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My new blog, Painting My Prayers will be released this SUMMER! Wait until you SEE what I have been working on. It is sacred, sparkly and filled with prayers…

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Happy Sacred 2012!

My New Year’s gift to you is this beautiful poem by Rumi:

 You Have Wings

 You were born with potential.

You were born with goodness and trust.

You were born with ideals and dreams.

You were born with greatness.

You were born with wings.

You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.

You have wings.

Learn to use them and fly! 

"Sacred Destiny"

As you can see, I painted part of this quote on my latest art work which is entitled “Sacred Destiny.” The foundation is an African belly or fertility mask which is worn by the Makonde tribe. What a perfect symbol for birthing a new year of hopes and dreams! The wings are full-size—about 3 feet in diameter. This piece will be my focusing symbol for 2012 and you are welcome to make it yours if it speaks to you. There are silver scissors on it to cut away the old to make room for the new. There is a vintage harmonica to remind us to hear the music of our souls. There is a large bone to keep us grounded and a tiara because we’re all so special, after all. If you look closely, there are many other images that you may find meaningful. Most important is the word “Yes” –my commitment (and I hope yours) to soar into 2012 and take flight.

Many blessings to you and your loved ones for a grace-filled, abundant, and magical year.

And Grandmother Bee also sends her love and wishes for a year in which we all fly to the stars and back. Watch for her new blog soon. She and I are very excited to share her journey and journal in just a few more weeks. Happy Blessed New Year!

Images and Symbols

Her Presence is Our Presence

As I look around my house today, our Christmas tree, which has been up for 2 weeks, is still waiting for its wardrobe of ornaments. There’s not a wrapped present in sight. The manger is deserted and my collection of snowman angels sit patiently in plastic crates that are at least no longer in the attic. (Though I think I’ve heard them mumbling about feeling claustrophobic and being ready to make a break for the entertainment center all by themselves soon.) I bought holiday stamps that may end up on summer birthday cards. No cinnamon baking smells yet…no stockings with my cherished ones names’ on them surrounding our arcadia door…

What gives? This is not me! Several years ago, my home was a winter wonderland that neighbors visited (in awe I might add) to get in the holiday mood. If holiday preparations were an Olympic event, I was a gold medal winner hands down.

This year, I’ve been worried that my skin might turn green like the Grinch’s if I don’t get with it soon. But at a flea market last weekend, I found the lovely Victorian picture posted here. I was mesmerized by her Presence. I want to be her! She has adoring little cherubs and birds celebrating her as she floats above a luscious landscape, evidently without a care in the world.

Who says we can’t be her? She is my new holiday role model, an image I can refer back to, breathe in, and become when I notice the naked tree and absent snowman angels.

When we play Monopoly, it’s good insurance to have a Get Out of Jail Free card in case we need it. In the game of Holiday Expectations, I’m giving us a Get Out of Guilt Free card.

Mother Teresa said “To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” And to keep ourselves going when we’re overwhelmed with “to do’s”, we have to fill ourselves with gentleness and appreciation for us, just as we are, no matter what we do or don’t do. (And no matter if we have a snowman revolt on our hands!)

During the next couple of weeks, I hope you can see yourself surrounded by sweet heavenly beings who love you right where you are. Replace any guilt with the gift of you. I’m sending you blessings and love as we wind down this year of rite of passage.
Grandmother Bee is keeping me busy with preparations for her new blog and what’s coming in 2012. (I could blame her for my lack of holiday preparations but I’m thinking it is really her gift to me.)

Thanks very much for your support this year. I’m so excited to share The New with you soon!

Marie and Shiloh Sophia

Hi Everyone

Just to let you know that Grandmother Bee and I have been musing on the new blog and are brainstorming some fun creative  ideas. We’re birthing something totally new–and very exciting! Stay tuned for the upcoming details about Letters from Grandmother Bee to be launched in late January. You won’t want to miss it!

In the meantime I wanted to share some other exciting news with you. My mentor and painting teacher Shiloh Sophia Mc Cloud has generously decided to make her painting techniques and instruction available to everyone! She just released her Painting as a Sacred Practice DVD package in which she guides you through her entire painting process from start to finish with plenty of inspiration and visualization mixed in. Find all the details about painting your very own Our Lady of Divine Spark here. I  guarantee this journey will be life-changing in wonderful, magical, and grace-filled ways.

