Home

Three in Italy

4 Comments

When I think of a trio, I think of the Three Stooges, the three blind mice, or Peter, Paul and Mary. My mind is a curious place. So there’s no telling how this post might have turned out. Fortunately, when I started browsing my photos in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, “Trio,” I found this beauty, which I think you will agree surpasses Larry, Moe, and Curly Joe.

Jesus statues

 

These gorgeous statues usually stand over the famous “Gates of Paradise” of the Saint John Baptistery in Florence, Italy, but when I took this photograph they were at an exhibit at the Duomo in the center of the city.

The figures depict the Baptism of Christ, and were created by Andrea Sansovino between 1501 and 1503. It must have broken his heart, but he wasn’t able to complete his commission, so Christ and John the Baptist were completed by Vincenzo Danti. The angel wasn’t completed until 1752 by Innocenzo Spinazzi.

Nice, huh?

Click on the Trio photo challenge link above and check out the stunning picture of three redrock formations in the Utah desert.

 

A Beautiful but Dangerous Frame of Mind

Leave a comment

I saw it yesterday, the very image you are requesting. Powerful is too tame a word for it; the whole world was transformed — dramatic and primal, beautiful and dangerous at the same time. 

Standing on my screened porch, which had seemed perfectly safe and sturdy until that moment, I watched the storm blow in. The trees were dead-still one minute and then whipping about the next, as if a wind-snake of monstrous proportions were writhing and whirling overhead. 

Quiet. Then chaotic. Then calm again. Then wild. Branches squealed and moaned. My skin tingled and my heart raced. 

“Don’t be silly,” I told myself, “you love storms.” 

Fear. Dread. Tornadoes. Falling trees. 

I weenied out and went inside. I clicked on Facebook, a safe and familiar refuge. The screen flashed a dozen photos — Check out this rainbow! Go outside NOW and see the rainbow! Double rainbow! Gorgeous sunset through the black clouds!

I looked out the window. Black as death. No sign of any other color. My friend texted from a pub three blocks away — “did u c the rainbow?” I looked out again — the black was turning charcoal grey, but I saw no rainbows. Thunder rumbled.

I clicked on a few random articles — gun rights and transgendered rights and women’s rights and civil rights — and then looked out the window again. The entire sky had turned a brilliant gold in a matter of minutes. I don’t mean that muddy yellow you see before a tornado, I mean an intense you-have-died-and-gone-to-heaven golden blaze.

The color you never see in the real world except in those landscapes from the Hudson River School painters like Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Cole, and Albert Bierstadt.

Bierstadt; Sierra Nevadas Wikipedia Commons

Bierstadt; Sierra Nevadas
Wikipedia Commons

As the gold faded and the sun reached the horizon, the sky turned pink, then scarlet, and then rich plum. And then the stars ventured out.

So, WordPress Daily Prompt, you want me to paint my current mood onto a canvas and tell you what the painting would look like? That was it. Yesterday’s storm. 

Black and grey and magnificent gold and radiant scarlet, changing moment by moment and sometimes all at the same time. Deep and primal; menacing, yet captivating. 

You know there’s a rainbow, but you can’t see it yet.

I know this canvas. This is my painting. This is grief, six months, two weeks, and two days after my brother’s passing.  

The Music of Life: A Poem and a Picture

8 Comments

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t consider myself a poet. I wouldn’t know an iambic if it bit me in the pentameter. Nevertheless, I do from time to time write things with funny line breaks. So here, for your reading pleasure, is one of those things.

First, here is the lovely painting that inspired it, “Morning Music Detail” by Rod MacIver at Heron Dance art studio.

Sing Life

Sad? Sing.

Sing despair, sing way deep.

Sing anger at Mystery;

Sing loud into Empty.

 

Afraid? Sing.

Sing lost, sing hollow.

Whistle, if that helps;

Whistle into  Alone.

 

Joyful? Sing. Sing!

Sing light, sing golden.

Sing honey into Our Oneness;

Sing laughter at Big Questions.

