Vision 2019: COURAGE

Recall My Big Vision and Mission for 2018:


Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. – Carl Jung

This vision board has stayed on my bathroom shelf all year as a daily check in.  And as I reflect on a year that just sped by, much faster than expected, I feel the greatest gift of this past year is that I found an ability to speak my truth (out loud).  Even if my voice shook.


In 2018, I came to understand that my core value is TRUST- to be trusted that I know what I am doing.  And I have been challenged in this regard both by myself and by others many times this past year.  Even today.  Even in this moment,  As I encounter(ed) and work(ed) through those challenges, I hear(d) myself (not perfectly, mind you, and not always in the most succinct way) speaking up.

Inktober was life changing.  Bringing me into a deeper creative process- allowing me to experiment with colour and narrative.


Molly has been in hiding (as some producers took a stab at her) but I am “taking her back” and my life’s biggest creative project now enters a new draft, a new creative process.  I hear the voices of the ghosts again and a sense of emancipation flows through the work.  (And a relaunch is imminent)


I explored my 1977 diary on the blog and though I haven’t been working on it of late, being too busy with my bread and butter work, I had a great sense of peace working on it.  A pure comic book version is the ultimate goal.


I simplified this past year.  Savoured family.  Visited San Francisco.  Twice. Here at home, I retreated from invites.  Staying in with the cats.  Working, constantly working.

I pulled an angel card before I started writing here, asking for a message as to how I should approach working on my Vision for 2019:

Angel Card bowl by Alison Donnelly.  Angel Card holder, a gift from Emily Cowan.


The card is blank.

We have to be willing to accept that “drawing a blank” to our questions is sometimes the very best response we can receive. It calls for us to look inward for the truth and access our own authentic power instead of looking to others to tell us what to do or think. – Angela Rider

So as I have been reflecting on the year in the last month, one word keeps circulating in my mind for 2019: COURAGE.

courage (n.)

c. 1300, corage, “heart (as the seat of emotions),” hence “spirit, temperament, state or frame of mind,”from Old French corage “heart, innermost feelings; temper” (12c., Modern French courage), from Vulgar Latin *coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanish coraje), from Latin cor “heart” (from PIE root *kerd- “heart”).

Meaning “valor, quality of mind which enables one to meet danger and trouble without fear” is from late 14c. In this sense Old English had ellen, which also meant “zeal, strength.” Words for “heart” also commonly are metaphors for inner strength.

In Middle English, the word was used broadly for “what is in one’s mind or thoughts,” hence “bravery,” but also “wrath, pride, confidence, lustiness,” or any sort of inclination, and it was used in various phrases, such as bold corage “brave heart,” careful corage “sad heart,” fre corage “free will,” wikked corage “evil heart.” – SOURCE

Why this word?

I have become more and more aware of when the anxiety arises within me.  When the floor opens up and I fall through.

And a journal entry at the airport on my way to an extraordinary adventure in San Francisco clinched the work I need to do in 2019:



That question often came up this year– what happened to my courage?  Asking myself that question actually kicked my ass into motion even though anxiety feels like a cheese grater scratching at my heart.

Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.” – Brené Brown

And so-

I will use my own esteem heart exercise:


And focus on the word COURAGE as a tactile connection to my 2019 Vision.


Head up.  Straight back.  Panic arising?  Yell- BRING IT ON!!! 

Speak.  Speak UP!  

Listen.  Carefully.  Mindfully.

And create.  Create.  Create.

Anytime you write something, you go through so many phases. You go through the ‘I’m a Fraud’ phase. You go through the ‘I’ll Never Finish’ phase. And every once in a while you think, ‘What if I actually have created what I set out to create, and it’s received as such?’
– Lin Manuel Miranda

And so, the vulnerability shakes set in…


As you may know, I’ve been fully immersed in process in the last month or so- working on my book presentation for my agent to shop around, and I have LOVED the process, trying to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s.  Exciting to be at the next stage.  Ready to share.  So ready.  But let’s be honest- there is still a safety in the preparation.  The not quite ready for prime time mode.  The holding back to get it right.

Safety because it is still just mine.

And I’ve been enjoying working full days in my PJ’s and torn cardigan and worn out socks, wearing a scarf made by a dear friend, counting “pennies” (nickels now I guess), eating “poverty sandwiches” (which are very tasty, by the way- rye bread from No Frills, toasted, with No Name mayo, Spike spice and a generous topping of spinach leaves).

But the time had to come.

