TRIBE Tuesday: Jennifer Currie

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For today’s Tribe Tuesday post, I’m happy to share a story from Jennifer Currie, who took my e-course in May. If you are inspired to join in the five-week painting adventure, registration will remain open through this Friday!


Jennifer’s Story…

The first time I heard of Flora Bowley was when a friend sent me the link to her Bloom True Course {May 2014}… a couple of days before it began.  The words “Intuitive Painting” got my attention instantly because they combine two things I am passionate about:

Learning to listen to my inner wisdom and allowing myself to express creatively.

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I earned an M.A. in Art History in my 20’s, but it took me years to realize that I was truly happier making art than studying it.

I had made a commitment to having a creative life over 10 years ago, but I was still keeping it small.  I had started a business as an Intuitive Life Coach and incorporated my creativity in the form of Spirit Portraits, but I felt like the business side of things was keeping me at my computer far more than in my studio.  I was having fun on that path, but felt a little out of balance at the same time.

Art by Jennifer Currie before the Bloom True e-course

Art by Jennifer Currie after the Bloom True e-course

Flora’s class instantly spoke to my spirit, and the minute I signed up I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas.

I couldn’t wait, even though I knew it was going to stretch me into new territory. Before this class, my work was primarily watercolor/pen and ink illustrations.  It was a big leap going from my small, detailed paintings to large canvases, finger-painting and tons of layers. However, from the very beginning I was in heaven.

It has only been a few months since Bloom True began for me, but I feel like it has led me to discover more of my creative self.  My art has shifted dramatically, and I’m transformed as person.  There have been so many gifts from this class, and more keep emerging.  I have completed almost 10 paintings since I began, moved my studio into a larger space, and started selling my work.  Mostly, I feel like I have bloomed into owning and valuing my creativity.

Simply put, I love myself more.

I think there was a part of me that didn’t feel like a “real artist” in the past.  I don’t feel that way now.  I want to share what I’m creating because I am so happy doing it. I’m incredibly grateful for Flora’s inspiration and teaching.

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Thank you, Jennifer, for your heartfelt words and reflections on your Bloom True experience.  We absolutely love hearing from you all!

Inspired to share your OWN Bloom True experience?  We are always collecting new stories for our TRIBE Tuesday blog series.  Please submit your stories and images to us at: assistance@florabowley.com

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Bloom True Boot Camp: Final Prompts + E-course Winners!

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Welcome to our final two days of Bloom True Boot Camp…woohoo, YAY, we did it!

I want to thank you so much for joining me on this month-long creative journey.  What started out as tiny flash of inspiration during a swim in a lake turned into such a beautiful and inspiring creative global adventure.

Your posts, pictures and reflections have brought me so much joy and reminded me (once again) how powerful it is to join together with like-hearted people dedicated to their creative paths and waking spirits.  {{THANK YOU}}.

In the spirit of gratitude and celebration, may I present our two final Boot Camp Prompts and the announcement of our Bloom True E-course winners!

Please note:  The entire Bloom True Boot Camp experience is now available for LIFE in a gorgeous 38-page downloadable PDF!  Click HERE for more info.

September 29th : Give Thanks

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There is a great quote by David Steindl-Rast that offers a beautiful perspective on the subject of gratitude and joy.  He wisely states…

It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.

I believe making this simple yet profound distinction offers some serious insight into the power of gratitude.  Understanding that gratitude is a choice and an action gives us the power to create our own joy.

The action of choosing to practice gratitude focuses our attention on what is already working in our lives.  By doing so, we shift our conscious thought away from what we lack, while inviting in a feeling of contentment.  In this way, gratitude is simply about acknowledging what we already have.

Often the most challenging part of practicing gratitude is the practice itself.  Like most things worth doing, we have to dedicate time and energy to really receive the benefits of the practice.  Here are a few ways to get your gratitude ball rollin’:

  • Keep a “gratitude journal.”
  • Speak out loud what you are grateful for each day.
  • Make a list of 100 things you are grateful for and hang it up.
  • Take a moment to pause and be grateful for your food before you eat.
  • Shower the people you love with love.
  • Share your gratitude in the form of letters, emails, calls, presents, texts, random acts of kindness…
  • Offer yourself loving gratitude through self-care.
  • Cultivate a bit of gratitude every time you have the opportunity to paint or create.

How else can you show your gratitude today?

September 30th : Celebrate!

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The final prompt is to simply to celebrate all you have accomplished over the past month.

Whether you have completed all the prompts or dabbled with just a few, take a moment now to honor yourself for showing up and being committed to your creative self.

Place the palms of your hands face down on your belly and heart.  Take five deep breathes.  Cultivate as much love, compassion, acceptance and celebration that you can muster and send all those loving vibrations INWARD.  Let the cells of your body soak up all your own good medicine.  Remember…

You were born to shine, thrive, bloom and create.  You got this.

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Bloom True E-course Winners Announced!

With so many AMAZING Boot Campers from all over the world participating in this journey, choosing ten Bloom True E-course winners was no easy feat!  In fact, I couldn’t seem to do it ;)

Announcing all 18 of our amazing winners here…check out their profiles below!

http://instagram.com/3gandt

http://instagram.com/annemiekvanstokkum

http://instagram.com/athena_fletchercoombes

http://instagram.com/fernandsprout

http://instagram.com/istandforlove

http://instagram.com/regina_creativekismet

http://instagram.com/fiercefemme

http://instagram.com/coastalnicole

http://instagram.com/sacredpines

http://instagram.com/dalek_gurl

http://www.pinterest.com/sannagi/

http://www.pinterest.com/samanthajo07/

http://www.pinterest.com/omegapoint/ 

http://www.pinterest.com/gillianpearce/

http://www.pinterest.com/linebank/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/PhillipaheART/143273775713330

https://www.facebook.com/katherine.jore.9?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/ada.spencer.33?fref=ufi

If you see your profile here, please send an email to assistance@florabowley.com so we can set you up with your free spot!

Bloom True Boot Camp will be offered as a digital product in the coming week for anyone who hasn’t been able to get to all the prompts.  You will be able to download the prompts and audios and save them for life…please stay tuned!

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Bloom True E-Course :: The Journey Begins October 13th

My deepest wish is that anyone wishing to explore their brave intuitive selves, both on canvas and off, will someday have the chance to participate in the Bloom True E-course.  I have poured my heart and soul into this five-week adventure and it’s always so amazing to see the transformations that take place throughout the course.

If your soul is tugging at you to join, please listen in.  I would absolutely love to paint with you.

xo flora

Stepping Out Brave

Squam Circle

photo: rachaelrice.com

Six days ago, I arrived at Squam Art Workshops in New Hampshire.  The woodsy scene there is all kinds of gorgeous — quaint cabins, an unbelievable lake, awesome women everywhere — but there I was with knots in my stomach.

I was there to teach a totally new class — one that involved more movement than painting and more watercolor, ink and pastels than acrylic.  Most of my security blankets, comfort zones and feelings of “I got this,” had left the room.

To be honest, this feeling of stepping out beyond the edges of what is known is one I simultaneously resist and crave.  There is an aliveness that happens out there in the mystery, but damn, it’s uncomfortable.

It’s also where the magic happens.

When we can’t rely on patterns, habits, and in this case expertise, we are forced to expand — to rise to the occasion, to experiment with new tools and find new ways of communicating our message.  There’s kind of no other choice.

Squam Love Layers

photo: rachaelrice.com

Over the course of the six-hour workshop, we touched on many of my creative philosophies, but in new ways.

We experimented with walking meditation, dance, contact improv, figure drawing, drawing with our eyes closed, moving with our eyes closed, spilling ink, collaborating, sharing gratitude and resting….yep, resting.

My students did not walk away with large, colorful, multi-layered paintings (as per usual), but they did walk away energized and inspired…with a few really awesome mixed-media paintings to boot.

My greatest hope is that by moving outside of our collective comfort zones, we were all able to stir something awake and walk away with fresh eyes and open hearts.

I know this is what happened to me.

Love Layers at Squam

Speaking of dipping toes into new territory, I’d love to share an online course that offers its students a chance to do just that.

Life book 2015 is a year-long online course featuring 26 different teachers with 26 different perspectives on the creative process. Life Book is packed with lessons, inspiration and a vibrant community of artists from all over the world.

This will be my second year contributing lessons to Life Book, and I’m happy to be joined by some of my fave art teacher buddies this year: Mati Rose, Lynzee Lynx, Rachael Rice and Alena Hennessy to name a few.  If you are craving to learn some new techniques from these art rock stars, Life Book might just be for you.

Registration for Life Book 2015 opens on October 6th and the course begins on January 1st, 2015. However, I have the pleasure of giving away one FREE SPOT here today!  To enter, leave a comment below about a break through you’ve had as the result of stepped out of your comfort zone — mmmm good stuff, can’t wait to hear your stories!  I will announce the winner in the comments section here tomorrow.

All the wonderful Life Book teachers are giving away spots on their blogs (see the schedule below), so check em out.

Hope to see you in class…xo flora

:: Life Book Teacher Line Up + Blog Hop Giveaway ::

8th September 2014 – Tamara Laporte –  http://www.willowing.org/
9th September 2014 – Jane Davenport – http://janedavenport.com/
10th September 2014 – Joanne Sharpe – http://joannezsharpe.blogspot.co.uk/
11th September 2014 –  Jenny Lee Wentworth – http://jennyleewentworth.blogspot.co.uk/
12th September 2014 –  Violette Clark – http://www.violette.ca/
13th September 2014 –  Chris Zydel – http://creativejuicesarts.com/
14th September 2014 –  Danielle Donaldson – http://danielledonaldson.com/
15th September 2014 –  Effy Wild – http://effywild.com/
16th September 2014 –  Flora Bowley – http://florabowley.com <— YOU ARE HERE
17th September 2014 –  Alisa Burke – http://alisaburke.blogspot.co.uk/
18th September 2014 –  Rachael Rice – http://rachaelrice.com/
19th September 2014 –  Jeanne Oliver – http://www.jeanneoliverdesigns.com/
20th September 2014 –  Andrea Gomoll – http://andrea-gomoll.de/
21st September 2014 –  Kristin van Valkenburgh – http://www.kristinvanvalkenburgh.com/
22nd September 2014 –  Jill K. Berry – http://jillberrydesign.com/
23rd September 2014 –  Alena Hennessy – http://www.alenahennessy.com/
24th September 2014 –  Juliette Crane – http://www.juliettecrane.com/
25th September 2014 –  Jenny Doh – http://blog.crescendoh.com/crescendoh/
26th September 2014 –  Mati Rose McDonough – http://www.matirose.com/
27th September 2014 –  Patti Ballard – http://www.pbsartstudio.com
28th September 2014 –  Lynzee Lynx – http://lynzeelynx.com/
29th September 2014 –  Roben Marie Smith – http://www.robenmarie.com/
30th September 2014 –  Andrea Schroeder – http://www.creativedreamincubator.com/
1st October 2014 –  Lynn Whipple – http://www.lynnwhipple.com/
2nd October 2014 –  Donna Downey – http://www.donnadowney.com/

Tribe Tuesdays continues with Patricia Svarnas!

I’m delighted to keep hearing from people all around the world who are sharing their Bloom True journey. Please enjoy Patricia’s inspiring story below..

Salt Water 2012 By Patrica Svanras

I participated in the Bloom True e-course in the summer of 2012. Little did I know that it would end up being a life-changing experience for me.

For more than a decade, I had felt the call deep inside me to return to art. As a child, I loved painting and drawing and spent hours creating my own characters and worlds on paper and canvas. But as I got older, I abandoned art for “more serious pursuits”— like a mainstream desk job that would make me money and be socially acceptable.

But all along, I still felt that intuitive yearning to create.

Brave 2013 by Patrica Svarnas

Bloom True was such a transformative experience. Flora’s videos, techniques and suggestions guided me towards creative freedom. Rather than a class with strict rules and guidelines, Bloom True gives you the tools and encouragement to let go of fear, perfectionism and that haunting voice that says, “I’m not good enough.

Instead, Flora is a gentle friend who makes you feel like every mark or paint stroke is meant to be there and that with each layer of paint, you’re getting closer to what will be born out of the canvas.

I always thought I had to start a piece of art with a clear idea of what I was going to paint. Bloom True taught me to trust myself, to play and to let what is inside of me come out on the canvas intuitively.

It’s amazing what came out.

Let Things Go 2013 by Patrica Svarnas

My first two canvases became boats in deep water. Subsequent works included hot air balloons, animals, and lighthouses. I listened to my heart and let my hands work organically instead of forcing them towards some preconceived idea. I was free.

Since the Bloom True course, my style has continued to develop and I’ve added collage and typography to my intuitive painting. I once felt stifled and blocked but I feel like Flora gracefully showed me how to crack open my heart and let all the built up creativity flow out.

She also showed me how to trust my intuition—in art and in life. I showed my work for the first time in a juried show in October of 2013 and won the award for best mixed media piece. I recently had my artwork and writing accepted for publication in a well-known magazine. And I took a leap, created a website and started my own art business.

You never know where one decision will lead you. My intuition told me to take Flora’s course and it changed everything for me. She’s an amazing teacher, a beautiful spirit, and a creative role model. She made me see myself and my artwork as unique and valuable with no mistakes. And she allowed me to dream big artistic dreams that are already coming true.

Safe Harbor 2012 by Patricia Svarnas

 


We would love to hear your TRIBE Story! Please click here for more info, and be sure to join our group Pinterest board, now with over 50 Pinspiring bloomers!

TRIBE Tuesday: Rhonda Groves

Our TRIBE Tuesday Series Continues!

Painting by Rhonda Groves

For this week’s TRIBE Tuesday, we are happy to feature Rhonda Groves.  We hope you enjoy her story…

Hello, my name is Rhonda.

I took Flora’s Bloom True E-Course in September 2013.  The magnitude this e-course has had on me is phenomenal.  I have created paintings I never dreamed of.

There is such power in throwing my soul into the canvas.

I have also made friends all over the world and we do have a tribe.  Some of us are discussing meeting for a week and painting together.  I love these friends because they get the excitement of a shadow, dancing leaves or the wind.  I  feel more confident in what I could be capable of.  Negativity is not allowed in the circle.

Mistakes are only opportunity for a different direction.

I find this helping me in my own life as well.  If some horrible thing happens beyond my control I try to look at it differently and learn/grow from it.  My intuition has been heightened and I find things do fall in place.  I think I have always had a sixth sense about things; but now I am learning to trust the universe more.  I also believe I have something to offer.

I am the only one that can create my art.

I really am a new painter, but I dream about my paintings now.  It is time for me, to recharge myself.  Here are a few of my paintings from Flora’s class.  I have taken other e-courses but Flora Bowley helped me develop my paintings.  They are my individual style.   This is important to me as I did not want to become another artist.  I wanted to become an artist.   Bloom True has been the class that helped me find my self more that the other painting classes.  Thanks, Flora!
Painting by Rhonda Groves


Do you have a Tribe Tuesday story to tell?

TRIBE stands for: Tales + Reunions + Inspirations + Breakthroughs + Evolution.

TRIBE is a place for bloomers to share their stories, stay inspired and connect with each other.  We imagine TRIBE will evolve and grow in exciting ways, but for now we simply welcome anyone who has ever taken a Bloom True class, either online or in person, to send your stories, inspirations and breakthroughs to us at: assistance@florabowley.com.

Also, if you are on Pinterest, we are creating a group Pinterest board to share your Brave Intuitive Painting experience. Follow Flora on Pinterest and we will send you an invite to join the group board.  Please include TRIBE in the subject line of your email.

TRIBE Tuesday: Fay and Tam

For this week’s TRIBE feature, I am very pleased to present two incredible women I had the pleasure of meeting in Bali last May. Dr. Fauziah Mohamed Yunus or “Fay” (or “Mom:)) as we came to know her, took my e-course, followed by my in-person retreat in Bali. Tamara Laporte, or “Willowing,” as she is lovingly known to her online following, joined us in Bali as well.

Here are their beautiful stories.

photo by Zipporah Lomax

photo by Zipporah Lomax

FAY’S STORY

“Finding My Tribe”

When I got the email saying I had been accepted into the Bloom True Amed course last March I felt like I had won the lottery! As a single mum I had surrounded myself with work and had little time to really have fun, doing the things that I love to do. The last 18 years was mainly about making sure my three sons would be okay in Life. As they grew up and needed less of me, my sons started to encourage (actually I felt like I was being nagged!) to find something that I loved to do, something that inspired me, something that I enjoyed and…most importantly, was just for me.

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photo by Zipporah Lomax

My Tribe was made up of such diverse women from all over the world. They had different backgrounds, different cultures, different stories, they even sounded different with accents from around the world… each person was unique and, to the Heart Circle, each one brought the gift of their unique self. That week we spent together was filled with laughter and discovery. We not only painted together but we shared ourselves, listened deeply and accepted each others’ uniqueness as we got to know each other. We supported each other as we painted and what joy it was to have nothing else to do, nowhere else to go … just the space and time to do what we wanted to do. This was a most magical week in my Life which will always be a special memory for me…this was the week when I found my Tribe.

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photo by Zipporah Lomax


TAM’S STORY

“Learning to Let Go in Bali”

Bali (the first holiday on my own since having children (!) was like a little rebirth for me. Of course, for a large part this was about learning more about painting, but, as I said a few times on the retreat: I think I was there a lot more for the life lessons. For me it was deeply spiritual & emotional. I had some mega shifts happening for me related to childhood stuff and limited beliefs about myself.

