Dream Awake

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This is the picture of my dream-awake catcher.  Initially it was my house catcher, as I had used it to catch a new house we bought a little over a year ago.  Now I am using it to catch new work and/or bring creative ideas into fruition.  I have re-named it my dream-awake catcher, and plan to use it as often as I need throughout my life.

I made the dream-awake catcher from branches from a large shrub I took out of the front yard of our old house.  This was a few years ago.  As I was cutting the branches off the shrub I felt and heard a strong message that I must keep the branches.  So I did.  Some of the branches went to make this Gods-Eye that represents my ability to have second sight.  Later, the branches made the house catcher.  Now they are to catch new livelihood.

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I wrote down my desires for change, as specific as I could be.  Then I buried this paper in the Earth beneath the catcher, which lives in my meditation garden.

I gave the ritual to the Dreamer-Weaver Goddess, also known as Grandmother Spider in Native American culture.  What I wish to weave is the story of my own contentment and happiness, through creating new livelihood.  I also wish to weave my writing further into the world (more to come on that one).

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I find the Earth so incredibly powerful, its sheer benevolent energy so wanting to help someone who wishes to connect.  No matter how much I vacillate between tapping in more fully and running away, I am always present with this energy, always plugged in.  Even in the hour of greatest challenge it is continuing to shape and mold my outcome towards what is brightest.  This is what keeps me grounded in knowing that even if I fall, someone will be there to catch me.

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

Desires and Hopes

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One of the biggest challenges I face presently is balancing the needs of each of my children, alongside my husband, my job, my blog and my sanity.  I feel a bit fearful when I think about it, as I feel depleted by my job, leaving little energy left over.  But I am highly committed to both my boys and need to give them all I got.  My older ADHD+NVLD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder+Non-Verbal Learning disorder) son needs me as both advocate and guide, as he navigates what are sometimes challenging social situations (this has improved incredibly).  He needs me to be patient and compassionate as he struggles to control his body and language (again, so much improvement).  My younger son also needs me as advocate and guide, as he is a child who learns differently at school.  He needs me to be patient and compassionate as he manages having intense anger at the age of 8 years.

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There are a lot of appointments going around.  But this is how it is.

I want to stay grounded and give to myself as much as I can.  I’m going to take more days to myself this year.  I’m going to do things like go to Hot Springs Places or go for a hike with my husband while we both play hookie.  I’m going to take the time to sit in stillness, to let the Goddess/Spirit flow through my veins.  I’m also letting my addictions rage a bit, recognizing that they’re a bit helpful right now, and I don’t have the energy to make a change anyway.  I’m going to make this next year of job creation active and alive.  This might involve some ass kicking, as I can let myself take forever to get crap done!  I promise to myself to keep at least one foot moving swiftly.

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I have just started seeing a therapist and it feels really good.  How all the myriad of weekly mom/kid appointments will affect me will soon be known.  Next week my older son starts school and my younger son begins play therapy, an official start to the fast pace that will be my life for the next several months.  Wish me well.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

August Flower Bowl/Here

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 (dahlia, pansy, dianthus, heliotrope, wallflower, snapdragon, viola, scabiosa, peppermint, spearmint)

Ok, so I am here.  Here is a place I hate to be.  It’s a place of burn-out, of fatigue, of extreme sensory sensitivity.  Traffic noises that did not bother me a year ago when we bought our beautiful home are now driving me crazy.  I am completely burnt out with my job and know that needs to change.  I have wild fears around that, as I barely manage and have no commute and my summers off.

This reminds me completely of an earlier time in my life, when I was also going through a different spiritual crisis that left me tortured by noise.  And there was more noise, as we were living in apartments.  We moved 4 times in 3 years, until finally I found some peace in a small rental house.  I was also delving deep, doing intense therapy and drawing tarot cards, asking myself “why” I was so noise sensitive.  Eventually it became clear:  I sat down and wrote my parents a letter addressing all my unresolved issues with them.  In addition, I also went back to a time in my life when I was an adolescent and in love with the family next door.  They were a close, loving family, who were practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses.  For a spiritual, love hungry junkie like me I was fixed, and over time I adopted their religion.  When my parent’s found out many years later the sit hit the fan.  I was forbidden to go next door and we moved within a year.

This was brought into my awareness by my then student husband who was taking a radio broadcast class and wanted to tell my story on the air.  So I did.  My husband narrated the piece, with live clips of me talking about my experience.  We used pseudonyms.  I was nervous, but it was very healing.

What happened with my parents and the letter was not so healing.  My mother cried and ranted, although in the end said she loved me.  My father pulled away from me completely, as I said some pretty damning things.  This lasted for a few months, until I conceived my older son.  My father loves his grandchildren almost more than his own.  It was the bridge that brought us back together.

