Monday, April 29, 2013

HOW WILL YOU GO ABOUT FINDING THAT THING WHICH IS UNKNOWN TO YOU?: Leaping into the mystery as a way of knowing!

LEAPING AS A WAY OF KNOWING. Portrait of me, Hallelujah, with Mother Mystery behind me (right), and Mother Turtle (center), like a full moon, guiding me. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)

Good Morning Pilgrims! As the month of April 2013 concludes for me here in Atlanta, Georgia, I am celebrating the GREAT LEAP

At the beginning of April, I established an open  Facebook Group, THE DAILY CREATIVE PRACTICE  (come join the group, here) and I explained (in this blog) that its purpose was to document our UNIQUITIES and share our creative processes. The past four weeks have seen this Facebook Group bursting with frequent postings and comments. Clearly all of us SOULS have a strong desire to connect through our CREATIVE PRACTICES!

So why is this blog entry titled, "How will you go about finding that thing which is unknown to you?: Leaping into the mystery is a way of knowing!? Great question!

GREAT MOTHER MYSTERY.  Part Guadalupe, part human woman in a hijab, part me, part of all of our feminine selves. (Art by Hallelujah)

Leaping has become my way of knowing. I am not alone when I jump. I have good companions who watch me and keep me orienting to my TRUE NORTH. None of us is alone! It is up to each one of us to find OUR TRIBE so that we can experience the vibrant connections that enliven us. 

Recently, in one of my leaps to enlarge the members of MY TRIBE, I began a book club on the topic of Brain Health and Creativity, and one of the members (Cecelia Kane) recommended that we read REBECCA SOLNIT's  A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST, 2005. It is a book filled with philosophical meanderings, and yes, you do get lost in the author's thoughts. I think you are supposed to! Here is a quote from the early pages of this guide to getting lost:

“Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, where you will go. Three years ago I was giving a workshop in the Rockies. A student came bearing a quote from what she said was the pre-Socratic philosopher Meno. It read, ‘How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?’ I copied it down, and it has stayed with me since.”

For me, as an artist, I am intrigued by this question asked of Rebecca Solnit by her student—how can we find something when it is unknown to us? (Read A Field Guide to Getting Lost to learn Solnit's answer.) Although it is pleasurable to BE HERE NOW, it also fun to pursue novelty—the unknown. Why? Because it makes the neurons in our brains pop and crackle, and we feel that we have grown. And, indeed we have and this growth is positive!

TA DA! LEAPING MORE.  Leaping has become a way of knowing for me. My art documents the progress of my SOUL. This image belongs to a group of images that were conceived last summer while listening to Clarissa Pinkola Estes and I was forming my world of my FULL PLANETHOOD. I believe I completed it yesterday, April 28th, 2013 while my Chiboogamoo was grading final exam. I love the big black question marks in this! I am learning to love the QUESTION! (Art by Hallelujah)

We are not alone! Thank you!
SUNDAY EVENING IN DECATUR, GEORGIA. We companion each other in our separate endeavors as often as we can. This past Sunday evening was complete working together after a meal of homemade chili and a growler of Terrapin's Tree Hugger beer. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what TRIBE you belong to! What leaps are you taking into the GREAT MYSTERY! And you are invited to join the Facebook Group, THE DAILY CREATIVE PRACTICE!

Friday, April 19, 2013


Hallelujah for dinosaurs and those of us who are intrigued by them! Hallelujah for me, an artist, blogger, and educator, who is fortunate enough to live with Chiboogamoo, who knows an awful lot about dinosaurs (He has written this book and is currently writing one called, Dinosaurs without Bones)! For me, it is delightful to live with images and studies of these animals which roamed this beautiful Earth millions of years ago. 

