Poetry Soothes My Soul

The last week has wrought many events that have upset my normally serene and content state-of-mind:

The Tucson shootings have left me even more convinced that the death penalty is a valid exchange for mass murder - I understand the idea of those against the death penalty, but in my heart of hearts, I truly believe that some souls are irredeemable in this life, that to restore universal balance, the scales need to be re-set.  Even though I understand that mistakes have been made and innocent humans have been executed, I still believe that execution is the final retribution due because of lives stolen away . . . not to mention the lives of survivors of the victims.

 

Other issues are again, not directly my issues, but as they orbit into my reality, they have upset my balance . . . secrets kept, once revealed - can be freeing.  Their revelations always bring about better understanding of the secret keeper . . . but if the information gets out, does that wreak more pain for those effected?  Only the secret keeper can weigh that issue and make that call.  Although I believe in full disclosure, I am happy to hold shared secrets until their time is come.  What is the psychological WEIGHT of a secret?????  That intrigues me . . . if I were to paint a picture, would they appear as a large burden carried upon one's shoulders?  I am reminded of Robert di Nero in THE MISSION, one of my all-time, favorite movies, the freedom he gained when he, literally, let his weight fall from his shoulders.

One of my dear friends and her family suffered a fire on their property.  Everyone is safe, but the loss of personal property, those treasured things . . . that is heavy, too.  What would I grab if I KNEW my room was about to burn?  My nook?  A Photo Album? My Laptop?   It is something to consider.

So, for all the heartache I feel in the world around me, for my dear friends and family that are dealing with these issues, I share this poem, which soothed my soul this morning.

 

THIS IS MY WISH FOR YOU by Charles Livingston Snell

This is my wish for you . . .

That the spirit of beauty may continually hover about you

and fold you close within the tendernesses of her wings.

That each beautiful and gracious thing in life may be unto

you as a symbol of good for your soul's delight.

That sun-glories and star-glories, leaf-glories and bark-glories,

glories of mountains and oceans of the little streams of running waters;

glories of song, of poesy, of all the arts may be to you as sweet, abiding

influences that will illumine your life and make you glad.

That your soul may be as an alabaster cup, filled to overflowing

with the mystical wine of beauty and love.

That happiness may put her arms around you, and wisdom

make your soul serene.

                                                                               This is my wish for you.

 

 

 

Too Many Thoughts To Think

I have so many thoughts to think (which I feel I should write down) that I couldn't even relax in a Bubble Bath.  Bubble-baths used to be my refuge.  Friends would call anytime between 4 pm - 6 pm and I would inevitably be in the bath . . . it was my 'me' time. Now my 'me' time consists of activities:  blogging (either here or on various sites, see: Creative Friends link), making art, marketing art, reading (to study for making art)memoirs and poetry or really GREAT fiction, prayer walking, playing Wii Fit, cooking, playing with and/or talking to my children, sometimes spending time with my husband and family. In essence, my life has been so great lately that I don't even feel the need for 'refuge.'   I guess the key is that I now have learned to do activities which also refuel my spirit and that keeps my cup full - and it is, literally, running over in activities of creativity. Yippee for 2009!
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Altered Books (Gift From The Sea & Wollitzer's Abstract Art)

