Talking Sticks

Search for Yourself, by Yourself

Search for Yourself, by Yourself

Do not allow others to make your paths for you. It is your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. Accept yourself and your actions. Own your thoughts. Speak up when wrong, and apologize. Know your path at all times. To do this you must know yourself inside and out, accept your gifts as well as your shortcomings, and grow each day with honesty, integrity, compassion, faith, and brotherhood.  ~Terri Jean

I love this quote though may I add, “sisterhood”  to this as well. The quote is from 365 Days of Walking the Red Road – The Native American Path to Leading a Spiritual Life Every Day.

I’ve become increasingly fascinated by the Native American culture. The more I learn and understand, the more my heart breaks for what I feel is such a disservice we did to the Native American’s in our history. How we thought our way was better. How that caused great distress and harm to the Native American’s and to the earth and to our ourselves.

Their connection to the earth, plants, animals,  sky, and the Creator, and the wisdom this offers is something I feel more drawn to everyday of my life. How their connection to all living things is what they instill in their everyday practices and rituals to guide their lives. 

Author Kent Nerburn quotes Ohiyesa, a great Dakota teacher and thinker in his book, Voices in the Stones – Life Lessons from the Native Way, “Each soul must meet the morning sun, the new sweet earth, and the Great Silence alone.”

He goes on to write, “There is no need to justify the purity or sufficiency of your spiritual convictions, no need to defend them through theology or philosophy or argumentation. All that is necessary is that you acknowledge the Great Mystery that is behind everything and present in everything.”

Having read this last night and then the quote from Terri Jean about walking your own road alone this morning, accepting your gifts and your shortcomings, and understanding that the road is yours alone to travel really hit home for me today.

We all take wrong turns in life. I was reminded of that today having just let go of something I thought I wanted to pursue and realizing I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons. I’d lost my way of who I was.

What I’m grateful for is that I found myself back to what matters most to me in a relatively short period of time and didn’t spend too much time traveling down what I feel was the wrong road for me.

It was by being in silence and having an honest conversation with myself that I realized an opportunity I was looking to follow wasn’t coming from my heart. When I took the time to tune back into who I authentically I am it became clear that the intention and committment I made to pursue teaching workshops and SoulCollage® workshops is exactly where I want to be.

While the other road I took for a very short time may have afforded me the opportunity to gain more financially, it didn’t speak to my soul of how I want to continue making a difference where I can.

As I read the teachings of the Dakota teacher in Nerburn’s book I was reminded that being open to the Great Mystery, having faith, and trusting the path ahead when walked with integrity and from the compassion in my heart is the right road for me to walk….

And my spirit soars for having found my way back to myself, by myself.


Space still available for Talking Sticks Workshop at Joyful Pause Studio, this Saturday, March 4th, 10am-12:30pm.

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Welcoming the Light. Gathered in Wise Women Circle.

Welcoming the Light. Gathered in Wise Women Circle.

Last weekend I was putting the finishes touches on preparing for a Talking Sticks workshop which I held at my studio, Joyful Pause, this past Wednesday on the Winter Solstice.

The drum, loaned to me by my co-facilitator, Rachel, lay on the ottoman in my writing cottage with the Talking Stick on top which I’d created with Rachel a few weeks before.

Welcoming the Light. Gathered in Wise Women Circle.
My heart intention for 2017 is to focus on offering more workshops to provide moments of stillness, sacred wisdom and reflection for women . It’s something I’m feeling called to do, even when fear tries to take over.

When I saw the light cascading over the drum and my Talking Stick, well, I couldn’t help but feel this as confirmation. 

The early evening sky an hour before the workshop was glorious in it’s shades of pink, coral, and purple as only a winter sky can be. So much promise in that sky, I thought.

As six dear, wise, soulful women gathered in a circle for meditation and drumming, the light within my inner world ignited.

Afterwards, as each took a spot at a table with sticks, beads, string, stones, and totem jewels before them, I found myself in a meditative trance watching them, as if I was wrapped in a sacred cocoon.

As everyone worked on their Talking Sticks, I took a moment to place my stick, along with Rachel’s, on the altar and lit the candles. When I stood back to look, everything coming into full view with the backdrop of one of my tree Goddess paintings, and I suddenly felt very moved. 

Welcoming the Light. Gathered in Wise Women Circle.
It was then that I realized that within the darkness where the roots of a tree lie, there is also light that comes in from above, nourishing them. Just as it is for each of us when we pause in moments of reflection and open to it.

After journaling with our Talking Sticks, we gathered back in circle to talk about the experience. As each person held their Talking Stick it was a practice in our intention of speaking, while others practiced attention in listening…really listening.

For the closing ceremony we each laid our Talking Stick beside the drum in the center, paying tribute to silently witnessing each other where we were in the moment, and what we hope to move toward…each of us wanting to be a divine spark of light that contributes to this world in a healing way.

It was palpable and I was quite moved.

Closing with a Cherokee prayer I read, we then all mindfully began to shift our awareness to saying goodbye for the evening.

But not before taking a picture of the altar we had created as one with the spirit of each of us infused within it.

It was then I was struck again, seeing the altar through the lens of my camera, that I realized our altar with drum and Talking Sticks resembled the sun… a reminder that the light is always there. 

It is always there.

The world will be saved by the Western Woman. ~Dalai Lama

*The next Talking Sticks workshop will be on Saturday, March 4th. Time TBD (mid-morning). If you wish to be notified when registration opens, you can sign up here.

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This Thanksgiving – I am Grateful for Hope and More Sparks of Light.

artwork by Shannon Brack Winter

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do. – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I share this section above from an article I read this morning by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who is also author of Women Who Run with Wolves. I found myself getting choked up reading it because it solidifies once again my own commitment to not giving up on hope and moving forward in continuing to let my light shine out into this world.

I know so many (including myself at times) can feel overwhelmed when situations around us feel so big and out of control like many things have of late— and we can be left to feel helpless and not sure what we can each do. But I’m reminded once again, which has lit a fire within me, that there is hope. You are hope. I am hope. And we can each make a difference by being that hope so that it spreads to another who needs hope.

It just so happened that after reading this piece from Estes today, I had plans to be with a dear, young soul, named Rachel. I’ve known her for a few years, but have had the pleasure of getting to know her better lately. We have come together and will be teaching a workshop that we both happened to discover we were both interested in offering. So we decided to combine our energy and efforts to do so.

We will be teaching a workshop on the meaning of a Native American tradition called Talking Sticks, to be held in December on the night of the solstice. Today we met so we could experience for ourselves the magic and power in creating our own Talking Stick —an experience so rich and beautiful that I am still soaking in all that it brought to my soul in such a positive and uplifting way.

We are both passionate about encouraging others to open to their intuition so that others can experience the many gifts this has to offer and enrich ones life.

After being with Rachel who is twenty years younger than me, having read Estes article of hope, and thinking about Thanksgiving tomorrow, I’m feeling full up with gratitude and a huge helping of hope for the future not only for myself, but for others too who commit to finding a way to be who they are meant to be…and to not lose hope.

While I know it may likely be a rocky road for many, I also know that in order to achieve that light within oneself, the journey calls for looking within, really listening, and honoring those whispers that want to come forth. It’s my hope that my blog, future workshops I offer, and just by being who I authentically am, will be part of that hopeful, positive light that shines out as a beacon of promise, and by default will give permission to others to let the light of their true self shine, too. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Talking Sticks workshop, please visit my workshop page here.

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