Susan Farewell inspires me. In my mind, I see her as a kind of iconic Travel Dynamo: tall, Swedish and dashing off to anywhere on earth, or the moon maybe. I asked her to contribute to Illuminara by telling me what inspired her to become a person who roams the globe and writes about it in well-known publications. Now that she has started her own (fabulous) on-line travel magazine, I really wanted to create a drawing of her in her favorite spot. Her daughter Justine is featured here, also, in front of the Acropolis Erechtheum statues in Greece. (Justine has her own column in FarewellTravels.com (find the link below) and writes with insight and such a poetic sincerity.) This is how Susan describes her journey in life as a travel writer:
“My passion for travel (and writing about it) started when I was a college student, studying the Greek Classics in Greece for a year. I was very moved by the history as well as the modern culture of the all the countries in the Mediterranean region including Greece, Italy, Egypt and Turkey. I loved traveling to see the antiquities in these areas, but also to meet the local residents.While living over there, I think I mastered the art of writing concise travel stories. I wrote countless postcards and aerograms (those thin blue paper letters they no longer use) to friends and family back home. It became a personal challenge to describe what I saw and experienced in as few words as possible. Each word had to earn its place on the page. I didn’t allow myself cliches and redundancies.
“This huge economy of words came in very handy when I started working as a travel editor at Conde Nast Publications in New York City. As you know, magazine writing (in the last twenty years) has been all about writing short punchy, articles. And now–with the online media writing I do–it’s even shorter.
“The biggest challenge of travel writing is that it’s NOT fiction. A great deal of research goes into even the shortest travel piece. Not only do I travel to the place, but I have to learn about its people, its past, its current situation, etc. And at the same time, I have to tell a story. Travel writing is all about telling stories and inspiring people to go places.”
Illuminara note: To be inspired and to make some travel destination wishes come true, enjoy traveling on the internet to FarewellTravels.com
The weather was beautiful yesterday, so I was elated to be out in the breeze, under the sun with the sea glistening. The dogs were out, full of personality, socializing. There were a lot of people taking pictures of their dogs (and of their kids, too). As I sketched children frolicking and dogs roaming happily, I overheard a few of the people taking pictures say things like, “Maybe this picture will be our holiday card.” To see more Westport Sketchbook drawings of people and dogs at the beach , go to www.westportnow.com.
I don’t know if this is a premonition, it could be very symbolic, but it was a graphic and strange dream I had last night. A friend was down near a beach, where the children were playing. She called to us. The children called to my children. As I walked down toward the play structure in the evening light, stars visible in the sky, I saw what looked like a hologram image looming large right there in the sky. It felt like a governmental sort of power, using the sky now as a page for announcements. There was a colorful map showing, and then it switched, silently (they hadn’t figured out yet how to get the sky to talk to us or broadcast across the land in sound) to new images. I said,”Hey, that’s not how the sky is supposed to look.” I didn’t want to see those images, I wanted to see the stars.
I decided to go on location in Westport today with my sketchbook. I found Officer Ryan standing in the light rain, making sure shoppers could cross the road safely on Main Street. A young man who was playing the saxophone in the alcove hallway at Acqua, made beautiful music. Westporter’s were generous to this musician from Norwalk (who told me his name is Eric Pierce) as I noted most passers-by dropped coins or bills into his can. A few kids who like to draw came up and talked to me, too, which was another wonderful feature of this gray day for me.
I long to experience the spiritually majestic on earth. It is easy to imagine that must be experienced in some non-physical way, as though our bodies are a hindrance to spiritual radiance. Yet, often this “God is here on earth” bliss is felt through our physical experiences as we follow our true inner wishes. For example, one of my life long wishes is to be on horseback as often as possible, and when I get to see my dream realized, something magical happens. To capture this, I have taken my sketch book to horse barns many times. Anticipation charges the air. The beauty of the horses in movement, and the people in movement in concert with the horses is so electrifying and compelling for me. On this occasion, a 5 year old girl was so excited to get to ride! Her anticipation while she waited to mount was obvious in her body language. The horse and how he felt waiting to be tacked up was somewhat telling.
