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The Three Hares

25 Apr

may that which is unified and whole

find its expression in you


may all things coming in and out of being

be encouraged by your presence


may you be a source of blessing

for all that is unfolding and awakening around you


may you find yourself as the center of a vast circle of light

recognizing no distance or barrier


may the eternal dance resonate in your holy body

as your voice fills the longing of the universe


~janet balboa 



A blessing for the stranger

22 Apr

The first step in awakening to your inner life and to the depth and promise of your solitude would be to consider yourself for a little while as a stranger to your own deepest depths.

To decide to view yourself as a complete stranger, someone who has just stepped ashore in your life is a liberating exercise.

This meditation helps to break the numbing stranglehold of complacency and familiarity.

Gradually, you begin to sense the mystery and magic of yourself.

You realize that you are not the helpless owner of a deadened life but rather a temporary guest gifted with blessings and possibilities you could neither invent nor earn.




20 Apr

When The Muse takes over. It is on Her terms for sure. Needed to do a portrait for Creative Arts Art Show. Who better than Dali!?
Didn’t anticipate staying up until midnight to get this painted. It’s acrylic on canvas, 9 x 12. I haven’t painted for years. And yet…here he is.

For me, Dali is a great example of living into the Soul, those daring and beautiful and fully expressed humans who place the seriousness of the Soul over any personal agenda. I think in handing over the reins, they agree to life as an adventure, as a calling – and they, (as a personality) try to stay out of the way. Which is a paradox in itself…

They know the game involves saying ‘yes’, it really is the first rule of Life, as well as of improv.  Ask any comedian, saying yes allows the show to go on, saying ‘no’ in an improv performance-  watch the action fizzle out.

My message from Dali, as I spent time with him over the evening, was to be braver. To listen to my heart, my Muse, the Soul, that very often has an entirely different agenda than I do. And what’s wrong with that? Don’t I long for newness, the experience of being alive? Something that challenges and excited me? Hell yah. C,mon, who doesn’t want to be a daring and beautiful and fully expressed human?
Damn those torpedoes already

I’ve put Phillipe Halsman’s original title from the photograph he took of Dali, and popped it on my print with a funky retro font.  If you’d like a signed print (Dali is no longer signing) I will be happy to sign and mail it to you. $25 shipping included. It’s 11×14 on heavy stock.
Send me your address and I can send you over an invoice.

Look Ma! I’m Famous!

22 Mar

Just published in a Chicago Magazine! Cool beans.

Meet Janet Balboa in North West Chicago



Today we’d like to introduce you to Janet Balboa.

Janet, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
When I was seven, I watched my mom wallpaper my room. She covered the walls with lovely little Laura Ashley roses. Within days I had filled in quite a lot of the spaces between the delicate pink roses with dark green lily pads and bright green frogs. My mom was devastated. I felt like mini Michelangelo. What do you do with that?

I drew everywhere, on everything. My mom and grandma constantly read to me and my younger brother, filling our childhood with Raggedy Ann and Andy, fairy tales, stories of ancient forests, knights, ladies and adventure. It was incredibly rich fodder for our imaginations. My dad had a workshop in our basement- we spent hours building model trains, WWII planes, dollhouse furniture – I still have the scar in my thigh where the Exacto knife I dropped embedded itself ($100 if you don’t tell your mother…). I bought my first set of Prisma color pencils with that money.

My dad’s passionate attempt to save an ancient oak stand from developers meant that I spent a great deal of time wandering around in forest preserves as a kid. The profound stillness and the seasonal rhythms of the forest floor filled me with a deep sense of wonder. I sensed my belonging and inclusion in everything around me.

My work today is an expression of my seeing that every life, all life, reveals the interconnectedness, beauty and mystery that is the ground of our being. We all belong to each other and to our beautiful planet. This implies a sense of responsibility and caring for each other and our Earth. My heart and hands communicate this inherent community through the bright colors of markers and colored pencils.

Has it been a smooth road?
As a kid I just knew what I loved. I didn’t feel a need to be anything other than who I was, but I was acutely aware that I didn’t fit in at all. I was not a ‘normal’ kid. All I wanted was my solitude and some pencils. I didn’t know what to do with myself – being ‘an artist’ wasn’t seen as a viable career path. You know, get a real job, all that pressure… I wandered around for many years trying to figure out ‘what I should be when I grew up’. It took me a long, long time to accept that all I had to do was keep walking and my path would just keep unfolding.

