Friday, May 27, 2011

my dandelion girl

What I want you to know
is you were born
with all that you will need
to survive this life:

loyalty to those
who've earned your trust,
the ability to love
with your whole being
eyes closed, face lifted.

My weed child -
you grow and thrive
with abandon.

Brave dandelion girl,
never questioning your right
to seize what you need;
your gifts -

You unpack the fear
I have carried
stone heavy in my heart;
to journey with you
I've discovered
my wholeness resting
a seed
this very moment
to sprout.

let us take over
this field
carpeting it in yellow,
proclaiming our
courage to be

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

in search of light ... and water ...

This week's theme for 52 Photos Project is water. I have wanted to practice using my SX-70 camera in preparation for a family trip to Italy later this summer. As The Impossible Project film requires oodles of light, my poor camera has been packed away during this Spring of gloom and doom. So on a rare day of sunshine, I excitedly pulled her out and shot the only water nearby ... my kitchen faucet.

What I love - and what drives me crazy - about this film is its unpredictability. You have to shield it when it comes out of the camera and let it develop upside down. It can be very unstable, turning magenta in places where there is a lot of white; eventually it will turn blue. Many of my shots have an insipid baby blue cast to them.

There are lots of discussions on how to work around these problems. You can try peeling the image within ten minutes of shooting it (talk about frantic antics! and I always get chemical goo all over me); you can tape the back with electrical tape (black goo problem); storing the picture upright can slow the blue blobs down somewhat; and now there are drying bags you can store your finished polaroids in that is supposed to help.

The latest talk has been around heating the images while they developed. I foolishly put some shots in a warm oven and got bubbly pictures! But this day being warm and sunny, I shot the pictures into a box and then placed that outside on a step where the sun would heat it. I am really pleased with the results which show better color saturation. Italy should be nice and sunny, so fingers crossed I get some decent shots. (And I have those drying bags just in case.)

Any additional tips for this film would be welcome! It definitely transforms the experience of taking pictures into an adventure. And I am an official card-carrying Pioneer of Impossible film. Perfect for this prairie gal and her cowgirl. ♥

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Inspiration Celebration: being your own teacher

Ten years ago I attended a yoga workshop lead by the world famous yogini Angela Farmer. A friend had given me a copy of her dvd The Feminine Unfolding in which Farmer talks about her journey and specifically how she came to follow and trust her own inner guidance and experience. What struck me was Farmer's use of language, her emphasis upon self discovery through experimentation and encouragement to cultivate the teacher within you.

The workshop exceeded my expectations and was pivotal in my approach to teaching and practicing yoga. Recently, I have come to understand how it is informing my creative and spiritual work. One piece of advice that Farmer gave us and has stuck with me is this:

if you have a choice between taking a class or doing your own practice, always choose your own practice.

Oddly enough, this is pretty a radical departure in how most people practice yoga in our country. Anyone who considers themselves a serious yogi/yogini probably believes they must attend regular classes, follow the guidelines or posture sequence or flow series of the school of yoga that they study. Classes and guidance of an experienced teacher are invaluable but ultimately there comes a time when one needs to tune in to their inner guidance, trust themselves to know what is needed and follow that direction.

The same is true for one following a creative path. And I think this is why is has been difficult for me to wrap my mind around the idea of trying to market my creativity: for me, making art is about processing my life and experiences through creative expression; it is a means of coming to understand myself and my history in a new way. Through the process of creating, I approach emotions, memories, experiences from a new angle, one which generates integration of past with present, often resulting in healing at a deep emotional and spiritual level.

I have found this especially true as I attempt to write poetry. Working on a piece about visiting my father before he died, I found myself remembering the visit from the angle of trying to capture the details: the emotions, the expectations, and the actions. It was like like dumping over a drawer, seeing the contents all jumbled up and repacking them in a manner that makes sense today. Going through that process, I had insight into my motivations that I wasn't aware of at the time. Pulling it all out and putting it together was incredibly healing for me.

Is it art that anyone may want to buy or own? That doesn't matter to me right now. And I'm not saying it is it wrong to try to want to make a living from your work but for what I do, the value resides not so much in the finished product but the journey I take getting there.

