Awake My Soul

Awake my soul. 18 x 36 Waterbased oils on canvas. © Catherine Giglio


It’s been far too long for my soul since I sat here to write. How I’ve missed it. How many moments I wish I had taken the time to sit and reflect. No excuses on my end. I just haven’t made it a priority.

Last month, I reached a big goal with the help of many wonderful people. The opening of Red Threads was magical, emotional, inspiring, validating, special and one of the best things I’ve created since having my children. I know it sounds crazy, but in my mind it’s true.  People gathered in the spirit of community and art and the energy in that room was wonderful. It was beyond beautiful.

Art truly is powerful, connecting and healing.

I’ve been painting the spirit of the Red thread for three plus years now. It has been so healing. I paint it to honor my friend Laurel and her girls who left this world too soon. I paint it to honor those who inspire and create a world of good from heartbreak. I paint it to honor my belief that the relationships we have with each other and this earth we share are the reason for living. I paint it to honor my family members who fight cancer to see another tomorrow. I paint it to ground myself in perspective. I paint it to try to understand others. I paint it to bring back memories. I paint it to honor my dreams. I paint to honor… me. Really? Did I just say that?

The red thread in my paintings has become something I can’t imagine having not found. The price was/is impossible so I treat it with great respect. It is showing me the path that is within myself. I am waking up.

The red thread has pulled me forward in ways that I couldn’t have dreamed. It has been a life line when I didn’t want to put one foot in front of the other. It has opened my heart, given me wisdom, unlocked doors I never thought I’d stand in front of much less open, and created the most wonderful community of support and friendship. It never lets me down. I know it will always be there and be truly unbreakable because it is made up of all of you.  Whether I’ve known you for a life time, or just talked with you in line at the grocery store, read your words in a book, or watched you dance on a stage, exchanged a few words as you walk by my house with your dogs, or spent hours with you planning an art show, shared motherhood with you, shared a home with you, or just met you at an art opening because we both want to honor a part of our red thread we can no longer talk to but can definitely feel. It’s a huge comfort to know my red thread will always be there. Always growing and strengthening, even when it tangles, strangles, hurts and gets messy.  Sometimes those tangled knots are great lessons and make me work harder to be better.

I know now that the red thread is my life’s work and if I get to express that through my paintings and hopefully make the world a more beautiful and loving place, then I am the luckiest of people.

Awake my heart. Awake my soul.

Awake my soul. 18 x 36 Waterbased oils on canvas. © Catherine Giglio
Awake my soul. 18 x 36  oils on canvas. © Catherine Giglio private collection



Completely Ridiculous

For the past few months, I’ve felt like most people I know; living life at pace that is well…completely ridiculous.  If I am really honest.. it’s not even months but years… decades.

Yes, it is a full, wonderful life. One that I am grateful for. But one that needs to slow way down in order to learn, reflect, and be able to stay in the now. There are thousands of articles, blogs, pretty little pictures on social media that talk about the importance of this. I see them, nod my head in agreement and then rush off to the next thing and the next not having absorbed any of the message… not having any self awareness of the ridiculous way I am living.

Tomorrow I will start writing again even though I love it and have so many ideas in my head. Tomorrow I will spend 5 hours painting even though my hands and heart are itching to get lost in color. Tomorrow I will purge all of the crap in my basement for simpler living even though I can’t think clearly with all that meaningless stuff around me. Tomorrow I will get to the gym even though my body is telling me to stretch and become strong. Tomorrow I will call my friend even though I know the sound of her voice saying hello will fill my soul.  Tomorrow… tomorrow.. tomorrow.

Well, once again, it has become all too real that there is no guarantee of tomorrow. On my birthday last week, our sweet friend Ben, the son of our dear friends from Colorado Springs, had a massive seizure followed by brain surgery and he never recovered. He was suddenly gone with no more tomorrows. Ben had been born with Spina bifida yet lived a life full of learning, adventures with friends and family and really had the biggest heart. We were fortunate enough to go say goodbye to Ben while his body was being prepared for organ transplants. It was an honor to be with his family who loved him so completely.