Shit or get off the pot.  So finally releasing the private presentation, sharing with a particular list of people for feedback, has been liberating and exhilarating.  But there it is… UGH… the old vulnerability hangover, as Brené Brown calls it.

The shakes.

What does it look like from in here?

Do this for me- wrap yourself completely in a blanket, preferably in a room with a window, preferably daytime, so it’s bright out.  Huddle in a sitting position or lie down- now just expose one eye.  Look to the light.


Look out at the world from this place.  Listen to the loud beating of your heart and feel the acidic pit in your lower abdomen.  The endless self-attacks and doubt.  That’s pretty much me right now- or my frame of mind at least.  Oh yes, I know, I know, I KNOW that

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. – Sylvia Plath

I have done so much self-work, and gathered so much support around me, yet the racing mind is back.  Oh my God, what have I done?   The what-if questions.  The fear of failure.

Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound. – William Goldman

So what has happened since I started sharing the presentation?

The feedback has been incredibly positive.  Wow.


And I’ve tried to share with a wide variety of reader types.  And I’ve received some great and valuable suggestions, which I am working on today.  And I have the greatest support from my agent.

But I want to be real about this feeling.  It is SCARY.

It’s the life of the artist.  Or just simply the human condition, I suppose.

I’ve got to take my own hand and pull myself out of this, if I truly want it.

Do I want this?  All that lies ahead- even if what lies ahead is HUGE AND GREAT?!  


I look to my guides.  What are they saying, experiencing?

Aligning with this cosmic energy and really feeling my vulnerability and frailty. Embracing it and being clear for it so I can properly navigate it and not cause any added self suffering is challenging but I’m determined to ride this spiral wave into the depths of my own insecurities and come out with a renewed perspective centered on gratitude and a deeper sense of self love. I know there is a divine reason for being this empathically sensitive to everything around me. Sending love out to anyone being challenged right now with loneliness or feelings of unworthiness and to anyone being tempted by old cycles that don’t serve their highest selves. We really are in this together, all connected, all one, so I know I’m not alone when I feel this way. Blessings to us all. Faith, love, community, and courage will get us through this! Through anything! One love! – Terry Tsipouras, November 29, 2015

Ah, Terry.  Ok- that makes me feel understood!  Terry Tsipouras always posts the most soul-touching wisdom just when I need it the most. Deep gratitude for this magical human being!


So I take off the blanket:


Gather the affirmations!

If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  – Vincent van Gogh

I look to the birds!  The herons are back on the roofs on neighboring buildings.


Head high!  Invite it in!  Be ready!  Enjoy!


INNER CRITIC series part 1 of 6: RANT! #journalexercise

I have visited and revisited the inner critic here on my blog again and again.  The inner critic is a good friend of mine.  And also a pain in the ass.



But the inner critic is always worth a revisit.  I’ve been mulling over this particular journaling series and weighing what it is I’d like to share with you and why.  And to do it in a new way.  So I have broken the series into 6 parts:







Each exercise starts with ajournal entry and/or mindmap.  Then we look at the emotions that come up as we share openly.  I encourage you to experiment by sharing your thoughts in the comments here.  Share your rants and judgements.  Judge me freely; judge yourself.  It’s all good.  Let’s demystify.  Let’s take off the mask.  Let’s remove the hesitation.


INNER CRITIC series part 1 of 6: RANT:

As always I share myself here freely.  This was a rant I wrote on the weekend.  I was going to delete it.  Was going to cross it out.  But instead, in the spirit of allowing me to VOICE what churns inside, I will share it.  Then in the spirit of this exercise, I will share the emotions that come up for me.



MY JOURNAL ENTRY (unedited):

Do we always need to let go?  To trust the universe?  I’m kind of sick of it, honestly.  All this accepting, trusting, allowing.

Yet I am also tired of fighting for what I am worth and tired of trying again.  Tired of the signals that want to prove to me I am incapable.  Tired of talking.  Tired of digging deep.

Tired of this:

“Here’s another idea.  Let’s try this.  Oh, it didn’t work?  That’s OK.  Let it go.  You tried too hard.  Let it unfold.”


Why does a watched pot never boil?  BOIL DAMMIT.

Or maybe this all means, I actually haven’t dug deep enough.  Tried enough.  I’ve been digging.  I’ve been trying.  But maybe I’ve been too much of a pussy.  Maybe  I have no idea how to let go. Maybe I don’t really believe I am worth more than $1800/month.   Asch.  BLAH BLAH BLAH.

In 2015, I want to MAKE MONEY.  I want to be able to say- wow- I deserve this for I believe I am worth this and my bank account reflects that.  

