You are not alone. This message is for you today.
You who needs to hear it, right now.
Wherever you are.
Whatever you are dealing with.
You are not alone.
No Estas Sola. That’s how you say you are not alone in Spanish.
This is the message that showed up on my path today.
Literally, right in front of me, spray-painted on the bright blue adobe building I passed by in the midst of a bunch of errands today.
It’s always been a habit of mine to snap photos of signs. Road signs, bumper stickers, billboards, shop signs.
I take them all as signs.
Get it? Messages.
This practice of paying attention to signs started years ago after studying with wilderness teachers and medicine people. Shamans.
Part of the initiate’s task in the wilderness, is to go on “medicine walks”.
These are daylong (or longer) rambles in the back country. Just you, a daypack of essentials, and your eyes, ears, and “other ways of seeing, hearing and knowing” wide open for whatever “signs” nature sends your way.
You might start your medicine walk with an open ended question: “What guidance do you have for me regarding…”.
Or you might enter the medicine walk completely open to whatever shows up. No specific inquiry in mind.
My medicine walks were often precipitated by one existential crisis or another. Why else pay good money to go ramble uncomfortably in the woods or desert or mountains?
So, I was the type that always had a question (several, really) in urgent need of answers, clarity of direction, and just plain old medicine to cure the things that made me feel unwell and off-kilter.
“Dear Nature, what can you teach me about being a writer?”
“Dear God, how can I accept myself the way I am?” By which I really mean but am afraid to say out loud: “How can I change into someone more acceptable?”
“Grandmothers of my past, should I become a mother? Supposing I ever meet someone I want to mate with? How could I be a mother and an artist? Especially when I’m not even doing the artist thing very well?
“Hey, Spirit Animals, Father Sky, Mother Moon, and anyone else out there: Help! Show me the way to my true gifts and how to best share them with the world. Please?”
Being an urbanite, I took up the practice of medicine walks in the city.
The cities where I lived: Chicago, San Francisco, Sydney, Berkeley, Oaxaca, Los Angeles.
And the cities that I traveled to: Seoul, Mexico City, Madrid, Paris, New York, Portland, Barcelona, London, Vancouver.
Going on long rambles with water and my journal, the routes chosen based on number of used bookshops and coffee shops I’d pass by. Coffee, books and searching for signs just go together, don’t you think?
The idea of medicine walks started showing up in my own teaching.
I love to show people how they can use collage, painting, writing, and visual journaling, for example, to ask questions they want answers to, and have their own inner guidance answer back on the page.
If it’s a travel creativity workshop, like those I teach in Mexico and Italy, we use our time out and about on treasure hunt type medicine walks, in search of signs that have particular meaning for us on the journey.
You are not alone is the message I needed to see and absorb today.
Because so much of living a creative life is time spent alone…doing the work.
And for other reasons, too. Like always wanting to feel and be more connected to some kind of peer group of creative kindreds.
Because as a natural introvert, it’s easy for me to isolate to find comfort, and always a stretch for me to reach out and connect, to make contact. Even with people I know very well and am close to. Even with my own sisters.
While I’m uncomfortable sharing my inner life here on my blog, whenever I do, it results in more connection with “my people”. My creative tribe.
So many times I hear, echoing back across the Interwebs: You’ve told my story. I feel like I know you.
This is connection. Back and forth between kindreds. This is the reward.
You are not alone.
I am not alone.
We are not alone.
How do you receive “signs” from the Universe, from life, from your inner guidance?
Have you ever done any intentional practice, looking for signs or insight?
What medicinal messages have you received that made a difference to you?
Bonus: What have you got on connection, aloneness / loneliness?