Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Art! "Hatching Fire"

Art is a well known treatment modality in a variety of chronic illnesses and conditions, including traumatic brain injury, PTSD, autonomic dysfunction, cancer, and more. Some people have had an artistic flare their entire lives, while others would say that they don’t have a creative bone in their bodies. I was the latter, until I suffered a life changing concussion in 2011. Overnight I became an insatiable artist. Within a year it was confirmed that I had what is called “Acquired Savant Syndrome.” That meant that I was suddenly able to paint, where no ability existed before.
From a left-brained business strategist/entrepreneur/CEO to right-brained artist/poet/emerging Theologian…yes it was a significant shift. But it was through this shift and the language of color, that I have been able to engage in deep healing. I have been able to express things that are beyond words and allow the canvas to hold the insights until my conscious mind can integrate their powerful message. I simply allow my hands to do what they feel – and the art unfolds.

My most recent art piece comes at a time when I am finally being given a name for the condition that has affected me for quite some time. After years of persistence and repeated episodes of terrible illness, I was diagnosed with a very rare disease – Lambert-Eaton Myesthenic Syndrome. According to various websites, there are anywhere between 400 and 1000 confirmed LEMS cases in the US. Add this to the already rare disease that I have – Pituitary Dysfunction and Adrenal Insufficiency – and I find myself somewhat shocked. Furthermore, a large percentage of people with LEMS have an underlying cancer that needs to be aggressively evaluated. In my case, all signs point to an autoimmune origin (the other 50%), but we still must search for a potential hidden malignancy. This means an even deeper walk into the unknown.

In the face of Mystery, I find that art helps me to capture the ineffable on canvas. So I am sharing this with all of you. Below is a poem that I wrote along with an art piece – both are called Hatching Fire.

“Hatching Fire”
48 x 60
Original Art and Poetry
by Heather Thompson Blue Phoenix Art

Pyrole red
burns unseen
in the dark crucible
of creation.

Cobalt blue
swirls beyond comprehension
in a maelstrom of
the vast unknown.

Where the absence of light
is actually an explosion of color
black holes become brilliant rainbows
sparkling with splatters of iron oxide.

The impenetrable shell of nothingness
cracks open exposing the fractured
prism of light in the depths.
Hatching FIRE

I also created a YouTube video documenting my healing journey through art over the last year.

I hope that you have the courage to pick up a brush, crayon, pastel…or even use your fingers like I do…and express yourself through color….then again…perhaps you already do! And if so, please share in the comments!!!!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Healing Journey through Art

Journey with the artist as she delves into the depths of the water - Zhi - Fear/Destiny in Chinese Medicine - through the language of color. Leaving it all on the canvas, the healing journey ends with profound transformation.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dare to be Real

This is me...with and without makeup on the same day. I feel deeply grateful that finally I see myself reflected in BOTH images now. It wasn't always that way. I'm also grateful that my facial swelling is slowly going down...a side effect of life-saving medication but challenging when you don't recognize yourself. Why am I sharing this? Because so many of us live behind a variety of masks, and when we dare to be absolutely real, letting go of the opinions and perceptions of others with the courage of a warrior, authentic freedom can finally flourish.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

FLASHBACK - Moon Eyes - 2/13/12

Flashback - February 13, 2012...Less than a year after the "mild" traumatic brain injury that changed my life, and a few months before my husband and I separated. I was just beginning to ride the bus again...I still couldn't drive...And I was awakening to a new life. Enjoy!

Art: Transformation
By Heather Thompson, Blue Phoenix Art

Moon Eyes - 2/13/12
I hesitated to go to church today…I wasn’t feeling well after I REALLY stretched yesterday. My adventure to the Seattle Children’s Museum on the Metro Rt. 8 was much longer than I expected, and my 3 year old daughter was a busy body the entire time. Don’t get me wrong, she is an amazing little bus rider…but I can only ask my little one to sit still for so long!

Once we got there, I could feel the brain fog already setting in…and we hadn’t even reached the vestibular fiasco (aka Children’s Museum) that is wonderful for small kiddos but not that great for those of us recovering from brain injuries. I was foggy, tired, and hungry. I have learned that sometimes eating is helpful, and symptoms will pass if I simply put nourishment in my body. (As an aside – my new migraine medication reduces my appetite, so sometimes I literally forget to eat). After eating, I felt better and we were having fun…so I kept going…and going…and going…and before I knew it, a few hours had gone by and we needed to head home.

Onto the monorail (I had no idea how packed that thing is every day), then the train, then Rt 14 home. It was no small feat that I actually asked people to move so that I could sit facing forward. Yes, it felt VERY uncomfortable for me – a seemingly perfectly normal person – to walk up to a complete stranger who was sitting in a forward facing seat and ask them politely if I could switch. I kindly explained that I have a disability that prevents me from riding sideways or backwards. Regardless of the reactions I got (one positive, one questionable/irritated), I must say that I was very proud that I advocated for myself. As I said to my husband…for the other person, it might be an inconvenience of a few seconds to move. For me, it makes the difference of days, weeks, or more. And I’m learning how to do this! A major accomplishment indeed.

I digress…The journey was exhausting for both my daughter and I. Afterall, my little 3 year old BALL OF ENERGY fell asleep on the couch when she got home…and that never happens. I immediately knew that I pushed it too hard. But it was important for me to see how far I could go – kind of like Kramer (on Seinfeld) finding out how far the “test drive” car could go on a single tank of gas…oh that makes me giggle just thinking about it!!!

So I was exhausted this morning, and I could feel the beginnings of a migraine coming on. I wanted to sit at home and watch TV, and then I heard a quiet voice in my head (which feels like the inspiration from GOD to me) that said…”why would you feed TV to your brain in this state of exhaustion and vulnerability when you could sit in a quiet sanctuary at church and meditate…and maybe learn something new.” Well, let me tell you, that felt pretty clear. Off to church I went. It’s a quick walk…right across the street – pretty easy to get there. And they don’t mind if I show up in jeans with no makeup and messy hair. It’s my kind of church…come as you are.

There was a guest preacher today. In her sermon, she recited a poem…and it moved me on such a deeply profound level that I can’t begin to even describe how it will impact my life. But I will say this – I feel strongly that it is a new layer of transformation for me. I have included it below…this is a modern language version of the original 14th century poem (the same version she read today). It certainly makes it plain language, compelling, and easy to grasp…yet still poetic and powerful.

“Admit something.

Everyone you see, you say to them
“Love me.”

Of course you do not do this out loud:
Someone would call the cops.

Still, though, think about this,
This great pull in us to connect.

Why not become the one
Who lives with a full moon in each eye
That is always saying,

With that sweet moon

What every other eye in this world
Is dying to
― Hafiz

This resonates so deeply in me that I feel tears every time I read it…Now that I am heart centered as a result of this injury…”skinned, deconstructed, and grateful”…I must say that my desire to connect is so great. And, at the same time, there is that fear – that all of us have – of being hurt. It is the push and pull that is a part of the human experience…and I love being given the challenge to consider becoming the one with a full moon in each eye…Can I do it? I don’t know…but I have had an epiphany today as a result of this one, simple poem.

I am grateful that I went to church today. It is just what I needed. But this isn’t the kind of thing that my left brain can grasp…my right brain needs to work it through. So tomorrow I will paint and paint and paint…as much as I can. It isn’t an accident that I put another layer on my “transformation” painting Saturday morning…almost as if I invited a new level of change into my life. It also isn’t an accident that my brain fell into a full blown migraine as soon as I got home from church – I believe that there are rare occasions when a migraine is my brain’s way of transforming on a molecular level…and I choose to lean into it…to surrender to the fluidity of the liquid process of change…and just allow.

And we shall see what the next paintings reveal…because as you know now by reading my blog…the paintings are never planned…rather my hands and my art teach me.


After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth…

And you learn and learn…

With every good-bye you learn.”

― Veronica Shoffstall

Art - "LOVE"
Heather Thompson, Blue Phoenix Art
Contact for Purchase Information

Friday, December 8, 2017

Some Basic Rules of Engagement #MeToo

Given the current dialogue around the #metoo movement, I feel compelled to offer a bit of clarification about a few things that may still be confusing. Although this seems like common sense to me, the recent deluge of allegations about abhorrent behavior, combined with admissions by men in power, has led me to believe that there is value in making a few things explicitely clear. Note that this is my perspective, and I don't speak for all women (that's impossible). I will also add that I am a cis-gender, heterosexual female so I am keeping this to what I know - male/female dynamics. I recognize, however, that this goes well beyond gender and sexuality...

