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An Imagination of Union by Stephanie Lee

The lifelong learning of witnessing and being in the inbetween.  The both/and as well as the neither.  The feminine is everything within itself.  And is nothing without the masculine.  The masculine is everything within itself and is nothing without the feminine.  If neither were present, there would be no need for the other.  In this, I’m learning how to let many energies that are all true yet might look condescending to each other coexist simultaneously.   

I’ve gone along for most of my life playing second role-adjacent to my body.  It’s always been there, and I’ve only just started calling it home.  It’s a crisis amongst the masses.  The ever changing and evolving consciousness of the body is only now becoming a true embodied subject.  Meaning most people, including myself, are just now beginning to feel within the ever present life-force that governs everything on this planet.  

It’s really easy to want union with others.  The melting of bodies, in the spirit of aliveness.  It may even be really easy to want to union with yourself.  And something I’m coming to learn is that thinking it, isn’t the same as embodying it.  The way I’m seeing it right now is, embodiment comes in its own time, after diligent effort within your process.  It has no calendar, nor time.  It simply shows up and you know it’s different now.

That’s how I felt when I was standing in my shower, hands on my heart, witnessing the aliveness within me travel up and around my being.  And I felt the merge of who I am integrate into one, whole body.  Suddenly, all grey.  No black, No white.  All black, All white.  Grey.  There was no ego death.  Because in the grey, ego lives as well.  Simply happy to belong and be seen.  When you can’t tell what is what, because it all is.  No longer in separation, in union.

And in that moment, there was nothing.  And there was everything.  To me, that’s what it means to be alive.  To be sure of everything and nothing all at once.  And to embrace that dance.  I stayed within this sense for a few hours.  Transferring it to the canvas.  And then some separation started to occur, as I began to realize there is me, and there is the world.  Integration takes time.  It’s a little bit and then nothing, then a little more, then nothing, then a continuous embedded embodiment.  Maybe it’s just like a muscle, the more it gets engaged, the stronger and more consistent it gets.  

Union with self creates solitude instead of loneliness.  It creates the ability to have two individuals in a relationship, familiar with each other and strangers to each other.  Union with self allows the strangeness, the unknown to be embraced curiously.  Because your world is known within you, and it is home.  And the realization that there exists a whole nother world within another person, and you get to experience it on your own level is the reason why we’re here.  And that union with another person is fleeting.  And it’s necessary to maintain a level of separateness with others in order to remain whole within your union with self.

And that can scare you, or it can enliven you to know that you’re the only person you can really know.  And  life is about learning and experiencing other individuals as their whole selves and the only person they really know.  And the moments of true union with another person is held for such sacred moments that you must be willing to dance with the void to truly experience it.

In this piece, I hope to show the peace I felt during this moment.  That nothing matters, because everything matters.  And that our bodies belong to us.  All of our bodies, from the most concrete, to the most ethereal.  And they exist for us to learn and embody our learnings.  Because that’s how we uplift the planet, and make the world a better place.

I chose to keep the pencil marks within the body present as a reminder that we are constantly writing what is true for us.  That even the final draft is still a rough draft, and it’s still worth sharing what we’ve got.  We are complete the day our soul is born, and incomplete until the day our soul dies.

Prints of this piece will be available soon.

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How Time Travel is real:

So Taylor Swift dropped her new (old) album a few days ago.  She re-recorded her 2008 album Fearless and released it under her own name.  A badass rebellion against the recording company that she once let control her music.

Taylor Swift’s music (especially her older stuff) is soul music to me.  She was with me growing up, and I found solace in her music.  There were a few songs in this album that I Loved.  okay.. obsessed with. ‘Love Story’, I knew by heart and would sing it loudly and passionately in the shower, without it playing mind you.  ‘Fifteen’ was an escape into a fantasy life where football players wanted to date me and I experienced tragic heartbreak from boyfriends.  ‘White Horse’ I would practice singing quietly in my bedroom.  I would imagine myself leaving my small town behind and who I would become when I was older.  I would sing my heart out and really feel like I would be okay.

Fast forward to me now, I was sitting in my car yesterday still chanting every word to white horse and something magical happened.  I had a direct line to my younger self, sitting in my bed, I remembered, felt the exact moment in time.  The specific time.  I was recording myself, I was leaning against the wall with my window.  I could sense it viscerally.  And I sang.

I sang with my younger self, sat with her.  I poured so much Love on her because I know now for sure that I’d be okay, that I was okay.  That I was Loved.

I experienced a double moment where I was in my car singing with my younger self and in my old bedroom singing with my older self.  I was there and here.  I was healing myself now and then.  

12 years ago.  I was being held by myself.  I was inspired and looked up to me.  I knew that it was possible to move on and was filled with the hope that one day I really would.

12 years later.  It was me holding me up.  It was me soothing my younger self, assuring her I would see that small town in the rear view mirror -disappearin’ now- and I would realize some bigger dreams of mine.  That it is too late for you and your white horse to come around.. because I don’t need saving, never did.

