My He(ART)-Full Life

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

around here lately

 My sweet gorgeous girl turned 7...I can hardly even believe it! I remember the very first time I laid eyes on her and it seems like a moment ago. But in between these 7 years, she has grown and blossomed and bloomed and is thriving in every which's kind of incredible. She is sweet and strong and kind and smart and sassy too, thank you very much! She has her own mind, is incredibly curious and creative...and we just love her to pieces. I am so very very incredibly grateful that I get to be her mom...that I get to nurture and love and foster her growth and witness her journey. She is the sun and the moon and the stars to us and I can't even begin to imagine what life was like before her.

 Oh! Also...she's a complete daddy's girl now and loves to go on all sorts of adventures with him.

 We got a new addition to our family...this sweet little mutton pie right here. Tim has been wanting a puppy since Tara was about a year and a half. But...the timing was so not right! Tara was just a toddler and needed my full care and attention plus we were moving across country and Tim was away for work a lot and on and on. And Tara has desperately wanted a puppy for the past couple of years...but once again, the timing just wasn't right...Tim had so many major surgeries last year on and on. But now that we have this sweet little bundle ...we couldn't be happier. He is a Doberman (with uncropped ears), 7 weeks old and a sweet little pudding. We just love him so. Tara dotes on him and he on her; he has been an incredibly warm and loving spirit to our family and we are ever so grateful. Oh...and his name is Maximus Jellybean Biko or Maxi for short!

And I am really excited about my art....the way it is freeing up and getting more looser and more whimsical...more emotional and experimental. I have no idea where it will lead....but I am allowing grace to carry me; I don't need to know!

Monday, January 25, 2016

addicted to creating backgrounds, how my art is changing and the link between healing and creativity

 I have been creating a ton of backgrounds these past few weeks...and having so much fun playing and experimenting...I can barely stand it!!! I have been using mixed media papers, bristol board as well as watercolor papers....they all cause different effects. I began using acrylic inks a few months ago and just can't get enough of them....their colors are so lush, rich and versatile it's amazing. First I make some random marks....using Posca markers or oil pastels...or whatever I have at hand. Then I lay down 2-3 different colors of acrylic inks and lay them out with water. I work very fast and intuitively at this stage....usually I have music playing or listening to audio books by Dr. Estes. I have to make sure I have a clean jar of water...with inks, the water muddies up really fast and I want to maintain the vibrancy of the colors. I also try to maintain some white spaces of the paper. I mean...if I remember. Sometimes it all gets covered up so....just going with the flow.

 Then....after it completely dries...I go over the page with additional layers of ink...maybe some oil pastels....maybe mix my acrylic inks with chalk paints. Basically I just play and experiment!!! Layers and layers later....posca markers, collage, stamps...whatever I feel like.

                                                                (WIP, mixed media)
" Let the cracks between things widen until they are no longer cracks but the new places for things." -Colson Whitehead, Zone One
  And here is an image over one of my backgrounds. I feel a new energy and aesthetic emerging!!! I have been creatively stuck for the longest time. I mean....ages and ages. But what I am now realizing and experiencing is that there is a distinct connection between my healing and my creativity. As I become stronger and I process more and more of my childhood traumas that have kept me frozen for so creativity flows easier. As I begin to clear away old debris and false belief I begin to truly and deeply feel my feelings and remember those old buried away traumatic memories of creativity flourishes. I am going to continue writing so much more about this as I heal and get healthier because there is still so much for me to learn, experience and discover.

And I am totally loving this new direction of my art that feels more playful, joyful and very strong and energetic. Can't wait to see where it all goes. Happy creating!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Grace. My word for the year.

