Category Archives: Sheltered Wonder

What’s Your What?

It took me all week to figure out how I wanted to finish off the binding on my Sheltered Wonder Art Journal.

I’d finished binding in the 20 pages. I’d even created a little video of the completed journal. Except for the spine, I felt it had come out really well.

But that spine…

There were lots of alternatives on how I could finish it off… the hows were limitless!

The unfinished spine.

Yesterday, the answer came to me. Paint a panel to cover up the messy threads.

So I did. And though the colours were slightly different than the cover itself I knew I could make it work.

But, how to give it a ‘finished’ look when I wouldn’t be able to fold over the panel at the top and bottom edge? (The inside pages came right up to the edge leaving no room for me to fold the page over.)

Plus the threads made a lumpy surface. How to smooth it out?

What about ribbon? The voice of the muse whispered. You have that beautiful blue ribbon with that rolled edge. What if you lay it on top first?

“But that’s not how I planned on doing it,” I hissed back.

Calmly she urged me on. “Let go of the how, Louise. Focus on what you’re trying to create.”

What am I trying to create? A beautiful finished spine for my journal.

I got the ribbon. Tried it out. I liked the look. I glued it down.

And then… well, I was still kind of attached to ‘the how’ that I’d started with. I wanted to affix my painted panel — but when I tested it, it still looked untidy and ‘blah’.

I sat and contemplated ‘the what’ of my project. And that’s when inspiration struck.

In the bottom drawer of the supplies drawer that sits beside me at my work table, I have a collection of tags I’ve made – for a rainy day, or perhaps just this occassion.

I dug through the drawer and found one I’d made a long time ago after seeing something similar at a craft fair.

It was the perfect fit.

I made a few adjustments and glued it in place.

Perfect.

The finished spine.

And here’s the thing — The finished spine is much different than what I’d started out to create. Remember the painted panel? I never did use it!

The lesson? If I had stayed focused on ‘the how’ of what I was doing, I would not have been open to the possibilities that appeared as I worked on the spine.

It’s not the ‘how’ that makes a difference. It’s the ‘what’.

In this case… A finished spine that created a visually appealing finish to the book.

If I had stayed focused on the ‘how’ of finishing off the spine, I would have been disappointed simply because the how was all about doing it the way my mind told me was ‘the right way’.

As long as I stay focused on ‘the what’, the story will always be about creating better. Always. Because the ‘what’ is about listening to my heart. The heart knows. The ‘how’ is an intellectual exercise. The ‘what’ engages the heart in taking action to create better.

Because that’s the thing. Staying attached to my first idea of how I was going to finish the spine would have kept me stuck in seeing only one path to getting to my goal, a path that would have resulted in an ‘okay’ finished product.

By focussing on my ‘what’, by letting my heart lead the way, I created something I really like. Something that pleases me. Something that reflects what the journal is all about — an expression of all I’ve learned, experienced and grown through during these months of self-isolation.

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And… if you want to see the video of the finished product (minus the completed spine) I created of the journal I’ve included it below.

For a first attempt at using Photoshop Premiere video editing software, I’m pleased with what I created. 🙂 The how was easy — learn the software without pulling my hair out! 🙂

Everything I Create. I Am.

A quadriptych of bookmarks created on cast-off pieces of watercolour paper.

I wrote the following in response to a post David Kanigan of Live & Learn shared this morning. (Do go check it out — the quote and his photo are beautiful and provocative and peace-inducing. Click HERE)

“For the past month, I have been creating daily what I’ve called my Sheltered Wonder Art Journal. I wanted to explore what Covid brought beyond sickness and death, fear and loss.

Covid brought silence. Deep. Meaningful. Exquisite, and sometimes painful, silence. It brought the opportunity to walk at a quieter pace, to speak more slowly, to act more thoughtfully, to be present in this moment more completely. To be still within the silence and the noise.

These are the lessons from these times I want to embrace. To carry with me. To hold as true to living a rich, fulfilled and compassionate life that does not seek its purpose in getting more out of life, but discovers it in giving more to enrich life on this planet we call home through everything I do. Everything I create. Everything I am.

David, a master of words, condensed my response into two powerful sentences:

Everything I create. I am.

Yesterday, I had intended to take a rest day from the studio. And then, as she does, the muse floated in on a wave of joy enticing me to create ‘something’. “If everything you are is what you create, then what are you creating with your today Louise?” – I’m pretty sure she would have asked that if she’d read David’s response to my comment.

