This summer I am offering a ten-week session of Journal Jam and am so excited!
I have offered this lab many summers over the last decade and every year, I start getting emails in the spring asking if I will offer again. Many have told me that they pulled out old prompts to use during the stay-at-home requirements and are ready for more. So, if you want all fresh content, appropriate and scaleable for youngers to teenagers, I got you covered. You can sign up here.
Family Journal Jam will give you a daily jumping-off point for exploring and creating a journaling practice with your children. This can be life-changing for your family - and I am not overselling here, I believe in the power of writing and art-making for kids.
BUT--- I have come to understand that Journal Jam is really a curiosity-driven philosophy. It can happen in a journal, a camera roll, a vivarium on a nightstand, and in the kitchen. The journal is simply one place to wonder, explore, and record. It is a tool that provides space for expansive thinking.
The first 50 sign-ups get a welcome pack in the mail! They are going fast, so sign up now!
We have been spending a lot of time at the dog park. Our husky is friendly and wants to play with other dogs as much possible. After daily hikes in the woods and paying for dog daycare, we finally realized that the dog park is where she is able to get out the most energy and build relationships with dogs and humans. She runs, wrestles, and digs holes with a cast of canine characters that changes a bit day to day, but overall is pretty consistent.
The upside for dog parents is that they get a dose of human interaction. It is sort of like the parent waiting room at dance or the sidelines of a soccer game, but different in some big ways. First, the expectations are a lot lower (I think). People talk about their dogs, but there is no angst over their futures. We just want our dogs to have a good day today.
Like the dogs, there is a variety of ages and backgrounds at the dog park. Elderly retirees, musicians, doctors, teachers, service industry workers, and stay-at-home parents are all welcomed as long as you love your dog. Dogs are an equalizer.
And at the dog park, you have to be present. Watching to see when your dog poops, if she is getting aggressive, eating something inappropriate, or digging too big of a hole, there is no zoning out at the dog park. You've got to have eyes on your charge. Which means most people are standing and talking while monitoring the play space.
The rules at the dog park are known and followed more vigilantly here than other places - where people constantly try to rewrite guidelines based on their particular and momentary needs. Here, people alert you immediately if your dog poops, "Bailey pooped!" If your dog is biting or wrestling too rough, "Will you get your dog off Samson, he doesn't like it." And any other infraction, like a dog is too young, or too little, or in heat, is dealt with according to the rules. Conversations tend to be problem-driven and not too dramatic (usually).
It is a refreshing break in the workday and feels like a neighborhood community at its best.
"The blue of distance comes with time, with the discovery of melancholy, of loss, the texture of longing, of the complexity of the terrain we traverse, and with the years of travel."
-Rebecca Solnit (Field Guide to Getting Lost)
Losing myself in Rebeca Solnit's beautiful prose and thoughts. Especially in love with the idea about the atmospheric blue of distance and how it is something we long for yet can never reach. If you want a treatise on the value of getting lost and how to do it, I recommend this book.
I am reading a ton for my school work now and might start sharing a bit of that here in this long forgotten space. I have a few ideas of upcoming projects - so stay tuned!
Started reading On Immunity by Eula Bliss. Thinking about risk, inoculation, a body's duality of danger/vulnerability to the public and personal choice.
How do we mitigate risk? If the notion of risk was on a continuum, where would you situate yourself to feel safe? We all might say, "right in the middle," but I bet we drift far to one side or the other. Either very safe, minimal risk, overly cautious or lax, open to the unknown, no rules.
The Thai boys in the cave occupied my mind for the last week. Their curious exploration nearly cost them their lives. Their coach (who seems both responsible for their predicament and their survival) relied on his Buddhist teachings to keep them safe. Their mental strength and calm offered some immunity to the dangers of panic in their unbelievably, daring extraction from the cave.
My son spent the week forging a sword. He was surrounded by hot coal fumes, natural gas, gasoline, grinding wheels and metal sparks. He came home dirty, sore, with burn holes in his shirt and shaved knuckles. And skills, confidence, and passion. But it could have easily gone another way.
What if the risk does not result in a skill or higher good? What if it is just for fun? Is it still worth it?
I drop my daughter off in downtown New Haven for the afternoon with a friend. She knows her way around and is aware of potential dangers. But, do I want her navigating confrontations with the troubled men who populate the park? Does the fact that we spend time in NYC and other urban areas, modeling how to respectfully disentangle ourselves from altercations, offer some innoculation? Or is that a comforting myth? I am pretty streetwise and have been groped and robbed. Maybe the outcome would have been even worse without my awareness.
I am having a minor surgery for something that was only caught because I have insurance and the leisure to schedule and attend doctor's appointments. If I worked full time, lacked coverage and did not live in a safe area where I could occasionally leave my kids at home, I would have given up. It is costly and time-consuming and I am not even sure any of it is necessary. But I will continue to get tests and have procedures because it seems like a way of staying safe. I would like to have lunch with Barbara Ehrenreich. I am curious about her perspective on the whole thing.
To be clear, these are privileged risks. They carry weight but have built into them a certain safety. We have means and are of a class that does not tolerate others' (teachers, doctors, homeless men) carelessness with our safety. We have the police, lawyers, and citizens ready to jump in to protect us.
I wonder about the risks of crossing a desert or sea in the search for safety. What sort of inoculations are available for that? What horrible reality makes one risk their child's safety? And why do some put the blame on poor parenting instead of looking back to see what the parent is actually running from? Do we even know about such horrors? Do we lack the imagination? I think we do, and some of us more than others.
I have no resolution on any of this, it is merely the frame through which I am processing the time. One risk, one calculation, and one wild imagining at a time.
Every April I offer Poetry Jam in honor of National Poetry Month. It is the simplest but nicest of my labs, I think. Each day I send you a poem. These are curated from classics as well as the most contemporary poets. I spend the year reading, researching, attending readings and collecting in anticipation of sharing with you. The challenge for jammers is to simply read a poem every day for a month.
In addition to the poems, I share simple crafts, ideas, and resources that will help you add a little more poetry to your days past the lab. This session, I am going to add more writing prompts as well. The idea is not to write poems necessarily, but to use writing to catch images and memories as they bubble into your mind. It will be painless, I promise.
I have been writing a lot of poetry and experimental essays in the last year and although I usually do not feel like I have a firm grasp on what I am doing, I am always surprised and happy when I look back at the snapshots I am capturing of my life at this moment.
It is a good practice.
This lab, unlike my other ones, requires no social media presence. I will set up a FB group and Instagram hashtag, but they are completely optional.
Holiday Lab starts December 1st! It is 10 days of ideas, disruptions, and permissions to create the holiday season that works for you. No excuses.
You want to make all sorts of handmade gifts? Great.
Want to buy presents at big box stores? Awesome!
Trees? Live, fake or a ficus? It is all perfect!
There is no right way to "perform" the season other than the way that promotes the connections that you are seeking.
I have partnered with Merrick Weaver in the new online platform (megaphone) called Binderful. Binderful is a collection of women who teach, lead, inspire on a variety of topics - including homemaking, healing with plants, cooking, creative living, sexual health and more. The idea is that Binderful is a one-stop shop for gaining access to diverse voices in affordable, easily digestible classes and experiences.
Holiday Lab is the inaugural class being offered through this new platform. It is a start, a soft opening for what I hope will become a radical resource for better. If you want to join the lab and support this endeavor - just click on the photo above. Use the code mamascout for $15 off.