Spirit Leaves: Creative Confluence

The ocean tide of personal energy ebbs and flows. When the waves crest upward successively, all is well in our world. We fill with an indomitable sense we could accomplish anything. If we watch closely, it is possible to become attuned to when the water surges toward its zenith, or else plunges inevitably into a dark nadir of numbing lethargy. Everyone wants happiness in this life; but that joy springs not from pursuing the more elevated state; rather, it is found in traversing the entire spectrum of emotions attendant upon the pursuit of what we love.

Doing what we love and loving what we do is more than a bumper sticker mantra. In my twenties, I did everything with passion. I was living spherically, Fellini-style, in every direction, maintaining a childlike wonder and enthusiasm. I pursued life drawing, theatre, poetry and music. I loved freely and often. I followed the flow of a tide that never stopped to muse upon the possible exhaustibility of its oceanic pull.

A child of the ’50s now in her sixties, it’s not simply that I have “slowed down” a bit; I have slid into a torpid, sluggish pace. My energetic engine needs a major overhaul at times. Some mornings, I arise with a fatigue that pulls me like an incessant undertow back toward sleep. How, then, does a creative but somnambulant individual overcome inertia, and as this month’s prompt demands, “ReIgnite [her] passion” for life?

No simple formula will work for everyone. Each of us has creative areas wherein we excel. We must figure out how to use them to catapult us out of torpor.

As an artist and spiritually oriented person, I connect with Stones. I have crystals and stones of all colors and kinds — mostly clear, light blue and pink — in beautiful angel trays. They raise my vibrational level both through their visual presence and the invisible, energetic connection they afford.

With my love of language, books are mood elevators. I have shelf-upon-shelf of books. Cabinet doors open to reveal cloistered books, their many colored bindings a joyous reminder of the propensity of words to enhance self-expression and enrich my life.

I love music. The word “dulcimer” came up as we read a poem in my British Writers 2 class. A student announced she had a homemade dulcimer, and I persuaded her to bring it to class. Two days later, I opened my classroom doors to an antic sound, with students laughing and chatting amiably in the background. True, verisimilitude was not served: we were studying the Romantic Era poets, and instead of a period piece, the musician offered her rendition of “Smoke on the Water.” Still, mission accomplished: the resonant plinking as her fingers lighted over frets on her homemade dulcimer ignited the students’ passion for learning. I, in turn, as their instructor quietly savored the experience: a magical, alchemical moment that lifted my spirits and reminded me why I love academia.

As a ceremonial singer, it gives me joy to hang drums around the house, ready to use whenever I feel like it. I have a deer hide drum with a beautiful flower burst pattern from walnut staining its surface, a gift from Cedric. I also have a bear hide drum from a taxidermist. Seeing the drums reminds me of my purpose and keeps me inspired: my purpose is to sing the sacred songs.

Writing, editing, teaching, singing or creating — these ignite my love of existence. Bringing the more creative parts of myself together within the more wizened, experienced self helps me refocus momently. Everything is better now. I love this decade of life. I treasure every inspired breath. I rejoice in the years that have brought me to integrate so many seemingly disparate abilities and make beauty out of fleeting impressions.

I have become a veritable psychic sculptor, culling and combining materials both melancholic and radiant into new forms that give voice to all the unexpressed things I harbor in my heart. I’m like those dreary but splendid poets of the Romantic era, caught up in an anomalous net of a perpetual melancholy mingled with a zeal for beauty. It’s an existence tinged with darkness and lit by poignancy, but it’s my life.

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Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.


  1. Thanks for writing this, as a woman in her ’60s much influenced by the ’60s, I too feel an ebb and flo of energy and must remember to take care of myself and my creative spirit intentionally and encourage others to do so as well. Making beauty out of our experiences is life-affirming and inspiring. It’s all I want to do!


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