I’ve always seen life through the lens of, ‘no matter how cloudy the skies, the sun still shines behind their sodden blanket.’
It’s been both a strength and a weakness, but, when I peel away the judgements that cause me to see my weaknesses as a roadblock to joy, I find that there is always a gift, always value, beauty and magical imperfections in EVERYTHING.
It just means that sometimes, life is asking me to dig deeper to find them.
Now, I also acknowledge that my rosy outlook is also a result of the inherently privileged environment in which I live my day-to-day life.
I have always had food on the table, clothes on my back, access to hot and cold running water, secure housing (ok, there was a brief period while I was in that abusive relationship where that wasn’t true) access to education, employment, health care and a host of other life necessities and niceties.
Being positive is easier when fear of nowhere to sleep, how to pay the bills, or worries about how to feed your children don’t cloud your thinking.
Which is part of the impetus for my She Dares Boldly Series. To inspire finding life’s magical imperfections in all things — big/small, consequential/inconsequential/ exciting/mundane.
I also admit, some days it’s harder to do that than others.
Which is when I need to take time for myself. I need to go back into the studio, write it out in my journal, share my sorrows, woes, and sadness with a friend, meditate, sit in silence and listen to my heartbeat, walk in nature or simply, be still.
Self-care is good care of your life and everyone in it.
Allowing and accepting the magical imperfections in how we take care of ourselves is part of the journey of aging and becoming ourselves.
The She Dares Boldly 2023 Calendar is available now! Order your copy HERE.
Have you ever noticed how, when fear awakens, so do the voices in your head?
That’s my experience. As I get closer to doing something I’ve been avoiding or putting off, or doing something that’s new and/or different or requires me to step outside my comfort zone, or at least the lizard brain’s comfort zone, the cacophony of sound emanating from the dark recesses of my grey matter get louder and louder.
Intoxicated with the lizard brain’s negative feedback, I begin to tell myself it’s right. I shouldn’t… – Do whatever it is I’m attempting. Step outside my comfort zone. Talk to someone I think could really give me guidance on a project [as in, ask for help]. Submit my work to a magazine. Create that Art Journalling 101 course…
Working in my “Learning to Fly” art journal has been an awakening and an inspiration to keep on going, keep on digging in, keep on stepping out, reaching beyond my comfort zone, looking at all the things (lies) I tell myself I risk losing if I do… x, y, z.
it’s also been a great wake-up call.
As in, the only thinking that’s stinking around here is mine!
And I smile as I type that. I might sound like I’m being hard on myself – it’s actually a loving form of tough love – I’m being real and honest with my fears — as I wrote on Spread No. 6 of the journal – “Fear is the voice of doubt and confusion that would have you believe you don’t deserve to live your dreams.”
I also think I’m suffering from Covid-brain Weary Syndrome.
You know, the falling into lazy patterns of thinking without even realizing I’ve been doing it.
No one can deny, this has been a long year. And there is still more to come before we can step out of our front doors and into the world without fearing this invisible microbe’s attack. As the world has hunkered down, so too have I in some ways.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been very creative and given birth to lots of creative expressions. The challenge is, I’ve not done much with my body of work. I’ve just kind of floated from project to project like a sleep-walker drifting through the silence of the night.
To wake myself up I have to get out of my feelings and into my body, my whole body, where I know, beyond doubt deep, deep within my entire being, that I am more powerful than I could ever imagine, more creative than I could ever express and more fearless than I could ever envision.
We all are.
More than we imagine.
Think about it. Our imaginings take place in our minds. Our minds are constructs of our habitual thoughts.
If our thoughts are limiting, so too will be our expressions of ourselves.
Living under the thrall of Covid has limited all our lives in so many ways, it makes sense that some of our thoughts could evolve into more limiting than freeing.
Which is also why birds appear throughout my Learning to Fly journal.
I don’t know where they’re leading, I don’t know where this journal is going (it’s all part of the adventure) what I do know is… if I do nothing, nothing will happen other than what already is. I must follow the flight of the birds where ever they lead. They carry my dreams.
To pursue my vision of creating inspiring and compelling work that ignites the creativity and passion in others, I must pursue pathways to getting my work out there.
And so… the adventure continues.
Going back to my 20 Attitudes and Actions to live the life of my dreams, today I commit to working on No.s 9 and 10.
What about you? What do you commit to doing today to move you one step closer to a dream you want to transform into your reality?
I hope you share your thoughts. I’d love to be your accountability buddy!
No. 6 – Attitudes and Actions — “Don’t let fear muddle-up your thinking. Even when you think you can’t, tell yourself you can. – Listen to your heart.”
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.
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!”
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.
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.
When I learned I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was told I had to go to bed for the first three months.
Oh no! Whatever will you do? friends asked. This is awful.
I had to make a choice. Think of this enforced bed rest as awful, or choose to see it as a gift of life.
I chose gift of life.
Every day, I wrote in my journal about what a gift it was to have such splendid solitude alone, getting to know and love on “Baby Balthazar”, as we called her in utero. I filled each moment with loving thoughts of my unborn child so that she would know deep within her soul how wanted, loved and special she was.
These exceptional days of Covid are also such a ‘splended solitude’, if you choose to see it as such. You can use words that speak of your frustration and angst. Or words that speak of possibility, gratitude, hope.
The frustration and angst may still be there, but they wane in the light of words that illuminate your path with joy and love.
My eldest daughter turns 34 in June. She is expecting my second grandchild, a daughter.
No matter the circumstances of Covid, the words I use to describe her imminent birth are filled with all the love and hope I hold for her arrival and her life.
I wouldn’t want her to know anything else.
Life can be hard. To handle the hard times, she will need to believe in magic, wonder, awe, so that she will have the words entwined deep within her psyche that draw out her courage and love so that she can see and speak of the beauty in her life, no matter the times.
Choose your words wisely. Make them lift you up. Fill you up. Enlighten you. With joy. Laughter. Gratitude. Abundance. Possibility.
Make your words be the expression of all the wonder, awe and beauty you see in the world around you.
Let your words shine bright so that the darkness has no hope of dampening your light and holding your spirit down.
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