She sits on the soft colorful cushions and stares at the

White clouds, dotting the baby blue sky.Blue Sky with Sun

Soft yellow light peeps out from the pristine clouds

And streams into the quiet spotless living room.

 

The only sound is the hum of the refrigerator,

And an occasional fire siren on the street below.

She could put on music; she can’t select from the endless possibilities.

Instead, she sits in the quiet.

 

It’s not like this in most of her friends’ homes.

There’s boisterous laughter and rowdy kids

Running through the houses joyously singing.

In her home, she sits in the quiet.

 

“Everyone is alone at some point in their life,” she’s heard.

“How do we use that time?” The speaker described options.

None of the choices fit her.

The Fifth Question* hangs in the air: What should she do with the quiet?

Sunlit View Blue Sky

**

*The Pesach (Passover) Haggadah has four questions. This person has an additional query.

“Bubbie, you didn’t give me a present for my birthday!” wailed my four-year-old grandson.

“Of course I did!”

“Nooooo!”

Trying to reason with a sobbing child, I calmly explained: “Remember, I gave you the matching game with the colorful pictures?”

“But that wasn’t a present!” he yelled.

“What? Why…”

“The game wasn’t wrapped! You didn’t give me a present!”

“Ohhh…you mean if I give you a game that’s not wrapped, then it’s not a present?

“Right. You didn’t give me a present!”

Oh! I never knew that a wrapped box made the item a present…at least for a four-year-old. But how could I correct this egregious error? I didn’t want to be known as The Bubbie Who Doesn’t Give Presents!

This conversation happened in December, shortly before Chanukah. Perhaps I had a chance to redeem myself.

“Chanukah is coming. What would you like?”

Said child responded with interesting toy choices such as Ninja turtles and PJ Masks Headquarters.  “OK. I can buy one of those toys for you!”

“But Bubbie…remember to wrap it!”

“Of, course!” I smiled back and gently patted his face. We continued chatting, played some games, read stories, and I visited with the other kids. And of course played catch with Jax, their two-year-old frisky Lab.

As I walked to the front door to leave, Mr. Wrap-the-Present reminded me, “Bubbie, don’t forget to wrap my toy!”

The Importance of Wrapping

Typically, kids excitedly and hurriedly rip the wrapping paper off the box, toss the ribbons to the side, and tear open the box. Wouldn’t simply handing the kid the toy they wanted do the trick? I could smile and say “Happy Birthday”.

Apparently, wrapping the gift matters. From my research—outside of speaking with four-year-olds—I discovered that a wrapped box:

  • builds curiosity: “It’s a large box; what’s inside?”
  • increases anticipation: “Did she get me what I asked for?”
  • boosts the surprise element: “I wonder what this is?”
  • is something people prefer: “It would have been so much more fun to have a cutely wrapped box!”

Redressing the Egregious Error

My oldest grandson and I shopped for his little brother’s gift. We found the oversized PJ Masks toy easily. As we approached the checkout line, I saw wrapping paper and bows. “Better buy the wrapping equipment now so we can bring the gift home prepared.”

“Yup! But how will we wrap it before we get home?” N. wisely asked.

“In the car!” Then I realized I didn’t have scissors and tape in the car. “We’d better duck into the drugstore and get scissors and tape.” I figured it’s always helpful to have spare scissors and tape in the car. Never know when I’ll have to wrap another gift on the road!

Supplies in hand, we set to wrapping the gift. The Honda Civic seats were too small for us to wrap the gift in the back, so we opened the trunk.

“Bubbie, we’d better work fast. I think the weathermen were right for once; looks like rain any moment.”

We unrolled the paper and tried to straighten it out in the confined space. Giggling, we unevenly cut the paper. I placed a portion over the front of the box and taped down the paper. And then the drizzle started. We worked as quickly as we could, laughing about the absurdity of wrapping a gift in the parking lot, in the rain!

The effort paid off! We brought in the large box, covered in blue and silver paper, and topped with navy blue bows. Little brother greeted us wide-eyed and a with a large smile: “You bought me a present!”

Redeemed, at last!

**

Why do you wrap presents? Jump into the comments and let us know!