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Sharon, Tam, and Fay (image via willowing.org)

On one of the mornings Flora started to add imagery to her painting, before that, she’d been doing a lot of layering and mark-making which felt really uncomfortable to me (as it looked like it was all intuitive and as I said before: I like control and don’t trust my intuition much) so when she started adding imagery I could feel some kind of relief inside of me like aaaah, I know this, now ‘we’re getting somewhere’, and then: yay Flora started adding a portrait to the painting: aaaaah, great, I know this even better, this is great, I am feeling totally relieved now – and then all of a sudden BAM Flora starts to PAINT OVER THE PORTRAIT giving me a little mini stroke. Here I’m thinking ‘I’m finally safe’, but naha: she’s painting over it!!

So afterwards I asked her: “Why? why did you paint over the portrait?” She goes: “because I didn’t like it and I’m going with what I like.” So in that moment I said the group: “Ok, I will do a portrait today and set myself the challenge to ‘paint over it.’”

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We were all walking around and checking out each other’s paintings here and there and people kept asking me: “so, are you gonna paint over it?” And I started to feel resistance coming up again, I had a nice portrait going, I spent quite some time on the detail and I really did NOT want to let go of it. I did not want to go over this portrait.

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photo via willowing.org

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photo via willowing.org

When we started our session the next morning, I took one look at the portrait and had not more interest in furthering it, I was COMPLETELY ready to let go and go over it. And so I did! I did! I did! That was basically incredible for me. I had worked hard on that portrait and really didn’t think I was going to let go, but I did. A major learning in there for me. It transformed into the below bird painting which I LOVE so much! :)

That’s just one example of a deep shift in me that happened there; I dared, was brave and learned to ‘let go’ :) (I’m considering to tattoo ‘let go’ on my arm). More happened of course, we went snorkelling, had amazing food, chatted, laughed, visited some beautiful scenery, splashed in the pool, sang and so on and so forth.

So the experience was of that kind (for me); a lot of sharing with wonderful women, deep shifts happening, releasing old pain, transforming, learning to let go and surrender. Pretty magical and amazing!

tam-painting-tribe

It has also really helped me to finish off canvas paintings I’ve been stuck on for ages. I’m more daring, bolder and able to try out new things without being too attached to certain outcomes, colours or shapes. Since I’ve come back from Bali, I’ve finished and started between 6-10 canvases!!

Read Tam’s full blog post about her time in Bali on her 

blog: http://www.willowing.org/2014/07/29/learning-to-let-go-in-bali/

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photo by Zipporah Lomax

Do you have a TRIBE story to tell? Please share it with us!

TRIBE stands for: Tales + Reunions + Inspirations + Breakthroughs + Evolution.

TRIBE is a place for bloomers to share their stories, stay inspired and connect with each other. We imagine TRIBE will evolve and grow in exciting ways, but for now we simply welcome anyone who has ever taken a Bloom True class, either online or in person, to send your stories, inspirations and breakthroughs to us at: assistance@florabowley.com. Please include TRIBE in the subject line of your email. Click here for more about TRIBE.

Join our Group Pinterest board!

If you’d like to join us in a worldwide collaborative inspiration experience, please follow me (Flora Bowley) on Pinterest and include your Pinterest link when you email assistance@florabowley.com. We will send you an invite to join the group board. Make sure to tag your pins with #bloomtrue and #braveintuitivepainting!

xo flora

Introducing…TRIBE Tuesdays!

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I am continually in awe of the amazing tribe of students I have all over the world, and the truly transformational stories they share with me about their Bloom True experience. In an effort to spread their inspiration and good juju beyond my own head space and email box (and to connect you all to some truly amazing Bloomers), I’ve decided to start sharing these inspiring stories each Tuesday on my blog >>>

Introducing…TRIBE TUESDAYS!

In additional to these blog posts, I will also continue to highlight TRIBE stories periodically through this newsletter. I hope you find these tales as awesome as I do. I’m so thrilled for you all to “meet” each other this way!

Of course, if you are feeling inspired to share YOUR Bloom True story, we would love to hear from you (submission info below).

Without further ado, may I present to you….the amazing Carolyn Mackin.

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Carolyn shares…

I am shocked and amazed at what a profound and enduring shift has happened within me since taking Flora’s first e-course in February-March of 2011, as well as her Bloom True Boston 2013 workshop. Although I have been an artist my entire life, even earning a MFA, I found that the dense theory we were required to study sucked the joy out of the creative process for me. When I started painting on large canvases with my fingers (thanks to Flora!), while listening to beautiful music and my intuition, I felt an extraordinary emotional release and profound openness. Something clicked, and I knew with great certainty that I was doing what I was put on this earth to do.

“I began to notice I no longer felt anxious about small stresses in life.”

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At first the changes outside of my painting practice were more subtle- I started taking more liberties with fashion and began layering and pairing outfits in a different way. It felt as though I was seeing what was already in front of me in a new way. Then I began to notice that I no longer felt anxious about small stresses in life. My transformation has resulted in me taking many more risks in all aspects of my life, especially with the business side of art-making.

“This flexibility, openness, and willingness to change is the secret to finding joy.”CarolynMackin_giclee_print-crop

I have stopped telling myself that I am not good with the business side of art!  Now I am actually embracing and enjoying it, as it continues to connect me with other wonderful people.  My most recent business dealings include finding the right professional print house to reproduce my originals, organizing a 1st annual open studio tour in my town, teaching private painting lessons, showing my work in multiple venues, selling my originals and prints, and participating in a community art project.

I used to follow other artists and wonder—How do they find time/energy/inspiration to do that? Now people are asking me that very question! Now I know the answer. I am no longer afraid of failure. I cannot make an ugly painting because I can simply add another layer and transform it in 10 minutes! On a recent one-week vacation to Europe, I completed eight paintings while traveling on trains and planes. This flexibility, openness, and willingness to change is the secret to finding joy. And once you find that happiness, you find it gives you energy. So even at the end of an exhausting day, I go into my studio, and tap into that bliss.

Carolyn_Mackin_Boston_MA_USA

Flora, you have proven to be one of the most profound teachers in my life. I still cannot believe that an online class put me on this trajectory! I am forever grateful to you and to the tribe of fellow artists and supporters I have connected with. Namaste.

Blog - http://carolynmackin.wordpress.com/
Website - http://carolynmackin.me/
Instagram - http://instagram.com/carolynmackin
Carolyn’s Bloom True Boston blog post


BTrue amed14 circleholdingarmsphoto by zipporahlomax.com

JOIN THE TRIBE

TRIBE stands for: Tales + Reunions + Inspirations + Breakthroughs + Evolution.

TRIBE is a place for bloomers to share their stories, stay inspired and connect with each other. We imagine TRIBE will evolve and grow in exciting ways, but for now we simply welcome anyone who has ever taken a Bloom True class, either online or in person, to send your stories, inspirations and breakthroughs to us at: assistance@florabowley.com. Please include TRIBE in the subject line of your email. Click here for more about TRIBE.

Join our Group Pinterest board!

If you’d like to join us in a worldwide collaborative inspiration experience, please follow me (Flora Bowley) on Pinterest and include your Pinterest link when you email assistance@florabowley.com. We will send you an invite to join the group board. Make sure to tag your pins with #bloomtrue and #braveintuitivepainting!

Psst…Bloom True Challenge + Give Away — coming soon!

Stay tuned for a super awesome month of Bloom True prompts and inspiration happening everyday of September, PLUS a chance to win a spot in my upcoming Bloom True E-course starting on October 13th. It’s gonna be rad…I hope you will join me.

xo flora

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photo by zipporahlomax.com

Knowing When to SHIFT ~*~ (and a sweet Summer Sale!)

Ocean Floor

Four years ago, I was invited to teach my very first painting class at Squam Art Workshops in New Hampshire. Although I had never shared my painting philosophies before (or even considered doing so for that matter), the timing felt divine.

I was ready for a shift.

Painting alone in my studio and selling my paintings through galleries felt more and more isolating. I craved deeper connections, more inspiration from others and a sense of service in my life. Teaching seemed like a great fit.

Although I had no idea what to expect, I arrived at Squam wide-eyed and ready to share all I could. To be honest, I had no idea how to teach something that was so intuitive, so wordless, so not linear. I did, however, trust my many years of painting experience. I also knew the only way to learn was…THROUGH.

Looking back now, I realize how radically this weekend by a lake in New Hampshire would shift my soul’s path. Who knew!?

squamlakenight

Signs from the Universe.

One week after my first teaching experience, Quarry Books invited me to write a book about my painting process. Who…me?! Again, I found myself completely out of my comfort zone, but I took the opportunity as a sign from the Universe and nervously said YES — yes of course I can write a book!

(Holy shit…how do you write a book?!)

Well, my book, Brave Intuitive Painting, came out one year later and has now sold over 30,000 copies. I have also traveled the world teaching and have shared my painting process with thousands of people through my Bloom True E-Course.

Needless to say, it’s been a wild and amazing ride.

BTrue amed circlemeditation

Fast forward four years and I find myself ready for another shift.

Yep, evolution beckons and new territory awaits, so here I go.

As I’ve previously mentioned, I will be traveling less and teaching more workshops in my awesome new Portland studio, but I’m also designing new classes to incorporate more of my passions: movement, meditation, mixed media and writing — all wrapped up into one sweet inspirational experience.

In perfect full-circle fashion, my first foray into this new class forma will take place this September at none other than Squam! My class is called Love Layers: Cultivating radical self-love through movement, marks and meditation,” and I’m thrilled to explore new territory and push some new boundaries once again.

Pssst… I’m really not sure exactly how this will all unfold, but there’s only one way to find out :)

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Honoring the call to shift

Although my class at Squam is sold out, there are many other great offerings still available and an amazing creative community to boot. In fact, two of my favorite ladies, Tara Morris and Rachael Rice, will be rocking their awesome classes at Squam for their first time — highly recommended!

Perhaps you are ready for a shift too? Are you feeling the tug to find your creative tribe, to try out a new art form, to spend four days by a beautiful lake because you DESERVE IT? Remember, these tugs are your soul’s longings asking you to listen up…

Maybe I’ll see you there?

xo flora

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Signing off with a sweet SUMMER SALE….enjoy!

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Summer Sale!

I’m happy to offer you all a special Summer Sale this weekend. Use coupon code: summersale25 at checkout to receive 25% off Papaya luxe totes (these are the last of these beauties…like forever) and all Bauxo leather products. Also receive free shipping on select Society6 products this weekend.

Both sales good through July 13th, midnight PST.

From Stuck —> To Feelin’ It :: A Roadmap through Painter’s Block

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Last night was the perfect night to paint.

My schedule was clear, the air felt delicious and it was still light out at 9pm. I turned up the music, cleaned off my palette, lit a candle, burned some sage and hung a halfway finished painting on the wall. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling incredibly inspired, but typically I just need to START in order to find my rhythm.

So, I started…

I choose a few of my fave colors of the moment (grey, yellow, violet, magenta and white), and began to move the paint around. I tried out some of my signature moves, turned the canvas upside down and waited for the magic to take hold. Any minute now…

But, it didn’t. After about an hour everything looked forced, murky and far from magical.

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Deep Breaths.

The truth is we all get stuck.

And yes, it’s uncomfortable and frustrating and often brings up our “stuff,” but getting stuck is actually a CRUCIAL part of the creative process — it has to happen. Hitting creative walls means we are evolving, shifting, moving out of our comfort zones and into new territory.

This, my friends, is where we GROW.

In fact, I believe big breakthroughs are often waiting for us right on the other side of our greatest challenges. This is why it’s important to acknowledge these moments — EXPECT them — and honor them as opportunities to expand, rather than opportunities to shrink.

In fact, these are the most important moments to trust, be brave, breathe and rise to the occasion. What waits on the other side will be well worth it!

So, how do you transform stuck into feelin’ it?

I have a few tricks that always seem to help me get back in my groove every time, and this is exactly what happened last night.

I’m happy to share them with you…

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Let go of striving.

Instead of forcing outcomes, ask yourself: “What feels exciting to me RIGHT NOW?” and How do I want to FEEL when I’m painting?”

The experience of painting can feel so many different ways. It can be wild, free, frenzied, delicate, loose, embodied, precise, sensual, meditative, focused, alive, exhilarating and… frustrating. To name just a few.

Last night I choose: WILD + FREE with a touch of exhilarating :)

Keep it simple.

It can be very overwhelming to have infinite choices. What colors? What shapes? What tools? Abstract? Images? You get the idea.

Instead of working with EVERYTHING under the moon, try choosing just one or two colors and one or two ways of working with the paint. For example, last night I noticed I had a full bottle of prussian blue, a color I seldom use, and some trees sketches from the park. Perfect.

I choose prussian blue, trees, wildfree and exhilarating as my starting points.

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Stay present + Follow your curiosity + Trust your inklings.

Trying to “figure out” your whole painting can easily lead to overwhelm and freezing up. Again, too many choices!

To stay present, let go of the need to know where it’s all going and simply focus on what feels interesting RIGHT NOW.

Trust those tiny whispers in your head or subtle feelings in your body that suddenly beckon you to do things like: Drag your fingers across the canvas, add yellow, paint faster, turn your canvas, step back.  Finally, trust that your painting will unfold when the time is right.

Last night, my prussian blue tree sketches quickly created a framework for for me start exploring interesting new color combinations. Those color combinations led me to explore thick texture with a new spatula tool. One choice lead to the next, to the next, to the next…and suddenly a painting started to come together.

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I hope these tips are helpful the next time you hit those inevitable walls of stuckness. Remember, navigating through frustration is a crucial part of the creative process. You are not alone!

You are right where you’re supposed to be.

You got this. You’re awesome.

With love,
xo flora

Project Ground Out + the Enjoyment Factor

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“Remember the Enjoyment Factor.”

This sweet reminder was offered up by my yoga teacher yesterday. In fact, remembering to enjoy the experience was the focus of the entire class.  We were given permission to throw away strict yoga “rules” and ideas about what the practice was supposed to look like. Instead, we were encouraged to move and breathe in a way that simply….FELT GOOD.

Ah yes. That.

The simple and powerful reminder to enjoy life, do what feels good, let go of self-imposed pressure, follow curiosity and appreciate what simply IS.  Sounds like some pretty sound painting advice I often give my students :)

But to be totally honest, I’m needing a bit of my own medicine these days.  For months now, I’ve been experiencing strong under-currents of discontent, like something is just….OFF.  It took me a solid month to recover and re-integrate after both of my trips to Mexico and Bali, and even after my body and mind were firmly connected back to this time zone, my spirit was weary and my energy was low.

Eager to dive into the root cause of my blues, I started doing some serious soul-searching over the past month: long baths, quiet meditations, raw heart-to-hearts with friends, intense work outs, soulful ceremonies and really honest conversations with myself.  I was looking at all the parts of my life and asking myself what I really need to feel whole, happy and peaceful…what needed to shift to feel the way I want to feel?  The result came in the form of this crystal clear realization:

I NEED A SABBATICAL.

(even the word ‘sabbatical’ makes me smile)

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After four years of creating, building, renovating, visioning, writing, traveling, teaching, moving and teaching some more, I realize I am burnt out. Straight up. Classic. Burn Out, otherwise known as “feeling WAY OFF.”  Needless to say, I definitely lost track of the “Enjoyment Factor” along the way.  Darn it.

But here’s the good news:  I’M CATCHING MYSELF!  In an epic turning-point-come-to-god-mid-course-correction-holy-epiphany-direct-download-gotta-make-some-serious-shifts kinda way, I’m waking up to what my soul really needs, and what my soul really needs is…

HOME.

Within days of declaring my need to stay HOME for a year, this adorable muppet-faced doggie walked into my life (thank you Universe), and that pretty much sealed the deal. I love how quickly the Universe responds when we actually get CLEAR about what we really want/need.

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Without getting too dog obsessed here (I assure you that’s another post), I will say that Pearl dog feels like a furry white angel who appeared at the most perfect moment.  She arrived right when I need her most…right when I needed to slow down, stay home, prioritize walks in the park, snuggling and GROUNDING OUT.  Obviously, she is the perfect buddy for all of this.  And, yes, there is also an adorable math teacher who is pretty excited about the new arrangement :)

But wait…the magic continues!  The day after I found Pearl, I also found a  brand new gorgeous studio space in my neighborhood — the PERFECT space for holding local workshops.

I’m signing a three-year lease tomorrow.

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So there you have it: Project Ground Out with an emphasis on the “Enjoyment Factor.”  I realize there might be some folks out there who might be disappointed to hear I won’t be teaching in Bali, or Mexico, or ANYWHERE other than Portland next year, but I imagine you also understand.  Because, who wants their teacher to show up without a full cup?  Not me.

For those of you who have always wanted to visit Portland, OR, you are in luck!  I will soon be announcing a wonderful array of new workshop options including a “Master Class” and some more movement based classes (because…look at that dance floor).  I’m feeling so excited to embark on this new chapter and to continue sharing my passions with you …

with a FULL cup of course + the Enjoyment Factor in full effect!

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***’Project Ground Out’ will officially commence after my trips to Squam and Ireland this September (doggie will be in good hands). There are still some spots open in my Ireland workshops, so if you want to catch an international workshop, this will be your last chance for awhile.  Did I mention, I’m teaching in a castle by the sea?  Would love to see ya there.

xo flora

“Creativity is maximized when you are living in the moment.”

- as seen on a Lululemon bag

 

New Goodies! :: Clocks,Totes, Cell Phone Cases, Pillows, Prints and More…

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Friends!

I’m thrilled to share with you a fresh new line of products now available worldwide though my Society6 store.

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If you’ve ever craved one of my paintings in the form of a rug, tote bag, clock, iphone case or shower curtain…yes SHOWER CURTAIN, you are in luck!

The new store also features a variety of prints of some of my very favorite paintings.

society iphonecase burnbrightThe following goodies are available now, and shipping is FREE today!

▪ art prints & framed art prints
▪ stretched canvases
▪ throw pillows & outdoor pillows
▪ tote bags
▪ shower curtains
▪ area & throw rugs
▪ wall clocks
▪ iPhone & iPod cases
▪ laptop skins
▪ stationery & cards

All Society6 products are produced when you order them, on-demand (to avoid waste), using only the highest quality materials and processes. And they ship quickly, worldwide! For more details about each product, please check out this page on their website.

