Clan Mothers Gather!

If you live in the Portland area, I have a great opportunity to tell you about. My dear friend, Kathleen Verigin, and I held a women’s retreat last year over the Halloween weekend. It was such a success that we are holding it again this year!

2nd Annual Gathering of Clan Mothers

“Coming Home to Yourself”
Halloween Weekend 2009

Rev. Kathleen McKern Verigin, Ceremonialist
Deandra Ellerbe, Priestess of Details

Oct. 30 – Nov. 1, 2009
Menucha Retreat & Conference Center
Corbett, Oregon

Investment: $220
*** Deposit due July 31st ***
Investment after July 31: $245

A Clan Mother is a woman who knows the source of her power, and uses it wisely for the highest good of her tribe. A Clan Mother is a woman who knows how to stand alone, and embraces stillness, silence and solitude without fear or trepidation. A Clan Mother is not of any particular race, religion, age or culture. A Clan Mother is a woman who leads from a place of union between the heart & the mind, remembering that we are All One.

Samhain (pronounced SAH-wane)is considered the “death of the harvest,” a time to honor the ancestors, and celebrated today as Halloween and Day of the Dead,followed by All Saints Day and All Souls Day. In the old Celtic calendar, it is the beginning of the New Year. For Clan Mothers,Samhain launches a walk of courage into the darkest six weeks of the year, leading to Winter Solstice. Ceremonially it is a time to reflect on what must die within our own inner landscape, in order for the new light that is coming to reveal our next steps.

When the Divine Feminine was worshiped and freely expressed, people of the earth lived in harmony—with each other, with nature, and with the Divine. Today when women gather in ceremony our collective energies activate the feminine archetypes that have long been dormant—Divine Feminine, Clan Mother, Goddess, Maiden, Mother, Crone. The Feminine must co-create and give birth—over and over and over again.

This Samhain, Clan Mothers are invited to gather, connect and remember!!! Through ritual & ceremony, music & meditation, drumming &dancing, prayer & contemplation, we will together “lift the veils”and connect with the ancestors. The time is now, and we are the ones!!!

Arrival: Friday, Oct. 30, 4-6pm registration, followed by orientation and dinner, and evening gathering.

Departure: Sunday, Nov. 1, 12noon, following breakfast and closing ceremony.

Special Note: Full Moon on Monday, Nov. 2nd

Menucha Retreat & Conference Center
38711 Historic Columbia River Highway
Corbett, Oregon 97019

Investment: $220 (per woman, triple occupancy)
Deposit of $100 due by July 31st ($50 refundable before October 16th)
$245 after July 31st

* Full use of Creevey Commons (secluded location for our group)
* Shared private rooms with 3 beds, each room with full bath (four rooms are wheel chair accessible)
* All meals (Friday dinner through Sunday breakfast) shared family-style
* Special food needs accomodated
* Snacks & Beverages
* Rituals, ceremonies, labyrinth walk, performances, and other activities
* A table will be available to display your promotional materials

Gather, Connect & Remember!

Only 33 spaces available—claim your space now!!
Enroll a friend, or two friends, or even three!!!

Checks made payable to: Kathleen Verigin
Registration mailed to: Kathleen Verigin
3102 SW Dolph Court
Portland, OR 97219

For More Information: Deandra Ellerbe, Priestess of Details
503-704-6715 (Portland, Oregon)

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Another Art Bra for the Bratiste’s Traveling Bra Show

After I spent a lot of time and money (I just love craft supplies!) on my first art bra, I thought I was done. I was happy with how my first effort turned out, and one art bra should be enough, right?

Wrong…apparently art bras are like chocolate chip cookies…you can’t stop at just one.

This second bra was inspired by a conversation I had at one of our Pink Phoenix parties. I was chatting with a couple of Pinks who have metastatic breast cancer. Their experience with recurrences led to a discussion of what kind of art bra might reflect their reality. I asked what kind of message they would want to share with the public, and one replied, “Please don’t kill me.” She was being a bit sarcastic, but I was really taken with the simplicity of the message. It’s what every cancer survivor wants…to not be killed by cancer.

