My First 2-Day Workshop

Meant to Be – rediscovering the true self you bring to the world

Theory/Idea: Each person comes into the world with treasures within as well as a purpose. We are like seeds of potential. We lose sight and awareness of this as life happens to us and we listen to negative messages or expectations from others or the over-culture. We conform to something that may not be who we really are meant to be. We may not be in touch with who we really are. This process is a way for people to be reminded to embody the real part of themselves that is inviolate and has purpose. We are making a clearing for mindfulness about the true self. As we make it visual we are integrating our inner and outer life to align more to that original true self.

wristsI invited 3 friends to do this 13-step workshop with me and also a friend of one that I didn’t know. We ended up with three women participating, plus me. I hosted it. I had them bring brushes, paints and a large canvas and I supplied extra paints, brushes and things like paper towels, plates for palettes, etc. and charged them only $45 as an “introductory price.” I provided coffee, chocolate, and snacks and asked them to bring snacks to share. We would bring our lunch or order out for pick up.

The theme and flow were what I designed for the curriculum assignment and I refined it and added readings to it that I felt were appropriate for this group at this time.

They were unfamiliar with Intentional Creativity, but were open to finding their content within. There was no resistance to visioning or ritual. Resistance was more to trusting and going boldly through each step, especially color blocking and darks and lights! This was surprising to me and I couldn’t always tell what step they were on by looking at their painting. We talked quite a bit about the critic, perfectionism, the need to release at each step, etc. They were all rogue enough I couldn’t tell if I was clear on directions. I had it all scripted out with the steps so I felt I was explaining the instructions, and I told them to ask questions or get input whenever they needed to. I did express that I could support them better if they kept boldly doing each layer as we went. They really seemed to be getting a lot from the journaling and inquiry so I felt they were following the steps for what they needed along the way. This was our process, in brief:

I invited them to place an object that spoke of themselves on our altar table which I had set with a painting, candles, ball of red thread, scissors, large flower and other things. (I asked them to bring something for this in an email prior to the workshop.)
rosebowl-smWe sat in circle for an introduction to the Red Thread and our time together. Our opening circle inquiry was: “What’s one thing you came in with? As you think about who you see yourself to be, what’s one word you would say that is representative of who you’ve always been?”

Before visioning I read from Shiloh’s Tea with the Midnight Muse: the poem “Not Enough.”

The visioning was down a spiral staircase to a store room to meet the Muse and to notice familiar pieces from our past story and then journal about it.

symbolsWe put our intention for our time together into the canvas and blessed it with rose petals and water before painting a portal and background color. The essential seed of our story was painted and milestone marks and tragedy marks were added around it. Then we painted over the seed and marks, burying the seed in the dark that it may grow new life.

They watched me demo the iconic 20-line face and the face map before practicing it several times.I asked them to write what message each face held for them.


Then they chose one of the faces or a new one to draw on their canvas.

Next was color-blocking shapes between lines. I was hoping to get through the rest of the steps to the integrating glaze, but we stopped a bit short of that to end with a ritual.We wrote what we would like to release and put the strip of paper into the bowl of water with the roses.

We started the next morning with some movement to music (Send It Out to the Universe by Samantha James) as we continued to release and open to what was coming.

Our next visioning had two parts with journaling:
-Think back at a time when you know you were really being yourself, not what was expected of you from without. How old were you? What were you doing? Notice anything about the scene. What elements or people were involved? How did it feel?

-Now let yourself identify a time when you felt you were being your best self with others. What were you doing? Who were you helping? How did it feel?

At the canvas we considered symbols that wanted to be added as we are awakening to our true self. We continued on through our steps with more inquiry and listening. I demonstrated illumination with stars, biophotons, rays, etc.jen-muse-dots

Each participant gave her muse the pen and received a message. They titled and signed their work and shared their message and any of their symbols, etc with the rest of the group. There were tears and laughter. It was very touching and everyone was resonating with what was being said. After each person spoke we replied, “You are witnessed.”

Our closing was a beautiful blessing by John O’Donohue. We finished on time and cleaned up, then had toasts with champagne or sparkling water and coconut macaroons. They all hung out to extend the celebration and visiting for another 2 hours!jen-ptgfinal

Testimonials came from a questionnaire that I asked them to fill out after closing.

