burn the witch

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i get knocked down

and i get up again…….


Failure is a universal human experience—it’s just part of life that things will happen that you don’t want to happen.

When her granddaughter was accepted to Naropa University, the celebrated author Pema Chödrön promised that she’d speak at the commencement ceremony.

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better contains the wisdom shared on that day. “What do we do when life doesn’t go the way we hoped?” begins Pema. “We say ‘I’m a failure.’” But what if failing weren’t just “okay”… but a vital thread that can help connect us both personally and professionally to others. Here, Pema Chödrön offers us her heartfelt advice on facing the unknown. We can learn how our missteps can open our eyes to see new possibilities, purpose, and a new integrated approach to our lives.


7 Lessons To Turn Toward Failure And Move Forward – By Pema Chödrön


No one ever knows what is going to happen next.

But these transition times—between something being set and things being uncertain—are times of enormous potential.

Anything is possible.


There is a lot of emphasis on succeeding. And whether we buy the hype or not, we all want to succeed, especially if you consider success as “it works out the way I want it to.” You know it feels good in the gut and in the heart because it worked out. So failing by that definition is that it didn’t work out the way you wanted it to. And [failing] is what we don’t usually get a lot of preparation for.

So fail, fail again, fail better. It’s like how to get good at holding the rawness of vulnerability in your heart.


We can’t get in a good relationship or we are in a relationship that ends painfully or we can’t get a job. Or we are fired from the job we have.

There are usually two ways that we deal with that. We either blame it on somebody else or some other—the organization, our boss, or partner, whatever. We have this feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong with us.

One of the ways to sort of pull yourself up or help yourself to hold this is to begin to question what is really happening when there is a failure.


So someone gave me a quote, something from James Joyce’s Ulysses, where Joyce wrote about how failure can lead to discovery. And he actually didn’t use the word “failure”; he used the word “mistake,” as in making a mistake. He said, that mistakes can be “the portals of discovery.”

Sometimes you experience failed expectations as heartbreak and disappointment, and sometimes you feel rage. Failure or things not working out as you’d hoped doesn’t feel good; that’s for sure. But at that time, maybe instead of doing the habitual thing of labeling yourself a “failure” or a “loser” or thinking there is something wrong with you, you could get curious about what is going on. If you can just remember that you never know where something will lead.


Getting curious about outer circumstances and how they are impacting you, noticing what words come out and what your internal discussion is, this is the key.

“Fail better” means you begin to have the ability to hold the rawness of vulnerability in your heart, and see it as your connection with other human beings and as a part of your humanness. Failing better means when these things happen in your life, they become a source of growth, a source of forward, a source of out of that place of rawness you can really communicate genuinely with other people.

Your best qualities come out of that place because it’s unguarded and you’re not shielding yourself.


And so I can tell you that it is out of this same space that come our best human qualities of bravery, kindness, and the ability to really reach out to and care about each other. It’s where real communication with other people starts to happen, because it’s a very unguarded, wide-open space in which you can go beyond the blame.

The question is, are you going to grow or are you going to just stay as you are out of fear and waste your precious human life by status quo-ing instead of being willing to break the sound barrier? Break the glass ceiling, or whatever it is in your own life?


I suggest finding the willingness to go forward instead of staying still, which is essentially going backward, particularly when you have a calling in some direction. That calling needs to be answered. And it’s not necessarily going to work out the way you want it to work out, but it is taking you forward, and you are leaving the nest. And that never can be a mistake—to fly instead of staying in the nest….. reposted from



starting a group- the artist’s way

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A Guide for Starting Creative Clusters

