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Soul Hunger

At My Art Table Soul Hunger

An Artsy Gathering

September 27, 2016

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For a bit of time now I have wanted to have people over to my home,

to gather around the table to connect,

make some art and share our stories.  

An Artsy Gathering

Last week I did just that.

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 Funny enough, as simple as an art gathering sounds,

I was actually quite scared to do it.  

 

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You know, invite all the people.  Ask them to come over.  Into my actual house. And then feed them. Give them food and water. I’ll have to play hostess.  And then, horrors, ask them all to get their “artsy” on and make stuff with me.  Shiver.  This is terrifying stuff!

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 What if people think it’s weird?  Worse, what if people think I’m weird?

The “artsy fartsy” type, head in the clouds, woo woo.  For whatever reason I am always nervous about that.  Even though, really, I am quite grounded and practical.  I guess we all have these kinds of stories we grapple with that sometimes keep us from doing things we might want to do but are afraid to do them.

I’ll tell you, I have done more things that scare me in the last few months than maybe ever.  Not scary in the way of, let’s say, big life decisions or dealing with difficult people.  That is a different thing.  But still, putting yourself “out there” in a real way, showing up and being seen,  I reckon that deserves to be on a list of scary too.

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It can be quite challenging to unarm yourself, open up and metaphorically say, “here I am world, this is whatcha get with me”.  Perhaps it’s me being in my forties.  Something that only age can bring. This feels like both a gift to know this about myself, this is pretty much what I have to offer in all its’ goodness and all its’ shortcomings, while also being terrifying to stake a claim in that bit of truth.

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There is a wild sense of freedom in knowing and claiming,

“This is it.

 This is me.

This is who I am

This is what I can and cannot offer.”   

I did not have that as much when I was younger. It has been my observation that only age and life experience can give both privy to that knowledge and also the courage to build the framework of your life around it.   Okay, that and maybe being tired and worn down gives it to you  too.

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I bet you didn’t think a post about a silly little artsy gathering would go in this heavy direction.

Sometimes it is the simplest of things give the opportunity to show up and be seen.  

But sometimes it may be better for us to wait it out and stay private.

There is not a bad choice here. Sometimes you feel ready to go all out, go for broke, whoop and holler. Sometimes it is okay to stay cocooned and swaddled in our safe place until we are ready.  It is all about timing.  Really, it is okay to baby step our way into scary things.

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So, in this case I waited.  Until I didn’t.  At some point I just wanted to do this thing that had been in my mind and on my heart.  I wanted to gather people, eat some nourishing food, art together and to “talk story” like they say in Hawaii.

And we did and it was good.

 Guess what?

 No one thought it was weird.

I am pretty sure no one thought I was weird.  Even better, people want to come back!  The ones who couldn’t show up want to come to the next one.  It was good.  Really good.  A few of my friends who did not previously know each other discovered some common interests and discovered that they shared a similar personal struggle.  I was warmed up inside as I observed them hashing it out, supporting each other, and talking about what had helped them.

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See, that makes it so worth it and was exactly what I was hoping for. It was awesome. I am pretty sure I will do another one.  I am pretty sure I will feel nervous and apprehensive to do it.  Remember, I have to feed and water and art people. But I am also pretty sure I will give it a go again.  You know, just to show up, put it out there, let the magic happen.

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This is me.

 This is who I am.  

This is what I can offer.

And it feels pretty good to show up in just that way.

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Altered Playing Cards

In case you are wondering, these are simply altered playing cards.  Yes, just playing cards that have been collaged!  I love, love them because they are so NOT PRECIOUS! That means there is so much freedom in the creation of them.  They are cheap, plentiful, small.  You can use them as bookmarks, stash them in your wallet or bedside table, hang them on a mirror.  You can give them away to encourage someone who needs it.  And, to top it all off,  you can throw them away if you are not happy with them!  They are after all only a playing card!

Check out my pinterest page to see more examples, tutorials, and ideas for altered playing cards.

Also, be sure to check out Brave Girls Club for their version of altered cards called Truth Cards.  I love Brave Girls Club as they do many projects that are similar to this one, both in its scope of meaning and approachability.

I invite you to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss a post! 

It has been on my heart to share in this way and I want you to be there!

Copyright 2016 Shay Michelle All Rights Reserved

 

Soul Hunger

Brave Girls Symposium 2016

July 12, 2016

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Three days. Five hundred ladies. Led by the founders of Brave Girls Club,  Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins. Themed What Can Love Do?

I Want To Bring You There With Me
Imagine For A Minute  

Have you ever been to a rally, conference, or a Sunday morning at church where the feeling inside that room was electric?  Think about how it feels when singing the national anthem on July 4th or the vibe at a sporting event where everyone is cheering for their team.

You Know How That Feels…Alive?   

That situation when each persons’ hearts and spirit are in alignment with one another?   Where the intentions of the group come together to make one? How the stranger next to you suddenly crosses over some invisible boundary to become your comrade, your partner, your friend? Where for one moment in time it feels safe, accepted,  and encouraged to reach out to the person beside you even if you have no idea who they are, where they come from, what beliefs they hold? In essence, even if they are not like you or maybe they are just like you.  And with these virtual strangers you find yourself feeling and thinking, “I’m home. I’m home. I’m home”. Whew, power right there.  It makes me emotional just to write it.

That was Brave Girls Symposium, For Three Days Solid

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What Can Love Do?

This room was so full of the spirit of love, grace, and acceptance. Everyone should have the opportunity to come into a space like this and have the opportunity to get filled up in this way.  It was like the cracks in my heart and spirit got spackled, covered, and filled.  I came out feeling full in way that I hadn’t felt in a long time.  I almost forgot what it was like to feel that way.

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Typically, in a situation similar to this I would be pondering over about all the things in my life that I might change.  You know the drill, kind of like resolutions in the New Year.  I would walk away feeling inspired, yes, but also with this long list of all the things I needed to “fix”.  A laundry list.  Good stuff for sure, but not this time.  This time was different.  You know what I felt?

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Like It Was All Good

I want to say that again.  It was all good.  I felt so held,  so complete, so at PEACE ya’ll.  I’m serious.  It felt so freakin’ good to just sit in that warm bath of okay-ness.  I did not need that laundry list of things to work on. That was a really different outcome for me.  I thought to myself,

What if…

I really am okay, just now, just here, just like I am today?  Not fixed up, not perfected, not polished?

 What if…

I am held in this way by something greater than me that looks at me with tenderness and pride and says, “girl, it’s all good”.

 What if…

I am able to incorporate that feeling, that truth into my everyday life?  How might my life take form if I really believe, let it get into my bones, that I’m good just as I am? Might I love better and deeper?  Might I have more joy and less angst?  I bet I would.

 

Let Me Tell You About The Speakers 

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Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins

Melody Ross. Flora Bowley. Kelly Rae Roberts. Glennon Doyle Melton, Keri and Richard Paul Evans, and many more! All utterly amazing.  These people shared here.  They did not present. They laid it all out. I mean, really, they put on their bravery, laid down their armour, got dirty and shared.   Know what that brings?  Connection and inspiration.  That act of courage?  That’s generosity right there. These people were generous in their spirit of showing up with humility and the belief that their tender personal stories might help someone else in some way. Generosity to its’ core.  Good stuff, I’ll tell ya.

 

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Kelly Rae Roberts

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Flora Bowley

 

Of course, no awesome, love filled retreat would be complete without good food, a hotel and grounds that were decked out with artfully creative decor, shopping, music and dance, and The Goodie Bag. Do we not love The Goodie Bag? You know what I’m talking about here. You want to show me some love?  The Goodie Bag. Want me to feel welcomed?  The Goodie Bag.  I know all you ladies are shaking your heads right now going, “mmm, hmmm.”  Right?  We looove The Goodie Bag.  Basically, every inch of that space someone thoughtfully presented for all of us.

 It Was Evident That Brave Girls Club Intended To Show Love In Those Spaces

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Man, don’t we need some of this in our lives?  Don’t we want to be in a place where we have the chance to feel complete and accepted just as we are?  Good news.  They are having a Brave Girls Symposium 2017!  Woo hoo!  You can go too!  I’m going.  I’m already signed up!  People, if you can get there next year, go.  It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are, what you’ve been through, and this is not just an “artsy” thing, this is a heart thing.

If You Need Some Encouragement and to Fill Up That Cup of Yours, GO!!

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Copyright 2016 Shay Michelle All Rights Reserved

Soul Hunger

Bravely Speaking Kind Thoughts

June 30, 2016
blog-friends

I have a philosophy.  It goes like this.

 If I Am With Someone and I am Thinking Kind or Encouraging Thoughts About Them,

I Bravely Step Out and Tell Them What I am Thinking

It is a bold and risky move but it is a principle that guides my life.  I don’t keep uplifting thoughts to myself.  I say them. Now, here is the risk. Risk in being vulnerable. Risk at being awkward.  It really isn’t within social norms to speak real, sincere words of encouragement to people, particularly if these are not people we are already close to.

I Feel That Words Have Power

Power to heal, to connect, and to help others feel seen and validated.  I think this can change people, bring them hope, and turn on the light that is inside of them. For example, if I am thinking to myself that someone is doing a good job at something, or if they are inspirational in some way, if they live their lives with courage, or some such thing, I might think encouraging thoughts about them, but then the thoughts could just sort of sit there inside of me. I often think, does it really do the good that it can do if all these encouraging thoughts just sit inside of my head? What good is it, for only me to know? If I walked away from the conversation with only myself to bear witness to it?  What if I just…shared it instead?

How much better would it be if those thoughts could be birthed into conversations that can bring about healing, growth, and connection? What if I had the courage to buck social norms, go ahead and get awkward, let down my guard, and instead choose a spirit of generosity to speak these kind words? So I choose to do it. Sometimes it goes awkward.  The person is taken aback or feels exposed.  The conversation doesn’t follow typical social protocol.  Maybe the person thinks I am just odd.  But you know what?

