Welcome to my Blog
As we behold, we actively transform the image.
We are unfinished works of art. Each choice that we make, each hard decision, orients our becomingness. The words we use to tell our stories and the images that we draw upon to illustrate our lifeworlds are future forming. Opening the door to new generations is also part of the becoming process. Living is a relational project. We are attracted to new relationships and opportunities for collaborating, finding more desirable ways to be together.
Autoethnography is part of an integrated conflict resolution continuum. My book has been an invitation to all my relations to meet me in this dialogical space so that we can explore how to go on together, working through the past so that we can pass on a hopeful future.
As we transform relational patterns, we open to new flyways that are revealed as we fly into the horizon with the hope each sunrise brings.
Autoethnography is a form of narrative conflict resolution that offers a dialogical space for intrapersonal conflict resolution. Mediatorship is a vessel of transportation that contains multiple levels of methods and practices spanning from the individual to the glocal. Mediatorship is also the connectivity that we experience while writing, connecting to living wisdom that guides and sustains us on our journey home. When we home in to our hearts, the Way is revealed. And our life-o-grams become transformagrams.
With bright strokes of color we fill in the outlines of our Selves, sometimes painting over the initial lines. We use the life forms that nature has provided to inspire our portraits. The colors of each season as well as the different shades of diverse landscapes and waterbeds, all provide a palette to paint our lifescape. Here we map the self-world and the story strands in our narratives, asking “What makes a better storyline?”.
Depth psychology and liberation psychology that Mary Watkins refers to as psychosocial accompaniment provides an understanding of how we can walk alongside each other in a form of mutual liberation. The Taos Institute provides a series of podcasts that explains social constructionist approaches. And Sarah Cobb develops narrative conflict resolution that is part of the mediatorship continuum. I have included resources that you can access for your own journey of becomingness.
There is an important question we can ask. “How can we bring the unfinished into our storytelling?”.
“Unfinishedness is a feature as generative to art and knowledge production as it is to living.”
Autoethnography allows individuals to transform their stories into works of art, reinforcing the emancipatory process. But what are the ethics framing the production of stories and how can we reinforce the aesthetic aspects of our story mandalas? How can we show up as works of art?
Here is my article about transformative pedagogies:
Here is a link to Unfinished: An anthropology of becoming
Here is a link to Mary Watkins website that has videos and interviews explaining her approach to psychosocial accompaniment: https://youtu.be/Onyngjgw4lA
Here is a link to the Taos Institute podcasts on social constructionism: https://www.taosinstitute.net/resources/podcasts
Here is Sarah Cobb presenting her book-Speaking of Violence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKRTsKL-29I
Rabbi and scholar Abraham Joshua Heschel teaches about radical amazement by pointing to the ineffable. His life models not just beholding the mystery, but the call to repair and transform the world. He believed that “something is asked from us”. He also said, “some are guilty, but all are responsible”. His lifework testified to the importance of being partners with God. This partnership was central as was his belief that religious diversity is God’s will.
As pilgrims, we can discover humanity’s heritage that takes us beyond our individual stories and life histories, to embrace our world heritage. Heschel’s legacy reminds us of the dimension of wonder-the dream of a world redeemed.
When my sister Cathy and I converged in a reunion with our birth family before our maternal grandmother died of cancer, I experienced the “ineffable”. Our reunion story has allowed me to cultivate radical amazement elicited by the mystery surrounding our homecoming.
This radical amazement is the catalyst for sharing my story with the world. I hope that my readership will be touched by our family’s reunion story in a way that will reinforce their own ability to see the ineffable more clearly in their lives. It is through wonder and radical amazement that we can find our unique way to partner with God, upholding the covenant between God and humanity. This partnership opens toward a way of wonder filled with gratitude and a sense to serve. In his last interview he says that life is a celebration and that one should live life as if it was a work of art.
Here is a link to Heschel’s last television interview:
Here is an article about Heschel’s “depth theology”.
Here is a link to a recent film about Heschel’s lifework.
When I reconnected with the case worker that accompanied me during my search process, she shared a story with me about my father David, who called her to tell her that he supported my choice to search for my birth mother as well as sharing how much he loved me. That important story was like a “message in a bottle” that found me years after my father’s death.
The Nebraska Children’s Home Society has supported my process from being a foster child to searching for my birth parents, supporting me throughout the entire unfolding process. Here is a link to their website: https://nchs.org
The book Synchronicity and Reunion presents case studies that develop the theory of a homing in mechanism that guides children and parents separated at birth.
I have many wonderful memories of being with my father. However, this picture of us in Wyoming, hiking Medicine Bow Peak, stands out. He initiated me by taking me “into the wild” with a backpack and good hiking boots when I was 14 years old. Cathy Hansen and learned about camping, making fires, fishing and cooking our catch, as well as how to endure long hours hiking in the high altitudes on pathways through the Rocky Mountains.
Those lessons shaped who I have become and even who my children are today. Cathy’s children all love to hike and ski too. Our fathers taught us to love the great outdoors as they did. They encouraged us to be strong, independent girls. They also believed in us and were convinced that we could carry all we needed on our backs as young teenagers. Those lessons have been invaluable. I am forever grateful for the nurturing, education, and love that I received from my father David Wilson Mossman.
