Center of Balance

   What a strange and surreal feeling. It is almost that time again – time for me to have another joint replacement surgery. I have a little less than 5 weeks before I go into the hospital for a total knee replacement surgery on my right knee. I have had this kind of replacement before on my left knee so I am aware of what lies ahead for me. It was 25 years ago and has been a highly successful joint replacement that gave me my mobility back. Now my right knee is ready for replacement and I find myself with mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I am in so much pain that I feel ready to get the new knee put in so I can start to feel and walk better. On the other hand, I dread going back to that post-surgical place of prolonged intense pain and dependence on people and pain meds to help me as I heal from the surgery. I call this the dark place because it is like I fall into this deep dark pit when I have a joint replacement surgery. From the moment I wake up in the recovery room at the hospital, I start my climb out of that dark place. My goal is to get back to the light of my daily life.

Those first days after the surgery are the most difficult. I feel like each little step I make to climb up, is followed by a slide back down to the ground of that pit. I look for any hint of improvement each day to motivate me to keep pushing through the rehabilitation. Is the pain a little less? Can I bend my knee more today? Is it easier to walk? Can I put on my own shoes? Can I get to the bathroom on my own? It is the little things that we all take for granted that mean the most when you are recovering from a major surgery. Nothing feels better than getting your hair washed when you are on a sponge-bath only restriction!

Eventually, I start to feel sustainable progress being made in my physical therapy. I am climbing out of that dark pit and feeling stronger. I go from feeling frail to feeling my inner (mental) strength and my outer (physical) strength building. There are little setbacks and frustrations here, but no more sliding back to the ground. I am gaining more independence and more stamina. I focus my energy on healing and stay dedicated to my physical therapy, even when it hurts. It is hard work to rehab from a knee replacement. You get the best long-term outcome when you grit your teeth and do the hard work every day. I did it once before and I can do it again.

It will take me about 6 weeks to climb out of that pit and then another 6 months to feel really strong again. My hope is that my surgeon will be able to make my leg straight again with this knee replacement. I would love to walk with two straight legs for the rest of my life. That is what I visualize every day now.

Over the next few weeks, I will begin ‘nesting’  – getting my home ready to make it easy on me as I recover AND building my inner fortitude to tackle this recovery head on. This is the time I need to tap into my inner strength. I painted this particular mandala on my 42nd birthday and the question I had asked was: “where does my inner strength come from?” The yin yang is at the center of my mandala, showing a balance of energies at my core. My strength comes from this balance of energies. Even if everything is chaotic and swirling around me, I can tap into those energies at my core. I can tap into the silence at my core. As I make my way through my healing journey I can always tap into that strength at my core. I am rooted in this strength. It has been with me since I was a child.

Where does your inner strength come from? Remember to tap into it when things seem out of balance in your life.


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Happy Heart’s Day

Love, love, love. According to a great Beatles song, “all you need is love”. I love listening to their songs about the very groovy kind of love that existed in the 1960’s. Tonight, I send out this Valentine to anyone and everyone that needs some love. The internet opens a pathway that allows little ol’ me to reach out and connect with others near and far. If you’ve ever suffered a broken heart and dread Valentine’s Day, you are not alone. I wrote this poem after losing a deep love and thought I would share it because it may speak to your heart:

Ode to Lost Loves

He was a dream that suddenly disappeared.
The dream started as quickly as it ended.
I floated on a cloud to a place
where everything was magical:
the sunsets,
the moon,
art museums,
park benches,
endless conversations.

My soul had met its match,
or so I had thought.
It was heaven on earth
until it slipped away.
I was blind to the truth,
but the truth cannot be denied.

It all changed and I was left alone.
Alone to ponder what had happened.
Alone to pick up the million slivers of my heart
and try to reassemble them.
Alone to imagine a life, other than the dream.

How could such a dream disappear?
Where did it go?
Maybe it becomes the seed for the next dream.
Maybe this is all a dream –
every minute of every day.
Maybe I have never been alone…..

