art

Staying in Focus: Meditation and Mandalas

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2018 began as a high stress year for us, beginning with my husband’s diagnosis of prostate cancer. In preparation for the radiation therapy he would receive, he underwent a procedure to place three gold markers in his prostate.

A few days later he developed an e-coli infection in his blood, which landed him in the hospital for three days. It could have been worse, but the hospital staff was on the ball, and started him on antibiotics immediately. Needless to say, my anxiety levels were on 24-hour alert.

Fortunately, I had developed a system for dealing with anxiety, as part of my regimen in handling my Parkinson’s disease. This is a simple system, no drugs required, consisting of Meditation and Mandalas.

My meditation is based on calming my mind and body with relaxed breathing and the repetition of two lines of a poem I wrote and use as a mantra.

Let It Go

I take a breath, I let it go
I feel the calm, I let it flow
I embrace the moment, I am still
I let gentle peace my spirit fill
I clear my thoughts, now is the time
To silence fears within my mind
I can cope with this I know
I take a breath, I let it go…

I will repeat this poem several times, and then, as I feel the calm flow over me, I’ll use the last two sentences as a mantra.

I enjoy all types of coloring books, but my favorite for calming my nerves and reducing stress are the mandalas. I have posted in the past about how stress-reducing it is to color. For years the only good coloring books for adults were available in museum stores. A few years ago, however, it was discovered how stress relieving coloring can be and suddenly there were coloring books everywhere – from bookstores to the check-out counters in grocery stores and pharmacies.

The word mandala means “circle” and they represent our connection to the universe. Coloring a mandala is a soothing process, and once I have completed coloring it, I can use it as a focus point in meditation. As I gaze at the mandala, I focus on the colors and patterns, and this helps me to clear my mind of fears and anxieties. When troublesome thoughts arise to distract me, I gaze again at the beautiful colors in my mandala and continue with my meditation.

Choosing colors for my mandalas is the artistic part of the process. I usually use 5 to 6 colors, and try to balance cool and warm colors, and a complementary or contrasting color as well. Then it is just a matter of coloring in the pattern.  A color wheel can be helpful with this step. I find that Prismacolor pencils provide a rich, saturated finish. A good pencil sharpener is vital as pencil points must be sharp to fill in small areas. An interesting  thing about coloring mandalas is that you really don’t know how it will look when it is done. As more and more of the pattern is colored, the image grows brighter and more vibrant.

The next time you have a lot of stress to relieve, give coloring mandalas and meditation a try.  Thankfully, my husband is almost finished with his radiation treatment. and my stress levels have eased. Now I can color for the sheer fun of it, but I’ve worn some of my favorite colored pencils down to the nib.  I’d better stock up because I just ordered 3 new mandala books from Amazon. It always pays to be prepared…

 

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Staying in Focus: Paris in a Nutshell

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Lunch and lots of wine glasses

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The Mona Lisa

945723_10201255420320288_554841529_nIMG_1911We had one of the quickest visits to Paris imaginable, but we packed in a lot in a few hours. Here’s the two penny tour of Paris!

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Focus on Art and Creativity: Musings at the Museum

On Wednesday, after Linda and I perused the lovely flowers, overwhelmed at the variety, color and texture of mother nature’s artwork, we traveled over to the CAM (Contemporary Art Museum) located at 409 W. Martin Street in Downtown Raleigh.040 - Copy It is a spacious and well-lit facility with windows placed in strategic places to let the  light  flow in. We had viewed nature’s art, now it was time to delve into art created by the hand of man.

There were two artists exhibited:Alistair McClymont  and Ryan Travis Christian.

Alistair McClymont is a British artist who works in sculpture, photography and video. His exhibit was entitled, Everything We Are Capable of Seeing.  His vision is interesting, ranging from a model he built which keeps a tiny raindrop suspended in mid-air McClymont to huge McClymontsculptures made of piling MDF boards in interesting patterns. His interest in finding a connection between art and science is exemplified by his tornado series of paintings and his tornado making machine.

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Tornado Machine

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The second exhibitor was Ryan Travis Christian. This fellow is obsessed with lines and patterns. He basically builds his vision around diagonal lines and a pair of googly eyes.

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the lower floor taken from up above

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close up of the googly eyes

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I Guess You Had to be There

His exhibit is entitled Well Here We Aren’t Again and consists of a floor covered in diagonal lines and some surreal drawings, one a large panel called   I Guess You Had To Be There (small section of the panel  below)

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My musings as I toured this museum:

Whether or not this art form appeals to you, it is an example of 2 people expressing themselves, celebrating our gift for creativity in a positive way. Contrast this with the 2 young men who have wrought havoc in Boston these past days. Instead of putting something useful out there, they choose to maim and destroy. What a waste of the precious life they were given. Thankfully, there are more people in the first group, people who contribute to this world, and make their life matter.

