Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Soul Searching...'Set Free the Statue'

Sharing: The Journey

Another snowy day is upon us...I should be shoveling, I should be outside snapping away at the glory of it all but instead I buried my head in files of papers and folders looking for a special story, 'Set Free the Statue', a story that was sent to me nearly fifteen years ago. It resonated with me so deeply at the time that I kept it to pass along to anyone else that might 'need' it too. 

It took a few hours but I finally found it. I was hoping to find a note indicating the author of this story and the name of the person who sent it to me. No luck. I am hoping that the sender might recognize it and fill me in on the missing pieces or one of you might recognize the author. 

I am sending it to a friend in the hope that she will find the same comfort as I did when I was at a difficult crossroad with grief. It is those elusive days, weeks and months that pass, when you still feel the heartache and "thundering silence" but are at a loss as to how to move forward. This story found its way to me at just the right time and it made enough of a difference that I saved it. It was not a solution but a turning point. I am posting it today for anyone who may find comfort in it or knows of someone who might. 

Again...these are not my words, but if needed, I hope it helps.

Set Free the Statue- author unknown

 "Life’s changes had been too many, too sudden, too riddled with pain. I felt numb and frozen, trapped in my quiet despair. I could no longer hear the voice of my heart, instead I heard only a thundering silence. I wanted nothing more than to find the healing path and to regain my sense of self. I needed clarity and direction. I needed to find peace. 

A friend of mine called and offered his sage advice. He recommended I take a stomp, which was his term for a therapeutic walk. He explained that whenever his shoulders weighed heavy, he set out for the woods, the city streets, the country sidewalks. It mattered not where the physical journey took him, he claimed the act itself always cleared his mind, broke through his silence, and, most importantly, allowed him to “set free the statue.” He’s a man of metaphor, and the deeper meaning of his words always had the power to intrigue and challenge me. This friend of mine was very wise. 

I lived in a small town of radiant beauty. My home and workplace were nestled between the mountains, the ocean, the art museum and the botanical gardens. Each were less than a mile away, yet how long had it been since I tasted the ocean air, felt the crackle of leaves beneath my feet, or breathed in the inspiration of the masters. Far too long. 

My practical mind told me I had no time for a walk, but my soul cried out, demanding attention. I’d only steal an hour, I promised myself. It would nourish me. Heeding the advice of my friend, I grabbed my sketchbook and pen and closed the door behind me. I didn’t have a clue as to where I was going, but trusted I’d know when I arrived. And so it happened. 

I decided to take the back streets, in hopes the charm of this city would lift my spirits. My pace was fast, too fast to truly appreciate the willow-lined paths that guarded my trail. My thoughts were too burdened to recognize what the moment was offering. My limbs felt heavy and stiff, my mind a chamber of tangled concerns, my heart still trapped in pain. I’m sure the briskness of my movements were a subconscious effort to set myself free. I was not yet aware of how significant this would be in the moments to come. 

In less than fifteen minutes the sound of the wind in the trees was replaced by the rumble of a city street. I looked up to find myself facing the carved stone pillars of the art museum. A banner greeted me, claiming a Rodin exhibit. “Lovely,” I sighed, amazed at how I had arrived here with so little memory of the journey. The sharp truth of this realization made me reach for my pen, and I scrawled out the words: 

How often are we 
so preoccupied 
in our own private woes, 
our fears, our worries 
that we miss
 the beauty of the journey.
 Lift the veil. 
Pay attention. 
The landscape is so 
much larger 
than we can see. 

Closing my book, I stepped into the lyrical hush of the museum walls. The scent of marble, bronze, and recently polished wooden floors teased my senses. Smiling guards stood at the corner of each room. School children shuffled past quickly, whispering excitement over some exhibit in an adjacent hall. I deliberately began to pace my steps. 

Room by room I stomped lightly. I felt as if I had entered a world of healing silence that I had almost forgotten to remember. What simple joy it was to hear the echo of my own footsteps. In some strange way, the sound was telling me that I was moving ahead, moving through, moving forward. 

