Creative Strength

I have a long and storied history of orthopedic injury and pain. It’s part of me by now, like the color of my eyes and the freckles on my skin. Guided by pain I discovered healing movement alternatives and wholeness through the meditation of making art. I’m drawn to performance too, mostly as an appreciative observer; “mostly” snags a bit at the back of my mind. Meanwhile, on a recent weekend in Providence, RI a discipline previously unknown to me came into view. PVDFest provides a weekend art potpourri to the downtown scene and I was lucky to enjoy a sway poles performance for the first time. All the elements of strength, grace, coordination and drama are present in the visual storytelling. Opening my eyes to new avenues of creative work inspires me in my daily life.

 

 

http://first-works.org/pvdfest-2018/australias-sway-poles/

https://www.facebook.com/thispageisaboutwords/?hc_ref=ARQpI9cn3RTvhXOGbID-EZeCv765AvLxwWeoLn9B0IslXjtxSlx4k8mTz8AUGkd880s&fref=nf

#alwayslearning

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Lost Your Marbles?

If there is one thing I enjoy it’s cross training my brain. I love a good routine as much as the next person, but my brain on repeat goes a bit numb from time to time and then I crave a shift of perspective. It ends up to be time well spent when creative solutions to mental blocks come into view as a result.

On a recent Sunday I spent all day at fabric marbeling workshop with other like-minded students. And, wow, did my brain explode with the color options. A day at the studio, learning a new form of expression by manipulating charged water, surface tension and and tools both classic and inventive, left me replete with satisfaction.

Hand-eye coordination is greatly underrated, in fact we take it for granted as we sit at our screens. How wonderful to see so many possibilities unfold in a reflecting pool!

 

Cultural Education Outreach

#Always Learning

http://hajosyarts.com/

http://www.laterbloomer.com/

 

Creative Life Matters

 

Get set for the creative challenge of your life!

What’s onboard your lifetrain this season? Is a major move imminent? Are you downsizing? Maybe this is the year of a grand bucketlist vacation? Or maybe instead the staycation to remember??

Whether you’re basking in the familiar setting of an annual coastal break, heading inland to a treasured family outpost in the hills or enjoying the festival season in your favorite city…. now is the time to see it all through fresh eyes.

Reboot your senses, shake off the grey skies, block off the media and look around you. Take a walk and keep alert for 5 random bits of color.  — pick it up, snap a photo, put a frame around them — Enjoy an impromptu still life that reflects You.

 

Cultural Education Outreach

#Always Learning

 

 

Welcome Yule

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It’s no secret, the change of seasons influences us all profoundly. No matter how hard we work to maintain a constant environment with regulated temperatures, a ready light source and an abundant variety of food to suit every taste, stepping outside our chosen hives of activity we confront the day before us.

The Winter Solstice  arrives December 21 at 11:28 am. EST. Take a breath. Here in New England the air is crisp and dry. The sun has a different slant. The colors have begun leeching from the landscape, leaving only the evergreens. A flurry has left behind a tidal wash of snowy icing here and there.

There it is. Winter is here. This is the Shortest Day. The time for Revelling is at its peak!

Change, I’ve often written, is our only constant. Take comfort in this one sure thing. Some may despair while others celebrate. We cope and hope and look to the new day. May you praise the moments of light, embrace the warmth in the presence of caring individuals, feel all the way to your bones the music of the season and cherish the moments of stillness in the aftermath.

When the festivities fade let the curtain close, take the time to replenish your energies and gather the fuel to grow and renew your forward motion.

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Do No Harm  

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”  Voltaire

Compassion and kindness are not soft, they are strengths. We need them in our personal lives and in community. We need to show ourselves that same compassion. The internal critic can be a harsh taskmaster and deflecting it onto others to avoid its judgement does not relieve the pressure, it only tarnishes us further.

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Be Here Now

“I am a beginner on the path”  Ram Dass

After the big moments are ended, avoid the letdown by looking for the small moments. Cherish with gratitude the ordinary. We’re granted the reliability of a perpetually turning Planet Earth. There is a reason to celebrate this quiet victory: find it and savor it.

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Give the Gift of Time

“Hope springs eternal”  Alexander Pope

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac our winter will be very very cold but without much snow. We shall find out in due course. I may have to declare a few personal “snow days”  because I cherish the enforced time of stopping in winter. To be fallow is not idleness. We all need time to let the noise pass through us and allow deep knowledge to settle. Experience the simple beauty of nature to emerge refreshed and inspired.

I’m full of quotes today!`From the recesses of my brain I pull this out. It’s The Sound of Music.  “Nothing comes from, Nothing ever could”  Richard Rodgers

Do something good for someone. Make it a practice for the New Year.

Happy Solstice, Happy Holidays to all.

Welcome Yule!!

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With Love and Hope,

Claire

All Photos by Claire Mauro

P.S. May you experience a true Jolabokaflod –  a Book Flood of reading to light the winter darkness.

 

On the Sillyside of the Street

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Beary on the Common

There’s been a lot of justifiable seriousness to women’s conversations lately, aka the entire year, aka a lifetime. The relentless triggering of past trauma is a drain on our energies and real block to forward momentum in our lives. Sometimes no amount of mindful techniques, nature walks or power boot camp gym time will work for very long. If you can’t sit still for spa-like self care, what’s the alternative?

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Lizzie and Me

That’s when it’s time for a walk on the sillyside. This is a free practice- it needs no alcohol, chocolate, expensive clothes or elaborate props. Sustained laughter with a willing companion who can see the humor in the ordinary is the most valuable commodity. Being able to have a whimsical or offbeat take on the travails of daily life is a skill vastly underrated in the competitive world adults must dwell in.

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Pottery Magic

Women today are very careful to project the professionalism that creates the proper boundary in a world too eager to capitalize on weakness, shortcomings and embarrassing moments for personal gain. When can we relax when social occasions can turn into one up-womanship with questions about how many children, work responsibilities, hours on the job, number of high profile clients, etc.

Please, must we go there?

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King Arthur Flour on the Road — biggest spatula?

A trusted friend who knows how to laugh with you rather than at you is the most precious commodity today. I have a dear friend who always greets my phone call with smile in her voice. The occasional costume opportunity or themed party food are embraced with exuberance. We feel safe dropping our guard and quickly our conversation becomes high volume, punctuated with hearty laughs. When we get into the car for a road trip oftentimes we are laughing so much we miss our exit and have to double back or take elaborate detours. Turning our latest family concerns or work frustrations into humorous anecdotes allows us to gain perspective and move into a more joyful frame of mind.

A quirky sense of gentle fun is often stock-in-trade in the children’s book world. Childhood favorites have the advantage of being familiar and yielding fresh insights. Ann Hood illustrates this well in her memoir, Morningstar. Treasured books from young childhood have a special pleasure. When we long for a kinder, simpler world we can find it again in the wonder of experiencing the world with new eyes. Very often it’s stories about animals embodying human traits that give a child permission to be true to themselves. One favorite such book is The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. Sometimes it’s about reaching for the future, as in Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. By connecting to the values we teach children we can restore our sense of hope for the future of the adult world to come.

Joyfully,

Claire

P.S. When December arrives I’ll be in line to see the animated version of Leaf’s tale, Ferdinand. How will it compare to the 1938 Disney classic, Ferdinand the Bull?

What’s your favorite sillyside practice??

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Book covers from publishers. Photos by Claire Mauro

 

Maker Mind

Harvest Chicken SOup

Harvest Chicken Soup

Gathering the Harvest in the Autumn is a ritual joy, a riot of color with red apples, deep orange pumpkins, yellow gourds and green cold weather vegetables. They also are most commonly local, fresh picked and very tasty. Take advantage of that anyway you can.

There’s a contentment that comes with being in tune with the cycle of the seasons. At the harvest we can focus on collecting the abundance to enjoy while the gardens and farms recover their energies for the next round.

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Late Harvest Assortment

Collecting our thoughts and reflections on the season of action just passed is another aspect of this process. For me initial reflections have led to drawing upon my root values and passions. In my outreach work I strive to provide a viewpoint and some action steps for those who are seeking them. I’ve come to see it’s a starting point for change. Community is not one voice but many voices and there has to be variety to hear what’s true for you.

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Applesauce

Creative thinking is one aspect of the need for connection, one that opens up conversation. Another is moving the body. Movement for physical health and when done ina group as an act of social harmony is essential. In addition, I believe making work by hand is an important means for the mind and body to work together on a manageable scale. Cooking is the most elemental of the maker activities I thrive on. During the harvest there’s a lot of that. What I miss I’m discovering is my art studio. It’s been left fallow for some time now and rather than disband it, I feel the need to take it up again in new ways.

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Bee and Flower

I see how collaboration is bound up in all my work. For example, I enjoy writing for The Parsley Way, but miss the collaborative aspects of it, the give and take, the inspiration of conversation and good company. I’d love to find some writers to share the positive message of the Parsley Way –  and encourage you to write something that reflects the spirit of this work. I’d love to share Your Voice with any readers here.

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Earthly Beets

The studio is another important place of collaboration. I’m revisiting a lot of past work and exploring new paths because this too is integral to my practice. I may be posting less often as I get deeper into some new directions. If you want to get more in touch with your creative handwork I welcome you to contact me for guidance and shared encouragement.

With our natural segue from the growing season we can plant some bulbs as a down payment on the distant spring. Right now it’s time to gather in the abundance of the garden and store it away to drawn upon over the winter.

Many hands make light work.

Ms Lizzie Cat

know what to do with your time

“Know what to do with your time”  

 

READ

Never Coming Back by Alison McGhee for a searing look into the mother-daughter relationship. See my review on Goodreads for more.

Happy October to All!

 

All photos Claire Mauro

N.B. Use the comment section to let me know your interest and ideas; list your contact info- I will keep it private.