Can you tell us a bit about yourself that isn’t writing related?
I am excited to introduce you to Heidi Barr, a local author in the Twin Cities who is participating in Brush & Pen: Festival for Artists and Authors. She is the author of two books, Woodland Manitou and Prairie Grown
Katelyn: Heidi can you tell our readers a bit about yourself that isn’t writing related.
Heidi: I grew up in eastern South Dakota, on the prairie and presently my family and I (myself, my spouse, and our six year old) make our home in the St. Croix River Valley, just to the west of the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. It’s a landscape full of lakes, rivers, bluffs, ancient glacial potholes, small towns, organic farms, and plenty of winding trails to explore all of it. We live in a little red house perched on the edge of a ravine on the shores of a tiny lake, with a large field just up the hill from the house that provides space for a large vegetable garden, several types of berry bushes, and an apple tree. It’s all imperfect and takes a lot of work to maintain, but I love it here.
I’d love to say my lifestyle is all yoga, meditation, foraging for wild edibles, reading/writing, and raising my child, but there’s plenty more that goes on around here: I maintain a full-time wellness coaching job with a tech start-up, and we spend a lot of time gardening, hauling wood, doing laundry, preserving food, paying bills and maintaining/fixing the house. We keep one television in the basement, though I haven’t turned it on more than a handful of times in the last several years. My spouse and I both rely on the internet and computer technology for our day jobs, but we do our best to not let devices take up too much space in life. (This is, of course, easier said than done.) As with all humans, my life is one of constant evolution, trial and error, beauty, destruction, and breathing into the spaces that exist in between where I am and where I want to be.
Katelyn: It sounds like you are super busy! It would be great if we could just do yoga, meditate, go for walks in the woods and do what we love! I am glad you find time for writing. Can you tell us what inspired you to start writing?
Heidi: I’ve always enjoyed writing – I wrote my first “book” as a small child and have been writing down stories and thoughts ever since. When blogging became a thing, I jumped on it, and I’ve been maintaining several blogs and guest writing for others ever since. I think what inspires me is having a medium with which to express myself that doesn’t require immediacy – I have always been a soft-spoken and quiet individual who likes to think things through before offering an opinion, so being able to contribute my voice to the conversation of the world via the written word has been important. I love the art that arises from of a well-placed word and the beauty of a poetic paragraph – the way that words can open up worlds has always intrigued me.
Katelyn: It sounds like you were a born writer. Do you have a genre you prefer to write in and to read?
Heidi: I like reading all sorts of things, and I read all the time…but my favorite genre to read and write are the memoir and nature-based nonfiction. I also enjoy a good fiction book now and then, and I’ve recently started dabbling in writing poetry. Some of my favorite authors are Barbara Kingsolver, Mary Oliver, Michael Pollan, Katherine Center, Cheryl Strayed, Kent Nerburn, Alice Walker, and Elizabeth Gilbert…..among others. This list could get pretty long, so I’ll leave it at that for now.
Katelyn: I see some of my favorites on your list. I always like to ask authors why they write because everyone has their own reason.
Heidi: I write because it’s often the best way to figure out what I think about something. Life is full of questions and contradictions, and mulling over what’s going on and putting pen to paper is an illuminating activity in many ways. Sometimes I don’t really know what I think about something until I write about it. And as so many writers say, “I write because I can’t not write.” It’s just part of who I am.
Katelyn: as creative people, we all find ourselves with creative blocks at times. What do you do when you get a creative block?
Heidi: Go outside. As a primarily nonfiction writer, there is new material happening all around me all the time. I just have to be present to it and sometimes let it be for awhile. Even if it feels like I’ll never have another idea or sentence again, I always do. Life has a way of continually providing the raw materials we need to be creative.
Katelyn: We kind of covered this in an earlier question but could you say more about what Writers inspire you and why?
