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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

Coming Home.

17 May

I often find myself completely ego-absorbed – driven to produce, create, take action… make stuff happen. I am great at ‘doing’.  Out of the necessity to find balance, I have inadvertently become great at inner stillness. Sitting. Contemplating. Absorbing. Processing. Imagining. Allowing my separated soul and body time to sit face to face, hand in hand and catch up with each other, blending back together.  Time to become whole; become One.

When I need to act, my action is balanced; centered, coming from harmony. From here, intuition, a sense of rightness and my feelings help shape and inform my proven ability and delight in taking action. Action now imbued with a sense of possibility, wonder, delight, adventure, and hope. So much different from the good old days, where my heavily armored ego, trotted off on its own, busily weighing up its narrow and self-obsessed options of fight or flight.

I applaud and commend my ego – all these years it has fought the battles for me, engaged, retreated, always ready, never complaining about the poor nourishment or dismal conditions it suffered through.  I thank you. I release you.

I imagine two thrones – one for my ego, where it now sits, resplendent in its strength, honor, and might. A beautiful, proud warrior. A warrior who has little use for armor or weaponry. A warrior skilled in the hard-won arts of diplomacy, compassion, poetry and self-love. Passionate. Alive. Whole.

The second throne occupied by the Queenly counterpart to this Warrior King- nurturing, encompassing, soothing, allowing. restoring. Cool water on a hot day. The Queen, my inner feminine, the ground of being on which my inner masculine acts. Reunited with her lover/husband. Wildly passionate, years of waiting collapse into this moment/ every moment. Fueling new life. New hope. New possibilities.

I intend a metaphor that allows me to express the feeling of my masculine and feminine natures functioning as one, as an equality, as a harmony. This does not mean that I do not fight, or do not pick up my weapons… it means that my fight and flight options have been infinitely expanded, tempered and balanced with a love, care and respect for myself, which transfers to all my brothers and sisters, unconditionally. I have infinite ability to respond. I am losing my ability to react. My ego is gratefully no longer running the show alone. My Warrior has returned with a Hero’s welcome.

It takes time to nurture this relationship with oneself – years of fighting, disagreeing, slogging it out on the battlefield of life. The day the Warrior returns, the day the Hero knows his glory days are over- is full of mixed emotions. Any sea change in life can suddenly find you washed up on a distant shore, ready to stop fighting, stop all the running; longing for home.

Coming home means learning to find new glory, new adventure in the person you have become, getting down to the business of living the life you find directly in front of you, to slowly but surely find that the life you have is exactly the life that was meant for you. You learn to meet yourself again and again, loving more and more who you see, battle scars, heartaches, regrets and all. Allowing the inner feminine to pick up the broken and aching pieces, cradle the inner child, comfort and soothe you into wholeness, until you can return to the field and not see a battle, but a life of blessing.

Mysteriously it is no longer about us, but about others, acquiring becomes less important than giving, fixing, understanding, mending, listening.  A new life unfolds. Full of the adventure and mystery of the unknown- in a world full of possibilities, anything can happen. Anything can surprise and delight. Nothing is locked down tight. Nothing is for certain. Except love. That is the only certainty;  the only possibility open.

I feel together now, in a way that I never could have imagined- heart and soul, body and spirit, mind and matter. The polarities have softened, lost definition. To the extent that I can envision myself as one, I can envision the earth and all creatures as one. There is no ‘other’, no thing to fight (except myself, which becomes silly.) I am done fighting. I have taken up residence where I have always belonged – in the House of Belonging. Allowing the Unameable Mystery of Love / God, /The Divine /my Higher Self /Being etc. to stock the pantry, turn down the covers, roll up the rug, and light the fire – anticipating those moments when I remember to return home.

Coming home becomes easier as I learn to accept myself, accept that I intimately belong. I am undoubtedly cared for. (Despite how I act and sometimes feel.) I am learning to live out of my new reality- less fear, more joy. I still catch myself, my ego poised for the fight; on red alert. But it’s more like a bad dream and in a few seconds I can wake myself up, grateful for the choice. Glad to find myself home, safe and warm in my own bed.

A dull person will suddenly become interesting…

29 Mar

Faeries-janetbalboa‘A dull person will suddenly become interesting…’ A writing prompt from The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood. I read it as I sit down to write this. I insert it in my post as the title. Trusting that it has shown up for a reason. I’m into magic like that. Coincidence you might say.

