Beautiful Souls

‘Sara’

“I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.” 
― Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a woman of staggering beauty. Read her back story. You’ll find her even more so: Mexican Indigenous Woman, a life lived in La Casa Azul, as a child, touched by Polio, a promising medical student, disabled by a bus accident. A woman left holding a shattered dream of becoming a physician, a family facing financial ruin, a daughter whose parents referred to her as, “a dove.”

“I paint because I need to.” To escape her pain, Frida Kahlo returned to a childhood love of art. Critics suggest she was a “surrealist,” others, a “magical realist.” ‘The Frame,’ a 1938, self portrait, made her the first Mexican Indigenous artist to be featured in the Louvre. As a teacher, she directed her students to form art from the street. As a woman, she painted in order to escape residual pain and a diminished sense of self- worth. She needed to find beauty amidst tatter.

https://arthive.com/fridakahlo/works/202520~Self_Portrait_The_Frame

There is much written of the relationship between Frida and Diego Rivera, their marriage, sadly described by her parents, as “a union between an elephant and a dove.” It is told Diego was wealthy and could afford to pay her on- going medical expenses. It was certain, she could not. Viewed as a liability, Frida fought to assert her worth. Themes of pain and loss surface in her art. One is rarely born with such unique vision. It is often not a choice. It is a gift to find beauty in struggle.

Pictured above is my nod to fictitious ‘Sara’: gentle soul, brave woman. Her eyes. One look tells you enough. Eye wide open. Be cautious, Sara. The mind plays tricks. The world tempts dreamers into believing ideas are worthy, that we are all worthy, of more.

The other eye appears flat and holds a look of dark resignation. Who do you think you are, Sara?

I love ‘Sara’ for all that she is: loving mother, courageous woman, and gentle dove. I love that she dreams, quits, and restarts. I love that she doubts. You’re a bomb, Sarah. I whisper, Doves are beautiful. They make me cry. Stroking her feathers, I unlock her cage, allowing the breeze to kiss her. I tell her to fly.

My mother was a painter. She painted her stories to canvas. It was a way to bring beauty to her world. Art is made by ‘real’ artists and who can afford it, anyways? It’s a frivolous way to pass time. This was once the thought. Her wings were clipped.

I’m certainly not a painter. Should I write, aspiring painter ? This isn’t completely true. I’m not aspiring to be and I don’t like the term, ‘aspiring’ anything except a ‘better human’. It’s been years since I’ve considered painting beyond a classroom. I had told myself I could not paint, convincing myself to dismiss any thought of painting. Instead, I stood in the room and studied her. I forgot to dream. I forgot to play.

I do aspire to be a better writer. A writer who doesn’t waste a reader’s time, rather an author who gently gut punches for authenticity. This is why I acquiesce and use the term ‘aspiring’ on several spots. To remind myself to keep putting thoughts down, word by word, to improve my craft. To remain humble. To dream.

I am a teacher and a woman. Some days, I have no idea. Pandemic times have pushed me to evolve, reflect, to sit with stories in progress, to read the words of others. These times, touch me, too. I see images, feel pain, worry. I hold to hope. Should I dare to dream?

We should be a bit ‘Frida’. We should dream and do. Instead, we question worth. We judge the worth of others. We should stop. If you write, you’re a writer. If you paint, be a painter. If you can’t sing, hum. Do it because you need to.

The finest writers and artists, especially those who have suffered mountainous loss, have received a gift. They have an ability to touch us, to leave us speechless and frozen in our tracks. The great ones bring us to our knees. Art should elicit powerful emotion. We cry lyrics, bleed words, slip along the stroke of a brush on canvas. Later, we wonder. We relate. We atone. We are silenced by beauty in any form.

Frida Kahlo is a beautiful woman, not solely based upon her exotic looks. Rather, she was brave. A candle whose wick of pain lit up, producing epic art. A soul of self- forged steel. More than a dependant dove, she reflected back as a woman of worth, separate from cultural norms, soldiering pain. She dared to dream. A brave act during a time in history when a woman’s artistic passion was viewed as a, ‘hobby,’ supported mainly by men of financial worth. An era, whereby, a woman with physical disabilities was viewed as less attractive, even burdensome. Frida Kahlo dared to dream because life handed her a gift she didn’t ask for. She fought the establishment. This is a courageous stand to take at any time in history.

Art in any form, teaches us about the resiliency and beauty of the human spirit. It can sprout from pain with shoots of tender, fierce resolve.

She’s in us.

•https://www.fridakahlo.org

Pandemic Painting #7

folkart

‘Sara’

Be Kind

There is nothing as beautiful as kindness. Little actions, big shifts. A split second smile. An incidental text. A hand reaching out to take another. Sacrifice.

