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The Personality of Process: On the Enneagram, the house we built, and marriage

The house foundations last August


Blobs, spots, specks, smudges, cracks, defects, mistakes, accidents, exceptions, and irregularities are the windows to other worlds.—Bob Miller

 

Part One: In Which I Vent About the Enneagram (Though I Love It, Too)

 

If you know a bit about the Enneagram, you know that you are likely one of nine types—and that each type has specific fears and desires and motivations. Learning about this framework helps us understand ourselves and others. 

 

However…I’ve also learned that you can come into this world as one type but can learn to adapt into another type that appears to serve you or others better. And then you can be very confused.

 

There are various schools of the Enneagram, and many of the types have different names according to which one you study. I believe I came into this world a Four—the Romantic or Individualist. But the world rewarded my ability to be a One: the Perfectionist or Reformer. I joke that I’m either a Perfecting Romantic or Romanic Perfectionist.

 

From my school years through the first months of my marriage, I lived pretty well as a Perfectionist-Reformer One. Even my creativity was highly structured; I’d embark on a series of 100 portraits, 30 days of painting-poems, et cetera, et-orderly-cetera. It didn’t help that most organized religion and education love achievers—and boy could I achieve. In grade school, I memorized whole chapters of Corinthians for our church version of the Girl Scouts, The Missionettes. (Somewhere, there exists a photo of myself wearing a turquoise polyester sash with all of my badges). I worked to be high school valedictorian. Then I worked even harder to be undergraduate summa cum laude. By grad school, I let myself breathe and settled for magna cum laude. And that was probably because, while I shaped my poetry thesis, I rediscovered a wild creativity longing to play free—uncaged by a rigid grid of quantification.   

 

And then, decades later, I got married. Funny thing about marriage: your True Self emerges in a way it never did before. True union eventually squeezes out anything false. And when two become one, a lot of shit has got to go. (I could make a terrible pun here about two each becoming the most annoying parts of the Enneagram’s Reformer One, but I shall not!) 

 

Suffice it to say, that whatever façade we’ve built basically gets shaken off, and whatever’s underneath probably has some black mold and maybe a rat or two, despite however many years we think we’ve done our spirit excavation. 

 

And also, I married an Eight: the Challenger. Challengers can call your bluff pretty darn well. 

 

Part Two: In Which I Vent About Building a House (Though I Love It, Too)

 

This all leads me, most indirectly, to the process of building a house—before we’d been married a year. (In fact, as I write this, we are just about to reach our nine-month anniversary). 

 

But before I get to that, I should also mention that it took me until my forties to see an obvious life pattern. During my college years, I worked as a housecleaner—for residential and professional buildings. And then I worked as an editor in some capacity for longer than most starting editors have been alive. Cleaning and editing. Basically, I trained myself to see the mess and the misspelled and to perfect them all. But such tasks, though they felt good when done, didn’t feel good in the process; they felt exhausting and never-ending. I wouldn’t so much celebrate as check off the completion of each round of “perfecting,” even as I braced myself for the next round of trash and typos. Versus celebrating the process—mud ‘n’ all. 

 

And let’s just say that pointing out all the dirt and dialogue flaws is not a beneficial marriage skill. But the long-entrenched One in me—the Perfectionist-Reformer—was so used to doing this, that it was hard to stop. It took me a while to be grateful for the fact that my husband doesn’t really care if things are clean or if every T is crossed. “But these are my strengths!” a part of me kept shouting. 

 

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the truer part of myself kept saying she loved going off on muddy river adventures and not needing to analyze the etymology of the kayak term “boof.” 

 

One book on the Enneagram is called The Road Back to You. The One-Me never understood that title. The Four-Me is jumping up and down for childlike joy, saying, “Yes! We’re back!”

 

Marriage has invited me to return to my creative being: my True Self, the Self who loves paint splatters and rough-edged canvas and impromptu word play for pure fun; the Four who knows that all of life is poetry, not just words on a page—or a specific page count. That Self has risen up alongside our house.

 

Yes, finally, I get to the house. It has become my metaphor for building a more authentic self and marriage. 

 

Last summer, I took a photo of the foundations—surrounded by heaps of displaced earth. Where wild grass had grown in beautiful abandon, the hillside looked like a jagged scar. But we wanted to build something, and so we had to tear into what was there. We had to make a mess.

