starlight & story // The Phoenix Soul: INNER TRUTH

Phoenix, do you remember who you are?

Lately, I've been uncovering my innermost truths at 3 in the morning, when baby wakes (again). When tears fall (mostly his; occasionally, my own) and I'm sometimes powerless to stop them. When moonlight brightens his face and I draw from untapped wells of patience.

These are the aching moments of discovery: I am becoming more than myself. I am stronger and more tenacious than I ever believed. I am new mama, rising.

Phoenix, what innermost truths are coming clear to you?

Remember . . .

You are starlight and story. Ashes and light. Grit and grace. You are holy yes and fierce no. You are a miracle walking this earth.

Our new issue of The Phoenix Soul digital magazine is here. INNER TRUTH is a powerhouse of transparency and strength. 12 courageous women join me in these 60 intensely colorful pages of artwork, poetry, photography, essays, fiction, creative prompts, interviews, and more.

It's time to go within,
to seek our inner constellations.
To release every untruth holding us small.
To sing out all that is true.

water cascading.
the hymn of life all around.
the river moves and i move with it.
the breeze cools my fiery thoughts.
if i touch my pen to tongue the words will burn.
— suzanne l. vinson, "today," The Phoenix Soul: Inner Truth

May you find your truth here.
May you be encouraged,
gently provoked,
and stirred up in all the best ways.

love & respect,
(your fellow phoenix)

"mistaeks are mandatory" // Truth Tribe interview: Syda Howery

Syda Howery is messy grace in action, spilling her soul in bold brushstrokes, dramatic ink swirls, luscious texture, and vibrant pops of color.

She believes that "mistaeks are mandatory," and has come to embrace the freedom of so-called imperfection not only in her artwork but in daily life.


Syda (The Motley Turtle) is a "Mixed Media Pursuer," having discovered art journaling in late 2010 and creating her first page at age 45. She says, "I had no idea what I was doing, and to be quite honest, most days I still think I have no idea what I am doing. But I love mixed media and have no idea how I managed my life without it."

Syda's passion for expression and commitment to "mistaeks" are an inspiration. She's also a long-time member of our phoenix soul community, daring to reinvent herself as needed. She calls herself "an often compulsive, sometimes neurotic, coffee-addicted introvert wearing the pants of a Domestic CEO," and believes "life is messy. Art heals."

I'm delighted to welcome Syda to our Truth Tribe with her interview in The Phoenix Soul: MESSY GRACE.

artwork by Syda Howery

artwork by Syda Howery


In her interview, I asked Syda to tell us more about making "mistaeks" and why she thinks they're actually necessary. Here's part of her response:

We place a lot of value on perfection. Perfection is viewed as success and anything less than that is failure. We make it so difficult for someone to admit a mistaek. I considered the many ways we are often berated, punished, or ridiculed for being wrong or making an unpopular choice. I began to question the belief that mistaeks are failures. What’s so wrong with making a mistaek? Why is making a mistaek labeled bad?
— Syda Howery, Truth Tribe interview, TPS: Messy Grace

Syda offered encouragement for TPS readers who struggle with embracing their mistaek-making:

Many of us have been raised to believe that mistaeks are bad. Let’s turn that around. Give yourself permission to make mistaeks. No one is perfect and we all make them whether it’s in art, relationships, parenting, or finances. I’ve had a car repossessed. I’ve married (and then divorced) a jerk. I’ve torn up art and thrown it in the trash. I’m pretty sure my daughter, 19, wishes my helicopter would crash.

Certainly some mistaeks have further reaching consequences, but I believe that most mistaeks move us toward the opportunity for self-discovery, change, and magic. Embrace your errors in judgment, choices gone awry, and acknowledge the bravery it takes to make them. Let’s call it practice. Give yourself permission to practice. Allow yourself the space to do something badly. You don’t have to be good at it to enjoy it. Write bad poetry, make mud with your paint, draw a wonky face, sew crooked seams, burn the toast. Some people like burnt toast. Practice makes better and sometimes you do get a do-over.
— Syda Howery, Truth Tribe interview, TPS: Messy Grace
artwork by Syda Howery

artwork by Syda Howery


We went on to talk about anxiety and depression, feeling "good enough," the symbolism of the motley turtle, what messy grace looks like to Syda, and more. 

Growing up, I rarely felt good enough, smart enough, worthy enough. Today it remains a struggle and permeates a good portion of my life. One of the messages I received growing up was that “others” would determine my worth. You could say that most days I’m still waiting for “them” to show up. While intellectually I know that self-worth must come from within, emotionally it can be a challenge. Let’s be real. It’s hard. As the inner battle plays out in my mind, I make art until I can feel my heart cracking open just enough. I believe that when we share what we need through art, it is as much a gift to ourselves as it is to those who receive it.
— Syda Howery, Truth Tribe interview, TPS: Messy Grace

I'm so grateful Syda let her "heart crack open just enough" with us and shared her story of messy grace.

Phoenix, how do you feel about making "mistaeks"? What if you tried letting yourself enjoy the process?

What does messy grace look like in your life? 

love & respect,

EmBody Your Brave: Messy Grace

Whew, @kyeli brought more tender truth-bombs to our latest edition of The Phoenix Soul digital magazine.

Her column, EmBody Your Brave, is so real. Kyeli writes from the gut, not shying away from pain or discomfort in her self-examination.

Her honesty, in turn, helps US be brave & uncover our own truths.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is this: when you feel that urge to bottle up, to disconnect from your wildly feeling heart, plant your feet and put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath, and ride it out. Let the feels surge through you, surf the wave, and stay connected to yourself and your brave.
— Kyeli Smith, The Phoenix Soul: Messy Grace


Kyeli invited us in this issue to take a selfie in the moment of crisis . . . right in the midst of our inner turmoil, the very thing we are tempted to hide or gloss over.

Feel it all.

Love your whole (messy!) self.

The image of me here was from a moment this morning when my five-month-old had been screaming inconsolably. He'd finally collapsed into sleep on me & I could breathe again. Capturing this moment helped me process and move through the feeling of overwhelm, ending with this thought: "You did it, mama. Good work."

Your turn, beloved. Join our hashtag to go with Kyeli's column: #embodyyourbrave find us there &  explore the prompts she shares in the magazine!

Want a chance to see your image in our digital pages? Add #thephoenixsoul too and I'll know you've given permission to print with your IG name included. 

We love you, phoenix souls! Find Kyeli's column & much more inspiration here.