When All Seems Lost


Imaginal This
"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, 
the master calls a butterfly."—Richard Bach    
suzannemcdermott.com

In Transition


Hi there!  suzannemcdermott.com is in transition. Over the next month or so, we'll be moving into new site. Meanwhile, feel free to browse through this soon to be previous site.  See you on the other side!

Rosemary for Remembrance

"There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember;"
—Wm. Shakespeare, Ophelia in Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V
Today is the 102nd anniversary of my mother, Rosemary Fogarty McDermott's birthday.

I spent much of the day making this watercolor of a rosemary plant. In the middle ages, brides would wear rosemary in their hair and grooms, a sprig of the plant. Coincidentally, I found my mother's wedding ring while looking for a pair of earrings today and slipped it on.

In folk traditions, rosemary was said to be good for the memory.

Ah, but rosemary is good for so many more reasons. Indigenous to the Mediterranean, the original latin word, rosmarinus means dew of the sea.The scent is invigorating and a strong pleasure.

I recently bought a new bottle of doTERRA essential oil of Rosemary and have been using it every day. I've used rosemary oil on my scalp and hair for years. It's stimulating for the scalp and helps make hair lustrous.

Rosemary is an absolute must have on hand in my medicine cabinet. It's fabulous to add to hot steamy water. Throw a towel over your head and inhale to help with sinusitis, hoarse voice, and flu symptoms. Rub a few drops on your temples and inhale for headaches (mix with Peppermint oil for astounding results.) For that matter, the same combo will help bring you around if you're feeling faint.

If you're not feeling faint but just confused, drop some rosemary essential oil in your palms, rub them together, inhale and then massage with your fingers around your hairline and forehead and into your scalp. This will help clear your mind.

Going through a transition in life? Rosemary will help you adjust. The essence of this woody evergreen gives you confidence and trust in the unfolding of changing circumstances—an understanding that there is more at work in events and circumstances than meets the eye.

Can't figure out a problem? Rosemary helps with learning, too.

And then, there are potatoes! And Focaccia. Rosemary as food in the kitchen. Mmmm....

I'm in the midst of a 6 week course in Creative Journalling with Essential Oils! Make sure you're on my news list for the next go round. We're enjoying ourselves immensely. Look to your right in the sidebar to add your name to my news list. Privacy always completely respected. 

The Grand Tour + Charleston Watercolors

Click here to download both for $25.
Upon payment, you'll be redirected to your downloads with clear instructions.

NEW eBooks!

Together, these eBooks include most of the travel paintings I made throughout my European and South Carolina touring years as a performing songwriter morphing into a full time painter and teacher of drawing and watercolor with a downloadable song in each.

Click here for excerpts from the original blog.

or...
Complete set of eBooks

Click here to download complete set of 6 for $60.


See above descriptions for the first two eBooks, click here for more about The Age of Flowers, Walden Pond Watercolors is a personal study of Thoreau's legendary site with related excerpts from Walden.

Click here for a description of Basic Drawing Lessons, and Creative Wake Up is an inspirational approach to starting each day of your life from the inside out.

Lavender: A Universal Panacea

Lavender Field, 5 x 7 inches, graphite + watercolor, Suzanne McDermott

I cannot imagine life without Lavender

By now all the Lavender in Provence has been harvested.

I once visited the Lavender capital of the world. That's Digne, or Digne-les-Bains, also the capital of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Their annual Lavender Festival ended yesterday. I'd wanted to visit Digne for many years.

When I finally got the chance, it was November. I boarded the Chemin de Fer and chugged up the side of the Maritime Alps on what started as a beautiful day on the coast. As we climbed into the mountains, the first snow of the season began to fall. Lovely.

By the time we reached Digne, the air was chilled and everything was wet. Lavender season had long passed. No lavender to be found. Everything but a small café was closed and I'll remember that café for having the single most expensive cup of tea I've ever purchased.

Still, I slogged through the slush and rain in search of an historic house I never found and eventually worked my way back to the station for the ride down the mountain with my sopping socks slung over the radiator.

It was a wet adventure but at least I can say that I've been there. Several days later, I did find great Lavender oil at the market in Antibes so all was not lost.

Somewhere in between Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, Yardley of London put Lavender on my pre-teen radar. I have not lived without it since. It was a large presence in Guerlain's far more sophisticated Jicky which is why I must have loved that perfume so. For years, I used the Crabtree + Evelyn Lavender Water but that formula was retired in 2012.

No worries. Now, I take my Lavender straight, no filler, no alcohol, no additives. Just the purest essential oil.

If my ashes can't be scattered at sea, a field of Lavender will do.
‘As Rosemary is to the Spirit, so Lavender is to the Soul.‘
— Anonymous
What? No Lavender plants?