Dialogical space invites healing conversations as well as new relational flyways. “Narrative truth” is an evolving narrative matter. As we transition from life-o-grams to transformagrams, we find new pathways and flyways. As we are storied beings, our stories constitute us. As we grow older, we can creatively choose to develop happy endings, writing enriching chapters in our Book of Life. It all depends on how we decide to write our story mandala, interweaving golden threads and pearls of wisdom or silencing the inner voice that calls to be heard, providing impetuous for the creative process.
As autoethnographic practice evolves into spiritual journey, we give more importance to those storylines that need our attention, touching on the themes that resonate strongly within our heartminds, connecting to our heartfelt stories that often reveal vulnerabilities.
Just as Kandinsky asks, “What is spiritual in art?”, we can ask, “What is a better storyline?”
Engaging in healing conversations is a way to work through our life sentences, allowing dialogic space to emerge, as well as offering more desirable ways of going on together. While walking through our life hi-stories we can participate in the meaning-making process, enfolding kernels of wisdom in between the lines as we write to transform our relations.
Much like when we watch the alpenglow on the mountain peaks, glowing with the last colors of a day well lived, a life well lived, we can contemplate the generative force of narrative and just how it does matter. The burning fire in our hearts enkindles stories that bring us to completeness. Our deep longing for an ever-better storyline can be understood as a burning desire to find peace and sublimation; the power to transform life history into the art of storytelling.
The Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center offers a film depicting Pollock’s method, showing the floor where he painted. Here is the link that shows the artists’ work. I have also included pictures of my visit to their home in the East Hamptons: https://www.stonybrook.edu/pkhouse/
We beautify our story mandalas when we walk through the medicine wheel of life, transforming our perceptions and narratives. Dancing sacred dances like the grass dancers, we seek wholeness for ourselves, our communities and our planet Earth. We not only honor the four great directions, but the seasons. Each season brings forth a new landscape of meaning and an opportunity to move to a new rhythm, as well as the possibility of personal growth.
My family performs as snow dancers on our Alpine slopes in the Winter months in a different kind of dance on the mountainscape, gliding down the slopes with precision. In the summer months we hike alongside mountain flowers that offer colorful bouquets filled with medicinal properties.
On the medicine wheel of life, turned 50 and wrote a performance about Jungian psychology and the archetype of the adopted child searching for her origins. When I found my voice, I found my way. Voix (voice) and voie (way) sound the same in French, indicating a way forward, a pathway. We all search and need to find our place. Belonging is a central theme in my book. Developing my voice as a researcher and author has allowed me to find my place.
My quest has lead me to a “glovircal” way of living. Global, local, and virtual, connecting with students and my readership using new forms of technology that provide connectivity in a virtual space/place.
Here is a home video of my performance with my good friend Murray in La Tzoumaz at our chapel.
Here is the text that I read in both French and English. You can watch the video by clicking on the link:
Performance de Dialogues et Interludes Musicales
De la Synchronicité à la Serendipité, L’Art Sacré de la Co-Création et la Quête de Soi
A Performance of dialogue and musical interludes
From Synchronicity to Serendipity; The Sacred Art of Co-Creation and the Quest for Self
Introduction fait par Susie pour introduire Murray :
Murray est un chanteur et musicien d’origine canadienne et anglaise. Il compose et chante ses propres chansons ainsi que les interprétations d’autres artistes. Sa musique est nue, proche de son âme et profondément spirituelle. Sa performance est d’une grande simplicité et captivante, il y a juste sa voix et sa guitare.
Il est aussi producteur, écrivain, et collabore dans le projet « Closer to Earth », un projet de Dave Kilminster (premier guitariste dans la tournée de Roger Walters’ « The Wall tour». Murray fait des tournées à travers toute l’Europe en en solo et avec « Closer to Earth ». J’ai rencontré Murray sur mon chemin devant notre chalet, une vraie rencontre fortuite !
Introduction du « Livre Rouge » de C.G. Jung
Introduction de Susie Riva : docteure en sciences sociales, médiatrice (qui fait des liens), chercheuse (qui enquête), et mère de 5 enfants.
Murray va reprendre des chansons de Peter Gabriel. Il va aussi chanter ses propres compositions ; ses chansons originales. Sa première chanson est intitulée, « The Book of Love », elle est de Peter Gabriel. Nous sommes tous en train d’écrire notre Livre d’Amour, avec les symboles et récits de notre propre vie.
Introduction by Susie who will tell about Murray :
Murray Hockridge is an English-Canadian singer and musician who performs his own work, along with interpretations of songs from other artists.
Murray's sound is naked, soulful and deeply spiritual and the intimate simplicity of his performance with just acoustic guitar is truly captivating.
Also a producer, writer and collaborator in the 'Closer To Earth' project with Dave Kilminster (lead guitar on Roger Waters' 'The Wall' tour), Murray frequently tours Europe both solo and with Closer To Earth.''
Introduction explaining the Red Book by C.J. Jung
I am Dr. Susie Riva: I have a doctorate in the social sciences, I am a mediator who links, and a researcher who quests or “enquires” with never-ending questions, and I am the mother of five children.