J.P.- “It was an experience of growth. Not all was easy. I appreciated the self-inquiry the workshop led me through. I had “aha” moments of discovery of what I consider important in my life. For a non-practiced artist putting paint, color, symbol onto canvas is magical. I highly recommend it to everyone!”

M.A. – “Good way to spend the weekend! I’m not sure I would have known where to begin a painting on my own. The format—structure was helpful. It did help me take another look at how I became me. The technique was good for beginners, too. I would recommend it because it’s especially good for people afraid of being creative if they over-judge themselves and art. This is unlike the local beginner’s art experience where everybody paints the same thing, a design by the teacher, It helps break the ice, but I don’t see the value. This was making art!”


J.D. – “This group, this workshop, and this person, Jenny-made me think of something a friend once said to me, “Be careful, your heart is showing.” So, in our time together to explore ourselves through this process, I did not need to be careful, but my heart was showing me to me. I constantly had many “ahas.” For me, even from the beginning, I knew we were creating a wonderful bundle of memories shared by all of us in our group.”

Reflecting back: I had asked one person to come early to set up the easel she had loaned me and she got lost and came late and then took a long time to set up. This and a couple of other unforeseen glitches caused us to begin late the first day and added to our not getting to the glaze step. It was frustrating, but the next day we made up time somehow.

I learned that hosting and what it required beforehand to get the house ready was a lot of work. To keep dishes washed and ready for the next day’s set up was a bit more than I want to do without a helper since I spent time scrubbing carpet, walls and windows (in my mom’s condo!) from paint splatter the first evening. I also didn’t sleep that night so day two needed to go well!

I was hoping the time would work out if we just kept stepping through on Day 2. I kept an eye on the time and was ready to condense steps if necessary, but we covered it all.

Keeping an attitude and an atmosphere of it being a sacred space helped keep things on track. The people felt honored and like something special was happening. Even though I didn’t always think they were following directions, they were getting a lot out of it, so I am thankful and satisfied. My inner wisdom says the process worked and their paintings are wonderful. I know at least one will continue work on her painting as she thought the whole time together was so amazing and transformative. She told me again a couple of days later she can’t wait to work on it.


Community Service Plan

Serving the community


Me with my mom a few years ago.

When I think of what is on my heart at this time that I could share in community service it is related to elder care and care-giving. I am still in the midst of a difficult season where my mom is declining and has moved to assisted living, but still needs extra care. For months it was my responsibility to figure out what was going to be best for her and to make sure her needs were being met 24-hours a day. I felt I needed to be away from my home in CO and present with her in GA to do this, and I’m back in GA again after a few weeks home.

It seems like every 15 minutes something is needed from the caregiver—medications, food, and a myriad of other things. This I know: caregivers have to be careful to take care of themselves, too. In my personal experience the stress was causing physical health issues even though I am committed to mindfulness and intentionality. The most healing times for me were when I was painting for the COW assignments.

In creating my menu of offerings I could see that one population I wanted to serve were the many people who were providing care for elders, and especially family members and those who are not being paid for the job. It is not a situation where there are regular hours and then you get to go home and forget about it for a while. The responsibility may be felt at all times.

There are three organizations I will look at pursuing.

  1. SOWEGA (Southwest GA) Council on Aging has valuable resources for seniors, people with disabilities, family members, caregivers and professionals. They have a beautiful large new facility in my hometown with wonderful teaching space. What I would like to offer is a bit of a retreat for caregivers in the form of a 2-day workshop. The same person has taught art for the organization for 30 years, but doesn’t offer anything like this.
  2. Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving is of course based in Plains, GA (45 minute drive from me), but has services in Albany with a monthly caregivers’ support group. They support caregivers through advocacy, education, research and service. I have met someone who works with Rosalynn Carter who suggested I attend their conference this fall to connect with the organization.
  3. The Refuge, in Broomfield, CO, is a faith community and mission center which advocates for a variety of social justice issues, provides a home for “spiritual orphans” and those who feel disenfranchised from more traditional churches, works to practice the ways of Jesus and provide welcome to all regardless of their resources or orientation. The Refuge promotes and encourages creativity and the arts. I have been leading art workshops there in my role as contemplative arts pastor for 10 years. I would offer this caregiver’s workshop at the Refuge facility to our community and later open it to the larger Denver area.


