Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Intentions And Resolutions

This is the time of the year when our minds considers the infinite realms of resolutions and intentions.
It is great to sit down and envision a better self as well as a better world. Will we read more books? Listen to more diverse music? Exercise some more or exercise at all? Eat more wholesome food? Be kinder to our spouse? Lose some weight? so many possibilities.  Endless thoughts enter and exit our minds.  The year that looms ahead is full of promises, but stays like a book, closed to our vision. Inscrutable, a blank book filled with the lusciousness of the unknown and the invite of our best resolutions and intentions.

Some of them we keep alive and struggle to make happen.  But many are abandoned like field flowers on the wayside of our path. So many years become a repetition of the one past and our many resolutions and intentions live only in our minds and we feel remorse and guilt for all the forgotten possibilities we had planned for the future.

Along the years, I have learned not to make drastic changes. Maybe turn my thoughts a little bit one way and my vision a little bit the other way, open my feelings more, consider what I can do in my own mind. Like a fisherman, cast my bait and wait with not too much expectation but just the joy of the moment.  It could mean unexpected changes, but it could simply mean the continuation of a line of thoughts and inner doings that I extend to the next year.

Some things are here to stay.  Bills will come, we will pay our taxes, summer will happen and the earth will spring flowers on our door steps. Children will be born and some of us will die.
The planet will continue its revolutions around the sun and the cycle of the seasons will come again to fit our preferences.

In other words, life will go on as we know it.  So what will change with the new year? Maybe nothing, maybe a lot. An earthquake could happen anytime, a revolution, a war, a huge hike in our insurance, a fallout with our best friend or the pleasure of knowing someone new and discovering a new land. How much is due to our resolutions and intentions? maybe nothing, maybe a lot and maybe it is not due to our resolutions but to the ones of those in power and the simple movements of the earth. And also to the changes in the other people psyche, something that we have no power on.

Personally what do I want? more time to write, more time to create, more pen &and ink drawings, more time with my loved ones, maybe a neat trip to Europe or a trip around the states that I have not visited, more and more people to read this blog, and much more of my own inner life.  Being in touch with my own feelings, my guidance and the world surrounding me would be an added bonus.

I wonder how much of this will materialize...I know that work will intrude and take me away, that life will interfere one way or the other.  But maybe as everyone else, some of my desires will go ahead with the force of a running champion and show me that indeed, my dreams can happen.  It is good to let go and envision a life where my desires are met.

Everyone could be thinking the same things and all our desires merge in the collective unconscious to create a strange global soup that eventually is here to confront us.  It makes me laugh. Everyone has an intention, and many of our intentions collide!

But it is good to let go and imagine as John Lennon did, a better world, a better year when we thrive and blossom, when our intentions and resolutions line up with some fabulous world happening and we can smile knowing that the year ahead is what we all wanted.

Here are some ways to wrap the year nearly past and learn from all its happenings.

Ask yourself these questions, alone or with some trusted friends.

How was this year?  Get an overall view of the year.

What did I not like?

What did I learn?

What did I enjoy the most?

Happy regrouping!

Copyright Dec 2010, Micheline Brierre

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Time To Love

The kitten looked at us with wide innocent eyes wondering what all the fuss was about.  My Dad had brought us the Christmas tree  -- which in Haiti was not easy to find-- and we had set it up in the living room while waiting to bring the box or ornaments and decorate it.  It was an irresistible attraction to our kitten who jumped on it and climbed to the top investigating the side branches.  We were flabbergasted and at the same time laughing, as he cast a look of total surprise to us from the top of his perch.  Getting him down was a challenge in itself but that is another story. That was the beginning of the Christmas season for us and I still smile remembering.

How far it seems compared to my life now in Colorado with our dry weather ( so far) and fairly mild one that seems to some very unseasonal and to me -- wonderful.  I was born in an island of the Caribbean and the lack of snow is normal to me.

I still remember my first Christmas as a young and inexperienced bride in Mexico City having put the turkey in the oven and expecting it to be ready in a few hours. Well, we waited and I cried and checked on the bird in despair and it was not until late in the afternoon when the thing was finally cooked.  I could have looked in cook books but figured on my own that if I could cook a chicken, a turkey was not much different. Mistake!  In Haiti we had a cook who took care of such things but my ignorance paid off.  Now I can cook the bird and enjoy Christmas.

