Thursday, October 31, 2013

BLOGTOBERFEST13 (Day 31): Embracing HOPE as a strategy for conserving the environment

HOPE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS. As a visionary artist, I dwell in HOPE. (art by Hallelujah Truth inspired by photo by Jenifer Hilburn, St. Catherines Island, Georgia)
Hallelujah for HOPE! Hallelujah for CONSERVATION BIOLOGISTS who are asking scientists and the general public to embrace HOPE as a strategy for conserving our beautiful EARTH!

Many of you who have been following my blog, know that I am collaborating with Jenifer Hilburn, an ornithologist working on St. Catherines Island, Georgia, on the story of the American oystercatcher's life-cycle in word and image (see this blog and check out others from this month). In our collaboration, Jen is kind enough to feed me important articles to shape my thinking for my artwork. 

One article that I read yesterday is coinciding with the final image I am making of the American oystercatcher hatching from its egg in the first part of the series of the oystercatcher's life. Therefore, for today's last blog entry for October, I am combining the concept of HOPE from the article, subject matter from Jen's photo, and my resulting artwork (see the photo at the top).

The article that has impacted me so much is entitled: "The Culture of Conservation Biologists: Show Me the Hope!" Published in the September 2010 issue of BioScience, the authors, Ronald R. Swaisgood and James K. Sheppard, are conservation biologists affiliated with the San Diego Zoo. In the abstract of their paper they wrote: 

"We advocate for the establishment of professional rituals that force us to regularly confront despair and seek out the positive, even when things take a turn for the worse." 

Hallelujah Ronald and James for the courage you display in proclaiming a new way to understand and disseminate the dire news that you conservationist biologists determine from your collection of data.  Let me share some key phrases and concepts from this remarkable paper.

"If we wish to do more than complain and whimper about the current state of affairs, we will need to (re-)learn that our actions do make a difference: We turned on the shock, we can turn it back off."
HOPE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS. Does Jenifer Hilburn, an ornithologist who does conservation work with the American oystercatcher have HOPE for this species survival? This is a question I want her to answer. All of us need to have more conversations with the conservation biologists like Jen who are working in sustaining populations of declining species. (photo by Jenifer Hilburn, St. Catherines Island, Georgia)

HOPE (Art by Hallelujah Truth 2009)
"If conservation biologists are pessimists, who, then, will inspire the masses to follow us in our endeavor to save nature from humanity."

The authors quote Steve Amstrup, the US Geological Survey senior scientist in the polar bear program, who woke up one night realizing that his research information released to the public concerning the declining populations of the polar bears would result in the publics' NONACTION. He realized that as everyone accepted the research results to mean that the polar bears would disappear from the Earth, they wouldn't do anything to help change the situation. Here is a line from email he wrote his colleagues alerting them to this undesirable outcome: 

"I am also sure that if the general public thinks nothing can be done, THEN NOTHING WILL BE DONE!"

AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER DREAMING. I envision all of us--animal, human, plant--dreaming of healing the Earth that we are part of. Let all of us dream of a future in which we enliven ourselves, make our lives sustainable and extend that understanding to the Earth's sustainability. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)


The authors of this paper on hope go on to propose the following rituals be set up amongst conservation biologists to provide a "structured" practice for hope!:

  • Presentations at professional conferences might consider including a "field of hope."
  • Special symposia and workshops at conferences could focus on hope.
  • Journals might ask authors to address the issue of hope as a regular section in their papers.
  • Conservation biologists need to remember to spend time in nature away from their desks to nurture hope.
  • Scientists could write hope blogs and hope press releases.
  • Support citizen scientists
Swaisgood and Sheppard conclude their article about hope by asking the question: "WHAT IS THE ALTERNATIVE?"

Indeed, what is the alternative to HOPE my dear readers? Despair? Pessimism? Let's all HOPE for the best and take actions to change the things we can. Learned helplessness is not the place I want to stay. How about you?

That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me. Share your hope for the conservation of our Earth and what actions you are willing to take make a difference!

