2021 Review - Art Biz + A Course in Miracles
Dec 31, 2021
Here is my 2021 in review. I highly doubt many people care to read all of this but writing it was catharic and taught me so much about what the year looks from the outside looking in. Because when I'm in - I'm only doing and on to the next. Wishing you a safe and happy New Years Eve.
Some of the biggest changes for me this year are because of the course that I started last January. In 2012 my friend Bif got me a gigantic purple book for my 29th birthday. It was titled A Course in Miracles. He told me “From this day forward, now you know about The Course.” I cried that day, thinking I could surely use some miracles. I believed that if I read that book my entire life would transform. At nearly a thousand pages, all of the text bold and tiny and the rice-like paper thin like a bible. I was determined to learn what it meant to teach.
That book might as well have been written in Japanese - I couldn’t make any sense of it and quickly gave up. I moved probably 30 times between 2012 and 2021 - I have gotten rid of everything I own in many many layers - but for whatever reason I kept that giant purple book that I didn’t know how to read- lugging it all over Las Vegas and Southern California for 11 years.
Back in 2017 Kevin and I were visiting Colorado for a friend's wedding. We met a yoga friend of Kevins for dinner at a packed Vietnamese restaurant in Boulder, Colorado. I was a very anxious person by nature, especially if it involved social interaction with someone I’ve never met and going to a restaurant - let alone both at the same time. I remember the overwhelming sense of calm when we met with Kevins friend. Everything felt grounded and as if it were happening in perfect order. It was surreal. He was speaking to us about doing The Course every year and going to Egypt. I quickly interrupted “I have that book!! I’ve had it forever.” “Yes, lots of people have the books.” He said. In that moment I could think of nothing more exotic and fascinating than going to an Egyptian mystery school in Egypt, or finally figuring out what the purple book says. Which of course I quickly separated myself from. That was not possible for a girl like me. I could barely sit for dinner.
At the end of 2020 I had started going to a group meditation with my dear friend Ralph O. Everything he teaches comes from The Course. I told him “I have that book!!” I remember the smile on his face as he also said “Yes a lot of people have the book.” I sat on the beach that day talking with him on the phone about how I was very serious about doing The Course. In the distance, there were about five pods of four dolphins. I told him. He said “Yes. It is incredible what we can create when our vision is where it is supposed to be.”
So I attempted to start the course myself on my own. I only got about 18 days into the lessons until it fell apart and I couldn’t continue. The language again felt like Japanese. I felt so defeated. I knew that I was meant to know what that book teaches, but I couldn’t get it together. It happened to be December 22nd. I remembered our friend in Boulder Colorado and reached out to him to see if he was doing the course with his group online this year. As it so happened, he was, and there was an orientation on 12/26 for the January 1, 2021 start.
I went back and forth in my head a million times contemplating going, up until the very last minute. I remember not even breathing on that first call because I was so afraid I would look dumb. The truth is I am afraid of everything and it’s opposite so the thought of joining a large group online studying a course that I can’t make any sense of or even read was really scary to my ego. Sometimes I am so afraid of failing at things I talk myself out of even trying but - given the ridiculous surprise success of selling my art I have learned to take more risks.
That first call was like - No processed sugar. No caffeine. No red meat. When they said that I thought “There is no way.” But the path is a funny thing. They said read your lesson, listen to the podcast, meditate, journal, read the section of the text assigned for the day. Every single morning. If you miss a day, you cannot continue and have to start next year. I couldn’t believe I was setting myself up for this kind of failure but I went ahead and started. I was told “Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t follow through with it. That is a massive undertaking.” But the discipline they had. The way they simply said - if something comes up and you can’t show up, you created that, and your priorities lie elsewhere. It was so simple. Nobody had ever told me I created my own choices before in that way.
And then a miracle happened. I stopped eating sugar and consuming caffeine. It was pretty rough for a few weeks but with those changes I was able to slow down and actually make sense of the text and lessons I was reading.But I was determined to understand that damn book. In our weekly meeting I was so afraid to even speak because everyone seemed so advanced and brilliant, but eventually I started to open my mouth. I mean being completely unlawful most of the time because I didn’t understand the universal law part yet. They embraced me with love and acceptance anyway. I have so far to go with actually understanding or applying the law to everything I think say and do - but I have started. By started I mean I have a vague sense of remembering.
Somehow, I stayed with it. I held on for dear life just trying to make sense of the book and show up to my practices every day. There are all of these perceptions that The Course is religious or about Jesus ,and it isn’t. It is written in metaphor for what happened before time even began so the language is limited.
