Wednesday, September 30, 2009

SharedBliss: Expressive Silky Hart


Silky is a role model for me right now, as I transition in my life back to "dancer." She has figured out -- or so it seems from the outside -- how to integrate all of her creative parts and share them with others.

I admire her, and if you've not had the privilege of meeting her yet, I think you will too.

Silky Hart is an expressive arts goddess who relishes in empowering and inspiring people to realize their creative dreams. For more than 15 years, Silky has passionately led workshops, classes and retreats in creative expression. She has also led expressive arts sessions in a wide variety of settings including psychiatric hospitals, schools, shelters, treatment centers and healthcare facilities. Silky is a Certified Expressive Arts Therapist with a BFA in Modern Dance and an MBA in International Business. Next April, she is co-leading a yoga and expressive arts retreat to Costa Rica. Recently, she started a blog called Expressive Hart. Silky believes in the transformative power of the arts and creative expression to restore, expand and transform physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. She lives with her husband, three cats and dog in the historical section of McKinney, Texas.

Oh, how I would love to go to Costa Rica, but Lilly Cat and Marcy say I am booked for the next year already!

Describe the components of your Bliss Path: the things/activities/structures that help you to be brave and choose bliss every day?

Starting off my day with what I call my Quiet Time has been part of my life ever since I can remember. Over the years, what I do during this precious time has varied. However, the essence of what I’ve done is the same, which is connecting with Spirit. On those days when I begin with a way to center myself, such as breathing, doing yoga, meditating, or reading something inspirational, those days flow especially well. The mind chatter seems to float away. I’m a very kinesthetic person, so going on a morning walk is an excellent way for me to line up my energy for the day as well.

I also do a process where on one side of the paper I write out what I intend to do that day, what I can realistically accomplish. Then, on the other side of the paper, I write out all the other things for the Universe to handle. I find this frees up so much energy and gives me a sense of relief that all is truly being taken care of.


I began an intuitive painting class a few weeks ago. Last week, the teacher discussed how she was going to make visual journaling part of her morning practice. I like this idea and plan on starting this soon – yet another evolution of my morning ritual.

Throughout the day, I check in with myself to see how I’m feeling and where my vibration is. If something is bothering me, I take a few deep breaths and center myself. I deliberately reach for a thought and feeling that feels a little bit better. In just a few minutes, I can shift the direction of what may have been a downward spiral into an upward spiral. These are some of my “bliss tools.”

My husband, Tom, is a key component to enjoying blissful days. He absolutely loves an
d adores me. Every morning, we have coffee together, and it is such a sweet time. Having a partner whom you completely love, and have so much fun with, is bliss.


In choosing to live a bliss-filled life, what sacrifices or choices have you had to make that have been particularly difficult? Are there sacrifices or choices coming up in the near future?

When I’ve made choices that didn’t honor my intuition or very clear knowing in order to gain the approval of others, I’ve found that is too high of a price to pay. Nothing is worth sacrificing my own happiness for the sake of others. I can’t stand on my head in enough different ways to please others. And, if someone needs for me to be a certain way in order to be happy, then that isn’t healthy or would hardly be viewed as unconditional love.

There have been times when I followed my own heart (i.e., majoring in dance even though my Dad strongly opposed it at the time) and times when I didn’t (i.e., going to paralegal school for a marketable skill rather than traipsing off Europe to be an au pair). Somewhere along the way, I made a decision within myself to always honor my intuition and what makes my heart sing, even if others may disapprove. If you aren’t true to yourself, then how can you truly be blissful?



Describe your ideal, bliss-filled day?

I love to travel so a bliss-filled day would involve going to a foreign culture and being delighted by experiencing new cuisine, art, music, dance, customs and the landscape of the land. For me, one of the gifts of traveling is that I find I’m so much more in the present moment, absorbing the freshness of getting out of my typical routine.

Another superb day would be to go to brunch with dear friends, then go to a museum and a movie (especially on a rainy day), then go walking through a beautiful park or stroll by the ocean.

Another configuration would be partaking in a day of dancing, art-making, writing – diving deep into my creative process or guiding others in playing with their creative spirit. Gosh, there are so many experiences that are blissful – days and days of bliss!




Do you have a daily spiritual practice that gives you the strength to live your own path?

As I mentioned above, taking time each morning to consciously connect with Spirit or Source is part of my daily practice. My spiritual journey has encountered many paths up the mountain, and I appreciate all of them. For even contrast serves me well, it gives me clarity on what I want. We are all spiritual beings so I think it essentially becomes a question of how connected or disconnected I feel to the divine part of myself and to Spirit. When I feel love and appreciation, I feel connected. When I discover life from a state of joy and bliss, I feel connected.

How does your relationship to your body affect your bliss?

My relationship with my body is vital to my bliss. From a holistic point of view, the body, mind, and spirit all intertwine. When I take care of my body by eating nourishing and delicious food, by moving, dancing and stretching, by breathing, then I definitely feel a good relationship with my body. By the same token, on those days when I notice I’m not as slender or toned as my once serious dance body was, it can be easy to slip into feelings of self hatred. I confess I’ve encountered that place many times. But, feeling dismayed about some extra pounds hardly puts me on the blissful path.

So, I acknowledge where I am, and what I’m feeling. Often, just feeling the feeling helps to dissipate it. I’m discovering that instead of being motivated from a place of fear or self loathing to make a change – if I tend to my vibrational alignment first, then, follow through with inspired action – the right pathway more easily appears.


Was there a specific moment (or moments) in your life when you decided to break out of the cage and fly free, as we like to say in the land of Wild Women?

Oh, there have been many! I think I’m pretty safe in assuming that most of my friends see me as a wild, creative free spirit. One significant moment that comes to mind is a major crossroads I came to around eight years ago. While I was recovering from surgery and was essentially bed-ridden for a couple of months, I read a book called “Creative Healing” by Michael Samuels and Mary Rockwood Lane. This book was an impetus for me to really examine my life and what made me happy. For most of my professional life, I had worked in marketing and PR. However, on the side I was either taking or teaching a creative expression type class or workshop. Even though my current job sounded cool -- I was the PR Director at the Dallas Theater Center -- I was not happy.

