For today’s Intentional Creativity Practice, will you ‘plan’ your creative days on your calendar in 2021? One day a week, two half days, or four two hour blocks on different days. Book your Muse time. Will you?
Red Thread Letter #831
Red Thread Cafe, Cave of Stories and Studio Wish List
Comment in the Classroom
Dear One Sarah,
I feel a bit of a strange sensation looking towards what many of us consider, holidays or holy days or rest days, and wonder how different this year will be. For many of us community creatures, it can also be disconcerting to not know when you will howl at the moon again with your group of women friends and then share popcorn, cookies, riddles, and stories. Slumber parties seem so far away right now. There are so many places to look in the coming months and wonder what it will be like now…or how long it will go on this way…and of course, I want you to know… I am thinking of that as well and also considering how we at Musea, can serve you.
What I am sharing with you today is a foundational piece of the work of making the day to day, into a Ritual.
When I woke this morning I was in that semi-dream state and I got the message to just be more open with you about how I structure my days and ways. I feel like I am, but it isn’t a marketing tactic or a tweet or a soundbite, I really truly live my life in the context of rituals and sacred spaces. If this is not of interest to you – pass it on by. However, if something in you is curious or stirring….then slow down with me…and consider some of these ideas for yourself and your life going forward. I am not suggesting you do exactly what I do – rather that perhaps what I do might spark a new sense of ritual for you and your days ahead.
You might want to get a cuppa and come back and bring a journal. If you must rush through my longer posts, or don’t have time to read Letters from the Red Thread Cafe, then I am not likely the best guide for you. Sue, my beloved teacher, and mother of my heart would often say to me – “Why are you in such a hurry, you got someplace better to be? Slow down, because this matters and how we do this matters” When we were painting she would say – “Paint like you have all the time in the world”. And in RITUAL this is how we are going to do it, like we have no place better to be. Part of this slowing down is growing older, but I now see it is about welcoming pleasure.
Let us begin with Red Thread Cafe. Since my early life, Sue Hoya Sellars created morning experiences with me called ‘Cafe’. When I left San Francisco at 23, Cafe’ became our context, every single morning. A practice becomes a ritual when it is honored as sacred. These cafe’ times were mostly about the cuppa we had, a warm fire, candle or fuzzy blanket, always in pajamas. Then there were the reading materials, or the sketchbooks or a deep conversation about the nature of the universe. And usually a kitty too.
Writing this now I can see her face by the firelight, gazing into the embers, speaking to me about the very things I would need to know to navigate my life as a conscious woman. I have brought the practice of Cafe’ into my marriage, and here for all of you. This is a sacred gift, for you. To really get, your time with your creative life force, matters and is likely very welcome to your soul.
If you are looking for a change – immediately – with how you relate to yourself, and your creative life, try cafe’. Daily. Ideally – no media before cafe – but if you get up a different time than others in your house that one could be hard. It isn’t rules, it is a ritual that leans towards sacredness. Cafe is different every day – and therefore it is always a surprise, and there is no plan usually unless someone has a readying to bring or a song to share. Sometimes you all send us things for Cafe’ and that is so sweet. We often share what you shared with us. Usually, quantum physics geeky stuff that we love.
Over time, I came to call cafe’ Tea with the Muse. And, staying in pajamas is pretty important because one of the elements of cafe is ‘cozy’. Intentional Creativity is often woven in if there are sketchbooks involved, but honestly – this kind of being IS Intentional Creativity. You are intentionally being in creative time.
My favorite Cafe is what we call ‘rabbit holing’ – but you can’t plan it. The other day we went from the 32 common symbols across ice age Europe that I put on my current painting, to our origins in Africa, to red ochre and the first artists and their cave designs. And how cave art and tools are the way we can track somewhat the cognitive development of some ancestor groups. Then I was in tears over red ochre and the red thread and then I wanted to add red ochre to the materials list for RITUAL. I didn’t, but I wanted to. Because cafe spills over into my projects with work. My work is infused with the Muse from Cafe time experiences.
I also had ‘cafe’ with my Mama Caron. Our cafe was often at the kitchen table, her favorite place, with tea and cookies and often happened in the afternoon instead of the morning. We also had cafe’ at little cafe’s in our neighborhoods where we lived, because my mother was often in search of hot cinnamon rolls and coconut cakes and yummy things. These are sacred times with my mother and our conversations were mostly about God and love. Last night we had cafe over zoom with my Mama Cloud and Papa Jimmie and we talked about Die Wise by Stephen Jenkinson.
