Olivia Oso shares her teaching journey of remembering our innate beauty and wisdom.
We gathered together in Eugene for the Sacred Tree Workshop and had an amazing time together. In the beginning of this painting process, all the elements where brought in to create the background. I asked the group to consciously listen to how each force lives within, earth, air, water and fire. A mark for a seed was added, representing the beginning of each person’s inner Tree of Life. We brought in the unavoidable tragedy line, as well as consciously acknowledging all the blessings and triumphs of our lives as well. A symbol to the Indigenous nature we EACH carry in own lineage and/or from the place where WE now live was added.
I brought in ritual each day using Palo Santo, sage and rose quartz, with each participant receiving a gift of their own stick of Palo Santo along with a journal. I offered other oils from the plant nations to bless their canvases, lavender, cedar, and sage. Each person was also invited to bring a symbol of their sacred intention and we created a community altar together.
My teachings involved information from the different spiritual traditions and I shared different perspectives as they connected to what it represented for them personally. I also used the symbol and parts of the Tree as aspects of our own body such as, roots, truck, core, branches, leaves, flowers, inviting inquiry into what they represented in their own lives. Poetry was also used along the way.
In a guided visualization, I took them down into the roots of the tree to the core of Mother earth and up their spine with the chakra points, to a connection with Her, a woman who was a spiritual presence for them.
When I illustrated my Composition, I was guided to bring both the Feminine form and the Tree of Life. Attendees could choose whatever they wished or were guided to do, specifically a tree or a Being, along with the Sacred Tree.
Over the course of 2 1⁄2 days, my Beloveds were so wonderful to be with. As feelings of fear, grief, being stuck or blocked and being terrified were expressed, in spite of these emotions, there was such trust and openness to the process. As a facilitator of the Intentional Creativity process, It was a wonderful gift and blessing to witness the break-downs, breakthroughs, aha moments, celebration and expression of Creativity. It is always so amazing to remember why I do this work. It makes such a difference in the world. We all got to witness as the energy of the group shifted, as things got released, new stories created and joy expressed.
My passion is to guide others toward their inherent gifts in creative process. I love witnessing the Beauty of the earth in all Her many forms. I facilitate workshops and classes using Intentional Creativity in Portland, OR and beyond.
Find out about Olivia’s upcoming workshops and art at www.gypsyheartstudio.com
The Empress symbolizes humankind’s ability to extend and receive love.
A beautiful day spent with amazing women. Oh, how I love when women gather, good things happen. We had it all… laugher, story, heart tears, wisdom, homemade soup, gluten-free cake, painting, painting and more painting!
Using Intentional Creativity, we spent the day painting and exploring our personal Empress, who represents Love with Wisdom. In the Tarot, the year 2019 is the year of the Empress. She symbolizes humankind’s ability to extend and receive love. She is Demeter, the Earth Mother and Venus, the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Creative Power. We layered our paintings with personal symbols, planted seeds of desires, acknowledged and bowed to the story of our past, and envisioned and moved in the direction of our Empress.
The Empress knows the importance of, as Shiloh often says, giving from our overflow. She is a benevolent leader. She is feminine, sensual and passion. She is the creative spark, and to me a beautiful balance of the right and left brain, with the action to bring her ideas and desires to fruition.
As a teacher, I felt more freedom when I let go of the internal expectation of having to be the expert on the empress, and it was even more magical. I still held the space and held each woman, but inside I was able to let go of inner thoughts that I had to know it all. Instead I shared with the group WHY I was interested in the Empress. Just as the tarot has other symbols on each card, students explored symbols important to their own lives. I led them on a visualization thru the underworld gathering their gifts and knowings, then up to the upper world and eventually to their own throne on the mountain top surrounded with pomegranate and blooming flowers.
I loved how the women supported one another. It was a beautiful class. At the end I had each woman introduce their empress to each other. I wanted to cry from the wisdom they shared and I felt such deep love for myself knowing that I was brave enough to create and hold this space for these women to explore their inner Empress.
The stories we are telling in our lives is part of what runs our lives. So let’s learn to tell a story of healing.
We are returning to the United Nations for the 6th time to bring Intentional Creativity to the table. This year, we are bringing Native American women with us to share their ways of telling and talking story, educate on the often missed status of Native Women in the United States and share the power of Intentional Creativity.
Many of us who serve, find ourselves traveling all over the world looking for those most in need to support with our time and resources. How about here at home, for those who live in the United States, the Native women are asking for our attention to be brought close to home. We have a serious need here to focus on.
Will you join us?
Herstory is being made as we speak…
How this connects to my path is shared below…
~ Shiloh Sophia
United Nations Commission on the Status of Women is coming up in March!
Our Intentional Creativity community is headed back to New York for our 6th year and you are invited to join us one way or another – online or in person.
Please take the time to read this message, it’s important….
If you can join us for our free event at UNCSW or our longer workshop – HURRAY! And if you can’t, we are still inviting you to ‘join us virtually’. Below, learn how you can be a part of it from afar…and most of all…
WORK WITH US TO BRING NATIVE AMERICAN WOMEN’S VOICES TO THE TABLE AT UNCSW by being a Support Sponsor
The HERSTORY PROJECT
Hosted by MUSEA : Intentional Creativity Foundation with Shiloh Sophia and Jonathan McCloud. In collaboration with Carmen Baraka : Spirit Warrior and Denise Wreden and Alexis Estes of Native Hope
2 Ways to Participate in Person:
Join us for a 5-Day NY Workshop March 188.8.131.52.12 to experience HERSTORY and celebrate women artists who have come before us – including seeing the museum shows together for Frida Kahlo and Hilma Af Klint. Our time will also include Post Trauma Healing Art Practices and the Transformation of Story.
Attend our FREE UNCSW Event open to the public: Post Trauma Healing Art Practices and the Transformation of Story. March 12, 10:30am – 12pm 4 W 43rd Street, Aqua Room – no need to RSVP – come join us. If you want join us for ritual and lunch following, then please register here to hold your spot.
We are SO excited to partner with Alexis Estes Woksape Ole Winyan (Seeks Knowledge), Donor Care and Social Media at Native Hope, who will be joining us: www.nativehope.org. Consider being a part of bringing her work as a storyteller and painter to the UN.
