Gifts that Give Back 2

rwanda-path-to-peace
Rwanda Path to Peace Basket Collection at Macy’s
baskets
Macy’s Rwandan Woven Basket Collection

I realize this post is probably too late to be of any real help with Christmas gift shopping for this year.  But maybe others, like me, wait until the very last moment to get those last few (or many) items. These ideas are also excellent ideas for gift giving for any event all year long.

37 ideas from Huff post.  The social enterprises listed give back either a portion of the revenues to a cause, donate an item for an item sold, or directly invest in people by creating meaningful job opportunities.

who's sari now
“Who’s Sorry Now” jewelry by Rosena Sammi.

Daily News.  2015 Holiday Gift Guide of Gifts that Give Back.

Real Simple. Gifts that Give Back — That your friends actually want.

 

For more ideas, you can also browse my previous posts featuring Gifts that Give Back:
2014  Gifts that Give Back.

2013 Radical Gift Giving.

AdventConspiracyHeader

 

These gifts don’t give back, but they seem like some really great (simple and inexpensive) ideas.  Click here.

 

The I Am poem

Sunday night means writing lesson plans.

As I was cruising the internet for inspiration and resources, I found this gem.   It is the format for a poem: The “I Am” poem, specifically.

I Am Poem (format)

I am (two special characteristics about your personality) I wonder (something you are actually curious about) I hear (a saying that someone might say to you that encourages/discourages) I am on a journey toward (a vision for your future/challenge in your present) I want (an actual desire that you hold for yourself) I am (the first line of the poem restated)

I pretend (something you actually pretend to do) I feel (a feeling about something imaginary that is holding you back) I touch (an imaginary touch) I worry (something that really bothers you) I cry (something that makes you very sad) I am (the first line of the poem repeated)

I understand (something you know is true about yourself/context) I say (something you believe in) I dream (something you dream about for your future) I try (something you really make an effort to do/understand) I hope (something you actually hope for yourself/context) I am (the first line of the poem repeated)

multicolored rose
Image by The Tromp Queen, CC License BY NC SA 4.0

My result:

I am musical and creative.  I wonder about a lot of things
I hear keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I am on a journey toward an unknown future.
I want peace.
I am musical and creative.

I pretend everything is okay.
I feel like I’m underwater.
I touch cold space.
I worry about being shot.
I cry for beauty.
I am musical and creative.

I understand Love.

I say aspire to inspire.
I dream in color.
I try to improve.
I hope I can sleep.
I am musical and creative.

Why not give it a try?

source:  Yale National Initiative. The Odyssey: Seeing My Journey through Film Lesson plans by Susan H. Buckson Greene.

IMG_7071

Image by The Tromp Queen, CC License BY NC SA 4.0

Wise Words from Bob Ross

http://mentalfloss.com/article/65452/20-bob-ross-quotes-make-life-better

candle
caNdLE image by Sykez Tom via Flickr CC.

“You need the dark in order to show the light.”

 

 

 

-Reji simplicity is beauty
Simplicity is Beauty image by -Reji via Flickr CC.

“Look around. Look at what we have. Beauty is everywhere—you only have to look to see it.”

 

 

 

tree friend
A tree is a friend. Image by The Tromp Queen, via Flickr CC.

“There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.”

 

 

 

 

that tree2
Friend of That Tree Image by The Tromp Queen, via Flickr CC.

“Just go out and talk to a tree. Make friends with it.”

that tree
Friend of That Tree Image by The Tromp Queen, via Flickr CC.

 

 

 

Sandy Brown Jensen
Here I Go image by Sandy Brown Jensen via Flickr CC license.

“The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe.”

 

 

 

 

Mark Chadwick Fluid Painting 92
Mark Chadwick, Fluid Painting 92 via Flickr CC.

“We artists are a different breed of people. We’re a happy bunch.”

10 Rules for Students and Teachers

NASA
NASA image via Flickr CC: Astronaut Butch Wilmore Visits Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Camp (201506240028HQ)

As a teacher, one of my fundamental desires is to “Aspire to Inspire” my students.  I found this list of rules (with a great little backstory*) and am sharing it so that you might possibly find truth in it as I did.

coritarules
Swedish graphic designer Rikard Heberling’s poster of Corita’s list of 10 rules.

