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August 21, 2012

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I've been thinking a lot about this today -- both because of the literal chill in the air (the evenings are growing cool...) and because of the spiritual shift I can feel happening. It's less than a month until the Jewish new year. All of my internal sensors are waking up and clamoring for me to pay attention to myself, my choices, my life, so that I can feel ready for the spiritual work of the Days of Awe. And, of course, there's the lifelong habit of back-to-school -- now as a teacher (Hebrew school) rather than a student, but there's still a need for fresh notebooks and new syllabi and all that jazz.

I admire so much your willingness and ability to make time and space for your art. Kol hakavod ("all the honor") to you! I aspire to do the same.

With all that we share, Rachel, there's a big difference between us: you've got a child! If I had had children and spent a minimum of 18 years being an attentive parent, giving them the priority I believe children deserve, my whole life would have turned out differently. I admire parents who manage to balance that huge commitment with their own work and career, especially if that means making the mental space to write or do art.

The inexorable march of times and seasons.. Thanks for sharing...

Yes, I know what you speak of. Almost all of my life September has meant back to school, as a child and student, then as teacher, then parent, then back to a university setting and schedule printshop. I don't mind the coolness but it is the shorter and shorter days, the coming darkness that bother me a little, yet I accept it as the cycle of the seasons.

With so many interests and duties, if you will, as a wife, parent, grandparent, homemaker, gardener, and so on, I do find my time for my art is not all mine. Hence your words: "The trickiest thing is saying it to myself: no, you can't do all the things you want to do, you have to focus, and you have to choose wisely" are a reminder to me when I stress myself with too much to do. I don't have to have a perfectly clean house, a perfect garden, do a lot of entertaining, etc.

Thanks for sharing, and the best of joys in your artmaking, Beth! I wish we were closer so we could talk and share what we are doing, but our blogs are second best for that!

Ah..your favorite French teacher....I heard a story just the other day recounting a time she appeared at school in make-up and uncharacteristically sharp attire. When someone complimented her, she replied, "oh yes...thank you...I've been to a funeral..". I remember her saying to me many times, in Spanish class, "oh, no, Jose....oh, no...", and I remember that she pronounced "class"clash...

Mike, were you in her classes when DeGaulle died? She was in genuine mourning. Her other love was Jean-Claude Killy...and I remember that she always dressed up for the Regents exams, a formal occasion! She was without doubt one of the best teachers I ever had, maybe the best. And a unique individual!

Thank you, Beth. This post so much resonates to me. There is always something that slips from attention and focus when there is so much to do. And there are certain things that make me drop everything else that I am doing. My old mother-in-law, crippled after a stroke, lives with me; when her care givers do not turn up for work I drop everything and look after her. And there is only so much that I can pack in a day. I have learnt to accept that.

Thank you, Beth. This post so much resonates to me. There is always something that slips from attention and focus when there is so much to do. And there are certain things that make me drop everything else that I am doing. My old mother-in-law, crippled after a stroke, lives with me; when her care givers do not turn up for work I drop everything and look after her. And there is only so much that I can pack in a day. I have learnt to accept that.

I envy you the sense of community that goes with choir practice. Back in the distant days when I owned an unthinking treble voice, I used to turn up on Wednesday nights quite unaware that I was enjoying myself. Only afterwards, when my voice had broken and fashioning any kind of song had become a labour, did I restrospectively recognise that enjoyment, gone for ever.

Mercifully there is a communal aspect to novel-writing which I assume painting must lack. A couple of weeks ago I received two long phone calls from my mentor, Plutarch, commenting on the first 106,000 rather raw words of Blest Redeemer. "You could get more out of Imogen," he said. And, "The scene in the Savoy needs some teasing." And of course he was right and Imogen - thrown in rather carelessly as a counterpoint to the main character - not only grew but was fun to write.

I try to imagine the same scene for you, with a trusted friend looking over your shoulder and saying gently, "I'm not sure the bottom right-hand corner works." Doesn't sound right does it? The autonomy you enjoy is one of several pleasures that drew you to what you do. Similarly, I'm not sure I could have endured such a ghostly presence in my years as professional journalist. The fact is I'm an amateur novel-writer.

No such problems in the choir stall. Being directed is part of the game.

I am very envious of your connection to music. My hearing is not very good any more. I hear my voice getting loud and harsh, and I don't think I'm singing on pitch. And a lot of music just sounds screechy or tuneless.
I am getting a lot out of ceramic work, photography and blogging. I do want to spend more time on family matters as the holiday season approaches. While not having the spur of the change of season, I still feel something different in the air, too, a sense that it's time to step forward bravely with what I can do.
And I'll be SO GLAD when the political season is over!!!

The kind of post I look forward to in these pages. Signs of change, transitions, external and internal. Intimate observations, small notes on life's lessons. Thank you, Beth.

You express so well the feeling of the season, so mixed.

Very glad for you in your new commitment to what you want to do, bon courage1

Uma, I envy you your acceptance of what you cannot do in a day. I'm working on that, and it's not easy for me. Some of this is a cultural and spiritual thing, I think; very hard for over-achieving, speedy Americans which I am even though I try not to be!

Lorenzo, I have a husband and studio-mate who does exactly that! Actually, I am a blogger and ensemble-musician because I crave communication and interaction, and an artist and writer because I also need solitude. But I couldn't manage to go into one of those areas exclusively. When I do those psychological/spiritual tests I always fall right between introvert and extrovert! I'm glad you have a reader who gives you solid feedback, it's so important, and not just for the writing itself!

Parmanu, thank you. It's the kind of post you write too.

Thanks, Lucy. I will need that bon courage, it's difficult to market one's own work, but rather fascinating too.

The season-change is probably more ominous here in snow-and-ice country than where you live but it's perceptible almost everywhere. I think we all regret the end of bountiful beauty (and harvest) but a lot of us also like the coziness of winter...

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