Mermaids II

If I were a mermaid living in the ocean, I’d be angry with humans.  The ocean is, afterall, my home.  I want my environment to be pristine.  For myself and all the variety of wondrous sea creatures who also live here.  When my environment is polluted by the ignorance and greed of humans, well I can’t just get up and walk away, can I?  The integral relationship of the ocean with the moon and our ecosystem that keeps things “working” is being drastically damaged by destructive human activities.  Witnessing the devastation that humans have wreaked on my home, I’m wondering what I can do to wake them up!

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As we get more and more distanced from nature, we are going to feel the effects.  Because, as John Muir has said, “Nature includes us!”

As sophisticated as we might think we are, as much as we think we’ve conquered nature and that we are civilized above and beyond the natural world…that’s false thinking.  We are nature, nature is us.  We have a biology and so does the earth and the sea and the whole ecology in which we are included.  I’m likely preaching to the choir here!

This mermaid reminds me of a warrioress.  She is both tender and tough when necessary.  She is ready to go to battle for her home, the ocean.

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In 1995, an amazing film was released, The Secret of Roan Inish.  The music was haunting, the scenery enchanting, the acting authentic and the story–magical and mythological.  This is where I first heard of “the Selkie.  And, I feel that the sea is portrayed as a character itself.  Effective personification!

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The phrase “If I were” is a good way to begin writing.  Especially when you’re feeling stuck…”If I were…”  Those three little words open the door to imagination and possibility.  Go ahead, WRITE!

Alone Doesn’t Have to be Lonely

I don’t remember exactly what inspired this mixed media painting.  Except that it was another intuitive journey and continued to shift over time.  Putting down colors that I was drawn to, seeing images within the evolving piece, deciding which ones to elaborate on and which ones to let go.

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It was a cold, winter’s night in the mountains where I live.  There was the early dark of winter and a blizzard outside.  There was nowhere to go and no friend to meet.  An existential loneliness settled in around me.  Resistance is the first response when an uncomfortable feeling presents.  Feet dug in…”I don’t want to go there.”  But it persisted and I needed to be with it.  I’d been working on a painting of a polar bear in the Arctic.  I’d been trying to paint the aurora borealis.  Good luck with that!  That sky went through so many changes.

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What prompted me to paint a polar bear in the Arctic, that I can’t really say except that as I created the background, his image hovered in the painting.  I brought him forward.

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That night of extreme loneliness, staring at this painting in process, imagining the polar bear as his world disappears, I wrote the poem that I’ve already shared in this blog earlier.  It begins like this…

It’s cold and I’m alone again at night
The stars so far away, no comfort there
Is the polar bear aware of his plight?
Ice floes are melting, does anyone care?

Painting this piece, writing the poem, helped to shift my energy.  The poem and painting connected me to something outside of myself, bigger than my small life and this moment of loneliness.

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To be human is to feel loneliness at times.  In this time of the pandemic, social isolation and uncertainty, find a way to either write, draw or paint or any other creative activity.
One exploration could involve color.  Color crayons, watercolors, acrylics, colored pencils…any of these work.  On a piece of paper, put down colors that you feel particularly attracted to.  Place them side by side, at different angles to each other.  If you are using paints, notice which colors make other colors “pop” forward and which colors recede.  Let yourself play with color.

 

 

Freedom…

Freedom is a choice.  Is it?  Stand beside the ocean in your birthday suit.  Or walk into that floral painting .  Daffodils?  Delphiniums?  Crocus?  Lupine?  Horizon lines.  Yesterday, someone said that as artists, we are fascinated with painting horizon lines.  The sky meets the sea.  The land touches the water.  I roll in flowers in fields of forever, at least in some dreams.  If I ruled the world…every day might be the first day of spring.  That jubilant season.

Truly, in the mountains I don’t want spring to come too soon.  I want the deep cold that encourages spring flowering and summer fruiting.  I whisper to the cherry tree and the bulbs beneath the earth, if they are listening, don’t blossom too soon.  The deceit of a false spring could halt the blossoming and inhibit the bees when temperatures fall to freezing again.  I wonder if the trees can understand my language–if they know I care.  Do they witness my own wishy-washiness when it comes to not using plastic?

Is this a fantasy that I’m living?  Is this reality a tiny wedge (Kathy would ask “a wedge of cheese”) in an orgasmic universe?  I want to say omniverse although I’m not sure why.  Is that what the big bang means–one giant orgasm that sprung the worlds into being?  Can I say that here?  Freedom to write what I want, to have my own secular thoughts.  The ones that were forbidden by a childhood of too little freedom with an autocratic ruler.

It occurred to me again, that I really only found my voice recently.  No wonder I save volumes of my writing.  I won’t say everything on this blog.  Some things I hold sacred, private.  Having freedom entitles one not to speak when one chooses.

Yesterday, at the lake, I noticed the sky.  The clouds were reflected in the water.  I thought I could dive into the sky.

Freedom, claiming it, takes courage especially if you’ve been oppressed.

Freedom’s close companion is responsibility.

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Everyday Alchemy

Alchemy is:

a power or process that changes
or transforms something
in a mysterious or impressive way

The food you eat

The people you encounter

The places you visit

The tv you watch

The films you view

The books you read

The time you spend texting

The time you spend on the computer

The music you listen to

The time you spend in nature

The time you spend working

The time you spend playing

The time you spend making something

The time you spend in the garden

The time you spend painting or crafting or…

The feelings you experience

The animals that you meet along the way

And so on…

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Through all of this (and more), an alchemical process is fostered.  There is not one thing that you do that doesn’t stimulate something else inside of you.  The body/being is always trying to harmonize input.

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Writing stimulates an alchemical process.  Especially when I get the message behind my words.  I put the pen to the page.  I write, I turn the page and write some more.  If I am connected to what I write, there is possibility for change.  Sometimes, I need to reread what I’ve written several times before it sinks in.  I have to really listen to what I’m saying for the seeds of change to begin to grow in a direction that I want to foster.  That said, the physical act of writing changes something in me.

Contemplation:
We allot a certain amount of time to our daily activities, consciously or unconsciously.  Are you pleased with how you use your time?  Are you spending time in ways that are beneficial to your growing in the ways that you deeply desire?  Over the course of the next week, take notice of how you allot your time.  Is there something you’d like to change?  I ask this of myself too.

 

Origin

owl4An online dictionary definition of the word origin:  “the point or place where something begins, arises, or is derived.”

Isn’t that a word that we investigate over the course of our lives?  One of those words that invite the existential questions that humans, from serfs to philosophers, ponder throughout time.

The unanswerable…yet, we go there in our thoughts, perhaps more so in times of grief and loss.

Origin, the word itself, looks pretty.  Like I could design a painting around it.  That which emerges from the emptiness, the black hole, the no-thing, the fertile void from which everything has risen.

Writing Prompt:
Get quiet.  Sit comfortably.  Soften your gaze or close your eyes.  Imagine…nothing.  The void.  The emptiness.  The deep quiet.  The solitary feeling that connects you to everything.  How long can you comfortably sit with this?  Notice.  What thoughts arise and can you allow them to dissolve into the nothing?  What passing thought stops you and prompts you to pick up your pen and write?  Then, write for as long as you must.

Ah, Origin.

Where would you go from here?

An old Journal can provide the inspiration to
get you writing…even someone else’s writing can prompt your own.

Here’s the Writing Prompt for today.  Following is an excerpt from one of my old journals.  Pick up from where I leave off and see what flows for you.  Or, if there is one sentence that could serve as your springboard, borrow it and write.

“I’ll tell you this…
A body likes comfort
lingering in bed this morning
it’s time to put on the flannel sheets
These shores of comfort’s complacency
the siren’s call to distraction
versus the call to action
the planet’s doom
Where is my friend
for the end of the world?”

Query:
Did you try it?  If so, how did this work for you?
Leave a reply under comments if you like.

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In My Own Backyard…

cherrytree

Sonnet to the Cherry Tree
© by Christine O’Brien

If I were to write a sonnet to you
what words could convey what you mean to me?
The fidelity of this tree so true
reveling in what it is to be.

A sovereign tree, one hundred years old
leaves unfurled, from blossoms to cherries abound.
If trees could talk, what stories would be told
affinity with sky, roots in the ground.

Are my limitations making me deaf
to the voices that speak without words?
The winds carry fragrance and scents do waft
as cherries ripen, I race with the birds.

To eat the fruit from this generous tree
a gift that binds me to eternity.

Writing Prompt:
Go outside and take a look around.  What, in your own backyard, deserves a poem, a story or a painting?
Write it, draw it or paint it!

I want to write, but…

Recently, a friend sincerely expressed how she wanted to write.  However, she didn’t want to write about what isn’t working in her life.  She was fearful of creating “more of the same” by putting it on the page.  I suggested that she give herself permission to have the rant in order to get to the good stuff.

Anyone, including me, can give themselves “reasons not to write today.”  A good way to address this is to take a reason not to write and write about it.  For example, I don’t want to write todaybecause I don’t want to put on the page how upset I am about my daughter’s choice of boyfriend.  I feel fierce and want to steal her out of this relationship and magically make her life better… 

Giving yourself permission to feel and say what you feel in the moment is important to your writing process.  You could write your rant on a piece of scrap paper which you later toss rather than including it in your journal.    Give your rant a time limit, five or ten minutes. Then, shake it off.

Once you’ve done your rant, what does your passion want you to write?  Can you return to the book, the poem, the prose or the painting and immerse yourself in what you’re here to do?

Yes, you can!

Writing Prompt:
If something is “up” for you, write a rant giving yourself about ten minutes to express it.  How did that work for you?
Or, do you have another ingenious way to creatively handle what is distressing you and then to get on with the writing you deeply desire to do?mermaid8

Writing Your Prayer

Writers write.  They write in their journals.  They write letters, stories, poetry, questions, lists; they write about curiosities, experiences, circumstances, politics, religion, sex, love, doubts, fears, hopes and dreams, you name it.  They write it all down. This gives them a bit of relief not to have things rattling around in their heads. Writing something down, preferably in a journal or in a notebook, they collect their creative ideas, often on a scrap piece of paper.

Lately, we’ve seen on the news, read about and experienced all sorts of natural disasters wreaking havoc across our planet.  And we are witnessing political games gone awry in our own and other counties.  Within ourselves and our families, there is hurt and uncertainty, growing pains, grief.

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In addition to what I do creatively, I turn to prayer. And I find that sometimes, writing down a prayer, a petition, a request to a Higher Power helps me to let go of where I feel powerless…that surrender to a higher wisdom with the greater good in mind. Surrender is rarely easy, but once I truly give something over, I do feel a lightening of sorts.

How to write your prayer? No one can tell you how to write your personal prayer. I won’t try…I’ll only invite you to write one that truly reflects who you are and what you feel, need and desire in these times–for yourself, others, the earth.

The Eagle is a prayer-poem written by Joy Harjo. I memorized this poem many years ago.  It begins:
“To pray, you open your whole self to the sky to the earth to the sun to the moon
to one whole voice that is you and know that there is more that you can’t see, can’t hear, can’t know except in moments steadily growing and languages that aren’t always sound but other circles of motion.”

Have a peaceful day.

Chronicles of C.G.

In school and ever after, I’ve been a note taker.  It seems that is my way to take in information and let it settle.  By writing it down, it becomes, somehow, my own.

Self-observation enables you to bring validity to what you write about.  You are the supreme noticer of your own life.

Several years ago, a friend wanted to improve her writing.  She took classes with me for one year.  In preparing the weekly lesson for her, I became a greater witness to my own daily experience.  With this self-witnessing, I could effectively guide her into her own process.

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Trust in the Morning

Crafting a writing lesson for my student
on What do poets write about
Up with the dawn and early morning thunder
which in my half-sleep state
I thought were train cars colliding
the train whistle blasting news
of the disaster
–cars derailing, toppling domino-style–
and it was too early for me to get up
and investigate
Reaching over to tap on my lamp
I saw the electricity was out
wandered to the back room
drawing the blinds, a flutter of light
over the horizon
followed by its companion thunder
I stood outside in the middle of the
deck as robust raindrops fell softly–
generously
I brought in wood for the fire
though it wasn’t cold
placed the kettle on the woodstove
ate a banana
logged the calories in my diet record
rekindled the fire–it took me two tries to get it going
I went back to bed with books, pen and paper
to plan her lesson

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WRITING PROMPT

Choose a part of your day and chronicle it.  Write for twenty to thirty minutes.  Write in any form that is comfortable for you–poetry, prose, essay, listing, whatever flows.

Read what you wrote aloud.

Have a lovely day whatever you do today.

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