Friday, June 27, 2014

vacation memories (finally, friday)

Luxuriating in the memories from our family vacation ...

It was an overcast day with occasional drizzle/rain and a high of 57 degrees ...

 But she didn't notice any of that ...

Lessons in how to approach my day. 

(yes, she got a cold and no, I don't believe it was from this ocean play but from the airplane ride; regardless this day was worth the sniffles and river of tea)

(Excited to announce this summertime play opportunity ... easy peasy, so join with me!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

my pilgrimage (to be blessed by a goat)

Oh, the gifts and the travails of travel! I am still sorting myself out after ten days away from home.  My family and I traveled to Portland area for our summer vacation adventure and I stayed on for a few days to be with my SouLodge sisters as we deepen our understanding and practice of self-healing through shamanic practice. 

As always, travel is a time to experience oneself and one's family from a different vantage point. Travel challenges (delays, mad dashes through long airports, illness, less than optimal weather) bringing into relief less savory aspects of personality and skill (or lack of) in handling stress.  Yet even when tempers flared, patience crumbled and immune systems weakened, there was a spiraling back in to each other for comfort and recalibration.  It was an opportunity to fine tune my "to do" list when it comes to inner work and adjusts in family relationships.  At one point I did utter "can we all try to be little kinder to each other?"  Remembering that kindness begins with myself ... I see much opportunity for growth as we land back home and look towards strengthening communication and care.

But what I am wanting to share  ... and to unravel for myself ... is  a tale of pilgrimage and the blessings that came by way of a goat. Well, several goats ...  donkeys ... a miniature horse ... and falling cats ...

It was no accident that our family vacation had us landing in Portland the day before Pino Pie Day at Apifera Farm.  I have dreamed of visiting what has been a magical place in my heart and imagination.  The blog, the books, the videos and artwork of Katherine Dunn have been inspirational to me as I find myself giving expression to my deepest dreams through my home, my work, my life.  For me, Katherine's work - her art but more importantly the Farm and the resident Misfits -  blend my own childhood fantasies with real possibilities for crafting My Life.  

So the journey to Apifera and Pie Day was a true pilgrimage on my part: a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance ... to be healed or have questions answered.

In my case, to uncover the question - how may I fully embrace this life I've been gifted? And then to be given a glimpse of what is possible.

I am not ready to name what remains unformed in my heart and mind. Right now, all I know is I see my path in a bit more detail and with more conviction on my part to stay the course.  And to let flower the wildest and deepest and truest of my heart's yearnings, gathering up the dreams from way way way back and seeing the possibility for them to take root and thrive. 

So here is a mini version of the journey, should you be fortunate enough to make it one day ... it begins with following a path, simple is best  ...


Reading the signs  ...

Being on the look out for the hidden messages, or the ones lower down ...

Availing oneself of what is offered ...

Receiving it ...

Pausing frequently for gratitude ...

Indulging in the sweetness...

 In its many forms ...


 Of course, The Man articulated what I know to be true: 

At its heart, the journey of each life is a pilgrimage,
through unforeseen sacred places that enlarge and enrich the soul.
I left Apifera my heart and creative spirit enriched and enlarged.

Magic is all around us, but most importantly it rests within. It patiently awaits our discovery and the act of transplanting it into the world for all to see and in turn be inspired.   

Fittingly, as I was writing this post, I heard a gentle thump on my doorstep.  It was the postman leaving me my fresh-off-the-press copy of Donkey Dream: a love story of Pie & Farm. Opening the book, I smile upon seeing  the handwritten inscription "Keep Dreaming." 

when i sent to say my goodbyes to Stevie, he slowly lowed himself with a gentle sigh ... as i rubbed his cheek, his eyes closed and soon he was napping ...

Operation: Dream Big has been awoken.  All I needed was a kiss ... my handsome prince being a dapper goat ... with a few burps added for good measure.  Blessed be. Blessed I am. 
Never stop dreaming. For when any creature stops dreaming their wings shrivel and their hearts begin to slowly retract. Their hooves, feet or shoes become heavy, and they cease to see the beauty of their own reflection in the ice covered pond.
-Katherine Dunn, from Donkey Dream
Thank you Katherine, thank you Misfits of Apifera for the much-needed nourishment of dreams, spirit, & heart. And infinite gratitude for the dear friends who traveled with us that day, making it even more magical and fulfilling.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

summer sketchbook camp (preview)

Couldn't wait to share ... something fun, easy, and deeply satisfying amid the busyness of summer play time ...

Details and sign up available HERE.  It is designed to be easy to follow and on the wallet, and crafted to give lots of inspiration, ideas, support and encouragement for what is a simple, but profoundly rewarding practice.

Start gathering your pens, pencils and paints! Camp begins July 21!

Monday, June 16, 2014

sacred work

What may be simple crafting to one person ...

can be deep soul work for another ...

Each set of prayer flags is a practice of meditation, opening to intuition, and inviting spirits and guides to present themselves to me. I play with images, making my own stamps;

 and collage fabric bits to create appliqué designs. 

In the past few months, I've been making flags for some special sisters of mine.  Some I know better than others, so each set of flags has been my private way of connecting with each person. 

my original flags were for One Word or Yearly Intention themed

I marvel at the way story is create through a few squares of fabric; how each piece unfolds in a way that I could never plan or predict, but always seems perfectly fitted for the recipient. 



My own flags hang both indoors (I've been making new sets for each season) ...

and outside

The outdoor flags carry my written prayers to the universe ...

and my midwest wind quickly does its job ...


It's been awhile since I've taken orders for custom flags. I am so enjoying this experience, I am offering to create custom 5 flag banners for sale for a limited time this summer. I'm a working mama, so I cannot guarantee immediate turn around.  If you are interested, shoot me an email: lishofmann(at)novia(dot)net.

Of course, the best thing would be for YOU to pull out your supplies and discover for yourself the depth and magic of this practice!  I'm happy to answer any questions.  I would love see what others create!

May we fill the skies with our prayers ...

Friday, June 13, 2014

camp invention (finally, friday!)

It was a good week.  

upcycled battery operated car, created in Camp Invention

Possibilities truly abound ... all that is needed are rubber bands, feathers, a few wires, boundless imagination and the willingness to try.

Lessons learned by all.  An exciting summer ahead ... dare I say, it shall be the "Summer of Creative Joy Warriors."

Monday, June 9, 2014

done with fixin' (and being fixed)

I am blessed to be part of an amazing women's circle that meets monthly at my home. We have been meeting for - gosh! - over two years now? 

lots of tea and conversation happens in circle

It is fascinating to observe the cycles we each have moved through, and to tease out the common threads and themes in our lives.  Some of those areas are: finding work that is meaningful and connects us with deeper purpose than making a buck;  connection and sense of place in community; understanding and valuing the work of creating a home and caring for family (children and aging parents); finding comfort and ease in our own process of changing, aging, and deepening into the wisdom that journey provides; and crafting personal spiritual practice that is  authentic, vibrant, and vital.

This past gathering as I listened to each woman in the circle sharing her story (council style sharing: one person speaking at a time, no interruptions, no commentary from the others; just being heard and witnessed by the group), I had a mini epiphany.

Actually, the night before while brushing my teeth I received the first flash of a very dangerous thought: I'm done with self-improvement. 

Like the home renovation shows that Cowgirl and I like to watch, the process has come to feel like a constant sledge hammer to internal walls and out-dated fixtures.  Ripping out, adding in, only to tear myself apart again ... and again ... all under the guise of coming into my fullest, truest, authentic expression of self.

While scrubbing my newly straightened teeth (yes, my self transformation has been both structural and spiritual) I realized: this is it and I am there.  With all the efforting to create the life I believe I was born to live, I am overlooking the fact that I already am living my life.  Living a damned good one at that!  I am not a project to bring into some elusive state of perfection, but a living expression and extension of the Universal creative force.  It's not a matter of doing anything to bring about growth or change; actually the more I try, the more I get in the way of things.  

my dream that night: tigress is always resting right by me ... i just have to lean into her, trust and receive

As I've often heard in Yoga, it's not a doing but an undoing.  What is required isn't effort so much as releasing my death grip upon things - my infantile attempt to control - and relaxing into the life that is happening while I busy myself with hammers and saws.

In our circle, I came out with a variation upon this theme: what if we entertain the idea that there's nothing we need to fix?  What if we accept our lives, and the people in our lives, as is?  Which is not to say we don't hold aspirations, that we want to continue to learn and grow and evolve in positive ways, but we open to that growth, we open to our individual evolutionary path.

I know this sounds dangerously naive or head-in-the-sand-ish ... I don't mean to imply that there isn't some seriously shitty and harmful and dangerous stuff happening in our world that requires change, that demands we take action ... it's just the attitude of fixing, the restlessness of "not enough" and the culture of constant and continual up-grading makes me feel like a dog ever and always chasing her tail. 

I can only attend to myself.  What if the violence stops there?  What if I embrace myself and my life as is in this moment and proceed from there?  What if I cease the fixing, tinkering, adjusting and attend instead to what fills, nourishes, augments and enlivens me? As I learned in Flora Bowley's painting classes, build upon what is working rather than pouring energy into fixing what isn't working.  

The not-so-subtle message we've received for far too long is this: something is missing, you are incomplete or lacking in some way BUT here's what will fix you ...

I'm done with being fixed.  And I vow I am done trying to fix myself or anyone else for that matter. As I am, I am enough.  This life of mine is more than enough.  I want to appreciate and enjoy it and that is hard to manage if I am continually sledge-hammering it - and myself - down to the studs.

All I need is right before me ... under my nose or sleeping by my feet.  Waiting for me to wake up and pay attention ... 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

dog days

My stars, where did this week go?  I confess, I come to this space to touch that part of me that feels enduring, that tastes of my essence, that holds space for my dreams.  Sometimes it is easy to share stories from my days; like plucking ripe fruit and savoring.  Other times, it is hard to find me.

It has been a challenging week.  I could lay blame upon the weather ... the build up by the local news for storm system that threatened - and proved - to be severe. 

As much as I hated living in earthquake country, the hype around storms here is akin to blow-by-blow reports of an invading army. It is hard maintaining an even keel when all about you are screaming "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"  The girl and I did what we could do: offer prayers for protection and support from the local fairies, dragons, and spirit protectors.  We walked the perimeter of our yard scattering herbal offerings, smudging with sage and chanting.  My neighbors are getting used to us and our "usual" ways.

But storms aside, I have to be honest and acknowledge that summer (or summer-like weather) is and always has been my challenging season.  When all around me is activity, sunshine, and go-go-go my tendency is to want to seek a quiet spot, preferably in the shade and read a book, sipping iced tea.  What trips me up, is questioning myself: what is wrong with me? Why no ambition?  

Yet I know this is how I feel every year.  My already hot disposition requires cooling off.  Less is more is a lesson for me year round, but especially now.  I believe I ought to be able to do more, fill the days with activity the school years doesn't allow, yet the truth is, we all need this time to empty out.

What I want to remember for myself, for this time with my girl, is to allow ease into our days.  In these bright, sunshiny days there is more to receive: the songs of the birds, the bounty of our garden, the space and time to cut loose, relax and enjoy.

I sat down to write this post with a dark cloud over my head.  But sitting here, allowing myself to be with my experience (not pushing it away, not denying, not questioning) something has shifted.  Or rather, I just shifted.  Releasing this inner battle with my dark dog allowed me the space to look up and see the first butterfly of the season visiting my hanging planter.  

Message verified and received. 

The days ahead fill up without me having to add any more ... martial arts, pool, our neighborhood garage sale (ah, divine decluttering ... but it has an energetic price!) it's all I can do to fling some tuna salad on a plate, gather the girl and keep going.  Honoring my inner rhythms and tides, recognizing this is my outflow time, and lazy is the new self care.

Perhaps not lazy ... but blissfully simple and elemental.  Grass (grounding), deep breaths (air), letting go of judgment (grace), and surrendering to play (flow).  I swing wide and wild this time of year, so I need to honor the pull towards the  extra space to allow myself to be ... to thrash and roll without getting hurt by rigid expectations or limitations.