• Home
  • Posts Tagged'inspiration'

Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Falling in Love with Rodin All over again

 

 

Yes, I am a romantic to the core. Yes, you all know this by now. But I had the pleasure of being in “romantic heaven” on Sunday. Well, actually, it was the British Museum. And while any visit to the British Museum is a little slice of paradise, this particular visit was even more so because it was Rodin and the Art of Ancient Greece.

 

 

 

 

One of my very favourite sculptures ever is Rodin’s The Kiss. And one of my very favourite exhibitions to visit regularly in the British Museum in the Elgin Marbles.

 

 

 

 

Imagine my delight when this special exhibition is an intermingling of the two with the focus on how the Parthenon and a trip to the British Museum influenced all of Rodin’s work.

 

 

 

 

Seeing the art of both set next to each other was a total delight. But best of all, was the wonderful insights into the heart of a creative genius by another creative genius, Rainer Maria Rilke, who was briefly Rodin’s secretary.

 

 

 

 

I guess you could say I was actually a little closer to romantic hell that I was heaven. I Much of Rodin’s work is an extension of his Gates of Hell, which was to be a representation of Dante’s Inferno. (Sadly other than a projection, only this clay representation of that masterpiece was on display. See the link for a better view)

 

 

 

 

For a better view and more details about Rodin’s Gates of Hell check out the Youtube link.

I was fascinated by the darkness that Rodin never shied away from in his work. As a writer, I feel it’s my duty also not to shy away from the darkness, even, maybe most especially, when I really want to.

 

 

 

 

The sculpture was commissioned in 1880 for a museum that was never built. But Rodin was so pulled into the effort, so inspired by it, that he continue to work on it and off until his death in 1917. Many of his most famous sculptures, including The Kiss and The Thinker (who was originally Dante sitting in the tympanum of the sculpture) were inspired by and taken from the Gates of Hell.

 

 

 

 

I was fascinated by the darkness that Rodin never shied away from in his work. As a writer, I feel it’s my duty also not to shy away from the darkness, even, maybe most especially, when I really want to.

 

 

 

 

That got me thinking that perhaps I am inspired by my own gates of hell. Perhaps we all are.

 

 

 

 

The recurring themes of darkness in my stories are, as was Rodin’s Gates of Hell, less about sin and punishment than they are about the human condition, my own condition, the fragmenting of self and the constant reworking of that self. Which raises a question I have often asked myself. Are we inspired by the darkness to seek out the light, or is it only the presence of the darkness that allows us to see the light at all?

 

 

 

Pole Problems, Pleasures, and the Company of Women

 

I’ve been doing pole for almost ten months now, and the photo shoot is fast approaching. While my progress often astounds me, I find, in true KD fashion, that I’m impatient to be better still and I’m never quite satisfied with where I am. What slows me down more than anything is the need for recovery time. At the moment I’m doing two and three classes a week. That’s in addition to gym time and walking like a crazy woman. While I don’t bruise as badly as I used to, there are always new move or combo that will add a whole new dimension to bruises, pole burn and muscle and joint aches.

 

 

 

I have never been good at moderation, and learning pole is no exception. That means in every class, I work flat out, and especially if I have a pole to myself. That means I don’t have the time to rest I would have on a shared pole. Of course when the endorphins kick in and I’m in the zone, I feel no pain. It’s only later when I’m back home and have scarfed my dinner that I realize I might have slightly overdone things … slightly. My body constantly reminds me that I’m not twenty. Hell I’m not even thirty or forty. And I’m constantly in dialogue with it trying to convince it that that eensy little fact doesn’t matter. Those dialogues often happen in a steamy epsom salts bath. I will not use my age as an excuse. But neither will I deny that it sometimes is a pain in my ass. Not

 

 

There’s no doubt that stamina and strength are finite. I have a pole at home now, which is extremely underused, not because I don’t want to practice, but because I’m too busy recovering from the practice I’ve already had. Every day I try to do a of the very basic moves, but sometimes it simply is a bridge too far.

 

 

Because I’m strong, I’m much better at pole moves that require strength. Now that I can get upside down on my own, I love the strength moves and I love the physics involved in holding a move that seems impossible to anyone looking on. However the moves that involve finesse and grace — the spins and combos — I struggle more with. In most cases it’s not because I can’t do them, it’s because when I do they look klunky and awkward.

