Author of "Recipe For A Green Life," C.S. Sherin, MA, honors life, relationships, and the sacred through storytelling, poetry, art, and photography. C.S. also creates engaging educational content across genres; and provides expert editing, research, and proofreading services. WildClover.org is the online polestar for C.S.'s creative expertise and services.
You can also find CS on IG and Medium @cs_sherin, and on Twitter @windywildclover.
I have been posting a lot of my photography and art on Instagram lately. Peony season seems a good time to post some flower photography here for a change.
Photography is something that I do as an artist, yes, but also as a way to meditate on and appreciate overlooked beauty and wonder around us each day. It begins with taking the photos with an open mind, persistence, and patience. Then, through the editing process, I begin to appreciate what is captured on a whole new level. Editing photos is a part of what makes this practice an art for me. Most of all, photography draws me close to nature in a way that goes beyond the moments of being there.
I am not going out with a tripod and big expensive lenses. I am not a studio type photographer. I have always done this in a minimalist way. That is true to who I am and how I approach life. An acquaintance of mine who gets into photography, after looking at my photography, asked what I use. I revealed my little camera, and they were shocked and said it was miraculous that I get the photos I do “with just that”. The difference between me and a studio photographer is that my core is studio artist, not photographer. I want to create art in moments and in contemplation of what is, and what arises afterwards. Most of all, when I go out to photograph, it is therapeutic for my spirit and heart, and I am able to let go and be.
Peonies are a favorite of mine to photograph. Did you know that peonies have been cultivated for over 2,000 years and can live for 100 years or more? Not only are they simply gorgeous in full bloom, they represent the ability to thrive and bloom where you are planted. Once planted, it is not recommended to move a peony plant. They do best in full sun, but some put them in semi-shade to help the gorgeous blooms last just a bit longer. From my observances, they seem to do well with a subtle structure (like a tomato cage type thing) to hold up the plant when the heavy blooms come about. Also, planted in full sun they do, indeed, seem taller and happier than those in part-shade. Without further delay, here are my peony photos from yesterday.
Isn’t just seeing a photo of peonies a real mood booster? Flowers truly are living symbols of beauty, love, and mysteries of life.
If you would like to order a full resolution archival quality print or to buy a digital copy of any of these, please contact me.
I awaken. I arise each morning. We all do. At first seeing, what is not seen — is the blank page. Upon it are wisps, remnants of elusive, felt dreams from sleeping. They haunt the unseen blank page like vivid watercolor drops that fade as they dry. Each new day, when we arise, pages have already been written… in dreaming, and other days, and then we awaken again upon a new page where we write our lives by living, breathing and being.
Blinking eyes, happily taunt-stretched limbs, the loud yawn of awakening, the guttural bellow of the flexed stomach releasing…
we may wake up with expectations and a schedule. We may be woken up by interruptions and demands. We may arise alone or crowded, or something in between… and we may want it, or not want it. We may wake up peaceful and content, afraid and worried, or neutral, or excited, or confused.
Still we wake up living and so we write upon the blank page of morning. Each blank page becomes filled with feelings, thoughts, actions, words — the seen and the unseen, and by choice and by no-choice — consciously and unconsciously.
For me, in the past year and three months, ever since a kitten was unexpectedly adopted… every morning, my blank page begins with the most persistent shower of warmth and affection — a cuddle like no other on my tip-top upper area of the chest with a complete nuzzling-in of a little face deep into my neck, where he purrs… and then sleeps, if I let him there long enough. He is soft as a marshmallow and just as sweet. He is a being who comes to me like a patiently timed magnet instantly attracted — upon my awakening. I do not write this on my page exactly, it is a repeating miracle shining upon me by a little mysterious being of love, brought here by my life partner. So, our pages can change in certain ways that are beyond us alone.
This young cat’s constancy, his persevering affection and gratitude changes my page of awakening. He softens and warms my voice and has been applying a medicine to my heart each morning that it has not known in this way and sorely needed at this time.
