Thursday, June 26, 2014

You are NOT My Mother

A friend posted on social media the other day, sharing her grief. Sharing how much she wished she could go talk to her mother again, just one more time. Her mother died less than a year ago and she is having a hard time with that empty space, believe me, I know that feeling.  More than 18 years later I still have times when I find it hard to cope with the empty space, wish I could talk things over with my mother, get her point of view and advice.  The grief can, at times, feel overwhelming.  One person commented saying, "I am always here if you need someone to talk things over with", or something like that, I don't remember exactly.

I get that a bit as well.  Those, well meaning individuals, offering up their time.  "I am here to stand in for her if you need me."  "When you need someone to talk things over with just call me".  So many different offers, in different ways.  From people I barely know and a couple from family members.  But you know a brother or an aunt is not the same, let alone some stranger I only know online.

I am not trying to hurt any one's feelings, or discount the generous offer.  I know the offers come from a good place, a place of love and care. But it feels at times like these offers are minimizing the importance of my mother, and her place in my life.  It feels like there is an implication that my mother's presence, thoughts, feelings, history can be replaced, or her absence eased.  That is NOT the case.  My mother was insurmountably important in my life, that space can never be filled, her absence is deep.

If you have lost your mother, you get it.  My mother was not perfect, and our relationship had its ups and downs.  I don't parent the way my mother parented me, we are very different.  But she knew me from the beginning.  She knew me inside and out.  She knew how I felt when my first boyfriend moved away.  She knew my thoughts and feelings when I joined the army.  She was there when I was young and worried about death, started my period, started driving, met Jackson.  She shared the joys and fears.  She loved me truly unconditionally.  And there is a difference.  I know that if I have a disagreement with family, we might not talk for a while, but they will always be there for me, and I for them.  But with my mother, we could have a disagreement of any magnitude and she would be there to tell me it will be OK, that I have to do what I think is right, that I have to think for myself.  She would hug me and we would go on, and I would turn to her the very next day to talk about something else.  With my mom it wasn't always about having someone to go to and talk about life's problems.  It was having someone that I could be with and not talk at all, and she would know already what was wrong.  That she knew the history behind all my decisions, faults, joys, accomplishments, and relationships.  I didn't have to explain where I was coming from, because she knew.

I do have family and friends that fill some of the gaps that her absence has left.  But there are things about that mother-daughter relationship that I will never know.  And that can never be replaced.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Neighbors

Wow, what a change.  This past fall a man stopped by our house to introduce himself.  He just bought the land adjacent to our property.  He told me a little about his family, he is married and has two children, living in a sub division.  He wanted to move rural, no one else around, just out in the wilderness.  His wife was not as enthused by the idea, so the compromise was to buy this piece of property, outside city limits, build a home back away from the road in the woods.  I asked a few questions about where he was planning to build and if he was planning to cut many of the trees.  He assured me he wanted his own privacy as much as we wanted ours, and the plan was to cut down just enough trees for their home.  He did show me where he was planning to build, and where the driveway would be.  Which was quite far away from the property line.

Jackson and I did talk about it, that he seemed really nice, and that with his goals, it seemed like they would be good neighbors.  Although, had we known the land was for sale we would have bought it ourselves, it would have been a great addition to the almost 12 acres we have now.  But oh well, that's how it goes.

After winter we could start to see progress, a driveway going in.  Yes indeed quite far from the property line. Then for months, no progress at all. Suddenly the chain saws started up.  The boys asked me about it.  I relayed what the owner had said and we discussed, in order to put in a driveway and house, some land would need to be cleared.

OK fast forward to today, the chain saws are waking the boys up in the morning.  Dawn to dusk.  And the logging trucks run non stop all day, taking beautiful trees out.  We are starting to see now, the clear cutting that is going on next door.  All the red clay becoming visible, like a blanket being unrolled on the hill, as the forest is cut.  It is so sad.  It is not what he said was going to happen, it is brutal. It is much closer than their driveway and house lot. I hate it, it makes me cry. So much for new neighbors.  So much for privacy.

