Category: Blogger of the Month

Cynthia Stevison

Top 7 Wellness Plan Tips

Contributed by September Blogger of the Month, Cynthia Stevison

No one told me that recovery was possible. I hid because of the discrimination and the stigma surrounding my mental health issues. By sharing my story I want to give you hope of healing. I have a wellness plan. I saw little growth at first. Changes can be slow and frustrating.

You must start somewhere.

Recovery and healing is a long process. Be prepared to be humble and patient with yourself. Learn to practice a judgment free zone. This is a lifelong journey.

Cynthia Stevison

When I started focusing on wellness living it enabled me to live a better life.

When I retired I thought my life would stop but it has expanded further than I ever imagined. I am an author, entrepreneur, coach, and an advocate. Now on the other side of recovery I look back and I can see growth over the last ten years.

Yes, I still battle with depression however my life is manageable and happy.

We are all unique beings on different paths. We are all constantly evolving creatures.

I want to share my tips discovering wellness one step at a time.

Top 7 Tips for a wellness plan

People with mental health issues are a higher risk for medical illnesses. Let’s get started on a plan now.

  1. Get a journal

Expressive writing for 15 to 20 minutes a day over the course of several months has been found to reduce stress and significantly reduce sickness. It can get you thinking. Writing can let you relive events in a safe environment. Counselors and therapist often encourage their clients to journal. The key is to focus on what you are thinking and feeling during the writing exercise. Writing makes it real. Just a few minutes writing provides me with a sense of relief.

  1. Eat three healthy meals a day

Try to reduce your intake of refined sugars and caffeine. Eating three healthy meals a day is a challenge. This improves your health. Try to avoid eating fast food. Old habits are hard to break. Remember caffeine can trigger mania and impair sleep. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t skip meals. Be mindful of what you put into your body. Start fresh each day. Drink water, then drink more water.

  1. Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep

Sleep plays a vital role in our well being. Getting enough sleep supports healthy brain function. Sleep helps your brain work properly. Sleep also plays an important role in your physical health too.

  1. Exercise 3x a week

Find what is best for you. These are examples: Yoga, Walking at a park, You Tube videos, find and join a local gym. Exercise improves your energy levels, and concentration. Exposure to the sun is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. This is associated with helping mood boosting and focused feelings. Exercise releases endorphins. It helps to reduce stress, improve self confidence and helps control addiction. It is simple

  1. Join outdoor activities

It is about impact, connection, and support. Opening yourself to others strengthens your community. It is a simple plan that takes practice. The light exposure can increase your level of vitamin D. This vitamin fights infection and helps regulate your immune system. Being outdoors can relieve depression and negativity. Discover nature’s healing powers. Natural environments hold a spiritual well being for us. When we connect with nature we connect with ourselves.

These are examples to help you get started: Visit your local dog park, take a bike ride, wildlife watching in your neighborhood. Start a garden, or go camping. Treat yourself to a backyard BBQ or go to the lake and bond with water sports.

  1. Support systems and social relationships

Learn to be around people. Make a point of getting out of the house. Social isolation is a recipe for trouble. Make a list of supportive people in your life. Stay in touch with them regularly. Focus on the positive things in your life.

Go visit a relative or take a class. Join a book club or have friends over for game night. Schedule a potluck dinner with family or friends. Find a local casual team sport or join a local support group. Remind yourself of gratitude.

  1. Crisis plan

There is no one size fits all solution to mental health. Believe in your plan and let it be your compass. Mental illness doesn’t define a person. Check with your local law enforcement about Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT). Our lives are always changing and certain circumstances can trigger us: death, trauma, stress, illness, divorce. We can plan ahead. Make sure your crisis plan is disclosed to your support team. Include phone numbers, crisis hotlines, doctors, medication and diagnoses. Make sure your plan is followed by everyone. Construct an accountability plan too. Remember it is helpful to forgive. Practicing a manageable life can be difficult but keep trying. Soon your body and mind will get into a rhythm. It is okay not to be alright all the time.

Cynthia Stevison

Everything changes, good things, bad things, satisfying and unsatisfying and so on. Following these tips can help you build better habits. This will give you an opportunity to take control of your destiny and maybe find relief by mending old wounds. Doing small shifts in energy can make a more peaceful and centered you. Maybe these tips will help you experience a few things in order to open up space for positive interactions. Use these tips as a compass.

