Wednesday, December 30, 2009
BEING on the PATH, TRAVELING, BEING in PROCESS is essential for me. No matter what! Today, I share with you “darker” images that have emerged recently. These cloaked women seem to be a departure from HALLELUJAH’S soulful, joyful journey to the Bahamas.
As you know, I teach international students English at Georgia Tech, and in the past several months, Muslim women have been sitting outside my office door on couches in the hallway chatting, eating, and studying. Cloaked in various colorful scarves and long cloaks, these modest women murmur, sharing food and drink even though they come from countries as diverse as Libya, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
The two women I have painted here are both from Saudi Arabia. My curiosity about Islam and issues concerning women’s issues always pulls me to standing in front of them asking questions. They like talking with a teacher. Our Language Institute students are infinitely practical and ambitious. Conversation with a teacher will improve their English.
The woman dressed in black is 7 months pregnant with her third child. This baby will be sent back to Saudi Arabia to be cared for by her mother who is already tending the other two children so she can work on an advanced degree along with her husband. Black is the traditional color of outer garb for Saudi women. The other woman, also a mother, is wearing just as much clothing (They conceal all of their bodies, including necks, wrists, and ankles—even ears.) but is dressed in white. She laughs explaining that she can wear this color while living in the United States, so she is doing exactly that. They are not encouraging about my going and living in their country: “It would be hard for you,” they say.
Why have their images haunted me? They are joyful, smart, and privileged. When they are in the privacy of their own homes, the outer clothing comes off and they dress, I am told, like everyone else in our school.
I can’t escape the MYSTERY they PROPOSE—an UNKNOWN WAY of LIVING. Hallelujah is on her pilgrimage and does not know WHERE she IS, nor WHERE she IS GOING. But I AM in the CANOE! Let me explain.
Twice weekly, I receive a letter from Robert Genn, a Canadian artist, who has a fantastic website called “A Painter’s Keys.” I suggest any art pilgrim wanting to get inspirational thoughts about the creative process to get on his email list. In his most recent email, Genn writes about the relationship between making art and staving off depression. It seems that ART MAKING helps keep us sane—even if you aren’t masterful. MASTERY isn’t even a part of it. Genn refers to an interview with Garrison Keillor in an issue of Time: Asked, "How did you master both writing and oral storytelling," Keillor replied: "I didn't. There's no mastery to be had. You love the attempt. You don't master a story any more than you master a river. You feel lucky to canoe down it."
Hallelujah for the RIVER, for the JOURNEY, for BEING in the CANOE. Fellow Sojourners, we may celebrate the coming of the NEW YEAR with this thought…CHERISH THE PROCESS. Happy New Year! That’s Coffee with Hallelujah!
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Welcome Courageous Pilgrim, Sojourner of the Heart!
Hallelujah has been struggling with the word, "COURAGE." What does it mean to be courageous? Is Hallelujah courageous because she is a VISION FOLLOWER? I do trust more and more what feels authentic to ME. If I feel like twirling and dashing across a field at a party--I do, and I bring others with me! If I feel like laughing in my ESL class, I do, and the students start laughing too! This blog feels natural to me as a way to bring together my images and ideas. I genuinely want to SOUL BLOG and connect with ALL of you who want to TWIRL in cyberspace with me.
As an ACT of COURAGE, I am also LISTENING to what Hallelujah WANTS to do ARTISTICALLY. Let me give you an example. Recently, I was asked to paint the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on a wooden form for a fund raising project for the Refugee Women's Network. These wooden forms are about 12" x 4" and rounded, conforming to the shape of the cloaked Virgin with hands clasped in prayer. RuthTruth intended to convey the traditional image of the Mother of Jesus that is so dear to the Mexican altar. Her intentions were earnest, and yes, there was some fear about the outcome. After all, these Guadalupes are going to be auctioned, and RuthTruth wanted to be sure hers was going to make money for micro loans for refugee women wanting to start their own businesses.