 

Now, a brick home stands on that site, finished, after months of trucks and lumber. But nothing is ever finished, is it? The wake of construction rubble and ruts surrounding the house remind me how ongoing building really is.

 

Our first day in the house

So that Miller quote I opened with; I am still struggling to love the messy process. But now that I’ve been building a life with someone and building a house with someone—I am beginning to get it. 

 

I am also beginning to embrace both the Reformer and the Romantic in myself—and I consciously choose those two labels for the One and the Four. The drive for excellence in the former helped ground the often formless creative sensitivities of the latter. Maybe I’ll call myself a Romantic Reformer—head in the clouds but feet on the ground. Imperfectly trying to bring Heaven to Earth.

 

The two types in me have finally become one.

 

Union starts in our very own hearts. 

 

Part Three: In Which I Don’t Vent About Marriage, But Instead Write A Poem About It

 

O this strange bliss—

brimming with

mess & misspellings 

mud & wonder—

I embrace all 

your stains & stars.

 

Two become 

one house 

uniting 

divided hearts

 

We build

a mystery.


Right after the land became ours last spring


From Prompt to Print Winter 2021 ~ A Celebration of Our Creative Process!

This collective publication is a celebration of the creative process! This anthology of poetry, fiction, and memoir came from a six-week writing group at Writers’ Room, a creative writing studio in Jacksonville, Oregon. We began by free writing to a series of prompts. Over the next weeks we developed our writing, provided feedback to one […]

Sacred Offerings from Roxanne Evans Stout

third   Hello you beautiful artists and friends! I hope this newsletter finds you well! These are not easy times, but I am finding ways to create joy, and I hope you are too. I am thrilled to tell you about a special project I have been preparing for quite some time. It is finally ready to share with you! 1 poster
My next online class for you is… Sacred Offerings! Create beautiful backgrounds for stenciled “Offerings.”

How will you use them? In books, as wall hangings, as gifts or stand-alone works of art… Join me March 11 at 1 pm PST on Facebook Live! The class will last 1.5-2 hours.

After you register, you will receive an invite to a closed Facebook group, where the class will be. You will be able to re-watch the class and share with the group forever after. So even if you can’t make the live recording, it will always be available to you in our Facebook group! And it is only $30! Register here now! Register now to join Sacred Offerings!

Nurture your creativity with Sacred Offerings. Nourish your artistic spirit with an afternoon making art together… In Sacred Offerings!

If you want to explore printmaking on a Gelli plate, this will be a wonderful class for you!

We will add texture and color to papers and delve into new and meaningful ways to use my stencil designs!

We are going to nurture our creativity together, and create all kinds of magic!

Register now to join us in Sacred Offerings!

Explore Gelli plates and stencils in new and meaningful ways with us in Sacred Offerings!
IMG 5318 2
May you have a magical, beautiful day! Thank you so much to each of you who has already signed up for Sacred Offerings!  

©2021 River Garden Studio | P.O. Box 645 Keno OR 97627

The Gasket of Grace

To celebrate this month that celebrates relationships, I decided to write about gaskets. 

I don’t think I really knew what a gasket was until we had three needing to be replaced. First to go was my husband’s kayak drysuit neck gasket (which I really didn’t know about). Second was our woodstove door gasket (which I learned how to replace). And third was my little stove-top coffee maker gasket (which apparently gives up if I accidentally leave the contraption on the burner too long).

 

Once things happen in threes, I start to pay attention. And I start to research meaning. Turns out, the official definition of a gasket is a seal that fills the space between two or more mating surfaces.

 

Well, if that isn’t a relationship metaphor! 

 

A favorite of the hundred or so books I’ve read on marriage (I exaggerate that number, but only slightly) is Rob Bell’s Zimzum of Love. In it, he explores the ancient Hebrew word zimzum, which essentially means “the space between.” I’m kind of obsessed with this idea. In fact, my first poetry collection many years ago was a little chapbook titled, The Space Between. I look for connections everywhere—for what brings things and people together and what keeps them together. 

 

The best part of the gasket definition? It allows for less-than-perfect mating surfaces between two, irregular parts. Which could be said of the space between two, irregular people.

 

“So,” I asked myself, “What is the gasket of marriage?”

 

First, I should explain that my husband and I are very different. We are learning to laugh about this. 

