Well, not exactly.
I find it vexing that the impulse of Winter - slowing down (who's kidding whom? total inertia!), inward focus, deep rest and quiet - contrasts sharply with the energies of a new year and the directive to start anew with projects, programs, regimens for wellness and health. I know I am struggling over here to emerge out of my cocoon of blankets, sweaters and hot beverages. And while part of me is attempting to embrace (with frozen fingers) this time for reflection, deep listening and receiving of guidance another part of me is crying out for rescue from slothdom. The mind is willing, but the body heavy and slow to awake.
Such is the time when I draw upon the light and inspiration of friends near and far. Seeking sparks of life and energy in others words, work, and life examples, slowly slowly slowly I feel the crusty shell of ice and inertia fracturing, my being ever so slowly moving, awakening. I cannot even begin to name all who lift me up (you may not even know it ... but yes, that dead weight you feel you are dragging just may be me clinging to your back) but I hope you/they know.
I want to honor and acknowledge one of my litter bearers. When my creative sparks ebbs, when my faith in the goodness of the world is tested, I turn to the denizens of Apifera farm and their mistress and voice, Katherine Dunn.
|gestural drawings inspired by Stevie (part of "Capturing the Essence" ecourse)
Writer, artist, channel for the stories of each member of her farm, I discover upon each virtual visit breadcrumbs of magic, wonder, love and celebration of both life and death, as well as the gifts of everyday.
|Moose sock puppet (left) inspired by project in Creative Illustration Workshop (see below link)
In the past few years I have leaned heavily upon Katherine's instruction in art (her wonderful book Creative Illustration Workshop for Mixed-Media Artists and her online course Capturing the Essence) as well as her blogpost chronicling life on her where she nurtures and shares the stories of the goats, pigs, cats, geese and donkeys that she rescues. Theirs are stories of survival, of the endurance of love despite pain, illness and death, and the immense courage and gift of standing clear-eyed in the midst of life's hardest lessons.
Many of my own favorite pieces have been inspired by Apifera and the art of Katherine Dunn.
I want to thank Katherine and Apifera for all the intangible treasures of art and love I zealously gather up and hoard for emotional lean times. I think the very best way to express my gratitude would be to pay forward the gift of inspiration by offering Katherine's latest book Misfits of Love: Healing Conversations in the Barnyard as a special New Year giveaway prize to one of you, my dear readers, who support and sustain me so generously and lovingly. (If you visit the book's link, you can hear a book reading by the author as well as view selected page spreads.)
|sample page spread from Misfits of Love, used with permission from author
I feel particularly proud of this book because in a sense, it was a collaborative effort. Not only between the author and the animals whose stories she shares, but with her audience who supported her quest to bring this book to life, eventually through self publishing and fund raisers.
I am fortunate enough to say I had a small part in supporting this project. It gives me hope to see others supporting art, voting with dollars to sustain a lifestyle devoted to loving care, creative expression and the power of stories to inspire and ignite imagination and acts of compassion and kindness.
And Play. My favorite aspect of Katherine's work is the strong element of playfulness and invention that takes me back to the imagination I knew as a child. Imagination that knows no limits. Imagination that sees possibilities overlooked by tired, adult minds.
But also there is the child's ability to hold both the hard truths within a deeper understanding of the magic and healing such lessons bring.
"He [Giacomo, the donkey] died with my arms around him feeling kindness. His grave is now a place of comfort for visitors, as well as for me.
I truly believe Giacomo knew he was in a safe place where he was ready to rest. And I believe he was meant to rest here. He showed me you can trust even after you've been hurt. I will never forget this creature, and he often comes to me in paintings."
(excerpt from Misfits of Love, used with permission from the author)
Comments will close on Sunday night and I will announce the winner on Monday. Be sure I have a way to contact you. (If you have problems commenting, you can email me at: Lishofmann(at)novia(dot)net.) Share this post on Facebook (let me know!) and your name will be entered twice.
And bonus prize: if you are the lucky winner and choose to continue to pay it forward by making a contribution to Apifera I will make for you a personalized, embroidered bookmark to accompany your prize (Please note: Apifera is not a 501c registered nonprofit organization. But donations are welcomed: "While you can rest assured that each animal will be cared for, fed and vetted as necessary out of our own funds, we are happy when kind people want to slip us a little money to help defray the costs to maintain the barn animals we take on for life." - Katherine Dunn)
Good luck! And help spread the magic!