My Mother’s Prayers. (Video flip-through)

Front and back cover of altered book art journal — My Mother’s Prayers

It is done. This journal I began several months ago with my mother’s prayer cards. It is done.

When I began my intention was to honour my mother’s life journey through using her prayer cards as a collage element on each page in the journal. I wasn’t thinking about healing. Or growth. Or change.

I was focused on diving into the creative field of creating an altered book art journal with her cards.

And then… Transformation beckoned.

Which makes sense, given that the premise of an altered book art journal is using an existing book to transform it into something else.

Don’t you love how art mirrors life and how when we open up to creative expression, life awakens in all its magnificent hues like a crystal prism hanging in a window refracting and reflecting rainbow shards of sunlight?

Through working on this journal, I have found myself falling with grace into all the colours of my human emotions. Grief. Joy. Sorrow. Gratitude, Regret. Compassion. Denial. Appreciation. Sadness. Joy. Anger. Love…

As I’ve written on one of the pages, “There are no mistakes in the human heart. There is only Love.”

In the end, and in the beginning… there is only Love.

There are no mistakes in my life. No paths not taken I wished I had. No roads wandered I wish I hadn’t.

Every path, every road, every step and word and gesture and action and encounter have all added up to create this space in which I live today. Breathing deeply of the divine nature of life.

It is here I find myself floating on a sea of gratitude, waves of joy and love and friendship and laughter and harmony and grace washing over me as I bathe in the waters of sacred communion with Life.

And so I say the prayer that stirs my soul and fills my heart with gratitude. “Thank you.”

__________________________________________

For the past two days I have been working on a flip through video of the book.

On each page I share the words that are most evocative of that page.

I am pleased. The book has turned out better than I imagined (Yes Jane. I’ll say it. “I did a good job!” 🙂 )

But, more than how the book has turned out, I am so very, very grateful for having taken this journey. I began without expectation of an outcome. I end with gratitude for the transformation that has appeared on my path through stepping into the creative exploration of My Mothers Prayers.

A note on the cover — my mother loved baubles and bling. She always wore sparkly things. On her fingers. Around her neck. In her hair. On her wrists. The original cover was orange – not one of my mother’s favourite colours. I painted it purple, covered that with gold spray paint and sprinkled gold dust over the entire thing. The jewelled pieces were my mother’s earrings and on the back, the embroidered bird is from excess fabric from the skirt I wore when C.C. and I were married. Made of hand-embroidered silk from India, I felt it would bring my mother to our wedding as she was too frail to attend. Underneath the bird is one of my mother’s prayer cards.

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

______________________________________

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.

.

The Way Of A Mother’s Love.

Her prayers fed hungry souls and created a world of goodness and light for all to see.

I have a memory of my parents. They are in their kitchen. My dad is making one of his famous stews, or perhaps bread. Dirty dishes cover the counter. There is lots of noise. My father was not a quiet man.

My mother is fluttering around him. She is trying to clean up his mess as he cooks.

“Leave it,” he mutters. “You’re getting in my way.”

She ignores him. He keeps muttering angrily. She stifles her tears at his angry words and keeps doing the dishes.

It was their way.

The kitchen was his domain. Keeping it clean was her contribution, except for those times when he would give way to her desire to prepare her ‘fancy’ dishes. He’d grumble and mutter about ‘fancy food’ being a waste. About how the aromas bothered his sinuses, especially garlic. You shouldn’t mask good, hearty food with that garbage, he’d continuously blurt out whenever mom prepared one of her beloved curries or special dishes redolent with the aromas of India and France spicing the air and dancing together on the palate.

Whenever my mother came to visit she would immediately gravitate to my kitchen and start to clear away dishes and wipe down counters.

Helping out was her way.

It was not my way so I’d shoo her away.

It was the story of our life.

My mother wanting to help out. Me rejecting her help.

I am still that way. I don’t like people in my kitchen. I don’t accept help easily.

Back then, I didn’t understand my mother’s love language. I didn’t understand that after a lifetime of being told by my father that she was ‘in the way’, she wanted to find a way to be of service in peace.

