Words Bite – Do the Feelings Remain? NaBloPoMo Day 14

by Sheila Finkelstein on August 2, 2009

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Carl W. Buechner

Once again, Sam comes up. I hope he forgot what I said and forgot how I made him feel in the moment.  When I screamed and yelled and cursed, he hated the “f” word. He felt like “sh” I know.  Sometimes he said it.  So the feeling was there.  And, thankfully, I think he did forget how I made him feel in those moments or he wouldn’t have been able to put up with it.

I’ll rest in peace and he is too, I’m sure, knowing that most of the feelings he would never forget are those of being loved and cherished, as was I, most of our times together,  throughout our 47 1/2 years of marriage.

If we worry about everything we say, it can be very stifling. On the other hand, a good practice always is to think before we speak.  Though we may not think about the feelings, if we ask ourselves, “Will this make a difference?”,  it  will, obviously, have an effect on feelings.

4 minute writing – 10/21/08 – eleven months after Sam’s death. – What had surfaced in response to that quote were the memories of my anger. When I was in the midst of them, unfortunately, nothing else mattered. And, I was truly blessed that Sam understood, and accepted, what was going on with me during those moments.


The Fatigue of Searching – NaBloPoMo Day 13

by Sheila Finkelstein on August 1, 2009

You are wearing yourself out with all this searching. Go home and rest.” Oriah

Searching, searching, searching… well discovery anyway. That’s the juice of my life. It’s only when I’m consciously, purposefully, I think, searching for answers that I get worn out. Well maybe it’s the second and third searching that’s the ‘wearing out” part. It’s the initial searching… the being open to discovery that’s the excitement for me.

No That’s not accurate also. The excitement for me comes from discovering something new, unexpectedly, spontaneously. Therein lies my joy. Then sometimes I might search for answers let’s say on Google. For a while that’s fun. New discoveries and after a while truth be told it does get “wearing.” “Wearing”…do I actually put any of the stuff on as clothes?

Let me look momentarily at “go home and rest”. Where is that home? What is that rest? Home to myself. Simply being accepting and reveling in the joy of discovery. There is the “rest” – the “home.”

Note – Written 4-07-09, not all that long ago and reading it now is a reminder for me that sometimes all the “searching” I do is the “wearing-out”, “fatiguing” part… Sometimes the “rest” is simply “letting go” and accepting what is.


In earlier posts I’ve written how I have used Haiku,letters to the editor and writing from prompts, all as means to gain control over anger. Interestingly, though I am a visual artist, currently using my photography to inspire people to see things newly and in ways they’ve missed, when I am in the depths of a strong emotion, I immediately go to writing. Some of my most profound work has been written at such times.

When I taught Art in an elementary school, I worked from a cart, moving from classroom to classroom. My supplies and cart, when not in use, shared space in one of the school storage closets. Because I used a lot of different materials, my space in the closet was not always neat.

One day, on my way out to a graduate class, I passed the principal by the front entrance. I must have made some comment about the closet, for she stated, “A bomb can go off in your closet and no one would be any the worse for it!” I immediately became furious and ended up handling my rage by writing out at every red light on the way to my class. The following, turned out actually to be an expression of my life and still is what I stand for today.

I wrote:

or, A Philosphy of Life

What’s a piece of cardboard?

It’s the base of a sculpture, or an
integral part of one.
It’s the support for an assemblage;
A cardboard loom for weaving.

It has form, or it is flat.
It’s a surface to work on–
To build a mask; to rest a tray as
plaster is poured;
To keep work safe, as it is moved from place to place.
It’s a support for the paper on which notes
are taken at a museum, on which observations
are drawn.

Skin it. See the corrugation.
Use it for line or texture in a collage.
Cut it with scissors.
Roll it.
Attach it.
Tape it. Glue it.
Build with it.
What more is it?

That is up to you.
You may make discoveries as yet unknown.
I am not the possessor of all knowledge,
all ideas.
I can be the source from which you can get help

to develop your own ideas, your
individuality, your uniqueness.

If I can, I will provide the materials that will
help you make your discoveries, to suggest
alternate possibilities if I can’t.
When you need it, I hope it is on hand.

All of my knowledge is available to you–
all of my expertise.

I hope that these experiences will help
you to use things frugally, with originality;
That sometimes when you are sparked
with an idea
You remember and are aware of potentials
and alternatives.

Pass a pebble, a rock, a shell, a leaf–
A new and different shape (real or in your mind)
Look at it. Touch it. Turn it over.
Return it to its home if you wish,
Or, let it send your mind and fingers flying
in a drawing or a painting.
Use it in a collage.

What’s a feather, a piece of cloth, a strange
shape, a can of nails, a box of scrap wood?

That’s up to you, my dear friend. . .
Up to you to collage your life a rich and vibrant one.

© 1977, 2002 Sheila Bakely Finkelstein

(Note – If you are wondering what happened insofar as the principal was concerned, I placed the typed poem on her desk the next morning before classes started. She never mentioned it to me AND she also never spoke to me about the closet.)


Inner vision is perhaps the greatest change catalyst that the world has ever known.”  Diarsmid O’Murchu

Inner Vision – 2 words could be one word like television.  One Word – a screen into which we can look and see the secrets of our soul – a clear flat panel for fast moving pictures.  Could be delights and also could be nightmares.  I see now a sonogram with a moving baby.  Didn’t have those in my time, at least not for general use.

Inner Vision separated brings more of a mental-sensory thing/experience to me – a kind of intuition.  Innervision – we can see with our eyes.

Inner – coming from within.  Vision – coming from without – Can be a different experience.  I’m actually getting confused here.  Mixing up metaphors and combining things; a tendency of mine, to wander, mix, get off track.  Not sure I want to stay here, blocking out things I don’t want to see.

It is ok to turn off the innervision screen.  Needs rest sometimes.  Don’t we all?  And perhaps that is when the INNER VISION is the strongest – at Peace – a blank canvas, screen, that is!


In the moment, sometimes the only way to find out what it is I want to do is go ahead and do something. Then the moment I start to act my feelings become clear.” Hugh Prather

This quote so sums up my life which almost always seems to be the act of creation. How well I know that all it takes to get me out of a slump is simple action – out of my head and the rights and wrongs that smack themselves around there, along with the dos and don’ts and shoulds and shouldn’ts. Anything, it doesn’t matter.

The act of taking a miniscule, seemingly infinitesimal, step is sufficient to light a path to wherever, whatever. It doesn’t matter. It’s the moving forward that sets in all in motion. The excitement comes. It builds and whole new things open up. Sometimes, not always, and it’s enough, more than enough, sometimes great – Yes, Picture to Ponder, the little girl sculpture on my table – so much more – my life.

written 1/29/08 – Free flow, timed writing to a quote and

Interestingly tonight, 7/28/09 , Dan Millman, The Peaceful Warrior, stated on a conference call that yes, it’s important to pay attention to our feelings AND to focus on our actions, moment to moment, what we need to do next and act.


Writing to Connect to Ourselves – NaBloPoMo Day 9

by Sheila Finkelstein on July 28, 2009

CONNECTION – “When I connect from my heart to my soul to you and to the paper, what I feel is. . .”

Peace and a way to move on.. move on from my thoughts, the jumble in my brain, perhaps the anxiety in my heart, in my body;

the tension which tightens across the bridge of my nose, clenches my teeth, tightens my jaw – all magically disappear;

I “know” all this. Why don’t I remember and move it out, let it flow freely, keep it going ongoingly?
(Starting quote is another from a course with Julie Jordan Scott, a few years ago. Above was written then, below now.)

The answer to freedom –
Remember the pen to the paper, the keys on the keyboard, tapping, bursting forth with symbols on my monitor. Therein are the connections, the openings.


Where your power and the needs of the world cross, there lies your calling.” Aristotle

So many talents have I, my dilemma, my sticking point. “Where are the needs of the world that are wanting to be fulfilled by which of my talents?”

What comes up now, as I write, is “beauty”. “Everyone wants beauty,” so my friends tell me. I see “beauty in the ordinary”, “the extraordinary”, everywhere. And I suppose, when I start seeing that as an unfulfilled need for people, I can market accordingly and feel my power, my calling.

I hear my mastermind buddies yelling “yea”, as I write, for they tell me this all the time I think right now it’s simply that I’m suddenly seeing it a fraction differently, as a place where I can stand, from which I can come.

Interestingly in a way it all also fits with the Pollyanna in me. She, above Nancy Drew, was my favorite childhood heroine, or book anyway. Maybe Pollyanna precede Nancy in my age scale. Pollyanna’s talent for seeing the good in everything is what became, I think, an underlying pathway for me to live my life.

(And so, once more, timed writing from a prompt has given me an opening. Is that not what healing is about? Creating new openings?)


Timed writing (usually 4 minutes each from quotes) in my weekly writing group has been an important part of the healing process for me. The  healing I refer to today is that of mourning the loss of my beloved Sam (and still mourning 1 3/4 years later). In my commitment to post daily here, I will start sharing some of my Tuesday writings from released by the quotes suggested by group members.

I invite you to do your own timed responses, if you are so moved.

“Truly it is in the darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow then this light is nearest to us.”
Meister Eckhardt

“Darkness” and “Light”.  I guess my deepest darkness is the passing of my beloved Sam.  How can there be light in that?  And yet the quote says “in the sorrow the light is nearest to me.”

So, my Beloved, were you nearer to me in those dark days of November, December, January?  Perhaps.  Though most of the time it showed up as pain.

Don’t know that I thought of particular darkness.  And, now, does this mean that as I move from sorrow to acceptance, though the “missing” is always there – that there will be no light for me, since the quote says “the light is nearest to us when we are in sorrow”?  Maybe the light is moving toward and into me.  Thus it’s an inner whole being thing, not an outer proximity.

You always will be with me, my Darling.  You were the light that lit me and moved my life.  Inside of me that will always remain and be.  (written 4/28/08 )


In previous posts here I’ve written about Haiku writing as a means of gaining control when angry and I’ve written about Morning Pages and free flow writing from prompts. There is also “letter writing”. Often simply the act of writing a letter expressing feelings, then tearing them up, never sending them is more than sufficient for healing.

This morning I was reminded that “Letters to the Editor” of our newspapers is also another access to freely expressing ourselves, powerfully so, when there is a point rather than the act of simply “venting.”

Writing to my local newspaper was something I did quite frequently many years ago when I was involved in my community both in library organization and then when I was teaching art in the public schools in my town. Mostly they were to inform.

The particular letter I thought of today that’s the seed for this post was one I wrote during an election campaign for our local Board of Education, particularly volatile with one candidate who was president of the Board, or became president. I probably still have the letter, written more than 40 years ago.

One of the main phrases that I recall was my statement that “[he – the candidate] was doing nothing but throwing empty phrases to brew a burning cauldron of hostilities.”

During that same time period, I went back to college to get my degree in Fine Arts Education. Painting and Drawing was the first Art course I took. My professor, recently retired, had mostly criticism for whatever I produced. Toward the end of the semester she told me my “work lacked emotion” and I “should drop out of school and join a local guild to satisfy my housewifely ambitions!”

Anger flared and I immediately thought of the above-mentioned letter to the editor. “That was certainly FULL of emotion!” I went home grabbed a masonite board, a newspaper, paints, glue and match sticks and put together an assemblage – painting the fire and the cauldron, filling it with “hate” and other “anger” and “war” words cut from the newspaper, adding the matches to reinforce the fire.

Burning Cauldron of Hostilities

I proceeded to bring it into the next class. I don’t recall what her response to it was. What I did realize years later was that, in fact, this piece did not convey the emotion of the feelings. What I had done was illustrate the seething emotions that had been behind the expressive words in the “letter to the editor”. Also, I still find it interesting that although I am known as a visual artist when it comes to expressing emotions I immediately go to words and writing. (The emotions expressed in my art, mainly my photography, come from a whole different, unidentified, subconscious level. )

Words of Anger and Hate in the Cauldron

Words in the Burning Cauldron of Hostilities

A close-up of the words, headlined in my newspapers in the late 60’s, used in the collage. I find it interesting observing now that the only word I cut up was “hate”, used three times.

In conclusion, several forms of self-expression were covered here. What is and are yours? If anything has opened up for you from my experiences described here, I’d love to read them in the comments here. Thank you.

(Note for those who may be curious about what happened insofar as “dropping out of school”: I did take the next semester off and then went back. I did not think one had to be a good or great artist to be an effective art teacher. Having stopped attending school board meetings, where I might be likely to speak out and ruffle feathers, I did get a job teaching art in the elementary school in my district where I taught for six years.

Thirty years later, an email from a former student attests to my having made the right decision! There were also many letters to the editor and School Board from parents and teachers when my teaching position was eliminated due to decline in enrollment.)

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Love is Like Candy Kisses – NaBloPoMo – Day 5

by Sheila Finkelstein on July 24, 2009

Yesterday, I mentioned that my friend and mentor Julie Jordan Scott is Introducing the Summer Writing Intensive Creativity Camp (at Home or wherever you happen to be).  Today I’m going through old notebooks and I am reminded of how much Julie has contributed to my life.  It was in her courses, in free flow responses to simple writing prompts, and subsequent sharings, that I gained confidence in my own voice with a willingness to be public myself.

Since I’ve been writing about “love” directly, or as an underpinning, in most of the posts here thus far, I thought I’d share my response four years ago to Julie’s, “What questions does love ask?” ” What responses do I give to love?”

I wrote:

Love is like candy kisses waiting to be unwrapped – the paper string pulled out, the crinkled foil, the doubts peeled away

The little chocolate kiss, in its love full and tapered shape, eagerly awaits to be tasted.

Sometimes many mindlessly devoured at once, all fulfilling their life purpose.

How much richer is it when each bit of the morsel of love is tasted and ripened?

Love is like an adventure – sometimes delicious, sometimes painful.