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The Emperor

Max – 2014

A lifetime ago (2005) when I was a soccer mom, and we had just adopted a shelter dog (Katie) after the loss of our beloved Brandy, we came home from a soccer game with a kitten in a shoe box, and we named him Max.

We had adventure after adventure with him, one of the first things he did was to climb up on the roof and fall off…life #1.

He was the boss of the house, even though Katie was bigger, and canine…

Katie and Max 2006

Max was a brawler and got in many, many fights, resulting in many vet visits. I was advised to keep him inside, but he just wasn’t going to have it, and the doggie door for Katie was put to good use by Max as well.

Max liked his subjects to behave, (including the weather) and let me know in no uncertain terms when he was not happy, that is why he is known as The Emperor.

When I had to say goodbye to Katie in 2014, Max took over as chief protector and comforter, and even though he is a cat, he looked out for me in his way.

In 2018, when I almost ran over a kitten that was in the middle of Northern Avenue, and brought said kitten home (Sam), there were certainly some adjustments to make!

But Max took things in stride and became the mentor to this strange little creature…

Max and Sam 2018

Max was a great sport about sharing the house with another male and not so much later, slowed down significantly, the diagnosis was Stage 3 kidney disease (August 2019).

So yes, I’ve known this day was coming, sometimes lived in denial and hoped that somehow we could be the exception and I would never have to say goodbye.

But that day has come and we bid farewell to The Emperor, our lives forever enriched through his presence. We will miss him mightily. May your subjects pay you appropriate homage in heaven, my dear Max…

Max and Sam 2020
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Repurpose

“Butterfly Noir”

The theme of the current times, it seems to me, is “repurpose”.

We are, as a collective consciousness, going through a transformation, what was before can no longer be maintained, and radical change is necessary to step into the new “now”.

We all know the allegory of the caterpillar “turning into’ the butterfly, and yet, that is simplifying and glamorizing things quite a bit. For this transformation to occur, the caterpillar as a living being completely dissolves into mush and goo, totally falling apart , decomposing down to its very essence, before the reformation into a butterfly can begin.

This helps make sense of what is happening in the world today, things are dissolving, and it can feel alarming; terrifying sometimes, so it is helpful to remember that on the other side of dissolution is resolution and repurpose.

It has been helpful for me to bring this awareness to moments of terror and panic, as I feel into what is happening, I can task my imagination with conjuring the new life, new form, new purpose that waits on the other side of this devastation.

If I am feeling like a victim and helpless, after recognizing it, I can shift it almost instantly by getting creative.

If you want to feel better, make something. Make anything.
All creativity aligns us with
Creation itself, the source of all healing.– Martha Beck

If I am feeling lack, and fear of more lack and loss, to shift into appreciation for what I currently have is the remedy.

Plants that have given fruit, then gone to seed can be composted, change form completely, cook and transform, and become fertile new soil for new seeds to grow. Much in the same way, we can toss our old patterns, spent emotions, on the compost pile, and let them become the ground for a more resilient life.

My intention was to center this blog post around a video in which I was taking things I found at Goodwill (a wrapping paper roll and old books) and turning them into beautiful new collage papers, and I will provide the link for that here, Gelli Plate Printing Ideas and at the same time, the message became so much more profound as I sat down to type.

I hope you will find your own ways to navigate this time, and as you do, please share with me! Let’s stay creative together.

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Starting An Acrylic Painting

Whether you are starting a painting for the very first time, or the thousandth time, there is trepidation, excitement, maybe a bit of fear, expectation and the hope for success and/or avoidance of disappointment. That’s a lot of pressure!

This is less likely to be true if you are a child, but even early on we learn to exchange creative play and the joy of experimentation for the temporary thrill of creating something admired by another…at least I did.

But we know the approval we get from pleasing another is a very temporary high, while the joy of connecting to your creative spirit and riding the waves that result is an experience you can have again and again with far greater rewards.

