An Artful New Year

We are getting along quite nicely over here. Jay is in good health following his bout with pneumonia, the hiccups haven’t returned, and we are focused on preparing for an end-of-January special occasion requiring travel.  I’ll happily share all about that later.

My to-do list feels long, but I’ve noticed the December adrenaline spike drained my battery a bit. I could plug back into high-gear if I wanted to, but I don’t think I will. Not yet anyway.

There’s no need to push, but I have many interests and some new family requests I’ll attend to–just slowly.

Sophia would like me to teach her to knit. My grandmother taught me, and at one time knitting was a creative expression I really enjoyed. I’ve been pulling out all my needles and bits of yarn and patterns and even some of the notes left behind by my grandmother. I’ve read them over and over with her handwriting bringing back warm memories. Teaching Sophia feels important to me.

And Karina has been asking me to teach her to play the piano. I taught piano and worked with children’s music for years. I play well–or I did at one time. I don’t practice any more. Why? There’s a discipline to it, I suppose. It takes time and I’ve moved away from this being a priority. I think this is the year to reinvest in my personal practice, but I’m probably mostly motivated to teach a five-year old who loves music like I do.

I can’t do it all,whatever “it” happens to be, but these are some slow-me-down interests that have reawakened.

I think if we pay attention we recognize an artistic spark that we either encourage or extinguish. I was thinking about that while at the Natural History Museum last week. I slowly ambled through a special exhibit of Iberoamerican Folk Art, enthralled with  the beautiful colors, patterns and features in over 800 works by artists from 22 Latin American countries.

It was an exhilarating experience. I enjoyed studying the extraordinarily detailed pieces of clay, wood, silver, natural fibers and textiles. Some were quite simple and reminded me of the art projects I introduced to my preschoolers. Most, however, were intricate and complex. Each represented creative expression.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I’m not capable of anything too exciting in papier-mâché , straw weaving, woodworking or clay, but I don’t waste any time envying others’ talents. I just want to get my own fingers busy.

How about you? Do you think you’ll be making some time to let your creativity out to play a little more often in 2015? What would you like to do to get your fingers busy?

 

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein

Can you believe I have a secret admirer? Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

It’s Valentine’s Day…and I have a secret admirer. For the last ten years or so I receive a plain white business envelope with printed address label to: Mrs. John J. Fetterly.

A decade ago I wasn’t plastered all over the Internet, so I wasn’t concerned about a stalker. I’m still not.

I think someone is “goofing” with us. I choose to think of them as creative in their attempt at humor.

As long as the Valentines are still with cute kittens and we don’t move on to Chucky dolls I’m fine.

So here’s what came in Monday’s mail.

Secret Valentine

There’s something very special about an unanticipated gift. But I’m not sure this qualifies.

However, I did receive a lovely gift from a good friend.

I’m the event planner, tour guide, point person in my family and friendship groups. Others love to  join me and come along on my field trips, but typically all the responsibility falls to me. In fairness, I’ve probably been the one to be most vocal, expressing what I want to do in such clear terms that no one else need apply for the position of team captain.

I do have strong leadership capabilities…but sometimes I really do like to follow!

When my friend Linda called to ask if I’d like to join her in a trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to catch the closing of the Caravaggio exhibit (we’d talked about it for three months) I didn’t hesitate.

She purchased tickets and SHE coordinated our moves for the day! It was such a lovely experience to just relax and follow along, moving freely in and out of exhibits with no attention to a clock or schedule.

It was the perfect gift!

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio only lived 38 years (1571-1610), and was quite the  controversial figure in his day. A frequent street fighter, he killed one man and was known to war with others he believed copied his style too closely.

I couldn’t take any photos, but the exhibit, “Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy,” included eight rare paintings together for the first time in California, and 50 other works by artists influenced by the artist.

I loved the Caravaggio’s and many of the others, but I can’t say it was my favorite. Still…

I do love just soaking up the flavor of art and creative expression. It is ALL there to inspire.

Whether 16th century oil on canvas or a modern installation, the human spirit cannot suppress the need to create. And the diversity of expression is what excites me the most.

I do enjoy installation art.

I was able to take photos of Walter De Marias: The 2000 Sculpture.

What optical illusions! Plaster rods impressively laid out in 20 rows over 164 feet present varying patterns, viewed differently from points around the room.

The artist said of the experience, “No matter how pure I try to be, at that point where warm meets cold, action meets inaction, that’s what interests me. And what goes on in people’s minds.”

I’m also very interested in what goes on in people’s minds and this work of art reinforced my impressions. I love differing perspectives and different points of view. It’s a good thing to change one’s position from time to time and to remain open and flexible to new ideas. Creativity can also be an exercise of the mind!

We even bumped into creativity while having our lunch.

As Linda took the folder with the bill, she looked a little puzzled and then showed me the contents.
IMG_1779

My goodness! Do I have admirers everywhere I go?  Let’s ask our server.

Kevin, our server, explained he enjoys expressing himself and sharing the creative impulse with hand-painted cards,  offering favorite quotes and small artworks to his patrons.

After we thanked him for the unexpected gift he left us for just a moment then returned with another lovely token.

IMG_1780Now I keep my little card close to where I’ll see it every morning. It’s a reminder to live each day appreciating the gift of creativity–each of us is made to embrace and enjoy self-expression.

Perhaps it’s because I am of “a certain age,” but I love this quote from the ageless Sophia Loren, and I share it as my Valentine’s gift to each of you.

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source you will truly have defeated age.”

Am I talented? Just ask a preschooler.

I was talking to Sophia the other day about her upcoming preschool talent show. She and one or two of her friends are preparing to sing and perform in some way…the particulars are going to be a surprise, but in our conversing on the subject I was bold enough to ask my granddaughter what she thought my particular talent might be. She didn’t hesitate long before answering, “Washing dishes!” As happens all too often, I managed to suppress wild laughter, but I thanked her for noticing how much I enjoy preparing meals for others and yes, washing dishes usually follows!

So what are my talents? I’m very musical. I can hear a song or musical theme and remember it without any effort. I play the piano, taught beginners for many years and also enjoyed the pleasure of conducting several small children’s choirs. Music is indeed a passion. On the other hand, I can’t draw worth a lick! I love art on the level of appreciation…but I am never happy to see someone bring out the game of Pictionary. No one welcomes humiliation!

Talents often require practice to keep in shape. Interests and activities don’t necessarily require the same level of dedication.

It’s birthday month, in case I haven’t reminded you of that in each and every post, and it’s a very fine time to think about talents and creativity. It’s easier to contemplate getting older as part of such a large cohort. 10,000 U.S. Baby Boomers hit age 50 every day! Dr. Caleb Finch, the ARCO/William F. Kieschnick Chair in the Neurobiology of Aging and professor of gerontology and biological sciences, writes, “Now it is really clear that if you don’t have a specific disease that causes loss of nerve cells, then most, if not all, of the neurons remain healthy until you die.” That’s a big change from previous thought. And isn’t that good news?

In addition to maintaining good overall health, numerous studies strongly support brain exercises. More than puzzles and mental arithmetic, evidence strongly supports the claim that individuals maintaining creativity and a variety of interests across the lifespan are even better prepared to offset dementia-related symptoms in later life.  So, I’m feeing good about that. I DO have a great many interests.

And my cornucopia of eclectic interests has garnered some very nice attention! Kate Kresse, the creative mind behind Believe Anyway, has shared the Kreativ Blogger Award, and what a lovely birthday gift. Frank at A Frank Angle and Dave and Aly of Algarve Blog tagged breathelighter, and we want to thank them, also, for the added attention. Kate, Frank, Aly and Dave are all wonderful blog contributors. Checking them out will be good for YOUR brain health! :-)

.

For the award I have a few simple things I must do.  I gladly link back to Kate, and hope you’ll make a point of visiting her site. She is  full of optimism and spirit and you will definitely want to make her acquaintance. We are also supposed to list seven interesting things about ourselves. Remember? This is my “all about me” month. I have been doing a lot of sharing, so I’m going to let my blogging partner, Beth, accept the rest of this challenge. You know all about Mae-be and Ruffles, but it’s time for her to share seven interesting things about herself. Won’t she be surprised when she reads this?

I’d also like to pass the award along to other very worthy bloggers. Let’s begin with Kate, at Views and Mews by Coffee Kat. Kate is very clever and humorous, and also quite eclectic in the best of story telling. Perpetua, of Perpetually In Transit is very deserving of additional attention.  Writing from the beautiful landscape of Wales, Perpetua shares from her life as a former librarian and retired parish priest, with stories of  family and her very rich and colorful life. Then there’s Roseanne at Wondering Rose, another delightful blogger. Her tagline is “Wonderings, Wanderings, and meetings at my Museum cash register.” Aren’t you just a little bit curious?

The award recommends more nominations, but I like to parcel them out so as to guarantee you won’t overlook a one! I’ll be back with more recommendations in the near future.

I enjoy sharing bits and pieces of myself in my blog posts and look forward to each and every comment returned. But far beyond that, I truly look forward each day to “checking in” on the lives of the most interesting people! Each person I visit via reading a blog post has become a friend,  and I learn so much from each one. Thank you all for going with me into my “new decade” and contributing to my many interests. I really feel quite fortunate.

…Debra