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On the Wings of Change

Mercy spring daffodils

I am flying on the wings of change, cresting the waves and listening to the small sounds of the quiet voice inside. How did I get to this place? Where am I going? What is this magic in knowing and not knowing, faith in doubt, belief in uncertainty?

It is as if the universe has opened up before me, a clear path appearing in the mist, the broken wings healing. The  renewal of change is beckoning. The whole world looks different from this new vantage point. There are possibilities where there were none before. It’s not that they weren’t there – I just couldn’t see clear to the other side.

The path is not without its twists and turns. It is not necessarily the easy path or the one most people would take. It is not about doing what others expect us to do. It is about following our own heart and the voice inside. One needs stillness and quiet to even hear that voice amidst all the noise and chaos in this world. It is above all about being true to oneself.

Sears Park May

I am working on changing and rearranging my life so that I will have the emotional space to write and to create art. Some things are in place and a few things need a little more time. Having patience can be a challenge, especially when it has been a long journey and  you are excited about the possibilities that are now unfolding.

There are things that I need to let go of and move on. There are things that I need to embrace. Knowing the difference and making it happen is empowering. As Father Dempsey said in a homily at St. Mary Church a few years ago….

No matter the past, no matter the present

The future can be different —

There is always the possibility for change.

 

art journal quote change

I am very grateful to everyone who has provided support and encouragement as I step onto my new path and move forward. You have given me the courage and strength to embrace the wings of change, bringing growth and new direction.

Going with the Flow

quote life you planned

Anyone who knows me well is aware that going with the flow is a huge challenge for me. I plan everything out to the smallest detail. I keep running to do lists that I constantly update, adding new tasks as they come up  and removing tasks that have been accomplished. When something does not go according to plan, I take a step back, evaluate, and readjust my plans.

Since the Mindfulness retreat last fall, and the Prayer and Reflection retreat in March, I have been  exploring a new way of being that involves going with the flow. Because of this, new opportunities have appeared on the horizon that were not part of my plans or even on my radar screen. When you are busy working on preconceived notions of how your life should be, you don’t notice the small whispers or the winds of change blowing your way. You look, but you don’t see. You go through the motions, but you don’t experience life to its fullest.

Things are happening in my life that I could not have envisioned 6 months ago. I was complacent. I was asleep. I was focusing on a small part of my world and unaware of all that life holds.

quilt near yet far

Today is Easter Sunday in the Christian tradition, celebrating the resurrection of Christ.  Usually I just go to Easter mass but this year I participated in Holy Week. I went on an ecumenical Cross walk on Good Friday and we visited 5 churches around town. Different priests and ministers took turns telling a real world story and then we read a prayer from the handout to cover each of the 14 stations of the cross. Story topics included immigrants/ refugees, human trafficking, environment/ climate change, mass incarceration in the U.S., abuse, social justice, racial inequality, etc.  It was very moving. The underlying message was that churches need to take action on these issues.

I attended the Easter Vigil mass last night, something I discovered a few years ago. It starts with a sacred fire outside of the church and passing the light from candle to candle throughout the gathering of people. Then there is a procession into the dark church. I remember the first time I attended and it was quite moving. It is a long mass with a lot of readings and there is a lot of singing. One year I sang in the church choir at Easter and that was really special. Everything looks different when you are sitting up front in the choir.

quilt northern lights

I look forward to sharing more news with you as changes unfold. I have small plans and big plans, and they are rooted in going with the flow and based upon a new way of looking at life.

Prayer and Reflection Retreat

Mercy by the Sea stained glass

At the beginning of March, I attended a self guided prayer and reflection retreat weekend at Mercy by the Sea in Madison, Connecticut. I arrived at Mercy before a snowstorm that came late Friday night into Saturday, and I left Sunday morning before another snowstorm came Sunday night. The snow made the retreat setting extremely peaceful and invited introspection. I visited the chapel for prayer several times during the course of my stay there and was able to talk with God and feel a connection again. I lost my faith and spirituality a year and a half ago while dealing with serious illness. My faith and spirituality has slowly come back to me over time.

Mercy by the Sea

The weekend was transformational for me. The other retreat participants were each there for their own reasons, and that formed a common bond, a community. We shared meals in the dining hall and light conversation. I had a lovely room overlooking the courtyard and the sea beyond. I walked the grounds Friday before dinner, visiting the ocean and the labyrinth. It was cold outside and the air felt like snow.

