Art Before Breakfast

0219_drawing-breakfast-624x434Today I heard an interview with author Danny Gregory that charmed and captivated me.

He has just published a book:

“Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways To Be More Creative, No Matter How Busy You are”

(I have no proprietary interest)

I know that many of you who subscribe and read this blog have an affinity for the arts.

I want to share this work with you,

particularly, as Self Expression and the Creative Process is dear to my heart.

I’ll quote a little from the author, and you can see for yourself the appeal.

(I hope)

“Be here.  Now.  Art stops time.  When you draw or paint what’s around you, you see it for what it is.  Instead of living in a virtual world, as we do most of the time these days, you will be present in the real one…tell your story.

Danny's Breakfast
Danny’s Breakfast

Life is just a long succession of small epiphanies.  You need to stop and seize them.  By making art, you will be recording what you are living through and what you are learning about it.  Your art will set a frame around it and give you perspective on what really maters…

Welcome to the world.  It’s not perfect, but beautiful. And the most beautiful things have character and experience built into them…We all live in chaos.  It’s the natural state of things…everything is always changing…turning into cosmic mush…Creativity is the act of shaping the mush of the world around us into something–of creating your own order.

There are always to0 many things to do, too many obligations and chores that take precedence over you.  Maybe you think to yourself, ‘Sure, I’d love to make art, but I don’t have the time to indulge myself right now, etc. etc.’  It’s the essence of life.  It’s what distinguishes us from the mush.  And it’s why our ancestors survived while other less adaptive critters perished.  They responded to change by being creative in some way, by inventing new answers to the chaos…art-before-breakfast-680x450

Creativity can become a habit that fits into your life, like Pilates or flossing, only a lot more fulfilling. You just need to shift your perspective on what it is to be creative…You just have to be you–and express what that means.

I plan to read his book and use it.

Anyone care to join me?

We could form the Vox Anima Breakfast Club.

Vox Anima,  SDM


Illustrations by Danny Gregory

Other Art Credit: Tumblr

Alchemy & Ratatouille

story seamstress
story seamstress

 Whenever I want to re~set, re~create myself,

I often take to the kitchen.

I am also a gardener, along with my beloved Green Man.

We call our place “The Shire”.

the shire

An Hobbit homage to big bare feet, pipe weed, and enjoying the simple life.



(the pipe weed is a reference to tobacco)

(my Green Man enjoys a cigar now and then)

We have a wild and wooly acre +.

With pear, apple, peach, almond, and walnut trees.

Ornamental trees too:  box elder, incense cedars, pines, junipers, horse chestnut, oaks, sycamore, and vintage lilacs.

And the vegetable garden, now scaled back for two.

Flaming red and green grapes.

Peas.  Basil.

Ambrosia and Watermelons.

A smattering of leafy greens.

Sunflowers for beauty.

( but mostly to feed the birds)

You get the picture?

Tomatoes, always tomatoes:  Brandywines.


Perennial herbs of dill, sage, oregano, tarragon, thyme, chives.

Peppers, squashes (winter and summer), and eggplant.


 Have you ever seen an eggplant blossom?

The plant and blossom alone are reason enough to grow it.

Now, back to the kitchen.

The first of summer’s garden bounty inspired a ratatouille.

I simply could not resist the glossy solid beauty of the Aubergine.


(I just like using the word Aubergine!)

First thing this morning I was in the kitchen.

With my vegetables.

(very Zen)

Asked the Green Man to fetch the squash and the herb bouquet.

Chop.  Chop.


The swirl of good olive oil and the onion sauté filled the house with such a perfume.

Add the peppers, garlic (lots), zucchini, eggplant, oregano, basil, bay leaf, and tomatoes.

Our home was transformed into a Mediterranean kitchen.

The vegetables were singing!

This, for me, is the creative process.

I begin with one element.

This one element leads to another, and before you know it, I am creating something!

(kind of like this blog)

Now, who will help me do the dishes?

Vox Anima, SDM


All other art credit is in the public domain

Hele On!

I am in the process of moving to a new office space.

My fifth, in private practice.

As an intern, I began in a professional office suite in an historical building on a Hawaii bay front in Hilo.


37-8 The S. Hata Building


With views like this.

What a pleasure to step outside and feel the soft breeze on the skin.

Hawaii is definitely a place for the senses.


(perhaps the topic for another post)

Back on the Mainland, my next two offices were apartments, which I converted into office space.  Casual, homey, private, and comfortable.

Of those two, my favorite was the one on Third St., a Victorian in a historical district.

(even though it was cold in the winter) 

The Space has always been very important to me.  

After all, it is The Space which holds the Psychotherapist and Client.

In the beginning, without completely understanding why,

the paramount nature of The Space has been a critical piece of my work life happiness.

I remember reading research about the significance of the office and its effect on client outcomes — the findings were counterintuitive for me.

Which, in essence said that it didn’t matter!

I took a leave of absence in 2010, and when I returned, I was on the hunt for the next space.

I found a house, which is shared by other professionals:  a civil engineer, massage therapists.

My room is small, I made do, and it has served well, but I have been squished.

I would go to work, acknowledge feeling squishy, and keep on keeping on.

Perennially, my radar has been on for a larger, more accommodating space.

One in which invites stretching out, moving, and more ways to play and express…

For four years nothing remotely right surfaced.

(that is a long time to feel squished)

I was steadfast in my standpoint of the space being right,

in terms of energy, or chi if you will.

