reView and inSight

to arrive where we started

…to arrive where we started… Hali Karla Arts: Cultivating Creative Practice with Spirit
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
— T. S. Eliot

If it’s a journey - this thing called life - and if that journey had a shape, it’s shape would be a spiral, I believe.

We can find ourselves drawn to and wrestling with themes that only become apparent, as a pattern of sorts, with some decades behind us. Hopefully each return to a personal life theme brings us to it with new depth and perspective, and it to us with new revelations we have been prepared to receive.

Hopefully, we can meet each encounter with our life themes with a wisdom that does not lose the wonder of seeing with fresh eyes and participating with our whole self.

I have become less and less enamored by the shift of one calendar year into the next, but I do love the chance to reflect, re-center and refresh my awareness and focus with intention. It’s all too easy for me to just float by through the days, otherwise.

And I have to say, as far as 2018 goes, I’m rather happy to see it behind me.

It was a year of internal healing and slow-processing in a very deep, personally transformational way. A return to revisiting old, deep wounds, trauma and conditioning. A tough patch on the spiral in a way I didn’t have words for, and still don’t… but that eventually dissolved another layer of unhelpful debris picked up along my way.

I could say the healing was strictly due to my brilliant, determined effort alone - or someone else’s support - but the truth is, it was a timing and grace that had nothing to do with what I would’ve preferred or planned. And while I did work hard at it at times, my uncertain efforts to just get through the grayness in one piece, still able to show up to the stuff of daily living, would not have been enough… I was down deep in the rabbit hole, my friends, just focusing on getting by without dropping the balls most important to me.

So this feeling of being on the other side finally, of the spell being lifted and my creative drive returning… I can attribute it to nothing other than the indiscernible but infinitely wise rhythm of Creator’s will, and the little kindnesses and tidbits of wisdom placed in the hearts and words of those put on my path this past year or two.

So in moving forward with this New Year - and with a revived creative energy that I thought would never come, I think a little Hali Karla Arts retrospect and projection is due, to ready the way for the vision of sharing and connecting that has been placed in my heart.

my top nine from my creative process - Hali Karla Arts


I like the what went well/what didn’t review model. It’s simple.

As I began to list mine out, I noticed the same things were often on both lists, with a twist - ha! Nothing is black and white.

Perspective and nuance is everything… and everything is connected, after all.

Here we go… (this is a tad long, friends - consider yourself warned and invited. Cuppa tea?)

2018 :: what went well + what didn’t

IN THE STARS PROGRAM & READINGS ::

The participants in my year-long program of 2017 and 2018 filled my heart again and again… the conversations and questions behind-the-scenes and when we got together… so good and real and deep. My kind of conversation.

The exploration of astrology, leading us to practical ways of being better people, accepting and celebrating how we were made, encouraging our growth as needed, and connecting with our spiritual truths… so good. I ran this year-long program for two years, and it gave me the chance to deepen my learning by sharing it, and to learn from the brilliant creative souls who showed up to learn with me. I got to be a more diligent student and become a better teacher.

I am so so grateful for the exploration time and all it has inspired, healed and re-awakened in me and others.

I also learned that teaching a year-long program that weighed heavily on the information side of things is not what fills my own creative well, long-term… so I don’t plan to run this program this way again.

I need more balance/emphasis on the creative side of things… with the esoteric, deep, healing, spiritual stuff, for sure! But astrology is a huge field, and it can easily keep us so in our analytical heads, especially when we are trying to learn how to speak the nuts-and-bolts of the language - because there are many.

Astrology is a beautifully rich tool when it’s used wisely with discernment, and has enriched my perspective and what I have to offer as a teacher and creative encourager, but it ends up that teaching the language is just a part of my journey, not the ultimate what-I’m-here-to-do thing (if there is even such an ultimate one-thing for folks like me).

Just because you’re good, doesn’t mean you should… Wise words I once heard; seems to be a theme in my life.

I’m an immersive, intuitive soul… and it seems I’m being led into the next phase of my journey - another twist and return on that spiral of my life - so I need to stay present and true to that guiding energy and allow space for the next immersion.

