Alex’s Guiding Hand

alexs hand blog size - watermark copy

I recently completed a commissioned gift of art for my daughter, Alex. We wanted to create a ‘power piece’, so to speak. Something that would embody the essence of who she is so whenever she saw it, she would be empowered to be herself, to be authentic. Per my request, Alex sent me 12 photos she wanted to include inside her guiding hand as well as any words or quotes that would help us reach our mutual, creative goal. As I composed it, I got to see and hear and feel my daughter. Her photos are all action oriented – mountain climbing, cliff hanging, cliff jumping, dancing, riding, laughing, creating, imagining. Powerful images from the first 25 years of her life that embody her spirit of adventure as well as her love of movement and challenge.

And her words. The words she sent me were not only powerful, but they were the exact words a mother hopes are poured into her daughter’s soul and become her essence. Reading them and writing them on her piece gave me the assurance that she is rooted in her strengths and a seeker of joy. And she understands love – of herself, of others, of life. These words are written all over the piece. Some are in the swirly tree branches and some are littered around the hand. Others are around the frame, inside and out. And one beautiful wish is written in a separate book that hangs from the piece so she can take it off and read it whenever she chooses. You can click on the image to make it larger so perhaps you can read some of the words, but you probably can’t read all of them so I’ve written them below – separate quotes from various songs, poems, and novels, but in essay format with some transitions added, telling their own story of a woman’s inner wisdom and a mother’s love.

“It is important to tell this story of mine. We need to tell our tales because when the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. You yourself can shape the future…There are many kinds of magic, after all.

So here’s MY story…

I am someone who is looking for love. Real love. I know this is risky, but the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. Learn, feel, change, grow, love, live. Only a person who risks is free. What is love anyway but the most extreme and exquisite form of risk perception? I know this and thus I’m willing to work at it, to work on me. After all, the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one I have with myself. And if I find someone to love the me that I love, well, that’s just fabulous. It will be ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love. This isn’t superfluous. Rather, this is the greatest thing I’ve ever learned. To love and be loved in return is above all things.

To that end, I’ll keep following my impulses, because to deny them is to deny the very thing that makes me human. I’ll follow the paths that feel right. Those choices are explanation enough and require no further study or elaboration. If they turn out to be wrong, it’s all right, I’ll be fine, don’t worry ‘bout this heart of mine because I’ve never felt more alive! I literally feel infinite. And elusive. I am today. I am tomorrow. I am the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. People often don’t know what to make of me. I’ve been pinned to a corkboard like a butterfly before, but the pins merely go right through and away I fly. I don’t mind that they don’t fully understand me, because I know without a doubt that I am capable of realizing my own dreams for the future, for my career, for peace, for passion.

I dreamt as a child. Spinning, laughing, dancing to my favorite songs: a little girl with nothing wrong is all alone. Todo empezo cuando la musica nacio. Manos al aire. I can still feel those early years and how their magic carries me now. A gypsy woman threw diamonds at my feet. They drifted around me like a satellite giving me all I needed. And I grew up, strong and honest. This tree, this tree of life in me, is happy. From that happiness is a wish for all of us: that sun-glories and star-glories, glories of the mountains and oceans, glories of song, of posey, of all the arts may be to us as sweet, abiding influences that will illuminate our lives and make us glad.” 

The original is a Tyvek papercut hand, mounted on 24×36″ canvas with acrylic paint, beads, found objects, and recycled papers. Completed December 2011.

Alex receiving her Guiding Hand gift at Christmas 2011.

alex receiving art piece


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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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