Category Archives: Creative Inspiration

Creative Inspiration: Sticks & Stones, by Kevin McGrath

kevin-smiling-in-garden-2010.jpg

While many people are busy leveling their yards and trying to get the edges straight, spending countless hours making sure all the bushes and plants line up in a nice orderly fashion, clearing unwanted stones and dead wood, I am adding stones and wood, and creating surfaces both below and above ground level.

 
In retrospect, I was inspired by several factors. All of my life I have been in love with both dead and decaying wood and stones. A friend recently told me she believes my stone crush stems from my Irish ancestry. After all, Ireland is a country built with stone – stone fences, cobblestone streets, buildings and castles of granite, and the fields are scattered with outcroppings of this natural rock.
Each hardened sphere is unique in size, shape, color and weight. Especially when wet, their radiance shimmers and dances, exploding with a wide spectrum of color that tingles the senses. Dead and decaying wood are more subtly hued with grays and browns; however, they can often be seen joining forces with lichen and mosses to create a beautifully colored landscape.

 

I have always enjoyed seeing downed branches or trees in their artistic poses, curving and twisting as if in a snapshot of a wooded kind of ballet. Unearthed roots especially excite me, as this secret dark society, which usually lives underground, is finally revealed for all to see. If my stone love stems from my Gaelic descent, then perhaps my wood infatuation is derived from my Native American roots.

 
One can never be sure about these things of course, but I do know that decaying wood and stones have been favorites of mine since childhood. I know my most recent creative inspiration for incorporating these two natural wonders was inspired by a recent trip to New York’s Central Park. My son and I spent an afternoon there, frolicking along streams and through woods, up hills and down slopes, as we meandered along the winding paths.

 

This trip inspired me to take the things I love and, in a micro sort of way, create this hobbit type world in my own backyard. Inspiration can come from all sorts of things, whether from within, where the genes of a distant relative seek expression, or a place that draws you in and makes an impression to the point that you want to recreate it in your own way in a nearby location, where you can see the things you love spread out before you. I believe the most important point, however, is to listen to these urges and see what they bring you.

 
Given his fondness for sticks and stones, Kevin McGrath has been called by many names and is fine with that.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2010 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

*Join us for Myth-Busting & Self-Help Tips: YOUR Health & Happiness Forum, Saturday, Sept. 30th 2017, 1 pm – 4 pm in the Community Room on the lower level of the Peter White Public Library, Marquette, MI, and help us celebrate our 10th Anniversary.  Click here for more info!

**FOLLOW us here and/or on Facebook to be entered to WIN in our 10th Anniversary drawing! 

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Filed under Creative Inspiration, Kevin McGrath, Landscape Art, Uncategorized

Healing Hearts + 10th Anniversary Celebration

In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, Health & Happiness is posting some of its best articles from its first 10 years throughout the month of September.

If you like what you read here, please LIKE and SHARE this post, FOLLOW our site, and JOIN us on our Facebook page.

And if you’re in the Marquette area on Sept. 30th, please join us in celebrating our anniversary at YOUR Health & Happiness Forum from 1 pm – 4 pm in the Community Room of the Peter White Public Library.

Stay posted for more details! And please enjoy the 3rd article of 10 in our 10th Anniversary Celebration September Retrospective Series!

copyright Lucy Jeanette LaFaive

Creative Inspiration: Healing Hearts

by Lucy Jeanette La Faive

Five years ago, in March 2003, on the eve of the war in Iraq, I was very terrified that the United States Government was choosing to go to war. I was feeling helpless and fearful about what the outcome might be, fearing violence, destruction, and the death of many people. So one night I decided to finger paint my feelings. I feel very connected to my emotions when I use my fingers directly in the paint. I can literally feel my emotions move through my fingers onto the paper.

I started with dark colors – black and brown – then I just began dumping other colors on the paper and moving my fear, frustration, anger and helplessness through my fingers. Suddenly I realized the page was green. Green is the color of the heart chakra (energy center), also known as the bridge between mind and body. It is the color of healing.

The realization transformed me. I started to move my fingers in the shape of a heart. What resulted was a green heart. I later highlighted the heart shapes already in the painting with white oil pastel.

