“When there are two or more kindred spirits, soul sisters, like minded friends, to share the excitement and want a circle to happen, there will be more creative energy to draw from.” Jean Shinoda Bolen
When sisters gather
And the wind/breath/spirit blows
And seeds are scattered
And nurturing happens even when we are unaware
-Margee (From Sacred Circles)
Recently, Megan Jefferson, Lia Porto, Este Macleod, and Rachel Maroudas (who are all artists featured in my book) and Tonia Jenny (my editor) joined me in dreamy Sequim, WA to create art and celebrate sisterhood.
We came together from all over the world—England, Argentina, Indiana, Arizona, Oregon and Washington not knowing each other (except for Megan and me) but connected by our love for creating art. We had no idea what would happen but bravely followed our intuition that seemed to be telling us each to show up and trust that magic would unfold.
We were not disappointed—magic was in abundance!
There was so so so much beauty. There is magic when women gather. It all happens so quickly and so powerfully. Within a few hours, we felt as though we had known each other our whole lives. Sisterhood was born.
My life expanded by living with these strong, brilliant, inspiring women almost as though a veil was pulled back into another universe. A universe that I believe holds tremendous power and beauty that we all deserve. I realized the following…
Women are meant to be together. I became acutely aware of how much this is missing in so many of our lives. The sounds of women sharing the same space, the incessant laughter, the songs, the talking, the meal preparing, the inside jokes, the support. It all felt so natural and so right—as though a primal need was finally being fulfilled and my heart/my whole body felt full and content.
Sabbaticals are mandatory. This is the first time I have been away from my children since 5 years ago when I went to the Mayo Clinic to be treated for my heat allergy. (But does that really even count?) I returned more at peace and completely refreshed, which has made me a much more patient and fully present mother and wife. I haven’t felt this renewed or re-energized in a long time.
This is the river of my life, and I’m surrendering to the current. I want to create more scenarios that allow women to truly enjoy the magic and fulfillment and joy of sisterhood and making connections with other women. So stay tuned for possible creative retreats being offered in the future!
So much happened that there are no words for, but here are a few highlights…
We gathered in a circle each morning and evening for meditation, reflection, and conversation.
Rachel, who is a sacred ceremonialist and flower essence energy reader, did a reading for each of us and created one of a kind flower essence blends for each of us.
We bonded around delicious food and charming ambiance..
We painted A LOT and enjoyed the beautiful garden and water features surrounding us.
We did a speed collab project and quickly passed 5 canvases around until finished so we could each have one.
We also created this large painting together.
Tonia led us in a reflective and revealing exercise based on Angeles Arrien’s study of universal shapes and their meanings in our lives (based on her book Signs of Life: The Five Universal Shapes and How to Use Them).
We then incorporated some of the shapes we chose into our beaded bracelets that Tonia taught us how to make using a loom.
We hiked among moss and towering greens to Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park. (If you ever are with me when I see a waterfall be warned–I get a little excited. Waterfall HOLLA!)
Our final night we put flowers in our hair, dressed up in goddess attire and went to dinner at Nourish, a charming farm to plate restaurant.
The next morning we gathered for one last time in our sacred circle. Each person spoke, and Tonia shared two words to describe each of us. Mine was Easy Joy, and I’m digging that!
Oh, these luminous women! My soul sisters who shifted something inside me. I have no doubt that we were all supposed to meet at this exact time in our lives. I wish this type of magic for everybody.
We opened a beautiful portal…
The circle is open but not unbroken.
“Your life is a sacred journey. It is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path… exactly where you are meant to be right now… And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing, of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love.” ~ Caroline Adams
A little over a month ago, I started practicing gentle Yoga.
Because of my heat allergy, I have not been able to do any physical exercise for about 11 years. As my Mayo Clinic doc explained to me, my muscles were going to atrophy which as he said was “really too bad.”
Since then, I have become very skilled at avoiding heat and physical exercise.
Then, I got a book deal. While writing it, I hit a block. Deep down I knew that I had to align my mind, body and soul for this labor of love. And, my body didn’t feel good. It felt, well, kinda dead. I needed physical energy, and my intuition was guiding me toward Yoga.
Even though I had tried Yoga before without success due to having a heat reaction after a few minutes, I knew in my heart it was time to try again.
I went to a gentle Yoga class and made it through the whole hour without over-heating. I was floating the rest of the day. I couldn’t believe after just ONE hour that I felt so good. My body felt alive again. And light and sore and achy in the most wonderful way. Just to feel it in any way felt good. To know those parts were there. To feel whole.
Yoga has allowed me to find my center again–my wholeness. It has also been a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster. It turns out that in addition to the heat challenge, my muscles really have atrophied. I am weak and shaky. I used to be strong, and sports always came easily for me. I was an athlete, dammit! However, I am feeling stronger every day and that is the most glorious feeling ever…my body is waking up.
I sit in the back of the room flopping around on my mat, taking a lot of breaks, modifying poses, unable to do what everybody else is doing, burying my face in a cold towel, and begging my body to not feel heat. One thought that went thru my head at the first rigorous class (I try regular Yoga sometimes now too) was, “Wow, I really am handicap.” I used to avoid this reality, but now I am facing it head on.
Yoga is exactly what I need, even if it isn’t always easy. Just like in painting and life, I’m gonna show up. And keep trying. Yoga is the perfect practice to gently wake up and align my body, spirit and mind. I’m pretty sure if everybody did yoga, it would change the world.
It has definitely changed mine. And, I am so grateful for this lifechanging gift that my intuition was guiding me toward. I have a lot of gratitude for the way writing a book brought Yoga and mind/body healing into my life. I feel so so good and am reminded to keep trying, introduce new things into my life, and listen to my intuition and go where it guides me.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this, I just feel like sharing the messages it sent me…
…Just because you couldn’t do something at one time, doesn’t mean that will always be the case.
…Change, growth, rebirth are constant and natural.
…Just because you can’t do something the way everybody else does or at the same speed or as well, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it at all.
…Honor your mind/body/spirit. Make time for your whole self and nurture those parts of you that need it.
There is magic when women gather.
Lately, there has been an abundance of inspiring women in my life just when I need their incredible energy.
(I love how that works, don’t you?)
She and life coach, Hildie Dunn, who is passionate about helping others actualize their dreams, teamed up to create a weekend of dreaming, bonding, and tapping into your power. Hello, inspiration!
Meeting Amy Butler was akin to meeting a rock star! Her fabric line is brilliant, but she is an even more amazing person.
We dreamed, we schemed, we collaged. I so enjoyed the intimate group of women who gathered to share their stories and hopes. Powerful.
I spent time with Monica Lee from Smart Creative Women–another rock star! Her online show has been the single most helpful and inspiring resource for me as an artist. I listen to it when I am in my studio painting, and I soak in the positive success stories and expert advice.
Monica has been like a girlfriend that hangs out in my studio and brings her cool friends along. I always had a feeling we would meet someday in person, and I thank my lucky stars we finally did because she has played such an important role in my life without even knowing it!
Filled to the brim with positive energy from these inspiring women, I was ready for the (slightly daunting) photo shoot for my book with North Light Books!
Despite my fears that I would mess up every painting, the photo shoot was a blast thanks to two new soul sisters, Sarah Laichas (editor) and Christine Polomsky (photographer). They made the photo shoot SO much fun and relaxing.
I enjoyed every moment we spent together in the studio and going out to lunch every day, which felt like such an indulgent and grown-up thing to do. I never go out to lunch and usually eat whatever I can put in my mouth without having to touch with my fingers that are covered in paint, such as Luna Bars or a bag of cashews!
We went to lunch with Cherie Haas, kindred spirit and online editor of Cloth, Paper, Scissors, and the Artist’s Network. This woman, who has some seriously peaceful energy about her, knocked my socks off even before she mentioned that she is a fire dancer, as in she dances and eats fire as a performer. I was speechless. I’m going to name a painting, Firedancer, after her someday soon.
My longtime friend, Megan, made an appearance to create collaborative paintings with me for the photo shoot. Talk about an energy rush! Collaborating with her was an out of body experience. Something strange happens when you create with another person and communicate with your intuition and heart. Here is a sneak peek at one of the paintings we created together!
These experiences felt like a huge celebration after the last few years of trying to “make it” as an artist! It was a pause to just celebrate, enjoy the journey, and re-fill my well of inspiration!
I am committed to creating more scenarios like this in my life and for others as well. I cannot wait to host an art retreat for women someday soon! We all deserve this type of connection and need more of it in our lives, no?
For the past week, I have been diving into Kelly Rae Robert’s magical ecourse, Hello Soul, Hello Mixed Media Mantras.
The first part of the course involves “Silencing the Noise” and listening to your soul’s whispers. From Kelly Rae’s amazing reflective exercises, we have been writing our own mantras that will later be included in our artwork.
Those blue sticky notes are all mantras! At first it took me awhile, but now I can’t stop thinking up mantras throughout the day. Here are a few and the story behind them.
This mantra was inspired by my recent desire to wear flowers in my hair and reconnect with my younger, more carefree self. I found this flowery headband at a store one day and when I put it on, I felt like me again. I remembered parts of myself that I liked when I was younger. That is what is great about getting older–you can take what you like about yourself and leave the rest behind!
I feel like if we don’t pay attention, we can lose a little bit of that youthful spunk and expression and let our inner selves get a bit too quiet. I want to reconnect with my earthy, natural side that threw caution to the wind and wasn’t afraid to be a bit avant-garde if it meant being myself.
This mantra is inspired by my insecurity in social situations. In the past, I was shy and a bit reserved when meeting someone new–you know, afraid to just be me. Today, I try to shift my perspective by focusing on the other person’s experience.
By opening up and letting out my true self, I can make other people feel comfortable and loved. By seeing these encounters in a different way, I am able to value what I have to offer someone who also just wants the same thing I do–acceptance, friendship and love.
This mantra is about balance. Its about finding the magic and significance in everything but not to the point where it might overwhelm or paralyze us.
In painting, this happens when I am afraid to paint over an area or try something new. I have to remind myself that taking risks is worthwhile, and that I can always paint back over something if I don’t like it.
In life, this happens when I am fearful for whatever reason because I think something is a bigger deal than it really is. You know what I mean? When we over-think, over-analyze, and over-worry. It turns out not to be the end of the world, right? This grounds and centers me to find balance between not caring at all and caring to an unhealthy point. This can sometimes mean knowing when to hold on and when to let go.
In the next few weeks, I will continue to create mantras and start to incorporate them into my mixed media paintings!
I wanted to create original and affordable art because I think handmade gifts have love woven in them. This gives them with an energy that delights and surprises people.
So I came up with heARTfelt Cards just in time for Valentine’s Day–yeehaw!
On the front of each blank card is a mini original painting on canvas that can be removed and displayed on an easel (included).
There is something really sweet and delicate about these mini canvases that I’m drawn to.
12 Cards are currently available in my Etsy Shop. Grab them now and surprise a loved one this Valentine’s Day with a unique and heartfelt gift. Perfect to put on their desk, window ledge or nightstand to remind them of your love.
Here are a few that are available, but check out the shop to see them all!
Delightful for any occasion but especially sweet and sentimental for February, the month of love!
“Come forth into the light of things. Let Nature be your teacher.” -William Wordsworth
The baby seal wasn’t the only animal that seemed to be intervening on my behalf.
Rainie came to my bedside very early on New Year’s Day barking and frantic to get to the back door. I chased her to the beach just in time to see the sunrise. It was just the two of us (everybody else was sleeping)–which was odd because I was alone (this never happens!). We walked in the quiet (quiet never happens either!) except of the shrill sound of the seagulls and lapping of waves.
As the sun rose over the bluffs and warmed us, I couldn’t help but think Rainie had given me the gift of this rare moment. A prayer emerged in a mindless and effortless way. “May light shine on me and within me.” The image that emerged was receiving light/blessings and offering light/blessings to others from within me.
I found myself silently chanting it over and over.
This is my 2014 mantra. I felt a strong kinship and deep gratitude to the animal spirits on this trip that seemed to be guiding me toward the enlightenment that I was seeking. They confirmed my need to pay attention to my surroundings and stay open to the wonder that surrounds us each day.
The moment I choose OPEN as my word for 2014 and consciously want to be receptive to magical moments, amazing unusual things start happening. I love life.
I’ll end with a few pics from our polar bear plunge and what has become a baptismal cleansing of sorts to wash off the old and welcome the new. We actually did two polar plunges this year. One in the ocean and one at Pine Lake later in the day. Both were equally thrilling and special (and freezing!) in their own ways.
2014 is off to quite a mystical start.
On New Year’s Eve, we spent most of the day playing on the beach. After everybody went inside, Nora and I returned a few minutes later to collect seashells and spotted this animal skeleton in the exact spot we had been–pristine in its weathered beauty.
I was afraid to leave it alone until our friend, Mike, came back outside a few minutes later. I told him that there was a baby seal and it looked injured and dying. In my defense, it kept drifting off to sleep and looked so helpless.
Mike called Marine Life. They assured us this was normal, and mama seals leave their babies on the beach while they fish for food. We cracked up after I calmed down from my initial hysteria and tears. At one point while Mike was on the phone, the baby seal fell asleep, and I was yelling, “I think it’s dying. It’s dead. It just died.”
Out of the vast shoreline, why did the mama seal choose that spot in front of our house? We were the only people out on the beach that day. It’s almost as though she left the baby there for us to watch over. It was just a remarkable experience.
Seals swim above and beneath the water enabling them to experience both the inner and outer worlds. They teach those with this totem how to flow, how to hear, and how to discover the deeper mysteries of their true nature.
There are no limits to the creative energies stimulated by this medicine. The seal is the keeper of wisdom and shows us what is hidden deep within ourselves. They teach us how to integrate our imagination with the reasoning power of the intellect. They symbolize our ability to listen to our inner voice.
The timing of this revelation is crucial because I just started a huge project that will be the focus of my entire year. I will have to be open to my thoughts, dig deep into my knowing, trust my intellect and creativity, and allow them to come forth in unison. I will be as vulnerable as the baby seal, opening myself up to failure and criticism.
After reading this, choosing OPEN as my word for 2014 seemed serendipitous. More than ever, I am feeling the need to be open and have my receptors turned on and tuned into the world. I want to be open to giving, receiving, learning, loving, sharing and revealing my true self, new relationships, new experiences–all of it.
I want to be open to the magic that is all around us and allow myself to recognize my spirituality in it. These moments are triggers that allow us to reflect and reveal messages that we consciously or subconsciously seek out.
The day before, several artists I greatly admire RSVP’d to a retreat I’m hosting this summer. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep that night. I also started to doubt myself. Ever since motherhood, I feel that I have lost parts of myself–my humor, my wit, my intellect. (I’m not bashing motherhood, but sometimes my brain feels like mush.) I started worrying about being boring and blah. Most of my life involves wiping up spills and carpooling.
Then, I see this seal and assume it is dying, dead or injured. I panic and cry. I find out that it isn’t dead–it is just sleeping.
I am reminded that we all have insecurities. That I have something to offer and give in the way of protection–making others feel safe and comforted. Holding a space for them to be who they are. Honoring the sacred in all of us.
I want to practice the faith of the seal.
Later in the year, I will share what exactly my project is, but for now I will ask that you hold me in the light, as the Quakers say.
“Our whole life could be ritual; we could learn to stop when the sun goes down and when the sun comes up. We could learn to listen to the wind; we could learn to notice that it’s raining or snowing or hailing or calm…” – Pema Chodron
This holiday season we embraced the idea of making the ordinary special. In other words, I was not up for a big fuss this Christmas. We decided not to have our annual holiday party. Keeping it low key was the vibe I was feeling this year.
Lately, I’ve been gravitating toward a more old-fashioned style of living, most likely from feeling overwhelmed by our fast-paced lives. It seems that when we, as a collective whole, had fewer resources, we were more resourceful.
So, to make things special we made simple moments meaningful. We have welcomed simplicity into our lives as we have let go of others and embraced CREATIVITY and RITUAL. The beauty of rituals is that they take something seemingly common and make it special by just changing it the slightest bit. By making it in some way ceremonial. And, it turns out the more you practice these things, the more natural it becomes to live in this joyful and celebratory way. It’s exciting to see the kids embrace this lifestyle.
We made a Christmas town from cardboard boxes for Nora’s new Santa, Rudolph, Clarice and Frosty dolls. I wasn’t too good at capturing photos in all its glory (Santa’s sleigh is adorable!), but here are a few to give you an idea!
Other than that, we had a very quiet and relaxing Christmas at home with each other.
We’ve enjoyed baking and cooking, naps and walks. It’s been such a lovely time. This year’s unexpected Christmas gift is the gift of simplicity, creativity and resourcefulness. Brought on out of necessity and as a conscious choice to simplify and make the mundane meaningful.
I hope you all had a lovely and restful holiday! Happy New Year!
