The Misses Santley by Henry Scott Tuke

Singing with You Is Our Prayer

“Singing,
singing with you,
singing with you is our prayer.”*

In the lamplight
on a Thursday evening,
we halt the ticking of the old clock
on the parlor wall,

breathe deep,

open the heart,

remember those we love —
remember those who need love —
remember how it was, so long ago,
that our ancestor-women
and our men, so long departed,
sang at the bedside.

Deep voices and treble,
we practice those chants and songs
most beloved for healing
or distraction
or reminiscing
or conjuring tranquility.

We come to your bedside
or your kitchen table.

Singing with you
is our prayer.

— Mary Ann Barton

* Lyrics by the Reverend Burns Stanfield

Isadora Duncan #29 by Abraham Walkowitz

Movement Modalities: Nia Dance Poem

Nia Dance Poem

With thanks to Karen, Maria, and Robyn

These first rare steps on the enchanted floor:
soft as sand dunes beneath your bare feet.

Words, dear words, bubbles of music:
humming sitar, buoyant drum.

Touch now, touch,
feel the ball of your foot shift the load toward the toes
as the heel lifts, a slight puff of wind — poof!

Step, sway, cross over and swivel and plant the foot,
waggle the tail, rock the hips’ intimate cradle,
oh, exactly as oceans rock,
cry in the throat as seagulls cry,
piping plovers, sand, fresh winds,

and still all around you will lift, swirl, and turn,
rise, pause, and bow down,

a whole roomful of women cresting and levitating
over the soft ocean of the enchanted floor.

— Mary Ann Barton

Isadora Duncan #29 by Abraham Walkowitz

Glossary for this poem

Movement Modalities, a new series beginning today in the Joyous Paradox blog about my search for creative ways to add more movement to my life. I’m thinking of all movement forms as potentially healing, hence the use of the word modalities, which we often see in caregiving as the way a health condition is diagnosed or treated.

Nia Technique, a movement practice whose teachers are licensed by Nia Technique, Inc. According to Nia’s website, “Nia cardio-dance workouts combine 52 simple moves with dance arts, martial arts, and healing arts to get you fit in 60 minutes — body, mind, emotion, and spirit. Nia is practiced barefoot, non-impact, and adaptable to individual needs and abilities.”

The humming sitar in the poem is a metaphor for the way the pulsing, soft-rock dance music played in my Nia class sounded to me while I was dancing. For the literal sitar of Indian classical music, see Wikipedia.

The enchanted floor refers to the soft, interlocking floor tiles used in the yoga studio where I took the Nia classes that inspired this poem. I have arthritis in my knees and neck, so I’ve been wary of fast-paced, aerobic activities that might be too high in impact for my 65-year-old body. Stepping onto the soft studio floor was a pleasant surprise. So far, so good.

Photo from Staff Favorites Best of Nia

Image credits: (Top and Middle) Isadora Duncan #29, watercolor and ink over graphite on paper by Abraham Walkowitz, American, ca. 1915, via Wikimedia Commons. (Left) Staff Favorites Best of Nia © Jeff Stewart Photography. Photograph provided by Nia Technique (www.nianow.com).

Note: I am not receiving any compensation for mentioning Nia or any other practice in this series. — MAB

 

Lucidpress Features Me in a Case Study

March 8, 2015

Editor’s note: Lucidpress, the company whose graphics software I use for image posts like Paintings for a Snowy Day, is featuring me in a case study on their new website. Thanks to Vicky Thomas and her colleagues for a sweet boost! Check out five other Lucidpress users at the Case Study Home. — MAB

JOYOUS PARADOX BLOG AND 4-BOOK REST SERIES

Mary Ann Barton | Maynard, MA, USA

Independent blogger and author Mary Ann Barton was just looking for a way to spice up her blog with infographics and other visuals when she discovered Lucidpress’s digital publication toolbox. Now she’s amazed at how thoroughly it transformed the way she works.

AT A GLANCE

COMPANY DESCRIPTION

Joyous Paradox is a blog written for the benefit of the elderly and their caregivers. The Rest series is a collection of four books written for the same audience, set to be released in the future.

FEATURES THEY LOVE

  • Cloud based – edit documents anywhere, any time
  • Ease of use – intuitive interface empowers users who don’t have design experience

CHALLENGE

Mary Ann wanted to do something different for her blog readers. A talented writer, she was used to communicating with her primary audience—individuals caring for elderly family members—through text-heavy blog posts. Hoping to design content that would better capture her audience’s attention, she began looking for a way to incorporate attractive visuals into her posts.

