The term “artist”

I was talking with a friend last night about the term artist. He suggested that there are broad definitions of the term. I hadn’t really thought of it before in the way he suggested. However, as I age, my needs and desires in the realm of art seem to be more defined.

Let me explain. He suggested that there were some artists that create art as a means to an end, for pay. Just like any job. They have a skill, they use that skill for a purpose. They are artists. This would include any creative. – Writers, musicians, fine artists.

There are also artists, that have a deep need to create. They create because it is a part of the fiber of their being. While it is lovely to sell or share a piece of art, this is not the main motivation. The goal is to create. This can be again for any form of art. Personally, I always refer to the act of creation as my oxygen. My husband can testify, that when I am not making art I am much more stressed and unfun to be around.

My friend asked me what my earliest happiest memory was. I shared that it was my Gumby light board. I was six or seven creating a magazine that I had written and illustrated. I used the Gumby lightboard to make copies for my family. (and tried to charge them money to have a copy that I carefully copied on the lightboard) He suggested that from my earliest memories, I was happiest when creating.

“Do that”, he said.

I looked at him with a sort of disbelief. I wanted to say, “NO KIDDING!” I then calmly explained that being in any business, even an art business, seemed to be even more about the business aspect, rather than the creation aspect. I am honest to tell you that I shared my discouragement. The last couple of years (thank you Covid) have been rough. It feels like I spend more time on everything other than actually painting. Nope. That is NOT what I want.

My friend sat across the table from me with that sweet Irish grin he has and simply said,

“So, paint. Just paint. Create. We will figure out the rest later.”

It seems so simple when he said it that way. In my head, I had a hundred (or more) arguments about why this wasn’t possible. (this all happened in the span of a few seconds). In the end, I looked at him and said,


So. I think I have a lot to think about. I know that change is in the wind. I just have to figure out where this is all going… I will let you know when I do. <3

Sending you so much love,


I am with you

I said to friends just yesterday, it seems like our current mentality is that we either have covid or we are healthy. The last two years seem to have captured our attention and narrowed the view.

It’s just not true though. Pain is everywhere. Disease is too. We have loss, we have heartache, we have incredible challenges.

Everyone handles things in their own unique way. Some share widely, some very quietly. I suppose there are as many ways to handle life’s big challenges in as many ways as there are things that challenge us. I say this because I think that it is sometimes difficult to see when others are hurting (especially if we are hurting ourselves) if they are not actively sharing. Sometimes we make judgments about people having no real clue what might be going on in their lives.

Unemployed, aggressive cancer, repetitive cancer, damage from having covid, chronic pain, unstable home life, addiction, unidentified health issues, heart issues, covid, loneliness, depressionloss of a spouse, loss of a child, loss of a home, concern for their family who live in Ukraine, isolation, mobility issues, and so much more.

These are just a few examples of pain that I recognize in my small circle. These are people not sharing their burdens. They are just going through life, doing the best that they can. They ask for nothing. There is no fanfare, no attention, nothing. They are simply trying to navigate their lives.

So… please – be gentle with those around you. You have no clue what they might not be sharing. The burdens are deep. Remember just a little gentleness goes a long way.

Sending you so much love,


be gentle… be kind..

Tags:burdenCoviddepressiondiseasesend love

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We’ve got this…

Yesterday was a people day. Like you, I have been very isolated and not out in the world, so to be honest, it was a bit of a shock to my system! Friends and strangers alike were picking up art and cards at my studio. It was MUCH more peoply than anything in recent times! Socially distant and with masks on- Each one shared a few moments with me. Most shared how discouraging life is right now. Each one shared about their losses, their sadness, their frustrations, and discouragements. 2020 has certainly been a year for challenges.

Covid has touched all of our lives. Too many lives have been lost which has broken the hearts of so many families. Our habits have changed, our realities have changed, our celebrations severely modified or canceled altogether. LIFE IS very DIFFERENT.

I too am finding this journey all so overwhelming at times. Some days are better than others, but in general, I am overwhelmed by the challenge of this pandemic. I am saddened by not seeing my children and granddaughter. I am stressed over trying to safely support those who are elderly or compromised by health concerns safely. It is a dark time, requiring so much energy and thought.

We are all in the same crazy challenge but are living it very alone. Now more than ever, it seems it is important to return to basics, recognize that life isn’t “the same”, nor can it be. I believe some of our strife comes from the fact that we mourn the loss of what was normal, and often forgetting the blessings we do have. Sometimes counting blessings is very difficult to remember.

Here are some thoughts: This is what I know- kindness always feels better. Sending a card to people you know, love, and maybe a few that you don’t know! (I am not suggesting this because I own a card company, however, I do –, Call someone who lives alone, sometimes just a five-minute phone call can make a difference(for you both). Pay it forward somehow, there are countless ways to do that- especially at this time of year. When we take a moment to put someone else first, that seems to balance us a bit, introduce some light in the darkness. Small things seem to make a big difference.
Alsoself care. Take a walk (bundle up if you live in Rochester!) Drink your water, get your rest, meditate, breathe deeply, eat food that nourishes your body, MAKE ART! (yes, everyone can do this!) Read a book, turn off the electronics. Light a candle, sit in silence. Call your family/friends on a video- seeing each other’s face is a good thing! Write down every single thing you are grateful for. (yes, everything- it helps, I promise)Do things that are good for you. Celebrate what you have the ability to still do!

It seems we are given this lecture often. There also seems to be some wisdom to the fact that you are given a lesson repeatedly until you learn it.

I am not in any way suggesting life will be perfect if you send Uncle Pete a greeting card, I just know that I am happier when I claim the little victories, recognize the light around me and celebrate that. I think the bottom line here, is that while I recognize that life (for me as well as others) is an incredible challenge, I also want to do something about it. Some days I really struggle. But the good news is, I am celebrating each new chance I get.

There are all these little repostings around the internet about checking in with each other, about mental as well as physical health. This is me, reaching out to you. Do your best to reach out to others too. – both of you will benefit. Life is easier with a willing connection to others (even if we cannot have a cup of tea together in the same room).

Sending you love….hang in there….we’ve got this!


Sending you so much love…

no more cliches

I was very young when I recognized that pride in my country was just about mandatory in my family. My parents would cry at hearing the national anthem, my father would talk about how his parents arrived from Italy hoping the new world would afford them unimaginable opportunities. (grandpa came over TWICE!) My parents flew flags, voted, and believed the United States was the best place to live on earth.

This was not without its harsh realities. My parents were not blind to the faults of our political system, the horrors that those coming to the new world perpetrated upon the indigenous peoples, and the savagery that is glossed over in the (very white) history books.
Still, my parents shared such pride in being a United States citizen, it was difficult not to attach to that sentiment.

Once my brother entered the military, this sentiment was multiplied by about a million percent. (you think I am exaggerating, trust me, I am not) They were very proud of the sacrifice my brother made to serve with honor and ambition for thirty years. They were also proud of his family, who served right along with him, missing special occasions, long periods of time with him, and every day life. Trust me, they BOTH served. But yes, I digress.

As an adult, I feel like patriotism has been a requirement of my humanity. I have voted every opportunity I could (I actually both cried AND laughed the first time I was able to vote- I was so excited to do so), I have paid attention to the details when I would have much rather bury my head in anything but politics, and I have researched every single person I have ever voted for (or against. )

It sounds like a cliche, however, I believe deep in my being the ability to vote is my right AND my privilege.

Those are not just words. They are a directive.

Recently I have become quite enthralled (not the right word) captivated? (perhaps) by the Suffragette movement. (Both in the United States and abroad. )These women had the gumption to believe that every single person is equal and has a right to express their unique opinions. This was sparked on a trip that I took with my daughter. We stopped in Seneca Falls on the way home and visited The Women’s Rights National Museum. To say it was a profound experience was an understatement. To be there with my daughter was even more defining.

A few years later my daughter, a friend, and I returned to Seneca Falls on Inauguration day in 2017 to protest. If you know me at all, this is completely out of my character. I don’t rock the boat too hard on purpose, however, I felt the need to voice my opinion. I felt the need to stand up for what I believe in. It was uncomfortable, it was scary and uncertain.

I am so grateful that I took the chance to stand with countless others that day. I cannot begin to express to you the power I felt, the history in the making, the unity of every person there. The speeches, the actions, the gatherings were that of proactivity, not of hate. It was of unity, it was of action, it was life-changing for me. I felt like I was a part of something much bigger than myself. I felt like my opinion really did matter.

