Saturday, December 31, 2011

curlin' up

Cate and Maddie slept over for a Grandy over nighter, Meghan came down with flu/food poisoning? yesterday and the tree needs to come down today. We are settling back into a somewhat slower paced routine. Which means my ipad came out of its month long retirement and is getting some needed use. ld loaded this onto it. Some marked passages that resonate:

p. 8
Nobody worked harder than Mozart. By the time he was twenty-eight years old, his hands were deformed because of all the hours he had spent practicing, performing, and gripping a quill pen to compose. That's the missing element in the popular portrait of Mozart. Certainly, he had a gift that set him apart from others. He was the most complete musician imaginable, one who wrote for all instruments in all combinations, and no one has written greater music for the human voice. Still, few people, even those hugely gifted, are capable of the application and focus that Mozart displayed throughout his short life.

p. 39
I don't mean to get too caught up in observational focal length. It's one facet of many that makes up an artist's creative identity. Yet once you see it, you begin to notice how it defines all the artists you admire. The sweeping themes of Mahler's symphonies are the work of a composer with a wide vision. He sees grand architecture from a distance. Contrast that with a miniaturist like Satie, whose delicate compositions reveal a man in love with detail. (It's only the giants like Bach, C├ęzanne, and Shakespeare who could work in many focal lengths.)

p. 64
Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself. Metaphor is our vocabulary for connecting what we're experiencing now with what we have experienced before. It's not only how we express what we remember, it's how we interpret -- for ourselves and others.

p. 101
If you're like me, reading is your first line of defense against an empty head. It's how you learned as a child. It's how you absorb difficult information. It's how you keep your mind disciplined. If you monitor your reading assiduously, it's even how you grade your brain's conditioning; like an athlete in training, the more you read, the more mentally fit you feel. It doesn't matter if it's a book, magazine, newspaper, billboard, instruction manual, or cereal box -- reading generates ideas, because you're literally filling your head with ideas and letting your imagination filter them for something useful. If I stopped reading, I'd stop thinking. It's that simple.

p. 165
Confidence is a trait that has to be learned honestly and refreshed constantly; you have to work as hard to protect your skills as you did to develop them. This means vigilant practice and excellent practice habits. You've heard the phrase "Practice makes perfect"? Not true. Perfect practice makes perfect. The one thing that creative souls around the world have in common is that they have to practice to maintain their skills. Art is a vast democracy of habit.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

things have slowed down. for now.

Emerson came home Christmas Eve. Christmas Day arrived with every single present wrapped. Ha! The next day we pulled off the wedding. Haven't got the pics back yet, will post them when available. Here are a few of the bridal shots.

Thanks fam for all your support, it was lovely having you share the day with us. Jiao had JLW snap this pic right as they were ready to leave. Love this girl.

I look like a big pink marshmallow here and this was even before I started snarfing leftover wedding cake.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

arnett wimmens

Something really tender about a family shower. Women folk coming together to welcome a new bride with gifts, good wishes and love. Thanks to the Larry Arnett gals for hosting such a nice evening. Ladies, you are awesome and so appreciated.

Potato leek soup, artichoke dip, french bread, lemonade cupcakes. Oh. My.

Good food, good company. The evening could not have been nicer.

Chatting it up.

Lovely Jiao.

Good times. Love, love the wimmen in this family.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

the days are long but the years are short

Oh, I am living through an emotional time. Yes, yes. I am. I am filled with worry for those I love and wish I could make everything better.

When Meghan returns from her morning hospital visit and Faye is down for her morning nap, I often plop down beside her while she does her pumping. We visit and talk, mostly about her frustration that Emerson is not yet home. She vents and cries. I vent and cry. It is one of the tender highlights of this crazy time we are all living through.

I've explained, but she already knows, that a little perspective and patience is helpful in times like these. It is a painful lesson to learn to surrender to events, to learn to go with the flow. I have not provided a very good example. At times, I still think I control the universe.

Anyway. How to turn over our heart worry? How to do that exactly?
Interestingly, this morning while thinking deeply about all my worries and concerns I came across a blog post I had started last year. I never finished it, but it fits my mood today.

Here. From deep in my computer files:

The title of my blog “Fighting Against What Is” refers to some pop psychology guru (I can’t even remember the name) who gave this saying as the definition of stress. “That’s what stress is”, this wise person said, “it’s fighting against what is”. That was memorable to me because it described/describes exactly how I find myself most of the time. I rant and rail and rave, whine and complain and cause myself untold misery by fighting against the circumstances and events of my life.

Lately I have been reading the teachings and philosophy of Eckhart Tolle. I know, I know Oprah loves him. That alone gives me cause for pause. Still. Even though I don’t agree with everything (okay a lot) of what he espouses there are kernels of wisdom in his teachings. I have been giving it a lot of thought and trying to make it all jive with my understanding of the plan of salvation and restored teachings. Which means I have to toss out what is bunk. But his thoughts about mental noise and pain bodies, while all very new agey, are true I think.

"To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness. This state is then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad. It seems almost paradoxical, yet when your inner dependency on form is gone, the general conditions of your life, the outer forms, tend to improve greatly.
See if you can catch yourself complaining in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness".

This, too:
"Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists. Then the implication, of course, is there is another way of dealing with things, with situations. Make peace with it. And then action - Take action. The action then comes out of a different state of consciousness. The action comes out of presence. Presence. It’s no longer reaction. It comes out of presence and not out of you being defensive about it. And the action is much more powerful and effective when it’s not defensive and not negative".

I relate to this, too:
"Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best-better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than His. We can grow in faith only if we are willing to wait patiently for God's purposes and patterns to unfold in our lives, on His timetable."
--Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Patience", Ensign, Oct. 1980, 28

Yeah. Ideas to chew on. Patience, surrendering to what is. Hard stuff. But as my mother used to frequently say, 'This too shall pass'.

Friday, December 2, 2011

only 23 shopping days left! Eek. only 24 days until the blessed nuptials! Yikes.

Flowers, menus, wedding dress. Check. GAH! My head is swimming.

And Christmas? What's that? Christmas will come whether I feel ready or not.

I helped Meghan set up her tree yesterday. Faye loved the lights. When I came back in the evening to sit with her, Megs told me that for about a half hour or so she and Faye lay close to the tree with pillows, just gazing at its magical brightness. Made me smile. That is something my own children and I did when they were small. I let them grab their pillows and sleep out by the tree.

We are holding up fairly well, people. Our days consist of wedding planning, internet shopping and tending. It's basically helping Megs and helping Jiao and for all the rushing to and fro craziness, it's a sweet time. We are all alive and well and making progress. Everything else pales in comparison.