Switch Off Sunday: Three

Hola gorgeous Goddess,

It’s that time of the week again… Switch Off Sunday!

Each Sunday, I take either the whole day or the afternoon off from being online.

This Sunday, I’m going to try something revolutionary.

I’m going to take the whole day off! HURRAH!

Welcome back, sacred Sunday!

Last Switch Off Sunday recap

But first… how did my last Sunday go, once I actually got off my ass and switched off my laptop?

My hunky met our friend Kayles at a Medieval Fair, and we had a hilarious time watching knights & ladies racing their steeds along & cutting the heads off cabbages on sticks. We also made up rather elaborate stories of our roles in the whole fair. Chris was Mervin (Merlin with a name-update), I was one of the Priestesses of Avalon who took Merve as a consort, and Kaylia was another Avalonian Priestess who was spying out the knights to decide who she should take as her Stag King for the Night of Betadine.

Oh yes, we were silly, and it was FUN.

Other points of miraculousness from my Switch Off Sunday was making more headway in our Mission Make Room For Baby. I’ll do a post all about that this week!

So today…

You are so welcome to join me in switching off, for the day or the afternoon or two hours… and re-discovering the joys of being switched onto life outside the laptop.

Facebook, Google Reader, Twitter, blogs and your inbox will all be there tomorrow waiting for you. But Sundays are for beautiful recharging ūüôā

Here’s some ideas for what to do to make today your own Switch off Sunday:

  • Make a herbal healing bath… crush up some lavendar heads, or drop in some chamomile tea bags… scrumptious!
  • De-clutter. Get rid of something. You will feel SO much lighter!
  • Do some space clearing in your home.
  • The¬†Meditationap is your friend.
  • Sort your bookcase by colour, theme, or alphabetically.
  • Watch an inspiring movie.
  • Write your Things To Do This Life list.
  • Perfect the Art of Doing Nothing.

Sounds divinely delicious, no?

My plans for my Switch Off Sunday:

After The Week That Sucked Big Donkey Balls (read: trying to settle buying a house, family stresses, and wrangling with a bank who I Now Officially Hate), I am allllllll ready for a Sunday that is silly and sacred and sweet and soft.

So here’s my plans:

  • Meet up with dear friends at the markets for the morning. It’s pretty much the most wonderful markets ever – they are held in a big paddock, under big eucalyptus trees, filled with stalls of delicious food and craft and food and did I mention there will be food there? I’m planning a tour of gastronomic delights! That, and hugs. Hugs required this week!
  • Continue on with Mission Make Room for Baby… keep sorting through some old projects and get our two spare rooms sorted into Baby Space & Guest Space. Sounds boring – but it feels utterly sacred and life changing for me. Along the way, I’m letting go of so much old stuff… to make room for all the beauty that is coming.

  • Read some more of Living the Good Life: How One Family Changed Their World From Their Own Backyard.

Time to switch off… and sup on this sumptuous day.

What are you planning for your Switch off Sunday?

love you big time,

Gems of Joy

Hey gorgeous goddesses,

I’m not gunna lie. This week has been a big one. When I say big, I mean sucky, as in: “I-suck-donkeys-balls.” Yes, I just went there.

It’s been a cosmic, mundane combination of weird stuff happening and other stuff going wrong, and Leonie getting cranky, tired, burst-into-tears-ish, all mixed in with Transformation Cycle (those 40 days leading up to your birthing day that tends to bring with it a whole bundle of old karmic crap to be dealt with). Oof.

My dear friend Sone & I joked that we would call it the “Week of WTF!”

I’m really, really ready for it this week to be complete.

And I’m really, really ready to get back to smooth, happy sailing aboard the Good Ship Goddess.

So I’m gunna cheer myself up… by collecting some Gems of Joy in a soft basket. I’d love for you to add your own gems that have brought you solace & goodness.

Remember the Night Rainbow

A darling friend sent this one out this morning, from a children’s book. Utter perfection.

