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, April 22, 2010

Deadwood Against a Limitless Sky

I imagine the title to this post could provoke a lot of intense feelings, depending on how one sees one’s self. Deadwood Against a Limitless Sky. The words rose up spontaneously when I selected this picture for todays SkyWatch post and then I started to think about where they came from. Yeah, feelings were provoked. On my "deadwood" days, when it’s difficult to get up off the couch because my neurons are uncooperative, or my energy level is down below zero, and I feel like I'm up against a disease that has no boundaries but limits me, I can look at this picture and see that there is more to this weather worn tree than the first glance deadwood appearance.

I took this photo because looking up from the perspective of my wheelchair and gazing at it for several minutes trying to frame the shot I was drawn to the strength, depth, character, inner light and welcoming branches reaching up into a brilliant blue, limitless sky. I wonder some days when I am out and about leaning heavily on my cane or sitting in my wheelchair, “What do people see when they look at me? Do they see me or a disability? Are they curious? Do they even notice my difference or do they just see a typical Mom out with her kids and husband enjoying the day?”

An important question for me to answer is this: “What do I see when I look at myself lately?”

All of the above. And that’s ok. I am different now. I am disabled and I am just a typical Mom, with two kids and a husband, two cats a dog and a rich inner life shining forth into the world in my unique creative way. While I have not led a workshop or taught a yoga class in over a year and I don't do as much collage work as I used to, I have discovered my writing voice, and a passion for photography. I have a couple of steady Kaizen-Muse
® Creativity Coaching clients and have had several opportunities to do one on one SoulCollage® Guidance over the phone. I have had to be creative about how I connect heart to heart with people, and it feels like it's working well. I have become connected to all of you around the world through blogging. What an amazing interactive creative medium this is along with being a truly loving spiritual community! As of today people from 70 different countries have viewed my blog. Many have left comments, offering me an opportunity to learn about your life in other lands when I visit your blogs. Heart to heart, we share so much common ground.

It is painful to feel that I am the deadwood some days. It is. I won’t deny that, I won’t pretend it isn’t true. I feel jealous when I see other people freely walking about knowing that I cannot walk to the end of my street alone without fearing that I will not be able to get back up the hill of our driveway to our house (something I can’t actually do yet without assistance)…that’s really frustrating! Not that I would ever wish someone else ill, it’s just I want to walk with ease too. But, but, but I do get out more and more these days. Insurmountable tasks eight months ago are possible. I am not the same as I was. I never will be. To expect that would mean that I have not accepted that (for now at least) I live with an incurable disease. It would mean that I don’t trust that in this moment, just as it is, contentment is possible.

I just received a wonderful book in the mail yesterday that I’d ordered from Amazon The Wisdom of Sam , by Dr. Dan Gottleib. (There you go, “reading a normal sized font in a book is something I could not do several months ago). The last couple of lines in the first chapter are already precious gems. In this chapter on forgiveness he writes, ”I believe forgiveness is a spiritual process which requires faith. Not necessarily faith in a higher power, but faith that broken hearts heal. Faith that we have all the resources to recover and be loving and compassionate once again. Faith in the knowledge that true healing is not about reclaiming yesterday but fully opening up to today.”

Let me repeat that last sentence, “Faith in the knowledge that true healing is not about reclaiming yesterday but fully opening up to today.”

*I think it is important for you to know that Dr. Dan cannot walk. He was in a horrific car accident that injured his spinal chord and has been quadripallegic for some 30 years. “Sam” is his grandson, a child with Autism. They both live with dignity and profound wisdom and inspire me tremendously. I highly recommend reading his books!

So while I'm supposed to be starting on Ampyra (a brand new medicine for treating mobility issues specifically for individuals with MS) soon and I'm really hoping I'll tolerate it well and be walking much better and for longer distances in the near future, I am grateful for today just as it is. I am content. I am grateful that I accomplish more mundane tasks within our home like laundry and preparing simple meals and that I can help Gordon by driving our girls the short distance to and from school when need be or I can make the trip to the post office. It was only a few months ago when I couldn’t get in and out of the tub alone and the staircase was like Mt. Everest! I am grateful for all the miraculous healing that has taken place in my body as the myelin partially regenerates around my nerves. I am grateful for the return of words and syntax, even though my accent is still subject to change in any given moment. I am grateful for the love and support of family and friends near and far. The love feels limitless…like the brilliant blue sky. I feel blessed to be dwelling right in the midst of it all, not up against it! I am grateful for the stillness of being deadwood some days so that I have the time and awareness to appreciate the blessings in my life.