 

He’s Mr. Spontaneity. On a Friday after a long work week, he can grab a jar of peanut butter and head out camping on a whim. I am Mrs. Planner. If we are going camping, I like to A) know about it at least a day in advance and B) pack a cooler brimming with pesto, sliced aged cheddar, pre-chopped onions soaking in olive oil for morning eggs, driving snacks of sea-salt dark chocolate, at least one good bottle of wine, etc. etc. 

 

He’s Mr. DIY. Whether changing the car oil, installing a new dishwasher, or cutting his hair, he’s a do-it-yourself kinda guy. I’m Mrs. Outsource-My-Weaknesses. I like to take the car in for its checkup to my trusty mechanic, hire a handyman to install anything that comes with a lengthy instruction manual and connects to electricity or water, and when I did briefly cut my own hair for a season, it just confirmed that I should leave some things to the professionals.

 

He’s Mr. Down-to-Earth and says it like it is. I’m Mrs. Pie-in-the-Sky and tend to quote literature aloud. When we watched Starsky & Hutch one night, I recognized the start of a favorite Shakespeare line, quoted by Snoop Dog, “To err is human…” and I spoke in time with the rest of it: “…to forgive, divine.” At dinner parties now, my husband likes to say I quote Snoop Dog, at which point, I start distinguishing between primary and secondary sources. 

 

Whether expressed by a 17th-century bard or a 21st-century bard, forgiveness is something my husband and I both agree on. It’s the gasket of grace. Especially in marriage. And especially when two different people approach life in different ways—which is bound to lead to misunderstandings.  

 

I have a hunch that you don’t need a lot of grace to love someone who’s a lot like yourself. That’s pretty easy. Learning to love difference is a gift in that it does require a lot of grace. Maybe the more difference between two people, the more grace you can have—if you also choose to give it. 

 

I looked up zimzum to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Part of HarperCollins’s definition states: “In marriage, zimzum is the dynamic energy field between two partners.” 


We are learning to celebrate the dynamics. 

 

So whether I lean toward my poetic-academic love of Big Words and call it zimzum, or whether I lean toward the practical gasket, I know that whatever seals the space between us will be made of grace. 



Love for the Win

“Heart Wins,” from the Take Heart series

Once upon a time, I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s reviewing the previous year, evaluating it, and forecasting/goalcasting the year ahead. You might say I was an overachiever with  resolutions.

Some years, I was bullet-point specific. Like when I determined to go on an archaeological dig, learn salsa dancing, and take up archery: check, check, check. (I discovered that I hated the heat and dirt of the dig, I wasn’t a fan of prescribed dance steps, but I was a decent aim.)

 

Other years, I was more open-ended, listing four to five feelings I wanted to cultivate. Once, I painted a four-point compass with harmony at its center and joy, peace, prosperity, and grace as its north, south, east, and west.

 

At the end of December 2019, while housesitting at a lovely home, high on a hill—as I had for many years—I sat in front of the fire and started my review and projection. 

 

Or I tried to. 

 

I even had a fancy calendar that led you through all the steps with lots of questions to answer and blanks to fill in. (I should note that I am very good about answering all the questions and filling in all the blanks.) And yet, as I flipped through the pages I usually looked forward to filling, I found myself completely uninspired by all the specificity. 


For once, I didn’t want to grip the steering wheel of my life so hard and beeline for the next goal. And believe me: I can beeline! From putting myself through undergraduate and graduate school on scholarships to getting a grant to write poetry in Germany for a year to all manner of less scholastic but equally daunting goals since: I. Get. It. Done. 

 

But those last days before 2020, I didn’t want to get it all done. Because I had a hunch that there were things waiting to happen if I were willing to let go of my limited ideas of what I could achieve and maintain in my own strength. And so, to my surprise, I found myself writing the word “Love” in big, loose cursive across all those usually inviting blanks I was “supposed” to fill in.

 

Fun facts: Just over a month into 2020, I began dating an old friend. Then he proposed. Then we got married. And we have spent the last half year learning the intricacies of love—and I could not have forecast any of them!

 

So, for 2021, I didn’t buy the fancy, fill-in-the-blank calendar. In fact, I’m using one of those free company calendars. I’m keeping it simple. And I’m metaphorically writing love across every month. 