So I created a bra of all words. The inside of the bra says “Please don’t kill me,” and “Please don’t kill my friends.” The outside is covered with words of hope…things I told myself to help me get through treatment and to combat the fear. I titled the bra, “When Words Are Not Enough.”

So when you hear a breast cancer speaking about gratitude, love, courage and how they have learned so much from their breast cancer experience (which is, in fact, all true)…just remember, on the inside, they are also saying “please don’t kill me.”



Art Bra Project Finished!

I had such a fun time working on this project! I had to work in stages since drying was involved. This gave me time to contemplate and anticipate the next stage. I even stripped it down at one point and redid it. This was a very scary time as I was working with a glue gun and it was not easily undone and then redone!

So, after the layers of handpainted paper, I added three images of hawks (two on the front and one on the back) shell beads, wooden beads, and feathers. I also created a an amulet to hang down the front. The hawk images were in honor of the three hawks I saw on my way to the doctor’s office to get diagnosed with breast cancer. Seeing hawks is pretty common in Portland, but usually I see the birds circling high up in the sky. These three hawks were at the top of three separate trees (kind of like a Christmas tree angel) along the highway.

Part of the Art Bra guidelines was to submit the bra with a written explanation/story to accompany the bra. I based my bra on a poem I tried to write the year I was in treatment. I spent all year trying to finish this poem, and all I got was phrases and starts, but no cohesive piece. The phrase that I was really attached to was “this is where I wear my female power.” Thanks to the bra project, I was able to finish the poem and submit it with the bra.

So, here is the finished product…


I Wear My Female Power

by Deandra Ellerbe

I once wore my female power,
for all to see,
for all to admire.

Twin moon hung suspended in spandex and cotton;
Their gravitational pull brought many into their orbit.
These globes, full and shining bright,
knew their power,
and loved it.

I then lost my female power,
for all to see,
for all to pity.

The moons destroyed,
ground down,
they were reduced to dust and memory.

A scarred landscape was all that was left.
And I hated it.

I created my female power,
for all to see,
for all to fear.

A  breastplate of deceptive beauty,
Cups molded by steely resolve,
tempered by the fires of war.

I joined my sisters of pain and sacrifice,
battle maidens,
scar clan.

I have their power.
And I love it.

Art BRA Project Begins!

I thought I would post the first of my pictures for my art BRA that I am making for the Bratiste’s Traveling BRA Show. Since I am a mixed media artist, I decided to forgo anything resembling a real bra made out of cloth. My imagery that I am working with is the woman warrior…the amazon, the valkyrie. This was the archetype I used heavily while going through breast cancer treatment. I decided that I wanted to make a bustiere similar to a warrior’s piece of armor. I used plaster coated gauze (like what is used for casts) to wrap my model. My daughter was my model and i had to wrap her in plastic wrap first so that the plaster didn’t stick to her bra or her skin. This process turned out to be very messy!




After I cut the plaster off of my model and patched it back together…I covered it in matte medium and let it dry. Then I began the collaging process. I handpainted tissue paper with gesso, acrylic paint and inks and then let it dry. I tore strips of the paper and using more matte medium, began to cover the bust. I also covered the inside as well. I’m letting this dry before I go on to the next stage.



I’ll put up more photos once I get the next stage done!

Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Inspiration is a funny thing. Where does it come from? How can we access it? I have to admit that I have taken inspiration for granted. My mind was always on alert, taken in data and churning out ideas. I got used to having a deep pool of inspiration from which to drawn from. All I had to do was reach out and there it was.

Then breast cancer, chemo and premature menopause happened…and the pool dried up. My brain didn’t work the same way that it used to. It took me a long time to realize that I still had the information in my brain, but my way of accessing it had to be changed. So I found new ways to work my brain and I thought I was back on track.

This week I got together with a friend to do some art. Normally before I begin collaging, I have some idea of what I want to do. But not this time. And that is when I realized that while I had figured how to work my brain, my easy access to inspiration was still gone. I haven’t done much art since cancer treatment. I had been waiting for inspiration and it just wasn’t there.

