Be Ready for Surprises

I spent Saturday with my 89-year-old mom celebrating her birthday. At a local flower show we saw competitions for complex garden/art related theme exhibits and witnessed the Best in Show simple floral blossoms in minimalistic containers. My mom introduced me to several of her friends, we watched bees working in their hive, and enjoyed the day. Before leaving to bring her back to her apartment I stopped in the Women’s room. What greeted me was a most unexpected surprise.

A glass vase full of calla lilies sat poised on a countertop in front of a mirror, next to a dramatic frosted window. For me, this was the best display of the entire flower show! Taking out my new smartphone (a Mother’s Day gift from my sweet husband) I quickly snapped this picture. It’s a beauty I must say.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be prepared, use your artistic eye to spot creative expression wherever it pops up.

P.S. I’m in the process of changing my website and this blog’s layout will change with it. I’m excited about the upcoming new way of communicating with you. Stay tuned!

Dance as if No One is Watching

Many Easters ago, my Springtime ritual was to arrive at a secluded beach alone, before sunrise, and dance my heart out. The corners of my lips still curl up as I remember those times of freedom and abandon. Now, being older, sometimes wiser, and definitely with less available time to myself, I gain inspiration from the anonymous quote, “Dance as if No One is Watching.”

Even if I am in a crowd of people, or busy with a very public job, I can imagine my bare toes in the wet sand, my fluid body twisting and swaying as the scents of sea and salt fill my pores.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Dance on, no matter what.

The Happiness Factor

Recently I lost a contest. Mind you, I’ve been submitting to contests for years. You’d think I had thick skin by now. However, I am human. Rejection still stings. By not placing in the afore-mentioned writing competition I felt a few moments of woe, but soon realized how generally happy I am writing. I wrote about the aftermath of rejection in the Fairfield Writer’s Blog but I’d like to put a different spin on it here.

When I think of tending a flower or vegetable garden my heart expands. I connect to Nature. The natural world is full of promise and patience. Seeds hidden under the soil sprout. Food for the family table is plucked at perfect ripeness to be enjoyed by all. My writing is like this. The act of writing, the art of writing, and the publishing of writing make me happy. Just like a farmer who wins a prize at a state fair for their robust chile peppers, I’m happy to be a writer and happy to write.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Take pleasure in what makes you happy, even if the world does not give you a prize for it.

Sharpening the Senses

In my last blog “New Thoughts on Self-Promotion” I used a metaphor of the great heron, who waits patiently for its meal to swim by. The stately white bird stands seemingly immobile at low tide, then at just the right moment snatches up breakfast. Have you wondered how it knows exactly when and where to strike?

As a bird living in the wild, the heron naturally is keenly aware. It uses its body to guide its actions, not necessarily its brain. I believe the heron uses all of its senses — sight, sound, smell, touch, taste as well as instinct. Many humans have lost their internal navigation system.

Like a baby, the heron uses its senses to explore, discover and master the world around it. Sadly it is our sensory perceptions that are systematically trained out of us by family, schooling and society, as we mature.

To reclaim this power for yourself, take a moment, right now to sharpen your senses. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, then:

1. Be fully aware of how your body feels, notice the temperature of the air on your skin.

2. If the air had a taste, what would it taste like?

3. Feel your breathing, is it shallow or deep? No judgement, just observation. Is your heart fluttering or calm?

4. What do you hear? Can you stretch your hearing to receive the farthest most sound?

5. Smell the odors around you, an animal’s sense of smell can save its life.

6. What do you feel like doing at this very minute? Will you give yourself permission to do it?

7. Over the next week, invite yourself to simply observe a situation in your life, with all your senses. Then let your observations help you intrinsically know when to act (or not). Let your body, not your mind, direct you.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Learn how to be body smart, reconnect with your senses. Then just like the heron, trust your instincts.

New Thoughts on Self-Promotion

Today I’m thinking about the regal white heron. If you live near the water you have witnessed the majestic and stately grace of the heron waiting patiently at low tide, watching in the stillness for its breakfast to swim by. No ripple appears around the heron’s legs, it seems immobile. When the right fish ventures too close the heron rapidly thrusts its beak into the shallow water without hesitation and immediately snatches up its meal.

In today’s world of power marketing and social media we are bombarded with what I call the “all about me” mentality. I’m shifting my focus and learning from the great white heron. It draws no attention to itself, as it stands, stock still keenly observing. Its sustenance comes to it, not the other way around.

As an artist and writer I am guilty of the “See Me!” method of promoting my work for the return of dinner on my family’s table. Currently I heed the great white heron’s wise counsel. I am standing still.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be patient, silently observe, then strike with precision at just the right moment.

A Different View

I headed out for my walk this morning wearing a pale yellow sweatshirt, frayed and loose around the neck, with one shoulder partially exposed, Flashdance style. My skin was cool and the air was quiet when I left my house. I felt footloose and fancy free. Taking a route different from my normal routine, I trekked up one hill then down another to reach the water. As I approached Long Island Sound the wind whipped up and I saw tiny white caps.

My morning of life/work balance was already pleasantly euphoric. My sneakers beat a steady rhythm on the asphalt and I thought back to art school. A college professor taught all the students in my Design class to turn every artwork around, to view it from all sides. This way the artist can see and change the composition from every angle. What I learned is that when I changed something from one perspective, it changed the whole piece. The finished artwork was completed by drawing a line or changing a shape that I never would have considered if I had not viewed it upside down or backwards.

Today, the surprise of seeing white caps on a day that started out calm and simultaneously feeling exhilarated by the increasing winds put me in a place of deeper gratitude.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Look at your moment from a different view, break out of your routine and be delighted at how the change affects the whole.

Immersion

Watching a scarlet cardinal splish and splash in the bird bath this morning caused me to stop my responsibilities of the moment and just be delighted by the scene. The image of the red bird wriggling from head to tip of tail in the cobalt blue ceramic dish, with a background of emerald green lawn appealed to me.

I was struck by the bird’s total immersion in its activity. It reminded me of my day last week at BookExpo America. BEA is the largest North American publishing trade show. Just like the cardinal I dove into the trade show experience full on. You can read more about it in the Fairfield Writer’s Blog where I penned a report.

This morning, the ease of the cardinal in the bath reminded me of those things that help an artist or writer be in their zone of creativity. At BEA I heard the author Cornelia Funke speak about her writing process. What fascinated me was learning that she started her career as an illustrator. This explains her use of visual objects to inspire her writing. She writes in what she calls her “writing house,” a small building on her California property, formerly owned by the actress Faye Dunaway. Built-in shelves originally lined the walls to hold Dunaway’s dramatic awards. Funke now uses the shelves to hold bits and pieces of color, texture, symbol, and shape as fodder for her imagination. As an artist I can relate to the comfort zone of using the visual to enhance the written.

Creativity and wellness message for today: What is your zone of creativity? What can you use to expand your awareness and deepen your expression?

Fullness

Last night the moon was so full and bright I opened my shades and let in the light.

Memories flooded my senses — swimming under the blue glow of a full moon in the waters off Cape Cod; creating and leading Full Moon Meditation Retreats in Connecticut; writing poetry inspired by a full moon’s clarity. Then this morning I received a copy of Catherine Al-Meten’s  article in which she explores the various names and cultural interpretations of the Full Snow Moon, the largest one of the year. I’m enjoying a feeling of coming full circle.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Let the energies of the full moon pull you closer to your true expressive self.