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The Unraveling

The Unraveling

This mandala came into being in October 2016.  At the time I was (once again) reeling from what I felt were unnecessarily harsh life conditions, and feeling that most of what I knew was falling away, including what I felt was one of my strongest foundations, the mandala.

In this piece, the symmetry of the design is interrupted by three unfurling ribbons, generating from a spiral, off center in the composition.  The background is a deep, dark green…almost black.

It is nearly eighteen months later and this piece has an entirely different feel for me, as well as a message that now thrills and inspires.  This year (2018) marks 4 years since my father’s  passing and 11 for my mother.  Since I am somewhat of a word/number geek, the significance of  411 is not lost on me.  I knew the epiphanies would be popping like flashbulbs and they are.

Pieces of the puzzle have been fitting into place… evidence that the power of staying present for the bitter and the better yields undeniable benefits, feeling the freedom of letting go, and consistently re-committing to the willingness to let go, growing awareness that my inner being, is radiating love and inspiration to me constantly… glimpses of these essential truths and even some lingering moments, ahh, yes!

Then, through a completely random and yet synchronistic chain of events, I find myself with a book in my hands by Eileen McKusick, “Tuning the Human Biofield” as she is describing the Electric Universe Theory which is “paradigm shattering in a very powerful way because it is a retelling of our cosmological story”.  While gravity has been perceived as the dominant force in the universe for over 300 years, much of the phenomena is puzzling to scientists because life seems “random, chaotic and pointless”.  Ms. McKusick recommends “The Electric Sky” by Donald Scott, which explains the Electric Universe Theory as “a cosmology of connectivity and of light, instead of separation and darkness.”  It is the beginning of science pointing to the inclusivity of our universe!

So…”The Unraveling” transforms for me, from representing a loss of structure and foundation, to the symbol of beautiful new freedom and awareness, and I, for one, intend to celebrate it!

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Take Heart

Take Heart

2018 is already the year of revelations for me.  Some of these revelations are liberating and exhilarating, some seem earthquake-like in nature, cleaving the earth beneath my feet, leaving me with the most unsettling feelings.

In the past two days I have been called on my stuff (i.e., victim pattern, chameleon-like behavior), by dear and trusted friends,  which was exhibiting outside of my clear awareness.  I followed up this morning by posting a quote to my Facebook page that was (unintentionally)  discriminatory and hurtful.  I was shocked at my ignorance.  I have some perceptions about myself and limiting patterns that I must embrace and integrate rather than deny and then stumble over.

What I notice in general, is a repetitious theme of death and rebirth. Death of people, patterns, beliefs, life stages, relationships, careers, dreams, desires.  Rebirth of babies, new concepts, freedoms, courage, inspiration, hope, different dreams and desires.  The deaths are losses and often result in grief and loss of clarity.  The rebirth is exciting, but at the same time disorienting, everything is new, unfamiliar, there seems to be no solid ground or clear path forward.

I was in the studio and doing my best to prepare for an upcoming show, a “Heart Pop-up” at Storm Wisdom on February 11th.  I have had the base of the painting you see above “Take Heart” for YEARS, and I always loved it, but it didn’t quite feel complete.  In a flurry of flying collage papers, suddenly this lovely floral arrangement was in my hands and viola!  It was a five minute answer to a ten year old question.

My take-away is that all of the old foundations are in question now, and this, for some (ME!), is very uncomfortable.  When the willingness is there, to question and possibly lose, or dramatically compromise the old foundation, a new perspective can suddenly drop in and bring new beauty, peace and harmony to the situation.

Even as I sense myself white-knuckling as it feels as though everything is slipping through my fingers, I hear the calm reassurance, “take heart…what you will have if you let go is so much grander than what you are trying to hold on to.”

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Lean In

Lean In

When this piece came to life in class on December 5th, I was excited to see what I believed was “my man”, the figure on the left, and me, on the right, in a tender embrace.  In my imagination, this happy couple is on the beach, deeply connected, in love and exploring life together.