Draft of a letter to SOWEGA Council on Aging:

Debbie Blanton
Executive Director
SOWEGA Council on Aging

Hello Ms. Blanton,

My name is Jennifer Herrick. I grew up in Albany and live here part time. I also live part time in the Denver, CO area, where I raised my family. I have a degree in art and have  combined it with mindfulness for the last 12 years or so. I am interested in offering this combination to provide some soul care for caregivers. I know firsthand how healing it can be to wholly focus on a creative project and feel release from the demands of a difficult situation. It has helped me during a long season of elder care for my mom.

I am trained in the Intentional Creativity method which uses imagery, language, intention, inquiry and symbol as tools for transforming how we see ourselves, our story, and our choices. It also does not require previous experience because it steps through the painting process and focuses on the content of each step. At completion there will be a meaningful painting that people are usually very happy with.

I have a 2-day workshop called “Up for Air! – creative soul care for caregivers.It is long enough to give participants a needed break from routines of caring for others in order to focus on mindfulness of their own health and sustainability while enjoying the creative playfulness of painting.

I would like to talk with you about the possibilities of who could be served by this and other workshops that I can offer.

Thank you!

Jennifer Herrick

Workshop flyer

This is a flyer created in Canva. I am so used to Photoshop and being able to do layers, drop shadows, etc., that it’s not as easy for me to create in a program like this. Many people like using it. I’ve seen some great results by my Color of Woman sisters lately.  I tried it again after using it when it first came out and not liking the limitations it has. Since I am away from home with a new laptop I don’t have a photo program to rely on and am trying different options.


Flyer for my actual 2-day 13-step workshop happening this weekend with 3 participants.

Curriculum Design

My curriculum design is based on the life cycle of a plant. In this metaphor there is first a seed, then roots, a stem, leaves, and finally flowers and/or fruit of some type. There would also be ground and nutrients, water and air to consider. The cycle ends in more seeds being produced for the cycle to begin again.

I first apply it to the process of Intentional Creativity itself.
curriculum-plant-sm The seed is the essential beginning. It already contains deep inside what it needs to catalyze into a plant. It is about showing up and being ready to explore with intention. It is the kernel of inquiry that begins the process.

The roots are what extend to support and ground the process. There are numerous roots that develop. They might be things like intention, inquiries, visioning, journaling, sketching, listening.

The stem becomes visible above ground to transport nutrients and provide a framework for the process of growth. This is analogous to bringing form to the canvas with an outline of the Muse herself, suddenly visible, ready to reveal her story or what she wants the painter to know.

Leaves form and give further shape and color to the plant. They are necessary to the process of photosynthesis, as they receive energy and transfer it into production. In the painting process these might be symbols, color, and further design elements derived from listening and observing what is needed on the canvas and defining areas with shadow and highlight.

Flowers appear that decorate the plant and provide beauty. They also offer sustenance for bees which are drawn to them for their pollen. They are evidence that the plant is nearly at the height of its journey. This is a sign of alchemy happening, a transformation from one state to another.
In the painting process, there is illumination and decoration and further tending as the Muse blossoms in illumination after glazing.

Fruit will form on the plant and be produced as a result of the integration of all the other parts of the process happening. It provides sustenance for whoever partakes of it as well as being the new form of life which contains the seed that can start the process again. In the intentional creativity process of the painting journey, here is where a message is received that reflects all that has gone before and all that has been transmuted into consciousness and made useful to our new story. There is something to partake of and be witnessed about.

Outline for a workshop
Here is an idea for a 13-setp painting workshop. The theme for my workshop is Meant to Be, rediscovering the true self you bring to the world.


Imagine a life well lived, where every day you embody the real you. This painting workshop leads you step by step through the Intentional Creativity method to explore who you are meant to be, and what makes you YOU. You’ll bring intention, language and symbol to your canvas in this transformative journey. No previous experience is required.

Theory/Idea: Each person comes into the world with treasures within as well as a purpose. We are like seeds of potential. We lose sight and awareness of this as life happens to us and we listen to negative messages or expectations from others or the over-culture. We conform to something that may not be who we really are meant to be. We may not be in touch with who we really are. This process is a way for people to be reminded to embody the real part of themselves that is inviolate and has purpose. We are making a clearing for mindfulness about the true self. As we make it visual we are integrating our inner and outer life to align more to that original true self.

