Unpacking an Old Story

Unpacking an Old Story

I recently came across a box filled with piles of old writings and copies of my handmade books. I found a large manilla envelope filled with the original drawings for a story called “Gifts of the Grandmother.” The colors of the pencil drawings were still so brilliant, even after being in storage for over eighteen years. The pictures and words evoked vivid memories.

From where I stand now, I see an initiation taking place in this story about my life way back when. Initiations require leaving behind what would inhibit genuine connection with what is waiting to be awakened and revealed. I was being called into the mystery, into the field that exists beyond the fears and the familiar, to explore new potentials and possibilities. Beckoned by the callings of my heart, I was pulled toward a fuller knowing of love.

That cycle in my life was not a carefully mapped-out transition. At the time, I felt like everything was falling apart. I had no income. No job title. A sparse and quickly dwindling bank account. My calendar was basically empty. I didn’t have an office to go to, day after day, week after week, month after month. I let my licensure as a psychologist expire, despite the many years of academia, clinical training, dissertation writing, and exams this had taken to acquire.

Something was calling me to discover more about life and what exists beyond the boxes and labels I’d been living inside. Who am I? What am I contributing? What is my purpose? Why am I here? Where am I going?

These questions haunted me. The answers didn’t readily come.

These questions also provided a guiding momentum for my searching, a quest that led me to root more deeply in ancient ceremonial ways to live in balance from the heart.

My pace slowed. My senses became intimately tuned to the colors, sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and movement of the non-human world and the ordinary moments of my everyday life. I settled into the rhythms of natural cycles within me and all around. My creativity and inner voice had more spaciousness for expression. My relationships with the earth and spirits were nourished and exquisitely nourishing, filled with learning, magic, healing, and adventure.

Despite what looked like scarcity and loss in material ways, I felt the lushness of being alive.

And along came a teacher, a companion and guide, who I encountered in the high desert canyons.

Here is a snippet about what Grandmother Vulture came to teach me:

I’d come to know Grandmother Vulture
as a harbinger of change
as she circles overhead in the sky

She’s an alchemist who knows
the transformative power of death
as she cleanses the earth

She lives aligned with the natural cycles
of birth and death and rebirth
trusting the process of change

She invited me to let go of what I fearfully held
to release what was no longer needed
like a snake shedding old skins
like a tree dropping leaves in the fall

Knowing death as a sacred transition
which opens doorways to renewal and growth
I was learning to honor the seasons and passages of my life
to celebrate what is
to trust the unfolding.

I’m preparing the drawings to hang in my healing arts studio (what I used to call an office) to keep alive my remembering of the tenderness of new growth, the sacred pace of emergence, and the enduring gifts of relationship, healing, and guidance I received. The medicines will fill the room, touching everyone who comes, and radiate far beyond.

Love rains down from the wide-open wings of Vulture, touching each and every one of us, leaving nobody out, the gifts of the grandmother so generously and forever being shared.



13 Responses to Unpacking an Old Story

  1. So very beautiful and inspiring, dear JoAnne! I can feel the vibrant energy of your drawings from far away and love that they will be speaking to you and everyone from your healing arts studio. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. That is an Awesome tale and your paintings are so full of life! I am glad you are going to bring them out and hang them in your Studio! Thank you for sharing this Joanne! I have 3 art journals going and 3 large canvases in the works. A new beginning also. “The sacred pace of emergence.” It is so wonderful when we honor that call!

    • Hi Robin. Exciting to hear about your art journals and canvases in the works. Your creativity is inspiring.
      Heart to Heart,

  3. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing. This very much resonates with me right now. To trust the transition and unfolding. “ What is being awakened and revealed” . . . .

    • You’re so welcome, Margaret. Here’s to healing transitions and the awakenings you are seeking.
      Heart to Heart,

  4. As usual, the synchrony of many of our life experiences on this Spiritual quest struck a deep chord of resonance from these windows into your memories.
    My life path took an abrupt change at just about the same time as yours. My “normal”life fell apart when I decided to follow my heart and trust and honor the Intense visions and guides that were challenging everything I had committed to, including a 25 year + marriage
    . My family thought I was literally going insane .Hardship was everpresent. But, I knew in my heart that it was time to follow and live my own truth,once and for all and it brought me to many different human teachers, but the Natural World and heightened awareness of Creator’s presence in All things validated my deep knowing of comic inner-connectedness . I “see” the dance and It has brought me to a place where true authenticity and the freedom to be exactly who I am is the biggest gift of all.
    Once again, I express my heartfelt gratitude to you for sharing your experiences and wisdom. ❤️2❤️

    • Thank you, Karen, for sharing about your courageous steps in your life path. Finding and creating the freedom to be who you are is a gift for us all.
      Heart to Heart,

  5. Each drawing a gate into a secret garden. They sing!
    I feel so fortunate to be knowing you in our slow growing, over many lifetimes friendship.
    Basalt and river,

    • Thank you so much, PattyMara.
      Grateful for you, the ways you share your many gifts, and our friendship.
      Heart to Heart,

  6. Thank you, for sharing such insight into all that what happening in your early years, JoAnne.
    I heard a quote once, “Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may be actually falling into place.”
    It seems to me, that old can be new if we see it with different slanted lenses.
    The beautiful bright colored drawings are asking to be seen as new for this specific time and space, bringing with them, a refreshed uniqueness in your sacred place.
    So lovely!

    • Thank you, Rita, for sharing your reflections and insights. Yes, seeing things with fresh eyes and for the gifts of this time.
      Heart to Heart,

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