Sunday, April 5, 2020

Dig Deep, Look Back

Gold leaf, dye and acrylic on unprimed canvas, 48"x48"

In every stepwell, lies a ledge
Where man and angels fear to tread
Yet all who dive and drink therein
Find living water stored within.

From a nearby thorny hedge
Falls the feathered fragile fledge
Sinking neath the silvery sedge
Without bower, without kedge
Left to drown among the dredge.

Withered soul, she walks the edge
Mouth dry, heart burst and bled
“Dig deep, look back", stepping farther in
Transfixed yet parched, brave diver dives again.

Of depths and heights, I here do pledge
Despite great fear and lonesome dread
May I choose love, yet again
 both bird and diver are akin.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Holy Calling ACFC

A raw canvas painting I started last weekend. (First time in the studio this year.)
Remember when I moved to ACFC three years ago? Well, now we (Cody and I) own the place.

It's true. It has been 30 days since we bought it. 1/1/2020. Perfect vision.

I never would have predicted this. Some days it feels pretty unreal. The next day it feels so believable my heart could burst. (Hello, 11 employees.) I am creating daily in the business and metaphysical sense.

And so, it seems my priorities continue to shift away from needing to create in 3d(or write) and to  wanting to create in 3d (or write). I used to need art/writing to heal. Now, it's how I affirm/grow...and re-gift such ideas to the universe. I am sure it will be important for me to create art/write from this new space. Eventually I will purposefully plan time for art/writing. For now, I have a few extra things to do which I am prioritizing first....

PS. I think I'll still get to my Valentines this year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Winter Solstice

I believe in the low light of winter
the purpose of darkness within
and yet like a cat to the window
I long for the sunshine again

Monday, September 2, 2019

My Container

I drew this several years ago. I just feel like sharing it today. As with my sketchbook, I go through times when I want my blog to be public and when I want it to be private. I feel like blogging publicly again. So, here I am. Blogging again.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

2019 Valentines

Dear Valentines, What is LOVE teaching you this February 14, 2019? Love is teaching me again, too.

My grandmother (“Gram-gram”) has been my FRIEND since birth. Over my early years she played countless games of Winnie-the-Pooh with me. You can imagine how THIS visual and tactile child LOVED drawing COLORFUL plastic disks from the yellow drawstring bag. I NEVER wanted the black disks, and if I ever drew one, Grandma would let me draw again (unless my brother was playing...then we HAD to follow the rules). Perhaps she was being nice, but she might have also wanted the game to end sooner, haha. The game we actually played together was “lost” in one of her moves, so I recently bought myself a replacement on EBay. 

The morning Grandpa passed (2 weeks ago) I knew I was supposed to go tell my grandma good morning. It is definitely not usual for me to run up to Newton on a Monday morning. As I set my alarm the night before, I told myself I could always hit snooze and go up at lunch, or after work. Nope. My body woke me before my alarm. I just knew I had to go to Newton before work. Beyond saying good morning to grandma, I never once thought about why that task would be so important.

So, I drove up to Newton to say good morning before I was supposed to start clinic at 9:30 am. I got to the nursing home at about 8:15 am and I prayed with them & their dear friend, kissed my sleeping grandfather one more time, & asked Grandma’s permission to take a photo of her holding Papa’s hand. I took the photo & noticed Grandma’s watchES.

We sat bedside to Papa, looking at & talking about their watches. She was now wearing his, too. Is that a Movado?! Then at around 8:40 (remember we were looking closely at their watches so the time really stuck) my grandfather very subtly stopped breathing regularly. I said to her “Grandma, I think Papa is not breathing anymore.“ He breathed a few more times and then he was gone. 

I have never been present at anyone’s death before. Years ago I read a German book about color and in it Johannes Itten piqued my curiosity when he said, "When the individual dies, he blanches. His face and body lose color as the light of life is extinguished. The dead soulless matter of the corpse is devoid of chromatic emanation." Indeed, I knew by lack of color when Grandpa chose to fully go with God. 

Next to Gen 1:1, 1 John 1:1 has always been the most mysterious verse to me, the artist, because it is true that ALL COLOR exists only in the presence of light! Grandpa’s passing was such a peaceful, “thin veil”, holy moment. He was 92. This was their 72nd year of friendship and LOVE. 

