Messy or Magical: YOU Be the Reason for the Season

Bernadette's Musings from the Messy Room Messy and Magical Holiday Message I find myself off the map this holiday season, alone with my kitties and the “ghosts of Christmas past.” Caught in reflection and releasing attachment to stories that cannot – need not – be revisited, repurposed, or recycled. Being mindful not to compare what my “reason for the season” looks like to those displayed around me. Just quietly aware of the many nuances of human experience beneath all the hustle and bustle, and living with the sense that it is okay for me to be alone this year. That it is, indeed, necessary. There is a freedom that comes in recognizing that there are times when tradition serves us well and other times when it simply does not. This is a “not” year. I am grateful to recognize that and embrace the gifts it has to offer and not grasp for the questionable recreation found in re-creations of the near or distant past. Guess you could say this is a “we three kings disoriented are” holiday. (I am not without a sense of humor. When my GPS is down, I look up.) If you are off the map this holiday season, this is the deal – what I know to be true. First of all, you are not alone. Secondly, whether through tradition or ritual or breaking all the rules of thumb, you are the magic-maker found in every season of your life. So, wherever you are this year, make it count. Love anyway. Laugh anyway. Be present anyway. This may be one of those silent whisper gifting kind of holidays. Find peace with the pieces and joy in the little pleasures found on the fringes of your day-to-day activities. Some years we have to enjoy the trimmings while the gift is "made ready." Those three kings may be disoriented but they do deliver. They look up, too – and they will find you where you are. Be ready to receive. I know I am. Peace be with you this season.

Down and Dirty: Recovering a Sense of Possibility While Under the Influence of Gravity.

Visual journal, mixed-media page inspired by the poem Feet of Clay posted on the blog, Bernadette's Musings from the Messy Room.

Feet of Clay While her dance on earth bid her stay, she came to love her feet of clay. Though they crumbled and caved in life’s tidal wave of unknowing, she learned to reshape them and fire them with the glowing golden embers within her heart, the place that remembered where she got her start on wings of angels delivered to birth, royalty not subject to the mirth of fault-finders with cast iron feet bound to the earth, impenetrable and too deep to leap for the stars and catch fireflies in jars on hot summer nights when naked feet find delight in the dance that bid her stay while she came to love her feet of clay.

Bernadette Rose Smith

  Feet of clay is an expression we use that points to character flaws found in our humanness. You know. Those times when we are so good we must be found bad. Or so bad we are good enough to raise the eyebrows of those mirthful faultfinders around us. (Inner critics included.) Lets face it. Whether a Hollywood starlet caught in a nose-picking event by paparazzi or the King of Babylon exposed in a dream by prophet Daniel or somewhere in between like the rest of us, having feet of clay ranks low on the bucket list of “I wants” or things to be celebrated. We try to rise above them with store bought miracle grow wings that promise to elevate our consciousness. Or we hop on brooms with “swoop and sweep” features that offer to deflect or hide our questionable character. Or we travel the earthbound distraction route, clicking the heels of our sparkly ruby slippers on the latest offering of a freshly painted yellow brick road in a search for more brains, more heart and more courage ... to what? Escape them? Well, how ‘bout we embrace them?

Don’t wait for clay feet to kick you in the pants on your way out!

Visual journal, mixed-media close up of art inspired by Feet Of Clay poem in Bernadette's Musings from the Messy Room. The first two lines of Feet of Clay haunted me for days – like a mantra by Dr. Seuss – encouraging me to follow the impulses to its completion and start the visual journal page seen here. All during a creativity challenge I agreed to host for The Mused Community – a group on Facebook of which I am a grateful member. This particular challenge wove together chapter 5 from The Artist’s Way – Recovering a Sense of Possibility – and the earth energy medicine found in the dragonfly’s dance from its originating form as dragon. Lively discussion topics about virtue traps, not limiting God and finding the source of the stories we tell pointed to an evolving sense of possibility and recovery for embracing our feet of clay. For years, I tried to rise above mine. My sense of possibility anchored in a belief that I could learn how to be happy and feel safe here only by sustaining flight; lighting down occasionally to share the sights I’d seen from above. (Muses and creatives tend to do this but lack of oxygen in higher realms can make us fuzzy in remembering how to plant our visions here.) Visual journal, mixed-media page completed for Feet Of Clay poem posted on Bernadette's Musings from the Messy Room blog.

After multiple attempts and crashes, here is my basic guide to arriving – and thriving with clay feet.

