When I was 27 I met a man who looked straight through me and my armour as he asked,

“What would it take for you to go home, emancipated?”

A very profound question that made no sense for nearly ten years. In the past sixteen months I have been working on that very thing, mostly without knowing it. But I’m jumping ahead….

When I was a little girl I would paint for hours with my 8 colour tin paint set, complete with it’s crappy brush. These were definitely my first “master pieces”. In all likelihood they were muddy, confused and trapped in the middle of the page, but they captured my pure bliss in the act of expressing myself. They were my pure joy. I remember the amazing feeling of the gooshy, squishy finger paints we used in Kindergarten, and how much I loved covering the whole sheet until it was a dark mass of greens, blues and blacks.

At five I KNEW I was a divine spark from the Uni-verse, a child of God, I felt that blissful connection with Christ every time I expressed myself. Singing, dancing, painting, drawing, arts & crafts, running, spinning, swinging, these were all ways I expressed my bliss for being on the earth, in this body, embodied, a beautiful expression of God’s will.

We all come into this life with that connection, and most of us over time lose it. Sometimes we think we chose to move away from the divine, but in my estimation most of us have it “beat” out of us one way or another.

At this same age I suffered unspeakable trauma. Which in no small part shifted the course of my life. I had no skills to cope, and the one person I turned to couldn’t fix something she wouldn’t accept as part of our her reality. So I stuffed it down.

Stuffing only serves to diminish our essence and dim down our inner light. This is how it was, in large part, beat out of me. I stuffed it down for over twenty years, dimming my own light, yet somehow managing to use that rage, that anger, that darkness to fuel my creative brilliance. The light is always capable of pushing past the darkness, until finally after September 11th it split me wide open. I have spent the past ten years fighting to get back to the knowing I had at five, fighting to come home, emancipated.

What did it take to get here? Ten years of growth, much of it hard won. For I have largely done the deep digging and heavy lifting on my own. I am my own hero, there was no one to rescue me but me. Now to be clear and fair, I have had much support, when I could get out of my own way long enough to accept other peoples love and kindnesses. For those people and those moments I am deeply humbled and beyond grateful.

In these last 16 months I have been working very consciously at befriending the darkness, riding the waves of my emotions, cleaning up relationships, letting go of my need to make others wrong so that I might feel right, knowing I am not now, nor was I ever “broken”, learning to take no for an answer, actively pursuing those things like singing and painting that gave me such joy at five, choosing to be in my body – instead of my head all the time, letting someone love me the way that he loves me and watching how that has fostered intense passion which fuels my creativity and the resonance of that passion shows in my new paintings.

I keep asking, “How does it get any better than this?” I have no idea but I remain in the question, because once again I am thriving, radiating, because I KNOW I am now, and have always been a divine spark from the Uni-verse. Emancipation. Here I am, emancipated, and home. Home in my skin, that is to say embodied, in love with life, my life, and allowing that to flow up, out and all around me. Love IS the way home.

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My only “rule” or “plan” on November second every year is to spend it doing whatever I want.
I sleep as much or little as I choose. I eat whatever my heart desires. I spend time with people and in places that fill me with joy.

Yet, there is one thing I commit to doing on my birthday: I take stock of what the previous year has gifted me.

How have I changed?
How have I grown?
What have I learned?
What am I most proud of?

In doing so I become profoundly grateful of every little thing that has helped me get here to where and who I am in this moment. I celebrate my ability to choose, to claim, to be.

Perhaps the biggest lesson, hurdle, challenge I faced this year, over and over again was to stop being small, stop hiding, stop saying yes when I really want to say no.

Instead I choose BIGNESS. I choose COLOURFUL. I choose LOUD. I choose JOY. I choose RAUCOUS. I choose SILLY. I choose to spread my proverbial wings, and own my bigness.

My friend Taryn Javier reminded me that I was born on the day of Transformation. And certainly deciding to quit playing small was transformative! So this year on the Day of the Dead I reflected on who I used to be, I thanked her, I prayed for her, and I let her go. For she is no longer me, and I am grateful.


{How does it get any better than this?! Why fireworks you ask? Because I’m celebrating, of course!}

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A while back Seth Apter, of the Altered Page blog asked me some really amazing questions about my art practice. Today he talks about Techniques and Tools, and my two cents are included! Go check out his site, there is always some amazing stuff to see and read there. I’ll post the full questionnaire later this week for those of you so inclined.

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{and other tales from my work with Kerilyn}

Yep. OWNING MY BIGNESS. Probably the most profound concept and gift I received working with Permission Granted Life Coach Kerilyn Russo.

You see Ms. Kerilyn is amazing. Period. Full STOP. In addition to being an extraordinary listener, she is rather playful, and witty, and hilarious. Yet she is serious about helping you get out of your way in the most kind, sincere, generous, gentle, compassionate, fierce, ass-kicking of ways. Wise… did I mention she’s wise? Oh I could go on and on. In short SHE ROCKS.

I, like many who have walked a path to one’s own BIGNESS, have had my share of trauma. Sometimes it’s triggered, sometimes it’s active, and at other times it’s dormant. Such is the ebb and the flow of this delicious life. Despite knowing this is part of the journey of being a spiritual being having a human experience, it’s damn hard. And like many others I have let myself be stuck, treading water, praying this too shall pass… all the while completely unable to move forward, paralyzed by my fear.

Enter Kerilyn. One part lion tamer, one part magician, one part cheer-leader, one part bestie, one part locksmith, all parts open hearted beauty.

She had the keys to inspiring me out of my “stuck-ness”.

