Category Archives: Receiving

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?



Allow Allow Allow. In the thought book 2014, by Marie D. Tiger.
Allow Allow Allow. In the thought book 2014, by Marie D. Tiger.

I’m about halfway there, in my project of illustrating 365 different moments in a creative process and the inner phenomena involved. This spring has been an adventure. The first set of creativity cards has awoken lots of interest, comments, iteration ideas. It moves me, to hear how people work with the images, what ideas, insights, discussions they give rise to. How we can all connect in the principles of creativity that are similar despite our individual differences.

Right now I’m writing a small booklet to go with the cards, which I hope to be able to translate to Finnish and Swedish as well.

What helps you live in the Unknown? In the thought book, by Marie D. Tiger.
What helps you live in the Unknown? In the thought book, by Marie D. Tiger.

This is my fourth year of living completely hand in hand with the Unknown, meaning living on art and art life coaching (and my tenth year as a business owner just started). Throughout the years the direction has been to lean more and more on art making, imagination and creativity.

When you fall down, keep on rolling. By Marie D. Tiger in the thought book.
When you fall down, keep on rolling. By Marie D. Tiger in the thought book.

The adventure of it all keeps surprising me. How it really feels to be portrayed in an interview, in a newsletter, or see myself on TV. How it affects creating.

How much faith it takes to keep on going when money is tight. What kind of effort it takes to have self-compassion, instead of contempt and self-recriminations when another hopeful offer or co-operation goes down the drain.

I can handle it. By Marie D. Tiger in the thought book.
I can handle it. By Marie D. Tiger in the thought book.

But then I remember, it’s not about me. It’s about the work, about my wonderful clients, about mapping creativity in fun ways and making it easier to support each other. It’s about being truly alive, daring to do what is really important.

I’m sitting here today, on Easter Saturday, writing. I feel grateful. The Engineer is in the grocery store, coming back any minute and the kids are with their grand parents. There is room to just be, shoulder to shoulder.




A Tale of Self-Pity and Compassion

I woke up at four a.m.

Fifth morning in a row.

My little daughter had a fever.


This meant no day care for her, no working for me and a dilemma of how to get firstborn to and from school.

My husband sent me the following picture from his trip to Cape Verde, where he is, alone.

Cape Verde, detail, by Engineer.
Cape Verde, detail, by Engineer.

My to do list is two pages, written with font 10.

Do I manage to convey the enormity of my pity party this morning, at all?

The icky, slimy bug of self-pity started hissing in my ear. Thought by thought, my energy faded away. Powerlessness started seeping into my muscles. My ability to receive any nourishment from interactions with my kids or with my friends and family started receding, until I could feel the slippery frosting of self-pity, coating me from head to toe.

Now, rationally I know self-pity is an attempt to defend myself against overwhelm, expectations and demands. On an emotional level, it’s another story.

The thing is, while self-pity may feel like relief, or like self-love – it’s anything but. It shifts the locus of power on the outside of ourselves, puts us in the back seat of our lives.

Of course, the row of set backs continued. My friends couldn’t help with getting firstborn to school, the taxi driver was rude, there was less money on my account than I remembered, my website crashed… It wasn’t until I had sent my website provider an e-mail to ask for help, and they responded they couldn’t and I just had to google the answer, that I remembered Veronica Torres’ tool: “How ridiculous does it have to get?”.


What else would have to happen, until I took responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings.

Ah, well. I asked myself what would take me closer to self-compassion and loving myself in the moment. After a shower, a glass of water and a loving discussion with my daughter, I came back to the computer and easily updated the theme of my website. Now she’s sleeping and I’m feeling happy for the frolicking Engineer again.

I drew this picture to remind myself that there is a better way than self-pity. What would take you one step closer to self-love and self-compassion today?

Self-pity is not your friend, by Marie D. Tiger 2014.
Self-pity is not your friend, by Marie D. Tiger 2014.





Feet and Paws first, into Experiencing Aliveness

Feet and paws first, in the thought book 2013, by Marie D. Tiger.
Feet and paws first, in the thought book 2013, by Marie D. Tiger.

Yesterday I was coaching a group of dedicated professionals. They painted wonderful works of art in the time we had together. I asked them to look at their finished work from all possible angles and perspectives, to get the fullest experience of their creation.

This morning after breakfast, we talked with the Engineer about death. There was news about this billionaire in Norway, who’s going to give away his fortune after a long life. This lead us to talking about aliveness, about what it is that we take away from time on this Earth. It’s the experience.

When you think about the potential aliveness that is in store for you in each moment, how much are you using right now? How much are you aware of your senses, how intensely do you feel, to what extent do you enjoy your experience right now?

What would increase your experience of being alive, in this moment?


Thank You

Thank you, in the thought book 2013, by Marie D. Tiger
Thank you, in the thought book 2013, by Marie D. Tiger


I’m writing you from a happy place. One week spent on vacation (the reason for the pictures only, no words campaign) in light and warmth with the family has restored me to full work mode.

I want to thank you, all of you wonderful people who have left me comments, sent me notes, bought artwork from Redbubble and Society6 during the year. Every comment, every card and print you buy, every thought you share adds to the fuel of my work. I appreciate you so much. <3 I wanted to let you know.

Thank you for being you. The precious, alive, feeling, experiencing being that you are.



The World is a Generous Place

Trust and verify, by Marie D. Tiger, in the 2013 thought book.
Trust and verify, by Marie D. Tiger, in the 2013 thought book.


Man oh man, this learning by doing! This morning, starting out my walk, I heard myself say to my friend on the phone: “When my vacation starts, I’ll enjoy it.” A few minutes later, the flowing blood in my veins and the singing endorphins in my ears were starting to work their magic. I started thinking about how I still, at first, start most projects with doubt. It is a learned behavior. The survival instinct inside of me says that doubting is realistic.

Doubting is not realistic. It creates hesitation, tentativeness and insecurity. You move forward, you move back, swirl around, question yourself. What is realistic, is trusting the world to be the generous place it is. And then verifying your ideas through wordly means. In business, this is done by figures. In music, it is learning the notes. In painting, you check your supplies and techniques and so on.

The generosity in our world is real.

Trees share their beauty, no cost. Your skin takes in a million of sensations each minute and its capacity for pleasure and enjoyment is endless. Your nose brings you scents and smells. Your outer eyes take in color, form, light, and what not. Your inner eyes are stimulated by your imagination. Your ears hear bird song, crickets, a beloved voice, music!  The air you breathe is free. You can taste everything from cheese to raspberries. The only thing that can limit your experience is your receptivness to all the beauty that surrounds you right now.

Stop delaying the receiving.

Instead of thinking: I will enjoy my vacation once I’m in that sunny warm place, enjoy the pale Finnish sun seeping through misty branches [check!]. Instead of awaiting your one true love, let love flow through you to yourself, your friends, your pets, your neighbors and the bus driver, taking you to work. Open up the channels through which you give and receive and set no conditions on life, or the circumstances in which you can receive what you need.

Start now. With what you have, who you are, where you are.

P.S. Next week, I celebrate NO WORDS week. So there will be no words on the blog, just drawings. 🙂

Raspberries and Trust

Trust or control, in the thought book by Marie D. Tiger.
Trust or control, in the thought book by Marie D. Tiger.


I have been enjoying a wonderful spurt of flow, surfing on a huge wave of productivity. I enjoy it hugely. At the same time I feel my poor body trying to hang on and let all the ideas flow through. So, I’m going for a walk before the next coaching session. I just wanted to stop by and share this tiger with you, who insisted on popping out on paper after my nap.

Also, if you feel up for some color therapy, you may want to check out the videos that document my newest acrylic painting.

What do you need today, control or trust?


Video number one (linked in this blog a few days ago):

Video number two:

Video number three:

A fun afternoon with a friend:



Graduating on the Winds of Magic

Trust moves rhinos, in the thought book by Marie D. Tiger
Trust moves rhinos, in the thought book by Marie D. Tiger

Yesterday I had the most extraordinary experience. It was time for my final presentation at the Business School for Creatives. Very exciting! I had prepared a speech, with Powerpoints and all, polished up my business plan and made a fine looking portfolio to present. Everything was done in my very own style, as you can see below. Rational, thought out, standing firmly on the ground with my head just as firmly in the clouds, putting all cards on the authentic vision.


