Weekend ~ 3/7/14 ~ Building Masterpieces Out of Sand Castles

AKA Joining Heaven and Earth


Yesterday and today David Nichtern’s class Creativity, Spirituality and Making a Buck is the soundtrack to my workday. This beats the crap out of Reuters and MSNBC if you ask me. I know! It’s an odd response for someone whose day job is in finance.

And though I love the relationships I’ve developed with my clients and firmly believe in the necessity of financial wellbeing this is not where my passion lives. As witnessed daily on my blog, my creative canvas voiced.The calling of my siren’s song rising; my intuitive mind longing for self-expression.

Last October I participated in David’s meditation workshop on CreativeLive (my favorite guilty pleasure). I’ve meditated for 15 plus years. Honoring my consciousness is a regular part of my daily routine and foundational spiritual practice. David describes Shamatha or mindfulness meditation as “an organic practice…based on noticing the moment when our awareness connects with our present situation, and actually deliberately cultivating that kind of simple awareness. The benefit is we become more synchronized in body and mind and begin to relate to our world in a less distracted and more wakeful way.”

Now David himself is inspiring. His laugh is joyously infectious. He invites me to yearn for more, to dream bigger in fact then I dared to myself. Seems kismet being this week’s Dungeon Writing Prompt is Dreaming Big. Something I’ve been hesitant to do as of late. A dear friend expressed her surprise at my reticence to jump without a safety net. I seem paralyzed, so contrary to the fire she sees inside my soul’s expression. I’ve noticed this too lately.

But here is a class combining my passions- meditation, spirituality and creativity. ”how we cultivate and integrate our creative energy, our sense of personal strength and well-being, and actually manifest our vision in the world.” David tells us the drive to create is personal- the part of you seeking expression. The trick is balancing Heaven and Earth- Our vision to current reality. 

Creativity is my pulse. It is my susurrus soul yearning to be birthed into the world. It is the part of me that knows its “connection with everything around us and particularly with the magic, sparkly quality of imagination”. It is my beloved and sometimes dreaded muse, my hallow heart.

Inside creativity, connection, and community I have the honor to reflect self with another and receive beauty in return. And to think my roommate doesn’t believe you can be an introvert and a people person. Oh Contraire! I am indeed both.

As I said I have a strong meditation practice. And recently through my illness have come to know further the depths of my own inner strength. I am tapped into my spirituality and creativity. But now, what to do with them?

This is where David pushes further. He asks is your art a hobby or a profession? Right now it is my hobby. One I want to bloom into a profession. But for an idea to become a business we must have a vision statement, a strategic overview and an operating plan. It must make sense on paper. As David reminds us “paper is a great mirror” (perhaps why I love writing as much as I do).

Do the numbers add up? For me the idea of making a buck from my art, the Offering is where I get challenged. My Oy to the Vey!

Our offering requires we serve a market or audience. As artists we must be aware of the needs of others. What do you want to design and project to the world? He asks.

I was reminded today that my name is a Pali term meaning spontaneous generosity of the heart. It is the offering/donation made to teachers. Perhaps I should focus on that when determining my worth, making the ask.

I recently told a friend “what do I have to write that is worth telling, that people haven’t heard a million times already, that a thousand better artists haven’t already expressed?” I thought she was going to lop my head off. This insidious thought runs along with what will my legacy be? What can I give towards the betterment of humanity? These deeper questions accompany cancer (at least it did mine).

I am not alone in knowing what it feels like to simply survive. Life’s challenges thrust us into a process undeniably bound for growth. It serves as the base of who we have become, a faint shadow of our past self, and the essence of our new being. Our transformation is not visible on the outside it is internal….eternal.

The Kabbalah states that not only can man transform, but he must in order to fulfill the purpose of creation. The butterfly must fight its way out of the cocoon. Break its way into the light, come to find its own strength or it will never be able to fly.

Over coffee with a friend he confessed his desire to have his midlife crisis crowd funded. The second half of his life spent creating and expressing his voice, his platform, raging against the dying of the light. My Punk Rock Pornstar Activist friend has a legacy far more established then mine that he wishes to imprint on the world. Not sure the world is ready for it, but that intense passion is glorious to behold.

I imagined a collective of artists. Like a giant creative think tank living on the beach in California spending days on end or nights as would be my case in the pursuit of creative genius, the freedom of self-expression. Oh that I were a millionaire to fund such a glorious endeavor. We would edit one another’s works, collaborate on lyrics for musical notes, create dialogue over dinner, shoot movies, and inspiration for art and dance. Are there any art collectives that incorporate meditation and spiritual practice encouraging collaboration and community? I think that would be the big dream for me.

David’s teacher told him “the first thought is the best thought”. Well my first project was my magnetic croquis drawing tool, croquis book and iPad drawing app. But David makes me want to be the muse. A creative coach perhaps! That friend who randomly reminds you to write, demands a love letter, in calligraphy of course, and stokes your creative fire. That pushes your whims to their edges, coaxing the caterpillar from its cocoon.

“Muse for Hire”. Collaborator. Co-conspirator. Confidante and Companion.


Blast from This Blogs Past


The Weekend Reading List


Something Extra

Stay the Night  ~ Zedd ft Hayley Williams

Weekend ~ 2/14/14 ~ Love, Anonymity and Time Warps

Heart Photo red wlogo

Yesterday a blog I read directed me to a site where you discover how many of you are out there. So you know I was curious. I hopped on over and was fascinated by what I discovered. Whilst increasingly putting myself out into the world I have been progressing further into anonymity. How is that you ask? Well, let me tell you.

I started with my Maiden name and Voila! There is only 1, ME. Honestly I wasn’t surprised. Next I used my first married name. There are 12. My second married name elicited 137 matches. Last I typed in my chosen name, my current name. There are 686 of us.

I used to avoid all social media. I had no presence on the net. I never voiced my feelings for others to peruse and yet I was easy to find in the world. Now Here I am with my own blog, twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Pinterest accounts (sorry Facebook I still abhor you) and am still much more hidden. I’ve become increasingly incognito, must have been subconscious. (At least that is what I am telling myself).

Now my friend,  (previously referred to on this blog as the Yente. That is until she informed me this was a meddling gossipy old woman, not a matchmaker. Hence the nickname correction), the Shidduch replied to my post Ode to My Valentine. Her one observation (the one she makes time and time again) was “when you speak of vulnerability you always say you don’t want to reveal too much of yourself. No photos, no identifying signs. But, really, you pour yourself out on that page, as vulnerable as can be. Such an interesting if banal juxtaposition in many great artists who prefer to reveal their internal voice only, feeling it on its own is far stronger (and less vulnerable) then they (i.e. you) as a person navigating this unforgiving, many times uncaring world would be”. She felt lucky to know both the flesh and blood woman as well as the bleeding artist.

I responded to my apparent dichotomy” I cannot speak to other artists, only myself. There is something of a sense of divinity I feel when creating, like I am a vessel, a conduit for the words or images. (How narcissistic does that sound?) By keeping my corporeal being out of the mix I prevent the contamination of ego. And in that vein I give over to the muse when she calls. It’s easiest to just get out of her way. (No, perhaps it’s schizophrenic?) Of course this is not referring to the times I am blocked. There are plenty of those. I see why many see the line between artist and insanity as attenuated. (Really I’m just a chicken).


These days I have no sense of time. No sense of things. Nothing moves as it once did. What seems long is short, short is long. I am stuck in a time warp since surgery. Since my cancer was confirmed. Since I became a survivor and began the cue of waiting, hoping to remain cancer free. My odds are good, the best they could be really. So much has changed it is hard to fathom it has been only two months. How could that be possible?

I’d like to forget, pretend really that cancer was ever a word associated with me. But you can’t. I can’t. I haven’t even gotten the hospital bill yet nor gone back for my follow-up scans. Sometimes at night I roll over and a twinge reminds me of my still healing incision. So how could it possibly feel so far off, so long ago that life was simpler.

I wrote an old high school friend, a fellow cancer survivor. My email entitled simply Cancer arrived in her mailbox, 6 years out from her treatment for ovarian cancer, on the 2nd birthday of her son. She wrote of my news, of cancer, of her survival:

“We may regain our health, and perhaps find greater happiness than we knew before our illness, but there is no denying the tragedy that we’ve all endured; all is not necessarily well that ends well.  There is simply no regaining time and innocence lost.

Managing as a survivor – at least for me – means fighting in some sense to deny the centrality of cancer in my life.  For if you can’t ever really get away from it, if you can’t just “forget” for a moment that you were ever sick, or temporarily erase the memories of that fateful meeting with your oncologist, or the moment you were wheeled into the OR for your surgery – how are you supposed to fully inhabit a life among the living?

If only those memories could be extracted from my consciousness, removed like the cancer itself.”

Oh how I wish I could resend my email. How I wish neither of us had been touched by disease. That I could roll back time. If it were possible she would wish it for us both. But as she puts it support is everything, to know the unique comfort of other survivors. Still I wish simply to have been able to write “Hello Old Friend. Tell me all about your life and loves.”


Then last Sunday I got a message from WordPress congratulating me on my Blog’s 3rd anniversary (It actually said 4th but that’s simply not true). I thought, “That can’t be possible. How did three years fly by unnoticed?” Admittedly there were fits and starts, life ran off the rails, went off the reservation, amuck, astray…. haywire.  Hence the holes in my blogging.  And all that was before cancer.

Perhaps this is no longer simply an artistic outlet, an exercise in stretching outside my comfort zone.  This was never a commercial blog. It was never about making money (still isn’t). I sought this avenue as a means of expression, an outlet for my heart. One I hoped to share with others, to create a community of likeminded artists and inspire one another. I love being a Muse. And secretly I fancy I am. That I have moved someone, affected their life in some little positive way. Because if there were no tomorrow I want to think my time here made a difference, that I make a difference. The possibility of life ending without warning brings up deeper questions- ones I grapple with every day.

Then it dawned me. This is why 3 years passed by nearly unnoticed. I’ve been doing something I love. To be bold, strong, courageous, colorful, and free, not afraid of whom you are. Creative expression seems timeless. And this is my creative canvas, one that gives me freedom to express my passions. It is my way of dreaming, conversations, laughter and intimacy. All of this is what makes my blog what it has become. So much a part of who I am it’s breathing. Underwater perhaps, but I’m a fish so no worries. Thank you for being a part of it.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Now go out there and give away some kisses!


Blast from This Blogs Past


The Weekend Reading List


Something Extra

The Power of Love ~ Gabrielle Aplin

The Weekend ~ 9/13/13 ~Toile, toile toile!


Toile, toile, toile! Lately that word has become an expletive to me. Or at the least a Yiddish toi, toi, toi to ward off all the evil thoughts I’ve had while drawing. If you don’t know what toile is read Design Sponge’s article the History of Toile de Jouy and follow-up Modern Toile.

I managed to complete all 6 vignettes for the fabric print and am glad to be in the final stretch of the layout. Though I’ve now come to believe that the French are sadists. Yes, I realize I should have more appreciation for tasks that stretch me past my comfort zone. But come on! And frankly Sheila Bridges is just a show off. Her Harlem Toile de Jouy is unreal. I’ve secretly convinced myself that it took her years to complete the design.

My first large size art print arrived unscathed down under. It tickles me to no end to know that something I drew is hanging on a wall half way around the world. I still find myself humbled by every print purchase. Pinch me Auntie Em.

I’ve been receiving a lot of encouragement lately to write more. I can tackle a 100 word story or a poem with little trepidation but longer pieces and I begin to break out in a cold sweat. My girlfriend told me she’d rather clean toilets with a tooth brush then write at all. I’d definitely rather write and perhaps move in with her if she’s so willing to clean the toilet.

I’ve also been introduced to so many writers through the internet that I am becoming inefficient in my daily life. All I want to do is read, review, comment and connect. Seriously people amaze me. There is no end to the talent being expressed.

I had a friend that once told me everyone has an addiction of some kind. I thought mine was the nights I stay up obsessively creating. But I’ve come to realize I actually am a creativity junkie. Because I fall in love a little bit everyday with someone’s words, images, raw human expression or perhaps divine inspiration. I suspect it’s a little of both.

I’ve been pondering cutting back my blog posts to thrice weekly. Since I have a personal project I want to dedicate time to. Instead I find my creative juices on over drive- inspiration flowing so much so that I am occasionally posting twice in one day. I suspect this might be procrastination disguised as productivity.

So with that thought I will bid you à demain (okay….Monday)

Blast from This Blogs Past


The Weekend Reading List


Something Extra

The Weekend ~ 8/23/13 ~Buddy System for Creatives

Well this is how it felt to actually finish the shed.  It brought such a sense of accomplishment for myself and two girlfriends that plugged away at the instructions (which weren’t always straightforward but admittedly we weren’t the most careful readers-the fine print occasionally slipping past us) and who toiled at the manual labor (more then I’ve done in ages). It was sheer Girl Power in action.

Wheeeee! (That’s actually for all of my readers who no longer need to hear about the blasted shed.) I’ll spare you all the updates about part II-emptying the storage unit.

Now as I shared in my post Creative Junkie one of my absolute favorite things about teaching is seeing my student’s creativity come to fruition. To watch the process as they discovered their muse. So Yesterday I received an email from a past student thanking me for encouraging him to enter the Seamless in Seattle Competition this year. He was being kind because I actually threatened him bodily harm if he did not take the leap. I love his designs. He was thanking me because he is this years winner and will be featured in a two page spread in Seattle Magazine. This is a huge accomplishment and he joins a long list of past NYFA grads including WyattOrr (a previous Tuesday Talent feature). So of course I immediately ran out and bought the magazine on my lunch break. So the rest of you need to keep your eyes out for the talented Tom Ordonio and definitely check out his website.

P.S. a little known fact about Tom. He can ROCK it at Karaoke. Seriously he’s good!

So my friend DT and I have started a buddy system for our creative projects. We may need to start a group for Creative Junkies. AAAA- Alliance of Artists Addicted to Alliteration. It’s a working title. Anyway I digress.

Each of us has our own creative projects in the works that we never set time for. Over a walk last weekend we discussed what we wanted to accomplish and decided to support one another in our endeavors. We each agreed that we’d dedicate a minimum of 15 minutes 7 days a week to our projects and then let one another know.

Now a sad thing I learned about myself in the past is that I am much more likely to go to the Gym if I have an appointment with a trainer. I dread the gym. But if I am paying for something and have committed to another person I will not let them down. But if I am forced to arise on my own and go work out based simply on sheer willpower- forget it. I’m hitting snooze. This does not bode well on the self motivation scale.

So I had to ask myself is there something I am dreading about completing my creative projects? (Actually another friend ask me that). I don’t think so. I believe I simply need a little support to help propel me past the hurtles. The places along the process I get stuck, hit a road block. Like when I was told I should patent an idea I am working on. The whole thing threw me into a whirl in the deep end. I literally froze in my project. I shared this with a friend who said, ”  If patenting overwhelms you, don’t worry about that part, just do the work you want to do. Your idea’s fantastic. ” Every artist should have a buddy system. Hell an entire network of people standing behind them cheering them on over the next obstacle. I recommend everyone get out there and find one. Seriously, Now, Hop to it!

P.S.S. Radio Roulette is also awesome on your iPhone/iPad. Simply go to all albums and hit the shuffle button and take the ride. That is as long as you like you’re own music.

Have a fabulous weekend. See you Monday!


Blast from This Blogs Past


The Weekend Reading List


Something Extra

Zedd-Clarity ft Foxes

Image: Apartment 34

The Weekend 4/20/12 ~The Creative Spark

I had saved this excerpt from Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by Christopher Peterson, Martin Seligman, Chapter 4 Creativity pg 109-110  intending to share. Then this week I came across a blog written by Jeff Goins full of boundless inspiration for my already churning mind. I began to puzzle together this excerpt with last weekends pursuing your passions.  And as I began reading his blog entry called You must Engage Your Creative Side, my half written piece on living up to your creative potential came to the forefront. It began with a list of questions:

  • Do you live up to your full creative potential?
  • Do you realize how extraordinary you are?
  • Are you living your passions?
  • If not what is stopping you?

Jeff had engaged in an evening of creative exploration by drawing eyes closed on a sheet of paper. I began to ponder. How do you unlock creative potential?  Some ideas sprang to mind. Try drawing from an image turned upside down, Pick a word randomly and begin writing a short story, Find a photo and create your own caption, Pick three incongruous items from your kitchen and cook something. Or chose from one of the suggestions in 33 ways to stay creative or Why not be Creative by Shannon Ables.

We live in a world of stereotypes “intellectual, artistic, athletic. As you may have gathered from my article on Nicknames these stereotypes pigeonhole us into categories. We even categorize artists (painters, singers, dancers, chefs, architects etc.) You don’t have to be published or recorded. Even if your work is never seen this by no means excludes you as creative. Every single one of us has a creative spark. We’re all creative. It is one of the things that connects us.

As Jeff put it,

“We don’t create for others.
We don’t create to impress or be the best.
We create, because we can.”

I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free”….Michelangelo

For me creating is divine, the spark that comes from deep within when we drop our defenses. I believe this is part of my own spiritual expression, the sacred. In this space I feel my own connection to all things. I delight with the ideas and pictures seeking expression and feel the flow and presence of my whole mind, the reality of the “I am”.  Whatever you call it, divine inspiration, the human spirit, a muse, the intangible, God, whatever your source, unleash it.

Don’t let your limited belief systems hold you back. Those mental habits that keep playing in a perpetual loop in your mind, that fixed companion, the nagging thoughts that your dreams are unobtainable. You know…I’m not good enough, funny enough, and smart enough. I say enough! Break up these very belief systems before they become self-fulfilling. Don’t become less than what you truly are. Seek the truth, shine your light, and start fresh unencumbered.

If you don’t know what your gift is then just try something, anything, until you find the thing that whispers to you long after you’ve put it down. What is it you see that no one else does? Your voice is uniquely your own so share it. Get to know yourself. What are you willing to give your heart and soul for? Create conversation, ask questions, and stand on your tip toes, spend an entire day fasting from self-concern. Engage, experiment, and give art the space it needs to grow, to breathe. Then keep doing it so it can flourish.

Any passion must be practiced. So you must love it or you’re bound to quit. Jeff Goins says of writing that you must “learn how to enjoy writing for what it is — an arduous and sometimes tedious process of dying to yourself and being reborn. It is painful and glorious all at the same time and not to be taken lightly in the least.”

Don’t create for others, create for yourself. Whether anyone ever sees it or not is irrelevant. If you deny this spark you are denying a part of who you are. And with each new creation you will discover a part of yourself. Perhaps something you never knew you were capable of. Delve into your Passionate Curiosity and be Fearless, bold. Hold nothing back.

We are all Creative. Our greatest masterpiece is our life. So what are you waiting for? Create.

Weekend Reading List:


Images: Here / Here / Here / Here / Here / Here