Secret Message Society Zine - Issue 16

Secret Message Society Zine Issue 16 printed successfully and was set free yesterday morning. Don't forget, members, you can tiptoe into the Underground Lair (WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING) and download your digital copy. Snail mail copies will be arriving soon.

Issue 16 features Gina Kimmel as the centerfold artist.

It also has contributions by members Deb Taylor, Carolyn Jo Hilton, Cassandra Aswani, Hillary Rain and Marian Jones. 

I would really love to send you my gypsy journalism in the mail. Become a member HERE, or read more about the zine HERE.

Back issues are available in my Etsy store. $10 for the previous issue. $5 for all remaining available back issues. Once they sell out they're gone. 

Here is your sneak-peek at Issue 16:

Secret Message Society - July Centerfold





Gina Kimmel


Umma (어머니) 

Secret mutant power:

Finding the beauty amongst the everyday ordinary moments.

Current art medium/creative endeavor I am exploring:

Lately I’ve been working towards creating a life for myself filled with pleasure

– pleasure in the movement and flow, pleasure in the unknown, pleasure in the everyday delights, and that which ignites my soul.  

A Secret Message I found in the last week:

“Perhaps love is not something you need to seek any longer. It is not something you will finally get more of one day, just as soon as you pray enough, meditate in the right way, forgive better, accept more deeply, finally ‘let it all go’, rest as the ‘witness,’ stay in the ‘now’, and become a perfect spiritual person. Friend, you will never find more love, for love is what you are.”
~Matt Licata

A stranger I interacted with recently:

This past weekend, I interacted with several strangers in one spot during our morning yard sale.  

It was so interesting to sit back and see what everyone was searching for - what sort of treasures caught their eye, allowing you a small peek into their being.  

A word that means a lot to me right now:


Space has been something that I have been aching for lately, so I’ve been exploring ways to create it literally, spiritually, and emotionally in my life. 

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

that it restores me.

It allows me to live in the moment and connect to my Self.

I knew I was an artist when:

I could no longer keep the words contained inside.

They fought to break free and leapt onto the pages in front of me when I was younger.  They’ve been spilling out ever since. 

A rule I like to break:

The rule that says once you’ve started something, you have to finish.  

I like having the option to change my mind once in a while – or several times, if desired.

This is what the Secret Message Society means to me:

The SMS makes me feel at home, like I am walking amongst a group of kindreds, who are all searching for guidance from unseen forces that circle around us each day.

Even though we are spread out around the globe, I can feel their essence reach out to me when a secret message touches my soul.

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

In amongst the exploration to create a life of pleasure, here are the whispers that poured forth from my pen about what I hope to create…

A life that I can fall deeply in love with each and every day.
One that cradles me.
Allows me to roam free.
One that breathes in the sweet scent of sensuality across the nape of my neck.
A tantalizing adventure of the senses.
A life that allows me to break out of my shell.
One that mirrors my desires and
illuminates moments of beauty.
A life steeped in the divine nature of our Earth.
Where my words will be heard - my thoughts, my guidance, my intuition, and  voice.
One of seeing,
one that I could sink into each day and feel the release of time well spent.
One that makes something from nothing.
With variety,
and changing whims,
that dabbles in this and that.
Where I am tethered to nothing at all.
But bound to my pleasure.

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

the gentle tug we feel as our souls reconnect.   

Gina extracts connection and is witness to nature’s divine beauty daily. To find the truth that she pens as she captures them both, visit

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 this grassroots movement of artists? We are actively collecting, creating and inviting Secret Messages into our life and we'd love for you to join us! You can subscribe here and/or get more details. 

Hot Palms Pressed To Today

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Every day I jot down little notes about things in the moment. A lot of them make it into my zine, but many times I want to expound. I am ALWAYS thinking about how something I have experienced would translate into phrases, sentences, and paragraphs.

Ever since I've started working in the kitchen at a coffee shop, I have had epiphanies while working. Little lightbulb moments where I make a mental, and sometimes physical note (in my SpyBook): COME BACK AND REVISIT THIS. It's as if those little snippets get tossed into the back of a dark closet, and the whole day I am shoveling more and more stuff in on top of them. A little bit of laundry, a little bit of dish washing, a little bit of kid bonding and field tripping, a little bit of Love Interest smooching, a little bit of art slinging, a little bit of sitting and resting my feet and staring off into space.

