Brooklyn Rainbow

rainbow ringA poet friend once called me an

“Over-the-Rainbow-Survivor.”

Now, while it was true I had the ring to prove it, I didn’t understand the full meaning of that phrase until later.

Not until today, actually, when I looked again at the pastel painting I did over the weekend of a rainbow intersecting the Brooklyn Bridge, its light shimmering on the water.

Brooklyn Rainbow, pastel on paper 20x30, Nancy Wait 2015

Brooklyn Rainbow, pastel on paper 20×30, Nancy Wait 2015

The key here is water.

When I think of a rainbow I think of the sky. The song we all know so well speaks of somewhere over the rainbow, a place for birds to fly to, not us. For us it is only a dream, a wish…

Unless you become a deep-sea diver, and follow the (heavenly) (reflected) light into the (earthly) waters of dream and imagination… bringing those depths of feeling up to the surface, perhaps in a painting, perhaps in a story…  But somehow giving it expression. Making it real.

An “Over-the-Rainbow-Survivor” is an idealist who survived. A dreamer who never lapsed. Never became cynical. A person who could grow up to see her illusions crushed, stampeded into the ground and trod on, yet still found joy in a rainbow.

An “Over-the-Rainbow-Survivor” is really someone who went under the surface, who followed the light reflected in the water… in order to one day rise to that level of light, (the inner light). Following it all the way, until it surfaced again, refreshed and cleansed, after she had come full circle.

Originally, I moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn in 1982 when my marriage ended and I was resolved to paint my inner life. After four years I returned to Manhattan to complete the series of paintings I called “Journey to the Deep.” Then two years later, in 1988, I met my second husband, and we moved back to Brooklyn where I have remained ever since.

The second marriage didn’t last either, but my union with Brooklyn did. And eventually, my union with the rainbow.

Rainbow Light FdnIt was this light which led me to join Rainbow Light Foundation. Located in the north of England, it is a ‘not for profit’, non-denominational organisation founded by Carol Lamb and dedicated to promoting greater understanding of the soul sciences; the links between body, mind and consciousness.

I now administer the Rainbow Light Forum, and am currently enrolled in the Quantum Light Programme of the Academy of Spiritual Sciences.

You can find me on Face Book here: https://www.facebook.com/RainbowBrooklyn

And on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/LightInBrooklyn

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Only A Dream Away

Recording a dream in watercolor and colored pencils, by Nancy Wait 2015

Recording a dream in watercolor and colored pencils, by Nancy Wait 2015

On Thursday, March 26th, I went to see my mother twenty-eight years after her death. It wasn’t until after I woke from the dream that I realized her hair was yellow. Long yellow hair falling past her shoulders. My mother had dark hair; she had never been a blonde, never worn her hair long.

Then the reason came to me. She was in her light body.

Earlier that day I had been writing about a painting I’d done years ago of two figures, one light-haired, the other dark. The fair-haired one represented innocence and being born anew. The dark-haired one was off to the side feeling sad and dejected. I had been up since 4 a.m., so by the afternoon I was ready for a nap.

My mother, Frances McCarthy, 1945

My mother, Frances McCarthy, 1945

During my nap I dreamed I was on my way to visit my mother where she used to live in Decatur, Illinois. I had taken the bus, and we stopped to change buses. I went to buy a ticket for the last leg of the journey, and saw my mother behind the ticket counter with long yellow hair.  I asked if she could give me a lift back to her house. She said it wasn’t possible, and, “I’ll see you there.” Then she sort of faded into the background of the parking lot…

Waking up from the nap was like emerging from a deep well of the unconscious, and I struggled to get my bearings. I had to remind myself that my mother was no longer alive. Then I looked at the lock-screen on my phone and learned that while I was sleeping there had been an explosion and fire and building collapse in the East Village, two blocks from where I lived twenty-eight years ago when my mother died. As the day progressed I divided my attention between coverage of the fire and thinking about the dream of my mother with yellow hair.

