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    Storm Journey Campaign is On!

    Storm Journey Campaign is On!

    And we're launched!!  Please visit the Storm Journey Story Cards crowd-funding site on Kickstarter, to join the effort funding this printing project. 

    Watch my campaign video and read about this powerful conversation tool to help us talk about the hard things that matter.

    If you like what you see and want to make a pledge, you're essentially pre-ordering your decks.  And if we meet our goal, we'll be able to give them for the holidays.  

    Let's do this together.  We belong in a story of hope!

     

    UPDATE:  Campaign success!

    179 people helped raise $13,325 to get these new decks printed.  Hurrah!!  And THANK YOU!

    Storm Journey Story Cards will be available in this website shop soon, around December 15.

    New Storm Journey Story Cards -- Coming Soon

    New Storm Journey Story Cards -- Coming Soon

    Hurrah!!  Finally, after two years out of print, the Storm Journey story is ready to go in a new deck format.  With 26 Story Cards of art and text, and a Guide Booklet full of Conversation Questions, this is a resource made to spark meaningful interactions about the more difficult aspects of life.  

    The Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign starts soon, with your chance to support the printing process and pre-order your decks.  Watch the campaign page here, and you can sign up to be notified the minute it launches.

    I'm excited to offer this new tool, and hope it will be useful to help us move through struggle and into community.

    --Melanie

    Second Edition Art & Wisdom Cards

    Second Edition Art & Wisdom Cards

    It's quite a milestone:  I've sold 1800 Listen For Joy Art & Wisdom Card Decks, and I just received the third printing of 1000 more.  Wow!   My inventory shelves are full again, and I love imagining all those cards and booklets inspiring people all across the country and the world.

    It made sense to celebrate with a Second Edition for this latest printing.  I wanted to incorporate a few tweaks to help new customers understand the purpose of the decks a little better.  But don't worry-- the cards themselves are exactly the same!  In fact, if you held the old and new decks side-by-side, the differences are small.  I made some slight changes to the box cover titles, back-of-the-box words, and booklet text.  

    The most noticeable adjustment in this new edition is a shift in the order of the booklet sections.  I switched "Out of Balance" and "In Balance" on the card theme pages.  Simply put, each page now ends with the more positive "In Balance" paragraph.  It's an uplifting difference that simply hadn't occurred to me when I first created the decks.  If you already use the decks, you might try reading the sections in this new order to see how it feels to you.

    Other than that, the images continue to inspire just as they are, and I've only changed a few words of the text here and there.  Two and a half years ago, Christianne Squires of Bookwifery and I did some rather fine listening, writing, and editing that has stood the test of time.  I'm still humbled and amazed by that whole process.  Thank you, Christianne!

    I hope you'll continue to recommend the decks to your friends and colleagues, and to give them as gifts as the occasions arise.  Your support means the world to me, and it keeps these Art & Wisdom Cards moving out into the world to serve hearts, minds, and spirits.  Thank you.

    Watch for a new crowdfunding campaign coming soon-- it's time to reprint Storm Journey in a new Story Card / deck format!  I'm excited about the change and timeliness of that story.  Please sign up for my email newsletter list at the bottom of this website page (if you aren't already on the list) to be sure you get the latest news.

    Thanks again, and blessings!

    Business Capacity as a Spiritual Practice

    Business Capacity as a Spiritual Practice

    I'm giving thanks for a new business coach, a timely entrepreneurial grant, and great sales at an international Play Therapists' conference in Texas.  I had no idea that a focus on business would be such fruitful spiritual practice. 

    More than ever, I want to share the gifts of art and wisdom I've been given.  So this year I've worked extra hard to implement some new strategies to welcome more customers and expand my connections.  You've likely seen the new website, but behind the scenes you haven't seen the new shipping application, social media classes, bookkeeping changeover to Quickbooks Online with a new chart of accounts, new shipping strategies for traveling sales, and extra inventory and shipping shelves in our garage.  Each of these steps required flexibility, courage, and trust-- all qualities my soul has been wanting to practice, I guess!

    But wait, there's more-- the Spirit isn't finished inviting me to make sales and goals into prayer and gratitude.  My next projects to build my business spiritually and systemically include a cash flow analysis, integrating inventory systems with bookkeeping software, and adding a few new conference exhibitor events. Thank goodness I am working with some terrific teachers, like my coaches Julianna and Kris at WESST and Susie and Sammie at Checks and Balances For You.

    Along the way, I've received some surprising affirmation and support. For example, the inventory/bookkeeping work has been supported by a generous Power Up matching grant, sponsored by Power New Mexico and administered by WESST.  And I've made some fascinating new friends who like talking shop, literally.  :-)

    Thanks be for all of this amazing help and faith in my work!

    I look forward to growing the ways I can serve, as I stretch my skills and spiritual imagination in the business world.