**

Resources:

http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/2008/12/04/the-psychology-behind-wrapping-1/

http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-we-wrap-presents

 

 

Artist’s Date

For my recent artist’s date, I visited CAFAM (Craft and Folk Art Museum) in Los Angeles. Although the museum has been in my backyard, I’d never visited. I hadn’t looked for special exhibits. I expected to typical crafts—painting, needlepoint, hand-made wooden items—nothing remarkable. Yet I thought colorful crafts would inspire me. And if not inspired, at least the technological cobwebs would clear.

“There’s a special exhibit on the third floor,” Ruby told me when I checked in.

“What’s it about?”

“Books. It’s called ‘Chapters’—all about books, printing, and how artists have used books other than to read them! Check it out!”

Books as art?

I hadn’t thought of that concept before. I headed up to the third floor to start the adventure.

Wow! What creative ideas!

  • A multi-colored tunnel book
  • One artist had used surgical scalpels to transform an entire book into a paper cut
  • Newspapers used as the “canvas” for colorful prints
  • Books made out of cloth and other media

Pièce de Résistance

Or the piece that I couldn’t resist! I found three hands-on editing activities on the first floor!

  1. Altered Book: Tear a small piece from the book and save it. Previous patrons had made circular tears, ripped out corner pieces, and removed sections with jagged-edged tears. alter-the-book-instructions-cafam-022017altered-book-cafam-022017I tore a small corner.
  2. Book Board: Add a phrase; remove a phrase; use any color index card, or even draw a picture. Edit as you please! Freedom from style guides!book-board-instructions-cafam-022017 I inserted one of my favorite sayings on a bright pink card.book-board-cafam-022017
  3. Book to Edit: Cross out a word, phrase, a paragraph—whatever didn’t resonate with me. Whoa…no guidelines? W hat will the author think? Doesn’t matter—edit away! I felt uneasy at first. How could I edit someone’s work who hadn’t asked for my feedback? I read a few sentences on different pages. I settled on one long descriptive paragraph…and slashed away! Energizing!book-to-edit-instructions-cafam-022017 book-to-edit-cafam-022017

 

Editors, looking for a way to re-energize?

Writers, searching for inspiration? Check out @CraftAndFolk! (But soon–exhibit changes in May 2017.)

**

Photos (c) Sherri Leah Henkin 2017

I originally intended this blog to showcase my writing and how I could use the technique to grow. At times I described my life visions and the type of writing I wanted to focus on. All along, I focused on my craft.

In the past year, I learned more about the business of writing. Through online groups, classes, and webinars, I explored ways I could take the craft I love and help others. I’m jazzed when I create content people can use!

Enter a new direction: My business website, Content Clarified! There, I write, develop, build, and edit content.

Come visit Content Clarified. Check out my Services and stay connected!

**

I plan to continue posting on Growing the Write Way, staying true to the original idea—Musings about Growing through Writing. Thanks for traveling the road with me!

I just lit the candle to mark the beginning of my Dad’s second yahrzeit (anniversary of his passing). It’s just me and the candle. No distractions.

I feel pain, yet not as intensely as last year. I feel the loss more acutely now.

In the past year, I had several complex decisions to make. And I often thought, Where’s Dad? I need his counsel!

Not able to chat with him in life, I couldn’t figure out what he would have advised. Stuck. Unsure.

And then I remembered this: Take a piece of legal pad paper. Draw a line down the center. Write Pro on one side and Con on the other. Then make your list. As I wrote those words, I could almost hear Dad relaying those instructions.

The classic Pro and Con list helped. Trying to hear his voice comforted me.

**

We had happy times in the family during the past year. Dad wasn’t there. I missed sharing the events with him. Did he come in spirit? I believe he did. Yet I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t see his smile.

I could conjure up memories of him smiling at other milestones.

three-generations

Three Generations: Poppy, Grandson, and Great-Grandson

 

 

dad-and-noey

Poppy and Great-Grandson at School

 

The image of him dancing spiritedly with his grandson—my son—at the wedding came to mind.

Picturing the memory of the wedding dance comforted me.

**

On the yahrzeit, some of the observances of mourning are in effect. I won’t listen to music today or go to joyous events. I’ll draw on what I learned about simcha (joy) during the year of mourning: Feeling joyful comes from the inside. I can feel joy without the outside stimuli like music. Today, I’ll catch up on my spiritual studies and listen to classes, especially those with an upbeat tone.

And learning in Dad’s memory will comfort me.

**

L’ilui nishmas (for the elevation of the soul) Yoel Meir ben (son of) Simcha—Joel Sandleman, 26 Tevet 5777 (solar calendar date is January 17).

Photos ©Sherri Leah Henkin 2004-2017.

 

 

Painting Lesson #1

I wanted to paint without focusing on a specific subject or even color scheme. Glenna Rosansky thought I’d enjoy experimenting. First I learned leaf printing. I painted watercolor on the back of a leaf. Then pressed that side of the leaf on the cold press watercolor paper. I chose soft colors and contrasted with vibrant colors. To add some depth, I used an ink pen. I loved experimenting with the media, combining nature and man-made paint. I relaxed during the process, placing the leaves gently on the page. I enjoy looking at the colors, shapes, lines, and design.

 dec-2016-leaf-printing

Painting Lesson #2

In the following session, I learned two new techniques: Wet-on-wet and crinkled plastic wrap. For wet-on-wet, I sprayed water on the cold press paper and then dropped color on the water. Then waited and watched where the color went. I turned the page, and the water flowed down or sometimes to the side. The water didn’t always go in the direction I thought it would, or wanted it to.

Next I painted thick color on the paper. Of course I chose some of my favorite shades—purple, green, blue—and added some yellow for contrast. I crumpled a piece of plastic wrap and pressed the wrap on swabs of wet color. I discovered that I got different designs if I pressed with my fingers than when I pressed with my knuckles or side of my fist. And then I could use the remaining paint on the plastic wrap to print a light design on the paper. There’s not a right way or a wrong way; there’s not one way to do this technique.

jan-2017-wetonwet-plastic-wrap

What I Learned from Painting

My day sometimes turns out like my paintings. I have a schedule that I plan to follow. But something comes up that I don’t expect and I change direction. The day may not turn out like I expected, with all my action items checked off. Yet I can still look back and see that I was productive and the day was beautiful.

There’s not a right way or wrong way to create the action plan for the day. Try one process to create an action plan. Relax with the process. Be open to opportunities of learning new techniques.

How do you create your action plan or schedule? Share your process in the comments!

**

Paintings (c) Sherri Leah Henkin 2016, 2017

 

 

While in Israel, I needed two adapters for my American chargers. I knew what the adapter looked like but didn’t know the term in Hebrew. My cousin suggested that I might find the adapters in the local hardware store.

I easily located the store a couple blocks from my temporary Jerusalem home. I couldn’t translate the information on sign. The window display of light bulbs, hammers, and extension cords gave me clues that I’d found the store!

The customers waiting at the counter blocked the entrance. I waited semi-patiently until there was an opening in the crowd.

In my limited Hebrew, I asked the cashier if he spoke English.

Lo.” (“No”)

Uh, oh. How do I ask for this now?

Visuals to the rescue!

On the counter, I saw an appliance that had a plug similar to my charger. Using my stilted Hebrew, I pointed to the plug. Slowly I explained that I have something from America that has a plug and want to use it in Israel. Where is something I can use with this plug?

Sham, b’mageivot,” and he pointed in a general direction down the aisle.

I’m grateful the cashier pointed, because that was all I initially understood. As I walked down the aisle, I repeated his instructions. I knew that sham meant “there”. OK. I wracked my brain’s RAM and figured out that mageivot meant “drawers”. Progress!

Down the aisle I found drawers—lots of them—and all neatly labelled…in Hebrew!

My ability to read Hebrew is slower than my conversational ability. Methodically, I read some labels to figure out the system: From Location Name (such as Europe) to Israel. Finally, I found the drawer for America. Success! I pulled out two of these precious adapters. I clutched them as if they were my trophy for winning a marathon!

 

After I paid for my trophies, I asked the cashier, in Hebrew, “How do you say this item in Hebrew?”adapter

“Ahdaptor!”

 I learned a new word!

charger-and-adapter