My art was recently selected by juror, James Barron, into the Spectrum Contemporary Art Exhibition at the Carriage Barn Arts Center in New Canaan, CT. The theme of the show is “Renewal,” apt and timely. I’m proud to be in the exhibition. Being accepted helps me keep going, keep creating, and keep creatively experimenting.
I’ve also been submitting to art and writing residencies around the US. I’ve wanted to be accepted into one for decades! I applied to one 30 years ago, got rejected, felt defeated, and never re-applied. Now I have the courage (and time) to keep pursuing applications to a variety of venues and locations. I’ve applied now to four, and have been rejected, so far by three. Still awaiting news on the fourth.
Over the years my mind set has changed from lasting despair if I don’t get accepted to viewing my submitting process as Rejection Accomplishments. It’s my responsibility to myself, as an artist and a writer, and someone who really wants the collaborative and focused work environment of a residency, to keep applying. I learn something new each time I apply to a different residency.
My Excel spreadsheet of possibilities, deadlines, and websites is lengthy, I have more creative opportunities then I have time and space to submit to. It’s a good problem to have!
Creativity and wellness message for today: After feeling the loss of rejection, consider patting yourself on the back and acknowledging “Job well done, now on to the next!”
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.
I’ve waited six months for the publication date of the book I’m in! Today’s the day! I’m so excited to share the book with 35 other storytellers and to have my personal experience with whales be included.
You can see and hear me reading a section of my story, page 133, “Overcoming Fear with Help From the Whales” on the video here.
The book is Animals: Personal Tales of Encounters with Spirit Animals by Dr. Steven Farmer, is published by Sacred Stories Publishing. Available from online booksellers worldwide and at https://bit.ly/cs_animals
Creativity and wellness message for today: Never give up on your dreams! Keep submitting!Keep having your deep and authentic experiences in life and with nature.Don’t let anyone try to take them away from you.
In 2019 I had a nighttime dream in which whales metaphorically foretold a health crisis that I would survive in 2021. Their wisdom helped me weather a very trying and scary time because I knew to trust their guidance. I’ve been connecting to spirit animals in my dreams and in waking life all my life. They’ve never steered me wrong.
Last year I was so sick and the medical treatments so severe that I had to take a medical leave of absence from work. Due to the severity of the treatment’s side effects, I had about 5.5 non-consecutive hours a month (that’s right — 5.5 hours per month, non-consecutive) when I had functioning brain cells and a modicum of energy. I called it my “one week a month when I came up for air,” for about an hour each day for a period of about one week.
During my long stretches of down time, when I could focus, I had a lot of time to think. When I thought about what I wanted to do when I came up for air, once a month, I thought “Do more of what makes me happy.” When I thought about this I pondered . . . writing makes me happy.
Serendipity played a hand one day, while I had brain cells I was randomly scrolling though LinkedIn, and along came a call for writers from Sacred Stories Media about its upcoming book by world-renowned author, teacher, shamanic practitioner, and licensed psychotherapist, Dr. Steven Farmer, ANIMALS: Personal Tales of Encounters with Spirit Animals. The publishing company’s call was “Have You Had a Mystical Experience with Spirit?” Well, yes, I have.
The Common Sentience book series is a first-of-its-kind series that brings to the fore and celebrates mystical experiences we have. Every book is anchored by a Featured Author (Dr. Steven Farmer for the ANIMALS book) who is a eminent thought leader on the book’s topic. These teachers share both their personal stories and deep knowledge in chapters throughout the book, along with selected contributing authors. Sacred Stories Media asked people to share their true, compelling personal stories of a direct interaction with a Spirit Animal. The story that immediately bubbled up from deep within me was an experience I had with gray whales in 1988 and how they helped me overcome fear on the Pacific Ocean outside of Tofino, on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
Over the next weeks, whenever I had a few brain cells available I jotted down my memories of that profound experience. Over time my briefly drafted word sketches grew into the whole true story. During my few hours each month in which I had energy and brain power I stitched all the pieces together and I felt happy writing it. The deadline loomed. I knew I had gotten the story as good as I could. I submitted it to the publishing company for consideration and went back to sleep.
Needless to say, when I learned my story was accepted I was delighted! I am now counting down to the book launch date of January 11, 2022.
Part of the back cover states: “Experience how these spiritual allies can guard, aid, heal, and guide you in the most unexpected and delightful ways.” I’m proud that out of the 35 selected sacred storytellers that my story is one of the highlighted six on the back cover! You can find my story on page 133, “Overcoming Fear With Help From the Whales.”
Best U.S. Book Links to Use: ANIMALS is available worldwide. If you live outside the U.S. please look up the book on your favorite retailer site. A shortened Amazon link is – https://bit.ly/cs_animals A shortened Barnes and Noble link is – https://bit.ly/cs_animals_bn
Creativity and wellness message for today: Allow yourself to to guided by the intelligence of animals and the power of nature.
