Bloom with Me Hand in Hand

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

All for one and one for all...

Three Musketeers Watching Sunset on Fitton Green sharpie and oil pastel

“All for one and one for all.” 

I thought I would bid farewell to these 29 days with me and my girls taking in the sunset atop one of my favorite views.

This was drawn at a time when our little threesome became my sense of home and identity, and having these little ones, now big, by my side has given my life meaning and purpose, and has changed me in every way that is good.

This is how I want to go out, in the end, like watching the sunset with my girls--feeling the warm glow casting itself around the valley, lighting up eyelashes and strands of angel hair, until the light recedes and is no more.

Thank you to those who joined me on this journey. The gifts have been all mine-- to share my creations and to be met with such tender love and kindness. I honor you all as fellow creators and humans on the journey. It is a joy to call you friends.

I can't wait to be on the receiving end of your creations, and to keep a life-long sharing of our hearts and souls in creative reverie.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sketches that I couldn't bring myself to throw away...

Little Boy in Pajamas by me

Fairy-mom, girl and baby in a basket pencil by me

I never could quite let these sketches go. The characters felt like they were alive somewhere...or at the least, friends.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Big Red Bow & Boat

Big Red Bow Woman and Boat at Night sharpie by me

The next installment in a boat series, I guess. I just loved drawing this one. It just sort of appeared one day, and I loved the hues. Thanks Sharpie, for mixing up some alluring colors for me.

It didn't start out as night, but thanks to a sharpie mishap... but I am coming to ADORE those mishaps, because my favorite part of this little drawing is that it is night!

I also love drawing these women from behind with big bows. I love the mystery of whether the boat is coming in or going out. Perhaps it is all those Victoria Holt novels I read as a girl. Thanks mom!

It is fun to just enjoy looking at art I've created, not because they are good, but because they evoke something for me in my experience--something that just feels simply a little bit more alive--tiny sparks of wonder that make me feel curious about this human existence, and our desire to create--something wordless. Sometimes I think it is the closest way that I get to brush up to my personal experience as a human. Because it is me interacting with me, perhaps there is less reading and interpreting my experience through my interactions and projections of others or the world. It is just me and my art, and we know our process. We know what we've been through. We know the ritual behind the making--the walking into the unknown unprepared, and going anyway. Of course, perhaps I feel this inimacy with regard to making art, because I don't feel attached to it being good. I do not feel this free with creative writing or piano. There is more perfect needed--but what if the process of even those could just be way more fun in the getting to 'perfect.'? This is the possibility that I wish to explore!!

It has been very freeing to get to feel this sweet tenderness toward my art. As a classical pianist, I was so hyper aware of my imperfections, I didn't let myself just fall in love with pieces I was playing, or have fun making my way toward a pretty perfect rendering. It was very different.

Art is very much changing me as a person and a pianist. I desire that my students take note of NOW, and enjoy the music they are learning now, embrace themselves as the musicians the are now, even in book 1, and worry less about perfection, and more about showing up and learning what is next, and experimenting, creating, challenging themselves to get better and to put the time in, and of course, to share their experience and to receive the sharing of others.

I guess that is why this 29-day art sharing has been so important for me not to shirk. I am not a great artist, and I see that, but I don't need to be. I am practicing what I preach to my students, that we are here to share these great experiments in learning and performing, right where we are in our process of learning and growing.

It feels so wonderfully silly that I made up this show'n'tell, but it has been a blessed event for me to be coming here every day, and sharing imperfect works, that feel pretty perfect to me, just as they are. It makes me excited to travel down the road to what wants to be next.

What another world that would be, if we just all felt this way about our creations and each others'. If we just allowed for this. And this wouldn't mean that very fine and high art wouldn't still exist. It would all just be more fun! And I believe there would be more awe, because if I've noticed anything, it is that being in the creative process changes how I experience the art of others. I have much more respect for the time it takes, the focus, the decisiveness to begin, the follow through, and the perseverance to finish, and something very important: the courage to let go at a certain point when something is finished and to let it fly out of the nest.

These 29 days have been easy--perhaps the test flight--my next step will be to share where I am more vulnerable--perhaps places where I still think it has to be perfect, which keeps me from setting sail to new horizons!

Thank you again for reading.

Elizabeth Cunningham, you deserve a special shout out for a comment every. single. day.

I feel so humbled at my favorite author doing this for me!! (go here if you want interviews I did with her about her amazing book series, The Maeve Chronicles. Also, look for her next book coming out in August! I know I will!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Golden Sailboat

Golden Sailboat acyrlic by me

This is my golden, as ever, abundant-in-swirls, sailboat. Perhaps at sunset, perhaps at sunrise.

Being on the sea during either time, if I were very present and not worrying about storms, or being eaten by sharks, or hitting the dock when I docked--would be a most treasured experience.

I have always loved light reflected off the water, no matter what time of day, but the special glows cast by sunrise and sunset--these are Grace to me. I know that I am not the only one who feels this, which is also very nice. There is something most of us can agree on. I love how we can all just stare out at a sinking or rising golden orb, and nobody scoffs at us. They join us. I love the reverence that descends without anyone prodding. I love the time taken out of busyness. I love the quiet.

When I look at this painting, it reminds me that I can close my eyes and picture myself on the bow of a ship, and can summon how it feels to bask in golden light from our sun. It has been so fun playing with color.

Day 26~3 days left! Thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Swirly Boat in blue acrylic by me

Another painting I loved making. I had so much fun just layering paint and swirling about.

Adventure has been a big part of my world as of late. In fact, writing this after a long day of skiiing. Where I used to shy away from leaving the house, I've been doing the opposite. Finally really getting to know my beautiful state and bask in its beauty-- hiking to the top of many peaks--sometimes limping the last stretches back to the car. Took my girls camping on the beach without a 'man'  and was so proud when I got the campfire started multiple times. The girls had their doubts I could do it. It was nice to prove them wrong! My most favorite was the day I drove 5 hours to the closest passport office on a wing and a prayer to get a same-day passport (wing and a prayer because they tell you you can drive all that way, but that there is no guarantee they can/will help you) so I could accept an invitation to see the woman's soccer world cup, and within a week was in Vancouver BC riding bikes around the cape, and taking in the beauty of what has become one of my favorite cities. It is so something I would have talked myself out of before, but loved just going for it, and I have to say, walking out of the passport office with a passport given the same day felt like I had really done something special. 

I've painted quite a few boats in the last year. I do believe these sailboats hold the space for me to marinate in the spirit of adventure, past, present and future, and to feel my own sense of surrender to the whims of the ocean of life, and to keep navigating through the storms, and to enjoy sunny skies, but not depend on them. (In Oregon this is a given).  These boats remind me to keep an open mind and to not overthink things, but rather listen to the yes that wants to express, and let it lead, step by step, moment by moment, trusting that there is a certain intelligence to it all.

Friday, February 26, 2016


Wonderland acrylic by me
I find it so amazing that we as un-winged creatures have found ways to achieve a bird's eye-view of the world.

I had so much fun with this painting, It appeared in mind's eye and wouldn't leave me alone until I painted it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


Waterfalls acrylic by me
I love to think of all the bubbly droplets of water making their way in a giant free-fall down the waterfall. How much momentum, how much companionship with all the other little droplets. What a powerful force they all are together as they make their way from flying, to swimming, to carving new paths to the ocean. What a beautiful alive journey--so much beauty of the earth they get to behold along the way.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Unfinished Turtle

Unfinished Turtle sharpie and gel pens by me

This is an unfinished turtle I was working on filling in with colorful patterns. When I first created him, I didn't doubt that his destiny would be to be completed, but one afternoon when I had a piano student who was having a hard time,  and kept shutting down and closing up to any learning, I was inspired to pull out my unfinished turtle and to show it to her. I knew she was highly capable of the piano material, but something in her was pulling away from learning incrementally, crushed by mental thoughts that the road was too long, and she'd surely never make it, so why try.

I showed her the turtle, and told her how he wasn't finished. I told her how he was meant to have the four elements at each hand, and colorful patterns in each of the remaining blank spaces. I told her how each time I was faced with the task of touching marker to paper, with a new blank space to fill, I felt overwhelmed and in pain, doubtful that I could fill it with anything, and that it would take too long. But each time I just did it, even with the difficult thoughts there, something appeared almost as if by magic.

I told her how I found I had to at least stay open to just participating, and to letting the colors and patterns come as they wanted, but if I closed, there was nothing. No life, no possibility for anything. I had to let go of it needing to be good, but just give it my best.

Perhaps she was momentarily distracted by the turtle, but she started to unfurl and join me in the process of playing the piano. It was an incredibly rewarding moment, to let art open some white space for her. I wish I could say that it lasted at each lesson after that, but dealing with our reflex to close is a process.

Ironically after I shared the turtle in its unfinished state, it felt finished. The contrast of its white unfinished spaces, and its colored ones feel meant to live side by side in an unfinished state, and rather be that which speaks of staying open to possibility and moving forward, and tuning with this ebb and flow constantly.

Turtle speaks:
I am the unfinished turtle. Some of my tiles are blank, and some are full of colorful patterns. No one knows if these blank tiles will be filled or if they will remain blank. Feel energized by the colorful patterns, and see if you can feel a quiet, clear, space held inside the blanks tiles, or perhaps an exciting sense of possibility. 

Let the colorful tiles revitalize you, and the white tiles radiate peace and openness. 

Deep rest, recovery, or spark of joy at an empty canvas, or the invitation toward completion and innovation--slow, careful deliberation of moving toward the finish line. Which one sits most kindly with your being if you are fully honest and kind with yourself? 

Slow down and find which one is right for you at this time. Let yourself unlock each turtle tile like a door, take time to find the right keys and notice the wonder in the steps that make themselves known~stay quiet or go?. 

Don't be afraid to embrace an empty tile here and there if you journey gets to be too much about the race. Slow down and take in the wonder around you and let it inspire you to a new pattern, or go inside your shell for some centering. Meditate on what it is to carry your home with you wherever you go.

Whether blank or all filled in, or a little of both, stand back and take in the whole picture. Look at the world shining from your colorful patterns and the fresh light of your white space. Feel it reflected in you. 

Envision your sacred turtle moving and showing his tiles to the world. Feel his colors, patterns, and blank spaces, as your own, received, celebrated, understood. 

Make a commitment to share more unfinished parts of yourself and your creations. You never know who might be waiting for this gift.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Room for All of it

Room for All of it  sharpie drawing
This is another piece of art that will win no awards, but this 29 days of sharing was never about pretending to be the best or to make even 'passable' art, but to speak more to the powerful process of creating, connecting with my art, and sharing it.

It was last November, and I was inspired to draw a crown with flames coming out of it, placed over a big heart. I can't quite remember why, but it felt to be a powerful symbol of the moment that was beckoning to be on the page.

The interesting process around this drawing was how much I actually struggled with it. I couldn't get the crown straight, but kept going trying to salvage it. I wanted to do some reflections on the crown--couldn't make that work. The rainbow lines around the heart gave me big trouble.

It felt as if every aspect of this was just fighting me to remain imperfect, no matter how I tried to fix it.The heart was growing too big to look like a heart anymore and I was running out of page.  But I kept at it, because I had committed to finishing it. I was trying with all of my might to practice what I preach to my girls, which is stay with their art and to see where it goes, even though I was just a moment away from throwing it out and starting over the entire time.

The most intense part was the inside of the heart. I drew a nature scene with mountains and flowers, and that didn't work at all, so, I added a big lake, which really didn't work, and on and on, until it got so muddled up, that I surrendered and colored the heart scenery over completely in black sharpie. The entire time I was feeling very disappointed that the drawing was such a 'fail', as it had looked so nice in my head.

So, I had this uneven crown, flames that didn't quite look like flames, and a very imperfect rainbow frame around a BLOATED GIANT BLACK HEART.

It really is such a curious thing that it didn't end up in the garbage at this point.