Carmen Baraka, Spirit Warrior, will be joining us for the second time to share about the reality of Native American women and children in the United States. She will also lead ceremony and circle along with her partner in life and ceremony, Denise Wreden.
The last time we were there, the participants admitted to being shocked to learn about the status with Native Women in the United States. They said they didn’t know – well we are coming to tell them.
“We stand firm in our commitment to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression, including artistic and creative expression. In addition to being an integral part of the protected human right to freedom of expression, artistic and creative expression is critical to the human spirit, the development of vibrant cultures, and the functioning of democratic societies. Artistic expression connects us all, transcending borders and barriers.”
~ This quote has come from a joint statement made by 57 State Members at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and delivered by Ambassador Janis Karklins, the Permanent Representative of Latvia to the United Nations on September 18, 2015.
Sponsoring a Native Youth and Elders to attend UNCSW63:
This is our first Intentional Creativity Foundation sponsorship invitation for CSW since we began traveling to the UN in 2013.
All donations will go towards financing bringing a Native youth, elder, and staff from our Intentional Creativity Team, to the United Nations with us to share their stories and teach about story. This includes airfare, lodging and meals for three women (around 10k in total costs). Once those expenses are covered, remaining funds will go 100% towards the media sharing we are preparing for you.
Shiloh Sophia and Jonathan McCloud cover their own expenses and finance all aspects of the trip from personal funds each year. This is the first time we are saying, would you like to be a part of making it happen?
We’ve received requests from our community asking how you can be involved, even if you can’t come in person.
The minimum donation is $55. You can also purchase more than one sponsorship in another woman’s name and/or honor, and we will reach out to confirm her name. Simply change the quantity from ‘1’ to the number of sponsorships you want to purchase to 2 or 3 or more.
For questions or large sum donations, you can contact Sarah Mardell, firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will be creating a video documentary from our UN experience focused on Intentional Creativity and storytelling.
Support sponsors will be listed in our documentary credits by name or business.
The Intentional Creativity Foundation, Inc. is a fully recognized 501(c)3 Charitable Organization in the United States. Your donations will be earmarked for UNCSW and are tax deductible.
Today I am sharing part of my story with you and why this work and the Native American thread is so important to me. I would be honored if you would take the time to have tea with me for this Red Thread Letter.
When I arrive at the United Nations and see those 180+ member flags fluttering in the wind – my heart flutters. It isn’t that I think we are going to make some huge difference, but rather, that we DO have a voice at that table. Bringing art and storytelling to the UN has become one of my most cherished trips and experiences. I learn so much each time and I become re-inspired about our work with Intentional Creativity.
Jonathan and I are thrilled to be going to New York again for our 6th year supporting the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. It is such a JOY and gift to attend this event and be part of such important work happening in the world for women, girls and creativity. Many who have attended our gathering come to show us their red thread from the year before…and after our events, people say – they are so glad we are here because we provide some of the ‘positive’ stories and images.
There’s a spoken and unspoken connection when I’m there – as most of the women and men you see in the neighborhood of the UN are there on behalf of women. Something sacred passes between us as the streets and cafe’s filled with those who serve others with their life work. A smiling into healing between all of us. It feels SO AMAZING like being held in a cosmic colorful embrace. And the ‘outfits’ of the global women make me so happy!
I’ll never forget when I was first invited back in 2013 by United Nations Report Network and one of my mentors, Lois Herman, to speak and share my work through art and image and poetry – and to participate in powerful global conversations about issues affecting women. I wanted to share how creativity can be used as a healing modality for girls and women, post-trauma. THAT was a huge moment for me, like a full circle effect of the work I’ve been doing my entire life – a dream come true for seeds planted long ago in how I was raised.
For my presentation, I knew I wanted to share our community instead of just my work. I knew that one woman sharing her story wasn’t capable of demonstrating what was possible, so I chose to share the work of my students, over 40+ Color of Woman Graduates. My presentation was very well received and shared before thousands who were gathered in person and online – an epic moment of YAHOOO!
Here I am shaking in my boots and also very proud of the women of Intentional Creativity…
Here we are in 2016, when Spirit Warrior, Carmen Baraka smudged the United Nations Member Flags, asking for an apology for Native Peoples of the territory that is now known as the United States. You can read the article here. Suffice to say, there’s never a dull moment when the Cosmic Cowgirls are in town!
Healing the scars with our Native American sisters, brothers and this land is part of my personal path.
With everything happening in our sweet sad country I can’t help but look at the old wounds and crimes. We are built on the bones of occupation, colonization, slavery, racism and massacre. We know this. If we do not apologize in a proper manner, following the lead of Australia and Canada, to the first nations people of this territory…can we truly heal?
In a personal relationship, if an offense has been committed in the past, even if we think we are ‘moved on’ it just festers and it will come back; it is the natural cycle. Not like karma, but like nature. The buried toxicity will come out of our pores, and out of the earth pores, and out of the energy pores and be woven into DNA. This is like that.
We have a past relationship wound that needs healing. There is no moving on because how we started with our invasion here is STILL GOING ON THROUGH FOCUSED attacks on the Native Americans of this land and the land itself. ((((TEARS))))) How can it be that a nation as ‘developed’ as ours is not tending to this reality?
If we don’t heal the wound with the Native Americans of this land we will not have healing in this land. Let’s heal. This is my stand.
And if we do not have healing in this land, at least each one of us can take responsibility for healing our own relationships with the earth and each other. With a focused intent, not on feigned inclusion and looking good kinds of diversity. I am talking about relationships where there is something at stake between you, and the native peoples of the geography in which we are living.
In my heart of hearts, every time a crime happens here, this is where my thoughts go – we can’t heal if we won’t heal the past. The treatment of the children and families crossing the border is an extension and perpetuation of the exact same behavior that got us here in the first place.
It is not lost on me that guns were introduced by the foreigners to the Native peoples and now it is guns by common broken citizens that are showing us who we have allowed ourselves to become. We are in a cycle here, let us NOT miss this. Other kinds of senseless violence stir us and our hearts – but the gun kind has a maddening impact – the senselessness – even the lack of clear motive baffles us. We can’t understand this – but then how can we if we don’t even know where we LIVE. These ‘shooters’ are human beings showing us how sick we are. I pray for them and their families too. Will we just judge them as crazy and malicious instead of looking to the patterns they are revealing through their violence?
