Monday, January 31, 2011

Heart Reminder

This is just a reminder that the Month of Hearts Challenge Starts tomorrow. I am excited about it and hope you will be joining me for a little heart fun.

Friday, January 28, 2011

February, A Month of Hearts

I love hearts. I always have. They hold a special place in my heart. Hee hee.

I've decided that to celebrate the month of love I am going to post a heart a day. A heart a day keeps the psychologist away you know. ;o) It might be a drawing, doodle, painting, or photo. Whatever it is, it will have something to do with hearts.

I would love it if you joined me because let's face it, who couldn't use a little extra love right?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wild Heart Painting Retreat Part 2

Now we get to the painting! The juice! The joy! The energy! The reason I headed out into Northern California in the first place. If you want to read part one you can find it here.

This was the view from inside our painting studio. It was beautiful and green and the sunlight came in at different times of the day which was just lovely. We had our own sound system from the birds and a bullfrog that liked to serenade us.

The materials are simple. Tempera paints, brushes, and poster board. This process is more about finding your creative energy then it is about creating a piece of art. I was surprised at how nice the tempera paints were and once I figured out how to use them I actually enjoyed them.

There were some additional colors ready for us so we wouldn't have to slow down the creative process by mixing our own colors.

So many brushes to choose from. Big, little, funky, fan, fun!

Lovely Chris added some delicious glitter paints and oil pastels to make the process even more fun. Who would think we would have so much fun with glitter? It was like being a kid again.

Look at this pile of finished paintings. A lot of love, fear, sadness, joy, anger, and exuberance went into these paintings. It was amazing to me to watch so many different people working in the same space with the same supplies create such different works of art. There was such depth of experience that created each person's style and their stories revealed themselves on each painting.

From the first moment I stepped into that painting studio I knew that something was stirring in me. Something from deep down was bubbling and ready to emerge. I have been reading about intuitive painting, practicing at home, and taking online classes so my foundation was set and I could feel the rumblings.

Before I go any further with my story I want to tell you that this is MY story. It is unique to me and unlike anyone else who attended the retreat. There are some threads of similarity in our experiences but there were as many different reactions to putting paintbrush to paper as there were people who attended. Mine was very powerful.

We had set times for painting along with free time to enjoy the surroundings, head into town, to eat, or to do whatever we wanted. The studio was also open 24 hours a day so at any time, day or night, we could go in and paint to our hearts content. I loved that!

The process of intuitive painting is to be curious. To learn to follow your own creative energy. To listen to what the painting wants even if it isn't what your thinking mind would like to see emerge on the paper. As simple as this sounds, it can be tricky.

Oftentimes I would get an idea for an image that made absolutely no sense to what I was painting. In fact, some of my paintings were like 6 different paintings rolled into one. Chris explained that this kind of painting is like dreaming where one minute you are home and the next minute you are flying above the streets of London. Makes no sense but it is what it is. I really tried to allow that to happen.

This was my first painting. I started with the woman. Her hair transformed into tree branches. I added moss to them and some fun glitter paint. I was having a hard time staying with the energy and Chris came over several times to help me. At one point she was trying to get me to figure out what to paint next and I was having the hardest time and then she asked the question, "What would you not like to see on your painting?" When I told her a big black monster she said, "Go ahead and paint that."

Ah, I was the first sucker of the group to fall for that. I laughed at myself and got to business painting. It ended up looking more like a giant sperm wrapped around my hand which really made me chuckle.

After that more things came up, children playing in the tree, bugs walking around, weird, headless figures floating around and a strange eye watching over it all. It was definitely odd but so satisfying to paint.

I've gone back and forth in my head about whether or not to share my next painting with you. It was very personal and difficult to paint so at first I thought I would keep it to myself. But after thinking about it I decided that to do so would be cheating. This was the most powerful painting of the week for me and was a HUGE breakthrough and to skip over it would be...I don't know...pointless.

So I share this with you and ask that you stay with me and try to avoid reading into the image with your own story. I say this because as I've shared it with people at home they have had different reactions to it and I've noticed that some of them have brought their own ideas or fears into my painting and have tried to put meanings onto it that just don't fit. I hope that makes sense.

So I started out just swirling greens and tans on the page. I was having a grand old time making swirls and waves. At some point I started to get this uneasy feeling and I was HATING this painting. It was bringing up a lot of negative emotions for me. I tried to stay with it and had feelings that I wanted to kill this painting I hated it that much.

