Jan 15, 2017

Reconnecting With Heart and Spirit in 2017

"Who am I? What's is my soul's purpose for being here? What do I love most and least about my life and how can I best catalyze change, growth, experiences, and understandings in the year ahead?"

These are the questions I ask myself and how I search within for the manifestation of the answers from my heart.

This year my reconnection with spirit will be about realizing all that I have learned in the past 20 years for they have truly flown by and seem but a dream within a dream (once the name of one of my AAQI art quilts ;-)

So, as I dream...and I create and I manifest goodness in my life and the life of all I love (and if you come here and read here and especially if you are reading this..I love you from the truth of the one heart we connect to and share!

Who am I?

Michele Maria Bilyeu
(Mi-shell Mar-ee-ah Bi-lue)

I am an oxymoron by nature!

noun: oxymoron; plural noun: oxymorons
  1. a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g., faith unfaithful kept him falsely true ).
When people look at me ..physically...they see a youthful for her age, perhaps...but still a  little older lady.

I am perceived, as a sewist (the modern term for a sewer and now you know why as you read that word) and a quilter who has spent her life giving and working with others.

But I have also been an activist, who rallied others to fight against injustice, who was asked to serve on community boards and planning committees, who worked tirelessly to fill in the gaps as a volunteer in schools that ranged from early childhood Montessori quansut huts to elementary, middle school, high school, and college level programs.

But deep down inside, and to the hundreds of people who have been directed by therapists, and healers, and friends and acquaintances to my healing hands for decades, I have been an intuitive healer and a creator of spiritual alchemy in my life, and the lives of others.And all of it, every thing I have done.I have done for free.

So, we have lived a simple life with simple, inexpensive things based on my growing up in territorial Alaska and learning always, always, always to make do with what we have and to make what we needed ourselves.

I am all of those things and more. And I have done all of these things, before they even had names since I was a very, very young girl. I just didn't seem to see it as it was simply part of who I am.
People have always reached out to me for help and for connection with the hurting and missing parts of themselves, just as I have reached deep inside to that giving and understanding part of me to understand why I have always been so willing to give so much of myself to them.

Growing up in the fern filled forests of summer in Alaska to the snow filled landscape of winter in Alaska, I lived a solitary but richly creative life. If we wanted something we needed to make do with what we had whether it was snow for snow men to clothing, to hand me downs from my twin cousins where I appeared to only own four outfits when truly I had eight!

As the oldest of five children, and the only girl, my world was very different from that of my four younger brothers. They were active on the outside, and I was active on the inside, as well. Creativity began with the simplest of materials ..making villages and dollhouses of our extensive collection of garage sale books, sewing my own doll clothes on my grandmother's treadle sewing machine, building forts out of leftover wood to house the dozens of stray cats, I secretly fed in our back yard...

I was extremely intuitive, empathic, artistic, and creative. Both of my grandmothers, my Alaskan grandmother who emigrated from Finland, and my Louisianian grandmother, who emigrated from France, were sensitives blessed with intuitive gifts of caring and healing. These special women who were pioneers in all ways, were a natural part of me. And how their strength and courage during hard times and many losses, enforced by mystical stories passed down by my family helped reinforce my own strength and abilities.

As a child, I  realized that I wasn't afraid of being different, or living an isolated often solitary life, even in a house filled to the brim with my own family and the very large extended family that came almost every day to visit. I chose to walk a different path by rearranging the stories of my elders into new configurations that fit my spirit and moved my heart to being and doing all that it needed to be and to do.

Bit by bit, in this lifetime, as I got married in a tiny shrine on a very tiny island in Alaska, as I gave birth to and raised my children, those understandings, that deep awareness grew. And as they grew so did my heart and my spirit and the deep, energetic gifts of  heart and hands grew as well.

Then, I knew I was very different and I was meant to serve and to help others in very different ways.

Half of my world was is in Alaska, and the other half visiting our relatives in Louisiana....yin and yang, day and night, hearing Finnish spoken in one home and French in the other. But my whole world...inside and outside....was filled with art and music and books..because the world I lived in with my family in Alaska was a long heritage of artisans. Filled to the brim with creative family members and a creative life. And oh so filled with the beauty and magic of a transformative land.
And I used those opportunities and those gifts all days long manifesting a world of my own design in spite of the wild games of my younger brothers, the howling of the Taku winds that rattled our 1935 windows mercilessly, the bitter cold of walking to school wearing pants under my dresses that had to be removed once I arrived there as girls were not just expected to wear dresses but required to!

When the weather cleared, I lived outside. Walking through the underbrush of the that surrounded our house in a town that still had few houses and many, many lots were completely empty. Creating forts out of piles of scrap wood from the my beloved sandy beach, or my father's scraps, or even from the wood pile meant to keep our old house warm.

Now I collect things to create homemade paper and other art projects.....seaweed and lichens, and moss and bits of fibers. Just as I did as a child, when I collected bits of just about everything and created the magic of the natural world just as I collect, and create with today.

I find treasured rocks, and twigs, and even eagle feathers in strange places, and lichen, and moss. And everywhere I went as I child, I found them... and they found me. And each and every item, each and every creation has reconnected my spirit and reminded me of who I truly am.

Now, I make potions and notions from wild things like our native and incredibly magical and healing wild devil's club that grows as a rather irritating weed in those magical forests and hillsides.
(You have to wear gloves to strip the bark but once it is dried it can be used to make creams and lip gloss as well as medicinal tinctures.)