 

 

Because I’m someone who has spent a good bit of my life yoyo-ing with my weight, I’m very conscious of what the scales say – even more so now that every extra pound is one more I have to drag up the pole and when the very sport itself is changing my body. I’ve kept the weight of for two years now and have developed strong, healthy eating habits. BUT I’m always hungry. Though anyone who has ever battled a weight problem will understand the struggle to decide if it is actual hunger or “head-hunger.” Some things don’t change just because my habits have changed.

 

 

Muscle does, however, weigh more than fat, and muscles tend to engorge after a workout. On average my weight is up maybe two pounds, and it’s almost always up that much the morning after a hard workout. The shape of my body is changing too. I have more muscle definition in my abs and especially in my shoulders and upper back. Bras and shirts are tighter across my back now and long sleeves that hug the upper arms just don’t work for me any more. They are either too short now or to tight in the bicep. Because of all the neuroses I associate with my weight and my body, I am cautious and I weigh every day so that I know my body’s cycles. That way there are no surprises.

 

 

As I see my improvements on pole and look at what I can do more critically, I have to appreciate all the positive changes the last ten months have brought about. I’m more flexible. I’m stronger – for the first time in my life I can do pull-ups unassisted. For me that’s huge. I feel more empowered, more confident in myself that I am learning something so hard and yet so beautiful and amazing. Seeing not only my own progress, but that of my pole sisters continues to be one of the best parts of the journey. Shared photos and encouragement, laughter and gossip and just spending quality time with other women — that is maybe the best part of these last ten months. The company of women is, something I think, many of us don’t get nearly enough of. And when we’re all striving toward being better, stronger, happier, and encouraging each other in the journey, how can it be anything but positive?

 

 

 

Four Days in Zagreb

 

 

I’m just back from a quick, and fabulous, trip to Zagreb. Mr. Grace was there on business, and with a cheap plane ticket, I was able to tag along. Just so you know, I never miss a chance to go to Croatia these days – especially Zagreb, which was my home for four years before the war in the Balkans. In fact, I met and married the lovely Mr. Grace there. While having to leave as the war began and watching the place I adored descend into chaos was a time full of heartache, Croatia itself holds four years of amazing memories for me, and I consider it a major turning point in my life, the point at which I discovered the world at my door step and realized there was no going back to the insular way of life I’d grown up in.

 

 

 

Returning after so many years to find the best of Croatia still there, still vibrant, but even more so since joining the EU has added a new dimension to my life and given me the much-needed chance to heal old wounds and reconnect, the chance to make new memories and new friends.

 

 

Zagreb has always been a beautiful, fascinating city full of history and culture, but now, with a growing tourist trade and wonderful balance of independence and cooperation, the place has become a true jewel in Central Europe. The people, the location, the culture, the history make me want to go back again and again. Here are a few pictures from my last glorious visit.

 

 

Cheese Burek with yoghurt, delicious fast food in Zagreb. The two are traditionally eaten together, only because they are a fab combo!Burek is basically a layered thin pastry with a meat, cheese or fruit filling. This little place off the Dolac Market sells nothing but burek — cheese, meat or apple.  And it’s the very best.

 

 

The Croatian National Theatre, a pilgrimage I couldn’t resist.

 

 

And this is why. I love Ivan Meštrović’s work and this is my very favourite piece, called the Well of Life. No way I could do it justice in a photo and no way I could resist the chance to sit in the sunshine and just take it in.

 

 

The most important pilgrimage I made, however, was to visit my old home on Goljak Street.

 

 

Strangely enough while almost the whole street has been renovated and is full of new flats and houses, my house was like stepping back into time. I got goosebumps just being there. It felt like I could just dig out my house key, walk right on in and make myself at home.

 

 

I created great deal of wonderful memories in this place on this very steep hill. I lived on the bottom floor, below where the laundry is hanging out to dry. I’m viewing it from the street below in this photo.

 

 

There were so many photos I could have taken, so much I would love to share with images, but this time, this trip, I spent most of my time in the moment, just walking and remembering and taking it all in while I shared my evenings and mornings with good friends. Oh! And coffee. There was LOTS of coffee shared with good conversation and laughter.

