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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30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #22!

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Today is Day #22 which means I’ve now written 21 blog posts in a row.  Wow.  What an interesting journey of the soul this has been!  I was telling a friend of mine a little bit about the process today and he mentioned that it is supposed to take 21 days to create a new habit.  Aha!  This totally resonated with me because I can honestly say I feel like writing this daily post has officially become a part of my everyday experience.  It is no longer “something I think I should do.”  Instead, it is  “something I actually do”—everyday.  In other words…

it’s now a habit.

Something that I’m realizing as a result of this process is that I actually operate really effectively within boundaries.  {Enter small cry of resistance from my free-wheelin’-no-rules-craving-bohemian-rebel-spirit here}  Yes, I still crave the ability to let my days unfold organically and I’ve pretty much done everything in my power to create this lifestyle for myself, but I am coming to terms with the fact that…

a little bit of structure is actually a very good thing.

I’ve also been experiencing this exact realization with my morning ritual.  For years, I’ve attempted to meditate in the morning, but honestly it’s been more of a battle than a zen-like experience—until recently.  Inspired by a friend’s suggestion, I gave up my resistance to the idea of setting a timer.  Meditating with a timer is a simple act really, but something I’ve always had a huge resistance to.  I’m sure this resistance stems from my years in the public school system where bells were in charge and, like cattle, we moved from one box to the next in order to learn the required subject matters.  Let’s just say, this was not my ideal learning environment and I’m happy to say my life now is ruled mostly by my own heart’s desire…kinda the opposite of a bell really.

However, when I finally decided to give my iphone timer the opportunity to dictate how long I would sit on my meditation cushion, I was finally able to experience those fleeting moments of zen-like peace.  Having the specific container of time allowed my decision making mind (“Should I stop meditating now?  Has it been long enough?  Should I get on with my day?  Is this even working?”) a break.  Instead, all I had to do was sit there and breathe until I heard the sweet sound of the harp alarm.

Perfect.

What is true with my timed meditation practice is also proving to be true with my blog writing.  Because I declared my 30-day commitment publicly, I no longer have the choice to put it off.  It’s just not an option.  Instead, my choice is simply about what I will write about and honestly that feels a lot easier than battling the, “I should write, but I’m going to come up with all kinds of reasons not to” voice.   What I’m learning is that…

freedom can exist, even THRIVE, within a set container.  Go figure.

The painting above is called, “Fly Free Between” and I think this idea of finding freedom between set rules/ideas/pillars might be what those words are all about.  Interestingly, I didn’t realize that when I painted those words, but often my words make more sense after the fact (divine intervention?  I think so.)  I’ll sign off with this quote that speaks directly to the idea of freedom within the banks of order.  Really loving this idea.

“Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem.”
-Rollo May

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30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #21!

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After yesterday’s thoughts on how I find inspiration directly from the creative process and taking risks, I thought I would give a nod to some of my more obvious sources of inspiration today.  Although I find plenty of inspiration from things like textiles, graffiti, shamanism, tribal patterns, personal transformation and music (hmm, that sounds like another post?), my first love and main source of inspiration will likely always be the all-mighty and ever-amazing…

natural world.

Not a big surprise there I’m sure!

Besides actually drawing the world around me (like with a pen on paper), one of my favorite ways to gather inspiration is through photography.  I have always loved taking pictures and now I think of it as a form of field research.  I continually seek out inspiring forms, colors, patterns and compositions, so that when I do step in front of my blank canvas, I literally have all kinds of information to draw from. I have always loved taking photos for this reason and for the way it forces me to slow me down and REALLY SEE.  Lately, I’m a little bit of an Instagram addict too:)

Here are a few of my recent pics/sources of inspiration brought to you by the colors grey and pink with a little bit of yellow.  Not sure how that happened :)

xo flora

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orchids

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dogwoods

wands

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30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #20!