The unseen blank page and what I write upon it is up to me… because it is me… living and breathing. No one else can actually write it. Though others may influence and affect it. A life partner doesn’t write my pages for me but he writes beside me, and I with him. We fall asleep holding hands, waking up we are next to or near each other. Yet, everyone too… because everything and everyone are connected to all that is. We are all connected. If I forget that… my page can lose its strength. And if I forget that I am writing my own life by living it and that no one else can… then my page can lose its magic. That has happened before. That was something I wrote on pages of my life at one time. And… it is not happening anymore. Today I am writing a poem, as the silence holds my breath, writing, and being in spaciousness. That, for now, is all there is in this moment upon the page.
There is one more thing to say about all of this… shining sunshine upon others may not write upon their pages exactly, because it is our own pages we write on. Yet, what it does, is it uplifts and warms, it comforts, relaxes, and inspires, and can help to welcome in all kinds of goodness and healing.
I originally wrote this piece for Mother’s Day, but I don’t want to limit this thought and action to one day. This is for everyone, and for every day.
This is a time of emergency on many fronts, and I have found myself returning again and again to the spiritual and mental/emotional aspects in order to remain well, so that effective activism is still possible. Consider the following:
Mother’s Day (just a couple days ago) is a painful day for many people. The reasons why are numerous: a mentally ill and/or abusive mother, a mother who died too soon, wanting to be a mother but not being able to, a cold and distant mother, and many other complications and tragedies related to “mother”. And many have wonderful experiences with mother, the woman. Yet, the mother energy may also have taken the form of a sister, grandmother, aunt, friend, or single parent father.
I want to make something clear: it is necessary for us to reclaim healthy mother energy for ourselves — no matter what the actual mom and motherhood has been. We need to realize how we may have found healing and understanding of the healthy and loving mother energy from others — regardless of their age, gender, or relation to us. There are many ways that we can now welcome and honor the positive, life-giving love of healthy mother energy and being, which this world needs so badly.
Giving birth is sacred. And, there is no real need to literally give birth to a living being in order to be a mother to someone. This is also sacred. And it crosses imaginary lines of gender and species. Everyone is capable of mothering, being a mother, and providing mother blessings to others. We need this energy now. We all have the capacity to provide fierce and healthy mother energy to ourselves and others — and the Earth as a whole.
This is sacred, mighty energy that is the foundation for everything that is real and good in this life and world! This is a way of being and sharing that teaches, nourishes, protects, guides, sustains, and risks all to protect and promote health, growth, right action. This is the energy of both unconditional love and transformative love. Together they provide wise and fair discipline, while weaving inspiration and practical goodness throughout — in the midst of both hardships and ease.
At this time in history, women and girls require a special acknowledgement, protection, and respect. Women and girls are under attack at this time. Honoring and wielding this healthy mother energy for all who need it, is more important than ever.
This is the mother energy that refuses to cling, smother, or treat her children as something to live through or own. This is mother energy that refuses to rule by rejection, manipulation, or cruelty. This mother energy is a truly radiant energy that promotes and sustains: health, sustenance, and a consistent presence. The true mother energy can be terrifying in its knowing and seeing, and an absolute life-line in its ability to comfort, teach, persevere and instill goodness in her children — while respecting their unique expressions, needs, privacy, space, and paths.
Mother energy is also the planet, Mother Earth — Terra Mater, and all of her ecosystems, biodiversity, diversity, and balance of beings. This energy is also under attack and in great danger at this time. We are called now to hold in our minds, hearts, and actions ways in which to honor, act with, and preserve healthy mother energy.
It is essential that we stand up for and take concrete and practical actions to protect female rights, so that they always have say over their own bodies, and to honor females as equal — with equal rights and equal birthrights. In truth, mother Earth gives the birthrights to all beings born here: free, clean, accessible, and healthy air, water, and soil; shelter, quality of life, well-being, abundance, balance, space and freedom to be, live and grow; and health. Corruption and greed is what pollutes, destroys, monopolizes, and monetizes it. Just like females, the Earth requires our concrete and practical actions to ensure protection and preservation of her biodiversity, biosphere, balance, and health.
Mother’s Day and healthy, loving, strong mother energy is for everyone. The potential for this mother energy is in everyone. We all carry the capacity for true loving mother energy that has the power to sustain and nourish life, and encourage it further: with love, wisdom, and natural magic. Men and boys just as desperately require this energy and the preservation, respect, and protection of it. Men and boys also have the capacity to respectfully and positively wield the healthy mother energy.
