Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sunset over Glow-Worm Pond

One of my dreams is to one day live where I can see the sun set every day.  There is something about acknowledging the end of the day by taking time to watch the sun move below the horizon that speaks to me.  It seems like a good way to be present to the passing of time and to the beauty of nature, and seems like a perfect time to give thanks for the privilege of being alive at this time and in this place.

Last weekend my husband and I were fortunate enough to be invited to visit the farm of a Joe and Hilda Madaras in Peachland, NC.  Joe and Hilda have created a beautiful haven with trails through the woods, ponds with inviting places to stop and sit, and they get to watch the sun set every day over their pond from their home.

The sunset looks different every day.  A spectacular sunset depends on clouds in the sky.  But even when there are no clouds the jewel tones water-colored across the sky make you stop and want to breathe in amazement at the art of nature.

After our walk around the farm we sat snugly inside as the sun journeyed below the horizon.  Looking through the window I was greeted by the lights of Joe and Hilda's Christmas tree reflected on the glass door adding even more magic to the end of the day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Live Each Day as a Work of Art

"What would it be like if you lived each day, each breath, as a work of art in progress?
Imagine that you are a masterpiece unfolding, every second of every day, 
a work of art taking form with every breath.
Thomas Crum

What would you do each day if your life were a work of art in progress?  Think about it.  Because your life is a work of art.  You create your life with each breath you breathe, with every thought you think, with every action you take.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Los Dias de Los Mertos


I spent some time in Mexico recently and was privileged to be there for the Days of the Dead celebrations. This is an interesting celebration for someone who comes from a culture where we do not have an annual holiday that encourages us to remember and honor those close to us who have died.

The Mexicans believe that people die three deaths: The first is when our bodies cease to function; the second is when our body is returned to the ground and the third is when there is no-one left alive to remember us.

Therefore Los Dias de Los Mertos is important because it is a time for remembering friends, family and ancestors. To do this altars are prepared with photographs of loved ones, flowers, candles, favorite foods and drinks. It is a time to transform grief into acceptance and invite the spirits of those departed to return home for a few hours.

Creating my altar was a soulful experience. I placed a photograph of my father, who died when he was the age I am now, in the center. Around him I placed photographs of my grandparents. It felt very healing sitting in meditation with my memories of these people who were so important in my life.

The marigold is the most traditional flower used at this time. The fragrance of the marigolds leads the spirits home and so one creates paths of marigold petals to your front door to show the spirits where to come. I know it was comforting to me to be able to honor my ancestors in this way and to feel that they were close to me. It felt like the veil between worlds was indeed thin when I awoke in the morning and saw the sun shining through the door on the pathway of marigolds petals.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Following his Curiosity and Intuition

Steve Jobs shows us how following our curiosity and intuition and trusting what happens to us makes our lives rich and meaningful - but only after the event. At the time it can be frightening. He reminds us that our time is limited - so make sure that you love what you do and follow your heart. He says: "Have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become." And his advice to the Stanford graduates? "Stay hungry. Stay foolish." Thank you Steve for sharing from your heart and for following your intuition.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Image Mandalas

Recently I had to write a paper for my studies with Wisdom University for a workshop in which I participated called Moving Toward Wholeness.  The paper was on the work of Stan and Christina Grof and Holotrophic Breathwork.  At the end of Holotrophic Breathwork sessions participants are often asked to draw mandalas, as a way to ground the experience and express it in a non-verbal way.  According to Heita Copony in the book "Mystery of Mandalas"
“A spontaneously painted mandala might carry messages from the psyche into our conscious awareness, sometimes with a clarity that could never be produced by our ordinary consciousness.”   
Since writing this paper I have been looking for a way to create mandalas with my photographs.

This past weekend one of the talented photographers attending my photography retreat showed us the amazing mandalas she had created with her photographs. This led me on search of the internet to see if there was any easy software available to create mandalas.  I didn't find any, but I found a great tutorial which guided me in making this mandala out of an image of daisies in a glass jar. It took some time and the colors are brighter than those I usually work with (I just picked the first image that I saw on the screen to work with), but it feels like magic when you see the final result. 

