An Unexpected Journey

Last December my adult daughter fell on our kitchen floor. The next morning I took her to the ER at a nearby hospital. That was the beginning of an unexpected journey that we are still on; I as her caregiver, my daughter as a person with a neurological disease that affects her central nervous system, leaving her unable to walk or use her hands. All of a sudden I found myself spending hours of every day at one hospital, then another, then back to the first one over the span of 3 months as doctors tried and failed to diagnose her, transferred her, then diagnosed her, then returned her to the first hospital to await placement at rehab.

As you might imagine, my creative urges were overwhelmed by caregiving. After 3 weeks at rehab, my daughter was released to home and into my care. That was in mid-march of 2018. As I write it is late July and I have been on a journey through anger, guilt, depression, remorse and back again. There has been little motivation to paint. I have been able to take a few online classes and even taught once. But it is only now that I begin to emerge from the shock of the trauma to my daughter and the life-changing effects it has brought to our lives. I hope to post more regularly and offer my thoughts on creativity and life as we go forward.

prism rainbow after glaze

My Artist’s Statement

Talisman: Art Queen

Artist’s Statement

I have been an artist for as long as I could hold a crayon, or brush, or pencil, or pen; nearly seven decades now. From the time I decorated the stairwell in our home with grease pencil at age 3, I have longed to create art. Through art classes in grade school, middle school and high school (where I won National Scholastic awards,) to majoring in Art Education at Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA, my love of making and teaching art burned deeply inside.

Even in those early years I knew there was something sacred about art making. I knew I traveled to the same inner space when I made art as when I prayed. I had no words to describe the experience beyond “Holy.” I knew there was more to art than representing the outside world. I could do that well enough, but I also knew there was more. There were things I imagined in my mind and heart that I could not reach, but that cried out to be given form.

Many years passed as I taught art, became a wife and mother, went to Yale Divinity School and entered ordained ministry. I still sought that access to inner space as I used the arts in my ministry to develop spiritual growth with children, youth and adults. I knew intuitively that art unlocked not only creativity, but access to the Divine.

Soon after I retired from ministry in 2009, I discovered the field of Expressive Arts that, for me, held the key to unlocking access to my inner world. In the safe, nonjudgmental container of the two year Certificate Program of Expressive Arts Florida Institute in Sarasota that I felt free to explore that sacred space and the images that dwelt there. During that period of exploration I discovered the work of Pat B. Allen and Stuart Cubley who’s use of intuitive painting and writing opened the gate to exploring the inner, sacred dimensions of the creative process.

In 2015 My path lead me to Shiloh Sophia and her teaching of Intentional Creativity. It was my discovery of the Intentional Creativity Philosophy and the 13 step process of painting that culminated in the fulfillment of my search for both access to inner content and a language with which to communicate it that encompasses the sacred as well as the scientific.

Intentional Creativity uses the process of inquiry, imagination, imagery and exploration to access our creative voice, called the Muse, to guide us into giving form to our deep wisdom through guided meditation, writing and the creation of a painting using variations of the 13 step process.

Now I continue to explore the landscape of inner space in both its individual and its transpersonal nature as well as continue in the ministry of teaching others to awaken to their own creativity through sharing the Intentional Creativity Philosophy in classes held at Expressive Arts Florida and other venues. In the near future I expect to receive my Certification as a Teacher of Intentional Creativity.

Visionary “Soul Fire” Tending the Nest

Soul Fire Message

Here is her message to me: “You worry too much about outward appearances.  Sure you are older, fatter, grayer, slower but look at you!!  You are also integrated, whole in yourself, beholding to none.  You are wise from life experience – look, you have the scars, wrinkles and gray hairs to prove it.  You have been initiated into the Shaman Sisterhood.  you care about the babies in the nest.  you are alive and vibrant in heart.  I have never seen anyone as resilient as you are.  You will not give up, or give in, or give way when you are inspired.  you vibrate with power and energy and have a great and compassionate heart beneath your gruff exterior.  You are ready to take flight into new horizons so never sell yourself short.  You have an inexhaustible source of energy, ideas, and wisdom to teach and share with others,  You sparkle!  you shine!  you resonate with life and joy!  You are a magnet for others.  They hover about you like moths to a flame.  Seek out the young women.  Seek out the mid-life women.  They have much to learn from you.  Just hold the space.  They will receive.  There is much in flux.  Much is not clear.  But clarity will come.  You know to live one day at a time and all will be well.  The dragon is asleep now.  You are whole.  It is time for you to tend those who are still in the nest.  They have your heart.  They are the future.  You will awaken them from sleep and help them to learn to fly.  You sit in the seat of power.  You wear the crown of rubies..  You are the Queen of Your Domain and you choose your future.  The gifts have been gathered.  The stories have been transformed.  Life from here forward is grace to you and others.  It is yours to give away or to keep.  You have lived your story and become the heroine.  The journey forward is one of offering to the world the fruit of your labor and learning.  you have the sacred keys to the treasury and it is filled with the treasure of a lifetime.  It is yours to spend or give away as you choose.  Just ask and it is yours…When I asked, I was given a long list of possible workshops!!!

 

Talisman: Servant Art Queen

Talisman: Art Queen

Talisman: The Adventure of Your Life

You may not know it, but I have been with you since the beginning. The very beginning. Your parents were very much in love when you were created. They were young and had their whole lives before them. Most of all they wanted a child. Your Dad wanted a boy and your Mom wanted a girl. Your Mom’s wish was granted. Of course your Dad was disappointed. I tried to tell him that there was a great and wonderful reason you were called forth first, but he was young and headstrong. He wasn’t really interested in fluff and frills. He didn’t know you wouldn’t be either! Not then! He would learn.

I recruited your Grandmother’s help in getting your Dad’s attention. She took no guff from him and plopped you in his arms as you were all going home from the hospital. That’s all it took! He was in love! I will have to admit, we were an adorable baby! We were pretty and smart and had a way of charming everyone. Even strangers! At three we manifested our art talent by drawing a beautiful grease pencil mural all over the wall! We were proud. Mom was angry. Your later works were better received.

We were excellent students in school. We always got good grades and received praise from our teachers. Well, there was that one mis-adventure with dance class. We can’t be great at everything! Among the three siblings, you were the star! Your Dad taught you how to throw a baseball and football and how to shoot a bow and arrow and a gun just like your brothers. Your Mom wasn’t as successful in getting you to like cooking and housework. You would rather be reading or drawing in your room or be outside charging around the neighborhood with the rest of the kids. Your parents always thought that sending you to your room was punishment! They were so wrong! It was your magical place where you could read and dream and draw.

It was in middle and high school that our artistic talents really gained prominence. Along with academics, French and band, we loved art class. We began to win school awards for our artworks. You were of two minds about your future. You didn’t know if you wanted to be an artist or a doctor or maybe a lawyer. When you talked to Mom, she said we probably couldn’t afford medical or law school and artists never made any money so maybe I should consider being a nurse or teacher. So that squelched those dreams, at least until we met Kenny.

Ah, Kenny! He was an artist too. He was going to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh! We took the test for AIP too and were accepted. It was decided. Until we visited our aunt and uncle in New Wilmington, PA where Uncle Jack was a student at Westminster College.

What a beautiful place it was! Big stone buildings with ivy covered walls set in a charming farming community in northwestern Pennsylvania, Westminster rekindled our dreams of a college education. We had good SAT scores and if we lived with my aunt and uncle for a semester or two, the college had room in the Art Education program! So bye, bye Art Institute and hello Art Major. It was also bye-bye Kenny and hello Phil.

Freshman Bible class and a handsome, blond boy who sat in front of us. We fell in love with his deep resonant voice first. It didn’t take long to fall for the rest. We set our cap for him, as they said in those days, and even though it took most of four years to do it, we succeeded in winning his heart along with our degree. We married right out of college and moved to Connecticut to begin our careers; Phil’s as an Actuarial Student and ours as an Art Teacher at Windsor Locks High School. We had made it and had it made!

You so loved moving to Connecticut and teaching Art in Windsor Locks High School! You loved being married too. There wasn’t much time for your own art, but teaching others filled the gap. Then came baby Greg and baby Kristen. Teaching went by the wayside and motherhood prevailed. Our art supplies gathered dust in the basement, but life was full and busy. When Greg entered Preschool we went to work as Associate in Christian Education at our church. We went back to school. We used our art again with all ages in church. By the time the children were in grade school we were in Seminary and on our way to an MDiv. At Yale Divinity School.

New friends, new adventures, new work followed our ordination. Our love of art never left, but making art was sporadic. It was painful sometimes not making art, but more painful returning to it and realizing there would be no time to continue to dive into that personal form of creative expression. So we threw our creative energies into sermon writing and program planning. We still used art as much as we could as a learning tool, but it really didn’t quell the nagging feeling that there had to be a way to unite our ministry and art in a more formal way.

The years passed and we discovered that our marriage was not all it seemed to be. There was a fly in the ointment: alcohol. Our husband had become addicted to alcohol. For a decade or more we denied, then embraced the reality of living with an alcoholic. Our son was married and gone. Our daughter struggled with her own problems. In the midst of it all we retired from ministry, moved 3 times and, thankfully re-discovered the power of art to keep and reclaim our sanity in the midst of the chaos of dealing and not dealing with an alcoholic in the family. My pull on you as you Talisman increased as you discovered the healing properties of making art. It didn’t seem to matter to you what the medium was, it served to distract, remind, and fortify you for the challenges of the rest of our life.

I practically did somersaults when you signed up for the Institute program at Expressive Arts Florida! There we were seen, heard and affirmed through our arts process. We met and developed a tribe. We were given language to express what we always knew happened when we made art. We integrated the spiritual nature of arts practice and discovered that we pray in paint when we are mindful! Oh yes, I was so proud of you! You named and claimed your new ministry and were given the title of Shaman by your mentor as you revealed for the group what others held in. That naming was a breakthrough for you. You began to understand there were many facets inside you and that they struggled to get out and be recognized.

One day Phil died in a bike accident on the way to work. Well, it took 5 days, but he died. We had our children and our tribe to support us through that. As devastating as it was, there was also relief. Living with an alcoholic is a nightmare. Life continued and we became the Expressive Arts Pastor at our church! We continued to paint women’s faces in our studio.   We attended a weekend seminar with Pat B. Allen to explore Archetypes and the world shifted once more!

During the program we became the Shaman. She had a name, Tequaneskqua Coeurdelion, and she wore a fedora and a pink feather boa. She plays a frame drum and had a lion as a partner. She makes art, plays her drum, has adventures with Jade the Wonder Dog and changes the world. A year later she became the first painting created with Shiloh Sophia in Legend:Archetype.

In between becoming the Shaman and her reemergence in the Legend painting we sort of forgot her. But she didn’t forget us. We had to close the studio for financial reasons. We took on our daughter’s rehabilitation from her own depression and addictions. We moved – again. But when we first began the Legend painting and the Shaman appeared on the canvas, we knew we had found something extremely important. Years of interest in archetypes, painting women, trying to integrate creativity and spirituality, expressive arts practice, painting practice, ministry, language, healing, writing, all of it came together in the Intentional Creativity process as taught by Shiloh Sophia. We hd found a home.

We took course after course from Shiloh. We finally decided we had to enroll in the Color of Woman Teacher Training. We had changed and grown so much it was imperative we share this with others. People were asking us to teach them even before we signed up! When you began with the Muse, we were plunged into a deep process that uncovered the Core identity we possess as light. We were awed by her beauty. Then came another Legend who pointed to a rainbow, beckoning us onward to you didn’t know what. (Secretly, I knew who was coming but at that time I couldn’t tell!)

Then came Talisman – ME! And here I am in all my glory. Here I am as the Servant Art Queen! Yes, the servant part is critical. You found the Art Queen part of my name months ago as you searched for a new password for something or other. You laughed to yourself as you typed it out. “Art Queen! Ha, Ha!” Well it may sound silly but I’ve waited a long time to be put on the throne of your life, my girl. I’ve waited to be the most important thing. I’ve waited a loooonnnngggg time for this recognition and I’m loving it!

To be a Servant is to place ourselves in the role of healer. We exist, not to put us above others, but to serve them. To help others heal and discover their purpose and their creativity and their connection to the Divine. We have healed our own divisions and wounds symbolized by the dragonet. We have studied and worked and paid our dues in several disciplines as can be seen by the diploma, eye glasses and the 9 keys. We have discovered the centrality of connection to the Divine as well as others through art as seen in the Chalice and the palette and brushes. We now have the ability to access our own content as witnessed by the lightbeam pouring into our head. We also have the ability to walk between worlds seen and unseen as indicted by the veil. I am pleased and proud to reveal myself to you at long last. I am your Integrated Self, your Talisman. We are One.

We will go forward from this time to cause and create healing in others using the wisdom we have gained in our lives and by sharing what we have learned of the power of Intentional Creativity. We are actively teaching now toward the end of establishing a Wisdom School where women of all ages my persue their understanding of their strength, courage and purpose in life through the use of the arts. We will dedicate our life to this as long as we are in this world together. Yes. We. Will.

Red Thread Circle 2- 20 Line Face

My Second Red Thread Circle

Last night I presented at Expressive Arts Florida’s monthly networking event.  I offered to teach a short session on drawing the 20 line face.  I decided to open the session with a Red Thread Circle.  We had 22 women present.  After introductions were made and we shared upcoming events and recent accomplishments, it was my time to present.

I opened by reading one of Shiloh’s poems from “Tea with the Midnight Muse” then introduced the Red Thread Circle as a ritual of connection, connecting us as people who want to draw a face, as artist’s, Expressive artists and women.  I told a couple  stories of the Red Thread and that as we passed it around the circle we would respond to an inquiry.  Since we were there to draw faces the inquiry was, “What have you faced today?”  This was met with deep sighs.  Since this was to be a brief version of the RT Circle I asked them to limit their responses to a word or short phrase. As the thread was passed each woman shared and even though it was only a word or phrase, it was profound.  We were bonded in new ways by hearing each other’s pain, concern, and worry that we carried with us into the circle.  We breathed into that in silence.  Then I moved to cutting the thread.  I said that each of is only responsible for our part of this thread, but when needed we can tug on the thread for strength and support from others.  They affirmed this as we cut the threads in silence.

Then we moved into the 20 line face demo.  After talking about Shiloh and IC and my training, I had them follow along with me and make full and 3/4 profile 20 line faces.  We held them up and laughed and admired each person’s faces.  Then I added some simple, playful color explaining how we would use acrylics in a 13 step class.  We had oil pastels available for everyone to color.  the room got quiet and they got intense.  I hadnt planned on it, but since we had time, I invited them to listen to their face to see if she had a name and anything to share about herself and to write it down.  It got very quiet.  Then I invited anyone who wished to show their face drawing, give her name, and share her message.  They were beautiful and profound.

I have done this kind of work for a very long time yet I was amazed by the depth of experience we had in this simple experience.