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thank you to Michelle who hosted Blogtoberfest13. Without your willing to captain the month of writing a blog every day and pushing the publish button, I would not have succeeded in doing so. I also want to thank profusely Jenifer Hilburn, who is my scientific muse, inspiring me with her passion for the American oystercatcher and all of the wildlife on her Georgia barrier island of St. Catherines. Jen, you have filled both my heart and mind with stories, images, kayak trips to see the American oystercatcher, Skyping meetings, phone calls, emails, and scholarly articles. Most of all, you have made me laugh with your buoyant enthusiasm for spreading the word. What you know, I now know in part because you have HOPE! Of course, thanks go to the authors of the article, "The Culture of Conservation Biologists: Show Me the Hope!," Ronald R. Swaisgood and James K. Sheppard. What a thoughtful and well written article--I got your message!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

BLOGTOBERFEST13 (Day 30): Garrison Keillor charms the audience with his improvised talk and recitatation of poetry

WAITING FOR GARRISON KEILLOR. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for poetry and those that value it! Hallelujah for Garrison Keillor, who just published his first poetry book, O What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound, and came to talk us Decaturites about it at Agnes Scott College on Tuesday, October 29, 2013.

To many in the United States, Garrison Keillor is a household name because of his radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, which has aired on public radio for nearly four decades. Most Americans love him! My Chiboogamoo (aka Tony Martin) and I certainly do! Therefore, when we heard he was going to be reading his new book at the charming women's college literally a 3-minute drive down the road from where we live, we went and were extremely entertained.

Garrison Keillor gave us many surprises. The very first one was that he did not take his place at the podium. Instead, after being introduced, he strolled across the stage, got the microphone, and ambled in his red tennis shoes down the stairs. Joining the audience, he said he wanted to sing with us.

And he did! Beginning with "America, the Beautiful," he went on to sing an old time spiritual, and then to the Beatles song, "When I Saw You Standing There." Everyone sang! 

As he wooed the audience progressing from a patriotic song, to a religious one, to a popular tune, he was strolling up one aisle of the audience, back to the front of the stage and then up the other aisle. 
GARRISON KEILLOR STROLLING DOWN THE AISLE. We just loved being in close proximity with the man we had heard on A Prairie Home Companion for so many years. Tony Martin's profile is shown here in the very left of this photo. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

Occasionally, he stopped and looked down at audience members, and they looked up adoringly at him. Some held up their I-phones illuminating him with golden light as they took his picture. He would continue to sing and look at people maintaining a connection not appearing to notice the flashes from being photographed.

He spent nearly the entire hour on the floor of the auditorium with us. Talking to us off the top of his head, neither a prepared speech nor the book he was promoting in his hands. Instead, he wove a spontaneous magical web around us as he wandered back and forth from one side to the other.

He spoke about the importance of poetry in our lives--that it matters. He demonstrated by reciting entire poems, explaining how words with meter and rhyme stay with us long after we have forgotten algebra (Sounds like an English major--doesn't he?). As he explored different styles of poetry, he entangled it with his biography, exploring what he had wanted to write and how he had wanted to appear as a young man. 

He explained that he came from a happy family and that he too was happy which had conflicted with an early ambition to be a young serious and tragic writer. He realized by the time he was forty it was too late to become one! 

The poetry that Garrison Keillor has written at 71 (O What a Luxury was just published at the beginning of this month) is in fact all that his subtitle promises: lyrical, vulgar, pathetic, and profound. And, you can tell, he had fun writing it. And he told us that was the goal!

At the end of the hour, Garrison Keillor climbed back on stage to read poems from his book. He already recited some during his meanderings among the audience, but he had few more he wanted to read from papers up on the podium. And when he finished, the evening continued.

With microphone in hand once again, he returned to the floor of the auditorium and took questions from the audience. The crowd was thrilled. During the Q & A, he confessed that he had not prepared an outline for this talk, nor written anything down. Yes, it was awesome to be in the presence of a man so brilliant, witty, naughty, compassionate, and entertaining.

