#IPromiseMe: An Alchemist without a Cauldron

From my last post  you know that I’ve made a promise to me to center my life through me. My dreams, longings, desires and health are vital; I need them in order to do my work in the world, to be of service.

When Spider Woman suggested I discern what my guideposts were, I was intrigued. What are the structures upon which I build the tapestry, the web, of my life. What’s always there, even when I jump an outdated web.

Music was the first and most obvious guidepost. I discovered long ago that if I’m not doing music of some kind, I just don’t feel like myself. My family sang, we all played instruments and without Barry Manilow I’m not sure I would have made it through my teens.

The next two guideposts took more thought, but the last one was quite a challenge. It took me weeks and when I wasn’t even thinking about it, it suddenly occurred to me.

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Photo by Anton Darius | @theSollers on Unsplash

I’m an alchemist, always have been. This conjures up images of fire, smoke and some chemical reaction. Merriam Webster offers this definition of an alchemist: someone who transforms things for the better. I like to think of alchemy as the blending of two or more elements, the combination of which is greater than their sum.

I like working with other people, blending our gifts and talents. I love cooking and how one ingredient can totally transform a dish. I love the secrets of how to take the sour out of tomato sauce or how toasting a grain before adding it to water can make a dish sparkle with depth and flavor notes.

I have a gift for seeing the many aspects present in a person, group, piece of music, … I sense how the different elements combine to create possibilities – like a kaleidoscope changing with a shift in light or touch.

I am brilliant at story – catching the nuances of telling that can shift an audience, a heart, a life.

I have experienced the incredible beauty of a circle of strangers, stuck in their own stories, transforming each other and ultimately the world. This is magic, alchemy.

I feel most centered as an alchemist when I do SpiritSong. The whole world becomes a cauldron, filled with all the elements, potentials and possibilities. I simply open; I become the instrument – both most purely myself and most free of self. Spirit moves through the song like a ladle blending the contents of the cauldron until it’s “better”.

Ritual is the other place where, for me, alchemy is so tenderly present. The work of seeing the micro in the macro; the internal and external; of using movement, music, intention, connection – to heal and transform. It’s all remarkable to me to feel these shift and see them ripple out into the world.

It’s only since my work with Spider Woman that I’ve identified this aspect of my being, which speaks so sweetly to my heart. Naming it has been quite powerful. As I move through life, I find myself saying, “yes, alchemy is what I’m doing here.” It’s a regular dance, this alchemy – whether I’m cooking, singing, healing, writing, leading circle, inviting just the right combination of folks for tea, …

Last week I had an appointment with a new primary healthcare practitioner. I’ve been putting it off because my experiences in the last few years can be characterized as painful and unhelpful. I’ve felt like a statistic and when results come back that don’t support what they were statistically sure was the issue, they shrug their shoulders and send me on my way (after offering meds for the issue they were sure I had, but can’t substantiate). I received my health intake in the mail and dutifully filled it out. I realized that their questions were going to take me to the same experience I’ve been having. I wanted to cancel, but something in me rallied.

“I’m an alchemist. I can make this better.”

I sat down and made a list of all the things I’ve been noticing about my health. I included my concerns and a list of my goals/priorities. I kept the list handy and over the next few days added to it until I felt it represented who I am and how I feel in my body.

Then, I adjusted my attitude. If I wanted the best of this new practitioner, I needed to bring my best – including an expectation of a positive, hopeful and practical coming together in support of my health and well-being.

I left the appointment feeling positive and hopeful about our plan. I had practical steps to take immediately, some tests scheduled and even a tentative diagnosis that actually makes sense to me. Best of all, as she left, my practitioner said, “It’s an honor to be on this journey with you.” I felt deeply listened to, cared for, supported and really motivated. Alchemy!

As I promised me, I brought myself fully into the process. I made it better by stepping into the center of those statistics and saying, “This is me.”

I’m grateful to share this direction from Spider Woman and the ways that I navigate it all.  I also love hearing from you. What are you promising yourself?

Thanks for reading and being part of my circle.

Blessings, ~ Coleen

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