Latest Posts

Welcome to the Circle

Welcome to and the home of the 100 Mandalas Challenge & Community hosted by Kathryn Costa. If you are interested in drawing, coloring, or working with mandalas, then you’ve arrived at the right place!

Are you new to the 100 Mandalas Challenge?

You may want to start with these links:

Current Workshops & Programs

  • At Kripalu: Creating Mandalas for an Inspired Year – Begin your year feeling inspired, creating mandala art, and nourishing your body, mind and spirit. Kripalu is a world-renowned yoga and health center and perfect setting for a mandala weekend. December 29, 2017 – January 1, 2018
  • Mandalafest – FREE online workshop and party with contests and prizes. October 14 – 22, 2017

Inspired Conversations with Linda Joy

Linda Joy of Aspire Magazine invited me to chat with her about the benefits of creating mandalas on her radio show, Inspired Conversations.

What a delightful conversation! We talked about:

  • How Linda colors mandalas with a sacred intention and will repeat a mantra. We both agreed that one can feel the energy in the final colored mandala.
  • How I got my start creating mandalas, launching the 100 Mandalas Challenge, and publishing my book, “The Mandala Guidebook.”
  • My experience teaching at Kripalu, a yoga and health center in Lenox, MA.
  • The health benefits of coloring and creating mandalas and why coloring mandalas is a centering practice.
  • The work of Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung and how we can open up a conversation with our unconscious when creating mandalas intuitively.
  • The Great Round Course, an online course where I teach people about creating mandalas for insight and self expression. It ties in with the work of Jung and how we can explore what I call our “mandala stories.” Curious to learn more about the Great Round? Access lesson one, here.
  • What you’ll find in my book, “The Mandala Guidebook” and the tools and supplies you’d want to have on hand to get started creating mandalas right away.

CLICK HERE to listen to the interview.

Would you like to color a mandala while you listen to the interview?

Join the 100 Mandalas Sharing Circle for access to five mandala coloring books (over 200 pages) found in the member library. It’s a free membership website for mandala enthusiasts.

Let’s Play in Our Journals

My journaling changed ten years ago…

when found images and words from magazines added color, interest, and inspiration to the otherwise vanilla pages in my journals. What started out as play, turned into a means to create a vision for my life that inspired me to take the leap to work for myself.


I recently gathered up my journals from the past ten years and this little pocket sized journal grabbed my attention.

When I opened this journal, I was surprised by what I found inside…

At the time that I filled the pages, I had no idea just how prophetic these journal pages would be.

Would you like to see what I discovered?


On one spread, I had covered the pages with a piece of really cool wrapping paper. It would be months before I added any words to it.

The fish waited patiently until one day I finally found a quote that what would turn out to be a clue to where I am today.

“When you follow your bliss…doors will open where you would not have thought there would be a door and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else.” ~ Joseph Campbell

When I added this quote, I had already altered the next pages.

This is where it gets fun.

I added a hidden door to this journal page by making three little cuts and they opened up to reveal…


mandalas! Now how cool is that?

I love the metaphor of the fish gill. The gill is what a fish uses to breathe. For me to breathe and feel alive, I need to be creating and connecting.

The door that opened up for me would be this mandala journey that I’m now on. I worked on this journal page around the time that I submitted a book proposal that led to publishing my first book, “The Mandala Guidebook: How to Draw, Paint, and Color Expressive Mandala Art.”


It is fun to look back on this sweet page of hand drawn mandalas.

Notice all of the little imperfections.

They are so perfectly imperfect.


Here’s a peek inside of another journal where I explore the theme of TRANSFORMATION.

Journals and art provide us with a way to explore our thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Transformation happens when we put a light on our fears. The journal is a safe place to honor those dark and scary bits. You can’t see it here but in the bottom left square, the paper is folded and only I can see what I’m afraid of when lifting it up. I share a lot of my vulnerabilities but there are times when I need to keep some parts close to my vest. I like that I can show you this journal page while still honoring my private thoughts.


A journal can be a place where we use simple images to convey our emotions. On the left, I drew this at a time when I was faced with some challenges (the triangles are mountains) and the rain drops represented my tears.

Little inspirational sayings and words of encouragement fill my journal like the question, “Are you ready to unfurl?”


Last year my journal had a specific focus on my word-for-the-year, BELIEVE. I like to pick a word each year to guide me. It has helped me to s-t-r-e-t-c-h, take positive risks, and commit to BIG opportunities. My words have inspired me to write a book proposal and COMMIT to a tight schedule to make the book happen.

Last year what I really wanted was to work full time for myself. I had been working so hard juggling a day job while building my dream job. My word, BELIEVE, would prove to be the very word that I needed. To explore what I believed about me and my BIG dream, I altered a catalog and used it as a vision journal.


Throughout the year I would play with my word by cutting up images and words from magazines, greeting cards, old calendars, and junk mail. On some pages there were big areas for traditional journal writing where I responded to prompts, made lists, planned out ideas for what I wanted to create for my business.

On other pages like the one above, I selected images and words using my intuition and what I liked in the moment. It would be after pulling together a pleasing spread that I’d look for the hidden messages.

Here I was encouraged to:

Trust the timing of my life

Moving on

Re-think the comfort zone

Live like the lotus at ease in the muddy water

and Believe.

My journal was a safe haven and beautiful place where I explored my dreams, concretized a vision, and made plans.

