December Reflections: #8 – 15

Today I bring you my next eight December Reflections via photographs!

December 8: 5 THINGS ABOUT ME


  1. I am slightly far-sighted and as the years progress I notice that I need my glasses more and more for computer work and reading — especially when grading my students’ assignments.
  2. My hair is naturally light brown. Well, my hair is naturally light brown with lots of silver and gray.
  3. As far as I know, my cultural background is Irish-English-Scottish-German-Swedish and Prussian.  My paternal grandmother told me that we’re related to Prussian royalty, but I’m not sure I believe her since she also told my brother that he was 1% Hawaiian. I’m also (apparently) related to Rufus Putnam, an American Revolutionary War general, so I guess that makes me a “DAR,” but I have no interest in that label or association. My favorite label is HUMAN and my favorite cause is PEACE.
  4. I have green eyes with a little bit of gold around the edges. These eyes are sensitive to light and this sensitivity sometimes causes ocular migraines.
  5. I have four tattoos on my body, including six birds and two Sanskrit symbols.


December 9: FAVE PHOTO OF 2015


It’s often so challenging for me to pick a “favorite” anything, so I have many favorite photos from this year. I will say that this photo of my cat Selkie delights me to no end. Last winter he sat with me in front my full-spectrum S.A.D. light absorbing the warmth and light with me as we traversed the dark months together.


December 10: SHADOWS


This last summer in Seattle was unusually hot. For the first time, my husband and I were considering getting an air conditioning unit. Instead, we cooled off in the kiddie pool and hid in the shadows of the sun.


December 11: GOLD


This sky! I took this photo on a walk home from the grocery store one evening this summer. The clouds were littered with gold and the sky was so softly blue. I dropped all my grocery bags and stared and stared. Remembering this moment reinforces my intention to stop and really look at the world with my whole body.


December 12: BEST DECISION OF 2015


So many good decisions this year, but I am going to focus on one that is constant: my decision to keep connecting, learning, and growing with my partner in this life.


December 13, 2015: A is FOR…


ART! And making artful messes! And reminding myself how the process of making art invigorates me like nothing else quite does. Here’s to a 2016 of setting up my art space in our new home in Bellingham and creating!




Speaking of old and new spaces, this is a photo of our cat Selkie scoping out our empty bedroom right before our move. I think he found a few ghosts in that room … in that space in between.


December 15: SOUNDTRACK of 2015


My new (longer) commute from Bellingham to Bothell twice a week to teach at Cascadia College has certainly been an adjustment, but it has been made much more lively with some riot grrrl tunes. I’ve been listening to a lot of Ani Difranco on my drives and her strong energy, provoking lyrics, and social consciousness have me rockin’ and singing along with her up and down I-5.


Transformative Writing in 2015!

Let’s burn those traditional New Year’s resolutions. Take all of your “to-do’s” and “shoulds” and “have to’s” and place them in a pile of kindling. Watch them curl and scorch and turn to ash. Feel your body lift and lighten as the smoke rises. Listen to your heart’s caverns expand. Be present to how those “shoulds” have held you back, kept you from rising. Replace them with “I am” and “I want to” and “I am becoming.” Write your way into a brand new year of self-love, self-compassion, deep listening, and creativity. Listen to your body, write from your body, let your body speak.

The ZenPen journey begins on January 12, 2015.

Join me for body-based writing for healing, personal growth, and transformation.



$69 for the entire six-week e-course!

Give ZenPen as a gift to someone you love this holiday season!

The Goodies: What You Get in this E-Course

  • Six weeks of “Lessons,” each covering a different ZenPen theme.
  • A guide to body-writing basics, including the “ZenPen Kata” and “Trigger Point Writing.”
  • A personal video from me once a week.
  • Body exercises to try (breath, movement, meditation, etc.).
  • At least five body-based writing prompts per week.
  • Inspirational quotes, videos, images, and links related to each theme.
  • An “Inspire-Me-Thursday” post with inspiration and motivation to keep you writing.
  • Responses to and feedback on your posts on CourseCraft and in the Facebook Group.
  • A community of like-hearted people with whom to share writing, insights, experiences, and resources.
  • A 30-page ZenPen course document that is yours to keep at the end of the e-course.
  • Unconditional love and support!


Here’s what ZenPen graduates have to say about the course:

“I love that we incorporate our bodies into our writing or rather, let them do the writing for us. I’ve been trying to learn more about how to heal through my body and what it remembers, so I’m excited to add one more process in my journey. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to explore and heal here.” — Faith

“Your prompts, and the writing I crafted in response to them, at various moments made me take deeper breaths, burst into tears, listen more closely to various parts of my body, feel connected and warm, mourn, hope, build courage, and so many other things. Thank you.” — Jessica

“I have been journaling and studying all things journaling for four decades and the content here is very interesting and the information was new to me. I know have a whole new landscape to explore in my journaling. Thank you. — Bheki

“That’s why this course has been so helpful: little by little, I am seeing small ways to improve my awareness of my body, and now I can include it in that powerful triumvirate of mind-body-heart. I am only starting on this kind of awareness training, but I am already seeing the benefit: I am more present, less violent with my language towards myself, and much, much more forgiving of my ‘human-ness.’ Your course is tying in nicely with everything else I am learning about right now.” — Lauren

“Courtney is amazing. And I was needing a ‘reason’ to start writing again, but felt like if I just tried it on my own I’d be discouraged with more grocery-list type entries (from the head) rather than really getting some creative writing out. Through the ZenPen process, I learned that my body has a whole lot more to say that my Big Bad Mind won’t let it. Sorta like a stern parent, my mind REGULATES, and so when I can put my mind in time-out, then my body feels free to open up and give me lots of good stuff to work with!” — Jenna