     

    Keeping Vigil

    Keeping Vigil

    About a month ago, I finished this third Fox painting.  (Yay!)  Not knowing what title to give it, I posted the art on Facebook and Instagram for impressions and feedback.  I wanted to know what others would see in the image without any words attached.  Right away, many people offered rich ideas and insight!  The painting definitely caught some attention.  And yet the trend of responses was different than I expected.  

    When I made this painting, I was wrestling with difficult news in the world and in our family.  The US headlines and reporting blistered my heart with stories of three mass shootings in just as many days-- in El Paso, California, and Ohio.  Greed, injustice, and denial poured through just about every other article or TV segment I saw.  The unchecked power of a few violent or self-interested men threatened over and over to drown out the will and well-being of the people.  

    At this same time, my wife, Hollin, was undergoing additional testing while recovering from breast cancer surgery.  Her medical situation was already compromised by her chronic illness, which made even the tests themselves painful and dangerous.  We were anxious waiting for results under the threat of more cancer or complication.  

    In the midst of these stressful, frightening situations, I returned to an unfinished painting of a dark circle full of scratchy and powerful marks.  It mirrored my internal grief and anger.  It felt like the lostness and mystery of pain.  And then I waited. 

    (Well, actually... I fretted a lot about that waiting, because really I wanted to make a kind of timely statement about gun violence and fear.  I wanted to Say Something in the wake of those shootings and Hol's serious allergic reaction to a CT scan.  But nothing quick or perfect appeared.  So I waited some more.)  

    Eventually, Fox let me know s/he wanted to be facing that darkness-- looking toward it and not away from it.  Waiting in it and with it.  Whether the dark represented pain, grief, lostness, mystery, unfolding, or possibility, it called the Fox to stand right there.  In fact, once Fox stepped into the dark, I felt/knew the Fox was joining a candlelight vigil. 

    Back on Facebook and Instagram, people more often saw fireflies in this painting. They used words like "wonder," "hope," "witness," "wholeness," "illumination," etc.  Because of my personal experiences of struggle during its creation, the cheerful and positive interpretation in many of these posts felt a bit disorienting to me.  For a moment, I wondered whether I'd failed to communicate through this art. 

    But then I got interested in these two perspectives side by side.  For shorthand, I'll call them pain and hope.  I became fascinated by the conversation the two were having inside me.  And I noticed them engaging each other in the world around me too.  I decided to hand write the words from the social media posts, along with my own ideas for a title.  Then I typed out words about strife and struggle that I found in the news media and within Hol's cancer surgery and treatment.  It's quite a powerful thing to read them:

    Columns of words in juxtaposition.

    What do these lists feel like to you?  When I read the words about wonder and hope, something in me says, "Yes, stand right here in the strength of creativity, imagination, and joy."  When I read the painful word columns and actually imagine the suffering, at first I want to pull back.  But then something deep in my soul calls me to stay with it, and not look away. I notice that both hope and pain ask me to be present, to be open, to be right here, keeping a sacred vigil. 

    In the painting, I imagine that Fox has stepped into this practice of presence.  Whether the points of light are people holding candles in El Paso or fireflies pulsing in unison in the forest, Fox is standing there, witnessing. 

    Sometimes Fox is keeping watch alongside pain, fear, anger, sorrow.  Maybe Fox is looking directly at the truth about immigrant imprisonment, the pervasive reality of sexual trauma, or the impact of global climate disruption.  Yet sometimes Fox is keeping a "vigil of mystery," as poet Jessica Powers says, on the lookout for miracles, beauty, and the possibilities available in the unknown.  Maybe Fox has a fierce faith in transformative justice movements, the healing power of claiming our stories, and the wonders of intuition and invention.

    In my wisest, wild imagination, Fox leads us even further, toward a capacity to be present simultaneously with both pain and hope.  When I've experienced it (in moments, by grace, I think) it's quite a powerful thing to keep my eyes and heart open to suffering AND to faith or creativity at the same time.  For example, although it’s no easy thing, a little more often I can sit with my wife's fear and ache without bracing against it or trying to fix it, knowing her wisdom will guide her through.  Once in a while I can humbly hold my belief in her healing alongside the very real stories of her setbacks.  Oh dear ones, I wish I could better explain how freeing it feels when I don't have to choose between pain or hope, without diminishing or closing my eyes to either one.  In those moments, I get to be more fully present, here, and available.  More connected.  More ready to respond.

    I believe we need this solidarity of presence right now, in order to address the stress and wounding in our times.  We simply cannot look away from either pain or hope in any of our relationships-- personal, political, economic, global, ecological, etc.  What could it be like to bring our open eyes and hearts to the dark stillness in a spiritual gathering, to give witness to both suffering and to possibility?  I wonder what call we would hear then?  

    Like Fox, I'm asked to step in and keep that sacred vigil.  You're invited too.

     

    Fox looks at points of light in the dark

     

    Purchase an Art Print of Vigil
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    Health update:  Hol's additional scans were clear!!  No extra cancer.  We're thrilled.  She's started radiation treatments and it's rough, but we're walking the healing journey one day at a time.
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