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.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Half-Cocked and Wandering Through Shadow

Skywatch Friday

Please stop by SkyWatch Friday to view amazing sky photos from around the world.

"Accepting the shadow and embracing the light is the task for each of us if we wish to become whole persons and come into individual and world balance." ~Natalie Rogers

Thursday morning there was an NPR story about chickens that are hatched with both female and male cells…they even appear to be half male and half female when viewed (check out the picture on the link provided). Gordon made a joke about them “strutting around half-cocked”. Which made me laugh, of course, but also gave me something to write about today. In a way, I’ve been strutting/limping/sitting around half-cocked (ummm, no new plumes or body parts sprouting)…I am referring to the idiom here. I’ve been harboring some anger-I’ve been feeling ready to explode…and simultaneously like a dam of sadness is ready to burst any second. My emotions are just below the gradually thinning membrane of my consciousness. Subtle actions, thoughts, observations (songs, bar mitzvah's, bat mitzvah's, above the knee skirts that just don't work with a wheelchair, watching other people dance, a sunny day, a cloudy day, my own randomly shifting voice...its a growing list) threaten to bring me to tears, create anxiety, confusion or just plain make me mad! It’s been more than a year since the first BIG exacerbation left me bedridden for months with vertigo and out of body-ness and over 6 months since I was finally diagnosed with MS, and now, I guess its “safe” for my anger and sadness to come out of hiding. Or maybe I was just too physically ill to “go there” (be here) before. I haven’t been able to write, haven’t even wanted to in a couple of weeks, so have mostly avoided my blog and every one else's, except for a couple of Wordless Wednesday and Skywatch Friday posts and popping in to say "hi' to a few blogging friends. Avoidance? Hmmm... One could say that this isn’t avoidance at all, but a time of exploring "Shadow". My teacher Jill Badonsky writes about Shadow as one of the Muses an artist meets along the way. She says that Shadow is the Muse of the “Gifts of Your Dark Side...Releasing all repressed and hidden parts of ourselves to deepen creativity". ~ Jill Badonsky (Here's a wonderful article about this by Jill)

This shadowy place is an integral part of the healing process as well. (Can one even separate healing from creativity? The two words are like peanut butter and dark chocolate for me-they belong together).

"When we must deal with problems, we instinctively resist trying the way that leads through obscurity and darkness. We wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness. But to penetrate the darkness we must summon all the powers of enlightenment that consciousness can offer." ~Carl Jung

But how do I know "Shadow" is part of the healing process? I have dwelled here in this "obscurity and darkness" before. This is what I do: I experience something traumatic, this is followed by a spiritually awakened/uplifted-heart period, followed by an emotionally neutral-just do what you have to do-be who you have to be to survive plateau, followed by a roller coaster of sadness, anger, my life sucks, feeling guilty because “no it doesn’t”- incredibly dark and shadowy phase and then into a re-integration of “all that” and a re-invention, re-creation of how to live my life NOW, until the next inevitable tectonic shift rocks my world. I can see the pattern from the vantage point of being almost 45 years old…something I couldn’t perceive when I was younger, when this “place” I am in right now would have been a really expansive plane-pain of existence I would have labeled “depression” because I would have been too frightened of my intense feelings to allow them to fully show-flow and would have bashed, mashed, squashed, quashed and attempted to subdue them out of my experience (completely impossible). Eventually after months of struggle to “not feel” I’d let go and move through the murky waters of rebirth. The thing is, I am not depressed. Having been clinically depressed several times in my life since I was in my late teens, I know the difference between what I am moving through right now (the word moving is really key here) and that stuck in the mud-mind of depression; wheels of thought spinning, not getting me anywhere. I wonder, “Will I pass through this muck more rapidly this time because I have foreknowledge of the process?” maybe, maybe not. But, BUT, at least I know for certain that there is a way out of this swamp. Something I wasn’t so sure of before. (A fact I couldn’t even imagine in times past, until somehow miraculously I slogged my way out, choking down a lot of muddy water, nearly drowning a few times.)

It’s a few weeks before Pesach. My ancestors made their exodus out of Mitzrayim (Egypt) and into BaMidbar (the wilderness-). This too is often compared to a birthing process…by playing with the Hebrew word Mitzrayim we discover the words tzar (narrow strait/canal) and mayim (water)…or “birth canal”. We could play with it further and distill mayim into a question, "ma im?" (“what if?”). "What if's", a handful of self-propagating seeds of imagination to plant in the rocky soil of “the wilderness” that is: wandering through life.

