My brain is hemorrhaging words lately — I have books in progress (reading them, not writing them) all over the house and I’m also trying to keep up with some daily writing. Thankfully, I get a wee break today as Stephanie has graciously sent an incredible class description as well as her bio —

I met Stephanie through Pixie, whom I’ve followed and admired for some time now. Dreaming of Pixie teaching a class someday but thrilled to have Stephanie. She’s been encouraging me through my doubts as have the other teachers I have on the agenda and for this I am truly blessed. I believe 2010 is going to be a very good year.

And without further ado (I’m so written out lately, been writing all over and everywhere, time to get back to neglected reading), here’s the sensational Stephanie Anderson Ladd in her own words:

Meeting and Manifesting the Triple Goddess
, a 2-day workshop facilitated by Stephanie Ladd, artist, writer, therapist

The goddess is an eternal archetype in the human psyche. She has shown herself from the earliest days of civilization to modern times and appears in many guises — in nature, in movie stars and heroines we admire, and within ourselves as we learn to love the divine feminine that we each contain and reflect. The triple goddess can take many forms, such as the three virgin goddesses, Athena, Artemis and Persephone; or Hecate, the triple moon goddess whose three faces represents the new moon, the half moon and the full moon. But for the purposes of this workshop, we will explore the three life stages of the triple goddess represented by the maiden, mother and crone. It doesn’t matter which stage you are currently living in the outer world, we all have access to these three aspects and portals of inner vision at all times if we know how to call them forth. In this 2-part workshop, we will both meet and manifest the triple goddess within and honor at least one of these aspects by creating a 3-dimensional shrine and doll to take home.

Day 1 Meeting the Triple Goddess

In this 3-hour workshop, goddess participants will be taken on 3 guided journeys to meet the 3 aspects of the Triple goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone. Each woman’s inner journey will provide them with a unique experience of their higher goddess Self in the three stages that we all have access to no matter what stage we’re at in life: the innocent, dreaming maiden; the active, nurturing mother; and the wise, experienced crone. Participants will journal and share their experiences and gifts they receive from the goddess within the circle. Before the end of the workshop, we will construct a shrine, gluing the parts provided so that they can dry overnight for the next day’s manifesting.

Day 2 Manifesting the Triple Goddess

In the 2nd 3-hour workshop, we will start with a nature walk and meditation in search of gifts from the goddess to include in our shrine and to use in creating a soul doll or effigy of one of the goddess aspects we wish to honor and work with. Then, goddess participants will play, decorating their shrine with paint, paper, fabric, collaged images and found objects and making a soul doll/goddess effigy to put in their shrine. We will then share our process and outcome with each other and close the circle with ceremony honoring the triple goddess within each of us.

About Stephanie Ladd: I love working and playing with the goddess within each of us, connecting with the divine feminine, and finding ways to manifest these qualities and share them with each other and the world. I am a licensed therapist who works with transpersonal psychology and creative ways of healing from the inside out, using archetypes, symbols, myth, writing and art to gain a deeper understanding of our soul and higher purpose. I have led many workshops and women’s groups and bring all of my experiences with Native American shamanism, Jungian psychology, and years of spiritual and psychological exploration to safely and gently guide women on their journey of self-discovery.

I love the photos I’ve chosen from her site, called Owl and Crow — both regal (or presidential I first thought, but I like the word regal better) and playful. Welcome Stephanie — we’re gonna rock the goddess kingdom!

Some More Story

“Reluctant journeys: Do you want to grow a little, push up against your edges, push a little bit beyond your boundaries, your fences? A teacher once told me that it’s when we stretch a bit beyond our edges, push a little bit beyond our comfort zone, we grow a little. Beyond our safety net. The part of us that keeps us protected. Safe. (Uninspired). Bored. Our everyday. If you could push a little bit outside of that, what do you think you’d discover? What would you like to uncover? Set free? A piece of your spirit you’ve held onto tightly out of fear of…what?”
~~(my journal entry from Monday)

Okay, so get to the point (I am my mother’s daughter — there really are no short stories in our lives). About this retreat — I wrote about the place and some ideas I had here and here.

