let the phoenix fly!

i’ve been working on this mandala since october of last year. it appeared as a very clear vision- a phoenix, embroidered on my chest (like a tattoo made of light! wooo!), flying from high heart, through a loop of galaxies and interwoven star worlds. flying through me, flying beyond me. this vision appeared during a time of intense introspection, healing from an injury, and needing change. it is inspired by the art of Susan Boulet, and my teachers Julia Weaver and Megan Wagner, three amazing visionaries and incredible artists.

this mandala was a surprise birthing. the vision of it took my breath away, and the initial shape was put onto paper very quickly. once i got the initial composition onto paper, i wasn’t sure how to complete it. i would stare at it for extended periods of time, looking for something to add. finding myself unable to continue, i would tuck it away again. It sat quietly near my desk for weeks at a time. i knew there was something more to it, but i couldn’t figure out what it was. i think part of the reason it took such a long time to finish was that:

1. i liked how it looked, and i didn’t want to mess it up. (this is true with most of my art work).

2. i struggled with self-judgement and intense criticism. (i am my own worst critic!)

3. i wanted it to be “good”, and yet nothing i did was “good enough.”

every time i looked at it, i heard my own critical voice saying: “its not really a mandala, its just a drawing”… “this is not original” … “you will never be an artist”… “it looks weird”… i felt frozen and stiff, using my eraser more than my pencil. i even created a second version, thinking it would free myself up from making a mistake (because i always had the original!). but i was too attached to how it looked, and i wasn’t allowing the mandala to express itself. even after i sent it to my mandala group, receiving loving support and encouragement, i couldn’t enjoy what i had made.

somehow, a few days before my birthday, i made a breakthrough. i knew in order to proceed, i needed to release my grasp and let go. i took a deep breath, and softened my body. once i surrendered control over what i thought the mandala needed to be, the mandala took flight. looking at it now, in what i feel is the final piece (or at least very, very close to it!), i realize that it is speaking to me on many different levels. it is a statement to allow my constantly evolving transformation to occur. it is a prayer to release the struggling phoenix that is burning inside me… to celebrate the being that i am, with the love, joy and vulnerability of being both known and unknown. where instead of resisting, i welcome those critical voices as an opportunity to burn my deepest fears and discomforts, and transcend what i think i am possible of. i bow humbly to the sacred Ouroboros, (a snake eating its tail), a symbol of the infinite, creating a full and complete circle- to remind me that i am already WHOLE, fully integrated and perfect in imperfection.