Grief’s Gift

The tragedy that hit my old home town moves me in subtly deep and surprising ways – Trying to put it into words for you, I describe me as experiencing an openness, a gratitude for being embodied, an acceptance of life’s fragility, brevity and vagaries. I’m softer somehow, more able to encompass the whatevers that occur,  stronger and more stable internally. It’s good.

I feel privileged to live on this planet.

To witness the everyday miracles of raindrop on twig, tracks in the mud, new buds bursting, a crow carrying a twig, a gull carrying a clam, my dogs knowing more about their world through their noses than I can imagine exists, a bolt of sunlight through dark grey clouds, a wisp of breeze rippling the surface of the pond, the look of love in my granddaughter’s eye or the joy of frolicking in her puppy’s face, the color of paint transforming plain brown paper, all of that and endless variations on the theme of relishing experience are the symphony of my life.

Here then is my testimony for Michel, her journey teetering between worlds, courted by both, surrendering to the loving magnificence.


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Suburban Avalanche

When they’re snug inside their home by the hearth, reading or writing maybe, cooking dinner, perhaps creating art, they don’t expect to die by avalanche.  They’ve lived at the base of a mountain for thirty years, weathered all kinds of rain, threat of grass fires, winds, wild critters and snow. But this year, this year a pretty crazy weather pattern hit their valley, my old home town of Missoula, Montana and









By an avalanche

That poured

Down the slope

At 120 mph

And crushed

Her home with her

And her husband inside.

My grief is BIG!

I went to the rainforest to cry with the rain and scatter blessings over the rain spattered pond. Returning home, my breathing was that uncontrollably deep full bodied breathing of grieving, making it hard to concentrate on plowing through taxes. I decided to take my grief to the canvas. Here, unfinished but a healer for me already is Michel’s Angel.

Ms angel (487x640)My shock is even BIGGER.

May we all remember to be humble before Nature, to honor its many powers, which, like a god, can kill us. Flood, drought, tornado, typhoon, hurricane and unexpected avalanches on small mountains with fairly gentle slopes are all gods and we are puny before them. But these gods are not wrathful. There is no evil intent.
I am reminded that my life is in Life’s hands, not my own. My best laid plans do not keep me safe from dying.

May we remember the blessing of each breath each moment each day, walking in gratitude and awe from this moment on for the miracle of being in-body and in relationship to one another, connected to the web spiraling round this planet.

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Fierce Love

With gratitude to my friend Jane for inspiring these thoughts in our conversation today.

By the end of January and the official end of the Painting the Feminine course with Connie Hozvicka, I felt discombobulated.

Confusion over love tossed me inside out and outside in. What is love? Does it have to be sweet? Am I too sweet? Do I need to be angrier in order to get my perspective heard? What is the feminine way? Is the tiger mother polite when someone threatens her cub? Is it always right to turn the other cheek? What does resistance look like, when it is fueled by passionate love for protecting the rights of all life, including that of my self and my family and the earth on which we all depend.

divine mother (427x640)

Sometimes I just want to hiss and snarl over the stupidity that so many intelligent humans wear like a mask.

How can anyone not appreciate our dependence on this planet? Without this we have nothing, no cell phones, Ipads, GPS’s, food, clothing, finger nail polish, treadmills at the gym…nothing.

All the wealth in all the world cannot buy food that nourishes us if our dirt is toxic.

All the wealth in all the world cannot purchase water that quenches our thirst if the rivers, rains, springs and oceans are toxic.

All the wealth in all the world cannot guarantee fresh air to breath if essential oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide are not in right relationship. Remember this planet’s atmosphere did not always support the life forms we know now.

All the wealth in all the world protects no one!

We are in this  planetary cocoon together and we’re experiencing caterpillar soup. Together we humans have the potential to metamorphose into a beautiful, wise wholeness we’ve never known before.

But that’s going to take fierce love and a devotion to faith.

holding space moonLove is not just light, airy and scented with the flower in the muzzle of a gun. Love is also deep and dark and enlivened by the risk of moving through the birth canal – teetering on the edge between death and life. Love is gravity and obsession, gentle and kind, a courageous willingness to be present: to witness the wounding, to tend to the fear, to cradle the horror. Love creating creates the space, the energy to transform the grit of thinking I’m helpless to the radiance of seeing the possible.

Let’s love!

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The Heart of Art

As one painting journey ends, another  begins.

I am struck with the gift of all the online opportunities to pray for this earth of ours through the blessings of art.

I spent the month of January totally immersed in Painting the Feminine with Connie Hozvicka. I will post more about that in the near future because depths of wisdom and confusion were revealed and it’s worth sorting out in this written form.