What am I creating?

Everything I create is an expression of my essence. My creative core. My joy. My love. My curiosity. And, my fears and sadnesses. My worries and confusions.

What I create is a reflection of all of me. I cannot separate one from the other. Everything I create. I am.

Not just in the studio, or the kitchen, but everywhere in my life.

Everything I create. I am.

When I let anger become my voice through words that hurt, I am those words. I am that anger.

When I allow fear to raise my arms against another, or turn my back on their suffering, I am that raised arm. I am that suffering. I am that fear.

And when I embrace life in all its beautiful nature and imbue everything in my world with Love of all life on this planet earth, I am that Love in all its beautiful nature.

Everything I create. I am.

I can chose to create from a place of anger, fear, worry. Or, I can choose to allow Love to be my inspiration. My muse. My spark.

Whatever I create. It is a reflection of all that I am.

Everything I create. I am.

I am sitting within the beauty and invitation of those words. Allowing them to slowly float down out of my conscious awareness deep into my belly to become my entire body attuned to their resonance.

Everything I create. I am.

Namaste

Looking Forward…

Looking forward, there is only love – inside back page of Sheltered Wonder Art Journal

I completed the back inside page of my Sheltered Wonder Art Journal yesterday.

I played and experimented and let it be what it is without fussing over my thoughts of – “Oh no, I could have…”. “I wished I’d…”. “Why didn’t I…”

Like the river, I flow forward. There is no going back to the moment that just passed.

Looking forward, there is only Love.

One discovery I carry with me out of the journey of creating this page, and ultimately the journal, is the one where I choose to recognize my power to choose. Love. Always.

When I see this moment as a portal into the next, Love invites me to cross-over, leaving all my fears, worries, insecurities, doubts, behind. Being human, I struggle to let them go and so, they cloud the present moment leading to the next. They obscure the Love that is the wholeness of everything.

“What if…,” the wise woman within asks me, “what if you choose to trust?”

Seriously? Trust that I’ll be okay without my fears, worries, insecurities, doubts… Trust that Love is enough? That I am enough?

Is Love enough to embody all my human stuff?

And I smile.

And breathe.

Creating this journal has been a labour of Love. It has held me under its thrall for the past month, inviting me to let go of my self-criticisms and worries and doubts to fall, effortlessly and with grace, into the wonder and magic of the creative process (which is Life).

It has taught me to trust in the process. To trust in Life.

If life is the process of moving from one moment to the next, when I choose to see it is Love that invites me to let go of this moment to step into the next, then I must trust that is enough. That I am enough. Or, as in this case, this page is enough.

In an ideal world we would all choose to cross from one love-imbued moment into the next, leaving our fears, our worries, our insecurities, our doubts that cloud the present moment and all the Love it contains, behind.

What if… we chose to do just that? Every moment of every day? To carry only Love? And trust, Love is Enough.

Namaste

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About the Page:

I intentionally printed the profile facing outward from the page (my first attempt she was facing inward. I thought, “That works.” The muse had a stronger vision. I reprinted her so that when she was affixed to the page, she was facing outwards) — She is (I am) looking forward, directly at Love.

As I wanted to play with some sewing and ribbon in the journal, (to symbolize ‘threading it all together’) I drew and cut out the profile and then monoprinted it onto cloth that I affixed with ribbon and glued it at the top, onto the page.

Under the fabric, within the whiteness of the profile, a page with the title of all the blog posts I’ve written about each page is affixed, just visible through the profile.

As I only affixed the cloth at the top, it can be lifted to reveal the page.

For me, this symbolizes how we can intellectually understand that Love is the Answer, but until we lift the veil of our human condition to face and honour our doubts and worries and concerns, as well as our lack of trust, we cannot ‘see’ how we have the choice to simply choose Love, again and again and again.

Until we are lovingly willing to peer into the mysteries of life and embrace our own mystery and wonder, and trust that we are enough, we will carry our doubts and worries through time.

Letting go is essential.

And letting go only happens when we trust Love will greet us at the doorway and welcome us in, again and always. In Love, we will be enough.

And yeah. That’s easier said than done!

The Bird of Time

In the final days of my mother’s life, I carried with me a book that was one of my father’s favourites – Edward Fitzgerald’s “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”.

On those nights when I sat in the dark alone with her as she slept, I would read to her the poetry my father once read aloud.

“Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring

Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:

The Bird of Time has but a little way to flutter

and the Bird is on the Wing.

Yesterday, as I began work on the final 2-page spread of my Sheltered Wonder art journal, the Bird of Time flew onto the page, reminding me that “Time is fleeting. Savour every moment and then, with a loving heart, let every moment go and flow with grace into the next.”

This moment in which I sit typing, watching the river flow deep and fast as spring runoff swells its waters, it is the only moment I have in which to be present within the beauty and the mystery of life and death.

Three months ago, as I sat in the dark of night in my mother’s room, reading to her, singing, holding her hand or sitting silently within the stillness of her breathing, the Bird of Time was fluttering its wings calling her home to where she yearned to go – back to her family, back into the arms of my father, her beloved Louis, back to the God who had never forsaken her.

This morning, I sit writing and the Bird of Time is on the Wing, calling me, just as the Egyptian goddess did on an earlier page, to ‘Awaken and Dare’.

There is much brokenness in this world of ours. Much despair. Anger. Fear. Death. Turmoil. Angst. Inequality. Injustice. Prejudice. Racism. Apathy. Confusion. Silence. Condemnation.

And always, in the brokenness, there is the wholeness of life. There is Love.

Yesterday, as I walked in the forest with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and watched him run and chase the ball and stop to sniff grass and dandelions in full bloom, I was reminded of just how precious this moment is. And how filled with miracles life can be.

This turmoil that Covid has brought, the death of one man under the knee of another that has erupted in cries for justice, change and equality, perhaps they are the carriers of the miracle we have needed to force us to stop chasing after dreams of more wealth and power and to become present in the beauty of this life we embody of planet earth, our shared home.

Perhaps, they are bidding us to dare to examine our human condition and awaken to its priceless beauty, a beauty that affects each of us the same, yet different.

Every human being has skin covering a skeleton made up of bones upon which arteries and veins, organs and muscles rely. The inner workings of our human condition are the same for each of us. It is just the outer manifestation of the miracle of our life that is different for all 7.5+ bilion of us.

And, just as my mother’s passing was not the ending of my life but the beginning of a new phase, the miracle that Covid brings and the miracle that has erupted with George Floyd’s death is not a symptom of the dying off of our humanity. It is our awakening.

What we do in this moment, right now, matters. It matters how we respond, how we step forward, how we find healing, how we give and find and receive forgiveness. How we share grace.

It all matters, just as the lives of those who have died under Covid’s insidious presence matter. Just as Black Lives Matter.

It is the miracle of these times. They are not calling us to rise up and state, ‘my life matters more’. They are urging us to claim that other lives matter equally as much. And to do something about the matter.

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In My Garden

All the colours of the rainbow – Sheltered Wonder Art Journal – pgs 34-35

A yellow wildflower does not say to a blue flower growing beside it, “You don’t belong here. Go grow somewhere else.”

It grows alongside of whatever colour is next to it to create a beautiful rainbow coloured field of wonder.

It is we humans who deem some flowers weeds, some worthy of growing in our gardens, some not.

Yesterday, I planted. I am a pot grower — no — not marijuana but plants in pots. It is important to me that our walkway and deck be colourful, a welcome respite, an oasis. A place of calm. A warm greeting to all.

Yet, no matter how many pots I plant, my heart does not feel calm this morning. I am troubled. Saddened. Fearful.

I read the news. Watched the video of the events leading up to the man in the White House’s walk to St. John’s church and the aftermath and I cried.

I have not watched the video of George Floyd’s final 10 minutes of life. I can’t.

I don’t want to watch a man die. I want to watch him live. I want to watch all of us live, together, in harmony. Without fear.

And in my desire for more peace, more harmony, more togetherness, I find myself wondering what am I doing to affect it? What am I contributing?

I wasn’t going to come to the page this morning. I wasn’t going to write. It seemed so trivial, so inconsequential in the big picture.

Which is when I realized that this is my contribution to the harmony, the wholeness, the gift of life.

And so, I am here. Confused. Fearful. Sorrowful. Loving. Caring. Concerned. And wild at heart.

And in my wildness, I bring all my rainbow colours to the table and feast on life in all its contradictions, complexities, chaos and glory.

A man died with the knee of another man on his neck. It was wrong. It was deplorable. It was heart-breaking.

But this, this time of unrest, of protests and demonstrations… this time is powerful and potent. This is a time when every colour under the sun is standing united against those who would keep us separated by the colour of our skin and the pews upon which we kneel and the politics of their power.

