Tag Archives: art journal

ThE Incantations

“Whispered into the holy night, her prayers were an incantation awakening sacred joy and delight.” Pgs 51 & 52 My Mother’s Prayer altered book journal

My father was a curious man. He read voraciously and always replied to questions such as, ‘How do you spell ___________?” or “What’s does _________mean?” with the response, “Go look it up in the dictionary.”

Of course, I’d try to find a ‘smart alecky’ answer like, “If I don’t know how to spell it how can I look it up?

It never phased him. He’d make me think about the spelling, what I thought it was, and work from there.

Question about the meaning of life, or things or processes were always answered with, “Go look it up in the Encyclopedia Britannica.”

The EB was the fount of all knowledge when I was growing up. If it wasn’t in the Encyclopedia, it wasn’t worth knowing.

Because French was my mother’s native tongue, I seldom asked her those kinds of questions. For her, I reserved my curiosity about God.

“Why would God place a sin on an unborn child? Aren’t we born perfect and whole in God’s image?”

“Why do dead people have to wait it out in Purgatory for prayers of the living to release them? Doesn’t God forgive all sin? Isn’t that why Jesus died?”

To my mother, my constant questioning of God was an assault on her faith and her being.

I didn’t intend it to be but, because so much of what I learned about God as a child was fear-based, I wanted answers so I wouldn’t feel so afraid.

I didn’t like feeling afraid, especially if the adults around me didn’t have ways to assuage my fear.

And I definitely didn’t like the anxiety of waiting for ‘the Hand of God’ to come crashing down from the heaven’s above and knock some sense into me. Which is something my mother often wished for, at least that’s how I translated her entreaties that I ‘be like the others’ (my 3 older siblings) and stop disobeying her constantly.

“God knows everything,” my mother would say. “He sees you and hears you and he is angry at you for being so bad.”

And she would cry and wonder out loud what she had done to deserve such a difficult child as me.

After years of therapy and inner child work and personal development courses and journalling and a host of other practices to make sense of the mess I felt was ‘me’ inside, I understand how my mother and I walked on such unsteady ground.

How could she keep me safe from the world if I was constantly putting my eternal soul in danger by questioning God’s will?

How could she have peace if I was constantly searching for answers to the things she did not want to speak of?

Namaste

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One of the gifts of art journalling is its invitation to experiment. With products, process, perspective…

Awhile ago, I watched a video on using Vaseline with alcohol inks. I wasn’t using Alcohol Inks on this page but was curious what would happen if I used it with acrylic inks.

Magic.

The vaseline acts as a resist so that when I spray onto the page, where ever I’ve applied the vaseline, the ink doesn’t adhere. When the ink is dry, wipe it off and voilá! (Ok. The wiping off takes patience but it’s well worth it!)

The lighter spaces, including within the dark image on the left which was the photo on the page I was working on, remain untouched by the ink.

For me, this page speaks to the mystery of my mother’s faith, of life, of relationships, of the universe.

I see the scrolly piece at the bottom as the filigree frame that separated the penitent from the priest in the confessional.

The lone figure walking towards the lit area of the image on the left is me, searching for answers while staying true to myself — which was not always easy when my path took me far from the Catholicism of my mother’s way.

And the entreaty to, “Be. Here. Now.” is the reminder that the past is not alive in this moment, nor is the future.

Life lives in the now. It is here where the mystery flows with grace into the mystical nature of life, creating magic and wonder in my life today.

Now is where Life happens.

Celebrate it. Cherish it. Create beauty within it.

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In The Garden Of Her Prayers

Her prayers became a garden. “My Mother’s Prayers” altered book art journal. Pgs 49 & 50

I remember as a young girl my mother admonishing me after one of the squabbles my middle sister and I often had. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” It was one of her favourite sayings.

My mother kept her silence. A lot.

I used to think her silence hurt her. Filled with all the not-nice things she wouldn’t say, her silence constantly grated against her peace of mind.

As I work in this journal and come to its last pages, I recognize the limitations of that belief. As I paint and meditate on the pages. As I collage a prayer card on the page and allow the words to divine their way into being known, the awareness grows that her prayers were her way of transforming her silences, her secrets, her worries and fears and anger and tears into hope and love and above all kindness.