It morphs as I go along, taking its own shape. There’s a quote I love from W.H. Murray that I’ve come across so many times in my reading that I’m finally paying attention to it. My recent reading of it is from a Christmas present (granted it was from me to me), the book, “Creating a Life Worth Living,” and it’s from the beginning of the chapter called “The Dive.”

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, that chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elemental truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitively commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no person could have dreamed would have come one’s way.”

So, the dive. On to the nuts and bolts of this retreat. What is it about? Where is it, when is it and so on? It’s four days at the end of March 2010, a Thursday afternoon, all day Friday and Saturday, and Sunday morning. Early Spring, moon waxing full. By early spring, I mean “New England style” with ocean effects, meaning bring layers (and maybe an umbrella and wellies). Basically, like New England weather the rest of the year or as Mark Twain said: “give it 5 minutes and it’ll change.” Oh, and bring some pretty adornments and a longish full skirt that you can twirl in.

I’m not sure how many acres we have to roam, all I know is it’s a lot. What with the large organic farm across the street, the state wildlife preserve, and the wooded paths on the property leading over a stream and down to Buttermilk Bay, I’m not letting weather stop me from exploring. Never have. If it’s cold, wet and windy, I’ll imagine I’m the heroine of some long ago novel (bundled up of course) wandering the fields deep in thought. You can gaze across Buttermilk Bay at the old railroad bridge crossing the Cape Cod Canal. If you’re lucky, you might get to see it in action to let a train across. And I’ll look forward to getting back to a rambling Jazz-age farmhouse with its great rooms, roaring fires in the fireplaces (tea, cocoa and ‘smores yeah!), and kindred spirits to gather with.

What it’s about? I imagine it’ll be something different for everyone. From others I’ve read , the retreat experience is different for everyone, which makes it all the more exciting for me. All I can tell you is what it’s been about for me so far — vulnerability, letting go of ego and control, and challenging my fear of commitment. Putting myself out there, wherever there is. But that’s not all it’s about. It’s about growing through an experience that scares me, the process, the connection and the risk. In the end it’s about my life and its meaning for me. Creating a life worth living. Connecting and creating community through deep play — dancing, writing, creating.

My biggest concern has been that many of the beds are shared, but I have learned that most women are pretty comfortable in community — think Girl Scout Camp, Campfire Girls, Nancy, George and Bess; long ago sleepovers with best friends…

The cost is $600. all-inclusive for food, lodging, and your choice of four classes. In tomorrow’s post, beginning with Stephanie, I will start introducing classes and teachers. Registration opens January 1. Please email me at michelleshopped at gmail dot com for the actual registration form or leave me a comment (I am hoping to develop a separate website but for now I’m keeping things simple for myself — part of committing for me is recognizing what to keep and what to let go of in the process). Updated: January 2, 2010 — completed website.

A Story — Part 1

I used to love talking names with my pregnant aunts, then my pregnant self and friends and even business names with folks birthing a business. I once named a sewing shop for someone — I was just talking off the top of my head, but she liked the name enough to use it, so the Nimble Thimble opened in Newport, Vermont back in 1980. Still have a thimble and ruler with the name stamped on them.

Personally, I don’t like trite, or something that sounds too limiting. For example, even though I refer to my retreat as BEAR, for Bay End Art Retreat, I don’t necessarily want to call it that. My first two retreats will be at Bay End, but who knows? I love to travel and may want to create retreats in different venues. So no names that are venue specific. I’m not sure what it will be but something that is wordplay of a sort, branding — when someone types in BEAR, this retreat will hardly be at the top of the search engines. Now I bet if I googled Squam it would be right up there. Or Verizon, Comcast and so on. So as this dream unfolds, so too, will a name.

Now, go make a cup of tea and maybe grab a snack (I have some salty oatmeal cookies that I love), because I can have a knack for making a short story long. (I rarely write long blog posts because it’s hard for me to read other’s long blog posts — too much info on a screen rather than a page can overwhelm me sometimes).