In her lifetime, I never found a way to let her help out in peace.

In my lifetime, I am making peace with the places where strife stirred our relationship into a mess. I am letting go of the hurts and cooking up a new way of being at peace.

This, “My Mother’s Prayers” altered book art journal, is my path.

Like a coat of white paint covering graffiti on a wall, I am painting the past with beautiful colours that weave a glorious tapestry of acceptance and forgiveness from the memories that litter my mind. Like crumbs leading me home to my heart, I am following their way into peace and harmony.

It is not our differences or all the moments we caused each other pain that matters in my life today. It is the beauty I create to honour their memory that transforms them into joy and peace and harmony.

My mother and I never had an easy relationship. In memory and in life, I am free to let go of the unease and fall with grace into the Love that was always there and always will be. Now and forever.

That is the way of a mother’s Love.

Namaste.

___________________________________________

I am off to Vancouver tomorrow to visit my daughter and her beautiful family. For the next ten days, I shall be immersed in the joy of being with my grandchildren and sharing special moments on the coast.

C.C. and I debated about my going. The ‘second wave’ of the Corona Virus is expected to hit soon. Can I do the drive safely?

He was to have driven out before me with a friend, stopping to golf at several different courses along the way. After much consideration, he cancelled his trip but, we’ve decided that as long as I take all precautions, the risks are low. I do the 11-hour drive in one day, stopping only once for gas and calls of nature (which I plan for very carefully).

These are the times in which we live. Given Covid 19s presence and my aversion to flying in its midst as well as winter’s imminent arrival and the dangers of driving high mountain passes in winter months, this is probably the last time I’ll be able to see them until next spring.

I am grateful my daughter welcomes me with such love and grace.

I won’t have much time to post while I’m gone. See you sometime after the 15th.

Namaste and Happy Thanksgiving!

Painting Through The Shudders

There is a world of curious ‘mishaps’ beneath this painting. A world of giving into the questions. Like, “Hmmmm…. if I do [this], I wonder what will happen?” Or, “I really like the way it looks now. I wonder what would happen if I let go of the need to ‘like it’?”

Letting go of the need to ‘like it’ is hard for me. I want my art to be pretty. To be pleasing to the eye. To not disturb.

And that’s why I art journal. To strengthen my ‘letting go’ muscles.

I like to create ‘pretty’.

This is the first monoprint – I really, really liked it.

Pretty doesn’t always serve me well. Pretty can mean I’m playing it safe. Playing it for affirmation. Playing it for the outcome – which will hopefully become something I can sell.

Art Journalling isn’t about creating work to sell. It’s about selling yourself on the idea that creating for the pure joy of creating is a form of meditation, revelation and restoration.

This page had a couple of iterations. The first one above, which I really, really liked. The one on the right, which I hesitated to share because it makes my creative nerves shudder. And then the final one which makes me smile.

The Shudders

The really, really liked one got buried beneath the shudders one because I was curious about what would happen if I painted botanicals on top.

The final piece, which is all about experimentation – and a lesson in letting go – is because I felt compelled to cover up the ‘shudders’.

The blue petals are created from the masking tape I used to block off the edges of the page in my art journal. Its patterns were made as I monoprinted on the paper.

When I pulled them off the page after the paint had dried, I didn’t immediately crumble them up and throw them into the wastebasket. The patterns that had developed as I monoprinted fascinated me so I carefully hung them from the edge of my worktable. I didn’t have any idea what I would use them for, or if I would use them for anything. They simply intrigued me so I decided to save them.

It wasn’t until I ended up with ‘the shudders’ on top of the original monoprinted background and thought, ‘Oh my. Now that’s not particularly pleasing,’ that I thought about using the saved blue masking tape.

Which meant, I had to dive in and pull another monoprint of the page and start reworking it. (The white striated background)

And here’s the thing.

How we do one thing is how we do all things.

I was afraid of ruining the monoprint I really liked and hesitated to do anything else to it. But, I also knew my hesitation was fear-based and wanted to confront my fear – which I am very familiar with.