Here are some images of the altered books I have been working on.  I am practicing up for teaching a workshop in February/March for Teens and Adults. I began with a book I treasure, Anne Morrow Lindbergh's GIFT FROM THE SEA.  I had a portion of this book read (by my gifted public speaker sister, Lisa Frazeur) at my 1991 wedding to hubby, Don Fick. Here you see the altered cover - I have bleached and sanded a sepia toned photograph I took of our daughter, Lauren, when she was 3 - she is wearing an antique family heirloom of a muslin slip/petticoat and a floppy white sun hat . . . I caught her in a moment of discovery as she let sand sprinkle through her open fingers at Crystal Beach, FL. Here is an opening page from the altered book - I have added my husband's and my initials from antique oak-tag and doodled on and around them, then inserted our wedding date.  One of the main goals in altered books is to collaborate with what is already there - by eliminating words, you enhance the ones that are left . . . by altering and joining any illustrations with your own theme/artwork - you make them become your own, without stepping on any 'copyright' issues.   Here I have altered an image of a shell.  By adding a glint to the eye (using watercolor pencils) and creating an eye (using gray tone prismacolor markers) I transformed the literal image into a surreal visual. Other aspects of altered books include: use of old photographs, collage from illustrations, distressing with inks and paints, aging with an emery board or sandpaper, gluing, tearing, sewing . . .      These following images are from a drawing book "Abstract Art" by Bernard Gollwitzer from the 50's - his illustrations are on the right hand side, on the left page I painted out the printed images with gesso, then cut out a female dress template from card stock, painted with acrylic then wiped off with a paper towel, using an embroidery needle/thread I stitched around the pattern, glued on a button with YES glue and voila, a finished page!         Altering books for me has become a very meditative event - I get to reminisce, create, journal, paste and glue, sew, a little bit of all all favorite things - and I get to use text and visual imagery together - I can be as sentimental as I want to be. Hope you can pick up a discarded book and transform it with some of these techniques - even if you only are a few pages at a time . . . you will enjoy the process as much as the resulting artwork!
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Integrating the Liberal Arts, Education, and Human Potential (Part III)

By representing oneself and one's creative outlet, it can be learned to respect others and their forms of expression.  Abuses against others, including animals and children, would be eradicated in general.  In addition, by each individual's ability to self-nurture and self-respect, instances of physical ailments and emotional neuroses will also diminish. These physical and emotional ailments can be directly related to repression and denials which can be expressed and embraced through practicing the arts.  Science has proved through the study of psycho-neuroimmunology that the mind and body are unequivocally connected.  Thosed emotional concerns, which are not dealt with and settled in the spirit, will adversely effect the physical health of the individual.  Conversely, if one is taught ways in which to EXpress them as opposed to REpress, we know that physical health and wellbing will be established and maintained.  Your body is an instrument that sends messages to your mind, illnesses are to be considered wake-up signs and warning signals of underlying emotional concerns. Friedrich Nietzche reminds us that "[t]he role or purpose of art is to enhance life . . . to increase . . . the concentration and force of the vital spirit" (Barzun 123).  By nurturing our creative consciousness, more meaningful and long-lasting solutions will be found for the world's ills.  "Through the arts we learn to see our environment more clearly; to sense its color, song, and dance; and to preserve its life and quality (Panel 3-4).  Our "pursuit of happiness" needs to include our relationships with others and the world in which we live.  The world does not revolve around any human individual; indeed, we evolve within our world. Through the integration of arts in our everyday lives, the world can be changed to one in which full human potential may be achieved.  A world in which every species has an equal opportunity to reach and fulfill their intrinsic purpose of being.  The arts are one form in which humans may be utilized as healers and teachers of the universe. Copyright 1999 by Sher Fick, all rights reserved. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ WORKS CITED AND REFERENCED Ackerman, Diane.  "Why We Need to Play", Parade, Daily News 25 April 1999:12-13. Barzun, Jacques.  The Use and Abuse of Art, (The A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, 1973), Princeton University Press, 1974. Carbonetti, Jeanne.  The Tao of Watercolor, A Revolutionary Approach to the Practice of Painting, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, NY, 1998. Frida Kahlo.  Dir(s) E. Herson, R. Guerra and W. Von Bonin, RM Arts, 1983. Gaines, Susan.  "The Art of Living", Better Homes and Gardens, March 1999: 58-62. The Getty Center for Education in the Arts.  Arts for Life, videocassette copyright 1990, J. Paul Getty Trust. Mellencamp, John and Green, George M.  Your Life is Now, Compact Disc "John Mellencamp", Little B. Publishing/EMI April Music Incl, 1998. Offner, Rose.  Journal to the Soul, The Art of Sacred Journal Keeping, Gibbs-Smith Publisher, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1996. Otto Dix: The Painter is the Eyes of the World.  Dir. Reiner E. Moritz.  Poorhouse Productions, 1989. Panel, The Arts, Education and Americans.  Coming to Our Senses, The Significance of the Arts for American Eduction, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1977. Williamson, Marianne.  A Return to Love, Reflections on The Principles of A Course in Miracles, Haper Paperbacks, New York, NY, 1994. http://vh1.com/insidevh1/savethemus/ . . . 4/19/1999.  Website of VH1 Registered.
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Integrating the Liberal Arts, Education, and Human Potential (Part II)

continued from Part I . . .

