Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Instead of asking, "Which mask shall I wear?"
consider which mask you might remove...

Monday, October 30, 2017

Beauty, or duty?

What is it that you see here?
The glorious result of summer's labors?
Or a to-do list that's getting out of hand?
Beauty? or Duty? Which is it that you choose?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A living invitation

Now is your time to shine, to glow;
to serve as a living invitation 
to a deeper, fuller life.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The stillness that fuels our souls

By taking time to rest on a still golden morning,
we're reminded of who we are,
and where we feel most centered. 
The stillness fuels our souls for the day ahead.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Responding to the longings of the heart

No problem can be solved 
from the same level of consciousness that created it. 
Albert Einstein

Knowing that I'm coming up on a period of time in which I'll be too busy to paint, I've spent the past week working hard to spend time in my studio, playing with paints and canvas.  I'd been away from it for a while, so I was working up to it gradually, walking through some simple exercises, trying to get out of my head and back into the groove, hoping to replicate -- or at least emulate -- some of my recent successes.

But nothing was working. Everything seemed forced, labored, and ultimately unappealing. The colors were wrong, the shapes were wrong -- nothing was going right, so I was feeling pretty discouraged. 

So, when yet another avalanche of catalogs appeared in our mailbox, I found myself thumbing through them, looking for inspiration, and I found myself drawn to an odd little glass platter. So drawn that I decided to try using its design as inspiration for a painting. What you see here is the result.

I know -- completely different from anything I've done before, right? But OH so much fun to create -- plus I got to invent a new tool, and try out another new tool, and explore some new techniques... it was altogether a very satisfying experience.

Will I try something like this again? You bet! Will it be as successful, without a specific instance to guide my design choices? Who knows; only time will tell. My painting has been through several phases since I began (almost 5 years ago now; how time flies!) and some of them have only lasted for a couple of iterations. But my theory is that each phase and style will somehow feed the overall process. 

Perhaps someday they'll all come together someday into something totally original -- and perhaps not. The truth is, it really doesn't matter. I started this path because it looked like fun, because I was really drawn to color. It still is, and I still am, and -- when it really comes down to it -- that's ultimately what matters. 

As the only child of a narcissistic mother, I'm an inveterate people-pleaser, no matter how hard I've fought to be independent from that trait over the years. Painting has become my opportunity to wrestle that into submission, and it's been an amazing gift. Whenever I've slipped into trying to replicate something I know people like, it's been an abysmal failure. It's only when I paint what feels good to me that I succeed. (Note that I'm at least self-aware enough to define success as "I really like this one" instead of "That sold! Yay!")

So the other quote that occurs to me this morning, as I sigh in happy contemplation of this painting, is one often attributed to Einstein, though its actual origin is apparently unknown. That's the one that goes "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." I'm not exactly sure how it applies here, since I was doing what I THOUGHT was the same thing, but NOT getting the same results. But perhaps the quote really resonates at a deeper level than that. The "same thing" I was doing was the people-pleasing, and the different result I was hoping for was satisfaction, a feeling of joy and accomplishment. 

Which, I think, is the lesson here. However much we crave the approval of others, true joy ultimately comes -- at least for me -- from exploring a creative response to the longings of the heart. 


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Life's colorful embrace

You can choose what you see:
a glorious burst of color or the dark that lies in wait.
What is it that your heart and eyes 
are drawn to contemplate?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Changing Perspectives

What we see depends so much
on where it is we're standing.
If you were to change positions,
to try and see as others see,
what would you take with you?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Setting the table

When we are living in darkness,
Meditation and prayer 
Are a way of setting the table
To welcome the light when it comes.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Written in the skies

We strive for calm, 
that we may more accurately reflect
the source from which we came, 
to which we will one day return...

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Put off your armor

Take off your mask. Remove your armor.
The world will never benefit from your unique perspective
if you refuse to share your true thoughts; your true self.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Simply being

When stress and daily living take their toll,
return, return to the beauty of the wilderness,
and be reminded of the grace that can be found 
in simply being.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Following the path already laid

I'm grateful today for all who went before us
and in their travails laid a path 
that we might find our way to goodness and light.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Floating in the balance

What buoys us up may also tie us down.
Sometimes we get to choose which it will be,
and sometimes we just have cope with what is...

I'm thinking of this this morning for ... well, several reasons. Yesterday our daughter started a new job, one we're excited about (as is she) and it's in a place we love, where she grew up, and it means a lot to me that she's returned to her roots. But it also means she's now tied down, to a job, to a regular commute -- by ferry or boat, and across occasionally rough waters. She's bought a cabin, too, and the exhilaration of that is also tempered by the financial constraints of that decision, and by the loss of the freedom she once had -- and used -- to travel to new places every few months. She's moved from exploration to maintenance, always a challenging shift.

Also yesterday, my husband, who's been a part time school bus driver for a while, a job he's been really enjoying, messed up his back helping a child on the special needs bus.  He's hurt his back before, but this time seems much worse: he's in a lot of pain, and won't be able to drive the bus again until he gets this resolved.

And I -- well, as I've mentioned before, I've taken on responsibility for a small community podcasting organization. And though I'm enjoying the work, it's very time consuming, and leaves me little or no time to paint.  Or to travel, something I've not been able to do for a while now...

But these challenges are not unique: I'm thinking of all the joy there is in a wedding, and how hard it can be to adjust to the limitations of marriage. Or the joy in the birth of a child, and how challenging it can be to adjust to the role of parenting.

It seems to me that our greatest joys in life are always also capable of bringing us our greatest sorrows, and that, therefore, by closing ourselves off to one we risk closing ourselves off to the other.  So what is the greatest risk? To risk the pain of limitation and loss? Or, in seeking to avoid limitation and loss, to risk never knowing those magical moments of joy? 

I suspect  our job is to find a way to float gently in the balance between the two, and to trust that there will always be a mix...

BREAKING NEWS: MY HUSBAND's BACK IS SUDDENLY BETTER!!! Thank you for your prayers; feels like a miracle! So he'll be driving the school bus again this afternoon. Amazing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Each has a gift to bring

Looking out, over a sea of faces,
can we remember that each is unique,
and each has a unique and creative gift
to bring into the world?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

When sparks fly

We may think that we prefer to live among our own kind,
surrounded by others who think like ourselves.
At what point do we realize how dull that life can be?
It's when opposites connect that the sparks begin to fly!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Beauty and potential

Whether you're watching from the shore
or steaming off to new adventures,
take a minute to celebrate the beauty and potential 
of the day and the week that lie before you.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Restful preparedness

We who know we may be called to act
will be more effective if we make that choice
from a place of restful preparedness.
Enjoy and celebrate the calm of today
while remaining equipped for whatever tomorrow may bring.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Cultivating resilience

Cultivating resilience is about finding a balance
between labor and rest; 
between acceptance of what was and is,
and hope for what will be.

As always, the above is a distillation of whatever's dominating my thought processes at the moment. And I was definitely drawn to this image -- originally entitled "On the edge of the oasis." But I find myself wanting to say more -- so (because I can) I will. 

I'm reading two books in the morning these days: a sort of day-by-day guide of excerpts from Julia Cameron of The Artist's Way, and Krista Tippett's Becoming Wise. So my thinking began with a remark from Julia about creativity and perfection, noting that none of God's creations seem to be perfect, and yet creation continues.

Because I struggle with perfectionism, this resonated with me, and I found myself thinking I would post a photo of a particularly gnarly tree, to illustrate the appeal of imperfection. But then I found Krista Tippett talking about some of Brene' Brown's work -- which is also about perfectionism, and the shame we feel around imperfection -- but it was in the context of resilience.

The little podcasting organization I manage has just done two podcasts about resilience -- one for raising resilient kids, and one for building resilient communities -- so the word struck a chord. And I found myself thinking about the differences between my generation and my millennial children's generation. 

The me generation is a bit notorious, of course, for its emphasis on competition, perfectionism, being the best -- clearly our current president is a proponent of "the one who dies with the most toys wins." But our millennial children do not seem to be buying into that (although I am of course generalizing from a relatively small sample.) I think they figured out early on that collaboration and cooperation were more important than winning; that thriving is not necessarily about acquisition; that happiness and community may be more important than money and success. Enough, they seem to think, is pretty much enough.

And to me, it seems like those choices will help make them more resilient. So then I find myself thinking that (and I'm always looking for some redemptive value here) perhaps our president is modeling the end result of those old ways of thinking; that we as a society may learn some important lessons from watching what happens to "the man who has everything," and reading the studies that tell us that those who whip out their automatic weapons and randomly slaughter innocent children and bystanders are almost always those who did not get to play as children, who were not blessed with happiness and community -- in the same way our president does not seem to have been blessed.

So if we continue to ask -- what can we do to offset all the hate we see around us -- perhaps the best answer is to work at building community; to work at inclusion; to work at reaching out to those around us -- however different they may seem -- and to somehow convey that by finding ways to work together we can not only survive, but thrive.