As for birth chart translations (readings) - I discovered I really love doing them for other soulful creative types, and connecting via this symbolic language that speaks to the heart of how we are each made beautifully whole, are how we are for a reason, and carry certain gifts waiting to serve and shine into our lives and the lives of those we encounter. It is a healing tool, I have no doubt, because I’ve witnessed it time and time again. Feedback for my readings has been equally fulfilling and insightful.

RETURN TO SIMPLE METHODS FOR HKA Creative business ONLINE STUFF ::

I moved my website to Squarespace from self-hosted Wordpress… best.decision.ever.

When I started on WP it made way more sense with what was available, but now it’s a different game online. I no longer have to worry about updates, plugins, the hack issue that seemed to happen 1-2 times per year, or paying someone else thousands of bucks to change, fix or update my site as needed. Seriously… this was a bit of work to transfer a 7 year old site + blog with hundreds of posts and thousands of pictures, but a really good move for someone who wants more time creating with less overhead and stress in the biz side of things.

Other good changes on the creative business side: ConvertKit! I used to use Mailchimp, but ConvertKit (now Seva)… well, converted me completely. It costs a few bucks more, but every function it gives me is beyond worth those extra dollars.

[Is this business stuff boring you to death? I get it! Skip down to the next topic.]

I also switched a few things over to a simpler, safer payment processor - Gumroad - that seems to actually care about small-scale creatives and artists. They are great for digital/audio goods, art products, integrate with sites well, and payments happen every two weeks with some of the lowest transaction fees you’ll find. Oh - and they handle VAT for you, too - yes, please. I highly recommend checking out Gumroad if this is something that relates to you.

I tried out Teachable for my online courses in 2018 - which is a pretty great learning platform with some good perks, and great for some online teachers, I’m sure - but not for me right now. Every class on Teachable looks the same within, and I start to get that feeling of stepping into a class in a flourescent lit room in some old high school or something… a bit generic. I’m also always a little nervous about loading my content files onto someone else’s platform… what if I want to leave? Can I export easily… doesn’t appear so… glad I hosted my stuff elsewhere - phew! And they don’t handle VAT for you - or will, but you have to upgrade upgrade upgrade. It hasn’t helped my business necessarily, and certainly hasn’t helped my time management as a one-woman show who wants to stay small-but-sustainable. Just more admin back-end upkeep, in another location, increasing my screen-time. I can offer great ecourses and ebooks way simpler. Seems like starting your own “school” site with memberships and such is all the rage… there are SO.MANY to choose from (helllloooo, overwhelm… anyone feel me here?).

It’s a fine path for some, but for now, I like to think of HKA as a little mom-and-pop sort of diner… some of those really do survive when we support them. And they’re usually the best places for a good meal and more personable interaction.

So come on by, have a seat and enjoy yourself - I’m so glad you’re here - and do kindly tell your friends. ;-)

Those are just a few examples of my simplify-the-creative biz/focus mission in 2018… if you are interested in learning more about some online creative biz decisions I’ve tried, made and changed over the past 8 years, let me know in the comments or via the contact form. I’m open to doing a call about that if there’s enough interest. It’s not something that interests everyone here, but this is the real behind-the-scenes shit for those of us figuring out and changing with this new territory for creative livelihood.

MY PRAYER PRACTICE & SPIRITUAL FORMATION ::

This is more personal, but it’s also the basis for how I run Hali Karla Arts and what I’m being led to create or be present with. And how I navigate… life.

As I mentioned, 2018 sucked for me in some big, internal ways you would never see just by looking at me or my feeds… but what kept my head above water, as I went through these changes within, was my weekly gatherings here in Asheville with the elders in my EfM spiritual formation group, and staying more committed to my daily prayer practice than ever before. This is not a part of the path I saw coming - at least not in the way it has - and that’s part of how I know it’s true to something bigger for me. The surprise + surrender + resonance + love.

I remembered how much I love the depth, connection and creative perspective of small, committed groups, as well. Especially in-person - even though a little goes a long way for this introvert.

Straight up meditation just never took hold of my heart the way centering prayer has. And the deepening in my prayer practice may be a part of letting myself fall into dark places that needed tending….

By hitting a low this past year, I found the survival strength in me to heal hurts and shift perspectives, and to fully commit to and embrace what has always been the greatest drink of water for me and my internal experience. Even when I might not have identified it as such consciously, or when I didn’t feel I had a right to claim it for various reasons and lies… and that is, my faith and relationship with Creator. Game-changer.

ROUTINES ::

If you told my twenty year old self that someday I’d be singing praises for how routines and structure can liberate your life, she would’ve laughed, cussed out a joke about conformity or something and went the other way.

But really… scheduled weekly cleaning hours with the hubby (what a turn-on!), regular gym visits and swimming, accounting and tracking routines, to name a few.

Freedom, vitality and better use of time is the fruit of these very simple efforts. For Real.

Structure and less clutter in the practical stuff of life just gives me peace of mind and space in my creative wandering soul, heart and mind.

I need loose structure, but structure nonetheless (says the smooshy, mutable, go-with-the-flow Pisces) - duh.

Learning by living over here. Don’t judge.

But you know what didn’t work - and surprised me a bit because I got off to such a good start with it? Bullet journaling.

There can be too much customization and freedom apparently. ha!

I noticed it became another chore I put off each week, taking up some of my creative energy in a way that wasn’t necessary or efficient. Uck.

I mean, am I a painter/artist or a bullet journaler? Where do I want my creative energy flowing, after all? It seems to work well for some, but not me.

So I ditched it for the loose, spacious structure of a disc-bound, re-fillable Happy Planner. Best move in my planning life all year. And the new year has come blissfully, without hours of planner prep, because sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel that’s working for you.

REMEMBERING MY GIFTS, MY WHY, MY WAY OF CONTRIBUTING ::

Sometimes we forget what we most need to remember.

I don’t know why exactly… I can see a series of reasons, disappointments, decisions, lack of boundaries and distractions that caused it… but after finding my way to the path that feels true to me, to what I’m here to do, I got lost again. Or maybe just needed to sidetrack for some more learning for the big picture of my work. That’s probably most true.

Back in 2012-13, I had found a strong conviction with Creative Practice for healing, faith, art, joy and transformation. My whole windy life seemed to lead me there and speak to that. Prayer Art filled me up and resonated with others. Encouraging others through heart-healing and creative-truth telling did the same. Intuitive or process-oriented art-making, as a practice for myself and a way of working with others made sense in my bones.

Then, I let too many voices in, too much outside influence. Shared too soon. Put too much on my plate. Compared myself too much. Paid too much for the wrong guidance. Got hurt, disregarded and disillusioned along the way by people I held in high esteem. I didn’t see the value in my vision/gifts/dreams as much as the value in the vision of others. So I abandoned my own vision at times. I got caught up in the bigger-is-better lie for a time - and let the ball drop on some of my own real connections, probably hurting others along the way.

I became discouraged by the curated life and income-making lie(s) that so many artists online buy and feed into or sell, knowingly or not, and often under the guise of some high-value vision or system… as well as the disconnect between values proclaimed-like-advertisements and values lived in actual interactions and relationship….

And yet, in terms of livelihood, this is tender territory for a group (like artists) who so often have to juggle many things ot make ends meet and fight to be seen with value at all in this culture.

We are all learning, after all. May we all remember to value relationships over transactions. People over profit.

I AM an idealist, a bit romantic, and definitely aching for a woke, better world. I wanted the promise of the internet world to be as good as it seemed for creatives and connection (and so much of it is! - don’t get me wrong)… but like all things, a dysfunctional capitalistic culture will seep in and take over when provision for our families and personal livelihood is a factor to be considered.

We have to remain diligent with our why and how we work through each decision with our values, especially in the noisy, cafeteria-like market-place environment of social media and online learning.

There’s a lot here that I have been wrestling with, as have many others… things that are cultural dysfunctions or were personal patterns, things that I needed to live in and dissolve, or relate to with new awareness and conviction for myself (see spiral reference above)…

but I’m happy to say, I’ve circled back to clarity with newfound strength, with a re-focused and polished lens on why I share and teach about Creative PRACTICE. How it can help us navigate our perspectives, relationships, these times and issues… or at the very least, bring us a little joy and respite in the face of the crazy-making all around us.

If I’m telling the truth, though, that came after serious doubt and ruminations, and considering scrapping everything from 7 years of Hali Karla Arts to go back into nursing. There was more time than I care to admit spent scrolling nursing jobs this past year… and feeling a little more sick about the possibility each time. It would not make me happy in the least. It is NOT what I’m here to do… I know that in my whole body.

But apparently I needed to reconnect with remembering that. Nursing was another long, very important leg of my journey. One that was so soul-touching, it has been hard to let go of, and the letting go has left many questions at times - but it is not my calling. Even if sometimes, on hard days, it seems like things might be easier if it was.

Being an artist - and trying to make your livelihood creatively - is not for the faint of heart….

SHADOW-LIFTING + HEALING ::

I mentioned this above a bit. Trauma, abandonment and lack of stability or a sense of protection in my childhood crept back up for some healing attention this year in a big way. With loads of anger (justified) and questions and hungry, hurt parts of my inner child’s soul.

I had someone dear to me say to me this year… “I had no idea those things still effected you so much.” That’s the thing about childhood sexual trauma, abandonment, family dysfunction+addiction, no sense of reliable stability in your home environment or rootedness as a kid, with no chance to develop strong peer relationships… you don’t ever get to be the person who didn’t go through that as a child. You don’t get to heal yourself into some sort of normalcy as if you lived an entirely different experience in your most important, formative years.

I share this here because I know many of you went through some form of hell in your childhood as well - and I want you to remember, in case you need to remember it today: you are not alone, you are not crazy, and wherever you are in processing all of that shit - it’s ok, love.

This is where my deep healing work is for this life. This is where much of the medicine I am able to offer to others as they heal comes from. It is ever-connected, even when the specific details may not be.

Occasionally, things from really tough pasts rise to the surface for a re-visit, and your own shadows, patterns and illusions reveal themselves. It’s always an invitation to see them for what they are, to just give love and acknowledgment to yourself for all the reasons you had to learn to cope and survive the way you did, to let them go or shape-shift them into a healthier perspective or purpose, and to remember your innate, untouchable wholeness and sacred connection a little more deeply.

2018 was one of those invitations for me… you know: Dive down deep, let the uplifting begin again.

Transformation and its healing power requires a descent, a death of some sort… its cycle is terrible and beautiful, all at once. And with God’s help, the love of my closest people, and the desire to thrive - not just survive - I am better than ever with this twist and return on the spiral.

Are we in 2019 yet?!

2019: what to look forward to & what I’m lit up about…

Short version (because, wow - you’re still here!):

I am deeply (re)committed to the power of Creative Practice as a way of guiding us into deeper knowledge of our true selves, relationship with one another and our spiritual journey, as a medicine of healing and expression, and a path toward inspired acts of love, joy and transformation in our living experience.

What can you look forward to here at Hali Karla Arts?

Well, I’m going to keep some of this to myself, but here are a few things upcoming…

  • Creative Practice tips, encouragement and connections for you here at the blog and via my Creative Practice Notes (free to subscribe)

  • Creative Practice Invitations and Offerings… to help you cultivate a meaningful, joyful and resilient practice and perspective for living as your true creative self in this wild world… more details coming later

  • Many of you have asked… so content from IN THE STARS will be split up into smaller, self-guided bite-size portions, by sign+planet, and made to fit your own curiosity about your astrological signs. This will include in-depth, soulful looks at the invitations and wisdom of each symbol, with a Creative Practice invitation to take it deeper.

  • I learned these last 3 years how much I like making audio reflections as a way to talk creative energy and inspire your own contemplations and practices… so, there is a good chance that a regular Creative Practice podcast - or some variation on that idea - is on its way. (eeee… I notice I’m rather excited about this one as I type it - I’ve been incubating this one for awhile)

  • A Hali Karla Arts studio sale - art and other keepsake or interactive tangibles are in-the-works to be listed for special, limited time sales, starting later this year. It’s a little accountability game with myself for my art practice, my piles of art and a let’s-see-what-happens experiment.

