Seeing through a different set of glasses

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It’s my Birthday!! So I reflect on my summer, year, and life thus far.

I just returned from holidays with my family and was inspired by many Canadian east coast vistas’. You would think I would be painting Peggy’s Cove or Marine scenes, but I was feeling inspired to have some fun. Perhaps the 3 generations spending time together had more of an effect than a well known overly photographed lighthouse.

I have learned in my wisdom to not fight the creative process.                                                   The painting:   “Looking through a different set of glasses” was created.

As I age I become more aware that things are not always black and white. I do not have all the answers. I am not always right. Even when I truly think I am.

With age, comes the wisdom to see through another’s eyes. To be more aware of what is happening around us and especially within us.

Time is precious, life can be short and all we have is the present moment.  Take the time to inspire someone.  Be grateful for every day, every year, every decade.

Swap glasses. Try the Ray-bans for a day.  Ever notice the style you wore in the 80’s is back again. Should have kept my white ones…they’d be vintage.

Better yet, ditch the dark glasses and try good old fashion eye contact.  Gaze into a loved ones eyes.  If you are really brave I challenge you to gaze into a strangers eyes.

Add a smile.                                                                                                                                                    One rule: NO TALKING. Resist the urge.                                                                                            If it gets too hard, SMILE more. Creates good wrinkles.                                                        WINKING is allowed and encouraged. Fake eyelashes help.

Likely you just made someone’s day!

Encouraging eye contact and creativity everyday.

Thanks for helping me spread the LOVE.                                                                                 Michelle

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”― Confucius

 

 

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Unexpected Gifts

“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”   ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Walking with my Higher Self. 24×48 Oil

 

One Year ago exactly… I went on a road trip to visit my dear friend Mary-Louise in a very small Saskatchewan town called Eastend.

Eastend is a town situated in the Southwest corner of Saskatchewan Canada.

Website clearly stated:

Eastend, Saskatchewan
is located in the middle of nowhere
and miles from the nearest city.

Surely not too hard to find… But when the road is flat, good tunes are playing… memories of good times with my friend are fully present… I manage to miss the right turn.   Minutes then hours start to add up to panic that I am off course.  Where AM I??

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This brings up memories of a road trip, again in Saskatchewan with this same friend.  Talking so much we miss the turn and add 3 hours to a simple 6 hour trip to Saskatoon… that is another story.

I am LOST!  Cell phone reception is low.  I manage to call my friend.  “You went to far,” she informs.    I could be upset with myself, but rather I quickly accept the fact that I was meant to visit Gull Lake.  To my amazement I begin to travel south over a vista of amazing gold covered hills.

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Feel like I have found my gold at the end of a rainbow.  It was double, triple fields of amazing bright yellow gold with sweeping blue skies.  Very similar to a painting I began before the trip called “Walking with my higher self”.  It was like I had to go this way to see this view.  Thanks Universe!

I was so overwhelmed I forgot to take a picture and with my usual “Why did I not stop to take some pictures” … I decided to implant the vision into my memory  bank.  I did proceed to stop later when I couldn’t stand the beauty anymore, but the view you see here is not the jaw dropping spectacular view I saw coming over the hills.

This is INSPIRATION!  Mother Natures perfect visual gift to me.  The best things in life are free.  One year later I am still thinking about this scene.  It gives me warm fuzzy feelings and goosebumps at the same time.  It is a “SAVE IMAGE” memory for sure.

I finally make it to Eastend.  What a little treasure this town in the middle of the Cypress hills turns out to be.  Quiet, quaint, where good friends await.  A place where the town parade is 5 min long and they still toss candy.

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A place where shopping for Art is self serve on Saturdays.

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A place where kindness of strangers unfold and offer you a place to stay while you visit.

A place where dogs are encouraged to visit public places.

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A place where good friends reunite.  As usual my dear friend Mary-Louise has reminded me of embracing the SIMPLE LIFE.

It is her birthday…but turns out that she is MY GIFT!

Happy Birthday to my wonderful friend.

With Love and Gratitude for friendship, getting lost and realizing the simple things in life are always free.

Michelle

Creating Community Gardens

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When I reflect on Summer Camp 2014, the general theme that stands out for me is COMMUNITY.

Whether you are painting, doing yoga, working or going to the movies…the energy of group work raises the vibration and magic moments naturally occur.  My week spent with 8 young artists was full of Exploration, Inspiration and FUN!

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The end result was alot of amazing ART, but that is not what I remember even hours after the final Art Show.