I’m sitting there staring at the finished collage and I am pleased. It was then that I discovered that I had been waiting for the old way in which I did creative projects. I was waiting for the thought, the idea and then I would begin work. It’s as if I am no longer sitting next to a deep pool, dipping my hand in for inspiration. I am now in the deep pool. I don’t have to do anything to access it…it’s just there. If I begin to work, something always comes out of it.

I am very relieved that my creativity isn’t gone. This week’s art project helped me to see that I don’t need to wait for inspiration in order to create.


A 20th Anniversary Piece of Mostly Fiction

This blog is a bit different. My imagination went a little wild as I was writing something for my 20th wedding anniversary. I wanted to Mike’s and my story, but honestly it sounded a lot like a soap opera. So I decided, “Why fight it?” and turned it into a soap. It became more and more fictionalized til I had the finished piece. We had friends come over to help us celebrate and I had them contribute to the story. The underlined parts are from our guests (just like Mad Libs!)

Please just remember that the following story is FICTIONAL and any resemblance to living or dead people is completely coincidental!

Biff and Bambi…A Twisted Tale of Television, Terror and True Love

Our story begins in the halcyon days of the early 80’s…a time of when big hair wasn’t an insult, disco was dead and punk was morphing into Goth., a time when “where’s the beef?” wasn’t a pickup line but an old fashioned cry for hamburger.

Our stars, let’s call them Biff and Bambi, met in the rarefied air of a prestigious university. Biff and Bambi lived in the same House…not a sorority or fraternity, not something as plebeian as a dorm…but instead they lived in a grand House…befitting their stature.

Now Biff and Bambi did not exactly hit it off when they first met. They were both part of a top secret cabal…uh, I mean “club”, recruited independently by a wealthy older couple who’s motives were a bit suspect. The older couple saw Biff’s qualities of arrogance, jumpiness and fishiness, and Bambi’s ability to glitter and sparkle and decided this was just what the club needed.

This top-secret club played baccarat and other tony games of chance, thus giving Biff and Bambi plenty of opportunity to bicker and make innuendo.

Biff was often heard saying, “I’m just one helluva a butler.”

To which Bambi would reply, “You killed Kenny!”

As with other famous couples of history, this bickering was in fact foreplay…though unbeknownst to the two.

After several years of witty banter and not-so-veiled insults…Bambi was shopping with her personal assistant when a Lexus opened it’s car door while Bambi was adjusting the strap on her Candies, which put her carefully tousled head in direct path with the door. Rubbing her head and suddenly thinking about how sexy Biff’s legs were…Bambi muttered, “Holy, moly!”

Medical opinion was that the concussion shifted something in her brain, transforming her hatred of Biff into instant love. Her friends agreed that only brain damage could account for her sudden turnaround. Bambi began to follow Biff around campus. Stalking wasn’t illegal back then so Bambi was safe. Biff secretly enjoyed his new fan while publicly ignoring all of Bambi’s efforts. Bambi began to get miffed at Biff and couldn’t understand how come he didn’t respond to her death threats and singing telegrams. After enlightening viewings of Basic Instinct, Animal House and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Bambi figured out the right mix of sex and threats to finally get Biff’s attention.

Biff and Bambi became inseparable…literally, after a trip to the Health Spa went horribly awry. They married and began their life as DINKS (double income no kids). Wedded bliss lasted about 3 weeks, then reality intruded. Bambi’s eccentric Aunt Gertrude came to visit. After she left, it was discovered, the hard way, that she had diabolically sabotaged all of the “personal protection” devices. You see, Aunt Gertrude was a secret member of the Zombies of Doom (a.k.a. the Republican Party) who’s mission was to create baby zombies or republicans…they couldn’t quite decide which.

