A.R.T.: Action, Reflection, Transformation

Here I am speaking at The Unitarian Church of Westport, CT

Watch out for who you run into at your local gardening center! There I was, minding my own business, choosing colorful potted flowers for my front porch, when I saw a friend browsing the outdoor aisles. We got to talking and catching up. She follows me on social media and asked about my recent art exhibitions and writing projects. Gab, gab, share, share, it was a lovely day to be outside and even lovelier to be chatting with her.

We say goodbye and a few weeks later, I’m asked if I would be interested in leading a lay-led summer service at The Unitarian Church in Westport, CT. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. What might be of value to the folks in the pews? I asked my friend (who was the Worship Associate) and she answered, “Talk about your art.” Hmmmmmmmmmm. Yes, I could talk about that until the cows come home, but is that really of value to the people in the seats?

Then I said, “I could speak about losing fifty years of my original fine art in a silent basement flood right before I was planning a retrospective.” She leaned in. I immediately followed my intuition and promptly said, “I could title my homily, “A.R.T: Action, Reflection, Transformation.” Ding, ding, ding, she thought it a great idea.

While it was a challenge writing my personal narrative homily with a message, I got as much out of it as the congregants. Being asked to speak was validation of me and my worthiness. Having my idea liked made me feel recognized. Hearing, seeing, and feeling the responses from the people in the pews and from them afterwards opened my heart.

Watch a video of my homily below. It starts at 13:26.

ART- Action, Reflection, Transformation from The Unitarian Church in Westport on Vimeo.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Just say yes and let your inner knowing take you to the next step.

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.

From Inspiration to Intermission

My last post was about inspiration, today’s post is about intermission. Thank you to the Seattle Theatre Group for the inspiration!

Even in the pandemic I’m busy working (I am grateful for my job that is considered essential), caring for our family (with a college son at home finishing his senior year remotely), and supporting my sweetheart (taking care of his aging father remotely). Life is full and yet blessed. We have each other, a home we enjoy with views of a tidal creek, friends we adore, neighbors we love getting to know even in the land of physical distancing, extended family strewn all across the country, and a new grandniece on the way!

Viewing what we are experiencing right now through the filter of intermission . . . pause . . . the curtain will rise again, and the show will go on, brings me comfort and acceptance.

Creativity and wellness message for today: What one word is offering you comfort and acceptance?

 

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.

Hope

Shell by Adair Heitmann

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”

-Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things

Creativity and wellness message for today: Delight in hidden messages and the blessings of small things.

The Weave of Life: An Ode to Friendship

There is something many of you may not know about me and that is I am private about death and loss. My personal experiences are mine and I honor them and deal with them behind the scenes. This last year has been filled with loss for me. The unexpected, untimely, and multiple deaths of friends, co-workers, and family has sent me reeling at times for shelter under the closest rock. Yet, each day I’ve put one foot in front of the other to carry on. I also know many of you have lost loved ones this past year.

Last week a friend created a casual gathering to remember two close friends who passed away within a few weeks of each other in 2017. During our times of reminiscing and afterwards I realized the profound value the friends who are left standing hold for each other.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
– Henri J.M. Nouwen

Creativity and wellness message for today: Remember the fabric of life holds many strands. When one is lost others remain or are woven anew.

Sharing Your Stories

Jubilate @ UVA

The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. So when stories come to you, you must take good care of them, as well. Learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs your story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put our stories in each other’s memories. This is how people care for themselves.
-Barry Lopez

Creativity and wellness message for today: SYS

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Caitlin_Geary

Photograph credit: Caitlin Geary

During what was called the “Blizzard of 2016” I texted my niece in NYC, checking in on her. She was safe, warm, and sent me a photograph she just took. The image blew my socks off! It was artistic and perfectly composed. The lighting was spectacular and the mood both mysterious and intriguing. It could have been taken in Paris or London, it had an international and cosmopolitan feel to it. As you can tell, I loved the image.

Fast forward to a few days later, while working with my physical therapist, we were gabbing about the recent storm. He was talking about how New York City got more snow than Connecticut. I pulled out my mobile phone, proudly showing him my niece’s creative photograph. Does he exclaim about the beauty of the lighting? Do I hear a gasp as he inhales in wonder and amazement at the textures and colors? No. He says, “Oh that’s a ____________ bicycle. Everyone knows their wheels are 26 inches.” Linear proof that, yes indeed, NYC had more snow than we did.

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Enjoy your own perception of things.