Heidi: Well, all of the writers that I mentioned earlier are inspiring! Anyone who can take their experience, the truth as they know it, and write it down in a way that others can understand is inspiring. Writers who don’t shy away from challenging subjects and take risks. Writers who keep an open mind and can see through the lens of the other (whoever the other might be)
Katelyn: I know there will be someone reading this who wants to write a book. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Heidi: What worked for me was starting a blog and publishing posts regularly. Often times you hear the advice of “write every day, no matter what” and maybe that works for many folks, but it’s not been true for me. I write when I have something to say (and granted, sometimes I have to dig for that something….) Aside from the logistics and how and when to write…..Tell your truth and don’t diminish someone else’s. Keep a journal. Let other people read your work and read the work of others. Read a lot of books and essays and poetry. Write bad first drafts and learn to edit yourself. Practice letting go and allowing things to evolve, even if they aren’t following the path you think they should. Don’t let rejection stop you from sharing your story – and write to write, don’t write to publish – writing to write is the only reason I continue – the publishing is a bonus.
Katelyn: I started with a blog too. I feel it is the easiest way to get started and often what you post can turn into parts of your book.
How can people support you in your writing career?
Write reviews! Buy books! Come to author events! Some of the best things you can do for authors, in addition to supporting us directly with a book purchase is to share information about our work and books via social media or with folks you think might enjoy it/them. If you know folks in the media or in bookselling/promotion, make the introduction. For indie authors especially, purchasing directly from the author or via the publisher (rather than on Amazon) is always a good idea, as is asking your local library and bookshops to stock specific books. An old-fashioned “how’re things going with your books?” is always welcomed as well – it all makes a difference.
Katelyn: I love those ideas! Especially sharing on social media because recommendations are the more powerful way to promote someone.
Thank you so much Heidi, for sharing about yourself and your writing with our readers. Where can people find your books?
I am heaven-bent on championing artists and writers by curating art-filled, fun events for artists and authors to show and sell their work and expand their reach in the community. No more starving artists or authors!!!
We creatives have bought into the idea that because we have a gift of art or writing that we have to give it away. It is easy for us to create so why should we ask a lot of money for what we create? Because we add value that no one else can add. We have a unique way of seeing the world and expressing it through our craft that no one else can do.
Using the word “gift” to describe someone’s talent is part of the problem. Yes, it is a gift that was given to us from our soul, God, Goddess, Spirit or the Universe or whatever you want to call it, but that does not mean we have to give it away. If we underprice and undervalue our work we perpetuate the myth of the starving artist.
Have you ever been to an art show and someone next to use is selling their paintings for $20? I have! Not only are they devaluing themselves but they are creating an environment in the buyer that says art should be cheap. If you think about it you know that a painting took more than say an hour, possibly 2 or 3 so, in essence, they are making between $5 and $15 an hour if you take off money for supplies. So art is worth what you might pay for a Big Mac at McDonald’s and if it is any more than that it is priced too high?
That is the equivalent of selling your soul because you put your soul into what you paint.
Another thing I hear all of the time is “I have to mark it cheap so it sells because I have bills to pay.” That statement comes from lack consciousness and a belief that if it isn’t cheap it won’t sell. What if an art collector walked by, saw your $25, $75 or $100 painting and would have bought it if it was $1000 or more. The same painting! That actually happens! Collectors like to show off what they buy and what fun is it to show off an amazing painting that you bought for $25. $25 means it has little value.
So I am creating events where artists and authors are valued. Where authors and artist support each other and the community takes notice. For example, I will be interviewing each participant and posting the interviews in both of my blogs. I will share on social media and ask each participant to share each blog on their social media. Imagine the impact of 25 people sharing your interview on their social media pages. That will touch a lot of people who the participant might never reach. In order to build community before the event, I am having a gathering of all the vendors to get to know each other and brainstorm ways to improve attendance.
Brush & Pen is currently taking place at Blue Harbor Center for the Arts on Saint Paul’s West Side. The first event is August 18, 2018. This is an intimate venue that will comfortably hold about 25 individual vendors. Katelyn curates each show to make sure there is a diverse variety of artists and authors. Individuals are invited to participate. There are no crafts in this show.
Imagine lots of people appreciating and buying art, strolling musicians, and lots of beauty. Artists meeting authors and artists and authors meeting community! Followed by a meet the authors and artists networking event.
All the events are in the spirit of fun, creative expression, to showcase local artist and bringing the community together.
I love synchronicity. I even love the word. I am experiencing it more and more these days because of this place of non-resistance I am in.
My word for the year is joy, so every morning I pose the question in my journal about how to line up with joy today. So I did that and my higher wisdom said “keep doing what you are doing.”
so I have been playing with the word joy, and this phrase “I don’t know how ________”
Yesterday we got about 10 inches of snow and I had to move my car off the street before 8 AM this morning, because the city was going to plow our street. I really wasn’t looking forward to digging out so I said out loud. ”
***I don’t know how but it will be easy to move my car!” In my mind I could see my car moving easily down the street, through the snow.
I got bundled up warm, unlocked the door and walked out. There were my neighbors Roger and Mary removing all the snow from my car! I started the car to warm it up and Roger cleared the windows. He told me he would get it out of the snow bank and onto the road so it would be easier for me to drive. Instead he moved it out of the snowbank, down the street and parked it! At the same time another neighbor was shoveling my walk.
Synchronicity? Great intending? Who knows. All I know is it raised the joy vibration of my day 10 fold ❤️
All of this magic took place in 30 minutes!!!
What do you plan to do with your one Wild and precious life? Mary Oliver
Rewilding is not going backwards, to live in the woods – superficial stuff like that. It’s reconnecting to that wildness dormant inside you; the amazing, rich thing that’s there waiting to be engaged with.
What if you redesigned your life with your wild nature in mind? What would it look like? How would it be different? First we need to understand what is meant by “rewilding “.
Wildness’ is difficult to fully define, and so too ‘rewilding’ is not a fixed concept; more simply it could be an openness to truly being alive. It will look different to each individual. Some might be turned off by the word ‘wild’ because they think it means out of control and unruly but it is far from that. The following quote is helpful in understanding it:
“To be fully human is to be wild. Wild is the strange pull and whispering wisdom. It’s the gentle nudge and the forceful ache. It is your truth, passed down from the ancients, and the very stream of life in your blood. Wild is the soul where passion and creativity reside, and the quickening of your heart. Wild is what is real, and wild is your home.”
― Victoria Erickson
I have always felt this powerful pull. We are connected to it when we are children and it is lost in the domestication process. Domestication is the opposite of wildness. We go to school and are taught rules for living in society. From there we go to work and learn how to live someone else’s dream for the sake of security. We stop connecting with nature on a regular basis. We sit at computers, work alone, watch television, eat at certain times, learn how to fit in and be accepted.
That isn’t who we really are because through the process we forget who we are! We live in a world that is constantly pulling us away from our wild nature and out of sync with our true self.
Rewiling is a celebration of our true selves.
“For many people, a connection to nature is a good place to start remembering this sense of belonging. Nature also reminds us of how we need to both grow and be still. We need to move through all the rhythms of life – seeding, growing, harvesting, composting, resting – and not only strive to constantly produce. As we slow down, we become more present, and feel ourselves here, instead of struggling to get somewhere else.
“It becomes easier to remember who we are and what is important. Then we can make choices that are true to our essential nature, being ourselves, in tune with the world.” Jonathan Horowitz
Are you ready to start rewilding yourself?
More blogs to come…check the ReWilding Yourself tab on the list
Our Wild, creative nature
I finally did it! My first painting in 5 years. I have done some small work which you can find in my 30 Day Art Practice, in this blog, but this is the first serious, visionary piece I have done. I have my last painting on my wall. It was painted in September of 2006.
I wasn’t sure what made me stop except a long list of excuses, including not enough time, nothing to paint and all of the usual things. Of course there was something deeper, there always is.
The painting above is an integration piece for me and the real reason I stopped painting. I didn’t know it at the time but I felt invisible. I felt like no one cared about my work but me, so why even paint. For years I painted at least one painting a week, sometimes more than that. Many artists feel that…
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I have posted this painting before but I am learning more about it…
As many of you know, my artwork is prophetic. The message may be for someone else but often times it’s for me. Many times there are layers of meaning, as people who I have done soul portraits find out.
I woke up thinking about this painting. When I painted it In Spain in Nov 2015, I thought it was Psyche floating over the River Styx at the end of a journey, which it was at the time, but it turns out to be the beginning of a journey too.
Psyche and Eros is an epic love story. In the story Psyche is given four tasks that she must complete in order to love and marry Eros. The tasks are life threatening or impossible and it is Venus’ hope that one of them will kill her, which they didn’t because she found a way to get through each of them. She came out stronger and more determined with each task.
Not long after painting this painting I started the epic journey of my heart. My four tasks were three heart attacks and open heart surgery. All of them life threatening tasks. Each one of them difficult yet transformed me and made me stronger. Like Psyche I didn’t know the next task was coming and I wasn’t sure I could complete each task
Just like Psyche my impossible journey has opened my heart to love again. For many years I was in conflict about love. A big part of me wanted a partner and another part of me was committed to staying single until hell froze over. I had done 30 years worth of personal work and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t in a relationship. There was good reason that I chose to protect my heart in that way and in the end I had to have my heart opened surgically.
After I had the first heart attack the inner conflict became very clear to me. There was no way I was going to attract anyone with that program running. My aura was sending that message out to every man who came near me. It took Four difficult, life threatening tasks to clear it out.
Now I am ready to love again.
When I use the word ‘wild’ I don’t mean out of control. In it’s original sense, it means to live a natural life with innate integrity and healthy boundaries. When you are in touch with your innate nature you are in union with your creativity.
In our natural state we carry everything we need for healing and staying in balance. We are in touch with our deep knowing. We don’t censor ourselves and we live authentic lives. We are in touch with our dreams, desires, personal signs and symbols and have the tools to access them.
As a society we have lost touch with the instructive psyche, our inner guide and we rely on outside sources to guide our behavior and decisions. The inspiration, insight and images and dreams we carry are not allowed to develop.
Would you like to get in touch with your innate creative nature which is part of all of us? Would you like to revive your spirit of play and have fun?
Most people lose touch with their spirit of creativity around 10 years old whe someone criticizes something they created. That sense of play gets shut down and life gets serious. Creativity is a skill that when developed is life changing.
How can you activate your creativity?
Here are a few ideas:
- Learn meditation
- Finger paint
- Start a journal
- Create a collage
- Dance like no one is watching
- Sing in the shower and make up the words
- Start a Garden
- Go to the Zoo and talk to the animals
- Watch a funny movie
- Start a blog
- Play with children
- Do a zigsaw puzzle
- Go to the craft store and pick out a new craft and dive in.
- Walk in nature and talk to the trees and see if they talk back
- Record your dreams in the morning and see if you can decide what they mean
- Lay on the ground and see if you can see things in the clouds, like animals, birds, angels
- Have a tea party with friends and have everyone dress up.
- Read a science fiction novel
- Write a poem
- Talk to your pets like they are human. Tell them a story
Ready, Set, GO!
I am posting this because it is a beautiful painting but because I noticed something interesting that I didn’t see before that is very profound. I hope you read the interpretation.
I am a visionary artist, so much of my artwork is prophetic. I paint my vision from a higher perspective. When I paint I am not thinking about what is coming through, I just listen and painted what I “hear” and “see” at a higher level.
I painted this on November 4th. If you look at the right side of the heart it looks like there is a bypass coming out of the side. It actually goes up and connects into the DNA/Tree of Life. I found out on the 8th that I needed to have the bypass, so 4 days after I painted this.
The painting is full of beauty, new beginnings (the eggs), Life (the tree of Life) and change ( the number 5) fertility (the earth) and it says that I am going to be amazing after the surgery. Life is actually coming out of the arteries in the form of eggs. The DNA is transforming into the tree of life. The crystalline core of the earth is sending energy to the heart. WOW!
I usually don’t get messages this fast, sometimes it takes years for me to understand what a painting is saying. This might not have meaning to anyone else but it is profoundly healing to me.
This message makes me really happy and gives me a lot of peace. I am so blessed to have this prophetic gift.
The base of the DNA in the painting that goes into the heart is almost the same as the actual bypass. See the drawing of the surgery on the heart pillow drawn by my surgeon. So the bypass has opened me to a new level of life.