Categories
Books Creativity

WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE: A SORT-OF LOVE STORY, A New Book by Jen Payne

Saturday, February 12, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
BOOK SIGNING & ART EXHIBIT
at Guilford Art Center
411 Church Street, Guilford, CT

• Book Signing with writer Jen Payne
• Art exhibit by cover artist Sarah Zar
• Free and open to the community

Connecticut writer Jen Payne has long been inspired by those life moments that move us most — love and loss, joy and disappointment, milestones and turning points — and her new book WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE: A SORT-OF LOVE STORY tells of such a moment. It’s a conversation, a memoir, a love story — just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Told through a series of emails, WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE is the story of two people who reconnect after 15 years apart and work to reconcile their pasts…and futures.

She thought about him often over the years. Looked him up online occasionally to see where he was and if he was all right. It wasn’t until last fall that she found his email address, and several months more before she got up the courage to write.

Influenced by the work of Brené Brown and a proponent of the bravery of storytelling, Payne says WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE is “about having the courage to speak our truths; it’s about trust and vulnerability, and about the true blessings found when we open our hearts — come what may.”

What followed surprised her even more…


Please note, masks are required, regardless of vaccination status, please see current COVID protocols. Snow date: Saturday, February 19.


WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE: A SORT-OF LOVE STORY ($16) will be available at the Shop at Guilford Art Center (411 Church Street, Guilford, CT 06437) and from Three Chairs Publishing.


Jen Payne has published two books of poetry as well as a collection of essays and original photographs. Her work has been featured in numerous publications including the international anthology Coffee Poems: Reflections on Life with Coffee; the Guilford Poets Guild 20th Anniversary Anthology; Waking Up to the Earth: Connecticut Poets in a Time of Global Climate Crisis, edited by Connecticut’s Poet Laureate Margaret Gibson; and The Perch, a publication by the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health. Payne is the owner of Words by Jen, a graphic design and creative services company founded in 1993. You can read more of her work on her blog Random Acts of Writing, randomactsofwriting.net, and in MANIFEST (zine) which creatively explores concepts of change and transition, solitude, time, storytelling, and finding refuge in these turbulent times.

Sarah Zar is a book-obsessed, multi-disciplinary artist who has exhibited in the U.S. and abroad. Whether drawing, painting, collaging, or sculpting, Zar uses images in a literary, psychological and symbolic way. While finishing her Master’s degree, she played the saw in a gypsy chamber ensemble, taught contemporary art & aesthetics, quantum theory, literary theory, NLP, nonsense cryptology, psychology, and the art of microexpressions. Zar is currently working on community-based artwork in which anyone in the world can be painted into an epic narrative scene about the War on Imagination.

Her specially curated exhibit will be on view in the GAC lobby throughout February.

The Guilford Art Center is a non-profit school, shop, and gallery established to nurture and support excellence in the arts. Through classes for adults and children, gallery programs, a shop of contemporary crafts, and special events, the Center provides opportunities for the public to participate in the arts, to experience their cultural and historical diversity, and to appreciate the process and product of creative work. Founded in 1967, the Center currently serves over 2,000 students, presents juried and invitational exhibits of art in the Center’s gallery and operates a shop of fine, handmade American crafts year-round. The Center also presents the Craft Expo, held on the Guilford Green each year in July, that features works by more than 180 of the country’s most distinguished artisans.

Categories
Creativity

This Long Winter Weekend: What are you reading?

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.” — Kitty O’Meara


Looking for something new to read? Click here now!

Categories
book review Books

My Year in Books 2020

I must confess, it doesn’t surprise me that this is the first time in five years I did not meet my personal reading goal of 50 books. There were long stretches of time in 2020 when sitting still was next to impossible, nevermind tasks that required focus and attention-spans.

Which is not to say I wasn’t reading at all or didn’t have a stack of books at the ready. There was always an active book or two — bookmarks holding my place until I returned — and a patient pile of bookshelf finds, Amazon impulses, and contactless library pick-ups sitting in wait.