As I once sewed clothing for myself and my dolls and my cats with needle and thread from my mother's and grandmother's sewing baskets. I learned to sew with the children that go to our Douglas Island Gastineau Elementary School, to work with adults who want to learn to sew or to quilt but transforming that into this blog and sharing such a greater community in that process of teaching myself to create a blog over the past ten years!

As I child I read as many as four books a day and playing endless music on the phonograph ..everything from 50's tunes belonging to my parents, to operettas, to classical. I danced and I played and I sang and I created and manifested all of the future versions of me. And it was art filled with books and music and paintings that my father and uncles, and later my mother and myself, painted.
I still dance and I still sing, and I still love books and music that touch my heart like little else can and always will.
Those who come here and read, those who feel my connection and reconnection. You carry this in your heart and your spirit, just as I do. This is the connection and the reconnection in all ways.
I love to sew, to craft, and even to quilt..very simply and all by myself..as a child. But everything was so much simpler then. Everything was done by hand or on a treadle sewing machine or my mothers Singer when I was allowed to use it.

It was the mini-me version of myself in the making and I loved my life then, just as I do now, inspite of challenges that sound unbelievable to others when I share them.

I am still that forest and ferns, rocks and seashells little girl become little old lady ;-)

I still go out into nature and collect beautiful to me things and fill my heart and my home with them. My heart and my home are filled with starfish and seashells,and glass fishing float balls, pinecones, and home made wreaths, and feathers, and rocks, and crystals. Everything is handmade and homemade unless it is a gift and those gifts still come from the creative hearts of those I love.

As a visitor once told me (as she noticed that one of my end tables was fabric covered plastic crates, and the other one, fabric covered card table.... "All this time I thought you were rich but you are just crafty!" I am and so are the members of my family! Above, a prayer flag by me, a concrete meditation bench created by my son for one of my best birthdaygifts ever!

We live in the same house we built ourselves in 1978 and no even though we are builders we still live simply and have never remodeled. Even our furniture is the same homemade, or thrifted things I love and somehow it all works and works quite well in our lives.

 I like to do charitable work and giving but almost all of it is done at home and then brought to the venues that disperse them. I give one day a week to community, two days a week to family, and four days a week to what feeds my soul.

I am rich in spirit and happiness because of this richness in my spiritual life of not only giving but always trying to do onto others...and while I try to do it as mindfully as I can with physical, mental, and emotional challenges constantly seeming to enter my life as lessons for this amazing journey and adventure...sometimes ok, quite often...I do lose my mind as those amazing energies of connections fill me with de-light!

So for this year, while I do not have New Year's Resolutions as such, I do have my own private words of the year. Last year my word was 'Reconnection". And it all just seemed to happen but almost always in ways that I would never have expected, and most of them quite challenging.
I reconnected with myself, my friends, my family and my soul. All things others would say they thought I was already connected with. I thought so, too. But as I often discovered, what one sees and feels with their eyes is not what one feels and sees from the heart.

So, this year, more than ever that is my goal. I will continue to feather my nest and share feathers with others. I will continue to feed my heart as I continue to share my heart with others. And I will continue to give and to do and to be and to share.
But I will do it in the spirit of mindful living. And as I show the word of action, I direct my ongoing path of choice. This year will be about mindful reconnection realized and manifested in my life and the lives of those I love. Not wasting, not wanting, not ranting if I can help it ;-) but focusing and doing..in my home and in the places I am needed and meant to be. Just as I have always done but in new and intuitively creative ways!

Choose your word and share my path and together we will make it through any pain, any challenge, any darkness. 

Love and reconnection will guide me to make right choices for myself and those I love. May your word and your loving heart guide you as well.

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares her creative and healing  journey from Alaska to Oregon. Wildcrafting and the textiles arts... sewing, quilting, and creating prayer flags. Join me as I add my healing energies to changing our world..one little project, one gift of sharing from my heart, at a time.


Celia said...

You have a rich tapestry of life.

Nemo said...

The first word that comes to mind when I think of what my word for 2017 may be, is time.

Not as in take, but as in make.

Make time to craft, sew, knit, dream, love, listen, sing, speak, learn, teach, observe, show, experience, beathe, dare, date, comfort.

And I think it will be a good year.

Happy New Year, Michelle!

Susan said...

Thank you for another uplifting post.

stitchinpenny said...

Nice to see someone so comfortable in their own life to share it in such an open manner. Hope 2017 is full of good, joy and creativity.

Alice said...

Thank you! As always when I read your blog, I come away with a feeling of calm. I had decided that my word this year was going to be relax. Relax and let it all get done as it will. I am also trying for the make do lifestyle. I think it will be a good 2017. As always you have inspired me.

Marilyn McLeod @ Pink Paper Cottage said...

What a beautifully written article! I'm glad to get to know the inside of you even more! I had a feeling, from your blog posts, that you have healing hands... I think your purpose and who you are is quite wonderfully set forth right here! You are such a giving person... and knowing more of what you did while in Alaska shows a depth to you that most of us blog readers didn't know about. What a rich and rewarding life you have had so far... I know you have had much darkness too and yet you remain steadfast to your heart. I think you are following the path you were meant to follow. Your life in Alaska growing up must have been magical and "otherworld". I so admire you! Hugs.. Marilyn