This was in fact the third visit to my mother in the afterlife. The first time was shortly after her death, that same week in fact, when I saw her with her parents, seated between them in their old house in Decatur. Their faces were ghostly white, and I realized my mother didn’t yet know that she was no longer in the physical body. Her passing had come out of the blue, catching us all unawares. She hadn’t suffered an illness or seen death approaching. A cerebral hemorrhage had taken her, taken us all, by surprise. Then, a few years later, in the next decade, I went to see her again in a dream. We were on a cruise, sailing between the fjords, and she was comparing our leather handbags, saying I had the better one. (Comparing animal skins, our animal bodies, who had the better “skin.”) This harked back to an issue of our relationship in life, and I thought I’d better leave her alone for a while. Fifteen years passed, during which time I got on with my life, and my mother got on with her evolution in the after-life.

Kathleen 1990That the third dream should come this week was no accident. After the solstice and the eclipse and the new moon, shortly before Easter, and shortly before my mother would have turned 90, I was thinking of my older sister, Kathleen, who would have been 70 last Monday. Kathleen passed away 20 years ago when she was 50. (All these round numbers!) It was clear to those of us who knew Kathleen, that when she departed this life she was headed straight back to the angelic world. I have kept Kathleen’s picture on the mantle all this time, but this year on her birthday, finding that I missed her presence more than usual, I decided to post her picture on facebook and pay homage to her memory.

I would not be at all surprised if Kathleen had a hand in arranging the meeting with my mother. Or that I was now “light” enough to see my mother’s lightness. I miss my loved ones, yet though they are gone, I know they are only a dream away.

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Flowering Through the Mists of Time

Primroses by Nancy Wait (2015)

Primroses by Nancy Wait (2015)

Some of us need to remember a past-life in order to better understand this one. I had memories thrust upon me in childhood, as if the purpose of this life was to remember the last one. To remember death in order to know there is no death, only a continuity of the soul. I recorded the story of my childhood drawings and dreams in my memoir, The Nancy Who Drew. It was subtitled, The Memoir That Solved A Mystery, because I found answers through the writing.

However, there was one mystery that remained unsolved. It had to do with a story of yellow primroses and a little English girl, an evacuee, who was sent to live in America during the war. I had found the story by myself in the local library in the late 1950s, and the effect on me was profound and deep and long-lasting. I think one reason the memory remained as strong as it did was because although the story began as one about loss, about leaving home and family behind, it became a happily one when the girl found primroses also grew in America. My dreams and drawings had been about death, and this story was about renewal, and finding a treasured memory in a new land. No wonder I was consoled. I remembered the title as The Yellow Primrose, and forty years later, when I began writing about the past, I tried to find the book again. I was asking myself, what did I know about a past life, and when did I know it? I felt certain this book held a clue, but the only copy I could locate was in the Library of Congress. It may as well have been in Timbuktu.

I published my memoir, and four years later as I neared completion of the sequel, I thought of The Yellow Primrose again. The roundabout path to rediscovering the book began the day I opened my Kindle and saw an advertisement for Christopher Milne’s biography, Enchanted Places. I had never heard of it before, and I was glad I had not paid more money for a Kindle without advertisements. I began reading Enchanted Places, and his next, The Path Through The Trees, and became interested in finding out more about his father, A.A. Milne. I discovered he had written, It’s Too Late Now, An Autobiography of a Writer. Too late for what, I wondered? I did a search, and found it in the archives at the New York Public Library. I had to make a request for it in advance, and in the process I thought why not look up The Yellow Primrose again while I’m at it. And there it was. They had it in the archives. I couldn’t believe it had been there all along. I put in a request for both books for the following week and then failed to show up. We were in another deep winter freeze with snow and ice. I had waited this long to find The Yellow Primrose; why not wait till the spring.

NY Public LibraryBut I couldn’t wait. I ordered The Yellow Primrose again, and presented myself at the call desk. Now, after a wait of eighteen years, I was told I only had to wait thirty more minutes—forty-five at the most. I was on pins and needles. I went outside to get some air.

After pacing up and down in front of the entrance and paying my respects to the literary lions, Patience and Fortitude, I returned to the reading room to claim my book. That it was on the thick side for a children’s book, and the print was small and densely packed, did not dissuade me. The title was right. The date of publication seemed right—1928, London. I dove in. Even when part of me knew this wasn’t the right book, I kept reading. I kept reading because I couldn’t give up. Not yet. Then I thought if I could find the passage that referred to yellow primroses, it wouldn’t be a complete waste. But I couldn’t find it. I admitted defeat and went home thinking at least I tried.

When I got home I found I had received a lot of notifications on facebook. I had forgotten that while I was at the library waiting for them to fetch my book, I had posted about it, mentioning how nervous and excited I was to think after all these years at last I might reconnect to a childhood memory—and in a tactile way—holding the book that connected me to a soul memory all those years ago. “What’s the book?” What’s the name of the book?” my friends were asking. So I told them, including the part about my hopes being dashed, and feeling some parts of childhood need to be left behind, even for a memoirist.

Primrose DayBut one of my facebook friends took the time to look up a children’s book with primroses in the title, something I had never thought to do, and she found one called Primrose Day that she also remembered as a child. Could this possibly be it, she wondered? It could. It was.

I ordered the book on Amazon and then I read it. For the first picking primrosestime in almost sixty years, I reacquainted myself with the little girl who came to America and longed to see the primroses from home. She found them. And in finding her again, I found the flower that bloomed through the mists of time.

I have tried to request A.A. Milne’s autobiography again, but keep getting the message that it is in transit. I will still try, though It’s Too Late Now no longer applies to me.

Yellow Primroses

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Re-noir – Not Renoir

judges 1I was waking up to myself. A dream I had around this time suggested there was an urgency for more awareness. In the dream I was called before a panel of judges. Auditioning before a panel of judges had been the bane of my existence as an actress. Will they want me or reject me. Always that need to be wanted, accepted, and it’s shadow, the fear of not being good enough. The underlying nature of an audition meant offering yourself to be rejected. It didn’t matter how talented you were or what experience you had if you were not what they had in mind. Their minds. Pleasing them. The inquisitors. It was understandable that my dreamtime would reflect those tortuous memories.

One of the judges belted out, “Who are you?”

petrifiedI was silent, too petrified to speak.

The question was repeated, louder this time.

Who Are You?

My mouth was dry with fear. I didn’t know what to say, what answer to give.

I reached into my stomach for a piece of gut. (The beauty stomach gutof searching for my gut feeling!) My hand was magically able to reach through the skin of my abdomen to pull out a piece of intestine. A small piece only a few inches long that was dried out, mummified.I held it as a silent offering.

The judges were not appeased. The demand was repeated a third time.

judges 2WHO ARE YOU? 

RenoirI had to say something. The name Renoir came to me was. I whispered, Renoir. Then I woke up.

Renoir? But I couldn’t be Renoir. I scrambled out of bed to look at myself in the mirror. It was dark in the bedroom and I didn’t want to wake my husband so I hurried to the mirror above the sofa in the living room. Day was breaking, but there was enough light to see that I still looked like myself. Even as I knew it was crazy, I half expected an old Frenchman in a straw hat with a white beard to peer back at me through the mirror. The dream had been that real. Lately, I had also been catching myself stroking my chin, as if to stroke an imaginary beard or goatee. It only happened when I was painting, but I thought it an odd thing to do. Was I trying to give myself a message that I had been Renoir in a past life? I didn’t think so. It was wishful thinking wanting to be a great painter, but I didn’t want to be Renoir. I loved his paintings as a child and admired him now, but I had never aspired to paint like him, let alone be him.

Re-noir with paletteThis unlikely dream remained unresolved but not forgotten. I finally made some sense of it when I started seeing the name as a word in French. Re-noir instead of Renoir. Re noir. French for back-to-black. Black, as in the darkness of the subconscious, the unknown. It was what I ended up doing as an artist, painting my subconscious. I went into the dark to shed light on it. Who was I? Not Renoir, but one who would re-noir. Return, go back to what I’d left behind, buried in the depths of my subconscious. What I knew was there in my gut. I would have to go back. The judges, those who were watching and judging me on the inner planes, demanded it. I would one day come to see the dream as part of an initiatory process, and I would know that the harshness of the judges was merely a reflection of how I judged myself in those days. Who are you was the question that gnawed at my insides. Because I did not know who I was.

It had been a long time—four or five years—since a light had shone on my inner world. Not since that morning in London when I awoke from a dream of death and the door opened at the bottom of the sea. The door to the inner world. Then a message filtered in that I had things inside, knowledge, that I could only reach by painting or writing. Until that moment, the inner world had seemed as impregnable as it was dark. But now my life was focused on seeing. Feeling what I saw. The Renoir dream was a wakeup call. It was time to get in touch with the inner knowing I didn’t even know I had.

(This is an excerpt from my new book, the sequel to The Nancy Who Drew, the Memoir That Solved a Mystery. )

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Books For Boots

watercolor by N Wait 2015

watercolor by N Wait 2015

These are the boots I bought ten years ago with the money I made from selling my books at the Strand bookstore. Books, which had always been able to warm my heart and soul and send my imagination soaring, could not keep my feet warm and dry in the winter unless I was reading by the fire. True, I didn’t have a fireplace, but I had radiators. I also had a pair of old boots that no longer kept the water out. I was tired of putting my feet into plastic bags before putting on my boots for slushy city streets.

I had always been proud of my book collection, and luckily my apartment had the kind of long wide hallway where it was possible to place my narrow bookcases against the entire length of one wall. This had the added advantage of being able to stack new books on top, higher and higher against the wall. This arrangement worked well for many years. And then one day it didn’t.

Three things had occurred. 1) The hallway had begun to feel claustrophobic. What I had jokingly referred to as the “Hall of Learning” no longer seemed apt. 2) My son was growing up and wanted to collect his own books. I had been saving much of my collection for him, but now there didn’t seem a point to it as even if he wanted to read something I already had, he preferred to buy his own, new copy. 3) Office work, my old standby, was no longer feasible after I went deaf in one ear, and I was strapped for cash. There was enough for essentials, but not for new winter boots (for me).

I wore out my little black suitcase on wheels carting load after load of weighty tomes up and down the subway steps from Brooklyn to Union Square in Manhattan, but every journey was worth the exchange for cold hard cash. There was always a line of people waiting to see if their books would sell, though most had backpacks instead of a suitcase. When it was my turn I held my breath as I unloaded my treasures onto the counter and waited to hear a yea or a nay. Once, when the checker was thumbing through one of my books and found I had underlined several passages, he shoved it back to me across the counter and yelled, “What are you bringing this to me for? You’ve marked it up!”

Nevertheless, the bookcases in the hallway began to empty out to the extent that I could even get rid of  a couple of shelving units themselves. Meanwhile, on my way from Union Square and Fourteenth Street to the Strand at Fourth Avenue and Twelfth, I happened to pass a shoe store and noticed they were having a sale on winter boots. Uggs, no less. From Australia. With book money in hand, I was able to buy the warmest, tallest Ugg boots in soft gray suede. I wore them outside. I wore them inside. When I went to visit a friend on a snowy day I persuaded her to let me keep my boots on indoors (after carefully brushing the snow off).

The years passed. Ten of them by now. The boots eventually ceased to be waterproof though I sprayed them with the special Ugg spray, at least in the beginning. The boots got dirty too, but I kind of liked the stains. I just did a search for Ugg boots, and mine are obviously a discontinued style. Which makes them all the more precious.

new boots (Last winter, due to a part-time care-giver job, I was able to buy another pair of winter boots to keep the slush from seeping in.

hallwayThis is a picture of how the hallway looks today. It looks reasonable. And there is more space to hang paintings. I still have plenty of books… Why is the front door painted red? Well, I stopped painting the town red years ago, and I never had a barn to paint red… but I did have a door.

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Street Scenes or Inner Life?

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

Once upon a time I fled the Upper East Side of Manhattan for what was then the wilds of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. My motive was a (very) cheap rent for lots of space in unfamiliar surroundings where I might recreate myself (again). My intention was to paint my inner life. Then, hankering for some outer life during my second year, I took to the streets to see what was there. I recorded my findings in an 11×14 inch sketchbook.

I found a woman selling Bibles, hats and tambourines outside the church on Eastern Parkway.

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

I found shoppers examining fruit at the produce stand on Utica Avenue while the crowd surged by.

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

A man trimming vegetables on the sidewalk of Utica Avenue.

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

And then I found a woman going inside the pizza shop while another woman waited outside with her children.

Then, just as suddenly as they had begun, my appetite for street scenes came to a halt. I went back to my inner life.

The very next drawings in the sketchbook were about the shadow-self and the dream-self.

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

watercolor by N Wait 1983

8th St just off 7th Av by N Wait 2015

8th St just off 7th Av by N Wait 2015

And now, all these years later, I’ve gone back to drawing street scenes. This time of Park Slope, where I live now. My inspiration was the Sketchbook Project.

Because I see now I’m not happy unless I’m serving both, outer and Inner…

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That Soothing Art

A soothing art for broken hearts… That was Van Gogh’s take on painting, and he was a hundred percent correct. If you are painting from life, then an activity like painting and drawing takes you outside of yourself, into the world of form. You feel the form instead of your own misery. It can hurt to feel too much. But I’d rather the hurt be one of feeling too much beauty in the world.

I cannot say exactly when this transition occurred. It happened over time. I would transcend, then fall back. Transmute, then fall back again.

Sad Nancy, early 20s

Sad Nancy, early 20s

IMG_2742

Self-portrait watercolor 1985

I experienced my share of sorrow in my early life. As a child I drew pictures I wouldn’t fully grasp until I was much older. Acting was my art form of choice in those days. Feeling other characters. Getting out of myself by getting into someone else. Their clothes and makeup, their dialogue and relationships. I got out of myself, but there was no healing, and in my late twenties I went back to drawing and painting.

Sad Nancy early 30s

Sad Nancy early 30s

For the first three years I learned how to paint the world around me. Then I went within and began to paint the sadness.

Fish In A Bowl and Me Outside; oil on canvas, early 80s by N Wait

Fish In A Bowl and Me Outside; oil on canvas, early 80s by N Wait

Only when I got to the bottom of my sadness was I able to rise above it. I called the series Journey To The Deep, and chronicled that perilous passage in my second memoir which I hope to soon publish.

Meanwhile, I am ready to talk about the ‘T’ at the end of the word ‘pain.’ I call it the T for Transition. (I wrote about this T in a blog last month, and how I turned the T into a bridge.) brushesBut today I’m seeing the T as two crossed paintbrushes. They look as big as broomsticks. Brooms to sweep away unconsciousness. Sweep away the cobwebs. Painting itself is a transitioning process. It’s about seeing and feeling, and recording what you see and feel. It’s a transformative process. As you transform a blank canvas or blank sheet of paper into a viable picture (whatever that may be), you also transform your way of being in the world. This T is a cross. The horizontal plane of the physical world of form crossed with the vertical plane of higher consciousness.

I painted out my sadness through the 80s and 90s. And then I was able to write about it. Because the act of putting my feelings on a surface outside of myself gave me the necessary distance of objectivity I needed as a writer.

NancyThis was me in 2008. After my heart opened up again. Writing my story has brought me wholeness and healing. But first I had to paint the feelings, because I had no words for it then. I haven’t decided on a title yet for Volume 2. The first book was called The Nancy Who Drew… so I’m thinking of calling the second one, The Nancy Who Drew Herself Home… because actually, that is what happened…

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