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E-Course Registration Open!

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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!

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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!

Week 36 // Balance

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Click image to Purchase

I’ve been waiting for this image for a long time. Over the past year it has evolved in various forms until the idea of creating a story around heartstrings came up. The original of the idea came from hearing a story about a woman’s near-death experience recently, in which she described leaving her body but seeing literal strings connecting her heart to all the other hearts around her. That clicked for me as the perfect concept for this shot.

I’ve sat with all the images from this shoot for over a week now because so many of them turned out to be very powerful. So much so that I’m thinking I will break it out into its own smaller series – in color. I’ve certainly had a hard time choosing just one for this series, but this is the one that is speaking to me today.

The heart story. Connections, love, vulnerability, tension, fear, courage. The heart is a raw, wild place inside us that we only ever allow a very select few to see. Personally, I like it that way.

There has been, all my life, this constant tension between myself and the outside world. I have lost far too many people in my 32 years to be frivolous about who I attach it to. This isn’t something that has been caused by my fiance’s death, but likely by the death of my mother when I was very young and likely also to the dysfunctional nature of my childhood. I turned inward when she died, and spent much of my time within my own heart and mind. Safe from the pain of losing others. Over time, I became an expert at keeping connections at bay… but in the background, I always knew there was something about this that I didn’t like. It was all too easy to sever ties with most people because I never let them connect to me in the first place.

My fiancé’s love changed all that. He crept into the depths of my heart in ways that I had not allowed anyone else to. His essence wrapped itself around the deepest, darkest, most vulnerable parts of me. There was no fixing, just existing. Together. Wrapped around each other’s darkness. And around each other’s light. I let him all the way in. When he died, I could do nothing but bleed for a very long time. The brokenness made it impossible not to.

So it was his death which actually began to change something in me. In particular, the trauma and shock of how suddenly he died. It ripped my heart right out of my chest. What I didn’t know back then, is that although this meant my heart was now more vulnerable than ever, it also meant that it was more out in the open to receive love. That’s the thing of it – to receive love, to create connections, we must be willing to put our hearts out into the open and risk them being ripped apart.

It’s a terrifying thing. In the past few months, there have been some powerful shifts for me that have led to new challenges. There have been events and people who have come into my world which have pushed me to decide whether I will continue working to keep my heart our there in the world. Beginning to date again, and move into deeper friendships with men again, has been one of the biggest struggles of late. Particularly because it began to present itself so without warning and it has uprooted all sorts of things I had yet to begin to work through.

As I move forward, I’m learning a new balance with the outside world. I am not hiding my heart away like I used to. Finding less need for that now. I am not leaving it out in the open either though. I am holding it close to me, grasped firmly between strong hands – protected, but connected. Allowing others to grab hold of my heartstrings without letting them pull me out of balance. Choosing people who will not want to pull me out of balance. From here, I can loosen or tighten my grip as needed, in order to feel safe. And I can trust others respect that and do the same for themselves. The tension is no longer a negative. It is no longer out of balance on one side or the other, but instead like two equal forces, myself and the hearts of everyone else around me, creating power, energy and stability in the space between us.

PURCHASE PRINTS HERE

“Still, Life” is a year-long self portrait series exploring the journey of grief. You can read more about the project in this post. To see the full image gallery visit 2014 PROJECT. Please share with anyone who you feel can relate to the imagery, my hope is that it gives many others a visual for something they are going through in their own lives.

“Sanctuary” is a Finalist for the Cover of Artist Portfolio Magazine!

Week 11 / Sanctuary

This is SO exciting. A few days ago I shared I found out my image Sanctuary will be published in the next issue of Artist Portfolio magazine. And I many via my Facebook to leave comments on the link in support of my image for the cover. Due to the overwhelming responses people gave, the magazine is opening up an OFFICIAL VOTE for the first time in history. And I am one of 3 finalists. This is SO COOL – that means all of you totally made this happen with your comments. I am beside myself with how much your support has done.

So I have just ONE more request… please follow the link below and give your OFFICIAL vote for my image Sanctuary to be on the cover!

