Lady Liberty Talks about the Wall and other happenings

Lady Liberty has her say about The Wall: Mitch Albom

“You know, for centuries, I’ve been the image of our nation’s borders. You thought of coming here? You thought of me.”


I went to visit the Statue of Liberty. I missed the last boat back. As I gazed at the American shoreline, I heard a voice.

“So, what do you think?”

I turned. Lady Liberty was talking to me.

“I think I’m hallucinating,” I said.

“Don’t be shy. I don’t often get to speak. It’s hard to talk with people crawling up your robe.”

“Well …” I said. “What’s on your mind?”

“What do you think? About the symbol?”

“You? I think you’re amazing. Inspiring. Incred–”

“Not me. The new symbol. The Wall.”


Lady Liberty sighed. “You know, for more than a century, I’ve been the image of our nation’s borders. You thought of coming here? You thought of me.

“But now? Now when people around the world think of America, they’re going to picture a wall — a really long, ugly wall.”

She shook her crown. “It won’t even be green.”

“No, no,” I insisted. “We’re much more than that. We’re a huge nation. Rich. Diverse.”

“So is China,” she said. “But what’s the first structure you think of with that country?”

She had me there.

“What’s the purpose of this wall?” she asked.

“To keep people out.”

“Hmm.” She pointed her torch down to her base.

“See those?”

“Your really big feet?”

“No. The broken chains I’m stepping out of. They stand for freedom from oppression. Aren’t people coming here seeking freedom from oppression?”

“Some,” I said. “Some just want jobs.”

“So they’re poor?”

“Many of them, yes.”

“See that?” She pointed down with her tablet.

“Your toenails?”

“Lower. On the base. The sonnet. Read it.”

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

“Pretty good, huh?” she said.

“Pretty good,” I replied.

“I’ll bet The Wall doesn’t have a golden door.”

She had me there.

“It’s complicated,” I tried to explain. “Back when you were built, people came to follow their dreams.”

“Aren’t today’s immigrants doing that?”

“But they’re not going through proper channels.”

“How long do proper channels take?”

“Depends on the country. In some cases, 20 years.”

“Hmm.” She looked off to Ellis Island. “Did your family come through there?”

“Yes. Early last century.”

“Did they have to wait 20 years?”


“Maybe the laws need more fixing than the borders.”

She stared at me. I think she raised an eyebrow.

“Some illegal immigrants commit crimes,” I said.

“More than citizens commit crimes?”

“Actually,” I mumbled, “most data show it’s less.”

“Hmm,” she said. She had a way of saying that.


“And when these ‘illegals’ come, do they work?”

“Yes. They work so cheap. They take our jobs.”

“Who’s hiring them?”

“Factories. Small business. Households.”

“Are you punishing the employers? Are you building a wall around the factories?”

“Don’t be silly,” I said.

“Hmm,” she said.

She adjusted her crown, with its seven spikes to symbolize seven seas and continents. “Do you know my original name? It was ‘Liberty Enlightening the World.’ ”

She looked south. “Will they say that about a wall?”

“The big fight now is who’s gonna pay for it.”

“I was paid for by foreigners.”

“Hey. That’s exactly what our president wants!”

“I was a gift.”

“Oh, yeah.”

The sun began to rise. “Well, bon voyage,” Lady Liberty said, lifting her arm. “I must get back to work.”

“Work?” I said. “But you’re a statue.”

“No,” she said, sternly, “I’m a symbol. I stand for something. And you know what? Standing for something, every day and night, is really hard work.”

“Hmm,” I said. And I thought I saw her smile.

Mitch Albom is a columnist for the Detroit Free Press, where this column first appeared. Follow him on Twitter @MitchAlbom.




Artist Captures Striking Portraits Of Refugee Children Trump Would Turn Away

Children make up more than half of the world’s refugee population.

President Donald Trump has painted refugees as “bad dudes” with “bad intentions.” In reality, they are largely women, children and families fleeing desperate situations in their home countries.

A new exhibit, titled “Refuge,” brings this juxtaposition to light by showcasing the refugee children who stand to lose the most from Trump’s policies.

Visual artist Claire Salvo conceptualized the project last fall as a way to de-politicize the conversation around refugee resettlement. In particular, she wanted to highlight the fact that more than half of the world’s refugees are children, and many of them have only known life inside a refugee camp.

Ashe, an eleven year old refugee from Somalia, now living in Lancaster with her family.

“I wanted to remove the political aspect and just make it human,” Salvo told The Huffington Post. “There’s something about kids everyone can relate to. Everyone can agree it’s not a child’s choice ― it’s no one’s choice ― to be a refugee. They have no say in the matter.”

Salvo worked with her local branch of Church World Service, a refugee aid organization, to locate families that would be interested in participating. In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where the artist lives, it wasn’t hard.

Lancaster is known for being “America’s refugee capital.” The city takes in roughly 20 times more refugees per capita than any other city in the U.S. In 2016, Church World Service Lancaster helped resettle more than 400 refugees, nearly half of whom were children under the age of 18.

“These are the people that President Trump wants to close our doors to. They are some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” Stephanie Gromek, community resource coordinator for Church World Service Lancaster, told HuffPost.

The organization connected Salvo with three families who expressed interest in participating, and the artist spent the last few months photographing, interviewing and sketching fifteen children from the families. Salvo shot the photographs on an iPhone and did the drawings with charcoal. She’ll be auctioning the pieces off starting in May, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated back to the participating families, the artist said.

All three of the families arrived in the U.S. speaking only their native language and “with little more than clothes on their back,” said Gromek.

One was a Muslim family from Somalia ― one of the banned countries included on Trump’s initial refugee order ― who just arrived in the U.S. in December. The other two families are related and living under one roof. They hail from Ethiopia and are members of the Anuak tribe, a persecuted ethnic minority.

The process of resettlement is an arduous one. Refugees recommended for resettlement in the U.S. by the U.N. undergo a stringent, two-year long vetting process that includes various security and medical clearances as well as cultural orientation.

Once they’re cleared for the journey, refugees have their tickets and travel booked through the International Organization for Migration on loan with no interest charged.

“It’s their first line of credit once they get into the U.S., and they’re expected to pay that travel loan back,” Gromek said. “It’s a way for them to establish themselves with credit.”

But Gromek added it can take years for refugees to pay back the loan, especially if they have a large family.

“Refugees are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met,” Salvo said. “Many are supporting families of upwards of ten people on minimum wage, but they’re just so grateful to be here.”

During her interviews with the families, Salvo said she asked them: “What’s your greatest hope for life in America.” The language barrier made it difficult for her to get across the broader scope of the question, Salvo said. But one of the mothers, named Faduma, was able to communicate that what she wanted most was a washer and dryer.

One day, Salvo was leaving her house when she saw that a neighbor had left a washer out on the curb. The photographer said she called a friend to help her lift the washer into her car, and she drove it down to the CWS office with a note that it was for Faduma.

“The things many refugees want are so basic,” Salvo said, “and they’re things we take for granted, like not having to walk a mile to laundromat.”

Refugee children have their own basic tasks to attend to once they arrive in the U.S., Gromek said. These include learning English, getting various immunizations and enrolling in school. Within a month, most refugee children have started their classes and are on their way to becoming everyday American kids.

“Children are resilient in their own right, and refugee children are even more so I believe because they’ve been through so much,” Gromek told HuffPost. “They end up thriving.”


Like Many Americans, A Judge On The Court Weighing Trump’s Refugee Ban Was A Refugee

Judge Alex Kozinski’s family fled communism when he was a child.

Judge Alex Kozinski isn’t assigned to the three-judge panel considering a federal court’s halt of the travel ban.

LOS ANGELES ― A federal judge who sits on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is set to rule on a block of President Donald Trump’s refugee ban, came to the United States as a refugee when he was a boy.

Alex Kozinski, one of the most well-respected judges on the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco, fled with his parents, Moses and Sabine, from communist Romania in 1962. Kozinski has spoken publicly about his immigration experience for years, even joking that he went from being a committed communist as a boy to an “instant capitalist” after his first trip outside of the Iron Curtain to Vienna ― on his way to the United States ― where he was introduced to “bubble gum, chocolate and bananas.

Alex with his father, Moses, and his mother, Sabine, about a year before the Kozinskis left Romania.

But his journey came full circle on Monday when HIAS ― a refugee agency that has been assisting Jews and others fleeing persecution since 1881 ― filed a legal brief with the 9th Circuit in strong opposition to Trump’s travel ban. HIAS was the same group that helped to resettle the Kozinski family, eventually helping them get all the way to the United States.

Until contacted by The Huffington Post, HIAS officials were unaware that one of the children it helped decades ago was now serving on the court to which it was appealing.

Officials at HIAS searched their records and found official documentation of arrival for the Kozinski family. HIAS provided it to The Huffington Post, and it is printed here with the permission of Judge Kozinski.

The Kozinski family arrived in Baltimore in late October 1962. Alex was just 12, Moses was 47 and Sabine 43.


“[HIAS] was very generous and kind to us in all respects,” Kozinski told The Huffington Post of his journey to America. Kozinski recalled that the paperwork, all arranged and prepared by HIAS, was completed in Vienna around 1962. The agency then supported the Kozinskis while Moses and Sabine sought employment.

“Then we came to the U.S. on a Sabena four-propeller airliner ― it took about 18 hours to cross the Atlantic, with one stop somewhere in Newfoundland,” Kozinski said. The Kozinskis landed in New York, where they passed through customs, like so many immigrants before them and after them. They briefly settled in Baltimore, where HIAS continued to support the family until Moses and Sabine found steady work.

“Our caseworker was named Mrs. Friedman,” Kozinski said. “I remember her quite well. She smoked Parliaments.”

After about five years in Baltimore, the Kozinskis moved to California in search of warmer weather. They’d settle in the Los Angeles area, where Moses would open a grocery store and Alex would eventually graduate from UCLA’s law school. After several years of private practice and then clerking for Supreme Court Justices Warren Burger and Anthony Kennedy (while Kennedy was appointed to the 9th Circuit), President Ronald Reagan appointed Kozinski first to U.S. Claims Court and then, in 1985, to the 9th Circuit.

That HIAS helped Kozinski’s family escape totalitarianism doesn’t disqualify him from ruling on the case. “They’re an amicus, not a party, and any association I had with them ended half a century ago,” Kozinski said. (Indeed, judges routinely rule on cases that involve organizations they previously had involvement with. But Kozinski isn’t assigned to the 9th Circuit motions panel of three judges who will hear the case. The panel consists of William C. Canby Jr., Michelle Friedland and Richard Clifton. As the case progresses, the court may grant a hearing before an 11-judge panel.)

Along the way, Kozinski may or may not get to express his views on the ultimate legality of Trump’s travel ban. But even if he doesn’t, the judge has already given the public a taste of how he feels about the federal government’s power over immigration ― and how it can have a profound effect no matter who is in power.

“We may soon find ourselves with new conflicts between the President and the states,” Kozinski wrote last week in an impassioned dissent to an order by the full 9th Circuit declining to hear a challenge by the state of Arizona to President Barack Obama’s policy aimed at helping young undocumented immigrants. His colleagues had declined to take up the case again, leaving in place a ruling that more or less forces Arizona to grant driver’s licenses to those covered by the policy.

But that result, under the Constitution, left Kozinski uneasy ― perhaps because of who is now the nation’s chief executive.

“Executive power favors the party, or perhaps simply the person, who wields it,” Kozinski warned his own court. “That power is the forbidden fruit of our politics, irresistible to those who possess it and reviled by those who don’t. Clear and stable structural rules are the bulwark against that power, which shifts with the sudden vagaries of our politics. In its haste to find a doctrine that can protect the policies of the present, our circuit should remember the old warning: May all your dreams come true.”

Moses Kozinski and his son, Alex, at age 10.

Trump’s controversial executive order temporarily bans all refugees and indefinitely bars Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. The order also suspends travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The policy, which covers 200 million people, sparked chaos and protests at many U.S. airports last week as travelers from the targeted countries were detained and lawyers were denied access to the detainees.

The order was soon challenged in court by multiple states. On Friday, a nationwide restraining order was issued by U.S. District Judge James Robart, who ruled that the order was likely to cause immediate and irreparable harm to the states of Washington and Minnesota to education, business, family relations and the freedom to travel. Over the weekend, the Justice Department filed an appeal to immediately restore the ban, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit denied that request. The appeals court is now preparing to hear full arguments in the case.

On Monday, HIAS filed in support of the stay of the executive order. HIAS argued that Trump’s executive order has “fractured many refugee families” and “risks the lives of many who relied on the promises of the United States when they received their visas.” The order, HIAS argues, closes the door to avoiding “immense dangers” they currently face in their home countries.

Trump has made a habit of smearing the judicial system and specifically attacking judges who challenge his authority or who issue rulings that unravel his plans. Over the weekend Trump blasted U.S. District Judge James Robart after he issued a temporary restraining order in Seattle last week, blocking Trump’s immigration order for the time being.

Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!

As a candidate, Trump also attacked Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge who presided over lawsuits against Trump University. Trump accused the judge of an “absolute conflict” in the case because of the judge’s Mexican heritage. He repeatedly referred to Curiel as “Mexican” and said he couldn’t be an impartial judge because of Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the Mexican border. Curiel is a U.S. citizen, born in Indiana.

Kozinski is American, too.

Moses Kozinski at his store in Hollywood in 1971. His son went to UCLA and became a lawyer, then a judge.

CORRECTION: This article previously suggested that Kozinski was the only former refugee on the 9th Circuit. Judge Jacqueline Nguyen is also a former refugee.


Harvard Law Prof: Trump’s Handling of Immigration Order Could be Grounds for Impeachment

The Resistance Continues, but only so long as we do.  One good resource is the Women’s March Movement on Facebook (another march is reportedly being planned); and I, of course, will continue the fight here as best I can.



Legos and Flowers

Frederick Law Olmsted was known as the father of American Landscape Architecture.  He completed over 500 landscape architecture projects during his lifetime, starting with  Central Park in New York City and finishing with the design for Biltmore Estate, here in Asheville, NC.


He is honored in Landscape Architecture circles and his design philosophy — that landscape architecture should include design elements that promote aesthetics, economics, environment and social needs — are at the heart of the North Carolina Arboretum, where Amy & I spent a lovely day.


His influence is so great, that the Arboretum commissioned a statue of him:


Frederick Law Olmsted. 8ft Bronze – Statue by Zenos Frudakis 2016 Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio



Frederick Law Olmsted. 8ft Bronze – Statue by Zenos Frudakis 2016 – full view Photograph and Copyright by Barbara Mattio


Also at the Arboretum this weekend — and for the rest of September and into October — is an exhibit of flower- and nature-based Lego sculptures, magnificent in both scale and execution.  I was so taken by their complexity and beauty, that I felt I had to share them with you, with some photos of some of the flowers they emulate.


I hope you enjoy them.


Sundial in Legos

Sundial in Legos Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio



Train in the gardens. It is an O gauge. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio,2016

Train in the gardens. It is an O gauge. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio,2016




O gauge train. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

O gauge train. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016


Two O gauge trains. Photography and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

Two O gauge trains. Photography and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016



O gauge train. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

O gauge train. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016




O gauge train photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016

O gauge train photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio, 2016




Lego Woodpecker Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio


Giant White Lily Lego Sculpture (approx. 6 feet in length)

Giant White Lily Lego Sculpture (approx. 6 feet in length) Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio


Life-Size Lego Rototiller

Life-Size Lego Rototiller Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio


Purple Orchid (this one is real!)

Purple Orchid (this one is real!) Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio


Lego Purple Orchid

Lego Purple Orchid Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio


Real Monarch Butterfly on Flower

Real Monarch Butterfly on Flower Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio


Lego Monarch Butterfly on Flower

Lego Monarch Butterfly on Flower Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio


Lego Hummingbird Drinking from Flower Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio

Lego Hummingbird Drinking from Flower Photograph and Copyright Barbara Mattio



Lego duck family. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio,2016

Lego duck family. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio,2016

A trip through the mountains to Art

Yesterday we drove to SC to visit friends and the Greenville Museum of Art and the History Museum  It was a beautiful warm day and we had a lot of fun. The Art Museum allow photographs so I got a few of those also.

I hope you enjoy the journey.  The art phot0graphs were taken with my phone camera not my regular camera.

Neil Diamond, Sweet Caroline, is dedicated to my late husband. RIP


This was from the trip down to Greeneville. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

This was from the trip down to Greenville. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016




White Crepe Myrtle Photograph and Copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

White Crepe Myrtle
Photograph and Copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016


fluffy breezy clouds Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

Fluffy breezy clouds
Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 201




Purple crepe myrtle photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

Purple crepe myrtle
photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016




Lovely landscape Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

Lovely landscape
Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016




side of mountain Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

Side of mountain
Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016




Art by Jasper Jphns Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

Art by Jasper Johns
Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016





Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016




Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016





Art work by Yoko Ono. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

Art work by Yoko Ono. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016





Sculpture. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

Sculpture. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016




Sun getting lower in the sky and early evening arrives. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Matttio 2016

Sun getting lower in the sky and early evening arrives. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Matttio 2016



I love watching the clouds float across the blue skies. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016

I love watching the clouds float across the blue skies. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2016





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Divine Love



“Wherever I go, thou art my companion.

Having taken me by the hand thou moves me.

I go alone depending solidly on thee.

Thou bearest too my burdens.

If I am likely to say anything foolish, thou makest it right.

Thou hast removed my bashfulness and madest me self-confident.

O Lord, all the people have become my guards, relatives and bosom friends.

Tuka says, I now conduct myself without any care.

I have attained divine peace within and without.”

—Book of Prayers, M. K. Gandhi


What makes up Divine Love

What makes up Divine Love


“All things in creation and manifestation, even all things in existence, are held together by Ishk. This is Divine Love. It is difficult to express it in such a limited way, but we know that sunlight contains electricity, magnetism and numerous other forces or aspects of cosmic force.”

—From Spiritual Brotherhood, Samuel Lewis


“Gravitation, light, attraction, adhesion, and cohesion are all aspects of this Divine Love in the physical world. But even these aspects extend far into the unseen, and it cannot be said that Divine Love is limited or qualified by its mental aspects and characteristics…Behind all mysteries, behind all activity and behind all life is Love or Agape or Karuna which holds all things and persons together, which creates the beauty and harmony of this cosmos.”

—Samuel Lewis



“I desire you

more than food

or drink


My body

my senses

my mind

hunger for your taste


I can sense your presence

in my heart

although belong to all the world


I wait

with silent passion

for one gesture

one glance

from you. ”

—Rumi, The Love Poems of Rumi



Open up your heart

Open up your heart


“In your light I learn how to love.

In your beauty, how to make poems.


You dance inside my chest,

where no one sees you,


but sometimes I do, and that

sight becomes this art.”

—-The words of Rumi



You are a child of the Universe. Get out there and shine.

You are a child of the Universe. Get out there and shine.


“Love is the greatest component of life. It unifies everything. It attracts and draws to us all that is good. Through love we become more aware and responsive to the needs of humanity. We see the oneness, commonality, and the spark of God in each person. We can begin with our family, friends, and coworkers. We can love them even if we think they have done something wrong. We can be there for them, with compassion, kindness, gentleness and acceptance. That is how we demonstrate our human love.”

—James Van Praagh


Divine Love is everywhere.

Divine Love is everywhere.

A Journey of Creation

It’s been a rough week.  Volcanos, earthquakes, riots.  It makes people forget the beauty in the world, and the importance of creating beauty.

I found this talk, by Sabina Ulubeanu, a music composer, and Co-Artistic Director of InnerSound New Arts Festival in Romania, on the TED Talks channel on YouTube and wanted to share it with you, my loyal readers.

Sometimes, when things seem the worst, we need to remember that there is still beauty in the world, and that the creation of beauty in all its forms — music, art, poetry, prose and, yes, science — is the most important work of all.

An Artist and A Feminist

This Young Woman Walked Through Kabul Wearing Metal Armor To Protest Street Harassment

Artist-activist Kubra Khademi took to Kabul’s streets in a metal jacket in a defiant protest against sexual harassment.

Unlock Your Creativity

There is a new art medium that helps artists to focus and to get into the zone. It is a way of combining meditation and creativity together and it opens you up to increase your artistic flow.

“Keep creating and it will change your life.” —Beckah Krahula

This medium is called Zentangle and it totally combines your creativity and your meditation. There are not a lot of supplies needed. The process of creating a Zentangle teaches us to become comfortable letting your instincts out and following them where they would lead you. It also teaches you to see your work from every angle. You learn to acknowledge all the possibilities in your work. Not having a planned goal can take the stiffness or rigidness out of your art. Once you begin to tangle, you can just let go.

They say to do small projects. They call them tiles and they should not be any bigger than a tile. The official and real Zentangles are the size of a ceramic tiles. These are the rules, but since I don’t do well with rules, I do small ones and large ones. Whatever I feel like doing.

Tiepolo tiles are the official and original Zentangle tiles. You can tell if they are real because there is a red block on the back of the tile with a Zentangle inside of it. It is also recommended that you use a heavy paper. Many artists use a black tile for the contrast it provides.They also recommend a sketch book to practice every day. I like doing mine in a sketch book. Tangles can also be used in sketches to increase the beauty of the scene.

Because this is a meditative art form it is good to practice it every day. Many artists will do a Zentangle to sort of warm up. To get into the right place and let the creative energy just flow out. Then you can go on to your regular medium completely focused and ready to just let go. Some people use tangles as a form of self-expression or to unwind at the end of a stressful day.

I have found that I like to do them to prepare for working on a painting and simply as a meditative exercise. It calms and de-stresses. The sheer fun of just moving your arm on the paper and freely allowing your emotions to come to the surface is therapeutic.

I find that this form of art leads to inner peace, compassion and a positive outlook. What a wonderful way to change the structure of your day. And I can still meditate and I can feel love and joy just radiate from my soul.

Allow your creativity to lead you farther and farther down the path of your life’s journey. I bet you will see a person smiling at you from the mirror more often.

Zentangle by Barbara Mattio

Zentangle by Barbara Mattio

Namaste and happy tangling.

Zentangle by Barbara Mattio. Copyrighted 2014

Zentangle by Barbara Mattio. Copyrighted 2014

The Art of…

I would like to propose the idea that thinking is an art. It is an art in the same way as is writing, photography, textile making, composing a song, painting, drawing, playing a piano or any other medium.It is a purposeful activity over which we exercise some control. Control is the key word. Thinking is not always conscious. The evidence that the unconscious mind can join in purposeful mental activity is overwhelming. For example: when you come up with the perfect answer just when you stop working on the problem. Your conscious mind turns to other matters and yet you receive the answer.


Thinking is any mental activity that helps formulate or solve a problem, make a decision, or fulfill a desire to understand. It is searching for answers, and finding meaning.


I believe, as do others, that our schools don’t teach our children how to perform the art of thinking. Thinking and not just experience a reflux of information is very different. With so much emphasis on testing, our children know facts and yet can not think through the facts to make good decisions for their own lives and for others. Without the actual thinking, it is easier for governments and religions to just move us along on the path they want us to take. The one that best serves their agenda.


Thinking in terms of tradition, often there is a basis for accomplishing certain activities. It is always a good thing to learn from the past. But there must be a balance between traditional activities and thinking about a better action or answer. Factual knowledge does not always guarantee success in solving a problem.


I am sharing this poem not because it is emotional, or better than any I have read here on WordPress. It does teach a lesson and I am sure that each of us will come up with parallel situations.


“One day through the primeval wood

A calf walked home as good calves should;

But made a trail all bent askew,

A crooked trail as all calves do.


Since then three hundred years have fled,

And I infer the calf”s dead.

But still he left behind his trail,

And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day

By a lone dog that passed that way,

And then a wise bellwether sheep

Pursued the trail o’ver hill and glade

Through those old woods a path was made.


And many men wound in and out

And dodged and dodged and bent about

And uttered words of righteous wrath

Because t’was such a crooked path;

But still they followed—but do not laugh—

The first migrations of that calf,

And through this winding woodway stalked

Because he wobbled when he walked.


This forest path became a lane

That bent and turned and turned again;

This crooked lane became a road,

Where many a poor horse with his load

Toiled on beneath the burning sun,

And traveled some three miles in one.

And thus a century and a half

They trod the footsteps of that calf.


The years passed on in swiftness fleet,

The road became a village street;

And thus, before men were aware,

A city’s crowded thoroughfare.

And soon the central street was this

Of a renowned metropolis;

And men two centuries and a half

Trod in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout

Followed this zigzag calf about

And o’er his crooked journey went

The traffic of a continent.


One hundred thousand men were led

By one calf near three centuries dead.

They followed one hundred years a day;

For thus such reverence is lent

To well-established precedent.”

—Sam Walter Foss


Sometimes, tradition is nothing more than “well established” precedent. Sometimes the best answers are found within our subconscious; when we develop the art of thinking.







The Thinking Man, Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, Ohio

The Thinking Man, Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, Ohio

Opting to Matter

Deciding to matter is something that most creative people need to decide to have in their lives. It isn’t a cosmic expectation but it really is a conscious decision. If you are brooding about meaning, you need to change your perspective.


We must accept that as artists we have egos, drives, desires, dreams, talents, a brain, a heart, and a complete human interior that makes potent demands on us. This humanness should be respected and accepted.


Life gives us information and it is up to us how we will process the information. Come to your own conclusions about what life means to you and how you should act. We are the only arbiter of meaning.


We can only understand ourselves and other humans can not because they can’t be objective. We need to consider our biology and psychology. We can figure ourselves out by observing ourselves objectively. This can be a huge endeavor.


We need to live a righteous life, according to the sense of ethics we have developed. We are our own moral compass.


We need to find a  way to tap the energy needed to accomplish these goals.We must generate our own energy. We need to activate  our passion, our enthusiasm, and tap into our creativity.


We must live in the present moment. Let go of the past as it is gone and we can not effect it anymore. Do not spend all of your time focusing on the future. The future will never arrive and if it did, it would be the present. Your inspirations for your art are available in the present.


If we decide to opt to matter, we may have to tap into our courage and bravery. Accept that you may have to show heroism. Virtually no creative person reaches these high ideals. Most get mired in the first steps of opting to matter. We may have been born creative, but we have to choose to be good. Don’t fall into the pit of lording it over other creative souls. The gift of creativity does not mean that we can do whatever we please. This is where responsibility comes in. The creative person is subject to the same moral directives as the rest of humankind is. We may need to heal ourselves before we can use our talents to the highest level.


Creative people need to have a mantra and I suggest this one. Healing and transformation will make us into a person who can manage meaning effectively. ” This is who we are and this is what I choose to become.”  Follow this and you will develop a true passion for life. This passion will fuel your passion for creativity and enhance your art no matter what medium you choose to work in.






Allow yourself to shine.

Allow yourself to shine.



Sepia wine and cheese photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Sepia wine and cheese photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014