Skip to content

E-Course Registration Open!

NEW LOGO

Hi everyone! I’ve been working tirelessly the past few months and am excited to announce that registration is now open for my Meaningful Making E-course! This has been years in the making, and so many of you have watched my journey all these years. So firstly, thank you for being here. For reading, for supporting, and for uplifting me all along the way. So here we are today, with something that represents the culmination of all these difficult years learning to live fully in the midst of grief. I’m so humbled to share this with you!

Visit the link below to sign up and join us in July! There will be journaling, art-making, storytelling and most importantly… healing.

Register Here! http://www.streanor.com/maketoheal/

More about the Course!

Meaningful Making is all about the process of building something new out of the ashes of loss. In this five-week e-course, you will explore a variety of ways to dive into the stories of your past, explore who you are now, and envision your future. We will ultimately combine some of these elements together, allowing all the parts of your story to be interwoven and layered to create new meaning to carry forward.
Class begins Monday, July 18th, and will run you $65.  Sign up today!

  • In-depth lessons on using creativity to make meaning from adversity.
  • An abundance of creative prompts in writing, painting, and photography to guide you.
  • Exclusive samples of my own creative healing processes.
  • Interviews and additional creative ideas from inspiring guest artists and art therapists.
  • A safe and inspiring community space to share in, via our private Facebook group.
  • An ebook of the entire course for you to download and return to anytime you need it.
  • Access to some awesome exclusive goodies for continuing your creative journey.

New Adventures: Creating an Ecourse!

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 3.44.23 PM

For the past few months, I have been working hard in the background on a big new project: An online grief workshop, called Meaningful Making. I am beginning to slowly move things from this blog over to my main website – so I won’t be updating as much here anymore, but will try to from time to time. So here is a bit about what I’ve been up to with the course…

Creating this has been a long time coming. For years, I have imagined creating a space for people who are grieving, somewhere safe where they can be encourages to create from their pain… ways they can make meaning from the sadness and transform the difficult parts of their story into something beautiful. In just another month or so, using a mixture of photos, writing, and painting, we will be doing just that. Making meaning and telling our stories in order to live forward in a way that feels rich, deep, and healing. It’s time.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 3.36.10 PMIt’s been almost 4 years now since the day my world was turned upside down – when I got the call that my fiance had been in an accident he “didn’t make it”. I still remember writing about it here, on this blog, with you all. In the time since that day, I’ve seen therapists, gone to psychics, read countless books on grief and art therapy, and explored all number of art mediums including painting, photography, writing, ceramics, jewelry making, encaustic (wax painting), collage and mixed media, nature art and more. It has been quite a roller coaster.

And while my journey through grief is not complete, because no one’s ever is, I am now in a place of peace and power with my “chapter two”. I miss my old life, I miss my best friend, but I love and am figuring out my new life, and there is beginning to be a beautiful balance between the two. That’s the place I decided I needed to be in before trying to take on this project… and so, it has rested silently in my heart for years, until now.

Though I’ve never created an e-course before, and have really no experience in teaching, I feel in my bones that I’m being pulled in this direction. I am trying to trust that whatever I need in order to create this experience is already inside me, just waiting to be birthed. And so, with blind faith, I am stepping out into it.

It’s a funny thing, when you decide to show up for something… how all number of things start to move in your favor. A few weeks ago, my Indiegogo fundraiser for the workshop ended. I created it not only to raise funds for the materials, programs and some training I will need, but also as a formal way of telling the world – hey, I am doing this. Accountability works wonders. My goal was just $500, which I met in only FOUR days time. After the 2 months of the campaign, it closed out Tuesday with $1700… over three times my original goal. I already have nearly a dozen people who are signed up via their donation. I mean, this thing is happening! It’s exciting, scary and bittersweet all at the same time.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 11.10.58 AMIf you are at any stage of grief with a loss in your life, I hope you’ll join me on this new adventure. To read more about the course, visit the ecourse page here. Or if you’d like to receive updates on the course via email, you can simply leave me your email below.