I’m working on a special project right now, and the incredibly talented Iris Scott has something to do with it. She paints masterpieces by fingerpainting with oils–a technique she discovered on accident in Thailand. It was love at first stroke for her. Check out her work here!
I took one of her workshops on Friday and loved every minute of it. My favorite part of workshops is spending time with other artsy folks. I spend a lot of time alone in my studio and having people to talk to is so inspiring and refreshing. The energy of these women is so incredible.
I also learned that Iris embellishes canvas reproductions–which means she adds original paint strokes to give the reproduction a more unique and original quality. I just might have to start doing that too.
Here are a few images from Iris’ one day workshop at ArtSpot in Edmonds, WA.
This day felt so indulgent and such a gift to my soul. Note to self: do more of this in the future! Thanks, Iris, for an amazing art and soul sister experience.
What has me excited lately?
Kelly Rae Roberts just launched The Wear Your Joy Project and eloquently explains why here. I was immediately drawn to to the idea of being more intentional about what I choose to wear. About the energy and atmosphere I create for myself and others.
Nowadays, we tend to downplay everything a bit, don’t you think? I’m a casual person, but every now and then I like to get dressed up. It makes you feel special and refreshed and marks a shift in time and events. Did you know teens wear jeans to Homecoming and Prom? (I’m just learning this now that I have a child in high school.) For me, it comes down to feeling worthy. What happened to celebration? Feeling special? To honoring yourself?
Ever since I was a child I’ve longed for the more formal dress of my grandparents’ generation. You know, the generation that took pride in their handwriting and dressed up to go grocery shopping. The hats the men and women wore make me swoon.
Perhaps that was silly and superficial, or perhaps they knew something we have let slip in our fast-paced lives – that details add up to be reflections of who we are. That they do matter. That everything we do impacts ourselves and others – including the way we dress.
This picture of my grandmother, Margaret, has captivated me for years. I knew her as a devoted grandmother, but not as a young woman. How beautiful (and surprising!) is that top? It made me want to learn more about her. Which got me thinking…what messages do I want to leave behind to my children’s children? What messages do I want to send my children now?
When I began participating in The Wear Your Joy Project, I realized that my clothes are the keepers of stories, just as I’d love to hear the story behind my grandmother’s dress. It’s not about the clothes. It’s about the memories we make in them. And how they make us feel. And sharing our unique spirit and joy with others. I don’t have a lot of clothes, but the ones I have are picked for special reasons, just like the objects in our home.
My children will probably always remember me wearing old clothes splattered in paint and furry slippers. And, I love this image that suggests creativity and comfort. They will remember the time we spent together in my studio – the talks we had, the art we created, doing their homework while I painted.
I’ll be honest I don’t dress up every day and am often in sweats, but I want to be more playful with my clothing. I hope my children’s eyes and hearts absorb these values/messages as well…
*Embrace creativity, originality, uniqueness. Be yourself. *Be Brave. *You can create joy by being inventive and without spending a lot of money. *Celebrate yourself and your life. Every day. Carpe Diem! *Labels are someone else’s values. Define yourself and don’t let others do it for you. *Do what makes YOU feel the most alive. *Stay young at heart, aka color is not scary. (Adults are always telling me they are afraid of color. What is up with that? I don’t even know how to respond.) *Take risks. *Don’t be afraid to try something new. *Surround yourself with objects that make you feel loved and alive. Defining value in that way rather than in a monetary or superficial way. *Respect yourself.
Can you convey these messages through your clothing? I
think know so.
Fashion is a form of self-expression and is a creative, artistic endeavor. It’s also an act of self-love.
Like so many of us, I tend to put my needs on the back burner and neglect details. But, this seemed important enough to take notice and participate. In addition to the above, I am doing this…
1. To honor myself and remind myself daily that I deserve to surround myself with beauty.
2. To feel good. As the MLB baseball player Tori Hunter says, “When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you play good. When you play good, they pay good.” I want to “play good” and set myself up for my definition of success.
2. To encourage others to let creativity, playfulness and non-conformity shine.
3. It is refreshing to see pictures of women of all body shapes and sizes wearing clothes in fun and fashionable ways.
4. To share stories. These are what connect us to one another.
So there you have it! How about you? Are you ready to wear your joy? To join, use #thewearyourjoyproject. Check out Kelly Rae’s Instagram feed here.