Short Three Minute Meditation

Sometimes I like to create these Nature videos just for fun; the moments can be too beautiful not to share. I turned these clips into a short visual / audio meditation that can be used to start your day. For the days there is little time pause, or if it has been awhile since you were able to get out into nature, you can enjoy three minutes of pure Nature sounds. I am also cracking up at the end-credit in this video that I just realized is completely off-center *sheepish grin*
Hope you enjoy it nonetheless :) 

 

How to Talk To Trees (and why you should)

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The first time I talked to trees was as a child, although you tend to trust your actions more as a child, contemplate them less. 

In my early thirties was the first marked experience as an adult when a tree undoubtedly spoke to me. This is not something you can say to just anyone without them tilting their head sideways and giving you a goofy stare. I had been spending pretty much all of my free time hiking and reconnecting with Nature - more time than most would consider "normal," at least that judgment has been placed on me by more than a few people.

"Are you sure it's healthy to spend all your time that way?"

A woman once said that to me. 

For a time, I started to question whether or not that was true. Was I spending too much time alone in the woods? Was it turning me into someone weird and delusional? It wasn't long before I stopped asking myself those silly question and rooted deeper into my way of being that is indeed "normal" for me.  (And if these kinds of experiences are delusions, I enjoy them a helluva lot more than things I used to spend my time doing). 

On the day an enormous Grandfather Tree spoke to me, I was hiking alone on the edge of the lake in Delaware County, Ohio. The moment I caught the first glimpse of Grandfather Tree, there was a sudden urge to be nearer to him. So I went to him, placed my hands on the bark, looked up in awe and in a flash remembered the tree in my Grandmother's front yard that I used to climb frequently with my younger sister Jessica. Our little kid butts would fit perfectly into these "seats" that were formed where branches joined together, and we would climb from seat to seat, sitting in each one. "This one is mine!" I remembered my sister climbing above me exclaiming playfully, as I gazed in memory from an adult body that hadn't felt that kind of connection to a tree in a long time. 

It was as if the tree encouraged me to remember. 

The tree's roots twisted up out of the Earth and across the soil in an artful display. I sat on them, held onto one of the roots with my hand, closed my eyes, and did a short meditation. When I opened my eyes I had a bunch of scattered, new information in my awareness. I did not consciously arrive at the ideas, nor had I ever considered them before (which made the sudden presence of alien thoughts in my psyche even more peculiar). That is the only way I know how to describe it. 

I took several photos of the Tree before I left and all I could think about for the rest of the day was how I thought the tree communicated new ideas to me. Basically letting me know, telling me straight up, that it was a conscious being. The way it had done it was really subtle. There were no words, just flashes of imagery and feelings, mostly. Those flashes and feelings lead to a great deal of insight, over time, which ended up answering a lot of my existential questions.

I have attempted to share this information with people in a number of ways, but the way that worked best was via the card I created in the Universal Mind Oracle Deck entitled, "Giver, Karma." The tree on the card was the Grandfather Tree from this story :) 

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HOW TREES COMMUNICATE WITH ONE ANOTHER

Trees communicate with one another, transporting nutrients through intricate underground root systems that become interlinked through fungal threads, or mycelium. These "Mother Trees" are able to recognize their own seedlings and tend to favor them, sending nutrients through the dense mycelium highways to help their youth grow into strong, resilient adult trees. Such communication enriches the forest and its root systems.

It is a gift to experience the consciousness of Trees; we can sense their wisdom, experience, and life-sustaining vibrations. 

Source: Yale Environment 360: Exploring How and Why Trees Talk to Each Other

WHY TALK TO TREES?

It makes sense that Trees would communicate with one another, but why would a human attempt to talk to a tree? There are many reasons - the first being the sheer joy and wonderment of the experience. The next reason I would offer, is to thank them for what they do. Just how much they do for us is not something I considered during my teens and 20's. I like this article about the reasons trees are so important.  Talking to the trees helps us tap into, and reconnect with our intuitive language. We may be conditioned to use words most of the time, but there is an entire language that doesn't need words that exists all around us, all of the time. The insight and clarity I have received through the many interactions I've had with trees is awe-inspiring. They have so much wisdom to share about our Earthly, human experiences and can help us remember that humans and animals are not the only conscious beings on the planet. Through that, we begin to respect our surroundings more while at the same time, tuning into ourselves and our true nature. It was not so long ago that speaking to the trees was "normal" and natural. 

HOW TO TALK TO TREES


There are many ways to talk with trees and other elements in nature. I will list some of them here, but I encourage you to go out and experiment in your own way. Sometimes they will let you know they are listening, through the rustle of a branch, a gentle isolated breeze, or simply a feeling in the core of your body that feels a bit like butterflies fluttering about. 

1. Place your hands on a tree, or its roots, close your eyes, and tune into its energy. 

2. Gaze upon the tree and simply observe it. Many times this will bring thoughts, questions, and answers up from the subconscious and into your conscious awareness. 

3. Study a tree that you are drawn to and get in touch with its textures, leaves, colors. Get to know the properties of the tree and journal about how it applies to your life at present. 

4. Sit with a tree and silently offer gratitude for its presence. As you do that, begin to open up to the tree in the same way you would a trusted friend, then listen from the center of the heart. Don't judge or overthink the experience, just give it a try and see what happens. 


SKEPTICAL? 

If you're still not convinced after reading this article, here are a few others that might strike your fancy.

1. A Biologist Believes That Trees Speak a Language we can Learn. - QZ.com

2. Do Trees Talk to Each Other? Smithsonian Mag

3. Yes, Trees Really Do Talk - Daily Mail

4. In the Language of Trees: How Plants can Teach us to Communicate - Wakeup World

The Seeker's Oracle | VALLEY

The tentative card name for this finished piece is: "Valley", for the upcoming
sequel / companion deck to The Universal Mind, called The Seeker's Oracle. There is no release date for this deck yet, but you can check back here for updates as the artwork takes shape.

The Seeker's Oracle can be worked with as a standalone deck, even though it will carry over seamlessly from The Universal Mind (part one).  Readers who are already acquainted with The Universal Mind Oracle likely notice that as the deck moves past card 22, "Journey," the artwork swings in a slightly different direction as it builds toward card 44, "The Universal Mind". The more and more you work with The Universal Mind Oracle, the more you can see how it reads somewhat like a story from card 01 to card 44. Card 01, Synchronicity, represents the cues we are given, those subtle clues and deja-vus that often turn out to be the starting point of a whole new phase of our lives. Then, card 44 is deeper knowing - in other words, the reader has moved beyond the hunches and stands strong with wide-open, conscious awareness of all that is. The next phase in one's journey, if we one were to begin from the point of this card, is where The Seeker's Oracle comes in.

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The Seeker's Oracle puts off a distinctive energy for enlightened seeking, where the reader approaches the cards with a sense of certainty, groundedness, confirmation. Alternately, in the Universal Mind, one is a bit more uncertain, still in deep-self-discovery-mode. Of course, we do cycle back through the self-discovery phase many times in our lives. Readers who will likely connect with The Seeker's Oracle are those who are coming back home to themselves after what has felt like a long journey, feeling refreshed, with more awareness and heightened intuition. The Universal Mind Oracle provides peaceful support and encouragement, while The Seeker's Oracle will offer sustained focus, empowered vision, and next-level intuitive work. 

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Without further ado, here is: Valley.


I'm curious to know how this card speaks to you! Feel free to leave a comment below. 

Thanks for stopping by, 
Michelle

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Mextures App Formula Code for Your Early Morning Photographs

I often get comments about the pastel color tones I use in my photographs. While I don't use the Mextures App for everything, it is one of my favorite image processing tools for mobile photos. 

I've been using Mextures since... well, maybe the beginning of its existence! While some of the artistic filters/textures can be harsh or overdone, the more you work with the Mextures App the more you realize it can also be used as a subtle enhancing tool. One of the coolest things about the app is that you can save your filter presets as "formulas", which then generate a formula code that can be shared. This allows artists to exchange filter formulas for free! I've developed my own personal style within Mextures thanks to testing and playing with formulas to find what I like / don't like and over the years have created 69 formulas to date. 

I really like to enhance the colors of my nature photos *just enough* to give them a dreamy touch, without feeling overdone. If you love the magic hour like me, you'll love the following Mextures Import Formula I created. It's useful when you can't *quite* get Mother Nature's dawn / dusk colors to translate into a photo.

The code for this Mextures formula is: SQDAKZD

To import the code, simply open Mextures, select 'Manage', click the red ' + ' sign at the bottom of the window, then enter the formula code. Importing and using the code is 100% free. 

Once the formula is imported you can easily tweak the levels to suit your tastes.

Enjoy! 