At the same time, Mary Ann was in the midst of writing a 4-part book series intended for the same audience. She wanted to ensure that the resulting eBook would be aesthetically pleasing but wasn’t sure she had enough design experience to do it herself.

SOLUTION

The first thing that Mary Ann noticed about Lucidpress was its ease of use. Intuitive drag-and-drop controls and elegant templates enabled her to turn out one polished graphic after another, despite the fact that she had never designed such visuals before. Soon she was adding her own content to Lucidpress’s newsletter template to create infographics and images with text overlays. From there, she simply exported her creations as PNGs and embedded them in her blog posts. As a bonus, she discovered that she could also design the covers of her books using Lucidpress’s pre-created magazine templates.

RESULTS AND IMPACT

INTEGRATED CREATIVE PROCESS. Now that she uses Lucidpress, the visual and textual components of Mary Ann’s work go hand in hand. Energy and enthusiasm have replaced the stress that once accompanied questions of layout and design. For example, she’s found that toying with image placement within Lucidpress actually sparks her creativity and inspires her writing. Describing this change, she said, “It’s truly astounding what a difference this tool has made. I wouldn’t have been able to write that poem without it—it just wouldn’t have come out the way it did. Nor would I have been able to see it on my screen in this book setting. The designing and writing are happening side by side.” Thanks to Lucidpress, Mary Ann has more creative freedom than ever before.

BETTER ENGAGEMENT. Readership on the blog has increased, as have the number of followers, since Mary Ann began using Lucidpress. Although it’s impossible to say how much of that growth can be attributed to the documents she creates in Lucidpress, Mary Ann said, “Given how prominent visual elements are in the blog world, I think it probably plays a big part.”

COST SAVINGS. Without Lucidpress, Mary Ann says she would have had to hire a professional designer to draft her book covers. Even though her initial goal in using Lucidpress was to create blog content, she was pleased to discover this unexpected benefit.

Though our software is simple to learn, it’s filled with powerful features that meet your unique publishing needs.As you discover the ease of designing with Lucidpress, you’ll wonder why you ever did it any other way.

SEE FOR YOURSELF WHY JOYOUS PARADOX AND OTHER SMALL BUSINESSES ARE MAKING THE SWITCH TO LUCIDPRESS.

SIGN UP FREE

Source: Lucidpress  Disclosure: I am not receiving any monetary compensation for mentioning Lucidpress. Just enduring fame. — MAB


More Joyous Paradox posts with graphics created in Lucidpress software:

How Art and Music Bring Happiness to Dementia Care: Part 1

The Trifecta of Happiness

Today Love Asks Questions

Self-Caring: What I Think About the Funnel of Love

Dear Readers, I’m Getting Back in Touch with You

Paintings for a Snowy Day

 

 

 

Cities Are Not Empty Pages

“Cities are not empty pages,” writes German sociologist Rolf Lindner. He continues, “There are cities which are like a penny dreadful, a dime novel, stained and well-thumbed and with a garish, torn cover, while others are more like an expensive edition of a classic author, leather bound, with thread-stitching and a bookmark. “– Rolf Lindner, “The Cultural Texture of the City,” Linköping University Electronic Press, 2006.

Growing Old in East Harlem: a video about the East Harlem Aging Improvement District from The New York Academy of Medicine on Vimeo.

Dear Readers,

For me, urban life is more memory than presence. Since 1977, I’ve migrated from big-city Chicago to small-town Henniker, NH, to suburban Boston. I visit cities mostly for refreshment, these days, instead of daily needs.

Yet a film set in East Harlem, New York City, has brought me back to the jam-packed, extravagant, messy, compelling pages of the urban life I knew as a teenager and young adult in Chicago. Watch “Growing Old in East Harlem.” You’ll see the pages fill up with stories.

Thanks for being here,

Mary Ann

PS: Below is a description of the film from the New York Academy of Medicine. You can read more about East Harlem’s status as an Age-Friendly City at the Silberman School of Social Work.

“On August 31, 2010, NYAM previewed a new film, “Growing Old in East Harlem” in which seniors were interviewed about the joys and challenges of aging in this diverse, dynamic neighborhood in New York. Growing Old in East Harlem was filmed and directed by Dorian Block, policy associate at NYAM. It was produced and edited by Jonathan Mena and Jessie Daniels, both of Hunter College.

