Wednesday, November 11, 2015

gathering is magic

This past weekend I flew to the Cuyahoga Falls National Park to gather with women from across the country. This is the third year I retreated with this group and to say it was magical is an gross understatement. 

We spend the days hiking, writing, painting, drumming, talking and listening, learning herbal alchemy and of course laughing until we snorted (or farted). 

I feel protective about the space and the sacredness of how we filled the time, but I am convinced that online tribe building can lead to lifelong friends of the best degree. Something powerful happens when we connect with other intentionally online and then take the daring step to meet in real life. 

I have been blogging and leading labs for awhile now and EVERY time I have moved out of my comfort zone and met a real life mama scout tribe member the connection has exceeded my expectations. 

These friendships are real. And so super saturated with goodness and intelligence and caring - that a few meetings a year can creatively and emotionally fill ones heart. 

Some wild cohorts and I are working on some really fabulous offerings in the upcoming year so stay tuned for those. 

In the mean time, if you are ready to get your holiday on, it is time to sign up for the annual Holiday Lab. Holiday Lab is a yearly grounding session to help you create the season you want. Your rules, your values, your dreams. It is a big dose of sanity stirred into your hot cocoa. Join us now (the first 50 sign ups get some happy mail from me!). 

Monday, November 9, 2015

{monday mission} read atypical books to your kids at bedtime

A great way to get more of your own books read is to incorporate them into your children's nighttime story time. Some of my favorite books over the last few years have been ones that were bedtime reading. 

We are now reading the above. It is an adult book about taking risks, getting uncomfortable, failing, and fully participating in life. My youngest is 9 and not only gets it, but gets really excited by the message and paraphrases it back to me. We call him mini Mama Scout. 

I think this concept can extend into other realms. What about a serious current science book or something by Malcolm Gladwell? Maybe a memoir or an old field guide (we like Jean-Henri Fabre). 

Scan your shelves or visit the library and see what sparks your interest. If you are moved by the text, your children will be too. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

{copy work} on being old

"They say, " she announced - "they say that when you get old, as I am, your body slows. I don't believe it. No, I think that is quite wrong. I have a theory that you do not slow down at all, but that life slows down for you. You understand me? Everything becomes languid, as it were, and you can notice so much more when things are in slow motion. The things you see! The extraordinary things that happen all around you, that you never even suspected before! It is really a delightful adventure, quite delightful!"

 My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

Friday, October 30, 2015

{explore} mural art in St Petersburg, Florida

If you are in the Tampa/St. Pete area, I encourage you to spend an afternoon touring downtown to enjoy all the mural and street art. St. Pete encourages and supports public mural art in a big way which makes the city vibrant and visitors lucky. The recent Shine festival helped add even more art to the walls. You can read more about the artists and get a tour map here

*And for refreshments, we love Bodega and Banyan Cafe.

Monday, October 26, 2015

{copy work} The Secret by Denise Levertov

The Secret

by Denise Levertov

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of

I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me

(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what
I can’t find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that

a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other

in other
happenings. And for
wanting to know it,

assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.

found on Poets.Org

Saturday, October 24, 2015

{read} Hold Still by Sally Mann

Oh, how I loved this book.

A memoir that goes back over a hundred years into a fascinating family history, a deep meditation on one's bond to land, and a treatise on working creatively while raising a family (and more importantly - becoming collaborators within a family, this is essential reading for creative parents!

Mann's intimate photographs of her family, published in the book Immediate Family,  shot her to national prominence (and infamy) in the early 90's. She photographed her children injured, naked, and in awkward positions (as well as playing, thoughtful, and engaged in life). As photographs, they definitely elicit a response from the viewer. They are beautiful and powerful and darkly capture a side of life with children that is not often talked about or even recognized. As a parent, one wonders what would prompt her to make these photographs and publish them to the world. She writes at length about her process, the children's cooperation and collaboration, the secluded and nearly feral life they led at their river cabin. It all makes sense. I do wonder (as does she) how her art would have been received in the digital age.

Most interesting to me are the photographs she took of her children when they were hurt or danger is implied. Nothing serious: stitches, imprints of bite marks, legs cadaverishly caked with mud, a child sleeping that calls to mind a 19th century death portrait, a child next to a freshly hunted deer or holding roasted squirrels.

Writing about an image of her child Jessie with a swollen face after an insect bite, Mann shares:

"As strange as it sounds, I found something comforting about this disturbing picture. Looking at the still-damp contact print, and then looking at Jessie, completely recovered and twirling around the house in her pink tutu, I realized the image inoculated me to a possible reality that I might not henceforth have to suffer. Maybe this could be an escape from the manifold terrors of child rearing, an apotropaic protection: stare them straight in the face but at a remove - on paper, in a photograph. 

With a camera, I began to take on disease and accidents of every kind, magnifying common impetigo into leprosy, skin wrinkles into whip marks, simple bruises into hemorrhagic fever. Even when a scary situation turned out benign, I replayed it for the camera with the worst possible outcome, as if to put the quietus on its ever reoccurring." 

She uses her camera to explore the darkest themes of motherhood in ways that are recognizable to most parents. The camera becomes a looking glass into futures nightmares you hope to never endure and the images take you as close to the edge before tumbling over.

The book also offers deep histories of race in the south, the unchanging landscape, marriage and illness, and death. Full of photographs and copies of letters, memos and various ephemera, the book is delightful, engaging and at times challenging to read. I highly recommend it.

This is the book to gift your book club friends, art lovers, and wild mamas. They will thank you.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

We are just layer upon layer of stories, fables, myths and poems to each other

This weekend we stumbled upon an estate sale in gentrified Winter Park near Orlando. We love attending auctions, yard sales and estate sales but have taken a break as we declutter our house and move to smaller quarters. Saturday, I remembered what we have been missing.

The single story Roman villa we entered was worn but spectacular even in its denuded state. We saw: terrazzo floors, high, high ceilings painted with a Disney palette straight from the "It's a Small World" ride, a square iron tub, and an original push button stove from the late 50's, early 60's. Built in's, thick plush carpet and canopy beds hinted at the past elegance with which the previous owner imbued the property with.

As we wondered from room to room, we began to build the life story of the owner. He travelled. A lot. We later heard that he had been to over 150 countries. There were African marks, shell specimens, small, intricately carved and inlaid boxes, and many sweatshirts, robes, bottle openers and such emblazoned with the resorts and cruises he enjoyed. He had many mirrors that reached to the ceiling, small oil landscapes, iron sculptures of conquistadors and some ancient church thrones.

The library was a dream. Wall to floor wood bookshelves were filled with nature guides, books on art and psychology and an impressive collection of National Geographic Magazine going back to 1916. I became antsy as I scanned his stacks and wondered who he was and what his life was like.  Was he happy and content or chasing something elusive all over the world. There was no sign of a wife or children. Was he single, gay, or did his wife die years earlier and all traces of her were already wiped clean?

We found his makeshift office with an electric typewriter and filing cabinet tucked into a corner. His name was Arthur Blood. And he was a psychiatrist. I did a little research and found out that if he is still alive, he is 93 years old.

It was all interesting and made me think about the stories we invent about each other. And we do it all the time, don't we? I created a character while touring this house that was adventurous, mentally vibrant and connected to a community through his patients and the friends that he entertained. I felt better knowing this "type" of person existed in the world. And there were certain parts of his life I very much wanted to emulate.

But all of this could be completely false. He could have been a monster. A horrible traveller and small minded bigot.

Who knows? And in a way, who cares? Maybe we all exist as a roles in stories that others need us to fill in order to construct their own story. We are just layer upon layer of stories, fables, myths and poems to each other.

And when you realize that, and start listening closely to the text pour out all around you, life becomes complicated and more clear than ever. Try listening to the reading, writing and creating all around you. There are volumes of origami-ed pages strewn in your path.

And tell me. What would your end of life estate sale look like? How would people read the artifacts of your life? What story would you tell?


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