Once they were in physical contact, child and horse, her anticipation to ride turned into anticipation to feel like best friends with her steed (all riders long for this, which means getting your moves and the horse’s moves so connected that horse and rider feel blissful and air born and as though all is right with the entire universe). For me, watching the instructor then becomes another beautiful sight, as the space between horse and rider and instructor becomes a dynamically charged negative space, changing moment by moment. The horse feels and interprets his mount’s commands, yet watches for cues from the vigilant instructor. The rider has excitement bordering on fear while she communicates with her potential best friend, and the instructor on the ground keeps everything flowing. (Meanwhile, I’m anticipating as each moment goes by, hoping to faithfully capture the majestic physicality of it all, and there is a bliss I’ll feel if it happens.)
This is a portrait of Governor John Endecott, which hangs in the hallway of The Old State House in Boston. He is my mother’s nine-times great grandfather. He was appointed as first Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, having arrived aboard the Abigail in 1628. You had to be a Puritan to endure the harshness of those times, the cold, miserable weather and the hardship of establishing a new society in New England in winter. I greatly admire that, but doubt I’d handle being that cold and hungry. My mother’s mother was stoic and resilient, carrying the cell memory and conditioning perhaps of her Endecott lineage. She was not materialistic at all, and was a life long caretaker of my aunt who was born with cerebral palsy. My grandmother had the serious fortitude of her Puritan-Quaker forebears. I am thankful to my mother for also passing down these traits. I tend to be more goofy, though, and noticed (and put in my sketchbook) the striking (and fun!) resemblance of my mother to the governor. All I had to do was add a goatee and, wow, she looks a lot like him!
I cannot stop thinking about the glorious weekend, the weekend of my sister’s wedding to her true love. The Hindu wedding ceremony was one of the most beautiful ceremonies I’ve ever seen. It defines the word “behold”, because somehow, the sacred Hindu wedding ceremony creates a multi-sensory blessing which you feel you continue to hold not just in your mind, but in your being for days afterward. Everything about it was magical. The chanting of ancient Sanskrit, the flowers, incense and bells, the spices and fire. There is so much for me to learn about all of these symbols. Not knowing exact meanings or reasons for each ritual did not matter, because the experience of being a part of it was so magnificent, I still feel bathed in the light of this holy ritual. Something else lingers as well. That is the beauty of my sister and her Prince, and his entire family. His sister is very beautiful and a most loving, fun and intelligent person anyone would want to have for a friend or sister. His parents are kind and full of fortitude, his mother was especially generous and patient, spending over an hour putting everyone’s sari on for the wedding (most of us had no clue how to do this). Our families blended together with real joy for this occasion, and I will never forget it. Friends who were present made this wedding richer still. All I can say is the entire weekend, the preparation before the ceremony and the ceremony itself, and the celebrations after, felt like being in timeless and brilliant warm light. And I still feel it!
My sister Julie also known as J.K. and called “Jules” or “Jewels” is getting married this weekend. Years ago, my other sister, DeAnne and I, were trying to be psychic and both had visions which now seem to have been premonitions. DeAnne dreamed of Jewels being with two friends from India. I meditated and was surprised to see Krishna. I am hoping to find the sketchbook entry on this so I can find it for Jewels to keep. As it turns out, she is marrying Moe, her sweet love, in a Hindu blessing ceremony. We’re all thrilled for J.K. and Moe, and to send blessings of great love and beauty to the couple, I have made this special Krishna sketch for them.
A few years ago I had a wonderful dream I was walking in an urban landscape. A pleasant city, very futuristic. I was walking up the steps to the library, which was attached to the museum in this city. With each step I took on the great outdoor staircase, a single tone sounded from steam pipes beyond. When more than one person went up and down, a melody sounded and resonated across the city scape with each step on the staircase. It was a most healing and soothing music, gentle piping. It was subtle. It did not add to noise levels which can be harsh in a city environment, rather it made me in the dream rise up into an awareness of the beauty of people in a city environment. I would love to see such a thing designed and created.
I’m picturing the H1N1 virus being contained and blasted with light of all kinds toward healing. This sketchbook entry is the start of making the visualizations on paper. I’m imagining the sickness being absorbed by powerful, warm light. As this meditation increases, I’ll sketch what I see!