1. Be the first in line to embrace your mess. (Love yourself.) 2. Get there before the mirth slayers. (Be not afraid.) 3. Perfection is found in imperfection. (So relax.) 4. Strength is found in vulnerability. (So relax some more.) 5. If you claim your feet of clay you won’t miss a leap to live – really live as you. Not someone else’s idea of you. (Be authentic.) 6. Whether you are stomping in the mud or re-firing in the glow of your heart, the edits and rewrites are yours. (So play.)  
“No one can awaken from a dream the world is dreaming for him.” A Course in Miracles (text, P. 541)

Visual journal, mixed-media page of art inspired by the Feet Of Clay poem on Bernadette's Musings from the Messy Room blog

Don’t be a stand-in in someone else’s dream. While this dance on earth bids you stay, learn to love your feet of clay. It starts with you. That’s all I’ll say.

Claim your feet of clay here!

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Writing Under Fire The Artist’s Way

Shameful Stories

Writing Under Fire

Writing under fire saves lives when desperation overflows pretty journals and sends pen in hand drawer-diving for a comp book or some lone sheet of loose-leaf paper.

Even toilet paper writes well at midnight with its multi-tasking talent for anger venting, tear catching, nose blowing, remorse flushing purges.

Dear God letters. Fill-in-the-blank-you-asshole letters. Therapy work. Gasping for breath and rhythm work. Dream logs. Synchronicity logs. Gratitude logs. Spirit dialogs. Ego dialogs. Alternate routes through heart and mind traffic jams.

When angst hits the wall grab a pen. Hit the page. Save a life. Make it yours.

Bernadette Rose Smith


Wish to amp up your life with creativity and delight in Divine Coincidence? Here's 3 things to try. (Hey, they work for me!)


Thing 1: Morning Pages.

In the fall of ’93, my then-husband-now-friend gave me a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Struggling with a loss of career direction, artist’s block and mild depression I couldn’t shake, I committed to reading the book and writing the morning pages that Julia prescribed. Some might call it irony. I call it synchronicity – amplified by a Divine Purpose. Then-husband-now-friend gifted me with a book that introduced me to a process of writing my way through pretty much anything. Then he left and gifted me with an opportunity to practice that process in a way that I never could have imagined! What are morning pages? In Julia’s words, “… three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness: ‘Oh, god, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get my laundry yesterday? Blah, blah, blah …’ They might also, more ingloriously, be called brain drain, since that is one of their main functions.” She also says, “There is no wrong way to do morning pages … (they) are not meant to be art. Or even writing … not supposed to sound smart … nobody is allowed to read (them) except you … Just write three pages … ” Why write them? Julia jokes, “To get to the other side” but is quick to point to their power when she says they get us to “the other side of our fear, of our negativity…” She identifies a voice she calls the censor. (What I frequently refer to as ego in Bernadette’s Pages.) Writing three pages of chaotic, mundane babble miraculously clears the static that interferes with my ability to quiet my mind and consciously connect. Like a child allowed to run off a sugar high after a birthday party, my ego often settles down by the time I get to page three – after which I find I can be still and receptive to insights that often change my life.  

Thing 2. (Maybe 3.) Writing With Your Other Hand.

Years ago, a friend introduced me to the power of using my non-dominant hand to tap into the wisdom of the right brain. She guided me through a series of dialogs during which the right hand (my dominant) wrote out the question with a pen and the left hand (my non-dominant) answered with a crayon. The left hand blurts were surprisingly direct and wise. The process captured my attention but did not go beyond a few sessions. This powerful tool reemerged as a lifeline after then-husband-now-friend’s departure and is still something I do in my morning page time. You don’t have to understand how the right brain works to experience its effect. Creative or not, we all intuitively dip into it on an unconscious level. But, if you want to harness its power more consciously, I suggest you read Lucia Capacchione’s, The Power of Your Other Hand as well as the classic, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. These books direct you to a whole new way of seeing and experiencing the world.  

Thing 3: (Maybe 2.) Scribing Spirit.