If you have been painting for awhile, you may already know that creating art that matters deeply to you is the only way to make art that matters to anyone. Ironically, this does require surrendering the need for anyone else’s approval. If you are just starting out, this awareness can save you a lot of anguish.

So if you have made the wise decision to show up in the studio and connect with your creative spirit, simply notice what you love to do, what thrills and delights you; then lather, rinse and repeat! I love starting out with total freedom, not demanding the paint and water to do anything but blend and play, and work their magic together.

Here is a video of a beginning a piece in just this way, “How to Start An Acrylic Painting”

This got me into the surrendered space and opened up a dialogue with creativity for me that led me to seeing a rooster in the piece…

“Underfoot” – midway

And once I had a path to follow, I could develop the piece the rest of the way, resulting in this piece, “Underfoot”…

“Underfoot” – complete

If you would like to view a reel of this painting developing, you can see that here, Underfoot.

I would love to hear from you how you start your paintings, and if you find specific hesitations, maybe we can find solutions for them together, and if you haven’t already received my Guide for Connecting to Your Creative Spirit, you can find that here, Paint By Heart.

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Fantasy – warning – “woo-woo” content

If you follow this blog, you know I love to paint, it is my favorite way to dig for the genius part of me.

I love words almost as much, and I can rely on them too heavily for my communication, forgetting about what information travels on the qi (energy), information in the morphic field, and the availability of this information to everyone at all times.

Today’s remarkable experience must be chronicled, not so much because I need you to understand what happened, but so I can remember the feeling of it again, after time has faded the memories.

Eileen McKusick, the brilliant creator of the Biofield Tuning Method, sent out a call to action last week, inviting all Biofield Tuners (of which I am one) to gather today, Sunday, June 27, 2021, for a group tune in whatever direction we felt drawn. She started the call on FaceBook Live with about 150 of us and then set us loose to tune as we were guided.

I “heard” initially that we were tuning the collective consciousness, amplifying the understanding that we all have access to the morphic field, and that it is always available. Knowing and trusting this can bring such reassurance, in that by simply tuning in and relaxing, whatever solution or information is needed in the moment can be known instantly. To receive it…I heard, “blue sky mind” (clear and calm) and “wholeheartedly present” (in the moment with heart coherence).

Before Eileen had finished her introduction, which was focused on us activating the central channel, grounding to the earth and connecting to the sky, my Sammy cat trotted into the treatment room with the second bird of the day in his mouth.

“Oh, no!” I said…and without really thinking, I firmly grasped Sammy’s jaw points with my left hand and removed the bird with my right hand. I got a little beak pinch on the finger which let me know the bird was still viable. I headed to the front door and as soon as I stepped outside and opened my hand, the bird flew enthusiastically away.

I returned to what unfolded as a magical experience, starting at the crown chakra with Eileen’s Fibonacci tuning forks, and moving quickly to the pilonidal sinus point at the base of the spine, knowing this is the point on the body where as animals, we would have a tail. I combed the field at this point on both sides, and as that came to completion and the energies reassigned from the field to the central channel, I felt guided to move to the thoracic spine, (wing point) using the tuning forks to encourage spreading wings fully, then “hearing” to address the capacity of the heart to open fully to receiving.

The experience of tuning with over 100 other practitioners working together as they felt guided was really beyond words. I felt strong coherence, confidence, a calm but highly energized sensation.

We gathered together on FaceBook live again at the end of the hour to close the tune together and relate some of our stories. Not only did we all have astonishingly positive experiences, most felt absolutely elated by the end of our time together.

My next task required getting in the car to drive, and “Fantasy” by Earth, Wind and Fire came on the radio…

“Our voices will ring together,

until the Twelfth of Never

We all live, love together…as one”

Wow…

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Recalculating

This blog primarily features artwork, but the experience with “Bird on the Edge” today is noteworthy and although initially I thought the experience was just another bird rescue, (necessary because of my teenage delinquent cat, Sammy), it became clear that there was an important message for me as well.

