Stop looking so you can SEE

Stop looking so you can SEE what's around you. It sounds a bit silly really doesn't it?

It was a dark and stormy night... no, actually it was a light and sparkly wintry morning and I was having my coffee and reading Danny Gregory's, Everyday Matters.

One chapter stood out to me, he had written about really 'seeing'...

When you look at something you are filing it into a category, "I'm in the park", "Here's Soho", "Light's green." It's easy it's fast it's the way to cope with NY. But when you just let yourself SEE, it's like opening a window on the first day of spring. Things flow in, sharp, differentiated. Instead of whipping past, you study things you didn't really know existed."

Danny Gregory started drawing after his wife was involved in an accident, and with many hours in the hospital, sitting and waiting, started to draw.

"I spent most of my life not believing I had the right to consider myself an artist in any way.

But then I started drawing about fifteen years ago and it changed my life.

It led me to travel, to meet people, to get books published,

but most of all it transformed the way I see the world around me and how I experience every day."

Danny's art journal books (and videos - hope you enjoy these) are very inspiring, and I've revisited them many times. Over the years of studying, teaching and practicing mindfulness, I've found that it is fascinating, if you start to slow down... and take your time when looking, what you do see.

I'd never seen rainbow surf till a couple of years ago, but now if the light is right, just on dusk, when the sun is low in the sky, you will see rainbows on wave crests.

It still amazes me that it's taken me till my late 50's to see that, given that the beach is my happy place, my walking place and general go to place.


Split Rock at Crowdy Head National Park pictured above.

I've been hosting a creative cluster for Walking In This World the second book in The Artist's Way series, and part of our weekly exercises is to go for a walk for about 20 minutes. Not a hard task given all the natural beauty around this area.

I'd been wanting to head down to Diamond Head for a bush walk, and today seemed like a good day to do that.

So we packed up a picnic and headed off, and with Danny Gregory's words in my mind, I slowed down, and attempted to move past looking and into seeing.

The stones in this area are so interesting, there seems to be a range of basalt, granite and I don't know what else... of all sizes and shapes. They are ideal for stacking, and it was a delight to see all the stone stacks that people had left behind.

We both joined in and created one as well.

Dannys' words stayed with me this morning as I balanced on stones, steadying myself against the wind that was buffeting me, in order to take photos.

On the way back I kept looking up at this stone formation, and as I slowed down stopped and looked, my eyes focused in on a giant stone heart.

What a delight to discover, and a reminder what can happen when you stop and how much more you can see.

If you're ever in the vicinity, and like camping, there are spots for your van or tent, with lots of kangaroos and wallabies grazing, it would be a lovely place to spend a night or two. Maybe take the sketchbook and do some drawing, or just have some time out to do nothing (another task from Walking In This World).

We did the shorter of the walks, from Diamond Head Campground to Mermaid Lookout, as the afternoon was closing in and the temperatures dropping. Next visit we will allow more time, and do the longer walk that takes in Natural Arch.

Who knows we may even spot a mermaid on Mermaid Reef.

On Vulnerability and the Inner Artist. Honouring our Baby Steps as Creatives.


By Kareen Fellows

Inside many of us is a place where the inner artist has been left feeling vulnerable. That vulnerability may have happened when we received negative comments about our creativity, or where people laughed at our creativity, or even from where we felt left out. It may have been from where we felt compared to someone else, and not good enough.

One of my vulnerable places happened when I first started to paint years ago. I was in a back to work program and we were very fortunate, as we had a wonderful range of inspiring teachers who offered us courses in computing, art, and design just to name a few. Teachers who truly encouraged our creativity. Anyways... one teacher gave us silk paint, and silk material and we got to do anything we wanted.

At that time, what I wanted more than anything, was to own my own house. It looked as though I would never get one. I had heard of creating vision boards and symbols so I decided in this artwork that I would focus on home.

So I painted away merrily and was having a lovely time. UNTIL… a woman from the class walked around and looked at my art, and laughed at it and mocked me. I cringed inside, and the old critical voice took hold. I thought, ‘oh it is stupid’, ‘it is too childlike’, ‘why did I even bother’, ‘oh throw it away’, “I can’t do this” … etcetera and so on…

HOWEVER… something happened when I looked at my simple art… I looked at the colour first, and thought, ‘oh but I like the colour’… and then I remembered my focus in creating it, was the focus of owning my own home, and what that artwork represented to me… and suddenly, it didn’t matter what that woman thought.