How is it that these animals hold POWERFUL sway over our imaginations? I can't answer this question, but I can PLAY with Mr. Green and Miss Brown, two plastic dinosaurs that my Chiboogamoo was given on his birthday this past week. Let's get started!
ANCIENT ONES USE MODERN TECHNOLOGY.  Hallelujah for dinosaurs, who are cooperative when using computers. Mr. Green and Miss Brown were helpful assistants when I wrote this blog about teaching children environmental stewardship using the arts. They bicker frequently, but, in the end, have many useful suggestions. They like commas, for example, and frequent coffee breaks. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
EVOLUTIONARY TREE OF DINOSAURS.  If you look closely, you can see Mr. Green and Miss Brown dinosaurs lounging in this pencil cactus plant that dwells in my bright cheery home. This photo is to remind us that we can explain the development of many animals today from dinosaurs by following a logical chain of thought. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

CAFFEINATED DINOSAURS.  I take joy in discovering something new every day about the brain and our ability to imagine (Jonah Lehrer). Additionally, I find great satisfaction in being in the good aggressive company of my dinosaurs, Mr. Green and Miss Brown, who refuse to limit themselves to one cup of coffee. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

SEEING WITH THE EYES OF A THEROPOD.  Is a theropod really a beast? Or is it a creature that has been sorely misunderstood from the human perspective? Here Mr. Green is explaining how he thinks I should plant the zinnias in the garden this summer. Not enough sun for tomato plants, however, he announces sadly. (photo by Chiboogamoo)
WALKING WITH THE DINOSAURS.  Some times in the morning after our coffee, I take Mr. Green out for a walk. He insists I wear good walking shoes that support my arches but are also cool and appropriate for this southern spring here in Georgia. He rarely wants to return inside. I adore his curiosity(photo by Chiboogamoo)

SERIOUS ART APPRECIATOR.  Mr. Green surprised me by understanding this image I painted entitled "Mother Earth, Mother Dinosaur." He seemed to understand that dinosaurs might have had a need to "den" occasionally and get a snuggle other dinosaurs. This painting is one of my favorites because it is a true collaboration of my marriage to my Chiboogamoo. He, along with two other colleagues, discovered a new species of dinosaur,  Oryctodromeus. This image illustrates scientific findings that juvenile dinosaurs denned with an adult dinosaur--that is, they had a family structure--more than 90 million years ago. (photo and art by Hallelujah Truth)
NAP TIME FIGHTS.  All I can say is don't nap with Mr. Green and Miss Brown. Napping with these dinosaurs is chaotic and noisy. And they don't share the pillow! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

SPEAKING OF EVOLUTION...Change seems to be one of the only constants in our lives. Here Mr. Green and Miss Brown (can you find them?) examine some of my books and audio books that I have been devouring in the past years. Unbelievable that our brains have plasticity and can keep changing. Thank you Norman Doidge! I believe in CHANGE and INVENTION, and LEAPING into the FUTURE (Thanks Clarissa Pinkola Estes)! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)


Today, I am participating in a class assignment for my class, BLOGGING FOR A WORLD AUDIENCE. The class chose 8 topics for photo and caption writing assignment through a "blogstorming" exercise. The goal is for everyone to take their own UNIQUE photos in keeping with their themed-blogs and post these photos in the same exact order so we could have a feeding frenzy when we posted them at the beginning of class today, April 19, 2013.  Most important objective? To succeed in expressing a VOICE specific to that blogger and blog!
BLOGGING FOR A WORLD AUDIENCE, SPRING 2, 2013,  at the Language Institute, Georgia Tech (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Many thanks to the blogging class of Spring 2, 2013, at the Georgia Tech Language Institute! You have been bold and stepped into using your imaginations. You have had breakdowns and breakthroughs! I celebrate you and your blogging futures! 

Thanks to my Chiboogamoo, who kindly took the photos of my eye and shoes!

 This photo was taken by me, but the cake was made by our dear friend, Lesly Fredman! So thank you!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

THOUGHTS ABOUT TEACHING ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP TO CHILDREN: Developing curiosity and connection through the messiness of creativity

Dear Pilgrims, I want to write to you today from the position of an artist who loves the environment and desires to use her engagement with CREATIVITY to promote environmental stewardship.

Today, I am documenting part of a presentation that I collaborated with Sandy Voegeli when we attended the First National Natural History Conference in the Bahamas in March 2013. 