You’ll find the voting box at the bottom of the post below the three finalist images. Thank you again SO much. You cannot imagine how good it feels to have so many who appreciate what I do, care about my story and are willing to support me. Let’s kick off 2015 big and make this HAPPEN!

Vote Here: https://artistportfoliomagazine.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/whos-art-will-be-on-the-cover-finalists-2014-cover-art-exhibition/

Week 30 // Warrior Woman

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(The music I would play with this image)

I have wanted this shot for a long time. Despite having the visual of this in my head for most of this year… I’ve learned I cannot entirely plan when they will be created. They come when they are ready. I am so thrilled this one was finally ready.

I’d been wanting to take a trip down to the coast for some time now for the series and finally could not ignore the calling any longer. So last week, I packed up all my gear and drove down to my hometown just a few hours south of here. Padre Island National Seashore is just a 20 minute drive from where I grew up and is somewhere I spent a great deal of my time as a child. The wilds of that beach ground me in ways no place else on earth does. I only had one morning to shoot, and what luck that a beautiful overcast sky rolled in just in time that morning. I shoot almost entirely under overcast skies or at dusk and dawn when the light is softest.

The weather made for a bit of an added challenge. About every ten minutes or so for the entire morning, an intermittent drizzle would start up. That’s not a terribly big issue normally – I have a poncho for my camera – but when you have to angle the camera upwards facing the grassy slope of a sand dune… well, the whole front of the lens is defenseless! At least I got in a good workout having to run up and down the slope every time it began to drizzle. Arg.

It was worth it for this shot though. It is so much more than what I first envisioned all those months ago. It represents a very new place and energy within this journey for me…

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image detail

Tears come to me while trying to write about this image. She is the warrior in me. The part of me that has stared into the face of unfathomable pain and death and has not backed down. She wields the darkness around her – commands it, uses it, does not let it overtake her. She is the part of my that faces the unknown with bold determination.

Even on the very week of his death, when I was broken beyond anything I have ever felt or imagined… when I could not even feed myself… there was an ever-so small part of me standing up on this hill. I even recall telling a friend in those early days that “life can take everything it wants from me, but it will not ever stop me”. That part of me – so inexplicably determined – was declaring my right not only to survive, but to thrive. And ever so slowly… crawling through mud, climbing from pits, struggling beneath grief, she has grown strong. She has been waiting for this image for a long time.

I know this was the time for it to come because of a few major events of the week which fueled me with some serious strong energy. Something I haven’t shared within these blog posts is the other weekly obsession of my life: Crossfit. This intense sport focused on a combination of high intensity cardio, strength training and olympic style lifting has had me hooked from day one – which coincidentally enough, was just a week after I began this photo series.

So these two long-term committments have been with me week in, week out, all year… pushing me mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. And the weekend prior to this shoot, I competed in my first competition.

I never dreamed I’d be competing in a thing like this – or in anything athletic. I quit believing I was an athlete around the age of twelve. This year has changed that. And this past week at the competition, I got back in touch with that little athlete I was so many years ago. I found her, and discovered – to my complete joy – that I am still every bit the fierce competitor I was all those years ago. I just didn’t give her a chance to shine until now. When I walked out of that competition, I felt strong. Stronger than I have felt maybe ever in my life. And prouder than I’ve ever imagined to be of myself. I can say with certainty that the physical and mental journey of growth in Crossfit has fed into my work immensely… probably most notably in this week’s image.

I also gained a bit of a viral surge this past week via a few wonderful blog posts – which were shared by others blogs, on Facebook and Twitter. Then a few more blogs contacted me to share it, and just today I had another request! Comments have been flowing in from so many (thank you ALL!). The exposure has brought me to tears and broken my heart wide open in the most amazing way. I have poured so many endless solitary hours into it’s making, doubting if it will ever make much of an impact out there to anyone. Lonely hours. Frustrating hours. Deeply emotional hours. Tired hours (speaking of, it’s already 1am as I write this!). I have wanted nothing more than for it to have a great value to others going through the darkness of grief. To inspire them in some way. Give them hope, or at least an image to relate to.

