The Mountain Woman’s Guide To Never Giving Up On Your Dreams

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Mountain Woman


I just came back from a trip to the mountains where I facilitated two week long intuitive painting retreats.


Now, this in and of itself is not particularly newsworthy, since I facilitate intuitve painting retreats between 12 and 15 times in any given year.


But this particular trip had a tinge of the miraculous to it because I was in the mountains at close to 7,000 feet in elevation and I felt remarkably good and healthy and happy for most of my trip.


And this has not been the case for a very long time.


I am at heart a mountain mama.


I get my most inspirational creative juice from ANY kind of contact with the natural world, but the mountains are my spiritual home. They are the place where my soul feels the most vital and joyful and blissfully alive.


But 10 years ago, when I was in the throes of menopausal craziness and my body was changing in all KINDS of weird and disturbing ways, I began experiencing altitude sickness. And for any of you that have never had a bout of this particular ailment it is SO not fun.


It’s like having the worst flu, combined with asthma, severe insomnia and panic disorder. And it CAN be life threatening at extremely high elevations.


So when this happened I was heartbroken. And felt like I was in exile from the high places that brought me so much solace and inspiration.



But given that I am who I am I didn’t want this to be the final word on my life.


So I searched for options. I learned everything I could about altitude sickness and found out that they basically don’t know why some folks get it and others don’t. The mechanics of it are understood but not the etiology. 


I drank gallons of water ( since that is always the first line of defense when dealing with altitude issues) and took my time getting to altitude, acclimating slowly.


I tried every alternative treatment I could get my hands on, including putting chlorophyll in my gallons of water, taking all kinds of herbal supplements, homeopathic remedies and whatever else was recommended by friends, Google and health care practitioners.


When those things didn’t work quite as advertised I went the western medical route and had lung function tests, sleep apnea tests and got a prescription for a drug called Diamox.


What I discovered is that my lungs work great, I DON’T have sleep apnea and Diamox makes me feel worse than the altitude. As well as finding out that Western medicine doesn’t know very much about treating altitude sickness.



I sought out a doctor who SPECIALIZES in altitude sickness who recommended that I get a breathing machine like the kind used by folks who have lung diseases such as emphysema or COPD.



This was the first thing that brought me some measure of relief but it didn’t cure me entirely.


So I continued to soldier on.


A lot of folks were sincerely puzzled as to why I would keep GOING to the mountains given that being there caused me so much distress. And I did try one year to take a vacation traveling up the Oregon coast and basically staying at sea level.



I even went to Death Valley because it is BELOW sea level.



Both places were quite beautiful and I had many wonderful adventures. But underlying it all was a feeling of sadness because I wasn’t where I truly wanted to be.



The only thing I knew for sure was that being in the mountains was something I just couldn’t let go of. Something I could never stop fighting for because it was simply too precious to me. I was in love. And true love lasts a lifetime.


So now, here I am. Somewhat bedraggled and bruised from the altitude battles but feeling a sense of hope that a corner seems to have been turned.


This is one of those things that is still mysterious to me because I still don’t know which of the things I did ( and the list of remedies that I have outlined here is far from exhaustive) made the difference. Or if any of them made any difference at all.



I can’t point to any of them and say YES! That’s what healed me.



Maybe it’s a combination of all of it. Maybe my hormones readjusted themselves. Maybe my karmic clock just ran out and I paid my karmic altitude dues. Maybe my body just got tired of my refusal to give up and simply threw in the towel.



So part of this journey was being in the mystery of not knowing. Not knowing what exactly what was happening. Not knowing what I needed to do to make things better. Not knowing if any of my efforts even really paid off.


And part of it was surrendering to the reality that I am not, nor ever have been, in control of how this process was going to unfold.



What I do know is that my passion and desire to keep going for what had so much heart and meaning for me was a worthy pursuit, no matter what the outcome.


And I’m grateful for the spirit that lives inside of me that refuses to give up on what she knows she wants and needs no matter how long it might take to get there.


Or even if I never get there at all.

Copyright © 2014 Creative Juices Arts.

Life Book Winner!!

Saturday, October 4th, 2014



I had over 200 folks enter the contest for the free spot in the upcoming yearlong Life Book art journaling process.


