The Grand Miscellaney of Life

The Grand Miscellaney of Life

print out 2I have been away a bit longer than planned.  So rather than stay away and let the shadow of wanting to blog grow bigger and bigger, I’m going to reenter here with some rambling.  Sort of like getting your toes wet and then realizing you have to go ahead and dive into the waves or you’re going to spend the rest of the day on the beach.

Blogging is a nod to my writing self, who isn’t a major player in my art but who does like acknowledgement every now and then.  So of course I decided to start blogging at the same time I signed up for Patti Digh’s Project 137 for 2014 (through December 30), the 30-day challenge with Tea Silvestre at Story Bistro (September), and, as I have for 7 years now, Art Every DayMonth, every November, with Leah Piken-Kolidas.  I am either on a roll and it is time for inner writing girl to be upfront and forward, or I am crazy.

I think there’s more to it than that, though.

When I am under stress or confused about “what’s next” or in the middle of “man, is this uncomfortable”, I tend to get “busy” – I guess maybe that’s my way of dealing with stress.  If I’m really busy, I don’t have time to  obsess.  Except of course in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping.  So all of the above, plus working on my step risers (a bow to my inner artist child who actually holds all the keys to my life – have to keep her happy) lead me to believe that I am in transition.  And that all of the above will help me work through this transition if I pay attention.  Patti’s project is very introspective.  Tea’s is about on-line business – something I’m thinking about again.  Leah’s project is both a personal tradition, now,  and a loosening up of the critical artist eye, since making art every single day and being angsty about it doesn’t work.  I’m also buying books.  You know, the ones that are supposed to help you figure out the world and the way it runs.

And here I am writing my way to clarity, by writing it all out (with several paragraphs of explanation around the stress deleted since the particulars aren’t really the focus, it’s the overarching cycle that I want to pay attention to).

Interestingly enough, it was buying books this morning that clued me in on the transition thing. print out

Patti’s project had a lovely video with Lauren Rosenfeld, author of “Breathing Room.”  It is ostensibly about clutter.  I adamantly resist all this decluttering fad that has been going on for years now specifically because “clutter” to me (being the visual person I am) is more about possibilities and art than something that drains me.  In fact, it can be down right energizing.  But the definition of clutter that is being discussed is not about things so much as it is about things that don’t belong.  It is about having an intention for the spaces in your environment and realizing that you are being dragged down by a misalighnment of intention and objects.  Fascinating!

Lauren talks about “accidental collections”:  28 boxes of teas, 12 shades of red lipstick.  We buy these things over time because we believe they are going to fix difficult emotions [this is basically the same concept as retail therapy].

Anyways, in participating with a meme on Facebook about naming 10 favorite books off the top of your head and naming 10 others to do the same, I found myself checking out some titles on Amazon, and wound up following a “you’ll like this” thread to 2 books that looked fascinating, weren’t to be had at the local library (always my first stop), and wouldn’t be good on Kindle if they were in fact as good as they sounded and

step risers:  mosaic and letters by Tammy Vitale

step risers: mosaic and letters by Tammy Vitale

reviewed.  Let’s face it, for some of us, having paper books is required for on-going self-work.  Writing notes on Kindle is not the same as arguing with a concept in the margins of a paper book.

So anyways, after I ordered the books I wondered if my books were an accidental collection.  Remember I have just gone through and gotten rid of 2 bookcases of books and told myself I’d hold to one floor to ceiling bookcase, which is packed, and here I am ordering books.  Hmmm.

I didn’t cancel the order.  I really want to at least look at the books.  Maybe I’m not comfortable with my office being so pristine.  It doesn’t look like my space.  Or maybe I AM making accidental collections (although they will be purposeful from here on out now that I’m aware of that “belief that a thing or things are going to fix difficult emotions”).

I’d call that a tiny step of success.  Awareness is always good.

Here’s something from a dear FaceBook friend, written just last evening, that seems pertinent, so I’ll leave you with it:

“Nothing is better ignored. Everything conceivable longs to be heard, otherwise it can neither heal us or prepare us for the next voice.” Jacqualine-Marie Nunes Baxman





Why Go on Vacation?

Why Go on Vacation?

rainbow over sand dunes by Tammy Vitale

look up and see. Photo by Tammy Vitale, Outer Banks, N.C.

Silly question.  I’m sure most of us (unless we hate being aimless and want every hour of our day scheduled – I know some do) can answer this quickly. I have in the past and since summer is drawing to an end, just in case you haven’t taken yours yet, I thought I would encourage you.  Maybe you need a 2nd one?! 11 Reasons to go on vacation (see the original post here). 1. to look up and see 2.  to look down and pay attention 3.  to remember wonder 4. to awaken awe 5. to meet new people 6. to stretch the boundaries of your imagination

lady bug in a foot print, photo by Tammy Vitale

look down and see, photo by Tammy Vitale at Westmoreland Park, VA

7. to get lost (my trip to Yellowstone) 8. to build new foundations 9. to strengthen old traditions 10. to remember who you really are 11. to come home and remember why you love where you live   12.  lagniappe:   to take time to write (from Rehobeth Beach, 2009): 1.  9/1/09 Rehobeth Beach, DE:  it is 67degrees, a harbinger of Fall approaching in the early morning.  From the North a strong wind whips up whitecaps, waves race each other to shore, seafoam somersaults across wet sand.  The world is populated only by Plovers, a variety of gulls, and me, standing rapt before the pound of surf.  Salty spray wets my hair and my eyelashes.

