Category Archives: blog post

The Uncomfortable Truth

Yes. Acrylic on canvas, 48cm in diameter, 2014 by Marie D. Tiger.
Yes. Acrylic on canvas, 48cm in diameter, 2014 by Marie D. Tiger.

Today someone asked me to make a decision.

Yes or no? No more wavering, talking, thinking, discussing. Yes or no.

Ah. Uncomfortable!The pressure of it. What do I really want?

The discomfort helped me cut through my crap and see what it was that I was afraid of.

But the real issue was buried and waiting much deeper.

It is only after a whole day’s artwork that I realize what it is that I have been doing all these years. I can feel it deep down in my bones, the movement between action and doubt, deciding and wavering, swaying between yes and no, over and over again. The movement between taking action and right away sabotaging myself. Back and forth.

Not wanting to let go. Not daring to make a decision.

I have been waiting for something. Wishy washy, doing a little art here, a little art there, at times a lot of art. Committing to doing it in a way. Then going back and doubting myself. This way and that. Longing for confirmation. Am I? Am I not?

Waiting for someone to come and say:

“You are good enough. Go for it.”

And when that has happened, saving it like a nugget of gold in my heart. Then going on to the familiar habit of procrastinating, avoiding, doing something in spurts, making elaborate excuses.

Lamenting about day jobs and about how vulnerable the core is. Hiring coaches, doing inner work, joining selling networks. Always looking for the next solution, the next Holy Grail. Getting more and more bored and frustrated with always ending up in the same place. [Yes I am an artist. Not a lamp. I can make art.]

This brings to mind a girl, dancing with a guy, always looking over his shoulder at the rest of them. Is there someone better out there? Asking for approval. Second guessing. Herself, him, everything.

How ridiculous does it have to get?

How many more rooms filled with paintings, drawings, sculptures, how much more money saved up, how many more guarantees before I make a choice? Before I say yes or no.

Why is this important? Commitment?

Because until we commit, the back door is always open. It’s okay to wimp out. It’s okay to move between falling in love and backing away far enough to be able to start all over. The relationship stays stuck in the first phase, never maturing to what it can be.

It’s like climbing the same mountain over and over again. Never getting quite back down to the ground, never reaching the top and the view. Talk about frustrating.

And I can’t wait to see what happens next. So.


Is there something in your life that is waiting for you to commit to it, waiting for your unwavering YES right now?

Cherish the Awkward

Embrace the Awkward, 24x16cm markers in thought book, 2014 by Marie D. Tiger.
Embrace the Awkward, 24x16cm markers in thought book, 2014 by Marie D. Tiger.

Yesterday I was taking a walk. I was stopped in my tracks by this adolescent swan. Humongous feet, wobbly, oddly colored with grey, brown and off-white. So awkward and tied up in uncomfortable knots. Yet all swan.

This has been a year where many of my heroes have fallen from their pedestals with a crash. Saying one thing, doing another. And I have been grappling with that. The humanity of us all. That we have nothing else to resort to, but doing our best.

So I am coming to accept, that in order to keep the magic alive, I have to learn how to not only tolerate the awkward in me and others, but embrace it, seek it, cherish it.


Because it opens up a point of connection. Because it shatters the tyranny of perfection. Because it means that we are all, irrespective of our roles and status, still learning & practicing.

In which areas of your life could you explore freeing yourself to just be awkward?


Different Modes of Creative Action

It has been quiet here on the blog. This is largely because I have been experimenting with the Empty Space and it is turning into Open Space, moment by moment.

So what does this mean?

Work in progress, mixed media on canvas, 80x100cm. 2014. By Marie D. Tiger.
Work in progress, mixed media on canvas, 80x100cm. 2014. By Marie D. Tiger.

Early this Fall, I had the rare opportunity to start concentrating on my bigger acrylic paintings. This work leads away from the verbal, for me. Where drawing and writing are areas of creativity that thrive on insight, the dance of imagination and rational thinking, painting is different.

