The Message

The Message

acrylic

As you know, I’m not one for making abstract art…usually.  But I did give it a try last summer.  See my post on Expressionist painting.  Somehow I ended up with another one!  This one came about at a birthday party at Painting with a Twist.  If you’re not familiar with this place, let me give you a quick explanation of how it works.  You show up and they supply all painting materials for a fee.  The honored guest chooses the painting style from hundreds of themed paintings (everything from Monet to modern).  Did I forget to mention you can bring food, music, and wine?  Who doesn’t want to eat birthday cake while painting?  Just don’t get the cake (or the wine) on your work of art 😉  Anyway, my friend chose an abstract painting of the French fleur-de-lis.  As you can see, I didn’t quite follow the instructions…but luckily, that is part of the fun.

I guess I was feeling ethereal.  It started with the light blue and white wispy cloud puffs.  The feather sealed the deal.  But then it was time to make the fleur-de-lis.  I contemplated leaving it out, but wasn’t sure how much of a rebel I wanted to be.  Then I started searching for symbol variations.  When I saw a pair of wings, I knew I had found my muse once again!  I went straight to work with the gold paint and didn’t stop until I was nearly finished.  I stepped back to admire my creation.  Apparently another guest was admiring it too.  She said, “Looks nice.  Isn’t that the health symbol?”  Yikes!  I had not intended that at all.  Where had I gone wrong?  Well, that’s a question many artists ask themselves upon completing a work of art.

But the story doesn’t end there.  Not content to leave things as they were, I began a search on the healthcare symbol.  The results were quite interesting.  It turns out that the symbol I painted was the caduceus and goes back to mythology.  It’s the staff of the Greek messenger god Hermes, a trickster who is associated with trade/commerce, negotiation, traveling (including transitions and boundaries), literature and poets, and invention.  This staff was also carried by Iris, the messenger goddess of the sea and sky as well as rainbows.  The staff is said to send the awake to sleep.  As a chronic insomniac, I like the sound of that 😉

Statue of Mercury at National Gallery of Art:
Mercury (akin to Hermes) is the Roman god of poetry, communication, travelers, and luck!

So how did this symbol come to be associated with medicine and healing?  It’s actually a case of mistaken identity.  The true medical symbol is actually known as the Rod of Asclepius.  It depicts only one snake wrapped around a rod and never includes wings.  Funny how symbols evolve over time…

I’d like to think I was meant to create this caduceus to guide me in my pursuit of becoming a published author and illustrator of children’s books.  But the truth is as mysterious as the origins of this symbol.  One thing I know for sure is that the subconscious mind is more powerful than we can ever imagine.  And art is a great way to channel this boundless energy.  But you have to be willing to take chances, and you must be open to signs from the universe.  What message will you be open to receiving today?

One final note.  I had food poisoning (not from the party) while painting this.  So perhaps the message was health related after all 😉

 

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Strike a Power Pose!

power pose

We’ve all heard about the importance of good posture.  It keeps the body in alignment and projects confidence.  But here’s something new.  Can it actually affect performance and relieve stress?  According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, it can.  I recently watched her Ted Talk about body language and boy did I learn a lot!

Certain poses, called power poses, not only affect how others see us but how we conduct ourselves.  These poses can be traced back to the animal kingdom where animals needed to mark their territory, hunt for food, or secure a mate.  You can see the same poses adopted by people when they negotiate business or win a race.

The science behind this claim involves actual body chemistry.  When we make these poses, our testosterone (the “dominance” hormone) rises and our cortisol (the stress hormone) drops.  So it’s no wonder we’re then able to handle uncomfortable situations and make more rational decisions.

My favorite pose is called the “Wonder Woman.” I can actually feel it in my shoulders, where I hold a lot of stress.  You can see an example of the pose in the photo above.   My word for this year is confidence, so it seems fitting that I would seek to embody that both internally and externally.  Now that I know power posing can actually promote relaxation, I’ll be adding it to my nightly yoga ritual as well as practicing it before a presentation or interview.

See the photo in my previous post for another example of a power pose known as “pride,” which I call the “Winner’s Pose.”  You can’t help but feel joyous and even grateful in this stance.  Like the world is your oyster 😉

So if you do nothing else today, make sure you spend 2 minutes striking a power pose.  Your body will thank you.  And you might just feel ready to take on the world!

“Our bodies change our minds, and our minds change our behavior, and our behavior changes our outcomes.”  –Amy Cuddy, TED

“Fake it ’til you become it.”  –Amy Cuddy, TED

A Labyrinth Is Not a Maze

labyrinth

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been intrigued by labyrinths. Maybe it started with the movie. At first I thought it was because I like a good challenge. But then I realized I was confusing a labyrinth with a maze, which is designed as a puzzle to solve with multiple paths and dead ends. A labyrinth actually only has one path, however winding, with a clear beginning and end point. You go back out the same way you came in.

The first time I had a chance to walk a labyrinth was in San Francisco. See my post on that. It’s a highly meditative process. And it was then I realized the deeper symbolism of the labyrinth. The idea is to walk the course either thinking about some specific question you want to answer or just pondering life in general. You’ll be surprised what you come up with along the way.

So how does one go about finding a labyrinth? It turns out there’s such a thing as a labyrinth locator online. By luck, I found that there is one down the street from me outside of a church. They are very commonly located at places of worship, either inside or outside. So one Sunday my husband and I decided to walk over and check it out.

The day was hot and the labyrinth happened to be in direct sunlight, but that did not deter us.  We noticed a sign listing every major religion on it. It shared a quote from each. All the different faiths had one thing in common: The belief in the concept of helping others. This suggests that we are all connected by an invisible thread. With that thought in mind, my husband and I entered the labyrinth.

My first thought was that I felt a little bit like I was traveling around inside the belly of a giant…or its brain 😉  It’s interesting how patterns in nature repeat themselves.  Then I tried to focus my intention on the present moment.  I noticed how we moved methodically to every corner of the labyrinth, but ended up in the same spot, the center.  What does that say about life?

Afterwards, I asked my husband his thoughts.  He noticed how when we seemed closest to the center, we were really quite far from reaching it.  When we were furthest away, it turned out we were actually heading right for it.

There’s a lot to be learned from walking around inside a labyrinth.  You should try it!  I know I’ll be going back again or perhaps to a different one.  Either way, I imagine I’ll discover something new.  What I learned was that a labyrinth is not a puzzle to solve.  We are the puzzles.  And each time we enter the labyrinth, a little piece of the mystery about ourselves is revealed.

Scottie Dog Sketch

Scottie Dog

brush pens