Hallowed Halls of Johns Hopkins

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The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning. ~ M. Scott Peck, author of Gifts of the Journey, In Search of Stones and The Road Less Traveled

Happy Halloween, everyone. On October 3rd, my cousin Meg Heisse and I witnessed a little hocus-pocus when we attended An Evening of Victorian Magic at Evergreen Mansion and Library, which is a Johns Hopkins University Museum. Since my cousin is a member, we attended a pre-performance reception held in the Asian red room among Chinese and Japanese collectibles. The bartenders stirred up Victorian libations and we saw up close magic tricks by David London. Mind reader indeed, out of a 52 card deck, the magician asked me to select one card and show it to others.  No slight of hand involved, through telepathic transmission he correctly identified the card I had picked. But that was just the start of the delightful evening. The magician had many more magic tricks up his sleeve once the show started and he came to the stage.

There was no need to build a stage for the evening because there is already a Victorian era theatre in the Evergreen Museum. And although there were no upper level seats for celestials to sit as in many Victorian theatres, we were told apparitions are in or about the rooms of the mansion. The theatre, painted by Russian Artist Leon Bakst, was used regularly to entertain the three Garrett boys, who at one time lived there.

The Evergreen Museum and Library was built in 1850 and became home to railroad magnate, John Garrett and his family. He was President of Baltimore and Ohio “B & O” Railroad. A little over one hundred years later, in 1952, the Italianate home from the Guilded Era was donated to Johns Hopkins University and it is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Also in the mansion is a 30,000  volume library with much of which is English Renaissance literature. Paintings by Picasso, DegasModigliani and stained glass by Tiffany, a 23 karat gold plated bathroom all are housed in the structure. In the Asian red room I spied several pieces of Chinoiserie furniture and as I snooped around in the museum gift shop at Evergreen, I saw several beautiful publications about stained glass.

Today, my Halloween treat to our readers is a recipe for soul cakes which traditionally was the offering to others on All Hallows Eve. And here are a few pictures of our evening at Evergreen Museum and Library, too. Look carefully you might see things that fool the eye!

Some time soon I do look forward to returning to the historic Evergreen Museum to take the full tour. This wonderful landmark is only one of the institutions of the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins. Check out the others on their website.

Thank you Meg for inviting me to accompany you for the evening.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard.

 

Forever Grateful for Art Education

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“To live a life fulfilled, reflect on the things you have with gratitude.” ~ Jaren Davis

Last weekend I sat in on a plein air painting workshop held at Ladew Topiary Gardens. It is truly an extraordinary,  top-notch venue for artists who enjoy getting out of the studio to paint a garden landscape scene right in front of them in natural light.

Instructors and husband and wife team, Mike Bare and Joanne Bare are completing their one year Artists-in-Residence at Ladew Topiary Gardens. As I listened to the artists talk, I couldn’t help but feel gratitude for a few chapters of my life that I would not have wanted to skip for anything – the opportunity to work at two different art galleries. More recently, Wild Horse Gallery in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and some years ago at West Wind Fine Art, LLC in Manchester, Vermont. That is when I handled the order fulfillment of art books and videos published by representational painter Richard Schmid‘s publishing house, Stove Prairie Press, LLC.  What an opportunity it was to learn so much about painting. My appreciation of art grew exponentially with those life experiences.

So, when artist Mike Bare spoke about differences in painting styles between loose vs. tight , and terminology such as warm vs cool colors, opposites on a color wheel, soft and hard edges, painting shadows (dark) vs light and negative spaces, I understood what he was talking about. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about other technical aspects of painting before the artists went out into the gardens to sketch and practice what their instructor so capably preached.

( Above photo: Mike Bare at Barn Gallery at Ladew Topiary Gardens)

Some of what Bare spoke about can be applied to writing. Do come back to my next post on October 10, 2019. I’ll explain what the artist said that also relates to a fulfilling writers life.

(Above Photo: Mike Bare’s sketchbook and paintings at Ladew Topiary Gardens)

When the Light Shines

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“Go to the people and the places that set a spark in your soul.” ~ Unknown

UMC Spiritual Bldg 2 with signature

Above Photo: Indoor Labyrinth – Spiritual Center, United Methodist Church, Steamboat Springs, CO

UMC Spiritual bldg 5 with signature

Above photo: Interior of Spiritual Center, Steamboat Springs, CO

When the light shines through the window pane of your soul, it’s a beautiful thing. The first time I stepped through the doors of the United Methodist Church in 2008, I never felt more connected to a place of worship since the church of my childhood. That church, the Maryland Presbyterian, is a church that my father and his company built.

The pastor of the church I attend now, The United Methodist in Steamboat Springs, Colorado,  in my opinion, is a rock star who offers inspiring words people come to hear in churches in this day and age. Nearly every Sunday, even in a resort community where people come and go with the seasons, the pews are filled to capacity. The connectedness and fellowship in the church is something very special.

My church life and the community of writers have been the best part of living in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Not even to mention the magnificent landscapes. Others like me who have found a special connectedness here have had an etched brick with their family names or special sentiments placed in the courtyard of the new Spiritual Center. That’s where it will permanently stay.

