Doodling, Collaging, and Listening

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Zen Doodle 3 2/16/13

I’ve decided to do 2 practices during Lent this year: ZenDoodling (Yes this is a real thing) as a daily practice:

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Zen Doodle 1 2/14/13

 

 

 

 

And SoulCollage (also a real thing) with a twist. In Soul Collaging…it’s an intuitive creative process. Meaning, you don’t sit down and say, “Wow…I’m going to collage a tiger biting off my head as I fall toward a big bowl of jello” and then go find those images. You collect, peruse, select, etc images that seem to grab your attention and put them together, even if they don’t “make sense”. What emerges is always a very powerful surprise for me; it’s almost as if the card speaks to me in a language only my insides, my being can interpret.

The twist…I’m going to do a SoulCollage after sitting with Sunday readings during Lent. I’m not planning out which one or what agenda I want this collage to have (this only happens once in a while to me…ok maybe all the time)…just sit with the readings and let something grab me. A line, a phrase, word, image, reading…etc. Then, using that reflection create a SoulCollage…but not sacrificing the intuitive part. Making any sense?

Why am I doing this? I’m glad you asked! I decided that what I need is some time to listen, really listen. I know how to take space and be quiet, but I don’t know how to shut my mind off…or screens off for that matter. Pinterest is very quiet…but I’m aware that I use that, FB, trolling Craigs List, etc etc etc…to numb out rather than be aware, mindful perhaps in the silence.

For me, creative process has always been a way to let myself become silent and listen. I don’t hear words, demands, messages, signs…but my depth can be reached in images. I open myself to the spirit and let her guide me through a process and it’s amazing what images say to me.

So…how this will work on the Bloggy Blog…I will post the reading I sat with and a picture of my SoulCollage card on this blog. I will post the card and my personal reflection on Creating From the Inside…Out. This blog is “by invitation only”, just to keep myself/reflections secure…I’d like to at least know who is reading. Any/All are welcome…just please message me, comment on a post, etc with your e-mail address and I’ll give you access immediately!

Peace to you these 40 days…I’ll be reveling in the silence and discovering what might speak to me…

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Psalm 91–Be with me Lord, when I’m in trouble, be with me Lord I pray

real.truth.experience.joy

 

 

 

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blockages, hiatuses, and noticing

Taken by: Katy LaFond 1/2013
Lake Dillon Reservoir looking over Rocky Mountains in Dillon, Colorado

A few weeks ago, I went skiing with my mom in Colorado (first time on real mountains!).  Some of the runs were just long, slow, and incredibly peaceful–it was like a retreat; on skis!  I snapped this picture from our condo porch.  It was so peaceful and those mountains were just stunning.  I love nature and reveling in it as a connection to prayer/spirit.  For me, this is the perfect image which describes precisely what I’m writing about today…there is such beauty in the stillness and the opportunity to notice what’s right in front of you sometimes…

Ok…so….I’m sorry for the hiatus; kind of.  I haven’t been inspired or moved to write anything lately.  When I began this blog, I decided that if what I had to write didn’t fit into one of my mission categories (real.truth.experience.joy), I wasn’t going to write or post it.  It’s not to say that nothing has happened, just haven’t had the urge to write.

What do you do when you have a writer’s and/or idea block?  Do you push through it and write/create anyway?  Do you accept that’s where you’re at and wa

it for the spark to connect?  Do you try a routine?  Music?  Exercise?  Do you let it be?  Does it stress you out or is it more “meh”?  Are you “too busy” or just not creating the space?

I used to be more, hmmmm….how might we say this…concrete…nope…i

t’s just darn rigidness.  “I said I’d post once a month, so I’m going to post once a month!”  I’d put myself on some weird new routine to coarse myself into getting this magic idea or be determined that a new “practice” would help.  Inevitably, my new practice would die out after a few rounds.  It’s not that I have trouble following through with things

…it’s that I have trouble stepping out of the boundary of what is my truth and genuine inside of me.  If I don’t feel like writing haiku’s…writing a haiku a day for a year just isn’t going to work for me.  I used to get stressed and irritated that I wouldn’t just “buck up” and write (create).