So, I decided to just go for what made my heart sing. Yep, it was more than time. As what usually happens, I sent out a beacon of both clear desire and strong belief and the Universe conspired with me. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the Theater laid off basically their entire staff just days after my surgery? It was such a relief. A friend mentioned a woman named Jane Goldberg who was going to lead a year-long expressive arts training in Santa Fe that would start in just three months. Although I didn’t know how in the world I would come up with several thousand dollars to pay the tuition, I knew I was going. And yes, I went! Jane gave me a full scholarship in exchange for being her assistant and doing some marketing for her which included organizing two trainings for her in Texas. So, it was definitely an even exchange of energy.

When I’ve had the courage to leave relationships that weren’t working even though I dearly loved the person, I felt I came deeply home to myself. Those are definitely moments of flying free. The delicious irony is that two men I had long-term relationships decided that I was THE ONE after all. By then, I was clear that neither one of them was the one. Fortunately, I’m still friends with each of them. It all works out.

What I think is alluring and magnetic, whether it is a attracting a romantic relationship, the right client or creating a circle of friends, is being your authentic self, who you REALLY are.



What gives you a sense of your Wild Woman self? What helps you to become less tame? Take risks? Put your concept of self on the line and challenge your boundaries?

As I mentioned above, when I don’t cater to the peanut gallery and just go for it, this allows me to be my Wild Woman self whether it is through creative expression or living my life by following my internal guidance.

Traveling has provided me with some wild adventures which I can’t imagine my life without. Getting out of the security of my daily structure has been most liberating for me in spreading my wings. Those visceral experiences of going beyond where I’ve been before have altered me forevermore. Not unlike the hero or heroine’s journey.


What is the Wildest Thing you have ever done? What Wild Thing would you like to do? What is your Wildest Wish?

Oh, there have been many wild things like moving to New York City after college with no job or place to live to seek my fame and fortune. I drove a U-Haul truck with another friend who was a dance major.

Once, I was the only gringa on a 36 bus hour ride to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. A collection was taken to bribe the guards at the border. There have been some very wild romantic adventures, especially in my 20s when I lived in Manhattan and when I spent a month in Italy. The gift of some of these wild escapades is clarifying who I am and what feels right to me.

My wildest blissful wish is to live in a foreign country. I also yearn to become an accomplished visual artist.


What advice would you give to women who are still trapped by fear and expectation and feelings of obligation? How would you advise that they set their Blissfully Wild selves free?

Little by little, trust your own magnificent self. Let go of approval from others. Feel how liberating and empowering it is to follow what makes your heart sing, even if you can’t immediately see how it will all unfold. Instead, focus on why you want something. Start telling a new story about how you want your life to be. Trust that the Universe will leave you breadcrumbs to find your way.

Ahhh...that last bit right there feels like it was written just for me. Thanks, Silky.

I've been waking in the middle of the night with the question "WHY?" on the tip of my tongue for weeks regarding the new paths I have been walking. I have felt so frustrated, not being able to see more than a few inches ahead.

And Silky is right. I must trust that my Heart is leading me and that is enough...for now.

How about you? Do you trust your heart enough?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lessons of Digging Deep


I've had a bit of time to think through the experience of the Creative Dig Workshop now, and the things that I come away with are all about people and perceptions.

I have often wondered how accurate our instincts and intuitions can be when trying to work with the limited and flat world of the interwebs. Can we create real relationships in this place that is not really a "place" as humans have known that concept for most of our anthropological history and development?

I come away from the Dig knowing that yes, we can, and that it is the same as the World of Flesh & Blood, meaning that we can make mistakes and also be completely surprised.

I met some amazing, amazing women this past weekend. Women with whom I felt immediately and totally comfortable. Women that I found myself pouting at when it was time to leave.

For those women, I quote Albert Schweitzer, who, I think, totally captures why I have decided to put myself out there in this more "real" way and take these risks that I have begun to take.

We wander through this life together in a semi-darkness
in which none of us can distinguish exactly the features
of her neighbor. Only from time to time, through some
experience that we have of our companions, or through
some remark that she passes, she stands for a moment
close to us, as though illuminated by a flash of lightning.
Then we see her as she really is.


It was a dark and dreary day in the Land of Cleve...


As Connie started us off...


And Andrea took them on a journey through clay...


And Connie through paint & paper
reminiscent of childhood...


And pen was place on paper to reveal new truths...


And intentions were made and met
with candles lighting our wishes
bright enough for the Universe to see.


(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed, blisschick.net, 2009)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Post Dig Doldrums


I'm sitting here at my computer in my beautiful orange writing space, candle light flickering off walls, and the wind is whipping against the house. It is Autumn, that is for certain.

Another piece of evidence regarding the time of year: the pumpkin spice latte sitting to the left of my keyboard.

I hear Lilly Cat in the hallway, crying for my attention. I have not been away from the house for more than a few hours since we brought her home last November, so this weekend was a challenge for both of us.

I would like to spend many days trying to process and integrate what happened at the Creative Dig Workshop on Saturday, but alas, I do not have that luxury as I leave this coming Saturday for Kripalu and have so many things to clean off my plate before then.

I am hoping for a week in the Berkshires that allows for contemplation and journaling besides making connections and learning.

After a big event like this -- one I've been anticipating for months, planning for, worrying about -- there is often a sense of let down, is there not? No matter how awesome it goes, it's over, ya know?

And there are always, always, always things you would have done differently.

On the other side of that coin, there are always surprises that you could never have anticipated.

It will take me a couple of weeks to figure out what I learned from this experience and where I want to take it next.

Tomorrow I will post some photos from Cleveland and write about some of those wonderful surprises.

For now, I'm taking my pumpkin spice latte to go and play with my cat.

This Chick needs some serious rest.

(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed, blisschick.net, 2009)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

MysticBliss: Wild Woman with Wings


I recently asked all of you for suggestions of Wild Women, and one that came up seemed extra appropriate, considering my word for the year is Fly: Amelia Earhart.