I keep a little bottle of Lavender oil at my desk and in my purse at all times. And by my bedside, too.

I had a terrible burn last week and part of my treatment is aloe vera mixed with Lavender and Melaleuca oils. Melaleuca (Tea Tree) Oil is antibacterial and Lavender is analgesic, antiseptic and a skin regenerator.

Lavender is also a great sedative which is why a little bottle lives by my bedside. It helps me fall to sleep when I need a little nudge.

Some people make wonderful food with Lavender. That would not be me but whenever people do this, whatever the food is tends to look and taste particularly lovely.

Lavender makes my clothes smell great (I add it to my detergent and put drops of oil on cloth in the dryer. Lavender also keeps moths away.

But the very best thing about Lavender (for me) is that it smells so good and makes me feel so happy! Oh, did I mention that Lavender is an anti-depressent? It's that, too.

There are plenty more uses, but that's enough for now.

Click here to try a bottle of dōTERRA Lavender Oil. For me, it's the best Lavender to be found outside of Provence.

Or, better yet, pick up a starter set of dōTERRA oils with their Introductory Kit of Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint.

Click here if you'd like my help with an order.

Want to learn more? Click here to sign up for a free 10-day Introduction to Essential Oils course.

Work on yourself with me

Want to learn drawing and watercolor as a way of personal transformation? Make sure you're on my waiting list for special notifications. Click Here to add your name and email.

Considering private coaching? Click here to get in touch about 1-on-1 Private Transformational Coaching.
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One way to train your mind

Ice Floe, Watercolor, 6 x 6 inches, $95

répétez s’il vous plaît

All situations are passing memory.

That's the First Absolute Bodhicitta Slogan and plenty to turn over in your consciousness for the next week (or for the rest of your life.)

We get stuck so easily. I see it happen all the time with drawing and watercolor. A person hones in on one little section of a drawing and worries it to death. With a watercolor, someone will try to fix a section before the watercolor has had a chance to do its thing and kills the whole painting.

It's simple to point out these behaviors of mind in the learning and practice of drawing and watercolor because those habitual behavioral tendencies present themselves right there on the page.

It's more difficult to check the habitual negative thoughts and ingrained patterns of reactions in the course of our everyday interactions.

One great thing about living at this very moment in time is that we have so many available tools to help us evolve into the radiant beings we are waiting to shine.

If you'd like to learn more about the ancient Tibetan Buddhist approach to mind training with slogans like the one above, click here for the Wikipedia entry on Lojong.
"It's not a matter of simply parroting these slogans once we've developed familiarity with them we have to use them to bring about a real change in our outlook. Words and phrases can have a positive or a negative impact on us, depending on their content. If we really think about these slogans and understand their profound subtleties, they will help to maintain our bodhisattva attitude and interrupt our negative flow of thoughts. According to the lojong teachings, we cannot underestimate the power of these sayings. Every time we remember a slogan, it will automatically help us not to react to things in our usual habitual way."
—Traleg Kyabgon, The Practice of Lojong: Cultivating Compassion through Training the Mind

Make a commitment to yourself

Want to learn drawing and watercolor as a way of personal transformation? Make sure you're on my waiting list for special notifications. Click Here to add your name and email.

If you're considering private coaching, Click Here to get in touch about 1-on-1 Private Transformational Coaching.

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Creative Supplements

Suzanne McDermott, Strike, as in sudden success
Watercolor, 8 x 8

Supplements I love

A creative life requires a strong life force and healthy living.

There are various components to healthy living but one of the most important is eating right and supplementing what we eat with that which makes our nutrition complete. Especially as we age.

I made a list of the supplements I take for a friend of mine last week. I've decided to share that here with you. This is part one of a Stuff I Love series.

I spend an entire segment in my coaching program on supplements I take and why, what brands of supplements I recommend and why.

No, I am not a doctor. (But you knew that!) No, I am not "qualified" to make medical recommendations. Yes, I like to share about what works for me and about products I love. Yes, we are all different with different needs, especially when it comes to vitamin supplements.

Still, I'm sharing what works for me (it changes over the years, with introduction of new products and with particular health concerns I experience.)

My dad was big into Gaylord Hauser, Adele Davis, Euell Gibbons. He swam a mile a day, walked everywhere he could and dragged me along jogging through the park and down the beach. Healthy food, good supplements and fit living is and always has been an integral part of my life.

That being said, I can't possibly go into all of the reasons I take and like all of the supplements I do, I can only say that I've spent hours and hours and hours researching, trying and noticing results from the stuff in my stores.

For example, MegaFood multi vitamins are whole food based, you can take them on an empty stomach and not excrete a bit. I'll never buy another brand of multivitamin.

