Sunday, March 26, 2017

Still processing graduation

So this is me in the waiting room before we officially graduate along with hundreds of our "closest friends". I'm in a group of about 40 from our program, and many are crying. Me? I'm giddy with relief and accomplishment! But, as you can see, I'm also in a big "Now what?" space.

The very first time I graduated (from high school), I looked like this.

Wow! Was THAT girl clueless! Oh the many wrong turns and rescues that lie ahead of this girl! I didn't go in the direction I planned when this picture was taken.

                                                                   Not. At. All.

I would've been a physical therapist by now if I had stayed on the (2nd) path I had chosen. My first path was to get a degree in Anthropology, but my father told me that unless I was Margaret Mead, I could never make a a living with that degree. He was wrong, of course, there are many anthro graduates doing many things besides being famous, but I DO like the fact that he assumed I'd make a living and not just get married and stay home. (although I did stay home for 12 years with my kids. A luxury these days)

The next time I graduated was 5 confused years later. I sort of backed into nursing. To earn a living, doncha know.
And then....25 years after that (! ! !) I got my BA in....ANTHROPOLOGY!

Did I go "live topless with the natives", as my father described life as an anthropologist?
Nope. I just kept on raising kids and then working as a nurse again.

And by the way, Margaret kept her clothes on even when the natives didn't wear much.

Now, the closest I come to cultural anthropology work is working with patients of many nationalities, ethnicities and religions. I always find a way to connect with most of them, but the hospitals don't care about my BA, they want me to have a BSN. Focus on the BS, if you ask me.

So now, I'm the proud holder of a masters degree in Holistic Health Studies. I call it my degree in Hippie, since most of the course work covered the ideas I had lived and experimented with in my commune life.


Did I mention my time as a hippie? No pictures exist of that period. Thankfully.

Although that part of me shows up a LOT in my art.

So now what? 
I paint
I do SoulCollage®
I'm still a nurse. 

But I have credentials! 
BA Anthropology
Holistic Health

With all those buzzwords, maybe I can reshape my way of earning a living. 

Or maybe I can have time to do more art for myself and for the world. 

I am of two minds about that......

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Between the Present and the Future

So this happened last night: Holistic Health Studies Graduation Ritual. 
See the portal? 

Like all portals, it was magic. I stood in the hall on one side of it, and then when I walked through...I was someone else. But not quite, because the official commencement, where I wear a gown and get hooded to signify my scholastic achievement, is tomorrow. Last night was a ritual with sacred oil, candles, songs, poems, and more candles. We are in the process of becoming...someone else. Here I am getting blessed by my instructor/shaman. 

I really felt the completion of my Master of the Arts program at the end of our last class, which ended very much like the end of our very first class. (see the blog from October 18, 2013) 

In that blog, I published a picture very much like this one, and it had the same altar cloth, the same twinkly lights, and I put the same kippah in the circle to soak up all the vibes and good wishes of my classmates and my instructor/shaman. We all spoke our thoughts about our time in the program, and especially in the last 4 semesters of intense work. I felt joy bubble up inside me over the fact that I was really finished. Really. Finished. 

Then we walked through the portal, and during the ritual we spoke to our loved ones and each other some more thoughts from our heart about this program. 


I went home feeling not quite finished. Or...not quite ready to start the next journey. I feel like a traveler who has all the brochures and guidebooks for the trip, and I have opened suitcases all over the house but can't decide what to pack. 

There's a feeling of unreality. What do you mean I don't have any papers due? Can I make a powerpoint to answer the question I hear from those outside this program: 
What are you going to DO with this degree???

Well! I can answer that! I'm going, I'm'll be using this degree

Elevator speech? I'll be riding up and down in that elevator for quite some time before I can answer that question with a brief soundbite. I feel like I have to cite the sources for all my thoughts.

Well here's my answer:



I need time for this all to marinate. I still have to walk in a cap and gown before I fly.

                                                            But I WILL fly.                                                                                   

 When I'm ready. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Guardian and How She Came to my Canvas

I have been painting since I took a course from the amazing Shiloh Sophia. My style still shows a connection to hers, but it has evolved in its own way into something slightly different.

One thing I learned from her course is to start with the background and let the final painting emerge through that portal. I have kept that technique and allow my intuition to shape my paintings.

Here is a bit of the original background that shows on the sides, top and bottom of this painting:

Lately, I've started using reference photos for my latest obsession: the female face. It helps me create faces that don't all look alike like they did when I painted fantasy faces.

 Right now I'm working on a series of women's faces to illustrate the feminine spirit. I start with a photo from books, magazines or google searches and I do a charcoal sketch. I won't be showing the photos I start with because they are not copyright free.

My sketches of strangers don't quite look like the original faces either,  so it's OK that I'll be showing my version of the female face that caught my attention. Here's one:

My sketchbook is rectangular, but the canvases I chose are square, so I squared off the area I would use for sketching to make it easier for me to reproduce her on the canvas.

I learned the hard way that if I filled the rectangular space and then tried to copy the face onto a square canvas...I kind of squashed the face into Neanderthal proportions.

NOT what I had in mind!!

I may someday use my own face, but for this project I'm using strangers. I once tried to sketch my own unsmiling face from a black and white photo.

The photo was scary, and the first sketch made me look old and tired. The second one, where I didn't put in any laugh lines or frown lines, looked like a wide-eyed young girl who had no clue.

I suspect I'm a mixture of both of those characters, but I'm not ready to publish THOSE sketches!

Inspired by my sketch, I paint a background for her to emerge from and then outline yet another version of the face and allow inspiration to tell me what to add. Including skin! Some of these women want to remain outlines to keep their archetypical power and who am I to argue with them?

This one asked for cattails and a lotus blossom necklace, even though the original photo was of an Asian woman.

 Then she asked that I give her eyes and let her background shine through. So I did.
                           She said she was the strong woman inside us all who protects us from danger. IF and when we listen to Her. 
                                                    She told me she was called     

                                                       THE GUARDIAN 

The music goes round and round and comes out here!

     My last post was at the end of my very first class in my master's degree program, and this one is being written near the end of my very last class. In fact, it's written as one of my six steps in my integrative plan for my final assignment.

                                                    Graduation approacheth.  


     So one of the six steps I planned was to restart my blog and rededicate it to blogging about arting. Arting for the sake of arting, collaging for the sake of SoulCollage®, painting for eventual showing and journaling too.                                                                                    

   This is my painting representing my thesis:

Unplugging: A Phenomenological Study of the Perceived Holistic Health Benefits of Regular, Weekly Digital Detox in the Context of Jewish Shabbat

In plain English: Is taking time off of electronic media good for us? 

Almost 2 years of research and writing later and I'm here to tell you that the plain answer is:

Yes! And might I add....DUH!

My conclusions were that unplugging leads to increased social connection, time for self-care, opportunity for immersion in nature, spiritual community and spiritual experiences.

Here is the right-brained art based method I used to find themes in my work with my subjects.

I had studied my subjects by asking for narratives and photos and organized their responses into groups out of which themes eventually emerged.

Along the way, after using SoulCollage® for my own use, I went to a training center to become a facilitator and have run three workshops so far. I intend to do more. 

     To the left is a picture from the latest workshop I facilitated.

I set up this workshop to combine wellness coaching with SoulCollage® in order to give people a tool to help them balance their lives in 6 dimensions of holistic health: body, mind, spirit, financial, environmental and social.

 To the right is a card I made for myself to remind myself that I have the training to help others access their inner wisdom with this wonderful method. In this blog, I plan to describe my process of using SoulCollageR and creating my own cards.

My plan is to write one SoulCollage® post a week and at least one extra post a month focused on my painting practice.

In my next post, I'll show you my method for painting as it has evolved so far. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Shabbat Shalom

I wasn't going to write a new blog anytime soon, since I'm writing papers for grad school and that takes up all of my free time, but I just tried a new synagogue tonight and wanted to post a little shriek of joy.

Last night was the last night of my very first class in this program, and the wonderful earth mother type instructor led a closing ritual that sent us all home feeling connected and at peace. We were to bring in something important to us that we wanted to absorb all the energy and good intentions of our classmates and I brought in my soul, which needs healing. Deep healing.

How on earth does a person bring a soul and put it amidst twinkling lights in the center of a circle of women? Like this:

My loving friend long ago crocheted this perfect kippah for me, incorporating the Star of David and the Greek Key of my heritage, and I wanted it to soak up all the love and healing it could so that when I wore it, I would get some kind of healing.

We were to speak out words of intention and healing, and "grab" the words that others spoke to imbue our object with those that we needed.

I said Love and I said Patience. I took from others the words Surrender and Serenity. Perfect.

I decided to wear it to a new shul, one that is closer than the one I've been attending, and one that has potential to be my new one, since I have to change soon for reasons I don't want to discuss. I'll go to some services at the old one, and still lean on the clergy for support and compassion, but I need a new shul home and so far so good.

I entered the chapel where the small Kabbalat Shabbat service would be held and was warmly greeted by everyone. They made a point of coming up to introduce themselves, and I felt a sense of deja vu as I saw rug rats running wild amid embarrassed young parents and indulgent older people. Like me. I remember being that embarrassed parent, and I never understood the fond smiles from those older than me..until now.

                                                                 OH I LOVE THIS!!!

This is not MY child, or a child from tonight. Just an internet image but it captures it well. I remember being embarrassed and the rabbi saying "Isn't it great that they feel so at home in shul?'

Well...YES! One little toddler went around the whole chapel, shaking everyone's hand and saying "goodbabbas" to everyone. My heart melted. It WAS good baba, btw, but that's off topic...

I was handed good old Siddur Sim Shalom and felt my face shine with a smile that came all the way from my toes, since I hadn't seen one since leaving Brith back home. The melodies were sometimes familiar ones from back then, some I recognized from my local shul, and even some from Berkeley! And a couple were Israeli dances I had a hard time not dancing to. That wouldve been ok, as the enthusiastic pounding of a table behind me showed me. People closed their eyes and swayed, they smacked their leg in time, they stopped to cross over and hug someone, the rabbi sang descant and the chaotic singing in ALMOST the same key sounded like that holy hubbub of Orthodox shuls. What a great mix!

The dvar was short and taught me something I'd never heard of, which for a bookaholic like me, is quite a treat.

                                    Then we adjourned to the Room With Too Much Food.

Where at long last, I finally tasted a  GOOD store bought challah. Not this one, of course:

I met a woman who is in nursing school and wants to invite me over if ever our nursey type schedules ever work out, and she doesn't write on Shabbat in shul. Ahhhhhh. I'm home again.

I drove out under a full moon that hurt my heart for reasons I won't go into, but made me smile too

And I went home to do this, and just sit. In sweet peace. I needed this. Shabbat Shalom, y'all!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 31 - Soul collage from last year

This is early, but I'll be getting on the fast moving train that is the High Holidays very soon, and before that...well...I work 4 nights in a row and will become a grumpy, hibernating bear.

So I thought I'd share some cards I made on my Staycation Retreat last year. Don't know how they'll hit me if I ever "pull" one and do the "I am One who...." exercise, but here they are with how they hit me a year after I made them and right before the New Year starts
                                                       In no particular order
I called this Anger. I was still chock full of anger over things that had happened in 2011 and it was a full year later. I chose images that showed destruction and anger and was surprised that a spunky woman showed up. Sometimes, it's GOOD to be angry! Some things do not deserve to be forgiven. So I stood amidst the destruction of my life, and I am One Who survives.