I was happy with my creation… and do you know what happened once I reached that place inside? Other women started coming over and saying lovely things about it… which also was nice, but most of all, what was important to me, was my realisation. It is one piece of art I kept to remind me of that moment.

As you read this, are you aware of a time when you felt vulnerable over something you created?

Brene Brown gives an insightful talk about vulnerability - if you would like to listen in...

And as a footnote, yes the vision boards worked.

The Door

I discovered a poem today called The Door, by Miroslav Holub. It's the type of poem I like... an invitation.


Doorway at art gallery Port Macquarie with a dear little visitor.

The Door

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog’s rummaging.
Maybe you’ll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.

Go and open the door.
If there’s a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only
the darkness ticking,
even if there’s only
the hollow wind,
even if
nothing
is there,
go and open the door.

At least
there’ll be
a draught.
Miroslav Holub


Photo taken on Sydney's Northern Beaches
(I want one just like it)

I invite you to open the door today, and create a poem of your own, about what you see, will you join me? Here's mine...

I Opened The Door.

I opened the door
today and I saw,
soft rain falling,
and my mother's dog Emma,
as always,
eager to have her breakfast.

I opened the door
today and I saw,
tiny frangipani flowers on the lawn,
the last of the blooms.
Orange bush orchids bright
contrasting this dull day.

I opened the door
today and I saw,
the ocean in all it's glory,
and a swimming pool of deepest blue.
A horse and a kitchen counter,
shaped like a cue.

I opened the door today. Did you?


Emma

Blog... another word for diary.

Today my mother's home went on the market to sell. I was there early helping to create a loveliness for the open house, just as she would have done for people to come through and see her home. She passed away at the end of last year just prior to Christmas, and now it's time to sell her lovely home.

I'll miss the many morning teas and chats together.

Seeing how neat and tidy all her photos were, inspired me to do a similar thing at home. And what I've loved finding as I clear and sort, are the little memories that are surfacing along the way.

And in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. Kahlil Gibran.

It's very comforting to find a message here or there that I've kept from her. Anyhow all the clearing and decluttering led to digital decluttering which in turn led me to my original blog.

I've been blogging since about 2007 on my original Frangipani House blog, and thought I'd use it for the blog hop challenge on facebook. But somehow when I decided to fiddle with the html of the front page, I've managed to lose access to the front page of the blog. Long story short, after 'trying' to sort out the problems, I found another memory of her...

November 6, 2009...

So hubby, mum and I had gone to the club last night for a bit of dinner and a glass of wine, to watch the sunset, the yachts and the light on the water.

And as we sat watching some pelicans in the river, my mum asked, "Why don't you ever see baby pelicans? You see ducks with their babies, and all sorts of animals with their babies, but I've never seen a baby pelican."

Well that made us all stop and think, but not for too long, can't tax the old brain too much. And we realised that none of us had ever seen a baby pelican either. Have you?

Sunset Port Macquarie

Anyway for a short moment, I was back there at the club sitting with her in my mind. It was what the Irish call a 'soft' moment, and I was so glad that I'd added the story to my blog.

When someone you love becomes a Memory, the Memory becomes a treasure.

Memo to self; write more of those little snippets of everyday moments, they are very heart warming.

From my favourite place to you today, may you have many soft moments.

(BTW. Strong suggestion to those who would with play with blogger main page html layout on Google - BEWARE - and in case you know how to remedy the situation, would love to hear from you. )


About the art in this blog post. I'm occasionally turn to my journal in fits and starts to learn how to draw, and use inspiration from books that I have at home here. The drawing was inspired by Cate Edwards and the quote by Kahlil Gibran from the book Philosophy by Suzanne Maher - love her books so much.

The little stitched mandala was made by me, I used material from the wrapping from flowers that I received.

The Art of Memory

I've been taking a few time travel trips the last few days. Yes, I have finally made it around to clearing the clutter of my family photos. Some years ago I took photos out of old albums, the ones that were going sticky with age, and had been meaning to sort them out.

Anyhow... the last few days I've finally faced my nemesis, and have successfully managed to get them into some semblance of order. In the process, I've been contemplating memory and creativity, and how to get my memories into some type of artful arrangement. Which in turn led to googling, as you do, on memory. I invite you to contemplate The Art of Memory with me.

The relationship between memory and creativity is even enshrined in the mythology of the ancient Greeks. ~ Daniel Kilov.

Mnemosyne, Goddess of Memory
~ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

In his TED talk you'll hear Daniel mention, The Goddess Mnemosyne. I'd never heard of her before so I went in search of an image, and discovered this beautiful one by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Oh to be able to paint like the old masters. In Greek mythology, Mnemosyne was the daughter of the Titans, Uranus and Gaia and mother of the muses, the Greek Goddesses of creativity.

Sorting Through My Memories

The memory keepers of old only had their stories to pass down the generations, to keep the his-tory the her-story alive. I wonder today if our memories aren't getting a little less workouts because of our digital age. I don't know about you, but my phone stores my memories in the form of images, stores my phone numbers, and so many other things. I no longer work my brain to remember my phone numbers as my phone does it all for me, and I wonder sometimes, if it is really good for my brain.

And then, I appreciate the moments that I have been able to keep alive through my camera. Moments that I can walk down memory lane again, and time travel to another moment, away from now.

It's interesting how a photo can bring back a flood of memories. This quirky whale lived at a house just around the corner from my inlaws. I always wanted to see it's mouth empty for a photo shoot, but it was always full of junk mail.

Just beyond that whale, lies a pathway that winds through braken fern, that leads you down to Middle Harbour. Once there was an old swimming pool, but sadly after it fell into dissaray, was dismantled. The photos here, are ones just prior to it being lost forever.

Many delightful swims were had in that old pool. Mind you, you had to be careful of the oyster shells, all at once tempting you to eat them, while being to scared to.

Then there's the time that my brother in law took a delight-filled dive in from that wall there, only to remember midway through the dive, that he'd left his car keys in his board shorts.

The car keys were the electronic type. The ones that won't work once wet. Well I'd never seen someone pause mid air before, but when he realised what he'd done. He did. He paused, he grabbed at his shorts, yelled, 'Oh _ _ _ _, no' and then fell in. It was fascinating. I had that interesting combination of alternating concern and raucous amusement.

Photos can bring back so many memories, funny, sad, tender. As my husband and I looked at old family dvd's we realised how they'd also captured moments of local history. Clontarf in the early 1960's before the hills were covered in what are now multi million dollar homes. I have to say that we did spend a few wishful moments willing ourselves back in the time to purchase some of those blocks of land.

Did it work, that wishful thinking? Perhaps if I see you at Clonnie pool one day, I'll let you know, but more likely I'd best keep that to myself. Where would you go if you could travel with your memories? Would you buy blocks of land, or go and talk to someone? I'd love to hear where your muses take you.

The true art of memory
is the art of attention.

~ Samuel Johnson.

Listening into our Natural World

The Earth has music for those who listen.
~ George Santayana

February already, and Valentines Day as well. I hope that you are treating yourself to something delightful today. It's been so humid here that even a walk on the beach late in the day isn't bringing much relief. But our art journal group is in action and creating some pages to add to our collection. Here is a nature inspired journal entry from a recent prompt.

Some inspiration to create by today. "Bernie Krause has been recording wild soundscapes -- the wind in the trees, the chirping of birds, the subtle sounds of insect larvae -- for 45 years. In that time, he has seen many environments radically altered by humans, sometimes even by practices thought to be environmentally safe. A surprising look at what we can learn through nature's symphonies."

Something I learned from watching today, is that every tree makes a difference.

Art journal prompt should you care to participate: create something from a Ted Talk that has inspired you.

Some more inspiration from Louie Schwartzberg. "Louie is an award-winning cinematographer, director and producer who captures breathtaking images and stories that celebrate life -- revealing connections, universal rhythms, patterns and beauty. His notable career spans feature films, television shows, commercials and documentaries. He won two Clio Awards for TV advertising, including best environmental broadcast spot, an EMMY® nomination for best cinematography and the Heartland Film Festival's Truly Moving Picture Award for the feature film "America's Heart & Soul."

