n o s. 23 & 24

No. 23

I want to be better than I am.”

DG:  When a child says these words, it is often a matter-of-fact statement explaining why they’re working so hard at whatever they’re getting better at.  Oftentimes when grown-ups say this, it seems to me that the words are attached to an old injury, to an old belief that we are damaged in some fundamental way that will preclude us from achieving our hearts’ desires be they spiritual or material.

I would like to offer you this:  Schedule a date at home, by yourself, during a time when you can leave your electronics off, put on your favorite music and give yourself good things to eat and drink.  Once comfortable, think back on times that you achieved something after working hard toward your goal.  Maybe you were a kid and finally figured out how to whistle with your fingers.  Maybe you felt great about planning and executing your first major trip.  Once you have a few items listed, choose the one that makes you shake your head and smile.  Though It may feel strange, get reacquainted with that self.  Check in.  Look at your smiling, content previous self and ask that self, “What did you do to overcome doubt and persevere?”  Ask that self anything.  Give that self the floor and ban judgment.  Be conscious of any voices that sound off any discouraging or hurtful things.  Quiet them and proceed.  See if your previous self can muster the initial impetus for taking on the challenge – the dream.  Watch the whole movie – hear the whole story.  Now, what did that previous self do in spite of challenges?  How did that self solve the problem/s?  Once you have your answers, hold fast and know that those actions will work for you again to achieve your current dream.  You will “be better” than you were by loving yourself through the hard parts.

Token:  Please use this wool-wrapped pen to help you take notes.

No. 24

“Wrist hurts after drawing to the point I can’t hold things?”

DG:  How wonderful that you are working!  Perhaps this particular work is something that must come now, no matter the cost?  If so, I suppose it will.  Things are born when it’s time.

If there is a different kind of imbalance, however; if the work is draining you and injurious to your body and not feeding you significantly, perhaps it’s more a distraction from something you’re avoiding rather than art.IMG_1904

I would like to offer you this:  Every day, for the next 30 days, go to bed 30 minutes earlier than you normally do.  Wear clean, comfy pajamas and climb into clean, good smelling sheets.  Put on soothing music or sounds and massage yourself, starting with your feet.  Feel each toe, every bone, the texture of your skin and hair.  Thank each part of you for the exceptional service and skill your body gives you.  Give your wrists and hands extra special love and care.

Token:  Here is a stone for your pocket to remind you to do these loving things for yourself.  At the end of 30 days, pass the stone on to someone else who needs some healing.

n o s. 21 & 22

no. 21

“I want to heal from a bad relationship and be open to loving someone new.  It’s so hard to let in goodness.”

DG: Grief sure takes its own sweet time, huh?  I offer you this:  How about meditating on shifting the idea that your previous relationship was “bad” into simply that your previous relationship “was.”  It sounds like it was a difficult and painful experience, but it’s over now.  If you are having difficulty “letting in goodness,”  how about letting it out for awhile?The most powerful shift from loneliness and misery, for me, is to find someone to help out.  Somehow, through doing kind things for others when I feel most blue, I become available to witness ridiculous amounts of beauty and emotional bounty again.

Every day for the next 30 days, connect with someone in a deeply thoughtful way.  Make a difficult apology, help pull weeds, take a pot of soup to someone with a cold.  Maybe help an elderly neighbor change all her lightbulbs. Anonymously pay for the person behind you’s coffee.  See what happens…

Token:  Here is a pen wrapped in cozy wool to help you make a list of sweet ideas.

 

no. 22

“My parents are Evangelical Fundamentalists.  My mom is chronically depressed, and I think I’m co-dependent.”

DG:  It sounds like you are in pain because your mother is and you feel you aren’t able to help her.  You are definitely not alone in feeling that way!  It is utterly human to want to assuage other’s difficult emotions, particularly those of people we love and may feel obligated to help such as parents.  Have you considered finding support and tools in a group setting? There are many such groups in most communities.

I would like to offer you this:  It is my opinion that when it comes to emotional well being, we are wholly responsible for ourselves and cannot be for others.  They are responsible for their own.  To nurture your own sense of well-being, for the next 90 days, take yourself on a daily 15 minute walk no matter the weather.  While on these walks collect a stone. Contain your stones in a clear, glass jar next to where you sleep.  Allow the growing weight and abundance of the stones to ground you and remind you that you are taking good care of yourself. At the end of 90 days, continue the walks but return the stones thus lightening the load of responsibilities that weren’t yours to begin with.

Token:  Here is your first stone.

q u a l i f i e d

I created a performance based installation in a small Cedar Grove at Smoke Farm in early September.  The piece was born from the desire to be in and honor the intimate natural sanctuary created by the cedars and to connect significantly with anyone who entered it.IMG_6425

I asked festival goers to participate in the performance by spending quiet time in the space and leaving any burdens with me.  I, in return, read the burdens and made offerings of words and tokens in the form of “prescriptions” and “remedies”. The exchanges were anonymous.  I could not see who was in the space and I was in a masked costume.