What I remember was the process, the JOURNEY.  

Just like any creative project…IMAGINATION sparks an idea that STIRS the SOUL…

We seek out tools, canvas, paper, brushes and teachers to fill our tool box….CONFIDENCE is gathered to explore something new.

Set quickly into ACTION- otherwise known as PLAY MODE.  Avoid thinking and start doing.

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CONNECT, get involved, share with others, WONDER, get frustrated, cry, SMILE, Feel ELATED or deflated, scared or EXCITED. FEEL more.  Move through, move on and WONDER what the next journey will bring…

In the end after the canvas has been long forgotten we remember EACH OTHER.  The good times and the bad.  Maybe we remember sticky fingers from the fruit bouquet or how we felt when our final project turned out better than we imagined.  

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Regardless, I will treasure this week for all the SMILES and HUGS I received and I will PAY them forward.

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Bouquets of Gratitude,

Michelle

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”~Mother Teresa

Random Acts of Kindness

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. ~Lao Tzu

 

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This is my story on how my art show unfolded by Random Acts of Kindness, some hard work and a lot of Faith.

Just shy of two years ago, I attended an art workshop hosted by Canadian artist Laura Harris. I first stumbled onto Laura’s work while I was on holidays with my family; I wandered into a gallery on a bright, sunny spring day and was instantly moved by what I saw. It wasn’t so much the subject matter – in fact, I do not remember much of the subject matter of the paintings. There were some paintings of flowers and abstract landscapes. What I do remember is the feeling that overwhelmed me as I viewed the show. Something shifted deep inside me. It made me feel more alive.

When I learned that Laura was going to be giving a workshop in Radium, BC, it took me less than one second to contact my dear friend and creative collaborator Danielle. We signed up immediately. Yoga, art, nature, friends and community = a perfect fit.

The workshop was full of amazing women. We shared a lovely experience at a beautiful location, complete with 360 degrees of stunning views with a mountain backdrop, eating good food, painting, yoga and wine. My ideal getaway with one of my best friends- a perfect gift to myself.

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After returning home, I invited some of the local women from the workshop over to my home and studio for an evening of art, wine and appetizers. I always enjoy company of like-minded women, art and good food.   With wine flowing, paint flying and ideas brewing, one of the kind women, Maureen, whom I had only met a handful of times, offers her home to me for a future personal art show. Danielle and I, again, take less than a second to look at each other, smile and say “Yes Please”. It was a little impulsive, but with a day to think about it and a confirmation from her husband, Maureen calls and confirms that they would love to host an art show. HUGE- Random Act of Kindness.

I have to confess that I have been offered this gift before. The difference this time is that I have done the work and had built the confidence to say YES. Without hesitation I agree and move forward.   I am thrilled to have a goal, a focal point to work towards. What a gift I have been given. I am excited!

My dear friend and angel wing Danielle, who works silently by my side creating her own beauty through her photography and marketing pieces, is always there to guide and support me. We also met through Random Acts of Kindness. I donated an art class  that she purchased to raise money for our local school. It is no accident that we met. This woman is beyond amazing. A mother of 3 children, active in every aspect of her kids, friends and families lives. I call her my angel wing, because with out her I would not be where I am today. It is much easier to fly with two wings. Image

I am always blown away by the fact that the perfect person comes into your life exactly when you are ready. You must be CLEAR about what you want.

The theme of my Art show 2014 was CLARITY.

“Clarity comes from knowing what you want and from moving in the direction of it.  Your soul is guiding and supporting you every step of the way.”  ~Sue Krebs

 

In my confusion of what I want to do with my life….some years ago a dear teacher of mine took the time to sit with me and listen. His advice was to GET CLEAR on what you want and work towards the goal everyday. He sent me home with a copy of Wayne Dyers “Excuses Begone” tucked under my arm and a list of to-do’s. At the bottom of the list there was a note. It said, “I Believe in you”.  This Random Act of Kindness was a boost of encouragement that I needed. A small kick in the butt was kindly accepted and was a very monumental moment in my life.

The message:

GET CLEAR, WORK HARD… the rest will take care of itself. Something much bigger is navigating when you’re doing purposeful work. I am clear that my job is to show up and do my work.  Practice Gratitude and Serve.

Your proper concern is alone the ACTION of Duty, not the fruits of the Action. CAST then away all desires and fear for the fruit.”      ~The Bhagavad Gita

May 10, 2014 was a monumental day for me. The show was a huge success- but what was the most special about it was that all of this happened due to Random Acts of Kindness from so many people.