“I learned to not rationalize too much, to listen to my body, to trust myself and my instincts, and to know that it’s OK to not make sense! I struggle with anxieties that something is wrong with me because I find great differences between me and many other people, but I’m slowly learning/struggling/challenging myself to believe that my differences are me and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve gained new perspectives from this course and I am very grateful for you Courtney.” — Hafsia

“ZenPen is helping me to be more present and loving with myself. It is facilitating a deepening relationship with myself that is necessary for me to be more of ME. I love your insights and exercises and the way you share yourself — very inspiring!” — Rachel

“The ZenPen E-course was outstanding in quality and quantity. I liked having lots of things to return to throughout the week — writing prompts, body work, videos, mid-week inspiration, and posting. Courtney’s replies to my CourseCraft posts were the highlight of the course for me! Through the e-course, I learned that I can do what I thought I couldn’t (write from my body) and that it’s an ever-expanding opportunity I can keep returning to and deepening.” — Nicole


A brand new year is on the way. How are you going to show up for yourself in a deep and meaningful way?




The Hum of Your Sternum

Here is another installment from my ever-so-unfinished-yet-deeply-beloved project BODY CARDS:

A Healing Hand, mixed media art journal entry by Courtney Putnam.

A Healing Hand, mixed media art journal entry by Courtney Putnam.

Location: In the center of the chest and articulates with the clavicle bones and first seven pairs of ribs.

Function: The sternum, or breastbone, serves to protect the heart, lungs, and main blood vessels from physical damage.

Unique Fact: During cardiac surgery, the sternum is sometimes cut open to gain access to the heart.

Associated Chakra: Heart (4th Chakra)

The strong sternum bone provides a layer of protection for those all-important ingredients of your body: your lungs and heart and major blood vessels. On an emotional level, the breastbone is often a place where we place our hand when we are moved or in some way affected emotionally. It is here on our chest where we can feel our own (or another person’s) heartbeat and the rhythm of our breathing. The sternum bone can feel like a powerful center for connecting with our own feelings or the feelings of others, for it is here where we often feel love and affection for another. And during our grief process, our heart chakra often emits a tremendous amount of energy as we feel our losses deeply.

The Sternum Card appears to remind you that your heart is always protected. It reminds you that you can feel deeply and you will not crumble into a million pieces. If you have been resisting your body’s call to feel love, grief, joy, or sadness, this may be time to take the risk and let the emotions come. When we hold our emotions tightly in our chest, we trap them there to live constricted, unexpressed lives. When we hold in our feelings, we may feel tightness in our chests and lack of full breath. It can feel like a risk to feel deeply, but the message of the sternum is that of safety and protection.  And showing your emotions to another can feel exposing and intense. But it can also be profoundly satisfying and freeing. What feelings are pulsing in your chest at your sternum, waiting to be released? Place your hand on your breastbone, feel the powerful pulse of your heart, and ask yourself what emotions are ready to become known.

Try this:

  • Place a rose quartz stone right on your sternum.  Feel it’s soothing energy calm your heart and connect you to your breath.
  • Thymus thumping (also called the Thymus Tap).  In a Waltz beat (one-two-three, one-two-three), tap your sternum. Your thymus glad resides right beneath your sternum and by activating it through tapping, you help boost your immune system.  You’ll notice this exercise awakens the heart and lungs, too, and it also makes you feel stronger, more resilient. I like the image of Tarzan when doing the Thymus Tap. Certainly Tarzan knew what he was doing when pounding his chest before embarking on some strenuous feat!


On Getting Inked and Hitched

Hey, I am a married lady!

On January 6, 2013, after a month-long engagement, my partner Walter and I got married at Two Birds Tattoo in the Phinney/Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle.

In lieu of wedding rings, we wanted to have tattooed symbols on our left ring fingers instead. After much musing, we decided upon two chakra symbols for our “rings.”

IMG_20130110_200032As you can see by the picture above, Walter chose Vishuddha, the throat chakra Sanskrit and I chose Ajna, the third eye chakra Sanskrit.

Our friend Robyn performed our tiny ceremony at Two Birds and explained the meaning of the symbols prior to the inking. She said:

For Walter, the Sanskrit symbol for the throat chakra, Vishuddha, reminds us of the value of communication. Vishuddha resonates with our true self and conveys our creativity through any form of expression we may seek; the challenge to all of us in life is to learn to fearlessly express who we are without harming others or ourselves. Vishuddha is also connected to the sense of hearing; besides expression, we must also listen – to the world around us, to our partner, and to our inner selves.

For Courtney, the Sanskrit symbol for the third eye chakra, Ajna, reminds us of the value of our higher wisdom and intuition. Ajna is also the center for imagination and visualization. When we engage with the third eye, we learn to trust in ourselves and each other the ways in which we see the world around us and the worlds within us. The third eye reminds us to be open to new ideas, to see into and beyond what seems apparent and true, and to deepen our understanding of one another by remaining open to the dreams and insights we each hold dear.

I share this part of our ceremony with you because expression and communication (throat) and trusting in our visions and intuition (third eye) are important aspects of not only our relationships, but our lives in general.

How can we be more compassionate with ourselves as we engage in  deep listening, trusting, and expressing? How can we “fearlessly express who we are without harming others or ourselves” and “trust in ourselves and each other the ways in which we see the world around us and the worlds within us”?

Sending you all loving kindness for your respective journeys in love, in finding your passions, in communicating with one another, and in living fully with an open heart.


Courtney (still) Putnam


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