daybreak, Outer Banks, photo by Tammy Vitale

daybreak, Outer Banks, photo by Tammy Vitale

The sun is rising.  From my stomach something else is rising: unnameable and full of yearning; a recognition of the power of endless water – it’s kinship with the salty fluid that runs through my own veins; the clarity of connection at a very basic level.  The longing for this to last lodges in my throat, causes a sharp intake of breath, might yet manifest as tears.  The seconds extend and extend. It is here that I open without thought to my true self – to the Wylde and Wise Woman I am when the stories end and really true begins. In the space desires rise, drift away.  When I meet myself I am complete and perfect in my human imperfection, and it is enough. 9/2/09.  I rise at 6:30, take 30 minutes shower, 15 to dress.  The clock ticks steadily forward to departure.  My last day here.  I walk 12 yards or so to the beach.  Today the wind comes directly off the water and is gently warmer than yesterday, the water no longer capped white and frothy, waves rolling over each other like puppies. I check the clock at Grotto’s Pizza.  It is 10 minutes to 7. The sun climbs.  The sky is distantly robin’s egg blue; closer in, dense charcoal gray clouds sit motionless despite the wind, place holders as far as I can see – all the way to

the sandy beach and bridge at Solomons, 3 minutes from my house

why I love where I live: the sandy beach and bridge at Solomons, 3 minutes from my house

the horizon.  The sun slides behind the largest cloud, directly in front of me.  I look down, following a rollicking wave with my eyes, wonder if it will reach my toes.  I look up – there are rainbow prisms all around the cloud’s edges. Not impressed by the sun’s virtuosity, a young Laughing Gull, all brown and white feathers, sidles up to me hoping for a morning snack.  Finding none, it walks down the beach between the perfect tires tracks of earlier beach vehicles, leaving its own trail. Every day the sun follows its track across the sky.  Some times you can watch the long arc as light moves into dark; some days you can’t.  The wind blows or doesn’t blow; the water is calm or it isn’t calm.  The shore birds find food or they don’t.  Rainbows appear and disappear even when no one is watching. I turn.  The clock over Grotto’s Pizza still says 10 minutes to 7.  This is not magic.  That clock always says 10 minutes to 7.  Sometimes thing work better when they don’t work as originally planned Wylde Women’s Wisdom:

To the wylde divinity in each of us

even when the way is dark and full of brambles

and we are traveling blind


Fear and Freedom and Foolishness

Fear and Freedom and Foolishness

currently being passed around on facebook

currently being passed around on facebook

Elsewhere, in a private discussion, we are talking about what holds us back from living our life NOW.  Not after we lose 10 (or 60) pounds, are make more money, or get through just one more year of a job we hate, but NOW.

It got me to thinking.  Boundaries – those things you have that help you live a sane life – are not my strong point.  As the adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA), I’ve had to do a lot of guessing and really work hard at recognizing where my boundaries are and where they might should be.

My ACOA tendancies show up in both wanting for people to be happy with me and in being defensive because I keep running into people who seem to want to run over me.  I recognize this as their own insecurities but they trigger mine, and my defensiveness in turn triggers theirs and around and around we go.  At least I’ve learned to reach out and ask for outside help these days!

The discussion got me to wondering if wondering about boundaries is normal, or if I’m hyper sensitive/aware.  I don’t feel like I can embrace something that has ramifications beyond myself (and being in a family means what happens to me does affect others,) that might be detrimental to them or my agreements with them.  Were I alone, my life would probably look a good deal different that it does now, but I’m not, and by choice I stay in these relationships.  So, instead, I embrace my “wylde” a bit at a time (although I am sure there are those in my family who would argue otherwise), and try things on for size.  This does not make me feel as if I’m waiting for something to happen before I do something I want to.


If I had a good retirement income, my life would be different.  I am not waiting for that because there is nothing on the horizon beyond my continuing to work that will give me an income that allows me to do things I like – art and travel and girls’ days out and retreats – in moderation.  That’s good enough until grace falls out of the sky and changes all of that (for the record, if anyone is listening, I’m waaaay open to changing all of that!)

I don’t find it hard to embrace my life, whether I think it is where I want to be or not.  In this, I have been guided for years by a lovely Tragically Hip lyric:  no dress rehersal: this is our life.  (at second 54 on this video)

Obstacles to “living fully” (if you want to call it that) come more from trying to figure out where the lines are between fea,r freedom and foolishness, between exercising good judgement and diving into an empty swimming pool hoping to grow wings on the way down.  Into the abyss is different – you have a longer time to grow the wings!

Let’s face it, fear can be healthy:  if you are being charged by an angry rhino, it is good to be afraid.  If you are only afraid of the possibility of being charged by an angry rhino, not so much.  Freedom then becomes taking proper precautions and going to see the rhino in the wild because she is so magnificent.rhinos

Day to day I sometimes find it hard to figure out which of those scenarios I’m in.  Is that person at work really out to get me come hell or high water or do my own insecurities and theirs have us circling each other, both of us dancing with possibilities?

What do you think?  How do you identify your boundaries and then hold them?  I’m all ears!

Wylde Women’s Wisdom

For TOO LONG you have allowed the past to affect you!
For TOO LONG you have taken personally what others say about you!
For TOO LONG you have stood on the sidelines watching others thrive!
For TOO MANY NIGHTS you have gone to bed worrying about what may be.
For TOO LONG you have held a fear in your heart.
For TOO LONG you have settled for second best!!

NOW is the time to awaken!
NOW is the time to shine!
NOW is the time to ACCEPT that you are DIVINE!!

This is my message for you – allow it to touch the deepest parts of your being – to help you awaken to the truth – that you do deserve to live a GREAT life – and whatever that means for you!

~ Lee-Anne Peters ~

TBT – How Many Blackbirds….

TBT – How Many Blackbirds….

one of my favorite torsos, sold years back.  Never got such a nice red glaze again.  TBT old  photos

one of my favorite torsos, sold years back. Never got such a nice red glaze again. TBT old photos

Almost forgot (and almost broke my successful string of 2 weeks posting 5 days a week!). Random choice and was delighted to see myself writing about an upcoming workshop with someone named Connie James, who has since turned into a tight art pal.

Lovely to back and read when that happened! So here’s tbt How Many Blackbirds – I don’t know that it’s anything other than a sort of record of where I was that day.  Certainly nothing earth shaking, but sometimes that’s the very best kind of day, isn’t it?!

Monday Musings

Monday Musings

What would you do if you were fearless?

What would you do if you were fearless?

Actually, I think all of this current writing is musings; nonetheless, today’s prompt says that this is musings Monday and I am to pick a quote and write about it, see where it goes.

Another of those madly open ended ideas I jotted to “help” me blog more regularly.

A trip to the bookcase – much pared down these days but still full of goodies I can visit and revisit – left me with David Whyte and Brene Brown in hand.  Brene won this round.  In The Gifts of Imperfection  she says:

If we want to live and love with our whole hearts, and if we want to engage with the world from a place of worthiness, we have to talk about the things that get in the way – especially shame, fear, and vulnerability.

Some of the best writing I read on the web is the writing of women who are being open and vulnerable.  Their “real” rings true and calls each of us to follow.

Interestingly enough, a friend, a bit younger than me, has started a secret page on FB (invite only) to talk about how we women of a certain age see ourselves.  Want to talk about a place of shame, fear and vulnerability?  Talk to a 60 something woman about what is going on in her head every time she looks in the mirror.  (For reference, I am 66).

There’s something about going on vacation and seeing yourself in strange mirrors that seems to make things come into view that your safe home mirror doesn’t call attention to.  Maybe it’s lighting, or that most of my mirrors stop at the waist, or the one that shows me waist down so I can check my pants or skirt – no head attached (no denial there, right?).

Hubby and I went on a magnificent vacation in July and I had an opportunity to seriously check myself out in some full length mirrors (gasp), naked (double gasp) and

Tammy in front of a redwood tree

Me in front of a redwood tree, 2014.

remember why I don’t shop for clothes in department stores anymore.  It isn’t just because shopping on line is easy and painless and I can send things back if they don’t fit.  It’s those 3 way mirrors in the dressing rooms!

We also took a bunch of pictures and I will tell you that I had to steel myself against looking at pictures of me.  None of these photos is the one I carry of myself in my head.  That vision is about 45 years old, weighs approximately 60 lbs less, is still wearing her hair shoulder length and has her own eyebrows and a fuller mouth.  Did you know that your nose keeps growing throughout your life and your lips get thinner?  Things I think of as I look in strange mirrors and at photographs of myself.  Including the full length one of me in front of a giant redwood where I fail to look tiny.

Shame:  how the hell did I let my body go like this?  Well, honey, let’s face it.  Back in your skinny days you were on a cocktail of 3 hours of go-go-dancing every day for a living, and as much speed as you could buy, beg, or borrow.  If you don’t anything about speed, let me tell you that it keeps you from eating, and also helps keep a very clean house because you don’t sleep either.  So, by the standards of the world I looked great but I wasn’t doing any favors for my body.  I apologize to my body all the time these days and thank it for continuing to take care of me despite my lack of care in earlier days.  Still, I want to look like that.  My body may be

How I see myself until I look in a mirror.

How I see myself until I look in a mirror. Me around 1972. I LIKE pictures of me in the early 70s!

paying me back, but when I hit menopause at 52 my ability to easily shed pounds stopped dead in the water, and the weight began to creep on.  I ignored it until I couldn’t.  Now I don’t quite know what to do with it.  So I eat organically about 75% of the time (when I’m note eating out), and make sure I use the elliptical or the garden or cleaning house to move more than I sit, and make peace with no longer being 45.  Or even 55.  Never mind 25.  And I make peace with myself as I am every single time I look in the mirror.  Because the 60 something women that are on tv and in magazines and everywhere else that bombard us daily certainly don’t look like me!

Here’s a post of some work Heather Brooks and I have done around Body Image.  We call it Body Politics.

