The hero or victim of your life

wonderwoman.jpgWe all live our lives, and we are all LIED to in childhood about what its going to be like – we are sold sanitized fairy stories where they took all the gruesome bits out because it might upset the children. Except we learn, that those gruesome bits are there for a reason, the gritty and ugly is a real and unavoidable part of life – EVERBODIES life, there is no escaping it whether you are rich or poor – people of all ages, all classes and all strata of society deal with “stuff” every day – nobody it totally immune from a messy divorce, a bully in work, a parent with a mental illness, cancer, disease, failure – no matter how protected and sheltered our life may be.

So why don’t we prepare our kids for it? why do we fill their heads with banal cartoons that don’t always mean anything, where the prince and princess always meet and fall adoringly in love with nothing messy, and no pregnancy or kids to report either. Nobody fails in our kid’s stories, everyone’s a winner, good always prevails and there’s ALWAYS a happy ending

Is life ALWAYS like that – not so much, so people still keep seeking it, the dream whatever it may be and keep chasing, without stopping to pause and be truly happy in this life here and now. The idea is in us that if our life doesn’t match up to their stories we were told it was going to be like then perhaps we are not really enough. There will also always be those toxic people who want to perpetuate that feeling in us to, so they can feed us their magical solutions. The religions who prey on our fears about death or lack of family, lack of a moral compass or guidance. The drug pushers with their prescription pills, making anything out of the box abnormal, keep your head down and obey the programme or you might just have something wrong with you – we can fix you but your wrong, not enough as they make millions in their industry. The companies selling us th solution in terms of courses and lifestyle changes – insecurity and discontentment are BIG business. Its good to push to improve yourself your life and your circumstances but be assured you are enough as you are

why?

It is because you are a hero. Sometimes when something bad happens in life, and we have something we have to overcome, whatever, it may be, maybe it is that messy divorce, a job loss,  disability, sickness, lack of love, poor economy and few local prospects. You can in a way, start to feel like a victim in life, perhaps you dropped out of college,whatever it may be – life can be tough and knowing how to navigate our lives is not something we are given a great deal of help with – life doesn’t come with a manual and even if it did it would be out of print pretty quick because the game is changing all the time.

So… if you have made it this far, bloody well done, your a hero of your life, not a victim , even if you didn’t get to have the life you dreamed of, because you can and will overcome everything that is thrown at you and even in a moment of defeat you can know its not forever with the right help, with time to reflect and learn. Read the gruesome fairy stories with all the hate and jealousy and grit and create your own. Because that’s what life is about – there’s a great blueprint for the journey we ALL go through in some shape way or another, where we make the Heros Journey -where we go from ordinary to meeting real and difficult challenges and finding our own way around our limitations. Sometimes we may get “stuck” – being stuck may last for years, but onward we go because life goes on and everyone gets some sort of success in the end – it just may not look like the traditional happy ending – there may be compromises but its all a heroic journey, even if its one of struggle every day.

So, If you like to 70 or 80 imagine how many challenges you have gone through and overcome – life is still beautiful – so that makes you a hero – even if it can seem like your a victim in some way.

Fantastical Tales by Michelle Smith

They want my life story, a neat little ditty to fit in before tea,
Who shall I be, a heroine strong or a victim that hides now and you never see
A girl lost not found that never moved beyond fantasy unicorns and never never land
Shall I embellish my tale and add fantastical things, fairies or an ogre or two
Magical winged beasts, villains to slay by the rising of the light
Do you want a story that makes you feel a little wiser than your years
Do you feel lucky for all the monsters that did not go bump in your night
The trials not all of us bear, but perhaps we do
War wounds and scars haunt us and keep us from flight

Into the deep comfort of that good night, where love conquers all
The happy ending guaranteed, well that’s not always how it falls
Some tales are sweet, dramatic and with rhythm
Others weak that let tears leak
On to the floor
To collect in puddles, swept away in a hall
Which tale shall I tell you because I was there I lived it all

 

 

Poetry – Laughter like a Jelly in a bowl

wibblewobbleOnce a month I love to take part in a traditional storytelling circle and this has now been promoted as a great way to maintain good mental and emotional health.