I’m not an obstetrician or a botanist but I will stake some claim on midwifery. As a teacher of teens, a teacher of yoga, a SoulCollage® facilitator, a Kaizen-Muse® Creativity Coach I have witnessed and assisted in quite a few “births”. I also participated in the physical births of my two daughters, and the process of birthing my own art and my life-several times over. Keen observer that I am, what I’ve noticed is that the “gradually thinning membrane of consciousness” (quoting myself here) breaks open to a rush of fluid creation. Familiar image?…it’s sticky, it’s messy, it’s followed by cramping and pain and exhaustion and…yes JOY! (Followed by more stickiness, mess, cramping, pain and joy; again and again and again.)

This is my pattern. Now that I see it, no single element has the ability to completely trip me up…wrap it’s tendrils around my unsuspecting heart or ankle…suck me down…overwhelm me (ok a little, but not completely). This is LIFE, this is living…Because I now understand that there is an overarching pattern (and I recognize that this could potentially change at some point too), I feel ease in my breath…less holding out…less holding in…simply breathing…a pattern, life being Life…tectonic shifts and all. And so, will I continue this half-cocked, heart on my sleeve behavior? Yep, probably for a while-this is what I do…but I also see clearly that this is what’s going on, so it isn’t so scary. MS, and its unpredictable nature, is still scary. And for me anger is still pretty scary too- sadness not so much. I do know that its perfectly fine to feel angry, sad, scared even confused and lost some days…AND I know that this is part of my pattern and down the line there will be integration and a re-creation of my life yet again. Sigh…BIG SIGH and BIGGER intake of breath…shoulders relaxing…rhythm resuming…smile returning…ease for the moment. Dayenu. For today this is enough.


  1. Isn't anger one of the stages in grieving? Receiving a life altering medical diagnosis is such a profound life change. One would have to grieve and let go of the life the person thought they were going to have, in order to accept and embrace the actual life they will now lead. Anger seems perfectly natural to me in that situation!

  2. Wow Laura this was quite the teaching. Wish I could have read this in my 20's when I never believed I'd get out of the "shadows". Wishing you plenty of ease.

  3. "Can one even separate healing from creativity?"

    Hot damn, but that's a good question...gotta admit, I haven't read the post beyond that (yet) because my brain is still having too interesting a time bouncing it around...I might have to write a whole blog post on it (giving credit where it's due, of course)...hmmm...gonna have to get off-line and go think about it now...

  4. But I do wanna wish you the best in your healing process before I go...

  5. i enjoyed your post tremendously. sorry you're feeling bad though. but i must admit, i'm feeling out of sync too. and haven't found the reason yet... hopefully it'll pass without much ado. how's that for acting the ostrich, heee hee heee

  6. Absolutely part of grieving Debra...this feels like very healthy/healing anger and sadness to me!

  7. Thanks Rocehelle...ME TOO! But we weren't ready then.

  8. Hi Dr Jay,
    Thanks and Thanks....can't wait to see where you take this idea!

    Hi Antonina, thanks for stopping by:)

    Hey there Shadow girl, I don't know about ostritch...but those hermaphroditic chickens might be really yin/yang balanced and worth imitating;)

  9. Thanks for sharing the personal process with us, of understanding and knowing the place you've come to be. It seems a step already forward.

  10. Yes. Yes. Yes. Your words have me thinking about my process, too. I love that you are willing to share what you learn along your journey.

  11. your photos mirror exactly the feeling in your writing I think, I honor your work and I know the sun is always shining just above the clouds...

  12. And now for something completely different, as Monty Python used to say -- I explain what Canadian Tire money is in the Comments to my post. It should have been in the main text, of course, but I didn't think that through, obviously!

  13. Thank you Vicky:)
    Hi Joanne...this feels like forward motion to me too. Slow but steady.

    Hi's scary sometimes after I hit the publish know did I reveal too much? And then I feel's ok...people can connect my healing will help others to open to their own stuff and do some healing of their own...this is good.

    Hi Caterina,
    Thanks...I felt like they fit pretty well with my dark shadowy feeling too...nice of the weather to help out! You are right, the sun is behind the clouds...always, always, always. And when it's ready to shine, I will be oh so happy to greet it:)

    Ok Debra...I've got to go sift through your comments and find out this mystery!