Fear:  I spent way too many years feeling like I was already too old to do whatever it was I wanted to do at the time because I wouldn’t have time (starting in my 20s no less!).  I have always been afraid that there isn’t enough time.  In the last year I have let go of that, recognizing that if I keep worrying about not having time, I will stop living my life and I’m even more afraid of laying on my death bed saying:  I wish I had gone ahead and done that/spent that money/taken that trip/allowed that bigger scary idea to have a chance to come to fruition.  Being an artist helped with all this.  I was afraid I started too late but then realized that the art I was making now is way different than what I would have made in my younger version simply because of experiences I now bring to creating.  Everything blooms in its own time and if you rush it, the cracks are going to show, the plant is going to die or the clay is going to explode in the kiln.  Nothing like clay to teach you how to live your life!  (I”ve written more about this here:  What is the Fear that Will Stop You?)

Vulnerability:  Sometimes gifts don’t seem like gifts when we first encounter them.  From 17 – 34 I was in an abusive relationship.  I divorced him and remarried him and had 2 kids with him and finally untangled myself.  That untangling taught me some good things and some bad things.  The best thing I learned was the difference between empowering and enabling.  That understanding led me into the 2nd (middle) part of my life doing community-based organizing around issues of social justice.  It also held me in good stead when my son went into 10 years of drugs and alcohol addiction (he is clean and sober and just celebrated 6 years that way).  To be a good organizer, you have to be permeable.  You have to listen between the lines.  You have to feel what isn’t being said.  That kind of opening always left me vulnerable to whatever energy was flying around and needed a place to roost.  Learning that it wasn’t my energy to keep and learning to bless it and send it on its way, took another 25 years or so.  I’m still practicing how to be open an vulnerable without being available to random energy.

Me, as I sit here writing this blog.

Me, as I sit here writing this blog.

Anger.  Not mentioned in Brene’s quote, but my underlying friend forever.  I have spent way too much time being angry because the world doesn’t work like I was told it did as a child.  Do your best, get married, have kids, live happily ever after.  Obviously my own experience as been “a tad” different.  I think making peace with things happening as and when they happen, whether or not I’m ready for whatever that is, has been one of my hardest lessons.  And stubborn person that I am, it has taken me the longest to make peace with.  You’d think that seeing the amazing things that grew out of that abusive situation would have given me a clue that there’s always a pony buried in the shit, but no.  It has taken age and even more experience to realize that I may not be seeing the whole picture, and to trust that whatever I am in the middle of, if I am being true to my heart and myself, will work out well for everyone, self included.

Love.  Also not mentioned but definitely within the scope of “musings” and where this quote takes me.  My greatest accomplishment is to remember that when I feel empathy, I must feel it for myself first.  When I am moved to care for, I must be moved to care for myself first.  When I am moved to love, I must love myself first.  And I must feel that kind of love fully as I feel it for my husband and children and best friends, for myself.  I’ve heard it on and off all my life, but I haven’t truly understood it and remembered it regularly until very recently.

In the end, I am ready to make peace with everything, even not being younger and beautiful anymore, because I have attained some wisdom.  Wisdom being the process that it is, I am still acquiring.  But none of the earlier stuff (skinny, pretty, able to run longer and jump higher (as son was wont to say of new shoes)), none of it, it worth giving up what I’ve won through life experience and reflection on it.

Here’s to the opportunity to grow older and wiser and to the wisdom it brings.  May I learn to share it with the world.


Things That Strike My Fancy

Lessons 2013, Dreams 2014:  A vision journal page

Lessons 2013, Dreams 2014: A vision journal page

My cheat list for encouraging me to blog every day suggest that today is “Solitary Saturday:  miscellaney, whatever strikes my fancy.”

It is clear to me that the range of possibilities here is enough to stop me in my tracks, so perhaps I had better rethink that prompt.

In the meantime, because it is pertinent to what I do – make art – I will share some thoughts around art.

I was recently turned onto the short and sweet and quickly available on Kindle book, Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleoni.

It is a quick read but requires going back and thinking about what’s being said in a more leisurely fashion.  Which I will do here because (1) it will make me take the time to revisit the book which the content begs for, and (2) if I think about it out loud, I will have to order my thoughts and that will bring the abstract into the concrete world which is much more beneficial than having incomplete ideas running around in my head.

Kleoni starts the book (he is a writer) with:

Andre Gide put it, “everything that needs to be said has already been said,.  But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”

Jay drumming.  Meditation, 24x36 collage portrait by Tammy Vitale

Jay drumming. Meditation, 24×36 collage portrait by Tammy Vitale

Boy if that doesn’t knock the “I don’t know what to write/paint/sculpt – it’s already all been done” out of you, nothing will.  Before he even starts talking about doing your work, he knocks out a huge block:  who’ll pay attention?  what do I have to offer?  Which made me immediately like him and be inclined to get all the way through his thoughts.

But let’s linger with that for a moment.  Because for me my greatest doubts come in around why I should take the time and practice the persistence to do something someone else has surely already done, and probably done better (ok – that “done better” happens to be the voices in my own head.  But I do not think I’m alone in that).

The fact is, I know better from work outside my art.  (And here’s a secret:  EVERYTHING plays into your creative life.  If you aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in the mundane, you are missing a great deal of inspiration. )  In putting together workshops for nonprofits (among the tasks of my day job), I hire different facilitators to teach the same material.  And each of them has a slightly different take, and participants take away a different “my favorite new idea” from these workshops.  Same topic.  Different presentation/nuance/focus.  Because I do written evaluations with open ended questions, I get to see this time and time again.  So my daily life experience absolutely supports what Gide says.  That’s a take-away that makes the whole book worth while even if I stopped there.  I didn’t.

