Author Archive | Anna Oginsky

Summer Vacation and Restoration by Anna Oginsky

It’s summer vacation here at my house and with its impending start in June came dreams of my children and I enjoying long, lazy days reading, writing, and making art— preferably on a beach or in the forest—nourishing our bodies with an unending supply of fruit and herb infused waters, fresh berries, and concoctions made with heirloom tomatoes picked from the vine.

I seem to begin running this film in my imagination around Memorial Day each year, one where it is summertime and the living is easy, as the old song goes. The reality is it is summertime and the living is living. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes it seems impossible. I have always been one to think in extremes. I exaggerate. It is a tendency that runs through my blood and I can most likely attribute it to my relatives who were active in community theatre outside the home and all-around general theatrics everywhere else.

Consequently, when I think about what it means to feel refreshed or be restored, I go right to the mountain top, the beach, or the forest.

What I’m noticing is to limit myself to the possibility of only feeling restored under the dreamiest circumstances and to overlook the possibilities for restoration in my daily life means I will rarely find the restoration my body, mind, and spirit needs. What I’m learning, not only about restoration, but also about every significant area of my life, is that what is most refreshing and where I experience the most peace, ease, joy is somewhere between the mundane and the mountaintop.

My most enriching life encounters happen in that space between the dream and the reality.

What this means is that a small shift of my perception can open the space for restoration, not only on vacation but also throughout the course of my day. I’m also learning that at this point in my life, a vacation simply isn’t enough to sustain the feeling of being restored. It is essential that I practice restoration daily. I’m not suggesting this is easy, but with the amount of information I am exposed to and the pace at which my life moves (which is the same for most everyone I know), a week away on vacation just isn’t enough and so restorative time has become just as pertinent, if not more pertinent, as eating well and moving our bodies—our beacons of hope for health and well-being.

My fifteen-year-old son just told me about an opinion he recently read that said in some ways our bodies die each night when we go to sleep and are born anew when we wake in the morning. I told him that I loved the idea of waking up to a new life each day. He asked me what I thought about the idea of dying each night. I find it refreshing to imagine a nightly death of sorts where my body naturally sheds what is no longer serving me, whether that be cells or ideas or worries that I carried through the day. I appreciate my body’s need for restoration and continuously marvel at the ways it shows me that it can restore itself—if I let it.

Contrary to what I formerly believed, opportunities to restore are all around me.

There are many practices like making art, writing, walking, meditation, and yoga that I can use to refresh and restore my body, mind, and spirit. I have really enjoyed these practices for a long time. What I’m seeing more clearly now is that restoration isn’t always about the place or the practice. Restoration is truly possible anywhere, anytime when I take a deep breath, let my mind off the hook, and allow my body to do its thing. What a relief!

About the Author: Anna Oginsky

annbioAnna Oginsky is the founder of Heart Connected, LLC, a small Michigan-based workshop and retreat business that creates opportunities for guests to tune in to their hearts and connect with the truth, wisdom, and power held there. Her work is inspired by connections made between spirituality, creativity, and community. Anna’s first book, My New Friend, Grief, came as a result of years of learning to tune in to her own heart after the sudden loss of her father. In addition to writing, Anna uses healing tools like yoga, meditation, and making art in her offerings and in her own personal practice. She lives in Brighton, Michigan with her husband, their three children, and Johnny, the big yellow dog. Connect with her on her website; Twitter; Facebook; or Instagram.

Typical Tuesday: Anna Oginsky

At 6:00 a.m. Brett Dennen’s Oh My Glorious begins to play on my cell phone. This is my daily alarm. I press the snooze button.

At 6:09 a.m., when the alarm goes off, I press snooze again. I stretch my arms up over my head and listen, trying to hear who is awake. Specifically wondering if my oldest son, a high schooler, is up and getting ready for school.

I slowly make my way out of bed, through the bathroom, and into the kitchen. I make coffee.

The high school bus comes at 6:40, then the intermediate school bus picks up my second son at 7:30, and finally at 8:25 a.m. my daughter, the youngest, boards the elementary school bus.