After many years of using their products, I trust Jarrow Formulas completely.

For a B12 supplement, I would only take the Deva sublingual brand. (see store list.) That's after many hours of reading and comparing and a couple of years of personal use.

I'm taking a Ginko Biloba supplement to address my tinnitus. The jury's still out but I'm giving it a go.

I tried taking Lutein for my eyes and damn if I didn't notice an almost immediate improvement. Also, I learned about NeoCell products for Collagen and Hyalauronic Acid supplement and my hair and nails have responded miraculously.

Ester C is the only way to go for proper Vitamin C absorption.

I'm super picky about the brands of supplements I use and do extensive research on the production companies.

Anyway, I've made up an Amazon store with my recommendations. Take my suggestions or leave them. I wouldn't take anything that I hadn't researched thoroughly, and I research thoroughly.

Details of each an every one of the products I recommend are for a more extensive platform at some future date or as part of one of my coaching courses. For now, you can just browse and learn and try for yourself.

Have fun!
I believe that you can, by taking some simple and inexpensive measures, lead a longer life and extend your years of well-being. My most important recommendation is that you take vitamins every day in optimum amounts to supplement the vitamins that you receive in your food. —Linus Pauling
Work with me

If you'd like to learn more about my one-on-one coaching process, get in touch and tell me a bit about your situation, we can start with a discovery session by phone.

Click here to get in touch about making an appointment. I'd love to chat for a bit and to see if what I offer is a good fit for you. Just send a quick message. Don't be shy.

Click here for 1-on-1 Private Transformational Coaching.

One opening later this month for a 90-Day Turn Around program.

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Dig Down Deep

Radical Sidewalk, Suzanne McDermott

Astrologically...
I understand that this month is the time to pull together all the work we've done over the past year but haven't been able to quite get off the ground and to "Fly, Baby, Fly" (as one of my favorite astrologers said this morning.) Which is a funny expression considering the title of this post.

If you want to grow up true and strong, you have to make changes and corrections in order to welcome in what nurtures you. The seasons change, the angle of the sun changes, the soil is compromised, development happens.

Change is relatively easy when you're young. It's almost what life's all about up to a certain point. But then, it's oh, so easy to come to a stand still of sorts. You reach a certain level of comfort and wonder, hey, why change?

Our needs change. Or we remember unfulfilled dreams and realize that there's only so much time left. Or we get some nagging feeling that there's something within us, unexpressed, unrealized. But we can't quite put our finger on what it is. To get to the root of our problems, our desires, our attraction to change we do have to go within, to the source, and dig around.

Like any creative process, the deeply examined life is a discovery process. Discovery is play with the unknown, with uncertainty. That realm is very, very messy. Messiness can be extremely uncomfortable and even scary. It's easy to lose our way or become mired in fear and negativity.

This where a good guide can come in handy. I know. I've been lost, I've been abandoned, I've been guided and I have guided others.

I like guiding and teaching others best. It feels good to have clarity and to know what questions to ask, in which direction to point another so that they can see the daylight at the end of the tunnel. Or just to help another put chaos into order. Sometimes, personal solutions are as simple as that. Sometimes the difference between a not so great drawing and a pretty darn good drawing is correcting the slant of one line or adding a little value in the right spot.

Whether I'm teaching drawing and watercolor or coaching for personal transformation, or piloting through the creative process myself, I've learned that it helps to have some experienced and encouraging outside perspective with some consistency over a period of time.

When you dig down deep, you're going to get dirty. Life is messy. So is the creative process. It helps to know you're not alone.
"I help people as a way to work on myself, and I work on myself to help people ... to me, that's what the emerging game is all about."
—Ram Dass
Work with me

There are many changes unfolding behind the scenes here to make my drawing and watercolor and coaching programs more better for more people. Although I'd love to wave a magic wand, these things (all things) take time to build and grow properly.

The truth is, it's the process that's so interesting, so magical.

All that is to say that I have one opening now and another opening shortly for private clients. If you'd like to learn more about my process and tell me a bit about your situation, we start with a discovery session by phone.

Click here to get in touch about making an appointment. I'd love to chat for a bit and to see if what I offer is a good fit for you.

Click here for 1-on-1 Private Transformational Coaching.
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  • with bonus song download
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Do Yourself A Favor



Move away from your computer...

Put down your smart phone or tablet or whatever backlit screen you're looking at (after you finish reading this), pick up a pencil or pen or stick or... use your finger on your steamy bathroom window and DRAW SOMETHING!

Drawing is good for you.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been on a mission about the benefits of drawing. Such a hard sell. People think you need to have training, be an artist, they're not interested (valid) or too afraid to pick up a pencil.

Drawing is fun. It's your right. It's for everyone.

Since my online drawing and watercolor courses don't start up again until 2015, those of you who are waiting might want to get started now. August is a good time for some juicy little creative projects.

Need support to start drawing? My Basic Drawing Lessons book is surprisingly fun and encouraging. I start all my longer courses and private coaching in drawing and watercolor with the simple steps in this book.

After playing through this book, you'll understand drawing in a different way. The best thing is that it'll get your creative flow moving from your divine source, through you (the instrument) and out onto a piece of paper. You'll become better acquainted with yourself and the world around you.

Try it. You'll like it.
"Drawing used to be a civilized thing to do, like reading and writing. It was taught in elementary schools. It was democratic. It was a boon to happiness."
—Michael Kimmelman
Enter Here



Want a more of a workout?

This DIY short course in drawing and watercolor (using only watercolor pencils) includes all the content from Basic Drawing Lessons plus a bunch of videos taking your through a fun, rewarding and experience in line and color.

It's called Enter Here to Draw and Watercolor and is an easy way into connecting with your creative flow.

Testimonial
"I absolutely recommend this course to friends and colleagues, and have definitely learned more than I expected about drawing and seeing."
— Ellen Howard Bentz, Johns Island, SC
Want to dig deeper?

Click here for 1-on-1 Private Transformational Coaching.

Only one opening available in early August.
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Pucker Up

Suzanne McDermott, Watercolor, 5.75 x 7.75 inches

Forget about lemonade for minute.

Keep fresh lemons on hand. Squeeze one in some pure water and drink that down the hatch. Especially first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Forget the sugar.

Here are a few awesome things fresh lemon juice in water will give you:

  • a shot of Vitamin C for your immune system and to help counteract effects of stress
  • a dose of potassium which is great for your heart, brain and nerves
  • a boost for your enzymes, stimulating your liver for an internal toxin flush
  • a way to quell hunger pangs thanks to pectin fiber
  • a remedy (along with apple cider vinegar) to dissolve gall stones
  • an energy boost
  • better skin because the juice is packed with antioxidants

That lemon juice dripping from your hands? Massage it into your hands, fingers and forearms. Massage that leftover juice into your face, too. Straight lemon juice is great for your skin and, over time, helps to reduce scar tissue and bleach out those nasty age spots. Ah, feel the tingle!
I made lemon spaghetti in an early season of 'Everyday Italian,' and to this day people still come up to me and say they love it. It's very, very simple. Basically, you cook the pasta and mix together Parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice and zest and pour it over the pasta.
—Giada De Laurentiis
What? No Fresh Lemons?

I keep a little bottle of "Liquid Sunshine" on hand at all times.

Lemon Essential Oil is antiseptic, good for cleaning, strengthens fingernails, restores energy and, if you're using the pure dōTERRA essential oil, you can add the oil to hot tea or water with honey to sooth a cough or sore throat.

The pleasant, sweet aroma of lemon oil is uplifting, lightens your mood, can boost your self-confidence, help you focus and definitely puts a smile on your face.

Click here to try a bottle of dōTERRA Lemon Oil.

Or, better yet, pick up a starter set of dōTERRA oils with their Introductory Kit of Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint.

Click here if you'd like my help with an order. For example, enroll for wholesale prices and the Beginner's Trio Introductory Kit above will cost you $20 rather than $66.67. I'll help you learn how.

Want to learn more? Click here to sign up for a free 10-day Introduction to Essential Oils course.
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Goodbye Charlie



I was very sad to hear that Charlie Haden left us on Friday.

I hung out with Charlie for a while in the early 80's and we'd talk long and late about all those things that we both loved—music, spirit, earth, truth and beauty.

Living in Santa Monica, I had plenty of opportunities to see him play, and did, most memorably with Carla Bley (always a treat) and a wild assortment at Royce Hall, an incomparable, intimate performance with Pat Metheny and Billy Higgins on the floor in the back room at McCabe's, and with Ed Blackwell and Don Cherry.

It wasn't just Charlie's own musicianship and play, it was what he brought forth from and created with other musicians that was magical. It was my fortune that our paths crossed and that I heard him play so often during that time.

Charlie lived a rich life, walked his talk, and did not waste a minute lighting the world for the rest of us.
“We’re here to bring beauty to the world and make a difference in this planet. That’s what art forms are about.”
– Charlie Haden
"While he did not orient himself with a specific religious orientation, Haden was interested in spirituality, especially in association with music. His teaching method relied heavily on spirituality. He believed that in order to establish an individual musical voice, one must first establish a spiritual posture. This physical and mental position will allow the individual to find their own unique musical voice and bring it to their instrument.

"He also encouraged his students to enter a meditative state when they played, one in which they focused solely on the present moment: “there’s no yesterday or tomorrow, there’s only right now,” he claimed.

"In order to find this state, and ultimately to find one’s spiritual self, Haden urged that one must have humility and respect for beauty; they must be thankful for the ability to make music, and to give back to the world with the music they create.

"He claimed that music taught him this process of exchange, so he teaches it to his students in return. Music, Haden believed, also teaches incredibly valuable lessons about life:
"I learned at a very young age that music teaches you about life. When you're in the midst of improvisation, there is no yesterday and no tomorrow — there is just the moment that you are in. In that beautiful moment, you experience your true insignificance to the rest of the universe. It is then, and only then, that you can experience your true significance."
— from Wikipedia entry
"Keith really listens, and I listen. That's the secret. It's about listening. " 
—Charlie Haden
Click Here to hear Charlie and Keith Jarrett play Gordon Jenkins' Goodbye.

Click here for Silence with Charlie, Chet Baker, Billy Higgins and Enrico Pieranunzi.
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Why Bother?


Winds of Change, Watercolor, 8 x 8 inches
"It isn't the things that happen to us in our lives that cause us to suffer, it's how we relate to the things that happen to us that causes us to suffer."
—Pema Chodron
Why Bother?

It's too difficult, destabilizing, traumatic.

Stay right where you are. Don't change a thing.

Life without change is impossible. Even when we think we're stable, we're aging, passing through time on a revolving planet, orbiting a sun, careening through the galaxy.

Nothing is fixed.

Thrown into high relief by unforeseen events or circumstances, a phase of change can easily introduce a crisis. When faced with a crisis, it's helpful to remember the two characters that make up the Chinese word for crisis: Danger and Opportunity.

How we choose to navigate crises describes our attitude, determines the quality of our experience and, often, the outcome.

It's not up to you whether or not you'll have an opportunity to change. It is, however, your prerogative to respond to change in a way that results in improvement or deterioration.

Understanding the difference between response and reaction is key to dealing with change. Then it's largely a matter of practice.

You practice making space for yourself so that when crises arise, you are able to find that space, take a second, and respond to change consciously rather than unconsciously react.

How do you make space for yourself? Use any form of engagement that allows you to consciously work with the behavior of your wild mind. You could draw, meditate, play golf, or any number of other things. The point is to get to know yourself, become intimately aware of your behavior, accept that behavior, and then set an intention to bring about the change you desire in that behavior.

That's the kind of change you want. That's the change you want to bother about.
"Now is the only time. How we relate to it creates the future. In other words, if we're going to be more cheerful in the future, it's because of our aspiration and exertion to be cheerful in the present. What we do accumulates; the future is the result of what we do right now."
—Pema Chodron
My 30-Day group coaching program is filled. If you were interested in joining... it will come around again. Definitely next year.

Meanwhile, if you're interested in working with me as a coach, I have a couple of appointments opening this month for my personally tailored 90-Day Turn Around coaching program.

I give you plenty of insight, practices and exercises for better understanding yourself and your behavior in all of my coaching programs—group and private.

Click here to learn more about private coaching and to make an appointment for a complimentary conversation with me where I can find out more about what you're looking for and we can see if the work that I do makes sense for you.

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Back in the swim of things

Roll, Watercolor, 4 x 6 inches

I love the water.

It always amazes me that I can be out of the water for over 8 months or more, then hop into a pool and swim half a mile without a pause. I am part fish.

Fortunately, there's a beautiful Y a couple of miles down the street and the pool is fantastic. So are the lifeguards. So are my fellow swimmers. I'm grateful, happy and reminded of my post last year after my final swim in the Atlantic after a year at the beach, To My Fellow Swimmers.

The 2001 statement by the Oraibi Hopi Elders from which I took that title is permanently posted above my computer. I'll run it again just in case you missed it last year.

To My Fellow Swimmers

You have been telling people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.
And these are things to be considered…

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.

It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for your leader.

This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.

The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river,
keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.

See who is in there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves.
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

The time of the one wolf is over.
Gather yourselves!

Banish the word ’struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

—Statement of The Elders, Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation


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On the first day of summer


Summer Fling, Suzanne McDermott, Watercolor, 9 x 12 inches

It felt like I frittered the day away.

All morning was socked in by cool, grey mist. I opened the windows to let the wet air through on a slight breeze. All I can remember after that was turning in small circles, picking up this, moving that, organizing a bit of one thing, washing something else.

Even Tallulah, released for her daily constitutional, turned in little circles not far from the front door, then ran inside, startled by a far off neighbor.

When I finally took my own walk, it started to rain as I'd reached about the farthest point away from my house. Walking through the rain was refreshing and an added delight.

