Epiphany Blessings to You

Happy Epiphany!  Today, January 6th is Epiphany – the 12th day of Christmas and nearly forgotten by most. In Christian tradition, it is the day the wise men/women completed their journey  – following the wondrous star – to the Christ child. For me, it holds deep and rich inspiration to reflect upon “what Light DO I follow in my life and what Light am I committed to following in this new year?  What is it that truly navigates my path and directs and informs me as I journey?  In Christian tradition it is all tied to the grand celebration of the birth of Christ – to a new birth in our souls. What is it you have given birth to in this season regardless of your religious or spiritual preferences? ? And, it is perhaps helpful to remember that often a new birth requires allowing something else to die – to make room for a new beginning – a truly new birth that we are able to nourish and allow to grow and bloom in our lives.

The winter season, in most climates, brings us indoors more than outdoors while nature moves through its progression of letting go and resting in preparation for yet another spring of new budding and growth.  As we witness from indoors or outdoors, the shifting quiet response of nature to the winter season, may we feel invited to embrace the same quiet time of preparation for ourselves. Appearance wise, it looks as though some of nature is actually dead – barren branches and skeletons of trees starkly marking the landscapes. The skeleton is the bone – the foundation upon which all future budding and growth will sprout. – the foundation upon which all our bodily systems function in miraculous harmony.  As nature requires this season of rest – of dormancy – perhaps we might serve ourselves well to do the same?  Take time to sip that extra cup of tea….take time to enjoy a short nap….take time to sit quietly and simply ponder all the immense wonder surrounding us always.  I like to call this “power lounging”…..taking a few minutes to fuel the soul and truly awaken the spirit.  Happy New Year to you and Happy Power Lounging in 2014 as you quietly prepare to allow a new birth to flow into your life.

Noticing Our Illusions – Letting Go as we Dance with the Vibrant Leaves

In these current times with so much turmoil and change we can easily find  ourselves believing many thoughts and words as fact, without stopping ourselves to investigate if they are really true.  In fact, most of us feel excessive stress brought on by fear itself. The many dramatics we create, and the colorful thoughts we allow to occupy our minds, the stresses we ourselves place upon ourselves, and the seemingly complicated nature of living at this time can feel overwhelming. Yet, if we truly delve into the truth of our circumstances, we often may find that many of these seemingly stressful things are simply illusions with no foundation to create fear other than our own over-active imaginations and stories. While many of life’s events are, at times, very real – most of the accompanied stress I would argue is self-created by the stories we tell ourselves about them.

Illusion of Complexity speaks to this truth with its highly complex, interwoven canopy of branches.  Mirroring a cluster of winter barren trees, the branches of the trees create an utter maze of complexity.  It was created as an expression of the reality that it is always “I” that brings the complexity to my life. We are always as clear and as simple as the first moment we breathed. Illusion of Complexity is a visual invitation to remain still enough, amidst any chaos, to hear that Voice which simplifies, purifies and holds us in our true home. It is that Voice which sifts through the many mazes of complexity and awakens in us a simple, clear knowing that we are always much larger than any of the many distractions we create, or circumstances which surround us – we are always Home.

As we step into the final quarter of 2012, may you witness the falling of the vibrant autumn leaves as a personal invitation to let go of all the illusions and stories you have been holding onto. Let them all beautifully float away as gently as the branches let go of the newly colored leaves which no longer are of service to her. Just as we can see the remarkable, sculptural beauty of the trees branches so easily in this season, allow yourself to let go and unveil your deeper truths – your covered branches – as well.  Let go as you prepare to enter the colder, barren winter season – knowing the truth of who you are and clinging to nothing other than utter trust and peacefulness – peacefully at Home with the firmest of foundations to support you.

Picasso’s Wisdom

Today is the first day of spring! A time when we each can more easily see the beauty of nature waking up once more; and find our spirits renewed as we welcome the growing – greening – season of spring! Few things can truly “awaken our spirit” as does spring – art is one of those rare gifts that indeed does just that. Like the spring, it reminds us of a deeper truth – of the undercurrents of living a full and rich life – of all that is indeed growing and alive whether we readily see it or not with the human eye. Pablo Picasso perhaps says it best: “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”   I love this quote from Picasso as it so articulately expresses the true beauty and magic of fine art. A beautiful creation of art, should indeed, renew our spirit and allow us to readily see and more deeply appreciate the true beauty of life. It is always a hope that my work will indeed cleanse the soul – allowing us to recognize again its perfection while renewing our spirit. Our world may not need art to survive, but indeed it needs the finest art to truly and joyfully thrive! May your spirit be renewed as you welcome this new spring and all the glorious gifts nature incessantly refuses not to share. All of life is well – indeed perfect – beautiful.  Warmest spring blessings to you this day!

Holiday Reflections

The spirit of the holiday season is upon us once more. One of the most challenging facets of the preparation is to take the time to pause and inquire “what is it I am truly celebrating?”  For me, it becomes a time of rich gratitude, hope and anticipation as I enter into that place of contemplation surrounding this question. As winter slowly approaches – we too are nudged to quiet ourselves and prepare for a bit of hibernation, and deep reflection.

I invite you to listen not to the external world of shopping and racing from one event to another, but rather to listen to the outer natural world calling to you – ‘ it’s a season to rest and reflect a bit more’.

It may also be a time of expressing our love for one another – to gather our thoughts regarding the perfect gift to express our heartfelt love and appreciation for the other.  Instead of going to the mall and searching seemingly endless racks of merchandise (much of which is useful) consider something which also gives a message of your deepest intent – a message of inspiration and adoration that will continue to be a companion to your loved one for many, many years after the holiday celebration is over.  Perhaps you could write a letter, or if you feel you are not artistically inclined, cut and paste a collage of images that reflect the nature of that person to you. Many blank journals/scrapbooks are available to present it in a lasting format. Another wonderful gift is a certificate for dinner at your home (create a personal certificate yourself). Prepare one of their favorite dishes coupled with long, warm conversation – real, intentional  t i m e  together.  Light the candles – place a note of appreciation on their plate expressing your gratitude for having them in your life.

And, you might consider giving a piece of artwork.  In the words of Aristotle   “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”  Many pieces of art are very affordable and will last a lifetime – reminding your beloved of your relationship and caring while inspiring their life every day. Alleman Studios offers pieces ranging in price from $95 to $32,000 – a broad range for every budget; and each piece also includes poetry/inspiration as an additional gift. Or – search your local gallery for something that speaks to you profoundly of that person. Many galleries will offer gift certificates as well (Alleman Studios does as well) if you would rather allow them to choose the piece themselves.

Regardless of your gift giving habits, I invite you to quiet yourself and reflect a bit more. If you choose to give gifts, allow them to reflect your innermost intent consciously and lovingly. And, while the world may seem to be racing about furiously – witness the race rather than joining it.  Make it a season of celebration of your life journey and all that is yet to come on it – gratitude for friends and family who enrich the journey – and mostly, for your unique spiritual journey birthing in all its unique, perfect colors and expressions.

My Warmest Holiday Blessings to each of you.

Thanksgiving Blessings

At this beautiful harvest time of year, my thoughts naturally turn to my amazing and wonderful collectors and supporters of my work – and of the visual arts at large. Recently, during a telephone call confirming the details of a sale, the new collector and I were sharing thoughts around the value of what I do – what all artists do. She made a comment to me, that was ever inspiring, and in my opinion, so very truthful. She said: “Our world can exist without art – but it will not thrive with joy.”

So, I extend my very warmest gratitude to each of you who have collected my work and to those of you who have simply and deeply encouraged it. Without your ongoing support, and wonderful encouragement, I could not continue to create with the joy I know and love so well. It is always my greatest intent, to offer some small seed of beautiful inspiration to our world, through my work, and I hope it has, if even in some small way or for a brief moment – opened you to a new sense of wonder, recognition and gratitude. I hope it does indeed bring a deep seed of nourishing joy to your life.

Warmest Thanksgiving Blessings to each of you!

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

In this season, where many places, producing plants begin to die as they offer their seeds for a coming season, we celebrate the passing also of those souls who have already transitioned from this world to another. I have never been a great fan of “Halloween” per se; however, I am a great fan of this season of remembering – with great honor – those who have passed after blessing this earth we live upon. Tuesday, November 1st is All Saints Day which began as a Roman Catholic observance to counter act the Day of the Dead celebrations of many indigenous cultures. All Saints Day is intended to honor all those souls who already reside in heaven. November 2nd is All Souls Day which is hoped to remind those of us still living on earth to live a soulful life and to remember all those who have gone before us – and in the Roman Catholic tradition, to pray for souls remaining in purgatory.  Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead, a Pre-Hispanic Mexican tradition) is celebrated where I live in the southwest with many festivities including the sharing of pan de muerto amidst la ofrenda (a home altar with candles, pictures of the dead, tamales, charms, etc). Pan de muerto is a sweetened bread often decorated with bones and is shared among the ofrenda. I will attend a dia de los muertos celebration this year and share this sweet bread with other friends surrounding the hosting homes’ ofrenda and honor those who have passed from this earth.

Mighty Oak

My small bronze vessel, Mighty Oak, is a celebration of similar intention. Within the root system of the three oak trees, are twelve tiny acorns. Twelve is an elder number – a tribal number. It is hoped to remind each of us, with gratitude, of those having passed from this earth before us and the many gifts they have blessed us with. It is also hoped to remind each of us to trust our own seeds, no matter how small they might appear, to indeed be potent – vital – seeds for ourselves and our world. May we each, in remembering  those we have loved and honored, hold the courage and wisdom to trust the power and truth of our own seeds – nourished indeed by those who traveled here before us. May we trust that each of us has a unique Light to offer this world  – that very Light which will bless us and our planet at once.

