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The Word-Painting Project

Many moons ago, in a land far, far away, my life completely changed. I had been working for two years in Germany, living an art-filled but spirit-empty life. On a whim, I took the train to Switzerland to a theological commune my parents had told me about. 
You could say I had my mountain-top experience on a literal mountain top. There in the Alps, my life did a complete reset, and I started on a what would become my journey of art + word + spirit.
At the time, I didn’t know how much I needed to be encouraged that there was something beyond my current circumstances—something more. (In fact, I wrote & illustrated a children’s book inspired by that journey.) 
In early June, I’ll be back in Switzerland to teach poetry. Afterward, I’m returning to that alpine village and taking a 10-day creativity retreat—my own personal pilgrimage. But this time around, I’d like to invite you to share the journey. Specifically, I’d like to share a little project of encouragement….
The Word-Painting Project
Do you ever wish a bit of encouragement would just arrive on your doorstep? Consider this an invitation to receive some!
During 10 days in June, I’ll create 10 word-paintings in watercolor & ink. Though I don’t yet know exactly what they’ll be, I know that they’ll be inspired by taking heart. (You can see a similar idea by checking out the watercolor/micropoetry pieces I created while at a writing residency last fall.) 
Once I’m back home, I’ll make archival, matte, 5” x 5” postcard prints of the originals. 
Sign up for the project, and I’ll sign, hand-address, & mail the postcards to you—one per week, for 10 weeks. You’ll get a tangible word of encouragement in your mailbox—your actual snail-mailbox!
Cost: $25 to addresses within the US ($30 outside the US)
You can also order the project as a gift for someone else—just send me their mailing address. 
And as a fun finale: the project will conclude with a poetry reading & art reception to display the originals in San Francisco mid-August (more details on that event to come). 
Sign up online: 
~Go to annaelkins.com
~Click the $ sign at the top of the page. 
~In the “description” field, write the option(s) you’d like & your mailing address and/or the recipient’s address.
~In the “amount” field, enter the total for your desired batch of word-painting projects.
Or sign up with snail mail:
~Send a check—along with your choice(s) & address—to: 
Anna Elkins | PO Box 509 | Jacksonville, OR 97530
It’s encouraging to know that something good is on its way to us. Here’s to anticipating summer goodness! 


Entering the “roaming stillness”

The book stacks were winning. Not the ones in the library—the ones by my bed: neat-but-towering stacks waiting to find room on shelves filled with the kindred books I love returning to.
By the end of 2018, I had three stacks. Something had to be done: more reading! So For 2019, I’ve committed to reading more books—the tangible ones with spines and flyleaves and the scent of possibility in their binding. More reading: even when life and to-do lists brim.
A dozen books into this year, and I’m back to my bookworm self. Happy reunion! I thought I’d share some favorite lines from my favorite five reads so far. Happy reading!
When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice, Terry Tempest Williams: “Silence introduced in a society that worships noise is like the Moon exposing the night. Behind darkness is our fear. Within silence our voice dwells. What is required from us…is that we be still. We focus. We listen. We see and we hear. The unexpected emerges.”
The Long Home, Christian Wiman, from his poem “Elsewhere”:
            He longs
to find some calm within
what he’s become, inside
the sound, a roaming
stillness.
Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health, Dr. Caroline Leaf: “[W]hen our brain enters the rest circuit, we don’t actually rest; we move into a highly intelligent, self-reflective, directed state. And the more often we go there, the more we get in touch with the deep, spiritual part of who we are.”
H is for Hawk, Helen McDonald: “When you are learning how to do something, you do not have to worry about whether or not you are good at it. But when you have done something, have learned how to do it, you are not safe any more. Being an expert opens you up to judgment.” 

We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress, Craig Morgan Teicher: “Wisdom is born where observation and imagination meet, where the real and ideal touch….”

#FutureSelfLove

This January, three things inspired/conspired to create this post…
1) Earlier this month, I was traveling for work. My flights had the tightest layovers of any airline itinerary I’ve ever booked, and I barely made either connection. And though my checked bag was delayed for several days on arrival, I found myself laughing at what annoyed me most: no time for airport laps. That’s what I call my travel exercise when I’m (usually) waiting in an airport for hours. I often walk until my phone’s health app tells me I’ve reached five miles. On this trip, I got my cardio in by quite literally running to catch my planes—not the most pleasant or peaceful exercise!
2) This month also marks the 10-year anniversary of a promise I made to myself. In January of 2009, I had been teaching for a year and a half on an island in Micronesia. In that near-equatorial climate, it was sweet relief to swing by the beach after school and join fellow teachers for a swim. On the hottest days, we’d buy a pass to one of the swanky hotel gyms and exercise in the air-conditioning.
By that January, I was in the best shape of my life. I liked feeling strong and lithe. And so I committed to some kind of exercise every day. For the rest of my life, for as long as my body can move. Minimum: 20 minutes of stretches. Average: 45 minute hike. And…I’m not really into maximum exertion, so there’s pretty much never more than a two-hour hike or a long day of walking in a foreign city. I know my limits!
For the last ten years, I’ve kept this commitment—even on days of extreme weather, international travel, or minor surgery. I’d made the commitment, so I found a way. Some days, it’s just those 20 minutes of stretches.  Most days it’s the 45-minute hike in my town’s Woodlands. One day in Paris, it was walking over a dozen miles across almost as many arrondissements. 
The beautiful thing about doing something over time is the momentum. Once I reached the year mark, it was easy to keep going. I liked that I’d built a history of trust with myself. It inspired me to find a way to keep my commitment, every single day. 
3) Also this month, I saw many #TenYearChallenge posts on social media. It can be fun to look back. It can also be fun to look forward—by doing things our future selves will be grateful for. What would we like to “see” in photos taken ten years from now? And I don’t just mean physically.
I write this as much to encourage myself as anyone because beyond asking myself what can I do that my future self will be grateful for, I’m also asking what I can do that goes beyond myself. What little thing(s) everyday over ten years could we do that might translate into healthier world? What daily practices of spirit, mind, and body could we begin now that will build over the next decade? What might we see in our lives in 2029 as a result?
Blessings of health & #FutureWorldLove to us all,

Anna

Join Anna Elkins at The Miner’s Bazaar this Saturday from 5-7pm

Hello, Rogue Valley friends!
Fun event alert for this weekend! Join me for a combo art reception of milagro paintings and a book launch for a mother-daughter book:Blessings: A Children’s Book for Grown-ups. I had the joy of working with my mom to craft the simple blessings inside–and to create the simple illustrations for them, too.
It’s a wholehearted eve’, indeed.
Join us this Saturday, 26 January, from 5-7 pm at Jacksonville’s delightful new project cafe, The Miners’ Bazaar {235 E California St.}. Owner Rosie will be selling a range of local wines, beer, tea & coffee. Bring a friend or a love or both! (The reception would make a great start to an evening in Jacksonville–consider heading out for dinner after. We love to support our local businesses!)
Bonus: the blessing book is a coloring book, and we’ll be including little bundles of colored pencils with purchase. You can hang out and start to color or save the book for a Valentine’s gift…or do both!
We’d love to see you there,
Anna
Valentines Show 2019_edited-1.jpg
anna elkins
art word spirit

Happy All-Hearted Holidays

“All-Hearted,” painted at the annual women’s conference, Face to Face,
Living Waters, November 2018

May the art of the heart shape us.

May we love with our skinny & big hearts,
our new hearts & old hearts,
our right-side up & upside-down hearts.
May we bless the hearts that beat
to different rhythms,
the lost hearts & the found,
& all those in between.
May we be all-hearted.

Strange Thanks

On the last night of this holiday weekend, here’s a little poem—aka an excuse to share a cat painting! Cheers to gratitude—in all its expected and unexpected forms.

Strange Thanks
The cat stretches
awake after dreaming
of a bigger belly
to fill with birds.
I pet his fur ‘till
purring. Hope 
he’ll remember
how well he’s fed.
Blue jays fly past,
oddly silent,
in a blur of canny
gratitude. 

PS: You can find prints of this and other cats here

Anna Elkins Presents Poetry of Process, Delve November 3 at Willamette Writers

Poetry of Process, Delve by Anna Elkins
Hi, Southern Oregon Friends!
I’ve got a poetry announcement for those of you who love to write–or who just want to try it out. I’ll be speaking & teaching this coming Saturday, November 3, at the Willamette Writers monthly meeting in Central Point.
It’s a two-part day:
10:00-12:00: Poetry of Process :: For the morning presentation, I’ll share my own process, practical tips, & poetry–including glimpses into the stages of my current manuscript–in all its messy reality. (Free for members & $10 for guests)
1:30-3:30: Delve :: During the afternoon workshop, we will all immerse ourselves in the writing process itself and emerge with a poem. Bring paper & your favorite pen or pencil. ($20 for members & $25 for guests)
For more information, visit:
May your week be a good one!
Cheers & joy,
anna elkins
art word spirit
anna elkins logo

We Harvest Hope

October has been a month of poetry for me. I came home from a writing residency at Vermont Studio Center with a pretty-much-done manuscript and a very big smile! While there, I also committed to creating and sharing a bit of micropoetry + watercolor each day as a way to celebrate process in all its unpredictbleand often glitchyglory. 


As I went, I jotted down each day’s line in the back of my journal. A week in, I realized that the single lines were forming a larger poem. So I decided to share the full month here, interspersed with my favorite of the original poem-paintings. Happy harvest!

We Harvest Hope
In the beginning,
the rain came out to play,
& we turned to dreaming leaves—
falling up and lifting down.

We break bread, rules, even, through.
We go where the water falls
& the dark sky rises.
becomes we & other becomes another.
River gets swim
& borders get blurred into union.

Hither & yon,
we grow our spirits,
& send big hope up.
Cross our hearts,
make prints of possibility,
leave traces of grace.
Where we are marks the spot of promise.

We press on in,
we make cider of time.
What comes goes—
onces come undone.

Tomorrow is a maze of maybes 
filled with friends.

Brimming with what-ifs,
we harvest hope.


Of Palapas, Caves & Medinas

Sunset in Moulay Idriss, Morocco from the terrace of Scorpion House
If you use a hardcopy calendar, you’ve probably already begun to write down events for 2019. If you’re digital, some of those pixel squares are likely filling. As you plan your coming year, consider penciling in (or typing in!) a Deep Travel adventure or two. Imagine an afternoon beneath a seaside palapa in Mexico, watching a flamenco puro performance in a Spanish cave, or watching the sun set over the Fez Medina and the mountain village of Moulay Idriss in Morocco. DeepTravel not only gets you to these places, we also introduce you to the artists, writers, and change-makers who live there. As one of our alumni said of her time in Morocco, “I fell a bit in love with everyone I met.” We invite you to do the same.
Deep Travel Mexico: The Art of Tranquilo
January 3-7: Yelapa, Mexico
Come enjoy a writing retreat in the rugged-and-wonderful, car-free village of Yelapa on Mexico’s Bay of Banderas.  Beloved travel writer Tim Cahill will be our instructor, inspiring us in this unpolished paradiso fueled by sun, cerveza, and seafood. After waking in your open-air casita, amble down the beach for a session of guided writing with Tim, and then enjoy the day sketching, swimming, hiking, boating—or all of the above! This trip will balance rest and adventure. Want to sip margaritas in a hammock? Want to salsa dance in the moonlight? Want to enjoy Huichol art? How about fishing? Whatever your interests, you will find plenty of inspiration for your journal. Register here 
Deep Travel Andalusia: In Search of Duende
March 22-28: Granada, Spain
What is duende and where do we find it? The great Spanish poet Federico García Lorca defined it as the dark beauty found in Andalusian art: the bullfight, the fierce flamenco dancing, and the strains of a guitar. You might recognize it closer to home in the haunting chords of your favorite Leonard Cohen song. Wherever we find it, duende can transform struggle into art and sorrow into revelation. This spring, Deep Travel will journey to Lorca’s hometown of Granada, Spain to explore duende at its source. We will visit the gitano caves, hold readings by candlelight, marvel at the Alhambra, and enjoy a sunset paella party with local flamenco dancers in the Sacromonte. Along the way, author and musician Nick Jaina will spark your writing with the cante jondo—the deep song at the heart of duende. Register here
Deep Travel Morocco: The Art of Adventure
March 31-April 8: Fez & Moulay Idriss, Morocco
Can writing about the world make it a better place? It can, insists Lavinia Spalding, author of Writing Away and series editor of The Best Women’s Travel Writing. For this immersive workshop, Lavinia helps us to explore how writing the stories of people and places can seed change—both in others and in ourselves. Our eight-day journey takes us inside the mesmerizing Fez Medina with its 9,000 byways and into Morocco’s holiest city, Moulay Idriss, in the Middle Atlas mountains. We’ll gather with Sufis, listen to the tales of traditional storytellers, connect with inspired artists, and dine with local friends who will invite us deeply into their culture. In daily sessions, we’ll articulate the places behind the headlines and the individuals behind the stereotypes. This trip is for anyone who wants to see inside the heart and soul of Morocco. Join us! Register here

Bonus: if you come on both the Spain and Morocco trips, we cover the days in between: accommodation and transit from Granada, Spain, a ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar, a night in Tangier, the train to Fez, and the night in Fez before the workshop begins. Contact us with any questions. 

Vignettes in the Vineyard: Writing Workshop

Hello, Rogue Valley Friends!

It’s official: the second annual Vignettes in the Vineyard writing workshop is coming up!

Last year, we had a wonderful gathering in the scenic Red Lily barn. Glasses of wine in hand, we crafted vignettes—short, impressionistic passages of poetry or prose. It’s one of the best ways to write!

anna elkins Take Heart Greeting Cards

The details:

Time: Thursday, 27 September 2018, 3-5 pm

Place: Red Lily Vineyards: 11777 Highway 238, Jacksonville, OR 97530 (We’ll be meeting in their event barn)

Price: $35: Includes a little set of Take Heart greeting cards

No….

~No experience required

~No pressure to read

~No worries!

Yes…

~Yes to bringing a journal/notebook & a favorite writing pen

~Yes to discovering your inner wordsmith in a casual & caring space

~Yes to getting yourself a glass of Red Lily’s award-winning wine (if you like) to enjoy the writing time!

REGISTER:

Space is limited & advanced registration is a must. Email me at: [email protected] & I’ll let you know how to proceed with payment (check or PayPal).

It would be a joy to write with you!

Blessings of goodness,

Anna

anna elkins
art word spirit