Monday, December 28, 2020

The Irish Sea and Me.

 

Original photo by Anita Boyle.
Played with Photoshop to create composition.

It has been a wanting wish for ages. I have slowly been building up for this inevitable dream come true. It was just a matter of time. I have been teaching swimming 8 hours a day in a very cold pool then working at another pool were we teach during the winter months. I suppose I was training the whole time, preparing myself for the full body wet suit experience.


The day of the event would be the longest dark day of the year, the winter solstice. It was fitting, as 2020 was the darkest year I have lived. I imagine for you too— dear reader, that this has been your darkest year as well. It was time to take the ultimate bath.


I wanted to do this alone. I didn’t want a group of folks hollering and cheering beside me. I wanted a rebirth that was quiet. I wanted to face my sixty year old self alone. The good, or the bad I wanted to rely on me, I wasn’t going to be a victim or a persecutor. I didn’t need rescuing. This wasn’t a drama. 

This was me having a test of courage and a personal baptism. 


I have been preaching to folks my whole life to soar. Spread your wings, rise above the cloud layer. When in reality I should have been preaching for you to swim. As swimming is as close to soaring as you will ever get. There, in the water, in that non-gravitational place of fluid is your sky. You soar.


I stood beside the car, preparing for the swim. I had donned my booties with their thick rubber soles. I had tucked the booties up under the long leg of the wet suit. I pulled the wet suit up and pushed my hands through the neoprene. Then I slid on my San Francisco YMCA swim cap. It says:”I swam around the world.”


I smiled as I placed it upon my head. I worked at the best YMCA in the world. Courtney was the BEST aquatics director on the planet. Oh how I loved those folks! I had the swim cap of love upon my head. I had the angels of adventure warm in my heart. It was time to swim in the Irish Sea.


The storms of winter had brought sea weed up over the concrete ramp. It was inches thick and slippery to walk upon. Anita and I held on to one another as we walked toward the sand. The wind was calm, the sea was easy as she rolled her gentle waves upon the shore.


No one was on the beach, summer was out of reach. It was grey like my wet suit. Dull. I gave Anita a hug and she wished me well. She got out her camera and I started walking toward the water. 


My rubber booties protected my feet from the cold, the first hint of icy water was at mid calf height. The water was icy and hot at the same time. The strangest feeling of fire and ice. The liquid seeped into the wet suit up my spine and I smiled at the extreme feelings of being alive.


Fire and ice. Turning my body so the wave would split easier upon my body. Fire and ice. Walking into the water. Chest level now. Fire and ice. Breathe. Now it is deep enough to swim. Breast stroke. Fingertips sliding into the water.


OH MY GOD.


My hands didn’t have protection. Oh Dear Lord. It was like dipping my hands into dry ice. 


You've seen the science experiment where a live rose is dipped into the liquid nitrogen- that flash freezing was happening to my fingers. I instantly decided I needed to swim back to shore. I expected to raise my hands from the ocean and see nubs. No fingers, no blood -just frozen stubs.


As I turned to swim back to shore, I reached down with one foot. Certainly I could reach the bottom. I wasn’t THAT far out. “Dear Lord I am much further out than I thought.” 


As that point the voice that always talks to me, the all knowing me, the smart and intelligent  me said; “Oooooooooh you do want to live.”


I replied back: “Well of course I do.”


The highest me wouldn’t let this idea drop;”Have the tides changes? Have you been pulled out very very far?”


“Where ever I am. I must kick and pull my way back to shore with purpose.”


The highest me asked; “Shall I swim diagonal to the shore?”


“Perhaps.” So I did, the swimming became easier as I swam toward my Love standing on the shore. She couldn’t see my worried face. She didn’t know my fingers were numb. So I kicked and swam hard, the booties were bulky. But, I was so glad for them.


Finally, I reached down with a foot and could touch the sand. Both of me said: “Dear Lord, thank you for this strong body.”


I loved the waves that pushed me forward. They felt like angels. I was grinning from ear-to-ear as I stepped back to dry sand.


Whew. 


