2018 was a monumental year for me. To assist my own meditation journey, I began painting lotuses as I focused my energy on a particular chakra and its energy source. I led others to do the same through workshops both locally in Los Angeles and also at a winery in Sonoma. Best of all, I started making youTube videos so that I could continue to lead groups or individuals remotely.
I first became fascinated by chakras and auras upon my first visit to Thunderbolt Spiritual Books in Santa Monica back in the summer of 1999 when I moved to LA. I picked up Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith and I was blown away by the possibility that there could be a whole rainbow living and spinning inside of me, influencing my entire way of being in the world. Since I’m originally from South Carolina and had a southern Christian upbringing, I had never been exposed to many other philosophies or spiritual practices. At the time, I gobbled up the text, but I did not fully immerse myself in chakra work. The book eventually sat on the shelf and I went about my life with my chakras tilting out of balance in my peripheral.
Fast-forward about 15 years to the end of 2014 when I gave birth to my daughter. Giving birth and taking on the Epic Mother role (in addition to the equally Epic Wife role I assumed in 2011) brought up a whole bunch of nuanced emotions for me, as it does for most women.
Slowly and methodically, I have been sifting through my life to find a way to heal from so many experiences that have meant to be teachings, but from which I’ve only learned half-lessons and remained in pain. I had been suffering and closing down little by little each minute of each day, and it was now taking a toll on my relationships. I knew I had to find a way to open up so that I would not fall apart and lose myself completely.
I began journaling like crazy and asking my higher power to show me a path to being whole, healed, and creative. In the summer of 2017, I visited a different bookstore: Pendragon Books in Oakland, CA. I found The Book of Chakra Healing by Liz Simpson. Again, I was struck by the vibrant colors and the epic healing power of chakras. I began to explore them again, this time using Simpson’s approach--guided meditations, yoga, being open to crystals, essential oils, archetypes, and assembling altars.
I learned from an online source that, in Hinduism, the chakra is also referred to as a lotus flower. That’s when I began painting lotuses and started my work with Elisha Clark Halpin’s Wildly Radiant Tribe and Temple.
In twenty years teaching, I’m just now starting to truly understand that the students are my teachers as much as I am theirs. Lately, I’m most struck by the tears I see on a daily basis--Kindergarteners who are devastated that they are not perfect. The inability of students to accept art-making as a joyful process-- is definitely right in my face. I refuse to perpetuate that type of BS anymore, so, I recognize that it starts with me. I have to dive in and get real--if I can’t accept myself and enjoy the process, then I can’t teach others to do the same. So, I’m driven to heal and accept myself and my process as part of my teaching initiative.
Painting has always been an inward journey. It exposes great joy and at the same time, deep suffering. What I am learning now is that the best teachers can be pain and suffering themselves. I am still learning and evolving the methods I use to deal with pain. I know a lot about how to mix colors and apply them to canvas or paper. It’s pretty easy for me to simulate the illusion of light with paint and brush. I can share this knowledge and consider myself an expert in it. However, I am just now grasping how to use the painting process as a metaphor for living a more mindful existence. I’m excited to share that experience through my painting workshops and YouTube videos even though I am far from an expert!
Painting is a teacher of self-acceptance, if anything, and I’d like to further reveal it as such.