Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Inspiration Celebration: mountain fun

It's vacation time ...

we're playing in the mountains ...

keeping cool ...

seeking thrills ...

enjoying the chance to just chill ...

together ...

we'll be back soon ...

with lots of inspiration and goodies for our party
, so until then ...

Save the date: August 1

See you then!
lots of love,
Lis and Cowgirl

(we are on the prowl for some chocolate inspiration to offer this Wednesday for 52 Photo Project ... it's a tough mission, but we will try our best!)

Friday, July 22, 2011

August Art Bash - Everyone's Invited!

Cowgirl and I are so excited to share our news but first, a little teaser:

Painting with a Purpose/2011 Campaign from Lisa Hofmann on Vimeo.

We are pleased to announce August 1 is the kick off date for our Art Bash, Painting with a Purpose 2011 Campaign.

If you were with us last year, you may remember we participated in an art a-thon fund raiser for the charity Half the Sky Foundation. Half the Sky is an organization we have supported for over five years now. The mission of this grassroots organization is to provide nurturing care for the orphaned children living in Chinese Welfare Centers. The essence of their mission can be found in this excerpt from their training manual:

"Changing children’s lives does not require new facilities or expensive playthings or complicated new procedures. Human contact is the most important ingredient, and caretakers can make a huge difference—just by taking an extra moment whenever possible to hold the babies, talk to the children, hug them all, and assure them that someone cares."

For five weeks last summer Cowgirl and I collaborated on a series of paintings which we offered as prizes for anyone making a donation to our Half the Sky pledge page. We even received a commission for a painting (that make us Real Artists, right?) and through the generosity of this community, we raised $900. Our efforts resulted in a year long sponsorship of this sweet little guy:

Plus we contributed to the Big Sisters Program which provides educational training and opportunities for older children living in Chinese orphanages and welfare centers. Part of that project involves the children producing a regular newsletter filled with their own art work, creative writing and stories. Almost half of the children who have participated in this program have been accepted to university - an incredible feat!

This is the second year Half the Sky has sponsored their fundraiser Art from the Heart and Cowgirl and I have been eagerly planning our summer series as part of the art a-thon, which we call Painting with a Purpose.

For five weeks in August Cowgirl and I will be collaborating on a series of mixed media pieces on gesso board. It is looking like Birds (Flying Free?) may be our theme, although my six-year girl reserves the right to change her mind! Each Monday starting August 1, I will post that week's completed piece which we will be offering as a prize to anyone making a donation to our Half the Sky Pledge page. Here's the fun part: make a donation and your name is entered into the pool each week for one of our paintings. One donation: five chances to win!

Ah, but we are hosting a Art Party! And everyone knows a party has to have beaucoup sparkle, decoration, prizes, and fun along with great guests. And boy, do we have some great guests joining us!

In addition to the pieces created by myself and Cowgirl, each week there will be bonus prizes generously donated by a dream team of creative lovelies. I am talking about the artists, writers, creative goddesses who have inspired me and my journey. I would not be the Joy Warrior I am without their presence lighting up the online world, never mind their art that fills my home. And I honored to be able to share the magnificence of their creativity with all of you.

Each week there we will be giving away selected artwork and prizes donated by Susannah Conway, Marisa Haedike, Connie Hozvicka, Effy Wild, Soraya Nulliah, Pixie Campbell and Sarah Ahearn Bellemare. Beautiful things - really, really juicy fun prizes.

Are you digging out your party shoes? Grabbing your twirling skirt? Glitter and perfume?

Okay, here's the scoop: in order to be eligible for all the drawings, you must make a donation to our Half the Sky pledge page. There is a button on the right hand side of my blog - it says Donate Now - that will take you right to my page. From there you can make a donation directly to Half the Sky by credit card. If you wish to mail in a check instead, there is a link on that same pledge page to print out a donation form. All money is handled by Half the Sky.

After you donate be sure to leave your name on the honor roll (you do not need to indicate the amount of your donation) then leave a comment on this blog making sure I have a way to contact you should you win! You may also email me directly: lishofmann(at)novia(dot)net to let me know you've donated and to give me emailing information.

Once you've donated, your name is in the pool for the five weeks worth of paintings by myself and Cowgirl.

For the special guest prizes: Every Monday in August I will be revealing both the work Cowgirl and I created along with that week's guest prizes. Each week will showcase a different artist. To be entered into the drawing for those prizes, you must leave a comment on that post along with contact information (or email me.) Again, you must have made your donation to Half the Sky - you donate once, but must comment every week to be eligible for the bonus prizes. (It's a party, we want you around for the entire bash!)