My journal was instrumental in helping me to find the courage to say yes to my BIG dream.


I’ve started my journal for 2018. Here you can see I’m recycling another catalog. I took a photo of a recent poster sized collage and resized it to fit the cover. The image speaks to a new door that I’m opening up this year and the creative business that I’m stepping into.


On the inside, I glued in a picture of my dream wheel (think vision board in a circle) so I could look at it each time I opened up my journal. To quiet the busy background, I covered it with an image from an old calendar and added some hot air balloons to represent my dreams getting support to fly to new heights.

I had so much fun getting this journal started and I can’t wait to jump back in but I’m waiting to see if you’d like to join me for a vision journal play date.

I thought it would be fun if we met up online for a web conference with our journals to dream, plan, and play!


Here’s how it works…

  1. Check your calendar to see if you’re available on Saturday, March 3, 2018 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., EST. If you can’t attend live, you’ll get a recording.
  2. ***** SIGN UP HERE ***** to participate. There are only 20 spots available.
  3. I’ll mail you one of the envelopes that you see pictured above and tucked inside will be some paper goodies to use during our time together.
  4. Our session will begin with a Soul Journey, a guided meditation that will shift your attention from your busy life to focusing on what your soul wants you to hear.
  5. I’ve prepared three journal prompts/activities that use the goodies found in the envelope. I’m keeping those goodies a surprise but I’ll give you a little hint…tucked inside is…
    • a message specifically for you to inspire the next steps on your journey,
    • a secret portal unique for you,
    • an animal guide that will help you to take action,
    • something old, something new,
    • something shiny, and something blue.
  6. There will be time to play in your journal.
  7. Then we’ll do a little Show & Tell so we can see what each person created, the special messages that came up and/or the actions you are inspired to take.
  8. A video recording will get sent to everyone in case you miss the event or you want to experience it again.

What You’ll Need:

  • Computer or mobile device with internet access, video camera, and microphone.
  • Journal or old catalogue (I recycle a catalogue to use for my journal.)
  • Adhesives: Glue Stick, Packing Tape

  • Pens: Ballpoint, Gell Pens, Glitter Pens, Fine liners, Markers, or your favorite marking tools.

  • Paper: If you are altering a catalog you’ll want some assorted papers like notebook, stationery, graph paper, scrapbook paper, etc.

  • Scissors and a Craft Knife
  • Images: Magazines, greeting cards and junk mail to cut up.

  • Suggestion: Start a file, envelope, or bag and collect images, words, and embellishments for your creative play.

  • No art experience needed!

About the Next Vision Journal Play Date:

Saturday, March 3, 2018
3:00 – 6:00 p.m., EST
Limited to 20 participants.
Live outside of the US? Register on or before February 15th to receive your envelope in time.

$35 includes everything including shipping the envelope.

***** CLICK HERE to Enroll Now *****


February Mandala Challenge

The topic for the February Mandala Challenge is sacred geometry. In this video, I interview Susanne Fincher author of Creating Mandalas with Sacred Geometry. Susanne gives us a step-by-step demonstration of how to construct the triangle and circle progression.

Our conversation covers:

  • When and how Susanne got started creating mandalas.
  • Susanne has been creating mandalas since 1976. I asked her why she thinks the mandala has held her attention for so many years.
  • The difference between geometry and sacred geometry.
  • Who has had the most influence in creating sacred geometry?
  • What is the Tetrachtys?
  • What is Metatron’s Cube?
  • How can one use sacred geometry for personal mandalas?


Challenge Details

  • Create a mandala based on Susanne Fincher’s demonstration of the triangle, circle progression. Watch the video for step-by-step instructions.
  • Have fun adding your favorite colors and patterns to the mandala. Use any medium.
  • Post a photo or scan of your mandala in the 100 Mandalas Sharing Circle.
  • Deadline to enter is February 24, 2018 at midnight, EST.
  • One winner will be randomly selected to win a signed copy of Susanne Fincher’s book, Creating Mandalas with Sacred Geometry.

Related Links

Free Sample Lesson from the Great Round Course

The Great Round Online Course is a fascinating study that guides you through 12 stages that we all experience in life, again and again.

Thank you for stopping by to check out this free sampler class. This page is a preview of the first lesson called, “Stage One: Resting in the Darkness.”

Lesson One: Resting in the Darkness

We experience Stage One when we are feeling creatively low, we are overworked and exhausted, our hormones are wreaking havoc and we feel anxious, seasonal light changes affect our moods, or we are ill and have no energy for doing anything. In this video lesson, I share one of my low moments in life and how creating mandalas helped me to feel creative again. This video also covers an overview of this stage and three example mandala activities.

Greek Goddess Connection

Participants in the online Goddess course last fall asked if we could continue our work with the goddesses in the Great Round this year. In this video, you’ll see how we make connections between the wisdom of the Greek Goddess archetypes and the stages of the Great Round.

Participants are encouraged to create art in any style. You are not limited to creating mandalas for the Great Round course.

New! The Goddess Primer

If you haven’t taken my Greek Goddess course and you’re interested in taking the Great Round Course, I’m working on a Goddess Primer that will include:

  • A Comprehensive Goddess Profile for each goddess that summarizes their strengths and wisdom, along with a list of the colors, animals, plants, and symbols associated with the goddess.
  • A Goddess Quiz that reveals the Greek goddesses that are showing up in you in your life today.
  • An Introduction to Creating SoulCollage Cards Video that will get you started creating insightful collages using magazine images.

