Finding Serenity

French writer, poet, and pioneering aviator, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, is popping up all over the place in my life right now. Recently I read The Little Prince (again) and loved the sweet, sad, and hopeful story. The author’s humble illustrations also remind me that when you draw from the heart, your images are true, and can last the test of time.

Just now, while ordering gifts online, this quote in a literary catalog, jumped out.

“It is always in the midst, in the epicenter, of your troubles that you find serenity.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I remember some of my past experiences when that statement was spot-on, accurate, and true. I think Santa just gave me my Christmas gift to last the whole year through.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Allow your heart to show you where to find peace.

Couldn’t We Make a Difference?

Today I can’t help but remember where I was almost 10 years ago on September 11, 2001. It was 8am, I had just dropped our three-year-old son at his new pre-school in a magnet school 30 minutes away from my home and office. Upon leaving, his pre-school teacher gave me a book, welcoming our family into the school community. I tucked Michele Pace Hofbauer’s Couldn’t We Make a Difference under my arm, drove down the thruway to my office, and started my day. I had not turned on the car radio.

Soon my husband called telling me of the devastating news of a plane crashing into the Twin Towers and as he was relaying this a colleague walked into his office revealing the additional traumatic event of the Pentagon’s attack. I heard his co-worker say the words through the telephone receiver before my husband had time to repeat them. What to do? We were devastated, scared, we didn’t yet know the full scope of our country’s violent attack.

Our son’s pre-school was on the way home from my husband’s office, our son would be safely picked up. I had clients scheduled, I needed to wait. What I chose to do next effected my experience of that day on a cellular level. Remembering the book I took a moment of reflection. Sitting in my cushioned, floral blue easy chair I started to read. As salty tears streamed down my face I felt an inner knowingness that we would be okay. The book healed me, it gave me the strength of hope to take the next steps toward safety and protection. It was the perfect balm at an unjust time.

I will quote from the book’s introduction,”Couldn’t We invites children of every nation, race and culture to join hands in overcoming difference. Its message is that of tolerance and acceptance, understanding and empathy, courage and hope. It suggests that children have a responsibility to themselves, to each other and to the earth. Beautifully illustrated and written in simple verse Couldn’t We offers a vision of a bright future. It opens a small window into a world where everyone lives in peace and where every child has the power to make a difference.”

Creativity and wellness message for today: Open your own small window and make a difference.

Author Brian Jacques, Dies at 71

Just read Brian Jacques obituary. I’m feeling sad and remembering how his Redwall series of books (21 in all with one on the way) delighted my family for years. One of the things I admired about Jacques was that he had many careers and not all of them illustrious. Most of his jobs were working class, as a longshoreman, merchant marine, bus driver or speciality jobs as a boxer and a British bobby. He came to writing in mid-life.

The New York Times obit paints a good picture of him. Rest in peace Brian Jacques you are an inspiration to us all.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Dare to be all you are, let yourself wear many hats.

Building a Bridge

In Twyla Tharps’ book The Creative Habit, she talks about the importance of stopping before you become exhausted. As creative individuals we can get caught up in the verve of our endeavors, and can tire ourselves. Tharp shows the value of stopping before that point. She says that while she works herself, and her dancers hard, she always ends a rehearsal before everyone is fatigued. That way a bridge is built to the next day.

I know a minister who takes July and August away from emails. He responds to emergency calls, but in the summer, he takes everything down a notch in order to have time for reflection and rejuvenation. I feel the same way about this blog. I am going to take a break from writing it this summer. What’s funny is that I am not exhausted or burned out. In fact I have a pile of 26 purple, blue and white handwritten notes in various sizes and shapes on my desk, ready and filled with ideas for this blog. I’m glad to end the season on a happy, fertile note and to build a bridge to September.

During the summer months I will still be working and writing. If you miss me you can follow me on Twitter where I write about creativity, wellness, art, books, writing and reading. Or just tune in when I return in September. Until then, I hope you enjoy your own summer.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Take a breather before you need to.

You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover

A few weeks ago, I read a good memoir and it came in the guise of a cookbook. The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond caught my eye at the local library. The photographs (all taken by Ree in her own kitchen) are stunning and the recipes looked beyond delicious. I am not a connoisseur or collector of cookbooks, but there was something about the book that stayed with me. The cheese, meat, potatoes — all comfort food, and all food I shouldn’t eat, made me sigh with longing as my mouth watered. While I flagged over three dozen pages, I confess I will never make any of the recipes but the book inspired me as an artist and writer.

What is special about Ree Drummond’s cookbook is that it includes down-to-earth photographs, (all taken in natural light by Ree) of her children, her husband who she calls her Marlboro Man, and their cattle ranch. The pictures share private family moments but her husband’s face is always covered by his Stetson hat . . . very provocative and creative! Ree is funny and self-effacing when she writes about her own failings in developing some of the recipes. I learned more about Ree and her courtship, marriage, family and friends by reading this cookbook then I have learned about other authors through their official memoirs.

Creativity and wellness message for today: You can’t judge a book by its cover. Let yourself be surprised by the unexpected.