Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dreamin' and Scheming Big & Real

Only hours left in 2009 and while it has been an amazing year filled with creative rebirth, self discovery and artful play, I admit I've been looking ahead to 2010. I cannot help but feel I've just shimmied my board onto a great wave that is just starting to carry me off on a wonderful, wild ride. I am excited and ready for the adventures that await me in the new year.

Part of this new found confidence is the result of so much genuine support and inspiration I've found via the amazing women here in blogland. I've had a hard time explaining to people who have not been involved in creative ecourses, blogreading and writing that true communication and connection can occur via the internet. But anyone who knows me can see the tangible changes in my life and my attitude.

One "project" that I am really excited about is my To Do List Book which was inspired by a video by the always inspiring Goddess Leonie.

the cover of my book: i took a composition book, gessoed, painted and stamped the cover and then pasted a favorite picture i had lying around. i've since added more writing in colored marker pens

I loved the idea of putting down on paper my ideas, my dreams and my goals and then breaking things down into bite sized doable chunks of actions to bring my ideas into reality. I have felt overwhelmed by all the variety of projects and activities that have come into my life this past year and a planner is a great way to organize my dreams and my intentions. So the opening page of my book is a list of major goals or projects.

i've pasted pictures and pages printed out from various sources that inspire me. here is the cover to Leonie's planner (read on for details!)

I then made a page for the immediate projects which act a kind of to-do list. Further back in my book, I've started a weekly to do-list that includes my bigger goals along with more practical daily stuff, like getting holiday cards into the mail or laundering clothes to give to a friend's little girl.

I was happy with my book but then Leonie followed up with her amazing Creating My Goddess Year Workbook and Planner. I am so excited by this workbook, I've already printed out the first half and have filled in the pages for reflections upon 2009.

filling in the workbook sheets - the pages are playfully decorated and inspire one to doodling or color in some more. i've highlight words with my new favorite art "toy" - watercolor crayons. and my new favorite tool - a portable watercolor brush/pen - pretty cool!

I will state up front that I am not a workbook kind of gal; I may get started but I lose patience or interest pretty quickly. But I am blown away by how seemingly simple the writing prompts/reflections are and yet skillfully and gently you are led into very deep and insightful consideration of your journey past, present, and future. I have pasted these pages into my List Book. I think the two together will be a potent vehicle for inspired dreaming while acting as a usable road map for the journey of living those dreams.

the back of my planner along with snazzy folder for holding future pages from the planner to fill in and then paste into my book.

And here is the great thing I've discovered in just one week: while pasting pages in, I was reminded of another project coming to an end - 52Q. I have one tag left to make and I love how this project combined journaling with creative play. I've used the tags as mini experiments into various media and techniques and I grew a lot through this exploration.

I was thinking about the year to come and how I might want to house all the individual pieces into one book or journal. I then popped over to see what question 52 was and discovered this project will not commence with a new list of questions for 2010.

Disappointed, but not defeated, I turned to my book and added at the bottom of my major goals page: create my own 52q for my blog. Now, normally I might let this idea bounce around my brain a bit until I left it long enough to come up with reasons why I cannot do it. But somehow by putting the idea on paper and then giving this project its own page for future topics, it magically seems on its own way into becoming a reality.

So I am officially announcing my own Weekly Reflections Project. (Hopefully I can come up with a better name!) My intention is to post a question a week for reflection, journaling, or artistic interpretation along with my piece for the week. I originally envisioned myself using an art journal (I have a spanking new Moleskine art cahier waiting in the wings) with one side of the page for art play and the other side the written answer to the question. Kind of like a larger version of the tags. I loved doing the tags and would invite anyone who hasn't experimented with this format to give it a go. Whether you are interested in prompts for self exploration or topics for artistic play, this project is so open ended, it can be whatever you want or need.

So if you want to join me (and hey, I joined 52Q midyear and caught up months later) here is the first reflection to ponder and work on: What word or affirmation describes what you want to bring into your life in the coming year? (And ever the appropriator, I read about this first on Pen's blog which cites Ali Edwards blog - to give due credit; and then in Leonie's planner a version of a similar question arises which got this whole ball of wax rolling ...)

Think of this as setting an Intention for yourself in the new year. Rather than a goal which is forward looking, an intention keeps us anchored in the present moment.

I'm off to ponder my response and will post later. I would love to have other join me, so feel free to post your response or a link to your blog or flickr account in the comments section. Let's make this a year of Big Dreams and Supportive Connections.

And Happy New Year to you and yours ♥ I hope you will be joining us in the coming year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Looking Forward

While we continue to dig out from what will be know as the Christmas blizzard of 09, I continue to feel a tad buried under emotionally and creatively. Right now, there is SO MUCH I want to be doing for the sake of joyful doing, but as always, daily life has other plans for me. Like a squirrely five year old gone wild from days on end being cooped up inside or mounds of boxes to unpack and sort through for my mother's new apartment. And yes, I am still working away on belated holiday gifts (and foolishly coming up with new ideas as I type.)

I am reminded of a yoga teacher who once said there will be times in our life when we will walk by our meditation cushion only to briefly touch it as a reminder "one day, I will return" and then move on with our day. That is how I feel right now: I touch with my fingers, my mind, my heart all the activities that feed my soul but must wait while I tend to practical matters. And this has to be enough for now. But soon, oh yes very soon, this will change!

My wish for 2010 is to know moments of spaciousness in my life. To rest contented in each moment, knowing that whatever is occurring, is right and is perfect for me and my journey. I guess I wish that I may know more patience with myself and my life. I tend to be a peeker around corners, standing on tip toes to see what is up ahead. My wish is to be in each moment and know it for all its juicy goodness. And then let that juice spill out into my world through words, images, photos ... a circuit of inspiration going out, coming in, going out again.

I feel a bit like my head is in muddy waters - maybe that is the Cowgirl twirling all around me as I type - and my wish is for the mud to settle. Soon. Along with some snow melt if you please.

Here's to an exciting New Year ahead. I really do feel deep within that it is going to be the best one yet. What do you feel?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Checking in

I am so tired, I can barely hold my head up. So here is a visual of life lately:

My mom is moved and now the unpacking begins (cue mournful groans)

I am still knitting ... and knitting

I had my last Chinese class of the semester and we learned how to make dumplings

And still, there is so much I want to do in these last few days ... I love the holidays and it pains me to leave anything off my list. I am accepting that this is all unfolding in the perfect way for me and I am trying to relish every moment. None-the-less, the long lines are killing me even though they are teaching me yet again about patience and how to find contentment in every moment.

I know I am not alone in this self defeating behavior, so for those of you not on the Universe's email list, here is a timely reminder I received and which I want to share with you who are standing by me in my moment of madness. Thank you Universe, you totally get me.

Just wanted to remind you, Lisa, that sometimes success is better measured in smiles received, giggles heard, and hands held, than in dollars earned, deadlines met, and kilos shed. And I must say, you've done well for yourself. Yeah us! The Universe

Happy Holidays to us all. I hope we all are finding time between waiting in lines and wrapping presents and baking cookies to savor the wonder and magic of this season. Here are my moments ...

Life is pretty grand, isn't it? Tell me about your elves and moments of magic and let's keep this party rolling.

And happy snow days ahead ...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A new day which finds our heroine trying to dig herself out

Another day spent waiting in an airport. But Logan International has bean bag chairs!

Too many adventures in the past week not worth retelling for the mere fact that this gal is weary and needing to turn her attention to more important things, like holiday baking, finishing (okay, starting) homemade gifts and enjoying all this snow!

My journey back East to move my mother was not without its humorous moments, like this lovely bathing cap I found stashed away in a drawer.

Never mind my mother hasn't been in any water other than the shower for 20 years, this baby was saved!

I returned home to find my Seasons Exchange package awaiting me. Such treasures! Beeswax ornaments and candle (smells so yummy), wet felt mat and an adorable wool baby in a walnut shell.

I was so excited to unwrap each item and I love the idea that another family was having fun making these gifts for us. I neglected to photograph my offerings but I hope to participate in this exchange again. It has made the holiday season come alive for me and kept me moving forward at times when I felt a bit overwhelmed by the details of my mother's move. Tomorrow we will be inundated by boxes (the mover arrives!) but I am vowing to keep my mind on what truly matters: this holiday season and the fact we will celebrate Christmas with my mother for the first time in decades.

So what I wish to give this holiday season to myself and to those around me is a space for quiet celebration. I want to remember it is the being together, the moments of laughter and love and sharing that are the true gifts of this season.

I wish to give all who come in contact with me the sense that I am present for them. And I wish to give this gift to myself, remembering to nurture my spirit by focusing upon the essentials and letting go of the worrying over details that in the end, do not matter. There will be a lot of clutter, for sure, but I hope I can focus my gaze upon what truly thrills my heart and speaks to my soul.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My spirits wishes for ...

... a chunk of time and the space to just rest and be.

Even taking time to post this is craziness as I am running around trying to get ready to travel tomorrow to help move my mother here. I was to leave today, but when the forecast called for possible blizzard conditions, I changed my flight. Still, I don't know how I'll get to the airport for a 5:45 am flight tomorrow, a stay in a airport hotel maybe necessary if we can get out this afternoon. And it seems loose ends are dangling all about my house, threatening to trip me with every step.

Have I mentioned the dog won't go potty in the deep snow? And Cowgirl is scurrying around the house as a dog woofing and making a wonderful ruckus as a background soundtrack to my frantic mind.

So all of me screams out for peace, quiet and time to just settle in and be. I want to enjoy this season and all its magic. I want to be alert to the whisperings of my spirit and nourish it with play, light, inspiration and joy.

All I can do right now is pause, take a breath, ask of myself: what do I absolutely have to do now? And just look at the one step before me. Baby steps. Baby breathing with my whole body. Ah yes, and look at the light reflecting off of the snow drifts. Lovely.

It will all get done somehow. But before the activity, taking this time to cast my wish. Ah, yes, better now!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2009 Reflections: the greatest gift of all

In amidst all the swirl of busyness and flurries of this final month of the year, the tendency to reflect upon the previous 11 months and project forward to the coming year seems a tad counter intuitive. I mean, I’ve got things to do: knitting to finish (okay, start and finish), cards to write, lists to check off and very little time to sit still and think.

Oh. Okay. I guess time for reflection would be a welcome break for my nervous system and my checking account. 2009 has been a busy year. But not busy in the usual sense of places visited (there were some) or things accomplished (which I did) but busy in an internal way. If I had to put it down in a sentence, I’d say in 2009 I was busy reacquainting myself with me.

One of the things I reconnected with in this past year is my love of photography. During my teenage and college years, my camera rarely left my side. I held ambitions of honing my craft, showing my work and I even had an unsolicited offer to buy one of my photos during a student show. And then I placed the opinion of others over my passion and the camera was put aside. Or in poetic terms: in the end, I was afraid. Afraid of not being good enough, afraid of appearing amateurish, afraid of running dry of ideas, afraid of being, well, plain.

What I’ve discovered through the journey of many amazing courses I’ve already discussed here is my love of creating for my own pleasure. It is a tricky tight rope to walk. It seems I’m conditioned to downplay the value of my own pleasure. I have trouble justifying my actions as being for my own enjoyment and that being reason enough to validate my work in my life. To say photography is my hobby also seems to deny the significant role it plays in my world. The temptation then is to believe I have to make this hobby into a profession to legitimize it but then I run the risk of opening myself to the need to please others. And as I’ve said, I do this for me.

A year ago I snapped away with the little point and shoot digital camera we bought to document our joining together with Cowgirl. And then I took my first ecourse that invited me to use the camera as a way of looking more intently at my life and my world. The camera was not an instrument of art making, but a tool for self-reflection and examination. Back in my hands, my camera was (and now is) an extension of my mind, my eye and my heart. And so I rediscovered the lonely teenager within me who longed to connect in a deep and real way with others, but was too shy to believe her voice was worth hearing. Now the Mother in me is showing that girl she has the power and the right to express herself, if only as a reminder to others we all have this right to our voice and to our vision.

In reflecting upon this past year, I would have to say the single most important thing in my life right now, beside my family of course, is my camera and my Unravelling 365 flickr group. We are a band of 30 or so who have been together over 5 months now, posting pictures daily, weekly or whenever we can. We are sharing the details of our lives with others all over the world. We are sharing our vision, sharing our humor, our hopes, frustrations, fears and dreams. Because of this group (I am committed to the self portrait a day project – committed in all sense of the word) I have found myself pulling my sick body out of bed to roll around a room in the name of self-expression;

moving out of a funk to capture a flash of inspiration;

up on my head to celebrate another’s birthday;

pausing in the midst of my life to record, reflect, and celebrate my life.

By taking time everyday to snap some part of myself (even just one finger will suffice) I am reminding myself that my life is worth noting and indeed there is much to celebrate.

And my tribe of Unravellers is celebrating with me, and I with them. Every day they remind me the world is generous, filled with beauty, light and great humor as well as great courage, passion and love. Each day my self-portrait is like a life line that keeps me connected with myself and then connects me with others. And in the process, they inspire me to challenge myself to grow artistically, technically, and creatively. (I mean, I am using Photo Shop for goodness sakes! Me, a slide librarian who is clinging to old technology.)

And now it is back to business as usual. Some online shopping to do (we are in the midst of a massive snowstorm) and a secret santa gift to finish for one of my Unravellers. We may have a cyber relationship that moves on the spiritual plane, but it is branching out into the material world. Just wait until we have our first retreat. You’ll know us by all the cameras going off, self timers beeping away.

What I want to carry with me into the new year is this habit of looking always towards inspiration and listening deeply to the voice within. She has a lot to teach me.

This is why I create every day. ♥

Friday, December 4, 2009


Putting together holiday wish lists I am always challenged by the balance between wanting/desiring and the pull towards simplicity, resting in the knowledge that we have more than enough. This has become especially tricky now that we have a child. I witnessed the power of advertising when Cowgirl came home with her dad and amongst their purchases was Kaboom! Cleaner. The husband informed me Cowgirl saw it and insisted he must buy it. She has since correctly pointed out to me “mommy, you need Kaboom for that. But don’t use it on glass or metal.” She is also pretty adamant we need an Airwick air freshener for the garage. So far, she hasn’t fallen under the spell of the toy advertisers; or more accurately, those messages seem to last as long as the 30 second commercial (“mom, I want that”) and not beyond. Yet.

It seems simple enough to teach my child the difference between wants and needs, but is it that simple? I grew up with parents whose experience of living through the Depression colored their approach to living for their entire lives. Baggies, empty margarine tubs, twist ties, used wrapping paper, ribbons and other odd scraps of this and that were tucked away in drawers and bags to be reused. They were the original green consumers. However that ethic was nurtured in a climate of lack and fear. What I want to instill in Cowgirl is a sense of abundance. For it seems to me, there is slippery slope from creating the sense of restriction, to worrying about not having enough, to then believing one isn’t enough.

One of the pivotal “ah-ha!” moments in my life occurred at a yoga training 8 years ago. We were sitting with a partner and each was to make a heartfelt statement to the other. The woman I sat across I did not know, but had admired her simple beauty and the general ease with which she carried herself and interacted with others. She fastened an unblinking gaze upon me and said “As I am, I am enough.” She might have been glowing or levitating when she said this, but I do not know because I immediately burst into tears. With those words, I understood all that I had been trying to heal within myself. I recognized that in no way did I ever feel I was enough.

So as I attempt to explain to my child that yes, Christmas is the time we ask Santa for gifts, I am aware of attempting to place limits upon her wish list without conveying the sense that we are denying ourselves out of lack or worthiness. It is one thing to hold back, reserving a bit for tomorrow because today I have had plenty; it is another thing to believe I need to save for later because resources are limited or I cannot believe of myself that I will have enough. A simple reaction to her many requests is to say “that is just junk; you don’t need that toy.” But I need to take care that I do not dismiss her wants without properly discussing with her why she wants what she wants and whether it is something she truly would enjoy and benefit from, and whether it is just a passing bubble of desire.

But first I must cultivate within myself and then with my family an attitude of abundance. Taking time to acknowledge and talk about the many gifts that flow into our lives; making sure to explain gifts are not exclusively and in fact rarely are physical objects - this is the first order of business. I hope to cultivate the perspective that our glass is always half full and to make awareness of abundance a habit of thinking. Last night Cowgirl acted up before bedtime and had a time out. This meant less time for reading stories and so her dad read her 2, not 3, books. She then moaned and groaned about how unlucky she was because she didn’t get 3 stories. I pointed out to her she could have had none since she made some poor choices that resulted in the time out. And for the record, she hates it when I do this. I asked her which would she rather have had: 2 or none. She defiantly replied “Three!” And so we continued until she accepted 2 was better than none.

This is one way I try to cultivate an awareness of abundance or what the yogis would call Aparigraha. To pin our happiness or sense of self worth upon material goods, what we have or own, is to chain ourselves to misery and frustration. For there will always be more and always there is the fear of losing what we have. To know I am enough, no matter what, is for me to recognize that in any given moment, life offers to me all that I truly need. My power and happiness exist in an ability to adjust my attitude and embrace my right to have all that I have. And to then let it go when necessary. A beautiful practice my teacher shared with me was to welcome gifts but for everything I take in or accept, to then give something away. Now, I love earrings and have quite a collection. But now when I receive a pair or if I find some too irresistible to pass up, then I look through my collection and find a pair I can gift to someone else. I let that person know I am passing these earrings on and somehow gifting what I have loved and enjoyed seems to bestow upon the object a special magic.

A cat card Cowgirl made for her friend's birthday

As I type this, I am aware I have become a little lax in this habit of late. I also know it is something I wish to teach my daughter. Initially it is hard to part with something you’ve enjoyed or loved. At least, it is for me. I find myself worrying “but what if I really need this later?” or I fixate upon the item, as if reconnecting with a long, lost lover, or a connection to a past memory or event. How could I possibly part with you? But I know from experience the pleasure I feel when a friend receives this personal gift. And really, it is the feeling we experience when giving that makes the act so rewarding. And I suspect I feel so good because I recognize in that exchange that who I am is enough – the earrings, the objects, the material possessions do not make me me. My spirit, my presence, that is what we share when we give gifts.

I love the spirit of giving that this season evokes and that is what I want to cultivate in my child. We are enough, we have enough. The Universe will provide as long as we do our part (a whole other topic!) We can be free to receive what comes our way and enjoy all this day has to offer. And then feel free to pass on the bounty of love and attention and gifts to others. Wish me luck. The forces of consumerism are lining up against me.

Cowgirl enjoying the magician at her birthday party last September

Special thanks to Goddess Leonie whose gentle guidance reminded me of this project I've dreamed about for far too long. The plan we made was for me to write something every Friday on my experiences of parenting from a yogic perspective and hopefully post that effort here. Not that I am promising anything for this month, but here is this week's effort. The question she asked me, and I now pose to you is: what would you do if you had courage?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winter Wishes

The moon is full, the nights crisp, cold and the damp air hints of snow to come. Yesterday the advent calendar went up and every day Cowgirl and I pull a little fabric doll out of a pocket, read the country she is from and then locate her on the picture of the earth that is the center of the image. As a child, I loved advent calendars although the ones I had were glitter covered paper ones with little doors to open for each day. The neighbors had a hanging felt one with the pockets and it was probably one of the earliest things I am aware of actually coveting. So naturally, once Cowgirl came into our lives, I was able to fulfill this childhood desire. ♥

December is about tying up loose ends and contemplating new beginnings. My wish for this final month of the year is to share with family and friends the magic I have felt pulsing strongly through my being these past months. Blocks to creativity have been moved, attitudes shifted and a general sense of excitement, hopefulness and inspiration has overcome me. I am incredibly blessed and I wish to share with others this realization that blessings surround us always, we just need proper eyes and heart to recognize them. I am reminded of a favorite quote from The Little Prince "It is only with one's heart that one can see clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.

My wish is to continue to hear and then follow my heart, for this season and beyond.