Image ©Melanie Masson, 2014

Image ©Melanie Masson, 2014

My intention was to make a prescription/remedy for every person who left a burden; however, I received hundreds of burdens and did not have time to address them all.  Someone suggested I bring them home and put the project online. That seemed like an excellent solution.  I brought the burdens home and made replies to several of them (see previous posts), but the process began to feel false.  It is very different to sit in my basement studio and write to anonymous people (who may no longer care or ever read this) than being among the cedars and the people.  I felt like the project had shifted to an Ann Landers or Dear Abby sort of thing.  I also began to feel unqualified to make “prescriptions” for anyone about anything.  I am certainly not a doctor nor am I a trained counselor or in the clergy.

IMG_6430I began to tell myself that the project was over and to let it go – that it was no longer art and I had no business making any kind of suggestion for people suffering with real and acute anguish.

Then yesterday I took a walk with a close friend who is suffering.  At the beginning of her telling me her important things, she said, “This is for your ears only.  Please don’t tell anyone.”  I am someone to whom she does not need to say those things.  I believe she knows this to be True.  I respect her privacy because I want to.  It’s an honor for me.   And I know she honors mine.  Still, she said the words and they ring in my ears because it is exactly that sort of safe space, a measure of intimacythat I hoped to experience with participants in the cedar grove, if only for a moment.

So I may never know if participants return here to pick up their prescriptions, but if connection and/or relief is even a possibility then I am renewed in my energy to see this project through. The question of “Is it art?” no longer seems important.

Thank you for visiting.

 

n o s. 19 & 20

No. 19

“I have a broken, waiting heart.”

DG:  Longing can be so painful.  In longing we tell ourselves stories like “If only ______________, my life would be better, complete.”  This is not only painful but could be untrue.

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s t o n e s k e t c h

Would you be willing to try this on:  “Today I am whole.  I have enough food, shelter and love.  I will find a way to truly be of service to another person.”  For the next 90 days, begin your day with this thought and a brisk 15 minute walk, no matter the weather.  While on your walk, simply notice what’s in front of you. Every time your thoughts wander to yesterday or an hour from now, breath and bring your thoughts back to the colors, fragrance and temperature of right this minute. Collect a stone on each walk.  Save the stones in a clear jar.  When dropping your new stone in, ask to be shown who you can be of service to today.  Let the number and weight of the stones ground you.  At the end of 90 days, continue your walks but return the stones to the earth as blessings.

Token:  Here is your first stone.

 

No. 20

“My neck is stiff and my eyes ache a little from the sun !!!”

DG:  Please.  Come sit in this space.  This shadowy, quiet space.  Close your eyes.  Relax.  Breathe.

Token:  A vial of fresh, Smoke Farm oxygen

n o s. 17 & 18

No. 17

“My heart is a bit sad that I have so much anxiety about introducing the person that I love to this place and he is so insecure.”

DG:  It sounds like you are well aware of and have, perhaps, contributed to the magic of Smoke Farm.  Perhaps this is where your anxiety comes from – that Smoke Farm is a physical manifestation of what you hold dear and how horrible it might be if your love is not sensitive to how special and important this place is.  What would that mean?

I offer this:  Schedule a date to go sit in the travel section of your favorite bookstore together.  Take time to pour through the books that attract you.  Daydream together about going to a place that neither of you have been.  Figure out how you can save and plan to make your dream come true.  This may take several dates.  Once you have a plan, or before, share how you felt at Smoke Farm and that you look forward to creating an “our spot”.

Token:  Here is a small vial of Smoke Farm.  Let it reassure you that this place, and any other you love, are yours and will continue to nurture you always.

No. 18

“I have fallen in love with somebody I cannot be with.  I do not know how to be content in my own life anymore.”

DG:  Could it be that you have not spent enough time nurturing yourself and that has fostered this feeling if ill content?  “Falling in love” with people we cannot be with is sometimes a powerful tool we employ to distract us from our true heartache which stems from not loving ourselves better.  I offer this:  Make a commitment to taking yourself, and only yourself, on a date to your favorite bookstore followed by take out from your favorite restaurant.  While at the bookstore, visit the magazine section. Walk through and pick up any magazine that interests you for any reason.  Take that stack and whittle it down to the ones that inspire you to take some action.  Purchase those.  Take your stack and your take out home, get in your jammies and go through page by glossy page.  Tear things out, ear mark others, make notes in permanent ink – whatever feel good to you.  Now go through the things you’ve marked.  Choose exactly one and allow it to be the impetus for an activity that you will do by yourself, for yourself.  It does not matter if you think you can do this thing.  It does not matter if it seems impossible or too simple or silly or too expensive or shameful or whatever.  Make the commitment that you will see this thing through.  Every step you take toward the accomplishment of this thing is an act of tremendous love for you.