Suddenly, with this surge of exposure, it feels like the tides rushing into me – each comment and share washing away me from all the solitary time spent. Allowing me a glimpse of where I dream it might go one day. It gives a bigger meaning to his death and my “after” life. The more people it reaches, the more deeply connected I feel to him – as if we are co-creating this thing together. I rather think we are. Still a team somehow, just in a very different way than ever before.

Thank you.
And remember how strong you are.

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“Still, Life” is a year-long self portrait series exploring the journey of grief. You can read more about the project in this post. To see the full image gallery visit 2014 PROJECT. Please share with anyone who you feel can relate to the imagery, my hope is that it gives many others a visual for something they are going through in their own lives.

Week 22 // Spirit


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I’ve been holding on to this image for a while now. It’s one of my favorites. Sometimes when I initially shoot an image the timing to share just doesn’t feel right yet – often times the words aren’t yet ready to come. So I wait. Today it seems, was the day for this one. I am so glad. 

Living with the loss of partner, or any great loss, is one of the most challenging things we will ever face in life. It sends us on a journey through the fire – into a darkness the likes of which we have never experienced before. It brings us to our knees and breaks us. Severely. I certainly remember this feeling well. Before my fiancé died, I knew I could handle anything that life threw at me. Only I didn’t really know that at all…

On the day he died, and the dark days thereafter, I came to find out what it really means to be able to handle anything life throws at you. To lose a soul mate – particularly in a sudden way – takes you to a place more painful and terrifying than I ever knew could exist. It breaks you right down to your bones.

I feared for my life – in a very real sense, for probably the whole first year. I feared for my life because I feared the death of my spirit. I was so badly broken that I honestly did not know if my spirit could ever recover. I was afraid that I would become dark and lose my sense of childlike wonder and hopefulness about the world. That this brokenness would overtake me and I would not be able to come out of the fire with my eyes ablaze anymore.

YET… I can still recall in the midst of it all – in those first hours and days and weeks – something inside me WAS ablaze. Something inside me was saying that this world can throw anything it wants to in my face and I will not stop believing that this life is beautiful. Or in the words of Mr. Tom Petty… “You can stand me up at the gates of hell, and I won’t back down”. (one of my go-songs right after he died, and still today).

I didn’t really know it at the time, but am quite certain now… that this was my spirit. This is the kind of stuff that amazes me about the human spirit. How broken we can be and yet still somehow, inexplicably, that soul part of us stands up for our broken human self. It doesn’t mean we feel any less broken. Or powerless. Or scared. But what I do know is that listening to my spirit was – and still is – something that gave me the ounce of strength I needed each day to get up and keep on trying to figure out what to do with all of this.

Looking back over things two years later is incredible at times. Because it feels like no time has passed at all – and often I still feel like I’m back at square one with my grief. But other days, like today, something lends me some perspective. And on days like this I can actually begin to feel like, yeah, I’ve crawled out of the fire… out of the worst of the darkness. I’ve been battered and bruised and burned and scarred by this long journey, and I will be battered and bruised and burned and scarred much more before my time here is done… but I have not been broken. My eyes are still curious, my heart is still hopeful, and my spirit still burns bright… perhaps, even brighter than before. 

If you’re new to this project, you can read more about it in this post. Or to see the full image gallery visit 2014 PROJECT. Please share with anyone who you feel can relate to the imagery, my hope is that it gives many others a visual for something they are going through in their own lives.

None who Wander are Lost

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here… I’ve all but retired this blog, but I just happened to pop on over today. As I read my most recent post – way back in March of this year – I couldn’t help but reflect on how much as changed since then. Man, March feels as though it was years ago. I’ve spent the past year and a half pretty much lost since my fiancé died. Understandably so I guess. How could you NOT be lost after losing the most important person in your daily life and future? I’ve done the only thing I knew to do… create. A LOT. Art and writing and exposing myself to the art of others has all but consumed my days and filled them with some deep meaning in the midst of brutal pain. Creativity and the support of the people in my life are the two things that have kept me going. But there’s always been this voice nagging me, I’ve got to begin to move forward. I left my career after all, with NO plan really, so at some point I’ve got to have a new direction and begin to support myself again. I can’t very well live off the support of my family forever. And in the past few weeks, something has begun to click. I see a direction for the first time since he died. And really, I see a direction for the first time in my life that feels like what I was put here to do. With that, I’ve started to have a little hindsight that I figured I would share here.

