Creating A Sacred Space

Creating A Sacred Space

Spring is finally here so to honor this beautiful change in seasons I decided to create an altar. In the past I always had an unofficial altar: my prized possessions, small treasures and jewelry purposefully placed atop my dresser with photos of loved ones arranged with intention. I enjoy maintaining that space, it’s something that I’ve always done naturally, but I never took the time to reflect on why I did it. Now that I’m older and have found my interests veering more toward unconventional spiritual or energetic practices, my altar has taken on a new vibe.

Currently, I have a special handmade bowl gifted to me that holds all of my smaller crystals I’ve collected over the years, crow feathers I collected on a spiritual journey years ago in San Francisco, a Ganesh statue from Thailand gifted to me by an old friend, my oracle and tarot card decks, smudging supplies like sage, palo santo, abalone and fresh camellias, attributed to living in the Camellia Capital of the World; Sacramento, CA. Not only do all of these items you see on my altar have a deep personal meaning, they are objects and supplies that I use when I want to center myself, clear my mind or sort through emotional challenges.

Altar for Virgin de Guadalupe
Altar for Virgin de Guadalupe

Traditionally speaking altar making is a common practice among many cultures across the world. You may have seen altars dedicated to Asian or Indian deities in various restaurants or markets where incense is burning and gifts of sweets or fruit are placed on the altar at certain times of the year. Specifically in India, altars dedicated to Ganesh are commonly placed near the entryway of homes or businesses as he represents new beginnings and the removal of obstacles in one’s path.

In Mexico on the other hand, people build altars to honor the deceased. It is a beautiful tradition to build ornate altars in remembrance of those loved ones who have passed. This tradition is practiced during Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

In the Celtic and pagan traditions honoring Ostara (Easter) or Spring Equinox, people create altars laden with fresh flowers, seeds, aromatherapy oils and fruits to set the intention of looking forward towards growth and abundance.

There’s no one way to create an altar and your altar can change throughout the year. Make it personal and set your intentions for your altar this spring. Feel free to leave comments and questions below and please share your altars with us here or on social media by hashtagging #bloomingaltars

V. 2 What About Your Friends…

V. 2 What About Your Friends…

Here at Blooming Dreamers once a month we like to showcase people in our community who are sharing their love and their light through their work. For the month of February, Black History Month, it is our privilege to introduce you to a longtime friend, a woman for the people, Eryn Reeder. Have a listen as we discuss her journey becoming a therapist, her unique perspectives on mental health maintenance and self-care.

Website: http://strengthtogrowcounseling.com
Email: ErynReeder.LCSW@gmail.com
Instagram: @strengthtogrow

What About Your Friends…

Community Fosters Opportunity

Community Fosters Opportunity

I say that. A lot. It’s something I firmly believe in. Especially as a freelancer/maker/artist/creative or title of your choosing, those professions don’t always come with a built in community or set group of friends like elementary school did. In my own experience as a hypersensitive extrovert (I may have made that up), I love to be around people, building relationships, teaching each other things, growing and struggling together. 

One thing I’ve learned is the struggle is real when your network is stunted. Sure your friends and family are supportive and rooting for you to succeed but do they really get it? Do they understand what you’re trying to do with your art, your vision, what drives you? It’s ok if they don’t but you can’t hold it against them. You know why?  

Because sharing is caring. Have you actually taken the time to share your passion with the people you interact with daily? Does the girl who serves you coffee everyday at your favorite coffee shop know you started a non-profit for homeless teens? Does your brother know that you just created an app that helps people organize their lives? Does your mom know that you want to make custom made fanny packs for a living? Let’s flip it. What happens when you witness someone speak about something their passionate about? Their eyes light up, their speech speeds up and you as a listener are captivated by their excitement to share. The feeling is contagious even if you never experienced what they’re talking about. Do yourself a favor and embody that energy. Tell everyone, even your cat, how passionate you are about whatever it is and I promise you positive results within yourself. Don’t feel too confident about speaking your passion into existence? You know what to do: 

Fake it til you make it! We’ve all heard it before but how many of us practice it? When I graduated with a MFA in Photography back in 2014, the first few months of conversations I had while meeting new people felt weird. They’d ask, “so what do you do?” and I’d stumble on my words and say, “well I’m…uh…a photographerrrrr….” with a few more long, indecisive pauses sprinkled in. I mean yes, on paper, I am a Master of Photography. But at that point in my infantile career, I was more comfortable saying I worked at Peets Coffee than declaring to the world that I followed my passion, studied and acquired skills and got really good at something. It’s all so surreal until you speak it into existence. Even the “impossible” stuff. 

