Contemplative Photography & Reflections

Spirit Lanterns: Illuminating Aspirations

Happy New Year, everyone!

I’ve been busy planning and setting intentions for 2016 and am stoked to discover a wealth of resources for manifesting goals! I feel like I’ve tapped into a mother load of resources, which brings to mind the adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Teachers and active support networks of women coming together virtually to inspire and encourage one another!

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working with a tremendously creative and inspiring tool: Leonie Dawson’s  2016 Create Your Shining Year in Life workbook.

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This workbook is so full of goodness that it would be impossible to describe it with only a few headlines or examples! It begins with wrapping up and reflecting on the previous year and includes a page to list everything you’re grateful for from 2015, which is a great exercise because gratitude is key for moving forward! The rest of the workbook focuses on creating a shining new year in all areas of life by setting inspired goals and listing resources you have to support you along the way. (My favorite page is the self-created list of “Things to Do When Everything Sucks!”) There are pages for affirmations, mottos, and plenty of space for creating a dream board. I’m having so much fun (with my colored Sharpies) brainstorming and imagining, setting intentions and goals, breaking goals into actionable steps, and writing the steps in my day planner. It’s something I can look back at throughout the year to help me stay on track. I’ve never done anything like this before and think it will be a catalyst for serious growth.

I anticipate that various pages in this workbook will inspire blog material throughout the year, but for now I want to start with something simple: choosing a “sacred word for the year”.

When I was teaching, I’d create an elaborate binder for each school year to keep me focused on what was most important and in alignment with my core values and aspirations. The cover of the binder featured a picture embellished with my word for the year. The word served as a compass to help me navigate the year. Since the binder also housed my weekly lesson plans for the whole year, I saw the cover every day and was reminded constantly of the intention I set for the year. It was a powerful tool!

So choosing a “sacred word for the year” was not something new for me. Before choosing my word for 2016, I made a list of words to consider. I kept the list in my phone and added to it whenever something new came to mind. I finally decided on abundance. Yes, I think it’s high time to expand my horizon and focus on that word!

Truth is, I never made money a priority in my life and was never intentional about it. Money was not something I considered when it came to choosing either a college major or a spouse. It simply didn’t show up on my radar. I lived simply and with some creativity learned how to live on very little. But since resigning from my teaching job, I’ve been doing some conscious work on my attitudes and beliefs about money because I think I’ve been selling myself short all these years and cutting myself off from a flow that shouldn’t seem so unattainable given my level of education and what I have to offer the world. Lately, I’ve been stretching myself to use my brain in ways that are entirely new to me and realize that developing a healthy “money mindset” is critical. It seems clear that all my life, the attitudes I’ve held toward money have obstructed the flow of prosperity in my life. Now I am curious about this energy and feel inspired to experiment with it and see what I can do with a friendlier attitude toward it. So I’m working first and foremost on raising my “money vibration,” which goes hand in hand with pursuing professional opportunities.

But abundance isn’t only about money. It applies to all areas of life, and gratitude seems to be a fundamental part of it – which is why it felt so worthwhile to make a list of everything I was grateful for in 2015. This year, I intend to be conscious about how I am either allowing or cutting myself off from the flow of abundance in my life. (Since deciding on my sacred word, I already have received some powerful lessons related to abundance. More on that in a future post!) To keep my sacred word front and center, I am printing the photograph below and mounting a small print on both the refrigerator and the inside cover of my daily planner and a larger, framed print on the wall of my work space.

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To super charge my word for the year, I identified what habits and actions will draw more of the quality of abundance into my life. I also created a unique lantern for my meditation space with my sacred word and several other words to (literally) illuminate my aspirations and intentions for the upcoming year. This includes qualities that I anticipate will be useful to have in my toolbox for the year, to support what I want to accomplish. Words to uplift and inspire me when things don’t go the way I want them to. Reminders to help me stay on track.

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Here is another view of my multi-colored lantern:

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And here is a Spirit Lantern I made several years ago that ended up being a powerful manifestation tool back when I was pursuing a teaching job in a competitive job market:

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I’ve received numerous requests to share instructions for making Spirit Lanterns, so here goes!

Materials:

  • smooth glass jar or straight vase (I like to repurpose 16-oz. salsa jars)
  • sheet of handmade/natural/mulberry paper from an art or paper store (either a large sheet or a few 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets)
  • Mod Podge (either matte or glossy)
  • paintbrush or foam brush
  • inkjet or laser printer
  • a few sheets of regular copy paper
  • tape or glue stick
  • glitter (optional)
  • silver and/or gold Sharpie pen (optional)
  • sparkly star stickers (optional)
  • charms
  • thread
  • hot glue gun and a few glue sticks
  • ribbon, raffia, or twine

Instructions:

Step One: Brainstorm, Layout, and Print Your Words

  1. Brainstorm and select the words you want to include on your lantern. For best results, limit your list to no more than 12 words.
  2. In a word processing program, type out your list of words, leaving space between each word. (Eventually, you will rip out each word by hand, so you’ll want to leave enough space to do so.) Use whatever font(s) please you. At times, I’ve used a variety of fonts for one lantern. Other times, I’ve only used one font (and think I like this effect best). I prefer to use a calligraphy or script font, such as Caflisch Script (a free download).
  3. Test print your words on a sheet of regular copy paper to make sure the words are the right size.
  4. Print your words on a sheet of mulberry or handmade paper. I recommend cutting this paper a little smaller than a regular sheet of 8 1/2″ x 11″ copy paper and then either taping or using a glue stick around the edges to adhere the mulberry paper to the regular copy paper so the delicate paper won’t get eaten by your printer. In the past, I’ve been able to print directly on the mulberry paper, but the printer I have now is too rough for such delicate paper. Use the “best” print quality setting.
  5. After printing onto the mulberry paper, detach it from the copy paper.
  6. Tear each word out by hand, leaving as little paper around the words as possible without tearing into the word. If there are difficult to tear fibers, use scissors to cut through them, and then continue tearing.

Step Two: Prepare and Cover Your Jar

  1. Begin by cleaning your jar and removing any label residue if you’re repurposing it. (Goo Gone does the job well.) Make sure the jar is dry before proceeding.
  2. Cut your decorative paper to a size that will cover your jar with some excess left over. You will want the paper to extend about 1/8″ above the rim, and a couple inches beyond the bottom (to cover the bottom surface).
  3. Paint the entire outside of the jar with Mod Podge.
  4. Cover the jar with the decorative paper. Smooth it out as completely as you can. Try to have as little overlap as possible where the two ends of the paper meet, but make sure there’s no gap. If there’s a gap or you don’t like the way the overlap looks, you could run a strip of matching washi tape vertically along the seam. Trim the paper so it’s flush with the top rim of the jar.
  5. Cut slits in the paper that will allow it to cover the bottom of the jar, and carefully fold the slits over the bottom so it is covered completely. Smooth it out as much as possible. If you end up not having enough excess on the bottom to cover it completely, you can cut out a circle nearly the size of the diameter and adhere it.

Step Three: Embellish Your Lantern with Words, Charms, and Other Details

  1. Apply Mod Podge to the places where you want your words. Smooth out the words.
  2. When all your words are adhered to the lantern, paint over the entire lantern with a coat of Mod Podge. Let dry.
  3. At this point, you can embellish the lantern with designs and/or stickers. I love to take out my metallic Sharpies for this and make spirals! You might want to decorate with a few shiny star stickers.
  4. Cover with another coat of Mod Podge, and let dry. I like to sprinkle some fine glitter in the Mod Podge for the final coat!
  5. If you are using charms, attach each one to a few inches of fine thread. Find places for them to hang so they are not covering any words. Put a dab of hot glue near the top of the rim, and attach a thread to the glue so the charm dangles in the space where you want it. Do the same for the remaining charms.
  6. Use hot glue to secure ribbon, raffia, or twine around the top of the lantern, to cover any threads in the glass (that allow the lids to screw on).
  7. Place a tea light or votive inside the lantern (inside a small votive holder if you wish), and enjoy and reflect on your illuminated words!

I recently listed Spirit Lanterns for sale in my Etsy shop, so if you’d like one but don’t feel like making one on your own, I’d love to create a customized lantern for you using your sacred words for the year and/or even an inspirational quote!

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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