Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Leonard Cohen in North Carolina

I am going to see Leonard Cohen live in concert in Durham, NC tonight! I am very excited.

Leonard Cohen was not known in South Africa and I was only recently introduced to his music by my 19 year old daughter who shares my love of listening to Leonard sing. Amy and I are going to the concert together.

My favorite Cohen quote is:

"Ring the bells that can still ring.
Forget the perfect offering.
There's a crack in everything,
that's how the light gets in."

My favorite song is "Dance me to the End of Love"

And this is Leonard in 1970 at a Woodstock style concert on the Isle of Wight. It is amazing that 39 years later, at the age of 75 he is still performing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Studio through Laurel's eyes

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting another SoulCollage facilitator, Laurel Aston, who lives in San Francisco for two nights. As I know Laurel enjoys the same things I do I decided to let her stay in my Studio as I thought she would enjoy being surrounded by creativity. Laurel shared with me photos she had taken of my Studio as if you were walking into it for the first time and I love them so I'm sharing them for those of you that don't live close enough to come for a cup of tea in my Studio!

This is my favorite photo - the Studio as seen from the labyrinth!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Omega Experience

I've just returned from the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY after eleven days of immersion in experiential learning. The Omega campus is really beautiful. This photo of the lake was taken on my way to early morning meditation.

I attended a weekend workshop with Lynn Robinson on Intuition which was a very practical class. Lynn is the author of Divine Intuition, Trust Your Gut, and has a new book called Listen coming out in December. We are all more intuitive than we give ourselves credit for! As Lynn says: "When you listen to the whispers of your soul and take small steps forward, a new dream emerges. You have access to the gift of divine intuition to guide you to the fulfillment of that dream. Each time you ask for guidance and act on the wisdom you receive, you align your mind with the mind of God; you tap into a stream of conscious guidance that is divine intuition."

I then attended a seven day intensive "Insight and Opening" workshop facilitated by Jack Kornfield and Dr. Stanislav Grof. The focus of this workshop was on meditation and breathwork. This workshop has made me more aware of the importance of the breath in everything we do and how the breath connects us to greater consciousness.

I think it takes time for new learning to settle into one's body and so I am allowing myself to slowly process all that I learnt.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Keeper of the Wild

I have been reading the biography of Ernest Oberholtzer called "Keeper of the Wild" written by Joe Paddock. Ernest Oberholtzer is the man who created the Mallard Island sanctuary. I am fascinated with the life of this quiet man who was able to make a real difference in the world without access to a large supply of money. He was very involved in the passing of legislation to preserve our wilderness areas. And of course, I can't help but admire someone who loved books like I do. There are around 12,000 beautiful old books in the library and rooms of Mallard.

I've been making a series of cards with my photographs of Mallard Island and quotes by "Ober" to donate to the Oberholtzer Foundation as a small way to show my gratitude for the opportunity to spend time on Mallard Island. This is one of the cards. I took this photo early one morning as the sun was rising over the water. I hope I get to spend more time there. You really can live deep surrounded by trees and water.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What we notice

A daily poem from Panhala is delivered to my inbox every day. Recently this was the daily poem

life is a garden,
not a road

we enter and exit
through the same gate

where we go matters less
than what we notice.

The poem is attributed to Bokonon from "The Lost Book".

As a photographer noticing things has become a practice that I strive to incorporate in everything I do and so this poem struck a cord with me.

And today, as I slowly walked my labyrinth, which is another of my daily practices, I noticed that I entered and exited the labyrinth through the same entrance. I had always thought of the labyrinth as a metaphor for the journey of life and this poem made me see this more clearly. Life is made up of cycles and being present to notice my life is more important than rushing through it - as Henry Canby says "Live deep instead of fast". But how to get all those exciting creative projects done before my time is up? I wish I knew how to balance these two aspects of my life - I want them both!

Recently there was an article on Labyrinths in Charlotte Woman magazine's August edition. There is an interview with me on pages 24 and 25.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My last post was in February, it is now September, six months later. My excuse? I've needed time away from the computer. I've needed to make the time and take the time to get my hands full of paint, to walk my labyrinth and feel the wet grass beneath my feet. I've needed to have time to play with fabric, enjoying it's texture, finding ways to use it in new projects. Time to just "listen to the trees whispering and think no thoughts" as Anne Hillman so perfectly writes.

This need was confirmed this past week when I spent a week on Mallard Island in Rainy Lake, Minnesota. I realized just how much I love being surrounded by water and how much easier it was to connect to my essence without the phone ringing, emails to reply to and the constant noise of the world revolving around me.

The island is the legacy of Ernest Oberholzer, one of the original pioneers of saving the wilderness areas of our nation. "Ober" as he is fondly known, said it perfectly: "Man was made for broad scenes and tall shadows. He craves a noble background. Cramp him, and he revolves in an ever narrowing circle, until finally he doubts his own destiny. The song goes out of his heart."

This week was a gift to my soul and a reminder to spend more time surrounded by nature.

"There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story."
Linda Hogan

But I think I'll also be making time to record my journey again. It helps me to see more clearly.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Daily Dose of Wonder

We could all do with a daily dose of wonder. I have been a follower of Jill Badonsky since I discovered her book "Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard)". I created visual cards for each of the Muses based on SoulCollage® and the Muses have been my best buddies ever since!

So when Jill's new book, "The Awe-Manac", was published I ordered it immediately. It is choc-a-block full of daily soul vitamins, awe-servances, journal juju, doses of mirth, creativity prompts and more. A page for each day of the year.

Today, the Toast of the Day is: "Here's to wise older women who are not afraid to speak their minds."

And today the Subliminal Message Brought to You by the Kindness Potion is: "The Dalai Lama said, "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." What's one small way you can carry out the religion of the Dalai Lama today or tomorrow.
Recently I became a certified by Jill to teach her Modern Day Muse workshop which is one of my favorite classes. Each week for ten weeks we immerse ourselves in one of the Muses, hear what the Muse has to say to us and then make a SoulCollage card to remind us of the Muse. We then let the Muse card write us a letter reminding us of all the wonderful things we are when we are truly listening to our creative souls.

Jill kindly agreed to answer a couple of difficult questions I posed to her on creativity. I've been living a creative life and have studied every book I can find on the subject for years now, so the questions I had were areas where I really needed help. I've posted my questions and Jill's answers here so you can benefit from them too.

When you have a wonderful dream, like writing a book, where do you start, and how do you ensure that you keep moving forward with the project, when it is something that will take a couple of years to complete.

Good question! First, I've learned not to expect the dream to be a linear process. My process was all over the place. An illustration here, a quote there, a splurge of writing now and then, another illustration, a trip to Costa Rica, a few losses, a few triumphs, another quote, a buffet in Las Vegas, another splurge of writing.. you know, like that.
Making sure I kept everything so I could find it when it was time to compile the book was important. It was also important for the project to be fun.. something I might do for myself and my friends even if it didn't get published. It is so satisfying watching it grow and letting go of any kind of expectation of how it's supposed to look.

Having a deadline for both my books helped a lot. Working on other projects as well as continuing to compile ideas kept me going on one project for a number of years because it was not my only focus.

How do you protect your own creative time. I find it hard to say no to requests when I don’t have any other commitments on my calendar except those to myself and my creative projects.

Give your creative time a promotion and a raise– make it as important as requests from others. It's sacred and necessary. Embody the tenacious personality of a rebellious, self-determined artist who is adamant about protecting her creative time even if it means saying no to a bunch of people who are unhappy that you did. It's part of your license and requirements as an artist to do this. It also good role-modeling for others.

Or mark your creative time on your calendar as if it were a class and make it a class with yourself. I mark down my creative time and "ruthlessly protect" it. Sometimes I make a time with a buddy so both of us are working in our separate spaces at the same time. That gives that time more importance, structure and likely follow-through. I invented a Bodyguard to go with the nine modern day Muses in my first book in order to summon up our protective powers. If we are creative, engaging in our creativity is vital to our optimal functioning in all areas of our life.

What is the one most powerful thing one can do to create on a regular basis?

Make it a fun habit. Show up almost everyday even if it's just for 5 minutes. Remember how good it felt when you engaged in your creativity before. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.

How can we find more hours in the day to create as well as keep up with the admin involved in teaching, putting your work in exhibitions and shops!

We can stop watching as much TV. We can use the moments that we wait or shower or drive or walk to be thinking about our creativity and understand that this time is important for preparation and percolation. We can let go of doing things so perfectly and let go of doing some things… period. Creativity is what makes our eyes flash with brilliance, our blood course with our veins with gladness and our hearts come alive with joy. When we are in our creative bliss we are better for every other aspect of our lives and for everyone in our lives.
It's a balancing act for sure, but in each moment, ask your intuition what would make sense. We often know more than we give ourselves credit for.

Thank you, Jill!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

With Gratitude for Barbara

You are the one who listens to others;
you are the one who cares deeply about others;
you are the one who is always kind;
you are the one whose presence brings calm joy;
you are the one who is thoughtful and deep;
you are the one who is gentle;
you are the one who encourages others.
You are missed,
your spirit will always be remembered.
Thank you for touching my life.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Muse "Spills"

This week we played with the Muse "Spills". Spills is the Muse of Practice, Process and Imperfection and Spills reminds us that "If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything" and "with practice you will get better at anything. It's a universal law." I love Spills - he gives me permission to do things badly, and after a while of doing things badly the universal law ensures that I improve.

Kerry made the most wonderful Spills card in class. Have a look at Spills on Kerry's blog.

These Muses are based on Jill Badonsky's book "The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard), and I will be interviewing Jill about the creative process and posting the interview on my blog next week. Her new book "The Awe-Manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder" is also an inspiration.


Recently I have been keeping myself busy preparing for two exhibitions. My series entitled "Children of Ixopo: Hope and Survival in a Time of AIDS" is on display at WCNC-Channel 36 in their entrance area. They will be on display until March 4th.

The other is an exhibition at Mint Hill Arts which opened this evening to a great crowd. I'll be gallery sitting on Thursday and will take some photos then.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Labyrinth under the Full Moon

A week or so ago we had a beautiful full moon so I grabbed my camera and went outside to photography my labyrinth under the full moon. You can just see the stones reflected on the ground. It really felt magical. If it hadn't been so cold I would have done a moonlight labyrinth walk!

If you are interested in learning more about labyrinths here are some interesting websites:

The Labyrinth
101 Ways to Use a Labyrinth
History of Labyrinths

"Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path... exactly where you are meant to be right now... And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love."
Caroline Adams

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Muse Aha-Phrodite

This week we played with the Muse Aha-Phrodite, the Muse of Paying Attention and Possibilities. She is one of my favorites because she reminds me that anything is possible. I find it interesting that in my card she is a young child. Children are so much more open to wonder. One of the tips that Aha-Phrodite gives us is to keep a notebook with you at all times to record all those Aha! moments.
I'm excited to report that Jill Badonsky , the author of The Nine Day Modern Muses (and a Bodyguard) is going to visit my blog in February and I get to ask her five questions regarding the creative process - so if you have any questions you'd like to ask just let me know and I'll pass them on.

"The function of art is to renew our perception.
What we are familiar with we cease to see."
Anais Nin

Friday, January 16, 2009


The internet allows us to share and connect with people we might never otherwise have met. For a couple of years Louie Shellenberger has been participating in the Photo Art Journals group that I host. Her photographs are always amazing and she has been the one who keeps the list of journals we have done updated and photos of the journals posted. I always forget to do this, so I'm really grateful for the help. Recently she told me she was flying from Whitbey Island in Washington State via Charlotte to visit her parents in Akron, Ohio for their 70th Wedding Anniversary - yes, 70th!! Well, I couldn't let Louie pass through Charlotte without meeting her, so on Thursday morning I left home early before the morning traffic so we could have an hour or so together before Louie's connecting flight. It was so wonderful to meet her at last (and her son Cory)!

For the last two years Louie has been taking a photo a day and posting them to her blog! I tried this once and couldn't even do it for a month, so I am in awe of this feat.

I am so grateful for the wonderful art community that I have found on the internet!

I gather inspiration from many people I have never met, such as this photo-a-day for a month project.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Photographing Water Droplets

I'm part of a collaborative journal project with a friend in Washington State and this weekend was working on her journal, the theme of which is Reflection, Refraction, Diffraction, Glories! I was attempting to photograph reflections in water droplets. It didn't work out quite as I anticipated but this photograph from the series made me think of the solar system and reminded me of the amazing beauty and wonder of the world we live in.

"When time comes for us to again rejoin the infinite stream of water flowing to and from the great timeless ocean, our little droplet of soulful water will once again flow with the endless stream."
William E. Marks

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Playing with the Muses

I've just started teaching a ten week workshop combining SoulCollage® and the book "The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard)" by Jill Badonsky. Each week we get to know a new Muse and explore what they have to offer and then we make a SoulCollage® card representing the Muse. This week we spent time discovering "Arnold" who is the Bodyguard. You can see from my card that my Bodyguard is a wise old man, but it could be an animal or a female bodyguard. The Bodyguard protects you from the criticism of others as well as you own inner critic and encourages you to believe in yourself.

Jill has recently written a new book called "The Awe-Manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder" which sits next to my bed for daily inspiration. Jill offered a free teleconference call this week which I dialled into. I am so glad I did. I loved the exercises Jill gave us, especially one where we took the beginning of a song title and finished it with our own words (the words Jill gave us were "Echoes of ......."). My new titles will make perfect names for my photographs and the timing was just right as I am putting together a body of work for a photography exhibition in February.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Walking the Labyrinth

"It is solved by walking."
Saint Augustine

To celebrate the completion of my labyrinth I had two days of Open Studio to share my labyrinth with my friends.

There are layers upon layers of meaning in the ancient tool of the labyrinth. But the best way to learn about the labyrinth is to walk one.

So that is one of the pleasures I have - walking the labyrinth whenever I feel called to do so (especially when the weather is beautiful - like today).

Thanks to my yoga teacher, Mohit, for taking this photograph. I was too busy with all the guests and I'm grateful to have these visual reminders.

However, after it was all over I had time to take this Christmas view of my studio.