But today, I want to babble over the joy of applying both acrylic and oil pastel to simple pages in a journal. I’ve decided to leap into another offering of Connie’s. This one Prayer with a Paintbrush. Since I’d already committed to painting once a month inspired by my prayers for the health of wild salmon, this challenge fits right in. The remaining 11 months of this year will be inspired by Connie’s mid month theme and musings sent to our email boxes on the 14th of each month. I invite you to join me in this journey because it promises to be a blessing on many levels.

February’s theme not surprisingly is love – Healing Heart –

My morning walk had me ooooohing and ahhhhhhing over the radiant beauty of chartreuse mossy tree trunks being backlit by the rising sun- before the next deluge began an hour later – which made the beauty even more fabulous. Our local rain forest patch is truly a rainforest right now – mud and puddles all over the trail, small creeks overflowing and rushing to their culverts, the pond almost rising back up to its fullness, buds on branches swollen with new life and mini-ponds popping up all over the forest floor where they haven’t been seen at all for the 18 months I’ve lived here. The ducks are happily splashing!

I thought I’d start painting my love for the glorious green wonders of burgeoning forest life. In acrylic paint, here’s what I began. first treeI knew this intuitive painting process would change things quickly, but I hadn’t a clue how monumental the change would be.  I decided to snap a quick picture at this stage in the painting process. I turned the journal on its side to catch the light better. As I peered through the camera’s viewfinder, I suddenly realized a face was staring back at me. Oh my god there’s a face right smack dab in the middle of the tree trunk.

face shws up

That’s me…the wild forest woman…that’s the me I love, the me that wants to find her way into greater visibility, the me that calls for ever more courage to speak, to stand for what I know is important.

So I turned the journal on its side and worked on the face.


Tiring of paint, I knew it was time for oil pastel. Here’s what emerged.

hearthealing feb14

I never tire of the surprises of painting and give thanks for this wild woman who arrived with no invitation. She inspires me to be even more true to my heart’s passionate purpose.

Thank YOU!

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Grooving on the Healing Nature of Art


Our well being, and our planet’s, depends on creating our asses off. I’m serious!

We need to bring beauty back. We need to honor the spontaneous expression of wonder and surprise. We need to remember what makes us hummmmmm, what makes us humane. We need to remember and commune with that mysterious source within called Soul, God, muse, mystery. It is connecting with that source that allows us to embrace living and enables us to thrive in dire circumstances.

Writing by Terry Tempest Williams always grabs me. Recently in YES magazine, Nov 21, 2013  in an interview with Devon Frederickson, she said this: When we were working in the village of Rugerero with Rwandan women who had lost everything from war, I saw a light in their eyes return when their children began picking up paintbrushes and painting the walls of their homes. Joy entered in. Creativity ignited a spark. In that moment, I saw that art is not peripheral, beauty is not optional, but a strategy for survival.

I first recognized art as a strategy for survival when I stood before the drawings done by ordinary people in the immediate aftermath of the atomic bomb exploding over Hiroshima. They used any scrap of paper, including toilet paper, to record the death and destruction they witnessed: corpses piled up at a well with arms still reaching for water; business men dead in their seats as they rode a bus to work; shadows of the vaporized recorded on the sidewalk, a form of graffiti I’ll vividly remember for the rest of my life.

I find that my art and my wholeness are inextricable. And Connie Hozvicka of Dirty Footprints Studio keeps revealing more of that bond for me. TODAY, about forty of us embarked on her latest online course called Painting the Feminine.

This is a journaling class and I have not journaled regularly in many, many years. I have trip journals from pilgrimages taken in the 2000’s and an occasional dream recorded, but that era of discovering personal truth by journaling has passed. So I entered this class with a ho hum attitude. That didn’t last for long!

Using the blank pages in my journal from the trip taken to see the Spirit Bear in BC back in 2002, I began by making a title page midway through the book and deciding to work in oil pastels and colored pencil rather than paint. Connie’s suggestion was to take a word that grabbed us from a list she’d made of feminine qualities and paint it, intuitively, spontaneously w/o forethought.

I surprised myself with my word choice: “eccentric”. But didn’t question the choice and responded by smearing oil pastel all over the pages. Abstract energetic stuff began emerging in the upper right and I could feel my entire body engaging in spontaneous line and color. Loving it loving it. Then I felt, rather than saw, the curve of a feminine head, my head bowing before the unknown honoring the void and its life affirming wisdom. The whole experience delighted me.