Clearly these strategies served me so well…NOT.  So this time around…I was aware that I hadn’t blogged. No pressure…no stress…no frustration.  It’s MY blog!  It’s supposed to be a release, a hobby, a stress-reliever not producer.  But I was aware that “it was time” and then “way overdue”.  What struck me is how I began to notice differently, listen differently, pay attention to what draws me and why in a different way.  Occasionally, I caught myself asking, “Should I blog about x?”  “Hmmm…no, not this time.”  The amazing thing was, I WAS OKAY WITH THIS RESPONSE!

I’m a reflective person.  I need quiet and space to let things soak in and swim around a little bit.  Being able to honor that need for processing in something as simple as a blog entry (or non-entry) without judgement was a huge thing for me.  Noticing…who knew it was such a powerful thing?  Who knew Ms. Katy Marie LaFond would ever be able to image beauty with this scenario?

I do realize the irony in writing a blog about not writing a blog…just know that I noticed this a while ago and waited for the spirit to say, “now’s the time…” (without judgement…argh…that’s the tough part)

What do you notice and step back without judgement? Do you experience the beauty in the stillness?

real.truth.experience.joy

apple butter

My neighbors across the street introduced themselves to me yesterday and invited me over to experience their annual apple butter making experience.  I was intrigued, but didn’t really intend on going.  Lisa and I went to the farmer’s market and saw this apple butter extravaganza beginning.  We decided to stop.  It was fascinating…we learned that the man’s (I think his name is Tom?) family is from Virginia and they have been doing this for 30 years!  It’s a huge community event, very labor intensive, but time to really slow down, listen to some great music, talk and be together as a community…while producing some pretty cool and yummy apple butter.

That got me a’thinkin’…I don’t think we as a culture do much to join together as “community” in this informal, down to earth…”Hey we’re makin’ apple butter…I don’t know you from a load of hay, but c’mon over!” kinda way.

Many ways to view community, I guess.  I like this organic, come together for a casual, unique experience…learn about people’s past (i.e. Tom’s family history, Virginia rituals, etc) and new things.  It allows me to pause and remember to see the world around me and open myself to these new experiences and how those too, help me grow.  

real.truth.experience.joy

(yay! it’s a “joy” post!)

“First Flight”

experience.  arts.  respect.  motivation.  leadership.  self.  risks.  confidence.  diversity.  creativity.  fun.  focus.  passion…

These are just a few of the many words which appear on the base of my uncle, Richard Taylor’s, sculpture: “First Flight”.  His sculpture was commissioned to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the First Stage Children’s Theatre in Milwaukee, WI.  The words were taken from testimonials written by the First Stage alums regarding their experiences of First Stage; some of the inspiration for Richard in the sculpture creation. 

First off…I’m incredibly proud of my uncle–he is a gifted artist really living out (I would say, “call”) his passion and talent to provide others with more beauty, serenity, peacefulness, and reflection all through his aesthetic media.  His art pieces are always accompanied by thoughtful and deep artist statements which allow (at least for me) people to take in the piece of art while inviting he/she to probe themselves to find a deeper meaning. 

Richard describes this piece saying:

…The sculpture soars with confidence, is diversified in its many shapes yet finds strength in their unity.  It proudly assumes a posture of leadership while it upholds values.  It is respectful of its surroundings while it passes on these life experiences to all who have found them…I have sought to compose a sculpture embodying the spirit of achievement and pride inherent in these tributes…”

 I so appreciate my uncle for these invitations. He is a model of humility, thoughtfulness, and passion to me. Way to go, uncle Dickie! 

On my way home from the dedication, a plethora of bloggable thinking invaded my drive home…the title of the piece, the descriptor, the words of inspiration…on and on.  Not only does this piece have special meaning to me because of my uncle and the reflective element of its meaning…it really spoke to me of my journey too.

First flights…what does it take for someone (somethings…i.e. birds?) to prepare for his/her first flight?  What supports does one need?  What unplanned events (yuck!) occur?  Where is the learning?  What are the outcomes?  (For those of you who are now rolling your eyes because I said “learning” and “outcomes” it’s ok…those are just as integrated within me as red blood cells and neurotransmitters)

You know what I came up with? (With a little help of course!)

experience. arts. respect. motivation. leadership. self. risks. confidence. diversity. creativity. fun. focus. passion…

It seems like I’m having first flights more often that I’d like lately.  However, I look at that testimonial list and I am inspired, motivated, joyful…  I don’t feel the sometimes present: stress, fear, dare I say…hurt and anguish which can accompany a flight or transition one does not wish to take.  Nope…no ma’am!  I get excited!  I am ready to jump/fly/swim/jig/…!  Bring it on world!

So how can I cultivate the positivity in reminding myself that there is the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” while still acknowledging and owning the yucky stuff that is very much real, but not meant to stifle? 

I don’t have the answer to that…yet! (Ha!) However, I think it lies somewhere between “soaring with confidence”, allowing yourself to take “shape”, while “finding strength in unity” …throw in a little passion, fun, focus…and allow myself to be a part of the beauty that can be created with flight.  

Thanks, Uncle Dickie, for this thoughtful piece of art and the opportunity to continue to be inspired by and learn from you.

real.truth.experience.joy

day 5: mission possible

I’m home now…I have to admit I’m tired from the week and I have a lot to process, but I truly had a fantastic time.  I was sad to leave on many levels and yet, excited to be home (mostly to see kitty).  I hesitate writing a day 5 report because I really need to let some stuff slosh around a bit, but I can give some highlights of day 5 and after the sloshing is complete, I may do a cumulative review; we’ll see.

If you missed the other episodes…click here and follow the linkage…

day 5: mission possible (I so wish I could add audio to play when you bring my page up…)

If you’ve followed these days, I’ll bet you know what we talked about on the last day of the conference…ta da!  Of course, the Gospel of John!  Again, I have a confession to make…all this time I’ve been a Mark and sometimes Matt girl.  Luke is too wordy for me and John…well I just didn’t get into the whole ascetic Jesus as much as I like the down-to-earth (no pun intended), historical perspective.  And to sing the praises of Sr. Barbara Reid, OP a little more…my perspecitves on, well, pretty much everything Gospel related, study of Scripture, etc…have been flipped over.  The name of the conference was: Women and the Word: Preaching with the Mind, Eyes, and Heart of a Woman”…I don’t think I’ll ever be able to read the Scriptures the same again–all for the better!  Seriously…she is amazing. 

We spent a lot of time on the Samaritan Woman.  You know the story, if not here are some cliff notes:  Women, well, Samaritan.  Jesus, tired, Jew.  Jews and Samaritans no talky talky.  Jesus thirsty, Samaritan woman bucket. They converse back and forth: 

I’m a Samaritan Woman!, J: Drink water of new life!, SW: What in the heck are you talking about?, J: I can’t believe you don’t know who I am…, SW: hmmm, maybe I am starting to get it, J: Uh Oh, my guys are coming; back go tell people, SW: Ok!  [runs to town] I’ll be right back with loads of people!

I’m quite confident that I’m not the only person in the world who thought this passage was about Jesus the “love one another” Jew who throws the law-book to the wind and talks to WOMEN and the OTHERS.  Jesus the model for social justice and humanity…I still believe that.  I never wondered or questioned the role of the Samaritan Woman though.  Isn’t it all about Jesus?  Well…she definately had something to say to us/me!

As in the other “episodes” of this “Katy visits the Dominicans” series, I’m not going to spend much time with the “academic” learning (although I could do that very easily), but attempt to connect the themes to my journey and discernment in these experiences. Sr. Barbara suggested we look at the Samaritan woman as a model of mission for us. Two key points I’ll reframe:  a) the dialog between Jesus and her was a “gradual self-revelation” that was mutual.  A quid pro quo, if you will; however, not in Latin and not with a sociopathic Anthony Hopkins.   b) As a person in mission–she experiences, goes back to the familiar, talks about it with her friends, and brings them back. 

Re-enter discernment, stage right…

Mission…this is important to me.  For me, it’s the “hutzpah” of a congregation (not to be confused with charism, which is a part of mission).  Why do a group of women, come together, choose to commit their lives together, and remain through the good, bad, and ugly for a life time, AND THEN…how does it continue on into the future?  That’s mission.  Each congregation has a mission to which the life, the energy, the membership, the fuel, the ministry…is born, nourished, grown, and moved forward.  If I can’t relate to a group’s mission or see myself entering into the mission with all my heart, then I can’t authentically commit my life to that group.  It’s an integrity/call/authenticity thing.  It’s a very important part of discernment for me…no matter what stage you’re in.  To what/to whom are you willing to commit your energy and passion to?  That’s the question I’m asking now.