At some point, I was able to settle back into a fairly regular reading habit — all 10,466 pages of 40 books according to Goodreads’ annual “My Year in Books” report (see below). At some point, I even slogged through The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt), only because I was determined to read the book before watching the movie.

As usual, my annual accounting of reads is a hodgepodge: old favorites, some young adult novels, poetry, a few lifestyle/inspiration books, and plenty of escapist fiction.

My favorites of the year? Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens), The World That We Knew (Alice Hoffman), and The Conference of the Birds (Ransom Riggs).

My least favorite titles didn’t make the list, because I’ve implemented the Page 29 Rule which gives me permission to put down a book sooner rather than later.

I think it’s funny that I began this long, hard year reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation (Ottessa Moshfegh) and The Book of Speculation (Erika Swyler), and ended with Bryan Washington’s Memorial, about findings oneself at a crossroads.

Aren’t we all at some kind of crossroads, here at the end of 2020?

The good thing is that there will always be books. Come what may, there will always be that patient pile waiting for us, that bookmark holding a sacred space for when we return, the character who grabs our hand and says come with me for a while…and we do.

Happy New Year and Happy Reading.


Categories
Creativity

Creative Holiday Gift Ideas

Click here to discover lots of creative gift ideas from Three Chairs Publishing!

 

Categories
Books

Whatcha Readin’?

This is Joe. Joe reads books. Be like Joe. Visit 3 Chairs Publishing’s online SHOP to buy books today!

Categories
Books Creativity

Even Now: The Solace of Nature

Waiting Out the Storm

Poetry by Jennifer A. Payne

“Not till we are lost, in other words not till
we have lost the world, do we begin to find
ourselves, and realize where we are
and the infinite extent of our relations.”
— Henry David Thoreau

Written from the shoreline of Connecticut and the wide and windswept beaches of Cape Cod, this book is an intimate look at life transitions and how we cope with the unexpected.

Reflecting on the sudden loss of a close friend, author Jen Payne returns, as she does in her past books LOOK UP! and Evidence of Flossing, to the solace of nature. On the opening pages, she allows the poet Rilke to remind the reader “Through the empty branches the sky remains. It is what you have. Be earth now, and evensong. Be the ground lying under that sky.”


PRINT
5.5 x 8.5, Paperback, 44 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-4-7
$15.00 (plus tax + shipping)

EBOOK
Epub, 40 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-8-5
$4.99 (digital download)

Categories
Books

Welcome Books!

Looking for a good book to bring you back to simpler times? Visit 3 Chairs Publishing’s online SHOP today!

Categories
Creativity

To Reconnect with Nature is Certain Cure

LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness

75 ESSAYS & POEMS by
Branford, Connecticut Writer Jen Payne
Nature – Balance – Spirituality – Connection

100 ORIGINAL COLOR PHOTOS
of the Woods & Shoreline of Connecticut

QUOTATIONS by Philosophers, Poets
Naturalists, and Treasured Writers

PREVIEW LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness NOW and discover one woman’s reconnection with Nature, told through essays and poems by writer Jennifer Payne, and illustrated by 100 stunning, full-color photographs of the woods and shoreline of Connecticut.

LOOK UP! narrates Jen’s personal journey from running her own business 24/7 to the rediscovery of the joys she knew as a child playing outdoors and a new connection with the world around her. Follow along on this journey, season by season, through journaled reflections about nature, life, breath, mindfulness, balance, spirit.

Woven in between, you’ll meet kindred spirits like Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman — each one expressing his or her own connection with Nature. From ancient texts including the Bible and the Dhammapada to contemporary teachers like the Dalai Lama and Jon Kabat-Zinn, from the writings of Shakespeare to current-day authors, naturalists, artists and bloggers — you will come to understand the vast and wonderful lessons to be learned in the natural world.

