The Wild Within Us

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“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
― Albert Einstein

“Like the wolf, intuition has claws that pry things open and pin things down, it has eyes that can see through the shields of persona, it has ears that hear beyond the range of mundane human hearing. With these formidable psychic tools a woman takes on a shrewd and even precognitive animal consciousness, one that deepens her femininity and sharpens her ability to move confidently in the outer world.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

One of the greatest and most unfortunate misconceptions that has ever been instilled within human kind is the belief that we are somehow separate and disconnected from the natural world. You can take the beast out of the wilderness, but you cannot take the wilderness out of the beast. We are mammals at a core cellular and instinctual level and the denial of this has not made us more civilized, on the contrary, I believe it has made us forget our innate humanity.

I would argue that our understanding of our deep connection and responsibility to one another as human beings is intrinsically linked to our understanding of our connection and responsibility to mother nature. As with all things, I believe that to truly understand something and learn its value, exposure is essential. In our civilized western world, we live in concrete jungles, surrounded by synthetic materials with walls and doors keeping us separated from the wilderness from which we came. Entire generations of children are born and grow up without ever having set foot in the woods. If they are lucky, big city kids may spend the odd day in a green space or man-made park that neatly fits into a tidy area of well-planned order. While that’s better than nothing, there’s nothing natural about it. Nature is wild, chaotic, powerful, uncontrollable and breathtakingly beautiful. Much like some of my favourite women! Nature feeds you, clothes you, rips you apart and heals you again. She will warm you, clean you and sing you to sleep. She will remind you of the blood in your veins and the bone that keeps you upright. She will breath soft breath on your cheek and kiss your skin golden today, then make you bleed tomorrow. She reminds you again and again and again that you are alive.

To walk in the wilderness, is to feel that you are connected to everything and everyone. It reminds you that you have a place inside the glorious web of life. You are a part of something much bigger than yourself and you are integral.  You are a creator and destroyer. You are a lover or a havoc wreaker with every decision and move that you make. Do not be fooled by the concrete world you have built around you, you have impact. Just because you cannot see the majesty of the wilderness in front of you, does not mean that she is not there. You are a part of her and she sees you and feels your impact always.

I have been very fortunate in my life to have never lost my connection with nature. I was raised to marvel at the beauty of the stars and the moon. I was taught to be still and let my senses guide me. I learned to notice the signs of other life and the stories they tell. The footprints in the snow and fur on a branch. The spider webs that tell you winter is coming and robin’s song that sings of spring. The hairs on the back of your neck that stand on end warning you of danger, and circling crows that tell a tale of recent death. I in turn, pass this knowledge on to my children. They collect mushrooms in the spring and berries in the summer. They swim in cool waters and climb jagged rocks. They know that the dirt in the forest is clean and the dirt in the city is not. They collect bones, antlers and stones on the forest floor and call them treasures. They will tell their friends in the city that they saw a fox, deer, snake and bald eagle this weekend. They will grow up with freckles on their cheeks, leaves in their hair and scratches on their knees, and they will know that this means they are healthy and strong. They will know they are connected to all life and that they belong. They will know that if they are to reap the rewards of the natural world, they must respect her and protect her. They will learn who they are, while lying in soft moss under the shade of forest canopy, and there is nothing more beautiful or meaningful than that.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING, HAIR & MAKEUP BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

CURRENT FASHION: Boots by Sorel Footwear

VINTAGE FASHION: Green coat from Found on Corydon (Metalphysical Moon). Thrifted pants, skirt, top and belt.

JEWELLERY BY: Sheppards Hook Jewellery (Antler and stone rings; Antler/porcupine quill earrings; Antler/moss stud earrings; Antler, stone, and beaded necklaces)

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I am an advocate for anything that connects us to and reminds us of nature, which is why I fell in love with Sheppards Hook Jewellery! Locally made right here in Winnipeg, Manitoba by Katie, an extremely talented creator! Each piece is made with organic and found materials and is one of a kind. A wonderful way to carry an artistically crafted piece of mother nature with you, even in the hustle of city life. I highly recommend getting yourself one of these pieces of wearable art. Katie’s creations are absolute statement pieces and conversation starters. They are both beautiful and ethically made with sustainable organic materials, and you get to support a small Canadian business in the process! Win, win, win! Sheppards Hook Jewellery will be launching their website on SATURDAY, MAY 19, 10 a.m. CST! Stay tuned to shop on-line (Canada only for now) and don’t miss out, her pieces move fast!