I thought this would be a fun one about SHOOZ! But the wistful one in the yellow scarf appears to be looking for something else. In the middle of sheer joy and fun, I am One Who is looking for Something More. And that's not always a bad thing.

This card is called Passion and I wanted to make a card showing the shadow side of that energy.
                                                             I think I succeeded.

To the left is a Healing Heart. I am One Who wears my heart on my sleeve even when it's dangerous. But my heart can heal from just about anything.

The background of that card is a picture of a salt cave that exists here in my area and I would love to visit that sometime to see how it feels.

Maybe it would detox even better than a mikvah!

I am One who is flexible at any age, any weight, anytime. I see who I am in the Autumn of my Life
                                                       And I'm just fine the way I am
                                                                   Right now

I am One who needs to dance and who has forgotten to make time for that in my life.

LOOK at the joy of movement all these people have!

I want that again!!!

I am One who needs to remember to CHILL OUT!!! Remember the past, but live life with the awareness and forgetfulness of a child.

Enlarge this one so that you can see all the laughter over people who make their own problems. I am One who looks for fires to walk through. How silly is THAT?

I am One who needs the Arts in my life. ALL of them!!




I feel like Rip Van Winkle finally waking UP!!

I am One who is of two minds about ever being in a relationship again. Do I want to stare moodily out to sea and Infinity, contemplating my life and soul? Or do I want a cozy cabin and warm companionship on the beach?

I don't know

I am One who may someday dance on the moon and try again.

But in the meantime, I am One who has rediscovered Joy and I don't intend to live without it again

                                                          Don't YOU forget it either!!

See you after the HiHo madness! If I have offended or hurt anyone in the past year, I am truly sorry. I will try my best to bring only joy and compassion to all I meet in the coming year.

And myself too. I'm putting down the baseball bat and won't beat myself up over past mistakes.

                                                 They are the past, and it's time to forget them.

Day 30 - The End and the Beginning

Last day of the blogalong, but NOT the last day of my blog! I'll try to blog on my days off from work and school, whenever the heck THAT happens .Or at odd times I might cobble together something over several days and post it when it's done. But I'm looking back at the last Jewish year and have flagged a bunch of my OWN pictures to show myself (and whoever is reading this) how last year went for me.

About this time last year, I took myself on a staycation to see what I could think about my life when not distracted. (as IF I could BE un-distracted)
When I moved into my former apartment, I used to look up at these towers and call them Mine

                              From my hotel window, I saw this while reading about Healing Spaces
                          And OH how I wanted to live high up and have a view like that!!!
                                    Within less than a month, I had moved into one of those towers and these are now my some of my views
                     (I have 180 degree view from the river on the east and the Capitol on the west)

                                                         Can you spell M A N I F E S T ??

In the past year, I lost an old friend, who I'll remember every day and every Dios de los Muertas,

And I reconnected with my very very oldest friend from when we were 9
Along with Janice from the 70's, Laurie from7th grade, and two girl cousins
I also went through a crisis of appearance when I got sick of dealing with my hair
and ended up looking OLDER!!!
 So I'm growing it out again, letting it curl  and got cooler glasses
                                                                      There! Young again!

There was snow, and a warm place to watch it from
                                                            There was exhaustion
There was feeling more a part of my shul community (I'm in pink and black,  top left)

And community, of course, is the most important of all:
My weekly women's group followed by lunch, my Moonshine group, my Glitterhood blogalong group, my far flung real life Facebook friends, reunited cousins, loving children and still living (and independent, marvelously active) parents, my far flung Facebook friends from places I've worked and online Weightwatchers, and online art courses, and online other groups that have moved to being phone friends, and a small, but growing group of nurses from the various hospitals in town where I've worked. 
And of course....His and Her Highnesses
I love you ALL!

An early Happy New Year
May you have a sweet year and be inscribed in the Book of Life