Rekindle Your Wild Joy and Deep Belonging to the Earth

What my students learned this semester December 6, 2015


Start paying attention

The difference between me and you (or anything, for that matter)

is the thought that creates that reality.


I need to be radical in my love, my thoughts, my actions, my acceptance and surrender – to get to the root,

the seat of life and growth, which is the seat of quintessence.

That’s where i want to be.


[What I’ve learned has been] both extremely helpful and devastating:

How unconscious most humans are, but that it can change!

I uncovered some of my own self-defenses that keep me from action.

The application of psychoanalytical theories to understand the great complexity of our environmental situation.

I developed more clarity and compassion, for myself and others

Context for the madness

A lot less anger

At once, I feel the urgency to act and the need to be patient and not act forcefully

To learn to live with and through the earth, not just on her

Gratitude that I owe to my family


Humans’ connection with nature

A sense of oneness

Enmeshment within the natural world

Being an integral part of the macro interdependent-system that feels itself, knows itself, and heals itself

Ecological identity

This has forever changed my life


I look at all that is around me a little differently now.

Knowing it is all of the earth, and perhaps more importantly that it will go back to the earth, changes the way I operate in my days.


This sense was deepened and became more embodied

An exchange in breath: as the plant was breathing out, I was breathing in

Increase my awareness and widen my perception

Eventually feeling the reciprocal awareness of nature

How incredible these realizations have been for me.


Awakening has been the most beautiful process I’ve ever endured.

Thank you Earth!

Healing source

Never ending story


These are the truths that have become my mantras from being absorbed in ecopsychological concepts.

These are incredible supports that I rely on when feeling distressed, confused, and at times, hopeless.


I will continue to live mindfully in respect to nature.

Being conscious about what I purchase, what I waste, how and what I eat etc.

“No matter how big you get, don’t forget to take out your own trash.”


So grateful to walk this path with you

and share what I can with whoever will listen.

A challenging(!), engaging, deepening, fulfilling and respectful round of studies

I’m so grateful to be receiving wisdom

Like candy for my soul.


I bow out to a transformative journey

I and the moon bow in thanks

Your wisdom and beautiful hearts


Just bloom.



These words are from first-year students’ final self-reflections on their learning in my Ecopsychology class, part of Naropa University’s M.A. program in Ecopsychology, early December 2015

collated into a poem by professor Tina Fields

I composed this as a gift back to them, a lens on what happens in this program, and a reflection for teachers to turn to when times at work get rough. To help us remember that what we do matters.

Students whose words are in here: Katie Poinier, Thompson Bishop, Melanie Gajewski, Colleen Kirkpatrick,  Karen Delahunty, Lauren Mangion, Anne Gordon, Sierra Robinson, Erika Dearen, Bekah Turner, Tessa Stuart and Jakob Ledbetter.

I am extraordinarily fortunate as a teacher, so often getting to feel awe at the depth of my students’ thoughtful engagement with their learning, their passionate desire to care for the planet, and most of all, their souls.





Art Therapy Marathon Paintings November 15, 2011

Filed under: Arts — BrujaHa @ 10:41 pm
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The Painting Marathon put on by Naropa University’s Art Therapy program was a rousing success. 48 hours of nonstop work by 75 volunteer students, staff and faculty on three large paintings netted over $15,000 in donations. The money will support a service-learning project in Cambodia with Transitions Global to help girl victims of sex trafficking. Participating in this as part of “Team Tutu” was a fun way to get to know some of my new community.

Here are the final lotus paintings, photographed where they are temporarily hanging at Naropa’s Paramita Campus in Boulder, CO.

They are big, taking up most of each wall. I often walk the long way round to the copier or the water fountain just to look at them. Those who offered the three highest donations will get the paintings. Lucky stiffs! That sure beats those Xmas card packs other charities offer as thanks.


Team Tutu


The “A” Team


Vibrant Vortex 


As you might imagine, the paintings underwent tremendous transformation over the 48 hours, as teams of painters came and went and added their own vision and flair to the works.


Team Tutu in progress

Grad student Stephanie Andres (the sketcher above) held Team Tutu together in a way that was a masterpiece of skill, strongly holding a coherent vision for the geometrically layered work while still allowing individual creativity.

Those pomegranate seeds in the middle – my contribution, which then virally spread coral colors throughout the piece as other tutu-clad painters came on board – are an illustration of this.


The “A” Team in progress

(look back at the final to marvel how much this one changed just over the final 5 hours!)

This lovely beetroot heart still remains, shining forth from within the new lotus.


Vibrant Vortex in progress


Here’s a video by Meg Hamilton that documents some of the paintings’ changes through photos taken by many participants, myself included.


There was also a wall-sized piece done by visiting teens. Here’s a small part of it that I particularly liked:


Local musicians came to play for the painters, which made the event even more fun. I love how music informs visual art. Long ago when I used to paint a lot, I’d sometimes make a list of all the songs that went into each completed work. You know that the piece was different due to its influence.

At one point during the marathon, these guys called for guest singers, and I got to sing St. James Infirmary with them!  Best coffee break ever.


Some of Nalanda Campus’ 7 cute prairie dog coteries sang along outside.


I feel fortunate to teach at Naropa, where I get to work alongside such inspiring colleagues as Sue Wallingford, the Art Therapy faculty who is spearheading the project along with her dedicated and talented students.

Who could resist painters in tutus?

Thanks to all of you Indigenize readers who supported this project.

Brava all!