Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Meaning Basket for a Mindful Holiday Season

We've put up our Christmas tree early this year, two full weeks before Thanksgiving. The plan is to decorate it during the November calm so we'll be able to enjoy it even while busy with rehearsals and preparations for the annual LUNCH Holiday Show next week, and tired week that follows, when we'll be putting away mountains of scenery, props, and costumes.

With all that's been in the news lately, I've been especially aware of the gulf between the attitudes of Thanksgiving, love, community, and gratitude this holiday is meant to represent--with it's intended mindfulness of others' needs--and the actual Season of Consumerism and over-consumption that follows instead. I know I sound like a bit of a Scrooge, but personally I don't need any more things, or hobbies, or toys for entertaining myself. I have much more of everything already, and I suspect that most of the people I know are in this same situation. Our planet doesn't need the impact of manufacturing all this, transporting or storing it. I'm aware of my own excess, but at a loss to know what to do to help the many, many people in this world who have far less than they need for basic survival and comfort.

With all this in mind, I've decided to make a small change in the way I approach the coming season. In effort to change my holiday habits of over-doing, over-wanting, and over-buying, I've created a different sort of symbolic container to place beneath our Christmas tree. It's a second-hand basket--a Meaning Basket--to contain my growing awareness of all the good that already exists in my life, as well as tangible reminders of the material, hopeful, and helpful longings I feel.

To this end, I've cut small pieces of scrap printer paper from the recycling bin, gathered a handful of pencils, and placed these together in convenient places all around our house.  On the slips of scrap paper, As I think of them I'll write the names of the many people, things and opportunities I already have in my life, then I"ll drop these into the Meaning Basket under our Christmas tree. (The piles of paper scraps and pencils all over the house are something I've been using for a long time to capture creative ideas and reminders for my TO-DO list.)

I'll focus, especially, on those people and things I never seem to get around to enjoying as fully as I would like. Then, I'll take steps to do the special things I always intend to do, but never seem to get around to because I'm too busy with shopping, rushing around, or looking through the mountains of holiday catalogs that come in the mail each day. As for my unused possessions, I'm either going to make a point put those things to good use in the coming year or give them to someone else who will. How many of these are things I've asked for and received for Christmas in the past?!

I'll also write down the needs I see in our community, the many things I see and feel drawn to help with. There are so many that I often feel pulled in all directions, overwhelmed, with no plan of action. In January, as I'm looking ahead to the coming year, I'll sort these out and choose something to follow through with, something tangible and manageable to make a start.

Our close family has asked to keep gift exchange simple this year with primarily homemade, handmade gifts, gift cards, and time spent spent enjoying each other's company. This feels right to me.

Mindful of this, I intend to use the basket and scraps of paper instead of spending December thinking about what else I might want and don't really need, or wandering through stores and shopping online trying to figure out what to get for people who've told me they don't really need anything else either. When I see an ad for something I might want, I'll get the scissors and cut out a picture of it, like I did when I was a kid, then drop that picture into the basket where it can sit in the context of all the good that already exists in my life. Thus, my inevitable longings for shiny, new things will find more balanced context, a context where I can better decide which acquisitive longings to indulge.

All this may be asking a lot of a second-hand basket, but such a simple container seems like an appropriate symbol for carrying the Thanksgiving mindset of gratitude and mindfulness forward into the coming Christmas season. It is my hope that the value of my new Meaning Basket and the insights it holds will stay in place long after our Christmas tree has been put away.

Will you join me by filling your own Meaning Basket this season?

©Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Sunday, November 22, 2015

20151120 Happiness = New Words + New Melody

Happiness is listening to the radio on a long drive home after a satisfying day of work, with a beautiful, pink-clouded sunset filling the sky all around me.

Happiness is finding a program on the radio playing songs Stephen Sondheim said he wished he'd written. Among the selections was one I'd never heard before, a lump-in-the-throat-joyful-AHA-moment-feeling-at-the-end sort of song, written for a voice just like mine.

Happiness is coming home to discovering that I already have the sheet music for this song among the books on the shelves in my studio.

Happiness is setting a goal to learn to sing and play the song this week. I will sing it for others sometime soon, in the hope of giving them that same lump-in-the-throat-joyful-AHA-moment sort of feeling it gave to me :-)

New Words, new melody. This is happiness.

