Living in Grace
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All Creatures Great and Small

On a Wing and a Prayer ...

Grace by CJ Shelton
Introducing ... "Grace",
one of the new pieces from my latest collection

Ladybug on LeafWe are living in a state of grace now amidst Summer’s blessings, full upon us with its bountiful sunshine, foliage and animal life. While we humans settle back to blissfully soak up the sun’s rays, the sound of bees buzzing methodically from flower to flower is interrupted only by the sudden whir of a hummingbird, the meandering journeys of a few butterflies and the dart-and-dodge of the dragonfly, letting us know that while we may be taking a break Nature’s smallest creatures are still going about the business of productive living.
Residing alongside these tiny beings there is much abundant and powerful horse spirit, especially in the Headwaters Region where over the last couple of weeks we welcomed thousands of horse enthusiasts during the Pan Am Equestrian events. Also during this ‘summer of the horse’, I was thrilled when American Pharoah made his mark on history by winning the Triple Crown of American horseracing (the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes), the first to achieve this impossibly challenging feat in 37 years. The horse-crazy little girl in me proved to be still very much alive and well while witnessing the Pharoah’s unwavering courage and strength ... my own heart pounded every second of that final race, right along with the drum of his hoof-beats.
Bold by CJ SheltonI have always felt that out of all creatures horses seem to be particularly touched by the hand of God. The two graphic black and white horse drawings in this newsletter are a sneak peek at some of my newest work, created in honour of the great ‘soul-full’ spirit and essence that permeates these magnificent animals. It all began with ‘Grace’ (featured at the beginning of this newsletter) who 'arrived' in a sudden burst of energy the day of the Belmont Stakes. It seemed American Pharoah’s boldness and brilliance ('Bold' is the name of the second drawing above) had affected me exactly the same way another regal racehorse, Secretariat, touched my twelve-year-old soul, oh so many moons ago in the early 1970’s. His run for glory was even more successful, setting several records that to this day remain unbroken. The 'heart' of both these horses reminds us how inspiring a true champion can be.

American PharoahSecretariat

That rare and brilliant champion spirit was well captured in the 2010 movie Secretariat which told the story of both 'Big Red' (as Secretariat was nick-named) and his equally spirited owner. Randall Wallace, the movie’s director, in an interview with Hannah Goodwyn of said that Secretariat’s story “is about pure joy. The horse loved to run. He loved being alive. He loved using the gifts that he had. The woman who owned him (Penny Tweedy) had to do that too, against the challenges of other people who didn't believe that she could do what she did… for a championship heart is a normal heart until it hears and responds to the call of a miracle.” My favourite words from the movie itself, which truly capture the quintessence of both horse and human spirit, were when Penny Tweedy (played by Diane Lane) says: it's about life being ahead of you, and you never know how far you can go unless you run at it”. If you are ever in need of a winning-against-all-odds kind of story, Secretariat really delivers.
Such a strong connection with ‘all our relations’, God’s creatures, is something I have felt all my life and I credit my parents who, while raising me and my siblings in a suburb of Toronto, had the foresight one summer to seek out a farm vacation and broaden our education. That one summer turned into many, many delightful summers lasting throughout my childhood, instilling not only a life-long appreciation of how to live in harmony and rhythm with Nature’s seasons, but a genuine love for the many animals I was blessed to help care for and raise.
Baby KestrelAlthough I can't claim any 'parental' rights to the kestrels I reported on in my last newsletter, it turns out that they too have had success in raising two healthy babies over the last few weeks. One evening I was treated to the ultimate reward of seeing the little ones in flight-training performing their ‘circuits and bumps’. In aviation this refers to a touch-and-go landing maneuver that is common when learning to fly an aircraft. It involves landing and taking off again without coming to a full stop. The pilot then circles the airport in a pattern known as a ‘circuit’ and keeps repeating the maneuver, allowing many 'soft' landings to be practiced in a short time. If you can imagine baby falcons awkwardly making their own first tentative circuits around their airport nest, then you get the picture!
Summer DaisyIt was my own mother that inroduced me to the phrase that is the title of this newsletter, “All Creatures Great and Small”. Based on a hymn that was one of her favourites, those simple words are now some of my favourites as they speak to the joys to be found living alongside all things bright and beautiful. Watching the daily activities of the kestrel family on my own local stage as well as following the thrilling story of a champion racehorse unfolding before a global audience, fills me with the same delight I felt as a little girl on the farm experiencing the Circle of Life first-hand.

The biggest take-away though from these interactions with other creatures is the message of profound hope and positivity they provide. It is a message that tells us not just to live, but to live passionately, with joy and exuberance and to tackle the ‘circuits and bumps’ of life with grace so that when we face the really big race we too can make our run for glory.
As we bask in the lazy days of summer I will be taking some time off to recharge but please check my schedule for upcoming opportunities to try Zen Doodling or other workshops such as Inner Alchemy on Thursday, August 6 or Animal Spirit on August 22. You can also take a spin with a full day painting experience creating Celtic Harvest Spirals. Whatever your pleasure, I wish you joy during this fullness of summer and hope you are able to take time to do whatever it is that makes your own champion heart sing.

May you enjoy the dance!

CJ Shelton
Artist & Healing Arts Practitioner

Dancing Moon Designs
Illuminating the Creative Spirit ...

Share the Dance and please forward to a friend to enjoy!
THE STORY BEHIND THE PIECE ..."Elemental Dragonfly"
Dragonflies have inhabited the earth for almost 300 million years making them one of our oldest continuous species. A dragonfly can display itself in many different reflective colors depending on the angle and polarization of light falling on it, plus their eyes have about 30,000 lenses which enables them to see mandala-like in 360 degrees. The dragonfly can also move in six different directions - backwards, forwards and sideways - because its four wings operate independently.
The dragonfly’s evolution from a primordial era where the raw elements of Fire, Water, Air and Earth ruled our planet, its rainbow colours and here-and-gone-again movements, makes it the ultimate creature of mystery and magic. It is truly a little dragon fit for any wizard to befriend! The original design for this piece was only four inches square but like the dragonfly itself, good things come in small packages ...
Cards are available for $10 each
Friday August 14 from 7-9 pm, Hornings Mills
$10 donation

Please join us in the tent! To learn more about the Red Tent movement visit
Alton the HandsomeBe sure to check out this unique Headwaters Region initiative combining art and horse power. My ‘handiwork’ helped decorate the head of ‘Alton the Handsome’ who now resides in the Village of Alton’s town park. The rest of this special ‘herd’ live in various locations throughout the Headwaters Region.
ART IN THE ROUND Intro to Mandala Making
Book your own session anytime this summer for groups of two or more. A great gift idea or a fun Girl's Day out!
ONGOING Drawing Sessions - "Seeing With New Eyes"
Sunday and Wednesday afternoons from 1-3 pm

Build your drawing skills and learn to see the world through an artist's eyes. Newbies and more advanced welcome. Start anytime | Pay as you go.
Thurs. Aug. 6 from 10 am to 3 pm

Take a transformational voyage of self-discovery in search of your very own Philosopher's Stone.
$85 per person

Sat. Aug. 1 & Sat. Aug. 8 from 1-3 pm
Take your doodling to the next level! Discover the calming activity of creating intricate miniature art pieces full of delightful patterns and tangled designs. In this session you can find inspiration on the beautiful grounds of the Alton Mill and the tranquil atmosphere of my nature-filled studio.
$30 per person
Sat. Aug. 22 from 10 am to 3 pm

Go wild! Create a beautiful mandala based on a special animal with its own particular message and 'medicine' just for you.
$85 per person
Sat. Aug. 29 from 10 am to 4:30 pm

Spend a full day painting in my studio and creating your very own Celtic triskele spiral pattern on a 12" x12" canvas
$135 per person
"The Moon Tree" Pendant
The balancing energy of my signature piece "The Moon Tree" can now be yours to wear. Pendant on 16" leather cord, $30.00 each. Available at my studio or can be mailed. Please email me with your order request.

Moon Tree Pendant by CJ Shelton
Shamanic Consultations & Guidance
Are you in search of answers or experiencing a challenging life transition? 1-on-1 sessions can be booked with me at the Alton Mill to help you find solutions.

MARI® Mandala "Soul Symbol" Interpretation
Explore the 'language of your soul' in a one-on-one self-discovery session. The MARI system provides a visual and symbolic snapshot of what's currently going on in your life, allowing you to access your own inner wisdom and achieve more clarity. You already have the answers within you. Sessions by appointment in my studio at the Alton Mill. Visit my website to learn more about this fascinating process.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.
The purple headed mountains,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky.
The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.
The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day.

~ From an Anglican hymn, also popular with other Christian denominations. Words by Cecil Frances Alexander, first published in Hymns for Little Children.
Copyright © 2015 Dancing Moon Designs, All rights reserved.

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