Monday, October 29, 2012

Afraid of the Dark?

Tangles used: Twilight Zone, Flying Geese, Flutter, Flora, Fescu, Nipa Droplets, Yincut, Printemps (variation)
Sakura white Gelly Roll pen on black card stock, with white charcoal pencil

Here it is! My second official Zendala for the fabulous Erin's Zendala Dare! This is Zendala Dare #29.

I did it on black because it is Halloween week, after all. As I began to tangle, I started thinking about what this week's Monday Mandala might invite us to think about. Because of Halloween, I think, I went straight to fears. In addition to fears like snakes and creepy spiders and ghosts on Halloween, our deepest fears can paralyze us. They keep us from moving forward. They keep us from moving altogether sometimes. What are your deepest, darkest fears? 

Darkest fears.

Our fears keep us in the dark. What I love about this mandala is the white ink coming out of the darkness of the black background. White symbolizes the LIGHT. In the midst of darkness, just a little bit of light can guide us out and into a brighter place. So, let's not dwell on fear. What lights you up? What moves you from the darkness into the LIGHT?

Today is a gloomy, windy day in Michigan. I am thinking about my east coast friends and Hurricane Sandy, praying that she spares the coast from disaster. Weather can be so scary. At the same time, there is a shooter on the loose in my area. He has been shooting cars at random on the highway. Whaaaaat?!?! Scary.

I am trying to keep my eyes toward the light today. For me, that light is my family - my husband and our three children, our extended families, and my sweet friends who lift me up and carry me out of the dark. At the center of my mandala, I used a tangle called The Twilight Zone, it seems to be swirling. I imagine the swirling effect could launch us right up and out of the darkness, into the safety of the light.

I love the way this simple dare turned into something so much more meaningful for me. I think that is the power of the mandala + Zentangle. It is the Zendala at work.

Wishing you safety, peace, love, and light today. xo

For my tangling friends, oh my gosh! The Gelly Roll pen was driving me nuts with its thick tip. It was fun to try something different though. Thanks for another great dare, Erin! I can't wait to see everyone's creations!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Cost of Comparison

I think this is what joy looks like.

Comparison is the thief of joy -Theodore Roosevelt

Comparison is the thief of joy.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Comparison is the thief of joy.

This is one of my favorite quotes. When I see it though, I'm not filled with a warm and hopeful feeling, like I am when I read a lot of other quotes. Instead, it feels more like a mobster type guy came up out of the blue and pushed me against the wall. He isn't scary at all because I know, despite his rough exterior, he is a teddy bear on the inside. He grabs me by the shoulders and leans in so close that our noses are almost touching. He smells like Ivory soap and Altoids. He says, "Comparison is the thief of joy" in a tough guy voice. He doesn't add "Got it?" at the end, instead he searches my face, he lands on my eyes to make sure I got it.

My eyes say "Yes. I got it." He slaps me on my shoulder, like football coaches slap their players after a great play, and walks away.

Comparison is the thief of joy gives me goose bumps, but I love it because almost every single day I need that reminder.

I used to love taking my first baby to his well-baby exams. I was so proud of my healthy boy. I loved hearing how he had reached all the important milestones he needed to reach between then and the last visit. I left feeling like a superhero. It was blissful, really.

My second baby was very sick when he was born. We had no idea it was coming. Every little fantasy I had about nursing him right away and holding him close, skin to skin into the wee hours of the night, flew out the window when they whisked my purple baby boy away. I felt like a failure. Fortunately, he came through like a champion and it wasn't too long before the trauma of his birth didn't define him and his life here on earth. Soon, he was meeting all the milestones he was supposed to be meeting. It felt different though. I never felt like a superhero.

When I think about how we compare ourselves to one another, the first thing that comes to mind is those milestones. From BIRTH, before we even have a chance to prove ourselves, in our fresh little, sweet-smelling bodies we are compared to one another. It only makes sense that as parents we learn to determine how well our children are doing by how they compare to other children. And then it goes on. We get graded in school, we compete in sports, we interview for the same jobs as our peers. It never ends.

That's just on the outside. On the inside, we actually begin to tell ourselves we are not good enough because we don't measure up to the people around us. We are not healthy or strong or thin or athletic or smart or sweet or aggressive or pretty or handsome or rich or humble or generous or frugal enough. We are never enough. OR, we are too much - too sweet, too thin, and so on.

We can't win if we listen to what we hear, all around us, even when we think we're okay, because an "expert" will tell us that he can get us where we should be. Or, an advertisement will tell us there is a product that will help us get to where we could be. Slowly, over time, we begin to believe the messages all around us that tell us if we just had this or that, or did this or that, we would be happy. Even when we really are happy, we hear these messages and we have to decide whether or not to believe them.

It is helpful to gain insight into our growth and development by comparing where we are with other people in similar circumstances. It is completely natural to gather data about people and our environment by making comparisons between what we experience around us and in other people and who we are to ourselves. The thing is though, making comparisons rarely leads to feeling good. Even when our comparisons make us believe that we are actually better or stronger or thinner or prettier or smarter or more enlightened... than the person to whom we compare ourselves.

Comparison truly robs us of our joy. We cannot be joyful in a place where we are comparing ourselves to others, or even to our former selves. I could not be joyful in the birth of my second son, not only because of the sheer trauma of fearing for his life, but also because I couldn't stop comparing his birth to my first son's birth. I felt like the superhero mother I once was, was no longer.

In the process of comparing, we are looking for differences. As we identify differences between ourselves and those around us, and differences between who we are today, and who we once were, we forget about the qualities that remain the same. We forget about the ties that bind us. We forget about the ways in which we are connected.

At each of our cores, in our souls, or in the depths of our hearts, there is nothing but goodness. Were we to distill ourselves to the essence of who we really, truly are, we are all - each and every one of us - love. We all want to live well, in whatever form well takes for us. We all want what is best for our children. That we forget this in the course of comparison, that we fail to see the divine goodness in one another, is the biggest tragedy of all. True joy comes when we feel connected - to each other and to ourselves.

For me, I invite discontent when I compare my work to other people's work. I will always find better, more refined art and writing than mine. I will always find people who run more lucrative businesses than I do. As I focus on the ways I don't measure up to others and their accomplishments, I lose sight of one of the most exciting aspects of life, which to me, is that there are so many different ways to express oneself.  How wonderful to see how other people's inspiration takes form - to see and read and hear what moves other people. These discoveries can be so inspiring. I want to embrace that inspiration and that sense of community and connection that comes from understanding and even taking pride in the fact that we are all in this together. We may have our own individual lyrics and our own unique moves, but we are all dancing on this one stage called Earth together.

I invite us to make notes about one another, if we have to, to learn and to grow, and to celebrate our differences. After all, what would the world be without big, soft women to hug us? And thin women too? Boring. What would our lives look like if we were all the same color, with the same eyes and mouths and hair, and we spoke with the same voices? Dull. We can't all be athletes. Who would be left to cheer? We need to have different strengths and weaknesses. We were meant to have different gifts from one another. Differences are good. We are all exactly as we should be - different. And, while we hold space for our differences in one hand, at the very same time, I ask that we hold space in the other hand for all that is the same: the essence of what we really are - all goodness and pure love. I ask that we recognize, at the end of the day, we are all made from the same stuff. We are all bound by that which makes us human.

Nothing compares to the joy we experience when we embrace that we are connected.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Truth, Dare, Double Dare

Wow! I tried something new today...

I am participating in a blog challenge! From what I understand these challenges are a pretty big deal in the art blog world. This one is really neat. It is called The Zendala Dare, and this week is number 28 in the series. I learned about it from a fellow CZT (Certified Zentangle® Teacher) graduate. I will admit, last night when I saw some of the artwork people posted, I was very intimidated. I started that AWFUL comparing thing and knew my work would never compare. But, as I was so kindly reminded, it's not about that. At all. It is never about that. IT is about the process and the process was really fun!

So here it is...

I'm especially excited about The Zendala Dare in particular because I am really drawn to mandalas. These little works of art pack a lot of power. To actually create one is quite remarkable, and is becoming a bit of an obsession. The meditative aspect of Zentangle in and of itself is so relaxing, but then to be making mandala, which can be used as a meditation tool, is like cruising into DSW and getting two pairs of awesome shoes for the price of one. Euphoria!

And, like most things I love, I want to share! So, I've been thinking that Heart Connected will feature a mandala each week on Mandala Monday! Fancy, huh? I experimented a little bit with the idea last Monday with this fall themed mandala on Facebook...

So, for Mandala Monday, I'd like to invite you to take a moment to really look into the mandala. Think about the seeds you planted throughout the year and ask yourself what growth needs pruning? Maybe, to make room for new growth. And, what needs to be nurtured so that it will continue to grow? And what isn't working at all? What can be pulled and recycled into the earth for the benefit of something or someone else? No judgment, just sit with these questions for a bit...

It is already October 22, 2012. I can't believe it! This year is flying by and I think I might still be tired from last year's holiday season. The stores are ramping up to do it all over again. I'm thinking a lot about what I've done in the past how that will change now that my kids are a little older, I'm a little wiser (and older), and life is a little shorter. I'm leaning toward keeping it all really simple this year. What is going to work for YOU? I wish you all the best as you pursue whatever it is!

If you want to participate in the Zendala Dare, click the Zendala Dare button on the right-hand side of my blog. The button will take you where you need to go. 

Take care! xoxo

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


This morning I tackled a collection of piles I've been keeping in my bedroom. Every little piece of laundry put away and everything else relocated. I'm so proud of myself, I don't know what to do next! The day is flying by now and I'm feeling a little lost in the wind.

My eyes keep wandering back a little project I just finished, so I decided to tell you about it.

