Circles (May 13-19, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

This past week has been another full one, and I am happy to say that despite a long rough week, Erin, my sister-in-law, is now recovering at home... I am so grateful for all the thoughts, love, and prayers coming to them, and appreciate the ongoing flow, as they will need them for the next legs of the journey.   Much goodness to all of you in the week to come, and thank you for following me along here... you all enliven and support my personal circle in so many ongoing and deep ways...

("This morning, I am holding the energy of my mama, surrounded by her presence which continues powerfully in my life. As I mother my own two boys, I come to know better what she sacrificed in raising us, and most importantly, how she gave deeply of herself in ways too numerous to count. I am aware of how she lives on in me and in my boys, thankful for her love, grit, and gentleness. And I extend this gratitude of being mothered to my sisters (and in-laws) and my female friends, both for their strong examples of mothering, as well as for the nurturing and loving they have shared with me. Let us all remember those who have inspired, comforted, and buoyed us up with their feminine energy, and pass it on to those who need it.")


("This morning circle is for Erin, my younger brother’s wife... this past week she was very suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with colon cancer, underwent surgery, and is now working to recover so that she can begin chemotherapy in 4-6 weeks for her involved liver. Erin is young, 43, and strong, as is her family... they have 4 daughters, and a beautiful family. I am painting on her behalf, asking for all the prayers, love, support, and positive energy that we can muster to lift her and my brother John and their girls up during this beyond-words-or-images time. I know they will appreciate the collective love surrounding them, infusing their beings with healing, strength, courage, and deep hope.")


("I was contemplating with a loved one the other day about how it is even possible to cope with what emerges in each life when it can be so overwhelming. I continue to be in awe of the human capacity to find courage within to walk into what most scares us, and to face it in the midst of the unknown. I am grateful that we are able to hold space for each other and share love along the way, all the while knowing we can not do some of the most difficult work for each other. Wishing you all the strength and empowerment to face what is most challenging in your life, and hoping we can all feel the light that remains present in the struggle.")


("We continue to hold space with Erin, John, and their girls as they endure the long wait for test results... We are grateful and deeply moved by the outpouring of compassion, love, and prayers— let us continue to hold them and one another in our waiting.")


("This morning I awakened under a canopy of trees, surrounded by my beloveds as well as ten other families @redoaks_explorers. As the birds sing their early morning chorus, the chirps of children are beginning to fill the air. Songs around the campfire last night elicited much gratitude for the unexpected absence of rain... I am aware of the privilege of togetherness— in partnership, family, and friends, both near and far. I am thankful for the ways we complement and balance one another, growing throughout each experience of interchange. We all share this journey together.")


("This morning’s painting was an exercise in brevity, as I attempted to avoid the raindrops that began to fall within moments of beginning. I found it fitting that the randomly placed swish of the black brush left marks reminiscent of a bird in flight. I could not help but smile as I thought of us all packing up in this light rain, which we were so fortunate to largely avoid, heading home to our own secure nests.")


("Having spent hours watching the flickers of the bonfire, I came away remembering the vast nature of the flames... how they changed in intensity from the initial low and calm, to full, bright, and wild. We watched, mesmerized, as “magic dust” was sprinkled into its center, creating striking flames infused with color in the flares that followed... Reflecting on the brushstrokes that filled the circle on my paper, my mind connected with how much raising children (and ourselves in the process) is much like tending a fire and keeping it stoked to continue burning. Although we are in different stages of parenting our children, we each seek to find what nurtures them, unique as they are in the ages, needs, and interests that draw them out to their full potential. We learn from each other’s experience throughout this delicate task, as well as share how we keep our own flames alight, perhaps renewing exploration of what colors may yet emerge out of our own unexpressed sparks and inner fire. Let us all nurture this enkindling wherever warmth and light are needed.")

Circles of Life ( May 6-12, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

This week began with a posting about celebration of life-- that of my son as he celebrated his 14th birthday with friends and family... and the week continued with a different level of facing the preciousness of life.  On Wednesday, we heard the unexpected news that my 43 year old sister-in-law, Erin, was rushed to the emergency room the previous night, and after exploratory CT scans, diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.  The shock of such news in those we love has no adequate preparation, and my brother John and their 4 girls, as well as family and friends, are facing this news by rallying around to support her and the whole family in the gravity of this unexpected journey.  

