Sunday, November 23, 2014

GRATITUDE DAY #1: Hallelujah Your Truth Journey Companions

I AM A SOUL PILGRIM and SO ARE YOU! I am so excited to be here with you on this journey! I have been searching for you so we can HALLELUJAH OUR TRUTHS together. I am so grateful for your presence. Thank you! (art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for eight days of GRATITUDE, extending from Sunday to Sunday, embracing the Thanksgiving holiday! Hallelujah for the JOURNEY that I am taking with all of you spiritual art companions and for soul blogging with you! Join my Facebook group, The Daily Creative Practice here, and join us in expressing our gratitude.

Today I am beginning my  GRATITUDE days with a big THANK YOU to YOU and for the way that YOU are "Hallelujahing your truth"! We are not alone dear creative souls! Thank you!

Here are only a few of the amazing and wonderful photos taken of YOU with my Hallelujah Your Truth stickers that I made from my art work and sent out to my fellow creative souls. Thank you for embracing my art, my truth and yours!
DARLENE SPERBER. Hallelujah for your presence in my life. You  are my first online friend who I met via Facebook. I treasure you and your creative life. Your deep expressive work touches me deeply. Your work is you. Thanks for being here in this world and for Hallellujahing your truth and mine so courageously! Love it that you put my sticker on your phone!
CHRISTINE GAUTREAUX and ME. Hallelujah for the abundant joy and love that you have brought into my life. Hallelujah for your big heart and expansive creativity that gets expressed in everything that you do including our InterPlay play, training, and teaching. You are such a treasure in my life. Thank you for being the creative soul and loving friend that you are!
DONNA FROMM. Welcome dear InterPlay friend! How vast the world is but how comforting to have found you via Facebook, via InterPlay, via Cynthia Winton-Henry! I love your creative soul and that you are sharing your colorful and playful life with me and others on the Daily Creative Practice! What more will I learn from you on this awesome creative journey? Hallelujah your Truth Donna! Thanks for wanting my Hallelujah Your Truth sticker!
JANICE LYNCH SCHUSTER.  Janice thank you for being such a wordsmith and lover of beauty. You speak your truth every day courageously. You amaze me with your energy and strength! Thank you for Hallelujahing your Truth with me. How awesome to have met you via Facebook in the Daily Creative Practice! In this vast random world, we creative sojourners find each other!
TRISH WEAVER. One amazing person is Trish Weaver, who has become such a central loving energy on the Daily Creativity Practice. You are Hallelujahing your truth without even knowing what it is. You create from the vastness of the unknown and wrap us all up in your vision and strength. Thank you!
I am so thankful for the many others who requested my "Hallelujah Your Truth" sticker and have posted photos of themselves on the Daily Creative Practice! Thank you! It is because of you that I am not alone. I love you!

That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what your creative journey is like! What are you grateful for today? Will you speak to me tomorrow? What is your TRUTH? Hallelujah your truth with me!
I AM SO THANKFUL FOR YOUR CREATIVE SOUL. Your presence means I am not alone. We are here together. (art by Hallelujah Truth)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

YOU ARE SO COURAGEOUS!: Seeking the meaning of this exclamation

TELLING MY "UNGRATITUDE" STORY.  Here I am taking out all those negative remarks out of my body spirit during our premier performance of the Soulprint Players on Sunday, November 16th, 2014, at the Mask Center in Little Five Points Community Center, Atlanta, Georgia. The theme was gratitude in its entire spectrum, including the opposite. (all photos by Dean Hesse)
"YOU ARE SO COURAGEOUS!" a fellow InterPlayer proclaimed to me after our first performance a week ago here in Atlanta. We had just finished our debut as the newly minted Soulprint Players improvising on the topics our audience had given us related to the theme of gratitude. 

Hallelujah for COURAGE! But what does it mean? What exactly is COURAGE?

I thanked my fellow InterPlayer for his remark and then was drawn away by the celebratory hugs and remarks of other InterPlay performers. But his remark nagged at me, harkening me back to the many times viewers of my artwork at an exhibit had exhorted the same remark:

GESTURE CHOIR ON "GROWING OLD".  Here I am (second from the left) supporting Atlanta InterPlayer Gerry Cook (far right) as he tells his story about "growing old." It felt tremendously freeing to let my body wisdom imitate his movements. I practiced "easy focus" and followed Gerry. He succeeded in telling his entire story through movement without words. How interesting! How courageous!
Part of my discomfort at this proclamation emitted by those who SEE me and my work is that their remark about my courage does not feel complimentary. No. 

The phrase, "YOU ARE SO COURAGEOUS!" exists in another category of social discourse, something other than a gift of praise or an acknowledgment of an accomplishment. Their remark, instead, appears to be a hidden REVELATION about themselves. But what is that revelation? 

Let's try some meanings on:

I would never paint or exhibit an image that is so raw.
I would not be open to expressing such personal content in a painting or performance.
I would not show pain or confusion to the public in an art form.
Exhibiting one's emotional life in performance unskillfully would be embarrassing to me.
I believe I would not present myself to the public unless my dance, song, art was perfect.
SHAPE AND STILLNESS ON BEHALF OF LAUGHTER. Imagine your fellow performers deciding to laugh uncontrollably while creating shape and stillness on behalf of laughter. "What should I do," I asked myself, struggling with what my body spirit wanted to do and how I wanted to follow my fellow Soulprint Players in what they were doing. I hit the ground laughing...ecstatically following!
Well, with all the courage I could muster, I returned to the InterPlayer who had pronounced me "SO COURAGEOUS" and asked him what he meant by this exclamation. That's a first for me. Previously in other creative arenas, I had somehow felt ashamed for not eliciting more noteworthy praise around the outcome of my creative efforts.

We had a brief but meaningful exchange. He told me that he admired me for being authentic in a way that he strives to be. He felt that I know who I am and that I state that knowledge honestly and unafraid. And, yes, his remark, YOU ARE SO COURAGEOUS seemed to be more about him than it was about me. 

Or, it just might be, YOU ARE SO COURAGEOUS is a statement about us both in relation to one another. After all, we exist in a world of "I am's" and "You are's."  A lot more could be said on this topic!
I FORGOT TO HAVE BABIES.  Telling a side by side story about gratitude for "babies" with two other women who are mothers. "I forgot to have babies," my story began. I was able to tell my authentic story about NOT having babies and the sadness it brings me some times. How cathartic! How authentic? How courageous?
These days the word "authenticity" is getting a bad rap for being a buzz word and resulting in anything but what the word means (see a previous blog that I wrote about authenticity). For now, I will say YES. I AM COURAGEOUS. I am authentic. THANK YOU! InterPlay is providing another way for me to experience and expand this courage.

I hope I can support all of you pilgirmins you in your own courageous journeys towards authenticity. Hallellujah!
That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me about your understanding of YOU ARE SO COURAGEOUS! I want to know! Please share!
Other Hallelujah Your Truth Blogs about Courage

Thursday, November 20, 2014

MY COUNTRY: Hallelujahing my the BEING of my truth whatever

What is your deep knowing about YOUR HOME? (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for those who are HOME wherever they are, whoever they ARE with, and whatever they ARE doing!

The "art of BEING" after all is such a great part of the journey in our BEING human. For me BEING...equals...HOME. And I keep wrestling with BEING HOME.
What is your "country of self"?

Perhaps, for some of you who have been following my ARTFUL SOJOURN, you have grown weary of my persistent search for an explanation or focal point of my BEING here--BEING HOME here on this magnificent beautiful Earth. 

But how would you answer this question for yourself?:

What is your "country of self"?  Your being? How does this "country of self" manifest itself in your every day life? Is the "country of self" a movement, a word or phrase, a color, an image, a sound, a thought...? 

Do we discover who we are through our education accompanied by life experience? Is the "country of self" discovered incrementally step by step from communal imitation to the emergence of something personal? Does imitating others in dance, poetry, image making or vocalizations lead us down the path to the creation of something that is uniquely ours?
Do we discover who we are through imitation?