There is a great looking film coming out with Hilary Swank. Here's the trailer.

(Did you know the real Amelia was so photogenic?! Take a look.)

She was only the 16th American woman to get her pilot's license.

I LOVE that she refused to wear pilot's typical gear but would wear a dress or pant suit instead. Flying Fashionista!

And here are a few great quotes:

"...decide...whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying...."

"Better do a good deed near at home than go far away to burn incense."

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward."

And my personal favorite:

"The most effective way to do it, is to do it."

Sassy!

For more about her, here is the official Amelia Earhart website.

Amelia teaches us all to look our fears in the face and fly!

(Note: I'm always up for Wild Women suggestions! Just leave them in the comments or email me.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

MusicBliss: Hearing with New Ears

Today, I want to share music from someone who surprised me by being more than I had thought they were.

As a child of the 80's, I have kept Cyndi Lauper in a box labeled "frivolous," but Dr. Captain America from our writing group has always LOVED her and kept making us listen to her new stuff. I was slowly (like an Iceberg) changing my mind and then I saw this:



Watch it to the end. The arrangement is amazing and her voice -- oye! Beyond amazing! Gives me CHILLS every. single. time.

Now...think for a moment: Is there someone you have labeled in a certain way and perhaps it's really about your inability to see?

How about you? Do you do this to yourself?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nurturing Nothing Brings Everything


(This post is in response to Jamie Ridler's Book Club, The Next Chapter, where we are reading The Joy Diet by Martha Beck.)

As part of my response to my own spiritual dry spell, I instituted a daily candle sit. I don't time myself, but every day, I sit with a lit purple candle. I focus first on a letting go exercise, and then after that, I try to just listen.

I've told myself that this is a 40 day experiment, but I also told myself that we would give up our car as a one year experiment and now we are car-free for over 8 years, so we'll see how long 40 days lasts.

I've been doing the candle sit for a few days, and I can tell a difference already. I feel a bit lighter, a bit more patient. Just a bit.

Don't get me wrong -- I totally suck at sitting still and being quiet. But I also know that about two months ago, I totally sucked at doing certain exercises and now I am getting super strong thanks to persistence.

I am thinking (hoping) that the same is true with the candle sitting.

Because I agree with Martha Beck in The Joy Diet that the first ingredient of a joyful/intentional life should be a time of doing nothing every day. My favorite quote from chapter one:

Fully occupied by the process
of achieving
innumerable
goals, we lose the ability

to determine which goals
really matter, and why.


I think this is exactly why my spiritual dry spell happened: I was so occupied by achieving.

But then something changed everything: Dance. Yes. Again with the dance.

Suddenly, I was doing this essential-to-me thing every day and not knowing why.

Besides the obvious answer that it is essential to me, I want there to be more reason, more "pay off."

I wake in the middle of the night so frustrated and a bit...scared. Why am I doing what I am doing? Why am I going to all of these trainings? Where is it all taking me? What is the end goal?

All of these questions and right now, I can't answer a single one.

This is where Nothing becomes Everything.

Let yourself be silently
drawn by the stronger pull
of what you really love.

--Rumi

It is in the sitting, the being quiet and still, that eventually I know answers will start to emerge from the shadowy, dark edges. Whispers will become more discernible. Dreams long buried will take new form.

Later today, I will board a bus and head to Cleveland, where tomorrow, I will be facilitating the writing part of the Creative Dig Workshop. I don't know where this is leading me. There are many moments when I have no idea why I am doing this, why the heck I am stepping outside my comfort zone.

But like lifting weights, I am slowly strengthening different sorts of muscles that I barely knew I had, and I am learning from sitting quietly that the not knowing, the feeling blind can be a powerful place so I am willing to let go just a little bit of all the control and see what magic might come unbidden, unplanned, unspoken.

What would happen if you let go and planned for nothing?

(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed, blisschick.net, 2009)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dance Out of Your Box & Into the Real You


I admit it: I am a bit obsessed right now.

With what? Isn't it obvious?

Dance, of course, but more specifically with the work of Gabrielle Roth. Right now, I'm reading her book Sweat Your Prayers, and it feels like, to me, that I am reading some ancient lost religious text.

I'm only in the introduction, but I can't bring myself to read too fast. Have you read books like that? They're so good and feel so important that you force yourself to go slowly?

This part of the introduction, where she is writing about first starting to teach, struck me and I wanted to share it:

The more I taught, the more I realized that this was not going to be simple. Most of us were deeply afraid of the body; some people controlled every gesture they made; others abandoned themselves to food or drink or just cut themselves off and spaced out. We were big time head-trippers, drifting far way from any real self, with no idea that there was something holy and profound happening inside of us. I'd watch people moving completely expressionless to the wildest rock n' roll song...Cool is cool but frozen is another thing entirely. I wanted to put my hands on their hips and melt them down. I wanted to wake them up from their collective inertia. I wanted to rattle their bones and shake their souls.

Did you recognize yourself in there anywhere?

This makes me think of the yoga that the majority of us do and how part of the reason we love it might be how safe it makes us feel. There are these poses and we're all expected to look pretty much the same doing them. There's no risk that we'll look silly. Not really.

There's no risk that we'll look...different.

(There are some sorts of yoga out there that are trying to create more freedom in movement but they are a small minority at this point.)

We have been taught to mistrust our bodies. That much we know for sure.

We diet them into acceptable shapes. We clothe them in acceptable ways -- ways that don't threaten or challenge people's ideas of us.

We are uniformed in so many ways.

Try this: Close the curtains, get some private space, do this in the dark if you are embarrassed. Put on your favorite music from when you were 18 and dance until the sweat is streaming over your body. Dance until you forget that you are dancing.

Try this: Imagine what you would wear, do, be if you no longer felt the need to control everything, to meet others' expectations, to fit in.


(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed, blisschick.net, 2009)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WishCasting: Essentials are Not Luxuries


Jamie's wishcasting prompt for me today is difficult for many reasons. She asks:

What luxury do you wish for?

