Friday, December 26, 2008

ringing in the new

we've been traveling a lot lately. first it was illinois for thanksgiving, then virginia after christmas, to see our son and his family and meet our newest granddaughter, molly. on these trips i find myself looking at the land a lot, especially the trees, trying to imagine what has happened there over the centuries...wondering what it would have been like to live there then..and now. "can i see myself living here," i wonder?

some of the places we travel through feel familiar to me, even though i've never actually been there before. parts of virginia, especially, felt that way. we spent about 11 glorious miles in georgia and i breathed in as deeply as i could, the air of my home state.

with all the traveling, i've had plenty of time to think about things...been entertaining some new ideas...dispensing with some old ones that don't work for me any more...retrieving and dusting off others.

in some ways, i feel like an old oak with new growth. it feels good to be adding new rings.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

joy to the world

there's something
about joy
it spreads
so easily
so wonderfully
once it
takes hold
in your heart

Sunday, December 21, 2008

winter solstice song

winter sun, you and i
were at our lowest point
both of us battling the darkness
when something shifted
the axis tilted
and we were reborn

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

a pillow fight in heaven

last week it snowed in mississippi. as you might imagine, that's a pretty rare occurrence, and when it happens, traffic gets scarce, schools let out, businesses close. the world starts moving in slow motion and we all become children. you would have thought it was manna falling the way folks acted...tilting their heads back and sticking out their tongues in hopes of catching a dainty morsel; others scooping up handfulls in ziploc bags to pop into the freezer - an icy souvenir of "the great snowfall of '08." i watched in awe as the big, puffy flakes swirled and danced their way out of the sky. it was as if a million angels were having a pillow fight in heaven...and for a brief, magical time, we experienced life from inside the snow globe.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

strength...with thanks to barb

a friend at the mandala oasis shared some wise words with me from healing runes. i have personalized this portion in particular because it spoke to me so deeply:
the cycle of sorrow
and pain
has come to an end
i am at peace
in my healing
i have walked
the path
of true courage
it is time
to go out into
the world
live the life
i was born to live

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


the future sleeps
in the dreams
of the awakened
in whom
the past is safe
to remember
and the present
is alive

Sunday, December 7, 2008


this mandala was drawn while listening to ten days in a mad-house, a true story written by investigative reporter nellie bly (1864-1922) about her undercover experience in the deplorable conditions of the women's lunatic asylum on blackwell's island. her expose' led to major reform.

i showed the mandala to a friend of mine, an episcopal priest and mary devotee, who saw in it the colors associated with the virgin and also of advent. i knew immediately advent was to be its name.

most of the time, my mandalas tell me their names...but sometimes i learn their names from the lips of others. in that instant, i also realized that nellie and mary had something in common - a willingness to put themselves at risk, in order to bring help to others.

Monday, December 1, 2008

a native of savannah

over thanksgiving we traveled north to visit my husband's side of the family. it was a memorable and satisfying trip that i will be "processing" for weeks and months, i'm sure.

as we drove through miles and miles of flat illinois farmland, i began to wonder how this landscape has helped to shape the inner landscape of the people who call this part of the country, "home."

i realized that my inner landscape has been shaped by...defined that is vastly different, for i grew up in the coastal city of savannah, georgia. that is the place i call "home."

i realized that i crave the ocean as much as i crave my next breath...i have to be within reach of her.

"a native of savannah, georgia..." is how my artist's bio begins. although i have lived in mississippi for over 20 years now, a "native of savannah" is at the core of my being.

my beloved husband grew from rich, dark, fertile soil...while i sprang from the ocean. we make a good pair.

Friday, November 21, 2008


in this busy season
take time
to slow down
on the inside
and let tranquility
find you

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

on a wing and a prayer

hawk and sparrow
came to my window
one flew in
one flew by
the hunted and the hunter
one seeking shelter
the other a meal
ain't that the way of the world?

Monday, November 17, 2008

little girl on a golden isle

i'm a little girl on a golden isle
running the halls
of that old hotel
tasting an exotic kind
of freedom
that haunts me
to this day
you asked the boy
with the surfboard
to give me a ride
in the deep end
of the swimming pool
the morning water so cold
and i was so afraid
but more afraid
of disappointing you
you hated to fly
and yet you hired a plane
to take us over the island
i felt the mix of
fear and butterflies
until i saw them
the wild horses
running on the beach below us
and i was enchanted
never wanted that ride to end
thank you for that gift
was that your secret
to feel the fear
and do it anyway
i learned to swim
in the deep end
i'm learning to fly