Kleoni’s take on all this is:  You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life.  You are the sum of your influences.  The German writer Goethe said, ‘We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”

Shades of the Law of Attraction!  Only presented in a way (some content, different wording) that makes experiential sense to me, not if-I-hope-enough-and-pretend-there-aren’t-any-bad-things-in-the-Universe-enough-I-will-get-what-I-want kind of no-sense to me.  Granted I tend to be a skeptic about the Law of Attraction, and am down right tired of:  oh, if it’s happening to you it must be what you called, or need, or whatever on your spiritual level.  Ahem.  Bullshit.   But, if it is presented to me that *everything I LOVE (important distinction)* I let into my life (including all those things I let in

You Are the Universe in Ecstacy.  Collage by Tammy Vitale AEDM 22, 2013

You Are the Universe in Ecstacy. Collage by Tammy Vitale AEDM 22, 2013

when I was young and had no filters or didn’t know better or was in a learning mode) affects my creativity then I am more careful, now that I know to be careful, about what I love.

I did then what I knew how to do.  Now that I know better, I do better.  Maya Angelou

So each new creation we allow to come through us may have been written/sung/painted/danced/spoken before, but in this instance it is filtered through our unique human experience and so it must be something new under the sun.  Bayles and Orland, in Art and Fear say:  Each new piece of your art enlarges our [everyone' else's] reality.  The world is note yet done.

Sera Beak, in The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark, says

This is a mysteriously connected universe.  We don’t always consciously know how far our energy might reach and how intense its effect might be, but by doing what you intuitively feel you should be doing in this world, you are actually , believe it or not, helping to infuse this planet and even the entire cosmos with deep soulful purpose as well as encouraging other beings to seek out and bravely live their own role.

To not take what we love from those who have gone before us and refashion it through our own love and life experiences, then, becomes an act of selfishness that stops the forward movement of *everyone* and *everything*.  Which is not to say “shame on you” because, according to Brene Brown, “Shame keeps us from telling our own stories and prevents us from listening to others tell their stories.  We silence our voices and keep our secrets out of the fear of disconnection.”  Rather it is to say:  “Courage!” and “Have the audacity to reach out to others when you need to lean on someone – those others are waiting for your creativity in their own lives!” and “Onward – Begin!”

Well, all right!  That was definitely miscellany!  So I can rest for the day having fulfilled my own creative mandate.

What helps you get through doubt to your heart work?  Who do you use for inspiration and why?  Would love to hear from you!

Wylde Women’s Wisdom

You came with instincts and imperatives, and they will thrust through the mud and bud in their own glad season.  It’s not your answers or ideas that you need to worry about.  It’s your resistance to your ideas, any immediate reaction to choke the strange and uncomfortable. .. There’s nothing to choose.  Just something to set loose.  Tama Kieves, This Time I Dance


In my prompt list for days of the week I hope to blog, today is Favorites Friday. S

hould I mention it just took me 5 minutes to find where I wrote that list?

Ok, I won’t.  I will continue to let you believe I am fabulously organized right down to giving myself regular prompts so I have no excuse for not getting around to blogging. My note say:  pictures, Pinterest boards, video, books, blogs. Let’s be bountiful!  How about one of each?

person standing by a redwood tree

Hubby by a child redwood – only about 600 – 800 years old.

Pictures You may or may not know that Hubby and I just went on vacation in July:  whale watching in DePoe Bay Oregon staying at the charming Whale Rendezvous  B&B on the Pacific with a cove where a whale came through and spouted 3 time to say goodbye to us, and then down to commune with the redwood trees in northern California, staying in Trinidad at exquisite Lost Whale Inn B&B.  Both places had huge windows where we gazed out at the water, the first right on it, the second on a cliff.  Yes, we splurged.  Yes, I’m glad we did it even after paying off the charge card for the month. No we did not have time to sample all the amenities at either but the idea of them was grand.

Tip:  if you drive the coastal towns in Oregon, pay attention to the speed limits.  No matter it’s a 4 lane wide road with no traffic, if it says 20 mph, you better go 20 mph.  Fair warning!  (which is to say Florence Oregon is a freaking speed trap).

Here’s my favorite picture:  Hubby by a young ( 600 – 800 year old) redwood tree.  To me, this picture speaks of it all:  the trees’ magnificence, our own place in the Universe (these trees always make me think of a Tragically Hip song.  It’s about the Grand Canyon but works for the trees as well:  “You get to feel small, but not out of place at all.  And the rest of the world becomes a gift shop.”)  I am ever so grateful to the folks who fought and continue to fight to keep these trees safe from the wood cutters’ saws.

Pinterest Board Ok – is there any such thing as one favorite Pinterest Board?  It really depends on the day, what I’m working on creatively, and how much time I have to get off on a track.  So I’ll just share my Art-Inspiration board.  Maybe it will inspire you.  Or if you don’t need inspiration today, maybe you’ll just enjoy looking at the pretties that catch my eye.  Go ahead, click through!  There are 620 pictures – you’re bound to find a few that you love!  I have a separate one for art-horse inspiration (only 41 pins – much more manageable in short spurts of interest).  Belatedly I found the need to start separating things out so the boards didn’t get too massive.  I’m behind on that but I know now to make specific, not general boards.

Video Hands down my latest favorite video is of an armadillo playing with a pet toy.  First of all, who would think of armadillos as having personality?  Then of playing with toys?  And who knew they pounce?  I could watch this daily!

But there is another video that also captured my heart…in case you haven’t seen Misty Copeland dance yet, have a look:

Books Oh. Where to start.  Like Pinterest, there are so many books, and I”ve been reading like crazy lately, so have a huge stack to choose from! But I”ll share a fun one with you this week.  It covers time travel (but only as a peripheral to the story), has a love story (I don’t think this is the main theme but it does run through the whole thing), a mystery:  what happened to the bishop’s bird stump?, and rolicking, laugh out loud, entirely wonderfully written slap stick comedy with a bit of history thrown in.  I laughed out loud.  A lot, not just in one part.  If you need encouragement, the author, Conni Willis, is a Nebula Award winner, and if you like sci fi you know that’s prestegious.  Don’t pay any attention to the comments that try to take away from the writing.  It is excellent!  I present, To Say Nothing of the Dog for your reading enjoyment. And there you have it.  A Favorites Friday posting for your leisure pleasure.

TBT: It’s About Time

What In Your LIfe Is Calling You?  Collage by TammyVitale, peom by The Terma Collective, "The Box:  Remembering the Gift"

What In Your LIfe Is Calling You? Collage by TammyVitale, peom by The Terma Collective, “The Box: Remembering the Gift”

So my Thursday blogs are throw backs (and the chosen picture has been published before too).

I randomly chose a page (#10) and picked the title that caught my eye, and read:  It’s About Time written October 18, 2011.  That’s almost 3 years ago.  Speaking of time, it certainly does fly!  Do you have time to click through and read it?

How do you think about time?  Is it your friend, neutral or your enemy?

What is “enough” time.

And if you had more time, how would you spend it.

Do you wish your life away?  (If only this week would be over!  Tomorrow I’m going to……..  Next year we can……..).

Love to hear your thoughts!

Wylde Women’s Wisdom

written by Pete Seeger in the 1950s (and here I thought is was a Byrd’s song! – time I learned the correct reference!)

The lyrics are taken almost verbatim from the Book of Ecclesiastes (late 3rd century BC), as found in the King James Version (1611) of the Bible[2] (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8), though the sequence of the words was rearranged for the song. Ecclesiastes is traditionally ascribed to King Solomon.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.


Blood and Honey

Blood and Honey

person standing by a redwood tree

Hubby by a child redwood – only about 600 – 800 years old.

Last Christmas longest friend Linda (64 years!!!) gave me a Kindle book I asked for:  Blood and Honey Icons:  Briosemiotics and Bioculinary: The Pedagogy of South Slavic Women War Crimes Survivors Social Collective Practices.

Are you suitably impressed?

Amazon describes it thus:

Blood and Honey Icons are the representation of past and present life experiences, directions passed down throughout the millennia that speak of what space we occupy in navigating our journeys through our own lives. Biosemiotics adds depth to the pedagogy of South Slavic Female War and War Crimes Survivors Social Collective Practices.

About 10 years ago, in my middle 50s, I learned that I have a Slavic (Czechoslovakian) maternal birth grandmother when I wrote to the adoption agency my parents had used.  I learned of the agency when my Dad died in 1994.  I had always known I was adopted, but my parents told me Greek – and they were correct in that my maternal grandfather was newly immigrated from there.  But, being the person I am, I prefer to track via the maternal blood line.  Well, I don’t know which part of Czechoslovakia she came from since there no longer is a Czechoslovakia and back then they wouldn’t have thought to ask where, so I figured Slavic would cover some of what I carry in my gene line, hence my interest in this book.  Not to mention it mentions Social Collectives, Women survivors and symbols.

I’ve had the book almost a year and apparently only now is the time for me to make some sense of it, after several tries over the past months.  The writing is academic at best and too many run on sentences and jargon at worst.  Which is to say, I find it necessary to really pay attention and in some instances parse the sentences to figure out what the author is talking about.  Lucky me to have grown up in a time when diagramming sentences was still taught in schools.  I wasn’t good at it then, but I love knowing parts of speech and how they fit together now!   I digress (and what else is new?  It is, after all, Monday Musings blog day, so I am covered).

Which is all by way of introducing my musings.

Author Danica Anderson says:  Our hectic lives keep us from seeing and truly experiencing the physical landscapes around us, which in turn has blinded us to our inner landscape.

Musings:  Ah!  Why we should go on vacation!  When we are disconnected from a feeling of place, we disconnect from ourselves.  Many of us move around a lot of these days.  Sometimes looking for that feeling, sometimes never having had it so not missing it consciously.  I was born in Washington D.C., raised in Arlington VA, took a few years’ side trip to Fort Lauderdale, FL, where daughter was born, and have settled in Maryland.  Close the Chesapeake.  I have an affinity for water.  And mostly I like Maryland; however, Southern Maryland where I live is actually more like a part of the South and Virginia.  I was afraid of it at first, but this area has taught me that where ever there is a hard influence (think the South and some less than progressive Southern ideas, including good ole boys and the way politics run), there is a countering influence.  What a lovely discovery!  I do believe I belong here in Maryland, on a river or the bay or a creek or a pond, unable to see my neighbors because of trees, and wider open spaces.

step bridge over dry river landscaping

I have recently added a “dry river” with a bridge to my front yard. It is very zen.

