Some nights are pure, unexpected magic.
Decades ago, mine was Night of the Shooting Stars…the peak of the Perseid Meteor Showers. On that night of magic, my oldest daughter danced into my life and the foundation of a family that nurtures was birthed—the love for daughters/the love of daughters—roused beauty I had never seen or felt.
Lore says the Night of the Shooting Stars is a night when all your dreams come true. Truth.
Nature is there for us in boundless ways. In the sky, in the earth, in us. If only you we slow to the rhythms and invite it in. Magic.
So painting Night of the Shooting Stars was born of wonder—I suspended my expectations and let it take me on a journey completed this week in this season of gratitude.
Recently, I saw a quote that said “Happiness comes not from how much you have but about being grateful for what you have.”
Feeling grateful to be with my people this week… all the shooting stars~*
"Yesterday I installed 12 paintings for the opening of SuperfineDC today. It took 5 freaking hours—suffice it to say, there was a lot of math involved & the need to hang paintings so they could be replaced by others, if they sold.
Gratitude doesn’t begin to express what I felt as my guy took charge of the hanging, ignoring a pulled IT band & masterminded the whole art install…and we got home in time to watch the NATS WS game 6 victory. It was a great day.
So, in processing what it’s like to have someone support me so devotedly in my art adventure when it’s not his thing, to bring a great spirit & selflessness to it all, I thought more about my life’s journey.
My family was a mess when I was a kid—my parents didn’t notice the anguish they created and never were aware of who I was much less join me in my passions.
I’ve talked a lot about how that sense of being on my own shaped me—some for the better, as I am a strong and very independent woman.
In that same reflection, I had always wished my upbringing had more Brady Bunch and a bit less Twilight Zone. It took a great therapist to help me see that as an adult I was right where I should be. And to saddle up to the fact that you don’t choose the family you are born into, but you can create the family that is right for you.
And so I did. And while I didn’t have the mothering I longed for, I became the mother I always wished to have. That is beautiful beyond words.
So in creating the family I always dreamed about—supportive, sharing, being there for one another and speaking truth around hard things—my guy and I made some wonderful choices.
Many of my guy’s MBA classmates went on to Wall Street and became executives in large corporate entities. Together, we chose a simpler life and started a business caring for people with dementia. It was hard but rewarding work and having something small and local allowed him to be flexible. He volunteered at school, taught an after school science class, coached soccer and basketball and shot hoops with our girls’ friends when they dropped by. He relished it.
But he sometimes asked me if I wished he had gone the Wall Street/corporate route with large financial rewards (and frequent travel) and I never pause in my response because I couldn’t imagine having made a better life choice than we did.
We built our family to be all I could have ever dreamed of. And it has not been easy. We separated after one year of marriage, struggled through therapy to figure out our issues and learned to argue in such a way that (usually) there is no winner or loser. The relationship is raw and real and hard and incredible.
I share this to simply say, I feel so RICH. So much gratitude and today when I am able to express and share my art, I have my family right there with me.
IT’S NOT A "DREAM COME TRUE". It’s making deliberate choices, sometimes hard, in order to build the life you truly want.
So I diverge from talking about art because so much of me is in every piece I create. It’s my journey…crafted by me.
Just as in painting—if you don’t like where your life started or where it is, paint over it until you do. There is no limit on Re-Do-s.
Here’s to crafting a life of RICHNESS…Namaste’
Painting done in homage of my guy: SUPAH-MAN (Everywhere I Go, There U R)
Doesn’t everyone put up barriers and boundaries up?? (ok, I do). But what if?
What if there is that person who comes along and helps you storm the prison gate? (not that you need someone to help, but, man, it helps me). And you find each other serendipitously--but with certainty?
What if you find the saddles for the goldfish and just go? Y NOT??
So I share: Let’s Saddle Up A Couple Of Goldfish And Swim 2 Alaska…and a photo of me.
The selfie? It felt so right today. A chance to share about my journey:
The thing about being an artist is there is often anxiety in creating…and doubt and that nagging need to push boundaries a bit further and all that goes with the pushing. Vulnerability. Authenticity. Because staying in the safe places just doesn’t feel right.
So the courage of being an artist is something I cherish and keeps me up some nights.
And yet art is the most healing thing I do for myself. So I create and I collect art. And today I look around at the art I have collected and created and I feel the joy, the peace and completeness of it all. I feel that exhilaration of being an artist and being in art. It is self-care like no other.
So, here’s to finding your keys to the prison gate….to surrounding yourself with art, creating art, living on the wild side without walls~* Namaste
Since I was five, I’ve been fiercely independent.
I planned a life of self-sufficiency, determined to have a rich career and family life—husband or not. In fact, I would date men and pretty much leave them before they knew now what hit them. It took some pretty intense convincing and a few years of therapy for me to stick with my guy. An amazingly great choice…
So these days as I witness subtle & overt plays at repressing powerful women and general disrespect for women’s ability to exercise their own power, I respond with paint. Over the last months and a gazillion (yes a gazillion) layers of paint & collage I birthed this queen: Power. Strength. Resolve. Beauty. Vulnerability. Compassion. A reminder to myself and anyone else who cares: She don’t need no king.
When I was a kid, heart transplants were the medical miracle. I was obsessed and the pioneering doctor, Christiaan Barnard, was my hero. At 11 years old, I read and clipped every article about him and his surgeries and I memorized the stories and names of every patient. I was sure I would become a heart surgeon.
Recently, I had an epiphany about what my youthful interest in heart transplants really meant:
In a family filled with broken hearts, Christiaan Barnard was hope-- a man who could make you new. And in the recesses of my unconscious, I wanted to take all the brokenness away. It was a beautiful realization from a child desperate to change their trajectory—that replacing a physical heart could take emotional pain away.
In adulthood, I changed my legacy. And on my canvas, I celebrate this journey to joy in the creation of Mend My Heart, Christiaan Barnard.
And maybe I have reached that childhood wish…that through my art, perhaps I am a healer of hearts~*
To add to the story, today I uncovered this blog I wrote six years ago about carrying the burden of having a depressed parent and Mary Oliver’s poetry adding insight. It is at the core of what my world presented to me and how yoga offered me so much in my healing.
May your day be filled with opening to all the beauty around you—here is that blog post:
The Journey—Through a Breath of Fire
In speaking the truth, I would say that I was raised by a mother who was chronically depressed and never felt much, if any, joy. For years, I worried that I might be the same –until, in my adulthood—I was able to notice how truly joyful I am and how hard it was to live in the shadow of someone else’s depression. Particularly as a child.
For decades, I thought I was responsible for my mother’s happiness. To take care of her. What a huge burden on a young soul and a heavy task for anyone. I gave and gave to my mom and yet she rarely smiled or shared a positive thought. Her sadness tortured her…and me. I thought, if only I could make it better. If only I could tap dance faster, hide the triggers for her sadness, if only…she might be better. Every child wants their parents to be happy. And yet a mindful, loving parent would never want their child to bear that burden of responsibility.
Often, I envied my friends and their mothers who were soft and full of hugs and laps for listening. I mourned that missing piece in my life until I learned to have it through my own parenting. I could be in that relationship not as daughter, but as mother and blossom in that loving place.
Yesterday, I reread Mary Oliver’s The Journey, a poem that deeply resonates in my heart:
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.
We watch things happen to those we love as they surround their lives sometimes with pain that we cannot take away. They may drink too much, be with partners who hurt them. They fight demons we cannot take away. And these are our struggles to come to terms with. What is theirs and what is ours?
I think about this in my yoga practice lately. In all the noise of my world, I relish the predictability of it all. I know what comes next, I am not blindsided. I can relax. This gives me the freedom to work deeper, harder and free from fear. Much can be stirred as I wrestle with my mind and mat during my 90 minutes on the mat and yet always, at the end, I can seal my practice with “Breath of Fire”—breathing out all the toxins that were stirred in the last 90 minutes. I used to think this was only a literal instruction…that the toxins were in my sweat, but I have come to realize that the toxins can well be in my soul. That what is stirred in my heart and soul sometimes needs a source of release in my body. What a wonderful catharsis. I could have used Breath of Fire when I was a kid. But, I have found it today, here in my practice and that is a blessing.
Today, I ruminate over Mary Oliver’s words…the only life you can truly save…there is deep comfort in the words and that truth for me. We can love, support, offer compassion and caring, but it is truly only our own lives which we can change.
I feel these words deeply in my heart as I begin to think about my art today. Perhaps they will bring me new images on my canvas and new inspirations in my life. I see the light of a beautiful morning. I feel the coolness of autumn arriving. I feel the corners of my mouth turn up in a grateful smile. I am joyful…this is my journey today and wishing you joy in yours. Namaste’
I am so pleased to be showing 12 paintings at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland beginning November 9th and running through January 4. Brave is a show of mixed media artworks celebrating the power and exhilaration of finding and sharing voice.
The show is open to the pubic in the front lobby of Building 10--the main clinical center--and is accessible 24/7. Enter through the NIH Gateway Visitors Center on Rockville Pike one block north of Woodmont Ave. Parking is in the Building 10 parking garage (google maps gets you there).
Over the last year, I have created many new paintings for this show. Being able to exhibit these works in a healing setting for patients, families and health professionals is particularly meaningful to me. With gratitude and excitement, I extend this invite to you~*
I’m thinking of the sights, sounds & smells that bring me back to magic. Never do I tire of watching fireflies light up the woods or the smell of fresh cut grass. When I see a morning glory blooming wildly, it reminds me of walking to my best friend’s house early on a summer morning. “Smoke on the Water” or “Band on the Run” make me think of carefree summer days. And as a child I spent many nights perched at my bedroom window taking in the twinkling Christmas Lights that lit the neighborhood—oh how I love being transported to those moments--feeling safe & happy—so unexpected and precious.
Over the last year, Lori Anne Boocks & I had the privilege of working with young patients via Georgetown Med School to create art echoing their journeys —it was humbling & gratifying to be a part of this research —the exhibit is of the 8 resulting paintings & the young patients responses to having a painting created about their experiences.
In addition to the painting Fierce featured above, I created three additional works for three different patients. The narratives about the paintings will be included at the show and explain the direction of each piece of empathic art:
Welcome to my journey, in art & life...