Thinking about the actions the original suffragettes took is incredibly powerful to me. They risked everything, (including their lives) for their beliefs. They took action daily to gain even an inch of progress. They were relentless in their pursuits. Eventually, they won women the right to have a say in what happens in their lives.

Skip to 2020- I have heard things like, “I don’t even want to vote this year.”


I am not going to tell you how to vote. That is not my desire or my mission. My mission is to remind you that this is not something to be taken for granted. This right, this privilege has been fought for by many. How dare we squander it because of our frustration. It is all the more reason that we SHOULD vote, that we should voice our opinions.

Today, I visited the grave of Susan B. Anthony. Maybe it was all the research I have done on her, maybe it was the sisterhood, but I felt such power standing there. It was a moment for me. I was alone, standing at the grave of the woman who gave me so much. She gave my daughter, my granddaughter, my sister, my nieces. so. damn. much.

While Susan had a tribe of women and men who fought the fight with her, she is an icon. She is a symbol, a reminder.

Susan said,” Forget conventionalisms; forget what the world thinks of you stepping out of your place; think your best thoughts, speak your best words, work your best works, looking to your own conscience for approval.

I believe her wisdom still applies.

I charge you with this… dig deep, research, look at the facts, look at what each candidate stands for. Do this for every. single. level of government. Vote for who YOU believe in. Don’t worry about what Uncle Jon thinks, what Aunt Tilly might say, this is between you and your ballot. This is between you and your future. This is important.

Fight for what YOU believe in.


Say their names…

I try NOT to rock the boat. I tend to be a peace at any price kind of girl. But I cannot stay silent. I cannot.

What I seem to have no way to convey or express is that I am feeling angry and desperate and hopeless. The horrors of what I witness in our world seems to be much more than I can comprehend. It is unfathomable to me that the targeted murder of specific human beings is discarded without a global uproar. It is somehow accepted as the latest new story and not a motivation for EVERY.SINGLE. HUMAN to cry out.  Why on earth do we accept this?

Please don’t tell me that there are “bad apples in every bunch”. I don’t want to hear it. The killing of innocent people is happening too often for it to be the isolated incident of one or two power hungry people.

I have a healthy respect for the police. I know many who are downright altruistic and some of the finest humans on the planet. This is not the issue. The issue is much larger than that. It is a segment of society that has a complete disregard for precious human life.

Throughout history, we have experienced incredible loss because of violent action prompted and propagated by ignorance and unreasonable fears. We have lost to those who seek power. We have lost to those who disregard the sanctity of life. I can assume nothing else. What we do not know, we hate. What is unfamiliar, causes fear. Fear inspires violence. Violence destroys. The cycle continues.

I could spend the day naming historical dates and actions that would support our total lack of regard for human life.

Make no mistake, we have not evolved as a human race, we are still driven by our own power and need for territory. We have stuffed ourselves into a quiet little corner with our protections and locked doors. We are afraid to cross the street to help our neighbors, we are encouraged to “keep to ourselves”.

If you are quiet, you are complicit.

Read that again. If you are quiet, you are complicit.

We are blessed with a world full of color. Humanity is a plethora of colors, talents, dreams, and opportunity. Our reaction seems to be not one of curiosity and opportunity but one to abolish all that is not the norm for “me”.

However, I feel like because the color of my skin I have no right to declare my dejection. I do not feel the depth of despair that a black mother feels mourning her gunned down child. I do not live in fear that I will be accused of something going about my normal daily activities. I am an invisible middle-aged white woman who generally goes about a day with little apprehension for my personal safety.

 But I feel it none the less. I feel hopeless. Humanity should be better than this. I am confused and revolted by the propagation of fear and need for power that results in lives being destroyed. 

For most of my life I have tried to love. I felt like this was my gift. To love all humans, not just the ones that looked like me.  Dr. King’s sentiments of “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” have been words I try to live by. 

At this very moment, the world feels very dark. It is not just the pandemic related to the Coronavirus and the hundreds of thousands of lives lost. It is indeed, the pandemic related to the flagrant disregard for the sanctity of human life, of human rights, of freedom.

It is time for each of us to examine our very soul and discover the light and the ugly. It is time to look in the mirror and face our fears, understand the motivations, and begin to resolve the darkness. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; ONLY LOVE CAN do that.

Seeking the light in every human is not a choice but a necessity. I have no delusion that we are all peace keeping hippies trying to save the world. I do believe that when you assume darkness in every human that is exactly what our tainted eyes will see. What’s worse, is that we are literally all in this together. One pebble in a stream causes the change in the flow. One light, illuminates the darkness. One person’s actions influence the actions of those that surround them.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

We ALL should be outraged at the behaviors that have led to the loss of life, the destruction of families, of dreams, of possibilities, of the future. We all should hold this personally. We all should seek change, responsibility, and clarity.  

We all… should say their names:

George Floyd
Trayvon Martin
Breonna Taylor
Ahmaud Arbery
Tamir Rice
Oscar Grant
Eric Garner
Philando Castile
Samuel Dubose
Sandra Bland

Let America Be America Again

Langston Hughes – 1902-1967

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

Gallery hours

The gallery is closed this week and part of next week. I am taking some time to prepare for the next show, as well as Artist Row & Irondequoit Art Market!

Have a great week!

Be brave with your dreams

Happy Rainy Tuesday. It is a pretty non-motiviating day here in Rochester, New York. As I sit with a cup of warm coffee, the air is heavy and damp. It is thinking about raining and then almost does, but seems unwilling to commit. The sky is a grey that seems almost nondescript, yet committed to the gloom of the moment.

I am sitting here working on future PR, designing some cards for Greetings 4 Good and thinking (and overthinking) about my immediate business future. They say that a journey begins with a single step. I have taken many steps, and know it is time to take a few more, with gusto and courage too!

No one has the power to make your dreams happen..... except for you. How will you work toward making your dreams realized?
How will you make your dreams realized?

I suppose I am not unique in that I have been searching for some time for the “magic formula”. I KNOW what I want to do, ultimately. (encourage others, spread peace wildly, make oodles of art- SO MUCH ART!) I understand that there is a process to this, a path that is probably not linear. I also truly believe with all that I am that greater success is within reach, but I believe the fear of really walking out on the limb scares me into inaction. I stick with what I know. I have had many brave moments, but once you summon the courage for one goal, you must reach for the next one, right?

So I am thinking, what if I took a left turn instead of the predictable right?

I have seen my business grow on a fairly predictable path. I have enjoyed success, joys, and challenges. I have worked diligently, with courage, and a fair amount of tenacity. I have even witnessed what seems to be successful for others and attempted to adopt what I have seen as best practices for my own. I have worked the last eight years to refine that recipe. In so many ways it is working. I have realized so many goals. I am joyfully a member of a very vivacious artistic community. Yet, In other ways, I am left with the feeling that I am “almost there”.

I suppose the nature of the entrepreneur is to want more. To continue to grow, to continue the bigger bloom.

I do.

What occurs to me is that literally every path is unique. I definitely have my own ideas about life, success, a million other topics. Why then do I expect that what works for you will work for me? Why then do I not honor my own very specific and personalized journey? Why then, do I deny what is inside over what might be successful, popular, accepted, marketable, or even profitable? Isn’t part of the entrepreneur to pave their own way?


I remember taking a trip when I was younger, my mom would plan out every detail. She would go to AAA to get a triptik. (this is before the world of the internet and GPS children) It was magical and exciting to flip a page. (It meant we had traveled at least one hundred miles and we were closer to our ultimate destination) AAA was really well informed about where the construction zones were and other such details. They, of course, could not anticipate where an accident might occur delaying traffic or even re-routing it. (like I said, BEFORE the internet and GPS devices) So, Mom would pull out one of no doubt five or six maps and figure out an alternative to get us around the traffic jam. She had to direct us on a new route. We would switch gears and be on our way.

Hmmm. Seems like a pretty sweet metaphor for what I am talking about, right?

Take note. Life is full of detours and traffic jams. Personally and professionally. No one can really predict what is going to happen in the next five minutes, let alone at the end of the day. Our challenge as tenacious humans is to stay on OUR path, to reach our goals.

So how do we do this? If you are reading this, no doubt you have lived a bit of life. You have had success and failure, growth and pain. You have learned. Right? You have learned so. many lessons. You have listened and observed. You have done the work of your very precious life. If you reflect carefully on all of that, you have picked up COUNTLESS tools in which to pave your road. The road that will bring you to your dreams. Because you see it isn’t enough to dream and wish for things to happen. You must MAKE things happen.

The really good news? You possess the tools. They are right there. Right in your hand.

The bad news? Well, it isn’t so bad, it is merely that it might just be time for you to pave your own road.