"Let the cracks between things widen until they are no longer cracks but the new places for things." -Colson Whitehead, Zone One
2016 is different for me, somehow. I feel the cracks within me, all of that broken-ness that has inhabited my inside spaces...I feel it all widening up to hold new beliefs and ways of being. I feel an expansion of mySELF that is unshakable yet fluid. So many many times when I was very weak and broken, I allowed other people's stories to nourish and guide me. And I am ever so thankful because I don't know what I would have done without them. Their stories were lifelines that kept me from drowning and I most certainly wouldn't be the person I am today without them. And now that I feel strong enough...I have decided to give myself permission to be inspired by my own journey. I am allowing myself to look within, to recover parts of myself thrown away. To discover parts of myself that were long lost and buried. To create mySELF as I want. I actually get to do that!!! There is such freedom and peace in this absolute trust in the universe and self. Grace.
" there are feelings.
you haven't felt yet.
give them time.
they are almost here.
-fresh" -Nayyirah Waheed, Salt

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

acrylic inks!!

 I've totally been digging acrylic inks lately...I just can't get enough of the gorgeous lush colors!! I've been using Liquitex, Dr. PH Martins and Ranger re-inkers. Here are the reasons I love them:
*they invite me to simply can't NOT experiment and play with them! I's impossible! Nor can you plan things's very intuitive...the colors I use, where I place them etc.
* totally compatible with all other media from oil pastels to collage to chalk paints etc.
* works with multi tasking...I can apply some inks and let them dry for an hour or two while I attend to something else and when I come back...ready for the next layer.

*the colors are so rich and lush...saturated and dreamy. LOVE!!
*not terribly expensive...and a little goes a long way.
*I can layer white tissue paper over the inks to mute the colors and designs but they still show through...creating really interesting textures and color variations.

Love adding my Posca markers and Derwent Inktense blocks over top of they inks...I can mix it in when still wet or layer over top after the inks have dried. So versatile!

Happy creating, friends!!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 year in review

 Dear were a roller coaster of a year for me!!!! Looking back on this year, I can't help but gasp and marvel at the ups and downs, the twists and turns and all the unexpected joys and sorrows that you contained. Through it all, though, I received so many gifts of growth, transformations, letting go, discoveries and so much more! Boy...but were you ever difficult!! The entire year, I only wrote 4-5 blog posts...I simply had to extend myself some grace and let some things go. *Note to self* It's totally okay to do that sometimes!
The year began with Tim having not one, but 2 major surgeries. It was an extremely difficult time for our little family. We tried to keep things as normal and routine for Tara as we could but she simply couldn't understand why daddy was sick. Lots of talks with her, answering her questions, listening, listening, listening...hugs and comforting and validating and loving. And Tim, while he has the fortitude of a warrior...struggled through his surgeries as well. There were ups and down and all the usual emotions that accompany loss of health. As for mantra became self care, self care, self care. And that was the only way I was able to hold everything together.
 Tara turned 6 in January and wow!!! did she ever grow up!! Almost seemed that she became a big girl. She wanted to pick out her own clothes, redecorate her room and make more decisions. And she grew like a weed to boot! She bloomed and blossomed and changed daily...I had trouble keeping up. So very proud of my girl...and just when I think I can't possibly love her one ounce more...I surprise myself!

As for me...2015 brought me my own healing.I began therapy last year to finally confront and deal with my abusive and dysfunctional childhood...the layers and layers of denial, lies, abuse...on and on and on; it never seemed to end.The more I uncovered...the more there was to uncover and just when I thought...there can't possibly be any more crap for me unearth....there was!!!
Earlier this year, I wrote this on my FB page: 
"Been writing pages and pages and pages lately...working through huge webs and layers of lies + deceit that I had been taught to believe in my childhood. Not only generational and cultural lies/false beliefs...but also "Family of Origin" lies. Examining my many survival programs I had to adopt...that have served me well as a child but are counter-productive now. It has been staggering + cathartic + draining...and I have only just begun! But learning to validate mySELF, my experiences and my truth...taking responsibility + ownership for my healing process. And every tiny little step leads me to another...slightly larger expansion + letting go." 
And what it's really about is this right here...Dismantling False Belief Systems. When you grow up in a very toxic, abusive and dysfunctional "family" of origin (as I did) then you learn to accept the unacceptable. As a child, you have no frame of reference, defense or perspective; you simply accept the situations because, quite frankly, you have no other choice. Well...tied in to all the dysfunction are false beliefs that all build up on one another...a huge web of lies that form our belief systems. At was overwhelming to untangle all these false a million balls of yarn that were all knotted up into one big mess that I had to sort through. But I kept at it and kept at it slowly and steadily and this is what I discovered: all these lies were built into one a house of cards and once I began to dismantle a few of the huge ones...the rest fell away.I also learned that recovery is not an event, it's a (lifelong) process. I learned to trust mySELF, stand firm in truth, stop seeking external approval and most of all...I began a journey of self care.

 Self care: what exactly is that?? I think we each have to define what caring for the self means in a very personal and fluid way. For was really and truly listening to mySELF. Paying attention to my needs...believing I even had the right to have needs to begin with!! And then...asking for what I needed, trusting that I would receive it, and knowing that I could meet my own needs. It included keeping up with medical appointments, exercising and healthy eating, resting, relaxing, playing, reading poetry out loud, investing in myself and people who love me, starting a meditation practice, mindfulness, setting boundaries. It meant letting go of false hopes, removing toxic people from my life and allowing people (myself included) to be who they are. Wow!!! It goes on and on and on in the most transformative and surprising ways! 

And once Tara turned 6, she became more and more of a daddy's girl each day. Their relationship started changing and growing in entirely new directions that was so heartwarming for me to see. 2015 definitely brought these two closer in ways I never could have imagined. Imagine Tim playing dollhouse with Tara...making "tea" in her kitchen and ...dress-up!! All of a sudden they were two peas in a pod! Makes me happy to no end.

You are a sea of light. Open your eyes. See yourself. ~ Nayyirah Waheed

"in our own ways
we all break.
it is okay
to hold your heart outside your body
for days,
at a time.
-heal." - Nayyirah Waheed 
And brought me to this moment right here where I truly feel that the Universe rose up to meet me exactly where I was in time and space. A large part of recovery work is grueling. Mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally draining; it's difficult! But I kept at it....even when I didn't want to, even when I felt I couldn't take one more step, even when it seemed impossible. I had made a commitment and promise to myself and I was going to keep it...through all the tears, frustrations, sufferings and acceptance of hard truths. For most of the seemed that I was slogging away at healing and there was no progress, no change, no steps in any particular direction; it appeared thankless and futile. But then....all of a November when we were in Mexico...I feel as I was given grace. I feel as if huge weights of toxic shame that was placed on me when I was a child....lifted. For the very first time in my life...I felt myself opening up to life in ways I never thought possible! I felt gifted, transformed and set free. Layers began peeling off and I deeply feel as if I turned a corner somehow. I felt more at peace than I ever have in my entire life...grateful.

And in December...Tim had another major surgery! Things went well but we still went through all the highs and lows of surgery and stress. Tim has the most optimistic attitude of anyone I know...seriously...he even surprised the doctors and nurses! And while we had our rough spots for sure...we grew closer together as friends and as a couple. We began depending on each other in different ways and 2015 brought us the unexpected gift of our love and intimacy deepening in entirely new ways. And I couldn't be more proud of him for the way he's come out on the other end this year. Step by step...we leaned on each other and made it to the other side of through. Thankful for it all.

And brought changes to my art...more playing, more experimenting, more trusting, letting go and whimsy. More stories and truthtelling and intuition...more layers and colors...more mystery. Less perfectionism, less in my mind and more in my heart. I can't wait to see what unfolds!
So...goodbye were wildly life changing for me. You broke me down and put me back together again in new configurations I have yet to discover. You gave me answers to deeply held questions I have had my entire life and opened me up to new ways of being. I am thankful and grateful beyond belief. You showed me that gifts don't always come to us in neat little packages...sometimes they come storming in and tear our lives apart and grind us down to dust and then wow!!!! Like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


I'm over the moon to be published in the current Artists' Cafe magazine!