As you know, I’ve often mentioned Shiloh Sophia for her transformative influence on me and my life. If someone had told me 2 years ago that I would now be a painter, I would have said no possible way. Then I took Leading a Legendary Life with Shiloh Sophia online and I learned to paint from watching her videos. I think Internet painting can give Internet dating a run for its money! I couldn’t believe I could learn to paint without someone holding

My most recent painting "She Who Knows"

my hand and showing me in person what to do next. I admit there were times when my hand was shaking as I painted a face or got brave with a bold color but when I was finished I had learned so much about myself and my relationship with my creative muse, I was forever changed. I am now an artist–a painter–and painting has become my connection to my authentic self. You can see some of my paintings from beginning to completion here.

I am blessed to have sold a painting and  have my work displayed in a gallery and online. But the most important thing about Shiloh Sophia’s painting practice for me has been how it centers me and helps me tune into my inner wisdom to  process my life , dreams, and challenges, just by painting.

I enthusiastically invite you to check out Shiloh Sophia’s DVD offer and invest in yourself, your creativity, and your life. My rite of passage in paint has been so much beyond what I could have ever imagined. Who knows where your own rite of passage in paint might lead you?

Until we connect again, I’m sending you warmest wishes for a beautiful Thanksgiving season. Take care.

love,

Marie

"She Who Knows" by Marie Howell

Greetings Beautiful Friends, Colleagues, and Fellow Journey-Travelers!

Even though technology can sometimes be challenging, today I’m grateful for it—it’s allowing me to send each of you a “Just Checking in To Say Hi” note and even include a photo of my just -finished painting who finally revealed her name as “She Who Knows.” This message comes in a baby pink envelope covered in glitter hearts and butterflies drawn with colorful markers. It has a special wildflower stamp and your name written in calligraphy, addressed to your heart from mine.

Since I wrote this blog weekly for a year,  I’m missing our connection—kind of like when we graduated from high school and felt the success  of completion but also the sadness of not hanging out with friends  in our familiar “space” any longer. Of course, there was also the sweet anticipation of  future plans and I’m excited to share with you the hot-off-the-presses details of my upcoming next blog.

Just as life and creativity ever evolve, my new blog continues to blossom and expand.  I’m in love with the new title “Letters from Grandmother Bee.” (I’m actually writing this from Miami where I’m helping out with my brand new granddaughter –my 8th grandchild—so I’m blissfully immersed in the Presence  and Power of new life mingled with grandma energy.  Grandmother Bee will have a profound perspective to share and I’m envisioning and creating the blog’s artwork with a vintage look and feel. The posts will be letters from Grandmother Bee with an “ABC” letter connection intertwined.

I’m certain that bees are enlightened beings because they are showing up everywhere—from the one who landed on my window yesterday (right next to my face!) doing its happy dance just for me to the bee pollen I recently bought at a farmers market that’s making me feel more energized and balanced. Bees can gift us with incredible wisdom and insight and Grandmother Bee is already whispering grace-filled messages for us.

Stay tuned as I’ll continue to update you with the latest and greatest “Letters from Grandmother Bee” details in anticipation of its magical launch in late January. “Letters from Grandmother Bee” will begin on my 60th birthday and will be my present to me and also from me to you.

 Ehow.com states “In the Chinese culture, the 60th birthday is a landmark event and worthy of celebration…The twelve creatures of the zodiac multiplied by the 5 elements equals 60, a most auspicious number. The Chinese consider the age of 60 to be the completion of one life cycle. Those who achieve the age of 60 years begin a new life cycle at that point.” “Letters from Grandmother Bee” will literally birth me into a new life cycle!

I’m also very excited to announce that I recently sold my first painting—and it was literally the first painting I painted–entitled “Awakening Heart.” I’m so happy it’s loved and cherished and I’m officially a professional artist. I’m looking forward to more of my paintings finding their perfect homes as my Rite of Passage in Paint continues to unfold.

 I’m closing this love note with an inspiring excerpt from my favorite new book “Untie the Strong Woman” by Doctor Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Until we connect again, I’m sending  you a fall harvest of blessings, abundance,  and coziness in your life.

“Dreams: Still We Shall Rise” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

If one were to cease dreaming bold dreams,

Then bold actions on earth would also cease.

Wild dreams are the primary fuel

For the engine of Doing.

Wild dreams are the golden fuse

For the life-force of Being.

If it cannot be dreamt,

It cannot be done.

Rise up!

No pre-empting,

Rather, seed everywhere,

The most beautiful,

The most wild dreams

Roared up by the Soul.

Lady Creatress in progress

It’s still over 100 degrees in Phoenix and people in our neighborhood are just starting to put up Halloween and harvest decorations. But for me, it’s time for an end of the year celebration. It won’t feature “Auld Land Syne” or Dick Clark at Times Square but new resolutions, anticipation of the future, and you are among my invited guests.

On October 1, 2010, I made a commitment to document my transition to Artist through a yearlong Rite of Passage in Paint of writing and painting. As I compose my own annual review, there is completion, fulfillment, pride, sadness, and the joyful expectation of what’s next. Rites of passage are associated with transforming from old roles to new and changing identity. Since society’s recognition is a distinguishing characteristic of a true rite of passage, this is a farewell party but not a goodbye.

As I shine the spotlight on my journey of self-discovery, highlights include:

My paintings and sculptural collages are featured at The Work of Artists Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona

My work is available online at Fine Art America under “Marie Howell Gallery

My sculptural meditation environment “Faces of Grace” is on display at Shadow Rock UCC Church and I was interviewed as the sermon for a Sunday morning service!

I’ve led 3 Women’s Creativity Circles

I’ve written 52 blogs, with almost 5600 views, over 100 comments, and almost 50 weekly subscribers

I’ve officially retired from Public Education (excluding some occasional subbing to keep me in paint and rhinestone embellishments)

I’ve completed several Cosmic Cowgirls University courses including Blooming Artists, The Sheroe’s Journey, Black Madonna, and Her Evolution, am currently immersed in a 9 month Color of Woman training, and continue to receive artist/entrepreneur coaching and mentoring with Shiloh Sophia Mc Cloud

I’ve been interviewed by Elizabeth Gibbons and Donniece Smith for their wonderful blogs

I’m learning to be a (still adjusting) long-distance Nana since my son and his family moved away( Skype is a godsend!), I’ve welcomed a brand new granddaughter, my daughter got married and brought new people to love into our family, and I’ve broken my foot!

These are the vivid benchmarks. And I realize that, although I’m a year older, I’m not only wiser—I’m more Me. It’s become second nature to introduce myself and identify as Artist: it’s in my bones now. Painting, writing, and creating is what I do because it’s who I am. The face of the painting I’m currently working on (tentatively entitled “ Lady Creatress”) is an outward representation of my inward changes. Her green face adorned with leaves is an artistic “stretch” that symbolizes new life and growth. Her wild red hair is my reminder to risk and be more free. Her crown of leaves connects me to nature which I’ve discovered is a powerful teacher for me.

Naturally, when one door closes, another opens. I am SO very excited to share that, beginning this fall, I will be launching a brand new blog entitled The Queen Bee Chronicles. It will be a women’s fairy tale with the over-arching theme of living a life of sacred creativity, presented in a fun and entertaining format with a moral of the story thrown in for good measure. Rumor has it that some of my paintings may even show up as guest characters! I’m thrilled about this new work as the concept s and emerging details feel like inspired messages my soul is meant to share. (If you are a current subscriber, you will be automatically transitioned to the new blog site. If you wish to be included in this upcoming adventure, subscribe to this blog today or stay tuned for the juicy details to come!)

Another holiday celebration that feels appropriate, although early, is Thanksgiving. I very gratefully acknowledge the love and support of my husband Sam who helped me with the technology side of things and appeased my inner perfectionist as he patiently listened to my posts before I clicked “publish.”

Shiloh Sophia Mc Cloud was the catalyst for this work, blog, and life-change. She suggested, supported, brainstormed, challenged, sympathized, congratulated, nurtured, comforted, celebrated, listened, guided, and more. I wouldn’t be writing this today if it weren’t for her.

Mary McDonald is the first person to call me a Writer. She even mentioned anticipating a future book from me (which may just be called The Queen Bee Chronicles!) Mary‘s encouraging reminders to keep writing gave me the courage and tenacity to put myself “out there” with words.

Family and friends loved me through the ups and downs of weekly writings and sharing my unfinished and evolving paintings as they morphed from backgrounds into art.

And, most importantly, there is You. I am deeply and profoundly grateful that you have read, commented on, subscribed to, and shared this work of my heart. Without the gift of knowing you were there, I may have been tempted to skip a week or settle for less than my best.

I am reminded of a graduation day: looking back, looking foreward, tears and joy intertwined with goodbyes and fresh starts. I can’t wait to connect with you again soon in The Queen Bee Chronicles and send my heartfelt blessings, gratitude, and love to you as my rite of passage in paint is now complete.

Our newest addition

It takes some courage for me to admit that I bought myself a teddy bear last week. My immediate reaction is to add: “How crazy is that?” but then I know the better question is: “How cool is that?”

When I’ve been out shopping lately I’ve been drawn like a magnet to cute and cuddly pandas, frogs, ladybugs, anything with fur and an adoring look. I’ve wanted to test out their snuggliness but felt embarrassed since none of my grandkids need or want a stuffed animal. So I’ve sighed and walked away, looking back at their cute little creature faces, not able to justify spending money on something so frivolous when there are so many more important demands on my hard-earned paycheck. Or are there?
Sure, on the surface, it makes no sense at all. I have a wonderful husband who hugs me all the time. I have several precious grandchildren who often jump into my arms when I come to visit. I have adorable lap dogs who are always thrilled to see me.

But sometimes, all of those sources of touch-comfort are unavailable. And I might be feeling scared, lonely, or just in need of the nurturing I remember from my stuffed tiger or yellow dog Max that I loved as a little girl.

I recently realized the core issue in all of this came down to how I felt about my own value. If one of the kids wanted a teddy, I’d have been on it immediately. But for those many weeks I denied myself something that didn’t cost much and was easy to find because I rationalized it was silly and not important. Last week the light bulb finally lit and I realized it was important because I’m important and my wants and needs are important.

Now I’m on a roll. Last night I went to bed before 8:30, something I haven’t done in years even when I’ve been sick. I wanted and needed to rest and, totally out of character, I honored that.

I have to admit, even after almost 2 years of being committed to painting, I sometimes still feel guilty when I go to my studio instead of the kitchen that needs cleaning. In that case, “How crazy is that?” is quite appropriate since creating my art is what feeds my soul. It doesn’t get any more valuable or important than that.

This week I invite you to tune in to your value as a lens through which you honor your needs and wants. We are not of value because of what we accomplish. We don’t have to earn our value. We are inherently women of exquisite value just because we are who we are. Our value is always intact no matter what. Most of us under appreciate who we are but our job is to hold our value at higher and higher levels by our choices, thoughts, and what we do. Once we acknowledge and live from our value, others see and respond to us as reflections of what we believe about ourselves so everybody wins.

My new mantra is “I am a women, artist, writer, and teacher of exceptional value.” Maybe that explains the teddy bear purchase after denying

An important accessory for a queen...

myself one for so long. I’m choosing to see myself as the queen rather than the chambermaid. If the queen wanted a stuffed animal, you can be sure it would happen.

I hope you accept the challenge to commit to your value, even if you don’t believe it at first. And if you’ve been eyeing a treasure that is dear to

your heart, treat yourself. Whatever activity or lack of activity nourishes your soul, do it.

“We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.” Joseph Campbell

(As a postscript, I wanted to share that my year of a rite of passage in paint is almost complete. Next week will be the culminating post to this blog series. However, I am super excited to also share that a brand new blog with a brand new theme that continues to support women and their creative sacred lives will be launched soon. Stay tuned for the upcoming juicy details of what’s to come. I promise you won’t be disappointed!)