Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Shift from Artwork to Soul Work

I had an epiphany today. You know how I like to have those.
But this one is grand and sacred. It feels way too big to write about right now. It feels too big to take on in the midst of purging and packing and preparing for a new job. But I promised myself I would try, because it is the last day of this epic year. And because I know that every breath I take from now on will be changed by this knowing.

I feel like my 2013 was divided into two even halves.
The artwork and the soul work. That was the realization I had today while doing my end-of-the-year reflection that led to the grand epiphany.

Of course there was spill-over on both sides, but the beginning of the year up until the culmination of my 365 Days of Creative project was marked by the intent to make something specific every day.  The second half of the year, starting almost immediately after my 365 celebration, there was a clear shift.

The need to go and do was replaced by a need for stillness and turning inward. There was less making and more being. But all the while making myself, you see.

Perhaps I was too busy planning and controlling outcomes to heed the call before, but when the work was done, when the one creative commitment was met, I embarked on another: soul work.
Soul work seeped into my efforts to reflect on my process more than it ever had before. 

It was not at all a deliberate. In fact, it went completely against my plans to make crazy amounts of art this past Summer, and totally derailed another massive project I had intended to start in the Fall. In the past, this would have gotten me down, but it's as if my soul knew this was the next phase of my learning. I decided to cooperate with my soul's yearnings. I got better at silencing my inner critic. I just accepted that it needed to happen. It was the ultimate practice in surrender and it unfolded perfectly. 

Soul work and spiritual discovery got my serious, undivided attention for the first time in my adult life.
I let my art tools collect dust so that I could go out into the open air and collect experiences and images that made my heart feel peaceful. I spent more time in nature moving my body, and the poetic reflections spilled out of me, one after another. I showed up on my yoga mat more than at my art desk. My daily blog musings turned into occasional check-ins as my soul spilled out more honestly than it ever had in my personal journal through both writing and visioning. I filled page after page, morning after morning with the whispers of my heart. I wrote notes to myself that seemed to come from someplace sacred and bigger than me. I was observant and noticed the signs that the Universe offered to affirm that I was on the right path. I met random strangers and made new friends who echoed it back to me, and I took the time to talk with them. Books fell into my hands with just the affirming words I needed to read and I allowed myself the time to read them.

I set aside my ambitions and trusted instead my intuition. I knew in my gut that I needed to step back from my going and doing. I didn't make art every day, but I made art of my everyday truths- whatever was important in the moment. I did not judge my creative acts. I let them come when they wanted, how they wanted. I breathed in my blessings and harvested my lessons learned. I committed and connected in an entirely new way.

I was true to myself.
I was patient.
I was a vessel for what needed to spill forth, and spill forth it did.
Creating became about getting to know myself better.

I found so much peace in the knowing that I don't have to have it all figured out, and that I don't have to try to get it all done right now. That I have divine help and I am on the perfect path at the perfect time.
It has been a very sacred time in my life.
A game changer. 

Why was this chapter written into my life? Why did it coincide so perfectly with the end of my 365?
I know now it's because I needed it. I needed it to help me continue on my journey. I love that it happened this way. I love that creativity was the impetus for such a beautiful, natural evolution of my spiritual life. I am so looking forward to continuing the journey in 2014, both the spiritual one and the creative one, and now I know that I can travel both simultaneously- and mindfully.

I will now travel with the knowledge that for myself as an artist, hands at heart center are just as necessary as hand on paint brush. 

And from all of this, as I sit in my bathrobe, today's to-do list a wash, but feeling like I found the day's meaning in another more powerful way, this epiphany comes into focus: 

The source of divine energy that I connect with when I give thanks for my blessings or seek answers to my life's questions is the same source of divine energy that fuels my creative fire. My creative practice and my spiritual practice have become one and the same.

I have a lump in my throat as I write this because I'm quite sure it's one of the most important realizations I have made as an artist, as a growing soul. It feels like remembering something that I knew a long long time ago. Maybe before I was born. It's the truth I came here with and I'm slowly learning to live that truth.

When you look back on your year, was there a distinct shift? A turning point? Can you follow the breadcrumbs of creative evidence to the evolution of your soul?

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Roller Coaster Creative Year

Belmont Park ~ Mission Bay, San Diego
Apparently I am just the right height to ride this roller coaster I like to call the creative process.

FACT: We are all the right height to ride this ride.

It's that time of year again when I like to reflect on accomplishments and lessons learned, and to prepare for growth in the new year. I intend to keep up the tradition of creating an art journal page for each year's greatest lessons. This is a very timely distraction from a rather daunting transition that I'm preparing for. I needed a break. So I sit with my tea and old art journals revisiting my lessons learned from 2011 and 2012. I scroll through this year's blog posts gleaning out aha moments. Man am I glad I wrote it all down!

This year's reflection feels especially significant. I am seeing strong connections between lessons learned in my creative practice- the art and writing- and lessons learned in my creative life- as in creating my life. Ah, that's where the magic happens.