When one young lady asked to sing a song with him, he agreed to as long as she chose a song the audience could sing along with them. So our evening with Garrison Keillor ended in the same way it had started, with a song. Here is a short video of the first verse.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Joe Davich, Director of the Georgia Center for the Book, for bringing us Garrison Keillor and other notable authors such as Bill Bryson, Temple Grandin, and Anthony J. Martin.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

BLOGTOBERFEST13 (Day 29): Feeling the linearity of my being asked to come forth from the egg

WHEN DOES STOP MEAN STOP? This was the first image that spoke to me today about LINEARITY. I saw that I have some choices to make. The "stop" I've been feeling lately has more than likely been an illusion. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
-->Hallelujah for SHAPES—all of them! Hallelujah for CIRCLES, SQUARES, TRIANGLES, and today, I am paying especial attention to the LINE!
LINES MOVING SIDEWAYS, UPWAYS, and ALONGWAYS. This photo was taken at the East Lake MARTA station this morning. I was delighted to see a crew of MARTA employees adding a new coat of white paint. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
I don’t know if I am feeling vertical or horizontal. I do know that as I moved out in my day, all I seemed to see was space opening out in a LINEAR fashion. Everywhere I looked around me, LINES were moving sideways, upways, and alongways!

Diving into the meaning of the LINE with a deep vertical plunge—what symbolic import might these perceptions of LINEARITY mean?

I want to rule out SEQUENTIAL TIME.  I am not experiencing my day’s narrative as that of an invisible hand of a clock, going TICK TICK TICK. Instead, I feel a sudden but slightly inaudible call to COME FORTH.

What the HALLELUJAH does it mean to COME FORTH?

FIVE POINTS MARTA STATION. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Well, if you have been following my blog, you already know that I have created a major TRANSFORMATION in my life by leaving my job of 20 years, taking time off from my participation in the Artist Conference Network, stopping my Spiritual Art Pilgrims group, and been opting to move to my imaginary Albuquerque.
 
GO FORTH! In this Atlanta scene leaving the Five Points MARTA station, I see lines calling me forth everywhere. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

At the same time, I have been collaborating with Jenifer Hilburn, ornithologist from St. Catherines Island, Georgia, on telling the story of the American oystercatcher’s life cycle through image (me) and story (Jen). I have yet in my cycle of drawings to truly emerge from the EGG.

But because today, I am in a LINEAR kind of BEING, I am thinking that it is time to COME FORTH from the EGG. This emergence is important in two ways:

      (1)For Jen and me to complete the first step of our collaboration, I need to get our baby American oystercatchers out and away from their egg shells and on to eating, walking, running, and being an Oystercatcher.

    (2)For my imaginary move to Albuquerque to manifest according to my desired intentions (see this blog), I need to get out of the planning stages and into action (OUT OF THE EGGSHELL). In a LINEAR fashion, I need to attend and develop the “business” plan that I am creating with the help of the C4 Atlanta Ignite program in order to nurture and grow all of the marvelous projects I am engaged with.
 
So what does one do when called to COME FORTH in a LINEAR fashion sideways, upways, and alongways? My answer?

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

That’s Coffee with Hallelujah. SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what shape you are feeling in today! Why!What do you think of my LINEARITY?
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS! I'm inviting any of my friends who would like to spend time with me BEING LINEAR to give me a call. (photo by Hallelujah Truth) 
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:  Thanks to the BODY WISDOM of InterPlay, I am more aware of shapes having meaning in my life and being attentive to what I am experiencing. Thanks to the "Secrets of InterPlay" that I just participated in this past weekend, I am noticing more. My world just got wider and more open!


Monday, October 28, 2013

BLOGTOBERFEST13 (Day 28) Celebrating my husband and fossil bird tracks from 105 million years ago

HURRAY FOR TONY MARTIN! You did it honey! Congratulations on your perseverance, optimism, and love for what you study. You have made a significant contribution. And you also know how to collaborate with other scientists, as well as engage others in what you know and do! Hurray! (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
Hallelujah for LIFE! Hallelujah for those who can document life from so long ago that they challenge us to use our IMAGINATIONS!