Bambi threw up in the shoe section of Nordstrom’s (hitting with remarkable accuracy a pair of Jimmy Choo’s), alerting herself and all of the nearby horrified customers…that she did indeed have a bun in the oven. Eight months later, and after having sent the Texas Rangers after Aunt Gertrude and the Zombies of Doom, Biff and Bambi realized just where Rosemary’s Baby went. You see, Aunt Gertrude’s secret group had cursed Biff and Bambi for siccing the Texas Rangers on them. Biff lost his job due to a bizarre gardening accident and Baby Bun suddenly had all knowledge of labor disputes and tactics and decided to engage in a slowdown for better living conditions. Biff and Bambi knew that they would need to break the curse if they ever wanted Baby Bun to see the light of day. Realizing that the curse was localized (it was actually placed on the cat dryer), Biff and Bambi quickly and quietly left town and started over.

Years pass… Biff climbed the corporate ladder while Bambi was a model of charity and grace as any good corporate wife would be. Baby Bun discovered an unexpected side effect of the curse, which was an unnatural ability to contort her body…a skill that would serve her well as a circus performer (or exotic dancer) in years to come.

Biff and Bambi eventually got tired of life in the big city and decided a move to the country was in order. Plus they thought it wouldn’t hurt to get further away from the cursed cat dryer.

One day, out of the blue, Bambi had a visitation from the Goddess of Tribal Surfing, who had a special mission for Bambi. The Goddess told Bambi to bowl, snorkel, and levitate; and then Bambi would get a big surprise. A big surprise was right! Nine months later the Miracle was born, an immaculate conception created from bowling, snorkeling and levitating.

The Miracle caused quite the sensation in the Universe and drew the attention of angels, gods and some aliens from the planet of Fleece. Totally enamored with the bright light that was Miracle, the aliens decided to see if they could make a Miracle all their own. They acquired Bambi and performed all sorts of fun and entertaining (at least to them) medical experiments on Bambi. Alas, to no avail, because the aliens never thought to ask what the Goddess’ instructions were…and Bambi, having been a corporate wife, knew how to be discreet.

Biff was greatly puzzled and somewhat disturbed by the suddenly strange happenings around his once orderly home. At loose ends among the angels, aliens and goddesses, Biff became captivated by passing gang of Warlords of Bambiville. These leather-wearing, motorcycle-riding Trailblazers were just what Biff needed. Bambi was busy with the aliens, Baby Bun was practicing for the circus and the Miracle was just being herself, so Biff shaved his head, bought some leather and joined the Warlords of Bambiville.

It’s been 20 years since Biff and Bambi were legally conjoined and their story is not finished. If asked, they would say that the next 20 will be filled with paragliding, giving each other pedicures and eating chocolate.

Time will tell.

Art Bras Come to Portland

I firmly believe that you can make art out of anything. The homemade paper mache fiasco of ’02 not withstanding,  I have learned to appreciate the messiness and chaos of experimentation. No surprises, this is where my love of collage comes from. I work with handpainted tissue papers, layering them, then using paint and stamps…I never know what I’m going to end up with…and that’s a big part of the thrill.

My newest art venture is the bra (yes, that’s right, I said BRA!) I am making for Portland’s first Bratiste’s Traveling BRA Show. The show is a fundraiser and outreach event for Pink Phoenix, a breast cancer survivor dragon boat team in Portland, Oregon. Art bras have become all the rage…there are a number of exhibits/shows around the country. I’m just happy that this type of event has come to Portland.

I am going to be creating a bustiere out of plaster. My daughter doesn’t know it yet, but she’s going to be my model for the bustiere. I’m not going to give any more details,but I promise to post pictures of the finished piece.

Would YOU like to make an art bra and support breast cancer awareness? I have uploaded the guidelines to which is a free file storage site online…

And if you make an art bra…send me picture and I’ll post it!

What is a Survivor?

I was at the Komen Breast Cancer Issues Conference a few weeks ago, and I was staffing the Pink Phoenix exhibitor table. Pink Phoenix is a breast cancer survivor dragon boat team of which I am a member. As conference attendees visited our table I would ask, “Are you a survivor?” Since our team is comprised only of breast cancer survivors, I didn’t want to recruit someone who couldn’t actually become a member.