Mercy by the Sea snow

In the morning I woke up to a blanket of snow outside. It was lovely watching the snow gently falling from vantage points inside the Seaside Room and the Grant Living Room. I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. I had brought my journal along with my year end Unraveling Your Year 2019 workbook from  Susannah Conway. I had started the year end journaling in December but only made it partway through. So I set an intention  to complete the journaling in the workbook over the weekend. Between my journal and the year end workbook, I wrote 30 pages in all. I have never written so much in my entire life. It was very freeing and brought great focus and awareness – it was like getting to know myself all over again. I went home with a feeling of peace and serenity.

Crossroads quilt

This quilt hangs in my art/quilt studio and it is called Crossroads. I made it quite a while ago when I as at a crossroads in my life (one of many). I am facing some new challenges and decisions right now, actually quite a few challenges, some big and some small. My direction is clear on some of these challenges and not so clear on others. My health and self care is a huge priority and I need to consider that in everything  I do. Perhaps the biggest question for me is how do I want to spend my time and how do I balance things out? Not just creatively, but in my whole life. I want to art journal. I want to make quilts. I want to be in local groups. I want to be in online groups. I want to write. I want time for family and friends. I want to spend time at the lake (when it warms up). I can’t work a full time job forever and stay balanced and I need to face up to that. It takes time to adjust and to change your compass point.

Finding Beauty in Simple Things

Think about holding a simple stone from the beach in the palm of your hand. Or some other ordinary object that holds meaning for you. What thoughts and feelings arise from contemplating such a simple object in this way? Can a stone or some other ordinary object become a touchstone for you? These are some ideas that are uncovered and come to light in Gunilla Norris’  simple yet profound book, Simple Ways.

Books February 2019

I love books and the worlds that they open up and transport you to. I love seeing words flowing down a page… in my journals, in print, and online. Although there is nothing like holding a book in your hand.  From an early age I was always a voracious reader and as a child I treasured family trips to the library with my parents. To this day I am fascinated by wandering through the rows of books on the bookshelves at the library, and  I have my own small library on IKEA bookshelves in my art studio,

I have been reading an interesting art book that my children gave me for Christmas. It is called Wabi-Sabi Art Workshop by  Serena Barton. She presents mixed media techniques for embracing imperfection and celebrating happy accidents. In the sidebars in the book she has various haiku quotes, and this inspired me to gather haiku quotes online and make another altered card deck.

Haiku cherries blossom

I love making themed card decks and have made about 6 now. I start with an ordinary deck of playing cards from the dollar store or pharmacy. I gather quotes, words, phrases, or affirmations. Then I add paper, paint, glue, and whatever resonates with me at the moment. These haiku cards were made from previously painted gelli  plate papers, glue stick, some 70lb paper (I bought a ream from a paper supply store), a pigma pen, and a brayer. To paint directly on the cards, you need to coat them with gesso first so that the paint will stick to the cards.

Haiku cards set 3x4

I am taking Book of Days 2019, a year long art journaling class hosted by Effy Wild. I enjoy taking classes with Effy and she provides great jumping off points of inspiration for me. This is my January spread and it features my one word for 2019, hope. I blogged about my one word in January. Hope represents renewal and growth for me in the coming year.

Book of Days January 2019


Losing Sight of Shore

I watched Losing Sight of Shore on Netflix last night, a documentary about four  women (six in all with crew changes) who rowed from San Francisco to Australia, with stops in Hawaii and Samoa. They were on the ocean traveling for 274 days and it was an amazing story. It reaffirmed my belief that a woman can do anything that she puts her mind to, no matter how large the obstacles or barriers in her way.

I would like to share an excerpt of a post from my previous blog. The post was written over 4 years ago and it speaks to impermanence, change, challenges, and not giving up. Prior to maryart life, and before that blogspot, I had a proprietary blog hosted with my website on a major hosting platform for eight years. When I moved my website hosting to the current location to obtain WordPress hosting, that blog no longer existed. But I PDF’d all of the posts before disconnecting and saved them on my hard drive and flash drive backup.

The Impermanence of Things, October 2014

NBMAA Wall of Cups

The wall of cups at the New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA) is gone. It had been there in the stairwell for a long while and I knew it was temporary but I was still sad to see it go. I found this picture I took of it the first time I saw it. It’s an installation piece and the entire piece was made of plastic drinking cups that are adhered to the wall in a swirling pattern. It was fascinating to walk around it and look at it and I wish that I had more photos but I don’t. But I will always have my memories of being in the same space as this beautiful work of art and what I was feeling at that time. It does speak to the ephemeral nature of life and the impermanence of things. All things must pass and nothing lasts forever. It is so important to enjoy what you have and the people in your life and be thankful.

You can see the edge of the blue Chihuly glass sculpture on the left side of the wall of cups photo. To fill the void left by the removal of the wall of cups , they brought in a companion Chihuly piece to share space with the existing sculpture. The two glass sculptures are quite striking appearing together like this, as if in a dance of light. When two people come together with feelings of love they each bring their own light with them and together they make a greater light that is more than what was there before. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And yes, that is how I feel and I hope somehow you know this and understand.

NBMAA Chihuly Glass 1

It was a delightful day at the museum bringing warm thoughts and feelings to my heart. A day like this lets you leave worries behind and rejoice in being alive. It also makes you realize what is important and what isn’t worth getting upset about. I do fine hand work and like to embellish my small quilts with beads, buttons, charms, yarn, sea glass, shells, and other things, but I have not been able to sew with a hand sewing needle, except with great difficulty, for about a year now. See my quilt/fiber handwork here. I am finally facing up to the problem with my hand not being successfully treated by the regular doctor, so I am seeing a hand surgeon on Friday to talk about my options and schedule surgery. I need to be able to sew little objects onto things, not just quilts but paper too, so I am going for it! Glue is fine but stitching is more permanent, even in an impermanent world. [Today I would like to add a note that my surgeon recommended alternative treatment and my hand is working much better now. I can hold a needle and my manual dexterity is much better.]

NBMAA Chihuly Glass 2

One Word, Begin Now, Write Now

New Year’s Day 2019 lake

After many days of holiday celebrations with family members, I spent a quiet New Years at home, with my journals, and my books, and Netflix. The words “one word, begin now, write now” encapsulate where I am at this exact  moment in time. I have been reaching back into the past and looking forward to the future, in an effort to collapse time and bring everything together into one cohesive whole in the present. It is not easy to do, and I ask myself, where have I been (and how can I reframe the difficult passages in a more positive light), and where am I going  ( I don’t really know, but I am restless and feel incredible transformational shifts happening inside).

It is almost as if the sky has ripped open before me and this amazing and blinding light has surrounded  me and shown me all of the grace and beauty of the person who lives  inside of me, that person  who hides from the world and the insensitivity of others. I am very humble and unassuming, so it is a bit daunting to see myself in this magnificent way. In my Life Book art community, Tam  echoes the sentiments that nurture us: you are worthy, you are enough, you are are loved, you are strong, you are whole, you are healing, you are a beautiful being.

One word 2019 hope

My one word for 2019 is hope. I have been choosing a word to guide me through the coming year since 2010, so this is my tenth year. Previous  blog posts about my one word choices can be seen here. It was very easy to choose a word this year, as I am hopeful about a lot of things happening in my life… a new (my first) grandchild, more time with family, slow improvements in my health, renewed creativity, more writing, deepening of new friendships, renewal of old friendships, strengthening  of my boundaries, and letting go of everything that no longer serves me.

Begin now card

I love card decks. I have a half dozen purchased oracle decks and I have created 5 mixed media altered playing card decks of my own. This morning I pulled this card from the Denise Linn Sacred Traveler Oracle Card deck. The artwork in the deck is exquisite. The Begin Now card is so relevant for me and refers to the Lao Tzu quote “ A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” How appropriate for me as I have been doing a lot of thinking and planning but have been unable to take that first step.

Unraveling 2019 page

I have been journaling in my Unravel Your Year 2019 workbook, an annual free offering from the amazing Susannah Conway, her website is here. I am also taking her Blogging from the Heart e-course right now and reading her book, This I Know, Notes on Unraveling the Heart. I was unable to face doing this end of year journal  last year with what was going on in my life, but I am embracing it this year. There are a lot of things in this 60 page journal that I can’t share, hence the blurred text. By the way, this is what a page of text looks like for me without my reading glasses.

I would like to be brave and share one workbook writing prompt entry. How has your life changed? What have you learned about yourself?

My life has been quieter and more laid back. I have been more introspective and choosy about how I spend my time and who I spend it with. I have been practicing mindfulness. I have been knitting a lot and really enjoying it. I am learning to trust B. and feel more comfortable with him. I have learned that I am strong, courageous, gentle, caring. I am becoming a good writer. I am open to new possibilities. I am happy and content.