So what is the connection?  What am I to gain from knowing that I felt compelled to tell this story of my past?  For it rumbles within my present.  What I went through before was something I called “soul work.”  (A whole other story itself).  I sense deep down I am being called to this again, to soul work.

I have been through this before, and know the gig.  The only way out is through the shadows, into what is most challenging on a soul level.  Now I know why the butterfly appeared 2 years ago; I am finally ready for metamorphosis.

I know I will need to find stillness within myself, which will involve hard choices.  Not something I did so well back then, which is intimidating.  But as my Shaman tells me, “You are stronger than you think.”  I can only hope that in the act of reinventing myself, my senses calm.

Not sure what happens next, but I do know is this:  I must continue to lie on the Earth, to allow her strength to both nourish and relive me.  I have been doing this in the backyard, under a passion-flower vine.  Although my back-yard is loud (quite a quandary for me, as this is where my garden is, and I am an Earth Keeper) that is where the sweet spot is.  May I find peace soon :)

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By:  Diana Ray

The Funnel

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Feeling really, really shaky.  After a few weeks of finding and settling into my inner light, I am back on the roller coaster of intense anxiety.  It’s such a disappointment to be here so soon, although I am not surprised.  After almost 15 years at the same job, I am aware that I am miserable and that something needs to shift.  This feels scary, and I recognize I have not had to contend with this before.  The misery is starting to wrap itself around my brain and body, leaving me with issues such as chronic stomach pain (going on 7 days now) and noise sensitivity.  It feels like a big black hole that wants to suck me in…

Except it can’t.  I won’t let it.  I remember so vividly about 4 weeks ago feeling completely depressed, feeling like that too wanted to chew me up and spit me out.  Yet so much powerful medicine blew into my life the moment I wrote that post, that those feelings became completely transmuted one week later.  And while my present feelings are different (nervous anxiety vs. heavy depression), the process is the same.  There is something going on in my life that is out of balance.  It reverberates through both my physical and spiritual body leaving me feeling ill, upset and like nothing is manageable.  This is where it is really important not to wallow, to remember that this too, is medicine.  What would be the antidote to this situation?  Finding a job that I find meaningful and fulfilling.  How do I accomplish this?  By pooling together the magic I know I have within me, the magic that lies in Mother Earth, and turning myself over to this energy.  This will involve me physically looking for another job.  But it will also involve me finding strength and empowerment as I go through this process, which will inevitably be stressful.  I must believe that where I stand, in the fire of this discomfort, is part of the journey to fulfillment.  My body and spirit are ready for more, evident by the retching they are doing in response to my current situation.  Space is opening, despite my constriction….

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So I begin here.  First thing is going to be focusing on my health.  Clearing up my GI issues and getting back on track to good sleep must come first.  Soon I’m going to cast a spell to bring health and wellness into my life.  Then I am going to get some herbs for my stomach.  After this the work becomes more nebulous.  Working with the new/full moon, creating a job catcher (I had a house catcher when we were finding a new home), making offerings to the Earth, creating affirmations, visualizing fully how I want to feel at my work, and of course, asking for prosperity as I am half of my households’ income.

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I must connect with the medicine that is inherent in this process.  Struggle always contains medicine, most often the exact medicine required to transmute the struggle itself.  I made a vow to be a spiritual warrior, to not collapse or be a victim of life’s endless challenges.  I have found the light within myself, and I have connected to this feeling.  I refuse to let it go.

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray 

Sitting In The Fire

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Sitting in the fire, this is the theme that has been on my mind for weeks.  It began with a desire to write a post about how to attend to depression and anxiety using a variety of alternative methods I had been exploring.  This was when I still felt like I was gasping for air as I sat within the smoky flames of extreme, anxious emotion.  I was relying on so much to help me breathe; crystals, essential oil, soothing music, meditation.  It felt like a long, unending uphill hike with a summit I could not see.

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Now I know that I can move around the flames, allowing the air that feeds the fire to feed me as well.  Discomfort is still present, rising and falling like the flames themselves, changing form as they are fed through my very own breath.  Can I sit within the fire of this discomfort, knowing that at any given moment it may intensity and become a large, roaring inferno?  After 8 weeks off, soon I will return to work.  After 8 weeks off, my 2 challenging boys will return to school.  The demands will be great and the stress high. I know this!  Yet I wish to soften it, breathe into it, let the fire that has felt suffocating become a source of primal energy and empowerment.  Fire can be many things; it can end life and give it fuel to grow.  It can destroy quickly and also restore vital energy through the heat that matches our own internal body signatures.  What is left after fire is ash, recognized as protection in many shamanic and magical circles of life.  I must sit in the fire of my discomfort and find nourishing, life-giving air.  I must let the heat fuel me vs. run screaming in pain.  I must find coherency as my body becomes attuned to the heat, becoming one with it, allowing the crystals of alignment within me to grow as flame grows with breath.  I cannot just wish this.  I must be this.

