We are all shaped by our wounds, but we are not defined by them.
We are all shaped by our wounds, but we are not defined by them.
Yesterday I spent time with a friend who is enduring a great loss. I came home and did this page in my sketchbook. While it won’t make my friend feel any better, my heart was a little lighter after I finished it.
It’s week four of Dreaming on Paper: The Creative Sketchbook , and Lisa Sonora gave us additional techniques to play with, complete with photo instructions. One of the techniques is “napkin collage.” I saved this napkin years ago because I loved the color of the poppies. My napkin collage page turned out to be the perfect background for what is either another found poem, or wisdom from the world behind the world.
As a card carrying introvert, I totally love this t-shirt posted by C. B. Wentworth. If you have any idea where it can be purchased, please post the info in a comment. You will be adored, quietly of course, by introverts the world over.
Earlier this week, a friend of mine posted a picture of an awesome t-shirt of my Facebook timeline. She knows I love a good nerd shirt (see last week’s post) and she just had to share a spectacular find.
We’re both introverts, so it’s amazing we ever became friends. And it’s even more amazing that our friendship has continued despite our complete and total social impairment and awkwardness. In many ways, I think our friendship hinges on the fact that we can relate to each other because we share the inability to function in larger groups (or small groups). She gets me and I get her. And boy do we love to laugh about it.
So when this t-shirt popped up on her radar she knew I’d love it. And I do. I want it!
The problem is the picture was not linked. I have no idea where to…
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I spend a lot of time thinking about listening, and how to hear the harp from inside the music I’m playing. I was looking through my collection of neat quotes and this one jumped out at me. I did this page at the beginning of the week, before reading the last of the week’s notes with her suggestion to do a “listening” page.
It seems that my sketchbook will be an ongoing opportunity for synchronicity.
Week 2 of Dreaming On Paper: The Creative Sketchbook, and Lisa Sonora says that it’s time to play with words. The task is to look through written material for words and phrases that make something inside go “zing” and collect them to use in the journal.
I’ve been collecting words and phrases from magazines, advertisements, and junk mail for years. I have a cigar box full of quotes, phrases, and word clippings.
Sunday afternoon I pulled out an assortment of phrases that caught my attention, and moved them around on one of my painted sketchbook pages. A poem emerged, one that is the perfect sequel to my last post.
No, time doesn’t heal all wounds; that’s not how it works. rather, wounds heal time – you suddenly find, after the hard work of grief, that this hard thing has made you take the hard step and you have grown. You may look more contorted, more wrinkled, more bent, more scarred. But inside the heart beats with a deeper tattoo. Grief does not depart – don’t let anyone ever convince you that it does. When you learned to walk, didn’t you fall? Didn’t it hurt? Didn’t you cry? Your legs didn’t go away, though. And grief, which gives the soul perambulation, doesn’t end. The grief gives you a new way to journey. It allows you to walk, to fly, to purchase new horizons, to see new worlds, to listen more attentively.
“After James Died” by Harry Kelley in KnitLit: Sweaters and Their Stories…And Other Writing About Knitting. Linda Roghaar and Molly Wolf. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2002.
It was this day, one year ago, that I returned from my trip to Hampton Court Palace to find the email telling me that Ruth Ann died the night before. At one moment the world was sane and made sense. In the next moment, a skewed and distorted reality took its place.
This year I lived in these parallel worlds, straddling the crack that ran to the depths of my foundation. In one world, all is normal. Clocks tick, water flows downhill, and the sun rises dutifully in the east every morning. In the other world, a river of chaos roars through careening canyon walls, time refuses to move forward, and I am caught in the ever repeating loop of reading the email telling me that Ruth Ann is gone forever. There is no more sunshine. I must find a way to live in the dark.
In one world, I go to harp lessons and to recorder ensemble and to play at the hospital. I walk the dog and practice harp and knit, and resemble a normal person. In the other world, time flows backwards, and is filled with jumbled dreams of travel and temporary dwellings. Strange dream characters have malevolent purposes, and make promises that are empty lies. I awake confused and exhausted into the world that contains the all too real nightmare of Ruth Ann’s death.
Somehow, in this long year, I found a way to balance between the worlds, and survived them both. New roots grew in that sudden darkness. Signs of life are murmuring just under the surface.
I still don’t know what will break through the soil’s crust and emerge into the light, but I know it will happen. And when it does, I will call it Hope.
I was filling out a questionnaire in preparation for a harp lesson with Deborah Henson-Conant (which will be an entirely different blog post) and was asked to answer a question about what I thought stood in the way of my creative life.