Yesterday was the moment I experienced 12 years ago as a younger version of me in a different setting.

It reminded me that it’s really quite incredible to be your own best friend, biggest supporter, and healing force.  It’s the way it was meant to be.  To realize that it was you healing you all along.  And music’s a bridge to that portal.  Where you really feel time melting away.  Relistening to this album freshly recorded is cathartic as fuck for me. Along with the awesome upgrade of bass and instrumental crispness, its new revelations of self.  Like yes, here I am older and (somewhat) wiser and I made it through and I’m making it through.  Listening to the first recording of the album even this past year had a sense of nostalgia and a little bit of putting myself back in the position that I was in when I first listened to the songs.  A little bit of pity.  Now, it’s like damn.. I really am making my dreams come true, and I really Love all the phases that I’ve been through and I get to pour Love on all my phases because it brought me here. Which is pretty toasty (good).

Yes, all from a Taylor Swift album. TSwift fan fo lyfe.  I Can’t wait ‘till she re-records her 2006 album *wipes tear from guitar*.

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Feeling the world on your last nerve? Here’s some inspiration:

As I was waking up this morning I remembered what it was like to wake up 1 year ago.  There was a noticeable caution, awareness, alertness.  There was less noise.  The awareness  of collective oneness was high.  We could all relate to each other.  Even if it was in uncertainty.  Everything stopped.  Everything changed.

We moved through darkness with the murders of black people, and our surge for peace and equanimity.  We went even deeper with corrupt government ‘leaders’ blatantly disrespecting black americans and anyone who isn’t a white man on the side of dictatorship.  We trenched through an unnerving election.  Holiday’s looked different for most people.  And then we made it to the new year, when we witnessed an insurrection of our capitol by white terrorists.  And as we meander even further into 2021 another violent mass murder of asian women happened by (you guessed it) a white man.

I’m writing all this down not to get you down, I promise.  Instead to remind you of what you’ve been through this year – a lot of shit. And this isn’t even what you experienced independently unique to you.  

So please, give yourself space today (and all days) to be gentle and understanding if you’re ‘not where you want to be’ or ‘sick of this shit’ or whatever hard emotions you may be feeling right now.  It has been a seriously tough year.  To be alive during a collective uprising, a collective resistance to violent crimes, an out-in-the-open disrespect of humanity.  AND move through a global pandemic is enough to have ANYBODY feeling exhausted, and helpless.  You’re expected to live through this, plus specific experiences unique to you and just.. Press on.  Unscathed.  Well that’s a load of bullshit.  You’re allowed to be mad, or sad, or confused, or exhausted.  And you’re allowed to feel those emotions and have support through them.  You’re even allowed to use these emotions as fuel.  All of this upchurning is coming up to be dealt with and transformed.  So if you’re into that kind of thing… well this is your time to shine.

This year has been absolutely hard.  Maybe even awful.  And you’re here for something.  You’re on purpose.  Remember your purpose.  Remember your why.  Practice what gets you motivated here and there.  Take it one baby lil step at a time.  Celebrate your small achievements.  Because even getting out of bed right now is a damn achievement.  Don’t look online, look in you.  This is an intense resilience training course, and damn, you’re doing a great job.  

All of these events are for real happening.  And my guess is that it may get even more intense.  So listen to your body.  Rest when you need rest.  Pee when you need to pee.  Move when you need to move.  Cry when you feel everything bubbling up and realize you might drown, scream when you need to scream.  And keep going.  You have people who care about you.  I know you’re doing the best you can. With all things considered.  And some days, your best is not as best as other days.  Which is weird, and good.  Keep getting up in the morning.  Keep living your life for you.  You’re doin’ a great job.

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How my mixed feelings on self care shaped how I feel about it today.

Self Care: Stephanie’s *current* Take

I’ve gone through tremendously wild pendulum swings of self care.  What it looks like to me, how I implement it in my life, dissecting what it actually means and feels like to practice it.  How it feels inside of me.

Back story, if you don’t know already, I used to be a hairstylist.  Hairstylist with the fancy salon job and the leave in deep conditioner and the pH balancing spray and the brazlian sugaring(ouch)  and the makeup, platform wedges, push up bras, shellac nails, and body scrubs.  Some of what I was doing was self care.  Some of it (most) was detrimental to my self.  

Then I went to massage school, quit the “beauty” industry and unleashed my inner “hippie”.  I didn’t wash my hair for months at a time, no bra, no socks, no makeup, no deodorant (I know), barefoot, music festivals, just like be Love man, everything happens for a reason.  I didn’t shave anything for years.  I didn’t wear anything name brand, I went vegetarian, cut off all my hair and swore off “beauty” products.    Some of what I was doing was self care.  Some of it was just plain unhygienic. 

So you can see my wild tendencies to swing the complete opposite way right?  So flash forward in my timeline, my boss reminded me that bras are a part of dress code (I now own 3(they’re comfy)),  I found a natural deodorant that works, wear makeup occasionally, still wash my hair once a month (it’s short, I can get away with it) and eat what I like (including meat).

Because some of what I was doing was because I wanted to, most of what I was doing at each level was because initially I wanted to.  And then some of it became a feeling of I had to do it this way because “Will I still be respected if I don’t rock 6 inch platform wedges for the full 12 hour shift?”  (news flash they didn’t respect me either way)  or “What will the vegans think if I buy a name brand shirt and eat a burger?”

And so as I’ve been honing in the pendulum on self care I’ve come to some very potent realizations that are worth sharing to you.  Self care changes as you change.  So let it.  The first time I ate meat after being a vegetarian for 2 years is still one of my favorite memories.  I had been trying for so long to force my body into eating vegan for many reasons.  And it simply wasn’t working anymore for my body or my current lifestyle (alot can change it 2 years).  So I listened to what it needed, and it needed a motherfuckin’ burger.  I went to a local restaurant where they serve meat from a local butcher, ordered a burger, ate that thing with a glass of wine and parmesan fries while watching a soccer game, and let me tell you, it was absolutely fabulous.  I felt so much relief and it reminded me that I’m the creator of my life.  So healing.

Another realization is:  If you want to heal the planet, you must take care of your self in the best way you can so that you heal yourself.  Because, you in fact, are a part of the planet.  I never wanted to buy new clothes because: sweat shops! Reuse! What a waste! Corporations feeding on idealized beauty standards so let’s rebel against them!  You get the point.  And I also knew that in my profession (instructor) one of the number one feedback pieces from students I’d get on what needs to be improved is how I dress.  They weren’t taking me seriously in my linen pants and colorful flowy shirts.  So I went to Kohl’s and bought full priced black and white clothes for the first time (ever).  Every time I put them on, knowing no body else lived in them, empowers me as the professional woman I am.  And how I’m worth looking like I know what I’m doing (because I do ).  It changed how I walk out into the world.  It changed my affect on people in a positive way, therefore the planet.  Another feeling of relief.  So healing.

I don’t eat meat with every meal, and am waste conscious.  I still honor my body by eating what it likes.  I still shop at consignment stores when I want.  I no longer feel guilty about buying something brand new at full price.  Both. And.

And now I’m leaning into another layer of self care.  

We all know alot of self-help agenda people (including me (Holla))  like to remind you of the rudimentary-ness of self care like boundaries, saying no, taking things out of your life that no longer serve you, saying FUCK YES when you get that full body yes.  And I’m also here to remind you of the lightness of self care.  The celebration of you.  (Really all of it is celebration of you…and then there’s like fluffy celebration)

After drowning in beauty products, then miles away, I’m leaning into the beauty isles at target once more.  Because I define my own standard of beauty.  And hey, so do you.  Beauty is defined from within, without outside influence.  Fancy right?  I created that affirmation 6 months into massage school.  I’m leaning into self care as pleasure, like buying myself a cute ass face mask (like cleansing mask not covid required mask) (a mask without sulfates ‘cause even though I’m no longer a hairstylist, ya girl still knows what’s good and what’s not), home making a hair scrub, laying down with my feet propped up the wall, listening to music and just.. Relishing in the fact that I’m a fuckin’ Queen.

So what I want to get at here is that as you go through your life, your needs and wants are gonna change. And it’s up to you to not get caught up within a certain identity and to instead change with your current reality. To keep an eye on being a rebel as an identity because being a rebel can be its own cage. And to C E L E B R A T E you first, because you’re the main event. You know you’ll always be Earth conscious and people conscious and white supremacy conscious and we must dismantle the current government system conscious. So take a break from it all once and a while and put some avocado on your face and lay down.

Do what brings you JOY even if at one time in your life it brought you disdain. You’re allowed to change. Throw away that piece of plastic instead of recycling it if it’s easier right now. That ease will lift the vibrational field around you raising the collective to a higher state of being, thus reducing our footprint. Do what lights you up because that’s what’s gonna heal the planet. More LIGHT. Don’t let yourself get caught up in whatever cause you’re invested in letting it be another thing you feel guilty about. Have fun. Have A LOT of it. Do what works for you until it doesn’t work. Check-in frequently, really listen. Show up as your whole self. It’ll all balance out as you go, I promise. Your must is to do what really truly feels good (even if it’s hard) (especially if it goes against a current belief), do what lights you up, and brings you joy. Honoring you and your shifts honors the planet and her shifts. Healing you, heals every one, heals our Mother. You don’t have to be the change that you wish to see in the world all the time.. Be you as you are in each moment. You’re always Loved and that’s always enough.

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There’s no one to blame when you feel lonely, including yourself.

I was 22 when I first moved into an apartment all by myself.  My very own place.  Alone.  It was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and it was painful as fuck.  At the time I was practicing massage therapy and teaching in separate towns, 45 mins apart from each other.  So I chose to live in a city in between them.  A city I had only driven through.  I moved into a 415 square foot studio apartment.  If you’re not sure how big that is, it’s about enough room for a small kitchen, small bathroom, my bed, some closet space, and about 6 square feet of dancing room.  Small.  But it was all mine.