It’s all about that ‘precious thing’ syndrome. Holding onto things because I deem them precious, or because I don’t know what I might do with them and don’t want to let them go because I fear I’ll be limiting my options later.

Like the blue masking tape. I didn’t have a really good reason to hold onto it other than that it intrigued me. Sure, finding a use for it was a bonus but if I step back and reflect on things I’ve held onto because of the fear of letting go was high, I’d find a wealth of material for personal exploration of my ‘fear of letting go’ syndrome.

Like right now. I fear letting this blog post go because I’m not sure I’ve really explored it adequately.

But, I also know this is a lifelong exploration for me. This post doesn’t have to be perfect or beautiful, or even witty.

In fact, it doesn’t need to be anything other than a reflection of where I’m at right now and how I’m navigating these spaces.

The biggest ‘fear’ to overcome right now, is my fear of showing ‘my ugly’.

And the ‘shudder painting’ is all about ‘my ugly’.

I don’t like it. I want to ignore it. I want to pretend it didn’t happen.

Life, like art, doesn’t work that way. ‘The ugly’ is as vital to a rich and beautiful life as the pretty.

Finding value in ‘the ugly’ enriches my life. It creats vibrant, unexpected gifts that keep expanding possibility into sacred knowing of the essence of who I am when I let go of being anything and anyone other than who and how I am in this moment right now.

Real. Vulnerable. Embodied in the present moment. Breathing into the joy held within the darkness and the light. The joy and the sorrow. The beauty and the ugly. The known and the unknown.

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.

My Mother’s Prayers

My Mother’s Iris At The Altar – Mixed media on book page.

My mother prayed. A lot. No matter the time of day, situation, pressing need, she would pray.

After she passed away, my sisters and I sorted through her belongings and came across the leather pouch where she stored her many prayer cards.

None of us knew what to do with them so I took them, thinking I’d eventually use them in an art piece.

That time has come.

On Tuesday, I started a mixed media online course with Orly Avineri. Orly is my kind of creative force. Free-flowing. No ‘steps’. Just you, the muse, your intuition. And the courage to take risks.

The first exercise includes an invitation to use whatever papers are on hand, affix them to a page and create.

My mind immediately leapt to my mother’s prayer cards. This would be a good home for them. Not just on the first page, but on every page I create in this art journal.

In this case, the journal is an old book I found in a box that I’m willing to release to the creative forces. It is part of a set of three I’ve had for years. Unique to this one is the way the inside pages are inserted. They are all upside down.

A book with upside-down pages seemed appropriate at this time. The world right now feels a little topsy-turvy. Like everything we once knew, relied on, took for granted is no longer so dependable. So known. So inevitable.

There are no mistakes.

Working on this art journal, “My Mother’s Prayers” is stirring up my thoughts and feelings and memories of my Catholic upbringing, my mother’s prayers and her unshakable faith and our relationships. It is giving me pause to look at it all through different glasses, angles, lenses, perspectives. Upside down included.

Yesterday, I completed my third 2-page spread in the book. As with the previous two, this spread also includes a couple of the cards from mom’s collection.

As I created the page using flowers from the garden that were at the end of their life-cycle, my mind swept back to childhood days when my sister and I would help mom with the flowers in church on Saturdays.

I go back to this memory a lot. As if somehwere in that sacred space I might somehow find the key to where my mother’s and my relationship went off the rails.

Because it was. For much of our life together, not a very well functioning relationship.

In one of Orly’s videos for the course, she talks about how it’s important to live within the gifts, not the trauma of the past.

There were many, many gifts that came through my relationship with my mother. It helped forge the backbone of who I am today and who I am as a mother, an artist, a woman, a human being.

In her final years, the tensions between us eased. In her passing, they fade away leaving behind only Love and memories of the sacred moments of grace we shared.

The gifts in those moments are what fill me up today. They give me peace, hope, faith, Love.

Perhaps, one of its gifts is also in the surrendering of any guilt I may be unknowingly carrying from the past.

