That expansive feeling when everything comes together in a perfect state of joy.
Exhilaration is what Joe called the above image. An apropos title, wouldn’t you agree? Surely this woman is experiencing that powerful, expansive feeling of pure potential as she surges through the water atop her horse. Oh, the joy!
But it’s not the original title or the original shot. Initially it was called Girl on Horse and looked like this:
A good shot, for sure. And licensed for use on a greeting card that bore an Anais Nin quote:
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
Still, the new crop and enhanced detail of the upper version captures something…more. That was always Joe’s modus operandi: Keep upgrading, finessing, applying new knowledge.
It’s somewhat of a minor miracle that I found both versions (there are more I’m sure) among his hard drive files. Joe, a visual artist, and I, a person of words, had very different ways to organize, and it’s always a fun challenge for me to consider what Joe might have called something when I go to find a photo. I can usually remember the shot but rarely the name, so with thousands of images on file, it’s a good thing that I can channel his help when needed!
My initial intent was to use the top version and write something about how I was excited to be starting a new direction in life.
Ho hum, been there done that, you may be thinking.
Evidently Joe was too because for no apparent reason, while I was searching the hard drive, my cursor slid down the page from the Exhilaration file name and landed on Girl on Horse.
Huh! I murmured. Could this be the original version? And indeed it was, giving me a whole new insight into what I was supposed to write today.
As mentioned above and in many past posts, Joe was constantly tweaking his previous work. The changes often reflected a new skill he’d acquired or effect made possible by tech advance. But he also had a huge collection of much older film work that he kept knowing that although the photos didn’t have the final look he wanted at the time, someday he’d be able to make them better reflect the image he had in mind.
Joe kept many of these older prints, negatives, and original SX-70 Polaroid photos in a large Pelican case, which resembled a suitcase (or baggage of sorts) that he carried with him throughout his life.
You’re probably getting the metaphor here…
And quite honestly, that is a more accurate description of what I’m going though and where I’m headed. Stay with me here because there’s a message in this for everyone.
What the Cards Say
As you have also probably gleaned from past posts, I often consult with Tarot and oracle cards to guide me or give insight into various situations. My topics for this newsletter are often a result of a recent reading.
Today is not an exception, however, the direction of the cards was entirely unexpected for me. Up until today, I was receiving very positive, uplifting, inspirational messages about how I was to proceed. Many of the changes I’m making may not have been inspired by the cards alone, but the courage to enact them most definitely was supported by the readings.
Today I meditated and then, while shuffling the cards, asked for guidance on how to introduce my new site and direction in the newsletter. A card fell from the deck before I was done. This is known as a “jumper,” which means the energy of the card should be considered while interpreting the upcoming spread or pull.
The Jumper was the 4 of Water, a card illustrated with a pod of humpback whales swimming in luminous waters and assigned the meaning of “Beauty” by the author of the Tarot deck. Good start!
But then the clouds began to gather as I pulled the next three cards, which—from left to right—indicate the past, present, and future energies/influences for the reading.
Past: 5 of Water “Consequences” pictures a mama Polar bear and cubs on a slab of ice in a frozen, but melting, body of water. The “reflected” image below shows only the mother, no cubs, on a smaller piece of ice. This surely is the energy of climate change we’re bringing into the present. But it’s also an indication of the consequence of human apathy and disregard/disconnection from Nature, our true source of life.
Present: 3 of Air “Rise Up” shows three herons soaring into the clouds above a small patch of green land surrounded by turbulent waters. Are they abandoning the troubled Earth? Or flying high to see things from a new perspective—one where the warmth of the sun can still be felt?
Future: 5 of Fire “Choice” requires a closer look. Is the forest on fire and being destroyed? Or, are we looking at a beautiful autumn sunset illuminating the trees? As always, we have choice to determine the future. Which will it be?
Outcome: 3 of Fire “Lights in the Darkness” reveals a murky swamp with three small candles providing a dim trail of lights.
I’m a glass-half-full gal, but even if I weren’t, the Jumper card instructs us to view the reading with beauty in mind.
There’s no denying these are troubled times, even for those who continue to look for silver linings. It’s not just the Mama bear and cubs on that melting slab of ice—it’s all of us, our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. It’s the future of Earth on the line and we cannot, we cannot, look the other way or leave it for others to fix one day longer.
So, I believe the herons are simply rising up for a clearer vision, as we must. The dismal projections will not be be solved or resolved by yet another Climate Crisis Summit. So far, we’ve seen and heard many promises but minimal change. Not nearly enough, not nearly of the magnitude that’s necessary to turn the progression of species extinction around.
We’re asking/expecting the people who created the problem to solve the problem. They won’t. They will continue to make grandiose promises and flourishes of inspired change, but it’s not in their immediate best interests and so all efforts will continue to be too little, too late.
It’s time to be the change we want to see in the world.
The herons are showing us how. Rise up! It’s not abandoning ship. It’s climbing to whatever heights necessary for the better view and clarity about what the best next steps are.
And so in the future position, today’s card spread asks us to make a choice. Will we leave it to someone else to (not) put out the fire in the forest and absolve ourselves of responsibility through blaming others for not acting? Or do we see instead a colorful change of seasons (thought) illuminating the leaves of the forest in a glorious tribute to birth and regeneration via natural means?
The outcome card reveals the better choice. We can begin as the little lights in the swamp. Maybe there’s just a few of us out there now, but light attracts light. And as the lights increase and grow stronger together, changes will follow.
And that, dear readers, is what today’s newsletter is all about.
We are all carrying around the baggage of our personal and collective pasts. Those bags are filled with “issues." Abuse, trauma, racism, sexism, and all the old stuff that didn’t work at the time so we packed it away.
We can choose to hide or forget what’s in those big suitcases, or we can take the stuff out to rework, to find or increase the beauty, like Joe did with his photographs.
“No matter how dark things seem or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities. Always see them for they are always there.” —Norman Vincent Peale
We are always at choice and are responsible for those choices. I’m going with the Jumper card and choosing to see Beauty.
I’m putting the light of possibility out there and searching for those who are searching for me. I’m going for Exhilaration.
And so I invite you to take some time and visit the new Shelley Writes site. Whatever your current subscriber status is (free or premium) transfers over and you need to do nothing to continue to receive a weekly email every Friday.
However, new site, new options, new possibilities! Now hosted on Substack, Shelley Writes offers expanded paid-subscriber benefits and a new level of subscriber participation: Founding Member!
(Note to current paid subscribers: your initial emails or visits to the site may indicate you are a free subscriber. The system is in the process of updating. You can, however, upgrade to Founding Member at this time and the two “memberships” will merge. By upgrading, your previous subscription will be extended and you will receive the new benefits immediately.)
You can see them all by simply clicking on the button below. But wait, something to note before you do: The price for paid subscriptions currently remains the same as it has been for the past year. However, in two weeks, on April 15, the monthly and yearly rate will increase. The new Founding Member level will remain unchanged. If you have any inclination to support this blog/newsletter and its mission, now is the time to act! Subscription renewal rates will not increase for any member who has or will join before the increase on April 15. So, check it out here:
Something else I should mention: This email today represents a “soft launch” of the new site and subscriber options. It is limited to present subscribers and possibly social media followers. I have to admit, there are still many tweaks to be made. In the next two weeks, I’ll be polishing and refining the look and features before the full-out launch. If you have a suggestion or see an error (very likely!) please email me. I’d love to get your feedback.
One last bit of exciting news to share! You can also choose to read Shelley Writes in the new Substack app for iPhone.
With the app, you’ll have a dedicated Inbox for my Substack and any others you subscribe to. New posts will never get lost in your email filters, or stuck in spam. Longer posts will never cut-off by your email app. Comments and rich media will all work seamlessly. Overall, it’s a big upgrade to the reading experience.
The Substack app is currently available for iOS. If you don’t have an Apple device, you can join the Android waitlist here.