It's summer now and time to take things as easy as we can.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

Copyright @ 1990 by Mary Oliver. First published in House of Light, Beacon Press. Reprinted in The Truro Bear and Other Adventures: Poems and Essays, Beacon Press.



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Why I Love Peppermint

Suzanne McDermott, watercolor, 5 x 7 inches

Growing up, we had two universal panaceas:

My father's white cotton handkerchief and the roll of Pep•O•Mint Lifesavers in my mother's purse or pocket.

Ever since, clean, white cotton and peppermint my go-to solutions when comfort and soothing are in order.

If you've studied watercolor with me, you'll know that I keep a stack of well-worn, white Irish linen damask napkins on hand at all times. I readily admit they are as much for working as they are for comfort, like Linus' blanket.

If you've ever visited my gardens, you'll remember that the pot of peppermint was probably the first stop. Whenever I have to restart a garden, a good peppermint is usually the first thing I pick up. I have a pot of chocolate mint outside my door and pinch a leaf for my coffee every morning. Yum.

Peppermint oil is easy to find in European pharmacies. In the years I toured solo through Europe, I always kept a bottle in my shoulder bag, wrapped in a white cotton handkerchief. Two very good things to keep on hand, I'll tell you.

Congestion, stale breath, fatigue, the blues, nausea and headaches. Right off the top of my head, those are just a few conditions peppermint will cure. Yes, cure.

Finally, I ran out of the 2 bottles of China Olie I bought in Holland way back when. It's great to have found a better, much higher quality replacement with doTERRA's Peppermint essential oil.

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What nobody tells you about the leap of faith

Suzanne McDermott, Die Brücke, watercolor, 5 x 7 inches

Taking a leap of faith

is all the rage in coaching and entrepreneurial work. But there's a rather important matter in the process that most people don't mention up front.

When you're in mid-air and there's no net and your landing ground is nowhere close, you have to engage an entirely new degree of faith. This level of faith may be as new as the ground you are aiming for.

What nobody tells you is that you're going to have to find and engage an entirely new level of faith to call on not once, not twice, but over and over again.
“It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear . . . . It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to.”
— Marilyn Ferguson
What if you don't reach the other side?

What if your wings don't work or your parachute doesn't open or your hands don't grasp the trapeze bar or...

I don't like being in-between. I like to know what I am doing, where I'm going and feel my hooks securely in that thing. I like to plan, take action and accomplish.

Of course, this is not how life works. Life, learning and creative activities unfold in their own time, at their own pace.

When I find myself in the in-between I remember that I am moving through Bardo.

The Tibetan word Bardo describes the state between death and rebirth. The "in-between state." The Bardo Thodol, known in English as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, defines six kinds of Bardo. Three are associated with life: The bardo of birth, the bardo of dreams and the bardo of meditation.

In simplest terms, birth signals the state of life (in-between death), dreams the state in-between waking and sleeping, and meditation the state in-between the incessant stream of thoughts.

The Bardo Thodol translates as "Liberation through Hearing in the Intermediate State." That's a description you have to mull over.

The word "Bardo" comes from the Tibetan words "bar" meaning "in between"; "do" meaning "island" or "marking point."

Here's the thing. If you frame your phase of uncertainty (whatever your journey may be) in terms of Bardo, you may rest assured that you will always reach the other side, your destiny.

Your phase of uncertainty may not be easy or fun but you can remove at least one aspect of fear from the equation. You'll always get to the other side. It's a given because you're only in-between.

I'm getting used to it. You?
“What is an artist? A provincial who finds himself somewhere between a physical reality and a metaphysical one.... It’s this in-between that I’m calling a province, this frontier country between the tangible world and the intangible one—which is really the realm of the artist.”
— Federico Fellini
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Artist as Healer

Tuscan Vestige, Suzanne McDermott
Watercolor, 7 x 10 in.

"At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer;
a wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity."

—Rachel Naomi Remen, MD
Of all the posts and articles I've published on the web over the past nine years, by far, the most widely read and shared is called How To Heal Your Fractured Foot and Ankle. When I say "by far", I mean by tens of thousands of hits over and above all else.

The article is all about everything I did to help myself heal my own, yep, fractured foot and ankle. I have always loved researching, experimenting and playing with the healing process. (After all, the creative process is a healing process.) Some things work, some don't. I love to share modalities, practices and products that work.

Learning to heal ourselves is so much about learning to know ourselves and, often, about ourselves in relation to nature. Same thing with creative work.

Anyone who's ever picked at a scab knows that the healing process must be allowed unfold through it's own course over time. Just like the creative process.