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I hope you find these products a beautiful and affordable way to bring the color and soul of my work into your home. Enjoy!

xo
flora

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Bloom True TRIBE :: Student Gallery!

Today is a big day around here. It’s the very first day of “school” for my latest group of Bloom True E-Course students and excitement is in the air! In honor of this new brave beginning, I’m sharing some of the awesome work and reflections from past bloomers. Gotta admit, I’m pretty proud of them — you’ll see why.

We still have some spots open for any ‘late bloomers’ out there (sorry, had to). Registration will remain open through the end of this week. Feel like joining the tribe? I would love to have you. OK…on with the show!

BT student ChelMicheline“This painting truly took on a life of its own as I painted it, and taking Flora’s advice to heart- I let go and followed where it wanted to go. Painting it was one of the most meaningful and unique creative experiences of my life. Before I started this class, creativity was important to me, but something I had trouble finding time for. At the end of this course, my creativity is ESSENTIAL to me, and a necessary part of my every single day.” 

Chel Micheline


BT student DeniseThewissen

“The most important thing I learned: don’t be afraid to try things out! You can always see it as another layer. This is a very liberating feeling. It has made me way more adventurous and bold in my way of painting.” 

Denise Thewissen


BT student CatalineGarreton

“I adore my painting, I see my style blossoming with new techniques and inspirations from Flora. And finger painting is now a MUST in my studio! BloomTrue was absolutely incredible–connecting to my art and myself (via the intuition exercises and gratitude work) was a winning combination, I am so grateful.”

Catalina Garreton


BT student KellieDay

“I love how the course has taught me to use brilliant color, to experiment with shapes and movement that I never would have tried before, and to further let go of my mind and trust in what’s happening on my canvas.”

 Kellie Day


BT student SharonMinchuk

“The Bloom True course guided me along a path so that today I can look at a stack of canvases with anticipation over what I may be able to create. I was making so little progress because of my fear of making a mess, not something artistic. Whew! Looking forward to maintaining this positive energy for a long time.”

- Sharon Minchuk


BT student FayYunus

“This painting is my very first painting done on canvas. It came into being as I let go, let loose the Dreamer in me. I have not picked up a paint brush in eight years, nor have I ever painted with acrylics or on a canvas. This course has allowed the creative, intuitive painter in me to arise … with joy and freedom.”

Dr. Fauziah Mohamed Yunus


BT student IsisZtarr

“This painting for me expresses the exuberance of summer and my love affair with painting that began doing your wonderful course. Your course gave me the confidence to explore myself, my creative spirit and the medium of painting. A new lifetime adventure has been sparked!”

- Iris Ztarr


BT student MelanieBerry

“I had never painted much, large nor had had I ever painted figures or anything figurative before. Suddenly, I felt like I could and did. It was fun and easy. Previously, the fear was in the way, I guess. I never thought it was in me so I never tried. This entire process is about bravery and intuition just as your title indicates. Fearlessly yours.”

- Melanie Berry


BT students DianeFifer

“What I have learned from the course I will share with my students…..to understand that they have a place in this world, that they are unique, and that this needs to be celebrated.”

- Diane Fifer


THANK YOU for taking the time to experience these heartfelt Bloom True TRIBE creations. Each painting represents so much trust, letting go and courage. Check out even more student work on these links:

http://dowhatyouloveforlife.com/blog/2014/05/bloom-true-gallery-part-5-feb-2014-class/

http://dowhatyouloveforlife.com/blog/2014/05/bloom-true-gallery-part-4-feb-2014-class/

http://dowhatyouloveforlife.com/blog/2014/05/bloom-true-gallery-part-3-feb-2014-class/

http://dowhatyouloveforlife.com/blog/2014/05/bloom-true-gallery-part-2-feb-2014-class/

http://dowhatyouloveforlife.com/blog/2014/05/bloom-true-gallery-part-1-feb-2014-class/

For more info + testimonials about the course, please head on over to the Bloom True page.

Love to all. Have an awesome week. xo flora

Bloom True Giveaway Winners Announced!

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It’s time to celebrate!!

Whohoo!  I’m super excited to announce the winners for the Bloom True E-Course Giveaway, but first let me just say WOW…wow wow wow.

We had over 430 incredible nominations for ten tiny gifted spots, and the nominations were all so heartfelt, so sincere, soooo hard to choose!  (need a little pick me up?…read these stories.).

Seriously, you guys I stayed up late into the night reading each word, connecting with each person who I knew in my heart deserved to win this course…shedding a few tears along the way, I might add.  I so wanted to give a spot to EVERYONE.  In the end, I expanded the winners to include these 24 amazing souls.  Can’t wait to bloom true with you all soon!

1. Susan (as nominated by Shannon Dean)

2. Rachael Collins (as nominated by Christine Smith)

3. Maja Druzdzel (as nominated by Elizabeth)

4. Nikki Nienhuis (as nominated by Janel)

5. Josh’s wife (as nominated by Josh)

6. Stacy (as nominated by Dewar Deborah)

7. Amy Walls (as nominated by B Wirth)

8. Melissa Layer (as nominated by Trisha Coghlan)

9. Giulia (as nominated by Abramo Papp)

10. Mrs Rascati (as nominated by Sal Rascati)

11. Julie (as nominated by Kim)

12.Matt (as nominated by Nancy Baku)

13. Jenny (as nominated by John J Mulrooney)

14. Linda (as nominated by Gwen)

15. Stephanie (as nominated by Paula Ulrich)

16. Kathy Guidi (as nominated by Kathy)

17. Hoi Yan (as nominated by Joan Wong)

18. Rebecca (as nominated by Belinda Sigs)

19. Prerna Poojara (as nominated by Amy O’Toole)

20. Ansula Press (as nominated by Jenny Siegel)

21. Mary (as nominated by Dayle)

22. Cheryl Gelsomine (as nominated by Jennifer)

23. Shannon Mouck (as nominated by Jennifer Bonneteau)

24. Kristin (as nominated by Sandi)

Clearly Bloom True has struck a chord with every single person who commented on the giveaway post. If you would like to gift the course to your friend, please email hello@braveintuitiveyou.com and ask about purchasing a gift voucher. And if you want to sign up yourself you can still squeeze in here before class begins on Monday. I would love for you to join me! xo flora

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Bloom True Giveaway Time!

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Hi friends.  It’s GIVEAWAY time around here, and I want to make sure you are all in the know!

We are excited to be giving away TEN FREE PLACES for the upcoming Bloom True E-course beginning on May 12th, but here’s the deal…we want you to nominate someone else to win the prize!  Why?  Because we love surprises, generosity, thoughtfulness and presents, of course.  And…won’t it be amazing if someone did this for you?  We think so :)

We often receive the feedback that this course not only changes the way people paint, but also offers deep and loving transformational life lessons along the way…AND, the community is awesome!

Do you know someone who would really LOVE to be a part of an adventure like this?  Someone who could really benefit from five delicious weeks of brave intuitive painting, connecting, exploring and playing?  If so, please head on over to the Do What You Love blog (my partners in the creations of this course), and nominate your well deserving loved ones!

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The prize:  Ten free places on the Bloom True E-Course for ten special people for.  Course runs for 5 weeks beginning on May 12th, 2014.

*Please note the prize does not include materials which must be gathered by the person taking the course.

How to enter: Check out the course website to find out more about it, and then leave a comment on the Giveaway blog telling us about  your nominee and why Bloom True would be great for them.

Deadline: 12 noon GMT on Wednesday May 7th, 2014.

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What people are saying about the course:

“Words cannot adequately describe the effect this course has had on my life. It is profound. I felt as though I had come home on the very first day. I’m forever grateful.”

“Unbelievable, indescribable. Be ready for it and Flora will bring it to you! Freedom you never knew you had with art!! And it brings something out in you that you thought you had but were never sure!”

“Brilliant, invaluable for those on a creative journey, a “must-do’ if you are stuck and want to move yourself to a higher creative level.”

“Mindblowing! If you are willing to let go, to really stop and listen to what your own heart is telling you, you will be amazed at what blooms true. Do it!”

“FABULOUS! It is impossible to take this course without learning something. The “lessons” will root themselves in your soul and continue to bloom even after the course is complete.”

“I would highly recommend the class to anyone interested in a holistic embracing life changing experience, it’s not just about painting but a great place to start if your new to painting.”

“I am inspired beyond words–inspired in a quiet, accepting place in my heart. I’m inspired to layer paints and play–until magically, scenes from the natural world emerge and fill me with surprise and awe and wonder. This class gathered all of the unconventional parts of me and gave them a space where the peace of union with that something which is bigger than us all–the quiet and “knowing” that is grounded in belief yet set free by intuition–this is the place this class took me to. Flora and Beth’s meticulous planning and guidance provided a safe and inspiring place to join with others and celebrate the creative process.”

“It has taught me that there is no right or wrong way to paint. It has inspired me so much to be brave and just go for it and find what feels good to me. It has helped me to let go of my fear of a blank canvas.”

“This course has impacted so many areas of my life and just the way I experience and respond to each day. I feel more ‘aware’ and definitely more BRAVE (I’m getting there, anyway!). I’ve been inspired, encouraged and nourished. I’ve begun to learn how to let go, be bold and to embrace joy and to trust my own creative process.”

“This course opened me up to infinite possibility. It’s been over a decade since I felt this much creative energy flowing from within. It’s exhilarating. I actually feel like the creative life I constantly dream of is an attainable goal. This course helped free me from the stagnancy of perfectionism and self-doubt. Before this class I always felt myself trying to create what I thought others might want, after this class I’ve learned to trust myself and just be me–the rest will follow.”

“I love how Flora intersects painting and life and does it brilliantly. She is vulnerable and full of joy and if you ever get a chance to take her course… well don’t even think about it…just do it. Do not pass up the opportunity of a lifetime. It will change you forever.”

“The biggest impact was to trust in the process that my painting would turn into a finished piece by following the methods outlined in this course….and they did! I loved the mix of body, mind and spirit with the painting instruction! It truly has changed the way I create in to a positive, fun, intuitive experience! I love what I am making.”

“The impact is pretty profound…Until I started the course I had been really stuck and quite lost in my own process…I was all in my head about what I wanted and/or ‘should’ paint. The intuitive painting process totally turned that around – I was once again reminded of a sense of play, my own intuitive strength, of balancing body/mind/spirit and using my whole being and letting go of expectation. Experimenting, being open to throwing on paint just to see what would happen and knowing I could at any point transform and change it all up at any time! Wonderful and so very freeing! Plus, really being encouraged to go inside and outside to identify and explore personal imagery. Amazing and also a process I can use over and over again! Love it!”

“It impacted my view on perfection and my expectation to complete something quickly. I was able to take my time, be patient with the process and enjoy it. It also has helped in my daily life with my family. I am more patient with them as well. Not always thinking about the outcome, but the process. Meaningful time spent with each other.”

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Introducing…Bloom True TRIBE!

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I’m so excited to share a new idea with you!

(I think you’re gonna like it).

The inspiration for ‘Bloom True TRIBE’ comes directly from my students who often share the most beautiful tales of transformation with me.

On a daily basis, I hear stories about newly discovered creative freedom, as well as massive (or subtle) shifts in life off the canvas.  There are amazing tales of first time exhibitions, paintings sold and heart warming trips around the world (or down the block) to meet fellow bloomers.  It’s really quite incredible to realize an entire worldwide community has emerged — bloomed! around this approach to painting and living.  As you can imagine, I’m a pretty proud mama.

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The very first time I taught a Bloom True class,  I noticed the insta-tribe that sprung up between the students.  Since then, I’ve always considered the community aspect to be one of the most potent and important parts of the Bloom True experience.

Whether it’s through an online Facebook group or an in-person retreat, the bonds that form between like-minded soulful creative seekers feel sweet… like looking in a mirror… like coming home.  I know how much I depend on my own creative family to feel understood, accountable and inspired, so this is something I feel really passionate about sharing.  I actually believe creative community is CRUCIAL.

<< This is where Bloom True TRIBE comes in! >>

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TRIBE stands for: Tales + Reunions + Inspirations + Breakthroughs + Evolution.

TRIBE is a place for bloomers to share their stories, stay inspired and connect with each other.  We imagine TRIBE will evolve and grow in exciting ways, but for now we simply welcome anyone who has ever taken a Bloom True class, either online or in person, to send your stories, inspirations and breakthroughs to: hello@braveintuitiveyou.com. Please include TRIBE in the subject line of your email.

We will gather and chronicle your stories, and start to share them on the TRIBE page, as well as on social media and through our weekly emails.  Please keep your shares between 1-3 paragraphs, and be sure to include images and links when possible.

If you need a bit of food for thought regarding what you might contribute to TRIBE,  here are a few questions to ponder:

How has Bloom True has made a difference in your life — on or off the canvas? Has your approach to creativity changed? Has your approach to everyday life changed?  Do you feel more brave? Are you more in touch with your intuition?  Have you started showing your art…selling it?  Have you had any creative breakthroughs?  Have you connected with other bloomers from around the world?  Have you found your tribe?  How has the process inspired you the most?  How has your art practice evolved since taking the course?  What have been your biggest AHA moments?

We look forward to hearing from you and sharing your stories soon.

Spread the love!

xo flora and the Bloom True crew

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 All photos by Zipporah Lomax.

School of Life

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I’ve been home from my month-long trip to Bali for exactly one week, and I gotta say TIME is so strange when flying halfway around the globe is part of the deal.  In some ways I feel like I was just there, but mostly it feels like a distant exotic dream.  You know how that goes…

Anyhooo, my trip was lovely.  Bali is lovely.  My students were awesome and many thresholds were crossed.  I know I’ve said it before, but AGAIN, I can hardly believe I get to do this work in the world…and all over the world at that. Every time a new bunch of bloomers comes together (especially when the backdrop is beautiful Bali), magic happens.  This year was no different.

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From the minute I met both my groups of students in Bali, I couldn’t help but notice the sameness — the connectedness — that was lurking just below the surface of our collective personalities and distinct life stories.  Sure, we were from many different parts of the world.  Some of us called ourselves professional artists, some had never picked up a paintbrush.  Some had kids, some did not.  Some were shy, some lit up the room.  As you can imagine, the list of our differences could go on and on, but that’s not what captured my heart during our opening ceremonies.

Nope.  What brought tears to my eyes (it always does), was our collective READINESS to step up and step forward toward new ways of being, both on and off the canvas.  To honor this journey, I always begin each workshop with a ceremony.

Sitting together, circled up around an alter, warm Bali air on our skin, candles burning, butterflies in our stomachs, I prompted everyone to share one thing they were ready to let go of and one thing they were ready to welcome in.  One by one, each brave soul, stepped forward to declare out load what they were ready to let go of by symbolically dropping a rock into a bowl of water.  Next, they announced (loud and clear) what they were ready to welcome in.  They sealed the deal by intuitively choosing a painting, each containing a little message just for them.

Like a golden thread weaving us together, we ALL seemed to be craving these universal shifts:

More love >< Less fear.  More trust >< Less control.  More play >< Less worry.  More heart ><  Less mind.   More flow >< Less struggle.  More compassion  >< Less judgement.  More connection >< Less separation… 

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So, while we spent our days painting and lounging by the pool, we also spent them falling in love each other, stepping up to (and beyond) our edges, navigating a radically different culture while riding the inevitable roller coaster of emotion that surfaces when nothing is holding you to your familiar life back home.  Hello brave intuitive souls.

To be honest, I went on my own roller coaster ride on this trip.  I found myself scrambling up an incredibly steep learning curve that is my life and work these days…maybe you can relate?  As I look around, it seems like so many of us are finding ourselves “back in school”—  the school of life that is.  As we wake up more and more to our deepest longings and truest selves, old stories no longer fit.  Transformation beckons.  New thresholds await.  All we can do is take one more step forward, and TRUST.  Are you with me on this journey?  Here are a few lessons I’ve been learning at school lately:

Blazing new trails requires new levels of self confidence.  Walking my talk requiring a ton of discipline (and is not always easy).  Working with new groups of people in far away places requires flexibility, surrender and trust.  Facilitating soul work requires…SOUL WORK.

All that.  And so much more.  Wouldn’t want it any other way.  What are YOU learning in school these days?

ps. Big shout out of love and appreciation to my amazing retreat collaborators, Rachael Rice, Lynzee Lynx and Nicole Lawrence.  Couldn’t have done it with out you! xo

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Growing older = getting wiser = freeing up

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When I received an invitation from Susannah Conway to participate in a blog series about the AWESOMENESS of aging, I got full body goose bumps, aka “truth bumps.”

How refreshing to focus on the positive aspects of aging, rather than replaying the same old, “how to hold onto your youth” conversation, over and over again. Finally, an opportunity to collectively celebrate all that is GOOD about getting older…and wiser.  Leave it to Susannah to spark such a sorely needed dialogue in celebration of her 41st birthday.

This woman is seriously on the pulse.

Like many of the inspiring women participating in this conversation, I am turning the big 4-O this year.  Although I’ve never been too caught up in the number game, forty does seem like a pretty big deal — a threshold of sorts.  And, while it can be tempting to focus on the shocking amount of grey hair I have, my deepening “laugh lines” or my cranky-body-part-of-the-moment, it’s honestly just not that interesting to me…anymore.

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To give you the full story, I’ve spent an excruciating amount of time and energy worrying about what I look like…and sound like and act like (you name it).  For much of my teens, twenties and into my thirties, I battled massive insecurities that held me in unhealthy patterns.  Although I knew on an intellectual level that the “gremlin” voices in my head were way out of control, they often ran the show.