You may know from reading here that I have a bit of an AsceticChick inside of me. You know, part of me thinks I should be some sort of Monk, but the reality is that we aren't all made for that, and I am a Crow, a collector of shiny bits.

But living in a Western culture, I worry about my ability to differentiate between what is necessary and what is not, what is okay and what is too much.

So much of how we live is really Luxury: families not only have one car for themselves but usually multiples; there are people who live in enough space for a small village; we have so much rich food available that most of us are overweight.

But then so much of how we live is Poverty:

How many of you don't have the time to do the things that are essential to your well being, your sanity, your fulfillment as a human being?

How many of you feel trapped by your life?

How many of you feel stifled?

How many of you walk around afraid to feel anything because you might just explode if you start?

How many of you numb yourself with more food, more shoes, more bags, more, more, more, and justify it this way: "I work hard; I deserve this" -- thereby trapping yourself in a vicious cycle of having to work more to pay for things that you are working for?

The definition of Luxury is Inessential and Extravagant.

There is nothing Inessential and Extravagant about being true to yourself.

So my wish today is not really for myself, though I can use a bit of this some days, too. My wish today is for others:

I wish for people to recognize how they sacrifice the Essential for Material Luxury. I wish for people to become free of Material Burdens so that they might have their True Lives.


(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed, blisschick.net, 2009)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

6 Things Weight Lifting has Taught Me about Creativity & Life


Yesterday, I mentioned in my post about being 40, heading back to being a dancer, and becoming stronger than I have ever been.

Part of my weekly regimen includes three days of pretty intense arm weights. I thought that eventually I would get bored by the weights and stop. I figured they were just a way to trim my arms a bit until the dancing really trimmed my whole self.

(Note: I'm not talking that scary vein-popping kind of weight lifting! Yuck!)

But...and this totally wigs me out...it turns out that I enjoy lifting weights. I can be having a massively crap day, and the second I begrudgingly lift that first set of weights, it all changes.

Get this...I often find myself smiling after a couple of lifts and especially when I feel that first trickle of sweat. I mean, it's like there's something wrong with me! Who the hell smiles over lifting weights?!

And who would have thought that I would learn so much about life and creativity and this body in general from lifting weights? But I have. I have learned more from this stationary, supposedly vapid activity in two months than I learned from Yoga in the first year.

I have learned things in a direct, experience-it-in-my-body kind of way. There is nothing nebulous or abstract about this activity, and yet, what I have learned applies to all of life. Here I will apply it directly to my/your creative life.

1. Persistence Pays Off. You can only do two of those lifts today? Then just do two. But keep doing two, and I guarantee that next week, you will be doing four, and the following week, eight, and so on.

Extrapolation for Creative Life: Write one sentence today and another tomorrow and another the next day. Keep writing one sentence and soon you will have a book. Keep writing one sentence and someday you will go onto writing two and you won't even notice.

2. Process Leads to Product. Lifting weights three days a week gives you muscles. Period. I admit, this surprised me a bit. I didn't expect the muscles. I don't know why...

Extrapolation for Creative Life: This is not popular to say. We're supposed to be all noble and shit and say that it's the process that matters. Even though process does matter, aren't we also hoping it leads to product if we are totally honest with ourselves? I mean, we don't expect people in business to focus only on process. Why are artists expected to martyr themselves to their work and starve? No more of that. Expect muscles!

3. Breathing Properly Matters. If you breathe properly while lifting weights, you will actually feel your muscles doing more. If you reverse breathe, you will feel a bit...flaccid.

Extrapolation for Creative Life: This is about using your energy most effectively and efficiently. It's the whole "don't piss around" thing. Don't give away your energy to projects that don't build you up.

4. Proper Posture Protects You from Pain. Obvious, right? But do it wrong and you will pull something. Do it wrong and you won't be lifting for a couple of weeks.

Extrapolation for Creative Life: Again, this is about energy. We all have a million ideas but there are ideas that shine far brighter than the rest. There are also ideas that "fit" us better, that we have the skills to execute well. This is not about picking what is easy. This is about picking what is right.

5. You Can Do Way More than You Think. There is a trick I've learned in weight lifting: If I count, I stop where I thought I would. If I think, "I will do 16," then that is how many I do. But if I don't count, if I just say "1" over and over, I end up doing far more. I end up surprising myself.

On one of Ravi Singh and Ana Brett's Kundalini Yoga DVD's, he says "Do one more forever..." and I used to (yes, I am telling the truth) give him the finger when he said this. It was a tough exercise and that would just make me scowl.

Now I totally get it. I can do one more forever!

Extrapolation for Creative Life: One sentence and then another. (Yep, we're back to that.) You can always give just a tiny bit more. Your stamina will be pushed and expanded. This is also how ideas breed new ideas. If we stand still, not get creative on a regular basis, the Muse, I think, gets tired of us and moves on. The Muse, our Creativity, the Universe...they all like movement.

6. Once You Start, You'll Keep Going. There are days when I do not want to do a thing. I can barely lift my butt off the couch. But I turn on my music and start regardless and guess what? I never stop. I think, "Well, I could just do 15 minutes" to fool myself into beginning, and I never just do 15 minutes.

Extrapolation for Creative Life: This is a great trick for writers. "I will write for 5 minutes." It will turn into more, I promise. It's about Turning Up to the Page or the Canvas or the Piano...It's about Turning Up, because though you are tired or having a bad day, you know your Priorities and you are committed to this life.

What about you? Has Yoga, Dance, Bicycling...Football(!?) taught you anything useful about life and creativity?


(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed, blisschick.net, 2009)

Monday, September 21, 2009

The 40 Year Old Dancer & How Age is Not the Enemy


Turning 40 was tough for me, and in just 2 months, I will be turning 41 but this birthday will be very, very different.

Here's the thing: The concept of aging only becomes difficult when we aren't leading the life we really, deeply want to lead. When we feel like we've missed our chance. We become bitter and stiff -- metaphorically and literally on that second one.

