Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Word For 2016

Welcome To My Year Of Mindfulness

The year is almost over and I am so very happy with what I have learned from choosing the word mindful as my guidepost for 2016. I mapped out the year in January and mostly stayed with the subjects I picked. I have a word in mind for 2017 and will tell about it next Wednesday. 





 The word "mindful" chose me this year. On December 15, I almost caused an accident. After processing what didn't really happen, but could have, I wandered into a Barnes and Noble bookstore and found this magazine staring me in the face. 



It was issuing me an invitation. Won't you consider becoming more aware? Would you like to learn more single-tasking? Could you benefit from seeing, hearing and feeling more? Hello?

  
 I knew. This is the year I learn to be more mindful. 


Would you like to learn to be more mindful, too? I'll share! Check back on this page every Mindful Monday to see more posts all throughout the year. Look for the mindfulness image along the side bar to come back here. I'll start by asking 12 questions about my own need to be more mindful.

1- January-Do I pay attention to what I'm eating?

2- February-Can I stay focused on one task at a time?


3- March- Is my breath full and steady?

4. April- Am I mindful about how I talk to myself?

5. May- Am I a good listener?


6. June- Am I mindful in my relationship to God?


7. July- Am I mindful of my spirit essence?

8. August- Do I see and hear my husband?


9. Do I seize the moment?

10. Do I love the place I live?




11. Do I feel gratitude?


12. Is my center on Jesus Christ?



                                                            Mindful by Mary Oliver
Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less
kills me
with delight, 
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen, 
to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy, 
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional, 
the fearful, the dreadful, 
the very extravagant - 
but of the ordinary, 
the common, the very drab, 
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar, 
I say to myself, 
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light
of the world, 
the ocean's shine, 
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Books I Enjoyed During 2015

                   Books I Enjoyed During 2015

 I try to read at least one book a month. If a book is not catching my interest I will abandon it. Later it may be easier to read, or not. Some books change my life and some entertain me. Some leave me wanting more and others leave me uneasy. Here are a few that seem to be important from 2015.

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

  I feel strongly about this book. When I read it, listen to it, and art journal the main principles it is a five star book. I used it as my 31 Day In October subject on my blog. Click here to see an overview of my writing.
    “The opposite of recognizing that we’re feeling something is denying our emotions. The opposite of being curious is disengaging. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.” 




Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

   This book is a boost to my creative life. I found myself reading passages before facing an empty canvas. 

“You're not required to save the world with your creativity. Your art not only doesn't have to be original, in other words, it also doesn't have to be important. For example, whenever anyone tells me that they want to write a book in order to help other people I always think 'Oh, please don't. Please don't try to help me.' I mean it's very kind of you to help people, but please don't make it your sole creative motive because we will feel the weight of your heavy intention, and it will put a strain upon our souls.” 
― 
Elizabeth GilbertBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear


The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

   This is the tenth in a series about Gamache, a Chief Inspector of the Sureté de Quebec. The characters are rich and so well developed. I look forward to each new release.

“After spending most of her life scanning the horizon for slights and threats, genuine and imagined, she knew the real threat to her happiness came not from the dot in the distance, but from looking for it. Expecting it. Waiting for it. And in some cases, creating it. Her father had jokingly accused her of living in the wreckage of her future. Until one day she’d looked deep into his eyes and saw he wasn’t joking. He was warning her.” 
― 
Louise PennyThe Long Way Home


A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear
    I so adore the stories of Maisie Dobbs. Set in the World War I era in England, each book reveals mystery and growth for Maisie. I have loved them all.  

“Sometimes she thought she could see that good heart beating, and realized that more often now she looked for goodness in a person, sought it out and found it comforting.” 
― 
Jacqueline WinspearA Dangerous Place


On Being A Writer by Krocker and Craig
    We used this book as a syllabus for writing together on Kate Montaung's blog in August and September. It remains a resource for me as I continue to write.
     
 "Writing requires a flow both inward and outward of ideas, thoughts, and stories."
               On Being A Writer, Kroeker and Craig


Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay

        This one is just fun. 

“How can I not believe that there is a God who exists and loves, when the people before me are infused with that love and pour it out daily?” 
― 
Katherine ReayDear Mr. Knightley

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

   A period book with fascinating characters and a plot that leaves you waiting.

“Fear is worse than pain, I think. Pain is centralized, identifiable, and wanes as you wait. Fear is a heaviness you can’t wriggle out from under. You must simply find the will to stand with it and start walking. Fear does not start to fade until you take the step that you think you can’t.” 
― 
Susan MeissnerSecrets of a Charmed Life


Happiness For Beginners by Katherine Center

    This book was a modern tale of finding where the bavery lies in a young women's life. The main character goes on a survival trek to prove to herself that she has grit. 

“Well, for example, happy people are more likely to register joy than unhappy people. So if you take two people who have experienced a day of, say, fifty percent good things and fifty percent bad things, an unhappy person would remember more of the bad.” 

The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander

I am almost finished with this memoir from a famous black poet. She writes with just insight and emotional strength about her husband, who passed away suddenly and left her bereft. The language is breathtaking.

“The story seems to begin with catastrophe but in fact began earlier and is not a tragedy but rather a love story. Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of love, which confers meaning to loss. Loss is not felt in the absence of love.” 
 Elizabeth AlexanderThe Light of the World: A Memoir

The Book of Mormon translated by Joseph Smith Jr.

I cannot fail to mention the book which I read every year. If I read it, listen to it,  pray about it, and art journal it, it is my number one five star book.

“I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.” 



                                 I hope to read at least twelve more in 2016.

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 Favorite Blog Posts

Today I join with the Five Minute Friday Writers today to share favorite blog posts. 

I want to share some impacting posts from bloggers who have a large following and from bloggers who may only be known to a few. 
The first is a post about reading, by Steve Curry , and it's vitality accompanied with pictures from all over the world. I love his photography and this subject made my heart delight.



Diane Schuller is another photographer I love. She is a warm, interesting person who lives in Canada. In this post she includes a video about murmuration, a phenomenon associated with birds and the way they travel. I watched it over an over.



I follow many artists and this year I loved the posts of Susan Branch. I love how she makes me feel about life. Her watercolors influence my weak attempts to illustrate.


Veronica Funk, another Canadian blogger, is an exquisite artist. Her canoes and tipis influence my art. In this post she shared a tour of her studio. Don't you just love to peek into an artist's private space?



    In October I joined the challenge to write for 31 Days and discovered a wonderful writer named Carly Benson. Her subject was difficult and she wrote with such grace and faith. I cherished reading her posts everyday.


I could share so many good posts and I have limited myself to just a few. Jennifer Farnes is a writer, published in Bella Grace Magazine, who I love reading. She is also my friend and I can tell you that she is who she presents herself to be. She gifted me the word Ribbistrate this year by sharing it with me and encouraging me to pay more attention to the magic of words. Here is her blog post about words that I loved.


   My favorite adventure in blogging just came to an end. I decided to blog for 24 days about my Savior Jesus Christ. I explored his title and names and came away with a stronger love for him. I include the first post as an example of the whole blogging banquet.

             Happy blogging into 2016! For me it has been five years of growing and learning. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Goodbye Ribbistrate

        "Please, I want everyone to stand up and ribbistrate!"

    We watched as she threw her arms into the air and jumped with joy. I was all in and I did my best to follow her lead. Rip-a straight? Did I hear her right? I could tell by her body language what it meant but I had never heard the word before. I asked others what they heard. No one knew how to say it or how to spell it. I was intrigued. I looked it up. Dead end.
I googled it. Dead end. 



Finally, I e-mailed her and asked. It wasn't a word in the dictionary. She had made it up with a friend. It expressed the deepest show of joy she could muster; full body involvement. I needed that sort of joy in my life. Ribbistrate would become my word in 2015. Projects such as making my own definition, photographing others expressing that kind of joy, and writing about my own adoption of that feeling kept my word alive throughout the year. Colleen Atara made the word in black plastic for me. It appeared in many pictures and had a prominent place on my mantle.  



A few days before the end of the year I went to visit my friend. We sat together in her magically decorated house and had lunch. Between the pear sandwiches and the gingerbread I presented her with my black plastic word. She had given it to me and I had used it well and I believe wisely. There is another word coming in 2016. Already it hangs on my mantle. It will require a different focus. 

" You gifted me a special word and I lived it for one year."

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Jesus

" And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS."
                                                   Luke 1:31


     The New Testament was written in Greek, and the name "Jesus" means the same in Greek as the Hebrew name "Joshua". "Joshua" means literally God is salvation. He means that to me. For me personally he has saved me from the guilt of my personal failings, from the things I yet lack in character, from despair and judgement, and from feelings of worthlessness. Writing a little bit about Him everyday has made December a refuge from outward expectations. I desire to build more trust in him and improve my commitment to him so that I am a more faithful disciple.

                                  Merry Christmas

  There are 24 names or titles of Christ that I would like to come to understand better this season. For 24 days I will explore one of his names everyday. Click here to refer back to days past.




