The Painted Guru Summit

Oh how I only wish I had listened to the Painted Guru Summit sooner! Much like when I started taking formal textile and writing classes, something in me has awakened. This has been a transformative experience and I thank artist Bebe Butler for putting it together. Even people at work notice I am very exuberant.

The reason why is because the Painted Guru Summit is a free online visual art workshop that I have had an amazing time listening to for the past two weeks on the way to work. I meditate on each of the words of the participants like my own healing meditation. It reminds me why I wake up in the morning and do what I do: It is because I love it!

Each interview of the day has been delightful, like opening one present after the next. There are all kinds of visual artists: painters, people who create art journals, art quilters, photographers, etc. A good number of people have had their work exhibited in galleries. As far as violence against women is concerned, a couple of the artists have worked with women who are in crisis to help empower them by showing them how to create art.

Each one of the artists has a nugget of wisdom that can be used for any artist, no matter what their genre is. This has been the bridge for me artistically. It has picked up where my training in visual arts classes has ended. (at least for now) The workshop is making me excited to take another trip to Blicks, which is a favorite of many visual artists, most especially art quilters out there. It has also been nice to have the support of other visual artists, even if they are miles and miles away.


Happy Father’s Day 2015!

Every Father’s Day, my dad wants to do the same thing: Lunch at Champps Restaurant so he can eat and watch the game. Not unlike what he does at home. But every ten years or so, he will shock me by asking for something different. About ten years ago, he asked to attend the WNUA Sunday Morning Brunch because he loves jazz music. We enjoyed jazz and brunch.

This year was much like the WNUA year: He wanted Hamada of Japan in Tinley Park, Illinois. We all love it, but needless to say, it wasn’t Champps Restaurant. And in light of the recent Chicago Blackhawks win, it was really shocking. Still, I was delighted to oblige. To my father and all the fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day!

Hamada of Japan 1

A Mercury Retrograde Stress Reliever

Have you noticed that the past month has been full of conflicts? Changes? Strife?

This was our second mercury retrograde of the year. Mercury retrograde is a moon cycle that takes place three or even four times a year, but many people associate it with being chaotic (with good reason). There is a lot of miscommunication.  I encourage everyone to study this lunar cycle further.

People don’t talk about this enough. Many people do not even know about it, but they should. At one point, I know I didn’t. A lot of people are walking around, trying to figure out what is going on. It seems like Murphy’s Law is taking place: “Whatever could go wrong, has gone wrong and whatever hasn’t gone wrong, went wrong anyway.”

This particular mercury retrograde has been one of the most challenging retrograde periods of my life. And I wasn’t the only one.

This was the chaotic side of mercury retrograde I saw in the past month: People who lost jobs, state programs that many patients needed for their well being cut, more traffic accidents. One child I know was bitten by a dog. I had family members who were hospitalized, friends of the family who died unexpectedly. A number of people left their state (not just Illinois) to move elsewhere due to changes in their personal situations. A friend of the family planned to get married, but the marriage plans fell through. Medical equipment at work completely shut down.

Mercury retrograde can be a time of rejection. If you have been paying attention to popular media, no one is immune to say the least: relationship break ups, secrets coming out, rains and flash flooding, more incidents of violence.

Mercury retrograde is a time of review. Whatever was planned, has to be planned and prepared for all over again.

I have had to cancel my plans to take an art quilt class I have been trying to take for 5 years because my plans dramatically changed. I am trying to reschedule. My work schedule has kept changing and changing, constantly being rearranged because a higher plan is taking place, really. One person asked me, “Are you still in training?” I explained I was going to one department, but I’ve been placed in another. “That’s too much,” she said. That’s mercury retrograde I wanted to tell her, but I didn’t.

Believe it or not, it wasn’t all bad, though.

Mercury retrograde is a reflective time. I heard from people I had not talked to in months or years. Depending on your relationships, this can be a wonderful thing.

Mercury retrograde is a time to release. I had no idea that I would leave the job I have worked at for 5 years.

Mercury retrograde is a time of review. Like I said, I received new job. I have been a nurse for 15 years and I wanted this job since my third week of working as a nurse. I am learning about information that I had to know for state boards when I first became a nurse 15 years ago, but now I am going over these facts all over again.

Mercury retrograde can be a regenerative time. Some people are able to make more money in retrograde than they do at any other time. The people I knew who were able to get hired received raises.

Mercury retrograde is a creative time. I took a drawing and watercolor class in preparation for an art quilting class that I have been trying to take for 5 years. And for me, I embraced my true nature by knitting this scarf as well as hand quilting through the chaos. Mercury retrograde is lunar cycle, but textile arts will always be a constant for me no matter what.