Kindness is treasure in ruin, found between layers of pause and possibility. Everyone carries one story. Be there. Listen. Let it bring you to your knees. Imagine a Dove, how its tiny heart pounds as wings take flight. Hope rises from ash.

Life is crazy and Butterflies emerge. There is mercy in mess. Mumbled prayers are answered. Whisper, “Hallelujah.”

Be the light home.

There is nothing as beautiful as kindness.

“Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe”

-Dr. Bonnie Henry

COVID19, Write, Kindness

Beauty surrounds us. It’s a found nest, tossed from the trunk of an old oak. It’s innocence and a lack of sophistication. It’s crocus shoots breaking through frosted hardpan or a child’s scribbled note. It’s a falling star and the crush of rose. It’s kisses and rain, the words of a poet.

It’s simple and magnificent as most true things are.

The succulent, dressed in a paper bag. The discarded nest, a home for moss covered bulbs. Titanium snow and Magenta blossoms. It’s birdsong at dawn and the scribbled note you framed. It’s the hive of memories you keep.

~I See Flowers And Smile

You asked if I remembered.

I said, “Not sure.”

The truth? I never forgot. How to forget the moment I stood on the edge of reason: to leave, to stay.

Your smile lit the world. Wherever you are, I hope the sun is shining.

When winter calls, pause and recall my loving arms, wrapped ’round you, like a blanket.

I held on too tight.

As rain falls, be still. Sit with forgotten memories. Let them needle into skin: tiny, tattooed moments that ended, far too soon. We could have made it.

This is why we love. This is how we learn.

~ Annie

As December blows near, you hear it whisper, “Go. Find the magic.” As the temperature drops, you find yourself choosing people and moments to warm spirit and heart. You wonder if magic truly does exist.

It’s as simple as coffee with a friend, an impromptu gathering, or an hour spent wandering the holiday aisle. It’s soy wax, melted and poured into glass salmon jars. It’s a phone call, or a message that reads, I’m thinking of you. It’s holding your mother’s hand.

She looks at the basket, filled with moss and bulbs, and asks, “When did orchids become so intimidating?”

You smile, knowing, she speaks the truth. Direct and honest, her words make sense. The scale has changed to bigger, more, and most. You wonder, too.

December softens us. We’re captured by nostalgia, pulled deeper into self reflection. Sparkling lights, tree tops stacked outside the hardware store, woodland ornaments, hung from a rack, stir memories: beautiful and sad. We long for that which is simple and true. We wonder.

There’s beauty in sorrow. It’s a shivering soul, asleep on cement, as a stranger tucks a blanket. It’s a late night phone call followed by tears. It’s a sunlit morning, an outside invitation, a rogue stratus cloud. Staged and still, the cloud opens. Snowflakes tumble, soft and raw. You glance up, as cold, warms your cheek. You stand alone and wonder.

In a wordless moment, you’re struck by gentle force. It is a presence, which you can’t explain, an unwavering comfort. You are certain.

It’s ‘Bambi’, watched wide- eyed, as a child. Midnight and a mother. She slumps and straightens. Her fingers feed velvet cloth through a machine, determined, as she forms a dress for her daughter’s doll.

Years later, seated in a wheel chair, she will speak of an exact moment and comment, “All I ever wanted was to be a great mother, to own a dog, and have a home.”

You take her hand. You say she is the best mother and remind her of all the beautiful memories and simple moments you witnessed sacrifice. You understand that love is kind, and speak of lost December’s surprise: father attaching a cedar and candy cane wreath to the front door, the anticipation of gathered family. Minutes later, a Cadillac pulls to the curb. Doors swing wide. The Great Aunts, alight. One plucks a cane from the wreath and winks. Patent heels click. Furs drop. Joy dances through the rooms. Later, two children, dressed in velvet, snuggle in mink. In another room, ‘Julie London’ plays on the stereo. Crystal clinks.

December is an opportunity to dust off the crystal and turn the vinyl. It’s the pause in a busy day, to hold space, for another. It’s the month to remember and reunite. Our mission: collective goodwill and a promise to lift love above hate. It’s the season to resurrect your inner child, to believe the impossible is possible, and to honour wonder.

I will say this: You left a bird with a broken wing.

On that day, life, as I had known it, ended. Red lights seemed eternal. Sad lyrics left me raw. This was the beginning of what you would conjure.

Silence became a lover and the ocean, his touch. I learned to feel without words. I came late to understanding: all that we take, all that we do, ebbs and flows, a Karmic cocktail, a tsunami of emotion.

Perhaps, you did not disappear in such an unholy manner. Could it be you remain, waiting to be found, amongst the stones scattered at my feet?

TBC

~ Annie

Draft