I have been practicing yoga on and off for years at a wonderful yoga studio in my town. The studio is run by one of the loveliest women in the world. When I first shared some of my art with her, not long ago, she graciously invited me to try selling a few things in the yoga center's boutique! I was completely blown away by the idea. Then, before we had even placed everything on the shelves, someone bought this sweet little piece...

I was so amazed that someone would buy something I created. I am still amazed. It is the most incredible feeling to know that something I made touched another person. I am trying to think of a good word to describe that feeling. I keep coming back to, surprise surprise... CONNECTED.

So, I didn't realize it at the time, but that same lovely someone contacted me the other day and asked me to do two custom pieces for her. Again, I was amazed. Then, scared. To. Death. As she told me what she wanted, I nodded and visions danced around in my head and slowly, I became so afraid of screwing it all up. I didn't want to disappoint her. I wanted her to love it. She seemed so confident in me though, I couldn't help but wonder if maybe she was right, and maybe, just maybe, I could pull it off. Then, she said she wanted me to incorporate the symbol for OM.


I didn't think I could do that.

But, guess what? I did.

 I started with a red background...

Then I used a stamp to embellish the background.

Eventually, I painted that OM sign! Painted. P-a-i-n-t-e-d. 

I know, right? I can't believe it either. I practiced quite a few times before I actually tried to paint it. I still can't believe I did it. Crazy.

And, now, it's all finished! Custom made art for a woman named Anna (great name, huh?)

I added some extra angel love, just for her. I hope she likes it!

Art is such a great metaphor for life. Art provides endless opportunities to try new things. To practice when you don't get it right the first time. To start over. To trust that IT, whatever IT is, is not about the outcome, but the process. Life is art, really. I do believe that. It's part of what I need to believe in order to support my belief that we are all artists. 

A year ago, I was still drawing the same stick people I began drawing when I was in kindergarten. No joke. Now, I'm painting angels. I'm excited thinking about how my angels might evolve, wondering what they might look like in another year, hoping they will reach out and touch even more people with their messages of love and hope and glitter, and all the while... I am trusting in the process.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

I Can See Straight

For about a year now, my left eye has been very sad. It looks like I have pinkeye, but I don't. Not my optometrist, nor my doctor has been able to figure out how to make the redness go away. We've tried a few things. Today I saw a new guy - the opthamologist. He has a hunch and I have some new eyedrops. AND, I can't wear my contact lenses. Until further notice.

I've been wearing contact lenses since I was 15 years-old and I received my very first eyeglass prescription. I'm a little disgruntled. I can't see as well with my glasses and I run into things. Okay, so I run into things with or without my glasses, but I do see better wearing contacts. I told my mom I wasn't sure how I could do art wearing glasses (I admit, that was just a little dramatic...). She laughed and said, "I can only do art wearing glasses." Moms are funny.

Me, in glasses.
I know wearing glasses is not a big deal. My dad wore glasses. My in-laws wear glasses. My ten year-old son wears glasses and he doesn't complain. A lot of people wear glasses. I just need to get used to them. Maybe I'll never wear contact lenses again? The thing is, I was already feeling overwhelmed in my life.

I'm taking two amazing on-line classes and learning so much that my head is spinning most of the time. As of last night, I think I spent about 24 hours looking for the "perfect" blog background. It may have been a delay tactic on my part (delay making dinner, delay folding laundry, delay putting the kids to bed...), but I really wanted to spruce up my "kitchen table." That's what we call our blogs in my over the top filled with amazingness Flying Lessons class with Kelly Rae Roberts. I want people to feel welcome here at Heart Connected, so creating the right ambiance is very important to me. I found this one first (the one you see here on the blog), compliments of Shabby Blogs, and liked it right away, but that didn't stop me from continuing the search. It sort-of feels like it was made for me.

Okay, so then I've got my mom gig. I think I just this week finished completing and returning all the back to school paperwork. And, I'm getting ready to start teaching Zentangle®. YAY! It's all good, but it can be a lot sometimes. Simply having to take care of myself seemed to be getting in the way today.

As I left the opthamologist, feeling a little blue, I thought about all the people who receive serious life-changing diagnoses each day. I know life is like that - it can, and it does, change in an instant. I am grateful that for today, I left the opthamologist with just some eyedrops. 

I have also proven to myself that I can do art in glasses! Here is something I've been working on...

I love playing with the funky flower techniques I learned in Brave Girl Art School

Here's a side view:

It's all crackly and cool. I love the way the sides turned out! 

These particular flowers are especially meaningful to me, but I can't quite figure out how to articulate that meaning...Perhaps that will come in a future post.

So, the only real problem I've had with my glasses today is that they fogged up at the bus stop. That's what happens when you sweat while blow drying your hair, then go to the bus stop in 31 degree weather. I'm sure a wearing glasses learning curve can be expected. And, that's what I get for blow drying my hair!

That is all from me today, your Heart Connected, Grateful Artist in Glasses. 

Sending love... xoxo