This time is potent and I will not fall beneath the distress of believing their power is greater.

I will, as so many are doing in the world today, rise up and speak up from my place under the sun, the same sun that shines down on each of us no matter where in the world we are.

Under my sun, I will paint wildflowers growing freely, a riotous garden celebrating every colour under the sun.

Because in my garden, there is only room for loving kindness to grow and beauty to behold and life to nurture and cherish in all its chaos becoming harmony, in all its complexity evolving and revolving with life.

Namaste

Awaken And Dare

Her voice comes to me in a dream.

“You are dreaming,” she says. “Awaken and dare.”

Dare what? I wonder.

“When you awaken, there will be no need to ask.” she replies and vanishes from my sleeping mind.

…Only to return the next day as I unconsciously paint her into being as an ancient Egyptian goddess exhorting me to awaken.

Where did you come from, I wonder. What message do you carry?

I go in search of answers — because heck, good questions evoke curiosity. And not feeding my curiosity with searching for answers leaves my head brain way too full of pesky questions roaming around looking for places to upset my peace of mind.

I start with “What does seeing an ancient Egyptian goddess in my dream mean?

Dr. Google has many answers. One source states:

“A dream featuring Egypt is believed to represent the potential for change in your life.”

The wise woman within whispers lovingly, “To change the world around you, you must first create change within.”

Yesterday, I read a post by a writer I respect talking about his white privilege. He wrote that he was willing to revoke it in favour of simply being human.

It is not that easy.

My privilege is intricately entwined with how I live my life. How I think. What I do. Where I go. How I am in the world. It is embedded in everything that made me, me.

Privilege is not a thought. It is not a feeling. It is not a choice. It is integral to my life. I cannot discard it or erase it. Being born a white female, ancient, culturally codified privilege of what it means to be white in this world were invoked as my birthright.

My parents worked hard to instill in all four of their children the belief that we are all created equal. We are all deserving of being treated fairly, with kindness, compassion, honesty, respect. And we must always do our utmost to uphold those values and principles.

I do my best, everyday, to live by what my parents taught me about human worth.

And still, I cannot revoke my privilege. Nor can I say that my privilege didn’t help me on my journey. Just because I wasn’t racist, or I didn’t discriminate against others doesn’t mean I don’t use my privilege to my advantage. I naturally do. It is visibly part of me. Unfortunately, what is often to my advantage can create disadvantage for others when they do not have the same access or right to what I have.

It also means, that I can’t hold up all the work I’ve done for vulnerable people, the work I’ve done to create spaces for social justice and change to happen, as a testament as to how I am not racist. My work is a reflection of my belief in humanity, our human condition and connection. It is not about my being or not being racist. The fact is, that work was made easier because of my privilege. Everything I’ve done in my life has been made easier because I was born with the skin colour I have that lets me pass through life with relative ease.

Even in my darkest times, my privilege gave me an advantage. I was believed by the police when I finally spoke up. I gained access to supports I needed without jumping through additional hoops of having to verify my worthiness to those supports. Often, those who are racialized or ‘otherized’ must jump through hoops simply because they are forced to prove their worth first, before gaining access to what they need.

And so, this morning, heeding the call to DARE, I wrote to the individual whose comments about revoking his privilege caused me unease. ” I can’t change the colour of my skin and I fear that suggesting I am willing to revoke my privilege, to those who have experienced the indignities and inhumanity that comes with the different colour of their skin or circumstances in life, could risk minimizing their trauma, pain and reality.”

I wouldn’t have done that in the past.

I would have read the words they wrote, felt the unease, shrugged my shoulders and moved on.

Now I dare.

It is time we all dare to challenge one another. Sure, we’ll sometimes get things wrong. We’ll mess up. But, messing up is part of growth.

Doing nothing. Not challenging ourselves and one another will continue to mess up the lives of more, and ultimately, the world and all of humanity will pay the price for the mess we’ve created with our silence.

Namaste.

The Raven and The Wild Rose

The Raven and The Wild Rose — mixed media on water colour paper. Pgs 32 – 33 – Sheltered Wonder Art Journal

Raven appeared in my Sheltered Wonder Art Journal yesterday. He symbolizes transformation, and carries truth.

I hold many ideas and beliefs as ‘truth’. They create a framework for my life upon which my values and principles hang. Core to my beliefs is unwavering, redemptive, transformative Love.