Reflecting back on my journey is like looking at a roller coaster from afar, where you can make out the slope of the tracks and predict the drops and twists and turns. This is hindsight, of course. Honestly though, I don't think I would have done much differently. My revelations came when they needed to, usually through those unexpected twists and turns. Mistakes were lessons, as always.

My 365 Days of Creative journey that began the summer of 2012 and ended this past summer, and the unexpected (but beautifully timed) spiritual journey that I embarked on after were both very much like riding that roller coaster- in the most thrilling, exhilarating, stomach flipping ways.

I've been on this creative process/creative life roller coaster long enough to know that there will be ups and downs (and loopty-loops even). And I know from experience, the downs make the ups more thrilling. The ups make the downs worthwhile. And that's where the lessons are this year.

This is creative gravity, people. It's the real deal!

So what do you say? Are you up for the ride?

I dare you to try it. Arms up, eyes wide.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Every Blade of Grass

Every blade of grass has its Angel 
that bends over it 
and whispers, 
"Grow, grow."
                                                                                            - THE TALMUD

Can you hear your Angel whispering?
Nudging you to grow
Towards your greatness,
Towards your light?

I wonder, can you hear her?
And does it send chills down your spine?

These days, for me, the whispers are getting louder
and louder still.
And when I take a moment to acknowledge
that I am surrounded
by angels and guides and great sources of inspiration
who know far more than me
how this will all play out,
I feel a sense of peace
deep down to my core.

The chill down my spine is my intuition waking.
Small miracles stir in my subconscious.

If I were a blade of grass
I'd be unfurling, 
reaching skyward
to answer the call.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Darkest Day of the Year

It is the darkest day of the year,
and also the day the light starts to turn.

We have been to this place, and will soon come out the other side.
But while we're here, why not embrace the darkness?
It's part of who we are, what we are going through. 

"Far too often we fear the dark and adore only the light." 
                                                                                       ~Joyce Rupp

On this Winter Solstice, I sit with my fears, my failures, my shortcomings, my disappointments.
I acknowledge them. I take ownership. I know it is healthier to do the soulwork, even the difficult kind, than to slap a smile on and pretend I'm over it. The truth is, I will be over it soon enough. But in this time of closing one year and opening into a new one, I believe it's important to reflect on what didn't go our way, to process and find closure on our failures so we don't need to bring the heavy feelings into the new year. This way we can transmute the failure into learning.

The learning, the revelations, the successes- they will be the focus in days to come.
But I owe it to myself- my whole self- to explore the dark parts too.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Spread Tired Wings With New Hope

I listened in on a Winter Solstice Ritual through livestream tonight, on the eve of the Winter Solstice. Just in time for my tired soul. This night marked the beginning of a gentle release of 2013 that I will be in the process of over the next few weeks, and helped me shift my focus in a positive way. I've decided that this January, resolution setting will be replaced by time for dreaming. Ah, dreaming up a fresh new year. Doesn't that sound lovely?

As I begin to reflect on the soulwork I will be doing (and on some big changes in store for me), these words shared in the livestream by Shiloh Sophia McCloud are tugging at my heart and lifting me up.

"What is calling from within you to be expressed? Go there. Remember, it won’t feel safe to go there most of the time.  Extend yourself into the distances you cannot see. Move in Love as you spread tired wings with new hope."

"You cannot see it before you leap, it is only visible during flight."

Visit here to love on the full text, which came out of a very special process where Shiloh allows her painting to speak to her. I can totally dream this process into my 2014!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Moment in Between

The moment in between...
Late Autumn and early Winter,
Branch releasing leaf and leaf touching down to earth,

The moment in between inhale and exhale of a conscious breath,
The impulse between thought and word,
The soft spinning sound between needle on record and the sly first note,

The striving for clarity between blur and focus,
The disequilibrium between not knowing and precious understanding,
The eerie calm between acknowledgement and surrender,

The quickening pulse between decision and action,
The quivering footstep between comfort zone and wild unknown,
The unfurling of fingers, of wills, between clenching tight to the familiar
       and releasing what no longer serves us.

This is where life takes place. In the delicate now, in the moments in between.

This is where I find myself, making up the steps as I go along.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Foreign Territory

After the geometry homework is done, my favorite 16 year-old and I break out our art journals. I stare at the blank page. The white space feels good after a busy day. I watch her paint for a long time. She dives in without a plan. She squeezes paint from the tube right onto the page. Plastic knife, bottle cap, foil- whatever is within arms reach becomes her tool. She hums to the song on the radio and spreads paint with her fingers.

I begin to crave the colors. I begin to crave the surrender.

I use her leftovers to stamp paint onto my page in greens and bronze. My fingers find the blue, the space between. Now we are both humming to the radio. When I zoom out, it hits me- my marks resemble some kind of map. The continents, the oceans, the archipelagos all an accident.

What is this foreign territory and why did my fingers paint it?

