Saturday, December 21, 2013

Solstice Greetings 2014

Greetings of the Season!
As I approach 60, I have learned enough to be qualified to give advice so here it is:

Don’t wait to go after what you want.
Be determined, endure through the disappointments, the losses, the rejections. Learn from them, then let them go. The pruned tree yields more fruit.

Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Be bold. Don’t wait to speak up until you must. Misunderstandings happen, they come and go but the courage of your willingness to say what is on your mind will linger.

Be gentle with all living things. If the truth might hurt, be kind.

Be sweet with praise. Be generous with celebration, whenever the chance rolls your way.
Be lit up with gratitude.

Honor the beauty and imperfection of this world. Practice the art of kintsugi: a Japanese art form of mending broken ceramic by filling the cracks with gold lacquer, illuminating the damage and rendering the piece even more beautiful.

Celebrate not only the fire that lights our souls but the dark nights where we wander, when we stumble into the arms of a friend, the way we finally see that the light was in us all along.

Dear Friends ,
This year has brought me the joy of spending time with my grandson Oliver, who loves books. He has Go, Dog, Go memorized and he loves to play games such as Candyland. He’s 2 so you can imagine….  I attended my first semi-pro soccer game (July 4th) and listened to my grandsons’ excitement about their soccer, football and hockey games. All is fine at the Wetzel household and my grandson Jason (Sam’s son) and his bros seem all to be doing well.  A small miracle. And yes, grandma is not above bribery.

The grant finished up with teaching at The Wellstone Center, Cornerstone, The Lenox Center, The Central Library and the Heart Institute at Abbot Northwestern Hospital. I curated a multi-media art exhibition with: Julian Coffman, metaphorical digital prints; Ashley Dull, gorgeous oil landscapes of light; Amy Sabrina performing sacred dance opening night; and Athena Kildegaard and myself displayed poetry as art and had a poetry reading. We had workshops and a panel with Julian, Amy, Michael Kiesow Moore and myself, and I learned more about their inspiring paths to healing through art.

I also took a part-time job as coordinator of the youth program for children 3- 11 years old at Unity Christ Church. It has been a joy and a challenge, using creative ways to explore Unity principles and working with a gifted and wonderful Youth & Family Ministry Director Nancy Maiello.  She just finished coordinating the Christmas show: omg, laughter and tears and watching those wee ones on stage. (What exactly was Ryan doing up there as he marched in circles? Apparently his mom told him he would get cookies if he stayed on stage for the entire song.)

My Care for the Care-giver writing group continues at Pathways; my third workshop at Stillwater prison was on fiction; and I am editing an anthology for Vision Loss Resources with Pamela Fletcher and Patricia Kirkpatrick as co-editors. What a joy it has been to work with them! It has been astonishing to read the work from those who are blind or sight-impaired, their sense of humor, courage to try new things and resiliency as they learn to navigate in a sight-oriented world. As for the work in the prisons, it is heart-breaking and powerful, and we know we are having an impact. One of our students says that now his family reads poetry to him over the phone. Can you imagine that? What a gift!

What’s next, you may ask? Senior center, Rush City prison facility and I won a Saint Louis Park Arts & Culture grant called Treasure Hunt: Where our hearts are, there is our treasure. I will teach writing workshops and with the guidance of Chrisma McIntyre, the work will be transformed into art to be exhibited in various locations. The community editors will finish editing submissions for the 2015 Saint Paul Almanac and Oliver turns 3.

But the most exciting news is that I will be traveling to San Miguel de Allende to the writer’s conference in February. Besides getting to hear Pat Conroy, Laura Esquivel, Ellen Bass, David Whyte (I am taking his workshop) and others, I have appointments with two literary agents. I had decided to put aside my travel- to-Santa-Fe-money this year in order to attend a writer’s conference, never dreaming it would be in Mexico. I need to put some effort into getting my prose published and so, wish me luck, send me your good thoughts for fulfilling my dream of publication and look for good news.

This year horizons have opened up that I never expected and yet dreamed of: being part of the circle and getting to know the writers of the MN Prison Writing Workshop; community editors, advisors, interns, and movers and shakers of Saint Paul Almanac; and connecting with the TC Daily Planet. We serve the cause of social justice by listening, amplifying, encouraging the voices of diverse cultures and neighborhoods, the invisible, the forgotten. I am seeing my idealism of the 60’s finally coming into fruition and I am able to be part of it.  I am following my dream. And many grass roots organizations here are starting the Revolution by collective action, storytelling circles, alternative transportation, presses, and art.  Yayyyy!!! We SHALL overcome…The torch is getting passed to the young and what a flame it is!

I am a late bloomer. The performance poetry was something I began to do when I turned 48! but I am thankful that the arthritis doesn’t hold me back. Traveling by bus gets harder, more nights I end up taking Tylenol than I used to, but I am determined to not let anything hold me back from the satisfaction of living my heart’s calling.

Recently Rev. Pat asked me if I am happy. “Why, yes,” I answered, surprised at myself. “I am.” I used to say how could I be happy when so many in the world are suffering? But I feel I am answering the world’s need by doing something I love to do.

Bless you. You have been part of my journey, my healing, my gold lacquer.
Peace and joy,

We must sit on the rim of the well of darkness
and fish for fallen light
with patience.    —Pablo Neruda

If you wish to contribute  a $  gift
towards the organizations I am part of:


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