In today’s world, there seems to be so many conditions attached to love. It can be challenging to open your heart to another and risk rejection. We can feel isolated in our lives as we protect our hearts. I am very adept at keeping my heart protected by walls of armor. I painted this Valentine’s mandala to portray some of the layers of protection expanding and loosening their grip. There is some white space appearing between the layers. One day those walls will open and another heart can come in. Until then, I send this out into the ether. I send my love to all the souls out there who need to feel a splash of love. You are not alone. We are all connected. We are all worthy of a grand love.


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Over the Rainbow

A couple nights ago, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was on television. This childhood classic is one of my favorites to watch again and again. I never get tired of this epic adventure through a land of fantasy. Watching it again reminded me of a mandala I created several years ago. For this mandala, I had asked the question, “where can my healing take me?” This mandala makes me smile every time I see it.  The message was so clearly that my healing can take me “over the rainbow”.

My mandala is full of not just one colorful rainbow, but four of them!  They are joined by a dainty lace-like trim.  In the center, there is a blossoming flower surrounded by hearts and another flower.  Symbolically, rainbow colors are related to wholeness.  When they all come together, they bring beauty to all who spot them in the sky.

I took this mandala to mean that there is no limit to the healing we can experience.  When Dorothy and her pals made their trek to the Emerald City to see the Wizard, they were all in search of something they thought they needed or lacked.  To their surprise, they each found out that they had everything they needed within all along.  Scarecrow did have smarts; Tin Man did have a heart; Cowardly Lion did have courage; and Dorothy already had the power to return home. Their power was deep within each one of them all along.  It was simply a matter of believing in themselves and invoking their own power.

How often, when we face a problem or challenge, do we doubt our abilities to handle the challenge? How often do we feel we are lacking something that everyone else seems to have? I think the human condition set us up to feel this sense of lack. Our ego speaks to us all the time. It is the voice that likes to keep us feeling separate and small. I laugh every time the scene comes on where Toto reveals the man pulling the levers behind the curtain and this small man says, “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” This reminds me of our ego, pulling the levers and strings, making itself into the ever powerful and knowledgeable master in our lives. But, the truth is, our inner spiritual wisdom knows this is false. The man behind the curtain is simply pretending to be more powerful than he really is.

In my life, I have been on a healing quest for more than 20 years now. The first 20 years of living with chronic Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis was all about survival – just getting through each medical crisis and trying to live day-to-day life and go to school. After graduating from college and starting my career, I had to face the challenge of living independently and I welcomed that challenge. I had to erase the messages that I was weak and incapable of truly being independent. Over the years of my life, I accumulated a lot of physical scars and emotional scars. My healing quest has been all about appreciating my body’s ability to heal from each surgery, each fall, each set-back, and each JRA flare. On the emotional side, I struggled more with the healing of the emotional scars from feeling so different from other people and feeling misunderstood throughout my life. I was so happy when I discovered the mandala art form. It opened up this whole new way for me to work on healing those emotional scars. I feel like Dorothy discovering she had the power all along to return home. I have the power and intuition inside me to heal and become more and more whole.

I truly believe that whatever it is we need to heal from, we all have the power within to complete that healing. So please take a journey down the yellow brick road and join me in claiming our power!


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Hidden Away

Back in 2006, when I sat down to create this mandala, I asked myself the question: “why do I keep myself hidden away?” This is a key question for me. By nature, I am highly introverted. This does not mean that I am anti-social. It simply means that I need time and space to be alone to recharge my inner batteries / energy. Being in groups of people drains my energy. When it comes right down to it, the person I feel most comfortable with is ME. Other people drain my energy, so I tend to spend a lot of time alone. This is a choice I make.

When you add on top of that innate desire to be in solitude, the fact that I have a crippling disease that causes strong feelings of pain and isolation, you have a killer combination that results in the intense desire to hide myself away. After 40+ years of living with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and all the joint damage that comes along with that disease, I battle thoughts that I don’t fit in with others and that I can’t keep up with others. Sometimes I feel like I am a burden and other times I feel like no one understands what this life is like. I feel trapped in a body that does not move that way other healthy bodies move. I have crooked joints and less physical strength than most people. My young nieces and nephew are far physically stronger than me at this point.

