The Sneezy-Wheezy Gift

IMG_0714This writer’s new BFF – is a Cold!

I admit it’s strange considering I’ve often boasted of never getting colds except on extremely rare occasions… Well, “Pride always goes before a fall,” and after this particular surprise, my thinking about colds is undergoing an about-face.

This wasn’t so when the first symptom appeared – an exhaustion I couldn’t account for. Extra sleep was called for and arranged, but to no avail. Still I did not relent. “I’m fighting off a cold,” I said with a bright smile, as if I already had it licked.

Not so fast, said the cold. Every day I seemed to get worse, and finally I had to admit I had a zinger. But how could this have happened? How could I let my frequencies drop to such a low point where I would fall prey to germs? I’ve always equated my good immune system with my energy level. With staying in that “good” energy band, above the fray. 

It was humbling. And yet enlightening too. Because the upshot was some new writing this morning. Amidst the coughing and the sneezing, thoughts I hadn’t considered before started to pour out. And then I remembered someone once told me that a cold means the soul is crying…

It’s like when you want to cry but you can’t. You might not even know that you want to cry. And then you get a cold. And you suffer through the cold. And all the while, though you may not know it, your soul is releasing whatever it was that made you feel like crying.

It’s all about releasing. Call it a cough or a cold but do call it humbling. When you’re humble you’re vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to be open, maybe in ways that don’t feel good. But if you’re a writer you have to be open, and keep opening more and more to get to the core. 

Today I got to some good stuff. I’ve been writing memoir for too many years not to recognize when I’ve hit the mark, and how hard it can be to get there. So bless me, and bless my cold for being such a gift. A sneezy-wheezy gift – but a gift, nevertheless.     

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On Seeking


1976 ~ One morning before dawn I dreamed of a door that opened under water into a different sort of water. I did not step over the threshold. That would be a step for waking life. When I woke up I sat at this desk in the picture, (I admit I tidied it up for the camera) which had been new in 1976, and wrote down the dream. Later that day I wrote Seek and Thee Shall Find and stuck it on the door in the center as a reminder.

And so it began. The inner search and the outer search, but mostly the search within. Which turned out to be probing, prodding and poking myself through the art of painting and then the art of writing memoir, in order to bring forth whatever lay hidden within. Art as research, because of those hidden doorways that tend to spring open in the silence of those solo forays into unplumbed depths of the soul. A singularly focused activity of bearing witness to the Self.   

2001 ~ Twenty-five years later I found what I hadn’t consciously known I was searching for. Yet it was found all the same, because of seeking the art of the thing through images and then seeking it through words. The art of a thing because art is emotional and intuitive and right brain. And if it is heartfelt, its expression will be beyond what the mind can know. If it is heartfelt, it will be true, and the mind will recognize its truth.

2016 ~ Another fifteen more years have gone by and I am still sitting at this desk made of yew wood. It is worse for the wear, but then so am I. Lately my seeking has revolved around narrating the last chapter of my memoir. It is my second book. The first one was about everything that led up to having a dream where a door would open under water. The sequel is about what happened afterwards, and ends with another opening. Though not a door per se, certainly an opening into a different sort of life. A different sort of water, like in the dream.

It has been troublesome describing events that led up this second opening. I finally decided it was okay to say I didn’t understand what was happening. This was true in a sense, because my mind could not comprehend it. And I didn’t know how to write the chapter without sounding as if I’d lost my mind. (Which was also true, in a sense.) The truth was that I gave up. Even as I was seeking to understand, I surrendered. I let go. I surrendered to what was happening even as I had surrendered myself to the dream years earlier. In fact, both openings, the one with the image of a door and the one without it, came about through profound experiences of letting go. If seeking is active, it would seem finding requires a letting go. Which is not to say that finding is passive, or that surrendering is passive.

Whether I shall ever let go of this desk remains to be seen. It has traveled with me across the ocean, then was parked in several Manhattan apartments before crossing the river to Brooklyn. Then back it went to Manhattan for a bit, before coming at last to Brooklyn again, where it has resided ever since. And where I sit now, with my legs parked under it. Yew wood. Which I like thinking of as you would. As in, I would. Seek. And find. The search began when I sat at this desk one morning in 1976…


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To Look Within

Looking Within

I was not raised to look within but without. But without looking in, I was without.

I write my life to know my life. When I write my life, the inner truth comes out. It’s like when I draw, a barrier disappears. Or fades to the background. And suddenly I’m in touch with this other vibratory field. This other awareness that rises to the surface and makes itself known.

In writing class, whether they call it opening a vein or peeling an onion, it’s the same thing, accessing a different energy field.

Is it deeper? Is it higher? Or is it just a different frequency band…

In regular life we are usually too busy processing our surroundings, all the different sounds and sights coming at us at once. But when we stop and sit still, and focus on just one thing, one object, one thought, one memory, we forget where we are. We forget the time and the day. We forget our name. We forget where we are. I feel like I’m outside of myself, yet somehow I’m also deeper within…

The man who has no inner life is the slave of his surroundings. ~ Henri Frederic Amiel

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Drawing Cured A Stomach Ache

LargeDid you know that drawing can cure stomach aches? Me either! But apparently it does. At first I thought I might have had a case of the New Year Blahs. Except that would have been out of character for me. The other idea that came was too awful – a sudden onset of gluten intolerance. I would hate that.

But then I got to thinking about December 28th when I tripped. That awful feeling when you know you’re going down and there’s absolutely NOTHING you can do about it. I said, “Oh Noooo!” And down I went, still repeating, “Oh Noooo!” But aside from a slight hand sprain that was gone the next day, and an invisible soreness on my left cheekbone, also gone the next day, and glasses slightly bent out of shape, there was no physical damage.

But my confidence plummeted.

For the next few days I changed from low-heeled boots to boots with practically no heel at all. I walked slower. I was more deliberate in my steps. And then I forgot about it and got on with things having to do with New Years.

And then the new year began. And the stomach aches came. It was hard to get anything done when all I wanted to do was lie down and rest and watch movies or read. But then I had an idea. Why not draw a picture of myself tripping? Losing control. That flying feeling before the “Oh Noooo!” began. To have something to go by I Googled images of people tripping. (I had to include the word ‘over’ so Google wouldn’t think I was looking for pictures of people on acid.) And believe it or not, just by looking at the pictures and planning my drawing I started feeling stronger.

So then I wondered why that was. And I thought, well, by drawing it I would be taking control of my experience. I would be the orchestrator, as it were. I’d lost control when I tripped, and now I was taking the control back. I’d said Noooo when I fell, and now I was saying Yessss.

(This is actually the subject matter of my second memoir which I’m almost finished with – working-title, The Nancy Who Drew the Way Home. It’s about the seven years in my 30s when I painted pictures of all the feelings I was going through, and what that led to. It was something positive.)

It’s now been 24 hours since conception and execution of the drawing, and the stomach ache has not returned. (Yessss!)

Now here’s the postscript. The real kicker. Between starting the drawing and finishing it, I went out to do a few errands. Then, as I was walking home, crossing the street, I almost got hit by a car. I had the light. I was walking on the painted cross-walk when this big SUV suddenly swerves around the corner. But I was nimble. I was quick! I jumped out of the way and it missed me by inches. The driver stopped and let me vent a few minutes, but I was alright. He said, “Are you alright?” And I had to admit that I was. So he drove on and I continued home, thinking about what it all meant, coming to the conclusion that it was proof how nimble and quick I could be. I saw I had a choice to think how awful to be almost hit by a car, or, Wow, wasn’t that something the way my body lurched so handily out of the way! So now my confidence is doubly restored. 2016. Bring. It. On…

P.P.S. I was also glad I’ve been doing the Emerald Alignment, which at the end has you visualizing a blue band of protection around yourself. Comes in very handy. Here’s the link if you’d like to try it yourself:

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A Writer’s Despair is an Artist’s Delight

at her desk

I began this sketch last summer when I despaired how to deal with a chapter that left me flummoxed then and in a pickle now. Since my hands couldn’t type I thought to use them to draw how I felt not being able to write. I intended a scream of despair, and instead a sort of musing, mulling it over came through. So I abandoned the drawing and got back to the business of writing. Now, months later, back to reworking the chapter yet again, I had another thought about the process and thought to finish the drawing and add this to it:

There’s a hum to the universe, a thrum to the universe, an AUM or an OM. To make the sound is to put yourself in the sightlines, the crosshairs, the frequency band of the universe. The sitting still, the closing of eyes, the opening of heart to ALL That Is…

I sat, but not entirely still. I left eyes open, a little. I raised my arms more in despair than in prayer. For my task was not To Be Here Now, but to Be Back There Where It All Began. Back in Time. To Feel the Hum of Days Gone By When I Lived Through An Emotional Cyclone And Was Ravaged By the Beast. Torn Asunder. Yet Lived To Tell The Tale. Here, now, telling the tale, wanting to scream in despair at the impossibility of trying to make sense of a love that made no sense at all… And so putting myself back in Time, back in the Frequency of a Younger Self, of days gone by. The one who Let It Happen. Because she felt the Humming and the Thrumming.

Is memoir writing the best form of Time Travel ever?

Writing memoir, writing memories, is to put yourself back in a frequency band that no longer exists.

