Shine the Divine:

Creativity IS a Spiritual Practice

When we see through our hearts, we recognize that every single one of us is infused with creativity. Divine Sparks are embedded in everyone and everything. It's up to us to be courageous, to look and listen deeply, to find the sparks, gather and release them back into the universe, transformed into something new. Join me as we wake up to the sacred-ordinary blessings waiting to greet us each and every day.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Where the Wild Thoughts Are

This morning I received the sweetest message from a young cousin of mine. Her name is Sydelle, and she looks so much like my daughter Rosie that when they get together all the grown-ups have a tendency to start singing the theme from the Patty Duke show. Both girls are blond with willowy limbs and round faces. Their eyes are different but there is something about their facial expressions and the way they move that can really make you do a double take. She's been following my blog with her parents, wanting to know about her family far away on the east coast, in frigid NH (they live in Southern California). The girls only get to see each other every other year or so. This year will be extra special. The plan is to all be at my parents' house for Pesach this year (barring ill health that prevented that from happening last spring) and then our dynamic blond duo will be together again when Rosie becomes a Bat Mitzvah at the end of June!

Sydelle asked me where I came up for ideas for my excellent question! Here's my response to her, as today qualifies as one of those days where I'm not sure how to begin, but I want to write, because it is part of my spiritual practice.

"Some days I have no clear ideas and I start to worry, because I don't want to let anyone down by not writing, including myself. Then I have to remember that ideas, like blessings and stories are abundant. They are around us, inside of us in every moment, like seeds starting to sprout. If I become anxious and tighten up my mind then l risk choking the little seedlings. If I relax and just trust that they will grow, that trust seems to be all the encouragement they need. Then I just select the sprouts with the wispy branches and leaves that catch my fancy and begin playing and placing them into a pleasing form on my blog. Kind of like a flower arrangement. Sometimes it's a captivating story bouquet. Sometimes, not so much. But for me the important thing is trusting, playing , not grasping too tight and letting them grow. When the stories reach the eyes of readers like you, the light of love and appreciation feeds them and they begin to really blossom as they spark ideas and memories in your heart and mind too."

And now for something completely different!

This week at the Gnome Mound it's a party. A dog party. A big, 2 dog, doodle-poodle party at the Gnome Mound. Our friend Barbara is living it up in beautiful, sunny, warm, exotic, blue skies and bluer ocean Hawaii this week while we are enjoying our own private version of Where the Wild Things Are! Muncie, Barbara's golden doodle darling, who happens to be Ellie's favorite canine companion is here for a week of rambunctious doggie mayhem. And lots of serene naps. They are dancing, prancing, running, jumping, barking, scaring the you know what out of Chaya (our fraidy cat) and inspiring a plot to lure and smack unsuspecting doggie noses with claws cocked (from Nefi, queen kitty at the Mound). What lessons will unfold with an extra guest here to shift the typical flow of our A-typical home-life balance? I am curious to find allow my observations of the dogs, cats and humans sharing space to be integrated into my mindfulness practice this week. At this moment the dogs are resting in tandem. One on my bed, one on the floor, bodies at the exact same angle. Gordon calls them yin and yang because Ellie is a dark color and Muncie light and they have a way of surrounding the person they bestow their love upon in the moment so that one is situated with her nose facing one direction and her companion's nose faces the other way, curving their bodies around the blessed human in a circle of protection. Can you tell I love the energy and presence of two dogs?

I am continuing to sit and meditate each day (and sometimes evenings too) and have started reading Pema Chodron's book When Things Fall Apart (as suggested by my teacher/spiritual director Rabbi Nancy Flam). The first chapter, page 1, begins like this:

" Embarking on the spiritual journey is like getting into a very small boat and setting out on the ocean to search for unknown lands. With wholehearted practice comes inspiration, but sooner or later we will also encounter fear. For all we know, when we get to the horizon, we are going to drop off the edge of the world. Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what's waiting out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it."

Like seeking a story to share from life unfolding, attempting to capture a fascinating photographic image, getting out of bed in the morning, the ride to the doctor's office or sitting still...anxiety, fear is lurking. What if it's not my best writing or a really boring story with no inspiring points of interest? What if I just can't find the perfect image, or I find it but can't seem to capture it with my little crappy camera? What if I have another exacerbation? What if the doctor tells me the lesions are worse again or I need to be on an even scarier medication? What if I can't sit still and my mind takes me to a story that is too captivating and I can't settle back in with my breath? All of these scenarios are possible. All are likely to occur from time to time. Sometimes we just have to have faith that we will be ok, even if the ground falls away beneath our feet. Sometimes we just have to trust that fear, like everything else, is temporary, and step into the place where the wild Thoughts are to see what will happen.
I just watched my tiny 7 lb white kitty Chaya peek her head out from under the dresser to touch noses in greeting with Muncie (I'm guessing Muncie is close to 55 lbs). Chaya was well protected by the bureau that Muncie can not get beneath. Chaya knew this, yet she risked stretching her neck out to come nose to nose with her great hairy fear looming directly in front of her. A few minutes later Chaya came out from her dark cave and sauntered (with some residual reservation) out of the room followed gently by a curious Muncie.

Lesson 1 As a Human Observing Cats and Dogs: Greet your fear nose to nose. It might follow you around for awhile sniffing your tail, but that's just life, so you might as well get used to it and step out from under the heavy antique chest of drawers and into that place where the wild thoughts are. Maybe we can learn to make friends with our big hairy fears.

If you enjoyed this post check out Peggy's post on fear this week.

and of course jan's 28 day meditation challenge


  1. What a beautiful photo of Ellie and Chaya! Loved the one of Muncie and Chaya too! You are so right -- animals can teach us how to live, if we'd only take time to observe and learn.

  2. Thank you for this post, Laura. I've been having a moody Monday and can't get out of my own way. Your photos are fun and your words are inspiring.

  3. Guess it says something about the way my wild thoughts work that, when I saw the mention of the Patty Duke show, I immediately thought of a parody on (I think) In Living Color called the David Duke Show ("but they're klansmen...).

    It's funny how, again and again, when I don't have an idea for the next blog post, I get that terrible feeling that I'm tapped out for good--even though every time that ugly thought gets proven wrong, just as it's been proven wrong countless times with other creative projects. When will my self-doubting mind learn?

    When Things Fall Apart is a great book, particulary as it starts with a truth that much airy new age thought tries its hardest to deny: bad things are gonna happen to you. There's no way around it, so learn to deal with it.

  4. Debra it's so true right? That keen observation of animals and nature in general inspired practices like QiGong and of course watching the animals we live with will be a beneficial learning practice! They are so much more than cute and cuddly (all though they are that too!)

    Sharon, sorry about your moody Monday...probably not what you want to hear, but that's a great place to be for practicing awareness. I'm glad my post brought you some joy though.

    Dr Jay,
    I love knowing that I can be both a compassionate person and totally crack up at absurd, politically incorrect humor the...parodies that really make me think about the ugliness in the world so that I can turn that kind of awakening into compassion too. Also, sometimes, it's just plain funny. I've never seen that sketch but the ludicrousness of the title "The David Duke Show"...made me laugh immediately when I read what you wrote. We definitely don't have to be prim and proper goodie goodies to be good humans!

    As far as self doubting mind learning to trust that creativity (like love and kindness) is abundant-well...I guess that's why we practice, again and again...I like to think of it as the difference between being stuck in a rut and working to form a new groove. Groove is way cooler than rut...and knowing that we have a tendency to self-flagellate means we are already re-patterning into a groove, therefore, no longer stuck in the good news!

    Yes challenging situations always is quite often painful and disappointing, and then if we wait and watch it shifts and joy and ease are revealed again...and then we get slammed with another wave of hardship...more chances to practice finding our way through...and the wave pattern (like the groove pattern) continues.

  5. what a great lesson 1! and i love the energy my pups transfer to me. and probably visa versa too. new years, midnight, had them crowding around me, trying to get away from the noise of fire crackers in the neighbourhood and after a while, they too calmed down.

  6. Cat and dog wisdom, I love it! I swear that by observing in this way, whether it by through our beloved pets, or through nature, the lessons we need to learn are demonstrated right there. :-)

    The Chodron quote is my fave. I love this quote and call upon it often when fear rises up. I am glad that you are breathing and listening and letting go and trusting. Grace enters. We are home in the Divine and all is well...
    May your health continue to improve. May your heart continue to shine. :-) xo

  7. Laura,
    Just a note to say hello and that I am thinking of you and I hope you are doing well.

  8. "Embarking on the spiritual journey is like getting into a very small boat and setting out on the ocean to search for unknown lands" - so beautiful and so true*

  9. Shadow, Wow two dogs and firecrackers...usually it's just one freaked out pup at our house. Thunderstorms are enough to cause Ellie to shake like jelly and sound off her danger bark...Two dogs and fireworks, Oh My. They do have great energy...happy, kind, bouncy joy...I can't believe I didn't have a dog at my side until six years ago. I am such a dog person. And Ellie is a people person, so it works out pretty well I think!

    Jan that is a wonderful quote, I am really enjoying Pema's teachings as always. I would love to attend a meditation retreat with her someday. Who knows, maybe it will happen. Thanks for the well wishes...gentle steps, that's the way.

    Good to hear from you Beaux, I've been thinking about you to and sending out prayers and reiki on your behalf.

    Hele, it pleases me to know that so many of us are out in our little boats... each on our own voyage, yet we continually find companions to sail along with us for portions of the journey, to help us out when the waters become to rough...We are on our own in our seeking and at the same time we are never alone.

    Mama Zen,
    Lesson two is on the way!

  10. Laura I have known since I was a child the lessons we can learn from animals especially dogs and cats.
    Dogs with their unconditional love and cats for their independence.
    Lovely post and great pics.

  11. Our animal companions as well as the creatures we observe from a distance do indeed have a great deal to teach us. It is up to us to develop the humility to recognize this.

    And their love..well, there is nothing that can compare to the love a dog or cat, they never reprimand, talk back or try to fix things. They just listen and love as you say, unconditionally.

    Thanks for stopping by ;)


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