More importantly than the skills which are applied in our business worlds are the values gained through an exposure to the arts.  Values can be practiced where it really counts for something - in our communities and family relations.  Tolerance of racial and ethnic traditions is required to move our communities forward in cultural and socio-economic settings.  Peace can only be achieved through communication, and the arts are a universal form of communication.  Isadora Duncan has stated: "If I could tell you what I mean, there would be no point in dancing".  The language of the arts can bridge any cultural schism.  Marianne Williamson reminds us in A Return to Love that to communicate is to love and to attack is to separate (160).

Otto Dix, a visual artist who lived through both World Wars, refers to the creative energy as a form of "exorcise"; and Frida Kahlo, another visual artist who lived with physical torments from an accident, stated that painting "purged her memory" and helped her deal with chronic pain and physical anguish.  Eco-psychologists consider art to be an integral form of therapy, one in which our communion with nature may be fully expressed and that our psyches require this communion with nature to effect emotional and spiritual balance for atonement (being at one with nature) in our lives.

Through open mindedness and an ability to express oneself, a generation schooled in the arts will be capable of reaching the peace and cultural acceptance unknown on our planet since "civilization" began.  Only through seeking creative solutions to our differences can we avoid the apparently automatic urge to "bear arms" (emphasis mine).  When an individual is unable to express their confusion and disillusionment with their world in a non-violent manner, we view their expression through violence.  As is apparently the case in the recent phenomenon of adolescent males using firepower to demand recognition and retribution in our schools.  This irrepressible need for attention was obviously not fulfilled in their younger days, they were not taught or given examples of acceptable expression, therefore they need to act out against their supposed or imagined oppressors.  World wars have always begun because of intolerance of others; we are currently suffering the consequences of our own condoning attitude towards intolerance.  One cannot hide these attitudes from family and communities.  Intolerance needs to be recognized for what it is - a sickness of the heart and soul and treated as such.  When words are not heeded, actions will follow.

Once an individual has learned for themselves "non-judgment and patience" (Carbonetti 102) through arts, these same values can be enacted in their families and communities and, eventually, universally.  By learning to express oneself through art so that one might live authentically; and by expressing one's own realizations and manifesting (i.e., making evident or plainly show something) those beliefs, an individual will be capable of sharing with the world the greatest gift.  A human who understands and has experienced their own beliefs can authentically express himself or herself.

Ackerman refers to art as a form of "deep play", wherein an individual may reach balance of mind and spirit.  Having "peace with one's self and the world" is a necessary element of living the human experience in a fulfilling manner.  To choose an outlet for one's emotions, whether it be through writing, drama, visual arts, dance or any other form of expression is to lose yourself in the merging of the creative moment.  By doing so an alternate reality is reached, troubles may be left behind, and an individual becomes the conqueror, creator, invincible; literally - "an ideal version of oneself".

Therefore, children must be given the means with which to express themselves.  Children must view peaceful and meaningful examples of communication.  Our perceptions are comprised of more than the written word; therefore, our training should include other forms of communication.  We express our emotions through body language, visual aids, cadence, and eye contact, and many more forms.  However, rarely do you ever see a curriculum that lists "non-verbal communication" other than sign language for the deaf.  A class need not be so literal, but the attitude needs to be in the learning institution that art is vital to the overall emotional and intellectual development of a child and has an inherent worth in and of itself (emphasis mine).  Art is an essential part of being human and in expressing ourselves as individuals within a larger society.  Only through expression can similarities be identified and those similarities can be the building blocks of a new understanding between cultures.  Art historians have been the major contributors of theological study in ancient cultural beliefs, daily regimes, and historical significance.  It is through their arts that we can visualize ancient Rome, Pompeii, and Egypt.    Understanding of diverse cultures may be reinterpreted into any form of dance, theater, philosophy, poetry,  . . . the list is endless.  Through shared expression a new relationship is born between the cultures and the grand collaboration of peace can begin.