 

Confused? Might as well . . .

Sing high, sing low.

Sing “How should I know?”

 

Bored? Hum.

Hum monotone, if you must;

Still, hum.

Cool Stuff I Saw in the Woods

3 Comments

I wasn’t going to mention God in this post. I just wanted to share some cool pictures. Really. I know I’ve been doing a lot of God-posts lately, and I don’t want to alienate anyone. But what the hell.

God in the Woods

One of the main reasons I believe in God is because of the natural world. I came to know God outside in the woods, without any holy books or parental guidance or Sunday School teachers. When I see the damage “the church” did to many of my friends who grew up in the Christian tradition — all the healing and deconstruction of beliefs they’ve had to do — I’m very glad that I met God in nature before I ever cracked open a Bible or sat in a pew.

Still, there’s good stuff in that musty old black book. Here’s something that Paul, one of the first followers of Jesus, wrote in a letter to early Christians in Rome: “Ever since the creation of the world, God’s eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things God has made.”

(I know, I know, this brings up creation vs. evolution, which I humbly deem barely worth a parenthetical mention. God invented evolution. Why is this so hard?)

Paul’s not my fave biblical guy – his words have caused a lot of trouble. Being a human, he had his own issues to deal with, but even worse, his words are often taken out of their cultural context, and used as a weapon by people who are trying to make themselves the ultimate arbiter of truth. Used in this way, Paul’s words have done untold damage to women, gay people, marriages, and people who don’t call Jesus by name.

Rembrandt did a number of paintings of the Apostle Paul – this one’s my favorite.

But Paul’s words to the Romans ring true through the millennia.

“Ever since the creation of the world, God’s eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things God has made.”

Here is some divine artistry:

Mushrooms are Funny; Lichen are Awesome

Here’s a helpful tidbit from Wikianswers: “Why are mushrooms called mushrooms?” someone queries.

“Because that’s what they are called. That’s the way it’s meant to be. Mushrooms are funny.”

Thanks for that.

Frilly Fungus

Frilly Fungus

Solar Flares on Fungus

Solar Flares on Fungus

Totally LOVE lichen – the idea that algae and fungus at one point decided to get together to form one organism, a sort of co-organism, makes me happy. The alga brings chlorophyll to the relationship, so it does the photosynthesis thing and passes energy to the fungus; the fungus offers roots, which draw minerals and water from rocks and plants. Lichen can grow just about anywhere – from cooling lava to frozen rock and tundra.

Stunning Symbiosis

Stunning Symbiosis

Brown Frog, Red Moon

Here’s a frog. You can’t do photos of God’s fun creations without including a frog. Look how tiny he is in the leaves, and how perfectly camouflaged!

Camouflaged Critter

Camouflaged Critter

Here’s a blurry red moon that kind of looks like a Van Gogh if you squint your eyes. And no, it’s not the apocalypse – I messed with the color.

Red Moon
Red Moon

I Don’t Like Poetry, but I’ve Written Some

8 Comments

I recently went to a prose poetry workshop at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda. An oxymoron, right? I thought that prose and poetry were by definition different animals. Not anymore, not in the postmodern era when anyone gets to do whatever they want and call it whatever they want.

Prose poetry is basically poetic prose – regular ol’ writing with some of the elements of poetry, like rhythm and repetition and word imagery and  “compression,” which means getting rid of extra words. Obviously the latter is not something I’ve mastered. (Compressed that would read: I blather.)

I was excited to learn about this literary form; it changes the way I think about poetry and makes it more accessible.

I have never understood poetry and always wondered why writers can’t just say what they mean without getting all complicated and obtuse.

In recent years, I’ve come to appreciate poetry (or at least poets) through the Johns Hopkins Masters Writing program . . . but only the teensiest bit. I still have a problem with poetry, but at least I know it’s my problem, not the poet’s.

In fact, I want to be a poet. Then I could wear a beret, right?

Which is why prose poetry is good news for people like me. I love playing with words and sounds and flow and metaphor. Perhaps we non-poets can aspire to poetry?

Anyway, in celebration of doing whatever I want and calling it whatever I want (hey, in summer anything goes), I’m going to share these with you and call them poetry.

Planet Prose Poetry

Night Magic

A winking airplane is as magical as a firefly

If at first you think

it is a firefly.

Renewal

Where the trees stood,

Before the chainsaws came to kill,

Now raspberries and wildflowers grow

And deer come to eat.

Oh Well

The wells don’t dry up anymore,

And I can shower in August

Since the flooding began.

Climate change, they say.

Oh well.

I can shower in August.

Hello?

On the crest of the mountain

Grow two cell phone towers painted blue and green

To match the sky and trees.

How stupid

Do they think we are?

Thanks for humoring me. Poets among you — I would love your feedback in the comments!

Online Dating as a Creative Process

2 Comments

Reading about creativity is way easier than actually creating something, just as messing about on a dating website is way easier than going on a date.

Today I’ve been reading about art as process, rather than product; about how our consumer mindset cramps our creativity by asking questions like, “Where is this idea going?” or “How might this direction help my career?”

creativity

creativity (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee) Creative Commons

Fine questions for a certain time and place, but there’s a time in the creative process – the writing process, in my case – when you have to let your wild woman/man be in charge. No judge, no editor, just gut.

You can read a superb essay by Betty S. Flowers about this artistic process here.

Asking “What is this going to be?” might be asking for a creative block. It tells your curiosity and sense of fun that they are not welcome.

“When we focus on process, our creative life retains a sense of adventure,” says Julia Cameron. “Focused on product, the same creative life can feel foolish or barren.”

Foolish. Not to mention barren.

Sex or True Love?

Which brings me to online dating. If you read my last post, you will know that I have just entered this baffling world, after many moons of being happily single and date-free.

One of the questions on the site I’m using asks:

“Are you interested in A.) Sex or B.) True Love?”

That’s it? Those are my options? The “products” I’m allowed to choose from?

What about C.) Having Fun and D.) Enjoying Myself and E.) Trying New Things?

Daydreaming a Date

One person who commented on my last blog said I should make haste to meet anyone I might be interested in, lest I start daydreaming and create imaginary partners. Point well taken: I’m already doing the imaginary man thing. She warns against wasting time in case there’s no chemistry once prose becomes human voice and personality. She is a wise woman.

On the other hand, I have time. Perhaps there is a place for daydreaming, making stuff up, letting my wild woman romp around in my head for a while.

I think that for someone like me who has not focused on dating for an eternity, simply enjoying the process can be healthy. For instance, contemplating all this has led me to seriously consider what I’m looking for in a guy . . . to create that guy in my mind. This gives me an ideal to compare the “real thing” with, if and when I decide to meet one of those real things.

The Perfect Product

When I consider what I’m seeking, not one of my desires resembles a product or an end goal.

From my journal, I offer just a taste: “Someone to share perspectives with – to laugh together, be outraged together, wonder together, be grateful together, pray together . . . I want somebody to encourage me, to share my dreams for who I want to be and to support me getting there in a loving, ego-free way . . .”

All process, not product.

All journey, not destination.

My two-page list also hopes for someone creative and maybe a little quirky who will cherish and adore me and help me with projects around the house. Yes, I’m asking for a lot, but if I’m going to give up one iota of my freedom, it’s going to have to be for a VERY good reason.

The wish-list ends with a heartfelt prayer: “God save me from being bored.”

To be continued . . .

Creating Abundance

8 Comments

I was chatting with my neighbor Linda this morning about psychology, types of therapy, and what constitutes childhood trauma. You know, the usual over-the-back-fence conversations.

We agreed that there are two ways to view life, metaphysically speaking: as if the universe, or God, or whatever Higher Power might exist is good and benevolent, or as if She/He/It is vindictive and negative. Some folks simply expect good things, like the person who says (and actually believes) “everything will work out OK,” while others cycle between “It figures,” or “What do you expect?” or “Of course this would happen to me.”

You can see the physical manifestation of these mindsets in the lined faces of elderly people, can’t  you? Were their eyebrows often raised in wonder or expectation, their cheeks creased by smiles? Or were their mouths drawn down in discontent or bitterness?

Johnny

What’s Johnny’s mindset?

Family Flack

Our childhoods and the attitudes we absorbed from our families heavily influence which side of the dichotomy we occupy. If your father regularly dumped his obsessive financial angst on your little head, you might have grown up fearful, expecting the worst. If your older siblings railed at you, “What the hell is wrong with you??” whenever something happened to spill or break in your vicinity, you might have grown up believing that you are such a loser you don’t deserve anything good to happen to you anyway.

I have a friend who invariably remarks whenever I share anything good that’s come my way, “How come nothing like that ever happens to me?” His attitude sucks the joy out of his own life and out of our interactions.

Counting the Cost of Freedom

My point is this: we have choices in this matter. If we have learned an attitude of scarcity and a mistrust of fate as kids, we can decide to do the hard work of recovery as adults and unlearn the negative beliefs that make us unhappy.

Oh sure, there is some satisfaction in playing the victim or in anticipating scarcity and/or trouble. It feels good to say, “See? I knew it. I was right.” There’s a certain sense of control in that. And it’s familiar and comfortable.

One has to calculate the costs of abandoning negativity and the benefits of launching into the unknown realm of hope.

What we Nurture

One of the bugaboos that clings to me like a fat tick is my habit of nurturing dread. When things are going smoothly, my default is to wonder what’s going to go wrong.

“This can’t last – when’s the other shoe going to drop?” is a perfectly natural reaction for a person who grew up in an alcoholic family. Anything could and would happen.

And this is true in general. Good times will pass because change is the nature of life. Good times pass, but so do bad times. Happy times and sad times. Life is both/and.

It’s what you choose to focus on that creates your reality. Something awful might happen tomorrow, but why should I ruin today by thinking about it? I have better things to nurture.

Which brings me to creativity.

Creating Abundance

One of the reasons I enjoy reading fine literature is that I find the world of words and ideas to be infinitely expansive. That’s why I write, too. When I’m in the zone, my tiny mind is released from all constraints, and I expect magic. It might not *read* like magic, but it *feels* like magic.

Creating and experiencing art gives me a sense of open, boundless freedom through which I can connect to others.

My neighbor Linda is sitting on her patio picking out a new song on the guitar. She plucks and sings, then picks up her pen and writes. I’m sitting on my porch, writing this blog. The fact that Linda is exhibiting her creativity doesn’t mean that there’s less for me. In fact, there’s a symbiosis going on. Her guitar is providing a soundtrack for my morning and bringing back memories loaded with creative potential; she asks if I can help her with lyrics.

Inside a human head and heart there exists a reality of limitless abundance and possibility waiting to be unleashed, no matter what’s going on in day-to-day reality. When you open to this creative spirit, whether its visual arts, music, or writing, you are saying you believe in abundance. You believe there is more than enough.

And it is all good.

Julia Cameron writes in her book, The Artist’s Way Every Day: A Year of Creative Living:

“Because art is born in expansion, in a belief in sufficient supply, it is critical that we (artists) pamper ourselves for the sense of abundance that it brings to us.”

She says that creative blocks usually come from our attitudes. “The actual block is our feeling of constriction, our sense of powerlessness. Art requires us to empower ourselves with choice. At the most basic level, this means choosing to do self-care.”

I like people who tell me to pamper myself. I’m thinking I might go see a movie instead of cleaning my dining room. For the sake of creativity, of course.

Make Something Good!

I hope that you get a chance to do something fun and creative this summer. If you don’t think of yourself as the creative type, I call B.S. You were creative when you were a little kid, and you can recapture it. It’s all in the attitude.

Give yourself permission to believe something different.

Finger paint.

Write a poem or a children’s story.

Build an awesome sand castle.

Make some quality mud pies with your kid.

Experience the abundance that’s bottled up inside you.

Happy summer!

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: