Thursday, February 24, 2011

Healing Art Gallery: Your Dream Window

~ Cori Berg

If you could have any image outside your window, an image to calm or an image to inspire, which would you choose?

~ HiddenChild

Would you choose a field of freedom?

~ Jessie
Or a path to a mysterious destination?

~ Tyler Farriell
A quiet animal feeding in the distance?

~ Cori Berg
Spectacular rays of sun?

~ Jodi Crane
A bridge from one place to another?

~ Jessie
A magical forest of possibility?

~ Jenice Johnson

A marvelous meadow of opportunity?

~ Cori Berg
A sea of illumination?

~ Katherine Lovitt-Farriell
Or the sun setting on soothing waters?

Art is the window to man's soul. Without it, he would never be able to see beyond his immediate world; nor could the world see the man within.

~ Claudia  Lady Bird Johnson

A very special note of thanks to all of our artists this week!  I always enjoy the mix of seasoned artists as well as those who are just discovering themselves as artists.  I spent time with each of these pictures this week .. so pleased to find little surprises like Tyler's deer and Jenice's city.  Please take a moment to leave a comment.  It really feeds the soul to know your work has touched someone!  Stop by tomorrow for next week's Healing Art Challenge!


Check out my upcoming online course here!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kaizen Wednesday: Expand Your Taste Experience

When I was a child, radishes were for salads.  A colorful adornment, a spicy little kick, a small player in the vegetable world.  I was fascinated with the different shapes the little bulbs would come in and especially loved seeing how the color of the skin "bleeds" when they are washed and sliced.  On a fresh vegetable tray, I would always choose one or two, cause they look so pretty next to carrots and celery!  But it wasn't until I had tried posole, a mexican soup, that includes sliced radishes on top that I absolutely fell in love!  When my friend made it for me for the first time, I thought it was the strangest thing to put those radishes on top of a hot soup!  But the cool crispness meeting the hot's a symphony on your tongue!  Suddenly the little radish has a stand out solo! 

Part of mindful eating is opening up your palette to new flavors.  Often our personal tastes are deeply embedded in our past... the environment in which we first experienced foods.  Meeting old tastes again, trying completely foreign tastes, requires an openess and letting go of control, a spiritual state of being.  I'm so blessed to have had friends introduce me to so many different kinds of cuisine, new kinds of vegetables, new adventures!

A special thank you to my friend Sukie, at Trusting Delight for allowing me to use this lovely painting.  I just fell in love with it when I saw it for the first time last year! 

This is the final post in the Kaizen Wednesday Mindful Eating series. Next month we turn to cleaning and organization.  Yikes!  I like eating better!

And please check out the online course I am teaching this spring:


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Tutorial: Wire Self Portrait

Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line.
You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
 ~ Lucille Ball

A set of inexpensive colored wire found in the craft section of Walmart, some needlenosed pliers, and a warm day at the park was all I needed to find a little harmony in a chaotic day!  Wire is an interesting medium for making a self-portrait.  I used a very light gauge of wire, which meant I really had to accept the imperfection, both in the form, and in myself!  Holding one's own image in your hands, spending time with it... created a similar feeling to taking a long bath, or doing something decadent.  Then I created a space of love and compassion with the watercolor behind it.  Taking a few moments to care for one's self does wonders for filling up your own vessel from which you pour kindness and joy to others.  Find time today!

Please check out my upcoming online class!  A great price for 8 weeks of inspiration and creative fellowship!

Seeds of Spring Online Course

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Online Course! Seeds of Spring...

Celebrate the season of spring with this online course to plant seeds into your creative life!  You will engage eight weeks of online tutorials and creative guidance  through photographs, videos, creative forums, and more!  Through creative play with themes of spring found in the natural world, you will create pieces for self reflection and discovery. Each week you will post pictures of your work for the class community to engage and give feedback.  For each of the eight themes, three different artistic explorations will be provided for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced skill level.  That's a total of 24 different projects for just $45!

One week before the course begins, you will be sent a password and instructions for entering the Seeds of Spring Class site found on Ning. No need to buy expensive art materials as the course uses simple arts and crafts materials, household objects, and optional inexpensive craft items found at local craft stores.

Register now as a gift for yourself or a loved one!