Love is my weapon of choice. It is the only weapon I can safely deploy to keep my world spinning calmly, and to ensure I do not cause harm in the world around me.

Right now, standing in Love staves off the hopelessness, fear and sorrow that keeps riding in on waves of news articles touting the latest outbreaks, death tolls, and now, riots.

The world feels like it is spinning wildly off its axis. Like the cork that was stopping centuries-old anger and rage over social inequities, racism, prejudice and privilege of the few limiting the possibilities of the many, has been pulled out.

Rage, fury, anger, pain and trauma are gushing out of humanity’s collective consciousness. Unleashed from the genie’s bottle that has been held tightly in white man’s hands, human beings of every colour are spilling out into the streets demanding change, demanding they be seen, heard, taken note of – not as dehumanized symbols of an archaic and suffocating colonial structure that elevates man on the colour of his skin, but as fully actualized, worthy human beings.

When we measure another’s worth based on the colour of their skin or the depth of their pockets or the degrees on their walls or the power of their positions, we are setting those who were not born ‘the same’ to live in the shadows of our excesses. We are harming all humanity.

We are all culpable. I am culpable. For my sister’s pain, my brother’s anguish. I am culpable for my neighbour’s poverty, my dark-skinned brothers and sisters struggles and the struggles of those who identify differently than me and must fight for the right to be who they are. I am culpable.

Not because I actively do things to discriminate against others or cause anyone pain. No. My culpability comes from my inaction. My lack of giving voice to gather allies together who will help dismantle archaic systems that keep those who have not in their place, so that those of us who have can continue to live our privileged lives without having to unsettle the status quo.

The Raven appeared in my painting yesterday. He carries a message of transformation. Of truth.

The truth is, this world of ours, this planet that sustains us, nourishes us, keeps us alive is a better place to live for some than for many others.

I am one of the ‘some’. One of the sum total of humanity whose skin colour gives me natural and unquestioned access to what I need to create a beautiful life. A life that is free of fearing for my life when I walk down the street or get stopped by police or enter a hospital emergency room seeking to be treated like I matter.

I have never questioned whether or not I matter.

Too many of my brothers and sisters have been forced to ask themselves, “Do I matter?” They are the ‘many others’. The ones who have been deemed unequal to the arbitrary equation of worth set by white man’s structures. Structures that have been put in place to keep them playing a game of snakes and ladders where the ladders are blocked by the snakes pushing them back down. It is a game designed specifically so that they cannot win.

Raven is asking me to see the truth – My skin colour does not make me colour blind. It just makes me blind to the truth of the experiences of millions upon millions x millions of my brothers and sisters.

The Wild Rose which in mythology symbolizes Love and devotion is asking me to open the eyes of my heart so that I can see how my inaction hurts me and you and all humanity. My silence keeps others on the bottom rungs while I keep climbing up the ladder.

A Raven wandered into my painting yesterday.

I am grateful for his presence. He has illuminated a truth I have not been able to see.

I am not helpless.

I have the power to inspire action to address the effects of racism, discrimination, abuse, intolerance. Social constructs that are perpetuated by my silence.

The colour of my skin matters. Not because it’s white, (though that is unfortunately what makes it matter more in this world where racism and a culture of white supremacy that is unconsciously ingrained in each of us (and sometimes consciously) dominates) No. It matters because it comes with privilege.

It is that privilege that I must employ to influence others to stand united in calling out for change that will ensure those who are struggling on the bottom rungs of the very systems that give me privilege, can rise up to experience their colour, their ‘otherness’ without fearing it will matter so much to me and those like me, it will cost them their life.

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And So I Pray

In every life, a little rain must fall so flowers can grow and hearts can learn to weather the storms and break open in Love. Pgs 28 – 29. Sheltered Wonder art journal

When I started this Sheltered Wonder art journal project, I wrote out the Wonder Rules to guide me. The reason for the journal is clear – to identify, acknowledge and celebrate the things I’ve learned, experienced, grown through, been challenged by and challenged during the sequestered solitude of Covid.

There have been so many moments where fear rose up, threatening to consume my peace of mind. It was through spending time in nature and in my studio that I was able to grapple with my fear so that I could find my calm even in its presence.

There have also been moments that absolutely took my breath away. Moments where the beauty of the world around me outweighed the sorrow and grief.