And just like the creative process, healing can bring up a lot of fear and resistance because, in both types of practices, you have to trust and allow nature to take it's course. That fear and resistance? It often shows up in the form of control issues and perfectionism. Fundamentally, control freaks and perfectionists block the energetic flow by clinging tightly to the edge of their cliff. It's a form of anxiety that requires a healing process all it's own. That's healing process is all about trust and letting go.
“Anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity.”
—Thomas Merton
The creative process is a journey. Healing is a journey. Trust is a journey, too.


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What happens if you do what you've always done?

a fraction of quick demo piece from my final class

That's right... you'll get what you've always got!
"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another!" —Gail Sheehy
On Friday, I taught my last drawing and watercolor class. I enjoyed every minute, we all did, and I fully engaged with the final exercises. After 17 years, it was a good feeling to leave something I've so much loved doing on a sweet note.

I have to thank each and every one of the students I've worked with over the years from the boardwalks on Kiawah Island, to the museums and art centers from Florida to Connecticut to California, from the back yards and nature centers around Boston to my Nashville studio, and all points in between.

A special shout out to Katie Vanoncini and Ingrid at General Pencil who supported my national initiative to promote drawing in neighborhood communities, Drawing America, to my teaching on Edisto Island last year. General Pencil makes the best graphite and watercolor pencils in the world. Period. Buy them.

Basic Drawing Lessons and Enter Here to Draw and Watercolor are available for download (click on the titles) and my foundation method for drawing and watercolor will be available for home study later this year. But now it's time for me to focus on my current work. It's the transformational coaching without the drawing and watercolor.

Seventeen years ago, I was psyched just to watch people drawing. Several years into it, I couldn't help but notice the personal transformation students experienced after just a day or two with me, and especially in those who kept at it month after month over the development of a longer form course. I love that I was able to create a method with provable results.

In the grand scheme of things, in the US especially, only a handful of people are interested in drawing and watercolor, and only a handful of those are interested in the practice of same as a tool for self-realization, and of that group only a fraction are brave enough to meet the page, willing to make their mark and do the work (through the learning curve and the practice, practice, practice.) My students have been brave souls who have worked diligently. I love them all.

Now I'm focusing on the coaching work itself for individuals and groups, oils related to that coaching, on my business, writing and own practice of drawing and watercolor. That's a lot! It's plenty. It feels right and if feels good!

Life is the first art. That's where I'm at right now.

Stay tuned... 

Exciting changes are afoot and will unfold over the coming months. But right off the bat,

Join my free teleseminar on essential oils!

A brief introduction to essential oils:
What are they, how are they made and why would you care?

It'll be fun and informative AND you have a pretty good chance to win a FREE bottle of the most awesome Wild Orange essential oil! It's the first doTERRA oil I received, I immediately fell madly in love with it, and now I use it every day.

Wild Orange is the oil of abundance, good mood, natural creativity, and playful fun.

Well... join us on the teleseminar and find out more!

CLICK HERE TO JOIN US!

If you sign up for the teleseminar and can't make it, I'll send out a recording of the call so you can listen in.

If you really love essential oils or want to love them or just learn more, I'll be teaching a short series of introductory classes focusing on particular oils starting early this summer. But join in the call to learn more about that, too!
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What Smells So Good?


Suzanne McDermott, Two Oranges, Watercolor 5.75 x 7.75, 2014

My maternal grandmother wore Guerlain's perfume, L'Heure Bleue. So did my mother and her sister, Nancy. The bottle and the box that held it were exquisite and the scent was among the early 20th century perfume classics.

"'L'Heure Bleue' An innovative classic floral-oriental perfume by Guerlain dating from 1912 which was created by Jacques Guerlain. The effect is sweet and spicy. Bergamot, with hints of lemon, neroli, tarragon, coriander and sage, sets a fresh top note, giving way to a heart of carnation supported by jasmine, rose, orris, ylang-ylang and other fragrances on a base note principally comprising sandalwood and musk, but supported by, amongst others, St. John's wort. It is sold in a flacon by Baccarat. Its users are said to include the Queen Mother and Sophia Loren." —New Perfume Handbook, edited by N. Groom

Doesn't that description make you want to inhale while rolling around in clean, white cotton sheets by a wide open window?

Me? I'm more of a 19th century aficionado. I've used Florida Water (an American citrus based version of Eau de Cologne appearing in 1856) for decades as daily deodorant and, after a friend passed off a bottle that her husband never used, loved wearing 4711 (made in Cologne by the Mulhen's Family perfumery shop in 1796.)

As a teenager, when I read that Brigit Bardot wore Jicky exclusively, I walked right up to Bonwit Teller and bought a bottle of Jicky eau de cologne. The cologne version may be a thing of the past but it was my most favorite, ever. I miss it.

When Guerlain introduced Jicky in 1889, it marked an entirely new development in perfumery as a highly concentrated blend with citrus top notes, floral and woody middle notes and base notes led by vanilla with balsamic undertones. A little went a long way and large quantities of scent were no longer needed.

In 1920, Chanel No. 5 changed everything. Until that date, all scents were created with natural substances. No. 5 was made of synthetic materials. I have a bottle in the closet that I found at a ridiculously low price but I can barely stand to wear it (although once in a while, I try in vain.)

In fact, I can barely stand to stray near any perfume counters. The last time I had to walk through a perfume department, I nearly exploded with a full-blown allergy attack, sneezing, eyes running. It's a pity that what was once a private hobby and great pleasure is no longer viable.

Except that... I've found my way back in through an incredible brand of truly exceptional essential oils— dōTERRA!

Discover DōTERRA

I'm hosting a FREE teleseminar!

A brief introduction to essential oils: 
 What are they, how are they made and why would you care

It'll be fun and informative AND you have a pretty good chance to win a FREE bottle of the most awesome Wild Orange essential oil! It's the first doTERRA oil I received, I immediately fell madly in love with it, and now I use it every day.

Wild Orange is the oil of abundance, good mood, natural creativity, and playful fun.

Well... join us on the teleseminar and find out more!

CLICK HERE TO JOIN US!

If you sign up for the teleseminar and can't make it, I'll send out a recording of the call so you can listen in.

If you really love essential oils or want to love them or just learn more, I'll be teaching a short series of introductory classes focusing on particular oils starting in mid-June. But join in the call to learn more about that, too!

  ____________________________________________

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How to find unconditional love

Rosemary Fogarty McDermott et moi, Petite Suzanne

Where I'm coming from

We're more than half-way through the maiden voyage of my Life is the First Art course and I have to tell you, it has been life changing for me. We're covering more ground than I anticipated and I must applaud each and every one of this first group for their full participation, willingness to do the work and for allowing their true radiant selves to shine through. Each week, I am stunned by their unfurling growth. It's truly an honor to witness, and I'm prompted to give credit where credit is due.

If you've worked with me, you know that I am all about foundation. Without a solid foundation, anything we build, including that most fundamental creation of all—our lives, may not withstand the pressure of adversity. In so many, many ways, I had the great fortune of an awesome foundation.

I hear my mother's voice in my mind, "Remember, Suzanne, Life is the First Art!" That phrase, like many things my mother said, has run through my mind ever since. I always thought she was quoting someone but when I looked high and low for the source of that quote, I came up with nothing. It's hers.

The bookshelves in my family's house were lined with Shakespeare, biographies of composers, volumes of poetry and histories along with Gayelord Hauser (Look Younger, Live Longer), Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich), Dale Carnegie (How To Win Friends and Influence People), Dr. Herman Taller (Calories Don't Count), Thomas Merton (The Seven Story Mountain), James Allen (As A Man Thinketh), William James (The Will To Believe), Carl Rogers (On Becoming A Person), The Wisdom of Confucius, and other gems on health, spirituality, Art and human potential.

My mother was a poet, artist and musician who did not fully realized her talents. I am not sure today if that really matters but it mattered to me once so much so that I have spent most of my life working to realize my own and I have, to the best of my ability.

My father was, amongst other things, an avid health nut. He jogged before it became a craze and swam a mile a day. Our kitchen was stocked with black strap molasses, honey comb, protein bread and grapefruit. He went to six o'clock mass every weekday morning and never said a word about it.

Both of my parents would often break into cheery song. it was a rich experience and laid a solid foundation for me in spirit, health, culture, and human potential. I'm grateful that I've been able to share what I built upon this foundation.

For the sake of Facebook (!) I found what may be the only remaining photo of my mother and me.

The most important lesson

The books on my parents' shelves were not just titles and authors' words on bindings and paper, they were ideas, prescriptions for living, expansions of consciousness.

Perhaps the most important thing to learn in life is to love and accept yourself. Because we're human, it's a challenge, and a practice. It's the precursor to "Do unto others..."

Here's a quote from one of the books on my parents' shelves.
"One way of put­ting this is that I feel I have become more adequate in letting myself be what I am. It becomes easier for me to accept myself as a decidedly imperfect person, who by no means functions at all times in the way in which I would like to function.

"This must seem to some like a very strange direction in which to move. It seems to me to have value because the curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, then I change. I believe that I have learned this from my clients as well as within my own experi­ence - that we cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed."

—Carl Rogers, On Becoming A Person
How to get unconditional love? Love and accept yourself truly, madly, deeply.

Would you like to explore personal coaching sessions?

I'm quietly opening up my practice beyond the exclusive private clients I've been working with over the past few years. We begin with a gratis consultation call to discover what's going on, see if we're a good match, and how I can best help.

Click here to connect for an appointment.
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