There is something primal and beautiful about a gathering of unique souls who each have tonnes of life experience behind them meeting together to share their stories, tales, poems, and songs and to laugh and celebrate life.

In our digital world this community sort of gathering which so common when we lived in big families or in tribes is not always so commonplace anymore – nor always is it found in our culture the ways or ordinary people coming together to share their wisdom and their unique perspective on life and their creativity – which is a gift EVERYBODY has in some way shape or form.

Creativity is reported to even being taken out of our state schools – so the beauty of sharing our creative inspiration and wonder is something that seems to be being placed in the hands of the few, while the rest are relegated to a life of passive consumerism.

So how to fight this – well I create every day – I may do some sketching or some poetry or just some writing about my ideas and outlook on life, which is also a kind of therapy – free writing, but you can get some really interesting fruitful stuff from that

I am also an esl teacher and with my students I ALWAYS encourage their wonder and their joy and their creativity – I may be teaching English as a foreign language but art is a universal language – pictures transcend the language barrier so I feel they are really important in both communicating the language and also empowering more effective communication in the students.

So anyway, in today’s creativity this evening, I wrote a poem about the joy found in being silly, making a joke and gathering to share stories, poems and lyrics – a joy that is FREE and available to everyone if only more would grasp it by using their gifts which may otherwise be wasted in our culture.

The poem has many uses, I can perform it in the storytelling event, I can use it in teaching children, I can read it to my son and family and friends, and I may one day put it in a book with my own illustrations. It would be GREAT for a laughter yoga session

If you want to try writing a poem like this, then a technique you can try is choosing a few keywords you want to work with such as laughter or jelly in a bowl – and then free write around your subject – just write freely sentences without punctuation or worrying about spelling on your subject and what you have on your heart. Then read your writing and pick the main words and phrases you want to include in your poem, note the general theme – then work on put the sentences together in rhyme – look at meanings of words and alternative words that rhyme – piece your poem together. Polish it off with a conclusion and there you have your poem. Give it a title and publish

Laughter like a Jelly in a bowl

Someone tells a joke
Spreads some fun or a poke
Does clowning like a jester
While being extra kind
Making mirth and playing the fool
Really isn’t a dumb thing to do
Laughing at the grey and serious
Is something great and quite hilarious
It sends love and light right out
into the world, for all to find
 
and soon we are all are smiling
and giggling in our bellies
like a jelly in a bowl
wibble wobble wibble wobble
Ha ha ha ho ho howl
 
Having fun is natural
and something all should do
send sunlight in our faces
is the joke on me or you
Loneliness, sadness only appear
when none are living in joy and cheer
Meet together, and be happy
share life, stories, poems, lyrics and jokes
And surely we will all be merry folks
 
Cause soon we are all laughing
and giggling in our bellies
like a jelly in a bowl
wibble wobble wibble wobble
Ha ha ha ho ho howl
 
 
Like jelly in a bowl
is the laughter in my belly
a bowl of joy and plenty
not for the few, but for the many

A good story- Dressing the Naked Truth

One thing I love is a good story. The story may be part of a film, or a favorite novel, or a biography or part of an inspiring talk – it may be a piece of outstanding journalism – but I do really love a good story.

A good story for me brightens my whole day,  it sends tingles in my brain, and joy in my soul. It may have been dramatic or moving and I would have had my emotions swept along with it, its just like a great rollercoaster ride at the fun fair – your with it all the way and once its done your delighted and want to hear it again.

Thats a good story for me

So, since I have decided i love stories so much, I especially love the spoken word and traditional tales told to a live audience. In a small cozy gathering often in comfortable surroundings with light refreshment and an inspired and talented storyteller, which we all listen to as a community.

I have explored religions through my life too and cultural frameworks of reality which holds what we feel we know to be true. These are all based on story – grand narratives and while there are many issues with religions, wars etc; one of the things I love is the talent of the priest or priestess or Buddha as storyteller, passing on their wisdom and insights in a way that makes better and more virtuous people, wiser, and more prepared for life and its difficulties.

I also enjoy telling stories. I tell stories in my work as an ESL teacher of Chinese children and I love to do all the dramatic bits and the funny voices to delight the children.

So as part of my work and also as a personal interest, I have started to collect little traditional stories as I hear them that are quite short and memorable and preferably have some sort of higher meaning or moral to them.  I have decided to share some of them here in my blog… obviously, in a written format, they are not fully alive, not like when they are performed or told by a teller – but I think it’s nice to share them with their bits of wisdom which others may appreciate in the online world.

One story I heard quite recently relates to my experience of church. When I went to church and heard the gospel about how we are all sinners destined for hell etc it didnt really sink in, I had previously been studying Hinduism and that says we are good with a divine nature, secular thinking also says we are all basically good people and after a while of hearing it and evaluating its truths, i did get a little angry with the idea that we are hopeless sinners in need of a saviour. Some people who hear those words stay angry or at least dismiss them as nonsense – but I never totally did that because while its true everyone is capable of good and if perchance we do any good we are the first to sing our own praises, it is also true, that we have a darker or shadow side which we hide and try to keep under control. Lack of awareness of this side of ourselves and refusing to admit that ok, we may be less than perfect can lead to all sorts of problems.

However, for the Priest whos job it is to present this truth to the people, with flourish and style, having the responsibility for the flock and their moral and spiritual welfare in his hands – he has a hard job to do, to present something that people may get angry about, dismiss etc etc

So I heard a story that could help with this. It’s a Jewish tale and it goes like this:

Once upon a time two very beautiful women met in the woods, they both had long luscious hair, big starry eyes, stunning figures and were both gorgeous in every way. So being a little vain they decided to have a competition to see who was the most beautiful woman. In order to test who was the most beautiful and the most powerful, they decided to have a competition where they would walk through the nearest town in all their beauty and see who would gather the most crowds

One woman’s name was called Truth, the other was called Story

So Truth went first, she was very beautiful and she walked through the town and people did gather at first, but not for long and mostly they then went away and carried on with their business – then thinking she wasn’t doing very well and that she would lose the competition she pulled out all the stops to appear more beautiful, letting down her long hair, shaking it in the breeze and still that didn’t gather the crowds – so feeling there was nothing more to do she decided to take off her garments and appear in the town completely naked

Although Truth was stunningly beautiful, she just still didn’t gather the crowds and instead, now she was naked – people ran away and locked their doors and hid from Truth.
So she went back to lady story and said sadly, I have been utterly rejected and even spat upon by the crowds, they even hid from me – I think I have lost this competition,  I must be very ugly
so Story’s turn came and off she went to the town – she was dressed in finery and when she went through the town the people all came out of their houses and soon there was a huge crowd gathered around her – everyone loved story and she had easily won the competition
So returned to the woods and the two women talked. Truth was humble – I have lost this competition – it must be that Story is more beautiful and more powerful than Truth
But Story replied is it not that I am more beautiful and powerful – it is just that people often don’t like the truth and they especially do not like the Naked truth even though you are indeed a very beautiful woman.
However, all is not lost because all that truth needs to be loved and accepted is the mantle of story and then Story took off her long feathered cloak and gave it to truth and she looked very fine indeed. So now when she went into town the people did gather to see her in her lovely long cloak and soon a big crowd appeared and truth was accepted and loved.
Moral – although Truth in itself is a beautiful woman people do not like her without adornment, they prefer in disguise – dressed in the mantle of story.

 

 

 

 

 

Essence of community

One of the facts of modern life is that it is always changing. Now many people are choosing to live differently, they know that a job for life and a stable career with the same employer isn’t a likely scenario anymore. People get hired and replaced very easily. Families are smaller, more people live alone and as singles. Jobs may be online or found online in an increasingly global marketplace

So, there has been some sacrifices made in this, there more change and insecurity in peoples lives now, relationships and marriages are also often not lifelong and increasingly people need to be more and more self reliant as they deal with lifes challenges increasingly on their own.

A community is often no longer even in packed cities, as people live and work in different industries, in different places and without large families behind them and increasingly without religion and church as a backing also

So if you want to navigate life in rich meaningful company, despite doing it all mostly solo – where do you go these days to find such great company?

Churches have their place, but often they can be a little negative and not really progressive enough for most modern people.  So where else can we meet our neighbours in style and not feel so isolated? Lonliness is increasingly a problem here in Wales and not just amoung the elderly.  Facebook community brings people together ut that jut int the same as a good meet up in person

Well the good news is that you can increasingly find more and more great community initiatives spring up with social events that you dont need to be religious to enjoy.

In my area a local housing association has given the community a one bedroom flat to use as a community space, which is then used to host, ladies social evenings, mens events and other community activities such as a big lunch which will be a street party, bringing the whole community together for a free meal (bring your own dish) and workshops where skilled members o the community volunteer their time to teach skills uch as creative writing, poetry and the arts to others and the elderly.

So this is just one idea. Another idea which is running in the area is a storytelling club –  what is a community without a shared sense of wonder and wisdom passed on. This is where professional and amateur storytellers alike come together to share their stories, they can be wonderous tales of traditional fairies and goblins or hard lessons from life – whatever you would like along with some local poetry and music. it all makes for a great night of entertainment and conversation and a growing wisdom tradition with workshops run on how to perform and make a story from scratch.

Another idea is a community arts scene – you can have a regular group of artists getting together to make art and exhibit on things that matter to the community and the area, anything from the Dreamtime component of the landscape, to fashion or social concerns.

Another wonderful idea that has been started in our area is a kindness movement – this is where the local community gets together and meets regularly to discuss what acts of kindness they can do for their communities – anything from haircuts for the homeless, pay it forward schemes, or painted rocks people can find with hopeful messages on them to brighten their day. Done on mass this can really make a difference

Just a few community-building activities that could be tried to bring people together, provide them with the support they need, stave off loneliness and contribute to a bright future for your area.

 

 

 

 

The Mystery of Creativity and Innovation

Creativity is a beautiful and amazing thing. So many people really love and admire true creativity when it becomes responsible for an amazing piece of art or a new innovative design, technology, fashion, books or a new product.

However, not everyone finds it easy to accept the new, when the new comes along. Often if a culture is not ready for it, it can be shunned, labeled, locked away, hidden or otherwise removed from society as an aberration.  Sometimes in the case of technology, we have to wait for the infrastructure to change to accommodate the new as often networks of all kinds remain outdated. An easy example of this would be the fax machine – a really common item may be a bit outdated now but most offices do contain the fax machine somewhere – but when was it invented? it was actually invented in 1843 well before it was needed or could be accepted by the culture and also because it needed new infrastructure. Education too always takes a long time to catch, you may not know it but our education system is often hopelessly outdated and often fails to prepare people for jobs in a fast-paced changing world. New jobs become available and exist due to the rate of change and innovation, that nobody is equipped to fill because training hasn’t caught up.

So what skills can we learn in the modern world that would be useful in these times? Creativity could be one such skill. What is creativity? its often considered a little bit mystical a mysterious force that brings an idea from the ether into solid reality as something new. Creativity could be considered thinking outside the box or its ideas that have value.

Creativity is used to fuel innovation which is something that’s really important in these times of transitions and change in all aspects of society and in the ways we evaluate what we think we know about the world.

You may not know it but theres different types of innovation

Theres sustainable innovation which is looking at ways we can care for and sustain our planet

Service innovation – which is innovation around services

Experience innovation – which is all about providing an experience, for instance, Apple produced a product with a  specifically designed a box that was slow to open to provide the ultimate anticipation experience upon receiving and opening the product. This innovation can be anything to do with the user experience in a variety of different ways.

Then there’s my favorite, impossible innovation this is innovation that is way ahead for its time that seems impossible such as the moon landing initially was years ago something that seems impossible now, but actually, it may become reality one day.

Creativity and innovation is also really important in our society because it fuels social change. A recent example we could look at on this is the recent amount of technological innovation which has caused mass changes in our society now everyone has a phone which has changed peoples habits and behavior.   The internet has caused huge changes in the way people do things and continues to do so with new ways now of earning money online and the new easy connectivity around the world that didn’t exist before

So what is innovation? innovation is applied creativity. Creativity, a mystical gift we all have to some degree, applied usefully to create innovation and drive mass culture change. Possibly and potentially world-changing.

