A very brief re-cap on my life: I'm a newly converted artist. In June or July of last year, 2014, I began to paint. What sparked my enthusiasm were a number of events. I received the confidence from a Croatian spiritual man just by looking into his eyes. This may sound crazy, but each person can make h/er own conviction. Braco. This inspiration I received through his gazing sessions urged me to go out to a store and buy paint and paint brushes, and to take a painting class online. The second event was my birthday in September; I turned 50. Yes, half-a-century years young! When I passed by this lifetime milestone, I realized that it's time to do what I've come here to do, and part of it involves artistic expression.

Do you ever get the feeling that you could do more for the world, for the people around you? I do. This is why I pray for a lot of people, take in spiritual power for their healing, for the improvement of their lives, for their country, their life situations. This is part of what I do in this world. I feel the deep inner knowledge and certitude that they will be helped by the strong Divine helper.

And so I embarked on my 100 Paintings Challenge last year. I just painted painting number 53, I think. No, I didn't set a time limit to paint a bunch of paintings. No, this is not a compulsive addiction as some may think. It's only for myself. It is a measurement. A gauge. An art teacher on YouTube told me (in her video) that if you want to get good, you must at least paint 100 paintings. And she said that they will invariably be ugly. Ok. Well, I want to participate in life. I want to practice. I want to take action. Wisdom tells me that if development and maturity are to be in my art, then practice must be pursued. As a professor once told me, "Susan, you would have made a better grade if you had studied." The story of my life. Of course I'd improve if I apply myself! Ha! Master of the obvious...but there lurked something deep down, beneath the veneer surface that wanted to keep me from excelling. This gazing thing helped me confront that darkness.

And these past six weeks while my dear husband was away, I decided to take to heart some good art practices through art journaling. These are not art lessons, as in classical painting, This is artistic expression. There are no "rules" of art, as it is a form of expression that takes place in a journal with multimedia...gluing little pieces of paper, scribbling with different kinds of pens, pencils, using stamps, tearing and cutting pages, writing personal feelings and then covering it all up with different layers of paint and the above mentioned multimedia bits. Their motto is that there is no wrong way. And people's journal spreads are amazingly beautiful. 21 Secrets.

This was a cathartic experience for me. I lived and breathed art. I was at "Summer Camp!" Two teachers in the wonderful line-up of 21 teachers facilitated a “deeper awareness” kind of approach to art. Interesting things manifested on my journal spreads. One teacher asked us to tune in to our body and create an image that is given to us by our beautiful body and spirit, and then create a dialogue with it while putting it down on paper. Ok. I did this. How fascinating to see what ended up on my pages. A large group of people. Faces. After I finished, I started to recognize faces of people I knew. Some people I didn't recognize. I posted it to my social media page. Friends started to see themselves! Another teacher modestly yet boldly tore up pages of art she liked, and recycled it to form a new art journal page. She said, "The way we approach art mirrors the way we live our lives. Non-attachment to the outcome..." is a good approach. I was bowled over!

Of course! We must take risks and be bold, yet walk lightly. We make peace with the inner critic and rectify old concerns. There are a lot of things that are currently happening in my life, a lot of Good change. Some surprising events that cause me to go to my closet to pray, to take in spiritual power for friends and family, for a good outcome. Balance is important in every area of life. I feel as though I am playing "catch up" with my artistic development, among other things. Yes, I'm one of those people who was a little retarded, a late bloomer in her learning due to life events and the “fallout” that ensued. I use these words with gentle humor. It's good to tell the truth, because I have nothing to hide. I'm still picking up pieces from childhood. Artistic expression seems to move mountains in this regard.

And I have a confession to make, and I'm putting it in the past tense, because it's about something that I've already let go: I somehow convinced myself that I didn't like to sketch or draw faces. This has changed, and now I find it even pleasurable. And sometimes people look the same on my paper as if they are standing before me.

So I focus on one part of the painting and I paint until I like it. And then another part of the painting and paint until I like it. And so on. Kind of sounds like life, doesn't it? We make small advances in one area or another until we have an order that feels good and works with everything else; then we continue to the next area. Relationships improve. Our closets get cleaned. Our kitchen organized. Bank account balanced. Spending time, we slowly make improvements little by little on this golden path to the light. And how grateful I am to be alive right now. Thank you!