#30daysofBrigid

Day 31: Reflections on 30 Days of Brigid

IMG_2966Today, the snow has finally been melting. I walked out at sunset and took a quick picture thinking about how I will miss taking and sharing a daily picture now that 30 Days of Brigid is over. The most powerful part of this experience was the practice. It felt like showing up for myself. It became a discipline. There was no requirement to write a blog post every day, but I made a commitment to doing so and I did it. 30 posts in 30 days! None of my posts were particularly stunning, though I liked my Hands post a lot and fell in love with the snowflakes from “lovely desire,” but it was powerful to commit to doing something and then doing it! I wanted to work through the course with my husband, but while I read a lot of the daily prompts out loud to him, we didn’t sync up and take the daily “sacred pause” together that I had envisioned. It became kind of my thing, rather than a shared experience. I read the daily emails first thing each morning and often reflected on the content for the remainder of the day.

Anyway, my closing thoughts on the ecourse in general are these…

30 Days of Brigid absolutely delivered on the promise of a sacred pause for each day with art, readings, blessings, meditations and inspiring prompts. The course was well-organized and thematically consistent as well as beautifully gentle in tone and thought-provoking in question. I got out of it what I was willing to put in and it was an investment in myself and my spirituality. It created a container for me that was very valuable, both for personal reflection, spiritual development, and for a daily writing practice. I loved challenging myself to really respond to the message of each day and enjoyed how I spent the day looking for the right moment to capture the spirit of that day’s theme. Great fun, great practice, great connection! Also, the personal interaction with Joanna Colbert via Instagram and Facebook was fun. I love her Gaian Tarot so much and I love how the Internet “smallens” the world and allows direct interactions with artists and authors I admire. At the beginning of the year when I did my annual oracle using the Gaian Tarot I had no idea the gifted woman behind it would be commenting on pictures of my cute baby on Instagram just a few weeks later. 🙂

If I was doing it again, I’d stretch myself to dig even deeper and to do art journaling for each prompt as well as move it up in my daily priority list so I could share it with my husband the way I originally planned. 

If you missed 30 Days of Brigid (or even if you didn’t!) you can move into 30 Days of Welcoming Spring and working with Persephone with Joanna’s next ecourse offering:

It’s for those who want to align themselves with the rhythms of nature as we leap into the time of greening and blossoming, and dance with the Maidens of Spring. By the end of the 30 days, you’ll be reconnected to your own creative core, with a daily practice in place for taking in beauty and responding to it in your journal or with your camera or paintbrush. Best of all, you will have taken a divine pause each day to mindfully experience the shift in the seasons as Persephone emerges from the Underworld, and Winter gives way to Spring. 

via 30 Days of Welcoming Spring ~ A Daily Sacred Pause of Creative Inspiration.

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Categories: #30daysofBrigid, Goddess, sacred pause, spirituality, woodspriestess, writing | 2 Comments

Day 30: Spring (#30DaysofBrigid)

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Brigid, I accept your flame.
Flame of creativity, poetry, hope, and healing.
Flame of understanding.

I accept your gifts
committing to their expression.
aligning with the workings of word, art, and deed.
Open to that which comes
responsive to that which surrounds me.
Enlivened by the dancing flame
of passionate creation.

Open hands, heart, and mind.
To give and to receive.
To express, to feel, to wonder, to know.
To discover
to uncover
to embrace
to fulfill
to unleash.

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Day 29: Paying Attention (#30DaysofBrigid)

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One of my favorite verses in my life as a mother, writer, artist and as a conscious observer of the rhythms and flow of life comes from this poem by Mary Oliver:

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

I consider this one of my life mottoes and in fact got it stamped on a pendant with my children’s names on it. It also forms the foundation of what I do with my sculptures and jewelry. Coincidentally, early last week I added it to the section of our website where we describe our pendants and why we create them:

These pendants are born from paying attention, being astonished, and telling about it. We hope they remind you of your own astonishment and help you tell about it!

via Pewter Pendants – Brigid’s Grove.

