In the well-loved, popular 1998 movie depicting the beginning of the email revolution, actor Tom Hanks says to Meg Ryan, “You’ve got mail….Those are very powerful words!” Since then, life in the 21st century has exploded with social media and networking. There is a seemingly never-ending array of information, sounds and images from smart phones, television and computers. Yet, the words and visions that come from within the soul of each person may be even more powerful. It is time to remind each other: “You’ve got Soul Mail!”
So what exactly is Soul Mail and how do people get in touch with it? Soul Mail is the visual and verbal message of beauty, wisdom and truth that comes from within each person. This message from our soul has thought-centered words and intuitive, feeling-centered visual images. It comes to us most readily while in a peaceful, meditative state of mind. While in this stillness, visualized images appear within the mind’s eye and words from the inner voice are heard.
Communicating with our soul in this manner begins with:
Setting a heartfelt intention or posing a question.
Then a state of stillness and peacefulness needs to be created through conscious deep breathing with eyes closed. Guided meditation with music and nature sounds allows a quieting of the mind.
In this meditative state, inspiration and guidance from within is received in the form of visualized images within the mind’s eye.
Then art materials, such as watercolor crayons, are used to create the image. This is a fun, relaxed process and there is no need to be an experienced meditator or artist.
Once the visualized image is created, attention is focused intently on viewing the created art.
Then words from the inner soul voice are allowed to spontaneously be heard and written down.
The image and written words form the completed SOUL MAIL message. For example, below is a Soul Mail response to the question: “How will people know that the voice they hear is from the Divine within them?”
So in the hustle and bustle of modern-day life, let us remind ourselves of the importance of turning inwardly to find the answers to life’s sometimes challenging questions. By connecting with the wisdom from our Soul Mail, each of us can find guidance from the powerful words and visions within ourselves.
The Story of Creating Soul Mail
This is the story of how I discovered the guidance and inspiration that comes from my soul. I call it Soul Mail. It has evolved over the years since my experience with breast and kidney cancer. Soul Mail is a creative spiritual process of meditating, visualizing, art making, and poetic writing.
My story begins as a child, loving to be creative and exploring nature through the arts and creative play. I painted, drew, made crafts, played the piano, danced, and wrote poetry. I built castles in the sand box, waded in the creek, hiked in the woods and made tree houses. After high school I studied visual arts and earned my bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. I loved walking the beautiful campus, exploring nature, painting the rolling hills, and digging clay from the ground to make ceramic pots.
While at college, my Grandmother Ella, also an artist, moved to Naples, Florida. She died with dementia at a great distance from me. I expressed my grief and love for her through a series of paintings entitled Ella’s Freedom. I painted a transformation of the comb she wore in her hair into a beautiful bird. It is a metaphor for her transformation from life to death and into eternal life. It was my way of healing from seeing a disease that seemed to take her personality and life from her. This was my first experience using art as a part of a healing process. It helped me to bring beauty and harmony to a challenging life experience.
Upon graduating from college, I searched to find a meaningful way of using my art. After reading her book, I met Joni Eareckson Tada, a woman who learned to be an artist despite experiencing quadriplegia from a spinal cord injury. Her occupational therapist showed her how to use a mouth stick to paint and draw. She became an accomplished healing artist. Joni inspired me to return to graduate school and earn a master’s degree in occupational therapy from Western Michigan University.
A few years after college I married a wonderful soul, Tony Martin and we raised two beautiful children, Sean and Tiffany. As a working mother, I grew and nourished two gardens of creativity: one being our home and another the health care clinics in which I worked as an occupational therapist. Nurturing the creativity of my family and the people who I was assisting to heal, became my way of living out my purpose. I also taught university students to use their creativity to be effective and caring health professionals.
Over the years I experienced physical challenges within my body. They included: breach positioning of our children, graves disease, breast and kidney cancer, and a category II spinal misalignment that created pain and imbalance over my entire body.
These physical challenges brought a message to reconnect with my true life purpose. I needed to see myself holistically, and unite my body, mind and spirit. Each time I was faced with a health challenge I tried to respond positively, seek alternatives and use the least invasive measures.
The most dramatic illness occurred in the new millennium when I moved with my family to Southwest Florida with excitement and hope. Coming to Florida brought me pleasant memories of times with my grandmother. Little did I know that it would lead me further down the path toward my purpose as a healing artist. After being in Florida for eight months, I found myself confronted by a life threatening illness….breast cancer. It was difficult having to face surgery, but I did not have the support of other healers or healing methods at the time. The night after my surgery to remove the tumor, I heard a voice in a dream clearly say “Press every good out of evil.”
At this time I met a wonderful healing artist, Dr. Wilma Bulkin-Siegel, a painter and retired physician. Through her healing abilities as a physician-artist, Wilma gave me hope as a healing artist. She gave me the gift of painting my portrait. I discovered that to be more connected with my life purpose, I first needed to be able to provide creative healing for myself.
The illness gave me an opportunity to use my creativity in healing. I started this process by doing a healing painting. Each time I laid alone in the radiation chamber, I closed my eyes and envisioned the radiation as a healing light. I created a small painting of the image seen during each treatment session. On the opposite side of each one, I painted a series of meaningful objects and important people in my life. These smaller paintings were woven together into one two-sided painting entitled Transforming Cancer: Press Every Good out of Evil.
The cancer that had been inside of me symbolized the cancer of discrimination. We sometimes have difficulty valuing all individuals as people first. My painting became a metaphor for healing the cancer in the world and transforming it into something beautiful.