I captured these photos of the new Spiritual Center at the United Methodist Church early one morning when I was with a group of women preparing for the annual 4th of July fundraiser. The street party held after the parade is hosted by The Tread of Pioneer Museum, the United Methodist and the Episcopal Church, all located within a block. Respectively, the three organizations sell “Routt” beer floats, strawberry sundaes and hot dogs in huge quantities! A seventeen piece band adds to the festivities.

Today is the dedication for this building which will bring much connection, light and life to many people in the years ahead.

UMC Spiritual Bldg 3 all things fulfilling brick with signature

UMC Spiritual Bldg with signature

Above Photo: The new Spiritual Center at the United Methodist Church in Steamboat Springs, CO

Call Brings Fulfillment

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A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” -Amelia Earhart

Stephen Patrick Morrisey once said “there is no such thing as good news in America.” I say, “Hogwash! But clearly since each of us are human beings, we all face difficult days and periods throughout our lifetimes.

Did you hear the story about four policeman who pooled their money together ($160) to by food for an elderly man who called 911 to say he was hungry and hadn’t eaten in a few days? True story,  direct from the State of Tennessee. Watch this news clip.


Another random act of kindness has come from these caring public servants since this story.  The police officers have started a small food pantry at the station to help fulfill the needs of other citizens who are struggling. The community has rallied to provide resources to keep the shelves stocked to feed the hungry.

public service

See you back here on Monday, February 1st. This blog is brought to you by EVVY award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

Conversations about Kindness

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Kindness is just love with its workboots on. ~Author Unknown

Do you think traits such as kindness and compassion can be taught or are some people endowed with these traits from the start (innately)?

Many educators feel character education is the only way to reduce bullyng in schools.

YouAreNeverAloneFoundation.org has found a way to involve children in their program “I Matter, You Matter: Let’s Start the Conversation.”

In fact, school kids put their most pressing questions down on paper hoping to help improve their relationships with schoolmates, their families and friends. Through practicing empathy and understanding other’s points of view, the goal of this program is to advance listening and compromising skills and provide help in identifying one’s own feelings, too.events_kindmatter_overview_logo Teachers, your school can become involved, and the questionnaire that is being used in schools to begin the dialogue between children can be downloaded on-line. 

Caring coins are also available with this program, which is an easy way to pass a message from person to person. More than 176,000 of these wooden coins have been shared around the world as a part of the YANAF mission. It started at the grassroots level to inspire caring connections in our community and the greater world by providing hands on opportunities to be kind.”

If you are concerned about our future generation of children, please spread the word about this program.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard.

Bringing Cheer over the Holidays

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Let’s state something up front! There is no perfect life. There just isn’t. Postings on social media might lead us to believe otherwise but, remember, we are often only seeing the good parts. During the holidays people ramp up their efforts to create images of having perfect lives and Christmases.

Everyone has struggles and things to overcome in life. But as they say, what you do with those challenges is what counts. That is why it’s important that for those who have inspirational stories to tell and feel they could write a book about it, to do so. The reason I penned a memoir in the first place was to help others who struggle with health issues understand that our attitudes profoundly affect our well-being.

I’m very proud to say that this past Christmas, thanks to the Mickey Barrows Memorial Endowed Fund which “benefits children who are confined to the hospital during the holidays,” copies of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected found their way to families through the Childrens Colorado Foundation in the Denver area. The hope for the initiative is that the book brought some smiles and cheer to faces and encouragement to teen cardiac patients who were hospitalized during the holidays. The book has won the Harvest Book Award in the young adult category and two EVVY awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.

So, for anyone who is considering writing a narrative that will bring light and love to others, here is my message: Help others to know you are never alone.

Your story matters!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul and the EVVY award-winning anthology Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

See you back here on Monday!

 

 

Rock Solid Performance

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“Come on Dad! We’re going rock climbing!” My husband looked at my son and didn’t argue. He is always up for an athletic adventure.

“I’m coming too!” I said.

It was the day after Christmas. My son and his gal wanted to treat my husband to a new experience. Off we went to Stone Age Climbing Gym. After the three got suited up with harnesses, rope, chalk bags, belay and rappeling equipment we four stood looking straight up at the wall my husband was about to tackle. As he began his ascent, the man on belay (my son) yelled out instructions. “Go, Dad, go!” Terry look another step up.

“You are doing well!” Marc said with a grin on his face, after his father began to progress further. “Are you weary?”

“A little, mostly my forearms,” my husband yelled down.

“Then let go! I have you,” our son yelled out. I sat behind him on a bench watching my husband dangle from the rope, forty feet up in the air. In order to take a load off his legs, arms and hands he had to surrender himself from the challenge for a few minutes.  After a short break, Terry continued climbing.

“Reach higher, you are almost to the top!” Marc yelled up about 20 minutes later.

Marc turned to me and said “Mom, I’m really impressed. Dad is doing as well on his first attempt as young guys my age. There seems to be no fear of heights or falling!” It was interesting to see the role reversal between father and son. My husband has spent a lifetime coaching athletes.

Terry’s first attempt at a rock climbing experience was a great success. When I asked him if he’d like to repeat it, he said, “Only if I am with Marc.  There is a level of trust and faith in others involved in it.”

“I could see that,” I said, as I thought about my husband dangling from the rope only anchored by my son.

terry rock climbing

Trust

Come on back tomorrow, I will be sharing my own new adventure into the New Year. I’m a little apprehensive because I am not quite sure what to expect from myself. But, I’m entering this new experience with a positive outlook.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.