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student: Pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher: Pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything. It might come in handy later.

*John Cage (most famous for 4’33”) was a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg (created 12-tone technique for composing music). Cage, in turn, inspired a generation of composers and artists.  One so inspired was a California nun, Sister Corita Kent, who created this list of Rules in 1968 for a class project.  For more information read this Open Culture article.

KW Barrett
Teacher of the Year – Cristina Torres. Image by KW Barrett via Flickr CC.

Thank you for the Music, B.B. King

Marcelo Guimarães via Flickr CC license, BB King em Brasília
Marcelo Guimarães via Flickr CC license, BB King em Brasília

There used to be a saying that if a black performer — it was four theaters you had to play and be accepted before you would be accepted as a true entertainer. One of those theaters was the Howard Theatre in Washington, the Royal Theater in Baltimore and the master itself was the Apollo Theater in New York, in Harlem. … The fourth theater was the Regal Theater in Chicago. My manager said, “Do not go to New York trying to be Nat Cole or anybody else that’s trying to be slick, because there are people that are sweeping the floors that are much better than you’ll ever be. So the best thing for you to do is go there and be B.B. King. Sing ‘3 O’Clock Blues’; sing the songs that you sing the way you sing them. All these other people can do all of those other things, but they can’t be you as you can be you.” That I’ve tried to keep from then until now.

On the best advice his manager gave him — Quote from a Fresh Air (NPR) interview which originally aired on Oct. 22, 1996.

Image by Zach Mahone photography, via Flickr CC license
Image by Zach Mahone photography, via Flickr CC license
Daniel Go, via Flickr Creative Commons
Daniel Go, via Flickr Creative Commons
image by Ricky NJ, via Flickr CC license 2.0
image by Ricky NJ, via Flickr CC license 2.0
Thomas Hawk, Rules of the Road, Memphis, TN bridge, via Creative Commons (Flickr)
Thomas Hawk, Rules of the Road, Memphis, TN bridge, via Creative Commons (Flickr)

May you rest in peace and sing some heavenly blues.

Ogling Google Doodles

I use Google every day at least once or more accurately, usually several times a day.

Sometimes, when I need a short mental break, I look through the Google Doodle archives.

Today, I noticed some pretty incredible Google Doodles as I perused the archives.

What are your favorite Google Doodles?  Do you prefer the stills or the videos?

Wassily Kandinsky’s 148th Birthday
126th Anniversary of the public opening of the Eiffel Tower
St. David’s Day 2015
Ofra Haza’s 57th Birthday
Shoen Uemura’s 140th Birthday
Victor Horta’s 154th Birthday
Keith Haring’s 54th Birthday
Brasilia’s Anniversary
Wisława Szymborska’s 90th Birthday
Tanabata (Star Festival)
Niki de Saint Phalle’s 84th Birthday

SEASONS:

First Day of Spring 2015

First Day of Summer 2013

First Day of Autumn 2014

First Day of Winter 2013

First Day of Fall 2012

Zlatko Grgić’s 82nd Birthday

Looking at these wonderfully creative doodles is quite inspiring!

I’m going to make an effort to look at the Google Doodle of the day more often!

Into the Woods Philosophy

Though it drives our sixteen year old daughter crazy at times, our family often has “deep” discussions after watching movies, plays, musicals and sometimes after viewing art exhibits and the like.

We finally (in our fast-paced-first-world-lives one week after opening seems like “finally”) saw the new Into the Woods movie last night.

I’ve been thinking about various themes from the show —

  1. People make mistakes. So many mistakes.
  2. Even when you think you are doing “the right thing,” people often get hurt.
  3. Stand up for yourself. Stand up for what you believe is right. (Doing this is easier if you don’t have to do it alone; see #4).
  4. Being “in the woods” is confusing, sometimes scary, and often dangerous. Take a friend; don’t go alone.
  5. Actions often bring unintended (far-reaching, severe) consequences.
  6. It is impossible to protect everyone from evil and danger. Bad things happen; even to good people.
  7. Getting what you thought you wanted will not necessarily make you happy.
  8. Lies, deceptions, greed, stealing — never the best way to go.
  9. Beauty does not guarantee a happy life.
  10. Stay on the path? Get off the path to smell the flowers? Not an easy decision.  “Isn’t it nice to know a lot? And a little bit….not.” One of my favorite lines!

And I know things now,
Many valuable things,
That I hadn’t known before:
….
And take extra care with strangers,
Even flowers have their dangers.
And though scary is exciting,
Nice is different than good.
….
Isn’t it nice to know a lot!
And a little bit not.

from “I Know Things Now” from Into the Woods, by Sondheim

I by no means exhausted the list of themes from this show.  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Gifts that Give Back

At this time of year, I’m always on the lookout for gifts that are more than just gifts.  If I can give something beautiful, handmade, or artisan made that gives back to either the artist or the community where it originated — then I’m more willing to purchase that item.  

From Ten Thousand Villages:

Silk Market Round Pillow

From Ten Thousand Villages: Silk Market Round Pillow. Made by Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts

During recent years, Mai Handicrafts has established itself as the primary marketing agent for artisans from neglected families and women. It practices a model of social development in which social service cannot be separated from economic self-reliance. Mai Handicrafts sales fund various community development activities, including clean water projects, vocational training equipment purchase and teacher wage subsidies.

Another site with lovely gifts:

from Krochet Kids intl. 

Our goal is to holistically equip people living in poverty with the skills, education, and resources to change their circumstances forever. Work provides worth. Education breeds innovation. Mentorship nourishes relationships. Through this multifaceted and measured approach we work with each beneficiary to create a path toward independence.

The Envelope Clutch:  (just one example — there are many, many more)

The envelop clutch. Also available in a red pattern.

Next we have —

Accompany, a site that features products that are fair trade, philanthropic and artisan made.  I chose just one example to share here.  There are lots of very interesting and lovely choices.

Introducing global curation at its finest. We scour the globe for the coolest, most beautiful and one-of-a-kind finds, and filter them through a range of style lenses— to create unique boutiques that contain both an eclectic mix of cultures and a well-edited point of view. Each and every piece we pick has a story behind it, and embodies exemplary design. Handmade pieces and ethically sourced items, that bring human impact and fashion impact together to create feel-good goods through a look-good lens.

Allure earrings from the Faire Collection; upcycled horn

 

I learned about this next site through a comment made on last December’s post featuring gifts that give back.

Napada Thailand:

Napada handicrafts employs women from this low-income community enabling them to better the lives of their families while forming community with Christians and learning the truths of God. Some of the women had low paying jobs and some had no work opportunities whatsoever prior to becoming a part of Napada. Napada provides a creative outlet for these women while seeing them come to know and love how they are a part of God’s great creation and plan.

Image (and more info about Napada) from/at Little by Little blog.

Global Goods:  Gifts that Give Back

As professionals in the international development field, Catherine Lieber Shimony and Joan Shifrin traveled to impoverished areas around the globe to support community-based economic initiatives. Time and time again, they met dynamic women that were producing beautiful, handmade goods, yet lacked access to sustainable markets in which to sell their products. Catherine and Joan saw first-hand how women in marginalized communities throughout Asia, Africa, and the Americas were able to advance their families’ well-being only after their income was stabilized. In 2005, Catherine and Joan were inspired to found Global Goods Partners to create effective income-generation opportunities for women and their communities through access to the consumer market for handmade, fair trade products.
peacemaker bracelet from Global Goods Partners, $15

 

Lydali:  Gorgeous jewelry, bags and scarves.  SO many cool and beautiful items here!!

The richly hued Tribal Wool Clutches are handwoven from naturally dyed wool using traditional weaving patterns. Handcrafted by Josefina and her husband Paco in Teotitlán, Mexico, the manufacture of these clutches is both ethical and eco-friendly, making it a great bag from start to finish.
Tribal wool clutch from Lydali, $36

FEED:  Creating good products that help feed the world.  Wonderful bags, totes, bracelets, messengers, backpacks — LOTS of cool stuff.  Many items under $40.

image from FEED website
image from FEED website

Far and Wide Collective:

At Far & Wide Collective we have a passion for discovering the beautifully unique and carefully made things one can only stumble upon in the tucked-away workshops and rural village markets on exotic travels. We have found these products – and the people who make them – and we are bringing them to you. We know that if we do, we are helping to build a more sustainable infrastructure in many of these communities and countries for the future.

Gone Rural:  Swaziland

The GR Collection weaves together tradition with innovation. Proving that contemporary design and environmental sensitivity go hand-in-hand, our mainline collection of baskets and tableware is crafted entirely from locally-sourced, natural fibres and recycled materials.

Nest:

Nest is partnering with the world’s most promising artisans to build sustainable businesses within the competitive landscape of today’s global economy. Simultaneously, Nest is helping artisans to transform their communities through the alleviation of poverty, empowerment of women and promotion of peace.

Shake the Dust:

Our products are created through collaborations between carefully selected emerging British designers and ethical producers in developing countries. In addition, Shake the Dust also works with all producer and designer partners to select and create products for individual signature collections.

Hand-made products bring a rare element of soul and craftsmanship into our homes and it is in this spirit that Shake the Dust connects you to beautiful products and their creators. Shake the Dust stands for ethical transparency without compromising style.

The brand is founded on the belief that good design, ethical production and profitability are not mutually exclusive. In this respect, Shake the Dust promotes development and sustainability for both designers, producers and the industry and offers a unique blend of good design with a conscience.

I would love to hear of other sites you enjoy that fit this realm of gift giving.  Keep it simple.  Focus on the LOVE.

Other blog posts featuring gifts that give back ideas:

Mine from last year:  https://haskerj.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/radical-gift-giving/

One I found just recently:  http://www.pbfingers.com/2014/11/25/pbf-2014-gift-guide-gifts-that-give-back/

Beautiful Streamers

Layers of Rainbow Fabric Invite Visitors to Get Lost in a Sea of Color —

Katie Hosmer recently posted this beautiful blog entry featured on My Modern Met.

100 Peking Opera Portraits

Sometimes when browsing various websites, one comes across beauty that must be shared.

While perusing the Metropolitan Museum of Art website, I stumbled upon “One hundred portraits of Peking opera characters by Unidentified Artist.”

The costumes, masks, and poses are fascinating.  What wonderful fabrics and textures and amazing details!

I’ve chosen a few of my favorites to share here.  If you have a few spare moments, please click the link to see all 101 of these beautiful portraits.  Enjoy!

Now I’m left wondering what the story behind all these characters could be —

 

One hundred portraits of Peking opera characters Unidentified Artist Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911) Date: late 19th–early 20th century Culture: China Medium: Album of fifty leaves; ink, color, and gold on silk

 

One hundred portraits of Peking opera characters Unidentified Artist Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911) Date: late 19th–early 20th century Culture: China Medium: Album of fifty leaves; ink, color, and gold on silk

 

One hundred portraits of Peking opera characters Unidentified Artist Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911) Date: late 19th–early 20th century Culture: China Medium: Album of fifty leaves; ink, color, and gold on silk

 

One hundred portraits of Peking opera characters Unidentified Artist Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911) Date: late 19th–early 20th century Culture: China Medium: Album of fifty leaves; ink, color, and gold on silk
Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911) Date: late 19th–early 20th century Culture: China Medium: Album of fifty leaves; ink, color, and gold on silk

Freebies Found: Fun Fling!

Sometimes you CAN get something for nothing!

Here are some fun things I’ve found recently:

from imaginegnats.com‘s “about” page:

i first learned to sew alongside my mom, but lost interest in the craft until my early twenties when i got my own machine. over those last fifteen years, i’ve experimented with modern quilting, accessories and garment sewing, pattern design, hand-printed fabric, and textile design.

imagine gnats started as a little etsy shop, selling small sewn items to help support my family and also to give me a creative outlet in a corporate world. it’s come a long way in just five years… from a hobby to a full-time job. my love of sewing and design has grown as well, and now my own sewing patterns help and inspire others to create.

i am proud to have created patterns for garments that are easy to sew and easy to wear. imagine gnats patterns feature classic silhouettes with a modern twist that incorporate clever details and practical techniques.

 

Find all the freebies this site offers HERE:

http://imaginegnats.com/category/patterns/imagine-gnats-patterns/free/

 

 

Cerisy Skirt: Free pattern from imagine gnats.

Read the directions and make your own pattern HERE.

 

Another great freebie from this site:

Free quilt pattern!

Blog post HERE.

Download free pattern and tutorial HERE.

I’m bound and determined to knit again sometime soon.  I have yarn, needles and a project all picked out.  The free pattern is HERE.

Honest Warmth Shawl free pattern from Lion Brand Yarn

It is the “Honest Warmth Shawl” pattern from Lion Brand Yarns. I found the photo on Pinterest and tracked down the pattern.
You might need to create an account on the Lion Brand website in order to get to the patterns, though I think they have a “guest” route, too.

I really like this free printable:  It simply says “just begin.”  If you search around a bit, you can get other colors for the background.

justbegin_aliedwards_cornflower1.jpg
justbegin_aliedwards_cornflower1.jpg

I like this one, too.

viat Sarah Jane Studios, Sing your song free printable

 

This next one is pretty utilitarian, but there are SO MANY cool options!  Printable Paper.

1,352 papers you can download and print for free. We’ve got graph paper, lined paper, financial paper, music paper, and more. Printable Paper has been featured by LifeHacker, Kim Komando, Woman’s World magazine, and the Today Show.

For me, the music paper section is the most interesting.

This printable music paper (also known as manuscript paper or music staff paper) is available with various number of staves per page, in both page orientations, and in four paper sizes (legal, letter, ledger, and A4). Also available are chord charts and tablature paper.

 

Speaking of paper, I love pretty note cards and such.  You can find millions of free fonts, textures, and printables on Pinterest or by doing a Google search.  I found these great little cards from Coconut Cards.

Rreebie printable cards from Coconut Cards.  Follow the link above to download and print your own.
Rreebie printable cards from Coconut Cards. Follow the link above to download and print your own.

Michael Miller Fabric Challenge Top Nine!

Michael Miller fabrics are wonderfully inspiring! I love the 9 finalists shown in the post from the Modern Quilt Guild. May they help creative energy begin to flow for all who see them.

The Modern Quilt Guild

Michael-Miller1-e1347659734652

We had over 750 entries for the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge! Everything from clocks to quilted jackets. The competition was fierce…but we were able to narrow it down to the nine top entries. The rest is up to Michael Miller to pick the top three!

Those three lucky winners will be announced on August 1st and they will receive a posting on the Michael Miller blog and “A year of Free Fabric”.

MMF Top 9 Tammy Lawson-Indianapolis MQG, Colleen Molen-Individual Member, Deb Westerberg-Lake Superior MQG, Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill-Southern Connecticut MQG, Judy Durant-Seacoast MQG, Kim Simpson-Melbourne MQG, Abby West-Individual Member, Cath Hall-Portland MQG, Michelle Hart-Phoenix MQG

Click on the photo to see the gallery.

Congratulations to all of you! As well as all the participants. Check out #mqgfabricchallenge and #michaelmillerchallenge to see some outstanding projects!

Are you or your guild interested in becoming a part of the MQG? Read about membership here.

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Passion

Every once in a while I hear or see an interview that immediately draws my attention and holds it.  Often the topic might be something I know very little about or may be about something obscure or something I am not at all interested in —  but the person speaking about it is SO passionate that I can’t help but care!

Carlos Santana

I heard Carlos Santana in an interview such as this one evening on PBS.  He made quite an impression on me.  He speaks with such insight and obvious passion about his music — about life — about screaming charisma and conviction.

(African Music) It pitches your whole existence into a state of joy that can’t be bought. (It has) intensity of spirit and joy.

Real musicians remind the listener of a forgotten song inside them. And when you hear that forgotten song, you know, you get chills, you get tears, you dance, and you don’t even know why,

Music is to glorify the light in you.

I give a chance to give voice to the invisible ones.

Victory is won already, you know?  And the only enemy is fear.  (They) talked about that a lot. You transform fear with your supreme joy, you know? (Commenting on what he learned from Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu).

Listen to the whole interview here:

 

 

or here:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment/july-dec13/santana_12-09.html

 

I’m also intrigued by non-famous passionate people.  I enjoy hearing them talk about their work.

In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

An interview I saw on a PBS Newshour last fall completely bowled me over.  This woman’s passion for knowledge and for exploration nearly burst through the TV screen.  I wish every child could have a science teacher like Carolyn Porco,  the leader of the Cassini imaging team at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

 

 

 

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/science/july-dec13/cassini_11-29.html

Read more about the mission and see more photos here.

Saturn and Earth from Cassini. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

 

Tiny Tethys and Saturn’s rings. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

 

Possible variations in chemical composition from one part of Saturn’s ring system to another are visible in this Voyager 2 picture as subtle color variations that can be recorded with special computer-processing techniques. This highly enhanced color view was assembled from clear, orange and ultraviolet frames obtained Aug. 17 from a distance of 8.9 million kilometers (5.5 million miles). In addition to the previously known blue color of the C-ring and the Cassini Division, the picture shows additional color differences between the inner B-ring and outer region (where the spokes form) and between these and the A-ring. The Voyager project is managed for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. NASA/JPL

See?  I got pulled into the vortex!  These images are absolutely stunning and amazing.  Check out more of NASA’s space images here.

 

Speaking of ordinary people who are extraordinary:

If you have never heard this young woman speak, please consider watching at least part of this video.

Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai, 16, rose to international fame when she was shot in the head last October for speaking out against the Taliban’s ban on girl’s education. Malala made a remarkable recovery, becoming the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. Margaret Warner talks to Yousafzai about her mission. —PBS Newshour.

 

I always enjoy hearing about the “behind the scenes” people — the people in the trenches — the people slogging through some tedious, long, possibly dangerous or nearly hopeless project.  I found this story, featuring the work of National Geographic photographers who happen to be women, intriguing not only because of their obvious passion for their work and for this project but for their insights and the resulting art.

You can read the transcript here.

 

I come to the conclusion that passionate people make the best art.  They make the best music, the best photographs, the best books. They also make pretty terrific teachers, scientists, and well — people in general.

Antique Archaeology (via Facebook)

 

Many of my friends know that I am “hooked” on Antique Archaeology, a TV show featuring Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe.  These two guys drive around the country in a white van, looking for “rusty gold” (i.e. what most people would call “junk”) to buy and sell.  I love the show because they are passionate about what they do.  They are passionate about preserving history and historical objects.  They meet interesting and passionate people who care about the same things.  Who knew people could get so excited about rusty old signs and dirty old motorcycles?  I’m drawn to the LOVE they have for what they do, and to the respect they have for each other, for the items they buy and sell, and for the people with whom they deal.

 

 

Another show I admit being “hooked” on is Project Runway.  It is one of those “someone gets cut from the group every week” shows. The premise is fashion designers working on tight deadlines and tight budgets to create fashion forward and on trend garments which meet specific parameters set by the show’s producers and hosts.  The fashions are judged and then the worst and best designs are chosen.  “One day you are in, the next day you are out” is Heidi Klum’s famous line from the show.  The mentor for the designers is Tim Gunn. He is passionate about his job and about helping each of the designers bring the best out of themselves.  The designers are (mostly) passionate about what they do and about what they are creating.  When people care and have a lot at stake, tempers can flare and drama can occur.  But wonderful things can happen as well!  Often kind, wonderful, beautiful moments come about in the midst of all the stress and self-doubt.

 

And because I never seem to know when to stop…a few last thoughts and quotes to leave with you:

Many charismatic and passionate (and famous) people spring to mind: Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, Nelson Mandela, Jacques Cousteau, Jane Goodall, Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Not many of these people would leap to mind as “passionate artists” but they all share a passion for their chosen life’s work —  and for humanity.  Maybe each of these folks will get their own blog post about this topic some time in the future! We shall see.

