How to comfort yourself in the darkest days


King of Night / Suzanne McDermott / Watercolor / 8 x 8 in.
Even with today's super full moon, our clocks have fallen back and we have moved into darker days and nights and uncertainty. 

Click here for tips to help you navigate these in between times...

Life imitates art

It's been a delicious year.

I swear to god, if I wait any longer to start this blog and write this post, I'm going to pop! Every time I intend to restart my blogging life, my online writing and posting, my whatever this is I'm trying to express, something comes up and offers interference. I have succumbed to that interference so far but no longer.

One week ago, shy one hour, I was rear-ended by a distracted 22-year old and my life turned into smashed cars, pain and suffering and doctors visits and hours on the phone with insurance agents and arranging for and picking up rental cars and adjusting to new circumstances and intending that all of this interruption and challenge is a blessing in disguise. Yes, this is a blessing in disguise although I'll only recognize the blessing in retrospect. Read more...

All things being equal

    Tree Glow | Suzanne McDermott Watercolor

What with Mercury going direct, waking up a bit too late this morning, and starting up this transformed blog today, I almost forgot that it's the Autumnal Equinox. This topic deserves a nice, juicy, long post but I'll just throw a few brief thoughts out to acknowledge and honor this oh, so important moment of the year.

Here's what I'm doing:

  • Writing this blog post!
  • Reading this National Geographic article.
  • Lighting a candle and
  • Some sandalwood incense*, too! (Okay, just did both.)
  • Give thanks for the summer and all that we learned from that season this year.
  • Ask for blessings and clear direction in how I may now best serve earth and my fellow earthlings
  • with special intentions
  • Go out and touch the earth
  • Feed my azaleas

Those are my quick tips for today's Equinox except to turn you on to my favorite incense! (See below.)

*The BEST sandalwood incense in the world is Mainichi Byakudan Premium Sandalwood Incense. I discovered this incense in a fabulous home and garden shop in Providence, Rhode Island about ten years ago. It spoiled me and is the only incense I've ever bought or used since. Pure, woodless, rolled by hand, it's expensive but worth it.



Transformation

Things are changing. But you know that.

In 2006, I started this blog as a watercolor artist and kept up that show and tell for about six years till I moved from my home and beloved studio in Nashville, TN. What ensued was an odyssey of sorts but that's another story.

I kept up with intermittent posts excerpted from weekly missives to my mailing list illustrated by my drawings and watercolors. Those posts stopped, more or less, when I succumbed to a series of health issues at the start of 2015. I'm much better now, thank you.

Jonesing for a new writing discipline and an outlet for my healing work, I've toyed with starting alternate blogs and platforms but have finally decided to pick up here where I left off because this virtual real estate is established, deeded in my name and why move if I don't have to? I'll fiddle with the design and decoration, how I'll illustrate these posts, with what's previously been posted and, eventually, this transformed blog will settle into its own gestalt.

Here in Raleigh, North Carolina, much needed rain is falling, quenching exhausted earth after relentless heat and sun for most of the summer.

Over this past weekend, I reconstructed my garden, pulled out remains of the poor summer veggies, spent a stupid amount of money on dirt, amended that dirt with lime and other goodies then planted sugar peas, rainbow carrots, baby carrots, Romaine lettuce, French baby leeks, Russian Kale, Lacinato Kale and Italian parsley. The new cuke crop is already started. The rain arrives with perfect timing.

It's fitting that I reawaken this blog as the seeds in my garden germinate and I'm intentionally scheduling this to coincide with Mercury going direct.

Sure, I'm still making watercolors and teaching drawing and watercolor. I just finished a lengthy illustration project and book design. But what I'm really interested in—or called to do—is to develop and expand my healing practice. Of course, my music, songs, watercolors and teaching have been conduits for healing in their own ways but each of those forms of expression have played the starring role. Now I am putting healing front and center.

That is what this transformed blog is all about. Healing. I am writing (teaching, coaching) on healing from a creative perspective, calling on extensive experience with a myriad of tools, traditions, modalities, via a long list of teachers, trainings and personal trial and error. My intention is to empower you to heal yourself. This is nothing new, I'm just formally, publicly, claiming this place as a healing space before I proceed—mostly as a way to put my own ass in gear and get going with this project.  As a matter of fact, in my ten years of blogging, my most popular post, hands down, on any of my (many) blogs is "How to heal your fractured foot and ankle: an artist's guide."

In a way, I'm picking up where I left off and yet, it feels as though I am starting something new. I feel less wishy-washy about what I'm doing as a healer, more confident. The essence of what I am doing is not so different and yet the vessel, the form is new. And that, my friends, is the definition of transformation.

Thunder rolls. More later. Love. Soon.

Why your imperfections make you perfect


***

"Perfection itself is imperfection."

— Vladimir Horowitz


The gap between Lauren Hutton's two front teeth.
The wiggly lines of Gahan Wilson's cartoons.
Uneven brush marks in hand-painted china.
The leaning tower of Pisa.
The tempo at which Toscannini or Glenn Gould raced through pieces.
Odd chisel marks in hand-made furniture.
These are just a few examples of what might be thought of as imperfections that, in fact, make a person, place or thing memorable, beautiful, unique.
My favorite live figure model of all time hated her thighs. What a pity. She was stunning.
Make a little list for yourself of physical things, personality traits, or emotional baggage that you think make you imperfect. Forget about what you think anyone else may think about these things. You'll never know for sure anyway. Plus, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. It matters what you think, how you feel about yourself.
Take that little list and find a way to accept, embrace, and ultimately love each and every one of those things, traits, and pieces of baggage. You may find that this exercise can make it easier to let go of said baggage because, hey, who needs it and who has places to store that old crap anymore?
Anyway, all the little marks and bruises, faux pas and clumsiness, guilt about Bad Things You've Done and so forth, all of those things make you you. And by the way, you—the real you— is just traveling in this body and personality temporarily.
You're much bigger and brighter and shinier than you remember. There is no one like you. Never to be repeated, you are a miraculous variation of the human being.
Learn to love yourself.
***

"As machines become more and more efficient and perfect, so it will become clear that imperfection is the greatness of man."

—Ernst Fischer

Fire Monkey!

"Monkeys are superior to men in this: when a monkey looks into a mirror, he sees a monkey."

—Malcolm de Chazal

***

I wish you great fortune this Monkey year!

A New Year all over again...

but it is a special day to consider how you might craft a transformed version of yourself no matter what's going on, inside or out. We have an opportunity to renew our thoughts, our well-being, and attitude. God knows, I work at it every single day, new moon, new year, or just a new day!

Today (9:39 am est) marks the first New Moon (in Aquarius) of the Lunar Cycle and thefirst day of Chinese New Year2016 is the year of the Fire Monkey.
As with every new moon and the western New Year, you have a perfect opportunity to set good intentions. Actually, you have a couple of days to think about your short term and long term intentions and then you can put them in writing on the 10th.
In fact, I am hosting the first of my monthly Creative Well-Being calls on the evening of February 10th at 8 pm EST. During that call, one of the things I'll be talking about is just that—how and why to set new intentions. Click here to register.
The call will include some inspiration, a short meditation, suggestions for setting intentions, some tools and exercises to experiment with in the coming month, and a Q&A to get your wheels turning and start a brief discussion. It's fun and thought-provoking.
PLUS, when you join the call you're entered to win one of three gifts. Whether you're interested in some simple daily exercises to help with your well-being, essential oils, or just curious about what these calls offer, you're welcome to join us.
Click here to register for our call on February 10th at 8 pm EST.
***

"You've got to know what you want. This is central to acting on your intentions. When you know what you want, you realize that all there is left then is time management. You'll manage your time to achieve your goals because you clearly know what you're trying to achieve in your life."

—Patch Adams

***
Learn more about the Chinese New Year
Click here for a digest of thoughts on this New Moon in Aquarius.
***

"Cats and monkeys; monkeys and cats; all human life is there."

—Henry James


Not by bread alone

Bread and lilies, ink and watercolor

"...so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not

anyone hears it..."

—W. S. Merwin

Welcome


Has anyone welcomed you into your new year? If not, allow me to do so.

Welcome yourself. Into each morning, each moment.

The etymology of the word welcome is from willa "pleasure, desire, choice" and cuma "guest". Allow yourself to welcome what you choose, what pleases you, and what you desire. And for anyone who thinks that may be a "selfish" approach to life, let me say that you may find that what pleases you is bringing light, love, and joy or help to another.

That being said, I find that if I take good care of myself, extremely good care, I am always in better condition to bring light, love, joy and help to another.

So, my wish for you in the new year and beyond is to feel like a welcome guest every day in your own life. Treat yourself as you would your most esteemed, beloved visitor and my hunch is that most everyone else around will feel welcomed, too.

"Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let's not be afraid to receive each day's surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity."
—Henri Nouwen

Farewell to all that



Well, it's Twelfth Night and I'm focused on writing and posting tasks before Mercury turns retrograde (any minute now). This is always the moment when distractions arise and, in my world, that amounts to noticing that the Illustration Friday theme this week is Moon and remembering that I have one to submit from my archives. This is it. Submission, done. On to other things now!