Monday, April 27, 2009

interview: rowena murillo

Good morning lovelies! Did you have a fantastic weekend? I hope so!

I'm excited about this interview with Rowena Murillo this morning-- Rowena's artwork is so lovely, and her answers are so thoughtful and honest-- read on to find out more about Rowena and what abundance means to her!

Flying Girl Remembers her Dreams, or Night Blooming, acrylic on paper, 7"x10"

1. Tell us a bit about yourself. (What's your favorite color? What can't you live without? What do you do all day? What's your favorite way to relax? Share whatever random bits you'd like!)

I am a half Puerto Rican Buddhist from an artistic family in the Bronx. I thought that always made me strange, but it's also what makes me who I am. Now I'm an ex waitress, ex HS teacher, unpublished novelist, emerging artist, beginning businesswoman, closet poet, creative blogger and stay at home mom of a 2 year old girl and 3.5year old boy.

I've always loved shadow colors-- blue, gray, purple,black... but I'm growing into the soft sun colors, too-- cream, warm pink, leaf green, faded turquoise. It's nice to grow up and open up to new things.

I can't live without carmex, coffee, and something with which to write/draw/paint. I used to carry a journal and pens around with me wherever I went. I still do, but now I do so much painting and writing on line that my journal is often neglected.

All day long I take care of my kids, stealing moments when I can to create especially during nap time, or after bedtime, when I sit in front of the tv and paint. If I can, I also read a book (before bed) or a magazine (while the kids are playing) or play guitar (while papa reads bedtime stories to the kids) to just relax without the demands of parenting or productivity. And I read tarot cards. I don't do it enough but I love the language of symbolism and imagery.

2. What is abundance to you?


You can have nothing, but if you can still look around and see the possibilities, rather than the constraints, you are abundant. Abundance is saying yes. Yes to opportunity. Yes to the world. Yes to what is.

It's about choosing the life that you have-- even if there is lack. It's about facing the day and saying "This is living." "I am here." It's about remembering to breathe, and to feel the sun on your face, to listen to the laughter of your children, to taste the tang of strawberries, to see the leaves sway in the breeze, to smell the perfume of your day. It's about being secure enough in who you are to be able to stand in your own skin and head towards your dreams.

Right now, I am always in this dance between reaching for my dreams and being present in life as I am living it. Sometimes one is sacrificed in the pursuit of the other. I am thinking that's the way things are supposed to be. And that's okay. When I accept that, I feel much more abundant.

3. What are 5 things you are grateful for right now, in this moment?

The wonderful garden, my family, my kids, time to work on what is meaningful, the sky.

Triptych: "Gift" mixed media drawing on antique book page, mounted on Moleskine. 5"x8" "Kick Back" mixed media drawing on antique book page, mounted on Moleskine. 5"x8" FG Yearns for the Sea, or Defy Convention, acrylic on paper. 7"x10"

4. What is your favorite part of your day?

When the house is quiet and I can breathe, eat, shower, create, write, cook, clean and relax without interruption. Should it be when I'm playing with my kids? Maybe, but I spend so much time with other people now, that I really miss my alone time.

5. What is one huge, crazy-seeming goal that you dream about accomplishing?

Someday, I would like to buy an old farm (I like to think an orchard or berry farm) and renovate the outbuildings into living spaces and studios. My friends and family could come and live/stay there and all would have space to follow their creative passions. I would turn a big barn into a place to hold workshops and I could host retreats where people come to get away from daily life and reconnect with their creative selves. I'm an artist at heart... but also a teacher, and it just feels right to enable other people in their artistic and spiritual dreams.

6. Do you have any irrational fears/worries that you'd love to let go of?

I think my biggest fears are about money, and about not being worthy of money. Linked to that fear is being afraid that I am not good enough for the establishment. It ties together--- money is power, those in power decide where the money goes. I'm also afraid that people will see me as a hack. Why? I don't know, perhaps I've taken in some of that snobbery in the art and literature worlds. Maybe it's the critics I'm afraid of. Critics=power=money? I've gotten much better with these fears as I've worked on them, and art and writing have helped me with that... but I still have a little bit to go.

Flying Girl and the Moon Rabbit Take Off, or Fleeting, acrylic on paper, 7"x10"

7. Do you have any tricks for turning a bad mood into a good mood?

This can be very hard. And I don't know if I practice it enough, sometimes letting myself wallow. But sometimes a good wallow is restorative.