I know I'll be making more mandalas.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Everyday Art Supplies

It is amazing how many art supplies you have lying around your house.  Recently I had to submit a page for a collaborative art journal with the theme of Black and White. I find the way I get inspiration for a new project is to gather up anything I find that speaks to the theme.  And this is how I discovered that I could collect plenty of black and white papers merely by collecting old security envelopes which would usually end up in the recycling box.  The insides of the envelopes are covered with many different, interesting black and white designs.  So black paper, a white pen and security envelopes allowed me to create my page for our collaborative journal.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Meinrad Craighead: Praying with Images

Meinrad Craighead: Praying with Images Preview from Amy Kellum on Vimeo.

In this extract from Meinrad Craighead's video, she says: "If I didn't paint, I wouldn't know where I was in the universe."  This really resonated with me, and is the reason I am drawn to photography.  It enables me to understand my place on this earth.  It allows me to connect with something larger which speaks to me of my relationship to the natural world and everything in it.  Creating in a mindful way is a prayer of gratitude - gratitude for the gift of our senses with which we can experience the beauty of the world.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Seeking the Shapes

Triangles and Circles were the themes for the Photo Art Journals this month.  I had no trouble finding circles in many different and unexpected places, but triangles seemed to evade me.  So I resorted to creating my own.  I found an instruction video on how to make a paper boat - something I had never done before - and created my own paper boat.  I then floated it in my bird bath and managed to see at least eight triangles in the resulting photograph - as well as circles of light.  I love how challenges such as needing to photograph a specific theme help me grow my abilities in small ways - now I know how to make a paper boat, and all because I had to find triangles to photograph! 

"These paper boats of mine are meant to dance on the ripples of hours, and not reach any destination."
Rabindranath Tagore

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Evolutionary Creativity

I have just spent a week with Jan Phillips.  It has been a week of magic as Jan shared her ideas on Evolutionary Creativity, and I have felt myself grow and expand in possibility. Jan reminded us that we are here to empower each other and that we are co-creating our planet.  To this end Evolutionary Creativity is creation connected to the Divine, the Source; it is for the healing of the people and the planet and it inspires others to create and to act.  We are all Serving Artists using every day and every way to be the Light we came here to experience.

One of the practices Jan shared with us was that of writing our own Creed. A creed is a statement of belief, originating from the Latin word "credo" meaning "I believe".  Jan's Artist's Creed can be found in her book Marry Your Muse, and is a powerful reminder of what an artist needs to remember.  In our workshop we each shared our one-line Creeds.  I wrote: I believe that everyone is blessed when we express our creativity in the world.

In an attempt to put into words what has been awakened in this week of rich, deep learning, I wrote a prayer.

Creator of Life and Light,
May I remember that I am a spark of your light;
May I live in awareness of the beauty around me;
May the love within me express itself through me;
May I live with my eyes wide open in wonder;
May I share the magic I experience each day;
May I connect to the essence of those around me;
May I be open like a flower to the rain;
And may I be both an expression of peace and passion in the world.

What do you believe?  What is the first line of your Creed?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Visual Art Journaling and Playing

I really believe that play is an important part of our lives.  Yes, even when we are all grown up.  But can you remember the last time you played?  Plato said: Life should be lived as play.  Can you imagine what your life might look like if you lived it as play instead of as work?  I often refer to my studio as my "playroom" and I believe everyone needs a place to play.  If you don't agree, have a look at the research done by Stuart Brown in his book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.

And if that doesn't persuade you perhaps Bernard Shaw will.  He said "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."  For example, try skipping instead of walking and see if that doesn't make you feel younger!

Last weekend six creative women came and played in my studio and created amazing journal pages by playing on the page with paints, paper, image and word.  Here are just a couple of images from the workshop. Thank you Jodi, Janet, Debra, Linda, Eileen and Janet for letting me share them, even though I know some of them are still in process. 

