Thursday, December 23, 2010

View out the kitchen window.


                This is our first Christmas in our new home in Bend, Oregon.  Some of you know that we used to live here 26 years ago and it was from here I began my writing career telling the story of our leaving through the book HOMESTEAD.  We've attended the First Presbyterian Church in Bend a couple of times and I found myself tearful throughout.  Perhaps because of the music and the wit and wisdom of the pastors.  Perhaps because of the warm greetings given by many.  Maybe it's just the joy of sitting beside my husband at a time of year when joy bubbles up at the blessings we've been given not only in living in a lovely home carefully cared for by others before we arrived but to be here in time for a white Christmas with a heart of gratitude and a hope for the year ahead.
                We know that many of you are in transitions at this time of your life.  Some of you are down-sizing as we are.  Some are out of work, worried over health concerns, children or grandchildren, financial problems.   We send you words of encouragement and the promise to "be anxious for nothing." 
                For me, the gifts of this season begin with generosity: God's generous love for this earth and God's people, sending his son to be among us, to teach us the way to live with our neighbors and to give hope for turning around when we have taken wrong paths.  Jerry and I have had so many examples of generosity from around the world this past year and it is our desire to reflect that back to others in the year(s) ahead. We long ago discovered that if we exercise our generous genes, only good things can happen. 
                We have favorite charities -- The Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Young Life, the Moro Community Presbyterian Church, the Sherman Public School Library, Kiva, The Nature of
Words, many museums (Jerry says we could end up in the poor house with all our memberships to historical societies and museums!).   Some years ago we began making contributions on our electric Coop bills each month to assist those needing help with heating their homes.  We've already discovered a non-profit here in Bend, Common Table, that provides terrific meals at low costs (even gluten-free!) and enables people to purchase tokens that can be given to others for a good meal.  It's sponsored by three churches in Bend, Trinity Episcopal, Nativity Lutheran, First Presbyterian.  We have friends connected to each of those churches so it's a natural for us and we expect to eat there often and purchase tokens to give away.
                I share this with you at this time of year as a way of remembering how grateful we are that we have resources to make such contributions through the year.  We do it out of love; we do it for our own mental health.  Dr. Karl Menninger once said that the single most important indicator of a person's mental health was generosity.  "Generous people," he said, "are rarely mentally ill."
                So as we deal with the massive changes in almost every aspect of our lives that this move has created; as we express gratitude that we had a place to move to that we chose while still being able to have the ranch we worked so hard to create, we are also reminded that it is in giving that we truly receive.  However small you may think your contribution of time, treasure and talent might be, each is a gift we give ourselves when we make  a way for others.  That giving keeps us mentally healthy is just an added bonus.
                Jesus received gifts from wise men.  But long before that, he received the gifts of those around him including the cows that kept that stable warm, the roof over his head, and the love of others.  this season I hope you'll remember your own generosity through the year and continue to expand it as witness to the greatest gift of all.  As an old rancher once said to me, you can't repay the generosity of others; the best you can hope to do is pass it on.  It's my prayer that in this season you will pass on the gift of love, grace and forgiveness we've been given through our blessed savior Jesus Christ and we'll hope to do the same.
                                                Merry Christmas!  And Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Live With Intention- An Interview with writer/artist mary anne radmacher

                  The only card I ever bought for myself was colorful, distinctive and wise.  I purchased it at a store in Palm Springs.  Years later while window shopping in Salem, Oregon, I came upon a shop with that same exceptional lettering on a poster that read "When I say I am coming home it means I am coming to where you are."  It would have been my dad's 86th birthday but he had died earlier that spring.  Tears swept to the surface as I read that phrase and thought about his going home and one day my coming to where he was.  I thought of my husband, too, that home was where he was. When I went to pay for the artistic piece, the owner came out and said, "You're Jane Kirkpatrick, aren't you?  I love your books."  And I love hers.  The artist/writer is Mary anne Radmacher and she has intersected my life and enhanced my writing in amazing ways. In fact, if you have one of my business cards or receive one of my "Jane" cards, those were designed and painted by none other than Mary anne.
                So it's with great pleasure that she agreed to be interviewed for my blog.  Not only is Mary anne an exceptional artist, she's a unique and wise writer of five books, -- including her latest Live with Intention -- numerous framed poster and sayings that stay with a soul like "Live like this is all there is" because of course, it is.  The gate to our ranch hosts a sign she inspired: "We seek neither convenience nor ease but to live at the edge of possibility." She's also a skilled, generous and sensitive teacher both in person and with her on-line courses offered through her website  I've taken three of them and found inspiration within each.  For many years she taught writing at Oregon's State Prison with men sentenced to life.  Her Christian faith has taken her to a variety of places as she seeks justice, loves mercy and I find her always to be walking humbly with her Lord. I hope you'll enjoy meeting Maryanne. 