Lastly, please share this with anyone you know that could use a safe space to make some meaning from their own story with grief. Thank you friends, for encouraging and supporting through these rough years. You have made such a difference, and continue to!


SIGN UP BELOW FOR UPDATES ON THE COURSE


 

Updates from New Landscapes

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.45.05 PM.png

I can’t believe my last post here was in September. I haven’t been kidnapped, I promise! On the contrary, I have been writing weekly still for Widows Voice about all the goings on since my move… but I’ve neglected to share what creative things have been going on here.  Probably because its been a time of wandering and less direction… which is always when I seem to write less here. Somehow today felt like a good day to dig back in though. I suppose I should start with an update on just what has been going on creatively since my big move from Texas to Ohio.

Firstly, it is COLD in Ohio. And this has been an unseasonably warm winter for Ohio I am told. Despite that information, below freezing for 2 weeks in a row is something I have not previously experienced. That sort of cold only lasts like a day and a half in Texas before it goes back up to the 60’s. Sigh. I miss my flip flops.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.25.32 PMOkay, I am not really in love with the cold. So just what am I loving about this new place? The landscape. It is foreign. And fresh to my eyes. The trees are much taller. There are rolling hills, steep valleys and beautiful gorges. And all the water features, oh! Waterfalls and creeks and rivers and ponds and lakes everywhere…. ones that magically do NOT dry up 2 days after it rains, like in Texas. No, they actually exist all year, only changing in winter when freezing solid. Speaking of that, icicles galooore! Some of them 20 feet tall! Talk about magical. I may hate the cold, but winter here certainly leaves a lot of room for your childlike wonder to roam.

I have spent the past few months trying to get settled in. It’s been chaotic, and a challenge to make room for creativity. There haven’t been any big conceptual photo shoots. No climbing around in frozen landscapes in front of my camera to capture new self portraits. I’ve been a little bothered by this. I always feel, if I stop doing the portraits for too long, that I am missing opportunities to tell stories that are happening right here in the now. I’ve had to let go of that a little, and realize that I am telling those stories in different ways perhaps.

Mike and I have hiked nearly every weekend the past 2 months now. I’ve gotten in the habit of taking my camera along and shooting along the way. I never really hiked much in Texas, so this has been a great adventure. Everything has become less about my internal emotional world lately, and more about what is going on all around me. I suppose I am starting to put down the self portraits for a while… and lean into exploring what else there is to capture. What stories are told when I don’t have a figure in the image? How are they told? How does this change my own relationship to nature and to the images? There’s been plenty to explore for sure.  As I embrace this direction more, I can feel my creativity loosening up. I am experimenting with color images more, or adding tints and filters to my black and whites to give them a sheen of color. I’m even going back to old images and reprocessing them in completely new ways lately.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.13.55 PM

A few of my older shots getting a face lift with some color tints!

After several years of hard emotional work, and using photography mostly as a means to do serious healing, I am enjoying the play. I’ll admit, I did start to feel stuck within the portrait series after a year of commitment to it. Slowly, it is beginning to feel good to let loose and just explore where things are going – both personally and creatively. I’m also looking toward some new ventures now that will include others within my creative process, something very new for me. More on that soon. Cheers everyone! I hope your new year is off to an inspired start!

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.09.36 PM

Mike out hiking around Gorge Metro Park

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.09.48 PM

Sandstone detail in Gorge Metro Park

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.09.13 PM

Blue Hen Falls – Cuyahoga Valley National Park

12241557_10153628599015306_8830301099818193274_n
Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.08.15 PM

Prairie at Springfield Bog

The Voyager

portrait_week40

This may likely be my last post here until I make my way to my new home and get settled in up north. I came across this passage in a wonderful book I just finished last week, and I knew it was fitting for this moment in my life, and this image:

There is a time known as the between. The between voyager travels through uncharted territory, navigating dangers, attempting passage into the next life. There are times in life, after a death of some kind, when we are open to the slightest shifts, when our powers are acute, when we can change the future. The between voyager temporarily possesses an immensely heightened intelligence, extraordinary powers of concentration, special abilities of clairvoyance… flexibility to become whatever can be imagined, and the openness to be radically transformed by a thought or a vision or an instruction.” – Excerpt from the book I Was Amelia Earhart by Jane Mendelsohn

I can’t deny that, secretly, I love being on the edges of life. I always have. I love that moment when you are looking out into the unknown and part of you is scared, but part of you is ready to hoist yourself out, almost recklessly so. You want to go, to explore and find out what’s out there. Your fears start to diminish as an insatiable curiosity begins to burn and draw you towards the sun. That moment, just before you leap, when the air feels electric and uncertain and powerful. When your legs feel unsteady but your eyes are ablaze with something deep in your soul. It is a moment I have been in love with since I was a child.

In just less than a week now, I will be embarking into uncharted territory. I’ve spent the past few weeks tirelessly going through every box and bag that I own… all of which has sat in storage these past three years since he died. Ironically, yesterday I came across an interesting old photo. It was from the last time I was packing up my entire life, a few months after he died. This picture, showing boxes piled up to the ceiling in my small Dallas apartment, had a timestamp on it for this very same week. I was so shocked. How surreal that on the very same week three years ago, I had just finished packing up my life, and I have just finished doing the same this week. For a moment, two versions of me existed… taking deep breaths in quiet moments on the edges of tomorrow. One is a tomorrow I have lived for the past three years. The other, a tomorrow I do not know yet.

Despite how difficult this journey has been since he died… stepping out into the unknown and allowing life to happen to me was the best decision I ever made. I have learned more about myself and about life than I ever thought possible. I have met so many incredible people – most of which I never would have met had I not taken this chance. I know with much more certainty the things I hold important. Although still in the early stages, I am also now committed to doing meaningful work that matters to myself and helps others.

I don’t quite know who I will be as I enter this new world, nor do I know how this new land will change me. All I know is that I will be changed, and that excites me. I’ve been changing by darkness for years now, and I’m ready to be changed by the light again. Who’s with me?

The Promise

portrait_week41

A lot has happened in the past few months. I have fallen in love again, for the first time since my fiancé died. The growth of this new relationship has brought about unbelievable new joys as well as painful new layers of grief. One of the hardest things has been mourning the life I had planned with someone else. Deciding to begin a life with someone new has me feeling that pain sharply. And now, a more physical representation of that is about to occur. After 8 months of living 1400 miles apart, I’ve decided to move closer to the man I love (and his lovely daughter) and explore a whole new life. Starting a new direction though comes with goodbyes too.

I have been waiting for this day for some time… wondering when it would come. Knowing one day I would be ready to take flight once more. I’ve been stuck creatively for months now, unable to communicate my feelings into images. I hate when this happens… but it seems to always occur whenever big shifts come. I’ll sit stuck for weeks or months even, until suddenly one day, the fog just lifts, and I realize with such clarity what’s next. This happened a few weeks ago, while journaling. I suddenly realized that the next part of the story is about goodbyes, and that I needed to photograph the nest. Not the human-sized nest I shot for Sanctuary, no, but the one that was the very inspiration for that iconic photograph. This is the nest I found at the cemetery just weeks before shooting Sanctuary. It had fallen from the tree over my fiance’s grave site and landed right next to his headstone. That same week, I’d watched an inspiring documentary about Anne Geddes in which she reclaimed her inspiration by photographing bird’s nests. The next week I also watched a presentation on grief in which the speaker talked about losing your sense of home when your spouse or partner dies. The connection was so clear. It wasn’t long before the full concept for Sanctuary began to form.

After all this time, the little nest that inspired that photograph has been sitting in my office on the shelf. Never did I think of photographing the original nest itself. It didn’t fit the story, until now.

Slowly, without realizing it, I have become larger, stronger, and more capable over the past year. I have outgrown the nest that once surrounded me. It was not until recently that I saw it. Just suddenly, with the talk of moving. Moving far away from where my parents and my fiance rest. Far away from cactus and cowboys and the friendships and family I’ve known for years. Despite the fears and worries of such an immense change… I can feel it in my bones… it is time. Time to take flight and to trust my own wings to carry me to new lands. Time to believe that the unknowns out there will be beautiful, and exciting, and full of wonder. Time to build a sanctuary someplace new, one with room to grow.