I'm not going to come right out and tell what the song is. Not yet. Though there is a big fat clue among the words you've just read.

And here is another big clue.

©Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Thursday, November 19, 2015

20151119 The 3-Acre Woods and Beyond

I ventured into formerly forbidden territory and survived!
Though the same can't be said for whatever creature this was whose bones I found lying in a woodland thicket.

I'm just back from a walk in our woods AND the unexplored stretch of woods to the south of us. 

I'd never gone very far over our property line in the past because I thought I'd be trespassing. No one could have seen me if I had, but that's just the way I do things. 

Then, last week I learned that the 40-plus acres adjacent to ours, to the south and east, had been purchased back in 2013 by Avalonia Land Conservancy, Inc​.  The property is now designated as the Mistuxet Hill Preserve, linking the whole woodland to the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center​ and permanently preserving all of it from development. Forever!

All this time, the nearby woods where public land. I had no idea!

Today, I walked right on past our property boundary and wandered far off through thickets, around fallen trees, and over a little trickle of stream nestled between mossy boulders. There were no trails, besides those suitable only for deer. I had to make my own way through the tangle. I found many interesting corners and a few mysterious "treasures" along the way--animal bones, including a large skull, several different kinds of mushroomy things I never seen before growing on downed trees, stones with crystals sticking out of the mossy soil, and giant leaves that looked like they might be chestnut (could they be?) from a now bare, unidentifiable tree.

I've just returned from meandering for more than 2 hours, exploring the "wilds" of the woods in our own back yard. I feel deeply peaceful and contented, something I can't explain with any specificity, but truer than true, nonetheless.

I had been holding myself back for years from this ready source of adventure and exploration simply because I incorrectly assumed it wasn't possible or permissible. 

There's a broader lesson here. 

Moving forward, I may rely a bit less on my usually cautious assumptions. 

You'll find me out push boundaries in my own quiet way, while venturing into the unknown territory outside my own back door.

©Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Saturday, July 12, 2014

20140712 Time Stamp Steel Steal

Over the past several years, Facebook has largely taken the place of writing and reading blogs for many people, myself included. At the same time, dissatisfaction grows with every new changed that Facebook makes. Many are unhappy with the way Facebook filters what we get to see. That's why there is renewed interest in communicating more broadly through other channels.

It's been nearly a year since I've shared anything here on Quiet Little Life. With this post, I make a start. Nothing profound. Just life, my little life, lived quietly.

It's summer and with that comes yard sales. Today's haul includes:

- A large cast iron kettle that will get scoured with steel wool and reseasoned when the weather is more conducive to running an oven for 3 or 4 hours at a stretch.

- 17 stamps. Mostly plants and flowers. These would sell for about $10 each at a craft supply store. They were asking $1 each, but I got a better deal. Will use them for texture on my Sacred Shards pottery, perhaps, though I prefer to only use stamps I've made myself. At the very least, they will provide ideas for designing my own stamps. Something to play with.

All of this for about $20.

Material for future creative adventures, discovered by chance, bought at a bargain price. This makes me happy.

Happy summer exploring to you!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

20130831 Rough Recording of "Gallery"

words and music by Kay Pere


Well, here it is, a link to a very rough recording of my song "Gallery, sung live in one take to unedited, unmixed backing tracks I finally finished cobbling together today.

It's very important that we keep our promises, especially promises we make to ourselves. This recording is a promise kept and a celebration of health! It's far from perfect, but it's a few tiny steps closer to being something I can put on my next CD.

Back in June when I found out that I was going to have a thyroidectomy in July--surgery that carried the risk of damaging my voice--I made a promise to myself to have a rough recording of one of my songs completed by the end of August, whether I could sing it or just use an instrumental track for the melody until I'd recovered fully. My singing voice is actually well ahead of where they said it would be by this point, 6 weeks after surgery, and I'm happier than words can say about this!

There is no sense in waiting until we're perfect to do what we value most, so here it is!

[All content of "Quiet Little Life" (c)Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing]

Saturday, June 29, 2013

25 Days of Yclept Living: Bye-Bye Bowtie

Limitations are a part of life.

In my creative work, I have found that limits open new directions, new ways of looking at things.

Since life is the ultimate creative project, why shouldn't it function the same way?

Sometimes we intentionally impose limits on ourselves, as when I do my best to limit the amount of plastic that comes into my life. Sometimes we choose to limit our creative work to only certain kinds of projects, subject matter, or materials for the purpose of artistic expression and exploration.

Other times, limits are forced upon us by circumstances beyond our control.

That's the situation I find myself in right now. In 16 days I'll be having surgery on my neck. Until then, and for at least a week afterward, there is a growing list of things I love to do that I shouldn't, things I haven't been able to do for several weeks already.

I'm reminded of something I read this past week in the beautiful book, "Seeing Trees", written by Nancy Ross Hugo, with gorgeously detailed photographs of tree bits-and-pieces by Robert Llewellyn. Writing about a particular kind of tree Ross says, "I love these things . . . not because they are inherently lovable but because I know them. 'What we can't identify doesn't exist for us,' Bernd Heinrich points out in The Trees in My Forest, and by extension, what we can identify, we own."

The archaic, poetic word yclept means "named" or "called". In poetry, vocabularyclept, writing uses the words from a pre-existing poem, and only those words, to create a new poem. The yclept limitation is "named", identified, then put to creative use.

Right now, my outer limits are much closer in than I would like them to be. I've spent considerable energy naming my limits or, more accurately, complaining and worrying about them. Until the surgery and for a short time afterward, most normal activities make my neck, shoulder, and right arm ache deeply. Each new day has brought a new activity that's off limits. Now I've gotten to the point where I'm doing my best to do almost nothing. That's just depressing.

Unless I want to continue making myself and those around me miserable every day for the next month, I've realized that I have to find another way of being and seeing.

I don't want to whine.  I have several friends and family members who are living with permanent challenges far more serious than my own temporary woes. My situation is far from life threatening, just inconvenient.

A few days ago, during a moment of clarity I got to thinking, if I can identify my limitations, perhaps I can own them. If I can name them, maybe I can live more creatively within them.

So I took the liberty of extending the definition of the word yclept to include calling out or naming life's limitations, either chosen or outwardly imposed, with the intention of working creatively within them, thus the phrase yclept living.

For these 25 Days of Yclept Living, I shall name my outer limits only this once:

~ No turning my head side-to-side or up and down
~ Which means no driving
~ No lifting, pushing, or straining in any way
~ Which means no kneading bread, gardening, working with clay larger than my fist, housework, or opening and closing window sashes, etc
~ My voice (and the rest of me) is tiring easily right now. Sometimes it even hurts to sing or speak, so guess what else this little singer has had to give up for a few weeks, just to be on the safe side.

Even within these limitations, the way I choose to think about them--if I can find the strength--will make all the difference in how I experience them.

It's one thing to know this. It's another to put it into practice.

Day before yesterday, on DAY 18, I made this countdown calendar.

That was 18 days until the surgery, 7 days after that until I can lift, turn, and drive again. 25 days in all.

"Bye-Bye Bowtie" is for the bit of stuff that's causing so much inconvenience. My thyroid gland is being evicted for having become lumpy and oversized, though I'm extremely thankful to report that it's benign.

To keep myself accountable as I attempt to live more positively within these fate-selected limits--and perhaps to offer ideas of use to others--I've decided to blog about my daily work to make this time more meaningful, when so many of my usual meaning making activities are beyond my reach.

Since sitting at my computer and working with the mouse can only happen for short periods of time without pain, yesterday--DAY 17--I downloaded an app for blogging from my iPad.

Today is DAY 16, and I have begun.

Though my temporary list of "can't"s is long and the journey toward surgery has been months in the making, having begun this new way to look at the countdown, now I'm actually looking forward using this experience to create another kind of list.

It will be a list of the rewarding activities I find to pass the time within these limitations, the work-arounds I come up with, and the discoveries I make in relationships and within myself.

As I'm able, this is what I hope share with you here. I hope you will find something created within these limits, that is useful in your own life.

It's just past midnight now, the beginning of DAY 15. 

Even knowing that it will be a limited day, with the probability of pain and pills that dull it and my mind, I feel hopeful to see what DAY 15 will bring. And hopeful about the days that follow.

Yes, limitations are a part of life.

But they can also open up new directions and new ways of looking at things.

(C)Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gaia Luna Video Tour: January Thaw

Gem the cat and I would like you to join us on our first ever video tour of Gaia Luna Garden.

We've chosen a pleasant day during our January thaw to make for easy walking.  You'll see where we're starting the year. And in future videos you'll be able to watch how it grows.

