It’s become an annual tradition for me to reflect back over the past year before launching into the next one. I enjoy looking back to see how the events and experiences that occurred through year fit into the bigger story of my life.
What are your highlights from this past year? What memories do you want to hold onto? I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my top 10 highlights or 2019. I’d love to hear about yours, too!
Connecting With You Through Art
Art is always a source of joy for me and I spend lots of time creating alone in The Down to Earth Studio. But bringing people together to create art and SoulCollage(r) in community and witnessing the unfolding of your personal creativity makes my heart dance. It’s what I do! It’s why I call myself an Art Doula. Thank you for coming to my workshops and gatherings this past year. I truly believe we make the world a better place by creating art and SoulCollage(r), especially when we do it together!
Kintsugi Bowl Breaking and Mending Workshops (A tribute to Tammy)
In January I worked with Tammy Morley Jamieson to plan a series of Kintsugi workshops we would co-facilitate together in 2019. Tammy hand-built 60 ceramic bowls for these ceremonies — all made with loving care. Then, she unexpectedly experienced some heart problems and had to opt out of facilitating, but I used her beautiful bowls for the workshop anyway. Tammy transitioned from her body back to Spirit just a few weeks ago. Future Kintsugi ceremonies will be ongoing reminders of her vibrant loving nature. I plan to continue facilitating these powerful gatherings in 2020 and will think of Tammy every time. Rest in Peace Dear One.
Connecting to Spirit
Over this last year I was honored to participate in two sacred ceremonies facilitated by a Shamanic guide.These powerful experiences expanded my vision of the spirituality of the natural world and my place in it. Crouched in a rainy Doug Fir forest, I stepped into a river of grief that runs just under the surface of life, and was held there by the Grandmother. She invited me to stay close to my broken heart, let it guide and nurture me. I felt affirmed, inspired, uplifted, and ready to expand my Kintsugi breaking and mending work in 2020.
Vision Questing in the Inyo National Forest
Questing is one of my highlights every year, and 2019 was no exception. I fasted and prayed in the company of hawks, coyote, deer, owls, obsidian and old growth Jeffrey Pines. This beautiful group of human beings, my questing sisters, held me close, listened to my stories, and celebrated my art. Thank you my beloved questing sisters! Thank you Mother Nature for your never-ending love and support.
And while I’m on the subject of sisters, one of my highlights of 2019 is the various women’s groups who support and encourage me to be bold and live life more fully. These women are the wind beneath my wings. We witness one another’s stories with compassion and curiosity. I am grateful to share the planet with extraordinary beings such as these, and feel lucky that our paths crossed in this lifetime.
Wild Hearts Circle in Ashland, Journal Writing Circle Sisters, Skyline Writers Support and Critique Group, PNW SoulCollage® Facilitator Gatherings,The Elder Council with Naomi Kahn, and the Blackbird Studio for Writers in Portland. Deep gratitude to all of you.
I am so inspired by this young lady and her courage and commitment. She inspired the youth of our country to protest and declare their concerns about the climate crisis and has become an icon in the climate change movement. She brought me to tears with her words to world leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. How dare you.” Thank you Greta. You make me want to be a better earthling.
99th Birthday Celebration
In April my mom, Dodie Hamilton Brandon, celebrated her 99th birthday. Last spring we moved Dodie in with my sister in Northern California and it’s a huge relief to know she is with family and being well taken care of. I’m grateful. We’re already planning mom’s 100th birthday party.
Vacation Time With Family
Five generations of our family are alive right now. Amazing, right? This summer I had the pleasure of spending time with my oldest granddaughter, Megan Schweitzer, and her beautiful family: husband Jack, son Jack, and daughters, Nora and Caroline. I traveled to their home in Maryland, then we flew up to Maine where we met up with my daughter, Susie, and her family at a cottage on the Atlantic seashore. We hiked, played on the beach, kayaked, mushroom hunted, ate, drank and made merry. I had a blast with the family.
Solstice Soul Renewal at Breitenbush Hot Springs
I feel so fortunate to be able to offer workshops at Breitenbush. This last June was my fifth year facilitating the Solstice Soul Renewal retreat. The magical combination of old growth forest, scrumptious vegetarian meals, natural mineral hot springs, SoulCollage(r), and a community of kindred spirits makes this an epic experience.
Growing My Book
I feel great about the progress I’ve made on my book this year. But I never knew writing a book would be so enlightening, or take so long. Writing about my vision quest stories has inspired me to go deeper into my questing experiences and insights and relive my time out on the land, which has been wonderful. I’ll be excited to share these stories with you when the book is finally finished. 2020? Maybe. When friends and family ask about my book, I say, “Well, it’s one thing to try to write a book; it’s quite another thing to try to write a good book.” Time will tell. I’ll say this, I’m sure giving it my best shot.
How about you? Here are some questions to get you started on your top 10 highlights for 2019.
What happened in 2019?
What surprised and delighted you?
What were your biggest challenges this year?
How were you changed or transformed?
What was your most significant lesson this year?
Happy New Year My Dears. May 2020 be a year of growth and enlightenment for all of us.
Nine beautiful souls came together in the Down to Earth Studio yesterday for a deep celebration of “Kintsugi – Breaking and Mending – Where Grief, Gratitude and Beauty Coexist.” I so love facilitating this ceremony. The energy of this gathering was palpable – each woman sharing her story, her love, her broken heart – and, you could feel the healing taking place as the bowls were broken and mended with gold.
When Spirit called me to start offering breaking and mending workshops I didn’t realize how meaningful this ceremony would be for participants and for myself. I was told by my guides that, if I could find the courage to bring people together in this way and help hearts open to grief, gratitude and beauty, I would be supported by unseen powerful energies. It has proven true – each workshop gets deeper and deeper with more laughter, more tears, more a feeling of belonging to this world.
We are all on this journey together, all the pain and all the joy. Let’s come together, hear our stories, and support one another along the way. A-ho! Blessed be! Sat Nam! and Amen!
It was August of 2005, and I was on my second vision quest. I sat in the shade of a old juniper tree in the Inyo Wilderness, across from my vision quest guide, Anne. “I don’t know why I’ve been crying ever since I got here,” I said. “I’m usually a really happy person and there’s nothing I can think of to be so sad about.” More
It’s spring and green shoots are breaking through the muddy ground and moving toward the light. New growth is everywhere. Last Saturday in the Down to Earth Studio we did our own version of breaking and emerging to let the light shine in.
Eleven of us gathered around the table in the studio…read more here
At the September SoulCollage® gatherings in The Down to Earth Studio, we took the concept of Kintsugi, finding beauty in broken things (What is Kintsugi?), and applied it to SoulCollage®. The results were stunning, both visually and in the way it opened up our hearts and souls for deeper connection with one another. It still brings tears to my eyes when I reflect on what we shared together.
I took a chance with this idea of Kintsugi for SoulCollage®, not at all sure whether it would work. I was soon reassured by the openness and willingness of the 17 women who came together for this unique experience. It was a gentle reminder to trust my instincts. Thank you, beautiful spirits, for making last
Friday a memorable day. Here are some photos of the cards we made, tore apart, and mended with gold.