However, as my life’s work started to clarify, amplified with a few life-altering trips to Burning Man, stacks of self-help books and a heaps of soul seaching, I slowly started caring less and less about what I looked like on the outside.  My priorities started to shift towards feeling good, doing positive work in the world and surrounding myself with the people I love.  This shift was so potent for me, I actually decided to change my name to reflect the “new me.”  This is how committed I was to letting those old stories GO.

 The moral of my story is:  Growing older = getting wiser = freeing up.

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Now, with each passing year, I’m aware of how much LESS I care about what other people think of me.  At the same time, I’ve also grown more comfortable living in my skin, speaking my truth and owning my expertise and talent.  As a result, I let my uniqueness shine brighter, I stand taller, I speak more clearly and I attract more and more amazing people into my sphere.  Hallelujah.

Aging has also shed some serious light on the BIG LIFE questions such as:  Who am I?  What do I believe? What is my style?  What foods make me feel good? What kind of partner is good for me?  What am I going to be when I grow up?  And the list goes on.

Although I’ll always be a truth seeker and I still find myself stumbling along at times, on most days I find myself standing firmly on solid ground — belief system in tack and clear purpose leading me forward.  I even found myself a NICE guy who makes me laugh, listens deeply, accepts everything about me and shows up when he says he will.  This, my friends, is a sign of the times.

I tell you what, it’s amazing how much energy I’ve FREED UP by no longer worrying about things that don’t actually matter or by spending time with people who do not feed my soul.  Instead, I use my energy to create art, inspire others, spread love, manifest big dreams and tend to my body, mind and spirit.  Did I mention travel the world, do cartwheels on the beach, volunteer in disaster zones and write books?

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I’m grateful to say that my life feels more grounded, soulful,  connected and FUN than ever before.  This is not to say it’s all smooth sailing from here, but the waters do feel pretty calm around here thanks to all the years of brave navigating that have brought me here.

Here’s to celebrating life with each and every delicious year.

***Head on over to Sussanah’s blog for links to many other inspiring tales on aging from rockin’ women around the world.  So juicy!

 

Blooming True in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

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What an amazing week this has been.

Sharing seven soulful days of painting, laughing and connecting with sixteen amazing women gathered from all parts of the globe (U.S., Canada, Honduras and South Africa), has left me, once again, in a state of gratitude and awe for the work I get to do in this world.  Although an incredible amount of energy goes into creating these special retreats, I can’t think of anything more rewarding than being a part of the beautiful transformations I witnessed here this week…on and off the canvas.

I will let these images tell the rest of the story…

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Our “Heart Circle” altar where we began each day. A place for meditation, poetry, speaking from the heart…and the occasional morning churros with Mexican hot chocolate :)
 
 
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Beautiful traditional rooms at Casa Carmen (with goody bags waiting!).
 
 
Paintings created for my students as a part of our Opening Ceremony.
 

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Day one.  First Layers.  “Freeing up!”
 

Our lovely "studio" aka classic Mexican courtyard from above.

Day two.  Our courtyard “studio” from above.
 
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Pretty happy accidents all over the ground. 
 
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Day three.  Paintings taking shape (and afternoon sunbeams flooding our courtyard with amazing light!).
 
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Diving into some collaborative painting…teamwork makes the dream work.
 
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A sweet day off at the local hot springs.  Time for soaking, sketching and lounging on Mexican blankets in the sun.  Yum.
 
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Back to the courtyard for some more leisurely days of painting.
 
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Out on the town in San Miguel…surrounded by inspiration.
 
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My first demo paintings in progress…Mexican influence in full effect.
 
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So many beautiful connections forming between my students. 
 
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Our mantra for this day was:  Make commitments to NOW…but stay open to change.
 
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My second demo painting.  Showing how “soft and dreamy” can be just as powerful as “edgy and bold.”
 
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By the end of the week, everyone was firmly in “the zone.”  Hours passed by quickly and our courtyard took on a surreal and sacred quality.
 
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At the end of every retreat, we honor the painting and our journey by having a “show.”  Seeing all the brave intuitive paintings gathered together blows me away every time.
 

I hope this offers you a little slice of the magic we experienced here this week.  Big thanks to all my students for making the week so special and fun, and extra thanks to Rebecca Brooks and Rachael Rice for all their amazing support in making it happen.  I couldn’t do it without you!

Grateful, xo flora
 

*  To read about the retreat from a student’s perspective, please check out Valen Dawson’s travel blog, This Way to Paradise.

*  To experience the Bloom True adventure without flying to Mexico, sign up for the next round of Bloom True: the E-Course (a soulful five-week online course) beginning in one week from today!

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 Adios y gracias!!

Seek Your Tribe

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I believe the commonly held idea of artists toiling away alone in their studios, isolated from each other, guarding their techniques and often in some state of despair is becoming a thing of the past.  It’s a myth that no longer serves our collective human need to come together, support each other and move our evolution story forward.  The bottom line is:

 We need each other.

 We need each other to heal our isolation stories, to remember we are all connected and to find inspiration among our creative peers.  We need each other to feel seen, heard and understood, and to know we are not alone on our creative journeys.  Often, we don’t even know why we need each other until we find each other!

But once it happens, it’s hard to imagine life without our tribe.

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 [Image: Zipporah Lomax]

 As a person who brings creative people together for a living, I witness the power of gathering every time I teach.  It often begins with shy hesitation — a time to test the water and feel out the container.  Is it safe?  Can I be vulnerable?  Who are my people here?  However, it does not take long for the walls to come down.  Often it feels like a collective exhale.  Finally!  We can be ourselves with all our creative idiosyncrasies in tact.  This, my friends, is when we are able to come alive.

 This is when we shine.

 So.  How do you find these tribes of like-minded creatives?  If you work alone in your studio all day, it’s unlikely that your people will magically appear at the door.  You need to take action.  I suggest first becoming clear on who you want to attract and then align your energy to SEEK them out.  Remember, energy attracts energy and intentions play a powerful role as well.  Here are a few ways you might seek your tribe:

  • Sign up for an online class or in-person retreat.  Both formats are great ways to connect with people who may share similar interests.
  • Reach out to people you currently admire from afar.  They might really love to hear from you.
  • Start talking about what kind of community you want to find or create.  The more you clearly state your desires, the stronger they become.
  • Hang up a sign at your local art supply store or community art space that lets people know you are seeking a creative tribe.  Chances are, you are not alone.
  • Be active on social media.  There are so many ways to connect virtually these days, but you need to be active in order to be seen.
  • Invite people you already know to come together.  Often times, people just need an invitation…or a leader.

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 [Image: Zipporah Lomax]

The more we can surround ourselves with people who are living and creating in ways we admire, the easier it is to stay on our own creative paths.  What kind of tribe do you have?  How did you find them?  What do they bring into your life?  I would love to hear about your experiences with creative communities on the Bloom True Facebook page or on Twitter.  Remember to use the hashtag #bloomtrue when posting.

For a peek at the creative tribe gathered with me in Mexico right now, click here.  We have been collaborating up a storm and having so much fun!

This post is taken from my free weekly “Seeds of Inspiration” letter.  Every week, I send out a “Seed” with my current musings, insights and reflections on brave intuitive painting and living.  To receive these letters in your inbox weekly, please sign up here.

Thanks ya’ll!

xo flora

 

 

 

Dreamy San Miguel de Allende

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Hi friends….and greetings from beautiful San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  I’m in the midst of fulfilling a dream I’ve had for awhile to live and paint in this magical mountain town, and I’m happy to say it’s finally happening!

This is not my first time here.  For the past two years, I’ve taught workshops in San Miguel, each time craving more time to soak up the colors and vibrant culture here and to translate this inspiration into my own paintings.  I’ll be teaching here again next week, but first…some me time.

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I rented a lovely home (painting studio included), and hopped on a plane in early January.  I’ve been in San Miguel for two weeks now, and everyday feels a bit more homey.  My days are filled with painting, writing, wandering the cobblestone streets, eating every variety of taco you can imagine, practicing my Spanish and sitting in the sun (filling up on Vitamin D fill before I head back to Portland).

Interestingly, the late owner of the home I rented, Leigh Hyams, was also a prolific painter, teacher and writer, and I’m feeling her energy so much here.  I’m quite sure it is no coincidence that I landed in her lovely space.  Everything happens for a reason.

Another dream that is manifesting beautifully here in Mexico is my dream of bringing together some of my favorite artists friends to collaborate, dream, scheme, play and paint together away from our respective homes.

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Anahata Katkin (founding artist of Papaya! Art) and Alena Hennessy (author of Cultivating your Creative Life) took me up on the invite, and for the past week we’ve been painting and collaborating up a storm.  Creating alongside these talented ladies has inspired me in so many ways and reminded me how passionate I am about collaboration.  I see LOTS more of this kind of gathering in my future…and maybe even a film project and book?  Inspiration is afoot.

More pics of our collaboration over on Facebook.

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{Collaborative painting by Anahata Katkin, Alena Hennessy and Flora Bowley}

In addition to our collaborations, I’ve also been doing quite a lot of my own painting here.  I’m working with mixed media on paper and the paintings are flowing out of me quite effortlessly…love that when that happens!  I’m remembering (once again) how important it is to get out of my comfort zone and away from my home turf.  There is something so electric about painting in a new place with unique energy, fresh light and endless color inspiration.

I’m rolling with all the inspiration and feeling really experimental too.  I’m playing with different mediums, new imagery and a more rapid pace of creating.  The phrase that keeps going through my head is, “Por Que No?” Translation = Why not?  Looking forward to sharing this new mantra with my students here next week.

A few of my works in progress…

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work in progress

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I’ll leave you with some more San Miguel de Allende eye candy.  It’s everywhere here, and I’ve been having a lot of fun posting my version of this lovely place on my Instagram feed.

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Oh, and I’ve also been getting in touch with my inner cowgirl…

Yeehaw, giddy up, love to all, adios!  xo flora

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2013 :: Thank You + Good Bye

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I’ve always had a thing for New Year’s Eve.  Even when I was little, I felt a strange mandatory pressure to stay up until the apple dropped in New York City…while the rest of my family was fast asleep.  Alone with the T.V., I would do a little New Year’s dance, watch the crowds of people celebrating and eventually make my way to bed, feeling satisfied that I had “properly” acknowledged the passing of another year.

Although I still love a good party on New Year’s Eve, it’s the days leading up to the New Year that I relish now.  I cherish this quiet reflective time nestled between the holiday bustle and back-to-business-as-usual.  The calm in the air is like a deep exhale providing time to think back on the year as a whole and set intentions for the twelve months ahead.  For some of us, it’s also a time to blog :)

*Admittedly, I wrote this post mostly for myself as a way to chronicle, reflect and honor 2013, and to clear the path for 2014, but I hope you glean some insights too…or perhaps you’ll be inspired to write and reflect on your own journey as we move into the year ahead?

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To say 2013 was a big year would be a bit of an understatement.  My words for 2013 were Collaboration and Ease, and I’m happy to say both were in full effect.  Upon reflection, I’m going to add LOVE to the list, another central core message/practice for me this year.

The year started off with a collaborative live painting gig with my dear friend, Lynzee Lynx, in front of thousands of people at the Inspire Truth New Year’s party.  This was truly a potent experience and one that set the stage for a year of collaborative exploration.  I wove the element of collaboration into all of my workshops and was so happy with the results.  Watching my students laugh, play and paint together, while letting go of the “preciousness” of  “MY painting,” made my heart sing and opened the door to a whole new way of approaching the process.

In January, I returned to beautiful San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for my second year of teaching there.  As expected, the retreat was a gorgeous coming together of vibrant women in a magical place.  This view of our courtyard pretty much sums it up.

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Upon my return home from Mexico, I happily moved into the house I spent a year designing and building.  Having lived communally with other artists for my entire adult life, moving into my own space for the very first time was a bit of a dream.  I spent months indulging my interior decorating geek and lavishing in the quiet of my own space.  Moving into my less than 700 foot square house also proved to be a great way to sort, purge and redefine how much one actually needs to live comfortably.  I still wake up everyday grateful for my little cocoon.

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In February, I ventured into new territory by entering the world of online dating.  I’m pretty sure I could write a whole book about my experience (Brave Intuitive Dating!), but I’ll keep it short and say that after *many* awkward dates and misadventures…it happened.  We both felt the connection the second we met, and the past ten months have proved initial spark to be true. I’m beyond grateful for finding this kind of love in my life…and with the most adorable middle school math teacher to boot. #lovethatabouthim

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If you’ve been following along here this year, you probably remember my “Thirty Day Blog Love Affair” that happened back in April.  I mention it here because it was such a sweet chapter in my year.  My intention was to fall back in love with my blog and to re-ignite my relationship with writing and sharing by writing a blog everyday for thirty days in a row.  It worked!  My final post also turned into my name change “coming out” party, a beautiful and vulnerable experience.  You can read about the whole shebang in the most recent edition of Somerset Life Magazine’s.  Woot!

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Another collaborative highlight for me this year was the creation of Soul Shine Studio.  This project is the collective coming together of three of my fave art buddies, Kelly Rae Roberts, Pixie Campbell, Lynzee Lynx and myself.  Together we share a lovely downtown Portland studio space used for dreaming, scheming, gathering, teaching, creating…and chilling.  Our connection has grown so deep as a result of this shared space…a constant source of inspiration, support and hilarity.

I’m also so happy to have connected with Miss Rachael Rice, my rock solid, rock star assistant.  I can honestly say I don’t know what I’d do without her support.

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In May, I had the pleasure of returning to Bali once again (it’s becoming a second home of sorts). This time around I taught two week-long retreats in two of my favorite spots: Amed and Ubud.  I was joined by a couple of dear friends and the whole experience was deeply heart opening and full of adventure…as Bali always is.

Back on home turf, I taught two Northwest workshops: one at Soul Shine studio in Portland, and one in lovely Pt. Townsend, WA.  In the Fall, I journeyed to the East coast where I taught back-to-back workshops in Brooklyn and Boston.  Reflecting back on all these gatherings, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the richness of this “work” I am so blessed to do in the lifetime.  I have met the most amazing people, witnessed huge transformation and walked away a better person for all of it.  I’m truly grateful to walk this path, and so look forward to more next year (I’m leaving for Mexico tomorrow)!

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This year also brought together three amazing groups of “bloomers’ from all over the world to participate in my Bloom True E-course.  I’ve run my course six times now, improving and changing it each time, and I’m consistently blown away by the impact it seems to have on people and on ME.  Every course is truly adventure of the heart and soul, and with each new group, I feel vulnerable, alive, on the edge, empowered, nervous and elated as we move through the experience together.

In September, I released all new videos for the course, along with some reflections on the fear I had to move through in order to film all those videos — stepping out of my comfort at it’s finest, and worth every moment.

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In closing, I’m happy to report that I managed to spend a decent amount of time painting in my own studio this year…a welcome shift from the past couple of years.  I’ve posted my 2013 collection right here for your viewing pleasure :)

Thank you so much for following along on this ever-unfolding journey of art, love, life and growth.  I am forever grateful.  Wishing you joyful moments and abundant love in 2014.

I hope it blows our minds.

xo flora

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Embracing awkward

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Question: Is there something you have always wanted to do that lingers in the back of your mind…whispering?  I actually have a bit of a choir going on up there, so much to do in this one short life.  But I’m happy to say I just checked off one lil’ desire:

TRAPEZE & AERIAL SILKS CLASS.  Done and done. 

Well, really I’ve just begun, but I did complete a seven-week series, and I’m pretty sure I’ll go back for more.

To say I was nervous going into my first class would be a pretty big understatement.  I arrived 45 minutes early just to make sure I wouldn’t feel rushed, walked into the slightly terrifying, yet super beautiful room at Night Flight Studio and quickly tried to make a buddy.  There were about twelve of us first-timers there — all women, all fit, and all seemingly in their twenties.  Deep breath.  I held my own during the half-hour warm-up, although my arms were already starting to burn.  oh shit.

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After warm-ups, we split into two groups: half on the trapeze, half on the aerial silks.  I started on the silks…Saweeeet.  I will admit this is the main reason I was in the class.  I’ve always been in awe of sexy graceful women who seem to effortlessly (yeah right) climb, wrap and suspend themselves from colorful fabric pieces in midair.  Needless to say, my first attempts were far from sexy or graceful…or effortless.  Words like awkward, weak and way-harder-than-it-looks come to mind.  However!  I did manage to climb my way up to the very top which felt like a huge small success.

Onward to the trapeze. 

I think it goes without saying that swinging from my knees from a swinging bar was not the most comfortable thing I’ve done recently. In fact, it really hurt.  As did white-knuckling the thick ropes as I attempted to suspend my entire body while lifting my knees to my chest.  Again, not. sexy.

As hard as it was, I did commit to showing up seven weeks in a row…attempting new tricks, feeling totally lame and waking up all kinds of sore the next day.  I’m pretty sure I was the worst person in the class.

By the third week, my mantra became, “It’s amazing that I’m even in the room,” which *did* actually make me feel better every time I said it to myself.  All in all, it was an awesome and super humbling experience.  Being “bad” at something or brand new to something forced me to strip away my ego, step out of my comfort zone and……drum roll please…..

STILL BE OK.

In fact, I was more than OK.  I was better for it.  And, I have the blisters to prove it.

What whisper will you answer in the new year???

xo

 

 

 

 

 

Give the Gift of Creative Freedom! 2 for 1 E-Course Special

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Hi friends.!  Just a quick note to make sure you know about the special offer I am running on my Bloom True E-Course right now.  If you register for the course before Dec. 19th, 2013, (that would be this Thursday), we will send you a gift voucher for another spot in the course.  You can gift the spot to someone you love…what a groovy and meaningful gift!  Or, you can find a friend to do the course with you, pay for one spot, and get the second spot for free.  In other words, get 50% off each course.  Sweet!

You do not need any special coupon code to receive your gifted spot.  Simply, go to the registration page and sign up by Dec. 19th, and we will send your gift voucher by Dec. 21st.  The next course starts on Feb. 10th, 2014, and runs for five weeks.  To get more of a feel for the course, please watch the short promo video below, read the testimonials or find out more on the E-Course info page.

I would love to paint with you in the new year!

xo flora

*The offer cannot be applied retrospectively to courses already booked.

Testimonials from previous students:

“Words cannot adequately describe the effect this course has had on my life. It is profound. I felt as though I had come home on the very first day. I’m forever grateful.”

“Unbelievable, indescribable. Be ready for it and Flora will bring it to you! Freedom you never knew you had with art!! And it brings something out in you that you thought you had but were never sure!”

“Brilliant, invaluable for those on a creative journey, a “must-do’ if you are stuck and want to move yourself to a higher creative level.”

“Mindblowing! If you are willing to let go, to really stop and listen to what your own heart is telling you, you will be amazed at what blooms true. Do it!”

“FABULOUS! It is impossible to take this course without learning something. The “lessons” will root themselves in your soul and continue to bloom even after the course is complete.”

“I would highly recommend the class to anyone interested in a holistic embracing life changing experience, it’s not just about painting but a great place to start if your new to painting.”

“I am inspired beyond words–inspired in a quiet, accepting place in my heart. I’m inspired to layer paints and play–until magically, scenes from the natural world emerge and fill me with surprise and awe and wonder. This class gathered all of the unconventional parts of me and gave them a space where the peace of union with that something which is bigger than us all–the quiet and “knowing” that is grounded in belief yet set free by intuition–this is the place this class took me to. Flora and Beth’s meticulous planning and guidance provided a safe and inspiring place to join with others and celebrate the creative process.”

“It has taught me that there is no right or wrong way to paint. It has inspired me so much to be brave and just go for it and find what feels good to me. It has helped me to let go of my fear of a blank canvas.”

“This course has impacted so many areas of my life and just the way I experience and respond to each day. I feel more ‘aware’ and definitely more BRAVE (I’m getting there, anyway!). I’ve been inspired, encouraged and nourished. I’ve begun to learn how to let go, be bold and to embrace joy and to trust my own creative process.”

“This course opened me up to infinite possibility. It’s been over a decade since I felt this much creative energy flowing from within. It’s exhilarating. I actually feel like the creative life I constantly dream of is an attainable goal. This course helped free me from the stagnancy of perfectionism and self-doubt. Before this class I always felt myself trying to create what I thought others might want, after this class I’ve learned to trust myself and just be me–the rest will follow.”

“I love how Flora intersects painting and life and does it brilliantly. She is vulnerable and full of joy and if you ever get a chance to take her course… well don’t even think about it…just do it. Do not pass up the opportunity of a lifetime. It will change you forever.”

“The biggest impact was to trust in the process that my painting would turn into a finished piece by following the methods outlined in this course….and they did! I loved the mix of body, mind and spirit with the painting instruction! It truly has changed the way I create in to a positive, fun, intuitive experience! I love what I am making.”

“The impact is pretty profound…Until I started the course I had been really stuck and quite lost in my own process…I was all in my head about what I wanted and/or ‘should’ paint. The intuitive painting process totally turned that around – I was once again reminded of a sense of play, my own intuitive strength, of balancing body/mind/spirit and using my whole being and letting go of expectation. Experimenting, being open to throwing on paint just to see what would happen and knowing I could at any point transform and change it all up at any time! Wonderful and so very freeing! Plus, really being encouraged to go inside and outside to identify and explore personal imagery. Amazing and also a process I can use over and over again! Love it!”

“It impacted my view on perfection and my expectation to complete something quickly. I was able to take my time, be patient with the process and enjoy it. It also has helped in my daily life with my family. I am more patient with them as well. Not always thinking about the outcome, but the process. Meaningful time spent with each other.”

“I am finally returning to a confident woman after going through a breakdown/transformation which started 2 years ago. This course was the light at the end of my transformation tunnel. I feel like I have gained the most beautiful wings and become myself again, but a better version.”

“I feel better equipped in mind, body, and spirit to make painting a part of my daily ritual. Greatly appreciated learning painting-related philosophy/method/techniques in such a well organized and succinct way.”

“The course changed the way I paint forever. I was never brave or bold -, in fact I did not even know this style of painting existed. I am still doing my own style but now it’s enhanced and exciting and loose and free. I really did Bloom True and I am so very excited.”

“It’s hard to quantify it, but I was feeling really really stuck before I took this course and I was feeling deeply distressed about it. Somehow this course made me realize what is really important for me in life and how to prioritize my life so that I can have those things I need: good health (lessened fear), art in the form of painting and expressing myself through it. I felt so nurtured throughout the process and I think my art has grown leaps and bounds and best of all now I have more tools in my toolbox to access when I’m feeling stuck. I know this course has forever impacted me and my painting.”

“I have been painting for years and always fight with the big freeze. It is like my arm and head do not connect. Now, it is like Magic. I know there are many images and feelings in side of me that want out. Right now I just can’t stop painting, my arm is even sore. I have let go and gotten out of my own way to just let the paint do the talking. My images come so freely now. I didn’t take the class to paint like Flora; I took it to paint like me. Now it just comes bubbling out. I’m in my 60′s but I’ve gone back to the drawings I did as a child. It was in my head and on hold all this time.”

“Amazing……it has impacted on both my art and life. I have learnt to play and let go of the inner critic….freedom.”

“The beginning of a new artistic chapter in my life…”

“The course has recalibrated my artistic soul. I approach art in a more fun and care-free way now. Flora’s perspective to painting and art is so empowering because she starts from a place of abundance where everyone is an artist and has their art inside of them. She encourages us and gives us tools to discover and uncover this soulful art that already exists in that place deep within. The manageable pace was very freeing.”

“So inspiring, powerful and life-enhancing. There was an incredible amount of content in this course and I loved the soulful aspects on the in-between painting days. Very beautifully presented and professional.”

“If you want to dream in washes of color for five weeks, then wake up looking forward to charming Flora’s daily posts, paintings taking over your home, and gaining a great joy and confidence in painting from your soul, don’t miss this online course.”

“Flora’s class is an uplifting, experimental, colourful journey! She helped me discover an artist in myself that I have never met before (even though I have been producing art my whole life)!”

“This course is truly inspiring, every aspect has been cleverly constructed. Flora gently leads you through the process of creating beautiful freeing marks right through to finding your path to the finished painting. The lessons are filled with great information that applies to both painting and life philosophies. The whole experience has been so much fun to participate in, with the added benefit of sharing it with like-minded people around the world.”

“Painting as a whole body-mind-spirit experience! The BEST course I’ve ever taken…”

“A wonderful journey in self discovery, being brave, letting go and painting with wild abandonment! I just loved it! The course might be over but the journey is just beginning… I will take all the lessons and apply them to my life and my painting from now on.”

“I will never paint the same way again. I will never be intimidated by a blank canvas again. I will never stop painting…ever.”

“It’s more than just learning to paint beautiful pictures- it’s learning to live a beautiful life.”

Online Mini Painting Sale Tomorrow!

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One of my favorite conversations to have with people is about what REALLY lights them up.  It is one the most direct ways to  understand a person’s heart and soul-calling and often leads to the kind of juicy conversations I love the most.

My “light up” moments usually happen when I’m painting and connecting with people I am truly inspired by.  So, for the past year I’ve been combining these passions by exploring collaborative painting, and guess what?  I love it.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been jumping out of bed on the days I get to paint with one of my dearest friends, Lynzee Lynx…talk about feeling lit up.  We have been having SO. MUCH. FUN. co-creating a group of 60 little paintings, passing them back and forth and adding our unique touches until they are complete.

Lynx is a total pro when it comes to adding fine details with paint pens, and she also spent hours hand cutting stencils and tiny paper cutouts just for this project.  I, of course, love color combining, adding translucent layers and layering organic imagery. Together, we are stumbling upon some pretty amazing new territory and creating some kick ass lil’ paintings along the way.

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As you might imagine, we are super excited to share our new creations with you all soon….like tomorrow! We will be hosting an Online Sale starting tomorrow (Dec. 10th) at 10am here on my website under the “Shop” tab.  Each unique painting is 8″ x 8″ created with mixed media on thick bamboo and finished with a high-gloss resin top coat.  The paintings will come with a hole in the back and rubber bumpers on the corners, so they are ready to hang right on your wall.

All paintings will be $150 each (including shipping in the U.S.  International shipping available).  Paintings will ship out within five days of the sale (pssst….a great gift idea).  We will also be donating a percentage of every sale to support one of our favorite Portland non-profit organizations, p:ear, a creative mentoring program for homeless youth.  P:ear does amazing work and we are thrilled to support them with the work we do.

We will also be offering prints of a handful of our new minis.

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We have a hunch the Minis will sell out pretty fast, so if you are keen on owning a lil’ orginal art, please tune in as close to 10am as possible.  Thanks friends…we look forward to seeing you tomorrow!

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Leaving you with a sweet lil’ video created by my friend, Zipporah Lomax.  A sneak peek inside my studio and our Mini making process…enjoy! xo flora

Introducing: “Heart to Hand: A Love Letter Project”

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I love this time of year for all the obvious reasons…the coziness, the boots and scarves, the deliciousness of gathering with friends around a fire, the steamy drinks.  You know, all the usual suspects.  However, the real magic of this time of year comes for me in the form of gratitude and time for deep soul reflection (i.e. getting my priorities straight). I’ve been doing quite a bit of both lately.

During one recent conversations about what really matters in life, I found myself talking about letter writing.  I was wistfully lamenting the lost art of the handwritten letter, or any letter that ends up in an actual mailbox for that matter.  I used to love sitting down to write heartfelt letters and like everyone, I love receiving letters.  However, I honestly can’t remember the last time I wrote a real letter…until this morning.  Enter in my latest brain child:

  Heart to Hand: a Love Letter Project

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I’ll admit, I have a thing for projects that are contained within time frames.  Likely due to my wildly unpredictable schedule and lifestyle, I enjoy building myself walls to operate inside of…for awhile.  I think they make setting myself free again that much sweeter.

For example, when I first moved to Portland, I created, “The Thirty Shows.”  I asked 30 artists to create 30 paintings in 30 days. We sold each painting for 30 bucks to raise money for some groovy causes, and the whole thing was a huge success.  Last April, I embarked on my “Thirty Day Blog Love Affair” writing a blog everyday for a month in order to kick start my relationship to blogging again.  Also…a winner.

This time around, it’s all about letter writing which also happens to be all about slowing down, mindfulness and gratitude.  So, for each day of December, I will write a hand-written letter to someone I love.  I have no list of people in mind to receive these letters.  Instead, I plan to sit down everyday, meditate for a few minutes and allow someone I love to float into my heart and mind.  Today’s first letter was written to one of my dearest friends and teachers who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  Spending an hour writing a letter to express my gratitude and love for this friend was so healing.  I’m already looking forward to tomorrow’s letter!

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If you are feeling inspired, I would love to have you join me in this project.  Whether it’s a month of letters or just a few, let’s all take some time to sit down, slow down and express our love and gratitude to the people who mean the most to us.  I’m pretty sure this is a REALLY good way to spend some time.  If you join in the project and do any posting about it, let’s use the hashtag: #hearttohand.  It will be fun to see everyone’s pics in one place.

And, if writing on something really pretty will help the words to flow, I just so happen to have some lovely new holiday cards created by Papaya Art for all your letter writing needs.  All these cards and, well, EVERYTHING in my online store is 20% off until tomorrow at midnight, PST.  Just use the coupon code: GRATEFUL4U to receive your discount. Cheers!

Happy writing.  Happy loving.  Happy slowing down!

xo flora

 

*Winners Announced!* Brave Intuitive Painting JOURNAL (it’s new!) Give Away + 20% off Gratitude for YOU sale!

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*Thank you ALL for your heartfelt comments and kind words. I appreciate hearing from you so much.* 

Congratulations to the following (randomly selected) winners of my new Brave Intuitive Painting Art Journal Give Away!  I am so happy to pass along my new art journals to you all.  I hope they offer lots of new inspiration in the new year…

MariaTherese Bygdin

Kiki Kougioumtzi

Gwynne Beatty

Tricia Tharp

Michelle Myhill

Hi friends.  I’m really excited to announce the release of my groovy new interactive journals based on my book, Brave Intuitive Painting. This hard-covered interactive journal is bursting with colorful images, helpful techniques, tips, ideas, and inspirational prompts…all from yours truly :)

To show you a glimpse inside the journal pages, I made a nifty little video (below), and to celebrate it’s release, I’m giving away FIVE free journals here today.  Whohoooo!  Please leave a comment below about how you cultivate inspiration for your creative life to enter the Give Away.  I will randomly choose five winners tomorrow.

In the meantime, if you are interested in purchasing a signed copy of these new little gems (AWESOME holiday gift idea!), they are available now in my online store.  And, speaking of my store, I’m excited to announce my 20% off “Gratitude for YOU” online sale starting today and running through Monday, Dec, 2nd (midnight PST).

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Gratitude for YOU 20% off Sale Starts Today!

For one full week, I’m happy to offer you 20% off all my Lifestyle Goodies (tote bags, journals, pouches, sticky notes, wallets, lamps, holiday cards, etc), Giclee Prints, Original Paintings, and signed copies of my book!

We will also include a free Mini Journal with all orders over $50. Shipping is free within the US.

*Please use the coupon code GRATEFUL4U to receive your discount*

Thank you so much for your continued support.  Wishing you all a wonderfully cozy and inspired Holiday Season.

Grateful always,

xo flora

Pssst….please hit the play button below to see a peak inside my new Brave Intuitive Painting Journal.

Saying YES, feeling CLEAR, and making RAD stuff

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As you likely know, I’m a big fan of collaboration, so when Matt Butler, the dynamic conductor of the amazing Everyone Orchestra, asked me if I’d be interested in painting a tuxedo jacket and matching hat for him, it was a very clear YES.

Let me start by saying that I totally dig the whole concept behind the Everyone Orchestra.  Their positive high-energy shows blend a unique line-up of different (always uber-talented) musicians and there is no “Set List” … only improvisation, talent and trust.

“Tuning in to his energy, the band and audience utilize The Conductor as their pivot to the set mood of each passing jam as he communicates with the musicians using hand signs, whiteboard and assorted mime suggestions.” -www.everyoneorchestra.com

Talk about collaboration, trust, and embracing the unknown.

Clearly, these are my people.

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Beyond the obvious radness of this whole intuitive approach to making music,  I’m also a big fan of Matt’s dedication to working with visual artists to create his outfits.  When he asked me to design a suite for him, Matt gave me no guidelines and no requirements.  He simply said, “I love your work.  Just do your thing.”

This is a man who gets it…again, a clear YES

To add to the spirit of collaboration, I invited my favorite collaborator and friend, Lynzee Lynx, to help me create something truly unique. We did a little bit of planning, but mostly just allowed the design to evolve organically as we played with stencils, spray paint, acrylic paint and paint pens.  We had so much fun painting on our new “canvas” and velvety top hat, that we are now dreaming about a clothing line.  Can’t you just see jean jackets and leggings with these designs?!  We can.

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Once again, this whole suit making experience/experiment assured me that trusting my intuition, working with people and projects that I admire, and only saying YES only when things feels awesomely in alignment is simply the only way to roll these days.

<<<Grateful for it all>>>

Registration for February Bloom True class now open!

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Image: Zipporah Lomax

Hi everyone!  Just a quick note to let you know that registration is now open for the next round of my Bloom True E-course. The next five-week course will begin in February, 2014, and you will have six months of extended access after the course finishes (so you can go back over it whenever you want during that time).

I continue to be floored by the response to this course… so many breakthroughs and deep transformations happening both on and off the canvas. If you are feeling the call to join in the adventure, please book your place now.  The last class SOLD OUT, so please don’t hesitate to grab a spot sooner than later. I would love to see you there.

If you want to find out a little more about the course, click on the image below to see what this transformational approach to painting is all about.

 

Here are a few comments from participants of the latest course to give you a flavor of what to expect.

“Flora you stream inspiration… It is clear to me you are having a very profound effect on many and facilitating personal shifts that are deep and freeing… even more than being personally inspired, being witness to the ripple of inspiration that is set in motion by one individual sharing her innate joy in such a generous way is the best gift of all and multiplies the inspiration.”

“I have learned so much about my Self and my Life as I follow the course. I see how who I’m being is reflected on the canvas…”

“I’m not only daring to push my limits and boundaries in painting but also in all aspects of my life.”

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On Letting Go

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Image: Flora Bowley

One of the big changes I made to my current Bloom True E-course was shifting the theme of Week Two from ‘Play’ to ‘Letting Go.’  The other week’s themes — Intuition, Your Inspiring Life, Being Brave and Blooming True — remain the same, but there was always something about ‘Play’ that never totally resonated with me.

And then it hit me.  ‘Play” is simply one way of letting go.

Considering the first third of my book, (Brave Intuitive Painting,) is dedicated entirely to the idea of letting go, you would think this might have translated into my e-course sooner.  Yes, well, apparently, I’m learning right along with everyone here, and all I can say now is that I’m so grateful I made this shift.

The current (amazing, I might add) group of “bloomers” just finished up their week of ‘Letting Go.’  We focused on letting go of what no longer serves our highest good.  It was a deep, soulful and often liberating  journey for many, including myself.  Not only did we let go with paint, but we allowed the idea of letting go to make its way into our daily life as well.

We let go of negative stories, unhealthy habits, regret, anger, shame, the need to control and maybe even some of those clothes we haven’t worn since 1989. We created letting go ceremonies, wrote affirmations and shared our heartfelt stories with the group.

One thing that was really amazing to witness this week was the community support that emerged.  So much love, compassion and permission to be authentic going on!  I’m loving it, and definitely experiencing a great sense of awe and gratitude for the opportunity to create such a sweet container to hold this deep heartfelt work.

Total dream job.

