January 2013 Newsletter

desiderata

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

-Max Ehrmann

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Hola amigos -

I hope 2013 has been good to everyone thus far.  I have been busy preparing for my February show with a brand new series of paintings.  I am feeling excited about my new work and even more excited to see what this year will bring forth!

a few announcements:

-I am in the process of revamping my website.  To see the inspiration for my latest series, take a peek at my new artist statement.

-Some of my paintings have recently been featured in articles on the popular Colorado-based publication, the Elephant Journal.

-Finally, I was thrilled to be featured as a guest writer on the Artifact Uprising blog this month.  Check 'em out - they are an amazing company!

with love and gratitude,

sheila

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awakening

We can either fear that human culture is falling apart or we can hold to the vision that we are awakening. 

Either way our expectation is a prayer that goes out as a force that tends to bring about the end we envision.  Each of us must consciously choose between these two futures. 

–James Redfield

December 14, 2012 will not be remembered as the best day in the history of human culture, nor can I say will it be remembered as the best day for me personally in the small screenplay of my life.   With news of the unimaginable in Newtown, I felt a sinking despair settle over me and a creeping fear that human culture may indeed be falling apart.

Unable to focus on the emails flooding my inbox, I zipped my coat and stepped outside, the frigid December air a welcome shock to my lungs.  I slowly navigated the ice-covered roads, making my way to a nearby, under-staffed Safeway to purchase an over-priced Kombucha.  Under the buzzing fluorescent lights, I found myself grieving for the whole human family and on a smaller scale, the loss of a certain vision of my life that would not be so.

The lines were expectedly long with only two lanes open. I chose the "Express Lane", the irony of its label not escaping me.  As I stood there, I reflected on a few fragmented lines that had been running through my head all day - something about putting one foot forward then the other.  I couldn’t place where I had heard these words.  And finally it hit me.  It was the last paragraph of Shantaram, the epic novel I recently finished:

For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Think. Act. Feel. Add our little consequence to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world. Drag our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day. With love: the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved. For so long as fate keeps waiting, we live on. God help us. God forgive us. We live on.

At that moment, a man in the front of the line caught my eye and kindly gestured for me to sneak in front of him.  His cart was full of baby food and snacks, presumably for children awaiting him at home, whom he would hug extra tight that evening.  I smiled and thanked him, and much to my surprise, I felt a surge of emotion well up in me.  Now I realize it seems like such a small thing – the most inconsequential drop in the tide of good that floods the world, but at that moment it nearly brought me to tears.

It wasn’t necessarily the gesture itself – I didn’t mind waiting in line.  Instead, it was the momentary human-to-human recognition.  A brief, but meaningful pause in the act of putting one foot forward then the other.  And in that moment I realized that for every Newtown, or its horrific equivalent, there are a thousand human kindnesses, a myriad of daily miracles that go unnoticed.

As if to affirm this idea, I read my friend Katie’s blog post on the walk back to work.  It’s theme: belief in the good.  Find good community and hold it near. Hug your children. And when all the world starts telling us otherwise, please – please –believe in the good.

In the days following, I picked up my guitar that had been collecting dust for a while (since high school if we’re being honest).  I sang until my voice was scratchy.  And when my un-calloused fingers were aching too much to continue, I painted.  Part of me wished there was more I could do to be of service.  I thought of those individuals who work tirelessly to heal the wounds (both physical and emotional) left by such tragedies.  I thought of those who fight daily for social justice.  And then I thought of myself swirling paint around on a canvas.

But of course it's more than that to me.  It's not merely the act of smearing colors across canvas. Painting - and creating in general - is my small, seemingly inconsequential way of adding to the tide of good that floods the world because it is what most deeply connects me to the human experience.  Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  Creating makes me feel as alive in my sadness and empathy as in my joy and gratitude.

So as we embark upon a new year - and new era according to those infinitely tuned-in Mayans - my wish for this fractured world is that each of us seek out those things and those people which make us feel most alive and (re)build our world around them.  To hold to the vision that we are awakening – and to accept the often-necessary preamble of first falling apart.  To live on with brave hearts and eyes open to strangers in grocery lines.  To be gentle with ourselves and realize we are 'no less than the trees and the stars'.  Because the ever-present truth is none of us know how many days we are granted on this big ball spinning through space.  And for ‘all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still – and will always be - a beautiful world.’

RECENT WORK

The Retrieval by Sheila Dunn

Emily in Yellow by Sheila Dunn