Sewing Hope

Sewing HopeThis is another example of how art and activism unite. Sewing Hope is both a documentary and a book featuring the story of Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe of Uganda. Actor Forest Whitaker narrated the documentary. This event took place at De Paul University in Chicago. Her story has been featured in the Huffington Post, WGN News, Chicago Tonight and More Magazine.

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe came from a family of 8 children. She was the youngest. She was sworn in as a nun when she was a teenager. She also became a nurse.

Joseph Kony and his Lords of Resistance Army (LRA) terrorized Northern Uganda for 25 years. He abducted children, forced them to murder their own families and took the males as child solders.  The girls were forced into sex slavery. After impregnation, these young girls have a constant reminder of their rape and assault: the children of their tormentors to raise into adulthood.

As a direct result, Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe started a sewing school named Saint Monica’s Vocational School to teach the children how to make clothing and bottle can purses as a women’s fashion accessory. The money goes back into the school to help the students to support themselves and their families.

The purses made by the children and the book were made available to purchase. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe also did an interview after the filming of the documentary. She did not sit to watch the documentary with us stating that it was too overwhelming for her.

Strippy Scarf Number Two

This is my second strippy scarf knitted with Chelsea’s Shawl Yarn. Needless to say, it will not be a shawl. I am in a new position as of the past week, trying to keep up. This scarf has kept my nerves in check and I am hoping I can make more of them before the weather turns cold again.Strippy Scarf Number Two

The Smart Ass Cripple!

People with physical limitations have a high rate of domestic violence. There are articles written about this issue in nursing journals and magazines specifically geared for people with physical limitations. Sometimes people who are wheelchair bound have their wheelchairs taken away from them and are locked in a room for hours at a time with no assistance. People who are unable to see or hear are assaulted because they cannot see who is trying to hit them. These abuses occur with both men and women with physical limitations.

Within this post, I use the term “physical limitations” as opposed to “disabilities” because my experience has been that many times, people with physical limitations have just as many, if not more intellectual and spiritual capabilities than people who are considered “able bodied.”

There are also people with physical limitations who decide to create a platform to join their artistry and activism together concerning this issue. That being said, there is a man named Mike Ervin in Chicago who has his own blog site and one man show known as The Smart Ass Cripple. Even Roger Ebert said, “I am a fan of Smart Ass Cripple, who is very disabled and also very eloquent and funny.”:


Just like anyone else, Mike Ervin believes that telling our stories empowers people.  The Smart Ass Cripple one man show is both comedy and activism joined together! This event took place at Assisted Living in Chicago a block away from Yoga Now studios. There is an art to comedy, but comedy and activism joined together is even better.

Here is something to note in light of all the rioting and police misconduct taking place: Although Mike Ervin is wheelchair bound, he is proud to let you know that he arrested 12 times in peaceful protests.

The crowd loved him and an interesting conversation was generated about the misunderstandings that people with physical limitations face: They do not want to work, they should just stay at home instead of taking up the best parking spaces in the parking lots at the grocery store, etc. “I am not about to just lie down and die just because someone doesn’t have respect for me as a human being because I’m not like them,” I heard one woman in the audience say, “I want to get out here and enjoy my life just like anybody else.”

And obviously, Mike Ervin shares this sentiment. It is also nice to know he has retained his sense of humor. I aspire to his greatness when I grow up.



Chelsea’s Shawl Yarn for Chelsea’s Law

A lot of people asked me over the years, “How do art and activism come together?”
Let me explain.
Chelsea King was a San Diego high school student who was murdered by a convicted sex offender named John Albert Gardner in 2010:

Chelsea’s Light Foundation was established by the family to create laws to protect children. Dream in Color, a yarn manufacturer, created skeins of yarn to make shawls (or whatever you want really). A portion of the proceeds from the yarn sales go to Chelsea’s Light Foundation:

Further, Chelsea King’s brother was 13 years old when his sister was murdered. He created a documentary about his experience stating that creating a documentary was actually better than therapy. I also heard that same sentiment expressed by Mariel Hemingway about her own family challenges and how she became an advocate:

This is how art, albeit making documentaries or textile arts, and activism come together. I buy my Chelsea’s Shawl yarn at Gentler Times Knit Shop in Naperville, Illinois, just a block away from where I meet my writing group. 100% super wash merino is one of the better textures for me to work with. Needless to say, my next bohemian strippy scarf will be made using Chelsea’s Shawl Yarn.

Chelsea's Shawl Yarn 1Chelsea's Shawl Yarn 2

Call For Hope (and Help)

It’s that time of year for decluttering and spring cleaning. I am hoping your spring cleaning is going well, but before you toss out your old used cell phones, please consider donating them to a worthy cause. Verizon has the HopeLine, a program designed to take used cell phones and donate them to the victims of domestic violence. Please read the link below to find out how you can help. Thank you!: