Tag Archives: wisdom

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)


24 Apr
marker and colored pencil, 11" x 14" c. 2009, janet balboa

Wisdom, work in progress

Once again, I just had to start coloring- before it’s completely drawn out. I think it gives me a better insight into what colors I’ll be using, and that in turn helps me complete the picture. Besides, I get really bored doing one thing for very long. I begin to feel bad for the lovely markers just sitting there…

Originally, I had wanted to do a drawing of Yahweh’s wife – wanting to highlight the Woman that is so obviously missing from the old testament God, Yahweh. Someone wrote that it might have been easier for us if he had been able to talk things over with her, the original Momma, before he went all angry and threw the book at us. Kidding aside, I realize that God is not Male or Female, nor even essentially human, as we often make ‘him’ out to be. For me, even the word ‘God’ has such strong connotations, deeply entrenched over centuries, that it’s difficult to use the word in a meaningful way.

I picture a world where Wisdom is returning to each one of us, individually.   Wisdom as a ‘feminine’ counterbalance to our rational ‘masculine’ knowing.  Our eyes are being opened to a new perception and experience of our world.  We are one by one beginning to listen and hear the precious murmurings of our own hearts, to trust deeply our own experiences. Wisdom calls for us to take our knowledge, and filter it through our hearts. To become Soul-full.

I believe this is what it means to be truly human – to experience our lives as opportunities to awaken to the calling of our Soul – our connection with ‘God’. To the calling of that part of us that has not forgotten who we are, or where we come from. The part of us that is dignified, powerful, and full of wonder. Deepak Chopra says that ‘the soul does not have its own agenda, but will help us achieve whatever potential we discover in ourselves.’ The Soul may not have an agenda- but it comes from a place where all the prodigal children sit together and break bread. The Soul comes from a place of unity.   As this unity breaks forth into our lives, we hear our own voice, unified from the countless voices that speak in our heads. We become empathetic and compassionate as we begin to sense that all lives are one life, that we all share the same breath. ‘Out beyond right and wrong, there is a field. I will meet you there’ says Rumi. A world beyond our shortsightedness.

We have known about this wisdom for a very long time. We have had great prophets and teachers tell us until they are blue in the face. We don’t listen. We have done our best to shut her out of the world. It’s easier to have knowledge. Knowledge keeps us in our heads. Thinking. Wisdom calls us to action. To care. To love others as ourselves. To not judge.

Wisdom is for the courageous. Those of us willing to step out into the great wide open as pioneers of the open heart – seeing a world of unity beyond appearances. Our Soul calls us to adventure- asking us to shed our hardened and ancient skin; casting off our outdated, limiting beliefs. It’s not easy and it’s not always fun. There will be nights when you have to put your food up in trees for fear of bears and other monsters. There will be days when the view is so breathtaking you can only sit and weep at the beauty and terror.

On  those precious days when I am awake enough to remember to let my Soul’s wisdom lead, it’s easy to believe that exactly the experiences, people and events that I need are the ones that show up. I’m excited to get up in the morning to see what the day will bring. There are often frankly magical occurrences. When I remember to experience my life as adventure, I love my life. I feel alive, participating in the creation of my day and free to be spontaneous, giving, childlike in my delight and lightness.

I try  to capture all that and more into a drawing- stepping out into a world of wonder and mystery- where things that have been long forgotten call to us for  new and fresh meanings. The field beyond right and wrong- where we can meet, as we are, without agendas or posturing, stripped of everything non-essential. A place where we are loved, where just showing up is enough, where each of us gets a standing ovation of pure love – for who we are, as we are. no questions asked. This place, of course, is within each one of us. Our Soul is yearning for that awareness to filter into our consciousness, so that our lives become richer, deeper, and beautiful as we  transform our knowledge to wisdom. Blessing ourselves and our world. It’s time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for…

marker and colored pencil, 11" x 14" c. 2009, janet balboa

detail from ‘Wisdom”

marker and colored pencil, 11" x 14" c. 2009, janet balboa

Mary, detail from ‘Wisdom”

marker and colored pencil, 11" x 14" c. 2009, janet balboa

Guardian, detail from ‘Wisdom”



and the wonder at our incredible dignity as human beings, male and female.

Honoring the Elders? Become one.

26 Nov

Becoming elderly will happen whether you choose to become an Elder or not. Becoming an Elder requires a choice. You can honor the person you have become, or get lost in regrets, guilt and broken dreams.

Becoming an Elder requires making peace with the past and purposefully leaning into the future.

It’s really a decision about who you want to be in the latter half of your life. Will you become a source of wisdom and clarity for those around you? Or will you become a bitter, selfish burden of complaints and ailments?

Most people have a habit of doing the same thing they’ve always done. They copy behaviors modeled to them by family and society without question. They resign themselves to ‘getting old’ – to never figuring out what life is really about. They give up the race before it’s even been run. What else can you do? (Most people have forgotten they have a choice.)

You and I know better. We have a choice. We can choose to trust that we are Elder material; believe that we have what it takes to be a wise person, a source of clarity. I certainly don’t feel I have it together enough, for enough of the time to be ‘wise’ let alone clear. But I’m it now. I’m next in line. When my kids come to me for advice with their ten foot tall and bullet proof attitude –  I can either take this next phase of my journey seriously or I can turn my back and try to run like hell in the other direction. My kids are the main reason I’ve decided to wise-up. You’ll have your own reasons; tapping at your shoulder, making it clear that you have wisdom the world needs.

What’s ironic is how well prepared we are for becoming an Elder. Our life becomes the perfect training ground for mastering the tools of the Elder: wisdom, understanding, compassion and patience.

