Saturday, October 28, 2006

Collage and stuff

Here's where the artist thing becomes a bit of a pain. I'm wide awake at 2am, which wouldn't matter except that my sleep schedule is a bit on the unpredictable side at times. It wouldn't matter, except that my children will expect a coherent mother in the morning, as will my out-of-town visitors and my co-workers. sigh.

BUT, because of my inability to sleep I've been mucking about online and found some really great links to share. You know how one thing leads to another? Well, I started with Art Shrines, which led to a fabulous artist in New Zealand named Dale Copeland and a compelling collage exchange she organizes.

Now I'm inspired to create the required 13 collages and mail them over to New Zealand. Causes me to ponder if a similar project would work at Imagination Tribe. Hmmmmmmmmm.......

Either way, collage projects are calling me. Oh, and the miniature shrines and a few IT trades and, oh yeah, there's that fundraiser thing I promised to organize. Ok maybe I can sleep now. Hope my muse knows I need a nap.

**Above image is one of my pages from the Imagination Tribe circle journal 2005**

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Days of the Dead

We're working on a *Day of the Dead art trade over at Imagination Tribe, entries being due on the 2nd. Having already received a couple trade items, I'm getting more inspired. Sierra and I worked on ours and came up with some that we're really happy with, though my **shrine is staying here with me. Sometimes I can't bear to part with something. It's also an inch larger than the size parameters so I have my excuse to not send it away.:)

I've really enjoyed this trade immensely. The onslaught of cold weather lends itself to turning within, journeys into self and a hunkering down at home with loved ones and hot soup. Something about this time of year causes me to slow down and create more art and writing.

I had a night where the past felt overwhelmingly painful last week, swirling up feelings of loss. I cried for my mother, great grandmother and mother-in-law, I cried for Hannah Jenner and all the parents that don't have their babies in arms. I opened a box if keepsakes and cried over the past that I can't touch any longer....bits of notes from loved ones and times that will never be again. Loss. It's such a powerful word.

Kahlil Gibran said "Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper the sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven? And is not the lute, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

Yin-Yang. Balance. Universal flow.
I find his words resonate with me. It's all part of this journey. Learning to accept loss as a natural part of our visit to this earth helps us release that which no longer has a place here with us. As much as I would love to hold onto my mother, that was not her journey. I trust her journey is exactly what it's meant to be, even if it causes my pain.

*Days of the Dead is a time to reflect on death and life and losing loved ones. It is a time to honor those we've loved that have died. It is a time to go within and find the joy of the season, to celebrate life and light and all that we enjoy. As our part of this planet spins itself towards darkness, it is time to enjoy the quiet season. The harvest is in, the labor is finished for now, it's time for reflection and connection.

*Dias de los Muertos starts on October 31st and finishes on November 2nd.
**Quotes on the shrine are: "To the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure." ~Albus Dumbledore
"Death--the last sleep? No, it is the final awakening." ~Sir Walter Scott

Monday, October 23, 2006

Broken bowl mosaic

Thought I'd share my first attempt at mosaic, the very one I mentioned in "Growing Beyond Blame". I'm pretty happy with it, though I learned a lot about what NOT to do next time. I affixed all the bits and pieces to an 18" square tile purchased at Lowes.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Confidence (or how to grow some)

These are pictures of artwork that I find absolutely stunning. The *person who created these recently joined Imagination Tribe and has shared many of her fears and insecurities about her own art. I'm displaying these to show that talent and skill level have NO connection to our confidence level.

Her art speaks volumes. It is what I aspire to as an artist. Yet she deals with the same fears and grapples with the same insecurities that I (and so many others) do.
Many of us are acting as bulwarks against generations of fear perpetuated, against wholeness robbed. We are saying "no more" and plunging into the life of a creative regardless of the outcome. We are telling the universe that we BELIEVE, that we are worthy. We are trying to be a buffer for our children, so they can lay claim to their own gifts without the weight of second guessing themselves.

There is an article on this very topic, that this person posted yesterday. It brought me to tears because it speaks directly to my own journey:
"Just Like a Goddess" is a must-read in my opinion.

The only way to rid ourselves of these negative messages, is to ignore them. We choose the voices we will hear. I choose the voices of my sisters. I choose the voices of strong, beautiful women that create art or writing or cooking or whatever is in their hearts to create, with confidence and strength. I choose my gifts today. I choose the creative life. I choose to let joy be my guide, not fear.

*All artwork by Laura Bowman

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Delicious Living

Community: a : joint ownership or participation b : common character : LIKENESS c : social activity : FELLOWSHIP d : a social state or condition

What makes life delectable? What people, places or things nourish our spirit and lend a richness to our day? I've been thinking about this in terms of community, the kind of people and activities that define the framework of our days and give tide to the rhythm of the seasons. The essence of community for me is not only about my "tribe" but about ritual and flow. Sometimes it's a delightfully spontaneous moment but much of my community is about the thrum of everyday life.

I am fortunate enough to have likeminded friends (whom I refer to as my "tribe") all over the country and even in far flung corners of the globe. They are available to me any time I sit here at my computer. The beauty of technology is the rich connections we've made with people that are not a part of the local area in which we choose to live. People which I think about and converse with. People I met online and then in real life that help me grow as a human being and challenge me to dig deeper.

~The Old Sweet Shop; always bring quarters to crank up the player piano
~The Museum Warehouse; a mad array of imports made by tribal people in foreign countries
~The Jonesborough Library; 'nuff said
~First Friday; Art galleries stay open late and we always run into a few people we know.
~MAC counter; work friends that help me grow as an artist and make me laugh.
~Park day; meeting up with other homeschoolers and unschoolers rates pretty high on the priority list
~Nord's games; where we can discuss needed D&D items or new games we'd like to play.
~Michael's; to replenish the constant flow of art supplies being used.
~Hands-On Museum; from painting and freezing shadows to iguanas and a mini-grocery store.
~Music on the Square; what could be better than some bluegrass and sidewalk chalk?
~Acoustic Coffeehouse; dark beer, chalkboard walls, art, independent musicians, who could ask for more?

These people and places are the framework for our regular days. Community; today I sat with some friends that live nearby and assembled an art project that involved 20 people from different states and one from Canada. We sat and drank Chai tea, chatted about life in general and shared our amazement at the different ways each participant expressed themselves in this project. These times make my life feel rich and full, the moments we connect with others near or far and share our days. My Tribe.

This year has seemed to be all about community, all about soul connections and deep friendships. There have been connections made in Albuquerque, in the mountains of North Carolina, the flatlands of South Carolina and right here at home. My daughter connects with her Pensacola community via constant internet and phone conversations every day. We all make connections with new and old friends through MySpace and other internet forums.

I think we need to surround ourselves with positive, brilliant and beautiful people that aren't afraid to shine. I think we need these soul connections with likeminded (and not-so-likeminded) people to help us grow and learn and open our eyes. My community nourishes me deeply. Community is a safe place during the storms of life, it is a haven for our spirit and a boost in the arm when we need it. Community.

My creativity list (Imagination Tribe) has allowed me to participate in and run several trades and collaberative projects that bring home the message of community in a powerful way.

Through community we have experienced the charm of collaberation. Collaberative projects take on a whole different feel than art and writing we do on our own. One of the circle journals we made at Imagination Tribe sits near my bed. I cherish the diverse and interesting pages brought together by collaberative energy. Working together while expressing individuality is a fabulous way to encourage creative expression.

So here's to community and collaberation! Here's to the freedom to create the community of your choosing and expressing self through partnerships and connections. Here's to friends that enrich our lives and the places we love to visit and revisit.
Community..... a small word that holds an immense definition. Life is delicious!!

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I was sitting at Starbucks a few weeks ago, on a lunchbreak. Sitting there thinking and observing (as I often do) led to some writing (as often happens) about the comparison between corporate and private business. I'm not anti-corporation, I'm just against the exploitation, greed and harm most big businesses cause. Oh, and the lack of personality, character and uniqueness that should be part of a business...ok, I'm anti-corporation.

My Grandfather used to talk about the lack of uniqueness that was becoming prevalent back in the 70's. He said "If you stuck me in any city in the country, I could have told you which city it is by the different buildings and businesses. I couldn't do that today,they all look the same". He bemoaned the influx of sameness, brought on by big corporations and chains.

This man is an icon in my world. He left home at 15 to make it on his own. He's seen more countries than most, worked in Saudi Arabia, moved to Alaska as a young father to create a life on his own terms. He became wealthy, but always stayed humble, connected and modest. I don't doubt that his views have influenced many of my own.

So here's the discourse I wrote, while sitting at Starbucks enjoying my lunchbreak:


Starbucks; slick, clean, oh-so-symetrical and glossy. It's the vogue of coffeeshops. Graphic artist paradise.
Acoustic coffeehouse; busy, swirling activity, sounds clash, colors jump out, people don't match but they laugh oh-so-loudly. Artist paradise.

I like my mountain-high pile of gooey, salsified nachos and a dark beer to wash down the live music and conversation at Acoustic. We leave chalk messagess in the bathroom and chat with pirates and a beautiful man from Kenya.

I sit sipping on dark roast with cream and raw sugar, with a tidy cut of coffee cake today. Politically correct music plays over loudspeakers as people come and go. I write messages to myself and talk to no one, though a smile or two may pass among strangers. Strangers that look like students and professionals--I wonder where the pirates are on days like these. Pirates or dark-skinned men from Kenya or strong women that sing passionately and aren't afraid to cuss or admit how they really feel. A guy sitting out front with his guitar and dog is sounding really good right now.

But I'll politely sip my coffee, glance up occasionally to see strangers come and go and think about how sterile this world is becoming thanks to places like Starbucks, where I drink my afternoon coffee and dream of raw edginess and colorful people.
Verone blend anyone?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Being true to self

This is my good friend Nielah. She and I have major philosophical differences, yet this person inspires me and uplifts me everytime I see her. Nielah is one of those people that is so full of life, so full of love for what she does and so in the FLOW of spirit that you can't help but feel inspiration in her presence. Her gifts to the world are dancing and singing. They are gifts of the heart, born from the depths of creativity and passion.

She is my symbol for the topic I've been pondering this week. I'm not even sure how to formulate what's been swirling through my mind in some succinct manner, but it's the difference between bending yourself to fit other's expectations, and touching others through your gifts. The first one seeks to conform, while the second seeks to heal. Touching people, reaching them through your art (whatever form it takes) is the greatest gift. But you can't reach others by trying to please others. It doesn't work that way.

I got a serendipitous email this morning, one of the Robert Genn twice-weekly letters. Here's a segment:

~~"I admit it, every time I paint a picture--or write my
twice-weekly letter--I'm thinking that something in what I do
might bring value to another person. I believe that reaching
out and connecting with others may just happen to be our
highest calling. In the regular inflow of emails, many artists
tell me that they don't paint to please anyone but themselves.
A lot of this attitude, while commendable in some ways, is a
cloud of smoke.

It's my observation that all of us, no matter how iconoclastic
and independent, while looking to our own sparkplugs, also keep
our eyes on connectivity. I don't know how you feel about it,
but I think universal love gets into art, too. Without
connectivity in our lives there's no reason to keep our
sparkplugs sparking. It's not a difficult plot."~~

While I agree with Mr. Genn, I think he needs to elaborate on this idea.
Yes, I agree that the connectivity is everything, but I don't believe you'll find that connectivity without first learning to NOT care what anyone thinks
Going within is the way to GET to those connections and reaching others.

I spent this last weekend with some really fabulous people. All of them inspired me in different ways. One person I was chatting with asked me a lot about the creativity coaching I do and how I came to that place. It reminded me just how much healing happened along that path and how important it was for me to excavate what was within ME. As I excavated an authentic life, it naturally began to swirl up and affect others I came in contact with.

As we go within, as we excavate our own passions and interests, we will naturally affect everyone around us. Sharing our gifts requires a deep journey into self, where we find that beauty only we possess. That beauty, brought to the surface of our every day living has the power to not only heal our spirit, but touch others.

I am constantly in awe at all the inspiration I get from kindred spirits that are willing to follow their life's passions and share their gifts. I am constantly in awe at how many people tell me that *I* have done or said something that helped them! In awe because you don't even have to TRY to reach anyone, you just have to stay the course, trusting that which is within and be willing to share. Community is a powerful thing.

Which brings me to my next line of thought...the power of collaberation. But that's for another day.:) Keep trusting the interests you have in your heart, they are the key to an authentic life and deep connections with others. It just keeps getting better.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Growing beyond blame

At the Unschooling Basics list, there was a question about acheiving one's dreams (or the lack thereof) and whether or not it's ok to blame your parents for the damage they did. I'm lifting my response, because I've been thinking about this topic a lot:


"So I'm not allowed to blame my parents?"

YES, I think you have a right to be angry at their
lack of support. I think anger is the first step to
healing. I think you have every right to examine what
they did wrong, turn it over and look at every angle
and in every light. I think seeing clearly where they
didn't help you, will actually be a very important piece
in letting it go.

So blame them for their actions or lack of actions. BUT,
don't blame them as an excuse for what you are or are not
today. Because now it's up to you. You have a choice to
be bigger and better than their limitations. You have a
right to everything your heart desires. You are worthy
and beautiful and talented. Their limited and limiting view
of YOU is NOT what you are about!! That's it. Simple right?

Disentangling ourselves from our parents view of us is
sometimes more complicated than all that. That's why I believe
it is SO important for us to be that clear/calm pool, so that
we reflect the TRUTH of our children back to themselves, rather
than some distorted view that is filtered through fears and

It's a process. One that you can live in each moment. When
you hear that voice saying "I'm not good enough" you can LAUGH
in it's face and say "that isn't ME!! I AM good, I AM talented
I AM successful" YOUR voice wouldn't put you down, would it?
So that must be someone elses voice getting inside your head
and it has no right to be there any longer.:)

Replace all those voices with positive self-talk. Practice
self-kindness and compassion. Give yourself and your
children all that positive talk that your parents could
not give you. Recognize that it wasn't about YOU at all...
it was their own lack and self-perception that allowed them
to rob you of fullness. It was about THEM, not YOU.

Maybe you already know this logically. But I think
emotionally you're hanging onto some of the fears they
dumped on you. They had no right to do it, but they truly
didn't know better. So let it go. Let yourself be the fullest
expression of YOU. You are not defined by anyone elses
expectations or ideas. Go larger than life!!
It's ok to be grand and beautiful and amazing. It's ok
to be in the spotlight. It's ok to be the master and captain
of your ship....don't let anyone tell you differently.:) It's
also ok to surround yourself with people that buy into your
dreams and limit people that aren't going to support it.
Create the world you NEED to nourish yourself and
your BIG dreams. Then simply live the passion each day,
without any limiting ideas of what those dreams look like.
Just BE a singer.
Because you are.

So the issue of unsupportive parents was addressed, but the part I
keep going back to is the whole idea of our dreams. This person was talking
about shedding a lot of tears the last five years because her dream of
becoming a successful singer has not happened. Life changed and she--like
so many others--essentially gave up on the dream.

The first part of this equation is having a rigid idea of what "success" looks like and holding onto it so tightly we miss the meandering journey that the universe holds for us. Dreams should not be some concrete, static thing that we shoot for. If the joy is in the passion we carry, then the dream IS the passion not some mainstream idea of what FORM that passion should take. Passions are greater than all that. We don't have to achieve a certain status or level of success to be nourished and fed by our passions. That is rather limiting really.

The other part is this........sometimes life throws a few curveballs. Sometimes OUR version of things gets turned upside down. It's what we do with those bits and pieces afterwards that decides whether our passions become a beautiful thing in this journey, or some poignant reminder that we aren't going to have what we thought we wanted.

I have a reminder of this sitting on my bedside table. It's an amateurish attempt at mosaic, my first mosaic. But let me back up a bit;

Once upon a time, in Pensacola Florida I worked one night a week at a ceramics shop. I painted a lot of ceramics back then so it only made sense that my husband recieved one of my creations for a birthday. I painted him a bowl with scenes from our lives on it, the places we lived, the things we'd accomplished and a lovely quote about who he was. It said "You have the heart of a musician, the soul of a dreamer and the mind of an adventurer". Which is still true.

That was the year our marriage came crashing down. I picked up the shattered pieces of my dreams and tried to move forward. They didn't fit quite the way I'd planned. After many months and a lot of heartache, we managed to reconcile and in that reconciliation find much growth.

But we entered into a completely different relationship and marriage than the one we'd had before. If I tried to hold on to MY version of "how things should be", it wouldn't have worked. In going with the flow, in being able to adapt and be creative, we've come to a better place than either of us could have imagined.

Our dreams do this sometimes. Letting go of that concrete version that looks like one thing, helps us achieve MORE. So back to the mosaic.....
That bowl I painted for my husband got dropped one day. It was in many pieces on the floor and I just looked at it and sighed. But I've been carrying those shards of broken ceramic with me. They were formed into the mosaic that sits by my bedside recently. It doesn't look anything like the bowl it first became. There are lovely bits of glass wedged in between, shiny blues and greens and whites.

It's a new and different work of art now. Not worse, not better, just different. It's inspiring in it's own way. Broken pieces don't have to be a reminder of what was can simply be it's own new and beautiful work. It depends what we do with those shards. In sculpting with those pieces we can find authentic success.