Today I am celebrating my husband, Tony Martin, a paleontologist who specializes in ichnology! He interprets behavior (LIFE) from the fossil record of such forms as tracks, trails, burrows, etc., and in doing so, has expanded my way of thinking about the EARTH and the rich sediments that preserve information from millions of years ago.

Today, we celebrated Tony and fossil bird tracks for the following reasons:
 
A BIRD LANDING TRACE. There is beauty in this mark from 105 million years ago. It almost looks like a Chinese character. And you know what? I am married to a man who can interpret it! He reads fossil traces like most of us read or study crossword puzzles. (photo by Tony Martin)

1) Research that he had been working on for almost two years about the discovery and identification of the oldest bird tracks in the Southern Hemisphere was published in the U.K. on Friday. Here is the academic information about it (in case you were curious):
 
Martin, A.J., Vickers-Rich, P., Rich, T.H., and Hall, M. 2013. Oldest known avian footprints from Australia: Eumeralla Formation (Albian), Dinosaur Cove, Victoria. Palaeontology (published online October 25, 2013): DOI: 10.1111/pala.12082

2) This research was announced on Saturday in Australia in a charming radio broadcast:

ABC Science Show, October 26, 2013: “Fossilised Dino Bird Tracks 105 Million Years Old,” reported by Sharon Carleton.

3) Then the story of the discovery and identification was released in the United States today through Emory University, where he is employed.

Emory University Press Release (Eukekalert): “Tell-tale toes point to oldest-known fossil bird tracks from Australia.” (By Carol Clark, Emory University)

My dear husband also draws! And in this illustration, he combines both his modern experience from observing large shorebirds land on the beach along the Georgia coast and his imagination of what this large Cretaceous bird must have looked like landing so many millions of years ago.
A BIRD LANDING, LEAVING A TRACE. (illustration by Tony Martin)
So tonight we went to one of our favorite beer establishments in Decatur, the Brick Store Pub, and invited friends to join us for a pint to mark this moment in time for him. Here is a short video we made of this lovely ichnologist:


That's Coffee with Hallelujah. SOUL BLOG with me. Tell me about your husband, wife, child, friend, who you are proud of and are celebrating! Or go visit Tony's website, Life Traces of the Georgia Coast, to read what he had to say about his research finally getting published! In "Life Traces of the Victoria Coast: Australia's Oldest Bird Tracks", he tells a good story! I know you will enjoy reading it. 
DINOSAUR COVE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA. Here we are in 2010 at the site where the fossil bird tracks were found a few months later in November. My beloved husband, Tony Martin, me, Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter, are posing with Tom Rich, Australian paleontologist extraordinaire. In terms of geological time, the years that it took to identify the fossil birds as the oldest ones is Australia is nothing, not even a partial breath! Congratulations Tony and all who collaborated with you!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

BLOGTOBERFEST13 (Day 27): Just what is InterPlay? And subsequently--Secrets of InterPlay?

SECRETS ON SUNDAY MORNING (October 27, 2013) Here Cynthia Winton-Henry has us partnered to tell stories about our use of "incrementality." (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for InterPlay! Hallelujah for playing with community and discovering others in ways that are light and curious.

"What is InterPlay?" you might ask. That's a wonderful question! Why not find out for yourself in this way! 

First, you can visit the national InterPlay website! Look at the photos, move around on the site and read about events. Here in Atlanta, you can go to the Atlanta InterPlay Facebook page.

Then you might want to check out this book: What the Body Wants, written by the co-founders of InterPlay, Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter. You will discover some of the basics about InterPlay and read some really good personal stories about individuals transformative experiences through InterPlay.

But you know what is the really truly exciting way to find out about InterPlay? Go to an InterPlay session in your city. Bring a friend. You will not be disappointed.

WALKING, RUNNING, BEING STILL (October 27, 2013) Playing around with what our body wants.  (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
It is Sunday evening after I have participated in four continuous days of "Secrets of InterPlay" here in the Atlanta area. I am happily tired after playing for four days and going deeper into the mystery of my BEING

I am feeling fulfilled in so many ways...

