The Art of Wabi-Sabi

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I recently became acquainted with this word through my online “Year of Painting class.” Alena Hennesy, the instructor uses this word frequently as she illustrates her process of intuitive painting on her videos.  Wabi-sabi in short means “perfectly imperfect” Let go, let the process unfold.

I tend towards the perfectionism.  As I watched the warm-up video and then looked at other’s work being posted I was paralyzed with fear.  This process was way out of my comfort zone- but part of the reason for taking this class was to loosen up.

I started my first piece resisting the urge to recycle my first attempt mid-way and start over. Eventually, I worked through my fear, completed and accepted it.  The piece is too bright and busy for my tastes, but others found it pleasing.  It can only get easier after taking the first step.   I started a small, scary journey and finished, perfectly imperfect.

Wabi-sabi, another of my words for the New Year.

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The Art of Streaming Nature

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Yesterday I was doing my home exercise routine when my zippy Irish music was interrupted on Spotify by one of their ads (I’m too cheap to buy a $ 120-year ad-free subscription).  It was an extra-long commercial about Spotify Premium and the many reasons I should upgrade.  The last one was something like this “Never be without the music you love!  Stream anywhere, even when you are offline!” This got me to thinking why we always need content streaming in our ears?  Have we lost the value of quiet?

img_1744Workout routine done (don’t be too impressed, I don’t work that hard) I changed my clothes and headed out the door with my 13-year-old Golden Retriever for a ramble. We drove to the Benedictine Abbey less than 10 minutes away for a walk in the woods.  They have a series of trails that they allow the public access to.

Car parked we headed off.  It was a relief to be out of the house and in the fresh air, sweet with the scent of coming rain.  We headed uphill on a muddy trail, thick with woods, mosses, ferns, and lichens. The calls of hidden birds surrounded us as Dougie and I made our way up by a gurgling stream with miniature waterfalls.  By gosh I was streaming a real stream! An unlimited sensory experience brought to you by NATURE!

Imagine what I would have missed if I had earbuds in.  I think about the students in high img_1749schools I sub in.  They are constantly with their earbuds, listening to music, watching videos, checking social media.  What about the sounds of birds and the ruminations of their own thoughts? I’m sad for them.

It was a lovely walk. I spent a lot of time observing and looking for ideas to include in my paintings in my new online painting class.  You might see some things from my photographs in my coming artwork….

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I wrote this poem last year while I was subbing at a local high school

Continue reading “The Art of Streaming Nature”

Pausing for Poetry


Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. 


Robert Frost

New Year’s Eve I brought some poetry to a gathering to share.  The hostess, a dear friend said “this group won’t go for that” but I  read them anyway after the game we played.  One poem was one I wrote myself, a funny one about aging.  The other two were by Mary Oliver, my favorite poet, and appropriate for the New Year.  I hope they were enjoyed.

Poetry makes one sit and pause as the words are distilled down to the essence of experience.  It slows us down and makes us notice and savor the nuances of language.  I think it’s sad that pausing is going out of fashion these days. I think that if everyone paused and read some poetry daily, this world would be a saner place.

Until a few months back I was writing poetry if- even one line- before I got out of bed in the morning.  Before I went to bed I read some poetry. My days began and ended with a sense of groundedness.

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I miss my morning poetry write and my bedtime poetry ritual that I began a couple of years ago.  Habits sneak away sometimes but I want this one back.  The little pink leather journal embossed with an oak tree is now filled up.  Maybe that’s why I stopped writing- but journals are easily purchased.  That task is now on the list for next week.

If you are new to poetry, no worries.  My poetry habit started a couple years back when I,  a non-English major, noticed I was more likely to write in my journal in poetic form.  Then I started seeking out poetry that I enjoyed. (It’s a wonderful antidote to the news) If you have trouble pausing, noticing, or pondering, pick up a poetry book by Mary Oliver. She will get you out wandering in nature in the comfort of your own home. Devotions her latest anthology is wonderful.  Here is a video clip of her reading…

And here is a poem that I wrote about poetry……..

Begin the Day With a Poem

let the lines of beauty

spin a warm cocoon about you

Revel in its warmth

and the protection it offers

from the harshness of this world

Drink in the loveliness

of pure imagery

and let the words

light candles in the darkness

marking a clear path before you

into the garden of hope.

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And the Word is…..

bert-lahr-516812_1920The New Year is always full of good intentions.  I just began my online class “A Year of Painting” taught by Alena Hennesy. Alena asked all of us to pick one word to be a focus on for the year.  Among the many words posted were “healing, mindful, yes, grow, magical, allow.” It took me days to come up with mine, “COURAGE,” a perfect word for where I’m at.

I’m going to keep this word as my mantra to remind myself to be courageous in my writing, blogging, music, travel, my art, my heart,  and all the things I intend to do this year.

I don’t consider myself a painter so I am out of my comfort zone.  It will be interesting how I progress through this class  I will share my journey on this blog knowing that showing vulnerability is also a sign of courage.

What is your word for the year??

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