Start with one or two goals. Remember, you carve the plan. Do things your way. Soon your

body and mind will get into a rhythm. It takes lots of practice. Start each day fresh. Don’t judge yourself.

 

Cynthia StevisonCynthia Stevison is the author of The Tree of Happiness available on Amazon. She writes about mental health awareness and you can read more about mental health and happiness on her blog, Root Words Alliance. She is a speaker and an entrepreneur. Cynthia earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. She lives in Oklahoma.

Cynthia Stevison

September Blogger of The Month – Why I Blog

Contributed by September Blogger of the Month, Cynthia Stevison

Why my wellness is connected to my writing.

Have you ever ask yourself why you do something? Then your thoughts intertwine.

When I ask was asked myself “why I blog” this happened to me.

I listed and sorted them into piles.

Blogging helps me find my voice.

I stuttered in my early childhood. I’m in the middle of the introvert scale. I’ve always liked solitude. People told me that I was an “old soul”. My mother excused my behavior as “shy” when I was young. My mind wandered aimlessly until I started writing.

I searched for decades for my voice. When I began journaling I heard my voice. My voice was loud but only to me. For awhile it worked. Then it didn’t. My voice needed an audience to influence. Next I wrote a book and published it.

Well that still was not enough.

I needed to be accountable for my transformation and I wanted to create good writing habits. I needed to write everyday because writing gave me a purpose. I started blogging.

Blogging gives me a platform to reach people.

It makes me a better thinker. How big is my audience? I don’t know. I’m blogging because I have the ability to use my voice to inspire. I am a storyteller. I tell my stories over social media. The content comes from a place inside. Authenticity is the key. I never want to lose my voice.

Why do I like about blogging?

I can see my growth and I like the challenge to come up with content.

Some people like watching T.V or playing video games. I like to listen and watch people. I see conversations in sentences and paragraphs. I like word building. I am a better person because I blog. When I try to come up with content I am learning. It wakes up my brain. I think the word “enlightened” comes to mind. When my mind is enlightened my confidence builds and I am willing to have more conversations which lead to more human experiences.

Yes, I do get paid for some of the blogging. I get paid to do what I love. I love to write.

Cynthia StevisonCynthia Stevison is the author of The Tree of Happiness available on Amazon. She writes about mental health awareness and you can read more about mental health and happiness on her blog, Root Words Alliance. She is a speaker and an entrepreneur. Cynthia earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. She lives in Oklahoma.

Our Lives Are Sometimes Messy

Contributed by September Blogger of the Month, Cynthia Stevison

Our lives are sometimes messy. Have you ever had one of those days when everything falls apart?

It is a typical Saturday morning. I roll out of bed about nine-ish to start my coffee. In the kitchen I step in a wet spot on the floor. I got a paper towel to wipe up the liquid. I take a sniff to determine the odor. There is no scent but I blame the dog. Only one dog is allowed to roam out of the kennel at night. He is a fourteen year old beagle named Ralph Waldo Emerson aka Waldo. I clean up the mess and let all the dogs outside. I proceed to make my coffee. I sit down at the bar and write a list of all the errands my spouse and I have to do today.

  1. Pick up grandchild
  2. Put up the pool
  3. Go to the grocery store
  4. Clean house

These are simple tasks for a Saturday.

We change our clothes and head out the door. I jump in the driver’s seat ready to rock the day. I pull out of the driveway and notice the gas light is on. So I head straight to the gas station to fill up. Then I notice the tire light is engaged and the passenger tire is low.  I stop to get some air. Did you know air cost seventy-five cents now? Well I didn’t have quarters. Not that I would pay seventy-five cents for air anyway.  So I leave to look for FREE air. I guess I must have gone to three or four stations and then I find one with free air.  

We drive thirty minutes to meet our daughter and son in law to pick up our granddaughter for a weekend visit. When we return home there is a large amount of water on the kitchen floor. My spouse looks for the mystery cause. The new refrigerator water line has sprung a leak. Apparently the old copper line we hooked up to our new ice maker is seeping.  We mop the floor. More water than I thought.

I invited five of our grandkids over to swim today. Lord, have mercy.

We make a plan, one will work on setting up the pool and the other will focus on the escaping water.  I unload the pool and begin setting up.

