Monday, May 21, 2018

As The Storm Rolls In....

Dear friends,

A poem from yesterday:

The storm
CG 5/21/18

As the storm rolls in
In this hot, almost summer, day
It matches my mood.

Grumbling with thunder
Pressure pressing down on the chest 
Oppressive stillness
Knowing that the damn is about to burst

Be it with an air cleansing rain
Or a mighty downpour of tears
Bursting forth
Like mad lighting,
Righteous anger, 
In response to more children dying,
False friends and vision without the vote.

The wind whips the rain
Like my hormones 

Pushing my emotions.

People want to think
it's an over reaction.
A hysterical, dramatic response.
Truth tells
It's the everyday build up
of little indignities
that accumulate in a catastrophic
explosion of emotion.

Wishing you a Stillpoint,


Monday, February 26, 2018

Like the newly emerging buds of Spring

Dear friends,

It's been way too long since I've written from this platform.  The past year I have been writing poetry, being active in my community and processing all of the chaos that is currently in our world.

I visited this blog this weekend and it welcomed me like an old, dear friend.

So today I decided to get back on the bicycle of blogging and pedal around for a gentle ride.

On Friday, I co-facilitated Spirit Play, a monthly InterPlay Atlanta gathering that combines InterPlay, Meditation and Poetry.  It is one of my favorite offerings.  We played with the poem Poet's Obligation by Pablo Neruda.  Then we wrote our own poems.  Here is what bubbled up inside of me:

by Christine Gautreaux 2/23/17

On stone I sit
facing the thunderous waterfall,
with the tree roots cradling me
as the spray gently mists my face.

In this moment
I am one with the sea
thousands of miles away,
yet calling my name.

Drawn on by my destiny,
I stop.
and expand.

Is that the voice of a thousand mothers
crying "Enough!"
as they thunder through the streets
to protect our children and our children's children.

Or Mother Nature's power transferring to us
ions unseen.

It is time for action
the tumbling water sings.

It is time to be grounded in our practices
the giant rocks whisper.

The time to weep
the mists reminds.

And a time to ROAR
like the wind.

In Peace & Play,


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Creating Peace with the dawn

Dear friends,

This morning before dawn
I entered the Labyrinth
and as I slowly circled towards the center my gaze
caught the eye of a buck grazing across the forest
in the East with the colors of the pink dawn as his beautiful backdrop.

If you look really close you can see him...
I tried to take a picture and he gave me a nod as if to say
I see you, move along, as he continued to graze and in an unhurried manner walked out of site.

I looked at the picture and at first he is nowhere to be seen.

Was he a spirit coming to remind me of my quest?

Or the 6 point buck I saw in real time but a master of camouflage so experienced that even the camera could not capture him?

To me he was a blessing.

A gift as precious as the sun rising every morning.

The reminder of my deer totem.  Grace, peace, gentleness and so much more.

Dawn this morning
About the same time two 

squirrels were awakening 

one fussing at the other  as if to say,

“Joe, I thought I heard 

something….go check!”

A big thud and I thought, Did 

she push him out of the nest?

Arriving at the center of the circle I 

took a moment to give 

thanks for the beauty of this day

As the sky lit up with soft vibrant 

pinks and yellow in the 

Venus at the entrance
forefront of the blue.

Venus, the sacred Labyrinth kitty, 

was sitting at the entrance 

watching patiently.  Earlier she had 

been running and 

jumping high up onto the tree 

trunks as if to say to the 

squirrels, “If I really wanted to I 

could come get you.”

On the walk out of the center I sang 

my prayers for family 

"Screech Owl" branch close to the trunk
and friends and the world.

As I sang the birds joined in to 

welcome the sun and begin 

singing their song for the day.

The squirrel drew my attention 

to a tree in the West that 

appeared to have a screech owl 

sitting in it.  It turned out to 

be the stub of a branch, a reminder of the gift I was given on 


Walking back towards the 
Sister Moon shining down

house for my first and most 

holy cup of tea I looked up to see the moon shining down from 

above the trees.

What a delicious morning.

Wrapping you around with infinite love and wisdom,


"Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower."  - Albert Camus

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Creating From the Labyrinth

Dear Friends,

After more than a week (due to weather and travel) 

I was finally able to start my morning in the Labyrinth.  In the early morning light before the sun rose I walked back to my sacred space and had to pause to wonder, 

"Where did it go?"

Where oh where did my Labyrinth go? 

The recent storms, rain and wind had helped to cover the Labyrinth in a carpet of leaves.

This brought up several wonderful metaphors for me this morning. 

As I began the clearly marked path I had to pay attention.  For one of the first times since it's birth I had to slow down and really pay attention to the path or I could have easily gotten "lost." 

I decided to take off my shoes to enjoy the feel of the leaves.  I meandered.  I put rocks back in place where a raccoon(?) had moved them looking for food.