You see, Kerilyn had the most amazing way of teasing out the crux of my stagnation, allowing MY essence to cascade through. She held a sacred space allowing and encouraging me to be my most authentic and best self. In that setting I was finally able to give myself permission to be the truest, most beautiful version of me, letting my essence, that is to say, my heart, my soul, the purest aspects of myself BEAM!! For I am a divine spark from the Uni-verse, and I give myself PERMISSION to act like it!

So here I am CELEBRATING our work together, OWNING MY BIGNESS, and being ok with all the zany aspects of my colourful self! In truth I found a soul sister in Kerilyn. My life is all the more rich, deep and colourful for bravely accepting her challenge… “what would it take for you to own your bigness?”

“DARE YA!”

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You all may remember the ART FIX In House Residency I participated in a while back with the lovely, talented, dragon slayer herself, Ms. Kesha Bruce. Well she’s at it again. This time as Mr. Burne of Baang + Burne Contemporary one half of the amazing duo that is an “unconventional art gallery with the spirit of an indie rock band”. These are two women after my heart!

Well Kesha sent me an email a while back asking if I’d be interested in being part of the 6X6 art blog tour, of course I said YES! Enthusiastically. Not having the foggiest idea what I’d said yes to, but in the past 9 months I’ve committed to saying yes when it resonates. Each and every time I’ve said YES, I have not regretted it. So here we are – another YES, ’cause it feels right.

Some of you may know my art making woes – and how often I’ve had a crisis of confidence about my practice. Hey I’m human, I have insecurities, and sometimes it’s not enough to reflect on how great your practice USED to be. All that accomplishes is making the task that much more daunting, and frankly it gets in the way of making GREAT work in the here and now.

As I’ve been getting more serious about my practice and taking it out of hiding, I’ve seen my own struggles become magnified. My tendency is to get into my head. Try to figure it out, make sense of it, analyze it to death, formulate a linear plan of action and get on with it. Well, I spend FAR too much time in my noggin’ and the truth is I’ve spend countless hours in the studio trying to think my way outta this pickle! (to no avail) Enter my interview with Mr. Burne, stage right.

JDA: What are your tips (studio or otherwise) when you find yourself out of synch with your practice?

Mr. Burne: My first year in college I had a professor that made us do this insanely repetitive exercise where we had to do 50, five-minute drawings of the same subject. At the time I absolutely hated it, but it’s now become the basis of my studio practice.

Momentum is everything. Sometimes the work comes easy and sometimes it’s a real struggle. I’ve learned not to get too freaked out about this fact. The bottom line is that you’ve just got to keep working. The worse thing you can do is just stop. You have to work through your creative speed bumps. There really is no other way around.

JDA: What are your thoughts or advise to artists whose practice is diverse, and seemingly not cohesive? How do you get those multi facets working for you?

Mr. Burne: If you’re trying to develop a body of work in order to look for commercial gallery representation, your work does need to be cohesive. From the viewpoint of a gallery director, if you send me a portfolio of work that includes, abstracts, portraits, and landscape photography it sends me the message that you’re unfocused and trying to do too many things at once.

And the problem with that is when you’re jumping around from subject to subject, from medium to medium on a whim, you never get to really see an idea through from start to finish. You really owe it to yourself and to your work to really push an idea hard until you’ve burned off all your fuel, meaning–ideas. I would rather see one small body of work that really examines and idea than 3 different projects that barely scratch the surface.

JDA: At any time in your career did you find yourself precious about your work, or a body of work, and how did you move through that?

Mr.Burne: I’m an Aries. When I get too timid or too tight or too precious about something I’m working on, I do what any respectable Ram would do: I go head first into destroying it. I do this for 2 reasons: First, being precious is really about fear. It’s about not trusting yourself to make the “right” move or mark. That type of thinking can’t be tolerated. It makes for timid and boring work.

Second, sometimes I mess up work on purpose as a promise to myself. It’s an act of faith that says: “So what? I ruined that one. Who cares? I can just make another one that’s even better.”

No good art is based in fear. Be brave!

To hear more about 6×6, read Kesha’s weekly articles on art, art marketing, and creativity, and to download a
free copy of “The 5 Step Art Career Make-Over” visit her blog at www.KeshaBrucestudio.com

6×6 Summer Blog Tour Schedule

Baang + Burne Contemporary

Kesha Bruce Studio Blog

Charlie Grosso

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Gratitude. Man am I grateful. I look in the mirror and absolutely giggle at the woman who is reflected back at me. Many times in this profound life journey have I stood in front of a mirror and marveled at who stared back, each time it’s a miracle, each time I have felt so grateful for how far I’ve traveled, and this time is no different. However! I feel nothing short of bliss bubbling from the inside out these days. It’s sort of like I found this burnt out light bulb, that I didn’t even know was there, and I put in a 250 Watt-er!

So much has shifted – in me, around me, all revealing this magnificence I feel is radiating out of me. I truly feel like the lotus.

Since I feel like the best of me has finally risen out of the muck, I have been letting myself shine.

Despite only having finished up to Day 22 of #trust30, I know this project has shone a light on many, many things that really were ready to be explored.

Day 14 Alternative Paths by Jonathan Fields

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, “What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?” They’re always there, but you’ve got to choose to see them. {Click here to see Jonathan’s full prompt.}

I choose to see them! I say yes whenever it resonates. DO.IT.NOW.

This has been one of the most powerful tools/lessons I’ve afforded myself during this 30 day writing (creating) challenge. I have seen in far too numerous ways how I, lil’ ol’ me, has been the very thing that has stood in my way.

So with encouragement and enthusiasm from some dear friends including some work I’m doing with the kick-ass Kerilyn Russo, I am getting outta my head and into my body. Thinking less, doing more. Being spontaneous. Daring myself. DAILY.

That brings me full circle to my gratitude. I see how it’s all connected. Being in my body, and doing, and daring, has been the very thing that lit that 250 watt bulb.

In New York, dare ya!

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