Meeting Bonnie Paul – and Following bliss…

When Bill Moyers asked  Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)  – ‘What does it mean to follow your bliss‘ and ‘Do you ever have the sense of being helped by hidden hands?’  – this was Campbell’s response.

All the time.  It is miraculous.   I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time – namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.    When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you.   I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”   Joseph Campbell. 


Back to 1987.        Recently divorced, I had no money other than an old carriage house studio that I owned in West Chester, Pennsylvania.     The studio was a fifteen minute walk from where I had previously lived.

At that time, I made a life-defining choice to live and work in my studio, the only problem being that there was no heat or running water!

My Prescott Alley Studio, West Chester Pa. mid eighties.    I worked on one side and lived on the other.    Scan 74I had recently been introduced to the writings of Joseph Campbell – Philosopher/Mythologist and discovered the term – Follow your bliss.….His books spoke to me.   I knew that it was time to stop straddling fences and to begin following my life path as a serious artist/creative, and that’s when amazing things began to happen, including Bonnie Paul coming into my life.

Although I was exhibiting and selling work, plus teaching, I needed to make more income.       Almost immediately after I made this decision, an artist friend from Philadelphia sent her art consultant/agent to my studio to see if she might be interested in representing my work.     The art consultant was Bonnie Paul,  


Years later after Bonnie and I had worked together on many large corporate murals and private commissions, we would laugh about our first meeting.      Bonnie so very glamorous, and I was definitely an artist living and working in my studio !

Bonnie and I together in Wales years after our first meeting – a place where we always relaxed and had so much fun. 20-11-15 - 1 (1664)Along with private commissions, Bonnie got me into the Corporate mural area….which at that time was very much in vogue and lucrative.     She also became a very good friend.

Other people within my field of bliss arrived from seemingly out of the blue.   I can’t write about this without mentioning Jean Frohling who helped me enormously with the heat/water issue and much more, and became a life long mentor until her death last year.

The living side of the studio on Prescott Alley – after heat and water was installed….An episode that deserves a book. til August 10 245When we follow our bliss is doesn’t mean that everything will be easy.

I have found that when I follow my chosen path, my needs (not necessarily my wants)  are met in ways that I can never have imagined.

I have learned that when I stray from my path and try to control life….I usually get into trouble.   I don’t feel right – and my creative flow dries up!      It is when I tap into the unseen energies that the magic happens – (symbolised by my signature image, magical hummingbirds).

20-11-15 - 1 (1643)


Dear Bonnie Paul departed the world this past weekend.    She had achieved so much.    A great lover and supporter of the arts, she has left a wonderful legacy for all who knew her, including her devoted family and many friends.      She will forever be part of my field of Bliss.


A Bientot


50 thoughts on “Meeting Bonnie Paul – and Following bliss…

  1. ShimonZ

    Condolences, Janet. As we get older, that happens. I have lost a number of friends that were dear to me… and each time it took a little getting used to a world that was less complete in a way. But eventually I was consoled by new perspectives that kept coming to me. We’re changing, and the world around us is changing… and it all stays just as fascinating. xxx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Shimon…’Tis true – and I believe always a reminder to live every minute to the full. Bonnie is someone who will always be with me….in many ways. She was a good example of how to live life….and she was so much fun:) Wishing you and Nechama a lovely spring day. Janet 🙂 xx

  2. Ben Aqiba

    Great story Janet,

    that is life.That is real life. Full of ups and downs, and we must be brave and we must have the strength to fight back. Stay positive Janet

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      HI Ben, Thank you so much for responding, and yes you are so right life is filled with ups and downs – and courage is key. I always say that on a good day, I JUMP – take a leap of faith and go for it. On a bad day I am still hanging onto the edge of the cliff at 4 p.m. 🙂 I hope your day is superb. Janet 🙂

  3. Vera Komnig

    So sorry for your loss, my dear Janet and at the same time I am very happy about all the happy arrangements that have shown in your life. and yes, follow the bliss is the best advice you can give anyone on their way.

    I also remember a very long and hardshiping time …. I had only one bare flat, no furniture, no stove or fridge, nor more than half a cup of natural yogurt to eat daily. Today I laugh about it, then it was hard for me to laugh.

    Right now I’m also at that crossroads that you’re telling about and I have to see that I generate more income. Who knows, maybe even wonderful people like Bonnie will snow me into my life , but for now I am very grateful, that you are in my life, my dear sister in art 🙂 ❤

    Thank you so much for sharing your memories. It's inspiring ❤

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Dear Vera – my sister in art….Oh how much we are like sisters 🙂 We have both clearly been up against the wall – a few times I am sure….but somehow, we move through whatever it is to another new day. I believe as artists we will always be needing to find ways to generate income. This is why I am grateful that my ‘needs’ have always been met, rather than my wants, and often despite myself that has been much better for me.
      I can remember the year I lived without heat and water (I did have electricity) using all sorts of tactics. I would shower at the local YMCA or gratis good friends…..I ate mostly raw vegetables, etc. but was able to make soup in a microwave oven. When the bathroom was installed, I had a party, and remember the first bath I had was the best I have ever experienced 🙂
      It seems to me as artists our lives are forever at crossroads. Just being a working artist takes so much courage, discipline and desire. Regardless of all the ups and downs, I wouldn’t (and I am quite sure the same is true for you) change my life in any way. It’s been one huge adventure. I was so fortunate to have Bonnie turn up when she did. Other people like Bonnie have come into my life at the right time, always in ways I could never have imagined.
      Keep true to your wonderful art – and you will move through this period. Just saying out loud what your needs are is very important.
      One day I will sit down and document all the people who have turned up in my life just when I needed them.
      Happy painting my friend…Sending love Janet xxx

  4. Patricia Lopez

    So sorry you lost such a beautiful friend. I send a warm pillow for your tears from México. I am struggling with grief as well and it has a grip on me. Love seeing pics of you as a young adult and your studio. Gracias!

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Hi dear Patricia. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. It is true that we all express our grief in different ways. Hopefully time will be a healer for you. I believe that those we have loved are always with us. Sending you hummingbird hugs. Janet xxx

  5. Timi Townsend

    R.I.P. Bonnie Paul. I’m so happy for you, Janet, that she was such a positive force in your life!

    I’ve been a follower of Joseph Campbell’s since college, when I read his book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” His work in the field of comparative mythology is deep, and mesmerizing. I also encountered at that time his phrase “Follow Your Bliss.” The problem was that I didn’t know for many, many years WHAT my bliss was! This was because I had so very many interests.

    And I still do! 😛 But now I’m retired and have almost enough time to give to each of my interests and to develop new ones. I try to follow each moment’s bliss in dealing with so many interests.It’s working so far. 🙂

    Isn’t life grand? ❤

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Dear Timi – thank you for this lovely comment. I consider myself to be very fortunate in that I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be an artist. At art school in the early sixties, I think I had the romantic notion of working in a studio full time, having patrons and exhibiting, but of course the world isn’t like that…..and things have moved on. None of us could have foreseen the technological age….it has certainly had a huge impact on my life as an artist, including this blog which I have been writing for nearly 12 years!

      In following my path I have been lead to all sorts of people and places I could never have imagined way back then.

      Having followed your blog for a while, I can see that you are multi-talented. Your final sentence says it all. The key is to live and love each moment . We know when we are experiencing moments of bliss…..They are indeed blissful.

      Yes, life is grand 🙂 xxx

  6. AP Taylor

    Wonderful post. You lost a friend and colleague and I’m sorry for that, but I am very thankful you wrote and shared this inspiring post with us about your lives. Even now, you both are working together to inspire us.

  7. Teagan R. Geneviene

    Dear Janet, I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. How wonderful to have had such a friendship and seen her successful in so many ways. This post is a lovely tribute to her. Sending you love and a great big hug. ❤

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Dear Teagan, Thank you so much and yes it is always wonderful to know that someone has lived a full life doing the things they loved to do…..and that certainly applies to Bonnie. Hummingbird hugs to you and Crystal. Janet xxx

  8. Bushka

    Hugs! What a beautiful tribute to an obviously wonderful lass. That last picture speaks volumes….as does the one of the ‘two of you’. Treasure the Memories!! I would have loved to meet and get to know her in person. She rests in peace….as memories of her live on……..Love and Hugs 💕💕

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you dear Bushka for this lovely comment. I will indeed always treasure the memories….and thank goodness, even before digital cameras and phones – I did take quite a few photographs 🙂 Love and hugs to you my friend. Janet xx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you – I fell in love with hummingbirds when I first saw them in North Carolina in 1967. I will be back in the States in May and am hoping to see more of them. Janet 🙂

  9. First Night Design

    I’m probably repeating myself but this is a moving and heartfelt post (you’re rather good at them). I absolutely believe in following your bliss. Death does happen, of course. Too many of my friends died far too young during the first decade of this century. You don’t get inured to the pain but it’s glorious to feel them still with you. They’ve propped me up when times were bad. 😀 xx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Hi Dear Sarah – I do agree that our friends stay with us and give great comfort. I hope all is well with you and that perhaps it’s a little warmer on the IOW! I think when warm, sunnier weather does eventually arrive, we will all be very happy. Thank you – Janet 🙂 xxx

  10. Katherine

    It is a dreadful shock when an important person disappears from our lives yet these memories will console you and inspire those of us who follow your blog.You certainly have plenty of courage and like a mountaineer an instinct for the right path.She will live on partly in your paintings.Love,Katherine

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Katherine, Thank you so much for these lovely words. Although Bonnie was relatively young, she was full of energy and life and so one of those people who you simply can’t imagine no longer with us. However, as you say, she will live on in my life in many ways and certainly through my paintings. A water colour portrait I painted of her was over her bed when she passed on, which for me is extremely comforting.
      I hope you enjoy a lovely weekend….wasn’t it wonderful to see the sunshine yesterday….maybe some more today if we are fortunate 🙂 Janet xxx

      1. Katherine

        Hello Janet,yes it was so wonderful to see the sun and as I wandered round the Market I saw far more people were out than normal.We will certainly enjoy Sorung after the lengthy winter.Looking at Bonnie’s photo it is hard to believe some one of such vitality has left this world.This is another thing we have to face as we grow older, that we may lose our dearest friends but I feel sure knowing tou so long that you will make more friends as you proceed on life’s journey.Have w restful and trelaxed weekend

  11. snowbird

    I am so very sorry for your loss, what a great character Bonnie seemed to be. It is fascinating reading about you living in your studio without water, you are one amazing lady and it is my pleasure to have met you. You really should write a

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Hi Dear Dina….Bonnie was fantastic and so much fun…..We worked together for many years, and it was wonderful. I must admit that my life has been interesting….and yes, a book is definitely in the making 🙂 I am off to Portugal next week and then the states on 3rd May back in June when I promise to contact you re our getting together. Meanwhile stay warm and dry Janet xxxx

  12. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    What a beautiful multi-layered post, providing inspiration to all as well as giving loving tributes to two very important people who touched your life. Bonnie had an amazing energy and presence, as if she could step right through the screen and lift us with her spirit. She seems far too young to have moved on, and you must miss her greatly. I am so sorry.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning and thank you so much for this lovely comment. You are right in saying that Bonnie had amazing energy and presence and she was so much fun. Given that I believe in ‘quality of life over quantity’ – Bonnie certainly lived a full and wonderful life and was loved by many people.. We can’t ask for more than that. I hope you enjoy a lovely day. Janet 🙂

  13. theburningheart

    Inspiring, and how true it is, to jump into what it seems at the time. a fathomless pit, following your bliss. 🙂


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