K’s big birthday gratitude project

I have a hunch that giving thanks, expressing my deep gratitude – for anything and everything, for anyone and everyone – is the ideal way to heal, to be whole.

all images by Kate Kennington Steer

Not a jumble-sale rummage,

elbows out, frantically carving one’s niche

amongst the pot-luck, wholesale 

throwing-out expense of energy;

smaller than that.

One step equals one unnoticed act,

equals one creation, one gift,

one intention, one thought,

one prayer, one relinquishing,

one blessing of releasing

burden or bounty: all that holds

back, weighs heavy – the deadwood hollowed

beyond being useful as a JoySpark,

a welcome pack, a conduit to praising

Maker, Giver, Grower.  Slowly.  Slowly,

silently, space emerges

from thanksgiving’s awareness, seeking

a right-full home.  Here, or there – 

now, or then – dropped rocks ripple,

pebblesplash eases out widdishins-wise,

a quiet deceleration, a caressed loss of momentum,

yet with energy sufficient, still, to reach

as a tap on a shoulder,

a turning:

a placing in open hands

of a single, unique shaving of abundance;

never nullifying, only magnifying,

never lessening, only multiplying …

‘pare’

Kate Kennington Steer

18.4.22 

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.

John Milton

It doesn’t have to be

the blue iris, it could be 

weeds in a vacant lot, or a few 

small stones; just

pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate, this isn’t 

a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which 

another voice may speak.

‘Praying’

Mary Oliver

 

Where to start saying how grateful I am for the existence of the charity Creative Response (Arts)?  Since 2010 the arts workers and leaders have provided a safe harbour for me to grow my own wellbeing; they have provided a vibrant community of participants from all walks of life, and with all sorts of diagnoses, physical and mental, for me to meet, mingle and befriend; they have taught me new skills; they have shared their knowledge so generously; they have – above all – encouraged me into believing I am an artist, I am a poet, I am a printmaker, I am a photographer, I am a creative working across a variety of media, and it is ok not to be a specialist!  

As I wrote in August 2016:

Creative Response is my lifeline.  I have had M.E. for over 25 years and am a wheelchair user, and it is often difficult for me to get out and about, to see many people, or to practice my creativity in the way I would like.  I also struggle with clinical depression.  Over several years now, CR has given me an outlet to play with different art media (I am at my happiest when my hands are messy!) and a chance to have some regular social contact .  The CR sessions remind me of who I am – as a whole person as well as an artist – even if there are weeks when I am not well enough to participate.  The various practitioners who facilitate the sessions have been superb in their encouragement to ‘just try and see’, ‘just have a go’.  They could not have been kinder in dealing with my condition and their generosity in sharing their expertise never fails to astonish me.

This all remains true in 2022!  CR gives me the confidence to say: I am a writer, a contemplative photographer, and a visual artist who cannot stop creating … and this is still who I am when I have ‘nothing to show for myself, when I have not ‘produced’ anything – let alone ‘made art’ – for months.  CR helps me remember that I am a ‘creative’ even if I have been bed-bound for weeks, or am so exhausted I can barely sit up for 30 minutes, or if I cannot find the energy to make a line on a piece of paper, or I am rendered temporarily mute by seizures, unable utter a coherent thought and remember it long enough to write it down. 

So this is why, for the month of May 2022, as I celebrate my 50th birthday, I am launching a fundraising campaign for Creative Response.  I know that there are many people in the UK (and elsewhere) for whom money is becoming increasingly tight at the moment, and believe me, I get how hard it is to keep giving financially in the face of alarming energy bills, or being in dire straits when a car fails and a computer crashes.  But …. personally, I believe the extremely small amounts of money I give to a few select charities does help me remember I am connected to others.  Small acts of financial giving helps me grow my ‘compassion muscle’, which withers quickly in the face of being housebound for a while, or when depression’s isolating grip is deep and strong.  It is at those times when giving away money becomes one of the very few life-decisions I can control, because I feel I have no other way to give – or nothing to give – to others.  Thanks to the care and support CR gives me, moments like those are getting more infrequent.

If you can, (and only if you can, this is not a guilt trip!) please give £5 (or more, but even £5 will buy a tub of acrylic paint or a couple of bits of lino or two paint brushes or a pack of pencils; or £5 helps pay for an arts therapy worker to sit with one who struggle physically or mentally and facilitate their innate creativity to ease and express their pains and their joys).

Here is the link to ‘K’s gratitude project’ via Paypal (you also have the option to pay via credit card via this same link):

go to https://creativeresponsearts.org

and click the DONATE button

I write this with so many thanks, in advance, for your generosity.  I know many of you who cannot give financially will give your thoughts and prayers to this project. Those thoughts and prayers are also incredibly precious.  They strengthen the connections between us, expressing our common humanity.  They declare the need for art to speak truth, to speak peace as well as justice, and the need for all art to teach us how to be present to what is before each of us now, to see that we are not alone in feeling alone, to give us space so we can be grateful, and prompt us to turn that contemplative moment of thanksgiving into an active moment of help for the person next to us.  It is possible to grow hope, to grow love, to grow community; despair never needs to have the last word when it can be healed by a scribble, a blob of paint, a pile of clay, a pot of earth, a jumble of wool, a rip of fabric, a pin-hole camera and a safe space to play.

Attention is that doorway to gratitude, the doorway to wonder, the doorway to reciprocity.

from The Art of Noticing, Rob Walker

It doesn’t have to be

the blue iris, it could be 

weeds in a vacant lot, or a few 

small stones; just

pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate, this isn’t 

a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which 

another voice may speak.

‘Praying’

Mary Oliver

It is possible to grow hope, to grow love, to grow community; despair never needs to have the last word. 

Published by Kate Kennington Steer

writer, photographer and visual artist

2 thoughts on “K’s big birthday gratitude project

  1. Inspiring message. I am inspired by your posts. I am left richer, lighter, and filled with hope. Abigail

    Like

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