Music Monday: Fix You

I am so completely drawn to this song.  I'm drawn in to the quiet melancholy of the beginning and then swept away when the beat quickens halfway through.  But the theme... I wrestle with it in my mind.  Believing you can "fix someone,"  or even trying to, can lead you into all sorts of unhealthy situations.  A person's healing or growth can only come  from within and others can be there to bear witness, encourage, uplift, and speak to hope.  With another person, or a network of people helping to create a compassionate and safe space, we are more able to leap into our fears and learn to let go.  At the very base of our support efforts is the statement that the person you are caring for is worthy of attention.  This declaration of worth may be the impetus a person needs to keep strugggling, keep fighting, and to keep searching for answers. 

May those who struggle today find the eyes of someone who loves them.

♪ ♥ ♪

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Share: Good Lovin'

Got the screen door open, listening to some great Oldie's music and enjoying the freshness of the morning!  Is it really February?  Was it really just a little over a week ago that Dallas was shut down with ice and sleet?  Very odd!  I'm really looking forward to sharing these snippets from the bloggyworld and the internet I came across this week.  Thank you to several people who shared a few of these links with me!  If you happen to live somewhere that spring seems to cracking through the dregs of winter, open a window and sit down with me while you peruse!

I'm not sure exactly when I first started reading Sukie's blog, or how I even came across it.  Having left the Episcopalian priesthood, Sukie began pursuing writing and inner artist and sharing it with the us through her blog.  A former seminarian who also has struggled with both calling and faith and my artistic expression, Sukie has been one of those people I get excited to see a new post from!  Definitely a person worth following...

One of my FB friends shared this and I just had to pass it on.  Art becomes performance!  The pleasure of  moving color.  You gotta see this!  Thanks Angela!

This video of a squirrel protecting the body of his dead companion from ravaging crows plays like a Shakespearean  drama!  Geez, I want a friend like that!  I want to be a friend like that!

When I saw this post, I absolutely laughed with delight!  You have to see what Diane has done in the area where she drinks coffee each morning!  I do believe this may the most wonderful adult adaptation of childhood imaginary friends I've ever seen!  My creative mind is spinning...

Jennifer is a professional photographer and textile artist.  Check out this photo that was taken when she spent time volunteering at her children's school teaching children about photography. She set the camera but the children composed the shots and pressed click!  If there was one picture to sum up my entire philosophy of art and loving and learning, I think this might be it.  Her photography site is  which has the link to her blog.  

So those are my shares for the week!  Feel free to grab the button on the right bar if you've been mentioned.  Do you have any shares?


Friday, February 18, 2011

Healing Art Challenge: Your Dream Window

A few weeks ago I was in a waiting room flipping through magazines and came across an ad for glass windows.  A photographer had taken shots of  a number of different environments to look through the window to see.  I started thinking about how landscapes have the power to move us and take us out of our everday worlds, to center us deeply.  For this week's Healing Art Challenge, you are to depict your dream window, what would it be?  Would you like to look out onto the beach, a peaceful countryside, magestic mountains, a busy citty?  If you could have one magical window in your house to assist you in your life, would you choose an image to conjur peaceful thoughts or dynamic, creative thoughts?

As with all of our Healing Art Challenges, any art form is accepted:  music, photography, dance, visual art, poetry.  You may also include more than one piece if you desire! Send your submissions to no later than Thursday 12 pm CST time  on February 24.  The gallery will be posted later that day.  If you have a website with your work, please include that so I may include the link.

Happy dreaming!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Love Can

I strongly believe that love is the answer and that it can mend even the deepest unseen wounds. Love can heal, love can console, love can strengthen, and, yes, love can make change.
~ Somaly Mam

Somaly Mam is a human rights advocate, focusing primarily on fighting human trafficking and sex slavery, who was awarded the distinction of being Glamour magazine's Woman of the Year in 2006 and made the Time magazines list of 100 most influential people in 2009.  As a young child in Cambodia in the mid 1970's, her parents left her to be an orphan in a village from which she was later taken into being an indentured servant.  She was abused by the man she told to call "grandfather" and was sold into a brothel at the age of 14.  She was forced to marry a man as well serve 5 to 6 men a day, being raped or tortured whe she refused.  After watching  her best friend be murdered, she eventually escaped.  She later founded her own organization to rescue and rehabilitate women and children from such situations.

I am always interested in stories of human resiliency and courage under the most difficult of situations.  A friend made me aware of Somaly and passing on her book to me.  After reading  just the basics of her biography I am struck.. she was born the same time as me.  I could have been this girl.  A different place, the same time.  Her words also pull me in to her story.  How does one take the abuse, the mistreatment, the disgust in their lives and not only not allow it to turn them angry and embittered and hurtful to other people, but to actually transform it into a compassion for those around them? 

Teach me.  I want to know.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blowing Out the Dust Within

Rushing wind blow through this temple,
Blowing out the the dust within;
Come and breathe your breath upon me:
I've been born again.
Holy Spirit, I surrender; take me where you want to go.
Plant me by your living water,
Plant me deep so I can grow.
~ Keith Greene, from his song "Rushing Wind"

It has been a painful several months of discernment for me, as I ponder my gifts and skills and where they meet the world.  And as a friend reminded me this week, growth, unfortunately, usually involves a certain degree of aching discomfort. Feeling my spirit going down this afternoon, I caught up with my old, old friend Charles and we set out for a casual afternoon at the White Rock Coffee Shop. 

Charles is one of those people who always creates an accepting, comforting  quiet space for me.  Today he grabbed some art supplies on his way out the door, and after buying me a cup of coffee AND raspberry cheesecake (such kindness!), we sat found a cozy spot.  Over casual conversation, we played with his watersoluble ink pencils.  Not really in a mental space to challenge myself artistically, I settled on a dragonfly.. thinking about a very supportive friend for whom dragonflies are sacred symbols.  I, of course, am drawn to insects for their transformative qualities.

So we played... with no high expectations of ourselves, no deep thoughts.  What a compassionate and comforting gift to ourselves to just let go and let the color flow!  A lady nearby noticed us and struck up a conversation about a sketchbook she spontaneously bought awhile ago.  Perhaps she was inspired to play in it herself.  And as we walked out, with the sun beginning to set, the freshness of the air on my flipflopped feet, (yes just a week ago it was that terrible ice storm in Dallas), we both turned to each other and remarked how balanced and clear we felt after our lovely few hours.  How wonderful when art can be not only a medium for provoking deep thoughts, but also for calming our souls!

More from the song listed above:

Separate me from this world, Lord:
Sanctify my life for you.
Daily change me to your image,
help me bear good fruit.
Every day you're drawing closer,
Trials come to test my faith.
But when all is said and done, lord,
You know it's been worth the wait.

Kaizen Wednesday: With this Food...

The Five Contemplations

This food is the gift of the whole universe;  the earth, the sky and much hard, loving work.

May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.

May we recognize and transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.

May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of living beings, preserve our planet, and reverse the process of global warming.

We accept this food so that we may nurture our sisterhood and brotherhood, strengthen our community, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Today we continue our yearlong Kaizen path with February's focus on mindful eating.  You may find other posts on mindful eating here and here.  This week, I encourage you to post these contemplations in your eating space, and take a brief moment to meditate on these values before eating.  For those who pray, integrate it into you prayer before meals. 

Our food is taken in gratitude for all those who have worked to provide it.. from the cook, to the shopper to those who work in our market and grocery systems, to those who transport our food items, to the farmers and to those who assist the farmers.  And to the source of our food.. our earth and it's Creator.  Pray that they are able to continue to do their work in harmony with their own lives and with others and that our food becomes a product of this.  May we not take for granted all the work that went into this food and for any consequences that may have come from it.  May we come to the table, with balanced hearts,  taking what we need, not just what we want. May consider the ethical treatment of every living thing when we eat.  And may we use this nourishment, to feed our souls to do good in this world.

May we see our eating as a cycle of gratitude in receiving and joy in giving.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Tutorial: Six Things You Can Learn about Boundaries from Clear Tape

You created this life by the people you let in and the people you shut out, by giving your time to the quests that matter and by letting hours trickle toward lesser goals, through the pursuits to which you give energy, by the pressures to which you gave heed.  Every decision you've ever made, step by step, brought you to this pass.  In short, your boundaries -- or your defenses -- created a corridor through which your life moved.
~ Anna Katherine, Where to Draw the Line

I seem to always be thinking about boundaries.  Perhaps it's having therapists in the family.  Perhaps it's being vigilant about my own healing and trying to assist others.  I get immensely frustrated with myself that, although I think about boundaries and study them, ask for advisement about boundaries, they continue to be a challenging thread through my life. Boundaries with my work.  Boundaries with what I am willing to give to other people.  Boundaries with the suggestions and criticism. Boundaries with time.  How to create appropriate boundaries.  How to work with people who don't have appropriate boundaries.  On and on and on.  Why do I continue to fail at this?

As a former preschool teacher, I have lots and lots of different ways to do "resist" art, which is basically using one material to resist paint.  I thought I would play around with  this technique while I explored the idea of boundaries.  I began by separating my paper into four quadrants, putting an image of myself in each.    I wrote the following text in each quadrant from left to right, top to bottom.

1.  I allow the world to define me and my choices.  My value is outside of myself.  I am unprotected and exposed.

2.  I build a fortress around myself to avoid pain.  I am in complete control of my environment and I am hidden.

3.  I have fixed barriers.  I can interact with the world and others but my boundaries are static.

4.  I build boundaries that are flexible.  They can change as I change and as my environment changes.  Dynamic!

I then used tape to build boundaries around my self image.  In the first quadrant, I used none.  In the second, I put many layers over  my self image.  In the third quadrant, I used only four pieces of tape to build a box around myself.  In the fourth quadrants, I put horizonal and vertical pieces of tape, some connected and some not, around my self image, but not completely closing myself in.  Now let me lead you through my discoveries.

Can you see the tape on the white paper?  It's fairly invisible.. except perhaps for that second quadrant.  Discovery OneBoundaries are invisible... except when we build a fortress of them around ourselves.

Now take a look at what happens when I begin to add  paint.  I used watered down acrylics but you can use watercolor or gouache.

I used yellow to symbolize me.. my identity, my life force, my energy. The blues and greens and yellows are experiences out in the world.

Discovery Two:  Without any boundaries a cannot tell where I begin and where my enviroment ends.

Discovery Three:  When I build up thick walls, my own light can't shine through, nor can the light from other people come in.  I am encapsulated.

Discovery Four:  Concrete, rigid  boundaries are comforting.  But still  i feel caught inside.

Discovery Five:  With dynamic boundaries, the world and I are in relationship with each other, we can affect each other good and bad.  I can change a boundary as situations change and as I change, to encourage more positive connection.

Here piece, when have removed all the tape....

Interesting.. in quadrant 2.. my brightness does not exist underneath.  And furthermore.. all that tape.. all those boundaries.ripped the paper when i was trying to take it off!  Discovery Six:  Extreme boundaries can limit ourselves and hurt those around us.

I'd love for someone else to play around with this and send me some pictures with their own discoveries!  Please let me know what you think?  Does this ring true with your experiences with setting boundaries?

Monday, February 14, 2011

All There Is

Eventually you will come to understand
that love heals everything,
and love is all there is.
~ Gary Zukav

Music Monday: Closer to Me

I've been thinking a lot about why most of our music has a love theme.  You can find music about finding love, fighting in love, making love, falling out of love, remembering love, rekindling love... really any aspect of love.   Perhaps love is such a primary focus of music, because it may be the most primal experience for us as human beings.  We feel the breaking open of joy.  We feel the lack of control of anger.  We feel the devastation of loss.  Loving someone, and being loved by someone makes us see the best and worst parts in ourselves and in other people.  This depth... this inexpressible depth, is may be more easily expressed through music than by our words to each other.

Moreover, we use music to put ourselves in the state of love.  I don't mean we use music to coerce ourselves to fall in love.  But rather, music has a healing power, to bring us to that place were we feel safe and accepted, in tune with the world and living in harmony.  That is the place that love brings us as well.

So today I share with you a piece of love music meaningful to me.  I am personally drawn to music that can capture the message of love's ability to bring freedom, rather than captivity.

This one is dedicated to all those I've loved...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

For Family

You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back.

~ William D. Tammeus

With Valentine's Day tomorrow, I set out to paint a few heart pieces.  I started with one big larger heart in the center and then began filling in.  At some point, I started feeling each of those hearts as myself and members of my nuclear family.  Probably haven't drawn or painted a picture of my family since I was a little girl drawing stick figures.  So there's a heart for my father, my mother, my sister and me.  And I began to sense the larger breathy heart blowing in as the ties that have bound us since my childhood.

I have been so blessed to be born in the family I am in.  I'm surrounded by wonderfully human people, so supportive, very wise, unconditionally loving, and my biggest cheerleaders.  I cannot express gratitude enough for how these three people, each in their own way,  have been the ones to remind me who I am and have helped pick me up when the world has pushed me down.  And as I age, I have enjoyed seeing how our parent/child and sisterly relationships have evolved. 

So this one is for you, Family!  Thank you for teaching me, in a world that leans towards criticism more than validation, how important is the goodness of attentiveness!

♥ ♥ ♥

Sunday Sketch: Just a Spoonful

A pinch of joy
A dash of tenderness
A spoonful of affection
A heap of love

I received these lovely little heart shaped metal measuring spoons as a gift for participating in an art walk on Friday.  This was the first time I'd ever received a gift for participation in an event and it was so meaningful. (And needed, I always seem to be losing measuring spoons!)  And when I opened them up and saw the lovely saying on each handle I was overjoyed!  

I've been thinking a lot about little doses of goodness lately.  As a society, we are spending less and less time in direct contact with other people, with more time online. The platform  for speaking critically and expressing disdain about products, services, or issues has become more accesible which coincides with our value of free thinking and expression.  The downside of this is that it seems to be more difficult for people to develop impulse control with words.  The motto is "If I feel it, then I have a right to say it!" without any regard for how that could make other people feel.  And yes, behind every product, service, and organization, is a person somewhere.  We've forgotten that too.

But rather than running from the negative of the cyberworld in this area, let's turn this accessiblity into a positive!  Now, more than ever before, it is easy to deliver a "spoonful of sugar" to someone.  A mobile picture, a quick email, a complimentary tweet... they seem so small.. but to the recipient it may just be what is needed to turn a day from crummy to hopeful.  And for those of us in bloggerland, comments are food for our souls.  They really are the only way we have of knowing whether the images and words we put out into the world are valued.

If you enjoyed this sketch, please check out other Sunday Sketchers by visiting Sophia at The Blue Chair Diary.  Talk about a lovely group of people.  I always look forward to connecting with this group each week.

And... if you liked those little measuring spoons.. I happend to find the same ones on Amazon.  If you purchase through the link, a portion of the cost goes back to Sacred Arts Studio and the Friends in Healing community!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Share: Blowing the Love in the Air Around

It's Happy Heart Week out in bloggy land!  Lots of red and pink and swirls and lovely deliciousness to go around!  Hope you enjoy these special treats I found this week!  Don't forget to post your finds this week and please take the Saturday Button available in the right sidebar if you have been featured either in this post or in the comments!

I started my week out with this lovely, easy, and inexpensive recipe and it warmed me up!  Jennefer is a supermom whose blog documents her journey as a homeschooling mom of 3 very special boys.

I found this delightful painting by Barbara Sailor and was so overjoyed by it's delicacy, depth, and slightly abstract quality.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  (Hint, hint dear husband... I'd take a painting like this any day over live roses!)

Lori Vliegen is one of the sweeetest blogging artists I've come across.  I love her simple little pieces that seem to tell me exactly what I need to hear on a given day.  You are painting these just for me, aren't you Lori?

A former preschool teacher and elementary art teacher, I've had my share of playing with construction paper... lots and lots of construction paper.  I honestly didn't think I could ever be inspired to pick the stuff up again.  Leave it to Alisa rekindle the curiosity!  With her philosophy of embracing simple art materials, Alisa is an artist to the core.  Thank you for all you do Alisa, for making art accessible to us all.

I stumbled across this little gem and  I don't really know the artist or whom they intended it for.  But I just love it!  Someone put a lot of work into expressing a moment.. and I love it's absolute simplicity!


Healing Art Gallery: Loneliness

Peer into any soul and you will find...

~  Kay

... the hollow left from loneliness.

~ Cori Berg

Imprisoned by our feelings, our steps are tedious.

~ HiddenChild

The loss of a passion...

Futile Fantasy

Two little words that mean less than I,
The lack of feeling in your eyes makes my heart need to fly.

The deepest of yearning, the sorrow with which you speak,
Stalks the demons in my head during my ever darkest streak.
Following my deepest thoughts down into an eternal black hole,
I wish forever to be away from that which takes it's toll.
Ignorance and pain, they can both live hand in hand,
Together, yet so far apart thrust in this foreign land
So far from a homely voice, an ever loving touch,

The coldness of my soul sighs to the shatters of which I clutch.
Emotions so intense they crush my mind under such weight,
A despair so hungry for my soul, egregious an attempt to satiate.

Darkness becomes the sacrosanct,
I breathe through it with such consequence,
Few know the true road of the unknown and unfair,
Yet so many walk along the same train tracks in mid-air.
Souls from lives past lay frozen beneath a rocky path of life,
Sucked into an oblivion through the lonesome blackness in their strife,
Yet others walk away unscathed, unaffected by the trials of which they fight!

If only we were all spared such torment from this land,
The chance to all walk towards the future, forever hand in hand,
But such dreamy tales of fanciful thoughts amount to nothing in this world
For as I know inside such minds, a cruel lifeless void can unfurl.

~ Rose

The loss of a companion...

~ Cori Berg

Your perspective may block you from seeing
those who are with you on the journey.

~ Heather

A single difference can isolate us from that which we share.

~ Jodi Crane

But if you listen closely to the silence of your solitude,
you may discover new sounds.

~ Patricia Rodriguez

You may feel small and alone in the big woods of life...

~ Jodi Crane

But you are still growing.

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