Sunday, November 16, 2008

over the rainbow

the wizard of oz is on tonight! don't you just love a movie you can watch a gazillion times and it's still as entertaining as the first time you saw it? there's a short list of movies like that for kill a mockingbird, tootsie, gone with the wind, yours, mine & ours, chariots of fire, driving miss daisy ( you know that scene at the end where morgan freeman is feeding jessica tandy her pie - omg, i cry every time.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008


i think i found the faith
you lost along the way
the one you said
you didn't believe in anymore
it was so fragile,
corroded with rust
still i knew when i saw it
that it was yours
it made me sad
to see it laying there
like so much trash
i had to retrieve it,
but it turned to ash
in my hands
i scattered it to the wind
the way i did your remains that day
but the wind has a mind of her own
i stand now
as i did then
covered in your dust

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


looking down
i see the ground
i crawled upon so long
husks of waiting
are everywhere
and the sky is full
of freedom

Thursday, November 6, 2008

dancing in the light

i've always been something of an extremist, so while you might think this mandala, dancing in the light, is a departure from my typical style, it's actually just the other end of the spectrum that resides within me.

i love ballet. as a little girl, i took lessons at madeline walker's school of ballet. i was odd girl out in a mirrored room full of smooth haired buns, pink tights and black leotards. i still remember the excitement of recital nights...the pastel hues of scratchy, stiff, sequined tutus...the intoxicating smell of spray painted ballet slippers mingling with the musty smell of the heavy velvet auditorium curtains. for a few magical hours i was cinderella at the ball.

then, as now, i inhabit a body built for comfort not for speed. but inside of me there lives the long, lithe body of a dancer...a ballerina girl dancing in the light.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

dreaming in color

i love to dream in color
vivid, bold and bright
i dream in living color
almost every night
my pillow becomes a canvas
my dreams provide the light
as the colors from my dreams
find their way to waking life

Saturday, November 1, 2008

a three legged chihuahua

we're having pancakes this morning, and my history and discovery channel-loving 15 year old son says our three-legged chihuahua, jimmy, wants to do the iditarod. we laugh good naturedly at the thought of our beloved jimmy out there mushing with all the sleek sled dogs. actually, jimmy has four legs, but only three work the way god intended. as a puppy, jimmy had been abused and neglected. he came to live with us through the wonderful work of the chihuahua rescue league after we saw a picture of him in our neighborhood paper.

what does this have to do with making mandalas? well, that's how i feel sometimes - like a three-legged chihuahua in a highly competitive race. admittedly, i have my own list of "challenges" - some might call me a late bloomer to be picking up a brush at 48, but, least i'm blooming! this mandala is called the journey. yeah, this artist-life is my own personal iditarod...i'm not "in it to win it" - but i am enjoying the ride.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


i am
the blue in blue
that seeps through stone
bubbles up
spills over
i am
the blue in blue
that slakes a thirst
pours out
sinks in
i am
the blue in blue

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


i'm feeling around the edges of something...
i can't quite make out what it is
but i know i am touching it
and i know it is big

Saturday, October 25, 2008

the shape of things to come

I found I could say things with color and shapes
that I couldn't say any other way.. things I had no words for.
-Georgia O'Keeffe

Thursday, October 23, 2008


how often i'm reminded
of things that i regret
careless words and actions
promises not kept
my comfort lies in knowing
god forgets what i remember
and remembers what i forget

Wednesday, October 22, 2008



I am sitting in the coffee shop with my Dad
Drinking a cup of coffee,
waiting to pick up my children
And I realized how good it is to belong to people

He has given his best years,
all of them,
To my Mom and me and my sisters and brothers
To care for us because we belonged to Him
There is a bond between us; a union of life
Part of my soul is inside of him
And part of his soul lives inside of me
I can't explain it, but that is how it is
We belong to one another

The same is with my dear one
We've been sharing love and joy and pain
Laughter and tears
Children and grandchildren now
For more than 25 years

Part of each of us lives inside the other
I'd like to explain this to my children
But I'm not sure they would understand it
It might sound more like restriction than
Realizing part of one's true self
Is to belong to another

But maybe when I am eighty
And we're sitting at the coffee shop or somewhere else
They will see what I see now
How good it is to belong.

Maybe they'll see it sooner than I did
-Dan Wills

Sunday, October 19, 2008

the urge to push

creating mandalas is like giving birth.
once the "urge to push" hits,
there is nothing i can do, but let it be born.

Friday, October 17, 2008

two left feet

i want to dance with life
and hold her close
i want to whisper
sweet somethings in her ear
i want to tell her
that she's beautiful
i want to...
but today i have two left feet

Sunday, October 12, 2008

for the beauty of the earth...

i grew up going to sunday school and church at first christian church in savannah, georgia. in sunday school we often sang a hymn or two before hearing our gospel lesson. two hymns in particular stand out in my memory, fairest lord jesus and for the beauty of the earth.

it was the first verse of the latter that ran through my head as i drew this mandala.