And I smile as I write the word ‘guilt’.

How very ‘Catholic’ of me.

My middle sister and I used to joke a lot about our Catholic guilt. We were good at it. Doused in it as children, it felt only natural to carry it into our adult years.

It took me years, and lots of therapy, to realize guilt is not natural. Nor is it constructive.

It can however, be a powerful force for change.

To not carry guilt, I must clean up my messes. It isn’t about tidying up the past as much as honouring it so that I can let it go without feeling… guilty.

And so, I create.

A book of prayers. For my mother. For me. For my daughters. My soon to be born grand-daughter.

The Crosses We Bear – first 2-page spread in My Mother’s Prayer Cards Art Journal

A book of prayers that begins with the words I wrote on the very first 2-page spread. Words that surprised me even as I wrote them: “The crosses we carry through the centuries burden us with their blind faith in what to believe in the here and now. Their weighty presence strangles our breath as we struggle to free ourselves of the guilt and shame of a past we cannot change.

I cannot change the difficult times with my mother.

I can honour our past, all of it, and in the here and now, celebrate and cherish her beautiful thread in the tapestry of my life.

Being the mother she was, her spirit is praying for all of us now.

What a wonderful gift of life and death in an unending circle of Love that remains, as always, nourished by my mother’s prayers.

Nothing In Nature Is Ever Wasted

It is inevitable. Somewhere between sitting down at my studio table to begin, and deciding I’d reached the end of the process for whatever I’m working on, I decide I must quit.

Not because I’ve reached a place where the natural harmony of the creation feels complete. Oh no. Never then.

It’s always somewhere in between the beginning and the ‘ending’. That place where I am thinking about the value of the ‘end product’ instead of being present to the value of being in the creative process. That’s when the critter wants me to believe that whatever I’m creating isn’t being organized enough to have value, make sense, look ‘good’. I may as well just chuck it and begin again.

Yesterday, I decided to collage three of the leaves I’d used to imprint with the day before, as the focal point of my painting. The message being — ‘nothing in nature is ever wasted’.

Good message. Yuck application.

Or at least that’s what my critter mind (who does not care about proper usage of English) kept hissing about midway through the creative exploration of what was seeking to emerge.

I didn’t. Quit.

I kept exploring.

Which also means, I kept breathing. Deeply. I kept breathing into the present moment bringing my entire body into attunement with the mystery that arises in the art of creating.

Nature is your inspiration”, the voice of wisdom whispered within my body. “Let your curiosity and your natural desire to explore open you up to what is possible when you allow the muse to have her way with you without your thinking getting in her way.”

“Nothing in nature is ever wasted.”

I let curiosity guide me.

I am grateful. I did not give up.

Spring blossoms are in full bloom here at the eastern foot of the Canadian Rockies. The undergrowth in the forest separating our lawn from the forest that lines the riverbank is growing thicker. Dead autumn leaves are decaying, becoming fertilizer for new growth.

A robin takes up residence in an abandoned nest tucked into the branches of a tree. I watch it carry offerings from Mother Earth, twigs and grasses and dead leaves. She is busy making it a safe home for her new family. Waste not. Want not.

I affix three leaves to a piece of watercolour paper and halfway through worry I have made a mistake. Ugh, the critter hisses. This painting is going nowhere’.

Frustration with the whole creativity process mounts. I want to give up.

“There is nowhere to be but within the wholeness of everything”, the voice of wisdom whispers. “Keep diving into wholeness. Let your entire being be present within the process.

I breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Deeply. Slowly. My thinking mind stills. My body attunes to the wonder and awe of the moment.

Criticical thinking of what I’m creating falls away. Appreciation of being in the creative moment rises up to greet me and welcome me home.

All things that were once alive become part of creating new life in nature. Nothing is ever wasted.

Like creativity.

Nothing is wasted. Every layer becomes part of the whole. Every idea energy to ignite what is possible into becoming visible.

I wanted to give up yesterday. And then, Nature called me back into the moment and I found myself, once again, in the sacred space of creating with Nature as my guide. Allowing all that was yearning to be called forth into awareness to become visible.

Nature. Wonder. Awe.

Curiosity. Imagination. Inspiration.

Harmony. Gratitude. Grace.

A perfectly whole trifecta of three. The embodiment of my creative expression.

Nothing is ever wasted when I am immersed in creative expression.

I whisper a prayer of gratitude to Mother Nature.

Thank you Mother for your gifts. For this exquisite moment. Thank you for your wholeness. I am complete in your expression of life, of mystery, of endings and beginnings. I am whole when I allow your creative Nature to flow freely through all that I create, all that I am. Thank you Mother for this life.

Harmony and peace wash over and up and throughout my body.

Nothing is wasted in nature. This moment, right now, is perfect. And it flows with nature’s perfect symmetry into the next.

Namaste.

Words Matter

Tenth 2-page spread in the Sheltered Wonder Art Journal – I used torn pages from a dictionary for the collage elements. Watercolours, acrylic ink and acrylic paints and ironed the iimages on once completed using Jonathon Talbot’s collage technique.

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.

Namaste.

In Between, There Is Magic

Page 8 – 2 page spread on watercolour paper. Acrylic and acrylic inks. — The Sheltered Wonder Art Journal

A cat misses noticing a bird because it is watching up in the trees instead of down on the ground.

The bird walks freely, oblivious to the cat because it is down in the grasses searching for worms.

I am fascinated by the flights of fancy that percolate up when I am immersed in the magic of the creative journey.

Yesterday, I didn’t get to my art table until late in the afternoon. Earlier in the day, I had sat down at my computer to write a short story. It’s a piece of homework I needed (wanted) to get done for a writer’s circle. I thought it would be ‘short’ – like a thousand words short. 3,000 words later my first draft is done.

The story came unbidden. I put my fingertips to the keyboard, closed my eyes, took a deep cleansing breath and began to type. The words began to flow and kept on flowing. Magically. Effortlessly. Inspired by being willing to close my eyes and trust in the process. It’s what always happens when I let go of looking for the words and simply let them come through me from the Universe’s rich vault of stories always in the making.

And my soul revels in the mystery and my heart feels all pumped up with joy.

When I finished, it was already early evening. Too late to start a new page for my art journal, I told myself. Is that the new series I’m watching on Netflix calling my name?

I glanced at the screen of my laptop. It sat silently in front of me, the little N icon staring back. Capitulate, it urged. You know you want to.

Yes, I do.

At least the little part of my mind that likes to take the easy path to nowhere wants to.

The wise woman within, the one who knows how fulilling and joyful I feel when I am creating. She knows what I need most.

I shut the lid of my laptop. Get up from my desk. Tell C.C., my beloved he is on his own for dinner (there’s a stew I took out of the freezer thawing in the fridge) and went down to my studio.

Outside, the rain poured down. The glass of the french doors were streaked in rivulets of water. Each one seemed to hold a prism of green light filled with shimmery, wavy images of the leaves on the trees outside dancing on the glass. It was cool in the studio. I put the fire on, turned on lots of lights, my painting playlist, began to move my body to the music and bid the muse have her way with me.

I had no idea what I would be creating for this spread in the journal. I needed her intercessions. I needed to trust she would flow freely.

I pulled out a file of things I hadn’t looked at in a long time. There were stencils I’d made for my She Persisted series. Drawings and cut-outs I’d created and saved (for a rainy day) and found a cat and a bird I’d drawn some time ago stuck between two sheets of wax paper.

What if…

It was all the invitation the muse needed to have her way with me.

I am grateful.

The muse is always flowing freely. It is up to me to heed her enticements. She doesn’t discriminate. If I am too distracted by life and my little mind worries that keep running me around in circles, I will miss her visit. She doesn’t judge. She just continues to flow freely, seeking other more responsive lives in which to float down and share her magic.

One thing about the muse, no matter how distracted I am, as long as I am open to her entreaties to create, she will visit me again.

Yesterday, she did not leave until I felt satiated and the magic of the page was revealed.

It is one of the aspects of diving into the mystery of my Sheltered Wonder Art Journal that has so inspired me to keep creating.

I never know what is going to appear on the page. Until it does.

Like magic.

You don’t see it happening. And then it does.

Namaste.

Walk In Wonder

2 page spread “Sheltered Wonder” art journal Water colour and acrylic inks on water colour paper

Yesterday, I complete the sixth 2-page spread in my “Sheltered Wonder” art journal.

I am loving the experience. Savouring each moment I spend immersed in the creative flow expressing itself through the exploration of the question: “What are the gifts and learnings that have come through this sequestered solitude.”

It may be an enforced, not asked for nor even welcomed isolation. It holds many gifts and every spread I create for the journal is revealing how many gifts I’ve received and how much I am learning during this exceptional state of affairs.

The process of creating a journal page is very much a reflection of life. My life in this case. It begins with a meditation of some sort – either to music or in silence. As I enter my meditation, I often carry with me a question. Something like: “Where am I right now?” “What’s yearning to be expressed?” “What colour are my emotions today?”

Sometimes, I ask, “What’s in my bucket I need to empty out?”

I have long known that I carried what I call a ‘shame bucket’. I picked up as a child and learned to self-soothe in the presence of that bucket. At a young age, the child in me learned to believe she was not worthy. That bucket held the secrets of her unworthiness, so she held onto it believing she’d be lost without it.

If I am not paying attention to the now, that bucket can sometimes haunt the adult me with its need to be filled through acts that undermine my integrity, my values, my sense of self-worth. When I catch myself ignoring doing things I need to do to create harmony in my life, I know I’m in deep doo-doo, totally out of balance, off-kilter. In those times of distress, I have to turn and ask the child to let go of the bucket so I can hold her lovingly in my arms. We both know that the road to her garden of joy, where she feels safe witin me, is through my art. I know. I know. very esoteric — and very, very healing, no matter my physical age.

The universe is filled with mystical insights, wonder, awe and miracles.

Yesterday, after a Zoom call lead by Mary, Joe and Greg Davis, the key facilitators of Choices Seminars, the personal development course I have been part of for the past 14 years, I approached my studio with my question in hand – “What wonder is yearning to be expressed?”

My meditation was filled with a golden lightness of being. With sparkling waters and light as air fairy dancers joyfully cavorting on the water’s surface.

And then, just as I was beginning to come back into the moment, I saw her. A little girl with golden hair standing at the corner of a field of wild flowers. In one hand she held a balloon. It trailed behind her, bobbing and weaving as she walked, brushing the wildflowers with her fingers. Ahead of her, the field of colour turned into a forest.

Will she enter?

I began painting from that place of curiosity. Will she or won’t she?

My art journal pages are many layered. They weave and morph into many things until finding the essence of their story exposed on the page. It could be a word, a quote, a face… The possibilities are limitless and can take many layers to be called forth.

As I look at her with morning fresh eyes, the words that appeared and especially her balloon, I awaken to the essence of her story.

The bucket is gone. Vanished, or perhaps banished. It is replaced by a beautiful translucent balloon. Balloons speak of magic and mystery to me. And while, in the ‘real’ world I do not use them as they are environmentally harmful, in the field of wonder that is my imagination, balloons have great meaning.

It’s hard to get rid of a bad habit, but, if you focus on replacing it with something healthier, more life-giving, the habit becomes a welcome friend.

Yesterday, on the Zoom call, Joe Davis of Choices said, “Habits rule our lives.” And then he went on to describe how our brains are attuned to ‘chunking’, especially around activities that are rote or repetitive. (For more on ‘chunking’ – click HERE.)

Some of my thinking brain’s chunking has enriched and informed my life. Some… well let’s just say, it’s resulted in some not so healthy habits.

And so I wonder and walk and paint my dreams in all the colours of the rainbow… If the little girl can replace her bucket with the beautiful, light-hearted whimsy of a balloon… what else is possible?

Namaste

More process photos: