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Even the meaning of the term progresses
For most of my professional life, “work in progress” meant the unfinished book, article, or project I was working on. Some of my WIPs remained in that transitory state for years…some may remain as such for eternity.
Eventually I realized that waiting for the piece to be perfect equated to not being published, so I learned to close my eyes or hold my breath as I hit “send” and, in a blink of an eye, the document disappeared from my email box. In the dinosaur days of publishing, of which I am one of the remaining relics, we put those babies in the mail. Later, I watched my words pass through a fax machine, agonizing as I inevitably noticed typos in the cover letter as it scrolled through the feeder.
The tricky thing for me is that my work and my definition of self are inexorably paired. So critique of my writing became personal. If my writing sucked, what did that say about me? For many years, I avoided calling myself a writer to prevent possible rejection both personally and professionally. I preferred to call myself an editor who wrote for publication. It was a nice distinguishing factor, in my opinion.
Then I met my late husband, Joe. At our first meeting, I was trying to explain my current (and relatively new) position at the time, as associate publisher for a dance education trade magazine—which basically was a fancy title for chief advertising salesperson. As I tiptoed around my job description, I watched his face cloud with confusion.
Finally I took out a copy of the publication to show him. As I leafed through the pages and showed him the ads that I had sold, he caught sight of my byline on a short piece I had written, introducing myself to the readers. He faced brightened. “Oh, you’re a writer!”
No, no, I assured him. I sell ads. Joe was not deterred. From that day on, he introduced me as “This is Shelley. She’s a writer.”
Eventually I was able to say it about myself.
Joe was a photographer, and he took great pride in introducing and identifying himself as such. Yet when he turned from advertising photography to creating and selling his work as art, he was met with resistance at the word “artist,” mostly from his friends and peers. But he never looked back and although the initial lack of support from those he cared about hurt him, he had no trouble at all identifying his work as art and himself as an artist.
His belief in himself in that respect was one of the things I admired most about him. I, like many people, have difficulty in making those kinds of assertions about myself.
Evidently I didn’t learn the lesson about owning who I am from the writer “episode,” so the Universe gave me a new opportunity to claim the truth of who I came here to be.
Joe’s untimely death came at the height of Covid and lockdown. I say “untimely” because I watched as an unusual, aggressive form of cancer took down my vibrant, healthy husband in three months from diagnosis to death in the fall of 2020.
Yet in another sense, it was perfectly timed. That the explosion of my grief coincided with the pain felt worldwide due to losses from the pandemic was not lost on me. Rather, I embodied all of it. All the pain, all the loss. And herein emerged my “Destiny Moment,” the moment when a life event affects you so deeply that your entire being undergoes massive transformation.
Initially I turned to the two things that had served me best my entire life: reading and writing. The early version of this blog publication was born out of my experiences and desire to help myself and others make some sense out of what seemed incomprehensible.
Finally comfortable with the title “writer,” I even bravely and proudly named this publication/website Shelley Writes. I determined that this was how I was going to restore order to life again. And the Universe indulged me, all the while sending me down research avenues that offered relief and healing in new, unexpected ways.
As part of my research, I discovered that intuition plays a large role in energy healing. The first modality revealed to me was intuitive card reading.
Reading Tarot and Oracle cards was a natural progression for me as a reader and writer. Reading between the lines and discerning meaning is what I was born to do. As an intuitive reader, I rely on my psychic senses to interpret the message as the story unfolds via the cards.
Although at first reluctant to share share my new avocation, I put it out into the world with published card readings. The favorable response and interest I received encouraged me to continue following where my intuition led.
A series of introductory energy-healing and chakra-balancing courses inspired me to enroll in a two-year intuitive healing certification program at the School of Intuitive Studies, near Boulder, Colorado. I’m half way through the program now, starting my second year this month.
I literally stumbled into the next development: aura reading. It’s quite a long story and perhaps the subject of another post, but a series of unlikely events led me to meet the owners of a store I regularly visit and whose candles I often feature in my Tarot Tuesday photos. To skip to the conclusion…This store features the only full-time auratherapy studio in Asheville. I was invited to train as an aura reader using their equipment and advanced technology. So now I read books, cards, and people (auras)!
What’s next? I don’t know, but I trust the Universe will reveal what I need to know at the right and perfect time.
One thing I am certain about: “Work in Progress” has taken on a new meaning—I am my long-term Work-in-Progess, not the work I produce.
That realization is very close to the epiphany I had witnessing the outpouring of love that surrounded Joe in his final days. He had taken great care to preserve his images—I have four, 4-terrabyte drives full of his photographs. He considered his lifetime portfolio to be his legacy. But it became quite evident to me that he was the legacy that people would remember.
Yes, his beautiful images will outlast those of us who knew him in form, but that love, that feeling of elation which still emanates when people remember him won’t leave because energy cannot be destroyed. So in some ways, he will outlive even the images.
I believe this is true of all of us. I believe that we have chosen to be here now for a reason. Most of us have come many times, needing to repeat lives until we learned a certain lesson or fulfilled a certain purpose. I know for myself that this is the lifetime I chose to complete my mission, my raison d'etre.
I don’t understand why I had to wait decades to get on the right bus, but I no longer question the why’s. Perhaps if I’d been a better listener, I might have found my way sooner. But truly I think that I had to experience everything I did to get to this point, and that I’m right on time according to my cosmic timetable.
I do know that what I call myself as I evolve is less important than what I do.
As Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
And the irony (or perhaps the miracle) is that as an empath, I feel what they feel, so it’s in my best interest that I help people learn how to reach for the best possible feeling at every moment. It’s not limited to me, though. In a world that is governed by energetic connection, we are all one. I’m here to help others remember why they are here, too.
Right now there are two ways to work with me:
Intuitive Energy Readings: Interestingly enough, I no longer need the cards to reveal the story. I can tune into your energy and the message comes through to me from your guides. I still use the cards because most people (including myself) like the confirmation. So I use divination tools, my intuition, and energy (chakra) clearing and alignment in readings. Sessions are held via Zoom on Tuesdays and Fridays. Learn more about the process or book a session here.
Aura Readings: Beginning Sunday, September 3, I will be available on Sundays and Mondays each week for aura readings at ADORAtherapy at the Grove Arcade, 1 Page Avenue, Asheville. Sessions are in-person only. The reading includes your glossy aura photo, a crystal to support any imbalance revealed, a 14-page pdf evaluation report delivered to your email, and a aromatherapy session to help align your chakras. Please note that sessions are also available the other days the store is open. If you want a session with me, you can book online or stop in between 12pm and 4pm on a Sunday or Monday. (If you’ve never been to the Grove Arcade, look it up. It’s one of the most beautiful historic buildings in Asheville. Just being there is an uplifting experience.)
Am I still a writer, too? You betcha. More on that next week!
As far as evolving works-in-progress, here is the version of the Sandcastle image that Joe released for publication. It was his habit to shoot several angles for each image, and this is the one he liked best. I think it’s a fitting summation for today’s topic.
Until next time… my best, Shelley
P.S. If you are a new reader or missed the August 1 entry, you may find it helpful to read that earlier post for context regarding this letter. As a matter of fact, I invite you to scan the Archive for anything that pops out as interesting or helpful to you. I’ve been doing this a while—you’re sure to find something!