However, one last desperate attempt had me running for colored pencils, and suddenly, the black heart became night sky, and I literally felt the vastness of night sky fill the emptiness of this heart-void, and experienced the relief and release physically in my own body, as if bounds in my own heart were released. It felt like the most gorgeous heart opening. I felt fresh possibility and meaning, beyond ideas of perfection right there within me.

I felt a newness--that I had done nothing wrong by struggling with this drawing, but perhaps everything right, and how perhaps the greater intelligence had planned to lead me to greater definitions of beauty my soul sought.

And suddenly there was the thought, Room for all of it. I knew I had to write this across the heart.

Instantly, this became one of my favorite pieces. It was so imperfectly perfect, because perfection had lost out, and because I stayed with it, and remained open to a deeper experience of it, a vastness emerged. In the heart of it there was room for all of it, and something fresh calling out from a space beyond good and polished--a language wishing to be spoken and understood that could only be communicated by embracing the imperfect, the wild and the unpredictable, and giving it space--looking at it with eyes half-shut, to see a blurred, but bigger perspective, and then to find new focus within this much bigger perception.

My black charred sharpie heart, destined to be the open heart--to hold the vastness of a boundless universe, where it seemed eternal embers waited to birth the stars.

On the back of the drawing, I found I'd written this:

Higher Love. Mature love and kindness. Trust that everything is as it should be and working itself out with great intelligence. Just keep being love. Aware love, not fix it or save them love, just a soft place to land.

Sing, dance, and work in images of the soul through art, writing, collage. Grow things, even it if takes time, attention and care. It is what you  most wish, to be free from a conditional, finite, rendering of reality. The stone is breaking off to reveal a golden heart.

Thanks for reading:).

Monday, February 22, 2016

Painting a Dream

Painting of a Dream
I have to admit that I have been putting off posting this painting, because I find it quote horrid to look at, but including this in my 29 days, keeps my ego from running the show, and  pays homage to an important moment: the first moment of painting where I ever experienced a deeper connection between art and its ability to bring new perception, insights and healing.

I was part of a group of women taking a class by my dear friend, writer, and artist, Julia Fehrenbacher. We were encouraged to paint a dream. Immediately I chose a nightmare from my childhood where in pitch-black, on the grounds of a large dark house, there were glimpses of large iron gates, and a heart-racing whole lot of violence and blood-shed pooling everywhere.

I began to paint some iron gates, blood, and darkness, but soon there was this tangible desire taking over my hand and brush, inspiring me to add swirls everywhere to the painting, actually beginning to hide the gate and to light up the night sky. I felt as if the swirls were whispering that they had been there too, permeating the dream, as a great love and holding. Even as I write this, it feels silly, but I cannot discount that in those moments of communing with the blank page and some kid's paint, that there was a streaming connection, and it brought a blanket of peace over a very dark remembrance of a nightmare. The peace remains to this day, the fear replaced by a reverberating curiosity of how something so simple as swirling paint could reconfigure a nightmare into a new dream, teeming with peace and light.

This is when I knew that art had a way of opening up new perception and even reaching back in time (and perhaps into the future) to create wholeness and interject a sense of okay-ness into experiences, dreams or otherwise. This transformation has stayed with me for years and is perhaps why I've made lasting space for art in my life. I experienced that the act of creating is much deeper than one would suppose. This direct experience of the transformation art can bring naturally and lastingly, has greatly influenced the malleability of my perceptions of existence, and how I feel I can learn about, interact with earth's inhabitants, and perceive happenings in a more positive light.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Goodbye pencil and crayon by me

Today I felt inspired to put up this very simple drawing from a few years ago, that I drew to help me through a friend's passing. Even though barely anything at all, I am still comforted when I look at it. 

It shows our essences, suspended in the cosmos, forehead to forehead, eyes closed, in restful, knowing, communion.

I have always been amazed when I have glanced back at this simple drawing, which could have easily been one  I crinkled up and played basketball with into the garbage can, because of its lackluster. The opposite happened. I cherish this drawing, and feel reverence for whatever I captured that summons forth his essence to me, and the memory of our sweet connection. And each time, I relive the miracle of him. 

If this doesn't make art a form of magic, I don't know what does. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016


 acrylic by me
Day 18 is offered a painting of a horizon, as more and more I simply see how it is ALL about contrast. My favorite contrast is the contour of mountains carving out a glowing sky.

I find the this peaceful,

and low-maintenance...

I like it.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Permission to Feel

Permission to Feel Kindergarten Sadness some kind of paint by me

I painted this little picture to capture a time from my kindergarten year. The notes in top corner read, 'Feel the fullness of your sadness and disappointment, and it is safe to express it and show it.' *See note below

At a certain time of day we would sit on the rug and wait for our free time to go to stations set up around the room to play. The catch was that in order to play at a specific station you had to win a mad dash among 30 or so determined 5-year-old's to get a yarn pass with the correct picture of the station you wanted, and there were only a handful of them for each station, and only a couple very popular stations that most were vying for. 

The mouse with a boa was the picture on the dress up station that was my dream play station. Time and time again I made a mad dash, but wasn't the kind of kid to push and shove my way through the race from the carpet, and so often I arrived and got last pickings. This happened so often that if my sad little inner child remembers right, I maybe have gotten the token only once in a whole school year. 

It is funny how these first beginnings can follow us all the way into adulthood. A while ago I painted this picture to reach a place within of allowing that little one within me to feel sad, as I remember always having to keep a perfectly happy face, the little people-pleaser I was, and to push my feelings aside. This also extended into adulthood. Like most kids, I was so overwhelmed by emotion, I never expressed it to anyone, feeling I needed to tend to others, ironically and especially, to adults in my life, way before me. 

I painted this to remind me that if I had had the awareness and ability as that little five-year-old, perhaps there would have been great relief and release in letting myself stop and just feel disappointment, and even perhaps simply or kindly express that I was sad or disappointed. In fact, I can imagine that there might have been a slight possibility that the teacher could have changed the way the entire class operated to make it more fair, if I had been able to express myself to her. 