The Goddess Primer will be available on or before February 1, 2018 and will cost $15.

Interested in getting a copy of the Goddess Primer? E-mail to get a notice when it’s available.

Participant Perspective

I met with with Catz, a member of the 100 Mandalas Community who shares her experience about taking the Great Round Course in the video above.

Are you ready for your own a-ha moments and transformation?


Great Round Course at a Glance

  • 12 video lessons, one for each of the 12 Stages of the Great Round
  • 12 video lessons that make connections between the Greek Goddess archetypes and each Stage.
  • 3 videos to get the journey started including a comprehensive birds-eye view of the entire Great Round and a “How to Interpret Your Mandalas” video.
  • Handouts and worksheets
  • 6 online retreat days. Using Zoom a web conferencing tool, we’ll meet up live for a Show & Tell where you get to show us one of your projects from the course and a virtual play date where we’ll all work on a mandala and discuss it, live!
  • Private classroom environment to share your mandala art and mandala stories. (We do NOT use Facebook for this course.)
  • Recommended book, “The Mandala Workbook” by Susanne Fincher

Course Starts Sunday, January 21, 2018
Enrollment Closes February 10, 2018
Course Concludes on August 25, 2018

Cost: $75

Click Here to Enroll Now

Click Here to Learn More

About Your Instructor, Kathryn Costa

Kathryn CostaHi, I’m Kathryn Costa and I’m absolutely in love with the Great Round Series. I’ve been leading this series now for three years and every year it keeps getting better. Each time I work through the “round” and I’ve done so six times now, I glean new insights and discover new things about myself.


I studied with Suzanne Fincher the author of “The Mandala Workbook” and completed her three part certificate program. I had the pleasure of traveling down to Georgia twice for two week long intensives where I listened to Suzanne Fincher, her sister and fellow wise woman Marilyn Clark, and my mentor and soul sister Susan Johnson lecture on the Great Round and guide us through hands-on mandala projects and activities. I’m so grateful to Susanne and her team for their wisdom and guidance.

If you have any questions about this course, please feel free to write to me. I’m happy to discuss if this opportunity is right for you. Contact me directly at

Bring a Mandala Workshop to Your Venue or Event

Let’s collaborate! I would love to bring my passion for creating mandalas to your venue or event.

I provide all of the tools, materials, and art supplies. You provide the space. Together we promote your event.


We can collaborate to offer a single two to three hour workshop or a full day mini retreat. Pictured here was a Spring Renewal Mini Retreat held at White Swan Yoga Studio in Manchester, NH that included restorative yoga, a mandala drawing lesson, a danmala group activity (mandala using materials from nature), sound healing, and a healthy lunch. Participants left the day feeling nourished in body, mind, and spirit.

“I’ve worked with Kathryn Costa and had her present mandala workshops at my yoga studio on several occasions, and it’s always been a pleasure. Kathryn’s workshops are so enjoyable and participants leave knowing how to create a mandala and with lots of inspiration. Her knowledge and passion for mandala work is evident in the care and ease with which she presents it. Participants always leave happy and wanting more!” ~ Roseann Latona, White Swan Yoga Studio, Manchester, NH


For yoga studios and spaces that don’t have tables, I provide drawing boards for each student.


I specialize in working with beginners and people who don’t believe they can draw or think that they are not creative. No art experience required.

“Kathryn is a wonderful instructor.  Her peaceful demeanor and meditative voice puts people right at ease.  She’s well prepared with with all materials and even puts together an informative handout for students to take home.  She explains things clearly, is always encouraging for those who struggle, and she shares a few beautiful and relevant stories during the workshop. She’s welcome back to my studio anytime!” ~ Mandy Russell, The Painted Dog Studio, Brunswick, Maine


I love working with themes to create more than an art class, but a contemplative soul nourishing experience.

Pictured here is a selection of mandalas created for a weekend program at Kripalu Yoga & Health Center in Stockbridge, MA. Participants reflected on the many blessings and surprises and honored the previous year with the first mandala project and then learned how to draw mandalas in various styles while considering what’s next for them and how they will step into the new year.

“The teacher “makes” the class. Kathryn is a warm, engaging, kind, very knowledgable and generous teacher. She embodies the virtues and wisdom teachings of this practice creating a safe, fun, and accessible expressive arts experience that is deeply nourishing.”

Rev. Therese Birka, LCSW, participant in a mandala program at Kripalu Yoga & Health Center, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Kathryn CostaAbout Kathryn Costa

Hi, I’m Kathryn Costa the author of “The Mandala Guidebook: How to Draw, Paint, and Color Expressive Mandala Art.” I first discovered mandalas about 18 years ago when I was teaching a high school graphic design program. The mandala motif showed up in my artwork again and again until I focused on it a few years ago launching the 100 Mandalas Challenge and publishing my first book. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching thousands of people how to create mandalas in my popular YouTube videos, book, online classes, and workshops.

I love collaborating. Let’s chat!

To get the conversation started, send me an e-mail at I look forward to talking with you about how I can bring mandalas to your studio or event.

Mandala Story: Catz’s Transformation

We often hear about how relaxing and healing it is to create and color mandalas. I met up with Catz, a member of the 100 Mandalas Sharing Circle, to talk about how she went from quietly watching other members share their mandala art to winning a t-shirt at Mandalafest and getting the encouragement to post her first mandala.

Since her first mandala, Catz’s mandala journey led her to discovering more than how to draw mandalas, she grew in confidence to say, “Yes!” to her dream of traveling and say, “No!” to unhealthy relationships.

I’m so proud to know Catz. She is a joy and bright light in our mandala community. Watch this interview. I hope it inspires your mandala practice.

Join us! The 100 Mandalas Sharing Circle is free.

Watch these videos to start drawing your mandalas.

Get Kathryn’s book: The Mandala Guidebook: How to Draw, Paint, and Color Expressive Mandala Art

Curious about the Great Round Course?

More Classes:
Mandala Drawing I
Color I

Do you have a mandala story to tell? How has your mandala practice helped you? I’d love to tell your story. Write me at to discuss the details.

I’d love to hear from you. What a-ha moments are you pulling from this interview with Catz? Sharing your takeaways in the comments below is a good way to cement the learning.

Creating Mixed Media Tarot Cards & Spirit Sticks

Have you ever wanted to delve into the Tarot but didn’t know where to start?  Maybe you are a spiritualist or Tarot reader and want to make your own cards?  Or, you just plain love making art! Join Mandy Russell from The Painted Dog Studio and Kathryn Costa author of “The Mandala Guidebook” for a relaxing, spiritual, and creative experience. 

The suit of Wands from the Tarot is the source of inspiration for our play this weekend as we create our own Tarot card, spirit stick, and landscape collages.

Colorful Painted Papers


Our creative play begins with the spontaneous process of making colorful painted papers by scraping, sponging, dripping, stamping, and using a Gelli plate. Each participant will create a spectrum of colored papers to use for the collage projects.


Spirit Sticks

Paint, markers, fabric, beads, feathers, and assorted embellishments transform a plain stick into a spirit stick that represents your life. As we decorate our sticks, we create a visual timeline that honors the blessings and challenges in our lives and the path that brought us to this moment. This is an empowering activity that celebrates our brave and beautiful spirits.


Wand Tarot Card

There are four suits in the Tarot and each represents key aspects of our lives. The Wands represent inspiration, intuition, creativity, and action. Cards in this suit symbolize our ideas, our core values, and our sense of purpose. Painted papers from the opening session will be used to create a collage depicting a Tarot card from the suit of Wands.


Landscape Collage

What is your passion? What excites you? What’s next for you? We’ll ponder these and other questions inspired by our work with the suit of Wands and our spirit sticks. We’ll create a landscape collage using our painted papers, printed papers, magazines, book images, and assorted ephemera. 

All materials, supplies and tools provided. No art experience required.

SATURDAY March 10th, 10:00-4:00 pm  $85

  • Painted Paper Workshop
  • Spirit Stick Making
  • Mixed Media Wand Tarot Card

SUNDAY (optional) March 11th, 11:30 to 2:30 $40

  • Landscape Collage
  • Closing Circle

**This WEEKEND ART RETREAT event will take place at Curtis Memorial Library’s “Underground” art space located at 23 Pleasant Street, Brunswick, Maine**

To register, payment in full is expected.  Pay by credit card over the phone by calling (207) 504-2438.  If you wish to mail a check, please e-mail Mandy first at

Gallery: Creating Mandalas for an Inspired Year at Kripalu

To inspire your mandala practice, I collected a selection of mandala art that was created during the “Creating Mandalas for an Inspired Year” program held on New Years Eve weekend at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, MA.

I asked participants, “What would you tell someone about this program who is unfamiliar with creating mandalas?” The comments are found throughout this post in blue.


Honoring 2017

Our weekend started with a meditation to help us make the transition from our busy lives to being fully present to this gift that we gave ourselves – a weekend of nourishing our body, mind, and soul.

After a couple warm up exercises, students created a Seed of Life mandala and incorporated journal writing, symbols, and colors to represent the year that was coming to a close. Under the mandalas are words to name their year.

“Kathryn Costa’s mandala program introduces you to a grounding practice that helps you tap into your creativity, inner wisdom, and spirit.”

“If you enjoy the meditation and joy of coloring, this program takes it up a notch. In addition to filling beautiful patterns with colors, you learn to create those beautiful patterns – all the more rewarding. Kathryn is a wonderful, relaxed instructor who creates a welcome and peaceful environment for beginners and experienced creatives alike. I would definitely do it again.”


Creating Mandalas

Throughout the weekend, participants learned how to draw seven different mandala styles and completed five with color and embellishments. Each mandala is as unique as the person who created it.

“The lessons are very instructional for the basics but very open and guided for the contemplative.”

“You’ll learn how to create mandalas, but more importantly, learn to allow the artist inside of you out to play.”

“This is a creative meditative expression that even non-artists can try and be successful.”



The weather was too cold for us to walk the labyrinth on the grounds at Kripalu. We were happily tucked in creating labyrinths. As the labyrinths were filled with color and form, our focus was on what stresses & blesses us, what needs our attention now and in 2018, what we are ready to let go of, and what we want more of.

“Kathryn Costa’s approach to creating mandalas is a great meditative expression where we put thoughts to color, pattern, and geometry.”



Standing On Our Own Holy Ground

In this activity, participants traced their feet and filled the spaces with concentric circles.  When targets show up in your mandala art ask yourself when you are working towards a goal or on a project, “Am I on target?” If you have a challenging relationship consider, “Am I feeling like a target?”