I’m not sure I fantasized about creating women’s retreats when I lived in Vermont, but when I moved back to Cape Cod twelve years ago, I mourned my beloved Vermont (I still do). Was I crazy?? What was I thinking? I beat myself up for giving up not only an incredible house, but also a strong support network I’d built of friends and local community. There was always someone I could connect with in person, so important for me. I didn’t have to seek hard to find connection when I needed it. A few weeks ago I reread my pros and cons list I wrote when I struggled with the decision to stay in Vermont or leave, I didn’t have the distance from it that I do now — clear as day! — 2 negatives and 6 positives for Vermont, and 2 positives (one, a job that I left within a year after moving back), and 6 negatives for the cape — go figure.

I found a wonderful, very cool (and very old) psychiatrist to help me work through parenting struggles, guilt and grief. Her office was in her home down lanes that twist and turn. The bathroom wall was a mural of Lascaux. She turned me on to Jungian psychology, Carolyn Myss (and her book The Anatomy of Choice, to help me come to terms with my choice of leaving Vermont), synchronicity, the Celestine Prophecy and so on. Those books led me to others and I started dancing, too (one of my longtime friends at the library had told me about belly dancing). Katrina, my dance teacher turned me on to more books and resources — Goddesses in Everywoman, Women Who Run with the Wolves, and more. I was insatiable. I even went back to church for a while — at a church in Baltimore I heard a priest tell us for the first time about the divine feminine, who was there in the very beginning — Sophia — wisdom. I was thrilled to finally hear a priest speak of a feminine power beyond Mary.

Each step I took brought me deeper into a wonderful spirituality and connection I’ve found hard to maintain over the years, and yet that was what sustained me at that time, brought me joy, made me feel good, and gave me a great community to heal and grow with. The community changed over time, as communities do and with that change it became harder to sustain. I stopped dancing, but never stopped reading. I turned to blogs more and more and found another community, still not enough.

I think blogs are beautiful; they have been lifesavers for me in very lonely, dreary times, but I still long for conscious connection in real time, however I can get it. Finding kindred souls is not easy. Maintaining connection is not easy. It takes time, and many people are too busy with hand to mouth survival to take that time. It’s hard, but I do believe it’s something we all need — to take the time.

What I am learning is maybe I need to take the time to be the person to create the connection I seek. And so I begin. Again. More in tomorrow’s post.

** the above photo, taken almost 5 years ago, represents a piece of me that’s still in Vermont


Here I am, on the eve of Solstice, the tree’s been on all day, my shift was canceled and I’m home listening to ESPN’s “Around the Horn.”
Watching my daughter make several trips into the kitchen for warm Mexican Weddingcakes (my niece’s father is Mexican) aka Russian teacakes (my son’s girlfriend is Russian) aka nut balls (the rest of us).

On the phone earlier confirming one of the teachers for the November 2010 BEAR. That’s right — November already! I haven’t posted much about my process in manifesting this retreat experience, partly because my laptop crashed and this wee notebook Marty got me for Christmas to replace it is taking some getting used to.

But one thing I learned in the process of organizing the March 2010 retreat is: line up your people early! I am blessed this go round as everyone fell into sync with it as I am sure they were meant to. The retreat site has been secured, I had one/half a teacher for several weeks and then all of a sudden within the space of days, I had four more and they’re perfect. The chef soon followed (an art school dropout wanting to return to her tribe).

I am enjoying the back and forth with everyone and am looking forward to introducing them (or asking other bloggers to introduce them). I have the registration and info drafted and the instructors are crafting their classes. In the meantime some basic info:

The Name: BEAR Spring 2010 — Bay End Art Retreat
Where: Overbrook House, Buzzards Bay MA
When: Thursday March 25 – Sunday March 28, 2010
Number Participants: approximately 20

The theme: Art, Nature and the Goddess

The structure: 4 teachers each doing 2 (different) three-hour workshops apiece, 10 students per workshops

The teachers:

Laura Gaffke

Diane Hanna

Stephanie Anderson Ladd

There are one or two more teachers in the works. Come explore your divine goddess nature through art, nature, movement and more in a beautiful natural setting, sharing and enjoying the process with other women.

** image from American Bear


Off to the Pioneer Valley to get my elf today — for the semester break. The above photo was four years ago when she was 16. Her canine compatriot will be 16 in less than a month. Been out straight lately with my rehab hospital job and catching up on my off days. Not complaining though. I had no income for about 6 weeks and the hours I’ve been getting are so welcome.

