Listen: A New Song

“In the practice of our days, to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.” ~ Mark Nepo

Some years back, I adopted the ‘choose a word to guide me’ exercise, and it’s been a great way to focus and allow that word to grow and inform me over the course of a year. However, this year just wasn’t working – no ‘one word’ was coming. Instead, many words presented them-selves, and since there’s no hard and fast rule to this exercise, I gave myself permission to change it up, including how and when I did my Intention Journal.

January

One the first day of this new year, I sat down with images and words and collaged my intentions for the month ahead. ‘Listen’ was my chosen word, and I gathered items to add to my window ledge alter. A stone was painted, and my releasing bundle  prepared.  Both came with me on my trip to California.

Listen…

It was great fun road-tripping with my long-time friend, beginning in Palm Springs, through Temecula, and on to our final destination in Carlsbad, CA. Though it proved to be more difficult than I thought to find a place on the ocean within our budget, the resort we stayed in was perfect- easy walkability to restaurants, shopping, and most importantly, the ocean.

I wasn’t intending on bringing my bundle with me, but the days preceding the trip were so cold, and the thought of trying to shovel away snow to build a fire in the chiminea just didn’t appeal. Besides, it seemed important it be done on my birthday, and so I listened. After dinner, we headed down to the beach to catch some stunning sunset photos…

The week passed much too quickly. We had sunny days, overcast skies and rain, but that didn’t stop us from having a great time and creating some wonderful memories. On our last day, we took a final walk along the water’s edge, darted incoming waves, and dug our toes into the sand, both of us lost in our own thoughts. Giving thanks for life, and family, and a friendship that has spanned 45 years.

Listening to the ocean’s roar…and making sure I remember its song once I’m back in my prairie home.

 

Walking The Pilgrim’s Way

This snow-covered bridge is an appropriate image for today. Outside, snow has been softly falling off and on since early morning and any foot tracks would soon be covered. I feel as if I’m standing there, ready to take a slow walk to the other side, with only my footprints showing as I glance back.

I have a birthday coming up in a few days time and for months I’ve been thinking that I should celebrate it in a grand way. Some would say this is a milestone birthday, but really, it’s just a number and doesn’t reflect how I feel. Yet, there are moments when the thought “omg-how did this happen?” washes over me. I suppose I’m coming into the autumn of my life now – actually my favourite time of year. Certainly not early or late autumn – so how long does each season last when you’re talking decades? (haha-grin)

I wonder if I’ll feel differently once I’m on the other side of that bridge? There’s no map for the path ahead, but I am learning to listen, to ask and trust an inner guide that leads the way. And that is enough.

The Map You Make Yourself

You have looked
at so many doors
with longing,
wondering if your life
lay on the other side.

For today,
choose the door
that opens
to the inside.

Travel the most ancient way
of all:
the path that leads you
to the center
of your life.

No map
but the one
you make yourself.

No provision
but what you already carry
and the grace that comes
to those who walk
the pilgrim’s way.

Speak this blessing
as you set out
and watch how
your rhythm slows,
the cadence of the road
drawing you into the pace
that is your own.

Eat when hungry.
Rest when tired.
Listen to your dreaming.
Welcome detours
as doors deeper in.

Pray for protection.
Ask for guidance.
Offer gladness
for the gifts that come,
and then
let them go.

Do not expect
to return
by the same road.
Home is always
by another way,
and you will know it
not by the light
that waits for you

but by the star
that blazes inside you,
telling you
where you are
is holy
and you are welcome
here.

~Jan Richardson

A Sense of Timing

Well, the Christmas count-down is on and I’m as prepared as I’m going to be. There’s a dessert yet to make, some pre-dinner prep, gifts to wrap, and hopefully time to watch one of my favourite Christmas movies, The Gathering. What!!!? I just found out there’s a second movie!! Well, guess I’ll be ordering that for next year 🙂

I’m continuing to add to my December Pause journal, which is dedicated to slowing down during this otherwise busy season and recording the highlights of each day. It may include ticket stubs, quotes, songs, photos, new recipes, and often contains images from cards received in the past. I introduced this activity to my Art Journal group, and several of them decided to participate. This is my 5th year, and it’s become a nice keepsake for what is usually a blur of hustle and bustle getting ready for Christmas.

To me, the month of December is like standing at the threshold of a doorway –  reviewing and honouring the past year – and then looking ahead, opening my heart and hands to the invitation and possibilities of the year to come. I like to get a good start on my Visioning/Intention journal before the end of the year; choose my guiding word (or allowing it to choose me ;), defining my focus areas, then gathering images, quotes, prayers, etc. and adding them to my book. Creating a vision/intention book is like planting a seed; it’s a great tool to nurture dreams and intentions.

Here are some questions that you might use to ponder and review your year (I use these too):

What were you most grateful for in 2016? What old behaviours or outmoded ways of being do you need to release? How will you honour your life story as sacred text? What areas of your life are calling for more attention?

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” ~Zora Hurston

Below is a beautiful prayer I discovered and shared at my last Visioning workshop – I hope you like it too:

Grant Me Your Sense of Timing

God of all seasons and senses,
grant me your sense of timing
to submit gracefully 
and rejoice quietly
in the turn of the seasons.

In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach me the lessons of waiting;
of the snow joining the mystery
of the hunkered-down seeds growing in their sleep
watched over by gnarled-limbed, grandparent trees
resting from autumn’s staggering energy
of the silent, whirling earth
circling to race back home to the sun.
God, grant me your sense of timing.

In this season of short days and long nights, 
of grey and white and cold,
teach me the lessons of endings;
children growing,
friends leaving, 
jobs concluding,
stages finishing,
grieving over,
grudges over,
blaming over,
excuses over.
God, grant me your sense of timing.

In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach me the lessons of beginnings:
that such waitings and endings
may be a starting place,
a planting of seeds which bring to birth
what is ready to be born – 
something right and just and different,
a new song,
a deeper relationship,
a fuller love – 
in the fullness of your time.
God, grant me your sense of timing.

~Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace

Wishing you a blessed Christmas season and a year filled with laughter, love and light!

Starting From the Same Place

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This was a fun project I did, hosted by Tina Walker, and included many participants, all given the same products (sponsored by Beacon Adhesives, Amazing Casting Products, and StencilGirl). Signing up for this sort of collaboration challenges me – in a good way! – but I have to confess I was very pressed for time and didn’t think I’d make the deadline.

kit

Product kit – Starting from the Same Place

I knew I’d create some sort of book so that I could highlight a few items on each page. Ta-Da!! I did it, but technologically challenged me didn’t get in on the links and sharing.  So here’s my finished book…

 

 

 

 

Thanks for putting this together, Tina Walker, and to all the other artists who joined in on the fun – wow!! – what amazing creativity!!

 

The Making of a Memory Collage, Part 2

I’ve been slower getting back to this project than anticipated. Oh heck, call it for what it is…procrastination.  Then again, distraction might be the better excuse.  It’s summertime and gardening season – we’ve worked non-stop in the back yard for months now, moving plants and shrubs and trees to their permanent location.  But that’s for another post.

The doily was stitched onto the hemp fabric with invisible thread – actually it’s more like very thin fishing line. Not much of the doily will show with all the other objects being laid on top, but I want to make sure it won’t flop over either.

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I have many, many crochet pieces from both my mother and grandmother. Mother distributed them to all her daughters and daughter-in-law; I wonder if they still have them, or if they’re stored away like mine are? It seems a shame to keep this fine needlework hidden. I’ve looked for different projects and ways to display them, but only one has really caught my attention. Another project on my ‘to-do’ list!

Confession: I didn’t starch the crochet doily!

Mother was a stickler about this; she would wash, starch, and shape the doilies so they dried to show off each intricate stitch (well, almost ;). I’ve never had the patience to do this, but included directions below.

The next piece to be attached is a sample of Hungarian Matyo embroidery. During my visit to Hungary years ago, I recall my Aunt had stacks of patterns that she would use and sell; it was her business and livelihood. Wonder what happened to all of them? I am fortunate to have several pieces of Matyo embroidery.

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Finally, I took photos of each page of her workbook/resume. Once the book is attached and behind glass, the pages won’t be accessible. They’re so fragile now; I had to work carefully so as not to have the book fall apart on me. As you can see, stitches had already been added in years past to hold it together.

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Part 3 coming soon! Just waiting for a rainy day to pull me out of the garden and back into my studio.

Doily Starch

Fill a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water, then add 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Stir with a spoon or whisk, making sure  you get into the corners so all the sugar is mixed in.

Set the burner to low heat and place the pan on it, heating to a slow simmer. Don’t let it boil. The sugar should turn a clear colour with a fluid texture, not sugary/white. Remove from burner and allow the sugar starch to cool.

Next, fill the sink with very warm – not hot – water. Wetting the doilies prevents the fibres from absorbing too much starch. Dip each doily in the mixture and then lay them on an absorbent bath towel. Roll up the towel to blot up excess water. Don’t wring, twist, or pull the wet doilies  – it may damage and stretch them out of shape.

Drop each doily into the sugar starch, leaving them in for a few minutes. Remove individually and gently squeeze excess starch over the sink to get out as much as possible. Again, don’t wring or twist.

Lay each doily on a fresh towel, gently shaping them into form. Tack them with stainless sewing pins to prevent them from shrinking while they dry. Leave them undisturbed for several days, then remove pins and use them as desired.