Friday, November 27, 2015

Table

"Let Us Gather At The Table, and Bow In Family Prayer. To Thank Our Heavenly Father For The Blessings We All Share."


  The table is an icon of thanksgiving, fellowship, discussion, and prayer. My table has been large, small, lonely, and bursting with activity.  It has been the prop around which change has been introduced and formulated. We gathered around the table to tell my parents we were getting married. Plans to move were announced emotionally to the children around the table. New members of the clan have been introduced there. I have sat relaxed and well satisfied, tense and anguishing, and so excited that I was bursting. All different times and all different circumstances. 
   Jesus gathered with others around a table. He cryptically announced change and betrayal around the table. A table is just more intimate. 


   Luke 22:19 "And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."

Had I been at that table I would have felt my heart beat a little faster. I would have  wondered what the new testament was. I would have remembered the smell of the room, the dishes in front of me and the look in his eyes. I would have remembered.
And, yet I come to a similar table every sabbath day. I come to remember how he gave his body and shed his blood. I come to promise to keep his commandments. I have promised before but I come to promise again so that I might partake of the gift of having his spirit to be with me at all tables, in all circumstances, and in all my interchanges with others.

I come to remember.


  I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully make sense.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks

   I am very thankful for seeing the beautiful in life, the little magic moments of unsolicited peace. There is much doing, seeking, and desiring in my life. Whenever something comes without manipulation or control I truly am grateful.


    I witnessed my older daughter texting her niece about what they should do tomorrow at Thanksgiving dinner. Wow! I don't have to bring them together and create activities so that they will feel connected to each other. It happened without me. Sigh! In fact I see my role in life becoming more and more witness rather than a participant. That used to scare me. If people do not look to me to get things done what role will I have?

                              I will be rooting for their rise.

                          Get This free image at Autumn Hathaway" blog.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Shh, Don't Tell Them

Shh, Georgie, don't tell them. Remember how we figured out how to move the fireplace grate? You pried open the corner over and over again and Mama held it shut. You cried and got her to carry you around while I crawled over and had free access while she wasn't looking. 


     I appreciate your assistance showing me how to pull the crib blankets through the slats. While Mama picked up yours I managed to get mine out right behind her. We are a good team, except when you use my head as a nail. I developed my rear foot move to propel you out of the way before the kitchen pot lands on my head, again. I am trying to forgive you for that. And for stealing my favorite shaker. Oh, and one more thing. I hate that you came out first. I will always be the youngest. That stinks.


  However, I will always be the cutest. You betcha, that's me.

This post is part of a series entitled, "Pictures and Paragraphs". A little bit of fiction writing to enhance a favorite image or painting.
 See an index of these posts here.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Dwell

 To dwell with someone or with something has interesting stages. Here I would like to compare my dwelling with my newest painting to dwelling with the Holy Ghost. Both have been companions of mine for some time recently.
 The companionship of the Holy Ghost is ever so most more important than my painting but I see similarities that draw me in.

Curiosity

What does the spirit need to teach me? What colors and shapes will emerge on the new canvas.


Commitment

There are many layers that need to be patiently anticipated. The outcome is not the main objective. Commitment to the process is required.


Detail

When I listen well I get amazing smaller vignettes of detail.


Openness

If I open myself to variety I hear more subtle shades and textures.


Depth

Sometimes the spirit shows you how to go around the edges.


Full Engagement

When you hear and obey the composition comes together and you literally rejoice every time you spend time together.



         I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully make sense.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Music Mends Minds

   Amy appeared at my door one day to ask me to participate in a new group forming in our community.  She needed musicians to help with bringing music participation to individuals coping with dementia, Alzheimers disease, and Parkinson's disease. She explained how playing an instrument affects the brain. I was intrigued and agreed to come see how things worked. I might have said no, considering my busy schedule, but I wanted to check out the idea of creating a band of amateur musicians. The organization Music Mends Minds had a very interesting website.

I learned that when dealing with memory loss music reaches past memory to a deeper place





The sensory experience of music binds with memory in the brain and makes it more powerful. 

Here are some things expressed by those who are suffering from memory loss and their caregivers.

You need to be around people
Playing music together offers a sense of freedom
Having something to do that is valuable and important
Cognition improves when playing music with others
Playing music lowers depression
Playing music raises energy
Playing an instrument requires muscle memory in the brain and is not impacted by dementia
Music is like another language

   At first as I involved myself with this group I had to deal with my own sadness. I met with people who I had known before their decline into memory loss. It was hard for me to "look loss in the face". Really, the weeks of holding back was about my own unwillingness to see my mortality. At some point I felt the impression to look at how I could contribute better. I started observing more and pulling away less. I saw how some people waited, while others chatted and did business. The idea came to me to play music at the piano, right away. I also observed the impact of rhythm and suggested a play along with simple instruments. That provided more of the idea of being in a band. In our group, very few really played an instrument. Everyone liked playing along with something that made sound. We are young still and I am eager to see how we progress. I hope I can help create moments of rest and relaxation for anxious minds. These words by a caregiver resonated with me.

"What radiates on the faces of the band and the audience is a sense of this moment of contentment that has nothing to do with suffering and all about the rewards of taking the risk to show up. They've paid their dues and now have a free lifetime membership to the sanctuary of the heart." 

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Farm Wedding

  Leroy slowly backed his truck into the driveway. His hand grasped the stick shift knob tightly. He looked over the yard at the white tent in the cow pasture. What a day for a wedding. One hundred percent chance of rain, and yet the white wooden chairs were being set up in little rows on top of fresh straw.  The rivulets ran down the windshield distorting the blue farm house and the white wedding venue. They would need more than two bales of hay to keep the pathways dry.



    Bethany and Joe were the newest couple to own this small farm nestled in the valley between the knolls that dotted the landscape. Leroy could remember all the other couples that started their life here. Well, at least six. Their dreams peeked through the fading paint on barns and out buildings. Some had pigs, some cows, and one brought horses to the farm. All of them dreamed in technicolor and all moved on to bigger, hopefully better things. He loved this country road and regretted not one season of his life with Betty here. He felt a sudden happy satisfaction to know his new neighbors and to be helping them so early on.  Good neighbors were a comfort. Now that his kids were raised and gone he needed some new inspiration. Leroy still woke up every morning ready to breathe the fresh air. He hoped there would be children running in the pasture where now the heavy clouds moved out, replaced by lighter, thinner white puffs. The wedding might have a dry spell after all.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue; he brought the borrowed and he was the old, and he liked knowing that they offered something new.

This is a post that is part of a series entitled, "Pictures and Paragraphs". See an index of these posts here.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Weary

   The kitchen was like a rumbling tornado. Steam spewed out of kettles over the fire. Their contents exploded droplets of gravy, brown and thick. Building to crescendo, the last steps to bringing the meal for twenty to the table were almost over. 


Acrylic on board by Marcus Fellbaum

    In the epicenter of the tumult, Susannah bowed her head. A great calm fell over her shoulders like a cloak. Her breathing slowed.  Her mind rested on a distant scene, on a hill where thousands came to be fed. She searched for the source of the miracle. Up the hill amongst the crowd sat "the one". Her heart settled next to him, leaning on his strength. A long sigh escaped her lips.


This is a post that is part of a series entitled, "Pictures and Paragraphs". See an index of these posts here.



I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully make sense.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Piano Lesson

    " Can you start at the top and this time count out loud?"
      Betsey's hands were tight, muscles flexed with too much tension. I gently put my arm around her back to give support. Eyes focused with intent, she was working with every faculty on alert. My hand readied to turn the page. The next sixteen bars were pure joy. 


Reproduction of a Renior by Joan Kutcher

 I listened, a smile escaping from my zealous countenance. Betsey was finally playing freely. The melody soared above the murmuring baseline. I was relieved and full of pleasure at her success. Her father, the Count, would be put in his place. I disliked his constant criticism when it came to his children. He had employed me to teach Betsey and Stewart and each of them had talent. They were just too afraid of him to see themselves as able. 


   Was I putting myself above my station to want to prove him wrong?

This is a post that is part of a series entitled, "Pictures and Paragraphs". See an index of these posts here.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hold On But Let Go

  Penny glanced over at the counter. Her tea was getting cold. No steam circled around the blue enamel edge. Flecks of light danced off the copper tea pot beckoning her to lighten her tone, lighten her heart. The paper in front of her was blurry as she scanned the lines of her electric bill. She pushed it away and picked up a letter to her mother. Penny liked writing real letters but this morning her writing seemed to be getting as cold as the tea in her cup.   


Oil on board by Karen Dale

    Still, with all the dullness inside, the light from the window sparkled. She stretched her legs moving the tight joints. "Go outside!' How could she take a walk when there was so much to do, so many things to fix? She reached for the orange segment. Juice escaped in rivelets down her chin. Brushing away the moisture a long breath escaped from throat. 

                   Perhaps she could let go, just this morning.  


This is a post that is part of a series entitled, "Pictures and Paragraphs". See an index of these posts here.