Thursday, December 24, 2009

Blessings of the Season

Yesterday in Whole Foods, the cashier asked me how my holidays were going.
I told her of the chaos of packing a house and moving across the country in our sort of difficult circumstances.
She shared with me deeply from her own life - a husband leaving her, losing her job, her Mom dying, followed by two months of deep depression where the only thing that kept her alive was a friend coming to check on her every day.
I teared up at her story, and she came around the aisle to hug me. (shoppers behind me in line looked on with great curiosity!)
She said something that has actually been a huge Christmas Gift to me, because it is so true, and she felt it so deeply:
"The most important thing is that you have a loving family and loving friends to stand by you - nothing else really matters."
I have been thinking of her words often.
I have such a wonderful family - my Mom has helped us beyond words these last few months, one brother is having us house sit for him, another is helping us load the truck and is always on the look out for jobs for my husband, and another brother helped arrange an art show of my Mushroom Collages at his intentional community. Our kids have been great - rallying and helping whenever they can, rubbing my neck and hugging me when I need hugs.
Friends call to check on me and make sure I am okay.
It turns out that difficulty in life lets our loved ones care for us - our struggles become chances for others to shine for us and on us.
I truly am hugely blessed.
Twenty Ten begins a new life for us.
I will miss loved ones we leave behind here in New Jersey tremendously, but their light will still shine on me, on us.
I am so grateful for the truth that Love, really, is all there is.
Have a blessed holiday - I will be back here after we move and get a bit settled.

"If a thing loves, it is infinite." --William Blake

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

another RUNE journal entry - Berkana

Berkana stands for growth and rebirth and is symbolized by the birch tree.
This is a perfect Rune to have pulled one week before we load the truck and head into our new lives.
The house is about half packed, so the next few weeks I will not be here much, but here we come, Twenty Ten, new decade, new home in a new state, a new life.
Here we come, Rocky Mountains.
The goodbyes are very sad, and the distance we will now have to family and friends is actually overwhelming me a bit, but I know with technology like Skype and texting, I will have loved ones a few clicks away, if not in person.
Growth and rebirth is something that hurts a bit while it is happening, but after the process is complete, a new plateau (hopefully) is reached; new beginnings are not easy, but they are what life is all about - the strong birth tree each year sheds it leaves, and dies a little death, only to start over again in the Spring.
Last night, Solstice, the longest night of the year came and went. We lit candles and hit drums in a wonderful circle at our Unitarian Congregation, and now we welcome longer days and more light as we start a new decade in a week.
Even as the snow and cold holds us for a few more months, even as a long journey is ahead for us, I know that new beginnings will take time to work themselves out, the Rune, Berkana calls for a time of blossoming and ripening . . . .
Welcome, change.

"Discoveries are often made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, by trying the untried." --Frank Tyger

busy packing my life, but here are some thoughts:

The act of moving requires you to go through each thing in your life and see if
it is worth keeping. I am realizing how good this is to clean out and have this
purge, but also how devastating it is to look back, and think work you did is only
worthy of going out with the trash.
As an artist, I spent years perfecting my drawing and painting ability - and
right now outside with our overflowing trash cans, is a huge pile of drawings
and paintings which I just could not justify lugging across the country one more
time. (many went from Bethesda to Indiana to New Jersey and now to cross the
country to Colorado again is just too much to ask . . . . )
Part of me feels defeated, and like my time spent in these creative acts was
worthless and now just trash.
But I know this isn't really true.
I know that any of us who contribute creatively are adding something huge and
important to the world.
and, forgive sounding a bit "braggy", but it is a brave act to spend one's life
force in the act of creating something new that maybe no one will ever pay for,
that no museum or gallery will ever hang on the wall, that no e-bay site will
ever send into the world in exchange for a paypal payment.
So many artists that made huge contributions to our human evolution of thinking
and enlightenment and sharing deeply their human experience in a brilliant and
talented way, never got money or recognition for their powerful work.
I am not putting myself in that group, but I am trying to move forward knowing
something that I spent my life force making was worthwhile for someone . . . .
even if just for Spirit.
Working creatively and earning money doing it are such different forces, and I
have always had profound conflict about how to balance the two pressures -
follow your bliss vs. earn a living.
So here, on the thresh hold of giving away/throwing away lots of my creative
work, with paintings and drawings out in the trash heap, I vow to breath in the
suffering I feel from my own non-recognition, and breath out compassion and
acceptance of the reality that to work creatively is to ADD something to the
world, even if it does not result in money or fame.

Giving your gift to the world sometimes has a cost.
A long as Spirit allows me to make my art, and have my voice, I will share
creative work.
I can't do anything else.

"When we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen... Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces our purpose." --Steven Pressfield

Sunday, December 6, 2009

1001 Journals

I am honored to have been asked to be interviewed for the Journal Project 1001 Journals, a place where we can all share our journaling work with each other and with the world. It is a very inspiring place to visit.
Here are the very beautifully intentional questions, and the answers I provided for the website, and I will post a link when the interview is added there:

1. Your background is in architecture and art. When working on an art piece do you use the same thinking method as in when you do architecture work or do you use a totally different thinking method: I got into architecture because I wanted to creatively affect the environment - making art really is the same impulse. In creating anything, I try to make something meaningful and beautiful that will also be functional. My early work as an architect also gave me some powerful tools I still use in my work: strong graphics to communicate clearly, and an ability to follow through on projects that I might not have had without that vigorous architecture training.

