Wednesday, February 27, 2013

FEEDING THE SNAKES: The necessity of finding your voice and creating your dance

FEEDING THE SNAKES. What ideas, feelings, dance moves, or way of being of yours is longing to be expressed? Do those dreams and longings reside in your belly, churning and disrupting your sleep or work day? What do you need to do to feed these snakes? What action should you take? (Art by Hallelujah Truth)

To discover your authentic self you must be willing to abandon yourself--to YOURSELF!  It is through the BELLY HOWL and DANCE--tending to the snakes writhing in the pit of your stomach--that your VOICE and natural GRACE is discovered!

Hallelujah Pilgrims for mentors who share their well-traveled paths with us and by doing so “light” our way to explore and develop our own journeys!

Currently, MOVING or DANCING is my “coffee with Hallelujah” or my 15 minutes of creativity every day even though I am a dedicated visual artist. As I experience “moving” with the Dancing Flowers for Peace, the Dance Church, the Atlanta Wave, or by myself, I am discovering my dancing mentors.

Today, I would like to blog about what I have just learned from Cynthia Winton-Henry in the beginning pages of her book Dance—The Joy of Movement as a Spiritual Practice.

Why move? Why dance? Why sing? Here is my summary of Cynthia Winton-Henry’s “The Dancing Parable” or “Feeding the Snakes”:

It is a story about a woman who has a grumbling, churning stomach and cannot relieve herself of its pain or noise. While consulting a wise woman in her village, they both listen closely to her belly’s rumblings and are surprised to hear yellow-bellied snakes making demands to hear “their” song.

So…the troubled woman, determined to appease her disgruntled belly snakes, journeys to other villages, learns many songs and returns home without having found the song which would free her from the pain in her stomach.  The yellow bellied-snakes are not satisfied!
FEEDING THE SNAKES BY DANCING AND SINGING AUTHENTICALLY. Perhaps it takes the darkness of despair to thrust us into the magic of ourselves. When we have discovered that the resources available to us in the world are not enough to speak our truths, we must venture into the forest alone. It is there at this darkest, most fearful moment that we  fall into our true selves, and it is from this starting point, that we find many other ways to uniquely express ourselves.(Art by Hallelujah Truth)

After the woman discovers the same grumbling has begun in the belly of her oldest child, she rushes to the forest wailing, moaning, and thrashing about. During this outcry of duress, she discovers that each new movement and each new sound she makes with her voice pleases the snakes. They stop grumbling.  They are at peace.

From then on, as long as the woman attends to her snakes by singing and dancing in a way that is unique to her, the snakes stay quiet.

THE END (or beginning of dancing and singing)

There are some important take away ideas from this parable of feeding the snakes:
1) We all have a voice and a way of being that long to be heard, listened to, and expressed (the snakes).

2) When we ignore our inner voice and its natural expression outward, we harm our bodies (the snakes writhe in anguish).

3) Expressing our ideas in ways that follow traditional songs and dances does not satisfy our desire to experience our own authenticity (the snakes are not appeased).

4) We can trust our intuition joined with our life experiences to forge a “new” song and dance each moment, each day (the wailing, moaning, and thrashing worked for the woman because it was real).

And finally, the most important of all…

5) Who you are is good enough! What you have to say, sing, move or dance needs to be expressed; therefore,


That’s coffee with Hallelujah! Soul blog with me and tell me what you will do today to feed your snakes? Will you dance or sing?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

CHASING THE DANCE OF LIFE: Hallelujah studies FLOW through the movement of dance and mentors

HALLELUJAH FOR THE DANCE OF LIFE! Thank you to the mentors of movement in my life, Lesly Fredman, Lori Teague, Gabrielle Roth, Cynthia Winton-Henry! (art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for the celebration of life through DANCE! Although I have just started reading Cynthia Winton-Henry's book, Chasing the Dance of Life: A Faith Journey, I am delighting in Cynthia's splendid self-proclamation as being peculiar and different but fully HERSELF. 

At the beginning of her first chapter, "Fire in My Flesh," she shares a quote from Flannery O'Conner, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd."

It this TRUTH that I seek to find and practice. Who is afraid of BEING ODD?  Especially if this ODDNESS brings the comfort of self-knowledge and membership to the tribe of ODD-ONES! We ODD ONES are not alone after all (This thought makes me burst out laughing!).

As I spin about dancing "waves" in Gabrielle Roth's Five Rhythms, I am releasing life-long negative memories and current stresses both work related and personal. By dancing and releasing, I am opening myself to a new way of being and possibilities! This is FLOW!

In this FLOW, I am experiencing what Gabrielle Roth calls the Divine Feminine, which is comprised of the trinity: mistress, mother, and madonna! To help her readers and dancers embody this Divine Feminine Trinity, Gabrielle Roth provides "To-Do (or not to do) Lists" for creating parties for the mistress, mother, and madonna in her book, Sweat Your Prayers

Dear FELLOW ART PILGRIM, will you join me for a party celebrating the MOTHER? Here is Gabrielle Roth's "To-Do" list for the Mother Party:

"Give a party to nurture the senses. Invite your friends to dress in their most flowing attire and bring their favorite comfort foods and sweets--macaroni and cheese, chicken soup, blintzes, bread pudding, pies of all kinds.

As your guests enter, anoint them with scented oils. Play flowing sensual music. Set up a massage corner for foot and hand massage. Make sure you have incense, flowers, candles, refreshing liquids--everything you need to create a nurturing environment."
 --Gabrielle Roth, Sweat Your Prayers

FLOW OF THE MOTHER! (art by Hallelujah Truth)

I too am chasing the DANCE OF LIFE! That's Coffee with Hallelujah! Please RSVP regarding the Mother Party! I am looking to celebrate having found the TRUTH and want to commune with my tribe of ODD-ONES!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

FLOW FOR CONTINUOUS CHANGE: Moving our physical bodies propels our emotional centers to shift!

IN THE FLOW OF SELF. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)

"Flowing is the state of being fluid, of hanging loose and being flexible."
Gabrielle Roth of Five Rhythms

Hallelujah for FLOW!  Because when we are in the FLOW, we are connected to the rhythms of the Earth and continuous change!

"He not busy being born is busy dying."

I find that I am compelled to MOVE, and when I MOVE, I become something different altogether--I CHANGE. I FLOW. I am REBORN!

OUTER FLOW CREATES INNER FLOW. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
How mysterious and wonderful CHANGE is. For me, I have been evoking the mysteries of emotional, psychological, and intellectual CHANGE through the earthy pounding of my feet and frenzied poetic waving of my arms reaching to the heavens! I have been DANCING!

I have been DANCING waves through five rhythms, the first rhythm being FLOW!

Dancing FLOW propels me deeper into myself, cycling into my past, swirling into now, and becoming my future. However, CHANGE is challenging on many fronts!

Leaving the safety of predictability takes courage! And you will find that in the process of being REBORN, you are asked to explain your transformation to others. 
OUT OF FLOW, GOOD THINGS COME. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)

Yet in FLOW, after seeing the BELOVED in yourself, you become aware of the BELOVED in others. 


That's Coffee with Hallelujah! Are you in the FLOW? What dance will you do today to awaken your inner self and propel yourself to being REBORN?

MY FLOW. For now, MY FLOW feels so contained and private. Mysterious. Present. Curiously Active--like a woman in a hijab! As a visionary artist, I make my art to discover my inner being. My images speak to me, and we dialogue about the self that I am. These images inspired by the colorful scarves worn by my international students at the Georgia Tech Language Institute speak to me. Their faces peering at me invite me inside the mystery. How transformative it must be to travel to another country with a very different culture to study! How I admire these women and learn from them. As I dance the FLOW of the five rhythms, I, too, enter a new country and culture. How fantastic!  (Art by Hallelujah Truth)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

INVENTIVELY SPEAKING: Using language to propel me forward in a positive manner

BURKA MANDALA.  (art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for different manners of speaking about our lives. There are some days dear SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIMS that I feel negative about my perceptions and subsequent portrayals of my life in art. 

In recent days I have aspired to complete art works of mine done during the GRACE of my fifteen minutes of creativity every day when my repeated mantra is 


My ambition? To submit to the Women's Caucus for Arts of Georgia for an exhibition entitled "Moving Toward Abstraction" and showing at the Clarkston campus of Perimeter College.

Why submit? Why show work? I have no desire to sell my personal art. I do hunger for community, one in which I meet like-minded souls (the same reason I blog about creativity). 

BUT  RIGHT NOW every piece of art I create makes me wrinkle my forehead. "IT ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH." I think (This is not inventive thinking). 

I spend many hours hovering over my CREATION, longing to bring about the BIRTHING of a MIRACLE. I don't like my color choices (like the black and red image at the left), so I employ Photoshop to "invert" the image to transform the image into something OTHER and BETTER...something I didn't intend but which "happens" with computer software.

Therefore, I am in need of transformative thinking. How can I think INVENTIVELY (the language of the Artist Network Conference) and be MORE ME?

Let me step up to the task of speaking INVENTIVELY and propelling myself forward positively speaking!

Right now, my work is deepening both in meaning and in color. As I portray students that I have seen at the Language Institute at Georgia Tech in their burkas and hijabs, I fall into the mystery of BEING.

BURKA ME. Is the authentic self revealed through spontaneous color choices? Is it arbitrated through effort? Can a Photoshop program invert colors in a way that reflects more authenticity? Is meaning made in a random act or through intense effort?
I am the interpreter of world energy. I am the teller of stories. I tell stories of women who bridge cultures, share knowledge, and experience being themselves authentically in a new culture--even if that being is fraught with feeling strange, awkward, and transformative.

Speaking inventively, I am an artist who reads energy fields and takes dictation in form and color. I speak ME and I speak Other. And that IS.

IS enough. Do my negative feelings about what I create matter in comparison? I think not. Pilgrims, I create to BE and IS, is enough.

That's coffee with Hallelujah! Tell me what you think about speaking inventively! Do you think it is a valid way to move forward positively?

Monday, February 11, 2013

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE EXPLORES CRYSTAL PALACE PARK: South London Treasure of 19th Century Dinosaur Sculptures, Questions Art Depictions

ENTRANCE TO CRYSTAL PALACE PARK.  One might ask why a Triceratops, a Stegosaurus, and a sauropod, etc., are used on a wall mural to welcome visitors to Crystal Palace Park, home of the amazing Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins 19th century sculptures depicting ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and megalosaurus. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE'S PROPOSAL FOR A NEW WALL MURAL.  "Don't you think these images are intriguing?" asks Paleontologist Barbie. I think art should be used to awaken everyone's curiosity." She explained that she didn't quite get why Hawkins' images weren't used in the mural at the park's entrance, and showed me this quick sketch she made during her visit to the famous paleontological park. "They are just so so so unique," she exclaims! "I absolutely love them." (Art by Paleontologist Barbie)
 In May 2012, Paleontologist Barbie, my Chiboogamoo (a.k.a. Anthony "Tony" Martin), and I visited the United Kingdom, a great place to broaden our knowledge about paleontology as a science and how it is portrayed in art. Therefore, we visited Crystal Palace Park in south London to see a wonderful group of 19th century sculptures of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals created by artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins.

Hallelujah Truth: Can you tell me why it was so important for you and Chiboogamoo to visit Crystal Palace Park?

Paleontologist Barbie: Yes, I would love to tell you! Completed in 1854, these sculptures were the first such pieces that attempted to recreate dinosaurs, Mesozoic marine reptiles, and large Pleistocene mammals. So they have artistic, historic, and paleontological significance. For me, and anyone else for that matter, this visit to Crystal Palace Park was a big deal.

