Resistance

Exactly two years ago I was traveling Europe through Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam.  On November 16, 2014 I went through the VerzetsMuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum). It was an enlightening experience. The permanent exhibit space is laid out in a chronological path through time from the 1930’s to 1950’s with a focus on the 1940-45 years during WWII and the Netherlands occupation by Nazi Germany. From the Museum Website: “The Resistance is not about heroes and villains, but ordinary people who found themselves in a time of scarcity and oppression (with) dilemmas and had to make choices.”

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Concerns of the 1930’s -Display from the VerzetsMuseum, Amsterdam.

The displays are made up of everyday artifacts from the daily lives of the Dutch people during that time. The exhibit lays out a story of difficult choices that had to be made in the face of fear of retaliation, hunger and scarcity, and societal pressure. I walked into the Museum believing I would be one who would resist Nazism at all costs. I walked through the exhibit with a realization and a new understanding of what that would truly cost an individual. I was also surprised to find that many of the same issues facing society in the 1930’s could describe the current climate we are still experiencing. Issues regarding the separation of church and state, issues of racism, issues of severe economic differences between the haves/have-nots. Issues of what it means to be patriotic. Issues of what certain choices can mean in the long story of history. How decisions to resist, adapt, ignore or collaborate all play out over time when faced with policies that oppress any segment of society; be that a certain race, religious faith, gender or even a free press.

 

One of the displays struck a particular chord with me, as a textile artist.  It showed the simple everyday embroideries of Jacoba Maria Blom-Schuh of the Hague. She refused to give money to the Winter Help fund until the queen returned to the Netherlands. Because of her refusal she was imprisoned for three months. During her time in prison the SS guards gave her their socks to mend. She played ignorant and sewed them shut! In reality this was her form of further resistance to the Nazi cause. She later embroidered imagery from her time in prison onto these textile pieces (I call them artwork!) that are on display in the museum.

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The Story of Maria Schuh- Display at the VerzetsMuseum, Amsterdam

I found that reminiscing about my experience at the VerzetsMuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum) to be very cathartic today, one week following our 2016 Presidential Election. This past week the media has been filled with many differing opinions on how America will move forward following this contentious campaign season. Many questions are being brought to light. I return to my experience of walking through that museum, being offered choices and questions along the path (through time): Faced with different situations would you Resist? Adapt? Collaborate? or Persecute? You may think you know the answers, but when faced with pressure to Adapt by your family and friends and even the leadership of your country, it can be difficult to hold your ground for what you truly believe is Right. You may find that in the face of severe hunger your Will is broken. You may find that is seems more loving and unifying to Collaborate with others who hold a very different View of what they would like to see their world look like. You could find that to get what you want or Need, it is easy to turn a blind eye to the Persecution of others. Or worse, you could find you are the instigator of that abuse somehow justifying it as a means to the end you would like.

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Display of the Resistance Embroideries of Maria Schuh

This is a wake up call for me as I step into each day going forward, to be aware that my individual choices have an effect on my community and country as a Collective. I intend to take off my blinders to the plight and ideas of those who may not share my vision. To realize what I can do as I am faced with tough choices. To ask myself the tough questions:  Am I ignoring the oppression of a segment of our society, and making light of it? Am I looking to find answers that work for all of us, or just for myself?  Am I adapting to the new normal because it seems to be the peaceful thing to do, despite the concern that it could be causing others pain? These are the questions and many more that I (and All of US) will be faced with in the coming days and years. I know from walking through the Resistance Exhibit they are difficult questions to answer in the moments we are faced with them. These are difficult decisions to make. It is always easier to say in hind-site what should have been done. It is also easier to say in advance what you think you would do walking into a situation, than what you would actually do faced with the real consequences of your decisions.