What you see in the following images are the first 10 slides from our PowerPoint presentation. I place them here on my blog, Coffee With Hallelujah, to hold them in time so that others may read how a visual artist and a master diver (Sandy Voegeli) thought about teaching environmental stewardship to children.

Here is part 1 (slides 1-10):
CHILDREN BECOMING GUARDIAN ANGELS OF THEIR ENVIRONMENT.  The image you see here on this opening slide is from one of the children of San Salvador, Bahamas, who participated in the first Sea Camp in 2008. I was the visiting artist and developed this workshop with Sandy Voegeli.
SEA CAMPER ON THE ISLAND OF SAN SALVADOR.  This image was taken by BREEF during the 2012 Sea Camp at San Salvador, Bahamas. Getting kids out of the classroom and into their backyard makes a difference in how they feel about their environment and what they learn. 

CLASSES AT THE GERACE RESEARCH CENTRE.  Children of San Salvador, Bahamas, use the classroom facilities at the field station of the Gerace Research Centre during July, when most researchers find it too hot to do research. Their Sea Camp  experience is comprised of outdoor "field" experiences and supported by classroom lessons and activities. (photo by Sandy Voegeli)

EXAMINING HOW THE ENVIRONMENT HAS BEEN TAUGHT.  Educators are no longer seeing the classroom as a factory and their students as laborers who need to perform and complete tasks. This model is slowly changing. If we are to ask the children to find solutions to the current and future environmental problems, they must learn to think creatively. To ask new questions and find new ways of understanding our beautiful and amazing planet! What kind of education teaches that kind of innovative thinking? ART may be one of the avenues!
RESPECT THE ELDERS AND...Of course, we have so much to benefit from the wisdom of the past. Children need to listen to the stories of their addition to running ahead and feeling empowered to find new solutions. The educators' task today is to help children to be inquisitive. To use their imaginations as tools of discovery! And to find connections to the Earth. (photo by Sandy Voegeli)

FIRST LEARN HOW TO BE IN THAT ENVIRONMENT. For many Bahamians, the first step to learning about their  environment is to learn how to swim and snorkel. Oddly enough, many Bahamians, both old and young, don't go in the water and don't know how to swim. Once any of us know how to be safely in our environment and have settled any questions that cause us to be afraid of that environment, then we have been freed to ENJOY ourselves and the nature we inhabit. We can learn about it and thus connect to the water, the coral, and all the other living creatures.(photo by BREEF)

REALLY LOOKING.  A project that Sandy Voegeli did in at the Sea Camp 2012 was have the children take photographs of their own backyards for a photo competition. By participating in this activity, the children took time to look at plants and animals more closely. In the process they learned to identify characteristics and to assign names to what they were seeing. (photo by Sandy Voegeli)

CURIOSITY IN THE FIELD. Empower children to look, find, and ask questions when they are in their natural environments. Curiosity connects us all to one another and our environments. (photo by Sandy Voegeli)

IDENTIFYING, CONNECTING, AND SEEING. Once children have been outdoors, bringing them and asking them to look through books to find once again what they discovered outdoors is a great way to deepen the learning. Children learn about habitats and life-cycles. Ask the children to connect with a creature or plant and then to study it and draw it. This examination continues the child's journey of connecting with their environment. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)

CREATIVITY IS FULL OF "MESSY" DISCOVERY. Imagine classrooms in which failure is welcomed! Once engaged in the messiness of drawing, painting, acting, or taking a photo (any creative activity), children learn how to fail forward fast. Educators can encourage children to keep trying different approaches to discover what may work and produce a different more satisfying outcome. By supporting the process of doing something with uncertainty, we educators can teach children how to discover solutions previously unknown to any of us. We must let the children know that we adults do not have all the answers. That they as the FUTURE have new answers waiting to emerge. 

That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me how you connect to your environment and how you would teach children to be empowered to discover solutions to our Earth's troubled system.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Marianne O'Connor for her support, knowledge, and coaching surrounding the development of this presentation. Great appreciation goes to my beloved friend and co-presenter, Sandy Voegeli. 

