Circles (June 3-9, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

This past week has been one of living fully, with highs that came from time spent in nature with dear friends, and lows that came from letting go... all are part of life, and we do our best to meet them as they present each sunrise.  Wishing you fullness in your life in the coming days...

("It is a beautiful morning, and I decided to paint from one of my favorite warm weather spots— our humble storm shelter top, which overlooks the hillside, deep into the ravine. As I listen to the birds, bugs, frogs, and neighbor’s cows, I am reminded that some of the most profound spots to sit and be are right in our midst. I am filled with gratitude for our land and dwelling, and hope we all have spaces that are safe and cherished.")


("As my sons grow and explore the many facets of being with others, I am struck by the power of connections— those that bring a deeper sense of belonging and self, and those that bring alienation, calling for exploration and resolution. It is amazing that these experiences shape us throughout our whole lives, and exciting that new ones can come at any age. I am moved by the sheer joy that discovery of friendship can bring, and grateful every day for this gift of connection.")


("When feeling agitated, uncertain, and uncomfortable in my own skin, I know it is time to head outside. Nature never ceases to amaze me with its power to offer release, clarity, space, and comfort by the mere act of sinking into it. Yesterday evening, the grassy hills offered engagement with the workings of my body, the shade of the trees offered respite, the breeze brought soothing scents of honeysuckle, and my ears perked up with the sounds of the creek. I returned home with renewed spirit, reminded that some days it is just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, and tuning in to nature, wherever we can find it. Wishing a sense of grounding for each of you today...")


("Every day we are exposed to immense suffering across the globe and in our own lives. There remains an ongoing search for those gems which emanate beauty in the midst of suffering so that we do not become immobilized by feelings of helplessness... they may present as simply as compassionate acts expressed by human beings or by the exquisite beauty nature continually reveals to us. Let us all find sources of softness and hope alongside pain, so that we may continue finding the energy needed to cope in our world.")


("I am mindful this morning of the profoundness of breath. As we sit with our oldest cat as his body and breathing slow, we are grateful for his time with our family, holding the love and peace that he has brought to all of us. Once again, the miracle of life is affirmed...")


("Last night, our boys had the experience of being with our beloved cat as he gently breathed his way out of this life... I am grateful that they had the courage to hold him during his transition, and to see with their eyes and feel in their bodies, that final release can be so peaceful, even in the midst of deep feelings of loss. I am grateful for the soothing from ritual that emerged naturally, an extension of the love felt, as we prepared him a beautiful resting place. May we all find a place of peace today...")


("Contained in this circle are difficult feelings... whenever news breaks that someone famous has left this world by their own will, it confronts the complex core of our human spirit. We likely all have lost someone we love or know to suicide, or perhaps struggled with our own inner fight. This morning, I am sending compassion for all those who are trying to survive in the aftermath of this grief, as well as hope for those in the grip of it, wishing for hope and possibility to break through the bars that can keep us separate from each other and our truest selves. May we all help and heal one another with our love...")

This week our family will travel to the beach with many families in our Red Oaks Forest School, and will return the following week.  Not yet sure of the wifi capability, there may be some space between this and the next post... I am going to bring my tin box full of watercolor supplies in hopes of maintaining the flow, and will see what transpires :).  Best to you all....

Circles (May 27- June 2, 2018) by Hayden Michelle

I have enjoyed many mornings painting from this vantage point, appreciating the sounds, fragrance, and space of summer as it begins to unfold.  Sending much love and light to all of you as you sink into whatever season surrounds you...

("Flowers and light were the original filling of this circle, but I overworked it and got more and more irritated with the composition as I did so. In a moment of frustration at my self-imposed rule to not throw away any circle, I took a fully loaded brush and swiped over the whole thing (not taking deep breaths while I did so, ahem...). This new circle was no easier to reckon with, as now the paper was saturated and getting fuzzy from overworking. I layered color after color into the new space, and added in detail here and there, all the while reflecting how much this mirrors life, and how often we confront things way more challenging than a circle on paper, wishing we could paint over it or just get a fresh one out from the drawer and start over. But we all pick up our brushes again and again, painting into spaces that are challenging. I hope you honor your determination and resolve to face the things in your life that take all that you have, and that you find beauty in the process and in the layers that come to light...")


("On this day of honoring those who have served and those who have gone before us, I am also mindful of those who still walk, with wounds and scars that we may not see, and the circles of loved ones who deeply know and feel the impact and after effects of this sacrifice. Let us remember all who have fought in a myriad of ways, and offer gratitude for the dedication and courage required, as well as call forth love, space, and light for healing.")


("As I continue to age alongside those I love, I am aware of the gentleness that it takes to continue growing and maturing, and the privilege of experiencing this progression... Holding awareness of the many aspects of life that bring darkness, I remain grateful for this innate ability to grow towards the light. May we all be supporting branch and shelter for each other in this journey.")


("Waking up to a heartfelt message sent by a friend who could not sleep, I pondered her gentle thoughtful words, steeped in gratitude and kindness, as I walked the dog up and down the hill in the darkness. My heart felt full, aware of the profound power of affirmation. When I left social work and my years with hospice, I vowed to cultivate this gift by practicing it in the present, having witnessed it proclaimed many times over at the end of life. I have been fortunate to experience the plunge through vulnerability that brings the joy of expressed sentiments. How fortunate we are to reflect to each other what we do not always see in ourselves, and to be enriched every single day by this collective of interdependent energy and love...")


("Holding space again for those in the tenuous place of proceeding to next steps, wishing abundant energy and the courage needed to persevere... Please send love, light, and prayers to my sister-in-law, brother, and their daughters, as they finally meet with the oncologist today... it is deeply appreciated.")


("This morning I slowly awakened from deep sleep, unaware for precious moments, that I had a body... I love to float in this vastness, untethered to time and space... it sings of the value of surrendering to the respite that all of our bodies, minds, and spirits need to flourish. This truth was reflected in the plan my sister-in-law received from her oncologist yesterday— every third week of her regime is to be rest. In this place of peace and pure intention, we invite healing...")


("Yet again, I am mulling over how the human spirit is able to regain composure and set new paths when abruptly swept off course... I often watch the birds fly over and between the hills where we live, finding the current of air that supports their flight with as little wing action as necessary... and witnessing how much harder those wings must work when storms are approaching and the wind interrupts their ease of movement. Like them, we too hold innate abilities to reorient in the face of adversity, and to find inner strength in ourselves that we may not have realized we had.")



"Abundance",  (5.5 x 8 x 6 inches)

One day, I was emptying vegetable and fruit rind into a well-tended compost pile of a friend, only to discover a vibrant  beauty of a plant growing directly out of the middle of the compost.  I had never seen this plant in my part of the country, and was mesmerized by the glorious gradation of color that existed on this single stalk.  Of course, I ran and got my camera, as if it were going to evaporate by the time I came back...

The seeds on it looked good enough to eat, although the artist whom I was staying with informed me that it was not edible and considered a weed, alluring as it was.  Well, I happen to have deep appreciation for things viewed as needing to be pulled out and discarded...

Carved one seed at a time, I mindfully pondered the carrying this refugee into another dimension, enjoying the slow and deliberate process. I was left with strands of papery outer leaves that needed some grounding, and was happy to have them wrap around and meet to create support and safe structure for this newly emerged being.

As I have continued creating these sculptures and working to strengthen their integrity, I realized that much of my encaustic sculpture process thus far has been to do so without showing how this integrity is achieved.  It occurred to me that this is a strong parallel to how we present ourselves out in society-- trying to keep what holds us together, below the surface.  And rather than hiding the hard work that goes into holding ourselves together,  we have the opportunity to share the importance of that role in our survival and blooming.

As always, I am grateful for the lessons that are taught to me through the making and sharing of art, deepening my self-awareness, as well as the gratitude of being connected with others.  May we all celebrate the thread and stitches that hold us together.