Regarding the reinterpreted “model for mission”–this is classic Katy-now (I wish I could claim this process when I was a youngin’ looking at religious life, but alas…this wisdom is all new, uncharted territory) discernment.  It looks a little like this:

Katy looks at websites.  Katy tries to find mission statement on websites and is aware if it is prominent or not.  If Katy likes and can resonate, Katy moves on to experiences.  Katy returns home and will talk about it with people.  If Katy still experiences a nudge, a connection, Katy will return.

Sounds an awful lot like the woman in Samaria.  I know I write in jest often, and I do not  want to belittle the importance of her role as a model for mission–she risked, she entered into a mutual process transforming a relationship from perceived impossibility to friendship, and she returned after proclaiming the good news and brought more people with her. Her mission was to invite people to walk this journey of faith. 

Finally…the mutual conversation.  Dating (women, men, religious communities) is a lot like this conversation between Jesus and Samaritan woman.  It was a gradual process…they didn’t discuss “hot topics” right away.  Jesus wasn’t like, “Hey I’m the Messiah and you’re supposed to be a model for mission, I’m thirsty, give me something to drink and then go bring people back!”  They each gave a little at a time until the reached a comfort level.  The important thing for me was breaking open the mutuality of the conversation.

Dating religious communities can reflect this mutuality…you’re both trying to figure out if each other is a good fit.  Enter into the process with integrity and authenticity…it should work out the way it needs to for both parties.  Subtract that integrity and authenticity…people get hurt and quite frankly, why would you want to commit to something if one of you had a false sense of the other?

I’m not sure this reflection makes a concrete connection, but like I said, I’m still sloshing over the whole experience.  I’ll leave you with a few questions…feel free to comment/begin a dialog!

What kinds of “mission” taps your passion?  What do you look for when making a major commitment?  How do you engage in a risky relationship that still feels compelling enough to pursue?

Ah-ha…there’s my piece that’s floating around…How/Why would I engage in a risky relationship that feels compelling enough to pursue…that’s my discernment question right now.  Now I have to get to work too!

real.truth.experience.joy

day 4: mary, mary, quite contrary?

day 4: Mary’s not so sweet lullaby…aka Magnificat

(if you missed day 1, day 1.5, day 2…click on the previous episodes. If you missed day 3, I’m sorry, I wasn’t feeling well…so no day 3 for you.)

I’m learning some wonderful things: spiritual, personal, scriptural, practical… Allow me to share a few:
1. If you look younger than 35, no matter where you are, you become the resident techie and cell phone specialist.
2. I’m not the only one who has had a “biblical icon” crisis. (I’m currently in one with Sarah, Abe’s lady, but I’ve had my fair share of Mary confusion too)
3. Wearing tiaras at birthday parties are essential. (no matter who you are(even the prioress), what you do, or how old you are…you wear them! If you’re lucky, you get feathers!)
4. It’s ok to not participate, especially when you are choosing self-care (some people reading this should be applauding loudly…you know who you are)
5. Dominicans make the best cookies and lemon bars I have ever had. (Seriously, I should join for the life-time of these cookies. In fact one may have had an image of something holy on it and told me to become Dominican, but then I ate it, so I’m not sure. Hahaha)
6. Good preaching starts off with a story…I just so happen to have a few stories for you today! Yippee!

I’ve never been a Mary person. I mean, she’s ok…I’m not anti-Mary or anything. I didn’t get into statues, I had a couple rosaries over the years and didn’t really connect with that way of praying. I got to be the revered 2nd grader…the “chosen one”, if you will…to crown Mary in my communion dress. I didn’t really want to do it because my dress was so ugly (another funny story actually) and I didn’t see what the big deal was. But then girls were crying because they didn’t get chosen, so I thought I better suck it up and do it. Mary…momma of the big J…great!

When I got older I was more than disgusted with these frail, dressed in blue, hands perfectly folded gazing upward images. I decided she must be pretty boring and not much personality. I even went to a nun camp with a Marian order of nuns who love Mary more than anyone I’ve ever known. They even start all their prayers and meals with a Special Mary prayer! I thought I must be missing something.