During this morning’s Qi Gong practice on Zoom I heard the commotion. I left practice briefly to find a familiar sight, feathers from room to room and in the hallway. Quiet resumed, and I decided to wait until practice ended to address the clean up, knowing I would have more clarity for the task at hand.

Experience informed my perception that this was a search and rescue rather than a recovery, and sure enough, I located the mourning dove in my bedroom behind the TV. I followed the usual steps of closing all doors to light, except for the one that offered the true opportunity, the doors which open to the pool area, a clear path to freedom. Initially, the bird would not move and I couldn’t get to him behind the TV.

Moving the furniture to begin my approach did not go well, our bird friend flew into the air, bumped into two or three walls before falling to the floor again, exhausted.

I thought, “Well, he is frightened and traumatized, that is why he can’t discern the open door, open air, hear the nature sounds, sense the outdoors. What would help? I brought in my iPhone to play Snatam Kaur and some tuning forks to begin restoring some coherence to his little avian system.

None of my ideas were proving effective and my schedule required that I attend to some other matters. When I returned some thirty minutes later, he was sitting above the door, facing inward, seemingly unaware that freedom was inches away.

“You’re right there! Freedom is just a few steps (wing flaps) away! You’re so close, you’ve got this! All you have to do is shift your perspective a little bit!

Whoa…that’s when I grabbed my iPhone to take this photo. I knew I was not just talking to the bird, those words were meant to encourage me as well.

The bird was in such a state of fear, shock and trauma that he lost his natural GPS and became frozen in fear, unable to follow his instinctive wisdom. I instantly felt a parallel to my (our) current state of affairs.

My determination to recalculate (re-calibrate!) daily, hourly, moment by moment if necessary, strengthened even more. When I feel lost, where do I look for information to help guide my way? Am I taking time to tap into my inner wisdom, becoming quiet until I “hear” the stillness within? Or do I tend to look outward and find myself paralyzed due to consuming fearful information that may not even be pertinent for me?

Continual recalculating and re-calibrating is essential right now. What works for you? Meditating? Gardening? A walk in nature? Energy Medicine such as Frequency Tunings, Tapping (EFT)? Conscious breathing? Creating? Qi Gong? Any and all of these are helpful for me and I employ (deploy) them regularly.

Whatever you choose, I sincerely wish for coherence, guidance and yes, some humor for your days. Thank you for reading and yes, the bird did find his way out the door, right after I asked for the angels help, and yes, that works too.

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Compassion Won

Compassion Won

This piece, completed on Easter, began nearly a month ago when I sanded down a failed floral (failed in my opinion) and started over.

When I look back now, the floral was not as awful as my eyes had told me it was, and it set me off on a journey, from failed to fabulous…I felt I could see the beginning of a Quan Yin figure in this abstract.

I found a statue of Quan Yin my boys (pre-teen at the time) gave me years ago and began bringing her forward.

This is already a week into the process…I was struggling with something most of the month of March, I felt it was unprocessed grief, but something else was happening, that made me feel wrong no matter what I was doing. I mean everything, what I was saying, wearing, eating, activities chosen, direction for the painting, all wrong…what was happening?

I re-worked the painting again and again (a reel of the process will show up on Instagram soon). I was determined and yet baffled at my indecision and waffling. My inner critic scoffed and shouted…”What is wrong with you, why can’t you do this, you’re an artist for God’s sake!”

The painting kept drawing me softly back. Quan Yin is, after all, the Goddess of Compassion, a bodhisattva (a person who is able to reach nirvana but delays doing so in order to ease the suffering of human beings). My treatment of myself was anything but compassionate.

The weeks wore on, revision after revision did not feel right. Today, I believe the answer came, when what to my wondering ears should appear, but a Podcast from Sounds True, http://Turning Shame Into an Ally

As I listened, I felt a deep knowing that this is what has been asking for my attention, shame was separating me from my wisest, most loving, most compassionate self and this information (a six-week course, available Tuesday) is (has been) a missing piece for me.

I am so looking forward to turning my shame into an ally instead of a tormentor, an emotional terrorist. I know this will help me be a better artist, more loving parent, partner and friend. I can now enjoy “Compassion Won” because it does not need to be perfect or fabulous, I know and accept that I am human and humans are flawed. I’m so grateful for the ways my art helps reveal my healing path and vice versa.

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Enhancing Creativity by

Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Neuroscience All Agree: Your Daily Routine Needs More ‘Non-time’ While your busy daily routine is healthy and productive, it may also be killing your creativity.

That headline from a recent article in Inc. by Jessica Stillman really caught my attention.

Jessica adds, “TED speaker Steven Kotler explained recently on the TED Ideas blog, non-time is basically a fancy word for quiet alone time when you are insulated from the world’s noise and demands.” 

How many of us schedule “Non-time” for ourselves? Are we successful in taking even mini-breaks throughout the day to assess our well-being and sanity, or is the hamster wheel or treadmill running incessantly?

“Pressure forces the brain to focus on the details, activating the left hemisphere and blocking out that bigger picture. Worse, when pressed, we’re often stressed. We’re unhappy about the hurry, which sours our mood and further tightens our focus. Being time-strapped, then, can be kryptonite for creativity,” Steven explains. 

Fortunately, we live in a time where there are many options to decompress, even if you have less than ten minutes. A quick trip outside to experience nature is the optimal choice. If that is not an option…then have I got a treat for you!

I recently remastered the Chakra Mandala Meditation initially created in 2010 and viewed over 9,000 times on YouTube. I’ve added mandalas created since that time and improved the image quality. Both the mandalas created and the accompanying music are specifically designed for healing and soothing.

Begin your mini-vacation with a few deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and let the breath originate in your belly, extend your exhale and add an audible sigh. Deep breathing while extending the exhale is proven to slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and assist in re-setting the autonomic nervous system. Let your gaze soften, eyes remaining open but unfocused, as the mandalas appear and dissolve before your eyes.

Let me know how you feel after your journey. Lather, rinse and repeat (as Brad Yates is famous for saying).

If you would like to be the first to know when new blog posts, videos and painting tutorials are released, you can join my e-mail community here: https://paintbyheart.com

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Finding Consistency

Vikki Reed in Studio 3-1-21

Ever on the search for finding that sweet spot of success, I was listening to a Podcast yesterday on Sounds True, with guest author (and personal branding expert) Jessica Zweig, who was promoting her book and sharing some tips. She had quite a bit of valuable information to impart and just as I was feeling hopeful, she said, “A very critical component to your success is…CONSISTENCY!”

Well crap…I thought instantly, the only thing I bring true consistency to is being inconsistent.

But as the aspiring optimist, I kept turning the idea around in my mind, and although at first glance I seem to be highly inconsistent, creating artwork over my career that includes desert landscape and botanical watercolors, mandalas in both watercolor and oil, and now mixed media acrylic pieces featuring an endless variety of subjects, women, birds, hearts, angels, florals, abstracts and horses, I recognize now that the consistency of creating beauty is the foundation.

At a low point in my life, while wondering what I contribute to a chaotic world, a dear teacher (Annie Bossingham) shared in a presentation that “Beauty is an antidote for violence.”

And what about the other work you do, Vikki? Biofield Tuning and the Emotion Code, how is that consistent?

It becomes clear to me that all the while, I have been working with frequency, whether in color, sound or vibration, to elicit a harmonizing effect. My intention since childhood has been to “help” (at times quite misguided) and now I understand that while it may appear that I am somewhat all over the place, the clear intention is to empower anyone inclined, by offering a menu of tools and techniques, creativity included, that can (may be able to) assist each in soul finding more presence, resonance, and a fully embodied journey through life, as we travel together on this magical, self guided adventure.

Be the first to hear about new videos, painting tutorials and new works, join my e-mail community at PaintbyHeart.com!

For more information on Jessica’s book “Be” https://www.jessicazweig.com/book

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Finding Stillness

Still Center by Vikki Reed

As world events grow increasingly chaotic, you may find a tendency to seek reassurance by managing outer circumstances.