For the beauty of the earth
For the Glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

songs in the key of life

this past week has been intense. i can see it reflected in this mandala, songs in the key of life. for someone like me, who prefers life in the slow lane, finding myself in the fast lane feels totally discombobulating - is that a word? if it's not it should be!

there's a soundtrack to life - a song for any and every occasion...i hear them in my head all the time.

today, i find myself scanning the dial - listening for that song that will help ease me back into the slow lane.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

a river runs through it

There is a river in my childhood
Where water flows slowly along the bank
And the grasses wave in the breeze
To greet the water on her way
There are trees along this river
Who offer their leaves as company for the journey
And shade to cool the current
For her long unending labor
And in my mind I am there
I hear the rustling
I see her unhurried pace
As she washes the stones in her bed
She moves along in happy sadness to another place
Happy to be moving, yet sad to be leaving
Wishing to linger just one more moment
In the sweetness of the present and the past
Flow over me childhood river
And let me see you once again
To know your coolness
To hear your soothing voice
Speak of peace yet to come
-Dan Wills

Sunday, October 5, 2008

a brand new day

brand new day

i used to be a night owl. i used to joke that the reason i sneezed so much in the morning was because i was allergic to it. but now...dawn has become my favorite time of day. of course i have to give credit where credit is due - i have to credit middle age, and simply not being able to keep late hours. i have to credit a loving husband who brings me coffee and the paper in bed each morning. but even more, it's the promise of a brand new day that has made me a convert. each day, i'm given a brand new start...a clean slate...a world of possibilities. there's a line in the chorus of an old hymn (great is thy faithfulness) that i love which says it best:

"Morning by morning new mercies I see."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

a different way to pray

prayer wheel

a few years ago, a wise woman gave me good counsel as i walked through a difficult time and found it hard to pray.
"have you ever thought of praying through your mandalas?"
that was a new thought for me. i've never been comfortable praying aloud, especially extemporaneously...rather, i have found more solace in the written prayers of others. but yet, i still yearned for a way of my own - something authentic and true to who i am - to pray about the things weighing heavy on my heart - situations - friends - loved ones in need of help or guidance.
was it really possible to pray through my art? to my great relief and delight, i discovered that the answer to that question is a resounding - YES! since that day, whole new pathways of prayer have opened up before me as i draw and paint. i am thankful for this "different way" pray.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

a prayer for the mourning

A Prayer for The Mourning

Father, tonight we lift up those who have no hope of comfort, no consolation, no warmth, only the crumbs of despair and the hiss of distance.
Let the power of your fatherly love break through their isolation and bond them again to your whole family in heaven and on earth.
We join our hearts as your heart is joined to the bereaved, and for their sake we cry out:

For the widow and the orphan whom you bind to your very heart
For the parents who will never see their little ones grow up
For brothers and sisters separated by accident, murder, suicide, or sickness.

Lord, comfort those who cannot be comforted.

For families still waiting for their loved ones to come home
For the mothers of the disappeared
For the fathers of the silent bitterness

Lord, comfort those who cannot be comforted.

For friends who gather at the graves of their fallen comrades
For grandsons and daughters who no longer hear the voice of their elders
For those who wail in grief and for those who have no more tears

Lord, comfort those who cannot be comforted.

Lord Jesus, we pray for the miracle of your risen life to manifest tonight on these:
That you would be The Resurrection and the Life to them;
that they would experience the living hope of resurrection and reuniting in the life to come.

Holy Spirit, take this prayer and make it a multiplied seed in the hearts of the grieving this season.
Cause our prayer of hope against all hope to be a part of the world’s healing tonight.

(David Morrison)

Monday, September 29, 2008

fires in the fall

Autumn Fires

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!
-Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday, September 27, 2008

something different

mainly i like to draw while listening to spoken word pieces...lectures, sermons, books read aloud, or interview shows like npr's speaking of faith. i have a love of learning, and this method allows me to get into a zone where my mind is engaged with new or challenging thoughts and ideas, while my hands are busy translating them into shapes and colors. but on this particular day in 2006 i wanted to try something different - drawing to music - no words - just music.

i decided that i would move with the music - follow its lead - go where it wanted to go - stop where it stopped. the resulting mandala, the great eye am, is decidedly different than others i had drawn up to that point. it feels more "organic"...less structured.

sometimes in life, we want...we try "something different." try going with the music - see where it takes you...i bet it's somewhere beautiful!