Murray will sing Peter Gabriel songs mixing in his original songs. He will first sing, “The Book of Love”. The Red Book is a kind of Book of Love, we are all writing a Book of Love filled with stories and symbols depicting our life.
1st song : « The Book of Love », by Peter Gabriel
2nd song Murray va chanter « Who am I ?» « Qui suis-je ? » c’est une chanson originale, elle a pour sujet une question fondamentale, celle que tout le monde se pose en cherchant sa place.
3rd song Murray will sing, « Symbol », an original song accompanied by the castagnettes.
4th song Murray va chanter sa chanson original intitulé, « C-21 Love Song »
5th song Murray will sing, « Don’t Give Up » de Peter Gabriel
6th song Murray chante « Wall Flower » de Peter Gabriel, (Hold On)
7th song Murray sings « Halleluliah » de Cohen
8th song We sing together « You’ve Got a Friend » by Carole King
Engaging in autoethnographic practices activates transformational processes. My experience took me on a pathway from a life-o-gram to a transformagram. Beautifying the story mandala allowed Sophia or wisdom to flow through me, guiding me towards narrative concrescence. My life history has been transformed, but even more, I discovered transformational pedagogies that I now use in my teaching. Ira Progoff’s Intensive Journal Methods have offered a proven framework for incorporating journaling into coursework.
Liminal space can be understood as the in-between or entre nous. In this space we can create wiggle room, transitional space that can provide a matrix of relational potentialities. As we enter our journaling sanctuaries with the intention to find our way forward, we can activate the homing in mechanism. Writing to transform our relations brings us to new landscapes of meaning where we can trace new flyways of becomingness. In this liminal space, transformation is engendered. Questing enkindles the pilgrim’s intentions to move beyond Self in search of narrative truths.
Jim Harrison a famous American author wrote two adoption stories taking place in Nebraska- Dalva and The Road Home. He describes not only the beauty of the landscapes and wildlife but tells intergenerational stories of families who have lived on the Great Plains of Western Nebraska.
Just as the natural environment shapes lifeforms, words are meaning containers that allow us to recollect and transform our narrative truths. Dr. Emoto’s photographs of water crystals show us how words shape water crystals. As our bodies are around 70% water, we can only imagine how words and music fashion and configure our bodily forms.
We are all experiencing an acceleration in connectivity. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote about the Noosphere that is an emerging form of planetary consciousness. Here is an article that allows us to better understand this period of great acceleration that we are experiencing as the paradigms of Anthropocene and Noosphere play out in yet another liminal space, acting upon our planetary becomingness.
From Anthropocene to Noosphere: The Great Acceleration
Dr. Emoto’s Water Crystals that show how words and music influence form:
Here is a PBS news presentation of American author Jim Harrison who wrote Dalva, an adoption story in Nebraska:
Here is an article about the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola that presents transformational processes including Progoff’s Intensive Journal Methods:
Future forming methods invite us to shape our becomingness. They include engaging in a culture of care, caring for our families, as well as the Earth and all of Creation. Future forming involves choosing our actions carefully, understanding that our choices and actions will configure our life trajectories and those of future generations. The Native American tradition refers to our actions affecting seven generations.
Epigenetics refers to how our environment and perceptions influence our genetic expression. Important influences that influence the unfolding of life include our families and caregiving practices, our political systems and the equal or unequal distribution of wealth and resources, as well as our energy consumption and environmental footprint.
While searching for explanatory models and unifying theories that might explain the genetic connection of adoptees and birth parents, I discovered the importance of synchronicity. The interconnectedness that I have found has taught me to recognize patterns and distinguish schemas of interrelatedness. While searching for my birth family I was guided by synchronicities that allowed me to ultimately home in. Activating the homing in compass is essential for us as a species, so that we can home in to a bright and hopeful future.
As we are storied beings, Thomas Berry invites us to rediscover the Dream of the Earth, while actively writing New Stories that have the potential of transforming Earth-human relationships. Through the storying process we can transform not just how we relate and care for each other in our families, in new forms of kinship, but also how we relate with and care for the Earth. Reflecting on our human kinship and planetary Earthship can transport us to new ways of living in/on Earthship. Celebrating all life on Earth is part of the process.
With the arrival of our second grandchild, Liana, on July 8, 2021, I was again presented with the wonderful unfolding of life within my own family lineage. While my daughter Katrina was at the hospital, Angelo and I took our grandson, Nevin, to the Marécottes Zoo in Valais to see the lynx, bears, deer, boars, fox, and wolves. What do you see when you look at the face of the Earth?
“Our relationship with the earth involves something more than pragmatic use, academic understanding, or aesthetic appreciation. A truly human intimacy with the earth and with the entire natural world is needed. Our children should be properly introduced to the world in which they live.” (Thomas Berry, “Human Presence,” in The Dream of the Earth, 13).
A link to the Marécottes Zoo: https://www.valleedutrient.ch/fr/zoo-piscine-marecottes
A link to an interview with medical anthropologist Margaret Locke:
Here is a link to a conference about Thomas Berry’s work at Georgetown University:
Here is the link to Laudato Si’:
Down the file HERE
When we first enter the world, our families embrace us, cradling us in their arms. My autoethnographic work describes kinship from the vantage point of an adopted child. This reflection guided me to an understanding of a relational approach to living on Earthship. Through the resolution process, writing to transform my relations, my perceptions evolved as my metamorphosis enfolded. And as my perceptions were transformed through the walkthrough, on the “medicine wheel of life”, I was able to behold a transformed image of Earthship. I saw how the Earth is a sacred container, holding us together.
Our Alpine chalet holds together our family in a “holding environment” that allows us to live a lifestyle that values the international relations we have cultivated while living in a ski tribe on the mountain. We ski, hike, make good family meals, play the piano, and enjoy the comfort of our home. In the summer we decorate the balconies with geranium pots and hanging baskets. Our home is filled with special objects and books from our relatives that remind us of our family lineage. Our chalet has provided us with a beautiful lifeplace where Angelo and I have raised our children.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit Priest and scientist wrote about the Noosphere. His vision of the evolutionary process described an awakening of planetary mind. The growing level of awareness that we are experiencing individually as well as the increased connectivity that we are developing globally, can be understood through the concept of the Noosphere.
As we move towards more “glovircal” ways of living-global and local or “glocal”, connected by virtual interconnectedness, we must find ways to develop the vitality of our lifeplace. Our relationships shape us in numerous ways. As we increase our connectivity on a global scale, we become more aware of our oneness. Dr. Lazlo refers to this historical period as the Akashic Age, an emerging new paradigm that underscores our interconnectedness. We can use this period of global crisis as a catalyst to activate driving forces as we engage in the conflict resolution process.
Storying is a way to connect and reinforce our relationships. Earth-human relationships are fundamental for our survival as we are facing Anthropocene or the 6th phase of extinction. Our ability to consciously guide and shape our relatedness will allow us to home in to a bright future, living in/on Earthship. As we connect to our inner compass, we can steer Earthship towards a flourishing future. Hear the call to activate the homing in mechanism as we lift ourselves and our planet up to experience ever more coherent ways of flourishing on Earth.
The Human Energy website offers information about the Noosphere and a film series that reinforces our shared evolutionary process and experience of emergence. Come sit around the camp fire and listen to this Third Story.
Human Energy website:
Stewardship is a fundamental concept, referring to how we are stewards of what we have been given. Stewards must take care of their land and organizations. Stewardship also evokes the responsibility that we have to pass on all that was ours during our lifetime to the next generation. Intergenerational responsibility is at the core of stewardship. We must take good care of all we have been bequeathed. In Switzerland there is a way to manage the land referred to as the commons. The pastures, mountain glaciers and water sources, ski slopes and pastures are all part of the commons that are managed by the “bourgeoisie”.
My husband Angelo’s grandparents, Catherine and Emile, were stewards of the land, the pastures and their herds. Catherine was the village midwife and cared for all the women in Isérables when they gave birth. She also cared for her large family of 12 children.
This unique Alpine culture is our inheritance. Not far away is the Great Saint Bernard Pass and Hospice that cared for the travelers walking over the pass, a historic metaphor for hospitality. The traditions of our region provide interesting examples of stewardship and caring for the commons.
Living in harmony with our bioregions entails tending to the gardens, the pastures, the herds, as well as the wellbeing of families and communities. The quality of the land gives rise to our ability to flourish. Even the microbes in the land influence our health and wellbeing. These connections are increasingly understood in biology and medicine. “Old Friends” or microbes allow us to keep our internal balance, influencing our immunoregulation.
Women in the village of Isérables wore a traditional costume until the 1980’s when the mountain villages became more accessible. However, some women still choose to wear their costumes. Women is Switzerland only got the right to vote in the 1971, however women in the Upper-Valais were an important example of progressive women’s suffrage in 1957. Today, women continue to seek more fulfilling and egalitarian ways to participate in society, holding up their half of the sky.
Isis, the Egyptian Goddess stood for motherhood. In my name Susie Riva, you can play with the letters, rearranging them to read Isis Rises. My name resonates with the rising feminine energies that are so needed in today’s world. Let us rise together, co-constructing a Culture of Care for our Common Home.
Here is an article about our “Old Friends”:
Here is an article about the commons:
Here is an article about Alpine Wellness:
Here is a link to an article about the Valais:
The Egyptian traditions speaks of the weighing of the heart, suggesting that the heart must be as light as a feather to pass into the afterworld. Going to the Egyptian museum in Torino and the British Museum in London to see the Egyptian collection allowed me to ponder the meaning associated with the scarab.
Scarabs also represent synchronicity in Jungian psychoanalysis. These sacred beetles can be found in museums and on our walking paths. Recognizing the signs and deciphering the synchronicities is part of the meaning-making process.
The sacred heart is also an important Christian metaphor. Jesus points to the sacred heart in many paintings in statues. Heartways open up to us through transformative practices, forgiveness, and grace. Making peace with the past allows us to walk forward in a more lighthearted way.
Peacemaking involves engaging on multiple levels. However, peacefulness can be found in mediation, and other practices like prayer and mindfulness that we can incorporate into our daily routines. Making peace with all our relations is a lifelong endeavor and a daily practice.
Our family histories can be transformed when we engage in autoethnographic practices that bring us to a form of narrative coherency. Dr. Daniel Speigel uses the term mindsight to describe this interconnected vision. The mind-body in an interconnected system influenced by the field of the heart. Writing and praying can facilitate the transformative process.
Mediators also contribute to world peace initiatives. And Thomas Berry writes about yet another form of peace, the “Peace of Earth”, that is dependent upon human decision in this era of Anthropocene. Berry wrote about a cosmology of peace in the Dream of the Earth. The “Peace of Earth” arises from hopefulness. He suggests that we can find guidance in the dream of the earth for the task that is before us. My experience suggests that we have the innate capacity to home in to our hearts, and connecting to our inner compass, to find our way into the future.
Integrated relationships lead to resilience and wellness. Social engagement fosters our wellbeing. Working on our inner state of being can contribute to fostering strength in the face of adversity. We can create a culture of presence, by attuning to our inner compass, and resonating in a world of trust where we give our best effort while facing planetary challenges. Kindness and compassion can light up the world, opening relational heartways.
Here is a lecture from Dr. Seigel that explains the importance of brain integration:
Here is a picture of a scarab in the British Museum:
Here are pictures of a beetle on a path near our chalet:
In chapter 37, I explain how I met Rusty Schweickert in Boulder when I was a young college student attending a conference at the University of Colorado. The picture of Earthrise as well as his personal experience, witnessing the beauty of Earth from space, created a paradigm shift for the entire human race. The awe that he felt brought forth fundamental questions he had about the meaning of life on Earth.
In an interview, he explains that we are at the point of what he calls “cosmic birth” referring to a concept about Earth’s birthing process, using the metaphorical comparison of human birthing processes. His explanations allow us to understand where we are in the cosmic birthing process.
Epigenetics ushers in yet another major paradigm shift. We are the Keepers of Earth, Keepers of Life and our Genome. We are also Shepherds of our planet’s biodiversity. Hidden within the symbol of the Shepherd may be an archetypical enigma about how to care for life on Earth. How can we expand our circle of caring to include all the creatures and the Creation? Schweikert’s telling the story of space exploration brings us to a new level of coherency, offering a vision and explanation of the unfolding trajectory of wordlings.
Link to a Newsweek interview with astronaut Rusty Schweickert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3vHNl6NMdw
Listen to Rusty Schweickert explain his vision of Cosmic Birth: https://apollospace.com/rusty-schweickart-apollo-9-beyond-film/
Moral Imagination’s definition in Britannica is as follows:
Moral imagination, in ethics, the presumed mental capacity to create or use ideas, images, and metaphors not derived from moral principles or immediate observation to discern moral truths or to develop moral responses. Some defenders of the idea also argue that ethical concepts, because they are embedded in history, narrative, and circumstance, are best apprehended through metaphorical or literary frameworks.
Autoethnography creates the capacity to imagine more just lifeworlds through narrative inquiry. Poetic representations also contribute to forming ideas about what is good and just, right or wrong, in our lifeworlds. When living in an Alpine winter mountainscape, I ski on of fields of snow crystals that reverberate lifegiving energy to my family of snow dancers. Rumi, the Sufi poet, invites us to meet in a field beyond judgements of right and wrong. In this field of transcendence, we get a glimpse of our personal representations of the good life by connecting to our moral imagination.
Living in the Alps, highlanders have a different perspective than those living in the valley. We develop different world views that arise from our cultural landscapes. From the top of the mountain, I ask, “What lifts you?”. This chapter moves the story line towards what Kenneth Gergen refers to as “narrative slope”.
Climbing to the top of one side of the mountain, leaving the past behind, I ski down the other mountainside towards a vision of a bright future. On this side of the slope, using my ability to perceive through the lens of moral imagination, I envision enriching relationships that bring forth more just societies. I invite you to come ski down this narrative slope with me. Here, we leave behind the snow fields on high, walking through blooming orchards that hold the promise of ripening summer apricots, plums, pears, and apples.
Relational research also contributes to moral imagination by co-constructing ways to improve the human condition with research design. This relational approach to problem-solving gives value to transformational processes. Here is a video with Ken Gergen and Sheila McNamee, Taos Institute founders, talking about relational research. I did my PhD. with the Taos Institute, benefiting from the knowledgeability of these pioneering social constructionists. Autoethnography is an important method that they discuss in their conversation.
Ken Gergen and Sheila McNamee: Invitation to Conversations About Constructionist Practices in Research
Here is the book Moral Imagination, The Art and Soul of Building Peace, by John Paul Lederarch that explores conflict resolution using ethnographic approaches.
Here is a picture taken in our orchard in Isérables.
Here is a picture of my son Nils, skiing up the mountain.
Martin Buber’s “I and Thou” relationship, the Seven Arrows Medicine Wheel, as well of the saint’s lives are connected by their ability to bring us to higher levels of perception. We experience a form of relational transformation as we are lifted by sacred practices to see the interconnected nature of life and the divine working within all relationships. Spiritual traditions use different languages and representations. Religion can be understood as what we “rely” on, or what we are dependent upon and have confidence in.
Encountering the divine can happen as we journey through life. There is the inner and the outer journey. We can encounter great thinkers through their writings, and we can encounter sacred places through pilgrimages. There are different ways to gain higher knowledge that often transforms our perceptions. When we are lifted, we can see the sacredness of life.
