Wednesday, April 28, 2010

... it is still a beautiful world (Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann)

Death Valley Flowers, 2007

Desiderata

by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Powerful pictures of nudes


Beauty is an experience, nothing else. It is not a fixed pattern or an arrangement of features. It is something felt, a glow or a communicated sense of fineness.

~D. H. Lawrence

Living beings are wondrous, are they not? I set out to establish a collection of artistic representations of the body as a type of gratitude for the vessels that hold us. For every moment I ever berated my thighs for not looking perfect, have I ever thanked them for carrying me through my days? Embarking on this journey was a way for me to celebrate the body and display the myriad ways they express our inner states.

It took me hours of poring through many incredible works of art and photography to assemble a collection I thought avoided cliche sexual poses and stereotypes (seriously -- do a search on "artistic nudes" and you'll see what I mean). I wanted to capture moments of reflection and honesty; the self with clothes and cloaking stripped away and only the posture serving as the prominent way to express mood. I especially targeted artistic photos and skilled sketches with a compelling and candid nature to exhibit the innumerable forms of beauty.

This set has limitations, however. These are all takes on the female body, for now, but I hope to grow this collection and include additional examples. If you have a photo or sketch to recommend, please let me know: hollyrusso@yahoo.com (or comment below).


Thank you to the artists who created such captivating pieces. I have included links to the original source along with the artist's name, if known, if you'd like to learn more about their work.


A picture is a poem without words. ~Horace


Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. ~Thomas Merton


Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. ~Twyla Tharp


A trembling in the bones may carry a more convincing testimony than the dry documented deductions of the brain. ~Llewelyn Powers


We don't stop at our skin. ~Dolores Krieger


Flesh goes on pleasuring us, and humiliating us, right to the end. ~Mignon McLaughlin

I don't believe in an art that is not born out of man's need to open his heart. ~Edvard Munch


Body and mind, like man and wife, do not always agree to die together. ~Charles Caleb Colton

A good painting to me has always been like a friend. It keeps me company, comforts and inspires. ~Hedy Lamarr

xdorjex

It is not beauty that endears, it's love that makes us see beauty. ~Tolstoy

Great art is as irrational as great music. It is mad with its own loveliness. ~George Jean Nathan


Making a decision to have a child--it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

Alli Jiang

Beauty pleases the eyes only; Sweetness of disposition charms the soul. ~Voltaire


A writer should write with his eyes and a painter paint with his ears. ~Gertrude Stein

Friday, April 23, 2010

We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us...


Paper Mill Bridge, originally uploaded by Patrick_md.

We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.

~Tom Stoppard

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul.

I love Maryland in the spring. Flowers are everywhere! I love the bursts of color, tall tulips breezing in the wind, trees in full bloom and vibrant splashes across landscapes everywhere. Here are some shots I took today.
If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom. ~Terri Guillemets
Tulip innards

The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life. ~Jean Giraudoux
mid-pollination
You can't be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet. ~Hal Borland

Flower from restaurant tabletop
Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity. ~John Ruskin

Tiny white flowers exploding from bush near front door
(black & white photo)
For myself I hold no preferences among flowers, so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous. ~Edward Abbey

Azalea bursting with color

Earth laughs in flowers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay
Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size. ~Gertrude S. Wister

Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul. ~The Koran

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sometimes, when one person is missing...

Cirrus clouds at sunset
from NOAA's photo library

In memory of my friend Karen...

I find myself struggling to find words. But I cannot. I just don't know how. And so I will attempt to express how much she meant to me through the words of others.

"Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break." ~William Shakespeare

Karen lost a fight with cancer too young and too soon.

A ridiculous thing to say, really. I don't know anyone who'd ever die and I'd think it was NOT too soon, even if they were 90. When you love someone, you want to share your time with them and when you can't... when they're taken away... it aches.

“What shocked me most was that I could no longer touch him - the swiftness of this loss was like falling off a cliff” ~Catherine Bush

The thing that struck me most when I met Karen is how she welcomed me. Some of my coworkers were meeting her for lunch shortly after she left our organization. I never worked directly with her but they invited me along. I was very new and quite shy around this unfamiliar group of people but Karen took one look at me in the restaurant and wrapped her arms around me in a warm hug. She immediately made me feel included. She truly welcomed me.

You know how sometimes you can just meet a person and right away feel so comfortable in their presence? She was that person to me.

When I met her four years ago, she'd already been diagnosed. But the outlook was hopeful and I thought she would be okay. I told myself that someone my age could not actually DIE of cancer.

We stayed in touch as she continued through her treatment. She always told me how much she appreciated my calls.

Even then she made me feel welcome.

I don't know if I ever thanked her for that.

. . .

"Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated." ~Lamartine

French translation, thanks to Mirella McCracken:
"Un seul être vous manque et le monde est depeuple."

. . .

Perfection Wasted

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market --
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories
packed in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That's it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren't the same.

John Updike

. . .

“Every human being must find his own way to cope with severe loss, and the only job of a true friend is to facilitate whatever method he chooses” ~Caleb Carr

. . .

"...In a life truly lived, grief and loss accumulate like possessions." Stefan Kanfer

. . .


“I have learned that some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet are those who have suffered a traumatic event or loss. I admire them for their strength, but most especially for their life gratitude - a gift often taken for granted by the average person in society.” ~ Sasha Azevedo

. . .

from In Blackwater Woods, by Mary Oliver

Every year
everything
I have ever learned
in my lifetime

leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:

to love what is mortal;to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.