DINO-TOURISM IN LONDON. Taking the Underground train to Crystal Palace Park was easy for Paleontologist Barbie, and after minding the gap when alighting on the platform, she turned to the right and saw the sign pointing to the sculptures. “This way to the paleo-art!” she told anyone who cared to listen, while pointing the way. (Photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
DINOSAURS, ART, AND HISTORY—A DAY IN THE PARK. Paleontologist Barbie is awestruck by the concrete behemoths set on an island in Crystal Palace Park. “Wow, look – it’s the original depictions of Hyaelosaurus, Plesiosaurus, Ichthyosaurus, Megalosaurus, and Iguanodon!” she rattled off, impressing everyone around her. Only she’s not here to impress, but to learn. (Photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
MARY ANNING WOULD HAVE LOVED THIS DINO-TERRIFIC PARK. The sculpture of Ichthyosaurus, a large marine reptile from the Early Jurassic Period, had emotional significance for Paleontologist Barbie. She had just visited the Natural History Museum of London only two days before, which had many ichthyosaurs discovered by Mary Anning (one of her heroes) on display. “Whoa, what’s with the weird tail?” she exclaims, noting one of the anatomical inaccuracies of this artwork. “But I guess I shouldn’t be one to talk about unrealistic proportions,” she later admits in a moment of self-reflection. (Photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
LOVING THE MULTI-SYLLABIC NAMES. “Teleosaurus!” she says upon recognizing their crocodile-like forms. These works are fairly accurate representations of Middle Jurassic marine reptiles that lived in the same seas as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. “Huh, looks like the one on the left is happy to see the other one,” she notes with Freudian undertones. (Photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
QUOTING FROM DICKENS ON DINOSAURS. Upon seeing the statue of Megalosaurus, a Jurassic theropod dinosaur (which also was the first formally named dinosaur) Paleontologist Barbie taps into her inner English major and quoted thusly from Charles Dickens’ novel Bleak House (1853) "As much mud in the streets, as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill.” This was one of the first uses of a dinosaur as a literary metaphor, and as a renaissance kind of gal, you could bet that Paleontologist Barbie would remind people of this connection between science, art, and literature. (Photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
DRAWING HELPS ME TO REALLY SEE. Paleontologist Barbie explains that she loves drawing while in the field because it makes her stop to examine what she is looking at, and allows her to "see" more deeply. "Besides," she says, "I like adding my own flair and style when I draw. I depart from science, but have so much fun!" (Photo by Hallelujah Truth)
IGUANAS ON STEROIDS? The two Iguanodon statues also amaze Paleontologist Barbie, as these recreations are very different from what Iguanodon – an Early Cretaceous ornithopod dinosaur – actually looked like. Complete skeletons of this dinosaur, which in 1825 was the second formally named dinosaur, were discovered in Belgium in the 1870s and 1880s, and helped to correct the mistaken view of this dinosaur as an iguana on steroids. “Hey, it’s art: deal with it!” she says to paleontological purists and pedants everywhere. (Photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
UNDERSTANDING GEOLOGY JUST MAKES THE WORLD SO FASCINATING. Paleontologist Barbie is temporarily distracted by a geological display in the park, an outcrop of coal, sandstone, and shale with normal faults. A normal fault is often caused by tension (pulling apart), which causes rocks to bend and then fracture, with each block of rock sliding down the fault planes. “Look, it’s not my fault those rocks are broken, it’s normal!” she says with delight at her use of geo-puns. (Photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
MARVELING AT PALEO-MAMMALS. One of the most impressive non-dinosaur sculptures at Crystal Palace Park is of a giant ground sloth from the Pleistocene Epoch, Megatherium, here caught in a blatant act of tree-hugging. “I think you need to find another tree if you want to get some dinner, buddy!” she calls out helpfully. (Photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
WOW. Sculptures of the giant Pleistocene Irish elk (Megaloceros) likewise make imposing figures on the grounds of Crystal Palace Park. “Yo, check out that rack!” she says with a deep, macho voice, cracking herself up. Little does she know, her statement is taken seriously by the European Union and is later written into the script of a video purportedly promoting science to young girls(Photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
Hallelujah Truth: What did you like the most about seeing the dinosaur statues in situ on an island?

Paleontologist Barbie: I not only loved how they were arranged on an island surrounded by water, but also how some of the non-dinosaurs are in the water. Plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and crocodile-like animals are shown in what he thought were their natural habitats.

Hallelujah Truth: What can the average person learn by visiting Crystal Palace Park?

Paleontologist Barbie: They can learn how science and art often change together through time. These artworks are based on thoughts about prehistoric animals in the 1850s, and today, we have very different art showing the same animals. The fossils stayed the same, but our views of them changed. Artists help us scientists visualize our thoughts about fossils. That's why I like to keep my "artist" muscle in shape!

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE FLEXES HER ARTISTIC MUSCLE. "I like being controversial!" she explodes in laughter. "I'm proposing that Crystal Palace Park change its entrance wall mural to something like my sketch!" I think young budding paleontologists will be inspired by these images! We cheat children by using repeated stereotypical images. They are so capable! Let's give them intriguing images and get them asking questions! (Photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah Truth: Has this given you any additional insights about how art and science are used together to reach out to the public?

Paleontologist Barbie: Sure! I mean, if you look at news stories about a new fossil find, almost every one of them has some pretty picture, like an artistically arranged photo of the fossil itself, or an artist's recreation of the fossil as a living plant or animal in its original environment. You can even see how art is used at the entrance of Crystal Palace to lure park guests in to visit the statues, even though it uses more mainstream images of dinosaurs.

Hallelujah Truth: Have you been inspired by these Crystal Palace Park creatures?

Paleontologist Barbie: Definitely! Wouldn’t it be fun to see the statues of Iguanodon and Megalosaurus fighting? Or the ichthyosaurs or plesiosaurs going for the same fish? I would like to see these sculptures interacting with one another instead of how they are shown now--isolated and not even looking at one another.

Hallelujah Truth: Is there anything else that you wanted to do while you were at Crystal Palace Park?

Paleontologist Barbie: Yes! It would have be such great fun to get out to the island and actually climb on the statues! (She giggles a loud TEE HEE!) How cool it would be to get on the back of a Megalosaurus or an Iguanodon. But I understand that they can’t have people going out there. I guess I could have asked for permission, but I don’t think the British government even knew I was in the country.

NOT JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE PARK. As the sun sets on Crystal Palace Park, Paleontologist Barbie bids adieu – or rather, cheerio – to these iconic sculptures, and thinks wistfully about how far paleontology as a science has progressed since the 19th century and in the place where much of it started, the United Kingdom. (Photo and caption by Anthony Martin)
COLLEAGUES. (photo by HT)
 Acknowledgments: As always thanks to my Chiboogamoo, aka Tony Martin, who channels the spirit of Paleontologist Barbie after drinking two beers! His enthusiastic and sincere support of women in science deepens my own commitment to learning more about the science of the world surrounding me. 

Thanks to Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins who envisioned and made these terrific sculptures from the findings in the 19th century! They are thrilling to see in the 21st century! Time keeps marching into the future!

Paleontologist Barbie Willingly Sacrifices Her Winter Holiday to Deepen Emory Students' Understanding of the Concepts of Uniformitarianism on San Salvador, Bahamas at Gerace Field Station. Paleontologist Barbie gets a kick out of snorkeling in modern reefs in the morning and looking at fossil reefs in the afternoon and much much more...

Paleontologist Barbie Pursues Professional Development at 2011 Society of Vertebrate Paleontologist (SVP) Meeting in Las Vegas, Utah, USA. 
Paleontologist Barbie sees exciting tracks and a really cool dinosaur sitting trace in addition to exchanging knowledge with fellow colleague paleontologists. "Professional development is more important than Halloween parties," Paleontologist Barbie was heard saying out in the Utah desert.
Paleontologist Barbie goes to St. Catherines Island to examine reptile burrows.

Paleontologist Barbie explains her understanding of evolution by looking at the "Selections" art exhibit at Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta, Georgia. Specifically, she provides her interpretation of the importance of art done by Chiboogamoo and Hallelujah Truth.

This is the first interview with Paleontologist Barbie! It is a must read!
CREATIVE CONSULTANT. While envisioning the art made by Paleontologist  Barbie, I am giving moral support and much inspiration from the feline caretaker of our household--Tao! (photo by Chiboogamoo)