. . . to be continued in Part III along with Works Cited references.

copyright 1999 - Sher Fick, all rights reserved

 

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Integrating the Liberal Arts, Education, and Human Potential (Part I)

Written April 27, 1999 for Philosophy/Ethics Class, with Dr. Dirk Dunbar, University of West Florida.

If we want our world to be still, gray and silent, then we should keep the arts out of school, shut down the neighborhood theatre, and barricade the museum doors.  When we let the arts into the arena of learning, we run the risk that color and motion and music will enter our lives.

-David Rockefeller, Jr.

By examining the benefits of integrating the liberal arts (theater, music, philosophy, dance, and visual arts) into our educational system, we see that humans can learn to effectively change the course of our culture and environment.  Through directly integrating the liberal arts into our educational curriculum, the enhancement of all individuals will be achieved.  Currently the "arts" are viewed as "extra-curricular" activities, which are not considered essential to a child's emotional or intellectual development.  Required subjects are the "three R's - reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic".  Only if additional funds, volunteers, and resources are available do the children receive the benefit of exposure to the arts.  Yet, "the arts, properly taught, are basic to individual development, since they, more than any other subject, awaken the senses - the learning pores" (Panel 6).

Humans require means through which to express themselves, separate from the written word.  If an individual is unsuccessful in expressing themselves through the visual, theatrical or musical fields, we know that frustrations build up from repression and anxiety - these stresses lead to physical and emotional illnesses.  Art can be a catalyst for filtering and expressing our life experiences, positive and negative, so that one might better handle the future, and not be buried in the past or in negative experiences.  Through exposing children to the act of collaborating with others on art projects (writing plays, painting murals, building large sculptures) they will learn how to work with others.  By working out divergent opinions and ideas, by problem-solving, and by creating their own joint successes - confidence in themselves and other humans can be experienced.  World leaders of today could utilize these same collaborative skills in effecting world peace.  In learning to respect differing beliefs, yet by focusing on commonalities, human potential can be achieved.

Unfortunately, to date, most conventional educators have not accepted the integral necessity of incorporating the arts into the everyday experiences of our lives, "nor as a legitimate part of education" (Panel 6).  By separating the importance of arts from education, the educational community is sending a clear message that art is not necessary for success and wellbeing.  Clearly, the opposite is true:  "Segregation of art from education is unnatural . . . art is indivisible from life and education" (Panel 6).  By providing our children with artistic experiences from their earliest learning experiences we will offer unique ways of viewing the world.  Art teaches diversity, patience, and problem solving; while at the same time motivates the individuals by creating successful experiences which will encourage deeper and further learning challenges.  Direct benefits are currently being revealed:  music study leads to higher mathematical comprehension; dance positively influences physical wellness; visual arts expand problem solving and communication skills; and philosophy teaches tolerance and flexible thinking.  "Art is power . . . it influences the mind, the nerves, the feelings, the soul . . . " (Panel 7, 16; Gaines 58-72, Barzun 21).  As an example, VH1's "Save The Music" program is trying to insure that all children will be able to "expand their brain cells" by being exposed to musical education in public elementary schools (http://vh1.com/insidevh1/savethemus/ . . . April 1999).

 

Once the arts are encouraged and the natural creativity of a child is nurtured, or in essence midwifed/birthed" (emphasis mine), these skills will be carried throughout their lives.  In the professional world, artistic skills are highly coveted.  The ability of an individual to think "outside the lines" (emphasis mine) is beneficial in the technological fields where capabilities are challenged in this constantly evolving field.  Being able to think originally is what sets apart individuals and businesses into the successes of a generation.  For instance, the world would be less enjoyable without the creative thinking of Alexander Graham Bell, Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, or Rosa Parks, to name a few.