Are my family and friends okay?  Can I pay my bills?  Is my job secure? Vaccine or no vaccine ?  What about increasing violence, climate change, the absolute uncertainty about the future?

It soon becomes obvious that if we wait for optimal outside circumstances to achieve inner peace, we will be waiting for an eternity.

Peace…finding stillness, can only be successfully achieved from within.  It is a shared truth across many spiritual teachings, as an example, many of us have heard “Be Still and Know That I Am God.”

On some level this is known by the wisest part of us and even so, ignored as we insist we are too busy for even brief meditations, walks in nature, a few deep breaths, somehow refusing to access the inner realm even though it can offer such relief.

In some ways it resembles organizing the junk drawer.  We know the peace and sense of accomplishment it will bring, but to achieve it, there is the daunting task of going through all our “junk”, and so we simply shut the drawer and go about more pressing business.

The “Still Center” mandala began in an unusual way, from the exterior edge (mandalas typically begin in the center).  First featured are hearts, protected by little spikes, followed by spirals.  Scrolls, diamonds and ovals cascade to the center, where an Om symbol resides, representing the soul itself, as well as the entirety of the universe.  Working the mandala in this way helped transition me from outer chaos to inner calm.

The image of a bicycle tire wheel comes to mind.  We are the wheel, one entity.  If positioned on the tire, where the rubber meets the road, the ride is going to be extremely rough, a predictable continuation of highs and lows.  If we can edge our way along the spokes to the center, the hub, our experience will feel much calmer.

These are challenging times filled with rapid (yet positive!) transformation.   I invite you to engage in the practices that provide the opportunity to rebalance… meditation, walking, absorbing nature, dancing, drumming, gardening, enjoying music, creating art/ mandalas; and return to them often.  Have compassion for yourself when you find your ride has become bumpy and ease your way back to your still center.

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Priority One

Priority One

Well, hello 2021, I had no idea you were going to be such a bitch.

It’s not even the second week of the year and I’ve had enough for now…enough sudden shocking events, painful realizations and deep disappointments. Yes, yes…I’m being overly dramatic, there have been some high points as well, and in reality, the lowest of the lows has given me a priceless gift, a gift wrapped in shit as one of my friends likes to refer to offerings such as this.

By Friday I was reeling. The same slap in the face kept coming, from different directions. With only one thing in common (me) I knew where to look more deeply. As I settled in to the morning breathing routine, I heard it…

“You keep hurting yourself and blaming others.”

Well, damn. I had a pretty good idea, but it’s so much more convenient to be mad at everybody else.

“You make others a high priority and expect that they will make you a high priority in return. When that doesn’t happen, you get hurt.”

Well, there it is.

Sure, from this perspective I can see what a bad idea that is and how it is a set-up for disaster, but I have never seen this pattern so clearly before. I get it now, I must make myself Priority One.

It’s easy to say, and we hear it again and again, “Fix your own oxygen mask first before you help another.” Yeah, yeah, I do that, but wait…

On closer observation, I almost NEVER do that. Then I get my undies in a bunch when what is important to me gets buried in someone else’s to-do stack.

Wow.

So happy I was working on (with) this horse and can align the lessons in and out of the studio. I believe this time I’ve gotten the message…

I am Priority One.

I’m sorry I called you a bitch, 2021, let’s be friends.

**Addendumless than 24 hours after this post, I received the following message in an e-mail from Suzanne Giesemann who channels Sanaya…it was just too synchronistic not to share!

Your needs may not always coincide with another’s. What is important to you is not always what is important to others. This can cause frustration. It may produce thoughts within you that the other does not care. Perhaps in different circumstances they care very much, but you have had many times when people do not know what is going on inside of you or in your earthly life. Could it be that way with the other who does not respond the way you would like? There is always another approach, another angle to move forward, and it may not involve that other. In fact, the lack of response may be just the opening you need that leads to a better way. Trust the Web, the Sea of Love that connects you all. Something better is brewing. Life … it is all about growing and loving and experiencing.

You are so very loved.