"Outgrowth" by Hayden Michelle

“Outgrowth", (27 x 39 x 15), suspended

Although I started this piece last year, I returned to it this past summer, feeling compelled to add an additional branch to the first, as the lone branch hanging over my drawing desk seemed to be calling for a companion. I took the original photograph at a Hispanic food section in a grocery store that was filled with all kinds of fruits and vegetables that were unfamiliar to my diet, being both drawn to and repelled by the spiny protrusions that protected what must must have been fleshy fruit contained within the flat surfaces.

After printing them out in one large image, I hand-carved the entire surface, defining the spaces between the spines with line and a sense of movement. Then began the work of cutting them out into discs, hoping to soften the bristled surface.

Once the table lay full of newly formed shapes, the process of joining together ensued. I began the painful task of sewing thickly-layered waxed fabric onto the form of the branches, a process which got me in touch with the reality of the sharp edges of my needle that the spines surely possessed. My fingers sore, I thought of the many workers whose hands knew this pain from the harvest, not the privilege of creating artwork…

As each form became a pod that encapsulated the branch, a sense of satisfaction began to settle into my mind, and I smiled as I saw the forms multiplying. As often is the case in adhering my sculpture to substrates of any kind, there is an immense concentration and balancing as they come together, much like the pieces in our lives as we progress down paths.

The biggest piece of insight, however, was that this suturing is intrinsic to how we live and grow each day, yet we often hide the very stitches that hold us together and allow us to function. I made a conscious choice during this construction that I was going to intentionally incorporate the stitches in much of my sculpture, allowing them to become part of the beauty of the form, visible for all to see.

I felt empowered to enable this evolution into dimensional pods that became part of the branches, letting it remain unclear whether they emerged as an outgrowth of the branch or attached themselves from another source. Like the pods, our lives are shaped by inner and outer experiences, a fascinating process when we can witness the beauty that can emerge when pushed beyond our boundaries, remain grounded to our core, and are supported by each other.

Wonder Round (Sept. 30-October 6, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

This has been a milestone of a week for me, as I turned half a century old (which actually makes me laugh). Steeped in gratitude for my time thus far on earth, and very much looking forward to what lies ahead, I have been quite reflective in the midst of being busy. I received the good news of being juried into the Kentucky Crafted Program, which will enable me to have a booth in KY Crafted: The Market annual art market in the spring, receive mentoring and exhibit opportunities, and be listed in the KY Crafted Directory. I also got word that I was juried in to the Lexington Art League’s PRHBTN show, which will exhibit from October 26- November 18, 2018. I am grateful for the opportunities that are unfolding, and for the connections, new and old, that are part of my life. Thank you for following along on this journey and supporting me— I am quite fortunate!

(“As I awaken to the privilege of celebrating my 50th year, I feel profoundly grateful for the depth of life and love that has brought me this far— I have been gifted beyond words... And as the chrysalis metamorphosizes into being with wings, so may I continue to grow and transform in this second half century of flight. Hooray for the joy of being alive!”)

(“As I wound down for sleep after a very full day, I logged onto FB and was overwhelmed with gratitude for all the love shared with me on my birthday. I am amazed, still, that the ability exists to connect with each other across the surface of this huge world, and that we have the power to lighten each other’s days and nights through our engagement with one another. These are the positives that stick with us throughout our busy days, giving balance to the energies that are not so easy to take. They remind me to reach out to others when I can, hoping to spread a bit of love that has been so generously shared with me. Thank you all for the beauty you express in so many unique ways...”)

(“This morning there are not many words... just reflection that comes from being with what appears in my circle. Well, maybe just a few words— for the first time, I am not posting the original circle that I painted this morning. And it is not because I was not happy with the composition (although I wasn’t), but because it was not true to how I was feeling this morning. I kept trying to redeem it, change it, etc, to no avail, and decided to give myself permission to not even finish the first one— to start over. Letting this one unfold with no intention other than to not block what was coming out, revealed a very different image, and one that felt congruent with my inner. Now I can return to reflect on that which appears within. Strange how difficult it can be to let ourselves just be with what we are feeling, and not apologize, cover, or push past what is uncomfortable.”)

(“This morning I awoke to an alarm set for 1.5 hours later than usual, and then proceeded to not get out of bed for almost an additional hour. After a legitimate brush of regret/anxiety over how to get the morning routine completed before we must leave the house, I realized that once again, I can make choices that will enable us to get out on time (like painting a simple circle!). And more importantly, I realized how tightly I keep myself inside a box (that I made), and that it does not have to be this way. Perhaps the starting over on a new circle yesterday and painting the truth of my experience was a beginning for me. I am pretty sure we could all use more opportunities for breaking out of that which no longer fits, even if only in tiny steps of change. I am going to work on being more conscious of the expectations I have for myself that keep me feeling constrained, and gently or powerfully, depending on the day, greet them. Wishing you all bits of freedom and change where you can find it...”)

(“This morning I am feeling relatively empty in the reflection department, and instead, am immersed in more of a floating space in my tired noggin. Looking forward to being out in the woods today with our Red Oaks (@redoakscna) friends, soaking up the peace and beauty of nature while we play and learn.”)

(“After returning home from a beautiful surprise birthday celebration in the woods yesterday, complete with a shimmering birthday crown and singing around a cake baked from the finest sand, rocks, and leaves to decorate, I basked in the privileged glow of feeling loved. I have been reflecting on this experience and the lines that tie us to one another... It is easy to see the connection when it comes from shared world views and values, and less so when coming from different perspectives, yet the interconnection is still there. We all share the existence of being human and the experiences of loss, joy, suffering, adventure, and wonder of living day to day. Being mindful of how to balance the strong connections we have while remaining open to others that may be difficult to see is a task that is present daily for me, and one which we strive navigate with our children. No small thing...”)

(“As we continue with temperatures that feel more like summer than fall, I notice the draining of color on the hillsides... muted browns replace the vibrant greens, deep reds creep up through the tall grasses, and bittersweet sprouts up where I could not see it before. Goldenrod blankets much of the hills and is the most vibrant of all, along with the last of the ironweed, a rich violet shade which always moves me, resting nearby with its last burst of color. How I miss the intensity of color when winter comes, yet anticipate the magic of the fall that will visit before the starkness of winter lands. Day by day, the hills will brighten with pigment of their own— how I look forward to taking it in as the show unfolds.”)

(“It is difficult to find words about my circle this morning, painted mostly with my left hand. As I worked on art all day yesterday as news unfolded, I reflected on the task in front of me to raise our boys, and how challenging a world it is in which they are growing. It saddens me and makes me angry beyond what I want to write here, and so I come back to my responsibility to do the best I can to help them navigate the most beautiful and the most wretched parts of being human, and that which lies between. I am often stopped in my tracks as I field their painful questions, listen to their perspectives, and witness them remain open, curious, excited, and hopeful about life. I am grateful for the lessons they bring to us, and am so happy that we are heading into the woods today as a family, taking some much-needed time to connect.”)

Wonder Round (Sept. 23-29, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

I had the privilege of going away for the week, which ended up being chock-full of experiences. I am happy to return home and get into the swing of the fall, and carry with me the energy of the mountains. Wishing you all peace in the week ahead…

(“As I prepare this morning to take my son to the mountains for a 4-day group learning experience while I camp alone, I am aware of the privilege of time spent by myself. Despite the forecasted days of rain, I am looking forward to being out in nature, having a roomy and protective tent, and plenty of art supplies to keep me happy, should I be seeking shelter inside my tent. Although disorienting to be without internet and cell service for 4 days, I know it will be good for me, allowing me to sink into my own thoughts and the simplicity of meeting my basic needs while I am in this beautiful place. I will make my morning circles, collecting them to post when I return home, and hold space for all those who need it, sending the peace and restorative energy of the mountains outward while I am inward.”)

(“As I gleefully skipped down the trail that paralleled a rushing stream, I was almost instantly stopped by mushrooms, pale yellow, almost like butter. I stopped to photograph them, because I could not resist documenting their beauty, only to return to the trail, discovering orangey ones a few steps down the way. These were followed by reds which were as vibrant a red as you can imagine, and away my little camera clicked. I was delighted to be able to stop without concern of slowly anyone down, as not only was I hiking solo, but hardly a soul was yet on this soon-to-be-busy trail— a gift, indeed. By the time I made it to the half way point, surprised this time by bright fuschia spiked pods that housed crimson orange berries that burst out from below, the dreaded red battery symbol that had been flashing most of the way gave way to the “battery depleted” reading. I had to laugh out loud at the truth of this short announcement, and relished in the fact that hiking along this beautiful trail at inconsistent pace to stop, look, and breathe in, was doing exactly the opposite— recharging my depleted battery. I could hear my 11 yo old speak into my ear as he wisely did one day, saying, “Mom, you could just remember what you see in your mind...”. And he was right. Although there were lovely bits I am sad to have missed with my lens, perhaps I was able to take them in more fully because I only had my eyes and senses to record them. So today, the painted fungi are from memory, in honor of my son :).”)

