Secret Message Society Zine - Issue 21

ISSUE 21 has arrived!

The cover is inspired by Deb Taylor's 12 Days of Mary posts.

Members can tiptoe into the Secret Lair for a digital download right NOW!

Issue 21 features StarGardener as the centerfold artist! She has created an incredible gameboard!

The members really went out of their way to share secrets. There are contributions from all of these artists: Gina KimmelRobyn Ann Bogart, Briana of Orange Spiral ArtsWhimsy Moon SpiritHillary Rain, Cynthia Lee, Deb Taylor, Angie Byers and Beth Morey.

I would really love to send you my gypsy journalism in the mail. There are digital and snail mail options available. AND, there are additional perks to belonging to the Secret Message Society. 

Read about them HERE.

Back issues are available in my Etsy store. Once they sell out they're gone. 

Here's your peek at Issue 21:

One more thing...Have you heard yet where we are headed in 2015?! We as a secret society are getting so excited! Join us for Zines of the Zodiac. Find your inner sign by trying them all on for size, one month at a time. We start with Aquarias  on January 15th, so sign up soon in order to collect all 12 zines. ❤️

Advent - Week Two

*This is a peek at my WONDER-full trifecta Advent that is consisting of going darkart journaling and showing up EXPECTANTly on a daily basis. I have really taken to heart Teresa's notion about making art even if you only have just 15 minutes. These bitty records of my day are so satisfying to me because I can see I lived. If you have any questions about the meaning or making of these pages, I would love to discuss it in the comments. 

Secret Message Society - December Centerfold

SECRET AND RARE INCOGNITO PHOTO OF STARGARDENER *A note about me-incognito: I am renewed by being in nature; my feet are grounded by Oklahoma red dirt and my spirit renewed by golden sunlight and abiding among wildflowers. Being in shadows is shape-shifting; shadows provide portals for processing and space for accepting the unacceptable.

SECRET AND RARE INCOGNITO PHOTO OF STARGARDENER

*A note about me-incognito: I am renewed by being in nature; my feet are grounded by Oklahoma red dirt and my spirit renewed by golden sunlight and abiding among wildflowers. Being in shadows is shape-shifting; shadows provide portals for processing and space for accepting the unacceptable.

THE LUCKY 13!

name:

Teresa 

Alias:

stargardener, right brain planner 

Secret mutant power:

seeing The Unseen

Current art medium/creative endeavor I am exploring:

my mail pile

A Secret Message I found in the last week:

{going away is finding home} 

A stranger I interacted with recently:

The stranger was a man surveying the land in my area in order to sell data to oil and gas companies.

Although I felt safe as he stood at my front door, it was as if he was a dastardly villain in cowboy boots with a mustache curled at the ends and evil grin revealing a gold tooth. I felt as if an alter ego activated when he began explaining his company’s request to put a seismic sensor on my land. My mind was processing his words but I felt as if there was another internal conversation between my present and former professional self discussing his intent. 

After he left, I knew I needed to have a second conversation with him. I drove around my neighborhood to find him — that alter ego, the governmental liaison/community advocate within me, had more questions. Suddenly I was fluent in state and county regulation-speak and legalese, and speaking as if I represented a citizen rights group. As if my conversation with him would ensure there was a protective barrier between my neighborhood and his company’s intentions.  

A word that means a lot to me right now:

less and enough

When I don’t feel like my art matters I tell myself:

It matters. Believe. I sparkly dare you.

I knew I was an artist when:

When I was four but at some point I forgot.

A rule I like to break:

All of them.

It is my habit to break the rules set for me, the rules detailed about business management, relationships and aging; especially those rules “they” tell us are “just meant to help” — and of course the rules outlining what someone with Multiple Sclerosis “should” do. And I regularly break the rules that I wake up with many mornings, those that I set for myself about what I can and cannot do.

This is what the Secret Message Society means to me:
 

All the years I believed in secret messages being broadcast 24/7 wasn’t delusion.

Here is something I created that I want to share with you: 

life deck of cards.jpg

If we meet on the street we’ll know each other as undercover artists by: 

We’d just know.


I believe in Enough and the soul-speak of blurts. I believe in the power of pause and country drives, of trying one more time, doing what is in your heart, succulence and serendipity. I make art with whatever hand Life deals me from its altered deck of cards. My online canvases include: Right Brain PlannerSecret Rebel Club and The Art Journaler Community.


Each month I am featuring one Secret Message Society Member, both in the Zine and on my blog. I want you to see some of the creative ways these artists think, explore, live. When you open the Zine to the middle you will see an enticing double page spread designed by the centerfold artist. There will be a companion post here on my blog where I ask them a Lucky 13 questions. Want to join our grassroots movement of artists who are actively collecting, creating and inviting Secret Messages into their life?! You can subscribe here*Starting in January of 2015 we are going to be doing Zines of the Zodiac for the entire year. Each month with be themed with a corresponding sign of the Zodiac. Become a member now, if you don't want to miss out on any of the Zodiac themes! Collect all 12!

Advent - Week One

*This is a peek at my WONDER-full trifecta Advent that is consisting of going darkart journaling and showing up EXPECTANTly on a daily basis. I have really taken to heart Teresa's notion about making art even if you only have just 15 minutes. These bitty records of my day are so satisfying to me because I can see I lived. If you have any questions about the meaning or making of these pages, I would love to discuss it in the comments. 

What the Dark Gives Us

"Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them... Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself... soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life."
- Remus Lupin, Harry Potter

He came into my bedroom and told me he couldn’t get to sleep.

“I’m scared,” he said. 

I held his hand and walked into his room with him.

“What are you scared of, Buddy?” I asked him.

“Dementors, like the ones in Harry Potter. They like the dark.”

“I like the dark too,” I told him. “It gives us good things, like the stars and the moon.” I motioned out the window, and he nodded. 

I continued. “The dark is when certain animals come out to play, like the bats and owls. And the dark means we get to sleep and let our bodies rest and close our eyes.”

“And energy,” he added with enthusiasm. “The dark gives us energy. It’s like how we charge our batteries on our phones. The dark gives us energy, so we can be full charged.”

“YES!” I said, excited because I was thinking of our whole conversation the way only a mystic can, with great symbolism and meaning. “The dark charges us up so we can have energy for tomorrow.” Maybe we are both lunar powered and solar powered. 

I tucked the blankets around his little body and thought about how scary the unknown is to us, to each of us. The black expanse where everything is a silhouette or shadow instead of crisp outlines and lit up definition. 

I was thankful the conversation didn’t center around dementors. I wasn’t exactly schooled on my Harry Potter-ology, and wasn’t sure how one is to deal with dementors should there be an unfortunate encounter. 

As I was writing this, I couldn’t remember the name “dementor” and so I did a google search for “the dark ghosts in Harry Potter 3.” Not only did I find the name dementor, I also went on to read about a specific defense called the Patronus Charm, that evokes a positive energy force known as a patronus or spirit guardian.

It made me think about a certain album of lullaby music we had when our children were babies. The first song begins with a child saying, “Dear God, thank you for sending me angels to keep me safe.” 

In the future, should him and I have another dementor conversation, I will know about patronus, which is a good thing because now we have options. We will pull one of our painted magic wands down from the bookshelf and wave it towards that bedroom window where the dancing tree limbs cast ominous shadows on the walls and we will say whatever we need to say to feel as though the dark is for us not against us. 

I know now that there are some things completely out of my hands. For instance, I don’t get to command the darkness to go away. I don’t get to say, “Sun, come back out because my son is scared and cannot get to sleep and we all really need our sleep around here.”

The magic for me these days is a lot less “take this away” and a lot more “if this is how it is to be, how can I feel safe, loved, and full of wonder even here?" I think Jesus prayed them both. "Take this cup, but heaven forbid if I have to drink it, give me the will power to do so." So we ask the holy question, "How can I find the hidden magic while hunkered down right in the middle of all this damn 'paralyzed with fear?'"

Whether it’s angels or God or animal spirit guardians or hand painted magic wands, or talismans, or snuggling under blankets together or sitting under the moon to learn to trust her wild, or spells or prayers, it doesn’t matter to me. It might be all of these or none of these at different times. What matters is that when the ghosts in the darkness threaten to suck me dry, I will summon the courage to search for one more charm to get me through. And maybe this is another WONDER-full thing the dark gives us, the ability to recall and summon our own internal magic. 

My son came to me for help, sticking his little hand in mine. Harry Potter took anti-dementor lessons to learn the advanced Patronus Charm and he traveled with a band of vulnerable and loving wizard friends, and we, going Into the Dark Night, link Wild Mystic arms, so that should a dementor come for us, it will have to get past all of us.

