Stray Dog Arts

:: The Alchemy of Yes ::

Oh, this beautiful life.  It has led me on such a strange and awesome quest: For truth, rest, purpose, passion.  It's led me into the deepest lessons of self-care and creative exploration.  These past many months have been some of the best in my entire life.  In the spring of 2012, I packed up my home and studio and left behind the urban metropolis of Minneapolis in exchange for a self-imposed painting retreat in the far reaches of northern Minnesota.  I planned on being gone for six months and, at the time, it felt like the biggest risk imaginable. 

Instead, those six months turned into a time of incredible replenishment. I spent endless hours hiking the remote trails of the deepest woods with my three dogs.  I got good at collecting rain water and swimming in the lake.  I spent long mornings writing in my journal.  I went canoeing and chopped wood on a regular basis.  I learned how to eat healthy and sleep well.  I listened to loon-song and coyote calls.  I let myself be swept away by a night sky filled with a billion stars.

I immersed myself completely in the richness of this northerly experience. October came quickly. The leaves turned brilliant shades of orange, crimson and yellow.  They fell to the ground and, at about the same time, I also had to say goodbye to my old wolfie girl, Anu.  She was 14 years old and, despite everything, her passing was the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced in this life.  She was a kindred of the truest kind and we had walked, what felt like, many lifetimes together.  Being half wolf, she taught me about wildness, but mostly...she taught me about LOVE.

:: Anu and I :: Photo credit: Sarah Beth Photography

There was a brilliant blue sky the day she crossed over--a single swift breeze and the lake turned into a million sparkles. These days, I still feel her presence near.  As the season continued to deepen, I hiked and painted and began to heal.  I couldn't help but notice all the ways that Anu had changed my life for the better. She had brought me home--to this place of wildness and woods, water and spirit.

I checked in with my internal compass and knew, without a doubt, that I was nowhere near being ready to leave!  Not to mention, business was continuing to flourish.  And so...I committed to turning my six month Northerly Painting Retreat into a super-extended 18 month retreat! And you know what?  It's the best thing that I could have ever done!  Funny how following your heart has a way of supporting you. ;)

(What's that?  You've been considering following the tugs of your own heart?  Uh-huh, yep...I say: GO FOR IT!)

Despite its warm weather attractiveness, the summer lake property is not quite suitable for winter living and so I decided to rent a tiny cabin at the top of a hill in the middle of a pine tree forest.  It's a magical place, complete with plenty of foxes, owls, dear, eagles...and (most importantly) two horses, Colorado and Dakota. Oh--this place, these horses--I am quite certain that I have died and gone to heaven!  My spirit feels at ease here.  Yes, this is love, of the truest kind!

The best part?  It doesn't seem to matter that I'm currently located in the middle of nowhere.  My professional (and personal) life has continued to grow in the most astonishing ways. Experiencing a deepening of spirit has a way of opening up entirely new worlds. I am refueled and inspired to the deepest degree and this coming year is proving to be creatively engaging, exciting, prolific, and adventure filled.  This self-created Northerly Painting Retreat has been a time of profound healing, creative exploration, self-discovery, physical well-being, and spirited connection.  I find myself stepping into a whole new chapter of my life in all the best possible ways and I am thoroughly excited to be sharing this journey with you. 

What I've come to understand is this: Nothing is on accident and the possibilities are truly astonishing!

"Tell me...what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"  ~Mary Oliver.

Northerly Painting Retreat 2012/13 :: My winter world

Thank you for being such an important part of my life!

With whole-hearted love and happiness,


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