Fluidity modernity is a constant flow of innovation that is changing the world every second of every day.

Innovation while being fuel for mass culture change around the globe is also quite lucrative. In the UK alone in 2007, 1.8 billion was spent just on innovation and the generation of interesting ideas.

So the nitty gritty… how do you do it? is creativity and innovation truly so mystical a gift that is for the creative few, out of the grasp of mere mortals. Well not everyone thinks it is, many people think creativity is something we all have and is something we should all be using and if we really utilized it well could potentially bring about some amazing changes in society.

Creativity is all about divergent thinking.. that’s our out of the box thinking. So how do you do that? Many people claim to not be able to see the box let alone think outside of it – but is that really totally true.

A really easy process and an example would be – just think of all the uses for something like a pencil.

You may think ok – you can draw or write with a pencil so these would be the ordinary every day uses for a pencil but then if you decided to think a bit more creatively you may think well really what else could you do with it – you could use it to put your hair up its wooden and burns so it could be used to start a fire it could be used to make holes in the ground for seeds a weapon chewing erasing.

So this is a really good start in our creative brainstorming – but then what happens if we add something else to the equation.

Didnt mention the size of the pencil or the material

so what could we do with the pencil now – build a house a rocket ship  titanium pencil used to sculpt, edible pencil

So what happens when we say it doesn’t have to function as a pencil

ok so now we get new possibilities – its a ruler, chopsticks, fidget spinner table leg tree support.

But then when we get truly divergent thinking – we may actually have to totally suspend our ideas of reality and what we think the world and the pencil should look like in reality to get something new.

So how could we do that? well an example would be to take the pencil to a totally fantastical place and imagine its uses there

For example – lets take the pencil to the land of harry potter – so if harry potter was going to use the pencil in his land – what would he use the pencil for?  In this example, we can begin to suspend reality and begin to think in ways that are not totally logical or linear to produce new results.

Examples could be as a wand as a mind-reading device, for recording dreams, records conversations, write spells, mind reading pencil, or you could use a giant pencil instead of a broom to fly with, in the game Quidditch

So there we have come up with quite a few ideas that are a little bit out of the box that could potentially become something new one day.

Creativity and innovation is not out of the reach of everyone –  maybe if we all applied a little creativity magic to our lives we could you come up with some amazing ideas to change your life, live with interest and colour and variety, and inspire the lives of those around you.

This blog post has been inspired by the talk by Josh Hart who used meditation and spiritual pracices to fuel innovation and design – given in the Tech hub, 3rd May 2018

JOSH HART
“The Mystery Behind Creativity and Innovation”

This is an interactive talk unpacking the mystery behind the nature of creativity by delving into the uses of divergent thinking. Cognitive barriers tend to prevent creativity being accessed whenever a person wants, there are structures and tools you can use to overcome this problem, to give yourself step by step innovative thinking, whenever you need it.

Josh Hart VA, author of Phenomenological Design. He has an MA in Design Futures. He is a Designer and Director of Mindfulness Design. “I am a multidisciplinary designer with a keen passion for design and mindfulness. I thrive off creative challenges and collaborative experiences.”

Mindfulness Design is a new company, based in Cardiff that promotes innovation and mindfulness within a business

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What lurks in the shadows

Over the last few years I have been interested in the world of Carl Jung and his insight into the psyche – in particular, the ideas of the collective consciousness, the archetypes, and the shadow.

The shadow really interests me as an artist, as I realize that the darker aspects of our being, the parts that know exactly why good people do bad things, and the parts of ourselves we reject or are ashamed of are rich material for artistic expression.

Not only that a great deal of our gifts and creativity itself may live exactly in those shadows, the destructive dark traits that generate drama, mood, tone, variety and wildness amid order are all concealed in the shadow parts of ourselves, along with our rejected desires to be creative, to be wild, magical or to be an artist as society imposes its ways on us to conform and be “normal” and “civilised”, “good” and “polite” and just “fit in”.

So I’m becoming more and more excited to discover what lurks in the shadows – ok it could be on the surface of things just a jumble of mess – but just like looking at and sorting a dark cluttered room in a house which you may hide and feel ashamed of, great treasures and long-forgotten things may be found in there as well.

I recently invented a lovely arts practice to look at revealing what may lie hidden in our shadows.  If like me your an artist, and you have a regular art practice – you may  find that as you do your drawings, sketches or paintings you may accumulate a number of piles of drawings “that dont make the grade”, that you have rejected or discarded in some way, maybe because they were flawed, maybe because they are technically flawed or contain mistakes. The task I made is to go and find all those rejected drawings, or unfinished paintings, look at them honor them, decide why you didn’t like them, what was “wrong” with them which gives an insight into your own shadow and give them a new lease of life – transform them in some way – cut them up and collage them together and create a new image – an image of your shadows.

Hopefully, you can then look at it and see your shadows and hidden things are often full of beauty and light – nothing to be ashamed of and worth baring to the world in creative and useful ways.

Here is my picture of a shadow heron which I collaged together from 3 rejected drawings – the heron had mistakes on its wings, so I painted it black and used it as a shadow, the tree was boring and not to scale and looked wrong and the bullrushes were too thick.

Seen here in a new lease of life as an interesting picture – with a moon, coiled threads of fate and dramatic colours which are typical of the shadow

 

shadow heron

I regularly receive emails from a prophetic Christian Neil Vermillion and I believe great wisdom can be revealed in the biblical stories about human psychology and human nature.  I am not limited to Christianity and I love to study all stories and traditions but I find that God of the Bible often has a deep understanding of human beings that cannot be ignored, especially of our shadow natures that many people miss amid trying to be the light while avoiding all those inconvenient shadows.  Anyway, on the day I wrote this article I received an email from him that gives some further insight into those shadowy or hidden aspects of ourselves in the intuitive realm.

As I comfort you in your times of despair and uncertainty I will simultaneously begin to birth new vision, hope, and optimism. My comfort will not disappoint you, but will empower you according to what I have in store for you not only today, but also for your future. I know you have hurts, but my comfort will allow those hurts to heal. My comfort will replace hurtful memories with hopeful anticipation. I know you have confusion from time to time, but my comfort will replace confusion with clarity. My comfort will spawn vision where vision is lacking, and will inspire direction when direction is not clear. (1)
So allow me to minister to you by my heart. For my heart is great, and so also is the fruit of engaging with my heart. For I will speak to your mind and offer my instruction to you, but I will also speak to your heart by my spirit, offering the full bounty of all that is included in your relationship and engagement with me.
In this you will absorb me moreso than you will understand me. You will be impacted by me even though you will not fully understand within your cognition what is transpiring. I will impress upon you and move within your heart, and do so gracefully, but unmistakably. And over the course of repeated encounter you will come to know me not just by the sound of my voice, but by my presence and the familiar aroma of my fragrance. For the knowledge and experience of my fragrance is accessible only through personal and intimate encounter. It is not accessed from a distance, or by proxy, but by one-on-one interaction through meaningful engagement and bonding together. My fragrance will only be known by what I give you by intimate experience, not by logical reason.
While there are many aspects, details, and components comprising who you are, know the aspects that are illusive and intuitive are also worthwhile and valuable. In the same manner, the many components, details, and aspects of who I am are also mysterious, yet undoubtedly distinct, subtle, and valuable, and are gained by face to face encounter. Though you may not be able to explain or fully process our interactions and engagements, particularly in the moment, they are valuable and worthwhile even still. (2)
(1) 2 Corinthians 1:4-5, Philippians 4:7
(2) 2 Corinthians 4:18

 

 

 

 

 

Learning art for Free

If like me, your an artist already but realize you need to practice your skill and craft to become really good and to develop a portfolio, then ideally you want to experiment with and learn as many styles as possible with plenty of tips from experienced artists.

 

Some of us may not want to go to art school or find that you learn better independently from home. The good news is, that if this is you, the internet is brimming with opportunities to learn the arts and even better, you get to choose your teachers that may have a style you admire or a technique you would like to learn or perfect.

If budget is a problem you may want to check out this new FREE art series called Sketchbook revival – it’s specifically for sketchbook practice and it features 2 lessons or workshops every day, with minimum materials to get you started, from every style to drawing birds in ink to drawing more mundane things such as what you had for breakfast (ideal practice for illustrating a recipe book).

If your interested in this course then it’s only available for a limited time but if you go ahead and sign up now, you can catch up and have the opportunity to share your work in the Facebook page associated with the workshop.

Brilliant practice and experience and all for free. It’s available here https://www.karenabend.com/sketchbook-revival/

Amazingly each lesson also comes with a free gift – like a print some tips, a percentage off paid classes or even an art therapy course for free.

So if you sign up you may see me on the facebook page and I hope you enjoy.

Some of the art I have produced on the workshopheronlavenderrosesroses1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The white horse that carries us home

Death – the final journey.

This is something many of us choose NOT to think about, after all, if you are young perhaps there is no need to contemplate the finite nature of our existence.

But here and there we get reminders, we see our grandparents growing older, their struggles and pains as they need assistance with their daily tasks.

Our pets may die and leave us bereft of their company

and as we grow older and older ourselves, some of our companions and friends leave this world, sometimes suddenly, it may be a murder, or a heart attack and sometimes in really horrible circumstances such as a long struggle with an illness like cancer.

For myself, I had a health crisis which came on quite young, it wasn’t a fatal illness but there were many times I thought I may die due to being sick – so this caused a change in me. I became religious, I studied the sacred texts of many religions. I experimented with meditation, reiki, studied and made mandalas, prayed long and hard, sat long in silence, and thought deeply. Then I rejected religion altogether when my health was much better and TRIED to go back to my old ways of just living but I found that I was different and changed by my experience and the sacred was with me to stay along with my wounds.

Now I make art and had just started an every day drawing art challenge, when I got a message from a friend, that another mutual friend who has a disability and had been struggling with cancer for a long time, many months wasin fact, is going to die.  First it had been breast cancer they beat that, then it had been leukemia, they battled that, and now it seems they had found another mass in her liver and it’s cancerous. So now the doctors say there is nothing they can do. Visitors requested for her last hours,  days or weeks to make her comfortable before she leaves this world.

So, this was also a moment in my life where I had decided I didn’t really want religion and in particular Jesus of religion in my life anymore – sickened and dismayed by the actions of many Christians and also in toxic shock over some of the more poisonous and difficult to swallow parts of this religion. BUT just the day I got the news about my friend, doing my art challenge, I had drawn a picture of Jesus with his white horse which indicated as a rider He was faithful and True.

jesus

My friend had been going to church before she got ill which is how i knew her and had dedicated herself as a Christian and had stayed with the faith during her long illness and now she was facing the final journey.

So I looked at my art and what I had drawn and decided that yes there would be a use for this – Not only had my art reignited my own faith in a way, but also I realized that this picture was for my friend to brighten up her room.

 

horse

 

I drew some more, just a white horse on its own no rider. The horse we ride to take us home. I scoured the internet for inspiring images and saw a beautiful picture of a single boat, and suddenly I saw it in my mind’s eye with flowers – so I used the image and drew my vision and then came the poem – about the lonely boat and our final journey.lonelyboat

A lonely journey

a lonely journey all alone
to a place that is just unknown
from the shore well wishing hands wave farewell
so many cheers and prayers and thanks to dwell
with us on our passage through the time
to the place of endless rest
and know there isnt any test
Just love and peace thats eternal too
although we will miss and think of you
sweet memories of a friend and her smile
Goodbye for now, until one day, we reconcile.

So, I realise now the benefit and need of religion in our lives…. it for these moments, to express the inexpressible, to appreciate life in all its ups and downs the dramas and the darkness and the light times, to find hope and meaning when there otherwise appears to be none to comfort. It may not be literally true but it certainly contains truth that is experienceable and felt by millions of people, enriching their lives and causing them to enrich the lives of those around them. Sometimes it does go a litle awry people fight and kill over truth, or threaten small children with hell – but otherwise religion, especially the Christian religion, and your following Christs instruction is all about guiding the misguided, caring for the sick, the elderly, the disabled, the homeless seeing people through major passages, birth, marriage, parenthood, death and providing wisdom that cannot be learned, that is just a little inspired and supernatural. Cures that defy all understanding, and soothing and bringing peace to the disturbed. The cries to God do not go unheard.

So yeah, I’m going to go visit my friend who is dying and bring her my pictures and help brighten up her room, tell her and weave her some stories and help her die in dignity with hope for the journey. Then when my time comes I too am going go peacefully into the night hopefully fully prepared.

The discipline of drawing every day

Decided to get a bit more serious about my art practice and in my efforts to stay sane amid the constant global crisis on the news and my own personal battles – I have decided to take my drawing and poetry practice up a notch.

I generally practice creativity for stress relief and my own well being but also I feel that its the complete opposite to what so many other people are doing in terms of making something negative added to the planet. I make art not only to manage my health and well being but also to contribute something to the earth, to add a piece of beauty somewhere that didn’t exist before. Its also a spiritual practice in that its a form of mindfulness, you are completely here and now an present at the moment when you make art, but its also a method of recording my dreams and visions and any gift of communication I have with the Great I Am. God, Goddess or Higher Power.

Anyway, i have now decided to try and do some art or drawing of some kind every night now – I was thinking I have a whole host of images online for inspiration, just to get some drawing practice in, on drawing body parts, and birds and animals and plants etc from photographs. My form of artwork isn’t realistic, it tends to be visionary in some way, but drawing practice could be a really good thing to do every day for the next few months. possibly accompanied by some poetry making from the images. (ekphrasis poetry)

So I got off to a good start this evening and made 3 pieces of art that didn’t exist before and a poem.

Mrfox

Mr. Fox, wistfully sniffing the air in the breeze
of a blood-red forest, dappled colourful leaves
a butterfly flutters by but keeps him company
a scene that makes Albion proud, accompanied by an autumn symphony
of tree trunks creaking, branches swaying aloft
along he goes sneaking, wily, craftiness, sly, but soft
padding feet, bush tail sweeping, he slips away
farewell oh fox, return another day

King Fisher Diving

kingfisher

Diving for dreams.

Diving for dreams, diving for trinkets
Diving for a silverfish, a jewel that’s unseen
beneath the silver waves, of the river, so clean
sparkling waters, part and yield your fruits
The diving king of fishers is coming for loot
an underwater lair, a place with no air
hidden beauties, long forgotten treasures, all are there
Mirror reflections sparkle and gleam to conceal what is real
of the deep aquatic kingdom, a place for lost gems or a meal
Pierce through the visages plunge deep into the unknown
the shock of cold water yields to untold happiness reknown
as we seek different trinkets and gifts long discarded
sustenance for life’s journey and bounty unguarded
Kingfishers lessons for diving in the deep
Beyond the veil of the psyche, as from those still waters peep
past your fears concealed, there are real riches to keep.

Bluebird of happiness

bird

Life drawing – Nudes

I love creating art and came into the practice following a health crisis which left me with creativity as the only way to manage my illness and live a meaningful life. Following on from recovering my health and managing better I am constantly looking to be a bit more disciplined in my art and to try new techniques or even enhance the basics. There’s a lot of ways of doing this online but if something comes up free or cheap in my local area then this is a real bonus.

So, when my local art studio announced they were going to be launching some life drawing sessions of nude and costumed models, instead of looking away shyly I stepped right in there and thought – hey why now. I had done a little bit of life drawing in my foundation diploma in art but had never ever tried to draw nudes. All the sessions were timed from some quick one minute sketches to a longer 20-minute session. A variety of models and poses and all really professionally done while still being fun and comfortable.

These are a highlight of some of the drawings I produced (first attempts at this kind of work) I’m going to go again in a weeks time as their going to be holding the classes on the 1st and third Thursday of the month – so should get plenty of practice.  The classes ae really inexpensive at  5 pounds for 2 hours.

Anyone in any area could hold these sort of classes and it could be a really good way to practice this art form and also celebrate the human form in all shapes and sizes.

 

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