Sunday, January 24, 2010


My mandala... heals me.

Creating circles and mandalas is a self-healing practice. It is one way to literally draw yourself into being, to feel that we have our place in the cosmos amongst the other living beings and things.

I often come to the circle drawing empty, not sure where to begin, sometimes feeling burdened by thoughts. I enter the circle and let it draw me in... I leave feeling whole again and healed.

Mandalas are found in nature and in the nourishment we dish into our bowls, cups, and plates. Look around and you will see that mandalas abound. We live on a living breathing mandala! Caring for our planet Earth through the cultivation of gardens and plants is another way to draw yourself into the mandala ~ the circle of life.


Here are a few mandalas in my Mandala Set on flickr.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ode to Jesse

Jesse =^.^= the Wonder Kitty
Autumn, 1995-January 14, 2010

Jesse was born in 1995; my friend Darci and I got her from the Humane Society when she was 6 weeks old. She loves Yuki, nori, salmon, hunting lizards and birds, and napping. Jesse and Yuki were a pair.

In her 15 years, Jesse travelled a lot with Yuki and me and Darci. Jesse lived and/or travelled in/to Athens, Georgia; Tucson, Arizona; Monterey, California; Charlottesville, Virginia; Northern New Mexico; Ashland, Oregon; and to Ojai and Santa Paula, California. Jesse's formal name was Jesse Jane,

Jesse was a great camper and spent time camping with us in the mountains of Northern Arizona, at the Grand Canyon, through the South (Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas), on the Central Coast of California and in Mendocino County.

Jesse loved rolling in the dirt, napping in the sun, and roaming through the tall grasses like a petite panther or a silky jaguar. She enjoyed laying on my chest or sleeping curled up next to Yuki or me. Jesse loved her big dog brother, Yuki, and often kissed and licked his nose, face, and feet!

Before Jesse, I had never been so close to a cat or even another animal... Yuki and I are close, of course, but Jesse and I were different. When I painted or wrote, Jesse would lay on my shoulders and she'd helped me pick out colors.

I hand-fed Jesse for a few moments everyday. Some of her favorite foods were: broccoli, brown rice, kabocha squash, salmon, sardines, nori, kim, cauliflower, and tuna.

Jesse always waited outside for me to come home whenever I had been gone. Or if inside, she would stick her little head up into the window ~ she always knew when i was approaching, even if I was on foot or on bicycle and not in my car.

Our new kitty, Bodhi, loved his big sister, even though Jesse did not feel quite the same way... However, they were compatible travel cats as we travelled in our car through many states together.

Thank you, Jesse, for always and for everything. We Love you so much.

Enjoy more Jesse photos at the Jesse Set

Enjoy more Jesse & Yuki together photos at the Yuki & Jesse Together Set

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The power of feeling and pretending in the Practice of the Way

I'm thinking a lot these days about the link between my thinking and feeling of things and what I experience - my so-called 'reality'. In my own experience, I see that the power of feeling/thinking trumps reality. In other words, what I think and feel creates my experiences of reality. More and more, I am choosing to use my thoughts and feelings in the service of becoming, manifesting, and learning all that I want to become, manifest, and learn. I say, why wait for a certain event or condition to feel joyous, healthy, and abundant in all ways? With continual practice, I experience being joy-filled now. I feel the great, good health that I enjoy now, and I give thanks for all the wonderful abundance that is mine here and now, and so on.

I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh that "there is no way to peace, peace is the way." That is, we must feel, practice, and pretend that the peace is inside of us (because it is), even in those times when the 'reality' outside of us claims otherwise. There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way. If we want to change reality, we must become the change we want to see (to paraphrase M.K. Gandhi), and to live what we want to change even while living in and with what we are wanting to change, is none other than the Practice of the Way. In his teaching, Tibetan Buddhist master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche used the metaphor of the Great Eastern Sun: "hold the sadness and pain of samsara in your heart and at the same time the power and vision of the Great Eastern Sun. Then the warrior can make a proper cup of tea." And if you know me, that's the main thing, a proper cup of tea :)

About the image:
This is teapot no. 11 (311) in my 100 Teapots Series, Set 4,
"The Book of tea and light infusion: written by God" (though it looks like Goo)

Watercolor and red fountain pen ink on 180 lb. Arches cold pressed paper
© Nicole Raisin Stern

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Tea on Dash

teapot no. 55 (355) ~ kuruma de ocha (tea on dash)

"Tea on Dash" is teapot painting no. 55 in Set 4 of my 100 Teapot series paintings. I like painting my tea as I drink it.