10 Minute Intentional Creativity Process

Dear Ones,

I send you greetings and invite you into presence and community.

There is a lot going on the world right now. Whether you are a sensitive or not – you can feel some part of it and it could be causing fear, concern, restlessness, betrayal, anger and the list goes on.

Let’s create resilience through creativity – which is what called us into this circle in the first place. Creativity.

As you know, it is important to let ourselves feel what we feel, see what we see and know what we know – YET – it is also important to move it ‘out’ of our physical body so it doesn’t get trapped and create the resulting other experiences which could range from anxiety to irritation to depression. You can move it out or dissolve it by choice. If it can move, it will.

As this world unfolds, each of us has our part, our piece of the red thread, and so we want to be ‘fit’ enough to manage that. Self care for the mind and heart involves some language usage because we are currently experiencing what we are experiencing in the realm of story. So story can help us move it.

I wanted to just create an opening here – since we do consider ourselves a global circle woven with red threads, to acknowledge the happening that is happening. (This is not intended as therapy.) Here is a simple Intentional Creativity Process you can do to move some energy and become conscious about your co-creative capacity.

Clearing Stuck Feelings

Materials: 3 Pieces of Paper and Pens 

1. Intention (to move energy, get clear, tend the self, etc.)
Write your intention. Doodle a bit to get the energy flowing.

2. Discover what is causing the most angst or discomfort through journaling with big looping words. Might need more pages! ‘Draw’ the feeling inside you. What is the shape of that feeling. By drawing it, intend to MOVE it or free it.

3. Clear: Request out loud, of yourself, to create a clearing in your consciousness, to be an open space you personally are in charge of tending. Write a letter ‘from’ that clarity to yourself. Draw an open shape representing this feeling and image. This open shape will a reference poin you can return to in your mind.

Moving story is more potent when image is used, as well as process. Let’s be at cause for creating our own internal spaces and tending them.

The images above is not my image, but this is a good one that can be used if you want to take it further. If you want to comment on some or any of this process please do so here.

Big love, and lots of pens and paper from the Red Thread Cafe,

For more Resiliency Resources go HERE.

Shares from Graduates = Hot off the Press!

HOT off the press!!
Color of Woman Graduate and Teacher, Amber Bonnici, did a Facebook live in the Red Thread Cafe Classroom this week. Here are some AMAZING shares from past Graduates in response to the FB live video about what called them to the Training, how it has impacted their lives and how they are USING IC to serve and receive abundance for their sacred work. 

Applications due Monday 11/20 for those called to join our 2018 Teacher Training

*****

I graduated from the Color of Woman training in 2013 and once I found it I felt like I had found my home – my tribe! That I had never found before, and maybe even didn’t realize I needed to find. 

This training has been life changing for me in so many ways…. Just months after graduating I won a “President’s Trip” from my corporate job to New Zealand and ended up teaching two sold out classes in Christchurch, New Zealand with another Intentional Creativity teacher who lives in Australia. 

From there it’s been a beautiful journey, I left my corporate job that didn’t fit and was making me ill (well before retirement time, not necessarily recommended but I knew I could make this my full time path) and became a full time teacher in Jan. 2015, less than two years later. Since then I do what I love to make my way in this world and round out my offerings with Intentional Creativity Workshops, Painting Parties with a Purpose, Essential Oil Classes, Wedding & Life Celebration Officiating and recently Color Analysis based on hue, value and chroma of my client’s eye, skin and hair color – a mix of art and science. Kerry Lee is a transformational catalyst in community.

~ Kerry Lee, kerryleeart.com

 

The Color of Woman Training changed the direction of my life. I graduated in 2013 & have since taught up to 100 workshops for young girls & women in my local community, nationally & internationally with ongoing retreats in Greece & Bali. I have also plunged into my ultimate dream of pursuing a career as a professional contemporary Australian artist. COW taught me to take what lives in inside, outside. Forever grateful. Say YES! 

~ Jassy Watson, earthcirclestudios.com (Jassy will be leading a Color of Woman training this year in Australia).

 

Color of Woman is so powerful and stretches you! I am a graduate of the class of 2015, and it was an incredible experience. Our IC community is amazing, and wonderfully supportive. I’m an “only child,” and have sought SiStars of choice all my adult life; I’ve found so many, connected by the Red Thread!

Are you “Shakin’ in your Boots??” Maybe it’s time to apply!! 
I’m also happy to chat with anyone considering applying for 2018! I’ve served as support for both 2016 & 2017 classes, and am so impressed with the SiStarhood. I live, offer coaching, teach IC and hold monthly Red Thread Circles in Oregon’s Willamette valley.

~ Nadya King, http://ladyharper.com/

 

I graduated from Color of Woman in 2015 and I started teaching the month the training started. I was able to pay for the training with the classes I taught during that year. It all started when I painted my Legend. Her main message while I was painting was “keep showing up, keep showing up, I will show you how, just show up in front of me”. I listened and I keep listening. COW is deeply transformational. It woke me up to the courage to step out and share my gifts of comfort, peace, compassion, empowerment, and inspiration. It strengthened me to do things I wasn’t comfortable with. Now, I have my private practice in Traverse City, MI. I never thought I’d teach in English being french Canadian… I thought I wasn’t good enough in English to teach. COW made me open enough to listen what other people would tell me… that my accent was charming. So I decided to embrace my charm ;)and teach anyways. I found out that, when I show up no matter what, it inspires women to step out of their comfort zone and show up also. In March of this year I moved to my own studio where I teach classes and privately coach my beloveds. One of them even did the Color of Woman training and graduated this year. She had many breakthroughs during our time together that led her to that decision. She totally stepped out of her comfort zone and showed up. I don’t know how many times women had breakthroughs during a workshop that kept rippling for many weeks and months after. Just last week, another client called me to celebrate two experiences she had where she was able to show up as her authentic self because of our work together. Witnessing women breathe again, remember who they are and step into their power is extremely rewarding and I thank Shiloh Sophia for having showed up to share this powerful work! 
 
~ Evelyne Verret, http://www.coachevelyne.com/

 

Color of Woman positively changed my life. I graduated in 2014 and totally reinvigorated my self-expression and creativity, released deep grief, made very special connections and lifelong friendships, learned to live a bigger creative and intentional life, discovered my voice and a method to bundle with other healing arts modalities for teaching and supporting the betterment of humankind (yes, it’s that powerful)! Thank you Shiloh, I’m happy to share more, please feel free to connect with me. 

~ Jennifer Bowers, https://jenniferbowers.com/

 

I’m a 2016 graduate of Color of Woman and it has been absolutely life changing!!! I know that sounds dramatic but it’s true. The creative processes that are taught within the program now inform each and every aspect of my life and I’m not sure how I managed pre-Color of Woman. 

I remember initially being concerned about the cost and then once I was in the program and realized how full it was and that it was worth every single penny! I loved the Color of Woman training and the beautiful community and support which has developed from it. If you’re considering it just go for it…take the leap and know that it will change your life too.

