Saturday, June 27, 2015

Creating a Labyrinth



"Why sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." - Lewis Carroll

Dear Friends,

A week ago today we created a Labyrinth.  Why you ask?

"The labyrinth is a spiritual tool that has many applications in various settings. 
It reduces stress, quiets the mind and opens the heart. 
It is a walking meditation, a path of prayer, 
and a blue-print where psyche meets Spirit." 
-- The Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress

Well that story starts well over a year ago...

During my InterPlay Life Practice Program to become a Certified Leader we had the privilege of being at Pine Lake, GA and having access to my friend Ella & Lois's Labyrinth. Over the year I walked their Labyrinth at Dawn, in the moonlight, at noon and on my 44th Birthday last year.  It is a spirit filled, sacred place.  It was during this time that we found out we would have to move from our beloved house and find a new one to buy.


A rocks beauty revealed after the rains
When we found our current home it had a very special place at the back of the property that reminded me of a secret garden - overgrown, old trees with an entrance flanked with two large Magnolia trees.  During the home inspection is when we discovered this was part of the property and immediately I knew this is where I wanted our Labyrinth to go.

We moved in July 4th, 2014.

There have been some adjustments to this part of town (new grocery stores), new neighbors (whom we love) and me grieving the trees and plants that stayed with the old house when Spring arrived.



When Joe asked me over a month ago what I wanted for my birthday very clearly I stated, "To build our Labyrinth."  Not only was he on board he was super supportive even though it was the end of the quarter and a busy time for him with work/travel.

Invitations were sent.  Come join us to build the Labyrinth and/or come for the Birthday Party that night and place a stone.

The recommended dirt guy was scheduled for Tuesday June 16th (his equipment broke and I prayed).

Thursday (June 18th) - we went to the rock yard and bought the river rocks - an awesome birthday gift to which several family members contributed.

Friday (June 19th) - Doug the dirt guy swung by in the early morning and 'leveled" the land and moved underbrush and old dead wood out of the way.  Then my friend David showed up with rakes and a "let's do this" and we spent 4 hours clearing roots and sticker bushes and raking the dirt.  When Joe got home that night we put in some more time leveling and prepping the space.

Saturday (June 20th):

6:00 am We started the day before dawn.  Joe, Alex and I met at the center of the land and smudged and said prayers and called on all our relations to bless our project and the land and we gave thanks for the day.  Venus (the cat) came and added her piece too.  As the sun rose a hawk cried out.


The work crew (Sharon & Alex not pictured)
10:00am  Dear friends came over to help up start the build.
They came from Norcross, Grant Park and  some drove in from as far away as Newnan.  There were 10 of us that morning if you count the teenager who was sporadic and one incredibly hard working 6 year old.  Bri and Joe put their math brains together to get us started and we built from the inner circle out.


Last stone being laid
4:15 ish - We laid the last stone in the Labyrinth!  We couldn't believe it had come together so fast! We had one oopsie we had to correct in mid stride (8 paths on one side 6 on the other) but it was quickly sorted out and we were back in business.  Joe walked it off from the entrance to the center it is approximately 800 feet.  The length of over 2 football fields if you go to the center and back.

6:00pm - Friends started arriving for the birthday party celebrating me turning 45 the following Monday, June 22nd.

They arrived with wonderful gifts of spirit.  Special rocks and plants from their own gardens for the Labyrinth, drums, kombucha, beautiful plants and gnomes for the front yard, antique lockets, tea, pottery, ceramic frogs and the best of all their beautiful hearts and friendship.


Drumming on the patio before moving to the fire pit

We ate delicious food  -everyone brought a side to share - Joe and Wade cooked hot dogs and vegan sausage on the grill - and later that night s'mores around the fire.

We talked and laughed.  I walked back and forth to the Labyrinth numerous times to beam at what we had created.

Guests were invited to paint a rock with a symbol or a saying to represent them and walk the Labyrinth and place it in a special spot.


Spinning Poi
Instruments were brought out and we drummed and danced and sang and I got to spin (fake) fire with the new led poi Joe got me as a birthday gift.