Soon I find myself tearing paper left over from our investigations of the x and y axis. The orbs consume whole oceans and claim space on the land, much like the thoughts that have been creeping in.

There is no rhyme or reason to any of it, but somehow it makes sense in my day. It doesn't matter...and it matters, all at once. For weeks, I have been exploring foreign territory, navigating strange inner worlds all alone in my quiet moments, in my busy mind. I have been keeping these feelings to myself long enough for them to get very heavy and so very convoluted.

The paint dries. I close my art journal. I marvel at how my inner world wants to spill out through my creative process. I make a mental note to make more art soon. The unintentional kind.

There is something to this soul mapping that is worth exploring.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Staying Open

I was doing some organizing in my art space today and came across a piece of art from an activity I presented at a creative play date earlier this Fall. Somehow that one never made it into my blog. Where have the days gone? Is anyone else feeling like Labor Day turned to Christmastime with the swish of a paint brush?
acrylic & sand on canvas board

I'm remembering that afternoon, a bunch of adults playing like children, drizzling Elmer's glue onto canvas boards that were then covered with sand from right under our feet. When the sand was shaken off, the trails of glue were revealed, along with shapes of different sizes. We then set out, with tiny brushes, to fill in the fields with acrylic paint.

It was always my intention to go back and finish my piece, to fill in the rest of the fields with paint to get a stained glass effect. But looking at it today, I realized I quite like the stark white spaces in the composition. It's a nice contrast with the sand trails and other colors.

I especially liked the symbolism behind it that wants so badly to sink in today. We can not always anticipate the twists and turns that our path will take. We can not always plan everything into place. But we must trust that all the pieces of our story will fit together, no matter how disjointed they feel right now. The great unknowns will be revealed to us at the right time. Staying open is not being empty.

This is a truth I'm choosing to trust today. It's a truth I'd like to learn to live with every day. I'm not supposed to have it all figured out. Huh. Imagine that.

This piece has made its way from the bottom of a dusty pile to the front of my easel, where it can remind me of this truth, through all the twists and turns that lie ahead.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Inspirations to Affirmations

My inspired action art session from earlier this month turned into a fun (and so perfect in my life right now) idea. I'm a little behind on sharing, as I've just gotten around to part two of this project, but I am very excited at the prospect that this could be a series!

During my mark making play time I recalled a friend telling me about how she wipes excess paint off her brushes into her art journal as she paints, allowing the layers to build up on a page over time. She then uses the spontaneously colored pages in her later work, as whole backgrounds or in pieces.

This was one of those ideas I filed away in the ol' mind tank and totally forgot to put to use in my own creative practice, but my mark making session was the perfect opportunity! I had purposely avoided working on a blank canvas that night and went for some random pieces of left-over card stock. Way less intimidating and it turned out to be just the right choice for what my scissors needed to do next...

view the full original piece (and it's step by step birth) here

I was not terribly attached to this mixed media piece as a whole, despite the fun I had making it. Inspiration struck when I realized I could cut the finished piece into a "deck" of cards for all those affirming phrases I've been gathering in my journal. I've been working with affirmations lately as a way of keeping myself in a positive state of mind and empowering myself through a difficult transition. I'll share more about the process of using affirmations soon. For now, here are my first in the series. Each one written on the back of one of the cards:

~ I am willing to change and grow. 
~ I am free to make a daily effort in support of my creative life.
~ Everything I need to know is revealed to me.
~ Everything I need comes to me in the perfect time and space.
~ There is nothing I cannot be, do or have.
~ All is well in my world.

Do any of those affirming phrases resonate with you? I'm really loving my new Affirmations Deck! It's been very inspiring the past couple days to shuffle through the index card-size mini paintings, each one its own little work of art. And it's been very affirming to turn them each over and read the words that I've written.

On to the second set in the series! :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Edge and the Eve

On the edge of a sea cliff,
At the edge of the shore,
On the eve of thirty-four...

I was called here today
by my need to be closer
to that feeling
of standing at the edge of comfort zones
and great unknowns,
working up the nerve
to take that first step
with deep deep faith.

I was called here today
by my need to be closer
to that feeling
of surrender
and willingness to change
the way the shore does
at the tide,
with deep deep trust.

It was just a dress rehearsal
on the edge and the eve.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Barefoot to the Sea

Where do inspired actions (and poems) come from?
The words spilled out with every step...
Run, girl, run 
Barefoot to the sea.
Ankle deep in Autumn waves,

Stand and let it be.

Feel the tug at your feet.
Feel it on your soul.
Stand and witness nature.

Know that you are whole.

Run, girl, run
Onward towards the caves.
Stand grounded on the solid rocks
Washed smooth by salted waves.

Continue walking north, girl.
Don't question why you came.
With each step you are guided
To the next right rock, the next.

See that stone? The speckled one,
Put it in your palm.
Carry it beyond the Point.
Find solitude and calm.

Choose a rock that fits your frame,
Knees bare beneath the sun,
And sit with all the feelings
'Round the changes soon to come.

