Sunday, May 30, 2010



“Do what you love,” my friend Luis advised me, “and you will stop time.”

I imagine myself swimming at a spring in Florida, where the manatees gather for warmth once winter begins. It is here that these marine mammals roll over on their backs to let humans rub their stomachs.


Luis died one week ago…the ultimate time stopper—DEATH. Yet what Luis had meant about STOPPING TIME was something profound. STOPPING TIME meant LIVING in the INFINITY of the present moment. Luis excelled at LIVING. When I met him, he was a frequent dancer of everything: merengue, salsa, swing. He soon took to skydiving. Then he learned to fly airplanes. Next, he became an avid golfer. From that he dove into martial arts. Most recently, he had been getting immersed in the world of photography. All along, he was a talented musician playing both the keyboard and guitar.

 “DO WHAT YOU LOVE,” Luis said, and he lived his advice, engaging others with him in a Tom Sawyer like fashion. What will everyone do without Luis?

I imagine myself a FLYING FISH thrilling in both water and air, BEING IN THE MOMENT OF MOVEMENT. It was Luis who got me MOVING almost 12 years ago. I was 40, and my long term Russian boyfriend had disappeared into another relationship. I was unmarried and childless, fretting about my biological clock ticking away furiously.

“DO WHAT YOU LOVE and YOU WILL STOP TIME,” Luis had said. I followed Luis’ advice. I joined the Atlanta Bicycle Campaign to pursue my interest in conservation and physical health. I started attending the Unitarian Church to seek answers about the GREAT MYSTERY. I signed up with the Jungian Society to deepen my understanding of archetypes. Every weekend, I collected friends to soirĂ©e at art exhibits. I broke up the status quo of my life and made new friends. These friends intersected with other friends. TIME PAUSED for me. I was purely involved in MY OWN LIFE. Then I found my Chiboogamoo, my precious, precious husband.


Thank you Luis, for the way you connected with me and gave me what I needed. You HEARD me, and you shared with me what you knew about LIFE.

THE GREAT MYSTERY: LIFE ENDS SUDDENLY regardless of our intention. We need to make sure we LIVE our lives NOW. We are simultaneously fragile and resilient. TAKE TIME to DO WHAT YOU LOVE.

 Hallelujah invites you to tell her what is that stops time for you. SOUL BLOG now.

We enter the GREAT MYSTERY. 
We are not alone...

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Dear PILGRIMS, here in Atlanta, the seasons are changing. The sweet balminess of spring is quickly evaporating as summer approaches. CHANGE IS INEVITABLE. This evening when daylight lingers on the horizon well past the dinner hour, many of us PILGRIMS are mourning the loss of a dear friend.  Luis Caamano, only 46 years old,  died on this morning, May 23, 2010.


Many of us suspect that his SPIRIT has paused momentarily among us--that he hesitates to leave us because we are not ready to let him go. As we speak of him, there is laughter and there are tears.


WHERE DO WE GO WHEN WE DIE? What is the destination for Luis? For Hallelujah, this question is the GREAT MYSTERY.

In recent years, I have chosen to think of this GREAT MYSTERY as a divine feminine force. In order to breathe life into this abstract idea, I have searched for “female figures” that “hold” this MYSTERY for me. These drawings, watercolors, and photos that you see here are my explorations on this topic.

 Again and again, I am drawn to the young Muslim women who dress modestly and wear hijabs. As a teacher of English as a second language, I have the privilege of becoming acquainted with these young women in my classroom and the hallways of our Language Institute at Georgia Tech. I also teach art at the Global Village School in Decatur.

Often it is the “unfamiliar” that holds the MYSTERY. Seeing their upturned faces carefully draped by yards of fabric as they ask a question. Watching them drift from classroom to classroom, their ankle length skirts or long coats floating behind. Observing their forms, sitting next to one another on the couches sharing cakes and tea, their faces and hands visible.


What is KNOWABLE? What is UNKNOWABLE? When do we ever truly KNOW someone or something? Is a young female student dressed in a hijab more difficult to KNOW than one dressed in a mini-skirt and tank top? Is it because these students in hijabs pray five times a day facing Mecca that I look to them for some kind of amorphous answer to the major questions of LIFE?

 I do know that CHANGE IS INEVITABLE. But what makes for a GOOD DEATH? Did my friend Luis die well? For those of us left living, what makes for a GOOD LIFE--especially when we see that our lives can be suddenly wrenched away from us as was Luis’ when he had his sudden heart attack.

On my PILGRIMAGE, I seek the GASP of discovery. I stand in AWE of the unknown. I look for the MOTHER, that divine feminine force which I believe will help me comprehend something I only vaguely sense is out there beyond me. I imagine SHE is the GREAT MYSTERY.

FELLOW SOJOURNERS, what do you KNOW about LIFE and DEATH? What can we KNOW with certainty? Share your thoughts with Hallelujah. Meanwhile Luis, I will look for your shining eyes out there in the darkened night sky among the constellations. You loved us all and we loved you back. We will love you always.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

STRATA OF SELF: Not Good, Not Bad

Judgment? Nonjudgment? Acceptance? What kind of PATH are you JOURNEYING on? Do you allow yourself to BE? Does BEINGNESS occur naturally or is there a PRACTICE required—a way of listening to ourselves gently, taking in what we are thinking, feeling, and doing?

Welcome FELLOW PILGRIMS to MY ARTFUL JOURNEY, one that unwinds for me each day. Having just completed a writing workshop with Natalie Goldberg, in Charleston, South Carolina, I am repeating to myself, “Not good. Not Bad. Just is.”

With this PRACTICER OF ZEN, who wrote the book, “WRITING DOWN THE BONES,” we did numerous 10-minute “digs,” excavating layers of ourselves responding to writing prompts “I remember,” “ I don’t remember,” “I’m thinking of,” “I’m not thinking of.” We stacked each layer of ourselves in our notebooks one after the other. My Chiboogamoo, paleontologist extraordinaire, would have marveled at the STRATA OF SELF we accumulated. 

Then Natalie, WELL TRAVELLED SOJOURNER, asked us to read OUR BONES (writing) out loud to witnesses, who were to “recall” our words non-judgmentally. As we extracted the writer’s bones (words) from our memory and spoke them aloud, all of us were to repeat silently to ourselves, “Not good. Not bad. Just is.”

Done daily, this kind of structured “writing and reading out loud to a nonjudgmental listener”—even if that listener is the individual pilgrim’s self—is what’s called a WRITING PRACTICE.

WRITING DOWN THE BONES, which was published in 1986, shattered the previous writing paradigms. This ZEN PILGRIM emphasizes the PROCESS of writing, not the FINISHED PRODUCT. In an ongoing PROCESS of writing (journey), you listen to the knowledge of your body--that deep knowing each one of us possesses. This knowledge is not good, not bad--it just is.

Take a breath. Write. Breathe. Write. These words are leaving a breadcrumb trail to YOUSELF, PILGRIM. As our breathing ANCHORS us to THE NOW, so does our writing. WRITING is BEING.

Hallelujah inhaled the TEACHINGS of this WELL TRAVELLED SOJOURNER. H A L L E L U J A H ! My daily practice of drawing and painting—NOT GOOD. NOT BAD. JUST IS.

The kangaroos depicted here are from two sources. First, they hold my memories of watching aboriginal dancers become THE KANGAROO from their DREAMTIME in performances in downtown Melbourne, Victoria in 2006 during the Commonwealth Games. Second, they merge with my long observations of the actual marsupial, as I traveled across the vastness of the Australian continent with my Chiboogamoo. Breathe.

My daily practice, my STRATA of SELF yearned to speak of my Australian observations and the hold DREAMTIME has on me. NOT BAD. NOT GOOD. 

Recall for Hallelujah your STRATA of SELF. Breathe…

Saturday, May 8, 2010



 WELCOME Dear Pilgrims, Hallelujah acknowledges YOU for YOUR JOURNEY. What else would you like to be acknowledged for?  Have you made a CONNECTION between your mind and heart? Are you living your PASSION? Do you SMELL the coffee brewing and the nag champa incense floating around you? Where are you in your ODYSSEY today that is DIFFERENT from yesterday? Is the fabric of your life velvet, velcro, bamboo, or river stones?

 The affirming poetic words that begin this blog were written by a fellow member of the Artist Conference Network (ACN) in response to my artwork. At the conclusion of showing our creative work every two weeks, we ACNers write “love notes” to one another sharing our responses to not only the work but also to the artist’s intentions for the work.

 These ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS from our sister and brother artists follow our OWN ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS of ourselves. In ACN, we learn to make distinctions in language and how to talk about our work and ourselves inventively and positively. In fact, we PRACTICE using language to soothe, construct bridges, and to imagine new possibilities, Our intention is to support the creative journey--not to judge it as right or wrong.

 In HALLELUJAH’S PILGRIMAGE, there is NO SPACE for the CRITIC or CRITIQUE. Teachers, fellow artists, collaborators, mentors, lovers, peace holders, felines, friends are invited to SHARE THEIR PASSIONS, HEARTS, and JOURNEYS. I “present” my visual art as an ARTIFACT of MY JOURNEY—and I am the AUTHORITY of my journey.

 Hallelujah invites, teases you, implores you, and beckons you to intermingle your journey, authority and expression with hers. What do you KNOW? FEEL? How do you EXPRESS the process of YOUR LIFE? SHARE that journey here for all of us pilgrims to experience.

 I acknowledge you for your BEINGness. Your YOUness. For being here reading MEness!

 I will say farewell by sharing another ACN love note to me:


Present each morning

1,000 miles into an unknown journey

souls finding you

images that reflect your consciousness

I am warmed by the colors;

My sorrow is seen by eyes that also love.


Sunday, May 2, 2010


Hallelujah invites you to speak the language that expresses your longings, your dreams, your most cherished thoughts and hottest concerns. What would that language look like? Would you speak in images of angels, musical notes, ocean waves, or erupting volcanoes? Would your HEART burst forth in subtle sounds like chirping birds nesting at night or exuberant ones similar to singing in the New Year with Auld Lang Syne?


SPEAKING YOUR HEART might start emerging as a toe tap or clapping of hands. Twirling yourself around and around  could become a spoken heart dance. You may start mixing up batter for a chocolate cake or smoothing out the clean scented laundry from the dryer.


Perhaps SPEAKING HEART is more a matter of communicating the energy of your HEART in everything you do. Do you SEE yourself expressing ALL of you in each action and thought?


Speaking Heart for Hallelujah is listening to the rhythms of her pulse, experiencing the neuron sparks popping and crackling in her brain, inhaling the scent of spring rain on the city’s pavement, listening for something inside the crow’s distress call, and searching for what remains after the new feline runs away.


For me right now, IMAGES are emerging as I repeat the statements I heard the indigenous artists in Northwest Australia saying as they painted in ochres, reds, blacks, and yellows:  “My Mother’s Country.”  “My Father’s Country.” I whisper these statements to myself wondering how the territories of self emerge in the images I put down on paper. I ask you my fellow sojourning artists--What comes to our art (and heart) through our upbringing and the psychological chemistries and presence of our parents? MY MOTHER’S COUNTRY…MY FATHER’S COUNTRY….


I think of the vastness of the Australian continent and how the Aboriginals’ spirituality and sense of who they are come from their land.  A painting of their parents’ land HOLDS the idea of mountain, water hole, kangaroo track while also profoundly expressing their past, present, and future.


When do parental countries become the COUNTRY of the child? I am drawing to envision to CREATE my country. I wonder if it is possible to become more than the territory of your upbringing. I SPEAK HEART when I AM SPEAKING MY COUNTRY.


Hallelujah wants to know the language of your heart. What does it sound like? What does it look like? I invite you to sip your coffee with Hallelujah and tell her what you see FELLOW PILGRIM. Blessings to YOU ALL.