Monday, December 30, 2019

Goodbye Believe

Every year, I look for a word to guide me through the coming 12 months. Last year, the word of the year that appeared to me was ‘believe’. I saw it as a hopeful, helpful mantra to move me forward from a nationally chaotic year to a new faith in our democratic system. 

This year, it’s been hard to keep believing when faced with such unbelievable events around the country. More school shootings. Domestic terrorism on the rise. Leaders who turn not just a blind eye to these events but to justice and the very core of our nations constitution. 

Hope and understanding. 

Since the 2016, I can see my words have revolved around the events in our nation’s capitol. Starting with election fraud, illegal use of campaign funds, and an attack by Russia on our election system. 

So in 2017, my word was hope. I hoped for justice, reason and integrity. I didn’t get it. In 2018, I tried understanding. I tried to find a way to understand the downward spiral in the hope of shining some light into the darkening trail of events.  Again, it only got worse. 

It’s time for something more. 

Again, I don’t want to sink into the abyss of doom. Yes, I feel all the anger, fear, frustration and embarrassment these last 3-4 years have brought to our national doorstep. 

I refuse to sit and hope. I refuse to try to understand. I can no longer believe in those people with the robes, gavels, votes and power. Yes, they swore on a bible that they would uphold the constitution. Yes, they promised to help the people who voted for them. Yes, they have a legal duty to follow the letter of the law. 

But I refuse to give up on US. 

I refuse to give up on you. Or me. 

No matter what happens, I am going to move forward anyway. I am going to make my art. Love my family. Help my neighbors. And bring as much good into the world around me as I can. 

What will my word of the new decade be? I believe it needs to be stronger than the last few years because I feel I need to be stronger. I hope we will all understand that now more than ever we need to pull together, to move forward, to make ourselves, our towns and our nation stronger than ever before.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Solstice: The light returns

Today, on my side of the world, it’s the slow tilting of the globe from shorter to longer days. Everyday from now on brings more daylight and less darkness. Many cultures around the world celebrate the solstice so it’s no coincidence that Christmas also falls around this time. 

I’m always interested in how different cultures celebrated the winter solstice around the world before the arrival of Christianity. Since my ethnic background is Celtic, I did a quick internet search for some specifics of their traditional celebrations.

Druids, Celtic shamans, cut mistletoe, a symbol of life from the sacred oak trees, to give as blessings. The Yule log was also a Druid custom to light the darkest 12 days in winter, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the new year. Bright colored objects would be hung on pine trees to symbolize the sun, moon and stars as well as the souls of friends and relatives who had died.

As I found many of our current holiday decorations, traditions, foods and celebrations began with our ‘pagan’ ancestors. It just shows how important it is to our bodies, minds and souls to connect with the world that holds us and the universe that surrounds us. 

Let the light in. 

How hard life was then. Yet even with all our technology, innovations and inventions, we still struggle with darkness. Night falls. Seasons change. Life is a cycle of birth, growth and death. 

Our ancestors around the globe were wise. They survived and thrived by honoring the importance of light from the sun and the soul. 

How do we find a way through it all? By letting light in. Even if it’s just a pinprick of sun, a candle flame, a twinkle of a light through a window. 

Most important is finding the light inside our souls. 
It’s synchronistic. 
We receive light from our planet.  We contain light. And we can give light. 

May the Solstice bring even more light to your soul. 

Friday, December 13, 2019

Sage Advice from another Sagitarrian

It’s not just a month for holidays but birthdays as well. For most of my life I shared my birthday with my Dad. This was special and difficult in many ways. He got to pick the dinner, usually pork. I got to pick the dessert, usually chocolate cake. He wasn’t a fan of cake and I wasn’t a fan of pork. But we shared our special Sagittarius bond. 

Now that he’s passed, birthdays carry memories both happy and sad. I guess that’s why I always look backwards and forwards, past to future. Growing up also means growing older which as we know on our side of the globe is not seen as a good thing. 

I’ve written about aging and ageist thinking before. But I wanted to share what showed up this week. 

Birthday advice from a superstar.

“My greatest asset is that I am constantly changing," says Sagittarian actress and activist Jane Fonda. 

I’m not one to take advice from actresses, even a superstar like Jane. But I think she’s totally right. The best thing I feel I can do and have done in my life is change. Now I’m not saying I welcomed, liked or expected it at the time. In fact, I remember many times I was dragged into change kicking and screaming. 

But looking back, I can see changing, rearranging myself and my life is the essence of true creativity. I actually can’t even imagine life without change. 

“One part of wisdom is knowing what you don’t need anymore and letting it go.”

So true, Jane. Letting go is a life long task and it’s not an easy one. But you can’t move forward without letting go. School graduations, weddings, births, deaths, job changes, moving all require us to let go of the known in order to move into the unknown, until it becomes the known, of course. 

I don’t always love the process, but I can look back and see it was worth it. 

“It is never too late to master your weakness.” 

Ah. Yes. So wise is yoda, Jane. And this is an even harder challenge, isn’t it? For me, it’s always easier to admit my weaknesses than it is to move onto mastering them. 

This for me is a very important advice. The emphasis on mastering not wallowing. 

“If you allow yourself, you can become stronger in the very places that you've been broken."

Jane, I really agree. Literally. I broke my wrist over 10 years ago and I was devastated. It was a painful recovery physically, emotionally and creatively. 

But here I am throwing clay, with the hand that was broken. When I need to open a tough jar lid, it’s my ‘recovered’ hand that does the job. My other hand is now not as strong as the one that was once broken. 

“The challenge is not to be perfect. It’s to be whole.”

Jane nails it again. And nails my biggest weakness: expecting perfection not just in myself but in the world around me. Of course this means I am constantly disappointed and not just with people in Washington. 

I’m not sure what it means to be whole. But I do want to let go of perfection. I want to accept myself. I want to see and respect the world around me. I want to welcome change and brokenness and weakness that lives alongside strength, change and love. 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Whispers Through the Trees

It’s December, a month that means many things to many people. Holidays abound bringing with them many moments and memories both happy and sad. It’s also, the last month of this year and the beginning of a new decade. 

I always get into soul searching mode this time of year. What worked. What didn’t. What I could have done better. What I need to learn more about. As I walk through the woods, I listen for words of wisdom. 

“Be surprised.”

I’ve been in many galleries over the years. Some were good experiences, some not. When I signed on with Art On Broadway in Beaverton, I was very unsure. Would I sell anything at all? Would gallery sitting be weird?

I was wonderfully surprised. I sold. I met wonderful people. I shared my process with fellow artists and art lovers. I learned more about how other artists do their work. I chatted with gallery visitors. And biggest surprise of all, I enjoyed gallery sitting.

“Look but don’t search.”

I don’t know about you but I spend a lot of time searching on my computer. I search for information about supplements to fix my dog’s itching problem. I search for answers to my daughter’s new mom questions. I search for clothes, decorating ideas, health information, art supplies. I search sometimes for absolutely no reason. 

I realize the internet is a wonderful, wacky and wasteful place. I know there’s as much  disinformation as good information. It’s hard to know the difference. And there’s the problem of too much information which sometimes can cause more harm and stress.

The words that came to me, ‘look but don’t search’ bring a more important message. Maybe there’s another way that’s better than searching my mind and soul.

Look up. Look around. Look where you are. Just look. Be aware but not worried. Be alive. Be open to what you see, feel and know when you just look. 

“Open with wide eyes to delight.”

Tis the season, right. All around are bright lights illuminating the darkest time of year. Colors and music and bright, shiny things abound to lighten not just our pocketbooks but our senses and our souls. 

Instead of getting down on all the commercialism surrounding me, what if I just let myself open up to what delights me? Instead of planning and searching and organizing, what if I just let myself look at what is before me? Instead of list making, what if I just let each day present itself as a delightful gift in and of itself?


I grew up wearing uniforms and being told to cover up, bow my head and play it safe. Now, I’m all for being aware and proactive as I walk through life. You know the song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” I’ve sung that song to my children and now my grandchildren. 

Maybe now, it’s time to sing it to myself.