I’ve been readying my heart to cut loose enough to catch the wind. Preparing to make a promise… to myself, and to everything and everyone that has gotten me this far. A promise to honor not only life but also death. To not abandon the nest which grew me in these years of my deepest grief, but instead to carry it with me and keep it safely within the space of the new sanctuary I will build. To hold it close to me always and to never forget all the love that has brought me here. The love of so many… all of it woven so warmly around my broken bones these fragile years.

My wings are ready. It’s time to fly.

The Dance

Portrait_No39

As I continue in this direction with hands I keep being drawn to… I have found myself suddenly at a powerful intersection of both my work and my life. Since the earliest days of the “Still, Life” series, I have held this image in my heart. It was always meant to be a continuation of the stories told in Hope and Desperation (below). It first came to me at a time when I was seeing a variety of images that included a second figure… a man. Some of these images were meant to speak of a connection to my late-fiance in the spiritual realm, while others were meant to speak of someone else… someone new. I decided hiring a male friend just to capture these stories wouldn’t work. It needed to be real. It needed to actually be the next man in my life. And without even a remote glimpse and no feeling of even desiring someone new yet, I put these ideas aside to wait patiently for that day to come.

hope&desperation

And here we are, arriving at the day this image finally came to be. It is precisely what I imagined for all those many months… except for one thing: the story on the other end. That I could have never known.

The Dance depicts a meeting of souls. That pivotal moment in time when two paths cross in the darkness and a bond is formed. It is the story of brothers, of sisters, of soulmates and friends… each has met desperation and hope in their own way – making them unafraid to see one another in the darkness. In this way, something very powerful and solid is created from the dark places inside us. Such meetings are sacred. For it is the darkness that bonds us to one another in ways we cannot ever bond in the light. It is the tests and trials found here that reveal the truth of a person’s character, integrity, and loyalty. It is the place that changes us, and the place that unites us.

There is something I cannot describe as anything but magic when I think about this image. To have spent so much time with this visual in my head and heart – with no idea when I would ever meet this person or be able to create it – and to now see it made real. And not only to see it, but to now know both stories. To know now what I didn’t know a year ago – that this man’s story would end up being just as important as my own story to the shot.

This soul, who I didn’t even know existed just 4 months ago, matches my own dark journey in a way I could have never imagined. A way I will always wish didn’t exist… because he also endured the death of his love. His beautiful, bright-shining, courageous wife of twelve years. To an agonizing long-term illness. A journey very different to my own sudden loss, but a journey through the darkness nonetheless. As a relationship has begun to unfold between us these past months, I came to know with certainty… he is the one I have been waiting for – to tell this part of both of our stories, and to live this part of my journey.

The Story of Hands

lonelyhand_1

As a symbol, hands have begun to fascinate me lately. They have so much power to tell the deepest, most primal stories of our humanity. Fear, survival, love, belonging, safety, evolution, history, ability… there so many stories contained within this single element of our bodies.

These images were shot at the end of my last shoot with the calf’s heart, just experimenting and going wherever intuition takes me…

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 11.28.42 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 11.34.07 PM

happy buddha breathing

Be real. Breathe deep. Live life.

12 Months of Creativity

Lessons on life as an artist

a wee bit warped

Art by Shelly Massey

strata of the self

an exploration of our selves in images and text

Adam Robert Young

Musings on photography, life, and the pursuit of Nutella macarons

L2ny's Weblog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

My Painted Life

musings on painting and parenting, love and life

JamesMSama.com

Bringing dignity and integrity back to dating & relationships.

Loving Language

Learning languages and connecting with others.

MindMedicine Blog

Professional Golfer & Mind Coach in Life & Professional Sport...

Stitch Snap Sketch

crafting a pretty and handmade life

Cultivating "Happy"

My Journey Into Healthier, More Purposeful Living

%d bloggers like this: