“A sacred illness is one that educates us and alters us from the inside out, provides experiences and therefore knowledge that we could not possibly achieve in any other way.”
In early January of this year, I got a notice that the amazing artist and teacher Jeanne Bessette (http://www.bessetteart.com) would be teaching a 5-day art class in Sedona, Arizona in September. I remember laying in bed, which was where I was still spending about half of my time, thinking what a great opportunity this was. Jeanne lives in North Carolina, and as far as I knew, had never come to AZ.
As I continued to read the details about this “Soul of the Artist” class , I felt this rush of excitement, and an absolute and resounding “yes!” in every cell of my body. You know. One of those times when all logic goes out the window, only pure heart energy takes over, and there’s nothing to do but hang on for the ride. It’s quite exhilarating, and at the same time, scary as hell!
Before I really knew what was happening, I electronically plunked down my $250 non-refundable deposit and somehow trusted that in 8 months I would be well enough to attend and participate in the class. You’d think there wouldn’t be any doubt that it would be enough time, but after 4 years of this chronic illness, I’d become leary of banking on any kind of steady improvement.
As the months clicked by, I moved between “how awesome is this” and “what the hell was I thinking” many, many times. I even emailed Jeanne to make sure it would be workable if I still needed to take my daily 2-hour afternoon nap. She kindly reassured me that she would make sure I didn’t miss anything big. Luckily, to my amazement, my energy steadily improved, and on September 18th I happily and nervously drove myself to the magical land of Sedona.
Funny things happen when you say “YES” to your own heart strings. Like:
- you get a partial view of the gorgeous Sedona red rocks from your “basic” hotel room.
- you find a comfy couch, perfect for napping, in the room next to the art studio.
- you put your well being first and find out that really cool people still value you.
- you begin feeling surges of energy you haven’t felt in years.
- you begin embracing a part of yourself that has needed attention for as long as you can remember.
- you begin to feel a strong connection to something greater, something grander, something magical, and can’t believe how happy it makes you.
- upon returning home, you are greeted with many kisses and a giant bouquet of sunflowers.
I always doubted the reality of Sedona being a place of energy vortexes, strong spiritual energies, and healing. It just sounded too good to be true, and more a creation of good marketing than actual facts. Oh, how wrong I was.
It’s not that I’d never experienced the natural beauty of “Red Rock Land”, but for the first time, with support and love from the wise and transformational Jeanne Bessette, I was encouraged to be “in relationship” with it. And it changed everything.
I’m still in process with the whole experience, and it hasn’t been all flowers and puppy dog tails to say the least. But not many things in this life are. I’m still working on being okay with that. In the mean time I will keep loving myself, fighting off shame when it sneaks in while I’m not looking, harvesting priceless energy that has been locked inside unprocessed and unloved anger, and painting like my life depends on it. Because I’m pretty sure it does.
Pay attention to your heart strings, dear friends. They will never lead you astray. Promise.
take the risk.
let yOurself be mOved.
it’s wOrth it!
For most of April and May, as my energy permitted, I was slowly packing up our home, one drawer, one closet, one cabinet at a time. During the last week of May, my husband moved every box, bag and piece of furniture into either our garage or to a generous neighbors garage. We then moved ourselves and our essentials into our close friends house, just a block away, to stay for the next 2 months.
Major 8-week remodel here we come!!
We have lived in our beautiful condo full time for 2 1/2 years – the same amount of time that I have been dealing with Valley Fever. It has been a place of cOmfOrt, lOve and recOvery, and I’ve been grateful every day that we live in such a beautiful place.
Even though we would like a little bit more space (especially for my ever growing art studio needs : ) we love our location, so we decided to stay and do a few upgrades. Seriously, could we really leave our birds eye view of our beautiful fountain? I don’t think so❤️‼️
This major type of remodel (taking down walls, building showers, building a new kitchen, replacing all flooring, and painting almost every surface) is new to me. The closest I have come to this size of a job is watching the Property Brothers on the HGTV channel, and it’s easy to say – I am nO expert! Luckily my husband and our contractor, Tony, are!
The planning and decision making has been fun, challenging and eye-opening. It helped to have Tom Olson, a renowned architect who studied and worked directly with Frank Lloyd Wright, and a highly gifted designer and textile artist, Merle Sykora, walking us through the process. (They are the team that designed and built the house we lived in for 24 years in Minnesota!)
Needless to say, packing and moving was just downright stressful. John had to “pull me off the ledge” a few times, and as my therapist said, “You get 10 extra crazy points during a remodel.” Talk about having to practice letting go of the outcome!
I thought the stress level would just continue to increase as the work began. My mind was working overtime scaring me with thoughts like – “What horrible things are we going to find? What if the existing structure isn’t sound? What if we find bugs and rats and rot, Oh my!?” (Yes, I have earned every one of those extra crazy points!)
Surprisingly, instead of feeling more anxious and stressed out, I am actually enjoying the demolition process. I’m loving seeing our space “stripped down to the studs.” There is something refreshing and comforting to see what is underneath – to see what the foundation is made of – to see the possibilities. I even got to briefly swing a hammer and knock a towel bar off the wall! Thank you, Tony!
After one week of demOlitiOn, the place looks like this:
There is something very familiar and inspiring about this process. It reminds me why I have been dedicated to uncovering, recovering, and healing old beliefs and wounds for most of my adult life. Why would I want to try and build a healthier, stronger “sOul hOuse” on top of a structure that is rotting, infested or outdated? The answer is, I wouldn’t! As hard as it is to see the truth sometimes, it is the only way to a healthier, happier and more creative life.
So, it is refreshing to see the places where our home is strong, and where it is weak. Once it is seen it can fixed, enhanced and made new! This has brought me a level of comfort I wasn’t even aware that I was needing, and encourages me to continue doing my work of healing and recovery. It may not be pretty, but it is worth it!
Is this a man who looks like he knows what he’s doing? Absolutely! If you are in need of a great contractor, Tony Timonte can be found HERE!
I am excited to see the outcome of our remodeling project, but no longer want to hurry through the demOlitiOn process. I’m continuing to learn the value of each small step and the importance of trusting myself to make good decisions with the help from a hand-picked team of experts – for home remodeling and my health!
More updates next month! Until then,
Be gentle. Be brave. Be true.
“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.”
– Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
On August 6, 2013, I began a 6-week online e-course titled Soul Restoration, offered by Brave Girls Club . The two beautiful and amazing sisters, Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins, who founded the club, are on a mission to encourage, connect and remind all of us to live big, brave beautiful lives. It is way worth it to check them out!
As I continue to s-l-O-w-l-y recover from Valley Fever, I am gaining a new perspective on what the last year-a-half has taught me. As of today, among other things, I have learned:
- hOw to let go (well, at least to let go sooner than I normally would)
- the true meaning of the wOrds “self-care”
- slOwing dOwn and getting quiet really dOes prOvide the space necessary to hear the wisdOm Of yOur sOul
- tO knOw in my bOnes that I am enOugh
- that the universe has really been talking to me thru my art
- and, tO trust myself and knOw that I am nOt alOne.
The Other thing that this dOwn time has taught me, is that my life is preciOus. And that it is sOlely my respOnsibility tO be living the life of my dreams. nO One else knOws what is in the depths of my sOul, and if I’m nOt dedicated tO the expressiOn Of my life, then it’s all On me. I am sOlely respOnsible for the care of my life and sOul. A bit daunting, yes, but quite exciting, tOO!
I’ve alsO learned that I get tO have help, but I am the Only One that can champiOn “the herO in my sOul” and take that mOst impOrtant step tOwards my heart, and not away frOm it.
So frOm here On Out (yes, I mean the BIG Out!), I am fully committed tO the full expressiOn Of my life. This may be my Only shOt, and time is shOrt. sO whether I’m “making gOOd art”, hanging with my husband, cOnnecting with family, having cOffee with friends, napping : ), sitting in meditatiOn, or enjOying a beautiful gOlf cOurse, I will bring my whOle heart and sOul with me. dOn’t yOu think it’s abOut time?
I am grateful to the wisdom of Valley Fever, the love of my family and friends, my health care team, and all the Brave Girls out there walking this “road-less-traveled”. That is what makes this all possible and worthwhile.
turn tOwards yOur heart, find yOur truth, knOw you are wOrth it!
P.S. One mOre thank yOu tO my friends at Starbucks!