animal totems in my yard

A monarch butterfly fluttered through our garden & into our neighbor’s garden startling & surprising both Larry & I. We stopped what we were doing & just watched, it didn’t quite don on me why it was so surprising until the next day snake slithered up my driveway to say hello. This time it was clear, both butterfly & snake are meant to be either hibernating or in Mexico for the winter not hanging out in Houston in the last days of November. Why were they here so late?

When I thought about the symbolic meaning of these beings, it made sense. Butterfly is about total & complete transformation from one form to liquid to another very different form. She was hanging out in our garden a little late for her, she missed the migration. I took this to mean it is never too late for me to completely transform. Even at 45 and even in the winter months when we are meant to rest, it’s not too late. One the other hand, hibernating can be considered transformative. It just looks like nothing is going on, but is it really?

My slithery friend the snake is a beautiful totem to reflect on. He is so close to the ground, connected & grounded completely to the earth, to Mother-Earth. Snakes speak to transformation, death & rebirth, the taking on of a new skin, new roles, responsibilities & even attitudes.

I definitely have been in a process of transformation these past few years. I’ve been shedding my old skin for a new one with new roles & definitely newer, softer attitudes. I’m still shedding the skin of my old identity as a Marine while at the same time taking on a new skin of an artist as I discover my voice, my deeper voice, each day with every creation.

Here is prairie dog with little-girl-pink-faery-wings sprayed on a utility box on Montrose by Coolidge (our version of Banksy). I first saw this image a month ago, but it was quickly painted over. When I drove by this one, I didn’t waste any time to capture it on my iPhone. I have a deep love for Prairie Dogs from my time in Santa Fe. They are everywhere up there & many are displaced or on the brink of being evicted from their homes – imagine an entire subdivision of families being evicted or “relocated” to a foreign space with new threats, etc (there’s a Pixar movie in there somewhere). They are fascinating community creatures & when they show up in your life, even as a graffiti they are nudging you in the direction of opening up to more community in your life (something I have been intentionally creating just this fall with art nights & coffee-house meet ups). So thank you Coolidge for painting Prairie Dog whimsically on our streets. I love it!

Altogether this is the message I took from these three encounters. Keep transforming even into the winter months, don’t stop, I don’t have another five years to get on with it, the time is now!! Second, stay grounded, keep shedding that old skin even into the winter months. Lastly, I am a community-being so continue to develop, open up to, be vulnerable with my community. Grow myself & my community together.

Hmmmm? I like that!

After photographing this prairie dog, I took a walk along Buffalo Bayou on the running trails thinking about this desire to just create art & share in a public physical space like street art, yet not in the illegal way, where being incarcerated is a possibility. I just think that art should be viewed by the masses & not made such a to-do about. I want it to be fun, not perfect, not even permanent, just raw expression shared. So what would that look like for me?

I reached an open field that had just been cleared of all its pesky trees (she says facetiously, but they were probably victims of the drought). All that was left were stumps (Giving Tree style) & thin straight sticks, the kind that are perfect for kindling. I suddenly was overcome with the urge to create my own non-permanent art just for the fun of it, to share with all the runners passing by. I saw something like this at Squam Art Workshops last September.  I picked up all the sticks while trying to stay out-of-the-way fo the runners, stacked them against the perfect tree & then gathered some brown leaves for the base. I just went with the feeling to create something out of nature, in nature, but wasn’t natural, so it would catch the eye, beg a question or two. This is what I created.

nature sculpture

It’s simple & subtle, yet intriguing. I didn’t have any red berries but I like the subtlety.

Lastly, along the vein of animal totems, Pixie Campbell blogged about creating your own bundle to burn for Winter Solstice. Check out her blog post Make Your Own Releasing Bundle Instructions . Larry & I are going to gather our community here in Houston & do ceremony on the Solstice. Wouldn’t it be great if we were all doing a ceremony similar to this around the world at the same time. Just a thought.

Much Love to all of you luscious beings,