Here's a progress shot of a piece from my new upcoming series based on the works of Brene Brown. Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Brené is the author of three #1 New York Times Bestsellers: 'Rising Strong', 'Daring Greatly' and 'The Gifts of Imperfection.'
The above image depicts the power of the force of empathy. Although the words empathy and sympathy are often used interchangeably in our daily conversation, the two words really embody two distinct sentiments. But I love how Dr. Brené Brown defines their clear delineation. She says that empathy fuels connection while sympathy drives disconnection. She elaborates that empathy has the distinction of 'perspective taking' (taking perspective of other person or recognizing their perspective as their truth.) Empathy also has the distinction of staying out of judgment. It recognizes the emotion in other people. It respects.
By way of comparison, sympathy exerts a subtle judgement by positioning itself at a safe distance from the other's pain. Sympathy says, "Oh, you poor thing.' While empathy leaps over the safe distance and embraces the other's pain. Empathy shows vulnerability. Sympathy holds up an invisible shield.
When I began to become acquainted with the work of Brene Brown, it was as if her words put flesh around feelings that have been rolling around and bumping inside of me for years. Thus, my decision to choose her insights as inspiration for my upcoming 100 Day Project.
Above the work table in my studio, hangs this little photograph of my first grade self. It's to commemorate the sweet lady who introduced me to the wonders of standing infront of an easel. Her name was Mrs. Ball. She's long gone into eternity. But I'll never forget her kindness and emapathy. She seemed to 'get' me instantly. She seemed to know how much I longed to be free from the rigors of academic constraints in order to give voice to what was inside my small, young heart.
It is to her astute skill as a teacher of young children that I owe my entire journey of artistic expression. I look forward ro seeing her one day, when we meet again in a higher place. Thank you, Mrs. Ball.
What's Next : I'll be participating in a '100 Day Project.'
Haven't heard of 100 Day Projects?
Simply put, it's an invitation to focus and to stretch yourself in some area for some purpose. From it's genesis, by a family trying to provide supportive encouragement to their 22 year old daughter(SULEIKA JAOUAD) with leukemia, it has exploded into countless variations. You can read more about it here.
No, I don't have any serious illness. I just have a compelling need to give voice. I'll be making 100 small works with an accompanying small verse. The theme will be that of exploring the necessary ingredients to emotional well-being. If you're familiar with the writing and work of Brene Brown, of whom, I'm a devoted fan, you already 'get' what I'll be up to! So, stay tuned...
But because I'm so super excited, and because I absolutely stink at keeping surprises, here's a sneak peek, below.
"Hello, It's Me" is available in printed form here.
One of the collaborative pieces for King's Park International Church.
For the last four months I've been working with the 3 and 4 year old nursery classes. I've brought in various papers and paints for them to smear and stain. After allowing them to dry, I collected them and began assembling them into two large pieces of art which will be displayed outside their classrooms.
Since this preschool age is well suited for 'process' art, this project has been a perfect fit. Quickly sponging color onto repurposed sheets of scrapbooking paper matched their brief attention spans. Then, after allowing the papers to dry, I tore, cut arranged and glued into my predesigned plans. Together, we became a good art-making team!
We're still working......me and my little elves! Almost finished! So much fun!
I remember a visit my Mom made when I was on summer break between my freshman and sophomore years of college. It was awkward. It was difficult. There were spaces of silence. I fuzzily perceived I was not fitting into some of her hopes.
Time can clear away haze. 'A hundred years later', I see with a bit more clarity. As a mom...and also as a grandma now, I recognize that what must've filled those silent spots. It was not so much 'judgements' as they were small pieces of love that were floating around, looking for safe spots to land within me. I regret that visit because she can never visit me again...until I visit her on the other side of Eternity. But the memory of that time serves to help me be a bit more patient when my own loose little bits of love are found to be floating about, looking for places to safely land.
So, I'm working my way through an online self-paced course. I'm posting my progress here. Why am I am doing it? Because I know myself; I need to make myself feel the pinch of accountability. Can anyone relate? The course is with Cory Huff and The Abundant Artist. I've known Cory for a number of years and his dedication to artist-development and deep geeky-genius knowledge in leveraging the web for their marketing inspires me to run faster andleap higher.