 

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There’s a question that seems to come up in every single interview I do.  It’s the “Where do you find inspiration?” question.  It’s easy to answer this question with the obvious:  nature, color, form, movement, trips to the woods, looking at other people’s art, etc.  But, when I really get to the heart of what drives my creativity, it’s actually so much more about the act of creating itself.  It’s about stepping in front of a big white canvas and trusting myself enough to make the first move.

Personally, I love the first move.  There is something so powerful in making those first few brush marks across a white a canvas.  It is a simple act, really, but there is an immense amount of bravery and trust involved in this moment of turning possibility into action.  It might appear as an orange swash of color across a field of white, but really it’s a declaration of trust, forward movement and radical personal expression.  It’s about stepping across a threshold into something unknown and trusting that what will happen there will be OK—or maybe even great.

It is possibility in action.

Obviously, there is ton of trust involved in continuing to make marks after those initial declarations have been made, and maybe that’s where the real work happens—how to continue to move forward even when you feel stuck, uninspired, totally overwhelmed or just not into it?  For me, it comes down to risk taking.  If I’m operating from a “safe predictable and controlled place,” I am rarely inspired.  It’s more like I’m going through the motions and there is something very uninspiring about that for me.  It’s often when I step outside of this comfort zone that I feel that divine spark of inspiration.  It’s like standing on the edge of a cliff or running in the rain or arriving in a brand new city.  There is an aliveness present and with this aliveness comes inspiration.

This is not to say “playing it safe” is not a perfectly acceptable way to operate…some of the time.  Amazing things can happen when we are in control, have a plan and know who is driving the bus (so to speak).  There is a time and place for this kind of knowing, for sure!  What I believe is important is simply having an awareness around our patterns and what is potentially holding us back.  Noticing when it’s time to mix it up, step into the unknown and do something seriously BRAVE is a really powerful awareness to have.

I’ll sign off here with a little video I created with my friend, Zipporah Lomax.  Our intention was to demonstrate possibility in action and to inspire others to step into this powerful place of mystery themselves.  I hope it does just that!

xo flora

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.  -T.S. Eliot

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day 19!

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Hi ya’ll.  I thought I would allow myself to do a little *shining* today and share with you my feature in the most recent Where Women Create Magazine.  To say I feel honored to be included in this publication would be a serious understatement.  A more accurate description of my feelings would be something like…

totally blown away and a little bit in awe.

To open up a magazine that you really love and see your own face, art and studio space staring back at you is a little bit surreal actually.  One thing I noticed was a wave of, “I don’t deserve this” surfacing right alongside my squeals of joy.  That reaction is so interesting to notice because on so many logical levels I actually do believe I deserve this kind of praise and attention.  I mean, hell, I am super passionate about what I do and I’ve worked incredibly hard for everything that has come my way, but there continues to be some kind of deeper level story that can’t seem to believe/accept that this is my life—that perhaps I’m not really worthy of things being…

THIS. GOOD.

I suppose the most important thing (for now anyways) is to simply notice that I am experiencing these stories, right?  The first chapter in my book is called, “Re-creating Your Story,” after all, so here we go again…time to take my own advice and start accepting the good, letting it inside on a cellular level, telling myself a new kind of story and not being afraid to stand tall in my light {insert deep breathe here}.

I understand that re-creating my “worthiness story” is a huge part of my evolutionary work right now.  I mean, how can I help other people get their own worthiness if I haven’t totally gotten my own? {enter second deep breathe here}.  Shifting this story is definitely a one-day-at-a-time-kind-of-a-thing as most big shifts are.  However, I will say this, showing up everyday to write this blog has been one of the most healing things I’ve done in a long time.  It goes so much deeper than telling you about my day, showing you pretty pictures and pondering how to live and paint more bravely.  Actually…

it’s all about showing up for myself, believing in my truth and fearlessly using my voice to express these beliefs.