With that said, here are a few general examples of things to avoid - Seriously, don't do it.

1. Don't romantically or sexually engage anyone that is underage EVER. That's pedophilia.

2. If you are in a position of power, don't sexually/romantically engage with women that are directly affected by your power. I realize this sucks for those men that have broad power - but it goes with the territory. So if you have power, recognize it, and use caution. You may not feel that you have that much power, but those around you might have a different experience.

3. Don't attempt to coerce, force or otherwise convince a woman to change her mind to a "YES." Consent = YES. If she is saying maybe, or she's not sure, or no, or she doesn't want to, or it hurts, or whatever else she could say that is anything other than YES...well, sex is off the table.

4. If a woman blocks you on social media, don't attempt to track her down through other channels. Just let it go - she doesn't want contact, and it doesn't matter why.

5. If you are in a business relationship with a woman, and you invite her to dinner to discuss business, don't blur the lines between business and romance. The same is true if SHE invites you to a business dinner.

6. If a woman specifically says that she does NOT want a romantic relationship with you, respect her decision. If she says she wants to be friends with you (and her interest is NOT romantic), don't keep writing her messages about your desire for her...that's just creepy.

7. If you are married, and you develop feelings for a female friend...and if she has been clear about NOT wanting a romantic relationship with you - she wants to be your friend - don't use her as an emotional affair. Once again, respect her NO.

8. If you are alone at a venue with a woman you barely know, be attuned to her feelings. She might feel uncomfortable, or she might not. Practice empathy.

9. Don't EVER assume that you have a right to a woman's body just because (insert reason here). NO reason is sufficient for a man to feel that he has a right to a woman's body, including being married to her, already engaged in sex, swiping for a hookup, etc. If you are confused, ask. If it's anything other than YES, then back off. Oh, and don't freak out at the woman if it doesn't happen. Both men and women need to handle their emotions here, otherwise coercion can come into play.

10. If a woman tells you to back off, then back off. Don't keep trying to get the girl as if she is playing hard to get.

11. Don't send unsolicited pictures of your genitals. No, I am serious. That is never a good idea.

12. Don't repeatedly ask a woman to be your surrogate or carry your baby (a congressman just resigned over this)

13. Don't show porn to women in your office (a Judge was just accused of this). Don't post pornographic images in your workspace. Don't post pictures of women in bikinis either. And don't post videos of women with close-up twerking asses on the pages of female business colleagues.

14. Don't walk around in your underwear in front of employees (another congressman).

15. Don't grab/massage/touch a woman's pussy, ass, breasts, or any other body part without a clear YES. Thinking she "wants it" or she is "asking for it" is not consent.

16 Don't engage in any BDSM activities unless you've BOTH established the frame along with safe words. Both people need to be on the same page!

These are just off the top of my head and they are pretty basic. But some men might wonder what they SHOULD do beyond this list of DON'Ts...
Well, it really is quite simple.
Be human. Be kind. Have empathy. Communicate.
Get to know yourself. Think about how your actions would be perceived through the eyes of others.
Ask questions if anything is unclear.
And if the woman you desire doesn't respond positively to your straightforward and honest approach, then she may not be the one for you. In that case, move on.

FLASHBACK! The day I decided to start selling art (Feb 2012)

Today's flashback comes from February 2012...I had been selected for my first ever art exhibits. I was going to showcase my paintings at two different venues, and I was terrified!  The idea of being a working artist seemed so unattainable...and yet I had the bold courage to walk toward the goal. Here I am now, a working artist and an emerging theologian...but I am once again in the position of having to climb back from the depths of health challenges...and so I found this inspirational today. I hope you enjoy! (I have included some of the art that I created during this time).


I have been thinking about this idea of selling my artwork…It has been on my mind for quite a while.  I have tried not to give it too much power over the last several months, because it had the potential to destroy my creative drive. When I think about the “commercial viability” of my work, I find that my critic begins to take over the entire painting process. Most importantly, the critic is a terrible painter! Thus, I have had to learn to silence the critic, and just allow the question of selling art to rest in my consciousness until I was good and ready.

This morning, I woke up with a calm sense of certainty. I have always been aware that there are several pieces that are not for sale because they are a part of a larger project to document my journey of healing. These paintings are intensely personal, and will be used for something big. I’m not sure exactly what yet, but I have my ideas (LOL)! That said, I’m producing a lot of paintings these days, and there are pieces that I would be willing to part with. Therefore, I feel like I am ready to consider selling some work. Furthermore, I am also exploring the idea of doing some limited commissionable pieces. If you are interested in either of these options, email me at

All of this requires bravery – Rainbow Courage if you will – but as I continue my journey, I am taking one step forward at a time… occasionally terrified, mostly joyous!

So check out my new page – Art For Sale. For now, it’s a limited list…but hopefully it will grow as I grow in courage.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

FLASHBACK - A Blog Entry from September 2011

I recently re-discovered the blog that I began in September of 2011, just 6 months after the injury that changed my life. For the next week, I am going to post FLASHBACKS from this older blog, as I have felt recently that I have been revisiting this time in my life in sort of a fractal healing process. With that in mind, here is my very first attempt at blogging post traumatic brain injury. Enjoy!

September 2011
Thank you for visiting my blog entitled Grasping at Fog. Although I have blogged for quite some time about issues related to business management, strategy, marketing and growth in the healthcare sector, I felt compelled to begin a new blog – one that is based upon my intensely personal journey to heal after suffering a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI)/closed head concussion with post-concussive syndrome.

The purpose of this blog is simple – to get me writing again. I am writer…that is at the core of what I do in business and who I am. Yet after the injury (the hatch of my SUV fell on my head in March of 2011), I was unable to write. The first time I tried, I wrote for just 20 minutes. My cognitive rehabilitative therapist suggested that I start very slow, as the brain has to rebuild stamina after an injury. I didn’t realize at the time how profound my brain had been affected…so I wrote until I felt “brain fog.” I was rather proud of myself for taking this first step into writing! Then I crashed for three or more days. It’s hard to remember, because I literally could not get out of bed. That’s what happens when the brain is injured – if you overdo it, it simply shuts down until it is ready to “wake up” again. This first attempt at writing was more than three months ago…today, I am trying it again, using my new blog as a vehicle for discussing insights, challenges, successes, and frankly anything else that arises on my path toward healing.

While this blog will benefit me by getting me writing again (and we shall see how I improve over time), it is also an opportunity to share my experiences with others. In the wake of a brain injury, it is easy to feel like an “alien.” In fact, I continue to find it hard to believe that I could be affected so dramatically by a closed head injury – no bruises, no cuts, no bleeding…just a wounded brain that requires a great deal of time to heal. It continues to be so important for me to reach out to others who have shared this same experience, and to hear that my symptoms are normal. Therefore, I am using this blog as a vehicle to convey my story to others in the hopes that TBI survivors will feel a little less “alien,” while helping caregivers and others to understand what this journey is like.

I have so much to say, but I am having “brain fog” again…so I will hold off on explaining the story behind my blog title: “Grasping at Fog…” You will just have to wait until the next installment! But, for those of you who have never experienced a TBI, allow me to explain what brain fog feels like: it starts behind my eyes, almost a disoriented sensation similar to when you relax your eyes and stare straight ahead while not actually looking at anything. If I continue and attempt to push through the early stages, it will progress to a more extreme disoriented feeling, along with a nasty headache. Soon after, it begins to feel like I have a 104+ degree fever in my forehead. My eyes hurt, and I can’t keep them open because any visual stimulation is overwhelming to my brain. Any movement on TV or in front of me becomes dizzying, and I feel nauseas. My ears become extremely sensitive, as noise overwhelms my cranial circuitry. The brain zaps start, which literally sound and feel like a zapping noise in my deep inner ear. And finally, from the moment this process starts, I can no longer think. Sometimes brain fog is gone in an hour, sometimes it takes a week. Needless to say, it is uncomfortable, humbling, and an extraordinary opportunity for me to learn my own limitations and live within the present moment.

With that in mind, I will sign off for now…I have already written too much and the brain fog has begun. But I am fairly certain that if I sit down, meditate, and quiet my mind, I will find that it dissipates – hopefully before my bouncing 3 year old daughter is home from preschool!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

New Art!

The art is drying....

What do YOU see in the following fluid painting? It won't look this way when it's dry.....stay tuned for the final product!

This painting is composed of MANY layers. Can you see the woman's face in the center of the painting? I have zoomed in on it at the top of the image below.