Taking an interactive art booth into the vending marketplace at an herbalism conference might seem a bit odd. Especially when the intention is not to monetize art products as much as it is to engage with women about the power of a creative practice. There's quite a bit of work that goes into vending booths after all.
This is what I did last weekend, though. Even though the fair and festival gamut is not my thing per se. I've attended the Southeast Women's Herbalism Conference for 5 years now. When they changed the name earlier this year to reflect a more holistic intention - to Southeast Wise Women's Herbalism Conference - it occurred to me that it might be the perfect year to get my feet wet with networking and shining light on how creative expression is necessary for a holistic lifestyle, and can be absolutely pivotal on a healing path. The Wise Woman tradition is one that acknowledges ALL facets of a woman's intuition and innate knowing when it comes to her own soul/body/mind/spirit journey and how she relates to the natural world. I felt blessed that they accepted my proposal for a booth.
For me, there is no separation of our creative self from how we relate to our bodies, our world, and our healing truth. That connection is seamless and inherent and aching to be more mindfully integrated into how we engage with ourselves, in our world and relationships. There is so much peace, beauty and wisdom to be found by moving through our lives with this awareness. Relief and clarity - even when there are no certain answers in the clarity we experience.
What struck me deeply this weekend, though, was two things. Two things that brought me smack-dab into the center of my vision and mission with renewed charge. The first was the live Prayer Painting I began on site there. I will share the process and a bit more about that just as soon as it's complete. But it was beautiful to witness women seeing how the process can look right before their eyes, and to add the heartfelt prayers they offered to the painting throughout the process.
The second thing that touched me deeply had to do with a display table I had out. I took with me several of my personal art journals and laid them on the table for anyone to look through. This felt a bit vulnerable, at first, for sure, but I knew that, more important than my sensation of being exposed, was that any of the 1000+ women attending could hold an art journal in their own hands - maybe for the first time.
My journals are a combination - of painting, sketching, quotes and notes and fodder, lists and photos, ideas, journal entries and calendars. They are evidence of my life - inner and outer - in visual fashion. I did feel shy about this sharing, but it also felt very important, so I kept my attention on the intention and answering any questions at all.
And there were women whose eyes widened as they flipped through my pages, and even one whose eyes welled up. They would inquire, What IS this, this way that you are doing this? A couple said, This is exactly the method I've been looking for.
One young woman shakily declared, I AM an artist. I can see that now. *yes*
I talked with MANY about fear of the blank page, and because my journals were right there, with unfinished messy pages at the end, they got to see how simple the process is if we just begin. With others we talked about shaking up things to move out of a stuck-ness or blockage and into a fresh rhythm with creating and being present to the muse.
I had conversations with women who want to bring a practice to their communities, and felt filled up with ideas by talking with me about the process. There were ears just fascinated to hear about how an intuitive creative practice can teach us about our own patterns and rhythms, give insight into our life, and move us right into parasympathetic response (less stress!), and thus optimally effect every system in our whole body to be able to do its job best and thrive (and heal!).
By far, it was these dialogues that filled me up most - these shared moments of inspiring a creative journaling practice in others, or listening to their experiences and struggles with their own practices, and shining light on how it connects to our whole life experience and perspective.
People ache for ways to express themselves, understand themselves - to be seen (even if just by their own eyes, more fully). It seems to me so many women are actively open to gearing themselves with the tools and practices to grow, expand, contribute, cooperate and LOVE to their greatest capacity.
I found myself saying again and again - Don't just take my word for it, though - to fully understand, you have to experience it again and again. It's a relationship - one of the greatest you can develop.
I came home with a more complete understanding of the importance of the work I've been called to do in the world. The women I talked with reminded me of this, taught me this again. It's the kind of understanding you can only fully experience in the wise presence and connection that happens in sharing your truth with others.
In November, I will be celebrating Arts & Healing month every beautiful day over here - with inspiration and information about art and healing specifically, a revival of the Monthly Prayer Art Invitations, some special guests, special offers, a few giveaways - and one really BIG announcement for 2014 that I just can hardly wait to make!!!!! So keep an eye out and stop back by - and heck, if you have something you would just love to see highlighted or some art you'd love to share as part of the celebration, send me your thoughts to hali(at)halikarla(dot)com or contact me right HERE.