I try to remember as a teacher myself, and as a mother (when I am well-rested and aware that my kid's dynamic expressions of their emotions that feel directed at me aren't personal), that there is a rich and developing emotional world in our children, and that emotion is very overwhelming and difficult for them--and even for most adults.

I can't go back in time, but this permission to feel seems to have less bounds than I do, and makes its way back every time I give this permission to my students or to my children--tell them that it is safe to feel, and to even express what might bring some relief. I am learning not to push, however, as I see that the expression part isn't really possible with most who are so overwhelmed. They just need to move on, but I like to think that they will remember that someone saw them and asked them about their feelings.

It was amazing to me how painting this little scene was so healing, and I imagine that after letting herself softly feel her sadness, that it passed more completely, and that she got up and enjoyed whatever station she ended up in just a little bit more--and who knows, perhaps she found an interest in Lincoln Logs she never knew she could have or a new friend, and just maybe there was the essence of the dress up mouse in boa following HER around the room, lifting her spirit.

* I would now probably add to the painting notes to express feelings kindly and calmly, as I am way past being a proponent of harsh emotion thrown every which way, which usually just yields more brick walls and resistance from others, although I do acknowledge that for those who are of a meeker nature, and feel it unsafe/unworthy to express, just the beginnings of expression often need to be a little too fiery or clumsy in delivery, to exercise the voice--learning to walk, so to speak-- There is something life-giving in finding one's own voice, even if a little too fiery, and it seems to have a clarifying effect of its own if one remains heart-centered and open to guidance and growth, willing to learn to see themselves objectively. I do feel it is far less safe to have no voice.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Courage to Face the World Angel

Courage to Face the World Angel sharpie drawing by me

Another angel for someone I know who really doesn't think she can face the world right now, or truly ever again. I give this angel as a reminder to her of the beauty and vibrancy of life, and the loving arms and hearts, that when she is ready to feel them and let them in, are waiting to wrap themselves around her wounded spirit, and that she doesn't have to be perfect, or do anything all alone, especially getting up from a painful tumble. 

I give this angel as a reminder that she has the strength and courage inside her to move forward and let go of any thoughts that are scaring her and telling her that there is no way to move forward. My wish for her is that she gets distracted by beautiful colors, patterns, unexpected laughter, interesting tidbits of our world, or stories of wonder and redemption. Let this angel give her courage to embrace her sensitive nature, and remind her that it is often she who gives others wings as she welcomes them with open arms and a gentle heart, but let her be kind to herself when her sensitivity makes her hurting feel bone-deep. 

I send her this angel, keeper of the sunrise, to revive her aching golden heart.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Remebering Softness Angel

Remembering Softness Angel acrylic by me

Today felt like it could use a Remembering Softness Angel, dedicated to those feeling they might need just a little bit of extra love and softness, free of charge--gifted soothing--as we navigate any difficult, sorrowful, confusing, painful, disappointing, or surprising moments while riding the wild river of life. I imagine that a tiny touch of this angel's presence will bring instant relief, soft colors swirling about to calm and cradle any frenetic or unsettled feelings or energies, bringing a deep remembering of real and true rest that restores deep feelings of well-being; a reminder to be kind and soft with ourselves and those around us, as we make our way toward deeper understandings and complexities of being human, and find ourselves discovering everlasting joyous vision of the miracle of one another, and a natural honoring of all our unique presences beyond a world of right and wrong.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On bringing 'Showentelle' back...

Sunny Dots by me

This morning I was reflecting on the past 13 days of sharing a creative gift a day, and it has been so much fun, that I was reminded of one of my most favorite activities at school growing up. The great, ‘Show'n'Tell.’ When I was a kid I thought it was a big event, with a very special name, perhaps Irish in origin, like Sean or Shannon. To me it was Showentelle. I associated it with something very magical, which made the Irish association all the more apt, as by then the little mischievous green men who searched for pots of gold at the end of the rainbow, and played tricks on unsuspecting humans were part of my school experience too.

I remember how everyone gathered in a circle, and raised their hands high for a turn. How everyone relaxed and became intent and curious about what was being shared. I remember how we wanted it to go on forever, and how it felt incomplete when it ended, as inevitably there just wasn’t enough time for everyone to share as much as they wished. I remember that it was energizing and magnetic, and how there was much interest and joyful resonance--often a kid or two shouting out, "me too!"

I have had an opportunity to share creations among friends the past several years in various groups, through writing, blogging and visual arts, and I am always so incredibly excited about what is shared between us. The less I am in a place about weighing its worth, or speculating whether it is the next greatest phenomenon, and the closer I am to my little self sitting on a Showentelle rug, captivated in that holy sharing space, the more I marvel at how my friends’ creations resemble them so beautifully, like some owners resemble their dogs, and it is just so cool to witness and receive. I am richer for it. I adore seeing what could only be grown, tended and developed by the unique creator in them. 

Yes, I would like to bring back that wonderfully sweet and joyful innocent sharing, joyful hand-raising, just for fun, just because it is interesting to behold what others care about, and to share our hearts.

I find this a guiding principle in my piano teaching, as realistically most of my students won't go on to be concert pianists, but hopefully they will have a whole lot of fun sharing something musical they love. To bring back this sweet partaking of one another just might be the next best hipster worthy come-back. Showentelle comeback--pass it

Monday, February 15, 2016

Swirly Flower

Swirly Flower acrylic by me

 Just a happy swirly flower I had a lot of fun with for day 13.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Woman and The Daughter

Chance Meetings Sharpie by me

Day 11 and 12. Story and art.:)
I once wrote a post called 'Borrowed Mythology'. Perhaps the following is a story I wrote to tend to a need in myself that I expressed in that writing-- to have stories to journey with to help me understand just a little bit more forces that I can't quite reconcile or make peace with, with love so big and contradictions running so deep...perhaps this piece helps me to understand an essential truth in mothering (and perhaps in relationships in general), that we are always a bit bereft of one another. I hope you enjoy.

The Woman and The Daughter

Once upon a time there was a woman and her daughter. There were only certain times of day when they could meet because of a curse. The mother had been changed from her human form to live in the depths of the sea as a whale, while the daughter became a bird, creature destined to roam the sky.

