March’s Synchronized Chaos: The Process of Going Beneath the Surface

Welcome to our March issue – which comes at a time of change and development. Wherever you are, whether you’re at the beginning of spring or fall, it’s a time when nature builds off of processes already set in motion, of regrowth or decay. When we start to notice what’s been happening almost imperceptibly beneath the surface for weeks, when we realize we’re in the midst of another transformative cycle.

This month’s contributors encourage us to look beneath the surface and go deeper into journeys and ideas already started. Geri McGilvray, a self-described ‘colorist,’ explains how she views the choice and combination of colors as a crucial element of her work, and experiments with a piece until the tones and hues provide just the effect she intends. In the same way, Sonoma poet Janine Canan gradually probes and depicts through words the process and life’s work of several artists and spiritual leaders. She presents life processes – birth, creativity, death, even extinction –  as part of a naturally cohesive whole, rather than isolated events.

Photographer and visual costume and fashion artist Alisha Fisher creates and develops each of her images, working together with her natural inspirations over time rather than pointing and shooting in the moment. Through her work, she becomes her chosen natural settings, intentionally seeking to take on qualities of the rocks, sky, trees – even of garbage and busy cities.

Ramana Vieira most admires singer/songwriters who embody the characters and the emotions they sing about, who go through the process of traveling in time and space to create, rather than simply present, the music. Elizabeth Hughes unfortunately has no choice but to live out the lifestyle of a homeless person, and encourages others to look beyond their initial reactions and imagine themselves in her place. Her written work and her ordinary life become inseparably intertwined, and we present both together, as a statement about how Hughes’ writing and photography provide meaning and distraction and sustain her during the process of rebuilding her life.

Patsy Ledbetter encourages the process of empathy through a personal example, describing meeting a disabled lady in a wheelchair at the farmers’ market. While she cannot restore the woman’s ability to walk or give her a normal life, Ledbetter can talk with her and make a connection, treat her as a human being. Her spiritual faith inspires her to honor the dignity of all life, to look beyond first judgements inspired by someone’s appearance – whether that first judgement would be to write someone off, or to see them only as an object of pity, and thus also underestimate their real potential.

Deborah Fruchey’s book on coping with mental illness, Is There Room for Me, Too? directly addresses those with bipolar syndrome, schizophrenia, clinical depression, and other conditions, involving and empowering them to take steps towards managing their own lives. Like Elizabeth Hughes, she speaks from experience as well as research, sharing insights which have helped her weather her own unpredictable emotions.  With the famous twelve-step process for overcoming addiction as a metaphor, she presents surviving these conditions as a process of acceptance mixed with hard and continual work and self-examination.

Jaylan Salah’s introductory chapter to her novel When Lovers are Sinners sets the stage for a long process of self-examination and personal growth. Bored with high school and a series of shallow, immature friendships, Hayam restlessly seeks escape while mourning the death of her mother. Readers will not be surprised later when Hayam risks her social standing to defy convention for love – and ultimately, for personal freedom and self-determination.

Jean Wong and Reuben Rutledge examine physical objects in order to ascertain a deeper understanding of history and personal psychology. Rutledge details the creation, near-destruction, and unearthing of Tibetan Bon Scriptures to present a little-known side of history, while Wong describes telephones and automobiles in search of experiential truth about various stages and processes of life. Rutledge’s work makes ancient Eastern mystics and rulers seem all too human, at times out for political power as much as spiritual enlightenment, and Wong also personifies and gives life to the physical objects in her work as she recreates her subjects through detailed examination.

And, finally, Matthew Felix Sun, usually our painter of alienation, frustration, fear, and totalitarian social control, felt inspired to celebrate life and growth by painting flowers this time. Flowers represent plant reproduction, a step in a long process of growth and development – and we can rejoice with the flowers because they remind us that we, too, are growing and changing, and have hope of evolving beyond our present condition.