I realized I had always enjoyed the fact that other people inhabited the space I lived in, even if I usually went right into my room to avoid those other people. Someone’s shoes, a loose magazine subscription, crumbs on the table that I didn’t leave.  Signs of life outside of me.  It helped keep the loneliness at bay.  I had my cat in all my previous places I’d lived too, but she didn’t make the trip with me in the studio.  It was too small for her.  I went from having “annoying” roommates to complete silence every time I opened the door.  In the beginning there I would get home, 30 mins away from everyone I was close to, open the door, see everything just the way I left it, no sign of anyone but me, and fall to the floor and weep.  What I learned over time was that this pain of loneliness, of isolation, abandonment, was inside me the whole time.  It was always knocking at my door. I would ignore the sometimes pounding very well, by turning to ideations, and other people’s shit. 

By moving into my own apartment I invited my loneliness to live with me.  My isolation, my abandonment, depression, anxiety, fears.  We were like the fucking brady bunch up in there.    Right now, as I’m typing this, I’m laughing and smiling.  Why?  Because I got through it.  (p.s. still getting through it). I turned my pain into power.  Because not only did I invite my darkness to rise to the surface, I allowed the space for it to be processed.  And that invited in more creativity, joy, and connectedness to self.  Loneliness is a part of our shared human experience. (2)  So is Joy. And belonging to ourselves and each other. My hope is that you lean into that knowing through my work.

Earlier that year I found pour painting.  My good friend Skie asked me if I wanted to make a painting with her.  She said, “I want someone to pour with and I thought, hell yeah Stephanie would be down.”  And Hell yeah I was.  Once I created that first piece, I opened up a reservoir that I never knew very well in terms of “art”.  My creative spirit.  I spent the next few months dabbling in different pouring methods, never really having a lot of time for it then because I was prioritizing other people.  Fast forward to living 30 minutes away from anyone I knew and being on a tight budget, I suddenly had every night wide open.  I remembered being so consumed by loneliness, isolation and anxiety that I would be paralyzed.  At this point in my life though, I had tools.  I’d been creating a web of self care and self love for that very moment in time; I knew how to support myself.  The initial act of courage was always pulling myself out of bed and into something that could help me.

Suddenly I was buying floetrol in bulk and 10 packs of canvases on sale.  I used old bed sheets on the floor and an extra massage table as my creating space.  The only route in Battle Creek(the city I was living in) I knew like the back of my hand was the same road that led to Michaels, Menards, and Meijer.  I felt like a “real” artist for the first time because I bought quality acrylics and could lose track of time for hours creating.  Remember, I had like a 6 square foot space for this, and pour paintings take time to dry, so I always had paintings on the floor or cups scattered on my kitchen counter.  

Now when I would come home, 30 mins away from anyone I knew, I would see myself and signs of Life outside of me in forms of paint on canvases laying all over, on the walls, and on my one small round side table.  I would see how diverse and expansive I was ( still am ).  I would be reminded of interconnectedness.  I’d still be consumed by loneliness, fear, isolation.  And I’d feel it, and see that I was surrounded by Love.  By Creation.  Creation heals.  Unlocking this vault led to me singing more, writing more, dancing more, connecting with myself more, connecting with my people more.  Feeling more confident in myself, releasing old habits, letting myself be.  Yes, creativity is that powerful.  That little space held me for a year.  A cocoon.  Where I left it even more raw than when I had entered, and more whole.

And as I unlocked my creative self through painting, I realized I was already a creative being.  And that’s there’s so many ways to be creative.  Being a massage therapist is such a creative practice.  A practice that weaves into my painting practice.  My painting practice weaving into my writing practice.  My writing practice weaving into my dancing practice.  My dancing practice weaving into my yoga practice.  There’s so much space to try new things in a creative way.  Being an artist is to be human.  To laugh and to be and to have fun.  To be curious and adventurous and full of wonder.  And you know, sometimes, that creativity leads you to something that fuels your life and sustains you for a long time.  When I started pour painting, I defined myself as an Artist.  And an Artist I was, all along.

Each piece I’ve created is a piece of my heart.  My soul.  It’s a reminder of our humanness. And our divinity.  And how we all are struggling on some level, and it’s all valid.  Your struggle is valid.  No matter what it looks like on the outside.  Your Joy is valid. Your life deserves to be surrounded by things that remind you of your humanness and divine power.  I create art to inspire you to be your best self.  To remind you of why we’re in it, and to keep going.  To please, keep going.  To transmute your pain into power.  To access your joy and open your heart to the oneness we all share.  This Art is meant to hang on your wall, lean on your table, rest on your desk, be anywhere you want, to help you unlock your own potential.  Creating helped me heal so much, I want to touch your life, and show you that creating helps you heal as well.  Creativity can help you feel connected to Earth and to others.(1)  And that’s what we need more of.  So make time for your process and create.  Create with yourself, Create with others.  The most important thing is that you do it.

This week: Make time for yourself to create.  You must carve out time for yourself otherwise, you’ll keep putting it off.  Schedule 5, 10 mins.  Schedule an hour or two.  Whatever fits.  Practice with your kids, practice with your mom or grandma.  Do something creative, whether it’s painting, drawing, doodling, dancing, singing, writing, playing an instrument, or whatever else you find expansive and creative.  Do it.  And tell me what you did.  How you felt beforehand, and how you felt after.  I’d love to hear from you.  Our stories and way of unlocking our inner creator may be different, and the result is the same.  Connection to self.  Connection to our collective oneness.  And if having unique paintings on your walls deepen your connection to yourself and our collective oneness, shop my Love Wins. Collection.  Get yourself some inspired pieces in your life.

  1. Creative Healing: How to Heal Yourself by Tapping Your Hidden Creativity

By Michael Samuels, Mary Rockwood Lane

2. “Acceptance and belonging” by Stephany St. Clair Pond

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How to lay out your life and look at it.

Let’s lay out your life and look at it.  What does that mean?  It means, let’s lay everything you do down, and look at it with intention and deep self-honesty.  Where is your energy being drained?  Where is your energy being charged?  What’s fulfilling? What’s not so fulfilling?  What’s self care in celebration, and what’s self care because you feel like you’re not enough or too much?  What dreams feel alive and are calling out for more attention?  What dreams are old and exhausted and you’re still yearning for them because that’s what society wants for you, or a family member, or what you thought you wanted.

You have complete self-agency over your life.  Don’t think so?  Humor me for a moment, what if…you did.  What if everything you do and experience in life is because of your own choice?  That can be a scary thought to ponder.  And it can be wildly beautiful.  Wildly beautiful because no one else really gets a say in what you do and how you do it.  That’s good news right?  Yes.

The courageous act of honestly looking at what you do and how you live your life has the power to transform your life for the absolute good.  What’s that thing you’ve been pushing off to the side?  Not enough time, I gotta think about the kids first, I gotta take care of this family member, I don’t have enough money.  I’m sure all these reasonings are valid *and* I invite you to ask yourself: “Is it really all of these things?  Or am I scared that I’m gonna fail?”

If your answer is the latter than HOORAH!  You’re being honest with yourself.  That’s the first step, my Love.  And the truth is, you will most definitely fail at some point in your life when stepping outside of your comfort zone.  That’s good news too, because you learn from failure.  You learn something new each time you fall down.  And the great news is each time you get up and go at it again, you’re building resilience.

And there are so many people out there who are getting up and going at it again with you.  Including me.  You deserve to feel comfortable in your own skin while creating a life you Love.

Loving your body, feeling safe inside is a must in order to truly cultivate your true and beautiful life.  It’s a must because, from a steady, grounded, open, clear body and mind space you can actively make decisions that you know are the best for you.  Having awareness within your body gets you more in touch with your intuition.  Most importantly it gets you more in touch with your heart intelligence.  And that’s where the real magic happens.

I encourage you to take the first step.  Which is slooowwing dooowwn.  That way you can really pay attention to your actions and your thoughts.  You can really see where you’re putting your energy.  Then you can do something about it.

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What support can look like in the midst of a pandemic.

Today I wanna talk about support. support comes in many forms. From people you’ve known and loved for years, from a smile of a stranger in the grocery store who has no idea how much you needed that. And from people you’ve never met that shine a light on you every.single.day.  

For me, my mandala group is support from people I’ve never met (in person) that shine light on me every single day.  Before I talk about my mandala group, Let’s go back to mid March of this year. We were all on the same train of thought, around the world, potentially for the first time in eons. A pandemic. Our health.

I remember sitting on the dunes of Lake Michigan near south haven, Michigan with a friend. March 14. I had a staff meeting the day before and we decided to shut down the school that I teach at, for the time being.  I got to finish my last day of AP1(March 14) and as a reward, I went to the beach with a friend.

I remember sitting there, crying, and being held, and saying, “I feel like I’m about to go deep.  Like, deeper than I ever have before.”  

I didn’t know what was in store, none of us did.  I just all of a sudden had all the space in the entire world. No plans, no deadlines, no commitments.  I live alone, so It was time with myself through and through. I would wake up at 8am everyday and lay on my couch… waiting for 11am.

I happened upon mandala drawing on accident(purpose) one day and i knew, this is where I need to be.  Elle Luna was the host at this time. Everyday she woke up at 8am pacific time, usually went to her garden, got on IG, and watched as dreamers poured in to draw. To be in connection.  To have community.  To be held.  

Eventually, everyday was too much for Elle. So she offered shared leadership to the group. People jumped at the idea, including me.  Here we’re.(are) Everyday.  8am pacific 11am eastern drawing. Being. Showing up as we are.

What emerged from this practice is a knit group of artists, inspirers, lovers, dreamers. humans.  My people. Still everyday, since mid March.  8am pacific. 11am eastern.  We show up. 

Some days there’s 5 people live and many people catching the video later in the day. Other days there 15 people live and many people catching the video later in the day. Some days, I skip. Knowing very well, it’s okay. And my people are still there. Showing up. Holding me. Giving me space to be me.

And. I’ve never met these people in person. Different walks of life. Different ages. Mostly women.  All around the world.  All centered around creativity and the heart. 

We read, we breathe, we ground, we draw, we share. We send hearts, we laugh. We share energy. We cultivate being-ness. 

We plan to travel to Ireland as soon as we can safely travel in packs. Ireland is where Jenny lives.  I know these women as if they’re my sisters. That’s connection of the heart. That’s oneness. That’s how we..know.  

I’ve met one mandala sister In person, during my UP travels.  We talked as if we knew each other for decades. Spoke of buried memories and painful experiences.  Something you might only shared to your truest confident.  That’s how deep this connection dwells. 

We draw. We create. We feel our bodies.  And there’s a deeper, often unsaid, truth of our group.  We meet because we belong together.  We meet because sometimes the world is too much and we need a safe space for half and hour to…be.  To laugh, to cry, to ponder. To be held. 

To my mandala sisters.. this is how much you mean to me,

Eve, you live in New York City, New York. And you post photos of the beach, the ocean, everyday.  That alone, to me, shows who you are.  I see a lover of pigment. A lover of cleansing.  A lover of the vast unknown.  The way you bring nature into your work, literally. And blend colors is magic.  Your vision of the woman body is healing.  When you show up, it gives me permission to show up. 

Molly, your quirkiness gives me life.  Your soft laughs and direct leadership keeps us afloat.  You show me a version of myself that I can be. That I keep working towards.  You help me keep going without comparison syndrome or judgement.  You surprise me.  In a good way.  The way you show up is consistent, nerdy, dark, light, and encouraging.  All of it. How it needs to be.  Through the heart. How it is.  When you show up, it gives me permission to show up.

Laura, thank you for sharing pieces of yourself to me.  When we met in person it was like we’d known eachother already.  I Love that you took me to a place that’ “off the beaten path” in the UP.  Thanks for adventuring with me and knowing what I needed. When you show up, it gives me permission to show up. 

Jenny, your laugh. We all know.  Your smile brights up my life.  Saturday mornings at 11am are a rare sight for me, and when they do happen I’m somehow always(usually) in a funk. Your laugh.. your sparkly eyes gets me silly again. Gets me saying.. “okay, it’s really all good. Even if it’s for just now.”  You read all comments we type and integrate it into your practice. To me, I see a person who makes sure everyone is being seen. Being heard.  And I love you for that.  When you show up, it gives me permission to show up. 

Elle, you’ve inspired me to shine my light ever since I saw your interview with Chase Jarvis.  Your look of humbleness, gratitude, and appreciation softens me.  The way your eyebrows pull up at the existence of humans being relaxes me.  How even with millions of people knowing your name, you take the time to learn my name.  My face.  Listen to my story.  Hear me.  It brings me hope.  Hope that I can be like that. That what I’m doing with my life will pay off, and is paying off.  The way you show up, gives me permission to show up. 

Andrea, wow.  Your enthusiasm. It gets me going.  You get so excited about the ethereal, spirit world, it shows me I can get excited for it as well.  I love watching your transformation in your platform, giving me permission to do the same.  Your hair, your eyes, your vitality.  It sparks passion in me to keep at it. To keep sharing what I love because people will listen. People are listening.  The way you show up, gives me permission to show up.

Michelina, your spunk lightens me up.  To put into perspective of where I’m at, I guess I’m about half your age, slightly less than half. And for me, watching you, gives me hope of transformation on any level.  And how you’re into music, in a band, into night life AND you still show up for spirit. For truth. For heart. For healing.  This brings me so much joy because it reminds me of my sides.  My side of music and trashing myself around and my side my calm centered ness that is essential to regain balance. You remind me that balance of all is reachable.  And that my people my true people will love all of me and walk with me on the journey.  The way you show up, gives me permission to show up.

Amy,  your softness reminds me of my softness.  Your integrations of nature remind me of the infinite beauty around us.  What you read to us, always gets me open to what is and what can be.  I love that I get to hear, listen and see some of the inner workings of your life. Like how you spend time to pick flowers and stew tea for yourself before practice.  How your cat can never seem to sit still and you still show gentleness towards him.  You see beauty in a way that invites presence. And you inspire me to culitvate beauty and presence in my life as well.  How you show up, gives me permission to show up.

Ivna, I’ve never seen your face, and I love you already.  It’s like a blind online relationship yet already heart centered.  Our circle is so pure, you being in it shows me that I know you.  Your endless hearts and exclamation points remind me of the heart.  How your culture cultivates intimacy.  That’s how it is.  For me, growing up in America, seeing your love shows me that it’s okay for me to show my love.  My smallness opens up in your big Love.  And my smallness grows in your presence.  How you show up, gives me permission to show up. 

To all my other mandala sisters, Cherylnn, Sheryl, Skyle, Cathy, Ambrosia, Ms. M, Bri, Rosey, Karolina, Mindy, heidi, KJ, Virginia, and anyone whom I haven’t named.  Your as much a piece as anyone.  You bring life, perspective and Love to our circle.  I am forever grateful seeing you with me as I draw and reach deep into myself.  Knowing, I’m never alone.  We all have each other.  As a person with abandonment pain, having you all show up when you do, cultivates trust and healing within me.  It’s indescribable.  How you show up, gives me permission to show up. 

Hold your people close. Hold this Earth closer.  Hold yourself closest.  It’s all we got.  Keep going where you’re welcomed with deep Love.  Those are your people.  It’s alright to trust it. 

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How to ask for support

This time last year I was moving into my new apartment. The one I currently call home. The place I adore and spend 80% of my time in.


I planned for me to move in on a Wednesday. My car was packed. I had friends set to help me move. I left my old apartment that morning determined for it to be the last morning I woke up there. When I got to the new apartment building, ready to sign the lease, everything was off. The apartment hadn’t been cleaned yet, the layout was different than I had anticipated from the model walk through. And it turned out to be more over budget than I had initially thought. I felt flustered and scared that I wouldn’t have a place to stay.

In that moment I did something that up until then, I didn’t do. I let go of the plan to sign the lease right then and there and move my packed car inside and decided to take a day to get some space and perspective. I like to think that I can control things outside of myself and before this experience I would have done everything I could to stick to the original plan. I chose a new way. I told myself, I don’t have to move today. I still have a night at my old apartment. I have time. I’m sure my peeps helping me move will understand if they need to wait till tomorrow. And of course, they did.


So I told the landlord that I needed to wait until everything was clean and move-in ready until I sign anything. He agreed. I left the apartment building and went right to a nature preserve. The woods. Where I do my best higher thinking. I was spiraling in my mind looking up new places to rent on my phone not knowing what to do. Then someone walked up to the bench I was sitting on. She was taking a picture of the pond and the skyline. I kept debating in my head whether to talk to her about what just happened. I debated until she walked away. As she was almost to the trail head again, I called out to her. I explained my situation and that I was feeling nervous and if she had any advice. She said that the situation sounds tough and she didn’t know what she would do. She wished me the best and I thanked her and she walked away.


Though she didn’t have any additional input into my situation, the important part for me..was that I had the conversation. It was that I spoke out loud about it and got out of my head for a moment. Even though she was a complete stranger and didn’t know anything about me, I offered myself space to put things into perspective by talking with her. That’s a form of self care and self Love. Even though she didn’t know what she would do, she helped me by offering a connection to clarity.


She reminded me that we’re all here doing out best and that it’ll all be okay. I stopped looking at new apartment, made a list of pros and cons, and realized the pros definitely outweighed the cons at this apartment. I chose to have faith that I would be taken care of. I ended up getting a call from my landlord later that night saying everything was all clean and move-in-ready and that some utilities would be included in rent. I exhaled. I slept one more night in my old apartment and signed the lease and moved in the next day. My friends helping me the whole way through. When I got to the apartment it was spic and span clean, and I could see myself lively greatly in it.


I’m writing this to you to remind you that not everything (usually nothing) goes exactly to plan. Even if your car’s packed with half of your belongings ready to be unpacked, it can wait another day. Sometimes the best thing to do is to let go of your strong-willed determination. When you find yourself in a situation where you’re unsure and yet you think something haaas to happen in an exact way.. Take a couple steps back, your gut is trying to tell you something. Listen. There’s always space to get clarity. Breathe, don’t make any rash decisions, remember you’re loved, always. No matter what you do. Get out of your head and talk out loud to someone about what you’re experiencing. Maybe even a stranger. You’re not a burden. You can change your way of doing and your timeline and still have your end goal achieved. Like a good friend of mine always says, be firm in your ideal and flexible in your approach.


Your mind’s a lot less scary when it’s talked about out loud. Talking out loud about your thoughts also gives your power back to you. Where it belongs. Nothing ever has to go a certain way for it to all work out. Have faith in that. It’s safe to trust your cues.


Here’s your insight into practice, because passive reading won’t get you anywhere, practice and action does. Okay, here you go: this week, tell someone you wouldn’t normally talk to what’s on your mind. Someone whom you know well enough to know that they’ll listen. Dump it out and don’t apologize. And see what happens. And then tell me about your experience. I’d Love to hear from you. If you ever find yourself circling inside and feel a pull to talk about it to a stranger near you.. Do it. The universe may have placed them there to support you. You don’t even need to be in conversation already. It might change your life, or simply soften you a bit.


With Love Love Love,
Stephanie Lee

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If you need some inspiration, you need to read this.

I was 22 when I first moved into an apartment all by myself.  My very own place.  Alone.  It was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and it was painful as fuck.  At the time I was practicing massage therapy and teaching in separate towns, 45 mins apart from each other.  So I chose to live in a city between them.  A city I had only driven through at the time.  I moved into a 415 square foot studio apartment.  If you’re not sure how big that is, it’s about enough room for a small kitchen, small bathroom, my bed, some closet space, and about 6 square feet of dancing room.  Small.  But it was all mine.


