Tuesday, August 31, 2010

august 31

It seems like every month, I commit myself anew to living a more mindful life, prioritizing those things that nourish my spirit, fill me up with energy and inspiration and enhance the world of my family. The end of the month often finds me wondering what happened to some of my intentions? But what has shifted for me is a lack of judgment: rather than bemoan where I went off the tracks, I simply start again.

june 10 - 345/365

I guess that is living my yoga off the mat.

Monday, August 30, 2010

august 30

And so another week begins ...

And one proud mommy moment: I had a new tin of watercolors that Cowgirl had begged me to give to her (she has already used up my previous "expensive" set). I just happened to be in Dick Blick's Art Supply store with a coupon (you know how it happens - the car seems to meander into the parking lot and there the store is and since I was already there and had a coupon, I had to go in ...) and I found a new set for myself. So I told her I had a surprise for her and she closed her eyes and held out her hands. I think "squealing with delight" best describes the reaction. Gotta say, I am a proud mama when my girl gets excited over paints.

cowgirl is in her "Rainbow" period

What are you proud of today?

Friday, August 27, 2010

august 27 - weekly reflection (week #33)

When I moved my mother cross country to be closer to us, I inherited a number of boxes of her stuff which we didn't have time to go through before the move. These boxes sit in our basement guest room and I generally keep that door closed at all times. It had been my goal to sort through them this summer but ... well ... best intentions forgotten in the busyness of summer fun.

I did unpack a number of boxes of her sewing materials and stored them in the empty dressers we also inherited upon her move (we have LOADS of drawer space now.) Needing some embroidery thread to finish one of my projects, I started rooting around the many bags, over-sized metal shortbread tins and tote bags looking for the thread. In a beat-up vintage handbag I found this treasure:

I do not remember my mother doing crewel work when I was little. She did more needlepoint than is probably beneficial for any one house (read: many many pillows will be coming my way) and she taught me so that is what I think of when I consider my mother's crafting days. But this humble little piece - the hoop and needle still in place where she stopped - this one made me pause and then marvel. And my reflection for this week is truly that: I've been thinking all day about my mother's quiet talents, the gifts she secretly cultivated and which she also far too easily let slip away.

My mother also sewed most of her clothes while I was growing up. And at 85, she still comes over to use her singer machine that now sits in my basement. She has altered a number of her pants and skirts in addition to piece work for our family. When I told her I had purchased the DIY dress kit for Cowgirl, she rather shyly said "I could make something for her if you want me to." As I type that, tears come to my eyes as I realize my mother never truly appreciated her talents and I, her daughter, I always took them for granted.

What has been gnawing at my mind all day is the fact that we so often overlook and undervalue the gifts of those closest to us. My husband is a very generous, loyal, thoughtful person but I obsess over the daily tasks he seems to regularly overlook. My mother's talents and skills seem unremarkable because, well, she has always been this way and done those things. I needed to call her about dinner tomorrow night and I so mentioned the crewel work. "Oh that!" She replied. Apparently she had been taking lessons to learn the various stitches. When I informed her it would be a crime not to finish it, she told me "oh, you will find lots of unfinished projects." Apparently there are 2 needlepoint stockings (one for Cowgirl and the other for my brother's youngest daughter) she has started "but I just keep forgetting to do them."

I will not let her forget. And I am doubling my efforts not to leave a legacy of unfinished work - dreams, projects, aspirations - for Cowgirl to sort through. In addition to my mother's love of collecting material, I apparently inherited a curious mind and desire to try lots of new things. I did not inherit her patience (in that regard, I am more like my father, not wanting to bother with all the details) but I am more determined and disciplined than most of my family. I guess I inherited determination from Cowgirl. I hope that will carry through to my making her the dress. And I will be sure to seek my mother's expertise in the project. In fact, I am thinking I would rather she sew me a cute little something to wear.

a project i am needing to keep on top of: a page for The Sketch Book Project. And in keeping with the theme of this post, i want to be sure and acknowledge the inspiration of Kristen's work for this page.

Meanwhile, I continue to think about the other things I may over look and undervalue. What about you? How do we build in time to pause and take in all the gifts that surround us? And then make time to verbally say Wow! and Thank You.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

august 26 - still sewing

Not that I would invite anyone to take too close of a look ...

Three projects completed - phew! Double-sided napkins (i hope they will hold up to multiple washings), a tote bag and a draw string gift bag which was a real challenge as my 1962 Singer rocketeer does not have a sleeve arm which means very very carefully sewing around the opening of the pouch (for the draw string) and not sewing the bag together. (Never mind straight rows; I've abandoned any notion of sewing straight!)