Ever so slowly, the peaceful voice inside of me was beginning to return, or perhaps I was just finally beginning to listen. But this, too, would not be rushed. Like a painting not yet finished, or a poem awaiting its final line, true insight has a way of delaying itself in times of shadow. I’ve come to believe this is part of the healing process. It takes a long while of ruminating on the painful angst of complexities before the soothing brilliance of simplicity surfaces. 

My pace continued. I began to hear the faint rustling of passionate thought, contemplation wrapped in the voice of memory, a promising tune hinting at my future. Soon I found myself alone in a room with no doors, only open passageways leading into new rooms. How appropriate. I was taken by the symmetry of this concept, and once again I reached for my pen. Stumbling into a wooden bench, I sat, eyes to paper, my hand moving effortlessly across the page. 

When heartache appears in our lives and we are forced to face bittersweet truths, we must be reminded that within each challenge there is always a higher offering. Although hidden from our view, we must raise our thinking, open our hearts, and recognize that we’re being called to a new stage in life, a new room. Unfamiliarity can be frightening, and new paths are always a risk. But what is life, if not a journey into the wondrous unknown. Look around. Grace and beauty can be found even within pain. The only lock, keeping us trapped or blind or stuck, is fear. The only cage, our own minds. 

When at last my pen had paused, I looked up to see the glory that surrounded me. I stood and began to drink in Rodin’s ancient studies, his sketches, his masterpieces, his legacy. I gazed at their beauty. I was moved by the myriad of feelings they evoked in me, trapped like in that of an ancient photograph, speaking to me in hushed undertones. Their effect was sublime, beckoning me to trace their exquisite form with my hands. Like a child, I was thrilled to have ignored the Do Not Touch warnings out of a passionate desire to feel. To experience. To know. 

Then a thought came to me as my fingers met the coolness of the bronze and the marble. Although the feelings these sculptures summoned within me were warm, their touch was obviously that of stone. They spoke of life, yet they were lifeless. They conjured the illusion of movement, but they were immobile. Their vision made all in witness tremble in awe, but they could only claim a suspended reality. Certainly they deserved, and received, my praise and admiration. But a parallel could be drawn between their suspended reality and my being so stuck in my weighty world. This was a message I needed to hear. 

Art is only feeling, and as Rodin himself said: “The main point is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live, but to be a man first.” 

These were the final lines I wrote in my notebook before the clock on the wall told me it was time to leave. As I walked through the room, I spied yet another of Rodin’s quotes laying open in a book I was clearly meant to see. “In short, beauty is everywhere. It is not that it is lacking for our eyes to see, it is that our eyes fail to see it.” Indeed. 

The walk back home was not a blind race with time. I strolled, I stomped, I took notice. My thoughts focused not on the pains and the darkness which I had let overpower me in recent days, instead I consciously made room for the light. The miracle of it all was that nothing had changed in my world, save for my own mindset, and this was proof enough that I had unlocked a door. 

How easy it is to become trapped not only in heartache, but in the fear of moving forward. It took a simple stomp for me to learn that the gift of movement, even into uncharted territory, was one of life’s greatest blessings. I had given myself permission to “set free the statue”.

I now understood the depth of my friend’s metaphor, and the wondrous mystery of it all empowered me. I was inspired to take the risk of becoming more, for I was flesh, not stone. I was a dancer, not a statue. I was alive, and my passion for living had found its voice again."

Author unknown...but if you know, please tell me!

Wishing you well from snowy New Hampshire!

Jeanne xx

Monday, February 26, 2018


Baby Roo

Mr. and Mrs. H are absolutely busting 
with grandparent pride today 
over the birth of our first grandchild, 
Cooper Lee Henriques! 
"Coop" came into the world
via Brisbane (Australia) last weekend.

Mum, dad and baby are doing just fine. 
Mimi and Beau Pa (Mrs. and Mr. H) 
are doing just fine too!