I got a thank you card from Grandma today (thanking me for being there with her in that moment) and she received my Valentine today. On her envelope I wrote, “I hope my Valentine is not too sad for you. It is about us.” 

Yes, the black heart represents mourning (ever try to make a Valentine when you’re mourning?!!), but it’s also a reference to her blackface Movado Museum watch. The hands are fixed just after 8:45. COLOR FULL game pieces surround...even the black pieces are included. The inside sentiment is taken from Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loves at all times.” In sickness and in health, even on an early Monday morning. The grab-bag is playfully “edited” for the way all of these experiences combine to teach/shape me about LOVE as I play the game of life. Winnie-the-Pooh just happens to edit easily to Melanie-the-Pearl. (Remember how pearls are formed?) 

Thank you for letting me share my valentines with you. And thank you for finding LOVE, with me, in sad or even dark places. Love wins. Again. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentines 2018

Another year, another Valentine. Another time to reflect on what LOVE is teaching me.

What do I want you to know about this year's Valentine? In true therapeutic form, I feel like answering the question with another question will help. (Funny thing, on my way to work this morning I was skipping radio channels and I heard two different DJ's say "The question is...".)
Have you ever been grossly misunderstood?

It feels pretty terrible. Justifying my deep love for sparkly beauty and my open mind to symbols is not something I ever thought I would have to do, yet the "opportunity" recently arose.

Initially, there were lots of tears and feelings of isolation. I struggled alone by choice. I knew I would be given the grace needed to handle the situation. (I'm aware the people around me love me very much and do not ever want to see me in sometimes I process internally before allowing for potential influence. So, I Cave.) Once I found some peace and broke my silence to a few trusted people, of course healing rushed in. I went to my hypnotherapy training (YES!!! This is one exciting reason I have been so busy!) and experienced further amazing healing. I thought the issue was resolved and put to rest.

It wasn't.

Turns out, the toughest part was yet to come. Lucky for me, I have one particular aunt who empowers me like no one else can (she personally understands the biz/therapist part of me). During this difficult time she said things as plainly as, "Honey, you're being a victim." Yeah, we're that close. And when I stubbornly held to my (and she also knew it was well justified) position she said things like, "Are you really willing to win the battle, just to lose the war?" She reminded me of things I have said before: "You have told me you feel called to work with Mennonites. This means any Mennonite who comes to you, client, neighbor, friend, colleague." (Because I grew up Menno—-& I know there are lots of Amazing Mennos out there.)

And so I met and grew my wise, strong adult in an unlikely way over the last 7 months. I chose open dialogue three times even though I experienced feeling unheard. I continuously faced the opportunity to love, even when I felt annoyed, mad, intruded upon, unsafe, criticized, persecuted. The time for dialogue is over now, and the healing continues. Who I am and what I actually DO believe continues to clarify...and it feels AwEsOmE!

During this time I read the work of George Tillich who Goodness knows (like Freud and Jung) certainly didn't get everything right. But why throw the baby out with the bath water? His work on symbols (read after the dialogue was over) was profoundly healing to my own narrative. He wrote about how our language, our letters and words and earth-bound concepts are ALL symbols to point us to knowing God, or what he called Ultimate Concern. I am no theologian, but I got enough of the feeling of his writing to experience profound healing as well as permission to continue using symbols as (what I call "anchors") in my faith and life.

During this time I also painted the painting (below) that would *eventually become the background of this valentine. The painting is called, I, Cave. It tells the story of two perspectives. One, a person standing outside of a cave seeing darkness, thinking the light is on their side. The second perspective is that of mine, me looking out from deep within (my inner knowing, my sparkly, well-lit, beautiful and mysterious cave) and seeing a vast amount of beauty and more mystery in darkness illuminated by stars and reflective sparkle. There is a poem to go with this piece, which actually emerged before the painting, but it is not yet complete.