After filling the page with color and form, we stepped onto the tracings of our feet. We experienced “stepping on our own two feet” and observed the energy that we are putting out into the world. We acknowledged our “own holy ground” and thought about how we will step into 2018.

“The teacher “makes” the class. Kathryn is a warm, engaging, kind, very knowledgable and generous teacher. She embodies the virtues and wisdom teachings of this practice creating a safe, fun, and accessible expressive arts experience that is deeply nourishing.” 

Where do you want to take your mandala practice in 2018?

Here are a few resources to get you started creating mandalas or to take your practice to the next level.

Mandala Drawing I

Ten video lessons guide you in drawing a wide range of geometric styles including Trinity Knot, Seed of Life, Hexagons, Pentagons, Octagons/Bagua, and more.

Online course, open enrollment, lifetime access. Only $35
Learn More & Enroll

Color I

This course surveys the most popular mediums for coloring mandalas with demonstrations of a variety of brands and techniques for creating blending effects. The second part of the course is a study of color harmony that will get you trying new color combinations in your mandala art.

Online course, open enrollment, lifetime access. Only $35
Learn More & Enroll

Inspired Vision Retreat

This two-week online course is centered on making time for nourishing our bodies, minds, and creative spirits through personal retreats. The activities focus on gaining clarity and developing a vision for the year ahead.

Online course. Only $35
Begins January 7, 2018
Enrollment closes January 20, 2018
Learn More & Enroll

Great Round

Every mandala that you create has a story to tell. What is your mandala story? In this comprehensive online course we explore the meaning of the colors, symbols, numbers, and arrangements through a series of mandala activities. This is a fascinating series for those with a contemplative nature.

Online course.
Begins January 21, 2018
Enrollment closes February 1, 2018
Course runs 6 months
Learn More & Enroll

Sharing Circle

Join the 100 Mandalas Sharing Circle, a private website for mandala enthusiasts. Membership includes access to member library filled with coloring books and resources, monthly mandala challenges, and places to share your mandala art. Whether you love to color mandalas or create them, there is a place for everyone in the circle.

Learn More & Enroll


January Mandala Challenge: Mandala Inspiration Wheel

I’m delighted to announce a new series to inspire your muse called the Monthly Mandala Challenge. Look for a video each month that introduces the theme, contest details, and the prizes.

Project Theme for January: Mandala Inspiration Wheel

One day while looking at my wall on Facebook, I noticed a really cool video clip of a fidget spinner whirring above a hand-painted mandala with the question,

“What gift can you give yourself more of today?”

The possible answers delighted my heart –

ease, novelty, play, stillness, rest, adventure…

I clicked through to my friend Tonia Jenny’s Facebook wall and saw that she had created some other Fidget Spinner Fortunes that posed more heart expanding questions and answers.

What can you give yourself more of this week?

What will support your dreams today?

What is your soul asking for?

I’m a DIY kinda gal and thought, I want to make one! But wait, I’d love to see what my mandala family would create. I reached out to Tonia and she generously offered to be the first sponsor for my new monthly mandala challenge.


Take the Challenge

Our first monthly mandala challenge combines my love for mandalas, words, and playfulness.

How to Enter:

1. Create a mandala 6” or 7” with 12 segments. Decorate your mandala using any medium and style. Fill each section of your mandala with inspiring words.

2. Post your entry in the 100 Mandalas Sharing Circle, free membership website for mandala enthusiasts.

Join the Sharing Circle

Log-in to the Sharing Circle

3. Deadline for entries: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at Midnight, EST.

4. One (1) winner will be selected using a random generator. Winner will be announced on Friday, January 26th via e-mail to all Sharing Circle members.


One winner will be selected to receive these two prizes from Tonia Jenny


Mandala beaded pendant necklace
pendant 1.75″ x 1.75″ / 19″ leather cord with lobster clasp
$45 value


Discover the Book Within You e-course
$97 value

Meet the Prize Sponsor: Tonia Jenny


Let me tell you about Tonia. Tonia and I have been traveling in the same circle of mixed media artists for seven years now. When I sent my book proposal to North Light Books, it was Tonia who I reached out to and helped me to polish up my proposal before it went before a review committee. In our first face-to-face meeting via Skype, what struck me about Tonia was her relaxed, easy-going style. It was clear that she had a lot of experience in the field. I would learn later that Tonia had worked on over 275 book projects in contrast to me who was meeting with her about my first book project. I felt so reassured by Tonia’s gentleness and confidence. It set the tone for how my book project would unfold.

After 13 years and 10 months of working for F&W Media, Tonia is now working for herself bringing her expertise in book publishing to creatives. She is a certified coach who specializes in helping others to uncover their life purpose.

Tonia, let’s start with your background. Tell us about your experience in the publishing industry.

TJ-2When I first got hired by North Light Books as an associate editor in 2003, I had no editorial experience—not even an English degree (I studied commercial design/graphic/printing with a Visual Communications BS degree). Within my first three years I had begun acquiring books for what was then a new category for books: mixed media. Over the next ten years I was responsible for acquiring 275+ titles for North Light in the categories of craft (primarily jewelry) and mixed media. I became very good at understanding what a book would require (both in terms of content and the platform of its potential author) to stand a chance at selling well. To do this I had to constantly stay on top of trends and be aware of what was being published by the industry in general. In my role as an acquisitions editor, I witnessed several shifts over the decade-plus including then ever-increasing need for would-be authors to have a solid following and demonstrated ability to sell a book. Working for a publisher, it was all about what would sell books so I came to understand those parameters well.