If a child in a family grew up to to be violent would we not first look to the parents and siblings for evidence, or reason? Think of the United States as a family who crushed another family and then tried to act like we had rights to do so. Why are we not looking to the roots of the violence here in the US? I know many are, but I am talking about your average every day American wanting to find the reason and change it within themselves and their country. When we look, we will find first the Native Americans closely followed by the enslavement of other peoples. And the never to be missed violence against women in any and all cultures, settings and time frames of the past 5000 or so years.
This story has duplicated itself over and over, having been to Hawaii and Corsica – two places that are occupied not unlike the US is occupied – you can feel the rumblings beneath your feet.
Who are we as a country has to begin with who we are as individuals since leadership right now doesn’t seem to represent most of those I know…(and if it does represent you, you too are welcome with the rest of us to keep waking up and taking action.)
Now I know that this conquering, raping and pillaging has happened all over the world since the beginning of time. Take over, crush the people before you and take their stuff. And I hate it. I don’t care if it has been happening since the first dawn of creation, we are done done done with this kind of power over mentality and reality. We are all suffering. Even those who would allow it, are suffering. Jesus says to forgive them when they know not what they do. But what about those who do? I will work on forgiving them too, but first, I ask forgiveness of my sisters and brothers of this territory in which I live.
“I am so sorry. I am standing watch with you to protect this earth. Please forgive me and my ancestors. I am seeing the ways of our ancestors and the harm it has caused you and continues to. Let’s move forward together. This is a start. I am here to learn from you.”
We keep trying to address these injustices through marches, lobbying, gathering, policy, social media, protests and on we go but there is a bigger force than that behind, that this barely touches. This is where the despair comes in and we feel like we aren’t making a difference. We have to show up and FEEL the solidarity and caring and bring as much change as we can to keep showing up to these things.
Yet I also know that the ENERGY and collective memory of the connection with the first peoples needs our attention. This is not just a policy fix, but a mending in the energy field of this planet. The Native teachings KNOW about energy and how it works. SO KEEP SHOWING UP. BUT also know that each one of us can, first in our own soul, apologize and FEEL this sorrow move through you like a rushing river. And become aware even a little bit, about what is happening to our people of the United States. I know it is a big ask and big for me too. This is my start.
Don’t know how to say I am sorry authentically? First say it to the air. Say it to the ground. Say it to the water. Say it to the trees. Say it to the creatures. Say it to the sun and stars. Say it to your sisters and brothers who are Native Americans. FEEL IT. Don’t know any? Go find ways to contribute without taking over their stuff. Ask yourself why you don’t have those connections. Don’t go with an idea to save anyone: They don’t need saving. They don’t need us foreigners: We Need Them. Ask for counsel on how to proceed. Don’t posture or feign or beg. Just be yourself in how you actually feel.
I was smudged before I was baptized. Since my early twenties Native American teachers have showed up, literally on my path, in my path and taught me. Saw me. And I am so grateful beyond measure. Gabby. Choquoush. Anton. Tonantzin. Carmen. Thank you. My teacher Sue was also part Blackfoot. My Grandmother Eden said we were part Cherokee but it doesn’t show in the DNA. So I am here as a foreigner and requesting conscious forgiveness. And conscious collaboration on behalf of our earth and peoples.
I also know my ancestors were fleeing persecution and domination where they came from. I am sad that they could not, would not, be a part of co-inhabiting this land in a beautiful way. I am sorry for them too. When I do this work in the spiritual realm through writing, prayer, painting and circle, I also speak to those in my family line who have gone before me. It isn’t that I am angry with them. It also isn’t that in my apology I think I am healing all the past. Or that saying sorry is going to do it. I know it won’t but I know it is a start, forgiveness is always a starting place for transformation. It changes the one asking, for one thing. Changes your heart and humbles you and makes you more supple. Mostly it is about acknowledging the past and creating a different future where conquering is no longer an option. I have spoken.
What is an apology if it can’t be heard and felt and is not backed up by action to protect and preserve and change our ways? http://indianlaw.org/node/529
Repairing these individual relationships with consciousness is how we will survive these times. Start somewhere. Start with prayer, even if you don’t know how.
This is my personal experience offered up. You have your own experience. Speak that. Have corrections? I will make them. I am not supposing to get this right but to be part of the story. But in trying to get it right and be politically correct with the to date stuff, many of us are being silent.
“Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence” – Mourning Dove Salish
Here is the slideshow I shared during my 2013 presentation ~ The Soul Fire Collection comprised of works from 42 Color of Woman Graduates in 2011 and 2012. A testament that healing and transformation is possible through Intentional Creativity.
When I travel to the United Nations, I LOVE being in person with those of you who can make the journey, including members of the Intentional Creativity Guild and Cosmic Cowgirls. This gathering makes us feel so proud and see the bigger picture of our work.
Each year we host an event or two in New York, where we can be in circle together and connect red threads and this is how we often finance the journey. This year’s workshop, starting on International Women’s day, has a focus of HERSTORY ~ looking together at our own stories, the stories of the pioneers of the women’s movement, and to women painters that we consider ‘intentional creatives’ – in that they told stories intentionally with their paintings and coded them with personal mythology.
You can join us for the full 5 day workshop. Festivities begin on March 8 and complete with a celebration luncheon following our event at UNCSW on the afternoon of March 12. The workshop also includes journey’s to explore the work of women artist’s Frida Kahlo and Hilma Af Klint at museums – how cool that these shows are in NY right now!
Or, just join us on the 12th for the free event at UNCSW. You can choose to register to attend the luncheon afterwards ($45) or just come to the talk/circle at 10:30
And…if you’re inspired to support our journey…please do. Be a part of making this happen with us.
What is a story you’ve held onto, that is no longer serving you about your body and beauty?
With this potent question came Ally Markotich’s vision to introduce an Intentional Creativity process to a community of intergenerational women. So it was, that this powerful group of women came together for Ally’s Body Embrace Workshop. Attendees ranged in age from 14 to over 60, including a mother and daughter, all ready and hungry to explore their narratives around body & beauty.
“I gave permission for people not to filter themselves and to be as honest as they needed to be.”