I filled in a prompt in my right brain planner this week. It said, "Build a support team. Change your environment by finding others that affirm the secret messages, use their imagination and read clues. They must see gnomes and be Mad." Because see, I know now that when I am in danger of being depleted by a dementor, I don't need to call someone who will help me do the "right thing." I need to share space with a fellow imaginer. Someone with eyes to see the protective spiritual aura already around me (whatever that may look like) when I feel like the timid and fragile human who is being sucked of life.

That is what Into the Dark Night means to me. It is a gathering of those who have decided to embrace the dark that is not leaving and remind each other in howls or whispers, chants or siren song, hymns or mantras, hugs or love letters, lit candles and incense or blowing prayer flags that even in the face of everything it is actually very well with my soul. There is still time to join us. Care to blow the dust off your magic wand? 

Secret Rebel Club - Paper Turkey Feathers

"I thought you were going to tell me things would look better in the morning or something. I was preparing to murder you."

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

I despise the thankful lists. Maybe it’s because I filled out one too many construction paper feathers for the turkeys in elementary school. Maybe it’s because I learned it was the obligatory way to end any prayer, because after you’ve asked for a bunch of crap, you best be telling God, if you know what’s good for you, that you do notice at least some of what he’s already given you. Or maybe it’s because the thankful lists start to come across as standardized forms where you check the boxes before family, faith, health, food, friends and home. In small print at the bottom the form reads: To maintain your likability, be sure to leave no box left unchecked.

November rolls around and you might as well get yourself a whole paper pad of these forms. You’re going to need them to prove you have a heartbeat. 

For all the angst and disgust and bristling I feel towards the thankful lists, don’t let me fool you. I am a softy. One Thanksgiving I...

{Continue reading at Secret Rebel Club.}

Secret Message Society Zine - Issue 20

Before I do a sneak-peek of the newest issue of the Secret Message Society Zine, I wanted to share a touching story with you from a Secret Message Society Member. 

She sent this photo to me of a drawing she took, side-by-side with a page from a Secret Message Society Zine. 

Then she said this:

So, this picture in your zine blew me back into my past. The one I drew is a character my Mom used to doodle ALL the time. (That's what he looked like to the best of my memory.) I lost her when I was 17 back in 2001. Not my favorite Life experience but we all have our stories, right? :) Anyways, I just wanted to share that because it felt too important to keep to myself. She doodled all the time, especially when she talked on the phone. I'm a little sad I don't have any of her doodles. All I can do is re-create that guy. He always reminded me of Cousin It. He was my favorite too.
So to see something so similar in a space I find so healing just makes me feel I'm still on the right path. She's always sent me obscure signs. I'd say this is one. :) 

Hugs & Such,
me

This is why so many of us in the Secret Message Society just keep going - because we know there is a secret message always hiding for us, just around the bend, and when we find it, we are sure, once again, that our mad, messy, vulnerable, intuitive Self is not only welcome here, but it is both creating and accepting a world we can thrive in. 

ISSUE 20 has arrived!

Members can tiptoe into the Secret Lair for a digital download right NOW!

Issue 20 features Angie Byers as the centerfold artist! 

I can't wait for you to see the contributions by members Gina KimmelRobyn Ann Bogart, Briana of Orange Spiral Arts, Whimsy Moon Spirit, Hillary Rain, and Prudence of PrudyChick.

I would really love to send you my gypsy journalism in the mail. There are digital and snail mail options available. AND, there are additional perks to belonging to the Secret Message Society. 

Read about them HERE.

Back issues are available in my Etsy store. Once they sell out they're gone. 

Here's your peek at Issue 19:

yes i can have.jpg

Secret Message Society - November Centerfold

SECRET AND RARE INCOGNITO PHOTO OF VISUALLY ORIENTED.

SECRET AND RARE INCOGNITO PHOTO OF VISUALLY ORIENTED.

THE LUCKY 13!

Name: 

Angie Byers

Alias: 

Visually Oriented

Secret mutant power:

Secretly encouraging others (SHHH!! Don’t tell!!)

Current art medium/creative endeavor I am exploring:

Photography, Writing, Digital art, mixed media, liquid acrylics all combined 

A Secret Message I found in the last week:

Life is more beautiful (in color)

A stranger I interacted with recently: 

A young Russian truck driver who’s trucking company was called Popeye Trucking, complete with Popeye the Sailor’s face

A word that means a lot to me right now: 

Release. But, quiet is another that is working within me currently as well. 

When I don’t feel like my art matters I tell myself: 

Who am I kidding?! I usually panic and then remember that I CAN’T possibly be the only person feeling this way. That usually helps, LOL!

I knew I was an artist when: 

I was able to draw the girl in the “draw me for for $10,000” advertisement that was in EVERY magazine that I read in the 90s. 

A rule I like to break: 

That things have to be aligned perfectly, or that nothing can be messy. I am always a bit messy, so now I just embrace it!!

This is what the Secret Message Society means to me: 

A place where artists of all types can come together and share our secrets with each other 

Here is something I created that I want to share with you:

1. The ledger itself is from the 40s/50s.

I used colored ink, liquid watercolors and liquid acrylics (like ink in a way) and tried to keep the liquids more opaque so that the old handwriting would show through. The photos are taped in, as they fell out of my window and I was trying to just keep them somewhere protected, and then I liked the result. 

2.  Rust to Restoration.

I love old cars, and car parts, and cruise ins. This photo was taken strictly in B&W mode on my DSLR. I have been trying to learn more about B&W photography and what does and doesn't make it "work." Being a detail oriented photographer most of my photos are only the parts and pieces that I am enamored with. {There are very few full car photographs in my archives - unless it was something that I had never seen before) Life is in the details, you know? I find beauty and depth in rat rods such as this one. There are so many personal nuances that this man had made a part of his car "art," that it was hard not to crawl inside and ask it questions. 

If we meet on the street we’ll know each other as undercover artists by:

Fun jewelry! Artists ALWAYS have fun jewelry – and BOOTS!!! 


Angie Byers is a creative mess maker, photographer, writer, and mixed media artist. She is a charm bracelet loving, Coca-Cola drinking, Jeep driving, tomboy, who can’t afford enough cowboy boots, funky jewelry, cameras or typewriters. She decorates her home with vintage furniture and old car parts. She is a lover of the color RED, a magazine addict, and a quote collector who chases old cars and searches for rusty things to photograph. This native West Virginian now resides in North Carolina and dreams of becoming more attuned to her Pirate side.  

She can be found on Instagram under the name “Visually Oriented” (which she feels should be changed to something more Pirate-y sounding) and she has an on-again, off-again relationship with her blog visuallyoriented.blogspot.com


IMG_20140715_070109.jpg

Each month I am featuring one Secret Message Society Member, both in the Zine and on my blog. I want you to see some of the creative ways these artists think, explore, live. When you open the Zine to the middle you will see an enticing double page spread designed by the centerfold artist. There will be a companion post here on my blog where I ask them a Lucky 13 questions. Want to join our grassroots movement of artists who are actively collecting, creating and inviting Secret Messages into their life?! You can subscribe here and/or get more details. 


Untraditional Shiva Meets Dia De Los Muertos

Last year on Halloween, I was wrapping up an I Am Thrashing series on my blog as celebration of the release of my book Thrashing About With God: Finding Faith on the Other Side of Everything.  When I was asking friends, family and other thrashers to consider writing a piece, my friend Valerie agreed right away and asked if she could take October 31 as her day to post.

The day meant a lot to her, especially since, in her words, she had "in 2010-2012 experienced a divorce, the death of both parents, the death of my only aunt, the death of 5 pets, the death of a friend, the loss of my main source of income, the loss of my house, a major move across country." She valued the day of Samhain, "the day where the veils are thin between worlds and the dead are whispering."

In March of this year, I found out my friend Valerie died. She was 58. Shortly after finding out I threw myself into a very healing and growing time of mourning that I called an Untraditional Shiva. 

I have just let this Untraditional Shiva continue as I have need or desire, so when Halloween rolled around this year, all I could think about was how much this day meant to her as a holy day. A day to listen to the dead whisper that, "all is well, that life is a grand and glorious dance of energy moving and flowing, of God appearing in all forms, always perfect."

I didn't spend extensive time planning out my agenda. I just did as Valerie said she did, " I ride the wave of God in action."

Minutes before we were to leave for a Halloween party I decided to paint my face inspired by the Dia de los Muerte skulls. I am not much of a horror person. I loathed being scared by people in my neighborhood during Trick-or-Treat as a kid. As I painted my face pale white and put the black rings around my eyes I kept asking my kids if I was too scary for them, but they were cheering me on.

It is something I never would have been bold enough to do on my own, but thinking about doing it for Valerie meant I could do it with out question. Of course. It felt like I was tapping into the energy of an ancient ceremony that honored those we love who have gone into an unknown realm. The quick application of the makeup was so tender and emotional for me.  I felt transformed into a being that could truly tap into the sacred act of aching and loving a dear friend and all that she embodied.

I borrowed my lips from the Queen of Hearts in Tim Burton's Alice and Wonderland. The three dots by my right eye are a spiritual symbol that stuck with me when I saw a poster of a woman hanging in the window of a hair salon last Fall when I was visiting my friend Janae in Oregon. They signify the trinity to me - Mystery Messy Mad.

I donned my lacy black slip, red tutu, fire tights, and black and white striped leg-warmers. While dressing up I started to feel playful and light. I thought of when Valerie was asked in an interview where she grew up, and her response was, "I'm not sure I have grown up."

I read about how The Day of the Dead celebration (and it is a celebration) can often encompass Oct 31 - November 2, so I decided to make it an occasion. I gloried in having the weekend off of work.

I made pumpkin pie. I burned incense. I drank coffee from my Neverland Mug. I painted my fingernails black. I watched Nightmare Before Christmas and drew the characters on cards so I could send them off as love letters because Valerie taught me so much about the other side of thrashing, which is softening.

I feel it as if she saw me through to the other side and then left me to figure out the softening bit on my own. She left me clues. She still leaves me clues. But is it possible that the softening bit is even harder than the thrashing bit? I am SO thankful I got to experience some sort of awakening while she was still present in this realm.

I took my kids to see The Book of Life, knowing, just knowing, that it would be full of timely #secretmessages for me. I jotted down favorite quotes like this:

"Going there would be certain doom."
"Well, it's a good day for doom."

And this:

"You didn't have to live the life written for you. You are writing your own story."
*(In her own words, Valerie reinstated this truth to me over and over.)

And this:

Love never dies.

I thought about how my biggest fear, just like Manuelo, has been the fear of being myself because maybe no one would love me any more, and how Valerie managed to love me big through every thrash, flinch, punch, kick, and scream along the way. It can be so embarrassing to try and be yourSelf.

I built an altar of remembrance and read some more chapters in a book called The Sparrow that she had suggested to me. On All Soul's Day, I picked three Tarot cards (Valerie shared her love of the Tarot with me the last time we met in person. I felt like she had a way of always waiting for me to ask questions before she revealed something. She was never in a rush. Never operating under pretense.) Last night I spent some time exploring the cards' significance. The third card I picked was to be what Valerie wanted to tell me, and it was spot on to the direction I feel drawn.

I am very protective anymore about who I will let speak into my life. I feel very sure that the only voices I wish to vulnerably internalize are those who cheer on my quest to be more and more my Mad self. With Valerie's death I felt a blessing of sorts, and that was echoed loudly over the weekend. A blessing reiterating that I have what I need inside me now, and I must create the Neverland reality her and I spoke of in our last few conversations. 

I am here to bend the rules. To be a colorful fool rushing in to love too much. To "always play from the heart." To not listen to or believe in anyone who is taking me away from my Mad beliefs I am making. 

Valerie said her unusual spiritual path ended up being her bedrock of grace when things were difficult. What was real to most people was not real to her. She created and received secret message transmissions at a different frequency than most. She was my self-proclaimed woo-woo friend, who entered and exited my life like a soft black curtain blowing in the most gentle of breezes. She deepened the Mystery and expanded my capacity for Love and helped to awaken my mystical spirituality in subtle, tender, laughter-filled ways. She allowed me a safe cocoon to find my own reason to be here when all the reasons had escaped me.

This Untraditional Shiva has and will continue to be a portal for me to find riches in a thrashing life once drained of hope. It's as if my friend Valerie pulled a paintbrush and a writer's pen out from behind my ear, long ago tucked there in an effort to retire from my own larger than life desires, and she tucked them back into my fists and she coaxed me to spill open once more, only this time, for my own sake. And to be honest, I'm trembly about that.

I am still make believing what this all gets to look like. 

P.S. My dog ate the pumpkin pie before anyone got a slice. Trick or treat? How's that for dark humor?