1.  You describe yourself as a writer and a teacher.   I found you first as an artist/writer.  How did you come to decide that writing and teaching were your deepest callings?
 Writing, creating beauty and teaching others are the things that, throughout my life, I have been compelled to do.  No matter what.  I am happiest and most fulfilled when I am acting in one of those three capacities.  Beyond my own view, I demonstrated the greatest service to others when acting in  one of those capacities. That’s a sure fire way of validating a calling!

2.  One of the things I love about your writing is the way the words take on life sweeping on the paper, twisting or jogging to bring depth to the meaning. Have you always played with words?
Yes.  I have always played with words.  I “wrote” quite a statement in permanent marker on our breakfast nook wall when I was two.  I laughingly say that was my first exposure to a critic!  As to sweeping, twisting and jogging….I began my love of movement and dance about the same time as I fell in love with words.  My lettering style is my way of allow the words to do a visual dance.

 3.  I have a cousin who is an interior designer and she says as a child she played with the color chips from the hardware store letting them run through her fingers and stuffing them in her stockings so her mom wouldn't know how many she had.  How does your experience with color affect your writing and artistry and did it begin at a very early age?
All I have to do is glance behind my studio desk to affirm I have a similar malady to your cousin. Color chips! I appreciated color at a young age,  but came to writing first and foremost.  I simply have a positive relationship with color and form that I have cultivated over the years.  Words inform my art, they spark the image.
4.  What led you to become a teacher?  Was your prison teaching your first experience teaching your craft?  What were some of the challenges in that setting?  Were they unique to that setting or do all students face the same concerns as they try to bring their voice to paper?
I love to learn.  I’m an enthusiastic student.  Teaching others was a natural outgrowth of that verve.  In grade school, teachers recognized this peer to peer gift and allowed me the opportunity to teach others, beginning in fourth grade.  I’m so thankful for the intuitive teachers that have nurtured me as I’ve grown! 
I taught personal writing practice and simple art methods for years before I volunteered in prison.  I found the students inside prison walls more vulnerable and willing to learn than those on the outside.  They were fundamentally aware of the walls that surround them and wanted to break down barriers from the inside – out.  The fears and anxiety that beginning writers face are essentially the same, regardless of life circumstances.
Another advantage to teaching is that, inevitably, I learn something entirely unexpected.

5.  One of the Focus Phrase™ processes I took from you involved your giving us a phrase each evening to inspire us for the next day.  (For information on this see mary anne’s author site: maryanneradmacher.net; registration for January’s process closes on December 27, 2010))  The next evening we sent you no more than three paragraphs about how that phrase worked its way during our day and you'd comment back to us.  How did you decide to create that course?  And how did you ever find time to comment to each of us!
The roots of the Focus Phrase process are found in my early Scripture study habits.  The method I teach now is honed from decades of discovery and experience based on my early study experiences.  It’s a profound and impacting process.  Reading and responding to the writing of my participants is invigorating to me (another sign I’m acting within my own giftedness).   I look forward to each submission. I hold them for the gift of trust that they represent.

 6. Your latest book, Live with Intention, Rediscovering what We Deeply  Know, just recently came out.  It's filled with your wisdom like "Walk to the Edge" and "play with abandon" and one of my favorites, "the most important promises are the ones we make to ourselves."  Are there times when you haven't walked to the edge or played with abandon or kept a promise to yourself?
Yes, Jane, some days the best thing that I can say is that I simply showed up.  We all have those days.  I have a life long aspiration to being better at the end of every day.  And by better I mean, that I’ve learned, served and acted in full accord with my blessings and my gifts.
7. What did you hope to accomplish through this latest work?
I want to tap gentle souls on the shoulder and hold a mirror up to their knowledge and goodness and say, “Remember?  You knew this once.  Remember?”  Live With Intention represents ten core elements that enliven and enlarge my days.  I invite others to either borrow mine or connect with their own.  “Same ‘ole, same ‘ole,” never again has to be someone’s answer to, “How are you doing?”  And I wouldn’t mind at all if this one visited the New York Times best seller list for awhile. 
 8.  Describe for us your word birds.
 The “word birds” that I feature throughout LIVE WITH INTENTION are honed, condensed poetic observations on life.  I want them to help the reader’s own thoughts and observations take wing – and fly!

 9.  Twice while reading this latest book of yours, the page fell open to "What if we just acted like everything was easy."  Since I've just gone through some chaotic times moving, adjusting to new routines, saying goodbye to hundreds of people I've come to care about as we enter a new phase of our life away from our Homestead,  the idea of looking at the change as "easy" really struck me.  I like it!  How did that bit of wisdom work its way into your book?
 It took me a few years to recognize that I used that question to talk myself through difficulties of all sorts.  Particularly computer challenges.  I’d ask myself to act like I do when I know something really is easy.  Just introducing that mind set would slow me down, soothe my rapid fire thinking and help me focus.
Things usually ARE a lot simpler and easier than I am at first inclined to think.  While writing this book I changed software.  While writing this book I “lost” one half of the content when I was almost done.  Whew.  I pretended it was easy all the way to when it actually was!

10.  Could you describe your creative process for us?  I know, that's a book in itself!  But do you work daily, do you intentionally spend a certain number of hours or have a special writing place?  Where do you draw your inspiration from?
 I work from the large and compress into the small. I sift through the MUCH to select the MUST.  You could say that I actually “edit” the elements of my life.  Pare away the non essentials.  Every task in my life, with due dates, wish lists or “wouldn’t it be nice” goes on a single piece of paper and gets filed in a portfolio.  That way, when a task starts tapping on my temples, screaming, “You should be doing MY Priorities NOW,” I can just identify some action steps, put them in writing and put them in the book.  Then I feel as if I paid some attention to it, won’t forget it, but it will take its place in line with all the other items wanting to be done.  I practice the one thing at a time method…one right after another.  And make sure I provide lots of happy dances and celebrations for individual accomplishment along the way.
I do have a studio with a writing desk but the world is my favorite writing place.  I always have a journal with me and am writing where ever I go. I draw my inspiration by staying close to the truth of  Spirit and by living close, as often as I can, to my core values. 
11.  You have a number of websites and a variety of product that carries your wisdom.  The household blocks with reversible sayings and designs; the framed posters; other blocks that look quite lovely in my bedroom and inspire me each morning.  Even the tote bag has the ten thoughts that begin with "Live with Intention."  How did you get in to the marketing world?  How do you find it fits with your writing life?
I began my own poster and greeting card company in 1986.  Everything was hand made…I lettered every card by hand for the first two years. Oh my! As my words started traveling around the world, people who wanted to use my words and art began asking me.  To date I’ve never had to ask any manufacturer to the party…I’ve been fortunate enough that they’ve asked me.  But as to the marketing world – ah.  You’ll notice I didn’t list that as one of my gifts.  If it were given over to my inclination, I’d give everything I make away.   I love doing that – ah, but it is my living.  I’ve come to view marketing as an opportunity to serve and to offer others the opportunity to be of service.  I have a strong commitment to private philanthropy and public citizenship. When people support my livelihood by taking a course or purchasing a book or product – they are not only supportive of the dozens of people along the chain that are required to bring my products to the world – but they are validating the message of inspiration and empowerment that I offer to the world through my work.  The more firmly convinced I’ve become (over the years) that I am acting in accord with my calling, the bolder I’ve become about simply asking people, “Please buy my work.”  The words will inspire and I will be able to earn my living and keep doing what I do.