Even in this cold time of long darknesses, we know we've turned the corner of the seasons, and we're heading back toward Spring!

(c)2013 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Eric Maisel Does For Mood What Michael Pollan Did For Food

"Rethinking Depression" by Eric Maisel

“In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” the 2008 bestseller by Michael Pollan challenged us to take back our food supply from the “Nutritional Industrial Complex.”

Another bestselling author, Eric Maisel, psychologist and international creativity expert, in “Rethinking Depression: How to Shed Mental Health Labels and Create Personal Meaning,” urges us “make meaning” in order to take back our mood supply from the Medical Industrial Complex. [my coined phrase, not Maisel’s] 

Maisel encourages us to make a meaningful life in order to combat inevitable human unhappiness, then he tells us how. 

If this book hasn't been on the bestseller list by the time you read this review, I wish it were. It looks at life with an honesty and clarity that is rare, and much needed.

I am fortunate to be among a handful of artists, authors, and others across the globe to be asked to read and respond to "Rethinking Depression" as part of Eric Maisel's blog tour for it's launch this month.

Based on its title, at this point in my life I probably wouldn't have selected "Rethinking Depression" from a bookstore's shelves as my next read, but I'm extremely grateful to have read it.  It's true that you can't judge a book by its cover.  It arrived at just the right time to repeatedly provided insight that I'm on the right path, for me, as I work to make a meaningful life. I saw reflected back to me among its pages a philosophy and approach that rings true.

Maisel writes of his 2012 release with New World Library“I question whether ‘the mental disorder of depression’ exists or whether in contemporary times human sadness has been monetized and languaged into a ‘mental disorder.’ I follow that discussion with a plan for minimizing sadness and living life with purpose.” 

It is a book in two parts.

PART ONE: Maisel Rethinks Depression
Part One is a well-reasoned look at the medicalization and pathologization of common human experiences of emotional pain and sadness by the pharmaceutical industry and mental health establishment.  Maisel describes how our perception of these behaviors and experiences has been transformed by diagnostic lists of symptoms with an accompanying menu of approved treatments.

I find Maisel’s carefully reasoned arguments to be extremely persuasive. 

Though my reading of “Rethinking Depression”s opening chapters brought to mind many questions—I’m always one to ask, “Yeah, but what about…”—I was moved to speak aloud, “Yes!” when Maisel recommended that instead of the term “depression,” we use more specific and compassionate words such as “sadness” or “loneliness” or “disappointment” or “loss.”  These feelings are not medical conditions. They are normal human reactions to life’s harshest realities.  I won't be addressing those questions or their answers here, but in the course of writing this review I had the opportunity to interact with Eric Maisel directly. I will just say that this book represents only a small portion of a well-reasoned and compassionate conceptual edifice well worth exploring.

And there is great power in naming things as they truly are.

This is not to say that Maisel opposes prescription medication, talk therapy, or even religious practice as help for those struggling with difficult experiences and emotions. He simply wants us to recognize that these options are only that, options.

PART TWO:  We Learn to Rethink Depression
In Part Two of “Rethinking Depression”, Maisel presents another option: the reader can learn to "make meaning" by developing and acting on an "Existential Plan.”

Chapter 4, the first in Part Two, is one of the most beautifully stated explanations of a philosophical perspective—in this case existentialism—I have ever read.  With his customary pragmatic, conversational tone, Maisel lays out the ideas of Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Kafka, Sartre, and Camus in terms anyone can understand. Then he shows the reader how to move beyond the philosophical into the day-to-day application of these ideas to life.

To paraphrase: Life is both beautiful and extremely harsh.  No one can tell you what it all means. You have to take responsibility for yourself, decide for yourself what meaning you wish to make of life, then do your best each day to live ethically according to your own self-knowledge, values, and goals.  Even knowing that you will fall short of this ideal much of the time, Maisel asserts that this is the best way to deal with your own human unhappiness, simply by seeing life for what it is, being true to yourself, doing what you can and making what you can of your life as you go along.

For other more academic explanations of existentialism offering greater detail than I'm able, you might want to look at the following:

Here is Jean-Paul Sartre's (b. 1908, d. 1980) own explanation of existentialism given in a lecture in 1949, if you care to wade through it:  http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/sartre/works/exist/sartre.htm

The last time I’d tried to understand existentialism was in college. I attempted to read something by Sartre, perhaps "Being and Nothingness," on the recommendation of a friend, who I later learned had selectively adopted its ideas to justify an assortment of amoral life choices.

All I remember is that it left me feeling deeply depressed—or I should say profoundly unhappy and hopeless.  My father was dieing of cancer at the time.  My dreams for myself were proving to be much more difficult that I’d expected to make real, if not impossible, under the circumstances.  And I was experiencing my first crisis of faith, as the religious beliefs I was raised with longer seemed to ring true.  Sartre’s writing echoed my own dawning awareness of life’s harsh realities, without offering any comfort, at least in its opening pages.  It was too much for me at the time.

I wish someone had placed a copy of “Rethinking Depression” in the hands of my younger self all those years ago. Though, having read this book, I now feel as if someone has.

Part Two of this book begins with the realism of existential philosophy in Chapter 4, then fleshes out an approach to life that puts the power back into our hands as we each decide for ourselves how to be true to ourselves (live an authentic life) and make that life meaningful, even—perhaps, especially—when life seems most meaningless.

In each of the chapters that follow, Maisel offers step-by-step guidance on how to do this, all the while admitting that meaning making, though worth the effort, is anything but easy.

I’m a big fan Do-It-Yourself.  I grow a garden each summer so my family, friends, and I can enjoy healthy fruits and vegetables. I bake my own bread by hand, from scratch, and even sew my own clothes when I have the time.  I entertain myself and perhaps offer the same to a few other people by creating original artwork and music from the raw materials of my imagination. And I volunteer for the causes I value most in the belief that making the world a better place is the ultimate DIY project.

Until I read “Rethinking Depression” that I had never thought to use the particular words “making meaning” to describe my DIY life. Now I realize  that’s exactly what I’ve always felt.  For me, Maisel’s use of that powerful phrase delivered a fabulous AH-HA moment, one of many provided by this book.

Maisel’s admonition to “focus on meaning, not mood” was another lightbulb moment for me. Again, this is something I attempt to do, though, for me, having the right words for it brings the practice to a higher level of awareness and choice.  In the face of life’s unavoidable unwanted experiences—and the pain, sadness, disappointment, and anger that inevitably accompanies them—I can choose in each moment to bravely, though imperfectly, turn my attention and actions toward the things I value most, toward creating the life and being the person I most wish to be.

Serendipitously, as I was writing this review, I happened to be working my way back through my personal journals from last summer, looking for bits of insight and lessons learned. After reading “Rethinking Depression,” I read the words I’d written then in a new way. 

I was taking the unavoidable difficulties of life and transforming them through choice and action into meaning.  In this way, I was able in the course of three handwritten pages to move from sadness to strength. I wrote:
I’m still feeling down this morning. What I imagine I’ve lost in the past 10 years is the optimistic boldness of belief that everything would work out as I imagined it would.  Time and again, I’ve faced emotional and physical setbacks that stripped me of my momentum….10 years ago I had no idea that all of this lay ahead.  All I saw was possibility.  I saw my own potential.  I believed that possibility and ability would come together to create the reality I envisioned.  If it were entirely up to me, then that’s exactly what would have happened.  It’s not.  It’s not entirely up to me.  My past, my body, the people I encounter and the things they choose to do, these are outside of my control.  They are the other creative forces.

All I can do is continue to show up.  When I’m tired, when I’m sad, when I’m so discouraged I want to give up, I can still show up.  I don’t have to feel it in order to continue acting on my creative vision. I start with what is, in this moment, and put my hand to it, apply my mind and emotion to it.  Even in sadness.  Even in despair of ever seeing my vision realized.

I am here.
As long as I am here there is hope for what might be.
That is enough.
I've learned along the way that life's obstacles and distractions offer some of the most meaningful adventures, as long as we can learn to walk through the unhappiness of unexpected detours and actively turn them into opportunities for learning and growth. Maisel's latest provides us with the tools and instructions we need to do this for ourselves.

"Rethinking Depression" should be required reading in the great school of living. We are each far more than a set of mental health criteria. We are far more than a diagnosis or the lack of one. Making a meaningful life is simply the best way to take back our mood supply.


Eric Maisel, PhD, is a licensed psychotherapist and the author of Rethinking Depression and numerous other titles including Mastering Creative Anxiety, Brainstorm, Coaching the Artist Within, and A Writer’s San Francisco. He blogs for the Huffington Post and writes for Professional Artist Magazine. Visit him online at http://www.ericmaisel.com

February 15, 2012 •  Pychology/Personal Growth •  256 pages • Trade Paperback
Price: $14.95 • ISBN 978-1-60868-020-7

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

FREE DOWNLOAD: Grand Design: Artist's Prayer MINI-POSTER


Formatted for 8x11 inch paper. Looks particularly yummy printed on beige card stock. You will need Acrobat reader or some other program to view the PDFs. Print settings may have to be adjusted to accommodate the size of the image within the allowable margins of your printer.

The Grand Design: An Artist's Prayer
a song by Kay Pere

My heart is a parchment, my hand holds a quill.
I dip this pen, quivering, afraid the ink might spill.
I long to draw you to me, Great Mystery within.
Move my hands, move my heart, guide my pen.

Though I try to sketch the future, only your hand turns the page.
You erase the stains and smudges of my past mistakes.
So I ask, please, grant the wisdom to know where to draw the line
And provide a clearer vision of your Grand Design.

I could never pen your portrait for I've yet to see your face,
But I know you from your likeness in the beauty of this place.
The pattern of your stillness rests upon my open book.
A still life of your spirit shines wherever I might look.

Though I try to sketch the future, only your hand turns the page.
You erase the stains and smudges of my past mistakes.
So I ask, please, grant the wisdom to know where to draw the line
And provide a clearer vision of your Grand Design.

Great Artist, you arranged the stars and fashioned each small flower.
My heart and hands are yours to move in the quiet of this hour.

So I ask, please, grant the wisdom to know where to draw the line
And provide a clearer vision of your Grand Design.

(c) Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Sometimes, making a beginning is the hardest part, until you remember that you don't create alone.

I've always felt a bit intimidated by a blank piece of paper, an unplanted garden bed, an unshaped lump of clay, a song waiting to be recorded. No matter how many times I've done something before, successfully or not, beginning anew is always accompanied by a particular kind of internal resistance.

The outcomes of my efforts, past and future, draw themselves vividly before me in that moment when I sit down to begin. Sometimes this feels so daunting that find it hard not to turn away.

I wonder to myself: Will it work out as well as it did last time? Will the result be what I imagine? Or will I repeat my past mistakes? Will my weaknesses of skill, knowledge, character or body keep me from completing what I've set out to do? Will my work be blocked by something I can't foresee?

I lose hope.

Until I remember how many times that errors--both on the page and in my life--have lead to outcomes much better than I ever could have envisioned.

In life, my most painful and costly mistakes have always ushered in periods of the greatest personal growth. Mishaps and mistakes in judgment have taught compassion, forgiveness, resilience, strength, self-acceptance, and so much more.

In my creative work, I can't count the number of times a failure of materials, equipment, skill, or advice has brought me to a place where the things I'd originally set out to do were no longer possible. I'm learning to be more open to accepting change and seeing what IS possible. When I can to do this, the results I didn't expect are always more interesting and original than those I could have planned.

I know I haven't provided specific examples. In the coming days I hope it to write in more detail on my other blogs, sharing anecdotes from my pottery work, songwriting, and teaching. As soon as these interrelated essays are ready, I'll share links to them here.

I hope you'll print out a mini-poster or two, and place it where it can inspire you.

The words are meant as a reminder that there is another Artist who creates along side you.

Take chances, trusting that--one way or another--the outcome of your efforts will be something beautiful.

As we create, so we are created.

The hand-drawn frame of this MINI-POSTER was doodled on the back of an old 8x10 glossy publicity photo I had taken and duplicated by the hundreds for a press kit about 8 years ago. I have a huge stack of these photos remaining, an error in planning I've been hiding in the top of my studio closet, but that's a story for another time. Now they're becoming the raw material for something much more satisfying, serving as sturdy drawing paper for playing with sharpie Markers.

I doodled the frame 2 days ago with no particular purpose in mind. Decided yesterday morning it needed text in the center. Scanned it. Modified it. Selected my song "The Grand Design: An Artist's Prayer" for the text. Discovered that this song--which I've been working on for the past 3 years--was still missing 2 lines. At that moment the inspiration fairy finally chose to visit. And here it is.