In one way, I had a physical manifestation of one my repeated mantras in my drawings, "WE ARE NOT ALONE." For these four days, my SPIRIT inhabited a real space with my body and other physical bodies along with their present generous SPIRITS. We played.

In another deeply satisfying way, I had a dream fulfilled. Beginning in January of this year, I learned about InterPlay when researching information about improvisation to use in my ESL classroom at Georgia Tech. All of InterPlay seemed so fantastic and alien-like--out of reach for me.

But then from the national InterPlay website, I found two Atlanta InterPlay contacts. It took me a while to decide to contact one of them, but when I did, the response was immediate. Jennifer Denning and I met for coffee the next week, and before I knew it, I was attending monthly InterPlay playshops.

Meanwhile I was reading three books related to InterPlay: 

What the Body Wants (2012)(mentioned above)
Dance: The Sacred Art, Cynthia Winton-Henry (2009)
Chasing the Dance of Life: A Faith Journey (2009)

Therefore, I began to feel like I had gotten to know Cynthia more than a little through her journey, her writing, and through the subject matter that she wrote about. I began to own and embody the wisdom I found in her writing because it so clearly resonated with my experiences,  expanded and deepened them, and provided me with a language to begin dialoging about my life's journey. 

So when I got to meet Cynthia here in Atlanta and spend four days in "Secrets of InterPlay" with her, it was a dreamy magical "YES" to other incremental YESes! Thank you Cynthia! Thank you Jennifer Denning for getting Cynthia here in Atlanta.

And to find the answer to "What is Secrets of InterPlay," I guess you will just have to attend a session!
YES! (October 27, 2013) Before Cynthia left Atlanta, I got a chance to pose with her and thank her for all she has given me! I will keep remembering to say "YES" to what it is I need. Try saying "YES" to what your whole self needs and see if you can manifest a Cynthia Winton-Henry or whatever it is your SOUL is calling forth.  (photo by Jennifer Denning)

That's Coffee with Hallelujah. SOUL BLOG with me. Tell me what you think of InterPlay and take a look at the book performance of Sheila K. Collin's book, Warrior Mother, from this video that Cynthia Winton-Henry put together.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

BLOGTOBERFEST13 (Day 26): Experiencing a book performance the InterPlay way

HAND DANCING. Christine Gautreaux and I performed a hand dance with other audience members after Sheila Collins read from her book, Warrior Mother. (photo by Tony Martin)
SHEILA COLLINS. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)  
Hallelujah for novel ways of presenting books! Hallelujah for Sheila K. Collins and her creative way of using InterPlay to engage audience members in the reading of her new book, Warrior Mother: Fierce Love, Unbearable Loss, and Rituals that Heal.

Sheila read passages from her book, which is about how she helped her adult son and daughter manage their deaths through her love and use of ritual. 

After each passage reading, she invited audience members to dance, guiding us in ways to express our own stories or to help her tell hers. It was profound to participate communally in the story telling of her son's death from AIDS and her daughter's from breast cancer. And at the same time be connected to our lives as adult children or as parents of adult children.

HAND DANCERS. We started off dancing with one hand only with a parter. Then as the dance developed, we were invited to use the other hand and whatever movement we felt like doing. (photo by Tony Martin)

THE BOW. How fun to get to take a bow after performing. (photo by Tony Martin)

CHEERLEADING SUPPORT. In this dance, we followed Sheila's movements while she told her story. Talk about walking a mile in someone else's shoes! We danced in them! (photo by Tony Martin)
These photos show me performing in two dances, but there were three or four more that other audience members danced, and I watched! It was wonderful being a witness!

Consider getting Sheila's book, Warrior Mother. It is well worth your time. And when you are finished, invite Sheila to your city to do a book performance!

That's Coffee with Hallelujah. SOUL BLOG with me and tell me if you have had a similar experience with an author presenting her book. Or would you like to have this experience?