We all know that it is probably easier to some degree to be a follower. It is a decision many of us have made at one time or another. However, at some point you figure out that it actually is NOT all that easy to follow. You may inspire me, or I may adopt something that seems to be fruitful for you, but your path won’t work for me. It might for a time, but not ultimately. My path won’t work for you.

So, what does it look like for you? How does your road proceed from here?

It is time for some changes, my friend. It is time for some bold moves, some brave actions. I know it’s scary. I AM SCARED TO DEATH. But I am doing it.

As I lay this new foundation, the road less traveled is where I will be. It is uncertain where it will ultimately lead. I just know, that I am on MY right path. I believe in the tools I have acquired in order to live my best life. Catch phrase or not, it is an apt description of my next step.

I wish you every courage to use your tools to pave the road to your precious dreams.

with great big love,


a rainbow fingerprint with the text "live your fingerprint.
Go get those big dreams!

a cup of kindness, please

I admit that for the last two years or so, I have a difficult time listening to the news in the morning. I used to be a dedicated NPR fan. I listened to know and to grow. I did so, until it all became too much.

Then I tuned out.

I had to. I couldn’t do it. I would listen in the morning and be upset all day and not be able to sleep at night. Yes, I know, I have been told repeatedly. “You are too sensitive.” I suppose that is true. I always have been, as hard as I have tried to “toughen up” I probably always will be.

But is that so bad?

The thing about being sensitive is that even though it can be so painful at times, it is also a tool to succeed at life with. When you are in a room full of people laughing and you can see the one person who is putting on a good show but is full of pain and in need sensitive becomes a gift, instead of undesirable.

I suppose on some level I have not always appreciated this gift. Being criticized for my sensitivity has made it seem like it is a curse rather than a blessing. Fortunately, as we age, hopefully, wisdom comes too. It is easier to see that the glass is half full instead of half empty. Being able to see through the facade to what really is going on with the aforementioned life of the party has been a gift. An opportunity for me to be able to see past and reach out to someone in need.

Going back to my NPR ban. I am frustrated at times that I am both so opinionated and so powerless. I don’t understand much about the world, politics, war. It seems to me that if we put love first, we can live happily and co-exist together ever so wonderfully. I know, it is a naive thought. However, if you think about it, this is not so horrible an idea.

May I ask you a question? When was the last time someone did something kind for you? It could have been the simplest thing. Letting you cut in in a heavy line of traffic, paying for your coffee, sending you a card for no reason at all, bringing you flowers, delivering dinner- whatever the gift was, how did that make you feel? Hold that feeling for a moment. The gesture was simple, but the rewards (for both of you most likely) were great.

It almost doesn’t matter if it had a huge impact or a sort one. The point I am trying to make is that it likely DID make a difference to you. That is very important to this message.

I am hoping your instinct is such that you would like to take that feeling and spread it around a bit. My theory is that when we are busy being kind to each other and even include strangers in that, we have a more difficult time judging or something even more negative. Look at this as little seeds of peace that you are spreading around like confetti!

So what do you do? It’s easy- be thoughtful, be kind. No, you actually do not have to buy coffee for your office mate daily (though once in a while is nice- I had co-workers that brought me one every single Friday. It was just lovely! Thank you, Susan & Anna!). Try this- Let someone out in front of you in traffic, leave a post it note for someone having a rough day at the office, pick your spouse a flower, play a game ON THE FLOOR with a child, (meet them at their level), check with a neighbor to see if they need anything from the store… simple things. Easy things. Smile at a stranger, share the cookies you baked (or bought), celebrate nothing, visit someone, send a card to someone you haven’t spoken with in a length of time.

JUST DO SOMETHING- a little thing… daily – if we each do this, I BELIEVE we will change the world.

Sending YOU love. Will you join me on my crusade?


a heart in the middle that has been painted with layers. the words One act of kindness a day can change 365 lives, #the thoughtfulness project
small acts of kindness, big gestures of love

Time to bloom

When I first began taking my art more seriously, I would sheepishly share that I was an “artist”. I felt like a faker, nothing really, an imposter. At that time as an internally passionate artist, I recognized that in nearly everything I do, art was involved. How I set a table for guests, how I cook (by color- yes, seriously), how I make a bed, and so on. I decided at one point that either It was a deep desire or perhaps it actually had roots.