Then suddenly I remember, OH YEAH, THERE WAS THAT THING I WAS GOING TO COME BACK AND REVISIT.  I know it's back there in the dark closet, I just don't want to dig for it. "Not just now," I say. So I sit and smile at that thing because it makes me so happy that it's there, waiting on me. The only energy I have to give it is to sit and smile. Some days that has to be enough.

Let me change directions for a minute, but I promise to tie it back together.

This probably won't come as a surprise to you (since I do have my hands actively in the whole secret message society thing and the secret rebel club thing), but I have a thing for diaries. (In fact, Rain and I are including some diary action in our upcoming Blushing Wild eCourse!)

The SECRET WRITINGS of Bridget Jones. Anais Nin. Anne Frank. Henry Miller. Jack Keruoac. Harriet the Spy, Mary Maclane. They all come to mind. I have been ruminating for awhile on how my blog could have this sort of flavor. Like anything, I know I will have to feel my way through it one experiment and theory and mistake at a time. 

Reading this post recently by StarGardener helped me realize I have been trying too hard. She is notorious for magically showing all sorts of people the way they have been trying too hard. You want a life of ease? She's your gal. I'm not overselling you either. She won't clean things up, but you'll feel a sort of relief. Like maybe those heart-felt things you've been tossing to the back of the closet could actually be tucked down into your bra for easy access and safe-keeping.

Her way of listing...

  • read serendipitous passages from the various books I have piled hither and yon
  • art journal my discoveries and random thoughts
  • capture some variance of a selfie

...made me think, maybe a good start for my blogging diary experiment is just to list the things that I curated for the day. Maybe the time constraints of throwing them all into giant paragraphs for the pieces to connect aren't necessary all the time. Maybe the random selections when glued down together on this, my Messy Canvas. will be as good a start as any, much like an almanac or my grandma's letters that record things like the weather, the date, the time, and how the garden is growing. 

I am John Nash in A Beautiful Mind pinning up #secretmessages in my war room.

To embody in my Mad skin means I am devoting so much energy to the action of living. A few years back the act of writing itself felt like my living. It was an escape and invitation after invitation extended to myself to COME ON DOWN AND LIVE ALREADY!

Now that I am actively living, writing feels like it's taking a new sort of flavor. Documenting the life. Collecting the #secretmessages. Observing the trail in which the White Rabbit has taken me. I'm not after a solution anymore, nor some grand resolution. I guess, ironically enough, I have returned full circle to documenting "Just the facts ma'am," like my journalism professor once taught. I know my facts are laced with poetry, but unless you have childlike eyes to see, you may not see anything at all in them.

Today's Facts:

  • The moon and the bird song and the way my bicycle headlight cast a street-sized giant shadow of my bike basket as I rode into work this morning.
  • The help I received from a co-worker, when I was drowning in a sea of food orders and wrestling down a moody waffle iron. 
  • Seeing my family show up unexpectedly at the coffee shop and getting to serve them breakfast. A hug from my daughter and teaching my son how to mop.
  • Choosing the word "Aching" as my Into the Dark Night prompt this morning and not feeling it spiritually but feeling it bodily in my boobs, in my heels, in my wrists, in the bruise on my shin from running into the dishwasher.
  • Serving breakfast to two women that could have easily been the two women in the "Let Me Take a Selfie" video.
  • The silver front-teeth on the smiling drive-thru worker when I told him, I was "out of it," when I COMPLETELY BYPASSED the speaker to order food and drove right up to the window. "I'll take care of you, no problem. What would you like?" I know I threw him off his game. I saw him shuffling receipts, like I had shuffled food receipts myself earlier that morning. He never let on though. His smile released me.
  • Noting things that come in threes. Like three sets of lightening bolts I saw today. And ordering three drinks today. One (as mentioned above) I forgot to order. One the barista forgot to make for me. One was walked off with by another woman, who then, having realized what she did, turned to me and said, "Oh my god, I'm so sorry. I'm so used to grabbing everything for everyone. I hope I didn't gross you out!"
  • Seeing a friend with red puffy eyes, and exclaiming simply, "Oh, are you sad?!" Then hugging her. Walking away thinking that seemed like such a silly thing to say, but also knowing it felt exactly right.
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  • The hard, clicking syllables of an Asian language (which I found out later was Vietnamese), and the way when one person talked, they all had something to say. I felt soothed by the unfamiliarity. Beckoned into delight that there is so very much I do not know.
  • The accidental smeared toe art of a pedicure, and my daughter's disappointment. 
  • A woman saying, "Paint me a design on my toes. Paint me whatever you want!" And then, when the art was done, her exasperated response, "Please take that off my toe. I really don't like that cupcake you painted."
  • Noting the times in the day I said the word "energy" and the phrase "I have a theory."
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  • Having a thought while flipping a waffle that perhaps I am allowed to live outside of normal humanity. That there are times where I truly am an innocent bystander or an unbiased third party, or a double-agent spy. That much of my rubbing up against humanity will be done with a detached fascination or holy sort of allure and that all I am asked to do is report my collective discoveries. To show one side of the railroad tracks that the people on the other side of the railroad tracks really aren't so bad. Or to simply admit to myself, when I stand outside of this "so called reality" and peer in, I see divinity popping up everywhere. God with all sorts of skin on, spinning like tops and hitting into other God with skin on.
  • My dog so excited to see me after a long day that he jumped on me and scratched my leg all up. Me kicking him and then feeling horrible about it. So me taking him outside and quenching his thirst with the garden hose while I watered my very own messy flowerbed.
  • Kissing my Love Interest and telling him, "Thank you for taking care of us all today." Because he cared BIG. And because I noticed.
  • Writing this post in between bouts of using crayons to draw with a little boy (who was not my son), and hearing him say, "Hey daddy, I am an artist."
  • Looking beside me just now and seeing the piece of paper on which he drew me a hand in red, his favorite color. One side of the paper has the mistake hand with 6 fingers and a thumb. The other side of the paper has the "correct" hand with four fingers and a thumb.
  • Me noticing I relate so much better to children than adults. 
  • Feeling the ground shake as a train rolls through.
  • The way I told a woman "I am so tired, I might fall asleep standing up and leaning on your shoulder for support." And how she didn't pull away from me when I said it.
  • The Fleetwood Mac song Never Going Back Again.

Maybe I don't have to connect all the dots for you. Or for me. Maybe I don't have to try so hard.

Maybe I can just use this, my She's Gone Mad blogging diary, to say, "This is how I showed up today, pressed my hot palms against Sunday, July 13. This is how I made art with my living and moving and having my own being."

I tell you (I tell me) - my life is full.

If the Shirt's Uncomfortable, Squeeze Into It

My truth is all I want to do some days is sit on cafeteria walls, swinging my feet like a little kid and wearing a shirt that screams “Beware of God!”
— Thrashing About With God
Nearly fifteen years later, I feel as if I’m the one slipping the tight black T-shirt over my head and squeezing my arms through freshman-sized armholes. The bottom black hem barely covers my belly button, and the white letters feel so hot I imagine they are being branded into my chest. I hoist myself up onto the cafeteria wall, and I pull out a pocket mirror and apply thick eyeliner. I am climbing into the brunt of what haunted me about that T-shirt, and I’m not backing down until I get some clarity, until I get some peace.
— Thrashing About With God

It's time I tell you the story of the little black T-shirt. 

In 2008 I was in my garage in California working on some art that felt as if it was going nowhere fast. For the last several months I had been trying to work on a manuscript with a working title of "I May Be Wrong." That too was going nowhere fast. But a vision kept popping into my head of a T-shirt that a girl in my high school used to wear. I hadn't thought about it for years, but the image wouldn't leave my mind. Sitting in my garage that day, willing something astounding to come out of my hands before my three kids woke up from their naps I found myself slapping paint into a thick black square in the middle of my giant watercolor notebook. And then, with a hesitancy of heart, but no hesitancy of hand, I painted the words boldly in white, "Beware of God."

Now I'd done it. I'd gone and brought that vision to life. Like a Frankenstein monster I could not disown, the creation once living on some other girl's chest was now resting in my hands. I was compelled to this #secretmessage despite all the sick feelings that accompanied it. You just painted yourself a helluva mess, my friend. I let the paint dry, shut the cover and never touched the notebook again. I wasn't ready to own the words as my own yet. I certainly couldn't show them to a soul.

In September of 2013, less than one month before Thrashing About With God was to be released, I sat in a coffee shop on an artist date and with shaky, excited hands I put in an order on the internet for a custom created black T-Shirt with white bold lettering. BEWARE OF GOD, it would say. My plan was to wear the shirt while shooting a promo-video for my book. The shirt came in the mail. The promo-video never happened, and with trembly, but resolute intention, I decided the shirt would become my book-signing shirt. 

I have to pause here and tell you it is important for me to use descriptive words like "trembly," "shaky" and "hesitancy" even though I know it would be to my benefit to use heftier words like "strong," "confident" and "sure." The words I have chosen, the more vulnerable ones, also aptly describe some of my feelings when I have worn the shirt in public. I want to be clear that despite my absolute intention of owning the shirt and desiring its complicated message, it does not get adorned without a bit of a flinch each and every time. I am also aware that some will consider this adequate proof that I should not be wearing it, but to them I say, BALDERDASH. Just because something is challenging doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile or meaningful.

Sometimes, when my lights and darks co-mingle and I feel especially light and frolicsome in my dark T-shirt, I feel like BEWARE OF GOD Barbie, and let me just tell you, that's a weird feeling.

Sometimes, when my lights and darks co-mingle and I feel especially light and frolicsome in my dark T-shirt, I feel like BEWARE OF GOD Barbie, and let me just tell you, that's a weird feeling.

The first time I wore the T-shirt (at my first book-signing) I found it did the job at creating conversation. One woman said to me, "Your shirt makes me so sad." Another man said to me, "I think I need one of those in all different sizes for me and all my stair-stepped kids." Both conversations unraveled into great depths I didn't anticipate going, which made my heart light. This is, after all, what I wanted - discussion on things seldom ever spoken of, and less of me talking and more of other people sharing. I had my say in my book. I wanted other people to speak up about the honest to goodness hard stuff of faith and doubt. I found the shirt stirred emotion, and I liked the passionate engagement it drew out of people.

"Explain yourself," they'll say, pointing at my chest.

I usually talk a little bit. Share it's context within the book. Try to be amiable, but what I'm really wondering is, "What does it mean to you?" Because I know ultimately this isn't going to be a question I can answer for them, and I want them to sit with it.

The last book signing I went to I caught myself staring into the mirror before I left and subconsciously covering up the words with my big sloppy purse strap. I asked myself why I was doing that. I realized it was because my babysitter might be turned off by it. It seems if I have a hunch that someone I know won't approve of the shirt or be worried about me and my slipping faith or think of me as an unsafe person to be around, I just soon avoid that sort of confrontation. In other words, I'm not wearing the shirt with an "FU" attitude, saying if you're in good with God than I hate you or if you have a moment, let me rip into everyone of your religious beliefs, set them on fire and leave you in a pile of ash. Sometimes I imagine that's the message it gives off. 

I'm wearing the shirt because it stirs stuff up in me, stuff I may never even completely get to the bottom of. I'm wearing the shirt because it insinuates that this spirituality stuff is by no means safe or comfortable or pretty or clean, and I think it's a huge disservice to give testament to the light and pretend like we've sent all the dark packing. None of us have sent the dark packing.

One day I was waiting in line to pay at the drug store, when I saw an elderly couple enter the building. The woman went straight to shopping, albeit at a slow pace, and the man went to get a shopping cart. They look tired. Really tired. And achey. They carried their bodies fragilely, and with their aura I felt the weight of the world resting heavy, tugging their skin into wrinkles. The man pulled one shopping cart away from the others and begin to walk with it until he noticed it had a bum wheel. It was obviously difficult to maneuver, the wheel sticking at first and then sliding loose and spinning in all directions.  

"Well, are you coming?" His wife asked him, annoyed by his delay.

"No, dammit I got a buggy with a bad wheel," he retorted.

This is why I wear that confounded BEWARE OF GOD shirt. Why I put it on again, every now and then, with a deep sigh and say, "You can do this! Wear it one more time." Because I don't see it as a slap in the face to everyone who is quite happy with their God. I see it as a hand in the dark on the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Days where you thought it couldn't possibly get any worse and then you go to the drug store and get the damn cart with the screwy wheel. I don't care how much holy water you've drank or how often you flip through the pages of your sacred book, somedays you just get served the screwy wheel. Can we all just admit that?

My T-shirt is the dark humor, the comic relief, the whispered "me too" when it seems like everyone else gets all the breaks and you're left wondering why things work out for everyone but you. Why God smiles on the bright and shiny "noble" people and turns his back on the dark and twisty you of today that spilled your drink on your nice new shirt, stubbed your toe getting into the shower, yelled at your kids, and woke up with a twinge in your back that's been taunting you all day long. 

You know what I love? The spy in me loves that I ALWAYS meet characters when I wear my T-shirt because it seems to snap people out of their "oh hi, how are you" routine and invites a little edge to the moment. I am not good at manufactured edginess, which I think is why I revolt against the shirt a bit each time I put it on. I don't much like being a walking billboard for angst because I like the fluidity of getting to change who I am at any moment. But I have to say, I've never been disappointed by my time in the shirt. Slipping my arms through the armholes and squeezing my headful of dreadlocks through the opening, I always ask myself, "What does BEWARE OF GOD mean to you today?" And the answer is always different and largely uncontainable in the common vernacular of prose. It's probably another reason I keep coming back to it. In some convoluted way, the shirt gives me great hope for us in this process of being human and rubbing up against some semblance of divinity.

The Wild Mystics, Into the Dark Night eCourse is essentially Hillary Rain and I handing you your own Beware of God T-shirt. Squeeze on in if you're up for a little taste of the shaky, trembly, hesitancy. You are welcome. All is magic. All is mystery. All is grace. We begin THIS SUNDAY, July 6.

I want you to know what you are doing right now is brave. Really and truly brave. And I want to invite you up onto cafeteria walls with me. I have an extra T-shirt, and if we sit up here together, they’ll have a much harder time getting us to come down. Sometimes you have to rage against the machine before you can make your peace with it, and you’ve been quiet and scared and polite for a really long time. I just want you to know there ain’t nothing wrong with a little bit of soul-searching.

We get up here, together, on this wall, and we realize we’re high enough to drown out all the other voices. The shoulds, the have-tos, the musts that others shout at us. We can’t hear them up here. We get on to the brave business of digging into our own hearts’ questions. Of asking God, “Why is there so much to be afraid of? Why aren’t You safer? What if I’d rather not believe You exist at all?” Of listening to the fears and furies that have been waging war on our insides in a battle to be heard. We give questions voice, and we find that when we do, when we step into the darker, unexplored sides of God, the mystery doesn’t swallow us as we dreamed it might, but it opens up a whole new world of wooing adventures.

So let them think our eyes are hollow for a bit, because, friend, we’ve got some dancing to do down deep. You are not alone.

We go in together. We come out together. Changed.
— Thrashing About With God

June Secret Message Giveaway

Each month I send out a monthly newsletter to Messy Canvas subscribers, and in it, each month I give a piece of mini-art away. The above #secretmessage is the art giveaway for June which ends tonight! To be eligible simply sign up for the Messy Canvas newsletter list. 

If this #secretmessage really speaks to you, I also have a limited number of prints available in my Etsy store. 

July begins tomorrow, and we are going to show up strong!

Be You Media Group - Artist of the Week

I was introduced to Jenn Grosso through reading a book called Indie Spiritualist by her husband Chris Grosso. Her vision for life is inspiring. 

Read this selection of words from her bio and see if she doesn't sound like someone to fall in love with:

Jenn Grosso hails from a far and distant land impervious to the mundane and the conventional. Her eclectic interests always begin with an overwhelming curiosity, which catapults her into fanatical investigations and explorations.

I was thrilled when she invited me to participate in an Artist of the Week feature at Be You Media Group. (It's a new website to me, and I've really enjoyed peaking around!) I'm also giving away a signed copy of Thrashing About With God, so come over for a visit!

Ready to Taste July Fully?

Right brain planning collecting feathers for the wings you dream of.
— StarGardener

I'm giving away a July Right Brain Planner! I'm giving it away because every time I sit down to use mine I well up with joy that there is a place to hold bits and pieces of my future, so I can continue to live in my present.

For instance, I know I need to go to bed early tonight, but I also know my head is spinning with all of the little pieces of excitement I haven't quite gotten to. I need a way to string the intentions together so they won't go flying off in the gusts of an active dream state. I need to know when it's time to rest, I get to give myself entirely to the rest. I also need to know I can trust my decision to rest, so I don't lay in my bed tossing and turning with second-guessing.

My Right Brain Planner reminds me, through the artwork and prompts by StarGardener, that I can trust my heart, trust my timing and trust my focus. Each month a spacious invitation to continue expanding to make more room formy Mad soul shows up in my mailbox. It's like being mailed time. Being mailed possibility. Being mailed permission. It invites me into the nitty-gritty of my work.

I want to invite you into the nitty-gritty of yours. 

In the comments below, please tell me why July is asking you to show up strong!

I will pick randomly via the blog comments. Everyone who leaves a comment is eligible to win. One entry per person. 

Enter by this Sunday, June 29 at 9 PM Central. I will post the winner IN THE COMMENTS on late Sunday night. Winner must provide me with their mailing address, and I will get it out ASAP in the mail to you, so you can get started!


Secret Rebel Club - She Won't Take No For an Answer

“Hi! Do you guys love coming to the pool?”

The woman was about two chaise lounges down from us, and I think she was talking to my kids. I had seen her walk in with her daughter. She had a black bathing suit on with an attached skirt to hide her thighs, although I figured her thighs were probably just fine under there.

Her daughter had a rainbow leopard print bathing suit on, the same bathing suit as my daughter. Upon arrival they waded into the shallow end of the pool together. The woman had a tiny change purse in one hand. I speculated what was in it. Smokes? Car keys? A phone? Money? I wondered if it was waterproof. All of this wondering happened somewhere a few layers back in my brain while I was busy thoroughly enjoying a book of Bukowski poetry. 

This is an excerpt. Story in full at [Secret Rebel Club.]

Secret Message Society Zine - Issue Fifteen

This is why I love printing the #smszine with the same person for 15 months. We've gotten to know each other a little better. We have enjoyable chit-chat. He noticed my feather earrings and asked if they were new and we talked about chili and smoked ribs and pie. I imagine you and I would have similar conversations if we lived in the same place. But since many of us don't, I give you my 20 pages of #secretmessage conversations, folded and stapled in a messy little booklet.

Secret Message Society Zine Issue 15 printed successfully and was set free yesterday morning. Don't forget, members, you can tiptoe into the Underground Lair and download your digital copy. Snail mail copies will be arriving soon.

The cover art is created by my son, Nehemiah. It is a portion of some doodles he did during the course of a school year, and I fell in love with them.

Issue 15 features Cynthia Lee as the centerfold artist.

It also has #secretmessage contributions by members Deb Taylor and Angela Byers.

I would really love to send you my gypsy journalism in the mail. Become a member HERE, or read more about the zine HERE.

Back issues are available in my Etsy store. $10 for the previous issue. $5 for all remaining available back issues. Once they sell out they're gone. 

Here is your sneak-peek at Issue 15:

Secret Message Society - June Centerfold

Cynthia is a dear online connection. When I went through the massive Facebook Friend cleanse of 2012, mainly because I was doing a lot of thrashing and I felt highly vulnerable and exposed, Cynthia made the cut.

We've never met in person, but through her own writing and art and living out loud I felt at ease with her. She was asking a lot of hard questions too, and I liked that. My goal on Facebook was to whittle it down to just a handful of people so that Thanksgiving day, I could write each and every one of my Facebook friends a meaningful note on their public wall. I was at a time in my life when I wanted to feel safe and know that my madness was being applauded. This meant tightening my social circle.

After that Facebook love note Cynthia wrote a beautiful note in response and we both dug in a little deeper with each other. I was invited to do an interview on her website. She wrote an #IAmThrashing post on my mine.  

I greatly appreciate and am inspired by Cynthia's unkempt rawness. It makes me feel welcome and uninhibited in her presence. My messy is invited in her spaces. She pushes limits and questions protocol and dares to rattle cages if necessary to be herself.

Back at the beginning of this year Cynthia decided June would be her centerfold month. She felt that it would be a highly significant time because June 6 she was turning 50. When June actually did make its debut Cynthia not only found herself marking a pivotal birthday, but was freshly experiencing the mixed feels of watching her mom "complete her journey home." Indeed Cynthia intuited something about the month of June, and now that it is upon us, I feel that there is power infused between the pages of this Zine. I can't wait for members to see the centerfold of June's zine. She let it rip! 

Cynthia, this June is for you. 





Cynthia Lee



Secret mutant power: 

I see locked cages and rattle them until the gates fall open. 

Current art medium/creative endeavor I am exploring: 

As a juxtaposition to the freedom-seeking wild spirit, I am exploring the expansiveness of boundaries and limitations.

Beginning with saying no, hitting pause, drawing lines in the sand, I am challenging the universe to show me just how much more less can be. 

A Secret Message I found in the last week: 

on the morning that my mother would enter hospice care, I had breakfast with my brother. When I went to the restroom, this is how the women's restroom was marked:

I immediately knew that this was the message that I would have wonder woman powers to see me through the next season. 

A stranger I interacted with recently: 

This is the most difficult question to answer.

I am a bit of a recluse and I rarely interact with strangers or maybe I just don't look at people as strangers. However, walking through releasing my mother to her life on the other side of death had me surrounded by strangers who were helping me, who were seeking the right words, who had their own work to do. I don't even really have words to attach to them because I am still in the roaring tunnel of absence. I am grateful for their attempts but when someone offers me their condolences, I don't know what to say. Thank you? That seems inadequate. There are lessons here about death and living. 

A word that means a lot to me right now:


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

I am not trying to change the world. I am merely trying to tell my story.

I refuse to die with this story still locked inside of me. Whether it matters or not, I still have to paint, to write, to create. In the end, art heals me and somehow, this matters to more than just me.  

I knew I was an artist when: 

In 2007 when an artist friend told me that there was something within me that needed to be released.

She sat me in the corner of a room with paint cans in front of me and told me to choose the colors that I loved, that spoke to me. I huddled there, sobbing, feeling like I wanted to run, to vomit, shaking. Finally, I took a deep breath, chose my colors, picked up my brush and with that first paint stroke, I was a goner. I fell in love with the process of discovering myself as an artist.

A rule I like to break: 

Any rule that says I can't. I guess that would be any rule. LOL!
I especially reject outright the notion that I am too old to do something that I want to do. 

This is what the Secret Message Society means to me:

It is a magical mystery tour of kindreds, the one place, space, that welcomes the weird ones like me. They speak my language here. Quite simple, these are my people. 

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

This is a charcoal drawing I made a few months ago.

I had avoided charcoals up until that point, not wanting to attempt something new, choosing to stay inside my safe knowing. I immediately loved working with this medium but haven't picked the charcoals up since then. I am sharing this with you as a reminder to myself (and to you) to try new things, to enjoy the process of playing for the first time, and to return to what feels good and right. 

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

paint speckled skin, rainbow freckles
eyes casting glances taking in the patterns, the light, the darkness
lips whispering secret passwords of truth

Cynthia Lee has released herself into the wild where she is recovering her natural instincts, her intuitive wisdom. She lives her uncaged life as a wife, mother of many, mi mi of two, artist, lifelong learner in the upstate of South Carolina. She rattles the cage  at

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 this grassroots movement of artists? We are actively collecting, creating and inviting Secret Messages into our life and we'd love for you to join us! You can subscribe here and/or get more details.