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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.

 

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Out of Line

out-of-line

There has been a great deal of shifting and changing occurring.  I see the image of a giant sifter, lots of things passing through, with a few larger, undesirable chunks left behind.

It has been a time of particularly uncomfortable self scrutiny as I measure how I fit in today’s world, feeling much like an Andy-of-Mayberry “Sarah, ring the filling station for me!” phone, as compared to an Apple Watch.

Mandalas help me process and so I began this small piece on grey paper.  I love the way that line collects and weaves itself together to form design and pattern.  I’m grateful that it can make sense of what mystifies and overwhelms me.  This entire piece was created from nothing but lines, with pen, pencil and marker, hence the title “Out of Line”.  Yes, I love words too, and how the meaning can blur and blend, intimating different messages in different circumstances.

I have always relied on lines to contain my images, and certain basic rules to define my life, but it seems now like all of that is changing.  I am learning that life is not as I have thought it to be and at the same time taking classes with a teacher who asks me to paint first and add lines later…maybe.

regrets

“Regrets” shows this style, and although I am somewhat pleased with the eventual result, I found it BEYOND challenging to step out into the visual unknown without a line to lead me.  This is not new and I am receiving the message repeatedly that it is time to let the lines go, see Whispers of the Goddess.    I still seem to feel a need to see my vision defined externally before I can render it.  Dissolving this pattern has been experienced as quite the struggle, and I am ready to let that go as well.

For the next assignment, we were asked to see what an already painted canvas suggested to us visually,  and then to “sculpt it out”, much as Michelangelo (allegedly) saw the angel within the marble and then set out to free it.

I didn’t so much “see” the cat as know it was in there, so I was able to allow it to take shape, to a certain point, and then I was stymied by the need to see reference material so I could find my way to the completion of it, again reaching outside myself for permission to express.  I did find what I was looking for and “Turquoise Kitty” feels successful to me.

turquoise-kitty

My journey into the uncharted and unlined territory will continue, and when I need comfort and security, I will always return to the mandalas and soothing gift of line.

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Learning to Love Grey

greytful

I’ve never been a big fan of grey…color is my muse, black and white is cool, but grey?  Boring, neutral, non-committal, not included in my palette, in art, or really, much in life.

I always had strong opinions, even though some of what I believe has changed over time, I hold what I currently believe to be true with great tenacity.  It has been shocking to me to see that MANY others do not believe as I do, but rather, hold opposing views that I judge as absolutely abhorrent; acts of hate, perpetuation of inequality, devaluing human life, careless misuse of Mother Earth.

Times of challenge are always eased when I retreat to the studio and create.  When in doubt, doodle…and just having taken a class from the marvelous artist Kathi Hofferth, I chose some grey paper,  and set out with black marker and pencil, white marker and pencil, and what you cannot see is the addition of the silver foil!  As I created, the heart inserted itself firmly in the center, peace symbol surrounding, and yin and yang were added (the balance of dark and light), along with spirals and what appear to me to be exclamation points.

Reflecting on what seems to be a time of unprecedented polarity, I find there is a place, even a need for grey.  To hold positions with such ferocity increases the illusions of distance and cements disagreements in place.

From Mike Dooley of Tut.com

Actually, Vikki, everyone is reasonable.

They just have their own reasons.

And usually it’s worth trying to learn what they are to maximize chances of a full-blown, 60’s style, psychedelic lovefest. Which is always a good thing.

Groovy you,
The Universe

So I played with the grey and the mandala energy gave me something beautiful.  I realize that I spend lots of time trying to keep things stable and comfortable, when in these times,  the ability to embrace change moment to moment is much more valuable.  The image of a dog with its head out of the window in a speeding car comes to mind…why do they love that?  Wind in their eyes and fur, tongue hanging out, not what I would choose, but can I learn to appreciate it?  I AM learning to love grey.

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Peaceful Transitions

altar-for-peaceful-transitions

The results of the election have taken their toll on me.  I really never believed we could find ourselves here, but now that we have, a huge opportunity for transformation, or if you like,  AFGO (as my sister is fond of saying) another fucking growth opportunity has  presented.  This can be an agonizing struggle, OR  a peaceful and easeful transition, the choice, in truth,  is ours.

When I find myself in fear, overwhelm and grief (FOG) as I have been this week, giving it up and over to God/Goddess/All That Is by way of  ceremony really helps.

Starting from left to right, “Guidance Mandala” shows up as a reminder to center, check in with soul, mind and body, consult the inner GPS.  “Let It Bee” is next…grief is natural, but fighting against “what is”, especially with blame, shame or guilt is a terrible waste of precious energy.  “Accepting Grace” helps with opening to the unseen, grace is always waiting to assist, but it can be hard to notice if I am “waving my sword around”.

The center piece is “New Paradigm Portal”, signalling the imminent and inevitable changing of the paradigm.  In spite of appearances, the old power paradigm of the distorted masculine is falling away and will be replaced with a more empowered feminine/balanced masculine combination that is inclusive, cooperation and community based, and sustainable.  The election results seem to point to a different truth, but I know it is temporary, and will result in more chaos, which is the birthing place for all significant new creation.

“Power” for the Throat Chakra Mandala is first to the right of the “New Paradigm Portal”, it is essential now that everyone speak their truth with calm empowerment, and I do mean everyone, so if I am hearing a position I am opposed to, I intend to listen with all the equanimity and compassion I can muster.  When I speak, I seek to do so without need for justification, but simply for clarification, education or inquiry, hoping to dissolve distance and create connection.  The next piece is “Transitions Mandala” which I created shortly before the death of my father in 2014.  This piece holds intentional space for a higher perspective, eagle’s eye view of transitions.  Remembering that Einstein said that every  problem contains within it the seeds of the solution, which cannot be understood from the level of consciousness that created the problem, a higher perspective will enable a productive path forward.

Finally, “Unconditional Abundance Mandala” is included as a reminder that abundance is available in many forms.  Freedom is wonderful abundance and it is always available to us, freedom to choose to react with love instead of fear.

The feathers, stones, charms and crystals were selected to support the energy of Peaceful Transitions.  Use my altar, or even better, create your own, or find any ceremony that supports you. Wishing you presence, love for yourself, deep compassion, radical forgiveness, peace and access to your inner wellspring of joy.  Please remember, you are an essential element in this process.

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Who Loves You Baby?

who-love-you-baby

I managed to get a little mandala done yesterday, even with election day jitters, as luck would have it, I am a new Grammie and of course, my sweet, innocent new grand-daughter is on my mind.

She arrived last Thursday (November 3, 2016) a perfect tiny human bravely birthed by my son’s fiance, she actually made it look easy!

I have had the privilege of holding her, marveling at her perfection in miniature, and I am sad that my thoughts go to fear.  I am already worrying about her and what the future holds.  Memories came rushing back of my son, and how I worried about him, the staggering responsibility of his care.  I can’t bear the thought of anything happening to her.  My heart aches that I cannot protect her, or my son and his family, even though I know that is not up to me.

Mandalas have the power to soothe and heal, at least ME.  I started in the center with a big beautiful eye, God/Goddess is watching over us all.  The eye is surrounded by little Cs, facing each other as initially the words running through my mind were “I SEE you baby”…

Bubbles rise up in front of angles, there will be both smooth and difficult situations in her life, a good life really cannot be had without some challenges to overcome.  The spirals connect the babies, as all life is connected, the continuous flow of generations and time.  Then the sweet babies are rendered, pretty in pink with little rosebud mouths.  The mandala is bordered with hearts and pink drops, I know there will be lots of love and a few tears.

Waking up today, I find that America has elected a new president, someone with whom I vehemently disagree.  For  my grand-daughter, my family, myself and my country, I know I must focus on love.  “Who Loves You Baby?”  Eye do.