I have posted two pages on my website that support the mental/emotional and spiritual aspects required in order to face these challenges, and to wield the healing and healthy energy of mother for self and others.
Speaking personally, I need to practice mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in order to be more effective in my activism. It helps me, and stands for what I believe and seek. This is why I share, in hopes that it will welcome, help and support others. Here are the links to these pages: Heart Mantra and Loving-Kindness Mantras.
May my mother be free from bondage and suffering. May my mother be well. May your mother be free from bondage and suffering. May your mother be well. May the mother within be free from bondage and suffering. May the mother within be well. May our Earth mother be free from bondage and suffering. May our Earth mother be well. May all that is be well.
Adaptation of the Metta Meditation (Loving-Kindness mantras)
Dreaming is a big part of our lives, whether we realize it or not. Most of the time, people experience five different segments of dreaming during a night’s sleep. Remembering dreams can sometimes be challenging. When remembered, finding meaning for some dreams can be elusive, if not mystifying.
Dream dictionaries provide cookie-cutter type definitions for dreams. That is far, far and away from what ongoing personal dream work processing and recording provides. When we learn to consistently engage with, honor, and respond to our dreams — dream dictionaries then fade into the background of less helpful approaches.
Dreams can be a pivotal key that unlocks enriching information that can benefit our waking lives in beautiful, healing, and transformative ways. Leaving our night of dreaming, a whole part of our lives, unexplored and underappreciated is a loss. It is like being given a secret chest that keeps refilling with treasure and maps once emptied, and never bothering to unlock it or look inside regularly.
For the last 30+ years I have kept a dream journal, tracked, and cared for my dreams, and actively explore the dimensions of dreaming. Since 2014 I have kept my dream experiences and knowledge up-to-date with respected dream books, seminars, and workshops. I regularly encourage others in their own dream practice, offering proven techniques that are helpful and that respect boundaries and avoid ego traps. Dream work is essential to my quality of life and well-being. I do some of my best work in dreams and in waking visualizations! Because of this, I share the importance of it with others. So much goodness can come of it!
Being present to my dreams, and being a facilitator and mentor for other’s dreams is sacred. It is an honor and a joy. Accessing the power and gifts of our dreams, and responding to them, is some of the best and most important work we can do for ourselves, and the world.
Dreams disturb, amaze, and puzzle us. They can be intense, frightening, fleeting, mind-boggling, inspiring, healing, and/or transformative. Learning how to be present to, respond to our own dreaming and unique dream symbols is empowering, and awakens hidden potentials.
I walk the line between environmentalist and artist, fact-checker and mystic, activist and present moment being. I walk the line between critical thinking and faith in things that are unseen. And, the importance of realizing the miraculous within the ordinary and mundane is not lost on me.
With so much to navigate with mindfulness and discipline, I was fortunate to have an amazing art mentor at university who walked those same kind of lines, and who walked with me for a time. He took me under his wing, and helped me to mature as an artist and spiritual-seeking being. The most important things I learned from creating art at university remain relevant and core to my passion to this day. These are my ten biggest lessons about being an artist, which I have whittled down to this summarized little list:
Art requires ongoing content. To create we must have: an ongoing impulse and need to create, ideas and perspective, and dedication to return again and again to blank objects (paper/clay/canvas/found object/etc.) and the various stages in between started and finished. If we don’t have these qualities, we will not be able to be an artist.
Make big mistakes, not a lot of little ones. When a mistake is made in a work of art, that mistake must ultimately be embraced as a part of the process and piece. However, we need to dedicate enough energy and focus to doing our best and maintaining an awareness for most possible issues. This is to prevent a work riddled with so many little mistakes that compromise the purpose and effectiveness of the piece. Lots of little mistakes are much harder to track, fix or redeem. A big mistake is much easier to learn from and integrate into a process. A big mistake most often leads to better and more joyful ways to create and work in the long-term. Embrace the big mistakes: work with them and grow from them.
