Bloom in the desert

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

 

 

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[extra paint and flower photos from Sedona]

 

Another page.  Another lesson.

This page is a testament to the dry places. Beauty exists in the desert, if we bend to it.  I’ve identified this past year, that I am not afraid of discomfort or depth or the dark.  I don’t shrink back from those places that seem void of life, but that, with a deeper look, hold hidden water and profound beauty.

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The “dry places” have shown me how to honor my pace and the way that I view life/art/life.  I no longer expect others to move with me or understand how I move.  I am satisfied with walking my own path, at my own pace, seeking out treasures in hidden places.  It’s ironic to me that this page unfolded with so much color, when the sensation of this part of my life is often dark and monochromatic.

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Perhaps it is because it is in here, in the wilderness and underworld, that I shine.

Be in your life,
~betsy

 

By |2016-10-19T14:20:32-04:00August 22nd, 2013|1000 Pieces of my Heart, Journals|4 Comments

sun, moon and unconditional love

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[Sunset in South Africa; Super moon at St. George Island, FL]

The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.

– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 

Another page from my final IGNITE project.  A reminder to Listen.

I continue to listen to sun, moon and rhythms.  Am paying attention to what I need and how I ebb and flow in my creative practice and in my life.  From how much vitamin D I need, to living as an introvert, I am learning.  As I gentle my body through perimenopause and its cycles, I have learned over the past decade to always listen to my body.  My body knows.  When to open the windows and where and with whom I’m supposed to be.  When to rest and when to move – My body knows.  Sometimes the talking is through headaches and tears and sometimes through an ache or elation, but my body, she speaks true.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:32-04:00August 19th, 2013|1000 Pieces of my Heart, Journals|2 Comments

wild thyme creative: The garden is my favorite teacher

Image“Might I have a bit of earth?” Chapter XII The Secret Garden by  Frances Hodgson Burnett

Sharing another big lesson from my 10 month immersion in IGNITE, intuitive painting teacher training:

In order to obtain any level of sustainability in an endeavor, you have to pace yourself and you have to obtain sustenance.  This goes for creative endeavors as well as marathons and 9-5 jobs.    And it goes for the body, as well as the soul.   In my life, making art is part of showing up to regular life in a healthy fashion.  Art can increase emotional and spiritual health and capacity.

The tension came when I had to choose between art-for-life-and-breath and art-with-deadlines-and-assignments.  They weren’t always the same; and I had to figure out a different aspect of the sustainability formula.  In order to show up to art with deadlines, I had to be oriented and clear.  For me, that means time with my hands in the earth.  My little bit of earth in the front garden is one of the places that I find my bearings.  The rhythm of my day begins with a cup of coffee and a little bit of weeding or dreaming.

In my attempts to manage details and meet deadlines, I thought that I simply needed to free up some time on my calendar.   I stopped visiting the front garden and let my little bit of earth get a little weedy and go a little wild.  I knew that I could ignore the weeding and tending in the garden for a season.  What I didn’t realize was that it wasn’t the garden’s maintenance that was at hand; it was my own tending that was falling through the cracks.

I mistakenly thought that time in the garden was a calendar thing, when really, it was a soul thing.

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[1000 Pieces of my heart Page 3:

Zinnia studies: watercolor botanicals, cellular studies in acrylic, macro photography]

Because of these revelations, I had to include some garden studies in this final body of work.  The garden holds lessons, places of curiosity and inspiration galore!  The cellular studies are based on microscopic studies of actual plants grown in my little garden.   As in, I pulled out the microscope from homeschool days that are over, and am continuing my own studies.  I studied biology before I studied fine art and Botany class was one of my favorite classes.  Although, this time around, I’m immersing in pattern and color instead of biochemistry.

Returning to the garden has been essential.   Stepping away from the garden, and the subsequent disorientation, revealed how important the earth is to me.  Like Mary in The Secret Garden, I discovered, that the secret to being alive is in tending my “little bit of earth” on a regular basis.

From quick studies, en plein air, to photo walks, I orient and am inspired.

“It was the garden that did it… and the creatures – and the Magic.”

“It came alive.”

The found text, from the book, The Secret Garden,  reminded me that I needed the magic and cycles of the garden to right-size myself.

My current fascination is with the volunteer zinnias that are spilling over the front sidewalk.

My friend Rozy, laughed as she walked into the house this morning:

“You are untamable!  You just won’t be contained.  Your garden gives you away.”

Oh, I hope so.  I really, really hope so.

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[1000 Pieces of my heart  Page 5:  More verbs and daily photos from the garden]

By |2016-10-19T14:20:32-04:00August 16th, 2013|1000 Pieces of my Heart, Lessons from the garden|2 Comments

Way has closed behind me

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[1000 Pieces of my Heart.  Page 1:  Clearing]

“Ruth,” I said, “people keep telling me that ‘way will open.’  Well, I sit in the silence, I pray, I listen for my calling, but way is not opening.  I’ve been trying to find my vocation for a long time, and I still don’t have the foggiest idea of what I’m meant to do.  Way may open for other people, but it’s sure not opening for me.”

Ruth’s reply was a model of Quaker plain-speaking.  “I’m a birthright Friend, “ she said somberly, “and in sixty-plus years of living, way has never opened in front of me.”  She paused and I started sinking into despair.  Was this wise woman telling me that the Quaker concept of God’s guidance was a hoax?

Then she spoke again, this time with a grin.  “But a lot of way has closed behind me, and that’s had the same guiding effect.

 

From Let Your Life Speak by Parker J Palmer

 

It’s over.  10 months of immersion in IGNITE, Connie Hozvicka’s Fearless Painting Teacher Training.  From the very beginning of IGNITE I knew that I wanted to excavate how to be involved in the lives of others through art/healing/teaching and still stay true to my own creative practice.

This place that I’ve landed is very different than where I thought I’d be, now that we’re at the end.  When I started IGNITE, I thought I was going to define wild thyme creative in a very tangible way.  I thought that I would set goals, focus on my business plan and activate those plans.  Quite frankly, within a short couple of weeks, if I could have quit, I would have.  I was overwhelmed with trying to orient to the class work load, plus, live my full life.

Eventually, I realized that I wasn’t going to be defining and activating a business as I was still *** “creating a clearing in the dense forest of my life.”  Most of the time, the “invitations” felt like assignments  – heavy with deadlines and shame for not meeting deadlines.  However, the sensation of shame only lasted as long as I stayed with measures outside my knowing and my body.   Such an amazing lesson.  Way was closing behind me with a profound guiding effect.

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“Give yourself credit for what you’re already doing.”

“You’re doing more than you realize you’re doing.”

These phrases and others like them, resonated deeply when they were spoken.  They vibrated through the atmosphere and I pinned them in my journal like a butterfly in a shadowbox.  Framed butterflies are beautiful and inspiring.  But, also, very far from the exquisite reality of a live butterfly flitting from flower to flower in the garden.  The word Doing kept clanging against my heart and soul.    Doing, doing, doing.  It was no secret throughout the trek through IGNITE that I am not a DO-er, my greatness is that I am a BE-er.

Our final invitation for the course was to create a body of work that reflected the lessons we learned during IGNITE.  For me, this body of work was about recognizing the shift in my focus from Doing to BEING.   As I moved through the course, I learned to cover the doing/lack of doing with grace and acknowledge that I BE, so very well.

The true lessons from this course had less to do with painting and teaching and more to do with Who I Am and How I BE.
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[Journals Jan – June in the Scarborough Faire garden – parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme]

Throughout IGNITE, I never once stopped journaling or taking daily photos.  I engaged in the spiritual disciplines of my faith, gardened and gathered people in circle.  I created beautiful environments for friends and family, wrote letters, songs and poems and lived my rich, beautiful life well.

This last body of work shows the crossover between my life and camera, garden, journal and paint.  It is a weaving of my self and text and paint and pages.  Originally, I was envisioning a series of paintings.  [Because that’s what I thought I needed to DO…]  But as I stepped into execution and reflected on process, it became apparent that the juice for me, is in the integration of life, pages and final art.

When I stopped to pay attention to where my breathing was deep and settled, the truth began to emerge from the mist.   My breath and body lead me to path.  When I tuned in to where I was hyperventilating and fidgety, I was able to follow a bread crumb path back to exactly where I need to be.  When I followed Peace and Permission, I found that Clarity was there too.  In facilitating Hug Your Story workshops, I say aloud that “the pages inform my art.”  But, the reality is that my art and life and pages and words and images and collections and paintings all inform each other.  Despite my love for sorting and classifying, I don’t even try to sort and classify my life and art.

And so, I made a book, from a painting and I filled it with bits and pieces of my life and heart – my true body of work.
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“BE in your life” is what I say to my children instead of, “Be Safe.”  When my oldest son started driving I realized that the words that came out of my mouth, whenever my children left the house, were full of fear.  So I made a change in the declaration I was making over their lives.  Today, when someone walks out the front door of our house we say, “BE in your life.”

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Oh, these 6 people have my heart.  The life we live together and the spaces that I create for them has been my body of work for decades.  It has been the proving ground of all that I now share.   This heart is embroidered, with stitches that my grandmother taught me when I was a little girl, on a photo of my precious ones taken on Easter Sunday.  It’s the way it is when you live a creative life.   Past woven to the present.  Art stitched to sacred practice connected to loved ones that sometimes make it to a painting or a photograph.