As a child, I never liked that adage of my mothers.

It was my inability to not be silent that frustrated my mother the most. Particularly, as my speaking out often came in the form of questions about things she never wanted to discuss.

“Let bygones be bygones,” she’d say.

“Stop making trouble Louise. It was long ago. It doesn’t matter today what happened then.”

“Don’t be mean. Be quiet.”

I never meant to be mean, but to explain to my mother the source of my angst or questions required speaking of the things she did not wish to speak of, at least not with me.

Which is one of the gifts of this journal journey.

There was a time when I thought that my mother just wanted to avoid talking about everything and anything that did not please her or paint her in good light with the saints to whom she whispered her prayers. And while she did like to ‘look good’ and spent a great deal of energy worrying about what others thought, it was her right to choose what she did or did not speak of.

In my constant questing for answers, and her desire to not speak of things for which she knew her answers would not be enough for me, there was no safe container for either of us to find our way through the turmoil of the past together.

In all probability, my mother did speak of the unspeakables she carried deep within her heart and mind. It’s just, the only one she trusted with her thoughts and feelings, fears and doubts, anguish and anxiety, was her God.

My mother, like me, was never perfect.

She was kind. Caring. Generous. Shy. Quiet. Creative. Loyal. Steadfast.

And above all, she was a woman of great faith.

A woman who wanted the best for others. And even when she didn’t know how to give it, or how to speak the words, she never doubted that her faith was enough. In her steadfastness, in her constant prayers, I was free to grow fierce and loving. Strong. Wild. Free.

As this page says, “Her prayers became a garden where Love grew stronger in the memories of those she left behind.”

Namaste.

Lessons From The Creative Field

Watercolour and ink on eco-dyed cotton

If you look closely at the painting above you will see it is mostly painted on cloth.

I was having fun playing with the eco-dyed cotton I created last week.

The completed 2 page spread in handmade art journal from scrap papers

And here’s the deal. ‘Fun’ is the operative word. I was not trying to make art. I wasn’t trying to create something ‘perfect’. I was simply having fun exploring what happens if…

This is the backside of the first image and the following page.

That’s art journalling. Exploring the what if’s of what happens when you let go of needing a purpose or destination to whatever you’re doing and just let yourself fall into the pure joy of self-expression that has no agenda, no intended outcome, no purpose other than to explore your creative essence.

Front cover of handmade art journal from scrap papers and collaged leaves and flowers

Life is the art of living fearlessly in the beauty of this present moment.

‘Making art’ is just a means to access the creative core that resides in each of us through whatever medium we choose to employ.

For me, those mediums include paint, paper, (fabric too!) dried flowers and leaves (as in the cover of the handmade journal I created out of scrap papers.

Back page – includes dried flowers and leaves

My mediums also include the words I write, food I create, table settings, and a host of other everyday things I use to create beauty in my world. It’s all creative expression. My way.

Your creative expression will be different. It is a reflection of you. Your inner and outer world. Your experiences, preferences, likes and dislikes. But make no mistake, whatever you are doing, it is a creative expression of YOU! And because it is a reflection of you, it is, by its very nature, beautiful. You are beautiful just the way you are.

Make it Beautiful is both my motto and achilles heel. I struggle to keep in mind that sometimes my self-expressions aren’t so much ‘beautiful’ as much as one big beautiful mess.

Different sizes, shapes and quality of papers all stitched together.

Like this handcrafted journal I created at the beginning of August and continue to sporadically work on. It was an invitation from an online forum/art group I belong to, “Get Messy Art“.

Its pages are all bits and pieces of scrap paper. Different sizes, textures, colours, heaviness. The beauty of it is its ‘mess’.

And… confession… I struggle with the ‘mess’ of it all. I struggle to let go of my judgement of what is beautiful . I want to create pretty pictures. Not beautiful messes.

Which is why I’m sharing it here. To find the beauty in all of it… The places I judge as the good, the bad and the ugly.

It’s my invitation to ‘loosen up’. To give me the freedom of letting my not so ‘pretty’ parts show too. To quieten that voice within that likes to hiss in my ear, “What will ‘the neighbours’ think?” Or, one of the critter’s favourites, “They’ll laugh at you and not take you seriously.”