And it was difficult to choose a winner. So I closed my eyes and scrolled through the comments until my intuition told me to STOP!


And I ended up on the lovely Michelle Lake.


Here’s her response when she found out she was the winner:


“I am so completely speechless! I am so incredibly excited and have no idea how i got so incredibly lucky!
I truly have been going through many changes – difficult ones – real growing pains! this is the best thing that could have ever happened! Thank you! i will cherish this all year! xoxox” ~ Michelle Lake

Even though it wasn’t me doing the choosing it was still hard to only have the one spot to give away. And I hope that all the rest of you who want to be part of this process can find a way to participate in the upcoming magic.

So if you want to sign up for Life Book 2015 you can do that here.

Registration Opens October 6, 2014. Looking forward to seeing you there!!

Copyright © 2014 Creative Juices Arts.

Life Book 2015 Blog Hop and Giveaway

Saturday, September 13th, 2014



I am so very honored to be part of a this very special creative journey with the wildly popular LifeBook that is beginning in 2015.


For those of you that don’t know about LifeBook, it was created by Tamara LaPorte, who is an incredible artist and a simply lovely and big hearted human being. And is a year long art journal and mixed media art process for women to explore the many different aspects of their outer lives and inner worlds through the power of creative self expression.



Which is of course right up my alley. And she generously invited me to be one of many amazing guest teachers for the Life Book process.


There are so many things about LifeBook that resonate with MY core values such as the power of being part of a creative community, the emphasis on art as a path to healing and wholeness and the opportunity to use art to learn more about who you really are in a really fun and playful way.


Sign up for LifeBook 2015 here.


I’m really thrilled to be teaching side by side with many creative folks that I already know and love, like Andrea Schroeder, Effy Wild and Flora Bowley. And of course, I’m greatly looking forward to getting to know the other juicy artists that are on the LifeBook team this year. 


During my teaching segment I will be taking you on a deep creative journey, giving you a taste of a genuine intuitive painting process, where you will learn how to trust in your OWN creative voice and discovering what it means to paint like YOU and no one else!



There will also be a blog hop over the next couple of weeks where all of the teachers in the LifeBook community will be posting about themselves and their relationship to LifeBook. Which is a great way to get introduced to these many extraordinary artists. 




8th September 2014 – Tamara Laporte –
9th September 2014 – Jane Davenport –
10th September 2014 – Joanne Sharpe –
11th September 2014 – Jenny Lee Wentworth –
12th September 2014 – Violette Clark –
13th September 2014 – Chris Zydel –
14th September 2014 – Danielle Donaldson –
15th September 2014 – Effy Wild –
16th September 2014 – Flora Bowley –
17th September 2014 – Alisa Burke –
18th September 2014 – Rachael Rice –
19th September 2014 – Jeanne Oliver –
20th September 2014 – Andrea Gomoll –
21st September 2014 – Kristin van Valkenburgh –
22nd September 2014 – Jill K. Berry –
23rd September 2014 – Alena Hennessy –
24th September 2014 – Juliette Crane –
25th September 2014 – Jenny Doh –
26th September 2014 – Mati Rose McDonough –
27th September 2014 – Patti Ballard –
28th September 2014 – Lynzee Lynx –
29th September 2014 – Roben Marie Smith –
30th September 2014 – Andrea Schroeder –
1st October 2014 – Lynn Whipple –
2nd October 2014 – Donna Downey –



Sign up for LifeBook 2015 here. 





And finally, I have one spot in the course to give away for free to some lucky person!


All you need to do to be eligible for the Giveaway is to post in the comments below why you would like to be part of LifeBook 2015. I will be pulling names out of my magic hat next Friday, September 19th which also happens to be my birthday. So it’s doubly special to me to be giving YOU a gift on my special day.


Can’t wait to see you all there, creating your wild hearts out in 2015!


Copyright © 2014 Creative Juices Arts.

The Everyday Path Of Surrender

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Surrender Path


As I try and articulate more deeply what I’m here to teach , I keep coming back to the same thing over and over again. Which is that this work of opening to the creative process is an ongoing exercise in trust.

