Wednesday, September 30, 2015

so long, september

September is a month of new beginnings for me. In fact, in my minds eye I see it as the beginning point of the year turning (counter clock-wise, for some reason) on this cosmic wheel of life.

It's a time of getting back to routine and rhythm which I find brings a comforting sense of security. September, this first month of autumn, signaling a feeling of turning inward and slowing down after a summer filled with activity and expansion. A harvest and a gathering in every sense of the word. A time of personal evaluation and deep introspection.

My September days have been quiet and simple. I wake early and head down to prepare school lunches and breakfast. I send my family off to their own activities. I run most days and relish these pleasant mornings that feel just right-- cool, yet comfortable enough to still wear shorts and a t-shirt. I tidy and putter or might be inspired to bake in this now fully functional oven. A pot of soup might simmer on the stove while I read.

A lot of my reading and study has been on the topic of creativity. Feeling such a desire and urging to better develop and understand this aspect of my life. How I can activate and invite inspiration to play a more dominant role in my life. Which I've now determined is a huge source of my personal happiness, identity, and sense of fulfillment. 

These powerful words from Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear really resonated with me this afternoon:

Creative Living, Defined

So this, I believe, is the central question which creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?

Look, I don't know what's hidden within you. I have no way of knowing such a thing. You yourself may barely know, although I suspect you've caught glimpses. I don't know your capacities, your aspirations, your longings, your secret talents. But surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you. I say this with all confidence, because I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.

The hunt to uncover those jewels-- that's creative living.

The courage to go on that hunt in the first place-- that's what separates the mundane existence from a more enchanted one.

The often surprising results of that hunt-- that's what I call Big Magic.

And finally, I would have to say that the biggest highlight, surprise, and joy of this month has been my painting. I've felt so compelled to begin this journey back to the world of visual art. Not just admiring other artists and their work, but finally being able to develop my own gifts as an artist. (I now can proudly say that I am an artist!) 

After all these years that have passed from the days of my young womanhood, something I've never felt a desire to do until this month. An undertaking I thought so frightening, intimidating, and overwhelming. But my muse won't let up! Thoughts and images of what to paint come to me as I'm running in the mornings or when I'm dreaming at night. It is deeply healing work, exhilarating work, fulfilling work, and happy work. A wondrous and  interesting and curious thing to see how all of this is unfolding in my life.

These last three images from my most recent painting: 
"To the Deep"

Lots of excavating and layering expressing both the physical and emotional aspects of this painting.

Monday, September 14, 2015


:: the simple pleasure of a rainy day at home.

:: garden produce deliveries from thoughtful, generous friends.

:: jugs of happy sunflowers.

:: receiving the bus driver's friendly, encouraging smiles and waves every morning when I'm out running.

:: apple this and apple that. So excited to welcome my favorite time of year!

:: patches of red, orange, and gold on the mountainside.

:: working on my art journal.

:: seeing each of my children flourishing and happy.

:: the deep satisfaction and happiness I feel in assisting my clients to their well-being.

:: setting up a little inspirational and beautiful September tableaux in my studio.

:: G & G coming over Saturday night to hang out with me (their first time watching The Book Thief ) while the rest of the gang went to the first home-game of the season.

:: the absolute joy and fulfillment I feel in creating two new paintings these last few weeks. Finding peace and purpose and solace in this room. Playing with color and form, bringing my ideas and longings and vision to the canvas. Feeling a deep connection to the Divine, to the creator within me that desires expression. 

Harvest Queen
Shared this with my Facebook friends:

"Feeling a little vulnerable sharing this with you all for various reasons, but I will because I'm happy! I've been recently trying to stretch myself a little in a new way. Exploring and discovering dormant artistic talents that have been there all along and buried deep in sometimes rich, sometimes dry, sometimes fallow soil these twenty-five years, but needing a little prodding, a little time, and a little inspiration. For the last little while, I have felt compelled to paint. To find healing and meaning though sacred symbols, images, form, and color. To search and find the Divine in the feminine, the Divine within myself, the Divine that seeks to manifest to me if only I'll open my eyes. To be able to express all this in a tangible way. This painting is really a self-portrait: Emily, the Harvest Queen with a crown of five glorious sunflowers in her hair; each representing her radiant and precious and almost grown children. Luscious, juicy grapes and golden, ripe stalks of wheat symbolizing the rich abundance in her life. She holds the sweet fruits of the Tree of Life dear within her heart. And that golden, succulent pear at her throat, reminding her of not only the beautiful shape of herself as Woman, but also a quiet symbol of the fertile womb, her own creative powers. Words of "Joy", "Divine Love", and "Peace" are being birthed there; intention-seeds planted and continuing to be harvested."


A struggle to bring her to the canvas, but tears of joy at the end. Didn't quite know what to do with her halo. Inspired to use a decoupage of a recent journal page. I'm pleased with the effect, and it now means all the more to me.

One of the first steps for me in the creation of this painting: Writing a love letter from my Muse to me. My answer to her in return. Before I started the painting, I wrote her letter in charcoal on the blank canvas. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

California Vacation: San Clemente and Disneyland

Emily's "Top Ten" list 
of our final vay-cay days:

:: greeting Isaac and Eliza at the airport. I can't tell you how good it was to have them back in my arms, see their wide, happy smiles, be all together once again.

:: LA freeways. Enough said.

:: relaxing day at the beach near our rental in San Clemente. Relaxing, yes, but all that sun resulting in lobster-red arms and legs. My lips one big blistering mess. 

:: Eliza's amazing "Mermaid Girl" attracting admiring smiles.

:: squealing like a little girl on our way to Disneyland.

:: this sweet boy wanting to hold my hand the entire time. He and I leading the way, skipping with joy.

:: Isaac's birthday celebration starting a few days early... so many friendly "Happy Birthday" wishes. And being selected for the Jedi Training... it just doesn't get any better than this.

:: our first time experiencing California Adventure... Awesome!

:: chocolate-covered bananas, Dole pineapple freezes, and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln-- our late afternoon salvation and survival.

:: these poor feet just barely making it after two 14 hour days of non-stop walking and standing in long lines.

:: air-conditioning breaking down just in time for our long drive back home to Utah. (And through the Mohave Desert, too.)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

California Vacation: Morro Bay and Santa Barbara

We'll continue with our travel log...

Here are some of my favorite things from this leg of our trip:

:: I can't believe I forgot to mention in my previous post the whale sightings we kept seeing as we were driving down the Pacific Coast highway between Carmel and our next destination of Morro Bay.

The first time it happened, I thought I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of some kind of huge movement far out in the middle of the water. All the sudden, I realized that a huge tail was coming up to the surface and then flopping down with a big kerspash. I couldn't believe what I was seeing! And very soon after, another similar sighting, assuming it was a mother with her young one. That was so much fun and such an unforgettable experience.

:: Morro Bay is marked by a huge, unique rock landmark that sits out in the bay just in front of the waterfront city. Loved walking around the docks as the sun was setting.

:: welcomed, smiling, and touched by our kind hosts' little chalkboard note left alongside a basket of goodies, "Happy Twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Keith and Emily!" Aawwww...

:: Keith kept commenting how much this place reminded him of staying at his beloved Grammie's house. So clean and tidy with all the thoughtful, homey touches that make you feel happy and taken care of.

:: the next day's agenda included a tour of Hurst Castle. A little drive north from where we were staying, this was very fascinating to me--  the story of this man and his woman architect who built this amazing palace, the magnificent gardens, and pools-- all that opulence, the priceless historical treasures and art preserved and now enjoyed by so many. 

:: enjoyed a nice sunset stroll along the beach that evening. Fun to do some birdwatching and search for sand dollars, too.

:: our next stop was lovely Santa Barbara. 
I told Keith I could live in this city. 

:: We were so glad we made arrangements to stay at Janet's beautiful Hacienda Margarita. Loving her beautiful gardens, ethnic decor, and kind hospitality. Even more excited when I found out she had lived in Nepal studying textiles and Tibetan for twenty years and was acquainted with my Uncle Gene ("Gene Smith? You're the niece of THE Gene Smith!?"), a renown Tibetan Buddhist scholar and founder of the Tibetan Resource Center in New York. 
What a small world! 

:: Couldn't miss an opportunity to visit another old Spanish mission. More lovely gardens, a peaceful cemetery, and an interesting museum to wander, this place continues to serve  an order of Franciscan friars. 

:: finished our day with some killer Mexican food and a little browsing through some cool shops. 

Next up: the kids join us in San Clemente... we hit the beach and go to Disneyland!