Inspiration and Perseverance in the New Year

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Nature Mobile by Adair Heitmann

Recently, a beloved mobile, one I made while I was in college, was accidentally broken by someone other than me. The mobile was special and sentimental. I constructed it late one night in my college studio apartment in Syracuse, NY. The hanging sculpture was of delicate, transparent shells and two pieces of elegant driftwood. I’d found the objects in nature while dreamily beach-combing and camping on Sanibel Island, FL. I fancy myself a good artist in two dimensional works, 3D however has never been my forte. Add to that the subject of balance, I was out of my element. Mind you, I can balance a checkbook and I strive to live a balanced life, but creating actual poise, stability, and equilibrium using fishing nylon, lightweight shells and small pieces of graceful wood was a challenge.

I hadn’t taken a class in weights and measures, nor was I a mathematician or scientist who could assess, evaluate, and compare sizes and weights to calculate stability. I was an artist! I remember vividly the night I spontaneously made the original mobile. It was my very first mobile and I ventured into unknown and nervous territory to even consider making it. Yet, I was inspired to do so. The creative process was hands-on and immediate. I felt my way through the act of gauging the position and stability of the little objects. I was more of a creator and the act of tinkering was new to me. Yet, I knew I needed to keep going, persevere, make adjustments, adapt angles and lengths, and I trusted the balance would present itself. When it was finished I loved its simplicity, it was Zen-like. I hung it in my tiny apartment and upon college graduation the mobile came with me, survived being packed and unpacked during seven of my moves, and always found a place on view in my home. The mobile was never a center-stage type of artwork, but every time I saw it, I felt proud of myself for trying something new and constructing something outside my comfort zone.

You can imagine how I felt when I found it, decades later laying flat on my desk. The supporting strings made of fishing nylon were old and weak. I could not blame the accidental mishap that caused it to break. I put it aside until I had time to fix it, I knew the persistent process I would have to undertake and I knew I’d go into an anxious tinkering approach in order to fix it. I made the original mobile spontaneously, using trial and error kinesthetic experiments. I had to go back into that same state of mind and hands-on method to fix it. It also was important to me that I fix it myself. I live with the mobile king and could have very easily asked him to repair it. But it felt imperative for me to restore the damage.

Our college-age son watched my process and progress. Over the winter break he was home and on his computer at the kitchen table while I was fiddling and messing with the mobile two feet away. He saw and heard my frustrations, he witnessed my starting over again and again. He observed, all while working on his own projects, my searching for spools of different invisible threads from my multi-compartment Norwegian wooden sewing box with six trays. He didn’t say a word, we were in parallel productive modes, but, as a parent I knew it was a teaching moment. If he saw me get annoyed and stop, it would teach him to give up too soon on his own endeavors. If I got angry at myself for failure, remember, equalizing weights isn’t my strong suit, I would be teaching him by example to let disappointment get the best of him.

I hung in there, remembered my former college self in my solo, small, second floor apartment and kept tinkering. Slowly a solution appeared and I mended the broken mobile. Is it exactly like the original? No. Is it good enough? Yes!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Hang in there and use the art of hands-on tinkering to create your next solution.

The Power of Hope

dear-santa-letterform-1One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver writes:
“Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.”

For myself, as an exhibiting artist with a full-time communications job, and as a devoted mother and (fabulous) wife, plus as a writer and daughter and volunteer, my wonderful and full life currently doesn’t provide the time I seek, yet I deeply crave the power of privacy to create!

Santa, if you are listening . . . delight me with more private time to create in 2017!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Ask and ye shall receive.

 

Glimpsing a Possibility

dwell_in_possibility_photo_1_“We must live in the radiance of tomorrow, as our ancestors have suggested in their tales. For what is yet to come tomorrow has possibilities, and we must think of it, the simplest glimpse of that possibility of goodness. That will be our strength. That has always been our strength.”
-Ishmael Beah

Believing in Magic

cropped-sparkle31And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
– Roald Dahl

Creativity and wellness message for today: Allow light into the hidden places.

Be Open

opportunity_plantGratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
– William Arthur Ward

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be open to them all – gratitude, joy, opportunities, blessings.

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!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Photograph credit: Laura Musikanski

“Leprechauns, castles, good luck, and laughter. Lullabies, dreams, and love ever after. Poems and songs with pipes and drums. A thousand welcomes when anyone comes . . . That’s the Irish for you!”
-Anonymous

Creativity and wellness message for today: On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone’s Irish, enjoy!

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

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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.

Joyeux Noel

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Adair Heitmann 2015

When I was a kid, growing up in the Presbyterian Church, we’d sing Silent Night on Christmas Eve by candlelight. The overhead lights would dim in the huge, fish-shaped sanctuary, with cathedral-height ceilings. The congregation hushed, candles were lit one from another, then the magic began. We sang all three verses of the ancient carol, Silent Night, slowly raising our candles in unison, then reverently lowering them.

As a youngster the feeling of majesty and awe, and even a connection to a deeper and broader, unexplainable mystery filled me year after year. This connection to my own sense of spirituality stayed with me as I grew into an adult. I’ve explored Buddhism, Paganism, Wiccan and other earth-based religions, Shamanism, Native American teachings, and Transcendental Meditation. Now a Unitarian Universalist, I’ve found a home in which I can have all my personal, eclectic beliefs, and still be part of a community.

Christmas time comes and how the heck do I celebrate? I still believe in a presence of Love and Grace that is bigger than I am, because I’ve felt it’s comfort over the years. I still believe in Santa Claus, don’t you? Santa certainly brings joy to the season. I love the pagan-based live fir tree in our living room, adorned with colorful lights, and handmade ornaments, chronicling our interests, friends and blended family traditions.

Every year I wait to be presented with a Silent Night experience. I don’t go looking for it, it always come to me, when I least expect it. Last Saturday night it’s kind elegance entered our family room. Having a teenage son who loves history, he chose the movie, Joyeux Noel, to watch with us while we enjoyed carry-in sushi for dinner. The movie is set in December 1914. Based on true stories, it dramatically portrays an unofficial Christmas truce on the Western Front that allowed soldiers from opposing sides of the First World War to gain insight into each other’s way of life.

When our son was young, we read a book together about this amazing historical event. Tears dripped down my face as we read about the soldiers, French, German, and Scottish, all singing Silent Night together. Fast-forward to this past weekend, watching, Joyeux Noel. When the acclaimed tenor turned soldier starts to sing Silent Night, alone, unarmed on high ground between the trenches, the hair on my arms stood up. My heart opened, my soul smiled, and I wept tears of mercy and kindness and hope. Tears of charity and clarity. I was given a blessing in my own home.

This holiday season, no matter what you do or don’t believe in, I wish you moments of peace, decency, and dignity.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be open to grace surrounding you when you least expect it.