December 4: RED
Red is one of my favorite colors, mostly because of its potency and boldness. There is no mistaking red. Red knows that she’s powerful. I created this art piece above our mantle over a year ago, and I am still struck by how people see different things in it. Some see a moon on the water as the surf froths up and some seem rain falling down. What do you see?
December 5: SACRED SPACE
When we moved into our new place in Bellingham this fall, it took me a while, but I did my usual space clearing and energizing ritual. This year, my cat Selkie wanted to be involved and he was very curious by the smells, sounds, and shifts in energy.
December 6: BEST BOOK OF 2015
I am quite biased, but I am also a very good judge of a powerful piece of writing. My mom’s memoir Full Moon at Noontide: A Daughter’s Last Goodbye was published in paperback this year after a run in hardback with a different press. This memoir explores my mom’s journey with loss in a lyrical and transcendent way. I am moved each time I read it, not only because this book is about my mom and my family, but because, through writing, my mother is able to let the light shine gently on grief and loss. For more on her book, please visit her website, where there are excerpts, beautiful reviews, photographs, and more.
December 7: BRANCHES
It is very dark in the PNW this year. Our resident weather expert Cliff Mass posted an article about how yesterday was the darkest December day in over nine years in our area! Instead of sharing a photo of branches from this time of year (though barren branches and dark skies can be quite beautiful, too), I am going to share a photo from this past April. These pink puffs of love delight me to know end. And set against a hopeful blue sky, I can almost smell the fragrant joy bursts.
My first photographs for Susannah Conway’s December Reflections 2015 challenge come in a set of there here:
December 1: SPARKLE
I purchased this crystal when my cat Mountie was the process of dying about four years ago. I placed it near him to provide comfort and clarity for his transition. In retrospect, this crystal was more of a comfort to me, since it is hard to know what to do when someone you love is dying. At least I was able to set an intention with this crystal and create some beauty.
Now I hang this crystal in my office. It dangles from a lamp so that it can sparkle any time I turn on the light to remind me of all the passages I have endured — my animal companions, my grandparents, friends, and my father. This crystal reminds me of the light that can be found around the edges of loss when we illuminate it with healing intention.
December 2, 2015: HOT DRINK
I see this view quite a lot in my life — my husband’s hand holding a chocolate brown mug filled with coffee. This is another view of Walter’s groundedness. Even holding his mug, he is geologic. When the winds of anxiety, worry, and sadness surround me, Walter’s steady sip brings be back to the earth.
December 3, 2015: BEST DAY OF 2015
I don’t know how I can possibly choose just ONE best day of 2015, for there were many good days sprinkled about. I will say, though, that learning that my book/card deck BODY CARDS: Insight from the Body, Wisdom for the Soul is going to be released in June of 2016 makes it to the top of my list. The tiny kernels of inspiration for this writing & art project began over 13 years ago in my living room with my best writing buddy Kristen during one of our weekly writing groups. Almost three years ago, Schiffer Publishing accepted my book proposal and now it’s an actual book that’s going to be released next year! This whole process reminds me to stick with my creative projects, but to also give them breathing room. I can’t crowd them or force them to be something too soon. I must nurture them and let them be what they want to be.
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 other day I felt paralyzed by fear. The previous night I had had a panic attack, and the next day my nervous system was “wired,” tired, and frayed. I was glued to my bed, pacing in my head, stuck as to what to do with myself. I had a long “to-do” list but had no idea where (or how) to start.
One of my tried and true mottos is “When you’re stuck, move!”
And by this I mean physically move — change your location or environment, take a walk around the block, pull weeds, dance, climb a tree, and create. So that’s what I did: I pulled some weeds in my square-foot garden, organized my closet, and then decided to pull out my journal and write.
An hour later, I had filled eight pages. In that hour, I was so focused on getting all of my thoughts and fears onto the page, I forgot that I had been paralyzed. My hand moved across the page in earnest and I felt myself sigh and breathe deeply every few minutes.
Journaling allowed me to peel myself off the ceiling and feel my body on the earth.
Creating — whether in the form of cooking, playing guitar, flower-arranging, art-making, or writing — gets us out of a stress-stuckness pattern because we are activating the frontal lobes of the brain, leaving our fight-or-flight reptilian hind brain to rest. There are no proverbial saber-toothed tigers about to attack when we are in a flow state of creativity.
Writing, specifically, helps us move through stress and stagnation because when we process our lives through journaling, we connect the events in our lives with our emotions, and that’s the path of healing in action. Even though we usually sit when writing, we still move. We still move our hands across the page or the keys. We still move our minds and emotions to another state and place.
This type of writing isn’t about product or talent or skill; instead, it’s about process. It’s about transformation. You need not feel you are a Writer, with that capital “W.” This isn’t about high art, it’s about moving through pain, heartache, grief, stagnation, confusion, anxiety, and more. It’s also about play and letting go and having a blast with image, language, and metaphor.
Do you use writing as a tool for healing in your own life? If not, what would it take for you to try it?
If you’d like try this type of writing, or you’d like some structure and community support for your journaling practice, I invite you to join me this summer for ZenPen: Body-Based Writing for Healing, Transformation, and Personal Growth. It’s a six-week e-course full of inspiration, writing prompts, body exercises, videos, music, and more. In all, it’s an immersion of your senses so you can write from your whole being–brain, heart, gut, feet, and all!
You can go at your own pace, share your process (or not), and allow yourself to engage that creative part of yourself that is inherently healing. At the end of the course, my gift to you is a 28-page ZenPen e-book of all the content from the course so you can continue your writing journey beyond our time together.
The ZenPen journey begins on July 7 and goes until August 10. You can be on vacation and still do this! It’s your course.
You can also learn more and sign up by clicking this image below:
peace and transformation,
Yesterday I gave my last one-on-one bodywork session. It was a 90-minute massage with a generous soul who surrendered to the relaxing experience and gave me the gift of witnessing, one more time, the power of healing intention and healing touch.
I was moved. I was sad. I was grateful. I was grounded. I had come full circle.
Twelve years ago I began practicing Reiki and eight years ago I began my practice as a massage therapist.
It took me a summer sabbatical, a soul-searching autumn, and New Year’s insights, plus listening to my gut and higher wisdom a lot to realize it was time to change course and channel all of the healing experiences I have witnessed and facilitated into my writing, art, and teaching. It was nine months of hard, heart-full work!
This change in my practice is a leap, but not an enormous one. I’ve been infusing the creative arts and healing arts for a while now and it took some burn-out, a realization that I am an empathic sponge, a book deal, art sales, a teaching gig, and my ZenPen online course to see that I was already showing myself the way. I was already making decisions toward my new goal; it just didn’t feel like it because I hadn’t taken down my massage business shingle.
Here’s my wisdom star-blast from this experience: Sometimes all you need to do is look at how you are already doing what you want to be doing and inflate it, expand it, shine the light on it. Make it so big in your heart and mind that it becomes clear (even if it’s hard to admit) what needs to fall away in order to make room for what you are already doing!
Can you think of something that you are ALREADY leaning into, something that you are already doing (even just partly) that you can magnify so you can manifest it?
And there’s the saying goodbye part. I decided to document and ritualize my last session because I didn’t want it to become a blurry smudge in my memory. So I blew out the last candle still lit in my room after the massage.
So what is next?
To make ends meet (and to have some fun, too), I am teaching college writing. It’s interesting how much of the healing arts I bring into the classroom, including essential oils! Our course theme is HAPPINESS and my students are “Happiness Detectives.”
I am working on my book Body Cards: Insight from the Body, Wisdom from the Soul, due out in the Spring of 2015.
I am creating art and working at ways to more efficiently sell my art and art products.
I am a student in Marie Forleo’s B School, learning how to become a soulful, skillful, tech savvy online entrepreneur so I can continue to provide healing-infused creativity inspiration in the form of free e-books, videos, and audios, as well as official e-courses! This is the greater leap part: I’m saying “Hello World!” and more fully embracing having a strong online presence so I can be of service to others from all over the world through these great inter-webs of ours.
I’m already adapting my website to reflect the changes in my business model and will be making more changes in the next few months!
What this means to you…
If you’d like to join me on this journey of creativity and healing, I’d love for you to subscribe to my email list. When you do, you will be gifted with some body-based writing prompts to get your body-wise creativity flowing.
I have moved my blog HERE to rising-bird.com, and I’ll be closing my wordpress.com page “Healing Next Blog” in the next few weeks. So re-set your bookmarks, subscribe to the Rising Bird Flock and you’ll be hearing from me more regularly, about two times a month.
I wish you all the best in whatever leanings or leaps or longings you are listening to and manifesting — and I look forward to connecting with you here.
Don’t you think?
I am throwing my own art show/sale Rising Bird style — outside on the patio and walkway of my home business. We birds need space to spread our wings and a big, blue sky to contemplate, don’t we?
Come and sip a cool, refreshing drink while you surround yourself with colorful art, fountains, garden Buddhas, bamboo, bird prayer flags, a friendly cat, a helpful husband, and sunshine.
Here’s the scoop for those of you who are in the Seattle area:
Sunday, August 18, 2013, 11:00am – 3:00pm
Rising Bird Healing Arts, Seattle, WA 98115
I will be selling my original mixed media, acrylic, and encaustic creations, PLUS prints, cards, journals, canvas bags, and other printed incarnations of my art. I have many NEW works, so you’ll get to meet new birds, Buddhas, and even sea turtles and elephants.
The fine print: For serious buyers, I take cash, personal check, and credit/debit cards.
If you are one who traverses the land of Facebook, you can see my event page, RSVP, and leave a comment here: https://www.facebook.com/events/420664664709267/
I hope to see you for a celebration of summer and ART!
in waxy goodness,