And to throw another fun complication into the mix, as I wrote about in my blog from August entitled ‘To Cry or Not to Cry’, I hate to cry or express the sadness I feel about my illness and how much pain I experience. When you mix all of those things together, the imagery of this mandala makes perfect sense. The center of the mandala is made up of tear drops. They are the profound sadness I feel at my core. They are surrounded by four layers of walls to keep them buried and to keep others out. Then those walls are surrounded my even more reinforcements. Talk about Fort Knox! Nothing is getting in or out. I hide myself away on so many levels: the physical, the mental, and the emotional.

Last week, I had an epiphany that ties into this mandala on an even deeper level. During a holistic therapy session, which is known as Body Talk, my practitioner was able to see information about one of my past lives. Now, I know many people may not believe in past lives. I respect each person’s views on this topic. My personal view is that I do believe in past lives. I believe in the spiritual evolution of the soul, where souls come back to earthly life over and over again to learn lessons and evolve. I believe that things that happen in one life can have a carry-over effect in that soul’s subsequent lives.

The particular past life that was revealed to us, was a pivotal one for my soul. In that life, my soul was a young woman in the 1800’s. She was full of life and had an idyllic life: nearly perfect on many levels with love, family, friends, wealth, and great happiness. She had every opportunity open to her and a bright future. In her early 20’s however, she became gravely ill with a disease that was incurable. Back in those days, the terminally ill were shuttered away. This young woman was literally shut away into a dark room to suffer in solitude until she died. She was devastated to lose all the good and promise her life had held. She felt profound sadness, grief, and agony at how life was snatched away so quickly. She died young and my soul made a decision at that time that it will never, EVER be that happy and fulfilled again. It will do whatever is necessary to never feel that profound loss and sadness again. If it is never that happy again, then it can never feel the deep loss and devastation. This ingrained belief got carried into subsequent lives. It is with me in my life today.

I came into this life and within 6 months of my birth I was showing symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. That is a very early age of onset for this disease. I’ve always felt that my soul chose the challenge of this disease. I couldn’t really describe that feeling as a child, but as I got older and more spiritually aware that sense grew stronger. What better disease to ensure that I would be locked away into a sick body than rheumatoid arthritis?! I’m not locked away in a dark room anymore, but my soul is locked into this body that limits my abilities. That past life resonated so strongly with my current life. In my mind, things suddenly clicked into place and I recognized that I continue to choose to keep myself hidden away. I play it safe and don’t take risks. I keep myself surrounded by walls. Well, I don’t want to choose that any more. I want to break out of those walls. My first step was to write this blog. I was afraid that people would think I am a freak by writing about past lives. I was afraid to put this intensely personal story out there to be critiqued or judged. But I am going to stand in my truth and say, “No more fear.” I choose to be free and fulfilled! I choose to open up and believe I deserve to be deliriously happy and live fully!

What part of yourselves do you keep hidden away? What can you choose each day to open up your lives?


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Strength of Spirit

Last summer I painted this mandala that was inspired by all of my friends who suffer from chronic, debilitating auto-immune diseases. I have severe Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and have met many, many amazing people in my journey with this illness. They face debilitating pain, limited mobility, malformed joints, severe fatigue, and rampant inflammation & stiffness — all of which makes performing basic daily functions very difficult. Yet, they do it with the strength of spirit that keeps them fighting back against this disease, day in & day out. The fighting spirit these folks demonstrate every day in getting up and doing what needs to be done, even when their bodies won’t move, really inspires me. Their strength of spirit is gigantic!

A group of my amazing friends with arthritis are heading to Washington DC to talk to legislators as patient advocates for the American College of Rheumatology. They are going to share their personal stories of how rheumatoid arthritis and other severe auto-immune diseases impacts their daily life, their financial life, their work life, and their long-term health. Their stories are my story. They speak for so many of us who struggle to button our jeans or hold the bar of soap or turn the ignition keys on our cars or lift our arms to comb our hair. They speak for those of us who witness our joints deteriorate and twist into zig-zag shapes called z-deformities. They speak of how this disease is the number one cause for long-term disability and how many of us who want to work can no longer work due to the joint damage and pain and fatigue. They speak of the immense difficulty in getting health insurance for medical coverage and how far too many people have to file medical bankruptcy due to the overwhelming costs of treating these auto-immune diseases. They speak of the damage caused by the side-effects of the powerful immune-modifying medications used to treat these diseases. They speak of the progressively debilitating nature of auto-immune diseases and how researchers still don’t know what causes the immune system to go haywire, and therefore, there is no cure for the millions of people who suffer greatly at the hand of these diseases.