This painting transformed my feelings and me. It symbolizes that fear can be transformed into love. I painted two other paintings the same night. The second is mostly red, with hearts layered one on top of the other. The third painting is multicolored, with one large heart and two smaller hearts. I highlighted the colors and shapes already in the painting with oil pastels.

I titled the paintings “Healing Hearts: Transforming FEAR into LOVE,” because these paintings healed my heart by transforming my fear into love. I still had no control about whether the U.S. went to war, but I no longer was struggling with my emotions and a decision over which I had no control.

I could have spent the past five years living in fear, anger and frustration about a war that continues or I can live with love and joy. I choose to live with my heart open with love.

I feel love and joy when I see these paintings rather than the death and destruction I was stressing about at the time I started them. The love came through the struggle, the struggle I was having with my emotions.

I know that if art can be this meaningful to me, it can be healing, transforming and powerful for you too. So next time you are wrestling with something, give art a try.  Maybe it will transform you too!

Lucy Jeanette La Faive, certified wellness speaker, uses art for healing and self-discovery.  Lucy does coaching, workshops, and presentations on joyful living, self-love, self-discovery, creativity, self-care, healing, body image, personal empowerment, movement, and stress management. Free consultations. Contact Lucy at 906-225-1059 or lucyis@chartermi.net.

 

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2008 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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Creative Inspiration: Interview with Shane Murray, Founder of Music 4 All Kids

mfak photoWhat is Music 4 All Kids?

It’s a non-profit organization devoted to the advancement of youth ages five to eighteen through learning, applying and teaching music, regardless of a student’s ability to pay.  We work with students at our local facility, (MacDonald’s Music), as well as Marquette’s Alternative High School and YMCA.

We teach individual lessons and workshops, along with a comprehensive four-phase advancement program that culminates in students becoming instructors.

In the first stage, students learn the fundamentals of music, begin lessons on an instrument of their choice, and have access to one-on-one mentorship for building confidence and motivation.

In the second stage, students can join an ensemble of two to four peers playing many genres of music. Social skills are developed while expanding their social circle.

Once students have advanced, they get to experience engineering and recording.  In this third stage, they create their own productions and promote them, which develops their job skills. Working on a project and producing a finished piece is a great experience for our students!

Those who reach Stage 4 can become student instructors. They work with our team, learning how to lead workshops and teach beginning lessons.  This gives them a sense of accomplishment while promoting leadership skills, and the good feelings that result from passing on what they’ve learned to another student.

We have a talented staff of directors and teachers, plus a board of directors. And we’re partnered with the Cedar Tree Insitute.

What inspired you to found this program?

My mom’s work as Director of Great Lakes Recovery Centers for twenty-seven years inspired me to become a counselor in that field, working for seven years with kids with substance abuse problems in residential settings.  As a musician, I later began teaching music lessons in Marquette to kids.  While teaching, I realized there was a local need to help children thrive and become better students overall through music and mentoring. So I decided to create a nonprofit to help reach these goals.

We just finished our first instructor training program on October 26th and 27th.  Fifteen instructors, local professional musicians and social workers, were trained.  We’re implementing the program at the Marquette Alternative High School and the YMCA, along with other community nonprofits.  The passion of the musicians and teachers at the instructor program was amazing, and we all can’t wait to share our passion with the students!

What successes have you seen with the program so far?                                                   

The children in the program are thriving, excelling in school and life.  And we had a student who’s been part of the program since it began attend our instructor training program. This year she attended the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camps on a scholarship.  We are excited to expand our staff, and to begin teaching in the Alternative School – which currently has no music program!

What are the challenges?                                                                                                                               

We’re a nonprofit, so we rely solely on donations from the community, and are working hard to obtain grants.  We’re constantly looking for donations of instruments, new and used, as well as sponsors from local businesses, and anyone in the community who believes in children, music and personal growth, that can assist us with monetary donations.

What else would you like people to know about Music 4 All Kids?                                                                                                                                 

Research shows children who participate in music programs become better students.  Our program teaches and mentors children.  We believe in the power of music in a child’s life, and the power of a positive role model. Music can expand and grow your life, and we are excited to bring music to children who don’t have that benefit through their school system.

If there is a child you know who could benefit, or needs a mentor or a musical mentor, contact us. Our new website is http://www.music4allkids.us, and my number is 906-235-5163.

Additional funds would help us to expand our program by providing funding for those students in our target demographic, as well as add a wider variety of musical instruction to our current program.

If you or anyone you know would like to make a donation of instruments or money, we thank you, and the children in the program thank you!

(This article was reprinted with permission from the Winter 2013 – 2014 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2013. All rights reserved.)

And what did Shane say when we surprised her last night with news of Health & Happiness’s donation?

Oh my God! That’s great! That means so much. Wow, thank you!

Be sure to check out their website, www.music4allkids.us and Facebook page for more on their program!

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Filed under Creative Inspiration, Music, Positive Parenting

Creative Inspiration: Spinning Your Web, by Roslyn Elena McGrath

Glimpse the shimmer within shimmer within you

that snags your dreams

and digests them into poems,

stories, anecdotes, detailing  your pursuits.

Glimpse the shimmer within shimmer within you

that composes melodies,

visualizes songs, and arranges cantatas

into vessels that carry your essence.

Glimpse the shimmer within shimmer within you

that turns sounds into words, words into stories,

stories into epics and epics into history

that echoes your perspective.

Glimpse the shimmer within shimmer within you

that causes thoughts to grow into patterns,

patterns into beliefs, and beliefs into panoramas

of living art that creates itself.

You are now enchanted here,

the believer of the tales you’ve spun.

Turn this weaving at an angle now

and watch the kaleidoscope rearrange.

The colors shift and change

to elaborate new stories.

Cause and effect continue unbroken

‘til the strand holding them together changes.

Allow one piece of the puzzle to emerge

and the whole puzzle is recreated.

You are a shape-shifter,

turning with the tides set in motion

by your self-created patterns

that shine upon reflection

and remain invisible in the dark,

netting the nuggets that fuel their weave.

Beauty lies in the lace of creation,

its tensile strength and endless adaptability

mesmerizing us deeper into its geometric repetition,

echoing the sound wave its Originator made.

Strum a strand for your own expansion, expression,

create a new form that propagates itself for you.

Witness the shift

of one heart humming

with Original creation,

hanging in the mystery of the Void.

You are endless patterning

recreating itself

with thoughtwave

after thoughtwave.

Channel the changes you desire

into your warp and weft

as part of the Eternal Tapestry

that lives and breathes and moves.

Continue your hum louder.

The chorus grows to support you.

You emerge with poetry

laced throughout your skin

and echoing through your pores

into your cells and out to the world,

a    spinner     spinning       itself       into      glory.

 

Roslyn McGrath facilitates healing experiences through her art, poetry, intuitive counseling, energy healing, workshops and guided meditations. This poem was inspired by her painting Spider Woman, and will be part of her meditation CD series. Listen to other meditations, view art and learn more at  www.intuitivelearningcreations.com.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Fall 2013 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Creative Inspiration, Poetry, Roslyn McGrath

Creative Inspiration – Contagious?

Every day, the actions we take influence others, for better or worse. Though relatively small in population, our area has quite a few women who have influenced others for the better through their public achievements. We asked a few of them, predominantly those in the arts, to tell us about a woman who helped inspire their own creativity and/or achievements.  

We also were fortunate to be able to include this year’s USA Weightlifting Champion and local USEOC trainee Vanessa McCoy, who has created a very significant accomplishment in a field until recently associated with men.  

We hope these nuggets will inspire you and remind you of those who have already inspired you as well. 

Nationally Award-Winning Water Color Artist & Instructor Kathleen Conover: Marquette resident Maggie Lynn is a dedicated artist, art educator, friend, wife and mother who continues to inspire not only in watercolor painting but in life. Though very busy, she always makes time to help others, even myself when she didn’t know me, a struggling newbie-artist. I called one day, asking her to critique my paintings. Without hesitation she looked over all my pieces very carefully, considered silently and shared her years of artist’s-eye expertise. Then she encouraged me not to quit!  I was off and running and so was our friendship, for over thirty years now.  I am blessed to have Maggie as a friend and role model in my life. 

Gretchen Preston, local author of Valley Cats: The Adventures of Boonie and River, and More Valley Cats: Fun, Games and New Friends: I discovered the books of Beverly Cleary in the Riverdale School Library when I was a fifth grader. Her many books are about the antics of the children who live on Klickitat Street in Portland, Oregon. My attraction to her stories was that not only did I live in Portland, but my grandparents also lived on Klickitat! This connection inspired me to write local children’s stories. My favorite Cleary books are Beezus and Ramona, and Mouse and the Motorcycle. Beverly Cleary is a Newberry Award winning author. Her enchanting stories have been enjoyed by children for over sixty years. 