It’s funny how life works these things out, as I look back, I was in exactly the right place at the right time to acquire the skillset I needed for the life I have now. I studied in Kansas City, lived in England, traveled, raised wonderful kids, learned to cook, sailed, suffered many dark nights of the Soul, got famous with a line of greeting cards, was told I would be the next Mary Englebreit. Years of worry, disillusionment, accomplishments, failure, success – coalesced suddenly and became the shape of my current life.

Was my life smooth? No- but if it had been without difficulty, I doubt I would have grown as much or have opened to so many different perspectives. I have a lot of compassion for my younger students, I see them struggling to become themselves in a society that judges them harshly. They too realize that they just don’t fit in in the same way other kids do. It’s tough. Sometimes they just get sucked under. I think any positive form of self-expression can help pull them through. When you have a craft, something that is yours, it can sustain you. I know a lot of artists and poets who will readily admit that their talent has become their blessing instead of a curse. The trick is to realize that your belonging, your worth, wells up from within, and how you choose to express that becomes your unique gift to the world.

So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Janet Balboa story. Tell us more about the business.
I work in colored pencil and markers. I start with a sketch where I try to express what I hold in my imagination. Most pictures work themselves out along the way. Isn’t that why it’s called ‘art ‘work’? It is work to pull it down; to bring something imagined into reality.

In my current work in progress, Mary Magdalene, I initially envisioned her with a very busy Celtic knot background. As I work on her, and she becomes more real to me, I find the background disappearing completely. It’s become irrelevant. So, there is this conversation, this back and forth that happens when I create. I call this presence The Muse; the soul that playfully participates with me.

I see this with my students as well. The relationship that develops when you are creating work, whether a painting or a cathedral, is always teamwork. You, the creator, show up with a skillset, and ideally, you also create an environment, an attitude, where The Muse can’t help but be present. Your job is to show up at the drawing board. Her job is to inspire you. When this relationship is cultivated, something can happen.

I’m really invested with helping others realize this dynamic flow where life can suddenly become art. I work with Andreas Mannal from Wisdom Point, teaching workshops and seminars designed to reveal the unique masterpiece that each one of us is creating through the ups and downs of our daily life. We are working with what we call the Soul Navigator. It is a beautiful tool for understanding and relating to the Sacred, opening a space for allowing, connecting, and exploring the capacities we have as human beings. We’ve done several workshops already and I’m amazed by the sea changes that are happening in my life as well as those who have attended. In our hearts, we all know that we have everything we need inside us. It’s all about what you put your attention on.

Is everything forever rosy? No. But paying attention to the presence of the Soul opens out a space where things aren’t so crowded together. The sense of overwhelm is gone because there is room to breathe, time to heal and more clarity than panic. Life becomes a meaningful work in progress.

There is nothing more beautiful than looking into the eyes of another person and seeing light and life there. Too often the windows to our Soul appear dull because we have lost sight of our own beauty. When the vision of our true self is restored, we can begin to consciously create a masterpiece; the work of our lifetime.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?

Traditionally it has been the artists and poets who have helped society reveal its highest truths and its most devastating lows. We need the clear vision provided by those who have cultivated their creative imagination. Can we see a world vision that honors cooperation, relationship and the sacredness of all life? As in each individual life, so it is for humanity. There are no wasted steps, no wasted moments. Everything matters. Everything is connected. For me it took some personal tragedies to see this, and the perspective that comes with getting older. It really is all about love. I love myself deeply, and that allows me to love others deeply. It’s hard learning to love yourself. To care for yourself. Love is the thread that weaves us into the tapestry of life. Without it, we have those lifeless eyes. With it, we become essentially, deliciously ourselves. I think our future depends on each one of us taking responsibility for our thoughts words and actions. We are all creators. If we create with love, well, I think the world would be lovely.

Contact Info:


Mary: work in progress

22 Feb

Monet refuses the operation

26 Sep

Doctor, you say there are no halos 

around the streetlights in Paris 

and what I see is an aberration 

caused by old age, an affliction. 

I tell you it has taken me all my life 

to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels, 

to soften and blur and finally banish

the edges you regret I don’t see, 

to learn that the line I called the horizon 

does not exist and sky and water, 

so long apart, are the same state of being. 

Fifty-four years before I could see 

Rouen cathedral is built 

of parallel shafts of sun, 

and now you want to restore 

my youthful errors:  fixed 

notions of top and bottom,  

the illusion of three-dimensional space,  

wisteria separate  

from the bridge it covers.  

What can I say to convince you  

the houses of Parliament dissolve  

night after night to become  

the fluid dream of the Thames? 

I will not return to a universe  

of objects that don’t know each other,   

as if islands were not the lost children  

of one great continent. The world  

is flux, and light becomes what it touches,  

becomes water, lilies on water,  

above and below water,  

becomes lilac and mauve and yellow 

and white and cerulean lamps,  

small fists passing sunlight  

so quickly to one another 

that it would take long, streaming hair 

inside my brush to catch it. 

To paint the speed of light! 

Our weighted shapes, these verticals,  

burn to mix with air  

and change our bones, skin, clothes   

to gases. Doctor,  

if only you could see  

how heaven pulls earth into its arms  

and how infinitely the heart expands  

to claim this world, blue vapor without end. 

Lisel Mueller  

When Life happens – and a nod to Pope Joan.

6 Sep

The worst sin is ingratitude, which is a forgetting of the greatness, beauty, truth and goodness of the Source that is constantly creating us – in other terms, a forsaking of Being, and the Good.

My favorite Leloup quote today, from The Gospel of Mary Magdalene.

Today I had my day all planned out, my hours spoken for, so I sat down to my desk to focus on the geometries of the Josephine knot. Which I still haven’t grasped. I found a vesica, but that is a story for another day.

I was deeply in my head, probably frowning with confusion,  when all this carefully arranged bliss was loudly interrupted by Rosie, next door’s 11 week old beagle, escaping her yard,  Ellen and I chasing around like crazy people trying to corner her. Eventually, Rosie was found, the escape route blocked up, and I returned to the drawing table, my perspective blown wide open.

And this leads me to the legend of Pope Joan.  And really, just how often do things lead you there? Well, once upon a time (during the early Middle Ages to be precise), it is told that a woman, disguised as a man, rose through the church hierarchy and was eventually elected Pope. Life went along smoothly, more or less, until during one particularly solemn processional,  all hell broke loose as the Pope went into labor and produced a child on the spot. Whoops.

Forget wasting time arguing whether it’s true or just another urban legend. That’s not the point. It’s never the point.

For me, today, Joan happily reminded me that even with the best laid plans, the most carefully arranged rituals, Life still happens, unplanned, unannounced, unexpected and often showing up at the most inconvenient time.

When the Divine came crashing into my carefully constructed schedule,  disguised as an exuberant beagle wanting to play, I had the opportunity to allow everything-as-it-was to become Life-Happening-In-This-Moment. My attention, my intention, my blood, my body, unified in a way my habitual/’usual’ self has never been fully conscious of before; opening me to an idea of another way of being fully present. It’s like a huge breath of fresh air expanded into my complacent habits, my structured ideas of how things ‘should’ be and reminded me again, that I am alive.

So now when I am here typing, I am also being aware of being alive. Of being animated by a Mystery I will never understand, flowing through me with an agenda that I can only guess at, holding me closely in gratitude and delight.

The take away for me?

Life is not meant to be ‘convenient’, bent and warped to suit us and our crazy made-up lives.

Life is meant to be lived, to be wondered at, to be expressed through us. To be experienced consciously, as a tremendous gift. Life holds us tightly so that we may live wide open, allowing it to flow through us unrestricted, out into the world.

sketch for mary magdalene



sketches for mary magdalene

Research for Mary Magdalene

30 Aug

mary magdalene 828This August, I have read through piles of books, weird and not so weird, factual and conjectural, both fantastically and poorly researched.  Here’s my research for this picture so far:

 Jean-Yves Leloup’s Gospell of Mary Magdalene. (I was so wrong when I felt I hadn’t encountered Mary Magdalene before. She is all over my bookshelves already). I love Leloup. The French have a very different attitude and conception of The Magdalene than we do (here in the American Midwest) and it is refreshing and lovely to hear his passion for this woman shine thru his writing.

I had also forgot I read The Woman with the Alabaster Jar by Margaret Starbird at the same time I read Leloup. A great read, but she can be incredibly lax about footnotes and references.

Starbird’s Magdalene’s Lost Legacy and The Goddess in the Gospels. This gets deep into the gematria supposedly occurring in the greek bible. If you are willing to play along, this is a fascinating read. By playing along, I mean being able to be open minded when beliefs and opinions are challenged. I found it fascinating.

I learned Sacred Geometry from Lars Howlet and Richard Feather Anderson this summer at Veriditas. I added Sacred Geometry by Miranda Lundy. This is a really simple introduction that gets you up and drawing in seconds. Get a good compass! Robert Ferre’s Classical Labyrinths explains more of the feminine in sacred geometry as it applies to labyrinths.