Friday, October 25, 2013

BLOGTOBERFEST13 (Day 25): Hatching of an American oystercatcher symbolizing my current state of affairs

RESTING AFTER HATCHING. (art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for the life-cycle of the American oystercatcher! Hallelujah for the process of drawing and creating images from the real life of this beautiful shorebird and allowing for it to speak to me symbolically during my meditative drawing.

Here is the photograph that Jen Hilburn, ornithologist from St. Catherines Island, Georgia sent me:
RESTING AFTER HATCHING. (photo by Jenifer Hilburn)
What have I processed during my meditative drawing? Many thoughts pass through my mind and I watch them like hot air balloons as they arise beyond me to linger over the table where I am working:

New life is vulnerable...
...this frailty needs support...
...this protection must instruct...
...being prepared for independence is essential...
...all living creatures must be able to stand alone...

REALLY? Must we be independent?

I know this is a basic principle of life. Creatures must manage certain aspects of life singularly. Remind me about what those things are....

But, ideally, within the life-cycle of our lives, we develop and manage an interdependence with at least one other creature. I like to think that we function well "leaning lightly" on one another.

RESTING AFTER HATCHING 2. (art by Hallelujah Truth)
Of course, these thoughts are coming to me as I work at my table drawing the hatchling American oystercatcher because, I too, am hatching. Having left the egg, a warm cocoon, of my employment as an English as a Second Language teacher, I am vulnerable. How will I manage to regain my financial independence? Feeling fragile, I do lean on my husband and friends for support, instruction and look for ways that I can mutually support them.

I look forward to moving on in my drawings. Watching the hatchlings learn to eat, fly, and be, yes, independent as the fledge. Symbolism is the language of my SOUL.

How about yours?

That's Coffee with Hallelujah. SOUL BLOG with me and tell me about your newest hatching into something. What is your vulnerability?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

BLOGTOBERFEST13 (Day 24): Mark Nepo and Lisa Alexander Streib collide in my life

LOOKING INTO TWILGHT. Is aging a minus or a plus? As we gather years, looking into the twilight, are we diminished or enriched? Does the result depend on the attitude we take and the fears we confront? (model, Hallelujah Truth, and photo by Lisa Alexander Streib)
Hallelujah for the mix of emotions, for the fears, the courage, the confusion and certainty that wax and wane in my life.  Mark Nepo quotes Melody Beattie in his thought for the day entitled "Weakness":

Our strength will continue if we allow ourselves
the courage to feel scared, weak, and vulnerable.

--from The Book of Awakening

Nepo encourages us to embrace and experience the variety of emotions that enter our lives. He says that "these things make us rich, not weak--if we are willing to face them squarely." It is by doing so that we can situate ourselves in our AUTHENTICITY.
GEORGIA O'KEEFE

Being in the prime of my life at 55, without children and between careers, I find myself feeling vulnerable--in a curious place INBETWEEN "this" and "that." 

On Sunday, Lisa Streib, a photographer friend of mine (see yesterday's blog) encouraged me to "pose" for her in Oakland Cemetery here in Atlanta. We talked of Georgia O'Keefe and the various unbeautiful photos that she allowed to be taken of her over the course of her lifetime.

 Aging makes me feel vulnerable. Gaining years, weight, and wrinkles cause me to feel less confident. How do I embrace these culturally "perceived" negatives and transform them into self acceptance?

Allowing Lisa to photograph me is one way. The images she took of me are honest. They make me honestly look at myself heading into the "twilight" of my life. Mark Nepo ends his meditation on weakness this way:

"I am humbled to admit that the only difference I see on Earth between being strong or weak is the honesty with which we face ourselves, accepts ourselves, and share ourselves, blemishes and all."

That's Coffee with Hallelujah. SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what fears you are embracing squarely.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

BLOGTOBERFEST13 (Day 23): Atlanta along the East West MARTA line and portraits of two women

MARTA VIEW OF ATLANTA. I will treasure infinitely the exclamation of one Atlanta teenager riding MARTA one fine day like this. As our train pulled away from the Georgia State station, she stood up and waved her hand over the Atlanta horizon saying, "THIS IS MY CITY"! My life immediately was heightened. Now, every time, I pass this part of the commute from my home in Decatur to Midtown, I whisper to myself, "THIS IS MY CITY." (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for tales of cities of those of us who live among the multitudes! Who are we in the vastness of time and space? How do our individual lives figure in a city of more than five million?