I have been a keen observer of life for a long time, I’m an artist after all, but somehow in the past year, my curiosity and awe have deepened. I have MS, my "emes", this truth I live with to thank for that.

Ps. Deadwood isn't really's teeming with life...little critters, fungi & bacteria.

Please click on the button below to see SkyWatch photos from around the world and feel the pulse of the planet in your heart...the awe of "sky" viewed from many lands.

Skywatch Friday

Many thanks to the SkyWatch Team who make this awesome meme possible, Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy and Sylvia


  1. Dear Laura....very nice shot. I was travelling and for taht did not come here, before.
    congrats and thanks for so nice words

  2. Hi Laura,
    I am glad you are doing better now than you were before. It has only been a short time I have been reading your blog, and I hope we can become better acquainted.

    Your photo is wonderful, and you're right dead wood only appears dead.


  3. I read this. I read this slow to allow the words be absorbed to my very marrow. There is sadness here; but there is happiness here as well. There is the realization of the lack of capabilities; but there is also the gratefulness of abilities. There is the wisdom of your journey to this place and how it has changed. I believe we tend to be different people at different times of our lives. That is part of our physical, emotional and mental growth. We can never stay stagnant in one area. Some journeys require much of the Spirit but I believe these journeys infuse us with such wisdom that makes our road a bit easier.

    Fifteen years ago I lost my third child at birth. I nearly died in the process. I was bedridden for six months unable to do the simplest of tasks because of blood pressure gone awry. By the time my b/p stabilized, I then had to begin the task of making strong an atrophied body. Later I am diagnosed with a rare heart disorder that places limits to my life. A year later, I am in a different place emotionally, physically and mentally. I was not the same person anymore. I had to adapt my life to adapt to my "capabilities." The journey there brought me to a whole different place of gratefulness and happiness and forgiveness. My disability with the limits it imposed also gave me these gifts. And I sometimes wonder if I had not had to stop my crazy life and force it to calm down, would I be where I am today? Because today, I am so grateful and happy in my shoes. I do not have much, but I am wealthy in Spirit.

    And this my dear Laura is what I hear in your words. Different journeys, different disabilities but same wisdom and sense of gratefulness.

    Much blessings to you dear friend. You are such an inspiration.


  4. This is a very beautiful shot! I love it:-)
    Glad you are better.
    Wish you a blessed weekend, hugs from Norway

  5. Oh Rebecca. I am so, so glad we met and stay in touch through blogging...I'll write you a longer reply, but YES. Different and the Same.

  6. Hi Laura,

    I'm so happy to read that you have are working with clients again. You are an amazing coach with keen insight and a gentle way. As you know we all experience the feelings of being deadwood. It is after all part of the creativity cycle. I see that your experience goes deeper with your health challenges. What a brave woman you are to go deep and to share with all of us your journey. Thank you for the quote, “Faith in the knowledge that true healing is not about reclaiming yesterday but fully opening up to today.” I will post it to my FB so I can share it with others.

    {soul hugs} k

  7. Dead wood is my favorite subject for photography and the shots of deadwood with sky in the background ban be as stunning as you've shot it!!

    Pixellicious Photos

  8. Marvelous capture, Laura, love the blue sky and such a lovely old tree! I'm so glad that you're feeling better and hope you feel better with each passing day! Thanks for sharing the beauty! Have a beautiful and peaceful weekend!


  9. A beautiful and thoughtful post, Laura! Onwards and upwards!

  10. aloha,

    and happy earth day, i love your post and the quote that faith is not about reclaiming yesterday but fulling opening up to today...very inpiring.

    thanks for posting this today!

  11. Wonderful post to go with this photo. And how wonderful that you ended saying deadwood is not actually dead but teeming with life. All the best with the new medication, Laura!

  12. Heisann!

    A beautiful and very suggestive symbolic image. I will come back and read the text another day.
    Some Norwegian artists use the old tree in their paintings ex Lars Hertevig and Cappelen.
    Have a nice weekend!

  13. Lovely shot and thoughtful essay. I certainly don't see you as dead wood, perhaps resting wood at times. I admire the way you strive to reinvent yourself regain as much mobility as possible.
    My daughter-in-law is uncomfortable when she takes Michael out in public, she wonders "what are people thinking?" I tell her it doesn't matter, most are just wondering what is wrong and glad that their own children are developing normaly. Those that think he should be hidden away, well, they don't count.

  14. Beautiful shot. Wish I had more time to read the words... I hope you're ok. God bless you.

  15. I am glad you're doing better.

    Thanks for this exquisite photo. Reminds me that for all we do, we only do so much. For that, there is freedom.

  16. Great post, and how true very much in line with Sky Watchers always looking up to see all the beauty there is around us. Have a great weekend.

  17. Beautiful sky picture. The dry branches are like arms reaching reaching out to welcome life. I'm so glad you're feeling better. I'm going to check out Dr. Dan Gottleib's book, sounds good. :)

  18. The photograph is so beautiful to me. I actually love the way dead wood looks and having it against the sky is such a beautiful look.

    I am glad you are doing somewhat better. I know how it is to accept phycial changes after a major health crisis. Your honesty and ability to articulate what you have faced and continue to face, is admirable.

  19. Stunning image, Laura! Glad to know you are feeling better now. Have a great weekend.


    Your heart
    and spirit
    are newest green,

    always pushing up
    always unfurling
    in gratitude.

    Your heart
    and spirit
    are growing

    always branching
    always reaching
    for places of light

    Your heart
    and spirit
    are always

    you touch

    You are living
    wood - outliving
    and outgiving
    more than many
    who can walk
    20 miles a day.

    (I just wrote
    that for YOU
    and about YOU.
    I hope you liked it.) :)


  21. I am feeling so full of love right now..I mean really truly my heart feels like it is getting too large for my chest...(visualize the Grinch) because of all the compassion coming through the internet from YOU AMAZING PEOPLE!!!!!!
    OMG xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  22. Laura, I'm so honoured to be getting to know you.

    This was tender and powerful.

    The analogy is piercing, truly, and I wish you many feeling better days.

  23. The transparency of a wounded heart is the soul of new wisdom. Blood still flows. Oxygen regenerates. And we who witness both the wound and the living heart can only rejoice in the magnificence of a life force so potent it refuses to surrender to tsunami-force destruction. Your spirit has tensile strength whose capacity I suspect even you do not know. This is not an easy path we have chosen. I feel honored to share the journey with you. Where we are going neither one of us knows, but I am in awe that along the way I am privileged to experience something as precious as what you wrote in today’s post. Thanks for being a blessing.

  24. Clearly you live Metta and share that wisdom gift so willingly with all.

    Beautiful honest, heartfelt "for really" (as my grandson says) post.

  25. It's beautiful to feel gratitude even when it takes a little longer to find it. Maybe that makes it even more special.

    And your observation of the deadwood is spot on - it's not anything like it appears at first observation -- much like us humans! :)

  26. Hello Laura

    your post is so full of emotions and feelings and aspirations and hopes...

    it is alive with passion for life and the living of it.

    I think you know a lot more than many people. I thought it interesting that at least two of your commentors said they did not have time to read the words...what is this life if we cannot allow a few minutes to savour an experience...where are people rushing to...another quick fix of stimulation, another buzz...

    I think that you have found this joy in resting in the moment and have encouraged us to do so...

    we all have some dead wood to trim away, just different kinds of dead wood...

    Happy days

  27. Oh, Laura, what a sweet post, got eyes a little wet. You may say it is a dead wood, but I see it having full of life, with the branches reaching out like hands...


  28. that was a brilliant image and superb post!

  29. What a beautiful and touching post. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

    Never forget that there is beauty even in deadwood. Especially in deadwood. In its stillness. Its history. Its art. Its power.

  30. Great image! And thanks for visiting! Wish you a great weekend!

  31. Beautiful post. Appearance are deceptive. A person is known for what she is. I can sense that you are good at heart from you writing. So do not worry about the disability. You are nice.

