The Power of Practice

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” 
― Aristotle

256px-you_are_here_-_street_signLearning can be a clunky experience.  It can be humbling and gratifying at the same time.  But…A little bit every day amounts to a lot every week.  If you have the habit of listening to a little voice in your head that says “You’ll never be good enough,” kindly ask that voice that you are not interested in their opinion and to go find somebody else’s head to occupy.  Then keep on keeping on.

I have realized rather late in life that I have the power to kick out the demons out of my head that have come calling to sabotage my self-esteem.  I show them the door. Then I invite the angels that flit about my head to come in for more pleasant conversation.  “Way to go!  Good work!  Such improvement! Encouragement is far more powerful than self-criticism.  Honestly, we creative types would never talk to others like we can talk to our own sweet selves

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

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Set the timer and show up for 20 minutes at a pop.

img_1861Guitar- yes I can finally play that F chord on my tenor guitar as with many others and even sing some songs.  I thought I’d never get there.

Yes, there are paintings in my class that are better than mine but I am on my way. img_1858

Writing.  After 20 minutes here and there over months, my memoir piece is finally almost done.

I am learning that there is no such thing as there.  You are never there because there is a moving target.  There is where you are right now on a journey celebrating milestones along the way.

Enjoy the ride.  Really, that’s what it’s all about.

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On my kitchen bulletin board

 

 

 

The Nuthatch Society

Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.

James Cash Penney

nuthatch-915435_1920Last year during the local Terroir Creative Writing Festival I found that there were four of us in our rural proximity that shared a love of writing and poetry. We are all novices on a path to discovery.  Why not get together now and again?

Last October we did just that.  The first meeting took place on a Sunday afternoon at Patricia’s lovely greenhouse. We sat at a table nibbling a delicious homemade coffee cake and sipping tea while a tangle of tomatoes and other vegetables seemingly were our audience. Then we rotated to Linda’s, my farmhouse and next month it is Deb’s turn.

A sort of agenda has emerged.  The person hosting leads off with something they’ve read that they would like to share and then some of their personal writing.  I am working on a memoir piece.  The last two meetings I have read parts of it.  We discuss and offer feedback on pieces if requested and then take turns.  We all adore Mary Oliver. At her recent passing, there has been much to share.

At our last meeting, we suggested all purchasing Oliver’s book “A Poetry Handbook” as a tea-time-2resource that we all have in common.  For writing challenge we have suggested finding a poem we like, using it as a “pattern” and then writing a new poem with our own words to share.  With all of our so-called assignments we put in the qualifier “or not.”  There is no pressure here, just pleasure.

Since I have a penchant for naming things, the name “The Nuthatch Society” came into my mind for our group.  The four of us live on rural property and we are quite familiar with these quirky little birds that frequent the foliage and feeders about our homes.  They are busy creatures, quite chatty, cute, but fierce and have the ability to walk upside down on trees.  The name seemed to fit with us.

There is value in online community but it cannot compare with four souls coming together to share a common interest over tea.  I’m so looking forward to the next meeting of the Nuthatch Society and sharing my writing and all the fascinating things I’ve read this month as well as what my fellow Nuthatches have been up to in their busy lives.  Community is a powerful thing- no matter how small.

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Her Wild and Precious Life

mary-oliver-by-don-usner-200x200_bwMary Oliver, the great poet is now no more in physical form on this earth as of January 17,2019. She leaves a huge void but in her wake is a monument of poetry and prose of her making. I never used to care for poetry. Poetry was presented to me in school like nematodes to be dissected in biology. I ran from them Then years later her poem, “Wild Geese” brought me to my knees. I was converted. Years later I am writing poetry. What power words can have!

Mary Oliver was a sage who connected the dots with spirituality and the natural world.  The long walks she often took in the woods near her home provided much of the inspiration for her poetry.  Those poems became the vessels of profound observations, questions, and ponderings and blessed the lives of many, including myself. She did far more than just visit this world.  It is a better place because of her.

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print by the author

 

You are gone now

but still, I dwell in your forest of poems

and sit by the streams of your verse

finding sanctuary

May you rest in peace

Mary Oliver.

Continue reading “Her Wild and Precious Life”

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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