Sustaining Your Creativity

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When it comes to creativity, many complicated layers are worthy of discussion, and at this moment in time it is a hot topic. In my book titled THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY, available on Amazon and Kindle, I explored, with a select 18 highly creative individuals, the process of choosing and defining your creative direction. The subject common to all of their chapters was the event of experiencing a creative epiphany. I have written many blog posts about such an experience, (see my Archives) how I define it and how to encourage and recognize the epiphany event that will change the course of your life for the better, if you remain open to hearing it.

When a person is super creative, it oozes out in many directions, seeking the most fulfilling path that will bring the best results (not usually the path of least resistance). I do not believe that a person must confine her creative work to one lasting lifetime lane that moves forward like a turnpike and allows only one facet of creativity to get anywhere, with no exit ramps and no room for further adventures. What I do believe is that selecting one or two dominant and slightly meandering creative avenues will bring the best enlightenment and satisfaction in your journey. Certainly not at the dictatorial extinction of everything else – but to allow adequate concentration of time and energy in the primary pursuits that offer you the most potential for a life of moral and career enrichment. If you dilute yourself too much, you water down all your creative  endeavors to a thin, weak soup that never tastes very good.

Many creative people re-define themselves over a lifetime, using chunks of time to do one thing very well, then switching to some other choice and doing that quite well for another period of time. That is a wonderful way to keep things fresh, avoid boredom and follow the money trends to a creative work that will bring in some bucks. I love that. That is a fun way to live.

Through the years I have been advised to produce greeting cards, write children’s books, become an interior designer, run my own B&B, be a painter of faux finishes on walls, design clothing, manage art galleries and decorator fabric shops and the list goes on. Some of those things I did, some I wish I had done and some I may still do…. Underneath it all, however and sometimes on top of it all, I was an artist. In spite of being an artist I have spent embarrassing  amounts of time diluting myself to such a degree that I was crazy with juggling it all, and yet what ultimately happened was that I learned from it so that now I can write confidently about it with a high degree of credibility. In retrospect, perhaps in doing this writing that time spent has become worthwhile…even valuable and necessary. Phew – because I hate wasted time. Now I am an artist and an author and you can be sure that any advise I offer to you was gathered through my time in the trenches.

I am now beginning a sequel to The CREATIVE EPIPHANY,  title to be determined. I have more to say – I would like to assume that you have chosen a creative direction; you are immersed in it, devoured by it, and perhaps being driven crazy by it. I have some observations about all that…. I would like to get them all gathered up, organized and put them between the covers of a new book. I do not want you to smother the flames of your creative fire. Help is on the way! Stay tuned!

http://www.thecreativeepiphany.com

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Summer 2016

The photos above are my own – the first one is the vista taken from Mt. Lindo (the mountain with the enormous lighted cross) looking east toward the distant Denver skyline, with highway #285 winding its way west toward Conifer – a weekend journey for me, up that canyon to the place in the pines that I love best. (referenced in my new novel, A CANARY FLIES THE CANYON – AMAZON & KINDLE).

The second view is Evergreen lake, the third is the meadow across from Meyers Ranch in Conifer near where we hike, and the last is our little doe making herself at home in the sheltered spot surrounded by rocks just outside the studio window.

Summer 2016, from the ridiculously funny to the sublime and everything in between, is about half over and has already been logged as one of my personal best. I find my peace in the mountains. And yes, my blogs have been few this summer, but that does not mean I am uncommunicative. I am incubating new ideas. I am on fire to write another book (I have no control over this urge to write – it is an animal that needs constant feeding) but so far I am just making notes. I am also painting, which is quite similar to writing…requiring color, pattern and texture in the composition…focal point, sub-plots and sub-areas,  interesting detail and dialogue. The process for each creative endeavor uses much the same principles, and of course you must also open yourself up and bleed it all out. You have to be unselfconscious in your desire to share.

We are attending summer concerts, art festivals and galleries, having friends visit us, painting both in the studio and plein air, checking out the Little Bear Saloon to make sure it still rocks (it does), the Lavender Festival and exploring back roads on the Harley. We have had a Colorado, stay-at-home kind of summer, but we have big plans for Fall. Every breath I take I am reminded that these are my Halcyon years, now in the final chapter of my life. I cannot ask for more than this, nor would I want to. My extended world is not perfect – people I love dearly are battling cancer, friends have painful family issues to deal with and the world here and abroad seems to have lost its fucking mind. Chaos and unpredictability rule the day. But somehow I have found a degree of peace, relieved of most of the stress…and removed…to a place both mental and geographic…that I love. I recommend that you do the same. Cheer Up! Do what you can with what you have got, and make yourself some happy.