So what ELSE am I lit up about?

My practice(s). The truth is, I make art to be closer to Creator, to you, to me.

Whether it’s art journaling or painting or whatever has lit up my curiosity for a time… it is for healing, love, dreaming, honesty, beauty, truth… and ultimately, Presence.

To clear away the rubble of the world that builds up between our interconnections. To stay alive to the creative spirit implanted in this body, this perspective, this life becoming.

To remember the power of beauty and transformation and the invisible being made visible.

And I’m so in love with my prayer and faith practices. My soul-food, y’all.

Inspiring and encouraging your Creative Practice, healing perspectives and trust in the mystery and processes of life. This is where my service lies. Straight from my creative heart to yours.

Connecting… with other creatives, the dots in our lives, the meaning-making moments of the past to the realities of the now and dreams of the future. More connecting one-on-one and in small groups sounds really exciting, too.

Learning every damn day. Always, yes, please. And sharing what I learn with those who find their way to listen and share with me.

Seeing. With fresh eyes. With my eyes and truth.
Seeing what Creator wants me to see and savor and serve and share.

And more Listening. The holy quiet of listening well.
Deeper listening. In all the ways.


2018, thank you for the hard healing, soul-deep connections, insight and internal transformations. I’m glad our time is over.

2019, I’m glad you’re here… and that my creative energy is finally feeling uplifted again for our time together.

What went well - or not - for you in 2018?
What are you lit up about for 2019?


If you made it this far, thanks for being here.

Leave me a note below if you feel inclined.

May your New Year be exactly what you and yours need most as it begins.

And if it isn’t yet… never forget that you can always begin again. Right now. Or tomorrow, after a sleep.

 
Hali Karla Arts - Creative Practice for navigating life’s explorations and transitions
 

My Winter reView, Spring inSight (with journal prompts to help you review, uplift and commit)

The Winter season is 'officially' coming to an end and Spring is moving in, here in the states.

I thought I'd share a few journaling reflective practices I find helpful (below), while doing a short review of some highlights from my own creative journey and reflections in this last season... all in the spirit of sharing, showing up and wrapping up - as I - and we - prepare for what's coming up.

Some winter highlights in my creative world:

We've made some minor, but uplifting improvements to our humble little home and how we keep up with her. One of my favorite changes... a table that seats six people for a meal, or two married artists hanging out together *not* in front of a screen.

Our four-legged roommates keep winter warmer and more joyful, too.

As does miso soup in the morning... and BREAD.

Homemade bread... no-knead dutch-oven bread, to be exact. OMG. Don't even think twice about it, just GO HERE, and do what it says. You will not regret it - and your people will get a fresh twinkle in their eye for you and your 'magical' baking skills.

This warm-soft-crusty bread thing may be my favorite 2018 winter highlight, if I'm totally honest. Bread and music feed the soul, folks. (That's my guy in the middle on the left, who plays music most days of the week in Asheville).

For my In The Stars peeps: we got a kick out of how the baked bread can look like a baked planet, too. This planetary symbolism represents the instinct to eat and be comforted, and is brought to you by the Efficient Grandmother archetype. Clearly...

Speaking of In The Stars, this winter season wrapped up the first voyage of my biggest, most heartfelt program yet, and began the second voyage at our new class site... with lots of new and returning soulful creatives.

It is pure joy to guide others into their birth charts, dispel unhelpful ideas and superstitions around astrology, and teach them how astrology is practical and rich (not magical or scary or about simplified personality types or fortune-telling at all)... just a creative language that helps reflect and describe human experience and patterns, internally and externally, in a collectively and personally meaningful way. It lights me up... which I'm sure the program participants can attest to by now, and maybe you can tell as I diverge.... :-)

Oh... and there was the FLU. It was just awful in our house for several weeks. We both caught it. ugh. Enough about that.

At the beginning of the year, I also began meeting once a week with a spiritual formation group, in person here in Asheville... this is particularly personal, transformative and precious to me right now.

