the painted guru & a story of not ever fitting in

Even after all of these years of journaling, I'm still surprised at the particular wisdom that arises once pen hits the paper. It's never what I expect.

A peek inside of my “lazy journaling” journals

This post is an invite to a pretty great (and no cost) online event about creativity. But before I invite you, I wanted to give you a little context about why I’m participating, and why it might be worth your while.

Feel free to jump down to the signup link if you just want to get the goodies now. Otherwise, read on…

When nothing (especially me) seems to fit

Do you ever wonder why you have so many different passions, so many different creative mediums that you need to be engaged in?

Do you wonder how it all fits together? How these various pieces are even useful, or practical, or necessary?

Do you ever wonder where your peer group is? Your true community? (I’m trying not to use the word tribe.)

On particularly crappy days, you simply might just feel weird, like you don’t fit in, or terribly lonely for someone else who “gets it’.

I’ve been there and long wondered these things myself.

It’s really only been since I first googled “visual journal” — the term I used for my own creative process — back in 2001, that I began to feel a part of a community of like minded artists.

More recently, it’s clear me that having all of these different passions and interests is actually an asset, not evidence that there is something wrong with me.

Piecing the clues together 

There have always been several strong threads in my life that keep weaving themselves together — forming a tapestry, a body of work.

These threads include:


I was originally trained as a music and art therapist. My own personal healing journey began young, inspired to create a beautiful life despite childhood trauma. 


I’ve kind of been in the spiritual closet by design since I was about 30 years old, (longer story) so many of you don’t know I’ve always had some kind of spiritual practice: zen or vipassana meditation, and I’m also an ordained minister. My early travels off the beaten path were to study with various spiritual masters from many traditions.


As a lifelong artist in many media, including music, visual art and writing.

Keeping visual journals that incorporate writing and visual art inside sketchbooks (some call them art journals, or the process art journaling) is the longest thread. Keeping the visual journals is something I started as a child and kept doing in all aspects of my personal and work life.


As a therapist, I found that that best way to really help others was to teach them something. Teaching is something I love to do as much as create my own art. Teaching feels like part of my art and contribution to the world.

The Ultimate Work of Art

When I was trying to find meaningful work after college, there didn’t seem to be a career path that really suited me.

I didn’t find many peers who were trying to be artists AND therapists AND integrate holistic spirituality into their work. At all those mediation retreats and trainings, I was the youngest person in the room. None of this helped me feel “normal”.

It would be many, many more years before it dawned on me that I couldn’t find a suitable career path, because there wasn’t one. My career would be one more thing to be created by hand, like a one-of-a-kind work of art.

The ultimate peer group

Thanks to the Internet, and lots of other creative and teachers doing their thing online and writing about it, I’m finding a strong sense of community and connection among other like you and me:

people who have lots of creative passions, but also a desire to grow spiritually, and become emotionally and physically healthy. And also teach, help, heal, and make a difference through their creativity.

The Painted Guru – Online Event

I’ve recently been invited to speak at an online event designed to nurture creatives worldwide. It’s called: “The Painted Guru…Discover How Art Can Heal the Heart, Inspire the Soul and Soothe the Mind”.

When you see the lineup of presenters, you might feel like I do: like I am finally at home in the world of creativity in a community of kindreds who get it.

The word guru is a sanskrit word that means teacher, or master.

And don’t worry – you don’t have to be a painter or artist to benefit from this! If you want to nourish any part of your creativity, this is relevant for you.

Here’s what you’ll learn and receive from the community of artists who are presenting:

  • How to discover your voice and feel authentic in your expression.
  • How to create intuitively and honestly to awaken freedom on the canvas and in life.
  • How to use life stories as well as imagery and symbols in your creations.
  • You’ll hear stories that will speak to where you are and point to where you’re going as an artist.
  • You’ll learn you’re not alone in the ups and down of the creative life and will discover the benefits of making bad art and the secrets of passing through the rough patches.

If you’ve been longing to commune with other creatives and take your creativity to a new level, this is a great opportunity.

For 21 days, an amazing band of artists will inspire you with their insights, creative tips and stories. It might just change the way you create!

This online event is FREE.  Oh, yeah!

To get access, click the link below to sign up:

This will be a treat — for your body, mind, heart and soul!

Your Turn

If you care to dish a bit in the comments, I’d love to know:

What are the main threads that from the tapestry of your life?

What things have you secretly or silently wondered about your creativity?

Lazy Journaling?!

In case you read the caption under the photo of my journal at the top of this post and want to learn more about that – pop on over to the 30 Day Journal Project and find out. This is what I secretly refer to as lazy journaling.

14 Responses to the painted guru & a story of not ever fitting in

  1. m June 16, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    Just listened to the interview you did with Bebe, and really loved it! Well done!
    I especially enjoyed hearing about what you did with the young girls, starting from the end of the story. Ideas are swirling around in my mind about doing something similar myself.
    Your ideas never fail to awaken my inspiration!

  2. Debra Marrs June 7, 2015 at 11:28 am #

    Thanks for the heads-up on this, Lisa, and congrats on being one of the event speakers. And thank you, as always! for sharing pieces of your journey as you’re ready to do that. It’s amazing how we keep parts of ourselves safe by tucking them away. I do that too. I wonder if it’s because I heard “what do you want to do that for?” way too many times. Speaking of community, I wonder if that’s an element of others’ experiences too? I signed up and THANK YOU, dear one!!

  3. Helga Nehrkorn June 3, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

    Hi Lisa,
    Greetings from Queensland Australia 🙂
    Very much inspired by reading about your journey.
    I’m a part- time Special Education teacher, part time artist and my spiritual journey is ever unfolding.
    I’ve never allowed myself to be totally immersed in my artistic journey ….. my guidance is telling me, “nows the time”. I’m signed up!

  4. gail May 30, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    Thank you for this, Lisa! It’s a relief to know that others out there share my concerns/interests/struggles/successes in trying to craft an integrated life. Sometimes it seems lonely, but your blog (and others on the web) have been really helpful. I’m looking forward to this new experience; it sounds like just what I need.

  5. Michelle Casserley May 29, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

    Thanks Lisa, I’m with you, I have found a lot of my tribe online too <3

  6. Janice Macpherson May 29, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    Love to participate. Thank you Lisa.

  7. Julie Anna Johnson May 29, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    I already signed up! I’m so glad you are taking part. I’m having withdrawals just thinking about C+P being over.

  8. m May 29, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    Hey Lisa!
    I signed up and I am so excited! This was perfect timing for me. Yay! I can’t wait!
    Also, I have been savoring your amazing “Sketchbooks” and I am almost finished. I can relate to what you shared on so many levels. I also grew up in Michigan (near Detroit) and was a foster kid and have a mom-shaped hole inside.( I get teary-eyed just writing the word “mom” still, so I guess I have a lot of healing to do.) But I don’t feel so alone in it now, thanks to you.
    With deep gratitude ~M

  9. Fil May 29, 2015 at 10:18 am #

    Hi Lisa
    I’ve been finding recently that teaching is really getting in the way of my own creativity and the business side has always been tough – going out and selling yourself all the time. But since finding so many creatives sharing their experiences online, yourself included Lisa, I’ve been feeling more that my weird outside the norm existence is not weird at all – the community I’d been craving is there to be found and joined in with. My mix is music, knitting, finding a spiritual path and I am hugely drawn to painting but have no clue on how to proceed in it – in fact that’s actually a problem in a lot of my work – I feel the need to be taught and find experimenting a hard process … Aha, there’s a Eureka moment for me – never acknowledged that before. Fil

    • Lisa Sonora May 29, 2015 at 10:53 am #

      Fil – yay for Eureka moments. Thanks for stopping by today and sharing your story. It all helps us “weirdos” find each other!

  10. William Charlebois May 29, 2015 at 8:33 am #

    Thanks for the information. I signed up! I’ve tried offering two short and inexpensive classes online. It’s been difficult getting the word out. If I could do my life over again, which is a negative way of thinking about things at this point, I would definitely study to be an Art Therapist. That aside, the cost factor always hold me back from signing up for classes I want to take. A lot of us out here are broke. Thank you for sharing this free of charge.

  11. Suki May 29, 2015 at 6:36 am #

    Hi Lisa. Thanks for your story and the link to The Painted Guru. I have signed up and it sounds fab. Contrats to you for being one of the teachers. And all this is free. Occasionally it is so heart warming to be offered things for free, though of course I do believe artists should also be paid well for what you do. Blessings to you, Suki

    • Lisa Sonora May 29, 2015 at 10:52 am #

      Suki – I am always honored when I get invited to participate in events like this. Usually I’m invited because someone who already loves my work referred my to the organizer. When I saw the lineup of teachers, it was like a kind of homecoming for the soul.

      Glad you’re going to be there, let me know what you think once it’s rolling.

      • Carolyn King June 1, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

        Hi, Lisa…Para empesar, quiziera saber en que parte de Mexico Lindo vives???
        I lived for several decades in Central Mexico and also SO RELATE to your writings about feeling that you ‘don’t fit in’ (or didn’t??) and about your evolution as a teacher, counselor, therapist, artist, family-of-origin survivor etc.
        I would be so thrilled to have some communication with you…I have been living in Tucson, Az. for much longer than I’d ever dreamed now….missing Mexico siempre and hoping I can figure out a way to bridge my dream of a bi-border reality.

        I look fowrard to the Painted Guru Summit event and will be sure not to miss
        you there. Saludos, abrazos, Hermana Pintora….looking forward to learning mroe about you!

        Carola Reyes (a.k.a Carolyn King)

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