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“They can be like a sun, words.
they can do for the heart
what light can
for a field.”
Saint John of the Cross

Words did that for me yesterday as the weather outside shifted between grey skies and breakouts of a gentle, blue sky with the sun shining down upon me.

Editing, revising, and reconstructing awkwardly worded sentences is the same kind of mixture of sun and cloudy murkiness. And that was what I was doing. But when the feeling of “just right” begins to appear, so does the light in the field that Saint John of the Cross speaks of in this quote.

Then later, in a welcome period of rest, came the kind, gentle and inspiring words of a friend, responding to me in email. She had read and appreciated the words I had sent her in a few chapters of the book I am working on. Enough energy and blessing in her own words to bring me to the next pages of creation.

This is a time where our news media seem fixated on the next annoying, obnoxious, and inflammatory TWEET issued by anyone who has an axe to grind, or just feels a streak of mean-ness coming on. Where is the sunshine here? How much better could the world be served by the worldwide net if it blanketed  the globe with words meant to heal; to build up; to enlighten; to build up hope in the existence of goodness.

These words do exist. I have found “my creative, educational, and spiritual tribes” who bring them forth in poetry, song, prose, and good will. With freedom of choice, I relish this sunshine and share some of the sunshine I found in the Alps five years ago with a friend.

 

 

 

 

 

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Image by Abbess Christine Vaulters Paintner

 

Today is Ash Wednesday. I will honor this day with much reflection. I am blessed. I am mortal. I am dust and unto dust, I shall return. I am getting older. My bones have a sense of dust. But my spirit burns bright within me.

There is much I still want to do. Sometimes I want to do it in a hurry. Today is one of those days. Last night, I made a list of all the things I want to do today, a day of release from a focused pace of writing. Yet here I sit writing.

There are way to many things on this list; apartment cleaning that has been put off, calligraphy practice I want to do, watercolor play I haven’t taken time for, doing some low carb meal casseroles and snacks to have on hand, reading, praying; tend Tom’s surgery healing and my own sore body from a fall;  sending valentines to my beloveds; there is more. I just think of them right now because I didn’t write them down. They are in my head.

But the thing is, there are too many and I am too slow. I cant’ whisk through them. I must go slow; I must embrace slow. And I received my lesson from Abbess Christine when I opened my email. I have joined her tribe of contemplatives and journey-makers and art lovers many years ago. She lives in Galway, Ireland and it would be a great blessing if I could fulfill a burning desire to visit her there one day. We are bonded together by membership in the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks.

Another tribe I belong to is Cat Carecelo’s Wisdom Gatherers through Collage and Process Art. We journeyed to find the Divine Spark within us. And that spark has led to the writing of a book, I have long yearned to write, with an image guide found within my 2017 art process.

 

Tom and I will spend this rainy day inside today. I will cross each of us on our foreheads with soothing moisture cream and essential oil…meant for the living…and we will live this day, in slowness, reflection and gratitude for the life and partnership given each of us on what has been a grace-filled long road of love and family, and tasks and missions well-done.

To Do List things will get done. This Lent, I will be mindful of embracing a spirituality of slowness and being ok with that.

Guest blog and photo below from Christine Valters Paintner.

 

Dearest monks and artists,
Modern life seems to move at full speed and many of us can hardly catch our breath between the demands of earning a living, nurturing family and friendships, and the hundreds of small daily details like paying our bills, cleaning, grocery shopping. More and more we feel stretched thin by commitments and lament our busyness, but without a clear sense of the alternative.

There is no space left to consider other options and the idea of heading off on a retreat to ponder new possibilities may be beyond our reach. But there are opportunities for breathing spaces within our days. The monastic tradition invites us into the practice of stopping one thing before beginning another. It is the acknowledgment that in the space of transition and threshold is a sacred dimension, a holy pause full of possibility.

What might it be like to allow just a ten-minute window to sit in silence between appointments? Or after finishing a phone call or checking your email to take just five long, slow, deep breaths before pushing on to the next thing?

 

Chi

 

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There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. 

Rainer Maria Rilke
Letters to a Young Poet. 

 

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I haven’t been able to post new photographs here, so son-in-law Carl, looked into it and seems my seven years of blogging has cramped the space and a new enhancement is needed. I have done that and am now on experimentation ground.

Well, my first photo surely uploaded quickly. Off to a new start.

I have been having some fun playing with art lately. I was so happy to travel to artisan village Berea and take two classes in Asian art that I will follow up on with small group meetings with others who find this type of art appealing and serene.  In the tradition of the Japanese, copying from the Masters is the way of perfection.

Then I also jumped into a week-long kids art class from Carla Sonheim on-line and this has been so joyful. One project a day and so many creations are put up on the Class Facebook page. I would take the class just to be able to see the other paintings (like me, there are some “little-big” kids in the class.)

We have played with Blobs, and blob creatures, rabbits, a Chagall Merry-go-Round with horses and a Picasso cat. How fun, how fun, how fun.

Selections from the class:

 

 

 

One more project left for tomorrow but I think the blobs shall never stop appearing to me and needing to be made into animate objects.

Next week, I return to regular scheduled and steady writing on my book. During the lapse of writing, much has come to me that is going into the writing, so I am grateful for that. I am pretty sure the cover image is changing to the second of my two choices AND I have a top talented graphic artist who will work with my cover design for me which will be M A G N I F I C E N T.

I continue to get great response to the title of the book, as I talk about it more frequently than I have in the past:

“Being Faithful To The Quiet”
Finding the Peace that Frees Your Soul

I don’t know where to find my new tools. I will have to explore some more. But the photos are working nicely again.

 

 

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Displaying IMG_20170503_144600425.jpg

I am warming up for my own words, so I will start with a few of the things getting me to them. I did my water color practice this morning and many other students finished up with well-represented fruit images of even impossible things like artichokes, but me, no I am still on apples and bananas. And I will revisit this to play with the smudgy shadow and add other colors into it and lift what I don’t like and a few other things and stay at it.

Two things keep me motivated. The young male instructor lives his passion for art by teaching all the art classes offered at the senior center, including drawing, mosaic, pottery, and more that I don’t know about. And the other thing is he said we are doing nudes in the final class next week.  I’m on board. But I don’t think he was serious.

Also, I am going to write another person’s words here and then just get on with my business of writing.

Writing Advice from Lydia Millet

https://booklife.com/create/writing/0/20/2015

Lydia Millet was a Pulitzer finalist for her book Love in Infant Monkeys, and Publisher’s Weekly called her novel Mermaids in Paradise “a thrilling piece of fabulist fiction.

These tips are aimed at bucking the limits imposed by time as well as mental space.   (I will fill in #5 and just list the others.

  1. Quantity before quality. Today is the day for production.  Put words on paper. Later, clarity can be achieved.

2.  Bore not thyself. That rain of sludge may not be your finest hour. Yes, you need to put words on the page, but to qualify for the page those words must always interest you.  Delete-delete-delete, all the way back to the very line where last you cared.

3. Suffer the fools gladly. And by fools, I just mean other people.

4. Prefer the new.  I try to write the story I wish to read. I am most inspired when I suspect that what precisely I have in mind to make does not already exist and this is the sole reason for the bother of its present creation. Your hand should be a hand that trembles to make the new.

5. Seek to be licked by holy fire. Of course, I use the terms “holy” and “fire” fairly loosely. One man’s holy is another woman’s sublime. If you’re doing creative work, that work should never feel trivial.  If you’re going to do a thing, do it fully, so that no writing you give the world misrepresents you — so that nothing you put out there is like a sad regift you couldn’t throw away and had to find a place for.

(and here’s the part I REALLY like!)

I advise, if you’re stymied by a passage or paragraph or plot point — whether it’s for an assignment from the outside world or one that comes only from within – get up from wherever you’re sitting, walk outdoors, and do nothing but look at the sky for five minutes. Just stare at that thing. Then execute a small bow and go back in.

You’re welcome from Napkinwriter.

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“It may not look like it, but I am writing now,” I said to Tom as I was folding a new batch of clean, fresh towels just taken from the dryer and still snuggly warm. He was watching me from his lounge chair as I completed the task on the top of our new spring bedspread.

I was heading for my writing room as soon as I completed this household task, something writers often do — put other “stuff” in front of creative time. Yet starting points were bubbling up within me for writer’s warm up, so that’s why I count it as writing.

The next part of my writing was sitting a spell with words by Michele Weldon, author of Writing to Save Your Life, about the quality of quiet in a writer’s life. Something that really attracts me, since I am writing a book titled, Being Faithful to the Quiet,  (subtitle, Finding the Silence that Soothes Your Soul). My book is a mix between memoir and mystery, a long-lived mystery that encircled my life like the ripples formed when a pebble is thrown into the water. And that pebble was thrown at my birth.  It is about the grace of the quiet and the pain lived out in  being silenced.

I relate to much of what she says in one very small section of a great book. Did you know that the genre of books on writing is only topped in numbers sold by the Christian Bible. So many writers write about writing!  Anyway, this is not a diversion, my reading about writing, is is part of my warmup practice to get into the quiet myself and begin writing. Hence, before I begin on searching my words and rhythm for my drafts of my book, I continue warm up with a short contribution to Napkinwriter. I am grateful to  the writing and readership of my five year Napkinwriter blog to keep me practiced in writing. It has spawned poems and memories I either did not know was there or thought I had forgotten. That’s the magic of the written word. So many creative journeys open up.

Weldon quotes Sarah Orne Jewett in a 1908 letter she wrote to Willa Cather,

“You must find your own quiet center of life and write from that to the world.” And she says these words hold true almost a century later. They do, for me. And from that quiet center of life, I also resolved mysteries and dilemmas in my life.  That is what I write about in my book because I continued to find practices of prayer and movement and contemplation, different types all through my life. They were gifts of grace to me. Saving grace, I would even say. And not all grace and prayer look like prayer, just like my folding towels didn’t look like writing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Change 6 overview

It’s a process! A little at a time. Some of the changes you can see. Some you cannot. Some of the inside changes are hidden away in my computer files, organizing and planning for upcoming projects.  Some inside changes are taking root in my heart and intention to complete long-awaited and dreamed of “children of my mind” before they become “orphans of my soul” as Anne Murray sang in one of her songs which did not make the pop charts.

Those on the outside are designed to create more light, space and inspiration in my room.  Also to rid myself of the papers and images that I can let go of to make room for the new. This is my plan. I already feel I am sitting in more light as I write this.

Change 4

Like the blank page I come to most days in my writing practice, I have cleared a surface for work and clear thinking. Also some “moodling” as Brenda Euland, author and teacher, calls it. That’s like daydreaming, which many of us have been discouraged from doing at an early age in the long-gone-by days.  Opening space for the little, unconnected to purpose thoughts that don’t seem to be on the highway to any “big idea.”

Change 2

Storing, but not putting out of sight my Reiki table, clearing the center space of the room and making it easy for set up when needed. Journals, that need harvesting reside on the bottom shelf, room for Soul Collage essentials on next shelf up, while many more materials are stored away in closet awaiting the next workshop or call to service.

My favorite “go-to” books on writing and spirituality and world evolution have designated positions within the bookcase shelves These are topped off by my $10 garage-sale buy world globe to keep my consciousness open to our world and current conditions. The two turn of the century 1999-2000 memorial white and gold plates refresh my consciousness that, indeed, my gift of life includes living through the time of the 1900’s into the years of 2000.  Fifteen of them so far which with a few more months of grace will include celebrating 50 years of marriage to my true soul-mate and life, service and love to my family of children, their spouses and our grandchildren. It’s been the best life I could ever have thought of.

Change 3

My prayer chair for reflection and my Reiki panels, and a long time framed picture, “He Shall Hear My Voice”, and surely He has over each of these past 72 years!

Change 5

My new altar for Spring, with my grandmother’s embroidered linen as altar cloth, the angels guarding me, St. Francis keeping me fresh to be a channel of peace daily in my life.   My Little Sue doll from Rosann, a treasured and loved gift from “the sister I never had”.

The mandala wall hanging is one I bought at one of the IWWG workshops I attended back in the 1990s, and this year it will serve as a permanent mandala design on which I will create my yearly Intentions Mandala.   My 2015 Intention Mandala is titled,  “I Am Living As Love”…..in my mind, my heart, my hands, my life, my world.

I have been creating these Intention Mandalas since working with Janet Conner. The focus of these mandalas in on the inner conditions we commit to live during the year.  What we hope to manifest gets listed on the circumference of the mandala…..these manifestations, large and small, have regularly showed up in my life since I’ve been making these and living by them and it is truly a huge act of faith and amazement.  I am so grateful to Janet, of Writing Down Your Soul that these mandalas are in my life, as well as my soul writing journals.

Change 7 Intention Mandala

Onward through my light-filtered room.

Change 8 to be dealt with

As I said, it’s a process. There is much left to be done…..a day or step at a time!

And then, there is this!

Change 9 - Behind closed doors

I am graced with Grandma Tanberg’s embroidery of the 1940s. She is the mother of my birth mother, who died within days of my birth. I had the great honor to know Grandma into my high school years.  She was my “huggy” grandma who giggled a lot and played with my brothers and cousin Diane whenever we were together.  She didn’t mind getting us in trouble either!

Change 10 - Grandma's embroidery

And when I approach the unwritten loose leaf page or the blank computer screen to be filled, I only have to remember these screensaver rules and I am off again.

writing rules

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