Welcome to
Transactions with Beauty.
Thanks for being here.
I hope that this is a space that inspires you to add something beautiful to the world. I truly believe that 
you are required to make something beautiful.

– Shawna



5 Beautiful Things

5 Beautiful Things

There have been times in the last couple of years where I thought to myself, why beauty? What can it do or change or be? But you know what, these days, my faith has been renewed in the power of beauty, in how necessary art and literature and music are to our lives. More than ever I want to amplify what is beautiful.

1. Yasmin Williams

I regret that I don’t remember which of my contacts posted this on social media, but I’m so happy to have discovered the music of Yasmin Williams.

From NPR:

“A lot of the stuff on the radio right now is very aggressive and kind of sounds the same and kind of in your face," she says. "I like my music to be more melodic, more calming. Just something easy to listen to but has substance.”

Yasmin Williams NPR

You can watch the YouTube video here (if you’re reading in the newsletter) or below.


2. Poem by Jeanne Lohmann

Questions Before Dark

by Jeanne Lohmann

Day ends, and before sleep
when the sky dies down, consider
your altered state: has this day
changed you? Are the corners
sharper or rounded off? Did you
live with death? Make decisions
that quieted? Find one clear word
that fit? At the sun’s midpoint
did you notice a pitch of absence,
bewilderment that invites
the possible? What did you learn
from things you dropped and picked up
and dropped again? Did you set a straw
parallel to the river, let the flow
carry you downstream?

This was found thanks to Parker J. Palmer and the On Being blog.

“...has this day changed you?”
— Jeanne Lohmann

3. The Art of Kiki Smith


From an article on her in The New York Times Style Magazine:

“But what is eternally pleasurable about Smith’s work is the opposite: As other artists have become more explicit, even bellicose, she has only gotten quieter, layering detail upon detail as she weaves a canopy of singular beauty amid the chaos. It is in this very act of working ceaselessly, of pushing forward to construct a macrocosm evermore expansive and enveloping while everything around her seems to rub and scrape and fall apart, that is itself Smith’s ultimate political act.

As other artists have become more explicit, even bellicose, she has only gotten quieter, layering detail upon detail as she weaves a canopy of singular beauty amid the chaos.

She has always had an oracular quality, albeit a humble one, her imagery prefiguring by decades the acceptance of radical transformation and the fungibility of identity. In its latter years, Smith’s world has become, unpredictably, fiercely optimistic, every stroke and line imbued with a skittish, supremely human touch. The violence and discomfort is largely gone, but this overwhelming faith remains a profound gesture, evidence that not only have we survived but that we will continue to, so long as we, like her, continue to notice everything, and fear nothing.”

Read more about her work here.


4. Cinnamon Toast

This really is a beautiful thing. Did you eat cinnamon toast as a child? I haven’t had it for ages, but after reading this article, and then happening upon a loaf of cinnamon bread at the grocery store, I’ve indulged. (Photo by me).

From the article by Emily Johnson:

“I endorse cinnamon toast. Life's short; live, laugh, love; you only YOLO once; your body isn't a temple, it's a playground; notice the little things (like the shiny pools of butter-soaked cinnamon sugar on the surface of your toast)...whatever platitude you need to hear to make this feel okay, say it out loud to yourself. Or wake up and give yourself a simple directive: Eat the toast. Just eat the damn toast.”

I think this is going to be my new mantra: just eat the damn toast.

Just eat the damn toast.
1-sin toast-28.jpg

5. Photographer Gemmy Woud-Binnendijk

You can watch the video below or here on YouTube.

View more of her work on her website.

I first learned about her because of an ad on Facebook, so I guess sometimes they get things right. It was for this course.

I don’t know what it is about her work, but it gives me a thrill. Just that perfect combo of art and photography I guess.

A Report on the Extreme Beauty of the World

A Report on the Extreme Beauty of the World

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Only the Mountain and I