~ Jackie Deblasio, http://jackiedeblasio.com/

 

I am a COW 2014 graduate and it totally changed my life! I met amazing women…and new best friends. I absolutely loved Shiloh’s brilliant teachings and Mary McDonald’s (StellaMac’s) biz wisdom! I now use Intentional Creativity to teach Healing the Healer workshops to social workers to support them to heal secondary traumatic stress and rejuvenate. (And to explore play with creative expression!). 

I’ve taught 100s of social workers and youth in the foster system. I work with three Regional Academies in California and UCDavis, teaching groups from 10 to 100+ people! I just brought IC to Soul Camp as well. COW is a powerful, transformative course and method. I highly recommend it!!!!! If you are curious and want to see how I’ve used the method in work and life you can check out my website. Sending you oodles of love!!!!

~ Rachel Bavis, www.rachelbavis.com.

 

Hey there everyone! I’m a 2016 graduate and it’s been an amazing transformative process for me as I continue on my entrepreneurial path after escaping the corporate world in 2013. I’m incorporating the intentional creativity approach into my experiential learning with horses workshops in France and it’s a beautiful and powerful addition that participants love to discover. I’m more alive and connected than I’ve been since my childhood. 

~ Lorraine Tilbury, https://premium.lorrainetilbury.com/

 

I’ve often likened Color of Woman to a college for women. The Intentional Creativity certification one can gain from going through the program is as rigorous and thoughtful as any other advanced degree. I feel qualified to make this comparison, as I was a doctoral candidate in a PhD program for Cognitive Psychology. 

The Color of Woman course work is so thoughtfully and lovingly organized so as to lead you on a journey into understanding your soul work. I believe this to be a life long missive, but Color of Woman can serve as your launching pad, and also help you work through or out of patterns that are not serving you or your loved ones. 

I strongly believe in the work that is done here, and have witnessed first hand other’s transformations as a reader for women who participated in the current class. If anyone has additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me or the Color of Woman graduate you feel you resonate with most. I think I can state unanimously that we all feel called to serve, maybe in different ways, but helping you on your path to being you as you can be. 

~ JP Kim, https://www.theworldofjpkim.com/

 

My first encounter with Shiloh Sophia was through her paintings online about 10 years ago. I was drawn to the feminine power and emotion they reveal, and followed her work, eventually participating in an online class with her on Mary Magdalene. it was a method of painting I had never experienced, both intuitive and expressive, more about the process than the finished piece. In 2015, I applied to Color of Woman and was accepted into this training, which has become both a pivotal movement in my iife as well as one of the most important developments in my education and career. I found a community of women dedicated to healing, learning, teaching, coaching, and witnessing the message of Intentional Creativity in the world, an international group of intelligent, creative, educated and devoted facilitators with a mission to change the way things work in the world. Through workshops, classes, circles, and activism, I believe we are making a difference in healing old stories, revealing deep truths, and transforming lives into passion and purpose. I use these methods of journaling and painting to move through my own fears, emotions, and struggles as well as teaching others how to dive deeply into their own dark and tangled places. The red thread connections I make weave a rich and wonderful tapestry that is the wonder of the life I have travelled since that auspicious discovery a decade ago. I highly encourage anyone who wants to delve into a colorful quest into the cosmic stardust to consider this training as a portal of transformation.

~ Hobby Parent, www.hobbyparent.com

 

I met Shiloh in Dec. 2013 and my life has never been the same. I joined the Red Madonna year long circle in 2014 and was accepted into the 2015 COW class, which I completed as a Intentional Creativity coach and Color of Woman Teacher. The experience has been life changing to say the least. I have transformed many “old stories” into the authentic Truth and can now say I am an artist, teacher, mentor, sister and someone who is learning what I am here to cause and create in the world. I now have my own art paintings up in a business called Sacred Money Studio and Prosperity Pie shop (since April 2106), where I also sell prints and cards as well as my original paintings. This has brought me into contact with many people I would not have otherwise met and who tell me how the images speak to their hearts and souls. This body of work that Shiloh offers us, does just that…connects us to something deeper within ourselves and gives us a vehicle to do transformative healing and empowerment. I have co-lead workshops with other COW teachers and assisted at their workshops as well…and continue to offer classes and one on one mentoring…I love witnessing my Beloveds discover a deeper truth and a reconnection to heir own creative soul. I am continuing to work on own my webpage (gypsyheartstudio.com) and grow my business skills, as well as spend time in my studio being with my Muse… I am so so grateful to Shiloh, Mary McDonald, Jonathan, Sarah, Jennifer, Carman, Amber and all the teachers and friends and sisterhood that I am now connected to. This work is so profound, transforming and so needed in the world right now……I know my soul assignment is serving the Divine and showing up to share my hope and Light in the world for others…… I know today that I am “good enough” and the world needs what we have to offer…..thank you, thank you.

~ Olivia Oso

 

I am a COW 2012 Graduate. This program is life changing, the expanded experience of self discovery and ongoing community is one that is ever deepening. Thru the years after the coursework, I continue to engage with our Circle as well as developing my steady painting practice, selling my art and engaging in one on one mentoring. Intentional Creativity empowers the evolution of my work and original voice in the world.

 ~ Kendall Sarah Scott​, https://visionarywomanstudioarts.com/
red_thread_single

Shares from Color of Woman 2017 Graduates

 

Sophie & Oprah

As The Color of Woman training ends, a way that I thought I may let myself be in 20 years is emerging now. If you know there are parts of you that want to come out and you are scared of what might happen, do the Color of Woman training, the container will midwife you and your deepest desires. 

~ Sofie Pirkle, www.badassbodywork.com

 

 

 

 

Before Color of Woman I was lost—I felt like a soldier without a mission, with seemingly no purpose. No, I had Purpose, but I didn’t know what to do next to move it forward. Two years of waiting and I still hadn’t found clarity on my Next Move. I finally just ASKED what I was to do and got the Answer, “Sign up for Color of Woman!” Cardinal feathers floated down out of the sky at that moment! I was lost, but now I’m found. Amazing Grace.

~ Kathy Smith, www.goddesseyesstudio.com

 

What an incredible experience, one filled with such richness on so many levels. By far the best thing I have ever invested in, in my life. You are one incredible teacher and I am deeply grateful for your courage and bravery to create this life changing quest for women worldwide. I am so deeply honoured to be standing here in this circle of amazing women who dared to travel this journey alongside me this past year. Congratulations to each and every one of them. 

~ Diane Merpaw, www.dianemerpaw.com

Diane Merpaw Painting

Taliswoman, Anna, The Weaver of Feminine Arts by Diane Merpaw

 

terre-busseI just finished a 9 month dive into myself – a Vision Quest really – using color, story and dance (and lots of tears, self doubt and all out tantrums). I am proud to announce that I am now a Certified Intentional Creativity Teacher.  I joyously join a long lineage of amazing women who teach and heal using creativity as our chosen method to heal the self, community, and the world.  I know there are many ways to do this good healing work, but to do it with paint and creativity is pretty mind blowing!

Intentional Creativity is a way to heal and transform ourselves and old stories using creativity.  We intentionally go within and mine for gold and release that which no longer serves us. I personally have let go of some long held beliefs and stories that have held me back for years.