However, Hallelujah wanted NOTHING to do with FEAR! She decided to OPEN the DOOR, to BE CURIOUS. What could I do that is part of my pilgrimage, my journey? Hallelujah decided that this image of the Virgin was going to be related to her Bahamas journey, so the Virgin became a mermaid! Hallelujah's friend Ron brought her a block of mahogany wood, so she could make a platform and painted it with a white tropical bird, a merman, hibiscus flowers, and fish! We felt PEACE around this ACT of CREATION.
When the HEART is LISTENED TO and ITS MESSAGE acted upon, there is a PEACE. Is this COURAGE? Does courage = peace? Is it possible to align our actions with that which brings us joy, pleasure, and happiness?
That's coffee with Hallelujah. Tell me what you know about the COURAGE to be yourself and how you express that courage. Do you FEEL peace?
Monday, November 30, 2009
Say YES! Hallelujah....Then add, AND....
What else can be added? Say YES, anddddddddddddd....come up with something MORE. You will always surprise yourself!
After a year of taking improvisation classes, I know the rule of "YES, AND..." quite well. In improv classes, where you build scenes by creating your own lines, you are responsible for making your partner look good. Whatever he or she says, you receive that statement as a wonderful gift. You agree and build on what you have been offered. Let me give an example.
If your partner says, "I think we need to paint this room the color of eggplant." You say, "Great idea! And...we can paint the trim in pumpkin orange." The goal of saying YES is to keep the CHANNELS open, to move from one place to another.
Hallelujah is in the process of learning how to do IMPROV ART. She is saying "YES, AND..." going to the Bahamas spiritually to support her earnest self, the visionary painter RUTHTRUTH in her "efforting" to illustrate "The Misadventures of Maria the Hutia."
In this image, "Yes, and...to the Bahamas," I have returned to one of my stock images--that of the mermaid. She is cheering me on to say, "YES." I have put her in my mandala circle in order to create balance in my psyche and to hold the energy. At her right is the snake (symbol of creation), fish (symbol of fertility), Wandjina (my male energy and force), and then in ghostlike form--Maria the Hutia! Yes! And?
The second image you see here is the next of the illustrations for the children's book, "The Misadventures of Maria the Hutia."
She is eating seagrape leaves nearby a swirling, stormy sea, which will sweep her away from the shore and into her journey.
Hallelujah says "YES" and discovers that we are all PILGRIMS. What will you say YES to today? AND....
That's coffee with Hallelujah! Share your "yeses" with me! and...
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Dear Fellow Pilgrims,
It is Thanksgiving and I am thankful for sharing this occasion with you. I find it an occasion to be thankful for being authentic and going to the matters of the heart.
We all experience emotions of turmoil and frustration at one time or another, especially around holidays. Do you proclaim these feelings to yourself? Do you give them a NAME? Do you act them out in a conscious way?
I am fortunate because on my pilgrimage, I have met a GREAT TEACHER. She is an actress, director, and creativity coach. I call her affectionately, "LAM,"-- Lesly, Alien Mom! Together, we two aliens (yes I am "RAB"--Ruth Alien Baby) have crafted our own language and understanding of the universe! In this universe, I speak turmoil, frustration, and so many things more. In the process of speaking, I am transformed, and my dross emotions are fired, burnished and emboldened! My language of pain and confusion becomes GOLDEN I WANTS, JEWELED LAUGHTER, FUNNY DANCING, CARAMEL POPCORN, and PAINTINGS! Ha Ha Ho Ho Ho--Hallelujah!
I have learned to NAME my ugly feelings of failure, confusion, and limitation. So, "I FAILED!" So, "I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM!" SO "MY EFFORTS EXCEED MY ABILITIES." For me, it has become a matter of "NAME IT, OR SHAME IT." I have chosen to NAME my desires. To proclaim proudly, "I want to be special!" "I want help!" "I want attention!" "I want my curiosity answered!" "I want others to be curious!" "I want to leave my negative thoughts behind!"
Hallelujah! RuthTruth has named her DESIRES. I am an ancient linguist, speaking the form of flower, hearing in orange and purple, composing tongue dances along with the wind. I listen to the animals feeding upon one another in the forest proclaiming, "WE ALL EXIST TOGETHER."
Hallelujah encourages us all to free ourselves from shaming our feelings of our inner workings this Thanksgiving.
NAME IT OR SHAME IT.
In this first image, I introduce you to my "Imaginary" MOM. She has manifested from my need to "MOTHER" myself. I love her freedom--She always wears pink night dresses, and her hair is lit with light from the Milky Way. RuthTruth (aka Hallelujah) tends to be in the dark. Here the white tropic bird from the Bahamas has arrived as my spirit guide.
In the second image, "For Each Alien, There is Another Alien!," Hallelujah is a child discovering that the IMAGINATION creates reality! Hallelujah has retreated to her childhood closet for quietude and solace (What child does not do this at one time or another?). Her imaginary mom has known where to find her, and together they have donned alien masks and are PLAYING and SPEAKING their own special language! Instead of crying in the dark, WE ALIENS are eating popcorn, laughing, and trying on new possibilities. By BECOMING someone else in the theatre of the closet, we NAME the HURTS, WE then search for language of FUN. We eat more popcorn and giggle. Hallelujah for being present to our emotions--for being AUTHENTIC!
That's coffee with Hallelujah! Tell me your DESIRES, HURTS, and what you plan to do for transformation. ARE YOU AN ALIEN TO YOUR EMOTIONS? Name all your soul for you and me! What a bounty we have, when we are in touch with our souls. Thank you for giving your time and your hearts! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
So, I was not afraid to go there to that place of ferocious line, perspective, delineation, and commitment to form. I decided to draw three random images a day in archival ink. The rules of the game were: 1) do not erase 2) work with the mistakes 3) do not throw anything away 4) keep going and making 3 images every day.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Hallelujah EARTH! Hallelujah loves the natural world around her and knows YOU do too. Hallelujah dances, sings, and playfully celebrates the beauty of the land, sky, and oceans.
One precious part of this earth resides southeast of the United States in the Atlantic, along the Bahamian platform. This island named San Salvador is the farthest island out there in the Atlantic, surrounded by coral reefs and at the “wall”, where the shallow aqua blue waters drop off into the deep, deep mysterious sea.
San Salvador needs our love and attention! Its coral reefs are suffering from pollution, its waters are being over-fished, and the stately ancient sea turtles are disappearing.
Hallelujah soulfully and joyfully believes all of us can make a difference in the actions we take each day. My life’s pilgrimage has taken me past the shores of this island, to its living, beating heart—its children.
I have gone swimming with the children to look at the mermaid’s glass, to give names to sponges, corals, and fish. We have drawn the dolphins, spotted eagle rays, and the birds. We have added colors to these creatures and told stories about how each of us can protect them.
As a way to continue to engage the children of San Salvador with the nature surrounding their homes, I am creating illustrations for the story, “The Misadventures of Maria the Hutia,” written by Ronald Shaklee, a geographer who has been visiting the island for decades. Ron’s main character is a hutia named Maria, an animal that scientists had thought was extinct. Happily it was not. Scientists found that her kind was still thriving on some smaller pristine islands in the Bahamas. Hutias live! Hallelujah!
In this image you see here, “To the Bahamas,” Hallelujah has invited Amber, a white tropic bird and one of the characters in Maria’s story to transport her and Wandjina to the Bahamas. We are journeying soulfully and joyfully. Observe that Wandjina is in the night, the rich darkness of the subconscious, and I am in the light. Another miracle that has happened is that I have sprouted Wandjina’s crown. My crown is more like pistils of a flower that I cherish for their beauty and potentiality.
I am traveling into the unknown, and I am not alone. Hallelujah asks you to join her on this journey. We, Wandjina and I, are curious about you. We want to know about you and your journey. Inform us of your bearings. Likewise, we ask you to be curious about us, ask us questions, seek answers.
That’s coffee with Hallelujah! Love you!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Today, I howl to BE, I howl to SEE, I howl ME.
You there in cyber space, you are Hallelujah’s community, and I invite you to be my TRIBE of HOWLERS. We all have the PRIMAL GUT ENERGY, so let’s raise our gut voices of veritas. Speak YOUR truth. BELLY howl it out!
My Chiboogamoo and I just saw the movie, “Where the Wild Things Are,” which is ONE LONG EXTENDED HOWL. Hallelujah laughed in pure joy at young Max’s connection to his BELLY KNOWLEDGE. Max growled, screamed, and pounced out his feelings from the beginning to the end of this cathartic movie.
Hallelujah approves of CATHARSIS and practices howling and laughing regularly. Consciously practiced howling for Hallelujah began on Christmas morning of 2007 in Osa, Costa Rica. At 5:00 am, howler monkeys bellowing deep in the rain forest woke Chiboogamoo and me up. The air vibrated their powerful sense of BEING. Their belly howls filled my body, reverberating, healing, and informing. Howlllll…Hallelujah! Howllll… Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Young Max goes to the place where the wild things are (the land of pure emotion), and then he returns home a more integrated boy who can both understand himself and his mother better. This response is the KNOWLEDGE of the HOWL. The howl is there for us any time we need to release, run, and recognize, realize, and regroup!
Today, I howl to BE, I howl to SEE, I howl ME.
I call the painting you see here, “Embracing the Wild Things.” On my journey, I have already discovered I am not alone. In addition to my feline companion, I travel with Wandjina, Here in this image, we are reaching out to the “wild things.” Perhaps this painting is more of a reflection and an invitation to the wild things to be present in my life.
In the future, Hallelujah envisions painting something akin to Max’s cinematic mud clod fight. What would that be like for Hallelujah? How would you paint your primal energies hurling dirt clods at one another!
Let’s you and I paint to get the howl out. What HOWL will you take today to speak your veritas, to move your soul, to see your heart’s desire, to hear your baby howl, your monkey howl, your ancient dinosaur howl?
That’s Coffee with Hallelujah! Tell me about how you get your HOWL out!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
HALLELUJAH SEES YOU!
HALLELUJAH BLESSES YOU!
Although this communication is taking place across the cyber universe, perhaps it is possible for our “mind waves” to flow into one another gently...so we can SEE each other’s minds and hearts.
We may all wonder how we can be truly good friends to ourselves and to one another. TRULY SEEING—taking in, perceiving, holding in view—OURSELVES--is a good beginning.
In this painting, Tears of Clarity, Hallelujah is SEEING herself in the presence of Wandjina. As I explained earlier, this northwestern Australian aboriginal creation God is representing for me, my animus (the male part of my psyche).
On my (Hallelujah’s) PILGRIMAGE, I have uprooted myself from my past and am PEERING into the UNKNOWN. THERE I AM!
Hallelujah SEES herself as Wandjina! This PERCEPTION causes HEALING tears that magically transform into NEW GROWTH! Wandjina’s black eyes hold the mystery for Hallelujah. The butterfly’s presence unites my two selves, and I proclaim
HALLELUJAH welcomes PILGRIM ARTIST Carleton, who wrote to her after viewing her blog on “Seeing and Being Seen.” Carleton is a fellow spiritual artist who just finished a vision quest in Utah. In addition to bravely traveling his own journey, he helps others on their journeys as rector of the Grace Episcopal Church in Yorktown,Virginia. Pilgrim Carleton kindly wrote the following:
“Part of the essence of ‘BLESSING,’ i.e. our capacity to bless one another, is to truly "see" them, to gaze upon and take them in so that they actually FEEL seen. That's why when the bishop visits our parish and takes the time to really discern, register, and reflect back the goodness of our ministries and life together -- it's a BLESSING (much more than his waving his hand around at the end of the service).”
Bless you Carleton for this insight, for this explanation of "gazing" upon someone and "taking" that soul "in." We all long for this kind of recognition.
Bless all you pilgrims!
That’s Coffee with Hallelujah! Write and tell Hallelujah about how you bless yourself and others by being present, truly present. SEE ME! SEE YOU! BLESS YOU and ME! We ARE SEEN!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Hallelujah thanks you for GAZING upon her! Hallelujah desires both to SEE and BE SEEN.
Right now, she asks you to consider how YOUR EDUCATION and everyone else’s education impacts our ABILITY to SEE.
