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We can read!

“I can read. I can tie my shoes. I have food in the fridge.” These are the kinds of things my down-the-street neighbor tells herself when she’s feeling off or blue—basic, often overlooked things worth giving thanks for.
The other day, I met my up-the-street neighbor. We talked about life, relationship and the pain and joy in both. We were trying to focus on the good stuff and not worry about the bad stuff. As I was leaving, I remembered my other neighbor and her gratitude. I said, “I think gratitude is the anecdote to anxiety. Wait…I mean antidote. Wait…I mean both!
And there on her doorstep, I had a revelation. When we tell our stories of gratitude—the anecdotes—we create the antidote to the bad stuff: fear, anxiety, annoyance, all the nasty et ceteras.
I can testify: It works.
Try it yourself: Think of something ungood that you felt recently. Feel that feeling. Here’s (one of) mine: annoyance. I was walking in the Woodlands where people ignore the signs requiring dogs to be on leashes. A dog bounded toward me, leashless. His owner yelled out, “Don’t worry, he’s friendly.” Yeah, well, friendly means he’s jumping up on my bare calves after having run off-trail through the poison oak. I wanted to yell out, “Can’t you read the signs? Can’t you take responsibility for your actions?” And in my head the scenario spinned into global proportions where all people were hopeless, and I was a fuming misanthropist.
Stop.
Now, start listing things you’re grateful for—anything on the spectrum.
I give thanks for my nose.
I give thanks for the fact that I can walk.
I give thanks for the Woodlands someone bequeathed to this town.
I give thanks for trees that give shade, provide homes for birds, and clean the air that I am able to breathe through my nose as I walk in these woods….
I created an anecdote of gratitude that became an antidote to the nasty. Notice that it started with the thing literally in front of me: my nose. The more annoyed I am, the more basic the beginning, but those details inevitably build into a story of gratitude. I also moved from the little problem by reminding myself of the bigger narrative of life. I used a silly example to keep it light, but believe me: I’ve tried it on the Big Bad’s too. It still works.
Sometimes I begin with “I am grateful for…”  or “Thank you for….” But I have come to like “I give thanks for…” the best. It makes me an active “thanker.” It tells my inner pouty self: “You are choosingthis good thing over this bad one. No matter what the bad thing is, you can still choose your attitude about it.”
When I practice this gratitude exercise, the annoyance dissolves. I discovered something I’m sure someone else has already discovered: that you can’t be grateful and annoyed (or angry, or anxious) at the same time. You have to let one of them go.
Now, dog paws in the woods are one thing. You might ask: what about divorce? Death? War? I’m not saying that if you drop and give 20 “thank you’s” in the midst of a military campaign that we’ll immediately have world peace. But then again…what if everybody did? What if everyone tried trading in their hurt, pain, and anger for gratitude? What might happen?
I’m grateful for grace, too—even (especially) toward myself. Just this morning, I indulged in frustration as a momentarily spotty Internet connection delayed some research for another essay. So, I gave thanks for my neighbors—those two friends whose anecdotes have become part of my antidote. And then I was in it again: the story of gratitude.

I choose to give thanks, thank you very much.

Save Our Bees Art Exhibit, Edgy in October GoodBean Reception

Save Our Bees!

Oregon Wild Iris with Bees, by Judy Elliott

Oregon Wild Iris with Bees, by Judy Elliott

Curator Hannah West and the ownership, management and staff at GoodBean Cafe in Jacksonville, Oregon are delighted to announce a special artist reception in conjunction with the second annual Edgy in October art event. Our featured art exhibit for October is Judy Elliott’s Save Our Bees, a collection of new works inspired by her concern about the plight of the honey bees. Her delicate and colorful paintings on silk depict bees and other pollinators paired with native Oregon wildflowers. The paintings don’t immediately suggest activist art, but Elliott’s passion to raise awareness of their plight and to share simple and inexpensive things anyone can do to help give bees the edge they need to survive the pressure they’ve been experiencing is anything but passive. As 80% of the food we eat depends on bees, we need them for our own survival, and Judy will share information about our long standing relationship and simple, inexpensive things anyone can do to help them at the reception.