Social Dance Instructor Camilla Mingay, co-creator and c0-producer of the Annual Blueberry Dance Festival and Holiday Dance Show: Marge Sklar, NMU Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the College of Business, has inspired me since my high school days, when she provided me key dance instruction, and throughout the years since. She gave me the opportunity to perform demonstrations for her college students, encouraged me to choreograph and perform at NMU events, and even brought me to my very first dance competition at Michigan Tech University, where my dance partner and I took first place! Marge has helped make dance instruction accessible to all ages and levels of dancers throughout the community by offering free ballroom dance classes at NMU, acting as advisor to student dance groups, and opening the Dance Zone, where people of all ability levels can learn different forms of social dancing.  

Winner of three gold medals in the 2011 USA Weightlifting National Championships and Marquette USOEC trainee Vanessa McCoy: I’m greatly inspired by Olympic weightlifter Melanie Roach.  Melanie has an incredible positive attitude and zest for life! She always seems to be smiling and having fun in competition. She’s also a master at life balance, managing a family of four children, including a special needs child and a husband in politics, while owning a gymnastics academy and training for elite weightlifting competitions.  Melanie’s perseverance has brought her to the top of her sport.  Her example of suffering a difficult back injury and coming back as the top finishing American 2008 Olympic weightlifter, male or female, pushes me to overcome my own obstacles.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2011 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine.

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Filed under Art, Creative Inspiration, Dance, Weightlifting, Writing

From Family Treasures to Art

A Creative Inspiration article by Christine Saari

It all began with letters. Letters my father had written to me, his five-year-old daughter on an Austrian mountain farm, before he fell on the Russian front in April 1944. Heartrending letters about being a soldier far away. Letters of love and longing. Letters I could never read without dissolving in tears.

These letters were long my private treasure. But every time another war started somewhere, in Bosnia, in the Gulf, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, I thought of all the soldier fathers who missed their children, of all the children who feared for their fathers’ safety, of warriors who did not return.

One day it struck me – I knew I needed to share these letters, with my grandchildren, with young students, with as many people as possible.

That was the beginning of the inspiration to create “Family Album,” a collection of artful boxes, suitcases, bags and books that would incorporate family letters, documents and artifacts.

These mixed-media pieces would not only tell the story of three generations of my European family, but also the story of others.

They would tell the story of life and death, of celebration and grief, of childhood memory and the journey of immigration, of tradition and change.

I have been working on this project for nearly 20 years now and I keep being inspired in unexpected ways. When my father-in-law died and we found his WWII letters he had sent from Europe, I was struck with the recognition that our fathers were enemies. The result was “Make Love, not War”: three boxes containing letters – my father’s, my husband Jon’s father’s and our own love letters. When my grandson was baptized in the gown my grandmother had sewn, I created a triptych showing three generations of children wearing the same dress, three mothers in different parts of the globe linked by this dress. When we received Finnish Bibles after an aunt of Jon’s had died, I knew they needed a place to be kept. This became “Lutheran Songbooks and Bibles.” That led to “Catholic Childhood,” another container for treasures to honor my father’s and my own upbringing.

Frequently, the inspiration has come from an occurrence that jogged my memory of photographs and artifacts that needed to be in their own shrine. Maybe you have old letters, photographs, your grandfather’s shaving mug, your great aunt’s hair comb or hat? Don’t throw them out! Don’t leave them in a cardboard box in the closet! Honor them. Preserve them for your grandchildren and their children. Find a way to bring them out into the open, to make new from old. If you let yourself be inspired by the spirit of these items, ideas will come to you on how to create a visible record of your family story. You will see the links between the past and the present and you will feel connected to the rest of humanity.

And, do write letters, real letters, written by hand, sent in an envelope with a stamp. They will be priceless keepsakes for your descendants. They will tell them who you were, and remind them of their own place in the long chain of generations.

Christine Saari is a Marquette, MI artist, an Austrian and American citizen, and a packrat.

Reprinted from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Winter 2010 – 2011.

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Filed under Art, Christine Saari, Creative Inspiration, Family Legacies, Family Treasures