  32. What a lovely combination of the old tree and that friendly sky.

  33. (((hugs))) lol, as I read I was thinking of the life that deadwood supports for my comment.... but you beat me to it!
    So many thoughtful comments already... just love & agree with Jannie's words xx

  34. Interesting observations! Thank you for visiting.

  35. This is a wonderful post and a gift to everyone you love, especially your family. Rebbeca's story and Jannie's poem have adorned what is already so beautiful. As I always say dear Laura, meeting you in the blogosphere has made my attempts worthwhile. xxx

  36. Laura: Trees of this sort often call to me. It is interesting your perspective on the tree.

  37. thank you for the last thought of our teeming with life despite any appearance to the contrary and for a beautiful photo.
    I am so pleased that my dogwood shot brought back such a wonderful memory. And you are so right that the limbs of a dogwood not only resemble but can be a hammock cradling us as we contemplate our world!

  38. Dead tree is usually very beautiful.

  39. Hi Laura,
    you have shared with such beauty and vulnerability here. Jannie's poem for you is quite lovely. It is amazing to picture you in a wheelchair framing your wonderful photo, respect for you rises! Your spirit flies beyond most... I can feel it. I am so happy you have regained some health and hope that it continues...

  40. Thanks for sharing the photo and your thoughts. The way I see it, there is beauty in everything. I think this tree, its texture and appearance compliment the empty blue sky. It's all in how you look at it and I thank God that He opened my eyes to search for the beauty.

  41. What an amazing post.. so full of courage and light! And teeming with possibilities.

  42. What a meaningful post and the picture is so perfectly captured. Love the contrast of the woods and the blue skies.

    Happy skywatch.

  43. Gorgeous picture, and the title of your post provokes many thoughts and feelings in me, too! I'm glad you're feeling better. Living with physical limitation is something I know well, and you're right, you work with what you can, and go on to the next day..

  44. I am appreciating your writing, your photo, your wisdom. I have been thinking about healing a lot lately. Dead wood is alive with lots of deep spaces of peace for all the creatures that need it for sustainability. May you be whole and full of deep ideas and feelings and experiences that bring healing. Peace, Nicki

  45. Oh dear Laura,

    There is a certain "lightness" to this post that makes my heart feel fuller and more alive. Although you and I live with different chronic illnesses, the fact is that they are both "chronic". It took me a while to come to terms with that word, but I think that it was so important to do so so that I could move forward. Maybe the opposite of acceptance is denial, and denying that we are ill just takes MORE energy away from reinventing who we now are. Acceptance does not mean giving up, it just means that we are ready to admit that things are different now...That we are different now. And one thing that we definitely should not be viewed as is "dead wood". We still have so much to offer. YOU have so much to offer. Maybe in some ways, even more than before these illnesses invaded our bodies.

    I wish you the greatest success with the addition of Ampyra to your arsenal! It is always interesting finding out how our bodies are going to tolerate a new medication:) I must tell you that my use of medications is being used against me in my court case! So when you talk about how we are viewed by others, I do understand. The saddest part about it is that everyone in my family knows the severity of my illness, and that without my meds, I would not be able to function on a daily basis. But now, I am being accused of being "addicted to medications". Um yes, there are things that I need in order to have a quality of life, but so what? It can be so incredibly frustrating.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom. YOU inspire ME!!!

    Love and hugs,

  46. When I read your post this evening I was struck, first, by how long it was, and then by how beautifully your thoughts flowed from one to another. What a pleasure to read your words and "hear" your voice. Each one of us thinks about the things we can't do or wishes we could do better, while the universe turns us toward being grateful for all we can do. Thank you for your insights. Embrace the messenger.

  47. Indeed, deadwood isn't dead, and life vibrantly exists externally and internally.

    Your blog is wonderful, and I'm sure it is an inspiration to many.

    The photo is beautiful, a tree in remission for a while, but definitely exhibiting life, much like MS.

    A dear friend of mine has it, and I, myself, have a chronic autoimmune disease.

    It's nice to see that you accept yourself for who and what you are.

    The best to you. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Hugs to you, because we all need a hug every day.

  48. thanks for sharing, yeah, deadwood itself may be dead, but there are others living on it. Couldn't be more true. :)

  49. Oh thank heavens I came to read the post I had missed. You are so inspiring. I think of you more often than you could know. Thank you for taking the time to share your light and amazing wisdom with us. My life is better because I read your words.

  50. I am sitting quietly letting your wisdom wash over me.


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