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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

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.

 

 

 

Banished

10 Oct Banished janetbalboa
Banished janetbalboa

Banished c.janetbalboa2015

Roberto (my darling husband) posted my finished picture ‘Banished’ -on FB last night. Which has prompted me to write about it a bit sooner than I had intended.

I usually take time to sit with my work after it’s done. In a way, I meet my picture for the first time in this way. Before, it has always showed up to our meetings in a state of incompleteness. This in-the-process-of-being-finished stage of my art always has a lovely feeling of potentiality and possibility. Things can still creep into the drawing, it is still very much in process and dynamic. When I see my work framed and behind glass, it is finished. Complete. An object now, something I can observe in its final state.

I form opinions, observations, see it differently than when it was a work-in-progress. My work starts with a curiosity, a wondering about something and then over the course of months, I literally draw out my answer. It unfolds and reveals itself to me in the forms and colors and images that present themselves while I work. So I never start with a complete picture- I always have an image to get me started. Then I watch it unfold. I suppose it is similar to when characters begin to perform actions and demand scenes that surprise and delight their parent writers.

It’s because of this that I reflect after the picture is done- what was the answer to that question I had so many months ago? Have I changed to accommodate this answer? I believe with Rilke that we must be able to live our answers – and until we can, be content with loving the questions themselves. Often times the answer comes slowly as understanding born of research, insight and conversations are composted and turned over in my mind.

I am often asked what my pictures mean. And as you now know, they are personal answers to my personal questions. My experience and work with the symbols and images gives them meaning. But because my questions are similar to questions that many of us have, they also have a universal answer – and therefore we share meaning. The meaning resides in you, in how active the same symbols and archetypes that activate my questions, are present in you. Your life experience will bring different interpretations – are these any less valid? Anything that stirs the heart, moves the soul, causes us to wonder is a healing balm in our world of concretized dogma and instant answers.

Learning to trust ourselves fully and allowing our hearts to soar, far out on their strings – or on our sleeves –is letting our vulnerability touch and be touched by the world. We are big enough, encompassing enough, wise enough to enfold ourselves in our own healing embrace. Internally strong we come from our center; our unbreakable connection with the Mystery of our Being as it moves through time and space in the intricate and lovely vehicle called ‘me’.  You. Us. One of a kind magic.

This is what I wrote this morning on the information card I include with all my work. Each card relates to a specific picture. This is the card for ‘Banished’.

banished info card

It says:

banished As a culture, our inner masculine has devoured the action oriented Hero archetype- forgetting that the journey finishes with a return if it is to be a true journey. After the deeds are done, the lessons learned, the actions taken, the hero puts down his weapons, leaves the field of action and returns home- ideally giving back to the world the hard won truths. If everyone is off on this hero quest- who is keeping the metaphorical home fires burning? Who is there to welcome us as we return? We have overlooked- banished- the feminine; the receiving aspect of ourselves. Our inner feminine; the receptive, intuitive, inclusive and mother (an entire half of ourselves) has not been allowed a conscious or empowered place in our bodies or minds for thousands of years. The goal of the hero’s journey is the return – to society, integration, relationship – the world of feminine nature. The achievement of balance between both aspects of our nature allows us to become fully, beautifully, incredibly human.

Men age hot. Women do not. (seriously?)

8 May

Older men (think Sean Connery) look ‘hot’ as they age, women tend to hide (think many female movie stars in general, Ava Gardner in particular.)

Never really thought about this before, just accepted it as fact- along with the biological explanation that goes something like this: women have a birth-window shelf-life, after which they become less attractive, while men remain virile, all their lives, which is attractive. Hmmmm.  Ok.

Last night, I had a really odd thought about this.

Before I mention it, however, some background on my input prior to this odd little thought:

In a gathering of women, we discussed the need for women to care for themselves. We talked about how we look after everyone and everything else, allowing little or no opportunities for self-nourishing. We felt that as women, we are often told, parentally or culturally, that we are here to care for others first- including grown adult males and adult children and to not do so is considered selfish and self-indulgent. We talked about being taught to think that ‘caring for’ someone is the same as ‘taking care of’ someone.

Caring for someone is about valuing the other person, being supportive of their well being and empathizing with them. Caring comes from a self-empowered, loving, and full filled state of being. Since we are full, naturally, we can give. It is energy-increasing, feels good and is often spontaneous in its expression. It is delight-full.

Taking care of someone means taking responsibility – away from them. In certain instances, this is appropriate- obviously infants and small children need someone to take care of them. We appropriately take care of those who are  sick, or  when someone  is temporarily less capable of taking responsibility, we can step in to help. Ideally, when they are back to their capable selves, we give them back the reins.

More often than not, however, taking care of someone is really about our needs. We do it in order to feel loved. Or in order to feel worthy or adequate, powerful, safe; in control. We do not use these words to describe ourselves. Instead of working on creating a powerful, centered and graceful self, we rely on others to provide this for us. We become dependent and subservient instead of beautiful, strong, and independent. We dis-empower ourselves and discourage the other from finding their own inner power and direction.

This siphons off our energy big time. Nothing flows. It is hard, unnatural work.

We are exhausted. We are vulnerable, depleted and weak. Resentment, anger and depression settle in for the long haul.

Seriously? So is it really all about adrenal failure, our thyroid, ~menopause~, anxiety, irritability, stress, fear of aging, depression, brain fog, weight gain, loss of sex appeal, becoming invisible and the other host of woes that we are told go with aging? Possibly. Certainly these are real issues. I have many of them.

Yet…

We are exhausted. We are vulnerable, depleted and weak. Resentment, anger and depression settle in for the long haul.

What if we could move beyond this exhaustion? What if we chose to re-claim our feminine power? What if we just stopped taking care of those who do not really need our help? What if we focused that time and energy on helping ourselves? What would happen if we became strong, powerful and self-loving? What would happen if women like us grew in number? What if aging was seen as an increase in our awareness of our own inner power? A power that is beginning to show itself more clearly for the first time in our lives – or for the first time in millennia?

What if we put ourselves first and made the filling of our own deep dry wells our first priority? I wonder – would many of our symptoms diminish or even disappear? I don’t know for sure. I’ve never tried it. I’m guessing that filling myself with love, security and a powerful sense of my own worth and value won’t hurt me. And passing this energy on to others also strikes me as beneficial.

If you are still on the fence, with the old voices whining out to you about your selfishness and worthlessness, just remember that stereotypically, women are nurturing, caring and giving. There. See? That implies that once we have taken good care of ourselves, we will do what we do best- give it all back. Hurrah! A win-win.

We can only give what we have. This holds true for every man, woman and child. We as women are no different. (Except when we are expected by ourselves and our culture to give continuously, even when we have been on empty for years.)

So let’s do this ladies.  Let’s reclaim our power. Let’s stop putting everyone else first. Let’s stop binding our own feet- enslaving ourselves to an outdated, outworn belief system that is at worst killing our spirit and at best aging us prematurely.

That reminds me of the really odd thought I had last night. What if women age poorly because we are not cared for? We can take care of ourselves just fine – but can we care for ourselves? Can we love ourselves into the creative, amazing life-giving vessels that we are?

Let’s try.

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