Am I an artist? Yes. Am I making a living as an artist? Well that doesn’t pay the student loan debt but everything I do is infused with my artistry so at the end of the day I still feel confident and comfortable in identifying as an artist. I’m hoping to one day be living proof that if you do what you love, the money will come. So what am I saying to you? Carve your own path. Trust me, it’s doable. Hard. Unpredictable. But the only person that can make shit happen for you is you. Sure there are Threshold Guardians but it’s up to you to keep knocking down those barriers until you feel 100% you 100% of the time.

Is that a tall order? If so, hang in there. When you feel like you’re pushing a boulder uphill, on one leg, blind, in the snow, with no shoes on…hold up, I got carried away…so, blind and forgot why you’re even doing this, remember that there are so many fucking people by your side, being your other leg, smoothing out the path uphill, setting up a pulley system to get that boulder uphill faster of just whispering in your ear every 5 minutes that you can do it.

If you want to know where I am in my journey, I’m currently carving my own path. I have no idea what’s ahead but if I keep at it, I know it will be made for me, just how I like it and laid out so others can follow if they so choose. Moral of the story is we’re all in this together folks (remember it started with community) so drop the spotlight syndrome, speak your truth and live your passion to the fullest!!

-Isabel

Do you have a similar experience to share? Or something totally different and you want to start a discussion? Feel free to leave a comment below 🙂

P.S. (Thank you to all the meme-makers out there, you know who you are. You’re the best. Sorry I didn’t give each one of you credit.)

Womxnhood

Womxnhood

The 3rd Annual Women’s March happened today, but for me it was the first. I was wholeheartedly determined to go regardless of whether or not I was going alone because ironically, the last two years I had to work for a woman-owned and woman-run company during the March. I didn’t realize how much the Women’s March meant to me until I missed it. After work last year, I found myself walking through the streets of San Francisco post-March desperate to find my friends at an after party with the promise of the same “I am woman, hear me roar” energy only to find that everyone had gone home and I felt like the weather: overcast and gloomy.

I cried in public. Which isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things because let’s face it, I’m a crybaby. But I was just so heartbroken to have missed out on such a historical experience. So this year I promised myself I would go with friends or alone, it didn’t matter because I found assurance in knowing I would be surrounded by thousands of women who have my back, just like I have theirs.

photo of owik collection sweater

I woke up, put my Hoe Zone sweater on, pumped up my tires, turned on Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer album, and biked downtown. I felt excitement creep in as crowds of people made their way to Southside Park in Sacramento. I didn’t expect to see 100% elder white women in attendance, but in my experience they make up a large part of the protesting demographic so I was pleasantly surprised to see men, people of color, young and old, babies and everyone in between. The influences we have on each other by just being present is really an amazing thing.

Protesters marching

The scene was rather beautiful actually. Not only were we all here to collectively take a stand, but so many people utilized their creative and artistic abilities to design signs, clever phrases, wearing costumes and coordinating props with their allies. As women we have a lot to say (or talk to you much if you want to further support the stereotype) but the plethora of messages I saw that day were all over the board from DACA, to equal pay to reproductive rights. The common denominator among all signs was that each person was fighting for more than just themselves and sometimes not even themselves at all. I was moved.

Two women protest with signs

Instead of a sign I carried my camera, assumed my role as photographer, documentarian, historian, keeper of truth. Funny thing is I was actually recognized because of it. I ran into a beautiful soul I bonded with at Burning Man. I walked away from that interaction feeling grounded, anchored by the same beautiful energy I experienced in the desert, only here marching for women’s rights.

marching band
aztec dancers

The entire experience was ushered along by a New Orleans style marching band and a drumming circle. “How perfect!” I thought because I know how much women love to dance! (or is it just me?) I felt an unspoken bond with the musicians as we made eye contact, like we recognized each other‘s roles in facilitating such an event. Midway through, as the majority of the March was happening in the street, the Latinx community forged their way at a somewhat quicker pace up the sidewalk brandishing artistic feminine renditions of Che Guevara and Angela Davis, chanting “hermana escucha!!” (Sister listen!!) as they followed the Aztec dancers in full traditional garb. I’m not of Latinx or Spanish descent but growing up in California, looking as I do, I’ve had a Latina experience and it warmed my heart to see my Latinx sisters showing up and showing out. I stepped aside to document their display before I merged back into the crowd.

8 piece band sings

At that moment I found myself getting emotional because the energy was palpable. Here we go crying public again! But there was a photo op I couldn’t miss so I had to temporarily swallow the tears and get back to my mission. Just then an older woman reached out to me for an embrace, smiled and said “thank you for showing up“ as if validating all of the emotional history I had surrounding this day. I hugged her back and smiled, speechless. I cried (in public) as I wrote this because her gesture was so impactful.

Our caravan of festive and outspoken people rounded the corner after passing an eight piece acoustic band of elders playing “Let It Be” by The Beatles. We joined in and sang an encore chorus or two before we hit Capitol Plaza and everyone spread out to get their photo taken in front of the Capitol building. Some stylized, some capturing the moment, me wondering what’s next. I came across the Raging Grannies harmonizing with vigor as their sweet little voices were heard, recorded and admired by all who witnessed their movement. I silently vowed to myself to be exactly like them when I’m their age.

raging grannies
keynote speakers at the Capitol

That’s when I heard the first speaker of the event coming through on the loudspeaker. Her focus was on the ongoing struggles of the Indigenous/Native Peoples of California. She was followed by several empowering women who touched on reproductive rights, health care, the prison system, the government shut down to name a few topics. But one woman, Angelique Ashby got the crowd fired up as she highlighted an entourage of women standing behind her who were voted into office in the Sacramento area. All of the guest speakers were inspiring, motivating and their messages were very clear: Don’t give up. This fight takes work and we can all do a little bit more.

speaker at womens march

Just as hunger set in, I heard the MC Coco Blossom from Sacramento Youth Speaks announce that Beyoncé was hitting the stage. Did I question why Queen Bey would grace Sactown with her presence and not her hometown of Houston, Texas? Yes. Did I make my way back to the stage to see what all the hoopla was about? Of course. Sure enough there was an amazing performance happening on stage, with lots of hair flipping, thigh high boots and sensational choreography. Turns out after the 30 minute set, the headliner Miss Shalae who entertained us with her high energy performance skills announced proudly that she was the First Black Trans Woman to headline a Women’s March and she was praised for it by all in attendance.

And that, my friends, is what womanhood is all about.

-Isabel

Vintage Skills

Vintage Skills

Although I am well acquainted in practice, I never heard the phrase until a few months ago as we were in the fetal stages of creating this blog. Vintage skills can be broken down into three general categories: home/life, first aid, and outdoor survival. I’d like to think I’m an expert at all three, but I thrive in the first set of skills courtesy of my mother.

Let me paint you a picture; it’s the 1970s, my parents were hippies, sporting their patchwork denim, tending to the garden, building their own furniture and eating homemade granola. My dad was great with cars and carpentry and my mom sewed clothes for all my siblings. My parents are makers by passion, not necessarily by trade, but passed down the love for working with my hands.

My generation didn’t get to take home ec as an elective in school (in Sacramento, CA) but turns out I didn’t need to. Ever since I was a little girl my mom taught me everything she knows. Of course some things stuck like crocheting and jewelry making and some dissipated like piano lessons. But the underlying commonality among all the skills I have acquired since then is the joy I find in the hand-made process. I thrive on complex instructions, minute details and hours upon hours of repetition to create a tiny masterpiece. 