Creative ClustersWhen The Artist’s™ Way was first published, I expressed a wish for Artist’s™ Way groups to spring into being. I envisioned them as peer-run circles – “creative clusters” where people would serve one another as believing mirrors, uniting with the common aim of creative unblocking. It was my vision that such circles would be free of charge, that anyone could assemble one, using the book as a guide and a text. Many such peer-run circles did form and many more are forming still. Such artist-to-artist, heart-to-heart help and support are the heart of The The Artist’s™ Way and The Vein of Gold.
Not surprisingly, many therapists, community colleges, wellness centers, universities, and teachers soon began running facilitated Artist’s™ Way groups, for which they charged a fee. The Artist’s™Way groups were led rather than simply convened. To the degree to which they adhered to the spiritual principles of creative recovery and introduced people to the use of the tools, they were – and are – valuable. Any group that starts with such a leader should, however, rapidly become autonomous, “graduating” to a peer-run, nonprofit status.
There are no “accredited” Artist’s™ Way teachers. I chose not to franchise The Artist’s™ Way but to offer it as a gift, free of charge. It is my belief that creative recovery at its best is a nonhierarchical, peer-run, collective process. In this it differs from the academic and therapeutic models. Any professional using The Artist’s™ Way should realize that autonomous, peer-run creative clusters must remain the eventual goal. Facilitated groups can serve as a sort of bridge to this end.
In my years of teaching and traveling, I have frequently encountered excellent results from peer-group clusters. On occasion, I have encountered situations where The Artist’s™ Way has been unduly modified. Whenever there is a misplaced emphasis on intellectual “analysis” or therapeutic “processing,” there is the risk of undermining creative unfolding. Very often, what could be interpreted as “neurosis” or a deep-seated problem is simply creative resistance.
The Artist’s™ Way and The Vein of Gold and all my other “teaching” books are experiential books. They are intended to teach people to process and transform life through acts of creativity. Both books and all creative clusters should be practiced through creative action, not through theory. As an artist, I know this. The Artist’s™ Way and other books are the distillate of thirty years of artistic practice.
It is my belief and my experience as a teacher that all of us are healthy enough to practice creativity. It is not a dangerous endeavor requiring trained facilitators. It is our human birthright and something we can do gently and collectively. Creativity is like breathing – pointers may help, but we do the process ourselves. Creative clusters, where we gather as peers to develop our strength, are best regarded as tribal gatherings, where creative beings raise, celebrate, and actualize the creative power which runs through us all.


  1. Use a Twelve-Week Process with a Weekly Gathering of Two to Three Hours. The morning pages and artist dates are required of everyone in the group, including facilitators. The exercises are done in order in the group, with everyone, including the facilitator, answering the questions and then sharing the answers in clusters of four, one chapter per week. Do not share your morning pages with the group or anyone else. Do not reread your morning pages until later in the course, if you are required to do so by your facilitator or your own inner guidance.
  2. Avoid Self-Appointed Gurus. If there is any emissary, it is the work itself, as a collective composed of all who take the course, at home or otherwise. Each person is equally a part of the collective, no one more than another. While there may be”teachers,” facilitators who are relied on during the twelve-week period to guide others down the path, such facilitators need to be prepared to share their own material and take their own creative risks. This is a dialectic rather than a monologue – an egalitarian group process rather than a hierarchical one.
  3. Listen. We each get what we need from the group process by sharing our own material and by listening to others. We do not need to comment on another person’s sharing in order to help that person. We must refrain from trying to”fix” someone else. Each group devises a cooperative creative “song” of artistic recovery. Each group’s song is unique to that group – like that of a pod or family of whales, initiating and echoing to establish their position. When listening, go around the circle without commenting unduly on what is heard. The circle, as a shape, is very important. We are intended to witness, not control, one another. When sharing exercises, clusters of four within the larger groups are important: five tends to become unwieldy in terms of time constraints; three doesn’t allow for enough contrasting experience. Obviously, not all groups can be divided into equal fours. Just try to do so whenever you can.
  4. Respect One Another. Be certain that respect and compassion are afforded equally to every member. Each person must be able to speak his own wounds and dreams. No one is to be”fixed” by another member of the group. This is a deep and powerful internal process. There is no one right way to do this. Love is important. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to one another.
  5. Expect Change in the Group Makeup. Many people will – some will not – fulfill the twelve-week process. There is often a rebellious or fallow period after the twelve weeks, with people returning to the disciplines later. When they do, they continue to find the process unfolding within them a year, a few years, or many years later. Many groups have a tendency to drive apart at eight to ten weeks (creative U-turns) because of the feelings of loss associated with the group’s ending. Face the truth as a group; it may help you stay together.
  6. Be Autonomous. You cannot control your own process, let alone anyone else’s. Know that you will feel rebellious occasionally – that you won’t want to do all of your morning pages and exercises at times in the twelve weeks. Relapse is okay. You cannot do this process perfectly, so relax, be kind to yourself, and hold on to your hat. Even when you feel nothing is happening, you will be changing at great velocity. This change is a deepening into your own intuition, your own creative self. The structure of the course is about safely getting across the bridge into new realms of creative spiritual awareness.
  7. Be Self-Loving. If the facilitator feels somehow “wrong” to you, change clusters or start your own. Continually seek your own inner guidance rather than outer guidance. You are seeking to form an artist-to-artist relationship with the Great Creator. Keep gurus at bay. You have your own answers within you.

