Thursday, November 5, 2009


These photos of my kids are some my very talented sister, Whitney, them all...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Garden

I went running and then hopped in the shower since company was coming in a few hours. The late afternoon sun was slanting into the window above my shower in a way that lit everything up in an almost magical way. It felt....sacred there in my shower and a feeling of expectancy came over me, and I closed my eyes.
In my mind I saw myself handcuffed (the medieval chain-connected-to-the-wall kind) to the the walls, floor and ceiling. I knew right away that each of my limbs, my waist and my neck were chained to something religious, for lack of a better term. Right away someone entered the little area I was chained inside and indicated that s(he) wanted to undo the chain connected to my ankle. I physically lifted one foot up (not just in my head, but there in the shower) and almost felt a pressure around my calf from a hand that was releasing my ankle. The weight was gone and then the presence went on to my next ankle, wrists, waist and neck in the same manner. Then I was taken by the hand and turned around to face what I suddenly realized was a doorway (no door) which led into a brightly lit garden. Where I had been chained was not the shower-shaped prison cell I thought it was; it was actually a kind of alcove facing the garden wall from which I hadn't been able to see the garden. I'd been
chained to and facing a wall and now my breath was fairly taken away by what had been behind and around me all the time.
I was led by the hand and I went like a child, no worries or questions. Trees, flowers, a breeze and a sweet, heady scent were all around me. I was led to a garden bench in the center of the garden and I sat down next to what I knew was God.
Suddenly a knowing rushed in, but not in the frightening way Neo experienced as he was pulled into the Matrix. This was a waking up to understanding but for me it was gentle and peaceful.
I suddenly understood with this new knowing that that "cell" I'd been released from was my religion. I realized that the portion of the garden wall I'd been chained to/facing was STILL IN THE GARDEN. From that position I saw and experienced a part of the garden in a real way; I saw a corner of Truth there. But I was looking at a piece of wall, which technically was "real," but a distorted view of Truth since it was a Truth out of the context of...the real reality of the garden.
The chains holding me in place were beliefs/agreements that justified/explained my living life facing a tiny piece of wall. I was raised in those chains and to even ackowledge them as chains, admitting that that "itch" that made me feel like a bad believer or rebellious, kept me safe from the Nothingness I was led to believe I'd fall into without the reality of chains and wall. I was chained next to my family and friends, after all. In fact, for much of my life I was taught to pretend that the chains weren't in fact uncomfortable or limiting. I was taught that Truth and living in it meant loving the pain of those chains and even denying they were chains at all.
Now, released from the chains, I saw my religion for what it was; no need to weigh out what is "right" or "wrong" with my religion or my religion's explanation of God. I had indeed been seeing some true things about God/the garden/existence. I felt no compulsion to "figure out" my religious experience. Why spend time decoding an experience from the past when I could sit quietly in the garden, basking in the total love, acceptance and peace of the presence beside me on the bench? It would be as silly as sitting in the corner of a lovely hotel room, reading my diary from years ago, while my lover waits expectantly for me in bed! Silly.
Then I noticed lots of other people chained in the same way I had been, facing different spots on the wall of the garden. I immediately understood: these were different religions, different belief systems, different bodies of thought. But they all did exactly the same thing: kept people stuck looking at the same piece of wall, the same corner of truth and all out of fear of the unknown.
I also understood Eden in a flash of comprehension. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, whether I see it as literal or figurative was a stepping away from the garden bench on which I sat. It was a fear of what would come next and the "temptation" of the idea that there was something MORE. Choosing the mythical "more" started the very tragedy I'd been involved in my own life: a life defined by the chains of needing to have answers and to believe the chains are the only reality. We were born in these chains; the prospect of removing them when everyone in our system seems quite happy in them, is terrifying. Furthermore, we developed callouses that made the chains chaff our skin less. Soon we thought the callouses WERE our skin.
Since this experience I have found my reality has utterly changed. I run from places I've been conditioned to go, both situations, people and thoughts, but I have a destination: that bench in the garden. I can not describe the feeling I have when I sit there and lean against that loving presence, resting. But I can say I feel a peace, a rest, a relief and a feeling of being enjoyed.
I don't ever want to leave this bench. I don't want to limit my experience of the garden any longer. And since that "vision" or whatever you want to call it, I find it just as impossible to "un-see" as it was for Neo to "un-see" the matrix.
Even former "sticking points" feel different. What to do with Jesus, the Bible or the "real" experiences I've had inside of religion? But something wondrous has happened: where I used to experience those thoughts of "what about" as scary, accusing and guilt-inducing, I feel what I can only describe as....mirth. Weird, I know. What happens is I get briefly hung up on a "what if" (aka the fear I might have to put a handcuff back on) and then I feel the presence "calling" me to the bench in the garden. The presence is smiling...grinning, really...and says, "Don't worry! We'll talk about it!" and then fondly kisses my cheek. It's as if i'm being told what I tell my children when they begin worrying/obsessing about something that is out of their realm: "Mama will take care of it, Sweetie. You are not going to worry about this. I'm the Mama and I will take care of you." And I feel my body relax in just the way my children's do when an unnecessary burden is lifted from their shoulders by capable, trustworthy hands: Relief. Rest. Peace.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Knowing Bliss