I'm beginning to think that our individuality or the "country of self" is expressed more simply...just by BEING human...BEING in a body!

In each breath, we ARE there in the inhale and exhale! This "inspiration" IS uniquely ours. Wouldn't it be fun to create a document similar to the one each car owner possesses claiming proprietorship to my BODY SPIRIT--organs, muscles, bones, blood, heart, mind, soul and all that biologically, spiritually, intellectually and emotionally constitutes me--is that what we call a BIRTH CERTIFICATE or PASSPORT?
Inhaling and exhaling is my BEING

Over the past few years, I have been searching for the "country of myself" through my morning drawings, inviting my subconscious to reveal secrets from another less familiar dimension. Thinking I might build a relationship with my psyche and wander into archetypal realms connecting and blending with other people universally.

What is your deep knowing about YOUR HOME, your country of self? SOUL BLOG with Hallelujah and share your SOUL and what makes up the "country of yourself". 
I AM HALLELUJAHING MY TRUTH NOW. Whatever it IS. However I AM. I AM my country!

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: I am so thankful for the group members in my Facebook Group, The Daily Creative Practice (come join us here). This image was created for the first in a ten week series of "Art Therapy Thursdays." The assignment was to create a postcard you don't intend to send (here is the link to the Huffington Post art therapy article). I also am so thankful to Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter, co-founders of InterPlay, for their concept of the "body spirit," an idea that embraces all of our humanity. Thanks to my friends Christine Gautreaux, Callahan Pope McDonough, and Lesly Fredman who keep me connected to the Earth through their own honest journeys. Big love to my husband and boon companion Chiboogamoo for his stillness and humor.

Friday, November 7, 2014

CULTIVATING AND DEPICTING SOUL: Image making and the daily creative practice

EXPLORING POSSIBILITIES of BEING THROUGH REPETITION. Who or what might I be? Where might I go? I draw daily to find out. Welcome to my soul depiction! (art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for exploring new possibilities through a daily creative practice!  Hallelujah for repetition! Hallelujah for writing, dancing, playing, and making art to explore who or what I might be and where I might travel!

Just a few days ago I joined a new Facebook Group, Inspired Blogging, and am so delighted to meet a new group of bloggers, people I suspect I have much in common with. Social media has given me a way to connect with like-minded souls worldwide over the five-plus years I've been blogging, yet still I have yearned to find a solidified tribe with who I could "commune" deeply with.

Inspired Blogging, might be that Online Social Commune for me. Who knows? But it is definitely a possibility. I would like to know more about the person who created the group and launched it. And about the people she invited. The members write wonderful deep meaningful blog entries and leave heartfelt comments on each others blogs!

I learned about Inspired Blogging from a member in my own Facebook group, The Daily Creative Practice, a diverse group intensely creative souls, who I love dearly. Thank you Vickie for posting the link to your Inspired Blogging community.

A new possibility I'm exploring these days is that I may make a short animated film using the images I draw each morning as part of my meditation for my "daily creative practice." Several years ago, Spencer Moon encouraged me to learn about animation and started mentoring me in film making; however, at that time, I did not have a compelling story to tell, and I was still working my day job at Georgia Tech as an ESL instructor. My nerves were all in a jangle!

Since then, ocean waves of life events have swept me into new worlds of being, and I have been documenting my journey through the cultivation and consistent image making depicting my soul. 

Ah ha! I bet I have surprised you! That is such a huge pronouncement to make! What does a soul look like? And how do we understand it?

My answer to that? A daily creative practice, one that might be grounded in repetition. For years, I journaled and then refined the technique by practicing the "morning pages" Julia Cameron style in The Artist's Way

 "Morning pages" is a writing practice, one founded on the belief that writing upon waking could help one secure thoughts, ideas, and images closely connected to the self, the subconscious, and the intelligent stuff of dreams. As I honored my desires to express my ideas in visual images instead of words, my morning pages became pictures instead of words.
And in the same way, that Julia Cameron gives writers of the morning pages permission to repeat words and phrases each day as they write until something new emerges, I repeat my images with loving dedication until something new pops up.  

And in the same way that Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones urges us not to cross out our words in free writing but to gently embrace them in parentheses, I don't cross out or erase my images. They are what they are! They are soul stuff.

Drawing each day for about five years now has cultivated my vision. I can see my soul and am showing you one small aspect of me here in these images right here! 

And now, the idea of making an animated short film no longer seems as daunting as it did three years ago. There is a great deal I need to know. But I now know that I would it would be about! Here's the working title: GENESIS OF HALLELUJAH TRUTH!
That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and share your possibilities! What are you exploring you might be or a place you might go?

Thursday, November 6, 2014


TRACKING ALLIGATOR ON THE GEORGIA COAST. A nice surprise greeted my husband, Tony, and me along the beach in the back dune area on Sapleo island--juvenile alligator tracks! What was this little guy doing out by himself wandering near the shore? That's me looking at the tracks. I'm in the photo for scale! (photo by Tony Martin)
At sunrise, juvenile alligator tracks lead us nearly half a mile behind the dunes before they suddenly halt at the shrub line leading into the maritime forest. The winds are rising and dusting our trails that followed behind this top predator of the Georgia barrier island. My husband, Tony Martin, and I stopped to wonder out loud, "What had brought this three-year old alligator out of its freshwater pond for a walk about along the coast?" and "Where was it going next?"
CLOSE UP OF THE ALLIGATOR TRACKS. The alligator's tail drag creates a serpentine pattern ornamented on either side by its long-toed feet. What a visual treat and so ephemeral, gone as the wind blows sweeping sand into is crevices and blowing some of it away. (photo by Tony Martin)

Being curious and wondering out loud is part of storytelling skills, according to Jon Young in the book, "Animal Tracking Basics," that Tony is using for his freshman seminar class at Emory. Titled "How to Interpret Behavior You Did Not See," this course has 18 university freshmen choose designated "sit spots" in natural green spaces around the Emory campus, keep tracking journals in which they have "mapped" their "sit spots," and learn how to recognize, name, and understand the animal behavior they discover.

Another aspect of the course is storytelling! That is where my life, the wife of the scientist, enters the Emory classroom of animal tracking students! Ta da! I'm an educator with 25 years plus experience, artist, and, yes--animal tracker. I have been tracking with my "ichnologist" husband for the past 13 years. In addition to these skills, I have been adding a new one to my belt--improvisational ones via the methodology called InterPlay. But I get ahead of myself...first what is "ichnology"?

Ichnology is the study of traces of animals behaving--making their tracks, trails, burrows, feces, gnawings, and more. You can study animal behavior occurring today or that which occurred in the past, even millions of years ago. Tony has done both in two very different books:  the modern in Life Traces of the Georgia Coast, and the ancient in Dinosaurs Without Bones.

My husband is both expert at interpreting behavior he did not see the animal make and at writing stories about that behavior. This spousal storytelling behavior has been ongoing in our household without my "interpreting" it as STORYTELLING! I thought of his book writing endeavors as something academic, something distant from every day life, something scientific and meant for a specialized group of readers. 

A light bulb went off for me this past week after volunteering to teach two of his 50-minute freshman tracking classes this week while he is in Berlin for a Society of Verterbrate Paleontologists conference. Reading the "Storytelling" chapter in Animal Tracking Basics, caused fireworks in my artist's brain. Kaboom! Ohhhh! Ahhh!
LIGHT BULB MOMENT. Jon Young writes that we tell stories about tracking animals to "elucidate the edges of our experience." I began to see a way to integrate my life with a scientist and the numerous hours I've spent tracking animals around the globe. I could learn to tell the animals' stories. (photo by Tony Martin)
Suddenly, I experienced an integration of my life with Tony. Suddenly, my writing skills, my image making moments, tracking animals with Tony in various countries such as Australia, Guatemala, Bahamas, and the United States, and the improvisational tools of InterPlay sizzled, popped, and merged! I could teach students how to express their scientific observations passionately using the methodology of InterPlay!

SCIENCE OBSERVATION AND INTERPLAY MEET. Key points that Jon Young makes in his chapter on storytelling are to show enthusiasm, embody the story, have fun and be passionate! Very similar to some of things we do in InterPlay! What an interesting proposal to engage 18 year olds in expressing their scientific observations as recorded in their journals for class using the methodology of InterPlay! (photo by Ruth Schowalter of the Emory classroom board in her class)
What a wonderful invitation Jon Young offers in his book, Animal Tracking Basics!--to "elucidate the edges of our experience" through storytelling. Academically, he provides a sound basis for telling tracking stories. He explains that in doing so we participate in the following activities:

perceive more deeply,
discern what we are seeing,
link disparate concepts (synthesize),
know our place, and
know ourselves.

He even goes on to add juicier motivations for telling stories about the animal tracks we see. In doing so, we develop a passion for living and learning. We laugh and live more fully in the moment! Hurray education for life!

But how to move students from the artifacts? The notes and sketches in their tracking journals into experiencing this enlivened state of being? One must have a methodology! Jon Young suggests researching folk tales and information about the animals and listening to elders' stories. And to wonder. To ask questions. 

How wonder full! But then how to get students to "enact" and "embody" this gathered content?  InterPlay has forms and tools for expressing content such as scientific facts in an enlivened and full way. Here's how I did it with a little help from my InterPlay community (Thank you Phil Porter, Jennifer Denning and Lynn Hesse)!

First, after warming the students up with physical activity and learning their names, I used one of the most fundamental forms of InterPlay--babbling! Babbling is an improvisational form that builds from one sentence statements about possibilities for telling stories to 30-second stories, to 1-minute and longer stories incorporating variations in the way a person communicates those stories.

In this class, students had an opportunity to tell stories about a variety of topics in pairs, taking turns performing and listening: 
  • a meaningful time in nature
  • an experience of using one of more of the five senses when observing out in nature
  • tracks
  • scat 
  • weather observation
  • bird language
  • talking about something mundane
  • telling a story about a "sit spot"
  • speaking from a different point of view of animate or inanimate object in their "sit spot" 
In incremental steps, I introduced variations the students could use to begin to "embody" their stories. For example, I asked students to play around pausing, stopping, and elongating words. They noticed that by doing so, their listeners grew more interested in what they were going to say next. Pausing or stopping also gave them time to think about what how they were going to continue their story. 

Then I had them experiment with telling a story about a mundane topic such as walking to class or washing clothes with great enthusiasm. This activity engaged them in playing around with volume, pitch, and speed. They also noticed that they began using their faces and gestures. 

Finally, in this short 50-minute class, I had the individual storytellers stand up to tell a story from the perspective of an animal or something else that they had observed in their "sit spot." They were invited to integrate pausing, stopping, speeding up, and enthusiasm in their presentations. Some students definitely grew more animated and invested in how they were telling their stories.
BIG BODY STORY. Here you can see how one animal tracking student began to embody her story, playing around with pausing, stopping, speeding up, and showing enthusiasm. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
On Friday, November 7, I shall return for one more adventure in engaging tracking students to embody their scientific observations. Let's see what else we can play with to have fun telling stories from our observations of nature. Stay tuned! 

That's Coffee With Hallelujah. SOUL BLOG with me and tell me about your STORYTELLING SKILLS!
HELLO DR. MARTIN! At the conclusion of class, some students had already run off to their next class, but I asked the remaining students if they would like to pose for a picture of me to send to my husband, Dr. Tony Martin. These students volunteered. Ta da! (photo by Lynn Hesse)

For a poem written about tracking an alligator by my husband, visit this blog on Tony Martin's website:

When You Write about Traces, Does It Make a Sound?