 

And on this Day of Epiphany—a feast day celebrating the manifestation of the One who is Love—I invite the continual manifestation of Love to us all…in all its unpredictable forms, across all the days of this year.  

GPMA News January 2021


January 2021 eNews

Happy New Year. We hope to connect with all of you soon. Keep checking the museum website for any updates regarding exhibits, events, and more.
Enjoy! Hyla Executive Director
Click here to visit our website
Current Exhibition The membership exhibit will remain in the museum through January 22. Currently the museum is closed – but you can view each entry in the exhibit by watching the video (see below). GPMA 2020 Membership Exhibit Video What’s Next? The Exhibition Department has been very busy keeping up with the many changes in schedules. Following is a preview of a preliminary list of exhibits for 2021. This list is totally subject to change due to circumstances that the museum cannot control. Vince Carl Kristen O’Neill Rogue Valley Biennial Ilene Gienger-Stanfield 2021 Membership Exhibit Sakaya Ganz Reclaimed Creations

Save These Dates
Black, White, & the Blues will be virtual this year.
MARCH 25 – stay tuned for more information! We are almost positive that Art in the Garden will be live because it is an outdoor activity and it is not until June 12 & 13. Virtual Classes SIGN UP HERE Happenings If you would like to have a private shopping experience – we are happy to open the gallery just for you. We are offering private shopping for customers limiting going out in public. They may make an appointment by calling, 541 476 3220.

Help keep the museum free for all! The museum does not receive government funding (other than grants from the Josephine County Cultural Coalition and the Oregon Cultural Trust via JCCC). So keeping the doors open depends on grants, donations, memberships, sponsorships, and rent from the street level businesses (Shoefly and Gallery One). You can do one time donations and you can also do monthly donations. It’s easy – and we appreciate you very much! On additional side benefit – the foundations who offer grants are very pleased to see community involvement. Your donations show your support!
You can DONATE by clicking here

Monthly donations are so amazing. They add up quickly. Just $10 a month means a donation to the museum of $120 for the year. That’s fabulous. Please consider this option. The payments safely charged to your credit card.
Be a “Monthly Sustainer” and click here!

You can also call us at 541-479-3290 or send mail to us at Grants Pass Museum of Art, P.O. Box 966, Grants Pass, OR 97528

Do you shop on Amazon? This quarter, we received $24.29. Every little bit helps a lot. Thank you! Did you know that if you go to a special link called Amazon Smile you can choose a nonprofit to benefit from your purchase. Each nonprofit has a unique link. Here’s the portal you can use for the museum. Every little bit helps! CLICK HERE or click the picture to shop and benefit the museum.The best part is that it doesn’t cost you any extra!



THANK YOU! If you get this far….here’s a wonderful hand painted 2021 calendar to enjoy.

Mannerly, Bannerly

This little poem is my wish & my wonder for the New Year:  


Mannerly, Bannerly

 

When all manner of bad 

lands in our laps, 

and the mean things 

land in our news feed,

what if, 

instead of responding 

in kind,

we respond in kindness?

What if 

we invite the other to dinner,

polish our best manners,

and serve goodness?

What if

we lift a banner of love,

lifting each other up,

until there is no other?  



*The illustration above is from Blessings: A Children’s Book for Grown-ups, cowritten with my dear mom, Jan Elkins         

 

Above the Fog, Above the Fray

 

On Saturday, I went Christmas-tree-hunting with my new extended family. We drove out of the foggy valley in trucks, careening up old logging roads into the mountains until we hit sunshine—and snow. 

 

The day was a catalog of goodness: Leftover turkey sandwiches by the fire (and roasting of “snow marshmallows”). Gentle, sunny walks for some…sledding (and wiping out) for others. Hot cocoa with whipped cream, optionally spiked with peppermint schnapps (yes, please).

 

It was a very good day to get away. Besides taking a break on Thanksgiving afternoon for our meal, Jared had spent every other daylight minute of the holiday weekend bricking the new house, and I had been staining its cedar shingles. 

 

Tree-hunting and snow-playing were welcome respites. When the sun and fire got low, we all piled back into the trucks and started for home. Through the forest, we kept glimpsing a lake of fog still covering the valley. And then, before descending back down the mountain toward home, we came to a clearing and saw this view.

