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Simplify. {2008}
Simplify. {2009}
Simplify. {2010}
Believe. {2011}
Grace. {2012}
Restore {2013}
Listen (Silent) {2014}
Possibilities {2015}

I was so excited about {Possibilities} when it came to me! And the year started off with a bang for sure!! During the first week of January, I was featured on Cedar Rapid’s local news for doing Art Drops–giving away free paintings! The video has been taken down from the site, so I have this photo in remembrance. What an exciting first week of January!!

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After the Art Drop piece aired, I was contacted by the local newspaper and they did a complete feature!! Here’s the article. 

I had spent the previous two years in Cedar Rapids with little to no business. I was traveling back to Indiana once a month, staying a week with my brother, and doing Wine and Canvases and photo shoots for the entire week I was there. I’d go back home to Cedar Rapids and nothing. I couldn’t break into the market. So these two features were (what I thought to be) a major push and advance for me!

Then, on January 18, we received news that Phil’s mom passed away, alone, in her home. We left for Missouri and spent two weeks taking care of arrangements. We’d skipped Christmas presents and instead planned a family trip to Las Vegas for the last week of January, so of course, we cancelled that. It took so much time and so many helping hands to clean the house out. It was devastating. First and foremost, the sudden loss and then the aftermath that comes with being completely responsible for an estate, albeit a small one. Even though the house was small, it was packed to overflowing with a life’s worth of things that we had to clear in two weeks to get the house ready to go on the market. The more we cleaned and cleared, the more we realized that  maybe we should keep paying on the small mortgage and use it to visit the kids and grandkids. But then having that extra expense year-round for a week or two of vacation seemed irrational.

It was then, while we were walking near Table Rock Lake, that we began to dream of new possibilities. The cost of living was far less in Shell Knob than in Cedar Rapids. Our older two kids and two grandsons were in the area. We’d been debt free for the previous decade, so we didn’t have anything holding us down. At first it seemed impossible, but the more we talked, the more excited we got, and the more the possibility started to make sense.

Then on March 6, my dad passed away, losing his two and a half year battle with squamous cell cancer.

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I painted him a picture instead of flowers. I know he’s ok with that.

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And the list grew. Since 2006 we’d lost my Uncle Ed, who was more like my big brother than my uncle, Grandma Barnes, Grandpa Jack, Grandma Schalk (on Phil’s birthday,) Grandma Dranchak, my best friend, Jill, my mom, Phil’s step-dad, Phil’s mom and now my dad.

Between Phil and I we have no grandparents and no parents with us any longer. And at 43 and46–that’s a very weird place to be. That solidified our decision to move south, to Missouri, to bring our family together. To put down some roots and to make a go at living as artisans. Phil quit his corporate job and we loaded up and we started packing.

On the way to dad’s funeral, I saw eleven eagles flying over the Mississippi river. The flag was presented to me. That was one of the hardest things and most honorable thing I’ve been through.

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I got a new tattoo, to honor dad. To honor me.

To honor forgiveness and love.

To give myself permission to move forward in a powerful way.

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I let my tattoo artist do whatever he wanted. I just wanted a dreamcatcher. I didn’t even look at what he freehanded. Before I knew it, I was just about passed out in pain and my entire right forearm was covered in this amazing piece of art–full of symbolism from a man I’m grateful to call my friend. The antlers, the feathers, the arrowhead, the one bead in the dreamcatcher…all meaningful to me.

 

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On the way home from dad’s funeral, I was scrolling through Facebook and in the very same place I saw the eleven eagles on the way to Indiana, I read a post telling of a sweat lodge ceremony on March 21–the eve of my 43rd birthday.

I’ve spent over two decades journeying towards healing. The last two years in Cedar Rapids had been the most intense and the most rewarding.
Back in June, I was supposed to attend my first sweat lodge ceremony.

June 7. The anniversary of my mom’s death.

I thought that would be one of the final steps in my healing journey with the symbolism of death and rebirth and purification that comes with the ceremony. However, it was canceled because the water pourer’s doctor forbade him from doing another sweat ceremony because of heart problems. I was devastated. The center that hosts the ceremonies said they didn’t know anyone else to take his place, so they were anticipating not having more in the future.