I am also discovering how my interest in animal medicine has helped me develop a greater trust of my intuitive skills and of my ability to ask the questions I need to ask and then to hear the answers. While there are guide books and oracle cards to use in practice, ultimately working with this medicine is all about sharpening my awareness, seeing the signs, and trusting my judgement and experience. Just as yoga teaches, the answers we seek are to be found within ourselves and not given to us by another. The relationship is between oneself and Great Spirit. Nothing more is needed.

Yes, as I am, I have all I need to be enough.

These are the ideas that manifested in my pieces for my series 49 by 49:

Cordelia, the celtic fairy goddess of Spring and Summer blossoms counsels to find balance in life by spending time in nature and to stand firm in one's beliefs. She represents the beauty found when one is authentic, blooming in their unique manner and form.

Ixchel is the Mayan Moon goddess and a powerful healer. By practicing Reiki I am tapping into her energy and acknowledging the reality of Unity and Flow within all life including me. This has be a difficult practice for me to accept: for the longest time I did not trust I was doing it right or "getting it." But patience and practice have lead me to understand the quiet power of this work, accepting I too am capable of experiencing its gifts.

Angela Farmer told us anything and anyone could be our teacher and certainly Dog has been a constant guide throughout my life. I think all I need to say is summed up in these lines responding to the prompt golden boy, a piece inspired by my previous springer and my Moose boy:

My golden boy,

you taught me

we always return

to our hearts’ home

but detours are fun,

pleasure is a bone

well chewed,

smelling takes place in time,

guard what is yours,

offer the soft belly of you

to those you trust,

and understand

patience is a prerequisite

for love.

How do you honor the teacher within you? Is that a voice you inherently trust or have you had to cultivate that relationship? Always, choose your own practice, choose yourself.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

mandala madness

Please tell me I'm not the only one who wakes up full of energy, bursting with ideas of things to try, the day ripe with possibilities ...

... and then find myself leaning against the kitchen counter for a half hour, mindlessly shoveling animal crackers slathered in nutella into my mouth with nothing started.

At least they were organic animal crackers.

So it's been that kind of a day. In fairness to myself, the day began at 3:30 when a thunderstorm brought Cowgirl into our bed; an hour later I roused myself to carry her back to bed and at 7 am she shot herself out of bed Evel Knievel-like because today was Dads and Doughnuts at her school. (She enjoys my joke that the school had to use doughnuts to lure the dads inside.)

And that brief glimpse of sunshine? Gone with the dodo and it has been a soaker of a day.

this and the following page when done after watching Flowers are Fun and Decorative Leaf

But what I have been doing this past week - obsessively I might add - is playing with mandalas and doodles. I cannot get enough of them. I need practice to build my repertoire of forms and practice I am doing. I admit, I've browsed the zentangle and zendoodler sites and dabbled some but now I have a fever for the mandala and the only cure? More mandala!

I'm liking the looser approach through watercolors, although the Pigma Micron pen drawings are very soothing and meditative to do. I love my pens so much, I even created a zipper case for them. How's that for love?

I did write my poem for the day - 12 days in a row! I promise to share some soon. In the meanwhile, I would love suggestions for poetry books for kids as I would love to instigate weekly poetry reading/writing sessions with Cowgirl this summer. Perhaps accompanied by some watercolor mandalas?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

prescription: sunshine ✺

I'm not sure what season I'm in ... last week we had the air conditioner on for record-breaking heat; then massive thunder/hail storms and the heater switched back on for the weekend when evening temperatures dropped into the low 40s (that's like 5 degree for you celsius folk.) I keep shuffling my potted plants in and out of the house and even Moose dog required his jacket for a few morning walks.

My mood has been as variable as the weather: energetic highs followed by bottom scraping blahs and bah humbugs. This week's 52 Photos Project prompt is a ray of light. When I read that I admit I grumble-snorted as I pulled my fleece jacket on.

Yet this morning I went to wake up my girl and low and behold: light!

Amazing how taking a few pictures before my morning coffee transformed my mood from ... yes, dark to light. Thank you Mr. Sunshine ... I hope to see more of you in whatever season we are in.

Check out all the sunshiny goodness captured by these amazing photographers. Grab a few rays and observe the effect it has upon your overall well-being. And then, take a picture and savor the experience.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Inspiration Celebration: my life in paint

Still buzzing from this:

"... there is a faith simply in the validity of art." (Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet)

Taking time off ... a random act of self-kindness ... packing up knapsack with paints, pads, pencils and pens, Poemcrazy (a gift from a goddess), new poem journal (can you see my gooseflesh?), apple, pbj, water and granola bar ... driving to the botanical gardens and getting lost for a few hours.

Or was I found?

journal page following prompt from Wild Precious Studios (seriously folks, it is free to join and tons of goodness within ... come over and play!)

Living beneath words, watching for the signs, inspiration found in dreams

and in the middle of my path.

Signs were posted to beware aggressive turkeys as it is mating season; turkey symbolizes the realization that all is one, everything is sacred. Turkey represents giving selflessly because what we do for others, we do for ourselves. Turkey appearing can represent receiving a great gift or the impulse to share. So this amorous turkey was especially eager to bestow his gifts - a beautiful, art-filled day.

Yes, faith reaffirmed. And blessed and celebrated.

Friday, May 13, 2011

fearless vlogging

head still in a fog ...

Riffing on things Mel and Natasha shared ... and trying not to sound arrogant or judgmental. I think the abbreviated version is understanding the many ways we choose to live our dreams and letting go of comparisons or insecurities. Boldly stating "This is for me, I do this because it enriches my experience and that is all the justification necessary."

Yeah, I think that is what I am fumbling for here ... coming to appreciate my dream is big enough and bold enough to hold up and say "this is mine ... isn't it lovely?" I've worked hard to carve out this creative life of mine; it is a work in progress subject to revisions, expansion and demolition. But it is mine and at the end of the day I feel my corner of the world is a little brighter for my presence. Or perhaps I am less grumpy and therefore thing seem sunnier?

So perhaps all that is said here is just another take on the age-old anxiety of feeling I am enough? Which would make this a long exercise in coming to find ease within myself and my choices.

Back to creating and stepping outside of this big brain of mine. Enjoy with a stiff drink ... the video will go faster ...

on fearless dreaming from Lisa Hofmann on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

remember to look down

The prompt for this week's 52 photos project was a natural one for me. Seems I am always looking down, whether it be to navigate the obstacle course of bird poop that materializes on the sidewalks this time of year (no, I did not photograph it!) or looking about while waiting for Moose to investigate a particular juicy smell,

i enjoy believing i live in the city of Om

or searching for signs of Spring's final arrival

I have to take care not to step on sleeping dogs,

and the numerous cars (and dinosaurs) that are waging their not-so-sneaky campaign for total home domination.

What threatens your feet these days? Look down, you might be surprised. (No, I'm not surprised by the dust bunnies gathering as I type ...)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Inspiration Celebration: turtle time

This is my process on Mondays: I know I am going to be writing a post which I won't be able to get to until late in the afternoon. So much of the day I ponder what it is I am going to share and I usually have something pretty well fleshed out in my mind before sitting down to write. And the past weekend being a glorious busy one - a field trip to the nature center with Cowgirl's class, the first true weekend of Spring weather, Mother's day and time to paint, sew, read and write - I had a lot to share. My tendency is to throw everything out at you ... I operate under the assumption get it all out while I still can (I am reminded of the frenzy of activity marking the final days of Van Gogh but I tell myself I am not licking my paint brushes - risking lead poisoning which is one theory on Van Gogh's madness - nor am I subsisting on coffee, bread and alcohol) ... but today I am tired.

Tired in a been-outside-been-squeezing-all-I-can-out-of-my-life good way. But tired. And now I am remembering my encounter with this fellow on Friday:

And how ironic I just made this card for my 49 by 49 series

I had forgotten about turtle. Turtle was the totem that crawled into my life almost 20 years ago, teaching me to understand the times when I needed to declare my boundaries, making myself safe by going within for security. Turtle reminds me to balance intellectual knowing with intuition. Turtle also reminds me to honor my need to slow down, be patience and trust in moving at my own pace.