I am on a sort of a semi vacation. My studio calls me but I have many other things to do.  I recently joined a mostly fiber group to satisfy my craving for wool and threads ever since in Columbia I walked in the studio of one of my artist friend and Gallery owner at the time, Marlene Hoffman.  I was so thrilled by the variety of yarn tossed in baskets and waiting to be woven into her tapestries that it has became a life long love of mine.  The Fiber group recently put up a sale and show and more than twenty artist participated with unusual scarves with little windows made out of transparent fabric in the middle of felted material and others in a fantastic textured silk all ruffled, beckoning and so fulfilling to the eyes. Many handmade purses caught my eyes and I bought some little triangles sachets made of fabric, lined in interesting colors like a mini container and big enough to display an earrings to give to someone dear.  Jewelry hang from a copper tree and fantastic work from Karen Pierce and Marc Jenesel filled a corner with their fabulous shapes. Many other intricate towels were woven in complex designs and warm colors.  I loved being there.

This is the time for shows by artists of all kind and the stores are also beckoning us with the Christmas music piped in to set the stage plus all of their displays to grab our attention. I must say I love all the excitement of walking in the aisles of a store smiling at some women while others look rather harried and rushed. I look for a gift for a certain person that is my way of saying to them; I have loved you all year long, this is one of the ways I can show you.  Of course our love is so encompassing it would be a bit meager to equal it with a gift, but our giving is just a form of expression and as such, getting it is a real pleasure.

It was my husband birthday recently and some friends of ours Paul and Julie, had us over for dinner and at the end brought a good chocolate cake and a gift bag for him.  It was filled with so many interesting and wonderful things to please a man and I thought how hard it is for me to pick a gift for the guys.  They seem to love things that seem so foreign to me unlike all the goodies that a woman loves; like perfume, silly clothes, purses, jewelry, frilly scarves, fragrant soaps, creams, in short, what makes us women the prime shoppers all over.

This is to me a magical time of the year.  I just finished putting up the tree with my daughter's help and now it is all decorated and with so many ornaments, some very old that bring many memories.  It stands up in a corner of our living room and glows as I write.

I realize that Christmas time is loaded with sadness for many different reasons.  The loss of a dear one this time of the year, the feeling of being overwhelmed with shopping and and the stress of getting the right presents and the pressure of it.  Others celebrate Hanukkah and not Christmas but also have to buy presents. For many, Christmas is a religious Holiday, a time to remember that it was the birth of Christ. Which is great but this time of the year can indeed be difficult. I myself do enjoy the spirit that brings us together and the celebratory feeling inside myself that propels me daily to go out and bathe in the ambiance as also we say goodbye to the year passed.

So we have no cats to climb our tree but I have a whole guest room full of gifts and paper, scissors. tape, and cards to finish the presents and come to the glorious day with joy.
My cards with many addresses filled the living room table and music remind me that so many artist created symphonies and songs to delight us and to live forever. My husband found for me a bag of precious gifts I bought months ago and could not find anywhere. He tends to be my finder!  So I can wrap them now. I am almost ready to go to the post office and mail to loved ones that live far away the little things that will tell them; I love you much....To me, this is the time to show how we love and be loved back.  The gifts are all a good pretext.

This Christmas as so many others bring so many memories engraved in my heart and so many more to come and the joy is endless. Cheers!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How Things Talk to Us

In my house there are things I love.  A little silver goblet that once belonged to my grandmother and that she took everyday with her to the bathroom to brush her teeth.  A large sterling silver plate hand hammered that reminds me of my life in Peru and my friend Isabelle.  Three orchids, waiting to bloom, these delicate but sturdy spray of flowers that last a few months; and many handmade objects by artists whose work I love.  Many paintings on the wall, and my books, my brushes and beads, cherished objects that delight me everyday and remind me that this is where I love to be -- this is my home.

Objects have the powerful effect of bringing with them all sorts of memories and enable us to go back in time and relive past moments that once meant a lot to us and maybe still do.  My collection of blue glass was mostly built in Lima, Peru when I once went visiting the studio of a woman artist whose work seemed to bring me back to the Caribbean sea with its vivid colors and shades. I put them in my window and enjoy the warmth of the early morning sun shining through all the blues of my youth.

Why do we enjoy things so much?  What appeal do they have on our psyche and our soul?
Some things have an affinity with us, they call to us and have a certain appeal that is irresistible.  It can last a lifetime or just some months.  It facilitates the exchange of money and feeds the pockets of so many who create such objects or make them in their studio or their factories.

I have some paintings by my friends Deb Komitor, Laura Reilley and Tracy Miller who delight me everyday. Some of my old oil paintings are a constant reminder of the passing of time and the beauty of the past as well as the anticipation of what could happen in the future.  What will these artist create next?  What will happen in their life to make them tackle a piece of clay or ceramic?  My husband and I have some dishes and bowls and cups by the local and much loved artists Tina and Ken Riesterer and every time I touch them, I can see both of their faces laughing or talking to me.  I go back to my time at the artist Co-op and there they are, sitting with me in the group.

Then there are old things that bring people back to us like a gift of the past.  I have a little bonnet hand crocheted by my grandmother that is so tiny it could fit over an orange.  Yet it was my hat when I was just a baby and it reminds me of my roots, my beginnings and the huge trajectory of my life with its turns and bumps and its uniqueness.  My parents are alive in little frames in my studio and look at me from the high shelf.  My poet uncle casts his sad eyes on me and I look back at him with gratefulness.

There is nothing like an album of photos to bring old memories back and faces we recall or have almost forgotten, brought to us by the magic of the camera and the old films now obsolete.  Many of my friends are gone but their photos tells me of their presence on the planet and their place in my heart.  The man who brought me a box of live butterflies is captured in black and white and looks at me from my studio.  My ring collection is a testimony of my travels and the presence of my two husbands ex and new who have given them to me and put me everyday with the choice of wearing one or the other.  And there is the large tapestry from Thailand that I have hanging in the back of my bed.  It is full of life and shines with gold and rust and I remember the trip my daughter and I took to Cambodia and Bangkok and my complete awe at the population's sense of exquisite beauty and incredible, unique craftsmanship.

But of course things can also bring us to materialism; the compulsion to buy and buy just to accumulate more things than we can live with.  Our country here is a good example of this as ahead of every season, the stores fill up with so much goods made in China or any other country.  The store's owners are good at merchandising and tempt us with their goods.  Such a variety of things, of clothes, of household items to entice us to spend our money while we accumulate more objects.  How do we resist?

Could we recycle some of our goods? Send them off to others who might need them?  I am in the process of getting rid of some of my books.  I realize that they have no place in my life anymore.  I have piles of them in my house ready to be given away and make room for the new.  Will I get rid of my cherished objects?  I do not know yet.  The connection is there but can fade away.  It will be time to let go.  I have had to let go of many things in my lifetime.  Having lived in many countries, some things could not be kept.  I hope they made some others happy.  With every move, I have given away some great amount of things and acquired some new ones.  Yet some of my cherished objects still are with me, stimulating memories, they linger and bring me some joy.

Like one of my large paintings that I painted when very young; a composite of the old country with its beauty and symbols it stands now in my living room symbolizing my roots; powerful and bold, an image of what I search for in life.

Some objects become a part of us. They make us recall, they make us revere, they make us admire, or they make us smile or be grateful.  No one can tell us to get rid of them; only a signal from inside that says "It is time now."  Yet there are some people who can live with just what they need everyday and want nothing else to take their attention away.  Monks or nuns, ascetics, or simply people that hold all their life within and need not the constant presence of things.  I am not such a person.  The things in my life are chosen because of a calling from my soul and will stay with me until it will be time to pass them away.  We take nothing with us when we die.  Our cherished things go and delight someone else or leave our heirs in complete indifference.  Life keeps unfolding while more things get acquired..

Indeed, we are of two worlds at the same time and the material is a part of us no matter how spiritual we are.

Copyright 2010 Micheline Brierre
Edited by Barry Kaplan