I wrote Dancing Heart to let spheres of light burst out from their swirling places in my heart, mind, stomach, and soul. It all started when I joined a study group of Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, held in Mesa, Arizona. The “morning pages” assignment of writing three pages every morning evolved into longer and longer stretches of writing. I dug deeper into the depths of my soul for the sheer curiosity and joy of it. My hand seemed to want to write on its own. Phrases burst out of me like fireflies lighting up a dark sky.
I soon took a writing class taught by Tom Bird and bought his book, Write/Right from God which encouraged me to write on large, blank pads of paper as fast as possible in order to bypass the inner critic and flow from the heart. I took this idea to the limits, using an 18” x 24” sketch pad and lots of fun, brightly colored pens and markers. I began looping, swirling, rhyming, and sketching all over the pages. I bought pads of large colored construction paper and the pens went wild in their swooping designs and ballooning words. An internal bell and a sense of fireworks in my belly began waking me up earlier in the morning than I had ever been accustomed to before. Shelves started to spill over with filled pads of a variety of sizes.
Part of my ritual began to be to arise before dawn, put on my warm housecoat and slippers, go outside to enjoy looking at Orion and other constellations, come back inside and pour some hot tea, and snuggle up with my black and white tuxedo cat, Jake, at the kitchen table with a swath of paper and a pile of pens. Then I began to write—just free-for-all-say-anything writing, no matter if it was silly or seemed to make no sense at first. After a few phrases or paragraphs, the words would start to form into a cohesive theme. This early morning time, when I was just emerging from the dream world, suited the process perfectly.
As the sun rose and started sparkling on the leaves and flowers outside my window, and the birds thronged to the feeders, I felt renewed hope and energy. When noontime rolled around, I felt sad that I needed to put away my pens and go take care of the routine responsibilities of business and adulthood.
The book emerged in a two-year time period when, as usual in life, a lot of challenges and changes were happening: I was finally beginning to let go of a business I had felt strongly led away from for years; I was empathizing with my son who was experiencing the hard lessons of teenage life, and my mother who was experiencing the debilitating condition of RSDS (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome); I had several skin cancer surgeries that kept parts of my face bandaged intermittently (a great lesson in humility); and I was dealing with IBS pain much of the time.
I took art classes after my neglected love of making art arose in me through the hearts, spirals, and figures that popped up all over my writings. I honed techniques that helped me design the cover of this book and hundreds of other art pieces. I began a weekly e-newsletter which featured a short encouraging message and illustration, free to anyone who signed up at www.kellyathena.com
. I began blogging my thoughts and my art and photography and linked it to my website. Any traveling I did I viewed as sacred journeys to more truth, and I took along my unlined notepads (smaller sized) and found inspiration everywhere.
I wrestled with titles for the book, including How to Feel Good, The Secrets of a Polygamist’s Great-Great Granddaughter, and The Only Crazy Thing is Pretending there are No Voices. I worked with how to present the poems and shorter zingers: by subject matter, by size, in chapters, or a mixed potpourri. At first I wanted to include only the lightest, most joyful pieces so no one would get depressed by reading about death or painful emotions. Then I realized that all of our emotional aspects are important transforming tools and not to be rejected as “negative” so I included a full spectrum in this collection.
My intention throughout this odyssey has been to express joyful inspiration and to spark others to connect to the joy of living authentically from their heart.
Wishing you all the best,