It was an incredible way to say goodbye to 44 and hello to 45.  My birthday, Father's Day and Summer Solstice all in one magical weekend.

My heart was (and still is) so full of love and friendship for the amazing people in my life.

This week I've walked the Labyrinth everyday (usually at dawn) and wrote down my thoughts and things I'm seeing and hearing.  

Tonight Joe and I walked it at dusk with our two kitties joining us.

I am so grateful for this sacred space.  It is a place of contemplation, prayer and spirit.  Co-created in love and friendship.  If you are ever in Duluth, GA and want and/or need to walk it you are welcome.


The first time I walked the Labyrinth and stepped into the center

Wrapping you around with infinite love and gratitude,

Christine

  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Self Care

Dear friends,

I was talking with a friend in crisis this weekend and the topic of Radical Self Care came up.


According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of SELF-CARE

:  care for oneself :  self-treatment 
 
According to

What is SELF-CARE?

These are our daily activities in looking after ourselves. The process of looking after one's self. Avoiding all threats and issues that may make a person face irritable and uncomfortable circumstances.

What does radical self-care mean to you?

To me it's about:
  
  • Sleep - getting my 7 1/2 to 8 hours starting at 10pm
  • Waking before the sunrises to say my prayers & have me time
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Morning pages/blogging
  • Clean Eating (for me AIP works great)
  • FlyLady routines
  • Tea breaks 
  • Hot baths  with Epsom salts and lavender oil
  • Daily exercise
  • A great support system 
  • InterPlay


 Here's a great way to map it out:
 
A great tool from Social Work Tech




 What's your favorite Self-care tool?  I'd love to know!

Wrapping you around with infinite love and care,

Christine

P.S. Lot's of messages coming in about self-care...found this on one of my favorite Facebook  groups (Inner Allies) this morning:





 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Laughter and religion

“What is this precious love and laughter budding in our hearts?” says the Sufi poet Hafiz. “Listen … it is the glorious sound of a soul waking up!”


 Dear friends,

It's been a beautiful weekend her in Atlanta, GA.  Sunshine and Spring like temperatures.

 I'm been at about half speed/energy due to being sick all week.  Glad to say I feel like I'm on the way to Healthy and Well!  

Friday night I stayed in (missed a great b-day party for a friend :( ) so I could rest and recover.

Saturday we popped into a birthday party for a 6 year old friend of ours before heading out to a World Religion Day Celebration.  


The SoulPrint Players were invited to participate with our dear friend, Audrey Galex, and back up her story with a Gesture Choir.  

It was fun and educational and both Joe and I performed.   I continue to be amazed at the places that InterPlay takes me.

 We listened to some great music from members of the Bahai faith and a Muslim Sheik.  We saw a beautiful power point from a professor from Emory that was representing the Hinduism (I told him my Shiva Lingam story). 
A picture of the performers - the InterPlayers trying to get everyone to be goofy

We laughed and listened and had a great time learning about different religions and identifying the connections and themes that run through them.  It was delightful.

Afterwards it was back home to rest and recover.

Today I went over and smudged a friend's home in the Native American tradition.  More laughs and love.  

I also read a great blog entry this morning from Anthony Makar  minister of the UUCASacred laughter of the sufis.

I'm still thinking about my trip to prison on Friday and the amazing performances and music I heard there.

What have you been up to this weekend?

Wrapping you around with infinite love and laughter,

Christine

Friday, February 6, 2015

Going to Prison

Sunrise on the way to Lee Arrendale Prison
Dear friends,

Have you ever been 
to prison?  I have.

Today as I was  driving home from a terrific performance I was thinking about how to articulate the experience.


It all started over 10 years ago when Sheila Collins, a mentor and friend,  started working with prisoners in TX using InterPlay.  She invited me to participate and I definitely felt the call.  Unfortunately due to scheduling, young kids and the 180 mile drive I was unable to participate at that time. 

One of my teachers said to me recently, "When you're on this path....  

 
Fast forward to June 23rd (the day after my 44th bday) - This was the day I went to training at Lee Arrendale State Prison for volunteers.

 
Then in August my colleague  Jennifer Denning and I  started a 12 week series of weekly Friday InterPlay.  It ended up being 16 weeks of  InterPlay  - yahooo!!!

 The first day I was nervous.  I didn't know what to expect.    Pulling up to the parking lot you see the 5 rows of barbed razor wire lining the fence that surrounds the prison.  You walk into the front door and go through the metal detector.  No cell phones allowed.  ID required.  You turn in your keys and id and sign in.  From there you go out one door through  4 more locked  (very distinctive clunks) and officer controlled doors, a long walk and two more padlocked gates to make it to one of the locked education buildings.  Two more locked gates and a locked classroom and we were good to go for two hours.  


We were allowed to enter 
through the Reforming Arts Program.
 
Throughout the sixteen weeks we heard stories, used our voices to create songs and moved individually and in groups.  We were building towards a performance.

Interplay has always been Grace Making for me.  We shared that concept with the ladies.  We laughed, sometimes teared up and we danced. 

Jennifer my co-leader wrote a great blog about our experience: A Glimpse into InterPlay at Lee Arrendale State Prison.

The ladies gave an amazing improv InterPlay performance last week our program was finished for the semester.

So why did I go back today?

I was invited.  I had made connections with these women and felt called to show up for them.  Four of the ladies from our group were part of another performance group called the Showstoppers and today they presented:  Love, Peace & Forgiveness - This is Not Our  Final Destination.  They were performing for the women in diagnostics - these are the women new to the prison system.  One of the women who invited me told me she participated to help lift the women's spirits.


 

One of the women from our InterPlay group started  with an inspirational speech that was phenomenal.

Several women sang gospel songs that I had not heard before and they were very well received.

 


The ladies danced, did several spoken word poems and produced an amazing event.  It was uplifting, inspirational and expansive.

That pretty much sums up my experience with this important work.  I could tell you about the lack of self-defense laws in GA and what an impact it makes on women.  I could tell you about stories of abuse that led to bad choices.  I know most of the women I met are not innocent.  I also know they are human beings and deserve to be treated as such.  I could talk about reform.  I think John Oliver does a good job about talking about some of the problems in the system so if you have a few minutes it's worth the view:

 


 Wrapping you around with infinite love and peace,

Christine

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Enchanter's Echo

Dear Friends,

Feeling better today and and was able to get out and about a little.

Had tea with my friend, Denise, at our new local coffee shop, Espresso Theory.

Denise writes under the pen name, Anise Rae.

Her second book Enchanter's Echo of the Mayflower Mages series will be released February 17th. 
 
She writes terrific paranormal romance.  

I loved her first book - Syphon's Song.  It was fun, engaging and a great read.  I loved the characters and the world Anise built.  I love the magic that flows through her books and I highly recommend them.

Today we planned a book release and signing party.  She will be signing books and meeting fans in two weeks.  If you're local I hope you will join us to celebrate her amazing achievements.  

Wrapping you around with infinite love & creative achievement,

Christine

 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wordle Play

Dear friends,

Still battling a cold so played with Wordle tonight as my blog entry....
InterPlay Wordle








Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Grateful

Dear friends,

 I'm participating in a February Blogging challenge for inspired blogging.  Today's prompt was gratitude.  Ya'll know I'm a huge gratitude fan and have a practice of giving gratitudes on a daily basis.

I have to confess today I'm struggling a little.  Yesterday I woke up with a nasty cold.  I'm so rarely sick that I was taken off guard and surprised.  So first off I'm very grateful for my regular health (that I sometimes take for granted).
 
I am grateful that I had the energy to drive into Decatur today for my friend +Ruth Schowalter's first class in the series InterPlay Alchemy.
As always InterPlay uplifts me and helps me find grace.

I'm thankful for the beautiful sunshine today and my old dog, Merlin napping and snoring on the hearth as I write this.


I'm also grateful for art and it's presence in my life (and my family's life) as a tool, a gift and a medium for communication.

I included this sun piece I did a while back for the Daily Creative Practice  it reminds me of all the amazing things in my life I am grateful for when my head's too stuffy to think.

What are you grateful for today?

Wrapping you around with infinite love, health and gratitude,

Christine