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Women Artists of Abstract Expressionism

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Above – Painting by Lee Krasner, titled The Seasons, oil and house paint on canvas,  approx. 92″x 203″ 1957 Whitney Museum of American Art, NY

Yesterday we attended a member preview of the highly acclaimed Denver Art Museum show titled WOMEN OF ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM. These brave and innovative women of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s are my heroes, having charted the direction I would later choose to follow with my art. I did not make that phenomenal association until years later, because the emphasis and the credit was placed upon male artists.

As a dedicated student of fine art in the 60’s at the U of Colorado, Boulder I found myself artistically immersed and influenced during historically volatile times on a campus known for its politically active student body and its cutting-edge art department, among other fine attributes.  By the 60’s the world was rapidly changing, across the board, on all fronts, from religion to civil rights to politics to art, music and literature…

I was inside the momentous flux, historically, geographically, and creatively, in one of the right places to be at just the right time. The art world was evolving at an especially stunning pace; morphing; reinventing; branching off into new vocabularies of expression as art is expected to do when worldly conventions are spinning and older ideas are challenged. Those cutting-edge professors were learning and absorbing right along with students….we were all in it together, but few influential women artists were ever acknowledged or mentioned. If you were a young female artist of that time, that was the elephant in every studio and classroom. The world of art was dominated by men. I was one of less than a handful of women in the expressionistic painting classes where this stimulating, intoxicating new artistic action was happening.

I was vaguely aware of names like Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner (the wife of Jackson Pollock), Elaine De Kooning (wife of William), Judith Godwin, Ethel Schwabacher and the others included in this current show. These women were already  painting their hearts out in NYC and SF, often sharing studio space with their prominent husbands. In the words of Lee Krasner, “I was always going to be Mrs. Jackson Pollock – that’s a matter of fact – but I painted before Pollock, during Pollock, after Pollock.”

Fresh approaches, bold brush stroke gestures and odd new vocabularies of expression ran rampant in these womens’ art, if one cared to look. Helen Frankenthaler said it best: “One of the first rules is NO rules.” In the words of the museum, “While individual expression is key, several themes recur in works by the women artists seen in this show. These include responses to place, the seasons, time of day, meaningful events, and literature, dance or music. These paintings are almost always quite abstract, even when referencing something real. The true subject is never the thing, but the painterly expression itself.”

Quoting now from the Curator of Modern Art, Gwen F. Chanzit, Ph. D at this Denver show:

“…they helped forge the first fully American modern art movement. While there is no one prescribed style, Abstract Expressionist canvases are known for loose brushwork all-over composition, an emphasis on surface rather than depth, and a grand sense of scale. Artists experimented with process and materials to free themselves from previous conventions.”

My love for mixed media and collage art found its origin with the experimentation of these women and the larger abstract movement to which they belonged. Bits of string, tin foil and various papers chosen for their texture or pattern can be found, worked with paint, on the canvases of this show. If I ever needed validation, and that need is by definition part of being an abstract artist, I found it in the work of these women. For them abstract expressionism was risky and unheard of; for me it is the norm. The art of these women has been underreported and undervalued, although they participated alongside men – even husbands! – in studios, art clubs, exhibitions and shows.

The art displayed in this show is so alive with the joy of painting free that it almost brings tears to your eyes. The powerful colors, the textures and the wide open gestures and brushstrokes are screaming freedom – from conventional traditional style and conformity. Seeing it all was a lesson, loud and clear, in being brave, in being a risk-taker, in being unrestrained and fully expressive as an artist. These women were gutsy broads!

If any of you have potential artists in your family or circle of friends, especially girls, remember that women of astounding talent were often ignored, brushed off, undervalued and cast aside as irrelevant. It still happens…..but less consistently.

Thanks to the Denver Art Museum for allowing photos to be taken, and for the quotes I have used here.

Jo Ann Brown-Scott – new novel titled A CANARY FLIES THE CANYON, about the life of a young woman who finds her life’s passion in art

http://www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com   http://joannbrownscottauthor.com

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The Slim Chance of Randomness

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One of the constant themes of my new novel, “A CANARY FLIES THE CANYON” is my theory that very little in life is random. The older we get the more it becomes apparent that patterns have formed, woven into the tapestry of our lives. Seemingly “random” or “chance” events, viewed in retrospect, fit nicely into a whole cloth fabric that would be unfinished and meaningless without them, including the less than pleasant occurrences that might have seemed ruinous when they happened. Every thread carries meaning; every slub or irregularity adds texture and carries purpose in its being. The perfect parts are beautiful but pale in comparison to the unusual, imperfect areas where mistakes were dealt with and learned from….

The heroine of my novel, Annie, born an artist with a no-nonsense’ practical flip-side as well, experiences a life of loss, loneliness and conflict underneath the wrapper of her creative passion. She encounters three men who become pivotal in her romantic life; each offers experiences  that will  paint her life with indelible lessons.

Annie also meets a woman named Kerri who becomes a friend to her, filling in those blanks when she needs to confide in a woman and laugh about life as only two crazy kindred spirits can. This woman, Kerri, owns an art gallery and offers Annie the position of director; of course Annie accepts and thus begins an adventure that will spice her life with fascinating people and situations, rippling out into the future for many years to come.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 18 – The Slim Chance of Randomness, where Annie begins her new job.

CHAPTER 18

The Slim Chance of Randomness 

Lessons keep repeating

Until you pay attention.

Everything comes back again in another form.

Nothing disappears without a trace.

New faces and old traces;

Haven’t I known you before?

By early fall of that momentous year of 2002, coming on the heels of 9/11/01, being laid off in early January of ‘02, then my mother’s death in April and my daughter’s wedding in July, plus the consistently disturbing issues with Blake, I had gotten a new job and removed myself from the unemployment list. I interviewed for gallery director position at a very successful gallery in the upscale mall near my neighborhood. I got the position and was instantly thrown in with a small but fascinating group of people who changed my life forever and made me giggle again. I felt that I had been sprung loose and rewarded after doing hard time in the world of finance with the slick financial advisor for six damn years.

The owner of the gallery was a larger than life woman named Kerrigan Jones. Hers was a name I had heard several years before in Denver art circles, and she had also heard of me because of my art. We had actually worked for competing art companies at that time and each of us had huge respect for the other. Her mother, Martine, initially interviewed me, with another person, a young guy named Troy, who worked in the gallery. It didn’t seem like an interview; it was like three people talking about art, laughing and trading insider stories. I felt right at home and in my element.

Several days later when Kerri came home from her trip to South Africa, she met me at the gallery looking all tan and safari-ish, blonde hair flying and blue eyes twinkling (not unlike my own) as she walked toward me. She sort of gave me a half-hug which reassured me, without saying, that she was in favor of adding me to her payroll. I was curious about her, wanted to know her better and I immediately had an inkling that we’d be great friends. After talking for an hour in a very un-interview sort of way, about our backgrounds and our current situations she gave me her stamp of approval and I was in. I knew it was the beginning of something lasting and important in my life.

We had been raised with similar values and in similar situations – country homes – mine in Indiana, hers in Colorado. Our fathers were forces of nature, heart-stoppingly handsome and in charge, married to curvaceous blonde, blue-eyed women who adored them, for a time, until it ended abruptly. Kerri and I had dovetailed memories of our wild and independent youths, not just riding our horses, but racing them at breakneck speeds across vast expanses of fields, hell-bent on getting nowhere in particular as fast as we could. We were each given great childhood freedom as we grew up; and we willingly took it. When we looked back, it seemed to border on parental neglect, but we didn’t know it at the time. Our parents, well, there was plenty of drinking, some infidelities by our fathers, divorces, fathers remarried, my mother did not, hers did. Did I say plenty of drinking?

Kerri was married, by just a hair, to a man named Max with whom she fell in and out of love and hate as if he was a bad bad movie with one unusual scene she could not stop watching. Their marriage changed as fast as the weather in Denver. Their marital climate bordered on, no it frequently arrived at verbal abuse, weekly it seemed, and I could not understand it, I could not keep up with its volatile nature and I was exposed to the toll it took on Kerri all the damn time. In my opinion it was irreversibly damaging to her. She had been robbed of the person she used to be; the confident woman who had big dreams and shining aspirations. I guess I was the only one who could help her find her true self again. She told me as much. We were kindred spirits.

The gallery was perfectly located, just outside the second floor entrance to Nordstrom and directly across from a busy wine bar/restaurant. I considered the position a cushy job. It took me five minutes to drive to work and I understood the business so well, from the inside out, what my duties and responsibilities were and where to get started. I felt confident and enthusiastic. On the days when Kerri and I worked together we bonded quickly, talking for hours on end and defining our vision for what the gallery could become. She had a wicked cackle of a laugh and I could always make her use it. I loved her like a long lost sister – she was smart and funny and she had been around the block of life a couple or three times at least. She was no fool. I could look across the gallery at her as she was making a sales pitch to someone and know instinctively when it was wise to interject a comment that would leverage the strategy she was using and help her close the sale; she could do the same for me. We also used eye contact and gestures back and forth during the day to remind each other of sales points and key words that we used successfully when we were dealing with customers. We were a team. There is an art to selling art; it is a delicate dance; people like to know how, where and why they need to make an expensive art purchase. It is a highly subjective decision but any sincerely delivered advice proves effective time and time again in swinging a customer from indecisive to certain. When big money is involved, as it usually is, long deliberation is the norm.

I thought Kerri’s mom was an interesting study. She was an aging beauty, a little worse for the wear, highly eccentric, constantly nervous with several tics she kept repeating as she spoke – a cracking of her neck to one side, a thing she did with her shoulders that went up and down and a tendency to lick her lips excessively. Perhaps a bit unstable and hair-triggered, I thought. Rather impulsive; a reactionary personality. She loved men and she hated them, exactly like my own mother. I could not quite figure her out but I certainly did not want to get on her bad side for any reason real or imagined, and I had a slight suspicion that could happen at the drop of a hat. Her mood swings came and went twenty times a day. She wore things that wrapped, she was always swaddled in a bunch of fabrics of varying color and pattern. I had no idea where she was inside all that. She looked like she was running a fever for lack of ventilation. She was perennially flushed.

The guy, Troy, who shaved his head and oiled it up until it was shiny chose his words carefully so as not to appear stupid, and was so obviously in love with Kerri that it hurt to watch him. She was entirely out of his league; he would have cleaned the floor with his tongue for her. I liked him, but he seemed unsophisticated and naïve, yet we needed him because he was our muscles. He made himself useful with framing, doing any heavy lifting and art deliveries for clients.

Then there was another employee named Sandra who was a lady wrestler in her off time, with an alias lady wrestler type name which cannot be repeated here. She was a little hard looking, tatted up and muscular but she could sell art til’ the cows came home. In fact she could not stop talking, but in sales that is sometimes a plus. After I began working there I found out that she was sort of on probation, in danger of losing her position, because she was a little on the undependable side. Her boyfriend Chung was a rock star in the world of wrestling, with his giant chiseled body, long lanky hair and dozens of piercings. He was a scary dude. Having him in the gallery occasionally to pick up Sandra was both an attraction and a detriment – crowds of (also pretty wacked out) wrestling fans who recognized him quickly formed a gang asking for his autograph but then other potential art buyers, more cultured and refined, bolted for the door. It was never a dull moment in there. Psychos to the left of me and freak show on the right, stuck in the middle…welcome to the art scene. It sometimes reminded me of the bar scene in one of the original Star Wars movies, and if Jar Jar Binks himself had walked in to apply for a job or purchase a painting I would not have given it a second thought. Thank you very much, I thought, glad to be back. This is going to be entertaining. Is it cocktail hour yet?

Kerri and her staff all put a lid on it and managed to look normal-ish and respectable on the surface while working in the gallery. But in the world of art the existence of an underbelly was not unusual at all. It was all part of the game. Kerri herself was my type of gal. We laughed at the same things, which was most often stories about the men who had come and gone in our lives, mostly come. She was taller than I, bosomy and blonde. At one point in her life she had modeled lingerie, and she still looked the part. At another point she had lived in L.A. and sold fine art to film stars and professional athletes, requiring flamboyance and show-biz tendencies. She knew the Stones and had spent an entire night with them in the bar of the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver after their concert, telling stories and talking about Africa. She always swore she hadn’t slept with any of them, but, well, I mean if any girl like Kerri or I ever had the chance to sleep with one of the Stones… you know. Who wouldn’t? ( I guess a lot of people wouldn’t, you are probably thinking.) Whether she did or not remains a mystery even to me. Ahem.