Stick with the piece you are working on. When we draw or paint, for example, we may end up erasing or changing a lot of what was originally intended. Mistakes, layers, and reworked parts are not reasons to abandon a piece. Keep them. The work and layers may not ultimately be visible, yet keeping them creates a palpable energetic history that lives in the piece, as a work of art. It is also a conservation of materials. Instead of abandoning a “messy” piece for a fresh start, value the process and keep the layers as a living history, whenever possible.
Distance, perspective, and time apart are all important. All the stages involved in creating, honing, and resolving a piece can leave us enmeshed…too close to the work to maintain useful objectivity and purpose. If the piece is not resolving and we begin to dislike what we see, it can become absolutely essential to know when to: get up and stand across the room to look at the piece from a distance off and on, turn it upside down and/or sideways to work with it from those angles, and to put it away and take some time away from it — in order to come back a day, week, month, or a year later — to see it with fresh eyes that are more able to appreciate it, know what it needs, or…that it is done, and it is great.
Pay attention to both positive and negative space. It is not enough for us to observe, notice and draw the object or being in front of us. We must see what isn’t there, energy, and the empty space around that object and being as well. Until we recognize negative space and how it rests and moves around objects and beings, something will be missing from our work. This practice facilitates a more disciplined and objective process for still life drawings and paintings. It is also important to move back and forth and up and down throughout the process, rather than focusing on one small area at a time.
Seek balance in completing tasks and challenges. We may give ourselves a challenge, and work so hard on accomplishing it, that what should be easy and straightforward becomes neglected — of poor quality or effort. Spread the effort and quality to every layer and task. Even if one part is daunting, don’t let it take importance away from the rest of the work. Hold every part of the work as valid and important.
Art is necessary. An artist doesn’t create art in order to sell it. Earning money for art is payment for the result and quality. This is not the motivation for the act and practice of art. Artists create art because they must create art. The artists I most respect are the ones who go about their lives, always creating, with or without opportunities for public attention and sales. Selling and displaying art in galleries is not the point of creating. For us, art is necessary — an innate part of self and being — that takes many forms. Art is also necessary for the non-artist: it is therapeutic, enriching, informative, healing, supportive, challenging, and elicits various emotions and new thoughts.
Be honest and kind. When we praise someone for the art they have created, it needs to be because it genuinely impacts us. Being nice is not the same as being kind or honest. We don’t need nice. We need vision, feedback, and perspective. We cannot grow as artists if we are not able to give and receive constructive criticism. Just make sure the constructive criticism is kind and honest. There is no reason to be brutally honest. We don’t need meanness either. Almost any true statement can be said with compassion. When we don’t know enough about art and creating, or the specific genre and medium, then we need to include that in our feedback. Honesty, real feedback, and kindness are all important.
Set out to make something ugly. We need to challenge ourselves to put intense feelings and energy into making art that is ugly. Not only does this release us from crippling patterns of perfectionism, it also releases us from the restrictions of expectation and conformity. In addition, sometimes in seeking to create something truly ugly, we instead create something intriguing and new. Some of our most beautiful work may be inadvertently created by channeling the energy of anger or grief. While aesthetics, symmetry, and pleasing creations can and do have importance, it can be more important to leave all that at the door, in order to allow our emotions and raw energy to create without restriction. This can lead to hidden doorways of creation: new approaches and techniques.
Consider context and need. This is a broad topic, but I will summarize three main aspects. One, there is always context, meaning, and need to be found as model and inspiration in Nature — no matter what medium or genre we work in. Two, we need to consider how our materials, use, and waste affect our health, collective health, and Nature — and adjust what we are doing, as much as we are able. There may be no ideal solutions, but some choices are better than others. Three, consider saturation level for the topic and genre. Do we really need to create another version of something that has been made over and over for decades or centuries? We must ask ourselves: do I have something different, unique, valuable to say? Is this practice? Is this something bigger? What is the intention? Is there a need for it?
This article is dedicated in loving memory of Peter Fletcher.
It reminds me of what happens when we let go of illusion, yet maintain the magic in life, while also taking responsibility for ourselves. It can be beautiful…in the midst of everything, a rising up, and a rooted stance is taken. And the glow from the resulting blossom inspires, simply by existing.
The blossom opens each day to the world, and closes each night to dream.
Looking out my home office window today, the sun is shining, despite a thin blanket of clouds. Little buds have started on the old lilac bush, and in the distance, above a neighbor’s roof, there are distinct blossoms forming on tall upward tree branches. I peer down at the ground, slightly astonished, despite knowing better, to see the ground again. We had a severe stretch of winter weather that bogged us down well into March. There were, not only mounds of snow, but inches-thick layers of the most unruly, bumpy ice underneath it. It had been impossible to have a decent walk for weeks because of the treacherous ice being everywhere, unmanageable to snow plows even. The melting process from that extended period has resulted in flooding in some areas, and loads of dangerous potholes — more than can be remembered from recent years.
With the slow progression of Spring beginning now, the most heartening days are the ones filled with sunshine, bird song, and enough warmth to facilitate a lengthy walk — either at the lunch-hour, in the evening, or both. Yet, not all is sunshine and warmth…oh well.
Astrologically, the influence of the Pisces season and the Neptunian Mercury retrograde are at a close. How was your mystic, mythic journey this March? Having gone through it now, I would say there have been opportunities for confusion, misunderstanding, illusion, and the possibility of becoming stuck down a proverbial rabbit hole. There were also plenty of possibilities for snags, delays, and untended wounds that want to heal — interrupting and disturbing the already emotionally flooded scene. The trick to the Neptunian-type journey may be to apply the medicine of other perspectives, creativity, and a spirituality that centers — along with the healing detachment of meditating — and critical thinking, as balance. Equally important: to seek and ask for support, help, and wise counsel .
Best case scenario, during the course of March, we took the rose-colored glasses off — or they were taken off for us — and a somewhat painful realization came to light…maybe about how we’ve been fooling and short-changing ourselves in some way. And, how others have been fooling us as well….but not anymore. This opportunity may be coated in emotional pain, and an ebb and flow of confusion. This is partly due to ignoring our own emotional and spiritual needs, perhaps in an attempt to preserve or “save” something that is no longer working. This cycle has been calling for us to move on, and adjust with new wisdom.
It is important that we face our own part in glossing over serious issues (related to loss, self-respect, health, boundaries, responsibility, and inappropriate choices) in a desperate attempt to abate natural, needed change. It is important that we face the painful realization(s), like we may have been betraying or kidding ourselves on some level, and/or allowing others to do so. Once we do, then we can begin to address things more honestly. That will make room for us to process some of the more difficult feelings that accompany new understanding, which we may have been hiding from.
When darker, painful, and less popular emotions emerge, it can be overwhelming. Hopefully we can find expression for them consciously, carefully, and responsibly. It may be good to treat it like an infection that must be cared for daily. Also, it will help to mindfully, gingerly channel the visceral, raw energy of adrenaline, which may be released when facing and feeling the harder emotions.
Constructive, cathartic, and practical activities work best. For me, this often means: cleaning, editing, organizing, writing, drawing, dancing, and/or a bit of exercise. Notice, those are all concrete actions — this is important. A physical aspect needs to be incorporated when channeling formerly exiled and recently emerged emotions.
A Piscean lesson within March’s Mercury retrograde is to remember our boundaries and our lessons learned. Whether this is when we are in service to others, via creative expression and exploration, or with ritual and spirituality — knowing what is us, and what is someone or something else — is super essential to operating day-to-day, and remaining healthy and honest. This awareness of boundaries for health, benefits others, and gives us important information about the nature of the various wounds we may experience and encounter each day, and how to respond to or refrain from responding.
Truly knowing our limits is part of what defines healthy boundaries and allows us to discern at an essential level of reality and experience. This helps us to answer more quickly and accurately: Who does this feeling, thought belong to? What do I need right now? Where is my voice in this? Is this my real need or my wound speaking? Is this fear mine or someone else’s? Is this thought distorted, or accurate? Is this expectation mine or someone else’s? Is this real or an assumption?
I release needless fear and replace it with trust and knowing — with my breath, words, and actions.
I release other people’s needs and judgements and replace it with my true self, honoring my needs, and trusting who I am.
~ CS Sherin, WildClover.org
Lastly, we overrule hasty impulses and stubborn delays by trusting our own inner timing and intuition. That is the compass of trust we need to implement now. Then, we can begin to re-harmonize, uplift, re-balance, spring clean, and re-direct our own path forward — more effectively and truer to self — now that the rose-colored glasses are off, and responsibility for our selves is in motion. Dreaming, creating, and diving into a mythical and/or mystic journey (like March potentially was) can result in concrete, realistic new conclusions that can propel positive actions aimed in a more accurate direction, for each of us.