“When I finally learned to look up,” Jen writes, “I found my way back to that spirit who loved to play outside, who was curious about her surroundings, whose imagination knew no boundaries. When I finally learned to look up, I found much more — peace, solace, joy, connection.”


PRINT
288 pages, 5×7, 100 Color Photos
Index, Bibliography
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-0-9
$24.95 (plus tax + shipping)

EBOOK
Epub, 287 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-6-1
$4.99 (digital download)


LEARN MORE
Preview the Book
Reviews + Press
About the Author


buynow

Categories
Books

It’s the Weekend!

Visit our online shop for an awesome selection of good weekend reads!

Categories
Books Zine

Shop ‘til you drop…with consequences

Click here to learn more about the Three Chairs online shop!

Categories
Books

July 2020


Check out my Three Chairs Publishing shop for all of these great books and more!

Categories
Books Creativity

Coping with the Unexpected

Waiting Out the Storm

Poetry by Jennifer A. Payne

“Not till we are lost, in other words not till
we have lost the world, do we begin to find
ourselves, and realize where we are
and the infinite extent of our relations.”
— Henry David Thoreau

Written from the shoreline of Connecticut and the wide and windswept beaches of Cape Cod, this book is an intimate look at life transitions and how we cope with the unexpected.

Reflecting on the sudden loss of a close friend, author Jen Payne returns, as she does in her past books LOOK UP! and Evidence of Flossing, to the solace of nature. On the opening pages, she allows the poet Rilke to remind the reader “Through the empty branches the sky remains. It is what you have. Be earth now, and evensong. Be the ground lying under that sky.”


PRINT
5.5 x 8.5, Paperback, 44 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-4-7
$15.00 (plus tax + shipping)

EBOOK
Epub, 40 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-8-5
$4.99 (digital download)

Categories
Books

Summer 2020

Check out my Three Chairs Publishing shop for all of these great books for summer!

Categories
Creativity

A Naturalist’s Journal of Connections

LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness

75 ESSAYS & POEMS by
Branford, Connecticut Writer Jen Payne
Nature – Balance – Spirituality – Connection

100 ORIGINAL COLOR PHOTOS
of the Woods & Shoreline of Connecticut

QUOTATIONS by Philosophers, Poets
Naturalists, and Treasured Writers

LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness is a journal of one woman’s reconnection with Nature, told through essays and poems by writer Jennifer Payne, and illustrated by 100 stunning, full-color photographs of the woods and shoreline of Connecticut.

LOOK UP! narrates Jen’s personal journey from running her own business 24/7 to the rediscovery of the joys she knew as a child playing outdoors and a new connection with the world around her. Follow along on this journey, season by season, through journaled reflections about nature, life, breath, mindfulness, balance, spirit.

Woven in between, you’ll meet kindred spirits like Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman — each one expressing his or her own connection with Nature. From ancient texts including the Bible and the Dhammapada to contemporary teachers like the Dalai Lama and Jon Kabat-Zinn, from the writings of Shakespeare to current-day authors, naturalists, artists and bloggers — you will come to understand the vast and wonderful lessons to be learned in the natural world.

“When I finally learned to look up,” Jen writes, “I found my way back to that spirit who loved to play outside, who was curious about her surroundings, whose imagination knew no boundaries. When I finally learned to look up, I found much more — peace, solace, joy, connection.”


PRINT
288 pages, 5×7, 100 Color Photos
Index, Bibliography
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-0-9
$24.95 (plus tax + shipping)

EBOOK
Epub, 287 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-6-1
$4.99 (digital download)


LEARN MORE
Preview the Book
Reviews + Press
About the Author


buynow

Categories
Creativity

Reflections on Nature, Life, Breath, Balance, Spirit

LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness

75 ESSAYS & POEMS by
Branford, Connecticut Writer Jen Payne
Nature – Balance – Spirituality – Connection

100 ORIGINAL COLOR PHOTOS
of the Woods & Shoreline of Connecticut

QUOTATIONS by Philosophers, Poets
Naturalists, and Treasured Writers

LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness is a journal of one woman’s reconnection with Nature, told through essays and poems by writer Jennifer Payne, and illustrated by 100 stunning, full-color photographs of the woods and shoreline of Connecticut.