In yet another occurrence of “I don’t know what’s going on with me until I write about it,” my pen informed me that my creative life was very out of balance. I spend nearly all of my creative energy and time on music. It’s not that I don’t love every minute of my time with my harp and my recorders. But with all my time going to music, I’m not allowing time for writing, for photography, for playing with my art supplies.
Knitting keeps that part of me that needs to make things, that needs to bring something into the world with my own hands, happy and content. But the part of me that thrives on images is feeling ignored and abandoned. I spent all of 2011 creating a 21-page visual journal, yet since then I’ve finished only four more pages. It’s been over a year since I last made a Soul Collage® card.
In France I spent every day exploring with my camera. Every day I thrilled to the feeling in my body that happens when I am deeply looking at the world around me, when, as my mind quiets, I settle into my own skin, totally absorbed by seeing what is revealing itself in response to my attention.
Yet the first time my camera’s been out of its case since the end of my France trip was last weekend in Asheville.
Something had to change.
I was clueless about what I could and would do to bring image-making back into my life until receiving an e-mail from Lisa Sonora describing her on-line art workshops. The one that stood up waving a flag in my face while shouting “pick me, pick me” was Dreaming on Paper: The Creative Sketchbook or “How To Make & Keep A Visual Journal for Discovery, Insight, Healing, and . . .Pure Fun!” The class description promised four sessions of “visual journaling techniques that incorporate mixed media collage, photography, painting, and writing.” Here was a path of return to everything I love to do, and everything I miss.
I promptly trotted off to A.C. Moore for the recommended supplies: a new journal, fresh glue sticks, and new bottles of craft paint in my favorite colors. All that was left was the waiting for the class to begin.
The first session’s instructions arrived in my inbox last Wednesday. The creative task this week was to experiment with different techniques for putting the craft paint on journal pages, using non-traditional painting tools.
We haven’t yet explored the process of creating a finished journal page in Lisa’s class. But I’ve been thinking about my word for the year, “Vision”, and how I wanted my word and its acrostic to be in the new journal.
I liked the way the painting experiment turned out on this page, so with some rubber stamps, stencils, markers, and torn papers I gave my word a home.
Lisa’s next lesson will be in my inbox tomorrow morning. And last night’s ice storm will keep me house-bound another day – perfect timing!!!
(All images © Janet Hince, 2015)
After my many weeks where words stayed just out of my sight and hearing, I was inspired by the Abby of the Arts to seek and ponder a word for the year ahead. Christine Valters Paintner, the online Abbess of the Abby, wrote:
In ancient times, wise men and women fled out into the desert to find a place where they could be fully present to God and to their own inner struggles at work within them. The desert became a place to enter into the refiner’s fire and be stripped down to one’s holy essence. The desert was a threshold place where you emerged different than when you entered.
Many people followed these ammas and abbas, seeking their wisdom and guidance for a meaningful life. One tradition was to ask for a word – this word or phrase would be something on which to ponder for many days, weeks, months, sometimes a whole lifetime. This practice is connected to lectio divina, where we approach the sacred texts with the same request – “give me a word” we ask – something to nourish me, challenge me, a word I can wrestle with and grow into.
She then asked her readers:
What is your word for the year ahead? A word which contains within it a seed of invitation to cross a new threshold?
What word, phrase, or image is shimmering before you right now inviting you to dwell with it until it ripens fully inside of you?
I pondered and tried on words for many days, without finding one that “shimmered.” Words that I typically would find inspirational, words like “joy,” “adventure,” “truth,” “kindness'” fell like duds, without even the tiniest spark of life.
It was on my morning walk the day after my Alexander Technique lesson that the first gleam of a word appeared.
In my AT lesson, my teacher encouraged me to “use my eyes” to take in the space around me, and to see all the space above me that is mine to inhabit. She asked me to let my eyes sweep across the floor and up the wall in front of me to lead me in standing up from sitting on a chair.
I remembered how my harp teacher encourages me when I am trying to read music to allow my eyes to have a “wider aperture,” so that I will see more than one measure of music at a time. I continue to work on moving my eyes forward in the music so that I will see where I am going, instead of staying focused on where I’ve been.
Then I noticed how I was walking: head down, staring at the pavement, instead of seeing the bare trees etching their shapes against the remarkably blue sky above me. I lifted my head and saw two bluebirds, a male and a female, flitting from tree to tree. I wondered if my word for the year would be “Vision.”
The next morning, again while on my walk, the acrostic that came to me sealed the deal:
Inner and outer
Images await your discovery.
Open your eyes and your heart, so that they may
My word for the year is “Vision.” Now I begin the discovery of all the treasure that this word holds for me.
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