Sunday, July 29, 2012

sprouting dreams

 Every once in awhile, I am surprised to realize that dreams do come true.

It's not that I don't hold out hope for the best - planting ideas like seeds into hope-filled and fertile ground -  but I have come to expect the unexpected which life tends to deliver. Like the pumpkin plant we had one year.  I tended to that plant like a new mother only to come out one morning and find it stricken by some fungus that shriveled it up it like the wicked witch under Dorothy's house. Cowgirl was heart broken.  

And then a few weeks later, I discovered a thriving pumpkin plant by our front porch.  Reminder that what we may toss aside as spent - in this case last year's pumpkin that I casually nudged into behind the bushes after I discovered it had rotted on the front stoop. (A lesson for the Husband that my seemingly slothful ways may hold some value.)  

I was reminded of this pumpkin (and similar gardening adventures - like the time our previous dog would steal tomatoes, carrying them around in his mouth and then drop them in odd pockets of the yard where hardy plants later sprouted up - which makes me question my gardening techniques) as I stood before 3 of my paintings hanging in a group show this past weekend.

Only instead of pumpkins, paintings of Ganesha - five in all - had manifested in less than three months time.  My first public showing of my artwork since I was a college student and I'm not sure even an elephant could remember that far back. 

It was a beautiful show mounted by the yoga center where I teach.  A number of artists were invited to contribute work on the theme of Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu deity of Success and destroyer of obstacles.  A good subject for someone stepping out of her comfort zone.  A good ally as I consciously embrace my identity as a creative being and become comfortable with calling myself an artist.  

Sweet treats for Ganesha (photo from Omaha Yoga & Bodywork Center)

It was a love-filled evening with many dear friends coming out to show their support.  My little herd of Ganeshas looked happy on the colorful walls of the yoga center and I was quite proud of them ... and of me.  Within the first hour of the opening one painting sold, and by the end of the evening 4 out of the five were purchased.  But more rewarding for me was to see people choosing to pose in front of my paintings for photographs.  

Cowgirl enjoyed the opening by cartwheeling across the space and contributing to the mythology of the paintings creation.  Apparently she painted in some key features - a point I don't recall, but certainly will not doubt. (Which means I owe her a portion of any monies generated by sales - a point she was quick to bring up.) 

my baby Ganeshas are on the left

And here's the bit about dreams:  two years ago I was in one of those "manifest your dream" ecourses and the dream I envisioned at that time was a gallery show.  I went so far as to inquire at a nearby coffee shop about their schedule of shows and submission requirements.  I even wrote out a list of ideas for a themed show and the work I wanted to create.  Then my interest waned and like that rotted pumpkin, the idea was relegated to a dark corner of my mind.  

Magically, it took root and without much interference from the gremlins that busy themselves with my conscious mind.  A lesson for me in patience, perseverance, and trust. I painted, I practiced and I stayed open possibilities and when all the forces were in place, Ganesha stepped in and cleared a path to an auspicious beginning. 


Of course, when I am paying attention and looking with my heart not my mind, I see how the Universe is always tending to the seeds I scatter rather haphazardly, bringing love into full and magnificent bloom.  Her given name does mean "excellent seedling" - a little reminder for those times I am forgetful. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

beating the heat


 Okay, I give up - the heat is definitely whooping this freckled fair-skinned girl's butt!  I am peeling my dewy-self off of the couch where, I confess, I've been doing something close to nothing.  I wish I had words of refreshment if not inspiration for these days that are way beyond dog days.

I mean, even the dog has created a trough in the carpet from napping 24/7.

Speaking of napping ...

That is about the extent of my efforts of late.

 Oh, my limp hands have held some good books (The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins her Life Work at 72 which means I have 22 years to loaf before I have to become serious) and my journal ("Yesterday, hot. Today, still hot with a veneer of grumpy") and a few dishes and cones of ice cream. 

The only thing that is thriving right now (besides the energy company) is this pumpkin vine which I swear doubles in size overnight.

So I make more sun tea (lemongrass, ginger, hibiscus and spearmint), venture out after dusk and before dawn to water the garden and walk the dog, dream of rainy days (no, really, I've been dreaming I am standing outside in rainstorm which right now surpasses any Ewan McGregor dream and that is something I never imagined could happen!) and wait for the day when thoughts and motivation no longer melt away by 10 AM .

Waving to you all from my couch where I am just chillin', breathing and being.  Waiting for this steamy interlude to be over.  Contemplating what constitutes my dharma, my joy,  and hoping for the energy to resume my journey towards it.

Which reminds me ... time for my 4 PM ice cream fix treat. 


Thursday, July 19, 2012

just sayin' ...

 When you find your head has been stuck way up Shiva's ass (the master of change/transformation/destruction) the best thing to do - the only thing I can do - is look down.

Look down and see the earth you stand upon.



See the life you are in the middle of living.

Take a deep breath, let out a long, noisy exhale and settle into yourself.

Settle into this moment. 

And before taking a step, just notice the gifts awaiting your presence.  They may be at your feet - 

 Or in your mailbox - 

 with secret messages for you alone.

 Receive it all with gratitude because, well, it has been dark up in Shiva's ass but the contrast allows you to really appreciate the light.

And then recognize the journey begins here. now. This moment.

Which is the only moment that matters. 


"Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse." 
- T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

(the beautiful cards are the work of the Milena Widdowson; thank you dear one for blessing my day and my world with your beauty, generosity and grace.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

overflowing (i look closer ... inner excavations)


A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master.  While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen.  The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring.  The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself.  "It's over full! No more will go in!" the professor blurted.  "You are like this cup," the master replied.  "How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup."

I left for a week's vacation an empty cup.  No expectations but to relax, be present and enjoy the time with my family on Cape Cod.  With the exception of one year, we have taken Cowgirl back to the Cape for a week at the beach.  Growing up, summers for me revolved around the Jersey shore.  When I was in college, my parents bought a house on Cape Cod and it became my place of retreat and renewal.  Before Cowgirl came home with us, I knew I wanted to give her a week at the beach every year if possible.  I tell the Husband it is a right of all children to know long days spent playing in the surf, sand, collecting shells and stones and drinking icy cold raspberry lemonade from the beach kiosk; to go to bed dusty with dried salt from the ocean and the sound of the waves echoing in her dreams.  

So much happened this week at the beach.  We played hard and we were gifted some amazing sights: 24 giant humpback whales splashed around the whale-watching boat, dazzling us with their power and their grace;  


seals lumbered by in the distant waves as we swam in the refleshingly icy waters off of Nauset beach (no, we did not see any sharks!);


our backyard was a theater for birdsong and nocturnal antics of raccoons, owls, coyotes, and cats (and daytime naps in a cocooning hammock) ; snowy egret bestowed a blessing upon me after navigating through some intense horsefly country; 


and much ice cream was consumed.

But more happened under the surface.  So much, I find my cup overflowing and I am unable to begin to decipher the meaning of all that was gifted to me.  But being me (terrier girl, always tugging an internal sock) I will make an initial stab at it.

I returned to this place of pilgrimage, carrying with me powerful tools for self-reflection. I began a mirror meditation practice shared by Liz Lamoreux in her book Inner Excavation and in her retreat kit "The Gifts of this Moment."  The first night I stared at myself in the bathroom mirror (fan on so no one would wonder why I was camped out in the bathroom!) and immediately I was confronted by the fact that I carry much of my father upon my face but also deep within me.  I witnessed the lines life has etched upon my face, the wear of years upon tired, hooded eyes and fading red hair.  I acknowledged the stories I have carried within my heart and the heavy toll of parts of my past.  Being in this place with ties to my father's family, those stories and the burdens placed upon his soul, I recognized my place within that narrative.  Or rather, I realized the potential purpose to that past and its connection to the trajectory of my future.

In SouLodge we were thinking about Voice and specifically the voices of our ancestors.  In this place full of memories, I felt like a veil was being lifted and that a light of Hope and healing was being shined upon the possibility of my story and Cowgirl's story being new threads woven into a narrative of loss, loneliness, silence and disappointment.

Seeing so many whales and learning of their repeated travels to these waters with their young - 30 years in the case of one whale we saw - I felt like an important piece of my purpose, my work, was being given to me by Grandmother Whale.  I am still digesting the teachings shared with me during the week as I sat upon the shore watching the seals and my girl splash within Ocean's healing embrace.  

Right now, my heart feels like a teacup overflowing.  I took a closer look at myself, my life and then I listened and boy, did I receive!  I wrote every morning and evening; words poured from me.  I took pictures and each day marveled at how present I felt. 

Now I hope to sit with it all - the images, the words, the emotions, the dreams and the visions - and let it all sink in.  Like Whale, rising to the surface to take a conscious breath and then diving back into dark, rich, waters.

Meanwhile, I sit and marvel at the fearlessness and full-on joy and pleasure this girl exhibits whenever she is near water.  If Whale is talking to me, then Seal is definitely claiming this child as her own.



 In the end, Whale says it best: dive deep and when you do surface, make a mighty splash.  

Thank you, Grandmother. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

excuse me, i've got painting fever ...

... and I am a little obsessed by Ganesha right now.  Actually, on the basis of this one little guy (from my 49 by 49 series)

I've been invited to contribute artwork to a show at the yoga center where I teachI'm not sure they were expecting this herd of elephant-headed gods to show up but, well, I just can't seem to stop myself.  

This guy just can't make up his mind on what he wants to wear for the event: purple? green? blue?

Fortunately for Ganesha I've been immersed in Flora Bowley's incredible online course Bloom True.  Even though I took a two day workshop with Flora in April, the 5-week course has given me a chance to dive into the practices, allowing time to let things sink in.  It is so much more than mere pigment on canvas: it is about uncovering your inspiring life, being bold and brave, playful and trusting in yourself and in the notion of discovery and process. 

As you can see, I'm rolling in paint and canvas and elephants.  I just can't stop myself!


So excuse me if I am quiet for a bit ... I have a little over a week left to figure out who these paintings want to be.  As if this moment, I consider them still in-progress.  We have a lot more to discover about each other.


 I mean, I can't leave anyone behind?!  Ganesha just keeps on manifesting ...

these Ganesha babies are 6 by 6 inch gesso board pieces and will be mounted on larger panels separately.  maybe ...

... he is the god of new beginnings and he keeps asking for another close-up moment.  I must oblige.

Om Ganapataye Namo Namah Om Ganapataye Namo Namah Om Ganapataye Namo Namah Om Ganapataye Namo Namah Om Ganapataye Namo Namah Om Ganapataye Namo Namah

(I love this explanation of the Ganesha mantra: This mantra removes all evil and obstacles that prevent you from reaching your goals.  Chanting the mantra just after bath is very good or very early morning isextremely beneficial. My favorite chant to Ganesha is by Bhagavan Das which has the great line "you have a big fat red belly ..."  I hear this song and that belly keeps me painting on and on and on ...)