Scribing – referred to as “Spirit Dialog” in B’s Pages – was not entirely new to me when I started doing morning pages. I’d had a few ‘scribing outbreaks’ in previous years––outbreaks that I attributed to twelve-step recovery work. (Specifically Step Eleven.) Often, in my practice of Step Eleven (that states, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him …”) I would feel a Divine Presence and an urge to write. Sometimes words flowed onto the page that were not my own. No burning bushes – or winning lottery numbers – but always appropriate to where I was and what I was concerned with. Without the established habit (morning ritual) of showing up to the page, I would not have a clear channel nor a comfort zone when Divine Guidance bumps journaling to the next level with whispers of redirects or offers of lifelines. And I would miss the crossroads – the opportunities to change direction – that lead to what I know and love about life today. I Write to Think poster A Shortcut?  These days, my writing evolves to fit life circumstances and time constraints but remains a foundational cornerstone; a primary tool I use to process and move through life’s stuff. Issues that show up on paper often do not have to remain as long, drawn out classroom experiences. And, at crucial times, they act as springboards for some pretty amazing communication with others. (I do not advise that you share your writing casually, however. It is important to have an ear that constructively hears beyond the guilt and fear that often gets dumped onto the pages.) Here’s a Thought.  Why wait for pain to motivate you when guidance is “at hand?” Let morning pages prime the pump and other-hand writing set the stage for your own insightful “blurts.” I would LOVE to hear your experiences and thoughts on what your “writing under fire” looks like and how it works in your life. Or your challenges with writing in this way. “Dump” them here ‘cause together we grow!

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The Crayon: Our First Magic Wand

A crayon was our first magic wand
“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the 'creative bug' is just a wee voice telling you, 'I'd like my crayons back, please.” – Hugh MacLeod
Admit it. Don't you sometimes wish you could have your first box of crayons back? And all the innocent creativity that came with them? I don’t know about you, but it was love at first sniff for me. Then, it was the magic of choice with a world of color at my fingertips. For the first time in my young life I could choose a color. Blend a color. Shade. Highlight. Even outline a color with another color. My own little kingdom of color invited in newsprint paper, coloring books, tracing paper, connect the dots and my first mural that spanned the length of Aunt Rosemary's hallway. I am told her attempt to correct the self-appointed 4 year old muralist failed when she finished with,  “Now, are ever going to do that again young lady?” and I replied,  “I will if you want me to.” (Am thinking I must have sniffed a whole box of crayons that day as I don’t remember the “color like no one is watching” incident.) My adults must have recognized that I had a creative spirit that could no longer be contained in a box of 24 as I was entrusted with THE BIG BOX. You know the one. 64 crayons complete with the built-in sharpener. Now, not only could I choose more colors but I could also choose the thickness of my lines! And, if that wasn’t enough to be excited about, it was in this box that I discovered a magical color called periwinkle. When you placed it next to blue it looked purple and when you placed it next to purple it looked blue. That is when the power of choice and observation invited me to open the door to consider other paradoxical and equally enchanting dimensional possibilities that life had to offer. As adults in a techno-society that now underestimates the power packed inside something as sweetly simple as a box of crayons, LETS NOT FORGET! The next time you see a child pick up a crayon consider what you are witness to. All the sensory gears that set into motion with that very personal magical moment of choice. (It might just be their first.) Who knows, you might just want to join them to tap into some of that "in the now" innocence for yourself. We are never too old to play with crayons. Me, I still have my box of 64 ... and yes, I still sniff. What was your favorite magic wand as a child? Is it still? PSST: Were you a "sniffer," too? If you like this post then LIKE it and SHARE it! Together we grow!

Heart Bypass: Living and Loving on the Highway

Heart Bypass: Living and Loving on the Highway If you live in Atlanta, you know I-285. Those traveling the north/south or east/west interstates call it the bypass but really it’s a loop that circles the heart of the city. Locals refer to I-285 as The Perimeter. When asking directions around here, one usually starts with “Are you inside or outside the perimeter?” For insiders, driving too far outside the perimeter is akin to an “out of state” road trip. For outsiders, driving too far inside the perimeter requires a course in street life savvy, the kind that keeps you from turning down the wrong street in a Walking Dead episode. “NOoooo... don’t go THERE! Zombies ahead!” (Hey, it’s not my fault. A friend got me hooked.) These days, life outside the perimeter mimics conveniences of city life. And for some who choose to settle outside, it’s “close enough” to live on a perimeter that bypasses hardcore city commitments with softcore city-like amenities. Time was, a reasonably clear inside/outside demarcation could be made but now the inner feels a lot like the outer while navigating this Nascar-esque bypass. In the speedway blur, you think you are in the city proper. Looks like it. Feels like it. Sounds like it. Smells like it. But not it. Now, lets switch gears. (Hey, I’m working a metaphor here.) Think about the heart. Your heart. Where it resides. And who resides in it. Like Atlanta, your heart is the city. The closer to the center the stronger the pulse as blood pumps (emotions, passions, dreams, fears) through the arteries and side streets with all the pedestrian conveniences. Culture. People. Parks. Coffee shops. Nightlife. But also challenges like traffic jams, convention re-routes, and one way do not enter streets. Get the picture? This is you. You living and loving in the heart of your city. Enter new relationship. (Or awaken in an old one.) Maybe you meet this person on the loop and do the bypass-dating thing for a while. After all, it’s close and has enough of the amenities you need to make the trip worth it. Both hearts are protected while enjoying this exploration of the almost-city. You like the neighborhood, so you rev up your motor a bit and turn into the beyond casual dating zone. Day and night traffic blurs the perimeter lines as you drive deeper into their city – while they remain on the loopy bypass. Do you notice that they are riding the perimeter or choosing the bypass? If you do notice, do you:
a. Give them time. b. Hand them a map or upgrade their GPS. c. Decide close enough is enough. d. Figure you can work with it and/or change them. e. Acquiesce to this one being better than the last one. f. Evacuate. g. All of the above. h. None of the above.