Over the course of the day when I asked this question, several times I got the reply, “Well, I haven’t actually reached the 5 year mark, so I don’t really think of myself as a survivor.” Five years? Really?

I must of missed that in the massive amounts of material on breast cancer that I received from various doctors (and I’m not joking…I even got a 3-ring binder from my oncologist!). I had no idea that 5 years was the industry standard in declaring oneself a survivor.

I considered myself a survivor once I finished treatment…because not only had I survived breast cancer, but I had also survived the treatment. I’m still alive…doesn’t that make me a survivor? I think hitting the five year mark will just make me lucky…the ten year mark, even luckier (you get the idea).

And thanks to Pink Phoenix, I discovered that thriving is the actual goal. I’m glad that I survived…now my eye is on thriving.

Speaking Your Passion…How to Write a Great Speech

You need to write a speech and you don’t know where to start. What to do?

I start with my passion. All of my best speeches came out of my passion for the subject matter. My enthusiasm and sincerity helps me connect with the audience and promote my message.

So if you are having trouble creating a speech…start with your passion. Do some free writing about your passion. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling…just write. What do you love about your subject? What got you involved? What stories do you have that express your strong feelings for the subject? Once you feel like you’ve written thoroughly about your passion, go back and reread it. Is this your passion? If yes…then good for you! The first step is done! If no, what is standing in your way from expressing your passion? A big question to ask is, “Is this my passion?” If it’s not your passion, then why are giving a speech on it?

Once you have connected to your passion, the next step is to answer the question, “What do I want from my audience?” Pay attention to the emotions you are wanting to generate in your audience. Are you wanting to recruit members, clients or customers? Are you wanting to entertain? Are you wanting to educate?

Now go back to your writing and circle anything you wrote that might address what you want from your audience. If you are wanting to recruit members for your organization, go back to your writing and circle any parts that talk about what you have received from the organization, why you are a member, and why this organization is important to you.

Now comes the meat and bones of the speech. Make a list of facts and anecdotes and combine this with the parts of your writing that you circled. This will give you the broad view. Don’t worry too much about the order, just gather the information.

Read over the accumulated list and think like a member of your audience. Out of the list, which parts would draw you to organization/cause/product? What pieces would be most compelling to you? And which pieces address the emotions you are wanting to solicit? When you are wanting to have an audience laughing and happy, telling a sad anecdote is counterproductive.

Keep the most compelling pieces and let go of the rest. Practice the speech on yourself. Be both presenter and audience. Would you buy what you are selling?

The bottom line is to speak from your heart. Connect to your passion and trust that your message will find those people who need to hear it.

Why Collage?

I used to think that only people who could draw were “real” artists. There was something about figurative work that had that air of legitimacy. Or maybe I just elevated it because I couldn’t do it. I was lucky I could draw stick figures. So needless to say, I never really considered myself an artist. Then I discovered collage and mixed media.

It was love at first sight.

The mystery is a major part of the attraction. I like not knowing what I’m creating. I like the mess of collage, and I like the happy accidents. When done from an intuitive place, collage and mixed media is chaotic, messy and very deep.

I use layers of hand-painted tissue paper, images printed on rice paper, transparencies, modeling clay, ephemera…pretty much anything I find around the house or at the art store. I collect my supplies and then just start layering. Color is what draws me first, then images, then found objects. Working in this way helps me get around my own perfectionism. Since there is no “right” way, I can give myself the freedom to play and explore. It doesn’t always gel…but when it does, I can feel it. Somehow everything just goes together well…like a puzzle with all the pieces.

Once my piece is done, I can then look at it to see what my unconscious might be trying to communicate to me. I will often write about my art, allowing my left brain an opportunity to weigh in on the collage.

Collage for me is a practically perfect form of self-expression. The images speak to my unconscious, circumventing the linear left-brain that runs the show most of the time. After choosing the images and creating the collage, I then let my rational mind back to the forefront and do writing exercises about the collage…allowing the images to “speak” to me about their meaning.

Why collage? Because it’s a perfect blend of left and right brain activities, and the only training needed is the ability to get out of my own way.