I'm happy to introduce my new clothing line, "Knowing Bliss." It is near and dear to my heart and comes from a place deep inside me. It combines some of the things that makes my own heart beat faster: romantic clothing, vintage lace, comfortable wearability and simple beauty. I love pairing up unlikely elements: denim and lace, casual t-shirts and sumptous ruffles or utilitarian garments with exquisite antique details. It's that juxtaposition that makes my heart beat faster. There's a different sort of beauty about a garment that was dreamt to life, one-of-a-kind, uniquely beautiful in the way these pieces are. I rely heavily on vintage clothing but I also enjoy incorporating new pieces and making them into something that is anything but mass-produced.

My inside "knowing" has been leading me to this venture for years. I remember when I was about eight and I was given my first sewing machine, I used to lie in bed for hours imagining the clothes I would make for my doll. A child is a natural at "altered clothing" and "repurposed beauty." She thinks creatively and often quite naturally dreams up ways to use what's on hand in a new way. My own daughter took a stained canvas bag and "made it pretty" just last week by drawing all over the bag with markers so that the stain wasn't visible. She was delighted with the was prettier than how it was before, she told me. And it was true!

This clothing line is something that in so many ways expresses who I am. It honors the past and respects the reality of today while it envisions ways to make something old, forgotten, unused, unappreciated or messy into something beautiful. For me, "following my bliss" is the same thing as listening to my own "knowing" and acting upon it. So for many reasons this new venture is "Knowing Bliss." If you would like to purchase pieces from the Summer/Fall collection, please visit here.

~The farmer's daughter walk with a grace the French coquette can no attempt.~

~Imagination is stifled by a pair of ill-fitting pants.~

~"I think I dreamed you into life..."~

~Things are pretty, graceful, rich, elegant, handsome, but until they speak to the imagination, not yet beautiful."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

~A beautiful garment is only as beautiful as the woman who wears it.~

~"We grow great by dreams." -Woodrow T. Wilson~

~"Love is a canvas pattern furnished by Nature, and embroidered by imagination."~

~A little garden in which to walk, and immensity in which to dream.~

~The seamstress' needle rose and fell

for days and nights and nights and days

and what she made was the stuff of dreams.

~No longer shall I paint interiors with men reading and women knitting.
I will paint living people who breathe and feel and suffer and love." -Edvard Munch

~Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
But by the moments that take our breath away.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Vintage Tattoo

While I was visiting my sister in Long Beach I got my first tattoo. It was something I'd planned for months and months. The idea was born when I saw a sewing pattern that pictured a woman with a rose tattoo over her shoulder. It was barely showing in the photo, but it got me thinking...if I was ever going to get a tattoo (and I would NEVER!!!), it would be something like that. Then one of my sisters told me that they can use, etc. That made me actually start to consider the idea. I am very feminine, not necessarily "conservative," but certainly not "edge-y," at least as far as my appearance goes, so the idea of garish, bright "tattoo colors" was not appealing. But pastels...that made me think.

