Press On

Decades ago I longed to be a member of the Connecticut Press Club. Life and work responsibilities got in the way of me applying for membership plus I didn’t feel good enough. Over the years I worked in marketing and communications, health and wellness, academia, and I wrote, I taught, I created, exhibited, and sold my fine artwork. I started a family and helped raise a wonderful child. I created and co-authored a writers’ blog for a local library. My blog posts offered encouragement, followed my own process of starting a writer’s website, how to build an author’s platform online, and how to feel joy in the act of creativity.

I followed my own advice and as best I could kept my professional online presence current. The membership application didn’t come up on my radar often as I led a popular bi-weekly creative writing group for six years and had my poems and non-fiction essays published in journals, anthologies, and books.

Last year, I was a storyteller for the international visual storytelling experience PechaKucha Night Bridgeport, and this year I am a contributing author in a commercially published book. Still, I didn’t feel I was worthy of submitting for membership in the Connecticut Press Club.

Last month, however, I thought I had enough under my belt as a writer to apply for membership, I did. The organization was reworking its online application form so I contacted the organization directly about how I might apply. To my delight, I heard back that the organization read my bio on my website and I “was all set.” I’m happy to report this story has a happy ending.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Just keep doing what your heart calls you to do.

Opening Space for New Creative Projects

Linda’s Sun at Dusk by (c) Adair Heitmann 2022

Today I’m clearing out old paper and digital files to make room for exciting original literary and artistic endeavors to come. I’ve recently been following Ingrid Fetell Lee and her “Aesthetics of Joy.” If you don’t know of her work I highly recommend checking out her TED talk and following her on social media.

She gave a suggestion in her recent blog about not saving so many good ideas. What? I’ve been putting notions and quotes in file folders for years. When I had a bright idea or if someone inspired me but I didn’t have a chance in the moment to act on it, I’d store it away for a later day. Or, I’ve taken to heart the writing adage “Always jot down your ideas when they come so you can use them later.” Well, uummmm, I’ve been doing this for decades and quite frankly I’ve run out of space. Ingrid suggests acting on them in the present, hence my writing this blog today.

Just now I found a really good quote hidden in a folder I’d been holding onto for 12 years. I kept it because it profoundly touched me. I pondered, “What can I do with it right now?” Then, an idea dropped into my consciousness. Yesterday, I took an in-the-moment, unedited photograph of a split second end-of-the-day visual with sunlight streaming through stained glass then reflecting in a mirror. What I witnessed stopped me in my tracks with its poetic beauty. Today I knew these two seemingly disparate things needed to be married.

A lifetime is not what is between
the moments of birth and death.

A lifetime is one moment
Between my two little breaths.
The present, the here, the now,
That’s all the life I get.
I live each moment in full,
In kindness, in peace, without regret.
– Chade Meng, Taoist poet

Currently, I’m keeping my own journals from the past, but not my collection of other peoples’ writings. What other people have said, their words have soothed me, healed me, and ignited me. I’m grateful for them. I’ve incorporated their insights into who I am now. I’m releasing the rest to make room for the new.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Hold onto the wisdom but let go of the bulk.

Understanding Stillness

Happy New Year everyone. I hope you enjoy a year enriched by beauty and wonder. I continue on my year-long healing journey and in order to recuperate I need to be quiet and rest. I am finding these times of solace and solitude restorative. There’s a wonderful book our son gave me for Christmas, Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May. It beautifully describes the process of tuning inward in order to heal. I recommend it!

And then there is Mary Oliver . . . just when I think I have read all her poems out of the blue a member of my church (who doesn’t know me) sends me one I haven’t read before and it nails it.

The Lily by Mary Oliver

Night after night
darkness
enters the face
of the lily
which, lightly,
closes its five walls
around itself,
and its purse
of honey,
and its fragrance,
and is content
to stand there
in the garden,
not quite sleeping,
and, maybe,
saying in lily language
some small words
we can’t hear
even when there is no wind
anywhere,
its lips
are so secret,
its tongue
is so hidden –
or, maybe,
it says nothing at all
but just stands there
with the patience
of vegetables
and saints
until the whole earth has turned around
and the silver moon
becomes the golden sun –
as the lily absolutely knew it would,
which is itself, isn’t it,
the perfect prayer?

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be open to the gifts of the day no matter how quietly they come in.

