Forget Memory – Try Imagination

Where did you goI sit and watch as my mother desperately tries to remember my name. She sighs with frustration and then smiles saying, “We are related, aren’t we dear?” For several years, my responses as I see her mounting frustration and self-criticism are either “Memory is overrated” or “I can keep that memory for you mum.” Intuitively, I knew that there needed to be another way to communicate that didn’t rely on memory, that honoured the way my mum strung together disparate thoughts to explain her experience, but I didn’t have a vocabulary or framework for what I was sensing. Then I learned about the  Imagination Network. If memory is deteriorating, there is imagination. And how to foster imagination? Start with creativity, the arts, storytelling. My heart is singing.

One of the processes that the Imagination Network is using is called Time Slips, based on the work of Anne Basting. In 1996, Anne wondered if the improvisation and creative drama techniques would be helpful for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. After trying many reminiscence-based techniques, Basting shifted toward imagination – and the improvisation sessions took off. With pressure to remember removed, imagination took flight. Using an evocative photograph as a starting point, a facilitator guides people with dementia through a process to create a story. Then, a team of professional media and theatre artists, a group of community members—consisting of caregivers, family, seniors and volunteers—will design, create and produce new media and theatre works that reflect the original responses to the photographs. It is exciting to have this project underway here at the Good Samaritan Christenson Village. (I am looking forward to participating in a TimeSlips session. Look for the results during the Sunshine Coast Arts Crawl this fall.)

This is the (r)evolution in eldercare that I am seeking. I know in my bones that creativity and the arts have the power to transform lives. I know in my heart that our elders deserve better care, especially those with dementia. The arts in care facilities can be much more than a craft session. Using tools such as TimeSlips we can value our elders’ experiences and allow them to gift us with their expression. A deep bow of gratitude to all who are involved in this work. Now, to find some photos to show my mum. I wonder what stories she will create?

Navigating the Space Between Stories

Finding Her Way Margo HoweShe Who Guides the Way

If these are uncertain times, times of change, the “time between stories” in the words of author and speaker Charles Eisenstein, how do we find our way? This is the question I am quietly obsessing about.

The idea of the independent, isolated self is breaking down and we are moving into the time of the interdependent being and the mystery of the quantum self. Our economic systems are breaking down, our institutions are no longer venerated and old ways of relating to the stranger as “other than” are being challenged. Author and teacher Sandra Ingerman says that, from a Shamanic perspective, the planet and all of life is going through an initiation. We are being asked to shed or burn away our old identity and old ways of living that no longer serve us, all of life and the Earth. But how do we do this in a culture that has little or no understanding of initiation? What is the container for this burning away? Where do we stand while the old story dies and before a new story takes form?

She Who Guides the Way comes out of this questioning. Just over two years ago I began to paint, learning online with Shiloh Sophia McLeod and Cosmic Cowgirls University. Using Intentional Creativity, the canvas becomes a portal through which information can move. This information, for me, comes through images of the Sacred Feminine. She Who Guides the Way reminds me to draw on my inner compass, the compass of the heart’s knowing. And, to look to nature.

As I am beginning to understand, nature is leading the way in the changes that are a foot. Attuning to nature can protect me from over saturating myself with technology and data. The trees can remind me to stay rooted to the earth while drawing sustenance from the stars and the cosmos. The drops of rain, of tears, remind me to water the broken places inside me, in my community, and on this beautiful blue gem of a planet we call home.

Painting – inquiring, listening deeply to what wants to reveal itself – is one way that I am navigating this time of “inbetween”. What are you using to help you to move through this period of planetary change and transition?


She Longs

CloudsShe longs to walk between the worlds

to taste the sweetness of desire

to listen to unspoken words

to hear what hasn’t been said

She longs to walk between the worlds

with a feather as her guide

to stand rooted in the knowing

that lies beyond the eyes

to witness shapes take form

as raven sweeps his wing

to rest as as dreams take flight

to simply stand in prayer

She longs to walk between the worlds

as the heart turns towards the stars

to see her life unfolding

to witness every precious strand

to meet the weavers of our days

and listen to their stories

as thread flows through their hands

She longs to walk between the worlds

and does, each moment that she can

slipping quietly away

to listen to the light

to glimpse the photons dancing

to lean into the wind

to breath and to remember

the life that lives within.

A Wild Love for the World


I feel as if I have just been “dipped in beauty”. I’ve just listened to Joanna Macy being interviewed by Krista Tippett. Joanna Macy weaves together her lifelong passion for the earth and her translations of Rilke. I am in love. It was 55 minutes well spent.

“Joanna Macy is a philosopher of ecology, a Buddhist scholar, and an exquisite translator of the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. We take that poetry as a lens on her wisdom on spiritual life and its relevance for the political and ecological dramas of our time.”

Living Artfully

Line art on Scraped Paper

One of my visions is to have a spacious, well-lit studio that looks out onto a creek and forest. The studio is stocked with what ever art supply I need. And, wonders of wonders, the studio magically tidies itself up at night.

Playing with this vision while I napped this afternoon, I asked myself what is my true desire, my authentic desire, my heart’s desire? Is my true desire is to have a studio space or, is the true desire to live life artfully. Or, to live an art-filled life?

What would an artful life look like, feel like? It might be a life where I can follow the energy to shift, change and reveal patterns, be they patterns related to paint, paper, pen, and ink, or energetic patterns. Where I can co-create ceremony, celebrations, community. A life where I am a creator of content, of my life, rather than a consumer.

When I consider the desire for an artful life, I feel like I am growing wings. One moment the white, graceful feathered wings of a swan, another moment the powerful, wide wings of eagle, condor, hawk. And then, raven wings to twist and turn and dance within the forest.

And now, to the studio, to make some wings, to be a wingmaker, a dream weaver, an artist of my life.

Where is the place that I put my sorrow?

Black and white line Drawing micron pen


Where is the place that I put my sorrow?

It no longer ebbs and flows with the moon or blood, but rises unbidden

In the early morning.

It caught me unaware as I walked out of a dream.

There it was.

A gossamer woven through my connective tissue

Holding, unyielding, unbidden, unseen until

I called upon compassion, counted the flowers of my blessings

The sorrow rose,

To be held.

Bathed in love, the threads loosen, open, dissolve

Into the one heart.

image ©2012 Occupy Your Heart

We are Star Dust Called by the Universe


Oh my gosh, my heart and soul danced with delight while I watched this. Just feel into it –

Every atom in your body
Came from a star that exploded
You are all star dust
From a star that exploded (Neil Degrasse Tyson)

Imagine if we all re-membered our beginnings as stardust, if we all could connect with that divine spark from over 14 Billion years ago, if we could  see the magnificance of the universe contained within each of us. Imagine.

Find more:

Skeleton Woman


“She had done something of which her father disapproved, although no one remembered what it was. But her father had dragged her to the cliffs and thrown her over and into the sea.”

Three words from the opening lines of the story Skeleton Woman haunted me all night and into today. Last night I saw a wonderful dance performance, that brought the story of Skeleton Woman to life.

No one remembered. No one.

No one remembered.

And there she lay, in a bay where no one fished. They had forgotten why they didn’t fish there.

No one remembered.

What to I do, that I have forgotten why I do it. What have I abandoned, thrown over a cliff and forgotten why? What parts of me need to be reclaimed from the sea? What parts of me needs to be untangled, warmed by the fire and brought back to life, to dance the dance of life again?

These questions are asking me to live them into life.

What have you forgotten? What needs to be re-membered?

What has our culture forgotten? What needs to be re-membered? What needs to be brought up from under the sea so that we may dance the life we were meant to live?