This experience affirms my eccentricity for having always been willing to follow my soul’s passions no matter the risks. I’d never considered that a feminine trait before. I always labeled my choices as being stupid by modernintellecturalupstandingproperstandards and obviously financial suicide, all that shitty stuff designed to keep me “in my place,” but I veered off center and did what felt right anyway. I realize now that if my own inner labeling had been more supportive, my path might have been easier.

So this has been a valuable exercise and a reminder of how making art can help us feel whole when life shatters around us.

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Light Obsession

Darkness calls me with its power.

I love night’s beauty. .. the magnificence of day blind stars, the aurora borealis yanking audible awe from my throat, moon sprinkling diamonds on snow, the forest breathing more slowly as trees, quite literally, fall sleep.

I am more invisible in the dark which makes me feel freer, more at home in my own skin – even, dare I say it, safer – no flashlight reveals my whereabouts, no fire reveals my face to the other. I can more easily slip into that sense of oneness with the black womb around me.

Creativity flows and dreams quicken in the winter. I love the inward turn of focus – possible only for those of us lucky enough to be able to adjust our frenetic schedules to account for seasonal changes. Like hot house plants, we northern urban two-leggeds live like summer all year long, forced by indoor heat and artificial light to keep producing. No wonder we have a new disease called SAD ( Seasonal Affective Disorder ). I doubt we’d feel so sad if we considered it normal to slow down in winter. With weekly regularity, perhaps, we might curl up under a blanket and sleep longer, respond creatively to the dreaming night, cuddle together near the living room fire and tell stories, sing songs with friends and families, share food and hot drinks.

I grieve the shortening of night, maybe because we never celebrated its lengthening.

mandala tree

We seem obsessed by the light as if it were our only guide,
our only friend,
the only medicine good for us.

                              Hog wash!

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The Sacredness of Relating

This last month has flown by. Praying True, the global group on Facebook mentioned for the first time in my last post, grows in giant steps and deepens my commitment to living a life of reverence. And you know what that really means to me? It means seeing the interconnectedness everywhere in everything. For me, living in a sacred manner means responding to life in ways that  nurture relationships, no matter what the relationship is. Isn’t that a revelatory idea? I learned it first about five years ago from my friend, Kevin Emmons, a Druid Priest living in Maine. Since all of our world is related, one thing to another, then nourishing relationships is the most godly act, the most blessed act, the most reverent thing I can do.

Though I invited others on Praying True to join me for my regular prayers on the third weekend of the month, prayers for the salmon, now prayers for the humans, now prayers for the world and her waters, I didn’t have the energy to organize anything locally. Though my commitment is strong, my weekend was heavily scheduled, teaching Ecstatic Postures both days. I was “worried” that I didn’t have enough time to do justice to being on the land and decided I would just head for a brief walk by myself on the beach with my dogs in between events.

On Saturday, the Posture group seemed extraordinarily tuned in. From the get-go, I was seeing relationship everywhere. The altar candle for instance, a simply beautiful dance between flame and water. fire n waterWe held a Metamorphosis pose along with one from the category of Living Myth, and the afternoon was satisfyingly charged with the sense of being more than human…interconnectedness everywhere.

Afterward, babysitting for my grandsons ( a 5 year old and one 6.5 ) seemed charged with the mysteries of their being digital natives and I, as a “born before TV” elder, wondering how they will see the world around them as they mature, more connected as they are to the magic of virtual realities than the natural, more slowly moving ones. But as the evening wound down, I felt bliss. Hard to find words to describe it, but something was working me, wombing me with tenderness and a felt sense of expanded boundaries.

The next day, the hours ran away from me and suddenly, I had only 45 minutes for that walk on the beach, and yet, and yet, I felt as if I’d been immersed in prayer the whole weekend. Time expanded on the beach. I don’t usually take a camera with me but today I did and I knew why almost immediately. A woman in our posture group the day before had seen in alternate reality a red “native” canoe half buried in sand. Though not native in design, a red boat is mired in the sand in this waking reality. I had to take a photo of it for boat

That started a journey of seeing relationship everywhere through my camera lens. Past, present, future  – all connected. animal mineral

animalplantmineralAnimal, vegetable, mineral – all connected. Light and shadow – inextricable. Water, earth, air – intertwined. earth water

Art in everything.

wood plasticHuman ingenuity contributing to the art in everything.

camels backNature, itself, contributing to the artistry that we humans imitate.

intricate naturelife complexity

suns magicHuman creativity totally interwoven with all that exists.

natural altar piece (2)We live interdependently and nothing stands without being tethered to source. Plastic chairs the creative expression of inventive humans somewhere who could envision that plastic shape being in service to the human rump -

nested chairshelping us gaze out to sea with an ahhhhhhh yes of WOW for the sky above, the sand below and the sea glistening its way to the horizon.

Out to Sea

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