Happy Anniversary to my blog! You’re eight years old!

When I began blogging in 2009, I had just embarked on a new career path. “Life’s transitions and challenges allow opportunities for personal and professional development” (About page). “Throughout my transitions, I learn and grow. And my writing reflects my travel experiences…” (see my initial post) and I set out to record those travel experiences and transitions.

Over the past eight years, I transitioned several times, often travelling paths I didn’t expect. Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” remains my theme poem; my path was the one less traveled by. In all cases, though, I grew from the experience. And I recorded my experiences and growth, either here, in off-line files, or in published articles. I continue to encourage, empower, and inspire others…and be inspired!

For the creative non-fiction I’ve recorded here, roads diverge again. Do I continue recording on the blog or elsewhere? I choose the more challenging road—that of Published Articles. Although that’s an often-traveled road, it’s a new/developing path for me. And I’m sure that path will make all the difference!

Parting Gift—Multi-Media Collage

My art mentor, Glenna Rosansky, decided it was time to create a collage. I usually create collages from cutout shapes, words, or stickers. That’s not what Glenna had in mind. To warm up, we looked at examples of painted string art, rice paper and torn paper collages. We talked about cool and warm colors.

As Glenna read from Nita Leland’s The New Creative Artist, I picked up a small wide brush and daintily dipped it into a small pool of yellow on my palette. “Creativity is a journey of self-discovery.” I added orange and more water to the yellow and painted broad strokes across the page. “What do I most love to do?” Do joyful activities! I chose bright, sunny, joyful colors.

“When the artist is alive in any person…he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature.” (Robert Henri, The Art Spirit.) I experimented with craft scissors and delicate paper doilies. The shiny gold crinkle paper added depth to the white doily. But where was the purple I usually use? I found some wooden popsicle sticks with abstract purple and blue shapes. I glued the sticks haphazardly to the paper. I pressed the plastic teeth of a comb on the thick green paint to create a windy movement.

I wanted to open the pipes to creativity and blessing, and clear the blockage. I leave you, my readers, with this gift. Continue to write–and paint–about transitions and challenges. It’s all good!

Multi-Media Collage, (c) Sherri Leah Henkin, July 2017

Multi-Media Collage, (c) Sherri Leah Henkin, July 2017

 

 

Workshops, presentations, and networking filled my days at the STC Summit. I learned from the best in the field. During early morning breakfast gatherings, I met with colleagues. We used lunch time for SIG meetings or to take part in Speed Networking. In the ever-present Exhibition Hall, I learned about software applications and upcoming events. STC even filled our early evenings with business meetings and an award ceremony.

Constant activity and noise. Sometimes I felt saturated with information. I needed quiet. Where could I go to relax and think through the insightful material?

There was my hotel room. Somehow the room wasn’t conducive to letting my mind wander. That’s it! I wanted a venue where I could just be; simply let my mind wander through the recordings inside my head of the enlightening sessions I’d heard.

But where?

Late one afternoon, I headed down toward the National Harbor boardwalk. 20170508_172812-National HarborAlthough a river cruise sounded lovely, I knew there would be a band and more noise. That wouldn’t work.

As I got closer to the water’s edge, I spotted a small white wooden boat.

Water Taxi

“Where does the Water Taxi go?” I asked the cashier at the pay station.

“Alexandria, Virginia.”

“What’s there to do?”

“At this hour, mostly check out the eateries.”

Hmm…not what I had in mind…that would be more noise. “Could I just ride without getting off in Alexandria?”

“Of course! The Taxi’s leaving soon; wanna buy a ticket?”

I happily handed over my cash and boarded the Water Taxi.

The Water Taxi glided along the Potomac. We passed dark green forested areas and small white houses.

Greenery and White House

Closer to Alexandria, we viewed the urban center along the water’s edge. This SoCal Gal wasn’t dressed for Spring in DC, which was a lot colder than in LA! I chose the cushioned seat inside the heated cabin. I relaxed and watched the video about the city’s history and tourist attractions. Other than a few hushed conversations and the video, I had a quiet ride. The sunlight over the Potomac changed slowly to dull yellow and orange.

After we passed under the highway bridge, I spotted Old Town Alexandria.

20170508_183707-old town alexandria

The Water Taxi slowed as it neared the shore. I excitedly watched one of the crew jump onto the dock. From my camp experiences, I knew what was next: tying the boat to the piling. Once secure, the crew lowered the gangplank and some of the passengers disembarked.

I walked to the cabin door and checked the outside temperature before I left the warm cabin. Funny. We weren’t all that far from our point in the National Harbor yet the wind had subsided. Weather in Old Town Alexandria was warm with a light breeze. I strolled onto the deck to enjoy the fresh air and scenery: more greenery and wood-planked walkways lined the area. Behind the Water Taxi was a paddleboat, fresh out of a Mark Twain novel! From another side, I saw a floating wooden gazebo next to docked boats—perhaps a gathering place for the boat owners? 

Picturesque and peaceful.

I spent the return trip on a deck seat and enjoyed the scenery without a window barrier. The gentle gliding motion of the Water Taxi soothed me. The lapping sound of water against the boat reminded me of earlier times when I’d sailed or canoed. I smiled at the memories.

After I returned to the hotel, I realized I hadn’t thought about the workshop material. Yet I did notice less noise in my head. This Water Taxi ride readied me for another day of learning and hob-knobbing with my fellows!

 

The Back Story

In May 2017, I attended the STC Summit. I expected the keynote speaker to focus business relationships. Seth Mattison’s content surprised me. Yes, he covered business relationships. Yet I heard tips about personal relationships. Seth targeted the key to building relationships: Clear, honest communication. With a prerequisite: Activate a mindset, actually three mindsets.

Vintage Telephones

Vintage Telephone, Pixabay: Alles

The Mindsets

Be Intentional

  • I want this relationship.
  • I want to communicate clearly.
  • I want to support this person.

Be Interested

  • Ask open-ended questions so you can learn about the person.
    • Seth’s example: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
  • Listen to the answers.
  • Repeat ask/listen; dialog grows.

    Man Standing on Stones

    Pixabay: jingoba

Be Present

  • “Be where your feet are.” (Seth Mattison)
  • Get away from devices and other distractions.
  • Focus on this conversation.

How do we snap into these mindsets?

  • Deep breath in
  • Slowly exhale
  • Focus

Before each conversation, I try and ask myself:

  • How can I be intentional, show interest, and be present?
  • How can I help shine this person’s light?*

*“Everyone shines given the right lighting. You want to be the guide for the right lighting.” (Susan Cain, Quiet Revolution.)

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!