Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sharing the Dance

One evening during the summer of 1993 I awoke from my sleep with the images from my dream still present within the room. The dream had been of women of all ages and cultural backgrounds, in ceremonial dress, joyously dancing together. While they were interconnected, they also were respectful of each others boundaries. Their presence was so compelling that I got out of bed and began to sketch what I was seeing and write notes of the details if the images.

Two days later, an interior designer who sometimes commissioned me to create art for her clients called me and told me get her some sketches of women of all ages and cultural backgrounds, in ceremonial dress interacting together interdependently in a shared space. She was not able to tell me why she needed these drawings but conveyed that it was for an important project. Over time, I have grown to not be surprised by my dreams but, in this case, both she and I were stunned by the fact that I already had the rough drawing that she needed. I submitted the work to her and several months later, I was informed that my concept had been unanimously chosen by the Omaha YWCA Board of Directors to be recreated to commemorate their 100th anniversary.

It was both and honor and a joy to create "Sharing the Dance." As is the case in all of my major work, it became a part of me during the time that it was flowing from my mind and hands and taking form as colors, shapes and lines upon paper. "Sharing the Dance" felt like it was inspired, through me, by spirit. I continued to dream about it throughout the time that I was engrossed in its birthing and each woman that I drew spoke to me and became a manifestation of healing and awareness for the part of me that related to them. The majority of their clothing were adaptations of garments that I had designed and painted on silk fabrics, but two of the garments are embellished with motifs that are symbolic of the logo of the YWCA.

The completed work, a large mixed media drawing, hangs in the Omaha YWCA and it was reproduced and sold as a signed and numbered limited edition print. My most profound wish was that whomever saw the work would be able to experience the power of what I had felt while creating it. Later that year, the work was displayed at a large women's conference and the theme of the drawing was incorporated into a closing presentation. After the conference had ended, a young woman tearfully approached me and said that she wanted me to know the healing power she had felt while observing the picture and said that she had never before realized the significance of the support and community shared by women. Her words not only validated my work, but filled my heart with joy. My journey upon the path of artful healing for the human spirit had begun.

Information regarding purchasing of "Sharing the Dance" can be found here

Honoring the Dance

As a woman matures and enters into the phase of her life when she is considered elderly, her energy often turns to contemplating upon the legacy that she has created with her life. This part of her life reflects the qualities of the north on the medicine wheel. The north is focused upon wisdom, generosity of spirit and the path of right action.
In the energetic realm of the magnanimity of ones achievements being proportionate to their impact upon the world, the quality of size is nebulous. Seemingly small actions can have an immense impact that is far-reaching and enduring, while the flamboyance of what appears to be a massive achievement can project a minimal impact of little significance.
If she is wise, the elderly woman understands that her legacy is not an accumulation of wealth in the form of money, but in the wealth of her knowledge gained throughout life. Her legacy is the quality of love and compassion that she has received from and extended toward others. Her legacy is the wealth of her stories that can be shared with others that provide insight into the historical and cultural content of her life and that illustrate parallels of her behaviors and thought to those individuals who are younger than her.
The elderly woman draws upon all of the phases of her dance in this life to honor its complexity and totality. When she pursues life with a balanced and healthy perspective, she has the opportunity to nurture herself while honoring her needs on a deeper level and to rejoice more profoundly in the reverence of living. When she also extends her nurturing and wisdom to those who are beginning their dance, assisting them to honor themselves and to approach the dance with joy, the elderly woman stands in her true power.
A woman's legacy, in the end, is the invaluable asset of the gift of her Self and her willingness to be part of the dance.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rejoicing in the Dance

This post is the third in the series of vignettes from "Sharing the Dance", the drawing I created for the YWCA in 1993. I call this segment, "Rejoicing in the Dance." It is representative of the time in a woman's life and in the maturity level of her energy, when she can experience the gifts available to her during midlife.

At this time, much contemplation is often experienced, assessing where she has come from, reviewing what she has accomplished and discerning what she now wants to achieve in her life from this point on. With her children raised, she may experience the empty nest syndrome, yearning for a way to express her nurturing. In response to this yearning, dreams she had tucked away and put on hold will begin calling to her. When she directs her creative energy toward this calling and channels it into joyfully embracing the fullness that this period of life has to offer she will remember dance steps she had forgotten, adapt old ones and construct new ones.

This is a time for self-actualization, when she stands strong in her style and the way she presents herself to the world, regardless of what current trends may dictate to the public. Through the passing of time and the many things she has experienced in life, she has earned the knowledge of what works for her and what does not. A woman within this time of her life does not feel intimidated by going against the grain. If purple is not the popular choice for current fashion, she will wear it anyway and with glorious aplomb.

This can be a time of freedom on many levels. The symbolic quality of the years when the sun is setting can provide her spirit with a brilliant panorama of warmth and illumination. She is in the symbolic time of autumn when change and transformation are occurring. Regardless of challenges that may be presented to her at this time, rather than being a time of midlife crisis, this time in a woman's life can be a time of new awareness's and new beginnings. These are the years when, more than ever, a woman can attain a deeper quality of comfort with change and a rich sense of embracing the minutes available in each day to learn more, experience more, love more, laugh more...and to rejoice more in being part of the dance of life.

Nurturing the Dance

All women are creators. They are born with the ability to carry and birth new life. It is female energy that allows both men and women to birth life into the inspiration of creative new ideas that become projects of all kinds: visual art, music, homes, gardens and businesses. All creative ideas are like our children and, like children, thrive and can become strong and independent when love and nurturing are directed toward them. Their energy eventually withers and dissipates when they are in an environment of anger or are forced to mature with an excessive focus upon power and control.

The female aspect of nurturing energy assists to provide open, heart centered communication and emotional support that can achieve rapid growth and positive change. The quality of nurturing adds the component of safety to the dance of life. Safety encourages freedom...freedom to walk our walk and talk our talk...and freedom to feel safe enough to adapt the steps in our dance of life when the way we were no longer works with what we have been presented in life. Life changes...always...and so the dance must change. If we are afraid to change, and subsequently feel out of alignment, our personal power withers and dissipates and we ultimately become angry. Our fear flourishes.

The nurturing essence of healthy female energy is like a soft warm blanket that encircles you. It fills you and surrounds you with love, for yourself, and for the people with who you interact. The dance of life, when directed by compassion and nurturing, glides and flows easily with joy and harmony.

Are you feeling in need of nurturing? Do you have new ideas, projects or employees that need you to direct your nurturing energy upon them? Are you needing to reaffirm the creative, nurturing aspect of your female energy? Focus upon this aspect of yourself and ask what dance steps this energy can assist you to inject into your life.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Beginning the Dance

Each of us is composed of both male and female energies. Each of these energies has its own unique gifts and challenges. Regardless if an individual is a male or a female, both of these energies are needed, in a balanced and healthy form, to allow them to act upon their intuition, to think creatively and to move forward and act upon these ideas systematically and manifest their creative thoughts. Balanced male and female energy allows us to express our feelings, while at the same time, maintaining healthy boundaries.

The art above is one of four segments of a mixed media drawing, entitled, "Sharing the Dance," that I created in 1993 for the Omaha Nebraska YWCA. The complete work will be featured in a blog entry after all four of the segments are featured and discussed. Because the work was created for a woman's organization, it is about women. It is a journey through the growth of a woman, and symbolically, through the maturation of female energy.

This segment is about the invincible quality of youthful female energy. It assists us to remember that all things are possible when approached with joy and vitality. It reminds us that life is a dance...a dance that can be learned and a dance that we can create from our own personal rhythm. This level of female energy possesses both innocence and passion that can bring strength and healing when expressed from a place of balance. When out of balance these qualities can evolve into a victim mentality or excessive drama.

Do you feel like you need an injection of hopefulness? Are you missing the quality of playfulness in your life? Meditate upon the innocence and youthfulness of this facet of female energy, ask what is needed from you to remember this part of yourself...or think back upon a time when this quality was present in your life...remember it with as much clarity as you can and then breathe this awareness into you and allow it fill you up, nudging you to remember parts of the dance of life you have forgotten.