And, there have been moments where I felt like I was drowning in sorrow and grief. It has been here, in my studio, creating and writing, that I have found comfort, insight, healing, grace.

In this bubble in which I live, life flows as effortlessly as the river outside my window.

I struggle some days to align my world with what is going on in the world around me. And right now, that means how do I Share Grace, the fifth Wonder Rule, with my neighbours to the south where violence and death tolls continue to mount as the unrest boils over and Covid ravages lives daily.

There is little I can do in the physical world to change the course of events outside my own sphere of influence.

There is lots I can do in the metaphysical world, and also in this ‘cyber world’ where we meet up and share and learn and grow.

And that is, to practice every minute of every day, the art of sharing grace.

The issues that are impacting our US neighbours are deep and profound. Sitting here, north of the 49th parallel, it can tempting to sit in judgement. To cast aspersions upon those in leadership roles, those in power and control, those breaking the laws, those upholding them.

Grace means, I don’t do that. I cannot share darkness. I must share only light.

Light comes in many forms. For me, to add value (which is part of the fourth Wonder Rule – Find Value ) – my light must come in the form of my prayers. I must use my prayers to override any commentary I might want to make so that it is only my prayers that ripple out into the world for peace, understanding, compassion and healing for my neighbours to the south and all the world.

Just as the girl in the painting is carrying a bouquet of flowers to the tree surrounded by a field of wildflowers, I can only add my prayers to the millions of prayers going out to our US neighbours and to the world.

And so, I pray. In rain and sun, under grey skies or blue, I pray.

And I send my prayers out to the sky, the trees, the air, to the river of love flowing to those whose hearts are breaking, those whose lives are ending, those who are carrying burdens that feel too heavy and are falling under the weight. Those who are fighting for and against the turmoil of these times.

Those who are standing in confusion, fear, worry, sadness, sorrow, grief. Those crying in the darkness of their grief, those crying out for mercy, those calling out for the violence to stop, those calling out for change to happen now.

I pray and in my prayers grace finds me and hope embraces me. Hope for our neighbours to the south. For the world still struggling to come out from under the yoke of Covid. Those still struggling to come to grips with the loss of those they love, the life they had, the life they knew as normal. Those praying for peace. For change. For relief. For life.

I pray and send my prayers and my Love out into the world. It is the only way I can Share Grace.

May we all know peace. May we all know Love. May we all find the courage to heal what separates and divides us. May we all embrace our differences and celebrate our humanity as one people, one world, one human race.

And so I pray.

Namaste.

The Quiet Whispers

Listen to the quiet whispers of your heart. They are your heartsong yearning to be set free. Sheltered Wonder Art Journal – pages 26 – 27

In my 40s I decided to join my then teenage daughter in painting.

It changed my life. It also gave me a valuable lesson in How to Hear the Quiet Whispers of Your Heart.

Don’t believe everything you tell yourself about yourself.

When I started painting, I had spent most of my life telling myself I had no artistic talent. I thought it was true.

Committing myself to exploring my painterly ways in my 40s taught me that I was not always right. That in fact, the things I tell myself about myself are often based on my fears, not my heartfelt desire to live a true and authentic life. And, often, when I say, “I can’t do that” what I’m really saying is I’m afraid of looking stupid. I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid it won’t be perfect.

Which brings me to the second thing I learned about How to Hear the Whispers of Your Heart.

Get rid of ‘Can’t’.

Can’t is an easy way to let yourself off the hook of turning up for yourself in your life where ever you are, however you are, even in your fear.

If you’ve never done something before and you catch yourself saying, “I can’t do that”, challenge yourself. Allow yourself the grace of doing it imperfectly.

When I said, “I have no artistic ability” I was really just giving myself a soft landing and an excuse not to try something new. Sure, when I look back on some of my earlier pieces I can see how little I knew about colour, composition, light, depth – everything. But, if I’d never picked up that brush, I’d have missed out on the immense pleasure I’ve experienced over the years of creating art that speaks to and from my heart.

In the process, I’ve learned lots about colour, composition… and I’ve strengthened my creative voice and found incredible joy rising up from within the depths of my being.

I still sometimes catch myself saying, “I can’t…” That’s when I must listen for my heart’s whispers by reframing the ‘can’t into an invitation… “I have never tried that before. I wonder what will happen when I do?”

Which of course, brings me to the most important thing I’ve learned as ‘a creative’.

Listen for your heart’s whispers.