For those of you who have mentioned how much you are enjoying my posts, THANK YOU, I’m so happy to be adding this bit of light, insight or whatever you are receiving from this into your world.  And for those of you who said you will be sad to see this end, please know this is just the beginning.  I will not keep up my everyday blogging (what sane person can?), but I will most definitely keep writing.  That, my friends, is the whole point of this love affair…to fall in love with my own voice.

Amen.

xo flora

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30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #18!

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Woah.  This week has been so weird.  Everyday has turned out to be so different than I expected.  Another way to say that would be:  I cannot seem to get anything done!  All week, I have been battling my own procrastination monsters, along with what seems like a constant string of interruptions (some created by me and some by others).  The result is a somewhat dissatisfied feeling of, “Where did all my time goooooo?”

I think I’m starting to feel the time crunch that creeps into my life every time I have a big trip on the horizon.  I’m leaving for Bali in three weeks and suddenly it feels like I’m leaving tomorrow.  Ya know this feeling?  I’m also juggling so many different projects right now, it’s enough to make my head spin.  A problem of abundance really.  But honestly…

 All I really want to do is PAINT. 

I’ve been itching to get in my studio all week, but with said procrastinations/distractions running the show, it’s taken me until today (Thur!) to finally squeeze in a couple hours of painting time.  And, guess what?  When my house was finally clean(ish), my emails were (mostly) taken care of, my stomach was full, my phone stopped beeping at me for a few minutes and I could finally step in front of my canvas…

I felt totally uninspired.

Like no inspiration…at all.  Every brush mark felt forced and everything I did made my paintings look worse.  So, what do I do in these moments?  I literally have to force myself to take my own damn advice:  Light a candle, change the music, move my body, try a new color, turn my canvas upside down, paint with my non-dominant hand—whatever it takes to light that elusive spark of inspiration, knowing full well that it still might refuse to show up.

Thankfully…it decided to show up today.  I’m not really sure what shifted, but after an hour (at least) of pure struggle, I found myself suddenly in the zone—the one where everything feels easy and I’m just kinda of following my brush around like something else is in control. I think it might have had something to do with the color purple or black diamond stamps or ???  Who knows.  I try not to question this kind of magic.  Instead, I just say my THANK YOUS and carry on.

Here’s a glimpse of what flowed through today when I finally let go and got out of my own way…

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I’m quite curious to see where these will all go, but at the same time, I’m awfully glad I don’t know—that would just ruin the surprise :)

xo flora

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #17!

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Yesterday was my sister’s birthday and this is my Ode to her.

Erin is three and a half years older than me and lives with her husband, Jeremy (he is an amazing painter…check him out!) in Minneapolis, MN.  There are a few words that definitely come to mind when I think of my sis:  smart, grounded, funny, down-to-earth, savvy, passionate…did I mention smart?  I’d like to think I’ve worked through my childhood stories around my sister being “the smart one” but it’s true…she’s pretty amazing in that department.

Erin works in the non-profit world and has always been fiercely dedicated to making this world a better place.  She is currently in charge of making sure the millions of dollars funneled through Margaret Cargill’s Philanthropies serve the people there were intended to serve.  Not just anyone gets a job like that and she is perfect for it.  I have always been super inspired by my sis and her dedication to service.  Our parents both worked at the YMCA throughout our entire childhood and they did a rock solid job instilling the values of hard work, helping others and making a difference in the world.  It’s been interesting to see how Erin and I have taken those principals to heart and put them in motion in totally different, yet effective, ways.

I only see my sis a couple times a year, but when we do reunite it’s always like no time has passed (don’t you love that when that happens?).  Despite our distance, I carry her influence with me every single day and have all kinds of gratitude for her unending love and support.  There are not too many people I can say have truly loved me since the day I was born, but Erin is certainly one of them.  This pic kinda says it all.

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Happy birthday Erin!  Love you!

xo flora

 

 

 

 

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #16!