To see another part of this presentation, THE GUARDIAN ANGEL PROJECT.

Monday, April 15, 2013


SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH. Dear Pilgrims! Where do we begin if we want to find the TRUTH that resides in our selves? In this image, I am holding the book of TRUTH (Yes, I AM the rabbit in the polka-dotted swimsuit!). As an artist, I have made the intangible, tangible in this drawing. (art by Hallelujah Truth)

Part of THE DAILY CREATIVE PRACTICE for me is to begin something. To get started by putting pen to paper. All that follows is up for grabs--revision, completion, celebration, elaboration, interpretation.... But I can't do any of those acts without BEGINNING!
IN THE BEGINNING IS THE DRAWING. Repetitive in theme, size of paper, and micron pen. Discovery? Holding the book of TRUTH! (art by Hallelujah Truth)

Last summer (2012) , AUSTIN KLEON's book, Steal Like an Artist, was published, and he enlightened us about "10 things nobody told you about being creative." Here  is how chapter 2 (Don’t Wait Until You Know Who You Are To Get Started) begins:
“If I’d waited to know who I was or what I was about before I started ‘being creative,’ well I’d be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it’s in the act of making things an doing our work that we figure out who we are.”
“You’re ready. Start making stuff.”
PLAYING WITH PHOTOSHOP. I am convinced that it is through the process of creating or doing that we get to know ourselves. Now, a part of my process is seeing what happens when I "wash" my image in photoshop. I can invert the color, posterize the image, and a whole lot more. The process of playing with my image in photoshop helps me think about new ways to draw and use color for the original image. (art by Hallelujah Truth)
How about you fellow pilgrim? How do you find the TRUTH of yourself? What action will you take today to discover who you are? What creative process can you engage in and SOUL BLOG with me about!
That's Coffee with Hallelujah!

Friday, April 12, 2013


FERTILITY. (art by Hallelujah Truth)
Greetings Pilgrims! I invite you to enter my inner discussion and the resulting images! Today, in this blog entry, I am speaking partially in the language of the Artist Conference Network (ACN)and posting the kinds of images that result from this kind of inventive internal dialogue.

I am the flowing center of the cycle of life and member of the dancing "yes" tribe. 

This is my "vision," a statement of who I am creatively, and it allows me to be a TRAVELER, a PILGRIM, a JOURNEYER! An artist, a blogger, an educator, a wife, and a cat mother! YES!

Today, like every day, I am circulating in the midst of creative possibilities! But each day is unique; therefore, this day, Friday, requires me to switch creative directions. YES!

As I relinquish the responsibility of planning a presentation on teaching blogging to internationals and return to my visual arts, I laugh, I hiccup, and I jump....YES!

I flip the verbal switch to the visual one. POP! SNAP! CRACKLE! It is done! Right now, I am the FLIP SWITCHER igniting flow of micron pen on paper establishing image. YES!

I welcome the familiar. I allow my hand to create or re-create what the current from my heart, brain, and soul dictate. YES!
DAY 1: RABBITS. Get ready, get set, go! When I set pen to paper after not drawing for several days, I didn't know what I would draw. Return to the familiar, I told myself. So I flipped the switch and without expectations began drawing the rabbit in the foreground. Okay! And the purple pen was out of ink, but I kept drawing with its scratchy faint impression. I followed up with a fresh black micron pen to develop the image. I completed this image in 15 minutes because that was all the time I had. Naming this image, "Fertility," I took it photoshop to give it some quick color. You can see those photoshopped images above above and immediately below. (artwork by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter)

DAY 2: MORE RABBITS. Today (Friday, April 12, 2013), I followed with a clear intention established from the work I did on Thursday morning. I knew I wanted to draw more rabbits in swim suits! This image above resulted, and as you see, it isn't very different from yesterday's image. The question is this: AM I IN THE FLOW? YES! Did I succeed in flipping the switch from the ESL work that I do? YES! I named this image, "Ready for Spring." See the photoshopped image immediately below. (art by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter)

Having FLIPPED the SWITCH, what else is possible for me today? What action can I take that will me move me forward in my creative journey? And, you dear fellow PILGRIM, what action will you take today for THE DAILY CREATIVE PRACTICE?

