We want to share with you some of our ideas, you wonderful artistic people, for our upcoming design competitions, so that you all realize that you don’t just have to be a graphic artist to participate! We will of course have our regular design competitions, but there are a couple of sub-categories we are looking forward to implementing:
We want to have a photography category for T-Shirts, which will include regular photographs and those awesome, fun manipulated methods you amazing photographers each use in such unique ways to create works of art that blow us, and the rest of the world, away.
Oh yes, writers, poets and those of you who have something to say- stay tuned for our wordage competitions, that will challenge you to come up with words of charitable inspiration for T-Shirts. We cannot wait for this one, because we know the caliber of your minds and want to share your incredible wisdom with the world.
More to come…!
As some of you know, I came up with the idea for Love and Water while walking around the Central Park Reservoir one early morning last July. I shared my story with Mary McManus, polio survivor and inspired poet, while interviewing her last week and she wrote this simple, beautiful poem about it, which I’m so happy to share with the Love and Water community.
Central Park Reservoir
Contemplation, meditation, walking, jogging, run
In Central Park, the Reservoir, connected to The One
Thoughts run deep, still waters flow, footsteps sure on course
Worldly things recede from view, clear vision from The Source.
Sparks of inspiration ignite and burns desire
With quickened step and beating heart ideas are set on fire.
Unlimited potential unleashed within I see
Unbounded love to do God’s work to bless humanity.
Contact Mary’s company, New World Greetings, for other original, personalized poetry
Mary McManus is a polio survivor who has turned her life around, and around, and around to accomplish what most of us only dream of doing in a lifetime. Poet, author, Blog Talk Radio show host, public speaker and marathon runner, Mary’s stories will undoubtedly inspire us all to believe we can truly accomplish anything we set out to do.
Love and Water- Can you share with us how you came to writing poetry and starting your own greeting card company?
Mary McManus- In December of 2006 I was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome. I’m a polio survivor, and as we polio survivors age we can start experiencing symptoms of fatigue, weakness, chronic pain, tremors, and difficulty swallowing and breathing. We also, as a group, are typically type-A personalities, because we are so used to pushing ourselves past our limits and we don’t always know how to say no or to pace ourselves. There was a lot of shame around polio when I was young- it was called the AIDS of its day, because there was a lot of embarrassment over the idea that we were not good enough. So we always had to prove ourselves, so to speak. I was teased a lot in gym class because I wasn’t able to participate in sports, and was limited physically. So I pushed myself mentally. In my career as a social worker, I pushed myself beyond my limits, and finally burnt out. I went to the Spaulding Rehab Hospital for Polio, and the doctor said I needed to make some serious lifestyle changes if I didn’t want to end up in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. It was absolutely devastating to me because I felt like my whole world was crumbling. Not only did I feel awful, but to have someone tell me I had to quit my job was completely overwhelming. I started to meet with some therapists who were able to reflect such love and understanding back to me that I went into a short leg brace and used a wheelchair only sometimes, and I started reconnecting with God. I had a vision of God as a child when I had polio, and I felt this amazing comfort. But as I got older and was busy raising my family, I forgot about my spiritual side. So one of the first things I did while I was healing was to go within. As I was deciding what my next course in life was going to be I started to write poetry. One of the first poems I wrote was called “Running the Race.” I had no idea when I wrote this in 2007 that I was going to go on to run the Boston Marathon. I just knew in my mind’s eye that I was winning a 10k race- and at the time I wondered why I was envisioning that, but I just went with it as part of my path to healing. I started writing poetry at warped speed. I had to have pen and paper with me wherever I went, and in the morning I would wake up and there would be a poem there. They were all amazing, all about appreciation and gratitude and nature. It was incredible, and as this was happening I began to reposition myself with these new interests. My husband finally said to me, “why don’t you start your own greeting card company?” And I thought to myself, “why not?” So I did.
L&W- What is the company called?
MM- It’s called New World Greeting Cards: Original Poetry for Every Occasion, and I do customized poems for people. People basically commission me to write personalized poems for their special occasions. I do a lot of birthday and anniversary cards, and also weddings, eulogies, and anything else people may want a poem for. Most recently I wrote a poem for a woman whose dad died seven years ago and she’s now getting married. She wanted to find a way to honor him, but she didn’t want anything sappy or sentimental. So we talked on the phone for about half an hour and then she sent me as much information as she wanted about him and their relationship. I wrote it and she is very happy with it. One of my customers wanted to buy herself a gift for the New Year for inspiration, and asked me to write a poem for her. I was really touched by that, because I think that’s such a special gift to give to yourself. I was honored to write it.
L&W- You also have a book of poetry! How did that come into fruition?
MM- Soon after we created New World Greeting Cards, all kinds of events started happening that put me in the company of published authors, and I realized I had a book to write. Ironically, around that time, when I went in for my mammogram, I found out I had a tumor. I knew at that point that I was on such a good track for the first time in my life that I had to get rid of it. So I started to visualize and meditate, and when I went in to have it tested again, it was gone. It was a wake up call that I needed to continue on this new path I had found. It’s been an incredible journey. I finished my rehab, got my book published, and in 2007 I hired a personal trainer because I needed to regain strength in certain areas of my body that had really suffered. When I first started strength training I couldn’t even pass the assessment test. By February of 2008 I had made a good amount of progress, and we were talking about what my new goals were in my training, and I said I wanted to run the Boston Marathon! It was amazing to me how I had a vision of it a few years before, and it hit me in that moment that I was going to actually do it. I also knew I wanted to use it as an opportunity to raise money for Spaulding Rehab. I bought my first pair of running shoes and started my training, and one year later my husband, daughter and I crossed the finish line on April 20 and raised over $10,535.00 for Spaulding Rehab.
L&W- That’s so amazing, Mary! So inspiring. I understand you also have another book in the works?
MM- Well, I do a show on Blog Talk Radio called “It’s All About You” and I read a poem from my book, “New World Greetings: Inspirational Poetry and Musings for a New World,” on every show. My second book is with a publisher now. It’s called “Set Sail For A New World: Healing The Self Through The Gift Of Poetry.” I donate twenty percent of the proceeds from both books to Spaulding Rehab. On Thursdays I’m a co-host for a show called “City Enlightenment,’ which is about finding sources of enlightenment wherever you are. I write a poem for each show, and realized recently that I now have a third book in the works!
L&W- Can you talk about the work you do with Rotary Clubs, and how that is helping to cure polio?
MM- I speak at Rotary Clubs because Rotary International was given a grant by Bill and Melinda Gates to eradicate polio worldwide. It would only be the second disease that was ever eradicated- smallpox was the first. They donated roughly 300,000,000.00 to Rotary, and there is a matching grant for $200,000,000.00 in place. To date, we have $109,000,000.00, which is really exciting. A vaccine is only $.60, but the costs also go to getting teams together and in building teams in India, Pakistan and Nigeria, where polio is rampant. Teams go in to educate the people in those countries so they understand the vaccine is safe, and could really save their lives. There are many polio survivors today who work hard to share their stories of survival so that people can better understand the effects it has on the body. Violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman is a polio survivor. He did the “Concert To End Polio” at Lincoln Center in December of ’09. He is now in a motorized wheelchair, but for this concert he came out in leg braces and crutches to illustrate to the audience of how devastating a disease this is, and that we can eradicate it. So I go to local rotary clubs to share with them my journey with polio. One of the clubs in making a donation in my honor to the End Polio Now Campaign. When Rotarians buy my book, I donate twenty percent of the profits to the End Polio Now Campaign as well. I was also the associate producer for WBZ Radio’s The Jordan Rich Show on January 10 of this year “Polio: Forgotten But Not Gone,” to bring awareness to Rotary International’s End Polio Now Campaign.
L&W- Your stories are so moving and inspiring, Mary. I’m so grateful you have shared them with us.
MM- When I speak or write an introduction for a speaking engagement I always sit back and recognize how grateful I am for what I’ve gone through and where I am today. I do a gratitude journal everyday. I’ve met the most amazing people on my journey, and am inspired by what people are doing. There is so much good news out there. And that makes me look forward to what there is to come.
Love and Water- Your cards are just beautiful, and each one is so touching in such a unique way. How did you come up with the idea for Rino Cards?
Jan Horvath- We started Rino Cards around seven years ago, when we decided we wanted to have our own business that we really loved and were passionate about. Rino has been a painter his whole life, and we had always made our own Christmas cards that our friends and family really enjoyed. I’m a concert singer, and I had some time in between concerts and thought this would make a good business for us to work on together. We started off slow, as each card is handmade, but have continued to grow, creating one card at a time. Slowly but surely it has grown to 148 images.
L&W- Where do you find the inspiration for the art on your cards, Rino?
Rino Li Causi- My art is just a part of me. It’s the way I see my life. It’s the way I feel. I make the cards but I also have paintings, poetry, sculptures and songs that are all my expression of who I am, and it’s what I will continue to do. The way I see it with my art, if the money comes, that is great. But this is what I love to do, so I continue from that perspective to create what is meaningful to me.
L&W- Where can people find Rino Cards?
JH- The cards are on our website, and they’re also in various bookstores in NYC. You can find them at the Barnes and Noble near Lincoln Center, the Barnes and Noble on Greenwich and 8th Ave, and Rizzoli Book Store on 57th St., between 5th and 6th Aves. We are starting to approach publishers because Rino now has a full body of work, and they’re selling well in the stores in New York City. The only problem we anticipate with a publisher is how to avoid growing too fast. Because each card is handmade, we don’t want to run into the problem of not being able to fill all of our orders. We want to keep the art our main focus and not get into mass-production. Right now we’re very happy with the fact that we have enough work to put in a few bookstores and to watch them sell. It’s amazing to get positive feedback from customers. I ran into a man who was buying a card for his daughter’s birthday and he said he just loved our cards. That’s a great feeling.
L&W- It’s so wonderful that each card is handmade. Will you custom design videos for people as well?
JH- Yes! We would love to do that. This is our first foray into making videos, and that is definitely a possibility. We’d love to find a way to market the video further, and right now we’re just giving it to the world to see the kind of response we get. So we’re definitely open to making others.
L&W- What is the most moving moment you’ve had working together?
RL- We can fight a lot when we work together, but we have made so many wonderful things happen at the same time. I think for me, this is the most important thing. Because we have so many good moments together and we discover new things about each other through our work.
JH- Rino is used to working by himself, and I’m from the theater world, where it’s all about collaborating. So it’s often foreign for him to allow someone else to collaborate with him on his work. When we decided to do the video, I took his work and the song he wrote, translated the song to English, made a recording of it and made a video collage of his work to go along with it. It was unnerving to him while I was working on it because he didn’t know what to expect. But once he saw his art come to life in the video, it was a really special moment. And the fact that he wrote the song for me was also very moving.
L&W- Did Rino write the music for the song as well?
JH- Well, since he doesn’t have musical training, he wrote the lyrics and starting humming in my ear the tune he was hearing for it. I took that and tranlated it to the best of my ability, and came up with this song.
L&W- It’s such a beautiful, touching song. I understand you wrote it in Italian first?
RL- Yes, and I sang it in Italian. You can see that on YouTube as well. I take inspiration from Jan. My age is 66, and my brain is so young and wants to do more and more, and I’m very excited about working further. You will see more from us.
L&W- I hope so! How does it make you feel to know that your cards are selling so well?
JH- Both Rino and I get a kick out of the fact that we can put our art out there and it helps other people express their emotions. It’s such a privelage. We’ve had such positive feedback from the cards, and I’m really touched that they can give people such joy.
RL- Sharing our dreams with others and seeing their interpretations of it is really amazing. It’s a satisfaction when someone loves my work and it keeps me going. It makes me want to share more.
JH- I think also as a painter one doesn’t have an audience standing there, applauding every brush stroke. So when people respond to our cards, it feeds Rino in a new way that is so gratifying for me to witness. It’s really wonderful.