Lauren Artress Walking a Sacred Path. I read this in ’96 gave that copy to my dad this summer, and received the fancy updated version from Lauren herself this summer. Lauren is a Episcopalian Priest, psychotherapist, and writer, and founder of Veriditas. If you need to start from a religious standpoint, this is an ideal place to begin your adventure.

Mary Magdalene

30 Aug

Unexpectedly working on a beautiful new picture. I returned from a Labyrinth Training Workshop at Veriditas, to find that my mom had cancer again. This is her 4th time; each prior time she has been successfully treated and her cancer resolved. She has a truly fantastic team of doctors and feels very safe in their care. So I’m glad for that and thankful that she’s fine. Again. Or as she says, ‘for now’.marymagbalene822

And soon after, somewhere in all the time and space that was this summer, Mary showed up. I wasn’t sure which Mary, so I just started sketching what I could see the day I felt inspired by her. My guess it was all the mom energy, the feminine energy of the Labyrinth, the deep stirring of the feminine in our society, and my need to connect even more profoundly to Mother Earth and my body/temple that prompted her visit. I didn’t find it weird because my work always shows up with a vague concept that needs drawing out. Literally . I was surprised that it was Mary, because I’m not Catholic, so she never really played a large role in my consciousness. Certainly I know of them, actually all three of them, and am aware of the confusion over which Mary is which. Will the Real Mary Magdalene please stand up? Well she did, for me anyway, and what a surprise to see, looking back, that the day I first drew her was July 22nd. Even a little research shows that this is traditionally the feast day of The Magdalene. She continues to evolve. My mom continues to be well.marym826

Our Feminine Divine

12 Jan

The Feminine Divine

For all of us who feel a little lost, a lot frightened and afraid to come home to our own inner feminine…The metaphorical Divine Mother has all the patience and time in the world to love you, exactly as you are, every day, whether you know it or not. Whether you care or not.

Our adventurous, questing and brave Masculine Spirit, riding out into the material world will find its equal partner in our holy, receptive, sensual, delight-filled divine bodies – the container of our Soul; our Sacred Feminine, who has never been lost, just ignored at great cost.

Learning to trust, to come home, to have faith in the wisdom of our magnificent bodies is what all this return of the feminine is about. Feel your place, your center in the vessel that is you, the broken yet strong container that holds your life.

Our united inner masculine and feminine, our Spirit and our Soul, create the wholeness, the Holy, the healing taking place quietly, within each of us. Listen to your body. Dance quietly in your living room. Be present to the tremendous energy that surrounds you. As your Spirit has been seeking you from the outside, now your Soul calls to you from deep inside.

Have courage and faith in your Self. Relax into your body and allow your Soul to heal the terrible split in our minds and bodies. When we become one in ourselves we can feel the world as one radiant light emanating in a billion forms. You are loved. You are love. You are awakening from that 100 year princess beauty sleep. The Queen has arrived. Wipe the sleep from your eyes. She is you. She is us.

This is not mother-love I’m talking about. This is the Divine Mother taking up her rightful place in our inner world. Powerful, compassionate, giving because she is receptive- softening the hard places in us, breathing life into our desperate lives. Bring her flowers. Open your heart.

Bronze Age Moon

18 Oct

Bronze Age Moon


The Moon. The subtle guide of our nights, the soft glow of our inner light. Revered and worshipped from time out of mind. The Moon, the symbol of reflected light. Humans too are magnificent symbols of reflected light. Not our own light, but the eternal, vast, unending light of untold universes that does not depend on any sun for its fire. Understanding, recognizing this inward source of our own eternal light, we can delight in the question ‘Who am I?’ – knowing that we play a game -the only game that matters – the game of awakening to who we truly are. Once we have mastered the rules of this game, we find we must leave them behind, gratefully and lovingly discovering the absolute necessity and relevance they held for us. Ultimately we must walk free, untethered, unchained into our holy night – illumined  by the steady light of our soul, the reflection of that greater fire. Trusting, knowing, we find the game becomes: I am.  And life becomes about using everything you’ve got to reflect the Light of Lights, however you choose to conceive of That, or Him, or Her. There is no other game. Everything that lumbers across the stage of our life has meaning and relevance only as it relates to our deep connection to eternity and the degree to which we embody that here. Game on! May you be full, may you be bright, may you be a great light in the darkness.

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