wabi sabi

Wabi Sabi by Anne Copeland


This piece is not an angel, but a persona representing wabi sabi, a philosophy I love in this life. 

“Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional.” – 
“Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers”, Leonard Koren

There is a lot more to this life philosophy, a later outcome of Zen, than what is stated here and it is well worth reading. 

When I think of wabi-sabi, I think of raku pottery, where the pots, when they are in their cooling stage, are taken and put into a bucket of leaves, papers, or other various natural materials that give the pottery its beautiful sheen.  Raku pottery is my favorite, because I enjoy any art form that has a stage where you cannot be in control any longer.  You have to accept that which is perhaps imperfect, and for me, that has always been a pleasant experience.

This version of wabi sabi, in keeping with the philosophy, uses recycled coffee filters for the aura and the wings, and shows only one hand, holding a broken branch with a single leaf falling from it. The leaf has not reached the ground, so it represents all the things in the statement.  Although you may not be able to see it very well, there is a clock beneath the heart, and there is a single teardrop, for it reminds me that there is a beauty in this way of seeing life.

On Being Happy in Life

Virginia Woof Art Quilt in Progress by Anne Copeland

We are not going to have everything our way all the time.  We can choose to be happy in life regardless of any given circumstances.  Life is truly what we make of it.

Virginia Woolf was, by all appearances, someone who had everything going for her.  She had a husband who loved her, a circle of friends who were creative people and who thought for the most part as she did related to life philosophy.  Her books and writings were successful, and she had a beautiful home with everything a person could possibly want or need.

And yet, she ended her own life by her own choosing. She never looked at any alternatives for her own self. It is true that there was not mental health help in those times as there is now, but there were things she could have chosen to do. She drew a wall around her life, and chose not to allow anything in or out. 

No matter where we are in this life, we can always choose to accept the things we deal with as outside ourselves.  We might not be able to change these things, but we can choose the way we think about them.  We can always choose to love and accept ourselves as we are, and as we are not.

Mom-isms

 

I remember that my mom had more “mom-isms” than probably most of the moms on my block.  If you don’t know what a mom-ism is, your mom probably never had one, but you might ask her what mom-isms her mom or grandma used to use.  A mom-ism is when you make a remark, such as “Oh Mom, I can’t.”  And your mom replies, “Really?  Did you know that there is no such word as ‘can’t’ in the English dictionary?”  Or perhaps she might say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”  Think back on some your mom or grandma might have said.  I know some of you have some in the back of your memory. They were intended to have us not give up easily, or perhaps guide us in some other area of life.  The quilt that is painted and stitched below is one of my mom’s mom-isms.  I would say something like “I just am not sure if I can do it,”  or perhaps “Mom, I am afraid to do it,” and she would reply, “Oh, take the bull by the horns.”  I have no clue where these mom-isms came from, but they were definitely an important memory in my youth.  I will look forward to seeing some of yours.  Perhaps you have pop-isms, or grandma or grandpa-isms.  And you know, these worked too.  Look how worried this huge bull looks compared to the little cowgirl.  Have fun remembering!

Take the Bull by the Horns

“Take the Bull by the Horns” by Anne Copeland

 

An Angel Among Us

pexels-newborn baby 2

Photo Courtesy Pexels

When I first moved to Calimesa in Southern California, I noted that the Garden of Angels in Desert Lawn Cemetery was located in my city.  I had read about the cemetery in 1996 when a wonderful lady, Debi Faris, living in Yucaipa (next to Calimesa) heard a newscast about a newborn baby found dead in a duffle bag that had been tossed out on the San Pedro freeway.

Garden of Angels Cemetery at Desert Lawn in Calimesa

Faris explained how that newscast impacted her life. “He was placed, I assume by his mother, in a pink duffle bag with the word ‘lifesaver’ written on the outside of it. This little child would change the course of my life,” she said.

“When I heard the news report about that newborn baby in the duffel bag … it touched me so deeply that I could not turn and walk away. He was a human being, so innocent and vulnerable. It tore at my heart that his mother could not see the ‘gift’ she had been given.”

Thus Faris began her life-long quest to make sure there would be a place to bury these abandoned or murdered children and she made education of teens and young people her priorities.

Soon thereafter, she contacted Senator Jim Brulte to get the laws of child abandonment changed. The abandonment law passed after some time and in 2001 the Safe Surrender for Newborns law became part of her legacy.

“On August 26, 1996, we buried the first three children in the Garden of Angels. Two abandoned newborn baby boys and a little girl about the age of two, apparently murdered, who had been found floating in a river. I gave them their names, Matthew, Nathan and Dora. Their names all have the same meaning … a gift from God.” She said her dad made wooden crosses and sent them to her from Oregon.

The names were important she said because, “These children had a name now … they would not be just a Coroner’s number.”

There is even one adult buried in the Garden. Grandpa John’s stone cross sits on the edge of the garden amidst the forest of monuments dedicated to the tiny children.

In 2002, Faris had received a call from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office asking if she knew anyone or group who would take the body of an adult and give him a proper burial. “I said I didn’t and asked why,” she said.

The person on the other line proceeded to tell Faris they had a man who had died and as they were trying to find family to notify them of his death, they learned that as a baby, he had been found discarded in a trash can in July 1936.

The man, legally named John Doe Jr., had suffered brain damage, possibly from being thrown into the trash can and had apparently lived his life in institutions, she said.

“I told them I would take him,” she smiled. “Now he’s surrounded by all these children and he won’t ever be alone again.”

Forsale

Debi Faris in the Garden of Angels

I attended several of the funerals at the Garden of Angels since I lived in the general area then.  The first one I attended was for three babies, all in tiny caskets, and all wrapped in receiving blankets.  Two of the caskets were no bigger than large boxes that might contain boots.

Debi Faris would drive from Yucaipa, CA all the way to Los Angeles, where the bodies of babies would be kept, along with every other person who was unidentified and/or unclaimed, and all the bodies would be cremated as one might burn trash.  She would get the babies, clean their tiny bodies and wrap them in clean receiving blankets.  Then she would sit with the babies for a short time, rocking them in a sort of loving action that a mother would make.  And then she would bring them back to Calimesa, CA, to the Garden of Angels, and they would be put in their tiny caskets for the funerals.

The funerals I attended back around 2014 were beautiful ways to acknowledge a life that otherwise might have passed into the netherworld without their lives having been acknowledged.  All the babies are given a first and sometimes middle name.  They cannot get a last name because of legal issues, I imagine lest someone comes to claim any of them, which has never happened.  There is singing.  The song I heard was “I’ll Fly Away Home,” and it was truly touching.  I know I shed some tears.  When the little caskets are taken outside to the burial site, people stand over them and pray for them and white doves are released.  They circle higher and higher in the sky over the site, and eventually begin to fly back home.  At every holiday, the little graves are decorated with flowers and other gifts brought by different people who visit the cemetery.  The Garden of Angels is a special part of the cemetery all of its own right near the front of the mortuary.  There is a little pool nearby and birds and ducks come there frequently to visit the pond.  It is a beautiful ceremony, and though sad, I think the fact that the babies are honored instead of being thrown away in trash cans, dumped in rivers, left out in the desert, or otherwise thrown away as a life without any value other than perhaps a 20-minute sex act (if that).

I have always been so touched by what this one woman did, a woman who was not wealthy, and who sold her family car to have money to bury the first three babies, that I too decided to do something as well in their honor.  So I began collecting blue and white quilt blocks that various women have donated.  I will ultimately bind each block individually and put them together horizontally so that the quilt can continue to grow.  I had made a list of the babies and their names, and some people have chosen to embroider a child’s name on a block.  I think when someone is talking to the young people at the high schools, it is a good visual aid to help them understand the reality of the issue.

Prior to the passing of the Safe Surrender for Newborns law, it is estimated that there were some 500 babies abandoned and/or murdered outright.  Today as it stands, there are more than 100 babies in the cemetery. I have not been there lately so I am not sure of the exact number, but one baby is too many. For information on California’s Safely Surrendered Baby Law, go to babysafe.ca.gov.

Footnote:  Debi Faris, after working so hard on this issue, actually won the lottery and her payout out of $26,000,000,000 was $9,000,000,000.  She contributed some of it to the nonprofit organization that I believe now exists.

Who Will I Be Today?

Annies Who Will I be today quilt

Art Quilt by Anne Copeland

I know you cannot see the whole quilt, and I would like you to be able to do that. This was made some years ago as an exchange quilt.  We each send a package of fabrics we want to have in our quilt, and the other person does the same.  A middle person handles all the fabrics, sending them to different people, and the quilt we make for this unknown person will be returned to them when we are done and all the pieces have been collected by that middle person.