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I have moved away from feeling victimized by this body and the emotions that have often left me feeling helpless and unable to cope, yet this is recent and I have not gone far.  It feels terrifying as I walk head on into the flames that have once devoured me.  Yet it is Persephone who goes down to the flames of the underworld each year, only to reemerge as Spring Herself, full of budding life and growth.  I must have faith that as I consciously choose to sit within the heat of discomfort, that I will melt, change and transform.  Let all that has not served burn away.  Let the alchemy of fire change what has once been hard and painful, to soft, liquid Source.  Let the heat become the medium that transmutes myself from caterpillar to the great winged butterfly that flew inside my soul some time ago, waiting to be birthed.  May I stand within the flames that are my life with vigor, no matter the heat.  May I be the Phoenix rising.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Spiritual Express

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I received such an outpouring of love from so many beautiful souls with my last post (http://runninginwater.com/2014/07/22/love-letter/).  It made me realize how incredibly healing it is to express my complete essence and have it witnessed and mirrored by others.  I have experienced such an alchemical week.  It was only last Monday that I sat down and wrote my love letter, the conscious decision to walk toward the light vs. collapse into darkness.  Since then I have had a major shift with how I think and view myself.  It began as a string of events which I will share with you now.

The day after I wrote the love letter, I sat with my Shamanic teacher and shared with her my feelings.  She insisted we journey together, so I laid myself down on the sofa with music and headset, pressed play on a 10 minute drumming session, and closed my eyes.  The question suggested by my teacher was about the darkness and why it was there.

Immediately I saw myself in tribal wear, standing on the backs of crocodiles as we rode down the river.  A long line of these ancient, reptile creatures extended both in front and behind me as we flowed in rhythm to the moving water.  I felt strong and powerful as I stood tall, a staff in my left hand standing at my side.  I felt incredibly empowered, a feeling I had not experienced in a long time.

I sat with this experience for the next 2 days, not fully understanding.  I received an anointing (an ancient practice of using essential oils, crystals and tuning forks to move energy) from a priestess sister and afterward sat with the sister who had worked on my body.  As she talked my journey suddenly became clear, as if someone was narrating words to a short video.  She told me to wear my depression and intense feelings like a badge of armor, something to own and find power in.  As she talked I felt the empowerment rush in, that feeling of standing tall on the backs of crocodiles as we rode down the river.  I suddenly knew that I could handle all of it, the intensity of the ride in this human body, the depression, the anger, the anxiety.  I was not a victim.  I could do it.

The next day I set aside time to meditate and made a sand-painting, something I had been desiring to create.  Here is a picture:

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Like the journey, the sand painting is making itself known in bits and pieces.  There is a central vertical line running from top to bottom that has direct meaning for me:  the red rock on the bottom center is tiger iron, charged by an ascended master.*  It represents the first 3 chakras, those that need the most healing in my body.   Above that is my butterfly of transformation and above that my favorite crystal, pink quartz.  Pink quartz is special to me, as it represents the giver and receiver of unconditional love, something I am working on in this life time.  Above this is a rock that was a gift from my husband, a being I love deeply and want to deepen with.  The rest makes a beautiful design that is ultimately crowned by a dolphin and sea shells.  I saw dolphins yesterday at the beach and was overcome with tearful beauty.  It pierced my heart as it washed through me.

The next day I sat in ceremony with the Wise Woman/Crone.  Her message is one of letting go, of becoming a witness to one’s own ego.  It is a lesson in impartiality, as the Wise Woman/Crone does not get triggered by life’s many difficulties.  She knows that life is going to happen anyway so you might as well take it with grace and a sense of humor.   Today has been a day of high anxiety.  I sat down to meditate with Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion, yet it was not She who heeded my call.  It was the Wise Woman/Crone who appeared, helping me dissolve my feelings of stress as her relaxed demeanor became liquid running through my veins.  It was She who helped me get through the day.

I am a spiritual warrior.  I live with depression, addiction and find parenting more challenging than I ever could have imagined (http://runninginwater.com/2012/08/11/my-story/ ; http://runninginwater.com/2012/11/18/my-storymy-other-son/).  Like many, I have a wounded past and have stood outside my life for most of my existence.  My quest this year has been one of total integration, of finding authentic presence.

I am going to continue to ride crocodiles down the river.  To call in the Wise Woman when I feel myself falter.  To pave this spiritual path I walk with my own footprints, no matter how frantic or angry or depressed are my steps.  I am going to continue to share my experience with others, for my life to become the mirror of oneness that binds us all as soul brothers and sisters.  I beckon you, walk with me.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

*For info on charged tiger iron and the ascended master, go to : http:// tdjacobs.com