(to be continued, Part II & III, with Works Cited provided on last installment)

 

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Hourglass, A Poem

Hourglass

Sands trickling through life

Viewed thru a glass of our own device

Choices descending by love and by strife

Dreams still to dream, with sorrow survive

Reversals of fortune, no reversals of time

Maquettes of moments, tracing a path

Lives lived for self, is it such a crime?

Turning our futures into our pasts

Eroding foundations questioned today

Deconstructing WAS, recreating NOW

Rebuilding cornerstones takes more than a day

This present life - my gift to SELF

Shared joys and shattered dreams tumble as one

Refining a soul through the polish of time

Friends of the heart, celebrating each tome

Intersecting the map to our indomitable soul

Sole judge and juror, be kind to thy SELF

Forget not the journey in forging your path

Tomorrow’s the quest to all yesterday’s answers

When closing a chapter, turn a new page on life

Falling uphill, climbing down divides

Building bridges over the chasm of time

Shaking it up when it turns to drudge

Our souls, just orbits around a moonlit tide

Centrifugal force pulling forward and back

Magnetically sealing the closure of past

Potentials redefining each second to last

An unfinished life to achieve, not reprise

Slivers of future, seen through a mirror

Reflections found in the shadows of tears

A trick of the eye, a bend in the river

Waterfalls of memories, shed thru the years

What goes around comes around

Been there, done that

Wounds healed and re-opened

Flip Your Hourglass to Begin

-by Sher Fick, for Ann Water’s 50th Birthday, January 2004

 

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How It Feels To Be Unlabeled Me

Written April 17, 2003

Inspired by Zora Neal Hurston's How It Feels To Be Colored Me

 

How does it feel to be unlabeled me?

Am I generic?  I cannot be

How to define an elusive label?

Enlighten me, please!  If you are able

So many parts, so many fractures to see,

Like a cubist version, I seem to be

Cracked and broken, glued whole again.

Overlapped and upside down, with no end.

One dimension of me is the artist within.

Three dimensions of me is the children - oh, them?

Another dimension is the husband - oh, he?

How in the world does he put up with me?

 

More questions than answers

More love than hate

Less time for them all

Less of me, I'm late

Never-ending - pouring in, pouring out

My cup runneth over - I shall not pout

Twirling in circles, our world's a wonder

Shades of gray to me, 'wilst I'm torn asunder

Do this, do that - be here, be there

Don't forget to breathe the beauteous air

Look at the moon, so round and so bright

Feeling the pressure squeezing me tight

I'm a many-armed octopus

A split-persona - salutations from us

Mommy and honey, sissy kay and [GASP] witch

So many Me's, I forget to switch

Cynical one minute, solemn in thought

Not comprehending the disasters we've wrought

Continuing my journey, the answers are there

Optimistic I'll receive my lessons to bear

Traveling in books to lands far way

Knowing in the end, I'm right here to stay

Deepening my reserves, exploring and delving

In this life what I've learned - sorting and shelving

People might say as a Mom I'm a mess

My daughter wears cowboy boots with her dress

The beds are unmade, the laundry's in piles

Let's take a walk, keep trekking for miles

Homework gets done, but maybe tomorrow

Talk to me please, share each joy and each sorrow

We try to remember to kiss and to hug

I'll leave the dishes, just give me a tug

My siblings are many, 4 girls and 3 boys

Still just as crazy as when we fought over toys

The Adventure People are upon my shelf

Reminding me plenty of all aspects of self

 

Pippi reprises our patches and tears

Still laughing loudly at our ridiculous selves

When we're together - it's thunderous roars

Conspiring and continuing our slamming of doors

Watching our children, reflecting our roots

We clasp hands, one by one, as we rally the troops

Celebrating the births, grieving the beloved and gone

Most emotional, the tallest, the baldest - that's John

So it's artist today, and Mommy it's true

Yesterday's sissy, and now Honey, too

Sher to my friends, that's nothing new

I'll glance in the mirror and think "who are you?"

Don't box me in!  Labels are impossible

Don't even try - unless it's removable!

Twisting and turning, changing each day,

I'm not confused, I like it that way!

 

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