I worked late into the night when there was no one around to help me. I knew that I had to express these feelings in the painting so I grabbed some pink paint and started making explosions all over it. I was blowing it up with each brush stroke. I was crying too.

I kept working on it, adding all this detail...this little detail that was making me crazy to look at it. I hated everything I was doing but I couldn't stop. There was incredible energy with this painting. I cried and painted for about 4-5 hours when I finally gave up and went to bed.

The next day I was feeling very frenetic. I was pacing around while I waited for Chris to come to the studio and when she did I just about exploded. I expressed my hatred for everything in this painting and cried. Chris asked me what this painting represented to me and I told her it was, hatred, rage, anger, anxiety and stress. She asked if I recognized those feelings and I said, "I shut those feelings down a long time ago to be a good mother!" As I said it I knew. There is no shutting down emotions. They are there to be expressed and when we hold them in they only bubble beneath the surface waiting to emerge and now was their chance. Chris asked me to welcome them and with her support I kept going. I knew the painting wasn't finished and i knew it needed some black paint. Chris told me to dip into the black and trust the paintbrush.

I started adding the black and swirling it around when I saw a shape emerge. It was an ugly shape and I did not want to paint that so I tried to avoid it. I added other lines and kept going over the shape that was there until I thought, "This is crazy, just paint it! What's the worst that can happen?" So I flipped my paper and started creating this monster. It was so ugly that I cried with every new and ugly part of it I created.

Then the thought, "red balls" popped into my head and I thought, "Oh God! No way in hell!!!" I kept adding arms and hands and avoiding it until once again I pushed past the fear and started painting those damn balls. That brought up quite a bit of embarrassment and more tears which Chris quickly helped me get through. She thanked me for my courage and explained that it was normal to have these kinds of images come up and they don't have to mean a thing. They are just energy wanting to be released so I painted on.

Once it had balls I added a penis and then with this new found freedom and energy I KNEW there had to be a female version so I got to work painting, but this time there were no tears, there was no hesitation. I painted with a forceful energy and it seemed as if only moments had past and it was complete. There was no longer an emotional charge. I knew it was complete.

I felt different. I was wiped out but at the same time I felt clean. I felt sparkly. I felt empowered. I knew that something had happened. Later as I sat on my ledge in the sunshine reflecting on the events I wrote in my journal, "I'm not sure if I learned anything or healed anything...I take that back. I feel as if I healed something but at a different level. It's a level my brain can't wrap itself around, cant analyze or understand. The reality is I don't think the mind needs to. It is a feeling of trust and letting go and honoring the healing the soul is ready for."

Reflecting on it now, trying to give my mind something to grasp, I feel as if it is parts of my shadow. The masculine and feminine shadow that we all try so hard to shut down, quiet and keep hidden from the world. This is a representation of my shadow and by allowing it to be expressed I feel there was a deep healing. But who knows...only my soul.

This post has gotten quite long so I think I will keep this going in a series. Stay tuned for more paintings in my next post!

Video to Make You Hate Winter

My mom sent this to me because everyone knows how I feel about winter. I laughed out loud at the faces and the way they throw themselves around in the snow. I totally relate! Hee hee

You’re watching 1-Minute Clip Will Make You Hate Winter ... Forever.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Painting Retreat Part 1

I have returned from my week in Northern California and what a week it was! I can't begin to express how much I needed this and how fantastic it was!

When I walked up to the office and I saw the above sign I knew I was in for a treat. I was definitely stepping into the unknown and trusting, so this was a confirmation for me. A bit of reassurance that I was on the right path.

The Wild Heart Painting Retreat was held at the Mountain Home Ranch in Calistoga. It is about 90 minutes north of San Francisco, near Napa Valley. I had never been this far north in California and was so excited to experience nature in this part of the country.

The photo above is from the website of the ranch's website. It is a view of the painting studio where I spent so much time getting in touch with my creative energy.

The ranch is run by John and Suzanne. They are the third generation to work the family ranch. They were really personable and accommodating. We enjoyed our chats with them at each meal and I even learned a thing or two about mushroom hunting from John.

The food was TO DIE FOR! Every meal was divine! They made their own sourdough bread with a 30 year old starter. They brined their own olives, made their own plum jam, apple butter and apple pie. The scones were amazing, the polenta lasagna was delicious and the CHANTERELL MUSHROOMS were unbelievable, made even better by the fact that they picked them themselves!

The photo above is my cabin. I shared it with 2 other amazing women. It just happens to be named Love. When I checked in at the front desk John said, "You will be in Love while you are with us." I had know idea what he was talking about but once he explained, I got a big kick out of it.

I fell in love with the trees, the peace and stillness, the earthy smell, the crisp air, and the warm sun. While the painting was AMAZING, it was made even more special by the fact that I was in the middle of Mother Nature at its finest.

I mean look at this tree. It was right outside my Love Cabin. Every morning when I walked out the door I was greeted by this moss covered beauty. What a way to start my day!

There was a special little spot I found. It was on a ledge overlooking the canyon. I spent some heavy duty time there on two separate occasions. I even brought a little yoga chair out there with me one day and set up camp for a couple of hours. It was so peaceful, listening to the birds chirping and watching a couple of finches hop around a bush next to me. I even was lucky enough to see a hummingbird perched on a branch. I've never actually seen one that wasn't flying.

I wrote in my journal, and even did a little sketching. I brought my field watercolor set and had a little fun. I sat back and let the sun hit my face. The weather was amazing and I was especially enjoying it because I knew it was snowing and freezing back home in Chicago. It was so relaxing!

Continuing down the road past my special spot there was a rustic gate that marked the entrance to the enchanted forest. This was my favorite spot to be. I went down there at least 4 times with my fellow painters and even by myself a couple of times.

Once past the gate I found myself in this open field with the most vibrant green grass. I realized that it was so brilliantly green because it was swampy. That is why the created the little walking bridge of stumps. It was so fun walking across it. Many of them made this squishy sound as my weight caused them to move in the water below. It felt like being a kid again.

Once down there the terrain changed. The air got earthy, the ground became soft and fragrant. The air cooled as the sun was hidden behind the enormous trees. With each step I took I felt more and more grounded and at the same time it felt as if I were entering a magical world.

Here is a picture of one of my fellow painters Edie. She looks so small next to those big trees. It really gives you a sense of their size.

At the very bottom of the canyon was a creek. I remembered hearing the water from my special spot on the ledge and now here I was down there, seeing it in all it's beauty. I can't tell you how being down there made me feel. I've never experienced such beauty and serenity and a feeling of oneness with my surroundings. I wanted to sit there all day.

When I crossed over the creek I was given a special gift to experience a labyrinth tucked within the trees. I've heard about labyrinths but never actually walked one so I was excited to experience it for myself in such a beautiful location.

As I walked it I felt this enormous sense of peace and connection with the earth. I stopped to take in the trees, the moss, the spongy earth, and even this cute little salamander with the red belly (sorry for the blurry picture).

And while I was enamored with the natural beauty of the place I couldn't help but think of the people that created this labyrinth. John told us that his wife Suzanne originally created this labyrinth out of sticks for him when he could no longer run because of a knee injury. He would fill his backpack with stones and walk down there for exercise. Over time they replaced the sticks with stones. In fact for his birthday celebration they asked friends and family to bring stones for the labyrinth. What a history!

I got so excited when I saw these bright red mushrooms poking out of the ground. I had to brush the natural mulch aside to reveal the treasure and I HAD to take a picture.

I also spent a couple of mornings up on the lookout watching the sunrise. Seeing the moon there while the sun was making its way up over those tall trees added to the beauty. I had some incredible aha moments up there in the morning light. What a special place this is in my heart.

So now you've had a chance to see how the beauty of Northern California opened my soul and gave me such a beautiful backdrop for my creative unfolding. My next post will actually go into the painting process and the life-changing experience I was lucky enough to experience. See you then!

Read post 2 here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Soul is Sending me to Cali

As I've gotten older I've been spending a lot more time listening to my heart and listening to my soul. I am less concerned with what I should do or what I think people expect me to do. Doing this is what brought me to start this blog and to revisit my love affair with arts, crafts, and creativity.

And now it is taking me to California. I am heading off to a painting retreat with Chris Zydel in the Napa Valley area. I will be staying in a mountain resort and painting with wild abandon for a week! I will be spending time hiking in nature, connecting with fellow artists, soaking in the atmosphere, expressing my creativity, tuning into my intuition, playing with juicy, colorful paint, and taking some time to recharge my batteries.