Take me, for example. Though I thought I was living a full and fulfilling life, my attitude toward my birthday said otherwise. It was a red flag that I was holding something back, not being truthful, hiding from or scoffing at my most fragile dreams.

Sure I've been doing a lot of what I want to be doing. My life is filled with love; I do good work. But I still had a few steps to take toward admitting into my life its missing core.

Since my 40th birthday, so much in my life has changed and most of that has happened over the last few months.

Now that I have admitted dance back into my life, now that I live so much more in my body, my overall Happy Quotient has risen exponentially and continues to do so.

Some of you are giggling or even feeling a bit snarky: "She is FORTY! How do you decide at that age to be a DANCER!?"

I think the same thing in my worst moments but those are short lived, and the majority of time, I know my age does not matter. I am not my age.

Aging is a social construct; it is a culturally agreed upon idea. (Different cultures "age" differently. How do you account for that besides anthropologically? They have different ideas about what "old" means.)

As we age, we feel a bit more tired, so we decide not to do so much so we get more tired. As we age, perhaps we feel a bit stiff so we decide not to move so much and therefore get even stiffer. As we age, we decide it's okay to put on extra weight so we eat more. As we age, we decide that you can't teach old dogs new tricks, so we stop looking for opportunities to learn.

You get the idea.

What if we kept doing, kept moving, ate better, kept learning, kept being challenged?

As we get older, we have accumulated wisdom and we know things we didn't know when we were twenty. What if we decided to accumulate health too? What if we decided to accumulate adventure?

I will write more about this tomorrow, but right now? Because I am smarter at 40 than at 20, I dance and work out smarter, so right now? Get this...I am stronger than I have ever been. Right now? I am just as freaking flexible as I was at 16 -- and at 16, I would have just about qualified as an Official Circus Freak.

It is never ever too late. Eventually, we all get a bit wrinkled, eventually, we all die, but I am going out twirling!

What have you put off? Is there something calling to you but you ignore it, thinking it's "too late?"

(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed, blisschick.net, 2009)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

MysticBliss: Wild Woman...


On Sundays, recently, I have been posting a MysticBliss that is all about the Wild Woman archetype.

That archetype is a model for the rest of us and how we can be our free, creative, wonderfully eccentric, healthy, happy, and beautiful selves.

The Wild Woman can be a singer or a religious or a yogini or a character even from a book.

But she must exemplify the qualities that are here in our Wild Woman manifesto.

This week, I am asking for your help.

When you think of this passionate and playful Wild Woman, who comes to mind?

Come one...share a whole list and in the coming months, I will be highlighting these women.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

MusicBliss: The Changing Season

So much changes at this time of year. I start craving candle lit evenings and soft, warm long sleeves and glasses of dark red wine and richer foods and writing with a pen. The night sky calls to me at this time of year in ways that it doesn't in the summer months. The cooler morning is invigorating.

Another thing: I start listening to more music and different music. In the summer months, my daily music has a lot to do with bird song, but as the windows start to close, the iPod is turned on close to first thing, and the music choices become more...contemplative.

Here we go -- Autumn music:





Friday, September 18, 2009

Self Discipline & Spiritual Dry Spells


(I feel the need to preface this post by stating something many of you may already know: I have been a student of the world's religions since I was about twelve. Seriously. And I continue to this day to read widely and deeply in all traditions. I may be focused but I do not wear blinders.)

As you know from a post earlier this week, I am in the midst of what I think of as a Spiritual Dry Spell. I don't see this as unusual or as lasting. I know that we cycle in and out of this and thus my metaphor with the roller coaster.

Ups and Downs. We get them in every aspect of our lives.

The important thing is to realize when we are in the down swing. Paying attention is a basic requirement for spiritual evolution.

Tess, from Anchors & Masts, summed up my own feelings best in her comment about "continuing to do what you do while exploring new ways of doing." (I paraphrase.)

Exactly. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

I am pleased that I noticed this down swing before it turned into something more dangerously existential, and I am pleased that I have not done what I would normally do.

You see, being a student of world religions has some inherent traps. For me, the primary one is treating my spiritual life like a cheap buffet, when, for me, it needs to be more of a fancy, sit down dinner. One you've saved up for.

It's important, for me, to commit, to be devoted.

I will probably say this a million times in my life, but it's like the Dalai Lama says -- you have to pick a path to the top of the mountain or you will continue to circle the base, and soon you will have dug a ditch with your feet and you will be farther from the top than ever.

In the past, and especially in the Fall, when I get to this place of spiritual dryness, I would just change my path. (Which entails walking back to the base of the mountain and doing a lot of circling.)

I would think that it was about the outside stuff. I would think I was using the wrong tools. That I was missing something. (Like when I can't stop changing the radio station.)

We all know that this just leads to Spiritual Materialism -- Ego building through "collection" of "wisdom" or "training."

I am rereading The Illuminated Prayer by Coleman Barks. He is the most amazing translator of Rumi ever. An amazing poet and writer in his own right. This book is about the Sufi concept of 5 times prayer, and I am reading it to put life back into my own, very Marian centered, prayer life.

A quote that stopped me and made me sit and write:

Self-discipline is an essential part of the spiritual landscape, and obligations -- with no wiggle room -- can be useful tools to tame our more churlish elements.

In the current spiritual landscape of this time and place, it is uncool to speak of obligations. It sounds heavy and dripping with the musty scent of Bible belt rules and regulations.

It is sad when we can't see out of these tiny little boxes into the bigger ideas that we are in desperate need of.

It seems to me that we could all use a little bit of obligation in our lives. A little more discipline and commitment and devotion.

It is good to be flexible, but at some point, we also have to develop strength and balance.

Because, ironically, it is through obligation, discipline, commitment, and devotion that we eventually happen upon Freedom. Rumi:

What nine months does for the embryo
Forty early mornings will do
for your growing awareness.

Not to take Rumi too literally (that would be a shame), I am committing today to a 40 morning practice of just sitting with a candle flame to remind me that I am re-igniting.

How about you? Is there a 40 day commitment that could rejuvenate you as we transition toward the new season?


(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed, blisschick.net, 2009)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Things & Blogs I Love


One of my favorite bloggers, Tess, passed this award along to me. Anchors & Mast, written solely by Tess, is one of the highest quality blogs I read in terms of its writing. Though Tess is in a transition period in her life and not blogging quite as often as she used to, I look forward with anticipation to the days when she does.

So, thanks, Tess!

I'm supposed to list 7 things I love, so here goes:

1. Like Tess, I am a total Fantasy Geek, but I am also a Sci-Fi Geek. Some of my first conversations with Tess, if I recall correctly, were about Buffy. I can go on and on and on about the existential depths of things like Buffy, Xena, Star Trek, etc. etc. -- and I consider this a Very Good Time.

2. But I am a Glitter Geek for sure! I love shoes and bags and anything shiny. There are days when I wish I were brave enough to look more like this, but I know that this is just who I am stylistically. ("So conservative it's edgy," Marcy says to try and make me feel more hip.)

3. This book is on my nightstand right now and it is breathtakingly beautiful, poetic, smart. The best book I've read in some time.

4. Autumn. I adore Autumn. Right now, I am one Happy Chick.

5. Most of you know this -- my new Tap Shoes. I cannot exaggerate how much I LOVE my new Tap Shoes. And the challenge they represent.

6. The music of this group.

7. The movies of this man. Look at that smile! Swoon...

Passing these things along is super hard, so lately the criteria I use is "new" or "new to me" blogs.


(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed, blisschick.net, 2009)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wishcasting: Stretching Into My Skin


Do you remember when I got this apple green desk? I had decided that this desk would be imbued with magics -- like my red, 1969 manual Olivetti typewriter. When she came to live here, it was only a matter of months before I was writing a full novel manuscript on her.

The apple green desk has not worked out as well as the Olivetti, and it has a lot to do with that very same manuscript.

A manuscript that turned out to be approximately twice as long as any editor or publisher wants from a first time author.

So that manuscript has been sitting on my apple green desk, waiting, and nothing is happening.

I am obviously not ready to cut that novel in half. Reality check.

Yesterday, as I was sitting outside in a pink Adirondack (which you can just barely see in the lower right hand corner of the above photo), I laid aside my tablet and put my face to the sun like a cat. I asked the Big Jobie (our sweet cat now in his Sparkle Suit) what it was I needed to do.

I was not thinking at all about that manuscript on my apple green desk.

A few "false" messages came (you know -- my own self talking to my self -- they are easy to discern). But then the real thing because I would never have said this on my own.

"Put away that manuscript. Just put it away. It's okay. It will wait."

I got up and went in the house. The whole way, I was arguing with Jobie about why this wasn't really necessary, and well, maybe I should just take a couple of weeks and really attack the thing...

No. Put it away. Clear the space and make room for other projects.

One is obligated to obey the Big Jobie, as you can imagine.

There was more to come.

All afternoon, I was thinking about my spiritual dry spell. I was a bit grouchy. I know I am way, way, way off balance right now.

Marcy declared that we would be having a meeting. Which is very like getting messages from a Big Jobie. How much could a girl take in one day!?

The meeting had to wait until I did my workout session. It was four o'clock. That is when I workout and dance every day.

Within minutes of starting to sweat (and this happens all the time), I got clarity on everything.

Every single day, I am waiting until 4 o'clock in the afternoon to do the very thing that makes me me. I am postponing bliss on a daily basis out of some weird, outdated idea of Who I Am.

What the!?

Marcy and I talked and talked and talked...

And then today, Jamie, for Wishcasting Wednesday, asks:

How do you wish to Stretch?

I wish to stretch further and deeper into my own skin.

I wish to stretch into myself.

I wish to stretch until I am completely, flexibly living from my essence.

Today, I will not wait until 4 o'clock to do what I love most. And I won't even just do it once! (GASP!)

Starting today, I am a dancer who writes rather than a writer who dances.

So there!

Are there self definitions and stories that are keeping you locked into ways of being that no longer serve you?

(This is exactly the sort of thing I'll help you explore in Cleveland on September 26th. Are you coming?)

(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed, blisschick.net, 2009)

Halloween & Rabbits...Really!


A few weeks ago, our beautiful and bossy rabbit, Miss Zoe, announced that she would like rabbits to begin the process of taking over all the holidays and not just Easter.

She thought it only fair, considering the beauty and smartosity of rabbits.

"What's right is right." She said.

So, Marcy and I have been busy fulfilling her wish, as we know that there are dire consequences when one does not obey one's Rabbit.

Alas, the newest Miss Zoe venture is now available. With a tiny bit of help from Marcy and a tiny bit from me, we proudly announce:


Go. Check it out.

Miss Zoe adds, "Tell everyone you know...or else!"

(Image courtesy of Miss Zoe and the Rabbit Board in Charge of Marcy Hall, 2009)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How Do You Handle a Spiritual Dry Spell?


I am used to the fact that a spiritual life is a life you work at and that there are big ups and downs like the roller coaster in this photo near our beautiful lake. At the top of that hill, there are gorgeous views and then at the bottom, you can forget that you are anywhere near such an awe inspiring vista.

You have to remember.

The metaphor works perfectly for a spiritual life.

We have moments of such clarity, which can be followed by dry spells that last years, and during that time, it's our responsibility to remember.

It would be much easier to give up and take the cynical view that none of it was ever real to begin with, but that is not the path I have chosen.

A couple of years ago, I was feeling very lost and sad after two difficult deaths. I was feeling lost and sad for a variety of reasons, actually, but those two deaths were what finally compelled me to do something about it.

I visited a medium at Lily Dale.

(I used to be someone who would make fun of people who wrote or said that sentence, but now I like to remind myself that I would rather be happy with the freaks than sad with the cynics who mistake themselves for intellectuals.)

Anyway, this medium. I loved her immediately. She gave off a smart vibe, if you know what I mean, and her bookshelves were crammed with great works of Buddhism and other major traditions, and because of some of my own prejudices, this made me feel trusting of her right off the bat.

And she deserved that trust. She had amazing messages for me that I think about to this day and one of them has to do with this idea of remembering.

She told me that when loved ones pass over, we are still in relationship with them, but that as the being still in our Skin Suits (as Marcy and I like to say), we hold the majority of responsibility for that relationship. We are the ones who have to do the work, because our loved ones now in their Sparkle Suits, well, they don't have the same need of this as we do and will be happily awaiting us no matter what we do.

I thought of this all this morning as I was realizing that my recent imbalance goes beyond the physical and the intellectual and is really about the spiritual part of my life.

I have had amazing highs, starting when I was about six, and right now, I am in a dry spell.

But I know it's my responsibility to remember and to work on it.

What do you do when you are feeling a Spiritual Dry Spell? How do you irrigate?


(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed, blisschick.net, 2009)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bugged


If you haven't noticed by now, I am horrible at being sick.

Not that being sick is fun for anyone at all, but I am extra bad at it. I don't just give in and rest; I fight it. And I spend a lot of time wondering "why me?" Really pathetic.

As if a cold or the flu is some sort of Judgment from the Universe. I know why I do this and yet I continue to do it.

Some of the comments on my sick posts have been really helpful and none more so than one from Svasti:

In Ayurveda, they say a person who never gets sick could be really, super-humanly strong. OR they could be repressing the disorders in their body that most people allow to come up...It's actually healthy to get sick. It's the body's way of restoring order.

The body's way of restoring order. Recalibration.

This made sense to me.

Obviously, part of the reason I got sick was because I had not been eating properly.

For a few days, I thought that that was it. This was the reason my body needed recalibration.

Besides not eating properly, everything else was going so well...right?

I was super busy. I was super focused. I was Super To-Do List Dominator.

Yesterday, after having Svasti's comment in my head for a couple of days, after a couple of days of feeling a bit more sane about my approach to being ill, it hit me that there had been much more going on.

This "not eating" was not just about food.

I was spending every minute of the day, for the most part, putting out energy but no time refilling.

Besides not eating enough food, I was also not taking any quiet time for myself. I was working even at night.

Though I was being really awesome about my workout routines, I was becoming a bit...obsessed. I was forgetting that they were fun. I was focused on the product (being fit) rather than the process (being a happy dancer).

And here's the big one: I was not feeding my brain with new ideas. I was not reading. At all. I have to read. I have to read in that same way that I have to dance -- it's who I am.

If I had not gotten sick, I would have not been forced to rest and do a bit of thinking about my life.

I guess I owe that little bug a big thanks.


(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed, blisschick.net, 2009)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

MusicBliss: Mellow Mood

First, I canNOT wait to see this movie:




And now, today, a bit more mellow than my usual selections:





Friday, September 11, 2009

Whine

I thought I would be better by now.

I thought I would have kicked this virus to the curb.

Instead, it is kicking me...hard.

I am trying to understand the lesson that my body is teaching me about rest.

I have not been sick in five freaking years, and now, as I am two weeks from some major happenings in my life, this!?

And I miss my tap shoes...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Cupcake that Started My Disordered Eating


For about five years now, I never get sick.

At the most, I will have a day or two when I can feel that I am fighting something off. I up some supplements, and I always win.

Not this time. For the first time in about five years, I have a full blown something or another. It started in my throat and is now in my head and muscles.

I am grouchy, to say the least. "I do not have time for this" is what comes out of my mouth. As if anyone has time for this!

My point, though, is that I am sure my sick-less streak would have continued had it not been for my recent confession about falling back into bad, "eating" habits. I put "eating," of course, in quotes because those habits really have to do with NOT eating. Or not eating nearly enough.

I was not giving my body what she needed and she could not fight off a simple, Autumn cold flu thing.

My post about eating disorders got a strong reaction -- here, on Facebook, on twitter, and in my inbox -- so I know we need to keep talking about this.

I thought we should back up and try to see where this begins.

I have told this story before but it bears repeating.

When I was almost four, I remember the exact moment my first diet was initiated. It was after dinner, and I had had one cupcake. I went in for a second, as I always had before, but suddenly, I was told "no."

Apparently, the look of consternation that my four year old self displayed was enough to take down an elephant in the wild.

How do I know this? Because this story became an oft repeated segment of our family mythology. It was told to elicit laughter. It was a "funny" story.

But at the age of four, I was being told that That eating was an impulse that needed to be curbed. Eating leads to unwanted results. That my very healthy body was not good enough and never would be. That there were and always would be things about myself that were detestable, embarrassing, laughable.

For those of you out there who saw themselves in my confession or one similar to it, I want you to think about this:

How was food treated in your family of origin?

Think about your mother's relationship to food, but also think about your father's relationship to food and, probably more importantly, think about how he treated your mother and other females around him and the whole food thing.

Did he encourage diets? Did he talk about other women's bodies in degrading ways?

Was your mother always complaining about herself?

What was dinner time like?

Spend some time journaling about all of this.

I know for a fact that I am not the only woman in the world whose first diet was at age four. I know I am not unique.


(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed, blisschick.net, 2009)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

SharedBliss: Connie of DirtyFootprints & Creative Dig


On May 7, 2008, I did my first interview here on Blisschick. On July 30, 2008, I interviewed Connie of Dirty Footprints, and who could have guessed where that would eventually lead?

(For all the interviews, go here.)

That new relationship with Connie grew and evolved and led to the creation of our workshop that will take place in Cleveland on September 26th. (There is still time to sign up.)

I am initiating new Blisschick interview questions and what more appropriate way to do so than to have Connie back. (You can find all of Connie's "vitals" here.)

I hope you like the new questions; they sprang forth from all of the Wild Woman talk that has taken place here.

Describe the components of your Bliss Path: the things/activities/structures that help you to be brave and choose bliss every day?

I am the luckiest chica on the planet, because I have Hansel--my life partner. He is the greatest support I could ever imagine. When I start to doubt myself or fall prey to fear, he is right there picking me up and encouraging me to follow my truth. He knows when I'm fooling myself as well and always calls me out on it. I'm so blessed to have him on this journey.

Another component that helps me be brave and to choose bliss is my Yoga practice. Through Yoga, I can do little experiments on the mat that lead me to believe I can handle anything in the real world at times. Plus, Yoga helps me see that there is nothing to be afraid of, only situations at hand that need to be dealt with. Yoga has given me strength to do what I know needs to be done at times.

Last, I think journaling is a huge component to being brave and choosing bliss. Journaling, especially at night, helps me sort through the chitter chatter of my mind, and decipher what is true and what are simply the things I am telling myself to keep me feeling "safe." There have been times that I think I can't do something, or that I'm uncertain about a situation, and just simply writing about it helps me gain a new perspective and peace of mind. I find out what I really want in life when I take the time to journal.

In choosing to live a bliss filled life, what sacrifices or choices have you had to make that have been particularly difficult? Are there sacrifices or choices coming up in the near future?

For most of my life, I have followed my heart. Maybe it doesn't happen overnight, but once I start to get the itch that this path that I am on does not serve me, I start making moves in a new direction. Sometimes, I can see clearly the trail I must travel. Other times, the landscape reveals itself by simply moving further from the place where I am. But because following my heart may require me to abandon certain expectations put on me, or challenge the way others see me and my life, or actually involve physical space, through the years, I have upset many people close to me. I have learned that in the path of following one's truth, not everyone will be happy with you. For me, I have had to sacrifice not being part of a nuclear family unit or a community of close-knit friends. That at times is difficult. But as I go further in my journey in life, I realize that the things I lose are only happening to provide space for the next things that will support me. If I get tied up in my own expectations of how things should be, I get knocked off my navigation, and stray from my path. It is becoming easier with time to accept the things I have had to sacrifice to stay true to myself, but I will not lie, I have not figured this one out completely, yet.

Describe your ideal, bliss-filled day?

A day that has 72 hours instead of 24---so I can keep doing all the things I do already, just have more time to do them in--and really savor the moments.

Do you have a daily spiritual practice that gives you the strength to live your own path?

Yoga is a part of my everyday spiritual practice. Even in times, like lately, when I do not find myself on the mat as much as my heart and body would like, I believe Yoga is always a part of me. I have learned so much about my own capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and capacity to love through the practice of Yoga. Yoga has taught me again and again the importance of staying in the moment, even when it simply means being witness to all the craziness going on inside me.

How does your relationship to your body affect your bliss?

My body is so patient and forgiving of me lately. This summer, I had an incredible burst of creative energy take over my life and my self. Since then, things have had to even out a bit, and now, I realize how much hardship my body suffered in order for me to express and release so much creative energy. She is calling out to me--begging for more time just to be. Even though I was on a complete creative high for months, I don't feel it is honest to say I was truly living my bliss, by the fact that I neglected my body as so. I am now starting to attend to her again, to listen to her, and to thank her for her patience and understanding. Yes, my relationship to my body affects my bliss completely. When I fail to note that, to love my body for all that she provides me with, my journey is not as vibrant and lively as it could be.

Was there a specific moment (or moments) in your life when you decided to break out of the cage and fly free, as we like to say in the land of Wild Women?

I think this moment happens again and again for me. It's a natural part of discovering who I am and following my bliss in this life journey. There have been numerous times that I think a certain thing or way of being is what I want--is me following my dream-- only to arrive at a place later where that dream has become the cage that is keeping me from flying free. So in a way I wonder, is life flying from one cage to another or just the openness of the big blue sky?

What gives you a sense of your Wild Woman self? What helps you to become less tame? Take risks? Put your concept of self on the line and challenge your boundaries?

Believing in myself gives me that sense of wild woman!! The days that I know my heart is right, that I'm living my truth--that is when I feel my wildest of woman self. It's not always easy. But when I believe in myself and keep a sense of humor at the same time, I am able to take more risks and be less tame. If I know there is a chance I may fail, but I don't care if I do, that is when I am at my best to challenge my boundaries and push forward.

What is the Wildest Thing you have ever done? What Wild Thing would you like to do? What is your Wildest Wish?

Wild is a heavy word for me. When I was a teenager, I used to get in cars with strangers (usually hot young boys) and drive off to who knows where. There were many times I told my mother I was spending the weekend at someone's house, who told their mother they were spending the weekend at my house, and we would go out of town on fun adventures (oh how lucky to be a teenager before cell phones!!)! I had a fake id, piercing, tattoo, I drank, I smoked, I did drugs, I stayed out all night, I cut school, I had boyfriends way too old for me. I was in a sense "wild"...and this "wild" carried over into my 20's just in a different fashion.

But, it was somewhere around 27 years old, that I decided I didn't want to be wild anymore. Wild wasn't working for me. It was killing my body, and making life difficult when it didn't need to be. So I left my wild ways behind, and started looking for new ways to be. To me, now, wild is an hour and a half of power yoga, is drinking margaritas on a work night, is painting funky trees, is believing so fiercely in my dreams.


What advice would you give to women who are still trapped by fear and expectation and feelings of obligation? How would you advise that they set their Blissfully Wild selves free?

Celebrate the little victories, and keep them close to you. Soon they will add up, and your life will start to take new form.

Earlier this year, I had a burning desire to begin running. I've never been a runner in my life. But something kept telling me this is what I need to do. So little by little, I began to run. First, I could only run a minute before needing to stop--and that was so huge to me! Then it was three minutes, five, ten, twenty, thirty. Each day, I could run just a little bit further--and each day, at the end of my run I would throw my arms up Rocky Balboa style and celebrate.

Make small moves to live your wildest dreams. Maybe if your heart is calling you to be a painter, you begin by buying the paints--leave the store and celebrate. A week later, you open the package and feel them, look at them--celebrate. Days later, you run your brush through them for the first time---celebrate. In time, you will be that painter--celebrate.

Thanks, Connie.

And remember, Connie will be facilitating the art journaling part of our workshop!