What is the biggest challenge that you see for aspiring authors and artists?

Not being afraid to toot your own horn and remind people over and over how wonderful you are. It can be hard to see that you’re not being a braggart; you’re simply sharing with others that you have something they could use. Lack of confidence and comfort with self-promotion results in a smaller following and a publisher sees this as a risk you will not be a strong promoter of a book.


To write one’s own bio or artist statement is so difficult. What mistakes do you see artists and authors making when they write about themselves?

I actually see five areas most artists struggle with: using specific details to describe how unique their art really is; avoiding terms that the layperson wouldn’t understand; being brave enough to let their authenticity shine through; using first person and an active voice and writing in a conversational style that pulls the reader in. I developed a tool that I call the Why of You to help make the process of writing an artist’s statement less painful. You can read a bit about it here. 


You now offer editorial, writing, and coaching services for creatives. Tell us more about your services.

Yes! I’m so excited to have launched my own business aimed at supporting creatives. One of the things that pained me in my role working for a publisher was having to turn down people whose book ideas I loved because the subject wasn’t a good fit for the publisher or because the potential author did not have a large enough platform. Now I get to support absolutely anyone I choose and I love that! As artists and makers, I believe we all have something special to share with others and it’s actually our duty to use our gifts to make this world a little brighter.

As an editor, I’m actually in a very unique position for helping those who wish to publish books of a visual nature. Because of my experience as an acquisitions editor, I can help artists put together quality book proposals because I know what publishers of those books are looking for. I’ve been called a remarkable wordsmith because I’m very good at helping others refine their writing—from artists’ statements, to any web page, to books—while staying true to their voice. I’m also a graphic designer so for those who wish to self-publish, I can not only help an artist lay out their book and edit it, I can provide the design of the book as well. This is actually pretty rare, but I love working on the entire book! And yes, several years ago—at the same time I was with North Light Books—in my spare time I attended coaching school at International Coach Academy and am now qualified to coach others on a variety of issues. My niche is Life Purpose which fits in very nicely with helping people figure out what topic they might want to write a book on.

Tell us more about your coaching service. Is it only for people interested in publishing a book?

Great question, Kathryn, thank you! No, my coaching extends beyond support with book publishing. I am passionate about helping others discover their unique blend of values, strengths and experience that sets them apart and makes them brilliant sources of light and inspiration. I’ve helped others increase their feelings of self-worth by helping them discover the best means of living with purpose and determining how they can make their mark in the world. If you follow me for very long, you will see how important it is to me that you see the value in you.

Thank you for offering a generous spot in your brand-new e-course, Discover the Book Within You as well as a pretty beaded pendant as prizes for the Sharing Circle January contest. Is there anything else you would like for us to know about you?

I guess I might add that in addition to enjoying the roles I play for, my personal interests include food, seeing the beauty of as much of the world as I can and I can’t get enough of learning new things. As an artist and maker, I enjoy a wide span of interests and this makes it even easier for me to understand the content of the books I work on as well as the authors. 🙂  Thanks SO MUCH for letting me share with your Sharing Circle; I am truly honored. xo

Connect with Tonia Jenny



Opening My Heart in Hawaii

If you asked me seven weeks ago that I would be traveling to Hawaii, I would’ve scoffed in disbelief.  I had been working really hard these last three years juggling a day job and building my dream job. My vacations were dedicated to writing and promoting my book, trainings on mandalas and marketing, and connecting with my online mandala family. I can’t even remember the last time I even took a “real vacation.”

Seven weeks ago I dumped the day job of 13 years. The following week, my sister-in-law and I were talking on the phone and she said, “You should come with me to Hawaii for a retreat.” In less than 24 hours the arrangements were made and I was heading to the “Open Your Heart in Paradise with Ram Dass Retreat.” What makes this story even more incredible was how the retreat sold out within hours of opening. Since June there had been a very long wait list and here I was going. It was a miracle.

My Hawaii Wound

When I told others of my trip, it felt like I was talking about someone else. Now while I’d never traveled to Hawaii before, I had my own relationship with this place. In my heart, I carried within me what I called my “Hawaii Wound.”

The wound formed when I was about eleven years old. My parents were divorced and my dad had remarried a woman with two daughters – one a year older than me and one a year younger. Each Sunday, my younger brother and I would visit my dad. One year my father was planning a trip and told my mother that she was “not to tell Kathy and Karl.” He wanted to surprise us with a postcard.


I learned in the postcard that my dad traveled to Hawaii with his new family that included his wife, two stepdaughters, and his mother-in-law. When asked why we were not invited, he replied, “There wasn’t enough room in the rental car.”


As you can imagine, I felt crushed. While he learned how hurt I was to be left out, it wasn’t acceptable for me to be mad at my dad. So I did what most kids do and transferred my hate and anger toward Hawaii.

“I hate Hawaii. I’m never going to Hawaii.”


Not Hawaii Again!

Fast forward thirty some odd years and I’m a single mother. Each summer my son would travel 1800 miles from New Hampshire where he lived with me to Colorado to visit his dad. As one summer was approaching, my son’s father called to say that the trip may not happen that year as he didn’t have the money to cover the airfare. Knowing how much my son needed this time with his father, I managed to scrape up the funds to make the trip happen. A day after my son arrived in Colorado, I read on Facebook why his father didn’t have the money – he and his girlfriend had taken a trip to Hawaii.

No!!!! Not Hawaii! Couldn’t it have been Costa Rica or Belize?

There I was broke and feeling my childhood wound long forgotten now reopened. I felt there was no use in getting mad at my ex and I certainly didn’t want my feelings to get in the way of my son’s relationship with him. My 40 something self revised my Hawaii script from “I hate Hawaii,” to an adult version, “Hawaii is so overrated. It’s expensive. There are so many other places I’d prefer to travel in the world like Bali, Costa Rica, the Amalfi Coast… I don’t plan on ever going to Hawaii.” So once again, I transferred the anger, hurt, and disappointment onto the idea of Hawaii.

In the years that followed, I focused on getting healthy in body, mind, spirit, and finances. One author who really helped me was Dr. Wayne Dyer. His books, The Power of Intention and Excuses Begone helped me to shift my thinking from victim to hero; from excuse making to taking responsibility. I went from waiting for someone to “rescue me” to rescuing myself. When it came to vacations, I went from feeling jealous of others who vacationed to planning my own adventures.

As I learned more about Wayne Dyer, I discovered that he lived in Maui and would begin each day swimming in the ocean. I found myself revising my Hawaii script. “Well maybe Hawaii isn’t so bad after all? There are some really cool people who live in Hawaii.” I decided that IF I were to travel to Hawaii, it wouldn’t be a tourist trip but more of a spiritual trip and I imagined having great conversations with Wayne amid the tropical breezes and colorful exotic flowers.

It was about seven years later when Regina, my sister-in-law invited me to come to Hawaii with her for a spiritual retreat. The timing, at the heels of making this BIG life decision of quitting my “secure” day job, seemed perfect.

At the same time, it seemed crazy to quit a job and then take this trip. To my good fortune, the vacation time that I accrued was cashed out and covered the retreat expenses, almost to the penny. Imagine that!

The travel from New Hampshire to Hawaii was long and weary. When we finally landed it was 8:00 p.m. local time and 1:00 a.m. my time. We still had another hour of travel via shuttle to the resort. It was so incredibly dark that it appeared as though the van was driving into a black hole. A woman sitting behind us was so energized and chatty. She eagerly told us how she had been to Maui with her family back in 1979 when she was eleven and this would be her second trip. “Wait, 1979?” I quickly did the math in my head and realized that would have been around the same time as the trip I missed out on when I was a kid. I sat quietly in disbelief that this story that lined up with mine showed up within hours of arriving to Maui.

Waking up in Paradise


When I woke up and stepped out onto the balcony, I was taken by the beauty.


Although it rained and was cooler than expected, I saw so many rainbows. This was the view from breakfast one morning.


The days were filled with morning yoga or qigong, daily dharma lectures, and kirtan (chanting and music) in the evenings. The retreat centered around Ram Dass and included his friends Krishna Das, Jack Kornfield, Trudy Goldman and Mirabai Bush.


My favorite talks were by Jack Kornfield whose gentle spirit told stories with humor and grace and led us in meditation practices centered on loving kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.

Making Mandalas in Maui



My Blossoming Spiritual Journey

I packed a journal and some assorted art supplies to create some mandalas during the trip. The first mandala pictured here was drawn while on the plane and filled with lots of detail reflecting on the many little and big things that needed my attention before unplugging for two weeks.

After couple of days in Hawaii, I was acclimated to my surroundings and new daily routine and was ready to make time to fill in the mandala with color. I started with the center petals with a dark brown that I typically love. The color brown reminds me of chocolate, coffee, or rich organic soil. Brown goes with so many colors – vibrant, pastel, earthy or jewel toned. After I applied it here, my heart sank. “oh that is way too dark. I don’t want a dark and dreary mandala. I want it to be vibrant and juicy.”

Has that ever happened to you? You pick a color and after using it, you don’t like how it looks? Does it stop you from continuing?

Reluctantly, I continued coloring moving to the next row of petals and alternating between brown and green. I jumped around now focusing on creating a glow of oranges and pinks accented by a light green. I returned to the center and worked in some orange to look like the sun and light green for a bright accent.

As a finishing touch, the graphic designer in me needed to apply the dark brown throughout the outer petals to create balance. As I outlined the shapes and shaded in some areas, my thoughts turned to how we need the shadow moments to fully see and appreciate the vibrant and joyful moments. 

When I finished, a young woman with sparkly eyes and a big smile came bouncing in. “ooooh that is beautiful!” she remarked looking at my mandala. “Would you mind if I join you?” Oh how I appreciated her fresh eyes on my mandala art along with her enthusiasm. It was just what I needed in that moment.

It took a day before I could see the beauty in this mandala. Sometimes, working so closely and noticing all of the “mistakes” it is hard to appreciate how each stroke comes together to create a unique and beautiful mandala. A mandala is much more than any one stroke.

Now when I look at this mandala, I see reflected back how my life is filled with lots of details both dark bits and blossoming parts. My spiritual practices may not be perfect or feel fruitful, but by showing up again and again, I can see that I’m much more than any one moment.


