contrails and foxtails
a wispy wave
to the morning

~

It’s the last day of February, 2019, and the ending to my practice of writing at least one haiku per day for National Haiku Writers Month–always February. I missed only a couple of days including yesterday. The practice of writing a daily haiku is more of an exercise in taking a closer look at moments that often get ignored or diluted in busy-ness. It’s also a great practice in articulating and editing just enough to give these moments breath and respect. For all of this and more–I am grateful.

~

beginnings and endings
false starts and fine finishes
always in the editing

 

 

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For a Brief and Exciting Moment

like a rock in a river splitting its stream water interrupted returns to its flow

I had two pieces selected for a juried mixed media show, and I’m delighted and proud to announce that one of them received “The Bethlehem House Contemporary Art Gallery’s Directors’ Choice Award.” I was amazed, humbled, and honored trying to process it all. I am a self-taught artist coming from a loving but hard-working, practical and uninterested-in-art family. I had to slowly and with great pain and loneliness at times find my own way and voice. The real artistry/creativity and reward, is about finding one’s whole self and transformation truly from a larva-grub to a moth through to a butterfly-metamorphosis. Lots of angst and breaking through that “I’m not good enough” and perfectionism mentality/training. It’s all part of the process, but for me—as a late bloomer–all the more satisfying and all the more grateful!

One month ago, I wrote about depression. Now, I am writing about success–the pendulum forever swings. The real breakthrough here is not the award itself, however sweet, but the interruption–like the rock in the river, that changes our flow forever however momentarily and seemingly insignificant, in the big watercourse of life. I can now fully appreciate and gratefully wear the mantle of heroine in my own story and forgive and tender the goat when she stumbles.

~

heroine or goat always rocks in the river’s flow

Unity In Diversity

Yesterday I happily attended a celebration of programs that brought together diversity,  a collaborative intergenerational participation and youth mural projects. These workshop/programs inspired youth and seniors to connect through artful play, get engaged in the community library and foster a positive environment for collaboration amongst a diverse group of local residents. I was one of the teaching artists in the Intergenerational Art Program. It was a heartwarming and delightful experience and as in all “teaching” opportunities–the teacher gets to learn from the students. From the eldest senior at a spirited 92 years to the youngest at a mature 11 years, the international as well as intergenerational group came together to connect, discuss diversity and create art together. Through round-table stories and imaginative artwork, the different generations and nationalities learned about one another’s cultures and traditions and formed meaningful relationships. They also bonded on their many commonalities to form lifetime friendships and inspire one another. It truly was an antidote to all the fear of people “who don’t look or act like us.”

At the same time, all the participants took risks with their artwork and vanquished the fear of “not good enough” or “I can’t draw'” demons. It took a little coaxing, especially with the senior generation, but once they let go of what art is supposed to look like–they had the most fun and appreciation of their creations. A new art gallery was set up in the local library which will be an ongoing showcase for the residents’ artwork and stories.

Sponsors of the program include: LIFE Center Stage, Friends of the Butler Library, and Morris Arts–all of New Jersey. Special thanks to Vicky Mulligan of LIFE Center Stage, visionary, friend and wise woman of the tribe for inviting me to participate, take risks and stretch beyond my own limits.

 

Thank You Mary Oliver

Yesterday there was sad news (for many of us) in the passing of poet Mary Oliver. She more than any other poet, showed me the way of simple words elevated to song. I always admire a master who can bring rustic or homespun to the table with seeming ease and grace and invite us to share in a feast. Mary Oliver did exactly that with words and wonder for the natural world. Simple and profound at the same time.

One of my forever favorite poems of hers:

I GO DOWN TO THE SHORE 

I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall–
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.

Mary Oliver ~ from A Thousand Mornings

Thank you.

Pentimento

pentimento…regret is always a choice ~

A pentimento (plural pentimenti) is an alteration in a painting, evidenced by traces of previous work, showing that the artist has changed his or her mind as to the composition during the process of painting. The word is Italian for repentance, from the verb pentirsi, meaning to repent. Since it is my practice to work over much more  than traces of past paintings on the canvas–it would seem that I am very regretful for the failure of the original work. Hardly–and on the contrary, I look for used canvases and boards to paint over. A sterile and bright white blank surface often hinders my work. I love to work on borrowed art as long as I sand it down to simple traces of other artist’s paint. In fact, it’s like solving a puzzle to match a new concept to an old board of “borrowed” color and shapes. I am always grateful to repurpose these boards into new life. Some examples below:

“Yes, Virginia (and Andrea) – there is a Santa Claus!”

These words, minus the added parenthesis — (and Andrea) — appeared on the editorial page of the now-defunct New York Sun in 1897. Written by Frank P. Church to Virginia O’Hanlon in response to her question “…please tell the truth, is there a Santa Clause?”

His wise response included the above “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” and the following: “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias (and no Andreas, Graces, Donnas and Toms etc.) There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.” We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.”

So thankfully, with these remembered words, I am inspired to believe in the magic of Santa Claus or Papa Noel knowing that there is kindness, generosity, beauty, joy and a frivolity in our human clan. There must also be the same spirit and light in our greater “hood” – the milky way and beyond its star dusting. Actually, there are no borders in expressing and sharing joy, love, and peace. And there is also space for grief, anger and sadness. It’s all on the creative spectrum. Just for now though, during this feminine and holy Solstice season, I welcome childhood’s version of Santa’s magic (grace) into my life and believe in it for all life.

Peace.