My spouse goes to the nearest hardware store to purchase copper tubing to replace the line. I get the pool blown up and the water started. My granddaughter is patiently waiting for her cousins to join us by watching Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Day.  I realize this may seem cliché but I recorded it earlier during the week on Direct TV.

My spouse returns after about an hour reporting that the hose has fallen out of the pool and water is running down the driveway. You’re kidding me right? This can’t be happening. I convince my granddaughter to go outside with me to watch the pool fill with water.  It’s hot outside. The kind of hot when all your ice melts when your then you plastic cup melts.

My perfect day has been destroyed by chaos. Please take me away to a sandy beach with a margarita right now. When will this day end?

My other daughter arrives with her four boys. The pool is filled with water and all the kids jump in. I relax for the first time today.

I open facebook to scan what others are doing. Everyone is having a wonderful weekend. All my friends are posting magical extraordinary summer pictures.

My spouse reports that the job will take about an hour to fix which really took four hours and is still is not fixed.

Cynthia Stevison

Seconds later I witness Niagara Falls. The one side of the pool is collapsing and the water is running free. I notice my two year old grandson standing near the air plug clapping and dancing. I grab the little one and try to save the as much air as I can. It takes time to get the life back to the pool. Meanwhile, I have five wet kids running in and out of the house.

My granddaughter screams “There are bugs in the pool!” I try to console her by dipping out what she thought might be a bug.

Next year the pool will be a cooler for adult beverages.

Back in my chair daydreaming things were normal, a big splash of cold water hits me in the face.

One of my grandsons used the super soaker to betray me. Do you think it’s possible to have more than one emotion at a time?  Is it possible to make mistakes when you are in a bad mood? Yes and Yes.  Inhale. Exhale. Deep breathe. I let a scream that shook the neighborhood. I tell my grandson to get out of the pool. He takes his towel and sits in “time out” beside me.

He said “I’m sorry grandma I just wanted to play with you. Please don’t be mad at me.”

I feel like the biggest jerk. I took my anger out on my grandson. I quickly ask for forgiveness. I ran to the pool picked up the super soaker and start a war.  We laugh and have a good time.  

When I return to my chair I remind myself of each healthy, happy, grandchild God has blessed us with.  

A messy life can be painful, valuable and a blessing.  We must learn to restore, recharge and revive ourselves.

Messiness is a human condition we all face.

I share this story to let you know we are all imperfect humans. Learn to love yourself in your life struggles.

Tips

  1. You are not alone. Give yourself permission to be imperfect
  2. Stop comparing yourself with others
  3. Learn to laugh.
  4. Share your story with others.
  5. Learn from your mistakes
  6. Practice Gratitude
  7. Learn to take deep breaths
  8. Everyone makes mistakes
  9. You can’t run from your problems
  10. Learn to recharge yourself

Cynthia StevisonCynthia Stevison is the author of The Tree of Happiness available on Amazon. She writes about mental health awareness and you can read more about mental health and happiness on her blog, Root Words Alliance. She is a speaker and an entrepreneur. Cynthia earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. She lives in Oklahoma.

Mari Farthing – Why I Blog

Contributed by August Blogger of the Month, Mari Farthing

Why do I blog?

I ask myself this question fairly often. Especially on those days when the words don’t flow, and I find myself flailing for an idea. Why do I even bother? Does anyone even care? Who even reads it? Why do I do it at all?

Back in the early 2000s, when we were all wearing chunky highlights and chunkier heels and there was still no such thing as a smartphone, I started a MySpace page. I was convinced it was the wave of the future, but this Betamax format was soon eclipsed by the VHS of Facebook. I didn’t want to convert. I already started MySpace and liked how it worked! Plus, I had posted a series of essays on MySpace, usually preceded by a tiny tingle of trepidation, putting my personal words out there for all the world to see.

Soon, I gave in, I got rid of the beta and switched to VHS, metaphorically speaking, and traded MySpace for Facebook. I had boards of flair (How fun! Whatever happened to those?) and I played Mafia Wars and kept pages of notes where I continued to write little ranty or funny essays (mostly ranty) and memes.

I started to hear about this blogging phenomenon. I figured, what the heck? And started my own little blogspot blog. I populated it with those old MySpace posts at first, and then kept going. This blog was where I posted about music, about struggling with being a military mom, about my kids and how much I loved them or how much I was made crazy by them (usually both).

