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A Rumi of Her Own

I’m happy to have another essay up at Perceptive Travel! This one is called A Rumi of Her Own and was inspired by a trip to Sayulita, Mexico a few springs ago. I stayed in a villa named for a love poem…and on the floor named for the poet Rumi. Since some of the photos are already published with the essay, here are a couple of watercolors I painted in Villa Poema de Amor. Enjoy the essay!

Wings: Gifts of Art, Life, and Travel in France

This month, a beautiful book was born. It was a debut of double happiness; my dear friend, Erin Byrne, wrote the book, and I had the honor of illustrating it. I am most pleased to announce it here!

WINGS: Gifts of Art, Life and Travel in France(Travelers Tales) is a collection of essays drawn from Byrne’s travels across the country. From Cézanne’s studio in Aix-en-Provence to a tiny village in the Jura Mountains, from a traditional bistro on the Left Bank of Paris to a plain high above the Normandy beaches, she travels through France collecting stories, characters, tastes and secrets that act as ingredients for change, then takes those experiences and digs deeper to uncover meaning.

Alan Riding wrote: “To join Erin on her travels is to see France through the eyes of an ever-curious and affectionate friend.” ‘Tis true, and so I’m also pleased to introduce the author, “irresistible bon vivant,” Erin Byrne:

Erin Byrne writes travel essays, poetry, fiction, and screenplays. Her work has won numerous awards including three Grand Prize Solas Awards for Travel Story of the Year, the Reader’s Favorite Award, Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalist, and an Accolade Award for film.
Erin is author of Wings: Gifts of Art, Life, and Travel in France (Travelers’ Tales, 2016), editor of Vignettes & Postcards From Paris and Vignettes & Postcards From Morocco (Reputation Books, 2016), and writer of The Storykeeper film. 
Erin is occasional guest instructor at Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris and on Deep Travel trips.  Her screenplay, Siesta, is in pre-production in Spain, and she is working on the novel, The Red Notebook. 

* * *

We hope you’ll enjoy the stories and images. You can find Erin’s book on Amazon and the illustrations at my gallery…like these: 

Ceiling of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, from the story “Reconnaissance” 

The Red Typewriter, from the story “Dear Madame Renaud”

Les Éditeurs, from the story “French Connections”  

Eyes of the Heart: Prophetic Art Workshop

Back by request! The Eyes of the Heart prophetic art workshop returns to the Rogue Valley on February 27th. Want to get activated in your creativity? Want to know more about prophetic art? Join us! 
This workshop explores the history, contemporary practice, and hands-on creation of prophetic art. Whether you draw stick figures or professional portraits—or work in a non-visual media entirely—this workshop will help release you into greater creativity as you align with the Creator’s heart. 
When: Saturday, 27 February 2016. Registration: 9:00-9:30. Workshop: 9:30-4:30
Where: LivingWaters, 2200 Roberts Road, Medford OR
Cost: Special rate of $35 per person (and a percentage of the workshop proceeds will go to the Anthem students of Living Waters).

How to Register: Online via PayPal: and be sure to include your email address and the date of the workshop you’re registering for. For more information, email: [email protected]

No Other

The Great Wall of China, painting (study) by Anna Elkins, originally published with her essay at Perceptive Travel, Beyond the Fear of Other in China
Happy to have my first essay up on Perceptive Travel: “Beyond the Fear of Other in China” (originally titled “No Other”). And happy to have this sketch of The Great Wall included!

Happy New…Project!

I have always created with art + word + spirit….I just didn’t know that one day they would add up to prophetic art.

Prophetic art is about hearing God and creatively sharing His love for others. This can be through painting, writing, dance. It can be through words of encouragement jotted on restaurant napkins or drawings on window frost—anything that calls out the best in others. Anything that brings heaven to earth in a creative way.

I had already earned degrees in writing and art—and had taught both subjects—when I heard about prophetic art in my early 30s. I knew I had to discover more. So I left a teaching job on a tropical island and returned to the States to be a student again. As I studied, I started to dream about what it would look like for prophetic art to be part of that great exhortation: “on earth as it is in heaven.”

I spent several years practicing and teaching prophetic art. I eventually created my own prophetic art workshop (you can find that “Eyes of the Heart” workshop on my website But just recently, I realized there was something missing: a resource for people to learn about this kind of art. Each month, about 1,000 people search for prophetic art online via one search engine alone. But the search results yield mostly personal artists’ web pages and sub pages on sites of bigger organizations. No page devoted solely to sharing prophetic art resources existed. Until now. 

Someone once said that if you can accomplish your dreams on your own, you’re not dreaming big enough. Well, I am embarking on a big dream…or the first part of one! I have created a website called PropehticArt: Bringing Heaven to E(art)h. It’s a resource page for prophetic arts. My goal is to share what I’ve already discovered and to continually add new resources as I find them.

I began the website thinking it would be a nice little project I could do myself. Turns out, this dream is bigger than I thought. That’s where you come in; for the site to be truly helpful, it needs your help.

With more content, PropheticArt.Infocan become more useful. When you visit the page, you’ll see that I still need to add plenty of resources in some of the menus. Gathering and researching that content takes time. For example: I only suggest books that I’ve read, and though I’ve read a lot, I have a lot more to read. Also, my creative strengths are in two-dimensional arts and writing, but I hope to add more resources for prophetic music and movement (dance)—among other things. I also want to connect in person with people and groups who are creating prophetic art: for this project to be a community builder. 

I chose the Patreon crowdfunding platform because it’s more like a tip jar. Instead of paying for a project at the end of a campaign, you essentially tip for work I’m already doing—and will continue to do.

I’ve seen the power of prophetic art in action around the world, and I believe this project will be of value to many.  

You can help prophetic art grow by becoming a patron for this project. Check out the campaign here:

Happy creativity to all! 

P.S. To learn a bit more about prophetic art, here’s an article I wrote for CFN’s The Voice.) 

In a Fix: The Danger of Renovation Relationships

When I was younger, I entertained a romantic illusion about buying a fixer-upper house and restoring it with the man of my dreams. No turnkey ease for us! We would steam away wallpaper, scrape carpet from hardwood floors, and paint the walls—tenderly wiping the paint splotches off of each other’s noses.
And then I grew up.
Well, partly. I nixed the idea of fixing up the house—I get a crick in my neck when I even think of repainting walls. Problem was, I shifted the idea to the realm of relationships; I thought I could find a fixer-upper man and transform him into flower-boxed, picket-fenced realtor candy. I would help him achieve my—er—hisdreams for himself. How marvelous of me!
Strangely enough, the men I dated also tried to fix me. Imagine! In fact, the main relationship of my 20s was a doomed, mutual renovation attempt:
Hethought he needed more money to make me happy. I thought I needed hishappiness to be happy.
He would have liked me thinner. I would have liked him to build a bit more muscle.
Hewanted me to look better in photographs. Iwanted him to be as kind as he lookedin photographs.
Thatreal estate bubble burst long before 2008.
We couldn’t renovate each other, but more importantly, neither of us had bothered to renovate ourselves. I am so grateful for that messy relationship because of what it taught me.
Now, on the brink of forty, I know that I don’t want a partnership built around constant trips to the relationship equivalent of Home Depot. With someone or without, life throws us enough hail damage, burst water pipes, and busted heating units (literally and figuratively). I want any improvement adventures to be the exception, not the rule. As much as possible, I want to be turnkey. I want the man I share my life with to be turnkey, too.
In short: I’ve done my work, and I’m looking for a man who’s done the same.
Still, I’m single. Thoroughly. Not even a whiff of “it’s complicated.” I enjoy my life, and I want to share it with someone. So last year, I succumbed to friends’ suggestions that I re-enter the world of online dating.
“Fine,” I said. Years before, I had tried, but I cancelled an account after glancing up at the “mail” button one night and—in a brief second—mistaking it for “mall.” I panicked that I would start to treat this search like shopping.
This time around, I tried another site. I dutifully uploaded photos and filled in the little boxes. In the field asking, “What are you looking for in a partner?” I listed several qualities that work both ways—like cultivating joy despite circumstances and communicating openly.
But reading the profiles of my “matches”—at least the ones who’ve taken the time to fill out their own little boxes—I am amazed at how few of these dear souls seem to have done their own work.
*Clarification before I proceed: I like men…I’m looking for one. I’m not bashing them here—they just happen to be the gender that I have experience searching for on dating sites. I am confident that plenty of women do the same things I mention…probably because I have done/thought some of them myself. With the exception of the photo-op.
When choosing traits they are looking for in a partner, many prospective matches opt for words like good listener and sympathetic. I have a theory that these are often “Fix Me” traits in disguise—a desire for external renovation instead of internal. Such words are the relationship real estate equivalent of: unfinished garage and undeveloped lot with potential. What these matches are usually saying is: “Yeah, I haven’t fixed parts of myself yet. I’m going to need someone to help me do it or…hey! You want to do it for me?”
No. Really, I don’t. And you shouldn’t want me to.   
When I do happen to find a potential match, or at least one who ran spell check, we usually move to the Q & A section. But…when selecting a round of questions to ask a prospective mate, many matches choose questions from the drop-down menu like: “If I came home tired from a long day at work, what would you do for me?” Again: “Fix me” alert.
On the site I’m using, you can also write your own questions. So I do. I ask things like: “What are the dreams you are working toward in your life?” That usually kills the conversation. In fact, it just did again last week. It fascinates me that few to none of my matches—or near matches—within a twenty-year age spectrum or from any country on earth (the search settings I chose)—is building their own “dream house.” They either want someone to build and/or renovate it for them, or they want to step right in to someone else’s.
(And one man out there apparently wants to attract a mate who’s interested in a photo of himself with his head sandwiched between a woman’s thighs. That’s not exactly the kind of dreaming I’m referring to.)
One match, a defense contractor, did seem promising. He’d filled out his profile with panache and wisdom, asked and answered meaningful questions, and sent me a Valentine’s email from Afghanistan. But after replying, I never heard from him again. Obviously, I still have some of my own work to do because I couldn’t help but wonder: was he killed in combat? That would be a terrible reason for the silence, and the more likely one is straight-up rejection. Of course, I hope it was just rejection….
Oh, humanity.
I’ve been thinking about turnkey in the context of relationships for years. But I only just looked up the word. According to Merriam Webster, turnkey’s primary definition is “one who has charge of a prison’s keys.” Hmmm. The second definition is an adjective meaning “complete and ready to be used.” Also, hmmm.
I am saddened by how many of us choose to sit in the fix’er-upper (or fix‘imupper) of our lives with the Home Improvement Channel cranked up to full volume and the roof about to fall in. If we do hear the sound of a key turning in the front door (Aha, There is my soul mate! Finally!), we often mistake it for 1) the warden coming to release us from our drafty, self-made “prison,” or 2) the arrival of one who is ready to use us—or someone we’re ready to use. Unhealthy dynamics whatever way you tilt the miniblinds.
I’ve observed something in successful relationships that have lasted twenty-, thirty-, forty-plus years; those partners know how to share their lives. But they share from their own wholeness—not trying to take from the other what they need or trying to give to the other what that person lacks. They each do their own work, and then they work together to build something even greater together.  
It has taken me several continents, years, and online dating sites to be able to propose a third definition of turnkey as it would apply to relationships: “Complete and ready to share.” So I am adding “good sharer” to the mutual list of traits I seek in a partner. And I’m practicing it here by sharing this essay.
Meanwhile, I keep my life ready to share with someone. I continue to enjoy the things I’ve fixed and to fix the things I haven’t—in myself, no one else. I don’t expect perfection, and I’m hardly perfect: the door to my heart can stick and requires a bit of a push. The ventilation system of my attitude can short out and needs occasional service to let in the fresh air of perspective. But I know how to get such things back in working order myself. Even more importantly, I’ve gone down to my soul foundations, made sure that the load-bearing values are built with integrity, and painted this entire structure in the color palette of joy-despite-circumstance. The furnishings aren’t bad, either.
“Charming and quirky” would be suitable descriptors for my real estate listing—I mean online dating profile.
And if my future partner does come home from a long, hard day at work, I’d love to make him his favorite dinner. Among other things. But I’ll do it from a place of completeness—not fixing or being used.

Turnkey woman is ready to share her life with turnkey man.

The If of Paris

I wrote this poem about two months ago. I had forgotten about it until I returned from Paris and was organizing poetry this morning. I didn’t change a thing, but I liked reading the last line aloud without the “if.” 

The If of Paris 

If you spoke my name
If I gave you roses
If you built me palaces
If the table is set for two
If the table is set for two million
If your markets sell delight
If I wore this dress to walk with you
If you sing in a choir
If I sang from your hills
If we danced to your river
If we need love more than water
If we remember our history
If this day ends
If it begins

If there is light

Orange Trees, Zellij tiles, and Tangines

The Deep Travel Workshop is about to begin! I’m looking forward to exhibiting some of my travel sketches of Morocco at the legendary Cafe Clock Marakech next week. If you want to see the virtual version (or order prints), check out my gallery for Travel Vignettes Morocco. Here’s a glimpse: 

The Elements of Southern Oregon: An Art Exhibit

I am in love with Southern Oregon in general, and Jacksonville in particular. The art in this exhibit portrays elements of our region—both natural and man-made.
There’s nature: I walk the Jacksonville Woodlands almost every day when I’m in town. The Manzanita, the oak, the pine—all have become like neighbors. Each time I walk a trail, I notice a new detail: the vein of a leaf, the spread of a petal. These paintings celebrate such details. Heres a sampling: 

“Acorn Falls,” 12 x 12, Acrylic & Charcoal on Canvas

“Milkweed Sings” 12 x 12, Acrylic & Charcoal on Canvas

“Thistle Dreams,” 12 x 12, Acrylic & Charcoal on Canvas

There’s the man-made: I often sketch places and spaces I enjoy in our region—from coffee shops to vineyards. These vignettes capture an element, too: a flower pot, a sun umbrella, a window. I like to use quick sketches to highlight everyday surroundings. Heres a peak at a few of those watercolors: Lucky & thunder at Applegate Lake (a man-made reservoir), under the umbrella at Pony Espresso, and overlooking Dancing vineyards….

And Ill also be showing other paintings I have created in Southern Oregon that don’t necessarily portray its subject matter. But since they were “born” here, they, too, are elements of this region I’m happy to call home.

The art reception will be held on Thursday, 8 October, from 4:30-6:30. The show runs through the January 6. 

Pioneer Village
805 North Fifth Street
Jacksonville, OR 97530 

Sol y Sola

Find this and other sketches of Chile here
I meet the friend of a friend in Santiago.
The woman I do know explains in Spanish
to the one I don’t: “She’s traveling alone.”
With my limited bit of the language, I catch this.
The she is me.
The friend looks at me, eyes wide. “¿Sola?”
I catch thislike a stone.
I’ve traveled several continents alone.
Going solo is my go to. 
But in this gendered language,
the feminine alonesounds beautiful
and final—a label I didn’t know I wore.
I smile and nod. “Sola.”
Two days later, my friend flies away,
and I’m truly alone. A dense, urban haze
smothers the sun, el sol.
Sol, solo—do they share a story, a history?
I pull my coat close and look at the
white sky. I take the bus to a city named
for paradise, but the sun stays
hidden behind coastal clouds.
I step into a small restaurant.
“¿Sola?” asks the waiter.
I smile and nod. “Sola.”
He leads me to a turquoise table by the window.
I sit in the light of two candles and sip wine
until one waxen light burns out
and the other is sola.
If the word for candle in Spanish is feminine.
If I can remember the word for together.
If there is clarity in alone.
If I bring my own light with me.
If I will dream of sun.
Next morning, I wake before the birds.
When dawn stretches
up the hill, the day expands with light.
The sol rises solo
brightening every building
every person walking by,
every dog barking.
I smile and nod.
I remember the word
for together.