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.

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

Couldn’t We Make a Difference?

Today I can’t help but remember where I was almost 10 years ago on September 11, 2001. It was 8am, I had just dropped our three-year-old son at his new pre-school in a magnet school 30 minutes away from my home and office. Upon leaving, his pre-school teacher gave me a book, welcoming our family into the school community. I tucked Michele Pace Hofbauer’s Couldn’t We Make a Difference under my arm, drove down the thruway to my office, and started my day. I had not turned on the car radio.

Soon my husband called telling me of the devastating news of a plane crashing into the Twin Towers and as he was relaying this a colleague walked into his office revealing the additional traumatic event of the Pentagon’s attack. I heard his co-worker say the words through the telephone receiver before my husband had time to repeat them. What to do? We were devastated, scared, we didn’t yet know the full scope of our country’s violent attack.

Our son’s pre-school was on the way home from my husband’s office, our son would be safely picked up. I had clients scheduled, I needed to wait. What I chose to do next effected my experience of that day on a cellular level. Remembering the book I took a moment of reflection. Sitting in my cushioned, floral blue easy chair I started to read. As salty tears streamed down my face I felt an inner knowingness that we would be okay. The book healed me, it gave me the strength of hope to take the next steps toward safety and protection. It was the perfect balm at an unjust time.

I will quote from the book’s introduction,”Couldn’t We invites children of every nation, race and culture to join hands in overcoming difference. Its message is that of tolerance and acceptance, understanding and empathy, courage and hope. It suggests that children have a responsibility to themselves, to each other and to the earth. Beautifully illustrated and written in simple verse Couldn’t We offers a vision of a bright future. It opens a small window into a world where everyone lives in peace and where every child has the power to make a difference.”

Creativity and wellness message for today: Open your own small window and make a difference.

Bringing It All Together

In the Women’s Center of a local college there sat a group of women, similar, yet different. Courageous women who were all breast cancer survivors. My program for them was “Guided Meditation for Insight and Joy.” After we shared a bite to eat and lots of hearty humor we moved into the evening’s event. I gave a brief introduction on meditation then led the group through three customized guided imagery exercises.

The room calmed as the women released stress and anxiety, and the green plants lining the window sill seemed to perk up. Each person tried something new and reaped the benefits. Some comments after the program included: “soothing; relaxing (x4); peaceful; personal; interesting; nice . . . how nice; reflective; time you give yourself.”

I congratulate The Breast Cancer Survival Center which offers unique programs throughout the year. Their founder Susan Santangelo epitomizes living life to the fullest. The women in attendance had endured trauma, fear, and loss as well as recovery, transformation and joy.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Healing is creating an environment in which your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional bodies can integrate.

Cross-pollination in 2010

Many years ago when I was the Founder and Director of The Center for Creativity & Wellness, I had a collaborative professional relationship with three psychotherapists. Each of our strengths was different. One of us was a therapist who specialized in substance abuse and recovery, another was a marriage and family therapist who also led Sacred Circle Dances, and a third was a therapist who was a practitioner of shamanism. I provided the healing arts of natural energy healing, dreamwork, and meditation for my clients and students. Our professional foursome published quarterly newsletters, and mailed them as a unit to our clients. We called our multi-pronged marketing “cross-pollination.”

We embraced our diversity and that attitude served us, and our clients well. Potential clients were introduced, in very user-friendly ways, to new modalities of healing and personal development. This collaborative approach can be applied in any business or walk of life.

Creativity and wellness message for today: For 2010 plant the seed of fertilization in your life. Veer off the beaten path, touch down on a new flower, try something that you haven’t done before. Let the vitality of cross-pollination be your guide.