I’ve been camped here for 20 years now, and love it.  But I think even though I speak to my trees every morning and every evening, and listen to their seasonal voices on purpose, I still miss *seeing* the physical landscape.  Maybe not so much right now since the physical landscape and I are in regular close proximity as I reorder my front yard, and add art all around, both of which birth in me an inclination to just walk around admiring what’s going on.  But still, there is an “i know what’s there” piece to even my enjoyment of newly changed spaces.

Which returns us to why we go on vacation!

Fog rolling in off the Pacific Ocean

Fog rolling in off the Pacific Ocean. Don’t like it? Hop over the mountain or up the road for sun.

Taking myself out of the known and comfortable, even if it’s changing, means going away so that my senses are all perked up from seeing things I’ve never seen before (DePoe Bay Oregon, whales, the convection fog from the interaction of ocean and valley).  I don’t know the weather or the sky or what to expect.  Well, they don’t either since the valley weather predicts the shore line weather but that’s neither here nor there for this discussion.  So I pay attention to the fog and how it is in one spot but not another, how we could sleep with windows open, how wet and green and brightly flowered that fog keeps *everything*.

And then a revisit to the redwoods (see picture above), which we have seen before, but which are ever amazing to me.  Wild and growing, of course they are going to change in the 10 years from our first visit, more healed from past logging scars, more land reclaimed (blessings to all those who fight to save and maintain these majestic wonders of the world), and a relighting of the passion their energy always ignites in both me and my husband.

And new art.  Anywhere I go I want to see what’s there.  Loved Port Orford’s art scene – small as it is, it is spectacular.  There’s Hawthorne Gallery, and 2 smaller not on internet that I can find.  I brought home a redwood mobile hanging from my new pergola in my front yard.

Audio is terrible but you “get the picture” in this video with Julie Hawthorne:

I also came home with a wonderful pice of work by Lida PenkovaGirl Power,  from the Sewell Gallery Fine Art in Eureka, CA where we went to look at Victorian houses

Girl Power by Lida Penkova, purchased from Sewell Gallery Fine Art in Eureka CA

Girl Power by Lida Penkova, purchased from Sewell Gallery Fine Art in Eureka CA


Which is to say I came home filled with inspiration and vowing (as I have before when coming home from the West Coast) to look with new eyes at my own area, because people come here too for vacation.

I think I’ll stop here and take a breather.  Where have you gone that has opened your eyes?  Are you sleep walking or are you experiencing where you live every day?  Tell me!

Wylde Women’s Wisdom (yes, I’ll bring these back for a while too – I have missed searching them out and sharing them with you!)

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions:

When did you stop Dancing?

When did you stop Singing?

When did you stop being enchanted by Stories?

When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of Silence?

Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves and where we have stopped them is where we have experienced the loss of soul.”

~ Gabrielle Roth

Consecrate One Day for an Orgy of Reading

The title is  a quote by Noelle Oxenhandler, in The Wishing Year.  And it seems appropriate for publishing on a Sunday.

I wrote that in my journal on 1/2/14, perhaps cementing an orgy of reading for the full year on-line, via Kindle and using that amazing thing called the library.  And now that I have let playing Bejeweled and Zuma Blitz go, I’m reading even more.

How do you read?  I’m an underliner, thus, though I love my Kindle, after I highlight I try to go back and copy the highlighted areas into a journal so I won’t lose them.  I’m sure there’s a way to pull up all the highlights in all the books, but I haven’t sought it out yet (good task for today).  Meanwhile, I do have a journal filling up with delicious quotes.

Today I’m going to share.

At year’s beginning I started on a journey that is on-going:  try to sort out all of this law of attraction stuff into something that makes real sense.  I tend to trust my own experience more than gurus’ latest whatever, and 6 years of practicing the art of attraction tells me, experientially, that call and it will come is not exactly how it works.  So how does it work?  That’s the journey.  You’ll see the connection, some of it serendipity as I read, in what follows.

my journal note 1/2/14:  As much as I’d like to follow in their footsteps, I don’t trust the markers they’ve laid down for me.  In the dark of the night when I really need these markers, it will turn out that they weren’t white stones but only bread crumbs, already eaten by the birds.

From Wishing Well:  Making Your Every Wish Come True, Paul a’ikina Pearsall

The best way to understand how a wish works is to think of it as a tiny spurt of energy.  Like everything in the Universe, our thoughts or intentions are also forms of energy.  When we focus our intentions by making a wish, we are creating a tiny energetic shove within the system of which we are an inseparable  part.  Because of the power of intentions to be nonlocal, to transcend time and space, they ever so slightly move the cosmos.  This is why one simple wish can help swing things a little more our way. [emphasis mine]

my note says:  so we can send our wishes out looking for acceptance-ready niches in our environment – nonlocal and timeless.

The art of wishing is inextricably bound to the art of magic.  And magic takes us as far back as our species…Our ancestors couldn’t afford to be shy about informating the gods and spirits of their earthly desires…the art of wishing arises in the place where human power and powerlessness meet (Noelle Oxenhandler: The Wishing Year:  A House, a Man, My Soul)

Neil Gaiman’s New Year’s wish (good for revisiting in the middle of the year):

May your coming year be filled
with magic and dreams
and good madness.
I hope you read some fine books
and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful,
and don’t forget to make some art -
write or draw or build or sing or live
as only you can.
And I hope, somewhere in the next year,
you surprise yourself.

If every year goes like this year, I am going to make it a habit of reading that on New Year’s Eve for the rest of my life!  I also reread Gaiman’s American Gods, an awesome love story hiding in a story about what happens to the gods when people no longer believe in them, and a perennial favorite.  On my Kindle now.

Finn Butler came into my life through FaceBook.  On her blog she says this about her poem that went viral:

Even though I’m not particularly fond of that poem myself, it still thrills me to hear that my work has helped someone with their mental health or their general wellbeing. Keep working at it! In the past I often felt that my daily actions couldn’t have an impact on the looming darkness of mental illness… then one day I just woke up and realised how far I had come already. Whatever it is you’re fighting, you’re going to get there. I’m so proud of you. 

I think none of us knows the ripples we send out with our words.  I’ve often found that posts I liked the least received the strongest, most persona, feedback from at least one person who was evidently waiting to read what I chucked off as good enough.  Which is why I’m writing blogs again.  My way of sending grace out into the Universe for whomever needs it at the moment.

Anyways, you will also want to read her poem:

Everyone who terrifies you is sixty-five percent water,
and everyone you love is made of stardust, and I know sometimes
you cannot even breathe deeply, and
the night sky is no home, and
you have cried yourself to sleep enough times
that you are down to your last two percent, but

Nothing is infinite,
not even loss.

You are made of the sea and the stars, and one day
you are going to find yourself again.

And here’s an excerpt from a blog, responding to my own blog hop, by Jacqualine Marie Nunes Baxman, who doesn’t write nearly as much as I’d like to read her!

My process is probably nothing more than paying attention.  I am a master observer, a voyeur of sorts, and I know how this tendency was born.  At the age of 9 or so, I was quarantined in my bedroom for 30 days.  Scarlet Fever. Raging hallucinations.  (In those days the treatment was daily injections of penicillin, a darkened room and “sponge” baths in a diluted solution of CN Plus Germicidal (no longer manufactured). Think Lysol mixed with Pine Sol.  My room was blue with a rocking chair that had a striped fabric seat.  My youngest brother was just a baby at the time and the summer was long and scattered with tanned construction workers rebuilding a sidewalk in our part of the neighborhood, each of them sweating and shouting as they laid down the new cement. One of them had blonde hair, blue eyes, perfectly straight white teeth and wore a white handkerchief around his neck to catch the beads of sweat.  He was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

Horned dogs and colicky babies
All screaming at the same time
Lavender crickets kissing my feet
And the sun bleeding diamonds
Into a sieve made of grey glass
The Chigger Man knows my name
The flames of Hell are blue
With stripes that creak when the wind blows
Remind me tomorrow why you’ve come

How could I not pay attention?  All I had to do was breathe and everything showed up.  It still shows up.   Once I stopped judging it, stopped expecting it to be what it did not want to be, it came faster, arriving when I needed it to and always with fresh news.  Writing is the big VOICE dancing.  Read Shakespeare.  He must have danced with the gods.  But my process really just involves knowing who I am, paying attention and leaving the light on for the muse. You will see.  There are surprises coming.

Finally, thanks to Pixel of Ink which sends me daily freebie lists for my Kindle,  I’ve also found a few good books in the library from their suggested books that would have cost me $$ on Kindle.  All in all, a very good deal fro discovering new writers

I’ll start (and end for today) with the library books:

Breakfast with Buddha, (this is a novel but is, in the end, also a teaching text) 

[Sickness is] all from the spirit.  Except sometimes people take for themselves a bad sickness so another soul will not have to, or so people will find for it a cure.  These things can be very complicated, taking some else’s karma…..[and on getting clear]  Live a good life.  Help people.  Meditate.  Live another good life.  Meditate some more.  Don’t hurt.  Don’t hurt.  Don’t hurt.

It seems to me that life often works that way:  You ask a certain question again and again, in a sincere fasion, and the answer appears…But…that answer arrives according to its own mysterious celestial timing, and often in disguise.  And it comes in a way you’re not prepared for, or don’t want, or can’t, at first, accept.

That last reminded me of one of my Wise Women Quotes:  Sunsets happen even when we don’t notice.  Grace falls down on us and we brush it off, annoyed that our clothes have all this sparkling stuff on them, when we have all these important things to take care of.

And for fun, To Say Nothing of the Dog,  which is slapstick comedy well-written, and considered sci-fi because it concerns time travel, but don’t let that stop you because it is more historical than sci-fi which is taken matter of factly, and it had me laughing out loud. 

I’d love to hear what you’re reading these days!  There’s no such thing as too many books waiting in line to be read.

P.S.  I had to come back and add something else:  How and Why to Keep A Commonplace Book because it seems as if that is what I’ve done all my life and didn’t even know it!  The things you learn.