LOOK UP! narrates Jen’s personal journey from running her own business 24/7 to the rediscovery of the joys she knew as a child playing outdoors and a new connection with the world around her. Follow along on this journey, season by season, through journaled reflections about nature, life, breath, mindfulness, balance, spirit.

Woven in between, you’ll meet kindred spirits like Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman — each one expressing his or her own connection with Nature. From ancient texts including the Bible and the Dhammapada to contemporary teachers like the Dalai Lama and Jon Kabat-Zinn, from the writings of Shakespeare to current-day authors, naturalists, artists and bloggers — you will come to understand the vast and wonderful lessons to be learned in the natural world.

“When I finally learned to look up,” Jen writes, “I found my way back to that spirit who loved to play outside, who was curious about her surroundings, whose imagination knew no boundaries. When I finally learned to look up, I found much more — peace, solace, joy, connection.”


PRINT
288 pages, 5×7, 100 Color Photos
Index, Bibliography
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-0-9
$24.95 (plus tax + shipping)

EBOOK
Epub, 287 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-6-1
$4.99 (digital download)


LEARN MORE
Preview the Book
Reviews + Press
About the Author


buynow

Categories
Books Creativity

Finding the Solace of Nature

Waiting Out the Storm

Poetry by Jennifer A. Payne

“Not till we are lost, in other words not till
we have lost the world, do we begin to find
ourselves, and realize where we are
and the infinite extent of our relations.”
— Henry David Thoreau

Written from the shoreline of Connecticut and the wide and windswept beaches of Cape Cod, this book is an intimate look at life transitions and how we cope with the unexpected.

Reflecting on the sudden loss of a close friend, author Jen Payne returns, as she does in her past books LOOK UP! and Evidence of Flossing, to the solace of nature. On the opening pages, she allows the poet Rilke to remind the reader “Through the empty branches the sky remains. It is what you have. Be earth now, and evensong. Be the ground lying under that sky.”


PRINT
5.5 x 8.5, Paperback, 44 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-4-7
$15.00 (plus tax + shipping)

EBOOK
Epub, 40 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-8-5
$4.99 (digital download)

Categories
Books

Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt

One of the things I miss most during our collective Covid-oh-pause is my local library. I’d gotten back into the delicious habit of a weekly visit to browse the stacks, wander, socialize, and select. Now, a pile of long-overdue books sits by the door, ready to be returned and exchanged for a new set. When? No one knows.

For now, I find comfort in the unread books on my own shelves, and the regular check-ins from the library via Facebook and email. This past week, in celebration of National Library Week, they suggested a BOOKSHELF SCAVENGER HUNT and I couldn’t resist!

WANNA PLAY?
Post your own finds on your blog or Facebook page, then share a link back here! Let’s go!


A book by your favorite author.
The Museum of Extraordinary Things
Alice Hoffman


A book with a female protagonist.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Lisa See

A book you’ve read more than once.
Green Heart
Alice Hoffman

A book that’s been made into a movie.
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
Elizabeth Gilbert

A book that has a color and its title.
The Red Tent
Anita Diamant

A book with a face on the cover.
A Tale for the Time Being
Ruth Ozeki

A book that’s part of a series.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Book 1)
Ransom Riggs

A book with a number in its title.
The Hundred Secret Senses
Amy Tan

A book with a red cover.
You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life
Eleanor Roosevelt

A book you’re looking forward to reading.
Eat Mangoes Naked: Finding Pleasure Everywhere (and dancing with the Pits)
SARK

©2020, Jen Payne. Thanks Blackstone Memorial Library for this fun idea!
Categories
Books Creativity Memoir

The Big Picture

Recently, my friend DeLinda gave me a paint-by-numbers set. But this is not your stiff, childhood red barn or Venice gondola paint-by-numbers, no no no. This is a brilliantly colored, wild-stroked, Bohemian cow painting.

Of course, there are a lot of steps to get from the detailed, numbered canvas to the realized final effect. To get from here to the big picture, if you will. The challenge of that is not lost on me — nor on DeLinda, who is always good at throwing down a subtle but effective test of my self-perceived limitations.

And who, right now, doesn’t have self-perceived limitations? This gauntlet of a challenge — colloquially known as COVID-19, scientifically considered a Pandemic, and psychologically in tune with the end of the world as we know it — is testing all of our skills: emotional, psychological, organizational, financial. Are we able to deal with this? And how?

Even more difficult is the fact that none of us has a clear picture of what this looks like when it’s over. Which brings me back to the paint-by-numbers.

This awesome paint-by-numbers kit would be a challenge for a trained artist, never mind someone like me who doesn’t have much experience at all. With that in mind, I thought I’d share my experience of this project with you so far — a broad-brush glimpse of how we come wired with the ability to adjust and adapt, even if we don’t think we do.


#1
The first paint is a pale shimmery blue that does. not. cover. over. the. numbers. This gives me a lot of anxiety. And, it makes me really angry. Shouldn’t it cover over the numbers? Why wouldn’t it? Maybe I’m not doing it right. Or maybe I am the worst human on the planet…at best, a little over-emotional right now. So I close up the paint, clean the brushes, turn off the light for the day.

#2
We move from pale blue to pale gray, and I realize quickly that following the implied rules of this — applying pale gray only to the number 2 spaces — is next to impossible. It’s messy already, and I am coloring all over the lines. Outside of the lines! And I’m just not doing this right. So I close up the paint, clean the brushes, turn off the light for the day.

#3
Pale gray to medium gray brings an understanding that each paint layers onto the next. Everything happens for a reason. Solutions don’t always show up right away. With that acceptance, there evolves a somewhat nicer pace to the process. Paint a little. Wait for it to dry. Paint a little. Wait for it to dry. Work a little. Rest a little. Work a little. Rest a little.

#4
Slate gray is a strong color, and brings with it a certain confidence. It takes care of some of those early mistakes and disregards the messy strokes. Slate gray has a can-do spirit, and I find that I’m much braver with my brush strokes now.

#5
My first brush stroke with paint #5, a bluish gray, lands smack in the middle of a #6 space, but I roll with it. No one is going to know, or care for that matter, if a 6 space is painted color 5. It’s time to get over myself. And it’s time to get over some of these expectations that make things harder than they need to be. Breathe. Relax. Paint. Then clean the brushes, turn off the light for the day.

#6
Paint #6 is white paint. White. And I immediately have PTSD flashbacks of paint #1, that pale, translucent blue and the show-through numbers. But by now, I’ve adapted. I’ve learned some new brushstrokes and paint tricks that cover over the numbers. Now I’m just painting liberally over lines, blending into other spaces, layering paint impasto on top of numbers. Come what way!

#7
Last night, I painted all of the #7 spaces with a happy yellow paint. I made small, flower-petal strokes, and big, flamboyant messy ones. I blended here and stippled there. I’m in the groove now, even if the canvas is just a mass of messy paint splotches. Does it look like a cow yet? No. Is it even pretty yet? No. Will it ever be? Doubtful. But man, that yellow sure is happy.


THE ROLLER COASTER RIDE

I find my reaction to the paint-by-numbers project mirrors, somewhat, my experience of the pandemic, a roller coaster ride of responses similar to those outlined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross to describe the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. And make no mistake, we are grieving. If not the loss of a family member or loved one, then a loss of work, income, companionship, routine, our sense safety and what’s normal.

Understanding those stages of grief, understanding our reactions to what is happening around us, is critical to our mental health — even if we can’t see or know what the big picture looks like yet.

In an article on the Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Learning Network website, psychiatric nurse practitioner Andrew Penn writes: “The five stages of grief…are a useful map as we transit through the uncharted emotional aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” His 3-part series “Navigating the Emotions of a Pandemic” is a must-read if you or someone you know is struggling to cope with this current state of the world. Check it out in the LINKS below.

Penn ends his first article with a beautifully appropriate poem by Pablo Neruda, “Keeping Quiet.” I’ll leave you with this, then, and my heartfelt hope that you are safe, healthy, and able to find your own creative path through this wild journey.

With Love,

KEEPING QUIET
Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.


LINKS

Navigating the Emotions of a Pandemic
The 5 Stages of Grief as a Framework for the Journey
Making Room for Grief During COVID-19<
The Search for Acceptance and Meaning in COVID-19

Other Interesting Links

Branford Land Trust – for nature activities, outdoor things to do, and places to visit
Good News Network – an alternate source for headline news
Guilford Art Center – watch for a new online learning section coming soon
Guilford Poets Guild – celebrating April’s National Poetry Month and more
Hope for Paws – where I go when I need a happy ending
Pediatrics Plus – for ways to manage the COVID-19 shutdown with your family


“Understand there’s no right or wrong
way to grieve, including anticipatory grief.
It’s like the ocean. It ebbs and it flows.”

― Dana Arcuri, Sacred Wandering: Growing Your Faith In The Dark

Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

You are braver than you believe & stronger than you seem…

I’ve been walking around barefoot a lot. Outside, in the yard, to the mailbox — no matter the temperature or weather. It reminds me of that opening scene in Die Hard when John McClain’s seatmate tells him “After you get where you’re going, take off your shoes and your socks…walk around on the rug barefoot and make fists with your toes. It’s better than a shower and a hot cup of coffee.”

It turns out, that’s pretty good advice.

In the article “This Die Hard Relaxation Hack Is Actually Brilliant,” podiatrist Ernest Isaacson explains, “Being barefoot is a great way to feel one’s way around new surroundings, and by removing the protective covering of our shoes it also establishes a level of trust to the new digs, which is comforting, relaxing, and just feels good….Walking barefoot takes us back to our primordial roots, and allows the many nerve endings on the bottom of the feet to make contact with the ground, thereby establishing a real tactile connection to our new surroundings.”

New surroundings like these weird, scary, sad, difficult pandemic surroundings? I don’t know about you, but I’ve got anxiety on a constant feedback loop. Adjusting means processing a lot more information, being OK with a change in routine and expectations, and settling down into not know what happens next.

Walking barefoot, wiggling my toes in the wet grass or on the cold pavement, reminds me to be in the moment.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.” — Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, The Teaching of Buddha

Living wisely and earnestly for me right now translates into surrounding myself with the things that immediately bring me comfort: phone calls with good friends, my cat Lola, homemade meatloaf, living room yoga, walks in the woods, writing, and books.

I realize I’m lucky in that. I’m not on the front lines, working in a hospital, striving to keep our communities safe, managing a houseful of little ones. For each and everyone one of us, these are hard and difficult times, in vastly different ways.

So, how are you spending your pandemic days? Are you safe and healthy? Are you balancing worry with wonder? Getting enough rest, movement, breath, prayer, food? Reaching out and digging deep? Have you found what brings you comfort?

Here is a gentle reminder from one of my go-to comforts, Winnie the Pooh:

“You are braver than you believe, you are stronger than you seem, and you are smarter than you think.”

We will be Okay…and YOU will be Okay.

Take off your shoes. Wiggle your toes. Breathe.

Love, Jen


News from My Living Room

THANK YOU, ALPHA COIRO!

Friends of the Blackstone Memorial Library board member Alpha Coiro recently featured me and my books in the library’s spring newsletter Marble Columns. You can read an advance copy of her article by clicking here.