Session One
A sacred space is created for the gathering. An altar is set up with a beautiful vignette on top of a table. It has the stages of a plant’s life: soil, seeds, sprouts, shoots, stems and leaves, a mature plant and flowers. There are candles, seasonal items, fabrics, a bowl of water to receive papers for the ritual, papers and pens. I will also ask participants ahead of time to bring an item that is in some way about themselves to place on the altar table.

This theme itself is like a seed. It contains something deep within to discover. It is what you “came into the world with.” Who you were meant to be contains all your potential and your uniqueness.

-Opening circle Red Thread Inquiry: What’s one thing you came in with? As you think about who you see yourself to be, what’s one word you would say that is representative of who you’ve always been?

-Reading from Tea With the Midnight Muse

1- Visioning: We journey down a spiral staircase to visit a store room with a wise woman who shows us familiar significant parts of our life story, some good and some we don’t need to let define us anymore.

-Journaling about what we saw and what we allowed to recede.

Starting with a quote about embodiment and being fully present.
Then asking, “What is your intention for this time of exploring who you were meant to be?” We write a statement of intention or prayer or request on the canvas and bless the canvas with water and hands.

2- Inviting: Portal: creating an invitation in the middle of the canvas and choosing another color for the outer background.

-Drawing a shape that is the original seed of your story in a third color. It might be heart shaped or geometric or organic. The seed is the essential beginning. It already contains deep inside what it needs to catalyze into a plant. It is the kernel of inquiry that begins the process. It is about showing up and being ready to explore with intention.

-Bringing lines and marks around the seed in a dark color to represent the milestones and markers in your life. Add lines of unavoidable tragedy that were also part of your experience. This is part of the ground in which your seed grows.

-Adding another color on the bottom portion over the seed and lines. You are letting go of the power of these marks on your life and releasing and burying the seed in the dark that it may grow new life.

3- Sourcing: Face and composition demonstration using the iconic 20-line face.
Trying several faces and possibilities on paper and noting what each one says to you.

-Choosing one to bring to the canvas which represents the essence of the strong inner you, the inviolate part of the real you.
Drawing the outline with a paint brush and white paint (or chalk or charcoal first.)

-Talk about the Critic and the Muse and ways to release the critic and invite the Muse to speak up to give you discernment.

-Asking her now if there’s at least one symbol of one of your stored treasures that wants to be represented on the canvas. Writing about it and sketching in your journal. Then drawing it on your canvas in white paint or a color that will show up over the background.

4- Listening: Demo of color blocking into all the shapes that were created leaving glow.

5- Encountering: Bringing dimension to the face with darks in the openings of the face.

-Adding a 2nd layer of color blocking in lights and darks loosely, but not covering over all that’s already there.

-Stepping back from the painting with your journal and listening to what is being said.

6-Connecting: Bringing in more content with a little smaller brush. Adding design elements into the composition, along with marks and symbols, dots, etc.

7- Deepening: shadows, darks, and definition.

8- Dawning: Highlights and accents.

9- Integrating: Adding medium color where there aren’t lights and darks. Demo of glazing methods.

-Letting the painting sit in the shadows as you listen to what comes up now. Journaling about it.

Writing anything you would like to release as we close for the day. “Water” your intention to release it by placing the strip of paper into the bowl on the altar table.

-Close this session with a short share from anyone who wants to about their process and insight so far, and then read a poem from Tea with the Muse.

End of Session One

Session Two
-Welcome and a reading to open the session

-Sharing of insights since last session if appropriate. Or go straight to visioning after having them stand in front of their canvas to breathe and reconnect with their muse and align with her vibration.

-Visioning to drumming or music. Thinking back at a time when you know you were really being yourself, not what was expected of you from without. How old were you? What were you doing? Noticing anything about the scene. Taking a moment to jot down your thoughts and impressions and how it felt.

Part 2: Now letting yourself identify a time when you felt you were being your best self with others. What were you doing? Who were you helping? Taking a few moments to journal about this scenario and how it felt.

-Bringing her present again with highlights and shadows, pulling her forward and bringing attention to other parts you want to stand out.

10- Awakening: Choose the color palette you want for the rest of the painting. Listening deeply.Glazing and bringing things back as needed.

-Listening and writing about her journey. What is the new story of your true self she wants to show you?

-Other symbols or splashes of color wanting to be added as you bring awakening to your true self? Is there a representation or symbol of the new life of the new story? Is there a particular kind of leaf or plant or flower to include?

-Pausing to journal if needed.

11-Honoring: Bringing attention and nurture with a small brush. Using dots, etc. in a prayerful meditative way as you create pattern.

-Stepping back and asking her what is now needed to bring completion.

12- Illumination: Bringing another layer of darks and lights, stars, light rays, bio-photons of energy, and any other illumination.

-Inquiry: Ask yourself how you would feel if your wishes were granted for living into the best version of yourself, and then allow yourself to internalize that emotional state. Does that have a shape or a color or mark?

13- Receiving and Anointing: -Sitting back and look into the eyes and heart of the painting. Give her the pen as it were and let her speak a message to you. What does she want you to know about the you you were meant to be? You might ask her how to align your outer life with your inner self.

-Anointing her with sparkle and glitter, signing name, and pulling the title from the writing.

-Regather for a time of sharing for each participant. Each shares their painting and title, any of their message from their Muse, insight they gained, and if there is an action step they might take. After each person we reply, “You are witnessed.”

-Closing blessing by John O’Donohue

-Instructions for cleanup.

-Cake! or bubbly if appropriate.

Red Thread Creative Session 2

A few friends were able to join me in my home and studio for a 3-hour workshop exploring their inner gifts for the world. I used the Medicine Basket template, but altered it to include a Muse as an extra action step. In an email I suggested a donation amount to cover supplies and they all gladly paid at the end without being prompted.

basket-muse-wristsRed Thread Ceremony
We started with a Red Thread ceremony after filling plates with cheese, crackers, grapes, and chocolate muffins, along with a glass of wine. I introduced the red thread as a picture of connection and shared about the meaning of it in different cultures, etc. I invited them to say something they wanted to see changed or healed in the world as they passed the red thread around. It was great hearing very different passions that were voiced.

I led them on a visioning to find their medicine basket and its contents and what they have to share with their tribe and the world. They journaled about what they saw and each shared one thing from it. We then went upstairs to the studio where their places were set with watercolor paper, brushes, rose petals and chocolate. I had the string lights glowing and my paintings were in sight on the walls. I think it felt exciting to them.

Starting to paint
Basket-muse1We began with writing our intention on the paper with charcoal, then using rose petals dipped in water we blessed the paper and process. They followed along with my demo of painting the basket and each made it in their own style. We all painted our backgrounds as well. They had no problem coming up with their affirmation statements and collaged them into the basket, and then added their over-arching statement.

At this point I demonstrated the 20-line face and had them practice it several times using both the face map lines and the iconic face with the eyebrow to nose style. It was a new experience for them and I think they would have enjoyed more time to practice and play with it.

I told them that even though we may recognize our gifts, we may hold back. I invited them to now draw a face to represent themselves as a gesture of stepping forward to offer their gifts. It would be as though they were offering the basket out in front of themselves. I demoed painting the face and hair in a bold color that stood out from the background in an area we had intentionally left blank. I then took them through a couple of steps to add color-blocking, highlights and darks and mediums. I did it rather casually and they jumped into it as well.

Listening for a message
When the end of our time was drawing close, we stopped to listen to what the painting had to say. I asked them to give the pen to the Muse. Each one then shared this message and their over-arching statement over the basket. They were very happy with their painting and their process. I was very happy, too that we were able to move quickly enough to cover it all. I was feeling great about the evening even though earlier I was not well and had had lots of cleanup and preparation to do to host this within a day of when we were together and the possibility of a workshop was brought up in conversation! There were 5 who might possibly attend, but only three could make it. It was just the right amount of people for my space. I hope to clear out more of my studio to get a couple more people in. I like being able to host at my house where I have everything I need and it is already an art space.


“I so enjoyed the chance to practice some of the previous techniques that i have learned from you in previous workshops. I loved working with the bigger paper. There was something freeing about going big. As always the contemplative part before we started painting was meaningful and helped me let go of the stress that had been going on during the day. I love the connection through the red thread. I have saved what was wrapped around my wrist. I plan to work it into my painting. I think our medicine basket is a lovely way to visualize our gifts and who we are. I am looking forward to practicing faces. I needed the instruction that you gave and can’t wait to work on more faces. It is always hard when time flies so fast but as always you made the whole experience meaningful and introspective and fun!!! Always leave me wanting more.” -D. H.