I believed I was broken inside, because of abuse that happened when I was a child. I have carried that with me all my life.  I called it that “yucky” feeling that was always with me.  The one that would awaken me in the middle of the night and fill me with shame and fear. The one that held me back from flying like I knew I could fly.

Using Intentional Creativity, I intentionally went inside, looked at the old fear and painted it onto the canvas in front of me.  I pulled that old story and belief from my cells, my bones.  I painted it onto the canvas.  I literally painted that crap out of my body! I transformed it on the canvas! I made space in my body for a new story to emerge! I changed my story!

In gratitude to a beautiful lineage of teachers.

Shiloh Sophia –  Color of Woman Intentional Creativity Teacher Training

~ Terre Busse, http://www.cerridwynstudio.com/

Terre Busse Muse Painting

Muse by Terre Busse

 

“My creativity on all levels is heightened. My sense of spirituality is easily accessed and expressed where it wasn’t before. Confidence in my abilities has grown, no fear to try or speak out to change an injustice.”

~ Michaelanne Gephardt

Legend, Nali, Guardian of Nature’s Heart by Michaelanne Gephardt

 

“Be courageous and do it! This was one of the most interesting internal journeys I ever did. I learned a lot about and made friends with myself. I am more confident in my painting. I use intentional creativity to problem solve and to ask questions. I became more connected to myself and my life and more interested in both. And I now have contact with my internal guidance system which might easily be the most important outcome of the program.”

~ Corrina Jaeger

Corrina JaegerCorrina Painting
Legend by Corrina Jaeger


Learn more About Color of Woman training HERE

 

Intentional Creativity 7 Step Process for use during natural disaster recovery

Let’s stay connected to what matters the most.

 

This process is here to use and adapt for those recovery or crisis from natural disasters. It can be done personally, yet is written from the perspective of someone guiding the experience.


SCROLL DOWN TO RE
AD PROCESS

If desired you can print out a PDF HERE and share as many as you would like.

If you are part of the Northern California Fires and seek support from women – join us here

We invite you to share the process with others using this link: Share The Elements HERE.


THE ELEMENTS

An Intentional Creativity 7 Step Process for those impacted by natural disasters related to Fire, Water, Earth, Air

This Intentional Creativity® process is designed to support individuals in coping with losses from natural disasters, such as wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods. Our hope is that this tool will help those impacted by such events enter into recovery, integrate the trauma and transform their experience and also provide a tool of service for those who desire to support. This process can also be modified for personal use.

We are focusing on the power of imagination to help change energy and move out of survival and into an experience of their participation and co-creative capacity to know how they feel and to do something about it.

We wanted to offer a process that was simple and effective that used a small quantity of materials. In our community of Intentional Creativity we use red thread, but you can use ribbon, string or fabric of any color.  If you can afford to, provide a journal and pens that you can leave with them at the end. If you have a table, great, if not, make sure you have a hard surface for them to work on like a clip board or journal. You will go through the process with them, working at the same time. You can also do it one-on-one or in a group. Some parts of it could be over a phone or video stream.

Remember that everyone processes trauma in their own way, in their own time. When doing any healing processes, meet the individuals where they are. They may not yet be able to write about their feelings or experiences, there may be some things that feel overwhelming. Be present with them, holding space and witnessing but not probing. Be gentle with eye contact. Let them participate according to what feels safe to them and adjust as needed. You can do this at a shelter, café, home, office, street side, park and some parts of it can be done over a phone or online streaming like zoom/skype.

Please note that creativity, because it is often uncomfortable, can cause more discomfort at first, but stay with it, and this anxiety is like a crucible that can transform into calm. We send you all blessings for the journey ahead and for those you choose to gather.

Shiloh Sophia
Co-Founder of Intentional Creativity

 



Introduction to the Elements

7 Step Intentional Creativity Process

 

Provide an overview of the process and agree with your guest/s how long this process is going to take. A half hour to several hours depending on what space you have. You can also just do one part of the process.

Introduce the overall idea as if it is a prayer or blessing on the energy you are carrying. Something like: “This is an invitation to become present and embodied during difficult times, and to integrate what has happened.” Based on what you are dealing with, this invitation can change to what feels appropriate. After each process, invite them to share if they want to, or not. *You demonstrate sharing and vulnerability, but with strength. You are the place of compassion.

Materials:  red thread, 4 pieces of paper, pens (not sharpies), scissors

Set the materials out in a sacred manner. As if it is a small simple altar. For each exercise, use both sides of the paper. For the free-write side, consider drawing a simple border of containment: one line going all the way around, choose a different style of border for each page.

1. INTENTION: Have everyone state their intention for the experience as they receive the Red Thread. The intention for you as the leader can be something like: To hold space and witness for [the element you are working with]. Your guest may be uncomfortable with sharing in the beginning, so you can just ask them to share what they are noticing or present to. Each person shares their intention and receives a part of the thread to keep with them or put on their wrist. Tie it on for them with tenderness.

2. ACKNOWLEDGE: Invite your guest to free write on the first piece of paper about the part of the experience that feels most impacting for them right now. Loss, fear, anxiety, stress, unknown, anger, isolation, panic, etc. You can provide a few choices if they seem to be drawing a blank.

3. ACTIVATE: Invite in the element connected with the situation. Free doodle drawing that includes elemental event (ie. fire, flood, earthquake, etc.) on the other side of the paper. Give a demo so they can see what that element looks like.

Share about the element in such a way to diffuse the fear around it, so that we come to a space where fire is not evil, the earth is not punishing us, the water is not raging against us. Be mindful of your thoughts on how you contextualize this idea. You don’t want to negate their experience but guide them into their own empowered ideas about it.

If appropriate, this can be a good time to share about the healing aspects of the element being worked with – and/or to bring in any/all of the other elements. OR you can ask them what each element represents for them inviting a positive representation. As the leader, you are making an effort to help neutralize the element and activate the positive energy of it.

Possible interpretation: Fire: Transformation, Will and Change ~ Earth: Home and Grounding ~ Water: Renewal and Cleansing ~ Air: Breathe and Communication.

4. SAFETY: Acknowledge current situation on the second piece of paper, this is done with some gravity from you and perhaps a contextualization of the current environment.

Ask a few questions about where they are experiencing now: Are you safe? Are you with loved ones? Do you have what you need for the next day? Focus on right now and put these inquiries into context with where you are during the process. Of course, if they are at a shelter be sensitive to that, distinct from if they are in an office, or a home.  Free write on this topic and acknowledge what feels true. Grief and gratitude do dance together and work better in tandem when acknowledged.  i.e. glad to be alive, yet filled with fear. Acknowledge that the paradox is normal. People often have a hard time reconciling the two things, but they can exist side by side and can be healing.

Turn the paper over and draw a feeling of safety, even if that safety is temporary (give demo if guiding), perhaps with circles or tracing their hands or a symbol of their choosing. Circles that intersect are good here. The act of asking them to draw a feeling stretches the imagination to a new place, and while uncomfortable, is often calming.

If you are called, use body movement to integrate drawing/painting and accompanying feeling of safety into physical body – ie sweeping motions, swinging arms, big wide movements, embody the elements.