I realized I’d enjoyed other people inhabiting the space I lived in, even if I went right into my room and avoided all other forms of life.  Except for my cat, of course.  Someone’s shoes, a loose magazine prescription, crumbs on the table that I didn’t leave.  Signs of life outside of me.  It helped keep the loneliness at bay.  I had my cat in all my previous places I’d lived too, but she didn’t make the trip with me in the studio.  It was too small for her.  I went from having “annoying” roommates to complete silence every time I opened the door.  In the beginning I would get home, 30 mins away from everyone I knew, open the door, see everything the way I left it. No sign of anyone but me, and fall to the floor and weep.  What I learned over time was that this pain of loneliness, of isolation, abandonment, was inside me the whole time.  It was always knocking at my door and I would ignore the sometimes pounding very well, by turning to ideations, and other people’s shit.  By moving into my own apartment I invited my loneliness to live with me.  My isolation, my abandonment, depression, anxiety, fears.  We were like the fucking brady bunch up in there.    Right now, as I’m typing this, I’m laughing and smiling.  Why?  Because I got through it.  I turned my pain into power.  Because not only did I invite all my darkness to rise to the surface, I allowed the space for myself to process it.  And that invited in my creativity, my joy, my connectedness to self.  


Earlier that year I found pour painting.  My good friend Skie asked me if I wanted to make a painting with her.  She said, “I want someone to pour with and I thought, hell yeah Stephanie would be down.”  And Hell yeah I was.  Once I created that first piece, it opened up a reservoir that I never knew I had.  A creative spirit.  I spent the next few months dabbling in different pouring methods, never having a lot of time for it then because I was prioritizing other people.  Fast forward to living 30 minutes away from anyone I knew and being on a tight budget, I now had every night wide open.  I remembered being so consumed by loneliness, isolation and anxiety that I would be paralyzed.  At this point in my life though, I had tools.  I’d been creating a web of self care and self love for that very moment in time; I knew how to support myself.  The initial act of courage was always pulling myself out of bed and into something that could help me.


Suddenly, I started buying floetrol in bulk and 10 packs of canvases on sale.  I used old bed sheets on the floor and an extra massage table as my creating space.  The only route in Battle Creek(the city I was living in) I knew like the back of my hand was the same road that led to Michaels, Menards, and Meijer.  I felt like a real artist for the first time because I bought quality acrylics and could lose track of time for hours creating.  Now remember, I had like a 6 square foot space for this, and pour paintings take time to dry. So I always had paintings on the floor or cups scattered on my kitchen counter.  


Now when I would come home, 30 mins away from anyone I knew, I would see myself in forms of paint on canvases laying all over, on the walls, and on my one small round side table.  I would see how diverse and expansive I was ( still am ).  I would remind myself of interconnectedness.  I’d still let myself be consumed by loneliness, fear, isolation.  And I’d feel it, and see that I was surrounded by Love.  By Creation.  Creation heals.  Unlocking this vault led to me singing more, writing more, dancing more, connecting with myself more, connecting with my people more.  Feeling more confident in myself, releasing old habits, letting myself be.  Yes, creativity is that powerful.  That little space held me for a year.  A cocoon.  Where I left it even more raw than when I had entered, and more whole.


Each piece I’ve created is a piece of my heart.  My soul.  It’s a reminder of our humanness. And our divinity.  And how we all are struggling on some level, and it’s all valid.  Your struggle is valid.  No matter what it looks like on the outside.  You deserve to surround yourself with things that remind you of your humanness and divine power.  I create art to inspire you to be your best self.  To remind you of why we’re in it, and to keep going.  To please, keep going.  To transmute your pain into power.  To access your joy and open your heart to the oneness we all share.  Art is meant to hang on your wall, lean on your table, rest on your desk, be anywhere you want, to help you unlock your own potential.  Creating helped me heal so much that I want to touch your life, and whomever I can, and show you that creating helps you heal as well.  Creativity can help you feel connected to Earth and to others.(citation) And that’s what we need more of.  So make time for yourself and create.  Create with yourself, Create with others.  The most important thing is that you do it.


Now put it into practice.  Because passive reading gets you nowhere.  Practice and action do.  This week: Make time for yourself to create.  You must carve out time for yourself otherwise, you’ll keep putting it off.  Schedule 5, 10 mins.  Schedule an hour or two.  Whatever fits.  Practice with your kids, practice with your mom or grandma.  Do something creative, whether it’s painting, drawing, doodling, dancing, singing, writing, playing an instrument, or whatever else you find expansive and creative.  Do it.  And tell me in the comments what you did.  How you felt beforehand, and how you felt after.  I’d love to hear from you.

Citation:

Creative Healing: How to Heal Yourself by Tapping Your Hidden Creativity

By Michael Samuels, Mary Rockwood Lane