 

 

 

Christmas and Winter Solstice in Connecticut

Christmas card 2018

This is my family and I celebrate them all year long and especially at Christmas. There is so much love here. My son Joe and his wife Aurora are expecting a baby in February and I am so excited that I will become a grandma. I am so happy about having a baby join the family. My daughter Marianne is going to become an aunt and that is special for her too.

Christmas cactus 2018

My Christmas cactus is blooming in the big window in the livingroom. I bought it at a lovely florist shop last year in November while waiting for the yarn shop next door to open. If there was an early bird, that would be me. This is the first year it has bloomed for me and I love the first sign of buds when they appear.

Last night I attended the winter solstice mandala celebration hosted by my friend Kathryn Costa of True North Arts here and the 100 Mandalas community here. It was a live video conference and during the event we had time to color the seed mandala that Kathryn had provided us beforehand. The words just flowed out for me and creating this winter solstice mandala gave me a very peaceful feeling.

Hammonasset in Fall Light

Hammonasset looks different in the fall light. The sun is lower in the sky in October in the northern hemisphere and the colors of land, sea, and sky take on a magical quality. The sky was partially cloudy that day, but the light coming from behind the clouds made the clouds glow. The sky was particularly beautiful and entrancing.

Hammonasset Oct 2018

There was a precarious cairn perched on top of a rock near the edge of the sea. The structure had a delicate balance and looked like it could topple over at any moment. The rock cairns appear and then disappear frequently. They are ephemeral in nature and not meant to last for very long.

Hammonasset Oct 2018

Sometimes I stop along the path and sit on a driftwood log on one of the rocky shell beaches. I listen to the waves on the rocks, watch the seagulls fly, and look out towards the horizon where I can see the faint outline of Long Island, about 20 miles across the sound. On the left I can see the jetty and lighthouse at Saybrook Point. It gives me comfort to be in this place and connect with myself, the me inside who can get ignored and wants to be heard.

Hammonasset Oct 2018

There were monarch butterflies everywhere and one landed on the arm of my colorful quilted jacket and stayed there a while. Each fall, millions of monarch butterflies leave their summer breeding grounds in the northeastern U.S. and Canada and travel upwards of 3,000 miles to reach overwintering grounds in southwestern Mexico.

Hammonasset Oct 2018

Further along the path, the clouds took on a shade of purple, my favorite color. The sky kept changing as I walked along… sometimes darker, sometimes light, sometimes with wispy strands of clouds stretching out forever and sometimes with blue sky breaking through.

Hammonasset Oct 2018

I don’t know why, but everything looks different on the return trip. It is as if something has changed and you notice things that you didn’t see before. There is a feeling of coming home, of arriving, of coming back into yourself after being away. This is what I seek when I come here.

Hammonasset Oct 2018

This is the entrance to the path, and it is only accessible around low tide. This area becomes covered with water as the tide rolls in, making most of the path inaccessible. I always check the tide charts before I come for a visit so that I can walk the path. Some people are like that… they are only accessible at certain times and other times they are closed off. It is not easy to reach out to someone like that.

Hammonasset Oct 2018

The labyrinth at Hammonasset has grown and changed over the years. It is breathtaking! It is hard to believe it has been one year since my last visit, see blog post here. I don’t usually let that much time go by. A lot has happened since then.

Hammonasset Oct 2018

I am still struggling with health issues but I am hopeful that everything will work out for me. I am starting to see small glimpses of feeling better… there is a little more lightness in my step, and the fatigue is starting to lessen. Slowly my energy is returning and I am able to do more of the things that I want to do.

Hammonasset Oct 2018

Mindfulness Retreat Weekend

I have been seeking out new experiences this year so I decided to attend a mindfulness retreat weekend two weeks ago at Mercy by the Sea in Madison, Connecticut. I have been there a few times before (see Contemplation and Renewal blog post) and it is a very peaceful place. I don’t know much about mindfulness or meditation, but I have been reading a little bit about the health benefits and thought I would try it. I chose a weekend retreat instead of a one day retreat because I wanted it to be an immersive experience. And it was.