2017 has been a year filled with epiphanies, and lots of the pieces of the puzzle coming together.  I’ve learned an immense amount about staying present by observing the courageous and determined work (playful experiment, really) of my dear friend Charles, (you can read about his amazing journey here on the Storm Wisdom Blog).  There has been the deeply gratifying, ongoing exploration of creative boundaries at Studio 6020.  I kept tuned to various energy practitioners I admire, including Lee Harris, and Abraham Hicks.

Occasionally everything comes together with such clarity and synchronicity, I feel compelled to write about it and insist, “you can’t make this shit up!”

Two weeks after the creation of “Lean In”, I was in a counseling session discovering that there is still more to do to integrate the shadow aspects of myself.  “Lean In”, the therapist said…lean in to the discomfort, for the purpose of acknowledging and feeling it fully.  Of course!  Staying present and being authentic require self-awareness and self-acceptance that MUST include all our shadowy bits.  The angry, frustrated, frightened shards of us, are frantically trying to call the shots when triggered, which they will do with or without our conscious attention.  With acknowledgement, negotiation is possible and a new fullness of being.  A coming home to self.

To mark the Solstice, what better way to celebrate than to “Lean In” with love, letting each and every aspect of ourselves know that they are welcome, that there is room at the table for them (borrowed from Charles!).

“Lean In” is not showing me “my man”, but a new way to be with, love and honor myself! To be present, integrate, and continue to step into the fullness of being… my physical and non-physical energies playing, creating and expanding joyfully together!

 

 

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Be New

Benu Bird

Most days I feel like I’m stumbling around, trying to put together a puzzle whose pieces don’t actually fit together anymore, even though at one time I could complete it very efficiently.  I spend too much time worrying why this is so, wondering if the dreaded dementia is beginning.

Painting, when I show up for it, goes well, once I can discern a direction, or make peace with the lack of it and move forward anyway.  I feel a great deal of self-judgment around being lost and not knowing where I’m going.  This is laughable because if I always know where I’m going, I’ll never go anyplace I haven’t been, which is certainly not my goal as an artist or a creator.

The idea of a Phoenix bird came to me and in reasearching the image I came across the Benu bird which is the Egyptian version of the Phoenix.  Reading further I learned that in Egyptian creation mythology, it was the Benu bird that flew over the surface of chaos, landed, and let out a scream that broke the original primordial silence. It was this cry that was said to decide what would be in this world and what wouldn’t be. (From ListVerse-Deborah Kelly 2-22-14).

The Benu bird was said to renew itself every day.

Now enter this week’s Tignum Thought “Effortless Change”, describing how as a natural part of reaching toward what we wish to become and want to achieve, we are changing!

I edited Scott’s words just a bit to ask “What choices will I make today to better embody the new creation I have become, I am becoming?” As a new creation it is to be expected that nothing feels familiar, that I don’t look or act the same, and it can feel disconcerting, unless I realize that it can also be exhilarating!

At this point my eyes lift from the bread crumbs I have been following and see the epiphany that my inner being is always hoping I will discover.  Chaos is the birthplace of creation.  What you create is your choice.  The power that creates worlds is always accessible to you.  Just as the raven suggested in “What Say You?” use your magic to create yourself as you wish to be.”

The fog of flawed perception lifts and I find that I have once again been meticulously led  to exactly what would help me the most.  I am not lost at all, but on a path that takes me exactly where I have asked to go…

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Shaman’s Gift

It will probably sound vain and naive, but I fancied myself as a sort of public servant, creating art that (ideally) holds healing space, soothes, uplifts and inspires.  I felt a sense of purpose, first creating the desert landscapes and botanicals with their vibrant colors, then the mandalas, as deliberate energetic ambassadors and now the acrylics with their own magic…art with a mission!

I am slowly coming to realize that the entire journey has been for me, all the art and specifically the process of creating, for my healing, my connection, my expansion.  This is difficult because I want to pretend that what I do is for others, my self worth seems to still depend on what I’m providing.

Shaman ‘s Gift began in painting class in January at the Center for Creative Development (Studio 6020) and although compelling, I was not thrilled with the visual results.