Be careful about listening to that voice that tells you that you that something is wrong because you haven’t found THE thing you should be doing with your life. If you’re one of those people, then you may just be in a place like I’ve been…. lost. But lost really isn’t a bad place – its an absolutely necessary place. In your search, you have to try on a lot of different shoes and hats and gloves to begin to find something that works. Some find it quicker than others. Some always know it, but a lot of us have to spent years coming back to it. I’ve tried dozens of creative avenues in the past 16 months (and even more before that). Jewelry making, painting, encaustic or wax painting… I took another welding class and of course I’ve continued with my two greatest loves – photography and writing. I’ve done some art shows and considered being a writer and what kind of writer I would be if I were one. And the problem? I seriously love and enjoy ALL of these things but have NO motivation to make any of them my career. Well crap.

What I’m learning now is that there was a reason for this inability to commit. It’s not because I’m lazy. It’s not because I’m not trying hard enough or because something is inherently wrong with me (despite countless times I have convinced myself of all three of those). In fact, just the opposite… as it turns out, I was actually listening to my intuition all along. When it told me that wasn’t the path for me by cutting off my motivation for something, I listened and went to the next thing that excited me instead of trying to force something. After 16 months of following the winding, twisted path that intuition has led me on, I’m beginning to see that this is how we get there. It is never a straight road is it? It’s always a winding path through the forest.

By trying my best to trust my intuition, and taking action to step into whatever excites me, slowly and very quietly, a new direction has emerged. What I really want to be doing – and what I believe and can see that I am meant to be doing – is helping others to express their pain through art. By creating a safe and inspiring environment and guiding them through certain activities that have helped me to get grounded into my own emotions, I can help them to go to a place deep in themselves and use creativity to explore it. And to my surprise, I will indeed be using all of the many myriad of art forms that I have experimented with this past year. ALL of the things I love will come together into one cohesive direction over time, or at least a very good amount of it. I’ve only just begun, so I still don’t know where the rest of this winding path will go, but the fog has cleared a bit and given me room to see.

It’s nearly impossible to see how such things will fit together when we are in the middle of it. Especially if we are juggling grief, trauma, or even just the everyday stresses of life. But that’s the great thing about intuition – its not down there in the thick of it with you. Our intuition, I like to believe, is somewhere above us, able to see our life and our path from a higher vantage point. Eventually, if we listen to it long enough, we get to higher ground ourselves and can begin to see what was going on. We can see that every single twist and turn was an important piece of the way forward. It takes a huge amount of faith though, to continue to wander without knowing your exact course or direction. It takes an incredible amount of trust that forces outside of yourself can and do help you on your journey. It takes letting go, and then letting go again, and then letting go even more. 

I guess that’s why I’m writing this, to say to someone else out there to keep having faith. Keep trusting and keep moving in the directions that excite you, heal you, and fill you with wonder. Even if the fog is so thick you can’t see… remember that your intuition is above all that and it is there to help you if you will let it. Just follow the sound of  it ten more feet. And then listen again, and follow the next sound it gives you (even if it takes you back the direction you just came). It will still feel like you are going in a million directions, but your intuition will know all along exactly where to lead you. Trust that it can see the bigger picture and just listen. 

 

 

 

December Blog Challenge! Beginnings & Endings

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Since we are fast approaching the end of the year, I thought it fitting for this month’s theme to be on the subject of Beginnings and Endings. Where they take us, the excitement of them, relief of them, or fear of them. How they are related I have had some extremely significant beginnings and endings in 2012 – the most significant of my life to date. I plan on exploring this

Art credit: Lucien N.

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