I don’t want my current salary to be the proving of my theorem that I am incapable of being paid more.  I don’t want to depend on my kids.  I don’t want to check the mail box anymore for hopes of scraps.  I no longer want to be proven that “you know, really, creative arts and youth work don’t deserve to receive more- yeah… you do great things, but isn’t the goodness of it the real reward?”  I don’t want to hear about budgets and lack there of.  I don’t want accolades for work well done while still having my heart in my throat about not being able to pay the rent.

I don’t want to chase.  I want it to come to me.  I don’t want to ask.  I want to receive!

I KNOW WE ALL STRUGGLE.  I don’t want anyone to struggle.  I know the world is a beautiful and horrifying place.

Yet, stop.  

I remember to breathe.  To pat myself on the back for journaling it out.  To remind myself to trust, allow, expand…

Ah, fuck it.  What do I know?

I look around and am reminded of my beautiful, messy creative life.  I savour it.  You know, I love that I am a messy creative that struggles.  I love that I affect people positively as they awaken to their own possibilities.

I wouldn’t change anything about the journey that brings me to this moment.

OK, breathe.  I am grateful.  But I’ll just go check the mailbox one more time.



• Self-blame

• Shame

• Anger

• Laughter

• Empowerment

• Embarrassment


You are worth of love and belonging.
You are worth of love and belonging.


When I struggle with Critique vs. Criticism, it’s time for Critical Thinking

[Images from quote books from my art shows in the early 90’s]

Ah, the artist dilemma.  Or really, the human condition.   The struggle with taking critique but not treating it as criticism.  Juggling the constructive and the destructive.  Be it from friends, family, community, clients… mainly OURSELVES!  By slowing down and pulling out some tools, we can change our perspective and thought patterns and take it as a chance to grow internally.

From Writing Alone, Writing Together; A Guide for Writers and Writing Groups by Judy Reeves: The Difference between Critique and Criticism:

  • Criticism finds fault/Critique looks at structure
  • Criticism looks for what’s lacking/Critique finds what’s working
  • Criticism condemns what it doesn’t understand/Critique asks for clarification
  • Criticism is spoken with a cruel wit and sarcastic tongue/Critique’s voice is kind, honest, and objective
  • Criticism is negative/Critique is positive (even about what isn’t working)
  • Criticism is vague and general/Critique is concrete and specific
  • Criticism has no sense of humor/Critique insists on laughter, too
  • Criticism looks for flaws in the writer as well as the writing/Critique addresses only what is on the page

Critical thinking…the awakening of the intellect to the study of itself.

From Brief Conceptualization of Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way.  People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathically.   They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked.  They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies.  They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers – concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking.  They work diligently to develop the intellectual virtues of intellectual integrity, intellectual humility, intellectual civility, intellectual empathy, intellectual sense of justice and confidence in reason.  They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest.  They strive to improve the world in whatever ways they can and contribute to a more rational, civilized society.   At the same time, they recognize the complexities often inherent in doing so.  They avoid thinking simplistically about complicated issues and strive to appropriately consider the rights and needs of relevant others.  They recognize the complexities in developing as thinkers, and commit themselves to life-long practice toward self-improvement.  ~ Linda Elder

The unexamined life is not worth living

“What other people think of me is none of my business.” -Wayne Dyer

Part 26 daily journal workshop. PERFECTIONISM. #arttherapy

Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis. – Brené Brown

Struggling with the need to be perfect = my life.

How about you?

Write about your relationship with PERFECTIONISM.

Now give a gift to yourself by drawing something you simply feel like drawing. Just to relax. I get triggered by writing about perfectionism, worth etc. For me, I find comfort in copying from Lynda Barry and Daniel Clowes.

Now research someone in the arts who epitomizes vulnerabilty and the need to be perfect. Find some quotes by or about them.

I chose Diane Arbus.

By doing this (or any of my )exercise(s), you make yourself vulnerable.


I recommend this incredible 20 minute talk:

Dr. Brené Brown is a researcher professor at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, where she has spent the past ten years studying a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness, posing the questions:

How do we engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness?

How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to embrace our imperfections and to recognize that we are enough — that we are worthy of love, belonging and joy?

Brené is the author of I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power (2007) and The Gifts of Imperfection (2010) and the upcoming Wholehearted: Spiritual Adventures in Falling Apart, Growing Up, and Finding Joy ( 2011).

Daily Journal Workshop:

For links to Parts 1-25 go to: JOURNAL 1-25