Tag Archives: bliss

What I love most about teaching

15 Sep

Tools of the TradeWhen my student is beyond excited. When they have that look in their eyes. When I know that something clicked, an alignment occurred with their soul. We are together for an instant in this blissed out moment that feels like the entire universe exhaled an immense and satisfied ‘YES!’

Last week, Jim asked if he could take his picture home to work on. He was so excited to show his parents his work in progress. He’s been in class close to 16 weeks, developing his style; drawing, painting, penciling what he loves- reptiles, lizards and snakes. He is a walking encyclopedia on everything reptile. He is also a connoisseur of morning glories. His enthusiasm is contagious.

Recently, he’s adopted a new tool- Derwent Inktense Ink pencils. He uses an easel, inventing his style of working as he goes- experimenting with different papers, pencils, techniques…and last Thursday- BOOM! Lightning struck and he was hooked. The muse had him by the tail and it was just the coolest thing to witness. He grew exponentially, expanded beyond his old story of his ability and I was able to see THAT MOMENT.

‘Oh wow’ he said to himself, looking at his picture, his hands full of pencils and paintbrushes, ‘I love this. I love this.’

When class was over, as he’s walking out the door, I saw that he also had the case of the studio’s Derwent pencils. Around $150 worth of these amazing things, cradled to his chest.

So I’m like, ‘Er…you’re taking the pencils too?’ A bit hesitant to let these things walk out the door.

His face was absolutely shining, as he said so seriously – “Yes! I promise I’ll be careful with them. I promise! Is it ok if I borrow them, since no one else is using them?’

In that moment, I could see the monetary value of those pencils was absolutely nothing compared to the value that they had to him, this gifted 13-year-old artist who had just discovered an entire world of wonder and awe in a case of pencils. We had discussed the price of him buying the exact set earlier in class that day, so he knew what he was asking.

‘Yes.’ I said.

He didn’t even say thank you or goodbye, (which he does every time, because he’s a polite and gracious kid) he instead just turned and floated toward his mom, clutching the pencils and his drawing.

Is that not connection we’re all longing for? A direct pipeline to joy? This is what is sustainable. Find the things that expand you, that inspire you to become more of who you are. It’s not about ‘Am I ‘good’ at this or any other external marker. It’s about what fulfills you. And that is always an inside job. How do you find a way to let the radiance out? What is it that tickles your fancy, that you do just for the sheer delight of exploration and creativity?

‘Oh wow’ (you overhear your soul say), ‘I love this. I love this.’

And honestly, it feels exactly like the entire universe is exhaling an immense and satisfied ‘YES!’ -through you.

The Wanderer

12 Oct

The Wanderer/ Janet Balboa

You are it. You are on your life’s journey. It doesn’t get any better than this- so make the most of it. Each day, each hour, each second, counts for all of eternity.  It’s not ‘out there’. It’s right here – in the relationship that you have with the smallest moments of your life. The glance you catch. The color of someone’s tie, the sunlight on water, the feel of your own skin.  When you stop and let yourself be struck dumb by the beauty of life as it is, you discover yourself immersed in it, supported by it and loved immeasurably. Your open heart guarantees moments of astonishment, bliss and wonder. These create a path where there is no path. And you may just find a life where there was previously a wasteland. 

How to change your experience

23 Aug

The Lotus and the FrogThe key is to anticipate, to be in a state of thanks, a state of being called grace. Expectant, fired up about what the day will bring. When you are being ‘excited expectancy’, you will attract experiences equal to the vibration of these tessellating, radiating thoughts. This is the way to do it. Choose your state of mind; change your experience.

The other way is to flat-line, to sit in the stagnant waters of same old same old, literally dying for something new, something real, some experience of being alive. Addicted to the habits of our daily life,  repeating the same choices, we insanely hope that something really BIG will grab us from the outside and make a difference. When it doesn’t, ever desperate, we grasp at things and experiences, aching for an encounter with something other than what we’ve become. We are bloated, fear-filled and sick, clinging to our sinking life raft of comfort and security.

Comfort and security when grasped from outside us do not predispose us to bliss. They are experiences already spent; last year’s harvest. They can’t feed us. They are attempts at control, ways of saying, ‘no, life must be like this’. You, the limitless, have limited the surge of life, closed off new possibilities, kept the magic at bay. Not understanding true power.

Close your eyes and feel the terror of losing control of who you think you are. With the delight of a child, spin round and round in circles until you collapse in ecstatic dizziness on the ground, letting the universe flow with you, swirling around you and in you. The center will hold. It is you. Home.

If you want to experience the extraordinary, then you must become open to the extraordinary. You must be present at the very edge of your awareness, willing to expand beyond all beliefs and welcome the unknown as a beautiful, mysterious lover who gathers you to her with wide arms full of comfort and receives your open breaking heart in exchange for the security of boundless joy.

Your willingness to walk in grace, to embrace the unknown, creates a space for life to surge into with all the beauty and exuberance of a newly formed universe. This is the power that longs to dance with you. The power of creation. Expression. What will you experience from a place of belonging, healing and potential? As always, the choice is yours.

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.


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)

on meaning and meaningful

29 May

Creative ability is often confused with the creative process itself. Instead of focusing on what you want to create and its manifestation,  your energy is depleted with wondering if what you create will have any meaning. You get sidetracked into a need to make your work (therefore your life) meaningful. You are hesitant to create  because you begin to doubt your creativity.  This often results in a vicious cycle of  depression, anger and  frustration. The question is ‘What shall I create?’ not ‘Is what I create meaningful?’

The unconscious assumption is that ‘if what I create is meaningful, my life is meaningful.’ Conversely, ‘if what I create has no meaning, then I have no meaning.’ This assumption is especially hard on artists and creative types because so often they take meaning from their work, not from their ability to create their work.

Joseph Campbell, the mythologist, said that people often asked him what he felt was the meaning of life. He felt they had the question backwards. He felt the real question was ‘what meaning does life hold for you?’ What do you love? What makes you grin ear to ear? What means the world to you? What is precious? Where do you find your bliss?

You will find meaning in the same place that you find joy.  You create meaning in your life when you find yourself discovering joy. The things that light you up are the clues to where your meaning lies. When you know what brings you joy, you will know what your life means to you.

Somewhere around 1707, Antonio Stradivarius was making incredible stringed instruments in Cremona. He poured his heart and soul into making the best instruments in the world. People came from all over to hear the heavenly quality of the sound he produced. God decided one day to visit Stradivarius.

“Stradivarius my friend, indeed, you make the best violin on earth. The angels tell me every day how they too, would like to play a Stradivarius violin.”

“God,” said Stradivarius, “what a surprise to see you. Please, have a seat. I am not worthy of your attention. I use the humble talents you have given me to create great instruments. You know that I know that without You I am nothing.”

“Yes, this is true” said God, “without me you can do nothing. But without you, Stradivarius, the world would not have such wonderful violins!”

Stradivarius’ purpose was to express the God-force flowing through him. He found his meaning and greatest joy in creating incredible violins.

The life force will take a spin on your particular gifts, talents and pop out a combination that has never existed before. No one else can do it like you do. Your peculiar mix of talents and abilities combined with LIFE will allow a new note to be heard in the big song. And guess what? It’s up to you to decide how you want to play your tune.  You decide what’s meaningful for you. You decide how you are going to harmonize.

Where is your connection to meaning? In the direction of creativity, music, dance, raising your kids, writing novels, relationships, gardening, stamp collecting?  Even if you just accept the idea that you have the ability to create meaning for yourself, you begin a series of life-changing, life- enhancing realizations. You are always creating. Consciously choose whether the experiences you create are meaningful or not.

When you begin to focus on what is meaningful to you, you will become conscious of where you are placing your attention. Are you consciously thinking and doing those things that will bring meaning to your life? Or are you un-focused and at the whim of external events? Your thoughts, words and actions are creating the world around you. Is it meaningful?

As meaning starts inside you, it will expand to the walls of your own home, to your family and friends then outwards into your community. As your circle becomes wider, and includes others, synchronicity will become more apparent everywhere. People, events, and circumstances will begin to reveal your connection to and with everything. You will begin to see your role as co-creator in action. You will see your meaning as it is reflected back to by those people and things you influence. You will begin to define yourself from a deep place of joy. This is what is meant by ‘follow your bliss’. This is meaning from the inside-out, not from the outside-in.


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