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All posts for the day December 26th, 2012

Altared Perceptions: October 2012- “Honesty”

Published December 26, 2012 by Susan Woodward

This was a very difficult topic for me, as I have a tendency to be dishonest with myself.   I set goals that sound great at the time, and I truly believe when I am making those self-promises that I can fulfill them…and then reality steps in.   I make myself busy, busy, busy…so much so as to avoid taking the time to take a good hard honest look at myself and my life.

Well, I un-busied myself this summer.  As I took a hard look at myself and what I want to do with the rest of my life, I found that being honest was extremely hard.   When I looked at all the busy-ness of my life up till July,  I knew that I honestly was not giving my best to everything.  How could I?  I was running here, there, and everywhere, involved in this, that, and the other thing… and most of it was to distract me from the personal work I knew I had to do.  I had to withdraw from a lot of things that once gave me pleasure, but had begun to seem more like a time-filler, in order to do a lot of thinking and a lot of examination.

I can honestly say that looking in the mirror was hard.   Helping to build the decor for the church gave me some contemplative time as we glued small mirrors to the ribbons that were suspended from above.  The central piece of the decor was a huge “distorted” mirror made of crumpled foil.  This was to represent the distorted view many seem to have when they look in the mirror.  For me, though, it was a more honest representation of what’s in the mirror… I saw someone I really didn’t like all that well.  If that is the image I see, then I had to ask myself what others honestly see when they look at me.

Folks on the Creative Team probably notice that I am pretty quiet… not because I don’t want to talk, but I was immersing myself in the whole concept as we were building it.  It’s also the one month that I actually forgot to take pictures because I was so immersed in what I was doing.

In an effort to be more honest with myself and others, I made some tough decisions about my involvement in many of my activities instead of hiding behind the many masks I was wearing.  Giving myself the time to reflect has helped me to focus on things that are truly most important to me.  Stepping back from commitments can allow others the opportunity to come forward who are more honestly able to do a better job.

Altared Perceptions: Summer 2012- Cultivation

Published December 26, 2012 by Susan Woodward

Better late than never!!

What a great theme for our summer spiritual assignment!  The creative team worked July through September building a progressive decor as part of our cultivation.  The idea was to create a growing passion-flower, beginning small and climbing up the wall throughout the summer.  It also included the plant bearing fruit.

What a wonderful idea!  I love the choice of the passion flower for the summer assignment… what are we cultivating?  How can we not only make something grow, but how can we grow ourselves?

This was a great challenge for me.  Although I didn’t write about it, I did work on my challenge throughout the summer.

summer Altar 3

Summer Altar 1

 

 

My choice for growth came through the Symposium on Mythology in Santa Barbara, California, sponsored by the Pacifica Institute and the Joesph Campbell Foundation, as well as serving on the planning committee for the Celebrating the Mythic Life Conference held in New Paltz, New York.  My work with mythology is not only limited to what I do with students in the classroom, but in my personal journey.

In Santa Barbara, I had the opportunity to share the myth-centered work I do with my students.  My hope for the presentation was to bring ideas to other educators to use in their own classes, particularly the creative writing project that we do.  Since that time in September, this has grown into an online blog featuring pictures of my students’ work, and the possibility of working with the Joseph Campbell Foundation on a 9-12 curriculum that features mythology while meeting the Common Core Standards and the PARCC framework.   Myth is such a strong part of who we are and how we relate to one another.

summer altar 6

As the church decor “grew”, so did my hopes for expanding upon what I consider to be very important work.  As the fruit began to appear, I started to see some of my dreams regarding both the Symposium and the Conference begin to come to fruition.

The Celebrating the Mythic Life Conference in New Paltz brought me growth of a more personal nature.  Partaking in ritual, listening to fabulous speakers, and actually immersing myself in mythology helped me to learn more about the archetypes that reside within me.  After having withdrawn from the world for some time, it was a way for me to begin to ease myself back from the cave.   It is still taking my some time to figure out what it is I really want for myself at this point in my life, but I do know that the work of Joseph Campbell will play a huge role in whatever it is that I will do!

The final stages of the decor, with its upward-stretching branches, reminded me to continue nurturing the work that I have been doing.   As I watched the vines grow, so did my spirit and my resolve to keep myth alive.

summer altar 7

 

 

 

summer altar 5

 

 

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