I know. Old thoughts. People have been talking about this for centuries --aren't these the root beliefs of communism and Christianity? -- and still there are wars, and famine, and cruelty in the world. But I'm thinking now is the time to not give up: now we are called to work harder at this, to work harder at love, at listening, at compassion, at collaboration, at caring. Now is the time to reach out, to seek out common ground; not to vilify, or close off, or reject or condemn but to ache for those who are lost and to model, not just tolerance, but love.

But no one said it would be easy.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Sobering questions

My Facebook readership is down -- way down -- and I suspect I understand why. I spend a lot less time there myself these days, and cringe when I'm tempted to open the posts in my news feed; so much of what I see is full of hate.

But I made the mistake of reading my email this morning before I meditated, and one note informed me that our president is meeting with several hate groups in Washington. It pretty much derailed my meditation -- I mean, there were so many different reactions; so much fear. Are we, as a friend tells me, in danger of becoming another Nazi Germany?

And anger: why is it that the mass murders we hear about always seem to kill the innocent -- the children, the music lovers, the dancers, the peaceful demonstrators? Why, for once, couldn't they kill the hate-mongers?

And shame, for thinking that, even for an instant.

And then, wonder: what could I conceivably do to offset all that hate? I've been intensely aware lately, of how generous the universe has been with me. What would I be willing to give up, if it would guarantee the Nazis could never come into power in this country? What would I be willing to set aside, if I thought it would honestly make a difference? And what will I do today to bring more compassion and more love into the world?

Sobering questions. But I think we all need to be asking them. And stepping up to the answers.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Never alone

Wherever we're going,
Whatever we're feeling,
We're never truly alone.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Beacons of hope

In a tangled world, 
and under a steadily darkening sky,
we are charged to be beacons of hope,
standing in trust that all will be well,
and all manner of things shall be well.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Even as they die, the plants in my garden
seem to glow with anticipation
of the new life to come.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Out of touch

Whenever I've been out of the studio for a while, it takes some concentrated time before I can paint a successful abstract (successful to me, anyway).

So, knowing studio time would be at a premium for the next few months, I bought a pack of small canvases -- 9x12's and 16x20's -- to give myself the opportunity to keep my hand in. 

The smaller canvases limit me physically -- it turns out my work is much freer with the larger brushes and broader physicality of larger canvases -- but they do let me play a bit with color and brushwork, which is a good thing. It's amazing how easy it is to lose a feel for this stuff, and how difficult it is to stay in the zone when you've only got little windows of time here and there.

But what always amuses me is that when I'm away from the work for long I seem to revert to more representational work. I suspect it's because I'm so caught up in the dailiness of life that it's difficult to open up to the wider spaces beyond my imagination. But even when I start with the same gestures I would begin with when painting an abstract, somehow the times when I'm returning to the studio after an absence of a week or more seem to end up producing something that "looks like something."

I don't mind the semi-representational ones exactly -- and I know some of my friends prefer them. But for me they feel forced, like they're just me, limited by what I alone am capable of; they serve as gentle reminders that I'm not in touch with that greater creativity, that source that fuels my work when I am most centered and makes it better than I ever could.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Challenge of transitions

It seems inevitable, as we move toward progress,
that something old will pass away as something new is being born.
So it shouldn't be surprising that during the transitions,
while some part of us rejoices, other parts will need to mourn.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Find nourishment in the light

For all who live in the shadows 
of fear, heartache, depression, and pain,
that they may find nourishment in the light.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The darkness deep within

There is a darkness, deep within,
that will flare up with certain provocations
entangling and poisoning and blocking out the light.
Stand back, observe, and try not to engage.
Acknowledge, but do not act upon its power,
and trust that, with the dawn, it will subside.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A plea for compassion

How can we not, on seeing others
drowning in their troubles,
toss out the lifeline of our heart's compassion?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Still time for more adventures

Don't pack it in yet --
there's still time for more adventures.
Who knows what awaits you?
It's not over til it's over...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

There's kinship in our differences

Here's what I've learned: It is our particularity 
-- those things that set us apart from the crowd --
which makes us the unique individuals we are.
And yet -- when we confess, embody and express,
articulate and share those very things that make us different --
that is when the world discovers its kinship with us.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Order in chaos

Seeking to create order in the face of chaos;
how else can we cope with what we cannot bear to know?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A better world awaits

We're just going to have to trust
that beyond this dark and tangled mass
there's a paradise of light and color,
with waves of hope to re-energize our souls.