Artists – Use What You Have

(c) Adair Heitmann 2020

Recently I’ve been dealing with a major health crisis that requires my full-time attention,  managing severe side effects of treatments, and being fundamentally exhausted every day of every month. To deal with this major life upheaval I fully embrace my introvert self and go very internal, diving deep into rest and reflection. I nap when I am not having treatments or managing side effects. I come up for air briefly for a short period of time once a month right before my next treatment. I thought I could work at my fulltime job while undergoing aggressive treatments but I’ve learned the side effects are so strong, unpredictable, and completely flatten me that I’ve had to take a medical leave from work to focus solely on my health.

Eight years ago in January 2012 I wrote an essay for the Fairfield Writer’s Blog “Writers – Use What You Have” about the power of creativity and the value of not reinventing the wheel. You can read the blog here and view the book I mention in it Haikus of Nature, Family, and Art by Adair Wilson Heitmann at The Sketchbook Project — Brooklyn Art Library here.

Enter September 2020 and the Fairfield County Arts Association Virtual Art Show Call for Artists. I received the information awhile back but was too sick and exhausted to even consider submitting. Then weeks later I opened an email reminder and since I was in my brief moment up top I wondered “why not?” Even though I pushed myself to submit to the exhibition I used my own advice to use what I had and submitted a recent fine art unedited photograph that was readily available. Now seeing it in the virtual art show, I’m glad I did!

Creativity & wellness message for today: trust your own best advice and then follow it.

Pink Teacups and a Chamois Cleaning Cloth

(c) Adair W. Heitmann

I’m still settling into our new home, still unpacking, creating new spaces, and using old things in new ways.

It continues to be a time of tripping down memory lane and being grateful for the past as well as the present and staying wondrous about how the future may unfold.

Today I celebrate my dear friend and chosen “godmother by love” Kazue Mizumura. I knew Kazue by her Japanese nickname “Baye” which means “baby,” as she was the youngest in her family.

We met when I was fresh out of art school, making my own way in the world as a single woman and professional artist. We shared creativity and independence and feminism and bonded immediately! Over the decades I spent many a dinner over long, deep, heavily-accented conversations filled with raucous laughter at her tiny pink house on the water.

She was an author, illustrator, and jeweler, an artisan par excellence. She gave me copies of her books and she bought some of my artwork. I commissioned her to make jewelry for boyfriends of the time. We supported each other, mostly emotionally. When I was with her, I never felt edited, only loved. We delighted in each other’s company.

She died several years ago. Many years after that, ten years after her death, her partner in life asked me to help her “clean out Baye’s studio.” RU hadn’t set foot in it since Baye died. Over the course of the arduous process RU kept asking me to take something to remember Baye by. I was there to help loved ones not to take anything so I continued to brush off the kind offer. Finally after weeks of helping out I chose to take home some of Baye’s sumi ink painting and calligraphy brushes. They were used and precious to me. Baye held them in her hands as she worked her magic. RU didn’t think that was enough! To me it was. RU insisted I take more. I then chose Baye’s set of pink porcelain tea cups . . . personal and priceless, and one other thing.

Today, getting ready to go celebrate a friend’s birthday I open a drawer to get the old, soft, supple, and previously-used silver polishing cloth I always keep in my bureau to polish my earrings. No one would ever know it was Baye’s. The holes in it were caused by her usage not mine. To me the chamois is a cherished object and of great value.

Being blessed with Baye’s friendship, love, and devotion and experiencing tangible connections to her daily, I never thought to Google her until this morning. Unexpectedly, I found a mother lode. I didn’t know one of her books was read on Sesame Street nor that she had illustrated a book by May Sarton. To me she was “Baye” my chosen godmother by love.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be open to accepting love and finding your own riches.

Why Do You Read Books?

BooksSneaking in another chapter of the book I’m reading before going to work is one of my guilty pleasures. I’ll sacrifice non-essential personal or family obligations to get in one more page. Be it fiction or non-fiction, my current book shares an intimate relationship with me, I forego others for it. I read to escape and to learn. Why do you read?

“I read in hope of discovering the truth, or at least some truths. I look for truth in what some might deem strange places: novels and poems, histories and memoirs, biographies and autobiographies, letters and diaries. In reading for truth, you understand, I am not seeking a full game plan, some large system that will explain the world to me or a patent for bliss. Instead, I seek clues that might explain life’s oddities, that might light up the dark corners of existence a little, that might correct foolish ideas I have come to hold too dearly, that, finally might make my own stay here on earth more interesting, if not necessarily more pleasant.”
– Joseph Epstein

Creativity and wellness message for today: Read a book for stress reduction, knowledge, and free entertainment!

Creativity is a Renewable Resource

1396433877369I’m reading Biz Stone’s Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind. Biz is the co-founder of Twitter. Why not read it along with me and let me know what you think?

He had me hooked in the introduction:
“This book is more than a rags-to-riches tale. It’s a story about making something out of nothing*, about merging your abilities with your ambitions, and about what you learn when you look at the world through a lens of infinite possibility. Plain hard work is good and important, but it is ideas that drive us, as individuals, companies, nations, and a global community. Creativity is what makes us unique, inspired, and fulfilled.”

*Making something out of nothing is what artists, composers, choreographers, and writers do all the time!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Read this book, be exhilarated, let me know what you think.

Six Ways to Retinker Your Work

TEDxTinker (n): A person who can make all kinds of minor repairs.
Retinker (v): To make minor but highly effective repairs.

Yesterday, I spent my balmy Saturday morning, voluntarily tucked into a basement room with 100 other happy people. The Westport Library, held a TEDX event. TEDx is like the baby sister of the TED programs. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a global set of conferences, under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”. TEDx is all that, but on a smaller community level.

The official title of the program was,  “Retinkering Libraries.” Eight presenters kept everyone in the palms of their hands. My take-aways however went far beyond the world of libraries. Artists, writers, teachers, entrepreneurs, consultants, non-profits, for-profits, everyone can learn to retinker themselves. In this age of extreme make-overs and radical career changes considering the power of retinkering is very freeing.

Six Ways to Retinker Your Work:
1.) Try stuff
I learned about some very cool emerging technology, Aurasma, from New Canaan high school librarian, Michelle Luhtala. I’m intrigued to see what I might do with it, both with promoting my own creative work and on my day job.

2.) Ownership of arranging space
Architect, Henry Myerberg, founder of HMA2, taught us that visibility + flexibility + density = ideal learning spaces. Consider making your work space more flexible, see where that leads you.

3.) Come up with the worst idea
When brainstorming about new possibilities, Jeanine Esposito of Spark! Consulting, encouraged us to come up with the worst idea then find two things about the “bad” idea that are good. Now that sounds promising!

4.) Read and be read to
The Director of the Yale University Press, John Donatich, didn’t have a PowerPoint presentation. Nor did his talk didn’t come by video. He read out loud to us. As he read his speech I was lulled into the comfort of being a child and full of wonder.

5.) Surprise and delight your customers
Marketing guru, Joseph Jaffe, reminded us that “Attention is a gift and a privilege, earn it every day.” With the fusion between communication, marketing and technology this reinforces my own motto: If I don’t have something to say, I don’t say/post/tweet/ it.

6.) Reconnect with your original vision
Founder of Yahoo Tech, David Pogue, reminded us about the “too many cooks spoiling the soup” syndrome. One person with vision can make great things. Stay true to yours, if it’s dimmed discover what needs tweaking or changing.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Discover the power of retinkering.

 

 

Poem in Your Pocket Day: April 24

poem_in_pocket-daySave the date: Poem in Your Pocket Day 2014 will be held on Thursday, April 24! On Poem in Your Pocket Day, people throughout the United States select a poem, carry it with them, and share it with others throughout the day.

You can also share your poem selection on Twitter by using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

Why is this cool? It’s cool because it celebrates creativity and poetry and it brings poetry to the masses. It involves community and is an individual act, all at the same time. April is National Poetry Month.

What’s National Poetry Month? National Poetry Month is a month-long, national celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets. The concept is to widen the attention of individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern.

Reading a good poem takes me to a place of richness that I wasn’t in a moment before, such as this one . . .

Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

from Sleeping In The Forest by Mary Oliver

I’m more grounded after reading it, awakened, and oddly satisfied.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Commit to doing something poetic this month.

 

 

The Truth About Nighttime Dreams

IMG_1367I’ve been following the wisdom of my nighttime dreams for decades. Guidance from that knowledge has been like a tiller in my hand, helping me steer the sailboat of my life.

Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright, screenwriter, and novelist, Marsha Norman says:

“Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”

So true!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Write down what was in your dream last night. Don’t edit, just write it down. Then be open to how that one act might help you set the course of your day (or your life.)