I’ve spent the last couple days in the dirt weeding gardens, and finally, I think, winning a perennial battle I’ve had with the long grasses that keep popping up unwanted through my lilies. Unannounced, I drift into a state of being where my doing arises out of what needs to be done next and nothing more. Thoughts arise, are acted on and then dissolve. I am me, but also larger, more conscious than me. This is what I imagine people in deep prayer, meditation, or the athletic ‘zone’ experience. I feel this when I’m drawing as well. No attachment to thoughts/things = bliss. I feel connected to whatever IS, without a need to define it, bottle it or claim myself sole dispenser of it. I am honored and delighted by its Presence. This is a nice space to be in, this space of just being. I could, in fact, happily stay here forever, as Eckhart Tolle must have felt sitting on his bench for weeks, just amazed by the lovely spectacle of life. As much as I try to, I can’t stay in this frame of mind. As I leave the garden, my ordinary experience of time returns and I find myself slowly separating from heart wide open Presence to the pale cramped residency in my head.  As I return, I’m just in time to hear the voice in my head say ‘…and I’m telling you, day dreaming will get you nowhere. This bliss is childish, non-productive – it’s time spent with the faeries!’

My little inner critic, who makes up for dullness with vigilance, who hates everything I do and feels compelled to inform me how rotten it is/I am is eager to share his view. I’m not as attached to this voice as I once was, and curiously, I find it often gives me many far more interesting things to wonder about. In this case, faeries in general and more specifically, Irish fairy tales.

In which we find that one day spent with the fairy folk is the equivalent to the passing of 100 years in human time. Hang out with the faeries at your own considerable risk. I think of another 100 years’ period – the length of time Sleeping Beauty slept after she pricked her dainty yet cursed finger on the spindle. (The humble spindle, the women’s wand, a woman’s highly regarded possession, considered a symbol of contemplation, and of woman’s powerful gift to the family; the art of weaving being equivalent in import to men’s heroic warring in the ancient world) That aside, her father, The King, had all the spindles in the land burned, while in Ireland, the Sidhe, the once mighty people of the Goddess Danu, have been relegated to whimsical faeries who dwell in the Irish Otherworld.

And so, happily ever after, never again can this idle fairy dream-time threaten our reasonable existence.

Whatever.

Walt Disney spoke of the Magic Moment; that eternal second when your heart stands still in absolute wonder and awe. Joyce called it aesthetic arrest. Campbell called it Bliss. You feel it when you’re in love. Religions fight for the right to get you in touch with it. Millions of meditating man and woman hours, currencies worldwide and vast amounts of energy are spent on developing mindfulness. Awareness and Enlightenment are pursued hotly as worthy goals. Creatives search after the Muse and creativity almost religiously. And yet this Mystery, this place of bliss, of Eternity, where time stands still, this space is embracing us, holding us every moment of every day. It isn’t a goal or a destination or an attitude.  It’s just the natural state of being. It just is. Which leads me to wonder…what would happen if my inner critic, who works a lot of overtime, were joined by my inner feminine?

I feel the hundred years ending. The beloved is waking up. She doesn’t look so happy.

And suddenly, magically – you might say ‘in the twinkling of an eye’ –  I sense that my exceedingly dull inner voice is about to become very, very interesting.

 

 

 

All those pretty, pretty colors…

24 Mar

While I have been an artist all my life, I have only recently come to terms with being OK with not necessarily fitting into the ‘real’ world Ipretty colors walk out into every day.

I have always resided primarily in the magical world of my inner life. And these two worlds are not overly compatible. The trick has been, to use a biblical phrase, ‘to be in, but not of, this world’. Far easier said than done. It is something we all have to figure out for ourselves anyway, which is why, I suppose, Jesus wasn’t overly busy handing out instruction manuals.

In weaving, it is the warp threads that give the foundation, the anchors over and under which the weaving will happen. What are the warp threads of your life? What anchors you and holds you? What is your foundation? Your comfort?

For me, it is my experience of the unity, the oneness and the sacredness of everything on our planet. While not an overly unique or unusual perspective, it allows me a powerful foundation from which to create. Warp threads are not typically sexy or exciting. But they allow the pattern; the beauty to be.

Most of the time I would much rather focus on the weft, those horizontal threads which make the beautiful patterns, colors and designs. This is where most creatives hang out. In the beautiful colors, often to the exclusion of everything else.

I am slowly learning to appreciate the stability and strength of my foundation threads. I am learning that being strongly rooted in the everyday, ordinary world where money, food, shelter, time and schedules are necessary and essential is actually complementary to my creative process.

The bringing together of these two very different but necessary worlds has been my most difficult lesson. And I am by no means done doing it.

So now that I have reconciled myself to not being ‘normal’, and not ‘fitting in’, paradoxically, I have an extraordinary feeling of arrival. Of finally fitting into my groove. And I know that while I had very little to do with my fortunate arrival here, in this space of belonging, I also know that it could not have occurred without me.

Such is life.

(This is my obnoxiously long response to the prompt: ‘Write a bit about yourself ‘ for my Etsy Shop)

I wonder who you are?!

19 Jan

I wonder who you are?!

‘I am an artist.’ ‘I’m a dentist.’ ‘I’m a grad student.’ ‘I’m a raging lunatic.’

Standard answers that indicate our affiliations: (‘I’m a Spartans fan’, I’m a Christian, I’m a Democrat ) our jobs (‘I’m a mother’, ‘I’m a dentist’) or other identities we hold dear. So dear they’ve become us; define us. (I’m an American, I’m French) We add qualities: ‘Yes, but- I’m also a creative, an intellectual, a foodie, a student.’ We go to great lengths to separate ourselves from each other, to become distinct, with a cluster of talents, preferences, titles, accessories and addresses that cost us most of our time, energy and money. The price of our individuality. Our identity, names, bank accounts. diplomas and fancy cars are important. They are just not all – important.

Underneath this artisanal, hand-crafted persona lies a vast and relatively under- explored commonality that has no name, no preference, no identity other than it is, and somehow; we are part of that. We are a plurality – a enormous wave/web of conscious humanity inhabiting this world together, at this exact moment.  Despite all our careful differences, we have the exact same journey. One day we are here – and one day, we will take our exit.

How much more helpful, healing and unifying would it be if we allowed ourselves to also have the big conversations – the explorations that most often start with ‘I wonder’ and end with “I don’t know.” Telling the stories of  life and death – allowing for everything that happens in between – is a most human behavior, having served our species well for millions of years. These conversations quickly place us on the same level;  in the same boat, part of something much larger than just one of us and our 70 -odd years of life. We have learned to have our conversations not from a place of awe and wonder, but in the hopes that the answers will further define us. Further us as individuals. We swap quality for quantity; curiosity with certainty. We no longer know ourselves; yet we try to define each other.

To define: 1) state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of. 2) mark out the boundary or limits of.

To know: 1) have developed a relationship with (someone) through meeting and spending time with them; be familiar or friendly with. 2) be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information.

‘Know Thyself’ was the notice to visitors placed in the forecourt of the Temple at The Oracle at Delphi. A beautifully open ended exploration of possibility. Who are we? I don’t know. I have this lifetime. I can mark out my boundaries – or be familiar and friendly with myself? I know I’m nit-picking a little here – it’s not so black and white as this. I am re-thinking my need to define myself and wondering what a less defined me would look like.

At the end of my time, will my cultural, historical, political, racial, gender, social, psychological, intellectual bias be what I identify with? Maybe. I hope not. It seems so small, arbitrary and  petty. I want to grow beyond my silly labels and identifications. I’m kind of done with being an lone individual. I’d like to be in the collective – identifying more with my fellow travelers, communing deeply, having those conversations that end up with wonder rather than answers. I’d like to quit figuring out who I am and just know that I am and get on with it. I’d like to live impeccably- knowing that if today is my day to go, well, I’m ready, no regrets. I want to love my life, my breath, my being here now. I’d like to continue to find our difference interesting and breath taking rather than grounds for judgment and separation. I want to be more  honest, and talk about common experiences,  fears,  disappointments,  joys, the feelings and confusions that actually make up a life. I really don’t care about the degree on your wall, or what you read last week, the color of your skin, or which sushi you like best.

All I really care about is how all those things combine into the beautiful being I see before me. I would like to know you; to wonder about you. For now, that’s enough.

 

 

 

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