 I Am Okay With Risking Being Seen as Odd Every Once in a While

Why? Because time and time again, way more often than not,  I speak those encouraging words and  I can see change in the person I am talking to.  I see their posture straighten up and their bodies relax.  I often see their face soften as a flood of relief comes in. Their spirit lights up.  I can visibly see the relief and appreciation of being seen. It is worth the risk of being awkward or vulnerable.  What stands to be gained both for them and for me is so great and is so worth it because our words have power.

So, if we are naturally thinking kind and encouraging thoughts, let’s go ahead and say them.The world needs to hear it. People are so very hungry to feel seen and to be heard.  Our words have the power to facilitate that.

Let’s Step Out and Bravely Speak Kind Thoughts!

 

Copyright 2016 Shay Michelle  All Rights Reserved

Soul Hunger

3 Ways to Make Peace With Fear

June 30, 2016

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I have been talking to some friends lately about fear, theirs and mine.  I have noticed a pattern in the way we internalize our fears.

Fear Has a Sort of  “Double Punch, a One, Two Whammy”

It looks like this. Punch one, the initial fear. It can be about anything, our children, our jobs, the future, who we are or aren’t, finding our place in the world, all kinds of fears. The named and unnamed. The known and unknown.  Punch two?  A sidekick, a secondary emotion that closely follows. This emotion is less detectable but equally as debilitating. Now instead of having the one troubling emotion, fear, we now have doubled it to have two. That’s the “double punch”.  Fear with inadequacy.  Fear with guilt. Fear with desperation. The original fear followed by the fear of the fear. Sound familiar?  When I am in the ring with this “double punch, a one, two whammy”, I begin to dissect fear and its side-saddle friend. Taking a mental step back to get some distance from fear helps to see fear (and myself in that fear) in a more kind, compassionate way. A way that helps to gain steady solid ground involving truth instead of getting pummeled in the fight.  Here are three things that can help to make peace with fear.

1. Fear is What Makes Us Human

Fear is part of our makeup as human beings. We are biologically bound to experience fear. Our bodies are hardwired for this emotion. Humans have experienced this since the beginning of time. We cannot ban it from ourselves or be rid of it.  There simply is no life without fear.  Even though the media and social culture would like us to think otherwise, it isn’t the truth.  We cannot deny what we are hardwired to experience. Recognizing this as truth can help to make fear feel like a more normalized experience.  It is helpful to let go of this ideal that we should beat fear, put it in its place, yell at it and demand that it back down!!  Oh,what a pressure and heavy load to have to constantly shun fear or somehow be shamed by both our fear and our inability to quickly and efficiently snap it into place.

2. Fear is a Common Denominator

Everyone has fears.  We are never alone or the only ones who have fear.  There is no fear that I may have that some other person has not already had.  How do I know?  Because we are all human and our emotions are our common denominator.  True, our life experiences and our stories might be different, but the emotions that are around those experiences are the same.  They put us on an equal playing field and assure us that being in fear is not unique to only ourselves.  We are in this together. When we are in fear let us find comfort in that.

3. Fear Can Be Good and Even Necessary

Healthy balanced fear can be good for us.  Think about it.  Fear is what helps us to get our children to the doctor when they are sick.  Fear is what helps to keep us from breaking the rules and promotes social order.  Fear can keep us in community if we follow our natural instinct to connect.   Sometimes I think about what this would look like in primal days.  We were meant to live in community to keep each other safe.  We wouldn’t want to wonder off alone into the mountains or the field away from the protection of our community.  Even though we aren’t living in those primal times our biological make up and needs are still very similar.  If taken to an extreme, a person without fear is one who is in danger or without consciousness.  Fear can be a helper to us and is necessary in our lives.  Let’s allow it its rightful place.

I think of making peace with fear in terms of fear in a child.  If a child has a fear of the dark I do not have the expectation that they are inadequate for having the fear, nor of not being able to put their fears aside.  I do not expect them to look at the fear with logic in order to “logic it away”.   I don’t yell at them, distance myself, or allow our relationship  or connection to suffer in any way because they are in fear.  Their fear does not scare me, move me, cause me to wither or puff up.  It does not threaten me in any way.  I simply stay with them, rub their back, speak soothing words, and show them understanding.  I do this for as long as they need to process through their fears.  I cannot take their fear away from them but I can provide a source of strength and comfort until they can feel their way back to safety.  If I can do this for a child, I can also do this for the child that is within me. We can do this for the child and places of fear within each of ourselves.

Next time we experience the “double punch, one, two whammy”, let’s move through our fears in a mindful way and use these principles to make peace with fear. Buffering fear with kindness and self compassion is key to softening and finding hope when we are in the arena getting sucker punched by fear and its sidekicks.

 

Copyright 2016 Shay Michelle All Rights Reserved