Friday, May 30, 2014

soul ℞

Days full with family,work, play, and gardening leave me satiated but also depleted energy-wise.  When I find my mind spinning, my attention anywhere BUT where I am, I know it is time for a dose of much needed self-care:

Clearing my head and calming my nerves ... I think I must have been a china plate painter in a past life, the act of filling in small spaces with colors and shapes is incredibly soothing.  I cannot hurry ... I must go slowly ...

Tending to all my senses is how I find my way back to myself.  For immediate emotional and/or energy shift, I turn to scents.  The very best soul medicine I've been blessed to experience are blended oils by this plant goddess:

Special treats arrived today and we both are captivated by the scent stories in Hummingbird (a beautiful ruby red botanical blend including rose and jasmine) and Mountain Lion (sunshine and courage in a roll-on!)  After a long and steamy Midwest week (sadly, my favorite seasons - spring and autumn  - seem to be vanishing under the assault of long winters and summers) the sweet grass blessing cream has me blissed and chilled out.  (Meanwhile, I ration out Owl and Deer - two other blends that keep me inspired and grounded.) 

Blissed and blessed.  All that is required is a little time, adding color, air, light and breathing in deeply.  Very deeply. 

(Full disclosure: I am not an affiliate for The Gatheress; I am a fan and happy addict of all that she crafts and as a lover of fragrance want to say that her botanical blends are nothing short of artistry, magic, and olfactory heaven.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

distracted (paying attention)

Spring draws me outdoors and thankfully, out of my self.  More precisely, the activities of spring distract me from habitual pursuits of navel-gazing. 

 I am hopeful for my new garden boxes.  This past weekend we filled them with tomato and pepper plants, a Japanese eggplant and lots of herbs: cilantro, basil, sage, rosemary, chive and prairie onion.  I've also filled pots with mint, lemon balm, and thyme.  Each year I marvel at my vast collection of terracotta pots and slowly fill them with geraniums in as many colors as I can find.  It is my garden center scavenger hunt.

Meanwhile, Cowgirl and I stay busy watching the progress of the two robins' nests situation on the drainpipe and outdoor lights of our neighbor's house.  (We have a nest of grackles tucked way up high under one of our roof lines.) 

 These baby birds keep us on our toes.

In recent months, I've become aware of the necessity of carrying my new(ish) reading glasses with me ... seems to be a trend towards smaller print these days.  A rare excursion to buy new shorts (I tend towards mail order ... never have to leave my house!) found me in a fitting room wondering about the poor quality of modern lighting (candlelight being much more soothing and energy efficient, don't you think?) ... those lumpy masses in the mirror couldn't be my legs?

It seems my eyes prefer spring-time sights.  Even my painting seems to be youth-oriented:

My handsome boy as he appears to me.  I'm certain I appear equally vibrant and bright-eyed to him.  

It isn't the dog days of summer just yet, but with school out (!) it is all I can do to keep tap dancing through my days.  Squeezing in time to write, paint, sew, and garden ...

while keeping one Cowgirl busy will either prove to be my secret youth serum or what brings me to my knees. 

Either way, I will have good company. 

(Moose has started therapy for low thyroid function and has moments of perkiness!  There is still some issue with his bloodwork,  but x-rays did not reveal anything "too awful" according to our Vet who is mildly concerned.  Of course, I tend towards the anxious end of the spectrum, but am following my boy's lead and attempting to chillax.)

Friday, May 23, 2014

playtime (finally, friday)

It's hard to believe - school's out for summer!  Where did the year go?

I am looking forward to many such days of play ahead of us ...

 and the discoveries and adventures that await eager and attentive eyes ...

... and hearts.  

Happy weekend. May the days ahead be find you dancing in sprinklers, baptized by garden hoses. 

(Welcoming prayers, Light, positive vibrations, healing energy for my dog boy ... may the path ahead - uncertain as it is - be easeful and free of suffering)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

retreat (and listen)

If I were to identify the one constant yearning that tugs at my soul, it is for spaciousness. 

Naturally, my unconscious tendency is clutter.  Clutter or filling up. Filling up my time with activities; my mind with thoughts; my day with chatter; my table with projects; my bedside with books; and if I wasn't wearing these invisalign braces, I would be wanting to fill my mouth with nibbles. 

Moving towards quiet or spaciousness is an ongoing practice for me.  Filling up is all fine and good when it is balanced with emptying out and when the filling is done mindfully.

Last autumn I had a daily practice of sitting in my garden.  Not meditating, not journaling or drawing, not counting my breaths.  Just sitting and being.  Feeling the air on my skin, listening to the birdsong, attempting to be part of the landscape rather than a spectator or visitor moving through it.

The Power of Love Temple

This past weekend I had an opportunity to deepen that practice.  A friend who had recently moved out of state, returned for a visit.  She returned for a much needed "Hug Fest Retreat."  Gathering at a beautiful spot out in the country, seven of us came together for 26+ hours. It was a time to be with sisters (old and new) but also time to be with ourselves.

The first morning we each drew an oracle card for the weekend.  Appropriately, my card instructed me to Listen. A gentle but direct reminder for me to monitor my own talking.  Did I really need to hear what I already know?  My spiritual inspiration, Swami Kripalu, wisely said "Before speaking, consider whether it is an improvement upon silence." 

I've also understood that I need to empty myself of surface chatter - the rantings and ravings of my small self - so that I can hear the voice of my intuition, heart, and deeper self.  

But you know, sometimes the best guidance is also the most obvious.  A night in my tent reminded me I tend to over-complicate things.  Listen.  Listen to the wind blowing the rain fly. Listen to the barred owl call across the night sky.  Listen to the sounds of the night's residents scurrying about me (and thankfully, not joining me!) And at 5:45 am, I listened to the orchestra of birdsong that shook me wide awake.  Crows and jays, turkeys and cardinals, mockingbirds and finches, mourning doves and goodness knows what else loudly and emphatically declaring their place in that morning, in that field, and in that day. 

The performance lasted a good half hour before the volume knob was turned down.  Then only the neighboring cows added their coda of moos to the morning song. 

I listened to all of it and I experienced myself as one among many that night.  It was disquieting at first ... feeling myself out of place ... realizing that all too often my experience is one of separation rather than connection.  While this is the spiritual journey of Yoga, it is also what I believe is at the heart of our planet's environmental disaster: humankind believing itself to be apart from Nature.  

I don't want to live in this false dream of separation.  I want to honor connection. I want to honor my place in the vast web and I want to celebrate this gift - this life - of belonging.

I can do this by listening.  And by lifting my arms to connect and to receive.

All this from one weekend.  Filled with friends and nourishing food, I return to my home filled in a way that sustains and supports me, so that I may in turn support and feed those around me. 

The best food ... the best drink ... is infused with, and becomes, love and creative expression.

A little dragon infused water does provide a nice "kick" to one's energy. And so I go into my week, refueled, plugged in, and open to what may come my way.

Jai Bhagwani xo

(the traditional phrase would be Jai Bhagwan: I honor the Light within You. With my friends we use the feminine form of Bhagwan: Bhagwani. It is honoring divine as Mother/Sister/Daughter)


Friday, May 16, 2014

* finally, friday *

so this is how you swim inward,
so this is how you flow outward,
so this is how you pray.
- Mary Oliver, excerpt from Five A.M. in the Pinewoods

This is how I pray ...

Tell me: how do you pray?

Congratulations to the Boundaries Boot Camp winners: Carrie & Renee.  I've contacted you for your information.  Thank you everyone who entered.  Please know if you didn't get in and want to be there but cash flow is an issue, Pixie offers scholarships!  For more information and to apply, go HERE.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

wordless (almost) + {mother's love}

Strange sensation came over me this past weekend ... a realization that I am utterly and truly, deeply content.  

Oh, there are dreams still poking and prodding me forward along with ensuing gremlins, with occassional mini bouts of anxiety requiring chocolate-sedation. 

But at my core ... yikes! ... I am simply delighted by life. My life. This life. 



Glass more than half full ... it is spilling over.  But that is how I like things: messy and bubbling with still-to-be-discovered possibilities.  

And best mother's day yet ... coffee in bed, a new bookmark (the pile by the bedside is growing ... do I qualify for a sabbatical?), garden flowers and my girl missing a new tooth (a new offering for the fairy circle)  


Every day, more icing added to the cake ... 
Yes, it is good

Friday, May 9, 2014

simply close the door (thoughts on boundaries + giveaway!)

I was about thirty when I first learned about the concept of personal boundaries.  It was a pretty pivotal moment, I suppose because I didn't have any real boundaries.

As my therapist explained, I was like a house with many doors and windows.  When someone has healthy boundaries, they determine who or what is allowed to enter the house; they control the opening of doors and windows.  In my case, my "house" self had no glass in the windows and the doorknob were on the outside!

The renovation of my house - of me! - is a continual and on-going process.  Just as I installed proper doors and deadbolts with my family of birth, I became a mother.  This new terrain is challenging. I want the best for my girl and I know all-too-well the ease - and the danger -  of projecting my tendencies, my desires, my fears upon her.  She is her own person but balancing the task of guiding, providing, and safe-guarding with an understanding of when it is necessary to let go, allow, release is a tricky thing.  

I share what I love with her, not in the hopes of grafting her life upon mine, but with the intention of her crafting a life lived with passion, curiosity, sense of power and creative possibility.  

we created a water wheel in celebration of Beltane; our wheel was made from chalk, crystals, & stones

we added birdseed, cornmeal, lavender and our prayers and songs to activate the wheel

Sometimes I am not thrilled with her choices: Nintendo DS (I don't even know what the DS stands for), Pokemon cards, Beyblades, Ninjago ( I sense a trend here with pseudo-Japanimation) but as a kid I too binged on some junk entertainment before discovering real nourishment.

THIS thrills me: her enduring passion for dragons (and new love of riddles)

Just as I impose commonsense limits upon sweets (one sweet a-day) while offering healthy options, my hope is she will understand it is in her power to make good choices.  

At her school, they introduced a concept of bucket-filling, and bucket-dipping.  A good friend is someone who fills your bucket through words, gestures, and actions.  A bucket-dipper is someone who is hurtful, rude or disrespectful.  The worst thing you can be, according to Cowgirl, is a bucket-dipper.  But I've tried to point out to her that if someone is dipping in her bucket, she has the right and the responsibility to cover her bucket

Or in my case, to simply shut the door.  

There is so much more to learn and share.  I am excited to be able to offer 2 spots in Pixie Campbell's upcoming online offering Boundaries Book Camp with Mountain Lion.  I can think of no better way to define, clarify, understand and strengthen boundaries.  This  two-week intensive with daily prompts, media and interactions is 

 about building stronger communities, relationships and partnerships through the superheroic gesture of protecting ourselves from others’ psychic debris, and protecting others from ours. Clarity of awareness and loving language emphasized.

I will be there, gathering ideas and tools to pass on to my girl-cub ...

tools for our ceremony, including this song

I will be drawing 2 names from comments on this post and on the accompanying facebook thread.  (If neither work for you, please email me lishofmann(at)novia(dot)net and I will enter you into the drawing.)  I will announce the winners next Friday (May 16) so be sure to leave you name before then! Make sure I have a way to contact you.

Boot camp begins May 19.  Get ready to step fully into your power, your voice.

Monday, May 5, 2014

for the record (revenge of a nerd)

I'm here to set the record straight ... and while I love this woman, a rebuttal is required. Yes, yes, she is a writer and therefore prone to wild fantasies spun by a robust and creative mind, but this - 

funny story:  when i first discovered Lisa's blog, i was awe-struck. as far as i was concerned, she was a Famous Internet Person (she still is). 

i thought she was/is one of the Cool Kids...

 This tall tale needs to be brought down to earth.

Dear friends, dear visitor/reader/scanner o'blogs I am not, nor have I ever been in the category of cool. 

Not that I didn't aspire to cool-ness.  I have collected a vast array of once-cool accoutrements: I had the platform sandals (worn with rainbow striped socks), tie-dye denims, the extra piercing in one ear (I never mastered the art of an odd number of earrings), a now faded and blurred tattoo, over-sized Ray bans (not good for a narrow face), track suit (it was lime green), big hair (hey, I am from Jersey, it was required!), leg warmers, harem pants (by default banning one for life from any cool-dom) and of course the flash dance ripped sweatshirts (to my credit, I never wore a head band.)

Which is to say, I discovered (after many failed attempts) that clothes do not cool make. 

I suppose by ceasing and desisting in my efforts, by discovering I could only be me - whatever that may involve - I may have gained a modicum of cool.  All those other cool-trappings, they weren't comfortable, they felt false, they never made me feel like I fit in.  It was when I stopped trying to be someone I wasn't, when I decided to embrace who I am and see my struggle to belong as an opportunity to accept and love myself, then cool became irrelevant. 

Well, sort of.

Make no mistake, it is an on-going practice.

I mean, we all aspire to be recognized, appreciated, and to feel welcomed by the pack.  I ask my girl if she thinks it is important to be cool.  "No ..." she replied. "It's better to be yourself."

may she always remember to be herself; here she is with her design for a mini-Boden catalog ... I know, too cool for school

Which means ALL my friends - and myself most of the time - are inherently and without exception, cool.  So I am confused ... I guess I am retracting my rebuttal? 

And because it is looping around my brain and feels like the right vibe to wind things up: 

It's all too much for me to take
The love that's shining all around here
All the world is birthday cake
So take a piece but not too much ...

(the one immensely cool thing that happen to me as a kid: my babysitter, Martha Mack, took me to the movie theater to see Yellow Submarine)

To borrow from another song ... if you can't be with the one you love honey, love the one you're with ...

Friday, May 2, 2014

slow down people! (finally, friday)

I have spent the past week working in the library at Cowgirl's school, surrounded by third, fourth and fifth graders  - lord have mercy on my soul, it was Scholastic Book Fair

Yesterday, I accompanied Cowgirl's class on a field trip to visit Arbor Day Farm and learn about trees, bees and local ecology.  It was ridiculously cold (but thankfully, not raining; still I had to dig out my winter coat, hat and scarf) and we spent most of the  day outdoors. The majority of the week has felt like this:

Whenever I could, I turned away from the melee to seek out this:

If I had a message machine embedded in me, you could pull the cord and this is what you would hear:

Slow down people!
Look again ... no, really LOOK!
Pay attention, someone  is trying to tell you something!

As kids went tearing through the woods, they missed the woodpecker, the cardinal, the deer tracks with tufts of hair indicating a resting spot. Whenever one slowed long enough for me to point these things out, the response was always "cool!"  The desire is there, it's just hidden a barrage of noise, flashing lights, and blurred actions.

As I watched a group of third graders pounding the buttons on the interactive kiosk (hello?!  It's not a Nintendo ... ), I found myself remembering Cowgirl as a toddler banging on the keys of a quickly broken and no-longer-musical toy.  Same impulse control ... or rather, lack of. 

This is what we - and I include myself here - are doing: we are fostering a generation of impatient, inattentive, distracted, insensitive, unimaginative and disconnected children. They are not to blame; they are the product of our distraction, our disconnect from what is valuable: time, space, and permission to just be.  Just be, as we are, as this moment presents itself, in tune with our surroundings, alert, attentive, receptive and open. 

As we say in Kripalu yoga: Breathe. Relax. Feel. Watch. Allow. 

It's not going to be easy, stemming this tide of cultural ADD. It may require some sort of swaddling.  My approach is  earlier bedtime: time together to cuddle, read, and just unwind. 

Just being  ... slow, quiet, relaxed, fully present.  

Or deeply asleep ... deeply dreaming.

Rest my friends, we all need to slow the heck down!