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After the heaviness of yesterday’s news, I’m going to keep today’s post pretty and sweet by sharing a few photos I took today on my annual trip to visit the blooming magnolia trees in Hoyt Arboretum.  There is a very special window of time when the entire grove of magnolia trees is exploding with pink, yellow and white petals.

And, that time is now.

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“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” - Anaïs Nin

 

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Happy blooming.

xo flora

 

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day 15!

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I spent a decent amount of time this morning thinking about happiness, contentment and connection.  I was pondering how to cultivate them, how to recognize them and how to maintain them.

And, then I heard the news.

Another bombing and this time at a freaking MARATHON, a place where people come together to express their aliveness, push their boundaries and collectively celebrate human potential.  To say this news is shocking, sad and disheartening would be an understatement.  To say I have the answers would be ridiculous.  To say I’m a little bit obsessed with how to take in this kind of information and continue to cultivate and maintain a sense of peace, safety, unity and justice would be the truth.

Obviously, I can only speak for myself about the ways I deal with this kind of tragedy, but it seems my thoughts on happiness and contentment are actually quite relevant right about now.  What I know is this: my greatest and most authentic joy and contentment seem to occur in the simplest of moments.  They occurs when life slows down.

But when the hell does life slow down?  It seems to only be getting faster, right?  Right.  So. From what I can see, it’s all about conscious choices—choosing to slow down and choosing simple moments.  It’s about stopping to smell the flowers, lighting a candle even when you are eating alone, closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths to connect to something greater than yourself, sending a letter to someone you love when they least expect it, making eye contact and offering a smile to a stranger, eating your food slowly, noticing the light, helping a friend move without expectation for a return favor, writing in your journal before you check your email, making art for the sake of making art, moving your body in a way that feels good, walking slowly in the woods and perhaps the most important thing…

giving thanks every damn time you can remember to give thanks.

Again, not rocket science, but I’m kind of getting that living well is not supposed to be complicated and it’s not supposed to be hard. In fact, I think it’s all about unraveling complications to expose simplicity and to live inside this place gracefully.

At least that’s what I’m banking on right about now.

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I’ll sign off today with the words I posted after the school shootings in December.  Feels pretty relative, once again.

“In the creative process, I believe that the greatest breakthroughs are often right on the other side of the greatest frustrations/fears/blocks/struggles. In order to reach the breakthroughs, we must be brave, keep doing the work and move through our fears as we follow our hearts and listen to our higher callings.

Tonight, I sit with a very heavy, but hopeful, heart praying and believing that there
  is a great LIGHT waiting just on the other side of this immense darkness. Deep in my bones, I know this is TRUE.

We are collectively waking up from a very old paradigm of fear, sadness and destructive behavior. As we shed this old skin, massive shifts and tragedy will occur right alongside deep waves of healing, transformation and re-birth.

During these intense times of change, we MUST keep walking towards LOVE.  Fear will only slow our evolution and hold us captive in it’s grips. Shine your hearts even brighter tonight as we collectively breathe in these changing times and send our light to all those who suffer. >>>>>> ♥ ♥ ♥”

xo flora

 

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #14!

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[Image by Zipporah Lomax]

I mentioned a couple days ago that one of my words for 2013 was EASE.  Since I can never seem to settle on just one “word of the year,”  I thought I would share my other word with you today…

COLLABORATION

Why collaboration?  Well, ya see, I’m kinda tired of doing things alone.  Painting alone.  Teaching alone.  Working alone.  Basically, I’m a little bit bored with the way I do things.  That’s not to say I don’t believe in the way I do things, because I definitely do, but there is a staleness that arises after doing something—anything—in the same way, over and over again for many years.  It’s like, “Yep.  I know how to do that.  In fact, I know how to do that so much that I’m not particularly challenged or interested in it anymore.  So…what’s next?  How can I change it up so that my actions in the world continue to be authentically interesting and new…to me?”  This is the conversation I have with myself and this is where collaboration comes in.  Adding another person’s perspective, talents and methods simply changes everything.  It forces you to let go, accept, work together, give and take, communicate and adapt.

Sign me up.

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[Image by Zipporah Lomax]

I was asked to do a live painting this year on the main stage of a pretty amazing New Year’s Eve party held at the Portland Art Museum. The name of a party was, Inspire Truth —how awesome is that?  Needless to say,  I was completely honored by this invitation, but my immediate response was, “Can I do it with my friend?”  Honestly, the idea of painting live on a big fancy stage in front of thousands of people was super intimidating for me (have I mentioned that I’m super shy?), but the idea of creating a painting collaboratively with my friend, Lynx, sounded, well, a lot more like…a PARTY.  We only practiced on one canvas in my studio before we took to the stage, so there was a lot of trust involved in this brave experiment.  Our intention:

Channel the magic of the night….you know, no pressure.

With big ol’ lights beaming down, matching outfits in place and a beautiful crowd of party-goers looking on, we collaboratively painted our way right through the end of 2012 and into 2013.  We had NO plan before we started (just like we like it).  The music was so loud we could hardly hear each other talk, so all night long, we communicated through color, dance and knowing glances.  We tuned into each other effortlessly (enter word #1: EASE) as we intuitively traded places on the canvas, turned the canvas upside down, added images, selected colors and covered over areas.  From the feedback we received, people were pretty mesmerized by the organic, fluid and collaborative nature of how we were creating together and the visual representation of mutual respect, trust, letting go and allowing that we were demonstrating…LIVE.

I can honestly say this was one of the best nights of my life.  To be able to do what I love with a dear friend and inspire hundreds of people along the way is my idea of a good time and a blessed life.  Here is our interpretation of the magic of that night…

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I’m so inspired by this idea of collaborative art making that my next few workshops will be focused quite a bit on this concept.  Can you imagine how freeing it would be to paint collaboratively with fifteen other painters—not even knowing what paintings will be yours in the end?  Exactly.

Here’s to collaboration and welcoming in the magic.  Happy Sunday everybody and thanks for being here on this journey.

xo flora

ps. More photos from our NYE extravaganza right here.

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[Image by Zipporah Lomax]

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #13!

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I’ve been thinking a lot about DREAMS lately…not so much the kind I have in my sleep (although that might be a whole different post..woah).  I’m talking about the kind of dreams I have in my waking hours.  “Daydreams”  if you will, but not the kind of daydreams I have while I’m staring off into space (again, more blogging fodder there).  Nope, I’m talking about the kind of dreams I have when I get really present to my deepest core desires.  I’m talking about…

dreaming my dream life ALIVE kinda dreams.

Thankfully, I was somehow born into this world thinking/knowing that…anything is possible. 

Amazing, right?  I mean, why on earth would a person believe that anything is possible in a world where so many people are suffering and so much injustice is at play?  I’m pretty sure my positive belief system has a whole lot to do with my amazing “anything is possible” parents and perhaps some kind of wild, well-deserved karma…and maybe a little ignorance?  Honestly,  I’m not too concerned with how this positive belief system came to be the lens through which I experience life, I’m just stoked it’s there.

However, I’ve also worked crazy hard to keep this lens from building up grit and grime over the years {insert positive affirmation here}.  As we know, it’s incredibly easy to become jaded, negative and overwhelmed in a world with so many freaking variables.  Right?  There will always be obstacles popping up on our path which challenge us and make our dreams seem that much more out of reach, elusive or just plain annoying/impossible.

I can honestly say that if had I known then what I know now, I’m pretty sure I would have NOT pursued a career as a painter.  I mean, WTF?  Who thinks they can make a living selling paintings in this day and age…and before the internet even existed!  Apparently my ignorant twenty-year old self thought that painting for a job was a feasible idea (thank god for this ignorance), and thank god I didn’t seem to mind being totally broke while I pursued this dreamy “dream job” because OH MY…

there have been obstacles.