It seems we (the human race) have quite a bit of letting go to do these days.  I suppose this is what waking up, evolving, reclaiming our voices, power and authenticity is all about, ey?  I, for one, am ready.  What are you ready to let go of?  What are you carrying around that is weighing you down?  Can you lighten your load by simply…letting go?

I will leave you with this beautiful poem written by Rev. Safir Rose, and shared by one of my students in the course.  Have a beautiful weekend everyone.

xo flora

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Prettiest holiday cards EVER

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OK.  I’m admittedly not being very humble here, but seriously you guys, these new holiday cards designed by Papaya! are so GORGEOUS…so much so that I’m actually feeling inspired to send holiday cards for the first time in, like, fifteen years.  Perhaps they will inspire you too?  We are selling packs of five (of the same design) for $20, and packs of ten (one of each design) for only $30 (shipping within the US is included).

Get your holiday cheer on today!

(if that is even allowed before Halloween?)

Cruise on over to Lifestyle Goodies to check out the cards in all their glorious detail…insides and all.

HOLIDAY-CARD-SET

 xo flora

Life Book 2014 Give Away Winner Announced

Hi all.  Just a quick note to thank you for your wonderful comments about why you would like to participate in Life Book 2014.  It was a pleasure to read them all and feel your excitement.  I’m happy to announce that the winner of this year-long art making extravaganza is Maureen McCauley of lightofdaystories.com. Congrats Maureen!  Hope you enjoy the journey that is Life Book…

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For those of you who are still interested in participating in this grand adventure, registration for Life Book 2014 opens this Monday.  Hope to see you there!

xo flora

 

A Give Away to Life Book 2014!

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UPDATE: Thank you for all your wonderful comments.  I’m happy to announce the winner of the Life Book 2014 Give Away is: Maureen McCauley of lightofdaystories.com. Congrats Maureen!

Life Book 2014 registration opens next Monday.  Join us for the adventure?

Hi everybody. Have you heard about Life Book yet?  It’s a really lovely year-long mixed media online art class put together by Tamara LaPorte.  I had the pleasure of meeting Tamara last year in the UK and she is super fun and dedicated to spreading the joy of creativity far and wide. Life book offers creative insights through video lessons, prompts, images and writing by 22 amazing teachers throughout the year.  What a great way to learn some new approaches and techniques!

I’m very honored to be one of these teachers this year…my first time.  My contribution to the course will be a class inspired by my recent infatuation with using non-traditional “brushes” such as vegetables, flowers, sticks, etc.  I will also be sharing some Bloom True tips and a meditation track.

And, guess what? I’m giving away one free spot for Life Book 2014 right here today!  Simply leave a comment in the comment section about why you would like to participate in this offering and you might just win this awesome year-long creative adventure.

"True North" created with potato stamps!

“True North” created with potato stamps!

Check out all the other lovely blogs and teachers below.  What an amazing group!  Hope to see you there.  xo flora

Life Book Blog Hop

12th Sept 2013 - Tamara Laporte – www.willowing.org

13th Sept 2013 – Tascha Parkinson – www.timewithtascha.blogspot.ca

14th Sept 2013 - Lesley Riley – www.lesleyriley.com

15th Sept 2013 – Alena Hennessy – www.alenahennessy.com

16th Sept2013 – Kat McBride – www.KatCanPaint.com

17th Sept 2013 – Carla Sonheim – www.carlasonheim.com

18th Sept 2013 – Jane Davenport – www.janedavenport.com

19th Sept 2013 – Danielle Daniel – www.danielledaniel.com

20th Sept 2013 – Jennibellie – www.jennibelliestudio.blogspot.com

23rd Sept2013 – Kelly Hoernig – www.kellyhoernig.webs.com

24th Sept 2013 – Micki Wilde – www.thesecrethermit.blogspot.co.uk

25th Sept 2013 – Kate Thompson – www.fracturedangelics.blogspot.com

26th Sept 2013 – Flora Bowley – www.florabowley.com

27th Sept2013 – Anna Dabrowska – www.tworzysko.blogspot.co.uk

28th Sept 2013 – Steven Speight – www.speightoftheart.com

29th Sept 2013 – Mika Diaz – www.mikadiazmixedmedia.com

30th Sept 2013 - Serena Bridgeman – www.serenarty.com

1st Oct 2013 – Dyan Reaveley – www.dyan-reaveley.blogspot.co.uk

2nd Oct 2013 – Effy Wild – www.effythewild.com

3rd Oct 2013 – Carissa Paige – www.carissapaige.com

4th Oct 2013 - Marieke Blokland – www.bloknote.nl

5th Oct 2013 – Christy Tomlinson – www.christytomlinson.com

6th Oct 2013 – Traci Bautista –www.treicdesigns.com

Introducing Couch Chats! :: with Alena Hennesey

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Something I am crazy grateful for is the tribe of inspiring artists, visionaries and healers I have in my life.  I do not take this part of my life for granted, especially when I hear tales of isolation and lack of creative community from so many people.

Over the past few years, my tribe has been widening.  Through my travels and teaching, I have met so many inspiring creatives (especially women) who are doing amazing things in the world, and I swear our conversations about work, love, art, community and transformation feed my soul like nothing else.  I am always so grateful for these conversations, and I’m often left thinking, “Hey, we should have recorded that!”.  This desire to share inspiration, widen community and spread the love is how “Couch Chats” came to be.

Voila! An idea manifested!

After dreaming about this idea for over a year, I’m really excited to present my very first “chat” with my kindred soul sister, Alena Hennessey.  If you aren’t yet familiar with Alena’s world, I’m happy to be the one to introduce you to it.  Her presence and art exude so much depth, love, wisdom and harmony…an old soul fo’ sure!

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy this candid chat about our upcoming e-courses, new books (mine is just an idea at this point!) and our mutual love of “permission giving.”  I will admit that neither one of us is actually sitting on a couch, in fact, thanks to today’s technology, this conversation actually took place on two different coasts (Portland, OR and Ashville, NC).  However, the spirit of sisterhood and our love of chatting is still very much in tact.

Here we go… (please excuse the small glitchy bit in the middle…we are learning!).

For more info about our upcoming courses, please click below…happy painting ya’ll! xo

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Edge-pushing + the *re-creation* of my online course

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[Image: Zipporah Lomax]

One of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in my life was to step in front of a video camera to create my Bloom True online course.  It pretty much brought up all my deepest fears:

The fear of being seen.  The fear of being heard.  And, the fear of being judged.

[yep, triple wammie...and one that I wrote about right HERE.]

So, when the time came around to re-film the course, I had to dig deep (once again) to muster up the courage to face these fears all over again.  For a week leading up to the shoot, I lost sleep worrying about how it would go, what I would wear, how it would look, what I would say and how the paintings would turn out.

SO.  MANY.  UNKNOWNS.

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[Image: Jill Golden]

When the day came to start shooting, I was grateful to be working with two of my dear friends. Uber-talented vidographer, Zipporah Lomax, was behind the camera and clothing designer extraordinaire, Jill Golden, was our go to girl for food, styling, feedback and general support.  Working with really close and competent friends definitely eased my nerves a bit, but I was still an undeniable wreck inside.

When the filming started, I found myself doing a lot of deep breathing, calling on my guides, grounding meditations and sage burning (you know, all the usual suspects).  I also had a couple of positive affirmations which will likely result in a pretty hilarious “out-takes” montage.

“I’m awesome.” and “I got this.”

were the faves.

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[Image: Zipporah Lomax]

Working from a rough outline and a deep knowing of my process, I allowed my words to flow naturally and from my heart (at least this was the goal) vs. trying to memorize anything ahead of time.  Working in this way felt just like the way I paint…no pre-plotting, no planning, just trust and bravery.  And, to be honest, it wasn’t easy.  I sweated buckets, had a total breakdown in the middle of one of the shoots and struggled to get my paintings to “come together.”  Perhaps you’ve been here before?

It was perfectly un-perfect.

You see, my painting process requires you to release expectations, be brave, listen to your heart and trust that you know what to do (YOU GOT THIS!).  It calls you into a place of mystery — a place full of unknowns and what-ifs.  In these ways, it actually requires you to stand on the edge of what is comfortable, LET GO and SHOW UP.

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[Image: Zipporah Lomax]

And that, my friends, is exactly what I did.  I let go of needing to be perfect.  I let go of worrying about looking like a dork or sounding stupid or being judged.  And, just to be clear, this does not mean those fears vanished.  OH NOOOO.  They were definitely still there in full force, but I CHOOSE to move forward, in spite of them.  I choose to move forward because I have a message to deliver that is larger and more important than my own personal fears and crud.

(And, yep, I’m pretty sure that’s what this whole journey is all about.)

One of my favorite quotes kept circling around in my head throughout this experience:

“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid” - Audre Lorde (1934-92)

Word Audre.  SO TRUE.

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[Image: Zipporah Lomax]

I’m relieved to say, nerves and sweat and all, the new videos turned out BEAUTIFULLY and the messages of patience, trust, authenticity and bravery come through loud and clear.  I’m crazy excited to share all this heartfelt work with you soon…like on September 30th when the latest version of my course begins!

Here’s a little peak of the promotional video we created.  Feel free to share the link (http://vimeo.com/73823819)  or click ‘share’ in the top right corner of the video and help spread the good word.

Cheers to being totally freaked out and doing it anyway.

xo flora

On *not* going to Burning Man

As I sit here in my neighborhood coffee shop in Portland, OR, there are 60,000 plus people gathered in the Nevada dessert celebrating creativity, community, art and radical self expression — yep, pretty much all my favorite things.  I do not hesitate to say that these lucky people are attending the best party on Earth right now and that party is called Burning Man.

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When I close my eyes and let my mind drift, I can *almost* feel the dust and sun on my skin.  This memory is deep in my bones and quick in my mind because for the past seven years in a row I have been among those colorful celebrating humans in the desert— but not this year.

Ever since I discovered the wonders of the ‘playa’ in 2006, I have made this journey part of my yearly ritual.  For me, it’s a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts and one that I look forward to all year long.  In fact, I’ve never *not* considered going on this journey.  It was there in that minimal moonscape that I found lost parts of myself, learned to love my body, discovered how much I love to dance, fell in love, fell out of love, fell in love with myself and experienced what it’s like to live in a city of artists, community builders and radical thinkers.  It was in Black Rock City that…

I found my people. 

I could probably wax poetic for the rest of the day about why I love Burning Man so much and why you should probably make a point of getting there at least once in your lifetime, but I am going to resist.  Instead, I’m going to tell you why I’m sitting here in this coffee shop wearing yoga pants and a sweatshirt instead of climbing an epic piece of art in the middle of the desert wearing a bikini and biker boots.

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It pretty much comes down a feeling of fulfillment — a feeling of actually living the principles of Burning Man every single day of my life these days and not needing to go somewhere else to find them.  Although a trip to Burning Man would likely inspire me in ways I can’t imagine, I’m pretty sure in my current state of FULL, it would also leave me feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.  Thus…the coffee shop.

All week, while the burners have been playing, cracking open and becoming new versions of themselves, I’ve been rejoicing in my most beloved simple pleasures:  riding my bicycle, going to yoga class, cooking soup, taking baths and snuggling with my sweetie.  I’ve also been writing up a storm, preparing for my next (and super updated) online course and plotting my return to Mexico and Bali.  Basically, I’ve been taking care of business…and taking care of me.

I have to say there is still a little piece of my heart out there in the desert this week, but all those Burning Man feelings of freedom, joy, expansion and connection are also residing softly in my heart right here at home.  It just feels  *SO GOOD* to roll gracefully with the current state of my perpetually changing life —- to know when to hold em and know when to fold em, if you will. (thanks Kenny).

But don’t get me wrong, I have a pretty strong hunch I will be returning to my beloved biker boots and dusty skin again next year.  Perhaps I’ll see you there?

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xo flora

Joying Up!

This post is part of my friend Hannah Marcotti’s The Joy Up Stories Series. The Joy Up begins August 1st (that’s tomorrow!) with hundreds of women who are ready to claim their joy and deepen love, ritual, trust and rhythm. Join in the joy by clicking here.

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I love helping my friends who are doing rad empowering things in the world spread the word about said rad empowering things. So, when the lovely and wise, Hannah Marcotti, asked me if I wanted to write about JOY as a way of contributing to her Joy Up Stories Series, it was a no-brainer.

And, then I got stuck.

For me, joy is one of those kind of elusive emotions.  I’ve certainly experienced plenty of  joy in my life, but to talk about how I get there is a bit tricky.  Joy seems to bubble up when I least expect it — like walking down the street and spotting a shadow dancing on a wall, or making sparkly eye-contact with a passing stranger, or sipping the perfect cup of coffee with a friend who truly gets me.  It’s like, “OH!  There it is!”  That melty-everything-is-gonna-be-alright feeling of pure contentment >>>>pure JOY.

With each passing year,  I realize these joyful moments in life are often pretty SUBTLE.  I honestly think this might be part of the getting older process….one of the awesome parts I might add.  For example, as much as it pains me to admit it, I am getting less and less interested in huge parties (ie: choosing not to go to Burning Man for the first time in seven years).  Also, my desire to hop on a plane for an epic adventure in a foreign land seems to be dwindling (OK, dwindling to just two adventures a year, but still dwindling :) )  In a nutshell, I have less and less of a desire to go searching for joy…outside of myself.

What is becoming more and more apparent to me is that joy actually lives inside of me…ALL OF THE TIME.  Yeeeeeeeah.  That is a pretty amazing thing to realize.  It also begs the question, “So, if joy is there all the time, why is it so freaking hard to access?”

I’m pretty sure this is where our stories come in. 

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Depending on every single thing that has every happened to us and what kind of meaning we have decided to attach to that happening, we are all walking around with varying degrees of weighty STORIES, or belief systems.  They might look like, “I don’t deserve joy.  Life is hard.  People can’t be trusted.  Nobody understands me.  Or, one of my personal favorites:  Everything will be better when ______.” There are a million subtle ways that our stories get in the way of our JOY every single day.

So, what’s a girl (or boy) to do?  How the hell can we let our joy rise UP?  How can we actually EXPERIENCE this joy that supposedly lives inside us all the time?  Honestly, I have no idea what might work for you, but here’s a recipe that works for me:

Surround myself with joyful people.  Move my body everyday.  Remember to breathe.  Cultivate gratitude.  Replace my negative stories with positive affirmations (“Everything is already perfect” is getting a lot of use these days).  Notice simple beautiful things and rejoice in them.  Eat greens.  Paint.  Touch the dirt.  Serve others.  Walk in the woods.  Go with the flow.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Allow.  Allow.  Allow…

Hmmmmm….even just typing that list and bringing some thoughtful awareness to the topic stirs up some joy for me.  I can also see clearly that there is one thing at the core of my ‘joy recipe’ and that is SELF LOVE.  Interesting how that seems to be at the core of EVERYTHING these days…

Maybe you want to write down your own joy recipe?

Maybe you want to join the JOY UP movement?

Remember, joy lives inside of you…always.

xo flora

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Late night inspiration + bloom true mini lessons

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I’m happy to say I’ve been on a bit of a painting roll over the past few days.  My inspiration has been striking late at night when it’s super quiet and cool and my intention has been to explore new territory, have fun and play.  Aaaaaaaaand, guess what?  Every time I approach my work with this attitude (ie: not making it MEAN more than simply playing with colors and marks), rad new things seem to transpire. (note to self).

I’ve also been noting how much I continue to re-learn my own lessons pretty much every time I step up to the canvas.  Yep.  All my best downloads (pardon the woo) come through when I have a brush in hand — or when I’m half asleep in the bathtub.  Because of this, I always have a piece of paper next to my palette to capture my fleeting epiphanies.  My current paint-splattered paper has these words (of varying profundity) scrawled across it:

Everything actually NEEDS to be transformable, because things rarely turn out how you want/expect.

Not sure ‘transformable’ is actually a word, but you get the idea.

It’s all SACRED.

As in everything we do, feel, say and create.

Continue to ‘try on’ until something fits.

As in painting is like a dressing room.

and perhaps my favorite…

If you’re trying to paint (or live) like anyone else, you’re missing the point entirely.

Enough said.

I’ve been posting some of my new work-in-progress on my Facebook page along with some freshly-inspired Bloom True reflections.  I’m really digging these potent little ‘mini lessons’ so I thought I would share them here as well.  Hope they inspire!

xo flora

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“This painting is a great example of how powerful it can be to make a BOLD commitment. For many layers, I tried on different ways of making marks and various color palettes…never quite sure where it would all lead me, but staying open and curious to what seemed to be working and what was FUN and interesting. Eventually, I needed to commit to SOMETHING to unify the painting and make it more cohesive. I decided to (boldly) add in the big triangle/pyramid shapes along with a lot of greys to quite down some of the chaos…and voila!….the painting finally gelled!” ‪#‎braveintuitivepainting‬ ‪#‎boldcommitments‬ ‪#‎youcandoit‬

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“If you’ve ever taken my class, you know I like to preach about the power of value contrast to make paintings pop, right? Here’s a great example of how to rock the lights and darks by incorporating them strongly next to one anther….be bold!” ‪#‎workinprogress‬ ‪#‎braveintuitivepainting‬ ‪#‎goforit‬

Introducing Soul Shine Studio!

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A very exciting project has been brewing for the past couple of months, and I’m so excited to share it you!  In many ways, this project has been ruffling it’s wings for over a year and those wings are finally staring to spread their feathers in ways we can’t even imagine.

The seeds for this project were planted with some casual, yet profound, conversations and napkin scribbles with a couple of my favorite dreamers and inspirationalists.  The conversations meandered over many topics, but clear threads wove our stories and desires together.  These threads were all about connection, support, collaboration, manifestation and evolution.

In essence, we were talking about NEEDING each other—needing to come together so much so that staying separate no longer felt like an option.  

