Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy—best known as SARK to the millions of people who buy her books, posters, cards, and other products—is an instigator of the highest order. She’s been known to suggest people invite someone dangerous to tea, draw on the walls, and eat mangoes naked. And, yes, she’s quite serious about encouraging others not to be so serious all the time. But her goal is hardly foolish.
Ever since she released her first wildly colorful word-art poster, How to Be an Artist, more than three decades ago, she’s been on a mission to empower people to transform their lives—by cultivating their creativity, igniting their imagination, and practicing radical self-acceptance and self-love.
Here, SARK talks with Unity Magazine editor KATY KOONTZ about how we can invite more miracles into our lives.
Katy Koontz: How did you learn to find miracles?
SARK: It’s really about asking for them. Most of us get conditioned to think asking won’t deliver what we want. People say, “I’ve asked for a romantic partner, and I’ve never met one,” or “I’ve asked for more money, and I’ve never gotten it,” or “I’ve asked for a better job, and it’s never happened.” This is the kind of evidence people give for why they don’t believe in miracles.
But if you’re asking for miracles, you have to tune your vision to see them. The miracle might not come in the form you expect or in the way you imagine. A crying child or a barking dog could point you to a miracle. And if you’re convinced miracles don’t exist, then guess what? They won’t appear for you. You won’t even see them. People walk right past miracles all the time.
I’m immersed in miracles every day, all day long. I have millions of examples of finding miracles. Calling them to you and recognizing them is a spiritual practice available to everyone. People think they’re just driving their car to do an errand. No, they’re a miracle worker putting themselves in the path of miracles. I believe that’s how we need to think and how we need to operate our lives.
KK: I love the way you call them to you: “Miracle, find me now!” It’s not a request, and you’re not pleading. It’s more like a command.
SARK: That’s the faith part. So many people half-heartedly ask for a miracle and then give up before they find it. Instead of collecting evidence of miracles, they end up developing a practice of collecting evidence that there are no miracles.
KK: So does that mean you have to meet miracles halfway?
SARK: Even more than halfway sometimes. One of my favorite miracle asks of all time happened when I ran out of money near the end of the month, and I didn’t have the $500 I needed to pay the rent. I was at my wit’s end. So I went outside and said, “Miracle, find me now! I need money for the rent!” What could be more desperate than that? I felt like an idiot. I was standing on the street thinking, What can this possibly do? But I stood out there, and I asked for it. I gave the miracle an opportunity to arrive. And then I saw what I thought was a leaf blowing up the street. I looked down and realized in that split second that it was not a leaf—it was a $100 bill! And then four more $100 bills blew up the street past me. I picked them all up! I still laugh about friends asking how long I stayed out there, waiting for more. It was about an hour!
KK: How do you respond when people say your incredible stories can’t possibly be true?
SARK: I know it’s because they think it couldn’t be true for them, so I’ve learned to help people focus on creating their own incredible stories. Helping them make their dreams real is my primary purpose. Most of my miracle stories are about receiving kindness from other people—and that’s something everyone can experience.
KK: You cultivated finding miracles as a young woman when you were living on the bartering system for 10 years. Living without money must have been challenging—how did you manage?
SARK: I relied on miracles, and people definitely helped me too. Every once in a while, my parents or others would help. And I did all kinds of trades. For instance, I’d house-sit. Or one time in the Bahamas a hotel manager gave me a room in exchange for giving his daughter swimming lessons. I excelled in making these kinds of arrangements, but it wasn’t always easy, of course, and it didn’t always work. I had to get very good at asking for what I needed or wanted and also at accepting when it didn’t turn out.
KK: What prompted you to even begin that?
SARK: Between the ages of 14 to 26, I had a total of 250 jobs, many lasting only a few hours. I didn’t do well with a regimented lifestyle. One job was in a factory putting rubber tips on darts that shot out of toy guns. Someone was always weighing my bag of darts and telling me I had not done enough. Another job was sewing in a nursing home. I didn’t know how to sew, but it turned out okay because they couldn’t see very well. So I would sew on a button that had a giant clump of thread behind it and they’d say, “Oh, this is so wonderful, dear. Thank you.”
After those 250 jobs, at age 26 I told myself, I’m going to be an artist and writer, and I don’t care if I have to starve. Including the second part of the sentence was not a good thing to do. I don’t recommend this. But I want to acknowledge that while I was considered poor, I could still have been described as a privileged poor person, because I grew up middle class, and I didn’t have any memories of being evicted or living on government cheese. I had no trauma in that area. And also, I was an attractive white woman, to put it bluntly, so I was given all kinds of things others in my position might not have been given. I wasn’t savvy about privilege at that time. Anyway, instead of just acquiescing to the system and staying in jobs I didn’t like, I invented and created other ways to live.
KK: That must have required a great deal of imagination.
SARK: Absolutely. It trained me to think about life, including my spiritual development, in a different way.
KK: How so?
SARK: I was raised in the Lutheran Church. They actually asked me to leave the Sunday school because I was asking too many questions. And when I wanted to be an acolyte, I was told that girls could not be acolytes. So at 11 years old, I announced to my parents that I was done with the Lutheran Church.
At the time, the Minneapolis Public Library was my sanctuary, and I was methodically reading my way through it. I just started reading every book that interested me, going from A through Z. When I got to the Ks, I found the East Indian philosopher Krishnamurti. I told my parents he was my spiritual teacher. Of course, they were against that decision, so I just read his books and learned to keep those ideas to myself.
KK: Your iconic How to Be an Artist poster exploded in popularity soon after you created it in 1989. Why do you think that message resonated so strongly with people?
SARK: It’s a statement about being an artist of life, and we are all artists of life. So phrases like “Stay loose, learn to watch snails, plant impossible gardens,” captured people’s imaginations and confirmed for them that there could be magic in their lives. It went on to be printed millions of times. It was mentioned in Time magazine; it’s been in major motion pictures; and it had stage plays produced from it.
KK: You wrote that after a suicide attempt, right?
SARK: I did, when I was finding my way back to my life. I’d gone through two weeks of flashbacks to the incest I’d experienced in my childhood, and I hadn’t eaten or slept. I was absolutely out of my mind. I put my head in my gas oven, but thankfully, I didn’t know to blow the pilot light out first. So I just started getting really hot, and I smelled like pizza. I ended up calling the suicide prevention line. The person asked me if I really wanted to die or if I just wanted the pain to end. I realized it was the latter, and I got the help I needed.
KK: You went through eating disorders, depression, the abuse you mentioned—it was a lot. Do you feel you’ve come out on the other side?
SARK: I think there are a lot of “sides” to travel through with that much trauma and abuse. After 14 years of therapy, I went on to do much more esoteric healing with energy workers and other healers. And for the past four years or so, I’ve been working with a fabulous Internal Family Systems therapist. I moved from survivor to thriver.
I’ve always been an activist for incest survivors, although I’ve realized over the past few years that I feel I’ve completed that role. I’m not interested in talking or writing about the incest anymore. I wrote about that in a number of my books, and I did a lot of processing around the older brother who abused me and the neighbor who abused him. I’m not sure I would say I’m on the other side of that, but I would say I’ve expanded my healing capacities and moved on from primitive places of pain.
“I’m immersed in miracles every day, all day long. I have millions of examples of finding miracles. Calling them to you and recognizing them is a spiritual practice available to everyone.”
KK: You’ve described your books as being “serious books in colorful clothing.” How is the art and the color an integral part of your message of transformation?
SARK: My parents encouraged me in so many ways. For example, we were allowed to read at the table without interruption, which I think was so innovative. We had stacks of comic books, and we would sit silently with our lunch, reading. I was enraptured with the marriage of art and words, and I started filling journals with large, colorful pages that are very similar to the books I ended up writing. So to me, art and color and words are integral to everything. My books reflect the way I look at the world.
KK: What is your best advice for people who think they’re not creative?
SARK: Some people think they’re not creative and say they can’t even draw stick figures. They think of creativity as output, like a poster or a piece of music. Meanwhile, creativity is inherent in all of us.
Parents are creative because they have to figure out ways to spend time with babies and toddlers who can’t communicate in adult ways. Accountants are creative, even though we think they just add up numbers. Numbers are actually incredibly creative! Uber drivers think creatively because they have to talk to people while they get them to their destinations and still feel good while they’re driving.
We need to change our belief systems about creativity.
I’m always teaching people my three Miracle Methods. Number one is getting connected to your intuition because that’s your biggest creative driver and deliverer of unconditional love. Number two is naming and acknowledging your feelings and having a care system for them.
So many people don’t know how to love all the parts of themselves, so when they have unpleasant feelings, they try to deny them, repress them, avoid them, or anesthetize them. But the feelings just get larger and louder.
Feelings need our love and attention, but they actually don’t need that much of it. We get afraid that they will overwhelm us, but they won’t.
Number three is dealing with inner-critic dialogue. We fear that we haven’t done enough, don’t have enough, or that we’re just not enough in general. We’re fat. We’re old. We didn’t say the right thing to that person. We have an endless stream of negative thoughts.
Being able to redirect those energies is essential to keeping creativity alive and making your dreams real.
KK: You also do mentoring and teach creativity courses. What prompted you to go in that direction?
SARK: I started mentoring a decade or so ago, and I even do one-to-one work where people spend what I call a “Dream Day” with me. I present them with a creative dream pathway to make their dreams real.
It’s so exciting to show people that the process can be so much easier than they think. Then it’s astounding to watch what they do and how they change their lives. They find new love, start businesses, write and publish books—all these great things.
Now I’m able to do that mentoring along with my darling husband David, who was a successful Hollywood movie producer for 30 years as well as a writer’s manager and an agent. And he’s a writer himself, so he has all these marvelous skills. I call him an angel of love because he tunes people to love’s vibration.
We’re so excited to be empowering people to live their dream lives.
I’ve also developed a library of online courses and tools so people can learn at their own pace, without having to come to San Francisco to work privately with me.
KK: You’ve said people think their main problem is that they lack wealth, but the problem is really that they lack imagination. Can you elaborate?
SARK: In my early twenties, I had all these mentors who were millionaires and billionaires, and they were miserable. They had lots of money, but no imagination. Imagination is the basis of us living our dream lives. What can you imagine? What can you dream? And how can you make changes, either large or small, so you can live a fully imaginative, well-balanced life filled with creativity, joy, self-expression, and purpose? That’s true wealth.
SARK’s Dream Discovery Process
What if you could focus more energy toward living your dream life and give it some much-needed momentum? SARK’s Dream Discovery Process will support you in reconnecting to your intuition and making your biggest dreams real. This free digital book is full of short prompts and self-reflective activities to help you discover and expand your creative power. To download, visit planetsark.com/dreamdiscovery.
SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) is an artist, speaker, teacher, and author of 19 books on creativity and empowerment, including the bestsellers Succulent Wild Woman: 25th Anniversary Edition (Atria, 2022), Eat Mangoes Naked (Fireside, 2001), and Make Your Creative Dreams REAL (Fireside, 2004). She also offers online courses, mentoring opportunities, and a variety of products on her website, planetsark.com. Visit her on Facebook (@planetsark) and Instagram (@sarkifylife).
This article appeared in Unity Magazine®.