Blogging became an outlet, a necessary way to vent steam, to send out ideas, to get feedback from people. Eventually it also became a place to connect to people I would never have met. Blogging has connected me with people and places and things that matter to me now—people and places and things that I wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to know.

When times were hard, I had a place to vent. Blogging forced me to see the silver lining, to find the lesson in the hardship because I didn’t want to always put negativity out there. Blogging taught me that I wasn’t alone, that other people think about things like I do or have an interesting counter point to make.

I’ve made connections both near and far. Blogging filled a void in me like nothing else could. I joined blogging groups—first, the Music Mamas, a bunch of moms who would write about music, and when asked for my blog name, I said “Mari’s Virtual Notebook,” the first name that popped into my head and the name I regretted for years. I recently changed it to “Mari, Quite Contrary” to better fit my general mood and to subtly reiterate that Mari sounds like Mary. I blogged at a magazine website about parenting stuff and I blogged for a book review website. I blogged about pop culture at Chick Wit. I helped to start up the Oklahoma Women Bloggers. I’ve lived a big life online, which suits me. Blogging let me express things that were hard to say out loud.

And now, I’m in a transition. My kids are older and while I’ve never solely focused on them, they don’t really want me to focus on them at all. I’m learning to share my thoughts and ideas in a different way. Blogging has given me a vocabulary to get through transitions. It’s given me an extended family to connect with, a family who cheers me on or commiserates with me or meets me for coffee or sends me a card, people who will stop me and tell me how much a post meant to them or made them laugh. It’s true, that old saying—you have no idea the people you touch every day with your words and deeds.

So, why blog?

Well, because I couldn’t do it any other way.

Mari FarthingAlong with being awkward, Mari Farthing blogs at MariFarthing.com and is a prolific social media presence (meaning she drinks copious amounts of coffee each morning and proceeds to avoid housework by surfing the internet). She’s a freelance writer and editor and mother of two.

The Last Day of Summer

Contributed by August Blogger of the Month, Mari Farthing

Well, it’s not really the last day of summer, just the last day of summer break. Used to be that we would fill this day with whatever we didn’t get enough of during the summer—pajamas and movies or field trips to fun places or swimming or whatever we desired.

But now my kids aren’t so much kids anymore. They’re more small adults who have more opinions about how their days are structured. This morning has been spent negotiating in how we were going to spend the rest of the day, balanced between must-do’s and want-to-do’s. There were pleas of fast food lunch and staying home to ride bikes and cries of but I don’t want to and meh.

I get “meh” a lot these days.

But we landed on an old favorite, agreed to spend some hours in one of our old favorite places—the zoo. When they were little, I don’t think a week would go by when we didn’t use our zoo pass for a visit.

I can’t count the number of hours or miles I’ve logged on those paths over the past 14 or so years. But this summer, with teenagers, I honestly can’t remember the last time we went. Maybe it was a school field trip?

The last time I brought them to the zoo, it hit me how time has passed. I walked with them through the brigade of moms with zipper bags of goldfish crackers and sweaty-headed toddlers and strollers and sippy cups and diaper bags and I got a little nostalgic for what was. But I did my time with the little ones. And now we go and it’s a new experience, with almost-grown-ups who crack jokes but still have starry-eyed wonder at the animals.

So you’ll see me, the older mom with the short hair and sensible shoes, walking with my children who are almost but not quite taller than me. But in my mind’s eye, it’ll be me with the goldfish crackers and the sweaty-headed toddlers, eyes filled with wonder.

okc zoo

Mari FarthingAlong with being awkward, Mari Farthing blogs at MariFarthing.com and is a prolific social media presence (meaning she drinks copious amounts of coffee each morning and proceeds to avoid housework by surfing the internet). She’s a freelance writer and editor and mother of two.

Which Personality Type Are You?

mari farthing

If you’re anything like me (I think the scientific term is easily distracted by shiny objects), you’ve clicked the link on Facebook and taken the 16 Personalities test to figure out just who you are.

I ended up as an INFP-T, which is a confusing way to say I’m a “mediator” personality type. I could have told you that—my preferred state is holding hands and singing kumbayah, and I loathe conflict. More than once I’ve said, unironically, Can’t we all just get along!?

The types are based on the Myers-Briggs test, which I’ve taken over the years in various iterations. The premise is that there are 16 basic personality types, using combinations of basic types: Introverted (I) or Extroverted (E), Sensing (S) or Intuition (N), Thinking (T) or Feeling (F), and Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

The N and F in the center of my type have been constants—though I don’t know that I agree but the way this is defined means that I make my decisions are not based on hard facts but on feelings. The first and last letters of my type have been more fluid—there are times when I’m more extroverted than introverted, for sure—I relate to that idea of the extroverted introvert.

The one that surprises me most is the last letter. I was always a J—focused, goal-oriented and orderly. But now I’m a P—casual and preferring a mix of work and play. As a woman of a certain age (cough—46—cough) I totally agree with this. I don’t worry about things the same way I used to. Whether this is a result of getting older, changing priorities as my children get older—as I get older—as my life changes, I’m not really sure. But I’m okay with it.

I don’t like to be defined by anything and I won’t let myself be boxed in by a website that tells me that I’m a four letter word (if you can call INFP a word, that is), but it does offer insight into why I am the way I am—like that it’s no surprise that I tend to speak in metaphors or that I hate being late or that if I don’t have a creative form of expression I get stabby. It reminds me that I need time alone to recharge—but not too much time, because I an easily become a hermit.

There are lots of personality tests like this, but if you want to try the one I did, visit www.16personalities.com.

Mari FarthingAlong with being awkward, Mari Farthing blogs at MariFarthing.com and is a prolific social media presence (meaning she drinks copious amounts of coffee each morning and proceeds to avoid housework by surfing the internet). She’s a freelance writer and editor and mother of two.

August Blogger of the Month

September Blogger of the Month

When I saw the theme for this month, I jumped. Awkward is my jam, I’m so the right person to be the BOM this month. Who am I? I’m the silent partner who does the things behind the curtain. Think Wizard of Oz, not creepy neighbor (that one could go either way). I like to do things but I’m not good at being in charge. At least that’s what I tell myself.

I’ve been a part of the Oklahoma Women Bloggers since before it was a thing, working with Heather Davis under the guiding hand of the Park Wife to get this community started. Oklahoma needs this community, a place where bloggers can gather, grow and connect with one another. Blogging can be so isolating; connection is powerful.

So who am I, besides your awkward poster girl?

I’m a reformed pessimist with teenage kids and a change of life dog to fill the void. I’m a city girl who recently relocated from the suburbs to a bit more rural environment, just shy of an acre of land, half of which is feral woods where I fear that everything is poisonous and waiting to kill me. I’m a fair-weather runner who plans to run a half marathon, someday. I’m a mom who tries to find that recipe that will make her family (who all watch too much Food Network and who all feel compelled to give detailed criticism on dinner) just shut up and eat already. I’m a blogger who used to write about my kids but is refocusing because those kids are becoming adults. I get excited when I get to buy new pens and post it notes. I’m menopausal but still trying to figure out exactly who I am, and I’m figuring it out one step at a time.

I refuse to curate my life any longer but I do tuck in my crazy. And while I’m good at what I do, I don’t like to toot my own horn—but I will let my awkward flag fly.

Mari FarthingAlong with being awkward, Mari Farthing blogs at MariFarthing.com and is a prolific social media presence (meaning she drinks copious amounts of coffee each morning and proceeds to avoid housework by surfing the internet). She’s a freelance writer and editor and mother of two.

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The Art of Capturing The Reader’s Imagination

Submitted by Blogger of the Month, Letty Watt

readers imagination

“Her marriage had been like a new silk dress, so beautiful and undulating, except that after a while the edges of the sleeves grayed, there is a spot of wine, the hem drags…” While reading Anna Quindlen’s Still Life with Bread Crumbs I was struck by her descriptions, from similes to metaphors, and how easily I could recall a scene when written with figurative language. After all, I’ve been a teacher all of my life, and truly believe in the art of writing. Now I read for pure pleasure and delight. My imagination relies on the printed word to be powerful and descriptive so that I recall it by pictures, feelings both tactile and emotional, smells, sounds, and sometimes by drooling over tasty words.

Gail Haley (2)

Gail E. Haley, children’s award-winning illustrator and author, once showed a picture she’d drawn in a book called Birdsong to a group of children, and asked them if they could hear how noisy the page became when she opened the book. As you might guess, the children leaped to her side and began pointing at all of the noises occurring in that picture. The setting was of a village market place in a time long ago where an old woman sold captured birds in cages. Then tweet by tweet the children began to imitate the sounds of the birds on the page, the clanking of the pots and pans in the background, the chatter of the people selling and buying their wares, the clump of the horse’s hooves, the barking of the alley dogs, and the hungry meow of the cat looking at the caged bird. Like a stage production without a director the wind began to whoosh as a child flapped her wings, another child began to eat the soup, which led another to gobble down apples and oranges from the fruit stand. I laughed and joined in by humming some childhood song. Then the author closed the book and the noise stopped. That moment was like a whish back in time where I honestly thought I could smell that market place, all because of an imaginative idea that brought a picture in a book to life.

reader's imagination (2)

Walking Nature Home, a Life’s Journey by Susan J. Tweit shows the structure of her memoir in the landscape of the sky. Her chapters begin: Orion, Aries, Virgo… Each constellation in Tweit’s memoir suggests anticipation. “We walked downtown hand in hand, leaning into the waves of air that poured through the streets.” As the character in the story crisscrosses the decades and the countryside, so does the reader, and along the way we remember places she’s been because her language made it visceral. We felt the sting of the icy fog, the steady rain of snowflakes; we watched a raven suddenly fold its wings like a crumpled black leaf and somersault earthwards; we imagined pain so bad that it ate her mother’s appetite.

reader's imagination (1)

Most recently, I read The Nest by Cynthia Sweeney, a NYT bestselling novel about the Plumb family engulfed in emotional strife over the anticipated trust fund that was nearly dismantled by the arrogant oldest brother, Leo. Metaphors, irony, symbols, descriptive language, and thematic issues illuminate what money does to relationships. Each sibling is vividly portrayed: “Leo regarded the whole picture warily, like it was an opalescent shell found on the beach that was concealing something unsavory inside.”; “For Melody all the years of coupon cutting, working on the house (her nest) until her hands were cracked and bleeding…in the distance her fortieth birthday (dispensing of the trust fund) glowed like a distant lighthouse flashing its beam of rescue.” Along with the family of four the plot weaves through the demons and sorrows of 9/11; the broken limbs and souls from battle in Afghanistan to car wrecks and lust; the cost of establishing careers, and the consequences for choices made.

Words painted to describe our senses coax the reader to imagine another world, not in black and white print, but in full illumination of life’s journeys and emotions.

Letty WattWriting soothes my soul and clears my mind. I began writing my weekly blog, Literally Letty, with the purpose of building a repertoire of stories for telling aloud, and experimenting with style. Now I write because stories, hidden in the recesses of my mind, are begging to be shared.

 

 

 

 

Art Is…

Submitted by April Blogger of the Month, Letty Watt

My husband and I share a fascination for books and museums. Often, there is a museum or bookstore on our travel list. From the greatest to the least, it matters not to us, as we peruse our interests. This winter we spent a week with family in NYC and soaked our souls in visual memories from Battery Park to Central Park and from Tribeca to Brooklyn.

one world trade center

On our last day, we received an invitation to attend an auction at Sotheby’s Auction House. We sat silent and motionless as was watched and listened to “Fine Books and Manuscripts” being auctioned. An original four-panel Peanuts comic strip signed by Schulz sold for $12,500. A handwritten letter from Auguste Rodin sold for $1875. The carbon typescript of the corrected production script with technical notes for the radio story, War of the Worlds by Orson Welles sold for $30,000. I pinched my husband’s arm and smiled. Here we were experiencing a once in a lifetime moment, witnesses to dramatic words of art that we only knew of through newspapers and textbooks. We walked away in awe after watching an intense auction for Tennessee Williams’ working draft of the stage play A Streetcar Named Desire, which sold for $406,000. Little did I know how colorful and exciting the remainder of our day would become, and we won’t mention the Scotch Bars and musicians we enjoyed between 10 and midnight!

Our young curator collected catalogues of the sales for us and encouraged us to tour the rooms of items to be auctioned in the future. Imagine my wonderment when I entered the room decorated for a ‘wild rumpus’—the Maurice Sendak collection. Even though millions of children and adults know Sendak as an author and illustrator, Sendak preferred to be known as an artist. His imaginative use of color, design, and techniques demonstrate that his abilities as an artist come from his heart and mind.

Moo-Reese

The lure of color, texture, and richness drew us into the next showcase of “Tiffany Dreaming in Glass.” Barely breathing, I walked right up to the “Peacock” table lamp. The note read—circa 1905 with a rare blown glass reticulated base, leaded glass, favrile glass, and patinated bronze shade. I let out my breath then ever so gently I touched the lampshade. To be honest I petted the lampshade like I might a favorite dog. I knew I’d never be that close to a real Tiffany again. For a mere $70-$100,000 we could place bid or just dream.

peacock tiffany lamp

Wisteria Tiffany Lamp

Sotheby's catalogs

Sitting on our coffee table are the books we picked up at Sotheby’s. One entry read that Tiffany had a passion for incorporating art into everyday life and objects, by marrying artistic representations of the natural world with technical innovations. The writer’s words in the catalog helped me to appreciate the various patterns, tones, textures, jewels, and glass. It is that marrying of ideas, imagination, and talents that I so deeply admire in artist, whether it’s photography, paintings, sculptures, or written words. Art is exhilarating.

Letty WattWriting soothes my soul and clears my mind. I began writing my weekly blog, Literally Letty, with the purpose of building a repertoire of stories for telling aloud, and experimenting with style. Now I write because stories, hidden in the recesses of my mind, are begging to be shared.

 

Mindful Art

Contributed by April Blogger of the Month, Letty Watt

Walking down the sidewalk as a child often tweaked my imagination. One time I saw bullet holes all across the front a house. I ran home and told my parents that somebody had been shot. To my dismay that was not the truth. The truth, as my mother pointed out to me when we stood in front of house, was that those places that looked like holes were nothing more than dirt and mud splashed on the house probably by some ornery boys.  How disappointing for me, for my mind, I had created another picture. To this day, when I see a Jackson Pollock canvas I think of those mud splats on the white framed house, where I mentally created a colorful story out of chaos.

Letty Watt

As I matured, my eyes still saw things that others might have missed, and I began to think of these pieces as mindful art. When I was a single parent my daughter and I put thousands of miles on our little green Toyota driving from Western Kansas to anywhere. We chased a rainbow one day for miles out of our way, just to see where it ended. We drove by an old brick factory in SE Kansas. Pulling off the side of the road, I drew the smokestacks, some still tall and stately while others stood broken with bricks askew in nearly every scene. Our fascination with trees added more designs to my mind.  From those drawings I created macramé hangings using those geometric and textural organic designs. My husband and I drove through Biloxi, Mississippi a few years after Katrina. Our hearts were saddened by the depth of destruction, then out of nowhere “art” appeared in damaged trees. How remarkable to view this beauty in nature thanks to mankind.

Katrina tree

Traveling offers so many unique opportunities to see and imagine art in various forms.  A trip to Marble Head, Mass opened my mind to beauty of brightly painted front doors. Originally, or so the lore of the ocean tells me, when ships wrecked at sea the people of the shore would take what remains they could and put them to use in their homes.  Consequently, homes along the ocean’s edge were often decorated uniquely as people found a way to bring art into their homes. Recently, while walking the streets of Santa Fe I discovered many painted doors, and my mind gleefully recalled other memories of vibrant colors, unusual structures, or distorted shapes carved into art.

Santa Fe

Through Facebook and Instagram I’ve discovered that I’m not alone in creating mindful art, others see art in unique places like I do. Susan Dragoo takes professional photos of her hikes and travels, and shares them on Instagram.  With her permission I’m posting one of her photos from a recent trip to Duncan.  Looking at the shapes, colors, textures, makes me want to peel the paint and see what is hiding or ponder questions like: What has this truck seen or done? Where are the children who rode in the flatbed? Playing with ideas and questions creates a curious playground in my mind. It enlightens me, and keeps me ever mindful of art.

Susan Dragoo

Letty WattWriting soothes my soul and clears my mind. I began writing my weekly blog, Literally Letty, with the purpose of building a repertoire of stories for telling aloud, and experimenting with style. Now I write because stories, hidden in the recesses of my mind, are begging to be shared.

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