This is the two page spread after the image I shared yesterday

And that’s why art journalling is so powerful. It not only gives me a medium to express myself through words and art, it allows me to dive into those spaces within where I find myself hiding out from being ‘real’.

Being real to me is more than just ‘being authentic’. It means I allow myself to be vulnerable in my beauty and my beast nature. I allow all of me, warts and wounds and wisdom to be seen – because as this art journal so beautifully expresses for me, we are not just ‘the good’, we’re also the pieces of ourselves we want to hide. The scraps and broken places where we fear that if others saw them, they’d laugh at us, or mock us, or shun us.

A page in process — I wonder what will happen if….

We are all of who we are — not just the pretty parts we like to show off, but the dark spaces too.

Like the moon needs the sun’s glow to be seen in the dark, we need our darkness to let our true, inner beauty radiate.

That’s what art journalling has taught me. Again and again. To be grateful for the joy and the pain, the ease of passage and the turbulent seas. To be grateful and to express myself in every way my heart desires.

Oh. And to let my judgements go and simply Have Fun!

Namaste.

as Soft As A Petal Falling

Altered Book Art Journal page — “My Mother’s Prayers” – ‘Soft as Petals’ “As soft as an angel’s kiss, her prayers fell like petals from the heaven’s above blessing everyone on earth.”

For the past three days I’ve been working on a video of my creative process. I filmed myself working on another page from the altered book journal I’ve been creating of my mother’s prayer cards, and have been editing and editing and editing…

It is a good stretch for my brain and a good reminder of how the creative process is not just founded in ‘art-making’, it is everywhere! I have to keep reminding myself that creating a video is in and of itself a creative process. Rather than thinking it’s taking me away from time in the studio, I am focussing on the value of learning new things and how it is expanding my capacity to evolve into new forms of creative expression!

The other day, after commenting on my Mother’s Prayer Cards art journal, someone asked if I was okay. “You seem to be grieving so deeply,” they said. “Are you okay?”

I appreciated their question and concern. It felt very loving.

The fact is, I told them in response, I feel great. Creating this journal of mom’s prayer cards, immersing myself in an exploration of the power of prayer and memory has been a very healing, loving journey. It has expanded my compassion for my relationship with my mother and deepened my knowing of her love. It has also given me an opportunity to heal some of the broken places of our relationship.

In the eulogy I gave for mom at her celebration of life, I wrote, “Being the youngest, I wanted to be the rebel. In fact, for a large portion of my life, I wanted to be anything but like my mother. I am so grateful that through her prayers, I have become more like her than anyone else I ever thought I wanted to be. As I sat with her in the quiet of the night over the final week of her life and prayed with her and sang to her and read to her, I realized that the gift my mother gave me was and is the one I cherish most in my life today – an unwavering belief in the transformational power of Love. “

Kindness was my mother’s North Star. No matter how unkindly I responded to her when she told me she was praying for me, she never responded in kind, she only responded in kindness.

Life is a journey. It isn’t about how fast we go on the road of life nor how long we’re on the road. It’s about how much kindness we invest into each step along our way. It’s about how much we joy we instill in each day and how deeply we fall into Love with everyone and everything on our path.

My mother would have been 98 today. In her life and in her passing, I have found myself growing deeper and deeper into Love through her prayers that continue to be a constant on my path. Thanks mom! Happy Birthday!

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About this altered book art journal page:

I started this spread knowing what the words were. They had appeared while I was in meditation before starting the page and were my guide as I created. “As soft as an angel’s kiss, her prayers fell like petals from the heaven’s above blessing everyone on earth.”

Connection. Community. Coherence

When I sat down at my studio worktable yesterday morning, there was one phrase that kept drifting through my mind, “And her prayers became the song the night sang to sing the stars awake.”

I pulled out the altered book journal I’ve been working on with my mother’s prayer cards and gave myself over to the muse.

It did not start out well…

You know how you can be working on something and think, “hmmmm…. It’s okay but I’m not really sure what I’m doing here…”

My first instinct is to quit. To paint over. To tear it up.