So my days have been spent in slow contemplation, feeling into the deep rhythms of my life, the issues in our world, meetings with clients and groups of students. Inbetween that I come to my studio and time stands still.

Then colors, images, rhythms, melodies, feeling tones and sensations start moving through my body, until I have an impulse toward a particular tube of preussian, or a brush, or maybe dancing a little. The paintings unfold themselves out of me in a similar fashion as my children did. Words have very little to do with this. They come much later.

Sometimes this is hard to accept. I would like to draw, send out creative insights, write and connect. But everything I know about creativity tells me to surrender to this unusual time in my life and see what happens.

What kind of different modes of creating are you aware of in you life?


Sunday Studio

Work in progress, acrylic 100×73 cm.

I’ve been in the world a whole lot, last week. Today I’ve been in my studio, just tidying up, looking through work, pottering around, preparing a new week. And I wanted to say hi.



Empty Space

As preparation for a workshop on empty space in the creative process, I have been on a partial media diet. No tv-series, no Facebook article browsing, no reading, no newspapers and so on.

The silence is astounding.

Of course, it wasn’t at first. Because what happens when we stop, clear the space and surrender to it? Everything rushes in. All the denied, pushed away, ignored aspects of the inner world are there, in our faces.

This time, though, it was curiously impersonal.

All the usual suspects, particular to this personality make up of mine, were there: “You’re no good. There is something wrong with you. You’re not normal. Nothing matters. You should just get a real job.”


But come on. Twenty-five years of inner work later, they are still the same. My shadow, my fears and doubts, the scars, the wounds. It is just thinking. So I gather them into my lap, embrace them, and we sit in the empty space together. Watching snowflakes fall against the backlight of a rising sun.

Sending you a whiff of peace, where ever you are in your life, today.

Tender, Sweet Heart

The basic tenets of Taekwondo.
The basic tenets of Taekwondo.

Yesterday I was at Taekwondo practice with my firstborn.

When he asked me to join the group, after his first training, my heart dropped into my stomach. I thought of the legion of attentive parents, watching the lesson. Tentatively I said:

“Nobody else’s parents are joining in.”

“So what?” asked my son, guileless eyes wide.

So what? I thought about being systematically sought out, bullied for being ugly. Too ugly to live. I remembered moving my leaden body to the rhythm of shouts and taunts, drawing myself so far out of it in shame that I kept bumping it into things, this unwieldy mass of limbs. The pit of dread in my belly was wide and real. But looking into my son’s eyes, I could not tell him that the opinions of others was more important than my willingness to take the leap and try it out.

So I am a thirty-eight year old beginner in the Martial Arts.

I am learning about perseverance.

“Perseverance means having patience. One of the most important secrets of becoming a leader in Taekwon-Do is to overcome every difficulty by perseverance. Confucius said, ‘One who is impatient in trivial matters can seldom achieve success in matters of great importance.'”

Our instructors are great about teaching us the same. Their steady, intent and straightforward feedback builds a structure that makes forward movement filled with ease, although this is one of the most difficult things I have ever tried to learn. So I just continue.

(And I need not have worried. There is absolutely no time to think about anything while training.)

What in your life needs your perseverance right now? That you just continue practising, leaving thoughts to move at their own pace.

Dreams Grow Up

Death to all Artists [at art school], acrylic on plywood, 73 x 98 cm. For sale, 500 € plus shipping.
Death to all Artists [at art school], by Marie D. Tiger 2003, acrylic on plywood, 73 x 98 cm. For sale, 500 € plus shipping.


The ones of you, my dear readers, who have followed this blog for a while know that in 2010 I decided to take on the tyranny of my own beliefs, internalized from well meaning parents, peers and art school. These were beliefs that in unending circles spouted out shoulds, musts and not good enoughs.

Tendrils, by Marie D. Tiger 2003, silk color on aquarelle paper, 65 x 50,5 cm, framed. For sale, 450 € plus shipping.
Tendrils, by Marie D. Tiger 2003, silk color on aquarelle paper, 65 x 50,5 cm, framed. For sale, 450 € plus shipping.

