Letters and Pigments


     These are my tools: letters and pigments, the twin muses that drive my fingers, mind, heart, and life in so many unexpected explorations. These were the insistent whispers of my childhood that led me to where I stand today.

     Although it has been the driving force of my life, these skills were what saved me, anchors, and refuge after my daughter died.

     So I toiled and wrote. Thousands of pages that no one saw. I was learning better writing skills and survival abilities as well. Painting still-lives and sculpting raw granite boulders were the same. I was relearning a sense of selfhood. In all these efforts, what was gone retreated to the background, urging rather than destroying. 

    Everyone is creative. We all have unique skills. I genuinely believe it is in the active participation with them that we find our most profound sense of self. Not to mention the satisfaction of freeing the creative urge without judgment.

    So, whether you use food, letters, pigments, decorating, styling, acting, sculpting, or any of the other myriad ways humans express themselves, know that only you can do it. As individual as snowflakes, each voice lends itself to the amazingly diverse symphony of humankind.


In the year 323 BC, Alexander the Great died. Preparations for the funeral procession lasted two full years. It is uncertain whether he was soaked in a vat of honey or embalmed in Egyptian. Ever the planner, this world conqueror left a few wishes to be fulfilled upon his death. He asked for leading physicians to carry his funeral cart from Babylon to Macedonia to remind people that death cannot be prevented, not even the highest forms of medical intervention. Alexander reminds us still to not take life for granted but live every day as a gift.

But the dictates I love that always come to mind is he wanted gold, silver, and precious stones from his personal treasury thrown to the public as he passed by. Mile after grueling mile pulled all the way to Greece in a substantial funeral carriage, pulled by sixty-four mules. Whether the mules had any medical training is not noted in any remaining documents.

As desired, his arms were placed outside the coffin, with his hands outstretched. At birth, he was empty-handed, so he was again at his demise. Not even this young man, whose battle tactics are still taught, who never lost a battle, could carry one nugget of gold into the underworld. 

What do we each carry through life? What are yours? For me, it’s a simple piece of hardware. This patinaed palette knife doesn’t look like much, but it holds decades of effort and personal intention. When I barely got to my teen years, I went to an art store and picked it out. Nothing fancy, it is actually rather plain, with a waistline formed from so much use. It continues to reassuringly fit my hand just so. No one will think to throw it to my friends someday, although it is one of my greatest treasures. So, I am sharing it with you now, with the reminder to live each day to the fullest, appreciate your possessions but know all things of Earth remain hers, and enter each day with an open heart and hands wide open to receive the day’s bounty.