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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526,600 Minutes ~

It’s January and like almost everyone else, I’ve been thinking about the year ahead.   All day the song 526,600 minutes from the musical Rent has been playing in my head.  That’s a whole lot of minutes – a whole year’s worth to be exact.  What a gift.  And an awesome responsibility as well – to make the most of each and every one of those 526,600 minutes.

Every January I like to take a walk down memory lane, review the previous year (the good and bad and the I can’t believe that really happened) and then set my my intention for the year ahead.  I’ve given up making new years resolutions, but I do like to have a goal or two and a bit of a road map.   I chose  RISK as my guiding word for this year.   As hubs and I continue to move deeper into uncharted waters, my willingness to embrace risk will be key to the success of our backpack and rollie retirement adventures.  I’ve never been a big risk taker.  It’s time.  I’m going for it.

Here’s my 2013 Wordle.   I know it will be a great visual reminder of where I want to keep my focus and intention as I move through the year.
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If you want to play with your own Wordle, check out their website.  it’s easy and lots of fun.

Those Magic Moments

photoThe mad march through the month of December is winding down at last.  We tried to keep Christmas low-key this year and I think we succeeded pretty well.  This blog is in part about re-evaluating our lifestyle as we approach our next adventure – retirement.    We’re pondering the deep questions like how all the “stuff” we’ve acquired over the years will fit (or not) into our upcoming new lifestyle.   We’re a couple of geezers on a new path and we’re loving the challenge and the change.  This year we began the process releasing our attachment to things and instead looking for the magic in the moments of our lives rather than the next shiny thing.  The most frequently asked question around our house these days is “Do we really need it?  Will it fit in the backpack and rollie?”  It’s a very interesting exercise and I highly recommend it, but it isn’t always easy.

This Christmas, after years of piling the presents high around the tree, it feels good to say that all we really need is family, friends, our health, and a few bucks to sustain us in our old age and keep us traveling.  It’s been a year of exploring “the new/old ways” and the re-discovering the value of moments and memories vs. stuff.   Taking photos with my little digital pocket camera helps me stop and pay closer attention to the tiny details that make our lives richer.  You catch the hope in someone’s eyes, the playful smile in the joke, the hundreds of shades of grey in a Portland winter sky.  Magical everyday moments I would likely take fore-granted and quickly forget.  I’m hoping that in the year ahead both my skill and my camera will improve and my snapshots of our experiences will enrich these posts.

For now, I’m just grateful for the memories.  Here are a few of my favorites from the past year.   Taking a little quiet time this afternoon, I sat with a cup of tea and my laptop and experienced the magic of these moments all over again.  Now that’s a real gift!IMG_3390IMG_0489IMG_0452IMG_0137IMG_3570IMG_3365 May your moments be filled with great joy and grand adventures.

Happy New Year!

Cheers ~  Nancy