The Creative Epiphany – Wherever You Go, There You Are

fragile From Northern California back to Denver…..

On the fifth night in my new residence, dead tired from unpacking and lifting and climbing stairs and settling in, I woke in the night wondering where I was. It was as if I had been in a coma and regained consciousness, and had no idea of my location. Without moving a muscle I looked around. There was bright moonlight cutting through the deep purple darkness  in long narrow slices made by slatted blinds I swore I never bought.  I was wondering – which window was it? I don’t have a window like this one, do I? What room am I in? Where am I? Oh yes, I gradually realized. Someone had moved my bed across 3 states and put it down in a room that didn’t make any sense to me…yet.

When you change your residence you don’t have to be half asleep to wonder where you are. Moments of confusion come at unexpected times when you can’t comprehend how it all happened, although it was a 3 month process. You need something from the fridge and you open the pantry, you turn right headed for the bathroom and it takes you into the laundry room. If you get up at night for a drink of water you impact the wall where you thought there was a door with such force that you wonder if you broke your face.

Moving is not easy. But it is worth it, if you are fortunate enough to have done it for all the right reasons. In my previous blog post, titled SURFACING, I gave you enough info to know that this move of mine has been a wonderful leap, coming at a time in my life when recharging the batteries of my heart and soul was the right decision. Moving is always a major jolt and a chaotic endeavor, however, no matter how you plan it and attend to details. The members of my family do a lot of it. We are all gypsies who will leave point A and flash forward to point B for reasons of career opportunities, quality of life and being closer to those you love most. They said one night on Animal Planet that all the great migrations of the animal species are made for just 3 reasons – plentiful food, water and mating opportunities. Some things are just universal.

My brother and sister and I were born in Ohio and we have made our individual journeys to the West with relish and perseverance. Kind of like Sherman’s march to the sea. We burned some bridges behind us in the process but it was worth it and no one was injured. Then one of us moved back east again, but south. We Ping-Pong around.

It is an energizing event in life – the move. It wakes you up at your deepest core, at the very least. It requires a great, complicated  thought process to purge and pack. I have it down to a system, having moved about 25 times in my life. Each of those times, I learned more and refined my process. I have dozens of tricks and short-cuts up my sleeves by now, learned in the deep trenches of relocation suffering. My sister says I ought to write a book about it. But I am too busy doing other fun stuff.

I actually enjoy waking up in the night wondering where I am. I look around for clues and it comes to me eventually. And maybe some far off night when the clues in the darkness make no sense at all to me, and the familiar answers as to my location do not filter into my mind, well then… moving days will be over.


The Creative Epiphany – Surfacing


I am back up to the surface, gulping pure oxygen again and no longer swimming against the current of circumstances beyond my control. That statement is far more deep and wide in its scope than it appears, because it is not just about THE MOVE. For those of you who know me, you know it means that my move from California to Colorado is complete and all the difficulties of that enormous transition, and the couple of years preceding it,  have smoothed out and gone away. The entire procedure of moving, from the tiny bud of possibility to the finish, was a gargantuan cleansing and a new beginning. I shed a lot of dead weight, both spiritually and otherwise. I left my past behind me and moved forward instead of treading water. For those of you who do not have a clue who I really am, just let it be said that after everything I have gone through in the past several years, surfacing is a very good thing.

With the support of many fine friends and family, some strangers met along the way who were instrumental in easing the journey, and one special man who wisked me away from the chaos of unpacking for an evening of relaxation, good food and music, I have made it through this monumental change. At this moment I am sitting in my new studio space, window open to a glorious Colorado morning, enjoying the luxury of the quiet and this remarkable thing called blogging. It is lovely to have a voice, to have my art, to have things to look forward to again. I have finally come out of the far end of the tunnel and the light is almost blinding. To have taken control of my life once again, after a period of time when I put my own needs on the back shelf and sacrificed my own free will,  feels exhilarating. I am giddy with anticipation. The experience of this particular epiphany has come late in life for me, on the heels of other epiphany realizations, but perhaps the universe saved the best for last. I am still young and healthy enough to enjoy my new freedom yet wise enough to grasp the blessing of it.

Returning to a beloved place where you used to live is brand new. Change is a very good thing. It reinvents you, instantly, and it requires great flexibility and resourcefulness. Setting up camp in a new area, no matter how familiar that location is to you, forces you to see it again for the first time. You feel like a kid again, discovering each wondrous thing. Why did I not remember all this from before? Because the circumstances were different then….that context was painted a darker shade.

