Saturday, August 12, 2017

Mindfullness: Despair is Not an Option

Mindfullness

Below is part of an article by Robin Chancer.
It has been my goal not to get into politics on my blog.  But the current situation brings me to re-consider.  Robin is a professional therapist and she is writing this article to address what she sees as a growing problem of depression among many people regarding the current state of affairs in our country.  My current pre-occupation with reading Dark Money has brought me into the realm of some serious thoughts about all this.  You can read the full article here.
The part about using "mindfulness" as a help in steadying one's course was useful to me.  As I so believe that "attention" and "mindfulness" play a large role in life.  Despair is not an option!

"Mindfulness —essentially, the art of shifting attention — is revolutionizing mental health care. Current research in mental health demonstrates enormous benefits to mindfulness practice. In order to promote well being, we can learn to practice mindful attention both to the present moment and to the good as we understand it. Faced with a frequently depressing, maddening world, this can mean focusing intently on the inspiring work going on around us in a multitude of spheres. Each time you feel hopelessness creep in, focus your attention on the kindness, generosity, and good will around you. We are witnessing an unprecedented blossoming of activism. If our eyes are tuned to the light, we will find the light — in the surge of donations to ACLU, in churches offering sanctuary to immigrants, in town hall meetings packed with civically engaged citizens — everywhere.
Each time the tapes of despair and anger play in your mind, doggedly shift your focus. The mind will wander, again and again. Each time it happens, we notice the anxious thoughts, and shift our focus back. The anxious mind will scream, “How could our President cut Meals on Wheels? What a monster! Those poor people!” Then, shift focus back to the good, “The program has seen a 500% increase in volunteers since the cuts were proposed. Maybe I could get involved!”
You may object, “But I can’t just forget all the terrible things going on!” You are right. Mindfulness is not about forgetting. It is about shifting focus to what is most immediate and most helpful. We help no one by staying in our anguish for long. Bernie Sanders said it best: “Despair is not an option.”




Saturday, August 5, 2017

Studio Time in August


I thought I'd start out this morning with something really bright and cheerful.  Greg and I use inexpensive pocket folders to keep our life organized.  I mean we have a folder for just about everything.  They are lightweight and travel well too.  So when I find a stack of them on sale at a garage sale...like 5 for 50 cents above...I grab them.  Nowadays since I have a mono print system at hand I decorate them in happy, funky ways just to please myself and make a happy statement.  The acrylic paint helps to make them sturdier too.  It takes me like half an hour to do this and the cheery folders get stacked in a vertical file near my desk for use (or replacement of old folders).  




Now this is not as "colorful" but hopefully it will be some day soon. It is what I am working on right now.  This is a very FIRST draft of a house painting commission I am working on.  I used to do quite a few of these "in the olden days" just after I retired.  It was fun to do and I think it appeals because I enjoy interesting architecture and the challenge of making something that will bring folks pleasure.  But they take a long time and are quite challenging.

Often the house is one that folks want to remember.  And, in fact,  the owner has this house up for sale so wants to remember it.  This sketch is on tracing paper and will be when I get it right...the basis for transferring the house to watercolor paper.  I've penciled in the shadows thrown by the afternoon sun on the lawn and roof. 

It's a lovely home in Lake Geneva, WI and I took reference photos last spring in May when we were heading north.  Now I need to have it done so that I can deliver it in October heading south.  

Although it's not completely obvious in the sketch, the house is landscaped beautifully (the owner is a master gardener) and it is surrounded by lush woods.  Everything is so green in May in southern WI it almost takes your breath away.   So I am awaiting the owner's ideas about the floral colors and since I took the photos the garage doors have been replaced.  So I need photos of those.

I will then sit down with scrap watercolor paper and start to play with colors.  I want to give the sky a spring blue with some fluffy clouds. The house is a lovely mauve brown with slightly darker shingles and barn red shutters. It will be challenging.  And a lot of work.  But hopefully I can do it justice.  

ps. have you noticed that the Halloween decorations are out in the stores now?  Sigh.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Making reminders of Blessed Memories



Friend Florie took this photo of me last week during out outdoor painting session at Camp Jorn.  Once in a while we get really nice weather on a Thursday morning.  Rare.  But possible.  I posted this sketch already (scroll back one).  

I am reminded this morning of how important visual reminders become over time.  Sketches or photographs both.

Did I mention I just finished reading Being Mortal by Atul Gawande recently.  I am sure I did. 

Garrison Keillor's blog posted a sweet/sad little poem that reminded me of this book again and of the visual reminders.

 The poem reminded me more of saying good bye to my own homes after I sold them...sometimes I take photos of the empty rooms.  They become reminders of "blessed memories" in those spots.  

On Closing the Apartment of my Grandparents 
of Blessed Memory 


And then I stood for the last time in that room.
The key was in my hand. I held my ground,
and listened to the quiet that was like a sound,
and saw how the long sun of winter afternoon
fell slantwise on the floorboards, making bloom
the grain in the blond wood. (All that they owned
was once contained here.) At the window moaned
a splinter of wind. I would be going soon.

I would be going soon; but first I stood,
hearing the years turn in that emptied place
whose fullness echoed. Whose familiar smell,
of a tranquil life, lived simply, clung like a mood
or a long-loved melody there. A lingering grace.
Then I locked up, and rang the janitor’s bell.







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