This mandala is dedicated to all those people who speak loudly against or live quietly with auto-immune diseases. Every single one of them fight the daily fight with grace and grit. Every single one of them has the incredible strength of spirit that pushes them forward, even if they can’t get out of bed one day. They will get out of bed the next day or the next day. They will get up for the next battle.

When I painted this mandala, it revealed itself to me slowly. I first saw this nice, soft wash of color so I wet the watercolor paper and let all the colors blend into each other.  Then I painted the center with the swirl lines bursting out from the center. Next came the lines that split the mandala into eight slices. The most difficult part of this mandala was painting the Japanese Kanji symbols for strength (looks like an open box) and spirit (looks like a cross). I had to practice over and over again on another sheet of paper before I felt comfortable that I could paint each symbol correctly on the mandala. But, just like dealing with a challenge with my rheumatoid arthritis, I kept working at it until I was able to paint those beautiful and meaningful symbols with my crooked arthritic fingers. Now, this is one of my most special mandalas because it means so much to me. It is a pleasure to share it with you all.

I wish the best of luck to all my friends in their journey to Washington DC. May the legislators listen to you with open minds and open hearts!!


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In My Mind’s Eye

Not that I am counting, but it has been 4 weeks since my humble little home was broken into and things are slowly getting back to ‘normal’.  The intensity of the trauma on that day got locked into my body, as well as, into my mind.  For the next several days after the break-in, I felt like I had been in a car accident where my body tensed up to brace for the impact.  In the heat of trying to hide from him and then trying to run to escape, my body tensed up and my jaw clenched, just as the flood of adrenaline rushed through my trembling body.  The end result was my body ached all over: my jaw was so sore, I had to move to a soft food diet for a couple days; my neck, back and shoulders were sore and tightly locked up; and finally, I had a terrible headache that went on for days.

My mission for the next few weeks was to seek help from my natural health healing team. I visited my chiropractor and my massage therapist to get work done on loosening up my body.  Those treatments gave me some physical relief and day-by-day, I felt the tightness loosen its strangle-hold on me.  The most amazing treatment came from my acupuncturist. I had sent her an email ahead of my appointment to let her know what had happened to me and that I needed some serious anti-anxiety and anti-trauma points for the needles. From all of my years of receiving acupuncture treatments, I knew that there are great points for stress-relief and great points for physical healing and pain relief.  Once I was on her table the day of my appointment, she told me that she has very specific treatment points for severe trauma.  In fact, she has traveled the world to Thailand, Burma and Africa to provide acupuncture treatments for people who have endured extreme mental, emotional and physical trauma.  She placed many needles in both of my ears and it felt very strange.  She believes very strongly that these points help the body release the trauma that is trapped in the body and has seen it ease the suffering of those folks she treated abroad.  I must admit, I was skeptical that these needles in my ears could allow all that terror and trauma to flow right out of me – like a balloon releasing all its air.  I am, however, very open to try new things for healing so I set my intention to relax into whatever healing came my way.

As I lay there on the table with my eyes closed, I ‘saw’ these vibrant flashes of color.  Each color faded into the next burst of color – from yellow to green to red to blue and back to yellow again.  I ‘saw’ intricate designs in black with the colors bursting from behind the designs to create gorgeous images that were constantly evolving.  The black designs were like ornate filigree.  Now, I don’t know about you, but whenever I close my eyes I always just see black / darkness.  It was a treat to see these new bursts of colors and designs in my mind’s eye.  I have had two trauma treatments from my acupuncturist now, and both times I ‘saw’ these incredible colors and ever-changing design images with my eyes closed. Both treatments have helped me tremendously.  After the first trauma treatment, I felt like the negative charge of the break-in had left my body.  I could talk about it without the stress of re-living it coming up.  It was almost like I was able to tell the story of it like it happened to someone in a movie.  After the second trauma treatment, I felt like the lingering fear I have experienced has diminished.  I clearly still have more work to do in coping with this incident, but I feel so much more stable and less vulnerable and I truly believe that these acupuncture treatments have successfully allowed my body and mind to release the horrific trauma of that day.  To that I say, “Thank you for leaving my body.”

The mandala I painted is a small interpretation of those beautiful colors and images I ‘saw’ during the two trauma treatments.  Instead of black designs, I used blue to create my simple filigree.  I had planned to use black, but then when I got my paints out, my hand went to the blue instead.  I always follow what color my hands are drawn to since my inner wisdom knows what it needs to express.  Blue suggests calmness, serenity and peace.  I also noticed the symbol of a cross on this mandala.  The cross is reminiscent of the form of the human body, standing in perfect balance, with feet together and arms outstretched.  I am grounded in the earth and open as I release the trauma and invite healthy, new things into my life.  Although this may be a stretch, I do see a very rudimentary web in this mandala, along with what looks like spiders.  The web is an archetypal symbol of the weaving that brings form into being.   This is an indication that I may be laying the foundation for a new cycle of growth.  To that I say, “YES!”

In my mind’s eye I do see a path toward healing from the trauma I experienced.  I hope that in your mind’s eye you do see a path for healing from what wounds you have suffered in your life.  Healing is our right and our bodies naturally want to return to a healthy state.

For more information on my amazing acupuncturist, you can check out her beautiful website where she writes about her work.


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To Cry or Not to Cry….

Last week I went through an extremely terrifying experience – my home was broken into while I was in my kitchen.  A man, who lives about 6 doors down from me, was trying to escape from the police.  He saw an opening to get away and it led him to my back door.  My home was in the way of him getting from point A to point B in his escape plan.  He kept throwing himself against my back door, working harder and harder to bust through.  At first, I hid behind a wall in my kitchen so he could not see me.  I didn’t know if he had a weapon or wanted to take a hostage.  All I knew was I was in danger and my adrenaline went through the roof.  Then I realized he was not going to stop until he got in.  I ran for the front door and got my inner door open, then reached to unlock the security door.  He got to my front door at that very second and we were standing shoulder to shoulder.  He yelled over and over again to open the door as he tried turning the door-knob.  I told him to just turn the lock.  The next thing I heard was a loud shot and he went down onto my floor, screaming in pain.  The police had come through my back door and shot him with a tazer gun.  The good news is he is in jail now; the bad news is that I feel like a switch inside me has been flipped and now I am deeply afraid and unsettled.

This is THE most terrifying experience of my life and I am shaken to my core.  As a single, disabled woman who lives alone, I have never felt so vulnerable as when I saw this man doing his best to break into my home, my sanctuary from the world.  I am not physically strong and most people could knock me down with a light push.  I was horrified at the thought of how easily this man could hurt me.  So many thoughts rushed into my head in that moment that I could not think clearly.  The adrenaline was pumping and when this was happening it was a surreal mix of everything happening so fast and yet feeling like things are going in slow motion.

Now, I am left with the aftermath of feeling so thankful that he did not touch me or try to harm me physically, yet feeling such emotional distress over the terror and trauma that I felt during the experience.  I have trouble sleeping at night.  I can’t focus my thoughts or make decisions, even about the simplest things like what to have for breakfast.  I have fear that he or his cohorts will come back.  I am angry that he flipped this switch inside me and I want things to go back to the way they were before he so rudely disrupted my life.

At tough times like this, one of my ways of coping is to paint a mandala.  The mandala process allows me to get quiet with myself and gain some insight.  I sat down the other day and meditated on the question: “how do I release the fear and trauma from the break-in?” During my meditation, I saw a very clear picture of tears falling on hearts that were wrapped in blankets.  My first reaction to that image was that it was so sweet and comforting.  My second reaction was “oh no, does that mean I have to cry?”  I hate crying, especially over anything to do with me or my pain.  I have an aversion to crying.  I know that sounds unhealthy and, most likely, it is unhealthy.  It’s like that movie with Tom Hanks, who plays the drunk baseball coach who is coaching the women’s baseball team.  He comes down hard on one of the women when she misses a ball and she starts to cry.  He says to her “Are you crying?  There’s no crying in baseball.  There’s no crying in baseball!” That’s how I feel: there’s no crying over pain in my life.  I can cry over pain in other people or pain in the world, but not over myself.  I envy people who can cry so easily over the pain in their own life.  What a relief for them to get out all that emotion.

