheartened and depleted, especially with too much media watching. Figure out clearly what is within your reach to help and encourage. Know where your own circle of influence is, and work within that. Discern when you need to really understand all the details available, and when reading just the headlines will do. Don’t wear yourself out on things you cannot immediately do anything about, but DO take care of yourself so that when you CAN do something that is helpful, you are ready, well-nourished, rested and strong enough to do whatever is needed.
Just now, take three deep breaths. Find your strength within. Consult your inner wisdom. Now go forth.
And when it’s time to take a breather, come on over and have some tea with me. It will be wonderful to talk with you.
With much love,
(c) 2016 Cat Charissage
My latest painting is not yet named. She is full of beauty, peace, and contained power. Below are some of the stages in the journey. Writing will come later for this painting.
It’s a quiet time for me, resting, pondering the world, pondering my own life, pondering where I can most be of help.
I’ve started an 8-week course, The MBSR On-line Course, the mindfulness-based stress reduction program based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli out of the Univ. of Massachusetts Medical School. I’ve dipped into this program many times over the years, and do already have a long-term meditation practice. I decided to do the course formally to see how it might help me manage the chronic pain, sleep better, and let go of the constant feeling I have of “having so much to do!” I’m in week two, and it really takes a dedicated commitment of an hour’s practice every day — an hour that I need to carve out of the every day that already seems too short! But I think it’s helpful.
How is your summer going? Are you resting? Vacationing? Are you happy? Is your life full of people, activities, and things which bring peace, justice, happiness to your world? I hope so.
With much love on a day filled with electrified air ready to call forth a fierce thunderstorm,