My deeper knowing is to keep deliving into it. To allow myself to work through the ‘yucky’ to get to whatever is looking to be expressed.

When I do that, it happens. Like magic. There’s this moment where I feel so connected and so immersed in it all that my heart sings and my soul dances and my body sinks deeply into gratitude.

Yeah? Well, yesterday, that happened.

There I was, feeling stuck and blah when without thought, I felt my entire being sink effortlessly into that place. Breathing deeply, I felt the silence expand between my heart beat’s steady tattoo as my soul seemed to hang suspended in time. I felt as though I was floating in harmony with the universe and all of life surrounding me. My senses awoke to the moment and I sighed and whispered to the sun and the clear blue sky and the breeze drifting by as the leaves whispered their incantations of love and ease and bliss, “Ohh. I see you. I feel you. I know you. Here I am.”

And in that moment I felt the breath of my mother’s prayers wrap me in their sweet tender embrace and the world felt oh so precious, oh so sacred, oh so new and fresh. And I felt embodied in the present moment, connected, in partnership, part of and all of the trees and the leaves, the breeze and the sky, the river floating by, the chickadee perched on the birdfeeder and the squirrel spinning in acrobatic grace through the branches of the trees.

In that moment, I was embodied in ‘the now’. At one. Complete. Part of. All of. Connected. Whole.

“And her prayers became the song the night sang to sing the stars awake.”

Watercolour and acrylic ink on watercolour paper.

And then, later in the afternoon, my dear friend Jane came over to paint outside. And it happened again. I was one with the embodied present. Whole. Complete. Filled with a sense of harmony and peace.

That’s what creating is — it’s not about outcome, or style, or technique or saleability.

It’s about being present within the journey of creating. Being connected and whole.

And it’s about community.

Both these pages were created as part of two different courses I’m taking. When I shared the spread from My Mother’s Prayers on my Instagram yesterday, an artist friend wrote back,

“My spiritual community both soothes my soul and lights new fires.” Tracy Brown

“I put my Instagram artist friends in this category”, she said.

Yes.

Being present is about connection, community, coherence.

Thank you for being part of my community. For taking this journey with me. For illuminating my path with your light and making it easier to see in the dark.

I am grateful.

There Is Only Love

The theme of the fourth lesson in Orly Avineri’s course, “Come Outside” is repetition.

This was a challenging one for me. So many thoughts, and my inherent desire to organize them, got muddled up in my staying present with the allowing of what was seeking to appear, to appear. Plus, a real-life story unfolding in all its beauty and wonder kept distracting me.

This morning, I awoke with a clearer sense of what the story of this page was. I am grateful for sleep and dreams and the muse’s constant flow.

As with my other pieces in this new art journal I’ve just begun, this page includes torn up bits of my mother’s prayer cards embedded within the pages as well as a prayer she used to recite in French (it was her first language).

The crosses are a reflection of the crosses we all carry with us in our life. They can burden us down, or free us. Like any burden, we can choose to struggle beneath their weight or live their gifts.

Crosses have recently been a dominant element in my creative flow – perhaps because since my mother’s passing on February 25th, I’ve been doing a lot of work on healing the broken places, and my relationship with my mother and the Catholicism of my childhood appears a great deal in those places.

For me, this piece is about the multi-faceted, complex colours, stories, textures, depth of life on earth and our separation from the whole.

When we let go of seeing our differences as a reason to fear and hate and hurt one another, we create space for our magnificence to shine. In its coruscating light, no matter how we present our beauty, wounds and wisdom, our natural human beauty shines through.

In that beautiful space, we know and live the truth — We are all one humanity, one human condition, one planet. We are all connected. All of the whole, with the whole, essential to the whole of life on earth.

In the beginning and the end, as is written at the bottom repetitively (and as I’ve come to resonate with even more deeply since my mother’s passing) – There is only Love.

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This will be my last regular posting for awhile. I’m taking a few weeks off from blogging to focus on other things.

I may intermittently be posting, but not on an everyday basis.

Enjoy this season of growth and change and beginnings and endings no matter where in the world you are!

Much Love. Many blessings. Bright light.

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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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.