Jacque Cousteau nearly convinced me to become a marine biologist!

via melanieandbill.com

via 33mediatumblr

via25mediatumblr
viaemediatumblr

 

 

 

 

eremophilia

Eremite

Everyone once in a while, I come across a word that I have never heard before or that I may have heard but have no idea (or can not remember!) what it means.

Eremite is one of those words.  I heard it in a song that I played for our local high school choir sometime last school year.  I searched around for some insight into the word, and wrote nearly all this post many months ago while I was searching.  One of my endeavors this year is to attempt to publish all my drafts (or decide they are not worth sharing and thus delete them).

Harry L. Heffelfinger wrote:

I recently received a question from a colleague of my wife’s asking about the word eremite. I believe that the word means ‘religious recluse’. The question arose because Robert Frost made reference to Keats’s eremite in one of his poems. Could you help us to understand the word and who may have been Keats’s eremite?

An eremite (pronounced ERR-uh-mite) is indeed a ‘religious recluse’, someone who, from religious motives, has retired into a solitary life. Both eremite and hermit came into English late in the 12th century and were used interchangeably for over 400 years. Hermit is now the more common word. In Modern English, especially since the 16th century, eremite is most often used poetically or to create a certain effect. Time magazine referred to J.D. Salinger as “the eremite of Cornish, N.H.” in a 1999 article.
The Greek adjective eremos means ’empty or desolate’. From this came the noun eremia ‘desert’. Toward the end of the 3rd century, it became common for Christians in Egypt to go into the desert, where they lived a solitary life of contemplation and asceticism. A person who did this was known as an eremites in Greek or an eremita in Latin. An eremite is, therefore, literally ‘someone who lives alone in the desert’.  *from Wikipedia

In the poem “Bright Star,” Keats speaks of “nature’s patient sleepless Eremite.” The reference is to an unidentified star which, like a hermit, sits apart from the world. Frost, in “Choose Something Like a Star,” refers to the steadfastness of “Keats’ Eremite.” I’ll leave it to those of you who are interested to look up the full texts of the poems. They can be easily found on the Internet.

Here are a few more words to expand your vocabulary:
“eremic” means ‘relating to deserts’
“eremophilia” is ‘a love of solitude’
“eremophobia” is ‘a fear of being alone’

 

I’m struck by the opposite definitions of the last two words in that short list.  “Philia” denotes an “abnormal love for a specified thing” or an “undue inclination” for something.  “Phobia” is a label we use for “extreme or unnatural fear” of something.

 

Text of the sonnet Bright Star
Text of the sonnet Bright Star (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bright Star
by John Keats
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art —
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors —
No — yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft swell and fall,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever — or else swoon to death.

Addressed to a star (perhaps Polaris, around which the heavens appear to wheel), the sonnet expresses the poet’s wish to be as constant as the star while he presses against his sleeping love. The use of the star imagery is unusual in that Keats dismisses many of its more apparent qualities, focusing on the star’s steadfast and passively watchful nature. In the first recorded draft (copied by Charles Brown and dated to early 1819), the poet loves unto death; by the final version, death is an alternative to love.

The poem is punctuated as a single sentence and uses the rhyme form of the Shakespearean sonnet (ababcdcdefefgg) with the customary volta, or turn in the train of thought, occurring after the octave.

from Frostiana, “Choose Something Like a Star”
(Randall Thompson, Lyrics by Robert Frost)

“My thoughts are stars I can not fathom into constellations.”

(Gus, from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green).

related posts:

http://onpoetry.blogspot.com/2011/11/bright-star-john-keats.html

http://poemshape.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/bright-star-by-john-keats-his-sonnet/

 

I Am in Need of Music

I Am in Need of Music (Sonnet)

poem by Elizabeth Bishop, photos via Flickr Creative Commons
Adam Henning, CC license via Flickr
Adam Henning

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.

Abstract by Art G. CC license via Flickr
Abstract by Art G.

Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

Victoria Falls in Zambia at sunset, by Ryan.  CC license via Flickr
Victoria Falls in Zambia at sunset, by Ryan.

There is a magic made by melody:

Rhythm of Fire by Seth Rader

A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,

Reflection on Johnny's Pond by Sathish JHeld in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

"The pond" by Mikael Tigerström
“The pond” by Mikael Tigerström

 

sonnet by Elizabeth Bishop
I believe I understand what Elizabeth is describing with her words.  Early in my teen years, I discovered that music was a calming force for me.  Not that I always felt or feel calm when I play, but that the act of playing (of creating music) brings me to a calmer state of being.
Is it because my mind stops turning inward or spinning in worried circles?  I focus on the notes and the feel of the keys, the pattern of the chords and melodies — and there is only music.  Is it the physicality of the hand/eye coordination or the wavelengths of sound going through my eardrums into my brain that does it?  Or is it the “Zen”ness of the playing, the feeling of letting myself slip away until I only see and hear and feel the music?
There is healing, of rest, of flow (hence the imagery of water), of stillness, of floating.  Quiet Breath.
I don’t know why it works this way for me, but it truly does.
These are but a few of the many reasons why I will always be in need of music.

Musings on Unreasonably High Expectations

I have to admit something.  More than one somethings, actually.

"freshly pressed" by Rob Slaven  Some Rights Reserved via Flickr CC
“freshly pressed” by Rob Slaven
Some Rights Reserved
via Flickr CC

I would love to open my Tromp Queen page some day to find that one of my posts is featured as FRESHLY PRESSED.  This unspoken (and most likely unreachable) goal has been in my head ever since I first noticed the Freshly Pressed area here in WordPress land.  I’ve written some pretty deeply personal posts — as well as some humorous, some insightful, some crafty — hey, why not me?  (I so humbly ask of myself).

"Flickr Day!" by Murilo Cardoso  Some Rights Reserved
“Flickr Day!” by Murilo Cardoso
Some Rights Reserved

I also post photos on Flickr occasionally.  I would love to find one day that one of my photographs is featured as an EXPLORE image.  (Go to Flickr.com, click the Explore then on the drop down menu choose Recent Photos.) Hundreds are featured each and every day, why not one of mine?  (I so humbly think to myself).  People tell me they really like my photography, that I have a “good eye” — surely it could happen some day, right?

"At Carnegie Hall" by Steven Severinghaus  Some Rights Reserved via FlickrCC
“At Carnegie Hall” by Steven Severinghaus
Some Rights Reserved
via FlickrCC

I’m a musician, too.  A professional pianist, in fact.  I don’t like to admit it even to myself but — I do not like to miss even one single note when I play. If I’m not perfect, it is hard to let go of that one
(or — gasp — more than one)
error.  I know the journey and the process are supposed to be the most important, but deep down inside I want each and every performance to be stellar: perfectly beautiful in every way.  How’s that for putting pressure on yourself?

How does one balance these incredibly unrealistic expectations?

I tend to rely on my old favorites of denial and avoidance.

I make it more difficult on myself by not even admitting that I truly have these hidden goals.  How can I be disappointed if I never admit to having such desires?  Denial.  Works nearly every time.

Avoidance?  Don’t post.  Don’t tag.  Don’t upload photos.  There.  No chance of being disappointed if you don’t try.

Then I hear the voice of my sensible self reminding me of the JOY I experience of just making music, of taking photographs of things that interest/inspire/awe me, and of writing/organizing my thoughts whether anyone hears/sees/reads any of them or not.

I recently read a journal that I was required to keep as part of my student teaching training semester (30 years ago now!).  My supervising teacher told me to always keep high expectations, to never give up, to make the students work to reach my expectations.  She said (this was referring to middle school choir students) that you have to PULL it out of them.  Be strong.  Make your voice heard.

Thankfully, these are the words that I carry in my heart.  I don’t give in to the desire to lower my expectations but I don’t let perfectionism rule my life.  I will not worry about whether or not I’ve reached my goals. I’ll just keep puttering along — working and dreaming — singing and playing.

As always, I aspire to inspire.