Nourishment & Healing

This is a post in pics. Last night, before attending a high school drama production my stepson was part of, I went for a solo saunter in the woods. By the end of the evening, I was nourished, fed, and inspired by a multitude of influences: the woods that surrounded me, the river that flowed beside the trail,

the sky in sprawl above in a budding spring blue,

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Masks

Last night, I attended our First Friday art walk downtown, where a plethora of coffee shops, stores, and offices host showings of local artists work, which takes place on the first Friday of every month. One installment especially stood out to me at the Dana Gallery, where a series of masks were on display that had been made by young people of all ages residing at the Watson’s Children’s Shelter here in town. Accompanying each mask was a one-line description and the age and gender of the person who’d crafted it. Here are the ones I jotted down on location:

“My masks show that people only see part of who I really am. If people saw all of me they wouldn’t want to be friends with me.”         13-year-old girl

“My mask is a unicorn, crying rainbows.” 9-year-old girl

“My mask is wearing a mask. It says you can’t trust people even if they say you can.” 14-year-old boy

“My mask is crying rainbows because I’m supposed to be happy, but I’m sad.” 4-year-old boy

“My mask only covers my eyes. I don’t think people should cover up who they are.” 12-year-old girl

“My mask is a superhero. I wish I had superhero powers so I could protect people.” 10-year-old boy

“I don’t want to talk about my mask.” 3-year-old girl

“My mask has blood on it. And the black is meth and drugs.” 9-year-old boy

I thought the premise of these masks paired well with a meme I came across yesterday on twitter (pictured above).

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Beyond Words

I regard my spoken word show and album release – having taken place on Friday night – not as my own but as a collective endeavor of all those who offered their love, support, time, and encouragement from near and far away; all who influenced me along the way; and every life experience I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to have thus far in my 38-years of living.

It’s hard to put certain things into words – which is really saying something when you’re a writer.

But any good writer knows that you can’t capture the feelings invoked by watching a sunset in the limiting net of words scribed on paper.

Any good writer knows that you can’t fully describe the sumptuous taste of chocolate; or the depth of ease felt after taking a walk in the woods or a dip in the river; or the warmth of spirit generated from being surrounded by the very best people.

My gratitude and love for all the people I have the distinct pleasure of knowing is vast, like the expanse of ocean, sky, and stretching of the universe that weaves us all together in its grace.

With all the heart that I can muster,
Nicole

pic taken yesterday at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, Montana

 

The Joy of Kid’s Art

snow

Kaylee Cole, age 10, of Plains sent in a weather picture with BFFs walking in the rain. Weather art from Montana kids runs every day in the Missoulian. To offer your child’s (or students’) creations, please send the artwork on an 8.5×11-inch piece of paper and carefully print your phone number and the name, age, birth date and hometown of the student. Horizontal pictures work best. Send pictures to Missoulian Weather Drawing, Missoulian, P.O.Box 8029, Missoula, MT 59807-8029. The newspaper holds on to each drawing for a month or so after publication, if you wish to stop by and retrieve it.

– From today’s Missoulian, our local newspaper

When I came across this picture this morning online in the Missoulian I was filled with a sense of joy.  I love that the girls in the picture are out in the rain/snow with their umbrellas smiling.  They’re BFF’s (best friends forever) and they seem content simply being together out in the elements.

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Deer Park, Day Nineteen

Laywomen's Cabins

Laywomen’s Cabins

Deer Park, Day Nineteen

(written on Wednesday January 29th)

6:30pm.

Today was much like yesterday in that it was an open schedule in order to continue preparing for TET.  New Year’s Eve is tomorrow night.  After breakfast there was optional working meditation where I volunteered to clean a few bathrooms.  When I was done cleaning I put a few finishing touches on the tearoom.  My lay friends have been telling me how much they enjoy the new look and I am so happy that everyone is benefiting from the fresh atmosphere.