 12.  As you work, if you looked out your window, what would you see? 
That depends if my eyes are open or closed. Open?  I see a parking lot for the small complex in which my studio is located. If my eyes are closed I might see the Cathedral and main plaza of Venice, or the waving autumn grain of the growing fields of the Western States of Oregon and Washington.  I can close eyes and be any where.  See anything. 
13.  Tell us about your class coming up and how we can sign up to be inspired by the wisdom of your work?  How many students on-line can participate in your classes?

Registration closes for HONEY IN THE HEART, December 27.  Beginning January 3 I guide the first  Focus Phrase™ of 2011.  The theme emphasizes: health, promises to yourself, service with compassion and gratitude.  Enrollment’s $229, which includes a signed copy of LIVE WITH INTENTION.  And another surprise or two.  You know I love surprises.
This writing process is even appropriate for people who think they are “non writers.”  People can write:  maryanneradmacher10@me.com   for more information or to register.
My class size depends on the amount of other demands I have at the particular time.  I’ve closed classes at six registrations and have accommodated as many as 54.  It just depends on the what else is happening at the time of the process.  When someone wants to enroll in a process that is full, I make sure they have a priority position in the next offering.  Or, they can visit the three people I’ve authorized to teach Focus Phrase™ and see if they have enrollment space. (They can be discovered on Facebook at “A New Way – Radmacher Focus Phrase.)

14.  Is there anything you want to be sure we all know that I've failed to ask?
I admire you endlessly.  I appreciate the generosity of spirit that you continually demonstrate by introducing your fans to the work of other writers.  I am grateful to you for introducing one of your readers, Wallace Roark, to my work.  Because of you, two years ago, Wallace took a Focus Phrase process.  It turned out to be a key element in helping him realize his forty-year dream of publishing a book.  LEARN TO THINK LIKE AN OCTOPUS was released this summer and Wallace is already well into writing his second book.   You are a great talent and have huge heart….and while I know you are blushing, this is my interview so you really can’t edit out my unreserved appreciation and admiration!
Can I tell you that I hope you never stop giving us your gifts though I do want you to take time to play with abandon every day!
The great thing about almost everything I do is that it IS play because I love it so much.  Play is less something I do than it is the attitude with which I approach most of all things that require “doing.”  I’m hoping to apply that principle next month when I Get to create numbers of Profit and Loss Statements for various aspects of my business.  I’m pretty sure I’ll just pretend it’s easy!

mary anne radmacher








Friday, December 3, 2010

saying goodbye



Here is our new view, or one of them.  It's water though not the John Day River.  You can't see it well, but there's a waterfall that has a soothing sound not unlike the ripples of the river over rocks.  We'll hang the wind chimes soon too and then we'll feel at home here.  Well, it's already home because PB the cat climbed onto Bo's back and went to sleep so we know they've adapted.
         This is called High Desert Country and we left it 26 years ago.  But the weekend before Thanksgiving, we returned.  I'm posting a letter we sent via a community list serve to the people who have been our neighbors these past 26 years of our living on the homestead.  I thought you might like to read it too.

                Some of you may have heard the rumor that we've moved from our homestead on Starvation Lane.  The rumor is true.  We've returned to the area we left 26 years ago near Bend, OR though we haven't come back to the Bend we left!  All things change. A friend of ours said we hadn't given Sherman County people much time to say good-bye; nor have we really said good-bye to each of you.  So we hope you'll indulge us on this list serve.
                First, thank you. Our years with you have been the grandest adventure of our lives.  I began writing for other people to read on our homestead along the river; people from around the world have discovered the kindnesses, innovation, care of the landscape of Sherman County people through my stories; and the Sherar Family and Donald von Borstel 's telling of his ancestors all those years ago resulted in A Sweetness to the Soul  a book that garnered awards beyond my wildest imagination and began my career as a novelist.  You are all a part of that accomplishment. You've inspired and supported our lives on the river from grading roads to watermelon, hay, grass-fed beef  and book purchases, to fighting range fires and saving our home and barn to being available through the Moro Clinic and ambulance services for various sundry things we brought to you via airplanes in the streets of Wasco, Jerry's cancer and tuberculosis, his different emergency surgeries and injury on the ranch.  Those encounters were life-saving, live-giving and we are grateful.
                 Our church family at Moro Presbyterian stays in our hearts in ways we can't describe supporting our faith lives and reaching out to the community in everyday ways that speaks to the grace and love we believe in.  We will miss your company the most. Our volunteering with the museum and the library have allowed us in small ways to give back to a people and a place that has given so much to us.  Through your care of history at the museum and your understanding of the power and importance of education through the building of the library, we have had a place to express our own values in affirming ways and we are grateful for the opportunities.
                Second,  we still have the ranch.  We'll be coming back and forth for some time finishing things up.  My brothers says we should have an auction next summer and have people come and carry off a part of the story but we're not sure how willing people would be to come down the reptile road!  The distance and weather conditions are one of the primary reasons we decided to move when we did bringing us closer to health care, an airport and paved roads.  (And Jerry did turn 80 this year!) We do have an offer on the ranch and we'll keep you posted about if or when it's sold.
                We purchased a single-story home on 2.3 acres between Bend and Redmond earlier this year thinking one day we might finally retire there.  Jerry's only brother lives in Bend, Jerry's surgeries have all been at St. Charles and his cancer follow-up occurs there.  My nephew and nieces live near Sisters and it's where my sister and all of our parents are buried.  When the people who were living in the house we purchased moved in the first part of November and the forecast was for a rough winter (that was like the wet and wild one in 1984-85 the year we were building our home) we decided rather than rent the house out, we should just move here now.  And to avoid the big storm predicted before Thanksgiving, we moved all that we could on that weekend.  Our friends the Gants who helped us build those years previous came down to help again along with Jerry's son Matt who works for us and Ken and Arla Melzer and some hired help and we drove out before the icy rain arrived. 
                Our new home is on a cul de sac with a street name of Casa Court (Casa means "home" in Spanish) between Redmond and Bend.  The  home was built in 1994 and includes a labyrinth for prayerful walking along with a view of high desert juniper and sage, all very different from the meandering river and rimrocks of our past quarter century.  The dogs and cat are adjusting. I have a Facebook page, a website, blog and newsletter so hopefully we can keep in touch.
                There is a time for all things and this was our time. It was our time  to come to  Sherman County where we discovered more of who we were and more of why community is so important.  And it was our time to enter the next stage of our lives and move to new adventures.  Jerry's son and wife still live in Sherman County as does our granddaughter, Mariah, so our ties remain close.  We already plan to be back in Moro for a writer's event in March, the annual Read Aloud at the Library in April and for a Sherman County Historical Society fund-raising Twilight Tea in May.  So we are not out of your lives just as you will never be completely out of ours.
                Coming back will never be the same as I realized when we stopped with our caravan at the top of the ridge on moving day and looked back at the river savoring that view of the water, the mature trees we'd planted around the house, the hundreds of trees we planted along the river.  I saw cleared fields where sagebrush once stood.  Memories of planting, harvesting, hunting and fishing practically from our doorstep will never fade.  Many beloved pets are buried there. The history of those who loved the land before us  flashed through my mind: the Slack family, homesteaders long years before; Con Davis whose cabin burned in a range fire; and Bob and Marion Boynton who didn't live there but  from whom we purchased the property more than thirty years ago.  We took a risk in 1979 buying property we couldn't really afford but we were drawn to and we were rewarded with some of the happiest times of our lives.  We would not replace our years in Sherman County for anything.  And when the time was right, we risked again to leave, trusting that we have never been alone on this journey.
                My friend Mary Anne Radmacher writes, "Live as if this is all there is."  And so we have tried to; and hope to continue to; and wish the same blessing for each of you.  May this good-bye be just a new beginning.
                Warmly, Jerry and Jane Kirkpatrick 

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