Monday, December 23, 2013

Soul Collage: This Woman's Issues

Mind Map of I Am the One Who Defines Myself Despite Convention
I Am the One Who Defines Myself Despite Convention

This card initially surprised me.  I thought I was going to make a card to celebrate the solstice during the 
SoulCollage group on December 21st but this composition emerged from my unconscious/conscious
instead.  It started with a poetry magazine image which was a collage comprised of fragments of images of
women from glamour magazines.  The poem was about feeling fragmented.  I then found the ancient stone
steps/wall which I cut apart and rearranged, as I did with the glamour images.  Somehow the dark
silhouette of a mosque seemed to fit into the foreground of this card.  

I just noticed that the religious building is in the foreground, the ancient bricks of a wall or steps are in the
mid ground, and the images of the women are in the background.  This arrangement is a metaphor all in itself.
I must acknowledge that I arranged things in this order--and so I see how my mind places what is closest,
a step away, and farther away.  Is this my unconscious understanding of what is important?
Perhaps it is the order of what has been important in shaping my ideas of how I am valued as a woman.
And how I value myself.

At first I reported to the group that this card was another one of a series of "enigma" cards for me.  Images
seem to belong together but my conscious self has no idea what it "means".  I just created a mind-map to try
to unlock my associations.  I really recommend using this form of free writing to gather your associations.

I am now remembering what I told the women at that meeting: that the Solstice represents the return of hope
and light.  With the light we drive away the darkness and are also able to illuminate what is in the shadow.
In the shadow/unseen/unknown for me has been the unconscious judgments I hold related to my value as
a woman as I grow older.  I have reached that age where I perceive that men no longer see me or seek me...
I am invisible to them.  Or so it seems.  But what part of me is defining my own worth as the degree to
which I am beautiful/attractive/sexy or sought after as a sexual partner?

I do not want to become asexual.  I want to be recognized as an attractive woman despite my wrinkles and
rounder figure.  But I long ago rejected many of the accouterments of the beautiful women I see around me:
high heels, fashionable clothes, makeup, styled hair and  jewelry. Actually I think those things were thrown
out with my bra during my hippie years and the woman's liberation movement.  But apparently my association
between my value as a woman and person and my own physical attractiveness was not let go of.

I also continue to see images of glamour and sexual beauty in most ads and many news videos, including the
highly styled women who are delivering the news.  In addition is the news from other countries, as well as
conservative thinkers in our own country, who believe that the freedom gained for women in the last century in
the US is wrong. Women are still stoned or imprisoned in other countries for disagreeing with the religious
and/or political ideas that have been in place for centuries.  I have been grateful to be in this country and
feel, in general, as if I have the right to express myself as a human being, without regard to gender.

But this card is telling me that I need to shift MY idea of my value. That I need to stop comparing myself to
the supermodel or sexy female rocker of the moment.  That I need to lay to rest my need to be validated by
others, especially men, in terms of my outer beauty.

Just saw this wonderful quote from the 17th Karmapa

"Do not let anyone tell you how you must look or act just because you are a man or a woman.
You have boundless potential that can only be limited when you believe that your social identity
is really who you are. Who you are is not a perfectly measured object. There is tremendous elasticity
in who you can be. It is up to you to decide the shape you give yourself."

~ 17th Karmapa

I Am the One Who Defines Myself Despite Convention
I Am the One Who Defines Myself Without Reference to Social/Political/Religious Expectations
I Am the One Who Accepts and Nurtures My Aging Body
I Am the One Who Loves Myself and has Compassion for Myself
I Am the One Who is Worthy of Love
I Am the One Who Continues to Be of Value to the World
I Am the One Who Continues to Grow
I Am the One Who Becomes More Full of Light. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

SoulCollage: I Am the One Who Seeks Healing (a record of process)

I Am the One Who Sees the Mother's Creations
This is the way the card looked in its first version.  It is an image of a green forest seen through a goddess shaped cave entrance.  I wanted a triangular shaped image for her pubic area.  I was surprised when the autumn leaf began to look like a fire bird's head.  I had associations to the bright and conscious creatures that are brought to birth by nature.  It is thrilling to count myself among those creatures.  I also had the association to bringing to birth awareness and that which has vivid life through my art.  The head also has an association to the ancient ancestors of the bird as well...this head looks like the head of a dinosaur.  This card really speaks to me about the primitive process of life coming forth into the reality of earth.After sitting with it for a couple of days, though, I realized that it wasn't done.
I Am the One Who Glimpses the Great Mother

This version of the card was the next step.  I wanted to hide and soften the
wild bird head.  That red energy becomes the energy of the earth in spring.
The first flowers of spring, the Lily of the Valley thrives here.  The flowers
are nurtured by tears from the Bleeding Heart blossom as well as tears from
the eye at the power/self-esteem chakra center.  These tears also form pools
and streams at the bottom of the card.  I also added Cone Flower centers to
define the areas of the mother's breasts.  Sitting with this card I am disturbed
by that inhuman eye.  When looking at the card it is all I can see.  The eye
appears to be looking to the left, towards the past.  My associations are to
as yet unresolved self-esteem issues tied to the past, some of them the
disappointment of unfulfilled expectations, others related to injuries to self-
esteem experienced throughout my life.  I have found that making SoulCollage
cards has really helped my in the process of recovery of my person power.

In my email I receive a note from a website I subscribe to.  Carol Tuttle is offering
a Chakra Healing class and a free chakra assessment.  I take the assessment and
find that all my chakras are strong except my heart chakra and my power/
self-esteem center.  I realize that the card with the eye is like a chart of this chakra
assessment.  My association is that I am also finally getting insurance through
the state and can finally go to the doctor and address some of my concerns
about my aging body.  Need to get a mammogram and do something about
that too ample behind.  Hmm, what do you think the doctor will say
about the 
orange bird head in my public area?  Well, it is only a metaphor, right?

I Am the One Who Seeks Healing

This is the final version of the card
I have had a series of cards, lately,
that are quite enigmatic. Hard to tell when they are done (until that final feeling).
I've finished this card by adding a leafy upper and lower eyelid to that eye.
Still journaling about this one but has to do with nature as my mother and my own
body and its need for improved health. In the simple chakra test it said my chakras
are strong except for my heart and my self esteem/power center. That seems to be
what this card is about: the strange eye at my power chakra looking to the past,
my heart a "bleeding heart" blossom. Hope to do Anne Marie's upcoming class
"Using Soul Collage During Times of Illness". A number of readings have pointed
at the need to address my health. I am overweight and need to see the dentist
and dermatologist and the list goes on. I am thankful for my relative good health
but think it is time to take care of myself and focus on keeping the health I
have as well as improve my energy in the time I still have in this amazing world.

Monday, October 28, 2013

SoulCollage: Community Card, Frida Kahlo

Community Card: Frida

My friend, Sandra, bought me a greeting card with a photo of Frida when she was in Arizona, recently.
I had been meaning to make a Frida card, as one of my community cards, so joined the greeting card
collaged Frida with a part of Frida's painting "The Two Fridas".  You can see this painting on the
Frida Kahlo Foundation's website that includes all 101 of her paintings.

Frida was born on July 6th, 1907 but changed her recognized birthday to July 7th, 1910, to coincide
with the beginning of the Mexican Revolution (and "Modern Mexico").  Coincidentally my birthday
is July 7th, although later--three years before her death at age 47.  Many thanks for most of the facts
related to Frida's life which were gleaned from the Frida Kahlo Fans site. 

Frida is considered by many to be the most famous female painter to have ever lived.  She was the
wife of famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (she married him, divorced and married him again).

She is represented as one of my community cards because she is one of the painters who has influenced
me and given me courage to express myself honestly in my work and in my life.  Frida was an
outrageous person who experienced much emotional and physical pain in her life.  She suffered
physically throughout her adult life due to a tragic trolley car accident when she was 18.  She 
attributed much of her emotional suffering to her relationship with Diego.  Frida's paintings are
autobiographical, surrealist seeming and tremendously evocative.

Many women, and many women artists hold Frida as a great woman's hero for her courage to
live her life in a highly original manner.  She was avant garde, creating her own style of art,
fashion and personal expression.  Frida behaved in a manner that could be considered early
feminist by speaking directly and colorfully and behaving in a "modern" way.  In contrast she
adopted and adapted a traditional Mexican Native style of dress.  Frida made the cover of
Mexican Vogue 60 years after her death although she was interviewed in Vogue in 1937.

I Am the One Who Is a Woman Artist
I Am the One Who Paints from the Heart
I Am the One Who has the Courage to Be Myself
I Am the One Who Reveals My Truth
I Am the One Sees Life's Pain and Beauty
I Am the One Who Sees the World
I Am the One Who Honors My Roots
I Am the One Who Tells My Story

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Soul Collage: I Am the One Who Walks Past False Comforts

I Am The One Who Walks Past False Comforts

This card pictures two monks walking past a cactus couch with watermelon slices and an
elaborate castle made of sand.  They are walking prayerfully with proper attitude and shielded
from the heat of the sun with their umbrellas.  Up above two butterflies rise.  Behind them, in
their path, a desert flower blooms.  In the deep background the vast ocean is glimpsed.

For me this card is about not being distracted on my path by my thoughts that I should have
the apparent comforts that others have who have lived a different life and made different choices
than I have.  

The big house (actually made of sand) and the couch clipped from an architecture magazine 
(which would definitely be uncomfortable) are obvious illusions.  I was stumped at first about
the watermelon but then I thought of how I keep on thinking of the sweet juicy picnic watermelon
of my childhood memories in contrast to the tasteless watermelons (probably of the GMO variety)
that I've purchased at the supermarket in the last years.  Looks beautiful from the outside but not
sweet or satisfying at all.

The blooming cactus and the butterflies were cut from a magazine picture of hand embroidered
pillows.  Certainly pillows are linked to real rest, real comfort.  These also represent the joy
I experience from creating art and craft items with my own hands.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

SoulCollage: I Am the One Who Is the Weight Watcher

I Am the One Who Loves Food

The card above was made in group and at the time I joked that it was "I Am the One Who is on the "See Food" diet.  
That is certainly the space I was in--not having the determination to limit my food choices much, and feeling
like it felt right to eat whatever I wanted to.  Pretty guilt free at the time but not helping my health.  The eyes
focused on the cupcake with green frosting didn't really seem like an image that totally fit because I am not
one to go for a cupcake.  My food passion is more related to that second helping of spaghetti, a nice slice of
whole wheat toast with butter, Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream.  

But I journaled with this card and kept on looking at it.  So last Friday I got back on the Weight Watcher's wagon.
This is a food plan that has worked for me in the past, have just been in the comfort myself with food place until now. But I've had no energy and noticing that it's been harder to breath lately.  Maybe more about getting fatter than getting older?  It was time to set a new goal.
I Am the One Who is the Weight Watcher

I started to look for an image of a fit woman to replace the cupcake.  I found the scale first, then the little
person reaching up and stretching.  Now the jogging woman on the left with her eyes on the prize 
makes more sense than a fit woman with her focus on a cupcake.

I Am the One Who Has My Eyes on the Prize
I Am the One Who Reaches My Goals
I Am the One Who Makes Food Choices Which Are Consistent with My Weight Goals
I Am the One Who Exercises and has More Energy
I Am the One Who Ages Well
I Am the One Who Loves Healthy Food

This card's message for me:
Just keep your eyes on your goals and keep on making choices that are consistent with your weight
and health goals.  Enjoy food and cooking.  You can still have an abundance of yummy things to take
pleasure in eating.  It will be so fun to find new healthy recipes!  It will be so great to feel good about 
your physical health and how you look in your clothes.

This card is going to sit in a place where I can see it on my altar.  Will also print a copy to put on
the fridge door.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

SoulCollage: I Am the One Who Manifests the Unexpected

I Am The One Who Manifests the Unexpected

First, as always, from here on out, I would like to give thanks to the artists and photographers who work makes
the SoulCollage process possible.  SoulCollage typically utilizes the images, created by others, from magazines, to
engage in sacred collage for self exploration and healing.  SoulCollage cards are not created for sale or 
monetary profit but as part of a personal, self healing process.

This card started with the young man posing as an amateur magician.  I think I had thought of making a card
for my son and my Community suit but this turned into a Committee card instead.  In Jungian terms this is
my immature inner masculine.  I am not surprised that my inner masculine is so young because it represents
the part of myself that masters the outer world and career, and I feel so young in this area.  

I have managed to complete multiple college degrees and have had a personally successful private practice
as an Art Therapist, a satisfying and ongoing career as a teacher, and my ever present avocation as an artist.
My life goals, in terms of financial success, have been elusive for me, however.  I guess I'm thinking about this today
because it is Saturday, and yesterday was payday, and I am already down to barely enough money to keep
gas in my car this week.  Did buy groceries and my son does have a nice new fall jacket.  

Why is it so hard for me to create a fat bank account?  I've gone to astrologers and psychics about this issue.
I know, some of you are saying--hey, better a a financial planner.  Sigh.  The intuitive counselors tell me both
that I was very wealthy and powerful in a former life and lost the taste for riches, and power over others, and 
also that I've spent many lifetimes as a monk, renouncing worldly goods.  Also, can't underestimate the power of
childhood fairy tales where the prince was supposed to take care of all those worldly concerns, lol.

Nonetheless,  I am still working on manifesting abundance.  From infinite resources, represented by the
ocean in the background, my young self is able to produce a chipmunk.  In the original picture there was a 
bunny at the young magician's feet, which I cut out and promptly lost.  During a search of my clippings I 
found instead this engaging chipmunk.  Unexpected but seemed quite fitting.  I had also cut out a glass
fishing net float that someone had pictured washed up on a Northeastern beach.  I had also misplaced that
clip as well but found the flower instead.  After gluing the flower down I found the float image.  I think this is
so fitting.  My paintings of flowers and flower-like mandalas truly keep me emotionally afloat.

And the chipmunk.  I looked up the associations and found that the humble chipmunk has interesting 
energy in terms of symbolism.  The chipmunk represents "wishes granted".  And also relates to the "gifts
of artistic endeavours and creativity".  It also relates to the unexpected, close observation, and playfulness. 
Further it creates secret and hidden ways of getting to its goals.  I love this playful and unexpected magic.
I relate to focusing on the part of myself that manifests through playfulness and delights in the 
unexpected.  I may not be rich but I delight in the creative surprises that appear in my life.

I Am the One Who Creates the Unexpected
I Am the One Who is Childlike in My Creating
I Am the One who Stays Afloat through Reflecting the Beauty of Nature
I Am the One Who Remains Playful
I Am the One Who Observes Closely
I Am the One Who Finds and Follows Secret Pathways
I Am the One Who is Blessed

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

SoulCollage: I Am the One Who Is Guided

I Am the One Who Is Guided

I've created a number of card this month that have been multi-layered both in terms of layers of images, and layers of meaning.  Many have also been decorated and embellished.  In contrast, this card, having only two images is simple
and straightforward.  It was at first just the picture of the lighthouse, a symbol of being guided to safe harbor.  I got the idea of adding a dolphin leaping and found this nice blue one.  Looking up the symbology of the dolphin I found
that it was an early Christian symbol.  A secret reference to Christ and Christians from the time of Constantine
and before.  

To me the dolphin more relates to growing up watching "Flipper" and also "Lassie"; being well schooled in the idea
of other species helping to guide and protect humans.  There are also contemporary stories of dolphins rescuing
children and even dogs, befriending cats, saving divers from sharks and leading lost boaters to safety.  The dolphin
is also agile, happy, intelligent, sleek and beautiful.  

To me the lighthouse and the dolphin represent help and support from not just the spirit's guiding light but also from unexpected sentient sources.  The ocean, to me, represents the great ground of being, the source of all life and the collective unconscious. This simple card gives me hope.

I Am the One Who Has Hope
I Am the One Who is Guided
I Am the One Who Finds Light in the Darkness
I Am the One Who Has Help
I Am the One Who Sails Into the Safe Harbour
I Am the One Who is Blessed and Grateful
I Am the One Who Has a Lucky Life

Friday, September 20, 2013

SoulCollage: I Am The One Who Is Neptune in Libra

I Am The One Who Is Neptune in Libra

This card started out as one that was hard to interpret. I had found a picture that looked like Neptune, in grease paint, with a flowing beard and a staff. This image was in an article about the Mummer's Parade, which occurs the 1st day of every New Year in Philadelphia. It is the oldest folk festival in the country and began with the practice of visiting one's neighbors on that first day and performing in exchange for food and drink. This led to the parades. I put this card together with this Neptune, coral, crystal floats, parrot fish and turtles.

I kept on staring at the man I had thought of as Neptune and wondering why the images included a man in Mummer drag and an artist's art globes.  I even talked to Betsy, the facilitator of the Soul Reflection Net group and the Rodeo Market face to face SoulCollage group.  She said that a card that does not respond to journaling might not be a standard Committee, Community or Counsel card and might not even be a SoulCollage card. Confusing. Unusual, enigmatic to me.

I began to do research on Neptune/Poseidon and found that he was the ruler of wells, rivers, lakes and the ocean.  The ruler of horses as well.  In a video that I show to my Humanities class, about the Ancient Grecian civilization, an historian states "Poseidon is a powerful god.  He is the patron of sailors, he protects them; he also sends them to their death".  So I was mystified by this Neptune that I chose, made up like a Mummer Wench.  

But then I found one key:  Neptune is related to mists, haze and fog.  As in "caught in a fog".  Also the dissolving of old boundaries; related to transformation and major change, as well as confusion and inspiration.  Also faith and vision for a more creative and spiritual life. I began to wonder where the planet Neptune was in my natal chart.  Found my chart: Neptune in Libra.  Did a search and found that everyone born between 1942 and 1957 has Neptune in Libra. A light bulb moment.  This lost in a fog feeling is part of Neptune and Neptune in Libra itself.

This card is another (along with my flower child card) that references the idealism and idiosyncrasies of the hippie generation.   My idealism, my creativity, my desire for peace and ideal love.  My confusion, my connection to the collective unconscious.  Neptune itself is related to not being able to quite see through the distortions of water. Illusion, and the need to press through illusion to uncover the truth behind mystery. Also in this card: the powerful trident that is a lego toy.  The beautiful glass balls with encased images of nature created by artists Paul Stankard and his daughter Katherine. Turtles that represent steadfastness and tranquility.  I should have asked this card "What is the message you have for me"?

I think the answer is to not accept easy answers and to continue to be playful, expressive and original. To remember to go deep, to explore my spiritual self, and pursue my idealistic goals as an artist, teacher and healer.  To not dismiss my youth as time wasted but to re-embrace truths I found there.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

SoulCollage: I Am the One Who Climbs Out of the Wreckage

I Am the One Who Climbs Out of the Wreckage

I made this card at the end of August before the flooding that has impacted some of my favorite 
Colorado towns, specifically Boulder, Lyons, Estes Park.  Many others also impacted.  It is not over
yet as it is still raining hard today.  I am not near a river, lake, creek or dam so I have been spared
except for a leaky roof and closed highways.

This card is not just about the Colorado flood of 2013.  It is about the strength it takes to climb, at
least psychologically and spiritually, out of life's pressing challenges.  What does it take to climb
out of the wreckage?  The right knowledge, equipment, supplies, and tools.  Good fortune created
through mindfulness, meditation, and right practice.  Grace.  In life it is likely that one will lose one's 
physical home and all that is familiar through events that cause suffering: a natural disaster, illness,
loss of a job, loved ones, personal injury, or warfare; and still attain the peace that endures.

In this card the woman, who coincidentally has the same face as the Quan Yin figure, is able to
make it to safety through her climb towards this shrine at the cliff top.  Beautiful, blue mandala-like
flowers bloom despite the shake-up below. Having strength, through  spiritual practice and the
determination to make gradual progress, allows me to reach the goal.  Strangely the goal is also
the path and the practice.  I am so grateful, I am so blessed.

Just saw this quote from post by  Domo Geshe Rinpoche and it feels connected to this card:

Among the Vows of the Medicine Buddha upon attaining Enlightenment, 
according to the Medicine Buddha Sutra are:
To illuminate countless realms with his radiance, enabling anyone to become a Buddha just like him.
To awaken the minds of sentient beings through his light of lapis lazuli.
To help beings follow the Moral Precepts, even if they failed before.
To heal beings born with deformities, illness or other physical sufferings.
To help relieve the destitute and the sick.
To help heal mental afflictions and delusions.
To help the oppressed be free from suffering.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I Am The One Who Hears the Call

magazine clips, scissors, glue-stick, 5" X 8" support

The Soul Collage  process has been calling me, and I'm heeding the call.  I've been making a card
or so a day and I can hardly tell you how powerful this process is.  In the past I've made a card
here or there for years but have recently picked up the thread because I've had a coaching client
who has been bringing her cards to our phone sessions.

I returned to Anne Marie Bennett's website and looked around.  I pulled out Seena Frost's book
about Soul Collage and enrolled in a teleclass called "Journaling With Our Cards".  The class 
just ended, although I'm staying active on the related facebook page.  I started the journal
and have committed to creating and journaling with my cards as often as I can.  

Another thing that I've returned to is this Healing Art Works blog.  I started blogging with this
site, with a  focus on art therapy and "Healing Art Works", which had been embodied in my
artist cards a few years ago.  For the last year I've been blogging on another blog, Creative Collage
4 Visual Journaling, focusing on my visual art journal pages and my group in Colorado. 
Now my art and soul explorations will include my Soul Collage cards and process.

Soul Collage is a registered trademark but anyone can click on the link in this blog for free
instruction on how to make cards.  I think I am so hooked because of the deep feelings that have
come up for me in the recent class and to experience again what a dynamic process it is to engage
with the parts of self.  I've experienced this process before with other techniques: Sand Play
Therapy, Alchemical Hypnotherapy, Dream Work, Art Therapy, art making (especially as a 
collagist), and as a Tarot reader.

Somehow Soul Collage is just the perfect inspiration and healing modality for me now,
although I will continue to delight in many of the above processes as well.