I suppose like anything it has been a journey for me. I have come into “my own” through layers of acceptance and inspiration. When you think about art as much as I do, there has to be something there.

Yesterday, I was working on a piece for an upcoming exhibit. When we first spoke about this exhibit, my artist friend and partner in the creative were very excited. It all made sense to me. THEN, life happened. I spent nearly three weeks fully entrenched with family stuff and this week, I am trying to get back to work.


But guess what? I am grateful. While this piece was a horrific struggle, I endured. I went through all the stuff I did as a new artist. Insecurity, doubt, all of that. But I kept working. I spent an entire day on one silly 8″x8″ canvas. And I endured.

Just like Spring, in the northeast, we have this battle with spring. It is silly really. It is winter one day and seventy degrees the next. Sometimes my art flows, sometimes it is a struggle. Yesterday it was a particular struggle because I was not only trying to get my head back in the game, I was trying to push it a little. Out of the comfort zone, into a new place.

It occurs to me that I needed to go through that struggle. If it was a test, I WON! How did I win? I kept going. I persisted. I did not give up . There was a time that giving up would have been the easier option.

Spring has sprung, my friends. The struggle is real, and that is okay. Yesterday might have been winter, but today, I am ready to bloom.

B is for Bird (a work in progress by Susan Carmen-Duffy
B is for Bird (a work in progress by Susan Carmen-Duffy

Active prayer

Active Prayer – mixed media on player piano paper © Susan Carmen-Duffy 2019

There are many ways of expressing your heart. Some do it with words, some actions, some music. We each seem to carry worries and concerns with us. We also carry things we are grateful for, and things that inspire. For me, art is a very strong link to my emotions and spirituality. When I create art I bring the best of me to the surface. I feel spiritually balanced. Art heals my aching heart and celebrates my dearest joys.

Over twenty years ago. I discovered the art of Mandala. It was completely an accident. I was creating them without even knowing what I was actually doing. The irony lies in the fact that for me it was instinctual. It was something completely natural and had no basis in my usual exploration. Often I research a new idea nearly to death before attempting it. With this, I had the opportunity to draw beautiful circles using my husband’s drafting tools. I wasn’t really trying to accomplish much of anything. It was more that I had an opportunity. It was an exploration. For me it was a miracle. My exploration turned into an incredible experience. I felt directed and understood, I could breathe deeper. It felt like a miracle. I felt whole as I created. I felt connected. I felt empowered.

For me, the creation of Mandalas did not come from a book or research. It came from my heart. The first time I showed this work publically a friend I had made a few years prior asked how long I had been creating mandalas. She smiled at the recognition that I had no clue what she was speaking about. While I am embarrassed to admit I was completely unaware of this type of meditative prayer, I also see that for me there was a purity in my ignorance. I created a mandala because it felt right to do so. I only discovered the depth of this art when my friend advised me to go get the book, “Creating Mandala” (by Suzanne Fincher). I did so. It was the key to unlocking this art for me. It was an incredible gift.

It all fell into place for me. It was words to a prayer when I lacked the right words, it was a connection when I felt disconnected, it was honor, it was joy, it was love.

When my mother was still alive, she brought me to a gathering of monks creating a mandala out of sand. We sat quietly as they chanted and meditated. I sat breathless as they picked up their tools and began laying down tiny bits of sand to create these incredible large mandalas. My heart broke knowing that they would toss their work into the river, as it was a prayer not permanent.

Eventually. I understood. The power of mandala, the intent, the gift, is priceless to me.

“Meditation” Mixed media mandala on player piano paper
copyright Susan Carmen-Duffy 2019

I feel that meditation is key to calming our very busy lives. I tend to meditate actively, through drawing, mandalas, art in general. Since I have concentrated on doing so, I feel better, I rest more completely and my focus also seems to be a bit better. It is with this spirit that I offer workshops. I believe my expertise is really my open heart, not the hours I have spent reading and discovering this incredible art. Experience and education are important, but more so, I believe an open heart.

In a world that feels so turbulent, this feels vital for me. I have created mandalas as art, and I have created mandalas in sand. I find both exciting, both incredible. Both completely worthy of my efforts and passions. I encourage you to explore what makes your heart peaceful, what sustains you. For me, the creation of a mandala is an active prayer, a song without words, especially when I have one.

I wish you peace, I wish you joy, I wish you love,