As some of you may know I have been studying through a program called Color of Woman taught by artist Shiloh Sophia McCloud Lewis. I Journey technically started in January but officially began in April. Last week was the graduation in California and I took the dare to attend. This is the first time I have ever traveled where family wasn't waiting for me on the other end. I couldn't think about it too much or a would explode from the excitement and anxiety of it. I never thought that I would be able to do something like this. It was a huge step out of my comfort zone-in fact I think I jumped out of the whole galaxy of my comfort zone-and I would do it again.
I got to Healdsburg, California Sunday, Nov. 2 and met the 6 other women I would be sharing a house with. From the minute I walked through the door we felt like family. We had only ever spoken online and it was as if we had known each other for years-there were no secrets-we laughed, we cried, we talked about the cosmos, and we supported one another. I hope they won't take offense when they read this but they were the kindest, silliest, wisest, most beautiful women I know, they inspire me and remind me that I am more than I think I am-and I am just as kind, silly, wise. Insert montage playing to a David Bowie song, of late nights, rocks that look like poo, henna, massaging the kale too much for kale chips, painting, walking through the town square with glitter everywhere, looking for deer and squirrels, taking time to be with myself, seeing a white crane fly just feet from my face, dancing, pumpkin pie, dancing, painting, drumming, sharing stories, Terra Sophia, almost missing a flight, calling in the fire department after waking to our rental house filling with smoke...and much more-maybe someday I will share the stories with you-but for know I will keep you guessing.
We had a few days with the rest of our class-getting to know each other and painting on a canvas. It felt like a dream being in circle at the studio that I had only seen through videos. There were times I had to look around and smile at some one to remind me that I was really here. For our graduation ceremony, before we received our certificate, we made a declaration. My biggest break through of the week up until that point was about being seen and heard and wanting others to have that opportunity too, to not always be fearful of what others are thinking, holding back and feeling guilty about opportunities lost. So I claimed that I am ready to take up space, my space-to tune into my heart and do and say things I need to do in order to stand in my own integrity. I think this will be an ongoing process for me and I know it won't be an easy one, but that is why my blog is called building wings-I am on a journey and learning to walk my path in life.
After our graduation and after we had enjoyed our chocolate cake and champagne, the Alumni events began. We bound a leather sketchbook, painted a drum, worked through some difficult topics of self love and acceptance through creating and a few more sessions, and collaboratively each painted a canvas to honour Sue Hoya Sellars (our art matriarch who only recently departed for the cosmos a few weeks ago, she was Shiloh's teacher and second mother, I did not get to meet her in person but her personality and spirit even through watching her on our live videos inspired me). On our last day our group of women went up to Terra Sophia, a beautiful mountain-where Sue lived and created-it was so beautiful there, with her art, and sculptures, gardens, and alters. It was a magical place, a sacred place. I cried when it was time to leave-but what a beautiful spot to say our goodbyes, I built such a connection to the women that I shared this experience with, saying goodbye was hard, but I know and hope that we will be saying hello again in the future-maybe we will even host some workshops together :)
From Terra Sophia one of my house mates and I were going right to the San Francisco airport. our shuttle was 45 minutes late, and I only made it through the gate 20 minutes before boarding time, and I journaled like crazy until I couldn't anymore and slept the rest of the way to Toronto.
My experience on this trip has reminded me of the greatness that we are and can choose to be. It has refreshed my soul and raised more inquiries and questions, that I am daring myself to follow.
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Jennifer Russell was born and raised in New Brunswick, Canada.She is an Intentional artist who focuses on creating meaning full connections to her work for herself and others. Nothing is more satisfying to her than hearing that her work has inspired someone in their own life.