Help me spread the word and you receive additional chances to win. Post a link on Facebook, Google+, Tweet about the campaign, or share on your blog and receive additional entries into each week's drawing. Just be sure to leave a comment that week letting me know how you've helped so I can include the additional entries. Winners will be announced the following Monday with the final prizes being awarded on Labor Day, September 5.

Phew! I think that's all for now! Party planning can be intense, but I am looking forward to cutting loose with you all come August 1 and celebrating! I would love LOVE to reach our goal and contribute this year's offerings towards a year's worth of art supplies - paints, paper, markers, clay and lots of glitter! - for the preschool programs. Just think: our hands empowering those little hands and watching the creativity fly!

I hope you will help us dream big. Help us spread the joy. Let's be fearless dreamers together.

Okay, ready ... grab someone's hand ...

JUMP Up and join us!

The party begins August 1 - we can't wait to see you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

having my cake ... (sharing my table)

This week's theme at 52 Photos Project is the table at mealtime. The present heat wave has kept me out of the kitchen, so I thought I would share the incredible cakes my friend Michele makes for her daughter's birthday. Every July I know we will be treated to another creative and delicious cake in addition to fun themed parties.

Two years ago we went to a luau:

Last year was Hello Kitty:

This past weekend was a fiesta complete with taco party, pinata and mariachi music:

The best part of all - Cowgirl does not like cake (unless it is an ice cream one) and so I get to have double my cake! And I always enjoy eating every colorful, sweet, delicious bite.

Speaking of parties ... be sure to check back on Friday for your invitation to our big August bash. Shhhhh ... it's a surprise! But expect lots of presents!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Inspiration Celebration: Connection

It's been pretty hot and steamy in our part of the world. The days are still busy, but we try our best to get out of the heat and seek water whenever possible. The days seem to be drifting by and it is hard to believe summer is more than half over. We have slowed down quite a bit, taking time to enjoy the benefits of summer: longer days, fewer obligations, time to be with family and friends.

All of which has got me thinking about this web of connections that seems to have magically appeared in my life. I am busy with The Elements of Art Journaling sharing the experience with two of my best art buddies known only through the internet (although that will change this October when I room with Tracy for the Total Alignment retreat where I will get to hug all of my Fearless Painting tribe.) I am looking forward to SouLodge with another of my online crushes, Wild Woman Pixie Campbell who I will meet at Squam this fall. I have gleaned so much wisdom from Pixie's blog, especially as I turn inward and trust the guidance brought forth through the wisdom and the tools of Mother Earth and all her creatures. Every day gifts are offered to me: another feather lying in my path; hawk soaring right over my car; deer grazing by the roadside, soft eyes glancing my way and reminding me to practice gentleness with myself and my loved ones; frog leaping into the grass suggesting it is time for retreat and self care.

Then there are the gifts of conversation carried on with dear friends, old and new who remind me to practice the gifts of writing, painting, sharing and connecting. Many have asked me if I believe these online friendships are "real" given they exist within a space of convenience and ease. I tell you, come to my home and see the artwork gracing my walls - pieces purchased but also gifted to me by these friends I've only cyber hugged.

top print: Pixie Campbell; bottom: Soraya Nulliah

my altar- photograph by Susannah Conway;
medicine bundle by Pixie Campbell, Buddha card by Connie Hozvicka

The evidence of all these women's tangible influence and support can be found in
my paintings, art journals, writing and photographs. Their wisdom is woven into my life as a mother, creative being and spiritual seeker. While I do not sit physically in a sacred circle, I recognize I am a part of a web of connections spiraling outward, embracing and empowering more and more women.

When I take all of this is, I am pretty amazed. My heart swells with gratitude for so much generosity, grace, honesty and daring. Anne Lamott wrote a wonderful piece about parenting in which she advises a friend:

"There is not much fixing, or controlling, or saving people on this earth. There is only listening, seeking wise counsel, trying to help, and rest. There's only now....As someone once said, or should have, you give them [your children] roots, you give them wings, and you pass it all on. Write it down, one sentence a day if that is all you can do. You'll be an old hand at raising infants at about the time it no longer serves you. Then reach behind you and take the hand of a person with a newborn, and help him or her, as you find that someone with a toddler is reaching for you, who is holding the hand of a kindergartener's father, or mother."

I have reached out for many hands who have helped me navigate over the roots and rocks on this path and I would like to believe I am always reaching back, ready to offer assistant to those following behind me.

This past weekend, I had many hands reaching in to support me and Cowgirl as we prepare for our big project: Painting with a Purpose 2011! I want to finalize all the details before making an official announcement, but trust me it is going to be big. Jump up and down big. Reach out and hug the person next to you big. Lots of art, lots of giveaways, love and glitter being flung all over the internet. Possibly a few coyote yips and definitely some paint will be splattered, cups raised, connections honored.

Can you feel the floor shakin'? Can you feel our hugs coming your way? Get ready ...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's elementary ... (and a summertime treat)

My girl and I possess a lot of fire. In Ayurvedic terms our main dosha or constitution is Pitta (fire and water) with intensity being one of the overriding characteristics. Typically Pittas are focused, determined, driven, and structured but also passionate with a zest for life. When out of balance, Pittas can be aggressive, demanding, bossy, irritable, sharp tongued, impatient, and stubborn.

Did I mention intense?

Balance for Pitta involves cultivating the opposite qualities: relaxed, cooling, soothing, sweet, non-competitive choices in activities, lifestyle, diet and environment. It goes without saying, excessive heat can aggravate us.

Recently Cowgirl and I spent a whirlwind long weekend visiting good friends and attending Chinese Heritage camp. The weekend was packed with fun but it was also intense in terms of activities and social interaction. It was also incredibly hot.

Our final day, we had some time to hang out before heading to the airport. The plan had been for a leisurely day walking around the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, enjoying lunch and savoring the last hours with our friends. Whether it was the cumulative effect of so much fun, the heat or the impending end of our time together, Cowgirl greeted this day with a snarl and her mood deteriorated from there. Getting out of the car she wanted me to carry all 45 pounds of her as we walked along the mall. When I wouldn't (she is almost seven) she groused, whined, and staggered along at a grouchy clip. Then she became hungry.

Oh, by the way, Pittas when we get hungry are not mildly hungry, we are dying from starvation and must-be-fed-now.

I mentioned demanding, right?

Of course, I was also tired and fed up with her mood so there was this domino effect of bad humor all around. We finally ate which lifted her spirits a smidge but not enough to lift mine.

Walking back towards the car, we came upon the splash area on the mall, a favorite spot in previous summers for Cowgirl and her buddy to play. She saw the water and immediately headed over. Still being a Pitta mom (read: controlling) I yelled out "You can play a little ... but don't get too wet!" We had to go the airport and fly home and the last thing I wanted was a soggy daughter.

Or so I thought. Within minutes of splashing in the water, the black clouds that had surrounded my girl all day lifted. Face beaming, arms outstretched and dripping wet, my happy child was back. And watching her laugh and dance through the jets of water, I too was transformed.

Sometimes finding our balance, our place of peace and calm within, can be that elementary. To calm fire, just play in water. To lift a heavy mood, indulge in some lightness and fun. Thank goodness for us Pittas the treats of the summer are exactly what we need to temper the fire: watermelon, ice cream, leisurely days and lots of time in the water.

(She was still drippy when we got to the airport and as she walked through the security screener her socks left wet little footprints across the dark tiled floor - a sight that brought my spirits to a new high!)

For more images of Summertime Treats, be sure to visit 52 Photos Project. Now, go find a sprinkler and have some clean fun!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Inspiration Celebration: hello old friend ...

My body has not always been my friend. Or more accurately, I have not been the best of friends to my body.

As a child I had pretty rotten eating habits. I was a picky eater and dinner was often a bowl of cold cereal. Sugar cereal that is. I ate from one of four food groups: carbs, fats, fruits and sugar. And while I rode my bike and ran around the neighborhood, exercise was a foreign concept.

In high school I developed an eating disorder. I did start eating healthier foods - I discovered vegetables, chose salads over carbs, cut out sugar - I just didn't allow myself enough food. I also became a runner and fitness nut.

While I believed I was finally tending to my body, I was really atoning for the crime of having a body. It wasn't something to befriend as much as something to control, tame or subdue.

When I was in graduate school I had an accident and I broke my neck. I had to spend three months in a halo brace and then months in various cervical collars. While I recognized this "accident" was a call for me to stop living mindlessly - to really wake up to what I wanted to be doing with my life - at some level I believed my body had betrayed me.

Soon afterward this upheaval (I dropped out of school one semester before my qualifying exams, moving to our present location for a new job) I discovered yoga. I began a dedicated practice in which I began to heal my relationship with my body. Or so I thought.

While I tended to my body's needs, cultivating deep listening to its wisdom, I believed I was entering into a new relationship defined by respect and trust. Then my body disappointed me yet again.

The dark secret of miscarriage is the shame one assumes; my body's inability to do what it seeming was designed to do left me feeling deficient or defective and angry with its lack of cooperation.

All these stories came tumbling out of me this past weekend as I worked on my art journal spread for Earth, the first topic covered in The Elements of Art Journaling course with Effy Wild. The prompt was to consider the associations I had with the word earth and from there to look at what words or ideas expressed my experience or sense of my body. The phrase I was to consider being "My body is ..."

phase one of my journal spread ... lots of layers, paint and potato stamp

I actually cheated. While I had lots of images/thoughts about earth, I didn't think too much about my body and its connection to earth. As my page evolved it came time to take a photograph of myself to use in the spread. I had just taught my Sunday morning yoga class, so I naturally assumed a favorite pose.

After 17 years of practice, my poses have changed significantly. My body has changed and my relationship with it has softened. Where once I had been strict and disciplined, I am now more gentle and accepting. I am not interested in pushing my body as much as listening to it. As I photographed myself in Warrior I pose it struck me, my body is a map of my journey. It is my compass guiding and directing me. It has never let me down; rather, I was not listening to the wisdom it was trying to impart: open, relax, soften, trust, find contentment within this skin, within this moment, this life.

My Body is the compass for my journey ... it is my guide, my teacher, my friend ... it connects me to all Life

My body has been my best friend on this journey, putting up with a lot of my crap and abuse and still she serves me with patience and tolerance. My body is my friend; she connects me to earth, to life, to my animal nature and is the portal to deeper truths and a wisdom accessible only through living through loss and gain, pleasure and pain, birth, death and rebirth.

Friday, July 8, 2011

honoring my cycles and rhythms

Silly me ... I just can't seem to accept the fact that while Summer may conjure up notions of freedom, play, no hurries, no worries, life as spaciousness, sunshine and sleeping in that is the reality of a child - yes, my child and my childhood - but not the reality of a mother.

Not that I am complaining ... well, just a tad. I enjoy that our summer days are filled with play - the pool, bike rides, the park, getting together with friends - but it is anything but spaciousness or calm.

So I was watching this wild woman/goddess vlog about working with sacred tools, thinking I really needed to get myself a big 'ole hunk of amethyst crystal and selenite to help me find my way, when I stepped away from the computer (okay, my desk at work) only to return 15 minutes later to find a small praying mantis waiting for me upon my pile of papers.

not this fellow (I didn't have my camera that day)
I actually have an archive of praying mantis images when they previously visited me. obviously, they decided I needed a follow-up visit.

Things that make you go hmmmm?

Like, how in the world did that little guy get all the way into the building, up to the second floor and through another room to end up in my office? As he was lazily waving his arms at me, I knew he traveled the arduous path to bring me a very special message.

Find safety in stillness. Pay attention to my energy flow and how I am using it. Move according to my own rhythms, my own instincts. Most of all, cultivate patience.

floor tile from the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence

While in Italy I was taken by the personal emblem for Cosimo de Medici: a turtle with a sail. The motto Festina lente meaning "make haste slowly." This is me right now. Plodding along slowly, methodically, directed but not rushing.

week one of Elements involves making and prepping your journal.
There is still time to join (but hurry, registration closes July 15)

Last week I started Elements of Art Journaling with Effy Wild which is a 6 week course exploring our relationship with each of the natural elements: earth, air, water and fire along with the fifth element of spirit. The timing of this course couldn't be more perfect as I recognize a need to return to self-care through ayurveda (the sister science of Yoga). According to ayurveda, I am pretty much split equally between fire (Pitta) and air (Vata) the result being I need structure, order, discipline and then I crave spontaneity, change, and lots and lots of mental and visual stimulation. A true see-saw life.

i am working on the opening spread ... taking my time!

Here Mel, the full effect ... while I love my journal (little snippet from goddess leonie i love myself inside and out ) I am honoring my need to just "do it" and not sweat the details.
To see a truly breath-taking journal and read a good summary of the course, check out glitter Queen Mel's pimped out and rockin' work here.

What I am realizing is I have natural cycles or rhythms to my energy and to my interests. In the Spring I was all about writing. Now I am craving deep time with my art journal and painting. I'm sure in a few weeks I will want only to play with my camera. Rather than struggle with what I think I ought to be doing right now (keeping the skills up) I have to honor that when I am so inspired, I will return to that part of my being. What soothed me yesterday was sewing.

"what is it?" you may ask. why it is a name banner/bunting for Cowgirl

it was a lot easier to sew than to try and photograph in its entirety!

Easy to say, but hard for this monkey mind to maintain. My mind jumps in with all sorts of proclamations and judgements about what I could manage. But my spirit knows better. My need right now is earth - solidity, groundedness, centeredness - combined with the flowing, moving, cooling qualities of water. A slow stream though, not a raging river.

Speaking of which ... I do have a little project brewing that defies all these resolutions. Announcements to come soon. But as a teaser, let me just say ...

... we're coming back! This August we will be painting up some arty goodness that we will raffling off for charity! Details to follow. Painting with a Purpose, Season Two with a few juicy surprises and bonus goodies.

And with that, this turtle is seeking a light breeze to guide her on her way. Festina lente, my friends, lente.