We all have a dual nature, and we generally take on one or the other each day.  Just as we have day and night, cold and warm, floods and droughts, love and hate, success and failure, so we can choose to be one personality or the other.

I always love this quote from the book, Advice from a Failure, by Jo Coudert.  “Of all the people you will know in a lifetime, you are the only one you will never leave nor lose. To the question of your life, you are the only answer. To the problems of your life, you are the only solution.”

 

The Orange Praying Mantis Who Came to Visit

Reblogged in part from http://www.Sunsigns.org

About 4 days ago, I went out on my porch, and there was the most gorgeous orange praying mantis on the gate above the stairs.  I couldn’t stop looking at her (I was certain it was a female from the body shape and size).  I have always had a curiosity and love for almost every insect that comes to our garden or outside areas.  Last winter I rescued a hive of bees disguised as a birdhouse.  Some fellows had an ad in Craigslist asking someone to come and save the bees roosting in their birdhouse by their front door before they had to do something drastic to protect themselves.

I had joyfully read about bee keeping over the years, and had a good idea of at least some things I needed to do, so I called the gentlemen and told them I would be there and get the bees.  I waited until nightfall, for it makes sense as they are not buzzing around outside at night, so would be calm until I got them home.  My “beekeeping outfit consisted of a jeans shirt with long sleeves, jeans, boots, gloves and a hat with a “veil” I made from some netting I had.

Off I went to bring the bees’ location, and when I got there it was much larger than I anticipated, but I was not about to lose them.  I put a big plastic bag over the birdhouse and put it on the seat next to me to drive home.  When I got home safely with them, I uncovered the hive and put it on a stand I had in the back yard.  I was so happy.  I discovered that the reason that the beehive was so large was that it was made from a real beehive with slats in it, etc.  In the morning when I checked the bees, they were busy looking around for flowers, etc.  It was particularly hot that summer, so I needed to give them sugar water.  I went inside and prepared it in a low level long container.  I was used to making sugar water for the hummingbirds, so I measured it pretty much the same.  I brought it back to them, and did not get a single sting.  They knew I was feeding them and I did not represent any kind of threat.

So I kept my bees as long as I could, but I DO live in a mobile home park, so ultimately had to take them to another rescue place, which turned out to be two blocks from where I got them originally.  So I was sad for awhile, but it seems that every year, some insect or insects that become my “science project” come to visit or stay for awhile.

If you know anything about the praying mantis, it will come as no shock that this insect is the paramount spiritual symbol of stillness and patience. She stayed and stayed, and all day I returned to look for her and she was still there, so I named her Ginger. Even if she does not stay long, she has brought a wonderful message to me. I made sure she had something to eat the first day, catching a couple of bugs for her in a way that they were not dead when I put them near her one by one.  I saw her catch and eat the first one, and I am sure she ate the other one too.

The praying mantis takes its time in all that it does. It takes care to pay diligent attention to its surroundings, and moving through life at its own pace. It demonstrates the ultimate power of stillness. It serves as a reminder for humans to slow down in our chaotic, fast-paced lives.

The praying mantis animal totem also teaches us how to still our bodies and go within our own mind. By doing this, we can connect with ourselves, drawing up greater physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual power. This stillness and concentration is a form of meditation, a practice that the mantis places much importance in.

Ginger - Orange Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis Insect Associated Traits

Patience, Stability, Meditation, Peaceful, Quietness

Symbolic Meaning Of Praying Mantis

Wisdom emerges when we are still and quiet, sensing and feeling rather than thinking critically. It comes with experience, age, and being, rather than traditional schooling. It cannot be obtained through arrogance.

Accordingly, the praying mantis symbol chooses to present itself to individuals when they have allowed their busy schedules to overrun their intuition, silencing their internal voice and throwing their equilibrium out of balance. The praying mantis always comes to us when we are internally craving peace, quiet, and calm in our lives.

The praying mantis meaning has a variety of traits: temperance, quietness, awareness, calmness, clairvoyance, patience, mindfulness and innovation. These insects are well known for their pre-strike pose, which is a popular symbol of balance and patience in and of itself.

In fact, the Chinese honor the praying mantis for its elegant, mindful, and contemplative movements. By reminding ourselves to have patience with ourselves in our own movement, we, like the mantis, can grow in our wisdom. They remind us to have patience in acquiring the things we want and to remain balanced throughout the duration of the wait.