At this time my daughter was on her second year and I realized the return to work was imminent. Were I to ever have time to be a full time artist, it was time to start making some art – any art, no excuses.

The three guiding principles that allowed me to break free from my self-imposed prison of shame, self-doubt, creative blocks and resistance were:

1. Easy access to the act of creation.
2. Create something every day.
3. No need to plan, know or understand, just start playfully.

Four and a half years have passed. During these years I’ve created more than ever before. I’ve also been suffering less than ever before in my life.

But, coming back from Switzerland, about four weeks ago, it seemed I had to work at squeezing myself into the life that just a week ago had seemed wonderful. I felt like an ocean that tried to squeeze itself into the utensils drawer. So many tiny compartments. So little space for expansive processes and uninterrupted time.

Time for a change.

After a few weeks of uncomfortable fidgeting and some simple structural changes, an opportunity presented itself. A storage space, close by, reasonable rent. Easy peasy?

The vulnerability of a shining core

Again and again, I’m surprised, inside myself and in working with my clients, of the kind of strength and vulnerability core desires exude. This past week, I have gathered thought books, pastels, art works from every nook and cranny in our home, in the Engineer’s office, in the far reaches of closets, behind photographs, in the high kitchen cupboards. Tear inducing work. I have been trembling so my bones are shaking, in order to encompass the enormity of what I am allowing myself to do and become.

I never imagined I had created this much. The tendrils of my most protected and naked core dreams have reached all through our home, until they simply did not fit anymore. Time for the dream to move out from the cocoon of our home.

Dreams Grow Up, by Marie D. Tiger 2014, made with markers 25x 16 cm. For sale 370€ plus shipping, frame made to order.
Dreams Grow Up, by Marie D. Tiger 2014, made with markers 25x 16 cm. For sale 370€ plus shipping, frame made to order.

Flashback to eighteen years ago. I had finished High School, with excellent grades. I felt I had earned the right to make independent decisions and although I attended entrance exams at the University of Helsinki, mainly to please my father, I was seeking other options. When I found a school that combined an intensive year long visual art and writing class, I knew it was the right thing for me. The fact that they rented a room I could live in just made the whole thing better.

I applied for a job at a shopping mall, as a cashier, and got it. Having secured a place of study, a home of my own and a job to finance it all, I presented the plan to my father. He took one look at the curriculum, at the price and said:

“Marie, this is the worst mistake of your life. You will regret this.”

So I went and did it anyway.

Taking permission to do what makes life alive

Dreams do not make life easy.

They’re not supposed to.

In fact, the transformational work that is included in any dream from the core will probably bring up everything we are hiding from ourselves to the surface.

Dreams do not [necessarily] bring in millions, or even enough to pay the rent at first.

There are no guarantees. Hard times may be ahead. This is not for wimps.

Proceed only with awareness, gentleness and support.

This is why rational minded people try their best to steer us away from dreaming in the first place. My beloved Dad was absolutely. Completely. Right.

Not when he said I would regret my decision to pursue art.

Just definitely when he said I was choosing a spiralling, backward, hard path, when I could have just driven on the highway [to a well paying job]. He was being the stern parent out of love and concern for me. He could not see into my soul. He did not see the reality of impending death that was driving me. Every road that lead toward deadening myself was too expensive to contemplate.

No money in this world can buy aliveness. The aliveness of a bungee jump lasts for a few seconds, jumping with a parachute, it lasts a little longer. But the skin caressing, soul squeezing, heart pumping aliveness that comes from bringing alive a core dream expands with each step. You just may end up with a life worth living.

If you wouldn’t have to



plan or understand

your dream on a rational level, yet, which next step toward your dream beckons to you?

The Blessing of Flaws


As I’m writing this, I am surrounded by this fairly typical frame for a work day.