It’s trusting in yourself as a being who is filled with imagery and color and song and dance and beauty and ideas and magic and inspiration. It’s trusting that you have an internal guidance system of intuitive wisdom and healing that is always available to you. It’s trusting in the ultimate benevolence of the life force and all the ways it carries you and flows through you.

Opening to trust also means letting go of the idea that you are in control of anything. And that you have to be in control. That you’re supposed to keep bad things from ever happening. That you must be continually shaping your life. That you have the power to fix anything. And that anything actually needs to be fixed.


Trust means being receptive to whatever shows up within you or outside of you and embracing it with curiosity, compassion and acceptance.


And finally trust means being willing to surrender.


Surrender is one of those things that is given a bad rap because it is sometimes seen as giving up out of hopelessness. Or giving in to a bad situation. And ultimately becoming powerless.


From this perspective, surrender is seen as weakness. A form of passivity and impotence. A place of collapse and failure.


Surrender is also sometimes glamorized as a swooning maiden in a steamy romance novel. It is portrayed as something that is intense and out of the ordinary. An experience that we have rarely and only in extreme circumstances.

But from a spiritual perspective surrender is a very different animal.

When a sunflower turns its face to follow the sun, that is surrender. When a seed planted in a rich soil breaks free of its encasement and pushes its way up to the light of day, that is surrender. When a wild mustang gallops wildly and joyfully across a meadow, that is surrender. When a baby tries to grasp a beam of light, laughing delightedly, that is surrender. When you look at a sunset and feel the peace of simply breathing in and out, that is surrender. When you enjoy a delicious meal, letting the flavors tickle your tongue, that is surrender. When you feel drowsy and begin to fall asleep, that is surrender.


In all these experiences you, or the horse or the sunflower are completely giving into what’s right there in front of you. You are simply being in the present moment with what you feel drawn to do.


So in other words, surrender is something that happens daily, hourly, minute by minute in our lives. It’s so very common and down-to-earth. It’s in the most intimate fabric of our existence. And includes everything from the mundane to the ecstatic.

Surrender is also allowing life to be exactly as it is, without trying to change anything. Even if it’s something that you don’t like or that feels painful or difficult.

In my painting classes when my students hit a rough patch of discomfort or frustration or strong emotion, the tendency is to want to shrink back from what is showing up. To fight it, or talk themselves out of it or try to distract themselves from it. And I always suggest that they go towards whatever is being presented. To trust that life is giving them this experience for a reason. And that they will get the most out of it if they dive in with a big YES.


So if you’re grieving, let yourself wail. If you’re agitated, be as squirmy as possible. If you are angry, allow the fire to burn through you freely without holding anything back.

And finally, when you allow yourself to simply be whoever it is you were meant to be, that is another level of surrender.


So much of the time we are judging who we are. Or finding fault with what we want. What we like. What we need. What would make us happy. What comes easily and effortlessly to us. Forgetting that all those things are major clues about who we are intended to be in this life.


I had a woman come to me for a healing session and she was the bemoaning the fact that she didn’t know who she was. And couldn’t even begin to figure out how to discover herself.


So I asked her what she liked. And she said she liked making art. And she liked being outside in nature. And she liked learning about things. And when I asked her if she allowed herself to spend as much time as possible doing the things she liked, she said “Oh no. Of course not.” Because she didn’t think these things were important enough or valuable enough to build a life on. She felt like she needed to prove how good she was, so did a lot of things that did not make her happy, like being on committees to further someone else’s agenda, or spending all of her time keeping her house neat and clean.


But once she surrendered to what she liked, the question about who she was became a non-issue. It wasn’t something she thought about anymore. She was just herself, following her natural impulses and desires.


So if you were meant to paint, then turn your spare room into your studio. If you were meant to cook, spend as much time as possible in the kitchen. If you were meant to have a herd of children, get busy! If you were meant to meditate 10 hours a day, make your living room your temple.


What we are all on this earth to do is to surrender freely to the gifts and the interests and the fascinations that were given to us by Spirit, by Creator, by the Life Force. You wouldn’t be drawn to engage with these things if they weren’t part of your essential nature.


It’s how you answer the question of why you are here. And once you unlock the key to that door, everything else falls magically into place.


Copyright © 2014 Creative Juices Arts.