Planting Seeds in Maui with Ram Das

The second mandala is the Seed of Life, a favorite pattern found in sacred geometry where we draw seven circles of the same size. I call this mandala, “Planting Seeds in Maui with Ram Dass.” During a presentation on the practice of chanting by Krishna Dass, he spoke of “planting seeds.” His practice of speaking the names of the gods in the chants is a way of spiritually planting seeds. As I filled in row after row of little seedlings, I imagined each section a garden patch belonging to different participants at the retreat. Many circles of friends old and new gathered for a week of planting seeds of inner peace, joy, and love.

As you look around from section to section in this mandala, you’ll see how perfectly imperfect it is. I didn’t get hung up on making each row exactly the same. I thought of a recent visit at my friend Carol’s house in Pennsylvania. Sitting on her porch I noticed a pumpkin plant that took over and wrapped around the entire side of her charming little home. “All of this is from one seed,” Carol remarked as I took in it’s bounty. When we plant seeds, we can’t predict how the plant will grow. Herein, I imagined my wonky rows of repeating plant like patterns to be like our spiritual journeys – we can’t predict how we’ll grow and blossom – it’s perfectly imperfect.


Flower of Love & Compassion

This mandala is so very special as it was created during the mala ceremony. Each person had the opportunity to receive a mala, a string of beads used in meditation, and have a 1:1 moment with Ram Dass. 350 people queued up for their turn while Krishna Dass and other musicians filled the room with rhythmic beats and chants that resonated deeply within my body.

Typically, I don’t have patience to stand in a line, but I was in good spirits for this occasion. I sang along and took in the smiles of others happy to be gathering together for this special occasion. About a third of the way, I looked around and it reminded me of the last 13 years working for the Catholic Church and the many Masses that I attended where my colleagues lined up to receive the Eucharist. Although I’m not Catholic and the Eucharist doesn’t hold any meaning for me, sitting there not invited to participate felt hurtful at a deep level. Here I was bringing my gifts and talents to serve an organization that was unwelcoming and judgmental.

During the mala ceremony, I stood overwhelmed with emotions as I looked around at the other participants. There were people from so many walks of life – women, men, old, young, religious, spiritual. I appreciated so very much that I didn’t need to believe in any Hindu gods or be a card carrying member of any religion to share in this beautiful ceremony of love and connection. Tears poured down my face as I wept and my heart filled up with gratitude.

I realized in that moment, that this was the beginning of a new healing journey. I had 13 years working in a toxic environment that I need to cleanse from in my body, mind, and soul. My tears were the first step in cleansing.


I managed to dry my eyes before I had my special moment with Ram Dass. I was deeply touched by his presence and left feeling affirmed that I was exactly where I was meant to be in that moment.

As I look at my mandala flower of love and compassion, I see a bright and joyful center flanked by lots of petals representing my growth – how far I’ve already come in this lifetime and the growth yet to come.

It wasn’t until I was retiring for the night when I realized that I was wearing the same colors that I used in the mandala. Does that happen to you? Do you find yourself using, wearing, and surrounding yourself with the same colors? My color palette these days of orange, hot pink, light green, and deep blue reflect how joyful I feel inside.


On the last morning we gathered at the beach for a closing ceremony led by a South African Shaman. At one point he tossed long stemmed roses into the crowd. The first one bounced off the top of my head and landed into my hands. Oh how I chuckled by this unexpected surprise. I have a gift for having flying objects land on my head. It’s why I was the last one picked in gym class – any time a ball was thrown in the air, I would cower to protect my head. The rose bopping my head was a delightful surprise and felt like a cosmic nod for not cowering!

The final highlight of the retreat was a group swim. After the emotional and physically exhausting week, I needed to plunge and soak in Mother Maui’s waters. I had never experienced a group swim where we all rose and sank with each big wave. I lingered longer than most and took my time to float. The water covered my ears muffling the sounds of the distant chanting and accentuating my rhythmic breath. I allowed my body to completely relax. I surrendered all thoughts, feelings, and expectations. As the water gently moved my limp body in and out with each wave, I felt like Mother Maui was giving me watsu therapy. This swim was another step in cleansing my body, mind, and soul.


What’s Next? Serving Love

My final mandala drawing is a tracing of my hand wearing the mala that I received during the ceremony and my renewed intention to keep pouring my heart into all that I do.

I return from this retreat feeling prepared for what’s next. I feel more grounded and confident that this path that I’m on is exactly where I’m meant to be. I see how the meditation and chanting practices that I learned in the retreat complement my mandala practice. Each practice is a vehicle for pausing, quieting the mind, and cultivating loving kindness.

I look forward to sharing this awesome journey with my mandala family in the Sharing Circle, online courses, and upcoming new years program at Kripalu.


Kathryn Costa

PS – Wow! This is a long blog post. If you made it down this far, I’m so impressed. I’d love to hear from you. Did any bits of my story resonate with you? Do you have a “Hawaii Wound?” I’d love to hear about your practices (mandala or otherwise) in the comments below. Thanks for being here!

PSS – I completely forgot about my “Hawaii Wound” once I woke up in paradise. I’m so happy to say that I had my own Hawaii experience and it far exceeded anything I had dreamed up. Many thanks to Regina for inviting me, to Mike the retreat organizer for saying, “yes! I have a spot for you,” and to my wonderful husband Fernando who didn’t hesitate when I told him about this opportunity.