See for Yourself

Last week we combined family with travel in the most delightful way. For me that meant traveling across country to California and sightseeing some unexplored territory. I love noticing the variety in nature wherever I go. The mental shake up in the backdrop to my interactions turns the unnoticed to wow! in hurry.

Shifting yourself out of the reassuring monotone of daily routine into a level of complex uncertainty is healthy even if occasionally uncomfortable. In fact, it’s the discomfort that is so stimulating. In the past year I’ve struggled to change my relationship to pain by strength-building in the literal physical sense, and it’s working. Coming back from injury, whether its physical, emotional or spiritual deserves your mindful attention.

Whether it’s a new destination or a staycation, you can shift your perspective and up your game. Introduce a new backdrop to your day by seeing with new eyes.

On Looking by Alexandra Horowitz

#alwayslearning

 

 

 

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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

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