Thursday, March 19, 2015

Long Time Gone

And it has been a very long time indeed. I feel like I've been hibernating for ever so long. Last winter and through the spring. I briefly woke to write a single post in June after attending Squam Art Workshop in New Hampshire, on the shores of Squam Lake, and then fell back to sleep. Writing of any kind (except for work), took a very long hiatus. And now, here on the last night of Winter, I start again. Well, I hope to start again.

I have not been a total slacker. There's been the random knitting, the random photography, the random drawing and painting. But nothing big, nothing unusual, nothing consistent. And then...then something happened to break most of my creative blocks free. On a bit of a whim, I started taking specific flower essences as part of a six-month course called Flowerevolution by Lotus Wei. I've taken flower essences before, but never noticed any big changes. Maybe I didn't take them consistently. But this time? There was change, and it was big. Knitting projects flew off my needles! Seriously, I finished more projects between October and February than I had finished in the last couple of years. I started painting again (I didn't start writing again). I started working with a potter friend to make wool appliqué coasters and trivets to complement her pottery. Math became easier; I actually saw what was happening with the numbers in a knitting pattern!**

Did the flower essences remove the creative blocks? Perhaps. Perhaps it was just coincidence. But I also became more confident in my creative Self. I don't think I would have even dreamed of making a single example of an art form I had never done before and submit it to a juried show. I'm teaching myself to draw and to paint with watercolors. I feel like fear and self-imposed limits (I can't; I don't know how; it's too hard; I'm not good enough) have started to dissolve. And I discovered again that in order for me to be truly happy, I need to create, to design.

April promises to be an interesting month. I joined Susannah Conway's April Love 2015, a two-part challenge where the theme is LOVE: Love for ourselves, our lives, the world around us. And LOVE expressed in gratitude and kindness. (Those are Susannah's words.) There are daily prompts for photography and daily emails to inspire.

And on the weekend of April 18, I'll be sharing my friend's pottery booth at the Leesburg Flower and Garden Show. It's my first juried arts and craft show! Actually, it's my first arts and craft show, period. Will my work sell? Stay tuned.

So now, it's off to bed. It's supposed to snow tonight and tomorrow, a delightful Spring snowstorm. Despite that I'm tired of Winter, I still get excited over the prospect of snow.

**I suffered a major math trauma in the fourth grade and it has dogged my existence ever since.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

No Longer Slumbering

It was a difficult winter for me, which was not caused by anything in particular. I simply felt that I was sleeping the winter away. Every now and then I'd wake up and think "Soon...soon it will be time for Squam!" and then fall back into my sleep state. Creativity was not happening for me.

And so, last Tuesday I packed the car with knitting, spinning, and drawing supplies, and drove northward. I spent the night in Amherst, as I always do, and on Wednesday morning started the second leg of the journey. As I turned onto Squam Lake Drive, I turned off the music, rolled down the windows, and inhaled the pine-scented air. I arrived and could feel my heart and soul begin to shift, to awaken and open to what the week would hold.

After moving into my cabin, I returned to Greenwood Lodge to help Kaitlyn and the other Squam Angels with registration. It's such a joy to see everyone as they arrive and more of a joy to make them feel welcome. With each new arrival, it felt like the smile on my face was getting bigger and bigger, until it felt like my face would split in two.

The Squam energy is different every year. This was my fourth Spring Squam and this year, it felt more relaxed, more familiar, and surprisingly, less introspective. It was easier to arrive, to sink in, to be. My cabin mates were very laid back, and the evenings were spent in quiet conversation, knitting and spinning by the fire. The yarn bombings were spectacular, showing up in the most unlikely places.  The projects on the In Process table were stunning in their beauty and creativity.

I opted to take Amy Gretchen's Narrative Truth to help improve the quality of my photography. I'm so glad I did! Amy's photography is full of mood and emotion and she shared tips and techniques so that we could start working on adding mood and emotion to our photographs.

My second class was Estonian Lace Knitting, taught by Nancy Bush. I was thrilled that I understood all the techniques and was particularly thrilled that creating nupps is not difficult at all (as long as you keep the working yarn very loose). The love that Nancy has for Estonia and particularly for the Estonian knitting traditions is so strong and so bright. So much so that I'm inspired to write a story about the women in a photograph in her book, Knitted Lace of Estonia. I'm intrigued by the faces of the women; each one has so much character and yet is so different from the others. What are their stories? Why does one look so stern, while another looks gleeful? I have so much to learn about Estonia and hope that my story can honor them.

Squam's magic this year was awakening my slumbering creativity. It stretched the limits of my photography and surprised me with an idea for a story. The supportive and loving environment whispers to the heart "Yes, you can do this!" And we fly.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Resistance is Futile

NaDaYoPraMo is going passably well. I've managed to practice yoga every day so far, although hard-core practitioners would raise a questioning eyebrow. (I almost said "would have sneered" but if they are really hard-core, there would be no sneering.) I have managed to eke out about a half dozen half sun salutations along with one or two days with slightly (but only just) longer practices. I'm trying to be kind to myself and accepting that I am doing what I have time to do and what moves me. And what moves me is attempting to open my hips and loosen my hamstrings. Thanks to running and a very sedentary job, both are, shall we say, a bit tight.

One of the things I'm noticing this month is that I'm resisting more.

I find that I'm resisting and thereby sabotaging my daily yoga practice. "Just a few more minutes in bed" I think. "I have plenty of time" I think. And before I know it, the minutes have slipped away to my daydreaming and I'm forced to do the bare minimum, like the half dozen half sun salutations and maybe a balance pose.

And more importantly, my heart/soul sister is moving and my heart aches for her. She's losing a beautiful place to live, as well as friends who will eventually return to Sweden. On the other hand, her attachment to place is broken which leaves her free to follow her heart. And I'm finding that I am totally resisting that change because eventually she'll move way too far north. I know our friendship will not diminish with distance. But it will necessarily change. I will lose so much. And she will gain so much by being with her love and having the chance to grow her career.

Change will come whether or not we want it to. As they say, resistance is futile.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Of a Certain Age

Today's yoga practice was much abbreviated, unless you count the hour or so that I lay in sivasana, trying to get back to sleep at 2:00 a.m. It seems that no matter what time I go to bed, I wake up around midnight, then again at 1:00 or 3:00. Somewhere between 4:00 and 5:00, Emma (the cat) starts petitioning me for breakfast and there is no sleeping through it because she will knock things off the night stand or pull over the lamp (note that she only acts like that when she wants breakfast).

Sivasana did help, but then Emma woke me up at 4:00. I got up at 5:00 to feed her and went back to bed, setting the alarm for 6:30 for yoga practice. That did not go well, as I didn't get up until almost 8:00. So the morning yoga was about a half dozen half sun salutations.

This waking up in the middle of the night is highly annoying. I've heard about bimodal sleep, where one sleeps for a couple of hours, wakes up and has a snack or meditates or reads, then goes back to sleep for a couple more hours. One night, maybe when I don't have to go work the following day, I'll try getting up, just to see how well it works.

Now, to sleep, perchance to dream. Or perhaps it should be to dream, perchance to sleep!

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Well, NaBloPoMo is over. And I hereby declare that December is NaDaYoPraMo: National Daily Yoga Practice Month. Actually, Elizabeth pledged to practice yoga daily in December, so I can't really take credit for it. But really? What better month to start a daily yoga practice than December, with all its attendant stresses with what gifts to buy, parties to go, meals to cook, families and friends to deal with?

I'm not sure how NaDaYoPraMo is going to play out for me. I suspect that I'll start off with speed yoga: a quick centering, a couple of sun salutations, a balance pose, a twist or two, and a lightning quick sivasana. But, once I get into the rhythm of getting on the mat every day, I'll sink into the practice, going deeper into each pose, holding it longer, breathing deeper.

Yoga Today has online classes, and they have a free 30-day trial! This might very well be my go-to resource for those days when I don't want to practice speed yoga.

Yoga Journal is also a great resource, with articles, videos, and tips for creating a home practice.

And of course, there's always the local yoga studio.

Here's to a blissful month of yoga!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Deepest Night

I awaken. It's still dark and I reach for the phone to check the time. 1:32 a.m. I sigh, and flounce just a little bit in bed (but not enough to disturb my husband) to express my displeasure at waking yet again early in the morning. The air from the open window is fresh, cold. I lie still, willing sleep to come. It does not.

In the crystalline silence, I listen. I hear my husband breathe next to me, and the hum of the heating system. I cast my senses wider, and listening deeper, hear a train whistle, far in the distance. I might even hear the train's wheels, singing on the rails. I listen closer, and hear the tinkle of the neighboring dog's tags as it crisscrosses the lawn, intent on its nocturnal errand, its paws padding on grass crisp with frost.

In the summer, after the insects have ceased their cacophonous symphony, I hear the call and response of the owls. In the early morning, perhaps before and mostly likely after the rooster crows, the throaty purr of the watermen's boats insinuates itself into my consciousness, as they head out to check the crab pots.

There is so much to hear at night, if only we take the time to listen deeply, beyond the noise of the traffic and the hum and whine of heating systems. The creak and pops of the house suggest age, as do the creaks and pops of our joints as we move, seeking to ease the stresses of the day. The chirrup of a bird, when no bird should be stirring; is the bird dreaming or has it been startled from its rest by a predator?

And there's so much more to hear during the day, if we can slip underneath the surface noise. There are stories there, common yet uncommon. The untold story of a baby's cry, the joyous laughter of the toddler playing, the tense verbal exchange of the neighbors across the street.

All contribute to the rich tapestry of our lives.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Remembrance of Things Past

Today was an oxymoron…lazy but productive. I spent the day hanging out with my mother, knitting. The conversation meandered, twisting this way and that, and eventually circling back to the original topic. I learned that I do not have mad crochet skills. Heck, I can't even crochet a chain for a provisional cast on without screwing it up! Nonetheless, I made a good start on the toe on a sock for my husband. And I ripped back the Amberwell shawl and reknit most of it. It was sheer bliss to spend most of the day knitting. My brother and his son dropped by and they helped my father finish putting plastic over the back porch screens and Tom and my brother installed a new faucet in the bathroom.

Over dinner, we talked about my parents' families while they were growing up. It was interesting to hear the stories and make the connections with my memories from childhood. I never knew that my father had scarlet fever. And that the house that I remember was originally a burned-out shell my father and his siblings and friends played in that my grandfather bought and refurbished.

I have more that I'd like to write but the thoughts are not well-formed and the television is distracting (some show where entrepreneurs are trying to get investors to buy their idea; the way the investors are treating the entrepreneurs is awful). I'm finding I have a deep aversion to television. It mostly wants to make me run, screaming, out of the room. Too much noise, too much dissonance, too much conflict. It seriously harshes on my mellow.

Tomorrow is the last day of NaBloPoMo. It's hard to believe that November is almost over. And then December starts NaDaYoPraMo! And that will be way harder than NaBloPoMo.