Again, welcome to our March issue! Please feel free to comment and let us know if you would like to work together with or mentor/be mentored by anyone in this issue, or if you have any announcements regarding your published work.

Also – in light of the economy, we are working to assist those in search of work, by creating periodic newsletters for our Facebook groups, where we mention the names and backgrounds of those within our magazine community who are seeking employment. Please also comment and let us know if you would like us to drop your name in our next newsletter.


Spring Flowers from Matthew Felix Sun

Spring is fast approaching and soon there will be blooming flowers everywhere.  It’s time to celebrate these beautiful creatures.  Berkeley, California artist Matthew Felix Sun ( ) has been drawn to paint flowers time to time and below are samples of his work on this subject over a period of time.  Two of these paintings will be part of the “Spring Garden” March theme show at Artist Xchange Gallery in San Francisco ( ).  The opening reception will be on March 5th, Friday, 7-10 pm.

Poetic works from Janine Canan


Daisy by Georgia O'Keefe

Daisy by Georgia O'Keefe

Passion of Georgia O’Keefe

How bright the light! Baby sits on pillows,
white and black quilt with flowers and stars.
Dust sparkles warm and soft–I want to eat it
but Mama snatches and squeezes me hard.

I’m going to be an artist, make something beautiful
as the Maid of Athens in Mama’s book
or the Arabs on horseback in Grandmother’s parlor.
An artist can do as she pleases, no one minds.

Have drawn a man tumbling over, am painting
a lighthouse in clouds. Sister with big eyes
doesn’t like my small dark drawing of hands.
Must paint larger and lighter–purple lilacs, yellow corn.

Am disgusted with my work, and am glad.
Must forget everything learned, find the shapes
that are mine. I am the prairie thirsting.
I am the sky changing. I am the wind stirring.

My room is bare and white like a mirror.
In black, hair back, I walk toward the horizon blazing;
scorched, chilled, dust-caked, make my way
along gypsum trail down the mud canyon.

New York! At my easel on the highest story
I gaze upon roofs, trees, cliffs, clouds,
barges, bridges, smokestacks, soot-plumes, steel beams,
skyscraper crowned with chromium needle.

For hours I bathe in the light, as Stieglitz photographs
my hair, eyes, torso, long-fingered hands.
Fold on fold, clean pink, yellow, blue,
from my glass palette I paint the shapes in my mind.

Hipbone, labium, petal, leaf. In the deep green
veins arch apart; a lake settles in the center.
Lily, orchid, iris, rose, magnolia,
Jack-in-the-pulpit, poppy, petunia, trumpetflower.

Oh, the sun! Sweet-smelling desert sage.
After stupor of sadness, sand dunes, mesas,
wide blue space. How my heart races.
Eyes sharpen and soften, skull a flower of bone.

Seven a.m., cool morning, car under cliff,
I turn the car seat and paint. Brown, orange, violet, gray.
Peach slopes cook to red. Clouds boil up black
and thunderous, trampling the slopes to wine.

Climbing the ladder up to the roof–
how big the moon, and soft. Pale silver crawls
over black. Above, the vast dome of stars.
Asleep, I feel the tender fingers of first morning light.

Over my wonderful world the pink and blue dawn
spreads to the snow-capped peak
of Sangre de Cristo, faraway and serene.
Purple asters waken on the shimmering plain.

White Place, hills of ancient lava ash
turreted and spired with gray and red.
Black Place, pink and gold-veined, rollicking elephants
where sea once pounded and dinosaurs fed.

That’s my mountain–Blue Pedernal
where Changing Woman was born. God told me
I could have it, if I painted it enough.
Never good enough, my failures lead me on.

Maria loads on food, logs, water, canvas, the cat.
Car inches along the dry riverbed.
I shovel sand, chop sage, roll away rocks,
paint with my gloves on in the wind.

At forty-five I take what I want–
Ghost Ranch on golden plain. Purple hills,
rotting cedar, light that illumines death.
The world is always at war, atomic lab just miles away.

Empty pelvis. Pelvis bursting with sun.
Winged pelvis with moon. Antler, jaw, sacrum–
the immortal body. Shadows lengthen, colors fade,
I paint alone until dark. I chose my fate.

Stieglitz is gone. Friends go too. Red hills
whiten with snow. Nearer and farther
a large black crow flies over the slope
into clear cold night.

I know what I must paint now–I paint
what I love. Instinct directs me.
Flowers, stones, bones instruct me.
Details are confusing–I observe, select, eliminate,

ruthlessly search for meaning inside things.
Tearing roots from my heart,
arrange in ever broadening light icons, offerings,
blessings that come from, return to life.

That door leads to my paintings. It’s a curse
the way I keep painting it–green, red, from the side,
through the window, in shadow, with clouds, steps,\
snowflakes, leaf drifting by. Now my last door.

Sleeping in the patio on my white bed
I gaze out over Green Valley.
Rocks and horns rest on the wall, patted pink
adobe skin soft against the dusty sky.

Have I gone mad with love? Everything
in my house lives! Listen, they call me
white-haired sorceress. In long black skirt
I stroll with my stick and ferocious chows.

My housekeeper tells me the names
of the colors and passing clouds.
My vision is blurred. Under wrinkled hood
my turquoise eye sees. I work–what else is there?

Sitting still in the sun I’m happy.
The sky is my companion. My spirit moves
in this light. Soon my ashes will sleep in these hills,
as the wind trills on about nothing.

— Janine Canan

Janine Canan is the author of 13 books of poetry, most recently In the Palace of Creation: Selected Works 1969-1999. Her collections, Changing Woman and Star in My forehead: Selected Poems by Else Lasker-Schüler (translations) have received commendation from Book Sense, City Lights Books and Small Press Review. Her writing appears in Awakened Woman, Exquisite Corpse, Kalliope and Wemoon; and in dozens of anthologies including Birnbaum’s She Is Everywhere, Codrescu’s American Poets Say Goodbye to the 20th Century, Cotner’s Pocket Prayers, Harvey’s The Divine Feminine, Muten’s Her Words, Laughlin’s New Directions, Ford-Gabrovsky’s Womanprayers, and Macmillan’s Women Poets of the World .

Canan edited Messages from Amma: In the Language of the Heart (“Best Spiritual Books 2004”); The Rhyme of the Ag-ed Mariness: Last Poems of Lynn Lonidier; and the award-winning anthology, She Rises like the Sun: Invocations of the Goddess by Contemporary American Women Poets. Her stories, Journeys with Justine, illustrated by Cristina Biaggi, and her essays, Goddesses, Goddesses, will be published in 2007.

Janine has taught poetry, and has given many poetry readings in milieu such as the City University of New York, National Poetry Week of San Francisco, Rutgers University, Shakespeare & Co. Paris, the Smithsonian Institute, Stanford University, and the University of California at Berkeley Art Museum, as well as on radio and television.

Born in Los Angeles in 1942, she is a Stanford graduate with distinction, received an MD from NYU School of Medicine in 1976, and is today a practicing psychiatrist in Sonoma, California. She may be contacted through her website.

More of Janine Canan’s work here:

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Geri McGilvray’s Watercolors


The feeling I’m painting is my interpretation of the interaction between me and the subject. If it doesn’t move me, I don’t want to paint it. So when I paint something, I’ve already had an interaction with it. My latest series has been The Universal Field. The Universal Field is beneath our thought – a level of consciousness where we have the same intelligence, probably, as the ocean, or the whole biosphere. I really don’t see those colors, I see a peaceful place that isn’t cluttered with mind chatter. I work the colors until I love them. I’m a colorist. The universal field is that place we go between all the thoughts. It’s smaller than atoms, it’s bigger than the Cosmos. It’s a place where all the intelligence is the same.

My colors are imaginative and come from deep inside me, extraordinary, not ordinary, but extraordinary colors. I work until the energy feels like it isn’t just the thing itself – whatever the thing is – a person, and ocean, or a painting of all the energy beneath us. I paint the feelings and relationships between people in a ‘universal field”.

My colors aren’t from something I learned yesterday – they’re from inside whatever energy that I have always been. If I was to visualize the source of life, I’d visualize it in colors. I work until I have colors that I feel convey a meaning and are not contrived. They’re not ‘school colors’. Colors are energy. I work until the energy feels like it isn’t the thing itself, whatever the thing is. If it’s a person, an ocean, or a painting of all the energy underneath us.

People Should Feel Moved



I would like people who see my work to feel ‘moved’; to stand there and feel moved, not just walk by. Maybe it makes them think about things. I want people to feel my work affects them.

“I live to paint”



You may read more, and contact Geri McGilvray, at

Excerpts from Deborah Fruchey’s upcoming nonfiction manual to living with mental illness, Is There Room For Me, Too?



Suppose you go to work one day, and the walls start talking to you.

You’d like to ignore them, but they are saying things you’ve secretly suspected for years.

You go to a doctor. He hands you to a therapist. The therapist sends you to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist gives you pills, which he tells you may or may not take care of it. Make another appointment. Plan to do this for life, because the prognosis is not good.

Then, he sends you home.

What now? What do you tell your family? What do you tell your employer (if you still even have an employer?) What do you tell your friends?

What do you say to yourself?

This happens to millions of people a year. But I have yet to see a book that tells people what to do next. Nobody told me. 

What this book has to offer is 36 years of experience on what to do next. 

To recap: I am not claiming that altered [mental] states are real or imaginary, good or evil, physical or spiritual. You will surely come to your own conclusions about this. I am merely pointing out that they are human, and that some folks experience them much more often. 

So, what I would say that we, the ‘mentally ill,’ have in common is that we are Prone to Altered States of Consciousness: PASC. It is not a deprecating term. It is merely descriptive. 


The Dually Diagnosed tend to get lost in the Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous crowds. We are the recovering, the hardworking, the grateful — and the lonely. We are the ones who did all our footwork, but still didn’t get better. We are the weird among the weird. We don’t feel welcome. We don’t speak up. And we need to.  

When you’ve got this kind of double whammy, you can’t help wondering about your value. Did I do something horribly wrong? Am I being punished for sins I committed in a previous life? Am I simply a weak personality? Is it just bad DNA? Can we posit that, in trying to get away from the exquisite misery of our illnesses, that some of us have adopted alcohol, drugs, and other self-destructive behaviors just for relief? Is the electrical brain mis-wiring so similar to the other that they develop in tandem?  

Becoming spiritually sane is not a selfish act. We need [the book’s program] and the program needs us. Through our unique and hard-won insights, we have much to offer…. the power I used to waste on self-blame can now be used for better things.

Fruchey continues throughout the rest of the book in a similar style, offering practical suggestions to assist those with psychiatric diagnoses in handling life situations. She suggests affordable ways to enjoy life and spend days when you have too much time and too little money…how to explain your condition to family and friends and employers…how to seek accommodations at work…how to handle awkwardness caused in your friendships and family relationships when you go through depressions and episodes…sort of a ‘Beginner’s Manual to Mental Illness.’

Deborah Fruchey writes from experience, after over 40 years of living with bipolar syndrome. She’s currently seeking representation and publication for Is There Room for Me, Too? You may reach her to discuss her writing – or for support and a shoulder to lean on, if you deal with a similar situation – at

Prepublication copies of the book  are available NOW at You can also check out Deborah’s blog on mental health issues at

From Deborah Fruchey, suggestion of a magazine by and for mental health consumers:

Open Minds Quarterly

(as you can see, it’s easier to google than use the URL):
the email address is:
It’s a big Canada mental health mag published by consumers.
 the snail mail is
The Writer’s Circle
(A project of Northern Initiative for Social Action)
68 Kirkwood Drive
Building 1
Sudbury, ON
P3E 1X3
Please comment here if you know of any other paying freelance writing opportunities a person with a psychiatric diagnosis could do from home.

Work-in-progress: Excerpt from Jaylan Salah’s upcoming novel When Lovers are Sinners

I stand on the tip of the railing. There’s a fire underneath and a tornado behind my back. Cold, crisp air is gnawing mercilessly at my back and shoulders. I dare not look back or down, I only stare at the crimson sky shadowed by clouds and a thousand crystal meteorites. I breathe in the smoky, thick summer air and wonder where the cold is coming from. The skeletal hands get hold of my feet and I am startled, I dare look down and that’s all it takes for me to lose it and fall…

I wake up, feeling groggy and dizzy. My period has started today and my panties are flooded with crimson red. Well, that probably explains the color of the sky in the dream.

I wash my face, brush my teeth and prepare my bag for a boring school day of pure torture. Starting with Mr. Reffat in Arabic class and ending with Mrs. Mary in PE, my day is washed in optimism and liveliness. In other words, shit is all over the place. There’s nothing better than wearing the uniform, tying my long chestnut brown hair in a tight ponytail – I must remember to have a haircut when summer vacation starts – and drinking cappuccino.

“You’re supposed to have breakfast before school,” Dad mumbles without lifting his eyes off the morning paper, Al-Ahram, as usual.

“I never go for the supposed stuff, Baba,” I reply and head towards the door.

“I won’t pick you up today. I’m going to visit your aunt Mahira and I may stay long there. Dinner will be in the oven.”

I go out of the door without looking back, slam it behind me and wait for the elevator.

I never knew a house without a mother will be that bleak!

The road to school is paved with dust and gravel. Everything seems gloomy, bleary and transparent. The school walls are gray with aging, the ceilings are cracked and the teachers seem to be stranded on a permanent timeline without a chance of being released. They look old, soggy and mummified. I almost expect Mr. Nassar to fall dead at any second and Miss Maysa to excuse herself and take a nap in her golden coffin. The weather is unchangeable during school times; either cloudy in winter or humid in summer. Our school knows nothing about the beauty of nature, even on a cloudy day the sky is a block of endless gray and cloud art seems to exist off premises but never when we’re inside. School is simply a machine to suck the life from my lungs, but of course that’s just me.

Jaylan Salah would love to find representation and formal critique and editing for her soon-to-be complete novel, When Lovers are Sinners – which deals with class and cultural issues in modern-day Egypt, but with a supernatural twist. She may be reached at


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Recovering Lost Scriptures – Dr. Reuben Rutledge


Recovering Lost Scriptures



      In order to understand the nature of Bon[1] terma (hidden treasures) it is best to understand the nature of the texts that were hidden. These texts are considered to be supernatural and sacred in origin. They are considered to have been taught and transmitted by an earlier Buddha who founded the lineage, Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche, and propagated by the sages. Bon history can viewed in a manner that is similar to the great epics such as the Shah Namah, the Ramayana, and the Gesar Tales. These works are historical epics that take on mythic proportions. The sages of these histories were not mere mortals. These were great heroes of superhuman abilities. These were persona possessing magical skills and extremely long lives. The greatest of these was the teacher and founder Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche. He is said to have always been enlightened. Out of compassion He incarnated into the world system in order to liberate all sentient beings. The Bon histories state that He visited many peoples within the six realms of existence. On Earth he is said to have visited many countries. He conquered many demons throughout His ministry. The Bon view of these heroes is that of the shaman and the tantrika[2]. This is reflected in the scriptures of the Bonpo.

Reuben Rutledge may be reached at and welcomes feedback and conversation.

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