“Thanks for the art time on Monday! It was great for me to take some time out of my day to consider the skills (Gifts) that I have to help with my desire to see change in the world regarding how different races are treated.
I hadn’t had the time to actually process and put together the idea of my gifts and how they could be used in a bigger picture than outside my home, church and friends.
Thanks for the work you did to help bring these to light and set me on a process of how I can move forward to use these gifts.” -J.M.

“This art experience was actually a fabulous adventure for me! I don’t consider myself to be good at art … and definitely not good at painting … and even worse at anything resembling people. But I’ve been calling on my personal values and passions lately and trying to bravely jump-in. The idea of connection to each other and our own piece of it in this world was calming and inspiring (I’m still wearing my red thread) and I ended up liking my art enough to hang it in my yoga room where she looks at me and reminds me of my gifts. She’s imperfectly perfect – and so am I.
Thanks again for the invitation to experience this Jenny!” -H.M.


Medicine Basket Red Thread Session

–A long story about the joy and pain of collaborating, and a very hot time…

 Where are my Beloveds?
While still away from home and staying with my mom in GA, it has been a little daunting thinking about where the Beloveds are going to come from to start filling workshops I could offer. I am committed to trying to stay on schedule with COW training, so I wanted to get a few people together for a practice session with Medicine Basket or House of the Heart. I looked at several local venues and inquired about renting or using a room for a workshop. I thought about the people I know here locally and am connected to on Facebook primarily. I wondered if someone would be willing to host something for me.

There was an art opening I wanted to go to to possibly connect with some art people to see more of what was happening, too. I asked a friend I thought might be interested to ride together. She said “yes.” I happened to meet her for the fist time only last fall at a church office. She was with a friend pricing items for a garage sale and I was inquiring about walking the labyrinth on their property. In conversation we connected over the desire for racial reconciliation and healing for this community. We corresponded a few times, and when I arrived in town after a severe tornado ripped through the neighborhood around her church, I went out there to consult on how they might repair and restore the labyrinth.

med-b-wrists-smSince then some things have happened in totally unexpected ways to connect me to new folks down here. None are previous friends from high school or college. I am developing a new circle of like-minded individuals who are interested in the arts and justice issues, and some are more interested than others in a spiritual path. The friend from the church labyrinth was the original connector to all the others since my arrival here late spring.

She introduced me to some folks at the art opening and on the way home made a call to connect me on the spot with another friend. Four of us went out for a delightful evening which started with dinner and ended back at my mom’s place with me sharing my Talisman painting and the I.C. training and my hopes. Their interest was really piqued.

One of the friends shares such a similar vision to mine to bring healing through creativity, as well as community development, and we started getting together regularly to see how we could collaborate. She set up individual lunches with several people to introduce the idea of some kind of artists teaching co-op. She wants to involve all the voices in the community. She has a couple of properties with potential for gatherings. One is a vacant house she owns that has a large sunroom with lots of lovely natural light and looks out onto grounds and a pool. It’s a beautiful location. The other is a somewhat dingy downtown storefront building with an upstairs apartment that was formerly used as an artist’s studio. It even has a painted graffiti mural still on one wall.

She is the one who eventually invited about 10 people to come to an art workshop/red thread session with me. We decided the house would be where we would hold it. We agreed on the price being $25/person for this introductory gathering. I originally wanted to have only 4 people since it was practice for me and then I could see what changes I wanted to make before offering to a larger group and setting a higher price. I compromised since she was hosting and doing the inviting personally to select the people she wanted to bring in.

However, making it happen wasn’t without effort! In order to get the room ready, my husband and I helped a few days before to mop the floor, scrub walls, and clean tables and chairs that had been stored, etc. I’m thankful he was here this past week! My friend and her helper worked additional days giving attention to the bathroom (even re-installing a sink), trimming shrubs and cleaning the pool. Our collaboration has brought new energy to her vision to use the property for teaching, art, groups and therapies. I love how the energy is going back and forth!

I created a quick flier to attach to email invitations.medicine-basket2
Workshop day
When the day of the workshop came, I got there a couple of hours early to set up all the supplies and create my altar with the Medicine Basket display. I got my music ready and speaker placed, thanks to my husband remembering a cord in the car which could work for a speaker cord. He also helped me get the tables set up, find some extra chairs and clean them, and cut some flowers from outside for me to put in a vase.

It was a very hot muggy day in south GA—the kind of weather which zaps my energy and distracts from anything but staying cool. I had prepared throughly and spent many days writing up notes, making lists, gathering what would be needed and trying to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I was a bit nervous as I didn’t know most of the people who would be participating. I like to set up early to have time for settling, focusing, and being totally ready to welcome people. After an hour of setup I was overheated, completely wet with sweat and irritated. I sent my husband on as he had done what he could. The cooling system was not getting this part of the house comfortable and I couldn’t imagine leading a workshop here in an hour. If you knew me, you would know this was very discouraging. Hospitality is important to me within the space I’m preparing for people to enter. It needs to be part of the invitation to engagement with what the day is about. Also, my host was delayed an hour meeting us for setup, but she did have time to run back to her house for a fan and some other supplies, which helped.

We set out the drinks and snacks in a side room for people to access at any time and just before 2 p.m. the first participant arrived. Then a group of people arrived at the same time. I noticed a man with them. I assumed he was just dropping off his wife, but it turned out he was going to stay to participate! We didn’t know the final count and had set up places for six with an extra table to pull in for the host to use after the Red Thread circle. Neither of us knew if we would have enough spots now if everyone else came. We invited them to all sit in the circle where we would begin. I started reviewing content in my mind to see if it was going to be appropriate for the mixed group we now had! Here I am now trusting my Source to lead the way. The total of those gathered was seven plus me.

Red Thread Ceremony
rthread-smAfter introductions I was glad I was starting with a centering exercise to become grounded, aware, and present. Everyone was quiet and collected. Then I picked up the Red Thread and began to talk about the meanings and legends. I noticed the woman sitting next to me was from India and I figured she knew a lot more about it from her culture than I did! I offered an inquiry to relate to the Medicine Basket and to share about what might be holding you back from using your gifts and offering all that you are and all that you bring. I started to set the example about using only a word or two. Before she shared her answer she shared how the red thread is used in her culture and spiritual tradition. I was thankful she did. Each person shared around the circle while wrapping their wrist with the Red Thread. The man was last and said he didn’t know what might be holding him back. He would think about it. I thanked him and took the ball of thread from him, thinking, “uh oh.” (However, he did his painting along with the group and entered in to the rest of the chances to share.) I shared about only being responsible for your piece of the Red Thread. We sent the scissors around and helped to tie the thread on each others’ wrists.

Medicine Basket
I led the visioning to find the Medicine Basket. Each person around the circle shared one thing they bring in their basket. One part I added to the original workshop guide was to share the objects I had placed in the basket on the altar and asked a question with each. For example: a hammer-do you build with what you have available?, a bunch of basil—do you add the needed flavor or healing?, gauze and tape—do you bind up the broken?, trowel—do you shovel through the b.s. around you?, etc.

up-front-smWe then moved chairs to the tables which were set with the 22×30 watercolor paper, water, a paper plate, a couple of brushes, pencils, and chocolate for each participant. Someone said they were excited. The host and I pulled in the extra table and set it. I would be up front with the easel. The group took a few minutes to write about the items they discovered from the visioning. Then we were off with the painting part. They chose a couple of colors to squeeze onto their plate/pallet. First I had them write their intention for the day on the paper and then they watched as I demoed spraying the paper with water and blessing with hands. I painted a simple basket shape. I emphasized they had the freedom to style theirs the way they wanted to. They did. It was fun to see the different colors and shapes.

IMG_5290Through the steps of journaling and turning their words or symbols into affirmations to collage, etc., I watched to see if most people were about done to move on to the next step. It flowed pretty smoothly, A few people asked for instructions to be repeated, but no one needed help in brainstorming the affirmations or over-arching statement.

A woman came in after we had done the Red Thread Circle and the visioning for the items in the basket and we were starting to paint. She didn’t join in the painting, but listened and sort of drew a bit on the plain paper. She ended up talking to the host over snacks in the other room, but left after a while. I think she felt too intrusive having come in so late. I wish she could have jumped in, but hope she at least is someone to connect with for the future. This is the kind of thing that can’t be predicted or controlled, but instead I need to trust it was okay for all.

med-b-art-smWe finished in time for a good round of sharing about the paintings and affirmations, taking photos, cleaning up the brushes and visiting a little. I was so happy the timing worked out for all I had planned for the 3 hours. My host reminded people to pay before they left.

We were hoping to have more of a casual time for everyone to visit a little more afterward, but people needed to get going. So the two of us sat down to chill, have a glass of wine and talk about it. We felt really good about the workshop and how much everyone enjoyed it. Each person signed up for info on future workshops.

“Thank you so much for the workshop you offered creating medicine baskets. Your ability to work with novice and accomplished artists simultaneously, creating a space for personal reflection, creativity and community was impressive. I enjoyed participating and especially liked the many layers that you incorporated into the workshop. Your presentation was well organized, and effectively led participants to experience self connection and to explore how one connects to the world bigger than one’s self. Thank you for sharing your gifts.” -B.G.

“I am pleased to let you know that I consider your workshop which I attended to be thoughtful and caring , and well designed.” -W.F.G.

IMG_5298Reflecting now a couple of days afterward I realize the content is more a part of me, whereas it felt before like it was more Shiloh’s content that I was assigned to practice, so I was a little nervous about the delivery and covering everything. I feel that way about more and more of the training material. It is settling into deeper places that I can share from.

Dream Theme Worksheet

I’m thankful for these assignments which cause me to make space for journaling and looking within. It’s hard to imagine formulating this information without them. My journal is just about full. I found another blank sketchbook on sale today so I am set for the rest of the vision quest. I started listing workshop topics a couple of months ago and  reviewed and added to them for this worksheet.

Overarching Themes

• The over-arching message I want to communicate in my workshops is:
Through Intentional Creativity we can listen to our inner voice of wisdom, connect our mind to our heart, connect to our Divine Source, and make choices about how we want to move ahead.

• The healing or transformation I want to see in the world is:
Each of us committed to our personal transformation so that we can work together in community on issues that affect us all.

• The issues I see in the world are:

-Inequality especially based on gender and race

-Fear-based extremism which polarizes and separates

-Disconnection from God/Creator/Source and a spiritual contemplative path

-Lack of understanding and care for the earth and environment

Specific Themes
• The different themes I can see connected to what I care about are:
-Connection with Source

-Connection with Self

-Connection with Others

-Connection with Earth

-Living with Purpose

-Living Consciously

• The workshop themes that correlate to that might be:
-Moments as Sacred Spaces: finding, creating, and living in Presence
-Hearing My Own Heart: the wisdom story keeper
-Women As Life-Givers
-Transitions: weathering difficult seasons
-Divine Touch: the part of God you need right now
-Being Free: a soulful journey through creative expression
-Shame is not My Name: unfolding a new story
-Empowered for Purpose: accessing your piece of the Red Thread
-Beauty Keeper: celebrating your part in the natural world
-Awake: walking consciously on your path

• The people that are my Beloveds are dealing with issues like:
-Not knowing their purpose

-Not having a voice

-Not taking time to explore and reflect

-Not expressing themselves

-Needing healing from past wounds that hold them back

-Feeling shame and lack of self-worth

Dream Theme
• If I could teach or cause anything it would be:
-A connection with the Divine and development of a spiritual path

-Empowerment for each to be who they were created to be

-Connection to others

Personal Theme
• If I was known as a teacher, I would love to be known for or remembered for:
Creating environments where Beauty is experienced, where connection to self and the Divine are facilitated, where healing happens, and where creativity is used as a vehicle for transformation.

House of the Heart

What are the stories we carry about home and belonging?

Working with the universal symbols of the heart and a simple house can uncover long-held beliefs and move them to consciousness. Giving attention to rewriting the old messages and creating a space for the new story to reside is a creative way to re-wire old thought patterns to see a shift in a short amount of time.
Working through this process reminded me how much I felt different from peers while growing up. As a teen I often felt that others knew something about the universe and the way life worked that I didn’t know. I felt ignorant, awkward, and disconnected. As an only child I didn’t really have anyone to sort through things with. I retreated to avoid conflict and embarrassment. It was helpful for me to call up this story and then to call in a new story of belonging that could be chosen and lived into. My affirmations are:

I always belong here. There is room to change and grow. There is space for me.

I’m looking forward to offering this session to a few different groups. One is an existing group of teens who are pretty much on the fringes but meet together each month and are a tight supportive group. Another is a single mom’s group, and the third is my Art Lab regulars. Since the need this topic addresses is a baseline one that affects our outlook, it could be really strengthening to shift some core insecurities that these groups of people face, or any group that is willing to do some self-inquiry.