Friday, September 26, 2008

the magic man in my life

the magic man in my life is my beloved husband of almost 28 years, dan wills.

he's the kindest person i have ever known...
and kindness is very high on my list of desirable traits in a human being.

this is his favorite mandala - planted by rivers of water. by his own admission, his life goes about a gazillion miles an hour at times. he says looking at this helps him slow down on the inside.

he's also a poet at heart. this one is my favorite:


I love the trees
And the way they move in the wind
The pines as they sway in the dance of the breeze
They seem to know one another
And can stand very still without talking
The sounds of the wind moving across the branches
Are the nods and voices of approving friends

They are like a congregation
A group of members together in harmony
All in one place for a long time
Separated only by the space needed to grow

-Dan Wills

Thursday, September 25, 2008

get into the groove

a year or so ago, i happened upon the amazing mandalas created by christine claringbold that she paints on old records. recently, i was at a library book sale and found a box of old 33's and thought i'd give it a whirl.
get into the groove is my first mandala done in this fashion. i discovered that i actually LOVE using this approach. it's fun working on something that is already round, while giving a nod to the whole recycling thing.
i was so pleased with the result that i went to the goodwill store yesterday and stocked up on more albums to use as my canvas. i even found an old 78 - which i was thrilled to discover in the mix.
be on the lookout for more of these babies...i'm totally in the groove!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

begin with stillness

wind dancer

begin with stillness...those words caught my eye yesterday, and sank deeply into my psyche. that's how i feel each time i begin a new mandala...i find the center point...the still point. i begin with stillness. everything flows from there.

stillness...your world could be going to hell in a handbasket, whirling - spinning - out of control, and yet you can still right yourself, find your center, "begin with stillness" in the midst of it all.

that's the magic of the mandala - to draw a circle - a boundary - a buffer between you and everything not you.

to find the center...your drop down deep inside yourself to where everything is calm and peaceful...and still...and go from there.

begin with stillness.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

how long did that take you?

peace like a river

the top question i get asked when people see my mandalas is, "how long did that take you?" and the most common comment after that is..."you must have a lot of patience."

the question can be answered in one of two ways. in reality, it has taken me about 40 years! i try not to "go there" because most folks really don't want to know all that's kind of like when we southerners ask, "how are you?" all we usually really want to hear is "fine! and you?"

so i generally just tell them what they want to know - depending on the size and medium, a mandala can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to create.

as for the comment, "you must have a lot of patience to do that." - it took me awhile to figure out what bothered me about hearing that. because i don't think i have more patience than anybody else, and patience isn't what i'm thinking about as i'm drawing or painting. what i'm usually thinking is...i love what i do!

the answer hit me one day in sunday school when someone was reading aloud the passage from I corinthians 13 (the love chapter). "love is patient..." love is patient! that was it! i love what i of course i have patience.

this flash of insight has given me new eyes to see, not only what i do, in a different light, but also what others do. i realized how often i have said the same thing to others - "boy, you must have a lot of patience." now i know, no, they have a lot of love.

Monday, September 22, 2008

the rest of the story...

genesis - my first mandala
i've always had very vivid dreams. i can remember dreams i've had since i was about 4 years old.

back in 2004, i saw an article in the paper about a local dream group and an upcoming conference on dream work to be held at st. james episcopal church. it piqued my interest big time, so i signed up.

the conference was put on by a group called journey into wholeness. turns out, it was not so much about dreams per se, as it was a crash course on carl jung - kind of a jung 101.

i felt as though i'd been thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool. i absorbed as much of the information as i could, and learned, among many other things, that carl jung started each day drawing a simple mandala - his way of "just dropping in to see what condition his condition was in."

fast forward a year - a group of friends and i decided to read the book, the artist's way by julia cameron, together. i was still groping for my creative outlet when i remembered jung's practice of drawing a mandala, and thought to myself, "well, at least i could draw a circle."
genesis was the result, and it was as if the floodgates opened and all the color i had bottle up inside came pouring out. or as my husband describes it: "it was like somebody shook up a bottle of champagne and then popped the cork."

into the blogosphere...

i'm taking the plunge into the blogosphere...we'll see how it goes.

how did i get the name "magic mom?"

about five years ago i wanted to find an art teacher to see about getting my two younger children some private lessons. that was the truth - but the deeper truth was, i was the one who was searching for a creative outlet.

i'd been told by a friend that a woman named jackie kellum was the person i was looking for. i tucked jackie's name into my memory bank.

one day, while standing in line at the post office, i took notice of the woman ahead of me who was mailing a package. the name on the return address was "jackie kellum." shyly, i introduced myself, quickly explained that i normally don't approach strangers in the post office, told her all the wonderful things i had heard about her and asked if she was still giving art lessons.

jackie looked me right in the eye and said, "you are a magic mom." her words went through me like an electric shock.

we set up a time for my kids to come to her home for their first lesson. i kind of hovered in the background - soaking up jackie's every word. she said, "any one can learn technique. what i want to do is open up people to creativity."

a month or so later, jackie lost her home in a fire and moved away out of state. but that meeting in the post office that day changed my life.

that's the beginning of the tale of how i came to be a mandala artist. i'll try in subsequent posts to fill in "...the rest of the story."

sometimes all it takes to get the creative ball rolling is a chance encounter - a divine appointment.

thank you jackie kellum...wherever you are!