In my early twenties, my mom also taught me the ritual of Sabbath-keeping, from her Jewish/Christian practice – where you start resting Friday night and through sundown Saturday. I have largely kept the Sabbath, most of my life, and lately, I need to deepen the commitment. This is a big thing and has many stories connected with it – but for my mom and me, it was about resting in God and letting of all other things. Even when I had a gallery, I didn’t work on Saturday. The practice of Sabbath is like one long cafe’ and wow – it is wonderful. You could try this even without a spiritual framework – if you feel called.
You might think your children or family won’t want to do these things. But if you can lure them, perhaps with cookies or other treats – once they experience it – many will ask for more time where you aren’t rushing them and you to the next thing.
This Fall, based on the darkness of evening hours living on a mountain where it is really dark at night – we have a new ritual. It begins at sundown, called the Cave of Stories, and pretty much goes until bedtime. This is when ideally all devices go away (unless they are delivering creative media). There is a cuppa tea, wine, or whiskey – your choice and once again there is a fire, or candles, or a warm amber light. Then comes the reading of telling of stories.
Sometimes it is songs that are story-like or epic tales. I will be honest that the easiest material for me to do cave of stories with is Dr. Martin Shaw, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, and Sharon Blackie – whose business is that of storytelling. This context of stories changes the very fabric of the evening, turns us towards restfulness and connection.
We don’t often watch movies, television, or the news, and while I know it can be a big change for a couple or a family to turn toward cozy with stories – If you just try it for a few nights you might just be amazed….and how that then informs your dreams and your sleep. When you go to sleep you know that when you wake up, cafe is coming. The Muse will be meeting you instead of being elusive if you show up in the courtship that she requests. Which is often to slow down, enjoy a cuppa, and bring your journal and see what she has for you.
There are so many things I want for our community in 2021. Yet the one that comes so clearly for me is the richness of rest. Not just time off, not just sleeping, but an approach to living that is truly mindful. A slowing down that goes deep into our bones. Where are we rushing off to anyway? The Muse, ya’ll she won’t be rushed. Once she is in your presence, she may make you move fast with passion, but it isn’t the same as rushing. I am looking forward to living, with many of you for an entire year on one painting, that is going rather slow dear hearts.
The other thing we are working on behind the scenes, for MONTHS is creating more powerful connections in the circle calls we are having. To live out the Legend of the Red Thread, that we are called to this circle, that we belong here, that we have our own unique piece of red thread, and that we will witness one another. So much goodness is here between us all.
We don’t know what the future holds, so you may as well hold a teacup and a paintbrush. And to know that around the world, many others are holding this kind of presence with you. I take comfort in knowing, that pretty much all day long, there are women around the world practicing Intentional Creativity with me. This is my quantum mysticism, but I feel I can feel you with me where I am.
For those of you who are joining us for RITUAL in particular, that would like a splurge for you for 2021, here is my list that I just made happen for myself.
- Electric teapot for my art studio
- Special teacups and tea and honey, right there in the studio
- Newly transitioned painting robes and slippers or painting outfit. Instead of the most messed up thing, what if you choose something glorious and get paint on it, as long as it is comfy.
- Leopard fuzzy blanket (hard call between leopard and hot pink)
- Bathmat or rug for softness under my feet when I paint or work at the computer.
These are small things, yet huge things that set us up for experiences in our lives and in our art studios. So often we are rushing about and busy and feeling a lot of anxiety in the uncertainty of our days.
Yet. If you will pause for the Muse. More peace, play, and restfulness can come into your life today. Yes, today. This has an instant result on your nervous system dear hearts, and with time, the practice can become a ritual.
Things are going to continue to challenge us my Beloveds, but we have the inborn tool that is alive in our bone memory, creativity. When you create, you activate your life force. The more you do this with mindfulness, the more you that you will be and the more you will be able to inhabit your own consciousness.
What happens if we no longer reach for certainty and instead, reach towards curiosity and creativity? Let’s try.
Love you. Plain, simple truth. I love each of you in that big way that love moves beyond reason.
When Sue taught me Intentional Creativity – one of the big practices was feeling and sending love towards women I had never met and may never meet. The first time I did it, changed my entire ‘motherboard’ as a human being. I am still at it today at 50.5 years old. Practicing feeling and sending love. I am sending some now along the red thread…
Did you get it?
Yours along the red thread,
Here are photos from the late seventies, Sue looking at me as I read to a young girl, Christina who lived down the road from us, and then my mom Caron taking her turn. We were reading Gynecology by Mary Daly. Yes, I know, I am lucky to have two Mamas who never made me feel worthless or ashamed. I hope I do my job by sharing this big love with you. I do try.
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