Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mojo Monday ~ Love and Loss

IMG_1697I know a few things about love and loss.
I know a bit about grieving,
for I have danced with death on more than one occasion.

As I begin to write this post about a death, a birth and two heart surgeries my quirky mind jumps to thinking about the film called Four Weddings and A Funeral or those jokes that start off with "A priest, a rabbi and a minister walk into a bar..."  Perhaps it is not in my best interest to share how ADHD my thoughts can be, and may I add, how they exhaust me at times.  Yet it is true that these past two weeks have included the death of a great uncle, the birth of a great niece and two heart surgeries, an aunt's and that of a very dear member of my creative Cosmic Cowgirl community.

My auntie's heart surgery went smoothly and she is on her way to recovering.  The heart surgery of Sue Hoya Sellars, a master artist and matriarch, on Thursday, September 18th also appeared to be successful. All the monitoring during the long procedure indicated things went well.  There was a beautiful video live stream post surgery, where those present and those of us miles away could touch base and share in wishing Sue a speedy recovery. However things didn't go quite as expected because Sue didn't wake up.  As the hours and days rolled on vigils began and still family and friends held onto hope that she was simply healing in "Sue time."

As more time has passed the shadows of doubt have grown.  The community has circled around sending waves of love from around the world, while writing poems, drawing and painting, in honor of she who has taught many how to wield a paintbrush and how to mix her unique blend of black paint. In the midst of tears that I shed multiple times a day I am inspired by all the creativity and love that abounds.  There is the 30 day Committing Art with Sue that launched.  I have seen so many beautiful drawings and paintings posted by those who have been touched by her and this community.  I have fallen head over heals for the quotes that artist Christina Gage has been creating from close ups of her paintings and the wise words of Sue herself.   I have been moved by the poetry and written words of so many who wish to share their experiences with Sue and offer words of comfort to one another. I have loved hearing how many have visited the hospital, sitting and talking to Sue, singing to her, drumming for her and certainly praying for her.

Sue with her art and quote collages by Christina Gage ~ Forms of Joy by Christina Gage
Sue with her art and quote collages by Christina Gage ~ Forms of Joy by Christina Gage

Even as I write this on the evening of Thursday, September 25th, Sue is alive, blood flowing through her veins, and her heart pumping.  Actions were taken earlier today though to remove all the tubes and wires, so that family and friends could move her to her beloved Terra Sophia homestead.  The latest update was that she remains unresponsive and it is expected that she will transition from life to the great mystery called death.

Every day since the surgery I have awaited the announcement that she has awoken.  I have expected to hear accounts of her waking to joyous reactions and great relief.  I have imagined her look of surprise to learn she has been sleeping for a week.  Many have suggested she has been soul traveling and will return with stories of visiting the cosmos and spending time with ethereal beings.

I reflect and find irony in how my most recent taboo article for Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine is entitled We Are All Going to Die.  Poetry Can Help.  The day my article was published is the day I learned Robin Williams was no longer with us and not long before that one of my all time favorite human beings, Maya Angelou, had passed away.   In the here and now of grieving for the very real likelihood that Sue transitions in the next hours or days, the title of my own article feels more real than ever.  Yes, we are all going to die and yes, as I continue to witness, poetry can help.  So can painting, singing, drumming and writing as we transform grief and loss into expressions of love and beauty.

Sue believed strongly in the power of art to heal and to connect with our consciousness.  As a part of fulfilling her deepest wishes and the legacy of her vision a Barn Raising has been initiated.  Sue's longtime homestead is called Terra Sophia and an invitation has been extended to be a part of Sue's vision for her property to become a sanctuary for committing art.  Please visit the "Barn Raising" site to learn more on how you can participate.  On this site is also a beautiful video that offers a peek into Sue's world at Terra Sophia.

I have been a part of the Cosmic Cowgirl community since October 2008.  This tribe of creative women has impacted my life significantly.  Sue intimidated me a little the first time I met her and I joke that it was the "toilet paper lecture" that did it.  Those who have heard this same detailed instructional guide from Sue can nod knowingly and then giggle.  It was the second time I met her that I was struck strongly by the depth of her love and kindness.  I saw in her eyes the wisdom and the generous heart that poured forth.  I admired her deep contemplative mind and her gentleness.  I also loved her humor and wit.  That second time upon preparing to depart from an amazing weekend spent with Cosmic Cowgirls I went to say my goodbye to Sue and found myself spontaneously announcing "I love you Sue." I saw the glisten in her eye as she took in my heartfelt words.

Some people affect us more deeply than we know, especially when faced with their departure from our lives.  Sue was at the heart of the Cosmic Cowgirl community.  She is beloved to us all.  I pause while typing this to hold my hands to my face while stifling a sob. I wipe my nose and dab my eyes and return to sharing written words for comfort and a way to process the grief.  Later I will turn to the paintbrush and a canvas to transform tears into expressions of art.  Always I will turn to this community of creatives for connection, friendship and support.  We are bound by the red thread.


In closing a song that felt called to be shared.

Raven Song

by Elephant Revival

Raven Song
Lyrics by Elephant Revival

If I was a raven
I'd fly on through the heavens

I'd fly to all my loved ones
If I was a raven


If memory's worth saving
I'd savor the feeling
of knowing love and loving
I'd remember the feeling


Some say upon that mountain
there is many a raven

They call out to the living
from somewhere far beyond them

From those we've loved
that have flown on

From those we've loved
that have flown

In Wind and Shadow by Aaron Paquette
In Wind and Shadow by Aaron Paquette

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mojo Monday ~ Inspirational Odds & Ends

Breath of Fresh Air

Where do you look to for inspiration?  

Even if you are feeling blue or overwhelmed have you
identified beacons of light that can
brighten up your day or offer a breath of fresh air?  

Do you turn to nature, art, uplifting quotes and words,
music, writers, websites, or perhaps a combination of all of the above?  

Do you subscribe to any inspirational magazines, newsletters or video feeds? 

Share in the comments some of your inspirational touchstones.

Here is a list with links and notes 
of those things that have inspired me or 
perhaps provoked feelings and thoughts recently.


The course Hello Soul Hello Mantras by Kelly Rae Roberts.

Kelly Rae is an artist I have written about before
or mentioned in posts herehereherehere and also here
because I have felt a kinship with her social worker soul 
and her creative mixed media artistry.  Her class was something
I decided to treat myself too after simmering in the blues.
The on-line course kicked off on September 8th and I am feeling very inspired.

Are there any courses you are taking that you would recommend?

Love feather anahata katkin

The art and designs of PAPAYA! which predominantly
features the art of Anahata Katkin.  

I visited the flagship store in
Ashland, Oregon in July and again at the end of August. 
The store fills the senses with scents, colors, texture, 
deep dark chocolate and so much beauty.
While one won't get to taste the chocolate, feel the fabrics 
or smell the perfumes and lotions one can visit their
website to explore the hundreds of inspirational images.

Are there any particular artists that inspire you?

artist room

My own Artist Room

I recently did some late summer cleaning in my artist room.  
Partly in preparation for the Hello Soul Hello Mantras course.  
It felt good to dust and do a little rearranging and clearing out.
Having a beautiful-to-me inspirational sacred space is important to me.

Have you created or found an inspirational space for yourself?


I receive via email every single day an uplifting and positive article
from the good folk at Daily Good ~ News that Inspires

Some articles I read that very day.  Others I read at a later time.  
The team that gathers the articles from near and far, 
as well as research and writes about the 
wide variety of topics and people, do an amazing job.  
I am impressed that it all began with a single person.

"DailyGood was born in 1998, when one college student 
started sharing inspiration with a half a dozen of his friends 
by sending them an enriching quote every day.

Today, DailyGood leverages the internet to promote 
positive and uplifting news around the world to more than 
100,000 subscribers through the daily and weekly newsletters. 
Readers receive a news story, an inspiring quote, and a suggested action 
that each person can take to make a difference 
in their own lives and the world around them."

Do you subscribe to a regular newsletter 
or email subscription that inspires you?


If you have yet to check out TED Talks
I encourage you to do so.

I receive regular email updates for their latest videos.
This week I was particularly moved 
by the video by Zak Ebrahim entitled
I am the son of a terrorist. Here's how I chose peace.

Are you already familiar with TED Talks?
If yes, do you have any favorites to recommend?


The last topic that has been on my mind has to do with the heart.

On Thursday I learned that one of my aunts was
to undergo heart surgery on Friday.
The good news is that the surgery appears to have been very successful
and she is recovering very well.
Then on Saturday I learned that a matriarch in my creative community
is also very unexpectedly scheduled to
undergo open heart surgery this week.
I have been sending prayers for healed hearts
and my inquisitive nature had me reading about the heart.

Did you know these very interesting facts about the heart?


Herat and Brain I and A

Inspiration is swirling all around us.  
Sometimes when I am blue I can get tunnel vision.
Reminding myself of all the beauty and wonder 
in our world brings me back into the light.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Mojo Monday ~ Friendship

Karin and Myself
 Photos above taken August 30, 2014 in Medford, Oregon ~ Friends in our forties.
Photos below taken about 1994 in Aix-en-Provence, France  ~ Friends in our twenties.


“friends: us. always. travels. stories told and a few kind lies.
lots of laughter and a little chocolate. secrets shared and tears shed.
kindness with time in between. dreams and awakenings.
long roads, healing and quiet comforts.
wicked mischief and wanton hilarity.
time and always us: friends. always.”
~ Mary Anne Radmacher

This past weekend I had my annual get together with my long time friend Karin.  We have met in a variety of places throughout the years, but for four years we have met in Oregon.  Back in 2010 we both drove six hours to meet in a coastal town called Florence.  But ever since I suggested we meet up in Ashland, Oregon in 2011 and Karin fell in love with this town, that I have long loved, it has become our meeting place. She flies down from Seattle and I drive up from California and pick her up at the airport in Medford.  We then hang out in Ashland and sometimes nearby Jacksonville, where the Britt theater offers up concerts and sometimes comedy.  This year we saw comedian Bill Maher perform Friday night, while divine timing made it possible for us to see my favorite band Gypsy Soul perform on Saturday evening at an intimate fan concert at the Eden Vale Winery.  It was a beautiful location and evening and such a small venue that we concert goers even had time to visit with the band.  

Photo collage featuring Cilette Swann and Roman Morykit from Gypsy Soul.
If you are not familiar with this band do yourself a favor and visit their web site
and listen to their music.  They are amazing and inspirational!
Gyspy Soul

As my friend Karin and I caught each up other on the happenings of our lives we reflected on the many years that have passed since we met back in 1993.  We were two young Americans studying in Aix-en-Provence, France and ended up in the same class.  We eventually became roommates for about half a year.  All these years later we are still in touch and making the time to get together. Months often pass without talking, emailing or texting, but the friendship is always alive and we pick up again easily when we do get in touch.  

She and her husband have been married 15 years; me and my husband 11 years.  She has two children, a son who is twelve and a daughter who is about to turn eight.  I also have two children, twin daughters who turned eight back in May.  In returning from our wonderful weekend get-away and visit I pulled up an old Mojo Monday post I shared back on July 19, 2010 that was about friendship and my visit with this same friend four years ago:

"I drove six hours north on Friday to meet with an old friend in Florence, Oregon. She drove six hours south from where she lives in Washington state. We spent two nights in a comfy cabin and had approximately 24 waking hours to talk and catch each other up on our lives and what is happening in our respective families and children, she has an 8-year-old son and a 3 1/2 year old daughter and I have 4-year-old twin daughters.
We have been friends since 1993 when we met in Aix-en-Provence, France. I was studying French as part of a University exchange program. Already fluent in Spanish, she was independently studying at the same institute to improve her French, as she was working for a British publisher there in France. We were in the same class and became friends. I had come with a large posse of Californian college students. She was there essentially on her own and while she originally came from Texas she had already lived in Mexico and Spain. I immediately admired her independence and her gift in speaking languages.

When I decided to extend my stay in France past the standard one-year commitment I had to find a new apartment and roommate and my friend Karin was also seeking a new place as she was staying on in France too. We became roommates and spent another half year living in France together. We witnessed one another’s falling in love, her with an Italian and myself with a Moroccan. She was incredibly supportive when my Moroccan fiance died in a car accident and I tried to be supportive when she and her Italian parted ways.

Our life journeys continued in other parts of the world. I returned to California and she moving to Baltimore, Maryland. She came to California to visit me and then entered an MBA program in Italy where she met her husband who is Colombian. She moved with him to Argentina and then to Miami after they married in 1999. I flew to visit them in Florida when she was pregnant with her first child. They moved to Tennessee and then eventually to the state of Washington. Both of us being on the west coast now has made it easier for us to see one another once a year these past three years.
This past weekend we talked about our friendship and reminded each other what we admire about one another. We are the same and yet different. We have shared international experiences and a love of travel. We have both dated foreign men. We are both now married and have had children. We have both had our struggles with adjusting to being a mommy and have supported each other with our understanding and supportive words and nods of knowing. We also share certain social values, views on parenting and life in general that continue to fill out the nuances of our friendship. We also always remember one another’s birthday, and the birthdays of one another's children."  

I smiled as I read through the account of our visit four years ago and felt happy from our recent reconnecting.  Time continues to roll along, changes happen, we grown older and perhaps a little wiser.   We witness for one another the various joys, celebrations, milestones, as well as challenges and hardships that may present themselves.  As we parted at the airport we agreed to try and touch base more regularly, though we are both understanding about the demands of our daily lives and know that even if aren't in touch all the time our friendship ties remain strong.

What are your thoughts on friendship?

Do you have a best friend or a close group of friends?

Have you ever experienced the painful loss of a friendship?

Do you have any tips on keeping a long-term friendship alive and well? 

Praise to the Women on My Journey

To the women on my journey

Who showed me the ways to go and ways not to go,

Whose strength and compassion held up a torch of light 
  And beckoned me to follow,

Whose weakness and ignorance darkened the path and 
  Encouraged me to turn another way,

To the women on my journey

Who showed me how to live and how not to live,

Whose grace, success and gratitude lifted me…

To the women on my journey
Who showed me what I am and what I am not,

Whose love, encouragement and confidence held me 
  Tenderly and nudged me gently

Whose judgment, disappointment and lack of faith called 
  Me to deeper levels of commitment and resolve.

To the women on my journey who taught me love by 
  Means of both darkness and light,

To these women I say bless you and thank you from the 
depths of my heart, for I have been healed and set free 
through your joy and through your sacrifice.

Rev. Melissa M. Bowers

Here are some interesting books that touch upon women’s friendships and relationships:

The 7 Aspects of Sisterhood by Debra J. Gawrych

Sacred Circles: A Guide to Creating Your Own Women’s Spirituality Group by Robin Deen Carnes and Sally Craig

Queen of Your Own Life: The Grown-Up Woman’s Guide to Claiming Happiness and Getting the Life You Deserve by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff

Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Breakup with Your Best Friend by Irene S. Levine, PhD