Wishing It Were So


Wishing It Were So

By Cathleen Elise Rossiter

girl gathering flowers - Jessie Wilcox Smith
Jessie Wilcox Smith

Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

This week, while finally trimming the verge after weeks of wishing the garden were not so overgrown, the song “Wishin’ and Hopin'” sung by Dionne Warwick kept running through my head as well as the painting of the little girl gathering flowers by Jessie Wilcox Smith (above). The following fable with its corresponding lessons is the result of my latest encounters with art.

The Little Girl Who was Quite Fond of Wishing

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was quite fond of wishing. She was quite fond of wishing, in fact, that she spent all of her time doing so.

“I wish the kids in school liked me.”

“I wish I did better on my math test.”

“I wish Johnny would ask me to the dance.”

She spent so much time wishing that she no longer realized that she was doing it. Eventually, her wishes began to take different forms:

“I can’t wait until school is over.”

“I can’t wait until Friday.”

“I should have gotten that part in the play.”

“If I were class president, we’d have an awesome school.”

“I wish I could play soccer like Mary Sue.”

One morning, while brushing her hair, she looked in the mirror just as she finished wishing she had hair like Sally MacPhereson in Mrs. Jones’ class. For the first time in her life, the little girl saw something quite unexpected; she saw a beautiful person with hair that far outshone that of Sally MacPhereson in Mrs. Jones’ class. The face staring back at her was that of an intelligent person who had great ideas and, in spite of a perceived laziness from all the wishing for the easy way out, the face reflected in the mirror actually loved to work hard and get things done.

The little girl who was quite fond of wishing looked into the eyes staring at her and finally saw herself. From that moment, the little girl who was quite fond of wishing refused to use her wishes as another form of complaining, was careful not to make a wish for anything that she would not work hard to make happen, and never  – ever – wished to be like anyone else (because really, it’s rather wonderful being one-of-a-kind).

 

2016 Copyright - Cathleen Elise

 

Balancing Act: Balancing Your Individual Identity While Developing a Relationship


 

Balancing Act: Balancing Your Individual Identity While Developing a Relationship

By Cathleen Elise Rossiter

Jane Eyre - detail
Jane Eyre, 2011

“I am not an angel,’ I asserted; ‘and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Mr. Rochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me – for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you: which I do not at all anticipate.” 
― Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre

As an independent sort, I have never been one to follow the crowd. Belonging to the In Group never made sense to me, since in my eyes, everyone is the same, we are all in the same group. It hurts at times, not belonging, but I was never willing to pay the price of admission – my Me.

As a business owner who struggles like every other business owner to find one’s place – what the best way to structure, run, and market the business is -, I find that as much as I rely on the experience and expertise of those who have gone before me and succeeded, their way does not suit me, does not work in my business as it does in theirs. Similarly, what works for others in their personal relationships does not work for me in mine.

Each of us struggles to find our way in the world, to get to know who we are at our core. Some struggle harder than others to unearth the treasure of our Me, the treasure of our true self that we seem so afraid to display. Oftentimes it is easier to become what others say we should be because experience has shown us that others cannot be trusted to value our treasure properly. So, we never take it out, we bury it under someone else’s vision of who we are.

When developing a relationship of any kind, it is critical (if one intends on developing a solid, healthy relationship) to know yourself solidly, to be so comfortable with your real self that no one has the power to determine your value, your worth, or your happiness. If you place that power and responsibility into someone else’s hands, they will always get it wrong and you will always be unhappy. The relationship will never be healthy because you will have given up responsibility for the outcome and thrown the balance off kilter.

Many people fail to make the distinction between asserting one’s individuality as an equal partner and becoming a dictator. Too often I see relationships that fall apart because one or more parties are caught in the trap of rigidly dictating how the relationship will run, leaving no room for movement, stifling natural growth, overcompensating out of fear of being a victim that the offending party becomes what he or she sought to avoid.

This month, take the time to get to know yourself. Get to know the good, the bad, and the ugly as it were. Know what you want from yourself, from life, from others. Know where you draw the line on different issues and what the consequences are for stepping over these lines. Learn how to set limits and expectations while allowing for the humanness that will inevitably rear its head.

Solid relationships require hard work. Anything worthwhile always does.

