Fairy Tale Illustrations Inspired by Dreams and Grief

Fairy Tale Illustrations Inspired by Dreams and Grief
Illustrations for Fallen
Illustrations for Fallen, 11 x 14 watercolor and colored pencil on bristol.

My latest art project is a series of illustrations for a spiritual fairy tale I’ve written. The story itself was inspired by a dream from many years ago and a phrase that has rattled around in my brain ever since, begging me to unravel its mysteries, to understand its meaning.

In my long ago dream, I have lost my four-month-old baby and I am beside myself with grief. At the memorial service for the child it comes to me that I will create the “Deep Water Leaf Society” and that will alleviate my grief and create healing for many others as well. When I woke, still disturbed by the deep feeling of grief the dream expressed, I was puzzled. My children were all growing up; I had no more “babies”. And I wondered what in the world a “deep water leaf” might be, much less a society of them.

Fast forward several years – seven, to be exact – and I did lose a child, my eldest son who was 26. During my deep grief, I spent a lot of time revisiting my old journals and filling many new ones with my journey to healing. Along the way, I found the record of this deep water leaf dream and it resonated deeply.

My son, Cameron, was born in April. Suddenly “four-month-old” became a metaphor for this child of mine, born in the fourth month, who I now grieved so deeply for. The dream seemed to hold a prescription for healing. In time, I wrote my first book partly as a chronicle of my own healing journey and partly as a self-help roadmap for others who were grieving. I titled it The Deep Water Leaf Society in honor of the dream.

But I still wondered, what IS a deep water leaf? Inklings of the answer had come through in the book I’d written, but there was more mystery yet to be unraveled. The question continued to rattle around in the back of my mind.

Over the years since Cameron’s death and the publication of the first book, my dreams and meditations have slowly been answering that question. In my new book, Fallen, I explore the answer in the form of a fairy tale or fable about the first Deep Water Leaf.

In it, my protagonist Alora falls from the Dreaming Tree into the strange new land of Lake Sojourn where she struggles to remember who she is. Will she continue to drift on the surface, always at the mercy of the elements? Or will she find the courage to face her fears, dive deep and reclaim her true power?

No spoilers here. You’ll have to read it to find out. 😉

Fallen, the Adventures of a Deep Water Leaf is scheduled for publication January 2017. Join my mailing list (sign up form below) and follow me on Facebook for release details and opportunities for free downloads and prizes as the launch date draws nearer.

Several of the original illustrations – 11 x 14 watercolor and colored pencil on bristol – will be on display in the Southwest Visual Art League’s INSPIRED! Art Show this November in downtown Mesa, Arizona.

Work in Progress "Into the Unknown"
Work in Progress “Into the Unknown” 11 x 14 watercolor and colored pencil on bristol.
WIP Closeup - Into the Unknown
Work in Progress (closeup) “Into the Unknown” 11 x14 watercolor and colored pencil on bristol.

The Tides of Life

I’ve recently returned from a week at the beach in beautiful Rocky Point (Puerto Penasco) Mexico. Great time with the whole family, lovely beachfront home, 80 degree weather, good food, plenty of cerveza. In other words, a little slice of heaven.

Yet on one very still afternoon, I made the following observation:

Midafternoon Rocky Point

Today the sea is flat and smooth
Like a satin sheet
Pulled tightly over an empty bed
Black birds float
Stillness upon stillness
The raucous cries of the morning’s gulls
Silent now
No wing or feather moves the air
No boat breaks the horizon
Not a soul stirs on the beach
The tide itself seems suspended
Resting at its high water mark
Off to the hazy west
Sea blends horizonlessly into sky

I say that I crave peace
That at the core of my every prayer
Is the desire for peace, for stillness
But this stillness leaves me restless
I don’t want a life
Flat and still like this sea
I crave the motion of the waves
Their sparkling diamond light
The pull of the tides
The gentle slosh and roll
Of water greeting shore
The effervescent hiss
As thirsty sand drinks in
The delicious foamy brew
How often we resist the rise and fall of our own lives. How often we resist the changes that come. We cry out for peace, yet it is the very presence of ups and downs that lets us know we are alive.

In the past few days, I’ve had quite a few “ups” — and yet, if I look at them honestly, they come directly from my biggest “down.” They are all gifts that have come to me directly from my experience of loss with my son Cameron’s death. Would I trade them all to have him back? Maybe. Would my life be as meaningful if I did? I don’t think so. My loss has allowed me to begin to find a way to make a small contribution to this world.

I am now a Featured Writer at Open to Hope, a website that reaches 30,000 readers each month and whose mission is to offer hope to those who are grieving. You can read my first post here. I will be posting a few times each month.

I did a wonderful Internet radio interview on the Conscious Healing show with Sherry Anshara. You can listen to the archive here.

My book, The Deep Water Leaf Society, won First Place in the Self Help category and was chosen as the Best Non-Fiction Book of 2008 by Reader Views.

A new follower (see The Journey) of my blog honored me with her own “Top 10 Favs Award.” I am equally honored by this award, because it means that my words are reaching real people. That makes my heart sing.

So, the next time you wish for peace and an end to your current drama, ask yourself if you are wishing your way out of living. Life comes with highs and lows. Let’s make the best of all of it.

Wishing you peace on the journey…

As always, I welcome your coments here or by email (Claire@DeepWaterLeafSociety.com)

Visit my website: http://www.deepwaterleafsociety.com/