Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Enlightenment, Part 3

A few interesting discoveries throughout the summer….(personal – feel free to skip)

I am not a religious person, especially when it comes to organized religion of any kind. I may enjoy sitting in a mass for a Holy Day, but that’s more of a sense of comfort than strict belief. I do consider myself spiritual. I had students ask me if I were Christian, and I would answer that I’m human, that I believe there is good in all the world’s religions, and I like to accept those tenets that are good for mankind. My middle school students were not able to handle that answer, but my high schoolers cold grasp what I was saying.

Over the years, the more I read of history the more I got pissed off at religion. Once we realize the Crusades for what they really were – an attack on anything not Christian – we begin to be appalled at the damage Most religions have done. The Inquisition was an vile, horrific attempt to protect the men of the Catholic Church and enforce a way of life that brooked no questioning of any kind. The Troubles in Ireland, the Palestinian question – religion has become politics and politics is now religion. What happened to loving thy neighbor, regardless?

I have been putting my local public library to very good use these days. Since we did our last downsizing, the remaining books are our favoriate, and our art books. It is rare that I buy a book any more…except for what goes on my Kindle. I love standing is a section of the library and just seeing what hits my eye. Two visits ago I discovered a book called Joshua, with a flap that talked about a carpenter who was changing his community. The reviews in the front were excellent – our library puts a sheet for you to score so you have a sense of how people thought about the book. This review was a 10 and said “If only society could be like this.” Based on that recommendation, I picked it up. I finished it that night.

This is an unpretentious story with an extremely [powerful message. Would we recognize Jesus if he walked among us today? It’s written by Neil Girozone, a retired priest (yes, I had my period in the past where I read everything Father Andrew Greeley wrote.) You are lulled into believing Joshua, who has definite ideas on God and His love for His children. Joshua has some stunning conversations – and monologues – about organized religion and how this is NOT what God had in mind for His children. The questioning comes through when the local religious denominations begin to feel threatened by their congregations believing and caring for Joshua. Eventually the case goes all the way to the Pope.

The characters are wonderful – you can see the Biblical parallels, and I for one have met a lot of Catholic priests similar to those in the book. I have been mulling on this since I finished the book. Next trip I picked up Joshua and the Children – his story from the children he teaches to love each other in the midst of a community torn about by religious strife. One can’t help but note the parallels to today’s society – and the book was written in 1985. You can see the conclusion coming, with all the parallels, but this book leaves its promise of success in the mission of the children, whose lives are forever changed.

So all that has gotten me thinking of my place in life right now, in such a tumultuous time. How can I make a difference? Obviously one way is to be kind, listen to those I don’t agree with, enjoy the lives of people I come into contact with. Along with that, I took a master class with Neale Donald Walsch through Mindvalley (Mindvalley.com). This was – dare I say it – life changing. I have a burning desire to read all the Conversations with God books, but none of them are available in my local library, and right now they are too much in the bookstore, even for the Kindle version. Through the master class, Walsch talks about what he calls HEB – highly evolved beings – and he began to describe who and what they are and how we might move along on the evolutionary line to become more evolved. While the class was short, he was able to go through two of the exercises in his 4th book – becoming others and passing each day not for yourself but to make a difference for someone else.

The next day was a day we had several doctor appointments and tests, and as I tried processing his ideas, I realized how far away I am from any kind of HEB – he said himself humanity is only on the two-yard line in evolution and we have a huge way to go. He made me a believer. I was so negative, so impatient, and not recognizing the human being in front of me. This from working at being much more positive in my life. Evidently I am positive when it comes to just me but not when I am am around others. At least I know in my latter decades of teaching I was definitely better at working with my students and their fragile souls…now I have to extend that to all I come into contact with. That was quite the lesson.

Now I am reading (while I wait for Conversations with God) When Everything Changes, Change Everything by Walsch. This is timely, since hubby has open heart surgery in less than two weeks, and life will definitely be changing in both the short and long term. First change – don’t go it alone. I tend to keep to myself and not involve a lot of people in my life, even wen they are good friends. I have come to see that as a result of having to protect myself emotionally while growing up. But I have let a lot of folks know about the surgery, and I realize I can – and will -0 ask for help along the 12-weeks of recovery.

In a nutshell, this is more of the Enlightenment journey since this summer. It doesn’t even include all the science I have been reading – more on that in another post.

Reflections….

SusanQuilt3I am attending a writing salon a couple of times a month to work more on my craft, as well as new work on book two. Here’s my reflection on the prompt “All in a Day’s Work.”

My days have an interesting new rhythm to them as I pass my fifth year of retirement from teaching. With hubby’s surgery this winter, art was put on hold in favor of surviving each day of recovery. Now, though, every waking hour is filled with planning, creating, discussing, making, ironing, marketing. The hats change by the hour. I will admit, however, I do not miss the multitude of Sundays filled with grading papers and  planning lessons over the 40 years of teaching.

Division of labor is taking a new turn. More of the online work of sales, mailings, and organization is going to hubby so I have time for significant creating and sewing. He is also creating on a more regular basis, as that is something in our partnership that he can do on his own – I get to do the clean-up while he admires the fabulous fabric he has created.

There are a lot of venues I need to handle, from pattern design to new website opportunities to all the sewing and finishing of art pieces. It can get very frustrating at times – at least once a day – as I want to take a break, but then I feel guilty that I’m not dealing with the myriad number of things. Actually I brought this on myself. Since we moved back to Vermont in May last year, we have been searching for marketing opportunities. Despite the time off for medical issues, we have been very successful at creating new opportunities for ourselves, and now we have a new problem – not enough artwork for all the opportunities.

I think the “day’s work” has an additional new meaning, aside from rhythm, as I am even more aware of a fixed income and the need to make funds last four to five weeks, depending on the fluctuating Social Security days. The “second Wednesday” can be anywhere from the 8th to the 14the of the month. This month is a perfect example – today is the 8th…SSI has to go 5 weeks.

Positivity seems to be my key to keeping anxiety attacks at bay. I send positive thoughts to the universe, write my monthly abundance checks, and plug away at the work. I understand art as a driving force, now that I have significant time unencumbered by the demands of the classroom. I create now because I want to, I have to….these pictures arrive in my mind and they need to be born and nurtured. I look at my calendar and smile at the blocks of unstructured time awaiting me and my machine.

What’s interesting is that I still feel guilty about taking time off to relax. When school was in session, I would be too exhausted to do anything for art, except in the summer months. Then it was two weeks to recover, a few weeks on vacation, and by the time I was in creative mode it was three weeks till school started again. I did some of my best work the first summer I didn’t have to work during the vacation, and I often think if I could have continued to create at that pace, I’d be further along in my art-making. It’s hard for me to take time to sit in a chair, enjoy the breezes, and read…or listen to music…or just be quietly by the water.

A friend went to teach in Vienna and at one of the professional development meetings the presenter gave everyone a 100 centimeter strip of paper. Take off the years on the lower end you have been alive. Tear off the years at the other end that represent average life expectancy. What you have remaining are your productive years. She wasn’t happy, as she was the oldest person in the group, and her strip of paper was pretty short. While it seems at times that 40 years of teaching has been forever, at the same time it seems like just yesterday I boarded a plane from Vermont to Maui and my first teaching job. Now I feel like I am just under 20 years to my goal, and I want to be as productive – as guilt-free with no regrets – as I can.

The other piece I’m seeing is that as the years dwindle down and the desire to create gets stronger and more unrelenting, the vision issues become major in my mind – and in reality. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the ‘what-ifs’, regardless of how hard I ry to stay occupied. When honest with myself, this is probably why I started writing again – the technology has improved so much that I will be able to do what I want with fiction without being able to see a keyboard.

I need every day to be productive…and I accept that that can mean I spent several hours enjoying a good book…or putting a computer jigsaw puzzle together…or walking the Charlotte Town Beach with my hubby – after sewing a fiber piece to canvas and adding a hanging system. My day’s work is enjoyable, exciting, and enviable.

A Few Great Snippits of Writings…..

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I’ve come across a few great ideas in some of the books I’ve been reading, and these books need to be returned. So I figure if I add them to a blog post, I will always have them accessible.

From David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell comes this about courage:

Courage is not something that you already have when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.

The conquering of fear produces exhilaration. The contrast between the previous apprehension and the present relief and  feeling of security promotes a self-confidence that is the very father and mother of courage.

– You should read all of his works – a great mix of history, sociology, psychology, and economics, and highly readable.

 

 

From Robert Heinlein and Revolt in 2100: Master Peter was right: the man who buys the meat is brother to the butcher. It was squeamishness, not morals….like the man who favors capital punishment but who himself  is ‘too good” to fit the noose or swing the axe. Like the person who regards war as inevitable and in some cases moral, but who avoids military service because he doesn’t like the thought of military service. Emotional infants, ethical morons – the left hand MUST know what the right hand doeth, and the heart is responsible for both.

War is a simple matter compared with revolution. War is an applied science, with well-defined principles tested in history; analogous solutions may be found from ballista to H-bomb. But every revolution is a freak, a mutant,  a monstrosity, its conditions  never to be repeated and its operations carried out by amateurs and individualists.

– Heinlein was an acquired taste for me, but this particular book is exactly the same premise as the novel I am working on. Spooky…..

 

From Sheri S. Tepper The Gate to Women’s Country: My art is drama, and my craft is gardening. Is your work a science, a craft, or an art….”My magic? If it has no science, it fails….If it has no craft, it bores, and if it has no art, it offends.”

-Really interesting take on the role of the sexes, and quite thought-provoking. I do love the idea of our lives consisting of an art, a science, and a craft.

 

 

 

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