Yesterday, the five of us went to his service. It was lovely and of course so very sad. It was the first funeral that they boys attended. It was hard but beautiful. We sat in the pew holding their hands, wiping away tears and giving them shoulders to lean into. At the end of the service, as the last music played, my 6 year old just lost it. He looked at me and said “this is so sad” and then sobbed. My tears couldn’t stop. I held him while he cried. It felt like his first real life cry; one that wasn’t from scratches or bumps, or being mad at an older brother over legos, or from being hungry or tired. It was a cry that came from a broken heart. It was a cry that showed me he is understanding that life is hard and complicated. It was a tremendous moment for me as his mother that he could share with me like that. It was a gift that I will never forget.

It is completely ridiculous that it often takes moments in time like this to bring me back to pure intention, true awareness and clear perspective. I can hold onto or rather find these places when I paint. But I lose them in the daily grind. How does one stay in that space. Constant gratitude? Humility? How does one let go of all that doesn’t really matter?

First of all, I am going to start by slowing down. I need a constant reminder… perhaps I should tie weights to my shoes? put on rose colored glasses?  What do you think? I’d love some thoughts on how to turn completely ridiculous into completely … well how about….. somewhat balanced?

I’m off to paint… that I know will be a good start and I’m not waiting for tomorrow!


Tough Love

How I have missed coming here to pound out my thoughts on the keyboard. I have a whole host of chores to do, a show to get ready to hang next week but it’s one of those mornings where putting my thoughts into black and white will help clear my head so I can focus on what I need to do. If I am really honest, I want to go crawl back into bed, but that won’t do much good.

This morning, I sent my son off to Eco-Week, where the entire 5th grade class goes up into the mountains for hiking, fly fishing, ropes course, campfire etc..  He has been away from home before, but he has been in a place of wanting to herd the 5 of us together, having some separation anxiety and I think he honestly is ready to hibernate for awhile; his fall instincts are on cue. So going off with 100 other kids wasn’t sounding appealing. I know he is going to have a blast and he will keep it together while he is there. It was just getting him to the point of putting on his pack and walking out the door. He had so many what if’s this happens or that? He doesn’t like surprises or not having a clear picture of what his days will look like. He cried, screamed and yelled for almost two hours this morning making himself almost throw up and had a rash all over his face.  He is much to old for that but the power of anxiety and fear took over. I knew he would regret not going and I almost let him off the hook because in the moment it seemed it would be easier (and those big brown eyes were begging), but it wouldn’t have been the easier or the right choice.

So, instead,  I calmly packed up his stuff while firmly and by hour two, too loudly tried to get him to stop crying and yelling. It was awful. Once he realized that I wasn’t going to let him give up, he finally surrendered and started asking questions. I gave him lots of hugs, told him I knew he could do it, put a heart rock in his pocket and told him where everything was. (Normally, I would have had him pack his own things, but I had to pick one battle today) He went and washed his face and then sat at the table trying to not cry. I had a clear memory of his first day at preschool and going through the same thing. It was gut wrenching to walk out and leave him, but we did it and we both grew; just like we did once again this morning.

Ry and I are actually so much alike. I know he is more my teacher than I am his. He holds a mirror up and seems to say “take a good, long look”. We have had an intense relationship since my pregnancy with him. It has been a lot of hard work on both of our parts, a lot of tough love moving him forward and into the world. But, we have a built a trust in each other that is unlike any other relationship I’ve ever had. I feel like we see each other so clearly and I know as he grows up that will turn into a friendship that will be powerful and so full of love and respect. Right now though, I am his mom first and have to keep giving him tough love so that he can open new doors and become his truest self and not let fear win. A lesson that I have been working on myself as I continue to put my art out into the world. The rewards are so much greater than the fear and I hope after this week, he can see that, too.