Tag Archives: Family and friends

Just Ask an Old Person: Signs and Messages from Carson McCullers

IMG_5177I recently visited the home of one of my favorite authors, Carson McCullers, in Columbus, GA

I read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers around the time my family moved to Georgia. When I found out that she attended my new high school, Columbus High School (a beautiful brick 1890′s building, set on a hill) and had been born and raised in Columbus, I was thrilled. I’d walk the halls of the old school, with it’s solid wooden floors, thinking of how she had also walked on the very same wood, gazed out the very same windows watching the trees  shimmer in the sun.  But one thing kept annoying me. In Heart is a Lonely Hunter, there are Greek characters, and a Greek diner and I never saw anything of that sort in Columbus–nothing Greek anywhere! It bothered me any time I thought of Carson McCullers since high school days. I figured she added the Greek diner part into the novel once she had relocated in her early twenties, to New York City where there are plenty of Greek diners. Then something very interesting happened. Last year, before traveling to see my parents in a retirement community in Columbus, I thought again about the Greek characters in McCuller’s novel and it seemed in-authentic since Columbus is not a magnate for Greek immigrants as far as I know, and never was. I carried on the conversation in my head about how it didn’t fit in, and why did she write something that wasn’t quite truly true to Columbus as a setting for the novel?

When I arrived at my parent’s retirement community, everyone was in the dining hall. It was lunch time. I was seated with my parents beside a quiet, sweet-faced gentleman with a kindly twinkle in his eyes.  It was pleasant enough chatting about nothing in particular with retired strangers and I thought how easy it is in our society to dismiss elderly people. Looking out at all the wheelchairs and gray hair, I thought to myself that I could sit silently, disinterested, but that seemed wrong. So I decided to ask the twinkle-eyed man questions. I asked him where he was from (Alabama was his answer). I asked about his wife, wondering, was she also from Alabama. “My wife was Greek,” he said. I was stunned, but even more so when he said, “Her Greek immigrant father ran the best restaurant in Columbus!” With absolute delight and a serious chill down my neck, with the compelling feeling of the presence of Carson McCullers hovering over us, chuckling, I asked plenty more questions! Yes, the Greek restaurant was in downtown Columbus, and yes his wife’s family knew Carson McCullers, her father’s jewelry shop was nearby, and she grew up coming into the Greek restaurant. Well, blow me down. I was utterly floating on air the rest of the day. I smile now, thinking of McCullers dwelling in the Other Side, straightening out these things for us down here.

Even more recently, reveling in this new found information, telling my sister and brother-in-law about it, we took a drive by the McCullers home, now set up as a museum, in Columbus. As we pulled up to look at the house, we noticed the front door was wide open. And we met a care-taker of the museum who just happened to stop by to check on something, and of course she invited us in. I felt like Carson herself opened that door for me!

IMG_5163My sister in front of the Carson McCullers home in Columbus, Ga. The door was wide open.

 

A Recent Spirit Painting: Springing into a New Life

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A recent commissioned Spirit Painting/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2014

In this recent commissioned Spirit Painting, I felt the feeling of great creative energy, a sense of the new based on past knowledge gained, and of working with a spiritual openness. The gift of nature bringing a wisdom and feeling of security, in that life renews time and time again, also came forth in this one.

 

Intuitive Stream Drawing: Love and Creating the Future

This is a detail taken from a recent intuitive stream drawing, and below that I colored it in so you could see how I saw it:

StreamDraw_penguin1_0001 StreamDraw_penguin2

In a recent intuitive stream drawing reading, on the far right of the drawing (done in meditation with my eyes closed) I saw what to me looked like a penguin with an egg. Male penguins do take care of the eggs and it made me feel inwardly that for this client, talking about partnerships and love relationships and caring for children might be very important. Of course there are many other ways to interpret this image, but I went with what felt most powerful for me. Whenever I see an egg shape, I think of it as potential not yet hatched, great things to come within a person–wonderful strengths to realize. It turned out that this topic of partnerships and children, in particular raising children, was of the utmost concern to this client. The day after her reading session, she told me that as a matter of fact, she has loads of penguin images in her house for this very reason–the wish and desire to have a mate who will join in the raising of a child. I thought that synchronicity was a thrilling thing! It confirmed for me that somehow, at our finger tips, through drawing, we can discover and explore what matters to us and find ways to support one another.  (This intuitive drawing technique is available to anyone who is interested. MAKING MARKS: Discover the Art of Intuitive Drawing will be out in May!).

Is Your Dog in Heaven?

Planty_heavenDetail from Plantagenet in Heaven  copyright 2013 Elaine Clayton

He was with me, we were on a flying carpet, flying about 7th floor level through New York City, we could see into apartments, my dog and I. And one person, a young woman in her twenties, was delighted to see us as we flew on soft air currents by her window at eye level to her. Plantaganet was beside me, as he had been for so many years. Sometimes now I think I feel him  beside me, in dreams and during moments when I least expect it.