When I walked into the room, I was struck by the peacefulness and calm that emanated from the carefully arranged circle in the room. There were 18 participants and we were led by Dr. Jerry Silbert and Roberta Silbert, a husband and wife team who specialize in integrative medicine. Members of our group came from Connecticut, New York City, Albany, Providence, and Massachusetts, and we formed community over the weekend. It was very special.

mindfulness circle

In the beginning I was somewhat apprehensive about the whole thing and didn’t know if I would be able to focus, sit still, or be silent. We spent a lot of the retreat in silence while following guided meditations presented by Jerry and Roberta. We took our meals in silence and that was very strange. We learned a lot of different meditation techniques that were surprisingly easy to do. Some of the meditation exercises were held indoors and some happened outdoors… it was such a beautiful day. There was sharing time at various stopping points where we went around the circle and talked about what we were experiencing.

mindfulness clouds

It got deep, and people were able to share what was coming up for them in meditation, and how it related to their lives. Some spoke more eloquently than others, but everyone shared significant things and it was truly moving. I had trouble getting the words out at times and chose to focus my sharing on my health issues, leaving a lot of other things unspoken, as that is what felt safe to me.

mindfulness shoreline

There was not very much free time in what was a very full weekend schedule, starting before breakfast and ending in the evening a few hours after dinner. I felt that closing in on me at times as I need a fair amount of alone time to feel centered in myself. Several of us broke away for a walk out to the road after dinner and we broke the silence and talked quite a bit, hushing ourselves as we returned to the door of the retreat house. It was very freeing.

mindfulness cairns

On Sunday morning, I woke up early and went down to the dining hall to get a cup of coffee. I noticed the red edge of the sun just cresting the horizon as I made my way through the rooms downstairs. So I raced upstairs to my room, grabbed my camera, and ran outside, like a little girl who has found a treasure on the beach. I watched the sunrise in awe and felt the presence of God.

mindfulness sunrise

The quality of the early morning light was ethereal and cast soft light and shadows over everything. I watched the light filter through the trees and felt that my life was taking another turn. I don’t know what lies ahead but I felt change and renewal on the horizon. Renew is my one word for 2018 (see Renew – One Word for 2018 blog post).

mindfulness light through trees

Growing through Life

August and summer are gently but quietly coming to a close. I have been going through a lot of changes and realized I am growing through my life experiences, essentially growing through life.

A lot of people in my online creative communities talk about setting up an altar in their home, a touchstone place where you can connect with self and find your center. I was curious about the idea but not really interested in finding a place to set up an altar in my home. When I looked around, I was surprised to find that I already had an altar in the deep window in my living room. It is filled with books, art journals, family photos, my yarn bowl, a Christmas cactus, a few amigurumi, and other special items.

window-altar

I have taken a hiatus from painting this summer and have not been creating a lot of art, but I took two online collage classes. It is refreshing to do something different as it is easy to get into a rut doing the same thing for a long while. Life is like that. It is always good to get a new perspective on things and see things in a different way. I have been very introspective and questioning this summer, doing a lot of private written journaling to find discernment and work through some issues, and growing into the person I am becoming. Change, although difficult, brings growth and renewal of life. I sometimes wish I could share easily like others do, but I am not like that. Fortunately, I have a few people in my life who understand.

The first class I took was the Vision Journal Workshop with Kathryn Costa. I have known Kathryn almost 10 years, although we have never met in person, and I enjoy following her creative adventures. Catherine mails out a physical envelope with goodies inside to class participants. The workshop can be found here. This butterfly and saying cut out of a magazine expresses how I was feeling at the time.

vision-journal-butterfly

Tell It Collage with Liz Lamoreaux was inspirational for me. Her class gently encourages you to glue in scraps of saved papers, photos that are meaningful to you, and anything that you might have on hand. It was very freeing and I had a blast playing with my journal. The workshop can be found here. The tree and wonderful saying were cut out of an old calendar. I have several art bins filled with found papers and things like this.

collage-tell-it

This spread is also from Tell It Collage. We were encouraged to free write about ourselves and I just let the words flow out from my hand through my uniball signo pen. I love pens and have a wide variety of them on hand, having collected them over time.

collage-about-me

This is another spread from Tell It Collage. The paper on the right was painted from my Gelli plate. I have a stack of these papers saved in one of my art bins and they add a lot of dimension to a piece. The photo of my hand holding the shells and the snippet of my artwork are from a trip to Hammonasset Park on Long Island Sound, see post here. It is a touchstone place where I go to recenter and find balance.

collage-hand-shells