So pleased by my progress I took a leap of faith and order a dress kit for Cowgirl. (Thanks Soraya for the suggestion!) Let's home when the descriptions says beginner, it really means remedial beginner!

I just can't resist all the cute fabrics available. My next project is a supplies roll-up for my paint brushes. Come on, don't you want to join me? You sew for me, I'll sew for you? And then we'll drink wine and wipe our mouths on handmade double-sided rick-rack napkins.

Très chic!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

august 25 - cheers!

I'm back on the Green smoothie bandwagon. Back in January I managed to last 21 days on a semi-raw diet and I never felt better. (It was part of the Radiant Goddess course, a phenomenal program if you are looking for a little kick start to healthier, happier living.) Why do I so easily abandon those habits that not only are good for me, but which make me feel so, well, radiant?

After visiting one of my favorite sites for healthy recipes (happyfoody.com) I saw mention of a 30 day green smoothie challenge and always one to take on a challenge, I decided I would start my own. I am happy to report, I am on day 5 of my Green smoothie or juice challenge. My favorite combo (courtesy of goddess Leonie) is this recipe: rice or soy milk, a heaping handful of mixed berries, 1 banana, a handful spinach, splash of maple syrup or agave nectar and a spoonful of Maca powder (power food of the Incans although what did happen to them?) Blend until smooth and enjoy yumminess in a tall glass!

I also like to make mango smoothies for Cowgirl and myself at breakfast: frozen mango (in bulk from Sam's Club), banana, almond milk, and a splash of oj for sunshine in a glass. I also am juicing and a favorite is apple, kale, lime and carrot.

I hope to keep going for the next three weeks at which time I will be interrupting my challenge to attend SAW (Squam Art Workshops)! I planned this trip back in February and cannot believe it is just around the corner. I am excited but nervous. My morning flight reservation got canceled and now I don't get in until 5 pm and still have to drive and hour and a half to the retreat, probably missing dinner but hopefully not getting lost and finding my way to opening ceremonies. I always get anxious before travel; I wish I were one of those people able to travel light but I tend to over pack, fearing I might need something and be stuck suffering without it. I also have this crazy fear about going into new groups, anticipating I will be the odd woman out and left alone Saturday night with no one to go out with me for dinner. Does anyone else feel this way? How do you prepare for travel? How do you weed down what is essential and pack just that? (And if you will be attending SAW next month, will you look for me and be sure to give me a hug?)

So share with me your thoughts and/or favorite green smoothie recipes. Want to join me on a 21 day smoothie challenge?

Oh, and please visit Unraveling Together where my favorite mermaid shot has been posted. And be sure to check out all the amazing photographs of some of my favorite people.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

august 23 - yesterday and today

An album of Family Days going back four years ...

Feeling pretty nostalgic here. Even though it has been four years since our trip to China, the memories of our time there seem very fresh and vivid. Kind of like waking up from a dream and you remember all these details and spend the entire day haunted by the desire to link them all together into a coherent narrative.

Besides the obvious fact that it was the time we became a family, there are so many other aspects that made our time in China a memory that seems to linger and which I find myself compulsively reliving in my mind. There was the jet lag, the culture shock and the surreal experience of being handed your daughter with a "here she is!" and being left on your own. I changed my first diaper and made my first bottle in China. I was pretty green when it came to caring for a young child! We had to make ourselves understood and we had to figure out what this pretty determined little girl wanted and we had to learn fast!

On top of a huge learning curve (no manual and even if there was one, it would have been in Chinese) there was the fact we were surrounded by dozens of other adoptive families in various states of shock. For some, the transition was smooth but there were many - the haunted faces in elevators and dining rooms - who were struggling with sick children and children in the process of deep grieving. It was odd being in a luxury hotel and nothing but strollers, squeaky shoes and families all around you. It was comforting on one level: I learned a lot from other families sitting next to our table at meal times as boundaries broke down quickly amongst the groups. But it was also isolating as everyone was engaged in very private process of attaching while in a public and unfamiliar setting.

Mixed with feelings of elation and joy - the first smile, hug or laugh - was incredible anxiety and fear. Am I up for this challenge? Will she attach to me? Do I have the proper instincts to mother this child? The day after you are given your child, you return to the Civil Affairs office for a series of final interviews where the adoption legal process in China is completed. In one interview we sat at an official's desk while another family in the room answered a series of grueling questions: what kind of education did they have planned for this child? Their schedules? When our official finally looked up, I believe all she asked us was "are you pleased with this baby?"

It was incredibly hot, babies were constantly crying and we nodded yes, signed some forms and were ushered into a new line. (I believe we also were praying Cowgirl would stay calm and not reveal our total ineptitude to soothe her; this did happen the next day when it was time for passport pictures and clearly frustrated by unending queues, cried the entire afternoon.) This was the moment we officially became a family and it was like being in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney.

So like an intense dream full of Alice in Wonderland images, I return again and again in my mind to the events of that time, wanting to create a coherent narrative. I guess I am realizing by its nature, that is impossible. And what made our trip so memorable was the wild range of emotions and experiences underwent in three weeks time. As crazy as it sounds, I loved the intensity of southern China in August; it prepared us for the intensity of our future life with Cowgirl.

An anniversary treat - Cowgirl Unplugged:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

august 22 - memories

Four years ago we came together as a family. Holding you in my arms, I felt like a piece of me that had been lost was finally put back into its rightful place. It has been an amazing journey, every minute of it a gift I treasure in my heart. Thank you darling girl for being who you are and helping to teach me to be myself.

I never tire of this video ... we hadn't seen Cowgirl walk and weren't sure if she had the muscle strength to do so. So these steps, these hugs and first giggles thrilled us beyond belief. And needless-to-say, the next day she ran circles around us. She continues to amaze and dazzle us with her brilliance - and crafty ways!

Happy Family Day dear one. I love you more than every grain of sand on every beach, every leave on every bush and tree, every star in the sky plus one.

Wo ai ni.

(sorry for the poor quality ... a spontaneous moment captured on the fly)

Friday, August 20, 2010

august 20 - clues (and a Weekly Reflection #32)

What in your life is calling you? When all the noise is silenced, the meetings adjourned, the lists laid aside, and the wild iris blooms by itself in the dark forest, what still pulls on your soul? In the silence between your heartbeats hides a summons. Do you hear it? Name it, if you must, or leave it forever nameless, but why pretend it is not there?

- The Terma Collective, "The Box: Remembering the Gift" (quoted in Creative Awakenings by Sheri Gaynor)

What is calling me?

I am trying to cultivate my intuition or rather my ability to discern what is an intuitive prompting and what is fear or my Big Brain trying to sidetrack me. It isn't easy, my brain, she is quick and crafty and a master of disguise. But I am committing to daily practice.

While on vacation, one exercise I created for myself was my Creativity Map. I wanted to revisit and mark down the milestones in my artistic journey. I didn't spend a lot of time on the "arty" part of the spread; I wanted the random application of color to guide me in mapping out my art inspirations and the focus for me was to reflect upon what I now understand are seminal moments in my journey of creative discovery.

This first "map" is really just a beginning. But one thing I took away from it was a realization of how important my mother's creative practices were in creating a foundation for my creative interests. One of my earliest art memories is not of me painting or drawing, but me coveting my mother's box of 64 pristine pointed Crayola crayons. Yes, while I had a large plastic box filled with broken, worn down crayons all mixed up,
my mother had her own set that she kept hidden from me. Yes, my mother hoarded her crayons.

Today, I still go into a mini trance whenever faced with a plethora of art or crafting supplies. I gaze reverently at the display of neatly arranged Liquitex tubes; brush my fingers lovingly across the Caran D'Ache boxes of watercolor crayons; and wipe away the drool that pools at the corners of my mouth whenever standing before bins of hand dyed and colored yarn or stacks of watercolor paint sets.

What is calling me? The desire to loose myself in all that color! To drink in deep the richness, the abundance that is life and merge myself with it. To transform those materials into my own expression of beauty and joy. To join in on the great dance and be willing to shake things up and shed my skin, be vulnerable, raw and new until a new one forms.

What pulls on my soul? To know myself as truly abundant, possibilities endless, connected and on fire.

What calls to you?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

august 19 - first day

Today was Cowgirl's first full day as a kindergarten student! After 3 years of her attending a Montessori school 3 minutes from my work (and a half hour away from home) now she will be 3 minutes from home. I hadn't been expecting the loneliness of my commute without her in the car. Driving home, I was repeatedly saddened to glance in the rear view mirror and notice the empty car seat. But aside from worrying about me missing her ("mommy, you must think about me a lot and then you will be happy!") she gracefully breezed into this new phase of her life. She didn't even want me to come in with her, so I dropped her off at the curb (I think I was the only parent to do so this morning!) and was grateful to see a neighbor boy excitedly waiting for her. (Actually, I could not find a place to park the car it was that crazy and she probably sensed my mounting panic as I circled the parking lot.)

And life goes on. Meanwhile I like this idea of Cowgirl's ...

Rocket ships to take us back to Cape Cod:

and the Fairy who can make it happen:

What transitions are you negotiating these days? If only I could have parked the car, there was a Boo Hoo breakfast I could have attended. Maybe I should stage my own? I've got the maple syrup ...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

august 18 - honesty

When I told my mother I wanted to learn to sew, her sage advice was: Just follow the directions.

I've come to realize the problem is, I hate following instructions.

Ah, honesty - it would save me a lot of time and heart ache. (Lesson learned: if you find cheap cloth napkins, buy them because cutting out perfect sized squares and then sewing in rick rack is no small feat!)

your eyes are not deceiving you - that is 19 cent rick rack from my mother's sewing stash which goes to show some things are genetic ...

And yes, I am in yet another online course which does have some fabulous projects coming if I can get past these napkins. (Never mind that one meal with Cowgirl entails numerous napkins, so which is more environmentally friendly? Running the washing machine or tossing out numerous squares of paper?) And no, I did not call my sponsor before signing into Paypal (hello, my name is Lisa and I am an online ecourse addict.)

Want to join me? The course is still open and thank goodness the projects tutorials will be available for one year. I'm sure I'll still be here trying to cut out these blasted napkins! But next project is a tote bag and a girl can never have enough bags.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

august 17

Rainy day ... time to paint:

"Whenever you allow yourself spontaneous and uncensored expression - whether through song, dance, music or any other creative outlet - you make contact with the inner spark that revitalized every part of you.
" (Painting from the Source by Aviva Gold)

Some art treats I have received in the mail this summer:

I have to agree with all of the t-shirts and mugs, "Life is Good."

Monday, August 16, 2010

august 16 - gifts

On my morning walks, I have been receiving many wonderful gifts from Mother Nature. Always in the middle of the sidewalk, so I am certain not to overlook them. Here is today's offering:

Pay attention! You are only as powerful as your capacity to perceive, receive, and use your abilities.

What is called for here is an intuitive ability to discern the message carried within the cry of Hawk. The shrillness of Hawk's call pierces the state of unawareness, and asks you to seek the truth. (Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards)

(another wonderful texture by Kim Klassen)

Friday, August 13, 2010

august 13/Weekly Reflection (week 31): borrowing words

Last day of our vacation ... packing more than our suitcases as we have one last lovely summer day to soak up the pleasures of Cape Cod.

Each vacation I find myself wondering how I can carry home with me the gifts gained from a week's break from my life: the simplicity of days spent enjoying time together, time outside, time exploring all that is around us. This will be my reflection as we make our way home and back into the busyness of daily life. I hope I can retain this sense of slowing down, prioritizing and mindfully choosing those things that enhance the sense of wonder and joy rather than that which depletes me. No room for worries on vacation and I am hoping I can keep that door shut once we get home.

Since I am on the Cape, it seems fitting to borrow the words of one of my favorite poet who best translates the whispered wisdom of this area to attentive ears and eyes.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

- Mary Oliver

Thursday, August 12, 2010

august 12 - water/sky

sunset at Skaket Beach, Orleans MA

even the ocean

rising and falling all day...

sighing green like trees

- Buson

We are the night ocean filled

With glints of light. We are the space

Between the fish and the moon,

While we sit here together.

I do not cease swimming in the seas of love,

rising with the wave, then descending;

now the wave sustains me, and then I sink beneath it;

love bears me away where there is no longer any shore.

- Hallaj

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

august 11 - bliss

"It is familiarity with life that makes time speed quickly. When every day is a step in the unknown, as for children, the days are long with gathering of experience . . ."

Still having fun ...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

august 10

Vacation Checklist: book, art supplies, cut off shorts, good coffee, sunscreen ...

beach toys:

napping spot:

(view from napping spot)

and lots & lots of ice cream:

CHECK! (yes, we are on Cape Cod.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

august 9

"break free" texture by Kim Klassen

The water is warm ...

The breezes cool ...

Life is good.

Friday, August 6, 2010

august 6 (and a retreat reflection)

If I can only do one thing right now, what would that be?


That's my reflection and summation for this week.

Enough said ... back to my retreat ...

stage one of my painting for BIG: "How does it feel to be me?"

my goddess & i are resting ... waiting to see what happens next.

Oh, I did take a break to drive downtown to watch the Tibetan Monks of Gaden Shartse Monastery working on a colored sand mandala dedicated to Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

Cowgirl enjoyed trying out the techniques herself.

Okay, seriously, all that color has me itching to paint (and to spurge on some new colors!)

What one thing do you want to do right now? Why aren't you doing it?