Sometimes, to switch a bad mood around, I turn on some good rocking music and dance and sing around the room. Or I write in my journal to let it all out, or write a poem. A nice hot shower can knock me out of a mild grump. Interacting with other people so that I'm not wrapped up in my own head can help. Sometimes when I want perspective, I use an oracle system, like the I Ching, tarot or medicine cards, and that helps me calm down and focus on what I can do, instead of how overwhelmed I am.

One new thing I tried recently was to lie in bed and just let myself feel sad-- I didn't try to analyze it or explain or understand it or transform it I didn't try to make anyone feel worse or even make myself feel better. I just existed inside of my sadness and let it be. I allowed it. That helped me turn something that I had been sad about for a long time into a breakthrough...I got no "answers" but the next day, I just started creating. Poof! Like that. I couldn't see where the connection was, but I believe it was directly related.

8. What daily practices do you follow, if any, to stay focused on positivity and abundance in your life? (Journaling, meditating, drawing, visualization, reading, etc.)

Again, I think I have problems with this sometimes. I have to consciously focus on being positive. Some times it's harder than other times.

I keep a To Do list in conjunction with a "Did Done" list, so that I not only remain productive, but also focus on what I actually DID, instead of the things I did not accomplish. Sometimes, I keep a list of three or more things everyday that make me happy. That helps me stay positive, even in a negative day, and soon looking for the positive becomes a habit that I can do without thinking.

Outside of that (sometimes the focus on productivity can get exhausting) I try to schedule in some time every day to do nothing. That's tough too, because I am always trying to do two or three things at once. Even my night time habit of painting while watching tv can get exhausting... although I also find I hunger for that non verbal release. The colors, the tactile pleasures of paint and brush on paper, the subconscious release of meaning. It's not quite relaxation, because I set such high standards for myself, but it seems so necessary now that it's a habit.

I guess my daily habits depend on what state I am in. If I have spent too much time working and producing, I have to schedule in relaxing and just "be"ing. If I've been focusing on living, then I have to get back to my To Do lists and set the work schedule back up. In whatever way I can while I take care of my kids. This is the life of a mom and artist, and writer and beginning business woman. It isn't really regular, but it's really full.

Monkey and Bean Playing on the Stairs, 6"x6" acrylic on canvas

9. Do you have a favorite quote or author that help you remember to live and think abundantly?

I'm going with a whole poem by Mary Oliver, because every time I read it, it's as if I have taken a big clean breath for the first time in days. It's making it's circuit in blog land again, and has been a touch stone for me for a few years now.

Wild Geese

by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

10. Can you share some books or blogs with us that you think Pecannoot readers might love?

This is so hard, because I follow so many blogs and they all inspire me in one way or another, but keeping in line with creativity and abundance and positivity...

Jamie Ridler's new online book club for Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith. It starts on June 5th so there's time to join up.

Not quite a blog-- but a goal setting and listing site that helped me get out of my post partum funk, (particularly this goal)

For handmade and simple and lovely things, maya*made

For writing prompts and thoughts about life and keeping the dialog going, What Kate Did Next

For creative community and prompts and inspiration, Leah has helped me continue my everyday creative project that I started under my own steam (creative everyday)

And talk about Hope!

As for books, one book that helped me take it all in when I first became a mom was Operating Instructions, by Anne Lamott (she of the Bird By Bird fame). Operating Instructions reminded me that I could still be me, still be an artist and a writer and a mother.

Rowena authors 2 fabulous blogs, Warrior Girl and Small and Heartfelt, and also has a wonderful Etsy shop, so if you'd like to continue your Rowena experience today, head on over to check them out!

**huge thanks to Rowena for being a part of the interview series!**


  1. Great interview! I ♥ Rowena's work.

  2. I loved the interview. This is the second interview I read today of another creative person who came from The Bronx.

  3. Wonderful interview and fantastic artwork! Thank you!

  4. jess - i can't even tell you how much i love this interview! her artwork, her words, her perspectives, her honesty... i'm captivated by it all! and in the last paragraph she totally topped it off by mentioning one of my favorite books and authors, operating instructions - her description of it is exactly how i felt at the end of the book. yep, i'd LOVE to meet rowena! can't wait to check out her blogs. thanks for introducing us to her work and life!

  5. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed that...thank you :)

  6. what a wonderful post to read with my morning cup of coffee. i am uplifted for the day.
    love your blog!

  7. FAB-ulous interview!! Loved it!