The Honeylicker Angel, by Anna Elkins (book cover)

The Honeylicker Angel, by Anna Elkins (book cover)

We invite you to join us for Judy’s artist reception on Wednesday, October 15, from 5–8pm. She will give a brief artist talk at 6pm, then Jacksonville artist and author Anna Elkins  will read a brief passage about beekeeping from her most recent book The Honeylicker Angel at 6:30pm. Anna will have copies of her book available for purchase, and we’re sure she will be happy to sign them for you, too. Organic Dragon's Blood Braggot by Fire Cirkl Brewery, White City, Oregon

Complementary refreshments include sweet treats made with honey, created with love by the artists and the GoodBean’s in-house bakery, and tastings of organic Braggot, one of seven ancient varieties of honey mead, brewed and served by James Romano of Fire Cirkl Brewery in White City. Fire Cirkl produces 2 types of Braggot: “Dragon’s Blood” Braggot is a a hearty, warming drink, rich ebony in color and infused with juniper berries; “Naughty Heather” Braggot is a drier, copper colored mead with a generous amount of heather tips and flowers. Heather has been used to make meads and ales in Scotland for between 4,000–8,000 years (who knew?). If you like the taste, you can buy a glass!

GoodBean will also have a beautiful honey latte special until 7:30 pm.

 

Our reception coincides with two other Edgy in October receptions happening the same evening, both within walking distance of our location:

Oregon Tiger Lilies with Bees and Butterfly, by Judy Elliott

Oregon Tiger Lilies with Bees and Butterfly, by Judy Elliott

  • Across the street, our neighbors at the Jacksonville Barn Company are featuring artist Patrick Beste and avant garde watercolors by Mikey Staub. Beste, a member of Jacksonville’s Art Presence Art Center, paints wonderful abstracts. Jacksonville Barn Company’s artist reception, with wine tasting by John Guerrero, winemaker for Valley View Winery and producer of his own fine wines, and hosted canapés by Gogi’s Restaurant, begins at 6:00 pm. Oh, yes, we will be walking across the street to check out their reception for sure!
  • The Britt Festival is featuring photo artist resident Rita Ashley for Edgy in October. Ashley uses her camera to reveal the beauty in ordinary things. Her first camera was a gift from her father when she was 9 and she has never been without one since. Her work finds the art in chaos and reveals the hidden in the apparent. Ashley’s show will be on display for the Britt’s “On the Stage” concert featuring The Quiet American on Wednesday, October 15, at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7pm, so come early and take some time to view her show!

Edgy in October is a Rogue Valley-wide art event facilitated by local artist Cammy Davis to promote cultural tourism in southern Oregon by pairing exhibiting artists with local businesses for an “Edgy” themed event. The month-long event is broken down into four weeks, with a different area of the Greater Rogue Valley featured each week. For a complete list of all events and venues visit edgyinoctober.com. We hope you will come to our reception for Judy Elliott’s Save Our Bees art exhibit, and will add any further details to this post as they are confirmed.

If you’re sure you won’t be able to make it to the reception, maybe you’d like to buy Anna’s book now? It has 100% five star reviews on Amazon.com and an average of 4.33 stars on Goodreads!

Of Danger and Beauty

My essay “Of Danger and Beauty” won a 2014 Best Travel Writing‘s Gold Solas Award: Adventure Travel

View the published article at Wanderlust & Lipstick.

Following are my own photos of the trip: 
Dawn View of the Dead Sea from the Masada
Shoreline of the Dead Sea with Thermal Pools
Dead Sea Salt Formations
Kibbutz Bomb Shelter

Canyons for Camping

"Compassion First," Indeed

Calling artists near and far! What if a piece of your art could help rescue a victim of sex trafficking? It can. “Artcert,” an annual art auction and concert, will be raising money this year for the relief organization Compassion First.

“From numbers to names,” Compassion First “provides life-giving solutions to child sex-trafficking survivors.” They are “specifically committed to serving in countries that do not already have a strong, Western, nongovernmental organization (NGO) presence in the area of anti-trafficking work.”

Interested in contributing to this vital cause? Artwork needs to be dropped off/received by March 10th at: Living Waters Church, 2200 Roberts Road, Medford OR, 97502. (Office hours: Mon-Wed, 9-12 and 1-4)

For more information, contact Kim Butcher at kim@livingwatersmedford.org.

On a related note, I’ll be teaching a prophetic art workshop called Eyes of the Heart. A portion of the proceeds from the workshop will go toward the Anthem students at Living Waters Church, who will be traveling to the Indonesian branch of Compassion First to help rebuild the shelter for girls saved from sex trafficking.

Come spend February 22nd discovering prophetic art. Not only will you be stepping forward into your own creative destiny, you’ll also be helping young girls step into theirs.

You can register through the Eyes of the Heart link at annaelkins.com.

Poetry of Praise

CFN’s The Voice magazine published my article on the poetry of the Hebrew language. You can read it here: Poetry of Praise: The Hebrew Aleph-Bet and Psalm 119.

A Valentine Surprise

To my surprise, I ended up designing a line of eco-kid-friendly (and grown-up-kid-friendly!) Valentine cards.
“Robots?” I asked Hayley, owner of EcoPiggy, who had the idea and gave me suggestions for images that would appeal to grade-schoolers. I lamented, “I can’t draw a robot!” Well, she proved me wrong, and the Super-Heart set is now the most popular of the three.
All of the cards are printed from my original watercolors on recycled paper with soy-based inks, so the planet will feel your love, too!
Interested? Here’s a direct link to order them:
http://ecopiggy.com/category.php?manufacturer_id=29
And for those of you in the southern Oregon area, you can get the cards at Terra Firma Gift in Jacksonville starting this weekend. They’ll also be featured there during a special Valentine event on Saturday, February 1st, from 2-4pm; come enjoy samples of sweetness by Lux Cakes and face painting by local artists.
Wishing all a happy Valentine’s Day…and delightful surprises from directions you’d never suspect!
Lots of love,
Anna

A Valentine Surprise

To my surprise, I ended up designing a line of eco-kid-friendly (and grown-up-kid-friendly!) Valentine cards.  

“Robots?” I asked Hayley, owner of EcoPiggy, who had the idea and gave me suggestions for images that would appeal to grade-schoolers. I lamented, “I can’t draw a robot!” Well, she proved me wrong, and the Super-Heart set is now the most popular of the three.

All of the cards are printed from my original watercolors on recycled paper with soy-based inks, so the planet will feel your love, too!

Interested? Here’s a direct link to order them:
http://ecopiggy.com/category.php?manufacturer_id=29

And for those of you in the southern Oregon area, you can get the cards at Terra Firma Gift in Jacksonville starting this weekend. They’ll also be featured there during a special Valentine event on Saturday, February 1st, from 2-4pm; come enjoy samples of sweetness by Lux Cakes and face painting by local artists.
Wishing all a happy Valentine’s Day…and delightful surprises from directions you’d never suspect!

Lots of love,

Anna

Miscellany

I’m a minimalist with maximalist tendencies. It’s a constant tension. This week, I went through my paperwork from, um forever. I cleaned and culled. After stacking the remaining papers in vintage suitcases with labels for the year spans, I found three strays.
The cross-section of years made me smile, so I gave them their own folder and labeled it: “Miscellaneous History.”
The contents:
1: A recipe book I’d “written” in Montana with my Grandmother Elkins in 1985 (first recipe: strawberry rhubarb pie. Still an all-time favorite.)
2: A playbill from the first musical I ever saw, Phantom of the Opera at the Ahmason Theater in LA, 1992.
3: A 2003 letter from the girls’ orphanage where I’d volunteered in India. The letter detailed the price for a second-story extension in rupees.
All of those relics came pre-social-media explosion. Had Facebook been around, I’d probably have detailed all of them. But the one I regret not getting out there was Number 3. I guess I can thank my minimal-maximal tendencies for rediscovering that letter, and the blogosphere for being able to share it.
If you’re looking to support an incredible orphanage that rescues, supports, and educates abandoned girls, this is the man to talk to:
Rev. Frank Godberg John
PO Box 15, Robertsonpet
Kolar Gold Fields 563122
India
They accept US checks. Frank is one of the most honorable people I know, and all money designated to the orphanage goes exactly there. Write me if you have any questions.
Holiday Blessings,
Anna

A Painter-Poet Double Date

‘Tis the month of gratitude. This year, I’m especially grateful for the convergence of some lifelong loves: painting and poetry.
I’m happy to announce a double-date of the two: on November 9th, I’m having a reception for my art show, Wordbody: Drawings in Paint, and releasing my book of poetry, TheSpace Between. Since that’s also the day before my birthday, I decided to make it one big celebration of art, words, and life.
But because not everyone can be here in Jacksonville, OR, I’m also making my book, The Space Between,available now on amazon.com. The poems span over a dozen years and explore the tension of distance: the space between a man and woman, between a promise and its fulfillment, between heaven and earth.
If you are in the area, join me in Jacksonville at South Stage Cellars on November 9thfrom 5-8 pm. At the reception, enjoy award-winning wine, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cake, and live music by the talented Jeff Kloetel. The paintings and poetry book will be available for sale. The Wordbody show runs 5 to 29 November.
Here’s a bit more about both the poetry and the painting:
ISBN-13: 978-0615891415
w o r d b o d y

What is the space between two people? Between a promise and its fulfillment? Between heaven and earth? This collection of poetry asks us these questions by weaving what is with what is dreamed. The resulting fabric is fine enough to see heaven through and thick enough keep us warm in earthly winters. 

For just $7 (print) and $2.99 (Kindle), this book of poetry makes a great little gift for yourself, for a Thanksgiving host, or for Christmas. 

PAINTING: Wordbody: Drawings in Paint
“I am Written”
Acrylic on Canvas
16″ x 20″

I have been enthralled by the link between word and image since I learned to hold a pencil. As a poet and painter, I finally found a way to combine my two loves in this Wordbody series. Each painting visually expresses the progressive word/s of a single poem. I painted as I wrote and wrote as I painted, sometimes adding a single word to the poem every few days. On the canvases, some of those words form images, and some images extend into words. All of the paintings reveal the process of creation: charcoal smudges, layers of glosses, and gestural lines.

It was the very process of creating this series that fascinated me most. Revision (re-visioning or “seeing again”) is something I had been quite familiar with in writing and painting, separately. But what surprised me was the way revision occurs when simultaneously working with word and image. When the poem got stuck on a word, an image would move it forward. When an image grew stilted, a new word brought it grace. The process became an interplay between left and right brain—language and the visual happily collaborating with each other.
“River”
Acrylic on Canvas
16″ x 20″

Here is the poem that became these drawings in paint:

I AM WRITTEN
I am written within
the yes of presence.
I hold this cup
of heaven close—taste
promise, prize.
Lift this river 
to your lips
& drink sweet life.





May your upcoming holiday season be filled with goodness. Here’s to continued blessings to be grateful for!


“Within”
Acrylic on Canvas
16″ x 20″


“Wordbody” ~ Anna Elkins to Show at South Stage Cellars in November

Anna Elkins, artist and author

Anna Elkins, artist and author

 

ANNA ELKINS is a traveling poet and painter. She earned a BA in art and English followed by an MFA and Fulbright Fellowship in poetry. Her writings have been published in journals and books, and her paintings hang on walls around the world. She has written, painted, and taught in the US, Europe, the Middle East, Micronesia, and Africa. She is the author of The Heart Takes Flight and The Honeylicker Angel. Her poetry collection, The Space Between, is in the process of publication. Anna has happily set up her easel and writing desk in the mythical State of Jefferson. annaelkins.com

 

WORDBODY: DRAWINGS IN PAINT

I have been enthralled by the link between word and image since I learned to hold a pencil. As a poet and painter, I have finally found a way to combine my two loves in this Wordbody series. Each painting visually expresses the progressive word/s of a single poem. On the canvases, some of those words form images, and some images extend into words. All of the paintings reveal the process of creation: charcoal smudges, layers of glosses, and gestural lines shaping word and image, both. Left and right brain play together in these “drawings in paint.” Enjoy the exchange.

 

Join Jacksonville painter & poet Anna Elkins in the South Stage Cellars tasting room as she celebrates her birthday by sharing a new art & word painting series: Wordbody: Drawings in Paint

Enjoy fine wine & complimentary hors d’oeuvres & cake at the reception on Saturday, 9 November 2013, 5-8 pm. Show runs 5-29 November.

I Am Written, by Anna Elkins