Friends...I wrote an article about the power of art journaling, sharing our stories and standing in our truths. I have long believed in the power of storytelling as medicine. When I was still in my teens, I began art journaling before I even knew it was a thing. I simply began combining my  writing and drawing by accident and then discovered that it helped me. It was one of the tools I unknowingly used to survive my dysfunctional and abusive "family" of origin. There is an alchemy to combining our stories with is storytelling from the soul. For me, it was a way to give voice to my journals were bearing witness to what I experienced. It was a safe refuge for me to process some of the pain and to empower and validate my experiences.My earliest art journals literally became my lifeline to truth and sanity.

 This past year, as I have been entering a deeper phase of recovery, I once again find myself deeply drawn to the magic of art journaling. I hope you all have a chance to check out the article,'s a 6 page spread where I completely pour out my heart and soul.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

some of my fave. art supplies!

I've been meaning to write this blog post for such a long time but never got around to it! Here goes.
* Derwent Inktense Blocks. I tried these out for the first time about 6 months ago and instantly fell in love!!! What's not to like? The colors are rich and can use them wet or dry. I can mix them with water or with my oil pastels. I use them to draw or sketch and also to paint with. Totally versatile and portable. I mean...serious magic
  * Gelli printing plate ...I tried this out for the first time a few months ago....and it opened up an entire world of possibilities!! Totally invited creativity in! Bonus....Tara loves it too!

* Waverly chalk paint. I actually saw these in the craft aisle in Walmart and decided to try out a bottle. Whoa!!! Instant love! These chalk paints come in about 7-8 different colors, have serious covering power, is opaque and provides an excellent ground for paint markers. They also mix well with other paints to create rich and varied tones. 
* Dick Blick Matte acrylics ....super economical and comes in 101 different colors. They are opaque and rich. 

 * acrylic inks. Liquitex, FW or Dr PH Martin...I love all of them! They give such intense colors and you can mix them with water or other acrylics. I started off with a few bottles and now I can't get enough.
* Posca Acrylic Paint Markers. These markers are amazing!!!! I wish I had known about them sooner but ever so glad I have them now. Really pop when I use them over the chalk paint!
* lokta paper. I just discovered these handmade Nepalese papers a few months ago and bought a few variety packs from Dick Blick. Love love love!!
One of the things about trying out new art supplies is how it really allows me to let go, experiment and play. All so good for the creative process.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

road to recovery, gifts of grace and owning my stories

 "getting yourself together.
what about undoing yourself.
-the fix) -Nayyirah Waheed , Salt
Friends...I haven't written in my blog for some time (about 3 months) because I simply had to gather myself. Undo myself...and then gather myself back up again. That's how the road to recovery continues to be for me...not a linear path but more so circular. A back and forth, sometimes stalling and dead ends...lots of trial and errors and every now and then...acceleration, respite, expansion. I have made it absolutely no secret that I had a horribly abusive childhood...that I come from an extremely toxic and dysfunctional FOO (made even more damaging by the fact that it was portrayed as a loving family). One of the things about abuse (especially childhood abuse) is that there are two main tools of control; one is shame and the other is fear. But (in my own experience) shame is the one that stays the longest, that is the most powerful because long after the fear is gone....shame still persists. Toxic shame to be exact. As a child....when you are constantly abused in every way...devalued and negated....when your experiences are distorted and tend to internalize the shame and accept that you were abused because you did something to deserve it. Of course....our adult minds know this to be a false narrative but our child trying to make sense of the abuse, accepts and internalizes the blame as our own. And so we go forward in our lives carrying shame that is not ours to carry. This toxic shame prevented me from speaking up for much of my life because even after I became an adult...there was still a sense of shame regarding my abuse.And it was this all pervasive shame that kept me locked in disconnection, pain and self negation. And of course, abusers want it this way! Fear and shame once internalized prevents people from talking about their abuses, from standing in their truth and owning their stories.

"in our own ways
we all break.
It is okay
to hold your heart outside your body
for days
years at a time.
-heal." -Nayyirah Waheed, Salt
But I feel that all the work I have done in recovery this past year has led me to this place right here when I can really look at the toxic shame that was instilled in me and  let it go. It's not mine to carry. I can simply...let it go. This realization has freed me, it has brought me to tears and a place of peace and understanding that has evaded me my entire life. I feel as if the Universe has risen up to meet me where I am...and I feel so much gratitude for this gift of grace. So much more to come, friends. So much more to come. xxx

Saturday, August 1, 2015

on extending my(SELF) some grace

 "I do not understand the mystery of grace-only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us." -Anne Lamott
 I haven't been here at my blog in forever it seems. This year has been difficult in so many many ways but (as usually seems the case) has also gifted me with tremendous growth. I feel stronger, healthier, more sure of myself. I am carving out a new life for myself and, more importantly, I am setting intentions on what I want my life to look like. Powerful heady stuff!! I have been painting up a storm...experimenting and playing and trying out new techniques and art supplies. I am currently taking a class called A Year of Painting by phenomenal, totally awesome (and way too cute) boho free spirited artist Alena Hennessy. Loving it every step of the way and am ever so grateful that I was gifted this wonderful opportunity. Letting loose, letting go and stepping into possibilities. Feels so good...I can't even begin to articulate. And so I find myself in a very different place than I was just a few short months ago. Grace.

Also...I have been immersing myself in poetry...oh my!!! I usually have a stack of books that are heavy and serious and...quite necessary for me to heal and recover. But about a month ago I decided to switch over to reading only poetry. Maybe for the rest of the summer or...maybe for the rest of the year...who knows?? I discovered Rupi Kaur and she broke my heart wide open with her truthtelling, her way with words. How she gives both gravity and flight to her emotions.
the apology
never comes
when it is wanted
and when it comes
it is neither wanted
or needed
-you are too late" -Rupi Kaur

And we did a bit of traveling...up to the Pacific Northwest...which is so stunningly beautiful I could only be humbled and awestruck... in the truest sense of the word. The trees are giants reaching up to the stars and skies, the waters are vast and ever changing...bursting with life. And this pic right here is Granville Island, Vancouver. I lived here for a year in my late twenties and it was really powerful to see how much my life and SELF have changed from that time. I loved showing Tim and Tara around. So much changes and much stays the same. Life.

And this sweet girl, this sweet girl...this sweet girl right here!!! How she is growing and blooming and changing right before my very eyes. I'm just trying to take it all in and be present to the joy and playfulness and ...magnificence of it all. She is the heart of our world. Cherished.

And I have really been actively extending myself some grace. Standing more and more in my truth, feet planted firmly on the ground while I reach for the deepest parts of me. Moving more and more away from fear and deeper and deeper into faith. Grateful.
"the world
gives you
so much pain
and here you are
making gold out of it
-there is nothing purer than that" -Rupi Kaur

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Journal Addict!!

 "One of the best-kept secrets in this technically oriented culture is that simply speaking truth heals." -  Rachel Remen, M.D.
 I love art journaling!! Always have. But lately, I have been obsessing over it, getting up in the (very) early hours of the morning to work on my pages. With no rhyme or reason...working on new and old pages as my heart and soul journaling has been consuming me full time. I think because I have been working so hard at recovery lately...spilling all my thoughts, feelings and images onto these pages is a natural extension of that. And for some soon as I open my journal and start inner critic gets kicked to the curb;! Brilliant!! Also...I love the small pages, the "no rules" mindset and combining text and image. And it has been so cathartic!! There is magic...alchemy...healing that emerges from art journaling...storytelling from the soul. 

 Now for some practical can use almost any book for art journaling. Recycled ones (I love buying used books and gluing the pages together to form a sturdy surface, applying gesso and collage and then going to town!), you can make a book yourself (love watercolor pages cut to size) ...the options are endless. I prefer a book without too many seems less daunting that way. And I tend to like to name each of my journals. It works for me because they represent a certain theme or time period but one of the beauties of (art) journaling is that anything goes. 

And I have recently tried out these Derwent Ink Blocks which I love and adore. There are so many different ways to use them (water soluble and can mix with oils!), rich colors and gorgeous tones. A whole other blog post on my fave. art supplies coming up!!