Have you ever wanted to reinvent yourself? I’ve done it many times and I’ve lived to tell the tales!
I know first-hand what it’s like to outgrow your job and how the creative process isn’t always linear. I also know how art and writing and expressing myself have saved me time and time again. And how being in the creative flow makes me feel alive. Taking leaps and willingness to walk into the unknown are beacons in my life.
“Creativity is the Mother of Reinvention” is my visual storytelling about life continuously being about retooling and reinventing. I shared it at the PechaKucha Night Vol. 12 “Reinvention + Discovery” at the Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport, Connecticut as a part of the 13th annual Bridgeport Art Trail. It’s 6 minutes/40 seconds with 20 fast-paced inspiring slides. I welcome you to take a look and a listen!
My thoughts today alight on feathers: Feather symbolism has different meanings depending on who you ask. For me, they represent hope, alignment with Spirit, divine protection, poetic inspiration, and profound yet light mystical connections. They also come into my life unexpectedly and offer me insight and strength to try something new. The feather comes as a sign and teaches me to creatively trust what is in the immediate moment.
Others have said: “In a result oriented culture like ours, it is easy to get hung up on endings, on figuring things out and finding precise solutions. But a true fascination continues building with each new piece of information, making new connections, revealing new patterns and opening new perceptions. The exploration of natural miracles is a fundamentally open ended and curiosity driven enterprise. It reminds us that science is not always about the answer, it is about the questions.” – Thor Hanson, Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle
Hello! I’ve been away sifting, editing, and packing our household belongings . . . looking for a new place to live . . . finding one . . . moving in . . . and I’m setting up my studio/office today! What do I do the minute I set up my laptop? Sit down and write you. Here’s a place my creativity lies.
We work hard to be where we are in life, the fruits of our labors helped us sell our former beloved home and purchase a new (soon to be cherished) one. The fruits of our labors help pay for our son’s college education and help pay our new mortgage.
What I didn’t expect when we inherited three large raised bed vegetable gardens with our new house was that the previous owners’ labors would feed us for the first several nights of new house ownership. Quickly we learned how to prepare Japanese eggplant and Swiss chard. The heritage tomatoes took no guess-work, they were delicious with fresh mozzarella from a local farmers market and basil from our the garden. We are grateful for their efforts, the rewards we reaped.
I discovered this poet today and think her words sum up the last several months:
Millions of Strawberries
Marcia and I went over the curve,
Eating our way down
Jewels of strawberries we didn’t deserve,
Eating our way down.
Till our hands were sticky, and our lips painted,
And over us the hot day fainted,
And we saw snakes,
And got scratched,
And a lust overcame us for the red unmatched
Small buds of berries,
Till we lay down-
Eating our way down-
And rolled in the berries like two little dogs,
In the late gold,
And gnats hummed,
And it was cold,
And home we went, home without a berry,
Painted red and brown,
Eating our way down.
– by Genevieve Taggard
Creativity and wellness message for today: Be grateful for the fruits of all labors, then lie down and have some fun.
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.
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.
When I was a teenager I learned how to drive a stick shift on my father’s vintage 1950’s MGB convertible. He’d bought it from a neighbor for $1.00. Pulling a cord tucked into the inside of the car door, opened the door. I took the solid hard top off to cruise in style to high school and the plastic windows slid side-to-side. To slow the car down, without applying the brakes, I learned how to downshift. Using the clutch and gear shift I changed the manual transition to a lower gear to slow the car down.
This past spring, I metaphorically downshifted, I slowed my activities down and simplified. I had an abundance of good things but too little time. I needed to take several volunteer and professional responsibilities off my plate in order to open space for other priorities. You can read more about it in the essay I wrote for the Fairfield Writer’s Blog, A Writer’s Choice: My Seven Steps to Saying Goodbye to Something I Love. Wanting to have more time to be with my high school senior in the college looking and applying process, I felt sad letting all my volunteer work go, but I knew the benefits of a calmer Mom. The hardest activity for me to stop was one that I’d been leading for seven years. It was an on-going Writing Critique Group,
However, the previous winter, my boss asked me to lead a different kind of writing group on the Saturdays that I was already working. Agreeing to it I planned on leading both, totally different writing groups, in two different libraries. Now, as I prepare for the new group starting in September, I’m reminded that the Universe works in mysterious ways. Last spring I downshifted to ease off and allow space, in doing so I let go of something I deeply enjoyed. Yet, I gained being more available to our son. More time means I can access my humor more often. Now that I’m developing my curriculum for the new Creative Writing Workshop that I’ll be leading on the third Saturday of every month starting September 19, 2015 at Pequot Library, I’m back in my inventive flow again.
Creativity and wellness message for today: Trust that when you let something go, you might be surprised at what the Universe puts in its place.