That's Coffee With Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me about anything regarding the imagination! 

Tell me what you think of my rabbits! YES!

Monday, April 8, 2013

A NEW VISION FOR MY CREATIVE MISSION! : I AM THE FLOWING CENTER OF THE CYCLE OF LIFE (Or the first work day at Mulberry Fields Community Garden)

FIRST WORK DAY FOR ATLANTA'S MULBERRY FIELDS COMMUNITY GARDEN AND GREEN SPACE.  On the first weekend April, members of Mulberry Fields Community Garden arrived to work on their garden plots and help repair garden frames, build a compost area, weed, and plan a fund raiser. (photo by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter and Mulberry Fields Community Garden member!)
Hallelujah for SPRING and feelings of RENEWAL! Hallelujah for the first work day of Atlanta's Mulberry Fields Community Garden and Green Space! Hallelujah for natural beauty that inspires us all to breathe more deeply and to expand our ways of BEING here on this Earth!

Every SPRING, as a drawer, painter, blogger, and long time member of the Atlanta Artist Conference Network (ACN), I re-examine my mission as an artist and CREATE a new vision for my work. Although I am currently taking a break from ACN, I have maintained the worthwhile work of establishing a VISION for 2013.

One's  creative SOUL is a bit like a garden, so I have taken the liberty of using the spring cleaning at Mulberry Fields Community Garden to introduce a similar event occurring in the field of my heart and artwork.

The photos posted here in this blog entry represent the steps I followed in spring cleaning my VISION:

Yes, first, there is the requisite WEEDING. What has grown that is no longer useful or needed? What needs to be extricated in order to allow new and surprising growth? 
Then there is the CLEANUP!
The PREPARATION of the soil!
Finding healthy PLANTS to grow!
CELEBRATING the planting!

WEEDING. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
MORE WEEDING. Lesly Fredman wrestles with mint roots deeply embedded amongst the raspberry bushes! My Chiboogamoo and I also spent some of the morning fighting with the mint roots! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
  • GENERAL CLEANUP. Richard Bathrick headed towards the chicken coop and goat quarters! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
READY FOR ACTION. Sophie, is very busy keeping the goats in order. Especially since yesterday, she received two more wards--2 one-week old baby goats! Behind her a long time resident watches all the attention being given to the new babies (see next photo)! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
IT TAKES A COMMUNITY TO RAISE A GOAT. Bella, one-week old, is not wanting to drink her milk. Jesse Bathrick, seated, holds Bella while Zoe attempts to position the bottle with its special goat nipple the way baby goat would have nursed from its mother. Chiboogamoo watches the procedure at a respectful distance. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
EVEN MORE WEEDING AND PREPARING. Community members can either take an entire plot of garden in half of one. Behind Jesse is someone putting finishing touches on the new area for composting! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
PLANNING THE PLOT. Matt Huffman, left, and Me, Hallelujah discussing where we will plant the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers. My honey and I will be sharing our half plot with Matt and Lesly. (photo by Chiboogamoo)
SELLING ORGANIC PLANTS. We were very lucky to have Nori from Urban Sprout Farms to come and sell Heirloom tomatoes and other organic veggies, soil amendments, and worms. If you want healthy food, you need to start with organically grown plants from their inception. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
THE CHICK-A-BILLY! We community gardeners are already looking forward to the summer solstice and lighting this metal sculpture that breathes fire. Can you see how it is part chicken and part billygoat? (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

After completing these spring cleaning and planting steps in my mind, this is the motivational statement I am planting in the garden of my for soul for 2013:

I am the flowing center of the cycle of life, member of the Dancing Yes Tribe--Mother Conch!

That's Coffee with Hallelujah! If you are interested in understanding what this vision statement means for me, SOUL BLOG me! Ask and I will explain! My question to you is this: What do you envision for yourself for this 2013 growing season? How would you express it in a phrase or sentence?