If you’ve had a pet that is no longer on earth, have this pet appeared to you in dreams or visions or in other ways? I’d love to hear about hit. They all go straight up to heaven, we know it.

 

Born of the Moon

IMG_1766Detail from a commissioned Spirit Painting Elaine Clayton copyright 2011

“You are a crown of glory for those who are borne in the womb, for they, like you, are destined to be renewed.” (Traditional Jewish blessing honoring the waxing moon)

 

Making Marks as a Gift to Self and Others

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The unfinished galley of my new book due out in May, MAKING MARKS

Whenever I read Near Death Experiences, I think of what a powerful teacher a  ”life review” is. Life reviews are common in many of NDEs. This is when you see your entire life as a movie, either every scene or very important ones, and you not only see yourself interacting with others, you feel everything the other people around you were feeling. People who experience this say that they re-emerge (after becoming conscious again) with so much more compassion and concern for others and it helps them love life more. Another thing I often read is that such NDE experiences make people want to live life to the fullest, appreciating each moment.

This new book of mine coming out in May is an expression of so much of what I love about life because the book’s truest message is about empathy for others and living life to the fullest —creative self-expression combined with empathy, for me, is the ultimate way to LOVE each moment of every day!  We make our marks, we live and interact, and if we can create while we support and love others, what could be better?  (I want to have a life-review, when I leave the earth, that I could feel good about, and all that matters is loving others and creating and generating good things, even if learning to be truly loving is not easy, I want to be better as each day goes by.)

My wish for the New Year is to develop more empathy and be more creative, knowing that the creative expression of others is a great gift to me and to celebrate that with every breath I take.

The Spirit of Life in All Things

Ken’s Spirit  copyright Elaine Clayton 2013

Life is sacred, when we engage with it as sacred. Every leaf, every speck is full of vibrance–the Spirit of Life is everywhere. I painted this thinking of my brother Ken and his richly poetic way of weaving words and images and stories into visions of humorous and life-enhacing awareness.  He has inspired me and many to recognize the living spirit in my surroundings.

Life’s a Beach! Using Drawing to Develop Intuitiion

Detail from a recent intuitive stream drawing reading/ copyright Elaine Clayton 2013

In a recent visual-intuitive meditation, using drawing to access intuitive knowledge (I share this method in my book, MAKING MARKS: Discover the Art of Intuitive Drawing/Simon and Schuster/Beyond Words due out in May), I saw in a past position, a figure with the #2 (see in brown color) which to me signifies “daughter” or sisterhood, as well as some other associations. A beach scene appeared. All the associations of beachiness (not a real word, but it works here!) came to mind: the feeling of recreation, childhood dreams and sunny days. There is a large wave approaching, which didn’t feel scary, but more like the way life moves us on, away from our carefree days and into the rest of life. I enjoyed coloring in this beach scene, but it is only one way to perceive the shapes and lines. When sharing this with the client, it resonated for her in that she had many beach memories and it gave her a chance to see ways in which the good times in life were stored within her, no matter what else life brought (amongst other meanings that came to her).

Would You Be a Mary or a Martha?

Mary and Martha/ painted sketch/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2013

I am studying Torah and taking Hebrew and LOVE IT. I recently had an exchange with the very brilliant Jewish scholar and author of several books, including The Jewish Annotated New Testament, Amy-Jill Levine.  Her work helps bridge a gap of misunderstanding between two traditions that spring from the same source, Judaism and Christianity. Her concentration and love of this study has improved how we see and read the New Testament and I am so grateful that she dedicated herself to it for everyone’s benefit. I was recently called a “Bridge Person” myself by a rabbi and I think I am that, actually having had a meditation recently where I am on a bridge that connects the two religions. When I asked Ms. Levine what she liked most in the NT, one was the story of Mary and Martha.  I admit that I have to actually study it myself to see what I think of it, but I enjoyed painting Mary as she is on her way to see Jesus while her sister Martha remains behind preparing food.  I would probably relate more to Mary as I’m not always enthralled with preparing food, but am getting better as time goes by.

Post Traumatic Stress and Art

Elaine Clayton copyright 2011

You can relieve symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress through creating art. I don’t say that as an authority on PTSD, but as an artist and person. I’ve experienced first hand the healing power of creative play, drawing and art making in general, as a way to “just be” and to feel calm.

It is a year after Hurricane Sandy and one of my sons and I still get a physically ill feeling when we drive anywhere near the house we had to rent briefly during the hurricane (we were safe there, and luckily didn’t get the rental BY THE BEACH which would have made it all much worse since all those homes flooded, but we still loathed the place we were in–think moth balls and too much porcelain and glass—and were freezing for the entire week after the hurricane). My only answer is to create. My son instinctively longed for and started building models this weekend, saying he loved, “peace and quiet” while putting the models together. I am in the studio making art to let the ptsd of that time drift away. Bless all those who still do not have their home life or housing resolved, and bless those who valiantly advocate for them!