Extraordinary Ordinary Walks

The late author Ted Andrews, in his well-known book Animal-Speak  writes; “Every flower blossoms with reminders to be creative and every tree whispers with its rustling leaves the secrets of life”.  Ted’s work continues to be a steadfast  companion and reference for me. His wisdom in understanding the language and  gifts of animals, insects, and the plant world is remarkable and inspiring.  With every morning walk, indeed the flower blossoms and trees whisper to me.

This morning, on my walk I encountered a hawk perched high  on the top of a palm tree. He perched for a few minutes while I stood in absolute wonder sending him my thoughts of appreciation and awe. These amazing creatures are potent reminders  of our ability to soar high and glide upon the currents of life. Most often  they are spotted, as I did this morning – perched high in search of prey while grounded.  Days ago I viewed a local TV presentation  highlighting the Harris hawk in Scottsdale AZ. Just outside the yard of a  Scottsdale homeowner, two hawks built their nest. The couple was able to  witness, from their backyard, the incredible wonder in watching the eggs hatch  and the babies grow. Within a month they were stretching their wings and  beginning to hop as preparation for their first flight. What a delight for this  desert couple to observe, so closely,  the beautiful miracles of nature.

Later in my walk I  was welcomed by numerous colorful butterflies and scurrying lizards. Ted  Andrews suggests the lizard energies can remind us to let go of old patterns or  wounds that bind us and grow anew from them. When the lizard loses its tail to  a predator, it grows a new one! What a wonderful and freeing inspiration. And,  butterflies as we all know are welcome reminders of transformation and rebirth.  Those rare and wonderful moments when we are able to still ourselves from all  distractions enough to thoughtfully  notice the miraculous creatures that inhabit our earth are indeed precious. You  need not be in any renowned vista or special setting to appreciate these  everyday miracles. Your own backyard, large or small, is a welcome place to  quiet yourself and simply  notice the  life unfolding in natural balance. Wherever you are is the perfect place. Seemingly simple moments as these continue  to deeply inspire, direct and expand my work.  I am saddened to witness so many people walking in nature with earphones plugging their ears, or cell phones tucked to their ears. Every day is a window  of wonder….waiting for us to still ourselves enough to notice the seemingly  small movements and encounters with a most grateful heart – it is in these  moments that I believe we each receive profound nourishment and gifts.

Lancaster County, PA

I recently returned from a trip to my childhood milieu in Lancaster County, PA. As always, I was both refreshed and inspired by the grand trees and flora of this rich and potent land. The mature wisteria, which has draped the long porch of the farmhouse where I grew up, was vibrantly green and lush creating a warm umbrella of greens dressing the front door. I always have loved entering the house beneath its shading welcome. I am reminded, each time I walk beneath it, of childhood years of waiting for it to bloom – the true sign that the school year was about to close and the bees to become fiercely awake and productive.

Living in the desert, I’m always on a search while in PA for specimens to take back to the quiet desert for inspiration and reminders. My uncle graciously delivered a bundle of blooming purple (red) clover from his field for me. I collected specimens of white blooming clover and one lonely, blooming dandelion. The dandelions always are a welcome presence for me reminding me to “never stop growing”. They are not plentiful in bloom this time of year, but they continue to grow relentlessly. I love the springtime when they dot the landscape with brilliant yellows in yards, meadows – everywhere! And who has not enjoyed the delight of making a dandelion link bracelet as a child?

My current inclination toward the clover and dandelions likely stems from my weeping heart for the current plight of the honeybee. My grandfather always raised bees on our farm, and we took them for granted for decades. My younger brother has begun carrying on the tradition as he learns the art of beekeeping. He has three new hives on the farm and is learning – as he loses bees. I believe the alarming status of the honeybee to be a profound ‘wake-up call” kind of message to all of us – to give grave attention to what we are collectively doing to our bees and vital insect world – to Mother Earth at large. The bee is said to be symbolic as a messenger between heaven and earth, and I believe they are indeed. Perhaps the honeybee is calling to us for dramatic changes in the way we care for Mother Earth. The rapidly declining honeybee population, combined with colony collapse disorder, warrants unprecedented attention from all of us. The use of pesticides – growing ever more prevalent and in alarmingly stronger doses gives reason to capture our attention profoundly. Without the honeybee, many of the foods (over 30%) we enjoy on a daily basis will indeed disappear.

And so, I will begin my research, as always, surrounding the honeybees’ favorite plants to visit and its habits. Time will tell what treasures will unfold, if any, at the clay table from my work – and what vessel might next appear as a warm and intimate appeal to our hearts.

To learn more about the plight of the honeybee, I recommend reading A Spring Without Bees, by Michael Schacker. http://planbeecentral.wordpress.com/; http://www.globalregen.net/GRNetwork/

Each of us can plant a bee friendly garden, and use environmentally friendly pest control to do our part in insuring the survival and health of the honeybee kingdom – and our future food supply. May we do so – now – with joyful, grateful hearts.