At the beginning of 2013, I declared COLLABORATION and EASE my two words of the year, and I have certainly noticed a collective gravitation among many people in this direction.  It seems we are all looking for ways to find more meaning and purpose in life, and at the same time, we are ready (so ready!) to embrace more ease and grace along the way.  Are you feelin’ it?

From my perspective, collaboration is a key ingredient in this new story.

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Enter in Miss Possibilitarian, Kelly Rae Roberts.

Kelly Rae is truly one of the most inspiring, grounded, motivated and generous humans I have ever known, so when she asked me share a beautiful new studio space with her, I kinda couldn’t say no.  I actually didn’t need a new space (already got one of those, thank you very much), but the idea of joining forces with Kelly Rae was, like I said, a little bit irresistible.

As soon as I stepped inside the light-filled room with shiny wood floors and exposed brick, located in the heart of Portland’s lovely Pearl District, I was in love.  I could easily envision workshops, gatherings and collaborations being held inside these welcoming walls, and I realized in that moment that *this* was it!  This was the space we needed to manifest all those napkin dreams we couldn’t seem to stop talking about.  Needless to say…we signed the lease.

Enter in Miss Shamanic Painting Priestess, Pixie Campbell.

Yep, as luck, or the stars, or a million divine forces working in mysterious way would have it, one of my favorite women of all time was about to re-locate to Portland and guess what?  She needed a studio space.  Well, well, well…what would happen if we added an amazing healer, artist, medicine making shaman to our already awesome crew?  I was pretty sure the answer was: PURE MAGIC.  After very little convincing, Pixie was in.

Enter in a trip to Bali where Kelly Rae and my dear friend, collaborator and visionary extradordinaire, Lynzee Lynx, fell in love with each other (don’t you just love it when your friends become friends?).  Lynx was ready to step into her next big creative adventure and a collaborative studio space seemed the perfect fit.  With our fourth shiner perfectly in place…

Soul Shine Studio was officially born.  

KISMET!

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Kelly Rae, Pixie, Lynx and moi happy as clams hangin’ in our new digs.

In many ways, we have no idea what will actually transpire in our lovely new space.  We only know it’s supposed to be happening—Just. Like. This.  My crush (OK maybe he’s more than just a crush at this point :) ) so perfectly refers to Soul Shine as our “clubhouse” and honestly that is exactly what it feels like—a special place to dream, connect, play and create where imagination, heart and soul hold the keys to the door.

We are opening our soulful doors this coming Friday for a very special Open House.  We would love for you to join us at the clubhouse for some fun!

Soul Shine Studio Open House

July 5th, 11am-6pm.

1306 NW Hoyt. St. Portland, OR, Ste 412

*Awakening Creativity * Igniting Community * Radiating Possibility

Hell yeah!

Hope to see you there…

xo flora

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I Heart Bali.

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‘Reflect’

I seriously cannot believe I have been home from Bali for almost a month already!

Woah….life….moves….fast.

However, between jet-lag recovery, a sick week in bed, a rare five-day visit from my best friend and a week of catching up on piles of life and work, I guess it all pencils out. In some ways, the trip feels like a distant exotic dream at this point, but every time I burn one of my treasured Balinese incense sticks, I am magically transported right back to my tiny beloved island on the other side of the world.  Swoon.

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Daily handmade offerings…so beautiful.

This was my fourth trip to Bali which is also hard to believe {insert major gratitude moment here}. Every trip has presented a totally different experience for me with various combinations of painting, exploring, chilling out and teaching.  This year’s trip was all about teaching two week-long workshops in two of my favorite places in Bali—Amed and Ubud.

I will say this was not the smartest schedule I’ve ever created for myself (note to self: need more downtime), but thankfully my “work” also looks a lot like my idea of a really rad time, so it all works out.  Ya know…hanging out with really open amazing people creating art and doing yoga together in beautiful places?  Not a whole lot of room for complaining there. Nope, just a bunch of gratitude for the opportunity to share my passions and bring people for such deeply transformational experiences.  Oh, and for all the pretty flowers, watermelon juice and big Balinese smiles!

I could probably manage to go on and on about all that I learned from teaching (I learn so much EVERY time, it’s crazy.) and all the amazing people I met (they really were a special bunch), but I’m going to go with a picture tour instead.  Seems fitting for such a visually stunning place like Bali.

And, if you’re craving more words, my dear friend Kelly Rae Roberts wrote a lovely blog about her experience at the workshop.  And damn she’s a good writer.  I highly recommend checking it out.  K…on with the pics!

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Opening Night Altar with a friendly reminder to TRUST.

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I’m a total sucker for all the lovely statues decorated with fresh flowers everyday.

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Supporting the local economy and making this woman very happy!

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Yet another crazy pretty flower arrangement.  The woman who made this was worried that it wasn’t perfect enough for me to take a picture.  I told her it would be juuuuust fine.


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Letting go under the sweet guidance of my collaborator, Miss Lisa Mae Osborn, yoga teacher extraordinaire.

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This was the painting scene…not to rub it in or anything.

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LOVED having two of my besties, Lynzee Lynx and Kelly Rae Roberts, along for the ride!

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Giving a demo…not sure if they are captivated or just HOT?

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Some of the gorgeous paintings created by my awesome students.

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Inspiring field trip to the Tirta Gangga Water Palace.

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My second demo painting (inspired by Balinese dancers!)

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And, that’s a wrap.  Until next time…much love, xo flora

 

Uniquity + the Declaration of YOU!

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[Image: Zipporah Lomax]

After a pretty major spin around the world (aka: my trip to Bali), I am now cozied back up in my Portland studio — favorite mug in hand, favorite tunes playing on my ipad and an epic amount of stories and thoughts to share…soon.  As I allow my experiences in Bali to sink in a little more deeply, I want to take a minute to share with you a very special book.

The Declaration of You!, is written by two superstar ladies (and lovely friends of mine), Jessica Swift and Michelle Ward.  I’m really proud of them for putting together such a beautiful and important book, because it dives right into the heart of a conversation I seem to be having so much lately.  It’s that one about…

Figuring out what makes you come alive and how the hell to make that into a job. 

Seriously folks, this conversation is UP right now and for good reason.  From my perspective, it seems we are collectively waking up from an old story that goes something like: “I can’t make money doing what I love.  Living passionately is for someone else.  Everything’s been done.  Work is hard.  Life is hard.  Blah, blah, blah…”  Sound familiar?

Our new story looks something like: “I have an amazing gift to offer the world.  My gift is important.  My gift is unique.  My gift can be translated into a prosperous job.  The world will be a better place when I generously offer my gift.”  Sounds a bit better, yes?  YES!  From my point of view, we are collectively ready to step into this new empowered way of living, and I’m so grateful books like, The Declaration of You! are available to help guide the way.

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[Image: Zipporah Lomax]

Personally, my story has always included the passion piece, but never the financial success reality.  For better or worse (I’m gonna go with better here), I was born with a deep need to always pursue my passions…at all costs.  By the time I was 19, I decided I was going to make a living as a painter.  Um…does that sound crazy to anyone else, because it sure sounds crazy to me now!  However, as I look back, I am so grateful for my wide-eyed optimism and passionate need to follow my heart.  Without those two ingredients (and a few others like hard work, commitment and integrity), I would certainly not be typing this to you now.

One thing I find extremely interesting is how all my passions — painting, dance, yoga, music, meditation, spirituality, personal transformation, intuition and bravery— are now completely woven together into what I call “my offering or gift”  (aka: my workshops, online course, paintings and book).  It seems incredibly obvious to me now, but I swear I never saw it coming. I always thought my passion for making art and my passion for spiritual growth were totally separate quests in this lifetime.

Little did I know that by following all my passions with such heartfelt dedication, I was also creating my dream job along the way — a unique job just for me.

In The Declaration of You!, Jessica and Michelle, make up a word they call “Uniquity.” I get this word.  I get it on a soul level and I get how important it is these days.  In a world where every kind of information is so easily at our fingertips, it is becoming more and more crucial to step back, examine and cultivate the passions that make YOU truly come alive.  What makes your hearts sing?  What do you have to do in order to feel whole and fed?  What do you look forward to doing everyday?  What kind of people and things do you want to be surrounded by?  Essentially, what makes you…you?

These are the kinds of questions Jess and Michelle are asking in The Declaration of You! …and I’m so glad they are.

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The Declaration of You! will be published by North Light Craft Books this summer.  This post is part of The Declaration of You’s BlogLovin’ Tour, which I’m thrilled to participate in alongside over 100 other creative bloggers.  Check it out!

Blooming flowers + blooming true (e-course giveaway!)

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Hi ya’ll.  Thought I’d share a little eye candy with you today.  I seriously cannot get enough of the magical blooming flowers in Portland these day.  The latest gorgeousness courtesy of POPPIES and IRISES.  Thank you nature for all the inspiration!

I also wanted to let you know that I’m giving away ten free spots for my next Bloom True e-course over on the Do What You Love blog.  The fun part is that you have to nominate someone ELSE to receive the gift.  So…who do you know who might really benefit from five weeks of brave intuitive painting and living?  Show your love and pay it forward by leaving a comment with your nomination over on the blog.  Cheers and happy Wednesday! xo flora

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Vulnerability—the new “keeping it cool”

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Hi ya’ll.  Look at me…writing a post AFTER the 30-Day Love Affair is over!  It’s true.  I feel I have officially transformed my relationship with this lovely blog.  Dreading my “blog homework” has now been replaced by thoughts like, “Write a blog?  Sure. Totally.  Why not?  No big deal.  Sounds fun.”  So, that said, I’m officially popping in to say hello and to thank you for your ah-MAZE-ing comments in response to my last post about my name change.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend reading the comments—so moving and inspiring.  Reading your comments reminded me why…

It’s so important for us to share our stories!

It’s so easy to keep our stories to ourselves—to believe they are not important, not interesting, too personal or to believe that they might somehow burden other people.  I understand this—oh. so. well.  I understand this because I’ve been feeling all these things for years.  On that note, I gotta tell you that I seriously felt like I was going to puke after I hit the “publish” button on my name change blog.  After I posted the blog, I texted my friend Kelly Rae Roberts and said, “I just revealed a big deep part of my story on my blog.  Why do I feel like I’m going to throw up now?”  Her response was simple:

“Oh that’s a vulnerability hangover…you’ll be fine.”

Ha!  I loved that she was so blunt.  I loved that she didn’t give it any extra energy.  Why?  Because Kelly Rae knows a thing or two about vulnerability—she’s been at it for awhile now and I have a lot to learn from her.  A vulnerability hangover, ey?  I get it.  It’s the feeling we get after being really freaking honest, open and, well, vulnerable.  It leaves us feeling a little blown open and exposed in a way that “keeping it cool” does not.  But, you know what else comes with being blown open that does not come from keeping it cool?  An ability to be seen, to connect more deeply, to be held, to be loved and to be known for who we really are.  I think I’ll take that over “keeping it cool” any day.

Yes, last week was a big one for me.  Not only did I share new pieces of my story to thousands of people, but I also sent out a newsletter, finished my taxes (no small feat), embarked on a huge yard renovation, continued training my new assistant, tied up what felt like a million loose ends, got organized for my upcoming trip to Bali (I leave in six days) and finished seven new paintings for a show this week—ya know, no biggie :)   That said, I seriously needed a little vacation.

We have been having some insanely gorgeous weather here in Oregon, so I did what any smart gal would do headed for the beach with my crush! After two full days of walking in the sand, gazing at the waves, making fires on the beach, cuddling under the stars and soaking up the sun, I literally feel a new person.  Kelly Rae was right.  I’m just fine.  In fact, I’m pretty darn awesome.

Hope you are too!

xo flora

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30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #30 Whohoo!

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[Testing my wings at Burning Man, circa 2006]

Do you have a cup of tea?  You might want one for this post…it’s a bit of journey in and of itself.  I promised I would go out with a bang, so here goes.  May I present…the never before told story of my most daring and life-changing act to date…

The story of changing my name. 

It may come as no surprise that my Irish-English-German-Midwestern parents did not actually give me the groovy name of Flora when I was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1974.  Nope, not even close.  Instead, they gave me a good ol’ fashioned Irish name.  They named me Shannon.  And, honestly, I liked my name.  I never ever for one second considered changing my birth name, but as it turns out, another name was waiting for me all along.

It’s difficult to know where to start this story because in some ways it is the story of my entire life, but for the sake of brevity, I’m going to fast forward thirty years to the moment I decided to hightail it down to the Katrina-ravaged Gulf coast.  I can honestly say I don’t know why I felt such an intense urgency to help with that situation, but every time I saw footage of the flooding, the stranded people, the city under water, the entire coast wiped off the map, I was literally moved to tears.  After sitting with those feeling of helplessness and rage for a few weeks, I decided to do something about it.

With a backpack full of essentials, a tent, a sleeping bag and a desire to help, I secured a ride with a stranger from Craigslist, and a few days later I landed in the center of New Orleans.  This was three weeks after Katrina, so you can imagine what the city looked like—or maybe you can’t?  I certainly never thought I would see this kind of destruction in my lifetime, and definitely not in the United States.  To say it was intense and overwhelming and hard to comprehend would be a gross understatement.

Through a series of events including more Craigslist magic, I ended up getting a ride in the back of a dark moving truck from New Orleans to Waveland, Mississippi.  Rumor had it there was a group of “hippies” there serving food and they always needed more helping hands.  Sure enough, when the back of the truck opened and the sun spilled in, I found myself in the middle of a parking lot full of colorful people running around with boxes of potatoes and carrots—smiles on their faces.

Quickly, I learned the ropes and became enmeshed in one of the most beautiful human happenings I have ever experienced.  This rag-tag group of people had one thing in common and that was their desire to make a difference and help people in need.  I spent the next month cutting vegetables, serving salad, sweeping the parking lot and giving the occasional massage to the most grateful people I have ever encountered.  After about month, the “New Waveland Cafe” dissolved, but a group of about ten of us knew there was plenty more work to be done on the Gulf Coast.  We formed a non-profit called, Emergency Communites, and searched for a new location for our kitchen.  We were embraced whole-heartedly by the government officials of St. Bernard Parish, right next the the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

{And, yes, I swear this all relates to my name change}

For the next four months, I lived in a tent (see below) and worked as the volunteer coordinator for our relief center and kitchen, aptly named, “The Made with Love Cafe.”  Everyday, we served about 2,000 healthy meals to anybody who was hungry.  As you might imagine, this job involved a million different tasks all involving…people.  For the first time in my life, I found myself in a leadership position.  Everyday, I found myself standing in front of groups of people giving orientations, coordinating teams and reaching out online to recruit more volunteers.  I was also chosen as one of the main spokespeople to represent our community to reporters who inevitably came looking for a good Katrina story—we were a pretty awesome story, I must say.

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[Emergency Communities tent city, circa 2006]

My six months on the Gulf Coast (I had planned to be there for two weeks…ha!) were simultaneously the most difficult, rewarding and life-changing six months of my life.  By the end of my time there, I had a new sense of myself as a leader, a whole new group of amazing friends and a deep satisfaction for the change I knew I had made.  However, I also had mold in my lungs, post-traumatic stress syndrome and a serious need to touch the earth again (the ground in St. Bernard was too toxic to touch, so our whole world was set up on pallets).  My soul needed to rebuild itself in a pretty major way, so after a quick art show at a New Orleans gallery where I perfectly made a enough money to get back on my feet, I booked a flight to Costa Rica where I could regroup and figure out my next bold move.

During my third week in Costa Rica, I found myself sitting in a natural hot springs pool, surrounded by tropical flowers with an active volcano erupting in the distance (true story).  I was traveling with two friends at the time and one of them jokingly said, “You need a new name.”  You see, Spanish speakers do not have the “SH” sound in their language so pronouncing Shannon was proving to be a bit of a stumbling block every time we met locals.  So, without hesitation, I dipped my head under the water and quickly racked my brain for the most Spanish sounding female name I could come up with.  I emerged and declared ‘Flora’ as my new name.

It was a joke.

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However, these two friends took the name  to heart, and for the rest of the trip they called me Flora.  The interesting thing is that every time my friends called me Flora, my heart kinda fluttered.  I LOVED this name!  It still felt foreign and jokey, but I could not deny the other feelings this name inspired.  It made me feel empowered, beautiful, more alive, more…in bloom :)

After my trip to Costa Rica, I decided to move to Portland, Oregon.  I didn’t know one single person there, but the draw to this city full of creatives was strong, so I made the leap.  I quickly met some amazing people and we all decided to go to Burning Man for the first time together.  I heard that it was typical for people to take on “playa names” at Burning Man, so I decided to be ‘Flora’ for the week.  Why not?  It felt like a fun chance to embody this beloved name for a little bit longer.

What I did not see coming was the HUGE life changing experience that my first trip to Burning Man would become.  In this dusty desert, anything seemed possible, including the ability to re-create yourself in whatever ways you desired.  All around me, I witnessed people expressing themselves FULLY.  One of the ethos of Burning Man is participation, meaning there is no divide between audience and performers.  In theory, there are no spectators.  In the desert, we are all participants, creating our experience collectively and spontaneously, moment-to-moment.

During that profound week, I found myself stepping into a way of being that I had been craving for the past fifteen years.  I could literally feel my heart opening, my confidence growing and my body shifting to embody a more empowered version of myself.  I was becoming more brave, more expressive and more resilient everyday.  It seems crazy to think I could go through such a powerful transformation in just seven days, but I’m pretty sure every moment of my life had been building towards that experience in the desert.  My time on the Gulf Coast was a huge part of the story, followed by my healing time in Costa Rica, my bold move to Portland and then seven days experimenting with “radical self expression.”  The fact that I was ‘Flora’ during those seven days felt really profound.  It was as if ‘Flora’ represented this new version of myself—the version I was so ready to become.

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[The Temple @ Burning Man, a place for letting to of what you no longer need.  Oh, and we burn it down on the last night just to make the point.]

After Burning Man, I found myself back in Portland and back to Shannon, but every time I heard this name, it suddenly felt like the “old me.”  I craved ‘Flora’ and all the associations I now had with that beautiful name.  One night, it occurred to me that I had the power to change my name, to redefine my entire being. WOAH.  Really?  This hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was scary because I think on a soul level I knew this is what I needed to do, but seriously?  Flora?  My family would officially think I’m crazy.  And, what about all the work I had done to establish my artist self with my other name?  What about www.shannonbowley.com?

If this was going to actually happen, this was going to be BIG.

For the next couple of weeks, I sat with this seemingly crazy idea.  I swear I had sleepless nights worrying about what everybody would think.  Yet another hippie changing her name…how annoying!  But, there was something much much bigger happening here.  This name, this newly empowered person was choosing me, and it was my job to…listen. Eventually, I caved.  I felt like I had no other choice.  I told my entire family I was now Flora.  (Holy shit, that was scary).   My 87-year old dad still calls me Shannon, and I totally understand, but every other person on the planet now calls me Flora…

and I love it.

I officially changed my name seven years ago, and like I said, it was absolutely the boldest and most empowering thing I have ever done.  This idea of stepping into and renaming yourself as the person you know deep down you want to be is a pretty amazing concept.  To believe you have the power to change yourself and how you show up in the world is a pretty fucking radical idea actually (pardon my language, but I’ve refrained from dropping the f-bomb until I really really needed it to make a point :) ).

Every year since I changed my name, I have felt myself embody ‘Flora’ more and more.  After decades of believing I was ugly and awkward—a wall flower without a voice, I literally started to change the way I perceived myself.  I started to see myself as beautiful, unique (vs. awkward), smart, able to lead and able to stand strong in my power.  This definitely didn’t happen overnight and I believe this kind of transformation never actually ends (as proven by these last 30 days), but the fact that my very name represented the person I was striving to become, was a very crucial part of my transformation.

{Wow.  Are you still there?}

This story ended up being a lot longer than I intended, and it actually could have been ten times longer, but there you have it.  My “name coming out story” finally set free for all to know!  It sure felt good to share that with you and I hope you enjoyed it.  And, just as my new name signified the beginning of a new chapter in my life, so does the conclusion of this 30-Day Blog Love Affair.  Instead of dreading my blog writing “homework,” I now feel all kinds of excitement and loving anticipation when I think about writing more posts in the future.  I can assure you this is certainly not the end.

It is only the beginning.

Thank you so much for joining me for ride.

Until next time…

xo flora

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[Embracing 'Flora', circa 2008.  Photo by Tyson Robichaud]

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #29!

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Yowza, Day #29, ey?  I have to admit that all day I’ve been a little stressed about what I would write today.  The “second to last day” of this month-long experiement seems like some kind of big deal that deserves some kind of amazingness.  I even considered making a little video for you to really prove how brave I am (ha ha), but after investigating iMovie for about ten minutes, I gave up.  My truth tonight is that I’m tired, my hair looks like shit, I’ve been on my computer waaaaay too long already today and I’m definitely not feeling very inspired or inspiring.  Huh, I think my shoulders just dropped about two inches after I typed that.  The honest truth will do that to you :)

I think what I will do instead of trying to impress you with some kind of awesome heartfelt video, is to simply reflect for a minute on how this 30-Day Blog Love Affair has been for me.  Like many things in life, I’ve been so busy keeping up with it, along with the rest of my life, that I haven’t really (like really) stood back and asked myself how it’s been.

{pausing to actually do this}

OK.  That was interesting.  The first thing that came to mind was a deep feeling of deep satisfaction for making a commitment and actually sticking to it.  Such a simple thing, but in a world of flakiness, I must say it feels good to follow through on something that was not exactly easy.  There were plenty of days that I didn’t feel like writing, just like there are plenty of days I don’t feel like going to yoga or taking a walk, but like most things that are good for you, starting is the hardest part.  After something is in motion, it’s often pretty easy to keep it going.  This, in and of itself, is an awesome lesson and reminder.

Lesson #1:  Starting is usually the hardest part. Following through on commitments feels awesome.  Just do it.

The next thing I’m realizing is that, for the most part, writing my blog felt more and more natural every single day.  It felt a little bit like getting reaquainted with an old friend.  At first it was a bit awkward and forced until I found my rhythm and remembered all the things I actually like about writing.  For example, I love how writing requires me to be fully present and aware of my thoughts and how it demands me to get clear on how I feel.

Lesson #2:  Everything is a practice.  You actually have to do the work in order for things to get easier.

Next, I must admit that I never even considered all the comments I would receive from all of you amazing people.  I really kinda did this for my own healing, but waking up to your words of encouragement, your reflections and stories (especially all the dating success stories!) was so fun for me this month.  I choose not to respond to comments (all part of my keeping life simple plan), but please know I read every single comment and really felt your presence along with me on this journey. So, THANK YOU!

Lesson #3:  When you follow your soul’s calling, it often inspires others (even if that was not your goal).

Finally, if you’ve been reading along from the beginning, you know that this experiment was all about freeing up and healing my voice by writing from the heart and sharing my truth and my story publicly.  Well, folks, I’m happy to say I have succeeded with this intention.  I know this is one small step on a journey that will likely never end, but as Lesson #1 points out, starting is the often the hardest part.

The truth is that taking this step towards healing my voice was actually a pretty damn big deal for me.  I know it might appear to be a cute little blog experiment, but really this issue around my voice runs very deep and I’ve had all kinds of resistance to dealing with it.  I’m pretty sure the fear around speaking up and speaking out goes way back, most likely to lifetimes prior to this one where I was not allowed to speak or punished for speaking my truth.  (Hope I’m not loosing you here).  Regardless of where and when it all started, I have been aware for a very long time that I need to heal this part of my being.

For so many years, I expressed myself only through the visual arts and through various movement modalities.  Why?  Because painting and dancing are easy for me!  Speaking in front of people or writing about things that feel personal and vulnerable = not so easy. In fact, pretty freaking difficult.  But, as life would have it, I now find myself in a position where using my voice is essential to my life’s work and people actually seem to  listen when I speak—thanks Universe for giving me the perfect opportunity to work on exactly what I need to work on!  I still get incredibly nervous every time I’m about to teach a workshop and hitting the “publish” button on my more revealing blog posts has also proven to be a bit painful.  I’m afraid of being judged, sounding stupid, making typos, causing controversy, offending someone, looking bad, sounding bad and the list goes on and on…ALL FEAR BASED ways of thinking and all things I’m ready to let go of.

Lesson #4:  Moving directly through fear is the only way to get to the other side, and the other side is where LOVE lives.

Wow, I didn’t see any of what I just wrote coming through the pipeline, but there you have it—my “Top Four Lessons Learned Through my Month of Blogging.”  At least these are the lessons I’m experiencing in this particular moment.  I have a feeling they might keep coming :)

And, don’t you worry, tomorrow I *will* go out with a bang.  Stay tuned.

 

 

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #28!

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I realize this might verge on giving away the ending of a book, but I am going to risk it and share with you the list of “friendly reminders” I offer on the final day of my online course.  I hope you find these reminders helpful, and if they leave you craving more elaboration, my next online course starts in one month.  I would love for you to join me on the adventure!

I also want to share with you a few of my latest paintings in progress.  I can honestly say I’ve been taking a lot of my own advise these days—remembering to trust, let go, experiment, play, explore new territory and push my boundaries.  It feels like a breath of fresh air to continue re-inventing my style in this way—one of the many beautiful things about being an artist!

Hope you had a great weekend…

xo flora

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<<<<< REMEMBER >>>>>

You are an artist. You were born to create. Your paintings are already inside you waiting to be born through you. SET THEM FREE.

There are no mistakes. Anything can be transformed at any moment.

Be PATIENT as your paintings emerge. Don’t rush the process.

Be witness to your thoughts, actions, and patterns.

Witnessing creates space for transformation.

YOUR THOUGHTS CREATE YOUR LIFE. Choose your thoughts wisely.

Be gentle on yourself (and others).

LET GO of preconceived ideas. Having expectations will only get in your way.

BE OPEN to all possibilities…all the time.

Listen to your intuition. Go with your gut. TRUST YOURSELF completely.

Be a brave explorer. Embrace the process of discovery along the way.

You don’t need to know what will happen next. In fact, it’s better if you don’t.

Respond to what is happening in the present moment. It’s all a conversation.

Be spontaneous. IMPROVISE!

Ask yourself, “What is working?” and “What do I enjoy doing?”

‘What is working’ is your entry point. Every moment is a new starting point.

There comes a time when you need to commit to something, anything. Commit to NOW.

Make bold commitments + follow through. You can always change your mind.

Keep your brush moving. Follow your heart. You know what to do.

Don’t be afraid to go overboard. You can simplify at any time.

This is not a linear process from chaos to order. SPIRAL in and out instead.

BE FLEXIBLE. Be open to the unexpected. Surprise yourself.

If you don’t like your painting, you have nothing to loose. Be bold!

Remember to do things that scare you or feel “crazy.” Be brave!

Step out of your comfort zone…again and again and again.

Allow your process to be SEEN. Let go of “perfection.”

Embrace your vulnerability. This is YOU at your most raw and real. It is a gift.

Loosen up, have fun, be playful. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

The process is much more important than the product.

Getting “stuck” is part of the process + often leads to great breakthroughs.

Don’t indulge in your stuck-ness. Move on through to the other side.

Allow yourself to focus on what is working. Accept what IS and keep painting.

Changing courses many times makes for interesting paintings in the end.

Your most valuable techniques are what come most naturally to you.

Only YOU can paint like you. Your heartfelt creations are a gift to the world.

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30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #27!

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For my entire adult life, I have lived communally (yep, like a true hippie) among diverse and wonderfully inspiring groups of creative folks.  Over the past four years, I’ve lived with a mandolin player, a photographer/videgrapher, a raw pie maker, a bike shop owner, a massage therapist/gardener and a shaman-in-training.  Our house is now famous for it’s house concerts, potlucks, art nights and backyard sauna parties.  We have 15 bikes parked under our hand-built bike storage area right next to our front yard food garden.  We don’t have chickens anymore, but all our neighbors do, so the air is still filled with the sound of clucking.  Basically, we are our own little Portlandia episode around here everyday.  You can picture it, right?

As a big fan of community and collaboration (and as a way to share expenses), I’ve consciously chosen to live this way for, oh, about twenty years now.  (woah.)  Living communally has enhanced my life in so many ways and as you can imagine, I’ve learned some serious lessons about sharing, flexibility and respect. Let’s just say, one of my favorite sayings of all time is…

Teamwork makes the dream work. 

However, my life has shifted in some pretty massive ways over the past few years.  I no longer work by myself all day long in my studio, craving human interaction at the end of the day.  Instead, my life is so full of people, I can barely keep up with all the names in my world.  I love the people aspect of my life as a teacher, but I tell ya what, living with four people, teaching large groups of people AND connecting with thousands of people online is simply too many…people.

So, about one year ago, I sat down with my friend, Ben, designer/builder extraordinaire, to discuss the possibility of building a little house in my backyard—a little house just for me.  For the first time in my life, I had a bit of money saved and my craving for my own space was quickly turning into a *need* for my own space.  It was becoming obvious that in order to do this level of work in the world, my soul actually required a cocoon to reintegrate, regroup and reinvent the next version of what I would eventually teach to others.

When the opportunity to build a cocoon became a reality, I immediately said YES.  Together, Ben and I started sketching out my dream house. This dream house would only occupy 450 square feet of my backyard, so our dreaming was contained but as a result of our size parameters, we got quite creative.  I knew I wanted a “wall of windows,” many skylights and a loft with no separate rooms.  Ben’s solution to my vision was to “go up.”

I’m pretty sure my new house is the tallest building on my block.  I have three 12 foot windows on one side (aka: the wall of windows).  There are also five skylights, a loft, a sleeping loft in the loft (double loft!) and no rooms besides one small room containing a toilet.  The process of co-designing my house was amazing and living inside it’s walls (I moved in two months ago) is actually a little bit surreal.  Like I said, I’ve never lived alone, so it all feels rather luxurious on many levels—450 square feet of luxury!

Truth disclaimer:  I’ve been feeling a little bit hesitant to share my house with you because, once again, I’m still struggling with my own “deserving” stories.  But, alas, this blog experiment is offering me the perfect way to move through that old story to the other side—the side where I totally deserve a super zen, light-filled, personally designed dream cocoon with the best bathtub in the Universe.  Hell yeah.

What I’m realizing more and more everyday is how by creating this nurturing space for myself, I am taking care of ME which, in turn, allows me to inspire and encourage thousands of other people to nurture their own creative spirits.  Self-care ripple effect in action!

I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into my cocoon…

xo flora

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30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #26!

 

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It’s ‘Sweet Reminders Friday’ brought to you by two of my favorite wisdom keepers…

All the possibilities of your human destiny are asleep in your soul. You are here to realize and honor these possibilities. When love comes in to your life, unrecognized dimensions of your destiny awaken and blossom and grow. Possibility is the secret heart of time.— John O’Donohue from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.― Mary Oliver from Blue Pastures

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?―
Mary Oliver from New and Selected Poems

We do not need to go out and find love; rather, we need to be still and let love discover us.— John O’Donohue from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

<<<<LOVE YOU ALL.  HAPPY FRIDAY>>>> xo flora

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30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #25!

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We have an event here in Portland called the Last Thursday Art Walk.  It started fourteen years ago as a sort of the rebel offspring of the First Thursday Art Walk held in the downtown galleries.  It is truly a renegade DIY event in every aspect of the word—equal parts carnival, garage sale, art fair, burning man, protest, karaoke, dance party, art experiment, parade, ______.

It’s a place were performance artists of all sorts, buskers, marching bands, crafters and anyone trying to make a buck merge together in the name of “anything can be considered art” for one colorful evening a month.  It’s a place where spontaneous dance parties break out in the street, stilt walkers become almost “normal” and you never really know what you’ll find on the next block.  It’s a place where unique expression is celebrated, diverse neighborhood populations merge, and for the most part, everyone seems to have a really good time.  Oh, and I’m pretty sure it’s some of the best people watching on the planet.

I just returned home from what felt like the first official Last Thursday of the year (it’s a warm weather event, and tonight was particularly lovely).  I’m definitely a little wired from all the stimulation…and perhaps the full moon :)   But, mostly I’m also feeling incredibly  grateful for my freaky city where truly anything goes and art is an extension of life itself.  We sure are lucky here.

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I also want to thank you all for your beautiful heartfelt comments yesterday after my “Blogging about Dating 101″ post.  I so loved hearing all your stories of LOVE FOUND!

Hurray for love.

Hurray for art.

Hurray for you.

xo flora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #24!

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You asked for crush details, so I’m going to be brave and spill the beans…at least a few beans for now.

If you have been following along in my world at all, you have probably noticed that I never, like ever, talk about my romantic life.  In fact, up until this lil’ blog experiment, I’ve talked very little about my personal life off the canvas, AT ALL.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  One is that I have a story about keeping things private online which is really interesting because I’m really quite the open book in real life.  The other reason is that I’m totally scared I might jinx a good thing.

You see, I had an experience last summer where I fell really hard for someone I met at Burning Man.  After one magical week with this person, I was sure he was “the one”.  I proceeded to gush to my family and friends (and even to a group of workshop participants) about this new love in my life only to have the whole thing go terribly south on our second meeting—in Italy.  Yep, super romantic trip gone horribly wrong.

So, with my tail between my legs and a whole lot of lessons learned, I re-entered the land of being single once again.  I was pretty content there after the Burning Man debacle “learning opportunity” but after about six months of not meeting anyone, I decided to join an online dating site.  Yes, you read that right.  This felt like a seriously brave move for me, but with the rest of my life online, it also seemed like a really reasonable way to meet someone.

After pouring my heart into my online dating profile (it was like a part time job for a minute there), I went on a total of about 15 first dates with only a few of them leading to second dates.  Soon, I started to feel…tired.  (I kept joking to my friends that my next book would be called, Brave Intuitive Dating).  Truth is, I found the process to be quite interesting and entertaining in a social experiment kind of way, but it was also completely exhausting.  So exhausting that I was ready to throw in the towel but not before I went on one last date!  As luck, or the stars, or my manifestation powers or ____,  would have it, this last date was really easy, fun and romantic.  Kismet!

It’s been six weeks now and I still feel giddy every time I’m about to see….let’s call him “my crush.”  Our time together feels like good medicine for me—grounded, easy, nurturing and sweet while still being exciting, passionate and new—a winning combo for sure.  I obviously have no idea where this is going, but it sure is a great way to practice being in the moment and not get ahead of myself.  Gotta love dating for that opportunity.

So there, I said it and I’m going to trust I didn’t jinx it :) I could definitely go on and on about what it’s like to date at age 38, the vulnerabilities in my heart and how stepping into something new always rattles me to the core in certain ways, but I think I’m going to stop with this one baby step.

“Blogging about Dating 101″

Until tomorrow…wishing you well.

xo flora

 

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #23!

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It’s crazy beautiful today in Portland and my spirits are flying high. I spent the day doing exactly what I love to do:  painting and connecting with awesome people.  My friend and peer, Rachael Rice (aka the Cosmic American) came over for a painting date.  We rolled out a big drop cloth, flung open the studio door, cut up some potato stamps and went to town.  Our conversations drifted between blogging, boys, current inspirations and our mutual love for fluorescent pink.  Rachael is a new friend but hanging with her is always super effortless and inspiring—exactly what I’m welcoming into my life these days.

I’m getting ready to go for a walk in the sun with my current crush (yes, I have a current crush, but I’m feeling really shy to write about that here…hmm…maybe I’ll get over that soon?), so I’m going to make this quick and sign off with a couple more pics from our collaborative day of play.  Mwah.

xo flora

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