Overwhelm, Fear and What Ifs

When my laptop crashed a few weeks ago, I’d been in a fairly regular blog writing groove, but am having trouble lately getting back into the swing of it. Sometimes the thoughts are flying by so fast, I just plain can’t catch ’em quick enough. Then there’s other days where it’s just a struggle — I’d rather tell than write. Maybe it’s the Irish in me and the long line of storytelling history that goes with my heritage. Whatever, here I am today trying to spit something out. Actually, I’ve been working a lot on the BEAR retreat planning — every week brings me a little closer to the pieces beginning to come together and fit well. I have almost all the teachers worked out and can’t wait to introduce them, I believe I’ve finally found a chef, and am hoping to start registration by the end of the month. I know, good timing, huh? What with the holidays and all? But still, just gotta go with it and put it out there. Sometimes I get a little fearful and overwhelmed and the doubts creep in — all the what ifs? One of my mother-in-law’s favorite sayings was “ifs don’t count.” I used to not get it and even begged to differ, but I don’t know, sometimes I think she had a point. She had so much wisdom.

** the photo is one of my beloved niece, Mairead when she was about 10 a few summers ago (modeling one of our crazy vintage hats from our site)…remember when you were 10 and the world was still your oyster?

Keeping Up

Lately, I’ve been busy and lazy — and just not in the mood to focus on writing blogs (don’t mind reading them though). Think it’s also because I’ve been hunkering down at home lately as it gets a wee bit colder, so don’t have many adventures to share other than my crazy dreams. Had another one last night — I was working in a restaurant with Dr. Fleischman from Northern Exposure — he was a dishwasher. Probably related to one of the episodes I watched last night when he joined the volunteer fire department — that’s the only thing I can think of — so dish washing hose, firefighting hose? He didn’t seem too bent out of shape to be washing dishes — amazing for his character.

I did venture out to Providence on Saturday, a majorly skanky day — cold rain, raw, possibility of snow. Met my girlfriend at the Foundry Show which was smaller than we expected but still good. From there we went to the Providence Winter Market which I cannot speak highly enough of — got a huge bag of organic oats from Maine (love my “rolled oats” for breakfast as my Irish gran used to call them), some Jacob’s cattle beans and all kinds of yummy veggies. Had read about a beet and endive salad on a blog Friday — sounded so good, I found the ingredients in Providence. Afterwards it was on to the delightful Olga’s Cup and Saucer, a place I’ve always loved. About 7 or 8 years ago, after dropping my girl and her friend off at TF Green airport to catch their flight to Florida (which they promptly missed because Mom did not plan for post-9/11 security delays), I had my meltdown at Olga’s as I talked to a flight attendant trying to get them on the next plane (Success! Go Southwest — you are the best!).

Olga Bravo is an artisan baker and RISD grad — there’s all kinds of cool metal work there — racks, seating and what not — and back then, before the addition, it had an industrial feel inside (it may have been an old gas station down there in Providence’s Jewelry District). It was Valentine’s season and Olga had all these cool paper hearts hanging from the pipes. Her place can always restore this weary traveling mama’s soul. I mean how can you go wrong with art, tea and scrumptious cookies?

My Goddess

i used to dance
a long time ago
egyptian ballet african hip hop cuban butoh roth 5rhythms dancemeditation

anything to move my body
shake out my sorrows
jazz out my joys
share my sisterhood

awakening the goddess was what got me going
and my goddess awoke
she rose like the phoenix

but she’s been gone awhile
i don’t know what’s happened to her lately
she returned to ashes

but it’s time
for her to rise again


Thank goodness it was just a dream…I dreamt last night that Tom Brady was my son and Giselle Bundchen my daughter-in-law, and I have to admit I wasn’t very welcoming to her. Not too thrilled with him either. On the other hand, as Marty pointed out, having a helicopter pilot in the family would certainly feed my desire to travel the world.

But I much prefer the son I have, and was delighted when I woke up to realize this was just a dream. Still, that helicopter’s got me thinking…

** photo of Giselle with her helicopter pilot instructor from Ian Nolan/Splash news