I have been finding out about karate lessons from my son, mixed with some quick scetches about my latest idea for a creativity card. The minced meat patties are in the oven (I have to remember to remove them), awaiting the picnic we are going to make today with the kids due to the gorgeous weather. I am choosing to write this blog at the same time as I am choosing not to work on the growing tower of laundry, not to fill the dish washer and not to tidy up my luggage after the Wise Living Convention of last weekend. All of this is part of an orchestra of avoidance. The empty page and I are doing our favorite dance…

My point is that when I look at the life of say Picasso, Anne Geddes or Alice Walker, just to name a few,  I look at paths that are already formed in some way. There is a logic and a wholeness in them, an order, that I often expect in my own life and even demand from it sometimes. I am of course, invariably, disappointed.

Pendulum of Emotion, by Marie D. Tiger, in the solace of the thought book.
Pendulum of Emotion, by Marie D. Tiger, in the solace of the thought book.

A life lived – even lived well – is mostly a holy mess. At least mine is. Despite my best intentions, our apartment looks like somebody has been putting things away with a fire hose, my mothering is unevenly scattered over unpredictable recipients, alternately blowing my heart wide with love, alternately chafing and churning, my drawing and writing is always a choice over more rational uses of time… The list goes on and on.

I have come to see the wisdom of surrendering to my life. As if it were one prolonged act of improvisation, when I encounter it with a “Yes” and always build momentum with what I’m offered, no matter how inconvenient, things seem to work out somehow. It is as if I need to allow myself the grace of not having the inner organs and blood flow of my everyday measured up to the shiny hide of the lives of others.

Have you listened to the people around you lately? No matter who you are, who I am, no matter our circumstances, there is no perfection to be attained anywhere. There is just the next impulse coming our way. And the choice of either saying yes to it and building something, or saying no and using energy fighting what is.
From my heart, I extend the wish of compassion and kindness, from you to you. As you are. Flawed, whole, never perfect, always moving. <3

What color is that kindness, today?


Endings and Standing Strong in Emptiness

Endings need time, 29.7 x 21.0 cm drawing, by marie D. Tiger.
Endings need time, 29.7 x 21.0 cm drawing, by Marie D. Tiger.

This June my first ever one year art workshop at my Alma Mater, Inartes ended. It was an amazing process and privilege to be able to support thirteen individuals in coming closer to their artistic core. Rarely have I felt so exactly in the right place while in the presence of other people. The response was amazing.

After the workshop, I walked slowly to the metro, feeling myself arrive at  a huge emptiness. Usually I would have distracted myself, because I dread, loathe and abhor the experience of vacuousness. But, having just heard from my students that I shy away from nothing, no matter how hard, I felt obligated to stay true to myself and hold the same free space for myself.

So I sat there, on the echoing metro station, breathing in wave after wave of harrowing chasms.

Until I felt like giggling. Unpleasant? Definitely. But worse than

childbirth, being a mother each and every day, abandonment, daring to confess my love to the Engineer, overcoming depression, being broke etc ?

I think not.

Just another thing to breathe through.

If you would allow yourself to just feel empty, right now,

and now

and also this breath

and this one

what might you find, on the other side?


You can buy the turtle drawing as prints and as cards. 🙂



Boredom and Creativity

Boredom Is a Choice,  29.7 x 21.0 cm watercolor, by Marie D. Tiger.
Boredom Is a Choice, 29.7 x 21.0 cm watercolor, by Marie D. Tiger.

I’ve  been thinking a lot about boredom now in Summerland, being at home with the kids, aged five and seven (or almost six and almost eight, to be more correct.)

Every weekday morning, it’s the same question:

– MOM, can we watch TV?!?!?!?

Every weekday morning, it’s the same answer.

– Nope.


– Grumble grumble grumble. I’m sooooo bored. There’s nooooothing to do. Mooooooommmmm. Moooooommmm.

By the way, the Engineer is so much more ruthless and so much better at standing this whining. But I’m doing my empath homework and getting better at it. Because, fast-forward about forty-five minutes and the living room is filled with laughter, instructions, crashing, running feet.

They’re playing!

The sweetest music in the world. Born from the fertile soil of technology deprivation, boredom and the choice to create something new.

In what way is boredom serving you today?

You can buy different sizes of prints and cards of this watercolor.