5. CONNECTIONS: Create blessings and prayers for the community on the third piece of paper. Rip or cut the paper into smaller pieces, and write prayers or blessings or wishes for others. This step acknowledges that others are having the same experience and is a move towards broader consciousness and compassion. Getting out of our own story and moving our gaze towards others is necessary for healing. Service can be one of the most transformational aspects of working within a tragedy.

One idea is to tie them together on red thread like a prayer rope or string. If in community, this can be a group process OR have them wrap red threads around the messages and hand them to others. Depending on the location you are in, the messages can be hung up/showcased in the space and more messages can be added. That way the person you are guiding has a job to invite others. These prayers, blessings, messages can also be gathered in a bowl with strips of paper instead of tied.

 6. AFFIRMATION: On the fourth piece of paper, invite them to write an affirmation of how they will choose to show up and stay centered during this time.  Although it may be too soon on their path for a true claiming – practicing this gives a sense of power. Invite them to keep this piece in their pocket, in their bra, in your purse, and remember it when they get scared – to read it.  On the other sides they could create a connection from their past to their future – with them being in the present moment – like a bridge, or a journey.

7. SHARING: Consider inviting them to share a variation of this project with another person in need. You can guide it, change it and use it to work with others who are experiencing trauma. You can even give them a handout with this process and empower them to move into being the guide.

With the paper they have, they can tie it into a scroll with thread, and or fold it up and keep or, or let it go.

Blessings for the journey ahead. Thank you for being willing to hold space for those in need.

NOTE: Working with trauma can be very sensitive and complex. If you don’t feel experienced or comfortable, keep the process more general and just enough for them to receive some comfort and empowerment. A little love through Intentional Creativity goes a long way.  People can and will be triggered but we cannot let that keep us from sharing.


Basic process created by Shiloh Sophia, with input and ideas and editing from members of the Intentional Creativity Guild.

Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

Announcement: Intentional Creativity Foundation, a Charitable Non-Profit Organization

Intentional creativity is ancient and belongs to all beings.

Creating with intentional symbolism to communicate and tell story has happened all over the world by all peoples in every medium. From the Red Hand Cave paintings of Aboriginal peoples of Australia, to the Japanese Tea Ceremony, Egyptian glyph and myths, Russian icons coded with teachings, Shaman’s drums painted with personal medicine in Asia and Scandinavia, skin story tattoos of the Hawaiian Islands, Native American beadwork, baskets and garments, Hebrew temples and altars, marks on Mexican pottery, African symbols for death and rebirth in paintings. The references are truly everywhere, in both spiritual ritual contexts, as well as in food recipes, the design of gardens, books of poetry, and sacred architecture. All people make forms with specific intent. We get to be a part of the great unfolding of the story of earth through imagery and language with mindfulness.

Today, the legacy of art making with mindful intention, continues in conscious communities, including the Intentional Creativity movement, where tens of thousands of women creating alchemical images of the feminine and bringing their stories to the canvas for healing, transformation and liberation. This is a story worth telling, a legend to be a part of, and the weave of the future we together are creating. Women empowered to serve themselves, their families and communities.

What will future people say about who we are, when they see our creations in 1,000 years? What will they say we focused on, loved and cared for? What will they say we stood for or against? Who will our art show us to be, as a people? Artists have always told the story of humanity in matter based creations – what part of the story are you choosing to tell?

At the Intentional Creativity Foundation, our focus group has been working on the development, philosophy and access to the emergent discipline of creativity for the past twenty-five years. Yet our specific lineage of study goes back to the 1930ies during the Roosevelt administration’s call to artists during the New Deal. This work has been passed from hand to hand for over 80 years as each of us learns the power of putting intention to use, while being conscious of what we are creating, how it feels, and what we discover during and after the process.

By 2018 there will be close to 200 Intentional Creativity Guild Members who are graduates of our Intentional Creativity Training, around the world bringing this technology to the people they serve. We know that all beings are creative, and that the kind of creativity we are offering isn’t based in talent, but a desire to be awake to one’s self and one’s own path. From there, we can answer the call.

May we be of service to awakening consciousness through intentional creativity.

~ Shiloh Sophia
Co-Founder, Intentional Creativity Foundation

It is with a grateful heart that I officially announce that the Intentional Creativity Foundation, our not-for-profit is active, approved, online and ready to rock. Thank you Jonathan Lewis for believing in the vision and making it happen and being the Co-Founder of the foundation. Thank you to all Color of Woman staff and graduates for 8 years of training. Thank you to Cosmic Cowgirls for being the community we first explored this in with depth in circles. Thank you to those who made it possible through their teachings, Sue Sellars, Lenore Thomas Straus, Caron McCloud. Thank you to all of you along Red Thread.

Image by Sue Hoya Sellars

Quote on painting says –
“We must move into the future, creating it as we go.
We have been placed on the edge of history too long now.
We have always been here.”

Serving Those Who Serve – United Nations

press_rel

CSW59: Recharging Our Work as Global Advocates


(UN Council of the Status of Women – 59th Session)

Addressing Secondary Traumatic Stress and Compassion Fatigue

Serving Those Who Serve

March 10, 6:15pm United Nations Church Center

The United Nations: Church Center for the United Nations – International Chapel 777 United Nations Plaza, New York New York

Host, moderator and sponsor Lys Anzia: Founder & Human Rights Journalist, 
 WNN – Women News Network

Many people who have worked in the field of international human rights and humanitarian efforts have witnessed first-hand, and second-hand, some of the most difficult global traumas experienced by women and children. Because of this advocates, journalists, NGO workers and activists can find themselves suffering from forms of Secondary Traumatic Stress and Fatigue (STS). Research shows STS burn-out can stop our ability to work. It can be transformed if the right steps are taken. This year at UNCSW59 in New York, 20 years following the ‘Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing 1995’, attendees from over 100 separate countries will reaffirm their commitment to equal rights & human dignity for all women and children who have suffered. As we reach beyond the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action it’s now time to “serve the server.” Join an international panel that will highlight how to reduce STS through interactive sharing, insight and resources.

PANELISTS

Svetlana Bachevanova: Documentary photojournalist dedicated to global social justice, Publisher of FotoEvidence

Jessica Buchleitner: WNN Human Rights Journalist & Global women’s advocate, Author of The 50 Women Book Anthology Series

Cecilia Lipp: Attorney & Executive Director of International Action Network for Gender Equity and Law, Former Program Manager for Survivors International UCSF Trauma Recovery Center

Shiloh Sophia McCloud: Founder of the Intentional Creativity Movement, Author, Global Educator focusing on art as a path of healing from trauma to transformation for women & girls through the Red Thread.

David Stuart: Former Executive Director of Disarmament Action Network, FotoEvidence Managing Editor

Elahe Amani: Peace Mediator/Activist with Mediators Beyond Borders (MBB) Special Speaker on Iranian women in prisons at UN Human Rights Council Geneva, WNN – Women News Network reporter on Iran, and Chair for Global Circles at WIN – Women’s Intercultural Network.