She had purchased the gallery because it was a screaming good deal based upon a track record of sales approaching a million for the two years prior to 9/11. Gallery sales in that range were unheard of in the Denver area at the time. But Kerri had charisma, the gallery had a large client list and she could sell art like no one I had ever seen. I also had that talent so we were unstoppable…for a while anyway. We were always working the phones; our strong database of customers kept coming back and we had the networking skills to grow it by leaps and bounds.

Kerri owned a large parcel of land in South Africa with her uncle Rob, a bold, adventurous man who I admired very much. He had been a helicopter pilot in the Viet Nam war, then a bush pilot in South Africa after that. He had many secret missions in his past and a list of friends in very high places in South Africa; he ran in the same circles with Nelson Mandela and his associates. He was snapping up real estate there and had homes in Cape Town and up near Kruger Park. Kerri traveled back and forth to and from Africa and I held down the gallery fort while she was away. She would sometimes call me on her cell phone while out in the bush sleeping in a tent and hold the phone out the tent opening so I could hear the lions huffing and roaring as they began their nightly killing rounds. We shared this love of all that was raw and primitive in Africa; I showed her clippings and articles I had been keeping since I was a small child in preparation for the trip I would someday take. Remember the film Born Free about the pride of lions? I watched that movie time after time in the same way that little girls these days watch FROZEN. We both liked to go where the wild things were, both figuratively and literally. We were a different breed of women.

I had never met anyone with whom I felt more connected, and certainly no one who could make me laugh as hard as Kerri. She had a devilish tendency that meshed nicely with her irreverent view of life; I had a tendency to take on life with a humorous slant, like a color-commentator at a sold-out sporting event, filling in the nuances around the main events. I must say that we made a unique “funny blondes with brains” team. On the days when we worked together we had a great time and sold a ton of art. When you can sell that much fine art and have such an extraordinarily hilarious time doing it, hang on to that. Under any other circumstances we’d still be making money hand over fist in that gallery. But shit happens.

By the time I was hired it was almost a year since the twin towers went down, and times were hard. Business fell off all over the country. Businesses in our mall were floundering and management refused to work with anyone on rent reductions. Shops were dropping like flies and closing their doors by the beginning of the holiday season in 2002. Our gallery rent was over ten thousand a month and it became impossible to cover that expense with our loss in sales. Art was the last thing on people’s minds after 9/11.

Kerri’s mom Martine proved to be a wing-nut and during my first holiday season managing the gallery when every person is needed on deck to make sales, she took off with only her toothbrush and some maxed out credit cards in her car headed north and west for parts unknown. It was a knee-jerk reaction to something that Kerri had said, some minor infraction of an unknown rule or expectation that the woman held in her mind, to which no one was allowed access. We knew that by the time she got twenty miles outside Denver she would have forgotten what it was that had so infuriated her, because according to Kerri this dash for the door and disappear thing had happened many times before. She was a serial escapee. She had actually been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder which I never understood. Bordering what? She seemed full blown to me, tipped completely over any kind of border. This time she didn’t return for a couple years, but constantly requested that money be sent to her for stuff she needed, like toothpaste and cars.

Troy, melancholy over Kerri’s lack of affection, attempted to kill himself by hanging in his apartment, after shaving off all the rest of his bodily hair and so he was also out of the picture. The fact that he was unsuccessful in his suicide attempt was so like him. Never quite able to get things efficiently done, sad as it was. We felt very badly for him and his perplexed parents, but Kerri could not offer him his old job back with that event on his track record. We were so lucky he didn’t try to do that in the gallery some night after everyone had left. We quickly lost track of him after that.

Sandra left too; we found out years later that she had been working in a monastery in the mountains outside L.A. with a bunch of intentionally mute monks who had taken vows of silence. What?? Her?? We only discovered that because while she was there she read one of my books and found that she knew the author, me, and one of the contributing writers, Kerri. The wonders of the so-called “coincidence” never cease to amaze me. So let’s get this straight – a hard-ass lady wrestler who could not stop yammering decides to live and work in a monastery where the monks take a vow of silence and yet she happens to be given a book I wrote many years later only to discover that she not only knew the author of it but also one of the contributing writers who was her old boss at a gallery in Denver during the time of 9/11. Seems a bit far-fetched to me, but it is true.