  14. oh Laura, you have put into words what many of us have experienced, but not been able to verbalise

    to be honest i sit more comfortably with the stage of being angry - for me there is more energy in that than the life-sucking depletion of deep sadness

    as you keep that breathing thing happening, [ which is a good thing by the way ;-) ] may the incoming breath bring with it some of what you need for today and the outgoing breath release what it is you no longer need

  15. Thanks you dear Kel...ahhh energy...that is good way to think of anger...that is indeed what it is. The trick of course is to transform that energy for good...perhaps your breathing suggestions will assist me in that process:)

  16. Again your way with words has illuminated everything for me. What you're talking about (in general, of course, not the MS) strikes a chord of deep familiarity. I've gone through the cycle you describe over and over again myself, as have most self-aware people, I suspect. If we live with our souls open to the fullness of life, we are in a constant state of dying/re-birthing/growing... (I wish I could type in a circle right now.) Anger can be a healthy response to such changes as the ones you're experiencing, and darkness is something we must go through to get to the light. You, my dear friend, are a very old soul who has much to teach and share, as you have done today. I send out prayers for your healing, and also big cyber-hugs!

  17. Big Smile in response to your kind and wise typing...that would be handy wouldn't it? Sending love and light to you in return...another circle:)

  18. These shadow shots are wonderful, and they capture the spirit of your words so beautifully. I have known such anger. You capture the feeling and lead the way into the light.

  19. Laura: Beautiful sky photos through the trees. My wife and I will witness the Seder meal for the first time while traveling through Europe with a group.

  20. The image of the journey, the birthing process, the experience is so powerful here. You embrace it tenderly like your own child, your own self.

    It's funny how when we were younger, we just wanted to get to the other side (as if it were any better than where we already were). At almost 37, I keep falling on my face, my butt, my heart to discover the same thing:

    We are where we are, and the cycle is so beautiful if we aren't contemplating the peak or trough, or the in between, but just where we are.

    May you be born again and again, and create more poetic prose along the way.

  21. Fabulous post, so much truth to that statement, life is full of shadows and light, great photos to go with it.

  22. Your photos with the cloud burst feel what you write.

    It is lovely!

  23. Laura,
    I love your writing. It always speaks to me. I am so there with you.
    I think of you often and I hope that you are finding some moments of comfort through all of this.
    You often relate to me how you cannot imagine what I must be going through, but it is me who feels this way towards you.
    I have my good days and bad. But I seem to be able to control them by juggling 25 pills a day. I don't think it is that easy for you. For that I'm truly sorry. It always saddens me to hear about the horrible illnesses that attack people in the world. It makes me cry.
    A couple of nights ago I saw a video of another friend who has CF saying that she had only a couple of weeks left. She just turned 22 years old on Monday the 22 of February. That is my daughters birthday. I felt so horrible that her life was close to ending. The following day someone posted for her saying that she got her call for her double lung transplant. She is now doing well and on her way through recovery. I have been crying for days from happiness and joy.
    It is these moments when I think: What a strange world I live in already.
    I can honestly say I still have trouble dealing with a lot of my emotions yet even after all these months.

  24. The photos are beautiful, filled with wonderful contrasts, and metaphors for what you are experiencing. I find that photography helps me, personally, to move through traumatic moments.

    Your prose is very intense and thought-provoking. Thank you for sharing.


  25. Hi Laura... I have a friend I've known "virtually' for four or five years. She is a MS survivor. I won't go into her story here, but if you are interested in hearing it. Send her a note on FaceBook. You can tell her Stream Source sent you, if you like. She calls herself, Annie Infinite. And, I'm convinced she is! Healing love to you...

  26. Your photos are lovely and I liked reading your story as well. I'll keep you in my prayers and hope that you adjust to your new pattern soon. Pattern changes are challenge for us all, even though when going through them we can feel alone in our confusion.

  27. Thank you for stopping by.
    The words that occured to me on reading this... out of the darkness comes light...
    We have to go to the sad and angry places to find peace. I know personally that this is true. And as a therapist I'm always preaching it to clients!
    Stay well through your own truth of your feelings.

  28. Thanks for visiting my blog. Your photos really extend the meaning of your post. A lot of pause for thought for all who read it.

  29. I love the moody scene and sky. It's only blue skies around here! So this is a nice change of pace. Thanks for stopping by at mind. All the best.

  30. What a hard post.

    Above the cloud with its shadow is the star with its light ~ Pythagoras

    I hope you find your light xo

  31. Very beautiful..
    Hugs from Norway:-)

  32. A lesson for today..... I will ponder over what you have written. The shadow has come up quite a few times in my reading the last week or so and I watched an art video about Milton Resnick on YouTube. He said the problem is people learn techniques to avoid the hole (or the shadow)when actually one has to fall into the hole and experience it. One can then come out the other side renewed and ready to go forward.
    Your posts always quieten me. Thank you Laura.


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