Art, Arms and Tree Branches

Tree in the partk

Tree in the partk

Tree on my block

Tree on my block

On this cold blustery October morning I was sitting on a bench on Prospect Park West looking at the rich full canopy of leaves above which haven’t yet begun to change color or drop, and when I looked over at the mottled trunk just on the other side of the low stone wall, I noticed it was the same type of tree just outside my apartment house down the block. And yet the two trees couldn’t be more different!

This tree, known as the London plane (Platanus acerifolia) a cross between the American sycamore and the Oriental plane of central Asia, is certainly plentiful in New York and has been a symbol of the Parks Department for the last 75 years. Yet what a difference between these sister trees growing two hundred feet or so apart. The one in the park had ten times as many branches stretching every which way. It also had a thicker trunk which grew straight instead of leaning to the south like the one in front of my house in its effort to catch the light.

Simply put, the tree in the park grew freely. Its growth has been unrestricted. It was totally allowed to be itself. Whereas the one on the street has been continually cut back, its branches curtailed. Street Tree 2Tree-pruners are regular visitors to these streets with their noisy sawing from cherry-pickers high off the ground. I flinch at the dreadful sound, and quicken my steps to get away from it. If I feel that way, I can only wonder what the poor trees are feeling, knowing their arms are going to be chopped off and unable to flee!

But this morning as I was thinking about the differences between the two trees, I wasn’t thinking about the whine of mechanical saws. I was thinking about the arts—all the arts—whether music, dance or drama, painting or writing—how they stretch us, allowing us to expand and grow more freely. And how we have to rein ourselves in for regular life—for street life—like the tree on my block. If the park (or the country) is where trees can expand and be totally themselves, then as artists we also have to confine ourselves (somewhat) to the stage or the studio or the rehearsal rooms when we let down the barriers of regular life and give ourselves freely to the passions of art.

KaliAnd then I thought of the Hindu Goddess Kali with all her arms stretching out like the  branches of trees. And how next to Her, we mortals with only two arms must appear as truncated as the tree on my block with most of its branches lopped off.

But I wasn’t only thinking of Art, I was thinking of Art and Alignment, and how nothing much gets done with my own art unless I am aligned with my purpose and intention, even if I’m not quite certain what it is at the time.

Emerald AlignmentAnd then, thinking of Art and Alignment, and lots of branches and arms, or just a few, I thought of the images demonstrating the Emerald Alignment. (LINK) The figure standing straight and narrow, arms glued to its sides, while the emerald light, the higher light, the light of intention, moves down from the head and through the body, bringing all the energies into harmony and balance.

It’s the energy running through us. The light and the energy. It doesn’t matter how many arms we have, or how many branches there are on the tree, as long as the energy flows through it, unrestricted, unblocked and free, and in alignment…with the discipline of focused intention…and alignment. Ideas can (and do) fly through my head with lightning speed, but unless I line up my forces, all I will have is a mish-mash.

This blog is a bit of a mish-mash, but I think you get the idea ~

Listen to the Emerald Alignment: from Rainbow Light Foundation.  

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Flowing Fences

Watercolor by N Wait

Watercolor by N Wait

I live in a neighborhood of wrought-iron fences. Fences of one sort or another have been around for a long, long time, keeping some out and others in. People have been migrating for a long time too. Also animals and birds, the fishes, insects, and of course the Plant Kingdom. Whatever is part of the life steam, (and what isn’t?) will move about.

Tree bed on 9th St. by N.Wait

Tree bed on 9th St. by N.Wait

The fences in my neighborhood are usually only a foot-high or waist-high, simple curves, or intricately carved and decorative, they enclose houses and doors, or trees and the plants and flowers growing around them, sometimes overflowing the fences. 

watercolor by N Wait

watercolor by N Wait

When I first began noticing these wrought-iron fences for themselves instead of part of the general landscape, what caught my eye was the contrast of heavy black ironwork, strong and sturdy, with the fragile and colorful flowers climbing up alongside, sometimes thrusting themselves through the bars. It was a glorious harmony reflecting the inter-connectedness of man and nature.

Tree bed on 8th Street by N.Wait

Tree bed on 8th Street by N.Wait

Then, a few days ago I was walking along thinking of the drawing I’ve been working on lately, just a simple curved fence up the block enclosing nothing more extravagant than some tall wild grasses and short vine leaves. I had taken a photograph and was working from the photo. Strangely, or perhaps not, the perspective of the shot was eye-level with a toddler or a dog… I hadn’t done it on purpose, but it was absolutely the right focus.