As you can see there is lots of cutting going on.  Before you couldn't see any dirt, it was all forest.  And it gets worse by the minute, as every few hours another truck load of logs comes off the property.  Where the driveway is and house will be is on the other side of that hill.  Just a little too close.  The trees in the foreground are ours.  So there will be a little line of sparse trees to "block" our view.  I am sad.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Litha is Here

I hope you all had a wonderful celebration for Litha, the Summer Solstice.  Summer is here, what a time to celebrate.  We had a quiet day here at home.  I changed out my altar, invigorating the space, time for growth.

The fabrics on my altar remind me of the sunshine, and of course the candles do as well.  I added a small painting that represents growth, full of the colors of summer.  I added a nice votive holder in the center.  I just really like the flower cut outs on the front, a perfect representation of summer, and the color is so green with vitality.  

I know for many summer means HEAT!  The bright, hot sun of summer, and with temps here in the mid-90s most days, it can seem exhausting.  But let's remember what Litha is about, what this season brings into our lives.  Remember back at Ostara when you were planting the seeds, thinking about new things you wanted to bring into your life and cultivate, a new job maybe, or a new relationship.  Those wonderful ideas of possibility.  Now is the time to continue to cultivate, work on your space, inside and out.  Let things bloom, and grow.  Figure out what is working and what is not.

For me summer means swimming in the pool, at least one trip to the ocean, picking wild herbs and enjoying the bounty of the garden.  It means expanding my interests, trying out the different creative endeavors that I have been pondering, nourishing relationships, figuring out in which ones I would like to invest my energy.

It is also a time to weed.  Weeding my many gardens.  Losing the painting methods I am not drawn to. Letting go of relationships that are not nourishing to my soul, reevaluating my daily self care ritual.  I have to remind myself that letting go allows more space for those new opportunities to enter my life.  We need to do this from time to time.  

So evaluate where you are right now, what is working, what is not.  What is nourishing, what is not. Let the joy of summers growth fill your heart, let things blossom and grow for you.  Revitalize your many spaces!

Monday, June 23, 2014

More Socks

Yes I finished the scarf, and am in LOVE with it, thick and luxurious, it will be showing up in my etsy shop soon.

This is what I am working on now, socks.  The color reminds me of cotton candy.  It is a thicker wool blend, so it is soft and rich, a thicker sock great for fall and winter.  I am hoping to finish these socks up in a couple  of days.

Next I think I would like to make another scarf.  Looking for something unique and elegant.  I have two hanks of a lace weight variegated yarn, purples and greens, beautiful yarn.  I am thinking of this pattern, or maybe this one.  So if anyone has any ideas please share the link either on my facebook page or as a comment here.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Listen to Your Body

It is so important to be in tune with our bodies.  I generally feel like I am, but also I tend to "push through" a lot of illnesses.  I mean I am a mom so that is what we do.  Sometimes I know things aren't quite right but if I can't put my finger on the exact problem I will push it to the side.  I realized some time ago that the feeling "things aren't quite right" is my body's way of nudging me to take it easy, rest, think consciously about what I am eating and how much water I am drinking.  I need to be better at taking action when those nudges start knocking.  I know that when I don't take action, my body will start communicating louder, with a whisper in my ear, or a tap on the shoulder.  I have also learned that if I ignore those my body will eventually scream at me and force me to slow down.

I think I have done well over the years to avoid that scream.  Sometimes it isn't easy, sometimes I can't figure out what is wrong.  But I do try.  This past weekend was a "failure to communicate".  Sunday was father's day, so the boys and I celebrated the wonderful father/husband in our lives.  I wasn't feeling quite right all day.  But didn't want to put a damper on anything so I pushed those feelings to the side.  It wasn't horrible, just a little nudge, lack of energy and a little ache in my right leg.  And as usual, my body didn't like being ignored so Sunday night, it was really tapping me on the shoulder, leg aches, and some abdominal cramping. Nothing I couldn't live with, but I definitely knew something wasn't right.