Each person wrote an intention to hold for themselves, and the level of sharing during the circle was intimate and deep.
This work is about the process, not the end result.
Ally explains, how part of her job as a Color of Woman Teacher is to help guide students to recognize the voices of the Muse and the Inner Critic. Activating the voice of the Muse, helps diminish the voice of the inner critic.
A gallery style walk in closing, allowed each person the space to speak powerfully about their creations and what they were awakened to after connecting deeply with themselves through this work.
I feel incredibly honored to be doing this work in the world. I’m very grateful to be able to share Intentional Creativity in the community where I live. I firmly believe this is revolutionary and very needed for all the weight people carry.
I offer a creative spark of word and image where beauty is noticed, space is honored and inquiries are asked. Join me on my quest to live with loving intention!
Color of Woman Teacher in-training, Milagros Suriano-Rivera, held her first Tea with the Muse Workshop with her daughter-in-law and her mom in San Antonio, Texas. Inspired by Shiloh Sophia McCloud’s Unleashed Feminine Flow exercise, the steps weave together intention-setting and paint to hone in on taking action towards that which we are passionate about. Milagros shares, “I just love talking about Intentional Creativity and how women respond when I explain how it works. I can attest to the magic and opportunities that present themselves for me and others. I witness the universe responding to me, when I show up and let my Muse show up as she desires.”
We are woven out of the fabric of Her robes,
and she embroiders us like millions of fibers of light
and glowing threads into the stars on her cloak.
We are always intertwined, and She gives birth to our true spiritual essence ~Hobby Parent
Just over a year ago, I began a journey in painting called The Black Madonna Pilgrimage. This study was centered around the indigenous images of the Black Madonna, inspired by her legends throughout the world, teachings about her, and music dedicated to her. Stories and her traditions throughout the world were part of the curriculum, having been passed from generation to generation, some hidden in mystery and others changed in history.
For 33 days we held a container through an online circle listening for her message to each of us. Our paintings expressed the unfolding of our relationship with the Black Madonna in a process of discovery. We explored the symbols of her image throughout the world, and were guided on a sacred pilgrimage of the heart as we heard her voice within us. Sue Monk Kidd wrote of a Black Madonna her in book, The Secret Life of Bees, as well as her memoir, Traveling with Pomegranates. It was a journey in seeking the Divine Feminine for each of us as well.
As I began this painting of Mary, a churning of turmoil and violence arrived in our city of Charlottesville, VA. I wrote these words on my canvas as I listened to headlines of racial strife and civil unrest erupting in the streets of the small college town where I listen to music on Fridays, eat lunch with colleagues on the Downtown Mall, and raised my children. As the day progressed, the chaos increased, and I tearfully painted 19 prayers in red for the people who were injured in the clash of white nationalists and counter protesters on the streets of this historical place I’ve called home for many years. More trauma and an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence” ensued as the hours passed, and the progress of the painting captured my impressions of the happenings that day.
I was not a brave person in so many ways. I was not prepared to be present in a situation of that magnitude. My heart went out to the people much more valorous than I, who showed up and were witness to what was happening. My activism was expressed on my canvas, in the brush strokes that held the prayers for those who came to represent their beliefs and values, as well as those whose hearts were filled with anger and rage.
In reading and research, I found words by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, author and activist: The Black Mother lights the treasure forward from the dark… dark that others might call chaos…And further, to strengthen ourselves to push back in ways within our reach… …that Our People, Our Nations on Earth Be Not Divided, Rather Be United.
So I continued to paint. Symbols of my spiritual journey, a line in connection to Infinite Wisdom, marks representing the Divine Feminine, and more prayers. Processing what was happening in our town, our country, our future. I painted more prayers in white for healing, love and compassion, and the grace to be able live in diverse harmony. And one, in reverence to the memory of Heather Heyer, who lost her life in the chaos. The days and weeks passed. I would paint for hours on some days and other days, my painting languished. I would look at the strokes and feel a sense of loss, of change.
She wanted to be a composite of color and light, symbolic of diversity and connection.
This method of painting I’ve studied is called Intentional Creativity, developed and taught by my teacher and mentor, Shiloh Sophia. There are many steps associated in this process, each layer a representation of the conversation between spirit and mind, painting and writing. As I write words on the canvas or in my journal, I listen to what comes up in my thoughts, and then I use paint, color and brush strokes to represent what I have pondered. It is a dance between Divine Intelligence through my consciousness to the brush onto the painting. A process of being mindful, listening to what shows up, and paying attention to the brush as it moves through me onto the canvas.
The next impression I received was a medicine wheel. A symbol in ancient cultures of balance and harmony. Contemporary representations of the medicine wheel emphasize the quest for harmony and balance, both within ourselves and with all communities and creatures on earth. The wheel also symbolizes a graphic reminder that change is inevitable, that development is a life process, and completing a circle of wholeness is a goal worthy of our attention. It seemed to be an answer to the many prayers and intentions that I had painted onto this canvas, for myself and for our community. And then the shape of the Madonna wanted to appear. I saw her image filling the circle and began to make the sacred marks that would bring her into presence. I’ve painted faces over the past few years, learning to shape the nose, brows, lips, neck, hair, and eyes, and her lines began to take form. More than that, her expression began to develop as I worked. It was a surprise and I was curious as the color and lines revealed her presence. The medicine wheel became a circle of light illuminating her from behind. Her spirit became more apparent as I progressed and she began to come to life. I typically don’t paint images in a realistic way, my interpretations tend to be more abstract and symbolic. But she wanted her expression to represent the sadness, the pain the Charlottesville community experienced in August of 2017 and the aftermath of changes that followed.
She wanted to be a composite of color and light, symbolic of diversity and connection. A blue eyed woman of color. My intention was to be mindful of the strength she embodied, her vulnerability in this madness, and the pain that has continued to divide people from fear, long held beliefs, and the misuse of power, trust, loyalty, sincerity, wisdom, confidence, stability, faith, heaven, and intelligence. She was making her presence and intent in protecting the people Charlottesville with wisdom and loyalty in response to the negative media surrounding the events that happened. Her message was also telling me that she wanted to hold all the people, ones were injured, as well as ones who spread violence and separation, those who were harmed, the ones who stayed home, and especially, the woman and men who died. And I listened to her voice, painted all who came, with differing intentions, who she holds in her embrace.
