Spiritual Prada 2Another thought provoking encounter at Goldenstein Gallery.  This time it is with a nicely put together woman from San Francisco.  I was touring her through the art in the gallery and she said to me that there are people in Sedona that are just “too spiritual.”  Interesting statement, I wait for her to continue.  She says, “Like you, you are not too spiritual, isn’t that your Prada bag behind the desk?” As it was just Chet and I working, I confessed that indeed it was my Prada bag but I wondered what my bag had said about my spirituality and I was of course inspired to ponder the meaning of “too spiritual.”
Anyone who knows me knows I am apt to wax philosophical and that I enjoy a bit of spiritual reflection. Yet even in the midst of pondering divine revelations, I also enjoy accessorizing.  I love to play with clothes and with clothes, accessories. The whole experience inspired by color, line and texture.  I cannot help it.  I am an artist.  I must express myself.  I have a great deal of fun with it too. I will also confess that along with the marvelous fashion gems and designer pieces in my wardrobe, there may be a few knock off’s, practical choices for practical times. I wonder what that says about me.
It was interesting that she used the phrase, “too spiritual,” because lately I have been feeling like a bit of a freak, a cast out, an oddball. Dare I say zealot? I pray a lot.  I practice turning everything I do into prayer. I talk about prayer; I write about it, I think about it, I do it. I don’t insist that you pray, you do what ever you like. But left to my own, I study and pray and contemplate and meditate then I journal about it all. I am almost always ready to explore a mystical or philosophical topic if you are. Whether I am hanging with friends, dancing, listening to music or having a good laugh, I find everything is an opportunity to practice the qualities I wish to develop for the benefit of the whole. My spirituality is vibrantly alive in my life.
This time last year I was planning an end of the year retreat for the last ten days of 2009. It had been a challenging year in the ways a year can be challenging when the economy goes to hell; along with the regular ups and downs of life and learning, heartbreak, laughter, loss, disappointment, joy, all that goes with the cycle of life. I was in need of some time to center and reflect, prepare for the opportunities yet to ripen.  I decided it would be a retreat to let go of the old, clear out energy that no longer served and to invite new relationship into my life.  There was prayer, meditation and two amazing ceremonies, one with water, one with fire. It culminated with a New Year’s celebration, I felt distinctly alive. I danced all night.  Little did I know there had been enough energy stirred up to turn my world upside down and inside out. I wanted to be prepared for the most profound opportunities to ripen in my life? Ready or not, my ego was up for a profound awakening. 
Tumultuous and incredibly revealing, 2010 was also rich and transformative. Certain that I will not have to face more than I can handle, ever, I prepare to flow into 2011 by stirring up the energy again.  This year’s retreat will be somewhat different. It began early Oct and will conclude March 1.  It might be more accurately called a semi-retreat as I am working out in the world and taking on only a few social engagements. My focus is on grounding spiritually and pouring forth creatively. Structured this way, it is an opportunity to feel my focus alive within and practice carrying it with me out of a formal retreat setting into day to day living; a practice I would ultimately like to be as natural as breathing.
The last few years have felt like something fresh and new and deeper is taking shape, a culmination of experience and perspective that is opening my heart and opening my mind. I am turning 50 in a few days. I am in the process of creating a new body of work.  I have a show at Goldenstein in the spring and later that summer in New Mexico.  A growing number of speaking engagements are scheduled for the coming year. As I call forth the creativity within and prepare to step forth to meet opportunity with my fullness of being, I am called back to basics: Prayer, study, meditation, centering in my relationship with Divinity, with my purpose in this life.
Immersed in thoughts of awakening spiritually, of deepening in my understanding of the nature of our existence, I seek to develop the habits of mind that will contribute to the overall raising of the consciousness of our planet. I am hanging out with the writings and lectures of Marianne Williamson, Ram Das, Rumi, Carolyn Myss, Charlotte Kasl and Eckhart Tolle among others, I paint, I write, I open myself as a channel for Divine Love to flow freely into the world.
At one moment, as I prepare my lunch, I think of all of those without food, those that struggle to feed their families; I pray that they have the nourishment they need.  I think of my choice to nourish my body, to care for the vehicle I have been provided this time around. I think of the many choices I make.  I think of the preciousness of this life, about all the beings that it took to provide this food for me, everything that has come together to create this moment: the farmers, the truck drivers, the food stores, the people that buy my art so I can pay for the food, the bank that manages my debit card transactions. The connections are endless. We are connected to so very many other beings. I acknowledge their light; I offer prayers for each of them that they will know ultimate happiness and freedom from suffering. My prayers are offered to all beings.
As I contemplate the nourishment of the body, I think about the nourishment of the mind.  I load a cassette I borrowed from the library, “The Sacred Self Workshop” by Marianne Williamson.  Her style is direct and accessible.  I like it.   Reflecting on her words helps to shine a light into places I have yet to explore.  I crazy gobble this stuff up.  As I eat, as I listen, I envision all beings receiving what they need.  I see our minds relax, our bodies grow strong, our spirits lift and open.  I rest in gratitude for the abundance in our lives.
Too spiritual?  I don’t know.  Feels about right to me.  As for Prada, that feels right too. I wonder what she really meant. Or what she would have thought seeing me and my Prada bag climb into my well worn ’94 Chevy half ton pick up. Makes me smile.

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