So, it was lovely to see it then pop up for 30 Days of Brigid today,

I also used in on my birth blog, explaining why I blog in the first place:

To me, it sums up the reason why I continue to write this blog. I have so many things going on in my life and I often wonder why I bother to continue writing blog posts. Does it matter at all? Aren’t I just adding to the general cacophony of voices and wild, information overloaded chaos of the internet (and even of the birth activist sphere in general). I feel almost compelled to do so though. And, really, the reason why is to tell about it. There is a lot to be astonished by in one’s everyday life. While I can get distracted and frantic and lose my present moment orientation, I do pay attention a lot. To a lot of things. A friend told me at my blessingway that I live my life with more intention than most people she knows. I considered that to be a great compliment—and, I also think I live my life with a lot of attention. Sometimes that attention may seem like excessive navel-gazing and very often it is excessively self-critical (and, isn’t that being self-centered, she says critically and self-evaluatively?), but I feel like I am a generally observant person, paying attention to my place in the world and the manner in which I walk through my day. And, the paying attention is intimately involved with then wanting to tell about it—here, on my blog 🙂

Additionally, it forms part of my theory of theapoetics, a model I coined to describe the spontaneous poetry I compose in the woods and which was the former name of this blog:

If we really stopped to think about this—to sense how we are carried by the great wind, I think the whole world would change, how people relate to each other and to the environment would be transformed. Stop, look, listen, breathe, and feel how we spin. Together.

via Theapoetics | WoodsPriestess which later evolved into my first post on Feminism and Religion: Theapoetics

Ironically, today I was so busy working I didn’t spend much time paying attention OR telling about it. With the snow, followed by ice and cold temperatures, I haven’t gone anywhere for eleven days and counting! I’ve actually enjoyed this period of “cave time”—it fact, in many ways, it has felt like exactly what I needed. We’ve made fun foods (as well as used up some of the many items languishing in our freezers), caught up on some projects and household tasks, played games, made art, played music, written, and read books. Today, however, I had a lot of work to do on my current classes (one of which I am not enjoying), it took me lots longer than I hoped, the baby napped extremely poorly, and I felt “fuzzy” and almost resentful of having to get back to “real life.” I slipped out to the mailbox in the afternoon, crunching and sliding on the ice. I paid attention to the patterns the grass stems made coming out of the icy field and the crunching sound of my boots. Ahead, in the cold air, I saw our old kite, remnant of a summer’s afternoon past, bright against the cold sky, spread out and fluttering again from the tree in which it was stranded, too high to retrieve. There! That’s my picture for today! Only, as I broke through the icy ground in the field to get close enough to snap the pic, my cell phone’s battery died. I waited in the house for a while then and then went to the woods with my drum. I didn’t see anything there of particular interest to tell about either and kept thinking of that kite. The sun was starting to set and I knew the kite would be a good picture with the sunset backdrop. I left the woods and slogged back up the driveway and crunched across the field to the kite, raised the camera, trying to get some of the sunset in the background and the screen went dark. iPhones shut themselves off in freezing temperatures…Alas! As I trudged back to the house trying not to slip and fall, I thought of how ironic it was that in trying to “tell about” that dang kite, I’d likely missed paying attention to so many other possible things! Way to miss the point today, Molly! 😉

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Day 28: Threshold (#30DaysofBrigid)

“Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in the small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and simple; to feel in the rush of passing the stillness of the eternal.”

–Abraham Joshua Heschel

Today’s lesson was about thresholds. Whether literal and metaphorical, these are the magical, liminal spaces between worlds. Today we had a (mostly) screen-off day and focused our energy on cleaning up some clutter hot-spots and miscellaneous “to do” areas around the house (like pictures waiting to be framed and hung up). It felt really cleansing and the house feels brightened up with prayer flags hanging, rather than lying bundled in a pile! Then, this evening we stood in our front doorway and read the blessing that was included in today’s meditation. We noticed that not only were we standing in the actual doorway–the threshold between the inside and the outside, but we were also “between” both light and dark, warm and cold.

While going through piles of papers today, I found the quote above and the quote below (another “threshold!”) saved in my notes. Both felt appropriate for today, especially the one below, where it served as the inspiration for my picture.