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Primary Knowledge

primary-understanding

It has been a tumultuous year and most everything feels to be in a state of constant change (oxymoron!)  Even the mandalas feel less familiar and when I returned to the studio after a long absence, this mandala had already been sectioned neatly 16 ways.  I obscured nearly half of the lines for the central spiral, for a nice balance between the lined and open shape.  I did not have the title initially, it suggested itself due to the color scheme and the current life theme, which is, that everything I thought I knew, all my beliefs, including who and how I believe myself to be, are subject to question.

A serendipitous discovery not long ago led me to a painting class which meets once a week.  It is an entirely different style of painting, and the first night we were given a few guidelines and asked to do a still life, my effort is shown below…”Seeing Through”.seeing-through

I had a difficult time with this and realized that painting without a linear framework was terrifying to me.  I have become completely reliant on the lines to guide my way!

Week two we were given a few reference photos, along with access to some magazines and the theme “Hair of the Dog”…and the suggestion of a combining collage and painting.  I again felt the fear of the unknown, but emboldened by the amazing instructor, Kathy Taylor, and the energy of a very talented group, I had the most incredible result… i-did-what-last-night

“I Did WHAT Last Night?”

Last week (week three), the assignment was an abstract (or two!) so off I went again, into the enchanted forest without a map, and what to my astonished eyes should appear, but “Whirlwind” and “Romance”, two serviceable, if unremarkable abstracts.

whirlwind-romance

What is happening?  While these different expressions are coming forth,  a book has come into my hands which I shall not name, as so far I would not recommend it, since it has only served to make me feel hopelessly damaged and destined to live a miserable life until I die a lonely death.  It speaks of the fate of children born highly empathic, that learn to read the emotions and energies of others, taking the skills of a chameleon to a new level in a misguided attempt to harmonize the chaos with which they find themselves surrounded.  The end result is an individual so deeply separated from the awareness of their own truth, their own real feelings and emotions, that there is no way to access the invaluable inner GPS, it has been virtually overridden.  This has me questioning everything…what I paint, why I paint, who I am after everything and everyone else is stripped away.

As I read the words, they seem terribly self-indulgent.  This is not a third world crisis which has me fearing for my physical life, I have not lost my home or had to flee bombings, floods, hurricanes or terror.  Still, I find myself wondering in a deeper way who is inhabiting this physical body and how I might really and truly get to know her.

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Whispers of the Goddess

whispers-of-the-goddess

I spent the first weekend in October with the remarkable Annie Bossingham in a “New Paradigm Workshop”.  There was a great deal of discussion about the role of the feminine energy, the current turbulent shift from the distorted masculine energy which has held power to the evolving blend of feminine and (harmonized) masculine energies that will represent the new paradigm.

Certainly this is playing out on the world stage in dramatic ways that are easy to externalize.  But what about internally?  I know from past experience I would not be so triggered if there was not some resonance inside me.

Introspection begins to reveal the ways I have perpetrated a dishonoring of the feminine;  perpetual doing as opposed to being, attempting to control instead of allowing, and of course the time honored platitude, “It is better to give than to receive”.  In addition, there are the attempts to ignore or manipulate my emotions into submission.  I believe most of these patterns and behaviors are instructed by a desire to fit into the world in a certain way, a world which has even more blatantly dis-empowered the feminine.

But the times they are a-changing.

My creative expression is changing too.  I have just begun a painting class which is teaching a style unlike anything I have previous learned.  I struggled so much with it at first, without realizing, I was missing the lines.  I feel I need linear structure as a foundation for creation.  God/Goddess/All That Is has other plans.

This piece which began as a mandala, features a feminine figure in the center.  I added the elements, fire, water, earth, and was looking to add air, and the Goddess whispered.  She is prominently featured, and she is blowing away the lines.  Her presence is beautiful, powerful, loving, compassionate, intentional, inevitable.  Her breath is directed into the left ear, which coincidentally for me has been intermittently popping.

There is a great healing taking place.  The world as we know it is changing.  There will be some chaos as structure falls away, but beauty, resilience, strength and grace will emerge.   Your participation is essential!