Art is Life is Art: Summer Garden

Phlox“My Garden is my favorite teacher.”

~Betsy Cañas Garmon

I was looking through quote sites to find a quote to go along with this poem I wrote a couple of weeks ago and I found my own quote.  Sometimes we need to hear our own voice reminding us of what we already know.  Tending to the garden is tending to my soul.  I’ve been focused on creating books, but I always return to my little bit of earth for lessons and breath.


Summer Garden

Thursday 10 July


Time disappears into droning bees gorging on phlox

A red shouldered hawk kee-aahs claiming territory on a current in the cloudless blue sky

One dry sunflower leaf crunches against its towering stalk



And always the cardinals chirp and the mockingbirds fuss

The hose gurgles in my hand as I pray resurrection prayers over a droopy basil plant

and water my soul with the sounds of summer


Be in your life,



I am not a brick wall and other confessions from a chameleon


Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.

~ Marcus Aurelius

I am a chameleon.

I am adaptable.  Sometimes so much so, that I begin to believe that I am the persona put in place, in order to adapt to the construct that I’m in.

For peace.

Or affirmation.

Or because no one seems to be leading.

I was watching a little chameleon in the garden the other day.  He was so tiny that he was perched on a zinnia.  He was chartreuse and that’s why I saw him against the fuchsia backdrop. I moved too quickly and he scurried away.  I followed his movements over to the brick wall where he finally settled.  As did I.  I settled in too, and watched him turn from bright green to light green to brown.

I felt like I was watching myself.  I become who I need to become.   My greatness is that I can tell what the construct needs…and then I become that.  I am great at modifying myself.  I disappear my true self and become what I perceive I need to become for that moment, in that space.

And it struck me.  He’s still a chameleon. 

[Actually, here in Georgia, a Carolina anole.]  He’s not a brick wall or a leaf or a concrete sidewalk.  He is himself, a Carolina anole living in my garden; basking in the sun; eating insects and changing color when necessary.

And teaching me lessons about holding on to my self in the midst of changing constructs and roles.


Always a lizard, never a wall.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:31-04:00November 15th, 2013|Journals, Lessons from the garden|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.


[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.


[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

Lessons from the Garden

Pace yourself

“My garden is my favorite teacher.” {quoting myself}

The front garden is starting to explode.  First the yarrow, verbena and iris and now the mallow, thyme and roses.  The late spring weather is wonderful.  I have to wear a sweater for my morning walks; and holding a cup of coffee to warm my hands is just perfect.  Though I prefer to tend a little bit every day, life has been full and the weeds have been ignored, so Monday will be a weeding day.   {for my desk too…}  I’ve been in listening mode, as the garden has been whispering lessons again.

Last week, the hydrangeas encouraged me to pace myself as I stopped for a walk and and a cup of coffee, while immersed in deadlines.  The blue is my favorite.  I must remember favorites.

Spilling over

Spilling Over

The yarrow reminded me that sometimes it’s okay to spill over.  Ideas spill outside of boxes and borders as I move and activate the next thing.  And my heart spills over onto pages as I get to the truth.

Change your perspective

Change Your Perspective

The iris by the mailbox smell like grape kool-aid and are amazing to view from all angles.  They remind me that fresh insight comes if I remain willing to change my perspective.



This rose changes color as it unfolds.  In the sunlight is translucent and shimmery.  Sometimes shining is in order.

Wait for the right time

Wait for the right time

For about 3 minutes at dusk, the iris by the sidewalk are luminous.  The season is short and timing is everything.  The iris remind me both to wait and be present.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00April 28th, 2012|Lessons from the garden|5 Comments

Mandala Monday: Moonflower Mandala

moonflower mandala

True story:  I snapped this photo with my iPhone and then went inside to get the “real camera” for some more detailed shots.  My intention was sit down to add more to this mandala, made from seed pods and winter interest collected during our weekend garden chores.  However, when I returned, the cat had been playing and the wind had been blowing and the morning agenda was “to the wind”, so to speak.


The art is teaching; I am still learning…

Dance with change

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00February 28th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Lessons from the garden|4 Comments

Lessons from the garden: on brown wrappings

Her:  “Did you consider that it might be protection?”
Me *sniffling* “mmm…what?”
Her:  Maybe there is purpose in that situation ending.

On that day, I just wanted to cry… but yesterday down on my knees, with the damp earth seeping through my jeans, the words of my wise friend echoed in my heart.

It might be protection.

There is purpose.

new mums small

I get so excited for this time of year in the garden ~ the spring clean-up after the fall clean-up.  The fall clean up is a tucking in, but this, this is like opening a package.  Like welcoming a new baby.  Old growth, left for winter interest, is making way for the new. Like a deep breath of air right after it rains; all feels fresh, crisp and clean.

Ubiquitous cup of coffee in hand, I took inventory.

* Leaves & trash out of beds
* Move trellis
* Trim the crape myrtles
* Too much to do in one day, just start…

And then it was time… to tend and be in the quiet of birdsong, earth and thought.  As I gently pushed back crunchy brown leaves to uncover the seem-to-be-dead-but-not-really-perennials, I heard her again, “Did you consider it might be protection?” The wind blew, and I continued lifting leaves, like little blankets, off of the truth that, the scenario I thought was breaking my heart, was simply a cycle.  One that I can welcome not fight.  Situations fall to the ground and feel like death.  The tears are real, but the endings circle around to the next beginning.   I love uncovering the buds and bits of green because it’s like uncovering my dormant heart.  Those little buds infuse me with hope.  “Maybe there is purpose in the situation’s ending.” Maybe, oh, maybe…

new growth small

Winter is ending ~ Spring is coming.

I am new growth in a brown package;
hope wrapped in last year’s fallen dreams.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00February 27th, 2011|Lessons from the garden|7 Comments