My He(ART)-Full Life

Friday, December 12, 2014

"I can't breathe"

                                 (a watercolor portrait I painted of Tim a few years ago-a birthday gift)
 In light of the recent events right here in America-the no indictment rulings in both Ferguson + Staten Island as well as the state sanctioned murder of Tamir Rice -I am writing this post. I have no platitudes to offer, no wise and poetic quote or words strung together like so many empty promises. What I have is the crystallization of fury, heartbroken cries of pain...bitterness. I have fallen into an abyss of despair. "I can't breathe."
I have struggled these past many weeks to not allow hate + blind rage to conquer pieces of my heart...and I have failed as many times. The recent string of high profile killings of African American (mostly) males (too numerous to mention) has seemed to bring out the best + worst in us. There are people who think that talking about race equals racism, there are people who think that avoiding talking about these social (in)justice issues is the best way to navigate these dangerous waters...and there are those who think that none of this has anything at all to do with race. It makes people uncomfortable...all this talking about race. And sometimes...their discomfort turns to fear + anger. There has been so much victim blaming, vitriol...and sheer hate + has left me gasping for air. "I can't breathe."
 And so now...I am trying to piece together a way forward for my family. How do I raise my daughter to be a proud American while still educating her about the reality that her life simply is not worth the same in these here United States? How do I clap + cheer and have my heart bursting with pride as Tara recites the Pledge of Allegiance...while having another part of my heart completely shatter to pieces? How do I try to encourage my husband when he talks to me about how, all his life, he's played by the rules whilst knowing...that the rules don't apply to him? How to I still my fear that, at anytime we are out in public...he may be the target of unfounded fear + hate? Sure...he's a United States Marine, an Officer at that...but also... a large Black man. I don't have the privilege + luxury of allowing complacency + silence to seduce me. Sometimes...I wish I seems so much easier. it? There are so many great books + articles written on the systemic issues of racism, on the confluence of societal and personal beliefs and biases that is deeply rooted in America, on race as social construct...on and on. But can any one of those books explain why a police officer would gun down a 12 year old child and then refuse him first aid as he lays there dying? Can any book explain what Tamir Rice must have experienced as he lay there wounded....gasping for air? Are enough of us in this society okay with this to allow it to go as usual. "I can't breathe"
My sweet friend from across the pond sent me an e-mail the other day...and her deeply profound words of wisdom and heartfelt compassion + understanding gave me so much comfort. I want to share some of her message here
"...keep lighting the candles and making the art and telling the stories and showing Tara the truth that it is hard to be a loving, giving, heartfelt soul-true person in this messed up world, but we stay true to our dreams and do what we can, and allow ourselves time out from what we cannot do, but always leave a corner for hope and the universe to be bigger than us and humanity to have more answers than we can individually find, and to honor the answers we do find... and to make community whenever and wherever we can...
including across the sea, with friends we meet on wings ;)"
Thank you sweet lady Dee, and to all the other kindnesses + community I have received these past few weeks; it has made a profound difference. xxx

Monday, November 17, 2014

transformations + embracing our "beautiful mess" (notes from the journey)

 “As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It’s not as wide as you think.”
                                                                                                          - Joseph Campbell
 There have been transformations happening over here...budding changes that are happening in the tiniest of ways; and I am trusting my process wholeheartedly. With surrender + faith (my 2 words for the year, can you believe?). I used to be so frustrated and dejected that changes weren't happening faster...that I seemed to be doing everything I was "supposed" to do...but now I am stepping into my own rhythm of healing which occurs at our own pace. I have been writing pages + pages and pages...(amounting to books, really) and am really going way back deep into the recesses of my childhood. I am examining the lies upon lies upon lies...layers of deceit and transgressions and starting to truly bring them to the light. Questioning not only "Family of Origin" lies but cultural and multi-generational ones too. And it has been cathartic and exhausting and revealing ...and I've only just begun!!! It's a huge tangled mess that has depended on complacency, denial and feigned or real ignorance for it's very survival. And I am validating my experiences...the staggering damages that were incurred. I am examining my (false) survival programs/belief systems (otherwise known as fears, insecurities + shame) that I so desperately needed in childhood...but which now, no longer serve me in any way; they need to be brought to light also. I realize that I own my stories, my experiences, my journey...and I am going to claim it. Fully...wholeheartedly, with truth, compassion and self love. And what I am discovering is that each tiny act of courage leads to an expansion of self and acts of synchronicity that I am ever so grateful for.

I'm also beginning to realize that I don't have to "have everything together"...who does???:) But I am starting to truly "get this" on a deeper level. Not even striving for balance...but going with the flow. Not obsessing about whether things will be coherent ...but accepting that it's okay to be a "beautiful mess". In Elizabeth Gilbert so eloquently talks embracing my "beautiful mess"...celebrating it!!! Deep breath to that empowering point of view:) *See what I mean about really small shifts in perspectives = ginormous transformations??? Now that I have stopped chasing "balance" I have more energy to be present. Now that have stopped seeking things externally ...I can make the inner journey. Huge, huge and huge...makes me feel so filled with joy, I can't stop smiling:)

 "Now I become myself. It's taken time, many years and places..."
                                                                                                   -May Sarton
 As much as I have been excavating truth ...I have also been practicing self care. So so important...focusing on things that strengthen me, fill me up with joy and connect me to my deeper self.  Long photo walks (by myself or with Tara), painting, doll-making, juicing, journaling, yoga, reading poetry, practicing...being-ness. And the best part about self-care...(besides the fact that it feels so good) is that not only do I reap the benefits but everyone in my life does too. And Tara is learning , by example, the importance of caring for the self. Win/win/win.


“The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.” ~ Nietszche
  More soon! xxx

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

notes from the journey...2

 "All that you are seeking is also seeking you. If you sit still it will find you. It has been waiting for you for a long time." -Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes (WWRWTW)
My healing journey has been unfolding at it's own pace...often taking me to places I prefer not to go...but desperately need to. Where are these places? These places are dark and shrouded in childhood, my past, mySELF. It's taking me to seeing (really seeing) things as they truly are...not as I would have liked them to be, not as I was told they were...but truth...raw and real has left me wanting to crawl back into the darkness. But the funny thing is...once you initiate the journey to can't turn back; you can't "un-see" what you see or "un-know" what you know. And another "funny" thing is...they are things you have always deep down known...but decided to hide from yourSELF. Either because you had to in order to physically and psychologically survive your environment...or because it was simply too painful to bring out into the light. But we know...we deep down know. Our body knows, our intuition knows...our very being simply knows. And trusting ourSELVES with what we know is often a first step in healing and empowerment. Deeply listening, honoring and giving voice to our experiences can be the first step to healing.

 “We are not what happened to us,
we are what we wish to become.”-
C.G. Jung

  And so, right now, my healing journey has taken me to confronting my shadow. It's difficult and...I don't want to do it. terrifies me. Which is why I know...this is exactly what I need to be doing. I came across this fearlessly authentic book where Alyce Barry talks (with so much detailed honesty) about her own journey...and it has given me courage to do this work also. It's difficult...and I want to give up every step of the way. Which is exactly why, I deep down know... I must not.

"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes."
                                                                                                                    -Walt Whitman

 "I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. 
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable, beautiful and afraid of nothing, 
as though I had wings."
                                                    Mary Oliver
 And the very best reasons that keep me moving forward, inward and toward the light? Right here, right here...right here. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

around here lately...

This is my latest Painted Paper Doll in the making and you guys, I simply can't explain how absolutely wonderful this class is...not only for my creativity and painting...but for my soul. I can just see myself making so many of these beautiful dolls because each one has her very own personality...her very own story to share. And I have no idea how they are going to turn out...only that each one is just so special. This lady right here is coming together in the most delightful way...swoon. I can't thank the wonderful Danielle Daniel enough for sharing her gifts with us in this class.

And we've been making time for play, self care and reflection over here. Reading, journaling, photowalks, tea drinking and practicing mindfulness are priorities. That and exercise, drinking water + going to bed early:) I find that when I fit in 15-20 mins. throughout the day for self care...everything just goes more smoothly. And the best part??? I don't feel guilty for taking some time for myself anymore!

I love to cook! I adore cookbooks, shopping for exotic spices and international cuisine. Just the thought of saffron, cardamom and smoked serrano chilli power make me a little giddy with joy. But after becoming a mom...I just didn't have as much time to devote to cooking . But now that Tara is in school...I prepare the difficult stuff and then get her to help me with the easier parts when she gets home. Not only does she love being my little kitchen helper...but she's also more likely to want to eat the food she cooks!!! Win/win. And I recently read up on everyday gourmet...where just a few unexpected items (lime, Saigon cinnamon or a splash of vanilla) can turn ordinary into...zing! Everyday gourmet is really a mindset...where even the most simple dish can be turned into something fab. Loving this concept!

The outdoors is simply spectacular this time of year over here...the trees are ablaze in washes of orange, reds and golds. The mountains stand guard around us lofty...and grand. And the skies are ever moody in dark grays and smoky blues. Colorado in the fall is gorgeous  and reminds me so much of Alberta...especially Banff. 
This is Tara's reading nook...and if I could fit in this cozy space...I would pretty much live here!! She loves perusing through her books or writing me or Tim love notes...swoon. A lot of big girl changes to her bedroom...gone are the days when I could decorate to my heart's content. She has very definite ideas of the way she wants things. All part of her growing up, gaining some independence and wanting to make her space her own. So proud of my girl.  

Tim and I have been making time for date nights once or twice a week. Just some time when we can get out of mommy/daddy mode and connect about our days and dreams. Where we can chat and laugh and have a glass of wine. So look forward to these evenings.

Tara loves these Feelings Flashcards by Todd Parr right here. There are so many new (and often overwhelming) experiences for her since starting school...and these cards are so helpful in getting her to open up about her emotional world. We love the simple, delightful and colorful illustrations; they have made such a huge difference! Can't recommend them enough.

And this is my sweet girl the other day...early in the morning right before going off to school. She is full of sass and pizazz and giggles. She loves to do math, tell stories and oh!...simply be adorable:)  I can't believe that she will turn 6 in a few months...savoring these moments. All of them. And that's some of our life around here lately. xxx

Monday, October 13, 2014

synchronocity, painted paper dolls and a life made by hand: some ramblings

 "When women reassert their relationship with the wildish nature, they are gifted with a permanent and internal watcher, a knower, a visionary, an oracle, an inspiratrice, an intuitive, a maker, a creator, an inventor, and a listener who guide, suggest and urge vibrant life in the inner and outer life."        -Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
 When the awesome + talented Danielle Daniel offered her Painted Paper Doll class I immediately knew that I had to take it; it simply spoke to my soul. It wasn't because it would help my art or creativity or any of simply called out to my soul and I listened. It was a little intimidating to think of venturing into papier mache...I had never done it before and it's totally out of my realm of experience. I had seen her impossibly sweet + precious little dolls and swooned over them but thought...impossible!!! I can't do that! But I signed up anyway. here's the story of what happened. Her class started last Monday and just the day before I had picked up Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes audio tape of The Red Shoes from the library. As I sat to make my doll at my studio table...I listened to Dr. Estes talk about recovery of the soul and a "life made by hand". It seemed quite extraordinary but totally normal all at once...but everything she was talking about completely and utterly echoed what I was doing with my doll. I felt caught in that magical space of synchronicity where everything feels free and easy and flows from a place that is vast and untouchable. A space that is all at once scared yet accessible to us all once we let go and trust our intuition; our wiser all knowing self that speaks to us in myriad ways both large and small. I was riding this huge wave of absolute joy...making my paper doll and knowing that the Universe was affirming me; it felt so good!! 
Then...because there are stage to making the doll with allowing the glue to dry etc...I had a whole story planned out for this girl. But when I woke up on October 10...I heard that Malala Yousafzai had won the Nobel!!! Okay...after I cried my eyes doll took on a life of her Girl Rising. Totally inspired by girls all over the world who are denied their basic rights (to food,medicine, education) and sometimes...their very lives (gendercide). These children are sold into prostitution, child labor or child marriage and their very lives are disposable. Entire childhoods are eradicated and souls are destroyed all because the overculture deems that girls are not equal to boys.How many of these children are lost...we will never know. Yet still...out of all this muck and violence...there are girls who rise. Girls who defeat the odds and follow their hearts...who speak up and remain true to themselves and their calling. There are girls who say "NO!!! I will not be silenced and reduced"... they rise.

 I am seriously loving this class you guys...and absolutely and wholeheartedly recommend you taking it if you feel it calling to your soul...if it speaks to you in some way. Daniel's videos are so easy to follow and her class materials are so minimal you could actually find most of it at home! I am totally loving my dolls and the entire process...and the best part?? It's simply so much fun!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

published!! (Somerset Studio Art Journaling mag, Autumn 2014)

 “We all begin the process before we are ready, before we are strong enough, before we know enough; we begin a dialogue with thoughts and feelings that both tickle and thunder within us. We respond before we know how to speak the language, before we know all the answers, and before we know exactly to whom we are speaking.” 
                                                                                                        - Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
 Friends...I have some great news to share...I have been published in the Autumn issue of Somerset Studio Art Journaling mag!!!! I am so very very grateful to Amber Demien (editor) as well as the lovely ladies at Invincible Heart Co. for making this all come together.  I am so grateful and honored to have an 8 page spread! For me, art journaling is a sacred space to pour out all of my soul...all of my fears, insecurities, vulnerabilities as well as joys and happiness mingle on these pages and create a path to healing and creative expression. I never know what's going to emerge (and isn't that half the fun?).

The story behind this little "Spirit" journal is this right was earlier on this year when I felt a deep pull toward both my creative life as well as full time mothering. While I knew that Tara was going to be starting full time Kinder in the fall and I would have plenty of time for art making was still so difficult to put my creative life on hold. I think so many of us moms struggle with that. Anyways...I was contacted by the lovely ladies at Invincible Heart Co. and started working with their creative kit...oh my!!!! My creative juices were jump started and ...I poured all of it into this little journal. I turned toward my real life my very ordinary life paled in comparison to other artists who were flying here and there to exotic locales to either teach or attend a workshop/retreat etc etc. How even though I was so very fortunate and grateful to witness my daughter growing, to spend this time with another part of me yearned to have the time to create blog more, to paint more, to write more. It was a continual struggle.

But through the very cathartic process of spilling my truth onto these pages...I found a path forward. I elevated my mundane reality to that which was worthy of inspiring my creativity. I started to see the whole rather than this one part of my journey...where all the strings + strands, all the people + experiences of our lives come together to form the beauty of the whole. I began to see that nothing, absolutely nothing, is ever lost. Everything has meaning and the seeds from which greater things will bloom...our stories, our art...our very lives. As I went through my pages...combining words and images I began to feel stronger, more whole...more empowered.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I believe in magic

  “You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.

 After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.
That’s what I believe.

The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens.

These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.” 
                                                                      -Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
 I came across this sterling piece of truth last week and have been reading it over and over again. It resonates with me on every level so I printed it up and pinned it on my studio wall. I always want to be reminded of the magic that lives inside of harness this magic, revel in it and claim it as my birthright. I want Tara to always know her magic...deep and true...on every level of her precious being. I see how my magic (as for so many of us) has been lost, discarded and devalued as we stepping into other people's ideas of who we should be, of how we should act, live and exist.  

And so...we are practicing living in magic...breathing it, painting it, reading it and believing in it. Magic is what we are made of, I am deeply convinced. It is that thing called courage + spirit + hope all mixed in together with our stories to create the deepest parts of who we are.