Lo, and Behold!

One of my roomies decides to move on, quite suddenly it seems.

The Space, down the hall became available to me.

As with most decisions like this, I sleep on it.

I waited to see what the resonances would be as The Space emptied.

All is well.

The process, the creative process of making it mine is underway.

Facing north – east and painted in a cold, dirty white, it begged for color!

After a little back and forth with mySelf about how FAR to go with this,

my Soul won out.


As I write this, the painting is about complete.

One wall remains, which will be painted in Spirit Blue.

The African Art will go up, and things put away will re-join me there like old friends.


Goat Boys by Betty LaDuke

I anticipate, in many ways, that this will feel like an ascent,

a homecoming, after four years in the doldrums.

This reminds me too, of the patience and absolute trust required for Soul.

That nothing should be forced.

That the unfolding is underway, even if invisible to the eye.

There is a Hawaiian pidgin expression that speaks to this:  Bon bye.

Loosely translated:

Bye and Bye.

All in good time.

All in God’s time.

There is also an expression for moving on:  Hele On!

And so I am…

Aloha and Vox Anima,

SDMHealer, by Betty LaDukeHealer by Betty La Duke


If you have been following my Blog, you all know how important the Image is to me.

As part of the creative process, many Posts suggest themselves, and are driven by image before the written word is applied.

Whether in clip art, fine art, paintings, sketches, statuary, all speak to me.

It is no wonder I became a Sandplay therapist, and am continually drawn,

(no pun intended)

to how the image amplifies, contains, and fulfills a concept.

Lately, I find myself pulled to photography more and more.

(it is probably time to step up to a new camera)

I came across a new Application:  Waterlogue.

It has transformed many of my photographs into Monet inspired watercolors!

(speaking of, Huguette Clark’s Monet just sold for $17 million)

Here is a sampling of my own Little Monets!


Painted in Waterlogue



Painted in Waterlogue



Painted in Waterlogue


Waterlogue lends itself best to landscapes and still life photos.


Painted in WaterlogueThe Ashland Library.

Painted in Waterlogue







Easter Eggs.

Sometimes, human subjects turn out well…

Painted in Waterlogue

My grandson, Soren, Painter of Easter Eggs.  And Mad Scientist (with friend).

Painted in Waterlogue Painted in Waterlogue

And his little Brother, Sacha.

Painted in Waterlogue

(suitable for framing)

Vox Anima,







Til We Have Faces

Ambivalence.  Reticence. Acquiescence.


All these ess~ences of the creative process.


Mysterious, vulnerable, and wholly unseen, like the faces here.


“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words.  I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer.  Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean?  How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

~ C. S. Lewis

I take Lewis to mean it is only through time, maturation, and a deep exploration in the aquifers of the soul that babbling becomes bubbling.  Bubbling up from the Source.

The ideas and images in Vox Anima have babbled and bubbled for years.

It may have been that my face has not been fully formed, enough, til now?

To speak with the gods, so to speak?


Like the Dreamer and the Dream-Maker… perhaps, it begs the question:

Who has been painting me?


Vox Anima, SDM

All Art credit goes to Jeremy Lipking

Priming the Pump


Priming the pump is generally defined as:

a government action taken to stimulate an economy during a recessionary period.

I borrow the metaphor for the creative process, to get the juices flowing, as it were, after a lengthy period of —

Stagnation?  Stagflation?  Incubation?

At any rate, some sort of,  “-tion”.

Another way to look at the metaphor is the hand water pump.

As a child, my first experience of the water pump  was on the deck of the family cabin in Wilsonia, CA.

Jana Botkiin  The Cabins of Wilsonia
Jana Botkiin
The Cabins of Wilsonia

Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains at 6,617 elevation, our cabin was a refuge from Fresno’s blistering summer heat.

Built by my Maternal Grandfather’s family, the cabin served as my wild sanctuary.

I remember photos of these men in model T Fords crawling up those hillsides, like bugs, loaded with building materials!

The cabin was bare bones primitive.

A common room, with stone fireplace and built in dining table and benches (which held storage of games, cards, and books about mythology) was the heart of the place.

My favorite piece of furniture was the the suede fringe chair by the big console radio.  The mammoth photo of a snarling mountain lion hung over the couch nearby.  I preferred my distance from the cat.

Jana Botkin The Cabins of Wilsonia
Jana Botkin
The Cabins of Wilsonia

A tiny kitchen, the size of a small closet, was the place for meal preparation and clean up.

3 Bedrooms, with strange wall art that the family had accumulated in the Southwest–very Georgia O’Keefe.  Patchwork quilts made up the old brass beds.  Each room had a chamber pot, in the event one did not wish to make the long trip  outside and down the steep stairs to the outhouse.

The only running water to be found was out of that miraculous marvelous hand pump on the deck.

After minutes of pump priming, freshets of icy pure mountain water would emerge, never failing to delight me.

When the plumbing upgrade happened, bringing a shower and running water inside, I was deflated.  Perhaps, the reconfiguration away from the source was drying to my little soul?

…C.G. Jung utilized the image of the riverbed as a way to describe archetypes.

 The riverbed may dry up at times, but the water surely finds its way back to the grooves laid down over eons.

Perhaps, the beginning of this blog is like that initial trickle of water from the aquifers of the Soul.

I invite and welcome your comments as we prime the pump together.

Vox Anima, SDM

Aquifer Melody Johnson
Melody Johnson