In between I fill water bottles, answer questions, complete permission slips, and confirm whether it is an A day or a B day for the middle guy.

It is always a relief once everyone is where they need to be in the morning. I am grateful that my own schedule allows me to be present for my children in the morning.

From 6:00 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. my Tuesdays are typical. Once my daughter is on the bus and Johnny the dog and I go back into the house from the bus stop, we eat breakfast. Kibbles for him and it could be anything for me. Eggs, oatmeal, or a smoothie.

After breakfast, my days vary quite a bit.

For the past 15 years, I’ve mostly been a mom about town. I’m not sure where the term “stay-at-home-mom” originated because while I understand the term in theory, I don’t know any moms who get to simply stay at home.

I dream of keeping to a routine that starts with yoga and is followed by writing and art.

I have a second book I’d like to write and a business I’d like to nurture. Lately though, it is incredibly challenging just to keep my head above water.

Like so many families, we’ve got a lot in the mix. I keep forgetting appointments and assignments.

It could be that summer is in the air and I am ready for a break in the daily routine. Or maybe, it’s all. Too. Much.

Our bodies weren’t designed to take in as much as we are required to take in each day.

While I am grateful for my flexibility, I wince as my schedule fills with obligations and I sit in awe of parents who work in jobs full time as well as try to raise families. I’m not sure how anyone is doing what they do without going crazy or falling ill.

On top of all the stuff to do, there are emotions that require space and time to surface, spirits to tend to, and bodies that need nourishment and rest. We may not all be going crazy, but I know few people who aren’t feeling stressed and overwhelmed these days. Everyone is just so damn busy and personally, I don’t like it.

To invite more ease into my day, I have alarms set on the hour. These serve as reminders to take a deep breath. I stop what I’m doing and breathe as the Beatles sing Let it Be to me. If you’re nearby, I’ll invite you to take a deep breath too. Some people roll their eyes at me, but mostly my invitation is well received. Eyes light up, heads nod, and we resume what we were doing feeling refreshed.

We must remember to breathe.

I long for a Typical Tuesday. I sometimes wonder what my days will look like when my kids have all moved out of the nest. Will I be bored and miserable? Or will I be living the dream with yoga, writing, art, and a daily lunch date with a dear friend?

In the space between, I try to build practices into my day that help it to feel more that typical than not—breakfast with Johnny, a deep breath on the hour, and a moment of gratitude for stillness and silence each morning amid a big, busy, chaotic life.

At 3:00 p.m. the high school bus pulls up to our driveway. My son rushes off the bus, checks the mailbox, and comes into the house. At 4:30 p.m. the younger two arrive home together. They’re usually arguing before they even come through the door. Johnny stirs from his afternoon nap. I try to finish up whatever I’m working on in my studio.

My husband comes home at some point. We have dinner but no activities on Tuesdays. I’m trying very hard to stay present to all of it, as the days go by quickly turning into years and my children grow faster than I ever imagined growing into themselves.

Daily, I walk the balance between longing for more predictability while at the same time feeling grateful that for me, there isn’t ever a Typical Tuesday. Not yet.

About the Author: Anna Oginsky

annbioAnna Oginsky is the founder of Heart Connected, LLC, a small Michigan-based workshop and retreat business that creates opportunities for guests to tune in to their hearts and connect with the truth, wisdom, and power held there. Her work is inspired by connections made between spirituality, creativity, and community. Anna’s first book, My New Friend, Grief, came as a result of years of learning to tune in to her own heart after the sudden loss of her father. In addition to writing, Anna uses healing tools like yoga, meditation, and making art in her offerings and in her own personal practice. She lives in Brighton, Michigan with her husband, their three children, and Johnny, the big yellow dog. Connect with her on her website; Twitter; Facebook; or Instagram.

Connecting to Your Creative Heart by Anna Oginsky

Albert Camus wrote, “In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” While I wholeheartedly agree with Camus, I am finding it harder and harder to turn away from the world. The world is demanding! My life is overflowing with obligations. Slips of paper with reminders scribbled on them and to-do lists are literally busting out of every book, calendar, and bag I own. Yes, I desperately want to turn away from all of it, but sometimes I wonder: What will happen if I do?

Almost nothing.

When I returned from my first ever art retreat experience, the fact that everything I feared leaving behind was right there waiting for me when I returned came as a big surprise to me. After just one day back at home, I wondered if it was true that I even left? Was it a dream? Nothing really changed while I was away. When I returned, my children still needed me. My husband still wanted me. My dog still barked at me. There were still groceries to buy and meals to make. There were still appointments to make and playdates to keep. All the pieces of my life were still intact.

Nothing around me changed, but I was different. I changed. I changed a lot. I left for the retreat feeling overwhelmed, tired, and fearful that I had made a big mistake in investing this time and money in a retreat, of all things. It seemed impractical, indulgent even. I felt unworthy. Simultaneously, I was exploring new territory in my life at that time. I was healing old wounds and growing into a new way of living my life. I suspected there was a whole other way of moving through my days, but I couldn’t seem to access it. A retreat seemed like a great way to, at the very least, try something new.

When I returned from that retreat, I was lighter. I had the air of a child who just came in for the night after a day of playing outside — soaking in sunshine and inhaling fresh air. I was still tired when I returned, but it was a different kind of tired than I was used to. I felt it in my body, my mind, and my spirit. Just as a growing child needs sleep to integrate what transpires during the day, I needed sleep to integrate what I was learning.

Attending that first retreat was so powerful for me that I decided to create something like it for others. I had envisioned creating something similar at other points in my life, but it never seemed like the right time to pursue bringing those visions to life. Upon my return, I set to work imagining what I would offer, who would be involved, and where it would take place. Slowly, all the details fell into place and it was only up to me to make it happen.

One of the challenges I find in being creative is that it’s not always easy to know which path to take. There are always so many options! Turning away from the world not only allows us to understand the world better, it also allows us to understand ourselves better. In the time spent at that first retreat, I remembered the dreams I had previously. Away from my everyday life, I could see that what once seemed impossible was quite possible. Rather than causing my life to fall apart, attending that retreat helped my pull my life together in a new, more meaningful way by creating space for me to experience something new, different, and wildly inspiring.

As I begin making plans for this year’s retreat, I am feeling that same, familiar pull back to my lists, my calendar, and my obligations. I again wonder what will planning this retreat mean for me? How can I make it meaningful for others? What will happen if we all get up and leave our everyday lives for a few days to retreat into art, nature, writing, and each other? Now I can anticipate the answers to these questions. I know that to better understand myself and the world around me, I must turn away from it all. I know the same is true for others. I also know that we will all return to our homes changed —refreshed, renewed, and wildly inspired.

To learn more about The Heart Connected Retreat, visit here.

About the Author: Anna Oginsky

annbioAnna Oginsky is the founder of Heart Connected, LLC, a small Michigan-based workshop and retreat business that creates opportunities for guests to tune in to their hearts and connect with the truth, wisdom, and power held there. Her work is inspired by connections made between spirituality, creativity, and community. Anna’s first book, My New Friend, Grief, came as a result of years of learning to tune in to her own heart after the sudden loss of her father. In addition to writing, Anna uses healing tools like yoga, meditation, and making art in her offerings and in her own personal practice. She lives in Brighton, Michigan with her husband, their three children, and Johnny, the big yellow dog. Connect with her on her websiteTwitter; Facebook; or Instagram.

Everyday Magic, by Anna Oginsky

I can still remember my desperate longing to follow Lucy into the wardrobe when I first heard the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a child. My dad read the book to me as a bedtime story and he kept getting frustrated because I was so eager to find out what happened next that I would read ahead of him on the page. I sighed in exasperation as I waited for him to catch up. With the same desire in my heart, as I read I envisioned myself entering The Secret Garden alongside Mary Lennox. Oh how, I wanted to visit that garden. To this day, I picture a secret, magical, flourishing green place behind every garden door I see.

I imagined my dad as a scientist working with Meg Murry’s dad as I took in the pages of A Wrinkle In Time. I so badly wanted to travel to another dimension with Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which by way of a tesseract. I had a vivid imagination and these stories felt like home to me. In the pages of these beloved books, I fell in love with possibility. There seemed to be two worlds available to me¾the one I lived in and the one I fantasized about living in. The second world was comprised of what could be. I’d be lying if I told you the same isn’t sometimes true today.

There is only a small difference between then, when my eyes twinkled at the possibility of magical forces whisking me away into a parallel universe, and now. Then, I was convinced that magic was an influence that existed outside of me. Now, I know have the power to invoke magic from within the skin and bones of my very own body. Sometimes making magic is as simple as letting the beauty in things that might seem rather ordinary to some astonish me.

For the last week, the skies where I live in Michigan have been solid gray. Today the sun is shining and the sky is blue. Seeing sunshine after days of gray feels like magic to me. The way the sun sparkles on bodies of water, or makes the new fallen snow look like a field of diamonds, or sets on the horizon takes my breath away. Hot air balloons floating up and away in the summer sky leave me in awe. I love seeing how the leaves change colors in the fall. I admire apples waiting to be picked from tree limbs. I watch closely as deer snack in my backyard. It is miraculous to see hawks watching over us from trees along the highway. The sound of a creek trickling or waves crashing against the shoreline makes me feel so peaceful. While these are things that happen again and again, they are sometimes so striking that they are unreal to me. Our world is indeed a magical one.

This past summer I was up late at our family cottage in Northern Michigan waiting for my husband and some friends to arrive. My sister and I were painting a bathroom ceiling and all the kids were tucked into beds. My mom was across the street with my nephew. My husband called and asked if I had been outside lately? He was nearby and thought he was seeing the Northern Lights. I grabbed my sister, called my mom, yelled at all the kids to get out of bed and we all ran outside to the beach. I was so amazed by the sight of the lights dancing on the water, that I honestly thought I might die right then and there. I was shaking with excitement. My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. Just a few minutes later my husband and our friends arrived. As we stood together on the beach, we marveled at the brilliance of the Milky Way. We admired shooting stars beaming themselves across the night sky. Every cell in my body was filled with wonder. That was science. And, definitely magic.

Serendipitous moments never cease to amaze me. For example, when I am thinking about a friend and she sends me a text message out of the blue. Or when I am thinking about my dad and Summertime, a song he used to sing as a lullaby plays on the radio. Or when I am wondering how my mom’s day is going and she calls on the phone. Some might interpret all these common occurrences a coincidence, I believe they are magic. I refer to them as everyday magic.

As a child I kept my eyes out for potential portals into other times. I closed my eyes and tried to make myself invisible. I dreamt of disappearing, making wishes, and flying in the sky. I would have done anything for a magic wand that could transform my dreams into reality. Now I am in awe of serendipity. I admire the intricacies of the world around me. I stop space and time by making art. I write myself into other realms. All the magic lies within me and within the choice I make to see things with a magician’s eye. I can transform things, thoughts, and experiences. All of us can.

It is an incredible power to harness that magic by making a pile of scraps into a collage or sorting words into sentences. Each of us is a creative being and as such, when we create, transform, and welcome what we see around us as magic, we feel at home in ourselves. We can mix essential oils with beeswax to make soothing balms or colorful foods together to make meals. We have the power to turn seeds in to blooms and ideas into books. We have the ability to see the ordinary as if were extraordinary. Thankfully, we are every bit as magical as I longed for us to be. We live in a magical place and we are surrounded by magic. It is everywhere. I am so grateful for that.

 

About the Author: Anna Oginsky

annbioAnna Oginsky is the founder of Heart Connected, LLC, a small Michigan-based workshop and retreat business that creates opportunities for guests to tune in to their hearts and connect with the truth, wisdom, and power held there. Her work is inspired by connections made between spirituality, creativity, and community. Anna’s first book, My New Friend, Grief, came as a result of years of learning to tune in to her own heart after the sudden loss of her father. In addition to writing, Anna uses healing tools like yoga, meditation, and making art in her offerings and in her own personal practice. She lives in Brighton, Michigan with her husband, their three children, and Johnny, the big yellow dog. Connect with her on her websiteTwitter; Facebook; or Instagram.

Learn more about her book at www.mynewfriendgrief.com

Letter to My Creativity, Anna Hodges Oginsky

Dear Creativity,

Here you are. Saving me once again. While the vitriol simmers in the air like a warlock’s brew, its spell disables me… anna_o_055double, double toil and trouble. It bubbles: the hatred, the sadness, the anger, and the grief.

We are in mourning.

The comfort we had thinking everything was okay while others suffered, us unknowing; or knowing and not caring enough to act upon that knowing; perhaps wanting to act but overwhelmed by the enormity of it all; knowing and caring and wanting to act but unsure where to start. Them pleading in desperation for mercy, aching to be seen, to be heard, to be acknowledged. The comfort is no more. We are all so uncomfortable now. The shadows, the goblins, and the monsters have all emerged from the darkness. The bitterness is all out on the table. We see it. We smell it. We feel it in our bones and in every cell in our bodies. We still don’t know what to do, but we know we must do something.

I turn to you, my Creativity, my loyal friend. My light.

You are my connection to the Source, after all. You are the thread that sews me to all that is.

Where will you guide me? Us?

I am counting on you, as always, to help me heal. To help us heal.

Will we write letters, posts, essays, and books? Expressing our sorrow. Asking for help. Begging for forgiveness from others and from our own selves? Can we even begin to forgive each other? Do we even know what to forgive?

anna-oginsky-image2Will we take to the streets with paintbrushes and as we collaborate on painting a new landscape, will we see that we are one? Will we recognize that in the beginning we were but a creation and in the end we are nothing more than what we created? What are we creating now?

How do I solve these riddles for myself, Creativity? How do I weave my voice into the solutions for the whole, for all of us, for the greater good?

Thank you for giving me ways to ask these questions. Thank you for showing me these questions exist below the surface, under the spell. Thank you for giving me words and colors and images and tools to use to help me process these questions. Thank you for the music that sings to my soul while I mix potions and emotions in search of a soothing balm for my grief.

Thank you for curiosity. For wonder. For awe. Thank you for inspiration.

Thank you for giving me space to feel. For translating my feelings into something tangible. Thank you for helping me get it out. Thank you for helping me let it go.

Thank you for giving me the confidence to know that all the answers I am seeking are already inside me. Thank you for empowering me with the discernment to know that your wisdom is also mine. I trust that as inherently creative beings, we have the power to change things. To create new things. To let old things go.

Like you, we are powerful. We are the change agents that transform groceries into meals, seeds and dirt into gardens, paper into books, bricks into buildings, and blank walls into murals. Surely, we can transform ourselves. And we can transform each other. With acknowledgment, with validation, with love, patience, and compassion we can transform. We will grow. I have faith in you, in me, in us.

I remember the relief I felt after my first entry in the journal my Baba gave me in 1983. We had been shopping. She must have known that words would be my medicine. Words have always been my way in to you, Creativity. You saved me then. I am indeed indebted to you. You showed me everything would be okay. You showed me that the only way out is through. Again and again. You sat with me for many years while I stuffed my feelings into you and again when I was learning to let them out by way of you. You have always been there for me. You transform my grief to healing to peace to joy. For then and now and everything in between, I thank you.

With you by my side, I have no fear about what is to come.

With love and gratitude,

Anna

About the Author: Anna Oginsky

annbioAnna Oginsky is the founder of Heart Connected, LLC, a small Michigan-based workshop and retreat business that creates opportunities for guests to tune in to their hearts and connect with the truth, wisdom, and power held there. Her work is inspired by connections made between spirituality, creativity, and community. Anna’s first book, My New Friend, Grief, came as a result of years of learning to tune in to her own heart after the sudden loss of her father. In addition to writing, Anna uses healing tools like yoga, meditation, and making art in her offerings and in her own personal practice. She lives in Brighton, Michigan with her husband, their three children, and Johnny, the big yellow dog. Connect with her on her website; Twitter; Facebook; or Instagram.

Learn more about her book at www.mynewfriendgrief.com

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