SoulCollage Inspiration

By Anne Marie Bennett

Wisdom from My Death Card

scdeathI am serious.

I know you love the idea of calling me “Sister Death” as did St. Francis of Assissi, but I have come to you on this collage as male. Please call me Brother Death. Since you have two big brothers and no sisters, perhaps Brother Death will suit you better.

My message for you today is this: immerse yourself in all the colors- literal and metaphorical- of Life. That is the only way for you to be ready to take my hand as you take your last breath.

I stand before you, ancient as Time, against a backdrop of feathers of the angels. We are all supporting you and offering you gentle reminders and support. Listen closely, you will hear us whispering.

But remember, I am the Serious One. This is no joke. Death is no joke. I am the Great Interrupter and I spare no one. Let this be consolation to you, and let this be the impetus that keeps you awake.

Fearless

Fearless (Committee Suit): You need more confidence. You need less worry and fear.

I am the one who runs quickly forward without any fear.

I am the one who is strong and might and resilient.

I am the one who faces life in a forward motion courageously because I know that I am strong and resilient. I also know that I am safe and protected.

I am the one who takes big steps when I need to take big steps.

My message for you today is this- you have been fearless in so many things on your journey- facing difficult stepchildren, keeping your marriage going, your parents’ deaths, cancer, the deaths of your beloved felines, writing and publishing fiction, starting a business . . .

Now it is time to be fearless in claiming time for yourself for rest and renewal and softening and self-connection. This is a different kind of fearlessness, a different kind of courage, but still. . . It is time to active my energy more and more.

11 Card Draw- More and Less

I did this free-flow reading as a way to ease into the New Year, but you can use it any time to bring clarity and focus to your life.

I drew 11 cards randomly from my deck (without peeking!) and placed them, face down, in a stack on my desk.

Then I turned over each card, one at a time,
and asked it “What do I need more of?” and “What do I need less of?”

NOTE: When the reading is complete, it is very important to read over all of the wisdom and see if you notice any patterns,
then choose ONE “more” and ONE “less” to take action on right now, today, this week, this month.

Here are the cards that showed up for me and the wisdom they gave me:

4th Chakra- Cat:
You need more of a soft heart. You need less thoughts in your head.
Lonely (Committee Suit): You need more connections with others. You need less buying into old stories about loneliness.
scchakra7
Crown Chakra Sister (Companions Suit): You need more connection with Spirit. You need less thoughts in your head.
scbrigid
Brigid (Council Suit): You need more faith that Spring will come again. You need less focus on the coldness of Winter.
Fearless (Committee Suit): You need more confidence. You need less worry and fear.
Success After Failure (Commitee Suit): You need more confidence in yourself. You need less self-discouragement.
Lightbearer Archetype: You need more light. You need less worry about the people who are in your Light.
Jeff (Community Suit): You need more connection with your husband. You need less thinking about the past.
I am the one who is your husband, who loves you unconditionally.
scsurprise
Councili Suit Surprise: You need more joy and delight. You need less frowning and worry.
Doug (Community Suit): You need more hugs and connection with Spirit. You need less false stories about yourself.
I am the one who taught you lessons about love and vulnerability.
scwolf
Companions Suit Wolf: You need more solid, earth-centered grounding in your body. You need less thoughts in your head.

Mystery Ingredients

grocery bagMystery Ingredients

Several years ago while watching The Food Network, I became seriously attached (that’s my euphemism for “addicted!”) to a show called Chopped where three professional chefs are given a basket of “mystery ingredients” and challenged to create an appetizer, entrĆ©e or dessert.

For example, in one episode they had to make a dessert using: boxed macaroni and cheese, apples, raw cashews and cane syrup. Another time they were given short ribs, lemon thyme, zucchini and gefilte fish and challenged to create an entrĆ©e. And can you possibly imagine what kind of appetizer you’d come up with if you were given peanut butter, granny smith apples and jumbo shrimp?