READY:  You begin on the on the starting block. You get into your lane, put your toe on that line and get prepared to run. Your parents, teachers, coaches, pastors and culture prepare you – you’re a little sponge accepting information, guidance, examples, attitudes, and behaviors from the outer world. You gain energy, stamina, dreams and skills. With all the outer stimulation, you listen to your inner wisdom less and less, getting caught up in the business of becoming, achieving – devouring everything in sight.

STEADY:  Once you hit your late twenties you are (ideally) prepared to enter society as mature, responsible adult. You haven’t really questioned what you’ve been taught; you’ve just accepted what you’ve learned as truth, and then made it your truth. Toes on the line, hand on the starting block, ready, steady.   No movement is allowed –hold fast to your mark and wait for the gun. This is the time when ‘wait for it’ is heard- and false starts are common. All inner movement is potential, a gathering, a holding of energy; waiting, maturing. Ripening. Invisible. Inevitable. Outwardly, you test your skills; build your character, usually one mistake at a time. You experience at least one dark night of the soul. It’s so easy to get out of control, overextended, overwhelmed. So many false starts. You end up trying to control everything; parenting, kids, marriage, job, house, car, pets, leisure time, date nights. You are officially caught up in the loop of succeeding, possessing, proving, providing and accumulating.

GO!  Somewhere around age fifty, the starting gun went off. I didn’t even see this one coming. Surrounded by enough piles of inner and outer baggage to open my own thrift store, I had forgotten that I was all geared up for a race. To me it was just business as usual. Apparently, life had another agenda. (#letting go) – In the lineup were waistline, eyesight, children, parents, youth, health and lots of ‘stuff’. I was suddenly jolted into awareness, forced to change – ready or not. Struggling to cope with the ending of relationships, conditions, and situations that I loved deeply, having to let go when I was not ready to let go. Understanding that I wasn’t really in control after all. I was certainly underprepared for all of ‘this’.

But ‘this’ is it, isn’t it? This release is somehow what I’ve been waiting for – what life actually has been preparing me for. The gun, the signal, the great big ‘GO!’ that releases all the built up tension, all the momentum stored, all the latent energy finally let loose. Run!

Fight it.

Lean into it.

Your choice.


The decision you make here is a critical one. It will color all the rest of your days, your relationships, your focus and how you spend your time.

Choose to release the things you have outgrown and that which no longer serves you.  With all the outgrown remnants finally cast off; you will extricate yourselves from years of ‘should’ and ‘because I said so’. You will enter ‘why not?’ and ‘because I can!’ You will be lighter than you have ever been.

Everything to this point has prepared you to be here, now. You are on Sacred Ground. You find that gloriously, thankfully, miraculously, this race is not to be won by strategy, but by character. Your character. Shaped by years of preparation; learning, mistakes, triumphs and experience.

What have you been waiting for all your life? Start now. Pursue your story, because you finally have one to tell. You know who you are now. You know this runner. Let go of everything. Concentrate on the journey as it presents itself.  Be open to wonder.

You’ll find that you’ll begin to love the race for itself and your joyful participation in it.

Run. Because it won’t be the same without you.


31 Jan
triple goddess

this is the very center of an 11 x 17 work in progress.

I have two works in progress right now; one is a celebration of us women who are fast approaching the other half of their lives- the half where wisdom is more appropriate than stiletto’s. It’s relatively easy to see the shoes go- all I have to do is look at my 17 and 19 year old daughters as they raid my closet and try on shoes that they themselves aren’t even ready to wear yet- but I can see as they stand there, towering over me in my beloved high heels, that the day is not so far off after all. They are beautiful and young, with so much life and adventure ahead of them. The passing of the baton is not difficult for me, I look at the two of them with so much wonder and excitement for the possibilities ahead of them, which, I am sure will eventually go far, far beyond and much deeper than their adolescent love of external beauty and fashion. They are beautiful inside as well as out. How do you tell them that ‘this’, this fixation on ones’ looks and accomplishment is temporary. fleeting? At twenty it seemed to me too, that I had a whole life in front of me- that youth would last forever and beauty was, well, just a new face cream or wrinkle remover away.

There isn’t much in this culture to tell our youth otherwise. And this is where the crone, the ‘old’ wise women comes in…we women have to start cultivating our wisdom now, not wait until we are indeed old in spirit as well as body. We need to open our hearts so that our spirit will grow younger, full of insight and knowledge cultivated from an honest assessment of the lessons life has brought to us. We need to understand our purpose – that our incredible value goes much further than raising children, holding a job or giving to charities. We are desperately needed to become a wellspring for those following- for every woman who doesn’t do the work necessary to bring her story to fruition, there are girls and boys who will miss the wisdom only she could have provided.

How do we do this work? By loving ourselves. By taking an honest assessment of our lives, accepting and allowing all of our rich experiences, not judging ourselves, but seeing our lives with love and compassion for who we are now, and for who we will choose to become.

By simply allowing our lives to  matter, our experiences will translate into worth and meaning for others. Our culture does not support this. It is difficult work. It will not be accomplished by any cream, surgery or vitamin…the results, however, are guaranteed to be truly life changing and affirming. You may never know the far-reaching results of your hard-learned lessons. But if you begin to look out over your life at this moment and start to recognize patterns of joy and suffering, of bliss and despair- out of this close looking will come wisdom. The beautiful, unique person that you are has so much to offer to the world, and the older we get the richer and more fascinating the story. Mine your treasure for all that it is worth. Be willing to give birth to your story. It will be silent at first and only carried deep inside of you. That is the beginning.

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