One thing I know I will continue to do is use my Voice. My Voice comes in many different Forms. I will use my Words, speaking and writing freely as my U.S. Rights as a citizen allow.  I will use my Dollars, as very often speaking with the wallet is one of the most effective methods of communication. And I will primarily use my Talents and Actions (they speak louder than words!) to speak up when I see something harmful and/or hateful to others. I encourage you who would like to hold on to the good in the world and continue to make it better for All to also use your voices and your dollars and especially your talents to call out and continue to shine the light on situations that do not resonate with that vision. Make your daily actions and choices speak to the vision of the world you want to see. We are all an aspect of the Great Creator, what we envision is the first step to what we create here. We can not turn a blind eye to what we see as abusive, mean, selfish, divisive, or inhumane on an individual level or as a collective. We can not “be ignorant”, but just like Maria Schuh’s example we can all “pretend ignorance” (or use other methods) to resist wrong doing, and use A Stitch In Time (to) Save.

Please Note: I personally do not define resistance as a way to obstruct or protest any actions or ideas of the new administration just for the sake of hatred of “the other side”. It is a method of standing up for the protection and against the persecution of the Rights of All others (no “sides”).  I do not equate the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President to the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich. I am only making observations and pointing out a way of assessing personally how I choose to move forward as a citizen. History (and herstory) is only as helpful as what you learn from it.  Other than that, I tend not to look backward (unless I am reminiscing about a lovely European vacation), but aim to go forward doing my best to create a society that protects the Rights and Freedoms for ALL.

 

 

A Void Dance or Avoidance?

Here it is the end of summer.  Labor Day here in the United States.  As I reflect back over the last 3 months I can say I spent a lot of time in both avoidance and a Void Dance.  I believe it is ok to spend time in either, the important thing is to know which place you are in.

Avoidance:  The act of avoiding something.

A Void Dance:  Time spent in the quiet space between the “stuff” of life.

I have recently decided to relocate my business and my art studio after many years in the same location.  It means sorting, clearing, organizing and packing the “stuff” of my life.  I have spent much of the time between other work obligations this summer doing just that.  Sorting.  Cleaning.  Organizing.  Packing.   At times I’ve been doing it to avoid doing other things I’d rather not be doing and sometimes I am doing other things just to avoid doing the difficult work of deciding what to “do” with the stuff.   But either way, it’s been a therapeutic process.

As an artist you learn to appreciate the voids or negative space.  It’s not always the matter that matters.  (a good thing to remind myself of, as I purge and de-clutter)

20160903_202301The voids are where the fertile earth feeds the roots.  The voids are where the flames lick and spit between the burning logs.  The voids are where the oxygen is.  The voids are what make the beauty of the antique lace.  The voids are what lets the soft breeze come through the screen door.  The voids are the blue sky between the clouds.  The voids are where the damp sand squeezes up between your toes on the beach.  The voids are where you run your fingers through soft hair.  The voids are where the sun peaks through the branches of the tree canopy.  And the voids are where and when we dance.  

I hope as you enjoy your last days of this summer you find time to Dance in the Void.  It is this space and time between the stuff of life that is important.  It is different than avoidance.   It is this fertile space that feeds our creativity and our souls.  It feeds what matters.

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“A Void Dance” artwork by Pamela Penney (c) 2015

 

 

 

Dead Wood Metaphor

20160601_142841One of my first thoughts this morning as I was putting clean dishes away in my kitchen and frustrated that I didn’t have enough cabinet space for everything was, “You must sacrifice some things in order to have other things that you want or would like”.   Whoa, where did that limiting belief come from?  Yes, I know it’s been hiding in the dark corners of my thoughts for at least 3 decades, possibly all 5 decades of my life!  Why is it there?  Why can’t I believe that “I can have it all”?  It may feel like my truth.  But, it isn’t a TRUTH.  How do I shift that into a thought pattern that serves my highest good, changes my personal path to abundance and is aligned to the belief that as a Spark of the Divine I am worthy of “having it all”?  No sacrifices needed.

Yesterday a fast-moving thunderstorm moved through our community.  Many branches and even whole trees came down around town.  They called it a microburst.  A tree came down across the street from our home landing on the neighbor’s house, severed at the base of the trunk.  Today the village tree service is making fast progress to clear the debris.  As I was meditating this morning and listening to the wood shredding going on nearby I realized that my limiting beliefs are like “dead wood”.  They need to be blown away periodically.  Sometimes it takes a pretty strong microburst to do that.  We may inspect our thoughts and “prune” little bits of beliefs that are no longer needed, no longer feel TRUE.  Ideas that may have served us well in the past, but are now holding us back.  Thoughts that may have kept us safe, or were commonly held by our family, friends, community.  But now they no longer work for our current situation, our continued growth.  Pruning can lead to better health, greater vitality.  But still, like the tree across the street from me, we miss the fact that the trunk has a huge portion that is rotting.  And until a strong microburst comes through, it stays hidden.  Buried deep.

Yes, we can prune and blow away the dead wood, but there is one more hidden lesson here and it came from the humming of the wood chipper.  You must transform that dead wood.  Mulch it.  Make it something new.  Something that aids and nurtures the “further growth”.  Make it block the weeds.  Make it feed the roots of new growth.  Rotting wood is necessary.  Don’t just blow it away and pretend you don’t need it.

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Work In Progress:  “Can You See The Forest for the Trees?”  (c)2016-Pamela Penney

So, today as I work to finish a piece I’ve been creating for quite a while I contemplate what needs “pruning” from my thoughts and where, if anyplace, am I hiding “rotting wood”.  (My maiden name was Wood, so this feels “real” to me)  How can I examine and transform the thoughts that no longer serve my continued growth?  How do I use them to feed the change and transformation of my life?   What needs a bigger storm to push it out? The “working title” of this piece has been “can you see the forest for the trees?”  How do my little thoughts keep me from seeing the big picture?   How do I mulch my little thoughts and beliefs to create fertilizer for my growth?

I believe that I will weather the storms and time will tell.  

New Belief of Transformation:  I am Worthy and Can Have It ALL!

Flight

Well, I knew this day was coming.  My baby robins left the nest this week.  Today it is suddenly very quiet in my studio.  I did not realize how frequently I heard the babies chirp, chirp as Mom and Dad Robin flew in with a meal.  I found great joy in seeing the reaction of people as they walked down the street and noticed them so close to the sidewalk.  One evening a family watched for several minutes asking each other if they were “real”, and yes, “I think I saw one blink!”.  And  I found it facinating just how many people walked by oblivious to the miracle of nature just inches from their face, because they were too busy on their phone to notice.  On Monday the four little robins had gotten so big they barely fit in the nest and I knew the time was near.  I also could tell that Mom and Dad Robin knew it too.  They became pretty aggressive at “dive bombing” anyone who came too near or lingered for too long.  I was not in my studio when they took their first flights.  But I don’t believe the Mother Robin pushes them out of the nest.  No, they spent many days stretching and testing their wings.  They just finally got too big for the nest and had no other option but to fly.

I too am feeling a little like that.  Like my current nest doesn’t quite fit anymore.  So, what to do?  I just keep testing and spreading my wings.  When the time is right, I have faith,  I will be ready to FLY!  Enjoy this little video on my Facebook Page of my babies the day before they left me.  See it HERE.

And, I urge you to slow down, stop and enjoy the miracles of nature just inches from your face everyday.  It puts things in perspective and teaches lessons about life you just can’t learn on your computer and phone screens.  For a great way to learn how to do that I recommend my friend Sallie Wolf‘s book, “The Robin Makes A Laughing Sound, a birder’s journal”.  It has great lessons for watching, documenting and enjoying birds and the natural world around you.  Perfect for children (and adults!).

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The Robin Makes A Laughing Sound, by Sallie Wolf

 

 

 

What Basket Are Your Eggs In?

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Felted Shaker Eggs

Today I worked on wet-felting a dozen + a few (egg-tras in case of breakage) of my “shaker eggs”.  They are an item on my etsy.com shop (See them HERE) that a woman custom ordered this week for her daughter’s 1st birthday party to give as favors for the other children.  I filled plastic eggs with a variety of beads (so that each egg has a different sound), wrapped them in wool and then with a lot of wetting, soaping and rubbing I created these joyous sounding, rattles that I am thrilled will be adding to the fun of a child’s first party.  This was very therapeutic work today, as the last few days have been busy getting larger artwork finished for shows and deadlines.  This is a little more “mindless” and that can be good every once in a while.