Then make your way down to the place 

Where sea and earth collide.
Gather up all fears and doubts
Brewing up inside.

Now cast the stone into the sea.

My how your soul can throw!
Drop from your heart what does not serve.
Release, make space, let go!

This is why you were led here
By instinct pure and true,
Believing that when you arrived 

You'd know just what to do.

This full moon ceremony,

A sacred act of healing,
This is the turning point, dear child,
The path ahead revealing.

The prayers you breathed into the night
I heard them loud and clear.
Your call for help is answered
Surrender all your fears.

Now sitting there with tear-stained cheeks

Drying in the sun,
Give up the fight, release it all-
You have already won

Your right to stand on solid feet
To dance on lifted toes
To rejoice the coming days
For in your heart you know

You will be carried safely back,
Just like that stone, to shore.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mark Making: Layers of Surrender

clockwise from top left: acrylic on heavy weight paper;
gesso & blue; etching; adding green with brayer roller

The other day, inspired action led me to clean my art space. A clean space called me in...

Spontaneous, playful mark making!

I had no plan. I just grabbed new colors, tools and materials as I went. One split decision led to another. I detached from the end result and surrendered to the process.

I guess I like how it turned out, but honestly, I don't even care. It just felt so good to get my hands in the paint, to spill my soul in colors and shapes on the page. It felt so good to just act without over-thinking, to be completely in the moment! It felt so easy, so free. The stress of many days melted away.

creating repetition with cork stamp; finger painting;
more etching; adding color with a palette knife

I'm not sure why I felt the need to do so at first, but ignoring the painted fingerprints all over my phone, I snapped a photo of each new mark as it was made. I documented each layer as my art began to unfold in front of me, realizing as I went that it would be the perfect thing to share here...

layers of surrender... 

collaging with scrapbook paper; adding found paper;
painting with a detail brush; rubber stamp pattern

I still have so much to learn about this whole surrendering to the processes thing, both in art and in life. Allowing myself to experience that surrender, on a small scale, somehow affirmed that I can do it on a grander scale.

Art gives me courage and faith. 

Universe, I hear you loud and clear! This is exactly why my creative practice is important!

doodling with a maker; adding lines with a plastic card;
painting highlights with an accent color; more collage

All this spontaneous play time, by way of inspired action, not only reminded me of an important lesson but also birthed a project idea which I will be sharing soon.

Thanks to the Universe for seeing the big picture and sending this inspiration my way, because I so so needed it.

Thanks to my creative spirit for answering the call.

The finished piece...

mixed media on paper 9"x10"
"Inspired Action"

Monday, November 11, 2013

Inspired Action

sneak peek of my inspired action play time
A dear creative friend of mine turned me on to the idea of inspired action recently. I haven't been making much progress on my have-to or my want-to do list lately as I've been in my usual Fall funk (with a dash of overwhelm and some self-imposed stress brought on by some big changes coming my way.) So sitting on the couch yesterday morning like the lumpiest lump, I decided to put inspired action into practice.

The super awesome part is, the first step requires self-soothing. So I went to my beloved oceanfront yoga. I rode my bike the long way home on the bay. I came home to my journal, a cup of tea and a pep-talk from my husband. (OK, I went all out, but really a nice bubble bath, a quiet walk in nature, or even just ten minutes of sitting and breathing counts as soothing. Do what works for you! I spent a lot of time stressing this week, so I knew I needed a heaping dose of self-care.)

Step 2 (equally as awesome): Let your heart guide you. What action calls to you? What desire needs fulfilling right this minute? This could be a baby step towards a goal or project, something on your to-do list, or maybe a little more self-care. It can also very likely be something random like getting the feeling that you should call a certain person or the nudge to jump in your car and drive somewhere you hadn't planned. What feels meaningful, sounds fun, intriguing or inspiring? What random thought just popped into your head? You'll know you've got your inspired action in mind when your whole body screams, "Yes, go do that right now!" It won't feel forced. It won't feel like an inappropriate use of your time. You will just know in your gut that it's the thing you need to act on to keep yourself in your happy place or to unearth something fascinating. It will be the obvious next step.

After my morning of self-care, my whole body screamed, "Go clean your art space right now!" Not totally random, but I'd been putting it off for weeks, and no art was getting done as a result. It wasn't on my list of priorities for the day, but all of a sudden the task didn't seem so tedious and I knew I had to act while I had the urge. Within ten minutes, I found myself with a clear art desk and was just itching to put it to good use. My next inspired action- to play with my paints and collage papers! And I was beside myself delighted to get an idea for my next creative project out of it! (Will share more about that soon.)

So how does inspired action work? The soothing acts of self-care will rejuvinate your spirit so your ego mind is no longer in control and attempting to take planned actions. When we make space to rejuvenate our spirits, we also clear space in our hearts for guidance. We are able to see through the overwhelm (or uninspired laziness  in some cases) and know exactly the next step to take. Doing the inspired action will energize us and will lead to the next inspired action!

"Inspired action works because your ego can only see limited terrain while the universe can see it all. It comes from the bigger picture, which you can't always see until you've taken the actions you're being inspired to take." ~Dr. Joe Vitale

This is exactly what I experienced when my new idea was born! I'm so glad I trusted my intuition.

I'd love to hear your stories of inspired action. What do you do to soothe yourself and what inspired actions has your heart guided you to? What surprising insights came from those inspired actions?

Friday, November 8, 2013

To Be Like the Shore

I sat on the beach today contemplating the impermanence of all things.
Yes, I realize there are more fun things to do at the beach, but the honest thoughts creep in when the waves drown out other sounds.

This I know:

The sun will slip behind the wet horizon.
The couple will move out of frame.
The warmth will leave the air.
What once brought us joy will shift and turn and change.

And things that are beyond our knowing will soon be illuminated.

It is a bittersweet release, this understanding.
A quickening of the heart, a resistance of the mind.
I wish I could practice graceful acceptance and unwavering faith.
Instead I morn a million losses, having grown so attached to the way things are.
The way we are. The peace and ease.

Oh, to be like the shore.
To welcome the waves and let them shape me.
Surrendering to the natural ebb and flow.
Change washing over.
Existing in a state of flux.
Oh, to be like the shore...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

With Love

photo by Rodney Bowman

You hold in your mind 
the power to envision great things.

You hold in your hands 
the energy to accomplish great things.

You hold in your heart 
the greatest thing of all. 

And with it, anything is possible.

Go with love.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Surrender to the Wilderness

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition...What you'll discover there will be wonderful. What you'll discover there will be yourself." ~Alan Alda

I am taking an e-course called Making Space for Surrender by the brilliant Hannah Marcotti. It is perfect Universal timing. I'm needing some support with surrendering to the changes that are coming my way. Yes, sh*t is about to get reeeeeal, and I'm feeling more than a little resistant. I will put it all into context for my readers soon- once I know what the actual changes will look like, but for now I'd just like to share my place on the path.

As part of the soul work for the course, we have been asked to do some visioning (think flipping through a magazine to unearth the images and words that speak to you in the moment) in response to the prompt "What is the feeling behind surrender?"

I've been staring at this magazine image for days, trying to articulate why it spoke to me, and today at the end of my yoga practice, it dawned on me. Though it's not yoga attire, that is clearly the bottom half of shavasana pose...also know as final surrender. In yoga, this pose is intended to rejuvenate body, mind and spirit at the end of a practice. It allows you to integrate your yoga practice into your daily life. I had a super delicious aha moment when I realized that my visioning and journaling around this image are allowing me to take a pose of surrender in my mind! I am done fighting against the inevitable. I am ready to integrate surrender into my life.

That image and that quote are what surrender feels like for me. Release. Letting go. Leaving the city of my comfort and trudging deep into the wilderness of my unexplored intuition. It feels like I've been hiking for too long in not-so-sensible shoes, and I've finally given up the struggle and lay down in the undergrowth. I decide to rest and allow the wild unknown to consume me. I surrender to the flow instead of fighting it.

What I know for sure (cause I'm learning it in a big way through life experience right now) is that we have to leave our comfort zone to surrender. Often, that "comfort zone" is actually a space of resistance that we fall into when presented with challenges. It is a place of familiarity and safety. But it's also completely in conflict with the flow.

Do you find yourself clinging to what feels safe and familiar? Do you catch yourself resisting change? Struggling with it? Turning it into a negative circumstance? I can answer yes to all of these questions, especially lately. Now I'd like to ask myself just one more question:

What amount of change that is out of my control, what mysteries and unanswered questions, what uncertainties must I face before I will trust that my intuition will guide me in a good orderly direction?

That is what I'll be pondering as I take off my shoes and allow myself to lay back into the wilderness,
in complete and total surrender- at least for a few deep breaths at a time.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Into a Vast Unknown

Something about this little scene stopped me in my tracks on my bike ride today.

Two kayaks sitting on the shore, side by side, primed for adventure. Potential resting on the paddles.

It reminded me of us, my love,
preparing to push off from a familiar shore into a vast unknown.

Our toes met comfort on the bay. We found such treasures here. But the tide pulls us in now, tugging softly at our dreams. It's time to find our courage and our strength. It's time to paddle out and explore.

How different life feels when we view it as an adventure rather than a series of challenges and uncertainties.

Primed for adventure, you and I, side by side. Potential resting on our hearts.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Bougainvillea and the Moon

The pup and I took a long moon walk tonight. A bright full moon and the last eclipse of the year...I needed to bathe in that celestial light, to be in that energy. It became an expedition, an evening nighttime photo walk, an effort to document my date with Mr. Moon.

In astrology, eclipses are said to encourage progress when we are feeling stuck, to create bold changes that we cannot seem to make ourselves. The full moon is a time to take action.