This process has motivated me to use my art for social justice and positive activism. In addition, I am very honored and humbled to have Marianne Williamson share my painting, Black Madonna of Charlottesville, on Instagram!
Hobby Parent is an artist, Intentional Creativity Coach and Teacher. She lives and works in her home & studio West of Charlottesville, Virginia, in view of her beloved Blue Ridge Mountains, enjoying nature and its vast sources of artistic inspiration. She works in acrylics, watercolor and mixed media, as well as graphic design. She began painting, drawing and illustrating in high school, although she has been an artist for as long as she can remember.
Most of my Red Thread Cafe times with my Muse and my husband Jonathan for the past few months have been focusing on this one topic, the Critic and the Muse. The riddles, the science, what others have taught about it, why it is so compelling, why more change isn’t happening and really asking myself deep questions about it in relationship to my work. Because if we can’t get access to the critic, it is very challenging to hear our true inner voice.
I keep thinking I have a solution, but in truth that solution takes time, because it requires rewiring the brain. But I am going to give it a try.
For most of my adult life, I have been working with women and the exploration of their self expression. I have gained insight and understanding into the actual ‘function’ of how we speak to ourselves through witnessing thousands in their creative process, and trying out new ideas.
Through the years and the research I have arrived at some pretty interesting conclusions. And many of them are not what is widely taught about how the critic works. Because to understand and transform how it works, you need to dive into a bit of brain science and come eye to eye with the dominatrix of the prefrontal cortex.
The transformation self help culture we live in today is rich with many potent teachings that have guided us along our path regarding finding our true voice, living out our authentic self, and even the expression of the soul. You may discover one thing is working for a while and then find yourself seeking another solution. We can be impulsive transformation addicts looking for a fix. I am no exception. Yet there is one thing that ROCKED my world and changed everything, and it was very surprising! I will share some of that with you here.
I am not a fan of speaking to the pain point to make a point. Yet for the sake of this particular conversation, articulating the phenomena could be helpful. It is in NOT being able to see our default settings, programmed into the brain, that can make it so harmful. We begin with getting it conscious. Let’s take a look.
Self confidence and self doubt continue to plague us even after an awakening! Many of us, even after we come to terms with our life as it is, still secretly nurse ideas of our version of having it all. We are sold the idea that we can have it all and if we aren’t experiencing that, something must be wrong with us. And so begins the endless loop of self-doubt and criticism which infects every single relationship we have.
We may find ourselves wondering – Where is the pot of gold, the dream life, the perfect mate, the fountain of youth, the treasure chest, or even the magic bullet to stop all the bad thoughts? What is wrong with me that I don’t have it? And in the same moment, feeling like we don’t deserve it, aren’t worthy or are too ashamed to reach. This isn’t a new monologue and you aren’t alone. Yet the paradox of ‘wanting’ coupled with feeling ‘not worthy of having’ facilitates a life culture of disillusionment and dissatisfaction. We try to convince ourselves why we should be so grateful, and we are, so what’s up?
All of our relationships with every area of our life, love, money, family, work are impacted by HOW WE SPEAK TO OURSELVES and HOW WE SEE OURSELVES. When this one essential relationship is healed, everything else is informed. Who is speaking to you, from within you and how? You already know this. I am talking about your relationship to your ‘hidden inner self’. I call it hidden for an obvious reason, in that you can’t really ‘see’ this self and to make matters more challenging, most of us can’t ‘hear’ this self. Does it even exist?
“The day is coming when I fly off
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes?
What is the soul?”
Without our inner voice and vision being aligned, much of the transformation work doesn’t even make sense for long lasting integrated change. Without this sacred partnership as the framework for curating your future, your story keeps reverting to an earlier default setting. Now you would think once you know about this self and begin to listen to it, that everything would be different, and perhaps for a while it is different. But something still isn’t working quite right. No matter how many times you do your affirmations, try to meditate, get on the mat to stretch and be kind to your neighbors, you find yourself being mean to yourself in the same old ways, with the same old stories and limiting beliefs. Now you can hear your critic even louder since you are listening to your inner space – and could it be that the critic has even upped his/her game? Yes, the ‘critic’ is highly intelligent.
So what’s going on? So why isn’t it working? How does it work? Is there a method of approaching how to deepen this relationship with our inner voice that is more consistent? This is what we are going to explore in our upcoming mini-workshop: Seduce Your Muse and Tame Your Inner Critic, but let’s explore a little more now.
The dominant culture enforces a paradigm of ‘head’ and ‘thinking’ so much so, that most of us think that is where we live and have our identity. The rebels, revolutionaries, and dissidents like us have stepped out of that constraint, we know we are more than we appear. With the developments of quantum physics, consciousness and neuroscience, we are getting closer. We have moved out of just thinking we are a mind and body. But there is more, so much more, that seems to remain just out of reach. We hear something, often a cry for help from deep within, but we don’t know how to truly answer with our whole life. How do you get IN to find out? This is where Intentional Creativity comes in and where metacognitive drawing is one of the ways we can retrain our brains in relationship to how we speak to ourselves.
Clearly each person must discover this access to the voice and vision of the soul for themselves. No one else can really teach it or grant us access. Yet. There is a first step that can be revealed. A clear first step that in my 25 years of teaching has made the most difference in the lives of those I serve. So obvious and yet so hidden, it is almost like a riddle to solve. You can learn more about it in the free mini-workshop, as well as in my upcoming 7 week online class, The Dance of the Critic and the Muse. I will also be sharing more about the neuroscience aspect in the upcoming Red Thread Letters.
I know you have a lot of choices for what you read and how you spend your time. So I just want to say, thank you for taking this time with me. I am honored to be a part of your Red Thread Cafe as we explore this awesome universe within, and all around us.
If you would like to share from my Artist Shiloh Sophia facebook page, you can find my post about it here
I have been working on articulating the inner workings of the soul voice and how it connects with the concepts of the critic and the muse for so many years, this is the first time I will be sharing it outside of the Color of Woman Teacher Training.
Seduce the Muse and Tame Your Inner Critic Mini-Workshop
Join me on Saturday, January 26
During our time together you will discover
How the inner critic has been with you since childhood and why most of your attempts to break free are doomed to fail
A powerful tool you can use to seduce your critic into being your ally
Where the Muse hides — and how to invite her out
How to listen to the Muse and hear what she’s been wanting to tell you
Experiential practices to awaken your self-expression
How unleashing your creativity can help you rewire your brain
A 7 Week Step Initiation Into the Voice and Vision of Your Soul
Coming Soon! Registration isn’t open quite yet! I have a 7 Week online class coming up called The Dance of the Critic and the Muse, and guess what? For once it isn’t painting, I am working with pen and paper! We will be experiencing and illustrating 7 gates of initiation. This isn’t about talent with drawing, but we will be moving the pen with what I call ‘metacognitive drawing’. I have been working on this class for months, but really my whole life! This technology is sacred to me because it impacts all of our lives in such deeply profound ways – and it is truly time to transcend the constraints of that critic and fall in love with the muse!
I am collaborating with a local yet global education and evolution community, the Shift Network to bring this message to our mutual communities. They are located in Petaluma and many of my friends past and present are on that team there. I was delighted to be invited and to share quantum space with this spicy topic.
Save the date and we will follow up with registration!
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any ~ Alice Walker
This Red Thread Letter shares my thoughts about this topic, drawn from 25 years of working with women and children in the domain of creativity. My intention in sharing it is to provide a context for ‘viewing’ recovery through the awareness of how abuse impacts psychic, spiritual, and physical structures.
I created these images to accompany this writing exploring these ideas.
Architecture of our Psyche in Abuse and Recovery
When we are hurt
our natural patterns are interrupted.
The shapes we make
with our mind, body and field
can become dented and fragmented.
We are not as we were before.
This is the same for any kind of transformation,
we are different than we were before.
How do we work with, the new shapes,
if we have very little knowledge of
how to work with them, and what is,
the shape of a being?
the original shapes of wholeness,
are there in our energetic patterns.
We can choose to return to them with awareness,
yet knowing, that we will never be,
quite the same shape.
The shape that has been impacted,
creates a new shape of being,
that in time, we can work with, heal,
and be informed about and by.
Synthesis can happen when all or most
aspects of being are communicating.
When we are hurt, lines of communication
between systems are often interrupted.
Signals and messages from within
can become scrambled.
The internal narrator turns fierce.
Innocence is impacted and we can lose
ourselves somewhere along the way.
The self we may lose
is the part of us who knows how to
navigate our psyche.
Who has some co-creative capacity
with organizing consciousness.
The loss of that capacity
can be devastating, and feel like
a loss of soul.
This scattering of how we were once
knit together, now impacted by trauma
fractures and spreads throughout our entire being.
Mostly in ways we have little consciousness about,
or capacity to influence at the time.
Most of us do not know enough
about how trauma is going to impact us,
to take action before the
damage gets worse, as it is happening,
or right after, or even years later.
Imagine something like this…
A mosaic of stories, no longer whole,
shards that puncture our animating personae,
our potentials appear limited, wing clipped.
Arrows that seem to come from nowhere
enter and impact the architecture of our psyche.
Our physical symptoms amplify,
coding stories into impressionable cells.
Yet we know, we can bring alchemy
to catalyze the wound, but how.
We need know how.
Whether the trauma was physical to the body,
trauma makes it physical to the body and the field.
Imagine that we are a body within a soul,
and that our field is the interactive domain
connecting all of who we are,
a network of interconnected
lights, ideas, structures, stories, synapses
and so much more than we know.
Precious, gorgeous, unique structures
that house us, keeping us within the realm
of gravity for this earth experience.
What a journey?!
This fracturing populates our entire identity,
the space in which we have our being
is impacted on all levels, good, bad or otherwise,
‘impact’, force of any kind
changes how we are living in these structures.
Structures meaning both physical and energetic.
Recovery for many of us can be
challenging as we work on one part,
then the next, having to piece together
the seemingly separate pieces of healing.
We go to many different healers,
We go “Here for mind, here for body,
here for energy” then we have to weave
the braid ourselves, and often, we do.
Many healers do integrate the many layers,
and we are blessed if we find them,
when both they, and we are ready for such
an undertaking as the restoration of
the architecture of identity.
The time for new healing paradigms
are already present and we are living
within them now, made possible
by all the healers who have charted
the course to THIS MOMENT.
Let’s look further, in consideration
of the awareness of the architecture.
When the healing strands come,
upon what do they build, or land,
upon what armature are the changes
put in place, to return to and nurture?
So much to ‘hold’ in the mind
as we work to return to a wholeness
we feel was once there, if even
in infancy. How long ago was that
wholeness in place, and how long
before it can begin to make itself
whole again? Maybe now.
What if the rebuilding of
the being must begin with an
awareness of the design of human being?
And must this design be so complex,
or in a spiritual tradition with beliefs
and contracts and vows?
How do we even talk about it?
The design you are, is personal to you.
Though we share many traits that
we can extend to one another in hopes
of one story supporting another.
You are the one who re-members you
into wholeness. Which after being hurt,
is often elusive, perhaps, healed enough
can be enough. Seeking FULL healing,
may be a challenge for most of us,
and we wait and wait and wait
to live our fullness…what if we can be
healed enough? Is that a closer view?
You may not have an image of your
design pre-wounding, this idea may
seem abstract and perhaps even woo woo.
Simply the awareness that you have
a psychic architecture, a physical and energetic
shape that holds your identity, including,
personality, story, consciousness
may be a huge part of initiating
the next level of authoring your healing.
This awareness becomes an invitation
to restoration, to being in inquiry about
what this looks like for you.
The beautiful news here is that
YOU are the one who heals you.
You have already known this,
that there are things only you can do
This isn’t a concept.
Yet without the awareness of
what makes up a person,
it can be challenging to SEE IT.
To deepen this, in our community,
we paint it and draw it
and move our bodies with
the new awareness.
For now this is an invitation
to simply KNOW that your
architecture is there, has memory
of your whole being
and is waiting for your awareness.
Creativity is one of the powerful
ways to consciously and actively
engage with your psychic architecture.
Think of this as the space around you,
which holds you in place,
enclosing your sack of stars
with your skin suit.
When you create, you engage with,
as in, TURN ON the capacity
for co-creation with your
often hidden domains of being.