I also had been thinking about Owls and was deciding to add owl to my series so when I also saw an owl on Friday, I went home and did this piece:

Owl medicine is about magic, the wisdom experienced in the shadows and truths known only through darkness. Owl also teaches me about taking only what I need and keeping clear my intentions, thoughts, and actions. Owl is about seeing in all directions; wisdom and journeying within for clarity and understanding.

I've been reconnecting with guides from the past and realized one of my earliest inspirations was St. Francis of Assisi. I remember bringing home the scholastic books catalog and asking for a book called Brother Sun, Sister Moon. I loved the idea of someone who was so gentle and peaceful, birds would land on his shoulders and deer would eat out of his hands. I think I could relate more to someone who preached to birds and animals than I could understand what the ministers talked about in church on Sundays.

Lots more I wanted to share ... I took the plunge and enrolled in a 21 day poetry writing course ... I talked myself into it by thinking I could stay under the radar and just email my poems to the instructor, by passing the whole group thing and my usual angst over whether I belonged there or not. Go figure, it is such a small group, I have no place to hide! I got the first prompt today and had a mini meltdown. Foolishly I read one woman's piece before writing my own and it was - well, pure poetry to me. I wanted to crawl under my desk. None of the prompts spoke to me, no images or thoughts came to mind. My mind was sucked clean and dry.

And then one sentence flashed by me and I quickly grabbed hold of it. Like building a collage, I placed it down and then added another sentence, another image. The words didn't flow as much as I stacked them one after another until my half hour was up. What I wrote has potential; but more importantly I exercised my creative muscles in a new way and it felt good. After my panic, I remembered to trust in the process and know that no matter what, through it I would grow. Poetry may or may not have been written, but I definitely learned something about myself and my abilities.

But the greatest inspiration of the past few days has been the gifts my girl bestowed upon me for Mother's Day. First there was a celebratory breakfast:

Then the bounty of gifts, including a lady bug garden sculpture

but the highlight was this book card made by my girl:

"my mom paints a lot of beautiful pictures."

"my mom makes noodles for me"

"my mom hugs me"
(i love how she drew the window by her bed with the view of the road and our neighbor's house)

"my mom cuddles me I love her."

I am one happy bunny mama.

i saw all my friends at the nature center: rabbit, turtle, snake, hawk and owl. Brandi, this bunny is for you!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

vlogging ... take 2 ... on dreams and finding my BA!

Look what your encouragement has done ...

recovering dreams from Lisa Hofmann on Vimeo.

Okay, so I find it hard to get the ball rolling on these vloggy things and when I finish I think of a dozen or more other points I wish I had made but well, there you have it.

Today I talk about voicing my dreams, taking action, making change and finding my BA which you will just have to suffer through the first 13 minutes or so to understand what I mean by that! I neglect to mention how I am following my own advice: practicing the ukulele and planning on taking lessons; joining a writing/story telling group (The Storyteller's Village) run by the cartwheeling angel known as Natasha; edging closer and closer to signing up for a online poetry class which begins in 4 days (the price is the only thing causing me to pause but I think I can say BA! to the money gremlins and place my trust in the abundance angels.)

Speaking of angels ... check out the latest podcast by goddess leonie on trusting your intuition ... "if it makes you glow, it is your truth." I believe, oh I believe! And a big BA to anyone who dares to say otherwise.

(update: for a truly inspiring vlog on choosing Joy, my sweet friend Angela has just posted a beautiful piece over on her new blog bloodsugarwitch. I am in awe of her gentle power, graceful wisdom and strength. She is one of my inspirations and a voice much needed in bloggyland. Do go over and say hi. Have a tissue handy!)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

i daydream in color ...

... color being the theme this week over on 52 Photos Project. This is my second week participating and it is the perfect antidote for Wednesday blahs. Especially with today's theme, so do pop over for some more colorful inspiration.

Meanwhile I am loosing myself in sketchbook reveries of the doodling kind ...

i want to live inside the Tea catalog

preparations for the next 49 by 49 card

mandalas and doodles being 2 themes over in the Wild Precious Studio

All the while serenaded by Cowgirl on beautiful blue, her beloved uke.

Wishes for a colorful rest of your week.