Follow Shiloh’s Journey to the United Nations and participate in Peace!

peace1

Trusting in the Mystery by Kate Langlois

 

Soulkind

Soulkind

 The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery. Anais Nin

My friend Havi spoke recently about ‘learning to trust in the mystery’.  This says a lot for me, because even though I do love a good mystery, when one shows up in our own life, we often start demanding answers.  We want control over the situation, to be the one taking the wheel and setting the course. Letting go of control can sound scary, yet it doesn’t mean letting go of self-effort or that chaos is going to take over if we relax a little bit. We’re just choosing to look at the mystery from a slightly different angle.

I may not trust Mystery, but I can learn to live with it

Trusting in the mystery means we might just have to sit back for a little while or even a long while and wait to see what’s going to show up. While we’re in this waiting cycle, we may just decide we don’t even need to trust it, so much as learn to live with it.

I often think that Mystery and wonder must walk hand in hand. It’s WONDER that allows me to peer inquisitively into the face of life’s mysteries. Wonder makes the waiting more of an adventure, more of a game. And if it’s a game, it better mean we’re having fun too!

Wonder diffuses fear

Recently I said yes to an invitation to teach at an alumni gathering with our Color of Women Teachers. I said yes before I even knew what I was going to teach.  Instant mystery right? AND I brought it upon myself too.

A couple of years ago I most certainly would have shrunk back into the shadows instead. Even if I had said yes, my perfectionist self would me laboring meticulously over every tiny step in preparation. I would rehearse what I would say. For much of my life I had the effects of ‘stage fright’ if I spoke in front of a group of people to give a speech or a talk about something. My throat would constrict and my voice would miter out meekly in shaky mouse-like squeeks and I’d be on the verge of tears, completely forgetting what I was talking about. Though it was seemingly beyond my control, I felt nothing short of pathetic and ridiculous for not being able to come across as a strong and confident speaker.

So how was it I could say yes to teaching to my peers no less? Because through the work of Intentional Creativity I’ve created a new pattern in my response to the situation. The wires have literally been restrung into new pathways in my being. These days more often than not, I can lean into the mystery instead of running from it. Events in our lives whether they be traumatic or blissful, leave a mark on us. Our whole body embodies these events, often showing up in after-affects we may not recognize at first. If we can discover these threads from our past, we can take hold of them in the present and reweave them into beautiful new dreams as we fly boldly ahead into our futures.

Message to Myself

Message to Myself

The work of a Visionary is to know the past, dream the future and take powerful action in the present. Shiloh Sophia McCloud

The’ taking action’ piece means making a mark on a paper or a canvas without waiting for the right moment to come or inspiration to strike. For example, for me that big old boulder in the road trying to block my way is sometimes appears as whole pile of boulders surrounding me from all sides and reaching far up into the sky. Sound familiar? Well the time is past when we shrug our shoulders giving in, giving up. There is a recipe for change, ingredients of Creativity are our magical tools for clearing the way. Yes it probably will be scary-anything that involves involve facing our self usually is. Isn’t it time you peeled back the layers the world has thrown over you, tried to protect you with? Who would you be if you finally rose up to the challenge of being who you really dreamed of being instead of who others expected you to be? It may seem like a solitary journey, but I can tell you it is not. It’s one of amazing connections, synchronicity and even joy. And maybe, just maybe it’s the only thing that’s going to finally save you.

Intentional Creativity

Intentional Creativity

How to dissolve fear? 

Ingredients

You showing up as your Creative Self~an intention~a dream~ ~paint~paintbrush~canvas~pen and paper

  Dare yourself to play with Intentional Creativity &  invite in more of what you want for your life.  Put less attention on what is not working. By engaging in Creative Play with INTENTION and ACTION we literally become the antidote for what ails us and even for each other.

Kate Langlois 2013

Kate Langlois is a Visionary Artist and Color or Woman Teacher creating paintings  using Intentional Creativity. Her the style of the Contemporary Symbolism Movement. Kate’s JOY is in painting with women and girls to spark their own unique creative paths. Kate’s images give voice to her own journey and to women throughout the world in the shadows, without pathways for such expressions. Her paintings are a celebration of all women, and connection to the mystery beyond the physical world we all play in.

All artwork © 2013 Kate Langlois

What is Intentional Creativity? A Red Thread Letter

Is there a love story or a war story happening in you?
The Red Thead Cafe Letters Headers
This is the un-plugged version and should not be viewed without a word of caution: Silliness and swearing may occur.

A Seaweed Love Story –
the jumbledeydup story and the future possibility story meet on the beach.




Is there a story that needs to be released or transformed with you?
There always is for me and the women I work with – so we play with story and how it lives in us all the time with painting using intentional creativity.

Recently, while at the beach I found myself playing with seaweed. Yep. My Muse picked up these two differently shaped pieces and they started to talk to each other. No it is not boredom – it is absolute muse-infused ridiculousness. So I pulled out my trusty Mac and hit record. I had been thinking about how to capture this concept about how story lives in us to share with my Color of Woman graduate teachers.

There is a longer more coherent version of the “Moving A Story Teaching” video below the – What is Intentional Creativity Teaching.
For close to twenty years I have worked in the arts in my own creative practice and in the lives of thousands of women who have a desire to heal themselves, and heal others, and, find sparkle and play in the healing journey.
Most healing starts with a story.
The story of what happened and what we made it mean.

Sharing this with you is a part of my story and how this movement got moving. This is my ministry – to share intentional creating with those who have a desire to heal, and transform their stories into legends.
What is The Intentional Creativity Movement?
by Shiloh Sophia
There is a movement moving through our world right now with a vision of healing. A movement where the individual and their story can be transformed from the inside out – not from an outside source or external medicine/healer. This transformation happens by the choice of the one telling the story in the first place. The one who is at cause for changing it in a way that works for the creation of their lives. Through choosing to create with intention, we become empowerd to be the author of our future.
We are a tribe of creative beings causing our own movement in art and image that is created with intention. I have worked in this creative technology for close to twenty years and thousands of women have participated in this work through making their own images and stories. A gathering is happening… the image of the feminine is changing in our own hands. A movement can happen when a quantum mass of people begin to gather and create around a specific theme or vision. Here is a little offering about the story of Intentional Creativity as taught in the Color of Woman and in the revolutionary educational work of Cosmic Cowgirls University.

It all begins with a story, just like everything does.

I believe that story lives in image inside of our memory banks. So when we experience trauma or beauty, that story ‘lives’ there and can be replayed by us – by choice, and also not by choice. The ways in which memories rise for us are often out of control and we form negative thought patterns around these loops which, over time, get even more ingrained in us. Like a groove that we keep falling into even though, at some subconscious level, we know the groove is there. Knowing it is there doesn’t do much to change how it operates in us – though, yes, getting it conscious helps, but there is more to be done if we are to transform how our stories live in us. Trauma can get stored not only in the spirit memory, but also in the body memory and it becomes patterned into us in ways that we have very little control over. There are ways to gain some control, as well as some participation in our stories and that is what intentional creativity is about.

For the stories to change we have to change how they live inside of us, how they are stored and how we relate to them. Working with our wounds through therapeutic tools is powerful and healing and has given a voice to the unspeakable stories. However, many of the stories – which are related to differently than before simply by witnessing and sharing them out loud – don’t change in us that much in the way they operate and, also, our stories don’t change their domination over us just by getting them conscious. A lot of the grooves of how our old stories work are connected with how our brains work. We can learn to work with our brains to heal our stories and by repatterning and yet there is still so much will and mind needed to truly change the patterned grooves. That is why so many powerful healing remedies which are based on body, breath, art and heart work have come to rise to bring us new information about how we function as humans, and how we can heal.

How do we change how the story lives in us?

We can change how our stories live in us. That is what intentional creativity is about – first we get the story conscious and then we ‘move’ how it lives in us. To do this we need to change our relationship to the story physically, spiritually and through ‘form.’ (Yes, the creation of form in the physical universe.) The memory was created through witnessing and experiencing a form based incident – it was physical. So to change how it ended up ‘storing’ itself inside of us, we need to have access to all three levels:
  • Physical Body Memory – meaning our own body form and where the story is lodged physically.
  • Spirit Memory – meaning the way the story lives inside of our spirit.
  • Creation Memory – meaning associating a new story in the physical and spirit world regarding that story.
The actual space and time continuum where the incident occurred, where the story ‘happened’, is what the brain and body use as their mechanism to form and inform their existing patterns. Again, we have very little ‘choice’ as to where and how the experience lives in us. Our victory is that we survived. How to get the story changed and adjusted in the physical and spiritual realms is often our missing piece in healing story. Over time, as we work with each core story and how it has harmed and helped us along, we can create an overall wholeness experience, a conscious reweaving of the fabric of who we are. When we work with intentional creativity, the individual gets access to the stories that have shaped them and to their beliefs and they can begin to ‘narrate’ in the future how story lives in them and how an incident is stored up and handled by the body-mind-spirit connection. But, they also get to go back and deal with each of the primary stories of hurt and breakthrough so that they can more intimately work with the wounds, which often become tools for transformation in the authoring of their future.

Image is the key to transforming how we view ourselves

Image is the way to change the story. But, not just image that yousee though that is a part of it. If a woman experiences a physical assault, images of women victims will trigger her own wound – this we know. If she sees an image of a woman of power, she can gather strength from that image to rise from her own story. But this only takes her so far. She can create an entirely integrated archetypal image of her own self image, through working with the image of the feminine, which she creates from within instead of continual external reference points.

How this began in a therapist’s office
In the beginning of my career as an artist I studied with Artist Sue Hoya Sellars exploring the long hidden and lost images of the feminine. Following my first art show, I began to work with a female therapist who worked at a mental health agency. She asked me to photo copy images of my drawings so that she could share them with her clients who had experienced sexual abuse and other kinds of trauma. She said that there were no image references for them to use to ‘heal’ their images of themselves as wounded women. I transferred the images I drew of positive, feminine, empowered, whole, holy women onto stones and she would lend out the stones to the women clients so that they could look at the image and, in some cases, place the stone onto their body or heart. This was just the beginning of a movement that has now spanned close to twenty years of working with women to heal how they experience themselves.

After much urging from her, Aletheia Mystea, I created my first Coloring Book, Color of Woman Journal, and the therapists went wild. I could not keep the copies in stock. I had painted and signed each cover so it was personal from me and off they went to do their work. (At the time I didn’t know that ‘coloring’ could break a psychotic loop.) The books are now used in lockdown facilities for women in the psyche ward as it helps them to stop the pattern they get into that they cannot get out of themselves. In addition, it helps them to increase their ability to memorize. I began to wonder if they colored in a breast or a hip with ‘love’ for themselves were they memorizing a new relationship to that part of them?

How making our own image is healing

Further on down the road I began to be ‘asked’ by moms to teach their daughters. I began to see the results of working with a feminine image that they created themselves – regardless of whether it was perfect or pretty – because they identified with it as being ‘them’ and their self image began to shift. Over time, and thousands of books and students later, I studied the trends and patterns that I witnessed in my students both online and in person and discovered what I consider to be breakthroughs in the arena of how image is a profound tool for healing and reshaping ourselves. We have known this for a very long time and still, in some ways, we are still at the forefront of just how powerful this can be in the recovery process. When we are hurt our image of ourselves is altered and it is a long road, as anyone in the self help or healing worlds knows, from I don’t feel good enough or I am ashamed of my body, to I feel like myself or I am well or even, I am in love with who I am. This long, long road, through intentional creativity can become a journey of a lifetime – an awakening to what is possible for our lives and who we are. This is why I started the Color of Woman Teacher Training and we are now in our fourth year!

So if making our ‘own images’ can help us change the internal image of how we view ourselves within, might that change how we relate to negative external images and how we let those images inform our view of ourselves and what we purchase and what relationships we have and how we treat our body and how we walk in the room and take up space? All of these things are based on images we have seen and the things we experience visually and physically. As beings of ‘sight’ our perception of who we are is informed greatly by what we ‘see’ out there which shapes how we ‘see’ internally and then how we see ourselves. But we have largely been bystanders as to how this “seeing” works. We have very little clue, no matter how smart or enlightened we are, about how we structure this human design to receive informational stimulus from outside of us and how we let that inform our internal experience of ourselves – which informs all of our choices. Our story of ourselves, who we experience ourselves AS, is what creates our life – if we don’t believe we deserve love we allow ourselves to suffer with less love. If we believe we deserve to be loved, we will continue to look until that feeling in us matches an experience of that.

Many of the images of the feminine are representative of women that we do not identify with and yet, since those are the icons of ‘what to be,’ our chance of knowing how to shift that is rather intellectual – and most of us do not succeed in not comparing ourselves to other women. In addition, the images of the feminine that existed for the past 50,000 years have often been hidden from our view and for many years we didn’t even know that there were images of the Goddess previous to the past 5,000 or so years. The movement of the ‘divine feminine’ has gone a long way in helping us to see ourselves as included in the creation. Even though we give birth we still needed to SEE the images of the Goddess to see that we are life-giving enough to identify with it as powerful part of who we are.

These soul-full findings are why I began to really teach this work to other women, and to teach them to teach it to themselves and other women through the Color of Woman. This work lights up my soul fire and from that space of passionate action my own life dream is being fulfilled. When I was just starting out on this journey it was my ‘piece of the red thread’ to transform the way the feminine is viewed in my lifetime. I had NO idea at the age of 23 how that could or would become possible, but now I know.
Here is the video I made where I share about how a story moves in us and how it lives inside of our brains.


How does making our own image change how we see ourselves?

There are several things that happen when a woman begins to create her own images. First, remember that almost all of us created when we were little children. Crayon and paper were not just given to those who showed a propensity for creativity, they were given to all children. So, at some core level, there is an understanding deep in the culture of our people that little people should experience drawing, which we do long before written language. Drawing is our first language beyond sight and sound that we make ourselves that is not really in response to anything external – we are not drawing a house out there, rather we are making scribbles on a paper, however incomprehensible in the beginning – it is our own language.
I have worked with children and asked their parents to let me do their first drawing class when it was time for them to move beyond the marks on paper stage – I take their little hand and draw a circle over and over and then they do it, over and over, and their experience of having control from within begins with that connection point. This occurs differently than having them draw something outside of themselves where they can notice it is not really ‘like that.’ Teaching internal referencing can be profoundly powerful for the development of the individual child and human of any age. Teaching them how to lead with the right brain instead of the left as the origin of a particular action could go a long way towards keeping tiny soul fires lit throughout a lifetime.