If tomorrow morning the sky falls… have clouds for breakfast.
If night falls… use stars for streetlights.
If the moon gets stuck in a tree… cover the hole in the sky with a strawberry.
If you have butterflies in your stomach… ask them into your heart.
If your heart catches in your throat… ask a bird how she sings.
If the birds forget their songs… listen to a pebble instead.
If you lose a memory… embroider a new one to take its place.
If you lose the key… throw away the house.
If the clock stops… use your own hands to tell time.
If the light goes out… wear it around your neck and go dancing.
If the bus doesn’t come… catch a fast cloud.
If it’s the last dance… dance backwards.
If you find your socks don’t match…. stand in a flowerbed.
If your shoes don’t fit… give them to the fish in the pond.
If your horse needs shoes… let him use his wings.
If the sun never shines again… hold fireflies in your hands to keep warm.
If you’re afraid of the dark… remember the night rainbow.
If there is no happy ending… make one out of cookie dough.
– Cooper Edens

Do The Dance

My love found this this morning… a reminder that healing can happen… that music and dance and art can be the healing-bringers…

Art Every Day

I always¬†want to participate in Art Every Day Challenge in November – or¬†Nanowrimo. Alas, November is my sacred month of birthing days (both my love & I) and I know it’s not the right time to be trying to push stuff out into the world while I’m in the throes of transformation and then celebration.

Still, I can feel these surges of creativity coming up inside me… hankering for a new project.

I’m really excited about my darling friend Leah creating the Art Every Day Month Survival Guide

hmmmmmm….. what shall I create next?

Nothing makes me happier than thinking about my next project :).

Photos of Love

I’ve been editing photos from a beautiful maternity session with the precious Goddess Kristin & her lovely husby.

Two so in love + growing a new little soul + surrounded by nature = good for the soul.

(Full post to come soon)

Your gems?

What brings you solace & joy, dearest?

Birthing Stories: Sacred Adoption by Lis

I’ve been craving circles of women who have experienced birthing, wanting to hear their sacred stories. I’m so grateful & blessed that mamas from around the globe have agreed to speak their stories to me, and to us… I want to weave a woven wicker basket of mama’s birthing stories for us all to hear in our hearts.

This week, the precious Goddess Lis shares how her daughter came into her life through adoption, and the birthing of their family…

How my daughter came into my life: wow.

I think a lot about her story and how to tell it to best express the magic and the love of the Universe in providing us with gifts beyond the scope of our imaginations.

I guess I should start by saying my husband and I were not sure we were going to have a family and then at the age of 41 I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant. And while that soul was not to manifest through me, I always believed that it had been sent to pave the way for the child that was destined to be in my life.

We went about things the old fashioned way, but at 41 – 42, time was an issue. I¬†was ready to be a mama and a year into trying, I realized maybe I was praying¬†for the wrong thing. I was at my friend’s temple (called the Power of Love¬†Temple built to honor her guru, Swami Kripalu; I was trained in the same yoga¬†tradition) and it was the Harvest Moon. Someone told me I should make a wish¬†while standing under the full moon, so I thought for a moment and instead of¬†asking to become pregnant, I prayed for a healthy baby. Three months later, I¬†had my third miscarriage.

It’s hard to explain, but somehow I knew the way we were going about things was¬†not the right path. Shortly after this, international adoption kept popping¬†into my world. There was an article in the morning paper and then driving to¬†work the radio announced an informational meeting for families interested in¬†adoption. I jumped onto the computer and started researching adoption and¬†finding all these blogs written by families while in China to adopt their¬†daughters. The more I read, the more I realized adoption was the way to make our¬†family. It just felt right in a way that pregnancy had never felt to me.

The whole process from paperwork to receiving the referral for our daughter took about 18 months. During the wait I was teaching prenatal yoga classes and was blown away by the similarities between my students and myself. While I was not physically pregnant, I was moving through similar emotional and energetic experiences to my students. I would be obsessed with cleaning out closets and then go to class and my students would talk about their cleaning and nesting! It was an amazing gift to be part of that circle and to realize we all were transitioning into a new role and our feelings were the same even if our processes were different.

When we finally received the referral for our daughter, I was so scared! She¬†was so beautiful, but so solemn and serious looking in the photographs. I could¬†tell from her picture she had a very VERY strong personality. It’s all very¬†surreal because you are given just little bits of information and 3 pictures.¬†So we knew she liked to play with a red ball, or she would watch others¬†carefully before joining in and would show signs of happiness when she would see¬†her bottle coming. When I saw her birthday, I quickly pulled out a calendar and¬†realized she was born 2 days before the Harvest Moon when I had prayed for a¬†healthy baby. And here she was!

After you get your referral, you have to wait for travel approval and for more¬†paperwork to be filed. We waited 2 long months before we could travel to China.¬†We traveled all day – I don’t know how many hours – and arrived at night to our¬†hotel. The next afternoon we would be receiving our daughter!

Again, it is hard to put into words the sensation of being handed a child – your¬†child! – with a simple “here she is” from the nanny. She was placed into my¬†arms and she immediately grabbed on to me like a baby koala clinging to its¬†mother. Only later, when we got to know her real personality, did we realize¬†how subdued and in shock she must have been those first few days. But she gave¬†herself over to us, trusting us in a way that is really unimaginable to an adult¬†mind. She is someone who lives her life going forward and that was apparent¬†from the start.

That first night, she fell asleep on her daddy’s chest and we were a family.¬†Every night she would lie on top of one of us until she drifted off and we could¬†put her in her crib. But before she fell asleep she would just look into your¬†eyes with such wonderment and amazement, like we were her miracle. I vividly¬†remember one night when she gazed at me with such tenderness, stroking my cheek¬†and cooing and I knew we both had fallen in love with each other. A few days¬†later, we had her down in the hotel playroom. She had not walked yet and while¬†she was old enough to be able to walk, we were not sure she could. I stood her¬†up on wobbly legs, scooted a foot or so away from her, held out my arms and said¬†“come to mama!” And she toddled towards me, a huge smile on her face, and¬†collapsed into my arms with her first real giggles. We repeated this over and¬†over and my husband later told me, in that moment he knew we were all going to¬†be okay.

There are so many moments from that trip that constitute our “birth story.”

Our family was birthed over several weeks in China.

We still look at the videos¬†from that trip and our daughter laughs to see herself as a baby. I think the¬†range of emotions and experiences that play out during birth and delivery take¬†place similarly in adoption, but just over a longer period of time. There is¬†the fear, the doubt, the concern “am I up for this” and “I don’t know what I am¬†doing!” And then your child teaches you to trust your instinct, to just love and¬†to know that that is enough, that you are enough. My daughter is my greatest¬†teacher, my greatest love and my greatest challenge. I cannot imagine loving¬†anyone as much as I love her. As she says to me, “I love you to all the gassy¬†and nongassy planets and back again.”

She has taught me that Love is truly the vibration that set our Universe into motion.

Our family birthday is August 22, 2006 so we’ve been a family for a little over¬†3 years now. ¬†Our daughter, Clara, was 23 months old when we adopted her.

The medicine and lessons my daughter has taught me: I joke that she is polishing¬†my rough edges, but¬†really she has shown me the places where I need to work on myself:¬†my attachment¬†to needing to feel in control, being right, looking “right” to the outside¬†world. ¬†Now I see this life as such a gift; our being together a precious thing¬†that should be celebrated everyday, which may mean joining in when she¬†spontaneously starts dancing or singing in public!

The biggest lesson or gift she has given me is a renewed trust and knowledge that the Universe always provides what is in our best interest.  I now fully embrace the idea of karma yoga in the sense of doing my job, doing my best and then surrendering to the Universe the outcome of my actions.

Even when the outcome is not what I anticipated, whatever does happen is a blessed gift greater than anything I could have envisioned for myself.  My daughter is proof of that.

Why did we choose each other?  I definitely believe she called out to me, sparking my prayer to that full moon.  I think we needed each other to reaffirm the power of love to heal all wounds.  Her story is still unfolding, but I hope that the love we shower upon her is teaching her that her life is cherished, secure and full with possibility.  I know she inspires me to be the best me I can be.  She is such a strong person, a powerful force, she has taught me to embrace and express my power.

Love, trust and joy: those three words describe our relationship and I think we came together to experience those gifts.

Dearest Goddess Lis… thank you for sharing your beautiful, exquisite, family-birthing story with us… I am so very touched by you, your family & your experiences. You are a magnificent mama goddess!

Hearts wide open to miracles,

Because of You, I am Me

Dearest Mama,

Because you are you, I am me.

For all my life, you have nurtured me, loved me unconditionally and believed in my gifts.

You encouraged me to try whatever my heart called me to do.

You taught me that there wasn’t such a thing as failure, and that I could do anything my spirit wanted.

You taught me that life was a grand adventure to be explored and enjoyed.

For twenty-seven years (plus the nine months I lived in your womb), you have dedicated yourself to making me feel safe, loved, inspired and becoming the best me I could be.

You have given the same to my four precious siblings, and your three (nearly four) grandchildren.

You have nourished hundreds of other children as a childcare teacher & support worker.

You have shown me – just with the way you are – that motherhood is a gift, is a joy and can be as fun as you want it to be.

Even now, when I see you with children and your grandchildren, I see the way you light up from the inside out, and how they see that they make you light up, and they light up too.

Your love has always been the safe place in my life and my world.

Even now, as I become a Mama, I see this unbroken link of love and comfort. You still radiate to me your love and joy, giving me the safe place to be as I am. Even now, as I become a Mama, I realise just how much I still need my own Mama. At 27, you still tell me that everything is going to be okay, and that I can do anything I want… and I believe you.

You believed that your soul purpose this life was to be a Mother.

I want you to know that because you are you, I am me.

And when I told you this, you said:

When I became a Mother at nineteen, that is when I found myself. That’s when I learned my lessons. In becoming a Mother, I became myself.

I hope I can give my own child the same unconditional love you gave me, over and over. I hope I can teach them how loved they are, just for being who they are. I hope I can give them the gift of themselves because I am me.

Thank you for being my mama, mama.

I am so grateful we chose each other.

With all my love & beyond…

Interview with Joanna Powell Colbert – Creator of the Gaian Tarot

Hola gorgeous Goddesses!

A special post to share with you today… an interview with Joanna Powell Colbert, the creator of the Gaian Tarot.

Joanna has been in the process of creating her Tarot for ten years now, documenting it along the way on her website – and the deck is finally complete!

I’ve been watching Joanna create the deck for about four years, and adore the way she uses the Tarot concepts, and transforms them into her own love song about the earth, the goddess and her spiritual journey.

Check out the beautiful video above of her tarot artwork {with stunning music by her hubby!}

Joanna is an artist and writer known internationally for her mythic art and her Tarot deck-in-progress, the Gaian Tarot. Her artwork and writing have appeared in the magazines SageWoman, Circle and PanGaia as well as many other alternative publications. Amber Lotus Publishing Co calls her one of ‚Äúthe most accomplished and well-loved artists in the Goddess-spirit community.‚ÄĚ Joanna has taught classes on the Tarot, women‚Äôs spirituality and earth-centered spirituality in the Northwest since 1991. The Gaian Tarot combines Joanna‚Äôs love of symbolic, archetypal art with the mysteries of the natural world. The first edition of the Majors-only deck sold out before it was released. The entire deck and book will be released as a collector’s edition in Spring 2010, then published by Llewellyn Worldwide in September 2011. Joanna currently has a special until November 3rd on pre-orders for the Limited Edition set.

How did you have the calling to create the Gaian Tarot?

In the late 90’s my spiritual path shifted away from ritual and Tarot and books. I began to focus on learning directly from the earth Herself. I heeded Starhawk’s comment that “for pagans, Nature is our Holy Book, and most of us are illiterate in it.” I put aside Tarot cards and other systems of divination and instead began to study the native plants and wildlife of the Place where I lived, which was a small rural island in the Pacific Northwest of the US. I learned to connect directly with the energy of the earth and the sea. In the fall of 2000, I traveled to Chicago as the Artist Guest of Honor at a conference, and was challenged by a woman that I met there to create a Tarot deck. It seemed to me that she spoke with the voice of the Goddess, and I took the challenge on. Later I realized that the perfect theme for me would be to combine everything I’d been learning about living in harmony with the earth, with the rich archetypal imagery of the Tarot. It’s been a grand ride.

How is the Gaian Tarot different from other tarot decks?

It’s multicultural and contemporary, and is not an esoteric deck. While I stayed true to the classic Tarot structure and was inspired by the Rider Waite Smith deck, the deck is not a reworking of familar RWS imagery. With each card, I asked myself: Where is the voice of Nature in this card? I wanted to show a community of people, plants and animals all living in harmony with each other and the planet. In some ways the deck is a vision of what it could be like to live in the world. But it is a vision rooted in reality. All the figures in the deck are people that I know, or are based on people that I know. Also, every card, even the challenging ones, offer advice and counsel on how to triumph over that particular challenge.

What are your three favourite cards (and interpretations) from your deck?

It’s pretty hard to narrow it down to three cards! These are my three current favorite cards. (Earlier I would have put the High Priestess and the Canoe at the top of the list.)

3 of Earth – I love this one because it shows the bonds of friendship between women, and more specifically because it reminds me of my Friday night circles with these three women when I lived on the island. There’s a lot of warmth and joy in the image. The interpretation is: communal creativity. Getting together with others to create something for the good of the community. In this case, the women have gathered herbs and are making tinctures, salves and potions, for the healing of bodies and spirits.

9 of Water – This one is a self-portrait from the day I visited Merlin’s Cave in Tintagel, Cornwall, UK a few years ago on a women’s “Journey to Avalon” with Mara Freeman. The cave had incredible energy, and I stepped up, opened my arms and began to sing to the Ocean Mother. It was one of the most ecstatic mystical experiences I have ever had, and the image on this card (based on a photo taken by one of the women with me that day) perfectly captures the memory of that experience. The interpretation is: communion with the Divine, mystical experience, merging with All That Is. In this, all our dreams and wishes are fulfilled.

Guardian of Water – I have a particular affinity for the Ocean Mother, in all the ways she manifests around the world. I love this piece because I think it perfectly captures the compassion of Tara and Kwan Yin, pouring out the waters of mercy upon a troubled world.

How did you find the images for each of the cards – did you search for them, or did they come to you?

They came in many different ways. Sometimes they were inspired by other artists’ work. Sometimes the idea came to me through an intense study of the card. Sometimes an image arose in meditation or a dream, sometimes through deep thought and focus. Sometimes I “recognized” the card when I saw it, out on a walk (that’s the way the Death card came to me). I think creative inspiration is a Mystery.

What message does the Gaian Tarot whisper?

Go outside. Connect with Mama Gaia in whatever way works best for you. Discover what your gift is, and give it to the world. Do your part to heal yourself, your community, and the planet.

How did you discover the Goddess in you?

Oh my. That’s going back a few years. I spent most of my 20’s in church, as a fundamentalist, charismatic Christian. I was married with two small children, a stay-at-home mom with a husband who didn’t make much money. My whole life was circumscribed by the church. I don’t even remember popular music or films from that era. In the late 70’s I had a “feminist epiphany” and realized that the church I attended was not about love, it was about power. The church leadership was interested in having power over the lives of the congregation, and men were taught to have power over women. I pulled my children out of Christian school and left the church. My husband followed, rather reluctantly.

I read a book called “From Housewife to Heretic” by Sonia Johnson, the woman who was excommunicated by the Mormon church because she supported the Equal Rights Amendment in the US (which did not pass). Even though I was not a Mormon, her description of her experience was close enough to mine that I deeply identified with her. The book gave me my first introduction to the concept of patriarchy. There was a footnote somewhere at the end of the book that said something like “All over the world, women are gathering in small groups at the full moon to discover the Goddess within themselves.” I sat straight upright, a tingle going up my spine. I had to find out about that!

I discovered the book “Womanspirit” by Hallie Austen Iglehart and wrote to her. She came to my house to do a weekend workshop (this was the early 80’s) and I met other local women who were interested in gathering together to discover the Goddess. That was the beginning, and sometime later I took a series of classes in feminist spirituality from Ruth Barrett (now of the Temple of Diana in Wisconsin). It was through those small circles of women that I came into my own power and found the Goddess, both within and without. I remember coming home from my first ritual that Ruth led. We had passed a hand mirror around the circle, looked into our own eyes and said “I am Goddess.” Then we showed the mirror to the next woman and said “You are Goddess.” Around the circle it went. I walked in the door to my house that night, and my husband said, “You’re glowing! What did you all do?” I just smiled. (That marriage did not last.)

What’s next on your journey now the Gaian Tarot is complete?

It’s not quite complete! I still need to finish the book, and plan to rework a couple of the cards in the next two months. Then I’ll be busy with production for the Limited Edition, which will start shipping by Spring Equinox. I have some ideas in mind for a Gaian Tarot readers’ certification course and a Gaian Tarot membership site. We’ll see! But other than those things, I’m looking forward to exploring new art mediums, as I’m a bit burned out on colored pencil work after doing it exclusively for 12 years or so. I also have ideas for a couple of illustrated books.

Thanks so much for this precious interview, Goddess Joanna!

For more of Joanna’s beautiful work…

Visit her Gaian Tarot website to see all of the Gaian Tarot, and check out her gorgeous blog too.¬†Also check out her online oracle where you can receive messages from the Gaian Tarot. I just used the oracle for me… and the answers were deep, and just what my sweet soul needed to hear right now.¬†The entire deck and book will be released as a collector’s edition in Spring 2010, then published by Llewellyn Worldwide in September 2011.¬†Joanna currently has a special until November 3rd on pre-orders for the¬†Limited Edition set.

If you have any questions for Joanna, do let her know in the comments ūüôā

Hope you are all feeling muchos shining & inspired from this interview! It’s just so beautiful to see other goddesses living their dreams, & birthing their creations into the world!

Biggest love to you all on this gorgeous, inspiring day,