An Artist's Quest for "Soul" in a Chaotic World—by InnerSpirit

This is my InnerSpirit blog page...a page of reflection...inquiry...
and artistic questions about myself, my life, and the world around me. A place for my own personal contemplation of my emotions, my actions, my art, my spiritual journey and how they all intertwine and influence each other. I hope that you check it out, think a little about your life and the many creative things that you might be engaged do those fit into your life and impact the various aspects of your own life? Let's reflect together!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Season Is Unfolding And My Gifts Are Naked

It's the night before Christmas Eve and not a creature is stirring...not even a mouse...though I hope I don't have mice! My dog Cocoa is crashed soundly in his bed after suffering through a much needed bath, a combing and then his "special" treat for putting up with all that whole ordeal. My daughter, who just arrived home from driving in from her apartment in Chicago, rushed in, gave me a quick kiss and hug, changed her clothes and zoomed out the door to meet friends who were also home visiting their families for the holidays. Such is the empty nest life I guess. So here I sit...alone with my dog and cat, listening to Christmas carols and wrapping a few gifts. 

I started out fully engaged in this gift wrapping extravaganza until I decided that I needed some photos for this blog, being a "past life" graphic designer, I know these things are way more enticing if there are some photos to draw visual interest of the reader. That's when I got diverted!...and MUCH more interested in playing with my iphone camera — using some of the cool photo apps that I don't always get to play with as much as I would like to. Off I went, the artist in me at play...the next thing I knew an hour had gone by and no gifts were wrapped! I did get these photos from Hipstamatic that I liked the gritty edge filter and the film that I was playing with though. As you can see, I have candles burning to go with my Christmas music wrapping mode.

As I am contemplating the stack of naked gifts yet to be wrapped, I am reminded of the "upscale" client of my mother's that allowed me to spend 3 days at her house wrapping Christmas presents one year in high school for a pretty good income! Her whole living room was stacked high with extravagant gifts and I got paid well to wrap them and make them look gorgeous. They made my little grouping of gifts for my daughter and other family members dwarf in comparison to volume and expense. But, Christmas is not about the commercialism that our economy tries to dazzle us's about love, grace, and a miracle! 

As far as miracles go...I am hoping one comes my way and helps me get these gifts wrapped! I could use some help myself right about now. If you are crashing and burning yourself trying to get last minute shopping done and all the gifts wrapped in time, consider "downsizing Christmas"  and focusing on the love and intention behind each gift and not on the volume of the gifts. Take a minute to reflect on the true meaning of this season and don't let the "advertising group" convince you that you have to buy, buy, buy. Simplify your holiday season and lower your stress. Take it from an artist who was an art director for 25 years, it is all about creating "want" in the consumer, no matter how unneeded the item is! 

Have a safe, happy and blessed Christmas! If you do take time to ponder the real meaning of this holiday season or you decide to actually "downsize" it this year...I would be interested in hearing what your thoughts and/or actions were with this. I really am curious.

Blessings and Love,

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Relaxing, Mindless Doodling: Day 27

Just Going With The Flow
Trying to get a little bit of Art Every Day Month done in between homework. This is my last full weekend that I have available for homework, otherwise it is just evenings this week after work and everything is due December 4th at noon, so I am just doodling a bit to possibly get some backgrounds that I can use later for some additional art pieces. (Click on any image to see a larger view)

This is what I got today, which is more than I had before I started, so yeh! Art Every Day Month is still allowing me to create more art than when I wasn't doing it, even with my homework demands. I know a lot of us are probably tired with all the holiday things going on right now, but it amazing what some of the the other artists are still creating. Click on the Art Every Day Month link above to see what they are doing. It seems that everyone is having a great time with this months fun and a lot of GREAT artwork is being produced!

Blessings and Much Love,

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Day: Day 25

Giving thanks... for my family and my cute little dog buddy, Cocoa! I did not have time this day to do anything too creative, but I did take a picture of my daughter and my dog cocoa. He was very tired after a long day of seeing all his human relatives and his "brother" from another litter that my mom adopted from the same breeder. I couldn't resist capturing this photo since Cocoa was looking so cute as he was trying to sleep in my daughters arms. I have a photo that includes my daughters face along with Cocoa, which I did not think was bad, but my daughter made a "face" when I showed it to her on my phone after shooting it and I know if she ever knew that I posted it anywhere on the internet she would "hate me", so I am being respectful...thus why she is cut off.
This is my contribution to Art Every Day Month, a cute dog photo, and my resting and enjoying family. This will enhance my creativity the rest of the week by taking some down time. Did everyone else have a great holiday? What did you do that was restful? 

See you soon, Much Love and Blessings,


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Standing Resolute And Waiting: Day 24

Breathing Deep And Holding My Ground
I started this art piece from another background that I created in Fluid Painter, working much like I did when I created the blob art on Day 22. The original image can be seen on my blog post from Day 8 (the second image in the post) if anyone is interested. I played with several layer effects on top of each other until finally this image seemed to speak to me and I knew it was complete. I will tell you what I saw in this in a moment. (Click on the image to see a larger more detailed view).

I know everyone sees different things in abstract work, which is probably why I have become so intrigued by it the last few years. I used to only do high realism when I created art. That was what I was taught in art school, and that was what I thought the majority of society thought good art was. Sure, there were abstract works in museums, rich collectors who bought them at high prices, and we studied all the great abstract artists in my art history courses in college, but somehow I still walked away from my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree feeling like good art was very representational and needed to look like the subject you were seeing, either directly before you, or in your minds eye. Most of my immediate family, friends, and other artists I knew at the time also seemed to validate that belief for me. It wasn't until a few years ago when I just started playing with art and trying to have fun all over again that I discovered how wonderful and freeing abstract work can be for the soul.

Moving The Soul To Connect With My True Self
I guess the connection that abstract work made with my soul is what got me hooked. I was not about selling my art at the time as much as about freeing my soul to run and play and feel safe to explore. That is what I found when I let myself go with this new way of creating. I still like to do a realistic drawing now and then just to keep my hand in and to hone my drawing skills, but that is for another purpose entirely. It still feeds my soul, but it feeds the part of it that dwells in regiment, control, safety and wanting to understanding another thing well enough be able to draw it meticulously. This is something that my artist soul also needs at times, but the FREEDOM to PLAY is what lights up my InnerSpirit and connects me with my spiritual realm.

In this image I saw a bold, solid megalith of a man or woman (reminding me of the androgynous megaliths that stand on Easter Island) forming itself out of the rolling waves at the right and becoming larger than life against the blue, vast, swirling sky. It stands resolutely and almost defiantly against the bold landscape with a large mushroom behind him/her on their left. The mushroom was a curious image for me to see and I saw it very distinctly, so I wondered if it had any significance for me. I did a little research into some of the symbolic meanings that have been attributed to mushrooms just for fun. 

In the Chinese culture, Shitake mushrooms have long been a symbol of longevity. I don't know if this mushroom is Shitake, but longevity would blend with the resolute and strong image of the megalith. (This photo was taken by Yamanaka Tamaki) When I searched for other mushroom symbolism, most of the resources for interpreting your dream symbols suggest that mushrooms signify unhealthy pleasures and unwise decisions in your waking life. The dream resources suggest that a mushroom shows up to warn you that things that come too quickly have a tendency to disappear just as quick and that you should learn to appreciate the things you have. Hmm...something to ponder here. 

I am not sure what it all means yet. I usually like to sit with some images for a few days and let them roll around in my mind and heart until the message comes through clearly. Just on the fly, I feel it has something definitely to do with being dedicated and standing by what I believe my case I feel that it might be telling me that I am stronger than I sometimes feel and that I can weather the storms, after all, the statues still stand on Easter Island and the megaliths at Stonehedge have stood the test of time and elements quite well (I have even seen these first hand, which if you ever travel there you must go...they are awesome). This message appears to be more of the message that I got from my conversation with my blind contour drawing on my Day 22 blog post. Hmm...someone is trying to tell me something and they are afraid that I might not be listening so the message appears to be getting louder and stronger. Maybe I better start paying attention or I am going to be having lots of megaliths in my art!

I better get back to my homework and stand resolute to get the last of it done so that I will have one more semester out of the way! Next semester I finish my final thesis/research course and all my actual classes will be done in April. I will then just be an internship away from completion of my Master of Arts in Art Therapy. That will be a celebration for sure! Maybe I will even travel to see a Megalith again just to say thank you in person!  

Do you have symbols that have been coming up for you lately in your artwork. Have you ever taken the time to think about what their meaning might be to you? Do you believe that art can speak metaphorically to you? Please share some of your symbolism and experiences you have had with this with me. I would love to hear about it. 

Blessings and Much Love,


Monday, November 22, 2010

Playing With Blobs: Day 22

Still Playing With Photoshop
I got out my Wacom Tablet today to do a little playing since I have not used it in quite sometime. I started out with one of the drawings that I posted at the beginning of the month that I did in Fluid Painter and used that as the original background. Then I started playing with drawing various brush strokes, but I quickly decided that I did not like what was happening and switched gears. I ran the poster edges filter over the background and I got a cool effect that I liked and then I started just playing around with hues, saturation and layer effects until I got something that spoke to me today. I added some simple shapes and found a pleasing composition that was kind of fun! (click on the image to view a larger version)

I hope everyone will forgive me for not writing a lot today, I have been up since 4:00 a.m. to finish a 20 page research paper before starting work, on adolescent suicide and the art therapy interventions that can be used to help them with depression and other feelings and behaviors that increase the likelihood of suicide. My brain is now mush, but I wanted to do a little art and to at least post. More "verbage" tomorrow I hope when my brain gels back together and I can think again.  

I hope everyone is still having fun with Art Every Day Month! 

Blessings and Much Love,


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Feeling A Little Rough: Day 20

Revising A Blind Contour I Posted Last Year During AEDM. 
I am feeling a little "rough around the edges this morning". I slept in a bit, but I am still not feeling quite right. I started drinking my morning java in hopes of feeling a little more up "to par"...but it has not really helped. My head feels foggy and I am still quite groggy. I started thinking about this self portrait that I did last year and I thought I wanted to reacquaint myself with it. It seemed to be calling to me. Do you ever have art pieces that speak to you? I try to be sensitive to that with my art therapy work and I have come to believe that sometimes when you create something it has one message for you at the time and it can later come up in your consciousness that it is wanting to tell you more about yourself...this is what is going on with this piece today. (I have included both images here, the original one that I posted last year is the first one shown and the second one is the adjustments that I did this morning while I had my conversation with the piece)

Upon opening the piece...I was struck by the fact that it really does capture how I am feeling today, but my hair is much longer I probably look a bit different. If you take that away and just focus on the face and the haggard feelings that are represented captures my morning very accurately. I feel drawn, tired, and like I just want to go back to bed, cuddle under the covers and watch movies all day. Those days have long gone by the wayside when I had lots of time on the weekends to just hang out with my daughter, who was young then and just have a "movie day". Sometimes I long for those days, but the committments of school have temporarily consummed most of my weekend times. Of course, my daughter is also not small and she is away on her own now going to college in Chicago. I am looking forward to her being here for the holiday season and maybe we can watch a couple of movies together like we used to. We have a holiday tradition of hot cocoa, cinnamon rolls, and watching a few favorites like Christmas Vacation and A Charlie Brown's Christmas among others. 

I ask the drawing what else it wished to share with me other than making me painfully aware of the fact that I am tired...weary...and wanting to just be done with school. She stares back at me and boldly says "You have a resolve to complete what you started, you fear not finishing, you fear failure, yet you always resolve to move forward and reach the other side". I reply to her, "You are not telling me anything that I don't already know. Why was it so important for you speak to me today? Why did you tap, tap, tap into my conscious thoughts today?" She took a minute to just stare at me...I looked deep into the images eyes...they stared blatantly back at me, almost challenging me.

After several minutes of silence had passed, her voice took on a very serious tone as she spoke, "You are allowing your weariness to take over, and it will spoil your celebration that is soon come. Rest...replenish...and know that this hill is only as high as you allow it to become. Don't allow the berating voices you carry with you from your childhood to win. You have courage, resolve and resources that will carry you through until the end. Search within, and remember that you are following the path that has been laid before you by God's hand and this truth has been revealed in many ways over the him, lean into strength from him...and keep stepping forward."

Well, I guess she told me.

My day begins, as I see this image in my head and I try and tune into the "innerspirt" of God's plan for me and I will try and remember the many ways that this art therapy path has been laid out before me. I forget sometimes the "signs" of something bigger than myself when I don't see them tangibly visible before me every day. So my image came to remind me today. Funny how that works. 

Do your images that you create ever talk to you? Have you ever tried to ask your artwork a question as simple as "Why were you created today" or "What do you want to share with me today"? Try it if you haven' might be surprised when the image speaks back to you. Let me know your experiences with this in the past, or if you try this after reading this post...I would love to hear about your experiences with this.

Blessings and Much Love,


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lilies Gone Wild: Day 18

Well, it is Day 18 and I am still playing with texture and abstract images. What fun it has been. I have really been surprised by some of the images that are happening while I am just playing around and letting my mind wander, trying this and that...not really having any sort of cognitive plan prior to just diving in and working very intuitively. I have noticed quite a few others this year are working on the "intuitive" level and having great results. One of them is the organizer of this great Art Every Day Month event, Leah Piken Kolidas. My thanks go out to her for continuing to host this event every year! I know that it must be hard work to get everything set up for signing up and signing in every day. She also manages to make it around to everyone at least a few times during the event to offer them kind words and encouragement since not everyone always feels what they are creating is worth posting. Myself included. Signing up is the easy part, then comes the "TERROR" that you are committing to create art and that you are going to maybe share that art with the world via the internet!

