Friday, December 31, 2010

Why We Travel

When Traditions Become Stale

Christmas Eve, Santa arrived in the Houston airport buzzing around on a golf cart which was appropriately adorned for this auspicious day.  Having completed our extended family Christmas dinners and gift exchanges, we began a journey I have always wanted to embark upon.  Leaving town for Christmas, skipping joyously out on some of the Christmas traditions that frankly seem way more exhausting than fulfilling.   Our daughter suggested it, having what might be her last significant break as a full time graduate student.  Elated at the idea, it took some convincing for my husband to jump on board and our son initially was quite annoyed but thankfully everyone came around.  Scheduling our annual Christmastime party which we have been holding for over 20 years with some dear friends was challenging but we did it early and no one even missed the fact that we did not have a Christmas tree.

Deciding to visit Guatemala's Mayan indigenous people of Lake Atitlan, which is about and hour and a half from Antigua, sounded like the adventure we were looking for.  Through an article I had read in the New York Times this summer, I tracked down Markus and Laura of Magic Carpet Rides, who placed us with a Mayan family in San Juan La Laguna.  My daughter and I will be studying the relationship between Mayan arts and their spirituality with our host family.

So this idea of taking a break, a pause from traditions that have become stale and unsatisfying gives us the opportunity to breathe new meaning and purpose into the rituals within our lives. Occasionally letting go of well kept traditions and throwing caution to the wind with wild abandon can be another way to gather up that yummy inner phosphorescence that keeps our lives sparkling with aliveness and adventure.

As you begin to end 2010, take a few moments to remember with gratitude all the goodness of your year and note if there are areas in your life that perhaps need a bit of tweaking.

We found this bit of  wisdom from Sarah Susanka in December's Whole Living Magazine and wanted to pass this on to you.

The Year-End Review

The Past Year - How have you spent your time?  What were you grateful for?  What were your sorrows and disappointments, and how did they change you? What books, films, etc. moved you?

The Present - How are you different from the way you were a year ago? How can you integrate the lessons of the past year? Is there anything you're trying to force into existence right now? If so what would happen if you stopped?

The Future - What do you want to focus on in the coming year? If you could sum up your desires and longings in one simple statement spoken from the highest aspect of yourself, what would it be?

This is not a New Year's resolution - it's an antiresolution. We imagine we have to make things happen, but when we're clear about what we love, those opportunities come unbidden.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

$5,000 Grant Awarded for Sometimes Words Are Not Enough

Our staff worked very hard on the South Carolina Artists' Ventures Initiative Grant offered by our wonderfully terrific state agency, The South Carolina Arts Commission.  Our efforts were rewarded!

S.C. Artists' Ventures Initiative is funded by a major grant from Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a national initiative that works to improve conditions for artists, enabling them to more readily do their creative work and contribute to community life. As a part of this national initiative, the Arts Commission is drawing from and contributing to the research, resources, and tools being forged by the national network.

Three traveling exhibitions will be produced featuring the artwork created by oncology participants in our Insights into Healing programming.  Each exhibition will consist of 20 color reproductions of the original artwork.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We Found Our Inner Phosphorescence

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.  
Albert Camus

When we share our inner journeys with others, the more we find a commonality of what it is to be human.  Continually amazed at how the creative process forges deep bonds with others as well as within ourselves, we thought we'd offer you a few participant's wanderings and insights.  

After creating a series collages and wax resist water-color paintings, we stopped to really look at what we had birthed and asked questions of it.  What type of mood or atmosphere was portrayed?  What emotions were associated with the colors and shapes used?  Did a sense of place come to mind?   What colors and
shapes were used?  Forming these words into a vertical list, we then wrote down 4 or 5 immediate
associations with all of the words.  Circling 8 or so words that held the most interest or curiosity for the creator, these words were then linked with other parts of speech to form a wandering thought, a reflective paragraph, a surprising poem.

I am reuniting……..floating into continuance.
Always the passion, the transformation.
Joy from the past, peace from the future.
Giving over, giving all.


I AM life, itself,

I AM the essence
                             of Mary,
                                         light as a breeze
                                                                   accented by

I AM layered

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Become a Collector of Words, A Creator of Images...

Last Saturday, participants came from Atlanta, Charleston, Hartsville and Columbia to gather at the Columbia Museum of Art to pause from the hectic pace of life and delve into the creative process.   They came in search of inner phosphorescence, that glowing luminescent quality that enlivens and inspires the direction of our lives.  I Heard A Voice - The Art of Leslie Dill , an exhibition on display until January 23, 2011, was the catalyst for this workshop.
Leslie Dill calls herself a collector of words and she finds great inspiration and guidance from others, poets who eloquently weave words together into magical nuances of what it is to be human. Leslie takes words, poetic fragments and integrates them into powerful visual meditative "knowings".  

Emily Dickinson is one of Leslie's muses.  Emily loved words and phosphorescence was one of her favorites - "Now, there's a word to lift your hat to, to find that phosphorescence, that light within, that's the genius behind poetry."   I would say that is the genius behind all art and life itself.
Marion Woodman teaches us that the light within, that still small voice "burns away what is no longer relevant and gradually reveals our essence.  Until, at last, we are strong enough to stand in our naked truth."
Being able to dip in and out of the spacious galleries that are holding the artwork of Leslie Dill allowed everyone to become closer to that naked truth.  Leslie's work inspires that within us and encourages us to unearth, to find the courage to reveal the next layer of personal unfolding. 

Reading out-loud and silently reflecting on the words of poets such as Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, Pablo Neruda, RumiMarge Piercy...ushered our inner voices forward.  
Consider picking up a book of poetry and seeing which lines might sing to you.
Become a collector of  words...and images...and see where it might lead you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Finding Your Inner Phosphorescence

Last month, I had an unintentional retrospective exhibition at Benedict College that included works over a 20 year period.   It was unintentional in that I thought it was scheduled for 2011 not 2010 so I scurried around to gather up enough work for a cohesive show.   Dreading the thought of showing “old” work, I was delighted during both of my gallery talks that these young students were fascinated by many of my older works focusing on Lilith. 

Lilith, Adam's first wife had a strong individual voice and  definite opinions!  She was too much for Adam and he banished her from the Garden. These college students and I had lively insightful conversations about Lilith and how her powerful, strong, independent voice got her into trouble.  Lilith symbolizes what many feel our world needs more of today.

Inspired by this, I decided to revisit some of the archetypes of the sacred feminine.   This weekend I finished a painting for Vista Lights, entitled Lilith’s Reclaiming.   This idea of reclaiming and moving our voices forward continues to be relevant.  Our voices as individuals, as members of a community...when do we speak out-loud and when do we acquiesce our voice?   What causes us to fold inward, to loose trust in our uniqueness, our inner knowings?


This work by Leslie Dill, I Heard a Voice #1, prompts the viewer to root around for new ways of thinking about voice and hearing.  What are your associations with these words?  What kinds of outer and inner voices are there?  Can we use other senses to hear?  How are voices related to our soul?   Can we hear even though no words are spoken?  Can voices in our dreams have relevance in our lives?

Who are the poets, the dancers, the musicians, the artists who nudge you forward in life?
Mary Oliver is one of mine...

This Saturday we will explore the idea of moving our voices forward in the  workshop,  Finding your Inner Phosphorescence through Word and Image based on Lesley Dill’s Exhibition I Heard a Voice currently at the Columbia Museum of Art
The genius of others, their words, their poetry, fuels  Lesley Dill's creative fire, inspiring her, leading her closer into her own essence as well as inspiring her visual imagery.   One of Lesley's favorite poets is Emily Dickinson: 
"PHOSPHORESCENCE. Now there's a word to lift your hat to,
to find that phosphorescence, that light within, that's the genius behind poetry."  
That is the genius behind art.   The art of continual becoming. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Today is Day of the Dead

Did not get down to the 5-Points Fountain this Halloween weekend? Well give yourself a few minutes after you go to the voting polls today and visit our Autumn Remembrance.   Pause for a few minutes to remember...

Today is Dead of the Dead.  

Enjoy this website to see what is happening today in other parts of the Latin World.

Healing Icon's intern from USC's Moore School of Business is assisting me with strategic planning and marketing. Little did she know her interests in Entrepreneurship would lead her to create a Day of the Dead altar. 
Memorials and Offerings
Our 2010 Autumn Remembrance will come down tomorrow,
Wednesday morning, November 3
...many hundreds of candles were lit
offerings were left
stories shared
hearts warmed and comforted...

"There are two ways to live:
 You can live as if nothing is a miracle:
you can live as if everything is a miracle"
 Albert Einstein

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day of the Dead

Pumpkin Carving Contest
 at the 5 Points Fountain in Columbia, SC
Imagine the look on my family’s face last year when I suggested we start a new family tradition -  an annual feast to honor the dead.  Now I will tell you our children are twenty-somethings, our son married to a beautiful (inside and out) bright spirited young woman, our daughter in graduate school with a terrifically  accepting boyfriend.  My son’s left eyebrow cocked upwards as it does when he hears something a bit outlandish, but my family is rather used to this.  Over ten years ago, when I had returned from India, that Easter, in the mountains of North Carolina, we created prayer puja boats and floated them down a river.  The church nearby had just let out and the preacher eyed us bending down at the adjacent river and yes, he marched right over and questioned our actions and motives.  I, as a southern woman, was very diplomatic. My family knows me and they are good team players. This Sunday we will have our second annual feast.  You may wonder what caused me to conjure up such an idea.  Well, death has been a part of my life since I was 11 years old.  It has shaped my life in ways I never would have imaged….

We Southerners love Halloween.   It’s the occasion that marks the end of our relentless hot, humid summers.  If we’re lucky, we can finally say goodbye to the heavy moist summer air and say hello to crisp, fresh autumn breezes, sweaters, long pants, and pumpkins.

What delights you this time of year?

I delight in listening to the sound of leaves crunching beneath my feet as I walk, in opening all my windows before I go to bed, and in awaking each morning snuggled next to my husband under our cotton blanket.   We like to reminisce about the crazy costumes we’ve purchased over the years.  Anyone remember making your own costume? We think of candy and trick-or-treating. We adorn our homes and yards with witches, ghouls, skeletons, spiderwebs, and zombies. Halloween is a joyfully spooky occasion that allows us to be creative, take on new identities, and have fun!

This year, as the day light lessens and we move into more darkness, I hope you’ll also pause to remember the deeper meaning of this time year.

The 2000 year old Celtic tradition of Samhain, meaning summer’s end, celebrated the belief that at this time of year, the veil between the worlds are thin and transparent, allowing communication between the worlds.  Samhain gradually morphed into All Hallows, All Hallow’s Eve, Hallow E’en, and finally Halloween.  Remember that Hallow means “to make sacred or holy.”  The Catholic Church celebrates All Saint’s Day, and All Soul’s Day.  India celebrates Diwali, the festival of lights.  The Iroquois celebrate the Harvest of Corn and the Feast of the Dead.  Mexico celebrates a weeklong vibrantly colorful festival “The Day of the Dead."

What are all these celebrations about?

On the last day of October and the first few days of November, unconnected ancient cultures around the world have paused from daily life to celebrate death... yes, death.   These are universal timeless traditions that teach us what it is to be human.  We have lost the richness, the meaning, the value of these traditions in our hurried pursuit of commercialism. 

Along with the zany carnival aspects, the “shadow” needs a spotlight.
During the summer of 1963, my 6-year-old brother started having severe headaches. I remember the day he was admitted to Columbia Hospital. "Probably just eye strain," I was told. Well, I knew something was terribly, terribly wrong when my grandmother from Santa Monica, Calif., arrived to take care of me and my youngest brother Paul. Times were different then. Children were not allowed into hospitals, and parents did not talk to children about troubling subjects.

My brother never came home from the hospital. He died during an operation to remove a huge cancerous tumor in his brain. I was devastated and hurt and angry and silent. No one talked about "it," and "it" had all happened so fast.

How could I as a 9-year-old make sense of this? I remember crying a lot, alone in my bed at night. Time passed and the tears lessened but the deep sadness stayed.

Then in 10th grade, one of my closest girlfriends was killed instantly in a car accident. Again, no warning, no time to prepare, no time to say goodbye, no time to say sorry - and still, no one wanted to talk about "it" and my sadness etched itself deeper into my soul.

So death rooted itself deeply into my psyche. During most of my life I have thoughtfully reflected about death and life and the meaning of it all · alone. There was not a community for me to express my confusion, my anger, my questions.

Mexico gave me a community that wholeheartedly embraces death with vibrancy, thrilling explosions of color, wafting bitter sweet aromas of marigolds and spicy chocolate moles, and altars and shrines to the dead everywhere you look. It is a gloriously stunning feast for the senses.  Experiencing El Dia de los Muertos was a healing balm and ushered me towards the importance of taking the time to reflect on death, something our culture does not like to talk about.

Pondering death teaches me about living. It reminds me of the importance of quiet, of stillness, of tears, of remembering and of darkness. Death is an inevitable part of the process of living. To acknowledge what our ancestors have known for thousands of years - that this time of year the veil that separates this world from the other world is at its thinnest - and to take the time to ponder death can only enrich and enliven us as individuals and as members of a living community.

This year's fifth annual Autumn Remembrance will be held Saturday, October 30 through Tuesday, November 2 at the fountain in 5 Points.  

It will be available to the community day & night. You are invited to bring a candle, a flower, a photograph or an object symbolic of your loss and add it to our altar.   It is my hope this community remembrance will assuage and comfort while deepening your awareness and acceptance of the mysteries of life.

My Memories of  Day of the Dead in Oaxaca:
Smells of 
Pungent bitter sweet marigolds
Yeasty braided breads cooking
Spicy rich chocolate moles simmering
Smokey pine copal incense 
Candles burning

Visuals of 
Flowers, riotous and vibrant in color
Candies skulls and bones and skeletons…
Plastic table cloths, brightly patterned
Altars everywhere laddened with photographs, food, liquor, beer, cigarettes….
Graveyards filled with spend the night guests, drinking, dancing, feasting…sharing stories, poignant and real...

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Welcome to the Healing Icons blog! This page will highlight ongoing and upcoming projects of Healing Icons. Thanks for visiting