Or does it? Is memoir writing the best form of Time Travel ever? Traveling back into your own past to feel again the vibrations you could only have felt then, feeling the hum and the thrum of them, the quickening of the heart. The chaos that followed was part of it too. That’s the rub. Remembering the chaos. But now you can sort it. Be Here and be There, when it was not yet sorted. But now you can Remember it with Love. Be here now, remembering with Love, what Was Then. Bringing it into the Aum and the Om of the Now. Bringing it into your open heart. To make peace with it. So stay in the seat of Remembrance. Stay in the hum and the thrum.

And so I Continue where I left off… but for one difference. The hand once thrown up in despair, is now ready to catch an idea, should it float through the air ~~~

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The Truth About Acting

Dixie in "The Big Knife" Rada 1972

Nancy Wait as Dixie in “The Big Knife”
Rada 1972

The only time I had *ATTITUDE* was when I was on stage playing a character. This picture was when I played the tough-cookie starlet Dixie in “The Big Knife” at Rada. I also played a murderer when I was at school. Then when I went into the profession I was cast as a drug-pusher, a thief, a call-girl and a hooker. Finally, when I got cast as a cockney maid, it was too little too late. I couldn’t face auditioning for another lost soul as one of “Kennedy’s Children,” so I gave the whole thing up and started looking for my own soul.

What I learned as an actor should be shouted from the rooftops by every single one of us who has ever trod the boards – that along with the heartbreak that so often comes with a life in the theater, comes the knowledge that we all have in us the possibility of every human thought that has ever been considered. We don’t have to act on it, but we can act it. Play it. Because we know how to play. We know how to imagine “what if.”

Not for us to stand on the sidelines watching, saying “How can so-and-so do that or say that?” because we know how to get inside that person’s head and heart (however black it might be) and feel what he/she feels. And this is truly something. Because along with this compassionate understanding comes a willingness to forgive… We don’t have to like it or give it our approval in order to forgive. But every spec of forgiveness goes a long way in lightening the load of the world, making it just that teeny bit brighter…

Namaste ~

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Brooklyn Buildings 10th Street

Finished PieceI love these buildings. They’re on Tenth Street between 5th and 6th (Brooklyn) and I’ve walked by them so many times. But not till recently when I decided to start drawing the neighborhood did I stop and really LOOK at them. And then of course I thought what a wonderful picture they’d make.

I thought to show you the differentPencil Sketch stages the picture has gone through, from a pencil sketch,

laying in the colorto laying in the initial colors, to a finished piece.

The woman coming down the block was looking at her phone. I didn’t manage to capture that telling modern detail as my sketchbook is only 8.5 x 12 inches and I’m not a miniaturist. The blue fencing was a muddle at first because it had the unusual quality of slanting inwards. I don’t know when I’d seen this before, so it took me awhile to even “see” it. This is one of the peculiarities of drawing; we draw what we know, not what we see. It takes time for the brain to register what it is seeing, and until we practice observing, we overlook most of what is before our eyes because a) there’s simply too much to take in, and b) we think we know what we’re seeing anyway. Which is why even if you don’t want to take up sketching, it’s a great exercise to pretend to be a tourist in your own neighborhood and go around ooohing and ahhhing at sights you’ve grown so accustomed to you don’t even see them anymore.

Watercolor by N Wait Eighth Street, Park Slope

Watercolor by N Wait
Eighth Street, Park Slope

If you would like to see more of my drawings of Park Slope, please visit my Facebook page: Painting Park Slope And if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by at Java Joe’s for an excellent brew. Aside from coffees and teas and imported sweets from England and

art by N Wait 9th Street, Park Slope

art by N Wait
9th Street, Park Slope

Ireland, you will be able to see one of my paintings for sale on the wall and a couple of my postcards.

I got into drawing buildings years ago quite by chance, but I’ve been looking at them ever since I was five and we moved to Manhattan from a sleepy suburb of Chicago called Skokie. The first time I saw the lights of New York I thought we’d moved to fairy-land. I simply had nothing else to compare it with. I think the need to compare something startlingly new with something already known must be some kind of innate human need, because it wasn’t long before I found something.

Picture a five-year-old walking by herself – in those days it was quite common – to and from school twice a day (we came home for lunch) with nothing else to do but look at her strange surroundings and wonder at them. What came to mind was what I had seen in my mother’s sewing box. The tall brick buildings of the Upper West Side reminded me of my mother’s needle cases, and the people inside were the needles. The cars rolling by were spools of thread. And now the city made sense to me.

In later years, (though not so very many) I elaborated a bit on the analogy of the sewing supplies, and saw the whole world as God’s mending basket, which somehow we’d all landed in for repairs.

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