thinking thursday

Thinking Thursday: Dealing with Disappointment


Although I have several major projects going on, the New Year has started out with a major disappointment — one that hit me pretty hard. I haven’t said anything until now, but a class that I was scheduled to teach at the renown John C. Campbell Folk School next week has been cancelled due to low registration. The class just didn’t get enough sign ups to run.

I was super excited a year ago when I got the class accepted, and has been a dream of mine to teach there. Over the past few months, I started to really look forward to the trek down to western North Carolina and spending five days diving deep into some sacred work. It was a bit of a let down to receive the news, especially since I had two other workshops cancelled last spring for the same reason at other venues. It was definitely a bit of a blow, and it left me kind of questioning and second guessing myself as I wondered if I was on the right path.

But I’m trying to see the silver lining — trying to turn the negative into a positive. When the classes were cancelled back in the spring, it allowed me to focus more on getting my studio and artwork ready for a big studio tour that I was a part of. It gave me added time to make the stour tour a big success, and I’m trying to see this latest disappointment in a similar light — as an opportunity to focus my energy elsewhere. I think the universe is trying to tell me that it’s not the right time, and that there’s something else, perhaps something bigger, that I need to do right now.

In many ways, I think that I just haven’t connected with people. I’ve always been a very socially awkward in person, and I think I’m doubly so online. But for the past month or so, I’ve been making a concerted effort to reach out and to connect in a variety of ways, and I think that’s where my energies need to go. I’m looking at this disappointment as an opportunity to reassess what I want and what I need, and to offer up more of myself and to connect in much deeper ways.

So, a big thank you to anyone who has been a longtime supporter — who has been around since the beginning of this journey, and a big thank you to anyone who I have connected with recently. I feel a sense of growing support — of a growing community. I feel the tide shifting. To use a term from my dear friend Erin Keane, I see a sea change coming!

Here’s to finding the positive, shifting energies, listening to the universe, and creating a sea change!

Thinking Thursday: My Story


I think that I take it for granted that people just know my story. I’ve been blogging since 2007, and I’ve been on Facebook since 2008, so it’s easy to forget that there are people that are just now discovering what I do, and they may not know who I am or where I come from.

So I wanted to take sometime as this New Year begins to reintroduce myself and share my story.

In the most concise way, my story is that I am an artist, writer, and educator that believes that everyone is creative, and I am on a mission to help people reconnect with their creativity. Now a lot of people will argue that they don’t have an ounce of creativity, but that’s just not true. It might be buried. It might be closed off. It might be locked away, but like writer Patti Digh would say, if you are human, you are creative.

Why do I believe that? I don’t believe it, I know it. I have been making art for more than 40 years, and I’ve been teaching for more than 20. I feel that I’ve learned a thing or two about creativity in all of that time. I have always loved art. I drew and colored continually as a child, and I pursued it and went to school for it. I taught art for 20 years in the public schools of Maryland and Virginia. In 2016 I stepped away from public school teaching, but I continue to teach at retreats and workshops across the US. I also manage and teach at a local art center in Round Hill, Virginia. I continue to make my own art, and I draw, paint, sculpt, and work in a visual journal. I have spent my life exploring my own creativity, and figuring how to help others be more creative.

Now creativity isn’t just an art thing, it’s a human thing, and you don’t have to want to make art to be creative. As Sir Ken Robinson says, creativity is about coming up with something new that has value. Creativity stretches across all human endeavors. Without creativity, we wouldn’t have landed on the moon, and we wouldn’t have the internet, and we wouldn’t have the music, the movies, the clothes that we love. We always have problems to solve, things to figure out, and lives to make the best of. This all takes creativity. As a visual artist, I approach creativity from that direction, but we are all creative.

When I first got into teaching, I thought that I wanted to teach my students about art, but as the years went on, I found out that, yes I was teaching them about artists, materials, and techniques, but more importantly, I was teaching them how to connect with their creativity. I’ve worked with thousands and thousands of children and adults, and I am always blown away by the things they can come up with when they can let down their defenses and create from an authentic place.

This notion is why I don’t teach projects — why I don’t craft recipes for people to follow to make the things that I make. I’d much rather share ideas and techniques, and help students find their own voice and create the work that is meaningful to them. This philosophy led to the two books that I coauthored with David Modler, The Journal Junkies Workshop and Journal Fodder 365. In these books, we share ideas, concepts, materials, and concepts, but never tell people to make and create certain things. In everything that I do, I want to help people realize that they are truly creative individuals capable of creating meaningful lives.


Of course, I’ve left out a whole lot of details, but I’m not setting out to write a memoir, just to set the stage for my story. And I hope that I can help you to reconnect with your creativity and inspire you to create the meaning that you seek!