Monday, September 24, 2012

Journal Challenge

I am doing a 5 day challenge with a holistic health coach based in Boston, Dillan DiGiovanni called 5 Days of Fearless Living.
If you go to Dillan's website  you can register.
There is also a facebook group for sharing ideas and progress, all for free.
Each day for 5 days, you will get a Fearless Living Challenge sent to you via e-mail.
Mine are to: eat no sugar, do some yoga, and not worry about how the class I am teaching today turns out.
I decided to do journal pages for each of these daily challenges, so here is my first one.  Why don't you join me?
Also from Dillan's challenge today:
A Cherokee elder was teaching his children about life.
"A fight is going on inside me," he said to them.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego."
He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."
The grandchildren thought about it and after a minute one of them asked, "Which wolf will win?"
The elder simply replied, "The one you feed."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Meditation on Mushrooms

Yesterday our monthly journaling group started up again after a Summer break. I brought along some photos of some glorious mushrooms that I bought at the Boulder Farmer's Market last weekend. I bought them to cook up in an omelet, but before they were subject to the fire, I just had to spread them out on the counter to photograph them, they were that beautiful.
To take the time to honor wonderful beauty and wonderful food is something I want to remember to do.
And the time spent in the presence of others, all working silently in our journals together is another way to honor beauty. To say it's worth our time to just collage a bunch of photos of mushrooms, to add some color and doodling and words, not expecting anyone to buy anything, to give me fame or fortune for becoming good at this work, not expecting a book deal, a lecture invitation, or a paycheck.
Yet I still do this work.

Someone at our group who is new to journaling mentioned that she was disappointed in her page in the journal, that it felt contrived.
My answer to that is so did the first 20 journals I did that fill up my shelves. That expecting to find truth in one two hour effort perhaps is expecting too much. So often, we want our effort to be rewarded instantly. Malcolm Gladwell tells us that it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at anything. I don't think anyone sits down at a piano, and expects to play Paganini after a few hours of learning about playing.

I am always surprised that most people seem to think art is something people just know how to do, and not something that is learned with years and years of practice. I do love this mushroom journal page I did yesterday in our group. but I have also done hundreds, maybe thousands, of pages that did not please me as much. It's a journey. It takes a long time, and lots of dedication.
Over the last ten years, I worked in my journal so many times instead of cleaning the house, or watching TV, or earning money at a job, or socializing. I took a large chunk of my working life and spent it doing art journaling.

Sometimes I think that was crazy, but then one person will tell me learning to do this work helped them. That learning to take images and colors and doodling and words suddenly revealed something they needed to learn, something they needed to manifest, something they wanted to understand. So this is all for those few people who discover something amazing and deep.
So back to the mushrooms, to honor my love for these fungi by creating a beautiful page reminds me there is joy in these small things in life. and that it is worth our lives to celebrate this.

 "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." --Oscar Wilde

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall Colors

"I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're goin', and hook up with them later." --Mitch Hedberg

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

on travel

Thomas Jefferson wrote to his nephew on August 10, 1787:
"Travelling. This makes men wiser, but less happy. When men of sober age travel, they gather knowledge, which they may apply usefully for their country; but they are subject ever after to recollections mixed with regret; their affections are weakened by being extended over more objects; & they learn new habits which cannot be gratified when they return home. Young men, who travel, are exposed to all these inconveniences in a higher degree, to others still more serious, and do not acquire that wisdom for which a previous foundation is requisite, by repeated and just observations at home.
The glare of pomp and pleasure is analogous to the motion of the blood; it absorbs all their affection and attention, they are torn from it as from the only good in this world, and return to their home as to a place of exile & condemnation. Their eyes are forever turned back to the object they have lost, & its recollection poisons the residue of their lives. Their first & most delicate passions are hackneyed on unworthy objects here, & they carry home the dregs, insufficient to make themselves or anybody else happy. Add to this, that a habit of idleness, an inability to apply themselves to business is acquired, & renders them useless to themselves & their country. These observations are founded in experience.
There is no place where your pursuit of knowledge will be so little obstructed by foreign objects, as in your own country, nor any, wherein the virtues of the heart will be less exposed to be weakened. Be good, be learned, & be industrious, & you will not want the aid of travelling, to render you precious to your country, dear to your friends, happy within yourself. I repeat my advice, to take a great deal of exercise, & on foot. Health is the first requisite after morality.
Write to me often, & be assured of the interest I take in your success, as well as the warmth of those sentiments of attachment with which I am, dear Peter, your affectionate friend."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


We all have heard that idea from Joseph Campbell that we are to follow our bliss.
What is your bliss?
and how do you find out what it is?
For me, it has involved a long road of trying lots of things:
some false starts, some "non-productive" projects which might have appeared to not have a point, but later had an obvious message or lesson, and some detours of service to loved ones and the compromise we all face when working in a family.
Often I need to remind myself each day what my bliss really is.
Once you've found it, following it should come easily. No?
For me, it seems an ongoing job to stay on the path, avoiding those distractions, that empty busy-ness, and that my mind takes me to despair about the world's problems that are way beyond my control.
But my bliss is always there in the end, gently encouraging me to follow it, to focus on it, to remember that adding my own joy to the world does way more than foundering in random hopelessness of the global struggles today.

How about you?
"Passion is the mother of all my magic." --Phillip Petit

Monday, September 10, 2012


Showing up -- I once had someone at one of my art shows ask me how in the world I came up with my ideas? I think they thought I just snapped my fingers, and had some original artwork.
The answer is that I come to the studio every day, and work.
Or play, depending on what my mood is.
and the secret is that those are both the same thing.

I think if anyone surrounded themselves with lush materials, put it all in an inspirational space, and spent 8 hours there every day, they also would come up with wonderful things. But first, you do have to put yourself there. I have cups of juicy markers, stacks of ink pads, piles and piles and piles (and more piles) of interesting papers, magazines, books, wrapping paper, postcards, ephermera, all ready to be cut up and torn up. I have lots of different kinds of glues and connecting material, including colored staples, tape, spray mount, and a sewing maching. and, for better or worse, I have a computer with this internet thing, where I can google art journaling, and come up with ten thousand ideas in a heartbeat.

The trick is, at some point, to stop LOOKING and start DOING. So, let's get on with it.
Happy Journaling!
"I don't read music. I don't write it. So I wander around on the guitar until something starts to present itself."     --James Taylor

Friday, September 7, 2012


I just opened my e-mail and got a lovely note from across the globe.
Denise Daffara, from Australia, sent a photo of a journal page she created using a piece of mail art I had sent her as a RAAK. She also shared how she is in a subscription journaling group with a bunch of lively gals here from the States called the Cosmic Cowgirls, and works with on-line videos from Effy Wild.
Isn't it amazing the way we can do this work with others from around the world? In my journaling work, I often talk about moving inward, using this as a creative outlet to find my voice. But the other side of the coin is we can journal in community, build authentic and wonderful connections with others in a collaborative way.
To share journaling with others, I offer Art Journal Parties, and I offer a free once a month local group at my Unitarian Church (I guess I need to make a webpage for that!)
And of course, this blog, which is my way to share ideas with journalers too numerous to count, (well, I guess someone is counting -- 89171 hits so far according to that little box down there on the right.)
SO, here I sit, 4:20 in the morning (yup, couldn't sleep), sipping some marvelous coffee, receiving marvelous words from another artist on the other side of the planet where it is probably 4:20 in the afternoon, reading Denise's lovely words of kindness, gratitude and love.
and do check out her artwork, very cute!
Isn't it wonderful that we can work together to make journals?
Here is our collaboration:

"Let's you and I conjure together. You watch me and I'll watch you and I will show you how to show me how to show you how to do our marvelous human tricks together." --Courtney Milne

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

finding peace in frantic world

This can be hard. This "living life" stuff.
I sometimes feel like I learn the lessons over and over.
My 17 year old daughter sometimes tells me to take a deep breath and relax, that I am SO stressed.
and I take her advice.
There is so much in this life to distract us from our joy.
Today, my car battery died, I had to make decisions about our basement with the builder (we had a flood), I had a big art sale (WOOHOO) that needed credit card processing, I had prescriptions run out with no refills, and a soap order to get out.
This all seemed to happen at once.
I had my phone and computer going at the same time, trying to get all this done.
Then, stop.

I made a new batch of soap and it is curing on the table right next to me, the deep sweet smell of olive and coconut oils, shea butter, and lemony vervain is floating around my head, giving me a nice dose of aromatherapy.
I have had people ask me how I have time for art journaling, my answer is I don't have time NOT to work in my journal, that this work is what keeps me able to do all the other things on my to-do list which make me crazy and frantic.
That, and breathing.

Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart, and that depends upon how much he has polished it. Whoever has polished it more sees more - more unseen forms become manifest to him. --Rumi

Monday, September 3, 2012


Work from long ago.
I am getting some of my older work organized and sorted. A studio flood resulted in most of my work on paper being ruined. Twenty years of work. Sad, true, yet it also has made me look at what I have done, and think a little about how to get some of these things into the world. Sharing here, sharing in workshops, sharing in galleries, it's all good.
It is also nice to have a conversation with the past creative work I have done, as well as to have an understanding the greater good is part of why I am doing this work, so telling the story of my work is an important part of the life of the art.
"Do not measure in terms of time: one year or ten years means nothing.
For the artist there is no counting or tallying up; just ripening like
the tree that does not force its sap and endures the storms of spring
without fearing that summer will not come.
But it will come. It comes…"

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Now, right now, sitting in front of your computer, browsing the internet, looking at this and that, probably a bit distracted and maybe thinking about going to the fridge, or checking your e-mail, or wondering why you aren't sitting at your studio desk in front of your collage papers and journal, doing SOMETHING other than just mindlessly browsing. . . .
Breathe in deep.
and imagine the life your grand- or great-grandparents lived.  Imagine if they woke up one morning in your shoes, and learned of indoor plumbing, houses heated and cooled to whatever temperature was desired, a fridge full of food, some of it flown to them from across the planet. 
A car in the driveway to take them to the store if they needed milk.
A plastic and metal box with 10,000 movies in it, ready to be watched instantly.
Imagine them looking in your closet, and seeing your clothes and shoes and warm coats and workout gear.   Sneakers and sandals and footwear in exactly their right size.
Imagine them discovering the internet, a place where they could buy the exactly perfect boots they were seeking on ebay, read the current news from around the world, send a twitter message to be seen by 428 of their closest friends, look up the price of a plane ticket to NYC in a month, even though they didn't plan on going. 
Imagine them learning that any information, ANY INFORMATION they sought could be found with a little searching on Google. 
Imagine explaining to them that any music they wanted to hear, any art they were curious about seeing, any facade of any famous building could be seen right then.
What an amazing place this world is.  Humans have created magnificence and beauty, since blowing chalk dust around their hands in a cave 30,000 years ago, we have had this ability to feel wonder at the world around us.
Last night as a blue moon shone through the Colorado cloudy sky,  I was lucky enough to gather in a circle with about 40 other people, and light some candles and think about how blessed we are. 
In ways we seem to forget every day.
Such magic around us.
Such wonder.
"Realizing your heart’s desire doesn’t require striving, it requires surrender.”  --Lisa King