I figured a good night sleep would take care of it, since I had not slept well the last few nights.  Woke the next morning still feeling a little out of sorts, but much less so than the night before.  My body was back to nudging me, saying "keep resting", "slow down".  Not sure why, but I ignored those nudges that morning and went on my way with my painting, meditating (should have really picked up on my body's cues then), couldn't seem to get in the groove that morning but went to exercise anyway.  That went well, but on my way home my body started screaming at me.  Just aches all over, fever, chills, OK so lesson learned.  I took it easy that afternoon.  Tea, GF toast, resting in bed with my two lovable pugs to keep me company, napping, I know all will be well.  I need to practice not only listening to my body but taking it seriously. We all need to listen to those nudges, check in daily to see how our bodies are feeling, not wait for the scream in our ear.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Projects in Progress

This is what I am working on now.  I really enjoy creating with yarn, seeing how things come together, how the colors blend.  Here is the wrap I finished last week.  It turned out beautiful, now it is being blocked.  But I think the flow of the colors is just beautiful.  It will be up in my etsy store by next week.  

And here are the completed socks, they are just such happy colors.  

This is one of my works in progress.  I am mending a lap size afghan for a friend.  It has a large hole in it, so I am reworking it.  This is a nice go to pattern if you need something quick.  Use two strands of yarn (worsted weight or thicker) worked together as one, and the largest circular needle you have (circular because there are a lot of stitches not because you are going to work in the round).  Cast on an odd number of stitches, I used 75 for this one and it made a nice lap size afghan.  ALL ROWS: K1 P1 until the end of the row.  Simple, and with the thick yarns and large needles it knits up quick.  I added a crocheted shell boarder around the edge but you do not have to.  

My "take along"project is a scarf I am crocheting.  I am using a sport weight yarn, the colors are lovely.  You can click here if interested in the pattern for this crocodile stitch.  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Art and Art Journaling

Art journaling is a recent discovery.  I never really thought about keeping a journal for art work, something that releases the feelings inside me in a way that journaling can not.  I loved painting and drawing when I was about pre Jr High School age, somewhere up until around the age 11 or 12.  But some where around Jr High, people become judgmental about what it is you create.  When you are five and six years old everything you do is cute, then suddenly as you get older it becomes either good or bad art. Kind of sucks the fun out of creating anything.  You go from there to High School and then you really need to figure out what you want to do with your life.  You have to pick, you can't do it all, you have to focus.  Nursing was my goal at that point, so the classes were all college prep classes, with some music on the side.  I put painting out of my mind then.

After college I picked up some things again, I dug out my crochet hooks/yarn starting crocheting again and also began quilting, that was enjoyable, and I still find that gratification in seeing how yarns and fabrics will come together when sewn, crocheted, knitted together.  But lately I have been digging back into the painting, and drawing.

Painting my feelings out while listening to different types of music, or painting what I am thinking or feeling after I finish meditating, is therapeutic.  Another technique I am finding helpful is to journal in my art journal, to write out something I am stuck on or want to explore further, or release, then paint over it.  Cover up some parts and leave others exposed.  I try to work in my art journal daily.  It is so peaceful in the morning, when the house is quiet, and I can just spend a little time by myself, to open up my journal and my art journal and delve into and onto the pages.  Some is very personal, which is why I like the idea of the art journal.  It is for ME.  I can choose to share or not share my art journal with others.  There is no expectation of anyone else ever seeing what is in there, so it is OK to just paint, when I have no idea or completed picture in my head.  It is OK to make random marks on a page and let that be the beginning of something or nothing.  I do share some of my art journal pages with my family and a few close friends, but that is really hard.  It seems like when I do share there is subconsciously an expectation of a reaction, good or bad.  There is an anticipation of judgment.  And, if you read my blog at all, you know that is HARD for me, risking exposure.  It is something I want to change.  I want to be OK with exposure.  I want to be OK letting myself out of the box, feel those feelings and not stay so closed up inside, take the risk.

So here is some of my artwork, for your viewing pleasure or not ;-)  As you can see some of these have journaling written under the painting, some not.  Some are from a workshop I am taking, some stem from meditation, a couple were painted to music, and a couple were started with random marks on a page.  It is very freeing to just make random marks, with no intention, and see where it takes you, what your intuition speaks in your ear, what you see as you look at those marks, where your soul leads.  The paintings speak volumes to me, words I need to hear, images that nourish.