Shaman's Gift

A week ago Saturday I had a session with an intuitive that began in a very unexpected way.  He instantly and fervently spoke of the mandalas and how they are sacred geometry, vibrational messages in the Language of Light.  He went on to say that they are more than two dimensional and offer the opportunity to open inner gateways within the brain.

There was a great deal more to the session and if you would like your own experience, you can find Paul on his website, Polaris AB.  I came away with a renewed commitment to my art and my evolution.  Then Paul relayed these words, a direct message from my high self, “Change control to flow, change judgment to acceptance, change impatience to peace.”  Whoa!  As those words entered my consciousness, I felt a great weight leave my chest and a new expansiveness take its place.  Paul further suggested that I create a painting expressing these messages.

It felt inspired to create this piece and I knew I was painting it just for me. I decided to paint over “Shaman’s Gift”, still knowing what was underneath the new creation…Shaman's Gift in Progress

Layers and layers of paint, collage paper and scratching.  Pushing and pulling the design.  Yesterday I really invested, tearing tiny bits of paper to apply here and there.  I felt wonder and amazement  at the time I was willing to invest, in this painting just for me.

I don’t feel I’m expressing it well, but the message is clear.  What you’ve been seeking on the outside is only available within.  What you seek to provide others, you must provide for yourself first.  Receive and enjoy your own gifts, (wow that feels weird to write).

So here it is, “Shaman’s Gift”, my painting for me, along with my new mantra and practice…”Moving from control to flow, judgment becomes acceptance and impatience melts into peace.”

Shaman's Gift, final

 

 

 

 

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“What Say You?”

What Say You

Buckle up bitches…I’m in a mood.  I haven’t been writing, really haven’t been painting much that I approved of lately either.  In fact, the entire month of October has been pretty much a shit storm of self-condemnation, self-loathing, rejection, abandonment.  I’ve been dismissed from my un-relationship, told by some yoga studios my mandalas need to go as they need a “fresh look” as they are “re-branding” and a trusted friend excluded me from an event that she needed to borrow a chair for, but couldn’t find room to invite me.

Whoa, honey!  I learned in 2015, in a college class titled “Creating College Success” (which I did not) that either one is in a “victim mindset” or a “creator mindset”.  It came as a huge shock to me that my behaviors indicate a victim mindset, especially since I consider myself a creator.

Yet, now I find my relationships where I am not valued (my un-relationship, the yoga studios, my friend) dissolving…can it be for the purpose of creating new relationships wherein I AM valued?  Am I willing to let go of the scraps I have been receiving and demand more?  Yes.

Enter the raven.

It was months ago really, that on a walk (with my un-relationship friend), I saw five ravens.  Then shortly after, one in the aleppo pine in my back yard…exciting, I thought!  A harbinger of change!

The raven proved challenging to paint.  A dear friend described the raven as being able to bring one the magic to create illusion, “the raven can help you create yourself as you wish to be seen” she said.

All the while, I felt I was slogging through mud.  My worst fears; dementia, losing my sight and my ability to communicate seemed to be realizing…then the feeling that I had become unnecessary, easy to replace, irrelevant, useless.  Feelings of complete inadequacy, unworthiness, ineptitude, I felt I was drowning in all of it.

“Take the raven into your bedroom” she said, “Listen to what the raven has to say.”

That and listening to Lee Harris’s MP3 “activate Your Self Worth” have shifted things pretty remarkably.  I know we are all going through immense amounts of stuff.  Ancient wounds present for healing, for us and potentially everyone.  For those lucky enough to be aware, there is introspection.  For the others, there is blame, externalizing, anger and even rage, these are challenging times, but filled with opportunity.

My recommendation?  Find a soothing place in nature, pay attention to what and who show(s) up, and ask “What say you?”

Then listen.

 

 

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“Rise Above”

Rise Above

Mandalas always generated their own stories, but 2017 brought a temporary end to (my) mandala creation, and the paintings that are coming forth now are less obvious in their messaging, as least to me at this point in time.

