Question #27

I’ve been holding off answering this next CoAnQuMo question because it has felt, well, a bit weighty for me. I think I can attempt to answer it today. I took a nice run/walk through Ravenna Park and I feel, for the moment, strong enough to answer.

Here’s the question: How has your transition been from bodywork into your new ventures?

Here’s my first answer: Very hard. Like a slug to the gut.

I basically took out my steady income stream (massage therapy) and I am currently quite underemployed.

IMG_20130708_203634I took a sabbatical over the summer to assess the past seven years of my bodywork practice and decided, with much deliberation and hair pulling and meditation and journaling, that massage therapy would no longer be the main focus of my business. For now. At least for now. Maybe forever, but that feels too final. I can’t quite go there.

I developed a new menu of services that felt like more of an integration of the healing arts and creative arts and have had very little turnover from my former clients. That makes sense. People who want full-body massages want full-body massages!

So the whole process has been painstaking, heart-wrenching, and the results (in terms of overall participation), to be very honest, have been disappointing.

This is just one lens from which I look at my transition.

Here’s my second answer: Truly exciting!

20130615_110459

My path to move away from giving full-body massages and into integrated mind-body sessions and personal growth coaching feels in alignment with where I am emotionally, energetically, and creatively right now. These sessions are few and far between so far (see my first answer), but I am accepting that is what is right now. I am grateful for the few sessions I give.

With my schedule much more open, I have been able to help friends in need and gift Reiki sessions. I’ve given Reiki in the ICU, at hospital beds, doctor’s office waiting rooms, the ER, and more. It’s been intense, but incredibly poignant and meaningful for me.

listen

Most importantly, I have been focusing more on my art and writing. I’ve hosted two Virtual Art Sales for two different friends going through chemo treatments. And I have been doing a lot of soul-searching about what I want to do with my art. I’ve realized over these past several months that I definitely want my art and art products “out there,” and that I can’t do it all on my own. So I am looking into becoming a licensed artist. This new vision inspires me and lifts me up. I feel light for the first time in so long.

IMG_20130713_152223

To be able to affect people through the healing images and messages in my art is a way I can honor my past as a healer and integrate all of my healing experiences. Each art piece, even more so now, has a healing infusion. This is the true marriage of healing and art I’ve been waiting to witness first hand.

I want to affect people’s emotional well being through my art and writing.

There. I said it.

Am I still upright? I guess so. Speaking my truth didn’t make me pass out! (I promise doing so for yourself won’t create spontaneous fainting either!)

And some very exciting news just emerged out of all of this soul-searching and hard work. I just learned that I got my very first book contract! Schiffer Publishing out of Pennsylvania is going to publish my book/card deck called Body Cards: Insight from the Body, Wisdom for the Soul. I am elated. This has been a decade long project, that spent a few years in my closet, and now not only gets to see the light of day, but will reach many people. I am still asking to be pinched. It doesn’t seem quite real. At this point, it looks like a Spring 2015 launch is the plan.

This whole “what do I do with my life work” journey has been agonizing and delicious, painful and poignant, confusing and aligning. It’s like the past six months has been about my trying to find my north star. Now I can see my star. There is more clarity, even when I feel disappointment. Even when my bank account is low. Even when my days seem to run together. Even so. Even so.

IMG_20130712_205354

And even with all of this good art and writing stuff in the works, the reality is that I just can’t quite make ends meet right now. I am in search of a part-time job for the first time in over a decade. Gulp!  This is just what it is. Wish me luck finding something that will ground me financially as I dream my big artful dreams!

with gratitude and guiding stars,

SignatureFirstName

Posted in art, bodywork, creativity, grief and loss, healing, inspiration, life events, life lessons, personal growth, photography, Reiki, spirituality, wisdom, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Question #26

Here’s a great question from a reader:

I am a constant worrier. And I particularly worry about the future. Do you have any strategies that might help me be more in the present moment — and more at peace with what is?

First I will say that I am not an expert on worry-transformation, but having been a life-long worrier warrior myself, I do have some insights on the subject that might help.

herenowfeelit

There are so many types of worry: worry about our health, worry about what other people think of us, worry about death, worry about things not being perfect, worry about being in social situations, worry about speaking in public, worry about success, worry about failure, worry about the safety of our loved ones…and the list goes on.

Here’s a first-step strategy: Write all your worries down.

Get them all out there on the page, no matter how intense or strange or embarrassing they may seem. The key is to get them out of your head so you don’t have to hold onto them. It’s heavy holding on to all those worries! Chronic worriers often have headaches, shoulder and neck pain, and feel like they have a buzzy or floaty mind. Can you relate?

It’s okay if it takes a while to get your worries onto the page. You know when you’ve hit a stopping point when you sigh, yawn, or take a deep breath in acknowledgment. Trust your body.

Now look back at your list and see if there are any themes or any words you repeat or ways in which some worries are tied to others. For instance, a worry about health, for example, might feel connected to a worry about death for you. Don’t try to analyze too much, just circle, underline, or highlight important words, phrases, and concepts, and notice any connections.

The purpose of connecting the worries and finding themes is to help with the feeling of overwhelm with so many thoughts. Finding these connections also leads to part two of the exercise.

wintersonquote

Here’s your second step: Draw your worry groupings/themes.

Worries can feel like cyclones that we’re trying to manage. By visually representing them and grouping them, you are effectively slowing down the cyclone in your mind-body. I like to use pens or crayons for this exercise because I find that certain worry clusters call for a particular color. For instance, once when doing this exercise for myself, I drew a big red circle that had the words “panic attack worries” in it. Red felt hot like an anxiety attack and all the words and themes that came with it. Trust your gut. Don’t worry about drawing or coloring or grouping perfectly.

What do you notice now that your worries are living together in some kind of diagram or drawing? Do they look like planets? Cells? A map? A blender? A landscape of some kind? See if you can make some meaning by looking at what you created.

Does anything feel like it holds less importance to you now that you’ve written about it and put it in a drawing?  Does anything in particular feel more intense, like it’s rising to the surface as “the important worry” right now? Notice without judgment. Just be with what you notice. When I did this once I burst out laughing. Respect whatever emotions emerge.

clarity

Part three of this exercise is to draw a big circle and above it write PRESENT MOMENT.

Inside this circle, write what is going right in the now. Start with the simple if you want, like you’re breathing and you have a roof over your head and expand from there. What is OK right now? If a worry creeps in, go back to your worry writing page and add it there. Keep this big circle as a sacred space for your “I am being with what is” thoughts and feelings. If it helps, you can call this your GRATITUDE CIRCLE and write things you are grateful for right now.

See what happens when you allow yourself full expression of your worries. Notice how expressing them through writing and drawing doesn’t inflate them, but actually contains them. How does your body feel now that you have a place not only for your worries, but also your words of okayness in the present moment?

with peace of mind and a soft heart,

SignatureFirstName

Posted in Anxiety/Panic, art, creativity, grief and loss, healing, inspiration, life events, life lessons, personal growth, photography, spirituality, wisdom, writing, Zen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Question #25

Question #25 of CoAnQuMo is one best answered by my cat, who will be filling in for me in this blog post.

Here’s the question: What language does Selkie speak and what does he think about birds?

20131124_153758

From Selkie:

I speak cat. I’ve always spoken cat. Cat is all I know, though I understand the following human phrases:

“shower time!”

“wanna treat?”

“mommy time?”

I also understand daddy’s kissy “chirp” noise to mean that I should come. And I am alarmed by the sound of garbage trucks in the alley and human farting noises. Mommy is LOUD! I don’t think it’s a message for me, though.

Speaking of chirping, you asked if I like birds. I love birds. I see them and want them. I can tell my mom doesn’t like this, but I can’t help it. I speak fast-cat when I see birds. I trill at them. They flit around and I watch them and I drool. A lot.

Thank you for asking your questions. I am done now.

20131124_153922There you have it, directly from the cat’s mouth!

with trills and purrs,

SignatureFirstName

Posted in Animals, inspiration, life events, life lessons, personal growth, photography, wisdom, writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Question #24

Question #24 for CoAnQuMo is a fascinating one, indeed!

Here it is:

What is your favorite word and why?

I think I’m going to have to modify the question to be, “what is ONE of your favorite words and why?” because I have so many beloved words on my list!

Today I am quite fond of the word endometrium. I was scanning my poetry manuscript today noticing my word choice and came upon my poem “Fire”:

FIRE

The day you were fired
because you were pregnant with me
I felt a tightening inside you,
so I clung to the back wall of your uterus —
the end of the cul-de-sac facing the road out to the cervix.
I scraped the endometrium, rolled a small ball
of the thick blood lining
and sent it down to you
as if to say
take this fire and fight them.

c. Courtney Putnam, 2003

I love the sound of the word, endometrium. This five-syllable word starts off soft with the “n,” “d,” and “m” sounds then then catches me with that strong “t.” The word has an atrium in it, like it is mimicking the shape of the uterus. It then ends with that soft “m,” a cradle, a womb, a soft space to lay your head.

If you aren’t familiar with the endometrium, here’s your little anatomy lesson:

The innermost layer of tissue in the uterus is the mucous membrane, or endometrium. It lines the uterine cavity as far as the isthmus of the uterus, where it becomes continuous with the lining of the cervical canal. The endometrium contains numerous uterine glands that open into the uterine cavity and are embedded in the cellular framework or stroma of the endometrium.

And look at how beautiful it is! “E” points to that hot pink area that is the endometrium.

endometrium[image credit: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/186990/endometrium]

In terms of its etymology, endometrium comes from the medical Latin, from endo- (within)+ Greek metra (uterus) related to meter (mother). 1882.

So there you have it, folks! You now know one of my favorite words!

Now I want to know what YOUR favorite words are? What words make you full of glee? What words do you enjoy speaking just because of the sound of them?

with an phosphorescent* endometrial glow,

SignatureFirstName

*another one of my favorite words!

Posted in body image, inspiration, personal growth, poetry, spirituality, wisdom, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Question #23

I notice that birds seem to be significant in your art and even your business name. Can you tell me the significance?

My particular interest in birds began when I formed a deep bond with a budgie named Zelda. I’ve kept my story about Zelda somewhat protected for years because it’s hard to describe my relationship with her in a way that does it justice. It’s hard to explain how knowing her enabled me to not only feel my strong maternal energy for the first time, but how our relationship led me to healing work. It’s hard to convey how a woman in her 20s was changed by her blue opaline parakeet.

In 1996 I adopted my brother Robb’s parakeet when Robb left to live in Japan.  Zelda went to college with me in Bellingham. She was my study partner and a great flyer. She used to land right on my head and then groom me. She couldn’t talk, but she made an uplifting double-chirp sound, and at times she mimicked sounds.

It wasn’t until years later, though, when our deep bond formed. In 2002, Zelda developed liver disease. She almost died a few times. I had to change her diet (parakeets are very stubborn and hate change), give her medicine, and convince her that all of these changes were because I loved her. Fortunately, she believed me and made miraculous changes in her habits, including her contact with me.

When we think of cuddling with a companion animal we don’t usually think of cuddling with a bird, but in Zelda’s last year with me, she did just that. She used to love to sleep tucked under my chin when I was lying on the couch or bed. What trust she had in me. She was such a small, fragile being, so dependent on my care and on my ability to be gentle, careful.

Court w_Zelda-1-bw-big

Zelda did change her diet — a bit. Strangely, she developed a fondness for corn and black beans. She loved to perch on a plate on the kitchen table to eat. I couldn’t get her to enjoy greens (what the vet truly wanted her to eat), but corn was her favorite.  I was in graduate school at this particular point in time and so I was at home a lot. I wrote poems and come lunchtime, we ate at the same table together. She understood the routine and ran back and forth across her perch when she knew it was our eating hour.

Court&Zelda

During her illness I took Zelda to see Reiki Master and Animal Communicator Polly Klein. I still have the cassette tape with our recorded session. I was astounded by how Zelda responded to Reiki. She came right up to Polly’s hands to soak in the energy (parakeets, if you don’t know, are often very scared of human hands). Polly suggested that I get trained in Reiki so I could give Zelda Reiki myself, which I did.

I truly believe that Zelda’s journey brought me to healing work, which I later honored by naming my business Rising Bird Healing Arts. I feel it every day: Zelda is one of my guides.

Court w_Zelda-kiss2

While there was some improvement in her health for that year, ultimately Zelda passed away in 2003. I held her in my hands and she died in my cupped cushion, skin to feather, breath to breath. And then breath gone.

I buried her with 50 tiny rose quartz stones in a container and planted a Japanese Maple in it, and I still have my “Zelda Tree” to this day.

IMG_20130829_173856

In my final poetry manuscript for graduate school I begin Section III with this excerpt from a Mark Doty poem:

Only animals
make me believe in God now

so little between spirit and skin,
any gesture so entirely themselves

And here is one of the poems I wrote about my Zelda years:

FRAGILE BODIES

They weigh her in a little paper bag
on a gram scale, feel her belly for fat,
check her heart rate, listen to her lungs,
then strap her into a terrycloth straight jacket
the size of a pot holder
and clip one of her curved claws
to the vein.  The blood drizzles out into two
tiny tubes for the sample, and the vet tech
dabs on styptic powder to stop the flow.
After the exam I take her to the infirmary,
a six by eight foot room lined with shelves.
The room smells like vitamins,
a musty mineral smell, and I place her
between another opaline blue parakeet
and a gray cockateil. A vermilion parrot wears
a paper cone around his neck and an iguana
is on kidney dialysis. My bird awaits
her second x-ray, and I must leave her there
as though I’m dropping her off at school
on the first day, dropping her into a room
full of new faces.  The infirmary is lit and warm,
and an awkward silence settles between the animals
as they rest in their separate fragile bodies—
strangers in the waiting room.

with sweet chirps and soft loving feathers,

SignatureFirstName

Posted in Animals, bodywork, grief and loss, healing, inspiration, life events, life lessons, personal growth, photography, poetry, Reiki, spirituality, wisdom, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Question #22

CoAnQuMo continues with the 22nd question!

What is the most effective essential oil?

Great question! It’s one I can’t really answer as is, for each essential oil has its own raison d’être and healing qualities. So I’ll break it down a bit (and note that this is a very simplistic list as most essential oils have many different purposes).

colored bottles

For enhanced relaxation:
lavender
ylang ylang
chamomile
rose
neroli
vetiver
melissa
marjoram

For mood boosting:
orange
tangerine
lemon
lime
basil
bergamot
pine
peppermint
clary sage

For enhanced clarity and mental acuity:
basil
rosemary
peppermint
cypress
lemon
eucalyptus

For reduction in headaches:
peppermint
anise
lavender
rosemary
marjoram
roman chamomile

For an immune boost:
tea tree
eucalyptus
lavender
palmarosa
rosemary
bay
geranium
pine

For tummy troubles (nausea, IBS, indigestion):
peppermint
ginger
cardamom
patchouli
anise

As you can see, there are many uses for essential oils and some oils (like lavender) have many healing uses. If you aren’t familiar with using essential oils, it’s essential (pun intended) to know that you must always dilute the oils in a carrier (like oil or water) and not to place them directly on the skin. Essential oils are concentrated and can harm the skin if applied directly. Also, don’t ingest the oils, avoid if pregnant (or work with a knowledgeable essential oil practitioner), and avoid the sun when the oils are on your skin. For more guidelines and precaution information, click here.

Here are a few ways I use essential oils:

Diffuser: I place 3-4 drops of essential oils in a diffuser with water. The candle heats the water-essential oil mixture and spreads the lovely smell around the room.

Bath: 5-10 drops of essential oils can be added to your bath water

Spray mist: In a 4 oz mist bottle, I place approx. 20-30 drops of essential oils

Body lotion/oil: In a 4 oz. bottle, I place about 10-20 drops of essential oils

Sniff-and-Go: I keep a few essential oil bottles in my purse and take a sniff whenever I need a pick-me-up or a stress-reducer.

Mix and match!
Essential oils are marvelously healing, especially in combination. For example one of my favorite stress reducer mists includes lavender, marjoram, and orange. Heavenly.

Buy Essential Oil Blends

If you don’t want to blend your own essential oils, you can buy them pre-blended. I particularly like these the blends from these companies.

IMG_20121009_105619

O’Malley and Potter “Feel Good Products”: my favorite blend is NEW BALANCE

Snow Lotus: my favorite blend is HARMONY

Aura Cacia: I am quite fond of CHILL PILL

Kate’s Magik Anointing Oils: I can’t get enough of MOON GODDESS

You can purchase essential oils online, but you can also find them at your local health food stores, like Whole Foods or PCC. In my neighborhood both Zenith Supplies and EastWest Booskshop also carry them. As often as possible, I’d recommend getting organic essential oils. After all, these are concentrated oils form plants, so they’re potent. I want them to be as clean and pesticide-free as possible!

What are YOUR favorite essential oils and how do YOU use them in your life to enhance your body, mind, and heart?

with peppermint wishes and lavender dreams,

SignatureFirstName

Posted in bodywork, personal growth, wisdom, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Question #21

Question #21: Which element do you most resonate with and why?

My gut response is WATER. I love the flow of water. I love how water can be both peaceful and powerful. I love lakes, rivers, and especially oceans. I am fascinated by tides. I grew up playing in the Hawaiian waters of the Pacific and learned at a very young age how to manage the strong pull of the ocean, the undertows, the different personalities of waves. I learned how to enter and exit the ocean without getting pounded by a wave.

I am intimately familiar with tears. With the flow of emotion easily tapped. I know of loss and the healing power of tears.  I know the kind of tears that flow with passion and empathy. I know the tears of anger. I know the tears of connection.

I love flowing water. I have two fountains outside my home to bless each entrance. If I could afford it, I’d have fountains all over my house, inside and out. The sound of moving water reminds me that I am not stagnant. Water reminds me that change is okay. I will survive it. I may even blossom because of it.

Whenever I take online “What Element Are You?” quizes, I get results like this one from Beliefnet:

Screen shot 2013-11-21 at 5.42.15 PMNot surprisingly, my result is water. But check out how close EARTH is to my score. Yes, I feel earth energy in me, too — grounded, earth mother energy, of comfort to others.

Strangely, astrologically I am a FIRE sign, a Sagittarius. My Ayurverdia dosha is mostly Pitta, fiery, too.  I think my creative impulses come from my fire side. Perhaps some of my passionate convictions, too.

It’s interesting though, how on the elemental wheel, fire and water do not coexist so well. It makes me wonder how often my water extinguishes my fire, when perhaps I need to let my fire blaze on.

Aescan_Element_Wheel_by_mr_authorWhat element do YOU resonate with the most and how does that element relate (or not) to your astrological sign, your dosha, or any element quiz you might take? How does your most resonant element show up in your own life?

with fire-water blessings,

SignatureFirstName

Posted in grief and loss, healing, inspiration, life events, life lessons, personal growth, spirituality, wisdom, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment