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One of a series of images interpreting a recent waking dream journey, colored markers
I’ve had a lot of time to think lately…
Over the past month, I’ve been laid up with a broken ankle and have been forbidden to put any weight on the foot for six weeks after surgery. I had the surgery three weeks ago and am getting closer to being able to walk but I still have a “road” ahead. After the six weeks, there is still the rehabilitation. My husband, other family members and friends have been wonderful in supporting me and helping me to feel accompanied. And I have figured out some ingenious solutions, like having a little rolling cart next to my bed that holds my art and doll making supplies until I can get back into my studio, (which is up two steep flights of stairs so it is going to be a while!)
It has been helping me lately to think of this time as a sort of retreat. A chance to reflect, to read, to write and to make small dolls (and teach Befriending Our Shadow IV!). Here is one of the things I have been thinking about, at those times when I get impatient with my limitations and start to expect myself to do a lot more than I am really capable of at the moment.
Another drawing in the waking dream series, colored markers
Why can it be so hard to listen to inner guidance?
Sometimes the simplest truths are the most difficult to take in. For instance, you know how important it is to slow down in order to truly receive inner guidance and yet sometimes it is hard to do this. Maybe it helps to think of an analogy of yourself, your little ego self, steering a boat, the boat of your guidance and Divine self. When things are smooth sailing, no perceived threats on the horizon, you can go on for a long time just fine. But, if, acting in fear of an imaginary danger, you grab the wheel of the boat and yank it all the way over to the other side, you can find yourself spinning in circles. When you forget this simple truth of the need to slow down before changing course, you can find yourself frantically making one wrenching shift in steering after another, in response to fears that are coming at you. Before you know it, you can end up completely lost.
Real change starts with very subtle shifts in direction
I’ve been thinking a lot about how a very subtle change, a tiny shift in the steering of a boat, is all that is needed to make a dramatic change in overall direction. With that subtle shift, over time your course changes dramatically and you end up in a completely different place than you had originally imagined. And if you are steering a large tanker, the shift is even more dramatic. Just a slight shift in the steering direction and again, the whole course changes. But the bigger the ship, the slower it is to turn. So, it is so very important to slow down this process, to make only the most subtle shifts and then wait.
Ancient Bird Spirit Crone, she provides long term guidance, cloth, paper clay and mixed media
In alignment with the Divine
When you slow down enough to notice, you have the opportunity to change direction mindfully. You and the Divine are aligned. On one level, the Divine is a current that is moving along and that you have no control over. And yet, on another level there is the element of choice, of free will. You are guided by your inner guide, by the Divine, however you want to call it, but you are free to choose whether or not to listen to that guidance. The Divine, in the form of that boat, is moving you along with the current but you are free to grab the wheel and try to fight against it. You are even free to try to sail directly against the current, which takes supreme amounts of energy and force. And sometimes you can get pretty far steering against the current. But it is terribly exhausting and impossible to do if there is a waterfall ahead.
A small child steering a grocery cart car
Sometimes it can be like the experience of a small child in one of those grocery carts with an attachment for children, that has a little car with its own steering wheel. The mother pushes the cart but the child has the illusion of driving it herself. You are in a situation that you have no control over and yet are imagining you can control. All of your furious efforts have no more effect than of that small child blithely steering the grocery cart, while her mother chooses what direction to go in all along. Your sense of control is an illusion.
You and the Divine in tandem
Ideally, when you are in alignment internally, you can direct your course in tandem with your guidance, making those small adjustments as you go along and stay in tune with that inner guidance each step of the way. The whole process takes a whole lot less effort and is so much more rewarding in the end. It seems to be the difference between acting out of fear and acting out of attunement.
"The Ride on the Big Bear" An image from the book Peterchen's Mondfahrt, (Little Peter's Moon Journey) a book that my mother used to read me and my sisters when I was little and that I realize has inspired my art today.
What does this mean in a practical sense?
There is so much more mystery and unknown in life than we realize. So much, most really that we have no control over, and that can be terrifying. And yet, we do have power when we can align ourselves with the inner guidance deep within us. How to do this? By slowing down. And how do we slow down? By taking breaths. By noticing what is going on within our bodies. By noticing the synchronicities that are going on around us and that we don’t see unless we slow down. Do you ever have the experience of saying a word or hearing it spoken and then seeing that same word written in front of you? That happens to me all the time. When you start to notice synchronicities more, it is a sign that you are more in tune with inner guidance.
That tiny, quiet voice
You are always getting messages from the world around you, from nature, from other people, from your body and from that little voice in your head. Not the noisy, yelling, judgmental voice telling you how awful you or someone else is. But that tiny, very quiet, subtle voice that makes gentle suggestions and then waits for you to act on them. For some it is a voice, for others it is a kind of knowing in the body, for others, it is tuning into those signs around them and reading the messages. It is different for everyone. It helps to stop and remember what you already have and what you have already received. And in that stopping to appreciate, you can take a deep breath and slow down.
Pushing the river
Recently I found myself starting to try to, “push the river,” in response to a sense of internal pressure and frustration that I had not accomplished everything I had set out to do that week. But I was able to stop and instead, take naps, visit with a friend, sketch in my new art journal with markers, or read more in my Harry Potter books in French (I am up to book six! I read a chapter in French and then read the same chapter in English to get what I missed.) Healing is exhausting and I needed those times to rest and recuperate. Instead of berating myself for not getting more done on a new course I am planning, or more stitching done on a series of talisman dolls I am working on, I needed to just rest. So, the subtle steering was to stop and see what was going to be realistic to accomplish in that day. Or week. But more often that day or hour. And to find gradual healing in a way that allows room for rest and self kindness along the way.
Here are some other things I have been listening to and reading over the past month and that I recommend highly.
These books: The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd, Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor, Illuminations of Hildegarde of Bingen, Matthew Fox, Travelling While Black: Essays Inspired by Life on the Move, Nanjala Nyabola, The Flowering: The Autobiography of Judy Chicago, Judy Chicago
These movies: Love Sarah, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Finding Your Feet
This series: Lupin
This podcast: A Psychic’s Story, Nicole Bigley
11/13/2021 11:25:35 am
I am really impressed with the work you have been doing lately, Erika!
11/13/2021 01:22:19 pm
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I've been making dolls for about ten years now. I believe that dolls serve as representations and reminders of the best part of ourselves. I am excited to share with you here my learnings about new methods and techniques for doll making and healing. So glad you are here!