Erin underwent major surgery on Friday, which was successful, and now will recover 4-6 weeks before starting chemotherapy for the involvement of her liver.  She asks for as much prayer and support and love as can be sent her way, and for her family, especially John, "who is my number one support" (as said by Erin), and their children.   Please muster all the positive energy you can to support her  healing and recovery, and strength for her entire family and all those who love her through this incredible challenge.  We love them all dearly, and want them to be surrounded by as much sustenance as possible.  I know they will feel your love and care, and I thank each of your for your prayers and holding of space for them.  Gratitude beyond words...

("Yesterday we awoke to dark rainy skies, and proceeded to a farm, where we celebrated my son’s 14th birthday. Completely undaunted by the existing conditions, the kids headed immediately out of the shelter and onto the green grassy hills, hours of intermittent rain pounding their uncaring bodies as they played Capture the Flag, all ages mingling in the freshness of the air. They created music and sang for a long while before returning for a power game of Red Rover, parents cheering from the sidelines as if it were the finals of some big game. But the kicker of the whole day was the kids quite literally sinking into the joy of mud, which began with a single sling by one of the remaining kids, and ended with head-to-toe encasement in this most primal element of the earth. I do not think any of us has laughed that hard or long in some time. We drove home still laughing, filled with the reminder of the simple power of play and friendship. Wishing you all the same today...")


("This painting took way longer than it “should” have, and not because the end result is particularly wonderful, haha... it is because I could not leave it alone, and the more I tried to accentuate the separate spaces, the more they bled together. I was eventually left with the choice to blend in the parts that had bled together, and make them cohesive, or ditch the painting, which I promised myself I would not do in this daily discipline— I vowed to work with each circle, love it or not, develop it the best I could, and call it a day. This is what we all do every day, I realize— work with what we have, try to integrate and honor even the pieces we would rather disown and keep separate. It occurred to me that I was only able to relax when I could see the beauty that resulted in the parts that came together here, seeing that they softened some of the hard edges. Aware, once again, of my own inner resistance to acceptance of things I find less than appealing. Happy this bit of pigment, water, and paper made me mindful of this dynamic and gave me a visual to remember its message.")


("As I age and face my own health and that of those I hold dear, I reflect often on how to heal in ways that attend to both my inner and outer needs. We are all a balance of these energies, and like the spaces which I all too often try to keep separate, one is part of the other, as inseparable as I am from the genes that are my blueprint. I wish generosity of compassion, courage, and hope for all that are coping with illness in their minds, bodies, and spirits. As one wise woman with whom I work has often reminded me, our whole beings strive to be well and to heal what needs healing— it is deeply rooted in our nature...")


("As I wake each day, I feel an ongoing struggle with tending to my own growth as I care for the daily needs of my children, and stay connected to our family and friends. It occurs to me that the same soil that feeds my children and spouse and those I love, is the same soil that feeds me, and that we all must depend on a consistent flow of water, nourishment, and sunlight in order for our lives to flourish. Time, energy, and resources are needed to make this happen for each one of us, and all are pulled in many directions. My hope is that each day, we can find small ways to remain fortified and balanced, teaching our children and ourselves that there is enough light for us all, and that flowering is not only possible, but vital.")


("As the rain is pouring down on the patches of dirt outside my window, I am reflecting on how naturally and effortlessly water soaks into parched earth, and how I wish I could just send this ease of healing for those who need it... We can all radiate out love, and reflect back the courage and inner strength of those who are in this difficult place, letting them know they are surrounded by deep love and immense hope...")


("Holding space and prayers and support for loved ones in the very heavy place of waiting today, surrounding them with calm, extra breath, trust, and hope for healing.")


("Often when I walk, I come across imprints of animals that have crossed before me. I always wonder where they were going, if they were traveling alone or with another... I reflect on my own life and the tracks that have influenced who I am, grateful for the lessons that have already come and the potent possibility contained in those yet to come. Today, I want to remember with gratitude all those who shape my life, as well as hold awareness for the many ways we can shape each other’s. It is empowering to know that always, there is the chance to make positive difference in each other’s lives.")


Circle Round (April 22-May 5, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

We are happy to be coming up for air after a very full past 2 weeks, packed with theater and birthday celebrations for our oldest son.  I am grateful for all of the lessons that came from a wide variety of experiences with friends and our own small family unit, and look forward to this month of May unfolding with more to come...  wishing you all fresh air and a joyful sinking in to this beautiful month!

("Peacefulness comes like a balm on days I get to stay home, the luxury of being in my own space and rhythm, choosing how to spend the precious time. Because these days are increasingly rare as my children are entering busier times in their lives, I am reminding myself to sink into the gratitude for what free time I do have, to focus on the aliveness that is inside my children and myself, and to connect to the abundance of energy that is erupting outdoors with spring. Although this circle is full of cool colors, they always feel full of potent energy for me, as if containing pure Spirit. Wishing you all space, flow, and vitality today as you fill yourselves up before beginning a new week...")


("I am appreciating simplicity this morning, and the small spaces that can be created by line. I am drawn to these enclosures that exist in nature, and find myself repeating them often in my work. Perhaps because they look like ideal places to rest, protected from the bustle of outside life. Wishing you all sacred spaces to rest in your week ahead...")


("Walking in the pouring rain with our dog this morning, I turned off my flashlight, realizing there was enough graying light to see the contours of the land. What my eyes could not quite register, were the brambles that are beginning to sprout up at knee height, as they do every spring. It made me catch my footing, and to reflect on how perennial in nature thorns are in our lives— some that come to bear fruit, and some that just remain painful in their protective purpose. The color that blankets the hillside as they come alive every year, especially in the rain, lends a deep magenta-purple hue, also stops me in my tracks. I remind myself to find beauty where I can, and to step back enough to evaluate what needs pruning, or is left to run out its own course of life...")


("We are midstream into tech week for our homeschooling theater group, the production being this weekend. Today we head to the actual theater, where we will spend many hours a day, bringing together what they have worked so hard on this whole year long. From the last 2 years’ experience, I know we feel a bit like bats by the end of the long run, having been deep inside the cave with no windows for days on end. I think my mind needed to create some open space this morning, to carry inside us all. Here’s to light within!")


("Some mornings when the resistance comes that can make me sit and anxiously stare at the blank circle, I am aware of the quickly passing minutes that bring me closer to the realities of the day unfolding... I eventually make myself pick up my brush, pick whichever color I am drawn to, and rapidly make a line across the page. Often, that is the hardest step, even though there is not one single threat that is real about beginning (or continuing). This part of the human psyche is curious to me, and makes me realize it holds true for so many parts of our lives— beginning is often the hardest part. Wishing you ease in beginning things that are awaiting action, however big or small they may be :).")


("When I got to the bottom of the land with the dog this morning, I adjusted my flashlight to a brighter beam, as I could smell that a skunk was nearby. Much to my dismay, the rechargeable batteries gave out, and I was left in darkness, only the faintest outline of the hill behind me. I immediately laughed, as I often do when stressed, and reminded myself that I know the land, and that my feet, legs, and vestibular system know the incline, muscle memory being what it is. I took a breath away from the scent of the skunk, and began trodding steadily uphill, hoping she was not following. Our theater kids filled my mind and heart then— just how fearless they are in getting up on that stage, day after day, long hours, much feedback and processing... and every single one of them facing their own obstacles in standing in their own two feet, finding their voice, and busting through resistance into their courage. I have so much respect for these kids, and such gratitude for working alongside them, absorbing the powerful lessons they teach us all.")


("Diversity is such an integral part of life, whether it be human, animal, plant, or the environments surrounding us that we call home. I am grateful for experiences that deepen my appreciation for diversity in all its forms, and remind myself to seek out and celebrate them whenever I can. This world in which we live is incredibly rich with uniqueness, and I am grateful that our children are growing up with more awareness. Let’s find ways to open to and honor differences in the many beautiful forms they exist, especially people. We can learn so much from what is unfamiliar to us if we risk being receptive.")


("Redbuds are one of the most splendid of trees for me, bringing me always back to where I grew up in the hills of Indiana, where dogwoods grew alongside, dotting the woods like polka dots of unexpected color for the precious weeks they bloomed. I am grateful that redbuds grow in KY, as well, and for the city workers who no longer attempt to clear our property edge that meets the gravel road leading to the hollow below— after 10 years of running out to greet the workers, arms waving wildly before the blades were to be lowered, we now have a lovely row of redbuds that border our property all the way down to the creek. This feels like magic to me, the simple act of leaving nature alone and letting it flourish in ways that bring beauty, shelter for the birds, and much needed shade on these pasture hills. Perhaps there is a lesson in there for letting parts of ourselves become who we are meant to be, even taking years in the making...")


("Awakening this morning to the palpable relief in our house that follows final productions of my boys’ plays... there is nothing quite like that freedom, knowing the day lays ahead, wide open, carried by the energy of having been part of a powerful whole that brought laughter, enjoyment, accomplishment, and joy to all involved. I could not be more proud of all the kids, and grateful for the hard work and dedication of all the parents involved, and for the supportive families who sustained us especially in this last 10 days of push! My heart is full as my body and mind are tired. Wishing the joy of liberation to all today!")


("The privilege of voice is an awareness very present for me lately—watching the kids use theirs so bravely in theater and finding mine to speak these simple reflections each day. A friend and I were talking about it, and she did not realize that I have not always been so vocal. Not at all. It has been a painstakingly slow progression that started with my work in social work, grew with trusted friends and family over decades, and has only very recently taken a risk into the more vulnerable public realm. It is not easy, but I think it is important that we speak what we have so say, if we feel so inclined. It is not about having any answers or special insights, but the act of sharing and connecting with others about our human experience. That is powerful in ways that I could not have anticipated, and profoundly healing. We all have rich life experience, stories, gifts to offer when we can slow down, inquire, gently listen... I am grateful beyond words for the gift of being able to speak up now, and for a supportive circle in which to share! Thank goodness we can offer each other support in this growing of ourselves...")


("The mind is a mysterious thing... if left to breathe, it will wander and place color, line, forms that are swirling around in our unconscious. “Portal” is the first word that came to mind when I finished this one, and I am left wandering which gateways are yet unexplored in my life... where I still need to go, where I still want to go. I feel deep gratitude for the privilege of having the freedom to not only ask, but explore, those questions. Wishing you the same permission to peek into your own mind and see what is waiting to be revealed to you...")


("Yesterday we were driving home from a day spent beautifully with friends in the woods, and drove by a terrible accident. The stark contrast of my experience with those receiving emergency support could not have been more different, and I immediately felt the preciousness of life. Today marks the 44th anniversary of my father, who left this world much too young and too quickly. Losing him taught my family not just that death can come at any time, but the importance of holding this awareness, embracing life as fully as we can every day we are lucky enough to see the sun rise. I am sitting outside as the sun is cresting the trees, listening to the birds sing. Gifts abound...")


("As may be obvious, I rarely work in black and white. Today, I decided to delve into the black paint pan, which has been beckoning for me to return to its rich depth of pigment, enabling immediate stark contrast when placed on the white paper. I loved working in ebony pencil when I first learned to draw, and for years after, yet veered into the land of color, intensifying over the years as I let myself be immersed in its vibrancy. I found a grounding soothing quality to the black paint, smiling at the ease of gradation created merely by water coming off my brush against these stark edges. I felt relief as the grays began to emerge... this did not surprise me, as I am a person who very much gravitates towards the grays, rather than extremes. The complexity of life reflects this concept profoundly, and is a daily topic of discussion with my boys, who continue to examine these polarities and all that lies between, themselves. I am grateful to be with them in their discernment, and to continue working on softening my own extremes when needed.")


("What is it that keeps living beings moving towards the light? There are countless stories in the news and in our own lives and nature that exemplify this resiliency over and over again, despite unthinkable circumstances. I am feeling gratitude this morning for the power of the spirit to overcome, and the drive to keep going. Wishing you all momentum and light where you need it most...")