“More than 200 older adults, community leaders, and business representatives from East Harlem gathered at NYAM to view the film and to discuss the findings of a recent study of older adults in East Harlem who expressed concerns and improvements they would like to see in their community. The assessment and resulting event are part of Age-Friendly NYC, a collaboration between NYAM, the Mayor’s Office, and the New York City Council.” — NYAM, 2010

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Winter Chestnuts and Other Literary Comforts

Mary Ann Barton:

Editor’s note: I found this essay about food by literary scholar Sara Davis utterly irresistible, partly because it’s so deftly written, and partly because I’ve been struggling with an essay on caregiving and eating for my book Rest: Finding Rest and Renewal as We Care for Others. Food as comfort, comfort as food: such a theme in my life! And all those questions! How to take pleasure in food without tipping into over-consumption and craving? How to recover from deep dives into old habits? How to love flavors and then let them go? I don’t have any answers, dear friends, except to keep on reading, writing, and renewing.

 

 

Originally posted on Scenes of Eating:

I’ve been reading Lolly Willowes, a 1926 novel by Sylvia Townsend Warner set at the turn of the 20th century. The story reminds me a lot of the pastoral 19th century novels I’ve been reading: country life radically contrasted with the city, the smallness of family dramas, the quiet resistance of women in their domestic spheres.

When she moves to London with her brother and sister-in-law, main character Laura (called Lolly by her nieces) is seized by a restlessness every autumn. She finds herself roving and anxious until winter fully arrives and she bleakly resigns to it, and:

She fortified herself against the dismalness of this reaction by various small self-indulgences. Out of these she had contrived for herself a sort of mental fur coat. Roasted chestnuts could be bought and taken home for bedroom eating. Second-hand book-shops were never so enticing; and the combination of east winds and London water…

View original 766 more words

Jesse and the Typewriter Shop

Editor’s note: I took typing one summer at Schurz High School in Chicago and still remember the class fondly. Mary Maldonado and I used to walk home from class together in the suffocating heat of a Midwestern city. Sometimes I’d walk her all the way to her house, hoping to catch a glimpse of her older brother, Paul, who played bassoon in my high school band. I still have my mother’s pale green Olivetti typewriter that she lugged around in her post-retirement travels from Chicago to Kentucky to Montana to New Jersey to New Hampshire to Massachusetts.  Here, reblogged from The Casual Optimist, is a touching film about father-and-son typewriter repairmen in Los Angeles. Do you have an old typewriter somewhere in the house? Do you still use it? — MAB

Related to yesterday’s post on Gramercy Typewriter Co. in New York, here’s a short film about U.S. Office Machines, one of the last remaining typewriter repair shops in Los Angeles:

(Thanks Sam!)

Hot Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day. Things are heating up in our house.

1. Hot kisses.

Loving Couple (Mithuna)

Loving Couple (Mithuna), stone sculpture from 13th century India (Orissa), via Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Florance Waterbury Bequest, 1970.

2. Hot food.

Inside of a Cottage from A History of Madeira, 1821

Inside of a Cottage [detail] from A History of Madeira by “a resident of the island” (published by R. Ackermann, London), unknown artist, Madeira Islands, 1821, via Wikimedia Commons.

3. Warm cat.

Cold Nose, Warm Touch, Thermography of a Cat by yellowcloud

Cold Nose, Warm Touch, Thermography of a Cat by yellowcloud from Germany, 2011, via Wikimedia Commons.

4. Hot you, man.

Academic Study of a Male Torso by Ingres

Academic Study of a Male Torso by Jean August Dominique Ingres, French, 1801, via Wikimedia Commons.

5. The body, beautiful at any age.

Nude Old Man in the Sun by Mariano Fortuny

Nude Old Man in the Sun by Mariano Fortuny, Spanish, 1862-1863, via Wikimedia Commons.

6. Hot me, woman.

Venus with a Mirror by Titian

Venus with a Mirror by Titian, Italian, circa 1550, via Wikimedia Commons.

7. The body, beautiful at any age.

Old Woman at the Mirror by Bernardo Strozzi

Old Woman at the Mirror by Bernardo Strozzi, Italian, circa 1615, via Wikimedia Commons.

8. Hot dog! Hot Dog by Jkrane2, via Wikimedia Commons.