Well hello, hello
my intrepid, awesome, beautiful family and friends!
Happy holidays and much love, peace, connection, joy AND a plethora of all good things your way, as we head rapidly towards a brand new year!!
I know some of you may have begun to think that I had fallen off the edge of the blogosphere and others have been following along with my topsy turvy 2016 journey on Instagram and Facebook, sending so much love and support my way, that I have spent the better part of my year utterly astonished and grateful for this tribe that I belong to so intrinsically.
I'm going to keep this recap post MUCH shorter than previous years. Not because it has been any less incredible but because I am partially on a PAUSE and that means tending to my own self care and stepping back a little from the crazy pace I have set for myself these past few years.
As usual though, my favorite part of writing this end of year post is that I get to host a GIANT GIVEAWAY in gratitude for all of YOU!!
And all you have to do is leave me a comment below letting me know something that you have been grateful for in 2016.
This year I am giving away 12 gifts valued at $1600!!
(please share on social media and then tell me how many times you did for extra chances to win)
* 6 spots in the upcoming January session of my wildly popular Paint Mojo ecourse. Over 1400 students have now taken part in this class and I have received amazing testimonials from many on how it has changed their creative worlds!
*4 spots in my Mini Mojo classes (you get to choose which one!)
*TWO original paintings from my wise and wonky owl series. these little owls have literally been selling within minutes, sometimes seconds of posting on FB and instagram and I would love you to be the lucky winner of one!
These ones have already flown off to their new homes but the winners will get to choose their own colours!
Paint Mojo the ecourse starts on Jan 20th and runs for six weeks. I would love you to join me even if you don't win a spot!
A special early bird registration of $197 will be available on Jan 1st. You can sign up to be kept in the loop on this class and all of my other artsy news right here.
So let me share just a little of my 2016......
It started off so beautifully.
We had just arrived home from an epic 9 months teaching tour around the globe and I was greeted by our beautiful girls and Santana's sweet man Jacob AND the huge surprise of an incredible makeover they had pulled off on my studio!
We were loving being with our girls and Jacob and the kitties AND a houseful of visiting brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews over Christmas and New Year!
There seemed to be a pattern this year of overwhelming contrast.
Of deep emotions both joyous and heartwrenching.
Like one day I'm cuddling a baby wombat for the first time in my life....
The next I'm helping my baby girl pack up all of her belongings and move three hours away leaving us with an empty nest....
Like one minute I'm backstage in Sydney meeting my dear friend Liz Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic fame, in person, for the first time, and totally hanging out by the washing machine and all!!
and next minute I'm having a mammogram because I've found a lump, two weeks before I'm heading off for my next three month teaching tour
and then suddenly I'm on the road again, firstly at my favorite art retreat Art Is You in Santa Rosa, Ca
then on to nine other venues across the country including Jenny Doh's amazing Crescendoh studio in Santa Ana. It's fitting that my first two workshops in the U.S this year were held in cities named after saints because I was about to be calling out to every Saint I could think of!
As I made my way across the country, navigating medical phone calls and results from ultrasounds and biopsies, far from home and running the gamut of emotions between uncertainty, dread, hope and optimism, my dear hosts, all of them close friends, held the space for me, loving me and giving me the behind the scenes care that allowed me to keep on teaching.
I taught in some incredible spaces, like this amazing hangar in Dallas and my students, as usual, filled my heart with such joy that most of the time, I was able to be present in the moment, enjoying the beautiful space we were creating together.
(Those beautiful mala beads I am wearing are another treasured gift from my dear friend Marti)
I met up with mi amor in Taos, for a three day romantic rendez-vous, and we hiked and soaked and ate and wandered and filled our spirits with each other. We bought a giant love heart drum, found several heart rocks while hiking to an abandoned mica mine and I was mesmerised by a beautiful photo by Taos artist Zoe Zimmerman of a bare breasted, blindfolded woman next to a beautiful horse at the Love Apple restaurant.
We decided that somehow, everything would be okay.
In Miami we were blessed to spend time with my beautiful Aunt Robbie and her sweet family. We've only known each other for 4 years since I met my biological father in 2012 but it feels like forever. Robbie and her husband Luis bundled us up, connected me with the most beautiful breast cancer care nurse Tania, who I believe is secretly an angel, and within days I was having a fine needle biopsy at South Miami Baptist Breast Center. (Man this is hard to describe in so few words!)
Tania and I are working on a plan for me to come volunteer a workshop for some of the patients there in 2018.
In Melbourne Florida I returned to teach at the most wholeheARTed venue I know; Art Is More, and this truly amazing group of women waited with me on Day one of the workshop for the results of the biopsy, and then, danced and cried and laughed and painted abundantly with me for the next two days, after the results came back as cancer. Truly, truly, truly, being with this group at this time gave me such strength and hope and love and I am sooooooo grateful to these women.
The magical demo painting that came out of our time together remained there in Melbourne with my dear friend Sherri and was appropriately titled "She Tribe"
and on I went, across the country to finish off several more workshops (will share a little more on those over the next few days as I announce daily winners) before returning home to Australia for surgery. Two tumours were removed successfully, I started on hormone blocking medication to prevet recurrence, and my oncologists decided that it was okay to postpone radiation until after we returned home from my Bali commitments in September
and then I made some BIG decisions about 2017
so in August I posted this to FB
Isn't the Universe just so freakin miraculous!!!??
So on we went to the paradise that is Bali and the contrasts continued... a week of bliss with group number one...I mean teaching art in the pool!!! It doesn't get much better than that!
watching the sun rise with mi amor, grateful for each new day....
dinners on the beach with amazing women ( and one equally amazing man).....aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!
So many amazing memories!
And yes. the contrast. Right in the middle, between two week long retreats, I had factored in a week off, you know, the self care thing I was talking about?
Instead, both mi amor and I became horribly ill, were diagnosed with Dengue fever and end up in hospital for the ENTIRE week between classes!
Special, special thanks to my wonderful friends/students Laura and Kelley who were staying on for a few days after retreat number one and stepped up to get all the goody bags ready for the incoming students while I was in hospital! A MASSIVE thank you also to the sweet students from retreat number two for allowing me naps and swim breaks when I needed them.
You all rock so much!!
and then it was home
to begin 30 sessions of radiation over six weeks
I kept my eyes open for simple beauty and everyday miracles and I found them in the conversations I had with the women in this waiting room....
In the walks that mi amor and I took on the beach before treatment and the sand art created by little roaming clams....
In the sky where I looked to the heavens each day to give thanks as I left the Cancer care center.
and in the eyes of our two beautiful girls who trusted in all the best possible outcomes and gift me every day with their love.
and then, it was done.
and here I am, in this home we have created together over the past twenty years.
Each day I begin with gratitude in my heart, for every part of this year, in all of its messiness and unplanned detours, in all of its poignancy and imperfection.
In all of its loving deep contrast
I wish you all so much happiness in this coming year. It seems 2016 has been tough for many, transforming in many ways, challenging us to step into a higher version of ourselves.
I found these beautiful words from Gandhi so moving and perfect for this time and so I offer them to you all
ps don't forget to leave me a comment below. I'll be drawing winners daily for the next three days!