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When I reflect, I cannot believe my good fortune and luck. I have such gratitude for all who helped, attended and supported me from afar.

I realize that when I am working towards a goal that I am disciplined and dedicated to- amazing stuff unfolds.

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The second person that walked into my art show was a yoga teacher from Vancouver Island that I had never previously met. Quickly into the conversation she asks me if I know her artist friend Laura Harris? I smile.

The next day is Mothers Day. I am enjoying dinner at a restaurant with my family, I look up at two Laura Harris original paintings hung in the restaurant.

On the way home, the amazing couple who hosted my art show sent me a picture of my painting newly hung in their home.   I am thrilled and honored that it sits in between two Laura Harris paintings.

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I smile again.  The perfect ending…or just the beginning?

Proof that Random Acts of Kindness always come full circle.

Be Kind,

Be Gracious,

Be LOVE,

 

In Creative Spirit,

Michelle

Laura Harris lives and works in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. More information about Laura and her artwork can be found at http://www.laura-harris.com

Danielle Paetz lives and works in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. More information about Danielle and her photography can be found at http://www.tinytakesphotography.com.

 

 

A Breathe of Fresh Air

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 Sometimes I question what I say-Or worse yet- someone questions it for me.

 My words could perhaps use a better filter. 

After years of not speaking my truth- I have learned to speak it-even if it comes out harshly. 

I am passionate about things I believe in.  I am passionate about people I care about…Sometimes words flow out of my mouth without a lot of thought.  My elbows are sharp.  I’ll admit I have work to do. 

I am working on the PAUSE between the INHALES and EXHALES.   Make them longer—more lingering.  This sometimes would help in the delivery of my message.  OK- all the time this would help, but it is so HARD to remember in times of PASSION.  EMOTION FLOODS and my mouth resembles a fast running river. 

I respect the quiet observer.  I know a slim few of them.  I love to watch how they interact.  They LISTEN more, process more and proceed with COMPASSION and WISDOM.

This is what I wish to cultivate more of.

So I practice Breathing.   Yup we do it all day!  What I mean is I need to practice “Conscious breathing.”  Such a simple concept- yet so easy to forget as I shake, rattle and roll throughout the day.

        INHALE, EXHALE.  Inhale, exhale…in, out.

How often do I notice the little break in between the breath?  Hmmm.  Silence.

 INHALE-find the pause              EXHALE-find the pause

Over time the PAUSE grows…

The thoughts settle

The dreams percolate.

The imagination soars, things become a little clearer.

There is sweetness in this space.   

The sweet spot.   I have arrived.  Breathing in fresh air…     

Meet you here!

With softer elbows and a full spirit,

Michelle

“Notice a breathe a day-try for 2.  Try in an elevator for 1 Breathe- Instead of thinking about the other persons shoes.”~Eckardt Tolle

 

 

 

 

Write a Love Letter

What would it feel like to be in a space that you felt totally ACCEPTED, VALIDATED and LOVED.Image

What would it feel like to be able to put yourself in that space, where you take time to LOVE yourself,  ACCEPT  yourself and JUST BE yourself.

Picture yourself in a place of pure acceptance.  Breathe in Possibility, Breathe out excuses.

Hmmm… sounds good…But…”How do I get there?”   So glad you asked… Please step into my office.   I invite you to PLAY!  The kids will lead the way.

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The crayons, markers, paint, brushes, paper, canvases are the tools we will be using.  Super SWEET and very low calorie Candy for an artist. 

Supply list: 

8” square of black paper

8-12 pencil crayons (Prismacolor work best)  1 white- the rest a rainbow of color.  

CD

Instructions:

Trace a circle using the CD with the white pencil on the square. Then play the CD or music of your choice- Caution** if using a playlist on cell phone – block any distractions- even the zen ringer-turn off.   Light a candle and/or make a cup of tea.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

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This circle represents a creative free space that is not judged.  You can do whatever you want to in this space.  Play with lines and color, shade, dots, and circles. Rotate the drawing in any direction to discover interesting compositions.  Whatever your heart desires.  There is no right or wrong, no grades are given out (you already get an A+) 

Let go, Let go, Let go… 

Choose Love over fear.  Fun over Frustration.  Acceptance over Expectations.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

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Pick up White pencil and start at the center of the circle.  Enter your playground,  spend as much time here as you wish.  Add color if and when you intuitively feel like it, explore freely.  No need for an eraser, as there are no mistakes, only happy accidents.   Write yourself a Love Letter,    Play in your sandbox for as long as you like.  Create until you feel complete.

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Breathe in, Breathe out.

Take the time to look at what you created, write any thoughts on back or front of paper.

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Save it, Burn it, Frame it or put it under your pillow.  Maybe mist it with a favorite scent.  I recommend Lavender.

Repeat often.

Happy Valentines Day!  

In Creative Spirit,

Michelle

“ Art is always a mirror- It always speaks not just about what is out there, in the subject; it also speaks about what’s in here, in the artist.” —Jean Carbonetti

Walking the High Line NYC

It has been 5 months since my surprise Birthday trip to NYC.  Not sure why I woke up thinking about this trip…perhaps it’s because flocks of people will be travelling there to celebrate Super Bowl 2014.

I love to walk.   If you go to New York City, be sure to bring good walking shoes.  Packed my Stilettos and my trusty Nike Air purple runners.  All set to explore.

Life is about experiencing extreme opposites and then finding a nice place to settle in between.   We often have to feel both ends of pendulum so we can decide where we like to fall in between.  Goldilocks syndrome- Not too hot, not too cold…just right…sigh.

NYC is awesome for that.  Buildings, people, high activity, cement everywhere.  You can be around millions of people-yet walk in your own world. Image

My favorite part of my trip was walking the High Line.  The Highline is a 1 mile NYC Park built on a historic freight railroad line.  Basically it is a public park elevated above the streets on Manhattans west side.  Perfectly situated above the art district.

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It is easy to see the skyline from here amongst the beautifully kept gardens.  This is a place where couples walk holding hands, artists sit and sketch, kids eat ice-cream, students relax on wooden lounge chairs. 

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When I walk I consciously spend a fair amount of time looking up. 

On the Highline you can look up, look down and also take a photo of where you are in the moment.   I loved the feeling of being in nature.   Here you are close to the sky, with a view of the Manhattan skyline.   See the concrete, metal, glass and feel the softness of the wood, plants and water fountains at the same time.

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The place to contemplate life while the activity of Manhattan continues on right beneath your feet. 

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When I returned home I painted 3 tiny canvases of my walk of the highline.  Perhaps a larger painting to represent my trip is brewing…

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Travel is always inspiring.  Seems there is just more time to notice, look, feel, smell.  Experience all the senses.

Be fully present to what is.   The memories are an added bonus and something to share.  For this I am always grateful.

Enjoy your trip and wear comfy shoes! 

In Creative Spirit,

Michelle

Uniball Pen- Single Pointed Focus

ImageHappy 2014!

Just made my “To Do List” because the things I have to do are adding up and making my mind SWIRL!

Kept my posts to a minimum this past month, as I feel the virtual overload, holiday indulgences and now the endless junk emails on how to lose those accumulated holiday pounds!

It is exhausting when you think of it all.  I feel heavy and overwhelmed…so I journal.

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My favorite Uniball pen reminds me- Single Focused, Waterproof, Fadeproof, Vision.  All I have to do is get the pen to paper and get down to business!  Things become clearer.  ACTION Creates Possibilities.

Take a line for a walk, make it thick, thin, curvy or straight.  Add color, texture, mix in a little IMAGINATION and stir.  TRUST what comes up.

What is my VISION?  Not what others want or see, but what is MY vision?  The one that connects with my heart.  I have to close my eyes to see this one. What is brewing around inside my minds eye?  What makes me excited?  What makes me smile? What makes me feel full?  Where do I focus my attention today?

Answer is simple- Find JOY today- one thing-

Finding one thing is easy…Kiss my kids…Do a little sketch…Listen to Music…Sway my hips…Begin…Make Art…

Create my Vision.

Suddenly I feel lighter,   Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho…  Off to work I go.

Can’t wait to see your vision!  

In Creative Spirit,

Michelle

“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.”— Jonathan Swift

 

 

Learn to Dance in the Rain

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My month has been amazing.  Productive, balanced, Magical really…I am so grateful.

So  here I sit with my starbucks coffee, a handful of yogurt raisins and my journal to help me satisfy my unsettled mind.

Yoga was a must today.  Ground and extend, Center and Grow, Get out of the mind and into the body, Process and eliminate the nonsense.  It has been an amazing month.

I ask myself, “What is my problem?”  Maybe it is “To good to be True”  says the Voice.  I conteract that thought quickly with the affirmation- “I have showed up consistently and the efforts are paying off.”   Be Happy.

The Voice is loud and annoying.  The cycle of self-doubt-a very familiar voice.

Today is different,  a shift has occurred.    The self nourishing voice is speaking a little stronger.  I am recognizing the Ebb and Flow of the Process of Creation.  The question remains, “How can I stay in the Flow?”  I am worried that the waterfall is around the corner and soon I will be at the bottom.  What I have come to realize is the Ebb is the time for rest.  The time to rejuvenate.  The time to paint, have fun and create.  The Ebb/Flow is the natural rhythm of my work.  In Art and in life.

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I recognize I need the whole cycle.  It is not about being unrealistic and happy all the time.  It is about the abilitly to recognize where I am in the cycle.  When the Ebb occurs, can I put my anxieties into action and show up to what is NOW.  My life.  The good, the bad, the happy, the sad.  I will admit the Ebb is not as easy to take as the Flow, but I am so grateful for the ability to FEEL.  I am aware that the Ebb is temporary and necessary for collecting my energy for the next flow to be even Bigger, Higher, Faster, full of Abundance and Creativity.

Bet the next waterfall will be Beautiful and I will be standing at the base looking up FEELING JOYFUL, with a smile on my face.

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Namaste,

Michelle

Art Camp 2013-Conquering Fears

First Annual Art Camp 2013

You teach what you need to Learn… Nothing like spending 4 Days,  28 hours with 8 pint sized artists 7-11years old…

Will I survive?? Heck ya!  I get to be a child again.  I was up everyday early, excited like a kid on Christmas morning.

The girls arrived each day a little earlier.  That is a good sign.  They are COMMITTED!

Number ONE skill to have as an artist.  Discipline, Commitment and a LOVE of ART is key to leading a creative life. We began the day with Yoga.  Finding our breath, looking inward, grounding and connecting.  Day 1- they can barely stay still vs Day 4- when half way through class they asked, “When is the story coming?  When can we lie down and rest.  That is my progress…

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“What next?”  Favorite question of the day (Actually this question is on constant replay)

“Art is next,” I reply.    We played with watercolor, pastel, acrylic, sketching, printing.

Creating our Masterpieces with intention.

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What I loved most was the sense of community.  We had guests come share their expertise.  Jesse the Fire Twirler, Jay the Balloon Artist and Shauna the Prayer Flag Artist all helped to empower the kids to believe in themselves.   Providing a space to create with freedom, teaching them to share, watching the fears set in.  Balloon twisting and popping struck a few nerves.  Does that fear ever go away??

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Bike riding was a challenge that I was not quite expecting.

All was going well- until the first BIG HILL…

Top of the hill

T: “The hill looks so BIG!  I am scared!”

M:  “It’s ok, just take your time, go slow.  Use your brakes.  YOU CAN DO IT!” Bottom of the hill

T: “ I DID IT!  It wasn’t that bad, I am proud of myself.”  I smile.

Off we go…then I hear sssssssszzz.  I stop smiling.

T:  “Michelle, Something is wrong with my bike.”

M:  “It’s a flat tire-oh boy.”  My challenge.  We are far away from home- no tire tube.

T: “What are we going to do?”

M:  I pause, “Lets go play and sketch at the river.”  Truth is I need to think about this one.

We all had a great time at the river.  Cooling off, playing with dogs.  It was 37 degrees.  Time to get back.  Little 7 yr old trouper artist, pushed her bike over 5 km home.  Not a tear shed- I was so proud of her.  She is a true artist!  Brave, Strong, Committed.   The other girls get a GOLD STAR for their patience and understanding.  Popsicles for all!! IMG_0933

When you have a Fear it is wise to find someone you respect that has walked the path ahead of you.  The teacher can relate, as they have had their own experience.  The unknown is scary. You wonder…Am I good enough?  Will I be accepted?  Will other judge me?   Am I capable?   Very Fearful thoughts indeed.

The teacher has learned through personal experience to challenge those thoughts.

Nourish yourself, have fun, choose Love over Fear, Support others. Be Brave, Be strong, Be authentic.  JUST BE!

In the creative process we take time to look inward- to stir our imagination-to feel what inspires us and turn our inspiration into something we can share.

Together- We MAKE ART!!!!    MAKE ART!!!!   MAKE MORE ART!!!!

It is in the process that we learn to overcome our fears, our self-doubt, have some fun Explore. Inspire and Believe…

 Manifest your Masterpiece.

In Creative Spirit,

Michelle

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“When you face the fear…it loses its power”