Mimi (me) has been asked not to publish 
any photos on social media just yet. 
When I get the "go ahead" 
I will be sure to post a few pics....
he is just the cutest little Aussie boy!!


Wedding Day, March 2015

Any guesses on which book Mimi and Beau Pa
will start little Cooper's first library with?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Recipe for 2018...three words

Wintry sunrise..Tahilla Farm

I have a morning ritual, I rise, look out to the mountain and see who made it up first, me or "mama sun" (Mother Nature). It's a good day when I get to greet the far-reaching fluorescent starburst that vanishes as quickly as it rises. It’s all in the timing...you have to be quick with "mama sun"... she has a way of surprising you and shifting moods in the blink of an eye.

Capturing "mama sun" at first light.  


Last month I bumped around the back roads of our country town while listening to Laura McClellan's 'The Productive Woman' podcast entitled 'Focus'. Laura mentioned Chris Brogan and his idea of skipping New Years Resolutions and settling on just 3 words for the year. 

She got me at '3 words'

In case you hadn't noticed...I am a bit of a self-help junkie. Some might call it obsessive, others might call it annoying...but for me it is like a deep breath on life. A little self-help soothes the soul, sharpens the mind and simply makes me feel good. Who doesn't like feeling good??

My three words for 2018...CREATE, COMMUNITY, HEALTH

I look at this as a three word personal recipe for the year. A recipe with one part creativity, one part community and one part health.  The words are of my own design, they are the ones that came to mind first. I like top of mind goals. Each day I take active steps towards all three... fostering creative energy, reaching out to my community and taking steps towards a healthier mind and body.

A word roll...

Since establishing these three simple words I have been on a roll. I joined the local health center, met with a nutritionist and a physical trainer to set up realistic health goals. Fine tuning my health has allowed me to refocus my creative energy (last post) and through all of that I have been able to reach out to my local and far flung community.

Do I recommend this three word recipe? Absolutely! My words work for me at this point in my life and next year I imagine it will be something different..or maybe not. I highly recommend any amount of time thinking about life and how you intend to LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE.

How about you?

Do you have a recipe for life in 2018? 

If you are interested, I am dedicating space on my blog sidebar to what is inspiring me at the moment. Feel free to stop by and have a wander...it just might inspire you too!

In our book nook....Tahilla Farm

Speaking of inspiration, in my last post I talked about creative energy and tackling a few bookshelves at Tahilla Farm. I am feeling much better about our little book nook these days. While I was in Sydney last year I discovered the artist Matilda Dumas and was lucky enough to have my daughter, Miss Christine, carry this painting back for me from Sydney to Tahilla Farm. I pass this book space all day long and just love seeing my favorite books and this painting perched on our bookshelf!

"Where I create, there I am true"
Rainer Maria Rilke

I am creating the "sharing corner"...
In addition to posts on my sidebar I will occasionally add the ‘sharing corner’ into my blog posts. If you have something you would like to share please feel free to write to me! jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

Podcasts, Books and Movies:

I love when I click on to something and totally "get" where they are coming from. I mentioned mother nature above and discovered yesterday that there is another mother to appreciate..."the mother of mindfulness". I learned all about it through Krista Tippett's podcast, On Being with her guest, Harvard social psychologist and best selling author,  Ellen Langer. This was my first introduction to Ellen and I have to say the timing was perfect. "She defines mindfulness with counter intuitive simplicity: the simple act of actively noticing things--with a result of increased health, competence, and happiness." Right in tune with my three word recipe for 2018. ;)

You can listen to Krista and Ellen talk about The Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness  here, read about The Langer Mindfulness Institute here and find Ellen Langer on her website here.

I am happy to recommend  The Beautiful Writers Podcast interview with Brené Brown: Daring to Create Greatly. Researcher, storyteller and proudly Texan, Brené has a transformative new vision for the way we lead, love, work, parent and educate. Brené gets you thinking and I love anything that gets me thinking!  

Changing tracks, if you are a blogger...you might like to follow Darren Rowse of Pro Blogger. I find his advice to be very helpful, and most recently his advice on How to Relaunch a Dormant Blog. I highly recommend this site to anyone who needs a blogging boost.

Yes...I am crazy about Laura McClellan's podcasts only because I find each and every one spot on....especially the 10 Essentials for Making a Life that Matters 

An Irish tale.

In an earlier post I mentioned the book Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and wanted to say that I completely agree, she is! I listened to the book on Audible and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

I also delved into my first Maeve Binchy book with the library app, OverDrive. If you feel the need to escape to the coast of Ireland this winter, read A Week in Winter. It is a lovely Irish tale. 🍀

Have you seen the absolutely 
enchanting movie, This Beautiful Fantastic
I highly recommend it! 
It is hard to resist an enchanting English garden...
this is well worth the visit.

“Set against the backdrop of a beautiful London garden, this contemporary fairy tale centers on the unlikely friendship between a reclusive young woman who dreams of writing children’s books and a cranky widower. Facing eviction over her neglected garden, Bella (Jessica Brown Findlay) meets her grumpy, loveless, next-door neighbor (Tom Wilkinson), who happens to be an amazing horticulturalist.”

This Beautiful Fantastic

Trailer on You Tube: https://youtu.be/48HPq5rq-W4

Good vibrations!

We are so so close...to grandchild #1, due the first week of March. I took this photo of Patrick and Cherie over the holidays...they were very patient with me as I snapped away. I love the gentle sweetness in this photo. The recipe for life in this photo is love, love, love!

On that note, I will say farewell and wish 
you a wonderful week.
If you have something to share, 
I am happy to share it here. 
You can write to me 

Jeanne xx

Monday, February 12, 2018

A few words on CREATIVE energy...and gratitude

February Tulips

My youngest son and I were driving to town this morning and I remarked that I felt really good today, brighter in some way, better than I had in a while. He asked if that was because he worked all weekend and was working a full day today. I said yes...partly, but for good reason. It gave me time to navigate my life around the house, something I promised myself in the month of January. It was time to delve into those boxes we save for a rainy day, in the cupboards we close as quickly as we open and think "not now". It was time. I had left it for nearly two years, it was time to properly unpack our belongings from Vietnam and place them where they needed to be. I knew it would be a lengthy task and I knew I could think of better things to do but we had rain for two days and I didn't feel like skating on ice. I put my apron on and thought...right..

Sunday, January 14, 2018

In the month of January....a 'recharge' and a reading list

Lavender, books and a view from Mr. H's 'Master and Commander' window.

Happy New Year!

I hope your year is off to a roaring start or a gentle one...whichever suits you best. I ended the year with a wonderful big family roar and now that everyone has flown the coop, am easing into a gentle start.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas in New England....MERRY CHRISTMAS!

'Tis the wee hours of Christmas 
and all though the house, 
not a creature is stirring and if I am lucky, 
not even a mouse. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sharing the LOVE for My Stylish French Box and Christmas in Paris

How are you faring this holiday season? Are you feeling the magic yet? I had a super productive day yesterday which is a good thing because these past few days have not been as productive as I had hoped. I finally looked at the calendar and started counting...19 days until Christmas! Seven days before the first of our clan comes home for the holidays. I swigged two cups of coffee and felt the holiday magic. I love a productive day!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Some Kind of Wonderful....Tahilla Farm

Follow the path...

I feel like that woman who stands on a street corner with traffic whizzing past her wondering if she should look left of right...because she has forgotten which country she is in. I started the month in Sydney, spent the mid-part of it in Hong Kong and am finishing it off in New Hampshire. All the while I have been thinking of writing about the answer to the BIG question I asked in my last post...deciding which winter scene to use for our 2017 Christmas photo. Just when I thought the decision was done and dusted... I arrived in New Hampshire to this...a blanket of fresh snow and more potential photo choices. I honestly couldn't think of a better welcome home gift from Mother Nature. If I could have wrapped my arms around her and Tahilla Farm I would have given them both the biggest squeeze...just so happy to be home!
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