My children have flown from the nest are most magically in their lives; and now, I am learning to give myself all the same verbs, space and permission that I’ve given them.

Delighted to share lessons/pages/life/art with you.

Be in your life!

~betsy

***  a line from the poem Clearing by Martha Postlewaite.  I held the poem as my intention for the class.  You can read it in its entirety HERE in this blog post from last week.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:32-04:00August 12th, 2013|1000 Pieces of my Heart, Art is Life is Art, Journals|5 Comments

1000 Pieces of my Heart: Week 2

 

“The woods were made for the hunter of dreams.”

Sam Walter Foss

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{10 – 20}  A visit, a walk in the woods, some pressed leaves, brown paper journals, and a Secret Garden.

This week has been quiet, but a couple of weeks ago, was full of people and visits w people.  Rands and I were in Washington, D.C. with a new squad of World Racers.  Mostly there were meetings and quick meals in between meetings, but there were also some wonderful moments with friends and racers, old & new, tucked in between the information exchange.  It was exciting and humbling to be with these world changers as they left for their 11 month journey.

 

D Squad praying for N Squad

D Squad praying for N Squad

I stayed in town and spent a delightful couple of days talking about books and telling stories with my Candi-friend.  Hard to believe that we’ve known each other since we were teenagers at Belmont College-now-University.    A favorite moment was going on a foggy, crisp explore in the woods with Candi; her daughter, Cami; and their terrier, Roscoe.

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The day turned up some studies in brown and we were in the woods much longer than it seemed that we were.   It was one of those feels-like-20-minutes-but-it’s-really-been-an-hour sort of treks.  I love when time falls away because you’re soaking in exactly where you are.  We stopped to peek at dead-tree-woodpecker-houses and weird mushrooms and told stories and walked in silence.  All in all, just the way, a slow explore should go.
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And, although I didn’t play tourist and go to any museums or monuments this go ’round, I did receive a tour of Cami’s bookshelf, her Hobbit Legos and her beautiful bottom-drawer nature collection.  It felt like a tour of her heart.

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{Pressed leaves shared from Cami’s collection}

And, I revisited my November and December journals. There is so much to be gleaned from a good journal retrospective.  I was wrestling with perfectionism and a bout with the flu during the holiday season and handmade, grocery bag journals with their sweet, humble brown paper were a great way to diffuse the pressure.  I especially love white pen on brown paper.
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Lastly, I started a new journal on January 1.   It’s an altered copy of The Secret Garden, which is a shift away from the larger scale that I used for most of 2012.  But, I like it for it’s wonderful phrases and portability.  Still, I miss 9×12 and watercolour paper, so we’ll see what comes next.

The Secret Garden journal

As always, we’ll see what comes next.

 

 

By |2016-10-19T14:20:32-04:00January 24th, 2013|1000 Pieces of my Heart, Journals|1 Comment

1000 Pieces of my Heart: Week 1

 

“I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” Walt Whitman

 

A year in journals - 2012

 A year in journals – 2012

{1-9}  7 Journals, 1 List & a bird

This week was goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013.  As I gathered journals kept, I was struck by how infrequently I shared journal pages this past year.  My creative habits have been minimalistic for the past couple of years, with most of my creative expression happening in private, on pages and with simple daily photos with my phone.

 

Staying active and creating “art in the crevices” has served me well, but in a closer examination of my creative process over the past couple of months during IGNITE, I have felt the rumblings of a call to the deeper parts of my practice.  When I get quiet and listen, I feel the magnetic pull of my big girl camera and brushes and a longing to be here in this blogging space documenting and sharing.  It’s all I want to do.

 

This past year has brought a lot of exciting change.

 

And with that change has come the dance of staying in balance.

 

And let me say, at the risk of much disagreement, that I think balance is overrated.

 

Sometimes passion creates imbalance and we just have to step away from the line in the middle and be breathtakingly over into our practice.  We must trust that the pendulum will eventually swing back in the other direction to the next area of passion that needs attention for a season.   We must:

 

dive in

 

take risks

 

do the thing

 

follow the alternative path

 

drink deeply

 

misbehave

 

find the place

 

say a dramatic no

 

embrace a dramatic yes

 

My expectation for this year is that it will have less balance and more passion.  That there will be more depth and grit and life in my creative practice and less worry about how to get to everything and everyone.

 

My intention is simply to listen and create.  And then listen and create some more.  To respond to the cry that exists simultaneously in my belly and my heart.  The cry is demanding and persistent like a newborn baby and I am delighted beyond measure to respond.

 

The Secret Garden journal

By |2016-10-19T14:20:32-04:00January 6th, 2013|1000 Pieces of my Heart, Journals|6 Comments