Happy Pesach

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Passover begins at sundown this evening. Some years there are conflicts. We travel to my mother-in-law’s more often than not for Easter or right before Easter when the kids are on recess, and so we’ll only observe Passover for part of the eight days. Even after my baptism, we continue to celebrate.

This year Easter was early and we aren’t able to travel to Grandma’s for recess because my oldest son is in school and working two and a half jobs so timing didn’t work out for visiting.

However, we will be home for the entirety of Passover.

To be truthful, I hadn’t really decided to celebrate/observe until I was in the grocery store shopping. I was supposed to get a roasting chicken and potato pancake mix for tonight’s dinner, but I could feel the D-A (depression/anxiety) clueing me in that it was going to be difficult to me for this holiday.

While I want to do Passover (even if we don’t usually do a seder), I could not feel the cooking.

I looked through my wallet and found the raincheck for chicken tenders. I heard the lightbulb click in my head; over my head.

Fake it.

No roast chicken, no standing over a stove frying latkes (we eat more latkes during Passover than during Chanukah), and that’s it. Fake it.

Chicken tenders, frozen potato pancakes, can of cranberry sauce, matzoh. Lunch – gefilte fish.

I can do this.

My point is simply that there are ways to get around those pokes that depression uses to try and bring you to lethargy and apathy. It isn’t a fail safe. There will be depressive moments. There will be times when you have to ask for family for more patience and support, but when it’s important, try. That’s all you can ask yourself.

I wanted to celebrate Passover. It’s important to me to continue these traditions, for my kids to understand their Exodus from Egypt. Even before the Eucharist, I’ve always talked about Passover in the present.

Why do we celebrate Passover, I’ve been asked. We were slave, and we’re leaving Egypt. We’re escaping. We’re crossing the Red Sea. We carry the matzoh with us. It’s happening in the past, the future, and now. it is within and without time.

History and heritage are important.

So is dinner.

Food is the lifeblood of culture and family.

Sometimes depression gets the best of me, but it can never win because I keep fighting, I keep moving forward, I keep keeping on.

I fake it unhtil I don’t have to anymore, and then I fake it again, but I keep going.

Happy Pesach.

Prince

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I wanted to share my small contribution in tribute to Prince. As I expressed yesterday, he was second only to Duran Duran in my young adulthood, and like an old friend, he was there, he wasn’t, and he was back again. He will be missed.

Here are two more tributes:

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I couldn’t get the You Tube so you could just view the video. If it turns up later, I’ll edit the post. In the meantime, follow the link to Hamilton: An American Musical’s Facebook page to see their tribute to Prince at the end of last night’s performance.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1365251296835077&id=1077764972250379

Reflection on the Art

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The third week came faster than I expected. I was running late, flustered, settling my crap, grabbing my tea, dropping my keys, but once I sat in the circle it all went away.

Calmness overtook everything.

Despite my backache and my knee being difficult, I sunk into the chair, and all that was there from that moment on was the group of women and the Gospel women from our readings.

I am loving the collages. I didn’t even realize that I focused on the woman who anoints Jesus until I started talking about my design and the addition of the tea.

Since I’ve done two collages already with the reddish-brown board, so I’ve already decided to use the same board for my third and final art thingy.

I can kind of envision them set up 1-2-3 in a row in my office. I do need to redo. my mantle so these may fit in with that opportunity.

In looking at the two side by side, I am already planning some aspects of next week’s art.

The readings are Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42) and the Women at the Foot of the Cross (John 19:25-30). My mind has already gone to the women at the cross. The women are always present. The disciples are in hiding but not the women. Part of that reaon is that women are invisible. They are not thought of as a threat or of any kind of importance and so they are ignored.

More importantly, though, they are witnessed. They are the ones to tell the story; the history of the Christ. His Mother Mary gave him life, and Mary Magdalene was the first to see him after the Resurrection and was the one to carry the story to the disciples.

They are the storytellers, like I am with my writing.

It hit me while I was eating lunch after the third week’s group that my boards are connected through my writing and the last reading – the women at the cross – the storytellers are the beginnings of writing – the oral storytellers that pass it down for generations until someone finally wrote it down.

In addition to the reddish board, I’m thinking of using the yellow ribbon, a feather to make a quill and possibly another black and yellow butterfly wing to tie all three boards together.

I will definitely share it next week after our last session.

Continue reading

Bow, Daffodil, and Keys

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I’m pretty happy with my project for this second week, but not as pleased as how my first one came out. As I said to Sister Sue this morning, last week’s project was perfect. Everything just came together the way it was meant to, and I continued all week to look at it, and enjoy the connection I had with the board. This one has different elements that ended up relating back to the scripture of the woman who anoints Jesus.

I hadn’t realized it at first, but it is funny how these things work out. I approached the materials with a blank mind; a blank slate. I looked at the items and took what struck my fancy. I wasn’t avoiding anything except maybe the Scrabble tiles. Those give a certain distinction to last week’s board as did the puzzle pieces, which I also avoided.

Everything else was fair game.

We begin in the circle and think back on the readings, discuss a little, and then go immerse ourselves in the materials and see what turns up. What I really noticed today more than last week was the quiet, although I’m sure it was there then as well. There were a few whisperings, a few requests to pass the glue or glue stick, but for the most part, we each spend the time in our own space, choosing our items, and putting them on our boards. As I’ve said before, I like to gather my items and then lay them out on the board, getting a feel for what I’m called to do.

One of the things that I recalled about the woman who anoints Jesus is how independent she was. She didn’t ask permission, either from him or any of the others in the house. She broke open the jar and poured out the oil. When she is admonished for wasting the oil and losing the possible income from it, Jesus defends her. He declares that we will remember her for what she has done this day. It is one of the only times that he talks about remembering someone other than himself.

In my mind, she might have cared what Jesus thought, but she definitely didn’t care what any of the others did. She did what needed to be done at that moment.

That is so often a woman’s prerogative; her thing. We just do. And consequently, it gets done. With apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda, Women, we get the job done.

1. When I began at the first materials table, I planned on only two things: the yellow border and the green rope with beads. Unfortunately, the rope was too thick to slide the beads on, so I had to use a narrower ribbon. My intention was to line the beads, and then attach the rope to be the same length. It turned out that I had cut off too many ends to get the ribbon threaded through, so the rope ended up a bit longer than the ribbon. When I laid it horizontally, it made a smiley face. I did not want a smiley face and I was disappointed and running out of time since I had spent so much threading five effin’ beads!
I turned it ninety degrees, and immediately noticed it made a bow shape. Again with a bow and archery. Sister Sue commented on the change of perspective, and I mentioned that I’m a Sagittarius so bows are kind of my thing.

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2. From that point I had already taken the two feathers and wanted them crossed. They don’t glue well, so I stapled them and then added the green straw on top to hide the staples. The straw is not as nice as I would have liked.

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3. The old-fashioned Corona typewriter was the perfect picture. I found it in a furniture catalog, and I put the tilted frame around it. I also added a table top organizer which also came from that furniture catalog with mail sticking out, flowers, and with a clock attached. These are some of the things I try to have in my own corner office despite the differences in picture aesthetics and three-dimensional.

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4. Originally inside the tilted frame, I took out the wooden flower box of daffodils. They are my favorite flower, and remind me of my spiritual home of Wales.

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5. Again, the butterfly wings are for my mother. One wing is the same one I used in the first board, and I plan on using it again if I can find the same one for next week. The green wing was simply because it was green.

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6. I added the fabric for no reason other than that they were flowers and for another variety of texture.

7. At this point it was complete, but there was still something missing. I couldn’t figure out what that was when it suddenly hit me: tea! I ran to the retreat center’s kitchen and grabbed one tea bag, opened it up, and sprinkled it on the glue. I patted it down, and shook the excess off. That caused the bow to fall off, and the straw to move around but nothing that couldn’t be corrected. Once that was fixed it was ready for the circle.

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**While we were talking about which reading spoke to us, I talked a bit about not thinking about any of them, but the strong woman who anoints Jesus really called out to my subconscious. It wasn’t until at the end, when I was wiping away the excess tea that I related the tea to the expensive oil. Some could say that I wasted the tea – it is both a food and emotional sustenance as well as an expensive commodity, exotic in some places, everyday in others, and the same could be said for the expensive oil that the woman breaks open for Jesus.

Some things are worth the time and the money expended, and when it is time for those things, we will know it.

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Tomorrow: Some thoughts in preview of next week’s readings.

Among Women – My Board

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When I had included this as part of my reflection on the Gospel Women readings, I found that it just didn’t flow the way I wanted it to, and I realized that it was due in part because it really should have been more of a bullet point or list of what I chose and why I chose it. Looking at the original bowl of items and board to use for the collage, I am struck by how it went from nothing to something so magnificent. I really love the finished product. Despite being unfinished in some ways, adding more would take away from what it’s expressing.

In looking back at the process, I can safely say that I practically put it together in the order that I gathered the items. Not entirely, and in my “first draft”, I did move things around, although, again it is nearly identical to the original concept that I laid out before the adhesives.

1. Our board choices were very simple: white, black or reddish-brown. As you can see I took the reddish brown one. I thought that white was too stark and black was too dark, and I usually stay away from reds. I took that one to be a bit bolder than I usually am. This retreat house is where I do most of my artistic work, from the mandala weekend to an illuminated initial at the most recent weekend; it is where I always bring my sketchbook and colored pencils. I think the space is welcoming so that I feel that I can attempt art safely whereas I can write anywhere.

2. I wasn’t sure about the butterfly wings. They are real wings, taken from the Conservatory where the butterflies lived their whole lives. No butterflies were harmed in the collection of their wings. My mother used to love butterflies, and I would get her some sort of butterfly thing – pin, notebook, trinket box for her birthday, Christmas/Chanukah, and Mother’s Day. Consequently, when she died, I got her collection, and seeing butterflies makes me think of her, so I’m drawn to them. In the little plate, there were beautiful, bright blue ones that I believe come from the Karner Blue Butterfly, a local variety in the Albany Pine Bush. There was also a bright orange and black dotted one that I think was a Monarch. The one I chose was yellow with black. Everyone thinks bumble bee with those colors, but for me, they are Hufflepuff, my Harry Potter house. They speak to me of loyalty, and friendship, perseverance, and strength. They are courage and truth. They are also a visual reminder of my being brought back to writing and the internet community that held me, supported me, and welcomed me, and who continues to give me the gift of friendship and creativity. So much from such a little wing.

*One thing that struck me about my collage was that I am a very symmetrical person, and there is nothing in this grouping that is symmetrical. I chose one wing rather than two. In my mind, it seems odd, but looking at it, it is perfect.

3. I glanced at the pile (very large pile) of magazines and newspapers taking up a third of the table. The word travel caught my eye, and that was all I was going to take, but then the subtitle, 4 Life-Changing Journeys drew my eye. I was going to take travel and journeys, but then the whole phrase – 4 life-changing journeys – really grabbed me, not only as something I’ve been feeling this year and last, but also as a fantastic writing prompt to use in future days. What four life-changing journeys have I been on in recent years? What a perfect way to organize some thoughts, and so I took the whole thing. I tore the small rectangle out and put the magazine back in the pile. Before I could move off, I noticed another article about 50 tips to feel amazing. It had to do with getting healthy and avoiding chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure, but it was the 50 that took me by the hand. I will be turning fifty at the end of the year, and one of my goals is to write weekly reflections. I’ve been somewhat neglectful, but the number, bold and in red, needed to come. I tore off the whole cover and thought to look at it more closely. It wasn’t until I was back at my seat that I noticed the tagline of the magazine: Real Possibilities. I cut out possibilities and I had all the words I thought I would need.

4. Wherever, whatever I’m doing, I’m attracted to my favorite color green, and the puzzle pieces had them in abundance. I didn’t look at the finished puzzle on the box cover, but I took a few pieces that might fit together; they probably wouldn’t but they only needed to look as if they might. I like puzzle pieces. They come apart easily, but also go back together just as easily. They connect, and if connected the right way, they create a path to a finished product. I took a few, and then went back for a couple more, having six in all. There was no meaning to having six, and one was more yellow than green or blue, but it was something I needed to have for my board.

**My board was supposed to be a reflection of the two Gospel women we’d thought about all week. I was drawn to a different suggestion by Sister Sue and that was how I was related to them, how I saw myself, and this became more of a vision board or a me board – things I am, things I want to be, things that can be, a positive meditation.

5. When I excitedly approached the Scrabble tiles, I was looking for a K, my first initial. When I got there, I began to touch the tiles, turning them over to see which letters were available. I stopped looking for the K, and began to think about the reflections and the readings, and I don’t know why but I wanted Writer. It wouldn’t let go. It wasn’t until I returned to my seat to lay out the board that I moved the R off to the side. The question arose in the design: Am I a writer? Is it more important to be a WRITER? Or is it more important to do the writing regardless of status? Being a writer is something important – being published, being liked, but the writing calls to me. It is always there; it has always been there.

6. The foam stars and circles were just fun. I definitely only wanted green and yellow. The foam is squishy, and somehow childlike. I am also reminded of the stars and the moon in the sky. I have a real affinity for the full moon shining down on me as I sleep.

*** Last summer I tried to do something like this with my two youngest kids. I picked out fabric and doodads. I had them pick some out as well. We did it on cork with pushpins. It was nice for about a day and a half, and then they all fell apart. After this experience, I may try and do it again with them using glue instead of the tacks. They enjoyed it, and it expressed who they are and their likes and dislikes.

7. Of course, I found some butterfly cutouts from a greeting card. The same as the wing, they are for my mother, and the nature of the butterfly. Their freedom, their color, their strength amidst their delicateness.

8. The fabrics. The blue bud surrounded by the green spidery leaves matched one of the butterflies on the card. I knew I only wanted two buds. I don’t know why. I usually take things in threes or fours. The green fabric had leaves and sticks crisscrossing each other. I began to cut out a pile of sticks in that crisscross, campfire pattern when I noticed that the sticks made a K. I had found my initial after all, so I cut it and placed it in the upper left hand corner. I toyed with the idea of outlining it in a green Sharpie, but I decided to simply leave it as is. I knew what it was. Most people would notice the letter K. I liked it’s surprise and it’s simplicity. I added one larger leave in the lower right hand corner from the same fabric.

****When I got home, there was a parcel waiting for me – my always keep fighting shirt. This one offers to love yourself first. Much like on an airplane when the oxygen mask comes down, you put it on yourself so you can help others. It’s also important to not forget that we are important. Me. I am important and I am valued, and deserve some time to take care of me. That is why I go on these retreats, these reflective workshops. I have also been reading Pope Francis’ The Joy of Love, his newest exhortation and in around the third or fourth chapter, he expresses this very thing – love yourself first. That isn’t to say be selfish, but be who you are and love that person.

9. To the fabric, I added the green feather. I’m often attracted to feathers. They fall off birds, they are added onto Native American garments and mean many things. I have some feathers on my dream catcher that my friend gifted me with. Feathers are also used as fletches for arrows and as a Sagittarius, I try to follow the bow. The arrow is also known for flying straight, finding its mark, and not leading us astray.

10. I don’t think there was a concrete reason for taking the green straw. I hadn’t realized how difficult it would be to glue down, but I wanted it. Maybe it is something of nest building. perhaps it is taking something that is not much of anything and turning it into something of beauty and reflected joy.I don’t know, but I also don’t think the the board would work without it.

****So much from so many littles.

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Gospel Women – Week 3

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Today is the third week of the retreat workshop/contemplation/art commune that I’ve been taking. We spend the week reading and thinking about the two women, and then after a short discussion, we art.

I’d like to share with you the readings for anyone that was interested in doing this at home.

The first woman of the Gospel is the woman caught in adultery. The reading can be found at John 8:1-11.

Our second woman is the woman who anoints Jesus in Bethany. That Scripture can be found at Mark 14:3-9.

Later this afternoon or tomorrow, I’ll share what  came about in today’s hands-on portion.

What Ihave found in the past two weeks and four readings thus far is that we can not only see ourselves in these Gospel women, but often we see the women around us, who encourage us to look at things a little differently and who love and support us. I can only hope to be one of those women to someone else.

Rough Riders

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I’ve been following Aftershock Comics for awhile now. They’re a new comic publisher co-founded by my friend’s brother. Mike Marts has previously edited over at Marvel and DC. I was excited to see this new venture of his and publisher, Joe Pruett.

I immediately signed onto their Facebook, and saw this come up on my feed at the same time my middle son was begging me to read some comic books with him.

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I asked my friend if Adam Glass, the writer credited on the cover was the same Adam Glass who’s writing I’ve loved for so long on the CW’s Supernatural, and was given a resounding YES! My family was so excited to buy me a comic book that we immediately popped over to our local comic shop on Sunday afternoon as soon as church ended, and picked up a copy.

My son seems to think this is my first comic book. It’s not. When I was a kid, I read Green Arrow, Star Trek, and even own a collector’s copy of the Death of Superman. One of my husband’s first gifts to me while we were dating was a signed copy of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

In issue 1 of Rough Riders, we meet Teddy Roosevelt and Jack Johnson. By the end of this introduction, they’re on their way to add Harry Houdini to their group. Yes, my ridiculously meta self checked and all of the principals on the cover were alive at the time of the date on the cover – 1898. I think there is a bit of a time travel, but I’m not sure as it’s only just begun.

History, Steampunk, and Adam Glass….what could go wrong?!

Congratulations!

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Mondays have been increasingly more difficult for me. They come too quickly and our Sundays tend to run late with the Walking and Talking Dead series. I will try to be better prepared to have something to share on Mondays, but in the meantime, today happened to be a pretty great day for the cast and crew of Hamilton and for Lin-Manuel Miranda in particular.

In addition to the well-deserved accolades, awards and upcoming expectations of Tony Award acknowledgment, today it was announced that Lin-Manuel Miranda was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for Hamilton.

Three cheers for him. Well done, sir! Well done!

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