The pain experienced by orphaned and adopted children is understood as the primal wound. It is a wounding that happens when babies are separated at birth from their mothers. The term “innocents” is used in reference to the Biblical story of the innocent babes that were killed by Herod. When I journeyed to Florence, Italy, I went to visit the first orphanage that was built in the 1400’s, known as The Hospital of the Innocents. Connecting with this historical site that received and cared for abandoned children brought me to a sacred place. As I prayed and gave thanks for all those who have cared for the innocents, I became even more consciously aware of the pain of mothers and children who have suffered the consequences of being separated at birth.
This inner and outer journey provided an encounter with higher knowledge through the historical understanding of the evolution of caring for abandoned children as well as the spiritual experience of connecting with these life histories. Through the ages, children like me, and my sister Cathy, have been cared for when the circumstances of our births didn’t allow us to remain in our families. Visiting the museum and attending the mass held there, allowed me to sublimate my personal experience through journeymanship, connecting even more deeply with the story of the innocents.
Here is the link to the museum:
Here is a documentary film that tells the story of the innocents.
The Innocents of Florence: The quest to save 600,000 children
The Golden Pocket Watch that fell into my lap, brought a needed form of recognition at a threshold moment of my life. As I found the courage and strength to complete my doctorate, this timepiece arrived in a package with a letter that bequeathed the pocket watch to me. This capping moment has come to represent divine timing or synchronicity as well as the confirmation that my ancestors were “watching over me”.
The thought of “passing on the Golden Pocket Watch” has also made me consider what I value and what I want to pass on to my children. This idea of transmission is a central theme that thickens in my storyline. The watch-giving tradition passes forward love from ancestors to future generations, creating a line of inheritance.
Gnothi Seauton, “know thyself” is an invitation to Self-discovery so that we can ultimately recognize our own worthiness. It is also a pathway taking us to the heart of contemplation. As we decipher the enigmas engraved in the timepiece of our life, we experience wholeness. Once knowledge is gained, there is a need or growing desire to pass it on either through family lines of inheritance or fellowship and scholarship. My book has become a teaching story. My website is a way for me to share what I know with educational resources that can be accessed online. Adult online education engages life-long learners in journeyship.
Here is a picture of the Golden Pocket Watch, my transitional object:
Here is an article about the adult learning:
Here is the link to Harry Potter’s Golden Snitch that contains flesh memory: https://harrypotter.fandom.com/wiki/Flesh_Memory
The Showings were described by Julian of Norwich, the first woman known to have written in English. She writes of divine love and her personal experience of how God showed his face to her. In Chapter 33, I share my pilgrimage to Turin to visit the Holy Shroud with my daughter Jessica. I also tell of my visit to Bologna where I discovered a sculpture of Jesus made from the Holy Shroud.
Through these pilgrimages, I felt that I had encountered Jesus in an even more tangible way, standing before the Holy Shroud and then later discovering the existence of the sculpture. There is debate about the authenticity of the Holy Shroud, however I invite you to discover the Holy Shroud, as the question is answered in the eye and heart of the beholder. What do you see?
As I prepared this chapter’s message, I realized that this part of the story had fallen into chapter 33 without me previously noticing. Thirty-three is the age Jesus was when he was crucified and died. It is also the age I was when I found my birth parents. Again, I have been blessed with yet another showing.
Here are links to documentaries and articles that can take you to the Holy Shroud of Turin, and to Julian of Norwich’s showings of divine love.
The Man in the Shroud
The Shewings of Julian of Nowrwich
Julian of Norwich: Revelations of Divine Love
Explanatory models provide a framework to explain how our illnesses and conflicts are affecting our bodies and relationships. The body is the vase or sacred container filled with verses or narratives, expressing our life experiences. The interconnected nature of the mind-body can also be understood by looking at the concept of archetypes, symbolic representations fashioning our becomingness.
Questing for my origins led me to transformational practices. Along the journey, I not only found my birth family, but my intellectual family. My intellectual family and my books that have been faithful companions, provided the springboard for me to muster the energy to change my circumstances.
Embracing Viriditas, a concept from Saint Hildegard von Bignen, allowed me to perceive the generative energy forces that were present in my environment. And as the virtual reality expanded through the new technologies that were made available, I connected with these greening powers, weaving virtual relational templates. In these expanding spaces of becomingness, my mind-body, incorporated the virtual. My odyssey’s sails filled with divine guidance or mediatorship. As I ventured into new dimension of relating, my Self-transformation moved to platforms that ultimately allowed me to connect, relate, and belong in more fulfilling ways. Within my circle of relations, we became more wholehearted, rooted in the Earth, and the sky.
After attending a medical anthropology conference in the countryside near Bologna, I traveled by train to Florence. While visiting the Family Matters exhibit in Florence in 2014, I discovered artwork that portrayed the transformation of the concept of family. The exhibit brought together modern art and photography to represent these changes, underscoring the artistic expressions with social science perceptions that allowed visitors to contemplate these changes through discourses on family matters. Virtual links allow us to investigate the past and contemplate the present in ways that offer new lines of flight. Our conscious awareness is future-forming. Knowledgeability transforms intergenerational life trajectories.