Capturing the Soul: Landscapes and Portraits of Matthew Richards


Ferry Beach Maine by Matthew Richards Photography

“When I look at great works of art or listen to inspired music, I sense intimate portraits of the specific times in which they were created.”
 – Billy Joel – 

Portraiture is an ancient form of leaving our mark on the world in which we live and for the world that will continue after we die. Many portraits are composed carefully in order to control the image that will remain, to present the subject at its best, hiding any flaws or insecurities. Often we feel that our unadorned selves are inadequate, incomplete, and something about which we should be ashamed. Many lucrative industries feed on our fear of our unadorned, unaltered selves. We strive so hard to be like everyone else, to fit in, yet rile against the fact that our inner selves are not seen or heard. We crave to be loved for who we are at our core.

self5 - Matthew Richards self portrait by MAtthew Richards Photography

Portraits can be created in any medium. Perhaps it is because I grew up in the Twentieth Century, perhaps because photography has such an immediateness about it, regardless, I love portraits made with a camera. I love the chance of catching that unguarded moment that captures the soul of the subject, a moment that the paint brush or chisel does not afford.

The media available for sculpting portraits is cold, impersonal, and generally hard in its final form. Although sculpture affords a three-dimensional view of the subject’s exterior, the subject’s interior self is opaque and obscured from view. Painted portraits done by masters may afford the illusion of illuminating the subject and revealing its soul, yet rarely is one truly able to connect with the essence of the portrait’s subject since painting still has a two-dimensional aspect about it.

Photography, although still a two-dimensional medium, has an element of activity and life about it. Adding to this living, dina-9 - by Matthew Richards of Matthew Richards Photographybreathing aspect of photography is the ability of the camera to pierce the veil as it were, to see beyond the exterior of the subject, opening the interior, the essence of the subject to full view and scrutiny of anyone who cares to see. It is no wonder that there are cultures and religions who ban photographic images as only God should have that power. It is no wonder that so many people are averse to having their photograph taken to have their flaws, inadequacies, and insecurities exposed to the world. Conversely, in a world full of people screaming to be known and loved for who they are, it is no wonder that selfies are such a hit.

As I was perusing WordPress the other day, I came across a photographer who has an innate sense of the soul of his subjects and the skill to preserve that essence on film. Matthew Richards is so adept at Soul-Catching that he is able to extend the concept of portraiture to see in his surroundings and inanimate objects the essence of the subject that reaches out to that particular place in us that needs attention and he secures it for posterity. Be it a hidden beach he stumbles upon, a skyline, wooden bridge, or neighborhood hangout, through Mr. Richards’ lens, landscapes become portraits, capturing the history, life, story, and future of a particular place at a particular moment. Like a close-up of a human face in its raw state, Mr. Richards reveals the true character of the people and places he meets, unadorned, unashamed, and at their most beautiful because he brings the abstract, the intangible to life.store - by Matthew Richards of Matthew Richards Photography

2015 Copyright - Cathleen Elise

Personal Independence: Rights and Responsibilities of Doing It “My Nowm Self”


The Birth of Our Nation s Flag by Charles H Weisgerber

Personal Independence: Rights and Responsibilities of Doing It “My Nowm Self”

by Cathleen Elise Rossiter

A few years ago, when I was three years old, my mother and I found ourselves in the middle of a valuable teaching and learning moment that would stay with me to this very moment. This teaching and learning moment is the butt of many a running joke in my family, for good reason. Not only does it illustrate my self-reliant nature and personality, it also makes for great comical imagery.

One day, in my early days of being fully ambulatory, my mother and I encountered a street that necessitated our crossing. Mumma extended her hand for me to take for safety, as had been standard procedure. This particular day in my thus far brief life was the day that I consciously discovered my self-reliance and confidence in my abilities to handle the situation, for it was this particular moment in which I chose not to hold my mother’s hand to cross the street.

“Cathleen” Mumma coaxed, “you have to hold my hand to cross the street.”

Grasping my own hand, I responded in earnest, “I’ll do it my nowm self” and proceeded across the pavement, carefully placing each awkward step between the crosswalk’s milky lines, Mumma right beside me.

As a nation, America in the 18th century is the equivalent of my three-year-old self declaring my autonomy. With independence comes responsibility. As a three-year-old claiming independence, I was responsible for knowing and following the rules of the situation I asserted I could handle. As a parent, Mumma was responsible for guiding and protecting me in my journey to adulthood. The more mature we become the more responsibility we take on, the more independent we become.

Oftentimes we confuse demanding our rights with independence, as a child throwing a tantrum or sulking because he or she did not get his or her way. My trusty Oxford Dictionary states that independence means “not dependant on”, thus implying maturity. To mature means, “fully grown” or “to ripen”. To ripen means, “to be ready”. How often have we demanded our independence only to discover that we were not ready to handle the situation? In retrospect, the situation we were not ready to handle came with certain responsibilities that we were not willing to accept or rise to. Acceptance creates the readiness to act.  My experience has taught me that the more I accept the responsibilities, duties, obligations of whatever situation I find myself involved, then proceed to fulfill my responsibilities, the more independence I enjoy.

This Independence Day weekend has made me more mindful of the responsibilities others have accepted, sacrifices others have made, and lessons hard-won that form the foundation for the independence I enjoy today. Thank you, Mumma, for your patience as I fumbled my way to maturity. Thank you to all those who have made sacrifices in your lives or with your lives in order that I might be free.

Happy Independence Day, America.

2015 Copyright - Cathleen Elise

Alighting


Alighting

by Cathleen Elise Rossiter

Cardellino by Marco PreziosiThis morning as I was washing the dishes, staring out the kitchen window at the flutter of activity in the apple tree – watching the birds flitter from branch to branch, from the apple tree to the blueberry bush (the birds are on their annual summertime vigil for the perfect moment to abscond with the sapphire spheres of delight), from one birdbath to another – I began thinking of all the ways we do the same thing in our lives in an endless quest to find the perfect place on which to alight.  Perhaps our hyper-paced society has conditioned us to be impatient. Perhaps our training in instant gratification keeps us ever on the lookout for that one big thing that will satisfy all our needs, at least until our patience wears thin and we seek further gratification.

It is difficult to be patient. When you are searching for direction and answers to what your life is all about, you want the answers now so as to not waste time and get into the full swing of living a meaningful life. I am not immune. Finding your calling in life is oftentimes a painful, drawn-out process. Even when you discover the What, the How, Why, Where, and When may remain elusive.  Sometimes we feel guilty for the gift of knowing our What, so we fret over whether we have made the right decision, even when all the evidence points to the affirmative. We feel the driving need to flitter from branch to branch, from apple tree to blueberry bush, from one birdbath to another just to be certain that we chose the right branch in the first place. All the while, we keep waiting for our life to begin.

Cardellino, by Italian wildlife artist Marco Preziosi reminds me of the need to settle in for a while on each branch, observe my surroundings, enjoy them, and be happy that I am alive, knowing that the life I have lived thus far is part of the ultimate answer and the training I need to be prepared for what is to come.  The answers will come if I stay still long enough to hear and listen. All the flittering and fluttering creates a din that drowns out the still, small voice whispering the answers we seek.

2015 Copyright - Cathleen Elise

Clarity Through Delay: Part One


calder-grandson-554x700 This past December, I went to two major exhibitions here in the Boston, MA area – Alexander Calder at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA and Fransisco Goya at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. My intent was to attend these exhibits, pick a piece that spoke to me, then write about what I learned. I was not prepared for what happened next.

Days, weeks, months plodded by with no inkling of what to write, nor the desire to do so. This is a new feeling for me. If writing is my oxygen, what happened to my supply? What was wrong with me? Was I fooling myself when I laid claim to the title Writer? An overwhelming sense of failure and of having disappointed people took over which kept me frozen, lifeless in the lands of the blank page and empty mind.

Through the love and caring of a dear friend, he freed me from these frozen wastelands by reminding me of my own words when he uttered that fateful word Excuses.

How many times have I chided others for choosing to be overwhelmed? How many times have I repeated with disdain my catch-phrase, “Being overwhelmed is a choice. Stop moaning and tackle the pile from the top. It’ll be cleared away in no time,”? How blind are those who refuse to see as I have been.

The choice to be overwhelmed stems from a fear of some kind. In this instance, mine was the fear of imperfection. I am a writer after all. I can’t have improper sentences, misspelled words, and unsavory slang riddling my thoughts and permanently engraved in cyberspace. Surprise, Cathleen! Writers are here to record and re-tell the stories of Humanity in all its imperfection.

Goya and Calder have taught me many things, of which I will write later. Those I am most grateful for are the lessons that there is beauty in imperfection, imbalance – the good, the bad, and the ugly as it were -, and that the only way I can fail as a writer, indeed as a Human Being, is not to express that beauty, to remain silent in fear of misunderstanding or misspeaking. As my friend so adeptly showed me by example, if I don’t say anything, I am not loving those I proclaim to care about.

So, kind readers, I place my thoughts before you. Incomplete. Imperfect. In love. Thank you, Kevin.

vcm_s_kf_repr_832x624 - Large cropped