2. On your website there is an article about your work in the group Jfive ; a group of artist you did collaborative painting with; as a group did you all decide to take the piece in one direction? Or did everyone add onto it and let the piece go in it’s own direction? j5, later j4, was a very powerful experiment in collaboration for me - we were from three different countries (American, Japan and Germany) and we all painted simultaneously on very large canvases. We never planned, we never directed, we never decided anything before taking up our brushes, squirting out some colors, and going for it together. Sometimes we got paint on each other! This act of collaborative creation together was very joyful. Sadly, as our work progressed into the marketplace, that's where our communication suffered, and we couldn't sustain that level of joy when dollars and galleries came into the picture. The few years we worked together, and the resulting canvases were quite wonderful.

3. I love your journal entries posted on your journal blog and the stories and process you go through in creating them. Can you share with us the kind of process in creating your journal pieces? Funny to even think of them as "pieces." Journaling for me has always been about powerful self expression, about the process of getting it out, and not about what it will look like. I find if I even consider what the page will look like, this interferes with the freedom to make a mess, and make a mistake, and find the hidden inner voice that I am trying to free. I do have a sort of method, though - I start with color, add some images, add some words, and see what happens. I teach this method, then encourage students to take the work to their own place. Mostly we need to learn to let go of our carefulness, messy is always better in my mind, because that touches the intuitive pre-verbal place in our brains, which I believe is more connected to our authentic voice.

4. When you create a journal entry is it for self-expression or communicating with others? See above - 99 percent self expression. but I admit that when others connect to my work, it feels quite validating as an artist. But I try not to have this affect my process.

5. When did you begin your artistic relationship with shamanic influences in your artwork? The Shamanism sort of found me. In my first studio, another tenant in the building asked me if I wanted to drum together in the morning. I would drum for twenty minutes with him, then go to my studio and start work. Without me even understanding what was happening, the voice of the drum found it's way into my art. I ended up studying Shamanism for the last 20 years, and now it is an essential part of what I do. They say the drumbeat is the heartbeat of the Earth, and I have certainly been drawn into a desire to help heal the environment and protect Mother Earth as part of my art consciousnesss.

6. When working on your journal entries do you allow the physical pages to limit your expression? if you are wondering if the ink and paper and glue ends up plastered on my work surface - ha! Yes! But I also have some canvases around, and some postcards around, and mail art around, and they all receive the blessings of my messes. I could never work on just one thing at a time.

7. Many of your journal entries are made mixed media. Where do you look for your materials? Do you store materials before you use them or do you work with whatever you have at the moment you begin? Piles and piles of books and magazines and papers surround me. I love buying old books and tearing them apart. I am a paper-holic. I just have bags and bags of stuff at hand, and grab what I grab. One reason I love travel, is I save all the lovely scraps and bits of ephemera. All these bits and pieces end up in the collages.

8. Being that your journals are a personal project do you set deadlines for yourself? Or do you continue and to add on to it as you feel like. I heard one artist say in an interview that "if she doesn't get to do her art, someone will get hurt." I find that if I don't work in my journal, after a few days, I turn into a very grouchy unhappy person. For me this is an essential spiritual practice, so there is no question that I work as much as I can. Sometimes other work gets in the way, but I prefer to start every day with journaling, then let the other work flow from that.

9. What is next for your career as an artist? Where are you planning to show next? I am planning on launching a practise doing environmental Shamanism - using drumming and connection with spirit helpers to heal place and space and answer questions for clients. This will be in conjunction with my journaling work, and my magazine, "Creativity Cafe" which helps hold all these different interests in one place where I can share them. And as a shameless plug -- you can find out more about my magazine here:

10. Is there anything new that you want to learn as an artist to explore more possibilities in your work? Healing the planet is a priority for me, as I see so much environmental devastation in our food, in our air, in our ridiculous levels of consumption which have been normalized by big business. and for me, I have learned that healing the Self is the first step in healing the World. Since my journaling is the first step of self healing I know I will always be firmly committed to continuing and sharing this essential practice. Although it seems so personal, it really is part of the wholeness of all life that needs our nurturing.

"One does not stand still looking for a path. One walks; and as one walks, a path comes into being." --Mas Kodani

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sacred Alchemy

I just read somewhere that one thing a Shaman does is to make sacred healing objects.
I realize that my journal is a healing object for me.
And that the self-expression found in an art journal transforms it into a sacred healing object.
The conversion of one element into another.
See if your journal can make some alchemy for you - see if making collages, writing, or just playing with some fun paper and bright colors can turn this journaling work into a sacred act for you.
I know it does for me.

and today's RUNE - Hagalaz, the great disrupter. . . .

"Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don't claim them. Feel the artistry moving through, and be silent." --Rumi

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

EHWAZ - transition and movement

Today for my Rune journal, I pulled the rune Ehwaz - which stands for transition and movement.
Ehwaz comes from the sign for Horse pulling the sun across the sky -- traditionally associated with moral steadfastness and staying the course.
The course of this month for me is packing a household and a studio, and getting two of my three children settled on their own - so I relate strongly to the need for steadfastness.
This rune is also associated with new dwelling places - no surprise there!
New exciting paths await, and I am learning that the journey itself is the goal . . .

Pull a rune, make a collage - it really is an amazing process.

"In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you."
--Deepak Chopra