But you know what? I have come to know that the world will receive it as it was intended. I have come to believe that those who are intended to see, respond, and feel connected in some way with the art that is produced during this month WILL see it and it's purpose will be played out in their heart. This creative, sustaining energy will in turn come out in another creative creation of theirs whether that is art, music, dance, writing or just how they creatively respond to the world and to the relationships that they have in their lives. 
I fear no more! Well...I can't guarantee that a little fear won't creep back in, but for now I am trusting in the process.

Do you work intuitively when you are creating art? I am curious about how you have experienced working intuitively and if you have been pleasantly surprised by the results. How does working intuitively contrast to when you work in a more planned or structured way?

Blessings and Much Love,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sometime In The Wee Hours: Day 17

Crunch, Crunch, Crunch...the stress of the end of the semester has been upon me for the past week. I have skipped out of Art Every Day Month the last few days to focus on my huge case study review for my Clinical III class. It was an important "gateway" to the approval process for my internship to begin next fall. I did pass that, so the crunching paid off, but now I still have a few more assignments to get in by the end of the month. I took some time in the wee hours of the night/early morning today to play a little bit with this abstract piece just to clear my head after typing for several hours straight. I could not even think anymore, so I enjoyed some relaxing play time creating this and now I can refocus with a clear head. (Click on the image for a larger view)

I should be used to this time of year after being in grad school for close to 8 years now with this double major. It sure seemed like a good idea back when I started this art therapy masters degree 3 years ago. It is still a good idea, it has just been harder and LONGER than I originally envisioned it to be. I was originally told that I would only need 21 credits of a 45 credit Masters in Art Therapy because all of my psychology credits and both of my research courses would all transfer into this Master's program from my Master of Social Work degree. I naively thought...WOW...with 4 credits a semester that would be about two and a half years and I would be done. So I went for it. Well...working full-time, not all the classes being offered when I was able to take them and the art therapy credentialing board changing the requirements midstream for how many credits must be done within the actual art therapy program, put me a little behind the original plan. But, plans sometimes have to be flexible if you want to succeed I am learning. Slowly but surely, I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Holiday Is Around The Corner
. .. but it always takes me by surprise each year with how crazy it gets during this time. The semester before the holidays is always the worst, because just as everyone else it getting ready for relaxed time with family and friends, I am still usually functioning on little sleep and void of any social interactions other than work. Everyone is asking me, what are you doing for Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving I think...I can't think that far out...though it is really only next week. For me I am only able to focus on one day at time and doing what I can to get all my assignments in, then I come up for air and wonder..."Yes, what AM I doing for the holiday?" It is about that same time that I am also craving a few glasses of holiday cheer to celebrate another semesters end.

Save a bottle of "cheer" for me PLEASE I say to friends and family...or maybe two this year! A nice "oaky, robust" Merlot sounds good about now or a nice "buttery and oaky", Chardonnay. What's your holiday drink of choice? It doesn't have to be alcoholic, just yummy and festive. I also LOVE to try nice new flavors of hot cocoa and coffee this time of the year.

Blessings and much love,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Abstract Patchwork Collage: Day 11

Day 11 Is Posted A Little Late...It's Really Day 12 EARLY. 
What can you do? I did not even think that I WOULD post today, I worked on this art a bit on Day 10 and Day 11 of Art Every Day Month in between writing for my homework assignments. I found that breaking in this artistic way really helped to relax me and let me concentrate on the moment at hand and not get too caught up in the stress of the semester. This is about the closest you will ever see me get to making a quilt. I am not a seamstress and fabric and I do not "play friendly". This collage speaks to me of the many types of experiences we each have in our lives that transverse many layers, environments, and transparencies of emotion to create who each of us are within our own world view. Please click on the image for a larger and more detailed view of the piece.

Much love and blessings,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Eerie Textural Landscape: Day 9

More Play, Less To Say! Sorry no time for blogging...more homework this week is a crunch for the end of the semester. Another work in progress...I like starting these images...don't know if I will finish them this month or later. Going with the flow!

Hope everyone is having fun with this art month!
Blessings and much love,

Monday, November 8, 2010

Relaxing Digital Watercolor Playing For Me: Day 8

 I did not have a chance to do anything on Day 7 for my art contribution, but I have to remember that I don't have to do something every day...I can cut myself some slack. 

Day 8 Fluid Play
For Day 8 of Art Every Day Month I am posting these fun textures that I created on Fluid Painter which is another online art creation program by the same guy that created the Flame Painter program that I created my initial texture from my post on Day 6. I did screen shots of these images to save them to my computer. Both of these programs offer me a place to just let my mind this case quite literally, as the colors flowed in together (kind of reminds me of a lava lamp-for those who had one or may still have one)...which is about all I can handle some days with my emotional drains from the work that I do during the day.

Some of you who are "quick on the uptake" might have noticed that I said that I am "posting" these fun textures I created...not really indicating that I actually DID them today. Truth be known, I actually created them the same day I did the Flame Painter backgrounds, but I don't have anything to show today, time has not worked in my I am cheating a bit. Do you hate me?

In my defense, I figure that it's okay since some days allow more time than others for creative play. I hope to incorporate these with some other textures much like I did with the ones that I played with from Flame Painter on my previous posts. I hope to get back at creating a bit after tonight which is a major homework push. Better stop trying to look more productive to my blog friends than I actually am, and brew some coffee. It is going to be a long, late night of art therapy homework. You will all cut me some slack won't you?

Do you ever worry about your artist "image" and how other people perceive your efforts or your art? Does that affect how you do your art and how you might market your efforts? I find these things interesting, but then again...psychology and sociology intrigue me, can you tell?

Blessings and much love,

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Texture Playfulness Is The Name Of The Game: Day 5 and 6

I am posting quick since I have to get focused on homework this evening. A big art therapy case review is underway for our Clinical III course, so the rest of the weekend is focused on that.

Day 5 Texture Play
This day found me just quickly playing with some texture strokes on the computer on one of my new found online sources Flame Painter since I did not have a lot of time. This was a quick half hour, and I got the image above happening. It kind of reminded me of fireworks and got me thinking of summer days...not the fall days that we are experiencing now, which are cold and grey. I did a screen shot of this...low res...but okay for using as a background texture, given that I plan on "gritting" it up a bit anyway so I am hoping the resolution will still do okay with all the texture overlays. I won't really know until I print something out...everything looks good on the 72 dpi screen resolution.

In the Morning of Day 6 
I found myself playing a bit with some other textures and filters over coffee before starting on homework and heading out to the gym. I created both images by adding the texture photo to the right and then playing with various filters, layer blending modes and opacity's, and layer masks in Photoshop. Again, just works in progress to move forward on maybe as the month unfolds. You can click on any image to see it larger for more details.

The bottom image definitely needs some things brought out of the added "crackled" texture but I am playing and I really like the effect, but I need to enhance some of the circles and bring them forward a bit so the texture isn't taking over so much...but it is a beginning.

Now on to art therapy...treatment planning: goals, interventions etc. for my homework. Later this weekend I hope to check out what some others are doing on Art Every Day Month.

Suggestions or comments would be welcomed!

Blessings and Love,


Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 4: Texture Must Be On My Mind

I'm still "playing", and it is feeling good. Just moving some textures and some scribbles around and playing with filters and miscellaneous effects in Photoshop. It is so refreshing to not have to have a plan of attack going into this. I usually do digital art with a little more intent (probably due to my 25 plus years as a graphic designer), but this is evolving organically, more like my abstract watercolors. 

I am finding out that I can just pull some things in, change hues, add textures and stretch and manipulate things any way I want and if the results seem to be going in a way that moves me... so what. No client to make a presentation to at the end of the day, though I am posting. 

So please don't be a critical "client" (constructive criticism is always welcome though), or worse...tell me to take certain pieces and parts from one or two other digital pieces and add them to this one. This is a work in progress, but I am really liking working with these textures the last few days. They feel gritty and inviting to me at the same time. I am drawn to them for some reason.

Do you use a lot of textures in your work? How do you achieve them? I want try some other kinds of textures so I am curious.

By the way, everyone is doing awesome job with Art Every Day Month!
Blessings and Love,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 3: Creativity In A Can...Two to Be Exact

It's been a long, tiring week. My brain is fried due to the emotional drain from patients and families and little to no sleep created by doing homework for my Clinical III. About the only creativity I could muster was today was combining these two cans from my cubboard for a "creative"evening dinner. This artist is living on the edge today, as always! 

Do you ever try and "switch up" from two or more existing items to create a unique solution? What types of premium "solutions " have you created and how did that work out?   

Blessings and love,

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 2: A Playful Immersion Into Texture Bliss

This "playing" is really fun! I chose to take one of my snowflakes from yesterday and do a little exploring with various filters and additional layers of various textures in Photoshop. 

I allocated just over an hour to these babies...since that was the time I had and I am just going with it. There are some fun things happening here, don't know where they will go. 

These might be backgrounds for some more elaborate digital art or some might stand alone...hmmmm...we shall see where the energy of creative play leads! Not a verbally saturated blog post, but I am letting the images speak for themselves...AND of course anyone that wants to comment can also add a voice to this blog. 

What are your thoughts on these? Do they create any feelings or emotions within you when you look at them? I am curious?   

Feedback if you please!

Blessings and much love,

Monday, November 1, 2010

AEDM 2010...Day One

Well... I have jumped into this Create Art Every Day Month again this year. If you remember, at least for those that were reading my blog last year, that was year one for me. This is year two. Yes, I had that much fun! Leah Piken Kolidas at Blue Tree Art Gallery does a great job of rounding up a bunch of "crazy artist" types, like me, to participate in a month long ritual of creating art every day each November. She has been doing this for 8 years now she reveals on her website. Great idea Leah!

I was super scared of the deadline of having to create art every day, take photos and/or uploading it to my blog and then actually blogging about the art and the experience. I stressed myself out last year thinking that I had to compete with all those other great artists out there that were also challenging themselves this month. I clicked on their posts and saw all the great art that others were posting and blogging about and I felt inadequate, or at the very least, incapable of keeping up with all the time consuming tasks of posting and blogging everyday even if I WAS able to get some art in. Last year I was unemployed during this event and I STILL had problems with time. NOW, I have been successfully employed as a full-time Hospice social worker...and I am STILL in school...this leads to even less time this year. You might be affirming to yourself at this moment, that yes...she IS a "crazy artist type"!

My Strategy This Year
I am being a little less anal this year (can I say that on my blog? Well, it is my blog...and I guess I could say worse things right?). I am just going to do a bit of creative work each day, maybe it will be 15 minutes on a painting every day for a week, or maybe it will be a doodle, or maybe it will be a creative thought I had about something I could do in the future etc. I am not going to have a preconceived plan and an agenda of deadlines looming before me. I have too many of those already in my life with work and grad school. This is supposed to be fun, so here I go. I might post each day, I might post every few days, or if I feel like it, I might only post at the end of the week. Like I said, I am going with the flow as it hits me. Much more laid back this least that is the plan. We will see where it gets me.

Day One Doodles
I found this website that allows you to make really cool snowflake designs and I played around in the early hours of the morning...actually for me it was a continuation of the night before when I was still up doing homework until 1:00 p.m., but then decided I needed to play and loosen up a little bit before  undertaking this challenge. I wanted to set the theme of "play" for myself. I had a good time and I got some cool designs with it. Don't worry, I am not wishing that winter will arrive by exploring snowflake creation, I just was having some fun and relaxing. That is the plan for this month's creativity.

I would love to hear about your experiences with this, drop in and leave a comment and say hello. Even a vote of confidence and support would be nice. Do you ever take time to just play? Do you doodle or does all of your artwork have to be something "serious" and "well executed"? Do you have a hard time loosing up when you work? I do, and that is why I am going this route this month.

I will try and say hello to the other AEDM participants at some point during this "crazy artist" month and see what other "crazies" are out there!

Blessings and love,

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oh my Gosh! Has it been 6 Months!

Here's a toast to learning to accept ourselves for who we are! I sure have not kept up the promise that I made to myself to keep doing this blog once I started it back up again. I thought maybe it had been a few months, TOPS...but not SIX. Where does all the time go? Well, I can tell you, after that wild thesis writing nightmare and pressing the send button on my thesis proposal as my last few blogs reference, I DID get my life back at least for the summer...and it was GLORIOUS!

I played and relaxed all summer and it was heaven. I made wonderful day long excursions to the beach with my dog and a few lovely snacks, drinks and books to while away my time without worrying about homework or the demands of anything. I had the whole days of those beautiful weekends to just do nothing but enjoy life. It was so freeing to have that bliss after almost seven years of graduate school. I enjoyed myself so much that part of me did not even want to go back to my classes in the fall, but here I am back at it. 

Now the crispness of fall is beginning to set in, I am behind on homework and frustrated with how it is going this semester, and longing again for the freedom that I had this last summer. I look back longingly and realize that I was healthier (more time for the gym), more rested (no late night homework sessions), less grumpy (also do to late night homework sessions), and just overall I felt more centered and in tune with my life (due to not dealing with all the deadlines and general hoops that going through grad school requires). It is times like these that I try and reflect back on my opening sentence. Learning to say a toast to learning to accept myself fully. 

Yes, I am a grumpy, disgruntled, frustrated and sleepy student right now in my second master's degree program, but I have to remind myself what it is all for. Sometimes that is a daily reminder, sometimes it is hourly and even some days...I have to get out the stopwatch to accurately watch the "seconds". I tell myself "someday I will be an art therapist" and smile. I think of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and silently sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow..." and hope that the Wicked Witch of the West does not get the best of me before this adventure is over!

Blessings and Love,

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Final Day...Tomorrow I Have a Life Back

I suppose that saying "Tomorrow I'll have my life back" might be a little extreme. I know that that this thesis proposal, and later, the second class where I actually do the research and put all the data into the thesis is a part of my life. I am just not enjoying this particular part of my life. It is one of the many academic "hoops" that I am required to jump through on the way to the Master of Arts in Art Therapy degree that I am completing. Somehow, I still don't get how writing a research thesis is really proving to anyone that I am going to make a good or a better art therapist than if I did not complete one. Having already completed an undergraduate degree in fine art, lots of hoops there...though most of those were conceptual and learning how to talk the "art language" as I call it, and then completing a Master of Social Work degree, I know all about the "hoops" that are set up and the "games" that must be played to get to the end of the academic degree that is being sought. Someone else sets up the criteria that is deemed worthy of allowing you to enter into the professional circle that they "covet". This is my second career, the first being a graphic artist/art director for over 25 years, and now a social worker and soon to be art therapist. Each professional "circle" has it's criteria, it's "initiation process" as I like to think of it. It's like making the new person pay their dues. I realize it is in the name of academic excellence and learning the craft/profession...but sometimes I think the "hoops" are there just to see if you can really cut it. After all, it takes some stamina and some real passion about what you want to do to stick with any degree to the end. Whatever the particular passion for that is, you have to have it.

Persistence and Passion
If it wasn't for my belief that God has given me this gift of art, and that I am supposed to use in it in the second half of my life as a way of helping others to heal, I don't think that I would have been able to survive this second Master's Degree. I have been shown time and time again that I continue to be on the path that God has laid out for me. When I am almost ready to give up, or I think I just cannot keep up the stamina to complete all the work required, God steps in and shows me that I can. Doors have opened to amazing internships, jobs and connections with people that have proven to me time and time again, that this is the path that I am supposed to be on...hard or not. So I trudge forward. I pray each day as I sit down to write this thesis proposal. I light three candles and say a special prayer as I light each one and ask God to step into my soul and speak through me and give me strength and clarity to go through yet another "hoop" in the academic circus to get to the the other side, and to ultimately become an art therapist. Each time that I think I am going to give up, and I pray to God about what I am supposed to answer is always that I have been given this gift for more than just making pretty pictures...and a door opens, my strength returns, the words flow. So once again, today I will light the candles, say the prayers, and hope that God continues to lead me as I write the final version of this thesis proposal.

Pressing the "Send" Button
I have a bottle of special Toasted Head Chardonnay ready for a special glass of wine to celebrate the end of a long research and writing process. I know that I will make it to the end, one way or another, with God's support. I want to celebrate and savor each success along the long road to the end—SO when this proposal is sent in, via email, I intend to drink my wine, and swirl the lovely, buttery, oaky flavor in my mouth and swallow it slowly as I say "thank you" in a silent prayer.

What things are your striving toward in your life that you feel the "hand of God" upon? Are there times that you wonder if you are strong enough to make it to the goal? Do you pray? Do you ever have doors open or special messages come you way that help you to see that you are still on the right path and have not taken a wrong turn? Please share your own experiences, I would love to hear how God works in other people's lives.

I'd  better light my candles and start typing, I have a long day ahead of me, but I know God will help me.

Blessings and Love,

photo credit:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day Two...

I am taking a break from typing all these revisions to this thesis proposal to write an update. My dog is really wondering what is going on and when he is going to get his friendly, happy, and "ball throwing", fun "mommy" back. His eyes are very telling of the social reclusive person that I have had to become to the last three months. I was really worried that I would not make it through this thesis proposal process, and I had to cut back on all social excursions except work, the gym, and homework...only one of which is even remotely social. At work I do have to talk to patients as part of my job, so that is some social contact anyway.

What a process this has been. I have often felt like the old saying "an elephant being pulled through the eye of a needle—backwards"...and I have felt all of the the stretches, pulls and "jamming" to make that kind of event happen. What a picture, don't you think? But, very accurate in it's metaphoric imagery for me and how I felt about this whole thesis research process. I have really come to believe that right brained, artist types really have a hard time thinking in that left brain analytical mode for extended periods of time without any creative "right-brained" activity to break it up. I actually am one of those "few" artsy types that have been blessed with what I would consider an equally weighted ability to function on either side of the brain and within both the analytical/logical thought processes and the creative/emotional processes. function for months on end in just the "analytical", even someone like me who has the ability to manage both perspectives can find themselves flooded with what I can only refer to as "BRAIN MELTDOWN". I am looking forward to some very creative, free-flowing, unstructured, radically rebellious time off after I press the send button on my computer tomorrow for my midnight deadline.

I will let everyone know how it pans out. Does anyone want to help me select a flavor of wine or a good vineyard to try for a celebratory drink? Your comments and suggestions are welcome...maybe we could even have a virtual glass of wine together to celebrate having my life back...even if it is only until the next semester!

Blessings and Love,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Official Countdown Begins...

Day Four of the Countdown Back to a Life

I have taken several months off from blogging...not the most recommended choice for a blogger's success, but for my personal sanity and personal success I needed to do so. I have been working on my Thesis Proposal for my Masters in Art Therapy program and it was all that I could do to manage that tremendous amount of work with just school, work and staying up with my gym routine. I cut out all other social life events for months...and even blogging—though I love it, was not part of the mix.

I have started an official Countdown to having a life back, as I am calling it. My whole, revised, and completed Thesis Proposal is due on Sunday, April 25th by midnight! Yes, that is THIS coming Sunday! Yeh! So...I am letting everyone know that I am itching to get back to blogging, doing some art and especially creating my Mandalas. I also can't WAIT to do some reflections on here and see what other peoples thoughts and feelings are about what I write about.

More to come...I hope you who had initially followed me will come back.

Blessings and Love,

Photo credits: stockxchng

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Churning Mechanics Of Life

I am amazed that it has been so long since I did my last Mandala, which also appears to have coincided with my last blog entry. Time has been whirling by very quickly for me lately. The last few weeks of December and the first week of the new year are always busy, but this year I had an additional element to juggle. I started a new job as a social worker with Hospice. I am still juggling these new duties, and learning the ins and outs of the job, and it is going into the second week of this new year. I know that I will soon get a handle on things and life will balance back out, that is one of the advantages of age...I have had enough upsets and imbalances in my life due to short-term changes to know that there is another more "sane" side to come. In the meantime, as I reflected upon this new year, I definitely found myself thinking of the abundant gratitude that I feel for my ability to have found employment and to have been be gifted with such a wonderful opportunity to work with families and their loved ones during a very significant and intimate time in their lives. I feel extremely honored that my journey has taken me to this place at this time.

Feeling The Need To Create
As I sat in a lonely hotel outside of Detroit (where I was for 2 days and 2 nights for new employee orientation), this past Thursday night, I felt a very strong need to create and to center myself. I needed something to take me away from all the new material, forms, phone lists, phone training, new faces and names and the whirlwind of information overload that new jobs can create in our heads. I am glad that I had decided to throw my Mandala supplies in my suitcase at the last minute, just in case I had some down time. I drew my outside circle and slowly began...never having a preconceived notion of the outcome or even the colors that I would choose. It always works. It always comes. Ah, resting in the relaxation of those moments. My head could finally stop the cascading waterfall of names, dates, times, rules, regulations, do's and don'ts, that make up an intense orientation schedule. I was amazed to note when I had finished my Mandala that an hour and a half had flown by while I found solitude once again within my design and the colors that flowed onto my paper.

A Cog In The Wheel Of Life
As I always do when I have finished a Mandala for my Circles Of Time Mandala Series...I looked intently at what I had just created and waited to see if any free association words came to me from within. I wrote these words around this new piece for my series "The Mechanisms of LIFE tick and turn and CRANK...winding and CHURNING, up we go, and down the other side." fitting.
I guess I have been feeling like I am a cog or a gear in life's big engine the last few weeks, turning, moving, going through the motions that I needed to take to do what I had to do, but I have realized that I am tired. BUT, I am also rejuvenated each time I allow myself to explore art as a way of processing my life's changes. I also workout regularly, eat as healthy as I can, and try to get enough sleeping time (though it has been difficult these last few weeks). All of these coping skills will help me get to the other side, a side when I will feel balanced again and hopefully, proficient at my new job.

Blessings and Love,