My hand is on our front door.

My hand is on our front door.

I have arrived.
I am home.
In the here.
In the now.
I am solid.
I am free.
In the ultimate
I dwell.

–Thich Nhat Hanh

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Day 27: Milk (#30DaysofBrigid)

IMG_2908Magic mama. She who transforms body and blood into milk. Into life. Into the heartsong of another. Maternal sacrament. Shared freely. Flowing sweetly. Uniting. This thoroughly embodied stuff of motherhood. This physical commitment. This body-based vow to our young. She holds her baby. And she holds the world.

Mammal mama. Liquid love. Cellular vow. Unbreakable, biological web of life and loving.

She’s just feeding her baby. Is she? Or is she healing the planet at the very same time?

Milky smile, fluttering eyes, smooth cheeks, soft hair. Snuggle up, dear one. Draw close. Nestle feet to thighs, head to elbow. And know that you are encircled by something so powerful that it has carried the entire human race across continents and through time for thousands upon thousands of years on its river of milky, white devotion.

via Nursing Mama, Magic Mama | Talk Birth.

This 30 Days practice keeps me on my toes! If I had known that today’s theme was milk, I would have used yesterday’s picture for today! Instead, I’m re-visiting this reading that I wrote at my other blog about my breastfeeding goddess sculptures.

I am also completely, 100% in love with my baby’s tiny tuft of “long” hair that is puffing up on the back of his head today. I feel a pang for his little duck fluff “messy hair” of the newborn days that is already gone and I tried really hard to take a good picture of his current “messy hair” so I remember. I feel this intense and primal urge to try to capture and preserve this time with him, but I know from my other kids that these moments pass by and become old memories, particularly because the current version of each child is right here in front of me, a baby no more. Their babyselves are faded, though my body carries the memories of each of them…

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Day 26: Shield (#30DaysofBrigid)

IMG_2855What does a sleeping nursling have to do with a shield? Well, I’m his. When I read the prompt for today, I was thinking literally, like a sword and shield. However, when I sat down to nurse my baby for his nap, I looked down at his face and realized that I am his shield. Not only is my milk his shield against infection, and so forth, but my actual self is his shield—the lens and medium through which his world is interpreted, felt, and experienced. One of my favorite things about having a baby is how they look right into my eyes to assess a situation. Let’s say a loud noise happens: The baby’s eyes come to mine to see how to gauge, interpret, and react to the situation. If I am happy and calm and smile reassuringly, the baby is no longer alarmed by the noise and resumes kicking and looking around. If I was to express horror and shock at the noise, the baby would cry and be distressed. Not only do I hold him and feed him and get him when he needs me, I show him with my eyes and face what the world is like—safe or scary, comforting or isolating. While he will go on to forget what this intense mother-baby symbiosis feels like, it will still be there at some level, forming his basis for understanding the world around him. And, I will never forget what it is was like to have his eyes meet mine in this way. His shield.

The journal prompt was about experiencing the protection and companionship of Brigid. While I do not usually encounter Brigid in a literal way, one day last year when I was in the woods, I did a recording that felt too personal to share here. In it, I noted that Brigid is not a goddess that you meet while meditating in the forest, she is in the sweat on your face and the heat of metal. She is the goddess who says, roll up your sleeves and get to work.

This morning though, I awoke from a dream about Brigid in which she said, “don’t worry about me, nurse the baby.” I’m not sure what that means exactly, but reading the lesson for today, I thought of a past dream I’d blogged about:

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Day 25: Sanctuary (#30DaysofBrigid)

May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world
to gather you, mind you, and embrace you in
belonging.

— John O’Donohue

(via 30 Days of Brigid ~ A Daily Sacred Pause of Creative Inspiration.)

My first thought when I think of sanctuary is sitting on the rocks in the woods. However, given the current snow and extreme cold temperatures, I’ve missed my woods visit for two days in a row. I feel the gap, like a longing almost, but as the cold day went on today, I kept feeling like I should be heading out there and yet delaying. Finally, I gave myself permission to not brave the cold in search of a sanctuary photo and as I looked outside at the icicles hanging from the porch roof I realized I had my sanctuary photo after all, because today sanctuary is indoors, not out!

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Today’s reading and thinking about the woods also led me to think of one of my own past experiences with the wild beauty of the (nearly) invisible world:

…Like flower growing from rock
the world is full of tiny, perfect mysteries.
Secrets of heart and soul and landscape
guarded tenderly
taking root in hard crevices
stretching forth
in impossible silence.
via Woodspriestess: Stoneflower

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Day 24: Deep Peace (#30DaysofBrigid)

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Deep peace of an open heart to you
Deep peace of a wide smile to you
Deep peace of open hands to you
Deep peace of a quiet space to you
Deep peace of welcoming arms to you
Deep peace of an infinite hope to you
Deep peace of Brigid to you.

The prompt for today’s post was inspired by a classic Celtic blessing. We were asked to use a similar structure to the original to create our own “deep peace” blessing. I was working on getting supplies together for a mother blessing ceremony and the lines above are what came to my mind to offer.

We actually used the original reading at my daughter’s naming ceremony as a baby. 🙂

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Day 23: Grief (#30DaysofBrigid)

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Mothers of angels

mothers of rainbows

mothers of butterflies

mothers of sorrow…

via Mothers of Sorrow and Change | Talk Birth.

Last week felt stressful for several reasons, but this week we turned some kind of corner and I’m in a great mood, feeling really optimistic, excited, hopeful and pleased. So, it is difficult to switch gears and write a post about grief today. I challenged myself to do a post a day during the 30 Days of Brigid course though and I’m committed to seeing it through. It has been a really beautiful experience to look around me each day and find something to photograph in response to the prompt and I often find myself thinking about the lessons throughout the day as I go about my other tasks. Today, on the way back from feeding the chickens, feeling light and optimistic, my eyes were drawn through the woods to the Jizo sculpture beneath the tree where we buried our third baby five years ago. As I wrote in the post I linked to above, I thought the rawness of this experience would never fade and now I have to consciously reach back in time to touch that onslaught of emotion and experience. I thought about how cold, isolating, and lonely grief feels and then how you gradually peek your way back up from below the surface, but it remains a part of you forever, woven into the fabric of your life’s story. The wheel continues to turn. When I drummed in the woods today, the lines from the little poem-song I quote above came floating back to my mind and I sang them again, in memory and respect.

footprintsThe top selling item in our etsy shop is unfortunately our miscarriage memorial charms. We don’t actually make any money from these, but instead I see them as an outreach effort or a “ministry” of sorts. Each time we sell one, I know it represents the heartache and fresh grief of another and I pause to hold the person and their experience in my heart. I mail them away with respect, love, and tenderness for the intense feelings and experiences they represent and also in the hope that these raw feelings will soften with time and care.

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Day 22: Lovely Desire (#30DaysofBrigid)

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”

-Jack Kornfield via Sunday Sabbath: Tiny Desert Flowers

IMG_2710This morning as I stepped outside to gather newly fallen snow to make snow ice cream for my children, the Kornfield quote above kept repeating through my mind. I’ve lived in the woods for almost my entire life. I have seen snow plenty of times, but I cannot ever recall having seen snowflakes like this. In fact, I confess that until a few hours ago I assumed that the only way to take a picture of a real snowflake-shaped-snowflake was with an extreme close up (not an iphone). I’m used to a fine powder snow that is too fine of grain to distinguish separate flakes or a clumpy, wet snow in which no individual flakes are distinguishable either. I am so unfamiliar with the flakes I witnessed today, that when I first saw their starry patterns on my little girl’s hair, I thought, “look, the little grains of snow are clumping together and almost looking like real snowflakes.” When I saw that they were, themselves, real snowflakes, I was exhilarated. I was so excited it was like a genuine miracle to have seen them. Since, I already had my snowboots on, I went down to the woods with my drum and delighted in the snow like I’ve never seen it before. And, in I way, I never have. This is a beauty of taking a sacred pause. We see things that cause our whole lives to change.

