I’ve been on my annual pilgrimage to the Southwest for the past three weeks and as always had many wondrous adventures in the high desert landscapes that I love so much.
This pilgrimage has been part of my personal yearly cycle for the past 18 years. Every September I pack my bags and a ton of art supplies and head out on a 20 hour road trip from California to New Mexico with a major stopover in the town of Sedona AZ.
The final destination of the journey has always been the Ghost Ranch Conference Center in Abiquiu, NM where I would host a week long Wild Heart Painting retreat.
So it is with a heavy heart that I need to let you know I have ended the retreats at Ghost Ranch and will not be going back there to teach again.
I knew this day was coming soon. I had anticipated that my time with the ranch was coming to a close, based on a variety of factors… both personal reasons and issues related to significant changes in the administrative policies of the ranch. But I had hoped that it wouldn’t happen for at least another couple of years.
In truth, I NEVER wanted my time of teaching at Ghost Ranch to end.
I first visited the ranch in 1998 when I attended a workshop combining shamanic practice with the intuitive painting process. And while the retreat itself was fabulous, the truly momentous event for me was falling head over heels in love with the overwhelmingly majestic beauty of the 22,000 acres of red rock desert that goes by the name of Ghost Ranch.
During that September 1998 retreat the moon was gloriously full in the sign of Pisces. And magic was EVERYWHERE. I remember walking at night in the bright light of that enchanted moon and knowing deep in my bones, like I had never known it before, that the earth was alive. I truly experienced her as a sentient, pulsing being with her own intelligence and wisdom and desires. I felt my love for her with a holy passion and felt her love for me in return.
That red rock mama and I made a pact that night… sealed through a conversation that I had with a giant Cottonwood tree… who talked to me when I talked to it.
And in that pact I promised to honor her and her amazingly intense creative energies by bringing as many people as possible to this incredible land to paint and create and be healed by her power and her love.
I kept my side of the bargain and so did she. I have hosted 23 retreats at the ranch … and each time I was completely blown away by the predictable miracle of hearts and minds and souls breaking open and breaking free via the incredible mystery that is the creative process.
She never failed to support me and my people as they made their own pilgrimage to the sacred space of the land itself and into that sacred space of their deepest souls.
She was often an uncompromising teacher. One of the things that is so compelling about that desert landscape is how it embodies the element of fire, bringing people to the raw edges in themselves and stripping away anything that is non-essential. And inviting the diamond heart of each person who made the choice to connect with creative source to be brought more fully and brilliantly into the light.
Within her fierce desert womb I witnessed the holy process of spiritual transformation, death and rebirth happen for my students again and again and again.
People were never the same after coming to Ghost Ranch with me. And many of them returned year after year to be cooked in the otherworldly yet grounded essence of her ability to support the truth of who they were through the creative process.
It was truly agonizing to make this decision to finally say goodbye to offering my work at the ranch. The realization that I needed to make the change … and make it NOW… came head-spinningly suddenly during this most recent week of the wild heart painting workshop.
I was in tremendous grief as I realized that the day I knew was coming was now actually here. I bargained and schemed trying to find a way to make ONE more retreat happen. But in the end, I had to do what I teach all of YOU to do, which was to listen to my heart and my intuition and to honor the clear NO that I was getting from spirit. And to follow where the energy is leading me.
I know this will come as a shock to many of you. And I’m deeply sorry for whatever disappointment or sadness this may cause you. Some of you … like me … thought that the Wild Heart Painting retreats at Ghost Ranch were never going to end. And had hoped to join me there one day in the future. I’m heartbroken that that won’t happen. I truly wanted EVERYONE who was hungry to experience the red rock magic to be able to join me there.
However, the deep soul and healing work that we offer through the sacred creative circle, the expressive arts and the wild heart intuitive painting process will continue.
Tim and I are more committed to this process than EVER before. I can feel the work deepening and becoming even more powerful and I still have MUCH to share with you.
I have been exploring some other MARVELOUS places to offer my painting retreats and am truly excited about what the future holds for this work and for my beloved wild heart community.
And of course there is always the upcoming Mountain Home workshop in January and The High Sierras retreat in June.
However, I also know that there is no place like Ghost Ranch. That the magic of that particular sacred container can never be replaced.
So I will grieve. And know that the spirit of the red rock land will continue to live in my heart and soul and bones. That what she has taught me over these many, many years is now an intrinsic and indelible part of me. And that I will love her forever.