Present in the meeting were two evaluators that I had picked from my own business circles and one from the school. The school evaluator was a gray haired, very official looking gentleman, who looked somber and efficient.

So we started out with scrapping my power points, because the memory stick had a different sort of file system than the school system. Wonderful! Then I started out with my presentation, only to be firmly put in my place by the official, who took charge of the situation. Oh well. But when he asked me if I would mind him interrupting me (which makes me slightly crazy), I was already full of bubbles.

There’s this rule I have – the more that goes wrong in the beginning of a presentation or workshop, the better it is going to go. I have had zippers on dresses open in the middle of a presentation, huge tables bolted to the floor in a dance workshop, keys lost, alarms on.

So when I was allowed to start talking, I did. I knew my material and answering the tricky questions was pretty easy. And then we got to talking about the art, the growing one fourth of my company. I felt my passion ignite, I felt the mood in the room change and the gray official numbers man burst into a huge smile that shone up the room as he burst out: “What a magnificent vision you have!”

After that, the tricky questions, stern demands and other rhino kinda stuff didn’t stand a chance to the air of magic that was swirling around the room. I passed with flying colors, pats on the back, and an even more powerful conviction in the power of the open heart.

How are your dreams doing today?

P.S. It wasn’t until today that I heard what kind of experiences the other people in my class of 2013 had in their presentations. Let’s just say that “magic” is the right word to describe what happened with my business plan and how it was received.

Stormy Sunday

Dare turn your face to the sun, in the thought book by Marie D. Tiger
Dare turn your face to the sun, in the thought book by Marie D. Tiger.


Today I went writing, as I often do, Sunday mornings. It’s a time where I can just sink into the world of music, drawing and words, where I don’t need to care about business, profit or any of the other things that take up the week of a business owner. This time I swiftly found my way back to that essence, where everything starts.

It is easy to get caught up in all the minutiae of everyday life. Between doing the dishes, taking care of laundry, cooking, balancing the books, selling, marketing, making art, coming up with ideas, being a wife, going out running – oh you know, it’s easy to attach your worth to something outside of you. How well you do things, sales, how clean the house is, how happy your kids are, whatever.

Life can become so dreary then, everything starts feeling like a chore.

But life isn’t about that. It isn’t about any of the things you can do. Life is about being who you are, about emanating that, no matter how goofy, weird or ordinary it may seem. Dare turn toward the sun and let it warm you face. Dare blossom like the flower, knowing that you are worthy simply because you exist, nothing else needed.

Wishing you a lovely Sunday from a windy yet clear Helsinki.

Take a Break

Take a break, by Marie D. Tiger.
Take a break, by Marie D. Tiger.


Ah, what a morning. Lost gloves, crying children, making breakfast, running, problem solving… A normal day. What made this morning magic, was taking a break. I was rushing down the hill, after taking my crying son to school, racking my brain, trying to come up with solutions that would make his transition into a big[ger] boy easier at the same time as I was running my thoughts over the to do list at work.

Suddenly I became aware of my elevated breath, running feet, racing thoughts and listened to my impulses. There’s a small park on the way home and I really really wanted to go dance to Ylvis’ song Pressure in the middle of that park. With all the busy people walking through that park at this time of day, many of them being the parents to the friends of my children, I decided on a slightly less [crazy] attention gathering way to follow my impulses.

With the Ylvis brothers crooning in my ears, I lay back on the park bench, to watch the sky for a moment. I moved my feet a bit to the rhythm, to keep concerned people at bay and used my artist’s prerogative to indulge in appropriately insane behavior.

The detail that got me, this morning, was the swans gliding over me, high up in the pastel blue sky, leopard dotted with cirrocumulus clouds. The sun was striping their bellies with gold, orange and crimson. Light, shade, light, shade, depending on where they were flying.


What kind of break would create a tiny space of freedom filled beauty for you, right now?