My vision became to provide people with the opportunities and tools to use their own creativity to create beauty, harmony, and healing of their mind, body and spirit. I was given an opportunity at the Renaissance Academy of Florida Gulf Coast University to teach a course I designed called Connecting Creativity to Healthy Living. The positive response of the students inspired me to establish my own business in October of 2001 called The Academy of Creative Healing Arts.
Following surgery and radiation for breast cancer, I began to connect more with nature through meditation walks near my home. I learned the importance of my connection with natural beauty and the spirits of animals. I started to paint the animals that came to me on meditation walks. Each one brought me a message. The butterfly spirit was one of the first to visit me. Its message is one of transformation, balance, grace and the dance of joy. The paintings of the animals and their messages are used to create animal spirit stationary cards. I use these cards to encourage and inspire others going through challenges.
About a year later, I discovered the book Visual Journaling: Going Deeper than Words written by Barbara Ganim and Susan Fox. Through their work, I learned how to use visualization during meditation. I also learned to create art from what I was visualizing in my mind’s eye and to interpret it. This allowed me a way to process emotional and physical pain that I was experiencing. For example, I asked myself: ‘How can I respond to the negativity from others in my life?’ During meditation, I visualized the image below and interpreted it as follows:
As time progressed, I began to combine my written journaling of daily thoughts and feelings, with visual images made during meditation. When I awoke in the morning, I scanned my body and wrote about how I was feeling physically and what parts of my body were getting my attention through pain. My experiences with animals on meditation walks were reflected upon. I processed and tried to learn from current life challenges, as well as, past challenges and history of illnesses. Then I would pose questions, and answer them through meditation and interpretation of the art images made from visualization. I began to ask ‘What does our Creator want me to know or do?’
Then in July of 2003, just as I was proclaimed cancer free by my oncologist, a very large tumor was discovered in my right kidney. My level of pain and anxiety jumped to a new level. I needed much more healing than I realized. I began to understand that I was being transformed by the grace of our Creator. My kidney had grown to the size of a grapefruit and was surgically removed. However, I was in need of a deeper healing, one that would uncover the root causes of illnesses and assist me to heal as a whole person. I was led to explore more holistic forms of healing.
Through the healing process I began to realize that I needed to stay connected with our Divine Creator and my life purpose. This required bringing more peace to my mind, body and spirit, creating more fun in my life, and blossoming into my true self. Creating Soul Mail was a form of healing that helped me tremendously in bringing this all together.
I reflected on my experiences as an occupational therapist, teacher and artist over the years. I remembered how important it was to help people connect with meaningful activities in their lives and to respect and value them as a whole person. In my work I aimed to form partnerships with people. When we shared our true selves and learned from each other, these were the most fulfilling partnerships.
As I more fully understood my purpose, I was able to live it out in my experience with the healthcare professionals who had been working with me to heal kidney cancer. What made the process so challenging was often being confronted with healthcare worker who did not seem to enjoy what they were doing. They seemed disconnected from their purpose and from the people they were supposed to be serving. Some were cold and detached and only saw the physical body and problem confronting them. They did not see who I truly was — a whole person with a body, mind and spirit.
I was struck by the contrast in the care of my car. The staff at the automotive shop always addressed me by my name with a cheerful attitude. The waiting room was simple and worn. The shop was of course greasy, but there was a feeling of warmth and pride there. They seemed to enjoy their work. Although removing a carburetor was impersonal compared to removing a kidney, they took the time to explain the process in a positive manner. They encouraged preventative maintenance whenever possible and even sent me reminders in the mail. While my car was being fixed, the owner would sometimes sit and chat with me about life. He knew more about me than my doctor did. It felt more like a partnership.
The physical, mental and spiritual challenges I experienced taught me that there is great healing potential within each of us. These experiences led me to new dreams of teaching and coaching people in developing their own unique gifts and ability to be healthy, fulfilled and whole. We all have some form of creativity through which we can fulfill our purpose and express our true self.
As I learned more about true healing, my journaling process also transformed. When writing in my journal, I began to shift my focus onto the presence of beauty around me. I recognized everything that was well with me and was grateful. I realized that the creating process was actually a two-way communication with our Divine Creator. Instead of interpreting the visual images that I was creating, I learned to see them as gifts from the Divine. I simply allowed the images to speak to me, and received the beautiful, poetic words as messages from the Divine voice within me. I was inspired to call them Soul Mail.
Creating and sharing Soul Mail has become a creative spiritual process that is an integral part of my well-being. It is the flame inside of me meant to inspire people to access their own inner guidance. I have come to understand that growing and healing calls for a deep partnership with our Divine Creator. Creative healing power is within us to transform challenges into beauty.
My dream is to teach others how to create their own Soul Mail and be the healers and growers of their own life. Soul Mail taps into the very best within each of us which is LOVE: Letting Our Vision and Voice Expand. It is a process that is still growing, blossoming and unfolding.
The Soul Mail messages on this site were selected from hundreds created as part of my healing and growing process over the years. Each Soul Mail includes an art image that was visualized during meditation and created using watercolor crayons. Next to each image are the beautiful words heard from the Divine soul voice within me.
The Soul Mail messages are laminated into cards adorned with satin ribbons, hand-strung with glass beads and charms. As they are shared, people intuitively select one that inspires them. May they bring you encouragement and healing and inspire you to create your very own Soul Mail.
Remember that you are your greatest work of art!
“In order to heal themselves, people must recognize, first, that they have an inner guidance deep within, and, second, that they trust it.” ~Shakti Gawain