 

 

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Day 21: Lighting someone else’s spark (#30DaysofBrigid)

Your fire is that which rests within. It is hot, it is holy, and it feeds you. IMG_2674

via Womanrunes: The Flame | WoodsPriestess.

One of the things that is fulfilling about creating art is how to speaks to others. I was brought to tears last week by reading a customer’s review of her cesarean birth goddess pendant and how her husband will be wearing the pendant for her while they welcome their second baby into the world. I am honored to be a small piece of her path and to touch the lives of other families with our work. Today my husband and I had a really great conversation about our business and its direction for the year. We want to create that which is in us to create and to share it with others. That’s the core. We have to move a little slow this year because we’re on baby-time now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to take one step at a time and to continue to build our momentum, to change and grow and dream big.

 

 

 

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Day 20: Healing Water (#30DaysofBrigid)

IMG_2650I’ve been feeling a little short on self-care or physical care lately as well as short on relationship care. It feels like we’re constantly “running out of time” for the things we need or want to do in a day and simple things like hugging each other get shuffled aside. My husband has been having a problem with his leg that is making us worried and I feel like I’m so busy with the baby that I have trouble making time for quality time with my other kids. Today, when I read the prompt, I knew I couldn’t work in a full bath, but I thought it would be fun to do footbaths. Following the inspiration (as is one of our year’s mottoes) before dinner, even though it wasn’t particularly good timing and there were other things we could or should have been doing, I set up footbaths for my husband, our daughter, and me. We used salt from the salt bowl ceremony at my mother blessing and “magnify your purpose” essential oil blend. My daughter picked out a crystal to add to each bath—rose quartz for my husband, amethyst for me, and snowflake obsidian for herself. Though I didn’t expect them to be interested, after we settled in, my older boys came running out and said, “hey, we’re doing footbaths!” and so we got one set up for each of them too (using drawers from a little plastic dresser! Another reminder about following the inspiration rather than waiting for “perfect”). We sat there enjoying ourselves even though our rolls for dinner got cold while we were soaking. After the baths, I gave each of the kids and my husband a foot massage and reiki with mandarin orange lotion. I tried to skip my own foot massage because we needed to get back to dinner prep, but my husband did mine and it was lovely. This was a really nice, healing, loving mini-ritual and I’m glad we did it.

As I read today’s lesson, I also thought of two “healing water” experiences I had last year with ceremonial baths:

Sacred Postpartum, Week 2: Ceremonial Bathing | Talk Birth

Ceremonial Bath and Sealing Ceremony | Talk Birth

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Day 19: Dream dust (#30DaysofBrigid)

IMG_2629Gather out of star-dust
Earth-dust,
Cloud-dust,
Storm-dust,
And splinters of hail,
One handful of dream-dust
Not for sale.

— Langston Hughes

(via 30 Days of Brigid)

 

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Day 18: Sing, Dance, Create (#30DaysofBrigid)

“Sing, dance, create. If you have to choose one, do all three at once.”
— Sister Bridget Mermaid

(Kim Antieau, Church of the Old Mermaids)

I absolutely adore this quote from today’s sacred pause with 30 Days of Brigid. I feel like my first picture from yesterday’s post would have been a good match for today’s theme, but since it is a new day, I took a new picture! I thought of it in the car on the way home after a stressful day (medical problem for my husband, stressed out and very sad car-hating baby) and it was the Rune of Dancing Women…

IMG_2600I ran down to the woods in the cold with my drum for a few minutes after we got home. I almost didn’t take the drum and I almost didn’t go to the woods, but then I remembered the quote: do all three! So, I drummed my drum and I danced from stone to stone and while I danced I sang the “dance in a circle of women” chant we learned at GGG. While I sang, I felt a little sad that I was dancing alone and not actually in a circle of women, but then I thought back to my stressful day and the empathy offered by my doula-friend who talked to my husband about his leg, I thought about the two other skilled professional women/friends who offered their feedback/suggestions on where we should go to help him, and I thought about my other friend offering to hold the baby so we could talk. That friend and I also had a few scattered minutes alone to share with each other about our own recent bouts of insecurity/self-doubt and how it helps to “reveal” fears to one another rather than to try to have it all together all of the time. This is its own kind of “dancing” in a circle of women (and reminds me of my hands post from a few days ago).

