I Stopped.

I Stopped.

For the first time in my life I stopped. I stopped creating, making new work, for a year. I’d never stopped before, never stopped experimenting, pouring everything out into my drawings, ever. It was always where I knew I could go to make peace with who I am, remember why I’m here. Pure expression, without compromise in the privacy of my studio. I knew I could always meet my own Self there, without a doubt. It was all there, wanting to be drawn, made visible, always. I obeyed that calling consistently. It’s been one of the greatest pleasures of my life and the most life affirming but for this past year I just had to stop.

Without connection, communication, without an alignment with the outer world this does not work. I am not in this solely for my own pleasure. I could no longer carry on in this way without my tribe, allies, collaborators, a consistent exchange on every level. So I stopped. I will stay here until Grace moves me and brings who and what is needed to continue. There is nothing passive about this kind of stillness. Nothing to do with my work ethic. It is a place of power, containment, remaining sensitive to the timing and rhythm with what is.

Grace has been moving mountains all along. This is not a story of lack. This is an affirmation of the Truth, in writing. I’ve made a huge catalog of work over the years. Work that I am proud of and is timeless. Work that was made with all of my love, skill, passion, with the highest of intentions. Work that can not remain a best kept secret.

There can no longer be a separation of the work I make and my life, my own being. There must be an authentic embodiment of the women and the expressions I draw. I’ve realized that all this must be integral, made manifest, not just on a piece of paper. I asked, prayed, for the changes and shifts needed to unfold so that what I know to be true, good and right for myself could finally manifest. Passion, love, skill, service, in relationship of every kind.

And well, I was brought to a grinding halt. In the Spring of 2013 I had a physical and emotional collapse. This had happened once before over ten years ago during a time when it was clear that I needed to switch gears so when this happened again I at least knew what was going on. And so, the process began. It got dark. I was sick and had to build my reserves back on every level with meditation, prayer, nutrition, every resource available. My marriage ended. My little family as I knew it had to completely change shape or I would never thrive in any way. The girls on the paper would just remain there, lifeless, stagnant, alone unless I allowed for this change to occur. As a mother I knew I had get to higher ground, or my own little girl would never thrive either. Your children, they see every part of you, every choice, and they experience the consequences of those choices. I had to obey what was calling me out, excruciating a choice as that was I did it. And so I stopped. Stopped the sacrificing and the over extending that my marriage devolved into. Along with that went my entire social structure. Lots of friends fell away as they will in the face of loss. Divorce, death, illness.. It’s not for the faint hearted or the fair weather friends. The ones that stay or enter at these times are the keepers. And as all this was playing out my father died. My father was never an ally although if he had known how to be one he would have been. Everyone does their best but that doesn’t make it enough. I suppose that’s where I learned all about the excessive sacrificing, doing without what was needed, endlessly resulting in coming up really short.

So I stopped. We’re so conditioned never to stop. Never, ever, unless absolutely forced to. I only knew how to persevere, that that was the best and the only strength. Courage to let it all go is a whole other thing. Faith in a power so much greater than yourself that all will and can return in a massive upgrade is a whole other thing as well. My eyes now only on the prize being a life where there is ease and depth and a gorgeous fulfillment that has nothing to do with striving or struggle, staying true to the best visions I can imagine. Those visions aren’t even yours to begin with anyway I realize. They themselves are a the gift. Those visions come with the grace and the power needed to manifest them. We get what we want, but we really do have to want it. I’m not talking about extreme grandiose ideals. I’m talking about being able to be in the world along with a community and a family that wholeheartedly has your back and you theirs, a partnership that is a true match to your depth and values, collaborations that are mutually beneficial in every way. None of this has been there really and why I’ve had to up my conviction and just stop – stand in the attainment of it all while none of it is in sight. This is the kind of creativity that is required now. It may look like doing nothing to some but alas it is a very potent and poignant pause. A pause that only those who’ve been down that dark tunnel of not knowing in the slightest what’s going to happen next and of loosing a lot at once can understand. A pause that magnetizes only what is good and true and best for everyone because that is the only intention.

We’re in a world now where we’re all mostly about exposing and constantly sharing our most polished, idealized, filtered selves. I for one love a perfected presentation but for now this is the part of the art and life that I want to share because this part does serve at the end of the day. The process of building your own world comes with much defeat, feeling defeated and exhausted, coming up empty when you’ve given and expressed from your depths with the absolute best of intentions. But this is what I’m learning now, defeat, feeling defeated, is just a habit. There are SO many ways to see a situation. SO many perspectives and angles if you can just walk around it and keep looking until the Truth emerges. The Truth has zero failure, pity, isolation, sorrow. Those feelings may arise but always there is another layer underneath. Keep going, it’s there. I promise. It’s deep inside but you have to get so quiet and still sometimes to find it. Thank GOD for my steady meditation practice.

If you’re a pioneer in any sense this is what you’ve signed on for. Get into it. In one sense you can’t be reliant on approval from others and at the same time, there is a need for others help, assistance, camaraderie in a very real way. I had to stop because I do need to do this in relationship with others. I can’t carry on as I have, making work in almost total isolation without enough of an exchange in the ways of communication, visibility, utilization..

I trust that there is magic in this exact moment. That in this moment are the seeds of recognition and reciprocity that will soon grow and evolve way beyond expectation. Vulnerability, gentleness, forgiveness, compassion and togetherness are in the potion of this moment. I’m a good witch. It’s all very personal, and by all means I hope universal. It’s my birthday in a few days as I write this. Another new beginning. Soon I will be back on my feet, blossoming and creating in every way. I am deeply grateful for that, for being alive, for second, third and forth chances.. I’m going to pull this one from the archives. The “finale” from the Gloire’ series made about twelve years ago. She is timeless, infinite and very ready to serve in the way that she was made to. May it be so.


Gloire, Finale, 2003
Sumi ink and collage on paper


  • mandana says:

    I am deeply moved, and energized, and contemplative, and so, so adore you.

    It may seem as if I’m confused about the calendar, but…spring is coming.


  • Malcolm says:

    Hang in there, Tobie!

  • Junko Wong says:

    Sometimes when you Stop, you get a chance to breathe a different kind of air, see a new path ahead and pick up some scattered pieces around you and find things you thought were lost. Enjoy the Stop time. Itʻs like a little nap. You will be refreshed after.

  • Mark Moore says:

    You are wonderful! It’s ok to stop… but nothing will ever really stop you for long. You’re too strong and talented.

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