Blog - Art, Music, Magic

Beauty in Body Two

Ann Richardson - Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Beauty in Body Two
Love yourself and your body.

• Make a vow never to diet again.
• Challenge the diet industry and question diet articles, diet programs and diet rules.
• Throw away your scale and any other devices or apps designed to engineer your body weight.
• Be good to yourself - right now and moving forward.
• Eat for pleasure, nourishment and satisfaction.
• Be physical without an agenda and just for the fun of it. – Really, it's okay to enjoy being in your body.
• Don't feel pressured to report your activity level to anyone.
• Take pictures of yourself and let others photograph you.
• Act as if you’ve always loved your body.
• Give away all the clothes in your closet that don’t fit.
• Buy, trade, sew, create and wear only clothes you like and feel good in.
• Make a list of activities you've put off until you have changed your weight and start enjoying them right now!

When you no longer put foods in a box and call them forbidden, you will no longer feel the urgency to rip the box open and consume what's in it in a frenzied race against the time when you'll slam it shut again. - Geenen Roth

Remember - The only permission you need to live life as you choose is your own.

Beauty in Body

Ann Richardson - Saturday, January 20, 2018
Let's celebrate the beauty of our bodies and the amazing things they accomplish instead of obsessing over weight?

Learn to recognize size discrimination, diet obsession and body hatred in popular culture. • Retrain yourself to see beauty in yourself and others. • Focus more on what our remarkable bodies can do, and less on what they look like. • Consider all the real sized people of all ages whom you admire. • Enjoy books, television, art, movies and videos featuring characters of all sizes and shapes. • Ignore beauty or fashion advice about how best to look at 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 etc. • Come Out as a Self-Accepting Person • Tell your family, friends and co-workers that you are going to love yourself and treat yourself well, with no exceptions. • Stick to being around people who accept themselves as they are. • Join or start a group to listen and talk to others who insist on feeling good about themselves. • Redirect people to empowering conversations when they wallow in body hatred or self-criticism. • Interrupt prejudiced attitudes toward the way people look whenever you can.

Fire - Expression of Self

Mary Lou Richardson - Monday, December 04, 2017
Fire - Expression of Self
Expression of Self
Our bodies harness sun’s fire through stored energies in the plants and animals we eat and from its direct heat or the heat stored in fossil fuels. We use and expel this energy through familiar body processes and the unique ways we express ourselves in the world. Alchemists recognized the physical and metaphysical nature of fire by using a triangular shape to symbolize rising flames and rising aspirations.

Wonderwerk Cave
Evidence of the human use of fire dating back more than a million years has been found in the Wonderwerk Cave, an archeological site near the edge of the Kalahari Desert in South Africa which has been explored since the 1940s. Translating as “miracle” in the Afrikaans language, Wonderwerk reveals how fire touched all aspects of society, leading to the belief that socializing around a campfire played an essential part in what made us human.

Fire Creation
Numerous creation myths explore how native peoples first harnessed fire. The Cherokees tell how water spider retrieves fire from the land of the Thunders who live beyond the sky arch. According to legend she spins a web across a pool which separates her from a smoldering fire in a giant sycamore, then takes it to her people in a basket on her back.
In the playful Apache story, Fox brazenly steals fire from a firefly village, lighting a piece of bark with his burning tail and giving it to hawk who carries it to crane, who scatters sparks across the land.

Fire Spirits
Salamander’s connection to fire likely originates from the behavior of many species of salamander: hibernating among rotting logs. When wood was brought indoors and set on fire, the creatures "mysteriously" appeared from the flames.

Flyers - Soaring with Birds

Mary Lou Richardson - Saturday, December 02, 2017
Flyers - Soaring with Birds
Cross Stitched Blue Jay by Corinne B. Richardson

Our Mom loved birds. She watched them from her kitchen window, delighted in their songs, decorated the yard with colorful birdhouses, kept her feeders filled to the brim and planted vibrant flowers to attract them.

With bird books and binoculars in hand she entered into their realms along lake and ocean shorelines, forest paths and aviaries. She also enjoyed stitching lovely embroideries and needlepoints to celebrate her favorites.

In her last years a medical condition left Mom needing a wheelchair, making it harder for her to get around though never constraining her soaring, sweeping spirit. After one evening out to hear a gospel choir, she shared that her favorite performance had been “I Believe I Can Fly.” This song became a praise song for her, and we know it helped her touch the sky with her favorite beings as she crossed over.

Mulberry Paper Delights

Mary Lou Richardson - Friday, December 01, 2017
Mulberry Paper Delights
When working as a forester and natural history interpreter, I enjoyed learning and sharing information about the multiple uses of trees and other plants in different cultures and throughout history. Understanding the richness of these traditions makes using natural materials in artwork even more delightful.

Mulberries are remarkably valuable plants cultivated in the Pacific Islands and parts of Asia for many centuries. Tapa cloth is a textile made from the inner bark used as the main material for clothing in places such as Figi, Tongo, Somoa and Tahiti until recent times. Mulberry plants were used for paper making in China starting in 100 AD and by 600 AD Japanese were using it to make washi, a type of handmade paper. The wood of the plant is also useful for making furniture and utensils, and roots can be used as rope. Fruits and cooked leaves are edible and white mulberry leaves are the preferred food of silkworms.

Mulberry Paper

Mulberry paper is a form of handmade paper made from the long bark fibers of paper mulberry plants. There are three layers to the bark: black bark, the outermost layer; green bark, the middle layer; and white bark, the innermost layer. All three can be made into paper, but the finest paper is made of white bark only. Bark fibers give the mulberry paper interesting textures and designs with no two pieces looking quite the same. Mulberry paper also features an attractive wispy edge when the paper is torn.You can easily do this yourself by dipping a paintbrush in water and drawing your design. Once softened this way, the fibers can be pulled apart along the outline.

The Pleiades - A Winter Enchantment

Mary Lou Richardson - Wednesday, November 29, 2017
The Pleiades - A Winter Enchantment
Marveling at the arrival of the late autumn sky, Walt Whitman wrote:
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east, Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter, And nigh at hand, only a very little above, Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades.

We are often overruled by mountain clouds when we attempt to find dark skies for star-gazing in the Blue Ridge, although the drier, clearer air of winter usually improves our prospects. One of our favorite constellations to behold is the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, which dazzles us not just celestially but also by way of enchanting stories told about it through the ages.

The Pleiades stars lie nearly 400 light-years away. Their brightness across such vast distances arises from the fact that these stars are hundreds of times more luminous than our sun. Almost every culture throughout history has created a mythology around this easy to detect cluster.

In Greek mythology, the Pleiads were known as the seven daughters of Atlas, a Titan who held up the sky, and the oceanid Pleione, protectress of sailing. The cluster's conjunction with the sun in spring and opposition in fall marked the start and end of the summer sailing season in ancient Greece.

In one telling of the myth, Atlas is forced to carry the heavens on his shoulders, the hunter Orion began to pursue all of the Pleiades, and Zeus transformed them first into doves, and then into stars to comfort their father. The constellation of Orion is said to still pursue them across the night sky.

In the northern hemisphere the best viewing of the Pleiades begins in November when the cluster rises at sunset and shines from nightfall until dawn. Its 6 brightest stars resemble a little dipper while the 7th brightest star is a complicated and hard-to-understand “shell star” that goes through numerous permutations causing it to vary in brightness.

Trekking with Fellow Lovers, Dreamers and Explorers

Ann Richardson - Monday, November 27, 2017
Trekking with Fellow Lovers, Dreamers and Explorers
We choose fellow travelers who are curious, playful, creative, appreciative, independent, respectful, honest and loving -folks who, like us, are also fallible, complicated, unpredictable, imperfect, and sometimes annoying.

By expanding our purview beyond conventional wisdom: historical traditions/customs, familial associations, religious dogma, organizational rules or the status quo - we have increased the fullness of our life experiences eight-fold and created a tribe steeped in a rich tapestry of dignity, respect and love.