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Basketree by Karen Gubitz

As I rubbed and felted these eggs I stared out the window at Momma Robin sitting in the nest she and Daddy Robin made a little over a week ago.  Everyday I watch them come and go, following the calls of nature.  They picked a particularly interesting spot to set up “housekeeping”.  They chose to build their nest within a woven sculpture by artist Karen Gubitz.  She calls these works her “Basketrees”.  It is a perfect shelter for a bird’s nest.

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Momma Robin warming the nest.

I want to be like the birds. They trust in their shelter. They trust there will be an adequate food supply nearby for their offspring. They trust in each other, the daddy showing up when needed to give the female her breaks from nest sitting. They trust in their environment, in this world.

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Daddy Robin guards the nest while Momma takes a break.

If humans are the higher intelligent life forms, why don’t they create an environment they can trust,  a world they can trust to provide safety, sustenance, blessings, peace, and joy for themselves and their future generations?  I bless the shaker eggs as I send them off to a group of one year old children somewhere in Kansas…Maybe these eggs can be a spark to create this future world we can TRUST.  At least they will spark a little JOY.  That is the basket I put my eggs into because I don’t think that kind of world is just for the birds.

Letters from the Future

The following is a hypothetical letter.  I wrote it myself as though my sister has written it to me 26 years from now on my birthday.  I wrote it as an exercise for a Circle of transitioning Women led by Circle Tender, Susan Lucci that I am a part of.  The assignment was to imagine a celebration near the end of your life and ask some of the guests to speak on your behalf about your life and how you fulfilled your “Life’s Desires”.  In light of the issues our world is facing in the NOW this was very therapeutic for me.  Here is the hypothetical letter from my sister:

Happy Birthday Pam!  Can you believe that you are 80 years old and I am just a couple of weeks from being 79?  Who would have thought this is how the world would be in 2042?  Oh yeah, you would have!  You always believed and you were right, that the world and the humans living here would begin to transform and shift when we were in our early 50’s.  That we could overcome the issues of poverty and climate change during our lifetime.  I always loved calling you on the phone, (remember those crazy old devices necessary to communicate?)  and hearing about the books you were reading about the Unity Consciousness and our Higher Selves.  And that ET’s are Us!

Yes, I remember when you were younger that you would get frustrated and discouraged that you weren’t sure how to bring your value and implement your desires in the world.  And you were disappointed that your work didn’t really support yourself.   That you always had to rely on your husband’s income for the survival of your family.  But remember, that was back when we had the old money and banking system.  You were one of the few who believed we could find a better way to “survive”.  Oh yeah, not survive, but THRIVE and flourish.  And that abundance was a “basic right” that All Humans were born to on our planet Earth.  And you were correct.  Just see how fast that concept came to be accepted and implemented?  And your energy, faith, and creative vision were a part of our collective ascension into this new flourishing life for ALL.  You helped others SEE that this was possible.  You helped me see it, even though it meant I had to transform my own business and livelihood away from helping people file their annual income tax returns. (And pay the taxes!  Oh, remember how horrible it was for people to have to do that every year?)  The fact that there are so few people suffering and “in need” now, and that we no longer pay for WAR and military expenses as a nation has really made it so much easier for people.  And I much preferred helping people decide what to do with their abundance and decide how to best share their wealth and “pay it forward” as they used to say!

Oh, and remember that summer evening under the stars when our children were young and we were sitting around the bonfire in my backyard?  The kids were running around in the dark playing on their “walkie-talkie radios”  (Talk about old-time communications!)  You pretended to talk to them like an alien from “Planet Micro-Brew”.  A few years later micro-breweries were everywhere!  And then a few years after that the Earth made peaceful and mutually beneficial contact with Advanced Life out in the Universe.  It was like you could SEE it that night looking out at the far away stars above our fire.  You also had a way of looking into the Flames of the Fire for “Life’s Answers”, too.

I thank you so much for being my older sister, my friend, guide, mentor and visionary.  You’ve always been there when I’ve needed you.  It’s so nice now to be psychically connected so that we don’t need to worry about the phone to communicate anymore.  Now, whenever we need to we can hear, feel and KNOW how much the Other One cares and loves us.  Even when we are apart.  Oh yeah, there is no such thing as “apart”.  We are each our individual spark of the Unity that is Life.  Thank you for making the Soul Contract to be the spark that guided me into this life with you in it.  As you Know, I love you.

Your Sister, B~

Note:  I went searching in my gift card pile for the perfect card to imagine having this letter written on and I found this.  The artwork is by Helena Nelson-Reed.  The Synchronicity of this card’s message goes beyond “perfect” to DIVINE!

 

Adam, Eve and Lilith

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Adam, Eve & Lilith (c)2016 Pamela Penney

Shame: Part 2

I believe every book contains a lesson and we are drawn to the lessons we need to learn.  I can learn a lesson from a book written by a comedian that is read by several hundred people or from the Bible the most read book ever.   (See Shame: Part One)  But I believe that the Bible has been read by more people for the reason that it must hold clues that are needed by more people in order to learn and evolve.  The story of the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis holds the keys to our fateful beginnings whether you look at it as “fact” or as mythic archetypal lore.  I also believe it holds the keys to our collective (mother earth) healing and our return to Paradise.

Well, as I’ve gone further into the story of the Garden of Eden I’ve stumbled into the story of Lilith who in a brief mention in Genesis is a female figure who was created from the dirt like Adam.  Because she was created the same way as Adam she saw herself as an equal to Adam which did not please him.  So she was either “banished” (or perhaps escaped on her own) “to the East”.  Some versions of the story turn her into the water of the river or a willow tree.  And she is also symbolized by an owl.  Many versions over the centuries have “demonized” her.  Eve on the other hand was created from Adam’s rib and therefore was not his equal, but was there to be his “help-mate”.  And as most of you know she tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit which meant that Adam and Eve then realized they were “naked” and also “ashamed” of their sin.

As I interpret this tale I see an Adam who wanted someone to love and be his partner.  His version of “love” was not fulfilled by Lilith as she was not willing to “hold” his shadows (shame).   She wanted to be responsible to her-self and leave Adam to be responsible for his-self.   In comes Eve who in her quest to be “all loving” is willing to be the one to bear the weight of shame for Man.  This to Adam feels like “true love”.  He can prove his love to her by taking control and she can prove her love to him by submission to his love and willingness to overlook his shortcomings.  They both think this seems “unconditional” but in reality this love contains a great many “conditions”.

Now I’ll get personal.  (Read this next section as though I have both an inner Eve and inner Lilith). I mentioned in my last post that this month of April has brought me to a time of reflecting on my own relationships.  Two years ago, April 2014 I came to a moment in time when my inner “Lilith” expressed herself.  I had reached a limit to “how much I could bear”.  My “Adam” was projecting his wounds onto my inner “Eve”.  She had for many years (in an attempt at unconditional love) been willing to let the little digs slide along with the covert (and sometime overt) attempts to control her.  She knew on some level her “Adam” loved her and didn’t believe the things he said.  But, my “Lilith” finally woke up and showed me that living with this was not “love” in the highest sense.  My “Adam” also knew on some level that he was not acting “loving” and that continued a cycle of feeling “less than worthy” of love from anyone, especially his “Eve”.  This became a never ending circle of shame and projection.  So, out comes my “Lilith”.  On Easter Sunday of 2014 she said good-bye and walked away(with the prayer, “forgive them for they know not what they do”).  I (as Lilith) was finally able to leave this unhealthy relationship because I came to the decision from a place of love and wanting the best for both my “Adam” and my “Eve”.  My “Lilith” had no plans to go back, she wanted respect, independence and equality.   But with several days of reflection my Adam reached out.  A phone call.  A conversation.  And this is where the space for healing came in.  My Lilith came back.  And that is where we leave the story of the Garden of Eden and look toward a future Paradise.