But somehow, with all those obstacles, I kept my dream alive, working my ass off year after year, painting hundreds of painting, showing my work on any walls that would have me and living large (as in happily) on very little income.  When I look back now, I realize I never really had a choice.  I am so passionate about creating and specifically about painting, that I’m not sure what else I would have done.  The fact that I now weave together ALL my passions—art, yoga, dance, personal transformation, making a difference, travel, being my own boss—into one lovely job kinda blows my mind.  All this to say, I really do believe (because I’m living proof) that…

anything IS possible…as long as you are willing to dream it alive (and work your butt off).

I would love to sign off with this little excerpt about dreaming from Monique Duvall’s, The Persistence of Yellow

“I met my dreams in a dream last night.

They were whining about the view, the humidity,

The reckless rooms inside my heart.

We need room for flight, they cried.

So I’m deconstructing my tiny house today.

I’m giving my dreams the starlight as their steeple.

The uncluttered winds for their kites.”

Thank you to the ever-inspiring Myriam Joseph for unearthing this gem and passing it on to me.  To read more about this beautiful dreamer, check out Brene Brown’s Inspiration Interview with Myriam.  Oh, and you just might want to hang around and check out Brene’s blog while you’re there.

Happy weekend ya’ll. Keep dreaming big!

xo flora

 

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #12!

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Spring has definitely SPRUNG here in Portland and it’s all I can do to not drool all over the amazing flowers blooming everywhere.  I rode my bike across town today listening to Sigur Ros on my headphones, allowing my intuition to lead the way.  I have an exercise on my online course called, “Intuitive Wandering” that is all about wandering (walking, biking, even driving) without a plan.  I realize this is not rocket science, but I do think it’s quite *rare* to roam based on your gut instincts vs. an actual need to get somewhere.  I know, for me, every time I do allow myself to wander in this way (feeling where I want to go instead of thinking about where to go), I seem to I tap into a totally different kind of energy flow.  In a lot of ways, it brings back familiar feelings I had so often as a kid—playful, carefree, guided by curiosity, present, open to magic…

By following my gut today, I found myself biking through a very old and beautiful graveyard that I never knew existed (totally inspiring thoughts of life and death and living fully…gotta love a graveyard for those reminders).  I also rode down several overgrown alleyways, through city parks and around all kinds of neighborhoods bursting with pink cotton candy blooms.  One thing I noticed is how luxurious it felt to bike in this intuitive way—to literally stop and smell flowers, to take pictures, to take an impromptu walk in the park and to really appreciate this exact moment of Springtime glory.  So often I find myself racing from one thing to the next (like we modern humans tend to do), and today’s wander really got me thinking about TIME.  I thought about where it goes, how easy it is to waste it (hello facebook, instagram, email, twitter, etc…), and how I might start to replace even a little bit of this time wasted with time spent doing the exact things that bring me joy, like a simple intuitive wander.

Again, not rocket science, but a damn fine thing to aspire to.

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Happy Friday everyone.  Perhaps you’ll make some time for a little intuitive wandering yourself this weekend?

xo, flora

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #11!

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[Finding tribe: Image by Zipporah Lomax]

Truth be told, I’m not really in the mood to blog today.  There, I said it.

So, I’m going to take the road of EASE (one of my words of the year), and simply link right on over to another blog.  Shazam!  So easy.

I’m actually really happy to share this blog with you because it’s a freakin’ treasure trove of awesome information. It’s the blog associated with the  wonderful Seek Your Course website which serves as an amazing database and resource for connecting learning opportunities with those desiring to live creatively.  If you are interested in finding an art retreat, learning a new medium or just want to connect with more of your “creative tribe,” this is THE PLACE!  Thanks to the amazing Jess Greene for creating such a dynamic and useful website for all of us.

Today, the Seek Your Course blog just so happens to be featuring a little interview I did with them a few weeks back, so if you are dying to know what I drink in the morning (ha ha, does anyone really care about that?  I gotta wonder.), you can find out right here.