I have never felt more glad to be alive. Okay. I said it. There is nothing more gratifying that being glad to be here on this earth.


Somethings I have learned from this adventure.


1) The survivalist voice shows up, maybe it is the guardian angel we all have. That we don’t know we have until our heart beat quickens in near panic mode.


2) My heart is strong. If there were ever a moment when my heart had an opportunity to kick the old bucket, it was when my hands felt like they were in liquid nitrogen.


and 


last. I WANT to be alive. I don’t want to just exist. I want to live fully! I want adventure in my life.




  




Friday, December 18, 2020

Blessed Blossoming

 Hello Sweet Luvs.

(pulling you into my arms for a 60 second swaying hug) If you know me, if you are reading this blog, then you probably know I haven't been around lately. THIS was the year of challenges. The flower of me was cut to the ground.

(sighing) I won't go into the details about the losses. If you know me, then you know what has happened in my life. 

I flew to Ireland to be re-planted. To take the cutting of my rose-self and replant it. The rain is sweet and soft upon my face and shoulders. I have gotten used to the freezing cold water and look forward to swimming in these waters when quarantine is over.

Finding what you are good at, what you want to do every day of your life, is a lovely adventure. Now that I am here, in Ireland, taking photographs, playing with them in photoshop and illustrator I realize the center point. What we spend our time doing, is what we love.

What
we
spend
time doing,
is what 
we
LOVE.

So, think on that for a moment. Let it materialize, walk around what you do in your minds eye. See the activity. Do you take photos, do you write, do you sit on instagrams all day or scroll in facebook all day?
It is okay. No judgement.
Are you making money off of any of this?

(chuckling) Admittedly, I am not making money. That is the trick then, the bridge to a glorious life. 

Orrrrr is it? Do you want to be doing your hobby all the time? Then would it become druggery? 

Well. I have no answers. I suppose I am just stirring the stick in the mud. I do like watching the swirls of mud flow in the crystal clear water. And I do love watching the river clear itself. Pure magical delight.

I do a few things that I make money from. I play with mud and make mud pies with children. I also illustrate and make money off of those creative play things. 

 I am blossoming now. 

Playing, creating, becoming again.

The future looks crystal clear.

Take this season to rejuvenate and rest.

Let the negative go.

Let the hole be healed.

It takes time.

KNOW you are loved.

We are in this together.


The you tube link is from the movie "Fiddler on the roof" I do not claim anything to do with it. I just want to share its "holiness". May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Blessed Prayer Song

Friday, July 31, 2020

Who taught you?

Art created by Judith Parsons Art 2020


There is only one splinter of a memory of my father trying to teach us to dance. He was showing us the dance steps and foot work for the box step. I smile thinking of his attempt. My sisters and brothers waiting for a turn. 

The prevalent memory is my dad dancing with my mom. My mother would straighten her back when she was dancing with dad. She became a different person when she was dancing with dad. She was no longer defeated or exhausted.

 If she didn’t have heels on, she would stand on her tippy toes and dance around. I thought how her feet must hurt- dancing upon her toes. Though, you could tell by the expression upon my mom’s face, that she was in another world when my dad held her.  She was transformed in those moments. She looked into his eyes, and she had this glorious glowing smile. She trusted in his hand in her lower back, he knew exactly how to move her around the room. He is his clunky work shoes and she barefoot. And never once looked down at her feet- never did she worry that he might step upon her toes.

To me, dancing was the ultimate way to show love. You hold one another openly, publicly letting the world see you. A couple moving in unison. One trusting in the other, the energy of love swirling around as you move together.

Why did the men stop dancing? Why did they become so shy? Why didn't I demand early on for my husband to dance with me? Questions for another blog.

But the truth of this writing is reality. It was rare that they danced. The thing my family did was sing. My parents loved to sing. My mother was trained as professional singer in college and was paid by churches to come and sing solo for special occasions. I learned by watching and by attending choir. My dad sang bass and he and mom would occasionally sing in the kitchen. Every now and again my mom would sing in the morning. Did your mom sing in the kitchen as she cooked? Do you?  


The lesson of love came from my grandma. I think my mom was so stressed with five kids- (shaking my head) that love was a blur for her. Though, I think my older siblings remember a kinder and gentler mom.

The fight part, is more like the anger part. I won’t drag the person I learned these emotions from through the mud. It serves no purpose.I will say what we ALL know children learn by watching. Simple. Sad and true. If your household is a crazy screaming- run away environment, then chances are your children are picking up on how to deal with you when they become teens.

The same is true for a nurturing and loving environment. If you are patient and kind, the children will learn by modeling your behavior. Though, all 2 and 3 year olds have meltdowns, their job is to test your limits. Our job as adults is to calmly and respectfully stay grounded in our response. To guide them with controlled measures. Whatever you are doing to cope with your stress, your children will be doing as adults.
As we all are turning the corner toward the harvesting season, with fall approaching, lets keep the main question of who taught us- in the forefront of our mind.
School is starting soon, this is a challenging time, the teachers are asking- is my job worth my life? Parents are asking is my sanity worth my children's life? Who taught you, who is teaching you, all these questions are worth asking.

Much love to you as you look toward your futures path. 
(Judith teaches art at Cedarwood Elementary, Mandeville, LA.)

Monday, June 8, 2020

Woods and rivers- beyond time.

Sand dollar Love.
Original art by Judith Parsons Art. 2020.



The sun is out. Tree branches reach out over the river. The water is crystal clear and you can see the fish swimming below. 
Finally, the river is clear. 

The breeze blows and the branches sway. One leaf falls in slow motion and lands in a spiders web. The leaf dangles from that thread. Swirling a few inches above the water. A spider inspects what she has caught in her web.

The breeze blows the leaf free from the web. It lands upon the water, barely making a ripple. The spider is traveling upon the leaf boat moving away from its web. The river's current taking the leaf boat to the ocean.

I wonder, does the spider scream out to her family;  “I will be back when I can.” Does the mother of the spider sense her  sons departure? Life sort of happens like that.

 Unexpected journeys. Changes in the wind.

Lately, life has had it challenges. The virus shutting everything down and police brutality coming to a horrible tragic death. Which is awakening the world.

It is good to be awoke. Now comes the time for transformation and change. 

The trees next to the river help support the banks of the river. The river nourishes the trees. The repeating pattern of the branch is a Y shape. It makes a lovely arch when duplicated. The curvy watery pattern of the river is like a female hour glass shape. 

We are all born. We all come from a mother. And somewhere there is a momma spider calling for her son spider. Wondering where the river has taken him.

Call your momma and check in. Moms love hearing from their babies. And some babies never come home. It is beyond time to make changes. 


Thursday, May 28, 2020

Don't discard me.

Cut away pieces wanting to be made.
By Judith Parsons Art 2020

As I cut away the arch shape, there is a triangle piece of clay that sits upon the edge of my plastic covered board. They sit watching me, as I cut them away from the mother piece of clay, they see me shaping and forming another part of themselves. They wonder what they they will become.

The longer I allow them to watch the making of their sister into a form, they take on the energy of knowing what it is to be made into something.

Blankly they stare wanting to be born.

I know the trick now. If I allow them to watch the forming of their previous self, their energy builds and calls me to them.

Then they have energy which speaks loudly.

However, if I cut the clay away and discard it quickly- not giving them the chance to “know” the making of formlessness into themselves- they have no time to find their voice.

No time to find your voice. Hm. That sounds like another blog to write. I could go on for days about voice and swallowing down your words. But alas, that is not for today. (smiling sigh) Back to the clay.

I can see you now, your head cocked a little to the side, as my crazy artist thoughts seep into you. The clay speaking its wanting to be born language. Admittedly, I do not always have the time to give the clay energy it deserves and I quickly discard it.

Arch/Boat/Glass sculpture.
By Judith Parsons Art 2020
I plop it into the watery grey muck where it sinks despondently into foggy cloudy muddy silt. Its voice drowns. Its own muddy heart beating in its ears.

The top right photo is small gargoyles (as my daughter named them- waving at Margaret) thank you Dear. The larger center face can be turned around and has two faces in one. Hmmmm. Interesting.
How many faces do I have?

As my fingers start shaping the clay- as much as I try my darnest to repeat a shape- the clay speaks its own mind. It knows before I know- and viola it becomes its own shape.

It just happens.

The bottom left photo are boat arches, that will eventually hold glass as well. O have pierced the sides and bottoms so the light can shine through. What is the point of have colorful glass inside something- if the light can not shine through it?
Right? Nodding head. Right.
Keep creating sweet Luvs. Some twin steeples need some attention. Time to get on that.


Friday, May 1, 2020

A dark night in a city...

Original art created by Judith Parsons Art 2020.

If you are an NPR nerd, then there are chances you grew up listening to Garrison Keillor and his radio program. It came on Saturday night and again on Sunday morning. It was a regular thing my family did on Saturday evenings. We planned our dinner and grilling around that hour. 

I miss the ketchup advisory, “Barb, what you need is a little ketchup.” I can’t help but grin and chuckle at that line, it seemed to calm Barb down and my whole family. We laughed together. If we were traveling, the children would listen along, and they too grew up with Garrison and the fabulous characters the show brought to life. The cowboys and the famous Guy Noir. 

“A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but one man is still trying…”

Garrison is still out there sweet Luvs. He is on instagram with the writers almanac. Today he read poetry about being a little outside the box. Life was askew. And as much as the man in the poem tried to step aside to adjust his perspective, he found himself spinning and dizzy.

Life is sort of like that these days. A little dizzying. That spiral brings us to my favorite shape. The cho-ka-ray symbol of centering energy and drawing it into focus. Bring the spinning to the eye of the storm, to the quiet space place that makes life nice. That makes me smile.

Yep, -in my mind's eye- I am sitting with my feet up on my back huge porch, I am smiling at my family- and all of it is a memory. A secret room I visit where the old banjo man is grilling some ribs and the radio plays. And he smiles and says: “It looks like you need a little ketchup.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

7th Grade Blue Dog




Jacque Rodrigue reading from his father's book, wearing art created by Judith Parsons.
Photos by Chopper photography 2020.



Edited Blue Dog press release:

Cedarwood School’s 7th Grade students had their first experience with sculpting masks this past February. Their focus was George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog. They each had the opportunity to recreate the Blue Dog in their own unique vision of it, mirroring Rodrigue’s versatile use of his main icon. The children interpreted the masks into various themes: stained glass geometric, alligator, and the American Flag to name a few. Their abstract discoveries were shared with George’s son, Jacques Rodrigue. He visited the school and even tried on a mask. He spoke with the students about The George Rodrigue Art Foundation, which supports young artists in achieving their artistic dreams. 




Attentive students at Cedarwood school.
Photo by Chopper Photography 2020.




Now- the rest of the story:

Finally, I have the seed of the story, the whole Jack-in-the bean stalk story. Art is about family. The legendary George Rodrigue lives on with his son. Jacque allowed us into the storybook memories that brought the Blue Dog alive.

The real dog that inspired his famous paintings was seriously protective of George, and used to nip and bite at visitors that came into the studio. The son smiled as he reflected upon the hours his dad spent painting the Cajun history we all have come to know and love.

I have students who have artist as parents and grandparents. They proudly tell me about their granddad who sculpts and another dad who paints. Then, there are mother’s who come into the school to help decorate the hall ways for our international parade. I am blown away by their creations. They have created hanging plum tree art and waves with surf boards. All that art waits for us to come back. To replant the seeds of creativity. To plant anew again.

The time of coronavirus is a strange place of mask and protective gear. The mask art you see here isn’t trying to protect anyone from anything. Maybe it is time to make art again that celebrates the New Orleans we all know and love, to create masks of playful wonder. 

This blog is written with my seventh grade students in mind. I miss y’all! This year you rose to the challenge. You rolled up your sleeves and you stepped up and made amazing art! My first year at Cedarwood was amazing- because of y’all!


Brilliant creative masks by incredible students! Thank you 7th grade!