Here is the link to the Family Matters Exhibit in Florence:
Here is a link to the Healthy Hildegard website:
Saint Hildegard von Bingen was a visionary, doctor of the church, and playwright. Here is a picture of her artwork:
Belonging: Designing My Medicine Shield
Part three introduces the third and final section of the book that begins with exploring the meaning-making process. This chapter is filled with symbolism. I describe my stained-glass window that was inspired by a Medicine Shield that I found in the Seven Arrows book, many years later realizing how much they resembled drawings from Jung’s Red Book.
I speak of running on my favorite footpath that like an old friend, I am forever happy to encounter. I also tell the story of being called to run higher to hear my calling on Poppy’s last day on Earth.
But most importantly the quintessence of this book is found in this chapter, explaining how this part of the book presents meaning-making methods and evidence to my own theory that “each of us are inhabited by a primal urge and capacity to home in”. Homing IN to the good life is an endeavor I share with you my dear readership. This is a call to arms, armoring ourselves with Self-Knowledge or gnothi seauton. Inspired by visions of potentiality, may we walk together like heroes on what Joseph Campbell describes as The Heroes Journey.
Here is a picture of Poppy, my dear grandfather, holding me in his arms.
Here is a link to The Greater Good Magazine website at the University of Berkeley, California:
Gnothi Seauton-Here is a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson as well as an explanation of the Greek tradition.
Belonging is a challenge for international citizens that have become world citizens or wordlings. There are different forms of bringing people into a community. There are various models including assimilation, integration, and inclusion. When we leave our hometown to study or for work, we move into new communities. Often there are barriers to belonging that we never considered before, lines of separation that we hadn’t previously noticed. Policies recognizing inclusive integration and give value to diversity foster belonging.
My way forward has been journeymanship or life-long learning. Understanding history, being able to analyze behavior that I believe is inappropriate, and finding solutions, are all part of my approach. But I have also had to find the courage to fight for what I believe in, refusing to accept assimilation while striving to demonstrate the values of inclusion.
As a double national, I am able to benefit from being both American and Swiss, but I must also adhere to the rules that govern both of my countries. There are advantages to having dual nationality, but there are also increasing challenges to being both.
I was attracted to Switzerland as a young girl. The beauty of the Alps as well as the book and film about Heidi, opened my heart to a different way of life in the mountains. Later, different Swiss scientists and adventurers inspired me. I have tried to pass on the good life to my children, choosing to model what I consider to be the best of both worlds.
Here is the website showing the Solar Impulse adventure that Bertrand Piccard embarked upon, inspiring us to sour above borders, towards a world of renewable energy. His innovations are piloting us into the future.
Solar Impulse link:
Here is a link to European policy on inclusive integration:
Our perceptions or how we “see” each other, and the world influence our becomingness both individually and collectively. There are hidden layers of meaning in all that surrounds us. Lifelong learning allows us to engage with the world in a more meaningful way. Each era builds on the artwork of the past. Science and art come together in our cosmologies, offering explanations for our lifeworld. I have included an article that shows how artwork from the Renaissance incorporates forms from the anatomy of the human brain. Hidden in the art forms are anatomical depictions of the brain. Here, the perception of the Godhead comes to life in sacred artwork.
Our lives too, are sacred artworks. We look to the heavens for guidance, in the hopes of discovering the best path forward. Our understanding of consciousness and our interpretations of the Divine are multi-layered and socially constructed. The Renaissance artists painted images of Transfiguration, emerging from Christian theology.
The patterns in our lives might be transgenerational patterns transmitted to us, however as we grow old, and become conscious of the patterns that constitute us, we can choose to weave new patterns into the fabric of our lives, weaving together the human and the divine. These multilayered patterns are forever transformed and transfigured. When we connect and reverberate the light of the stars that shine down upon us, we find guidance and inspiration. The heavenly stars even fill our lives with moments of epiphany, when a sense of deeper meaning is revealed to us, allowing us to find our way. Epiphanies can come in the form of insights as well as encounters. Transfigured patterns are woven with these golden threads that sparkle and shine, illuminating our soul’s deepest wishes.
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may,
I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.
David was a golden boy, who benefited from the incredible era that followed WWII and all the opportunities in the United States that were offered to men like my father. I was his first child. He offered me a wonderful upbringing. He took me on adventures like hiking in Medicine Bow Peak in Wyoming, a hike my birth parents had also done with their children. It seems my families had been walking on intersecting paths. But David had also made decisions that had caused great pain in our family circle. I spoke weekly with my grandfather Harland, to convince him of the importance of forgiveness.
When David died, I spoke at the funeral, offering my story about David, my father. When I looked out into the faces of those who had come to the funeral, I saw my birth parents, and my father Michael’s supportive smile as I honoured my father David. This moment appeared surreal.
Adopted children often fall “Far From The Tree”, the title of Andrew Solomon’s book. Parents like to see their reflections in their children’s faces. Adopted children cannot offer that possibility to the parents who raise them. I tried my best to be a Mossman, cultivating their ways, and passing on what I believed to be their values, a form of cultural inheritance. But I came to understand the importance of passing on the biological bloodline, and just how gratifying that can be when facing the reality of one’s mortality. This insight came to me as a young mother.
When my father passed on the golden pocket watch, a family heirloom, to my biological sister’s son, I became aware of my difference that I hadn’t perceived growing up. Though I had three boys, David’s choice to bequeath the pocket watch that had belonged to my grandfather, Harland, passed over my family line.
It took time and grace to heal what seemed to be a gesture that overlooked my family, accentuating the difference of being the adopted child. But I came to understand that the golden Cross pen that my father had given me, the pen that had survived a fire, was indeed a symbolic object that suggested my becomingness through authorship. I end this chapter writing, “And my inheritance is this amazing story.”
Here is a link to information about Solomon’s film:
Here is a link to an interview about Solomon’s book:
This chapter is at the core of my book. As I had gone through the reunion process, establishing life-long relationships with my birth family, expanding my relational matrix, my own family grew. Jessica was my 40th birthday present. She arrived when I was balancing my full-time job and raising our young children. The challenges of balancing work and family are central sociological questions that are eliciting transformational processes not just in individual families, but throughout the Western world.
Jessica, our 5th child’s name, means “God behold”. While expecting her, I fell to my knees under the pressures coming down upon me. But in that humble position, I found a grace that has accompanied me even more consciously ever since her arrival. Every Christmas season I am reminded of the words from the well-known Christmas song, “Fall on your knees and hear the Angels voices”. Receiving Jessica into our family forced us to reconfigure our relationships just as one carefully places the figurines in the nativity scene, making a special place for baby Jesus.
“Trying to fit in,” seemed to exemplify the feelings expressed in this chapter. I was the adopted child who learned to fit in to my adopted family, only to later need to go through the same process to “fit in” to my birth family. Adaptability seems to be a quality that is necessary during all phases that mark the process of adoption, the search, and reunion. Our reunion turned in to a long-term bonding process.
In this blog post, I have included articles about adoption and reunion to offer research perspectives for my readership. Kinship in the context of adoption and reunion requires a form of resilience that allows family members to overcome the difficulties of complex family relationships. Our family fist looked for likenesses to solidify our relationships in our birth family. But as time went on, we were able to respectfully embrace our differences too.
By sharing family experiences, we got to know each other and make memories that have ultimately linked us. Not only did Cathy and I become part of the Wylie family, but all our relations shifted to incorporate a new matrix of relationships that brought all our families together in a loving embrace. My book is yet another relational space to celebrate our coming together as we look back, reading our lives.
When my grandparents, Marnie and Poppy died, I said adieu by writing poems for their funerals. I was called to the top of the mountain to run on Poppy’s last day of life, watching the sunset on his life, I ran with a growing sense of purpose through his continual love and support. Poppy died when a friend from Tibet was staying with us. She had been in the Tibetan Parliament in Exile and gave me books signed by the Dali Lama. She was in Switzerland trying to raise funds for a school for handicapped children when my grandfather passed away.
Here is a link to her work: https://tibetanparliament.org/81761-2/
Walt Whitman’s poem written for President Lincoln, incorporates lilacs, the flowers in bloom at Lincoln’s burial, that have a heart shaped leaf. Marnie too died when the lilacs were blooming in the back of the farmhouse at Black Bird Bend Farm. Here is a link to Whitman’s famous poem:
Here is an analysis of this famous poem:
This chapter investigates the difficulties that surfaced when I found my birth family. Attending my sister Michelle’s wedding and meeting my sister Cathy, who had just reunited with our family exposed challenging dimensions that revealed dark archetypical forces existing within Swiss society. Though the patriarchal powers within the school system emerged to hinder me from reuniting with my family, I pushed forward. I was determined to be with my family at my sister’s wedding. As I organized my way home, I begun to realize my vulnerability as a foreign woman. Even though I had Swiss citizenship, I was treated as though my Swiss rights didn’t apply. But over the years my own matriarchal power has strengthened. Scholarship has allowed me to combat social injustice for myself and others.
I have included a full book by Franceska Falk on migration and social innovation that tells the stories of other migrant women in Switzerland. These women had the courage to initiate social change. I am also adding a link to Jung’s writings and concepts where you can delve into the concept of archetypes. These two resources offer my readership further avenues of investigation, looking into the themes of otherness, migration, and the archetype of the“outsider” or foreigner.
After we all came together, I started asking questions. I was convinced that family secrets were coming through as repeating family patterns. I was compelled to understand. I felt that it was time to unravel the family history that had been spun, weaving together story lines that covered up relationships that needed to be recognized.
Here is a book that addresses transgenerational psychology. Often, family patterns are transmitted in an unconscious manner. Their relation patterns often appear as synchronicities or serendipity that appear to stress the connections that beg to be revealed and brought into the light. This transgenerational transmission can be observed in our family’s case study.
This approach goes “beyond what is transmitted consciously from generation to generations to bring to light what is transmitted trangenerationally, that is, what transmitted without being “assimilated” because it was never verbalized and remains hidden among unspoken family secrets (Schützenberger 1998, 4).”
The Ancestor Syndrome
Transgenerational Psychotherapy and the Hidden Links in the Family Tree
Anne Ancelin Schützenberger
Author of Homing In: A Story Mandala Connecting Adoption, Reunion and Belonging