We are talking directly here,
about curating your own consciousness.
To do this you can’t just think about it,
or vibe into it, you MUST engage
with it, as in moving particles around
to begin to re-arrange how they have
It is time for gathering the shards
to repair the vessel, with our own hands.
By hands, I do mean, HANDS.
Bringing your hands into motion
to reshape how you are living within your being.
Action, physical action, is needed
for healing to begin to happen across all levels.
Imagine lights, that have been out or dim,
beginning to light up inside of your skin and around you
This is very real, biophotons are lighting you up.
I am not a therapist, neither do I identify as a healer…
I am a poet, artist, and I hope, a guide along the path of healing. This is not a textbook teaching or a truth. This is my own experience and drawn from 25 years of working with women and children in the domain of creativity. My intention in sharing it is to provide a context for ‘viewing’ recovery through the awareness of how abuse impacts psychic, spiritual, and physical structures.
I hold the possibility that the infiniteness of soul, somehow, remains whole and holy through all of it, guiding us ever onward to reclaiming our identity as we move on through the slings and arrows of human existence at this time. That said, if we can make contact with that soul space our communication can be more direct, and perhaps the stewarding of our recovery less random.
I am aware that in many cases the scars are quite visible. I am speaking in this context, primarily of what happens when the ‘visible’ impacts are hidden. And how that which is seemingly hidden from view impacts us. Yet the wound remains as large and real for us as if it is an open wound. It can be difficult, when we, and others, cannot see it – really ‘see it.’ We often question our own experience of it. Perhaps you have had this experience? Did it really happen?
I am using poetic linguistic frames – concepts that help us speak about things that are often either too abstract or intellectual to grasp in common dialogue. The articulation of which allows us to look at certain aspects as separate in order to bring them back together.
By psyche I mean the entire whole and consciousness of the being.
By identity I mean the whole being, including the unique animating personality. Yes connected with ancestry, but more than that as well.
By architecture I mean the energetic and physical frames that hold the whole of us in place, in space.
By soul I mean, the being that is infinite, in the mystery, that is you beyond this space and place. Whatever that is, we don’t really know . . . but to explore soul we begin to think about what the soul is for us. I simplify here in an effort to create inquiry around things that are often difficult to talk about. Make suggestions if you choose, and forgive me my errors. I will correct them as we learn more, together.
At one point in my life, I was so hurt. I was in shock for a few years and witnessing the invisible wound that would not heal over. Through ‘watching’ it as the observer, as well as choosing to see the self I knew I was, the healing began. I painted the resolution. I made the marks, so many marks, tears and rips, acknowledging my damaged architecture while holding the awareness of who I held myself out to be.
I saw my mind as a tree of life, with some damaged branches that would bloom one day, if I tended my tree. As I worked through the creativity, more of how it worked from a science and brain perspective came through. Being able to ‘see’ it on the canvas allowed me to remove the arrows at first one by one and then all at once. Between writing and painting, I was able to become ‘current’ with my state of being – psychic, spiritual, and physical – and be present with where I was. It isn’t that the scars aren’t still there; instead, they have become colorful, then moved into the background. To be summoned by choice instead of continually triggered without warning. My resiliency toolbox is filled with Intentional Creativity and overflowing enough to share it with others. Amen to that.
Healing does take time, no matter how present we are. Yes, it was years for some parts, but others healed as soon as I was able to turn my attention towards them in a painting process. My story needed me to see it, not just conceptually but contextually as a part of the whole being that I am. The roots of this work are precisely what informed Color of Woman, our Intentional Creativity Teacher Training, a calling to share with others what I had discovered. In my recovery, there were moments I felt I wouldn’t have to kill myself; I would merely expire from the pain of beauty and innocence lost.
The ‘tree of my consciousness’ was informed by an image from my teacher, Sue Hoya Sellars, in which I ‘saw’ the tree as my mind and I had to heal each branch. First, I named the parts of me that hurt, then the wholeness image began to do the work without a need to articulate every offense. I just had to get myself started, and then the momentum took over. Informed by my mother’s study of the Tree of Life teachings, I ‘knew’ I could lean into the ‘tree of my consciousness’ for support, connected to the earth. I painted and painted.
“For She is a tree of life to those that embrace Her Proverbs.”
Healing through seeing and being. My work with art-making as a form of healing resides in both ‘seeing’ and experience of it through physical ‘being.’ In Intentional Creativity, the shifts happen in the psychic, spiritual, and physical architectures all at once, hence, the capacity for it to be so inclusive, and in some cases, quick too. When we are ready for the next layer of healing, whatever in us that is ready can move (energetically and more) through the act of creating. Creating engages the whole self, and so a focused intent on healing with the action of creativity offers a chance at a new level of awareness about how this all works.
When we are whole and mostly unhurt, our ‘architecture’ is intact and makes specific shapes in our field, body, blood, bone, personae, mind – all the parts that make us up that are visible and invisible. I say, mostly unhurt because many believe just being born can be traumatic.
When we are hurt, the patterns of beauty are interrupted. Our entire being it seems can be dimpled or fragmented or dented. It still knows the original shape of wholeness that connects with our personae, our identity. In Cosmic Cowgirls, the reason we begin with the Legendary Self is to forge the powerful connection with the one who tells the story through activating imagination and animating the one within. Legend emerged WHILE I was going through my recovery, and I might say, saved my life through creating a visionary likeness of myself that I held out – as an image of recovery – and an image of self-celebration. Something to reach towards – yes, with a hat with a rose, and a leopard boa and attitude in my eyelashes (painting: Born This Way).
Our lineage of Intentional Creativity has stories of supporting and mentoring, and of passing on the wisdom we have gained. I hope this has moved you, uplifting the experience of a supportive community, a visible and invisible, architecture of loving.
As we close this cycle for the Colorful Scars experience, I wish to thank each of you for your willingness to risk the work of recovery in a new way. I am so grateful, more than I can ever tell you, for all the stories you have recounted and the acknowledgment that it has, indeed, helped you along your way. Let us continue to gather together in red thread. Protecting those we can, by becoming protectors, and knowing, we too are surrounded by loving others who have done the work before us.
Holding love and support for those impacted by the fires. For now we are safe. Thank you to those who reached out.
Color of Women Teacher Jo Laurie has boldy introduced Intentional Creativity in a training with Early Childhood Educators!
Jo’s workshop took place in Parkes, New South Wales, in the center of Australia. Jo deftly explains how the two worlds of Intentional Creativity and teaching bridge together,”through practicing Intentional Creativity, we gain access to the magic of Mindfulness and Intention for ourselves, and the children we educate.”
Attendees connected through the sharing of a red thread ritual, exploring gratitude and intentions for their individual creative art pieces.
Content for the program included the framework of how left and right brain learnings weave together for greater access to information and understanding. Jo expanded upon this through a guided meditation, inviting the women to envision walking down a path, where they entered a room on the left (brain) with angular shapes etc, and a room on the right(brain) with soft flowing shapes etc, returning along the path of Intentional Creativity – intention, mindfulness, focus, imagination, language, symbol, and creativity.
Jo Laurie is so grateful to be out there doing the dance of Intentional Creativity! Attend a Workshop, Meditation, Women’s Circle or Retreat with Jo or find out more by visiting the Intentional Creativity Teachers site here.
I want to celebrate a few members of our 2018 Intentional Creativity team!
Thank you especially to Tania Magennis for her incredible tending of this environment, truly a blessing! And gratitude for Sarah Mardell, Hobby Parent, Jonathan McCloud from the Intentional Creativity Guild and Foundation (501c3) and Annette Wagner, Tina Greene, Mary MacDonald and Jenafer Owen of Cosmic Cowgirls, LLC. This is the team working with us to curate both this space, our communities and the Red Thread Connect calls.
These projects take considerable investment in time, resources, finances and focus. That we are able to offer these services for no cost to our beloved guests of the Red Thread is an honor and a pleasure. The above list are the people who made it happen this year and who were on staff. 💓 www.redthreadconnect.us
Thank you to every single Intentional Creativity Guild teacher, who once a week volunteered and womaned the Red Thread Cafe classroom to provide encouragement, art doctoring, guidance and support. Their presence is what continues to make this space what it is, and how it feels – even when we aren’t on the page here, we FEEL the reality of the red thread and the connection. And thank you to those of you who volunteered and taught on the Red Thread Connect calls, our 2019 calls are shaping up!
As a community, we offered tens of thousands of scholarships in 2018 in our Intentional Creativity trainings, as well as free offerings to many thousands, many times. We also put close to 100K back into the community through independent work for women entrepreneurs who are part of our IC Guild community.
When you join us for our paid offerings, which many of you have, you contribute to providing work for others, as well as making our free offerings possible. Thank you and yahooooooo to our Intentional Creativity student participants in 2018! At whatever level you played, we are so grateful you ‘love’ this work as much as we do. That you share your time and resources here. We know you have many choices and we are very blessed to share this space with such an incredible circle of women worldwide.
You can find all of your upcoming curriculum for Winter 2019 here www.cosmiccowgirls.com – the next courses starting in January if you want to hop on board are LEGEND: The Cosmic Cowgirls Course and HEART of GOLD : Medicine Wheel of the Madonna and the Quantum Christ. In February we have an in person Apothecary and online Dance of the Critic and the Muse.
A special shout out to Jassy Watson Earthist and Louis Reed with Gisela Pineiro, Jo Laurie and Tania McGinnis for their work with Red Thread and IC in Australia! We were able to visit many of our students there and host incredible programming. I love that they are continuing the work with hosting Color of Women events!
Our other community, Red Madonna, we are so grateful for Havi Brysk Mandell, Kayleen Asbo, Emily Grieves, Susan Daniel, Mary Ann Matthys, Wil Gafney and my mom Caron McCloud – they are blessing the sacred container for our virtual ‘church’ temple.
Big heart shout out to Mary McCrystal who taught the first Red Thread Guide with me – so that other women can learn to curate red thread space as well both online and in person.
And to so many others, of the Intentional Creativity Guild including Jeri, Jennifer Bowers, Nadya King, Sepha Nisbet, Leslie Nolan, Caryn McLaine, Phyllis Anne Taylor, Simone Oliver, Lavender Grace Cinnamon, Elizabeth Gibbons, Trish O’Malley, Jo Laurie, Semerit Strachan, Kerry Lee, Terre Cerridwyn Busse, Tammra Harrison, Sandy Green, and Mandisa Amber for their work on our teams this year.
There are more too! For Amy Ahlers for helping to steward my IC business teachings in Radiance. Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici of Woman Unleashed, and Heidi S. Moondancer of Come to the Fire and Catt Geller of Cosmic Smashbooking for their incredible work with culture and inspiration of Intentional Creativity to tens of thousands of women! This is good work, aren’t we so luck to have found one another on the red thread?
I also want to say a big YAHOO to Jessica Enevold Duncan, Kate Langlois, Grace Steenberg, Ilona Lantos, Asia Morgenthaler, Gisela Pineiro, Evelyne Verret, Uma Mulnick and Emily Grieves for launching their first online courses with the guidance of Jenafer Owen and Giddy Up, her class for Color of Woman Grads to bring their work into the world!
And always to Carmen Baraka, our Native teacher and elder who leads our community in ceremony with Buffalo Woman, Denise. We are so blessed to be in your company.
To my incredible husband and best friend, Jonathan McCloud – who rocks my world in all ways, always, who surprises me all the time with his intelligence, playfulness, bravery, love, innovation and feeds me so well!!!
There are many many more hands that go into the work of Intentional Creativity. I just wanted to honor these ones this year, for their love, devotion, patience, presence and especially their teachings.
And finally. To the women who made this possible.
Caron McCloud, my mother who taught me that creativity was essential and that I mattered, Eden McCloud, my grandmother who taught me creative writing and sewing and inspired us all with her art and innovation, Lenore Thomas Straus, Sue’s teacher, sculptor, poet, wood carver, illustrator, and Sue Hoya Sellars, Painter, this is our lineage of Intentional Creativity.
This is a beautiful and powerful culture of creativity.
I wish to personally thank the Great Lady, who guides me in all that I do.
Thank you for reading and in so doing, taking the time to acknowledge the team with me. Sending you gratitude and blessings at the turning of the seasons and the year…
Signed with the light of the full moon, red paint and a red thread,