I invite you to share in my joy this morning. Truly realize where you are in life and make a decision to love it or leave it. If I have one suggestion to offer as a result of this move of mine, it is to act now and not waste a lot of time wallowing around in your indecision. Years go by – decades – and you are still in the muck of uncertainty. Get your fine self going and do something. The status quo can be fine if it is what you authentically want, but if you are restless about anything in life – not just where you live – take control and put your needs first. You are all you have got, even though life does take a village. At the end of the day, it is you. Only you. And you are so worth the effort.

The Creative Epiphany – Just Unsubscribe Me Please!


Painting titled Hotstreak by Jo Ann Brown-Scott


I am not referring to my blog – I will  not unsubscribe from your blog and please do not unsubscribe  from  mine. I am speaking generically here about the annoyances of removing one’s name and email address from a list….it is like trying to pry bricks out of a wall, one by one.

Please get me off that list! Leave me alone! Stop asking me for info! I am on overload! I have no time for this! My days are full enough!

As I have said frequently and recently, I am moving from northern California to Colorado in July. What a job. It involves a crossing of states with major arrangements at both ends and in between. I have been making plans and scheduling stuff since mid-March. It is like the domino effect – one thing depends on another thing, and if some one thing fails in any way the entire procedure collapses. The links of all the tasks that form the path to Denver must be strong and dependable.

Without exception, every service provider I am dealing with asks me to fill out an online evaluation survey form before they have even completed the service I am paying for! They want to know how their phone service is doing before the big stuff ever even happens! How the first person on the phone did, how the second person on the phone did and the speed with which my questions were answered. They want to know how I heard about them, who told me what, whether or not I have visited their webpage (are you kidding? I barely have time to sleep) and what I was wearing the day I made the arrangements for their service. Not really – just kidding on that last one, but it would not surprise me.

One of the things I am doing with the move  is that I am purging my most annoying online contacts – don’t ask me why –  somehow it feels like doing that makes me lighter than air for the move to Denver. I want to UNCOMPLICATE. I want to be streamlined and sleek and simple. I am unsubscribing to every single stupid thing that I don’t want anymore in my email. You might think that is an easy mindless chore, but oh no you are wrong. It takes hours. Their questions come at me like softballs out of a batting machine.

Would you like to change your personal settings to limit the number of emails you receive? One a week perhaps? One a month? What would work for you?

YES! I would like to limit them to none! NONE would work really well for me – none of the above, in other words. Nada. Zilch. Zero. 

 WHY do you want to unsubscribe? How can we better serve you?

Because I am choking on all of your material in my email box! Because I am sick & tired of your information clogging my arteries! You can better serve me by allowing me to end your unending service to me. I beg you.

Do you want to unsubscribe to every other publication we send you or just some of it?

You send me other stuff? How dare you! YES! All of it! Gone! Unsubscribe me to all of it! Every single little teensy thing! I am now yelling at you!

Do you have a comment that might be helpful to us?

NO! Nothing that is printable!  Just get me off your list!

And finally, what is the reason for your action to unsubscribe?

I know it sounds crazy, but I am moving to Colorado. I know you do business there also but I don’t want you chasing me. Please don’t follow me. I want a restraining order. I am calling the cops.

The Creative Epiphany – Distance

brushes (2)

Distance has  been a challenge for me most of my life. Physical, geographical distance; the distance between me and the people in my life that I care most about. I am part of the problem, because I have moved a lot since leaving Ohio to pursue my love of art at the University of Colorado and then due to my husband’s work – Air Force living led us on a meandering path from South Carolina to Montana to Colorado, with stops at various states in between for weeks of pre-Viet Nam jungle survival training in Mississippi, and much later, missile  training  at Vandenberg AFB in California. Followed, after Air Force life ended, by the solitary life of the traveling salesman’s wife.

But those days are long gone and the distancing continues. I might sound like a whiner now, maybe for just a little bit, but my intention is to present the facts as they are. When the children became adults, thanks to the ease of 21st century travel, their endless curiosity and their ability to successfully combine career and exploration, they both became moving targets. That’s the good news and the distance news.

I have had no choice but to get used to it. Nepal, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Canada, London, Singapore, Yemen, Guatemala, Kurdistan, Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Panama, The Philippines, Bali, Bhutan, Antarctica, New Zealand, Poland, Turkey, Greece, Africa, Madagascar, and the list goes on. I’m sure I have forgotten some. Oh yes I am very proud! They say the best gift you can give your children is wings, and I was able to do that. This has really been something to watch unfold and I do at times live vicariously through their adventures. It has always positively influenced my art – the stories! the photos! the people they meet! the exotic gifts brought home for me! What a joy it has been to observe! But there are always a couple days here and there when I think, ok that’s enough now. Come home. Stay. Don’t move. Get over it.

But where IS home? Ah that is the catch. They have made homes everywhere to the point where home is not anywhere and yet it is everywhere. And of course I am moving my headquarters – yes me – “house and home” is moving again – a happy move from California back to Denver in mid-July. The saying goes, “Bloom where you are planted.” And I always do. The pieces of the re-location puzzle, looking backward, always make perfect sense in retrospect. An experience in one place affords you a stepping stone to your next move and the ways in which you will continue to be productive there. This time, based upon my three years of teaching adult art classes here in California (on top of literally a lifetime of painting) plus some particular life-long passions and affinities,  and having friends who share them, I see a magnificent possibility on my horizon based out of my new Denver headquarters. As I look back on things I realize that my art has always presented the path that has taken me where I wanted to go. It is my soul’s home place and my anchor. At this point my next adventure is  too far off to be specific about – but too close not to begin moving toward it. This will be my best move yet, and when the dust settles, you will be the first ( well maybe the second) to know what happens! I do believe that everything in my life has brought me to this….this position of strength.


The painting is by Jo Ann Brown-Scott, titled Strength from her Soul Flags series.


The Creative Epiphany – A Moving Experience

stuffbrushesartpaperskitchennative  Were you listening when I told you I was moving? If you didn’t quite get the enormity of that statement – if you can’t imagine the chaos and the boxes and the agony of the process – the stacks of stuff that don’t deserve to move to Colorado measured against the stacks of stuff that get to go – or if you have not done this recently, in this new century,  then I bet you are clueless. After moving out here to northern CA. in 2006 with my husband’s job transfer and settling right in, thinking I would be here for the duration, I proceeded to bloom where I was planted, as the saying goes. I really did bloom. I have loved being in California. But my husband died, other family members shifted from their Tahoe location to a more exotic locale and so now I am ready to return to Colorado. This time truly for the duration. I am so busy that it’s hard to justify taking the time to make a blog entry.

I am working my way through this 3 bedroom house, including an art studio filled to the gills with paint, brushes, collage papers and canvases, books and art teaching materials. I have a kitchen where a lot of cooking actually happened – these days you see gorgeous kitchens looking like no one ever even boils (a yummy pan of) water in them. There are dishes here for several different types of family meals, both casual and elegant. Linens – I love nice bed linens. Towels must be comfy and thick and plentiful. Art? Are you kidding me? Every wall was arranged with art. Sculpture done by my father and even me, including a tall skinny Massai type woman who I sculpted in college – she has lost her head several times in various moves (I have almost done the same) and I always glue it back on, because where I go, she goes. Masks and tribal finds from Africa and continuing unique gifts from my children’s trips, and those kids of mine don’t go just anywhere. Well actually they will go just about anywhere – one of them is on his second passport now and the other one has 40 countries under her belt. They bring me the weird and wonderful un-noticed items that only they would know I will love. An amazing hunk of stone from Yemen that resembles a petrified brain, if you can imagine that. Taken from the ground in a land of nothing but sand. A nice-sized chip from an ancient pot, gathered from an historic southwestern place where such pieces still casually litter the ground. Both from my son of course. A beautifully embroidered, little bit dirty sleeve of a tribal dress, sold at a market in the hill country of Viet Nam. Just the sleeve, because you see they throw nothing way. So I have this sleeve, which I cherish, from my daughter who knew I would put it out somewhere and honor the intricate beauty of it and that I would also leave it lovingly dirty with authentic Vietnamese soil. Just a few of my treasures collected over a full lifetime. It all has to fit into a truck. Driven by someone I do not know from a hole in the wall. Will he be sober? Does he drive too fast? How’s his vision? Can I please just meet him and look him in the eye before he takes off across Utah and Wyoming with all my things? He has to go over Donner Pass into Reno, then those Utah salt flats, then through that desolate part of Wyoming…

The other night I dreamed that my moving truck went off a cliff. All was lost. My globe-traveling son would hold me in higher esteem if I had fewer possessions – he admires those who live quite simply. He doesn’t own a TV. Even my daughter has  streamlined her environment since she and her husband have begun to live abroad; it is a scary crazy thing to move an entire household of your goods in containers stacked up like chicken crates on the outside deck of a rusty old ship headed across an ocean. Still I have my own humble concerns about the journey  my things will take. I would hate to experience the simple life as a result of my truck going off a cliff. But I am sure I would survive and maybe be the better for it. Although maybe not. I would try to be better for it but…it would be hard to live without my special rock and my tribal sleeve.