(“When I arrived Sunday evening and checked into my site, the rangers told me to be extra careful, as a bear got up on the side of the Girl Scouts’ tent at 3 a.m. that morning, and proceeded to try and get into their car (oh, and that it was yards from where my tent was to be). OK, I do know better than to leaves Cheetos on the ground, let alone by my tent, but I was not super reassured. I eventually slept, but awoke from multiple dreams that were not so calming, and early in the morning, heard a loud brushing against my tent, which sent me into a straight-up position in about .5 seconds. Nothing followed, and the wind was blowing very loudly, so I could not hear anything on the ground. When I awoke, I left to hike, and upon return, was told by my new neighbors that the rangers set up a live trap for the bear, who was heard brushing against tents early this morning— and that the trap was just catty-corner behind my tent. Hmmm... not super excited for round two, and underneath that, sad that the bears are so acclimated to humans being careless, putting people at risk, and especially endangering the lives of the bears, who are at our mercy.

Much to my dismay, I had a return visit again the next night, in a dead silence that followed intense storms and wind. This time, it pushed against the side of my tent, and then brushed slowly along the length, and paced around for 50 minutes, chomping on what I found out later was acorns from the generously-producing tree outside my tent. Ugh. I sat with my fear the whole time, bear spray in one hand, air horn in the other, not wanting to alarm the elderly naighbors that had come in that night. Eventually, the footsteps left, and relief washed over me. I came to my senses on the hike that day, and realized I was not up for a third-time’s-the-charm, and booked a room at the Tally Ho Inn in the closest town. Such relief in shelter, and in sleep that felt safe. (Part II to follow in next post, as this one’s too long! BTW, that’s my orange tent in the circle, in close proximity to said bear, surrounded by waves of protective energy— because a magical force field comes in handy at times, even if only in your mind!).

The following day as I walked in a downpour, a group of hikers ahead of me but out of sight, I had the feeling I should turn around, but kept walking for a few minutes, not feeling at all ready to hit a halfway point, but then a very clear voice in my head told me to turn around NOW, and as I did, two cubs crossed the path that I had just walked through. My humming turned to loud singing, and I waited to make sure a mama was not following the cubs... with shaky legs and a few shallow breaths, I proceeded to walk down through that same path— bear spray in hand, singing loudly and with a bit of stacatto, scanning for any sign of movement in the close rhododendron that lined the trail. Never have I been so relieved to reach a parking lot at the end of a trail! I certainly experienced my fill of bear energy this trip, and will make sure I am in sight of at least one hiker the next time. Lesson learned, and happy to be home safely...”)

(“As I set out to hike yesterday, I knew the rain would keep many people off the trails, and that I best find some fellow hikers to follow for safety. As I made a final stop before driving to the trailhead down the road, two men approached the building for the same reason I did (last bathrooms before the trail!) and after sizing them up independently as we all stood in line for the bathroom (life as humans :)), I deemed them safe and took the risk to ask if I could follow behind them a good distance while on the trail. They were more than willing, and I assured them I would not interfere in their time/space, and they reassured me it was no trouble, and that they were happy for some new company. Still, I kept some distance between us as we began the descent up the hill and checked the tread on my boots in case I needed to run (truly), and we began to engage in easy conversation about who we were (names are always a good idea!), where we were from, what we did in our current lives— off to a good start.

As the miles passed, we engaged in deeper discussion about various parts of our lives, and were absorbed in listening as each spoke more of their personal story. There was intermittent silence, support, and respect for each person’s sharing, and we dipped into experiences about nature, art, jobs, life, death, afterlife, marriage, children, and spirituality (one man was a psychologist steeped in decades of studying spirituality). I never would have guessed that there would be such a profound sharing between myself and two strangers, or that we would finish the trail almost shoulder to shoulder as we walked back down the path. We all agreed that it was a gift to have met and shared this small bit of life’s journey with one another (even having met a bear on the trail, which determined our turn-around point!). For me, it was yet another reminder to trust my gut and remain open, reinforcing that unexpected goodness can come from unlikely sources which in the past would have most definitely made me turn on my heel and go the other way, alone. I am thankful for the growth that years of healing and life experience can bring...”)

(“As I drove home last evening with a van full of tired and contented kids and most every belonging, waterlogged, I was reflecting on the many experiences that got packed into just a few days away... lessons about facing fear, trusting myself and others, sinking into the beauty and stillness of nature to replenish depleted mind and body... feeling deeply grateful for it all. As the van wheels transported us across pavement filled with heavy rainfall and returned us safely home, I felt the relief of being back in familiar territory, and the privilege of returning to a home and family, and friends near and far. I am grateful for the paintings that came into these circles (this one in a downpour by a swollen stream that roared so loudly I would have strained to hear someone speaking next to me) to help remind me of the essence of this excursion. Although happy to have gone, I am happy to be home, and to be in this space again :).”)

(“As the light of warm colors came into this circle, I was reminded of the inner light that resides in all of us, and reflective about the things which bring me closest to this awareness. What makes you most deeply connect to your own glow, as well as that of others?”)

(“Being screenless in the woods for much of the past week, I missed the unfolding of the news— until last evening. There are not enough words to describe my feelings for Dr. Ford and all those who know what it is like to speak the truth and not be believed or to keep it locked inside (fearing this very denial), and who carry the burden and shame that inevitably comes from being victimized. There is tremendous courage and strength harnessed in living every day, whether or not the words are ever spoken. The least we can do is connect to our compassion, respect, and support— basic human decency— and surround with healing energy rather than that which further traumatizes. Wishing the light of healing and love to all those in need...”)

Wonder Round (Sept. 16-- 22, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

As I am late in sharing a recap of this week, I realize that several of these entries are about the passage of time, which seems to go by all too quickly. I am hoping to get back into the flow of a slightly slower pace, and wish you all space and rhythm, as well…

(“This morning I awakened with a smile on my face, feeling deep gratitude for my nephew’s wedding. The word his mama used when we were leaving last night, 
was “full”. My heart is wide open, having witnessed the deep love, joy, celebration, connection, and beautiful and moving expression of emotion... reminders of these powerful elements of life.”)

(“As we begin yet another chock-full week, I am noticing a desire to check and recheck my daily planner, making sure not to miss what is scheduled as one day unfolds into the next. I realize it is also taking me out of the present moment, which offers the chance to be grounded in what is happening in front of and within me. Hopefully, this bit of awareness will carry over into increased frequency of stopping to breathe, feeling my feet on the earth, noticing who and what beauty is surrounding me, and centering in the gratitude of each moment, as that is truly all we are ever sure of experiencing. Wishing you all peace and centering as you enter what lies ahead in your week...”)

(“Although I have been up working on art since 4:30a, it has not been on this circle... I spent it preparing sculptures for juried review, which will be transported after I finish this post. As my body was trucking through the room towards the car, feeling I did not have enough time to paint, I decided to give myself 15 minutes to put pigment to paper, and call it a day. It is surprising how even taking a few moments to create can bring some relief, as well as some outward expression of what we are feeling inside. Onward!”)

(“The open cavities within this circle remind me of doors, and how difficult it can be to decide which one to enter. Having choices helps, as does making space to discern what is best for us in the moment and in the long run. Sometimes I wish we could magically create these for each other when in need...”)

(“Finally, we are heading into the fields and woods today, after way too many hours in the car and buildings in the recent stretch of days. I have realized how much I am missing the feel of fresh air on my skin, the sounds of the breeze and birds, the hum of insects that sing autumn in... so grateful to meet up with Red Oaks Center for Nature and Arts pals, and to soak up some warmth from the sun (plenty— hot one ahead!), watch the kids run through flower-filled fields, and engage in lots of romping in the cool and welcoming creek that awaits. Hoping everyone can find access to whatever bits of nature you can find, and soak up some of the replenishment, solace, and joy that is offered there...”)

(“As we spent hours creekside yesterday, it was so interesting to watch the kids play, from ages 2-15, and to watch the adults join in, one by one in various engagements, until there was no distinction between the two. Delight was evident in the satisfying work of building impressive dams using rocks washed in from recent flooding, sculptures built on the sand and on top of a very long thick root that had washed up, silhouetted by a series of hand-rolled grey clay spheres using clay mined from the hillside that had eroded and been left bare, tunnels carved into the same hillside (hoping to “reach water”), trains and pretend snakes built out of rocks that were pushed into the wet sand. Others discovered a fallen tree that became an amazingly bouncy seesaw that had the benefit of plunging into water on the descent (offering relief from the 90 degree temperatures), and many found secret hiding spots that had been formed by nests of branches and trees and new currents of water, offering refuge for their pretend worlds.

It was so lovely to see the release from daily worries and routines as minds opened to sink into the natural elements in this magical place— a reminder that play is easier than we think, if we pause but for a few moments and engage with what is around us. These were such gifts from a few hours of slowing down and being with beauty and creative energy, led by the modeling of our children. I feel deep gratitude for all those who work tirelessly to create these experiences for our children (and us!) in nature, while remaining dedicated to home educating their own—a huge thank you, committed leaders at Red Oaks Center for Nature and the Arts (@redoakscna).

(“Some may find these dark colors depressing, but I find them soothing and reflective, and often, I gravitate towards them. Sinking into their depths, I find quiet, and often, beauty, as the pigment is rich and generous, blending outward with luminosity, despite the dark... The motion in this space became complex and interwoven, and brought to mind how this mirrors our lives, filled with experiences that are minutes or years in the making. I continue to both struggle with and embrace that which has gone into the fabric of my being, knowing deep down there is no other way to be me. We are all works in progress (thankfully), and will continue to grow within the weave of these same threads, adding new color, thickness, texture, and pattern along the way.”)

Tiny Helicopters by Hayden Michelle

“Potential”, (16 x 20 x 2,5 inches)

When I was young, I spent countless hours up in a favorite Maple tree, collecting handfuls of these tiny pods and releasing them to the ground. I never tired of their whirling journey as they spiraled downward to the welcoming grass below.

I enjoyed photographing the fresh pink and green coloring of tender seeds that remains for only a few days before beginning to dry and lighten in preparation for flight.

As the deciding moment begins the unfolding of a monarch’s chrysalis, carving the ridges and valleys of the maple seeds breathes life into them. There is joy in holding a maple seed as large as a turkey platter. How I would love to have released them, perched from a high branch…

The seeds came to rest on a framed cradled birch panel, contained, but for a moment. Seeing them larger than life serves as a powerful reminder of our ability to propel forward, carrying the great potential that awaits inside us all.

Wonder Round (Sept. 9-15, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

As another depth-filled week has swiftly rolled by, I hold gratitude for the sanctity of life. Wishing you all goodness and time to rest in what is sacred in your lives in the week to come…

(“I have been reflecting on what it means to make things as we go about our days... maybe as simple as the ritual of a morning cup of coffee or tea, carving out time to slow down and engage in good conversation, working diligently on a project, or bringing something new into the world, whether it be a piece of art or a child. I am feeling the gift of this ability to choose at least some of what my days hold, and am invigorated by the green of this painting, which exudes hopefulness. Wishing you all the freshness of a new day and week...”)

(“As color begins to fill the circle, it always is interesting to see what takes shape, planned or unplanned as each stroke blends pigment into pigment, and travel is enabled by the addition of water. As I was coming up on the last two empty shapes, it struck me that it was important to leave them open, receptive to whatever might evolve in time to fill them (or not). This theme seems to keep jumping into my awareness as of late— to be mindful to create periods of space and rest in the midst of fullness, and to trust that what is needed will be found in that space. Now to remember to sink in...”)

(This morning I painted as I held close in my heart some that I care deeply about that are in pain. It’s an uncomfortable truth that there is nothing to do that can take away the suffering of another, no matter the source (and there are many). The only thing I come back to is to surround them with love and light and open ears as I carry them close in mind and heart. Wishing all who need it slivers of light and the knowing that you are loved... (And certainly, on this tragic anniversary of 9-11, the message here extends to so many...)”)

(“Following the energy of yesterday’s circle, I reflected on the parts of us that are left fragmented by the inevitable suffering in our lives, and how these pieces are inseparable from the whole of who we are. I have found that in acknowledging and honoring these parts in myself and others, that my compassion grows, softening my edges rather than hardening them. May we all be gentle with ourselves and others as we aim to see the totality of our being, and the basic goodness that lies within us all...”)

(“Our dear neighbor is in her last days, surrounded by the love of her faithful family and friends. We hold space for her as she is making her way out of this world, leaving seeds of love, generosity, open-heartedness and goodness in those lives she created and touched. This is sacred time, indeed... please keep this lovely woman and family in your thoughts and prayers, in whatever way is most meaningful to you. Thank you...”)

Wonder Round (Sept. 2-8, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

Seems that these weeks have not lacked fullness as of late, and this one proved no different.  I have been challenged to stay grounded during these past many days, grateful, as always, for the replenishment of nature, the love of friends and family, and for chances to begin anew.  Wishing goodness to all of you during the week ahead...

("Seems that this process of metamorphosis is ripe with lessons for me. It was an intense experience yesterday to watch the caterpillar shed its skin to reveal this pupa, which writhed around in circles before coming to a complete stop. And it has remained still, since, and will do so for 9-16 days before the monarch butterfly that is forming inside, emerges. How little time we give ourselves for stillness, at least speaking for myself... This chrysalis, hanging like a jewel from a precarious thin edge, is doing its inner work, oblivious to the sounds (as far as I know) of our busy household. I wonder about the process inside, marvel at the energy it must take, and am grateful for the reminder to not only claim time to slow down and go inward but to let the magic of growth and change happen.")


("As we begin our homeschooling lessons today, I am aware that we are entering a state of change as our boys progress with their growth and learning, entering into more independent studies. As we anticipate this bringing more self-sufficiency and a sense of empowerment for them, I am hoping to find more balance in my time, opening up freedom and space to work on cultivating my art career. Thank goodness we can continue learning all of our lives, long past the days of schooling. It is nice to sink into the excitement of change, and breathe into the inevitable anxiety that comes with new territory...")


("This morning I began with the best of intentions, earlier than normal to rise, hoping to get much done before we left for lessons (foreshadowing— expectations can get us disappointed fast!). As things do not always go as planned, I painted and painted and painted, trying to get to a circle that I felt happy enough with, and which felt complete. As that did not happen as I continued to add layer upon layer, my irritation grew, thinking of all the things I was needing to get done that were not related to this 6-inch circle, which no one was forcing me to do. And then I remembered that breathing was important, haha, as was relaxing into what was there in front of me. It was only when I quit fighting what was not coming together that I reached for the bright green, figuring it could not hurt. And much to my relief, it brought some life to the arena, and balance, as well. I took a quick break to walk the dog, who was feeling forgotten as I sat on my piano stool for much too long, and I smiled as the green of the hills and the scent of freshly mown grass surrounded us. The dog was delighted, leaping over the stands of tall Queen Anne’s Lace, happy to be in the moment and to be free. I thanked her for getting me outside and grounded again. Thank goodness for green...")


("Last evening I was talking at length with a trusted soul about self-care, and how easy it is to let it fade during times that pull away from center. When I used to work alongside people as a social worker, always there was effort put into defining the things that gave respite, comfort, nurturance, energy. As basic as these things may sound— a cup of tea in a favorite mug, clothes made from fabrics that soothe the skin, music that brings calm or energy or outlet, movement that allows tight body release, food that fuels as well as comforts, blankets that offer metaphorical shelter, five minutes or an hour to breathe in nature— all these things made a difference in feeling some sense of control over the person’s life and ability to navigate whatever it was they were facing on their path. It makes me happy that these bits of efficacy are free and available to us all, bringing sustenance and bits of healing in unique ways with minimal effort. I think we are all more prone to offer these things to others rather than to ourselves, and am reminded that both feed us in important ways... (Today’s circle was started with my left hand, cobalt blue gesture, hoping to avoid yesterday’s struggle :))


("This morning I awoke with a heavy heart, having received word last night that a priest from my past and close to my heart was suspended after an allegation of sexual misconduct from decades ago. For each survivor that finds the courage to step forward and speak, I know there are countless others who have not. And I know that the inner devastation that comes from the betrayal and violation of sexual abuse lasts a lifetime, even though the scars may not show on the surface. Today’s circle is not one of light, as these are dark and pervasive elements. As I grieve for the vast and overwhelming number of survivors, I am heartened that people are continuing to break the silence, giving hope for healing and change, no matter how many years have passed. All involved need healing, as wounded souls wound others. May we all find ways to bring light and hope for the survivors, and change for our broken systems and fractured world.")


("As the paint took form on paper, I connected to the soothing that comes from creating what I want to see and feel, rather than what is in front of me. Today will be spent mostly indoors, yet I know that it is the grounding into the earth and sky that I am craving. When the title came, I appreciated its double meaning... that we can all stand still and ground, and that we can stand, still...")


("Watching the chrysalis day by day, monitoring for change and hoping they emerge as healthy butterflies, I am mindful of how like them we are... growing, protecting, resting, doing the hard work of transforming every day. May we all find our wings as we become more evolved beings...")


"Speak" by Hayden Michelle

"Speak", (13 x 16 x 9 inches), (wall hanging)

  Speaking up is something that has taken me years to do, and is in fact, still difficult.  It is a right that everyone is entitled to-- giving voice to what is inside us, bringing it outward to be heard, seen, acknowledged...  This is not only a right but a profound privilege, and not something to be taken for granted.  

Finding my own has taken decades of hard work and a deep but trembling trust that it is safe to share what is inside myself.  From my earliest recollections, art was a potent tool for expression -- playing in an ice cream puddle on my high chair tray, drawing in the dirt, making bowls with mud, and as the years passed, experiencing the joy of dislodging the tight tin lid that released the smell of a multitude of waxy cylindrical sticks that would bring life to the tablet of paper that lay blank before me.

I knew after finishing the Tear Bottle sculpture, that I would return to make a piece that exemplified this particular aspect of healing, voicing what lies deep within.  The bovine jaw was found on the hillsides surrounding our home, and I knew it would hold powerful energy for some being who would find life in it once again...

The swallowtail butterfly is a beautiful creature, rife with personal symbolism.  I enjoyed enriching the blues that were present on the wings, bringing vibrance that matched the energy I experience inside myself.  Blue is a color reflecting purity and open sky, as well as cleansing and soothing water.

There seems to be a sense of dignity the butterfly is feeling as she pauses,  preparing to take flight from the jaw of a cow long gone.  My hope is that you may find strength, comfort, and healing as you gather courage and give yourself permission as you speak your truth.   

(Coincidentally, I wrote this post several days ago, not knowing that today's circle (below) and words would relay this very issue...).

Peace to all...

Wonder Round (August 26- September 1, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

This week brought a flurry of activity both in our house and as we left to camp for a few days.  It was an interesting contrast between sinking into the deepest concentration I could muster as I completed another application (which recognizes artists who are in the midst of parenting), and transitioning to experience that revolved around only the most basic of needs, such as setting up (and seeking) shelter, preparing food, gathering and communicating with families, and exploring the natural environment.  It ended with a witness of the miraculous process of one of our monarch caterpillars releasing into its chrysalis form.  I am filled with gratitude as we head into this next week, officially beginning our academic school year, and launching into a very full autumn with my art.  Best to all of you as you enter into this month of September...

("Being a right-handed person, I have wondered for a while about how it might be to let my left hand begin the painting. Silly as it may be, I felt enough doubt that I did not try it for months— until today. I put the brush awkwardly in my nondominant hand, swirled it around in the black, and put it to the paper. And the circle did not implode or fall apart. It just began differently. It was curious to see my right hand come in and fill in the spaces between the dark marks, and more familiar shapes begin to fill the empty space. It made me wonder about how things might evolve if we were all to practice with less knowing and more trusting, not tied to the outcome or reassurance of having traversed that territory before. We could use a little less dominance in this world we inhabit :)...")


(As this week unfolds, our family will welcome in the school year with a camping trip with our beloved Red Oaks Forest School. I am grateful for this grounding in nature and kindred community that will help calm the anxious anticipation of balancing homeschooling, art growth, family needs, friends, and self care. I am thankful for this daily painting time, which brings reflection to my hurried mind, slowing it down to be in the moment, leaving me with a tidbit to carry along mindfully during the day. What brings extra grounding to you during times of intense energy expenditure?")


("Wishing you lightness from that which weighs you down, the comfort of basking in dappled sunlight, and the reminder that at our center, there is a deep well of healing light. Shine today, even if only in that acknowledgement within yourself.")


("It occurred to me that anger is not something I often share outwardly in these circles, yet is certainly part of the human experience. And this one is not about anything atrocious, at all... just was the outlet for pent-up frustration of applying for another grant for hours and hours yesterday (17 straight, to be exact), mostly due to glitches in the system that kept deleting my application, or the WiFi that is not quite amazing in the sticks where we live, dropping and making me start again (and again and again and again). I took deep breaths and had pretty good perspective at the beginning of the day, but as it wore on, my oldest reminded me in no uncertain terms that I was not the most fun human being to be around! And I desperately wanted to just stop and forget the effort and time needed to complete it, but knew that would then be throwing away all the writing and day’s worth of effort already painstakingly getting me to that point. Onward...

So, I finished at 1:15a, reflecting on why in the world I keep putting the energy into applying for these things that have remote chances of success, and realized being awarded a grant or submission to a show is secondary (although lovely) to the necessary hard work of building self-confidence and identity as I am putting my work out there for review. For me, it is this vulnerability of exposure that is the hardest part of being an artist, yet I know it is the only way to keep moving forward. All that to say, letting myself feel my anger through the paint, even getting it outside the lines with the very first mark, allowed it to take up less space in me and move on through. And I awakened this morning (4 hrs later), in high gear to pack so that we can hit the road to camp with buddies. Certainly, relief awaits!")


("This morning I painted not in solitude and quiet, but in the midst of a growing circle of awakening children and parents, the buzz of frenetic activity against the background of peaceful breeze, singing birds, and chirping late summer insects. I had to laugh as my painting got more chaotic as I went, absorbing the many conversations (happening all at once, haha) that evolved around me. So grateful to be here and with this gang... may we all find connections that are full of life. (And now on to make breakfast for my neglected and patient children!)")


("Today’s circle was actually painted 2 nights ago, in quick succession after the red-filled one that was an expression of release of anger and overwhelm. It was interesting to see that although still in the midst of the unfinished grant application, that by the mere act of painting, relief and calm were moving back into the space of the sphere. I am grateful for the perspective that pause (and paint) can bring to our experiences in life, and for the peace and fun that camping for this short time away has brought. Hopefully, I will be able to quickly recall this short bit of a lesson as we head into more structured and demanding days. Peace to all of you... (and now off to a lazy cup of coffee with the group before we break down...oh, the simple gifts we can allow ourselves ;))")


("An hour after unloading the van last night and dumping piles of equipment in various areas of the house, I delicately lay the screen house that houses several monarch caterpillars (who camped with us in order to be attended), on the dining room table. We already had the good fortune to witness one finishing up the final moments of her chrysalis right as our tent was set up and before the storms came, the next morning, with a second near the end of the process, and a third as we left the nature center on the way home. We were thrilled to gather around and see the final movements as the jade green being emerged... I had no idea that this process took a matter of minutes, and was very much hoping to witness this all from the beginning. 