For more about stories about alligators and their traces, see this Tony Martin blog:

Into the Dragon's Lair--Alligator Burrows...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


YOUR WAY IS THE WAY. How will you hallelujah your truth today? (art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for WHEEE...letting go and finding YOUR WAY...! Hallelujah for artmaking, blogging, dancing, and WAYING! Hallelujah for YOUR TRUTH, YOUR WAY, whichever way that is!

Today, I am sharing images I'm engaged in drawing right now as part of the "Cosmology of Hallelujah Truth." These three images emerged this morning as I was listening to the album Donovan Sutras. I have listened to this album since it was released in 1997, and its lyrics have become a part of me. 

I find such peace in listening to these words from the song, "The Way," over and over again: 

Out of nothing comes the one
Out of one comes the two
Out of two comes three
Out of three comes all things

OUT OF TWO COMES THREE (art by Hallelujah Truth)

Perhaps it is the simplicity. The incremental steps of entertaining the MYSTERY OF BEING that engages me, holds and rocks me. I find great comfort in accepting the emergence of all things as I find MY WAY and HALLELUJAH MY TRUTH.

More shall be revealed each day...
How will you "Hallelujah Your Truth" today? SOUL BLOG with me and share your tips on celebrating your spirit--hallelujahing your truth and way.

Acknowledgement: Thank you Donovan for you album, Donovan Sutras! Here are a few more stanzas from the lyrics to the song, "The Way" with my favorite stanza contextualized: 

I stay behind I walk ahead
Apart yet a part of everything
Nothing done and all is well
Never used yet always full

Out of nothing comes the one
Out of one comes the two
Out of two comes three
Out of three comes all things

The more it moves the more it yields
The valley spirit never dies
The root of heaven and of earth
Empty now of everything

From above it is not bright
From below it is not dark
You cannot see when it began
Follow it there is no end

Monday, November 3, 2014

HONORING SELF AND OTHERS: Dancing on Behalf of...

HONORING MYSELF WITH A DANCE AND A HUG. (photo by Christine Gautreaux)
Hallelujah for HONOR, RESPECT, and AVENUES to celebrate the SELF, my spiritual pilgrim, and OTHERS who accompany me in this GREAT MYSTERIOUS JOURNEY. Hallelujah for the CREATIVE ARTS that provide highways, middle ways, and low ways to EXPRESS our souls!

On the day before Halloween, I chose to DANCE on behalf of MYSELF at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. My inner child had become frightened and recoiled in response to all of the gory Halloween decorations in my Decatur neighbors' yards. For weeks, as I walked (part of my daily practice), I witnessed death in armies of skeletons, horror in zombie screams, blood flow in decapitated heads, and tortured baby dolls. I feel embedded in a culture I don't recognize as mine.

Recognizing that I had "embodied" these horrific front yard Halloween messages, I knew I needed to "exform" them. That is...get the negative messages of death and human pain and suffering out of my body. 

The warm fall sun shone on green foliage of towering trees, flowering shrubs and end of summer season flowers at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Big and small orange, yellow, and speckled pumpkins plopped on hay bales and framed by chrysanthemums sparkled in golden dappled light diffusing through tree branches. 

Accompanied with good friend Christine Gautreaux, I DANCED on behalf of the little girl in myself who needed comforting. I DANCED on behalf of myself to release the pain of those who have suffered. I DANCED on behalf of the sorrows related to losing our loved ones to death. As I released or "exformed" this heavy sorrowful information, I experienced love of myself. Dancing my concerns honored me and others. My feelings were respected. Added to that? I was witnessed by my friend Christine. Pilgrims we are not alone in this journey. We have each other and many ways to share our experiences. 

Thank you to InterPlay who have given me the tools and forms to "exform," "dance on the behalf of," and "witness."
That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me how you will HONOR YOURSELF today and tomorrow.

Here is a slide show of my time at the Atlanta Botanical Garden with Christine. We went there for many reasons: To be together, to study our InterPlay materials as we "play" towards becoming InterPlay leaders, to walk, to celebrate fall and to perform one of the 25 ways to play at celebrating #interplay25!