I noticed the maintenance that was needed and acknowledged the importance of doing the "work."

Love wins - especially when you uncover it!

I made it to the center after clearing off a few alters, gave gratitude for my amazing life and sang my morning prayers. 

This morning I heard crow, had a sacred Labyrinth kitty Venus with me on the journey and heard several other birds too.  

What are things that you need to give some special attention too this week?  Any maintenance that is calling your name?

Wrapping you around with infinite love and peace,
A view from the plane on the way home last night


P.S. A few pictures from a recent adventure:

A beautiful mural in the LAX airport

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Creating Bravery

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I was asked what is the bravest thing I've ever done?

I was standing in Smith's Gallery  in downtown Duluth, GA talking to Larry the artist and co-owner about painting and how I've always wanted to learn how to paint but it scares me.

He asked, "What is the bravest thing you've ever done?"  
I gave the answer that I usually do: "I jumped out of an airplane at 12,500 ft!"

We laughed and he gave me the upcoming workshop brochure and said be here on the 14th!

I was thinking about our conversation throughout the day and I realized that even though I had answered a true and funny statement it really was not the bravest thing I've ever done.  

You see my Aunt Joan was the Master Jump Master who drilled me for 2 days on the how to's of skydiving (when everyone else got less than 2 hours) and statistics show that skydiving is MUCH safer than driving a car.  So I asked my self again, 

"What is the bravest thing you've ever done?"

The answer:  Having children and parenting them.

Yep. Truth. 

This is so tender for me right now.  Alex turns 18 this year.  She's making plans to leave the nest.  She is blooming, she is growing and I am...

 Scared, excited sometimes even downright terrified!  Did I do enough?  Does she know enough? Is she ready?  Am I ready? 

Brave? You bet it was brave.  I recently read an article about the crazy stuff that is spouted at working moms from the parody and perspective as if it was said to dads.  It was both funny and sad.  I've been there - if you're a mom I bet you've been there.  If we're a full time stay at home mom we hear about it (been there), if we're full-time working moms we hear about it (been there) and if we do a combo of both we hear about it (currently doing it).  Geez.  Not only do we question ourselves and our choices about parenting but we have what feels like the whole world questioning them too from family to acquaintances.  

I've always felt like my job as a parent has been to love my children and to protect them to the best of my ability. 

Have I done that? Yes.  

Have I made mistakes?

Have I done a whole bunch of things right?

I love Brene Brown's work and when I read my kids the following Parenting manifesto they said, "Mom, that sounds like you!"  

The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto
Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions--the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.
I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.
We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.
Picture by C. Gautreaux "Wish"
We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.
You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.
I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.
I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.
When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.
Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.
We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.
As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.
I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.

It made my heart warm and made me realize that I have dared greatly in this lifetime in many little ways and many big ways.

I'm also thinking about the upcoming painting classes that I want to take since I can't be there on the 14th (because I'll be teaching survival skills in the woods to my Cadette girl scout troop).  Watercolors? Oils? Acrylics?  So many choices and so much fun stuff to find my courage as an artist and learn a new medium.

Wrapping you around with infinite love, courage and gratitude,


Friday, August 28, 2015

Creating A Poem during Spirit Play

Dear Friends,

InterPlay Inspiration Deck
I have so much to share and I want to tell you about what I've been up to the past month!  I think it's about 5 blogs worth so I decided the best course of action is to start with today.  The present moment.

This morning I had the privilege to attend Spirit Play , an amazing Interplay group led monthly by Jennifer Denning and Debra Hiers, at the Shambhala Center in Decatur, GA.

Beautiful Ikebana arrangement by Cholu - picture by CG.

Today we played with InterPlay warmup, babbling, side-by-side stories, shape and stillness and a quote and a poem.  The Poem was The Guest House by Rumi:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

All of the arrangements by Artist Cholu are created from plants on the grounds of the Shambhala Center

We played with several activities around this and one included writing a "response" to this poem and our feelings and here is mine:

This morning I greet the day 
with a crick in my neck and a headache.

Again, a pain a discomfort, a mar
to a beautiful morning.

I greet you crick.
Welcome to my home.
Is it selfish to ask
"What gifts did you bring?"

Perhaps the gift of stillness
and Self-Care?

Or the gift of knowing how often I feel great!

The gift of gratitude for modern day medicine
and the awareness of how long it's been since our last massage.

As I relax into your pain
with a deep breath and gentleness,
I feel you relax 

I wonder,
"Just how long will you stay???"

I found it fun and healing to go at the pace of my body today and help play with the pain and transform it through poetry and laughter!  

Wood, rock and flower arrangement by Cholu

It's been a full and amazing month of August AND I'm realizing that it's time for some maintenance including some radical self-care.

Wrapping you around with infinite love and wisdom,

"Go back and take care of yourself.  Your body needs you, your feelings need you, your perceptions need you.  Your suffering needs you to acknowledge it.  Go home and be there for all these things..."  Thich Nhat Hanh

*All pictures taken by Christine Gautreaux - All of the amazing flower arrangements done by the artist Cholu in the tradition of Ikebana.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Creating a Labyrinth

"Why sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." - Lewis Carroll

Dear Friends,

A week ago today we created a Labyrinth.  Why you ask?

"The labyrinth is a spiritual tool that has many applications in various settings. 
It reduces stress, quiets the mind and opens the heart. 
It is a walking meditation, a path of prayer, 
and a blue-print where psyche meets Spirit." 
-- The Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress

Well that story starts well over a year ago...

During my InterPlay Life Practice Program to become a Certified Leader we had the privilege of being at Pine Lake, GA and having access to my friend Ella & Lois's Labyrinth. Over the year I walked their Labyrinth at Dawn, in the moonlight, at noon and on my 44th Birthday last year.  It is a spirit filled, sacred place.  It was during this time that we found out we would have to move from our beloved house and find a new one to buy.

A rocks beauty revealed after the rains
When we found our current home it had a very special place at the back of the property that reminded me of a secret garden - overgrown, old trees with an entrance flanked with two large Magnolia trees.  During the home inspection is when we discovered this was part of the property and immediately I knew this is where I wanted our Labyrinth to go.

We moved in July 4th, 2014.

There have been some adjustments to this part of town (new grocery stores), new neighbors (whom we love) and me grieving the trees and plants that stayed with the old house when Spring arrived.

When Joe asked me over a month ago what I wanted for my birthday very clearly I stated, "To build our Labyrinth."  Not only was he on board he was super supportive even though it was the end of the quarter and a busy time for him with work/travel.

Invitations were sent.  Come join us to build the Labyrinth and/or come for the Birthday Party that night and place a stone.

The recommended dirt guy was scheduled for Tuesday June 16th (his equipment broke and I prayed).

Thursday (June 18th) - we went to the rock yard and bought the river rocks - an awesome birthday gift to which several family members contributed.

Friday (June 19th) - Doug the dirt guy swung by in the early morning and 'leveled" the land and moved underbrush and old dead wood out of the way.  Then my friend David showed up with rakes and a "let's do this" and we spent 4 hours clearing roots and sticker bushes and raking the dirt.  When Joe got home that night we put in some more time leveling and prepping the space.

Saturday (June 20th):

6:00 am We started the day before dawn.  Joe, Alex and I met at the center of the land and smudged and said prayers and called on all our relations to bless our project and the land and we gave thanks for the day.  Venus (the cat) came and added her piece too.  As the sun rose a hawk cried out.

The work crew (Sharon & Alex not pictured)
10:00am  Dear friends came over to help up start the build.
They came from Norcross, Grant Park and  some drove in from as far away as Newnan.  There were 10 of us that morning if you count the teenager who was sporadic and one incredibly hard working 6 year old.  Bri and Joe put their math brains together to get us started and we built from the inner circle out.

Last stone being laid
4:15 ish - We laid the last stone in the Labyrinth!  We couldn't believe it had come together so fast! We had one oopsie we had to correct in mid stride (8 paths on one side 6 on the other) but it was quickly sorted out and we were back in business.  Joe walked it off from the entrance to the center it is approximately 800 feet.  The length of over 2 football fields if you go to the center and back.

6:00pm - Friends started arriving for the birthday party celebrating me turning 45 the following Monday, June 22nd.

They arrived with wonderful gifts of spirit.  Special rocks and plants from their own gardens for the Labyrinth, drums, kombucha, beautiful plants and gnomes for the front yard, antique lockets, tea, pottery, ceramic frogs and the best of all their beautiful hearts and friendship.

Drumming on the patio before moving to the fire pit

We ate delicious food  -everyone brought a side to share - Joe and Wade cooked hot dogs and vegan sausage on the grill - and later that night s'mores around the fire.

We talked and laughed.  I walked back and forth to the Labyrinth numerous times to beam at what we had created.

Guests were invited to paint a rock with a symbol or a saying to represent them and walk the Labyrinth and place it in a special spot.

Spinning Poi
Instruments were brought out and we drummed and danced and sang and I got to spin (fake) fire with the new led poi Joe got me as a birthday gift.

It was an incredible way to say goodbye to 44 and hello to 45.  My birthday, Father's Day and Summer Solstice all in one magical weekend.

My heart was (and still is) so full of love and friendship for the amazing people in my life.

This week I've walked the Labyrinth everyday (usually at dawn) and wrote down my thoughts and things I'm seeing and hearing.  

Tonight Joe and I walked it at dusk with our two kitties joining us.

I am so grateful for this sacred space.  It is a place of contemplation, prayer and spirit.  Co-created in love and friendship.  If you are ever in Duluth, GA and want and/or need to walk it you are welcome.

The first time I walked the Labyrinth and stepped into the center

Wrapping you around with infinite love and gratitude,