Finding your Tribe
To find amicable people to share your life travels with:
• Set the intention for the kinds of energies you wish to attract.
• Call your tribe by setting up an altar displaying sacred objects symbolizing qualities you admire/desire in your friends/circle.
• Release any self-limiting beliefs and affiliations that could be tying you down.
• Keep an eye out for anyone who loves doing what you love -in your community, on-line or wherever you travel (in body, mind, spirit).
• Approach them: Waiting to be chosen isn’t more legitimate than doing your own choosing.
• Present your most open, honest self and express clearly your desires, interests and needs.
• Decide which folks you want to spend more time with, try them on for size and be okay if the fit isn’t right.
• Remember, at best, about a third of the people you cross paths will “get” you – enjoy/delight in these and forget about the rest.

Lovers, Dreamers, Explorers
Galileo Galilei, Amelia Earhart, Leonard Cohen, Story Musgrave, Bill Nye, Diana Nyad, Nellie Bly, Sally Ride, Julia Butterfly Hill, Jane Goodall, Maya Angelou, Natasha Trethewey, Nikki Giovanni

Image: Two by Canoe, by Mary Lou Richardson

Celebrating Things We Love Most

Ann Richardson - Saturday, November 25, 2017
Celebrating Things We Love Most

Has your heart begun palpitating at the thought of the approaching holiday season? Are visions of to-do lists already dancing in your head?

Simplifying our celebrations doesn't mean taking the anticipation, joy and beauty out of the season but, rather, shortening the list of things we have to do, to make more room for the things we want to do. Though it may have once been meaningful to bestow extravagant gifts, many of us now have so much stuff that we don't get as excited about it as we used to.

Counter holiday frenzy by talking with family and friends to determine how to observe the holidays, deciding on favorite foods, rituals, activities and gifts. Consider what would you like more of - music, walks in the woods, peace and quiet, pleasing aromas, special foods, love and appreciation, laughter, reading by the fire, prayer, being of service?

Connecting Through Animals

Mary Lou Richardson - Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Connecting Through Animals

Some people are able to find their wilder, truer and more spontaneous natures through linking - either actually or symbolically - with animals.

From the wisdom of the owl to the cleverness of the fox to the grace of the antelope, Native American tribes and other aboriginal peoples have long known that animals embody qualities and talents that can help humans better understand themselves and the spirit world. (The Nez Perce believed that "every animal knows more than we do.")

Many cultures have chosen to revere these animals as "totems." To select an animal as your totem , it's best to find one that piques your curiosity, one whose path you tend to cross or one that appears frequently in your dreams or meditations. 

Choosing an animal that frightens you is a way to explore your fears or shadow. Many people are drawn to a pet or other domesticated animal as their first totem, eventually moving up to wild or " power" animals.

Working with your totem means honoring it and malting an opening in your life for its wisdom. You can do this by discovering as much as you can about its qualities, by purchasing (or making) a figurine or "fetish " to represent it, and by learning to mimic and incorporate its essence. Using your imagination to find ways to deeply connect with your totem animal will aid you in drawing upon its powers.

Image: My Red Velvet Cape Deer

Calling All Spirit Guides

Mary Lou Richardson - Sunday, November 19, 2017
Calling All Spirit Guides
Spirit guides make their presence known in a variety of ways, through little synchronicities in your life, distinctive voices, changes in light intensity or air temperature, a smell, a tingling on the back of your neck ...

As we travel a path which offers few guideposts, some of us are returning to spirit guides or angels for inspiration and support. The Greeks believed each person had an individual guardian angel or daemon, which would appear in animal form. This idea evolved into the "familiar spirit" under Christianity and the guardian angel of the Catholic faith.

Many people interpret the imagi­nary friends or playmates of childhood to be manifestations of this type of spiritual energy. Whether ancestral spirits, deceased relatives or close friends, or as yet unborn spirits, you can call upon spirit guides in your daily life and use their answers to assist you.

As wise teachers, they can help you to resolve such questions as "Why am I here?" or "What do I need to be doing?" Though few people know how to effectively communicate with spirit guides, it is possible to learn by re-educating your perceptions (activating your intuitive brain), keeping an open mind and giving yourself permission to see them ("Believing is seeing") - and by practicing diligently, which includes malting a commitment to learning their "lan­guage."

Spirit guides make their presence known in a variety of ways, through little synchronicities in your life, distinctive voices, changes in light intensity or air temperature, a smell, a tingling on the back of your neck, or in the symbols of your dreams or creative work.

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