Art, Gratitude & Living Well

At the céilidh!


Voltaire once said that, “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”  This was my thought as I headed out to a céilidh, a traditional Gaelic social gathering, this past weekend.  What a party! I felt I was in Scotland with all the music of bagpipes, fiddles, harps, accordions and Gaelic choirs.

“Living well” is one of those nebulous concepts that is difficult to quantify, much less experience to the fullest extent.  It is something that we must define for ourselves before we can know the reality of the promise.  We know the possibility exists, but does it exist for us?

At our table, a man was celebrating his 87th birthday.   When asked if he would give his age, he replied:  “I don’t mind giving my age; I’m just glad that I made it this far.” And that is when it occurred to me that time was fundamental in fashioning a meaningful existence. Living well is giving worth to our time.  We live in a finite existence; no amount of effort will generate an extra hour.  Even second is an opportunity.

We owe gratitude to those who choose to follow an artist’s calling, many of whom have little assurance that their chosen vocation will generate a monetary reward.  The céilidh came into being because musicians and singers allocated years to their creative endeavours.  So it is with other artists, who define their “living well” by what they produce, whether a painting, a poem, a musical score.    Our lives are enriched, when we use our time to listen, to support and participate.  This too, is living well.

By the way, I’m thinking of taking up the harp….


Happy Birthday, Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Battle of Trafalgar

Happy Birthday, Joseph Mallord William Turner (April 23, 1775 – December 19, 1851)

A controversial artist during his time, J.M.W. Turner was ridiculed by his critics. Nevertheless, he became known as the person who championed landscape painting. He gave the world 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, and 30,000 paper works.

The critics have been silenced!

For more information check out the Tate Gallery in London.



World Art Day – April 15, 2014

The Lady


Today is World Art Day, a global celebration of the fine arts.  It is a reminder to be aware of the creative spirit that spans our world. So what does that actually mean?  How do we live, aware of the art that surrounds us?

Art is much more than a painting on a wall or a marble sculpture.  It is the thought behind the creative expression, the joy that shaped it into being.  It is the words brought to life with a poet’s hand, the ear that hears music before notes have been scribbled on a blank music sheet, the image held in a photographer’s soul the instant he or she captures a sunrise.

Here is my take on art.  It is being present in the ordinary moments.  It is recognizing that art is universal, within our reach, not simply for the privileged or recognized artists.  Art is simply gratitude for being alive.

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language 
And next year’s words await another voice.”
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets


Quotations are ubiquitous.  Communities dedicated to quotations are thriving across social media channels.  Whether the subject matter relates to business, comedy, fashion or philosophy, there is always a suitable quote that adds an aura of legitimacy and authenticity to the discussion.  Winston Churchill, well-known for his candid wit, once said, “It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.”   My thought is that everyone should read a book of quotations for learning is a life-long quest.  You can always be “more” educated.

I love quotes for they connect me to others, past and present.   Over the years, they have influenced, motivated, and challenged me to see the world from someone else’s perspective.  They have been my invitation to enter a two-way dialogue that requires my involvement.  Only then can I fully integrate the knowledge exchange.  Only then can I add my voice to the conversation that continues to flow through the days, years, centuries.

We lead eventful lives.  In our busyness, it is easy to let others speak for us, thinking they have the superior voice. In doing so, we canonize our lives. May we have the courage to join the dialogue, to offer our thoughts along with others as we move forward in our time line.

Footfalls echo in the memory
down the passage we did not take
towards the door we never opened
into the rose garden. My words echo
thus, in your mind”
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

The Art of Integration

The Art of Conversation – Quotation ♦ Zitieren


The Art of Conversation
“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.”
Henry David Thoreau

Blogging engages us in the art of conversation. Every post and comment brings us together in a 24/7 dialogue to share knowledge and experiences. We participate in an international community made possible by technology that overcomes the hurdles of time, location, distance and language.

Over the past decade, the format for communicating has experienced radical transformation, from text messaging abbreviations and photographs to video chats and “likes” and “shares.” We want fast, efficient and in real-time. Whether content transmits the full message is debatable; nevertheless we persist in our quest for rapid connection. Through it all, we seek camaraderie and friendship.

Quotations have become a popular means by which to exchange ideas and emotional sentiments quickly and effortlessly. Over the past few days, I have enjoyed a wonderful conversation with my dear friends, Dina, Klausbernd, Siri and Selma, about this very subject. I share Dina’s and Selma’s enthusiasm for quotes, but understand Klausbernd’s and Siri’s criticism for the indiscriminate use of quotations. I invite you to share in the discussion. Klausbernd played the advocatus diaboli brilliantly, with humour, reflection, and best of all, candour. Dina’s photographs and choice of quotes brought laughter and tears to my eyes. This is the art of conversation at its best…

Originally posted on The World according to Dina:

Hanne Siebers_1Quote-jpg

Siri: “Do you really know what a quote is?
Selma: “A tattoo on the lips.

Siri: “Weißt du, was ein Zitat ist?
Selma: „Klar doch, eine Tätowierung der Lippen.

When I read Rebecca’s celebration of quotes on her marvellous blog ChasingArt I felt the urge to contradict playing the advocatus diaboli. I am surrounded by quote-lovers like Rebecca, Dina, and Selma whereas I am as my dear Bookfayrie Siri are sceptical about using quotes. Too often I came across quotes that everybody has read before or quotes of obscure authors and origin.
Als ich Rebeccas Lob der Zitate auf ihrem hervorragenden Blog ChasingArt las, konnte ich nichts dagegen tun, ich musste widersprechend den advocatus diaboli spielen. Ja, ja, ich Armer bin umzingelt von Zitatenfreaks wie Rebecca, Dina und selbst die liebkluge Selma. Meine treue Buchfee Siri und ich sind jedoch sehr…

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