MEATLOAF

Hankering some comfort food, I looked up recipes by cooking goddess Ina Garten and found her recipe for Meatloaf (click here). I had to ad lib a little: I didn’t have tomato paste, so I used sundried tomatoes in oil; and a crumbled Bisquick biscuit stepped in for bread crumbs. I served it with canned peas and macaroni and cheese and was immediately transported to my grandmother’s kitchen circa 1972. Ahh, comfort.


BOOKS

If you’re looking for something else to read, visit my Etsy Shop where you’ll discover both print and NEW! ebooks for sale.

“Salvation is certainly among the reasons I read. Reading and writing have always pulled me out of the darkest experiences in my life. Stories have given me a place in which to lose myself. They have allowed me to remember. They have allowed me to forget. They have allowed me to imagine different endings and better possible worlds.” – Roxane Gay

Essay ©2020, Jen Payne. Illustration by Ernest Howard Shepard, “Pooh and Piglet walked home thoughtfully together in the golden evening, and for a long time they were silent,” illustration for A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh (London: Methuen; New York: E. P. Dutton, 1926. Quotes from This ‘Die Hard’ Relaxation Hack Is Actually Brilliant , by Dan Myers, The Active Times. Winnie the Pooh Quote by Karl Geurs and Carter Crocker, Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin.
Categories
Books Creativity National Poetry Month Poetry Writing

Finding Inspiration

When I told a friend last spring that I was writing a poem a day for National Poetry Month and NaPoWriMo, she asked me how I found the inspiration for 30 poems.

“It’s like rummaging around in a junk drawer,” I told her. “You’re bound to put your hands on something!”

And sure enough, one April, I found inspiration from a seagull, bugs, a haiku class, a trip to the Dollar Store, and pizza. Among other things. (See the full tally here.)

Now granted, they are not all masterpieces. But that’s not the point. Like any writing challenge — NaNoWriMo, HistNoWriMo, SciFiWriMo — the goal is simply to get into the habit of writing.

“Simply” of course being somewhat of an issue if you are lacking inspiration. Which brings us back to that junk drawer. There are so many things in your junk drawer – think about it!

the first time you rode a bike
your best friend from kindergarten
your mother
what you had for breakfast
your first kiss
last night’s dream
what you saw on a hike last weekend
your favorite painting
the song you can’t get out of your head (and why)
an object sitting on your coffee table

So, GO! Rummage around — see what you can find. Reach way far back if you have to…and then CREATE! Describe, elaborate, enumerate, paint a picture with words (or even paint if you are so inclined). It doesn’t have to be perfect…as Nike says, JUST DO IT!

Here is some evidence of rummaging. This quirky little poem showed up from a post-it note I found on my desk one morning:


(Chinese Food)

The note says (Chinese Food)
but it is random
out of context on a piece of paper
in a stack of papers
at least 2 months passed

my past included (Chinese Food)

but what?
and with whom?
and what is the purpose
of this little clue
set out for me to follow
too early even for General Tso,
though I never met him personally

rumor has it, he was a press man…

as a proponent of the written word
do you think he rose early
to consider form and function,
rhyme, reason and rice —
like this poet now hungry
for the pork fried variety at 6?


But a fair warning about rummaging…you have to be brave. You have to be brave because you never know what you’re going to find in that drawer. Sometimes, it will be as benign as a post-it note about Chinese take-out. Other times, you may pull out a ghost, some long lost memory that needs to see the light of day.

Hans Christian Anderson is credited with saying: “Everything you look at can become a fairy tale, you can get a story from everything you touch.”

Ultimately, isn’t that our job as creatives? Telling the story. No matter our medium — poetry, painting, prose — we are charged with the task of putting our hands on the story and sharing it with others.

So, get in there! Rummage around for the inspiration. Reach way far back if you have to…and then TELL THE STORY!


You can read more of Jen Payne’s poetry in her books Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind and Waiting Out the Storm, available from Three Chairs Publishing.

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