WHO IS SHEPPARDS HOOK?

Sheppards Hook jewellery has a wild, rustic expression for environmentally conscious individuals who strive to attain a bold, unique look that sets them apart from the crowd. Each piece is hand-crafted for a natural, artistic feel using naturally-shed white-tailed deer antler from the forests of Manitoba. This local maker is passionate about creating bold statement pieces for strong women with a refined use of colour and texture. Collections are accented using brass, high quality gemstones and other elements of nature such as porcupine quill. Get in touch with your inner wild woman when you adorn these one-of-a-kind pieces of art.

With strong roots in art and nature, Katie began taking Fine Arts and Biology at the University of Manitoba in 2005. She has always combined the two passions to create pieces of art inspired by the natural world around her. This shows in her wild, prairie-inspired jewellery.

Katie has been selling at various markets, festivals and pop-up shows since 2010.”

– Sheppards Hook Jewellery Website

WHERE CAN I BUY SHEPPARDS HOOK JEWELLERY?

Currently Sheppards Hook is sold at the following locations:

  • Winnipeg – Voila par Andreanne (303-421 Mulvey Ave)
  • Winnipeg – WAG @ The Forks (Johnston Terminal)
  • Winnipeg – Tara Davis Boutique (246 McDermot Ave)
  • Kenora – Fragile Glass Studio (529 3rd Ave)

Sheppards Hook will be at the following festivals and pop-ups in 2018 (more to be announced soon!)

  • Winnipeg Folk Festival – July 5-8 2018
  • Edmonton Folk Festival – August 9-12 2018
  • Third + Bird Spring Pop-Up – May 4-5 2018
  • St. Norbert Farmer’s Market – Every Saturday, starting May 19th 2018

Opalescence

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Opalescent: Something that is opalescent reflects light and changes colour like an opal.  – Cambridge Dictionary

Opal: A precious stone whose colour changes when the position of the person looking at it changes.  -Cambridge Dictionary

The opal, also known as the “Eye Stone” is known for it’s ability to bring a person’s personal characteristics and traits to the forefront as well as bringing unresolved patterns or tendencies that require self examination to the surface. This self evaluation can lead to profound personal transformation. Opal boosts creativity and originality. It is considered to be a karmic stone, showing us that what we put out into the world will come back to us. Also, how we perceive the world, will be shown to us like a mirror reflection.

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Each of us are like the opal, a complete spectrum of colours that changes from different perspectives. When people look at us, they see a reflection of themselves. You show them their hopes, their fears, their insecurities, their desires. They look at you and they see what they like and what they don’t like about the world in which they live, which is really just a reflection of who they are, or rather, who they believe themselves to be based on their life experience. People look at you only in relation to themselves, which is why no two people see you in exactly the same light. Every person who lays eyes on you sees a different colour depending on the perspective they are coming from. People see you in relation to the stories they tell themselves about the world. In truth, no other person can really see you, even though you are there in all of your glory. You are the only one who can actually see yourself, but you will never see your true self in a mirror. When we see with the human eye, we see only a reflection of our beliefs, our world views and our current state of mind. Who you really are is deep within you and can only be felt with the heart and the spirit, not seen with the human eye.

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Although we cannot see people as they truly are, what we can do is feel people, but we are so trained in our society to see with our limited sense of eye-sight, that we have neglected to develop and maintain our ability to experience and know one another through feeling. This ability, which all of us have, requires a deep sense of compassion for others and the ability to feel beyond the sensory information coming in all directions from our basic five senses. The five senses while important and useful for moving around and experiencing our physical world, can be very distracting and overstimulating which keeps us trapped in a constant state of reacting to our surroundings. It is difficult to live an intentional life with focus, direction and action when we have become a slave to our senses and are continually responding to stimulus. And let’s face it, we live in a society that is designed to bombard our senses with stimulation. We take the sensory information in and believe it to be truth, instead of just information reflecting our current attitudes and perspectives. What I mean to say is that your state of mind effects your mood and your mood can make your sensory perspective very different from one moment to the next, and very different from one person to the next. For example, loud music when you are in a bad mood can be irritating, but the same loud music when you are in a good mood may make you want to get up and dance. Both situations are the same, the truth if you will, but your perspective means that you experience the same stimulus in a very different way. What this means is that your reaction or perception of the situation has nothing to do with the situation, but has everything to do with your personal perspective and current state of mind when you experience the music.

Do you see what this means?  It means that how you experience the world around you and the people in it, is really just a reflection of your inner state and relationship with yourself. It is a reflection of your beliefs, your views, your expectations, your understanding of the world from your life experience and your current attitudes. You tell yourself that it is truth, but there are billions of people on the planet and each of us is experiencing our own personal story as truth. This is why you can have two people being exposed to virtually the same circumstances, yet each of them experience it very differently. It is not your circumstances that determine what kind of life you have, but the way in which you experience and react to those circumstances. There are so many examples of people born into poverty, abuse, and horrendous circumstances who manage to rise above it by sheer force of will and attitude about life. There are many other examples of people who have been born into wealth and affluence with every need being met, and opportunity given,  yet they waste their life away doing nothing of consequence and often loosing themselves in a life of drugs and disfunction. If the victim narrative is deeply engrained in you, this is going to be a bitter pill to swallow, because ultimately, it means that you have far more control over your life experience than you think you do, and you have to take responsibility for your own happiness or misery. You may not be able to control the circumstances or events that occur in your life, but you do have a choice about how and what you react to.

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Here is the true freedom gleaned from this understanding. The way that you see other people and experience your life is constantly acting as a mirror to tell you what your state of mind is and the current state of your relationship with yourself. Every reaction to other people or situations is an opportunity to learn about you and become more self aware. How strong your reactions are can tell you a lot about your pain, issues you haven’t dealt with, and it sticks a pin in exactly what your fears and insecurities are. Ugh, I know, it’s rough, but it’s also a gift, if you self-examine and use the new found understanding of who you are to transform into a better version of yourself. Here is the other gold nugget. If your reactions to and understanding of others is a reflection of you, then their reactions to you and understanding of what you are all about is a reflection of them. Their perception of you, good or bad, has absolutely nothing to do with you. Their opinion of you and reaction towards you is not your responsibility. Whether they are criticizing you or praising you should not determine how you feel about yourself. All you are responsible for is working on yourself, taking responsibility for your feelings and emotions and how you react or don’t react to people and circumstances. When what you say, what you do, what you wear, or how you live your life causes people to respond angrily, or with judgement, it shines a light on the things they themselves need to heal. Often the differences we see in others invokes deep seeded feelings of fear of the unknown and triggers all the ways in which we ourselves have adapted who we are in order to fit in and belong and not make others feel uncomfortable. Deep down many of us are hurting because of this because all we want is to be loved and accepted for who we actually are. We are tired of suppressing ourselves to be more acceptable to the status quo.

So what is the lesson in all of this? Well, what I have come to learn is that many people are holding other people and circumstances responsible for their own happiness. They believe that they would be happier and their life would be easier if other people and situations changed. This is a terrible and disempowering trap, that can only lead to depression. I have learned to become more aware of my own reactions towards people and situations and do my best to explore and investigate why I feel the way I feel and determine if what I am perceiving is indeed truth, or if my reactions are just a symptom of my own personal fears and insecurities. Because of this, I have felt more empowered, more in control of my own life experience and far less emotional and volatile. I have been taking responsibility for my perspective and spending a lot more time understanding myself and nurturing my relationship with myself, and a lot less time holding other people accountable for my happiness. We tend to focus our attention on understanding others and how they appear to be towards us. This is the ego perspective. Try looking at yourself instead when something that someone says, does, or doesn’t say or do hurts you or upsets you in some way. You cannot change them, but you can heal your own perspective. Also, you don’t have to agree with someone’s lifestyle, world views or appearance, but you also don’t need to allow that difference of opinion to make you volatile, or feel you must impose your opinion or educate another about the way it actually is. That’s your self-important ego talking. You can have strong opinions and views without losing your sense of inner peace. Social media is a perfect example of people running rampant with volatile reactions to every post they don’t see eye to eye with. Either blatant personal attacks of character, or my personal fave, the self-righteous armchair activist who seem to say “There, I’ve given you a piece of my well-educated mind and taught you a lesson with my well-sourced arguments! It’s all in a days’ work!”, like they’ve actually accomplished something by arguing with people on Facebook or Instagram. You are giving all of your power away when you do that because you are robbing yourself of peace and happiness in that precious moment, while you type angry, hateful, or self-rightous truths from your perspective towards another human being. All the while blaming them for robbing you of peace and happiness, and convincing yourself that it’s your job to change them. You quite literally poison yourself with the poison you are trying to shove down someone else’s throat. Hurt people, hurt people. You react so strongly because of old pain or fear, that has nothing to do with the person you are directing your anger at, they have just touched a trigger point within you. A hot button that needs your attention. A place within yourself that needs healing. When you become aware of this, you become aware that the entire human race is experiencing the same thing. This knowledge plants a seed of compassion towards others in your heart. Even if their anger or negativity is directed towards you, you can maintain a state of peaceful awareness because you recognize that they have their own pain, fear and insecurity that they are living with, and they are possibly completely unaware of it. When it spills over to you and you react strongly, it just feeds the monster that you are disapproving of.

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“A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.” – Rita Mae Brown

“Non-reaction to the ego in others is one of the most effective ways not only of going beyond ego in yourself but also of dissolving the collective human ego.”

– Eckhart Tolle

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Here are some of the philosophies that I try to live by. When you heal yourself, you heal the world. Stop giving your power away to those who have no capacity to understand who you actually are and are not responsible for your happiness or life experience. Take responsibility for your own life and your self-worth and stop letting the praisers and criticizers decide how you are going to feel about yourself. Make your own personal growth and healing your top priority because it is your relationship with yourself that will determine your relationships with everyone and everything around you. Every time you are about to criticize someone else, stop and self-assess. What is going on inside of me that makes me feel this way? There is always a gem of self-discovery in there that will make your life easier if you face it. You can only respond to the world from your current state of awareness and consciousness. When I look at people and situations, I want to see all the colours of the spectrum like an opalescent symphony from a place of self-awareness and compassion. I know that this requires me to work on myself. To get honest about my issues, to stop holding others accountable and take responsibility for me. I want to live in a world where people would rather spend their time bettering themselves than trying to force others to change because they understand that you can’t control other people, but you can control how you react to people. And one by one, each of us begins to react to one another from a place of self-awareness and compassion, and before you know it, we have transcended a pain and fear-filled society and we can finally begin to feel one another for who we actually are. It is then, I believe that we will begin to discover what we are truly capable of, and just how colourful and opalescent we really are.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING, MODELLING, HAIR & MAKEUP BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

VINTAGE FASHION: Dress from Wildwoodrose Vintage Market (note: the next market is on June 9th in Winnipeg at Old Market Square! I will be selling vintage there this year!!!). 70’s leather skirt from Shop Take Care . Shop Take Care is sells vintage, consigned fashion and goods from local makers and artisans. Vintage coyote-fur hat. Vintage scarf.

CURRENT FASHION: Thrifted Mukluks from Manitobah Mukluks. Sunglasses from Urban Waves Winnipeg. Rose Quartz necklace from BCP Jewelry

LOCATION: Red River Mutual Trail in Winnipeg. PONTAGON, the Faculty of Architecture’s warming hut installation at the Forks, in collaboration with the City of Winnipeg’s Walk/Bike/Bridge project.