IMG_2604When we got home, I read this post from Lucy Pearce about creativity and it really spoke to me, especially the part about the messy kitchen!

Creativity is a revolutionary act.

Which makes you, my love, a fellow revolutionary.

Yes, yes, I know you might not feel like one right now, checking Facebook on your phone whilst you drink a stone cold cup of tea in your messy kitchen whilst the kids fight or the dog is howling to go out.

But you are.

The reason that creativity is SO challenging, is that it requires us to choose to prioritise our time and energy in a way that is not socially sanctioned or approved.

via You are a Creative Revolutionary – Dreaming Aloud.

Shakti Woman Goddess Priestess Pendant, Necklace (medium-sized, original sculpture, hand cast)Sing, dance, create…live!

Categories: #30daysofBrigid, drums, sacred pause, self-care, Womanrunes, women's circle | Leave a comment

Day 17: Awen (#30DaysofBrigid)

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This goddess sculpture reminds me of being open to change and to flowing inspiration.

Can I trust the rhythm?
Can I embrace the flow?
Can follow inspiration?
Can I heed when to let go?

I feel like I am in the process of learning, or re-learning something lately. Perhaps it is simply being the mother of a baby again, but perhaps it is something deeper that wants to shift. Either way, when I got the 30 Days prompt this morning, I knew exactly what my response was to the prompt of “flowing inspiration.” One of the mottoes or reminders that I wrote down in our Shining Year workbook this year was to follow the inspiration. Life unfolds much more beautifully, creatively, productively, and powerfully, when I don’t “force it,” but instead sink into my heart space first and feel what it is I wish to do next. I have an ongoing issue with turning every “could do” into “should do,” every fun idea into work, and every possibility into an obligation. That said, I also have been reminded that while I give myself very little credit for being flexible and in fact makes jokes about my lack thereof, but in reality, I demonstrate a lot of flexibility every day–I just don’t always like it and I argue with it, but I flex and bend every. single. day to respond to what is around me and what a situation requires from me.

One of the things I realized recently is that I really shouldn’t have planned to do monthly Red Tent and monthly Full Moon circles throughout the coming year, because planning and facilitating 24 rituals is simply a lot. When I had the idea, I was thinking month by month, instead of realizing that I was committing myself to TWENTY-FOUR rituals. That is simply too much to expect of myself while also mothering a baby (and other kids!). And, it is also too much to expect of those around me. While the only person who would actually have to show up for all 24 would technically be me, that much participation is a lot to ask of my friends as well and a lot of dates to add to their calendars! I’m trying to remember to check in with Future Molly when I make plans for this year and Future Molly predicts that attendance and enthusiasm for either or both events will wane with “too much,” particularly after midsummer when people are traveling and then into fall when they are beginning to switch into holiday mode. So, I’m pledging to myself that I will look at the rhythm of each month as it flows before deciding which/what/when/how many events to plan this year. I wonder why I thought I needed to commit to an entire year of anything, rather than simply seeing what makes sense over time and what I, and those around me, will enjoy? Something like 8 rituals for a year sounds like a much more reasonable and enjoyable general plan! (not including private  family rituals or personal rituals)

Back to flowing inspiration though. This is where I feel it:

IMG_2580And, this is why:

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This weekend, I followed the inspiration when it said SCULPT instead of do class prep and all of these new pendant prototypes were the result! Now, to wait for the time and space and moment in which to mold and cast them…

Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you

Are not lost. Where ever you are is called HERE.

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,

I have made this place around you.

If you leave it, you may come back again, saying, HERE…

–David Wagoner, in Life Prayers

via Stand Still… | WoodsPriestess.

I’m also reminding myself to flow with milk time…

Give up your calendar and clock,

start flowing with milk time.

via Surrender? | Talk Birth.

Unclench your life.

That’s what I wish to flow with and into.

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Awen symbol pendant Mark carved for me for Solstice.

 

Categories: #30daysofBrigid, nature, quotes, ritual, sacred pause, self-care, woodspriestess | Tags: | 1 Comment

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