But first I must share a bit more of my reflections.  Not just over what healing has occurred over the last two years and that process, but further back to the roots of my personal “Eden”.  I have a recollection of complaining as a child about my older brother “picking on me”.  He was almost 6 years older than me and much bigger and stronger.  I was told something to the effect of “that is the only way he knows how to show you attention (love)”.   Oh, to my young mind, that made sense.  Because surely no one who loves you would hurt you, unless they didn’t know how to show you real love.  And in that moment my inner “Eve” entered and I was willing to hold both his shame and mine, because of course I loved him.

When “Lilith” returns (in my personal story) she doesn’t condone the behaviors of Adam or of Eve for that matter.  She forgives them and gives new understanding and strength to their love, helping them to heal their misunderstood (wounded and immature) understanding of love.  Ok, in my original thoughts about my personal story I wanted to believe that my inner “Lilith” had the strength to return on her own.  Upon further reflection I have come to realize she did some transformation during her time away.  Jesus “returned” as his “Christed” self.  I now think that my “Lilith” returned as her more evolved and  “Christened” self.  (Maybe the reason I left during the Easter season to return a few days later???)  I have found that I am able to carry a new “vibration” over the last two years.  My “Adam” can and does too.  When I feel either of us slipping into old patterns and behaviors I pull up an image in my mind of a large fierce bird sitting on my shoulder.  The energy shifts.  My boundary is respected, his emotions are appropriately expressed.  I had thought that this bird was a hawk, but now that I have gone into this story I see it is probably the Owl, the symbol of Lilith.  An Owl is fierce like a Hawk, but has the additional attribute of Wisdom. (Note:   I by no means claim to be completely “evolved”, but I am aware that my life has transformed and new levels of understanding and wisdom have shown up rapidly once I walked through  the fear of being “banished” and claimed my personal power.)

In the last few decades Lilith has become a symbol of feminism.  But, I think that version of feminism is still missing a piece and that is the reason feminism isn’t the complete “medicine” for this old sick world (Patriarchy).   According to the Gene Keys book by Richard Rudd, the “Opening of the Third Seal” occurs through Universal Love.  “This seal heals the human wound of shame.  And it is out of this feeling of deep shame that the whole world of hierarchy and competitiveness has come about. “   I feel that the key to unconditional and universal love is not just through the balancing of the masculine and feminine (Adam and Lilith as equals)  as many have in recent years proclaimed, but rather in healing the relationship of all three archetypes:  Adam, Eve and Lilith.  We all yearn for the autonomy, strength and independence of Lilith, but fear the consequences. Can we survive on our own?  Will we be lonely?  (I know those thoughts went through my mind when I walked out).  But the truth is we do not need to live alone as Lilith did in the original story.  We can be strong individuals within unconditionally loving relationships. It also doesn’t require we make a choice between Lilith and Eve.  The “Evolved” and “Christened” Lilith must return and embrace the Shadow of Adam and Eve’s shame.  She has the strength to transmute that immature version of love and transform the relationship.  It takes effort, understanding and the Wisdom and Strength of an Owl.  But if we are to heal our Collective, this is where the answers lie.  Invite  your “Lilith” back home.  Make that call, open that dialog.  You may find she can now embrace Eve (and Adam), that she has Eve-olved.  You many find she has the Universal Christ Love within her now to allow you to let go of your shame in being who you truly are.  You are not a victim.  You have the power  within yourself to heal your original wounds, with the Faith that you will be Loved Unconditionally for the Unique and Divine Spark within you.  The health of one Cell affects  the health of the Collective, micro to macro.

Much gratitude to all of you who witness my story , by sharing this without “shame” I further my personal  growth and healing.  I dream that I’ll see you soon in Paradise…..until then enjoy my art process.  The Stitches in Time give me plenty of time to contemplate this Story and the Lessons it contains.

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