I had done a guided meditation to find my master spirit guide. Mine is an elder Native American named Mehoneeah. He instructed me to come see him in meditation when I saw an eagle flying. On the way to my dad’s funeral, I saw eleven!

I was just amazed that I’d have the chance to do the ceremony before our move to Missouri. I meditated when I got home (because I’d seen the eagles) and he showed me a vision, part of which included him adorning me in warrior gear in preparation for the sweat lodge ceremony. He painted my face, he gave me a spear and a knife and an eagle dropped an arrowhead necklace around my neck.

Fast forward (and skipping many, many other interesting details) to the ceremony. The water pourer’s son was the fire keeper and his three year old daughter was there for a time when it was still early and the fire was being prepared. At one point, Patience grabbed my hand and wanted me to sit with her by the fire. I did. She got right up in my lap. I cradled her and I rocked her. I just kept rocking her. Her grandmother, grandfather, and her father were all visibly shocked that she was in my lap and falling asleep. Just before the ceremony was to begin, her father took her from my arms to take her to the grandmother’s car. She started whimpering and told her daddy, “No! I want her!” and headed straight back into my arms. I hugged her and told her I loved her and she hugged me so tight. She went back to her dad, but kept whimpering softly and saying she wanted me. (when I explained all this to my husband I said that while rocking her,  if she had been my child, I would’ve thought she was trying to crawl back up into me because she just couldn’t get close enough to me.) Later the water pourer said to me, “Thank you for your healing energy here tonight. You are such a healer. And I think you and my granddaughter were friends in a different life. I’ve never seen her take to someone like she did you.”

While I was being smudged with sage, while a prayer was being sung, eagle came flying over my head. He left after my smudging was finished. (another attendee told me this part. My eyes were closed and I would’ve never known!)

During the sweat, my master guide came to me. Honestly, I was a bit afraid because of all the warrior preparation beforehand. He approached me, put his hands to my face, and washed off my warrior paint.

He left my arrowhead necklace, but he took my spear and knife from me and put them aside. He said, “This is who you were. You are now born into forgiveness.” He then took my arm into his hand and pointed at my tattoo and said, “This is a reminder of who you once were and what you are now.” He told me that I am no longer a warrior, but carry the warrior spirit in me.

In the dark of sweat lodge, sweating out my impurities, smelling the sage and lavender, and watching my guide’s hands come to my face and feeling the warrior paint being wiped away while hearing his words…

I don’t think I’ve ever cried that hard in my life.

The nex day, I forgotten about a free session I’d won with (who I thought was) a business coach.

She asked me to put my hand on my heart, and a vision of the a previous energetic cord cutting and healing came to me. The place I was told needed to be healed was my heart, but the cord I’d just cut was also attached to my heart. An angel put mud on my heart and held his hand over it until it dried, then told me I had another *huge* cord to be cut from my heart, but I needed to heal first. I thought it would be cut and healed in another meditation at a later date.

I (wrongly) thought that healing was the last step. That the sweat lodge ceremony was the climax of this particular part of my journey. But this lady was more of an intuitive healer and she guided me to say goodbye to my gypsy girl. She asked me to take that little gypsy girl in my lap and rock her and my mind went to the Water Pourer’s granddaughter sitting on my lap. I was rocking her.

I was given a physical representation of a spiritual truth.

These two things–the warrior paint being wiped off and the little girl in my lap symbolizing my physical realm and my spiritual realm–are two of the most profound things that have ever happened to me.

I became fully me.

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I had enrolled in a course (on a whim) and paid a few hundred dollars to dig deeper into things that were really interesting me–stones, crystals, sage (I’d already been burning sage and playing with stones for about a year, but hadn’t really dug into them,) oracle cards, meditation, all that woo woo stuff! I’d always been in touch with my woo, but mostly secretive about it, because in the past, when I’d talk about it, things would happen–like pastors heading up witch hunts against me. But I was pretty tired of people telling me what I could and couldn’t do–so I went for it.  We were in the third week, the group was led by two instructors, when I asked a question regarding masculine and feminine energy (remember this for later, it becomes very, very important–and I *just* realized how important it has become.) Anyway, I asked this question and pissed off one of the instructors, I guess because I questioned her authority, and the next thing I know, she disbanded the group (nearly 30 people paid hundreds of dollars to be in–and I lost my ass on this on. Didn’t get a cent back,) she blocked me, and all kinds of crazy ass drama. I tried to speak to her, but she hung up on me.

That goes right along with my entire life–asking teachers, instructors, pastors, gurus questions and having them get pissed off at me and kicking me out of their space.

Only this time, I moved on quickly, because for real, who has time for that shit? Like anyone else in my life, I’d reconcile if the chance became available. I’ve thanked these people (in spirit) for the lessons they’ve taught me, and I’ve worked to correct the things in me that no longer serve my highest purpose.

 

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Another chapter in life came to an end around August when I had to return to Indiana to do a final walk-through of our Indiana house that we’d been renting out since 2009. I met the same amount of devastation as in January when we had to clean out Phil’s mom’s house. Only the people who left the house in this condition were alive and well, they just chose to make decisions that led to the destruction of my property.

Again, a lesson presented itself. I could keep entering into destructive situations or I could choose to not do that. Seems easy, but when it’s family, it gets a little harder. I tried to open the door of communication, tried to discuss the past events that had led to the current drama, all to no avail.

I was called a liar. A fake. (and I’m sure much worse–because when they think people aren’t listening, they speak harsh words. I know this because one day my dad was yelling at me on the phone and he thought he hung up, but he didn’t. So I heard everything they had to say about me–and they were mad at me, calling me names, because of decisions they’d made and wouldn’t take responsibility for.) And the same thing was happening again (minus dad this time.)

So in the same year that we gained a home in Missouri, we lost a home in Indiana. Both in ruins. There was a lot of cleaning this year.

 

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So we cleaned, cleared, and got rid of things that didn’t belong. We made our little home on the lake into our sanctuary. Into the place where we are now free to dream of the {possibilities} that lie ahead of us. Phil and I live well together. We celebrated 21 years this summer and we’re living a life we’ve always dreamed of.

Our oldest son married a beautiful woman this year and we got to be a major part of it all. It’s what we’ve always wanted. Strong family bonds, Sunday dinners, campfires, talks, and all of the crazy beautiful things that come with being together.

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I traveled a lot this year. From Iowa to Indiana. From Iowa to Missouri. From Missouri to New Orleans, Wisconsin, Chicago, Baltimore. While in Baltimore, we drove to DC and I saw the Vietnam Wall for the first time in my life. I didn’t think I’d be overwhelmed, but I was. I could feel the spirit of my dad with me, I could feel the loss sustained. I could feel the heaviness. But I could also feel the healing. I honored my dad while I was there, knowing that he would have been a different man–and our relationship would’ve been different–had he not been drafted. Had he not witnessed the horrible things he’d seen there.

 

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So life looks different than it ever has. It’s emptier, but fuller. It’s most definitely filled with more peace. More love. More joy. I’m learning how to let go, to look within, and to bring forward the girl that has been hiding behind a wall of fear.

 

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I’ve started coaching people. Well, I’ve always done that, but I’m doing it in a focused, official capacity now. I’ve integrated my art, photography, and intuitive nature and am leading people on sacred journeys–and you guys–THIS is what all of the heartache and pain and loss and lessons have led to. Sometimes I’ve felt like I’ve lived a hundred lives (all of them painful and abuse-filled) and now I see clearly the redemption. When these souls say to me they’re hurt, I know the pain.

I am  healed. Now I heal.

And it is exactly where I’m meant to be.

 

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Phil and I have spent the last week dreaming. Setting intentions. Thinking about 2016 and beyond. And we’re dreaming of bigger {possibilities} than ever before!!

In discovering our dreams, I’ve also discovered a place inside of me that needs deeper healing. Until I wrote this, though, I didn’t connect it to the events of the beginning of the year.

My word for 2016 is {Receive} and receiving is feminine energy. My life has been dominated by masculine energy. The survivor, the fighter, the warrior, the bold and vicious person that I have had to be to get through this life of abuse and pain.

But now?

I am no longer that person.

I am no longer a warrior (though I carry the warrior spirit with me.)

And yes, there is much fear in this for me. Because to {receive} is to be wide open and completely vulnerable.

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But I shall deepen into that fear and release it.

Once and for all.

And I shall {receive} the love that awaits me.

I am no longer a warrior. That is who I was.

I {receive} my new identity.

I am excited thinking about the integration and the coming into a fuller, richer, brighter version of myself.