What do you do if you find you are the only one in the city, the only one in your heart?

Or are you? Cities have a lot of vacant buildings – urban flight and all that. Did you fall through the cracks of a heart broken by past city dwellers or squatters? Did you take flight and not notice? Are you waiting for someone else to give you permission to move back into the city? Reclaim your heart? Did you get caught on the good enough is close enough loop and is that how they got away with looping the bypass? (Add “for so long” if you are in an old relationship.) Lots of questions, I know. But finding the answers offers a pedestrian view that allows you to occupy – not bypass – your own heart while deciding if you will continue the drive into theirs. If you don’t embrace your city life, with all its traffic jams and conventioneers looking for a good time, who will? And if you are not present to your own heart chances are you’ll dismiss theirs – or miss the exit/entrance ramps that will get you where you really want to go and ultimately reside. I know this because I am well traveled – loops and all. No judgments here, folks. Just some street savvy and a patched up heart in a city with as many streets called Forgiveness as Atlanta has called Peachtree.

Pssst: This heart bypass metaphor can be applied to other relationships you have ... like why a job is or is not working for you or where your creativity is or is not hanging out. There are no limits where the heart is concerned!

So, tell me what routes you've been taking these days!

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Daze of Future Past.

Daze of Future Past Poster Ever feel like your future is behind you? When things happen in life that cause us to lose our landscape, it’s natural to go back and retrace our steps – and often necessary if we want to move forward. Sometimes, when the earth moves beneath us, the terrain becomes so radically different that we find ourselves looking back not to heal but to find the familiar. Something. Anything. Especially if we lost our heart there. If we get lost back there then our future IS behind us. And our past is in front of us. Think about that for a moment. Our future is behind us if that is where we’re looking. Look long enough and our past becomes our future. Where we fix our gaze becomes our days.
“How much more effective to bring future and past to the present. It’s all happening right here, in this moment … Without the expression of fear based in memory, the future can better take care of itself because it will evolve from a series of inspired present moments ...”         Excerpt from Bernadette’s Pages: An Intimate Crossroad
What earthshaking losses would you willingly and consciously turn your past into your future for, to relive again and again? Now, what would that earthmover event look like if you invited Love to witness it with you? See, Love is a NOW thing with present day choices that align past, present and future.

• • • • •

Caught in the daze of future past? Here’s a simple little thing to try for a couple of nights. Go outside and gaze at the moon. Yep. Invite all your senses to this present awareness practice. Feel the night air on your skin. Listen to the chirping of crickets or the hum of traffic. Smell the evening blossoms or the smoke from a fireplace. Notice what you notice NOW. Be aware of as many sounds, smells and sensations as you can. For example: How many miles of sound can you hear? How many layers of scents can you smell? How many moonbeams can you see? And how many eyes are looking up at this moon, RIGHT NOW, with you? Just think, this is the same moon that hung in the sky on the day you were born. On the day your parents were born. And their parents, too. And yet, this moon knows nothing of time. For this moon, all time is now. For this moon, this silent witness, you are now. Always you. Always you, now. Just now. Just you. Breathe that in. Be here now. See your future in front of you. So, tell me about your earthmover. Or, tell me your moon story. And remember the next time you go out to gaze at the moon, we just might be looking at it together.   If you like this post then LIKE this post and please share it with your friends.