I got to go to Egypt with my master teacher. I wanted to go so much and kept thinking of ways to come up with the money etc. All they did was laugh slightly and say “Just set your intention and the rest will fall into place.” I felt like yeah right. But I set my intention. And our entire life shifted, and suddenly we had a bunch of money. And I got to go. I’ll never forget the moment for as long as I live - my master teacher handing me my travel Visa in Cairo and looking seemingly completely through me to my core, smiling and saying “Welcome to Egypt. You made it.”
It never made sense to me why nobody that had gone would ever speak about it, until I saw, felt and understood the information and experience for myself. “You will never be the same” I was told - and that felt so vast and impossible. But she was right. And that is the only way I can describe it. I will never be the same, and I will always be on my way back to Egypt. For me my first year with The Course and all of my classes with my Master Teacher I learned what I am. Where I am from. Why I keep coming here. I learned about what forgiveness actually means and why it is the only true foundation for inner peace. I learned that there is no order of difficulty in miracles - and that if it came to me it came from me first and I’m living out the karma of being on the receiving end. Which really takes the huzzah out of always playing the victim. I learned about my higher self and where my true salvation comes from. I learned I don’t have to worry about what is happening next or try to control what my life will be.
“Want what comes. Instead of what you think you want.”
I also don’t hold onto memories like I used to. I’ve gotten very good at documenting every single aspect of my business - however when it comes to my personal life I can’t remember what I did yesterday or who I talked to let alone a week or month ago. My “story” or more specifically - my perception of what happened- doesn't matter. I have no space mentally for it. Which is an accomplishment - unless I’m trying to locate my amex card for the 50th time. I used to think the circumstances of my life and how I had responded to them were my identity. Nothing could be farther from that. And that’s a relief to say the least. I also don’t have to attach and react emotionally to what insanity is going on in the world. The world is always going to be worlding, whether I react emotionally to it or not. I can really save my energy.
In January of 2021 I was a mess about the insurrection. I was so distraught about the world I was living in I made a six part series that night titled Of the Light. Of the Light comes from reading Murray Hope in 2011 and getting Of the Light tattooed on my left arm. (Spoiler it’s what the beings of light she channels tell her they are.) The day I got that tattoo I went to my very first Bikram yoga class. I still had the cellophane on my arm. I was determined to make angelic, sparkly art that looked like heaven on January 6th of last year. They all sold except one, that I gifted to a baby. I also painted Amanda Gorman reciting her poem The Hill We Climb on inauguration day. I named that painting Broken Together. 11 months later, the painting sold.
February 2021 - I created and sold all of a three part series titled Red Rock. The burnt oranges, bright aquas and whites were effortless to work with. I painted them listening to my sponsor speak in a meeting. This series taught me that if I take extraordinary aspects of my life experience that contain a lot of great energy the painting can get her movement and overall effect concisely and with grace. I loved that series. I’m proud of it. Also that month I created The Sorcerer's Apprentice, living in Chicago. She was a dark blue, black, white and starry dream for a family that gets a lot of their magic from their musical talents. The best part of that was seeing the grand piano (that matched the painting) that the painting will live by. I learned a lot about my technical process with that painting because pushing the line of it being “good enough” but risking making it better was long. In the end, I took the risks and made something so special.
March 2021 - “The War is Over You Lost” - One of my favorite paintings/ concepts and stories I have ever created. My best friend since kindergarten is a gifted therapist and counselor - the painting hangs in her office and tells the story of perseverance through adversity, and making the art and a life out of it anyway. I made another blue one that month that I titled “Suits” and that is one of the strongest narratives to go along with the art that I have ever made. The painting was all about me trying to wear a blue suit. It sold within the hour of posting. Bohemian Dandelion, (Gypsy of the Flowers) is my favorite title of a painting I’ve ever made. That was a painting that I was SO excited about creating the concept and actual painting for but when I went to sell it it did not sell for quite a while. I was very sad about that and questioning my future a lot because I saw so much magic in that painting. I also learned that yellow paintings that are sparkly are impossible to photograph. She sold a few months later to the perfect person. So it all worked out.
April 2021 - Stardust and Rose. An accomplishment - The angels on the other side will still grace me with their specific presence, if I listen enough. Earth Air Water. A massive victory - felt like a homecoming to parts of myself that I forgot all about meeting my current self here in San Diego on the water. Portrait of the Guardians - one of the most personal family pieces of art I have created and of course - Hope for the Flowers. The portrait of my love for my Daughter and her family. I even got two butterfly tattoos on my arm for that one. Looking back on April I have no idea how I put out that much work plus everything else I made. But each of those paintings was an incredible turning point in my technical learning and development. I walked through so much fear to make Hope for the Flowers. It was the painting where Kevin walked in and said “If I come into the room and you are sobbing, should I try to comfort you or just let you cry?” Sometimes so much energy comes up in my physical body when I am painting that all I can do is let it come out as tears. It’s almost like an out of body experience - again maintaining a shift into a healing frequency.
May 2021 - I AM. Learning that I can create art that heals. My friend and collector Shannon has a way with words - of defining what I do in ways that are so beautiful I could never dare imagine. This painting has a beloved antique frame, crushed glass, all of it.It was a birthday gift from her husband. They are probably my favorite couple. We set up dinner in my art studio and surprised her. It was wonderful. Eventually I will release a whole collection with incredible framing called “Pondtiques” but not this month. I also created “Taken By The Sky” - this painting specifically taught me how powerfully I can create and define a person's frequency with a piece of my art. I listened to “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac like 200 times making that painting because I wanted the art to look like that song feels. I was so intent on finding the perfect title, asking myself what on Earth to call the painting as Stevie Nicks sang “taken by the sky” like eight times at the end of the song. One of the highlights of my year was going to Manhattan and seeing the painting again in her new home. Manhattan took my breath away. I loved it there so much. The art. The fountains. The buildings and scaffolding. The views and doormen and elevators and trash on the sidewalk. The pulse and way google maps just is sort of off by a few blocks. Being lost in some TWA airport or something from the 60s where everything looked like a red submarine. And then the drive to JFK from lower manhattan at 5pm on a Friday in the heat with no AC in the uber. That was the craziest traffic jam of my life.
June - Diamond Halo. I loved this piece. She got a depth and toughness to her almost right away and it all just worked. I finished this painting right before I left for Egypt. I remember leaving my collectors apartment in this picturesque San Diego neighborhood wondering what was going to happen to me and my art next as I walked down a hill. In Egypt I got to go into the Red Sea every day. I learned so much, and being in the water like, with it’s 40% salt - that me retain it.
July - I made salt water at the desert - a piece about the red sea, as well as never too deep, a 48x60 giant that was a portrait of the bottom of the Red Sea and how to me, it felt like home. The silence of underwater to me, is second to nothing. These two pieces taught me the level that I can take my own experiences and bend them into art- and relate the story to whomever it is for. I also went back to my home town in July to say goodbye to my Aunt. It was a messy, difficult trip. I still have sections of my life experience that can be painful and difficult to navigate. I learned alot about who I still am on that trip. My daughter was the absolute highlight. Her Mom took us to get our nails done at the fanciest salon I’ve ever seen. She showed me all of the clothes she makes and crazy costumes and gowns she collects. She is a wonderful, brilliant adult and the best part of my life. My Grandma met her for the first time and brought pictures to show her of our family.
August - I started playing with stained glass and made Sweet Tides. I could probably never recreate that painting - again it is so perfectly suited for the collector who inspired it. It was the first time in a long time that I did something extremely different and out of my comfort zone. I love that painting because I love whatever spirit it was that came and helped me make it. When I delivered it to Katie I got so lost in her apartment complex. It was the first painting I didn’t want to say goodbye to. I relished that walk with her in the sun, going to all of the wrong doors together. I also made Gate 87 which was an extremely special commission for someone who was a huge inspiration to me growing up. Sometimes the people that get in touch to buy my art shock me. People I don’t think would remember me or follow my work at all. I finally got to properly thank him with the message of that work. We also did all of the professional photography for my website, re-brand and update. Alas - my life long dream of swimming in the ocean in my sequined ball gown came true. That was my main goal for this year - to have professionals build and brand my website. I was so proud that I was able to pay for it all in full. I got to work with a photographer and company that I love.
September - I made Ordinary Saturday Morning. It was a gift for my Godmothers birthday and one of my sharpest and most dynamic pieces to date.I revisited my old friend Liquitex pouring medium and just let go as much as I could. In September Kevin went out of town so I stayed up for a few days painting as many 48x36’s as I could. There is something about having an uninterrupted flow of time and space. I kept going back to Michaels and asking Fred, my Michaels guy to get me down another canvas. Taking time to myself to paint my feelings without the pressure of a concept or story or who it was for was extremely important for me during this time. My art has always been how I process my life but I was losing that ability because now my art is my job. Between July and September I was a disaster. Anxiety, depression, fear, total isolation. Spending a few days alone just painting by myself helped even all of that out. And basically being told by my master teacher hey - you have moved. Get it together. Stand in your power. Stop judging everything - it is your responsibility to maintain the shift. My entire year had been pretty non stop and I was allowing myself to unravel in work.
In October I released my fall drop - six completed paintings that were a collection of art about my life experiences. When I write - my biggest goal is to write the story using all of my senses in the writing. I am the most proud of the writings with each of these six paintings because the stories are my stories about why the paintings came to be. I am finally growing into a willingness to be vulnerable and just be myself. Not who I want to sound like but just me. 4 of them were sold, and I was happy with that. Also in October we finalized my website. I have never been through that kind of process before and it was difficult to speak about everything I wanted changed, but the company coached me through it and everything ended up beyond what I could have imagined.
November was my winter drop - 35 original paintings. Which is as much work as it sounds and beyond. I worked really hard to make opening each painting something special. Cards, marketing etc etc etc. 29 of those paintings sold. It was crazy but it was good for me to be in such a busy task oriented process. Now that I am not tasking like a lunatic 30 days out of the month I am having a hard time adjusting and allowing myself downtime. Downtime is the hardest for me.
December - November was so insane I slept for a bunch of the first half of December and then struggled to motivate myself to create anything. I did come up with one - a 36x36 I named Mahalo for a very special collector and her family. She bought it for her parents and told me how at midnight on Christmas her Mom was insisting her Dad hang it up right then. It’s the things like that that I hope I always remember. What it feels like to be told something like that about something that I made, and how special and happy someone else felt because of it. I also bought an ornament from one of my favorite and most inspiring artists, Carly Wiggers. I remember the first time I saw her instagram. I couldn’t believe how brilliantly put together it all was. I feel so lucky to have something she made that will be a part of every one of my Christmases to come.
Most of all I have finished A Course in Miracles. And all of those brilliant high functioning “scary” people in my group that I was so intimidated by, over the year, became my family. I told them truths about myself and my experience and they embraced me with love and held me to the standard of a master. I am not intimidated anymore I am a part of. Today was my last lesson. I mean I’ll start over again at lesson 1 on Monday. But reading the epilog of that thousand page purple book I carried around with no ability to understand for over a decade was intensely comforting and satisfying. The only way to describe investing in The Course and completing it is like doing the work to shed 7 layers of skin and finding the truth of connection and illumination underneath it all.
When I look back at month to month highlights of this year - my wish is that for next year I will operate with less fear and more self assurance. Nobody is going to take my talent away from me except for me. I do not have to be in fear that this will all just go away. Anything that I need to figure out I will learn. I have a lot of goals for the upcoming year - things I will write out more carefully tomorrow.
Thank you to my Husband for supporting me every step of the way in every way. The immaculate and the ugly - you talk me through it all. Your emotional intelligence sets you apart from any other person I have ever known. You give me the space when I need it and forgive me always, even when I don’t deserve it. You work profoundly hard so that I can have the freedom to walk forward onto this path - and not a day goes by that I don’t notice and thank you for everything you do for all of us.
Thank you Esak and Katherine for holding so much sacred space for so many of us this year, and the collective that contributed to that space.
Thank you Rich and Janet Waves for all of your eloquent love, enthusiasm and encouragement.
Thank you Laura G for your love, wisdom and encouragement, and always for telling me the truth. Cheryl M for all of those texts about nothing that mean so much, Jillian F for showing me that it’s all working, and Michelle L for being my sister forever and understanding our home and families. Thank you KO for believing in me fiercely and with such power, and Nicole J for keeping it real with me when I’m losing my mind.
Thank you to my Mom for loving me so much and being my biggest cheerleader, and my Sister for really validating my career and taking the time to be so excited and supportive of my art despite the busiest life ever.
And thank you to every single person that purchased and supported my art this year. As I always write on my art -I promise to keep working as hard as I can to ensure your faith in me will be an extremely wise investment in the future. Happy New Year. May every year of my life be walking through the fear only to learn that it is but an illusion I have created. From the light. Through the dark. Back out to the light.
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Michelle Griffith / Jan 31, 2022 at 16:30
Everytime we buy a piece of your Art it tells a story. Thank you for being you. Keep shining that light my friend. This world needs it! ❤
Cor / Jan 31, 2022 at 16:30
It’s really awesome to read about where you are now in life.
I am so profoundly happy for you. You are such an amazing person and old soul. I’m forever grateful that I met you, and whenever I see your art, it speaks to me. I still love your writing, too.
You are, and will always be, an inspiration to me.
Happy New Year,
May u make art that continues to touch people, and may you
continue on your path.
Linda Corradin / Dec 31, 2021 at 16:35
Heather, you have accomplished so much this year and inbetween the light and dark and light, you have learned to keeping moving forward and accomplishing your goals. Your iinner peace reflects on your love for Kevin, your family and friends and your beautiful art is the love in your heart aging through. Thank you! Love you so very much!
Sally Stanley / Dec 31, 2021 at 16:35
Absolutely beautiful 🤩 I love you and how you put things on paper and canvass.