Mid-year Check-in: rest, death, art and gratitude, with both feet in

Asheville exploration, door, mid-year check-in, Hali Karla Arts It's been awhile since I wrote a post just checking in with what is up over here in the Hali Karla Arts studio and life. I guess when I think about it, there's been a lot going on behind the scenes this year, and I'm not sure which parts I'm going to share - so let's just dive in and see what comes up.... (play along with the following questions if you like)

What am I grateful for? What has been hard? What has changed? What seeds are being planted? What feels exciting?

Today, I am grateful to be an artist. To have all the ways to express - ways that I love - music, painting, writing, moving, sharing. It almost always feels like a blessing now - which is different than an old story I used to carry... maybe you know the one, the "Just an Artist" story that our culture helps develop in us, and that we then inadvertently feed if we're not careful. Instead, it now feels full, empowering, energetic. What a relief to own who we are, one layer at a time, eh?

I'm grateful to live in a place surrounded by so much lush natural beauty - it holds me, nourishes me, helps me remember what matters.

This year, again and again, I am reminded to cherish and savor each moment with a loved one - their voice, their stories, their laughter, their touch, the way we get to share space for moments in time. I am *so* grateful for the strong, creative circle of wise women in my life.

I'm also grateful to be deepening my understanding of what it means to let things work through presence, and to responsibly carry medicine, often intended for others - delivered not through my effort or control, but through showing up to my truth, devotion and a practice in faith.

There is peace in this. Rest.

Rest is the essence of giving and receiving. Hali Karla Arts

I'll be honest - this year has been as hard as it has been beautiful. Death is a theme... and therefore, choosing to remember that death is a part of life and the process of something greater, even when it feels cruel, or like not-enough-time... and doesn't it almost always? As I write that - it helps me see, with more tenderness, why some days (more than usual) have felt especially hard to keep things together, to stay focused, to get things started, to keep up with the day-to-day and even the things I want to be doing and creating.

Grief needs a different pace to process, and it asks us to acknowledge this by drawing our attention both inward and outward in new ways of seeing and finding meaning. From my days as a hospice nurse, I know the best mantra here: Gentle, Gentle, Gentle 

There is no end to the energy of life and spirit, just different forms.


What has changed? mmm... blind spots moving into view. Not always effortlessly or without discomfort! And this is work that quiets.

I finally released that nursing license a few months ago. Taking away plan B feels right - and scary - and exciting. Even though I hadn't practiced in a few years, that final decision shifted something about my resolve... related to getting over the "just an artist" thing, maybe? I think so.

Feels more like walking my talk, living my truth - that being an artist is not a side thing for me. It's not even just a thing I 'do.' It is who I am. It is how I live, and how I connect with Source. It is how I show up and create, how I see and relate and serve my self and others. It is how I fill the well and overflow. It is more than enough... in fact, it is absolutely the best thing ever for me.

Every artist has a different way of expressing and reconciling this... my way is fully committed. For the long haul. For better or for worse, in all the ways this artist's journey will continue to grow, shift, integrate and express.

Work in process? For sure.

I'm in, both feet. (What relief I feel in that - exciting, scary relief). And maybe you remember this journal piece from before... I feel like I get it now... it was a paint doodle with a message.

art journal, intuitive feet, Hali Karla

I suppose this declaration of commitment to being an artist may read like a surprise to some (like, duh? of course, right?) - especially if you're newer here (welcome!). People often reflect to me how grounded I seem, how I seem to have it together, be so confident, doing well with what and how I share and offer as an artist.

And it's not un-true - I am those things... but I really have had to work for it, and I think that is what is worth noting. I continue to work for it, to choose it.

Other news... I have also been in learning mode. I love being a student as much as I love sharing and teaching! I am finishing up a Certificate in Spirituality and Healing - which was something I started as continuing education for nursing, but am finishing up just for me - because nursing was always about care-giving through spiritual and healing processes for me anyway. And both are certainly creative processes, as far as I can tell.

I have been slowly working my way through several fantastic art classes, as well - I'm really interested in returning to some of my fine-art roots and seeing how my intuitive practice and approach from the past few years will now receive freshly tuned technical skills, rendering and practice-with-purpose. Part of this has become about spending more time observing the natural world again. Which feeds all the facets of my soul. Yay for alignment!

portrait study, Hali Karla

It is an ongoing river of expansion - and trial and error - when it comes to learning about running a sustainable, creative business centered in my values and vision. I'm grateful for this - and still interested, thankfully! So I've been honing my skills and awareness around this, as well, this year.

In the interest of wanting to serve at my best when I offer courses and my experience, I am also finishing up Jen Louden's Teach NOW course from this Spring. It is a really great course, with loads of insight from inspiring people - and has definitely helped me center and get clear in new ways for how I approach unconventional teaching. I can feel it working magic on course and workshop ideas I've had for years now... taking me from overwhelm to do-able in quality ways.

... so for seeds being planted? Future art programs, maybe a few in-person opportunities coming up! too, and... (breathing deep)... many have asked over the last few years - there seems to be a retreat wanting to surface for next year, as well.

Other seeds... some travel... some collaborations with magic sisters and grandmothers... and a constantly renewed devotion to living simply, clearing the clutter, making space, nourishing holistically through choices and presence (to self first, then to others - some of us have to keep learning this one for burn-out prevention), being open to the process of an artist's life being what it will be, with trust. I am hoping to reach out and become more involved with some local creative efforts as well, or starting some.

Spectrum and 21 SECRETS continue to blow me away - and while hardly seeds anymore, they continue to gather amazing artists, and to grow and show their beauty and magic to inspire, awaken and evoke creativity and healing.

Mimosas picked in Asheville, Hali KArla Arts

And finally, to finish up the questions I started with... what feels exciting?

Making art. Making life art. Letting myself be swept away in the seeing, discovering and channeling.

Connecting with like-minded creatives and exchanging energy, vision, ideas, inspiration, support. Being part of creating sustainable livelihoods for other artists.

Playing my music loud, all the time and singing along. Whole and colorful foods in my body, spaciousness on my calendar, getting to see my beloved family in a few days, and regular quiet time with mother nature, listening.

This ended up feeling like a free-flow, mid-year check-in. I like that. Maybe I'll do it with the seasons.

Have you checked in with your heart and year this month, now that we're on the start of the second half of 2015? Feel free to declare an answer to one of those questions here if you like. It helps to write it out, feel it flow, see it take shape in words of intention and recognition.

As always, thank you for your presence and connection.