Before beginning this contemplation on education and seeing, Hallelujah wishes to acknowledge her friend “SEE-SEE,” who had her read a chapter from Elif Safak’s 2000 novel, “THE GAZE,” and who led a discussion one recent night about SEEING and BEING SEEN in a group of female artists. Many thanks SEE-SEE!
Although Hallelujah had many responses to what her fellow artists said on this topic, for now, she wants to talk about: How our EDUCATION affects how we SEE and ARE SEEN.
EXAMPLE #1: Everyone’s CULTURE determines the standard for beauty and what is “normal.” In “THE GAZE,” the main character is a fat woman in love with a dwarf. These characters are accustomed to being OBSERVED negatively because they are different. Being seen negatively becomes a part of a causal chain of who these characters have become and will be in the future.
Conclusion? How other people SEE us, affects us significantly. If they GAZE upon us favorably, don’t we have a better chance of SEEING ourselves likewise? Thus, we have a greater chance of proceeding confidently and positively in our lives. AND THE REVERSE! BEING SEEN can be ADVANTAGEOUS or DANGEROUS! (Chiboogamoo, who is reading over my shoulder, adds, “This is true of predators and prey as well.” Hallelujah adores her companion and acknowledges his thoughtful contribution.)
EXAMPLE #2: Our EDUCATION teaches us to LOOK for CERTAIN things. Hallelujah would like to introduce a paleontological example.
My Chiboogamoo and I spent some time along the coast of Victoria in Australia at a site called “Dinosaur Dreaming” in Inverloch looking for fossil traces—tracks and burrows. As a paleontologist, Chiboogamoo knows specific patterns to look for in the rocks, and he has patiently taught me these search images, so I find them too. However, our guides, loving caretakers of this site and working for the Museum of Victoria, had a different way of looking at the rocks. They were looking for bone. Their search image was for a change in rock color and density. If the rock looked spongy and more porous in spots, it might contain dinosaur or mammal bone.
Chiboogamoo “discovered” fossil crayfish burrows directly in front of the staircase going onto the beach at this site. Everyone had passed these distinctly patterned rocks every day for as many as 15 years without SEEING them. He also found some dinosaur tracks even though many paleontologists had been to the site before. Not one of them had Chiboogamoo’s education—the study of life traces: ichnology. Soon, after his “discovery,” he taught site workers how to LOOK at the rocks differently, and they began finding more of the same traces.
Meanwhile, during my time along the rocky shores of Dinosaur Dreaming, I struggled with how to change my perceptions, so I could find fossil bone instead of traces. I have not been able to SEE any as of yet. Not yet!
Conclusion? We FIND what we KNOW to LOOK for. If we change the SEARCH PATTERN, we can FIND something DIFFERENT—maybe!
On my PILGRIMAGE, I would like to have a "SEARCH IMAGE," so I can find that "SOMETHING" that I am looking for. How will my EDUCATION help me in my journey—if I want to discover what I do not already know?
That’s Coffee with Hallelujah! Please tell me what you know about the unknown and do you have any tips about how to see it? ALL RESPONSES from PILGRIMS are WELCOME!
In this image, "Looking Between Worlds," Hallelujah has just freed herself from being "rooted" in her old ways. The painting is number 8 in the series of Hallelujah's Pilgrimage, that started on July 25, 2009. Painted on August 11, it is a good example of my experimenting with water color pencils and crayons, markers and glitter. This image is particularly meaningful to me because I feel it shows me transformed: I have the yellow glow of warm energy emanating from me, as well as the new growth represented by the veil of leaves and flowers. The pink hot spot at my center echoes my wide open mouth in amazement at what I see before me in the NEW WORLD of self.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
HALLELUJAH is looking for signs of similar intelligence in this vast blogging universe. A few days ago, a Fellow Pilgrim greeted her and gave her the nickname “HAL,” asking permission first, of course.
I am pleased to find this kind of nicknaming intimacy in cyberspace. I should like to nickname my new friend, “SEE” because of her emphasis on LOOKING and DISCOVERY and TRANSFORMATION.
I like the way SEE begins by looking at the physical world encompassing the self and moves inward, filtering her perceptions through her EMOTIONS. Even though she observes her emotions changing each day, she still looks into the mirror and sees her physical self—somewhat the same day to day. The QUESTIONS arise between 1) What is SEEN, 2) What is OBSERVED, 3) And all that is UNKNOWN.
WHAT IS THE SELF?
WHAT IS THE SOUL?
WHAT MORE CAN WE KNOW by going on a PILGRIMAGE? By doing our ART? By blogging our thoughts?
Blogging is answering my need for a language to NAME and DEFINE my EXPERIENCE.
Here in this image, “Riding Mother Snake,” (which again is only a portion of the entire image because of scanning limitations), Hallelujah is traveling through space and time on the back of the female snake manifested from Wandjina. From her belly sprang the waters of the earth. She is responsible for the land formations, the seasons, the tides, and changing winds. Hallelujah WANTS to EXPLORE with and LEARN from this great maternal force.
Notice how Hallelujah is also accompanied by Wandjina, who can float freely in the universe? I love his male energy and confidence! He represents the other half of my psyche—my wonderful ANIMUS! I am cultivating his companionship, and he is proving a strong guide!
That’s Coffee with Hallelujah! Blogging can be soul sharing. Hallelujah is putting her feelers out for like-minded souls, fellow pilgrims to talk to her about their own journeys. Please blog and tell me about your way of soul journeying.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
If it’s not ONE thing, it’s ANOTHER! Or BOTH!
I entertain dualities--dualities of light and dark,
known and unknown,
male and female,
action and intuition,
reality and imagination...
graded papers and ungraded papers!
Painting these perceptions in image, color, dot and pen gives me the opportunity to see these opposing energies existing simultaneously. I have created shimmering worldly documents--paintings--which attest to the life of my vibrant inner world.
Viewing my images causes me to catch my breath.
For a moment I am breathless. Can OPPOSING ENERGIES marry happily ever after, UNITING, DELIGHTING, TRANSFORMING, and DIRECTING?
As a PILGRIM, I honor the PATHWAY to SELF KNOWLEDGE. Here in this painting I recognize the thesis, the antithesis, and AHHHHHHHHHH—the SYNTHESIS.
As a SOJOURNER, I ask as I INTEGRATE pieces of myself, “WHAT NOW?”
For NOW, I will paint, discover, and blog.
That’s Coffee with Hallelujah. Tell me about your Pilgrimage and experience with opposing ideas. Do you entertain them like dueling houseguests? Do you find integration or resolution?
Sunday, October 4, 2009
To SURRENDER is to TRANSFORM. Here in this unfinished image with Wandjina, I am melting away from a known identity and entity to the GREAT UNKNOWN.
I’m relinquishing an identity of being youthful, accepting aging.
I’m leaving behind a 24/7 job of teaching ESL, making it part time.
I’m even loosening my emotional ties with my hierarchical and distant past of growing up in a military family, naming it HISTORY.
My SURRENDER can be encapsulated in my morning experience of taking public transportation to Georgia Tech, where I teach:
I surrender to the fact that when I’m standing on the street and see the train approaching, I CANNNOT CATCH THIS PARTICULAR TRAIN.
No matter how fast I run, I cannot move up the numerous stairs fast enough, cross the bridge extending across Dekalb Avenue, swipe my transit card, pass through the gate and trot down the towering stairs in time to depart with the fast approaching “people transporter” that I see right before me. No immediate gratification!
THIS ONE, the ONE I see right before me, NOW is NOT MINE…okay…I SURRENDER.
I have been practicing “SURRENDERING to the MOMENT “again and again for the past year since I started using public transportation.
I ARRIVE and LEAVE—WHENEVER!
That’s Coffee with Hallelujah!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Welcome to my blog, "Coffee With Hallelujah." Will you join me in a discussion of my pilgrimage and yours? Are we artists only when we engage in our art making? Or can we create lives that are filled with surprise and imagination? Can we keep discovering ourselves and those around us as we grow old?