 

 

I was lucky enough to be able to be in the city for the opening of the Zagreb Festival of Lights. It was a wonderful warm night, perfect for walking about and enjoying the displays. This one was done by painting on small glass slides and projecting it onto the building. We were lucky enough to meet the amazing artists, Gordana & Zorislav Šojat  from the Zagreb School of Light Art. This was most definitely our favourite display.

 

 

The second favourite was in Tuškanac, which is a gorgeous walking part of the city, green and full of trees and grass and parks. I had walked the area the day before in the warm spring sunlight. What a transformation night makes. This area is very near my old flat. You can see how hilly it is.

 

 

I would like to thank Melina Popovic, for the wonderful private tour of the Old City provided by her son, Tom, who is a tour guide. Tom was amazing! And I’d also like to thank her for sharing the Festival of Lights with us. She knew exactly where to look for the best displays.

 

 

I’d also like to thank Tanja Miloš for pointing out all the best places to “graze” while I explored Zagreb, and for lots more good laughs and naughty talk over lots of coffee. She’s the one who introduced me to the best burek in Zagreb .

 

 

Wonderful friends and wonderful memories, those are always what give prominence of place in my heart, and Zagreb, without question, holds a very important position therein.

 

A History in Laundry

(From the archives)

“We went through a lot of workout clothes this week,” I say. Raymond is making coffee and I’m folding clothes in front

of the drying rack that clutters our kitchen whenever we do laundry. Sometimes it clutters our kitchen all week long until I finally get around to folding the clean clothes and putting them away. However this week I don’t get to them until the weekend.

 

“We’ve had extra workouts this week,” he says as we both listen to the satisfying gurgle of the mocha maker sitting on the cooker.

 

“Both your gees are clean and ironed, all ready for Saturday.” I nod to the pristine karate uniforms hanging over the kitchen door. He teaches a karate class on Saturdays in Sutton and goes into London for a workout in the morning as well.

 

“Thanks.” He says, getting out the coffee cups. Raymond doesn’t iron, but he makes kick-ass coffee and a mean bowl of oatmeal. “Are you going in with me to walk?”

 

“I plan to.” I just happen to be folding the breathable Eddie Bauer shirt I wore last week when I took a long walk on the Downs, and I smile at the memory. I don’t smile at the memory of the ratty tank top I wear whenever I do the roots of my hair between visits to the hairdresser – always something I put off until I start getting skunk strip down the centre of my part. I fold it hastily and put it in the basket. Interesting that I take care in folding the clothes that I have fond memories of wearing recently, and not so much with the ones I don’t.

 

Raymond hands me the coffee just in time as I turn my attention to the frustrating task of folding his myriad black socks. The thing is, he has a gazillion pairs and they’re all look almost but not quite exactly a like. They’re just different enough to make matching them a real nightmare. Some have different coloured toes, some are ribbed differently and there are at least three kinds that are identical except for the ribbing on the cuffs which varies in width by millimeters. I hate folding men’s black socks. This morning he has mercy on me and takes the task off my hands so I can return to the pleasure of folding the history of our week told in laundry.

 

“You’ve got a rip there on the sleeve,” I say, holding up a blue shirt. “And the collar’s getting tatty. I think we should retire this one.”

 

He studies it for a moment and nods his agreement. “I caught it on the corner of the filing cabinet in the printer room. Something needs to be done about that.”

 

“You know, every week we can detail the past week’s history in our clean laundry,” I say. In our dirty laundry too, I think, but I’d rather not think about that so much reminded of the ripe load of workout clothes I put in with extra detergent on long cycle.

 

He gives me The Look – the one he always does when he thinks possibly meds might be requires. Then he nods to my coffee cup, because clearly I haven’t had enough caffeine yet this morning.

 

“No, seriously. Look” I pull a pair of his blue workout shorts off the rack. “Remember kettle bells last week?”

 

“That was a killer,” he says with a smile that says he likes kettle bells class best when it’s a killer.

 

“And look, those walking trousers — I wore those in to try on new boots at the North face shop, but they didn’t have my size. Then I got ‘em muddy on the walk to Newland’s corner the day after.

 

“And that long-sleeve t-shirt there,” I nodded to a faded red V-neck. “I wore that last Wednesday when the house was like a deep freeze and I was working on my blog. I wore that blue hoodie too and spilled tea on it in the process, and then I got toothpaste on it that evening when I brushed my teeth before bed.”

 

“I guess you’re right,” he says, looking around at our partially folded history lesson. “I never thought of it that way.

 

Neither had I, but there have to be a thousand stories in people’s laundry – dirty or clean. My laundry mostly tells the story of someone who writes and works from home, someone who walks a lot and works out a lot. Raymond’s tells the story of a man working in management, seeing clients, catching up on never-ending reports. They tell the story of a man who loves martial arts and loves being active. Sometimes there are travel stories, like the stain from some exotic sauce acquired while entertaining clients in a seafood restaurant in Alexandria. Sometimes there are anatomy stories, like the way his socks wear on the heels while mine wear out on the bottoms. We both threw away a couple pairs of socks after we’d finished the Coast to Coast walk a few years ago. I wear high socks when the weather’s cold and I’m sitting on my arse spending long hours in with my characters. I wear short light socks in the gym.

 

The point is that the stories of our lives and the fodder for the stories of lives I make up can unfold – or fold, in this case – in unexpected ways. Perhaps Raymond was actually using his martial arts skills to fight off spies who infiltrated the copy room to steal company secrets. Perhaps that’s how he ripped his shirt. Perhaps I woke up this morning and found myself folding the laundry of some stranger, none of it mine, none of it familiar. Perhaps the mud on my walking
trousers was actually from my night haunts of staking vampires in old churchyards.

 

Mind you, most of the time, the folding and putting away of laundry is cause for little more than a sigh of relief that it’s done for this week and I can take down the racks and unclutter the kitchen. But sometimes, even folding the laundry can be more than it actually appears to be, and at the end of the day, everything tells a story – even men’s mismatched black socks.

 

2018 Enjoy the Journey

Do you ever just NOT want to engage with a New Year? You know what I mean. It’s a little bit like that feel of not wanting to crawl out from under the blankets on an icy winter morning. It’s a little bit like not wanting to make that first leap into the cold waters of a swimming pool. It’s a little bit like not wanting to mess up the pristine new snowfall with your footprints.

 

I’m never quite sure if that feeling comes from the stay-in-the-warm-bed comfortable I’ve grown with the old year or the OMG terror of jumping out of a plane and hoping the parachute will open that the new year brings. Sometimes it’s a bit like those dreams in which I find myself naked on stage before a huge audience.

 

There have been times when I really did try to prepare for the New Year. I reflected on my successes and mistakes in the year past and made a serious and detailed plan for attacking the daunting new beginning. There have been other times when I’ve just sat back and let it take me by surprise and kick me in the ass. Whether it’s the paralysis of analysis or the deer in the headlights, whether it’s the planning and the scheming into minute detail or the burying my head in the sand, I can always count on two things. First of all, the New Year WILL come no matter how I prepare for it or not. Secondly, it will under no circumstances be what I expected it to be.

 

This year we welcomed in the New Year at a local pub with lots of friends listening to some seriously good live music. It was a great way of celebrating the best of 2017 and welcoming in 2018 with music and laughter and friends. And it was a wonderful place to gain courage, and encouragement to face new beginnings. On this January 1st 2018, there’s plenty of anticipation along with a very healthy dose of fear and trepidation as I prepare for major changes in my writing
career and my life in general. You’ll be hearing more my changes and adventures as the year goes on. This morning, I’m still in the girding my loins mode, still in that quiet space between letting go and plunging in head first. I’ll linger there just a little longer in the peace and quiet of bird song filtering in from the garden and a lazy second cup of coffee with my husband. Tomorrow morning will be soon enough, and by then I will once again remember that life is a continuum.It’s always about the journey and not the destination. The best goal I may ever have in any New Year is to simply enjoy the journey as much as possible and hang on tight for the wild ride that is the one thing I can always count on.

 

Happy 2018 my dear friends! Enjoy the ride.

 

 

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

Site created and maintained by Writer Marketing Services | Sitemap