To step out of the over-culture that dominates our lives internally and externally what is needed first, just like healing, is to consciously choose to explore our story about how we have been living and operating inside of our lives. Then, we begin the change through intentional creating that brings us across the abyss to what and who we could become.

Is this just spiritual stuff or is it more than that?

We all know that the right brain and left brain function at different levels and capacities. Most of us are left brain dominant with some right brain sprinkled in. To change that, and include more of the flow and image and color and light and insight of the right brain, we have to choose it consciously. The left brain thinks nothing of using the right brain in service to the desire of the left to make shape into form that makes sense and fits the boxes it needs to in order to sustain structure. The right brain, however, doesn’t always know it needs to connect to the left brain to make its thoughts and dreams manifest – hence why it is so hard to change our patterns even though we so desire it and also how hard it is to create a life that reflects who we are. The right brain needs to learn how to include the gifts of the left, but to employ that we have to consciously choose how to use the right brain – to ask it to employ the left brain gifts in service to its dreams instead of just the dominant other way around. It is helpful to think of the voice inside of us when thinking about right and left and to imagine that the critic lives in the left hemisphere and the muse dwells in the right. When the Muse is given the power to employ the left, the choices and results are different and often more balanced with the soul desire and sustainability of that human.

There is a lot of nueroscientific backing to these thoughts, connected with how the brain works and functions so that we can study it and talk about it. Most of all, that we have the capacity to learn how it functions just enough to participate in how we see and think and therefore act upon our lives. Through giving image and language of our own story we begin to understand what role we might have in the work of authoring our own future instead of just being at the effect of a life happening “to us.”

Working with art to transform our stories involves a process not dissimilar to transference. It is helpful in this case to think about a talisman – the creator of the talisman is literally ‘transferring’ their energy INTO the physical object. When something is transferred, there is an open space in the psyche.

When we create with intention we are making: Talismans

Talisman comes from the root word in Greek teleo which means “To Consecrate.” The meaning of it has to do with the person who makes it, charging it with powers, blessings and/or healings through choice. They are charging it up, in essence, with prayers, hopes and dreams. Legend has it that the more specific one is with what they put into the creation of the ‘thing’ – the form – the more direct the response is from the Divine. So often it is used in manifestation, calling in or awakening that which we choose to bring to our attention. The process can create an opening in us. Then we have access to information that we did not have before. Just as significant as that is the concept of transference. That we could MOVE a mind-body-spirit based story ONTO a physical surface (canvas) with the intention of changing how that story image lives in us. Finally, there is some psychic space around the gripping patterned synapses that have been living within us for so long.

The making of Talisman/Taliswoman is different than making an idol of something as we are not worshipping what we made or confusing the thing with the divine. The act of making it itself is what makes the opening happen in the universe for the information, the in-form-ation, to come through and is what brings our awareness into alignment and harmony with what it is we are choosing to focus on. It is not uncommon in the act of creation, whether that be a song or a dance or a painting or a sculpture or a soup or a garden or a necklace, for us to receive information, be in-formed by the process because we are focusing and paying attention with our deep listening. In anticipation we seek to be informed.

Over only the past 3 years close to 80 women are graduates of thisColor of Woman training. I never dreamed that this could be possible – that I would be sharing this most exquisite of gifts with women worldwide and teaching them how to bring healing to other women through the transformation of personal image. The feminine rises as each woman inhabits her own fullness – and all of us benefit.

Bringing our intention to the canvas

This kind of working is called Intentional Creativity and asks that you bring your story to the canvas and into the paint strokes. Layer by layer, a call and response begins with the canvas and what lies just beyond the physical realm into the mystical. We always begin a painting with an overarching intention. Then each step is a revelation in both consciousness and in design that creates the breakthrough (they just begin to happen there in the subconscious without effort.)
The effort becomes the act of creating and is driven from another place within us that we all have – the desire to express ourselves, to be seen and heard and loved, to belong to ourselves and to each other. When we create we are often creating from this place whether we know it or not. The choice to create with intention sets our brain into the track to access and employ memory and longing but we don’t then have to dominate the breakthrough – it happens organically by being carried by the original intention coupled with the creative actions that are based ultimately in movement, since we are moving when we add paint to a canvas.
Connecting your intention is like finding a clear signal on a radio that is tuned to a specific frequency that opens channels to the subconscious and unconscious that we are ready to deal with. The layers of consciousness then yield up into the creative process that which needs to be worked with next. Layer by layer new space is created. Once the story is transferred to canvas it lives inside of us differently – the way it used to operate is now dis-lodged and we can consciously choose what to do to work with the space we have now cleared up inside of our internal story pattern.

What is fascinating is that creating art is always good for us – but whether or not it is truly healing (because our brain and body choose to engage in that healing process), is through one specific thing… Our choice to engage ourselves in a conscious act of creating, instead of just creating. Many artists don’t experience their art as healing, although many would call it cathartic or life saving. Still, the capacity to use it as a tool to know oneself is dependent on one’s intention to do so – that is why we call it intentional creativity.

My own origin of intentional creativity began with a day in the studio of the Master Artist, Sue Hoya Sellars. I was wedging clay and complaining about how hard it was, how many bubbles and stones there were and how my hands were hurting. She is a chop-wood-and-carry-water teacher so we had spent a long time digging that clay and mixing it to make our own. I simply wanted to throw a pot, not make clay out of the mountain.
As I complained, without looking up from stirring her tea she replied, “You have to put your intention into what you are doing.”
She then asked me, “What is it that you truly care about?”
I said, “I care about ending violence against women and children.”
She said, “Put THAT desire into the clay as you wedge.”
My whole life changed in that moment. I was set upon my path at the age of 23 catalyzed from that moment after a lifetime of my mother teaching me how to choose how I view the world and what my experience of it would be. And so I was trained and ready to have that thought about putting my intention into my work transforming not only how I worked, but how it felt to work. And that not only changed the outcome of what was created, it changed the purpose that thing held and what its vibration was.

The image above is from my very first art show in 1995, a combination of illustration, acrylic transfer and photographs of trees, clouds and roses that I took – this very image was one of the first three images that TRANSFORMED my entire view of myself, and do I dare say, THE UNIVERSE? And, Her.

And so this is how this movement moves, one woman at a time. Through putting the tools of creation into her very hands.
In a world ravaged by war, and an all out attack on women and children each of us must choose how we will respond to ‘what is’ and how we will navigate the terrain of being called life. Making art and offering it as healing to others is the way I choose to respond. I respond in beauty. I choose to hold my piece of the red thread and to be a blessing to those I am called to serve. This is my story and the one I am creating.
What story are you creating or calling in? What is ready to brought forth from within you?
Signed in A Red Thread of Hope. They say that those who are supposed to meet are connected by an invisible red thread since before birth….and so we meet…and meet again.
Interesting Image
If you want to learn how to paint using the Color of Woman Method there is most likely a teacher or a workshop happening in your area – check the tabs above for dates and offerings.
Interesting Image

The Song of Tough Angels

Patty Melnice of Tough Angels joined our community a few years ago, and when I saw her website and what she was up to I was profoundly moved by her work. I love hearing the stories of all the good work being done by all of these amazing service based organizations, but when it is one woman on a mission I have to say I get fired up. Patty and I have been keeping in touch as time moves along and her vision of working in Africa makes me hold onto that red thread of hope. The song of tough angels like Patty is hope, and it gives us all hope when we hear her story, and the story of the women and children she serves.

Patty and I have been speaking about how to collaborate more in the future – to share the work the Red Thread Nation and our tribeswomen of Cosmic Cowgirls and Color of Woman are doing with bringing self expression into the world. With technology advances and increased access to platforms in Africa, Patty and I talked about being able to bring creative processes of healing through video. This is in the works… Let me share Patty with you… ~Shiloh Sophia

My decision to quit my job as a visual stylist for a luxury retailer . . . to put my belongings in storage . . . to walk away from my home . . . to venture into the unknown and travel alone to South Africa, followed a divorce after 24 years of marriage. My life had to be about something bigger than my divorce, and I couldn’t think of a better way to move through the heartache than to be of service to others. I never dreamed however, that it would change the course of my life so completely. Moreover, I never dreamed my actions would have a ripple effect that would reach further than I ever imagined possible.

After spending six months, independently volunteering in Africa rescuing children that had been raped, I returned to the US driven by a voracious passion for aiding and assisting women and children of violence. I don’t know why I’ve been chosen to do this work, but I do know there are far too many synchronies to deny my life’s purpose. After my experience, I was determined to incite awareness as step one to begin the process of transformation and healing for women and children far less fortunate than ourselves. Surprisingly, along the route, what I discovered was so much more about myself. I found I had the courage to walk away from my comfortable lifestyle in order to dedicate my life to humanitarian efforts. I have recently founded my own non-profit organization, Tough Angels, Inc.

I am determined!

Rescuing children that had been brutally raped and the rate at which it occurred was an incomprehensible experience that I didn’t know I was equipped to handle. I assure you however, I found so much more there than tragedy. I came to know and love these wonderful, strong, forgiving and grateful people that became my teachers.

It would be impossible to illustrate with any accuracy the depths of adversity and hardship that is experienced in this culture. To give you a thumbnail sketch of what I encountered, the youngest rape case, though not uncommon, was a 4-month old baby that died from her injuries. From point of rescue, to the final court proceedings of each case, I worked with the child victims, the police, Child Protective Services, the hospitals, and the judicial system to address what is now an epidemic problem in Africa. The final case I was involved in only days before I left the continent, was an 11-year old girl; stabbed, raped and left for dead on the side of a road after her perpetrator rolled a huge bolder on top of her tiny body. The brave little girl clung to her life and was able to give us the details necessary to track down the rapist. The police officers and I searched for days through the impoverished hills of the countryside for the rapist. High speed chases, guns firing, and attack dogs still did not deter this man. Each day the little girl clung to her life. In the end we did catch him and in the end, she lost her life – oddly within minutes of his capture. Did she fight to stay alive until he was arrested? I always believed she did.

South Africa claims the #1 spot in the world for rapes of women and children and HIV infections. Many of these tragedies can be blamed on a tribal myth that exists within the poverty-stricken communities that believe purification and a cure for AIDS can be attained through sexual intercourse with a virgin child. The work required around education, prevention, and the reporting of the abuse in order to undo this myth is believed by some, insurmountable. I however, believe that by empowering the women to have a voice, to stand for justice, and to refuse to accept this as a way of life for themselves and their children is the way to bring about change. Women rising up . . . this is new for them!

I worked closely with the Zulu people and one woman in particular, named Lady Fair, became my benchmark for grace, gratitude and generosity. Lady Fair is a single Mom supporting her family of 5, in addition to 11 orphans that she has taken in off the streets. She receives no financial help for the orphans and she once told me that if she had 2 potatoes, God would want her to give one away to help others. Lady Fair lived in a tiny tin shack with dirt floors, no running water or electricity. She never complained, nor did she ever ask for help. When I became aware of her circumstances, I knew I could not leave the continent without helping her. I had no idea what that looked like or how I was going to accomplish it but I was determined to create a warmer, safer place for her and the children. Without financial means of my own to achieve this, I pawned my wedding ring and with the help of friends was able to secure land and build Lady Fair a house. She now lives in a home with a secure foundation, and running water for the first time in her life.

That being such a cathartic experience for myself, I started “The Wedding Ring Project” as my first campaign to raise funds to return and build a safe house in the Kwa Zulu Natal region of South Africa. Others can do the same and donate their broken, unused, or repurposed jewelry to Tough Angels, Inc.

I remain in touch with Lady Fair as I’m certain I will until my final breath. She is my sister. She recently told me that she had been in a deep dark hole all her life and many people had stopped by to look at her in the hole. She stated that the change occurred because I believed in her, and the difference being, I got down in the hole with her to help her out. I did not do anything extraordinary. I saw a need and stepped up . . . the same as anyone with a heart would’ve done. The real story is in what Lady Fair has done as a result of being given a chance. We were recently in contact, at which time she told me she had a surprise for me. Within days, I received a letter from an attorney in S. Africa with an attached proposal for a safe house Lady Fair wants to build and facilitate. Can you hear me screaming with excitement and joy?! Her dream was to run her own safe house for children awaiting placement in adoption or foster care once they had been rescued from rape. The name for her proposed site is Ngiwelise, which loosely translated means “crossing over the bridge but remembering where you came from and turning around to help others cross over too.”

Contained in the proposal is the outline of who the safe house will accept and assist. In addition to the children awaiting placement, Lady Fair will care for children of teenage mothers during the day, with the stipulation that the moms attend school. That is where the healing begins and change begins to take place. One by one, life improves and it begins to have a ripple effect. We can all be part of the solution to make a difference! It doesn’t require going to a developing country and volunteering for 6 months, but it does beg us to get involved. Spread awareness. Brainstorm ways to bring about change. We are all in this together.

I keep this photo handy. When I first arrived, I remember riding in the backseat of a police car with this little girl on our way to the hospital for her forensic exam. It was about 1:00AM and the night air was blowing through the opened windows of the rickety police car. She trembled in my arms with her head resting on my heart for the entire ride. We couldn’t speak each other’s language but I wrapped her in all the love and protection I possibly could. Months later, right as I was getting ready to leave, I was at an orphanage and didn’t even recognize her until she came running to me with open arms. She is my “hope” talisman and my reminder that we can heal . . . her body was indeed raped, but as you can see, her spirit was not.

From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of the children and women I serve, we thank you.

Patricia Melnice, Tough Angels

Share a slice of Revolutionary Pie?

Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine isn’t about a reaction, or a space for venting – though we may have some rants and chants for the injustices and absurdities running along side recipes for the best homemade pie recipes in the world or how to glitter your cowgirl boots.

Read More

Loading...
X