Help a teacher, artist, mom save her home

10356146_10154457712820532_9051581794283326954_nI’m shouting out for an artist friend who’s in a tough spot, and really needs help to save her home. 

Meet Rana Raeuchle , teacher, artist and mother, currently working in South Korea. Her son Allen, now grown,  keeps the home fires burning until Rana completes her contract later this year.

 

Long story short:

Young artist and mother, left by husband, gets education and raises her son, working as an artist and educator. To help out, Rana’s mother eventually acquires  a modest house and rents it to them. Then, Mom gets cancer and goes through several years of terrible and fatal illness. Due to unforeseeable problems with wills and lawyers, the house does not, as planned, convey to Rana. 

lc4900445-w0xd-w640_h480_q80For all these years Rana has paid rent, and more recently the mortgage. But with probate complete, the bank is forcing a sale since Rana is not the original mortgage holder, nor the official heir. Despite Rana’s diligent work history but admittedly low-income, her efforts to procure a loan to cover this amount have proved fruitless. Now the clock is ticking, and a solution is needed by the end of the month.

The amount  required to purchase this house is only $45,000.

I want you to help Rana & Allen keep their house.  

  • You could donate: GO HERE to donate to her GoFundMe
  • You can donate to Paypal HERE
  • You could promote this to social media far and wide
  • You could buy the house and rent it back to her
  • You could provide a private mortgage
  • You could come up with some other creative way to help out!!

Artwork by Rana

 

Artist Profile: Terry St. Cloud & Bone Sigh Arts

terriDid you ever go through a dark night of the soul, and reach deep into yourself and find hope or strength from something a friend shared, or a beautiful memory? Well, that feeling of relief that you get at a moment like that, THAT is a Bone Sigh.

A long time ago (at Artomatic 2003) I wandered into a little room filled with tiny watercolors that exploded with color and were inscribed with expressions of deep feeling. They were unlike anything I had ever seen before.  They were the work of Terry St. Cloud, an amazing woman who generates a great deal of love and light in this world, whom I am honored to know as a neighbor and friend.

These days, Terry runs Bone Sigh Arts, her successful company that provides gifts, greeting cards, books, and hosts an amazing community. Terry manifested this beautiful business from her own love and determination to honor herself and her creativity as she raised her three boys, now grown and in business for themselves.

Terri has written quite a few inspirational books

When you need a beautiful card or gift, want to lift someone’s spirits, read inspiring ideas and stories, or share your own, please head to Bone Sigh Arts to a unique and magical world that is only possible because of this talented and determined woman.

 

New Year, New Themes

artists-at-workLast year I wrote for Blogging for Mental Health 2014, and other themes emerged, capturing my interest. For 2015 I’m declaring a more specific intention: to honor my title: Art•Spirit•Nature more specifically, in the following ways:

ART: I really want to feature profiles of the amazing creative people I know. And, show you the creative work I’m doing. So that I do it! And talk about art, that speaks about spirit, and nature.

enlightenmentSPIRIT: My wish is to share the life of the spirit with everyone, to cross the lines that labels draw around us. Pan-religious, I love rituals and prayers and teachings of many faiths, perhaps for their intent: to draw us closer to God and each other. This category will also deal with mental health and social issues.

human stem cells viewed through electron microscope

NATURE: My primary theme here is the everyday miracles around us and the science behind them. Ignorance of science is an issue that frightens me more than anything, for the amazing capabilities of human beings without the wisdom of knowledge and awareness is a profoundly dangerous thing. So stay tuned – I may rhapsodize, but I also may rant!

TELL ME: What would you like to see on this blog?

Gender Swapped characters in Fanart

In celebration of our evolving idea of gender as fluid, I offer these colorful, creative, amusing, at times maybe disturbing renderings of beloved characters as you might have seen them, in a different world!

This is just a taste – follow the link at the end to the total collection.

Notice the conspicuous absence of males

 

I love this Moriarty!

 

SheHulk

CLICK for all the Avengers by Circusmayer at deviantart.com

 

isn’t he adorable?

For the complete article with dozens of examples, CLICK here.

Darkbeach

Walk the Beach on a Moonless Night

 

On the beach at ebb tide, in this moment of darkness, there is no moon and no fanfare. Look into the wet sand as the wave retreats. In the starlight, watch the water drain from around each tiny grain as the sea runs back into herself. Notice the stars reflected in the wet sand, a light you would never see at a brighter time.

Ask yourself:
What else might I not be seeing?
What other lights are within me?

 

photo credit: ‘The beach at Tjørnuvík, Faroe Islands’ cc 2008. by Hans Juul Hansen

I Give Thanks for the Sea

Have some images from my writing retreat at Ocean City Maryland, from Thanksgiving and the following weekend. There is nothing quite as beautiful as the edge of the world, all water and light.

click on any photo to enlarge, you’ll get a slide show view

Suicide and Altitude

BLOG FOR MENTAL HEALTH 2014

I came across this article about neuroscientist Perry Renshaw’s research into what he calls the “Utah Paradox.”

Neuroscientist Perry Renshaw

Despite ranking as America’s happiest state, Utah has disproportionately high rates of suicide and associated mood disorders compared to the rest of the country. In fact, it’s the No. 1 state for antidepressant use.

I was intrigued, since I’ve known for years that a higher, drier clime has the power to make me feel remarkably happier, when I arrive from the sea level humidity where I live.

So I was intrigued, then argumentative, then baffled, then amazed as Brain Mic editor Theresa Fisher dove into the neuro-chemistry and the geo-demography (two of my favorite subjects!!) to identify the experience that I have: I lifelong depressive who feels uplift and well being from altitude.

The working theory is that high altitude hypoxia reduces seratonin but stimulates dopamine. Since I know from a major medication adjustment about 5 years ago that SSRIs alone don’t manage my depression, that helps explain my joy at altitude. Of course more sunlight and spectacular vistas certainly don’t hurt!

Where we live has so much to do with who we are, and how we feel. If you have climate or geography related experiences with your mental health, please tell us about them.

A Sea of Red

I didn’t expect to blog about Veteran’s Day

or Armistice Day, or the 100th anniversary of the War to End All Wars, but the devastatingly beautiful installation “Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red” at  the Tower of London unexpectedly moved me to tears.

Artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper created the commemoration, composed of 888,246 individually made red ceramic poppies, each representing a single fatality from the British & colonial forces in World War 1.

One cool and blustery day in November of 2004, just after the re-election of George W Bush, I was in London. I wore a button that read “I did not vote for him.”  Being a lefty all my life, I had quite recently campaigned for Kerry, and had vigorously protested our going to war with Iraq.

As I approached St. Paul’s cathedral an older man in antique uniform approached me with a paper poppy. I gladly exchanged it for a 2£ coin, and when I thanked him he exclaimed: “Oh, you’re a Yank!! We love you Americans. Thank you for all that you did. We love you!” and there were tears in his eyes, and my own.

Power speaks the truth

This installation vividly illustrates the grief and horror of war, and greatly honors the bravery, sacrifice and commitment of veterans and the families who lost them. The visual power of that monumental wash of red, surrounding the Bloody Tower itself, feels like a truth-telling. One we have all needed for some time.

Embracing the Dark Side

I was en route to the bank when had to pull over and send a tweet to the Kojo Namdi Show when I heard what today’s guest, Todd Kashdan, had to say.

At first I thought it was a strange show topic – a guy against positive thinking! But then I realized where he was going with it.  Kashdan is the Director of the Laboratory for the Study of Social Anxiety, Character Strengths, and Related Phenomena at George Mason University, was there to discuss his new book, The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self–Not Just Your “Good” Self–Drives Success and Fulfillment.

The book takes on the pop culture trend of positivity and challenges the way it reinforces our habit of denying the truth of our painful experiences.

The key is in the title– be your whole self, not just your good self, and it brought to mind my remarkable journey through pop culture fandom that has done so much to help heal my creative blocks. (unfortunately it has not healed my tendency to tweet before spellchecking.)

I was socialized in the 50’s as a nicey-nice girl, a role where there was no room for loud or angry. The more life piled experiences on me, which of course included pain and anger, there was no outlet for that energy. If these experiences are always negative expressions, they have no way to exist without creating more shame and disappointment.

If we hide away more and more of our true experience of life, we inevitably become less and less authentic. Less real, even to ourselves. There are many versions of this in our mainstream culture – ‘John Wayne’ who can do everything on his own and never sheds a tear, that ‘Nicey-nice’ woman who never loses her temper, ‘Pollyanna’ who is always looking on the bright side.

I’m still very much a work in progress. It took until my 50s for me to truly embrace the inner Dark, to begin the dance with my Shadow and accept it as an integral and essential part of me.  I have become more prickly, less polite in recent years, it’s true. And the world has not ended. I have stood on my priorities, not someone else’s. I appreciate myself so much more as a result.

Do my friends? Hmmm, you’ll have to ask them. I might be a little more difficult to live with!

Day of the Dead

We’re approaching that holiday best known in mainstream America for cosplay and sugar binges. For a deeper look into this sacred time of year, consider this:

Honoring Our Dead, Holding their Stories

MarieCartierforKCETa-thumb-300x448-72405Next Saturday, November 1,  is the holiday Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This is a Mexican holiday that has currency now throughout the world—but especially in California. After all, in 2014 Latinos will surpass whites in California demographics. It is prevalent at this time in Southern California to see sugar skulls decorated—to even have children make decorated sugar skulls and honor the dead. The holiday provides a focal point for a centered observance and prayer dedicated to those who have died in the past year. It is connected to the other holidays at this time, particularly Halloween where as we Wiccans often say “the walls between the worlds are thin.”
Another tradition celebrated at this time is creating an altar for loved ones—or several altars or ofrendas. The altars can hold sugar skulls, photos and artifacts of the deceased, and marigolds. Marigolds are a symbol of death and are referred to as “the flower of death.” Marigold petals might mark a path from a home to a grave in a village so that the dead can find their way back for this holiday. Marigolds make arches and decorations in and around the altars/ofrendas for the scent of the marigold is purported to draw the dead back for the Day of the Dead reunion. The holiday has its roots in indigenous Mexican holidays and continues back possibly 4,000 years to Aztec rituals honoring the goddess Mictecacihuatl, the Queen of the Underworld.Celebration at Hollywood Cemetery. Marie with sculpture at gravesite So, this holiday has its roots in feminism, goddess worship and a sharing of oral history/herstory—as well as the decorative arts, It is a perfect union of feminism and religion representing the often under-represented—those who will not, in most cases, have “official” altars built to them. It is an asking for guidance from the spirits. But, more than that it is an asking directly for guidance from our now personal guides—those who have passed before that we now hope will return and help us in the next year of our life.  …read more at feminism and religion
Author Marie Cartier lost both of her parents in the past year, so she is feeling deeply the oncoming holiday, this time for us to Dance with the Dead.  Certainly a time to celebrate ancestors, it is also a time to look at all those who have come before us, who have made our lives possible today.
Cartier honors women who came before in her recent book, Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars and Theology Before Stonewall was published last year, with the following dedication:

To all of the gay women who came before me, cleared the path for me, and walked the path with me…butch, femme, kiki, androgynous, lesbian and transgender who dared to walk into a gay women’s bar and acknowledge themselves and their community and made a community for me to walk into.
To my mother– Joanne Marie (Curtin) Cartier– a woman who came of age in the 1950s.

How do we hold the stories and honor our dead?

Tell me about your beloved dead, those who walked before you, blazed a trail, gave you comfort and strength. Whom will you honor, and how, on Dia de los Muertos?