At first, the mother kept her enormous rubbery body as many inches above the water as she could, to serve as a perch for her daughter. When they met for those moments, they would sing, although they were deaf to the other’s songs. Only Ocean and Sky where they came together as rolling waves, could hear the haunting duet--mother and daughter’s heartbreaking ballad of bereavement, their cries and pleads for the other’s embrace, for their familiar voice and presence. Day by long day, they would sing their hearts out, just in case the other could hear; the daughter chirping on in repetitive descant of bird-song-sorrows and the story of her mother’s abandonment of her to the seas, and the mother clicking and squeaking long refrains, echoing and reverberating in the depths, the pain of her loss of holding, smelling and nuzzling her downy-haired girl.

Over time as they adapted to their new homes, their visits became shorter and shorter and their songs less sorrowful. They sang more and more about their adventures and discoveries, and even though they couldn’t hear one another, their song became a soothing balm for their troubled hearts, and for slivers of silvery time that passed like mercury through fingers without any communion.

Naturally, they began to answer the call to find their worlds and explore themselves as the new creatures the had become. More and more the mother felt herself called to sing her songs below the surface or the water, where her feathered daughter couldn’t go. And more and more the daughter yearned for her wings in flight above the land, at heights her mother could never reach.

After a while, even their songs of discovery and exploration began to quiet. The mother would surface for a while in the sun, and her daughter would perch upon her, and there they would bob rhythmically, cradled by the soothing motion of the waves, for mere moments, basking in the sun together, without a sound, feeling only breeze and warmth of the sun, their thoughts and emotions a glassy pool of peace. They didn’t have language to communicate this deep settling, nor were they aware of its intrinsic communal nature, but as they touched each other and let their surroundings touch them, they both experienced deep and cleansing sensations of just merely being right here.

Their favorite times were when they were involved in their sacred dances, and they thought of each other. The mother singing ancient songs, diving below and rising to the surface in measured waves of breath, and the daughter singing her own fresh songs, riding wind currents and perching high atop the trees to see the world.

One day the daughter was injured in a storm, and her wing broken. She flew as best she could where she knew her mother could view her upon a craggy set of rocks, where they often came to just look at one another.

The mother felt instinctively that something was wrong, and offered her body as a perch for her daughter, riding up from the depths of the ocean to tend to her little bird. But as the daughter clumsily flew upon her mother’s back, the water felt too cold on her broken body, and the mother could not seem to rise high or steadily enough above the waves to give her daughter rest. The daughter exhaustedly found her way back to the sharp rocks.

For days the mother swam as close to the rocks as she could and bellowed her song to soothe her daughter. She felt her huge lumbering body a prison, and yearned to have arms to hold her child. She resented her fins and her massive body and quaked with anger at knowing this body would only crush or drown her delicate daughter. She thrashed and howled, angrily spewed, sending shards of resentment into the depths of the ocean. She felt the salty water as acid to her heart and soul, the contradiction of life-giving waters, that also trapped her. She sang of her wish to be an eagle, to be able to scoop up her daughter and bring her to a warm soft sandy beach where she would caress her cheek and nourish her strength.

The daughter sang out in pain, but mostly slept, alone and abandoned by the one who had always nursed her back to health when she was sick. The daughter came to resent the air that teased her to fly, when her wing was broken, and she wished for the first time to be a water creature, to swim aside her mother, protected by her powerful body.

And so it was that the mother found her greatest and most difficult surrender--to accept that there was nothing she could do but just watch. By no choice of her own she had to let her daughter fend for herself.

It was a very gray day indeed when the mother saw buzzards circling round her daughter ready to descend upon the injured bird. The mother became so terrified that she thrust herself into the sky as high as she could, and for the first time heard her daughter’s cries. She sang her whale song as loud as she could. She couldn’t believe that all she had for her daughter in this moment, was her useless song. This was the moment she had always feared. When she truly couldn’t save her.

But in that moment, what the mother saw amazed her. She saw her daughter register her song, look up, see the buzzards, assess the situation in a lightening bolt moment, stand up with all of her might, and glow with a powerful presence.

She saw her daughter choose to fight with all of herself to live! To KNOW the preciousness of her breath, and to let her mother’s song vibrate within her. She spread out her wings wide, and her mother realized what a powerful wingspan she had--how had she not seen this muscular aeriform body?! The daughter rocketed into the sky. Higher and higher she climbed, the flap of her giant wings carrying her far against gravity. She began to do the most beautiful dance, weaving in and out of clouds, mist covering her feathers, making her shimmer like thousands of diamonds in the sun that was peeking from the clouds.

She was the most beautiful sight to behold. The mother wept salty tears as she knew that her daughter had summoned her power, and had received it, willingly, and fully in her being, and that this strength would carry her.

Much time passed before she saw her daughter again.

Many year later, the mother had swam many miles to the Hawaiian islands, and was swimming with a school of her favorite dolphins, who loved to listen to her songs, and in turn sing theirs, making her laugh as they nuzzled and tickled her, and squeaked at her. Even though she missed her daughter, she let the dolphins cheer her up. They had become her close confidents and adored when she sang them her stories.

One day she made her way close to one of her favorite views, which was where the lava of a volcano oozed down into the ocean, and was birthing a new island as it cooled in the sea. She listened to the sizzling of the fire as it touched the ocean, and watched the salty waters crest and break on the baby island that was forming. She let the hot water warm her body, like a giant hot tub, and for a moment closed her eyes to settle into the comfort.

She felt so good that she rose up out of the water making the most torrential splash she could with her huge body and tail, giggling with unbridled joy. It was in mid-air when she heard familiar birdsong. She opened her eyes and saw her daughter, who gleamed in the sunlight, perched tall and proud on solid rock, and both began to sing so loud in joy, that they forgot for just a moment who was singing, as it touched something so ancient of them to be reunited. Their song swirled about them and lifted their spirits together. For just a moment the whale had arms and legs, and the bird did too, and mother and daughter held each other while their animal bodies sang, lifting higher and higher.

Mother and daughter were lifted to the top of a volcano where in their embrace they heard themselves singing about birth, death, creation, and the perils of existence, and they imbued one another with a great peace and release, a deep love that was as old as time, and as simple as breath, and for just a moment they knew the most splendid feeling of Home.

They felt the great invitation of their animal bodies to know this more fully in their cells, and when their song stopped, they knew that this place of Home would be felt more profoundly because of their journey together and apart.

Soon they returned back to their animal bodies, and their songs continued, every day. But this time, when they danced in the sky or the ocean, singing their songs, they felt a union and trust in life that gave them a deep-rooted joy and remembering, of life so solid so precious, so enduring, that no matter where they were or what was happening to them, it couldn’t be shaken or taken, even if they couldn’t meet together so comfortably side by side.

Every so often they met at the place where the water and the lava met, and sang to one another, hearing their duet as mother-whale jumped high into the air, and daughter-bird, airborne, made wonderful loops, twirls and turns in the most perfect ballerina fashion, and echoes of this were known on land and sea.

And in the end, both mother and daughter thanked with grace the curse that had changed them into new animals, sent them each off to explore and discover a new world, silenced their communications, so that they each had to reach into the depths of themselves to find a way for their unique songs to be heard.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Hidden Treasures in Chaos

Hidden Treasures in Chaos! acrylic by me
I remember as a kid that at school when we were going to do art, I got very excited. Almost as if finally the warmth, color and vibrance of life would suddenly ignite. I do not think I was alone in feeling this, but like most, I grew up thinking art was pretty frivolous, and that art was left for those who were determined to sweat it through their pores, or die trying. For the rest of us, business as usual. So I must say that finding art again came late, during a sloppy and hardened process of perfectionist parenting, trying to keep my kids perpetually stimulated. Funny thing was how much I was also trying to keep this exploration ordered. How they resisted my prodding them to keep tablecloths clean and supplies sorted and well-cared for. How silly I think I was now that I understand children better, and how much compassion I have for me as a new mother with the best of intentions, and honestly, how happy I am my girls were unbridled little terrors with unsquashable spirits.

As life does, it presses, and that pressing usually leads to a little something needing to topple. In this case, I had to give into the fact that two little girls ran circles around my tight rule, and had boundless energy to create chaos, that for years I would humbly admit to myself, I couldn't tame. BUT I WOULD STILL TRY. Having these little girls took on a wildness day to day, that didn't look like my little Victorian picture books of beautifully dressed, clean, presentable children, doing orderly, sensible things, that I so loved as a girl as I dreamed through them into my future.

Maybe the chaotic nature of children feels normal to some, but I was rather shocked that my girls preferred to run around naked, that they often painted each other's faces and bodies in living color, with chalk and crayola markers, and everything else, and did the opposite of what I asked them to do at every turn. They were little tornadoes, and together they were mischief.  One time the bigger one put scotch tape all over her face, and the younger one colored all kinds of patterns on the tape. Then when the older one looked in the mirror she got so scared she was screaming to get it off, and it was killing her have me rip off the tape! They made circuses and hawked their wares on the street, making signs and just very much running full-speed ahead in the art department.  I was both fascinated and in horror. They also didn't clean up one mess without major prodding. My girls came in having their own way. This was not the way I came in. Even though I had my power struggles with my parents, I was content to be their good girl. It was hard to relate, and I have to say I wish I could have just let go and joined in the fun--but really that took me getting so tired over the years from fighting it all, that I finally just had to let go.

eating play dough

 As a single mom I just didn't have the energy or reinforcements. But I have to say I am so grateful my girls were a handful for me, because much freedom has come from spending less time trying to control. My inability to get my kingdom under control has had me often with my hands in the air, except when we all had our hands in the moment of doing art together, which was what it all often led to--well if you can't beat 'em, join em--like as in ME sitting down and doing it too, not just micromanaging it. That is when we could chat amicably and just watch color and ideas form before us. This is when I began to realize that there is something to being in the creative process, not just only in experiencing the art others create. I had always played other composers music, read other authors' books, watched movies made by strangers, and doing art myself led me to have novel thoughts that there were arrangements of notes on a piano that could be uniquely my creation--what other possibilities? I had always squelched this in myself before. 

This is a different generation coming up. My girls take their electronics and make fast speed movies of themselves doing things, (ironically my youngest made one the other day about cleaning her room. It showed her moving towards parts of her room and in fast motion cleaning it all up--didn't have to fight for that one! Thanks technology!) and my daughter and her friends made a quite horrific horror movie on the playground with her school iPad. They are focused on being in the parade, not watching. I am inspired by this, which I guess is the fuel for my own desire to jump in--just because it is really fun! I see that there is room for all of their creations, but it doesn't so much matter the content, but what it is developing in them to just jump right in and go for it!

So, it took a very long time for me to realize I could just start at the beginning. I could start to draw on a cheap piece of type paper and with kid supplies. I could mess around just on the black keys of the piano that sound tonally okay to the ears. But I see that it is okay that it took time. The fun part is that I am experiencing more of the world around me as alive because I am letting myself engage with my own creativity. And funny enough, I think this is the only legacy I could leave my girls: the freedom to create, both alone and with others.

I will also add here, that my writing progress has been the slowest process to be helped or opened by this art making, because I have cared too much about doing it well. To date, the major breakthrough I have made is to let ONE person read my novel I wrote 8, ouch, 8 years back in its entirety. I celebrate this, not because I plan to be the writer of the century, but because letting someone read it was a big step in my letting go of weighty and enormously stifling armor I am wearing to not fail, to not be rejected, or to risk realizing that I was dreaming the wrong dream--which now I see has been just a big excuse to stay out of the game--any game, even the littlest leagues!

So, art has come dancing its merry way to me, through my live-out-loud daughters, and my subsequent forced surrender. I admit that art is shaping everything in my life, even my relationships. One poor chap I was in a relationship with got paints, a paintbrush and a little book to paint in for his birthday. Maybe that is why it ended:) I laugh about this now, but secretly I hope that he got to experience at least one stroke of the brush, before he threw all of it out. 

I believe there is a richness to engaging with our creativity, that actually helps to enliven every day, (even if we just do it once a week or so), and helps an old archaic way of doing things fall away--and we don't become lazy or useless to life--quite the contrary-- real life energy picks up the slack, to make everything, even the menial tasks, like doing taxes, a more radiant and glowing experience. Yes, I have experienced this with taxes.

I notice there is more energy to sit down and create, and actually learn, when so much energy isn't used in the execution and control. Here is to freedom and long vibrant life! Thanks for reading:)

One of my first crayola marker drawings on type paper. The girls made me put it on the fridge, where it got quite tattered, but there were my idealized girls, all dressed up, clean and enjoying picking flowers with their beautiful mother--oh and the beautiful blue butterfly. HA HA HA HA

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Joy Swirls

Day 9! Today I am going to share a painting that for some reason I just love to look at. It isn't anything fancy, but it surprised me how much I loved watching it come into being, and how every time I look at it I feel a sweetness. Calling it very simply, Joy Swirls.
Joy Swirls acrylic by me

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Painting

Window to Magical World acrylic by me 
Yay for day 8. Feels like a marathon to get to 29 days, but I am so enjoying your comments and reflections, and this feels like a healthy workout. Thank you. It is an honor to have have these little posts being received by beautiful souls. And I am loving that some of you are sending me art and writing, participating along with me, or signing up the whole family for local painting and wine evenings! So inspiring.

This is a poem that I wrote in my teens, expressing my love for experiencing paintings as windows into worlds. Recently I am convinced that any art draws down the heavens (or hell) right into it, and that all of it somehow lives.

The Painting

When I look at a painting,
I want to go inside.
To see and hear what they do, 
And walk with graceful stride.

I want to talk and dress like them
And live their every day,
To find out why the face I see,
Is looking in that way.

But 'cause I am too small to fit,
I must be content to stare,
To imagine and to wish,
That I really could be there.

And sometimes in the paintings look,
(Mind you, I do not lie!)
I seem to see it smiling,
With a twinkle in its eye.

And  I smile back with secret pride
Yes, I am filled with glee!
'Cause out of all the many folk,
Though little, it chose me.

Little Doll with Big Red Bow crayola kid's paint by me:)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Enfolded Nature Girl

'Enfolded Nature Girl' clay by me
Today I thought I would shake it up with a little clay girl I made a while back. Her eyes are resting closed and she has her knees folded into her core with her arms hugging her legs. She is all covered with leaves, and berries, and you can't see it very well, but there is a rose bloomed at her knees. The rose broke off and into pieces, and I've never replaced it, almost as if the rose weren't meant to bloom yet. Her legs also merge into the shape of a snake.

I remember making this, and what a surrender it took to work with clay. I also remember how I felt I was creating a part of my being outside of myself--one that needed much rest, enfolded in the arms of nature, guided by the promise of blooming. I remember how the moment of creation spoke of a process of enduring the harshness of being in a body, sensitive to the elements both natural and man-made: the incessant changes, the beckoning of learning, growth, coming to life, letting life come to you, and the courageous allowing of intricate intelligences of transformation to do their bidding--shedding as many skins as needed until the body could safely unfold, and the heart remain safely out in the open to be embraced.

I let her speak:

There is a tiny one within, unfolding, whispering the okayness of just existing, the simple rightness of merely breathing, seeking shelter and nourishment; a season of readiness to move, to begin, to engage, to let go-- to meet vulnerability without protection, Vision earned, and most  humble discernment endowed--a discernment that changes shape when touching alignment. Remember the most natural belonging and a welcome that never leaves. Welcome the greening within you, even in winter when there is no sign of bloom.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sacred Pool

'Sacred Pool' acrylic by me

There is a pool that is very sacred to me. I have spent a lot of time near this pool writing, communing, and just absorbing its most beautiful aquamarine color; watching for hours mesmerizing bubbles churning away, and eventually making their way downstream for their big cascade finish down a waterfall.

A while back, I realized that I had no pictures of the pool, and so I decided to paint it.

Recently I went back and almost didn't find the pool, because a year's worth of the elements had changed the trail and the surroundings of the little pool. I couldn't help but feel this direct reflection in nature of the impermanence of life, and of how relatively quickly everything can change.

The trail was more opened up and the sacred pool much more apparent to hikers and accessible to all. I take this as a good omen. Its very own expansion...Its very own welcoming more to appreciate the beauty and commune with its spirit.

I desired to capture a little of this pool's effervescent spirit in my painting, and experience its essence through painting something that evoked our time together. So many moments ceasing to be, places no longer existing, echoes of farewells and moving on. Yet, no matter how much it all changes over time, or even disappears all together, essence remains of all communion. I love that I can capture this in swirling paint, and hold it to my heart.

Here is the actual pool.
Thank you B. for the beautiful  photo:)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Weekend Painting and Story

The Girl and the Monkey

Once upon a time on the streets of the Mont Saint Michel, there lived a little girl. She had a pet monkey and spent most of her time stealing apples for it and herself from the many vendors that lined the streets. The vendors kept a blind eye to her stealing, because her features were so angelic, and they all knew that her uncle, with whom she lived, was a drunk, and did little to care for her.

Stealing became her way of feeding herself and her small pet, and she laughed when the monkey often took her share as well. Her favorite time of day was when she would run to the ocean and play in the surf with her monkey. She would laugh as they dodged the current, and well before she needed to, she would gather up her monkey and head for higher ground, watching at a safe level, the tide swallow up the land like galloping horses.

After the tide came in, and the beach was no longer accessible, the girl would climb her way to the top of the Abbey, and listen to monks singing. Her monkey waited for her outside, as she sat in the pews and traced the arches of the ceiling that looked to be miles high.

She imagined the effort of the stones holding together to reach such heights, and felt their power akin to that of the tide that washed up on shore swallowing everything like a giant sea monster, and creating an island in mere seconds. She recognized the waves as loud strength, and the bricks squeezing together as quiet strength, and that is how she came to see the world, in various degrees of loud and quiet strength.

One day she encountered a young boy who had come to the mountain to become a deacon. She watched him intently from the pews. She surmised that he was in between loud and quiet strength, because he seemed too malcontent with squeezing tight together as quiet, and she felt something stormy and loud raging underneath his surface, that much more resembled the sea. In fact, it seemed very unnatural for this boy to comport himself in the manner of a deacon, but he strained to do so.

She watched the boy perform his tasks, at the beckoning of the priests. She noticed his eyes become round in agreement as he affirmed their instructions. She also saw his body crushed with heaviness as he did his work in silence.

One day she saw him walking on the beach. It was the first time she had seen him outside of the Abbey. He saw her and her monkey, and smiled when the monkey weaved in and out of his legs almost making him trip.  

He was curious about the girl and the monkey, but made no effort to introduce himself. The girl also remained quiet, and only the monkey made any contact between the two of them.

The boy made his way back to the mountain, and the girl and the monkey followed, knowing that they needed ample time to avoid the tide coming in.

The girl sat in silence with the monkey and watched the incoming tide just like they did every day, and the boy stayed too, clearly uncomfortable at her presence, but curious enough to stay to see the waves rush in.

When the waves hit the shores, the girl and monkey delighted in their usual way, and the boy felt it too, although he didn’t show it. He turned away and began his climb up the hill. The girl and her monkey followed.

Day after day, this routine ensued.

Then one night, the girl had a very vivid dream. She dreamed the boy had stayed below and been swallowed up by the sea. She had dived in, become a mermaid and saved him. Her monkey had become a dolphin and helped too. She took some of her uncle’s ink and began to draw the mermaid and the dolphin.

The next day she went down to the sea, and saw the boy linger a little longer than usual. When he made it up on shore, just in time for high tide, she handed him her drawing. He took it, but didn’t open it.

That night the boy had a dream. He was in a giant ocean liner and he saw the little girl and her monkey on a sailboat, sailing freely and laughing. The monkey was scurrying up the mast, and playfully swinging around. The girl’s head was wrapped in a colorful scarf that matched the sails. When he awoke, he drew a picture of this scene and rolled it up, tying it with a bit of cord.

When he descended to the ocean, he handed it to the girl and made his way back to the Abbey.

The boy and the girl continued to dream. They continued to pass to one another their drawings, as if adding to a storyboard.

To the mermaid and dolphin was added a merman and then the three of them swimming in open waters.

He added to his pictures a rigged zipline from the ocean liner to her sail boat, and the three of them began to sail together.

They both hung the pictures in their rooms, and marveled at the stories being created.

Still not a word transpired between them, but she noticed that he seemed a little more relaxed.

One day the sun shone down and she noticed that he closed his eyes and let himself bask just a bit more than usual. She did the same.

Then one day she saw him in her dreams jump into rushing waters, but he couldn’t become a merman, and he was drowning.

She couldn’t become a mermaid, and her monkey couldn’t become a dolphin, and she watched with horror as he was swallowed up by rough waters.

She didn’t see him after that on the mountain. She wondered where he had gone, but when she asked the priest, he dismissed her, telling her only, that he had been sent away, that the Abbey was no place for this boy.

That night, when she went to bed, she didn’t dream at all. There were no more mermaids, and for the first time in her young life she felt afraid of the sea. She stared at the pictures he had drawn of her and her monkey sailing, of the adventures she imagined they’d had together, as he ziplined into their boat. There was even one drawing of her monkey on his shoulder.

She began to feel herself squeezing tight like the bricks of the Abbey, coupled with a feeling stirring inside her to be wild and free like the galloping sea. She felt a new confused state emerging within her of both of these forces competing. This left her aching. The next day she sat up in the Abbey and heard the music. After a long while, she lost herself in the sound, and the sensations of the music penetrated her entire being. For a moment, she forgot her ache. For a moment she felt herself a musical instrument, played by the music itself, as her body danced in sensations and explosions of feeling.

This struck her as extraordinary, that for a moment she felt only a power itself. When she stood up to leave, she fainted. The next thing she remembered was a bunch of people and a doctor milling about. She noticed her uncle distressed and tender in the background, and she heard the galloping of the waves out the window. She felt cold. She couldn’t see her monkey, but she heard him squeaking outside the door.

She fell into a deep sleep. In her dreams she sailed on her boat the boy had drawn with her monkey. Then suddenly right next to her boat, a gigantic whale surfaced, with a mighty force blowing out his blow hole, and a whale tail emerging before her, as big as her boat. She could see the dark shape of the whale underneath the water. She felt dwarfed by this animal, and strangely calmed by it. She recognized the same energy of the whale just like the galloping tide waters, the bricks squeezing themselves together in the Abbey, and the music she’d felt played upon her. Next, she dreamed she saw an ocean liner and up from it burst into the sky, fireworks, and she felt the presence of the boy.

She saw images of the boy in scenes she had drawn animated before her, in the stars, in the heavens, carved on trees, painted on caves, written in books, and she understood something that she would never put into words, nor would she need to.

She woke quietly a few days later. She heard her uncle crying in relief, promising to do better by her, to have food on her plate three times a day. She smiled.

She hugged her uncle softly, giving him a kiss, and after a few bites of soup, she went outside and gathered her monkey in her arms, and down she climbed to play on the beach.

It rained a cold drizzle which made her blink often, but she didn’t feel the chill. She felt the rain as radiant splashes, the same she’d felt from the whale that splashed her in her dreams, as she sailed the sea with her monkey, her hair tucked back into a colorful head scarf that matched the colorful sails of her boat.

On her way home she stumbled upon a something hard. It was a bottle half buried in the sand. She opened it up, and in it found a rolled up paper with familiar cording. She felt her heart swell as she opened the parchment and saw a drawing of her sailing with her monkey on the high seas, but in this drawing was also a picture of a giant ocean liner, with fireworks lighting up the sky, and on the deck of the giant ship was a boy waving. Sandwiched in the drawing was a silky scarf bursting with colors. She had never seen something so beautiful. She held it in her hands for a while, and then proceeded to tie it around her head.