My muse speaking to me

A mandala piece, (you can see my little pug, Violet at the bottom of the pic :-)

This is a journaling piece, lots of juicy text under there. 

A journey of healing

Painting to music after meditation, started with random black lines on a page (you can see where my heart lives!)

Another painting to music after meditation, words I needed to hear

A piece after meditation on something specific. 

A work in progress as I journey with Inanna. 

Have you ever had that thought "I wish I could paint".  Well you CAN!  Anyone can.  Just go ahead, find some paper and whatever you have around your house and start now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Random Acts of Kindness

Seems like all over social media the *thing* right now, is broadcasting random acts of kindness.  Individually and then again as a compilation of "This Restores My Faith in Humanity".  But does it really? These acts of kindness are everywhere with long notes and pictures included.  It isn't enough to put a bag over someone's open car window during a rain storm, now it must be accompanied by a long note saying, "I saw your window was open and put this bag over the opening so that the inside of your car wouldn't get wet...." with an anonymous signature line like "your neighbor" or "an anonymous friend".  So why do this, why attach some long, thought out note?  It isn't enough to see the car window open and put a bag over it?  Did the person think that the owner of the vehicle would not notice?

Do we do these acts because we are truly concerned for our fellow traveler, just a real act of kindness?  Or do we need some notice, some proclamation of our good deed?  Would we continue to see other's as fellow human beings if there was no camera ready, no facebook or myspace?  What if there was no one around except the recipient of the good deed, would we still be as willing to give of ourselves, even if it is just a few minutes and a plastic bag?  Would it be enough to know that someone's books didn't get wet inside the car because one person covered that window?  Or that someone's personal items were not stolen our of trunk of the car because we took a couple of seconds to close it?  Do we need other's to know and acknowledge our gift?  Does the sign/letter/note make us, as the givers, somehow feel more peaceful, proud or heroic?  Does it inspire others to go out and give a little of themselves or does it serve no purpose at all?

I have never understood the need for a letter of explanation as to an act of kindness that was done and why, shouldn't the act itself be explanation enough.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hanging onto Friendships

Making friends is hard for me.  As an introvert, it is hard to just jump out there, talk to strangers and even more terrifying, risk exposing my true self.  LOL.  So when I do invest in friendships it is hard for me to let the natural ebb and flow of friendships follow.  I know friends come into our lives and step out again for different reasons.  The friends I had in high school I would have no idea where they were if it weren't for connections on social media.  The friends I had when I was in the Army, well I remember most of their names but that is about it.  While we were living in Germany I didn't really have any close friends.  I had two babies, and most of my time and energy was invested in them.

After relocating to North Carolina I made friends based around my children, how we parented, our homeschooling journey.  But now some of those friendships seem like they are fading away.  I realize that is a natural part of life, growth, and change.  But it is hard for me.  I have no family that is close, geographically, so I invest in friendships.  I tell myself that friends are not family.  And I know with some friends they seem closer than family, but I know, that no matter what, and no matter how little we talk, my family is always there.  With friends it doesn't feel the same, not the same shared history.

I am working to look at things from a different angle, and have been journaling about this over the past couple of weeks.  Instead of being sad over what seems like a loss of friendships, I am trying to be grateful that they held such a wonderful and precious space in my life, served a purpose.  Maybe it is time for me to reach out and form new friendships, I guess time will tell.  It really feels like a loss buy maybe it is just a natural pause.  Maybe it is time to invest some of that energy elsewhere. Cherish what was, look forward to all the things to come, and let it rest.  That doesn't mean the end of a friendship right?!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Journey into Journaling

I have been journaling now, daily, for about 4 months.  This is so new to me but something I have wanted for so long.  Everyone I know or read about that keeps a journal raves about how healing it is, how cleansing it is, and the satisfaction they pull from looking at stacks of journals, filled with the mundane and not so mundane thoughts that run through their heads.

I so wanted that for myself.  I have always loved journals, the look, the feel and the smell of a new journal.  I have kept a journal off and on but for never more than a few days at a time....fill up those first few pages, then put it down somewhere to be forgotten.  I have quite a few around the house here, and I remember getting the "dear diary" as a child, with the little lock and key, didn't write in those either.

I signed up to take a journaling workshop, online, not expecting a whole lot, but maybe some tips on figuring out a journaling practice I could keep up with, that would bring me all the joy others seem to experience.  The workshop was created and hosted by Susannah Conway, it was relatively inexpensive so I jumped in to see what would come of it.  I loved this workshop, she is just so full of not only prompts, but how to take prompts deeper, look further, explore more.  As well as different techniques when journaling, how to find your own groove, how to create a practice and the most amazing interviews with others that journal in different ways.

Who knew there were so many different ideas for journaling.  I have settled nicely into a daily morning brain cleansing for the most part.  Every morning I take some time, as long as I need, to clear out my brain.  So all the todo lists, dreams, thoughts, fears get written down, anything and everything I have on my mind.  If there is anything that I can't seem to get rid of, or comes up with I am meditating, I take it further, and work on Intuitive Journaling.

With Intuitive Journaling I first write down the question I have, the worry, the fear, the nagging idea.  Write it all down in my journal.  I think about it for a few minutes, then I start writing as fast as I can write.  I start out with the obvious "stuff", everything I have been consciously thinking about the question, the answers that pop into my head, what other people might tell me about this fear, what logic tells me is true.  Those are the easy things and the things I have probably been already telling myself over and over.  Then I can feel a shift happen.  I don't stop writing, but when I am out of the obvious, I can feel my intuitive side take over.  I write down the things that pop into my head, if they make sense or don't make sense.  And generally in here some where my writing changes from the first person perspective to the third person.  And it feels as if my intuition is talking to my conscious self.  Telling me what is really going on, what I need to hear, or need to do/feel/think through.

I have so fallen in love with Intuitive Journaling and find it so helpful when I have concerns rolling around in my head.  I have found new perspectives I hadn't considered before, new ideas, new options....Amazing.

I am enjoying my new journey with journaling.  Something I had just thought was not for me.  I love seeing the journals pile up, I love looking back over some days, exploring the deeper feelings in my soul.  This is one of the last pieces I added to my self care routine, and have found it really nourishing. So if you have wondered what a daily practice of journaling would be like, but can't seem to make the pieces fit, I encourage you to take a short workshop, read about and see how others maintain their journaling practice, start slowly exploring the different techniques for journaling and figure out what is right for you.  I know how much I enjoy journaling and I put pen to paper every day and don't look back.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Walk

Just a few photos from my walk today:

Where I Knit

Wow, it has been hot the last few days, so I have been doing a lot of knitting INSIDE, in our now fixed AC!  (Yay for friends with skills).  So not as much scenery, but surrounded by things that I love.

I finished the wrap.  It is gorgeous but still needs to be blocked, so I hope to have that finished to show you next week.  I also finished up the Christmas scarf I was working on.  I really love how this one came out, very earthy colors, it is a cotton yarn, so it is soft and thick and warm.  Here is the picture of that one.

I also finished up a pair of socks, in fall colors.  This yarn was so soft and such a joy to work with, you know the yarn that just glides on and off the needles, you get into a knitting groove.  These will show up in my etsy shop soon.

And I started another pair of socks.  These socks are just my colors, love it!

So that is what I have been working on this past week. And where I have been knitting. We will see what the weekend brings.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Bringing It All Together

That can be a challenge. Collecting all these pieces and creating a routine to take care of yourself.  Yes, you the mom with little children, you the working woman, you need to take time to nourish yourself, your body, your spirit and your heart.  Start now and it only gets better.  I know it is hard to find that time, so many things pulling in different directions.  And many of us women, are almost raised to be martyrs.  To sacrifice our own joy for that of our families. Put ourselves on the back burner...."you will have time later".  But you know if you take the time now, even a few minutes a day, it will strengthen your todays, and "later" will be that much more wonderful.

1.  Make a list, think about all the things we have talked about and more that are important to you
2.  Prioritize
3.  Figure out what really lights your fire
4.  Start small, with just one element

For me it was essential to start small and simple.  For many it might be easier to jump into a larger routine, but I knew I needed something doable in the NOW, that I could easily fit into my schedule TODAY.  I built on that over time, but starting out small, for me, set me up for success.  And when I fall a little short from time to time, I am still energized by all the days prior and those to come.

I started out with meditation, and initially it wasn't every day, I would forget or get busy.  I soon realized it had to be first thing in the morning, so I made that change right away.  I also looked for a few guided meditations I could do, and some deep breathing exercises I could use when time was shorter.  This became a ritual for me, something I practice daily, but also can go to at any point when I just need a couple of minutes to relax, deep breath, gather myself, or slow down.  That is how I started.  Once that became my daily go to, something I didn't have to think about, something I really looked forward to and missed when it didn't happen first thing in the morning, I added more.

Now I include meditation, journaling, art journaling or painting, resistance exercises, aerobic exercises, and lotion for my feet at night.  For me those nourish by body, my spirit and my heart.  For you, you might have other priorities.  You might decide that you only have 15 minutes right now, each day and exercise is most important, or maybe gardening is most important. Make that list, start somewhere, start now.  See how it feels to nourish and care for yourself. You will not regret that decision.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Taking Care of Your Emotional Self

Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in the "should dos", those things that are expected of us, chores, activities, events, planning, cleaning, working, we forget about those things that set our heart on fire, bring joy into our lives, put a smile on our lips.  I had to take some time journaling to really get down to the nitty gritty of what it is that bring me true joy, those things I love doing.  It seems like sometimes those things are easy to put on the back burner for the "spare time".  

If you want to try a great exercise, get out some paper or your journal and write down all the things you like to do. I  know for me that list was LONG.  That are so many things that are fun.  Then take that list and whittle it down to just a few items, three or four.  Those top items that really make you want to dance around and sing for joy.  Things you WISH you had time for every day. For some, you may already have a daily practice. Now explore deeper:

~What would it feel like to do one or all of these every day or even once a week
~Why don't you, what is stopping you
~What would it take to put those few joys on the front burner
~List some ideas to make that happen
~Now list 20 more ideas to make it happen (this will help you push the envelope)
~What would a daily practice look like, involve, for you
~Are you willing to do just that 

I had a long list of things that make me happy, make me smile.  I wanted something I could do daily, to start my day off on a bright light, focusing on my joy.  So I narrowed it down to art/art journaling, as well as blogging and knitting/crocheting.  And those are on my daily todo list.  

In the morning I work in my art journal, quite often this stems from my meditation but not always.  And there are lots of art journaling web sites and facebook pages where I get inspiration.  I also love youtube for ideas. I participate in the Spectrum course, which incorporates art journaling and digging deeper into yourself.  That has been a great inspiration for me, and has really expanded my art journaling experience.  I also make soul collage cards, this is like having your own person tarot card deck, so inspirational.  I don't do all of these every day, but I do SOMETHING every day.  

Knitting is something I take with me everywhere.  I generally have at least a couple of projects going at the same time, one larger that may stay at home, and one smaller, like knitting socks, that I can pack into a zipper bag and take with me.  I generally get quite a bit of knitting done during the day just a few minutes here and there.  Knitting, I have found to be quite meditative, and just a little breath of fresh air when I am out and about.

Blogging for me is about changing my story, and becoming more exposed.  I have always been a private person, and I am trying to release that fear of exposure, and put things out there.  So I have started blogging more, and even when I don't post daily, I am working on it daily.  That release is so freeing.  

So find what it is that brings you joy, yes, and do THAT.  Do it daily or weekly.  Take care of your emotional self, make it part of your routine, nurture and nourish your joy.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Happy Birthday To ME!

Today is my birthday, and I am a fabulous 48 years young!  I keep telling my boys I am going to live to be at least 100, and while we were in New Orleans a palm reader said the same thing, "you have a long life line, you will live to at least 100".  I told her I already knew that and keep telling my boys the same thing.  She was wonderful.

Anyway this is a post for me, so I can look at these videos and smile!  If you share this day with me (or even if you don't), please watch them all and let us celebrate one more awesome trip around the sun!!