I am so completely thrilled about it I could jump up and down clapping!

I may or may not be posting in the time that I am gone but I will be back and I will have a lot to share with you so have a great week!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Balancing Creativity With a Healthy Life

I don't know about you but sometimes when I am in the throws of creative energy I tend to forget about everything else, especially all that I know about healthy living.
  • I skip meals
  • I forget to drink water
  • I grab something quick even though I know it might not be the best choice
  • I work into the wee hours and sacrifice my sleep
  • I lose track of all ideas of balance in my life
  • Exercise? What's that?
I've been working on some skills to incorporate my creativity and my passion for art into my life in a healthy and whole way. It's always interesting how simple things can result in big changes.

What are some of the ways you struggle to balance your creativity with your life? Do you struggle with meals, drinks, organizing, time management, sleep, or all of the above. wink wink ;o)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Abundance Manifesting

Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.
-Wayne Dyer

It seems that my words of the year are really driving my life right now. Each day there seems to be a new realization or lesson that I am able to take away.

It's funny, just as I realized the two words I chose have a different energy, I am finding that they are manifesting results in a different way for me. Abundance seems to have shifted my perspective and is popping up in ways beyond my conscious thinking while courage is more of a conscious decision I choose to make in the moment.

One thing I want to share with you that has happened for me in this first full week of 2011 is my good fortune to have won a personal session with one of my sisters from BIG, Lisa Dieken. Let me start off by saying, I never win anything! I am not kidding. I once went to a baby shower where they created a game where everyone could win and at the end I was the only one who didn't win anything. So for me to have WON something was in itself a complete shift!

I wasn't exactly sure about how the process was going to work. She asked me if there was anything I wanted to work on, any issues I wanted to deal with. I had a few things come up and sent them to her, the main issue being my lack of ability to embrace abundance in my life.

Lisa was very warm and gentle with me. This was the first time I had done anything like this before but as I sat there on the phone waiting to begin I had a sense that something big was about to happen.

It's very difficult to fully explain what happened because I don't think words could do the experience justice but let me tell you that what happened in the 90 minutes I spent on the phone with Lisa were hugely profound!

There was a moment when my breath was literally taken away from me and I had this full realization of what was actually happening...the healing that was taking place. I healed on so many levels, emotional, physical, spiritual, and I believe cellular. I can't recommend Lisa enough for her loving support and her ability to tune in and offer guidance.

I can tell you that I feel a shift. What happened shone a light on some past events and beliefs about abundance that I didn't even know I had. But the really cool thing is that there was so much more. I was given insight on other aspects of who I am and what I need. It was like a complete circle of healing.

My husband even noticed this shift and was extremely pleased with the wonderful weekend we experienced together. I feel like we were able to connect on a different level. Perhaps my heart is more open. I am definitely feeling softer and more loving even amongst our busy schedule that might have normally made me tense and irritable.

Today as I reflect on the events I can tell you that I am feeling enormous abundance and overflowing gratitude. Talking to my best-est friend in the world, Carrie , this morning I realize what a gift I've been given and knowing that it came in the earliest days of this new year...1/11, I feel as if it is a message that this year is going to be AMAZING!

Please head on over to Lisa's website and check out what she has to offer. She has so many qualifications from creativity coach to prosperity guide that there is something for everyone!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Believe in...

I spent the week with my students. 28 of the most amazing women from all walks of life, from all parts of the world. It was a great week and while on one hand I am a bit tired, I am also a bit wired.

You see, for me coaching people has so many levels of satisfaction.

  • I love the fact that I am helping someone make changes in their lives that are going to improve the quality of life for them and their families. Some of these changes are really big and others are teeny tiny but I know that they will all have an impact.
  • I love to hear the excitement in their voice when something clicks or as Oprah would say, their Aha Moment.
  • I love to note the change in their attitude from the beginning of the call to the end of the call.
  • I love it when I give them a suggestion and I know it resonates and they get all excited to go try it.
  • I love feeling like I'm making friends all over the world with some of the coolest women around.
  • I love how they mirror for me what I need to remember for myself.
  • I love that giving them advice and encouragement gives it right back to me.
  • I love that I am helping these women go out and change the world! That's a big ripple effect.
  • I love that I can stay home in my cozy and warm home and touch lives across the globe.
  • I love that I can doodle and paint throughout the day.
The above painting was created in between calls and finished up at the end of the day. I had created the doodles and decided to leave a space for a word, I didn't know what that word would be.

I think believe started whispering in my ear as an affirmation that it is time to believe in myself.
  • To believe that I am good enough.
  • To believe that I can help people.
  • To believe I have something to offer.
  • To believe that what I am doing, even when I feel like I don't know what the heck that is, is perfect for where I am right now.
  • To believe that I can have, that I am abundant right now!
  • To believe in my own abilities.
  • To believe in my talents.
  • To believe that everything that has happened in my life, good or bad, has served me well and gotten me to this point in my life.
  • To believe that my life is mine to live and that I can create it any way I see fit.
  • To believe I have everything I need right now.
  • To believe that I am on the right path.
  • To believe, to believe, to myself!
And because I believe so strongly that if you are reading this, I am acting as a mirror for you. I invite you to check in with your beliefs and see if they are serving you. What positive, empowering beliefs can you incorporate into your life so that you can begin to live your life from a place of confidence and self love?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Holiday Eating Gone Wrong!

Raise your hand if you ate more than you wanted to over the holiday season.

How about sweets? Did you eat a few too many?

Alcohol anyone?

I totally know how you feel. I seemed to eat my way through the last two weeks and I'm feeling it. I'm almost sick to death of food. I don't want to see another cookie or brownie or dip.

The thing is I feel like that now, but I know that sometime around 3:00 my cravings are going to begin. By the evening I will probably be pacing around the kitchen looking...wanting...longing...for something sweet.

Ah but the good thing is I know how to deal with it now in a better way. You see a couple of years ago I was a total sugar addict! I ate sugar everyday to excess. My health suffered and I had to make changes. I learned so much while attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and experimenting with my diet and learning to listen to my body.

So even though I spent a couple of weeks splurging I am listening to what my body has to say and I am going to give it what it wants even if that means riding out some physical cravings. I know it will only last a few days and when it's done I will feel so much more centered and balanced. Oh I can't wait.

So how did you fare over the holidays with your eating?

Is your body asking you for anything?

If there is just one small thing you could do today for your body what would it be?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Welcome 2011!

Now that I've taken the time to say goodbye to 2010 I am now ready to welcome 2011 with open arms. I am excited to begin a new year!

I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about the word I want to choose for 2011. I thought I had it down to 2...abundance and confidence but I couldn't choose between the two. I finally decided that I was going to just go with both of them. Why not?

But then something happened last night around 2:00am. I had a really great New Years Eve party with some of my favorite friends and their kids. My teenagers were even there. It felt so right. We were all having fun watching the kids play with the new xbox kinect we got. They were getting down to the dance game and having a ball.

As the night progressed some of the moms started dancing and then even some of the dads got in on it. One of my friends was trying to get me to do it and I kept saying no. I have played it before and I'm not too bad but I just didn't feel comfortable.

When the last guest left my son asked me if he could do just one more dance before he went to bed and could I please do it with him. Of course I said yes. I proceeded to rock it out and actually get over 1 million! A new record.

When I went up to bed I started thinking about my word choices and suddenly confidence didn't seem to fit. I was confident that I could do the dance game but I just didn't want to. It hit me like a ton of bricks...the word I need is courage! The courage to step out of my box when I feel uncomfortable. The courage to be who I am no matter what. The courage to live the life I deserve to live.

So my two words for 2011 are abundance and courage. The funny thing is that I did this Explore Your Word of the Year worksheet from Joy Tanksley and it became obvious why I couldn't decide between the two words. To me, they are they are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum and I must need the energy from both of them to balance each other out.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

How does your word taste?
abundance- sweet, complex
courage- bold, strong, spicy

How does your word feel?
abundance- trusting, warm, embracing
courage- empowering, strong, proud

How does your word move?
abundance- floating, swinging, drifting
courage- purposeful, upright, with direction

See what I mean? Complete opposites! I love it!

And to further reinforce one of my choices, I read a post on ABC Creativity and she had a quote on there that really hit home for me:

abundance = discovering that i have way more than i thought i did

So into 2011 I go with my two words to guide me through. I am planning on checking in from time to time to see how I am growing and changing and how these words are guiding me through my year.

Have you chosen a word yet? I would love to hear all about it!