This piece, however, “Rise Above”, the third dragonfly in a series, was created during a time that is filled with chaos, conflict and tension, primarily in the world I am perceiving, but also reflected internally.

It is easy to surrender to fear and let my imagination take me to horrifying scenarios that end tragically for me and my loved ones (a skill I am not proud to possess).  I am less practiced at the preferable art of imagining a beautiful outcome, lots of love and joy, merriment and celebration.

Enter the dragonfly, a symbol of change and transformation, and for me…a reminder of nature’s exquisite wisdom.  Nature is balanced, with ebb and flow, and while in nature, it is much easier to become present.

As I reflected on the message of this piece, it is simply to pause and become present, preferably in nature, before reacting to anything that is observed in the “real world” right now, and even in the world within.  To do battle with anyone or anything is making less and less sense.  Observing and considering with a questioning mind is revealing and yielding greater benefits, along with copious amounts of compassion, including self-compassion.

The young woman who lost her life last week in Charlottesville was quoted as saying, “If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.”  It’s not that I disagree with that statement, but feel that acting from a place of outrage will not generate the peaceful outcome I believe most of us desire.

Once presence, observation, consideration and compassion have been practiced, I am convinced that guidance for inspired action will issue forth, and healing, humanity and unity can be restored.

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“Fierce”

Fierce-color

“Fierce” is the third and final incarnation for the 30″ X 30″ canvas you see here.  Ten years ago, the canvas looked like this…

Land of Enchantment

and was titled “Land of Enchantment”.  It is from the hugely fun for me and equally poorly received “Plane Air Series” which began with my looking out the window during a flight over New Mexico and observing the circular irrigation systems.

Learning acrylics within the last year gave me hope that I could give this canvas another chance at love by sanding it down (it is an oil), gessoing over it and beginning again.  May of 2017, it looked like this…

Fierce underneath

Ugh.

The past few years of life have been characterized by a continual theme…reaching for stability that no longer exists, grieving relationships that have been dismantled, bewilderment over belief systems that disintegrated and most disheartening for me, the loss of what I felt was mastery in my field which I consider to be art/painting.

Not that I’ve ever “made it big”, but I have enjoyed some measure of success, and I’m very grateful and proud of my body of work, the desert landscapes and botanicals of the nineties, the mandala series beginning in 2004.

July 3rd of 2016 I began an (important) piece, the “Heart and Soul Mandala”, which took shape with amazing speed, Heart and Soul with leaves

what you see here was completed in two days, the “heart” portion of the piece, if you will.  What happened on July 5th completely knocked me to my knees and a year later there is no further visible progress on the piece.  The “soul” portion remains to be explored.  If you wish an explanation as to what happened on the 5th, please refer to Melissa Among the Wolves, a blog by my very dear next door neighbor George, but prepare to have your heart broken.

As I even now attempt to process what happened, for me it was/is a huge call from my soul, with whom I realized I have a very dysfunctional relationship.  I was completely unaware of this, considering myself a spiritual person and on an introspective journey for the last twenty years or so.  In the past year I have had the opportunity to work with several wonderful healers (I’m so happy to share and/or recommend if you reach out to me).  Books that have landed in my lap are “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer and “Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul” by Deepak Chopra.

I am slowly realizing that what I have been reaching for (comfort, stability, a sense of success and mastery) are not my true desires, but rather, as I begin to build a relationship with my soul, leaning into “the discomfort of not knowing” is the true path to freedom.

The glimpses of this have come through the painting process in the last few months.  If I can persist through the excruciating discomfort of not knowing what I’m doing/where I’m going, at some point, the magic takes over and the unfoldment of the painting is a collaborative process that leaves me with the unshakable knowledge that I am loved, guided and never truly alone.

I knew trying to express this in a short blog post would be challenging.  I hope to give some encouragement that this soul journey can be wildly rewarding, even when it feels like shit.  Stay “Fierce” my friends…Fierce-color

 

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“True Nature”

True Nature

So much has happened already this year, which just so happens to be the year that I turn 60.  I hardly know where to begin…if you have read my posts over time, you know I have been struggling with direction for some time now.  The life changes have been so numerous and monumental that I have felt BEYOND disoriented.  I don’t respond well to feeling lost, and yet that is where I find myself most of the time.

Discovering Kathy Taylor and Studio 6020 was a game changer.  I began to see that feeling lost is really part of the gift and the assignment, (my part) is to show up, immerse myself in the chaos, and commit,  until direction finally begins to show itself.  Each time I do, and have the grit to endure the excruciating confusion…magic happens, (at least it feels magical to me).

“True Nature” was just completed.  Why does a woman who lives in Phoenix paint penguins?  Good question…

In January, Kathy had us create vision boards, our hopes and dreams for 2017.  There were stacks of magazines from which to choose photos and I found myself attracted to penguins.  Looking up their symbolism, I found they represent 1) new ways of seeing things, 2) a quantum leap of trust, 2) love and commitment, 3) strength and fortitude.  If I could order from a menu, these are the items I would choose!!

Last year right before I (literally) stumbled into Kathy’s new studio by accident, there was a frightening incident with a dog bite, an injury to my right hand, see “Bruised Reed” (warning…graphic).  I now believe that was an opportunity to begin expressing in a whole new way.

In March of this year, a cat tore open my LEFT wrist and after the initial shock, I quickly intuited that it is an opportunity to RECEIVE inspiration in a new way.

Simultaneously, I have been working with various teachers and healers to integrate wounds of the past, forgive myself and others, as well as sharpen my intuition.  Some of the gifts received are…a growing appreciation for the art I have already created, a (hesitant) willingness to surrender to the void and birth “what wants to be brought forth”, a growing resonance with Egyptian history, a stronger commitment to my “True Nature” and to revealing it consistently.

The painting is of a penguin family; the love, strength and commitment are palpable.  I have collaged Egyptian script into the piece, along with butterflies that came to me as tissue paper wrapped around art supplies.  Butterflies (of course) for transformation, and the knowledge that between the caterpillar and butterfly forms, there is a time spent in chrysalis soup, where formlessness is required.  The painting is filled with personal truth, a willingness to be vulnerable, wrong, and to keep showing up when I feel lost and confused, with self-compassion, knowing that magic will unfold.  I know the same will be true for you, as you navigate these challenging times of metamorphosis.

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The Old Warrier

Dapper DadMy Dapper Dad

So March 7, 2017 marks the third anniversary of my Dad’s passing, his “moving on to his next assignment”, as he would say.

As today approached, I wondered how  could I pay tribute, a Facebook post? What photos?  Nothing seemed enough and I thought, “I need to write a blog”.  Pondering that, more memories and content surfaced and I realized that to do the subject any justice, it would need to be a five-part blog…1) the introduction 2) the love story (parts one and two), 3) the family; fruits and follies of having six children, 4) the Surgicenter story, and 5) the conclusion, the grace with which he handled the dementia that finally took his life.

I’m not going to commit to any particular time schedule, so you’ll just have to stay tuned.

The introduction…my Dad was born May 19, 1916 to a doctor and a nurse (Wallace and Mary Reed), with a physician (J. D. Reed) as a grandfather as well.  His younger brother, born two years later, would not live past 6 months, a victim of the influenza epidemic of 1919, and his mother was, as expected, completely devastated.  Two sisters (Dorothy and Betty) and a brother (Robert) followed, and things were good for the lively family in Covina, California, until their dad, Wallace Reed, Sr., met a tragic end under mysterious circumstances on Easter morning, 1932…my Dad was 15.

 

Dad and BettyMy Dad and his sister Betty

 

The loss of his Dad nearly broke his heart and life was a struggle after that.  He pursued his education, high school and college, and helped his mother manage the household, maintaining  discipline about almost everything, except his sugar consumption, as detailed in the journals he meticulously kept, up until his father’s death (the journaling would resume later).  One summer he went to Vermont (where his mom’s family originated) for work and summer school, and this provided the opportunity for the beginning of a remarkable love story, which I will attempt to describe in the next post.