Somewhere deep inside me I feel that if I start crying over the pain in my life, I will never stop.  I’ve buried so much sadness and loss and anger through 40+ years of living with severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, that I fear the tears will never stop flowing once the floodgates open.  This happened one time when a lot of emotion came up at an arthritis conference and I literally could not stop crying.  I hated that feeling of loss of control.

Yet, the message of the mandala is clear.  The fastest way to release the trauma and fear that got locked into my mind and body that day is to cry – to let the tears flow.  They will cleanse, purify and release the intense emotion of that day.  The other message of the mandala is that I need to create a safe, loving environment in which to let the tears flow. The hearts are wrapped / snuggled in blankets, which represent security and comfort. Hearts in a mandala speak of love, courage, and sorrow so I can see where I need gather the courage to feel my sorrow and love myself for the act of crying and releasing all that needs to be released.  To cry or not to cry is the question I must answer.  I guess I better get a large box of Kleenex for the day I let all the tears flow.


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The Inner Child

When I first started creating this website, I was talking to my little niece about the Moonlight Mandalas name and showing her my moon paintings.  She immediately wanted to paint a moon mandala for the site.  She chose to follow the similar pattern of her favorite mandala of mine, called Ocean of Love.  It is a scene of the sun setting over the ocean, with hearts as the colorful sky glowing in shades of orange.  She made her moon rising over the ocean – the sky is dark and the moon is bright.  The water looks calm in comparison to my wavy waters.  I’ve certainly lived through more waves in my life and my mandala reflects that. She is only 8 years old so her life is yet to hit any major waves.

I love the contrast of these two mandalas.  They are day and night; light and dark; sun and moon.  We see these things as polar opposites.  The mandalas are also very similar in that they are both simple and colorful.  They illustrate very well that creating a mandala does not require a strong artistic skill.   Simple lines and simple color combinations can create some beautiful mandalas.  When I first started creating mandalas, I felt compelled to fill every blank space in the circle.  By the time I created the Ocean of Love mandala, I had learned it was OK to leave blank space.  It is nice to not fill up every inch.  It leaves an opening for new things to come into the space and your life.

I’ve always been told that my mandala paintings evoke a child-like innocence.  I truly believe that creating a mandala can help us tap into that inner child in all of us.  Our inner children love to play and color.  My inner child, I call her ‘little Wendy’, absolutely loves to come out to color.  When I go too long without sitting down to paint a mandala, I start to feel little Wendy tapping me or pulling on my shirt or calling out “can we please play and paint today?”  She knows the importance of play and creative self-expression.  I’ll bet your inner child likes to come out and play, too.

Thinking about my inner child reminds me of a photo I found in my grandmother’s stack of photos.  She was a Polaroid fanatic back in the 1960’s and ’70’s when I was a child.  She took hundreds of photos and stored them in envelopes and boxes and bags throughout her house. They were kept in no chronological order, just piles here and there and everywhere. My cousins, siblings, and I used to love to look through them.

When I found this particular photo, I did not recognize the little girl so I asked my mom who she was.  She told me that little girl was me.  I could not believe it!  I did not ever remember looking that cute and innocent and healthy.  I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) when I was only 18 months old so I’ve all I’ve ever known was being sick with this illness.  I was so sick as a child that I honestly think I have blocked out portions of my childhood.  I did not even recognize myself in this photo.  Something about the look on her little face really made me wonder what she was thinking in that moment back in 1969. Or I should say, what I was thinking in that moment.  I would love to know what it was!

Today, when I think of my inner child, little Wendy, this is the face I see.  This is the sweet girl I invite to come and paint/color with me. She smiles when we paint and create together.  What does your inner child look like?  What is he or she longing to do with you?


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World Without Judgment

Dancing Flowers What would a world without judgment look like?  That is the question I asked myself before creating this mandala several years ago.  This has always been one of my favorite mandalas and with all that is going on in the world, I felt it was a good time to revisit the message of this mandala.  It seems like every day, I hear a lot of people tearing other people down, judging them based on religion, disability, race, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc. Our country feels more and more fragmented, with group pitted against group.

Then there is the epidemic of people judging themselves so harshly.  We think and feel we are fundamentally flawed, broken, unworthy, and just not measuring up to where we ‘should’ be.  I fight these feelings all the time as someone who lives with a debilitating form of rheumatoid arthritis.  I am my own worst critic and can be so hard on myself – much harder than I am on anyone else.  I’m sure we all would admit that we tend to judge ourselves more harshly than we judge others.  So what can we do about all this judgment floating around out there?  Let’s delve into this mandala and see one possible answer to the question ‘what would a world without judgment look like?’

During my meditation, I saw these lovely dancing flowers. The mandala shows how we would all be full of love and dancing in joy.  Without the weight of judgment, think of how much lighter and freer we would be.  These heart-flowers seem to be literally dancing across the paper.  Also, our roots would run deep and we would all be connected.   We would grow together and float/dance in our happiness and love.  Our layers would be rich and nurturing and grounded in the earth.  They would offer great support, but not be overly binding.  What is below the surface would be just as important as what is above the surface.  This particular point is so crucial in a society focused on the material – we are human beings full of depth and complexity.  What you see when looking at a person’s body is just the surface stuff.  Look deeper and you will see someone with the same dreams and fears.

As a person with a body damaged by decades of rheumatoid arthritis joint destruction, I certainly don’t fit the standard of beauty in our society.  But look deeper, look into my eyes, look at the art I create and allow yourself to see the beauty.  Release your judgment.  I will look at you and do the same.  What if everyone did that with multiple people every day?

This represents exactly how I would picture a world without judgment.  How would you picture it?


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Inspiration for Moonlight Mandalas

Crop Moon final Nearly 15 years ago, my view of art was blown wide open when I learned of the ancient art form known as the Mandala.  The word Mandala is from the ancient Sanskrit language and means circle.  In the summer of 1996, I attended an informal art class called ‘Art from the Heart’.  I was drawn to that sweet name because who couldn’t use more art from the heart in this world we live in?  The class was led by a petite, 84-year-old British woman, whom I immediately adored.  She taught us about the ancient Mandala and how it has been used for centuries as a tool for meditation and insight.  She had us draw a large circle on our paper and all of our painting / drawing that night was to be done inside the circle.  I loved the structure of that!  I loved that I could simply trace a circle on the blank paper.  It took all the pressure off by making that first mark on the paper and not having to stare at a blank page wondering what was to be drawn next.  That first mark was done and now all I had to do was let the color flow into that circle.

After that first night in class, I was hooked!!  I loved painting Mandalas!  I found them soothing and healing to create.  I got very insightful messages from my Mandalas and they came into my life at a time when I was going to need that creative expression outlet to work through some difficult emotional times.  I can honestly say that Mandalas changed my life and gave me a tool for spiritual and emotional healing.

One of my most popular Mandalas is called ‘Moon Glow’ (see above).  I painted it during a trip to the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai during the full moon.  I’ve never seen such a bright moon before.  Its light reflected and bounced off the ocean water, making the moon even brighter.  The sky just lit up and everything seemed to have this magical glow.

The moon itself is a perfect Mandala.  It is thought to have mythical and transformative powers in many legends.  The moon and the ocean tides are closely linked in their harmonious dance throughout each month.  There is balance and flow to the waves as the ocean is influenced by the powerful moon.  The moon moves through its cycles from New moon to Full moon, from darkness to light, over and over again throughout time.

In all my years of creating Mandalas, I have found that they have the power to help us bring to light those buried aspects of ourselves.  Just as the light of the moon breaks through the darkness of night, Mandalas shine a light on areas of our life or psyche that we keep hidden in the dark.  It is only by bringing those aspects of ourselves out of the darkness and into the light that we become more whole.  My hope is that this blog helps show people the power of the Mandala and how it can help one on his or her journey of healing to become more whole and live more joyfully and authentically.


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