If a praying mantis strikes too soon, its prey gets away. Because of this, it has evolved to be patient: so patient, in fact, that it will not budge unless it is 100% positive that it is the correct thing to do. This acts as a direct message to us, reminding us to contemplate our movements just as carefully and precisely.

When our timing is off, we may generate an unnecessary (and unpleasant) struggle or blow an opportunity entirely. Through stillness, awareness, and balance, we can hear and recognize the perfect moment. We must listen to the voice that speaks to us with openness, not fear. If we have patience and wait before striking, the right moment will come, and we will succeed.

The praying mantis will become your animal totem once you have learned to take your time and live your life at a silent and reflective pace. You should make all choices with a sincere commitment to careful thought and contemplation.

By being mindful of this, you will enable yourself to know exactly where you are going and when you will get there. Calmness and serenity are crucial to living like the praying mantis.

But you should also be capable of being decisive and ready to take action when opportunities present themselves. For example, healers often cite the mantis as their inspiration when channeling their healing power.

The praying mantis symbolism might also creep into your subconscious while you sleep. To dream of the praying mantis means that your intuition is actively trying to guide you at this very moment. Perhaps you have overlooked the the signs and symbols in your conscious day time hours and now the messages are speaking to your restful mind.

All of the instincts and gut feelings you have been experiencing lately are attempting to tell you something about the situation you are currently in. Do not allow your judgement to be clouded, your concentration to be broken, or yourself to be distracted from the end goal.

Trust the feelings that you have, both when awake and in slumber, and act on them appropriately. If you listen to yourself truly and honestly, you will succeed.

www.Sunsigns.org

Footnote:  The night before last, the orange Praying Mantis went off the porch and onto one of my rose bushes out front.  I presumed she was hungry and looking for a meal.  Later when I went to look before going off to bed, she was nowhere to be found.  I can only assume that she has moved on.  I am sad that she left, but at the same time, I am very grateful for the timely message.  Thank you my friend, and you are always welcome back to my home and my heart!

Art Exhibit – Part II

So now you have seen Part I, and I want to let you know that I am quite prolific with speaking what is in my heart and the compass of my soul.  So Part II will show you some more things I have created, and you might question their designation as “art.”  I want you to know that as an artist, I define what is MY art and what it will chose to be at any given time in my life according to how I am envisioning life at that particular time.  I like the freedom to celebrate life in the many ways I choose to celebrate it.  When I turned 65, I decided to do something different for my special day.  I had put on some African music which I liked very much, and I was thinking of how the people paint their bodies to signify something that is very meaningful to them, so I got out some black cloth, and being all alone, stripped and painted my breasts white.  I pressed them to the cloth.  We know ourselves in one way, or perhaps two, but there are things and ways of ourselves that we have never observed.  So when I looked at the cloth I had created, I was, to say the least, surprised, for whoever would ever know that this was what a breast looked like on cloth.  Here are a couple of pieces that came from this wonderful experiment in which I learned to see myself in a whole new way.  This process never ends, for there is always something new to learn, and as we change over the many years, so do our bodies and minds.  Each part becomes a special art exhibit all of its own.

Boobalala

Boobalala by Anne Copeland – Paint and Fiber

 

Annies boob quilt for autism charity - My garden of Earthly Delights

My Garden of Earthly Delights” by Anne – Paint and Fiber

This quilt is about 18″ x 20″ and it features the breast prints in multicolors, which was a lot more fun and challenging than just doing white.  And to think, I still have more body parts to color and experiment with.  Who knows what this will ultimately lead to.  I am certainly not the first person to experiment with painting body parts, but I did this my way and without any lessons either.  The frog is painted separately.

Oh, and this was a charity quilt I decided to make for Art for Autism, since I have been very involved for many years with autistic and other special needs children. For those of you who might recoil in horror, there is nothing ugly or wierd about our breasts.  I fed all my children with mine, lived through breast cancer, and now that I have passed three quarters of a life (age 77), I am glad to be able to still have those breasts.  For me, they are no different than having teeth, hair, armpits, or feet or a backside. Does a tree hide its branches in shame?

So this is Art Exhibit Part II.  We will look at some other ideas in different “exhibits” I get to curate and write about.  It’s my show.  See you at the next one.