I left the sketchbook open on my drafting table and abandoned the drawing long enough for me to question why I was drawing it in the first place. What had I seen in this simple fence and nondescript grasses that was important enough to draw? There are so many other things I could be focusing on, and some things I should be focusing on, so why have I come back to these fences?

I asked myself what had I seen and what had I wanted to communicate as I was walking along, and the answer that came to me was harmony and flow. In the iron fence whose curves flowed like water, enclosing an unprepossessing mass of wildly growing tall grasses, I had experienced a harmonious duo.

Wrought-iron fence on 8th St., Park Slope by N.Wait

Wrought-iron fence on 8th St., Park Slope by N.Wait

And then I thought how I used to walk along looking at people and objects and things, noticing them, studying them, whereas now I am conscious of energy. Everything I see is an example of an energy flow. Some things I flow with more than others, but if it is in my environment then I am experiencing its flow. My choice is then to flow with it, or against it. (I’ve probably spent too much time flowing against what I don’t like, or flowing with what I don’t care for, but that’s a subject for another time.)

I would like to be in a place where I just experience the flow. Like the flow of this fence with the heart shapes outside the building where I live… 

The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.James Baldwin

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Exquisite Longing

watercolor by N Wait

watercolor by N Wait

Do you long, as I do, for travel not within your budget? Do you long for union, as I once longed to be two, not one? Do you long, as I sometimes do, to be somewhere other than here? Do you tell yourself as I sometimes do, that you should let go of attachments? Do you tell yourself to stop the wishing and the hoping…


Can you, do you feel the exquisite pleasure of the longing itself…

The longing for this or for that. Can those who say, Just Do It! feel that exquisite pleasure? Or those who say, Let Go…

I wonder…

I thought of this today because I was realizing how “longing” inspires me.

drawing by N Wait

drawing by N Wait

drawing by N Wait

drawing by N Wait

It inspires drawings and paintings, poems and prose.

As it does so in others… musicians too.

Not to mention Humanitarians, Philosophers, and Seekers of Truth.

drawing by N Wait

drawing by N Wait

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage from my  

l o n g i n g s…

whether they be Attachments, or not. So I don’t think I will be letting go of them anytime soon. Because it’s about feeling the longing. And I think it stemmed from the Longing To FEEL… my humanness ~

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Healing Past Life Memory

Carol Lamb, founder of Rainbow Light Foundation, author of Born Remembering talks about the release of emotional energy in her latest interview about Soul Journeys.

What was particularly interesting to me this time, (the information Carol has been giving on blog talk radio and now you tube is cumulative) was when she explained how it works. How it’s the healing that proves the story.

This resonated with me deeply, as since childhood my life has been marred or marked (there is always a choice in perception) by a disturbing past life memory of violent death. Finally, (finally!) at the age of fifty I had reason to believe I actually learned the circumstances, as well as the name and age of the girl whose experience I seemed to be remembering in dreams and later in paintings. Suddenly things began to fall into place.

Reconstructing a memory of a childhood drawing by N. Wait

Reconstructing a memory of a childhood drawing by N. Wait

This was back in 2001 when I was in the process of writing a memoir, and though it now made utter and complete sense of my story, I hesitated to proclaim this new knowledge of a soul connection. I mean, I had no proof, did I. I had no memories of the girl’s life or where she lived. All I had was a scalding memory of death.

During the next ten years of writing, I tried the book both with and without the presence of this soul memory, and found my story only made sense when I included the memory. And because it was this recognition of a soul memory that solved the mystery of my experience, I subtitled the book, The Memoir That Solved A Mystery.

The Nancy Who DrewNevertheless, when I published The Nancy Who Drew (2011) I did feel I was going out on a limb.

But not any more.

Paranormal Matters Radio Show; Freeing the mind from the prison of human perception.

Paranormal Matters Radio Show; Freeing the mind from the prison of human perception.

Aside from getting used to the idea over time, I have been listening regularly to Paranormal Matters and finding that my memories are not so unusual after all. It didn’t matter to me that a huge percentage of the global population believes in reincarnation; what has seemed to require courage has been making it personal, with names and dates.

“It’s the healing that proves the story; an exchange of energy occurs in the process, but there has to be a letting go.”

And now, what has made the difference is hearing Carol Lamb tell a story in her recent interview about the healing that occurs in recognizing past life memories. She speaks of the process of recognition, and how there is an energy exchange. What she calls “An alchemical change in energy.” She adds, perhaps most importantly, “But there also has to be a letting go in order for this to occur.”

So now I ask myself, was I healed by the memory? Was there an energy exchange? Did I let go?

Well, let us say it’s a process. Because I am currently engrossed in the sequel which deals with painting my inner life. And through the art of writing, which involves knowing consciously what my subconscious and my dreams knew all along, I have of necessity kept the past alive in my emotional body in order to share the story with others.

Writing and painting, when they delve into deeper layers of truth within, also cause “an alchemical change in energy.” 

There’s a tremendous amount of trust that goes in to undertaking a soul journey. If and when you recognize (or think you might be recognizing) a feeling or an experience from a past life but are not sure whether to trust or believe it, the answer will be in the healing of your experience, as Carol tells us.

And what I have been learning through the course of my sojourn, is how art, and now writing, are ways to know myself, and to know what I know. Creating these pictures and writings have been ways of putting the story and the feelings outside myself. This, and  the sharing of the work, are the ways I continue to let go…

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The Self-P and the Self-E

Selfies (The Self-P is for Self-Portrait. Self-portraits were the first selfies, pre-dating them by hundreds of years. Plus they took a lot longer.)

Lately I’ve been picturing dualities with the app Pic Collage, showing the difference between outer and inner selves. Which is only natural since my second memoir (in progress) is about the time I first looked (deeply) within. My tool was a paint brush, which being a lefty, was held in my left-hand. Thus with the act of painting, no less than with the hand I used, I bypassed left-brain and right-side and went straight to my intuition. I say “I” did this, but I had no control over it. It was more a case of allowing “it” to show me what I really felt and saw.
So with these two shots I am showing a self-portrait on the left done in 1987 shortly after I had come through a big hurdle. (It felt like the ring of fire.) And unlike my earlier self-portraits, I don’t appear angry or fearful, but solid and strong.

Also determined! Because after coming through that hurdle, I had been given a brand new assignment: to tell the story of how I arrived at the hurdle and how I got through it.

I took the selfie on the right with my webcam in 2011, shortly after I published my first memoir, The Nancy Who Drew; The Memoir That Solved A Mystery. I was in the front room where it got all the afternoon light, and well, you can see how light I felt! So in a way these are “before” and “after” shots. But in this case, the before shot was certainly not something I wanted to put behind me as less-than, or a look that needed improvement in any way. Perish the thought! What I had been through showed in my face – and that’s good!
I like seeing these two different sides taken 23 years apart, as a reminder of the inner-self who brought forth the woman on the right who could take such a picture of joy and lightness.
I’m working through another big hurdle now, writing the sequel, which deals specifically with the situation I faced in ‘87. The first book ended with my return to New York from London after I gave up my acting career (along with a few other things besides). This second one is about the next ten years, the years I was a painter and what it all led to. Which was namely the year 1987…and realizing it was time to stop painting, and write what the paintings meant… It’s 350 pages so far, and with every revision the story becomes more clear…

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En Pointe!

watercolor and pencil by Nancy Wait 2015

watercolor and pencil by Nancy Wait 2015

Me, dancing on my toes? I’d have to be dreaming. And actually I was. Dreaming I was in ballet shoes. Then, to my utter astonishment, my heels lifted off the ground and I was dancing en pointe! Even twirling a bit! My body felt light as a feather. There was no struggle, no pain, just this beautiful feeling of UP!

I might easily have forgotten the dream when I awoke.  It might have slipped away on gossamer wings as dreams often do, not being solid enough for this reality. But not this time. I know it was because of what I had been doing before I fell asleep. Uploading some files into my Dropbox. Ah… UP-loading…

And not just any files. These were from the course I am taking in the Quantum Light Programme at Rainbow Light Foundation.

It was one of those days when my foot had been cramping. I felt it when I got out of bed, and later that morning when I was riding the Path train to New Jersey. There were plenty of seats but I had to stand on the Path (train) to get the cramp out. A few hours later when I was home again I checked my email before heading off for a snooze, and saw the new course files had arrived from my tutor at Quantum Light. I was too dozy to read anything but the titles before uploading them for later.

The titles were as follows: “Current and Far Memory,” “Cellular Memory,” and “Positional Memory.” All three parts came under the heading of Module Five. (It struck me later how there are “five” “positions” in ballet…)

Ah, memory… Current or far, cellular or positional… you are there. Reminding me of the day half a century ago when I auditioned for the American School of Ballet. A plump, flat-footed ten-year old dreaming of becoming a ballerina.  Though I wasn’t athletic and had never been to a dance class, I was quite expressive as I danced and twirled and leapt around the living room to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, waving a long chiffon scarf in the air. I couldn’t manage a cartwheel or get my body to dive into the pool without doing a belly flop, but I had a feel for “the dance.”

Going to the open auditions at the ballet school was my mother’s idea. She said experience didn’t matter; they were looking for potential. Once we got there and I saw the other girls (hundreds of them) practicing at the bar – thin girls with long legs and long necks and long hair pulled tightly back in a bun, I must have known they wouldn’t pick me. The only surprise when the rejection letter arrived in the mail a few weeks later, was the information that I had flat feet. My mother didn’t believe it. She thought they’d made a mistake, and carted me off to the pediatrician to have the news refuted. Instead, it was confirmed. The doctor put on a grave face as he warned me that if I didn’t start wearing corrective shoes I would have backache in my fifties. This never happened. Instead of wearing corrective insteps I wore platform shoes and stilettoes. (And had cramp.)

But I would also carry with me the day I was taken into the interview room with George Balanchine. They all spoke Russian. I didn’t know what they were saying. I only knew that I was being studied and pointed at. My calves especially. I didn’t know who Balanchine was in those days, but later I saw his photo, and saw him on TV, and recognized him as the man who had touched my leg and found it wanting.

That was the end of my dancing ambitions. Though I made a go of it in small parts in musicals during my theatrical days, I lacked the necessary stamina as well as the correct bone structure. But never mind. Fifty-some years later my flat feet would go into vertical mode and spin me around. A beautiful dream, yes.

And maybe it was more than a dream. Maybe it was a memory, too. Because when I woke from my nap I remembered the titles – past life memories and such – of the Quantum Light materials that had arrived in my inbox, and I hurried off to take a look. To read how subconscious memories are held within the subtle energy fields. And soul memories exist at the cellular level, within the physical body…

I have no conscious memory as a ballerina in a past life. But the dream of dancing en pointe showed me that I knew how to do it. Whether or not my physical brain remembered, there was a memory in my light body. Perhaps a cellular memory of another time, another place. A memory of lightness, and being light on my feet, that was prodded into awareness the day I took the Path train to New Jersey and back, and had cramp, and uploaded some files about past life memory. Then closed my eyes and dreamed of lift-off and spin. The ease and familiarity, the joy of it!

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A Post-Shame Point of View

close to the boneI read this book, Close to the Bone, back when I was first beginning to write memoir. It is excellent. Here are a few quotes from the Introduction by editor Laurie Stone:

“The memoirists I find inspiring have mined self-knowledge and come clean with the goods…

“Most memoirs fail as literature because their authors mistake their experience for a story rather than search out the story in their experience…

“What matters in the memoir, as in fiction, is the degree of insight and drama…

“The challenge is to write about shame from a post-shame point of view, to enter an ego-free zone, cleared of mirror-worship and whining, to walk out naked and speak intimately… rather the teller sets up the self as a lab rat and mounts folly and error as exhibits that can be surrounded, poked. The project is to winnow romance and vanity from the way others see the self…

“With self-scrutiny the teller transforms blunders into the only shapely and reliably honorable offering that can be made of such materials: art.”

Isn’t that great? I thought so. I read this book almost 20 years ago and Stone’s Introduction has stayed with me. I especially love this line (about after you’ve written your story):

What’s left is a voice that may once have told its story as a weeper but now knows, ineluctably, it is threaded with comedy.

Yes! When I was in grad school (2001) and read a particular excerpt aloud to an audience, a passage that to me had been heart-wrenching, tragic even – they roared with laughter! I couldn’t believe it! Why were they laughing at my pain… Well, that was then and this is now… And only time could bring me to the point where, if I couldn’t laugh at myself, I could at least see why others thought it funny.

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