Journal cover by Janet Jones
Journal cover by Debra Bridges
Journal cover by Linda Hartzig
Journal cover by Eileen Orlowski
Journal cover by Jodi Helmer
Journal page by Janet Hince

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


One of the photographers in the Drawing with Light retreat, Carol Trull, gave me permission to share her photographs. It seems that Carol really connected with the energy of the place where the retreat was held which is called The Light Center

The word photography comes from the Greek and means drawing with light, so this was truly a perfect venue for the retreat.  And Carol truly recorded the essence of light in this image. The Light Center is "dedicated to helping you expand awareness of your inner light and to pray more effectively", so light was in and around us in many ways.  The dictionary defines light as "the energy producing a sensation of brightness that makes seeing possible" and as "God as a source of spiritual illumination and strength" - both of which applied in this weekend retreat on photography as a spiritual practice.

When visiting The Light Center you are generously given a package of information about the Center which includes the seven steps of effective prayer which are:

1.  I release all of my past, negatives, fears, human relationships, self-image, future, human desires and judgments to the Light.

2.  I am a Light Being.

3.  I radiate the Light from my Light Center throughout my being.

4.  I radiate the Light from my Light Center to everyone.

5.  I radiate the Light from my Light Center to everything.

6.  I am in a bubble of Light and only Light can come to me and only Light can be here.

7.  Thank you God for everyone, for everything, and for me.

And Carol also made this amazing image of butterflies.  In ancient Greek the word for butterfly is psyche, which translated means soul.  Truly a soulful weekend in a soulful place.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Time to Unfurl

This past weekend was spent in Black Mountain, North Carolina with a wonderful group of ten women.  My intention was to give them time to unfurl their creative wings with their cameras.  And they did more than that.  They let nature speak to them and listened and recorded the images nature gave them.  Butterflies, dragonflies, water, flowers, dandelions and more offered themselves to be photographed.  On one of our walks we were escorted by butterflies on both sides of the path down to the river.  And the butterflies even posed for us. Nature re-connects us with the sacred in everything.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Turtle Energy

The morning of spirit circle hosted by Mary Lemons in my studio, my husband found this baby turtle in the garden.  So small and so perfect.  Last time Mary was here the deer came to visit.  I am always filled with gratitude when the animals let me know they are here to support us.

In the book Animal Spirit Guides we are told that if turtle shows up, it means, among other things, that this is a period of increased sensitivity to the earth's vibrations and those of the collective human consciousness.  Also that it is time to nurture yourself, to slow down and pace yourself.  It is suggested that we spend a few hours in solitude, away from noise and people.  I think this is guidance we can all relate to.  Time away from the usual fast-pace of life allows us to absorb and make sense of what's been happening in our lives.

The turtle joined us for spirit circle in his own little box and after everyone had left I found a safe place for him in the garden outside the studio.  I checked on him in the morning and he was still hiding under the foliage.  But by midday he had moved on. As the saying goes: "Behold the turtle.  He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out." 

Perhaps he was reminding me that working slowly and steadily toward my next project (online classes) and enjoying the journey is more important than feeling the need to rush towards completion.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Our Words

I've just completed binding and getting ready the latest collaborative book done by the Photo Art Journals Yahoo group which I moderate. For this book I asked members to decide on a word to name their year which would help them focus their intention for the year ahead.

What would their lives look like if they embraced and lived this word daily?

And then ... they had to creatively photograph their word!  I then had fun creating a Wordle out of all the intention words that were chosen which I used as the cover for the book.

Thanks to the wonderfully creative members of this group for making this such an enjoyable project for me to put together.  You came up with some great ideas!

Here are links to photographs created for this collaborative book by some of the participants.  I love reading about their process of deciding on the word they chose.
Karen Dorcas in Alaska.
Louie Shellenberger
Paul Bogdan

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Mystic Path: Unitive Vision

Unitive Vision is the final stage of the mystic path. The best description I can find of what this is, is from Meister Eckhart, a 14th Century German mystic.  He says: "If I am to know God directly, I must become completely He and He I: so that this He and this I become and are one I."

If I consider the dark night that comes before this stage of union as a time of germination, then perhaps this stage is one of re-birth into a new reality.

To try and understand this more fully I once again looked to the mystical poets and Hafiz (as translated by Daniel Ladinsky) once again gave guidance:


The Seed Cracked Open

It used to be
That when I would wake in the morning
I could with confidence say,
"What am 'I' going to

that was before the seed
Cracked open.

Now Hafiz is certain:

There are two of us housed
In this body,

Doing the shopping together in the market and
Tickling each other
While fixing the evening's food.

Now when I awake
All the internal instruments play the same music:

"God, what love-mischief can 'We' do
For the world

Does my SoulCollage® card have any wisdom for me?

Take it one step at a time.
The way is always clear.
Let light guide your path towards the Light.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Mystic Path: Dark Night of the Soul

Most of us have experienced the "dark night of the soul" in one form or another.  Mystics are as human as the rest of us and also experience times of deep sadness and fatigue when nothing seems meaningful or even makes sense and when one feels abandoned. But it appears that this period of the "dark night" also is a period of growth.

St. John of the Cross, who is most well known for the phrase "the dark night of the soul" talked about it as a "passive purification, a state of helpless misery, in which the self does nothing, but lets Life have its way with her".

It seems to me that if I think of this stage of growth and discovery as similar to that of a seed in the deep darkness of the soil.  Essential expansion is taking place within, even though from without it doesn't look as important as the more exciting phases of budding and blooming.  Perhaps this is a time of "gestation of the soul".

And the wisdom from my card?

I am the one who waits patiently in the dark allowing the sadness and despair to wash over me.
I am the one who knows that there is no light without darkness.
I am the one who is growing wings in my darkness, although I am not aware of them sprouting.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Mystic Path: Ecstasy and Rapture

According to Evelyn Underhill's study of the mystical path, ecstasy is "an exceptionally favorable state; the one in which man's spirit is caught up to the most immediate union with the divine". I come closest to understanding this state through the poetry of some of the mystical poets, such as Rumi, Hafiz, St. John of the Cross and St. Catherine of Siena.  The absolute joy and connectedness they feel with the Divine appears to lift them to a higher state of being.

One of the most amazing collections of these poems is found in the book Love Poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky. Each poem speaks profoundly to connection, not just by the poets to God, but to all of creation.

I have chosen this poem by Hafiz from the book I Heard God Laughing, (also translated by Daniel Ladinsky) because it speaks to me of the deep connection of the mystic to God in all things.

I Am So Glad

Start seeing everything as God,
But keep it a secret.

Become like a man who is Awestruck
And Nourished

Listening to a Golden Nightingale
Sing in a beautiful foreign language
While God invisibly nests
Upon its tongue.

Who can you tell in this world
That when a dog runs up to you
Wagging its ecstatic tail,
You lean down and whisper in its ear,

I am so glad You are happy to see me.

I am so glad,
So very glad You have come."

And so what does my SoulCollage® card say to me?

I am the one who has the wings to fly into the encircling arms of all creation. 
I am the one who rides the wild horses of joy, going wherever they lead, knowing that all is well.
I am the one who opens up and says "I am here.  I am waiting."

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Mystic Path: Contemplation and Introversion

We live in a world where time for contemplation and inner listening do not happen unless we consciously make time to be quiet.  Often this means saying "no" to friends and family and hoping they will understand that the time you make for yourself is just as important as time you give to them. 

This was said a little differently in the Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer: "I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself."  When I first read these words I thought they had been written incorrectly.  Surely the author meant to write "....if you can disappoint yourself to be true to another."  Surely one should always put other people first? Wasn't it selfish disappointing others?  It took me quite some time to understand the true meaning of this line.  It is about being true to your Soul.

I believe that turning inwards doesn't need to be meditation.  It can be sitting on the side of a stream fishing, lying watching the clouds go by, reading spiritual literature, sitting on the beach watching the waves and digging your bare feet into the sand, walking a labyrinth. For the mystics it was a way to God. Angela of Foligno says that through contemplation "the eyes of her soul were opened".

My SoulCollage® card says to me:
Make time to align your soul with the cycles of nature.  They are your teachers.  Let the moon speak to you.  Let the trees speak to you.  Unless you listen with careful attention you will not hear what they are saying.  You too are part of these cycles, and time in quiet is to you what the soil is to a seed and what the soil is to the roots of the tree.  It nourishes and feeds at a deep level and is necessary for growth.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Mystic Path: Voices and Visions

This is an interesting stage to consider as it is a stage where some might think the mystic has in fact gone mad. Evelyn Underhill suggests that visions and voices are to the mystic what pictures, poems and musical compositions are to the great painter, poet or musician, and that they are messengers which speak to all the senses, not only sight and hearing.

It seems to me that dreams are a form of vision, and the voice that Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love heard telling her to "Go back to bed, Liz" was real to Elizabeth.  But of course, this doesn't mean that anyone that dreams or feels guided is a mystic.  It is just interesting to note that voices and visions are not as unusual as one would imagine.

Eileen Caddy, one of the founders of the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland, in the book Weavers of Wisdom: Women Mystics of the Twentieth Century by Anne Bancroft says this about voices:

"You know if you start hearing voices and you're having a difficult time, you begin to wonder if you're going to end up in a mental hospital.  I thought I was having a breakdown, quiet honestly.  But that's the way it started, over thirty years ago, and I've been living by that voice ever since.  And that's what my life has been all about.  Listening, and not only listening but following it through."

"Listen, listen, listen," the voice said to her.  "To become a good listener you have to listen often.  You have to spend time in absolute stillness and learn to be."

So what did my SoulCollage® card representing this stage of the mystic path say to me?

I am the one who exists between earth and spirit.
I am the one who is all around you and always available when you need guidance.
I am the one who can show you your magic if you just look up and look within.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Mystic Path: Illumination

Illumination is the third stage of the path of the mystic. According to Evelyn Underhill to "see God in nature" and be conscious of the "otherness" of natural things is the most common form of illumination. Beauty inspires illumination and the state of illumination results in the expression of love and rapture, such as one finds in mystical poetry.

Poets such as William Blake, John Keats, Rumi, Hafiz and in my opinion, Mary Oliver share with us the discoveries they make when they feel close to the Divine. The artistic form is the best way to communicate the goodness, truth and beauty that the mystic is opened to in the state of illumination.

The following poems/extracts illustrate this for me.

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
John Keats

"To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."
William Blake 

The beauty of the heart
is the lasting beauty:
its lips give to drink
of the water of life.
Truly it is the water,
that which pours,
and the one who drinks.
All three become one when 
your talisman is shattered.
That oneness you can't know
by reasoning.

"I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world."
Mary Oliver

And as I let my SoulCollage® card speak to me, it says:

I am the one who receives illumination into my very core.
I am the one who basks in the light shining down on me.
I am the one who feeds on the beauty of the world around me.
I am the one who is infused with the pure joy of existence.

What poems remind you of your connectedness to All Life, a connectedness that makes you feel fully alive?

The Mystic Path: Purification

The second stage of the path of the mystic is Purification.  For some mystics, such as Clare of Assisi, this meant giving up all worldly possessions and living in poverty.  Richard of St. Victor said that it was self-simplification.  Evelyn Underwood calls it "the drastic turning of the self from the unreal to the real life ... an orientation of the mind to Truth."

I like the idea of simplification as it is something that I can relate to.  It reminds me of the Zen saying:
My house has burned down.
Now I can see the moon more clearly.
It is so easy to be distracted by the things we acquire that demand our time and attention.

This is my SoulCollage® card representing the stage of purification. 
Who are you?  I ask the card.
It responds:
I am the one who is purified by the power of water.
I am the one who is intent on focusing on the light of the Divine.
I am the one knows that for new beginnings to arise I need to let go of that which no longer serves me.
I am the one who sees the beauty in the process of offering myself for purification.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Mystic Path: Awakening

Going through my notes from Jean Houston's workshop on Women Mystics, and reviewing the journey of a mystic, I thought it would be a great idea to create SoulCollage® cards to represent the stages of the mystical path.  As I am a visual person I find image really grounds information I am learning in a meaningful way.  But my SoulCollage® cards were, as usual, ahead of me, and I found that many of the cards I was inspired to make shortly before I left for the workshop already spoke of the stages of the mystic path (which according to Evelyn Underhill in her book Mysticism are Awakening, Purification, Illumination, Voices and Visions, Contemplation, Ecstasy and Rapture, Dark Night of the Soul and Unitive Vision).

This card speaks to me of Awakening, which is the stage in which the mystic begins to have absolute knowing of his connection to the Divine.

"It was like entering into another world, a new state of existence.  Natural objects were glorified.  My spiritual vision was so clarified that I saw beauty in every material object in the universe." (Underhill, page 132)

This card says to me:
I am the one who is open to the beauty of everything around me.
I am the one who is ready to be cracked open.
I am the one who is held safely in the ancient hands of Divine Love.
I am the one who has wings to make the journey.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Journey to Mystical Creativity

I have returned from a week at the Garrison Institute in Garrison, NY attending a Wisdom University intensive on "Women Mystics and the Journey to Mystical Creativity" taught by Jean Houston and Peggy Rubin.

We were immersed in the history and work of well-known mystics who included Emily Dickinson, Florence Nightingale, Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, Mirabai, Lalla, Hildegard of Bingen.

We talked about the stages of the mystical path as discerned by Evelyn Underhill in her book, Mysticism.  These stages are Awakening, Purification, Illumination, Voices and Visions, Contemplation and Introversion, Ecstasy and Rapture, Dark Night of the Soul and Unitive Vision..  We explored these all in poetry, dance, a zen water ceremony and connecting with the senses.  Rich, deep experience.

Wisdom University recorded a part of each day of experience which allows me to share some of my experience of the week with you.  I hope you enjoy listening to Jean, Peggy and others talk about the journey to mystical creativity.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

For the Love of Books

A visit to my favorite thrift store book department in Chapel Hill yesterday had me thinking about Shakespeare and Company, situate on the Left Bank opposite Notre-Dame in Paris.  My daughter Amy and I visited this bookstore (which opened in 1951) on our recent trip to Paris, and it was easily one of our top five favorite things to do in Paris.  Many famous writers spent time writing in the many nooks you find upstairs at Shakespeare and Company or sleeping among the piles of books.  The entire top floor is almost a museum made up of a number of different rooms - none of the books there are for sale, and often book signings are in the small room overlooking the Seine.  In fact you will see the room if you watch the movie Before Sunset which is set in and around Shakespeare and Company.

If  you love books, a visit to Shakespeare and Company is a must on any trip to Paris.  It made me less concerned about the books piling up on the floor of the library corner in my studio now that I have run out of shelf space. And made me less guilty about coming home with around forty new books yesterday (new as in used but new to me).  Books feel like friends.  There is something about the energy of books that comforts me. Most of my books are non-fiction and I refer back to them from time to time for inspiration and information.

I especially love old books and I suspect this comes from the many happy days spent in the library in my grandmother's home when I was young, and the summers I worked in my father's law office. My favorite place was the law library surrounded by old books with leather covers. There is something about the smell and feel of books that just feels good.  And I know I need to enjoy them now, because perhaps in the not too distant future all books will be downloaded and we won't be able to feel and touch and  absorb the individual character of each that speaks to me more than merely the words contained in the book.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Call on Owl

This weekend Paul and I attended the Carolina Raptor Center's PhotoWild event. I've never been so close to these beautiful creatures with my camera before and I so enjoyed photographing them.

I was drawn to the owls with their soulful eyes and beautiful feathers, each one with a distinct personality. That shouldn't have surprised me since owls seem to turn up regularly in my life, and have recently been showing up on my SoulCollage cards too.

Getting close to these feathered creatures made me even more appreciative of the amazing details in each of these creatures. Each one is so unique and so perfect - much like we might think of ourselves in a world without advertising and comparisons.

We were also lucky enough to see Peregrine Falcons, a Red-tailed hawk,  a Bald Eagle, a Cooper's Hawk and Mississippi Kites and more.

But it was the owls that spoke to me.

The owls you can see here are (from top to bottom):
Barred Owl
Great horned Owl
Barred Owl
British Barn Owl

According to the book Animal Spirit Guides by Steven D. Farmer if Owl shows up in your life:Meditate in silence and in darkness for a few minutes each evening for the next few days and see what is revealed to you.

This is a particularly ripe period to tap into the fount of intuitive wisdom that's available to you.

Quietly observe your environment, watching and listening for signs and omens that will give you answers to any questions you may have.

Your most creative cycle now is the night, so set aside time in the evening to work on any projects.

And the book suggests that you call on Owl when:

You're facing a difficult decision, one that has considerable consequences, and you want to make the decision that will reap the best benefits for all concerned.

You've undertaken a new and challenging course of study and want to increase your confidence in your ability to learn this new material.

You want to uncover the hidden qualities, talents, and aspects in yourself and bring them into the light.

So if you need Owl in your life gaze at these photographs and see what owl has to tell you ...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Collaborative Color Journals

My daughter keeps asking me to post some of the art work I have been doing and today I finished binding the yellow collaborative journals my yahoo group has been working on and thought it would be fun to show them.  There are nine of us in the group and over the past eighteen months we have created red, orange, blue, purple, green and now yellow journals.  Working with one color palette is quite a challenge.  Often one has to think about texture as a way to keep the color interesting.  I constructed the yellow books as accordion style books, sewing the different pages together with old grapefruit bag sacking as the connector fabric.  As the hostess of this group I have so enjoyed the challenge of thinking of different ways to bind the pages in the books.  Each book is a little different in the way it is put together, and I tried where possible to recycle.  For example, my yellow bird page is created on an old photograph left over from my sports photography business which I soaked in water,then dried and sanded and finally painted.  On top of that is the outside of a teabag.  Interesting what you can find around your house to use in your art!  And then of course, I couldn't resist putting yellow caution tape around the finished books!

Thanks to a wonderful group of collaborative artists for making these color journals possible: Michele Unger, Dawn Shepherd, Karen Dorcas, Mary Mouat, Janice Woodland, Kristy Duncan Johnson, Sheila Scott and Nadine Wong.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Walking the Chartres Labyrinth

 This past Friday, March 11th, I fulfilled one of my life dreams by walking the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, France.  Even though I have my own labyrinth I have always wanted to walk the original labyrinth in Chartres which was built in 1200 and has been walked by thousands of pilgrims over the years.  On my first visit to Chartres  in 2002 I was very disappointed to find that the labyrinth was covered with chairs and could not be walked.  One can never be sure that the labyrinth will be open for walking, but my research had indicated that the labyrinth would be open on Fridays from Lent until September.  Lent started on the 9th March and so the day I walked was the first day this year that the labyrinth was open to the public.  Perfect timing!

At times the labyrinth was full of people, and at times it was completely empty.  I decided to take my shoes off and walk in my socks as I love walking barefoot on my labyrinth.  I did this for my first walk, but stopped walking before I reached the center as a large noisy group of schoolchildren arrived and started rushing through the labyrinth.  I almost wanted to stop them and explain to them that they would get more out of their walk if they slowed down a little, but I kept quiet! It was probably a good thing in retrospect as the floor was really cold and my socks got very dirty.  Needless to say on my second walk I kept my shoes on.

The instructions in the Cathedral on how to walk the labyrinth say:

Walk the path with your whole being.

This really touched me as it is how I believe we should live our lives: with our whole being.  Later, when I walked there were only a few people on the labyrinth, but I ended the walk alone on the labyrinth.  I had wanted the labyrinth all to myself (that is how I am used to walking it), but it felt right that I was walking with others for that is what makes the journey of life meaningful.  And when I completed my walk I noticed that I was the last one out of the labyrinth, although I hadn't been the first one in, and that felt just right too.

We were also able to take a tour of the Cathedral with Malcolm Miller.   Mr. Miller is an historian who has been studying Chartres Cathedral and leading tours there for the past 53 years.  He moved to Chartres when he was 24 (he is now 77) and says he is still learning about the cathedral.  I so admire people who can take their passion and create a living from doing what they love.  Everyone should be able to do this.

The Cathedral is being renovated at present and so there is scaffolding on the outside and at the front of the Cathedral.  The renovations will take a couple of years, but will make a huge difference.

The Cathedral is truly beautiful and one can spend a whole day there looking at the windows and the statues, both inside and outside.

Amy and I ended the afternoon at La Chocolaterie where I had hot chocolate and a chocolate crepe (you can't have too much chocolate), and Amy had cafe (French coffee which is like expresso) and a raspberry crepe.

Perfect end to a perfect day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Each Life is Linked to All Life

I was introduced to this piece by my dear friend Patrick about twenty years ago.  It had a deep impact on me, but I couldn't find a recording to keep.  However, with so much information now available on the internet I was able to rediscover it. The piece is from Dave Clark's Time The Musical which was performed in London in 1985.  I would love it to be revived.  The message is one which I know I need to hear frequently.  The wonderful voice of Sir Laurence Olivier makes it even more meaningful.

Stand before me on the sign of infinity, 
all you of the earth.
With the granting of the law of provination 
comes the application of change.
I will give you the key.
And with this knowledge, please realise, 

comes the responsibility of sharing it.
I will show you the way.
It's very simple. Throughout the universe there is order.
In the movement of the planets, in nature 
and in the functioning of the human mind.
A mind that is in its natural state of order,
is in harmony with the universe
and such a mind is timeless.

Your life is an expression of your mind.
You are the creator of your own Universe -
For as a human being, you are free to will whatever
state of being you desire through the use of your thoughts and words.
There is great power there.
It can be a blessing or a curse -
It's entirely up to you.

For the quality of your life is brought about 
by the quality of your thinking -
think about that.
Thoughts produce actions -
look at what you're thinking.
See the pettiness and the envy and the greed and the
fear and all the other attitudes that causes
you pain and discomfort.
Realize that the one thing you have absolute
control over is your attitude.
See the effect that it has on those around you.
For each life is linked to all life
and your words carry with them chain reactions
like a stone that is thrown into a pond.
If your thinking is in order,
your words will flow directly from the heart
creating ripples of love.
If you truly want to change your world, my friends,
you must change your thinking.
Reason is your greatest tool,
it creates an atmosphere of understanding,
which leads to caring which is love.
Choose your words with care.
Go forth ... with love

Monday, January 10, 2011

Every moment is precious

What a difference a week can make.  Life is precious.  Life is fragile.  We take life for granted, and yet it can change in an instance. This week I have been reminded to appreciate each moment, each experience and each person that I meet.

"Learn to turn to each person as the most sacred person on Earth, to each moment as the most sacred moment that has ever been given to us.  This moment may never happen again, because no two moments are ever alike."
Reshad Feild

During December the sight of this tree adorned with light and color greeted me every time I looked out my bedroom window or drove up my driveway after dark. This week the tree has been lit every night as a tribute to the man who painstakingly created it every year for his family and neighbors to enjoy. I shall always remember it as "Ted's Tree" and it shall remind me to be grateful for each and every day and to live life in radiant color.  Ted, thank you for your legacy of a life well lived.

"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments,
but what is woven into the lives of others."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Life is a Sacred Journey

 "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 risks, embracing challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path, exactly where you are meant to be right now."
Caroline Joy Adams

The beginning of a new year always holds a sense of possibility.  It allows us a fresh start, giving us permission to leave behind all that we feel has not served us and to invite into our lives new thoughts, new ideas and new growth.  But remember to thank even those things that have made life challenging as they are often our greatest teachers.

My collage labyrinth reminds me that life is made up of these different experiences, all of them steps on my sacred journey of discovery.  

May you embrace discovery and adventure along your path this year.