So I sat and got my iPad at the ready, thinking that since this latest caterpillar had made the characteristic “J” while hanging, that any minute, the miracle would happen before my eyes. Well, I sat for 2 hours, watching for the tiny pulsations to further, and of course, was recalling labor, and the organic unfolding of that process, and went to sleep. I checked them at midnight— still still... and when the dog awakened me early to go outside, although not thrilled with being awakened, was excited to see that the caterpillar was still resting. 

So I set up camp again, noticing that her antennae were droopy and her “J” curve had released, just as I had read as a sign of getting close. And sure enough, the caterpillar began the hard work of releasing her outer skin, and revealing the luminous green pulsing pupa that lay underneath, ready to be revealed. I could hardly breathe as I watched, mesmerized by this most complex, yet natural, process. It felt otherworldly, yet struck me that this process happens over and over again, for the continuance of all living things. Although common, it is profound, and makes me want to tune in not only to the process with monarchs, but to be mindful of the proliferation of life all around. What an energizing and privileged way to start the day..."))

Wonder Round (August 19-25, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

Today I am posting this on the fly, so will allow the images and words below to do the talking...  Wishing you all a wondrous week ahead!

("I awakened filled to the brim with gratitude this morning, deeply contented as I lie awake reflecting on these couple of days away. It is a privilege to take time apart from responsibility, returning home enriched by this time of respite, connection, nurturance, and laughter. I am tucking this bit of awareness away— that when rest can follow hard work, it enlivens me to better continue in the flow...")


("After spending the weekend with a friend I have known deeply since age 16, I was thinking of the many layers that develop from experiences in our lives as we are fortunate enough to continue growing— recognizing that underneath those rings, the core of who we are remains vibrant and alive in the very center of our beings. How precious it is when we can share that with one another, no matter how long we have known each other, and honor the essence of one another...")


("I stepped out on the stoop this morning, drinking in the coolness of the heavy and expectant moist air. Before I could take a third breath, rain turned from a sprinkle to a downpour, pummeling the trees and hills across the road and down the hollow with sounds I love, before making its way to where I was standing. It felt good to be dry while being surrounded by this sudden deluge. I had just been noticing the barely visible clouds that were churning by, hardly discernible, one from the other, in their thick gray mass. The thought went through my mind that underneath all that gray and wall of rain, lay blue sky. Today, I am happy for the rain, as I will be inside tending to my house, but it is comforting to know that the blue remains beneath.")


("I did my morning exercise on top of our storm shelter this morning, overlooking the ridge and under the swaying branches of a water maple tree... as I lie down and looked around me, I noticed these minuscule green pod-like seeds, which I have never noticed in the eleven years we have lived here. I am quite sure they have been there all along, doing their thing in the life cycle of the tree, but I had not slowed down or gotten near enough to the ground on which they lay to see them. As I painted a small pile of them, each not more than 2-3 mm in diameter, I realized we are much like these beings— small in the grand scheme of things, yet integral to the life of the tree, forest, earth, universe... We all matter!")


("This morning’s circle revolves around wanting to quit and start anew. I think this one ties a few others in terms of disliking the painting intensely throughout most of the process, and not knowing how to bring it to completion, let alone redeem it. I realized I was the only one who would know if I started over, but stayed with it because I knew I would feel better. As I muttered through my discontented strokes and my fidgeting agitated body on the chair, I applied layer after layer, accentuating elements that I was trying to avoid and cover up, knowing there was meaning in each mark, at least in my unconscious. We all struggle with these feelings in things that matter much more than a daily mindfulness exercise, and find the energy to persevere. Wishing you all the harnessing of intention within yourself to keep at the things that bring struggle...")


("How do those things that live on the outer edge of our imagination and daily vision get brought into the circle of sight? It is a mystery, and reassuring that always, an abundance remains to be seen...")


("Warm and cool swing back and forth not only in temperature as the days transition to fall, but in the multitude of ways we experience highs and lows, joy and pain, chaos and peace, connection and disconnection in our lives. I am grateful there are moments of balance and space between, for the richness they bring, and for the strong and quiet thread that stitches these disparate parts into wholeness.")