do it. create. walk and see. cut and paste. scratch and sniff.
do whatever you have to do to feed your soul.
this is my commitment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

on well being

A walk in the woods and near the river

I finished reading Brenda Ueland's selected writings yesterday.  They are compiled in a book titled, Strength To Your Sword Arm.  I continue to remain in awe of women such as Ueland.  She joins others, in my opinion, of being a woman, far ahead of her time.  What brilliance, what wisdom, what candor, what simplicity and depth.  What a bright light!  This particular book is divided into categories such as Portraits, Speculations, Feminism, etc.  Here are a few excerpts of her writings that are grouped under the category, Well-Being.

One characteristic I admire so deeply in Ueland is her steadied and continued effort to eliminate what she found distracting to her creative process.  "If you are a teetotaller (both of cocktails and fudge sundaes) presently you get a fine, childlike, water-sluiced state of clarity and sensitiveness.  In this state the spirit or the intelligence or the imagination (whatever you want to call it) is like a fountain continually casting up new thoughts and ideas.  If you are tired, strained, overworked, you have no solitude, run too many errands, talk to too many people, eat too many pancakes, drink too much coffee, cocktails, this little fountain is muddled over and covered  with a lot of debris.  Pressure, too much action - all those things throw sand on the fountain."    - Confessions of a Secret Teetotaller

Ueland believed in a lot of solitude and silence (although she also filled her life with a lot of rich social experience, which she also writes about at length in this book). Here, she dedicates this particular piece to "The Business Man" and the overstimulation of an average work day (remembering that, currently, and for more than several decades now, this also applies to the business woman):  "I claimed it was because he had had his mind jerked around all day and then he comes home vaguely expecting mental freedom.  But no, the Kleenex is on the lawn, and he gets angry because the adrenalin squirts new energy into his veins so that he can pick up the Kleenex in spite of fatigue.  It's like a whip on a spent horse...So we concluded that the tired business man should be guaranteed a pleasant room, a pleasant impenetrable silence for say, twenty minutes when he comes home."
- Why Men Are Cross When They Get Home at Night 
or What Makes The Tired Business Man Tired

Just a little background here.  Ueland was known to do a lot of walking.  She thought it the best way to meditate for a creative individual.  She was known to walk 6 miles a day.  There are many references to this in her book, If You Want to Write and there are many selections in THIS book on the same topic.

"Father Joseph, was a Cisterican and extraordinary able man...he walked...He had a lot of time to think and he always prayed all the way (that is what you do unconsciously when you walk) earnestly asking for illumination and love.  Not a bad idea." - A Spree on Gasoline

When invited by a friend to run up Pike's Peak, Ueland's response to the finances involved was, "I don't like negative thinking but there are a few hurdles to take...Lack of money is the Brotherhood of Man.  I work pretty hard.  I have a serious complex about accepting money, borrowing or being lifted around...Now these matters I leave up to my Teachers, my invisible and most helpful Angels.  I will leave arrangements to Them.  They will get me there if it can be done honorably."  - On Running Up Pike's Peak

Well, it turns out, Ueland DID make it to Pike's Peak and her observations are full of humility, humor and her writing beautifully descriptive (as always).  I love her admiration of the athletes here: "And their legs are utterly beautiful: long, straight as plumb lines, set close together at the top; calves and thighs exactly the same size.  Knees are small, perfect, beautiful, fluid, debonair and lubricated as something in a 37-jewelled watch.  And I learned something.  I think it is running that is so miraculously strengthening."   - My Failure at Pike's Peak

Here she writes on a movement class she participated in: "Most people think a good posture means a ramrod position.  No.  Good posture, (Bill Roessler) says, is a light, easy, graceful thing.  'And when you wait for a streetcar don't let your muscles hold you up' - He slumped into the usual horrid pretzel we all know in our tiredness - 'Let your bones hold you up; your legs like pillars.  Rest in your own boney pelvis...'  In other words, be an engineer about the thing."    - Bill Roessler and How to Walk, Dance

I have so many more excerpts I want to mention here particularly from writings titled, On Making Choices, Parents Must Be More Fun and The Art Institute Show but I am concerned that I may have made this post too long already.  Please look into this book!

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