Tools & Talismans #35 — Maya Stein

I am struck again and again with how each woman who’s participating in this project arranges her collection of tools and talismans, but even more so by what she decides to write about her items. Some are longer with stories about some of the pieces, others set down like a list of things to do, and some a combination of both.

It's gotten me thinking about how I talk about the people and the things that are precious to me, and how I'd write about my own choices — be it a collection of tools and talismans or the bigger choices, the life choices — like how I chose one thing over another, or even better, how I didn't choose and let happenstance take its course.

In a spare and lovely list with its accompanying paragraph, Maya shares some of the things {both animate and inanimate} that she cherishes, and it is, in a word, lovely.

Tools: word blocks, coffee mug, remote controls
Talismans: Frye boots, monster puppet, wedding ring

The items I’ve chosen are actually reminders of feeling-states that I want to occupy whether I’m in the midst of writing a poem, contemplating a business decision, step-parenting teenage boys, or moving through a mundane task. Depending on the context of their use, they symbolize engagement, connection, comfort, nourishment, relationship, agency, and vitality. There’s also a bit of whimsy thrown in for good measure.

Maya Stein is a Ninja poet, writing guide, and creative adventuress.


Tools & Talismans is a personal painting project where I’m documenting {in watercolor} the tools and talismans of 100 different women — creators and healers, thinkers and makers, wordsmiths and visionaries. Join me for a year of Tools & Talismans — I'll be sharing a new painting with you every Wednesday.

Do you have an illustration project that you think my style might be a good fit for? Looking for illustrations for your website, book project or have something else in mind? Please let me know, I'd love to talk about your project with you!