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Love Poems: Project Unfolding

If my memory serves me correctly, I was 9 or 10 years old when we were taught to write limericks at school. My first limerick was about a Unicorn eating stew: 

 

"A Unicorn quietly flew

Back to her home for some stew

She gobbled it down, 

Feet off the ground! 

That is what she likes to do."

 

Writing in verse quickly became one of my favorite pastimes as a child and as I grew into an adult, writing lyrics, stories, and poetry became one of the ways I processed my feelings and emotions. Writing, in general, is something I've always done whether journaling or poetry or researching or blogging. Professionally-speaking, I've done copywriting, course writing, and spiritual writing, but recently I have been doing different things with writing, and fusing it together with photography / illustration in various ways.

Last year, The Universal Mind Oracle Deck was released with a written guidebook, and it was like a door to another world opened afterward. I haven't stopped creating new images, and I haven't stopped writing. I just didn't know what to do with the ideas, how to organize them, or what to do next. It's easy to want to do everything all at once. 

In the grand scheme of things I view one's journey to clarity more as unfolding. Humans are much like perennial flowers; unfolding, blooming for a time, withering, dying, staying dormant for awhile, and then reemerging. 

I'd always wanted to compile my poetry, and actually I did several years back in 2012 release a free volume of prose and poetry on Scribd called "Quiet: Reflections," but pulled it off the website after feeling disappointed about the project as a whole. Since then I've learned the value of giving things time to grow, strengthening your approach, and digging deeper within yourself to do whatever inner-work needs to be done.

Next?

Reemergence, like perennials, with new petals and colors and fresh fragrance. 

So... I started again last year, compiling and revising and creating anew. I've also sidetracked myself along the way with irrelevant projects and endeavors, but I think in some ways we are good at unconsciously sabotaging ourselves when we have lingering fears that have not yet been attended to. 

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It's interesting how things start coming together, without realizing anything is coming together at all. 

Last August (2017) I made some images of the night sky. Then on a cold day out hiking in February, I took some images of icicles. Both of those efforts turned out to be the perfect fit for cover art to a collection of love poems I'm assembling. Here's the progression:

 

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I'll share more information on this project as it unfolds! Thank you for reading. I would love to hear what the cover art evokes within you. 

Blessings,
Michelle

A Story: Cloud the Cricket

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While I was getting ready one day last summer (2017), I noticed a small grasshopper in the bathroom. My boyfriend pointed her out to me a little later in the hallway (yes, we both either let insects just do their thing, or put them back outside). We did some research and realized she was actually a green cricket.

While I thought she was absolutely adorable, I didn't expect her to jump onto my arm and live with us for five days... but that's what happened.

So I made her a giant bed of wild greens, set it up in the living room with a few branches for her to climb around on, and watched her behavior for an embarrassing number of hours. I made videos and some photographs of her to add to my stock portfolio.

I didn't know it yet, but the day she showed up ended up being one of the most devastatingly awful days I'd had all year. Later that night, life's events at the time got the best of me and I ended up crying myself to sleep.

(To be honest, I hardly slept.)

The next morning, I woke around 6 a.m. to find little miss cricket had gone up one of the branches and seemed to be pretty cozy there.

I certainly didn't expect to have a morning cup of coffee with an insect, but that's what happened. 

And not only that, she made me laugh; she trailed along the branch back down to the plate of greens for some breakfast. It was just too cute for words. She needed a name. Cloud.

When my boyfriend woke up that day, he was unexpectedly called into work. This would have normally been kind of a bummer to wake up to, yet he too was mesmerized by Cloud's adorableness and sat with us for awhile before he left. And that's how it went for the next few days while I processed through some dark emotions, Cloud kept me company. I can't begin to describe the close connection I felt to this little green cricket. She arrived with perfect sweetness during a time I might have otherwise allowed thoughts to become all-consuming. And had we not crossed paths, Cloud might not have survived.

I was certain the Universe had brought us together.

When she started getting braver and climbing around on the walls, I figured it was time to put her back outside. As silly as it sounds, that was pretty hard to do.

Several weeks earlier I'd been reading from a book called "Teachings From the American Earth: Indian Religion and Philosophy'"  which talks about placing yourself "lesser than an ant," in every interaction... when observing all things... to bring oneself into the experience of pure presence. You become the thing you are observing, in a sense. You become one with all. When Cloud showed up, that is exactly what I was able to practice with her, just what I needed at just the right time.

When we create space for these kinds of interactions with other beings by becoming lesser than an ant, all beings become our sacred teachers.

p.s. - here's a video of her. 

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