Posts Tagged ‘Skidmore’

Trust to Love

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.

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“Oh Great Mystery
Sun, Moon, Earth, Sky and Sea
You are within me
And all around me.”

This is a beautiful chant we sang at the early morning meditation group at the International Women’s Writing Guild Skidmore Summer Conference when I attended and taught workshops there in the 1990’s.

The meditation was led by Amejo Amyot, a holy, raucous, humorous and good-willed woman writer and artist. During the time I attended there, Ameyo began creating wondrous full-bodied women goddesses. She said they came from within and demanded to be created and put on Earth.


Amejo lived from her Essential Self — the Self that Barbara Marx Hubbard talks about that is the driving force of the Universal Human. The week-long  IWWG  Summer Conference was alive with the Spirit of many Essential Selves showing up or in the process of emerging.

I am eternally grateful for being in their presence. They came as teachers, guides, lively spirits and friends and you remained touched by your experience there throughout the year until you returned the following year.

“Woman, I Am
Spirit, I Am
I Am the Infinite within my soul.
I have no beginning
and I have no end.
Oh, this I Am.”

This was another chant we sang in the meditation class and spontaneously broke out in across the campus grounds throughout the week.

One of the things we did, mid-week in the meditation group, was to create a prayer stick from the materials Ameyo brought into class. First we took an early morning walk in the woods outside the building. It was a cool, crisp and dewey late summer temperature in the north-east location of Saratoga Springs, New York that accompanied us on our walk.  Most of the time there was either a dim sliver moon hanging yet in the sky or, if we were lucky, a full luminous shadowing full circle, sliding from view until the following evening.

My first prayer stick was just a bit of a twiggy branch, but I brought it inside with me and adorned with with blue, red, and yellow slim ribbons and not much else. I wasn’t real confident in the creation of such a stick yet, but in following years, I looked forward to it.

We put our prayer intentions on our sticks and then brought them outside on a grassy square, placing them in a circle for the rest of the week. It was impossible not to glance at them as we passed by on the way to classes or the cafeteria, featuring not only food, but the multiple conversations of motivated women filled with the energies of creation, laughter and purpose.

My twiggy prayer stick had a very deep intention on it. The intention for grandchildren. My younger daughter had suffered the pains of the loss of her first child, due to miscarriage and was struggling to conceive again.

I took my prayer stick home with me at the end of the conference. I believe I had three ribbons ends trailing off my stick. I have had that prayer stick in my creativity room ever since.

My daughter conceived within the year with my first granddaughter Devon, now age 17. Her brother arrived four years later. And my first daughter, after several miscarriages, gave birth to spirit-of-light & laughter, Amy Frances.

Hummmm — three ribbons, three grandchildren. Oh, Great Mystery!

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I’ve had a hard time being single-minded this morning, being focused.  Truck day is a short day and one-half now away from our door. I am still carting much of my work materials from my room over to our new home, so I can “pick up from where I left off” without much of a delay, and I still have a heavy four drawer file to unload so the guys can carry the file out.

The computer age did not minimize paperwork for me. Why is that? Am I a compulsive hard-copy die-hard who won’t give in? I usually know how to catagorize hard copies in files or binders (and I have many) but I’m not so sure I can find what I want in my computer saved files. I think I will work on that next year.

Meanwhile, brain-wave and bodily cellular stimulation arrives in books mentioned by email I get from friends, and I have to explore, and get lost in “the next thing I want to know”.

I am in the midst of planning a January party for Tom’s 70th birthday, with invites yet to print out; I have scheduled a January Wondrous Women gathering and another workshop just confirmed for January where I will begin to build on my work. And messages concerning both of those are running along the neural pathways of my brain, chattering all the while they do. More paperwork!

At this moment, Tom is wrangling with our Network provider, by telephone, car trip downtown and back and now again on telephone, trying to get our service cancelled here to begin new at our home. And they gave him a choice — as in — Now, or comeback tomorrow to end it tomorrow, two trips! So this may bleep into cyberspace at any moment.

The CHOICE now is to quickly get my post on Choices on my Napkinwriter — then return to boxing and packing. Let’s see if I can stick with it!

NOTES taken in my 1994 Skidmore Writer’s Conference Notebook.

The class I was in was Dr. Benjy Brooks, a pediatric surgeon, and world emissary of good among the world’s children. She was talking about choices that day. Here are my notes:

“We are what we repeatedly do.”

“Excellence is not an Act but a Habit.” Aristotle

The Power of a Choice, using Victor Frankle’s example from Nazi-war-torn Europe and Auchwitz prison camp: “It is not what they do to you. It is what I think about what they do to me.”

Patterns of Success Choices.

1)  Choices that build me up. Take absolute responsibility for self. Life is a series of opportunities.

2)   Choices that pull me down. Complain. The risk I’m thinking about taking is not an opportunity. 
       …I create the rain that falls on self.
       …I partake in negative self-talk.
       …I am always “too something”, old, fat, young, dumb

3)   Break Even Choices 
       ….I don’t even recognize I have a choice.
       ….I never make a choice
        ….I utilize little of my potential

Steps to take:

A.    Ask “What type am I? ” Do I know what pattern I am?

B.    Ask  “Is the present pattern working for me?”

C.    Look at the pattern of people around me who make choices.

D.    Ask “How can I improve my choices or pattern of how I make my choices?”

Followup by these suggestions: (you have a choice to do these or not!)

Listen within.  Clarify my choices. Act on my choice. Don’t give into, “I’ll wait until…” Learn to recognize the old programs, the old programs that once worked for you but you know they do not work anymore. Stop majoring in minor things.”

Make a Choice.
Set a Goal.
Create an atmosphere around you that supports you.
Reward yourself!

Try those four choices pertaining to something  (one thing) about the Christmas and holy day season for 21 days, the time it takes to form a habit.  See what happens and enjoy the reward you CHOOSE.

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I’ve chosen a new banner to head up my 2012 Napkinwriter blog. It is the photo of what I call “Phases of Woman” that I have had a copy of since I saw a large print of it on the wall of an Assisted Care Facility back in the late 1980s. I was looking for what might be the eventual place my mother would reside in to take care of her growing loss of cognition needs.

This large print on the wall impacted me deeply when I saw it. The place I saw it was not the place we chose for mom, but somehow I obtained a small print of it and have kept it on my writer table ever since. I bring it into the writing, spirituality and feminine realization workshops I facilitate also.

I believe we have all of these phases of woman in us at all time. The young child has in someway the grown up and the wisdom elder in her before she ever reaches those ages in her real life. The grown up woman reaches for the wisdom of the elder within her during trying times and responsibilities of mid-life. And the lovely elder has the playfulness of the young child ever within her. She also remembers the turning points of changed beliefs and actions of her middle-age self that made all the difference in her own life and how she lives it today.

This is coming up for me again because as I pack, I come across my  Skidmore Writing Journals from my years of attending IWWG’s (International Womens Writer Conferences) in the summers of 1990s into 2001.  Those were years of momentous change for me and some really tough emotional sledding.

Yet, I open these journals, mere spiral notebooks, and bits and pieces of thoughts, “seeds”,  and writing instructions like…..”use an image to….” “write about where you live and who you know”….write about the bag lady at McDonald’s”… pop out at me.

Little unfinished thoughts — “possibilities” — lay scrawled across the page, like a dim light going on within…”You have the power to manifest what you want.” What? I think I am just learning this now, and here is the thought in a 1994 journal.

Another page….the words, “the power of choice” makes all the difference. The lesson of Victor Frankle, who taught us from Auchwitz Nazi camp days that “It’s not what ‘they’ do to you but it’s about what I think about what they do to me.” How many times that lesson has reappeared in my life in different circumstances, different settings through my “grown-up” years into my now here “wisdom years.”

And yes, now, I do claim that lady of wisdom. Once again I lug my heavy journals with me in our move, for I have not yet harvested all the shining wheat they contain that comes from fields in life I have sowed lovingly, tended carefully and repaired from the storms.  I look forward to the harvest!

There are two rather huge things for me these days that I am trying to get my head around and fit into a container of thought. These are: 1) Somehow, we are all one. and 2) Somehow time (past, present and future) are all happening at the same time and I am in the middle of it all, mostly trying to learn my best how to just live in the present. 

I don’t know if I will ever truly understand either of these, but I think they are true. And reading journals just strengthens those beliefs in me, for I know that some of the things I discover I have written on paper in the past, have somehow shaped my future and directed my paths long before I knew the truth of the thought.

I was hoping the woman photo would work as a banner for Napkinwriter, as I will be offering up what is precious to me from these journals in next year’s writings. Actually, I won’t even wait until next year.

The next post will be about what I wrote in 1994 about choices and an 84 year old workshop leader at Skidmore who inspired me. She not only inspired me beyond words, but to find my own words essential stories and get them on the waiting page.

Her name was Dr. Benji Brooks, and she was a pediatric surgeon, who along the way in her medical career probably saved countless lives. She taught workshops so “I could do something of significance in this world before I die” she said one day in class. It struck me as a most humble statement and obviously her choices revolved around the good of humankind.

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Mom & Grandma Marion with Laura Sue

                                    Her Name is Marion

                                                         Susan H. Hajec

                    She is somebody
                               her name is Marion.
                    She is somebody
                               she is my mother.
                     She is somebody
                                she is ill with Alzheimer’s.

                     She is somebody 
                                she is the delete key that’s been
                                     mistakenly pressed on the computer of life.
                      She is the jigsaw puzzle
                                 with the missing pieces.
                      She is the finished recipe
                                  minus a key ingredient.
                       She is the sunset
                                  blocked from view.
                       She is the wrapped birthday present
                                  without the signed card.
                        My mother is somebody
                                   Alzheimer’s is the lurking bandit.

                        My mother is somebody.
                                   She is the gentle sensation of peach fuzz
                                            on my cheek.
                         My mother is somebody.
                                   She is the beckoned smile from a baby.
                          My mother is somebody.
                                    She is the organizer in a house of chaos.

                          She is somebody
                                    her name is Marion.
                          She is somebody
                                    she is my mother.

                                                  written at IWWG, Skidmore 2004.

In the photo above, mom is with our firstborn daughter, Laura Sue, dressing her for her Baptism in Lexington, Kentucky in July 1966. You can tell by the instant, strong eye contact that they had a most precious bond throughout mom’s life. I remember being so proud to share our daughter with my parents — what an immeasurable blessing it was for us all — to be duplicated once more two years later with the birth of our second daughter, Kathleen Marie.

My days continue as a mom and I have many happy days, not just one a year because I am a mom.

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