After that series of upheavals Kerri and I were left with one single woman employee who was timid and fear-based, unknowledgeable about art and downright mousey in appearance. She wore dowdy clothes and ultra-sensible shoes. She had originally been hired to work behind the scenes doing bookkeeping. She would sit at her backroom desk, one bony leg wrapped completely around the other one so that her foot was in front again; meticulous, near-sighted, nose to the computer, working on the books. One day we had to pull her, befuddled and horrified, out front to help with sales at a frantic moment when we just needed a person with a pulse who could write up several sales in a row as Kerri and I closed them, and she somehow stuck. She was unthreatening and ultra-shy which sometimes swung a sale or two in her favor, because her kind of customer instinctively sought her out.

Working that closely with Kerri and I in the front of the gallery was a shocking turn in her introverted career. She thought we were a couple of otherworldly wild and crazy women who had no moral compasses and no brain power whatsoever. She listened to our phone conversations, watched the parade of men coming and going who were not in the least bit there for art; we were not whores of course, but we were bold and flirty if it would make a sale for us. She was appalled on a daily basis, yet quite intrigued with her sudden entrance into a parallel universe she had never known. Her name was Dotty, poor thing.

We were fighting to keep the gallery doors open and one of our tactics was to bring in some new artist’s work. We wanted to attract a more varied clientele. I was sitting at my desk in the front one afternoon when Hans walked in the door. I. Could. Not. Even. Speak. He looked remarkably great, well of course he did, and I have to say that it was a day when so did I. We smiled rather largely at each other. He had to speak first, because I was mute as a monk with surprise.

 

A CANARY FLIES THE CANYON by Jo Ann Brown-Scott is earning 5 star reviews on Amazon and Kindle

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Your Life’s Collage

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Mixed Media Collage by Jo Ann Brown-Scott

I have always enjoyed mixing it up. I find it nearly impossible to swallow things whole without tweaking some little aspect here or there to achieve a unique recipe that appeals to my own particular sense of intellectual or aesthetic “rightness”. And we are not talking about food here folks.

I am hardly 100% anything.

My religion, if you can call it that, is a spiritual soup of many doctrines and beliefs. I am not strongly spouting off any hard and fast doctrines – there are aspects of Christianity, Buddhism, the Jewish faith and several others that when combined into one whole all work together quite nicely for me. I am a child of the universe. I believe the earth is alive – our hostess – breathing and in need of constant nurturing. We serve at the pleasure of the planet. And we are so disrespectful.

My art (my life-long passion) and the art of living my life are a collage of experiences which I stitch together as I go, adding new pieces of knowledge to the whole. Whenever a new snippet is added to the fabric I am weaving, everything that has gone before is slightly moved and adjusted and changed by the arrival of new information. Edges of things, sometimes cut and sometimes torn,  are overlapped and meticulously arranged; texture here – color there – lines naturally formed with paths of information and achievement and failure and loss and joy and wonder and discovery take my attention forward to the next thing. Texture, pattern and color are my  life’s manifestation of events – whether those events be happy, sad or somewhere in between. I see my experiences  in those artistic tactile dimensions.

Every single thing is of value to me. I do not miss much. I notice, I am aware. And I am often, daily and hourly and even minute by minute – AMAZED. Life is an ever-evolving tapestry – a blanket of layers – a textile of humankind. I am but one, but I am mighty.

Your life is the same. We all question things. Most of us  live in the space between the extremes of knowing absolutely and not knowing. I truly doubt that you are 100% anything at all, unless it is human. But there is great value in simply that.

Here is a quote from me, found at the PREFACE in my new novel A CANARY FLIES THE CANYON, available on Amazon and Kindle.  http://www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com

 

Mankind is on an eternal march;

a trail of humanity driven by instinct

and perhaps divine inspiration.

Although we are at time directionless,

straying randomly from the path

an internal compass guides our way

and we are actually at one with the stars,

purposely aligned and aware

of our place in the universe.

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Have You Found Your Place?

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Not to get all philosophical or anything heavy like that, but I would like to ask you one simple question.

Have you found your place? A place that fits you as securely and tightly and perfectly as that small round stone in the larger lava rock pictured above.