reprinted from

and in the spirit of the creative source, an homage to the concept of creating something new- the remix. remixes are the newer generations nod to appreciation of an piece of art and building upon it. this is one of many many remixes that have made an impact on me.

la avispa

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two things have taken place in the last 24 hours which hopefully have cracked my world’s dull veneer. firstly, i am taking a break from facebook. it almost feels as if i have been breathing carbon monoxide. i have been attached at the wrist and undoubtedly need time away. and secondly, i had a conversation awhile ago with my friend alex about jump-starting the creative juices. perhaps he doesn’t need it, but i most definitely do. i have been struggling with posting and this has previously proved to be an amazing outlet for my brain. anyway, the idea was that my friend and i might continue writing a story bit by bit. a few paragraphs sent for an addition and then sent back… and  so on. here is what i came up with to perhaps start that process.
La Avispa
The honeybee has somehow been a recurring theme in his life. Definitely not the more visible bumblebee with its yellow and black armor, or not the more potentially bothersome wasp which travels in gangs and can be provoked without warning,  but  the delicate and single-minded honeybee designed and contented to flock from one bloom to another sustaining itself for another day as it loses itself in it daily grind.
La Avispa (the honeybee) might be said to be his totem. 
When he was 5 he was walking across a lawn dotted with clover and felt a sudden piercing fire in between his toes. The burn was intense and he fell to his bum and curved ‘round his foot to inspect the source. He pulled at a dark spot and in his fingers was the culprit- a honeybee curled up on his foot. He pulled his thumb apart from his finger and the lifeless bug dropped directly and indisputably to the ground beneath him.  The sting lasted only a short while longer, but the surprise the surrounded it stays to this day.
When he was 16, he often ran away from his apartment in suburban illinois to downtown chicago to be among his tribe. he would go to the bath house and met other boys with whom he would chase nectar. on an early adventure he went to a house party in lakeview. it was at a small apartment with the furniture pushed to the sides of the room and all 20 or so people there were drinking beer and the lights were off. he remembers distinctly two songs from that night in 1974- “Doctor’s Orders” by Carol Douglas and “Honeybee” by Gloria Gaynor. These were both new artists at the time… frankly so was he.

About 15 years later, he was watering his lawn on a very hot summer day in Colorado. He was using a garden hose as there was not a sprinkler system around. He had guests in from out of town and they were on their way over to pick him up to go for a barbeque. He was hurriedly moving from section to section and sprayed a strong stream of water from the hose onto a rose bush. Without a seconds notice, a honeybee flew directly up to his left eye and planted a stinger into his lid. It was fast, it was succinct, and a spot-on hit. It would seem it was instant messaging prior to any that today’s operating systems have provided.  But just what was the message?

Later that same year, he found himself in Costa Rica for a week with a friend touring around. The last 2 nights they spent in San Juan and they went to a rather famous bar named “La Avispa”. It was toted as the premier lesbian disco of the country. There were only a handful of women present on the night they visited, but there were twice as many men.  The two travelers were approached only minutes after they arrived by 3 quite young and very handsome boys. The conversation and the liquor flowed, they laughed  quite loudly and danced quite madly and soon they were stepping through the doors again as La Avispa closed its doors for the night. The two boys had added three and now had 5 more all going back to their hotel.  The quickly became a room full of strangers with an ancient and macabre rhythm.  Certainly they were honeybees waiting for nature to have its way. it was mayhem, it was instinctual, it was ambrosia. it was real and it did not last more than a day.