Any other month, I might have missed it, but this month I've been paying special attention. All signs point to changes coming, things that I cannot avoid. I've been slow in accepting it all. Perhaps this is the Universe giving me the nudge I need. Perhaps this eclipse was just for me.

Tonight I breathed in the unseasonably warm night air and contemplated surrender. I thought I had a battle cry left in me, but the howl got stuck in my throat. Instead there was a silent reverence. This is all so much bigger than me, and at the same time it's so much a part of me.

The moon walked me home and gave me these delicate ruby red flowers. We made a date for next month. Wondering where I'll be.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's the Everydays

(photo collage created with InstaCollage photo app)

Five senses that turned worry lines into laugh lines:
tart crispy apples fresh from the tree,
sweet grapes drying in the sun,
the clinking of wine glasses,
warm skin at a sunny picnic,
breathtaking views of orchards and mountains...

We soaked it all in on Sunday. We needed it. Mother Nature reminded us there's a whole lot to be grateful for. But it's not just these "perfect afternoon getaway" days that make my heart swell up with gratitude. It's the everydays with him. My shadow will always hold his shadow's hand, no matter where we go.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sage Advice from Sunflowers

There is nothing stopping you, dear child,
from being like the sunflowers:

and alive!

Trust that your energy flows
from an endless source
and sustains you
throughout your days.

When shadows fall,
turn your face to the sun.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

5 Years Time

Dusting off an old poem and piece of art in honor of our 1,825 days as husband and wife.

Happy anniversary, my love. I will never forget that barefoot walk.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

There is Calm in This

In the way the light plays on the curves,
In the richness of the hues,
In the negative space...

There is calm in this, 
and there is grace.

What simple beauty do you walk upon each day?
What treasures do you witness when your spirit sits with nature?

How does it feel to surrender your burdens
and make space for the small things that bring you great peace?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Earthly Fears and Cosmic Perspective

Last night I ate Fritos and ice cream for dinner. Yeah, I sure did.
I'd like to say it was an act of Friday night indulgent self-care, but it felt more like feeding my fear gremlins. Turns out I can't cook when I'm paralyzed by fear (oh and I sometimes turn to emotional eating).

I'll spare you the details for now, but let's just say the winds of change have been blowing through the windows of our little house the past few weeks, and I'm having a very hard time staying in the present and keeping positive thoughts in my head. Projecting my thoughts into the future always brings up unnecessary fears, anxieties and insecurities.

Our perspective on life can get terribly thrown off when we try to include a view of an uncertain future, can't it? 

So after a proper meltdown followed by nine hours of sleep, I woke up to the sun shining and a reassuring conversation with my husband. (Love that guy.) Then I baked pumpkin bread and found this quote:

"Physicists tell us that the solidity of matter is an illusion. Even seemingly solid matter, including your physical body, is nearly 100 percent empty space -- so vast are the distances between the atoms compared to their size. What is more, even inside every atom there is mostly empty space. What is left is more like a vibrational frequency than particles of solid matter, more like a musical note."
~ (Eckhart Tolle, from The Power of Now)

Wow. Let that sink in for a moment. 

Such beautiful truths never fail to amaze me and bring me a greater perspective- a cosmic perspective.  Knowing that we are all part of something so grand and so connected, that we are made of stardust and our energy vibrates like music notes- somehow it makes my current life situation and the trivialities of the human experience seem less...heavy. It helps me find peace and reason in the chaos, to feel gratitude for all the good in my life rather than dwelling on the negatives and what-ifs.

Quiet comfort seeps in today as I eat fresh-baked slices of autumn and ponder the beautiful truths of the universe.

And I vibrate at a higher frequency. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Goodbye Summer Nights

As night closes in, they climb and swing and reach with flailing feet.
They shed their summer skin without a second thought.
They do not fear the loss of light.

I stand watching pink turn to orange turn to midnight blue,
And wish I had their naive courage.

Did they notice that today the day and night were in perfect balance,
equal amounts of dark and light?
Did they shiver at the bite in the new autumn air?
Did they feel the change right down deep to their bones?

I did, I did.

Evening of the Autumn Equinox, Mission Bay San Diego

Friday, September 20, 2013

These Summer-Turning-Autumn Days

Goodness, how I get swept up,
like a freshly fallen leaf
in a September gust,
spinning madly
round some invisible force.

And after all the spinning,
all the hustle, all the running & doing
I am fallen, just fallen,
silent and tired
and beginning to dry out.

This is how it goes,
these summer-turning-autumn days:
new schedule, new routine,
and my old way of getting
so wrapped up,
so far from where I was
just a week ago
warming my toes on the boardwalk.

Autumn always has a way
of catching me off guard,
and knocking the breath
right out of me.

But this summer was a bounty of learning
and stories yet untold.
Autumn is the time to slow down and reap the lessons
that will get me through the winter chill.

There is still green life left in this.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pause, Pier, Proceed

Crystal Pier sunset, Pacific Beach
Late summer sunset stalking at the pier brings a moment of peace.

I welcome the pull of the tide at my ankles. It's a nice change from being pulled in so many other directions that aren't nearly as grounding.

Remember, remember...it only takes a moment to capture the beauty in your day, to turn inward, to reconnect with your creative spirit and to make sure that you are ultimately proceeding in your own direction.

Take your moment.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sweet Release

"Canne a Sucre" 9"x12" mixed media on sugarcane paper
acrylic, stabilo pencil, washi tape
Oh it's been a while.
And I find myself at August's end.

I'm usually fighting tooth and nail to hang on to the feeling of freedom at the end of my summer months, but this late-August night, something is different. I'm preparing for a gentle release of my favorite season.

Last night's painting was a long-overdue sweet release of pent up emotions. A play between bright growing energy and calm surrender. Busy foregrounds, like the life that unfolds before my eyes each day, and in the background a soft soul comes into focus.

There has been much focus on my soul these days. There has been careful balancing of energy and peace...but more on that later.

Spreading paint, making marks, finding forms, welcoming visions, playing with line and shape...I couldn't have planned this. It just needed to come out.

A sweet release on sugarcane.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Thing About Introductions

Pat on the back for me. I finally got around to changing that mile-long personal intro that took up the entire right side of the screen on my blog. I hadn't actually read it in months and when I did tonight, it seemed...um, wordy? And, somehow, not all that telling.

I am admittedly long-winded. Maybe in an effort to be understood in a hey-here's-everything-you-need-to-know-about-me-so-we-can-get-on-with-doing-some-deeper-learning-together kind of way.
I do think we all deserve to be heard and honored for who we are, even if we're not completely understood or agreed with. I think that's where a lot of this sharing of myself stems from.

I'll also admit, I'm a sucker for mini-milestones on this journey of growing into myself, which is why I felt it necessary to create a whole blog post about this, rather than just slyly making the change.
I hope to look back on this revision someday with a smile and think, "Well, look at that. Mila learn."

Yes, I am experiencing some big shifts these days and I'm finding that the more I try to explain myself, the more I talk myself into a tight box. That's the thing about introductions. I'm learning that the "truth" about who I am may continue to be a mystery to me for a while. And that mystery needs room to spread out and do its thing.

But I do know this:

I am a girl on the verge. I am an absolute beginner. Life is my art and my creative process. 
This is the evolution of my soul in pictures and paint and words.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Oceanfront yoga was beautiful today. Sylvia, a new teacher, led our small group. She reminded us to bring awareness to our spirit. That was my intention. I was so connected to my breath, so aware of every movement of my body. My mind did not wander like it usually does. I didn't even catch myself thinking ahead to what I wanted to get done today. I just stayed in the moment, in my practice, in the sun- fully open to receiving the gifts of this day.

On the bike ride home, I decided to take the long way back around the bay. The usually crowded boardwalk was a clear path in front of my tire. I didn't hurry. I just pedaled rhythmically, noticing the sun on my knees, the sound of the waves, the smell of the jade flowers mixing with the salty air.

As I rounded the first bend on the path home, passing a familiar orange house, I noticed there was something written in chalk on the entryway fence:

"Relax, God is in control."

Another timely message from a kind Universe. 
Just this morning, I was lying in bed considering how different my experience at this point on my path would be if I released control, if I slowed down my search for answers and solutions and took time to listen to my heart.

I have moments of understanding with this and have written about living this way, but in my day-to-day I find myself reacting with agitation to the feeling of time hurling forward. I find myself gripping, slipping into holding patterns, having unreasonable expectations and self-imposed anxieties. I hold so firmly to what I want to accomplish, ignoring pleas from my soul to slow down, letting ambition cloud my experience. All in an effort to control the outcome.

This is not how I want to live! Now or in my future.

Perhaps this is why I've been so slow to learn from my "aha" moments. I have yet to fully understand how to gently hold my vision, faithfully nurture my creative dreams and continue boldly on my path- while surrendering control and letting my life unfold the way it is meant to.

Somewhere along the way, I got it into my head that I am the maker of my destiny, that I am solely responsible for my happy life, that it's all up to me to create this experience.

When did I forget the truth?

Today I acknowledged, with a deep sigh of relief, a softening in my chest, and a few soul-lifting tears:

I am a maker,

but I am not THE Maker.

And just like that,

a shift occurs,

and it becomes easy, like Sunday morning.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Running Through the Sprinklers

It's that six year-old instinct that kicks in-
Spontaneous, wild and free.
It catches me off guard sometimes,
But I invite it and allow it

Today on my solo jog to the bay, while my husband slept off a late night at work,
I decided to take a new path through the grass.
I tend to take new paths when I'm alone.
I'm not a creature of habit when it comes to my wanderings.

The energy began to build under my feet,
With each rise and fall of my running shoes.
I heard it before I saw them-
The swish swish swish of the massive sprinklers at the south end of the park.
It was a split second decision.
And a good one.
I ran a nice distance with cool sprays of water coming at me from every angle.
There was much squealing involved.
Soon my soul was drenched and blissful.

This is what it's like to be baptised
In joy.

These are the simple moments that I feel so alive
That I could just burst open
And send energy shooting in every direction.

The energy stays with me all day.
It is my shadow on the jog home.
It is the words spilling out onto the page.
It is the orange paint across the canvas.
It is the brave ideas that flow like water as I make the bed and feed the dog.

It is available to me- to all of us- any time we choose.

And it's as simple as taking a run through the sprinklers,
Or however you choose to answer
The call of your inner six-year old's heart.

Pray tell, my friend. How do you tap into your energy?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Of Tea and Lacking

Dear Tea,

Tell me something I don't know...

Holding out for guidance tonight. It's hard to trust my wavering instincts when my logical brain keeps trying to get in the way. I think I know, and then I don't know all over again.

Time to sip warm tea and reread this morning's journal ramblings when I had it all figured out.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Timely Messages from a Kind Universe

I felt a tug today to visit the ocean. I don't surf or do much swimming or sun bathing, but a walk at the edge of the Pacific helps my soul connect with nature in a big way. While there, I spotted these rock cairns. I've been seeing these little intentional rock piles everywhere lately: from motifs in art and pictures in magazines, to actual cairns in nature- around my neighborhood and some wilder areas.

Today they really stopped me in my tracks, these five well-balanced pillars. I got the sense that they might represent something special for me, and I liked their silhouettes against the pale gray sky. So I sat with my knees in the sand, bent low to photograph them. The beach was fairly busy, but I felt a stillness and peace sitting with the cairns. I felt more grounded than I have in days.

Hikers often use rock cairns for marking trails or defining paths- that much I knew. Whoever left these cairns on the sandy cliff overlooking the beach may have just been playing with the rocks they found there. Once home, I decided it was time to do a little research on the symbolism of cairns, since the universe has been intent on presenting them to me so consistently this summer. What I found spoke to me- big time!

According to Amy Solomonson at Infinity Foundation, for thousands of years, these "spiritual journey markers" have represented the strength, history and endurance that is available to us as we contemplate the next step on our own personal journeys. [They] "symbolize how ultimately the puzzle pieces of our story will balance with faith, patience and time."

Ah yeeees
! So maybe I'm reading into it, but it feels like a nice foothold of hope for the state I've been in this summer- unsure of my next step in my creative life, feeling a little lost about which direction to go in, and trying through it all to be patient and trust that it will all be revealed to me in due time.

I think being open to the messages the universe sends us (both the grand and the subtle) is very much about spotting the signs and perhaps reading into them a bit. When we are open to it, the universe reveals what we've known deep down all along, right when we most need it echoed back to us. Today that affirming message brought comfort. I am reminded that my creative life is a journey. Journeys do not imply clear destinations. Even from this stuck point, at least I know I'm on my path, and I feel hopeful that the pieces of my story will come together.

I've decided that I'll start erecting little rock cairns along the way, to pass on the symbolism for some other traveler in need of a timely message from a kind universe.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Contemplating Closure

a break in the fence
I've spent many quiet, solitary days in reflection over the last few weeks, and while it hasn't been especially productive in the painterly way, I continue to feel like I'm making progress on my creative life.

I'm finally feeling more of an urge to reread old blog posts from my year of creativity. It's been a slow, but happily enlightening process. I didn't realize that could be what was missing as I went from being totally consumed by a daily creative project to being in a state of "now what do I do with myself?"
Suddenly there is a sense of closure (though slightly bittersweet), and I feel as if I may be getting closer to articulating what I learned in the past year of mindful creating.

I get the sense that this was mostly just interesting and important to me, and perhaps to a few fellow travelers of the creative path, but still I'm so glad I documented the journey. It's how I made sense of things, and now I can sit back and witness the evolution of my 365 Days of Creative...and the evolution of my creative soul.

I keep thinking: I'm so glad I wrote down that thought and snapped that photo and painted that picture! I have in my possession the artifacts of a year in the life of my creative spirit. Among the artifacts are poems, photographs, artful expressions in a mix of medias, and personal essays about my creative process. It was all born from authentic creating, from trial and error, from the voice of a wide-eyed beginner. Sometimes I don't even recognize my own voice, my own thoughts. "Wow! I had that epiphany?! Gosh I'm deep," I joke to myself.

Now, my big questions are, what do I do with all the by-products of my creative year- the learning that came from the creations? And do I really want this bittersweet closure?

There is a slight ache in my heart from the feeling of detachment from that prolifically creative me that thrived on making art of my everyday. 
Is this really something I want to close the lid on? I feel like there is a way back down that rabbit hole if I want it- a break in the fence that I can slip through.

I can't help but feel deep down in my gut (even without much evidence in my mind), this is more of a beginning than an ending...
and not so much a closing, but a great big opening of possibilities.