Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Embers and Ash

Nature of Mind 24"x24"

As I write this I am sitting in front of a brilliant fire.  A garland of lights and pine branches still add sparkle to the hearth. It seems the perfect place on a dark night and it reminds me of the words "embers and ash" that crossed my path last week in two different places. That always makes me sit up and pay attention. This evening embers and ash whisper to me about the old year that has burned away as the new one catches fire?

Usually I am anxious to stow the festive bits away by now but for some reason this year I am savouring their brightness a little longer. Perhaps it is the unusual crispness of the outdoor air, with a promise of snow later this week that makes them seem seasonally appropriate or maybe the lovely newsletter from my homeopath, Seraphina Capranos where she describes her process of stretching the winter solstice period to envelop Dec 21- Jan 6th.  After a few weeks of mixing quiet reflection with visits and activities it feels restorative to retreat just a little longer to let the stillness of the season really sink in.

Field Work 12"x 9"

These dark days of winter feel like a time to turn inward and deeply nourish the inner self, to sit by the fire, to contemplate and write. Seraphina talks about dreaming ourselves into being. I like that. I think we are more ethereal than we take ourselves to be in this modern world, as much stardust as bone.

One of my favourite activities at the turning of the year is to gather up my journal and ponder the old year's path and the new one stretched out in front of me. The year that lies behind me was a fairly ordinary year in many ways. I didn't fall in any big holes or attach myself to any bright stars. It was a year of garden and paint and minor this and that's. One of the highlights was taking refuge with Geshe YongDong in the Tibetan Bon tradition. That simple act has had more power than I might have imagined. In 2016 I resolved to just let my art be, to paint, to let the work evolve without expectation, without looking to make the work support itself. There's a whole bunch of dharma in there!! There was evolution but of course not as much as the wanting mind would like. You can never please the ego.  And of course the inevitable comparisons and pangs of envy engendered by places like Instagram. Always ever more grist for the dharma mill :)

Tree's Innermost Thoughts 16"x 20"

I am much more of a look forward-er than a look back-er so that tends to be my focus as I contemplate. This year I found a curious theme emerge. As I wrote I found it was all about qualities of "BEING" rather than about intentions, aspirations or goals. I didn't want to "do" so much as "be". It's surprising what you find when you sit down to write. :)

 I found words emerge that would clearly lead the way. I woke up in the middle of the night and in response to a problem I'd been grappling with, the words "just SURRENDER" were waiting for me. And I mean surrender in the best sense of the word :). So that has clearly become a 2017 state of being I want to embrace.  I have been working a lot with "TRUST" in a number of circumstances: trusting what is, trusting what comes to me, trusting me, so trust is another key word for me in the year ahead. And I think it goes well with surrender. Another word that came to me via my Pilgrim Cards and seemed to resonate is "COURAGE".  Curiously each word arrived at a separate moment but they feel like they fit together perfectly. I mean you need courage and trust to surrender, otherwise you just give up instead :)

Storm Watch 10"x 10"
And what little seasonal tidbits do I have to offer as tiny treats? As a gift to our meditation practice we bought a fun little biofeedback gizmo called Muse that snoops on your brain to see if you are meditating or making your grocery list when you sit your cushion :) Muse tells all :)  This last week I have been enjoying Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's short Facebook teachings. And a quote.  I can't exist long without something short and sweet to nourish me. Here's my most recent favourite: "You will see in the world, what you carry in your heart." Creig Crippen

And here's to your hearts dear friends, may they be filled with a passion and aliveness for this new year. May they awaken to the amazing, hidden potential inside you. May your creative spirit be nourished in surprising ways. May this year ahead bring you everything you need to make your heart sing.


  1. I am a very bad blogger these days, but glad I stopped by.Beautiful work and I resonate with so much here. I have given up goals and plans and resolutions and it is life changing. Happy New year. xoxo

  2. I have to say, my sense is that blogging is over. Are you on instagram, Annie? So many artists there. I think artists love it because it's purely visual.

    Wishing you an awesome 2017!

  3. Nice blog! I'm actually starting a new Buddhist blog tomorrow because there are so few that are active these days. I was poking around in on old best blogs list and found you. Bravo for posting in 2017!

  4. hello! The name given to me when I took refuge in the Bon tradition this year was Kalzang Wangmo :) Yes does seem that blogs are falling by the wayside. Sad in a way because you can't write much on instagram :) I look forward to checking out your new blog.

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  6. Hi I don't think bogging is over but it is harder. For example, I can't figure out how to follow you. I have to go to Instagram and follow the link back to here. But I digress what I really wanted to say was I love your art and I'm curious about the medium and the process. I'd be interested to see a series of 3 or 6 Instagram or blog post the process of one painting start to finish. Do you ever do anything like that. I'm artforpetesake And jewelryartstudio on instagram thanks.

  7. Hi Peter Nice to see you here, yes I think we have connected on instagram. I will be transitioning to a new website and a blog that flows from that quite soon so things will be in one place and perhaps easier to keep track of.

    Ha, the process! Well it is so convoluted and often takes so long that I can't imagine posting the progress of it. It would probably bore you to death :) Generally the process is to apply some texture to board or canvas (I'm using some venetian plaster right now) and then water mixable paints and cold wax, sometimes walnut oil. I love scratching through with a palette knife. It just goes on like that until it feels done. :) And sometimes that takes a long while of hanging in the studio and adding and refining. Thanks so much for your interest!

  8. Really love what you say about trust and surrender, great reminder for cultivating non-doing! Also, I've been reading through some of your posts on your path with Zen and Buddhism in general and I was wondering whether you would be willing to share what drew you to the Tibetan Bon tradition? Thank you!