Hope you enjoy!

xo flora

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #10!

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[Image by Zipporah Lomax]

As I type this, my friend Tara is across the street on a massage table receiving an hour of healing energy work from one of my healer angels, Mandy.  I gifted this session to Tara because I believe so much in this work and there is nothing I would rather give a dear friend than the gift of healing.  I’ve also been gushing to Tara about Mandy’s amazing sessions for over a year now, so I’m very excited for Tara to receive Mandy’s work first hand.  Woah, I *just* realized as I wrote that how much attachment I have around Tara having an AMAZING experience with Mandy— just like I always do.  Good to notice.  Alright, I’m going to exhale that expectation right…..now.  Cool.  Whatever will be will be :)

Funny, I had no idea what I was going to write today when I sat down.  Admittedly, I spent approximately a third of my yoga class this morning thinking about what to write…not exactly being present on the mat.  But, as I sit here now,  all I can think about are the parallels between this writing process and my painting process.  The difference with writing is that I feel like…

a total beginner. 

A total beginner when writing from the heart, that is, which feels way different than writing at a comfortable distance from my heart.  Yet, this is exactly what I ask of my students as they step in front of the blank canvas.  I ask them to let go of expectations, tune into their intuition and allow their heart to lead the way.  I ask them to step towards the feeling of NOT KNOWING, to embrace the mystery head on.

As a person who has been painting for twenty years now, it’s pretty damn easy for me to embrace this kind of blank canvas mystery.  I know, from experience, that if I keep moving paint around and adding layers, eventually something will happen.  From experience, I know that my creative process is so much more about showing up rather than having some great master plan. It’s about allowing and being brave way more than it’s about planning and plotting.  Ultimately, it’s about TRUSTING.

And, guess what?  TRUSTING is what this love affair is all about too (like any good love affair!)  TRUSTING that I have something worthy to say.  TRUSTING that my perspective matters.  TRUSTING that I won’t be negatively judged by exposing my true self.  TRUSTING that the words will come when I sit down at a blank screen.  TRUSTING everyday for 30 days.

BTW, Tara just returned from her session.

She loved it.

Now for some more quality time…

xo flora

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #9!

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[Tara and I @ Burning Man, 2012...a picture sure can tell a thousand words.]

I woke up yesterday to a text message from one of my oldest and dearest friends who lives in Boston.  It read, “Can I come visit you…like tomorrow?”  I would be lying if I said this was totally out of the blue, as we’ve been hoping to make this visit happen for awhile now, but WOW, it was suddenly happening…like tomorrow, which is now…like today.  Of course my answer was a resounding, “YES!” and in about three hours, I’ll be on my way to the airport to pick Tara up.  Insta-reunion.  Just.  Like.  That.

I think we can probably all relate to the utter radness of dear old friends—the ones who have known you through all of life’s  messes and celebrations, breakdowns and breakthroughs, falling in loves and falling aparts, and all the twists and turns that reflect a life lived to the fullest. There is simply nothing else like these relationships.  They run deep and the run strong.  And, I have to admit that the more my online network grows and expands (which I LOVE, of course, don’t get me wrong), I am craving these deep old connections like nobody’s business.  Why?  Because it’s my oldest friends who know the whole story…

My whole story.

They knew me when I used to paint in my cramped bedroom after long nights of waitressing.  They knew me when I schlepped my paintings to every dinky little art walk and hosted art shows in my own living room with hopes of paying the rent.  They knew me when I got rejected from all three MFA Painting programs I applied to. They knew me when I lived in a tent for six months volunteering after Hurricane Katrina.  They also knew me when I lived in my van, my art studio warehouse and as a permanent “house-sitter.”  They knew me when I went to Burning Man for the first time and witnessed me finally beginning to fall in love with myself there.  They knew me when I suddenly (and painstakingly) changed my name to Flora after 30 years (yes, that’s a whole other post) And, to say they’ve known me through the deepest of loves and the hardest of heartbreaks, would be a pretty big understatement.

Yep.  There are a handful of people who know the whole of me, and I love them so much for that knowing.

For the next three days, my regularly scheduled life will be on hold.  Besides writing these posts (of course :) ) and keeping up with a minimal amount of other commitments, I will happily be giving myself over to the precious moments as they unfold between two old friends.  Because, really—what else is more important than spending quality time with the people you love the most in your life?  I’m pretty sure…nothing.

If you take a peak at my friend Tara’s photography, you will quickly see that she also “gets” the magic of human connection.  In fact, she has built an entire career out of capturing these moments for other people….a rockin’ career, I might add.  I was blessed to have Tara take all the photos in my book, and if you have the book, you KNOW how gorgeous those photos are.

I am blessed to know her.  End of story.  Adios.

xo flora

 

 

30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #8!

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The image above is just a small bit of a painting that I’m working on right now, but I decided to post it on Instagram last night with the caption, “Digging more quiet space in my paintings these days…perhaps a reflection of what’s goin on inside? Probably so.”

It was one of those quick fleeting thoughts, but it kept creeping back into my mind all day today.  You see, I’ve been occupying this really rare and beautiful space lately where I actually…get this…HAVE TIME.  After two and a half years of insane busyness (for those of you who have been following my world, you KNOW what I’m talking about here), I have carved out some sweet downtime for myself.  It definitely did not just *happen.*  Nothing has slowed down for me, in fact, opportunities are presenting themselves like never before {insert moment of gratitude right here}, but I have consciously chosen to say no to many things in order to give myself the gift of TIME…sweet sweet unscheduled time.  Time in my studio, time to take walks and ride my bike, time to have tea dates with friends, time to do yoga, time to take baths and listen to the rain in my skylights.  Time to mediate.  Time to play.

Just plain ol’ simple time.

With all this luxurious time on my hands, I’m noticing a straight-up shift inside my being.  It’s like my nervous system is relaxing.  My thoughts are softening and because of all the time to exercise, my body is feeling stronger.  I’m spinning out and feeling overwhelmed much less, and the time I am spending with people feels deeper, more present. All in all, life is just really good right now.  There, I said it, and didn’t even feel guilty ;)

And…..I’m totally seeing this shift inside myself reflected in my paintings.  Generally speaking, they are lighter, more quiet and more…simple.  They are flowing out effortlessly and I’m not fussing over them in the way I usually do.  Basically, I’m letting them BE EASY.

So, here’s the big AHA moment I had today.  I realized that I have this tendency to want to “fill up” my canvases with a lot of information—so many different marks, colors, layers, images, etc…all in order to “make it interesting,”  ie: to make it worthy, pretty, enough, complex, amazing, surprising _________ (fill in the superlative blank).  EEK!

So what happens when I allow there to be SPACE in my paintings/life?  What happens when I allow for easy, simple and breathable?  Well, my friends, what seems to be happening is that I’m creating some really lovely, almost meditative paintings, and I’m also experiencing more sweet simple moments in my life.  I keep referring to these sweet simple moments as “the space between” moments.  They are the moments that happen in-between the big flashy moments of excitement.  They are: slowing picking out fruit at the grocery store,  taking walks in my neighborhood park, picking fresh daffodils from my front yard, watching flower petals drop, making soup…

As for the paintings, I see that the new ones are different, yes, but they are not lacking in their simplicity.  Instead, they simply possess an entirely different quality—much like the inside of my head feels right about now.  That said, I’m really not interested in labeling my current state of being or my current state of painting better or worse than how things were before, but I am very willing to note the difference.  It’s all just kinda interesting in my opinion.  Art reflects life.  Life reflects art.  The main point I’m getting here is that…

More is not always more.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that right now, for me anyways, less is actually more.  I think I could remain quite happy in this slowed down quiet space for quite some time—until the next big flashy moment of excitement is ready to pop, of course.

xo flora

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