Your heart knows best. It is wise. It is loving.

The heart speaks in loving whispers, not angry shouts. Sometimes, you have to listen really deeply for the whispers because the fear that lives at the base of your skull shouts so loud it can be confused as ‘the truth’. In fear’s strident nature, it can become a habit to allow fear to drown out your heart’s quiet truth.

The way to tell the difference between heart truth and fear posing as truth is to ask yourself, “Does this voice hurt me or inspire me?”

If you hear angry, loud messages that are telling you you’re not going to make it, you’re not good enough, you’re stupid or anything negative and hurtful, it’s important to acknowledge that it is fear having its way with your real truth – you are worthy. You are good enough. You are magnificent, brilliant, a shining light.

In those moments when you realize the shouting within is becoming the ‘truth’ you’re accepting as yours – Stop. Breathe. Listen. Deeply. And ask yourself ‘Wonder Questions’… “I wonder what is really true here?” “I wonder what will happen if I just… step here, do this, experiment with this idea, stop listening to ‘can’t’…

Develop the practice of allowing the ‘shouts’ within to become an invitation to get still and listen for the quiet whispers of your heart.

Remember — The heart speaks in loving whispers, not angry shouts. Listen for its whispers.

Years ago, I did something I didn’t believe I could. I started to paint. My life is so much richer, vibrant, loving because I risked turning ‘can’t’ into possibility.

What about you? Are there ‘can’ts’ in your life yearning to be transformed?

Listen to the quiet whispers of your heart.

Namaste.

We Are All Connected

“We are all connected.” 2 page spread in Sheltered Wonder art journal – pages 24 – 25

When I sat down to create this page, bees and flowers were not in my focus. The page itself had started with a piece of collaged paper that came from Tamara’s work surface when she was here painting outside with me for the afternoon.

She’d scraped some paint off of her canvas, cleaned the scraping tool off on the paper covering her work table and exclaimed, “You should collage this into your next piece. The colours are so cool and look at that pattern!”

The beginning with the piece of paper collaged onto my page and gold gesso applied as an underpainting.

Why not, I replied. And promptly applied some medium to the middle of my just beginning next spread and affixed the paper.

The question then became… Where to from here?

It was all about experimenting with backgrounds and materials to see what happened when…

I worked on it a bit that day and then continued with it the next day. Again, letting the page itself guide me with whatever secret/story it was bringing to light.

I added background textures. Painted over places that didn’t ‘feel’ right. Kept delving into the background story.

Gold makes me think of bees and honey. I underpainted honeycomb shapes with pastels and painted a flower.

Hmmm… if there are honeycombs maybe there need to be bumblebees.

Part of what I’m enjoying most in creating the “Sheltered Wonder” art journal is the opportunity to experiment with supplies and materials I haven’t used in awhile.

Somewhere in my stash of stencils I knew I had a bumblebee. I dug through the box where I store them and found it. Perfect. Suddenly, two bumblebees appeared on the page surrounding the flower.

All things in nature are connected through an intricate web of delicate interdependency. Flowers rely on bees to pollinate them. Bees need nectar from flowers to create honey.

Flowers create beauty in our world. Honey nourishes.

Yet, we humans often forget the interdependent nature of all things on this planet. Including us. We strive for independence as if that is the gold ring of success. Even when our success doesn’t happen in isolation. It is always in connection with the people and things we employ to create whatever we have succeeded in doing.

Like art-making.

This piece began with a suggestion from a friend. From there, it evolved into what it became because of all the products I used that someone, somewhere developed and created. It also helped that the muse was flowing freely and I was open to her whispers.

We are all connected, interconnected and interdependent. As John Dunne wrote long ago, “No man is an island.” We are one world. One people. One planet. We need each other. As the African word ‘Ubuntu’ so aptly describes, “I am because we are.”

In Covid’s presence, I have felt the wave of interconnectedness as country after country worked to flatten the curve of this virus’ onslaught.

In the midst of shelter in place orders, people rose up to share their many gifts. From music shared on balconies and driveways, to art ‘zoom-in’ s happening online, to poetry readings and cooking classes, and hundreds of other ways people found to connect, we the people of this planet have risen to the challenge and found ways to make ‘shelter in place’ feel less alone and frightening.

As the world ‘opens up’ again and shelter in place becomes less prevalent, may we all remember the beauty of this time where together, we created a planet where the best of our humanity connected us in ways we never imagined possible.

Namaste.