Token:  Here is a pen to take some notes.

n o s. 15 & 16

No. 15

“I’m scared that my temper will one day hurt someone I love.”

DG:  You have been courageous in carrying this injury for so long – the broken heart that I sense is so often behind rage.  Now, right here and now, there is healing available to you.  Just in acknowledgment you have shined a bright light on the thing that lurks in your dark parts waiting patiently to spring when given opportunity.  In your greater community you can find others who are learning strategies to manage the physicality of rage.  Find them.  I am no trained professional, but because I have personal experience with terrifying rage, I can offer you this:  Make a commitment to a 15 minute meditation every day for 90 days.  When you begin, make certain you are alone and have some water and and tissues near by.  Open yourself with deep breaths then begin to reflect on times when you felt let down – did not get what you needed.  If you feel rage – just sit with it.  Let it be what it is.  Acknowledge it and call on your courage to stay with it until it is finished.  This is a way we comfort children who are lost in a tantrum.  We sit with them and let it be until something cracks and they can come back.  Be a child in the moment knowing full well that you already have everything you need to comfort yourself when you come back. When the rage shifts it often comes in tears.  Let them wash over you until you are finished.  Thank your rage for the ways it has helped you survive then give it permission to go.  Tell it you don’t need its services any longer.

At the end of 90 days, treat yourself to something very special and begin again.

Token:  Here is a stone for your pocket.  This stone is imbued with the peace and quiet of Smoke Farm.  Let it serve as a reminder that you are loved.

 

No. 16

“Creativity and follow through.  Blockage, frustration and doubt.”

DG:

How encouraging it is for me to know that I am not alone in these feelings.  We are connected, as is everyone, through our fears.  Unfortunately, we do not value wholeness. We seek exemption from insecurity and pain instead of honoring the connective opportunity these provide.  We do not want to burden or be burdened by messy pain, but when we courageously give ourselves to vulnerability and true service, we connect deeply.  Funny humans.  I offer that you take yourself on a 15 minute walk every day for 90 days, no matter the weather.  While on these walks, collect a stone.  Store these stones in clear, glass jar in a place where you will see light shine through the glass.  Let the weight and number of the stones ground you and remind you of your commitment to self nurturing.  At the end of 90 days, select the most interesting of the stones and write a poem about it.  Return the the other 89, one walk at a time, to the earth as blessings.

Token:  Here is your first stone.

n o s. 10 & 12

No. 10

“It is so so hard to remember to stop and listen to my heart.”

DG:  Indeed!  Self-care generally is difficult for a lot of us.  To create a new dialog (habit), I recommend you commit to a 15 minute brisk walk every single day, no matter the weather, for 90 days.  Alone.  On these walks, pick up something that makes you smile.  When you arrive home, place your items on a tray that you keep in a place where you can see it but no one will disturb the contents.  After 90 days, examine your treasures.  Select your favorite and write a simple poem about it.  Send the poem to someone your heart longs for.

Token:  Here is a stone from Smoke Farm.*

(*Had you gotten this prescription at Smoke Farm, you would have received this token also.  If you would like directions on how to get this token, please email me at info@wylyastley.com for directions.)

No. 12

“brain in the way of my heart”

DG:  So typical.  Our heart holds our truth – our truth makes us feel vulnerable.  Our head often wants to protect us from feeling things it labels confusing or uncomfortable.  Occasionally our hearts are so loud that our brains have no choice but to follow. I suggest you take your heart on a date.  Just the two of you.  Take your heart to a really good newsstand – one with tons of magazines and newspapers – and scan for anything that tickles your interest.  Anything – no judgment allowed.  Buy every single item and take them with you as you continue your date.  Pick up your favorite take-out and head home (or have your favorite snacks and warm drink available (no alcohol) there).  Get in your most comfortable clothes, play your favorite music and flip through all the things you bought.  Make notes about what you like.  Tear things out.  Tear things up.  Do you want to try that?  Do you want to go there?  Spend some real time doing this.  Once finished, take your pile of notes, tear outs and what-have-yous.  Clean up your food and any mess.  Take a shower then meditate for a minimum of 5 minutes.  When you are finished and relaxed, select the item that most excites you then go to your calendar and make another date to do, see, taste, make and/or experience that thing.  Don’t schedule a companion to do this with you yet.  Your heart is directing you toward something it wants to do.  Honor it with sincerity and time.  Do these dates monthly for 6 months and you may find that your brain will begin to insist on hearing your heart because it will feel so good.

Token:  Here is a pen with which to take notes.*

(*Had you gotten this prescription at Smoke Farm, you would have received this token also.  If you would like directions on how to get this token, please email me at info@wylyastley.com for directions.)