Then when I became aware of women’s roles, treatment, impacts, etc in society…I perceived Mary as a strong woman and was irritated by those images even more so. I didn’t pay much attention to how she was written about in the scriptures, but I knew she wasn’t one of those “mouthy, renegade” women that we are warned about. I truly admired her faith and her ability to say “ok, angel…that sounds good”…or so I thought…

Then today, a newly inducted member on my “oh my gosh, you’re brilliant and an amazing teacher, and my hero/ine” list: Sr. Barbara Reid, OP gave us some new lenses and ways in which we could view Mary with the eyes, ears, and heart of a woman.

Story #2…I made a silent directed retreat right before I was received into the novitiate. My director gave me the assignment to write my own Magnificat. It was a great assignment! I was so happy…i praised God for EVERYTHING…just like Mary, in her innocent, frail, good girl way. Great…I’ve mastered the Magnificat….WRONG!

Sr. Barbara suggested that we take Mary from the perspective of her singing like a prophet. She helped us break open the Greek translation to come to the understanding that this was no “sweet lullaby” sung by a wimpy, blue veiled, child. Nope…now I’m intrigued and way into this.

Mary’s song could be interpreted as a counter-cultural ideology for her day. She urges, dreams about how life can be different for oppressed women in society. Naming God as “Lord” was sticking her tongue out at the emperor. It’s subversive, a dissent on the Roman Empire and treatment of women. Mary is basically saying “nan an nan an na na…you cant have me, I belong to Go-d, and I’m empowered…”. It’s her dream for new life…which coincidently is then taught to us in a more direct way by her son. As Sr. Barbara said, ” Well, when mom is singing songs like that at home, what political views would you work toward?” Now I’m in. Mary is awesome….and no wimpy Jew either!

So…relating back to my Kumbaya version of the Magnificat 5 years ago, I thought, what would I sing today, knowing this new lens and interpretation? That’s how I spent my afternoon, reflecting and composing my more historically accurate Magnificat.

Recently, someone asked me if I truly listened to God in prayer and in my formation. Um….yeah…that’s kind of a dumb question. She went on to tell me that she didn’t think I did listen or go deep enough because it was clear to her that God was not calling me to live religious life. I was furious! Let me be very clear…NO ONE, has the right to interpret and tell you how God is speaking to you in your heart. A vocation is a personal conversation with God that should be discerned with trusted people, yes, but no one can have the answer except you.

As if you can’t sense some of my passion for religious life…fire is an important symbol in my life. It speaks of me to intense passion and love. It is a God symbol for me. My Magnificat had to include fire. Between my rough spots the last couple years and trying to continue to move forward, frustrations with hierarchical structures, lack of integrity..etc…I, like Mary, stepped out of bounds to address God aflame in me today. Enjoy!

My spirit is ablaze with you, my God. All that I am, all that I will become, sings of the fire of your love in me.

God fires my life with love; Guides me to spread the fire among those who experience darkness, those who need warmth, the hungry. God persists with love beyond those who wish to snuff out my flame; from now on my spirit is ablaze with you, my God.

God loves through this and every moment, how blessed is the love of my God.

The fire of God’s love is a healing flame…sterilizing selfishness and greed, ego and ignorance; God torches misuses of power. Seemingly destructive, but not so, God blazes paths for new life.

God whisks away my abusers, fooled by the smoldering embers. With that same gentle breath, breathes me into a passionate blaze, recognizing the flame that once carried my spirit forward, responding to God’s call in me.

God’s flames envelop me and all those who walk their journeys with integrity. Fueled with this profound message, my flame rises. Today, her embers have transformed into quiet, gentle flickers in the night air. Trust provides her with the promises of blazing new trails again, raised up by those who are likewise impassioned to walk with integrity and passion in their hearts.

Only you, God, can light the fire within me. Fire my life with your love, my God. My fire has been lit and tended to by your love and persistence. My heart’s fire is not determined by ones who lack integrity and justice, nor those who use fire to destroy. Only for you and your people who burn for justice and with joy is this song being sung.

My spirit is ablaze with you, my God. All that I am, all that I will become, sings of the fire of your love in me.

real.truth.experience.joy

day 2: the cross and the call

(if you missed the previous episodes in this series click here:  Part 1Part 1.5)

Today we looked at Mark’s Gospel (with a side of Matthew every now and then), putting into action our new lenses with which we can read the Scriptures through a woman’s perspective.

Now, I’m going to be honest here…praying with Scripture is not usually my thing. Too many words, I end up analyzing it instead of letting it enter me on a spiritual level. Give me images, music, nature, art, clay…anytime, but Scripture…mmmm I don’t think so. Well…one of the tenants of Dominican life is: study. Now, I love school. I love learning and I actually don’t mind studying most of the time, but to integrate that into my spiritual life/religious charism??? Hmmmm….maybe this Dominican thing isn’t for me. Enter, stage left…the voice of a few dear people who have walked with me: “make room for the spirit, listen, notice, experience…”. Oh, yeah! How could I let that slip?

Yesterday, we looked at frameworks (ok, she called them hermeneutics…) on how we might read Scripture in different ways, questions we might ask, imagine, etc. It totally made sense to me and I actually thought this studying scripture business isn’t so bad!

Today, we took learning into practice (sign of a great teacher, and Sr. Barbara Reid is an amazing teacher!) and broke open Mark and the women we encounter and the ones we don’t. I could write pages of what I learned and discussed today, but I’m sticking with relating my noticing and experience to discernment.

Call stories–

Who knew there was a framework for Biblical call stories (give me a framework and I’ll be happy!)?
So, it’s pretty simple for the New Testament : Jesus sees someone, invites them, commissions them, there are signs, Holy Spirit. Or my interpretation: “Yep, I want her”, “Hey you, come with me!”, “Why don’t you try…”, [person still doesn’t get it] “oh! A sign!” “hahaha…we got her!”

I was thinking about my initial call story in relationship to this pattern. Mine sounded more like this:

Nun I know: hmmmm she would make a good sister.
Nun I know (NIK): “Katy, have you ever thought about being a sister?”.
K: ” are you out of your mind?”
NIK: “Why don’t you come to this concert/program/over for dinner…you should really think about becoming a sister…”.
K: “ummmm…no.”. [go back and repeat over and over for several years…].
In Katy’s head: wow! I really feel at home here! Wow! I can be myself! Wow! I’ve never felt closer to God! Na?..none of these are signs!
FINALLY…Katy: “I can’t NOT DO anything else with my life…”

There were the initial thought, many, many, many invitations, many, many, many “signs”, finally an acceptance and awareness of letting the Holy Spirit fill me. It sure does sound like its following the framework! Much like discernment, figuring out your call, responding to it, and living it is a process, not something you check off your todo list.

So what does this mean for me in the here and now? I’ve learned a little since I started acknowledging my call nudges 14 years ago. That makes me happy! When I’m in the trenches or a dark space, I can’t always see the learning or the growth, that frustrates me. Just allowing myself to come here with the expectation of noticing and experiencing (as opposed to signing up and movin on the fast track) is a big step for me. I’m creating a space within for the spirit’s movement.

We also talked about the interpretation of “taking up your cross” from the eyes of women. Without over generalizing(that’s not my intent), often in patriarchal cultures this can be perceived by/about women as “embrace suffering…and suffer in silence”; the differences between denial of self/self-denial and service/servitude. We broke this open pretty deeply today.

One of the questions for reflection was: How do you understand taking up the cross in your circumstance? What came to me surprised me…for me, freely accepting the “cost” of being a disciple, and embracing myself in order to give myself to where God is calling me, said to me, ” Stay on the journey…”

Stay on the journey? Really? What kind of a cross is that? My journey of love (my vow theme, by the way) has paid the price of my heart…in the most joyful of senses and in the most agonizing of situations. It took me a lonnnnngggg time to acknowledge and respond to where I am being called, when I responded freely and wholeheartedly…I knew. I just knew. Then to be hurt, I questioned the journey. I was angry I responded. I ached. I still question the cost of my investment.

Here’s a creative piece I did a few months ago. The text says: she wondered where she belonged and if it was worth searching

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I think risking to continue on the journey with an openness to notice and experience is what I’m being invited to now. I won’t know the cost or the outcome or where I’ll land, but I’m choosing to accept this freely.

real.truth.experience.joy