Gathering, Reflection, Insight & Action – The Power of Working with Images

As a creative, I have always been drawn to images – art, photography, illustration, collage and now Pinterest and Instagram. When I am creating my Full Moon Dreamboards or my yearly Vision Cards or want to add some visual beauty to my Studio Yearbook, I delight in gathering from books and magazines, bringing together a collection of images that feels just right to me. It becomes an expression of who I am and what I love – and it is full of clues.

If we look a little deeper at what we love,
we will learn more about who we are
and can even discover ways to take action
inspired by our deepest spirit.

Sounds lofty, I know, but I’ve seen it work for years and years and years. In Planning Day, for example, as we start to envision the year we want to be living, we choose an image to guide the way. It may be something that’s a clear expression of our known goals and dreams or it may be a mystery. Either way, as we start to reflect more deeply on what we have chosen, we start to unravel new layers of meaning.

This year I choose a string of beads. They look handcrafted and each one is different, imprinted with its own symbol. The colours are natural but show some contrast and seem to move from light and neutral to a beautiful dark blue hue. I don’t know why I chose this picture. These beads aren’t really my ‘style’. Still, the image spoke to me and I knew there would be wisdom here, if I would only listen. I took time to reflect. The process starts so simply, just taking a moment to notice.

What do I notice about this image? What does this image have to tell me about my desires for the new year?

The details quickly give way to associations and insights.

  • A string of beads, all unique: that seems like a gathering of creative spirits to me, the beauty of each individual maintaining their uniqueness while still being in it together.
  • The fuzziness of the beads that are furthest away and the detail when they come closer makes me think about the progression of time. Perhaps it’s time to start leaving more of the past in the past and turn my attention to the foreground. There is plenty to pay attention to there.
  • There is a mix of light and dark. I could interpret that as good and bad but I love the blue so much that it doesn’t seem right. Maybe since the colours move from all light to more blue means it’s about depth, the depth of knowledge, experience and individuation that comes with being further along in my life. Maybe the more I let go of the past, the more I will move into that rich, deep blue.

All that from some beads on the page.

But reflection and insight are only the first steps. Now that I know that, what am I going to do? I think about the gathering of people I hope to create next fall, every creative heart a beautiful individual bead. I think about how I might actively release more of my past, particularly anything that’s weighing me down or holding me back. I think about owning my wisdom, the knowledge I have gained from showing up to my life and to my work. I consider that indigo is the colour of the third eye chakra and see this as a message to lean into my intuition even more. That has me recommitting to my meditation practice, which also feels right in the broad context of the image, which feels very spiritual to me.

Gathering. Reflection. Insight. Action.

We can do this with our Pinterest boards too. Considering our upcoming reno, I’ve been going through this process with my “Home” board and with my “Style” board too, looking for insight. A wonderful place to start reflecting on a collection of images is to imagine that you do not know the person who pulled them together. What would you imagine about them? What do their choices say to you about who they are? (You can practice with me, if you like. What does my Lifestyle board tell you about me?)

Try it. And once you discover some fresh insight into the truth of you, see what it inspires you to do. Maybe it’s time to gather your people. Maybe it’s time to put up your feet and read a book. Maybe you need to buy those train tickets. Maybe revamping your wardrobe is in order. The clues will be there.

For creative hearts, working with images can be a profound and powerful way to deepen our understanding of ourselves and point us in a direction that resonates with our hearts. Interpreting your gatherings is a learned skill, one you hone with practice. I guarantee you that it will offer up rich and varied rewards.

The magic is right there.

Sometimes Adventure Find You

When I sat down to make my weekly plans on Monday, I sure didn’t have anything in there about “building a cat shelter” or “buying a bale of straw” but that’s exactly what I did! Because somehow, as we shift from the beauty of yellow leaves cascading against a blue autumn sky into the dull grey darkness of November rain, a cat has found her way into our backyard.

At first we spotted what looked like a furry egg on our deck furniture. A mostly white cat was curled up in a ball, sleeping. Other than “how sweet,” we didn’t think much of it. If a neighbourhood cat wants to nap in our backyard, they are welcome. But the next night, a quintessential “November in Toronto” night (i.e. cold, dark, rainy),the kind of night when all good kittens should be tucked in and cozy, she was there again. All night. Was she lost? Abandoned? Wild? We put one of our cat beds out to help her stay warm. She liked it.

I posted a picture on Facebook and eighbours said it was an outdoor cat that lives on the street behind us. The next day we discovered that no, this little boo as not Tallulah. So, we built a shelter. We snagged the last two Styrofoam coolers from the hardware store and cut into one of our bins. We lined our cozy fortress with a thick towel. It was the best thing we had on hand, though straw is recommended.

Homemade Cat Shelter

The next day promised snow so I was determined to find some straw. Apparently it wicks away moisture that the cat might bring in, keeping them drier and warmer than fabrics. Thanks to a lead from a local stray cat volunteer, I headed to the garden centre, confident I’d be able to carry a bale of straw on the bus. Not a chance! The bundle was half the size of me! Luckily a kindhearted taxi driver agreed to take me and the straw home. When he heard what I was using it for, he said, “God bless you.” “You too!” I said. “You are helping this happen. I was about to give up hope!”

My sister Suzie helped me fill the cat shelter with hay before the snow fell. Thank goodness! Though I’m not sure it matters because apparently Boo, as we’ve decided to call her, really likes the cat cubby.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with this little one. I can’t bring her inside because of our three. I’m not sure she could be convinced anyway. When I open the back door she still runs and scrambles up the fence. But I do think we’re building a relationship, bit by bit, and as long as I can figure out a way to help her, I will.

I didn’t know that I had a covenant with cats but it seems that I do. They keep showing up on my doorstep.