Carrie Allen – Cry, heart, but do not break

To be human is to know pain.  During times of loss and personal crisis, we are thrown into chaos and can often tumble into despair, misery, bitterness, anger and angst.  Whether it be physical or emotional pain, we all have dark hours. In those darkest hours, it feels like you are so completely alone and you lose hope.  I know, I’ve been there.  Yet to be human is also to be resilient.  We do heal.  Things get better.  It just takes time.   Albert Camus asserted that “there is no love of life without despair of life.”

Everyone has his or her own path for grieving, for mending…for coping.  For those I know hurting now, try to slow down and find solace in quiet moments, simple things.  Focus on the senses. The way a breeze feels on your skin.  The taste of a treat.  The texture of a fabric. A soft touch. Smell. Breathe. Taste. Just be.   Staying present and intimate with the moment, requires mastering maitri, the Buddhist practice of loving-kindness toward oneself, that most difficult art of self-compassion.

IMG_5097

When my brother Robbie passed away in 2001, it was a horrifically dark time.  In my attempt at trying to find order, to cope, I chose to paint a portrait of him, painted from a small wallet-sized senior high school photo of his. I still have it today, it’s scratched and worn, but Robbie’s spirit shines through.

FullSizeRender (2)

I painted through my tears. I painted and painted, reworking it over and over.  My intention was to paint a portrait of my brother for my father as a gift, to help him heal.   I spent many months with the painting.  I realized much later that my colors were skewed.  His vibrancy does not come through.  I think my sadness shrouds the painting still.

FullSizeRender (2) copy

Robbie’s birthday was July 29.  He is always with me but these last few weeks even more so. I honor him with this post. This entire blog is a tribute to him. I miss him every day.  His passion and zeal for life and adventure touched so many.

The day after he died in March 2001 his close friend wrote a poem for him.  I close now by sharing it with you here.

Jilted
To Robbie, March 23, 2001

I loved a man who danced with Life;
He’d twirl her in his arms
Until she dropped exhaustedly-
Too heavy with his charms.
I used to look on jealously,
And wonder if he knew
How quickly I’d replace her
If he’d only ask me to,

Because I feel I wouldn’t tire,
But last into the night.
I’d take his turns and twists and dips
With all my strength and might.
We’d cha-cha, tango, maquerena
Till the dawn broke in,
And once we thought we’d had enough,
We’d jitterbug again.

Unconstant Life, you drew him in
Until you recognized
How much he needed loving you,
How much of you he prized.
So whimsically you threw him off,
Refusing one more dance
To one with whom I’d dance forever
Given half a chance.

Love, Kathryn Dunnington

Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love. Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

Carrie Allen – “Sadie”

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Ever since I can remember I’ve dreamed about being a writer.  Over the years, visions danced in my head of creating novels, poems and short stories.  Yet, somehow something inside me always stopped me from taking that first step – even though I know I have much to say and write about – and I thought I’ll get to that later.

I love to read, especially fiction, getting lost inside a good story.  This is from where my inspiration for writing comes.  One of my favorite books has always been Catcher in the Rye, and to this very day my well worn copy still sits next to my bedside table, filled with underlined passages, notes and dog-eared pages, as I relished every moment at each read.  With this inspiration in mind, I’ve decided to start writing now and share my stories here.  I welcome contributions from those of you who also want to share your voice.  Just contact me!

Below is the first part of a set of serial short stories about a young girl named Sadie.  Comments and feedback are welcome.

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 2.40.18 PM

SADIE – It’s hot

Sadie sat and stared up through the branches looking at the faded blue sky peeking through patchy white clouds.  She heard a fly buzzing somewhere behind her. Flicking a twig off her leg, she slid down a little farther into the barrel of water.  It was hot.  So incredibly hot.  She thought she would melt.  This is why she filled the metal barrel with water from the hose and plopped down in it.  The water felt cool on her hot skin.  Even so, sweat dripped from her limbs that didn’t fit in the barrel and the heat was suffocating.  The tree gave her a little bit of shade.

