Feeds:
Posts
Comments

A Long Day

 

“It’s been a long day for you,” the angel said to me. It was only 7:45pm but this angel knew the length of my day was not truly measured in the minutes on the clock. “Yes,” I agreed. “And it is the third long day this week with two more likely ahead of me.”

He listened quietly and nodded his head. This angel was the driver of the hospital shuttle bus that had picked me up to drive me across the street to the parking garage I left at 8:30 am this morning. I was his sole rider going back, just as I was the only one on the morning shuttle, most unusual.

This ride was very short and I was burdened down with two carry bags and my purse. In the course of this short ride, he learned today was my 54th wedding anniversary date, and my husband lay in the hospital, possibly awaiting the insertion of a pacemaker for his tired, slow beating heart. The conversation dribbled on between the two of us – me telling him we came to Lexington the day after we were married for Tom had gotten his first job out of college at the IBM Corporation.

“Oh,” he said. “I wished I would have gone with them. I had a chance, but I stayed in printing a long time.” The only trouble is, he lamented, was that the pay was good, but there was no retirement for him at the end.

Well, I told him, I worked in public relations so I had many interactions with printers.  Our lives took many turns after Tom left IBM, and with Tom’s health challenges and our own financial limitations I hoped God had me somewhere in the Big Picture.

“Oh, that’s certain. You believe he does.”  Yes, I said, I do.

So much in such a short trip. An old man still making his way on earth. Me, still hanging with it. I know I thanked him and told him he was kind as I stepped down the loading ramp of the shuttle.

Afterward at home, I was, sitting tired in my lounge chair, heading for bed, I thought about him again. Either as man or angel, he is why I don’t believe what they are telling us about living in a hateful, spiteful world. I, myself, keep bumping up against kind and thoughtful people like this one encounter with a perfect stranger.

I wished I had said to him, “You are doing a very important job now. Thank you.”

 

 

 

It was once a fantasy. Then a dream. A puzzle, perhaps. How would I tell the story? A story of silences and secrets encased in a contemporary contemplative silence of support from which the story grew and took on a voice of it’s own.

It is a story that lived in my heart and needed many years to grow to tell me how it wanted to be told and how it was lived. My book is no longer a wish or an untold tale. I have written this book that tells of a mother lost and mothers found. Blessings and guidance along the way and the determination to speak it in my own voice, not hindered by judgment.

Along the way I have met teachers and mentors….all along the way over many years. I have been feature writer, photographer, columnist and founding editor writing stories of so many others. But one time just two short years ago, when I entered a room I was asked my name and the second question was, “Are you an author?”

The woman’s name was Angela and she and her daughter headed up the meeting and their intention was to inspire those of us “wanna-be-authors” to go ahead and BE ONE. When I left that meeting, where I briefly described the story I wanted to write, I knew the intention was deeply set within me that I would do everything possible to become an author.

It was not a false start this time. I reached back into the many inroads to my story that I had formed and then stalled out on and brought what was meaningful forward. I enrolled once again in Janet Conner’s Intersection for Writers on-line course. I indeed worked toward achieving her AIC award — ass in chair — because that is the way you become an author.

I carved out a writing schedule around which other things were second on the list. This was a mainstay of the day, every weekday. I had to settle for best-effort on other things like cleaning our living space, planning and preparing meals, scheduling medical appointments, and physical exercise at the Y. Writing no longer happened “when I had time.” It now happened all the time. I got in a groove and it felt right.

I’ve had two very important editing and publishing professionals with me from early on in the writing of this book. Both were invaluable and we are still connecting our work together because now that the book is written, the very tedious task of getting it published and to market lie ahead. It has taken 18 solid months to write. I now begin the second rung of the journey. I am in brand new territory now but as I navigate through these open waters, I set my new intention to doing well in this phase and seeing the successful publication of my book, at which time I will be able to answer that second question, “Why, yes, I am an author.”

I am thankful to the readers who check in on Napkinwriter, although my posts have not been frequent for some time now. There are two reasons for this. My main work in writing is dedicated time to my memoir, Journey Girl. The second reason is I have skipped over to play time in the arts: painting, drawing, coloring, sketching and hanging out with a amazing tribe of others who cherish their art practice. I am learning many things and one of those things is that my time is really crowded much more than I ever thought it would be.

Watercolor has caught my fancy and I have so many others that inspire me that I might achieve one day. The biggest thing I have achieved is that playing with watercolor really makes me happy. And I like happy.

 

I love the beauty of flowers.

Sketching, and Ink and color are intriguing to me. I get lost in the essence and just want to hint at their beauty.

Playing with abstracts and the mix of dark and light bring new adventures upon the page.

I notice that when I am painting, I notice more things around me rather than take them for granted.

Layers — a skill to learn. Learning to trust, and my favorite teacher’s goal is to teach us to become our own favorite artist.

 

Playing with different art mediums — crayon and pencil.

Fun with nature.

Learning to draw what I see.

 

So many choices, so little time.

Fun selfie adventures.

 

Even art in the sidewalk cracks.

Anywhere I am, anywhere I go, paper and pen, paints and pastels provide amusing creative time. But I plan to start coming back to Napkinwriter on a weekly basis, for it is a joy of my heart.

 

 

Living the Days of Resurrection

 

Guest Blog from Christine Valters Paintner
Galway, Ireland

 

A love note from your online Abbess

Take My Hand

Please don’t plant me
neat rows of rosebushes
and tulips at attention,
no manicured gardens
or crystal vases of cut stems.

Instead, take my hand,
lead me onto
rain-softened grass
which undulates like a boat
on a summer lake,

lie down with me
in a quilt of sunlight and shadows
among yellow petals, violet trumpets,
a feast for hares and bees,
let’s linger and forget ourselves

until even the tiled sky above
is cracked open by stars
and all that is restless and wild
within us can roam the heavens
howling the moon aloft.

—Christine Valters Paintner

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

After the six weeks of Lent and our disciplines of letting go of distractions and listening more deeply to the sacred call in our daily lives we arrive to the Feast of Easter which initiates a 50-day season of practicing resurrection. I love this sense of invitation into what it means to live resurrection in the midst of the ordinary routines of life.

I wrote this poem a couple of years ago while up in Donegal on a writing weekend. It was being held at this lovely manor house with a large grassy area out front leading down to a lake. During one of the writing sessions, the instructor invited us to go outside for fifteen minutes and see what was inspired. I wandered out hungrily, so glad for time to move outside into the summer sun, sit under a broad tree offering shade.

For me it is a poem about the longing for wildness in my life. I am aware how having everything in order and well planned can be so seductive, but the divine presence is not a God of neat rows and lining everything up just so. Certainly the Easter story many of us celebrate today reveals a divine wildness which erupts into the world beyond our expectations. Practicing resurrection in part means opening to what happens when we release our ideas of how things should unfold.

There have been times in my life when I have embraced this sense of wildness with more vigor than others. Certainly selling everything we owned and leaving Seattle for an adventure living in Europe was one of those seasons. Now living in Galway for the last almost seven years, I have a lovely and sweet life that I adore and am grateful for each day. It involves certain sacred rhythms and times of silence to listen deeply. What is most nourishing to me is a wander down by the sea, to feel the roughness of wind, taste the salt on my skin, to shake loose all the things that have become too determined, too set in expectation.

I invite you to enter this poem as a form of lectio divina. Read it through slowly and notice what words or phrases are shimmering for you. Let those unfold in your heart and listen for the sense of invitation arising. Then watch the video below and see what new layers the visuals offer to you. It is a poem of direct address to someone – a loved one perhaps or a prayer to the sacred source. What is your prayer of resurrection as we enter into this season ahead?

……to shake loose all the things that have become too determined…

 

Art by Shh

After the Fact

AP photo credits

 

 

I don’t seem to write of tragic happenings at the time they occur. Words and feelings bulk up inside of me for a time before they are released upon the paper or the computer file.

April 15 is always a day that refers to United States Tax Day and whether or not you have filed on time. April 15, 2019 now lives in infamy as the Notre Dame Cathedral burned as we all watched via computer, or television, or hand-held device, or in person, standing on the streets and bridges of the Seine river in Paris.

 

 

GOD BLESS the heroic firefighters. At 11:23pm when the fire chief announced the rest of the structure of fire-stricken Notre Dame Cathedral was saved, it was within 30 minutes of total collapse. The roof’s irreplaceable ancient wooden beams cut from trees that were alive a millennium ago were gone, The iconic spire fell at 7:40. As darkness poured over the city, 20 firefighters at great risk to their own lives climbed into the two towers to fight the fire from the inside out. By 9:49 pm, fire officials didn’t know if their best would be good enough. But it was. And the world is grateful to them for what they saved. I think of my cousin firefighter Theresa Hajec in Fenton Michigan and say special prayers for her and her fire crew for God’s love and safety to surround them on their daily job.

 

 

It is Holy Week on the Church calendar. People around the world are turned inward in reflection upon what meaning and purpose their practice of Christianity holds in their lives. It is the season of Resurrection and Mary is the way through which all graces flow.

A silence overtakes us now, just as it did for the apostles immediately following Christ’s crucifixion What stood in our midst is no longer there and we grieve the hole it leaves in our hearts and in our lives for it’s pure magnificence touched even ones who could not be in it’s presence.

But in the air is felt a strong current of Resurrection. Yes, there is faith and beyond that a whole certainty that Notre Dame shall rise again. Somehow providing us with a noble link to the past, a firm acceptance of the present, and a way shower to future times.

Ave Maria. Gratia plena. Ora pro nobis.

 

art by Nan Rae

My journey and joy in learning Sumi-e brush painting has acquainted me with some website instruction on YouTube with Nan Rae. I find her invigorating, gracious, and owning every bit of her serendipitous journey into this art. Here is a glance.

 

DELIGHT IN SERENDIPITY!

Nan Rae – Her Journey in Sumi-e Chinese Brush Painting

In her own words: Everyone has a journey that is unique to them and it’s best followed by listening to the promptings of our heart. For me this involves saying yes to everything that presents itself and fortunately that ‘everything’ has always turned out to be something wonderful. Perhaps not visibly wonderful at the beginning but always becoming something amazing.

Of course this does require more faith in life than in following a predictable course but again, this seems to work for me. An early example of this would be when Ralph Tepedino contacted me years ago and asked if I would like to do the California Gift Show. Honestly, I didn’t even know what the Gift Show was but in my usually naive manner I said a resounding “YES”. At that time I was to share a 10 X 10 foot space with two other artists, one who sold her photographic images on greeting cards and the other a gal in England who pressed flowers and placed them on pillows, in frames and all manner of products.

Nan Rae

There I was with one small wall to display my line of greeting cards. If I cut to the chase I will tell you that within three years we were not only doing the Gift Show having three booths featuring only Nan Rae cards but the New York Stationary Show. From these two venues Trader Joe’s found me along with Ling Design in England and so many wonderful gift stores and museums that there isn’t room or time to name them. All serendipity!

Nan Rae

Every licensing contract has come to me just that way. Every commission, including the New York Philharmonic asking permission to use my artwork for their historic trip to Korea and China. I am always as amazed by this as you must be reading these stories but again, it’s my journey and it’s what works for me. A friend once told me she suits up and shows up and perhaps that is the key. We have to work hard and be fully prepared when opportunities present themselves and then be brave enough to say a resounding yes!
Find her and her beautiful paintings and classes at: http://www.nanraestudio.com

 

Nan Rae

Nan Rae explains on her website:

“An expert in Brush Painting, her works,
from her Paris experience,
sing with the joy of Impressionism.”
Nan Rae’s brush painting combines the grace of the Literati style
with an impressionist approach to color.
The Literati style seeks to transcend the mere representation,
of a subject to capture its ch’i, or life force, by using a
minimum of brush strokes for maximum effect.
No sketches are prepared and no models are used.
The artist paints with rapid, intuitive movements of the brush
that convey a “mind image” of the subject.
Sumi-e, Japanese Ink painting,
came from the influence of Chinese Brush;
the techniques and brushes are the same.

Her motto is, Live Joyfully watching her instruct it is easy to see this joy — this ch’i — surrounds and embodies her. She is joy personified.

She encourages me to “get my ch’i on!” and to watch for it in my own brush paintings.

Find her at: http://www.nanraestudio.com

 

Napkinwriter’s journey with Sumi-e is a slow, winding one filled with wonder with what is achieved in this tradition of brush painting. According to the Mustard Seed Garden book, which is considered the bible of this method, there are bunches of rules and regulations for the brush and the artist to produce a calming image filled with ch’i that the observer falls in love with. I have only mastered a few. They also list faults and I am familiar with many of them, even now in my beginning stages. I will watch and learn and enjoy.

by Sue

 

by Sue

by Sue

April 5, 2019

I am writing the last chapter (which is not the last chapter )  to complete the writing of my memoir, Journey Girl. This chapter begins with the influence the wonderful women of IWWG (International Women’s Writers Guild and WWAM (Women Writer and Artist Matrix) had on my life and my writing. I am so forever grateful.

This is a repost

I Will Trust to Love
May 16, 2013 by Napkinwriter

Shattered Mirrors
By Susan Heffron Hajec, inspired from
Mimi Foyle,’s Shattered Mirrors
I will turn to meet my destiny,
reflected in shattered mirrors.
The world breaks
My effort is needed.
I am a humble artist
with prayerful hands
I nourish new life.
In dark corners,
unmolded clay in my hand
in broken places
molding my earthly clod
to reflect what is neglected.
I will trust to love.

Hello Napkinwriter readers. Well just a few moments ago, my blog was shattered…..I typed “glog”. That’s what I feel like now. I had expressed in the first “blank” issue of this, how many ways this workshop experience at WWAM from artist/writer Kittie Bintz had excited me. Now, I am left looking in a seeminly empty draft land to come up with my version.

Recently on MeetUp, I joined a WordPress group and missed the first meeting. This is one of the first things I want to find out how to avoid or at least be a good enough sleuth to recover it.

This experience was about creating an altar to our muse. Kittie, a soon to be retiring public school art teacher, was a vivacious guiding presence, as we mixed water color, tea lights, collage images, words and shattered glass to our creations.

The word “retired” didn’t really fit Kittie, so I suggested she was “re-FIRING” instead, and that word stuck, as I heard it repeated among the more than 50 attendees of WWAM Weekend at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs New York.

What a weekend retreat it was. But then again, we creative’s don’t really retreat from life, rather we continue to re-TREAT the world with continuing inspirations, images, ceremony and words.
The inspiration for my creation came from Mimi Foyle’s poem, Shattered Mirrors, which I share here. I live in the truth that it is indeed prayerful hands and honoring the Mystery that has healed me from my own wounded and light-deprived places in life.

I am in deep gratitude for the great gift of life I enjoy.

Shattered Mirrors
Mimi Foyle

i will turn to meet my destiny,
reflected in shattered mirrors.
heart broken open,
i will pick up the pieces
no matter how sharp
to reflect
what is neglected
in dark corners.
wounded, light-deprived,
with prayerful hands i’ll
recycle devastation to
nourish new life
art, like gardening
is an act of faith and healing,
shining for the world.
as Mystery’s greater
than the sum of all suffering,
I will trust to Love.

Related
Shattered
In “creative writing”
Art is Life. WWAM!
In “Art and the Artist”
WHAM-tastic!
In “Art and the Artist”