His new film, Wings of Life for Disneynature, won Best Theatrical Program at the Jackson Hole Science Media Awards 2012, and also won a Best Cinematography Roscar Award. He is currently directing Mysteries of the Unseen World, a 3D large format film for National Geographic. Louie is active in the TED community, having spoken at the TED 2011 conference in Long Beach, CA, TEDxSan Francisco and TEDxJackson Hole. His YouTube videos have collected over 25 million views. He is also launching Moving Art™ on Panasonic Smart TV's this fall, an IPTV channel that will inspire, entertain and transform the home viewing screen into an emotional immersive user preference experience."

As the sun sets on 2017

As the sun sets on 2017 I want to wish you and yours, peace for your soul, love for your heart, and a space for your creativity.

Join me in 2018 to explore your creativity, through The Artist's Way, Mindfulness and Expressive Art Journalling.

The Great Round of Mandalas - Stage Five

The Stand Point Mandala. To create a stand point mandala, stand on a piece of paper, draw an outline around your feet. Afterwards, draw a circle on the page to contain your feet. Then decorate.

Stage five of the great round. What do you stand for in this world? It can be a challenge to stand and speak out for what you believe in this world. To not hide out, or to remain quiet.


What do you stand for? | Heather McPhie | TEDxBozeman
Olympic freestyle mogul skier Heather McPhie talks about goal-setting, self motivation, and a journaling system that she used to push herself to succeed.

"We assert our beliefs when we take a stand on an issue. We also may stand and be counted when we cast a vote in support of an issue in a democratic process. In these instances we demonstrate verbally or physically that we are present and that we have a personal point of view. We may stand to be seen so that others will know that we are present. In taking these actions we assert the importance of our existence and proclaim our presence as a unique individual with our own identity." ~Suzanne Fincher in The Mandala Workbook.

ART 180: "What Do You Stand For" from Community Idea Stations on Vimeo.


Virginia Currents takes a look at ART 180's "What Do You Stand For" project. The traveling exhibition features 8 foot tall self-portraits by 25 sixth grade students.

Some of the images for the music video above may be challenging to watch.

The Great Round Mandalas - Exploring Stage Four

Stage Four - "is the domain of the good mother. It is reminiscent of your first relationships as an infant." Suzanne Fincher in The Mandala Workbook

I discovered this beautiful image when on a day out at Foster, NSW. I happened to go for a walk on the beach there at sunset, and noticed the art that had been painted on the beach wall.

Another beautiful image representing mothering at a local pre school in our town. Have you been lucky enough to have had a 'good mother' in your life? Are you a 'good mother' to yourself? What makes a good mother do you think?

I took the photo of the image at the centre of this mandala outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in July 2017, I was so drawn to the image that was posted outside the Cathedral. The spiritual mother figure - do you have a spiritual mother figure? In the religious training that I grew up with, there were no feminine images... so sad really, now I am very drawn to the spiritual images of mother. A lack of balance in the patriarchal religiosity of my heritage perhaps.

Explore The Great Round of Mandalas - contact me for more details.

Native American Indian Spiritual Music - Ceremony to Mother Earth

The Great Round - Stage Three

The Great Round Of Mandalas... Labyrinth.

OK, now let’s get practical. In our first show, Be Limitless: Breaking Down Mind Barriers, Dr. Larry Dossey talked about his new book, One Mind, in which he reports convincing data for our being limitless. The idea makes sense, but how do I tap into the One Mind; how do I get in touch with that part of myself that is more than what I currently know? The Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress will share with us one tool for doing just that. She is the leading expert on the Labyrinth. Not only has she written books on the topic, but she actually brought this ancient spiritual tool into modern day usage. She went to Chartres Cathedral in France, removed the chairs covering up the labyrinth and copied the dimensions. Since then, labyrinths have been created around the world, indoors and outdoors, in secular settings, hospitals, religious institutions and people's backyards.

Visit Lauren's Website: Lauren Artress.com

More mandalas from Stage three - dream catcher mandalas.

"Dreams are an important communication from your unconscious. Remembering them, journalling about them, drawing them, and sharing them in a dream group are ways to integrate the healing messages they convey." ~ Suzanne Fincher

"Mandalas of Stage Three often suggest depth and the twists and turns of plant tendrils along a mysterious path through the jungle. The possiblity of moving from one level - of experience, consciousness, emotion - to another is often suggested by mandalas of this stage." ~ Suzanne Fincher in The Mandala Workbook.

I created the dream catcher to represent my dream mandala... perhaps I have had a dream about a mandala, but I don't remember it.