When there's a recording and/or video of "The Grand Design: An Artist's Prayer", you'll find links to these here, as well as on my website.

(c) Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

*These are copyrighted images. PERMISSION IS HEREBY GRANTED to duplicate for personal use, to give as a gift, or to raise funds for non-profits supporting social justice and the environment. Also authorized for academic use. NOT to be sold for personal or commercial monetary gain. Kay Pere and Effusive Muse Publishing retain all rights to "The Great Design: An Artist's Prayer" song lyrics, music, and related sound recordings. Contact Kay Pere for additional information.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mehndi Heart in Hand: FREE DOWNLOAD Bookmarks

On 3/22/11, I decorated myself with mehndi designs (henna) as a way to mark an important rite of passage. I knew that by the time it faded I would be well on my way to better things.

Today, I celebrate the return of spring and a return to health after 4 months of difficulty, culminating in surgery and a brief hospitalization. (Nothing life threatening, just one of those things.) Most of all, with a deep sense of gratitude, I celebrate the broad circle of friendship that has made the Divine more tangible to me through many thoughtful acts of kindness. I'm convinced that the compassion that surrounded me during this time was the best medicine of all.

In celebration and as an expression of my gratitude, I decided to use this occasion to share my first FREE PDF DOWNLOADs. There are no strings attached except for your solemn promise, on the honor system, NOT use them for your own or anyone else's monetary gain.*

At the bottom of this post, you will find links to click to download or print the files and instructions to follow. You will need Adobe Acrobat or some other program for viewing PDFs. These will enable you to make the bookmarks shown above, another of similar design with a more secular theme, or both. Your choice!

They are arranged 5 per page for each design. I recommend printing on card stock or cover stock.
I've designed these bookmarks to be an affirmation that each of us can make a difference for good through our simple, personal acts of kindness.

I created these to send out as a "thank you" to the many friends who were there for me during my recovery. Some provided home cooked meals, others shared DVDs, several stopped by for a chat and helped out when my husband was unavoidably away for a couple of days just a week after my return home. These are equally my way of saying "thank you" to friends and family far away who sent messages of encouragement.

I have friends and family members from many different belief systems and a wide range of religious traditions: Christians of every denomination, Jews, hindus, Buddhists, unitarians, pagans, wiccans, mystics, humanists, atheists, agnostics, and Hare Krishnas. I have learned much from each one. All have in common a desire to make the world a better place through the use of their unique skills and talents. The power of love is their unifying belief.

That's why I chose to include two separate designs.

Yes, I attend a Christian church. That's the path of belief I've chosen for myself, the community I've joined for the work of building lasting relationships, for experiencing and wrestling with the Divine, and doing the work of Love that can't be done by one alone. Still, I don't believe that Truth can be contained in one book or one building.

The "Heart in Hand" Bookmark, the one on the right above with a spiral on the index finger, is the more secular of the two. Since many of my friends are active in the arts, I chose the following quote:

"In art the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can inspire." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
FREE DOWNLOAD: Heart in Hand Bookmark
The "God's Love Letter" Bookmark, the one on the left above with a cross on the index finger, was intended to have special meaning for my church friends. Its text reads:
"I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world" ~ Mother Teresa of Calcutta
FREE DOWNLOAD: God's Love Letter Bookmark
(also also included on each sheet)
  1. Select a bookmark PDF, save and/or print it on card stock in your choice of color(s). I used beige. You may need to adjust your print settings for scale and centering. These images were set up for 8 1/2 x 11 inch with very narrow margins.
  2. Using scissors, cut just inside the guidelines to make arm shaped bookmarks. Feel free to adjust the shape to your liking as you cut. Punch hole for attaching tassel at location marked.
  3. Cut 10-12 inch lengths of ribbon, yarn, of raffia in your choice of color(s). Fold each in half and tie or loop through the punched hole to attach. Then, if you choose, separate the strands of yarn or fray the raffia to make a fuller tassel.
  4. Sit down with a cup of tea and a good book! Or pencil personalized notes to friends on the back of each bookmark and give as gifts.
(c)Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

*These are copyrighted images. PERMISSION IS HEREBY GRANTED to duplicate for personal use, to give as gifts, or to raise funds for non-profits supporting social justice and the environment. NOT to be sold for personal or commercial monetary gain. Contact Kay Pere for additional information.