I’ve heard about a quote from Mr. Rogers bandied about lately and it has a powerful message for those of us overwhelmed by what seems to be a continually rising threat of evil in the world today. Mr. Rogers says:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.(www.slate.com)

I think of the firefighters running into the towers on 9/11; the doctors who were running in the marathon in Boston helping the injured; the teachers who gave their lives to protect the innocent children in New Town and I am comforted by Mr. Rogers words. There are a lot of caring people in the world. People who share their gifts and their vision in a positive way. We must celebrate them, emulate them, and teach our children to be kind, to be helpers and maybe one day the evil in this world will be vanquished.

Focus on: Painting and Planning and Parkinson’s

Life is a trip.Don’t miss the boat:)
– pc 2013

   

 I had a visit with my neurologist on Thursday.  So far, so good.  Meds are working and I seem to be in a holding pattern. Bill and I decided to take advantage of this and book a cruise around the British Isles in July.  It will be a 12 day cruise, with 2 days to explore London after we leave the ship.  We will tour Ireland, Scotland, England and spend a day in Paris We are looking forward to the trip.  Neither of us has been to Europe and although we took a nice stroll through the neighborhoods of Victoria, Canada last summer, the final port of call on our Alaska cruise, we have yet to acquire a stamp on our shiny new passports.
 Right now, there are days I almost forget I have a degenerative neural disease, but I know that will not always be so, unless a cure for Parkinson’s is discovered, So I want to do what I can while I can.! That means getting enough exercise to keep the body moving, and challenging the mind so it stays sharp.
  I find that anything I do with my hands is very helpful in keeping my fingers nimble In addition to exercises, So I do some cross stitch, make jewelry and I love to paint. I’m not an artist, however, but I enjoy  paint-by-number painting.  It helps my fine motor coordination; is a calming activity and I get to practice patience as well.  Here are a few of what I call masterpieces. from a wannabe artist:

I found this little garden angel irresistible

I found this little garden angel irresistible

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There’s something about a barn in the snow…

.  I  find the paint- by -number to be more relaxing because you don’t have to figure out the color   scheme. .However, as I paint, I begin to see how the artist  used the colors to achieve the total effect, so it is a learning experience as well. I am in awe of anyone who has this natural talent. My niece, Becky ,is one of them. Her paintings are so intricate,  She will work hours on just a small section of a painting, and her finished work is amazing. What a wonderful gift!

King Tut. I am fascinated by all things ancient Egyptian

King Tut. I am fascinated by all things ancient Egyptian

Just recently I came across something new in the paint- by -number scene, from a company called Diy oil paintings, and they are bright, abstract and delightful to paint. I chose the one I did because the blues match the colors in my living room. I have ordered a second one before I finished the first. What makes these stand out, besides the bold, abstract style, is that they are printed on a canvas you have to stretch over a stretcher frame supplied with the kit.I have found the paints to be of excellent quality – not the thin, runny stuff you find in other kits. Here is the finished product. Different, isn’t it? I like the bold strokes of the primary colors, the effect of wet pavement shimmering in the lamplight. In this small sample it may appear there is one person walking, but there are two, if you look closely you can make them out. Where are they going on such a cold, wet night? Maybe they couldn’t resist walking together, no one else about, under trees decked in autumn dress, the colors glowing in the lamplight, surrounded by a cloak of midnight blue. 

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I’m anxious to start the next one! I have dabbled a bit in painting on my own.  Mostly mountain, sunsets and butterflies. I’d like to try this style now.

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I painted this butterfly to match the blue-greens of my kitchen. The first mountain sunset is in acrylic, the second is a watercolor.

So for as long as I can, I will challenge myself with new ventures. Painting is much easier than my other current challenge – algebra. I never mastered it in high school, but I can say I’m getting there, There is a sense of satisfaction when I come up with te right answer. My online courses have been superb. My next one will be Introduction to Internet Writing Markets.

I have just wrapped up my course on magazine writing and will be sending out some articles to test the waters.

I also have plans for the publication of two of my books, more about that next time.

In the meantime, take some time to let your creativity loose. You may be surprised about what you can do. In                the words of my favorite painter, Vincent Van Gough, If you hear a voice inside you say ‘You cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.

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