They fill my heart, our little group of 7, as do our conversations and shared meals. It is the perfect support for my growing and deepening contemplative prayer practice, the surprise twists my spiritual journey has led me on, in the past decade - and the questions I carry about best serving God and others with my gifts and whole self in this wild, changing world. I am grateful everyday that I was led to join in on the immersive four year journey, come what may.

I also began... and will be beginning (or reviving)... some fun things here at Hali Karla Arts.

Like my Something From The Studio videos on Youtube. I enjoy making those, and the response has been sweet, so I'm going to keep exploring the format.

Starting with the shift into Spring this month, I will also be making some new podcast episodes, with a whole different theme to explore and inspire your reflective and creative practices. I kind of adore the audio format... both making and listening... and I hope this will speak to some of you and keep your creative energy moving, as I speak from my practice to yours. More on that in the next week or so!

And, for my subscribers, I hope to get those Creative Practice Circle Meet-ups finally going this spring, totally free to attend... so sign up to get the details.

Finally, I'm planning to bring back some online classes this year - like part of the Making Art Medicine series.

Friends, I have made quite a few classes in the past 6 years, and they are just sitting in files waiting to reach and inspire creative souls who find them and feel called to engage. After years of making new content and classes, I'm looking forward to revisiting and celebrating some of that hard work in fresh ways, and sharing it with new folks this year.

Now, I promised to share some reflection practices I like to use as a retrospective exercise, so that you can give it a try in YOUR journaling and planning practice.

(I shared a variation of these in my last Creative Practice newsletter, as a way that I like to reflect on one month and move into the next - I've just changed a couple of words and added a few additional thoughts here.)

These could be used at whatever frequency makes sense to you and your needs. Seasonally might be perfect for you!

Here are a couple of my end-of-month (or season) journal review approaches:

I always find it so helpful... to make time to review my planner, notes, art and journals from the previous month, and make a retrospective reflection in my journal.

It gives me an anchor to my life, without time just slipping by and important highlights going unnoticed, as it so often can. Months that I don’t remember to do this just don’t feel as focused and energizing in the ordinary day-to-day.

First, I list or free-write about...

  • What was challenging and what I learned or am learning (or mistakes I made), and
  • What (or who) I loved, found memorable or insightful, or feel especially grateful for from the past month.

Next, I make a table or bubble-map with 4 areas listing things I want to COMMIT TO or UPLIFT for the UPcoming month, as follows:

  1. KEEP UP - activities, perspectives, practices etc. that I need/want to continue or keep up
  2. GIVE UP - activities, perspectives, practices, habits, etc. I need/want to release or stop to free up time/space
  3. SHAKE UP - things I need/want to keep doing, but that need a change or shift to my approach to keep it fresh and flowing, or better fit my realities and vision
  4. TAKE UP - things I want to explore and try out in the coming 4 weeks, *stretch that comfort zone, y'all*

In my humble, color-voracious opinion, these reflections are best done on messy, artsy, or doodled pages of watercolor splashes or such - optional and personalized to your preference in your journal, of course!

Finally, if you are a bullet journaler, or a list-lover, here are a few extra uplifting focus areas for reflection + review, and planning + activating... as an ongoing process, or at times of purposeful transition...

  • LIFT UP (prayers and gratitudes and decisions you are faced with)
  • LOOK UP (possibilities to explore)
  • SHOW UP (events or activities where your presence will stretch you, fill you up, or gift others)
  • WAKE UP (a-has, revelations, insights that shift big things in your view and perspective, or bring pieces of the puzzle together for you)
  • SAVE UP (this could be about money, or dreams to work toward, or ideas that are still taking shape and forming in your creative awareness and need more time to percolate before sharing or pursuing)

Alright, my creative friends, that's my Winter reView and Spring inSight musing, plus some thoughts on how you can review and bring insight backwards and forwards in your practices, as we move from one season into the next... on the calendar, or in our life's chapters.

This was fun to put together... I wonder, do you do any sort of monthly or seasonal review that helps keep your creative energy flowing and focused on the 'right' stuff?

With heart, Hali

*** The best way to work with me personally this year, and to meet some amazing creative kindreds also participating, is in my program IN THE STARS. You can join in the journey anytime, for the time being - with immediate access to everything that's been released so far.