Not necessarily your place in life….you might call it your place in the universe; a place where you can go to feel whole. The place that feeds your soul, yes, with healthy soul food. The place that feeds your imagination, your sense of wonder, your artistic visions, your comfort, your need for adventure, your peaceful spiritual wanderings and your core beliefs about wanting what the good life here on Planet Earth has to offer.

If you have discovered the place or places that can do this for you then you are indeed fortunate to be blessed with a sanctuary. A priceless place of renewal and safety where you can go for spiritual reward. Hopefully you can visit it often – and maybe it is a place in your own backyard….I hope it is close enough so that you can be there as often as you might like. Perhaps you have a selection of places; a handful would be awesome.

Here are mine:

  • The Big Sur coastline of California, ending with a visit to NEPENTHE, perched at the top of the world, where you know. You just know things… For new awakenings.
  • The Big Island of Hawaii, on a selection of beaches along the Kona coast of my Specific Ocean. The vastness of it all. The sanctuary of the waves.
  • The Rocky Mountains, and a particular weekend retreat of renewal and refuge from the hectic life, located in the Conifer-Evergreen woods and canyons, elevation about 8300 ft. for the height and breadth and depth of it all.
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral in London for the enormous sense of time and faith it offers. Dust particles dancing in the sunlight, high up; having been there for centuries.
  • Santa Croce in Rome, housing the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo and other remarkable men, for respect of those who knew so much about life.
  • Angkor Wat in Siem Reap Cambodia for its sense of wonder and mystery. How could it have been undiscovered for so long? What was life there like?
  • The Buddha Tooth Temple in Singapore because it is one of the most fascinating peaceful places I have ever been.

I love to talk to people who have found their places. They are usually people anchored in knowing. They see things differently; more deeply. They are not necessarily religious, but they are wise in the ways of the universe. They know their way around and they know how to find serenity when they need it.

I hope you are one of those who knows.

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Mailing Christmas Gifts…a true story

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The line at the post office today, Saturday morning, was moderate – only about 15 people when I got there, at 9 am when it opened, but rapidly growing out the door as we stood waiting for our turns.

Among the various people in line was a woman on oxygen, a pleasant looking elderly gentleman in front of me with rosy cheeks and white hair (who actually looked a lot like Santa Claus), several women carrying lots of boxes to send, a huge tall man carrying one tiny little package and a lady who was already talking to anyone who would respond to her, making remarks about her career in the Marine core which was followed by an account of her many years working for the United States Post Office and then a current third career as a substitute teacher for kindergartners. She had to tell everyone about the kindergartners now days; how precocious they are and how advanced in their knowledge of the world they are. How cute, but how rambunctious and challenging they are.

The elderly gentleman in front of me chimed in and said that her job at the post office must have been quite difficult at Christmas time, and so then she told a few funny stories from back in the day when everything was simpler and easier during the holidays. She went on to say that now everything is computerized, but somehow things are more complicated than ever and they still get screwed up.

“I remember Lindberg’s flight,” the gentleman said, sort of placing his age on the timeline of life.

“Well he was a Nazi, you know,” she said.

The gentleman ignored that remark and said, “And I don’t even own a computer. I refuse. I do not want to learn about computers.”

“Well some day soon a computer will be installed in every home and it will be automatic that you have a computer and that you must learn to use one,” the lady ex-Marine/kindergarten teacher said to him….smiling.

“Oh I doubt very much that I will live that long,” the elderly gentleman answered.

Another person from behind us in the line chimed in, “Oh yes you will! You are lookin” pretty fit!”

That got a faint smile out of the gentleman.

Soon the entire line was in a group conversation; everyone contributing, laughing and talking to each other. It was a lovely thing to be a part of.

When the elderly gentleman got up to the counter for his turn, he put down in front of the postal clerk an assortment of mailed items – mailed by him – that had all been returned back to him by the USPS for some unknown reason. The postal clerk was aghast! How could that happen? He said that everything was in order on the computer, all addresses correct, all postage charges exactly as they should be so the problem was not postage due, and he could not understand why everything had been returned! The elderly gentleman said he was quite concerned because one of the packages was going to his daughter and it was very important – it contained his Will. How could he be sure it would get there the second time?

The clerk re-stamped everything, re-mailed it all again, assured the gentleman that all was perfectly correct, and as the elderly gentleman left everyone in line shook his hand and wished him a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and MANY MORE.