I eventually learned how to teach myself to fix things that were broken, study how things work and ultimately create less waste by upcycling old clothing or repurposing discarded objects. As for my survival skills, I know which way is north because my mom always quizzed me on road trips where I had to use the Thomas map book instead of watching an in car DVD player. These are life skills I don’t take for granted because they paved the way for a life filled with the desire to learn. 

Here at Blooming Dreamers we find vintage skills to be an essential part of our foundation. It is rewarding not only to learn something new but to teach each other as well. Sharing knowledge is just one more way we can fortify and uplift our community, enriching the minds and lives of the next generation and sometimes an older one. If you have a vintage skill you’d like to share, comment below or tag us on Instagram @bloomingdreamers. Sharing is caring folks, especially when it’s hand-made!

 

Happy Holidays!

What’s up Dreamers!

We put together a special video for you guys for the holiday season with a guided journal question to get you thinking about the new year. We hope you enjoy it, get a laugh or two, and then go spend time with your loved ones.

Please share your responses to the journal question in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you guys!

This is us signing off so Merry Christmas to you and yours from us here at Blooming Dreamers!! ✌🏽❤️

(Journal question found at forbes.com)

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

When winter approaches I typically find myself in a constant state of excitement and stress. Stress as I try to make plans with my family for the holidays, striving to make sure everyone is happy. Excitement for the cozy sweaters and soft music in the mornings, seeing all the people I love in one place and the barrage of holidays to celebrate in a short amount of time. (If you know me my birthday counts as a holiday, I’m just saying!) But each year I try to spend more attention on the things that are enriching instead of “door-busters” and Black Friday sales. I prefer to give homemade gifts and make big meals with my partner for our favorite people.

However more recently I’ve been embracing the coming winter and what it offers me spiritually, by being still, specifically on December 21st, the Winter Solstice.

We all know it’s the shortest day of the year but that’s not all. December 21st typically goes unobserved as it sits in the shadow of Christmas day. But what many of us don’t know is some of our favorite Christmas traditions originated as ways to celebrate the Winter Solstice like hanging a wreath on your door, decorating an evergreen tree and sitting by the fire with family.

Try this: Instead of buying a wreath this year, go outside with your family in nature and have each person pick a branch from an evergreen tree. Arrange them in a circle and tie them together as a symbol of family unity. However you celebrate with your loved ones don’t forget to spend some time with yourself.

The word Solstice loosely translates as “standing sun.” In other words, the position of this celestial body is no longer visually progressing toward the longest or shortest day of the year but rather appears to be temporarily stationary. I see it as a time to pause, take note and observe something larger than myself. Because we are experiencing ample darkness (specifically in the northern hemisphere) on this day, one way I plan on honoring the cycle is to meditate. Meditation is an inward act, just as winter encourages us to spend more time indoors. So this Winter Solstice I advise you to do the following:

Find a quiet space either in your home or out in nature where you feel at peace. If outside, watch as the sun sets on the shortest day of the year and really be present in your thoughts. Write a poem, sing a song or just simply express gratitude in whatever form of creativity that suits you. If you’re indoors for the Solstice, grab a candle and a comfy seat. Turn off the lights and take a few moments in meditation or reflection. Spend some time acknowledging the year that’s past with acceptance of the journey and its highs and lows. When you’re ready open your eyes, light the candle and shift your thoughts to the future. This is a good time to grab a journal, focus on the light as the candle burns and write down your intentions for the coming year.

To amplify those energies you can use aromatics like incense, oils or even teas in the scents of cedar, spruce, pine, cinnamon and clove (my go-to tea during this time of year is called Winter Solstice from Peet’s Coffee). If you’re into Crystals like me, I recommend using garnet, onyx, rose or crystal quartz and chrysocolla either during meditation, placed on your altar or carrying them on your person throughout this seasonal transition. Regardless of how you celebrate remember to center yourself, show gratitude and share the love this Winter Solstice.

(Source: Crystal Bible by Judy Hall)