Go Ask Alice

It was a warm summer day that gave rise to the tale Charles Dodgson wove to entertain his neighbors, Alice Liddell and her sisters. Boating down the river Thames, he spun a tale of pure magic for the girls. At Alice’s insistence he wrote it down, so the story wouldn’t disappear. In 1865, it was published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland under the pen name of Lewis Carroll. Nearly every year since that time a new edition of the book is published somewhere in the world.

An interesting man, Charles Dodgson was a mathematician and a scholar. In other words, the left side of his brain was highly developed. How in the world did he access the level of artistry needed to create his wonderland masterpiece? I think by making up the story for the sheer pleasure of it. No pressure to perform in any capacity, his lighthearted muse was given free rein. What came through him was a gift to delight the ages.

Once again, the lazy days of summer are upon us. A perfect time to untether our imaginations and dabble in our creativity. There is no better time to try something new, just for the fun of it. Charles, a shy bachelor, certainly was out of his element when he penned Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for the Liddell girls. Who knows what we are capable of bringing forth in the spirit of joy.

And it’s down the rabbit hole we go…

I based Alice on my niece Andi. A more perfect Alice there never was.

I based my Alice paper doll on my niece Andi. A more perfect Alice there never was.

Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.


Ready to Let Go

And why are children the most beautiful flowers of all? Because they allow themselves to be who they are. Without agendas, they flourish in the now. Whether the sun shines or buckets of rain pour, it’s a good day. We are all born with a sense of wonder,  but it soon fades. We learn not to trust our own nature. It happens to some earlier than others, but it’s rarely escaped. This lack of trust is the root of why we think we have to control every aspect of our lives. It’s not only self-defeating but futile. I’ve spent years praying for my hands to unclasp the control I hold so tightly. I have come a long way. I’ve discovered that I don’t know what is best for others or myself. I am open to what life brings me – most times.

 An area I’ve found impossible to loosen my grip on is my creative process. I have a schedule in my mind that I’m never able to adhere to. Always pushing, I resist any interruption in my work flow. When something does get me off track, the wheels of reprimand begin turning in my brain. Why do I hold on so tightly? Because my creativity burns like a fire in me. I’ve guarded and protected it my whole life. I’m afraid to let it run its own course. If I do that, will it eventually die away?

 Matthew 6:34 reads, “Therefore do not worry for tomorrow; for tomorrow will look after its own.” Does that mean if I let go, my commissions will be completed in perfect timing? Have my attempts to direct the flow actually interfered with the Creator’s plan? Why am I so insistent that illustrating is a 9 to 5 job anyway? My attempts to manage only seem to bring frustration.

 I am ready to take a leap of faith and live like a child. That means being immersed in the now and turning my creative undertakings completely over to God. I’ve done that in other areas of my life. Remembering the peace of being guided makes this leap less scary. I’ve learned life works itself out and to count on the missing pieces coming to me. Stress is a sure sign I’ve taken control back. What spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle shared in a lecture makes good sense to me, “Enjoy the doing in the now. With the enjoyment of the doing also comes the power that flows into it. Enjoy the energy that flows into the doing and it becomes empowered. And then the goal looks after itself.”

 Yes, I’m ready to let go. If flowers and children blossom at exactly the right time, then my paintings will too.

 Is there anything you cling too?

Aine, my little muse.

Aine, my little muse.

Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.