Each menu item is judged on presentation, taste, and creative use of the ingredients. In each round, the judges taste all of the chefs’ food and say what they think. After everyone has had their say, they hold a discussion and agree on which chef is to be “chopped” from the competition. After three rounds, there is only one chef still standing and he/she is the winner.

Every time… every single time I look at the ingredients and am positively certain that they won’t be able to come up with something edible that looks good on the plate.

And every time… every single time, I am proven wrong.

This reminds me of when I was teaching second grade. I would sometimes give the children an assignment of combining unrelated spelling words into a sentence. For example, dime-lines-sky. Or dinner-thumb-bells. It always amazed me the sentences those kids would come up with! And it always required a different way of looking at the words, using them out of context. I like to think that this challenge helped them with their creative thinking skills later on in life.

It also reminds me of Paper Bag Dramatics, a fun game we used to play years (ok, who am I kidding… decades) ago in Girl Scouts. The leaders would bring in four paper bags of several unrelated items gathered from different rooms in their house. For example, a bag might include: a toothbrush, a framed photo, a book of maps, a shawl, a piece of chalk, a broken radio and a ball of yarn. Each group of 3-4 girls was given a different bag of items and the challenge was to come up with a ten-minute skit using all of the items together. I loved this game because it brought about much laughter and playfulness as we tried to think of possible creative ways to thread these items into a plausible story.

So… back to Chopped. I loved this show the way I loved Paper Bag Dramatics, and the way I loved challenging my students to combine their unrelated spelling words into interesting sentences because it reminds me of the power of creativity in our everyday lives.

And I can relate this show to the larger mysteries of life as well. At any given point on our journey, we are being handed a bag of “ingredients,” and let me tell you, some of them are more mysterious than others. For instance, right now, my Life Ingredients include: a loving husband who is legally blind, several work projects to attend to, a growing business/work that I love, nurturing a new fiction release, reviving a dusty yoga/meditation practice, and caring for an elderly feline. How do I combine these “ingredients” into my life in a way that brings me balance and inner peace? How do these mystery ingredients come together to make meaning, to activate growth, to bring me closer to myself, others and Spirit?

Take some time to ponder….

What “mystery ingredients” are presenting themselves to you at this point on your journey?Ā  How can they mesh together in a way that doesn’t sap your energy?

Do you need to add a few more ingredients into the mix in order to lighten your load and/or to allow you room for rest and renewal?

Let me know… I’d love to hear how this story has made a difference for you!

Gratitude and Grief

We’re well into autumn now here in eastern Massachusetts, and our thoughts are turning to Thanksgiving and gathering the colorful fallen leaves that are collecting on our lawn and driveway.Ā  When I drew this card today, I was reminded to think on other things that can be gathered, like. . .for instance. . . blessings!

I love having this card in my deck to remind me to notice and actively collect blessings (that for which I am grateful) all year long, not just at Thanksgiving and the holidays.

The last few years have been difficult as we said good-bye to our beloved feline Seymour as well as Jeff’s mom, Connie (she was 93!) I’ve been turning more steadily to a practice of gratitude and it’s been helpful as I’ve been wading through streams and riversā€”and some days seeming oceansā€”of grief. Practicing gratitude doesn’t necessarily lessen the grief to any extent, but it makes it easier to carry.

Who are you?

I am the one who stands in a field of flowers. I am the one who gladly picks the flowers and gathers them into my big bowl.

I am the one who is grateful for every blessing that comes my way, every single one.

I am the one who notices my blessings, who takes time to savor each one as I gather it in.

I am the one who is thankful for each and every moment of the six and a half years that Seymour graced my life.

I am the one who feels blessed for the love and presence that he blessed me with.

I am the one who is grateful for my relationship with Connie and the love that she so generously showered us all with.

I am the one who continually looks around my garden of blessings… I am the one who carries the gratitude alongside the grief.

NOTE: I am offering a SoulCollageĀ® self-study program called Healing Hurt Hearts at the Holidays. If you are carrying any hurt or grief that makes the holidays difficult this time of year, check it out. We have scholarships available too! More info here.