Then I had the idea that I could use a vintage embroidery pattern as the motif. I had one in mind that I have hand-embroidered on all sorts of things many times, so as the idea grew, I always pictured something like the embroidery pattern in my mind over my shoulder like a strap.

Once I made up my mind that I was definitely going to do it, I also realized I would be in Long Beach visiting my sister this summer, so I started planning that if I was going to do it, it would be then. But still I didn't know the exact motif I would use. I figured I'd decide that as it got closer and would probably end up combining a few embroidery motifs and kind of tweaking them. A few months ago I started to picture where it would be (left shoulder) and whenever I looked in the mirror I could almost "see" it.

About a week before my trip I realized I needed to nail down what the motif was going to be. I looked on flickr and other online tattoo sites and didn't see anything that was quite the look I was after. But then I pulled out the embroidery pattern I'd had in mind as a possibility. I decided to experiment and just shrink it 50% to begin with. But when I did that, cut it out and put it over my shoulder the way I'd been picturing, it was almost was EXACTLY RIGHT. It started on the front of my chest where I wanted it to, arched over my shoulder the way I'd had in my mind and ended in the exact spot I wanted it to on my back. I actually got a little misty-eyed because as I looked in the mirror, I just KNEW that was exactly what was "supposed to be there."

So when I went to Long Beach I took my little embroidery motif with me! My sister arranged an appointment with a guy named Chris who does floral work, among many other things, and I nervously awaited the day. Everyone had told me that it would would hurt a lot, but might hurt more than some because of where it was being done and because I don't have fat under my skin in that area, so there would be needles near bone for a lot of the tattoo. So I was nervous but still very excited.

Chris was exactly how I pictured him, except for his height! I am 4'10.5" (yes that .5 inch counts!) and Chris is 6'9"!!!
I was surprised how little it hurt. I was prepared for terrible pain, and although it did hurt, it wasn't at all the kind of pain I dreaded. I didn't feel like crying and just winced a few times, especially in the front. That skin was particularly sensitive. We decided on red with pink inside lines, which gives the illusion of the roses being dark pink. We tried the roses in pink but it was just not showing up at all. He used both dark and light green for the greenery.

Indoor shots....this first one was taken by Chris looking down at my shoulder from above.from the front...
In sunlight standing above me, looking down at my shoulder....
It is better than I ever imagined! It feels "right." It's almost as though it was always meant to be there. Feels really "me"...feminine, vintagey, reflects my artistic stuff and is just downright pretty. I'm so pleased. I never thought I'd get a tattoo, but there's a lot of things in life that turn out differently than we planned. This is a season of change for me, so getting this tattoo right now seems fitting. And I love it. :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Finding Life in a Meadow

If you go as far as you can see,
you will then see enough to go even farther.
- John Wooden

There came a time
when the risk to remain tight in the bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
- Anais Nin

"Never lose an opportunity
to see anything that is beautiful.
It is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament.
Welcome it in every fair face,
every fair sky,
every fair flower."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

As you sit on the hillside,
or lie prone under the trees of the forest,
or sprawl wet-legged by a mountain stream,
the great door, that does not look like a door, opens.
- Stephen Graham

One sees great things from the valley,
only small things from the peak.
- G. K. Chesterton

My father considered a walk among the mountains
as the equivalent of churchgoing.
- Aldous Huxley

"For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower, even from the cliffs of despair."

"I will be the gladdest thing under the sun. I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one."
-Edna St. Vincent Millay

When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person,
you know that a man can have no vocation
but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him...
- Albert Camus

We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent
and God is shining throughit all the time.
God manifests Himself everywhere, in everything -
in people and in things and in nature and in events...
The only thing is we don't see it...
I have no program for this seeing.
It is only given.
But the gate of heaven is everywhere.
- Thomas Merton

If I know what love is,

it is because of you.

-Herman Hesse

Monday, June 22, 2009


ISAIAH 62: 1-5 (my paraphrase)

Hear this: I will not withhold what is good from Cheryl; not only that, I will fight for Cheryl with all My strength, for as long and as hard as it takes. When it comes to Cheryl, I will not rest until she is safe in my arms, contentedly, trustingly gazing into my eyes.

She is mine; I am hers. She is a veritable sun, reflecting Me in such a real way that no one will be able to help but see and be warmed by the rays. And in a curious way that only Love understands, I reflect her, as well. And make no mistake: I haven't cleaned her up and this is not some sort of altruistic project. This is Love.You see…I call Cheryl by a new name…that’s how complete her transformation is. Her parents named her at her birth but this time I get to name her – a name I chose before she was even in her mother’s womb. That new name symbolizes the new woman she is, or, more accurately, the woman she always was inside. After all, this new woman is who I created her to be for all eternity. It's not like I look at her with forgiving eyes or that I use my power to "not see" her faults. This is who I always created her to be, and she is perfect for me today. I wouldn't change a thing.
I SEE Cheryl, in all that she is, and I love her with every bit of me. Others might see "just a woman," but not me. Let me tell you about this woman…

Cheryl is My treasure and joy.
With Cheryl beside Me, I have a beautiful crown on My head, reflecting Me and delighting Me.
Cheryl is a precious jewel that is so beautiful I can not even put it down. I can’t help it! I have to hold this jewel in My hand, turning it over, gazing upon it with joy and delighting in its beauty.

No one who knows Cheryl will look at her and see forsaken, forgotten, not-good-enough, empty or lonely. I have built a palace in the forgotten places, with beautiful pavilions and gardens on the exact spots that were formerly walled off because of ill-use and pain. My favorite places to be are in the gardens that were fertilized with her tears. Yes, there was tremendous pain that happened on this ground, but look at the beauty that grew from that pain. This palace is my home; I want to be nowhere else but here. Cheryl is a girl who was once lonely, sad and single but I picked her from among all the girls, made her Mine, changed her name to Mine and made a Home for her – in My heart and in My life. And not only that, I have made My home in HER. No one can look at this palace and see the emptiness of before. No one with eyes can look at this bride of Mine and see that single, lonely, unloved girl of yesterday. All they have to do is look at Me looking at Cheryl, the way My eyes light up when she walks into the room, the way I hold her close as often as I can. Look at the way I want Cheryl and only Cheryl beside me, in My heart and in every detail of My life…does this girl look single to you?
And this love of Mine isn’t pity or obligation. Oh, no! I watched this girl from afar, wanted her, picked her, won her, loved her and made her Mine. And I won't stop loving her now that I have her; every day with her is a gift that I treasure and every moment is a chance to be part of her life. Want to know why I can’t wipe this smile off of my face? It’s Cheryl! She is all that I desire. I will spend eternity being happy that she sits beside me and smiles up into my eyes.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Makin' a Mess

So the Deep Truth About Messes has all of a sudden become very real to me. It's changing me. And it's not just about physical Messes that involve paint on the rug, gooey cake batter or cupcake-icing in crevices it should have been physically impossible for it to get in, although that would actually be a really great lesson in the particular phase of life I'm in.

Making Messes means facing feelings head-on, greeting them, finding a good spot for them to sit and entertaining them until they are ready to leave.

Making Messes means letting my old "stuff" resurface and gasp for air, throwing them a life-preserver and reeling them into the dock.

Sometimes it might even mean giving them CPR, handing them a warm, fluffy towel and sitting by the fire with them.

Sometimes it even means letting that rescued-"stuff" kick the crap out of me.

Making Messes means getting out a good pair of pruning shears, taking a good look at the thoughts, priorities and habits I've got growing and cutting the hell out of em', even some of the pretty ones, because I know this will leave room for something even better.

Making Messses means taking a risk. Climbing up that ladder to the highest of really high high-dives that I can't even look at without feeling like puking. Looking down through the air between the me that's standing here and the me I want to be...impossible amounts of air. Stepping forward, toes hanging off, knees shaking, stomach flip-flopping and...


These messes are....messy. I like to avoid them, pretend they're not there, hide them under that big rug no one looks under, dress them up in pretty clothes and generally just not deal. I'm a clean kinda' girl. Don't enjoy dirt. Hate to feel greasy and grimy. Like to be put together when I face the world. Know what I mean? So the prospect of all this mess is definitely not something I relish.

But there's a lot of work to be done. And the results are always so wonderful. So here I go...

Let's get messy. And heck...a cute apron never hurt anybody!