Making Mandalas for the New Year

It was mid December when this intriguing invitation appeared in my inbox ~

What new intentions do you have for this coming year?  Rather than make a list of resolutions meant to broken, create a powerful visual reminder that 2013 offers four seasons and twelve months of hope, healing and joy in the form of a mandala or sacred circle. This mixed media project will include watercolor and permanent markers, with lots of creative options to make your mandala express your life’s journey this coming year.

No artistic background required. All materials included.

To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure what I was signing up for, but I was drawn by the idea of this new use of an ancient tradition for creating a visual road map of the year ahead.  No artistic background required.  All materials included.   I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

We met at 10 o’clock on a very cold, cloudy and windy first Saturday in January.  Eight women and one brilliant facilitator.  The class was held at Via Artistica, a light, bright and very inviting space dedicated to supporting creative expression for people at all levels of artistic experience.  Kristen Carpentier, who created and facilitated this workshop has helped hundreds of women (and a few brave men) use art as a way to explore and promote personal growth. This woman has a gift and I for one am very glad she has chosen to share it with the world! IMG_1063

We had a real Artists in the group which I always find intimidating, but I got over myself pretty quickly and on to the business of quieting my judgmental monkey mind and letting whatever bubbled up work its way onto my watercolor paper.    We drew cards for direction – I randomly chose Risk and Passion and Willpower  Right on target!IMG_1062

Mandala is a sanskrit word for circle and creating mandalas is a Buddhist form of meditation that is hundreds of years old.   If you are interested in learning more about the Mandala, its history in Buddhism and other ancient traditions, here’s what Wikipedia has to say .   For this workshop, the guidelines were simple, the supplies plentiful and the paints sparkly and colorful.  We started with a big square of paper, a dinner plate to trace the mandala circle and then played for the next two hours and watched as magic happened around the table.   I had no idea where I was going when I sat down at the table, but I have to say I absolutely love what I created.  IMG_1094

Creating the space for reflection, setting intention and then sharing in a supportive group is a great way to start a new year, or a new month, or a new plan of any kind.  There will be more mandalas hanging on my wall in the year ahead.

Thanks Kirsten and Via Artistica.

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Write something dammit! ~

I’ve got nothing to say.  Really.  I’ve been trying to think of something brilliant, witty, inspiring, informational, heart warming to post for days. But…I’ve got nothing.  I’d call it writer’s block, but that would mean I’d have to call myself a writer.   Which I definitely am not able to do.  I have a blog in which I share a few of my random thoughts… but, I am not a writer.   I am SO sure of this it’s crazy.   I know writers.  Some very good ones.  I am in awe of people who have their magic way with a word or a phrase. Those folks WRITE.  Me, I blog.   Works for me. I never thought of myself as a writer and honestly as I was as surprised as anyone when I went home one afternoon after lunch with a couple of friends (thanks again Ingrid and Lois!), settled into my chair and set up Just a Backpack.  Ideas flowed and words appeared on the page.  The Force was with me.  And so it’s probably as natural as the ebb and flow of the tides, that eventually I would find myself staring at a blank screen and think “This it.  I’ve had my last idea.  Written my last post.  It was fun while it lasted.  I’ve been expecting it.”

Last night I had a girl’s date with a friend and we went to hear Cheryl Strayed speak and read from her new bestselling book Wild – from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail.   She was warm and funny and brilliant.  And, she has known she was a writer since she was eight years old.  And, still it took her 20 years to write this book.   Because, sometimes…she had nothing.  But she kept on writing.   Picking it up, letting it go until she had completed her life changing story.  Cheryl Stayed found herself again through an 1,100 mile trek on the Pacific Crest Trail.  She had lost her way, but not her compass – writing.  And through her writing I felt her loss, her fear, her pain and her joy.  For a few minutes as she read, I was right there with her.  That’s what a writer does.  Shares herself.  And her stories.

So, I’m not a writer…or maybe I am.  Maybe I never will be.  Or maybe I will.  I don’t really care.  I’m just me and for whatever reason, at this moment as I’m trying to navigate the waters of change at 64, I do have a few stories to share and thoughts to explore.   I think we’re all in this together.   We all have stories and it’s in the sharing that we connect and learn and explore new ideas.  So, let’s get on with it shall we?

Turns out I did have something left to say.  And one more thing.  Buy this book.  I bought it last night and I’m only on page 30, but I am hooked already.  Thank you Cheryl for sharing your story.  I’m sure it will help me understand my own just a wee bit better.