Monday, November 30, 2009
Mommy brain or hormones? Well, Mondays seem to be a reset button for my scrambled brain and coherent thoughts are just not my bag these days. So, another sampling from the Poo Poo platter that is my brain:
Where did November go?! Even Cowgirl was amazed to learn the month is almost up. Today also marks the end of Art Every Day Month, one of the seemingly effortless challenges I've posed to myself recently. The trick was for me to acknowledge this was just for fun, no pressure. The greatest joy of this process, besides the nice mound of projects completed this month, is the realization that art every day has become a habit for me. In my spare moments instead of turning on the t.v. or grabbing a magazine, I find myself collaging, writing, knitting and playing. Things went so well, I am considering the Art Every Day challenge for the new year. We'll see if I survive the knitting-until-your-fingers-seize-up month that is December. As any knitter will tell you, a common phenomenon this time of year is to believe you can knit in a month what any sane person would realize would require 4 months.
So this month I finished my Creative Goddess painting; knit a bag,
some wrist warmers and a scarf; made some button wreaths as an adventure into the wonders of Elmer's glue;
created a pile of cards that will be winding their way to some special folk in my life. (shhhh ... a secret!)
Monumental for me is the realization Just Do It! I have wide ambitions and often the scope of my dreams prevents me from starting or finishing a project. So many things I have done lately have been in the spirit of better something now than wistful "I had hoped to ..." dreams or projects. So my creations come into the world, warts and all.
A side gift from this process: I rediscovered a friend from my childhood! We last saw each other - gulp - 27 years ago. Julie, I am still pinching myself! When the dust settles, I need to mine the goodies in her inspiring blog. Art, writing, poetry, family life ... how perfect is all that?!
In other news: we had a grand time at the annual Mother Grandmother tea party this year - the last one as next year Cowgirl will attend public school. To say I was weepy when I realized this fact would be an understatement.
A new member of the household made his appearance over the holiday weekend. Welcome Fred, our house gnome.
If you didn't know this, every home needs a gnome to protect you from the pranks and misbehavior of rogue gnomes and especially those underpant gnomes who thrive on stealing our delicates whiles we sleep. Fred is settling in nicely and left Cowgirl a lollipop this morning as a sign of his gratitude to be here.
Finally, I treated myself to a guidance session with the divine goddess Leonie. Lots of good stuff that I am still processing. I mention it now as she is only booking appointments in December and then will take a break as she prepares for the arrival of her first little goddess babe. I have felt like my life is a kaleidoscope of ideas, feelings, desires and she helped me to pull things into focus and put down some concrete actions to take as I move into my dreams.
A phrase I love from goddess Leonie is Divine Messes. Divinely inspired, inspiring and alive - that's our corner of the world. What messes are you making in your special corner?
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Thanksgiving dinner is already a blur as I feel myself being catapulted into the holiday season. As if a beacon were lit for all to see, our neighbors emerged en masse from their dens to festoon their houses in twinkle lights, wreaths, Santa and reindeer displays and one skiing polar bear (who startled me the first morning of his appearance when, in the predawn darkness while I was walking Moose, he seemingly rose up on hind legs to stalk me.) The husband, for whom Dickens surely would have fashioned Scrooge if he was writing today, has always resisted excessive holiday decorations. And by excessive, I mean anything beyond one wreath and one tree. So I was a tad surprised when we headed out one night to view the light displays and Cowgirl declared she wanted some lights for our house. Without any of the usual irony in his voice, the husband immediately suggested we go out the next day to buy some lights.
And so here we are with the puniest of light displays in the neighborhood but hey, its a start. (Meanwhile, our neighbor across the street spent the entire week rigging his Cirque du Soleil display, the entire block dimming when he finally flipped the switch on.) I took the dog out last night for a tour and even though a cold wind blew, I was warmed by the excitement of our neighbors and their clear joy in celebrating the season. I got thinking about the magic of this time of year, the memories of holidays as a child when anticipation blended with a confidence and a certainty that Santa would pull through for me and find that treasured Fun Flower making set (complete with plug in heater, bottled goo, molds and tongs to lift hot pans of melting plastic bits up to be cooled; yes I was 5 - Cowgirl's age - when Santa brought me this) or other delights of a child's mind.
But today, I am caught in a more melancholy mood. Ghosts of Christmases past seem to be swirling around me. This time of year has always been a soup pot full of conflicting emotions. There is a hope the holidays hold out to us all along with a tinge of the bittersweet as toys break or fail to live up to our expectations and post holiday season brings about business as usual. I am also remembering how the holidays seem to offer us a sense that magic can occur, that change is possible, our lives transformed by Belief and New Beginnings. In high school my bravest moment occurred just before a holiday break.
To put this all in context - I was a geek in high school. I started out overweight and then struggled with an eating disorder. I had good friends, but I always felt very alone. I survived on a series of crushes and hoped that one day, someone would notice me. There was one boy who I had know for years who circled in and out of my crush rotation. We had been friendly, but that was it. This one year, I was overcome by the impeding loss of this object of my affection that school vacation would bring. Emboldened by the knowledge it would be weeks before he saw me again, I muttered some kind of invitation to call me over the break while we were at our lockers. Whatever I said was probably much vaguer than that, and I must have bolted away like a rabbit after uttering my cryptic comment. And yet ... I still waited that entire break hoping for the phone to ring, believing my message was understood and that my secret Santa would bring me my ultimate gift.
Needless to say, my high school days were dateless. This incident is book-ended in my memory with probably my most shameful moment when a boy did call to ask me out and in my panic and horror I created the most ridiculous lie about a boyfriend in Connecticut (?!) I'm not sure where I am going here. I guess I have been thinking about how the holidays invite us to dream big and the challenge is to continue to believe long after the tinsel and twinkle lights come down. We allow our possibilities to be a little wilder, more far reaching - that is the excitement and the daring this seasons seems to offer. But to marry Believing with action, that seems to be a more fruitful way of approaching things. Toys will break, dreams will look flatter in real life, but how to continue to breathe life into them long after the fruitcake has been packed away, well that is what I am pondering these days.
Monday, November 23, 2009
It occurred to me,
Rubber gloved hands
Reached into soapy water
Another pan to wash,
Many women artists and writers
Probably didn’t have
Families to care for.
Or if they did,
To have had
Someone to help them
Do the dirty work
Of shopping, cooking, cleaning,
Walking the dog,
Packing the next day’s lunch
In fire truck lunchbox
And my god!
Remembering all the details –
Music class on Wednesdays
Martial Arts on Tuesdays and Thursdays
Chinese on Saturdays
Trash on Mondays
Doctor and dentist appointments
Birthday party presents
Parties to attend
Parties to plan
Thank you notes to write
The minutiae that goes into
A child’s life
Never mind my own.
I know Stieglitz did not want
O’Keeffe to have children
Believing it would
Take energy away from her art
And I can understand that perspective.
I find myself longing for the chance
To opt to skip a meal
For a longer yoga session,
Paint or write
Instead of cooking dinner,
Go out on a photo journey
Rather than a trek to the store.
I think of these things
As I turn to see
Food to be put away
Trash to be emptied
The dog waiting for his supper.
Perhaps tonight I might
Trade this all in
For free time for myself.
I know that this all is the grit,
The bit of irritant
That compels me
To make my pearl.
Rich in details
Overflowing with love
I would not change a thing.
I am happy O’Keeffe’s art
Hangs in museums for all to enjoy;
For me, it is pure bliss and
My art sleeps
Well fed, comfortable and cared for
In my home.
Friday, November 20, 2009
What troubles me even more (and the above is pretty troubling) is the attitude of young women today. Okay, so pull out my granny glasses and button up that over-sized cardigan I sound like every generation of - gulp - older folk but seriously, the women who fought so hard for women's rights would be spinning their corpses out into space, it is that disheartening. That feminism is considered a nasty thing by collage age women of today is cause enough for alarm. That there are still STILL so few positive role models for young women should be unacceptable to us in 2009 goes without saying and sadly, it does go unsaid. I'm not even sure where I am going here ... just writing to say I've been thinking long and hard about what I am bound and determined to teach my daughter.
So here is the off-the-top-of-my-head list which I plan on revising, fine tuning and adding to as I ponder things more. So share, please share, your thoughts here. Because we need to make a conscious effort ladies. We need to band together and teach our daughters that we each count and that being a woman is not about bust size, shoe collections (which hey, are fine and good), boyfriends, skinny jeans but that we're MORE than what we look like or what we own. I want my Cowgirl to know she has choices and she has the final say in deciding who she wants to be, not the advertisers or the media.
In no particular order:
One of the bravest things you can do is to be yourself.
The only power you have to take back is what you have given away.
You are the only one responsible for your happiness. It does not reside in what you have, who you know, where you are – it is a state of mind/attitude that you cultivate and choose to embrace in every moment.
We may or may not be here for a reason; regardless, we are here – so make a difference.
Mistakes are how we learn and grow. The only true mistake is to fail to see mistakes and challenges as opportunities to expand our understanding of our strength and power.
Everyone has a story worth telling. Tell yours and be willing to listen to others.
Be able to speak your story in many different languages (learn at least one other language; communicating is power.)
If you are bored, then you probably are not paying close enough attention.
True friends do not make you feel bad about who you are.
Ask questions. Often. Do not be afraid to make some noise. Likewise, do not be afraid to take up space.
Take time to know your heart. Trust it. Honor it always.
This life is a gift; celebrate and give thanks every chance you get.
The earth is ours to share, not own. Be a good sharer.
What matters is not what others think about you, but what you believe about yourself.
Next up: compiling my list of suitably inspiring and appropriate role models from past and present. As always, I am accepting submissions for your favorites.
And now, I will get off my soapbox and head out to the zoo for some good monkey fun.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Today's Wishcasting asks "What do you wish to Embrace?"
Very simply, I wish to embrace my life as it is in this moment. To truly know and feel Contentment, or Santosha as described by the yogis. To be as I am and not to look outside myself for happiness. Try as I might to fully inhabit the Now, I still feel in the pit of my stomach an anxious yearning feeling for something more. A je ne sais quoi about my life that has wrapped itself around my neck like a scarf I seem to wear all the time; a "yes, I am engaged in this BUT I wish it could last longer, be fuller, be freer ..." I'm not even sure what. I just am aware that I am living my life in small blocks of time and there is this fractured quality to my world. And as a part time worker, full time mother, part time teacher, part time dabbler in many fields well, what else could my life be?
So I wish to let go of feeling anxious about it all. Right now my life is a wonderful blend of contrasts: busy and still, chaotic and structured, forward moving and stuck in the mud, muddled and inspired. Some days I am amazed by what spills out of my pen, brush and finger tips; other days I feel myself thrashing against the constraints of family and work life, barely able to make toast much less magic. But it is all necessary - the gaps, the pauses, the blank days providing the nourishment and incentive for the days of rich, full bodied living.
And most of all, I want to embrace my perspective as being worthy of expression. There are days I can barely contain myself, I am so excited by the inspiring words and images available for my perusal here on the web; other days I despair and wonder why I would even consider adding my doodles, snapshots and crazy chatter to the world. Then I watch my Cowgirl painting and I remember creating is an act by which we stake our claim upon this world and our life. We were here, this is what we saw, felt, believed. And we had a great time doing it.
My life, right now, as it is, is pretty amazing and I want to be sure to let everyone know this is so ...
... especially myself.
(A quick AED update: I've finished another felted tote bag, started some knitted wrist warmers, have a new canvas awaiting paints and collage materials while my other canvas sits quietly in my yoga room. I am waiting to see if it calls for anything else or if it is complete. I did add a blue jay feather I found to it and it feels about done. Brown on top, springy to the touch ♥ Am off to paint right now ...)
Monday, November 16, 2009
Today is that kind of a Monday which bodes ill for the coming week. Grey, damp, rumors of snow or freezing drizzle buzzing about, and just bone numbingly cold. I know, I know, come January, this weather will feel tropical but right now I am feeling a strong pull towards hibernation. So I am making up my own theme for this day as my brain waves are refusing to adhere into anything coherent. Welcome then to Random Thought Monday!
Over the weekend we took Cowgirl to see a performance of the Shaolin Warriors. She had seen the flier come in the mail and had been asking to go. Wanting to encourage her interest in martial arts, we decided it was worth the risk of her falling asleep during the performance and got tickets. Once the show started, there was no way was she going to sleep through it! For two hours she sat enraptured of every kick, leap, punch, spin and flip, clapping enthusiastically with the rest of the audience.
She is in her second year of a Little Dragons martial arts program and holds one of the highest ranks in her group (most families sign up for one year and do not renew, but we renewed and now have a new crop of kids joining her) and is very proud of this fact. A natural leader (yes, a spin on the moniker Bossy Britches) she loves mentoring the new students. Having seen her instructors demonstrating stick fighting, she began to grab dried stalks from the day lilies for her practice. I can only imagine what she will try next now that she's seen the monks breaking metal rods over their heads!
Yes, she is wearing a dog's snout mask on her head. She more accurately looks like the Monkey King warrior, but she adamantly refuses to accept she was born in the year of the monkey. I am a tiger and apparently monkeys and tigers are not compatible. This topic came up the other day in my Chinese class. My teacher very delicately informed me "tigers and monkeys generally do not mix well together." She went on to explain "In China there is a saying, in the forest where there is no tiger, monkey can be king." And that, my friends, was my A HA! moment. Summed up in one phrase is a description of the relationship between Cowgirl and myself. The poor hubby (Soda Pop Pop as Cowgirl likes to call him) is the meekest of all the zodiac: a rabbit.
Continuing to explore the fascinating workings of a five year old's mind ... a recent development is an imaginary friend named Binker. Now, I have to take the blame for planting this seed: Binker is a poem by A. A. Milne which I have read to her on a number of occasions. It starts out:
Binker (what I call him) is a secret of my own,
And Binker is the reason why I never feel alone.
Playing in the nursery, sitting on the stair,
Whatever I am busy at, Binker will be there.
So the twist is Binker is the one responsible for anything that might get Cowgirl into trouble. For example, when she asks if she can watch television and I tell her "it is a school day - remember our rule? No television on a school day." She will response "That was Binker asking." Or if she makes a rude noise she will inform me "Mommy, that wasn't me - that was Binker!" We are getting a lot of "Binker said that" around here.
Another fun phrase I want to remember is "all the numbers." This generally means A Lot or also can be referencing an amount equal to any previously mentioned number. Cowgirl has a penchant for rattling off a stream of numbers rather than saying one amount. So if she telling me a story about super heroes, she might say all these monsters - 39, 101, 1045 - came in to attack Spiderman. But then the other super heroes, all the numbers, came to help out. Or when discussing how much she loves me, she might say "I love you 101, 525, one thousand - ALL the numbers!"
Final random thought for today: either I am just living my life like a squirrel madly amassing her nuts for the long winter haul, or else I am seriously embarking upon a career in collaging. As part of the Art Every Day month, I've been making these postcards.
This first stage is just the collaging and I plan to add writing or stamping of some kind to the pieces but I seem to be in a collage making trance. I have finishing touches to do to my final project for Goddess school
but I already bought another canvas today for a larger scale version of my postcards. It's not that I have an idea of what I want to make, but I have an inkling of how I want to make a piece. And stashed away in envelopes, file folders and notebooks are bits and pieces of elements I'd begun amassing for this next project before I was even aware I was going to be making it. Could Mod Podge fumes be responsible? Perhaps a the suburban fairy cousin to La Feé Verté or the abstinthe green fairy of Moulin Rouge fame?
Oh my, now I'm really on a roll ... have I mentioned Ewan McGregor is my bizarro world husband? Okay, I'll save that for another post ...
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Today's Wishcasting asks: What do you wish to dare?" I was immediately reminded of lines from T.S. Eliot's poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:
I dare to believe the mermaids do sing for me. I wish to dare myself to sing back. Loudly, with my head thrown back and arms wide open.
And always, I remember that Dreams + Action = Believing in myself. And that is something I want to be sure to model for my little Cowgirl.
And yes, I already wear my trousers rolled ... (okay, you need to read the entire poem for this reference.)
Monday, November 9, 2009
Still, the activities keep me grounded in the present moment as I indulge my senses with colors, textures, shapes and materials. Each project reminds me of the beauty of each day and how the smallest action has the potential for great change, great love. I can feel overwhelmed by all I must do, but then I slow down, grab some materials and let my mind rest on the simplest of things: making a design, creating pattern, celebrating details, crafting something that blossoms before my eyes. I am finding art is my new meditation.
In the midst of all this, I am taking what time I have to delve into each sense as Susannah moves us through a magnificent journey of Unravelling Further. Last week we explored touch. Here are my two favorite things to touch: my daughter's silky hair and her soft soft skin. I love how she expresses the joy of being touched.
So, what touches you these days?
Friday, November 6, 2009
I hesitate to post this for fear I someone will stage an intervention for me but yes, I have jumped abroad another 30 day challenge. Normally, the 30 days of November herald the slow but steady build up to the holiday madness that is December. My intention is to savor the holidays this year and not fall victim to the frenzy of consumerism that usually whips my butt - and wallet - into a sorry state. I am embracing the challenge of Art Every Day Month which I am joining a few days late. I reason that I am committed to taking a self portrait every day, so really I am already doing this challenge. But I have had some ideas simmering in my feverish brain and I hope to tackle them this month.
In honor of our Art Month, today Cowgirl and I enjoyed a full day of art play. We met friends at the local art museum for the Friday kids class. Today's project was using watercolors and oil crayons to make a picture inspired by a Chihuly sculpture hanging in the atrium.
After lunch and a rousing game of witches and monsters chasing children in the sculpture garden (mommies being witches AND monsters), Cowgirl and I came home where I began work on my final project for the Goddess Creativity Course.
Today I am trusting in abundance. There is always enough of what I need, whether that be energy, time, inspiration, or monetary resources. The trick is to recognize the difference between wants and needs. I received a package of Japanese paper samples and my tendency would be to hoard each precious scrap, waiting for The Perfect Project which, of course, never materializes. So one of this month's activities is to use these beautiful papers in various collage projects. Here is stage one of some art cards I am making.
Today I am grateful for my health. A good friend has been suffering for over a year with a condition which the many doctors she has seen have failed to accurately diagnosis or treat. Despite the increasing aches and pains of being the ripe age of 7, I am in excellent health and so is my family. And I do not want to take that for granted. Yesterday Cowgirl and I waited in line, outside in cool temperatures for 3 hours so she could get one of the few N1H1 flu shots available through a county health clinic. I felt as if I had been skiing all day; I was that sore and tired. But we met some great people in line and it reminded me that people are kind, good, caring and giving.
And speaking of giving, I am continually inspired by the generosity and enthusiasm of Goddess Leonie. I know I will be seeing the gifts of her ecourse for months to come. To say I have felt inspired, empowered, supported and encouraged is an understatement. She is a beacon of sunshine, bubbly joyfulness and positivity that confirms to me outlook and attitude are the key. As I say to Cowgirl (and she will probably tell me years from now how much this annoyed her): we can choose Happy.
What in your life is giving you joy? How you do plan to spend this holiday season? How do you choose Happy in your day?
(p.s. For the one person who I may have neglected to tell, Goddess Leonie ran a lovely interview of me and our adoption story on her blog which you can read here. I am so honored and thrilled to be a part of her birthing stories series and to be the first story in the series was a healing gift. Thank you lovely goddess!)
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Well the ghosts and goblins and witches must have some pull with the weatherman because Halloween and the day after were probably the nicest days we've had all month. Absolutely perfect for trick or treating and the Cowgirl was able to head out clad only in her superhero finery.
Before Cowgirl came into our lives, the husband and I were not sure we were cut out for kids. But I vividly remember a Halloween when a dad came to our door with his little bumblebee of a daughter and after they left, my husband turned to me and said "I can't help but wonder if we aren't missing out on something." Thank goodness we saw the light because yes, Halloween through a child's eyes is an experience not to be missed. And this year, Cowgirl really got it. She had picked her costume out weeks ago and she never wavered from her decision (thankfully, this was not the case for her birthday party as she had insisted for months that we have it at Chuck E Cheeses; at the last minute, she succumbed to my pressure to have it at the pumpkin patch.)
We seem to be on a superhero kick as last year she was Spiderman. This year she went as ... drum roll ...
Hong Kong Phooey!
From her perspective, this is the perfect costume: he's a dog, his kung fu is awesomeness and he is a superhero. What's not to love?
At every door, she waited in her best martial arts ready/fighting position. When she saw someone coming, she would start punching and kicking to demonstrate her fearsomeness. This did confuse some of the grandparents in the neighborhood who had no idea what she was supposed to be. But the hip daddies and moms knew and she made sure to announce to everyone "I'm Hong Kong Phooey!" often singing a couple of lines from the theme song. It was a sight to behold.
After a hour, her bag bulging with sugared goodies (some folks gave out whole candy bars - you know word spread in the neighborhood), her kung fu kicks a little lower, punches a tad slower and we shuffled home ready to wipe the grease paint from our noses. And you know, the whole time we were out I was giving thanks for every delicious, heart bursting, belly achingly delightful moment of it.
Saint-Exupéry was right: Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them. But thank goodness, they do because it is so much fun to experience the world through them.