Since yesterday and through April 4th, the Neptunian thought and emotion waves of lessons decrease. We will arrive, then, in a cycle of concrete action and wiser seeds to be planted. We will need to tend them accordingly, so that they can grow into honest, consistent, and inspired forms of self-expression, action, and being.
By April Fool’s Day, Mercury will be moving forward again. On April 5th, the New Moon is in Aries. This is where the concrete actions, wiser lessons-learned, and the inner wound’s ongoing healing are all seeds planted and to tend come into play.
The energy of Aries on a New Moon translates into the following key words: independence, self-expression, action, childlike enthusiasm, unique way of being, physical activity and exercise, creation, novelty, willpower, fire, and new beginnings.
Two people whom I like to think of, when envisioning Aries energy, are: Jonathan Van Ness and Conan O’Brien. They are both Sun in Aries, and express the Aries energy in dynamic, unique, and entrancing ways. Their individuality and Aries-type expression is far from the possible war-like, aggressive side of Aries and its ruler, Mars.
Of course, most people are not totally representative of their Sun sign, because many other signs collaborate to form a layered and complex personality. I can never recommend limiting anyone to their Sun sign. However, it is helpful to look for certain Sun sign characteristics, in self and others, in order to understand the influence and the dynamics within it for all of us. We all have Aries somewhere in our chart. For me, I have Mars in Aries, so that Aries energy is strong in my life and being, despite it not being via my Sun, Moon or Rising sign. This is something important to keep in mind.
So, with that all in context, both Jonathan and Conan could be considered aggressive in a certain way via enthusiasm and raw willpower, yet it is really a harmless, creative aggression, which is a part of their charm. Both can be blunt, but again, the pure joy of witnessing each of them being so transparently honest in who they are — it comes off as real, funny, and a part of the true-to-life, yet larger-than-life package of who they are as individuals.
Sure, if you don’t have your humor, or if you are feeling a need for rigid control, this type of energy will burn you up, with its free-wheeling wildness, irreverence, dominating interjections, and innocent child-like truth-telling.Both Jonathan and Conan seem to have deep self-awareness and self-knowing. They both appear to be fearless when it comes to being who they are, and acting on it. That can be pure magic, for sure!
This is because they have done the hard work, or it seems they have. This means, they know their weaknesses like: being impulsive, hasty, impatient, pushy, and blunt. And they know how those weaknesses can be wielded as their strengths as well. In order to do that, it has to be faced and made conscious. That is the inner work done. It is ongoing work.
So, JVN and Conan are two great muses for you to ponder and observe this New Moon, and for Aries season. For more Aries Sun-type energy inspiration, you may also want to look to: Emma Watson, Diana Ross, Jackie Chan, Eddie Murphy, and Maya Angelou.
Happy Spring Equinox to the northern hemisphere today! And, happy International Happiness Day!
This is a time to plant and nurture new seeds of hope, love, and goodness. I can help with that, and would love to work with you. Go to this page to learn more. 🙂
To celebrate today, I have two stories to share with you, that give me big feelings of love, hope, and goodness. I hope they cheer you as they do me.
First up, an extraordinary story from the UK (South Gloucester, to be exact) in a little garden shed. A retired man, Stephen Mckears, had a real mystery going on in that garden shed. He left tools out, and when he would come back to the shed, the tools would be put away in a nearby box. He started to think he had a poltergeist! Then, he set up a camera to film whatever was happening. It couldn’t be more surprising and delightful! Here is a link to the full story. Enjoy, and then come back for the next one. 🙂
Next, is the video showing students and bikers all over New Zealand performing Haka, a Maori ritual that expresses many different things (love, respect, grief) for many different occasions like, funerals, weddings and other major events. The video coverage of the Haka, shows the unity of bikers who are usually divided, and students all coming together to show respect for those massacred in the mosques. I have watched this footage over and over, and each time it gives me a true feeling of the power of love and respect — beyond words. This is the sort of strength and unity we need right now.