The initial assignment was to take some time and think about the current stage I find myself as far as my career as an artist goes. Part two was to create a quick little piece of journal-art which taps into the root of the topic or subject I see as a current focus. The above image is just that. For some months now, I've begun unpacking some of the emotions we humans feel in response to our various relationships and life circumstances that face us all at some point.
This little drawing, "The Visit' swoops around the notion that some' visits' can feel awkward. We relate to other individuals largely on the basis of how we perceive they feel toward us. If we know they enjoy being with us, we relax, let down our hair, and become vulnerable. If, on the other hand, we take note that they have rigid, tiny aisles of acceptance, we are definitely not prone to 'visit' with them much, knowing that we do not fit into those aisles very well. But, are those perceptions reality? Sometimes yes. But sometimes, no.
Announcing: 'A Little Book of Prayers"
I'm excited to announce my first 'little' book! Incubating for about six months, it's finally hatched! Created for anyone who enjoys sharing a few meaningful heartfelt moments, it's laced with whimsical imagery to gladden the eyes and humble entreaties to lift the spirit. It can be mused over alone ...or along side your favorite 'small person'.
To reserve YOUR copy just email me.
Making collaborative art with kids is such a blast! They are totally willing and eager. And they are fabulously involved. Above, you'll see a snapshot of a moment from my last six weeks of art-making with kids from my church, Kings Park International Church.
We created an image using paint-stained torn papers collaged together in a style that's almost mosaic like. The method worked beautifully in that it allowed lots of kids to participate and have confidence in their contribution.
For over three decades now, there has not been a week that has gone by that I'm not once again caught off guard with the random thought, 'I should call my Mom', only to realize I cannot.
I remember, when she WAS still available to talk, I seemed to have countless tiny empty reasons not to call..... that I regret .
For all who have the immense privilege of still breathing the same earth air as your Mom, take it from me, you'll be glad to keep that phone warm with your hand print!
'Billie' , as her friends called her, was a brave woman who left her spot in the earth a bit more lovely. But it's odd how youthful eyes are blurred with prickly grudges and mirages of unmet expectations.
My confidence, now, is that she perceives the sadness over the service limitations of my cell phone's reach and hears the messages from my heart.
I have thought long and hard about what is generally called 'the generation gap.' I've personally pledged to lay down my life like a bridge to connect that gap with my own children. I've observed, over my 30 years of parenting, that fighting for open communication, along with vulnerable admissions to my own frail humanity are the beams and bars that will piece together the great divide.
I love you, Mom. I know that you know that by now. And I know now that you loved me.
Happy Mother's Day!
" Listening to my Pandora channel's stream of familiar songs, suddenly I stopped what I was doing. I held myself perfectly still. Some refreshing, brutally true lyrics held me hostage.
"Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I'm a mess and so are you
We've built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do
Bring your brokenness, and I'll bring mine
'Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy's waiting on the other side
If we're honest
If we're honest
Don't pretend to be something that you're not
Living life afraid of getting caught
There is freedom found when we lay
our secrets down at the cross, at the cross
It would change our lives
It would set us free
It's what we need to be"
The words she'd crafted poiniently followed the contours of our common blight - the difficulty of being 'real' with each other. I wanted to reach through my Bose speaker and pump the hand of singer/songwriter, Francesco Battistelli , saying 'Bravo!, Bravo!' What a perfect assessment!
"And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I'm a mess and so are you."
I'd only recently captured the above little image in my journal . It's a self portrait, of sorts.
A child breathes imagination as freely as oxygen. Effortlessly. Spending time with a young child is like holding up an oxygen mask to our stuffed-up thought passages! This is me mapping out an imaginary town with our grandson, Gabriel. What a hoot! I never tire of listening to the gushing-rushing-freely-oozing geyser of his thoughts.....OK, truthfully, maybe I tire -sometimes! But you get my point!
A child's imagination is like a free falling slinky, tumbling down an endlessly spiraling staircase. Their thoughts don't get caught on the 'that won't work' corners of reality. Their ideas don't dead end. I love that. It inspires me.
I've been scooping up some of Gabey's energy and spreading it into my journaling practices for several months now. Below, you can see a few of the page-spills.
Welcome! Glad you're here! This little spot is where I share thoughts, writings and verses that fuel my life, my marriage, and my art. My desire is to offer up hope and grace and help make your life feel a bit lighter.