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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

Poetry, Writing, and Finding my Voice

This poetry in my art journal came about as a lightning bolt of inspiration over the weekend. I have been reading poetry (Mary Oliver, Hafez, Rumi), and writing in my journal, and knitting a lot. But I have done very little art journaling over the past 3 months. It is not that I was blocked. Rather, I was afraid of what might come out and didn’t want to face that. My work is intuitive, comes from inside of me, and at times it can plumb the depths of my soul.

change-poetry

I went to East Hampton Writers Guild Wednesday night after a 4 month absence. I was not sure that the group was going in a direction that I wanted to follow. And I am tired all the time, especially at the end of the work day, due to some new health problems that are going to take a long time to resolve. But I was glad I went and reconnected with the group which meets at the Bevin House. I went to see my writer friend Megan there on Saturday as I had some questions about my writing and wanted to talk. Megan is the innkeeper there and she has a wonderful blog here. We shared a lot (it was great!) and I came away from our visit feeling much better about myself and my writing. I wrote 2 poems Saturday night and I created the art journal page on Sunday.

Bevin-house-LR

My son and his wife gave me a year long subscription to Storyworth last year for Mother’s Day. There were weekly email prompts in a memoir vein that they preselected for me, and there is an app that lets you edit your stories and add photos. At the end of the year your writing and photos get bound into a physical book. It was an incredible amount of work and some of the prompts were difficult to answer, but it was very rewarding to see the finished book and hold it in my hands. Some of the writing is extremely personal so I can only share it with family.

storyworth-book

After creating the poetry art journal page, I was inspired to go back to Life Documented and pick up where I left off, at week 14. Life Documented is a year long art journal prompt blog site located here, with weekly prompts and monthly themes. The theme for July was butterflies and I did my own thing.

butterflies-LD14

I had an empty space in my stairwell and I remembered that I had two art quilts that were mirror images of each other, still in a box from the move 2 years ago. So I found those and I got them hung alongside the other quilt. It makes me smile to see them when I go up and down the stairs.

quilts-in-stairwell

Art Retreat – Squam Art Workshops

I attended an art retreat last week and it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I went to Squam Art Workshops (link) at Rockywold-Deephaven Camps on Squam Lake, New Hampshire, just below the White Mountains. It is hard to describe the experience in words.

This was my first time at Squam and it was amazing. 200 women from all over the country gathered in the woods, staying in small cabins, taking art and fiber classes, and enjoying the community of creative and kindred souls. I made new friends there and it was truly a magical and life-changing experience.

There was a beautiful dreamcatcher filled with wishes written on paper feather shapes, gently rustling in the wind. The wishes were added by Squamees from last year and this year.

“dreamcatcher”

There were chalkboards echoing the sentiment of the day. This one was my favorite.

Chalk board

This was West Water, our waterfront cabin tucked away in the woods. My cabin-mates were wonderful! We had a bat in our room the first night so we had to call staff at 11:30pm to come and safely remove him. It was a little scary but we were fine.

Cabin

There were several ice houses that store ice blocks harvested from the lake the winter before. Kept in sawdust, the ice blocks are used in the old fashioned ice boxes in the guest cabins.

Ice house

Paths through the woods led to classes and other activities. It was very special finding your way through the forest. There were chipmunks everywhere, the sound of birds was in the air, and you could hear the loons on the lake.

Path

The lake is magical and beautiful. We had a dock behind our cabin at the edge of the lake, to sit on, talk with newly found friends, and contemplate the universe. It was heaven. What more can I say?

Lake view

Here is the landscape painting I created in my class with Karin Olah. It is acrylic paint on canvas with fabric collage glued on top. I also took a knitting class and made a small shawl sample, learning new techniques. There were also spontaneous knitting and sewing sessions here and there with great camaraderie.

Landscape Layers

I made a short video, my first actually, of the panoramic view from the back of my cabin. I am so happy to share my impressions with you.

Finding My Inner Compass

I have been going off in a lot of different directions over the past month and I feel a strong pull towards finding my inner compass. I want to do everything but I can’t do everything. I want to create art, I want to knit, I want to make quilts, I want to write, I want to read, I want to take classes, I want to socialize, I want to be a part of things, I want to pull back into myself, I want to center myself, I want to focus, I want to grow.

I am already taking three classes and am behind in all of them but today I decided to sign up for a one day Visual Journaling workshop with Kathryn Costa at True North Arts. Kathryn has been my friend for years and she shares her refreshing outlook on life on her blog and in her 100 Mandalas community. This will be a great way to recenter and find my compass.

ATC Georgia O’Keeffe quote

I have been thinking a lot about friendship and what it means to me. I have a lot of friends but I don’t usually get too close to people. I don’t feel comfortable sharing a lot of things about myself and that is just the way I am. At times I have found myself wishing I could be more open but I don’t want to be like everybody else. I want to be me. A few close friends is really all you need. One advantage of being an introvert is that I am both perceptive and a good listener, and those are qualities that make me a good friend.

GHQG quilt retreat 2018

I went to a four day quilt retreat at the Ivoryton Retreat and Conference Center at the end of April. There were old friends and new working on many colorful quilts. Everyone brought their own sewing machine and quilting projects to work on. I brought way too much stuff as I was not sure how long it would take me to complete each project.

Mom memorabilia 2nd

This memory quilt about my mom has been waiting to be finished for some time now. All that it needed was the binding but I needed to be sure that it didn’t need to have any more buttons sewn on before I could finish. I have mom’s button collection and she had sorted the buttons by color – they look lovely!

Lattice quilt mary

This lattice quilt took up most of my time at the retreat and more time when I got home. It is made from floral fabrics from mom’s sewing room and was started at the March quilt retreat at Camp Hazen. It was a lot of work to put this together – there are 196 blocks in all. The ones I made for my sisters had 120 blocks and were oversize lap/couch quilts. This quilt is going on my four poster double bed. My friend Laura is machine quilting it as she has a long arm machine.

Spring Quilt Show

It snowed again on Friday and everyone in Connecticut is wondering when spring will arrive as it is delayed this year. It is cold out and indoor activities involving art or quilts are perfect right now.

I went to a quilt show at the Haddam Neck Congregational Church today. It was so nice to see all of the colorful quilts draped over the pews and hanging from the rafters. I enjoyed some homemade soup and bread in the tea room and that was a wonderful treat.

Haddam-Neck-quilt-show-2018

This crazy quilt caught my eye with all of the embroidery stitches and embellishments. These quilts were popular at the turn of the 19th century and were found in many Victorian era homes, often displayed in the front parlor.

HN-quilt-show-CQ

I enjoy embellishing quilts and small items. I am adding beads to two quilts right now but they are not far enough along for a photo. Here is a little embellished jewelry pouch that I made a while ago.

Jewelry pouch

I am slowly redecorating the sewing room/ art studio/ home office. I got this chair for the sewing table on clearance at Staples on the way home from work one day. I had been using folding chairs with not much padding and they were not very comfortable. This was a big improvement! I want my art space to feel good and be conducive to my creativity.

Sewing-chair

I got an armless swivel chair for the desk from Amazon. It’s a tight space and there was no room for a chair with arms. This is perfect for me. My next purchase is a 2’ x 3’ bulletin board which will arrive on Wednesday. I can use it as an ever changing vision board. It is going to hang vertically above the art table. I try to stick to a budget so I do a little research to find the best value and price for an item.

Desk-chair