 

Up on that rise, we felt warmth and had perspective. Back beneath the fog, we felt the cold and had limited visibility. But beyond what we can feel and see in our valleys—geographical or emotional—a higher elevation rises above us.

 

Whole days can feel like they look: heavy and damp and dark.

 

But. 

 

Looking above the fog, I reminded myself that even when we can’t always get to a higher vantage with our physical bodies, we always can with our hearts and minds. 

 

This photo is for all of us on the days when we’re stuck below—in the fog and in the fray. A reminder that, above what seems oppressive and heavy, there stretches a bright, wide scope of possibility. Until the fog lifts, we can choose to enjoy the lights on the tree and the warmth of the wood stove. And maybe a bit of peppermint schnapps in our cocoa. 

 

Gratitude and joy to you,

 

Anna

Online Classes with Bobbi Baldwin

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
Bobbi Baldwin is an artist living in California. She has taught a few classes at the museum in the past and has been Zooming classes for her own students. We are fortunate in having her teach some special classes just for us. In Bobbi’s words: “As a teacher, I must first see my students as individuals and second as a budding artist. Each person I encounter comes to the easel with a different set of learning skills and life lessons. It is my intent to give wings to my students feather by feather. I once heard that the measure of a good teacher is only through the students who surpass them. I look forward to seeing my students inspire the world with their own work.” This is a series of six classes. You can sign up for one or all. Each class is $25 for members and $30 for non-members AND she will make the class recording available for download for $20 so you can watch it over and over on your own time. The classes are two hours long on certain Fridays in November, December, and January from 10:00am until Noon. The class will consist of a 1.5-hour lecture and demonstration and then discussing your own work. You can use your favorite medium.
We hope to “see” you in class. We know you will enjoy your experience. Take care, Hyla Executive Director
Grants Pass Museum of Art | 229 SW G Street, Grants Pass, OR 97526

Not What I Expected

Once upon a pre-pandemic time, I heard a famous writer say that when she looked back at her life, nothing had turned out the way she’d thought—and that was good. She said she could summarize what she’d learned about life with this simple statement: Not What I Expected.

I think that would make a great T-shirt. 

 

This year certainly racked up more than its fair share of unexpected things—good and bad. I was scanning the calendar all the way back to the maskless days when I realized that so many big things I’d anticipated got cancelled, and yet even better things—things I could not have fathomed—happened in their stead.

 

Exhibit A: This spring, I was going to help lead a workshop in Paris and then begin my poetry book tour there afterward—continuing the tour in New York and San Francisco. It was kinda career-pinnacling stuff. And then, a matter of weeks before departure, the world shut down. But guess what? The day the workshop would have started, my now-husband proposed to me. And as grand as Paris is, if I never return to the world’s most romantic city, I feel no lack; I have actual romance now! 

 

Exhibit B: I had been invited to give a poetry reading and teach workshops at a college writing conference in Wyoming this fall. One of those all-expenses-paid gigs poets dream of. The event managed to stay on the books all through the summer, but then…it was finally cancelled. The plan had been to drive out there with my husband, teach, and then take our delayed honeymoon road trip from there. We wouldn’t have had as much time to see the national parks and monuments we hoped to visit, but we were going to make the best of it. When the conference was cancelled, we were able to take the entire time together—time that became so precious and relationship-building, I am quite glad we did not have to give up a minute of it. 

 

Exhibit C: Any moment now, I would have been boarding a plane to Sweden and then on to Latvia for a month-long writing residency. I would have spent all of November writing in a little seaside village. You guessed it: cancelled. But you know what? I’d almost forgotten that was going to happen. My life has taken such a different turn that many of the things I once wanted fiercely now seem like brief apparitions—like glimpsed prisms of light that all but fade by the time you focus on them. 

 

I have no idea what November will bring instead of Latvia. (And I’m not talking about elections or anything else one might expect.) I’m actually glad to have no idea what specific goodness is on its way—I just know that something is. It always is; Goodness & Mercy are always at our heels. Maybe we just have to stop now and then, turn around, and acknowledge them. Something tells me those two are all the more thrilled to come closer with their surprising gifts when we’re grateful for them. Even when they deliver stuff we never ordered. 

 

Speaking of ordering, I’m seriously thinking about making that T-shirt. I haven’t figured out what the back would say, but I might borrow a line from another famous Creator:

 

“And it was good.”