I have grown to love my city of Atlanta, especially after thinking I was moving to Albuquerque this past spring. I did not move. I stayed in Atlanta. Now, I am claiming this city as mine! How engaging it is when viewed with leisure from our public transportation system.
FIVE POINTS MARTA STATION. Often the skyline of Atlanta takes my breath away. It has character and beauty. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
FIVE POINTS MARTA STATION EAST LINE. Waiting for the long train, Indian Creek, takes between 10 and 15 minutes. Recently the digital boards which used to announce the time of the upcoming trains went "dark" in the stations, at least the ones I have been using. Why? There is no explanation of when this basic service will return. Why can't a large metropolitan city like Atlanta have working marquees for train arrivals? (photo by Hallelujah Truth)


The MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) is far from perfect. For this reason, it is not used by everyone in Atlanta. It has often derogatorily been called a "poor people mover" because those without alternative transportation means must use it presumably while those with cars drive.


I use MARTA regularly when I go downtown and find it a mixed bag--fascinating for people watching, less stressful than driving, but frustrating because of delays and unexplained, indefinite wait times.


I adore the view out the windows! For a girl who grew up on military bases and spent a portion of my life in the small university town of Auburn, Alabama, I continue to find this busy and burgeoning city an enigma. It is incomprehensible while being open and inviting. Atlanta is a dauntingly big welcoming city.
MARTA STATION LEAVING GEORGIA STATE. Looking south away from downtown Atlanta gives one the view down the interstate and a glimpse of the golden domed capitol building. Looking north out the other side of the train will give you the view in the first photo of this blog. However, this image was taken on an overcast day as opposed to the gorgeous sunny day in the other. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
 
There are many places along the MARTA east/west line with character. Like this scene below.
CONTINUING EAST ON MARTA FROM GEORGIA STATE. Along part of the east line from the Georgia State station to Eastlake where I get off has former industrial sites and train car storage places. So much of this area of Atlanta has been getting reclaimed or used for films, including the next segment of the Hunger Games by author .... (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
In this city are personalities, creative people looking at the city and photographing it and its inhabitants (including me). One of those creative people is Lisa Alexander Streib, a woman I met almost four years ago. Here she is. Take a look.
INTRODUCING LISA ALEXANDER STREIB, PHOTOGRAPHER. Meet my friend Lisa Streib and check out some of her touch up work at her website Streibwerks. I had to include here various photos she has created for her Facebook profile page at different times of the year. This photo appeared around Halloween. (photo by Lisa Streib)

GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING. Isn't she lovely? This Facebook profile page coincided with the High Museum's exhibit of Vermeer's painting this past summer. Clever, clever, Lisa!  (photo by Lisa Streib)
BLUE AUGUST MOON. This photo was on Lisa's Facebook page during August's amazing full moon 2013--it was called the blue August moon. (photo by Lisa Streib)
Lisa has been asking me for a while if I would be a photographic subject for her. In many ways, I thought she was kidding. Her requests seemed to me kind offerings meant to make me smile and feel better about myself. 

Well, since I am an EGG BABY at the CROSSROADS of my life, I finally said, "YES" to her most recent request to photograph me after we had lunch together. She really wanted to "shoot" me (ha ha). So this past Sunday, we went to the Oakland Cemetery here in Atlanta, a site which can be seen from the east/west line of the MARTA train (I have failed to represent it here in a photograph. Forgive me).

We Atlantans fit into this vast landscape. This is who we are. This is our city. Below is the first image that Lisa sent me from our adventures a few days ago stopping and posing alongside the mausoleums in Oakland Cemetery.
"RUTH." First of many photos of me--perhaps!  (photo by Lisa Streib)
That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what you think about our portraits, do they tell anything about the city we live in? Who we are? The age in which we live? What more do you know after seeing these images?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

BLOGTOBERFEST13 (Day 22) A nest of American oystercatcher eggs

A NEST OF POSSIBILITIES! (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for SYMBOLS! Hallelujah for LIFE! Hallelujah for finding symbols that signify or mark what you find important in your life!

As many of my readers already know, I am blogging every day of October and working towards depicting the life-cycle of the American oystercatcher in images while collaborating with ornithologist Jenifer Hilburn, who works on St. Catherines Island, Georgia, and is telling this shorebird's story in words.

At the same time as I draw these birds, I am also generating "new" symbols to express what is going on in my life as a 55-year-old who has left her teaching job of twenty years and is bounding toward something altogether different  for  a  career. 

Therefore, while this image represents several important "ideas" specifically about young, hatching American oystercatchers, it also represents MOI!

But first, what does this image succeed in communicating about the real-life bird? 

1. Pattern on the egg shell
2. Beak with "egg tooth"
3. Eye size
4. Overall "goofiness" of the young bird
5. Wet feathers in the process of drying
6. Helplessness/vulnerability
7. American oystercatchers can lay up to four eggs

Then how does this image represent me?

1.  The configuration of the eggs in a "cross" pattern denotes a "crossroads" of sorts. At the center of the crossroads is infinity of possibilities (see the additional eggs there at the center). North, South, East, and West are represented.  I am at that delightful place of going in any direction I choose. Something is both inviting and daunting. 

2. Cracking out of an old way of being (more than 20 years of teaching) is exhausting. I am tired, vulnerable and feeling entirely goofy.

3. The all-seeing eye is watching, looking beyond the present and past physical reality. This is the intuitive eye.

It is through my art making that I maintain a sense of my SELF, even as I change. That's Coffee with Hallelujah. SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what you think of my image and interpretation. What does this image say to you?


Monday, October 21, 2013

BLOGTOBERFEST13 (Day 21) Juste Jour or reading the book of your life

JUSTE JOUR. Just a day. OR...A just day. Speaking to you from the language of my dreams. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for the language of dreams! Hallelujah for being deeper than our conscious selves and for being given the opportunity to delve into the universal pool of archetypes and shared imagery that speaks to us all!

Last night, I dreamed that I was reading the book I had written:

JUSTE JOUR!

Jour is French for day. I have been focused on blogging daily during the month of October this year, but even bigger than that, I have been concentrating on drawing every day for 15 minutes a day--no matter what--for four years now. 

You might say that DAILY CREATIVITY is fairly important to me. I created a Facebook Group, The Daily Creative Practice, in March 2013 to honor the work I do each day and to build community around everyone's moment of creativity each day.

What I have learned is that people hunger to be CREATIVE. Yes. Individuals yearn for an opportunity to express themselves both for themselves and for others. There is a desire to share work and engage in a discussion of people's souls as expressed in their creative expressions.

My dream, JUSTE JOUR? Just each day CREATE. To create is a just and honorable day. Refrain from judgment. Our imaginative work that expresses ourselves is for celebrating, for honoring, for acknowledging. 

We create in order to BE. A JUSTE JOUR in the language of of my dream is one that is filled with the joy of being ourselves, speaking the language of our souls and having others receive it, without judgement.
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THE BOOK OF LIFE FOR THE AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (AMOY). Every living creature has a book of life! Right now, I am strongly influenced by the American oystercatcher's life cycle. So, for my work today, I have given my American oystercatcher baby her "book of life" so that she can navigate her existence. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
FROM MY COLLABORATOR. Jen Hilburn, is my collaborator, my co-parent in the raising up of the American oystercatcher chick. She has had the vision to capture these amazing birds in the various stages of their life-cycles. It is through her love of this animal that we can all learn more about this bird's book of life. (photo by Jenifer Hilburn)

AND THE STORY IN MY BOOK OF LIFE? Live today with kindness to yourself. Do not judge what you do as good or as bad. What you have done today is "JUSTE." Hallelujah! Thank you for expressing yourself as I do. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me! Tell me about your day. "Just" a day! How do you measure your day? What makes you consider you day a "just" day or one of success?