I saw Llora as I was on my way to clean the bathroom behind the dining hall and she told me that my roommate Lorna had left.  She was intending to stay until Sunday so I was very surprised.  Right away I figured something must’ve been wrong to cause her to leave so suddenly.  I asked Llora if everything was OK, because she happened to run into her as she was leaving, and she said that Lorna was doing well and it was simply time for her to go.  Lorna left a note on the board in the dining hall saying good-bye and she left me a note in our room next to some art supplies she left for me as a gift, which included calligraphy brushes, ink, paper, and some watercolors.  The note said that she was terrible at good-byes and then thanked me for my presence and my smile.  Sometimes, despite our best-laid plans, it is simply time to leave.

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Before I Die…

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Art installment in downtown Missoula

From a local media source: The board (pictured above) was the brainchild of New Orleans-based artist Candy Chang, who has a history of installing art projects in public spaces. Her goal is to bring communities together and start a dialogue between neighbors who might not ordinarily speak about such intimate topics.  Communities in 52 countries have worked with her to erect similar installations, including in Argentina, Kazakhstan, South Africa and Australia. Missoula’s was the 289th installation in the world.

The other day I stopped to check out our temporary art installation downtown as I drove past on my home from the library.  It’s only up for the month of September.  Perusing the answers written in chalk I was half expecting to see more drunken rants and explicit statements.  The board sits on the outside of a parking garage on a major corridor of where many bar hop every Friday and Saturday night.  And while there were immature and nonsensical answers scribed on the board I think ones that were thought-out and had meaning were more plentiful.

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Daily Practice – Day 12

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Alley outside the window of the Missoula Art Museum

Day 12 – Before setting out for the day I practiced my sitting meditation in the dark stillness of my small bedroom while sitting on the floor as my husband slept.  I am now to the point where each morning when I wake up one of my first thoughts is of sitting meditation.

As spring break comes soon to a close my son and I dusted off our bikes from a long winter’s rest in the garage/wood shop/messy dumping ground for my husband’s roofing business and cycled downtown with some friends.  We went to lunch and then to our free local art museum.  It was a quiet day amongst the art and for the most part we had the museum all to ourselves.  As we walked around I was aware of how all beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Just as there is no one right beauty there is also no one right way to do anything.  We like to think there is only one right way to live and be (our way of course) but in reality this is simply not true.

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The following excerpt is from the MAM’s (Missoula Art Museum) website (pertains to pictures above and below):

MAM is pleased to host the exhibit Blindsided, designed and installed by Molt, MT artist Tracy Linder. Blindsided addresses the artist’s deep rooted connection to the land and her belief in the sanctity of our food sources. Linder states, “For over twenty years, I have been exploring the cultural significance of agriculture and agribusiness along with the integral roles of science, humanity and philosophy.” The word “blindsided” brings to mind a phenomenon that catches us unawares, especially with a harmful or detrimental result. In the same way, we are often blindsided by information which addresses the artificial manipulation of agriculture and the food supply, sometimes very unexpectedly. Linder goes on to state, “My works are derived from living a life close to the land as I transform remnants of animal, plant, human, and machine into visceral hybrids that reveal the reciprocal relationships necessary to sustain life. I grew up on a farm and now live on the vast windswept prairie of south central Montana. It is a place where the life-cycle is revalent and death is commonplace. I prefer to consider the mass of these circumstances by looking at the individual; the source.”

The presence of nearly identical cow heads communicates multiplicity, reproduction, and identity. Constructed from cast cotton paper, fescue grass, and metal ear bands, Blindsided masterfully communicates a sense of cloning and the manipulation of nature. We are reminded that when everything is identical, we lose uniqueness. Linder continues, “The cyclical patterns embedded in time are inherent to my process. I create unique handmade multiples to emphasize timelessness. The survival instinct is a resource. It is true ‘all flesh is grass’ and I am always seeking to reveal the intermingled and interdependent relationships necessary to the survival of both the grass and the flesh.”

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The rows of casted paper cow heads spoke of gentleness and grace.  A soft texture and chalk white color delicately decorated each sweet bovine depiction of Montana’s prairie dwellers.  Each was equipped with two blades of grass which added an element of depth and beauty to a perhaps otherwise sterile installment.  When I showed the pictures I took of this exhibit to my husband he said they were a little creepy.  Ah, beauty to one can be creepy to another.  There is no right way to look at a paper cow head.  Just as there is no right way to look upon life.  Which means perfection is but another illusion that we have to train ourselves to get out of.