So, my beautiful, clear, truth-filled Valentine is born from great difficulty...and all I see in it is great beauty. I even like the provocative way the sentiment "This is not love..." draws my Valentines closer, beckoning a second look. (Who ever sends a Valentine that says this?!! haha.) Dang it, I can't actually send love to you all. But what if I send a symbol, something that conveys the idea of love? And how great is it that I am not able to actually confine love to an envelope and a card that arrive one day per year? Love is not to be contained or too easily defined...for if it were, it would just become ordinary, cheap, another thing to be understood and categorized. The symbol allows me to send the sentiment of love, and for all of us to think more about love. It allows the conversation about love to continue.

The back is signed with my deepest conviction of LOVE, Ultimate Concern. Enjoy!

*I'd also like to document that I consulted with my amazing graphic designer daughter on the lettering and layout of this piece. She gave me great feedback which resulted in the more clear message of the (pictured) symbolic heart than I had originally drawn---and she also told me it was a little too busy overall, and that if the background (which at that time was b&w marbled paper) carried no message, to scrap it. So, I went back to the drawing table which is when the idea to use the painting dawned on a big "duh". So I changed it and then asked Andria if my painting was too busy of a background...her response was perfect: "The background is the point, Mel." (The girl should be a therapist or something.)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

42 Renew

The absence of production on my blog illustrates exactly what is happening in my life right now. Yes, I am still busy working in my lovely office perch/nest---and loving on the people who matter most to me. This means I am (still) not spending much time (Instagram proves I'm still finding/creating's Insta to post there ya'll!) out in the studio creating. 

I mostly believe and feel how letting go of extra studio time is the right thing for this season. There are times when this creeping feeling comes over me which is usually complimented by thoughts of "should". I quickly recognize these feelings/thoughts for what they are and when I challenge them, I always arrive at confirmation for the season I am currently observing, and go back to feeling/knowing peace in my mind, body and spirit. Below you will find the scripture that is guiding me through this time.

I am a work in progress! I am grateful for the patience and steadfast presence of my friends and family. Thank God for transformation, for change, for renewal, in my 42nd year of this beautiful life. 
Even my office space is in transition. I just got the long, counter-height table and will pick up my new full-length couch over the break. (This will mean my hypnotherapy clients will be able to leave feeling better emotionally AND without neck pain.) Those are my heels in the corner by my door. You bet I kick them off between clients!

Place Your Life Before God

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
6-8 If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Better Balance

All three of my people are going back to school in the next few weeks. Before we head into constantly changing schedules, I decided to shift my own as of August 1st. As a result, I get to be home an hour early on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I have also decided to take a break from supervising at Friends which opens up quite a bit of head-space and frees me from living so attached to my phone/another email account and moving between my office and the college mid-day. While they seem like small changes, I have already lived one week in the changes and am experiencing great relief!

On Thursday night I walked out of the office at 5:30. Plenty of daylight. Not starving.  I spent some time in the studio getting the neglected space cleaned up. I attempted to create a poured painting with Elmer's glue. It failed, but I was excited to be back in the studio.

On Friday after clinic I had the energy to go to Hobby Lobby and Ace Hardware thinking I would try this new painting process on Saturday. I ended up going out to the studio Friday at 9pm to make the seafoam/gold painting. Ohmygoodness! It was so much fun. So. Much. Fun.

On Sunday I poured this Amethyst painting and a few small blue ones. See my IG link for more  photos. Studio time = pure healing!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Carribbean Blue

The Caribbean in Roatan Hondouras was gorgeous; the reef heavenly. My dear babe is 40.  It's his year to live Psalm 40 now. 

He starts graduate school at Friends in a few weeks. With God's help we will be able to practice together in just two years. 

It will be our FIFTH college degree completed while married. Will it be our last?!?!! 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Ryan Adams at Red Rocks

Cody and I skipped town last week to go see Ryan Adams at Red Rocks. Everything about it was AMAZING. I kept sitting there marveling at the huge open sky...and how different my view was there compared to where I usually sit on Tuesday nights. Here are a few snapshots from the night.

That's the city of Denver twinkling in the right foreground.

Natural amazement. Perfect acoustics.Opening act.

It was amazing to be serenaded under the open sky by such a feeling, expressive artist. Never seen him play? Here's a great video from a performance on Letterman: