Sunday, June 28, 2015

BE THE JOURNEY: Experiencing our souls through “mark” making

“A creative act is one that invokes imagination, making the invisible visible. It reflects what is inside of us, parts of the self that are more authentically conveyed with images than with words. One could call that an internalized image of oneself, but in its simplest sense, it is as close as we get to seeing our souls.” –Cathy A. Malchiodi, The Soul’s Palette

This moment is THE moment to BE THE JOURNEY. Grab a pencil, pen, marker, brush, or stick and MAKE your mark. Each stroke is THE mirror of you—your SOUL.

Pilgrims! I believe that art making is a great awakening agent. I believe that each of us can awaken and be more present to ourselves and others by generating visual images right NOW.

BE THE JOURNEY means living the PROCESS not because of the eventual outcome or PRODUCT. THE journey is YOU. THE journey is ME. MY SOUL is made visible through my actions—in this case—my art making: MY MARKS. Each and every one. Your marks. Each and every one.

Artistic skill level does not interfere with our ability to communicate through lines, forms, colors, or symbols we can create in the moment!  Messages are present for us, waiting to be deciphered inside of those marks, communication lines from our souls.

Consider the Yellow Brick Road leading Dorothy and her companions to the Wonderful World of Oz. Just as the golden highway to the desired destination is made of many golden bricks, so is each one of our created images.

Let’s suppose that instead of the arrival at Oz being the purpose of our JOURNEY that it is each brick, each step, each mark, and each image that we generate that is the JOURNEY.

In other words, instead of anticipating an outcome, an arrival, a conclusion to the pilgrimage, we might LIVE our lives in a heightened way of being during which each action and result holds significance. In such a way, the destination lessens in importance and the journeying itself becomes primary.

The act of making marks is a process of taking incremental steps that become THE DANCE…and the DANCE (or journey) of life is such a vital matter!

That’s Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and share your “being the journey” with me.

BE THE JOURNEY. This image is built on the outline of one square and several circles I traced on the paper before beginning the image generation. I’ve been craving structure in my drawing and have in the past few months started an image with building blocks of squares and circles. I am finding such satisfaction in “seeing” images emerge within the foundations of these geometrical compositions. I invited the familiar characters (Wandjina, Mother Mystery, Wallaby, Turtle, and others from my psyche to join me. They come from the “Cosmosof Hallelujah” (see here for an explanation). I find great comfort in repetition and then emerging discovery. For this image I used watercolor pencil, micron pens, India inks. I crave being present to my life right now. This image holds that intention for me. (art by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

FORGIVENESS PRACTICE: Breathing-in & Breathing-out feelings and thoughts as a way to heal and live

FORGIVING PRACTICE. Hallelujah for the practice of forgiveness for its healing powers and as a way of guiding one's words and deeds. (art by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter)
Hallelujah for FORGIVENESS…hallelujah for finding out how fabulously vast this human act of “cancelling” what occurred IS!

Dear readers, I believe it is possible to change ourselves right down to our cellular level through repeated acts of FORGIVENESS.
As a novice at this practice of asking for FORGIVENESS and accepting apologies, I feel slightly presumptuous writing about it. However, I’m well into my second year of practicing FORGIVENESS every day.

Each day, I breathe in and exhale four times to apologize to someone I feel or know that I have harmed:

Breathe-in-Breathe-out (BIBO): “___________, I’m sorry I made you suffer. 
BIBO: Please forgive me.
BIBO: I love you.
BIBO: I thank you.

Even though this FORGIVENESS practice is done in the privacy of my home or mind, I have discovered several things occurring as a result. 
First, the “energy” of a harmful act or hurt relationship is gently nudged and moves. Instead of staying static—immoveable—the negative energy of the thought "pulses," creating the possibility of change and possible release of that thought or feeling.

Second, through this daily FORGIVENESS practice, I am also now more likely to ask someone for forgiveness face-to-face, ready to acknowledge my wrong doing or being the catalyst of a negative reaction. I have cultivated a ready path to the act of apologizing and developed a “forgiveness” vocabulary. 
And, third, slowly, I have come to realize that I am learning to forgive myself for all that I fail to do, all that I don’t execute correctly, for all that I fall short of in my expectations.

FORGIVENESS is a possible WAY of living my life more fully, richly, and deeply. 
I pause now reflecting more than ever before if my word or deed will hurt someone. "How can I phrase my thought or perform an action that causes the least harm?" is something I might remember to ask myself now. Living my life much more consciously is a result of this FORGIVENESS practice.

…STILL…I hunger for a deeper way of knowing about FORGIVENESS, how to forgive, and how to be forgiven. I suspect that this pathway of forgiveness will lead me to new behaviors—manifesting new ways of supporting and playing with myself and my friends. Perhaps, forgiveness will show me a sweeter way of being human and accepting my humanity.

The other day (June 23, 2015), I was fortunate enough to meet with an elder in my community who has deep experience in leading FORGIVENESS workshops, and he introduced me to a five-step forgiveness practice. He skillfully guided me through the steps that were profound for me in their simplicity. I hope to learn this five-step process and to have the opportunity to implement it as a regular practice in my life.

That's Coffee With Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and share what you know about FORGIVENESS.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

InterPlay Lift: Taking off into the mystery of play in community with you

INTERPLAY LIFT. Imagine playing on a Friday night and finding the unexpected in yourself, a release, a light-heartedness, something fun. These hot air balloons are what I imagined when thinking about creating a new InterPlay Atlanta drop-in class. I began with the image, explored it through artmaking, and then developed the words to accompany the idea of "take-off" and "lift" and "perspective." (image by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for the MYSTERY and bowing before it! Launching a boat into the unknown and sailing off into the golden seas of our lives. Hallelujah for faith and spirit to journey into one's life. This is my practice. This is my life. I am a Spiritual Art Pilgrim!
InterPlay Lift

Yet here, instead of my pilgrim's boat, is a hot air balloon lifting off into the skies of opportunity, the lightness in the way of being, the place where birds fly and the spirit soars. 

This is my concept for my new InterPlay class--InterPlay Lift: Taking off into the adventure of your body, mind, heart, & spirit
Get the big view from play, seeing and finding more ease and joy in your life.

It is my desire to offer an InterPlay evening class once a month on Fridays that will give participants a chance to rest and re-imagine their weekends!
TAKE-OFF to LIGHT HEARTEDNESS. Engaging in play with others in our community allows us the opportunity to relax and practice release from being a serious person.
Here is the description that I crafted to announce "InterPlay Lift"

Are you craving a different way of being in your life? Need a different perspective? Why not try laughing, moving, telling stories, experimenting with your voice, finding stillness, and connecting with yourself and others? Even if you are tired, come to rest, play, and find a new outlook in community. Everyone can do InterPlay!

Once a month on a Friday night, “InterPlay Lift” – led by Ruth Schowalter – offers you the opportunity to explore “having it all.” InterPlay is an improvisational system that uses all of your physical information while including your spirit, intellect, and feelings. Part of having it all is reclaiming your inner authority, the part of you that knows who you are, what you like, what you want, and what you know, in ways that honor your own life and experiences.

Guided gently and respectfully, you will be given choices about moving, topics to talk about, how to play, and when to stop and be still. No previous experience is required. You will witness and be witnessed, practice noticing and affirming the good, and think about how to find more peace and less stress in your life.

The InterPlay system accepts who you are right now—that you are enough! In this way, you are invited to experiment and play with expanding your range and seeing what you might discover. Even if you discover nothing, that’s OK, too.

InterPlay Lift is about gaining perspective easefully and joyfully. To understand InterPlay, you must do InterPlay. Come and find out how InterPlay might lift you up and give you a new outlook on life.

Cost: $12 to $15, but please pay what you can afford. No one will be turned away because of a lack of funds
Decatur First Christian Church, 601 West Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur, Georgia, 30030

Friday 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm on the following dates: July 24th, August 28th, September 25th, October 23rd, November 20th, and December 18th.

Parking is available in the church parking lot or across the street at the Decatur Post Office. Come in the first door from the parking lot (where the InterPlay sign is located) and go to the second floor to the Jerusalem Room.

Contact Ruth Schowalter at or 404/580-2392. 

That's Coffee with Hallelujah. Taking off into my life. Seeing what I can discover. Will you join me and SOUL BLOG with me about what you are willing to do to find play and light-heartedness in your life?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I FALL DOWN, I GET BACK UP: Embodying the Rise-n-Fall of Life!

GROWING THE SOUL. The Rise-n-Fall of Life, the daily resurrections can be embodied. (art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for spiritual practices! Hallelujah for practicing FALLING…and GETTING BACK UP again, again, and again! Hallelujah for finding a “kinesthetic” way to embody the perpetual Rise-n-Fall of Life.

Like breathing—breathe in and breathe out—the Rise-n-Fall of Life is an integral part of our being alive. Consider all of the mini-deaths we experience daily. We fail at communicating our intent. We don’t succeed in cleaning out any of that closet. The enterprise we envision is not manifesting.  We go over our calorie count, consume too much sodium and fat, and do not execute doctors’ orders. Over and over again, we seem to exhaust possibilities, to malinger, to die, to



And all we need to do is practice, getting back up! Yes, we can practice falling and getting back up with a dance—a physical movement!

Practicing falling and getting back is one of the many dances that Cynthia Winton-Henry offers us in her book, Dance—the Sacred Art: The Joy of Movement as a Spiritual Practice. I had the surprising experience of this rising-n-falling dance with Cynthia during her online Monday night class, Dancing the Ruby Way.

Consider these beginning instructions from Cynthia’s book on the restorative movement of Rising-n-Falling:

Find a “friendly” floor, soft couch, or bed. Seated, gently fall in different ways, slowly to the side, to the back, using your arms in different ways. (Do this exercise where you will be safe. You don’t want to add to your fear of falling.)

Having fallen, lie on the floor, couch, or bed for a minute, noticing how it holds you. Notice what it’s like to get up, to rise again….

Now put on music and practice falling, resting, rising to honor—instead of trying to resist—gravity. (p 76, Dance the Sacred Art)

I was delighted with this physical practice of repeated Falling-n-Rising! And, I also got to witness Cynthia doing it with me in California from the small screen of my Ipad, next to me on the floor in Georgia. Having a community of others falling-n-rising expands the effectiveness of this exercise!

My discovery? Finding out that my body knows how to fall, and it knows how to get back up! Hurray!

So here is a list of a few of my falls and my recoveries:

For a handful of weeks, I stopped exercising my persona, Hallelujah Truth, on my blog, “Coffee with Hallelujah.” I thought, “I will never blog again. It’s over.”

I’m blogging today. Right now.

I am attempting to be an entrepreneur now for the third time. The previous two times came to nought. Wah! I failed. I will fail again. I keep getting stymied, befuddled, delayed, and detoured by the details.

I made a phone call to paypal to find out how clients can pay me online (my paypal account is already established). Yay! I created a Facebook page to offer my services: InterPlay Art & Soul Creativity Coaching. I met with my website builder to discuss where we were and what I needed to do resulting in making an InterPlay logo for part of my business. Yay! Thus far, I have attended each two-hour online InterPlay Entrepreneur course and done most of my assignments. I “get up” each morning prepared to take an incremental step toward establishing my business. The InterPlay Entrepreneur course encourages to perform three tasks a day towards our business.

I struggle to eat correctly and to exercise regularly so I can keep a weight that is right for my health, including maintaining a low blood pressure.

Today, I ate a salad for lunch. I walked almost two miles this morning while I conducted business on the phone. I’m reading the labels on packages and drinks now for sodium content.

Now, instead of just keeping and storing disappointed thoughts in my head and in my body of my “falls” or failures, I move them out of my body, mind, heart, and spirit by physically “getting up”! What a relief!

Getting up is such a relief, I feel that all of us can celebrate our Rise-n-Falls in Life by embodying them. My body now feels the connection between the physical experience of falling and rising and the other events in my life where I fail and need to begin over again. If I can pick myself up from the ground, I can surely pick myself up from this disappointment! Yes! Happy Day! This rising-falling dance is Life!

“It is liberating to breathe, shake, move, balance, fall off balance, tense and release, liberate our wholeness. We don’t have to hide the truth. We can dance it!” –Cynthia Winton-Henry

That’s Coffee with Hallelujah! Soul blog with me about your Rise-n-Falls. Do you dance them out? 

RISING-N-FALLING at INTERPLAY ALCHEMY.  During the four months of Tuesdays that I taught my first series of InterPlay Alchemy classes embodying the magic of the soul, I was able to implement content from Cynthia's online course, "Dancing the Ruby Way. Here the class is celebrating the Rise-n-Fall of Life at the conclusion of embodying falling and rising. It was particularly significant because we did this dance at the Spring Solstice when all that sap was rising from the Earth! Yay!

Friday, June 12, 2015

ENDINGS and AWAKENINGS: Coffee with Hallelujah considering the mystery

BROKEN CUP--AN ENDING?  (photo by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter)
Hallelujah for AWAKENINGS! Hallelujah for ENDINGS! Hallelujah for the MYSTERY of being alive!

As I approach my 57th birthday this coming September, I have been experiencing the “ending” of an era and the “awakening” of a new one. What a mysterious process!

The breaking of this clay cup triggered today’s acknowledgement of CHANGE! I purchased this substantial brown-and-blue striped vessel 25 years ago at the family-owned Miller Pottery nestled down the road from the city of Brent, Alabama. It was 1990, and I was the manager of The Village Arbors, a plant nursery in Auburn, Alabama, which grew over 100 herbs and perennials. The two female owners and the rest of us took pride in finding unique pottery for our nursery gift store where we served herbal tea and freshly baked bread with herbed butters to our customers. So I had traveled a distance to visit and purchase clay pots from the Miller family, whose pottery had weight and heft to it due to the Alabama clay that was mined and purified right there on their premises (read about this family of clay artisans here). I succeeded in returning with treasures, some of which became mine.

By 2015, many of the pots I had purchased for myself from the Millers have long since broken.  And now this brown-and-blue striped coffee cup which held pens, markers, and pencils for me during my two decades of ESL teaching at Georgia Tech has rendered itself unusable. 

Before today, I could tell that the handle was gradually pulling away from the cup. Perhaps, I should have squeezed glue into the crevices that were emerging where a potter’s finger had smoothed the handle into the cup’s body. Surely that attention would have prevented its demise this morning when the cup took an audible sigh, heaved itself away from the handle clasped in my hand, and just laid back down on the kitchen counter, splashing some coffee over its side.

This separation of handle from cup symbolized an ENDING for me. Since clearing out my office almost two years ago, I have used this cup—really bowl—for my morning coffee. And over the days and months, this clay vessel has begun to represent a myriad of things to me:

Return to another time (pre-ESL teacher)
In the late 80’s, I was turning 30. I wasn’t married and didn’t have a clear idea of what my vocation was going to be. I had dropped out of my second graduate school program. Even though I was a successful graduate student in both English Literature and Journalism with a proclivity for writing and an adoration of ideas, I wasn’t happy in my endeavors. Jumping from job to job, I possessed a life that was interesting and stimulating but quite chaotic. I continuously met new people and kept acquiring skills that enhanced and broadened my worldview.

Once I graduated successfully from my third graduate program and began the treadmill of teaching ESL day-in-and-day-out and year-after-year, I developed a hard focus on getting my classes prepared and taught and papers graded and returned. My colleagues were respected friends, and I adored the ever-changing flow of international students who came through my classroom. Yet somehow I failed to go deeper and wider in my profession, to keep growing. It was time in 2013 to leave to cultivate the self and develop new skills.

But who was I after twenty years? This brown-and-blue striped cup held some memories of that thirty-year-old for me. Such mysteries in this revery of endings and awakenings.

Time for morning reflection
In my mornings of drawing daily, this cup has sat beside me, stalwart and obliging. It is going nowhere and loves to supervise my artistry. I have time to sip coffee and draw. It has relished its role in the life of "Coffee with Hallelujah." What a mystery!

One cup of coffee is enough
Learning to live and make choices from a place of relaxation—and not stress—has been one of my goals since I left my teaching job. I reduced my coffee drinking from one pot a day to one cup a day….yes one BIG cup! Often, I don’t drink all of it, but this wonderful cup loyally guards the remaining coffee, positioned by the kitchen sink until dinner time should I want a sip or two.

Trust in finding what task/employment is next
What a wonderful adventure I had in those years of the great UNKNOWN. I worked for Jeannette and Betty at the Village Arbors for three growing seasons! During that time, I also started my own business teaching English to internationals in an office I rented over a realtor’s office next to the train tracks. I made regular trips out to Sandhill, Alabama, to Buddha Heart Village to edit a book on Buddhism by Dr. James Yhu, an engineering professor at Auburn University and someone I was studying with. Oh! I had the most wonderful friends!

During that time, I struggled to discover what was next in my life. I almost giggle now as I reflect on these years! LIFE was right there happening to me the entire time! LIFE happens every moment! Even now as I work and play to transition to the next stage in my life, I am reminded to TRUST in what is NOW. NOW is next….what a mystery!
AN IMAGE OF A NEWBORN--AWAKENINGS? (art by Hallelujah Truth)
….Thus leading to the AWAKENING. Something is over (the cup that runneth over has broken). Something has begun (the child has been born). This image of a newborn baby appeared to me in May. Did she appear because of my performance work with “Embody the Mother”? Or because I was drawing and painting daily? Did she appear because I was dancing every morning and teaching InterPlay Alchemy? Or as a result of this discussion or that discussion? A walk? An embrace? What a mystery!

YES! YES TO ALL of the above! YES! Yes to life! Yes to endings and awakenings! And all that they hold. I am considering repairing the cup….but am also ready to move broken things out of my life and see what may appear next. As Cynthia Winton-Henry says, "more shall be revealed."

That’s Coffee with Hallelujah! What ENDINGS and AWAKENINGS have you experienced recently?