She could hear her grandmother in the kitchen chopping vegetables, prepping for tonight’s dinner.  Her brother was down by the docks, trying to catch a crab.  He’d been at it for a while and was not interested in entertaining Sadie, he said.  Caleb was four years older and not much fun; he never wanted to play.  Sadie and Caleb had been at their grandmother’s house for a month and a half.  Their mother needed a break they were told.  She was weak and couldn’t handle their noise and demands.  What did they know?  Sadie could’ve helped her mom even if she was only eight. She knew how to make sandwiches and clean up the kitchen and she took real good care of her mama.  Still, they were sent away.

“Sadie!” she heard her grandmother yell.  “What are you doing now?  Look at that mess you’ve made!” 

“It’s hot,” she yelled back.  “What did you expect me to do?” she muttered.  Sadie looked at the mud puddle around the barrel and the sludge that was slipping down the hill towards the back door to the kitchen.  She had left the hose running so that the water would stay cool.  Her feet were covered in mud and it was smudged on her hands and legs, drying and cracking in the heat.  Her threadbare yellow dress floated up around her in the barrel and she pushed it back down into the dirty water.

Humming now, she closed her eyes and tilted her head up towards the sky.  One hand swirled the water and lapped it up towards her neck.  She was trying to remember as far back as she could when her mama was not sick.  As hard as she tried, she couldn’t. She wondered what her mama was doing at that moment.  A sadness enveloped her.  She longed for her mama’s arms and warm embrace and happier days.

Last year, try as she did, she couldn’t stay out of trouble.  She was real helpful and always trying to fix things.  She had good ideas – she knew that for sure.  Didn’t matter that not everyone understood them, like the time she collected the neighbors’ cats and brought them home to the apartment.  She thought the cats would be thirsty in the heat.  She found three but didn’t know they wouldn’t get along – that it would be hard to get them out before mama got home from work.  What a mess that was. 

Her mama had been so mad she locked her in the closet for hours and said she couldn’t control her so that’s where she needed to be. She said Sadie gave her a headache.  The dark had scared Sadie at first, but then she realized it was nice and peaceful. She could see her mama’s shadows on the floor where the light shown in under the door.  Sadie loved those shadows, her mama dancing by every time she passed the door.  They comforted her while she softly hummed and rocked back and forth in the dark.

A bird screeched and pulled Sadie back to her barrel of water and the heat.  The water from the hose kept rushing down the hill and the mud puddle was getting bigger.  She thought she should probably get up and turn off the hose, but the heat made her feel heavy.  She didn’t feel like it.  She’d get to it before her grandmother looked outside again.

As her eyes scanned the yard, she caught a glimpse of something small and purple across the stretch of patchy grass and gray hardened dirt.  She wondered what it could be so she pushed herself up out of the barrel, leaving the dirty water and deluge behind her, forgetting to turn off the hose.  She made her way over, tripping ever so slightly on a tree root, to see what caught her eye.  As she approached she realized it was a small, blooming violet.

She lay down on her stomach to look closer.  The violet had only one flower on a drooping stem with two small yellowish leaves.  Popping up out of a crack in the dirt and leaning over, the flower was straining to grow, and yet despite the conditions unsuitable for it to survive, it was still growing with determination.  “Look at you, so pretty and small.  Where is your mama to take care of you?” she asked in a quiet whisper.

 

Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love. Read more about her inspiration here. 

If you like what you see on this site, please help spread the word and share posts with your friends on social media!  Reach out if you’d like to contribute something about your passions.

Kelly Anona Kerrigan – Documenting a life on canvas

I feel most alive and most connected to the world when I am creating.  In college, I fell in love with painting.  I received a very traditional art education as an undergrad, learning the foundations of painting, drawing, and sculpture.  Our studio time was spent exploring still life setups and the human figure.  In graduate school, I branched out and explored other ways to use materials while trying to find my own vision.  Through my exploration, I discovered that my work always come back to portraiture.

2010Anona

Anona 2010, oil on canvas

There is something about painting a portrait that feels like a special connection that I am making with my subject.  I want to invest the time to really see a person in a way that we don’t get to do on a day to day basis.  I use portraiture to explore identity and personality, and how much we can really know each other.  I feel a rush of adrenaline when a painting starts to form on the canvas, representing my personal relationship with and interpretation of the subject.

2011Anona

Anona 2011, oil on canvas

When my niece, Anona, was about 10 months old, I painted her portrait.  At the time, I wasn’t thinking past that initial portrait.  I just wanted to capture her as I knew her that day.  Anona is now 7 years old, and I have painted her portrait every year since she was born.  That first portrait started an ongoing project that, for me, is about more than painting.

Anona 2012, oil on canvas and Anona with her early portraits.

Anona and I live on opposite sides of the country, so I don’t see her very often.  The distance and time between visits make it seem like she is growing up so very fast.  It is amazing to see how much she changes and exciting to watch her grow into her own unique individual.  Each year, I try to capture her in a way that feels true to my interpretation of her, and shows her personality.  In a sense, the portraits become a representation not only of Anona, but of my relationship with her.

2013Anona

Anona 2013, oil on canvas

2014Anona

Anono 2014, oil on canvas

A theme that runs through my work is one of identity and what shapes our sense of who we are and how we present ourselves in this world.  By painting Anona each year, I am watching her grow up and become who she is, while creating a lasting document of milestones throughout her life.  All of the portraits of Anona live with her on the west coast.  While compiling these pictures of the paintings today, I realized that this is the first time that I’ve looked at them all together.  I love seeing them as a group and noticing how she changes from year to year.  I’m pretty sure she enjoys seeing herself on canvas, as well.   I am determined to add to this group every year, for as long as she will let me!

2015Anona

Anono 2015, oil on canvas

Anono with her 2016 portrait and Anono 2016, oil on canvas

kelly

Kelly Anona Kerrigan is an artist living and working in Boston’s Fort Point Artists’ Community.  She received a BFA in painting from Boston University and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University. In addition to painting, she also enjoys designing and making clothing and costumes.  Some of her favorite things in life are running, nail polish, and the Red Sox.  See more of her work at www.kellyanonakerrigan.com

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Randi Mail – Cycling Passion

My hands grip the handlebars, palms pressing down on the cushions of my fingerless gloves. My back is straight, but I lean forward facing the wind. The steady breeze in my face increases as my speed rises. I begin down the path along the river. “Hi Charles” I usually say aloud, with a big grin. I shoot a flirtatious glance at the water, its velvety and rippling surface laps at the shore. Might catch a hot pink or bright yellow duck boat or the mini sailboats in the distance out of the corner of my eye as I ride along.

ducks-and-rowboats

I know the bends in the path well, snaking around trees, benches, playgrounds, and sculptures.  Every so often, tree roots intent on slivering underneath from one side to the other create little heaves in the asphalt, black burrows cracking up across my way. I steady my feet on each pedal and position them midway on the rotation exactly opposite one another. At the same time, I draw my elbows in and lower my torso closer to the handlebars. A quick lift off the saddle, thighs lightly pinch the nose of the seat for stability and control. Over the bump… bump… back in the saddle.

charles_river_trail-0

Legs pumping, I truly love this elegant invention. I have never owned a car. I play with my pedaling stroke to switch up the delicious muscle burn, sometimes slight sometimes intense. Maybe I’ll use my quads from hip to knee keeping my feet parallel stomping out the strokes. Or, activating my calf muscles I’ll start ankling. This technique involves pointing the foot slightly up on the down stroke and slightly down as you pull the pedal back and up.

The breeze shuffles my hair at my back. Little adjustments for total comfort, a tug here and there of my helmet brim and the back of my shirt. Breathing in, fresh air floods my lungs as I inhale deeply. Breathing out, my belly extends feeling peaceful as I become one with my bike.

Pumping. Click… click… I shift into a higher gear for more resistance and momentum. Letting go of the left handlebar first, then the right one, I sit upright. Lifting my arms out and up to the sides my shadow on the path is clear and tall. Bold and free, I ride over the dappled shadows of the leaves and branches from the border of trees beside me. This is me, I’m flying! I know I’ve got that twinkle in my eye, one of joy and pure passion. Nothing can compare.

Randi Mail is a lover of the outdoors, comedy, and the arts. She’s a positive change agent and natural leader working on sustainability from a triple bottom line perspective. From 2002-2016 she was Director of Recycling for the City of Cambridge in Massachusetts.

me