When I was in my twenties I attended a church gathering where people spoke to those who had gone on to the other side through a main speaker. I was with a dear friend whose husband had died, and she would go there to talk to him. My mother had warned me not to talk to anyone who was no longer here in physical form, and so I simply asked if I could speak to Jesus or Mary. Considering they weren’t exactly dead but also not exactly on this side of the veil either. The speaker for the day said – that they were far too busy for this kind of connection.
I didn’t ask any more questions. But it got me thinking –
If you could ask – and you felt comfortable asking – who would you ask and what would you ask or say? Just the question was savory enough. I thought of Sue Hoya Sellars, my teacher and mother of my heart who was close with my mom Caron when I was baby and into adulthood. I called Sue and asked: What would say to Lenore, her guardian and mentor if she could say anything or ask anything?
Sunrise in Florence on the day my teacher walked on four years ago…a mysterious shadow walks into the light as I snap the picture – reminding me of the enlongated images she used to paint
Sunset in Florence at the Santa Maria Novella – my own shadow in the colored light. I walked up to see if I could capture the light but saw my own shadow…
She said: “I would like to tell her : I am doing my work.”
Those words rang out in my heart. Their precious connection of student and mentor became clear to me. There was an understanding that even at a young age, Sue had work and Lenore wanted to empower her to do that work. It has always stuck with me and been a guiding question: Am I doing my work?
Right now I am doing my work in Italy by sharing art and history with Intentional Creativity Guild women from around the world. Inviting them to take up their own banners, and do their work.
Today, is there a teacher, guide, mentor, in this world or the next that you would like to tell that you are doing your work? I invite you to this inquiry and action on this four year anniversary of my teacher passing. And are you doing your work?
Sue went in for heart surgery, and her heart was healed, but she never fully regained consciousness. I am not one of those who believe it is all good – or that everything happens for a reason, or that it was her time. Rather, it felt like a mistake in the medical world. I will never know. And I will never ask. For me, it remains a tragedy. The night before she went into surgery she told my mom Caron, now I can get to my real work.
I am so glad to say that I was doing my work WHILE she was alive, WITH her and our Cosmic Cowgirls. We weren’t incomplete. I had praised her to the moon and stars and she, I hope, knew that.
As artistic justice and irony would have it, she had been working on paintings connected with healing the heart and awakening consciousness. I continue this lineage in Intentional Creativity. My class, CODEX is dedicated to her and I will be spending over a year sharing her teachings as far as I can discover them with my students around the world – yes, with a focus on the heart and the mind. As well as sharing teachings from my mom, Caron McCloud. Brilliant women who taught me to think, to love, and to see.
I miss her every day. More. Not less. Yet I can happily say to her and the universe, I am doing my work. And not just me, but all of those who are part of Intentional Creativity.
Sue was a champion for women and girls. For protection and awareness. When she first came to live at Lenore’s home, leaving her life of extreme poverty in childhood behind – and entering a new world – she babysat for Lenore’s children. Lenore’s now elder daughter told me that when Sue came, the culture of the home changed. That she was protected by Sue, cried when she left, always missed her and still has a few pieces of her early art from the 1950ies.
I can’t help but think of what Sue and Lenore stood for in their mentoring of women and girls through art. Especially this week as we in the US look at our country in awe, and not the good kind. Astonishment. Mistakes are being made. It isn’t all good. And yet in it, each of us can be kind and mentor others with the gifts we have. Lenore Thomas Straus Lenore taught Sue the basic idea behind Intentional Creativity – as a sculptor Lenore wrote that she – bowed to the stone – this idea – of approaching art with such reverence is behind all that we do in our Intentional Creativity Lineage.
In our work we talk about a concept we call – healed enough. Healed enough is when you are well enough to get off of your own bs and the past stories that hold you back and move into supporting others to heal theirs. When we aren’t well enough, we aren’t capable of holding space for others in a good way. In Color of Woman we create a space where women are healed enough to do their work. That doesn’t mean 100% whole all the time and a shining star. It means, I am healed enough to want to call others and share my gifts of teaching, guiding and offering medicine for the soul.
My heart is forever scarred through the loss of a woman who taught me to weild the brush. And to make a stand for women. For consciousness and creativity. Yet I am healed enough to do my own work and invite other women to do their own work as well. When our cup is full enough, we share it with those in our own circles. Not acting like we are perfect, but sharing our vulnerability and bravery to step out of shadows and into the light of or our own work.
Soon you will also receive an invitation from me to join me for a course focused on translating gifts into income through claiming a body of work – more on that next week. All of this is connected. I have to share my gifts. That is clear. I have had three major losses of humans in my life and each one has spoken the same medicine – and teaching – do what you are here to do. Don’t wait.
Four years ago my teacher and mentor walked on. Today I share the gifts she gave me through Intentional Creativity. I am doing the work. I invite you too, to do your own work Sarah. And if you already are – to claim that you are.
Sending love from Italy with a Italian wool red thread, at the close of a week long gathering, full cup, full heart, full of tears and full of gratitude,
Here is a digital image that Sue created of the Creator, of the Annunciation with Mary and Gabriel in the egg, entering into the pelvis of earth.
This is the start of my CODEX painting, it has the starmap of the morning I was born as well as a cosmic pelvis. I didn’t connect it with this image until searching Sue online recently and finding this one.
We are all connected by the red thread. This world or the next. This body or the next. We are all connected.
My Cosmic Heart – Sue Hoya Sellars 2014
Paris viewing the Magdalene
2 months before she was gone…
Lenore Thomas Straus – we say thank you for teaching us to bow to the stone.